The Girl Who Played With Fire (Millennium #2)

The Girl Who Played With Fire (Millennium #2)The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Stieg Larsson’s THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, the second installment in his Millennium Trilogy, it opens with protagonists Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander world’s apart, literally.  But just like THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, both Blomkvist and Salander are drawn together in a riveting mystery in which one is aiming to avenge the injustice of her life and the other looking to save her even if she doesn’t him to.  The addition of old and new characters to help define give depth to not only the mystery but the dimensions of the fascinating dark version of Sweden that Larsson conceived.

For the first quarter to a third of the book, the stage is set for the event that launches the action for the rest of the book.  Though at times it is slow, Larsson’s execution after the “event” shows the genius of that stage setting.  For significant portion of the middle of the book Salander is not heard from making the reader wonder what her true roll in the “event” was.  In the meantime, the reader follows the police, Blomkvist, and others as they react to the “event” until Salander shows up once again and things really start to get interesting as not only do we find out what happened to her during the “event” but also the explanation of her life before THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO.

Although I was a tad annoyed with all the build up at the beginning of the book, Larsson’s seemingly non-stop pace throughout the rest of the book more than makes up for it.  THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE is a amazing middle installment to this trilogy, building not only what came before but also setting the stage for what promises to be a fantastic finale.

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The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

The Rise of Theodore RooseveltThe Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the early afternoon of September 13, 1901, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was eating lunch on his descent from the top of Mount Marcy where he no doubt had contemplated his future not only in politics but in life.  Now just hours after possibly concluding that his political fortunes would descend as he would from the mountain top, a ranger baring a yellow telegram message came into view that would mark the end of “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt” not in political obscurity but it’s mountain top.

Edmund Morris ended the first volume of his biography of Theodore Roosevelt on the cusp of becoming President of the United States after detailing Roosevelt’s life to that point from his birth in October 1858.  Along the way, Morris shows the development of Roosevelt’s views from youth to maturity, in life and in politics.  While descriptive and showing fascination with his subject, Morris does not gush upon Roosevelt forgiveness when confronted with demeaning views, speeches, and writings that to the 21st century would raise our eyebrows.

The detail Morris shows in this biography on almost a daily basis bring Roosevelt to life, first as a unhealthy child who fascination for learning about the natural world was cultivated by his father who also encourage him to build up his body as well as his mind.  Roosevelt’s transformation from a fashionable dandy undergraduate at Harvard yearn for reform in politics into the political Rough Rider that was about to assume the Presidency is a long process that Morris shows the reader so well, the reader doesn’t realize it until almost the end of the volume.

From seeing Roosevelt at the height of his power in the prologue then see his rise, both slow and meteoric, through the epilogue, Morris hooks the reader in and makes them eagerly anticipate what will be seen on the next page.  I can not recommend enough “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt” by Edmund Morris to every student of history and to anyone who loves political biographies.

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