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  • J. A. Thompson - WHICH MAN FOR ALL SEASONS?As a retired professional historian, I feel like I understand the entire Tudor period better after having read this book. Ms. Mantel has a gift for bringing personalities and their world to life that is generally beyond the talent of most historians. But I would say that the reader should not start with this book. Read "Wolf Hall" first. Ms. Mantel has created a plausible and even admirable historical persona for Thomas Cromwell who is known as Henry VIII"s "hatchet man" who managed the English Reformation in Parliament. She also gives a completely different slant to the character of Thomas More, who was canonized by the Catholic Church for his defiance of Henry VIII. Instead of the "man for all seasons" of Robert Bolt's play and the subsequent movie version (played best by Paul Scofield), More is portrayed as an extremist who tortured and killed men and women of the new reformed faith and thus later got something of what he deserved. The early history of other major players in the religious conflicts of 16th century England is also intertwined in the lives of Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More. Thomas, Cardinal Wolsey was originally Cromwell's patron and employer. Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury who gave Henry VIII what he could not get from Rome --- a divorce from his first wife Katherine of Aragon ---- was, like Cromwell, sympathetic to the new ideas of the Reformed faith. Both of them were often put into dangerous political and social perils by their connections to the new queen Anne Boleyn. Stephen Gardiner who will play a larger role in the reign of Henry VIII's daughter ("Bloody") Mary is also one of the men Cromwell and Cranmer had to politically thwart in this period to stay alive.

    In the end (which should be in the forthcoming third book of this trilogy), Thomas Cromwell will meet the same end as Thomas More. He will be executed for his "offenses" toward Henry. But what strikes me most is that Cromwell was the champion of the common man of England, and the nobility around Henry's court never let him forget it. Being "common" he was expendable in the same way Anne Boleyn was.

    But in the next century, almost in poetic and historical justice, it is Thomas Cromwell's descendant, Oliver Cromwell, who will teach the English crown that the rights of "freeborn" Englishman and their representation in the institution of Parliament are not to be trampled. It will be Charles I and later James II who pay for the arbitrary way justice was dispensed to individuals high and low in earlier periods. So, one can rightly see the subject of these books, Thomas Cromwell, as a much better "man for all seasons." He tried to balance serving his King with his concern for the common people around him who often fed at his table.
  • Geekout2 - Great, Stylish Protection for My Old Macbook ProI don't normally cover up my beautiful Macs, but I am using this on my old Macbook Pro. We recently transitioned to and Electronic Health Record and I hated the tablet the company gave me to use to see patients. I currently use my Macbook air as my primary laptop, so I decided to use my old MacBook Pro instead. I take it in and out of patients' rooms all day long and didn't want to damage by this increased use. This is an ideal solution. It fits perfectly and is securely attached. It's BLACK!!! You can still see the Apply logo on the laptop lid through this cover. I'm very pleased with this cover. I highly recommend it. Besides, the price was unbeatable.
  • Gary F. Taylor "GFT" - Is There Anybody Out There? Glitchy, Flawed, and Masterful"Album oriented music" refers to the idea that an album should not be evaluated on the basis of any single selection, but on the basis of the collection as a whole. It was a notion that went hand-in-glove with the idea of "concept album," in which every single selection was in some way related to every other selection in the collection. "Rock opera," which involved piecing together selections to create a narrative, was not too terribly far behind--and a double album release was considered a test of creativity, prestige, and the ultimate marketing coup. All four of these were signature ideas of 1970s popular music, and all four reached a final critical mass Pink Floyd's 1979 THE WALL, which put a punctuation mark to decade before the on-rush of the excessive synthesizers and flashy music videos that characterized much of the 1980s.

    Most bands go through cycles in which the musical ideas of one particular bandmate overrides those of the others--and in the late 1970s Pink Floyd fell under the near-absolute domination of Roger Waters. Originally given to psychedelia and progressive styles, and often tinged with a certain meloncholia, Pink Floyd became darker still, with the 1979 THE WALL the ultimate result. So ultimate, in fact, that Waters left the band shortly thereafter, declaring that Pink Floyd had run its course. As it happened, he was greatly mistaken: although he was no longer a part of it, the band continued on with significant success.

    Although it received broad critical approval and sold extremely well, THE WALL was not immune to criticism even in 1979. Then as now, it was a work that you either really liked or disliked--and a good many of those who disliked it were Pink Floyd fans who had been so enthusiastic about the band up to that point. It was, they complained, musically bloated and the story it told was trival. I myself, eighteen when THE WALL was first released, was not particularly enthusiastic about it, and for exactly those reason. Over time, however, my opinion has shifted.

    It is indeed musically bloated. I suspect this actually arises from the techology of the day. In 1979 record buyers expected each side of an vinyl album to run at least twenty, twenty-five minutes, and the entire album forty-five minutes to an hour. Anything less and the buyer felt shorted. Even at this run time most albums contained significant filler, songs that weren't necessarily bad but which didn't measure up to the best of the cuts. It logically followed that a double album would have double the music--and there indeed are a number of points in THE WALL where one feels the music has been spread a bit thin with repetitions designed to meet the quota of minutes the format required.

    The story is indeed trivial--but only if you regard it in the way you have been told to do so. When THE WALL was first released, a great many critics focused on the narrative element and rushed to tell us all about it. THE WALL is about a rock star named Pink Floyd. His father was killed in the war. His mother was suffocating. His school years were hell. His wife left him. The pain cuts him off from the world and now he uses drugs and alcohol that drive him into a personal chaos which he himself ultimately condemns. Yep: that's THE WALL. Okay, sure.

    But THE WALL is not a narrative in the sense that it starts at point A and continues on to point Z, and if that is what you expect you are bound to be disappointed. It presents its events with a certain randomness, touching upon one, detailing another, returning to the first, flashing back and forth between traumas in what seems to be a drug-laced and nightmarish confusion. The album famously opens with what can only be described as a classic stadium-rock sound--only to collapse suddenly into a plaintive, often industrial sounding series of vignettes that speak of man and the machine. Selections float to the surface of this wash: "Mother," "Goodbye Blue Sky," "Young Lust," "Hey You," "Nobody Home," "Comfortably Numb," "Run Like Hell," all of them bitter, angry, despairing, with snips of sound and phrases and melody that reference each other in much the way a tangled mind might.

    The great failing of THE WALL, at least in my opinion, is in the last few minutes of the recording, when the rock star suddenly jolts into a fit of self-evaluation and self-condemnation in a serio-comic sort of way. I've always found this bit a little forced, and I think the overall concept would have been better served with a more direct build toward the same anthem-like statement that opened the album. But I have to say that, all things considered, this is a trivial complaint; while THE WALL may be flawed, and while its easy to second guess the band that created it, it hangs together remarkably, exceptionally, extraordinarily well.

    Bleak? You bet. Glitchy? And how. Flawed? Absolutely. Does any of this undercut its singular value? Not hardly. Worth the cost? And then some.

    GFT, Amazon Reviewer
  • Phyllis T. Smith - So far so goodThis was easy to install and after 3 months seems to be working fine. I have had good luck over a number of years with McAffee virus protection products. This and Norton seem to be the standard--they have both worked fine for me. Can't say which I prefer since I have never had a virus on my computer with either one. If you are going to need to protect several devices this seems a good choice. I will update if there are any problems but so far none at all.
  • Barbara Grosh - So InfuriatingDave Eggers does a great job of putting us into the life of Kathy and Abdulrahmin Zeitoun. They are the salt of the earth, what America is built on. Zeitoun was doing heroic things after Hurricane Katrina, saving people, caring for property, feeding dogs. And then he fell into the black hole of American paranoia. We're left pondering how we can live with a bureaucracy that couldn't plan for caring for people after a storm but could build a Guantanomo-style prison while the city was still under water. How did it come to this? This is not the America we want. I think of Zeitoun who's still building houses in New Orleans and drives by his place of detention frequently, and the strength of character it takes. I'm glad that the royalties for this book will go to a good foundation. I'm sharing the book with family members to try to infect them with the compassion that Eggers and the Zeitouns show.