Von Braun Review

Although I’d long desired to find a biography of Werner Von Braun, one of the more complex and mysterious figures of early rocketry, most of the treatments I found seemed unlikely to provide the kind of detail and depth of analysis that I was seeking, so when I came upon a biography of him that was consistently billed as the best study yet done of him and his history, I was optimistic enough to add it to my reading list, and excited enough by its possibilities to read it within a year of its addition.

Agesilaus Review

While other works of Xenophon's have taken me a week or even longer to get through, I finished this one in just a night, and it wasn't even the only thing that I read that evening. Agesilaus is a biography of the titular Spartan king, and unlike Xenophon's "biography" of Cyrus the Great, is thought to be fairly accurate historically, if very brief, and somewhat biased. Where a modern biographer often goes out of his or her way to find "dirt" on their subject, highlighting their shortcomings and failures no matter how respected and revered a figure they might be, or how significant of feats they might have accomplished, it has been more common in history to write biographies that are meant to praise a figure and elucidate the person's admirable traits, that others might follow suit. Xenophon certainly falls into the latter category, and his effusive praise for Agesilaus renders him as a veritable paragon of virtue, representative of every admirable characteristic and quite devoid of any flaws of blemishes.

The Accidental President Review

Most of the time, when I read biographies, they're thick, heavy pieces that cover in great detail every year of a person's life, from the time their born to the time they die. Although some eras of that life are inevitably covered in more detail than others, since there is simply more information and more to discuss, the level of detail is generally fairly consistent. This is certainly the case with most of Chernow's biographies, of which I am very fond. With The Accidental President, however, we are presented with an incredibly zoomed-in view of, as the subtitle suggests, the first four months of Truman's presidency.

James Monroe: A Life Review

Sometimes it's interesting to read a biography of a lesser-known historical figure, like President James Monroe. He was the last of the American Founding Fathers to serve as president, yet almost nothing has survived into the common body of modern knowledge about him. Perhaps this McGrath biography will change that.

The Truth

I don't remember precisely where I heard the phrase, or if I came up with it myself, but I've long enjoyed referring to myself, in a writing sense, as someone who tells lies and gets paid for it. Admittedly, I haven't managed the getting paid for it part yet, but hopefully that will come with more effort on my part. Unfortunately, this would-be professional liar is now confronted with the difficult task of being truthful.