Backlist Nonfiction in Mini-Reviews

January 3, 2018 Uncategorized 4

Backlist Nonfiction in Mini-ReviewsTitle: American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst
Author: Jeffrey Toobin
Rating: three-stars

Although the Patty Hearst kidnapping is famous and should make for exciting reading, it actually wasn’t a great story. Neither the kidnappers nor the FBI really knew what they were doing, so the narrative lacked any forward drive. The case just dragged on rather than feeling suspenseful. The author did clearly do her research, using fascinating first-person sources. The historical context was interesting as well. The author also did a good job presenting a balanced view of whether Patty’s choice to join her kidnappers made her a criminal or simply someone making the best of a bad situation. However, the character backstories were inserted in way that made the story feel disjointed. The author also stumbled a little talking about LGBT characters, describing one woman as a ‘militant lesbian’ when she was actually bisexual and describing someone else as ‘becoming a lesbian’. A good book, but not great.

Backlist Nonfiction in Mini-ReviewsTitle: Chasing Phil: The Adventures of Two Undercover Agents with the World's Most Charming Con Man
Author: David Howard
Rating: three-stars

This tale of FBI agents going undercover to catch a conman would make a fabulous movie, but as a book, it wasn’t as suspenseful as I would have liked. It sometimes got bogged down in the financial details of Phil’s crimes. There either needed to be more explanation, so I could understand what he was up to, or I’d have preferred the author gloss over the details entirely The writing style didn’t make enough of the fantastic, tense moments where reality was exciting as anything you could make up. This was a fun read, but also not a great one.

Backlist Nonfiction in Mini-ReviewsTitle: From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death
Author: Caitlin Doughty
Rating: three-stars

I hate to be all negative today, but I can’t say I was blown away by this book either! I loved Caitlin Doughty’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, so I was excited to check out her sophomore effort. It was an engaging story, which (following Birding Without Borders) has further convinced me that I enjoy travelogues. The author’s experiences were very cool. However, this book was much lighter than her previous book. As a thoughtful examination of our death rituals, it didn’t break much new ground compared to her previous book and that aspect was secondary to her travel stories. I would recommend checking out Doughty’s first book instead 🙂

4 Responses to “Backlist Nonfiction in Mini-Reviews”

  1. Angela

    Chasing Phil sounds like a good one (and it definitely sounds like it should be a movie!), but I think all the financial stuff would go over my head. I’d probably just end up skimming a lot!

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