Here’s something new which I’ll do occasionally for things that I can’t be bothered to write full in-depth reviews of.
Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
What we have here is a fascinating set of essays of the subject of war, the use of violent force as a means of solving problems, nationalism, duty to the state, military service as the ultimate measure of a person and the effect that conflict has on the human psyche. It’s in-depth, it’s very readable and it causes you to think about these topics in a different way. Heinlein is convincing, passionate and rational in his views.
And in the middle of all of that, he throws in some stuff about giant bugs for some reason.
Excellent bunch of treatises, god-awful sci-fi plot. Ignore the final 100 pages. Other than that, fantastic.
Toy Story 3
Surprisingly depressing for what is, at heart, supposed to be a kids movie. The overall theme: life sucks and you better get used to it. Laughs not as frequent as you would expect, though the CGI and voice acting remain top-notch.
The plot is somewhat weak, it drags on a little too long and the ending is overly sentimental. Nice diverse set of characters however, though the main two steal most of the screen time.
Seriously, they even have the dog getting old and unhealthy. It’s like the Pixar version of “Hey Kids, here’s all the ways the horrible truths you’ll be exposed to as you grow up in just 100 minutes”.
The Face of Battle by John Keegan
One of the best texts on military history, that has helped to define the idea of “battle-study” as we view it today. Keegan comes up with an engaging, flowing account and analysis of three crucial battles – Agincourt, Waterloo and the first day of the Somme – and what they can tell us about what battle entails, its dangers, its hardships, and what things remain similar throughout the ages. Of particular note is Keegan’s look at the individual engagements of each battle and how they affected the battle as a whole, and the modern perception of those battles.
Easily accessible, Keegan demonstrates his knowledge and his flair for historical writing from start to finish. A book that no military historian can ignore.
Guerilla by David Rooney
What appears to be an interesting, but straightforward, general history of guerilla wars and fighters throughout history from the Maccabees to the Taliban. Rooney picks some of the more interesting examples of the “little war” idea, expands upon them, linking in the narrative with an overall analysis of the evolution of guerilla tactics.
All well and good, until I got to the chapter on Michael Collins, noting a string of incorrect facts, wild suppositions and vague, rumor based stuff about Irish history. As such, the credibility of the author and his thoughts are tarnished in my eyes, since he didn’t think enough of Irish history to do some basic fact-checking. One to avoid.
I used to have a copy of Starship Troopers. Then I lent it to Paddy. I don’t think he even read it, but he surely lost it.
It’s a good read, but the actual plot is just…well, really feels like the author threw it together at the last second, like he suddenly realised his book had to have some sci-fi in it.