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41. An Hour Before Daylight : Memoirs
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42. Voice of an Angel : My Life (So
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43. Packinghouse Daughter: A Memoir
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44. The Twelve Little Cakes
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45. The Growing Seasons: An American
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46. Because of Romek: A Holocaust
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47. Colors of the Mountain
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48. The Territory of Men: A Memoir
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49. City of One: A Memoir
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50. Facing The Lion: Memoirs of a
51. The Little Monster: Growing Up
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52. There's a Boy in Here
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53. Lenten Lands: My Childhood with
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54. An Open Book: Coming of Age in
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55. German Boy: A Child in War
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56. Still Alive : A Holocaust Girlhood
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57. Counting My Chickens . . .: And
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58. Growing Up Brady : I Was a Teenage
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59. Bad Blood: A Memoir
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60. Josephine : A Life of the Empress

41. An Hour Before Daylight : Memoirs of a Rural Boyhood
by Jimmy Carter
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743211995
Catlog: Book (2001-10-16)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 2968
Average Customer Review: 4.54 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In An Hour Before Daylight, Jimmy Carter, bestselling author of Living Faith and Sources of Strength, re-creates his Depression-era boyhood on a Georgia farm before the civil rights movement forever changed it and the country. Carter writes about the powerful rhythms of countryside and community in a sharecropping economy, offering an unforgettable portrait of his father, a brilliant farmer and a strict segregationist who treated black workers with respect and fairness; his strong-willed and well-read mother; and the five other people who shaped his early life, three of whom were black.

Carter's clean and eloquent prose evokes a time when the cycles of life were predictable and simple and the rules were heartbreaking and complex. In his singular voice and with a novelist's gift for detail, Jimmy Carter creates a sensitive portrait of an era that shaped the nation and recounts a classic, American story of enduring importance. ... Read more

Reviews (56)

5-0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading
I was 5 years old when Jimmy Carter left office. As a child I remember hearing that he was just a peanut farmer. I didn't realize until later that going from peanut farmer to president was part of the American Dream. As an adult I have come to appreciate and admire Jimmy Carter for his character, I wanted to know more about his life, and was anxious to read An Hour Before Daylight.

An Hour Before Daylight is a charming book. What struck me most was the humility with which the autobiography was written. At times it seems the book is more about Jimmy Carters childhood friends and his family, than himself. Most of the direct references to his behavior are times he had to be punished or when he made mistakes. Really it is not a book about one man, but about a farm, its owners and workers, in the segregated South.

Aside from being about a past US president, this book provides an intimate window into life in the South. It will be warm and typical to those raised in the South. To me, being raised and schooled in the Midwest, it was a peak at a culture I never totally understood. The book is written with unusual frankness, and provides details, which others certainly would have left out, rather than embarrasses themselves or their families.

Defiantly a worthwhile read.

5-0 out of 5 stars A President Comes of Age.
Using a journalist's eye, and introspect's heart, Jimmy Carter tells a warm and compelling tale of the times, places and people who shaped his life.

Humbly examining the elements of his youth, Jimmy Carter recounts his earliest impressions of segregation, politics, and life and death.

Jimmy Carters style is natural and compelling, and his honest appraisal of his families past is both frank and welcoming.

Clearly a man of great humilty, Jimmy Carter appraises his actions in the face of racism, expressing both pride and regret, he never blames his failings on anyone, or anything, but his own lack of understanding.

In the latter chapters of this book, Jimmy Carter closes in on his incompleted relationship with his stern but loyal father - a relationship that both shaped and confounded him.

This book is a wonderfully paced read, with the selfeffacing warmth of a Jean Shepherd tale wrapped around the sepia toned history of one of America's greatest living leaders. This is a great read.

3-0 out of 5 stars My grandma loved this book
My grandma sure seemed to like this book a hell of alot. She mentions it everytime we see her. I figres it must be worth 3 stars at least.

4-0 out of 5 stars The sepia toned boyhood of Jimmy Carter
Reading this book, it's easy to understand why the ex-president insisted, "It's Jimmy. Just call me Jimmy." I wasn't much of a Carter fan during the man's presidency but have since come to appreciate him greatly, mostly for his honesty, sincerity, and humanity. An Hour Before Daylight makes it easy to understand how he became the person he still in.
Born on a Georgia farm during the Depression, Carter grew up in the days of rigid segregation, but at the same time all his friends were black children. He writes lucidly, sometimes lyrically and with strong nostalgia for an era of American history long past.
It's definitely worth a read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Needs a colorful cover
My mother gave me a copy for Christmas. We live just a stone's throw from Plains and she grew up very similarly. This reminds me of John Boy musing on the Walton's TV show or Mark Twain's colorful characters. Carter is a master farmer and gives a wealth of agriculture and outdoor information. As a librarian I put a copy in our library and think it belongs in every library! This is one of the best rural Depression era Americana. The cover is much too drab for the colorful characters inside. ... Read more

42. Voice of an Angel : My Life (So Far)
by Charlotte Church
list price: $22.95
our price: $22.95
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Asin: 0446527106
Catlog: Book (2001-04)
Publisher: Warner Books
Sales Rank: 434353
Average Customer Review: 3.24 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The true story of Charlotte Church, the Welsh 15-year-old with the voice of an angel, whose extraordinary talent has made her an international star with millions of fans worldwide.

How did a schoolgirl from Wales become an international sensation? And how can she possibly cope with staggering, worldwide fame? In this fascinating account, the young singer shares her amazing true story. From humble beginnings in Wales singing on local radio to singing for Prince Charles, President Clinton, and the Pope, to her quick rise to the top of the music charts, Charlotte Church's unique story is an inspiring tale of a phenomenal young talent and will touch the hearts of millions of music lovers worldwide. ... Read more

Reviews (25)

4-0 out of 5 stars Charming book
Just as most American kids have to write their "life so far" in junior high school, Charlotte Church writes about her own life, emphasing her family and friends rather than her self. With her soft Welsh accent, she reads her book self-effacingly, and we also learn how to pronounce many of those interminable Welsh words. She describes her success as happenstance and hard work of her family rather than self-made. She thanks all sorts of people for helping her career and for their kindness, and never once demeans anyone in her life.

5-0 out of 5 stars Charlotte's First literary Attempt
I read this book from cover to cover and loved every word and
paragraph. Some people don't like this book because of the style
she wrote it in [like a diary] but I say give the girl a break
she's only 16. I thought this book was very imformative.So I
strongly recommend this book to any charlotte church fan who
wants to some back round info on this gifted child.

4-0 out of 5 stars Music does flow in her blood
After reading this book, you'll know what music is to Charlotte; it's in her. I thought the book was well written. I don't know why some people seem to be passionately against her. One reviewer says Charlotte doesn't write about her music, but that's not true. Most of this book IS about her music! As a matter of fact, I bought "Voice of an Angel" after reading this book. I only wish she showed her Welshness more in the book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Well Written And Enjoyable To Read
I too am a classical singer, and I must admit that Church might not be as wonderful as the World has made her to be. I do also have to say that I very much enjoy listening to her music and I think she has a lot of potential. Those who give her such low reviews, in my opinion, are jealous and unfair to Church.

As for the book? I thought it was very well written and I thoroughly enjoyed every chapter! I'm 15 and it kept my attention through the whole book. I found her life to be not that of a rich and famous singer/star, but that of a regular teenage girl. Sure, she's got about a million times more than most regular people will ever have, but she lives in a semi-regual way compared to other stars. It tells a lot of interesting facts about how she got started, her family, her home and travels.

In all, I have to say that this was very entertaining. I would recomend this book to those of you who are not jealous of this teenage star and for those of you who like to read about famous people.

1-0 out of 5 stars Wow, no talent and no brains either!
I'm sorry, but this is ridiculous. Can someone please tell me why so much hype concenring this "child prodigy"? Yes, at 12 years old she was good, however not as amazing as America percieved her to be. Now, years later she's gotten worse, and still everyone fusses about her! and now the next thing i see, we have to read about her life so far? please! she seems very shallow according to this book, to tell you the truth, she doesn't seem interesting enough or have enough depth to her to write a book. she just seems like a one-dimensional money-making machine that once showed potential and now is just something to make money off of. I'm sorry if this is cruel, but that's the price publishers risk when releasing nonsense like this. ... Read more

43. Packinghouse Daughter: A Memoir
by Cheri Register
list price: $24.95
our price: $24.95
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Asin: 0873513916
Catlog: Book (2000-09-01)
Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press
Sales Rank: 587698
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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In 1959, meatpackers in the little Minnesota town of Albert Lea went on strike to demand better working conditions and higher rates of pay. The plant's owners brought in strikebreakers from nearby towns, violence ensued, the governor of Minnesota called in the National Guard, and for a few days news from Albert Lea filled papers around the United States.

The incident has long been forgotten, even by many local residents. Cheri Register, who was 14 years old at the time, is one who remembers it well. In this affecting memoir of working-class life, she pays homage to her father, who worked in the plant for 31 numbing years, earning 70 cents an hour when he started, a bit more than five dollars an hour when he retired. The work was dangerous and unpleasant, but still an improvement over the alternatives, for, as she writes, "My entire family failed at farming in one of the richest stretches of the corn belt, where water was so plentiful it had to be drained away and the soil so thick that geologists could find no exposed rock."

As she recounts the strike and her father's life, Register describes how the subsequent generational conflicts of the 1960s and her own aspirations divided her family. "To be successful," she writes, "which means free from grueling labor, the children of blue-collar families must be driven from home, away from the familiar and secure." Her book is both a homecoming and a welcome contribution to labor history. --Gregory McNamee ... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Tribute to the Greatest Generation's working-class
I don't much like memoirs. But Packinghouse Daughter, by Cheri Register, is not a typical memoir. It is enchanting, disturbing, and provocative. It should be read by a wide range of readers, including academics and other middle-class professionals who pride themselves on "siding with the working class." It shatters some of our illusions and our tendency to romanticize our identification with working-class people even as it encourages us to hold fast to our principles. The book should also be read by the countless working-class parents who worked hard to give their children the life they knew they could never have. Speaking for those children, this book says eloquently: we honor you, our parents, for your commitments and principles and will try to carry those into our very different worlds. As a bonus, the book's author tells her story so well, with a disarming openness about her conflicted emotions and with such humor and earthy but deep insight, that it will be accessible even to those who don't read much.

Register tells a story of growing up in the 1950s as the daughter of a longtime employee of the Wilson meatpacking plant in Albert Lea, Minnesota, not far from the more famous (and, in her account, more favored) Hormel plant in Austin. Coming-of-age memoirs now flood the market with stories that cater to our need for a revised Horatio Alger myth. In countless stories--many of them moving, important stories for our time--children grow up suffering from unspeakable poverty, abusive or otherwise dysfunctional families, or racism, but somehow survive and overcome those conditions to become not wealthy business moguls but their equivalent in our politically correct age: writers or academics who speak out against poverty, violence, and racism. Despite some similarities, this memoir is different. Register acknowledges gratefully that her parents provided an emotionally and economically secure environment for her, while educating her about her place in a world with more complicated class divisions than we see in most popular memoirs. It is, in part, her more subtle account of those divisions that makes her story so compelling.

Make no mistake about it: this is a one-sided story. Register's father is a loyal union man, and she is loyal to the union line, too, especially in telling the story of a particularly divisive labor dispute in 1959. But even when she makes it clear where she believes justice and unfairness lie, she complicates the story in ways that enrich our understanding rather than feed our prejudices.

I grew up in rural Ohio only slightly later than Register, the son of a small-town midwestern merchant in a solidly middle-class family with undoubtedly less disposable income than Register's. My father, like many of Albert Lea's merchants, resented the unions that secured better wages for the workers in the nearby General Motors plant than he thought he could afford to pay his loyal, hard-working employees--some of whom earned more than he did. That experience has always made me suspicious of class-based analyses of rural and small-town life. But Register's subtle class analysis of life in mid-century Albert Lea rings true even to my suspicious ears.

It also rings true because Register does not rely on memory alone. She consulted contemporary sources and interviewed a wide range of informants-balancing her interview with the union president by her interview and sympathetic portrayal of the plant manager, for example. Register knows what memories--hers and her informants--are good for. They convey the sentiment of the times. In that sense her account is sentimental in the best sense of that word. Her language is so vivid and her memories so fine-tuned that we feel we are walking the streets of Albert Lea with her, encountering mid-century sights and sounds that conjure up our own memories. But she knows enough not to trust memories when they become nostalgic, and she walks that fine line with a fine sense of balance.

Register also manages to succeed where many memoirists try but fail: though cast as a memoir, this book feels like it is more about the times than it is about her. Packinghouse Daughter is an eloquent and fitting tribute to the working-class lives of The Greatest Generation.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Memoir
I first found out about this book in an article in the Rochester newspaper about the Minnesota Historical Society Press. Since then, I have purchased several of their books. *Packinghouse Daughter* won the American Book Award and the Minnesota Book Award for autobiography, and it deserved both prizes heartily! This book is full of interesting people, class struggle, a young woman coming of age, and old-fashioned Midwestern life. If you hate those whiney memoirs about bad childhoods then this is the perfect antidote.

I would also recommend Steven R. Hoffbeck's *The Haymakers,* which won the Minnesota Book Award for history, and Peter Razor's *While the Locust Slept,* which deserves to win every award out there--both from the Historical Society. These books, like Register's, are good stories concerned with how ordinary people get by and sometimes make an important impact on our culture. These heartfelt books should be read by Americans everywhere and should be the standard for all publishers to meet.

5-0 out of 5 stars recommended reading
Even if you are not from the midwestor know nothing about the meat packing business this book will give you much to think about. Cheri has a way of bringing you into her experiences.

5-0 out of 5 stars A gift to working-class families
This book -- personal and warm -- is an extraordinary gift to kids of working-class parents. Cheri Register says things that I felt about my own dad and about my own home town, but that I was never able to say to him. She shows how what we do for a "living" is really central to shaping who we are in the bigger world. Thank you for this book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Packs a punch
This book does all the things so many memoirs fail to do. The author attempts to understand her parents, especially her father, rather than condemn them. She is critical of herself as often as anyone else. And, as Carol Bly points out in her blurb, she presents both a "public and personal memoir." Thus, the story of the 1959 meatpackers strike in Albert Lea, Minnesota, takes center stage. It becomes the flashpoint for future examination of class, gender, and the divide between union and management. By using this event as the book's anchor, Register reveals as much about the life of this small town as she does about herself. The point, it seems, is that her home town could as easily be our home town. We know these people. They happen to be packinghouse workers, but they could be Maine lobstermen fighting for fishing rights or small-plot farmer in the Southwest struggling for water rights. Best of all, Register makes you understand the human concerns of people on both sides. Where so many books would have chosen to demonize the plant managers, Register makes you see their point of view. By eschewing political agenda and dismissing easy propaganda, *Packinghouse Daughter* goes straight to the heart of the most basic American struggle. ... Read more

44. The Twelve Little Cakes
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1573222836
Catlog: Book (2004-09-23)
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Sales Rank: 17669
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Book Description

Long before she was born, Dominika first appeared to her mother in a dream, so when she came to be, she was welcomed with eager expectation and much love. Though her arrival was auspicious, as the child of recognized dissidents associated with the failed Prague Spring uprising, Dominika's life would be far from charmed.Her mother was disowned by her parents, who were members of the Party elite. Her father was an inventor whose politics resulted in his working as a taxi driver, but who nevertheless remained an unrepentant optimist. Rounding out the family-colorful, even by local standards-were a beautiful, voluptuous teenage sister with many male admirers and an enormous St. Bernard who was a famous Czech TV star.

In a village on the outskirts of Prague, full of gossipy neighbors, state informants, friendly old "grandmothers," and small-town prejudices, Dominika grows up a self-possessed child, whose openness and curiosity often lead her, and her family, into trouble. Yet the love, pride, and quirky ingenuity that bind them together will guarantee their survival-and ultimately their happiness-through the best and worst of times. The Twelve Little Cakes is equal parts testimony to the struggles of a bygone era and a love letter to a joy-filled childhood that no external forces could dim.
... Read more

45. The Growing Seasons: An American Boyhood Before the War
by Samuel Lynn Hynes, Samuel Hynes
list price: $24.95
our price: $5.99
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Asin: B0002Y0RPC
Catlog: Book (2003-03-01)
Sales Rank: 145828
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

For Americans who grew up in the 1930s, the phrase "before the war" calls up a distant time as remote from the way we live now as some foreign country. Those years of the Great Depression were lean ones for most Americans; jobs were scarce and nobody had any money. But all was not struggle and hardship; it was also a time of innocence, kindness, and generosity. It is this special time that Samuel Hynes, a distinguished scholar and wartime marine pilot, captures in this lyrical memoir of his midwestern boyhood.

Born in 1924, Sam Hynes grew up in cities and towns and on farms around the country, following his father to wherever there was work, and eventually to Minneapolis. Though Hynes's family lived through hard times, he remembers his early years not as a time of pinched deprivation but as a golden stretch of opportunities and discoveries. Looking back with a clear-eyed, unsentimental gaze, Hynes describes the rough-and-tumble games in back alleys and a long hot summer on a farm, the temptations of sex, stealing, and drinking, and the wonder of falling in love for the first time. Here, too, are deeply etched portraits of Hynes's widowed father and of the feisty widow he brought home to be stepmother to his sons. Hynes's new memoir recaptures what came before the war he fought in: his dreams, his adventures, his sins and triumphs. Moving, written with great clarity and humor, The Growing Seasons is the story of a truly American boyhood.
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Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars understated, detailed, reflective memoir on midwest youth
The now storied "Greatest Generation" did not come full-blown into glory.It evolved from childhood, and Samuel Hynes' gentle, understated and illuminating memoir, "The Growing Seasons," assists in our understanding of how the generation that fought and won World War II came to be.Fiercely independent, perpetually inquisitive and unabashedly self-conscious, Samuel Hynes comes of age in America's heartland during the Great Depression.His story, crafted with gentle humor and exquisite detail, gains transcendence and slowly emerges as a representation of millions of youngsters grappling with the age-old obligation of developing an identity, but doing so in an era of frayed innocence and material dispossession.

Loss and impermanence permeate Hynes' childhood.His father stoically accepts the death of his wife, unemployment as a result of a contracting economy and his own inability to serve the nation he so deeply loves.This unspoken patriotism and sense of place nurture the young Hynes, who never overcomes the gaping wound of losing his mother to a premature death.Motherloss uproots the Hynes' family; the father swallows prejudice and remarries a Catholic and Samuel begins the process of healing and carrying on with life.

While his father settles into his second family, Hynes spends a summer on a farm.The city boy discovers new cadences to life, a different pattern to work.Most importantly, Samuel gains a sense of his own past."For one season I had been one, like my father...and all those other country people in our family."With solemn pride, Hynes announces, "I had been my ancestors."With this knowledge of self, Hynes is better able to comprehend the modernizing influences besetting his altered family in Minneapolis during the 1930s.

There, he observes his father's deep ambivalence over labor violence.A Shell oil salesman, the father is a rock-ribbed Republican who extols the virtue of independence and responsibility.Yet, the father "despised the upper-class ways" of the elite.Samuel watches his father's despair increase."Whoever won this war, something he believed in would lose.It was sad, losing like that, and I felt his sadness."

Tempering Samuel's growing awareness of the world is his evolving relationship with his step-mother.Hynes respects, admires and even likes her--her purposeful energy, her zeal for order, her enthusiasm for life and work --but never loves her.Even his thirteen-year-old autobiography excludes mention of her, and when his father coerces Samuel to include her, Samuel does so with a "chilled heart."Frugal and despeate to keep her family afloat, his step-mother sells a forgotten but cherished model train set.Awash in the economic misery of the Great Depression, where even wanting something unneeded is considered unworthy, the sale reminds the still-growing Samuel of the transitory nature of life, that "anything could be taken."

Yet, "The Growing Seasons" is far from grim.Warmth abounds in the memoir, ranging from an excused absence from school due to a housekeeper's inability to close her mouth to the supreme satisfaction to Hynes' deep satisfaction at being able to finally don long pants to school instead of the dreaded knickers.The evolution to adulthood, the absoption of what it means to be a man, the quiet knowledge of the necessity of standing alone--these benchmarks of maturation--bespeak a person truly in touch with his own personality and his own potential.

As Hynes becomes a man, with his attendant alienation from public school and his fascination with sex, he carries with him the formative experiences of childhood.Chafing at his relative youth, longing to experience the formative fires of war, Hynes' restlessness symbolizes an American energy, a robust transformative power that rings true in this instructive and engaging memoir.

5-0 out of 5 stars How did such a hell-raiser get to be a Princeton professor?
One of the keys to this charming book is how many BAD things Sam and his friends do, that prove to be so interesting to read about!His style is understated, self-effacing.Flat, almost, but in a good way, all the cards on the table.I spent four years in Iowa and at the time someone told me that the adjective for Midwesterners wasn't "innocent" or anything like that, but "uncomplicated."You're used to seeing everything around you, all the way to the horizon.So maybe you lack a layer of artifice.

I'll illustrate.His mother dies when Sam is a young boy, and his father (a stern but wonderfully forgiving fellow) remarries.Sam never figures out what to call his stepmother, so he avoids the issue completely.Permanently!This is remarkable.My wife had the same problem vis-à-vis my parents.It was kind of comical and kind of embarrassing on all fronts, but she figured it out a few days into our first extended visit with them.Sam never manages, yet seems to think nothing of it.Apart from remarking on the fact, he just goes on with things.Some readers may find this lack of navel-gazing a flaw, but I kind of liked it.It's more neutral, one might say scientific, and draws you in to the story.You can interpret things for yourself.He may answer that question of mine in his other books, or he may not, but with his winning style I know it will be fine reading right through it and around it.

Another example comes near the end, pages 241-242, springtime of Sam's senior year in high school, World War Two looming, when he ponders the nature of women, and convertible automobiles, and describes how a guy a year or two older reveals to him and his friends an important secret about women, and sex.I read this long passage to my wife, and Hynes's wonderful deadpan style had us convulsing in laughter.

Hynes is my parents' generation (and J.D. Salinger's), so I read it through that prism.My father and I grew up in suburban New York, my mother in El Paso (but I think maybe this is a guys' book), whereas Hynes is from Minneapolis (with a memorable summer on a farm).But it all connects.The eternal summertime of youth.

5-0 out of 5 stars Poignant if a bit acidic
This is a prequel to the author's great war memoir, Flights of Passage, which I read with much appreciation 23 May 2001.If you have not read that book, by all means read this one first, then read it.This book is an account of a not extraordinary boyhood, but it is told in a poignant, if a bit mocking, way.When I finished it, I found myself much impressed by the way he told the story.It maybe helped that Hynes is only a few years older than I am, and that his account of a single summer doing farm work in Minnesota was filled with things I remember from my youth on an Iowa farm.It was another world and a time now irretrievably past, and I think this is an elegantly told growing up story I enjoyed as much as I did Russell Baker's memorable classic (Growing Up, read 11 Apr 1986) and Jimmy Carter's An Hour Before Daylight (read 11 Mar 2001).

5-0 out of 5 stars The father is the star of the show
If you're feeling nostalgic for your carefree youth, you may want to give THE GROWING SEASONS a read.
Samuel Hynes takes us to Depression-era Minneapolis, where he covers all the bases of coming of age, but the real star of the book is Sam's father, who struggles through hard times, moving from city to city in search of stable employment, finally finding it as an oil salesman in Minneapolis. He loses that job, too, only to open a City Service gas station, always seeming to bounce back. The man is a rock.
What's memorable about the man is his values. When his first wife dies, he remarries, not so much for love, but to find a mother for his two sons. At Thanksgiving, he asks for the neck from the turkey, claiming he prefers it to a leg or a breast. When his son dents the running board on his new car, he's grateful his boy is all right. He seems to understand that boys have to try things out, to take a risk here and there, even if it's buying a phony driver's license and carousing with his pals at roadside beer joints. There's a scene where Sam's father is on his death bed where finally he asks for a little understanding. Just before he dies, he says, "I gave up a lot."
Sam is also an endearing character. His first sexual experience is as clumsy as most everybody's is. He's not even sure he got the job done. The book ends with Sam leaving for Navy flight school a couple of years into WWII. By that time you've made friends with Sam and you won't want the book to end. But take heart, Hynes has written several other memoirs about his war experence: FLIGHTS OF PASSAGE being the most memorable.

3-0 out of 5 stars Many Questions Remain
First of all, this is a very enjoyable book. I wanted to read this because my Father grew up in the Midwest during this time frame in a similar city. While he did grow up under very different financial circumstances, I was interested in exploring the every day experiences that a young boy would live through.

The book is excellently written and vividly tracks a boys life in a world few can ever understand if you did not live during the Depression Era of the '30's. This being said, the book left me with many questions.

His brother Chuck is hardly mentioned at all. Why? Dr. Hynes does not really go into how well, or badly he did at school. That would have been interesting. What happend to the boy that ran the girl over with his car. His friends were not the kind of kids I would want my children hanging around with. It is amazing he did not do some time in reform school. I also would have liked to have known at the end, what happened to his Father and Stepmother as well as his Stepsisters.

Anyway, it was fun to read and I surely learned more about this time than I ever did in History classes.

I hope that you will enjoy it. ... Read more

46. Because of Romek: A Holocaust Survivor's Memoir
by David Faber
list price: $14.95
our price: $12.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0972807705
Catlog: Book (2003-01-01)
Publisher: Vincent Press Publishing
Sales Rank: 234597
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (22)

5-0 out of 5 stars And you thought you had it tough...
My girlfriend and I had the good fortune of meeting Mr. Faber at a recent book signing. Seconds after introducing himself, he is ready to pull up his shirt sleeve to show you a grim reminder of his past. His arm still bears the numbers, forcibly tattooed on him by the Nazi regime. He then pulls open his book, lovingly pointing to his mother and sisters. With a soft break in his voice, he then describes the moment he found them lifeless, piled on top of one another.

We bought several copies... and have come back to purchase more.

The book does not disappoint, written in a narrative format that is easy to follow and gripping to read. His work leads you down the path of brutal history, following his family as they are forced into slave labor, rounded up into Ghettos, and then ritualistically hunted by the Nazis. He makes a pact with his mother to survive the horrors, and through it all, he somehow does. Reading the book, you realize that he had a higher purpose in life, educating future generations about the atrocities that no man or woman should have to endure.

After meeting the man and understanding his past, one can only thank God Mr. Faber lived to tell his story. It will change you forever.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I have a had the privilege of not only reading Mr. Faber's book, "Because of Romek", I also had the great privilege of meeting him in person and discussing his heart wrenching experiences. Once you start reading his book you won't want to put in down! On several occasions, I had to stop and remind myself THIS IS A TRUE story! To read what it was like first hand from Mr. Faber, a Holocaust survivor, was to say at the very least, enlightning! It is so very hard to believe that another human being could treat another human in such a horrible way.

As a police officer, I have experienced some terrible things in my 20+ years, but I don't believe any of them could come close to comparison with Mr. Faber's experiences. My deepest respect and admiration go to you, Mr. Faber!

I thank you for sharing these very personal thoughts and experiences with us! You have definately given me a new perspective on life and how fragile life can be!

5-0 out of 5 stars A whole new outlook on life
Before Mr. Faber came to Eagleview Middle School to explain his horrible past, I used to think differently of the Holocaust. My Social Studies teacher Mr. Perfors taught us about the Holocaust, although I couldn't get a clear picture. That was until Mr. Faber came to talk to us. The details from his story made me feel as if I was there, although no one could have gone through as much pain as Mr. Faber. It was an honor to hear of his experience after what he went through. It takes a strong willed person to go through what he went through and to continue to live with the pain and to tell others of his past. I had a very different outlook on life after reading Mr. Faber's book. I am grateful to live in a country where there is freedom of religion and one's opinions and not being tortured. Mr. Faber's book (Because of romek) is higher than a 5!

5-0 out of 5 stars David Faber
At school last year, David Faber came to our school and talked to us about his book and his experience. I have not actually READ the book, but hearing his story first hand definitely had a huge impact on me.

5-0 out of 5 stars A memory not forgotton
David Faber book was the most outstanding story I had ever read. By reading this book made me realize that I live one of the greatest years in history. David has been my encouragement to live without hated to someone who has done wrong. One of the parts in this reading that touched the inside of my heart was when he described the killing of his parents, brother and sisters. The way that I found this book was through my cousin, she said that she will never forget the suffering and hatred that Germans had towards the Jewish people. I recommend all teens to read 'Because of Romek' this book would make them realize that now we have the greatest opportunities in life. I encourage my comrades at school to read this book; they would see the world differently as we see it now. I would like to meet Mr. Faber someday. I give this book five stars. ... Read more

47. Colors of the Mountain
list price: $13.00
our price: $10.40
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385720602
Catlog: Book (2001-01-16)
Publisher: Anchor
Sales Rank: 51653
Average Customer Review: 3.75 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Colors of the Mountain is a classic story of triumph over adversity, a memoir of a boyhood full of spunk, mischief, and love, and a welcome introduction to an amazing young writer.

Da Chen was born in 1962, in the Year of Great Starvation. Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution engulfed millions of Chinese citizens, and the Red Guard enforced Mao's brutal communist regime. Chen’s family belonged to the despised landlord class, and his father and grandfather were routinely beaten and sent to labor camps, the family of eight left without a breadwinner. Despite this background of poverty and danger, and Da Chen grows up to be resilient, tough, and funny, learning how to defend himself and how to work toward his future. By the final pages, when his says his last goodbyes to his father and boards the bus to Beijing to attend college, Da Chen has become a hopeful manastonishing in his resilience and cheerful strength.
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Reviews (57)

2-0 out of 5 stars A Memoir or a Fiction
I was very impressed by the overwhelmingly positive reviews about Da Chen's memoirs (Colors of Mountain) in the national media (especially the article on News Week). I thought that finally, here comes a fresh writer from China with such passion and humility and was writing about the time our generation care deeply about. Well, I have to check it out. Indeed, his use of humor and earthy style is very effective and touching. One could not but to resonate with him at various points of his struggle and triumph. The book would be good if he did not pass it along as a memoir but as a first person fiction. My rough assessment on the contents of the memoir is as followings. There is about 20% of real-life experience that can be easily dissociated and are commendable. The rest can be divided as about 70% second hand exaggerated fantasies for the situation effects and about 10% deliberated fabrication for the sole propose of self-indulgence.

Let's set a few records straight as an illustrative example. First, Da Chen is not a son of a landlord (his father is). There is only one sentence that talked about that because his grandpa is a landlord, so that his father was dismissed from his teaching job. This is hardly a true statement. I have not encounter a single instance that a teacher was dismissed solely because his/her father is a landlord. Indeed, my study of China of the same period shown that about 40 to 60% (dependent on the specific geographic location) of school teachers' fathers are landlords or worse according to the standards of the day. There must be something else he was hiding.

His vivid description of his first day of schooling (the trouble with tuition) is hardly credible either. He might, indeed, hold 50 fens (equivalent of 50 cents) in his hand and that the teacher gave him the extension on tuition. But the tuition was only 3 Yuan (equivalent of 3 dollars). The education was essentially free at the time and 3 Yuan was mostly for the books etc. For example, any one of his piglets (when fatting up by the end of the year) would easily sell for 60 to 100 Yuan at the time (a princely sum, indeed), not to mention the mother pig they had all along (if only one knows the truth, all that sympathy for him would evaporate). The recollection of his association with the gang-activities is equally laughable. Without getting into the details, I just want to remind the readers that at the high of his gang association, he was only 9-10 years old (I had the sense of dislocation of time when reading his description). There must be other ways to generate the same sensation.

His distaste for the Red Guards is also very strange. True, he might be turn down the first time when he applied to join the little red guards (and I don't believe that the whole class was little red guards except him, perhaps only 30% was in little red guard at first. I personally, have to apply eight times in order to join). But strangely, he did not have any memory of his second and third attempts. I'm sure he was admitted into the little Red Guard eventually. What about his joining of the real Red Guard in middle school (he probably was the first few that was admitted into that organization)? Furthermore, there is no description of his joining the Communist Young League. One might wonder what kind of selective memory he has. Then, there are many instances of bizarre alteration of historical facts that make this reviewer wonder just what he is try to present. For instance, on page 77, he quoted the lyric of a popular song at the time, but inserted the "Russian" there himself, but why?

In all, this memoir should be labeled as a fiction. Even so, one should think twice before been foiled into his semi-genuine sentiment. I do not recommend this book for serious reading.

4-0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming, inspirational, memorable.
Colors of the Mountain is the story of Da Chen's coming of age in post revolutionary, rural China. The son of a family of "landlords", a despised class in China at this time, the book is semi autobiographical and is an inspirational tale of prevailing against long odds. It is also a wonderful window into life in rural China--the nature of the countryside, the characters all small towns seem to produce in doves all over the planet, the struggles that everyone must endure off in the "boonies". (One suspects that these elements of the story probably aren't far from what life is currently, China being the place it is.)

On the whole I found the narrative to be compelling, the characters memorable and the story quite well structured. If there is a major flaw in the novel it's that the language is sometimes repetitive and awkward--one can intuit that English is obviously not Mr. Chen's native tongue. On the whole, however, this flaw in the end just adds to the charm and mood of the tale far more than it detracts from it.

I bought 5 or 6 copies of this to give out as Christmas gifts this past December and everyone who I gave it to has enjoyed it. You will too.

5-0 out of 5 stars Colors of the Mountains
The book, Colors of the Mountain by Da Chen, is about a young boy who is the son of a landlord. Landlords in those days were very poor people can literally spit on them or beat them up. The story talks about the life of Da and all the hardships he goes through in life. Da lives in a family of nine; one brother, three sisters, his grandparents, and his parents. He was being continuously kicked out or denied to continue to go to school.

I like this book because the story is very strong. It will hit almost every emotion you have in your body. From sad, happy, or to angry, it will get there at some point. I really like it when there is a happy part to the book. I like it because it made me feel really happy for Da.

What else I like about the book was the detail of the story. The story had a lot of detail which made the book a lot easier to understand. The storyline was also a great part of the book. The book was very unique, the story had the same concept as other books but different because it was set in China. I recommend this book for everyone to read. You will enjoy it as much as I did.

1-0 out of 5 stars Fiction passed as memoir
This book caught my attention immediately when I saw it. Besides my interest in Chinese history, I found from the book's jacket it was the life story of the author who was born in the same year I was, 1962, also in rural China. Wow, I thought, I could really relate to it. I wanted to enjoy the book.

As I read it, I grew more disappointed. The book was more about fiction than facts. As other readers had pointed out, it was full of fabrications or shades of truth. To cite but one such case, the author talked about being treated by a school nurse after a fight. A school nurse? In a rural elementary school? Perhaps in America, but there was no such thing in China!

Clearly the book was written for the western audience, which is not a bad thing. But, the author, whose intelligence and ability I don't doubt, would have been more honest to market it as fiction rather than memoir. I should have known better, given the manner of the crystal clear memory the author flushes out in the book. All that after some thirty years!

5-0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing!
Da Chen's "Colors of the Mountain" is a memoir dealing with the author's childhood in Yellow Stone, a small rural village in China. As a son of a landlord, Da had a difficult time growing up as his family was considered to counter-revolutionary and was blacklisted by the Communist Party. He was constantly targeted and abused by other kids and even teachers seemed to loathe him. This was set during the Cultural Revolution period where education was deemed dangerous and intellectuals were sent to the rural area to be re-educated.

Despite these obstacles, Da persevered to stay in school. As he was isolated from kids of his age at school, he befriended with a few older guys who were not in school, smoke and gamble. Even though these guys were deemed "dangerous" by the village people, they were sincere and accepted Da as who he was rather than what family he came from. However, Da's fortune changed when Chariman Mao passed away and suddenly, college education was what everyone talked about. Da knew that his only chance at getting out of the small village and sought a better life for himself was to get accepted into a college.

I enjoy this book as Da Chen wrote beautifully and at times, almost poetically. His descriptions of the sceneries at his village, the Dong Jing River, the mountains were vivid. The book also describes the lives of landlord families during Cultural Revolution and how it affected the landlords' children. Quite a number of books written on Cultural Revolution usually dealt with intellectuals or people with ties to the West and how they were jailed and torture. "Colors of the Mountain" on the other hand, saw Cultural Revolution through the eyes of a child. I highly recommend this book. ... Read more

48. The Territory of Men: A Memoir
list price: $22.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375504370
Catlog: Book (2002-07-16)
Publisher: Villard
Sales Rank: 472683
Average Customer Review: 4.65 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Born into the turmoil of mid-sixties San Francisco, the daughter of a flower child and a surfer, Joelle Fraser grew up with no bedtime, no boundaries, and no father. But “dads” she had in abundance, as her mother worked her way through boyfriends and husbands, caught between the traditional rules of her upbringing and the new freedoms of the “me generation” and women’s lib. Moving every few months, from houseboats and beach shacks to run-down apartments, Joelle came to learn that a woman’s life, free or not, is played out on men’s territory.

Set in northern California, Hawaii, and the small coastal towns of Oregon, Fraser’s engrossing memoir captures this centerless childhood in wonderfully vivid, frank writing, then goes on to show how a legacy like this affects a girl as she grows up. Pretty, blond, precociously aware of her own sexuality, Joelle was drawn to men early, eager to unlock their mysteries. Working in bars, prisons, and firing ranges, she liked to hang out where they congregated. To her the only worlds that counted were men’s worlds. Men held the power; they made life matter.

Fraser’s sharp vignettes of her intense relationships, brief, turbulent marriage, and itinerant life are haunting echoes of her early memories. In The Territory of Men, she brilliantly portrays the way a rootless childhood leads to a restless adulthood, and how a mother’s aimless life serves as a blueprint for her daughter.
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Reviews (37)

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautifully crafted; an excellent read
Joelle Fraser does what few memoir writers do -- share her experiences without too much introspection and "telling" the reader. It is, above all, an excellent read. I found myself in the range of emotion -- laughter, tears, sorrow, anger, healing -- as I read and nodded in agreement. This book will appeal not only to the women (now in our 30s) who grew up through the 60s and early 70s, but also to their mothers and fathers, their husbands and boyfriends (after all, it's important to know what makes these women tick -- they/we're from a generation unlike any other, and shaped by such powerful forces that stereotypes do not apply).

Fraser's detail of scene makes this somewhat voyeuristic book come to vivid life. She's lived in places people dream about -- Northern California, Hawaii, the mist-shrouded Oregon Coast. She's lived a life that many of us lived in various forms; it's dangerous and exciting, yet unpredictable and lacking any dependable structure. It's anything but safe. Yet she comes to a point at the end where the reader understands that she's near a kind of peace with -- of understanding -- of the forces that shaped her mother's and father's lives, and then her own. It is "coming of age" but not in a hokey or too-sentimental fashion.

Many of Territory's professional reviews have dealt with the heavier topics of the book: alcoholism, abuse, a scattered and often neglectful upbringing. Those are the hard truths and provide ample opportunity for discussion (my mother also read Territory of Men and loved it, cried for the little girl Joelle was and the little girl I was, and relived her own past through it), and we had several discussions as she completed some of the essays (notably "Robin's Story"). It's a book that I wish I had a larger group to discuss with -- a book club would be the ideal setting for further exploration of this book's themes. I've recommended it to several friends, male and female, older and younger.

It's a truly excellent read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Joelle Fraser's memoir gritty and triumphant
For any of us who experienced coming of age in the '60's and '70's, Joelle's Fraser's Territory of Men is likely to trigger the kind of nostalgic jolt usually reserved for reunion concerts and rediscovering love letters from an old flame. If you want to read something bland and factual, go to the dictionary. But for the unflinching revelation of even part of our own lives, not just the author's, read Fraser's book. Fraser's vignettes are NOT the self-absorbed rantings of a life unfulfilled, for this writer satisfies: she fleshes out the characters, colors the scenery, and energizes the moment...I swear I could hear the Mamas & the Papas singing California Dreamin'. I could see the trusting little blonde girl being lowered to her Aunt Kathy's Sausalito houseboat in a basket, feeling hopeful and loved.
Ultimately, this is a book about a life well-lived and the capacity of the human spirit for forgiveness (I won't tell you how or I'll spoil the final chapters).
If you are brave enough to take a look at your own experience of growing up as viewed through the eyes of a gifted writer, you must read Territory of Men.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very Enjoyable Read
Joelle Fraser writes a very honest, sweet memoir that is a pleasant change from the usual brag memoir. She takes us on a journey through growing up and understanding ourselves and the ones we love. She allows us to see the painful as well as the pleasurable moments in that growth and I find this very refreshing. Also, being a lover of Hawai'i, I enjoyed the brief journey to that state as well!

3-0 out of 5 stars Talented writer needs to bare her own feelings
This young woman stumbles through life obsessively pursuing her own happiness, and seems surprised that she never finds it. Blonde, slender, intelligent, and skilled at manipulating men, she frequents dive bars in Hawaii and San Francisco, attends college, and blames her parents because she isn't happier. Perhaps the price she pays for her independence is that she never really cares about what happens to anybody else. Has she ever thought about people who had it much, much worse than she? You'd never know it from this book.

Fraser's memoir is most engrossing when she describes growing up in the free-form, no-rules, do-your-own-thing culture that flourished in California during the 60's and 70's. Continually shuffled between her alcoholic father and man-crazed mother, she is deprived of the stability that she obviously desperately needs. More than once, we get the premonition that something awful is going to happen to her, but unless this reviewer is failing to read between the lines, she never encounters anything worse than that which most adolescents deal with on a consistent basis. The chapter on her experience teaching in the medium security prison provides a good example: we see the chance she is taking just by being there; trouble breaks out and she runs towards it rather than away, but in the end nothing bad actually happens to her.

More interesting might have been a book about her mother, who actually suffers from some of the problems that Fraser only references second-hand. We are told that there were drunken orgies, a continual stream of men, substantial physical abuse, a number of failed marriages, a victory over alcoholism, and a developing interest in Native Americans, but usually the little girl in the background is sent off to her room, and doesn't really have much in the way of insights or information to share with us. Another missed opportunity is the section on her cousin Karyn, who was murdered (by being stabbed forty-two times) by her boyfriend. A little investigative reporting might have been in order here, because the bare facts we get don't really explain very much. The lessons that Fraser draws from the story are significant enough, but one is reminded of a number of great writers who have done entire books about murders that were no more brutal than this one.

This is by no means a bad piece of writing, but it seldom manages to evoke the empty decadence of the times. Most of the book is far more personal than historical, providing an overview of this young woman's relationship with her parents without betraying any really powerful emotions. Doesn't she resent her parents for raising her like a circus animal? Isn't she angry about the way they ship her back and forth, from one school to another, never letting her grow comfortable anywhere? Some genuine emotion might lend pathos to a document that, viewed from the outside, isn't really that noteworthy. Let's hope that this talented writer's next effort finds her able to penetrate past her own cool exterior, and dig at the roots of what she's really feeling.

5-0 out of 5 stars Memoir without revenge? Is it possible?
As a Sausalito native who just missed the 60's, I was eager to read Fraser's take on this little coastal tourist town full of folks a little too offbeat to stay put in nearby San Francisco. From the first page, I was stuck. Fraser's powers of pacing, description, and presence make the vignettes of 30-plus years fly on by. She seems appropriately confident in her ability to craft narrative-based scenarios that deliver years of significance. The best part? No vindictiveness. No self-righteousness. No exhausting self-analysis. Fraser hands us the gift of her paragraphs: forward-moving, heartfelt, and the product of a powerful wordsmith. I am already waiting for her next title. ... Read more

49. City of One: A Memoir
by Francine Cournos
list price: $23.95
our price: $23.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393047318
Catlog: Book (1999-05-01)
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Sales Rank: 620433
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A poignant and unforgettable memoir of growing up orphaned. Francine was three years old when her father died, and by the time she was eleven, her mother was dead of breast cancer. "I had been hurled over a cliff," she writes. "The irreversibility of what had happened crashed down on me; a nauseating wave of fear and a flood of tears followed. I didn't know who I was without my mother. . . . What would fill the vast space left by the disappearance of this all-consuming relationship? How would I spend my time? What would I become?" In answering these questions, Dr. Francine Cournos offers a beautifully written memoir of an injured child's inner life, and the moving --even exhilarating --story of the ways in which, after much struggle and with considerable help from others, that injured child living in a foster home grew to become a happy and successful adult. In City of One, an inspiring account of triumph over childhood adversity, a distinguished psychiatrist applies her expertise to her own true story of growing up orphaned. ... Read more

Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars moving and brave
This book moved and enlightened me.Cournos' story of surviving what every child fears most--the loss of both her parents--is raw, vivid, and remarkably compassionate given that she became a foster child throughwillful neglect on the part of her extended family.Cournos succeeds intransforming her own particular journey into a roadmap for others who wantor need to understand what it is to be an orphan.Brave and beautifullydone!

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent knowlege of Foster Care system and loss of family.
As a psychiatric social worker this book gives an excellent perspective on the foster care system, how we would knew it and what it has become.In addition the book Dr.Cournos writes sheds an enormous light on thealienation of family and the reasons that alienation might occurr.It is asad tale with a shinning light ending. As a mother who has almost lost achild to cancer, this book has inspired me to look ahead and consider allthe possibilities, as Dr. Cournos has.It is a book that all should read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent knowlege of Foster Care system and loss of family.
As a psychiatric social worker this book gives an excellent perspective on the foster care system, how we would knew it and what it has become.In addition the book Dr.Cournos writes sheds an enormous light on thealienation of family and the reasons that alienation might occurr.It wasa sad story with a shinning light ending.

5-0 out of 5 stars A compelling and touching memoir
It didn't occur to me that I would be so touched by Francine Cournos's book.I have an interest in child welfare issues, which is why I read it.She deals with a much bigger issue than foster care -- she writes about thevoluminous effect that the loss of parents can have on a child throughouthis or her life.Brava, Dr. Cournos.Thank you for sharing your life withus.This is a must-read for anyone who works with children in any arena.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dr. Cournos' memoir gives voice to the effects of early loss
As a writer, and as someone whose own experiences of childhood loss and its aftereffects closely parallel those of Dr. Cournos, I found City of One both deeply moving and comforting.We who have the hole where the lovingparent should be, we who deal with the myth and the anger and the quest forwholeness, understand every word.Not only does Dr. Cournos evoke the painof the loss, but her honesty and her search for the strengths that can comefrom a tragic early life goes beyond judgment and pathology.It goes tothe things that define our lifelong sense of who we are.I highlyrecommend this memoir to anyone who wants to understand or who struggleswith these issues. ... Read more

50. Facing The Lion: Memoirs of a Young Girl in Nazi Europe
by Simone Arnold Liebster
list price: $29.95
our price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0967936659
Catlog: Book (2000-04-28)
Publisher: Grammaton Press
Sales Rank: 85787
Average Customer Review: 4.92 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Facing The Lion is the autobiographical account of a young girl's faith and courage.In the years immediately preceding World War II, Simone Arnold is a young girl who delights in life - her doting parents, her loving aunts and uncles, and her grandparents at their mountain farm in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France.As Simone grows into her pre-teen years, her parents turn from the Catholic Church and become devout Jehovah's Witnesses.Simone, too, embraces the faith.

The Nazi part (the "Lion") takes over Alsace-Lorraine, and Simone's schools become Nazi propaganda machines.Simone refuses to accept the Nazi party as being above God.Her simple acts of defiance lead her to become persecuted by the school staff and local officials, and ignored by friends.

With her father already taken away to a Nazi concentration camp, Simone is wrestled away from her mother and sent to a reform school to be "reeducated".There, Simone learns that her mother has also been put in a camp.Simone remains in the harsh reform school until the end of the war.She emerges feeling detached from life, but the faith that sustains her through her ordeals helps her rebuild her world. ... Read more

Reviews (24)

5-0 out of 5 stars An important and inspiring book!
This book paints a portrait of life under Nazi rule that most people would otherwise never see. We are all aware of the treatment of the jews in world war II but this is the first book I've read concerning the treatment of Jehovah Witness's during this time. I knew very little about their faith when I started reading this book and even less about how they were treated by the Nazis.

This book was not only informative but the story is very compelling and very hard to put down. The writer has a wonderful writing style and many times I felt I was actually reading the thoughts of this young girl as she struggled on a daily basis with her life as a prisoner while at the same time tried as best she could to live a life that her faith required.

5-0 out of 5 stars A detailed view of life during Hitler's ill-fated regime
Simone Arnold and her family were devout members of the evangelical Christian movement known as Jehovah's Witnesses and living in Nazi occupied Alsace-Lorraine during World War II. Like the Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, Communists, and political liberals, the Jehovah Witnesses were targeted by the Nazi's for extermination. Shunned by the community at the direction of the Nazis, rounded up and imprisoned in concentration camps, starved, beaten, abused, and publicly humiliated, all that Simone and her family would have had to do to avoid arrest and persecution was to simply sign a piece of paper renouncing their religion. Facing The Lion is the compelling autobiographical account of a young girl's faith and courage, and her refusal to accept the Nazi party and remain loyal to her faith -- despite the her father's being sent to the camps and she separated from her mother and interned in a reform school for purposes of "reeducation". Facing The Lion is a compelling and highly recommended testament to both Nazi atrocity and the endurance of the human spirit, a detailed view of life during Hitler's ill-fated regime and an inspiration to future generations having to cope with overwhelming pressure to conform in violation of heartfelt beliefs.

5-0 out of 5 stars Tearful and heartfelt
I found this book to be a very tear-jerking book and loved it. It took me only three days to read the book and helped me to do a school report. Simone was a girl just under my age and I could not imagine going through something like that. I have often wondered how Witnesses made it through that terrible time. I have come to realize that God does give us the strngth to carry on and that he gave Simone and her family that strength as well. This book was a very good book to read and I would recommend it to many.

3-0 out of 5 stars It breaks my heart to write this
Among those persecuted by the Nazi's, Jehovah's witnesses held the unique position of being able to end their suffering merely by signing a document renouncing their faith. The fact that as a religious group, they alone remained steadfast in the face of a demonic dictator should be the shame of all other religious groups who compromised to save their collective hides, or worse, those who hoped to gain a favored status in such a regime.

When viewed in this context, the persecution of a single individual or family pales in comparison to the larger issues that are the dictates of faith and conscience. It is the inability of the author to capture these larger issues that makes this book such a disappointment. This is not to say that individual examples of faith are not inspiring. However, when you contrast this story with those of the attempted extermination of God's people in the Scriptures, the sense of perspective regarding the larger issues, and the relative insignificance of the individual participants so evident in the Scriptural accounts is sorely lacking from this book.

I am reticent to disagree with so many who wrote such wonderful and heartfelt reviews. However, to concentrate on self to the exclusion of issues that Jehovah's witnesses hold as sacred is a course I can not condone.

5-0 out of 5 stars A testimony to faith
In just a matter of days, I've completed reading what I consider to be one of the most moving books I have ever had the privilege of reading. It touched me deeply, personally...beyond mere words.

"Facing The Lions" is an autobiography written in the voice of a young girl, Simone Arnold. Growing up in Alsace (a location on the French/German border), Simone is an astute and happy child surrounded by a close-knit and loving family. In time, her parents become Jehovah's Witnesses and Simone too makes the personal decision to embrace the faith with a fiery zeal and enduring fervor beyond her years, that would make any parent swell with pride.

However, WWII is just around the corner, and trouble strikes when the Nazis annex the bordering French territory of Alsace, the home of the Arnold family. The Bibelforscher (Jehovah's Witnesses or "Bible Students" or as they were known then) in all of Nazi Europe are quickly put under ban.

Being conscientious objectors in line with the scriptures' admonition "You must not murder", the steadfast Bible Students did not support the war effort in any way whatsoever. They refused to "Heil Hitler". As a result of their bible-based beliefs and their neutral standing, thousands of Jehovah's Witnesses were sent to concentration camps to suffer cruelly at the hands of the Nazi regime. Even though the Bibelforscher were given the opportunity to be released if they "simply" renounced their faith by signing a legal document, these ones remained steadfast and unmovable. Because of their unbreakable allegiance to God alone, and not the state, they became targets of the Nazis' rage and even their fellow citizens. However, their beliefs and firm reliance on Jehovah God helped these students of the Bible endure the oppression of the camps, some even to the point of death.

As unwavering "Bibelforscher", the Arnold family was not immune to such horrors of the war machine. Soon after the war's outset, Simone's father is arrested and is taken away to the Dachau concentration camp and thereafter the infamous Mauthausen. Shortly after Simone is extradited to a strict Nazi reform school, her mother and aunt are also deported to the Schirmeck and Gaggenau camps.

"Facing The Lions" is full of heart-rending experiences as Simone recounts physical and mental abuse at the reform school by those who outwardly and secretly conspired to break her spirit. Yet, Simone maintains her strong faith amidst such persecution, and throughout maintains her spiritual and moral conviction. Excerpts from personal letters, documents, photographs of family and detailed drawings by the author herself serve to personalize the events, making for a poignant vicarious experience.

Inspiring, encouraging...this moving life story of a courageous and steadfast young girl has added to my respect and admiration of my rich spiritual heritage; and to all those, including Simone and her family, who struggled courageously to endure man's inhumanity to man. ... Read more

51. The Little Monster: Growing Up With Adhd
by Robert Jergen
list price: $29.95
our price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1578861047
Catlog: Book (2004-04-01)
Publisher: Scarecrow Education
Sales Rank: 491890
Average Customer Review: 4.83 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars A glimpse at what it is like inside my child's head
I am always looking for a way to better understand my ADHD child. I am also looking for ways to explain it to others--teachers, other parents, my family. This book is a fantastic tool to that end! It is personal, emotional, scarey, moving. It just may be the best way I have seen in a while to get past denial and the thought that ADHD is something we can dismiss as bad parenting or deliberate bad behavior. It is great to see the postive aspects of ADHD highlighted. Any story that give my child a postive way to look at himself is helpful. We all need that. But finding it for an ADHD kid has not always been easy. Robert Jergen has just made it easier and has lightened my load. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

5-0 out of 5 stars A ray of hope!
Powerful! Moving! Inspirational! Passionate! Helpful! Rewarding! Hilarious! Insightful! Brilliant! The best book about ADHD that I have read! Dr. Jergen has put a new, POSITIVE, face on ADHD!

5-0 out of 5 stars The book to have if you have a child with any disability!
While this book is specifically about a person growing up with ADHD, it really is about parenting and overcoming a difficult childhood. It is funny, touching, thoughtful, and engaging. A must read for parents and teachers of children with ADHD; but also strongly recommended for anybody working with any child.

4-0 out of 5 stars Looking From the Inside Out
Rob's book is an easy read that should be required reading for all teachers and parents that interact with diagnosed and undiagnosed individuals with ADHD. It not only brings to light what it "feels" like to have ADHD but brings some practical suggestions and accomodations to the table for individuals to try. The book can also bring a ray of hope to the daily frustrations many parents and teachers experience by illustrating the success an ADHD person can achieve focusing on the strengths and positive aspects of this alternative mind wiring.

5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book written with humor
I found this book very informative and helpful in understanding how ADHD affects every aspect of one's life. I specifically recommend this book to anyone who has a loved one with ADHD. ... Read more

52. There's a Boy in Here
by Judy Barron, Sean Barron
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1885477864
Catlog: Book (2002-04-08)
Publisher: Future Horizons
Sales Rank: 45952
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This is the best seller that has been out of print for a few years. A mother and son, in alternating paragraphs, look back at their time meeting the challenge of his autism, his amazing progress. In a new section, both authors discuss where Sean is today. ... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars An autobiography that gives insight
I loved this book. It was interesting and kept my attention throughout. I feel it is a must for parents dealing with children on the Autism Spectrum.
As we all know none of our children in the autism spectrum are the same. The boy in this book was more "severe" as a child than my son, but it still gave me a better understanding into why and how my child thinks. Although never explicitly stated in the book it gave me insight to easily find ways to ask my son questions as to why he does certain things. I never would have understood certain issues about my child for lack of a good way to ask my son questions about his problems & confusion had it not been for this book! The book also comes with a happy ending and good closure to this inspiring man's journey living with Autism. Even if you are not a parent or educator with a child on the Autism Spectrum, I think you would find this book interesting and worth the read. As the Author grows, his determination to succeed is inspiring for anyone.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Valuable Perspective
Having a son on the spectrum myself, I found this book to offer such a genuine perspective into the mindset of both the parent and the child. In particular, having the added insights and explainations of Sean Barron, himself, in reference to the often bizarre and seemingly unexplainable behaviors that are associated with autism, gave me a unique new set of eyes to see my son through. What a gift this,is in terms of the insight it provides and the hope it inspires.

5-0 out of 5 stars a family account from both sides of the glass
While many books on autism tell either from a family or individual's viewpoint, this story is unique in that it presents the perspective from both sides. Paired with the mother's account is one of her son with autism. This was written during a time when autism was still between psychoanalysis & neurology so some of the interventions seem misguided (although acceptable at the time). When Sean reaches high school & begins to recognize himself as an autistic indiviual, it is an unusual awakening. Good family-account/personal-account reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars Interesting insight into the thoughts of a child with autism
I teach children with a variety of behavioral handicaps, and this book explains the behaviors of children with autism from the point of view of the parents and the child himself as well as any I have ever read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Educational
As a grandmother of an autistic boy I am thankful there is some understanding to this experience. ... Read more

53. Lenten Lands: My Childhood with Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis
by Douglas H. Gresham
list price: $9.95
our price: $8.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060634472
Catlog: Book (1994-06-03)
Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco
Sales Rank: 234698
Average Customer Review: 4.09 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (11)

4-0 out of 5 stars A decade with C.S. Lewis, up close and personal.
No true die-hard student of C.S. Lewis can pass on a reading of this book, and here's why:
Lenten Lands provides a perspective of Lewis that you can get nowhere else... the perspective of a stepson.
There are many books about Lewis the academician, Lewis the lay-theologian... Lewis the prolific author/poet... but a first-hand account of Lewis the around-the-house stepdad? Trust me, you will find THAT nowhere but here!
And it's an important perspective, this day-to-day life at the Kilns in Oxford, because many misconceptions about Lewis are cleared up in the midst of Douglas Gresham's recollections.
As other reviewers have noted, this is technically a biography of Douglas Gresham rather than of C.S. Lewis. The opening chapters are of the Gresham family in Staatsburg, New York. Then, in 1953, as a child, Douglas met Lewis for the first time in Oxford. By this time, Joy Davidman (Douglas' mother) was already acquainted with Lewis. Three years later (1956) the two were married in the Registry Office, but not before Joy's illness was already fairly advanced. The following year (1957) their vows are re-instated by the Rev. Peter Bide in Wingfield-Morris Hospital. Three years later Joy dies from cancer.
Then, three years after this, on a somber November evening while eighteen-year-old Douglas is still digesting the fact that President Kennedy has just been assassinated, he receives the news that Lewis has died.
"On that day... there was a bitter stillness about the world; for the second time in my life everything I knew, everything I held dear and the one person I loved had been swept away." I found this portion of the book to be especially moving.
The following year (1964) Douglas' birth father commits suicide.
A few final chapters tell of Douglas' own marriage and settlings in Tasmania and mainland Australia.
But the bulk of Lenten Lands consists of Douglas' decade of knowing C.S. Lewis. A very well-written book, the title being borrowed from a phrase in Joy's epitaph, written by Lewis.
As I read Lenten Lands I was reminded of something C.S. Lewis said long before ever knowing the Greshams. In his "Abolition of Man" (published 1943) he said "I myself do not enjoy the society of small children... I recognize this as a defect in myself."
Again, in a private letter to his friend Arthur Greeves (December 1935) Lewis commented "I theoretically hold that one ought to like children, but I am shy with them in practice."
Yet Douglas concludes that his decade of knowing Lewis was a "privilege"... "a gift of education and experience greater than some of us gain in a lifetime."
His statement confirms my own suspicion about Lewis... that he was a man of such inner greatness, that he proved to be good even at the things he was not good at.

5-0 out of 5 stars A charming story.
Unlike some reviewers, I found Lenten Lands well-written, poignant, and honest, though it dies a bit towards the end. (As auto-biographies often do -- if the author doesn't die first, like Moses.) I am not sure why some reviewers complain that Douglas chose to tell his story, even if his memories of Lewis were not as full, say, as George Sayers, and he has lived a fairly simple, even blue-color, life at times. Greshem's descriptions of growing up, the houses he lived in, taking the boat to England, London and Oxford, and the Kilns, were all interesting to me, though as a fan of Lewis I was of course anticipating scenes of his life. Greshem brings nature, his feelings, the drama of watching his mother come to love C. S. Lewis and the love returned, then her death, to life. The scene in which his dying but still fiercely defensive mother confronts a trespasser with a shotgun, C. S. Lewis standing alarmed at her side, and yells, "Get out of my line of fire, Jack!", and the scenes that follow, made me laugh for a fair chunk of an hour.

I didn't expect this book to all be about Lewis; hasn't he had enough pure biographies already? I was pleased to learn much more about Joy, whom Douglas and "Jack" both greatly loved. (Having read her Smoke on the Mountain, I agree she had talent and insight -- though Douglas' claim that she was an intellectual match for Lewis should be described as filial, I think.) Lenten Lands seemed to me an honest and thoughtful story, and I found myself reading it very quickly.

2-0 out of 5 stars Douglas Gresham's autobiography
Lenten Lands is the autobiography of Douglas Gresham. He was the stepson of C. S. Lewis, the famous writer of many books on Christianity and childrens' fantasies.

Gresham was eight years old when his mother divorced her first husband in America and took him and his brother to live in England. Mrs. Joy Gresham was an intellectual and a writer, and had begun a friendship with C. S. Lewis. The friendship gradually deepened, and in time Joy and "Jack" Lewis were married. Their home was the picturesque cottage called "The Kilns" in Oxford, which was also occupied by Lewis' brother, Warnie.

Gresham's mother suffered for years with cancer and died when Douglas was fifteen. Lewis was completely devastated by her death, and died three years later, following a lengthy illness. Warnie Lewis died, an alcoholic, ten years later. By this time, Gresham was happily married, had four children, and was a farmer in Australia.

The problem I have with this book is that Douglas Gresham is certainly not famous enough in his own right to warrant writing an autobiography. He came to love C. S. Lewis in the ten years he knew him, but spent the entire time away at various boarding schools, only going home on summer vacations. This explains why his descriptions of life with Lewis are told in vague, general terms; he never spent enough time with him to know him well. We learn nothing of the famous man at all. Indeed, the thing that is described best and in the most detail, is Lewis' home, the Kilns. It is described as an exquisitely beautiful fairyland with a lake and woods, made for a little boy's adventures. He writes of the numbing sadness he felt at the deaths of his mother, Jack, and Warnie; however, he was not there when any of them died and, and has only hazy memories of those events. The biggest mystery about this book is that he only mentions the existence of his brother a handful of times. He never says what the relationship between his brother, mother, and Jack was, how the deaths affected his brother, how he did at school, or what he did afterward. (The only answer I can come up with is that the brother must have asked to be left out of the book, as he was from the movie "Shadowlands.")

The subtitle of this book is "My childhood with Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis," and yet he talks very little about them. The subject of the book is clearly Douglas Gresham, who had a very ordinary childhood. The review on the book cover says it is the "story of one of the most tender love stories of the mid-century," and yet Gresham gives no specific events or examples of this love. He talks about them in the most superficial terms, for, in fact, he was a little boy and he wasn't around them much.

The book should have ended with Jack's death, for surely Gresham is only known because of his association with Lewis. Those fans of C. S. Lewis hoping to gain insight into the man will be disappointed. The book is about Gresham's childhood, which was mostly spent apart from Lewis and, unfortunately, did not merit an autobiography.

4-0 out of 5 stars Yay! Finally something new!
I don't agree with some of the other reviews here; this is a really good book. Lewis doesn't die halfway through the book, more about three quarters of the way through. But up until that point, its very interesting and it gives, in my opinion, tons of new insight into Lewis' persona and everyday life. The only thing that really bugs me about this book is Gresham's writing style; its very wordy and comma happy, making it difficult to read at times. Some of his analogies and placed adjectives are, without meaning to be, really hysterical, stemming from the fact that they are so corny. But overall, I'm glad I read this book. There's some really interesting passages in here, especially those giving insight into the Lewis' lives after Joy dies. Also there are a few surprises in there I wasn't expecting. Probably you should get this book out of the library before you buy it, but only because it won't be to everyone's taste.

4-0 out of 5 stars An honest recollection, full of angst and grief. . .
. . .written by one of Joy Davidman's sons (and CS Lewis's stepson).

This is not a book primarily about CS Lewis. It is not a book primarily about Joy Davidman. Those who pick up this volume looking for a "biography" will be disappointed. Rather, the book is a painful exploration of the trials and tribulations of a young man faced with:

1) abuse by a violent father (whom he still loved)

2) the controversial marriage of his mother to a prominent public figure (whom he also loved, despite a sometimes difficult relationship)

3) the illness and death of his mother (1960)

4) the illness and death of his stepfather (1963)

5) the illness and suicide of his father (1964)

6) the normal "angst" of the growing-up years.

Considered from this perspective, I suspect that the book was a form of catharsis for Douglas; a sort of "coming-to-grips" with years of pain and uncertainty.

This sort of "from the heart" revealatory book will NOT suit all tastes (as is evident from the tenor of some of the other reviews). But taken for what it is, the book provides valuable insight into the Lewis "family". ... Read more

54. An Open Book: Coming of Age in the Heartland
by Michael Dirda
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393057569
Catlog: Book (2003-10)
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
Sales Rank: 251918
Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A funny, wistful memoir by a Pulitzer Prize-winning critic that recalls the charm of Growing Up and the tenderness of One Writer's Beginnings.

"All that kid wants to do is stick his nose in a book," Michael Dirda's steelworker father used to complain, worried about his son's passion for reading. In An Open Book, one of the most delightful memoirs to emerge in years, the acclaimed literary journalist Michael Dirda re-creates his boyhood in rust-belt Ohio, first in the working-class town of Lorain, then at Oberlin College. In addition to his colorful family and friends, An Open Book also features the great writers and fictional characters who fueled Dirda's imagination: from Green Lantern to Sherlock Holmes, from Candy to Proust. The result is an affectionate homage to small-town America—summer jobs, school fights, sweepstakes contests, and first dates—as well as a paean to what could arguably be called the last great age of reading. ... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful memoir, for avid readers or not
It's a bit intimidating to write a review of a book by a book reviewer, but I have to try, as I loved this book so much! I have a long list of books to read in the future, and once one of them comes to the top, I sometimes have forgotten what it's going to be about, so this one came as a real treat. It tells of the author's childhood in Lorain, Ohio in the late 40s to the 60s, including his years at Oberlin. As an avid reader with many memories of the joy of childhood reading (although I was not as sophisticated in my tastes are Dirda!) it's always a treat to be brought back to the that wonderful feeling of having a pile of new books to read, from the library or thrift stores or the school book club! I enjoyed the list of books he had read through age 16 in an appendix. I felt better about my own youthful reading knowing we had both at least read a few of the same books, even the quite light Cheaper by the Dozen!

An added treat for me is that although I didn't know this would be the case when I started the book, I got much insight into the land of my own early childhood---I was born in Elyria, next to Lorain, although we moved when I was 6, and my parents both went to Oberlin, a bit earlier than Dirda. Earlier in the day I started this book, my mother for some reason told me of a time my father bought me shoes at Januzzi's, a shoe store I'd never heard of before---reading later that day of the author's own trip to Januzzi's was one of my most amazing reading moments of my lifetime! Any author who can create a scene of place like Dirda did with the Lorain of his childhood is truly gifted.

I am eager now to get my hands of Dirda's other book, Readings! Keep writing, Michael Dirda!!

1-0 out of 5 stars An Open Book - Closed Mind
After reading my way thru almost half of this book, could not take any more. I am a life long Lorain resident, growing up in the same time frame that the author did and also attending the same high school. Although the author does write very well, it would behoove him to check his so-called facts, several of the places he mentions have never existed in Lorain and his skewed perceptions of growing up in the city are full of fabrications. How sad that he choose to use his talent in writing such a shoddy book, certainly not something I choose to have on my bookshelves nor recommend to others. Shame on this author!

5-0 out of 5 stars an open book
I love the book! The book is very special and has a place in my heart. My favorite part of the book is how Dirda makes fun of his middle pesky sister Pamela. i laughed historically at the part. i also like how toward of the end od the book Dirda's hormones begin to blossom. Overall i feel that it is an awesome book and should be read and shared with families all over the world.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dirda Fan
I've only read the first two chapters, but so far I am laughing myself silly. The book is hilarious.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Warm Affirmation Of Life and The Joy Of Learning
Michael Dirda's memoir of his growing up years is very personal, highly engaging, and by turns, wistful, sad and funny. We follow the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic from his birth in an Ohio mill town to the middle of his years at Oberlin College. His family, teachers and friends play significant roles in the story, but so do the books that fueled his imagination and shaped his destiny.

In an environment that was indifferent, if not hostile to books, Dirda discovered their ability to entertain, educate and uplift. His story is an affirmation of the argument that it doesn't matter what a child reads in the early years, just so long as he or she reads. Dirda quickly graduates from comics, Big Little Books and the like to more substantial fare. In fact, the list of classics in the back of the book that he had read by the end of high school would put most adult readers to shame. Though reading is at the heart of the story, there's a lot of classic childhood reminiscing here, including memorable incidents like his attempt to run away from home at age 14 and his awkward early journeys into the world of dating and romance.

This is a personal story that should have wide appeal, though I bet it will have a special resonance for those (such as this reviewer) who felt a little out of the maintstream during their growing up years because they "always had their nose in a book." ... Read more

55. German Boy: A Child in War
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0767908244
Catlog: Book (2001-10-16)
Publisher: Broadway
Sales Rank: 63743
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

“I think German Boy has all the qualities of greatness.I love the book.” -- from the Foreword by Stephen Ambrose

As the Third Reich crumbled in 1945, scores of Germans scrambled to flee the advancing Russian troops. Among them was a little boy named Wolfgang Samuel, who left his home with his mother and sister and ended up in war-torn Strasbourg before being forced farther west into a disease-ridden refugee camp. German Boy is the vivid, true story of their fight for survival as the tables of power turned and, for reasons Wolfgang was too young to understand, his broken family suffered arbitrary arrest, rape, hunger, and constant fear.

Because his father was off fighting the war as a Luftwaffe officer, young Wolfgang was forced to become the head of his household, scavenging for provisions and scraps with which to feed his family. Despite his best efforts, his mother still found herself forced to do the unthinkable to survive, and her sacrifices became Wolfgang’s worst nightmares. Somehow, with the resilience only children can muster, he maintained his youth and innocence in little ways–making friends with other young refugees, playing games with shrapnel, delighting in the planes flown by the Americans and the candies the GIs brought. In the end, the Samuels begin life anew in America, and Wolfgang eventually goes on to a thirty-year career in the U.S. Air Force.

Bringing fresh insight to the dark history of Nazi Germany and the horror left in its wake, German Boy records the valuable recollections of an innocent’s incredible journey.
... Read more

Reviews (40)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating and Important Book
Colonel Samuel,USAF ret., was born in Nazi Germany to a woman raised in a small town to the north of Berlin and to an officer in the Luftwaffe. German Boy: A Child in War is an account of his life from the age of 10, when he, his mother, and sister became refugees fleeing the advance of Soviet forces in January 1945, to the age of 15, when he emigrated to the United States with his mother and step-father. In between, he lived in both the Soviet and British zones of occupation. This book sets forth Colonel Samuel's vivid, honest, and unsentimental recollection of the devastation, privation, degradation, brutality, and starvation that he and his family witnessed and experienced during those years. It is well written and it takes hold of the reader from the first paragaph and stays with one long after the last sentence has been read.

"German Boy" is an important work. As a history, it relates something about a period of history that is not commonly known -- the horrors of World War II in Europe continued long after the fighting ended in May of 1945. As a personal account, it offers hope. Wolfgang Samuel, like millions of children before, during, and since World War II, directly experienced events through which no child should ever have to suffer. His story highlights the resilience of the individual and illustrates that with the will, the perseverance, optimism, and some luck, one can survive disaster and live a better life. This volume would make excellent supplemenary reading for high school and college history courses.

Those who find "German Boy" to be of interest may also consider reading another excellent book, which is titled, "A Woman in Berlin." The author is anonymous. As the title suggests, the book is a published journal written by a young woman while she was living in Berlin during the weeks before the fall of the city to the Soviets and through the first weeks of the Soviet occupation. It was published during the 1950s and is now out of print. However, it is not too difficult to find and it is well worth the effort.

5-0 out of 5 stars How a Boy and his Family Survived the War
"German Boy, a Child in War"
Wolfgang W. E. Samuel
ISBN 0-7679-0824-4

This autobiography of childhood by Wolfgang Samuel is the story of a German boy growing up during World War II. When the momentum of the war turned against Germany, the Russians attacked from the east and routed the German army and civilian population as well. The book recounts how Samuel and his family abandoned their home and possessions and fled for their lives. In the following years, they survived under circumstances that most of us can hardly imagine. This is a very touching story, largely about the writer‘s mother, who did whatever was necessary and paid any price for the survival of her children, the author and his younger sister. Although it is a story of deprivation and terror, it is also about acts of incredible courage and noble behavior under terrible circumstances by ordinary people.

This book is admirable in its originality and all the more powerful in having been written by the person who lived it. Above all, it is a remarkable story of courage and tenacity of the human spirit.

5-0 out of 5 stars Personal Memoir Filled With Reproaches.
"German Boy: A Child In War" by Wolfgang W. E. Samuel
Wolfgang turned ten years old in February 1945, just as Soviet tanks were marching towards the town of Sagan in East Germany. (Sagan is now Zagan in Poland). The author has written an excellent book about being a boy in that time. This book is NOT about Germany's losing Pomerania, Silesia East Prussia, etc. Col. Samuel has been able to capture the memory of his feelings as a small boy as his world collapses around him. Besides the usual trials and tribulations of a boy growing up, Wolfgang had to deal with being afraid and distrustful of adults, of being the refugee outsider in close-knit German villages and being "from the big city" in these small villages. All of these things most boys do not want to be. Somehow, Col. Samuel has been able to capture the boyish feelings he had years ago and write them down in this very personal memoir.

The adult Samuel was able to capture the childhood way of thinking. For example, on page 70, he writes, " I became uneasy at seeing the barrier. If they had build tank barriers, they must be expecting Russian tanks. My sense of security diminished... ." In other sections, he records his childhood reproaches of mostly his mother, and somewhat, of his father. It is as if his parents were somehow to blame for much of the difficulties he experienced. He does not, however, record any feeling of reproach for himself, as when, e.g. foolishly, he walks through a raging blizzard to go to school, even though his mother had warned him not to do so. His distrust of adults is further justified when the baker, to whom he is apprenticed, switches Wolfgang form the union-inspected room to housing in a bombed -out ruin, after the union inspector has left the premises. On the other hand, he has only good things to say about both sets of grandparents.

Colonel Samuel's childhood experiences would make most of us very cynical; he has survived them to have a productive thirty year career in the United States Air force.

5-0 out of 5 stars A very moving book
I really enjoyed reading this book, and I was engrossed in the story. It was very moving to read about how this boy and his family survived and eventually thrived after the war. It really felt like I was traveling with Wolfgang through his childhood. It is also interesting to hear of all of the different attitudes within the family and the community. I think it is very instructive for any country where there are war refugees, and makes me more concerned about the fate of women in Afganistan, Iraq, and other countries. One of the most interesting elements was the part about how money stopped women from having to rely primarily on sex to survive. I hope this can someday be made into a movie so these issues can have more exposure. I highly recommend this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars War Isn't Over When the Fighting Stops
In the final weeks before the fall of Germany in 1945, thousands upon thousands fled in terror to escape persecution from the advancing Russian army.

This compelling memoir is the true personal account of Wolfgang W. E. Samuel, who then only a boy of 10, recounts his own flight from Sagan Germany, along with his mother and younger sister, as they struggle to stay alive as refugees in their war torn country.

In this extraordinary personal and moving account, Wolfgang, even for a boy of 10 is still very innocent and does not really understand all the reasons for what is happening. Yet at other times is keenly aware that danger is imminent, and initially is often angry with his mother for not realizing sooner that they are not safe. When she is finally convinced, it is almost too late. Thus the struggle begins.

From tyranny to internment camp, from the bitter taste of Communism, and finally to freedom, "German Boy" will show you that humans are capable of overcoming incredible odds through sheer determination and sacrifice. The vast numbers of refugees, confronted with their very existence, were recipients of both merciful deeds of kindness, along with despicable acts of exploitation, showing us in clear detail how human nature decays when it's everyone for themselves.

This is a book where the writing is so descriptive that you will be placed inside the story as if you were a witness to all that happens. His admiration for the Americans, especially the pilots, is evident as he recalls kindness in the form of a simple stick of chewing gum, to the enormous efforts of the life saving Berlin air lifts.

Wolfgang Samuel, who so much admired the Americans after the war and eventually joined the US Air Force, has written a wonderful book here. ... Read more

56. Still Alive : A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered (The Helen Rose Scheuer Jewish Women's Series)
by Ruth Kluger
list price: $15.95
our price: $11.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1558614362
Catlog: Book (2003-04-15)
Publisher: The Feminist Press at CUNY
Sales Rank: 67181
Average Customer Review: 4.78 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Now in paperback, this European bestseller won huge -acclaim from U.S. critics, Jonathan Yardley of the Washington Post Book World declared this memoir of a Holocaust girlhood and a life reclaimed "one of the best books of 2001 . . . a book of surpassing, and at times brutal, honesty. . . . Among the many reasons that Still Alive is such an important book is its insistence that the full texture of women's existence in the Holocaust be acknowledged."

Ruth Kluger's story of her years in several concentration camps, and her struggle to establish a life after the war as a refugee survivor in New York, has emerged as one of the most powerful accounts of the Holocaust. Still Alive is a memoir of the pursuit of selfhood against all odds, a fiercely bittersweet coming-of-age story in which the protagonist must learn never to rely on comforting assumptions, but always to seek her own truth.

"A deeply moving and significant work . . . compared by European critics to the work of Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel." -- Publishers Weekly

"A stunning contemplation of human relationships, power and the creation of history. . . . A work of such nuance, intelligence and force that it leaps the bounds of genre." -- Kirkus Reviews

Ruth Kluger is professor emerita of German at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of five books about German literature and the recipient of Austria's National Prize for Literary Criticism. Her widely translated memoir has won eight European Literary awards. Lore Segal's writings include the novels Other People's Houses and Her First American.

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Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Read
The author doesn't simply recount fact and opinion, she has truly analyzed her childhood growing up in Vienna and then through the Holocaust and concentration camp. What a treasure we have in this book to document one girl's life, living through a horrific time in history. It is a bonus that the author is such an outstanding writer. Kluger allows the reader to relate to her life through their own life experiences. She is certainly someone I'd like to know better. Highly recommend.

4-0 out of 5 stars Review of Still Alive
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was written in a way that went through Ruth's life during the Holocaust years. It starts at the very beginning and just talks about her whole experience. I like how Ruth mixed in experiences and comments from the future. This showed how the Holocaust still impacts her life and what she thinks about her surroundings. No one will ever be able to understand what Ruth had to suffer while in the concentration camps. But I feel that by reading her life story it makes it seem more of a reality and brings to life aspects of how the Jews were treated during this time period in American history. All the hardship and discrimination that Ruth had to endure shows the power and willingness she had to live. I liked how she never said it was strength that le ther live rather it was mostly luck. I thought that reading this book made me feel greatful for everything that I have. I would recommend reading this book if you want to realize what life during the Holocaust was like.

4-0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and original Holocaust memoir
I chose Kluger's book for a book club selection and was not disappointed. This arresting memoir documents, unflinchingly, a childhood of brutality and hope. It does so in an unapologetic manner. Kluger does not want sympathy; she merely wants to be able to tell her personal history and a different point of view. Many of her anecdotes are downright controversial, a plus for book club discussions. For example, she challenges the notion that Nazi women were as cruel as their male counterparts, and she questions whether the bond between she and her mother would have survived if forced to choose between their lives. My only reservation is it gets off to a slow start, but Still Alive is brilliant in the end.

5-0 out of 5 stars fresh air
I'm really impressed with Dr. Kluger, and this book has affected me greatly. I first heard Dr. Kluger on NPR (Terry Gross' "Fresh Air," I believe it was), and I was struck by her honesty and unpretentiousness (just like how Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered is). Even though she is a Jewish woman who was a child during WWII and I am a Korean American born a few generations later, we have a lot in common. Dr. Kluger mentioned on the show that she is an atheist who believes in spirits; I was happy to finally find someone who has the same beliefs! That made me want to read this book.

Although I didn't have to go through anything as devastating as the Nazi concentration/labor/death camps, I could almost empathize with what Dr. Kluger was able to survive. Her book does not sentimentalize in the way that Schindler's List or even The Diary of Anne Frank seem to do. Although those two works were very well-done to say the least, I still didn't have a good idea of the individual's Holocaust experience until I read this memoir. I thank Dr. Kluger so much for sharing her life in such a straightforward, candid, and unique way. I really like the way she writes; as she did in her life, her prose seems to defy convention.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book will survive
There have been many, many memoirs about the Holocaust. So why read another one? Because it's one of the best, that's why. This author absolutely refuses to indulge in cliches. With her, you do not get anything that is familiar or comfortable. Nor do you get the dramatic emotion and catharsis that she rightly says belongs to the theater, not the concentration camps.

Because she observes life sharply, and comments on it rationally, in fact is a rational voice in a profoundly irrational world, she forces the reader to view her as a person, and not the generic persecution-victim symbol, a view she detests...

There are many times when her use of language is so striking that it's really worth rereading this, maybe several times. For example, when she discusses the opposing myths that the camps weren't all that bad vs. they were so terrible that the survivors were no longer human (p. 151). Then she says, "...". That really is how it goes and the perceptive reader will find many shocks of recognition here, and admire the person brave enough to drop the approved cliches and be honest. ... Read more

57. Counting My Chickens . . .: And Other Home Thoughts
by Deborah Devonshire, Sophia Topley, Susan Hill
list price: $20.00
our price: $13.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374130299
Catlog: Book (2002-10-15)
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Sales Rank: 82474
Average Customer Review: 3.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A unique window on an extraordinary life lived with tremendous zest, discrimination, and intelligence

The Duchess of Devonshire is the youngest of the Mitford siblings, the famous brood that includes the writers Nancy and Jessica. Like them, she has lived an unusually full and remarkable life, and like them she has an inimitable expressive gift. In Counting My Chickens, she has gathered extracts from her diaries and other writings to create a multifaceted portrait of her life at Chatsworth, the home of the Dukes of Devonshire, that is pithy, hilarious, wise, and always richly rewarding.

Under the Duchess's inspired supervision, Chatsworth has become one of England's most frequently visited great houses, welcoming over 400,000 visitors a year. The Duchess reveals what it takes to keep such an establishment alive and prospering, tells of transporting a goat by train from the Scottish island of Mull to London, discusses having her portrait painted by Lucian Freud, and provides rich reminisces of growing up a Mitford--along with telling anecdotes about friends from Evelyn Waugh to John F. Kennedy. From Tom Stoppard's adoring Introduction to the author's meditation on the beauty of Elvis Presley's voice, COUNTING MY CHICKENS offers continuous surprise and delight.
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Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Delightful
For someone who claims to be the "illiterate" Mitford, this charming little book is a well-crafted lark into the world of a 21st century Duchess. It is very light and entertaining, filled with anecdotes about her and her life. Also featured are stories about her family, but this is not the book to read if you are interested in a tell-all expose of the Mitfords. Most of the book concentrates on the Duchess's family, and home. Chatsworth is one of the finest home in England, and one of the first to become a self-sustaining tourist destination. Anyone who has visited Chatsworth would enjoy reading about the "other side" of that house.

Fans of the Mitford family will be delighted by the stories, most of which don't appear in other Mitford books and biographies. Even if you're not familiar with the Mitford family, this book provides a fascinating picture of the worldview of someone who has lived a long and extremely interesting life. I really hope to see more from Debo.

5-0 out of 5 stars Delightful read
This book is homey and comforting. I loved her piece on being
discovered talking to yourself! There is so much that is so wise,
human and to the point. Maybe the negative reviewers are too young to appreciate the subtle joy of this book. It certainly is one volume that I will reread from time to time and keep for the guest room. Anyone who is old enough to remember civility in daily life, service in shops and neither voice mail nor cell phones impinging on your daily life will really enjoy this COUNTING MY CHICKENS.

5-0 out of 5 stars Misunderstood by Americans?
I enjoyed this book immensely. Addressing some of the negative reviews that have appeared below, I feel that the Duchess of Devonshire would be the first to say that she doesn't expect to be placed in the pantheon of Mitford writers with Nancy and Decca. So much of Nancy's charm is period charm after all, and Decca appeals to readers because she is fearless, outspoken and a rebel.

"Counting My Chickens" is great fun to read, and just because one was personally unacquainted with Harold Macmillan or any of the other people thoughtfully mentioned in footnotes is little reason to judge the book itself as 'insipid' and 'boring', adjectives that could so well describe life in a world dominated by the delights of Macdonalds and Coca Cola, and restricted by the application of just four adjectives - cool, great, nice and neat - to every possible situation.

I, like another reviewer, delighted in the Duchess' use of mitfordesque descriptions of the mundane - 'a septic handbag'.

4-0 out of 5 stars Last chaper was the best
I've given this book only four stars because it wasn't long enough! I would have liked to read more about her childhood from her point of view. Nancy's stories about it were from another vantage since she was 16 when Deborah was born.

I wasn't bored by this book at all. Have been reading about the Mitfords this summer and fall and am interested in their way of life which is so different than mine.

I don't mind the footnotes telling who people are. Some I knew, others I had never heard of. I didn't think the use of footnotes was excessive, but then I read a lot of books that have footnotes so am not concerned about them.

The Duchess has been very successful with managing Chatsworth House and I admire her for that. Her wit and wisdom come through as she writes matter-of-factly about her life. She doesn't sound stuffy at all. I wish I could visit Chatsworth and meet her.

1-0 out of 5 stars insipid
I could not sustain any interest in this book.

It is supposed to be a diary of the Duchess of Devonshire.
What she does is not very interesting, and the constant name dropping with asterisks at the bottom of the page to explain who they are is annoying. ... Read more

58. Growing Up Brady : I Was a Teenage Greg
by Barry Williams, Chris Kreski, Barry Williams/Chris Kreski
list price: $14.00
our price: $14.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0967378508
Catlog: Book (2000-03-01)
Publisher: Good Guy Entertainment
Sales Rank: 63097
Average Customer Review: 4.05 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This is the inside story of The Brady Bunch as only Barry Williams could tell it! In this updated Collector's Edition are updated information and numerous never-before-seen photos of this classic American TV show and its stars.

Think you know everything about Greg, Peter, Bobby, Marcia, Jan, Cindy, Mike, Carol, Alice-- and the people who played them? Think again! From drunken golf-cart races across the Paramount lot to make-out sessions in Tiger's doghouse, Barry tells the real Brady story, previously hidden behind the carefully-groomed facade of TV's favorite family. In 31 anecdote-packed chapters, Barry Williams takes readers from the beginnings of the show through its wildly successful run, and on through all the Brady Bunch reunions, wrapping up with a facscinating chapter on "Whatever Happened to..."

Also included in this pop culture classic is a play-by-play of every Brady Bunch episode, making Growing Up Brady the ultimate Brady Bunch collectible--as well as a delcious slice of Hollywood gossip.

The Bradys remain one of America's most loved and admired TV families. From 1969 through 1974, The Brady Bunch aired every Friday night on ABC. The show reamins one of TV's highest-rated shows, reaching 72 million viewers during its two evening repeats on Nick at Nite. ... Read more

Reviews (38)

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting dive into Brady Bunch Babylon
For those interested in America's favorite family of the early 1970's, here is the book for you. Barry Williams writes a tome that only an insider could dealing with the behind the scenes goings on of the popular TV series, "The Brady Bunch". Written with a humorous, never-too-serious tone, Williams (who played Greg Brady on the show) tells of the fights and misadventures of the Brady cast as well as the friendliness and respect they had for each other. The reader will learn of Tiger's demise as well as the Battle of the Bras and Greg's first toke.

I heartily recommend this book for anyone who enjoyed the series.

5-0 out of 5 stars hysterical tell-all!
Barry Williams has provided a humorous behind-the-scenes look at The Brady Bunch, that syndicated syrupy sitcom that about 3 generations have memorized (Who doesn't know about "Marcia, Marcia, Marica!!!" or the cheer "One, Two! Tell me who are you? The Bears!")

Williams reveals that almost all the actors hooked up with each other in real life (with the exception, he notes, of Alice and Tiger). Williams himself went out on a date with Florence Henderson (his TV mom) and later with Maureen McCormick (his TV sister). And Tiger got run over by a car in real life -- that's why he's not in that many episodes.

Williams has a sardonic voice as he details each episode of the Brady Bunch (wouldn't you, if you are captured forever in reruns as hopping in a potato sack, square-dancing in the living room, or attending a 1920s party where the only guests are your own family members? Even at the age of 6, I thought that was weird.) This is a great book, whether you liked the Bradys or not!

1-0 out of 5 stars One of the worst books ever written
Book has mistake after mistake after mistake in the ep guide. The book was written in the 1990's, correct? The VCR age and the show was as popular as could be thus the eps were all easily available for study. No excuse by Barry williams for this disaster.

Unlike Sherwood Schwartz, Barry Williams offers an honest appraisal of the Brady Bunch. Schwartz's account of the show and the failed sequels tend to blame others (e.g., network brass) for the failures. Among his excuses are bad scheduling and network interference. Maybe dismal scripts also had something to do with it, Sherwood. At least Barry calls a spade a spade. He recognized the quality of the scripts declined over the years and were absolutely dreadful in the sequels (Robert Reed (Papa Brady) would have said the scripts were bad to begin with).

5-0 out of 5 stars Refreshing
Authored by Barry Williams, (aka Greg Brady) this volume differs from fan-books of retro tv shows in that it is neither a hyper-romanticized trip down memory lane, nor bitter attacking screed from an individual wishing the spotlight back on themselves.

In refreshingly honest prose, Williams recalls the thrill of growing up in the early 1970's (including celebrity perks). The balanced perspective on America's most famous sitcom on seccond marriages and mixed families draws in readers who liked the show, but were never tremendous fans. Openly candid, Williams shares hillarious backstage hijinks that attempt to explain why these former child stars have managed to avoid the negative publicity that caught up with so many of their contemporaries.

True, the long-standing animosity between Robert Reed and Sherwood Schwartz is included, but this does not detract from the genuinely caring sentiment that cast members feel towards one another on and off cammera. The exact family composition may have been the work of a hollywood scriptwriter and casting director, but hollywood personnel could not have required these people to develop the strong personal bonds with eachother that only strengthened over time.

In keeping with the desire for a book transcending the typical low expectations for former Child Star memoirs, a suprisingly small lack of space is devoted to an apparent fling with co-stars Maureen McCormick and Florence Henderson. Certainly mentioned, both incidents are not excessively doted on by the author.

The overall focus of the text seems to be on how a shared sense of cooperation and commuinity among the cast helped a tv show about step-families become a favirote in the American pop psyche at a time when "stepfamily" still conotated various fairy-tale horror stories. ... Read more

59. Bad Blood: A Memoir
by Lorna Sage
list price: $24.95
our price: $17.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0066214432
Catlog: Book (2002-03-01)
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Sales Rank: 246887
Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars
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Nobody's unhappy family was ever quite like that of Lorna Sage, whoseruthlessly funny, excruciating, inspiring memoir Bad Blood won England'sWhitbread Biography Award. She grew up in the '40s on the Welsh border, in thecrossfire between her grandparents, a bitter, bibulous, bookish vicar resemblingJack Sprat and his short, "fat doll" of an ignorant wife. He preached earthysermons about how one might prefer for a wife "Martha before dinner, Mary afterdinner." His wife's "notion of marriage [was] that a man signed you up to havehis wicked way with you and should spend the rest of his life paying throughthe nose." Grandma blackmailed the vicar with his diary of adultery, inwhich she scribbled vicious comments invaluable to the family historian. Shegobbled sweets; he drank, fumed, and helped make Lorna Sage a noted literarycritic. There is much more: the vicar's affair with his daughter's school chum,the cosmic impact of Bill Haley and his Comets, Lorna's precocious pregnancy,and the strange way lives ricochet and echo each other. Sage manages to give herrural upbringing a brooding Gothic poignance and the comic force of ColdComfort Farm. She describes a moment after her grandfather's death in thevicarage, "where everything seemed to be wearing thin and getting see-through,as though a spell were dissolving." But the shades of her clan won't quite fade,and thanks to this book, they're here to stay. --Tim Appelo ... Read more

Reviews (10)

4-0 out of 5 stars really interesting for 2/3 of book, but dried out at the end
Lorna Sage has a great writing style as she tells of her childhood in Scotland, when she is raised by her querelous, vindictive and viceful grandparents (ironically, her womanizing grandfather is the little town's vicar.) This is where she gets her "bad blood". Lorna's parents also figure in (she writes extensively of each generation in this family) and they have problems galore as well. No one, writes Lorna, wants to be a parent in this extended family, teetering at the edge of poverty.

The grandparents and parents are actually very lively interesting people (I don't want to say "characters" because this is a memoir, not fiction, and that is their real lives on these pages.) They are only human -- almost immorally and basely so, as they give in to all of their temptations and quarrel about others expecting them NOT to do so. It makes for colorful reading.

Lorna herself is the most boring and trite, despite being the author. (However, when Lorna herself is a pregnant teenager with a shotgun marriage, her mom raises her daughter for her while she and her husband go to university. But apparently that is OK and not being a "perpetual daughter".) Furthermore, she has the nerve to write that she and her husband are the foretelling of the future as they, in the 1950s, were pregnant before getting married but went to university and graduated with honors anyway. The fact that they had not really had intercourse to get her pregnant, so she was pregnant without understanding how and why, hardly makes them rebellious daredevils -- just ignorant and ridiculous. Harsh but true.

4-0 out of 5 stars Post War England
I grew up in the same 1950's in England and apart from her randy grandad shared many of the same experiences, feelings and general discomfort with the miserable, narrow social conditions in England. Put another way a perfect breeding ground for the english character of inhibitions, repression of feelings, violence and fear of economic success riddled with Edwardian class distinctions of no value/relevance in the 50's. Jealousy of the American post war success and hide bound by genteel poverty everywhere it was not surprising that England's social scene exploded in the 60's and 70's. I left England for the US many years ago to escape the trapped kingdom of the mind and the pathetic lack of real freedoms, nostalgia is the UK's greatest industry and the more books like this that appear will help people understand that england's "ennui" is not that attractive after all !

5-0 out of 5 stars Yowtch! This is a hilarious, wicked, killer of a memoir
Holy moly! You wanna talk about a dysfunctional family? Here it is. It's during the years of WWII. The author's father is off fighting for God and country, and her mother is having a delayed adolescence, so author Lorna Sage is shipped to her grandparents house somewhere in rural England. Her grandparents are weird, weird, weird, but it is their very faults that ultimately make Sage, a well-known and powerful literary critic, into the person she becomes.
Her grandfather is a debauched, intellectual, furious and infuriating vicar whose idiosyncrasies were seemingly limitless. Her grandmother's rage at her lot in life and the man who was responsible for it (and by extension, ALL men) never once abates - and you almost champion her for her constancy.
Bad Blood reads as wicked fun with a strongly feminist underlying message. I loved it.

2-0 out of 5 stars Readable - but not a must have
The story of an unexceptional childhood - mild neglect, some poverty and a very filthy home - neither sordid nor tragic nor eventful enough to be compelling reading. Especially for a person raised in India the dysfunctionality level of childhood/family seems average. The only redeeming feature is Lorna Sage's writing style. Witty and insightful. Normally this should raise a book to atleast 3 and a half stars but somehow this one does not quite make it past "interesting enough to read when there's nothing better to do". To use review cliches since they work so well in describing a book, it is readable but far short of unputdownable.

3-0 out of 5 stars wow
tough childhood, I wish Lorna Sage would write another memoir telling us how she's doing right now.
I liked the book. ... Read more

60. Josephine : A Life of the Empress
by Carolly Erickson
list price: $17.95
our price: $12.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312263465
Catlog: Book (2000-08-17)
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Sales Rank: 263660
Average Customer Review: 3.79 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In 1804, when Josephine Bonaparte knelt before her husband, Napoleon, to receive the imperial diadem, few in the vast crowd of onlookers were aware of the dark secrets hidden behind the imperial façade. To her subjects, she appeared to vet hew most favored woman in France: alluring, wealthy, and with the devoted love of a remarkable husband who was the conqueror of Europe. In actuality, Josephine's life was far darker, for her celebrated allure was fading, her wealth was compromised by massive debt, and her marriage was corroded by infidelity and abuse.

Josephine's life story was as turbulent as the age—an era of revolution and social upheaval, of the guillotine, and of frenzied hedonism. With telling psychological depth and compelling literary grace, Carolly Erickson brings the complex, charming, ever-resilient Josephine to life in this memorable portrait, one that carries the reader along every twist and turn of the empress's often thorny path, from the sensual richness of her childhood in the tropics to her final lonely days at Malmaison.
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Reviews (14)

4-0 out of 5 stars An Unlikely Empress
This was my first read of Carolly Erickson, and I was enthralled by her writing style. Yes, the book reads like a novel, but I don't find this detrimental. One of the biggest problems with historical biographies are they are often heavy and dull, and I don't think this should be the case when describing extraordinary times and events. I felt like I was transplanted "into the period;" and while Josephine had her share of vices, I found her accessible and human. A lot of times with biographies, I end up hating the subject, because the author relishes revealing the subject's tarnished persona in such an unflattering light. Ms. Erickson's Josephine I liked, despite her evident flaws.

My only complaint would be overindulgence in trivial detail, e.g., her "rotten teeth" and "fading beauty." No one really likes aging, do they?

4-0 out of 5 stars Diary of a Rose
By and large I prefer an unvarnished, streight forward history to an interpretive one, and Erickson's "Josephine, A Life of the Empress," is a little history with a lot of personal interpolation. I did however enjoy the book; it makes an interesting read, and pulls the reader along with the dash of a romance novel. Rose Tasher, the daughter of a failing suger plantation owner in Martinique, is pulled along by the forceful currents of her times, like a cork bobbing along in a stream. Her gift for self promotion and a flare for diplomacy carried her from a futureless life on the tropical island of her birth to a pampered if not terribly happy life as the Vicountess de Beauharnais, to that of independent courtisan, to wife of France's premire general Napoleon Boneparte, to Empress of France, and finally to honored icon of French nobility under the new Bourbon monarchy. She survived alive through the nightmarish years of the French Revolution, even escaping a death sentence after a long confinment in hellish circumstances during Robespierre's reign of terror. She did this through political connections she had cultivated earlier in her life. While her then estranged husband, Alexander, the Marquess de Beauharnais, who had been an active supporter of the revolution lost his head, essentially for his pedigree. From here on her talents for survival are tested to the limit by the shifting tides of political history. No matter what her position at any given time, Rose is able to make it safely to the winning side by virtue of having made influential friends willing to interceed for her during the turmoil and violence of each change in regime. Despite her relationship with Napoleon--at which time she assumes her new persona as Josephine--and her tenure as Empress, after his fall she is fortunate enough to be cultivated by the new monarchy as an icon of French nobility surviving the revolution. What is truely amazing, over and above her own survival of these times which spared no person and during which hardly a family in France had not lost several if not most members to the violence of each succeeding political change, is that she managed to keep her son and daughter alive and to promote their fortunes through her efforts. When one views the lady from the perspective of her times, one can hardly deny, even when one deducts for the creative license of the author, that Josephine Rose Tascher de Beauharnaise Boneparte was an amazing person.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Rose by Another Name
Reading biographies in general can be a tricky thing, they can be either too textbook and boring, or they can be very enjoyable. I must say that the latter is true for this book.

Carolly Erickson draws the reader into the life and very turbulent times of the French Revolution. It is amazing that Josephine became the Empress of France.

Josephine Bonaparte was a true surviver for her time, even growing up on a failing sugar cane farm on Martinique and later in France as a prisoner. Unlike many biographies that I have read, this one reads easy. What I mean there is a fluid way in which Erickson writes, drawing in the reader like any good fiction novelist. I quickly read this book, devouring every page.

4-0 out of 5 stars Awesome book, would highly recommend
I really enjoyed this book. I have read the author's other novels, and they were equally enjoyable. She is specific, and does not base her research on any other premise but the truth. She does not push any one argument, but is successful at covering a wide range of issues, while bringing Josephine to life. It was scary at times how Erickson made the reader question whether or not Josephine was in the room. Great write, and great book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Eh
Double edged sword: Don't get me wrong, this was an excellent book for facts! I was impressed by the sheer volume of knowledge at Erickson's hand. However, I had picked up this book to expand on my knowledge of the Good Josephine after reading Sandra Gulland's Josephine (Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe, etc) series, and found that Erickson's well-rounded descriptions of Josephine differed from the romantic depiction Gulland offered. Either read Gulland's Josephine trilogy, OR this biography by Erickson, but don't read both. Individually, they are excellent, but they do not complement each other well. ... Read more

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