Before They Are Hanged (First Law #2)

1591026415-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The middle chapter of The First Law trilogy is a fun mixture of epic journeys, brutal battles, political intrigue, and yes even sex (unfortunately).  Joe Abercrombie after leading all his flawed and well written characters to Adua in The Blade Itself, he sent them all far away from the middle continent of his world.  The epic journey of Bayaz, Logen, Ferro, and Jezal across the Old Empire on their way to the Edge of the World is given all the sense of an epic quest that sees all four change in their views of themselves but to the others as well.  Inquisitor, now Superior, Glokta journeys to Dagoska to find out what happened to his predecessor and to defend the city from the Gurkish any way he can while looking over his shoulder for the stab in the back he always expects is coming but is continually surprised when it never happens.  Up North, Logen’s former crew join up with Collem West and together they attempt to fight off Bethod’s invasion of Angland facing challenges none of them expected including dealing with the burden of leadership.  Abercrombie surprises fantasy fans, even those use to the twist and turns of G.R.R. Martin, by how he spins the three main story arcs in this book, especially the ending to the ‘epic quest’ led by Bayaz.  However it’s the characters that even really makes one not want to set down this book and that’s why this book is so good.

First Law

Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles

baee3223645f4a6596939456751444341587343Fighting for the Press by James C. Goodale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this book via Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review.

Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles is a first-hand account by James C. Goodale of The New York Times’ battle against Richard Nixon’s Department of Justice for the right to publish the Pentagon Papers.  At the time Goodale was the Times’ general counsel and lead architect of the legal strategy the Times’ lawyers used in the First Amendment cases which included the Pentagon Papers.  Goodale’s first-hand knowledge not only of the case, but of the events leading up to the case gave extreme weight to this book.

Goodale lays the foundation of the Times’ strategy in the Papers case by discussing the case of Times’ reporter Earl Caldwell and the reasons for the newspapers fight against the Department of Justice’s subpoena for his sources.  As that Caldwell’s case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, Goodale along with the Times’ editorial staff and management confronted the issue of the Pentagon Papers.  Goodale’s account of arguments with the Times’ management and the Times’ own lawyers before and at the beginning of the case brings a whole new dimension to the history of the case.  The day-by-day account of the Times’ Pentagon Paper case’s nine-day journey to the U.S. Supreme Court and the actions by the government from Goodale’s point-of-view are equally riveting as well as the reaction to their Supreme Court victory.

The last quarter of the book, Goodale gives a history of First Amendment cases after the Pentagon Papers including the Caldwell case.  It isn’t until the last two chapters that Goodale takes a look of the environment of government-press relations surrounding the Pentagon Papers to the current War on Terrorism under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.  Though solid compare and contrast between the actions of the Nixon DOJ to those under Bush and Obama, Goodale attempts to shift the main thrust of his book from the Pentagon Paper case to the current government related actions concerning the freedom of press in a lurch, which is a tad confusing to the reader and harms the overall quality of the book.

As an author James C. Goodale, quickly and openly expressed bias that might show within the pages of this book outside of his occupation as the Times’ general counsel.  Self-describing himself as part of the ‘Eastern Establishment’ and politically opposed to Richard Nixon, Goodale gives the reader fair warning as to overall assessment of the political environment in the early 1970s.  With this in mind, Goodale gives an overview of the times which those lived through, or were well read in, the period would easily understand but tad harder for those less knowledgeable.  The legal terms and procedures were well explained by Goodale for the reader and kept the text easy to follow.

Fighting for the Press is a book not only about an important case in American legal and journalistic history for the general reader, but most importantly for historians and journalists.  While this book is excellent for a student of history, it is to journalists and journalism students that I greatly recommend this book.  If Goodale’s purpose was to give journalists a history and knowledge of their First Amendment rights and continual challenges, he succeeded without question.

Richard the Third

c710c303cf54cfa5975506d7041444341587343Richard the Third by Paul Murray Kendall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paul Murray Kendall’s Richard the Third is a readable biographical introduction of the last Plantagenet King of England that for many only comes to mind as the sinister hunchback of Shakespeare. Even though over 50 years worth of research has outdated some of Kendall’s evidence, his overall body of work gives the reader a truer glimpse of Richard the man than from Richard the arch villain. From the outset, Kendall informs his reader of personal interpretations he has made from evidence through the use of starred (*) references within the text with explanations in the Notes after the main body of text. Kendall does tackle the death of the Princes in the first Appendix as he feels a discussion within the text itself would not be proper, which given the subject seems to be the correct course. Although Kendall believes that Richard was not responsible for the death of his nephews, in fact believing the evidence points to the Duke of Buckingham as instigator if not actual culprit, but Kendall does acknowledge that Richard might have in some way acquiesced and ultimately believed he was at fault through taking the throne. In the second appendix Kendall gives a historiography surrounding Richard of over the centuries until the publication of his book, which he hopes to be a moderate addition instead of “revisionist.” Although the writing and pace are a little dated, Kendall’s book is a fine introduction to Richard the man.

The Princes in the Tower