Saturday, September 30, 2017

Review of "Uncle Bert: A Biographical Portrait of Herbert Hoover," by Hulda Hoover McLean

Review of
Uncle Bert: A Biographical Portrait of Herbert Hoover, by Hulda Hoover McLean

Four out of five stars
 As the title implies, this short work was written by a niece of President Herbert Hoover. As one would expect given the familial ties, the coverage of Hoover is extremely positive. That is not to say that it is all dull though, some of the points made about Franklin Roosevelt and his unwillingness to work with the outgoing Hoover administration to alleviate some of the worst of the Great Depression are spot on.
 Given the context, there are a few points made in the 43 pages that only a family member could make. Which is a high point of the book and consistent with what other works have said about Herbert Hoover the man. In many ways he was the most accomplished person to ever be the American President, his work in famine relief saved tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people from death by starvation. If you accept the concept of the authorship of a niece with no grudge, then this is a good book.

Review of "Babe Ruth: His Story in Baseball," by Lee Allen

Review of
Babe Ruth: His Story in Baseball, by Lee Allen

Three out of five stars
 This book conforms to the generally laudatory class of biographies of sports stars that were written before “tell-all” became a writing tactic rather than a marketing ploy. There is the occasional mention of Ruth eating a lot and staying out late, but almost no explanation of why. Ruth’s experiences with wine and women are simply not mentioned. There is also very little mentioned of his family life, although much is made about Ruth’s positive relations with the children around baseball.
 This is a book about a sports legend where the time of such literary tactics has passed. Ruth truly changed the game, it is hard to see where someone could ever again be so statistically dominant in a major sport. Even though I have followed baseball for decades, it is still astonishing to learn that there were seasons when Babe Ruth personally had more home runs than many entire teams, even when their statistics include inside-the-park homers. In this book, his flaws are generally ignored.

Review of "Science Fiction Adventures Magazine," August, 1957

Review of
Science Fiction Adventures Magazine, August, 1957

Four out of five stars
It is always interesting to go back and read stories in science fiction magazines published in the fifties. There are occasional hints at sexual innuendo, but it only reaches the lowest level. This issue contains three lengthy stories between thirty and forty pages long. They are “This World Must Die!” by Ivar Jorgenson, “Alien Night,” by Thomas N. Scortia and “Forbidden Cargo,” by Harlan Ellison.
 In the first one, the human computers have predicted that there will eventually be a war between the planet Lurion and Earth. Therefore, there is to be a pre-emptive action where five human men will land on the planet and by setting up vibrations in precise locations, cause the planet to disintegrate. Loy Gardner is the leader of the human team and he experiences uncertainty as to whether it is truly necessary for the planet to be executed.
 The story by Harlan Ellison is clearly the best of the three, Fargo Jeffers is an independent and neutral captain of an interstellar ship and he is hired to ferry the corpses of soldiers killed in the recently victorious war where the humans devastated the planet of their adversaries. After he takes the job from a disgustingly obese and self-serving officer, he discovers that there is a great deal more to this job than even he anticipated.
 “Alien Night” is based on humanity achieving immortality with a computer network that recognizes suicidal thoughts and knocks the person out before they can act on them. Death is extremely rare and due to the truly bizarre and freakish accident. The main character is forced to deal with disruptive time travelers and others bent on civil disorder and neither plot device is skillfully carried out. It was a very weak story and it was not easy to remain focused in my reading was complete.