While this book doesn't always stick to the Conan stories continuity-wise, for the most part it fits in, filling little gaps in between those stories. Also, several of howard's better stories are adapted to comic format here; Tower of the Elephant, Frost Giant's Daughter, and Rogues in the House to name a few. We get the first comics' appearance of Red Sonja as well.
Overall, this is a fun, quick read, and although it's only in B&W, for the sheer amount of materiel included herein it's definitely worth the cover price.
Barry Windsor-Smith has long been my favorite "comic book artist," and this collection traces his evolution as such quite admirably. Indeed, not other collection could better serve that purpose. A simple comparison of the covers from Conan #1 and Smith's swansong issue #24 ("The Song of Red Sonja") evidences the transformation from artist to illustrator. For that matter you can also consider Smith intermediary style (e.g., #13 "Web of the Spider-God"). This transformation is as impressive because of how quickly in took place while he was drawing Conan as it is for the artistic growth. But even in his work today you can see how it is grounded in the style he developed while working on this comic.
These reprinted stories are presented in black and white, which is certainly better than nothing, but I look forward to Smith's work being presented in color as it originally appeared. I notice this most particularly in the Epilogue to Conan #20, "The Black Hound of Vengeance," which was originally presented in muted tones of gray, blue and brown. Smith abandoned panels in an interesting change of pace that underscored the emotional impact of the sequence. Without color that impact is most decidedly lost. One of the things that is still discernable is the increase in the number of panels per page from issue to issue through Smith's tenure as he became more comfortable with using art rather than dialogue to advance parts of the story. The best example of this is the hanging sequence on page 14 of Conan #10.
From a writing stand point it should be noted that there is a nice balance between stories adapted from Robert E. Howard's Conan work and original stories by Roy Thomas. For the former "The Tower of the Elephant" (#4) is usually considered the high point. The appearance of Michael Moorcock's Elric in issues #14-15 seems a bit forced, while the Fafnir character (original a quick tribute to Fritz Leiber's famous pair of thieves) becomes a wonderfully integrated character into an ongoing story line.
Of the 25 issues included in this collection not all are drawn by Smith. Several issues are drawn by Gil Kane because Smith had missed a deadline or took a hiatus from working on Conan. Thomas' ability as a storyteller capable of crafting bigger and longer storylines would continue to grow, and while John Buscema's artwork on Conan was quite excellent (especially when inked by Ernie Chan), Barry Smith's work will always stand on a plateau. Jim Steranko cracked open the door on stylized illustration in color comics, but Barry Smith was the one who gets credit for busting all the way through.
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I intend next to read a biography of him.
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Barry Goldwater is one of the most misunderstood leaders of his generation . . . his consistently literal interpretation of the Constitution and unwavering fealty to the Rule of Law caricatured by a press with a penchant for oversimplification, and a viciously cut-throat LBJ political machine (aided by the Rockefeller wing of the GOP). It was only in the twilight of his life that this political giant was accorded the respect he deserves.
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Although all the video tapes, audio tapes, workbooks seems like a very expensive deal, there are ways to do this cheaply. The video section is broadcast year round on PBS stations, (local as well as sattelite on PBS-U). You can tape them. They are also available in community college libraries. I skipped the audio tapes since most of the excercises in the workbooks can be done without audio tapes and furthermore if you watch each video several times you have already understood the conversation. Then all that is needed is the textbook and the two workbooks. It can take a long time to complete the 52 lessons, but language learning is a long process. French in Action does make it very enjoyable.
I don't think this is a beginner level course, though. Its probably useful to do some other basic course for a couple of months before starting on this one.
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I had never before heard of the concept of counter-dependency, but I intuitively knew of its existence. While the copy I'm reading is plagued with editing mishaps, the authors have grabbed my attention with their colloquially informational style that presents not only a logical case for their theories but also a guide for continued personal growth.
This chance discovery comes at a time when I'm beginning to try my under-developed, 34-year-old relationship wings, and while I'm still afraid to "let go" as much as the book encourages, I'm excited to continue my journey of personal discovery with this book as my guide for the next leg of the trip.
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First off, the reader should be aware that the book does not, in general, provide "alternative history;" instead, it is a compilation of important moments in world history (with weight on US history). Perhaps it should have been called (as is another, regrettably unread, book on my shelf) "Turning Points in World History." Some of the essays are excellent - inspired and thought-provoking (e.g., the first essay by W McNeill on ancient Jerusalem). Others are silly - the first such, by Lapham on Teutoburg, induced me to do a web search to discover his credentials (he hadn't appeared to have given it much thought). Some were infuriating (why did I waste my time?): for example, McPherson's essay on the "Lost Orders" in the Antietam campaign (OK, here comes the rant). Sure, this was a random, low-probability event that had a major effect on the war, and could easily had turned out otherwise. But McPherson (a highly regarded historian) goes on to speculate that, absent the discovery of the orders, the 1862 campaign would have been similar to the 1863 MD-PA campaign, with the Confederates moving north as far as Harrisburg and the Susquehanna, then concentrating (from the north and west) at Gettysburg; while the Union army, shielding Washington, moved up from the southeast (OK...). But then he supposes that the armies somehow switch positions, with the Union army attacking the Confederates from the north and west at Gettysburg!?!
Well, I know it's just for fun, but I'd like to see the authors put a little bit more into it. As it is, I can recommend this book for its entertainment value, and occasional nice essay. But, most of the time, you could probably do better yourself.
"What If?" gathers some of the world's foremost military historians to offer hypothetical counterfactuals, including: What If Alexander the Great had died in battle at the age of 21, before he had built an empire? What if the American Revolution had resulted in disaster? What if certain key battles in the American Civil War had changed? This is fun reading as it is always interesting to consider alternative paths not taken or paths unavailable by happenstance.
This book contains a number of excellent examples of counterfactual speculation, with only a few medicore essays. The authors examine how individual actions can have an impact as can the whims of weather.
This is an enjoyable book and, because of the broad area of military history, invites the potential for sequels. For example: One counterfactual I've always wondered about occurred in December of 1814 here in my home town of New Orleans. A prosperous son of Creole planters was awakened by the sound of British troops landing at the back of his plantation. Young Mr. Villere jumped out the window and headed for New Orleans, dodging a shot from a British sentry. Villere arrived in New Orleans and spread the alarm. Gen. Andrew Jackson gathered his forces and launched a surprise attack on the British. The British, unsure of the forces facing them, slowed their advance to give time to consolidate their forces. This gave Jackson time to throw up some defenses on the plains of Chalmette. Within 2 weeks the British had been defeated after suffering enourmous casualties attempting to storm Jackson's fortifications.
But what if the British sentry had not missed young Mr. Villere? Had the British continued their advance it is conceivable that these veterans of the Peninsular campaign could have won the Battle of New Orleans. Today people only remember that the Battle of New Orleans was fought after a peace treaty had been signed. But the treaty had not yet been ratified. Further, in the treaty the British recognized the status of borders prior to the war. But Britain had never recognized the Louisiana purchase, as the Spainish had violated a treaty with Britain when Spain secretly sold Louisiana to France. Britain could have attempted to keep New Orleans. This would have meant a widening of the war. It also begs the following question: Would there have been sufficient British troops to win at Waterloo?
As you can see counterfactual speculation leads to a never ending string of alternative possibilities. But it is enjoyble to speculate, as is "What If?"