What book(s) are you currently reading?

green2623

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Feb 18, 2014
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Just finished, The System, by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian, the glory and scandal of big time college football. Good read, only two small paragraphs about jerry. Enjoyed.

The Cosmic Serpent, DNA, and the origin of knowledge, a anthy book on the use of hallucinogens, shamanism, and knowledge in the Amazonian rainforest. A treatise on how knowledge is absorbed through shamanistic practise. Intriguing and speculative on healing practices and what our dna can teach us.

And finally The Dark Net, by Jamie Bartlett, stories about the beginning and history of the web, interesting in it talks about the original boards and people that started the messenger and sales platforms and controversies of use the web as a sales and distribution platform on the early days of the web.

Currently reading, Galileo's Error, foundations for a new science of consciousness.
 

kgilbert78

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Apr 9, 2013
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I got to see him speak once. At his Alma Mater...
 

Aardvark86

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Jan 23, 2018
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So the antidote is very good.

next up: jaroslav pelikan’s “Mary through the centuries”.
 

MontereyLion

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May 29, 2001
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Why Gold? Why Now? By E.B.Tucker. I have jury duty on Tuesday. Something to pass the time.
 

mfb5053

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Jan 15, 2017
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Well, I bit the bullet, purchased this book and can not put it down. Have learned a lot already and the nuanced intrigue is fascinating. Will provide final review when complete.

So many twists and turns in the book. I forgot that I was reading historical non-fiction. The author does an amazing job of character development that you begin to feel sympathetic for murderous sociopaths, until they show their true colors.
 

john4psu

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Sep 7, 2003
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True Compass Edward Kennedy
The Majors John Feinstein
Stranger in a Strange Land Robert Heinlein
 

nittanyfan333

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Aug 30, 2010
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Wife gave me “The Lions Gate” by Steven Pressfield for Christmas. About the 6 days war. Anyone read this one? Looking forward to it.
 

LionJim

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Oct 8, 2003
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Can anyone recommend a good biography on George Shultz?
That would be a great read. I am thinking of re-reading Robert Caro’s four-going-on-five-volume biography of LBJ. I have read the first two volumes. I am very familiar with the first volume, and it is stunning.

George Schultz, a great American.

What about George Marshall? Is there a consensus on the best biography of General Marshall? McCullough had a lot to say about him in his biography of Truman.
 

LionJim

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Oct 8, 2003
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I spent my senior year reading Soviet camp novels, including that. Enough for one lifetime.
Yeah, Solzhenitsyn is hard to take. Of his novels, The First Circle is splendid. Privileged prisoners in the Gulag offer up a take one doesn’t normally get to see, and it works brilliantly. The characters are so extraordinarily well developed and it brings to the story some real power, raw and desperate. I can re-read it. In fact, I haven’t read it for a decade, thereabouts, so I’ll put it on my list. (Already have a copy.)
 

ericstratton-rushchairman

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May 20, 2005
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That would be a great read. I am thinking of re-reading Robert Caro’s four-going-on-five-volume biography of LBJ. I have read the first two volumes. I am very familiar with the first volume, and it is stunning.

George Schultz, a great American.

What about George Marshall? Is there a consensus on the best biography of General Marshall? McCullough had a lot to say about him in his biography of Truman.
Every January I build my reading list for the coming year. I press myself to read 6-8 books in each of 4 categories... fiction, non-fiction (bios and history mostly), personal development, and professional development. I try and identify at least 4 of the books in each category at the beginning of the year. I figured since George Shultz just turned 100 I'd put a bio on him on the list. Marshall would be a great bio to que up as well.
 
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Aardvark86

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Jan 23, 2018
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Yeah, Solzhenitsyn is hard to take. Of his novels, The First Circle is splendid. Privileged prisoners in the Gulag offer up a take one doesn’t normally get to see, and it works brilliantly. The characters are so extraordinarily well developed and it brings to the story some real power, raw and desperate. I can re-read it. In fact, I haven’t read it for a decade, thereabouts, so I’ll put it on my list. (Already have a copy.)
If going Russian, go master and margarita
 
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LionJim

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Yeah, Solzhenitsyn is hard to take. Of his novels, The First Circle is splendid. Privileged prisoners in the Gulag offer up a take one doesn’t normally get to see, and it works brilliantly. The characters are so extraordinarily well developed and it brings to the story some real power, raw and desperate. I can re-read it. In fact, I haven’t read it for a decade, thereabouts, so I’ll put it on my list. (Already have a copy.)
More about The First Circle: Stalin is a character in the book, and his flunkies. Totally believable.
 

Tom McAndrew

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May 29, 2001
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I started this book some time ago, but kept having to stop due to having to complete other books by certain deadlines. I finally completed it earlier today.

It's written by a lawyer, and is his fifth book about an aspect of the Revolutionary War. He gives a lawyerly analysis to the court-martial of Gen. Charles Lee, who was the #2 general (at the time of his court-martial) amongst the Patriot forces in the Revolutionary War. McBurney, with his lawyerly attention to detail and analytic skills, shows that while Lee was charged with three counts in his court-martial, and convicted of all three, he was innocent of two of the charges, and the third charge could have been avoided if either Gen. Washington or Gen. Lee, or their underlings, had held discussions in the days following the Battle of Monmouth, as each was operating on a good deal of misinformation.

Gen. Lee was a difficult person away from the battlefield. He alienated a lot of the other officers in the Patriot army, as well as many members of the Continental Congress. This appears to have played a big part in his being found guilty of all three charges.

While McBurney is sympathetic of Gen. Lee in his analysis of his court martial, he reaches a far different conclusion about the actions of Gen. Lee while he was a prisoner of the British in from late in 1776 until virtually the end of 1777. While a captive in NYC, Gen. Lee decided that the Patriots could not defeat the British (they lost pretty much every battle in 1776 until the Battle of Trenton in late December of the year), and he passed along plans to Gen. Howe on how the British could defeat the Patriot forces. This was a treasonous act, for which the known penalty was death. Neither Gen. Lee (not surprisingly) nor the British generals, ever disclosed this act, and it was not discovered by historians until nearly 100 years after the fact.

McBurney is a good writer who deals more with facts, and doesn't make sweeping generalizations. I liked his earlier books on the Rev War, and not surprisingly, found this book to be very interesting. Gen. Charles Lee was a very complicated figure, and McBurney does a nice job of parsing through facts, and presenting the best analysis I've read on Gen. Lee's court-martial, as well as his actions as a prisoner.
 

LionJim

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Oct 8, 2003
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I somehow found myself re-reading Yeats' Meditations in Time of Civil War, 1923.

We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart's grown brutal from the fare;
More substance in our enmities
Than in our love...

220px-William_Butler_Yeats_by_George_Charles_Beresford.jpg
 
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Alphabets

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I somehow found myself re-reading Yeats' Meditations in Time of Civil War, 1923.

We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart's grown brutal from the fare;
More substance in our enmities
Than in our love...

220px-William_Butler_Yeats_by_George_Charles_Beresford.jpg

Figured you'd appreciate what I just started, Jim:

41ajUdcTngL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
 
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MacNit07

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It’s a sad, ugly story. I am sure you will learn much from this book.
Finished the book a couple of days ago. It was excellent and stunning at the same time. I now want to to learn more about the origins of the conflict.

It was “un-put-downable” - very well written. The book was stunning as the author described the ruthless cruelty and depravity exhibited by two highly evolved, western societies and close ethnic brothers. Shocking.
 

LionJim

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Oct 8, 2003
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Finished the book a couple of days ago. It was excellent and stunning at the same time. I now want to to learn more about the origins of the conflict.

It was “un-put-downable” - very well written. The book was stunning as the author described the ruthless cruelty and depravity exhibited by two highly evolved, western societies and close ethnic brothers. Shocking.
I wanted to highlight this, as it succulently describes the ugly reality of the Irish Civil War.

Extremely well phrased, this.
This is Yeats, in Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen, on Irish life during the Civil War.

We too had many pretty toys when young;
A law indifferent to blame or praise,
To bribe or threat; habits that made old wrong
Melt down, as it were wax in the sun's rays;
Public opinion ripening for so long
We thought it would outlive all future days.
O what fine thought we had because we thought
That the worst rogues and rascals had died out.

...

Now days are dragon-ridden, the nightmare
Rides upon sleep: a drunken soldiery
Can leave the mother, murdered at her door,
To crawl in her own blood, and go scot-free;
The night can sweat with terror as before
We pieced our thoughts into philosophy,
And planned to bring the world under a rule,
Who are but weasels fighting in a hole.
 
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Tom McAndrew

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May 29, 2001
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I finished this book earlier this week. Quite frankly, I was disappointed.

I dislike when book titles don't accurately reflect the contents of the book. I realize that publishers often dictate the titles of books, even over the author's objection, but still, the title of this book is somewhat inaccurate. The book covers a period from before the Rev War, and spans all the way into Madison's administration in 1813/4.

Plus, while the book identified a number of individuals that paid for the Rev War, as well as some that profited from the Rev War, the details it provided about these individuals was somewhat lacking, as the book more focused on the larger picture (issues with the Continental Congress, then the Congress, then within the Washington, Adams, etc. administrations, etc.). I felt it should have spent far fewer pages establishing the issue, and then quite a few pages, and provided far more detail, on the individuals that paid for or profited from the situation.

As if that isn't enough, the author, Tom Shachtman, makes a number of sweeping statements about various aspects or incidents that took place in the pre-Rev War era, during the Rev War, in the years leading up to the Constitutional Convention, and the Washington and Adams administrations that were either inaccurate, or omitted major nuances of the aspect or situation being addressed.

It wasn't a total waste of my time, as I did pick up some pieces of information from reading the book.

Tom Shachtman is not a historian, but he is a good writer. I'm not exactly sure where the problems started with this, as there were several researchers that worked on it with the author, and he Notes section has an impressive number of books, letters, etc. that it references for factual information. Non-Historians have written some amazing history books. In many cases, they do a great job of synthesizing historical facts with excellent writing technique, and produce books that are popular with the public as well as historians. This book, IMHO, does not reach that threshold.

After the above glowing report, it should not surprise anyone that I do not recommend this book. :(
 

ericstratton-rushchairman

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May 20, 2005
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Finished the book a couple of days ago. It was excellent and stunning at the same time. I now want to to learn more about the origins of the conflict.

It was “un-put-downable” - very well written. The book was stunning as the author described the ruthless cruelty and depravity exhibited by two highly evolved, western societies and close ethnic brothers. Shocking.
This is an excellent book that weaves in Irish history in the mid 19th century as well as the American Civil War.

719O2egUlcL.jpg
 

PSUQBKeeper

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Dec 11, 2016
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just finished The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist......kind of depressing so I am going to go back to Daryl Gregory and read The Devil's Alphabet

71wD5kifOUL.jpg

9780345501172_p0_v1_s550x406.jpg
 

Tom McAndrew

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May 29, 2001
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I finished War at Saber Point: Banastre Tarleton and the British Legion last week. Banastre Tarleton, an English officer, is one of the more controversial figures in the Revolutionary War. Nicknamed Bloody Ban for his actions, and infamous for Tarleton's Quarter -- a term used in South Carolina where Tarleton and his British Legion killed a large number of Continental Army members after they had surrendered at the Battle of Waxhaws (also called the Waxhaws Massacre).

The book is written by an Englander, John Knight. He's written a number of articles about the American Revolution, but this is his first book about the subject. Knight is an interesting person, in that he splits time between Nottingham, England and Duchess County, New York. Perhaps stemming from his split habitation, or perhaps stemming from his degree in history (I don't 'know which), Knight gives a pretty balanced look at Tarleton -- something that's tough to do, as so many people have strong feelings about him.

The book is also about Tarleton's forces during the Southern Campaign, the British Legion. These forces were almost exclusively comprised of loyalists, with the bulk of them being comprised of men from the New York (city) area, as well as men from the Philadelphia region. They were an interesting group of men, who for the most part seemed to feel strongly about fighting for their King.

There are a few parts of the book I'm not sure I agree with (Knight pretty much argues that Tarleton and the Swamp Fox, Francis Marion, were nearly identical in their actions, but that while Marion is glorified Tarleton is held in contempt). I'm planning to participate in an online presentation by the author this week, so perhaps I'll get some clarification on those parts of the book with which I took issue.

I wouldn't call this the definitive book about Tarleton -- I don't think that book exists. However, it does provide a good bit of detail about him, and also disproves some (not all) of the myths or legends (mostly bad) that have taken root -- mostly amongst Americans, and especially in South Carolina.

For those with an interest in Tarleton, the British Legion, or the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War, I do recommend this book.
 

Tom McAndrew

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May 29, 2001
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I finished this a few weeks ago. It was interesting, in that I never really thought of these two Founding Fathers as having a partnership. Edward J. Larson makes a good case that they did, though you could also argue that they were two Founders that just were extremely competent in their roles, which were quite different before, during, and after the American Revolution.

I'd give it a 3, possibly a 3.5, on a 5-star scale. It's well written, and was easy to read. It did have a few tacts that I had forgotten, but at least for me, there wasn't enough really new info to make this a great book.
 

Tom McAndrew

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This book has been on my list of books to read for a several years (it was released in 2015). Alas, I only recently got to it, and just finished it yesterday.

Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution, by Kathleen DuVal, was even better than I expected. It really is an outstanding book. It examines the American Revolution in West Florida, which was a British Colony, but not one of the 13 that declared independence from England in 1776. (Though they were invited, after the Declaration of Independence was signed, to join with the 13 colonies.)

DuVal looks at the war from the perspective of three Native American nations in the area, the Creek, the Chickasaws, and the Choctaw. She also examines it through the perspective of both free and enslaved Africans, as well as Acadians that had been exported to the Louisiana area and then found themselves under the control of the Spanish after the end of The French And Indian War (aka, the Seven Years War). Focusing on those perspectives would be a herculean task, but DuVal also expands the analysis to include the perspective of the Spanish, who controlled New Orleans and areas to the west of the Mississippi, the British, who controlled the West Florida and the East Florida territories (as well as were engaged in dealing with the 13 colonies that had declared independence), and lastly from the perspective of the Continental Congress's agent in New Orleans, who ended up basically financially ruined, due to his mortgaging his properties to pay for supplies for the United States for Congress, as well as for the state of Virginia, both of which had no money to pay him back.

While the colony of West Florida is the main focus of the book, it also deals with parts of what became the western part of Georgia as well as what became Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, with some small parts of the books covering areas that became Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas.

While I'm a voracious reader of books about the American Revolution, I've read very little about what took place in the area of focus in this book. In part, that's because this region wasn't part of the American Revolution. While I had a good understanding of the major events that took place in this region during the American Revolution, I found myself devouring this book as page after page of it contained information that was new to me.

DuVal is a master storyteller. She examines all of the conflicting and yet interconnected and interdependent actions that took place in this region primarily through the lives of eight individuals. I think it would be difficult to do a better job of portraying all the various competing interests than DuVal does in this book.

I'd rate this book a 5, on a 5-star scale.
 

LionJim

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Oct 8, 2003
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This book has been on my list of books to read for a several years (it was released in 2015). Alas, I only recently got to it, and just finished it yesterday.

Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution, by Kathleen DuVal, was even better than I expected. It really is an outstanding book. It examines the American Revolution in West Florida, which was a British Colony, but not one of the 13 that declared independence from England in 1776. (Though they were invited, after the Declaration of Independence was signed, to join with the 13 colonies.)

DuVal looks at the war from the perspective of three Native American nations in the area, the Creek, the Chickasaws, and the Choctaw. She also examines it through the perspective of both free and enslaved Africans, as well as Acadians that had been exported to the Louisiana area and then found themselves under the control of the Spanish after the end of The French And Indian War (aka, the Seven Years War). Focusing on those perspectives would be a herculean task, but DuVal also expands the analysis to include the perspective of the Spanish, who controlled New Orleans and areas to the west of the Mississippi, the British, who controlled the West Florida and the East Florida territories (as well as were engaged in dealing with the 13 colonies that had declared independence), and lastly from the perspective of the Continental Congress's agent in New Orleans, who ended up basically financially ruined, due to his mortgaging his properties to pay for supplies for the United States for Congress, as well as for the state of Virginia, both of which had no money to pay him back.

While the colony of West Florida is the main focus of the book, it also deals with parts of what became the western part of Georgia as well as what became Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, with some small parts of the books covering areas that became Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas.

While I'm a voracious reader of books about the American Revolution, I've read very little about what took place in the area of focus in this book. In part, that's because this region wasn't part of the American Revolution. While I had a good understanding of the major events that took place in this region during the American Revolution, I found myself devouring this book as page after page of it contained information that was new to me.

DuVal is a master storyteller. She examines all of the conflicting and yet interconnected and interdependent actions that took place in this region primarily through the lives of eight individuals. I think it would be difficult to do a better job of portraying all the various competing interests than DuVal does in this book.

I'd rate this book a 5, on a 5-star scale.
The West Florida Wiki page is quite fascinating. (No. I don’t recall hearing of West Florida as a distinct entity before having read this thread.)

 

TheBigUglies

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Jan 13, 2004
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Say Nothing: A True Story Of Murder and Memory In Northern Ireland

Just finished this book and found it fascinating(and sad). Apparently there was a secret project called the Belfast Project run in secret by a prof at Boston College where they interviewed those deep into the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 70s, 80s, 90s. They had audio recordings that when the Northern Ireland Police found out around 2010, the recordings were handed over to the Northern Ireland authorities. They were not to be released until those providing the interviews were dead(which they are at this point in time but a few were not when the tapes were released). Book is based on interviews by Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price to name a few. These two were in deep with the IRA. I never really knew how bad this period in Northern Ireland was and this book provides a lot of intimate details of the inner workings and how the British were handling things. I don't want to give away too much but if you like Irish History it is a must read.
 

GreggK

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Jan 19, 2002
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Say Nothing: A True Story Of Murder and Memory In Northern Ireland

Just finished this book and found it fascinating(and sad). Apparently there was a secret project called the Belfast Project run in secret by a prof at Boston College where they interviewed those deep into the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 70s, 80s, 90s. They had audio recordings that when the Northern Ireland Police found out around 2010, the recordings were handed over to the Northern Ireland authorities. They were not to be released until those providing the interviews were dead(which they are at this point in time but a few were not when the tapes were released). Book is based on interviews by Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price to name a few. These two were in deep with the IRA. I never really knew how bad this period in Northern Ireland was and this book provides a lot of intimate details of the inner workings and how the British were handling things. I don't want to give away too much but if you like Irish History it is a must read.

I have been wanting to read this one for some time. Although, I have heard it almost comes off as justification for occupation and also doesn’t talk much about loyalist terrorism. My family are Irish Catholics from Maghera in Derry and our sympathies lie with the oppressed.
I wonder what Brexit may have in store. Unification I hope.
 
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TheBigUglies

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I have been wanting to read this one for some time. Although, I have heard it almost comes off as justification for occupation and also doesn’t talk much about loyalist terrorism. My family are Irish Catholics from Maghera in Derry and our sympathies lie with the oppressed.
I wonder what Brexit may have in store. Unification I hope.

I didn't get that feeling that it was justifying the occupation. I don't want to spoil anything for you and you should read it. I am Irish Catholic as well(bad catholic these days). My ancestors are from Armagh but were in the US by the early 1900s which made it interesting for me(I visited Ireland in the late 80s in my youth and wondered why there was military escorting the armoured trucks to banks(this was in Kilkenny) now I know why). From the interviews with Brendan Hughes and Delours Price there are some very intimate details of how things worked inside the iRA back in the day. It also details the things the brits to keep the IRA from making things far worse. Puts Gerry Adams in a completely different light for me. Definitely an interesting read, it was one of those books that once you pick it up it is hard to put down until your done.