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1. American Sphinx: The Character
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2. Alexander Hamilton
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3. My Life So Far
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4. Assassination Vacation
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5. My Life
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6. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of
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7. Theodore Roosevelt: The 26th President
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8. Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
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9. A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration
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10. Angela's Ashes (AUDIO CASSETTE)
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11. Arcanum : The Extraordinary True
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12. My Losing Season : The Point Guard's
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13. I'm the One That I Want
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14. Ten Things I Wish I'd Known- :
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15. Still Me
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16. Wasted : A Memoir of Anorexia
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17. America's Queen: The Life of Jacqueline
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18. The Man Who Listens to Horses
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19. Benjamin Franklin : An American
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20. A Great Improvisation : Franklin,

1. American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson
by Joseph J. Ellis, Susan O'Malley
list price: $76.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786114754
Catlog: Book (1999-11-01)
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Sales Rank: 134797
Average Customer Review: 3.92 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

For a man who insisted that life on the public stage was not what he had in mind, Thomas Jefferson certainly spent a great deal of time in the spotlight--and not only during his active political career. After 1809, his longed-for retirement was compromised by a steady stream of guests and tourists who made of his estate at Monticello a virtual hotel, as well as by more than one thousand letters per year, most from strangers, which he insisted on answering personally. In his twilight years Jefferson was already taking on the luster of a national icon, which was polished off by his auspicious death (on July 4, 1896); and in the subsequent seventeen decades of his celebrity--now verging, thanks to virulent revisionists and television documentaries, on notoriety--has been inflated beyond recognition of the original person.

For the historian Joseph J. Ellis, the experience of writing about Jefferson was "as if a pathologist, just about to begin an autopsy, has discovered that the body on the operating table was still breathing." In American Sphinx, Ellis sifts the facts shrewdly from the legends and the rumors, treading a path between vilification and hero worship in order to formulate a plausible portrait of the man who still today "hover[s] over the political scene like one of those dirigibles cruising above a crowded football stadium, flashing words of inspiration to both teams." For, at the grass roots, Jefferson is no longer liberal or conservative, agrarian or industrialist, pro- or anti-slavery, privileged or populist. He is all things to all people. His own obliviousness to incompatible convictions within himself (which left him deaf to most forms of irony) has leaked out into the world at large--a world determined to idolize him despite his foibles.

From Ellis we learn that Jefferson sang incessantly under his breath; that he delivered only two public speeches in eight years as president, while spending ten hours a day at his writing desk; that sometimes his political sensibilities collided with his domestic agenda, as when he ordered an expensive piano from London during a boycott (and pledged to "keep it in storage"). We see him relishing such projects as the nailery at Monticello that allowed him to interact with his slaves more palatably, as pseudo-employer to pseudo-employees. We grow convinced that he preferred to meet his lovers in the rarefied region of his mind rather than in the actual bedchamber. We watch him exhibiting both great depth and great shallowness, combining massive learning with extraordinary naïveté, piercing insights with self-deception on the grandest scale. We understand why we should neither beatify him nor consign him to the rubbish heap of history, though we are by no means required to stop loving him. He is Thomas Jefferson, after all--our very own sphinx.
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Reviews (88)

4-0 out of 5 stars Must Read for TJ and US Revolution History Fans
Joseph Ellis projects an interesting analysis of the illusive Thomas Jefferson in "American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson." Brilliant but contradictory, most historians glorified the author of the Declaration of Independence for nearly 200 years. Recently, with the emergence of John Adams as an equally accepted visionary Founder, the strange and conflicting sides of Jefferson have been given equal attention to those that reflect the genius from Monticello, Virginia.

More than any other American historical figure, Jefferson was incredibly aware of his future role in history, and thereby his legacy. Much of the documented historical record, both that written by him and that written to him, reflect the facts that he chose what future generations would see. Ellis breaks down five periods of Jefferson's life: (1) the period around the writing of the Declaration, (2) the years in Paris as American envoy, (3) the years in semi-seclusion during the second Washington administration, (4) his first Presidential term, (5) and his years in retirement the decade prior to his death. The main premises of Ellis' work are that Jefferson was elusive in description, contradictory in philosophy, and often devious in action.

After reading Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis (see my review dated 7/23/01) I had enormous expectations for his previously penned biography of Thomas Jefferson. It is a good scholarly account, but falls short of the enormously readable "Founding Brothers" work that won the Pulitzer Prize. Ellis teases you by revealing the many two-faced aspects of Jefferson's character, but shies away from drawing the conclusions that Jefferson's personality was bizarre. The third President was generally a person who could make himself believe anything he wanted, that his position and beliefs were always righteous, as long as it helped him get or preserve what he wanted.

Ellis does reveal the many aspects that prove Jefferson such a contradiction. Those include his inability to speak in public compared to the tremendous talent as a writer and analyst. The fact that he betrayed one of his most loyal and devoted friends for decades (John Adams), to secure the goals of the Virginians in the roots of the Founding, also speak loudly to his complex nature. What most people do not realize was that though he was extremely reticent that our country not become encumbered to a national financial consolidation, he was among the most atrocious of debtors and virtually ruined his family through decades of irresponsible personal spending. Finally, everyone now knows his amazingly illogical position regarding slavery, and the facts proven by modern DNA mapping techniques that demonstrate that he fathered children by his slave Sally Hemings.

I rate this book most accurately at 4.00 out of 5.00 stars. It is a must read for devotees of the Revolutionary period, and for those interested in Jefferson or John Adams. Ellis could have rated higher by really getting in depth in the many complex facets of Jefferson's personality, ability the author demonstrates better in other works. The book is worth reading and valuable for reference work.

3-0 out of 5 stars Dry, but overall interesting
This book took me about four months to read. I kept picking other books up and forgetting about this one. So it is not addictively readable, to say the least. In fact, it was difficult for me to read more than 15 pages at a time. I would find my attention wandering or my mind falling asleep.

Dryness and drab writing aside, the book in the end was interesting. It is not a conventional biography. Unlike historians such as David McCulloch, Joseph Ellis digs deep into the story and into the character of Thomas Jefferson. It does not follow Jefferson from birth to death, chronicling life events. Instead, Ellis picks seminal points of Jefferson's life: his move to Paris, the Constitutional Convention, his stint as President, and his retirement to Monticello, and then examines Jefferson's attitudes, actions, and writings from these time periods to create a picture of the man. It answers the question "Who was Thomas Jefferson?" more thoroughly than any biography I have ever read.

Ellis's Jefferson is not hugely likeable, but is very human. Ellis certainly succeeds in knocking Jefferson fro his hallowed pedastal, but only in making him human and fully fleshed, which in the end only can do Jefferson justice.

After finishing this book (finally), I feel I have a pretty clear picture of Jefferson and his legacy, which makes me feel this read was very worthwhile.

5-0 out of 5 stars a better understanding
I imagine that in order to spend months and years researching and writing about an historical figure you must admire that person immensely, otherwise it would be terribly difficult to retain any interest. In most biographies, this usually translates into a deification of the subject. Not so in Joseph J. Ellis' AMERICAN SPHINX: THE CHARACTER OF THOMAS JEFFERSON.

I'll confess that Jefferson has not always been one of my favorite founding fathers. I have always thought of him as duplicitous, racist, anachronistic in his thinking, vain, and cowardly in a way. As a New Yorker, I've always been irked by his bad-mouthing of the city, and by his insistence that the capitol of the new nation be moved from here to Washington, D.C. [Good riddance, by the way. We did just fine without being the capitol city, thank you very much ;-) ] And as I am a devout admirer of Alexander Hamilton... need I say more?

After reading Ellis' other great book, FOUNDING BROTHERS, I began to get a more rounded look at Jefferson, one that shed a little more light on the human forces that may have been working on him. Then I read McCullough's brilliant biography of Jefferson's close friend (at times), John Adams. This led me to read this biography, and I am glad I did. I finally was given a better understanding of the sage of Monticello. Ellis does an admirable job of conveying an honest and balanced view of the chief author of the Declaration of Independence, without resorting to hero-worship, as do most biographers. At times, the writing was very moving, especially as Jefferson's loved ones began dying around him. I'm still not crazy about the guy, but I have a better appreciation of him.

Ellis' writing is brisk, loaded with telling anecdotes, and never attempts to impress the reader with the research he has done. Other biographers would do well to follow Joseph Ellis' example. And lovers of American History would do well to read this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Thomas Jefferson Survives
If you've read about the Founding Fathers, you can't help but notice that Thomas Jefferson has an eerie elusive quality that the others just don't seem to possess. You can figure out Ben Franklin, George Washington, James Madison, etc.. Jefferson, however, seems to be someone who you can't quite pin down or so easily lay claim to by today's standards. As was once said of William James, "He's just like a blob of mercury, you cannot put a mental finger upon him." It probably has something to do with, as Ellis states in the book, the fact that he was far more inclined to rhetoric and theory than he was to the tedious gears of hand-on politics.

I was expecting this book to cross the line in relation to dragging Jefferson into the present and beating him up a bit, but it kept within reasonable boundaries without either unrealistic hero worship or a foolish attempt at character assasination. Very readable and informative.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sterling Silver
"American Sphinx" by Joseph P. Ellis is sterling silver. It dissects the character of Thomas Jefferson in a wonderfully readable presentation of America's third President. No wonder this book was a prize winning work on history when it first came out. I recommend your making sure you don't miss this one.

I also recommend you go on to read Norman Thomas Remick's "West Point: Thomas Jefferson: Character Leadership Education" for something different both about, and from, Thomas Jefferson. ... Read more

2. Alexander Hamilton
by Ron Chernow, Scott Brick
list price: $59.95
our price: $47.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142800449
Catlog: Book (2004-04-01)
Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks
Sales Rank: 24893
Average Customer Review: 4.65 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

From National Book Award winner Ron Chernow, a landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation.

Ron Chernow, whom the New York Times called "as elegant an architect of monumental histories as we've seen in decades," now brings to startling life the man who was arguably the most important figure in American history, who never attained the presidency, but who had a far more lasting impact than many who did.

An illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, Hamilton rose with stunning speed to become George Washington's aide-de-camp, a member of the Constitutional Convention, coauthor of The Federalist Papers, leader of the Federalist party, and the country's first Treasury secretary. With masterful storytelling skills, Chernow presents the whole sweep of Hamilton's turbulent life: his exotic, brutal upbringing; his brilliant military, legal, and financial exploits; his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, and Monroe; his illicit romances; and his famous death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July 1804.

For the first time, Chernow captures the personal life of this handsome, witty, and perennially controversial genius and explores his poignant relations with his wife Eliza, their eight children, and numberless friends. This engrossing narrative will dispel forever the stereotype of the Founding Fathers as wooden figures and show that, for all their greatness, they were fiery, passionate, often flawed human beings.

Alexander Hamilton was one of the seminal figures in our history. His richly dramatic saga, rendered in Chernow's vivid prose, is nothing less than a riveting account of America's founding, from the Revolutionary War to the rise of the first federal government.
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Reviews (51)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of American History's Shining Stars
There have NOT been enough biographies of Alexander Hamilton, and Ron Chernow has restored this often maligned founding father into his deserved spotlight. The marvelous opening passage describes the longings of Hamilton's widow, Elizabeth, for her husband who had died nearly 50 years previously. This romantic image sets the tone for this brilliant book, as it explores the heart as well as the mind of Alexander Hamilton.

For those who do not know, Hamilton was not merely a capitalist and economist who happened to die in a duel with Aaron Burr. True, he was the founder of The Bank of New York and was America's first Secretary of the Treasury. But Hamilton was also a tireless abolitionist, a brilliant lawyer and writer, General Washington's right-hand-man, a war hero, founder of the New York Post, and a swash-buckling romantic. Taken on their own, these achievements are amazing enough, but given the enormous obstacles and tragedies he had to overcome during his youth, it's just mindboggling. To take it a step further, he accomplished all this in just 49 years, which was his age at the time of his death.

A life as full, as dramatic, as IMPORTANT as Alexander Hamilton's deserves volumes. Ron Chernow's extensive biography is a long book but, even so, the amazing life he is describing requires such length. And, to Chernow's credit, the book achieves just the right balance of admiration and criticism, romanticism and realism, speculation and fact. Hamilton's life swung between often contradictory ideas and emotions, and Chernow presents them all to us, rather than sticking with one overriding image. ALEXANDER HAMILTON by Ron Chernow is perhaps the most important book written about the nascent years of our country since Ellis' FOUNDING BROTHERS, which would make an excellent companion to this book. I would also strongly recommend McCullough's JOHN ADAMS, as well.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Most Important American Figure Never to Become President
During the 1980s, during the period when Bank of New York launched its hostile take-over of Irving Bank, the following anecdote circulated.

As Alexander Hamilton was getting into the boat to be rowed across the Hudson River to Weehawken where he was scheduled to duel Aaron Burr, he turned to his aide and said, "Don't do anything until I return."

The story concluded, unfortunately, the aide and all of his successors took Hamilton at his word.

The anecdote, though funny at the time of the take-over, could not have a weaker historical foundation. Ron Chernow's biography relates the details of an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan who rose to become George Washington's key aide-de-camp, battlefield hero, Constitutional Convention delegate, co-author of The Federalist Papers, Federalist Party head and the country's first Treasury Secretary.

Hamilton was a rare revolutionary: fearless warrior, master administrator and blazing administrator. No other moment in American history could have better employed Hamilton's abundant talents and energy.

As Treasury Secretary, the country benefited from his abilities as a thinker, doer, skilled executive and political theorist. He was a system builder who devised and implemented interrelated policies.

As in the Revolution, Hamilton and Washington complemented each other. Washington wanted to remain above the partisan fray. He was gifted with superb judgment. When presented with options, he almost always made the correct choice. His detached style left room for assertiveness. Especially in financial matters, Hamilton stepped into the breach.
Washington was sensitive to criticism, yet learned to control his emotions. Hamilton, on the other hand, was often acted without tact and was naturally provocative.

Perhaps the main reason Hamilton accomplished so much was Washington agreed with his vision of 13 colonies welded into a single, respected nation. Chernow presents a well-written and nuanced portrait that arguably is the most important figure in American history that never attained the presidency. Though his foreign birth denied him the ultimate prize, his accomplishments produced a far more lasting impact than many who claimed it.

5-0 out of 5 stars True Founding Interests
The best all around depiction of a pivotal charecter in the founding of our country. With all of Mr Hamiltons accomplishments and pitfalls of character. Hamilton created almost single-handedly the modern capitalist society in addition to making huge implications into the manner which our government took shape that so many Americans take for granted. I would encourage anyone interested in the formation of the American experiment and a capitalist society read this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Phenomenal Life
After Ronald Reagan died, I recall a TV commentator saying that there was a movement to replace Hamilton with Reagan on the $10 bill. Paraphrasing, "Hamilton was an easy target because he lacks a 'constituency'". Chernow's outstanding biography not only demonstrates why Hamilton is on the bill, but that his constituency should be all Americans. Of the "Founding Fathers", it is Hamilton who, if he could come back today, would be generally pleased at the United States he would find; his vision of capitalism, free markets and a central government has come to fruition.

The book details his youth growing up in the West Indies of questionable legitimacy, emigrating to the "Colonies", receiving an education, serving on Washington's staff in the Revolutionary War, his authorship of the Federalist Papers, his role in the Constitutional Convention, first Secretary of the Treasury, prolific writer, lawyer. His was a truly a phenomenal life. Chernow remarks that "No immigrant did more for the United States than Hamilton." After completing this book you can't help but "second" that statement.

The book paints vivid portraits of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Adams and Burr as well as the political climate. The role of his family and particularly his wife are well chronicled along with his faults. This book adds to the number of outstanding biographies that are being written about this period of our history. Back to Reagan, who quoted Hamilton on numerous occasions, I think if he had a say in who should be on the Ten, he like me would vote for Hamilton.

5-0 out of 5 stars Stunning
This is the best biography I have read in years. After the wonderful biographies out recently about Franklin and Adams, it was a thrill to learn about Alexander Hamilton, who has been so maligned and sidestepped by history. Buy this book. It is beautifully written, will hold your interest, and you will come away--as I did--with a new take on the founding of this country. ... Read more

3. My Life So Far
list price: $34.95
our price: $23.07
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0739319833
Catlog: Book (2005-04-05)
Publisher: RH Audio Voices
Sales Rank: 158281
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One of the most recognizable women of our time, America knows Jane Fonda as actress, activist, feminist, wife, and workout guru. In her extraordinary memoir, Fonda divides her life into three acts: her childhood, early films, and first marriage make up act one; her growing career in film, marriage to Ted Turner, and involvement in the Vietnam War belong to act two; and the third act belongs to the future, in which she hopes to "begin living consciously," and inspire others who can learn from her experiences. Fonda reveals intimate details and universal truths that she hopes "can provide a lens through which others can see their lives and how they can live them a little differently."

Exclusive Letter from Jane Fonda

Stay in Shape: The Jane Fonda Collection
New Workouts

The Complete Personal Trainer Series

The Complete Workout and Stress Reduction Program

Fun House Fitness: Fitness for the Whole Family

Jane Fonda: The Essential DVDs


On Golden Pond

Nine to Five

Coming Home


See more Fonda DVDs ... Read more

4. Assassination Vacation
list price: $26.00
our price: $17.16
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Asin: 0743540042
Catlog: Book (2005-04-01)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Sales Rank: 809956
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5. My Life
list price: $35.00
our price: $23.80
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Asin: 0739317059
Catlog: Book (2004-06)
Publisher: Random House Audio
Sales Rank: 2784
Average Customer Review: 3.19 out of 5 stars
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An exhaustive, soul-searching memoir, Bill Clinton's My Life is a refreshingly candid look at the former president as a son, brother, teacher, father, husband, and public figure. Clinton painstakingly outlines the history behind his greatest successes and failures, including his dedication to educational and economic reform, his war against a "vast right-wing operation" determined to destroy him, and the "morally indefensible" acts for which he was nearly impeached. My Life is autobiography as therapy--a personal history written by a man trying to face and banish his private demons.

Clinton approaches the story of his youth with gusto, sharing tales of giant watermelons, nine-pound tumors, a charging ram, famous mobsters and jazz musicians, and a BB gun standoff. He offers an equally energetic portrait of American history, pop culture, and the evolving political landscape, covering the historical events that shaped his early years (namely the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and JFK) and the events that shaped his presidency (Waco, Bosnia, Somalia). What makes My Life remarkable as a political memoir is how thoroughly it is infused with Clinton's unassuming, charmingly pithy voice:

I learned a lot from the stories my uncle, aunts, and grandparents told me: that no one is perfect but most people are good; that people can't be judged only by their worst or weakest moments; that harsh judgments can make hypocrites of us all; that a lot of life is just showing up and hanging on; that laughter is often the best, and sometimes the only, response to pain.

However, that same voice might tire readers as Clinton applies his penchant for minute details to a distractible laundry list of events, from his youth through the years of his presidency. Not wanting to forget a single detail that might help account for his actions, Clinton overdoes it--do we really need to know the name of his childhood barber? But when Clinton sticks to the meat of his story--recollections about Mother, his abusive stepfather, Hillary, the campaign trail, and Kenneth Starr--the veracity of emotion and Kitchen Confidential-type revelations about "what it is like to be President" make My Life impossible to put down.

To Clinton, "politics is a contact sport," and while he claims that My Life is not intended to make excuses or assign blame, it does portray him as a fighter whose strategy is to "take the first hit, then counterpunch as hard as I could." While My Life is primarily a stroll through Clinton's memories, it is also a scathing rebuke--a retaliation against his detractors, including Kenneth Starr, whose "mindless search for scandal" protected the guilty while "persecuting the innocent" and distracted his Administration from pressing international matters (including strikes on al Qaeda). Counterpunch indeed.

At its core, My Life is a charming and intriguing if flawed book by an equally intriguing and flawed man who had his worst failures and humiliations made public. Ultimately, the man who left office in the shadow of scandal offers an honest and open account of his life, allowing readers to witness his struggle to "drain the most out of every moment" while maintaining the character with which he was raised. It is a remarkably intimate, persuasive look at the boy he was, the President he became, and man he is today. --Daphne Durham ... Read more

Reviews (463)

2-0 out of 5 stars Arrived with a Thud, turned into a Dud.
If you remember the 1988 convention speech where Clinton was nearly booed off the stage for taking too long or the state-of-the-union where he droned for over 90 minutes, you may recall the feeling you'll get somewhere around page 250 of this tome ... "when will it end?"

This particular work of mostly self-aggrandizing fiction suffers from being so self-absorbed and so badly edited it totally detracts from the nuggets of humanity and historical interest in the text. It's the "Heaven's Gate" of Presidential memoirs. That Liberals are dutifully reading this and watching the exposed liar Michael Moore (...) this summer says much about their fanatic religious devotion to their faith. Faith requires suffering!

The memoir still whitewashes much wrt Clinton's 'scandalabra', even while admitting to the bare minimum to keep it credible to the faithful. So we get Monica semi- mea culpa, but what about Genifer Flowers (she claimed a 13 year affair), or his pardon of Marc Rich? Or for that matter *important stuff* like how the Chinese managed to funnel illegal funds to his campaign in 96? Maybe its too much to expect an exhumation of his skeleton closet, but he manages to say so much yet reveal so little in so many pages. And he's entitled to his own opinions about other folks, but his view on Starr and the constitutional issues and process involved in the impeachment show he is trying to re-write history and doesnt understand Starr's appropriate role and actions. He doesnt get it - it was about lying under oath.

Dont read this. Read the Marinass bio and read Rich Lowry's "Legacy" and somewhere in the middle of their accounts is what really happened.

Lastly, read U.S. Grant's memoirs, the best Presidential memiors, writeen before Presidential memoirs were excercises in self-justification. They have all the economy and sparseness in style, bright narrative, and objective viewpoint that Clinton's memoirs lack. And he recount events far more important, like how the Civil War was won by the Union side, than details of Clinton's campaign events.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Easy, Pleasant Read
I approached the book as though it was written -- not by a former Democratic President -- but a man with amazing life experiences. The insight the author provided on the workings of the executive branch of our government, along with international events were just icing on the cake for me.

The writing is very easy to read; the story flows smoothly. All in all, I enjoy the voice that is projected from the author's composition.

I found it interesting that on page 811, when Clinton was introspective about his affair with Monica, his revelation is that he is vulnerable to making selfish and self-destructive personal mistakes when he is exhausted, angry, or feeling isolated. This mirrors the 12-step recovery motto of HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired), which recognize our vulnerabilities to succumb to our addictions.

I must say that Clinton's description of sleeping on a couch for two months following his admission to Hillary regarding Ms. Lewinsky was hard to believe. Perhaps he was placing himself in the doghouse, making use of the couch adjacent to their bedroom, but still -- there were so many other bedrooms in the White House. Aside from that, I'm glad Clinton disclosed that he and Hillary participated in weekly couples counseling for a year.

My favorite parts of the book cover Clinton's reflections on family, friends, and associates who passed away. This is where he shared personal thoughts on the affect these people had on him, and how he mourned their deaths.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Look At The Most Controversial President
A Fascinating Look At The Most Controversial President

This book will intrigue anyone who cares about America. You get an insider's view from the divisive man himslef. You'll also learn the struggles all presidents must face, and the role the media played in helping and hurting Clinton.

5-0 out of 5 stars Heartfelt Willie!!
In 2001, William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton exited the White House after becoming the first two-term Democratic president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Instead of praise for surmounting numerous and incredible life obstacles, his rags-to-riches personal life story actually had the right wing seriously enraged enough to attempt a sham impeachment and conviction on anything (and EVERYTHING) they thought up. The reception discrepancy between his personal history and presidential administration is painstakingly explored in the personal autobiography---with no detail spared. I am not fortunate enough to live near a city where Clinton undertook book promotion tours, but this title's price vs. length and quality is well worth those televised all-night camp outs.

Eschewing a ghost-writer, Clinton personally poured his heart and mind about personal and potentially difficult subjects which former presidents (of all ideologies) shielded themselves from. Choosing the less-utilized "open disclosure" route is a refreshing contribution to American public policymaking. It is also one which more public officials should follow.

Rather than seeing diversity as an election strategy, Clinton genuinely appreciates social justice movements which attempt to make the world radically different from his Arkansas boyhood. In the television era's early days, then-Governor Orval Fabus tried to maintain segregation 'standing in front of the schoolhouse door' to Little Rock's Central High School (pp. 38-39) Undoubtedly this incident's horror (and fears that all southerners were presumed to agree with Faubus) helped solidify determination to pursue a radically contrasting racial public policy legacy (pp. 559-560). In turn, Clinton's early decision explains why I and many other people love him today.

Repeatedly, Clinton draws upon his witness to the 1957 Little Rock action as one motivator for public service (the other of course is meeting President Kennedy at a D.C. Boys Town Summit). Because I am also growing up in a conservative southern town, I am comforted things do change; a young Republican who openly cheered during the announcement of President Kennedy's assassination later became a Democrat, social worker, and one of Clinton's biggest political supporters (p. 65). The bigger person recognizes when it is time to mend the oft-mentioned political fences. During his Arkansas Governorship Clinton demonstrated the nation only maximum potential when all demographics are empowered to participate in the American dream.

I also enjoyed reading personal family anecdotes---including those which are probably still painful to share with audiences. In fifth grade, he learned that people who rented out motels for long periods of time did abortions (p. 29) because the procedure was illegal in the state. He also describes the incidents where stepfather Roger beat the family---until young Bill grew big enough to fight back (pp. 45-51). The vivid descriptions provide both literary action and a solemn reminder the world is better because abortion is legalized, and domestic violence is no longer a 'family affair'. As a child of divorce, I am also reassured that an American President went through several of the same experiences me and many of my friends experienced. When he talks about families, Clinton is personally aware there are many different types of families and the rightwing has never spoken for everybody (pp. 633-636)

As the first president to be in the delivery room during his child's birth (p. 273), Clinton brought unprecedented sensitivity to the Oval Office. Because the lives of American voters are more egalitarian, this empathy is a definite asset in the post-cold war era From his own personal experiences, Clinton easily understands that good and strong families come in all compositions (pp. 426-427). I was also intrigued to learn that Clinton did not personally/politically have a problem with Hillary's last name (p. 296). Finally, "women's issues" like the Equal Rights Amendment (p. 257) stand on their own merit as something which is genuinely important to HIM.

Certainly people have to take self-initiative for their private life, but Clinton's centrist Democratic theory (dating from Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign) says that government is still obligated to ensure the people trying to help themselves and their communities can actually do so (p. 122). This approach explains why he signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 ---overhauling the depression-era welfare system, while also rejecting the complete dismantlement passionately championed by Republican opponents. Aware that welfare payments had varied by state and women were not getting rich anywhere, Clinton also knew the current system had intentionally built-in incentives for women to stay at home instead of work. Welfare was initially developed so low-income women would not 'deviate from 'traditional' homemaker roles and could also stay at home with their children like many other women of the time. Clinton purposefully attempted to allocate enough money and resources for childcare so low-income women would not find themselves in a horrid catch-22 situation of wanting to work but not being able to find affordable, safe, and reliable daycare for their children (pp. 720-721).

Before entering elected office, Clinton taught college classes at the University of Arkansas and the professorial enthusiasm (pp. 204-205) required for that task is especially obvious today as the lessons he taught to and learned from the students are recalled. I can easily imagine myself as a student in the class while he is racing up and down the auditorium steps exhorting us to become even more involved in the larger world (p. 203). Because they cannot realistically be confined to a classroom, such individuals were predestined to have a tremendous impact on the larger world.

By showing a less serious side of the Clintons which is not always discernable from the media, the enclosed photos reinforce this aforementioned environment. Conceding that his personal actions damaged the family (p. 800, p. 811), he avoids a holier-than-thou attitude which ruined many other political careers. Clinton succeeds at the American Dream because he already knows and easily accepts his imperfection. He is so personable that even when I disagreed with Clinton's policies, myself and others always knew that he would not attack dissenters on trumped up charges. Instead, Clinton's enduring personal patience (he appears far more patient than he has given himself credit for) and boundless optimism for the nation consistently shine throughout this book. By nature, genuine sentiment cannot be slick.

This book is a mandatory purchase for the Clinton fan---or anybody preferring a time when the United States president was respected for unflagging civility in the face of adversarial circumstances that had grounding lesser politicians from all levels of government. Unfortunately, like Hillary's autobiography (2002), the author's relative chronological youth in relation to his numerous public accomplishments means that another edition or volume will eventually be required for adequately chronicling all of the national/international contributions. Even at 957 pages, fitting all important information into one volume is impossible. I look forward to purchasing future editions of this biography.

5-0 out of 5 stars You either love him or hate him
Very intimate account of his life, with an undertone for the personal pain he his bearing. Great read for someone starting life and who wants to know how to chart the course of his or her life regardless of their family/childhood limitations. ... Read more

6. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China (Abridged)
by Jung Chang
list price: $24.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0886463610
Catlog: Book (1993-09-01)
Publisher: DH Audio
Sales Rank: 703636
Average Customer Review: 4.66 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Blending the intimacy of memoir and the panoramic sweep of eyewitness history, Wild Swans has become a bestselling classic in thirty languages, with more than ten million copies sold. The story of three generations in twentieth-century China, it is an engrossing record of Mao's impact on China, an unusual window on the female experience in the modern world, and an inspiring tale of courage and love.

Jung Chang describes the life of her grandmother, a warlord's concubine; her mother's struggles as a young idealistic Communist; and her parents' experience as members of the Communist elite and their ordeal during the Cultural Revolution. Chang was a Red Guard briefly at the age of fourteen, then worked as a peasant, a "barefoot doctor," a steelworker, and an electrician.As the story of each generation unfolds, Chang captures in gripping, moving -- and ultimately uplifting -- detail the cycles of violent drama visited on her own family and millions of others caught in the whirlwind of history. ... Read more

Reviews (234)

4-0 out of 5 stars An entertaining and educational account of Communist China
Wild Swans is a riveting story of the lives of three women in 20th century China. It delineates the lives of a concubine grandmother, a communist spy mother, and a student daughter. This was an extremely comprehensive book containing not only the life stories of three generations of a family, but also the stories of their relatives, relations, and of historical occurrences. It gives an extraordinary first hand account of China's history spanning from imperialist China to the rise of communism, and through the Cultural Revolution.

Jung Chang does a very good job of describing and explaining the history of China and the changes that occurred, including details down to what kinds of foods people ate during certain time periods. She gives descriptive images of shocking oppression and violence, which had been everyday occurrences in China. Although these descriptions initially prevented me from putting the book down, near the end, the violence does become somewhat repetitive and tiresome (yet you can't blame the author because constant violence was part of China's history).

Overall, I think this was a very fascinating book. The author successfully gives a detailed description of the history, recounting tales of the various things different families went through, while also telling the dramatic stories of her relatives. She does a good job of describing what people went through during the changes in Communist China and after reading this book, I have gained a very clear understanding of what happened during the time and why it happened. This was a very entertaining book which I also learned a great deal from.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Complete Yet Engaging Historical Account
I was given Wild Swans to read prior to a summer trip to Beijing. Being a high school student, I was not only daunted by the heft of the book, but by the extensive historical chronology and family tree in the introduction as well. I was also unsure as to whether the story would be a Chinese-generation plot along the lines of Amy Tan or whether it would be more of a strict historical recount of China in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Despite my apprehensions, I decided to go ahead and read it, and I have been thoroughly delighted with the results of my endeavor.
Wild Swans is what I would term a "human-interest history," meaning that the dry historical aspect of the book is tempered by the human emotion surrounding the individual events. Jung Chang uses the female leaders of each generation to provide a thoughtful outlook on the traditions and culture of China. For me, the best way to gain a true feel for the attitudes of a specific time period is to hear a personal account. This is the book's most salient quality. Chang makes the most of the little details that encompass the environment of the characters and uses the thoughts and feelings of her family to convey key concepts pertaining to Chinese morals and behaviors.
The concise language of the book also helps to promote these historical images and gives the book a quick tempo. Each anecdote is told in the same, somewhat removed manner, even Chang's own experiences. While some might find this an impersonal tactic, I felt that it allowed the tragedies of the story to shine by basing them purely on their own facets. Any extraneous writing would have clouded the sheer pain involved in a number of the events, and Chang's distance allows the reader to recreate the scene and absorb the historical depth behind it. Chang's own academic experience provides a particularly striking cultural contrast to typical Western thought processes and teachings.
Of course, there are some minor flaws in the book. Chang tends to gloss over her father's upbringing and adolescence and lingers on her grandmother's trials during her youth and during the Communist takeover, resulting in some unbalanced character depictions. Chang's privileged lifestyle prior to and then under the Communists also provides a lopsided view as to the true reign of Mao and the general state of China during the early Communist years. However, bias is to be expected whenever dealing with a personal account, and these deficiencies become lost in the greater framework of the book.
I have learned more from this book about Chinese history than I could have ever hoped to acquire from a guidebook or textbook. I highly recommend this book to anyone planning to travel to China in the near future or for anyone who is looking for an informative, yet entertaining, story of a family in China over the years.

5-0 out of 5 stars a classic
this is a beautiful book. maybe even my favorite of many classics.

it is the story of three women, strong and united with a determination that will get them through the hardships of China from the early nineteen hundrens to the present. optimism and love for each other and their family, as well as tears and sadness, get them through their lives as well as the tyrannical reign of Mao, a powerful dictator of China.

i am partly struck with wanting to share this book with you, and invite you to read it, (though it is certainly not children's fiction, but mature, adult fact) or to keep it like the treasure it is to me and i'm sure many others. if you do read it, covet it. is a bargain for what you get in return.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent historical account
This book does something that most people don't get around to doing when they say this or that about China: Provide historical detail. Specifically of interest:

1. The reason that the Kuomintang was not successful in China was constant corruption. Some people have suggested that Chinese people love tyrants (Jasper Becker, "The Chinese") and this is the explanation of why they rejected what would have been a democratic government for an authoritarian government. This is partially true, but the Kuomintang blew any chance that it had at legitimacy with its rampant corruption.

2. That the Communist Party became popular because they promised to not be like the corrupt and crooked Kuomintang. Her father is an example of one of the wide-eyed idealists that really believed in his cause at the beginning and was left a broken man when he saw what actually became of this grand vision. People at Western universities are always attacking the West and praising the Communist ideology/ governent allocation of resources, and they haven't a faintest idea of the actual RESULTS of the intended programs. Nor do they understand the incentive structures that led to those results.

3. Historical accounts of the great famine. I can't believe that this very afternoon, there are still people trying to talk away this historical event in China and say that it was just a statistical illusion. This is the second author that I've read that gives historical accounts of people eating their children.

4. Demonstrating how the cult of Mao was created and maintained, as well as what were his motives in the various campaigns (Cultural Revolution/ The Great Leap Forward) that swept the country during his reign. Another author (Anhua Gao) has also noted that Mao generated a lot of morass in the country because the weaker the country, the easier it was to control. But her detail is not comparable to the author of this book. She showed the self-denunciation meetings and the stages of his campaigns to keep the country divided and fighting against itself. It may be another 200 years before China shakes off the residual results of his rule (such as overpopulation and then the resulting sex imbalance that has come about because of population control), but here in this is an example of WHAT happened, and HOW it happened.

5. Showing the highly ritualized behavior of Chinese people in things such as foot binding, etc. A lot of people may come to China and wonder where people here get their ideas from and why they are prisoner of them. This author demonstrates that it's been that way for a *long* time. And it may never change.

It's hard to recommend this book enough times for someone who wants *actual results* of what happens in the context of a Communist Revolution, as opposed to the vague ramblings of something like the Communist Manifesto or state-sheltered academics in Western universities.

5-0 out of 5 stars Outsanding
(Aug 2003 release) Being interested in Chinese culture for sometime, I finally found a book that has given me something other than state sponsored history facts. I came across this book by accident. I began reading at the bookstore on Saturday evening and wasn't able to put it down until going to work on Monday morning. This book made me laugh, cry and scared the **** out of me in some places. It has definitely given me a wider perspective on the Chinese people and its culture. I'm looking forward to the release of Jung Chang's next book on Mao due out this year. ... Read more

7. Theodore Roosevelt: The 26th President (Audio Renaissance)
by Louis Auchincloss
list price: $23.95
our price: $23.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1559277386
Catlog: Book (2002-08-01)
Publisher: Audio Renaissance
Sales Rank: 753582
Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

An intimate portrait of the first president of the 20th century

The warm and knowing biography traces Roosevelt's involvement in the politics of New York City and New York State, his celebrated ,military career, and his ascent to the national political stage.Caricatured through history as the "bull moose", Roosevelt was in fact a man of extraordinary discipline whose refined and literate tastes actually helped spawn his fascination with the rough-and-ready world of war and wilderness.
... Read more

Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good book for a tough subject to pin down.
This book serves as a good introduction to Theodore Roosevelt to either satisfy or stimulate one's curiosity before indulging in a lengthier biography. This is a "short" bio, and not meant to be a treatise on T.R. The author was better with his Penguin Lives book on Woodrow Wilson, but he seemed to have more fun with Roosevelt.
As a subject T.R. is especially enjoyable, but more for his forceful character than for any of his objective accomplishments (for which the author notes several, e.g., negotiating the peace between Japan and Russia, and his national conservationist orders, etc.).
The author addresses Roosevelt's sense that his presidency was relatively unspectacular, and since war time presidents receive the most historical attention (e.g., leading to positive evaluations for Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, but negative for Wilson due to his post war failures), Roosevelt felt himself cheated from his place of greatness due to being a peacetime president.
As this author notes, many of T.R.'s beliefs had long lasting value (especially, I feel, his beliefs on the limitations of capitalism as spoken by a pro-business chief executive). Those who followed him, though, soon abandoned these attitudes. The reason for this seems to rest with T.R. He accomplished much emphasizing the forcefulness of his personality and took credit for improvements as being uniquely his. Since he can be the only T.R., his philosophy could not be transmitted to others. When out of office, he was no longer "T.R." and his so-called system collapsed as with a deck of cards. He was ultimately left a shell of his former self.
What if Roosevelt had toned down some of his tendencies? Might he have extended his influence over the next administrations and the country? If so, might this have led to a different result in how America influenced the developing European disputes that resulted in the First World War? These are some of the questions that remained with me from reading this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Series
This is the second volume in the new American Presidents series edited by Arthur M. Schlessinger, and like the first on James Madison, provides excellent, although brief insight into one of America's most fascinating characters. The prime focus of this book is on TR's presidential and post-presidential years. Limited space does not allow for anything more than a brief summary of Roosevelt's early life, which may actually be his most interesting period. Still there is enough to give the reader a basis for understanding Roosevelt's revolutionary power-expanding actions as President. Auchincloss does a wonderful job of filling this short volume with all of the important events of Roosevelt's life while keeping to a very enjoyable and readable style. It is a good introduction to Roosevelt and will leave you wanting to learn more.

4-0 out of 5 stars John the Baptist to Edmund Morris's Volume III
This slim volume may serve as a excellent introduction to the life of TR, or as a bracing romp through familiar landscape for devoted TR aficionados. The book itself is a little pricey for what you get, however (I hope a paperback edition of this American Presidents series is made available eventually), and it is pretty evident to the informed reader that Auchincloss is merely reviewing the conclusions of previous biographers. Auchincloss does attend to a particularly interesting period of TR's life, i.e. his decline and fall. From TR's impulsive public declaration not to seek a "third" term, the bloodletting in Africa, his quixotic Bull Moose campaign, the misadventure in the Amazon, to TR's death shortly following the death of his youngest son in WWI ("poor Quinnikins"), Auchincloss's volume was for me a tantalizing foreshadowing of what is certain to be a grand event in biography -- the third volume of Edmund Morris's TR trilogy. This book should help keep you satisfied (if only for a few hours) until the release of Morris' next volume. And after you read Auchincloss's TR, you should read his THE RECTOR OF JUSTIN if you've never done so, and also Edward Renehan's THE LAST LION (excellent mini-biographies of TR's sons, fascinating characters in their own right).

4-0 out of 5 stars Good book for a tough subject to pin down.
This book serves as a good introduction to Theodore Roosevelt to either satisfy or stimulate one's curiosity before indulging in a lengthier biography. This is a "short" bio, and not meant to be a treatise on T.R. The author was better with his Penguin Lives book on Woodrow Wilson, but he seemed to have more fun with Roosevelt.
As a subject T.R. is especially enjoyable, but more for his forceful character than for any of his objective accomplishments (for which the author notes several, e.g., negotiating the peace between Japan and Russia, and his national conservationist orders, etc.).
The author addresses Roosevelt's sense that his presidency was relatively unspectacular, and since war time presidents receive the most historical attention (e.g., leading to positive evaluations for Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, but negative for Wilson due to his post war failures), Roosevelt felt himself cheated from his place of greatness due to being a peacetime president.
As this author notes, many of T.R.'s beliefs had long lasting value (especially, I feel, his beliefs on the limitations of capitalism as spoken by a pro-business chief executive). Those who followed him, though, soon abandoned these attitudes. The reason for this seems to rest with T.R. He accomplished much emphasizing the forcefulness of his personality and took credit for improvements as being uniquely his. Since he can be the only T.R., his philosophy could not be transmitted to others. When out of office, he was no longer "T.R." and his so-called system collapsed as with a deck of cards. He was ultimately left a shell of his former self.
What if Roosevelt had toned down some of his tendencies? Might he have extended his influence over the next administrations and the country? If so, might this have led to a different result in how America influenced the developing European disputes that resulted in the First World War? These are some of the questions that remained with me from reading this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bully Moose
ully Moose

The author likes TR, and it shows. But then he backs up his judgment with a detailed history of this president. Mr. Auchincloss is not afraid to add his own interpretations, and some of them you may not want to agree with. But they are always well reasoned and therefore welcome.

Was TR an imperialist? By modern definition of the term one would answer in the affirmative. He condoned the taking of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the Philippines and the digging of the Panama canal. He built up the fleet and had it sail around the world to demonstrate America?s new might. But he also engineered the peace treaty between Japan and Russia.

Was TR a bully? Most decidedly so. He fought hard for what he believed in - and never forgave an insult. But his conduct was built on a basis of honor and chivalry, trying to do what he believed would be best for the people. He took on the likes of Morgan, Gould and Fish because he believed them to be detrimental to the people?s welfare. In the end he outlived himself and his policeman?s ethic.

Mr. Auchincloss gives us a stunning, vivid portrait of this great president, in clear and precise language. I highly recommend this book. ... Read more

8. Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
by James Bradley
list price: $39.98
our price: $26.39
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1586215698
Catlog: Book (2003-09)
Publisher: Time Warner Audiobooks
Sales Rank: 110399
Average Customer Review: 3.19 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Flyboys is the true story of young American airmen who were shot down over Chichi Jima. Eight of these young men were captured by Japanese troops and taken prisoner. Another was rescued by an American submarine and went on to become president. The reality of what happened to the eight prisoners has remained a secret for almost 60 years. After the war, the American and Japanese governments conspired to cover up the shocking truth. Not even the families of the airmen were informed what had happened to their sons. It has remained a mystery—until now. Critics called James Bradley's last book "the best book on battle ever written." Flyboys is even better: more ambitious, more powerful, and more moving. On the island of Chichi Jima those young men would face the ultimate test. Their story—a tale of courage and daring, of war and of death, of men and of hope—will make you proud, and it will break your heart. ... Read more

Reviews (141)

5-0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking Book About War.
If you are looking for a feel good American heroes book this is not it. "Flyboys" is a very worthwhile and thought provoking book. There are times when it causes the reader to feel uncomfortable as it describes large scale and individual atrocities including cannibalism and mass murder performed by the Japanese that are very distressing to read about. Many of the previous patriotic reviewers I believe found it difficult to face the descriptions of the small and large scale violent and destructive American behavior even though it was dwarfed by the Japanese behavior.

The author remained remarkably non judgmental in his descriptions. He tries to put in context the violent behavior, although not to excuse it, by supplying relevant cutural and historic background.

The book invites us to examine the contrast between war time and peacetime humanity. Which is really us? Is war time meanness just kept below the surface during times of peace? It reminds us that when hundreds of thousands of lives are lost, that these are the lives of valuable individuals whether American or others. It emphasizes the remarkable heroism and perhaps the naivete of our servicemen particularly our "Flyboys." They were heroes especially because they completely understood the risks they were taking and proceeded out of choice because they were needed. George Bush Sr., as one of them , is featured as a sensitive and lucky(to be alive)hero.

The Japanese soldiers were brutalized by their officers and were required to follow orders without question. One gets concerned about group think and herd mentality. How independent are human beliefs and actions? Do we actually choose them or are we mostly a product of the society in which we were raised? We must intuitively know that it is wrong to bayonet a restrained man with a sharpened bamboo pole with the purpose of of causing pain, prior to beheading him while still alive, The officers who ordered this behavior earn our contempt. They force soldiers to carry out their orders as if they were slaves.

The Japanese "Spirit Warrier" believed that all orders originated with their Emperor who they believed descended from the Sun Goddess. In a way they were following their faith. Is it right to unquestioningly follow a religious leader or a religious belief ie Jihad,or perhaps to believe that followers of our culture are more worthwhile than the followers of other cultures. We must have known as Americans in the 19th century that slavery was wrong and that women should have the right to vote but it took us a long time to correct these injustices. Were we not deserving of contempt for thoughtlessly following the group think?

This is a history of WWII in the Pacific told mainly through a small group of people involved with the battle for the island of Chichi Jima by an author who is a truth seeking patriotic American whose father was incidentally a flag raiser at Iwo Jima. It raises our awareness of the horrors of war. It ends with some optimism and descriptions of forgiveness or at least understanding by memebers of both sides. There is even some real humanity displayed as Private Iwatake, who developed a personal relationshop with a subsequently beheaded cannibalized "Flyboy" named Warren Earl Vaughn, when phoned by the author, doing his research, answers the phone with, "Hello, this is Warren." He had changed his name to honor his dead prisoner.

4-0 out of 5 stars Has its faults, but important nevertheless...
I read about 20 of the earlier reviews of "Flyboys" as I struggled through the book this past week. Some of the negative comments are deserved, such as referring to the late Gen. Curtis LeMay as "Curtis" in half or more of the references to him. This is bizarre and distracting. Whether a result of careless editing or author-torial stubborness, it does not work. Also, I agree that the term "Flyboys" as a collective description of pilots, gunners and radiomen is over-used. I also agree that the book perhaps tries to cover too much history and abandons its cover story for too many pages at a time. Some condensing and reorganization would have enhanced its power. That said, many of the other negative comments seem to be unfair. Yes, Mr. Bradley dwells on America's mistreatment of Indians and Filipinos at length, including prisoners of war. Yes, he gives disgusting details of how our napalm drops on Japanese cities destroyed civilians indiscriminately. But he is not making up those facts. And to emphasize how easily combat and its stresses can make soldiers willing to do horrible deeds is not exactly the same thing as excusing the acts. I have read my share of WW II books, as I near 60 years of age, and "Flyboys" is the first one which sensibly explains how the Japanese fighter rationalized not only his willingness to die in already-lost battles, but his contempt for those from other cultures who chose to be prisoners of war instead. To explain the Japanese viewpoint, again, is not to excuse the acts. Nor is it unpatriotic.

"Flyboys" describes disgusting acts of brutality and cannibalism, and is ultimately a very sad tale. It is not a work that should be tackled by readers who are emotionally fragile. As most people reading this review will already know, Mr. Bradley's dad was one of the Iwo Jima flag-raisers, wounded physically by Japanese soldiers in that fight, and wounded in some ways psychologically by the whole of his wartime service. The fact that his son went off to study in Japan, and developed much respect for the residents there, must have been painful and puzzling for the father. But I don't think any intelligent reader of Bradley's earlier book, "Flags of Our Fathers" or of "Flyboys" can question the younger Bradley's respect for our troops or our country. One of our strengths as a representative democracy is that we can love our nation for having humane ideals even if we are imperfect in living up to them every minute. And we can learn from injustices committed in our names by our government or military agents, and change our ways.

I stuck with "Flyboys" right to the end, flaws and all, and I'm glad I did. It gets more powerful as it goes on, and it does finish the story of the eight Chichi Jima American POW's as much as it could be completed, so long after their 1945 deaths. We live in a time when we may be facing 30 years or more of sporadic war with terrorists and the countries which fund and hide them. To read a book which makes war and its (initially) unintended horrors seem like a step to be accepted only with the greatest caution is not a bad thing right now. While Mr. Bradley is not the smoothest historian/writer on the block, he shows promise. In some ways this book is better than "Flags of Our Fathers" despite its problems of style, language and organization. For sure, it is more important than the previous book, because the Iwo Jima battle story had already been well-covered in earlier works. Former President George Bush came close to being a prisoner on Chichi Jima, and plays a small part in this book. If he cooperated, and if he thinks Jim Bradley has done a service to the country with his research into the horrors of war in the Pacific from both sides, I won't argue with him. He was there, I was not. I'm glad I read "Flyboys" but unlike "Flags of Our Fathers" which I've read three times since it was first published, I won't be reading it twice. Its medicine is too strong for a second dose.

3-0 out of 5 stars Strays way off course
I am very offended in the tone that book takes in regard to comparing Japan's Chinese campaign with our final offensives in Germany and Japan. With all of the well written reviews I do not have much to add except to say that Japan was dead in the water and would have fought to the last man, woman and child. I also think that the nuclear bombs definately did create a new level of war and by doing so expedited the surrender. I am tired of people trying to apologize for America, the fact remains if they did not engage us then they would not have faced our wrath. The Chinese on the other hand recieved the barbaric wrath of Japan without so much as provoking them. I suppose we are supposed to draw a parallel in our manifest destiny or turn of the century Phillipine campaigns that were both in a very different era. By taking away all of Japans budget to make war America gave them a head start on creating a modern economy unparalleled in the world.

This book gets three stars for having some nice solid sections when it stays on task and does not get to preachy. If it wasn't for that I would have flunked it. The author has talent though and the read is pretty good being that is so severly flawed.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not sure what to make of this book
First off, I find it surprising that this story was not told sooner, as it involved a future U.S. president (I suppose much of the information was not available until recently). I give Bradley credit for telling the story of the airmen who gave their lives in service to our country, but I'm not sure what to make of Bradley's commentary on U.S. policy before and during World War II. It's true that atrocities happen in war, and the actions of our military should not be whitewashed. It seems wrong to me, however, to try to draw moral equivalency between the aggressors, and those who fight that aggression at great cost to themselves so that others may enjoy freedom. I also reject Bradley's suggestions that all atrocities committed by the Japanese were a direct result of earlier U.S. actions, however wrong those actions may have been (Bradley's description of the Japanese corruption of the Samauri code seems to contradict his own assertions regarding this point). I rate "Flyboys" 3 stars for telling a story that should have been told earlier, but I have reservations about the revisionist history in the book.

2-0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing, misleading title
A few months ago, I overheard an argument by two people over this book, so I figured I would read it myself to see what it was really like. I must say I was very disappointed. The first few chapters are not even about World War II. The title is misleading, for it is not really about "Flyboys", and the author uses it as a platform to condemn the use of airpower. Unfortunately, civilians were killed in bombing raids, but it should be remembered that it was the Germans and the Japanese who started this war. The author also sees very little, if any, difference, between the Americans and Japanese, yet he overlooks who rebuilt Japan. If Japan had defeated the US, would they have rebuilt our cities? I highly doubt. There are better books about World War II in the Pacific, and certainly better books that portray the courage of the American Fighting Man. ... Read more

9. A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
by Martin Luther King Jr.
list price: $26.98
our price: $17.81
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1570425728
Catlog: Book (1998-05-01)
Publisher: Time Warner Audiobooks
Sales Rank: 73984
Average Customer Review: 4.88 out of 5 stars
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These 11 historic sermons--some complete recordings of entire addresses, others reconstructed from various church services--make plain why Martin Luther King Jr. considered his "first calling and greatest commitment" to be a preacher of the gospel. As an orator he is second to none, drawing his audience in with an urgency that resonates through every soaring cadence of his familiar, powerful voice. Using insights from psychology, philosophy, and the Bible, he appeals to the heads as well as the hearts of his congregations, explaining that personal and social change can only be effected by adopting a morality of love in service of God and humankind. While King's concern for social justice is a common theme throughout, each sermon is a jewel of literary artistry, as it presents a simple problem, examines its complications, and offers a startling and often challenging resolution. Topics range from "Rediscovering Lost Values," a caution that scientific progress without moral progress can result only in a step backward for humanity, to "An American Dream," a wake-up call to the "self-evident truth" of equality proclaimed in the Constitution.

Brief introductions to the sermons from spiritual leaders and friends, including Dr. Joan Campbell, Billy Graham, Dr. Robert Franklin, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, offer personal insights into King's life, work, and legacy. An interesting note from the producers explains how the recordings of the sermons (published in a hardcover companion of the same name) were pieced together. In word and in voice, these are masterpieces of theological literature from one of the world's great orators, who Robert Franklin rightly says may well be "the greatest religious intellectual of the twentieth century." (Running time: 8 hours, 6 cassettes) --Uma Kukathas ... Read more

Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars King still inspires
Forget about the sweet-toned, hagiographic introductions and organ play at the beginning of each sermon and you've got 6 cassetes with remarkable good and lively preaching. The sermons of the early King and the rather boring sermon on the American dream excluded you've got some retorical outstanding sermons like 'Love your enemies' and 'Why Jesus calls a man a fool'. Listening to King makes me wonder where this acute relevance of the gospel has gone...and how we can get this vigor back.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Profound Message
The sermons in A Knock at Midnight are both deeply moving and a powerful reminder of the greatness of Dr. King. This collection should be read and heard by everyone, especially the young of today who have been fed a Dr. King who somehow only delivered one speech ("I Have a Dream"). As a middle school teacher I found the sermons to be an excellent way for my students to move beyond the platitudes about Dr. King to a much deeper understanding of his life and ministry. To read and listen to these great sermons is an absolutely wonderful experience, but at the same time a sad reminder that today we have no great voice of moral authority like his. Fortunately we do have his words and voice preserved for us and our children.

5-0 out of 5 stars I wish I could give this EXPERIENCE 10 stars!
Notice I refer to the cassettes and the companion book as an EXPERIENCE as I both listened to and read the REVEREND King! Although the media focused on the visible part of his ministry, the civil rights movement, his sermons are profound and awesome in their implications for today as well as their in their powerful delivery during the mid-1950's through 1960's. Although I will cherish both the cassette series and the book, it is through hearing the SPEAKING of Dr. King that really made me breathless! Thank you LORD God for sending us your messenger Dr. King to give us a wonderful earthly ministry for a brilliant and brief time (much like Jesus Christ). Simply awesome!

5-0 out of 5 stars A fabulous collection of soul-stirring preaching.
A fabulous collection of soul-stirring preaching by one of this century's finest preachers. Many people know King as a great political leader, fiery orator, and creative organizer. This collection of sermons will convince the world that King was first and foremost an anointed preacher. His sermons ring with authenticity and resound with relevancy. Kings messages speak profoundly to our troubled times and offer both prophetic insight and divine guidance as we attempt to find our way into the next millinium. This collection of sermons, with their superb introductions and commentaries, is perhaps one of the finest efforts of its kind. It will certainly be a source of pleasure and insight for generations to come.

5-0 out of 5 stars Answering the World!!!!!
A Knock At Midnight is frightfully prophetic,subperbly truthful and dynamically inspiring.It shows what the great mind of King brings and brought to the forefront while he was living and while he continues to live in our hearts.These sermons are chillingly lifelike as if King speaks directly to your heart and mind---NOW! It is truly a must read! The sermon A Knock at Midnight delivers the powerful and sensitive message concerning where the Church has to take the people as far as their needs are concerned and it deals with the advocacy of having to open the door to the truly oppressed and needy.It is a thought provoking theme set against the veil of modern times.There is a a Knock At Midnight and it is now answering the world. ... Read more

10. Angela's Ashes (AUDIO CASSETTE)
list price: $50.00
our price: $34.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 067158037X
Catlog: Book (1997-10-01)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Sales Rank: 76449
Average Customer Review: 4.48 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood."

So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland.Frank's mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank's father Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages.Yet Malachy does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story.

Perhaps it is a story that accounts for Frank's survival.Wearing shoes repaired with tires, begging a pig's head for Christmas dinner, and searching the pubs for his father, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors -- yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance and remarkable forgiveness.

Imbued with Frank McCourt's astounding humor and compassion -- and movingly read in his own voice -- Angela's Ashes is a glorious audiobook that bears all the marks of a classic. ... Read more

Reviews (1623)

5-0 out of 5 stars Depressing but Excellent
5 Stars- Depressing but excellent

Frank Mc Court's memoirs "Angela's Ashes" takes us back to the 1940s where he tells us of his childhood and the poverty that his family lived though. This book can be very depressing at times which brought me to tears, but this is an excellent memoirs worthy of a 5 star rating.

The book starts out in New York, the Mc Court family lives in one of the most impoverished areas of Brooklyn and father, Malachy Mc Court has a hard time keeping a job and a drinking problem. After the death of baby Margaret, the family moves back to Ireland where times are harder and life is poorer. The family relies on help from Saint Vincent, DE Paul Society and they are forced to go on relief. The father drinks whatever money he makes and has a hard time finding or keeping a job. Frank has a dream of returning to America, where he feels that he can make life better for himself.

I watched the movie right after reading the book and was amazed at how many part were left out. I advise everyone to read the book to get the true story of the Mc Court Family and I look forward to reading the second part, Tis.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Well-Deserved Pulitzer
McCourt speaks to the reader through his childhood voice in this splendid, moving, and thought-provoking autobiography. McCourt begins the story as a four-year-old living in New York City with his parents and three younger brothers. The poverty stricken Irish family is unable to make ends meet in America and so they head back to Ireland in hopes of survival.

They settle in Limerick where McCourt's mother Angela grew up. Malachy McCourt, the father in the story, claims that he will find work and support the family. However, Malachy's love of alcohol prevents him from finding or keeping any gainful employment. When he does work, he takes his wages and goes to the bars and drinks until all the money is gone. Meanwhile, the family is hungry, the children are wearing shoes with holes, and Angela sinks into a deep depression but remains obedient to her husband because of her Catholic faith. The family moves around Limerick frequently, renting dirty rooms with flea infested bedding, living on the floors in small houses owned by relatives, and even renting a house in which the bottom floor is constantly being flooded with neighborhood sewage. The family comes face to face with illness, death, starvation, and ridicule. The low point strikes when Angela must resort to begging on the streets to help her family survive.

All the while, McCourt has the reader grow with him through the ages of four to nineteen. He shares the Irish tales he grew up with, the feelings he had toward his dyfunctional parents, his opinion of the Catholic Church, and the good and bad lessons he learned from his harsh schoolmasters. Never does McCourt wallow in self-pity, rather he presents the facts of his life in an honest, poignant manner. Despite the despair, it seems that McCourt has no regrets about his upbringing, for he was a child and had no control of the situation. As he grew, however, he came to the realization that he could begin to change things for the better. Unlike his father, he became eager to work. He struggled to support his mother and younger siblings in his teen years with after school jobs. He educated himself through reading and observation. He set goals and priorities and didn't give up until he reached them.

McCourt takes what is tragic and presents it in a beautiful, descriptive language that leaves the reader spellbound. His story is obviously written unselfishly and is told to show that triumph can be the end result of tragedy. Each individual has the power to rise above and make his or her life meaningful. This is the essence of McCourt's message. A message you will not forget after reading Angela's Ashes.

5-0 out of 5 stars a memoir of myself?
This book is simply incredible and the inclusion of the patriotic and doleful poems of the Irish make it simply the best and stand out from the rest. Frank Mc Court has retold the story in a perspective of a child and I wonder how could he retell each and everything so clearly and touchingly.... so hands up for him... Mc Court is one of the greatest Irish writer ever.... This book has broken my heart, made me laugh, brought tears in my eyes and has made me obsessed with Little Frankie and his sore eyes....I never wanted to finish Angela's Ashes and wish I could continue reading it forever and ever.... If you are keen about Frankie's life then Tis' is a must read book...

I wish I could invite Frankie during Christmas so that he didnt have to eat the pig's head....

5-0 out of 5 stars ANGELA'S ASHES

1-0 out of 5 stars P.U.!!
Stinkaroo! Thank god I borrowed this work of maudlin stereotypical crap from the library so I didn't actually fork over any cash for it. Jeez, if I was Irish I would be completely insulted by the authors' ludicrous, stereotypical portrayal of the anguished poor Irish Catholic family. "Aw no da's drunk agin! Aw no, ma's bein' shagged! Aw, I wish ere lived in Ameriki!" Blah blah blah! These characters aren't even as well developed as the guy on the Lucky Charms box. Has McCourt ever been to Ireland?

I couldn't even finish it. It just plodded and sobbed and whined on and on and on. In fact, before I took it back to the library I inscribed in one of the early chapters, "WARNING: MORE CRAP AHEAD". I didn't consider that defacing library property, I considered it a public service. ... Read more

11. Arcanum : The Extraordinary True Story
by Janet Gleeson
list price: $24.00
our price: $24.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1570426554
Catlog: Book (1999-03-01)
Publisher: Time Warner Audiobooks
Sales Rank: 614641
Average Customer Review: 4.39 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (23)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Fun and Surprising History
I didn't know what to expect when I picked up a copy of The Arcanum in a bookstore at the airport. I needed something to read on a four hour flight, and Janet Gleeson's book definitely fit the bill: it kept my attention for the whole four hours. The capsule on the back cover was what really caught my attention. It promised eccentric kings, dungeons and avarice of all kinds. The book did not disappoint! It's as much an entertaining look at how small things make a big difference in history as it is a factual and well-presented history of the introduction of porcelain manufacture in Europe.

Gleeson did her homework, and that enabled her to bring to life a cast of character that might have come out of the most imaginative of novels. Almost before our eyes we can see the Augustus' obsession with porcelain, and finding a way to manufacture it, drive events in European history. We see a young and desperate alchemist/charlatan who couldn't have gotten himself in more trouble if he tried. Gleeson weaves these, and other, figures and their strange tale into a history that reads almost like a novel.

If you enjoy Barbara Tuchman's books, I suspect that you'll like Janet Gleeson's, as well. Aside from the fascinating story, Gleeson provides a technical discussion of the substance of porcelain ware and its manufacture that should appeal to novice and expert alike. I enjoyed this book immensely; it gave the reader the whole package. I recommend it without reservation and I'll definitely be looking to read more books by this author.

4-0 out of 5 stars The development of Europe
There were many advances during the rennaisance era in Europe that are far reaching. You would think that something so ephemeral as a luxury item wouldn't have much impact, but history demonstrates otherwise. Deception, espionage, war, and even treason were common occurences in 17th and 18th century Europe. All that in pursuit of the secrets for making porcelain is conceptually challenging to say the least.

When one alchemist searching for the legendary philospher's stone performs one illusion too many, he finds himself a "guest" of Augustus the Strong until he provides him with the gold he needs to pay for his extravagantly decadent life style. Fortunately, for the alchemist, he's bright and talented, and just may provide the king with another type of gold to keep the executioner at bay.

The Arcanum, is well written and researched with an extensive bibliography. I was very impressed with the level of scholarship exhibited by Ms. Gleeson. Considering the subject matter, and my preconceptions, I was suitably suprised and impressed at what I learned.

3-0 out of 5 stars Pleasant Read
Janet Gleeson is not a storyteller. This becomes apparent as she pops between explaining the arcanum, porcelain making, political strife and the lives of the people involved. The subjects are so compelling, however, that you will not mind too much. It is apparent, too, that she has a passion for the subject of porcelain making, and she does manage to infuse the reader with her interest.

5-0 out of 5 stars Splendidly told history always pleases
If you enjoy splendidly written historical stories, this is a must read. I must admit that the story started to lose its lustre around the time that Meissen loses its lustre; but, in its entirety, the book is a must read. If you've read The Professor and the Madman, this story is equally enthralling.

4-0 out of 5 stars A substance more valuable than gold
Today, porcelain, china, and dinnerwares are common items in a household. This was not always true. Once, hard paste porcelain, the world's best, was literally as valuable as gold. But only the Chinese knew the formula, and they kept their secret from Europeans for nearly 1000 years. So it is fitting that the person responsible for discovering the Chinese's secret was an alchemist, whose true quest was to find the secret for making gold from other less expensive metals.

This swashbuckling tale of adventure, double-dealing, and final victory, is a basic manual for porcelain collectors and dealers, and it is a must for antiques enthusiasts, no matter where their interests lie. Porcelain and its history touch every collecting area to some degree. The knowlege contained in this short history is a must for anyone who aspires to a full education in the decorative arts. ... Read more

12. My Losing Season : The Point Guard's Way to Knowledge
list price: $25.95
our price: $25.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553714074
Catlog: Book (2002-10-15)
Publisher: RH Audio
Sales Rank: 952944
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Despite losing, Conroy scores
Although I'm not a basketball player or even a sports fan, I couldn't put this book down. The book is really about the coming of age of a young man, as seen through the experience of an intense basketball season at a military academy. The writing is full of wonderful metaphors, and smooth and easy to read. The emotional journey--like other Conroy books--is intense. The difference here is that the experience is so real. He's describing real people, and the narrator is Conroy himself. The depiction of what goes on at The Citadel may shock you with its brutality. Its amazing that Conroy can recreate his senior year in college so clearly thirty years later. Thoroughly enjoyable. ... Read more

13. I'm the One That I Want
by Margaret Cho
list price: $24.95
our price: $24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1565114744
Catlog: Book (2001-05-01)
Publisher: Highbridge Audio
Sales Rank: 498261
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Don't come to this bitter, engrossing memoir for a quick and easy laugh. The material that Margaret Cho has turned to such riotous ends in her stand-up act has a very different flavor on the page. An unpopular child (okay, hated and reviled), Cho made friends with the drag queens who worked in her father's bookstore, soon becoming a fag hag, and finding this mutual attraction "both nurturing and powerful, sweet and sour, retail and wholesale." "Drag queens are strong because they have so much to fight against," writes Cho, "homophobia, sexism, pink eye." To support herself at the beginning of her comedy career, Cho worked at FAO Schwarz, sometimes moonlighting in phone sex. Occasionally the jobs would overlap, and she would find herself doing phone sex dressed as Raggedy Ann. There isn't much here about Cho's early success, but she does delve at length into her disastrous sitcom, and devotes many pages to her battles with her weight, with drugs, and with alcohol, and her hopeless relationships with men (none of the bisexual material from her stage act is included here). Cho's message is about self-esteem in the face of consistent opposition from her family, the network that aired a "Margaret Cho" sitcom but permitted her no creative control, and a society that rewards women for thinness, whiteness, meekness, and a shut mouth. --Regina Marler ... Read more

Reviews (39)

5-0 out of 5 stars The woman behind all the laughters.
I have been a devoted fan of Margaret Cho since seeing her concert movie: Notorious C.H.O. a few years ago, and I also saw her in concert the Spring when SARS hit Toronto. I have never really cared for standup comedy before, but her outrageously funny shows really captured me, and her autobiography allowed me to see the layers beneath the Funny Diva.

She wrote about her upbringing as a second generation Korean American in San Francisco and how she became a full-fledge cross-country standup comic in her late teens. She shares feelings on her trials and triumps, to failures of her All American Girl TV show, to overweight issues, to being a fag hag, to sex, boost, and ex-boyfriends. She also included some stints from her greatest hits that were comic relief in this sometimes moving book. She's proven to the world that she doesn't have to be thin, beautiful, and white to become a superstar for laughs.

There was one page in her book about self-loathing that really touched me;
I don't want to be weary anymore. I donnn't want to be my own worst enemy anymore. When I tell myself I am fat, that I have to work out, I've taken from myself the energy to go out to do it. I feel hurt, bled of life force, and then I must work with that deficit. I give up before Iam through because I feel defeated before I even begin............I have been a longtime perpetrator of hate crimes against myself, and I am turninng myself in. I have had enough.

Her self-esteem had always been brought down by the expectation of how she should look on the outside(her face, hair, and body).
She struggled a great deal and she's a true hero and role model for Asians, overweight people, and underdog achievers. And for that I love her!

3-0 out of 5 stars A candid look at sexism in Hollywood
Margaret Cho's "I'm the One That I Want" is the opposite of pre-packaged, phony interviews that you see everytime you turn on TV. While actresses go on TV and claim to just LOVE their co-stars,and to be "naturally" thin, Cho tells it like it is. She triumphed where many others failed -- her years as a traveling standup paid off when she got a TV deal,. Unfortuntately, misogony and racism in Hollywood turned her dream into a nightmare. Cho details the callous treatment that she, the star of her own show, received when things went wrong on the show. Her weight became the central focus to some execs, and some Asians groups turned on her when the show was received as stereotypical and backward. What should have been the pinnacle of her career turned into a time she would rather forget. Alcoholism and dead-end relationshops ensued.

This book is basically a cathardic (we presume) rant by Cho. It is an outrageous story, particularly in the same industry that routinely makes TV stars of rotund male standup comics (everyone from Kevin James to Chris Farley). The double standards are made all the worse when you consider that Cho wasn't fat. She was victimized by the Hollywood white male power structure, and women and minorities who internalize that message and turn on each other.

Although I appreciate the manifesto-style quality of this book, some of Cho's solutions seem a bit naive. It is going to take a lot more than women liking themselves to see attitudes in Hollywood change. Sexism and racism are institutionalized, and every high grossing movie starring an emaciated babe is contributing to that tradition continuing. It will take dismantling those institutions, or working from within, to see that change. Show biz is way behind the curve when it comes to gender equality, but it is also dangerously influential. Cho, and others like her, could spearhead a grassroots campaign to get big audiences for movies that show positive messages of women. Take it from the evangelicals and "Passion of the Christ"... money talks.

1-0 out of 5 stars Not very funny, sometimes tedious,but some sparks
I was not familiar with M. Cho, being an American living overseas for so long. So I thought that I would get acquainted with a different aspect of American culture and bring some laughs to my door-step. Though I found some passages funny and entertaining, her narration comes off as tedious and repetitive, infrequently humorous. Her tragic life seems dramatically sad, and Cho seems to want to bring laughter out of brashness and dismal situations. Congratulations for trying to pull herself out of so many self-defeating habits and for trying to find some humour there. I found her "new-agey" comments too superficial for interest. I good try, but the bleakness of her unhappy life is not salvaged by the humour, that seems too scarce for a notorious comedian. This is a review of her 4 CD audiobook.

5-0 out of 5 stars a great biography
Heartfelt and Hilarious! If you're looking for comedy, get her videos or CD's. This is nice, but it's more on the sentimental side, not the funny side of Margaret.

5-0 out of 5 stars the REAL margaret cho!
The real Margaret Cho is both exactly how you'd expert her to be from her stand up and nothing like that. This book is VERY similar to her stand-up act and movie by the same name and includes many of the same hilarious stories. However the book delves MUCH deeper and tells more stories that don't make it to her comedy act (cuz they're not funny). But despite that I think that Margaret's comic genious and her humorous personality are definately apparent and you are left KNOWING you just read Margaret Cho! She's an unmistakable lady! I love her and I think the book is an invaluable piece of her story and the insights she shares in her act. So put down @$$master and pick up this! ... Read more

14. Ten Things I Wish I'd Known- : Before I went Out Into the Real World
list price: $18.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1570428573
Catlog: Book (2000-04-01)
Publisher: Time Warner Audiobooks
Sales Rank: 431699
Average Customer Review: 3.72 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

--Starting at the bottom--over and over again
--Dealing with--and learning from--the Boss from Hell
--Giving up the Wedding Delusion, not to mention that one-way ticket to Happily Ever After
--Being asked to bend your principles--by your superiors
--Wanting to be a high-powered success and super parent
--Knowing that children will both exhaust and sustain you
--Facing that terrifying question: "What have I been put on this earth to do?"

You could call them notes from life's trenches. Maria Shriver's TEN THINGS I WISH I'D KNOWN--BEFORE I WENT OUT INTO THE REAL WORLD gives us her reflections, confessions, advice, memories, and, most of all, hard-earned lessons...all the things we wish we knew before we started out, and that few people ever honestly discuss.

Here is the truth about: the price we pay for giving in to our fears, as well as the relief we feel when we finally face them; the humiliation of swallowing our ego so that we can learn from an abusive experience; the rewards of taking risks and the pain of failure; the joy of finding someone we can love and the limitations of every relationship; how it's never too late to tap the wisdom of others, even (especially!) our own parents; and the importance of taking what we do seriously without taking ourselves seriously.

Expanded from Maria's acclaimed College of the Holy Cross commencement address and written in the voice of a trusted and trusting best friend, TEN THINGS I WISH I'D KNOWN--BEFORE I WENT OUT INTO THE REAL WORLD is a pithy, poignant, down-to-earth, and at times laugh-out-loud book that will help people of all ages and on all roads in life.

It's within you to carve out your own future, create your own destiny.

I wrote this book so that you might be spared. Not from having to learn the lessons I had to learn. No one can spare you that, because learning is experiential, and you have to do it yourself. As a wise person once told me: If I could spare you the pain you're experiencing, I wouldn't--because I wouldn't want to deprive you of the strength and wisdom you'll gain from having gone through it and come out the other side.

Each and every one of you is a powerful, resilient human being capable of living the life you design for yourself. I wish all of you the faith and the courage to pinpoint your passion. ... Read more

Reviews (99)

5-0 out of 5 stars Ten Things I'm Glad I Know Now
Just when you thought you were all alone, Maria Shriver saves the day with her wise advice in her new book Ten Things I Wish I'd Known-Before I Went Out into the Real World. This book is not only helpful for students of all majors, but will continue to be a source of wisdom throughout the course of a person's life. I, being a senior about to face the real world, have hit the wall of shock and devastation. I no longer have a crutch to lean on and will be thrown out all alone into the worst job market seen in years. While this has been the most stressful and horrifying time in my life, Maria Shriver's book gives me a drop of hope by giving me a head start through her own personal experiences and the experiences of others.
Ten Things I Wish I'd Know-Before I Went Out into the Real World was inspired by a speech Shriver was asked to give to the graduating class of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. The speech was so successful because of her fearless wit and hard-hitting facts that it was developed into a book to help graduating students across the country.
This book has been extremely helpful because Maria Shriver gives the facts whether you like them or not. She does not sugar coat a thing. She does not tell the reader to "go out there and get em'" or "you can do it all if you put your mind to it." In fact, she tells the reader the complete opposite. She writes that one person cannot do it all and one must be willing to fail and start from the bottom if they look forward to achieving anything.
Shriver uses her own experiences as well as others experiences as her prime sources. She does not go into the psychology and rhetoric of each situation, yet teaches the reader from first hand experience the advice and lessons she has had to learn the hard way.
Not only does Shriver help a graduating student at the starting gate of their career, but she also serves as a mentor throughout their entire life. With topics beyond work and successful careers, she hands out her own wisdom about finances, marriage, and children. These topics each have their very own chapter because as Shriver notes, these are some of the hardest yet most endearing jobs a person will ever face.
Now that I am three months from heading out into the real world, I wish I had read this book sooner. I wish I had known that even someone as successful as Maria Shriver has received criticism and cried her eyes out in the seat of her car. I am still scared and unsure about the future, but I know that while I am sitting at my very own commencement address, I will already be equipped with some of the best advice and wisdom given from a successful person who wasn't afraid to start at the bottom. If you or anyone you know are about to face the uncertainties of the "real world," I strongly suggest this book as a teacher, guide, and mentor.

4-0 out of 5 stars Wise Wisdom for the Real World
I admire Maria Shriver for what she has accomplished in life without the constant help of the silver spoon she was born with. She is an amazing woman in her own right and has worked hard to become a person of great integrity and wisdom. So who better to write a book on life lessons than someone who has learned a few along the way.

Ms. Shriver wrote this book after she received so much positive response from a little commencement address she had given. I only wish I had heard such a profound speech before I had set off into the world. After reading this book I realize I only do part of the necessary steps for life success and I am now inspired to work my way into all 10. She recommends: Finding your passion, take any job as a stepping stone, respect your coworkers, be responsible for your behaviors, fail without fear, discard the myth of Superwoman, pay attention to your family life, work on your marriage, make your own money and LAUGH!! It takes alot of energy to live life correctly so be prepared and reach for this little book of wisdom for inspiration.

5-0 out of 5 stars Like Spending Time With A Friend
This is a charming, down-to-earth, honest little book, filled with important lessons about life. Written with humor and wisdom, it reflects the personality of a fiesty, spirited person determined to make her own mark in the world.
From the first chapter, in which she tells us to "pinpoint our passion" (hers was to be a broadcast journalist), to the second one where she tells us "no job is beneath you" and regales us with tales of learning every aspect of her job, and realizing there were some things she would never do well, and how important it is to be able to take criticism, and down through the others, which deal with such subjects as the necessity of mentors, the value of ethics, and achieving financial independence, we learn, along with Maria, that life is indeed a bumpy ride, with many lessons to teach us.
Particularly interesting were the chapters on husband and children, in which she tells us (as if we didn't know already!) that the Prince Charming and Happily Ever After myths are just that and that life is a compromise and we must make choices. Making the point that it is important to be your own person while at the same time maintaining these vital relationships, she combines the view of the modern woman with old-fashioned values.
By the time we reach the concluding chapter, on Laughter, which she says makes "all the other nine things doable," Maria has become a trusted and valued friend, with whom we have enjoyed spending a few hours.

5-0 out of 5 stars I loved this book
Maria is a great example of a person who is "wired for success". She explains her life and how her definition of success has changed with each stage. I will buy this for my wife and the kids in my church Youth Group. Plus she is funny!

1-0 out of 5 stars A SHRIVELED SHRIVER
The one thing I say now that I read this second book by Mrs. Arnold Schwarzenegger: Hasta la vista, baby. ... Read more

15. Still Me
by Christopher Reeve
list price: $18.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375402810
Catlog: Book (1998-04-25)
Publisher: Random House Audio
Sales Rank: 226900
Average Customer Review: 4.58 out of 5 stars
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Christopher Reeve begins his heroic reading of Still Me with a special introduction, including this message: "Now, this audiobook allows me to communicate with you in a very personal way, second only to being in the same room." Personal indeed. Hearing Reeve tell his account of the near-fatal riding accident on Memorial Day 1995 is a life-altering experience. He seems to struggle through some of the more personal passages, and there's always the slight hissing sound of the respirator, reminding you how difficult an undertaking this must have been. Shortly after the accident, he recalls waking up and thinking, "This can't be my life, there's been a mistake." But by the audiobook's end, not only has hereclaimed his own life, but he's given hope to hundreds of thousands of others around the world with spinal cord injuries. His is a heartfelt tale of triumph over tragedy.

Admittedly he wouldn't be where he is today without the undying love and encouragement of his wife, Dana; when he speaks of her, it's clear that he's as smitten today as he was when they first met. Reeve also credits their young son Will and a huge supporting cast of family and friends. While still in the early days of his long hospital stay, 3-year-old Will asked his mom if his dad would ever be able to walk or to play soccer with him. Dana answered, "We don't know sweetheart, but maybe not." Will thought about this for a moment, and concluded cheerfully, "Well he can still smile." Hearing the actor voice these words causes a powerful tug at your heartstrings.

Reeve talks of having led an incredibly active life before the accident, and laments his inability to do so now, without making you feel sorry for him. Not only was he an accomplished rider, he also was a pilot, a sailor, a skier, and excelled in many other sports. And his participation in, and love for, the theater and the silver screen kept him busy nearly full-time.Still Me begins with the accident, then weaves back and forth between past and present, creating a thorough biography of Reeve's life. Reeve tells of his childhood, his early theater roles and theatrical training, and his first real experience as a public figure following a prominent role in a popular soap opera--a recollection that elicits a chuckle or two from our reader. Though we will likely never see Reeve don tights and a bright red cape again as he did in his unforgettable role of Superman, some believe that he has become the superhero he once merely portrayed. (running time 3 hours, 2 cassettes) --Colleen Preston ... Read more

Reviews (80)

5-0 out of 5 stars A new beginning...
In this part autobiography, part answer to his fan's questions concerning his accident, Christopher Reeve provides an incredible look at his life from both sides of the traumatic accident that left him paralyzed. In reading this book, I found a man quite different from the average "movie star", a very strong and surprisingly complex person who, because of a great inner strength and supportive family and friends, was able to survive and go on with his life after what would surely cause most people to give up on life. Christopher Reeve continues to show himself to be a true "superman".

5-0 out of 5 stars Still Superman, if you ask me.
This book is a testament to the courage and strength it takes to be dealt an almost fatal blow and come away stronger than he was before. Reeve takes us through his life and shows us just how this accident effected his personality and his heart, as well as the obvious physical aspects. I walked away feeling I knew Christopher better than I ever could have other wise. His words draw the reader in to his thoughts, and the reader walks away feeling priveleged to know Superman on a deeper level. Christopher Reeve IS Superman. He writes about his embarassment of "Superman" being struck down so easily, but his experience is just a way of showing us how even Superman has a tough time in this world. We each must fight our own demons. Each of us has it in us to overcome our challenges, and on the way, we have to clear the path for those who will follow us. I found the most touching part to be when Reeve realizes that people love him and each person is worth loving in return just because of that.

5-0 out of 5 stars Inspiration for people working on regenerative medecine
For someone working in the medical industry with stem cells, this book makes me stay longer at work, sleep later at night, and fight more in my meetings for what truly I believe in to make sure I am really doing everything I can to make this future medicine available to our generation.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Intelligent and Informative Autobiography
Having already read Reeve's second book "Nothing is Impossible", I wanted to read his autobiography "Still Me". I truly enjoyed reading the second book. However, I am a little disappointed with "Still Me". In addition to the general tone of the book, I was suprised by the incoherent nature in which this book is presented. While I am sure the biography was once in a more chronological order, I believe the book was deteriorated by poor editting decisions.

The story of Christopher Reeve is tragic. Being confined to a wheel chair for nearly ten years has severely limited the career of a talented actor. Reeve is likely to be remembered type cast to his role as Superman despite this being only a small measure of his acting capabilities. Because of his injury, more than Reeve's acting career was limited. His interactions with family and others have been altered. Additionally, the simple pleasures have been taken away from him. However, Reeve finds unlimited joy in a loving wife and beautiful children. The title of the book is a reflection of this joy.

I found the chapters in which he wrote about his disability and recovery prospects most interesting. Reeve has served as a great ambassador to educate the public about spinal cord injuries. These chapters were intertwined with the chapters of his life and career before the accident. I found the arrangement of chapters distracting from the overall story and tone. Because of the arrangement of the chapters, Reeve comes across as being very bitter. While I know he has reason to be angry, I do not believe that is how he is. For this reason, I believe poor decisions about the layout of the book take away from its quality. Nevertheless, I still found the book to be interesting and entertaining.

5-0 out of 5 stars Inspiration
I have rarely read a book so inspirational & uplifting, as this, the story of a remarkable man who has overcome all odds and come to terms with a totally disabling condition. I was also surprised by the scope and versatility of his acting experience, We all tend to lump Chris Reeve in the "Superman" category. He is a talented and accomplished classical actor of great merit, and respected and revered by most of our "legends" also. I personally feel humbled and ungrateful, when I think of the torment and triumph this wonderful man has shown the world. Good luck Chris. I know you will walk again someday! ... Read more

16. Wasted : A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia
list price: $23.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553525182
Catlog: Book (1998-01-05)
Publisher: Random House Audio
Sales Rank: 792392
Average Customer Review: 4.43 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Precociously intelligent, imaginative, energetic, and ambitious, Marya Hornbacher grew up in a comfortable middle-class American home. At the age of five, she returned home from ballet class one day, put on a enormous sweater, curled up on her bed, and cried--because she thought she was fat. By age nine she was secretly bulimic, throwing up at home after school, while watching Brady Bunch reruns on television and munching Fritos. She added anorexia to her repetoire a few years later and took great pride in her ability to starve.

Marya's story gathers intensity with each passing year. By the time she is in college and working for a wire news service in Washington, D.C., she is in the grip of a bout of anorexia so horrifying that it will forever put to rest the romance of wasting away. Down to fifty-two pounds and counting, Marya becomes a battlefield: her powerful death instinct at war with the will to live.

Why would a talented young girl go through the looking glass and step into a netherworld where up is down, food is greed, and death is honor? Why enter into a love affair with hunger, drugs, sex, and death? Marya sustained both anorexia and bulimia through five lengthy hospitalizations, endless therapy, the loss of family, friends, jobs, and, ultimately, any sense of what it means to be "normal." In this vivid, emotionally wrenching memoir, she recreates the experience and illuminates the tangle of personal, family and cultural causes unlying eating disorders.

Wasted is the story of one woman's travels to the darker side of reality, and her decision to find her way back again--on her own terms. ... Read more

Reviews (306)

4-0 out of 5 stars Triggering, but honest
An eating disorder sufferer myself for 7 years, I was very wary of reading this book, fearing that it would be too triggering during my periods of recovery. However, I finally recently read it, and while it was indeed very triggering in some aspects, I also found that I could relate to Marya frighteningly well. I think that many ED sufferers will feel this way upon reading this book.

Her descriptions of treatment methods that she had experienced rang particularly true to me. Her account of hospitalization on an ED unit was amazing. It seems that we could have almost been hospitalized in the same place. The timed meals, the patient-staff interactions, the fear of facing the dinner plate...all so familiar and honestly rendered. Marya's interactions with ED specialists, therapist, and other doctors are also all too familiar...the phrase "you don't look like you have an eating disorder" that sprinkles the book will be familiar to anyone who has approached their "healthy weight" while still struggling.

I would recommend this book to other sufferers, but with caution. There are some very triggering passages, such as those describing Marya's frightening descent to her low weight of 52 lbs. But if a sufferer is doing well in recovery, this can be an interesting and insightful book on the dangers of what we do to ourselves with these horrible disorders. This book is also good for family or friends of sufferers. While Marya's disorder is obviously of a very severe nature, she exhibits many of the same thoughts and behaviors of sufferers at any weight or stage of their disorder.

5-0 out of 5 stars hm.
i don't know if it's quite fair to condemn ms. hornbacher for her way of telling her story. i can see your point, but i doubt she set out planning to gather up hordes of impressionable girls and invite them into the realm of eating disorders. i think she had to be candid and personal, or else the point would not have come across so harshly and therefore truthful. of course it was dangerous and perhaps even unwise for her to write so openly. but you've got to take into consideration that there's danger in writing any book. discussing drug abuse, self-mutilation, eating disorders..they can all be risky, triggering subjects. ms. hornbacher wrote the book because she felt she needed to get her voice out. she is not responsible and not in control of the way her book affects others, she is not in control of other people's minds. if someone is desperate enough to buy 'wasted' simply for the 'anorexic tips', then maybe it's just as well that they pick it up. hopefully, for their sake, they'll read what is placed before them and take the hint.

5-0 out of 5 stars "WASTED"
I really enjoyed this book. I have read several and this was by-far the most raw.I myself and suffering from Anorexia, and it really left me indiffernt. Many people say "it changed them" but if your at your wit's end it won't change you, rather give you somthing to relate too. I reccomend this book to anybody,maybe it would help somebody else more than I though.

5-0 out of 5 stars It's suprising how lost we can get inside our own bodies
I read this book a few years ago and although I found it interesting, I didn't identify with it nearly as much as I have recently. Eating disorders and psych issues aside, I had a breakdown of monumental proportions and began to read it again. It was only then that I felt like I truly understood (or rather, that she understood me). Marya has lived through a different world than I have but I feel after reading this book that she is someone in whom I could find comfort.

5-0 out of 5 stars Understanding an Eating Disorder
When I first started reading this book, I saw a lot of things I can relate to with Marya. When I was 14, I started down the road of an eating disorder and to this day it's still not over. Reading Marya's story has helped me realized how dangerous this eating disorder can get and places where I don't want to go (The hospital). Even though I have been in the hospital several times due to other problems, I still found that hospitals isn't where I would call, "Home." While reading Marya's story, I felt, I had a friend on the other end who knew exactly what I was going through. I wish I could hug her and cry, due to the fact we understand what it is to go through something like this.

If anyone doesn't know what it's like to go through an eating disorder. This book, "Wasted" will lead you through a journey of a dangerous disorder. You'll see and understand what goes through an anorexic or bulimic mind. Once you're done, you'll have a good view on what an eating disorder is and how it effects a persons mind and body.

If you do not like bad language (there are quite a good number of them in this book), I would prefer you didn't read this book. Overall, this was a great book. ... Read more

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

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

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

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

Reviews (27)

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

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

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

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

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

18. The Man Who Listens to Horses
list price: $18.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679460446
Catlog: Book (1997-08-05)
Publisher: Random House Audio
Sales Rank: 75157
Average Customer Review: 4.34 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Monty Roberts is part James Herriott, part Bill Gates, and part John Wayne. And his story is one you will never forget.

Monty Roberts is a real-life horse whisperer--an American original whose gentle training methods reveal the depth of communication possible between man and animal. He can take a wild, high-strung horse who has never been handled and persuade that horse to accept a bridle, saddle, and rider in thirty minutes.

Monty's powers may seem like magic, but his amazing "horse senseis based on a lifetime of experience. He started riding at the age of two, and at the age of thirteen went alone in the high deserts of Nevada to study mustangs in the wild. In The Man Who Listens to Horses, Roberts tells about his early days as a rodeo rider, his problems with his violent, horse-trainer father, his friendship with James Dean, and the invitation that changed his life--to demonstrate his methods to the Queen of England.

From his groundbreaking work with horses, Monty now takes his understanding of nonverbal communication and applies it to human relationships as well. He has shown that between parent and child, employer and employee, and abuser and abused, there are forms of communication far stronger than the spoken word--forms accessible to all who will learn to listen. He's shared his insights with more than 250 corporations, including General Motors, IBM, Disney, and Merrill Lynch; now listeners can learn from Monty first-hand.

"Wild horses should not drag you away from finding out more about Monty Roberts."
--The Independent
... Read more

Reviews (173)

5-0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Informative
As a horse crazy teenager, I will read any horse book I can get my hands on. So when I recived this book I dove right in. As I got further and further into the book it got harder to tear myself away from it. I thought it was increadible that he could earn the trust of a wild mustang and have it ready to ride in 30 to 45 min. The way he and the horse communicate is just amazing. The horse listens to him and he listens back. My favorite thing he does is that he does not use violence to break in the horses. When some people use violence to break in the horses, the horse might then interpurt that that person means he is going to get hurt. I can't stand to see horses in pain so what I think Monty Roberts is diong is wonderful. I just wish that there are more trainers like him in the world.

5-0 out of 5 stars Inspiring story of horses, humans, and search for harmony
This is the amazing life story of Monty Roberts. Monty has been called a modern day horse whisperer, although the language he uses with horses has nothing to do with whispering-except, perhaps, for its subtlety and gentleness. Monty learned the language he calls Equus from a band of wild horses that he observed as a youth in the American West. While the book isn't about Monty's methods per se, it is about Monty's life and therefore about how his methods were shaped. Monty can, using a round pen and the language of Equus, achieve what he calls "join-up" with a green, unschooled (and even difficult) horse and within a half hour have that horse under saddle and calmly carrying its first rider. All this with absolutely no use of force or harsh means. Monty has used join-up to "fix" countless "problem horses" whose worst problems were typically their human handlers.

The book does include a brief appendix as a guide for "join-up." In it, Monty advises, "Hold in your mind the idea that the horse can do no wrong; that any action taken by the horse-especially the young unstarted horse-was most likely influenced by you. We can do little to teach the horse; we can only create an environment in which he can learn... If we refuse to believe that the horse can communicate, pain can be used to train him somewhat effectively. But pain is needless and terribly limiting."

This is a book for everyone, including those unafflicted by "horse fever." You are treated to encounters with such legends as James Dean and Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and completely riveted by events one can hardly believe were not conjured by a Hollywood scriptwriter. Here is an inspiring story of hope with a message of peace and understanding. As a child and as an adult, Monty has come face to face with and experienced the brutality that can occur in the world. Monty is living proof that the cycle of violence can not only be broken, but that people can learn to live in harmony with each other and with our fellow creatures. I highly recommend this tribute to the human and equine spirit for horse lovers, students of the human condition and those just looking for a great read. My gratitude to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth for encouraging Monty to write it down!

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Gift for Horse Lovers and Riders
Monty Roberts has done the horse world a great service by sharing his non-violent training methods with us. His love of horses leaps off of every page as he describes the old training ways of his father and the conflicts and punishment he endured to continue with his training methods using horse language and body language. This is a pleasure to read and a learning tool to teach all of us who work with horses how to understand their fears and gain their trust.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Man of Knowledge- Not Magic
Monty Roberts, no doubt, is a man of great horsemanship and understanding of the equine world, but he is not alone. Long before Roberts studied the equestrian arts and wild herds, Natives learned the language of "horse" and passed it on to Spanish conquistadors. Even someone with basic horsemanship could learn the body language and commmunicate. I have experimented with something very similar to "join up" just by sending my horse around the round pen. So whether you are Monty Roberts or not, you can still communicate with horses.

However, this book was a nice refresher course for my friend who has missed out on interaction with horses for several years. She got a lot from it, and being the type of rider who shows up and rides, she learned to respect her horse and build a dominance and a relationship that worked in unison. I would recommend this book to someone with very little to moderate horse experience and have not yet learned the values of horse and man communication.

The deer section is quite cool, though! It's not everyday you hear of a horse trainer talking (or shall I say listening...) to a deer!

Yours Truly,
The Equestrian Critique

5-0 out of 5 stars A great trainer, a great technique, and a great book!
This is a fascinating autobiography of one of the most sought-after horse trainers in the world. Monty Roberts takes us from his childhood, growing up on a ranch in California, all the way up through the years right before the book was first published in 1996. He learned to ride at a very young age and was quite successful on the rodeo circuit and in reined cow horse competitions. But what really gave him his ambition to develop a method of communicating with horses was the abuse with which he saw his father treat horses, and the the abuse he himself received from his father. Convinced that there must be a better way to train horses, he observed the behavior of mustangs, and ultimately came up with a technique he calls 'join-up'.

'Join-up' involves working with a horse in a round pen, first encouraging the horse to flee around the perimeter by making steady eye contact and assuming an imposing stance. The handler then watches for three tell-tale signs that the horse wishes to communicate - first the horse will lock his inside ear on the handler, then begin licking and chewing, and finally lower his head near the ground as he travels around the pen. Once the horse has given these signals, the handler takes his/her eyes off the horse and shifts away from from the animal. At this point the horse will usually come up behind the handler and stand very close, allowing the handler to touch him. Then the horse can be saddled, bridled, and at last, mounted and ridden. (This is a very truncated explanation - the book goes into much more detail.)

Of course Roberts was not the first to use methods like these. Some other reviewers here have complained about this fact, accusing him of taking undue credit. But Roberts himself admits this in his book. He points out that there were trainers in previous centuries that tried (and had success with) similar methods, but that for whatever reason these methods did not take a firm hold on the general equestrian population. So yes, Roberts does do a lot of self-promotion here (another thing some have complained about), but this is because he's attempting to spread the word about his method of training. He is using the book first and foremost to sell his technique, but this is because he wishes to make the training experience a better one for horses.

This book takes us through Roberts' journey of learning, and all the trials and triumphs that led him to where he is today. He tells us of his experience with mustangs, his successful childhood riding career, the encounters with his father that helped shape his own way of thinking, the development (and narrowly-avoided disaster) of his Thoroughbred racehorse facility Flag Is Up Farms, various success stories of his 'join-up' method, his meeting with Queen Elizabeth II of England, his many tours to demonstrate his techniques, and even his succes in using 'join-up' with wild deer. He also introduces us to the horses that have shaped his life and carved a place for themselves in his heart - Brownie, his childhood mount; Johnny Tivio, his all-time favorite; and Dually, his most recent mount.

Toward the end of the book there is a 'How To' appendix describing in detail the 'join-up' technique. Roberts lists all the necessary equipment (nothing fancy is needed - everything is standard equipment that any horse owner should already have; the only thing you may have to 'borrow' is the round pen itself if you do not have one), and takes us through the procedure in a clear step-by-step fashion. He explains the purpose of each aspect of 'join-up' and how the horse will perceive the handler's actions. He also explains the meaning of the horse's responses to these actions. The appendix is very easy to follow and the technique is simple enough that it is easy to remember afterward, without having to lug the book to the arena with you.

The book concludes with an afterword by Lawrence Scanlan, the author of 'Riding High' and co-author (with Ian Millar) of 'Big Ben'. Scanlan describes his experience observing the 'mustang project' that Roberts embarked upon in 1997. This takes us briefly into the story of Shy Boy, a small mustang stallion Roberts attempts to gentle (in the wild, not in a pen) with his 'join-up' technique. The afterword is very short. Roberts went on to write about his experience with Shy Boy in his next book 'Shy Boy: The Horse that Came in from the Wild'. I have not read that one yet, but plan to soon, as I was very impressed with 'The Man Who Listens to Horses'. I would highly recommend it to anyone involved with horses. ... Read more

19. Benjamin Franklin : An American Life
by Walter Isaacson
list price: $26.00
our price: $17.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 074353364X
Catlog: Book (2003-07-01)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Sales Rank: 24962
Average Customer Review: 4.39 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Benjamin Franklin is the founding father who winks at us -- an ambitious urban entrepreneur who rose up the social ladder, from leather-aproned shopkeeper to dining with kings.

In bestselling author Walter Isaacson's vivid and witty full-scale biography, we discover why Franklin turns to us from history's stage with eyes that twinkle from behind his new-fangled spectacles. In Benjamin Franklin, Isaacson shows how Franklin defines both his own time and ours.

The most interesting thing that Franklin invented, and continually reinvented, was himself. America's first great publicist, he was consciously trying to create a new American archetype. In the process, he carefully crafted his own persona, portrayed it in public, and polished it for posterity. His guiding principle was a "dislike of everything that tended to debase the spirit of the common people." Few of his fellow founders felt this comfort with democracy so fully, and none so intuitively.

In this colorful and intimate narrative, Isaacson provides the full sweep of Franklin's amazing life, from his days as a runaway printer to his triumphs as a statesman, scientist, and Founding Father. He chronicles Franklin's tumultuous relationship with his illegitimate son and grandson, his practical marriage, and his flirtations with the ladies of Paris. He also shows how Franklin helped to create the American character and why he has a particular resonance in the twenty-first century. ... Read more

Reviews (98)

5-0 out of 5 stars A great effort.
Walter Isaacson's "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life" is an excellent biography of the eldest of the American founding fathers. Isaacson's writing style is incisive, so the book is never dull. Many Americans tend to view the founding fathers as god-like patriots; but Isaacson is able to show Franklin's flaws through the many refrences to Franklin's correspondences. Isaacson also extensively covers Franklin's pragmatism and frugality through many examples from his letters and other records.

I can't compare this book to any of the other popular Franklin books because I haven't read them, but I would reccomend this book for a less analytical, though not superficial, read. I say this because it was written by a journalist - journalists tend to be incisive and easier for most to read than scholers. If you would enjoy a more psychological view into Franklin's character, HG Wells' version would probably be more appropriate.

5-0 out of 5 stars An American Renaissance Man
Publisher, philosopher, scientist, inventor, and statesman - Walter Isaacson's "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life" is a fascinating portrait of our Founding Father's most senior citizen. But it is also an outstanding history of American life in the 18th century, first as a colony, then in the struggle for independence. The role of France in the American Revolution - and Franklin's role in securing that key alliance - unfolds with a clarity I'd not previously encountered. And Franklin's often-combative relationship with John Adams is a riveting character study, especially when balanced by McCullough's biography of Adams. In vivid detail and painstaking research, Isaacson's Franklin is brilliant, but still an enigma. Despite unquestionably high morality, we see a ruthless businessman. While possessing an obvious love for socializing - especially with members of the opposite sex - his immediate family is effectively abandoned, as Franklin lives virtually parallel lives between Europe and America. We see Franklin typically charitable and charming, yet alternately cold and calculating. Yet despite his foibles and flaws, Franklin emerges deservedly as "the most accomplished American of his age." And given the breadth of these accomplishments, an argument could be made "for any age". In summary, Isaacson achieves the rare combination of an important and scholarly biography that at the same time is a lively and entertaining story of America and one of our greatest Americans.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Portrayal of the Most Versatile American
Let me first start off by saying that I have read few biographies. But Isaacson made a biography that is both readable and balanced between Franklin's personal and professional life. Franklin was the true founding father that believed in the common man. Franklin was not perfect but he believed in fair treatment for all. America would have advanced much slower if it was not for Ben. Probably his greatest contribution to our society was the feeling of helping one another. He helped form the first fire station, post office, police force (much less his inventions) - his work had community written all over it. All of his work was done with the premise of helping mankind. Maybe other founders fought the wars and wrote the documents. But we survived all these years because we formed a community; the idea that as Americans we have to all work together. That is Franklin's legacy to our nation. I will read biographies on the other founders (Hamilton, Jefferson, Adams and Washington) to gain a more complete perspective on how this country started. This book lays an excellent foundation and is a must read for those interested in the origins of America through the eyes of one of its greatest citizens.

5-0 out of 5 stars An outstanding biography of a remarkable man
Walter Isaacson, former chairman of CNN and managing editor of Time Magazine, has written an immensely readable and informative biography of Benjamin Franklin that never gets too stuffy or bogged down in meaningless minutae. Instead, we are treated to a fascinating glimpse at a man who was early America's greatest publisher, scientist, politician, inventor and diplomat.

We all have our pre-conceived notions of Franklin, including him out flying his kite to try and link electricity with lightning, or him dozing off during the lengthy and tedious deliberations at the Constitutional Convention. Isaacson peels back the layers of the story a bit, reminding us how often our vision of Franklin derives from Franklin's own pen, such as the vision of the young teen arriving in Philadelphia with loaves of bread, looking ridiculous as he passed by the window of his future wife (a scene written by Franklin at age 65 when he penned his autobiography).

The book does a very good job not only of recounting the many accomplishments of Franklin, but also of exploring his middle class ideals and values. For example, Isaacson's book reminds us that while Franklin was never terribly pious or religious throughout his life, he favored organized religion because churches encouraged citizens to behave well, and to do good things. There was always a sense of pragmatism and public service in everything Franklin did and believed in. As a publisher, if he thought a public policy or official was wrong and needed to be criticized publicly, he would invent characters (to avoid libel suits) to write humorous and sometimes scathing attacks that were basically anonymous.

The book also dwells repeatedly on the Franklin's love and admiration of the middle class as the real core of American society. While Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia as a college for southern gentlemen, Franklin founded the University of Pennsylvania to serve a much larger, and more low-brow, populace. As a statesman, it is remarkable that Franklin (despite many years abroad as an effective French ambassador) was a participant and signer of virtually every key treaty/document in colonial history, including the Albany Plan of the Union, the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Peace Treaty with England, and the Constitution. His spirit of compromise and his sage demeanor no doubt helped bridge the gap which sharply divided members of the Constitutional Convention. He occasionally flip-flopped on an issue, including his views on the Stamp Act and his belief in the possibility of conciliation with Britain, but without his sense of compromise the Constitution would never have made it in its present, remarkable form.

Isaacson also explores the personal side of Franklin, including his strained relationship (and ultimate lack of a relationship) with his loyalist son, who became governor of New Jersey, as well as his relatively harmless flirting with the ladies of French society while he was abroad. The contrasts in his character, and that of John Adams (who was sent out to France to work with him on the French alliance), was remarkable. Both great men to be sure, but they could not be more unalike, and their pairing was an unfortunate one.

The book ends with a wonderful chapter titled "Conclusions" in which Franklin's place in history, and the changing attitudes towards his character over the years, are explored. The Trascendentalists like Emerson and Thoreau had little use for Ben, as he was too practical and mundane for their "rarefied tastes", but as the country became more industrial and Horatio Alger novels became the rage, Franklin's work ethic and maxims were embraced all over again. Ultimately Isaacson points out that as a writer he was "more Mark Twain and less William Shakespeare", and as a scientist he was more like Edison than Newton. Always witty and charming, if not profound, he probably did more than anyone in history to try and advance the common good, through civic associations, libraries, volunteer fire departments, post offices, etc. I put the book down terribly impressed with Franklin the man, and Isaacson the biographer.

1-0 out of 5 stars Walter Isaacson: Mr. Shallow, An American Life
As a direct descendant of Simon Meredith (1663-1745), father of Hugh Meredith, Benjamin Franklin's erstwhile business partner in Philadelphia, I looked forward with great interest to Isaacson's much touted book, and immediately consulted it between flights, looking up Cousin Hugh. With respect to Hugh, Isaacson, like so many predecessors, again proved shallow, inept, under informed and a grand source of misinformation: as we Merediths know all too well, Franklin simply stiffed Simon and dumped Hugh after the venerable Ben had gained a virtual monopoly to print money. Isaacson remains oblivious of the fact that the Simon Merediths of Radnorshire, members of a medieval college of physicians and clerics, were and remain one of the most distinguished Welsh-American families this country has ever known. I realize Isaacson is reputedly a great publicist and business person, but as an historian and researcher he remains woefully ignorant. Welcome to another silly, sorry Franklin read. ... Read more

20. A Great Improvisation : Franklin, France, and the Birth of America
list price: $32.95
our price: $22.41
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0739320378
Catlog: Book (2005-03-22)
Publisher: Random House Audio
Sales Rank: 490363
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Benjamin Franklin began the "the most taxing assignment of his life" at the age of 70: to secure the aid of the French monarchy in helping the fledgling United States establish their republic. The job required tremendous skill, finesse, and discretion, and as Stacy Schiff makes clear in this brilliant book, Franklin was the ideal American, perhaps the only one, to take on the task, due in large part to his considerable personal prestige. One of the most famous men in the world when he landed in France in December 1776, his arrival caused a sensation--he was celebrated as a man of genius, a successor to Newton and Galileo, and treated as a great dignitary, even though the nation he represented was less than a year old and there were many doubts as to whether it would see its second birthday. Though he had no formal diplomatic training and spoke only rudimentary French, Franklin managed to engineer the Franco-American alliance of 1778 and the peace treaty of 1783, effectively inventing American foreign policy as he went along, in addition to serving as chief diplomat, banker, and director of American naval affairs.

Franklin recognized and accepted the fact that French aid was crucial to American independence, but some Founding Fathers resented him for making America dependent on a foreign power and severely attacked him for securing the very aid that saved the cause. Schiff offers fascinating coverage of this American infighting, along with the complex political intrigue in France, complete with British spies and French double agents, secret negotiations and backroom deals. A Great Improvisation is an entertaining and illuminating portrait of Franklin's seven-year adventure in France that "stands not only as his greatest service to his country but the most revealing of the man." --Shawn Carkonen ... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Lively, witty, and fun
Founding Fathers are hot stuff these days. Benjamin Franklin, with two major bios in the past three years (Morgan and Isaacson) and re-publication of others by H.W. Brands and Gordon Wood, may be the hottest. Into this crowd wades Stacy Schiff, whose elegant and witty biography of Vera Nabokov won a 2000 Pulitzer (and whose previous bio of Saint-Exupéry garnered a nomination). Why step from uncommon byways onto a crowded boulevard?

Happily, Schiff's breezy, cosmopolitan, but never superficial style is excellently suited to the open-minded satirist and scientist, and a tale that reads like a cruel farce. _A Great Improvisation_ focuses on just eight years of Franklin's 84-year life, starting in 1776 when he was sent to Paris by the Continental Congress at the age of 70 to get France into the war. Fortunately, France regarded Franklin as a celebrity genius, which was more than many of his colleagues back home in Congress thought of him.

Franklin was "honest, but not too honest, which qualifies in France as a failure of imagination." He could "indulge in the ingenious and wholly specious argument, a staple of French conversation." His defense of French admiral d'Estaing was "a shining tribute to benevolent ignorance. (And one that happened accidentally to be accurate.)" Surrounded by spies, he had papers and money stolen. The other Americans in Paris squabbled endlessly with one another, accusing the French of deceit and intrigue even more than the British. Franklin's co-commissioner, Arthur Lee, "was ideally suited for the mission in every way save for his personality, which was rancid."

Poor trans-Atlantic communications enabled the Paris delegation's enemies to poison Congress against them, especially Franklin, who risked censure several times. He also was beset by psoriasis boils, gout and bladder stones. Schiff does not neglect Franklin's poor relations with much of his family, and his flirtations with French ladies, widowed and married. It's a wonder it all came out so well. Not a little of the credit goes to Franklin's skill as "a natural diplomat, genial and ruthless." When he was "rebuffed, he played hard to get"!

France ended up backing the colonies' successful revolution with men, arms, ships, and aid that would be worth $13 billion today. Americans who carp about Gallic "ingratitude" for their 1940s rescue might consider whether we were paying a 160-year-old debt.

With writing this good, it's startling to encounter a false note: more than once, Schiff uses "adverse" when "averse" is the word she wants. The book also shows rare but regrettable signs of sloppy editing. Franklin's grandson Temple is said to be 18 upon their arrival in Paris in mid 1777, but thirty pages and five months later he is 17. The news of Burgoyne's capture as a prisoner after the Battle of Saratoga is reported to hit Paris on Dec. 4, 1778, which is a year late.

Nevertheless, Schiff handles a broad array of characters and events with élan. Her book reads like a spirited production by Merchant-Ivory.

5-0 out of 5 stars Delicious Prose + Compelling Story = Great Read
Populated by characters worthy of Dickens (including a theatrical producer, a dyspeptic diplomat and a female impersonator), ranging from back alleys to country estates to the royal court, combining elements of espionage, political deal-making, dangerous liaisons and the price of fame, "A Great Improvisation" has a you-are-there immediacy and tells an irresistible story that just happens to be at the heart of our survival as a country.

5-0 out of 5 stars Spy vs. Spy
"Silas Deane was stranded in Paris, sick with anxiety, and nearly out of invisible ink."Every book should begin this well. All the wonderful adjectives others have used to describe this book are true.

A tip: if by chance you are writer and you give this book to your mother and after finishing it she asks why you can't write like Stacy Schiff, the best reply is just, "Who can?" Then leave the room and count to ten.

5-0 out of 5 stars Without Whom, There Would Be No America
In dazzling prose and with impeccable research, Stacy Schiff illuminates one of the most important, and until now grossly overlooked, factors in our country's independence, Benjamin Franklin's successful negotiations with the French to aid the colonists' cause. Without Franklin's wisdom, charisma and diplomatic skills, we might still be singing God Save the Queen/King. This is a compelling, engaging story that brings history to life. A great read!

5-0 out of 5 stars Ben Franklin's Wartime Adventures In Paris (1776-1785)
With the spate of recent biographies of Benjamin Franklin over the past 5 years, Stacy Schiff has narrrowed her focused upon his diplomatic mission to France during the American Revoluntion. Without Mr. Franklin's successful wartime treaties with the French, the American Revolution would have certainly failed.

Well-written, interesting and meticulously researched, this book is for the reader with an interest in diplomacy and a desire for further details of Mr. Franklin's personal exploits in Paris. "A Great Improvisation" highlights the non-military "battles" of the American Revolution.

For a broader perspective, the reader is referred to the fine biographies of H.W. Brand's "The First American" (2000) at 760 pages, Walter Isaacson's "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life" (2003) at 600 pages and Gordon Wood's "The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin" (2004) at 300 pages. Mr. Brand's work devotes over 100 pages to Franklin's diplomacy during the same time period. ... Read more

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