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41. Nicholas and Alexandra Part II
$12.23 $11.80 list($17.99)
42. The Case for Christ: A Journalist's
$27.00 $0.55
43. John Glenn: A Memoir
$62.95 $39.66
44. The Making of a Chef: Mastering
$32.00 $0.73
46. Blackbird : A Childhood Lost AndFound
$5.72 list($29.95)
47. What Falls Away
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49. Professor and The Madman, The
$5.00 list($17.00)
50. Quivers : A Life/Cassettes
$17.95 $5.00
51. Longitude: The True Story of a
$29.95 $17.95 list($34.95)
52. America's Queen: The Life of Jacqueline
53. All Souls: A Family Story from
$1.69 list($18.00)
55. Worse Than He Says He Is: Or White
$23.07 $9.95 list($34.95)
56. The Map That Changed the World:
$29.95 $2.67
57. Off Camera : Private Thoughts
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58. At Home in the World
$11.56 $10.77 list($17.00)
59. Naked
$13.56 $10.51 list($15.95)
60. JFK: The Kennedy Tapes : Original

41. Nicholas and Alexandra Part II
by Robert K. Massie
list price: $56.95
our price: $56.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786108460
Catlog: Book (1994-11-01)
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Sales Rank: 819240
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (78)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
After a recent visit to St. Petersburg, I became interested in learning more about the end of the Romanov dynasty and picked up this book on my return.I found it to be not only very well-researched but also extremely readable.Massie brings the characters to life on the page and creates a vivid, moving portrait of Tsar Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra.This biography is most certainly not to be missed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Eloquent
Quite simply, this is my all-time favorite book. I've worn out three copies over the last decade. Massie description of St.Petersburg bring Imperial Russia to life. AWESOME!!!!!!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars A true masterpiece...
I started a love affair with European royalty while in junior high, and as luck or fate would have it, Robert Massie's Nicholas and Alexandra was published during this time.I was bitten by the Romanov bug and have suffered from this malady ever since.

Nicholas and Alexandra, the last Tsar and Tsarina of Imperial Russia, came from a distinguished royal pedigree.Nicholas was the son of Tsar Alexander III, and his aunt was Princess Alexandra of Wales.Alexandra was a Hessian princess and granddaughter of Queen Victoria.As youngsters, they fell in love and "Nicky" knew that "Alix" was fated to be his bride.Theirs was a true love match at a time when royal marriages were arranged for any reason but love.

Two events conspired to cause the Romanov tragedy.First, Nicholas was not a very strong-willed man.He let others dominate him (including his wife).When his father died suddenly at the age of 49, the young Nicholas was totally unprepared and untrained to be Ruler of all the Russia's. Second, Nicholas and Alexandra were very family oriented, and it was a crushing blow when their 5th child and only son was born with hemophilia.In desperation, they alienated much of Russia (to protect this secret) and fell under the harmful influence of Rasputin.Russia was ripe for revolution, and Nicholas and Alexandra were too blind to see what was happening in their own country until it was too late.

Massie does a stellar job of bringing Russian history to life in a way that reads like a novel.He also writes with a passion born of experience.When his son was born with hemophilia, Massie started researching how hemophilia affected the royal houses of Europe-especially the Romanov's.He details not just Russian history, but the history of this dreaded disease including various types of hemophilia, treatments, new advances, etc.The only negative about this book is in the timing.Massie wrote what was known in the late 1960's.But since the fall of communism and perestroika, we now know so much more about what happened to the Imperial family.Massie took this new information and finished the story in The Romanov's: The Final Chapter.One book should not be read without the other.

Nicholas and Alexandra is one of my favorite nonfiction books, and I find myself rereading it every five to six years or so.I enjoy it just as much with each subsequent reading.My original paperback was in such tatters that I finally treated myself to a new hardback copy.Even after all these years, the tragic fate of the Romanov's continues to haunt us.

5-0 out of 5 stars fabulous book!
I love it when non-fiction books explores the "personal" aspects of historical events.

I minored in Russian History in college and recieved this book as a gift and love love loved it!

The life and eventual downfall of the last Tsar and his family was endearing in the details-- not necessarily the overall history. A great example would be the fact that on the eve of the Russian Revolution three of the five royal children came down with the measles; of course she was a little preoccupied!

Massie is an expert at blending primary historical texts (a lot of it is from the diary of the children's Swiss tutor Gillard) and his own words which makes the narrive flow much more gently than your average non-fiction historical book.

What I think is the most interesting thing Massie points out, at great length, is that Nicholas II and Alexandra were two people who did not possess any more or less basic human flaws than the average person, but the introduction of Hemophilia into their family completely (and understandably) threw their private and public lives into a complete kilter.

If you are not a fan of history or even Russian history I would still recommend this book, wonderfully written and researched about one of the most important events in the twentieth century!

5-0 out of 5 stars If all history was written this well...
My wife dragged me to an exhibit at the Santa Fe Art Museum of items belonging to Nicholas and Alexandra. I knew nothing about the two, and saw little in the exhibit that further piqued my interest. But, on the way out, I did pick up a book on Rasputin as a souvenir. I started to read the Rasputin book, but then realized I could not appreciate Rasputin without first knowing the greater story of Tsar Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra. After researching what would be the best book to read, I got R. Massie?s Nicholas and Alexandra.

My oh my, what a fascinating read that has turned out to be. The high stars given by most other reviewers on this site are well deserved and on the money. Massie creates a captivating story in the process of describing a critical time in 20th Century history. I read it with the relish and enthusiasm of a richly embroidered page-turner. I normally do not read a lot of history. But if all history was written as well as this, I?d probably read so much of it that I?d scarcely have time to read anything else. I can?t wait to find other works that are as rich, informative, and entertaining as Massey?s Nicholas and Alexandra. ... Read more

42. The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus
by Lee Strobel
list price: $17.99
our price: $12.23
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0310219604
Catlog: Book (1998-09-01)
Publisher: Zondervan Publishing Company
Sales Rank: 86337
Average Customer Review: 3.75 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In this abridged audio edition, Strobel uses the dramatic scenario of an investigative journalist pursuing his story and leads and his experience as a reporter for the Chicago Times to interview experts about the evidence for Christ from the fields of science, philosophy, and history.Read by Dick Fredricks. ... Read more

Reviews (394)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good read. But problems.
A former atheist, Mr. Strobel presents convincing evidence in these two closely related, even complementary volumes to prove that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be, the Son of God and Messiah, and that as a result, Christianity is the most logical religion. Using skills he acquired as a reporter in a metropolis, the author details the investigation he pursued.

He did not go to just preachers, or to any kindly old grandparents who have dedicated their lives to being at the church all day on Sunday. He used scientists, theologians, and even psychiatrists to make his cases. Drawing upon little known historical facts, archeology, psychology, and sometimes even gruesome medical evidence, each aspect is presented in a concise, easy to follow, yet intense fashion. Inconsistencies in the Bible are taken apart piece by piece and shown to not be inconsistent at all. Translation, perspective, and factors of history and culture the modern reader would be unfamiliar with are explained.

**** However, there are some facts that are not completely accurate; being stated too broadly, and some of the logic used does not ring completely true. Despite this, the sum total of these two books is sound, and whether read or listened to will provide the skeptic with enough proof to change his or her mind, and the believer to have their faith reinforced. At worst, each book is fascinating. At best, it will lead others to the faith.

Reviewed by Amanda Killgore.

3-0 out of 5 stars Excellent apologetics but horrible journalism
I wish didn't force reviewers to rate all books with 1-5 stars. Since I was forced to rate Lee Strobel's book _Case for Christ_ I gave it 3 stars, but that's not really how I feel. As an introductory apologetics book I would give it 5 stars, but as a work by a journalist I would give it 1 star. Read on to find out why.

Lee Strobel is an ex-investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune who describes himself as a "former spiritual skeptic." Using his skills as a former legal affairs journalist, Strobel set out to "retrace and expand upon the spiritual journey ... [he] took for nearly two years." The Case for Christ is a summary of Strobel's interviews with thirteen leading Evangelical apologists, including Craig Blomberg, Bruze Metzger, Edwin Yamauchi, Ben Witherington III, and William Lane Craig.

In light of Strobel's frequent reminders that he used to be a hard-nosed, skeptical journalist, I skimmed the table of contents and index to see which critics of Christianity he interviewed. In so doing, I discovered a glaring deficiency in Strobel's journalism: Strobel did not interview any critics of Christian apologetics, even though he attacks such individuals in his book. For example, Strobel devotes an entire chapter to his interview of Greg Boyd (an outspoken faultfinder of the Jesus Seminar), yet Strobel never interviewed a single member of the Jesus Seminar itself! Likewise, he repeatedly criticizes Michael Martin, author of Case Against Christianity, but he never bothered to get Martin's responses to those attacks. This hardly constitutes balanced reporting on Strobel's part; indeed, on this basis, one is tempted to dismiss the entire book.

Nonetheless, I was compelled to review _The Case for Christ_, for two reasons. First, it comes with a number of endorsements from high-profile Evangelicals. Second, Strobel interviewed a number of high-caliber Evangelical apologists, many of whom are worthy of consideration in and of themselves. Thus _The Case for Christ_ constitutes a pseudo-anthology of Evangelical scholarship.

I have reviewed Strobel's book in detail on my website, but here I will summarize its major strengths and weaknesses. _Case for Christ_ is a creative, well-written contribution to Christian apologetics. Moreover, Strobel is to be commended for summarizing the work of so many leading apologists for Evangelical Christianity in such a compact and easy-to-read format. Yet Strobel did not interview any critics of Evangelical apologetics. He sometimes refutes at great length objections
not made by the critics (e.g., the claim that Jesus was mentally insane); more often, he doesn't address objections the critics do make (e.g., the unreliability of human memory, that non-Christian historians do not provide any independent confirmation for the deity of Jesus, etc.) Perhaps this will be a welcome feature to people who already believe Christianity but have no idea why they believe it. For those of us who are primarily interested in the truth, however, we want to hear both sides of the story.

5-0 out of 5 stars A must read for every "seeker"
THE best father's day present I've ever received. Wonderfully done. Lee Strobel asks the hard questions of world class experts and delivers a compelling case for my God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I loved McDowell's "Evidence that Demands a Verdict", but this is so much more readable. His mix of present day law cases to introduce and illustrate each segment drew me in and his personal interviews with the people who know the real facts about Jesus and the New Testament was entertaining as well as informative. It was like being in on the best conversations about Jesus you could hear.

I'm grateful for this author and this faith strengthening book. Christians: Buy it, read it and give it to others.
Non-Christians: This is a wonderful close-up of the facts about the life of Jesus.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very compelling, but should give more opposing arguments.
Strobel does an excellent job of examining the evidence for the Ressurection of Christ from all angles. His findings are very logical and convincing. This is a really good book to read if you are as confused and skeptical as I have recently become. The methodical way that Strobel presents the evidence in this book argues very very strongly for the truth of the Bible. The only shortcoming as far as I'm concerned is his neglecting to really give the full arguments for the liberals and atheists (or if he did, they sure don't have very solid cases). I would highly reccomend this book to anyone interested in learning about the history and the evidence of Christ and the church.

5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful introduction into Christian apologetics
Lee Strobel has done a masterful job in tackling some of the most pressing and often heard questions about Christianity and the Christian faith. This book was a very easy read for many reasons. Two of which are: Lee is to the point when answering many pertinent questions; Lee presents it in such a logical and factual way that makes his claim that much more convincing. This is not only a great book to have for reference, but it is also a great book to give to the non-believer. ... Read more

43. John Glenn: A Memoir
list price: $27.00
our price: $27.00
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Asin: 0553526642
Catlog: Book
Publisher: Random House Audio
Sales Rank: 904069
Average Customer Review: 4.24 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

He was the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth. Nearly four decades later, as the world's oldest astronaut, his courage riveted a nation. But these two historic events only bracket a life that covers the sweep of an extraordinary century. In this engrossing book, John Glenn tells the story of his unique life--one lived at the center of a momentous time in history by a man who helped shape that history.

He is the kind of hero who resists being called a hero. And yet his exploits in the service of his country, his dedication to family and friends, and his rock-ribbed traditional values have made this small-town boy from the Midwest a true American icon.

John Glenn's autobiography spans the seminal events of the twentieth century. It is a story that begins with his childhood in New Concord, Ohio, in the aftermath of World War I. It was there that he learned the importance of family, community, and patriotism. Glenn saw firsthand the ravages of the Depression and learned that determination, hard work, and teamwork could overcome any adversity. These were the values he carried with him as a Marine fighter pilot during World War II and into the skies over Korea, for which he would be decorated for his courage, dedication, and sacrifice. Glenn flew missions with men he would never forget, from baseball great Ted Williams to little-known heroes who would never return to their families. Always a gifted flier, it was during the war that he contemplated the unlimited possibilities of aviation and its next frontiers: speed and space.

John Glenn takes us into the cockpits of the experimental planes and spacecraft he flew to experience the pulse-pounding excitement of the early days of jet aviation, including his record-setting transcontinental flight in an F8U Crusader in 1957, and then on to his selection for the Project Mercury program in 1959. We see the early days of NASA, where he first served as a backup pilot for astronauts Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom and helped refine some of the initial cockpit and control designs for the Apollo program. In 1962 Glenn piloted the Mercury-Atlas 6 Friendship 7 spacecraft on the first manned orbital mission of the United States. Then came several years in international business, followed by a twenty-four-year career as a U.S. senator--and in 1998 a return to space for his remarkable Discovery mission at the age of seventy-seven.

This extraordinary book captures the unique alchemy that brings a man to the forefront of his time. Married to a woman he first met when they were both toddlers, known for his integrity, common sense, and leadership in the Senate, John Glenn tells a story that we must hear. For this narrative of steadfastness, devotion, courage, and honor is both a great adventure tale and a source of powerful inspiration for an age that needs John Glenn's values more than ever before.
... Read more

Reviews (34)

3-0 out of 5 stars Delightful biography, but short on space hardware
John Glenn became the first American in orbit when he circled the Earth three times aboard Friendship 7. The most senior of the original Mercury astronauts, he was trumpeted as a hero upon return, but left the space program shortly thereafter because NASA wouldn't give their famous spokesman a second, potentially disastrous flight. Not until almost thirty years later, that is, when Senator Glenn returned to space at the age of 77, amidst a roar of publicity that rivalled his first mission. In the meantime, he had embarked upon a political career that included a shot at the presidency. A rather distinct biography.

In "John Glenn: A Memoir", the Marine turned Astronaut turned Politician shares with the world his life story, which spans the better part of a century and saw aviation progress from biplanes to the Space Shuttle. Yet this is a deliberate and slow-moving book, written in earnest and matter-of-fact prose. It progresses in strictly chronological order, spends a great amount of nostalgic detail on Glenn's childhood - including mother's cooking and playpen stories -, then moves on to the Marine days flying planes in World War II and Korea, then to his test pilot career. Always one step at a time, one little story after the other.

The results are a mixed bag: while the drama-oriented readers will call it outright dull, others might find the leisurely pace quite immersive and captivating. At the least, it is refreshing to read an astronaut biography that does not suffer from tunnel vision. The space program is not as much as mentioned until about half-time, and even recounting his NASA days, Glenn focuses on the big picture - the political and ideological implications of the space race - rather than technical detail. While the accounts of his actual Mercury and Shuttle flights are vivid and gripping, on the whole there is nothing about the space program that could not be found in most other, specialised books. Not surprising, given that Glenn's astronaut career was illustrious but brief, and something that the die-hard space buffs should consider.

The part between Glenn's flights focuses on his political career, his friendship with the Kennedys, and law making as an Ohio Senator. There is more talk about his loved wife and family, and more emphasis on duty, country, values. In truth, it must be said that the only things arguably more all-American than John Glenn are baseball and apple pie; he constantly reflects on his beliefs and guidelines, and never seems to waver in his uncomplicated optimism and patriotism. More remarkably, it all seems genuine, too: no image polishing, that's just the way he is. Indeed, Glenn colours his omnipresent love of America with plenty of humour and palpable feeling, and comes across not as preachy, but entirely likeable.

The concept of such an awfully nice moralist seems strange in today's cynical times, and this is perhaps the most telling point of all: the text seems like a document from a different age. Like the photographs that come with it, showing Glenn's wedding ceremony in uniform, or piloting Corsairs in World War II, this tale is something out of our reach, something delightfully dated. And "John Glenn: A Memoir" sure is a delightful book. Readers looking for a remarkably rich and varied life story can hardly make a better choice. Space enthusiasts lusting for nuts and bolts might want to think twice.

5-0 out of 5 stars A thrilling, exhiliarating autobiography
Marine Colonel John H. Glenn, Jr., was selected as one of the original seven Mercury astronauts in 1959, and made his historic orbital flight aboard Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962. But as this book reminds us, Glenn was involved in many other grand events in our nation's history. He was a fighter pilot in the Marines during World War II and Korea in the 1940's and 1950's, he served in the Senate for four terms in Ohio, and finally, in the fall of 1998, he made a historic return to orbit aboard the space shuttle Discovery. This book captures the details of those events, sweeping the lifetime of this small town boy from the midwest, a true American icon. I thought it was very thrilling, and was interested in hearing of his accounts of his spaceflights , Senate career, and combat flights in the wars. Others have said it was boring because Glenn has almost never faced adversity in his life, but I thought it was entertaining nontheless. His accounts of the Friendship 7 and Discovery missions are nearly minute-by minute, very detailed, and I thought it was very well done.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Story of a Perfect Life?
Based on this book John Glenn never got out of line, never got in any serious trouble or caused anyone else to get into trouble, had a perfect wife and family who always supported him 100%, even if it meant his being away from home for long periods of time. He even goes to the extreme of discounting a story about his concern over his height exceeding the max requirement for space travel. I found many parts of this book enjoyable, but left feeling I had only been reading a whitewashed version purified for mass consumption. On slight hint at the "real" John Glenn may be revealed in his writing a letter to NASA in an effort to overturn the decision to have Alan Shepard and Guss Grissom fly in space before him. This book left me with many more questions about the real man. Showing more of his human, occassionally risking and failing side would have added much to my enjoyment. Unfortunately this was missing.

4-0 out of 5 stars Critical Reflections
There have been many assessments of John Glenn since February 1962, but perhaps none so critically important as those he has made in his Memoir's. All of us have fallen short of fully living our values and maintaining our ethical standards as we move through a life filled with temptations; we are but mortal. While Glenn is certainly an American hero of the highest caliber, and one of my favorites, his shortcomings remain a puzzle to me. The paradox of John Glenn is found in the staunch moralistic tone of his life before his Senate career, and his stance after taking that oath of office.

His criticism of the moral behavior of his fellow Mercury astronauts in 1960 is in stark contrast of his support for a president who was equally as guilty some 40 years later. His support for a political agenda that represents a normalization of deviancy leaves me wondering if his professed Christianity is truly a "born again" commitment or simply cultural attribute that can be influenced by power.

Glenn agonizes over his "guilt by association" in the Keating affair and presents a rather weak defense. He states that one of his reasons for entering politics was to prove that good men can survive and triumph in an atmosphere where power corrupts. Yet he leaves himself open on several occasions to simply reinforce the notion.

Glenn reviews his life in a manner that I found interesting and informative. As an avid space historian, he filled in a few areas of his life and the early manned space program that were unknown to me. Of interest too, are the occasional factual errors that have crept into the book, perhaps because much of the final composition was probably done by his co-author, Nick Taylor (who, overall, did a great job). Gordon Cooper's flight did not terminate early because "his spacecraft lost orbital velocity" but went the full 22 orbits. And, Gus Grissom was not "the first person to fly in space three times". He would have been had he not been killed in the Apollo fire. That privilege belongs to Wally Schirra who was the only astronaut to fly Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo.

John Glenn accomplished more in his three careers (Marine, Astronaut, Senator) than most of us will do in any one lifetime. We pray that his legacy will truly be greater than three Migs, 137 orbits and 9,414 senate votes.

3-0 out of 5 stars Fireflies in space
John Glenn is a space pioneer and knows first hand that there is a "lot more water than land on earth". You feel his honesty in his writing, his no-nonsense approach to every day of his life. And then at age 70 he goes out into space again. Flying "Friendship 7" around in space is the climax of his life for this "down-to-earth" man. The forceful fist of destiny came down on Glenn in the form of his image, the mirror, which knocked him out of politics; he thought he dropped out, but he was dropped out until after Watergate when the Senate calls him. Up to date nobody seems to know: what were the "fireflies" in the night of space surrounding "Friendship". There is this mystery in the otherwise "nuts-and-bolts" story of John Glenn. ... Read more

44. The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America
by Michael Ruhlman
list price: $62.95
our price: $62.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786114142
Catlog: Book (1998-10-01)
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Sales Rank: 823344
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Journalist Michael Ruhlman talked his way into the CIA: theCulinary Institute of America, the Harvard of cooking schools. It hadsomething to do with potatoes a grand-uncle had eaten deacades earlier,how the man could remember them so well for so long, buried as they hadbeen in the middle of an elegant meal. Ruhlman wanted to learn how tocook potatoes like that--like an art--and the CIA seemed the place togo. The fun part of this book is that we all get to go along for theride without having to endure the trauma of cooking school.

Ever wonder what goes on in a busy kitchen, why your meal comes late orshows up poorly cooked? The temptation is to blame the waiter, butthere are a world of cooks behind those swinging doors, and Ruhlmanmarches you right into it. It's a world where, when everything is goingright, time halts and consciousness expands. And when a few things gowrong, the earth begins to wobble on its axis. Ruhlamn has the writerlyskills to make the education of a chef a visceral experience. ... Read more

Reviews (84)

4-0 out of 5 stars In-Depth Tour of Education at the CIA
This book provides an in-depth introduction to American professional culinary education as practiced at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).Ruhlman is a journalist who enjoys cooking and fashions himself as a decent cook.With the excuse of writing a book about the CIA, Ruhlman managed to get himself into the school as a special student, able to skip around the curriculum at an accelerated pace so that he could experience many of the lessons in a limited amount of time.Even though he was excused from many required classes and the required externship, it still took about a year for him to progress from basic culinary skills to covering the grill at the CIA's American Bounty Kitchen.This book is both a diary of Ruhlman's classroom experiences at the CIA and a description of the students and chef-lecturers at the school.

If readers aren't already tuned into the differences between broth, roux, and brown sauce, through reading this book, they will develop an appreciation for why professional cooks need to master each one. They will also become familiar with the structure of the educational program at the CIA, as Ruhlman discusses each curriculum block in turn; a diagram of the program is provided inside the back cover.Ruhlman explores several themes in depth, including the ethics of cooking for others, and the heroic physical standards that professional chefs must live up to.In a few places, Ruhlman gets bogged down in detail, or ponders his personal connections to the project a little too heavily.Overall, though, the book is enjoyable as well as informative.

3-0 out of 5 stars this book is a great review of the CIA
For culinary students: if you don't care about the CIA, then skip this one (read his other book called soul of a chef, it's great). Although it's interesting to learn about the curriculum offered at the CIA, it's not really anything I needed to know in order to succeed in the culinary field.

2-0 out of 5 stars Informative, but disappointing
I had a really hard time getting through this book, even though the whole idea of a book about going to culinary school appeals strongly to me.

From my perspective, the execution of this book felt flat. The writing isn't all that great. It's a bit scattered, and the author gets bogged down in details in some places, and this creates a whole series of speed bumps. It's as if he had better notes about some days than he did others and he or his editor didn't have the discipline to pare down those sections. Also, there's no real arc or story, and no clear conflict. He protests too much about the snowstorm issue because I think it's only real drama that happens to him personally through his experience.

As other reviewers have pointed out, the author didn't pony up the cash and time to go through the full coursework at the CIA himself. The school's management provided him an abbreviated version of the class that sidestepped the sort of boring parts. From reading, it's clear that most of the key instructors knew that he was writing a book. Now this does not necessarily mean that one can't write a compelling, plot- or character-driven story based on closely following other people's experiences, as both "House" or "Among Schoolchildren" by Tracy Kidder prove.

In this case, however, something's missing. I didn't come to feel strongly about any character in the book, including the author. Yet, here are young people who have bet small fortunes on their love for the kitchen, who sweated through a challening school only to remain poised on the edge of a difficult, competitive career. Surely, interesting human stories existed all around in him in those kitchens, but instead of capturing them, we got laborious descriptions about how to make stock.

Hence, for me it felt heavy. And, it's a personal feeling after having just finished this one that he fell short of writing a truly "inside" journalistic account of culinary school. It's not a bad book, and it does give a lot of information about culinary school if that's what you're after. I would recommend it to anyone planning to attend the CIA. For me, it just wasn't that great of a read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Answers to our questions about the C.I.A.
This is an exceptional "read".My 18 year-old-son will be entering the C.I.A. in the bachelor's program, November, 2004.Food has been his passion since he was standing on a chair helping me (his mother) in the kitchen. Michael Ruhlman's books, this title and "The Soul of a Chef", have explained more about the workings of the Culinary Institute of America than any other research including a visit to the Hyde Park campus.For this we are very greatful. I have purchased several copies of this book and given them to friends, co-workers and relatives so that they might have some idea of what our son will encounter at the C.I.A. and everyone has given the book a great review.Thank you, Mr. Ruhlman!

5-0 out of 5 stars Easy, Fascinating Read
I am a college senior majoring in Broadcast Journalism. However, I've always had a fondness for cooking, and a sense of awe regarding professional chefs. In this book, Michael Ruhlman Goes behind the scenes at the CIA, recording the classes, instructors, and students. As one might expect, the focus here is primarily on the training of potential chefs.
However, Ruhlman also spends some time thoroughout the book reflecting on his role as a journalist in the kitchen/school, and how his reporting sets himself apart from the skilled chef-instructors. This refelction is a point of interest to me, because as an aspiring newsman, I have to do some research about my story assignments so that I sound somewhat informed while on air, in print, etc. Ruhlman has to deal emotionally and mentally with the idea that he can't truly be a chef, but only go through the motions (more or less), even if he really wants to be one deep down inside. He also has some refelections and thoughts on a cooking career that are quite interesting, and I would imagine, accurate (I don't want to spoil anything)
I quick, easy to follow book for foodies, journalisits, and the curious. Pick it up! ... Read more

by Hackworth
list price: $14.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0671684507
Catlog: Book (1989-04-01)
Publisher: Audioworks
Sales Rank: 469990
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (65)

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Hero has entered Valhalla
The Good Colonel just passed on to the Big O Club in the Sky today. None the less he has left a great legacy in this book. To call it one hell of a story would be an understatement of the 1st degree. It is a classic story of a poor hard scrabble kid who goes out and finds himself a home in the US Army. Hack was really one of the lucky ones who found a place where he could really excel. I found myself actually feeling sorry for the Enemy and some of his idiotic Superior Commanders. He must of been a hand full is all that I can say.

5-0 out of 5 stars Vietnam - a defining point of his life
[Sadly for all of us, Col David Hackworth died shortly after I wrote this review. Nothing about him or my review of his works needs revision. Hack - we will miss you!]

Say what you want about Hackworth - you can't deny him his valor or experiences in the Army. "Hack" continues to thrive on controversy - one who is not afraid to stir the pot. This book was his first view on the public stage after his Vietnam exit from the Army.

As a young officer - I first read this book in the career stage of my commission - as a Major - and came away with mixed feelings about his views and attitudes. Hackworth's Vietnam experience - like that of John Kerry's, was a defining point of his life. Both came away from that service determined to change the way government uses the military. Kerry became an anti-military cynic; Hackworth lashed out at the systems' waste and stupidity - in an attempt to make the system better.

During war, Hack would be a leader one would wish to serve under. In peacetime - like so many other warriors - he'd be a disaster in the mind numbing training environment of a peacetime army. Like a fire extinguisher - keep under glass until an emergency demands his use.

The book is what it is. Many of his positions are factual and cannot be argued. When he drifts to politics - watch out! He has no friends in either political party.

Some favorite segments I carry with me from the book are paraphrased as follows ... 'after spending 2 trillion dollars to modernize the military, our boys went to war in Desert Storm [Iraq 1991] with duct tape covering air holes in the combat boots to keep the sand out' ...another ... 'while the rest of the world was using cell phones ... our military continued use of radio sets with lead acid batteries weighing over 25 pounds that didn't work as well' ...

If you have never served - and are thinking of signing up - maybe this will give you pause. If the world awaits you as a grand adventure - do what he did - and wear the uniform proudly for a majority of your adult life. At the least - Hackworth made me stop and think along the way. My latter years in uniform were constant battles against mind numbing stupidity and for care and protection of our countries' most valuable assets - the men and women who served under my leadership. I have learned much from this soldier. Buy and read the book. You will come away a changed person.

5-0 out of 5 stars Odyssey it is
This isn't a mere bio, it's a walk thru Dave Hackworth's life...minefields (physical and mental). He seemingly holds back nothing. Parts war duty in Germany...but that's Army life. It's not as on the edge as his recollections of combat, but that's the way it was.
His writings on Korea alone make this a must read.
But it keeps going, giving you his evolving perspective on what was and wasn't happening in Vietnam. He calls a spade a spade.
There is a little overlap (not much), but I would read this first, then Steel My Soldier's Hearts. Then, look at his webpage and Soldiers for the Truth. He's squarely on the side of the dogface soldier for whom few speak for fear of their career. If I could chose the man to lead my Sons into war, it would be Hack.

5-0 out of 5 stars WELL WORTH THE READ - WARTS AND ALL
I really hate military autobiographies.That being said, I must say I enjoyed this one.Col. Hackworths career is fastinating. Being a career military person myself, I could certainly relate to much he said.On the other hand, he was rather heavy handed with his ego thing.I doubt if he and I could ever be "buds" but we would, admittedly, be in better shape had we had more officers like him over the past 40 years.The writing is clear, enjoyable and informative.We get a very good historical overview of semi-recent military history and some wonderful "war stories" thrown in.All in all I have to recommend this one (I must admit to have read it twice).A very interesting life.

5-0 out of 5 stars Try .
I've learned more about winning thinking and leadership in this book than I have from officers in the past eleven years of navy service. Shame these things are not practiced and taught as widely as they used to be. ... Read more

46. Blackbird : A Childhood Lost AndFound
list price: $32.00
our price: $32.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743518128
Catlog: Book (2000-10-01)
Publisher: Audioworks
Sales Rank: 123013
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Jennifer Lauck conveys the perceptions, thoughts, and emotions of afrightened child with utter conviction and vivid immediacy in her remarkablememoir of the six years during which both of her parents died. Lauck opens in 1969,when she is 5 and her 31-year-old mother is entering the final phase of a decadeof severe health problems. Momma is beautiful and loving; we feel the tenderintimacy between mother and daughter, even as we see that Jennifer has assumed alot of adult responsibilities that make her fearful and obsessed with rules.Eight-year-old brother Bryan responds to Momma's illnesses with anger, and isoften cruel to his sister. High-powered, workaholic Daddy does his best, butis not around a lot. (The adult author subtly depicts the kids' half-consciousunderstanding that Daddy is seeing other women.) As Momma's health worsens andthe family moves to Southern California to be near a better hospital, Lauckcaptures in painful detail the atmosphere of physical decay that surrounds amortally ill woman. Momma dies on Bryan's 10th birthday. In short order, Daddyhas moved them all in with Deb, who obviously has been his girlfriend for awhile, and events spiral down from there. Daddy dies of a heart attack beforeJennifer turns 10; Deb keeps the stepchildren (whom she dislikes) so that shecan get their social security allotment; Jennifer is sent out to work at aresidence that is run by Deb's creepy Freedom Community Church. She is 11 by thetime that her aunt and uncle rescue her--a moment that is nearly as exultant for readersas it is for the girl whose trials they have shared for nearly 400 pages. Herharrowing story might sound unrelievedly grim in the retelling, but Lauck's lackof self-pity and the delicacy of her prose transform it into an odyssey ofendurance and transcendence. --Wendy Smith ... Read more

Reviews (92)

5-0 out of 5 stars A great memoir!
Jennifer Lauck superbly tells the tale of the first decade of her life. I'm amazed at how she can recount the early events of her life with such detail, but that also shows how much those events still live with her today. She told the story with the innocence of a child and yet at such a young age she was very aware of her surrounding and what was going on. She had to grow up too fast and didn't have much of a childhood. Losing both her mother and father, then her brother being distanced from her must have been hard. To top that off, she often read Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which ended up shadowing her own life. She had an "evil stepmother" and ended up being put in a shelter, which provided her with an escape from her horrible stepfamily. She made lots of friends and things were going good until her stepmother re-entered her life.
As a mother, I find Jennifer's bond with her real mother very heart warming. Even though her mother died when Jennifer was still young and her mother was sick most of her life, it's touching to read how Jennifer remembers her mother with such fondness and love. They didn't have much time together, but what time they did have shaped the rest of young Jennifer's life.
It is an absolutely fabolous story that I'm glad I had a chance to read. It's inspiring to know that the petty problems I face day-to-day are nothing like what Jennifer Lauck has faced. I would definitely encourage everyone to read this book!

4-0 out of 5 stars Triumph over tragedy
I bought this book several years ago.I was hesitant to read it amid all the hype (as my expectations of such things are rarely met) and it has been sitting on my book shelf gathering dust for nearly four years.I have to say, I am disappointed that it took me so long to get around to reading this powerful memoir."Blackbird" not only met my expectations; it exceeded them.I was truly touched by Ms. Lauck's recount of her terribly short-lived childhood.Lauck has an undeniably expressive style.She writes emotion beautifully and the reader has a definite sense of being present in Jennifer (Jenny) Lauck's life.Jenny Lauck is a tormented and distraught five-year-old little girl; her young life is full of misfortune and catastrophe (starting with the death of her mother).The adults in Jenny's life, with the exception of her father, are cruel and unyielding, polar opposites of the nurturing role models that they should be; but the reader is invariably buoyed by Jenny's peaceful spirit and impenetrable strength, which she unfortunately fails to see in herself.Throughout the story, Jenny speaks of crying too much and being weak, but her courage and fortitude are the only things that provide any stability in her young life.Jenny is proof that children are incredibly resilient and resourceful beings.Jenny Lauck handles each upheaval in her young life with incredible grace and perfect style, and Jennifer Lauck (the author speaking for the child) tells her tale with titanic clarity and unequivocal conviction.Why four stars then?Lauck is exceedingly redundant at times.At first, the redundancy seemed artistic and well-placed in the dialogue of a child's thoughts; but, by the end of Part Two I was frustrated with the excessive descriptions of the pictures in Jenny's copy of Snow White (among other irritating narrative repetitions).Character perspective is absolutely imperative to a good narrative, but so is being aware of who your audience is and what they will find compelling versus what they will merely tolerate.It wasn't so obnoxious that it discouraged me from finishing the memoir, but it interfered enough to merit a warning. Aside from that, I found "Blackbird" to be a gripping, dramatic tale of loss and redemption and I would highly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Memoir
As a writing mentor, I work with a number of people who want to write memoirs.Many of them have experienced traumatic childhoods.I routinely recommend that they read Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found, in order to learn how a master of memoir handles writing about abandonment, abuse, and mental illness without blame, self-pity, or sentimentality.Lauck uses her skills as a journalist to shape a compelling memoir of her childhood.Her courage and well-honed craft are outstanding.She not only has connected with readers, but has helped many of them along the path of healing.

5-0 out of 5 stars my story?
I felt like Ms. Lauck was writing my story. Her experiences and feelings were so similar to mine it was unreal. I cried from the moment I picked it up to the second I put it down. I cried because it was a sad story, I cried because I related, I cried because someone had finally put my feelings on paper.
Thank you Jennifer Lauck.

5-0 out of 5 stars real page turner
BLACKBIRD is a fabulous piece of work, a real memoir. Yet almost seems fiction in its accounts of life. This book has some wonderful qualities like that of NIGHTMARES ECHO,LOST BOY and COURAGE TO HEAL.
This is a real page turner,excellent style. ... Read more

47. What Falls Away
list price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553473468
Catlog: Book (1997-02-03)
Publisher: Random House Audio
Sales Rank: 1009938
Average Customer Review: 4.32 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Biography Large Print Edition A simply elegant memoir. Newsweek * A New York Times Bestseller In an exquisitely written memoir, Mia Farrow introduces us to her extraordinary life. The painful custody battle with Woody Allen led her to reflect on the incidents that had brought her to a place so incomprehensible. The result is What Falls Away, a memoir resonant with honest and beautifully crafted prose. Told with grace, understanding and humor, it goes beneath the surface of an amazing life to expose the inner workings of a mind and spirit for whom truth, compassion and faith are essential. Readers will not easily forget this remarkable book. ... Read more

Reviews (38)

4-0 out of 5 stars An eloquent memoir of a troubled life lived selflessly
Truly memorable. I have gained much respect for this woman who I knew little of other than her role as Mrs. Woody Allen and the mother of Rosemary's Baby. Mia is truly a woman who has spent her life in the service of others, but who has had very little left to give to herself. I come away feeling that Mr. Allen's unquestioned genius is a subversion of and reaction to the unspeakable darkness that occupies his soul. There are no villains in this story so much as there are victims. Mia's children are blessed to have such a loving mother; Woody's despicable behavior in all its bizarre manifestations is the outward expression of a tormented soul that will never know peace, joy, or true happiness. He is surely suffering, as he has caused profound suffering in others. I wish Ms. Farrow and her children peace, love, and finally, contentment. But most of all, peace.

5-0 out of 5 stars Touching and beautiful. Not soon forgotten.
Mia Farrow's life has been full of challenges, children, and celebrities, yet she has come through it all as open, caring, and strong as she could possibly be. If you want to read her account of the whole Woody Allen / Soon-Yi / Dylan Farrow affair, read this book. If you have ever seen any of the movies she or either of her parents have been in, read this book. If you have children, read this book. If you find any joy in life, read this book to reaffirm that there are a few simply magnificent and good people in this world.

5-0 out of 5 stars Loved this!
I usually love to read a good mystery. I decided to try this one out and loved it! Mia is so honest about her life's ups and downs. I recommend this!

3-0 out of 5 stars Farrow "Falls Away"
"What Falls Away" was apparently any sense of innocence that Mia Farrow had when she broke up with Woody Allen. Farrow's autobiography has a sort of wispy appeal, with her stories about life with Frank Sinatra and Andre Previn, but it only comes to life in the last third of the book.

Farrow came from a celebrity family and started acting early. It was the cause of her deteriorated brief marriage to legendary singer Frank Sinatra, and new homebody ways didn't save her second marriage to Andre Previn -- but she did adopt many special-needs or orphaned children, alongside her own biological ones. But her sprawling adopted family was imperiled when her longtime boyfriend Woody Allen was found to be having an affair with her adopted daughter.

The first two-thirds of "What Falls Away" lacks any real punch. It's low-sugar cotton candy, with Farrow talking about the celebrity life and her time with her two husbands. And she talks about adopting children, of course -- although as the number goes up, it gets harder and harder to tell them apart.

But Farrow's biography starts showing a pulse a third of the way. Her long-term affair with Woody Allen was a bit of a freakshow, and it's only when it comes to Allen that Farrow starts to show any passion of any kind -- good, bad, or just passionate. She tries to hold back her obvious -- and justifiable -- anger, but it seeps through the ink.

Unfortunately, as "What Falls Away" starts to show signs of life, Farrow's own portrait of herself unravels. It comes across as alarming that she was merely worried by Allen's bizarre behavior toward Dylan, a young girl he sexually abused. And that after finding explicitly pornographic photographs of her adopted daughter, Farrow went back to work with Allen. Yet Farrow seems helpless to stop Allen from doing anything. She couldn't even throw him out of her apartment -- her son had to do it.

Farrow's writing is wisp-thin and sort of vaguely new-agey, especially when she writes about her transcendental trips with the Beatles back in the sixties. It's not that good, but it's pleasant enough. Virtually everyone is painted in rosy hues, save Allen (who is painted a sort of slimy sludge color) and Soon-Yi (Farrow obviously doesn't know what her daughter is thinking). In fact, it's hard to tell what Farrow herself is thinking -- she only seems to skim the top of her feelings.

Mia Farrow doesn't exactly bare her soul in "What Falls Away." What she does do is expose Woody Allen, and a life that mixes the disquieting and the impressive.

4-0 out of 5 stars ENCHANTING AND REAL
I was ready for anything with this book. I love the idea of Mia Farrow's unconventional lifestyle and her eccentricity but that does not a great writer make. However, I was really happily surprised at her lovely writing style. She is a natural talent. Her writing voice is clear and elegant and does justice to her very interesting life. I, of course, was interested in the Woody Allen scandal, but that is only a small part of what this book has to offer. Wonderful read. ... Read more

by Barbara Bush
list price: $25.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0671880136
Catlog: Book (1994-10-01)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Sales Rank: 595360
Average Customer Review: 3.89 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Politics aside, people worldwide have come to admire Barbara Bush's wit, candor and compassion, as well as her unswerving devotion to her husband and children.Now, she gives listeners a very private look at a life she lived in the public eye for more than 25 years.With the contemporary American history as the backdrop, Mrs. Bush remembers the experiences that led to the White House, from growing up in Rye, New York and meeting George Bush, through life as a young bride and mother and the almost unbearable pain of losing a child.She talks candidly about her years in public life in Washington, New York and China, and describes her role as the wife of the Vice President, culminating in the climactic White House years.Drawing upon excerpts from the diary she has compiled for more than 30 years, Mrs. Bush takes us behind the scenes of the Persian Gulf conflict and the end of the Cold War, and introduces us to the world leaders and their spouses with whom she has developed friendships over the years.She also talks about both the Bushes' struggle to overcome Graves Disease, the disappointment of the 1992 Presidential campaign and the joys of rediscovering private life, and tells us why she threw so much of her energy and compassion behind the important cause of making America more literate.Filled with the funny, often self-deprecating and occasionally touching anecdotes for which she is well-known, Mrs. Bush's memoir will charm her millions of admirers and earn her many more. ... Read more

Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars Takes you around the world while meeting famous people.
This is a great book. You truly see what it is like to live in the political world. Barbara Bush uses humor and moving stories to show what her life was like in China, New York, Washington, D.C., and Texas. Her positive atitude towards people is truly encouraging. I look up to her.

5-0 out of 5 stars I choose to love it!
I was 18 when Bush ran for office in 1988 and that was my first election to vote in. Needless to say, I voted for George Bush. I only wish I would have paid closer attention to his presidency then, because all dignity, grace, and respect left the White House with Barbara and he. Barbara Bush tells the story about a good life with no apologies. Everyone strives for the American dream, but few people enjoy it once they possess it. As a mother of three now, myself, I can appreciate her willingness to love and support her husband and family. I appreciate that she is a self realized person in her own right and was never threatened by, nor felt she had to compete with her husband's success. I loved being introduced to "Bar's" George Bush. Here is a loving husband, devoted father and grandfather, and a decent human being. Most of all, I appreciate the words she repeats several times in her book... "In life, we can choose to love what we do or hate it, I choose to love it" This book is very inspiring and should certainly pull the reader out of any depression or slump he may find himself in.

Finally, I will be voting for another George Bush next month!

1-0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Mind
After reading this book, I was reminded of Richard Nixon's famous remark; "there's a woman who knows how to hate!" I've never seen a person (outside of her own son, G.W.,) with a more deceptive public persona. Maybe Kitty Kelly will one day take a crack at writing a more true to life portrayal of this hateful harridan.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Warm and Interesting Look
After reading this book, her husband's second book, and finally her second memoir, I did have a profound respect for her dignity, love for her family, and stamina. This book was an easy read and was absolutely fascinating to go along on exotic trips and learning about the side kick's day to day existence as wife to President. The book made me admire the Bush's as a couple more, the love for their kids and each other, and their principles, even if I did not agree with all of the latter.

3-0 out of 5 stars Uneven book by a nice lady
It was interesting to learn more about Barbara Bush and her life. In particular I enjoyed to read about her younger days. This was something I hadn't heard much about before, and I thought it was nice to read about her family and friends, and not the least about how she met her husband George Bush. There was so much I didn't know, and the pages turned quickly.

I also enjoyed the end of the book. It was great to learn more about how she experienced the Gulf War and, in the end, the loss in the final president election that her husband was a part of. In this part, I found what I felt was missing in the middle part of the book: I felt she was more open about what she thought about people and situations than she was when it came to the Vice President and President years. It's natural to think that she couldn't be so open about what she thought about political leaders and situations during that period. I find that understandable, but it made this part of 'A Memoir' duller to read than the rest of book.

Even so, I liked Barbara Bush, because she seemed like a nice lady. ... Read more

49. Professor and The Madman, The : Unabridged
by Simon Winchester
list price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0694522430
Catlog: Book (1999-09-01)
Publisher: HarperAudio
Sales Rank: 146569
Average Customer Review: 3.81 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

National Bestseller!

One of the greatest literary achievements in the history of English letters, the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary began in 1857, took seventy years to complete, and drew from tens of thousands of brilliant minds. But hidden within the rituals of its creation is a fascinating and mysterious story.

Professor James Murray was the distinguished editor of the OED project. Dr. William Chester Minor, an American surgeon who had served in the Civil War, was one of thousands of contributors to the dictionary. But Minor was no ordinary contributor. He was remarkably prolific, sending thousands of neat, hand-written quotations from his home. On numerous occasions Murray invited Minor to visit Oxford and celebrate his work, but Murray's offer was regularly, mysteriously, refused.

Finally, a puzzled Murray set out to visit him. It was then that Murray would finally learn the truth about Minor . . . that, in addition to being a masterly wordsmith, Minor was also a murderer, clinically insane - and locked up in Broadmoor, England's harshest asylum for criminal lunatics.

The Professor and the Madman is an extraordinary tale of madness and genius, and the incredible obsessions of two men at the heart of the Oxford English Dictionary and literary history. Written with riveting insight and detail, Simon Winchester delivers a fascinating glimpse into one man's tortured mind and his contribution to another man's magnificent dictionary.

... Read more

Reviews (344)

3-0 out of 5 stars Too little story, too much padding...
The title of this book, "The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary" is far more intriguing than the book itself. Once you get the main idea, that one of the most important contributors to the Oxford English Dictionary was an American living in a mad-house, there's not much more to tell. And yet, Simon Winchester goes on to tell it for another 200 or so pages.

The problem is that what sounds like a fascinating story really isn't. I mean, nothing much happens. Dr. W. C. Minor is delusional, murders a man, and is placed in a mental institution. Dr. Murray begins work on the Oxford Dictionary and makes a public request for volunteers to read through books and find examples of words. Dr. Minor responds to the advertisement from his cell, and is of great help.

Time passes. Eventually, both men die of old age.

End of story.

Simon Winchester tries to fill pages with baseless supposition, along the lines of "Perhaps it was this early experience of watching young maidens bathing in the river that would eventually lead Dr. Minor to the confused mental state that would, ultimately, land him in a mental hospital." After a while, though, one can't help thinking, it would have been nice if this book had an actual story behind it. "Perhaps Dr. Minor had an affair with the widow of the man he murdered. Although there is no evidence to suggest that anything of the kind ever occurred..."

What was interesting was seeing some of the early definitions of the words themselves, but that was a very small part of the book. Ultimately, "The Professor and the Madman" is a bit of fluff. There's enough information to make for a fascinating 5-page article, but it's extended and padded to fill a book.

Only for the very bored...

4-0 out of 5 stars interesting story
This is a marvelous book about the Professor, James Murray, the primary editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, and the Madman, Dr. William C. Minor, one of the Dictionary's most prolific contributors, despite his incarceration in an asylum for the criminally insane after committing a senseless murder provoked by his delusions. The book tells the stories of each of these protagonists as well as the making of the OED itself, and nicely wraps up all of the connections, even to the point of showing what happened to the murdered man's family (whose widow visited Minor regularly
for months).

3-0 out of 5 stars Quick read for philologists, historians, and others.
I like reading the occasional historical fact (rather than historical fiction) "novelette," and The Professor and the Madman was definitely easy to get through. One can learn much from books like this, particularly the way normal people lived their day-to-day lives in a certain time and place.

A few things I liked about this book:

1. One will assuredly learn a thing or two about the English language, in reading it. You will learn some obsolete words, the origin of some words, and just get a refresher of other, more common words. Each chapter begins with a dictionary entry of a particular word, some very normal words, some more exotic words.

2. The parallel lives of the two main characters are interesting to follow. One feels real emotions for both. There are a few shocking moments in the book, which stand out quite a bit in front of the otherwise fairly tame narrative.

3. I grew up with the Oxford English Dictionary, and I always wondered how they compiled all the words. It was great learning about how they did that.

4. The book covers an array of themes and topics, and a fairly diverse geography. Mental illness, civil war, sexual propriety, crime and punishment, one can learn a little bit about a lot of issues in the reading of Simon Winchester's book.

I wouldn't recommend the book to just anyone, though. It can be kind of slow, and sometimes one simply grows tired of bouncing back and forth between the two main characters. It is also fairly short; one sort of wishes for more detail on certain events. In some places, the book reads like a crime/detective novel from the 19th century, in others it is more like a biography. It sort of skips around from one style to the next, almost as if different parts were written at very different times by an author in very different states of mind. Overall, though, this book is a nice, quick read, a good plot, and you will learn a thing or two from it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Footnote to History
Simon Winchester has written a very unusual book about a very strange series of events during the last century and the dawn of this one. First, we have various literary authorities in England deciding to compile and edit a massive dictionary (eventually it became the Oxford English Dictionary), which took 70 years to finish and filled multiple volumes. Then we have the editor of the project for most of its life discovering that one of his most valuable contributors was in a lunatic asylum because he murdered someone. The story goes from there.

Winchester is a good writer, and he milks this story for everything it's worth. He spends a good deal of time talking about side issues, as is common with this sort of slice-of-life thing. He does a very good job with them, as far as I can tell. I'm pretty knowledgeable with regards to the American Civil War; the author must tell you of the Battle of the Wilderness to explain how the murderer went mad, and he does so skilfully. The writing of the OED and its contents are intelligently discussed and dissected, and the history of dictionaries themselves was fascinating. The other characters, namely the editor of the dictionary itself, James Murray, are interesting and well-drawn.

I enjoyed this book a great deal. It is short, but it's fascinating, and I would recommend it pretty much universally.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fun and Accessible
Being a dictionary enthusiast, especially of the OED, I was excited to come across this book. It reads quickly, and has a wealth of factual information and also some fun speculation. The author uses lots of words which are themselves fun to look up, but also has OED references printed right in. I suggest that any fan of the OED read this book. ... Read more

50. Quivers : A Life/Cassettes
by Robin Quivers
list price: $17.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0694516074
Catlog: Book (1995-05-01)
Publisher: Harper Audio
Sales Rank: 407610
Average Customer Review: 3.75 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Worth the price
A pity this book is out of print. I recently obtained a copy at a local thrift store, and it was more than worth what I paid for it. In many ways Robin Quivers' book is more interesting than Howard Stern's two biographies--her path to the Howard Stern show was not the straight path that Stern himself took. She worked in nursing, she went into the military, and she got involved with Werner Erhard-inspired self-help groups. Her upbringing was in a lower or lower-middle class home where she was subjected to abuse.

5-0 out of 5 stars I liked it
A little dry in some places, this is still an interesting book. Robin is an interesting woman who has had an interesting life. The childhood sexual abuse at the hands of her father, her time in the military, and her involvement in transcendental meditation, make for a varied life that explains why Ms. Quivers is the perfect companion for Howard Stern on his daily radio show. She is such an intelligent and clear-minded woman, which is amazing considering what she has come out of.

All hail the Queen of All Media!

3-0 out of 5 stars Publishing plans for BABA BOOEY: A LIFE have been canceled
When it was released several years ago, QUIVERS: A LIFE, the autobiography of radio and television's "Howard Stern Show" member Robin Quivers, had a short life on the bookstore shelves.

QUIVERS: A LIFE seems to have met the same fate as the musical careers of the Stern Show's Stuttering John Melendez and Fred Norris: a quick exit to WhoCares?ville. Public interest in even the closest associates of Howard Stern proves limited if Stern himself does not participate in the project. Just because Miss Quivers' life is part of "The Howard Stern Show," that does not mean the public wants a book independent of Stern's involvement.

Even Billy West and Jackie Martling, the most talented performers to work with Howard Stern, have not reached anything resembling stardom. It seems the sum of the parts do not equal the whole Stern show.

I imagine book publishers canceled plans for BABA BOOEY: A LIFE after QUIVERS: A LIFE proved lifeless to the book-buying public.

Funny thing is, the well-written QUIVERS: A LIFE keeps the pages turning. Robin Quivers gives the blow-by-blow on her troubled childhood and the resulting tough adjustment she had as an adult. And of course, the anecdotes about working with Howard Stern also keep it interesting.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good background Knowledge
If you like to listen or watch Howard Stern, and you love his side kick Robin, then this book is a must read. It gives you insite to her life and helps explain a lot of things. While it was not the best book I have read, I did enjoy it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Attention Howard Stern/Robin Quivers fans!
If you are a Howard Stern show fan, and want to hear Robin's side of things, read her book or listen to these tapes. It was great to actually hear Robin tell her story in tape format. She has definately not had an easy road to stardom and this reveals some trials and tribulations she went through to attain and achieve her goals. The story gives you a new outlook on Robin and explains why she is the way she is. A definate must! ... Read more

51. Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time
by Dava Sobel
list price: $17.95
our price: $17.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1559273976
Catlog: Book (1996-03-01)
Publisher: Audio Renaissance
Sales Rank: 344796
Average Customer Review: 3.89 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

An exciting scientific adventure from the days of wooden ships and iron men, Longitude is full of heroism and chicanery, brilliance and the absurd.It is also a captivating brief history of astronomy, navigation and clockmaking.

For centuries, the determination of longitude was thought to be an impossibility.Lacking the ability to measure their longitude, sailors throughout the great ages of exploration had been literally lost at sea as soon as they lost sight of land.

The quest for a solution had occupied scientists for the better part of two centuries when, in 1714, England's Parliament upped the ante by offering a king's ransom -- £20,000, or about $12,000,000 in today's currency -- to anyone whose method or device proved successful.Countless quacks weighed in with preposterous suggestions.

Then one man -- an unschooled woodworker named John Harrison -- dared to imagine a mechanical solution, a clock that would keep precise time at sea, something no clock had ever been able to do on land.Longitude is the dramatic human story of an epic scientific quest, and of Harrison's forty-year obsession with building his perfect timekeeper, known today as the chronometer.
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Reviews (209)

4-0 out of 5 stars Amazing subject, fascinating story
With "Longitude" Dava Sobel has written a very interesting book about the greatest scientific problem of the 18th century.

As a result of the 1707-shipwreck story (with a loss of 4 out of the 5 ships), the English Parliament offered in 1714 a 20.000 pounds reward to the person that could provide a practicable and useful way of determining longitude. (If you have forgot, longitude is the "lines" that runs from pole to pole). Not being able to determining longitude was a great problem. Ships spent excessive time trying to find its way back to port, or worse men, ship and cargo were lost at sea.

John Harrison (1693-1776) spent his lifetime trying to solve the longitude mystery. Harrison was a son of a countryman, with minimal schooling, and was self-educated in watch making. He made several timepieces, which all qualified for the reward, but the reward was delayed several times by the Longitude committee whom believed that other ways of measuring longitude were the preferred ones. Ultimately after a lot of harassment and trouble, Harrison was given the reward money.

Dava Sobel has done a wonderful job in this book, capturing Harrison's fascinating character, his brilliance, preserving and hard working nature. The author has also managed to strike a perfect balance between technical jargon and personal anecdotes, and she does it in such a way permitting the lay readers of the book to admire the elegance of Harrison's discoveries. I believe it is a sign of excellent quality when an author makes learning so interesting.

I was hooked from the first page of this book and I read it in 50-page gulps at a time.

Highly recommended!

5-0 out of 5 stars John Harrison--an extraordinary person
John Harrison (1693-1776) spent his lifetime inventing and perfecting a series of timepieces to measure longitude. As Dava Sobel relates in her engaging narrative, "Longitude," until the 18th century sailors navigated by following parallels of latitude and roughly estimating distance traveled east or west. Ships routinely missed their destinations, often taking excessive time to arrive or succumbing to reefs off fogbound shores. Thousands of sailors and tons of cargo were lost.

In 1714, England's Parliament offered £20,000 (the equivalent of about $12 million today) to anyone who provided a "practicable and useful" means of determining longitude. Countless solutions were suggested, some bizarre, some impractical, some workable only on land and others far too complex.

Most astronomers believed the answer lay in the sky, but Harrison, a clockmaker, imagined a mechanical solution--a clock that would keep precise time at sea. By knowing the exact times at the Greenwich meridian and at a ship's position, one could find longitude by calculating the time difference. However, most scientists, including Isaac Newton, discounted a clock because there were too many variables at sea. Changes in temperature, air pressure, humidity and gravity would surely render a watch inaccurate.

Harrison persisted. As Dava Sobel writes, he worked on his timepiece for decades, though he suffered skepticism and ridicule. Even after completing his timepiece, an instrument we now call a chronometer, in 1759, he underwent a long series of unfair trials and demonstrations. Ultimately he triumphed.

Sobel, a science writer who contributes to Audubon, Life, Omni and other magazines, captures John Harrison's extraordinary character: brilliant, persevering and heroic in the face of adversity. He is a man you won't forget.

4-0 out of 5 stars Brief but enjoyable
This slim volume tells the story of John Harrison who, although untrained, built four revolutionary clocks that changed how ships navigate at sea. It also tells about the political fight Harrison was forced to fight to win recognition for his work.

Written in a easy-to-read, "magazine" tone the tale goes quickly, whole years pass in a couple sentences. I wanted more details and this is where the book disappoints but it may not be the authors fault The book hints that many events weren't recorded and more details just aren't available.

One technical note: I think the font used in this tiny, five by eight inch book is a little small and the page numbers, even smaller, aren't readable at a glance. Or maybe I'm getting old.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great story, but BEWARE of inaccuracies in this book.
John Harrison completes his first pendulum clock in 1713 before the age of 20. He made the gears for this out of wood which was radical for such a use, but as a carpenter, perhaps not to him---which is a mark of genius, I'd say; to reach beyond accepted norms in this manner. This he did after borrowing a book on math and the laws of motion; which he copied word for word, making his own copy. He incorporated different varieties of wood into his clock for strenth and later invented a bi-metal pendulum to counteract the expansion and compression of various individual metals. He also employed friction-free movements so as to do away with problematic lubricants. When intrigued by the puzzle of time at sea and the issue of longitude he contemplated substituting something not prone to gravity, as a pendulum of course is, to track times passing. In 1737 he creates a cantilevered clock 4 foot square. This the longitude board (which had offered a cash bonus to anyone who could devise a method in which time at sea could be kept) admired. Four years later he returns with an improved model; then starts on a 3rd model, like the previous two, also a fairly large sized clock.But there exists a problem within this book: An artisan freemason by the name of John Jefferys at the Worshipful Company of clockmakers befriends Harrison and then later presents to him a pocket watch in 1753. Then in 1755, while still working on his 3rd model, Harrison says this to the Longitude board: I have..."good reason to think" on the basis of a watch "already executed that such small machines[he's referring to pocketwatches] may be of great service with respect to longitude." He then completes version 3 in 1759. His fourth version appears just a year later, however, and is a 5 inch wide pocketwatch! The obvious inference made by the author is that after he received the pocketwatch from Jeffreys he seemingly put his version #3 on the backburner and soon started on the pocketwatch 4th version. The author does not claim Harrison copied anything from the Jeffreys model, but she certainly phrases this section so as to lend one to believe that this may have been the case; that Jefferys had a hand in the masterstroke invention Harrison eventually produced in version #4. This is not true. Harrison commissioned the watch he received from Jeffreys and was based on Harrison's specifications. It seems that Harrison simply asked Jeffreys to test an idea which he himself hadn't the time to attack just then; as he was still working on his 3rd version of a table-top prototype clock. Hence Harrison's above statement to the board in 1755 whence his ideas were validated by Jeffreys. In addition, the author plays up the part of the Astronomer Royal's part in attempting to impede Harrison from convincing the longitiude board of the efficacy of a time-piece solution to this problem over a celestial answer to this conundrum. The author also jazzes up the issue of whether Harrison received the prize the board promised to pay for a successful solution herein; even though the board supported him for upwards of 20 years as he pursued this quest. It's as if the author intentionally omitted some facts (that the Jefferys was a Harrison commission), and pumped up others (of a rival/foil on the board trying to impede Harrison and the compensation issue; implying that Harrison was jipped) just to make the story more compelling. John Harrison's story, however, is extremely compelling as it is and didn't need this extra spice served up by the author.Do read this (very short) book on how this Mr. Harrison solved the problem of knowing where one is when at sea; and if you're in London, visit the Old Royal Observatory and the Clockmakers museum (in the Guildhall) where you can see Harrison's wonderful creations in person. Enjoy!

4-0 out of 5 stars The Man who Captured Time so Ships could Navigate Accurately

Note: This review has been written from a city with the following position on Earth:

LATITUDE: (43 degrees 2 minutes North)
LONGITUDE: (81 degrees 9 minutes West).

In order to understand the significance of this remarkable book by Dava Sobel, the reader has to understand some words and phrases in the book's title and subtitle.

"Longitude" along with Latitude are two numbers along with compass directions that are used to fix the position of anything on the planet Earth (as in the note above). Lines of Latitude are the imaginary, parallel, horizontal lines circling the Earth with the equator (fixed by nature) being the "zero-degree parallel of latitude." Lines of Longitude or "meridians" are the imaginary lines that run top to bottom (north and south), from the Earth's North Pole to its South Pole with the "prime meridian" (established by political means) being the "zero-degree meridian of longitude." (Since the mid-1880s, the prime merdian has passed through Greenwich, England. Before this time, the imaginary line that passed through a ship's home port was usually used as the zero-degree meridian.)

Finding the latitude on land or at sea was easy and eventually a device was invented to make it even easier. But finding longitude, especially at sea on a swaying ship was difficult, a difficulty "that stumped the wisest minds of the world for the better part of human history" and was "the greatest scientific problem" of the 1700s. Ways of determining longitude astronomically were devised, but these proved to be impractical when used at sea.

England's parliament recognized that "the longitude problem" had to be solved practically since many people and valuable cargo were lost at sea when the ship's navigators lost sight of land. Thus, this parliament offered a top monetary prize that's equivalent to many millions of dollars today to anybody who could solve the problem.

Enter "a lone genius" named John Harrison (1693 to 1776). While most thought the solution to the problem was astronomical, Harrison saw time as the solution.

To calculate the longitude using time on a ship at sea, you have to realize these two facts found in this book:

(i) The Earth takes 24 hours of time to spin 360 degrees on its axis from east to west.
(ii) Noon (12:00 PM) is the highest point the sun seems to "travel" in a day.

To learn one's longitude at sea using time, as this book explains, it's necessary to do the following:

(1) Know the time it is aboard ship (local noon was normally used because of fact (ii) above).
(2) At the very same moment, know the time at a known longitude (such as at Greenwich, England).
(3) The difference in time between (1) and (2) is coverted to a longitude reading in degrees and direction (using fact (i) above).

Harrison's solution was the accurate determination of time of (2) above by inventing a reliable timepiece. This timepiece, in this case, would be set to Greenwich time. (Note that, as stated, (1) could be determined using the noon-day sun but this was not always practical. Eventually another timepiece was used to determine the ship's local noon for a particular day.) It has to be realized that this was the "era of pendulum clocks" where, on a deck of a rocking ship, "such clocks would slow down or speed up, or stop running altogether." Harrison was to capture time by building a marine clock or "timekeeper" (eventually called a "chronometer") that could be used on a ship at sea.

This book tells the "true story" of Harrison and his chronometers. (There were five built over a forty-year period. Harrison's first timekeeping device was known as H-1, his second was H-2, and so on.) Sobel uses accuracy (as evidenced by her thirty references), extensive interviews, and an engaging, mostly non-technical narrative (only essential technical detail is included) to convey a story that's filled with suspense, heroism, perfectionism, and villiany. All this in less than 200 pages!!

The only problem I had with this book is that it has hardly any pictures (photographs and illustrations). I would have liked to have seen pictures of the various people involved in this saga, maps showing where ships traveled, more photos of Harrison's amazing timepieces (both interior and exterior), and diagrams that explained important concepts. A diagram that actually showed how longitude, using a simple example, is calculated (using the steps above) would also have been helpful.

Finally, there is a good 1999 movie entitled "Longitude" based on this book. Be aware that even though this book is short, the movie is long (over three hours).

In conclusion, this book documents the exciting "true story" of how "a lone genius" solved "the longitude problem." Sobel states this more eloquently: "With his marine clocks, John Harrison tested the waters of space-time. He succeeded, against all odds, in using the fourth...dimension to link points on a three-dimensional globe. He [took] the world's whereabouts from the stars, and locked [or captured] the secret in"

<=====> ... Read more

52. America's Queen: The Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (Nova Audio Books)
by Sarah Bradford, Sandra Burr
list price: $34.95
our price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1587881446
Catlog: Book (2000-10-01)
Publisher: Nova Audio Books
Sales Rank: 1050369
Average Customer Review: 3.81 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The definitive biography of Jackie Kennedy Onassis from the bestselling author of Elizabeth

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis has captivated the American public for more than five decades. From her introduction to the world as "debutante of the year"in 1947 to her untimely death in 1994, she has truly remained America's answer to royalty. In America's Queen, the acclaimed biographer of Queen Elizabeth and Princess Grace reveals the real Jackie in a sympathetic but frank portrait of an amazing woman who has dazzled us since her teenage years.

Using remarkable new sources--including in-depth interviews with Jackie's sister Lee Radziwell, lavish illustrations, and previously unseen photographs from family sources--Sarah Bradford has written a timely celebration of a life that was more private than commonly supposed. Jackie's privileged upbringing instilled rigid self-control while her expedient marriage into the overwhelming Kennedy clan consolidated her determination. Revealing new testimony from many of the couple's friends shows the profound complexities both of this apparently very public relationship and of her controversial marriage to Aristotle Onassis.Here is the private Jackie--neglected wife, vigilant mother, and working widow--whose contradictory and fascinating nature is illuminated by all that Bradford has discovered. ... Read more

Reviews (27)

5-0 out of 5 stars the most wonderful book
This is my ultimate favorite book. I have read it a million times just because it's so fun and exciting to read.
What a glamorous life one had! She also led the most complex and interesting life with Jack Kennedy and Onassis. Sadly she had to face too many deaths of her loved ones during her life time, but she endured it with dignity and class.
I honestly think there is no one one can compare with Jackie Kennedy concerning elegance and feminism. She truely is a symbol of intelligence, wealth, fortune. That's one reason I like her so much- not only was she beautiful but also intelligent and smart.
Sarah Bradford is one of my favorite writers. Her writing is simply elegant and honest and so detailed. It's unlike any other book I have read. I often wonder how she gathered all this information and how she managed to get these rare interviews from all these people who were very close with Jackie. Sometimes I think it's more of her writing that interests me more than Jackie's actual life.
I strongly recommend this book to everyone. It's fast paced and simply too good not to read.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Real Jackie Kennedy
I highly recommend this biography of Jackie. It is, by far, the best I've read. Bradford shows us a real woman, not a myth, and there are so many stunning details. The personality of Jackie's mother particularly shocked me. How did Jackie survive the terrible, manipulative environment of her childhood? This biography highlighted such salient details, such as: - her mother's prevention of her being escorted down the aisle by her father on her wedding day; - Jackie and her sister Lee taking a back seat in the Auchincloss step family; - Jackie's unique contribution to American history through her championing of the arts (redecorating the White House, securing the Egyptian exhibit for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, preserving the Grand Central Station in NYC, and so much else) - Most of all, the strength of her marriage to JFK. Bradford did a better job than any other biographer, of explaining the complex and developing relationship between the two. I highly recommend this book!

5-0 out of 5 stars A truly well-balanced account of an extraordinary person
This elegant biography of Mrs. Kennedy-Onassis may very well be the most insightful work to gain a hold on this elusive American legend for some time to come. Unlike the many other Jackie biographies out there, this one is neither worshipful nor excessively fault-finding with its subject. Yet, while exposing the more unpleasant sides of Jackie's character (in essence, bringing her down to earth with the rest of us), "America's Queen" takes a decidedly more sympathetic route, with numerous sentences that begin "To be fair to Jackie...", etc, that assures that her virtues are still underscored while her faults are not smoothed over. In other words, skip the Christopher Anderson/Edward Klein accounts if you opt for exhaustively researched information and intimate analyses rather than sensationalistic prose and shameless cashing-in on Jackie's fame.
I also think it is a tribute to the author as much to the subject that this book is so exceptional. I think Jackie, lover of literature that she was, would have appreciated the numerous literary passages preceding some of the chapters. Despite her distaste for exposure, I think she would have felt in fairly good hands had she known the diligence, sensitivity, and, most of all, sense of morality and balance that went into this work.

4-0 out of 5 stars Shares a variety of views on JKO
"America's Queen" was an interesting read. The first chapter on her family tree was complicated and hard to follow due to the introduction of so many names. However, as the book began to tell the story of how Jackie came to be was great because of the many different point of views that were presented by those who knew Jackie.

2-0 out of 5 stars Have read better regarding this remarkable woman.
I have read right many books regarding Jackie, and I just didn't like this book. It was scattered and didn't always concentrate on her story. The whole book seemed to make her out as a money hungry thoughtless woman. I didn't like how it portrayed her at all. Very disappointed. ... Read more

53. All Souls: A Family Story from Southie
by Michael Patrick Macdonald, William Dufris
list price: $69.95
our price: $69.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0792723767
Catlog: Book (2000-06-01)
Publisher: Sound Library
Sales Rank: 501927
Average Customer Review: 4.55 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Michael Patrick MacDonald grew up in "the best place in the world"--the Old Colony projects of South Boston--where 85% of the residents collect welfare in an area with the highest concentration of impoverished whites in the U.S. In All Souls, MacDonald takes us deep into the secret heart of Southie. With radiant insight, he opens up a contradictory world, where residents are besieged by gangs and crime but refuse to admit any problems, remaining fiercely loyal to their community. MacDonald also introduces us to the unforgettable people who inhabit this proud neighborhood. We meet his mother, Ma MacDonald, an accordion-playing, spiked-heel-wearing, indomitable mother to all; Whitey Bulger, the lord of Southie, gangster and father figure, protector and punisher; and Michael's beloved siblings, nearly half of whom were lost forever to drugs, murder, or suicide. By turns explosive and touching, All Souls ultimately shares a powerful message of hope, renewal, and redemption. ... Read more

Reviews (141)

5-0 out of 5 stars All Souls
My reactions relate not only to the reading "All Souls" but to other reviews of the work. I should state with clarity that I am familiar neither with the individuals in the book nor with the history of Southie. Yet MacDonald's book is vital to both the story of urban centers such as Boston but also to the untold story of white poverty in the United States. Books such as "All Souls" and more militant pieces such as "The Redneck Manifesto" (Jim Goad's brash and irreverent book) are important accounts of white poverty. MacDonald never portrayed his work as "a socio-cultural study of white poverty in an Urban Center in the Northeastern United States," but a personal account of his family's experiences. "All Souls" presents a good picture of the complexities of the real world - a family that was a picture of both dysfunction and resiliency, a community "code" that served both as its' strength and its' Achilles heal, and a person who journeyed through life trying to come to terms with these issues.

Unaware of the accuracy of the "facts," the story of this family is an important addition to those who continually ignore the reality of the "white experience in America" - an experience, that for many, is not couched in race-based advantage. To dismiss an important piece of work such as this based on interpretation of facts or untold pieces of what is an enormously complex story misses the point. Mr. MacDonald, good job on starting an important discussion!

5-0 out of 5 stars Great read!
I couldn't put this book down, and I jsut finished reading it for a second time. Mike MacDonald brings the reader into his childhood and won't let him escape. His story of growing up poor in Southie, amidst the drugs and violence and busing crisis, yet still being able to call it "the best place in the world" allowed me to finish the story with a smile on my face. And I challenge the person who wrote that despite the drugs and crime, etc. that he grew up with, Mike was still able to "convince himself" that it was the best place in the world. After sitting down with him last week for an interview/conversation, I believe he would maintain his point of view; he wasn't convincing himself of anything. And that's what allowed me to stay positive through the book: yes, the MacDonalds had to deal with unfathomable pain and hardships, but Southie's tight-knit community made for a home that is hard to forget about. I also challenge the person who in his review said that MacDonald's book was an "indictment" of the gangsters in Southie and that he made "brave accusations" about them; the truth is obvious, and Whitey Bulger and his crew managed to bring unbelievable amounts of drugs and crime to Southie. Despite what the newspapers or anyone else wants to say. I now work in Southie and have seen first-hand the poverty and drugs, but it is still a great community. Mike MacDonald, in his book and in our conversations, erased stereotypes of Southie that existed in my mind and that exist across the country today. He also got through to me that writing can and will allow one's wounds to heal; he is a brave man, an excellent writer, and one of the nicest guys I've met since I began working in Southie three months ago. Y'all have to read this book if you want the truth on one of the most misunderstood neighborhoods in Boston.

5-0 out of 5 stars Everyone from Boston should read this book
Before the gentrification of Southie and Dot, these areas contained Boston's infamous white "underclass." This book is the story of a fascinating family that lived in Southie in the 70's and 80's, and witnessed and participated in some of the most important events to happen in Boston in the 20th century.

The book is really divided into two parts. The first part takes place when the author was a very young child, and is primarily about his older siblings. It is the 70's, when the bussing riots are threatening to destroy Boston and the Winter Hill gang was hanging around in a certain auto body shop. The author makes it clear that a lot of what he tells about these events is second hand, primarily from his siblings and his mother. However, since they were very active in so many events, and since this book concentrates on the whole family and not just the author, this does not detract from the veracity of the book at all. The second part takes place in the 1980's, when, in the aftermath of the Charles Stewart fiasco, the police are looking for a martyr to prove that they're not rascist. They settle on the author's younger brother.

The most fascinating thing about this book his how the author manages to chronicle how a family and a community can disintigrate while remaining as strong as ever. Not everyone in the family, or the community makes it through the book, and as Southie is quickly becoming hot real estate it is sad to think of the community that is being condo'd over.

Anyone who is interested in knowing why Boston is the way it is now should read this book. Boston is still living with the repurcussions of the period that this book covers, and this book offers a fascinating first (and sometimes second) hand account of the events that shaped our city.

5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful, Eye-Opening, and Tragically Irish
Ignore the attacks - All Souls is beautiful and timeless. It is at once a story of 20th century American turmoil and also a story with the Irish tone and Irish rhythm, calling to mind Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. But above all else it is, as described on the cover, a family story. A story written throughout a childhood, it tells the tale of a family torn violently apart by fate and circumstance, yet in some form still together, still beating and moving on with force. What many people, including some of my fellow Irish-American Boston residents, fail to grasp is that this story is not an analysis of a neighborhood; it is nothing historical but rather a vibrant story that drives straight into the core of what it means to be Irish and American simultaneously, and how the joy, loyalty, and fierce pride combine with hypocrisy and silence to produce a perplexing Irish-American identity. The story hits home for me, and it's truth is not necessarily in the trivial names of bars or individuals as some myopic readers contend. The truth comes in its message, in the power and emotion in Michael Patrick MacDonald's pride and disgust for the neighborhood that can be at the same time "the best place on earth" and a "hellhole." Do not fight the contradictions - it is contradictory and beautiful as a novel. It's American; it's Irish; it's human; and it's timeless. I urge anyone to read this phenomenal piece of work by MacDonald!

2-0 out of 5 stars 'ALL SOULS' very disappointing!
Highly anecdotal and unreferenced, the memoir: 'ALL SOULS: A Family Story from Southie' (c. 2000) by Mr. Michael Patrick MacDonald, simultaneously presented an unquestionable account of the author's tragic family life while presenting a dubious description of the neighborhood of South Boston.

Any life-long resident of South Boston who reads ALL SOULS will recognize the many errors in this memoir and the author's reliance on hyperbole for dramatic effect; such as referring to a fist fight as a 'riot' or an orderly protest as a 'mob'. The author further uses terminology not part of South Boston vocabulary, such as: Racist, Scapegoat, riots, molotov cocktails, and 'Lace Curtain Irish' (which is straight out of the book: 'Liberty's Chosen Home' p. 30 and not a Boston figure of speech).

ALL SOULS is further marred by the many suppositions, innuendos, and non-sequiturs used to describe residents and the neighborhood: such as the author's detailed descriptions of Whitey Bulger, a man the author admitted he never met; or the mentioning throughout ALL SOULS of the bar, the *Irish Rover*, which isn't even in South Boston but three miles away in Dorchester. In fact, the author seemed to have had most of his Southie experiences on the South Boston/Dorchester border, blurring those two distinct neighborhoods.

While the careful reader will not question the authenticity of the author's account of his family tragedies, some of which appear self-inflicted, the MacDonald family, as presented in ALL SOULS, had serious issues way before they moved to the Old Colony projects - therefore, 'ipse dixit', those tragedies 'happened' in South Boston, they were not 'caused' by South Boston, as implied in ALL SOULS! For the vast majority of South Boston's diverse & multi-cultural 32,000 residents, except for forced busing, Southie was a good place to grow up!

Neither autobiography nor diary, the memoir ALL SOULS is obviously valueless for serious historical research. The author mistook digressions for correlations, as Mr. Michael Patrick MacDonald presented a heart rendering account of his family's tragedies along with a dubious and mechanistic opinion of South Boston history and events. As a complement to ALL SOULS, please read: 'THAT OLD GANG OF MINE: A History of South Boston' (c. 1991) by Southie native Frank J. Loftus, which presented a less posit history of South Boston than the flawed ALL SOULS. ... Read more

by Richard Marcinko
list price: $17.00
our price: $17.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0671799258
Catlog: Book (1993-03-01)
Publisher: Audioworks
Sales Rank: 276621
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Richard Marcinko was the U.S. Navy's most unconventional warrior -- and its most deadly.A master practitioner of the "Let's Do It to Them Before They Do It to Us" school of survival, he was often as feared by his own high command as by the enemy.

This brilliant, tough-as-nails military virtuoso of violence -- ambushes, booby, traps, exotic weaponry, high altitude parachute drops, underwater infiltrations, face-to-face killing -- rose through Navy ranks to create and command one of this country's most elite and secretive counterterrorist units, SEAL TEAM SIX.

Now, in his own colorful voice, this thirty-year veteran recounts the story of the secret missions and Special Warfare madness that make up his harrowing worldwide military career.Here, too, he opens doors that have long been locked: the riveting truth about the mystery-shrouded Navy SEALS; what went onbehind the scenes during the infamous Desert One hostage rescue attempt in Iran; and the stunning inside realities of the Granada invasion. Born on Thanksgiving Day, 1940, Dick Marcinko was raised in mining towns, housing projects, blue-collar bars, and on the streets. He quit school at seventeen and enlisted in a new life of thrill-seeking.

He joined the Navy's Underwater Demolition Teams, which he calls "a masochist's dream." Then he attended over eighteen special-training schools, where he excelled in the lethal, survival and leadership skills that would gain him entrance into the upper strata of military warfare: the SEALS.

Marcinko was almost in humanly tough, and proved it on hair-raising missions across Vietnam and a war-torn world: blowing up supply junks, charging through minefields, jumping at 19,000 feet with a chute that wouldn't open, fighting hand-to-hand in a hellhole jungle, and experiencing the tragedy of watching a buddy die in his arms.He was such a threatening force on the killing fields of Vietnam that the enemy posted a reward for his death.

For the Pentagon, Marcinko organized the Navy's first counterterrorist unit, the legendary SEAL TEAM SIX.One of the most feared weapons against terrorism in the world, the Team went on classified missions from Central America to the Middle East, the North Sea, Africa and beyond. Out of this success, Marcinko was tapped to create the explosive unit know as Red Cell, a dirty-dozen team of the military's most accomplished and decorated counterterrorists.Their unbelievable job was to become terrorists themselves -- to test the defense of the Navy's most secure facilities and installations. The Navy was actually going to pay go-for-broke Marcinko to wreak havoc.The result was predictable: all hell broke loose.

In Rogue Warrior, Marcinko recounts his searing adventures in the special branches of the military reserved for a handpicked few. Here is the hard-working hero . . . the killer who saw beyond the blood to ultimate justice . . . and the decorated warrior who became such a maverick that the Navy brass wanted his head on a pole, and for a time, got it. This, and more, is Marcinko, a man made for war.

... Read more

Reviews (137)

1-0 out of 5 stars Complete Waste
I bought this trash based on favorable reviews on this site. I can't remember reading a book that was so poorly written and so totally without any literary value. In the future I will make sure that I get positive recommendations form other sites before I buy.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Iconoclast
Cross Charles Bukowski with Popeye the Sailor and you're still nowhere close to the colorful character of this brilliant scallywag. This is one of the greatest books you'll ever read. Period. It hits on so many levels - action, humor, history, drama, bitterness, and ends on a soaring, rebellious "I'll be back" survivor's note (Marcinko wrote the book from prison, more on that later). His writing style is infectious and you'll laugh at many points (how many guys signed up to do covert ops in Vietnam to get away from their wives?). You will not find tons of battle stories here because Marcinko is almost clinically careful in combat. He regards Purple Hearts as "Enemy Marksmanship Awards" and is proud to have never gotten one (how refreshing is this to read after months of John Kerry?). His philosophy of "hit the enemy where they least expect it, when they least expect it" is a SEAL maxim today. Therefore, what little combat there is in the book consists mostly of ambushes - find a Vietcong encampment whose inhabitants are out on patrol, quietly take position and wait until they return and set their guns down to relax, then unload with everything you've got and kill them as quickly as possible.You WANT to be in a squad led by a guy who disdains the obsession with martial arts and knives that was in vogue during Vietnam, preferring instead to never be caught without a gun. Marcinko is the ultimate realist.

Like Beckwith's "Delta Force," Marcinko's book mainly comes from the perspective of a commander and unit-creator, so you're in the cloakrooms of the Pentagon often. Where Marcinko's book differs markedly though is when he begins to upset his superiors and vice versa. Beckwith might grumble to himself, but Marcinko goes for the throat. His irreverence is refreshing and his disdain with the career apparatchiks wearing the uniform is in keeping with other great SpecOps bios, but nowhere is that impatience exhibited with more vengeance than here. This is a man who had zero patience for BS. It upsets him.

Favorite moments: The cobra feast, using condoms to wrap explosives in `Nam, SEALs breaking into a morgue to steal the corpse of a former teammate, the infamous black box...let me go into that one, it has relevance in this day and age of the war on terror: During our involvement in Lebanon Marcinko was tasked with finding security weaknesses at the American Embassy. He found several but one in particular bothered him most - the ease with which a truck bomb could drive right up to the front door and detonate, leveling the place. Knowing that most truck bombs come with a backup radio detonator in the event the driver got cold feet at the moment of truth, Marcinko's team made specs for a "black box" that could transmit a spectrum of radio frequencies simultaneously. Some whiz kids at the Navy built it but now Marcinko had to test it. Disguised as journalists, Marcinko and his team drove to the area in Beirut where the PLO was headquartered under the pretense of covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The area was well-known as a bomb-makers's hideout so if they were lucky they might pass one with a radio detonator; so they cruised around with the black box in the car, silently broadcasting radio signals until BOOOOMMMM!!!!!! A tremendous explosion destroyed the side of a building two blocks away. It worked. When they advised the American Ambassador to install it on the roof of the embassy, to Marcinko's incredulousness he declined, citing that if it set off a truck bomb down the street that might kill innocent Lebanese civilians. Sure enough, the embassy was leveled by a truck bomb weeks later, killing scores of Americans. A similar bombing destroyed the UN Headquarters in Baghdad after the UN predictably turned down an American security team.

Marcinko's best chapters deal with his devilishly fun creation, Red Cell, the unit tasked with doing mock kidnappings and raids of Navy bases to find their weaknesses. These takedowns are hilariously chronicled and you get the sense that he was having more fun than he had ever had. What better job for a maverick who despises opportunistic, pedantic commanders than waging mock war on them! As quickly as he ascended though he was brought down via criminal charges from the Navy. The details are sketchy, but Marcinko was apparently involved in the production of a mini-hand grenade meant to take out a single terrorist in a crowded area with minimal collateral damage. Some people made some money on the side, probably illegally, and Marcinko was brought up on charges. His take is that it was politically motivated payback for years of thumbing his nose at the system. It could be a bit of both. Either way, he went to jail, got into terrific shape (he writes he could bench press 300 lbs in jail), and wrote this terrific book to pay his legal bills, and we got "Rogue Warrior" out of the whole affair. Its sense of humor is unmatched. It is sweeping in scope: From the sands of UDT training to Cambodia, to the Middle East, to the halls of the Pentagon, to kidnapping admirals and taking down bases, to reading letters from friends in a jail cell. It's a remarkable book from a survivor's survivor and you'll re-read it again and again.

5-0 out of 5 stars Completely Radical

If there is one word to describe this book it would have
to be "WOW".This book was completely radical.Richard Marcinko
is an over the top, in your face, behind your back, snake eating, rock n roll on full auto, shoot and loot, highly skilled, professional counterterrorist expert.I wanna hang with this cat.I just don`t know if I could.
Maverick?Yes.Break rules sometimes to acheive objectives to missions?Yes Yes.Do we need more marcinkos with-
in our counterterrorism conmunity? Yes Yes Yes.Am I happy about
my tax dollars going to the Marcinkos of Our Milatary`s
counterterrorism units who protect our freedoms. That`s a big
YES and we should beputting more money and men into these
units as John Kerry had plans to do so.He knows how effective
these instruments of war are.Especially in this day and age.
I`m sure Richard Marcinko did things as a navy officer
that were disrespectful and out of bounds.However it seems his
attributes outweigh his flaws.He is definetely an example of
how to train and employ a unit of men who know how to beat our
enemy`s at there own game.The book also opened my eyes to
our wonderful navy. The pretty boy officers sitting behind desks entertaining, playing golf and schmoozing their way up the
chain of command.I know that comment doesn`t apply to all
naval officers.To the ones it does, doom on you.Good to know
my tax dollars are being well spent (Squids). Oh yeah,
Mr. Marcinko sir, I wish I could play with you.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Sure, this is an opinionated book, but a very good one. It is amazing what "really" goes on, hearing from friends, but reading the details is very informative. Some of it has to be taken with a grain of salt, but the salt is good. This is like Clancy on steroids. There are a few sections that drag, but very few. The ending is a surprise twist.

3-0 out of 5 stars Marcinko, an interesting individual...
Although I wouldn't consider this book to necessarily be a "bad read," there are a few elements of the work that begin to present themselves as overbearing/redundant, Marcinko's overwhelming ego, in particular.I understand that certainly being a SEAL and serving your country in such a capacity can be a rewarding experience, being chosen to head new programs must be an even greater reward, however to what height must you elevate yourself and your ego?After reading a countless number of these types of books, I found this to be the hardest to get through, not because I did not take an interest in what was being recounted, but the sheer fact that I could not force myself to continue to be subjected to Marcinko's arrogance.In my opinion, being an officer is being a leader of character, not arrogance and the utilization of the "f" word to get your way with everything.Marcinko's honesty/integrity also becomes questionable as fellow seal, Capt. Robert Gormly, identifies Marcinko's drafting of his own recommendation to receive the Silver Star, in his work, Combat Swimmer (which I would highly recommend).Where is the integrity, is it lost within the arrogance/ego? ... Read more

55. Worse Than He Says He Is: Or White Girls Don't Bouce : My Walk on the Wild Side With Dennis Rodman
by Anicka Rodman
list price: $18.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0787115134
Catlog: Book (1997-04-01)
Publisher: Dove Books
Sales Rank: 675372
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (4)

1-0 out of 5 stars Truly awful
Let me start by saying that I am not a Dennis Rodman fan. I can now say that I think he and the author were a perfect match. For about the first 2 chapters I felt some empathy for Ms Rodman, however, as I read further I discovered that she was an immature, self centered, physically abusive woman. She constantly trashes the other women in Dennis's life, while behaving the same way. By the end of the book I had lost all sympathy for her, and gained a true sense of pity for the child that she and Dennis have. It is a shame that trees were cut down to print this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars What people do for money, could just break my heart
America is truly the land of capitalism and opportunity.This chick has a baby by a known lunatic who abuses her, then writes a tell all story full of smut and filth, and then she has the audacity to expect us to feel sorryfor her.Sorry!!!! I had a hard time seeing her as the victim, that coveris pure filth and ought to be burned.If my mother had the audacity topose like that in a tell all smut fest like that I'd have a seriouscomplex.No wonder Dennis dies his hair and cross dresses, with hisdysfunctional upbringing and her as a wife and mother of his child I'd be awacko too!!!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars AWESOME!!!!!
this is a book that will keep you reading. I read it in a day.. and also read it again and again.. It's like a soap opera in a way, it makes you laugh, angry, sad, etc. It also makes you look at basketball (and sports in general) differently. I am a Dennis Rodman fan; but after reading this book, I'm more of a Anicka Rodman fan!!!!

2-0 out of 5 stars Degreating
I did feel for Rodman in the starting but as the book progressed it became more and more into that same old rodman who in this book still boggles the mind to think what he doe ... Read more

56. The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology [UNABRIDGED]
by Simon Winchester
list price: $34.95
our price: $23.07
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0694522716
Catlog: Book (2001-08-01)
Publisher: HarperAudio
Sales Rank: 78817
Average Customer Review: 3.58 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

From the author of the bestselling The Professor and the Madman comes the fascinating story of the father of modern geology

In 1793, William Smith, the orphan son of a village blacksmith, made a startling discovery that was to turn the science of geology on its head. While surveying the route for a canal near Bath, he noticed that the fossils found in one layer of the rocks he was excavating were very different from those found in another. And out of that realization came an epiphany: that by following these fossils one could trace layers of rocks as they dipped, rose and fell -- clear across England and clear across the world.

Obsessed with creating a map that would showcase his discovery, Smith spent the next twenty years traveling England alone, studying rock outcroppings and gathering information. In 1815 he published a hand-painted map more than eight feet tall and six feet wide. But four years later, swindled out of his profits, Smith ended up in debtors' prison. His wife went mad. He lived as a homeless man for ten long years.

Eventually a kindly aristocrat discovered him; Smith, the quiet genius and 'father of geology' was brought back to London and showered with the honors that he rightly deserved. Here now is his astounding story.

... Read more

Reviews (76)

3-0 out of 5 stars A review of the book about the map that changed the world
Simon Winchester, the author of the deservedly best-selling *The Professor and the Madman*, writes in *The Map that Changed the World* about William Smith, who was dubbed in 1831--a bit belatedly--The Father of English Geology by the then president of the Geological Society of London. Smith's great work was an enormous--some 8 x 6 feet--geological map of England, the data for which Smith had spent a considerable part of his lifetime collecting single-handedly. The map, which delineates in splendid color the various strata of rock that underlie England, was the first of its kind. Smith himself was a maverick intellect for his understanding of both the implications of the strata for the history of the Earth and the importance to the rocks' identification of the fossils that could be collected from them.

Smith also had an interesting personal history in that his great efforts for science were so unremunerative that he landed for some eleven weeks at the age of fifty in one of London's great debtors' prisons. Winchester makes much of this great irony in his book, that a monumental figure should be so ill-treated and so long unrespected during his lifetime.

For all Smith's merits as a subject, however, Winchester's narrative is a bit of a slog. His emphasis is very often on the science of geology rather than the personality of Smith. This is reasonable enough given the subject matter of the book, but I, at least, frequently found the author's discussion difficult to follow. Winchester may, as a one-time student of geology at Oxford, have had too high an opinion of his layman readers' capacities. (Or I, of course, may not have been the proper audience for the book.) For those who are not geologically inclined, there may be more discussion of strata, however, than is palatable: "Below the 300 feet of chalk, Smith declaimed before the others, were first 70 feet of sand. Then 30 feet of clay. Then 30 more feet of clay and stone. And 15 feet of clay. Then 10 feet of the first of named rocks, forest marble. And 60 feet of freestone." And so on.

Winchester's narrative does become more interesting toward the book's end, when Smith has, finally, published his map and he is imprisoned for debt--the great dramatic moment toward which the book has been leading. But Smith's stay in the King's Bench Prison is itself anticlimactic, because while Winchester alludes to its "horrors" earlier on, he finally describes debtors' prison as a sort of country club, where the indebted middle-class pass their time playing cards or bowling and drinking beer. Trying and embittering it may have been to be locked away while his possessions were riffled through and sold off, but it was evidently not horrific.

Winchester's writing is at its most charming--and he does write charmingly--in the most personal section of the book, when he tells the story of his discovery at the age of six of an ammonite fossil. He and his fellow convent boys were led by the sisters of the Blessed Order of the Visitation on a miles-long walk to the sea, an expedition they undertook once a week. Winchester's account of the boys' riotous plunge into the sea shows just how nicely he can turn a phrase:

"Up here there always seemed to be a cool onshore breeze blowing up and over the summit. It was tangy with salt and seaweed, and the way it cooled the perspiration was so blessed a feeling that we would race downhill into it with wing-wide arms, and it would muss our hair and tear at our uniform caps, and we would fly down toward the beach and to the surging Channel waves that chewed back and forth across the pebbles and the sand.

"I seem to remember that by this point in the weekly expedition the dozen or so of us--all called by numbers, since the convent's peculiar regime forbade the use of names; I was simply 46--were well beyond caring what the nuns might think: The ocean was by now far too magnetic a temptation. Once in a while we might glance back at them as they stood, black and hooded like carrion crows, fingering their rosaries and muttering prayers or imprecations--but if they disapproved of us tearing off our gray uniforms and plunging headlong into the surf, so what? This was summer, here was the sea, and we were schoolboys--a combination of forces that even these storm troopers of the Blessed Visitation could not overwhelm."

Perhaps Winchester will one day expand on this passage with further autobiographical fare.

4-0 out of 5 stars Geologist's Dream - Readers Beware
"The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology," by Simon Winchester, proved to be a bit of a disappointment. It's a wonderful book, and I'm sure for those who make their life in geology it's an excellent read, but for me it was a let down.

The problem may be that Winchester is too good a writer, or too accurate a biographer, to put down any details of which he's not 100% certain. Add to that the fact that the source materials focus on William Smith's professional work almost to the exclusion of any personal detail, and you have what should be a compelling personal journey that winds up reading more like a geology text in too many chapters.

Smith's place in history was assured by his 1815 publication of a map of England showing the geological strata and graphically demonstrating his theories that one could tell the age of the rocks from examining the fossils found within. This was radical stuff in 1815, and the work that led to this map took Smith some 30 years. Along the way he picked up a wife, who was possibly crazy, and adopted a nephew, who became his assistant, had business and financial troubles, which led to his being held in debtor's prison, and had a long running class-based feud with England's scientific establishment, which led to his works not being properly recognized for many years after their publication.

Unfortunately, only the last aspect of Smith's life is covered in any detail because that's all he wrote about in his own journal, or is covered in other source material. About the wife we're told that she was a burden to him, often sick, probably crazy, and possibly even a nymphomaniac. We're told all that, but we're never given examples, or are told how Smith felt about her. Did he love her anyway? Did they ever try to have children of their own? Did she embarrass him publicly? We don't know. About the nephew we're told that Smith took over his care when his sister and brother-in-law died, and that he became his assistant, but we're told nothing of their personal relationship. Was their's a close, familial relationship, or only one of master or mentor to apprentice? We don't know. And such is the frustration with the book (mine, at least).

What's left is endless descriptions of the various layers of the earth's crust, and how Smith could tell if an outcropping belonged to the Jurassic or Cretaceous periods.

I picked up this book because I loved Winchester's previous "The Professor and the Madman" so much. That's a book that's rich in personal detail, and is as important and fascinating in the descriptions of the lives of the subjects as it is in the descriptions of their professional works. "The Map that Changed the World" is likely stunning for students of geology, but may bore beyond belief the reader who doesn't care or know about item one of earth science.

So - In the end, I suppose a mixed review. If you get this joke (and think it's funny): "Subduction leads to orogeny" - or, if you have a bumper sticker that says "Stop Plate Tectonics" - Then this is a five star book that you will love every page of. If you don't even care to look up any of those words, then this is a three star book you should avoid. Which averages out to four stars: An occasionally fascinating and well-written book that is often dry and disappointing.

2-0 out of 5 stars Deadly dull
I'm sorry, but not even Simon Winchester's earnest enthusiasm and lyrical prose can save this tale. It's just too dull. I got through about halfway, and couldn't finish.

Winchester is a glorious writer in his twin histories of the Oxford English Dictionary. But here his subject is just too obscure and trivial, and try as he might, Winchester can't make it seem interesting.

2-0 out of 5 stars Fairly interesting story swamped by dreadful writing
It's a matter of taste, but I'm mystified by people who find Winchester's writing "charming." The author's cardinal rule seems to be: "When in doubt, slather on another thick coat of adjectives, adverbs, and clichés." This kind of prose is too politely described as turgid, florid, and repetitive.
I wouldn't normally review a book after reading 1/4 of it, but I feel about this one the way I do after watching 20 minutes of a movie, and the direction, acting, and story are already tired and weak. It's usually a waste of time to stick it out on the off chance of an improvement.
Given that, I can't comment on whether the underlying story will come close to living up to its grandiose title, but I can say that I have a hard time trusting an author on the big picture once I've seen him get the details wrong in areas that I am intimately familiar with (e.g. coal mining in this case).
As several other readers suggested, John McPhee is an incomparably better writer and researcher, on geology or any other topic he cares to tackle.

1-0 out of 5 stars pass on this title
I had many hours of flying ahead of me and this was the wrong book to have taken. The fact that it was the only book I had gave me great incentive to like it. I didn't. I left it on the plane for someone more desperate than myself. ... Read more

57. Off Camera : Private Thoughts Made Public
list price: $29.95
our price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375416404
Catlog: Book (2000-10-03)
Publisher: Random House Audio
Sales Rank: 895056
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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The title of Ted Koppel's memoir, Off Camera: Private Thoughts Made Public, promises opinions that its author wouldn't deliver on camera, where he's been the anchor of ABC's popular Nightline program since 1980. And, indeed, he's blistering at times in this book, which is essentially a daily journal from 1999. That year began between President Clinton's impeachment by the House of Representatives and his trial in the Senate. Here's Koppel delivering his prognosis of the situation: "Whichever way it goes, it will leave a nasty aftertaste. The President and First Lady will speak piously of national reconciliation, while their loyalists ram the rockets' red glare up the tailpipes of the right-wing fanatics, who have confused low morals with high crimes." Koppel's comments are not always so interesting, but he's reliably candid. He mentions that Jordan's late King Hussein "had his share of adulterous relationships," that Dan Quayle "is not stupid. He is also likable. But you would feel uncomfortable serving under him in a platoon," and that Henry Hyde once informed him privately that "he was incontinent following his prostate surgery."

There's no particular theme to the book; these pages simply collect the thoughts of an important newsman during the course of a year (whose noteworthy events included not just the Clinton trial but also NATO's war with Serbia). Sometimes they're pompous: "I'm off for a meeting with Bill Bradley. It's at his request, which is a clear signal that he's running for the presidency." Sometimes they're funny: "Let's combine all the awards ceremonies for the communications and entertainment industries and name that one event after the single piece of equipment used by all of us--the microphone. I suggest calling the occasion 'the Phonies.'" Koppel is occasionally offbeat, as when he compares George W. Bush to Vanna White, and often informative, as when he's recommending books like Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden or Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (which he once gave as a gift to Clinton). Off Camera is an eclectic package of thoughts and diversions that will by turns intrigue, frustrate, and entertain readers. --John J. Miller ... Read more

Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars Ignore the bad reviews!
Ted Koppel's Off Camera is a caring and informative view into just that, his thoughts and daily activities off camera. Mr Koppel provides us daily journal entries from the year 1999. From Monica to the strains of reporting from Kosovo. I loved reading this book.

2-0 out of 5 stars Diary copied over into book with no editing.
My first thought in his first couple entries was that he was trying a little to hard to be funny ala Dennis Miller or Jay Leno. However, then I realized that he wasn't, he was just blurting out his thoughts from each day (and almost every day).

I feel there was not much cohesion throughout the book. He spends a lot of time on the war in Kosovo, as that was a big event during that year. However, he puts in little tidbits about his growing up and his new house or something irrelevant. Even though it was meant to be his personal thoughts on various topics, I felt he should have organized the material a little bit.

On the good side, it was interesting hearing about the difficulties of being a reporter during the war, and getting some of that insider information. Similarly, it was interesting hearing his perspective from having been around for a while in the journalism business.

Overall, I made it through the whole book, but every once in a while while listening to it (Audio CD version), I would think, "Now why did he include that?" I feel this work could have been improved through some editting and some thoughtful exclusions or reorganization of the material.

1-0 out of 5 stars Is this the best you can do, Ted?
...The dust cover should be a clue that this book is trivial.Here is Koppel, wearing a leather jacket and holding a stick. If that photo interests you, you will love this book. It is filled with self-indulgent information about Koppel and his grandchildren. It would have been a better book, perhaps, had Koppel chosen to write about the leather jacket and the stick.
Readers who are able to overlook Koppel's arrogance will find little insight into international events. First, these events are quite dated.Kosovo, Monica and Viagra are not fresh, riveting subjects.Secondly, Koppel doesn't have the time to give us thoughtful insight.He appears to be jotting down a few bedtime thoughts about his day. And so often his predictions and views of current events prove wrong.
What I came away with is the realization that much of our daily news stories are fleeting, insignificant events. ...

3-0 out of 5 stars America Held Hostage: Day 254
Ted Koppel. That voice, the music, the graphics. I grew into television news with Ted-- though I called him Mr. Koppel in our private, if fictional, chats about world events. From that stage, I somehow expected a giant to emerge from the pages of "Off Camera", and that giant of a man should know all and tell all because, who could do it better? This is not that sort of book. It does not gossip; it does not lie. It is Mr. Koppel, though, and he's got a great deal to let us in on.

What works in this diarist's format is the jangling juxtapositions between waitng for the caller I.D. guy and musing over, "Oh, incidentally, Boris Yeltsin threatened NATO with nuclear war yesterday, if it doesn't stop bombing Yugoslavia. Everybody assumes he's kidding" (92). This sort of mingling of the mundane and the geopolitical reminds us that we cannot wholly escape either world-- it is as reckless to ignore the din of geopolitics as it is to ignore the phone bill. He's saying, "Hey! I, Mr. Big Shot Nightline Guy, have to deal with the daily dumb stuff. Why don't YOU try reading a newspaper?" And yes, he's a little testy on this. And no, he doesn't hold out much hope for what Americans have become. ....

"Off Camera" is the voice of Ted Koppel: wry, commanding, knowing. There are spurts of dark humor (the moments of a life stolen while exchanging 32 cent stamps), anger, wonderment, acceptance and love. It is the writing of a journalist and the musings of a man whose sorted out his own mortality. He's a Mr. Koppel who doesn't much like President Clinton either (he'd be dishonest to say otherwise and his reasoning is solid--even though I think he's wrong). In the end, it's Ted Koppel and there are lessons to be learned. Though not a great book, this is one worth owning.

4-0 out of 5 stars Ted Gets Ornery
The strangest myth of journalism is that in order to strive for objectivity, journalists purge themselves (or should purge themselves) of all opinions.Anyone whose ever read an article or seen a news broadcast knows that journalists have opinions, and they express them in all sorts of ways.The way Ted Koppel does in OFF CAMERA is not one of the more typical ways.Here he comments in a journal on the events of 1999, holding little back and stripping his opinions from some of the constraints and codes of his profession.

All that isn't striking.What is is the degree to which Koppel is cynical about almost everything.Just about anything of public importance that catches his attention enough to make it into this journal is worthy of disparagement.Take his thoughts on the Kosovo War.At first he disparages the US's motives for getting involved, while later he seems to lament the extent to which problems there came to be ignored.He concludes before thew air war was fought that the NATO could not win that way and that a ground war was inevitable, then forgets to mention that it worked.And so on.

But this is interesting.It is interesting to hear someone (Koppel's voice adds to the experience of listening to the audio book version) whose job it is to cover the news, speak with such disdain and even despair about the news.While bleak, Koppel's opinions are also interesting.He has a journalist's flair for putting a story together.I would happily read more of his commentary should he chose to write more.

OFF CAMERA is not inspirational - it isn't meant to be.But it is worth hearing (or reading). ... Read more

58. At Home in the World
by Joyce Maynard, JoyceMaynard
list price: $17.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1559352892
Catlog: Book (1998-08-01)
Publisher: Soundelux Audio Pub
Sales Rank: 333431
Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In the spring of 1972, Joyce Maynard, a freshman at Yale, published a cover story in The New York Times Magazine about life in the sixties.Among the many letters of praise, offers for writing assignments, and request for interviews was a one-page letter from the famously reclusive author, J.D. Salinger.

Don't Go Away Sad is the story of a girl who loved and lived with J.D. Salinger, and the woman she became.A crucial turning point in Joyce Maynard's life occurred when her own daughter turned eighteen--the age Maynard was when Salinger first approached her.Breaking a twenty-five year silence, Joyce Maynard addresses her relationship with Salinger for the first time, as well as the complicated , troubled and yet creative nature of her youth and family.She vividly describes the details of the times and her life with the finesse of a natural storyteller.

Courageously written by a women determined to allow her life to unfold with authenticity, Don't Go Away Sad is a testament to the resiliency of the spirit and the honesty of an unwavering eye.
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Reviews (130)

5-0 out of 5 stars A book that deserves respect--as does its author
I first read this book several months ago, but feel compelled to comment now because so many members of the press have treated Joyce Maynard as though she had peed on the American flag. What she has done is to write a painfully honest story of a family journey that includes one major, attention-getting stop: her sad, brief, and ultimately devastating relationship with an American icon. When J.D. Salinger realized that the painfully young, painfully thin, unworldly girl he had invited into his New Hampshire aerie was only human, and not able to follow his abstemious, judgmental way of life no matter how hard she tried, he kicked her out. Joyce Maynard, who'd given up a scholarship to Yale at Salinger's bidding, initially may have reminded him of the perfect, pure little-girl characters he created, and that so many American readers love (such as Phoebe from "Catcher in the Rye," or Esme from "For Esme--With Love and Squalor"). But this powerful, famous man became, as Joyce Maynard writes, "the closest thing I ever had to a religion." Once this "religion" was snatched away from her, she labored to put together a life for herself. How Joyce stumbled and fell, how she picked herself up, makes fascinating reading. "At Home in the World" also speaks volumes about what is expected from women (and what women expect from themselves) as lovers, wives, mothers, and wage-earners. Perhaps Joyce Maynard's detractors see her work as a mirror that reminds them, all too uncomfortably, of themselves. Give this book a chance.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not bad, considering...
I heard about this book several years ago, and
did not expect to find myself reading it. I knew
of Joyce Maynard from her columns in "Parents",
which I found uninspiring and often gratuitously
patronizing. Eventually I took this book out from
the public library when I was in the mood for some
light reading, and was pleasantly suprised. The main
strenght of the book IMO is it's lyrical narrative.
The quality of the writing for the most transcends
what I consider to be Joyce's uninspiring
life story, and that includes the Big Love Affair With
Salinger. For someone as intelligent and capable as she
clearly was, Joyce's adult life reads like alot of
poorly-thought-out decisions and missed opportunities,
which she makes the best of. But for his fame and
idiosyncratic ways, the affair with Salinger does
not by my lights make Joyce unique among any other
young women of her generation that had father fixations.
The real heroine of the
story IMO is her mother, who taught Joyce discipline
and the art of writing, while reclaiming her own life.

5-0 out of 5 stars Why not tell?
Does a person have a right to her own life story? Guess not. Strange as it must have seemed to the apparently unquenchable ego of the unsavory hermit who preyed on Joyce Maynard, he wasn't the only person in the story. It happened to her, too, and it's her story as much as his. Maybe more so, because it only happened to her the one time, whereas he apparently repeated the May/December affair ad nauseum. Just because he wrote well and crafted a bizarre mystique of impenetrable solitude about himself doesn't mean it needs to be honored at all costs. I enjoyed this book, as Ms. Maynard's prose rings true throughout, especially whe she writes about her relationships with her parents. You go, girl! Keep writing the truth, even though it be about false or fallen idols.

1-0 out of 5 stars Don't tell anybody the secrets
As a fellow boomer, I enjoyed and related to Ms Maynard's early 70s memoir, "Looking Back." We now learn that what she wrote on those pages was, while perhaps accurate, not exactly truthful. In "At Home in the World" she seemed determined to tell the truth. The lesson we learn is that truth has a steep price. It is particularly expensive for Mr. Salinger, who appears to have had the misfortune to have been, although seriously eccentric, mostly human. His biggest mistake was that of bad judgment. He trusted Ms Maynard.

This is not to say that Ms Maynard's decision to write about her relationship with him, and the resulting consequences, was wrong. At the time of their relationship she was a journalist of sorts, so Mr. Salinger's decision to place trust in an eighteen-year-old budding writer/journalist, seems today to be foolish.

Reading "At Home in the World" is a lot like passing a horrible traffic accident on the road. You know you shouldn't look, but you do. You know it's a huge invasion of the victims' privacy, but you do it anyway.

This book is a story of coming to terms with our middle age lives. It is a book about what made us what we are . It is a book about choices, good and bad. Where we were once filled with promise, we now must come to terms with the lives we have led. Ms Maynard does this beautifully. Her book makes you think, makes you reflect. Often it is disturbing. It is a compelling story of her search to make sense out of the complicated and twisted road we call life.

I am sure that Ms Maynard's intention in disclosing extremely intimate details of her relationship with her former lover was honest. I am sure it was therapeutic for Ms Maynard to write this updated memoir. I am equally sure it will help a lot of people. She is a wonderful writer. I am sure the result will be beneficial to many struggling to make sense out of their lives.

The truth is, and this is what makes life difficult and complicated, that all these good intentions do not make what she did right. The problem is that in the process of purging her own demons, she felt it necessary to violate the sanctity of her former lover's most sacred right, the right to be secure in the secrets he unveiled to her.

In "Metal Firecracker", Lucinda Williams, in a song about a broken intimate relationship, pleads: "All I ask, don't tell anybody the secrets, don't tell anybody the secrets, I told you."

Anyone who reads "At Home in the World" will know that it is not a book about Jerry Salinger. It is not, in a strict sense, a kiss and tell book. It is however-- a shame. A shame on Ms Maynard for telling his secrets. And shame on us for wanting to know.

3-0 out of 5 stars Honest, but Ultimately Sad
During her freshman year at Yale in 1972, Joyce Maynard published a story in the Sunday New York Times Magazine called ``An Eighteen-Year-Old Looks Back on Life''. Her picture appeared on the magazine's cover. Among the hundreds of responses she received to that story was a letter that changed her life. It was from the well-known author and recluse J. D. Salinger, a man thirty-five years her senior. Maynard and Salinger soon began a daily correspondence that consumed them both. Eventually, Maynard drove to Salinger's home in New Hampshire to meet him. At the start of her sophomore year, she dropped out of college to move in with him.

The book covers much more than the relationship with Salinger, although it is centered around her time with him. Even allowing for the fact that we hear only one side of that story, the portrait of Salinger that emerges is one of a manipulative and bitter man.

It might be said that Maynard, in the writing of this book, has exploited her relationship with Salinger and betrayed his intense desire for privacy. In anticipation of those criticisms, she writes in her preface, ``While I have no doubt that some will view my choice to tell this story honestly as an invasion of others' privacy, I have tried hard to describe only those events and experiences that had a direct effect on the one story I believe I have a right to tell completely: my own.'' She goes on to recount her life and to describe the people in it with startling honesty, including none-too-flattering portraits of herself and her family. Her forthrightness builds trust, and ultimately, makes us care about Joyce and her story.

Still, despite the panoply of friends she trots out at the end of the book, I couldn't help but wonder about the title Maynard chose for her memoir --- she still strikes me as being rather uncomfortable in this world, and haunted by her past. Mostly, this book made me sad --- sad that so many people with so much intellect and talent could act so foolishly for so long. It's not a pretty picture of the human condition! ... Read more

59. Naked
list price: $17.00
our price: $11.56
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1570424810
Catlog: Book (1997-04-01)
Publisher: Time Warner Audiobooks
Sales Rank: 40542
Average Customer Review: 4.23 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan Reviews

Hip radio comedy fans and theater folks who belong to the cult of Obie-winning playwright/performer David Sedaris must kill to get this book. These would be fans of the scaldingly snide Sedaris's hilariously described personal misadventures like The Santaland Diaries (a monologue about his work as an elf to a department store Santa) seen off-Broadway in 1997. In a series of similarly textured essays, Sedaris takes us along on his catastrophic detours through a nudist colony, a fruit-packing plant, his own childhood, and a dozen more of the world's little purgatories. ... Read more

Reviews (307)

5-0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, Absolutely Worth Your Money!
Well, first, I resent this being classified as fiction when it's a memoir.

That aside, Naked contains some of the most brilliant modern autobiographical writing that I have had the fortune of reading.
Any two-bit writing course will teach you that you should write what you know. But few can blend insightful self-analyzation, wit, and social commentary like David Sedaris.

Through his eyes, as a child, an adolescent, young adult, and finally as a thirty-something, Sedaris introduces us to his large and bizarre family, various quirky characters in his life, and to himself, by far the most intriguing subject of them all.

I had a hard time saying goodbye to him when the book was over. I had the overwhelming desire to fly to NYC, make friends with him, and spend the rest of my days meeting him for coffee and saying, "Tell me something that happened when you were an apple-picker."

Buy this buy this buy this. Absolutely the funniest book I read since by Tom Grimes, and I thought they didn't come any funnier!

4-0 out of 5 stars One Big Laugh Out Loud!
I would love to give this books five stars but I can't. There were three stories ("Chipped Beef," "Dinah, the Christmas Whore," and "The Drama Bug") that just didn't grab me, so I can't in good conscience give "Naked" a perfect rating. But it's a very strong a 4.7.

David Sedaris is one of the funniest authors I've ever read. His storytelling is superb and absolutely hilarious! This is a must-read for anyone out there who wants to temporarily escape their own dull lives and live vicariously through someone else. Underneath Sedaris's humorous adventures lies a sadness and fear, but that's what makes the stories so beautiful and genuine. Living with OCD, his mother's death, and realizing and accepting his homosexuality are amongst life's trying situations, to say the least. But Sedaris recounts those experiences with tenderness and dignity. I dreaded getting to the last page, and when I closed the book and put it back on the shelf it felt like I was losing a new friend. So...the solution to that was simple....I just pre-ordered his next book.

NOTE: If you loved "Naked" you'll love "Barrell Fever."

5-0 out of 5 stars Addictive.
David Sedaris takes you on a journey through part of his life in a series of autobiographical essays - each one better than the last. If you're in the mood for a comical autobiography then this is for you!

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the Funniest Misadventures EVER
I loved David Sedaris' "NAKED." Bred of the same ilk as Augusten Burroughs' "RUNNING WITH SCISSORS" and Rikki Lee Travolta's "MY FRACTURED LIFE", the story is a collection of true misadventures told with scathingly fierce wit and dark humor. One of the funniest of its kind.

5-0 out of 5 stars Let's Get NAKED!
This collection of autobiographical essays ranges the gamut of diverse topics from a nudist colony (the essay which gives the collection its title) to a chain-smoking mother dying of cancer, to the prostitute who David's sister rescues one Christmas Eve. ('I felt superior to all the other families on the block, because suddenly the phrase 'Ho, ho, ho!' had an entirely new meaning to me.')

Sedaris, one of a select few openly homosexual authors to reach out to a broader audience, makes his prose sparkle with wit and cynicism. In the stories of his semi-dysfunctional family life, you will catch elements of your own (probably tame and normal) life. While being darkly funny and cynical, Sedaris balances humor with a touching tenderness about his mother's fatal bout with cancer. But lest he become too much of a softie, such zany essays such as 'A Plague of Tics,' about his collection of nervous habits growing up. ('Don't you lick that light switch one more time, young man!')

Sedaris's unique blend of dark humor, cynicism and wonderful tenderness and reflection are reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut. Sedaris bares his soul for the world to see Naked, showing us the contradiction of humanity. He is a satirist with a heart, a chain-smoking, zany, wonderful author who will leave you at the end of an essay in tears of laughter, choked up on a wonderful, sadly funny concept. (...) ... Read more

60. JFK: The Kennedy Tapes : Original Speeches of the Presidential Years : 1960-1963
list price: $15.95
our price: $13.56
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1885959028
Catlog: Book (1994-06-01)
Publisher: Speechworks
Sales Rank: 368977
Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Highlights of 16 of John F. Kennedy's best known speeches, chronicling his Presidential years, 1960 through 1963. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

2-0 out of 5 stars Sound bites and highlights, but not much depth.
For somebody who was not alive in JFK's time, this seemed like a great way to get a feel for the politics and history of the 1960s. This approach, though, gives only a few minutes, five at most, of each speech and so the listener gets a famous highlight, but no depth of experience. I am excited about the primary exposure, but much more content and length is necessary for this to be of much use to a serious fan of history or politics.

3-0 out of 5 stars Great promise but fails to deliver what the buyer expects
This volume was a disappointment because only portions of the various speeches are used. One would expect the complete speech including the classics (American University, Inaugural etc.) Still it is fascinating to hear one of the great modern orators making his case both domestically and internationally. ... Read more

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