I was going to title this post “Two Books That Were Good But I Just Don’t Have Too Many Comments About Them,” but that would have been a bit much, don’t you think?
The “two books” in question are Erik Larson’s Thunderstruck and Mick Wall’s W.A.R.: The Unauthorized Biography of William Axl Rose. As I said, they were both good and entertaining (and non-fiction), but there weren’t any passages that jumped out at me in either of them. My brother Paul gave me both of these books last Christmas, along with Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, so he’s got good taste overall.
I was a bit concerned that the Axl Rose biography wouldn’t be very good, being unauthorized and all (I had a bad experience with an unauthorized biography once, let’s just leave it at that), but it was actually pretty entertaining. Guns N’ Roses is one of my favorite bands, and the book lets you in to their reckless life, obviously focusing on Axl. I read Slash’s autobiography a year or two ago, so it was interesting to see where the stories differ.
Compared to a book like Mötley Crüe’s autobiographical The Dirt, though, this book lacks some oomph. That book had alternating chapters written by the different members of the band and although I like Guns’ music a lot more than Crüe’s, the Crüe’s book was much more engaging. With this book, we only really get one journalist’s perspective and although he did have a lot of access to the band, it’s always that much more interesting when a person tells his or her own story. This could certainly be a lot more difficult due to the obvious tension between Axl and the rest of the band, but it would undeniably make for an interesting read.
The takeaway message: Axl is really, really controlling, a “red-headed dictator.” Don’t get me wrong, like I said, GNR is great, and I even dressed up as Axl on at least one Halloween, so I think he’s very talented. But the book does suggest that he’s perhaps not the world’s best role model.
After reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin last year and The Catcher in the Rye this year, I thought I’d be done for a while with books that had the same title as rock songs. But then Paul gave me this book, and I had the AC/DC song of the same name in my head for a good week. That’s OK, but it has nothing to do with this early-1900s-based true-crime story.
The book alternates chapters between an accused murderer, Doctor Hawley Crippen, and Marconi, the inventor of the modern radio. I won’t tell you too much more since it’s actually better as a surprise; I’d not even read the back cover, since I like my books to be as spoiler-free as possible, but as a result I didn’t even know it was non-fiction until a few pages in. But I can say that it’s very interesting, although almost the whole half about Marconi could have been eliminated or at least relegated to a different book. But perhaps the story of Crippen wouldn’t have been enough to fill out a book. Who knows.
Anyhow, there you have them. Two good books. If you’ve read one of them, chime in below in the comments section. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!
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