November 8th, 2015 – Book: ‘ History of Apopka and Northwest Orange County, Florida’ by Jerrell H. Shofner
Though I’ve gone through this book for various research projects over three decades, this is the first time I’ve read the entire book. AS with any Shofner book, the vast technical history is ever present through out the entire book. Shofner doesn’t put together any history without obvious intense research. He puts other history writers to shame. Thus, his books can be a bit hard to get through as so much is stuffed into a sentence and paragraph. This, now read in it’s entirety, is better written for the average reader than the other books of his I’ve read.
Shofner slips through, what is little known of, early Florida pre-American pioneers. This first part is the weakest presented in writing. Seems to me Shofner gets a bit lost if he can’t write without documented evidence present. Seems Shofner would have great difficulty writing fiction. Giving more confidence in his presenting facts.
The period of the 1800s is extremely well covered and very impressive. Shofner’s concentrated focus of research is very evident. Florida in the 1800s can be a tough bear to contain. Info is elusive and accomplishments very difficult to track down and prove. No doubt Shofner accomplished the proving part. Presentation is also excellent.
Though I wish the book was sectioned by decade or century, this is a rare time, by a writer, that does not happen and it’s also revealing how a century mark does not alter the trajectory of a community due to a century mark.
The 20th century is as well done, but Shofner falls into a trap he has repeated in other books. As names become more available, he includes them in the text of the book. A bit too much space is taken up where it could have been placed in footnotes.
Something often absent in Florida histories is including the developing of black communities. Shofner does a tremendous job of adding and writing of it. His pointing out the black community asked not to have their streets paved and then 40 years later complaining about it, reveals the troubles of Florida history in the last 50 years.
As i have seen in other Floria histories, including those I’ve assembled, after the 1950s the trajectory of accomplishments in Florida’s history sputters out and it’s tough to flesh out the history in presentation. Shofner well addresses this in his book as he points out early community leaders die off and are replaced by so many from out of state without the drive, less vision, more interested in profits(government-wise or business) and are not even in the country to guide toward success – OK, I’ve fleshed out a more pointed editorial of Shofner’s words of the empty past 50 years.
Bottom line: I recommend this book. 10 out of 10 points.
The Eagles series of books is one, soon to be of the few, series that started while William Johnstone was alive. Would like to hope this has more of Johnstone in it than ghost writers, but we all may never know.
This is a sprawling book that could have been three or more books. An enormous amount is covered here. Yes, unlike so much written today, this is a cohesive story that is pretty tight. One of the reasons i like the Johnstone Clan herd of books is the editing process works where it seems to be practically missing in the bulk of books written today.
The writing is not as good as in other books written during Johnstone’s lifetime, but still much better than so many contemporary novels I’ve read. Considering how many characters, fiction & non-fiction, are presented throughout the novel, the definition is very impressive. Characters are the greatest strength of the Johnstone Clan books.
The last third of the book covers the Alamo story that is extremely well done. If that were set as a book of it’s own, I would give this five stars.
Bottom line: I recommend this book. 8 out of ten points.
I hated the writing in this book. The dialogue is written more as some illiterate types a “text”. At one point, as I started reading the book, I was going to mark the horrible bits of dialogue. It took little time for me to realize I would likely spend more time marking the book, than reading it. It’s even more unfortunate when distinct voices are not part of the dialogue. Most all in the book have a similar banter. Trying to follow stunted sentences and unclear descriptions had me often lost in this simplistic novel of espionage.
Why an editor didn’t scrap this is beyond me. The dialogue alone is a reason to do it. Then there is the rest of the book. An over written, over described, under dialogued mess deserves editing. The writer obviously is not skilled in writing an actual novel. A hand full of paragraphs does not a chapter make. Especially it’s all drawing out to the inevitable. This book could have been 200, maybe 300 pages less, stream lined and focused.
There is a mystery embedded in all of this, which should have been the actual book. The biggest success I can tag the author with is that this contemporary novel’s bad guy I didn’t guess. The rest of the novel is so formulaic, the mystery is the only thing I didn’t know would happen at the end. I will add that the medium used and how it is used was a welcome surprise in the book.
Something else I liked was the written reasons why the bad person was after certain people near the very end of the book. Showed an understanding of the field involved that is rarely explored in espionage novels.
Bottom line: I do not recommend this book. 3 of 10 points.
For what is basically a self published book, this is excellent. Yeary writes very well. The focus is steady and the book is broken into chapters to help that.
There are some excellent photos included that really help illustrate much written.
I really liked Yeary’s description of growing up in 1920s-30s in a point by point way that is readable and very educating. Wish Rawlings and most others could so clearly present early life in a rural setting.
For someone just recording his history, Yeary does an outstanding job of starting at a point in life and building to the next turn, which becomes another chapter. Too many best selling author’s books get published without a cogent reason for a chapter break.
Probably the worst part of the book is the cover, as can be seen above. There is also not a map in the book. If the reader does not know Ocala, they will be lost.
Bottom line: I recommend this book. 8 out of 10 points.
Considering there is likely never to be a specific book about the history of the little community of Citra, this book is a Godsend. It has a ton of information for a shorter book. Lots of photos and documents copied in it.
Due to the rarity of Citra history, I really can’t complain about the mish mash approach to laying this book out. There are also hard to see reproductions and various typography used.
The history is well written and I like how each chapter-type covers specific points of Citra history.
Bottom line: I recommend this book. 7 out of 10 points.
October 3rd, 2015 – Book: ‘The history of Astor on the St. Johns, Astor Park, and the surrounding area The history of Astor on the St. Johns, Astor Park’ by Albert Wass
This is what a history book should be. Builds the history and reflects and refers back to keep the narrative in context. Through this book the author will break down a new occurance back to it’s origination. The reference is not done endlessly. Just enough to remind the reader where they are and what went on before. Especially helpful as so many generations of names of people are unfolded. How I wish all history books did this.
The writing is very good. I really like how certain folklore of the area has been completely separated from the factual history.
Drawbacks: As usual, maps would be extremely helpful. There are also only a few photographs included. I’m not going to mark against what’s missing considering the size of the book. How good it is trumps the drawbacks.
Bottomline: I recommend this book. 9 of 10 points.
This is the third or fourth book I’ve read of Richard Martin’s. It’s been years since I’ve read his work, but this is clearly head and shoulders above the other books.
This book is superior to so many histories in it’s layout, writing, organization and even images. Martin clearly lays out the early the vast history of the area that includes Silver Springs State Park. At the time of the books publication, 1966, the park area was still privately owned and not part of the state park system as occurred October 1st, 2013.
There is a lenthy list of fish & plants to be found. Much about indians and development of a multi-level attraction.
I will quibble with the amount of writing that is outside the purview of the subject. Martin leaves the tracks at times as he chronicles indians all over Florida, seemingly just because he’s listing indians. Instead fleshing out more in the lives of the indians in the area would have been more germane.
Bottom line: I recommend this book. 8 out of 10 points.
I do like this Tibbetts series and this one was as much fun as the last I read.
The mystery starts off very slowly. There’s meandering all over, in and out, up and down, ad around the Manciple family. The family is interesting, just, to me, not that interesting. All of the meandering leads to very well defined characters. Especially impressive due to a very large cast.
The settings are well illustrated. The locations are few and two major settings are particularly well told.
Bottom line: I recommend this book: 6 out of 10 points.
This is my first mystery by Moyes I’ve read and I liked it a lot. I’ve garnered other Moyes novels and will be dipping into them soon for more of the Tibbetts.
This is a fine mystery with lots of procedural efforts to find the bad guy. The writing is solid with no excess. I was surprised that even a clue I noticed wasn’t mentioned to convict the guilty. That is also meaning I knew who it was within the first 25 pages, which was disappointing. Though so much else happened, that I was perplexed as to what entirely was going on.
My only trouble is the heavy violence wrought by the cause of the mystery. Didn’t seem to fit.
Still a great mystery and well well worth reading.
Bottom line: I recommend it. 9 of 10 points.
I love this book! Definitely one of my favorite books of all time! It’s also outstanding in writing, plotting and full of fun!
This is presented as a mystery that would better be described as a Faulkner-esque study of odd characters in an odd town that happens to have a mystery involved. And it’s a great mystery! Especially the end!
The characters are outstanding. Each with their individual voice and extremely well defined. The writer(s) did a fantastic job with the setting. I do wonder if this was written by the duo known as Ellery Queen or was someone else. This book has a far lighter and better written than other Queen books.
This is just a terrific and fun book!
Bottom line: A must read. 10 of 10.