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Book reviews for "Dimock,_Peter" sorted by average review score:

Konin: A Quest
Published in Paperback by Vintage Books (1996)
Authors: Theo Richmond and Peter Dimock
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Crowning achievement
Yes, this is another Holocaust archival work and yes, it is brilliantly researched and written. But Richmond's crowning achievement, I propose, is his ability to create a lengthy work as this, about people many readers could never know, without ever letting it lapse into sentimentality or a wearisome litany of names, faces and facts. And yes, I have tearfully walked the streets of Konin with those Shoah survivors who now live in England, the US, and Israel. Richmond has ensured that the Nazi attempt to relegate Jewish Konin to oblivion has been thwarted. And we are much the better for it. "For the dead and the living we must bear witness." Thank you Mr Richmond. You have witnessed for the murdered of Kazimierz forest and all the other killing fields of Nazi Europe.

Read It
There is little I can add to the existing reviews save yet another resounding confirmation of this book's brilliance. Konin is a superbly written, award-winning thing translated into Polish, Hebrew, German and Italian.

The book is impeccable stylistically and intellectually, and the thorny issue of Polish-Jewish relations is penetrated with honesty and insight. The people interviewed and depicted in the book are -- well, simply, REAL.

Well worth reading
I found this book absolutely fascinating. My Grandmother came from Konin so for me it was a look into the world my Grandmother left behind.


Arizona: With Area Maps of Flagstaff, Phoenix Downtown, Phoenix Metro, Tucson, Yuma
Published in Hardcover by Frog Map (1996)
Authors: Comgrafix and Frog Map
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Stayed with me for years
This is an extraordinarily sensitive portrait of a West African village. The writer really made the effort to know and understand her environment, and it pays off in a warm and tender account of her experience that brings the people and the culture vividly to life. I read this book six years ago, in preparation for a trip to Africa, and the strong sense of place she evokes stays with me still.

Africa made beautiful
Spindel's book humanizes and softens our often bleak view of Africa. The adventures of the American student of West African language and culture remind us that people are not so different as they seem. Furthermore, she reminds us that before European interference, there was gentility and natural wealth in African society.

Highly recommended for those readers who desire another perspective on the continent's people.


Marpingen: Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in a Nineteenth-Century German Village
Published in Paperback by Vintage Books (1995)
Authors: David Blackbourn and Peter Dimock
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a classic in its field
This entire bookis devoted to alleged apparitions in Marpingen in the Saar. The apparitions were never accepted by an official Church study--tho never publicly condemned by any bishop. It is a fascinating account, and even though this is a very balanced book, I found myself attracted toe the people who believed in the validity of the visions. The heavy-handed effforts of Bismarck's Kulterkampf to stifle the innocent faith of the believers was part of what attracted me. The visionaries all went into convents, and did not live long. The main one made a written retraction--which was not made public at the time. This is a very carefully researched, heavily-footnoted book, and certainly a classic in the subject. There is amulti-page bibliography, listing many books which I would like to read.

Involving storytelling with a concrete base of fact.
Some of us are blessed with opportunities. One of mine was to hear many lectures from this work's author, David Blackbourn, in college. He is tall, somewhat thin, with big hands and akward limbs. When he lectures, he moves from one side of the podium to the other, pausing only to look at the ceiling in search of just the right word, the right description for a riot in the Rhineland or a bourgeouis household in Berlin. As many of you might know, describing these scenes as they really were, but yet also emphasizing the important trend, is a difficult task. Blackbourn has that gift. It was evident in his lectures, in his hands swinging across the podium, even in the dramatic pauses to seek that right word. Finally he has shared that excitment with a reading audience. I do not want to imply that his previous books lacked excellence. As any student of the field knows, his Peculiarities of German History has quickly become a basic text. I would recomend all his writing. But he had never told an exciting story. In a sense, he did not live up to his potential. Marpingen is a moment in a career. Still on the verge of ever greater academic accomplishment, Blackbourn has left us a synthesis of two valuable things; outstanding intelligence and literary skill. For that reason it is the rarest of rare academic works. A study enjoyable to the beginer and revealing to the expert. I recomend it to everyone who does not have the opportunity of hearing him lecture.


ABC: The Alphabetization of the Popular Mind
Published in Paperback by Vintage Books (1989)
Authors: Ivan Illich, Barry Sanders, and Peter Dimock
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A Transformative Book
Is it true that the first Spanish grammar was intended as an agent of state control? Is it true that all writing up until Aquinas was dictation plucked from the air, without opportunity or perceived need for revision? Is it true that the priest reading the written Latin words in Spain, France, Burgundy and throughout Europe pronounced the words in a way that the worshippers understood? I don't know if these and other surprising assertions in the book are true, but having believed them I have found that this book has had a transformative effect on my experience of worship, language and oratory. I hightly recommend this book to priests, educators, and language professionals, and to any one interested in Christianity, language and schooling.


The Party of Fear: From Nativist Movements to the New Right in American History
Published in Paperback by Vintage Books USA (1990)
Authors: David Bennett and Peter Dimock
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Excellent and insightful
Bennett provides an insightful and concise detailing of American history dealing with the rightist movements. From the nativist / anti-papacy movements of the 1840's to the Christian Militia movements with their stress on government conspiracies that are guided by a Jewish elite, this work provides the basis for understanding the reactionary movements which seem so vogue today.


Cultivating Communities of Practice
Published in Hardcover by Harvard Business School Press (15 March, 2002)
Authors: Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott, and William M. Snyder
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Outstanding -- eludes any comparison.
In the case fo Peter Dimock's A SHORT RHETORIC FOR LEAVING THE FAMILY unconditional praise seems unnecessary for this book already belongs among the handful of works of the twentieth century American literature which make themselves indispensable for any future thinking and writing on this side of the Atlantic. Its remarkable economy, the breadth and the depth of meaning that increasingly resonate with each transpiring sentence add up to a silent intensity of conviction which which appears as if from another world and a different age. While taking on what is undoubtedly the the single most defining horror of our times, namely, mass murder under the auspices of state ideology, Dimock has succeeded in no less than transforming the notion of literature as we know it. In the manner in which he did this he virtually has no predecessors, except perhaps for the German-Jewish poet Paul Celan, himself caught in a paradox of dealing with Holocaust through words.

Dimock's book is constructed as one long letter written by Jarlath Lanham on the eve of Gulf War to his nephew General ann to Des, the son of his father's ex-lover Lena. This letter is a part of a legacy accompanied with a substantial amount of money which the boys are to open at the time of Des' legal maturity - he is the younger of the two - on September 9, 2001. Jarlath himself is a recent convalescent of a psychiatric hospital and son of Richard Lanham, the special national security adviser to the President in 1965, and the chief architect of the American involvement in Vietnam. The purpose of Jarlath's letter is, in his own words, "to provide you [Des and General] with the means, should you find it necessary as I now do, to leave the Lanham family." What follows is an argument against the Father - partly an invective and an incantation, and partly an elegy permeated with muted anger - accompanied with a method for a different history.

Intent on instructing the boys with the rules of ancient rhetoric which will enable them to condemn and reject the legacy of Father, Jarlath structures his letter around the rhetoric's four faculties: invention, arrangement, style and delivery, with memory, the fifth, and for Jarlath, the most important faculty, left out and treated throughout the narrative as its central subject matter. This is accomplished through an extraordinary method in which Jarlath combines photographs left to him by his brother AG with the images of the family history in order to provide Des and General with the backgrounds against and through which they will develop their ability "to discuss capably those things that law and custom have assigned to the duties of citizenship, and to secure as far as it is possible, the agreement of their hearers."

The contents of those photographs and the particular details of Jarlath's method should remain for each reader to discover on his own. But what needs to be said is that in this short book Dimock accomplishes what has been in one way or another the goal of modern literature ever since Flaubert's famous struggle with style. Dimock's combination of the scientific language of the rules of ancient rhetoric and the narrative poetry of the history of the Lanham family results not in a typically post-modern confusion of styles which often breeds entertaining yet often superficial and frivolous prose. On the contrary, it in a sense surpasses that linguistic Babel and errupts into something that transcends language, namely, an ekphrasis, a description of those photographs and images from the family history, a memory which Jarlath claims is the basis of language and hence political action. This strange and unsettling mixture of languages is also what precipitates the uniqueness of Jarlath's voice, it's poetry-like quality along with its deafening repetitions, and what must sound to the rest of us, slightly mad insistence. But when we realize that behind Jarlath's condemnation of his Father lie millions of dead Vietnamese, it is hard to ignore the courage and determination with which he provides Des and General with a choice for a different history.

Among other themes which Dimock's book directly or indirectly addresses - and there are many - one, however, stands out in its importance and in the treatment it receives. I know of no other book in the contemporary American literature which deals with the question of race with such intelligence and equanimity. The place at which it emerges in the novel is the very beginning, where Jarlath "for rhetorical convenience and prolepsis" includes Des in the Lanham family and burdens him with the same opportunity and responsibility as he does General - the boys are given the same amount of money as well as the same method. They are, on the other hand, equally burdened by Father's legacy and the choice to define themselves against it. They are in this sense made brothers, they at least partly share a common history and are given a chance to have a common future. The only place in the book where we learn that Des is an African-American, however, is the moment of his mother's sudden protest - a moment of truth about her relationship with Jarlath's father - against a slide showing the execution of a random Chinese thief during the Boxer rebellion in 1904. She identifies her own relationship with Jarlath's father with the randomness of this horrible act and exclaims "Any brown girl will do!" These two details are almost unnoticable in the larger context of Jarlath's letter and yet they are absolutely fundamental and at the center of Jarlath's and Dimock's project.

There is nothing quite like Dimock's book in the contemporary American literature. It is writing for which we still have no name. But one can be almost sure that this is what literature will, or should look like in the next millennium.


Locos: A Comedy of Gestures
Published in Paperback by Vintage Books (1990)
Authors: Felipe Alfau and Peter Dimock
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work of a genius
This may sound absurd - but "Locos-...." is truly the work of a genius. Some books surpass the boundaries of time and this is one such book. To summarize the book in one sentence will be like this "non-characters are characters, fiction is reality and solutions are problems".
Felipe Alfau was a strange character and so are his books - very very different, they remind us of the writings of Vargas Llosa with a taste of Cortazar. This is not a translation rather Alfau has written the book in English so all the spices of the Spanish culture are visible. This is extremely rare even with the best of the translators. You get a taste of Spain and a vivid picture of the vibrant society which was so different from the rest of Europe. The people are full of life and passion. Love and passion are the means for making life flow and may be we all need to follow that some day.
You can look at this book either as a short story book or a novel - since it has nine short stories which can either be individually read but they are also connected to each other.
I am long time fan of Marquez and I can promise that this book is equally impressive as any book from Marquez. It is a must buy.

A Comedy Tragically Ignored
I share the puzzlement of the reviewer below over why this isn't considered one of the 20th Century's great works of fiction. I'd go further and say this is probably the most underrated novel of the last 100 years. The most important literature not only blazes a trail, but does so in a way that compares favorably to the books it inspires. This is true for Locos. The book should have had a stronger edit, but what Alfau achieves here - stories that rewrite each other, characters who morph into each other - unleashed new powers from the fictional narrative that have yet to be fully tapped. There's a moment at the end of a story called "A Character" that is one of the very few mindblowing experiences I've had reading fiction. Alfau was probably the first novelist since Laurence Sterne to understand this potential in narration. There's a character in Locos named Fulano who, desperate to get others to notice him, breaks a storefront window. The owner comes out, ignores Fulano and wonders how such a thing could have happened. In a sad way, Locos is like Fulano. Everyone marvels at the glass it shattered, but nobody can see Locos.

He echoes Gogol whilst anticipating Borges & co.
I can't understand why this is not regarded as one of the greatest works of modern fiction. It anticipates many of the great writers of the latter half of the century, while being every bit as good as those who came later. The first two chapters are a bit hard and left this reader thinking Very clever, but.....

However the next three stories are excellent and I was quickly drawn into the surreal world of Alfau. Each chapter works well as a short story, but the further the reader digs, the more the stories link into a single novel rich in characters and ideas. Borges, Calvino, Kundera and the Boom-time Latin Americans were great writers, but after reading Alfau I realise they were not as original as I'd long thought. A book waiting to be rediscovered (again!).


Stop Drop and Roll (A Book about Fire Safety)
Published in School & Library Binding by Simon & Schuster (Juv) (2001)
Authors: Arthur Howard and Margery Cuyler
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By far the best review of Albert Speer I have read as yet
I have found, in my recent fascination with Albert Speer, that most books (including the ones Speer has authored) on the Third Reich, Nuremberg, and Speer in particular are biased, in that they start from a particular assumption of Speer's character and then set out to prove that assumption. After a while of reading such books, I had begun to despair of reading anything truly objective in its approach to this controversial subject.
This book, therefore, came as a pleasant surprise to me. Sereny starts from no assumptions about Speer (except the assumption that Speer did in fact know about the Jews), and through a series of in-depth interviews with Speer, his family, and just about anybody who had ever encountered him in his lifetime (both favorable and unfavorable), shows perhaps the most comprehensive and (I believe) accurate portrayal of Speer that it is possible to achieve, as told by people who are in a position to know.
Despite the fact that it is occasionally difficult to read (there is often a lack of transition), I would recommend this book, above all others, to anybody who wishes to learn the truth about Speer and his writings.

Masterful unmasking of Albert Speer
Gitta Sereny is not only a prodigious researcher, she also writes beautifully. This is an amazing book, the product of years of interviews with Speer, who heretofore had been regarded as a sort of "good Nazi." Sereny exposes the truth: that he knew about Nazi genocide and was the mastermind behind German's brutal slave labor between 1941-45.

Sereny beautifully weaves her story, throwing in wonderful ancillary observations about the Nazi hierarchy. She includes Speer's disingenuous criticisms of Hitler (whom he actually worshipped), as well as his opinions on Goering, Goebbels and Hitler's other minions.

Sereny includes details of Speer's love affair late in life with a much-younger blonde woman and the dumping of his long-suffering wife after 50 years of marriage.

Most important was Speer's assiduous and desperate attempt to disguise the fact that he knew about Auschwitz and successfully (until Sereny) hid it from the world.

Sereny deserved the Pulitzer for this book. Read it and you won't be able to put it down.

This book is compelling --It must be read twice!
Gitta Sereny -- Your book is wonderful. Thank you for your prodigious effort!!! Ever since visiting Germany in 1978, I have become one of the many trying to understand how the WWII Nazi crimes against humanity could occur in such an educated and advanced society. I have read most of the books on Nazi Germany, Hitler and the like but none more compelling than Gitty Sereny's book. Her years of research; dozens of interviews; understanding of the magnitude of Hitler's crimes have brought forth a book I could not put down or stop reading. As one reviewer mentioned, Ms. Sereny's transitions are often abrupt but her style is most readable. The second reading provides much more insight into Albert Speer. By then, the reader is familiar with the people surrounding Speer that Ms. Sereny interviewed and introduces throughout her book. I thank Gitta Sereny for giving the world a fairly unbiased look at a most remarkable man, Albert Speer and I believe she finds the truth about his guilt. READ IT TWICE!


William Cooper's Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic
Published in Paperback by Vintage Books (1996)
Authors: Alan Taylor and Peter Dimock
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Interesting, but interminable.
Fascinating, though too long. I recommend starting with Taylor's _Liberty Men and Great Proprietors_, which seems to have been less of a "labor of love."

FATHER WAS THE PIONEER
The tale of James Fenimore Cooper's father on the New York frontier in the 1790s is an Horatio Alger story run amuck. Born to a poor Quaker farm family, William Cooper learned the craft of making and repairing wheels before reinventing himself as a land speculator, founder of Cooperstown, judge, congressman, patrician farmer and Federalist party powerhouse.

Alan Taylor's WILLIAM COOPER'S TOWN: POWER AND PERSUASION ON THE FRONTIER OF THE EARLY AMERICAN REPUBLIC is an outstanding biography of an archetypical American character, an extraordinary social history of life and politics on the late eighteenth-century frontier and a brilliant exercise in literary analysis.

This is a wonderful read. Taylor's lively prose, compelling narrative and original, fresh story sustained my interest from cover to cover. I never would have imagined such a dull title could cover such a marvelous book. WILLIAM COOPER'S TOWN certainly deserves the Pulitzer Prize it was awarded.

Taylor not only describes William Cooper's rise from rags to riches and even more meteoric fall but analyzes Cooper's political odyssey in America's frontier democratic workshop.

"As an ambitious man of great wealth but flawed gentility, Cooper became caught up in the great contest of postrevolutionary politics: whether power should belong to traditional gentlemen who styled themselves 'Fathers of the People' or to cruder democrats who acted out the new role of 'Friends of the People.'"

Taylor argues "Cooper faced a fundamental decision as he ventured into New York's contentious politics. Would he affiliate with the governor and the revolutionary politics of democratic assertion? Or would he endorse the traditional elitism championed by...Hamilton." "Brawny, ill educated, blunt spoken, and newly enriched," writes Taylor, "Cooper had more in common with George Clinton than with his aristocratic rivals." "For a rough-hewn, new man like Cooper, the democratic politics practiced by Clinton certainly offered an easier path to power. Yet, like Hamilton, Cooper wanted to escape his origins by winning acceptance into the genteel social circles where Clinton was anathema." Taylor concludes "Cooper's origins pulled him in one political direction, his longing in another."

James Fenimore Cooper's third novel, THE PIONEERS, is an ambivalent, fictionalized examination of his father's failure to measure up to the genteel stardards William Cooper set for himself and that his son James internalized. The father's longing became the son's demand.

Taylor analyzes the father-son relationship, strained by Williams decline before ever fully measuring up to the stardards he had set, and the son's fictionalized account of this relationship.

James Fenimore Cooper spent most of his adult life seeking the "natural aristocrat" his father wanted to be and compensating for his father's shortcomings. It is ironic that the person James Fenimore Cooper found to be the embodiment of the "natural aristocrat" his father had longed to be and that he had created in THE CRATER and his most famous character, Natty Bumppo, was the quintessential "Friend of the People"--Andrew Jackson.

I enjoyed this book immensely and give it my strongest recommendation!

Fascinating account of early America
This is the story of William Cooper, the founder of Cooperstown, New York, and of how his son, James Fenimore Cooper, used his father's life and experiences in his novels. Described in this way, this sounds like a narrow book, of interest mainly to specialists. But anyone interested in early America should read this book: it reveals truths not only about these two men but about the whole period. One of the key themes of the book is that the Revolution, which in a sense made William Cooper by pushing aside the old aristocracy of New York, also unmade him by creating an anti-aristocratic politics that ousted him and other Federalists in 1800. A fascinating minor detail: the city fathers, in their effort to maintain a proper tone in Cooperstown in the early 1800s, outlawed stick ball, the precursor of baseball.


A Concise History of the Russian Revolution
Published in Paperback by Vintage Books (1996)
Authors: Richard Pipes and Peter Dimock
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Extremely Biased
Pipes has written this account for one sole reason - certainly not to present a review or interpretation of the historry of the Bolshevik party and the Russian Revolution, but rather as an attempt to destroy Lenin and Bolshevism. While this one-sided attempt may be fine for some, it certainly does not help those readers who would actually like to make up their minds for themselves. But then again, can one possibly expect a right-wing historian who worked under the Reagan administration to give a fair account of the Russian Revolution? With that being said, Pipes is really no different then many leftist historians who attempt to glorify the USSR and the Revolution (Communist writers of the 30's and 40's come to mind). In my experience I have found that the book that carries the least biased account (of course, complete objectivity is impossible) of the Russian Revolution is E.H. Carr's History of the Bolshevik Revolution. If you are interested in the facts of the Revolution and not merely a book-long effort to demonize Lenin et al., then I suggest you pick up Carr's book.

A great summary of his 3 previous books . . .
I'm a history student in my fourth year honours(with my major in Russia) and this book was the text book for my fourth year honours class. It is a great book because Pipes gives a summary of his previous 3 books "Russia Under the Old Regime", "The Russian Revolution" and "Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime". It is the equivalent to buy 3 books in one. The novelty of the book is that if the reader is interested in reading a relative short book about Russian history, this is the best book for that. However if one is interested in further details, I recommend people to read any of the 3 books summarized here in details. Pipes proves with enough arguments the gangster character of Lenin and his ambition for power. As Pipes argues, 'power' was the only ideology of the Bolshevik Party. The first part of the book provides a good background of the origins of 'autocracy' in the Old Regime. The last chapter gives the reader details about other aspects of the Bolsheviks after they achieved power, including among others 'the chapter on culture'. The chapters 'The October Coup' (here Pipes proves with details that in October 1917 a coup d'├ętat took place and not a revolution), 'The Red Terror' (proves that it was through killing nearly a million people that Bolsheviks stayed in power) and the chapter on Lenin are of course the worst nightmare for communists around the world. I one word I have to say that Pipes' books are the 'bible' of Russian history. My deepest admiration to Dr Pipes.

A fine, if slightly biased view on the Russian Revolution
This book works as both an engrossing beginning to a serious study of Russia from around 1905 to the death of Lenin, or as a one-off read for those with a passing interest. A finely written history book, it manages to cram in a topical description of every major happening (and some not so major) during the aforementioned time frame as well as provide a solid foundation upon which to delve deeper into the subject matter. Pipes, a Harvard professor as well as an ex-National Security Advisor for Reagan on Soviet and Eastern European affairs (but don't let this fact dissuade you from reading the book) writes thought-provoking and informative prose with a well-tuned eye for context. The only turn-off is his constant reminders of just how awful the Bolsheviks were, finishing the book with a short diatribe supporting subjective reporting of history (which might be better wrestled with in a different book entirely). Regardless, a fine book, written by one of the world's top authorities of the subject matter


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