Tag Archives: politics

Student Review: Foundation and Empire, by Isaac Asimov (reviewed by Timothy L.)

Foundation and Empire (Foundation, #2)Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation and Empire is an intriguing exploration of the sociopolitical effects of failure when victory seems inevitable. The book is the second book in the Foundation Novels, continuing the story of the First Foundation. In the book, a brilliant psychohistorian, Hari Seldon, founded two communities 300 years ago to pull the galaxy out of an inevitable dark age, and left various pre-recorded messages to ensure their success. However, in Foundation and Empire,, an unforeseen problem occurs when a mutant known only as The Mule is born. He demonstrates an uncanny ability to sway even his staunchest of enemies to his cause, and is bent on conquering the First Foundation. The main focus is on Bayta and Ebling Mis, a young woman and a psychologist, respectively, who are racing to find the Second Foundation so that it can save the first. All the meanwhile, worlds are falling to The Mule’s regime, and many more falling to despair and lost hope. Even the First Foundation, whose victory was foretold, is about to fall. Much of the book explores what this entails for the people in the Foundation, particularly the emotional impact. Asimov’s writing is a unique style compared to slightly more modern literature. The story is told from several perspectives, but all are spoken in Asimov’s unique voice. Any reader who enjoys sci-fi and story over appearance would enjoy the Foundation Novels, but should read the first book, Foundation, before reading Foundation and Empire. The galaxy Asimov has created, while immersive, is by no means the most diverse in sci-fi, to the point of being a bit cliché compared to modern sci-fi. Nonetheless, the Foundation Novels remain a wonderful work of science fiction, and are a must-read for any fan of sci-fi with an appreciation for good story.~ Student: Timothy L.

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Student Review: Animal Farm, by George Orwell (reviewed by Caitlin C.)

Animal FarmAnimal Farm by George Orwell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This novel is short, easy to read, and a classic, so I enjoyed it. Animal Farm by George Orwell is a fable about a farm that was taken over by the animals. Throughout the book the animals run into problems like betrayal and hypocrisy.

The book begins with the Manor Farm’s revolution and transformation into the “Animal Farm.” Although the point of the revolution is to have a farm that was run by animals devoted to equality, the pigs of the farm continually deceive the other animals into thinking of scenarios that are obviously untrue. The pigs even create a maxim that “All animals are equal/ But some animals are more equal than others”(148). Even though the pigs tell the animals lies, the animals are so naive they believe it.

Orwell’s style is very straightforward and simple to understand. Orwell never uses frivolous vocabulary or subtle symbolism that make the writing difficult to interpret. I like this book as a quick read because it allowed me to think about the morals and its reflection of politics instead of having to decipher text. Animal Farm’s plot connects to revolutions in countries around the world, but specifically to the Russian revolution that lead to the Stalin era. While simple to read, this book made interesting connections to real political situations that have happened in history.

Animal Farm is simple and a modern classic, so I recommend it. ~ Student: Caitlin C.

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Student Review: Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, by Barack Obama (reviewed by Sophie C.)

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and InheritanceDreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One may expect the first memoir of the first black president of the United States to be pretentious or preachy, yet Dreams from My Father is refreshingly humble. In this well-crafted self-seeking journey from Indonesian childhood to Chicago working life to discovering his family in Kenya, Obama manages to reflect upon his own shortcomings in faith, drive, and perceptions while still putting forth an inspiring story of surprising candidness. The only detraction may be the length and occasional dryness of some earlier sections. Obama’s humility is perhaps one of the most unexpected and special aspects of the book; one would assume as a famous politician he would focus on his good qualities and “safe” topics. Instead he considers his own actions maturely; for example he ridicules his own initial judgments on a poor Indonesian woman in the market, and resents his adolescent indolence. Obama possesses a special way with words, describing scenes both of desolation—as in his first look at his ancestral home in Kenya—and of festivity in minute and riveting detail. Insight and wisdom are also significant elements present—few pages pass without a consideration of ideas or sentiments, whether it is a stepping-stone in Obama’s own self-discovery, or a nugget of wisdom from the many people who touched his life—for example: “ ‘I’m less interested in a daughter who’s authentically African than one who is authentically herself’ ” (435). A powerful read for anyone interested in learning more about the incredible life of our president; but also one for a reader willing to put a bit of their time into a touching story of resilience, family, love, and the power of moving forward. ~ Student: Sophie C.

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Student Review: The Quiet American, by Graham Greene (reviewed by Alan S.)

The Quiet AmericanThe Quiet American by Graham Greene

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A book that is renowned for its controversy, The Quiet American, by Graham Greene makes you question American foreign policy and disapprove of the exceptionalism on which it centers. The book takes place during the French Indo-China war (1946-1954) that occurred in Vietnam. During this war, an experienced and cynical British news reporter called Fowler encounters a well educated American government worker named Alden Pyle who is the epitome of an American idealist. His strong belief in the necessity of democracy for the entire world leads the two men to constantly discuss cultural ignorance and foreign roles in conflicts. While Pyle tends to be soft spoken and subtle in his actions, he is willing to go to all lengths to ensure that communism does not prevail in northern Vietnam. Pyle assists an armed Vietnamese group that claims to support democracy which results in a mistaken bombing that brutally murders dozens of Vietnamese citizens. Although Pyle did not intend for the civilian deaths to occur, he managed to ensure that American workers and a Vietnamese woman that he has affection for are not present at the scene. The selfish act demonstrated America’s foreign policy as the unnecessary arming of unknown groups due to American exceptionalism hurt the civilians that lived there. Pyle’s actions, however, do not serve him well as various groups start to have their own plans for him. The novel is credited for predicting the Vietnam War, and I believe that it outlines every flaw in America’s perception of the world. If you enjoy critically analyzing America’s role in the world, then along with The Quiet American I recommend that you read The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brian to truly contemplate the meaning of war. ~ Student:  Alan S.

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