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21. Bono: In Conversation with Michka
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22. The Peabody Sisters : Three Women
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23. Princesses : The Six Daughters
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24. Three Weeks with My Brother
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25. John Brown, Abolitionist : The
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26. Take Big Bites: Adventures Around
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27. It's Not About the Bike: My Journey
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28. iCon Steve Jobs : The Greatest
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29. Big Russ and Me: Father and Son--Lessons
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30. Night
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31. The Smartest Guys In The Room:
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32. Stalin : A Biography,
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33. An Unquiet Mind : A Memoir of
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34. Lucky Child : A Daughter of Cambodia
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35. One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan
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36. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir
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37. Ten Things I Wish I'd Known Before
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38. Diane Arbus Revelations
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39. John Kenneth Galbraith : His Life,
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40. The Treehouse : Eccentric Wisdom

21. Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas
by Michka Assayas
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
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Asin: 1573223093
Catlog: Book (2005-04-21)
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover
Sales Rank: 160
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

For the first time ever, Bono--the biggest rock star in the world--tells his life story.

Bono's career is unlike any other in rock history. As the lead singer of U2, Bono has sold 130 million albums, won fourteen Grammys, and played numerous sold-out world tours, but he has also lobbied and worked with world leaders from Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to Nelson Mandela on debt relief, AIDS, and other critical global issues. He has collaborated with the same musicians for nearly three decades and has been married to his childhood sweetheart since 1982. His life, at all turns, resists the rock star clichés.

In a series of intimate conversations with his friend Michka Assayas, a music journalist who has been with the band since the very beginning, Bono reflects on his transformation from the extrovert singer of a small Irish post-punk band into one of the most famous individuals in the world; and from an international celebrity to an influential spokesperson for the Third World. He speaks candidly about his faith, family, commitment, influences, service, and passion. Bono: A Self-Portrait in Conversationis the closest we will come, for now, to a memoir from the iconic frontman of U2.
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Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Conversations Between Friends
If you wanted to ask Bono a question, what would it be?

Would it be about the music?

Would it be about his personal life? Perhaps the deaths of his parents?

Would you ask about the formation of the most successful band in history?

Perhaps you'd want to know more about his work in support of AIDS and hunger releif.

All of these questions, and many, many more are asked and answered in this book. In fact, almost the whole book is a series of questions that ramble from subject to subject with no pattern. These questions and answers are like a normal conversation flows between friends.

Because they are friends, a true respect exists between the two men and it comes out in the book. This means that there is great insight shown into how Bono thinks. And it comes out that he thinks very well indeed.

This is a fascinating book, not just because of the fascination with the singer, but because of the insight he brings to us about places like Africa and the Soviet Union.

4-0 out of 5 stars Trip inside Bono's head
U2 is the greatest band of my lifetime.How could I resist 323 pages of Bono pontificating?Obviously, I couldn't.Is Bono a little self-indulgent?You bet.Does he avoid dishing the dirt?Absolutely.But he does provide quite a bit of insight into what makes him tick.He is a remarkable human being.

This is by no means a "tell all" book.The book briefly mentions Adam's problems with addiction, which were so bad at one point that he actually just didn't show up for a show in Sydney, a show that was being filmed for TV!But there aren't any details.There's some lip service paid to the group's (minus Adam) involvement with Shalom Christianity (a group devoted to understanding the Scriptures), but again, no real details.The details we get in this book are the little ones that make up day-to-day family life, past and present..., and ALOT about Africa.6500 Africans die each day of a preventable, treatable disease.It's hard to argue when Bono suggests that deep down we don't really believe in their equality. Bono's trip to Africa after the Live Aid concert seems to be a real turning-point in his life, and there are many pages devoted to his time there and his efforts to bring Africa's problems to the world's attention.

But it's not all heavy seriousness.There's alot of poking fun at Bono's admittedly giant ego.Naturally, there are more than a few great quotes:"I can do the high-life; I can do the low-life; it's the in-between that gives me trouble."I'm paraphrasing.I've started using the line myself, and have kind of made it my own, as I did with, "The God I believe in isn't short of cash, mister...."Back to the heavy stuff, there's some interesting commentary on the Sandinistas and the events that inspired "Bullet the Blue Sky".Bono saw things first-hand.

Naturally, there's some talk about other musicians.Bono clearly loves Prince.Oddly, it appears that Bono thinks The Rolling Stones (the only band I can think of with the longevity and enduring creativity of U2) as almost fluffy pop musicians.He doesn't come out and say it, but it's between the lines.

In short, the book is a must-read for the U2 fan, and a great read for people curious about the life of a very unique individual who might very well one day win the Nobel Peace Prize.It's missing the stories of sex and drugs, but it's clear, despite what Bono might have said on God Part II, that rock and roll can really change the world.

5-0 out of 5 stars A humbling perspective of a man in power....
I must admit that when I saw this book, I was hesitant at first to read it.I thought it was going to be another "entertainment book" about U2 and their career.Little did I realize that this book is very in-depth about "the man behind the shades".Bono shares his joys, his struggles, and his adventure in this book.It covers anything from his family, his inadequacy as a celebrity, the workings of U2, his activism, faith, and other topics.This book is definitely a must read for anyone who loves U2's music and wants to gain a better understanding of Bono.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fascinating look into Bono's character
A long-time fan of U2's music and impressed by Bono's activisim, I was anxious to read this new book. And I loved it! I couldn't put it down!

Written in a coversational style, I at first thought it may be difficult to follow. Instead, I pleasantly realized that it made me feel as if I was listening to Bono talk to a group of which I was part. Because we are actually reading his words, I thinkwe really get a look into Bono's mind - or even his soul.

Every topic I could want to hear Bono talk about is covered - his music, the band, his family, his belief in God, and his activism. It had it all.

I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about what makes Bono tick. It confirmed to me that he has a very big heart, a great intellect, and incredible talent.

Enjoy! ... Read more


22. The Peabody Sisters : Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism
by Megan Marshall
list price: $28.00
our price: $18.48
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Asin: 0395389925
Catlog: Book (2005-04-13)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Sales Rank: 794
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Book Description

Elizabeth, Mary, and Sophia Peabody were in many ways our American Brontes. The story of these remarkable sisters — and their central role in shaping the thinking of their day — has never before been fully told. Twenty years in the making, Megan Marshall's monumental biograpy brings the era of creative ferment known as American Romanticism to new life.
Elizabeth, the oldest sister, was a mind-on-fire thinker. A powerful influence on the great writers of the era — Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau among them — she also published some of their earliest works. It was Elizabeth who prodded these newly minted Transcendentalists away from Emerson's individualism and toward a greater connection to others. Mary was a determined and passionate reformer who finally found her soul mate in the great educator Horace Mann. The frail Sophia was a painter who won the admiration of the preeminent society artists of the day. She married Nathaniel Hawthorne — but not before Hawthorne threw the delicate dynamics among the sisters into disarray.
Marshall focuses on the moment when the Peabody sisters made their indelible mark on history. Her unprecedented research into these lives uncovered thousands of letters never read before as well as other previously unmined original sources. The Peabody Sisters casts new light on a legendary American era. Its publication is destined to become an event in American biography.
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23. Princesses : The Six Daughters of George III
by FLORA FRASER
list price: $30.00
our price: $19.80
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Asin: 0679451188
Catlog: Book (2005-04-05)
Publisher: Knopf
Sales Rank: 1717
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Dutiful Daughters
Flora Fraser is the next generation in the fine biographical/historical tradition of her mother Lady Antonia Fraser and her late grandmother Elizabeth (Countess of) Longford.Like her forebears, Fraser combines scholarship with an elegant and witty writing style to produce books whichilluminate and engage.

King George III's six daughters tend to get short shrift from historians and biographers who focus on their father, their brothers, and their niece Queen Victoria. The prevailing picture of them is of six mousy women pushed into the background.Fraser has pulled Charlotte, Augusta, Elizabeth, Mary, Sophia, and Amelia out of the shadows and let us see that they had strong personalities and lives of their own.

The six princesses were victims of circumstance even more than most eighteenth century royal women.Ordinarily they would have been married off to men they scarcely knew almost as soon as they reached puberty in order to strengthen Britain's alliances.George III, however, had been horrified by the ill treatment two of his own sisters received at the hands of unloving husbands, and he was determined that his own daughters would not suffer such a fate.Unfortunately his paternal affections did not extend to allowing his daughters to marry Englishmen they loved, and only meant that he turned down overtures from many foreign princes, usually without consulting his daughters at all. Furthermore, as the princesses reached marriageable age the French Revolution and Napoleonic Warsmeant many possible suitors were now the enemies of Britain and thus out of bounds. Finally, George III's bouts of madness/porphyria attacks made him unable to entertain marriage offers, and his wife Queen Charlotte's deep depression over her husband's malady meant that she could not be a matchmaker either.

Bereft of the chance to be proper wives and mothers (the only acceptable role for nearly all women of the period) the princesses lived under their parents' noses well into middle age.They developed literary and artistic interests and were patrons of British charities, and managed little flirtations and dalliances here and there with gentlemen of the court.One of Augusta's liaisons possibly ended in (an illegal) marriage, while Sophia actually produced an illegitimate child.The princesses were dutiful and loving children to their increasingly difficult parents and were supportive siblings to their rackety brothers, who were also denied the chance to legally marry women they loved.

It was only in middle age that some of the daughters married, Charlotte and Elizabeth to German princelings, Mary to an English cousin.Charlotte probably had the most adventurous life, living in Wurttemburg right through several invasions by Napoleon and having to flee for her life at one point (Fraser's description of her life in temporary exile, accompanied by two kangaroos, is among the most amusing of the many anecdotes in the book.)

The fine human qualities of the daughters are well portrayed here.I felt sorriest for Amelia, whose unrequited love for an English officer lasted until her death in 1810.I was impressed with the lovethe daughters showed for their parents and their brothers, and by the love their brothers gave them in return. (Usually the later Hanoverians are depicted asself-indulgent reprobates devoid of any finer qualities.) Finally, the love and regard the daughters had for each other, going to great trouble to visit when one was ill for example, is admirable.

The final years of the daughters were quiet, marked by illness and decline, but I was glad to see that they were not lonely ones, but rather filled with visits from their surviving siblings and other relations and friends.There is a charming photograph in the book of Queen Victoria with two of her children visiting Mary, the last survivor.It is a fitting end to this story of six women who, though related to some of the wealthiest and most powerful people of their time, enjoyed unassuming and generally unremarked upon lives.

5-0 out of 5 stars Six Lives Stories, Well Told
Perhaps best known in the United States as being the British king who wanted the colonies to pay for military protection with things like the tax on tea, George III was King of England from 1760 until 1820. He fathered fifteen children, six of whom were daughters, this is their story.

The King's growing madness is heavily emphasized in this story. And this is fitting because this was a growing part of the lives of the children. Ms. Fraser did a remarkable job with this book. It is based on the extensive letters between Queen Charlotte and the six girls. It is not a typical biography talking of the major events of King George's rule, it is the personal story of this group of women trying to live a semi-normal life amidst life at the court.

It is a fascinating book that looks at a time far removed from ours. ... Read more


24. Three Weeks with My Brother
by Micah Sparks, Nicholas Sparks
list price: $22.00
our price: $15.40
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Asin: 0446532444
Catlog: Book (2004-04-13)
Publisher: Warner Books
Sales Rank: 504
Average Customer Review: 4.44 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

As moving as his bestselling works of fiction,Nicholas Sparks's unique memoir, written with his brother, chronicles the life affirming journey of two brothers bound by memories, both humorous and tragic. ... Read more

Reviews (48)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Summer Reading
I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the Spark's family and about the journey around the world and through childhood of these two brothers. I was deeply touched to be given such insight into the author's life and it made you realize that no matter how good someone's life looks on the outside, you never know really what is going on/has happened behind the smile/tears. This book is different from his others since it was inspired by his own life not someone else's (also enjoyed learning where he came up with the ideas for other characters in previous books)...truly an enjoyable book to read. I loved how he mixed past and present stories with his trip with his brother. Kept it very interesting.

3-0 out of 5 stars Skip the Travelogue, Read the Memoir
If anyone advised Nicholas Sparks to abandon couching his memoir within a travelogue, he should have paid attention. Sparks's thoughts about the wondrous places he visits -- Machu Picchu, Easter Island, Agra, among others -- are silly and shallow. Plus he and his nominal co-author brother proudly portray themselves as buffoons and philistines. You want to slap them both on the back of the head and tell them to at least be quiet if they can't behave.

On the other hand, the bulk of the book, which details the series of tragedies that have overwhelmed the brothers' adult lives -- deaths of parents and a sibling, as well as the rearing of an autistic child -- is sad but compelling, and ultimately encouraging, because it is written from the heart.

I also think another book -- perhaps it will take the form of a novel -- needs to be written about the Sparks' mother. Nicholas professes unblemished love and respect and devotion to the woman, who died tragically at 47, just weeks after his marriage. However, she was a complicated character whose parenting of her three children was often questionable at best. Perhaps additional time is needed for him to examine her -- and his own feelings about her -- more honestly.

5-0 out of 5 stars Full Of Heart
Thats exactly what this book has-Full Of Heart. The brothers go through so much together, life is a challenge, sometimes so unfair but the one thing-the clearest thing spoken is that they have the ultimate gift-Love. Full of heart! Also recommended: Other Memoirs-A Child Called It, Father Joe,Running With Scissors,Nightmares Echo

5-0 out of 5 stars "Three Weeks" is a great read
Like many others who have reviewed this book, I have read all of Nicholas Sparks' previous books. I completely enjoyed reading this book as well. I think some reviewers missed the point of the book, unfortunately. It is not a "travel" book and it is not a "spiritual" book. It is a memoir, an autobiography, of the author and his brother's life experiences. I was drawn into the story on many levels - the familial relationships, the growing up years in Fair Oaks, the heartbreaking traumas endured. I think it is wonderful that Cathy and Christine were in favor of this trip for the brothers. They truly are saints (it's nice to know that both Nick and Micah truly understand that!). It makes me sad to think that Micah and Nick are so far apart (physically), but the book is a beautiful reminder that love knows no bounds. And aren't they lucky to have each other. I don't think they come off as pretentious at all...they're all they've got, it doesn't get more real than that. I think it must be amazing for Nick to look back and realize where he was and where he is now (and that he thanks God for all the blessings). I think writing this book must have been very cathartic for him, at least I would hope it was. And that he can still rely on his faith to carry him through the difficult times...we all have them, even if we aren't best selling authors or successful businessmen. It's interesting that as I read the book, I kept reminding myself that this wasn't one of his novels...this stuff really happened. And though some of the antics that he and his brother did on the three week trip were borderline-out-of-control, it was funny. I could see me and my brother and sisters doing stuff like that! Micah seems to be a good reminder to relax, enjoy life and have fun. I hope that they both benefitted from traveling together and spending quality time together like that...and that there was some healing in the pains suffered after living through so many tragedies...especially for Nick. Micah seems to deal with life and it's ups and downs well enough...I mean, if not going to church and questioning his faith are the worst things that he has endured, then good for him. I think writing the book for Nicholas probably has helped him move forward, which sounds like he is doing. God bless him, his brother and their families. Now I think I need to make a run downtown to get some Zelda's and beer myself! :)

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written!
This is a different kind of book but wonderful! Any Sparks fan will love this! You will laugh and cry. Have some tissues nearby and enjoy! Fan for life! ... Read more


25. John Brown, Abolitionist : The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights
by DAVID S. REYNOLDS
list price: $35.00
our price: $23.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375411887
Catlog: Book (2005-04-19)
Publisher: Knopf
Sales Rank: 1207
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars A good biography of Brown with important cultural issues
When I was a child the name of John Brown was a grotesquerie.We sang about his body a moulderin' in the grave, but it was generally understood that he was some kind of crazy man who killed some people over slavery, had something to do with the Civil War, and we just shouldn't talk about it.And I am from Michigan rather than the South so this avoidance wasn't based on region.

In the sixties I was about as removed in time from the Civil War as today's young people are from the First World War.That is, the people who were alive during the war were all but past and the children born to those who had lived through the war were now old.Still, some of the received knowledge of the war came from tradition of those who had life experience rather than from books and scholarship.However, with the Great War in our Grandparent's lives, the Second World War in our parent's lives and the echoes of Korea all around us and Vietnam getting under its bloody way, the Civil War just seemed too long ago to worry about in real life.

I took extra time with this book because I wanted to wrestle with the idea of when a cause is important enough to justify personally initiated violence.In our present state of affairs, it is hard to conceive a wrong so great that righting it would involve action outside the political and judicial processes.At bottom, no matter how certain of the rightness and goodness of our cause, there is still some possibility that there is more to the issue than we understand and that those whom we would kill or murder might actually, in the cosmic view of things, not merit the death we would inflict on them.We have doubts enough with the state rendering a judgment of death, how much more would we doubt the rightness of a private judgment that concluded in the death of a human being.

The author, David Reynolds, does a solid job in telling the story of John Brown.We see Brown as a human being within his time.We see his faith in God, his Puritan sense of destiny, and his fury at the injustice of slavery.As we follow him through his life we understand why he acted as he did and the enslavement and misery of four million souls makes his actions in Kansas and at Harpers Ferry make some sort of awful sense.The last two chapters make clear that this author agrees with W.E.B. DuBois that "Brown was right".Reynolds does take on the modern terrorism of the left and the right.He takes on abortion, the environment, the Islamofacists, and more.He argues that Brown was different and exceptional.He notes the power Brown's words and how his cause was taken on by so many leading into, during, and after the Civil War.

Yet, in my own mind, if I grant that Brown is an exception I have to ask what was he exceptional with?And I note it was his eloquence in words.I still cannot help but disqualify his violence as just.His cause in freeing the slaves was certainly just, but if we allow his violence under what premise do we make that allowance?Abortion has taken millions of lives, environmentalism claims they are saving the whole planet, animal rights claims they are sparing billions of animals, and on and on the fever goes until it reaches into insanity.Whose conscience do we grant the privileged position of spilling everyone's blood?

Brown had the passion, conscience, and eloquence that he could have used to make a powerful case against slavery as he did after his trial.He would have had, I believe, and even greater impact against slavery with his preaching than with his sword.Remember, every other country in the world abandoned slavery without the violence of our Civil War.And even if we grant that the War freed the slaves in 1865 while a nonviolent approach would have taken decades longer, we also have to admit it was another century of work and too often bloodshed before the descendants of those slaves got close to the civil rights promised them.And don't forget that the man who did the most to move society to accepting those rights was Martin Luther King who preached nonviolence.Thurgood Marshall won Brown v. Board of Education without guns as well.

Yes, there is more to do.Certainly, there is cruelty and injustice almost more than we can bear in the world.But bear it we must as we work towards a better world.Our methods in that work do matter and we must not become deluded that our personal sense of righteousness actually grants us a special position from which we can deal injustice in the name of a higher cause.

This is a thoughtful book and deserves to be read.You will gain a lot from it and wrestling with these awful events will help you clarify what exactly it is you do believe.

1-0 out of 5 stars There are better biographies of John Brown
Don't waste your time on this book. Find and read Otto Scott's "John Brown and the Secret Six" which has plenty of evidence of the terrorist roots of John Brown and his band.

5-0 out of 5 stars Marvellous
Ideal for those of you who want to find out about John Brown, Abolitionist : The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights

5-0 out of 5 stars A Christian Right Wing Terrorist
I'm not so sure that I agree with Dr. Reynolds subtitle.

John Brown didn't exactly end slavery. That took a little over two million men; 359,528 of whom died.

Did he spark the Civil War? Certainly he was one spark. Dr. Reynolds writes that the Civil War might have been delayed, except for John Brown's murderous raids and the seizure of the federal armory at Harpers Ferry. If it had been delayed, might it not have happened?

Seeding Civil Rights, OK! But if so, the growth and maturity of the Civil Rights movement took another hundred years and the actions of a lot of people.

From this you can guess the tone of the book. Dr. Reynolds presents Brown as a Puritan pioneer rather than a crazed fanatic. I wonder if he would present Timothy McVeigh and the Christian Right prople who blow up women's clinics in the same way.

You can certainly say that Dr. Reynolds presents a strong viewpoint almost praising John Brown, yet at the same time he does point out that the actions of John Brown would today mark him as a terrorist. ... Read more


26. Take Big Bites: Adventures Around the World and Across the Table
by LindaEllerbee
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0399152687
Catlog: Book (2005-05-05)
Publisher: Putnam
Sales Rank: 127
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The celebrated journalist, producer, and bestselling author takes us on a remarkable culinary journey through "a life lived interestingly, if not especially intelligently."

Linda Ellerbee's first two books were instant classics: And So It Goes, a hilarious, unblinking look at television journalism that spent months as a bestseller; and Move On, a wry, intimate look at a woman in her time that became a milestone in autobiographical writing. Now she takes us both farther afield and closer to home in a memoir of travel, food, and personal (mis)adventure that brims with warmth, wit, uncommon honesty, inspired storytelling . . . and a few recipes as well.

In Vietnam, preconceptions collide with the soup. . . . In France, lust flares with the pbti and dies with the dessert. . . .In Bolivia, a very young missionary finds her food flavored with hypocrisy . . . while at the bottom of the Grand Canyon an older woman discovers gorp is good, fear is your friend, and Thai chicken tastes best when you're soaked by rain and the Colorado River.

From Italy to Afghanistan, from Mexico to Massachusetts, Ellerbee leads us on a journey of revelation, humor, and heart."What can you say about Linda Ellerbee?" Ted Koppel once wrote. "The woman is raucous and irreverent and writes like a dream." Take Big Bites proves it again.
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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars A spectacular tour de force
It is rare to stumble on a book that you know is going to be a classic. Linda's latest reminds me of A J Liebling's already-classic saga of Paris dining, Between Meals. Liebling, too, was a journalist-gourmet. But Linda's book is possibly greater than Liebling's (and his is one of my favourites). Ellerbee has been everywhere and tasted everything. A Texan who was "going large" long before it was fashionable, and who has probably the most interesting address book in the world, her amazing empathy for people and her eye, ear and tastebuds all become the grist for some exquisite writing. Her respect for others, self-mockery, love of adventure and occasional sharp tantrum makes Take Big Bites a genuine literary achievement. Dare I propose that Ellerbee should be taken more seriously as an important American writer(I write this as a Brit). If Ellerbee had not become a TV star, she would have made plenty of reputation for herself with words alone. The charm of her TV scripts was always her clarity and precision - something not common in that industry. This book shows Ellerbee once again in perfect command of her stories. It is a memoir, a cook book, a statement of love for the world and its people, toldin a unique voice. Buy this book and you will feel happier. This is not really a five-star book by the somewhat devalued standard of these evaluations, it is a perfect 10. Did I mention that I love this book?

3-0 out of 5 stars Small Bites Are OK, Too
I remember Linda Ellerbee on Overnight, a late-night TV newscast that was considered ground-breaking at the time, before CNN. The news was serious, but she and her co-anchor, Lloyd Dobyns, seemed to be taking it all with a grain of salt, enjoying their gig while all the grown-up anchors were asleep. It was fun to watch reporters who weren't taking themselves too seriously.

For the most part, Ellerbee maintains that attitude in Take Big Bites, but it's a bit difficult when you've been through a few marriages, breast cancer, and reporting from war zones. Take Big Bites isn't exactly a memoir, it's a collection of essays and memories of places she's been, people she's met, food she's eaten. You can take it in order, or skip around, as Ellerbee has done.

I suggest small bites, contrary to Ellerbee's advice. A little bit of Ellerbee goes a long way. Her first encounter with pho,Vietnamese noodle soup is amusing, and so is her reaction to Singapore. But there is a bit too much homespun philosophy for my taste, as well as James Taylor lyrics. I like JT as much as anyone who came of age in the Seventies, but quoting him this much seems like an odd 'blast-from-the-past'.

5-0 out of 5 stars A delicious must read!
Ellerbee's escapades as she dines her way around the world is hysterically funny. It is a laugh-out-loud read about the life of one of Amercia's great journalists and greater writer.Her personal observations and honesty touch your heart and give a compelling insight into what makes this woman an icon. ... Read more


27. It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life
by Lance Armstrong, Sally Jenkins
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0425179613
Catlog: Book (2001-09-30)
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This is the story of the Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year's journey through triumph, tragedy, transformation, and transcendance. It is the story of Lance Armstrong, the world-famous cyclist, and his fight against cancer. ... Read more

Reviews (521)

5-0 out of 5 stars It's Hard Not to be Inspired by this Story
Say what you want about Lance Armstrong but if you read this book it's hard to consider him anything but an inspiration.

Last summer I was in Austin, Texas during the end of the Tour de France attending the Texas Age Group Swimming Championships my younger brother was competing in. That city loves Lance and there wasn't a person in the streets who wasn't eager to talk about the Tour; yellow banners supporting him were more common than Texas flags, and anyone who knows Texas knows that that's saying a lot! Following that experience I knew I had to read this book and I wasn't disappointed in the least.

Having read the book, I can't regard Lance Armstrong as anything less than a miracle. He didn't survive cancer - he conquered it. He proved that a cancer diagnosis doesn't have to mean an end to anything unless you allow it to. This book is a very blunt and unapologetic account of his life before, during, and after his diagnosis and treatment. He's not the nicest guy ever, he's not the humblest guy ever, he's just a guy (who may or may not be the greatest cyclist in the world, it's not my sport, someone else will debate that).

If Lance Armstrong had never competed in another race again, his survival would still have been incredible. But he did compete, and he's sure to be a legend.

5-0 out of 5 stars No, It's Not About the Bike or Cancer. It's Pure Lance.
I know I'll catch it for this review. The book itself gets 5 stars from me. I enjoyed the read, I shed a few tears and I kept hoping that somewhere it would eventually turn Lance Armstrong into one of my heros. It never did. In fact, I pray to God I never meet Lance Armstrong and never get in his path, and I pray anyone who ever has to does survives the encounter. Sally Jenkins gets kudos on pulling off what was a difficult task. How to write his biography and story with him watching over her and to tell the truth. She did it. She pulled it off by writing between the lines like no other. She is truly the hero here. Make no mistake, the book is good, the hero is not. He is, without a doubt the single most arrogant and egotistical person I've ever read about in my life. I wanted him to be my hero so bad too. I have just gotten into cycling and was looking forward to having someone to watch, follow and emulate. Lance is not that guy. You'll read things that will blow you away. How he fully expected his French sponsor to pay him his 5 million dollar contract even when he was taking chemo and was not riding for them, they even offered to give him a contract, just not 5 million and he was outraged. He freaked on might having to sell his $300,000 worth of furniture and "art" to pay for his treatment. Why oh why have all forsaken poor Lance he wonders. Supposedly a boy that grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in Plano, Tx, but give me a break, there is no "wrong side" of the tracks in Plano. Even though he was only raised by his mother, it's obvious people took care of Lance. Riding his expensive cycles that were given to him out of the goodness of one man's heart, and then he doesn't speak to this guy for years on end. I could continue, but I think the world needs to read this book to learn about this. Lance's story is not over, he still hasn't learned what he probably was meant to learn. I do not suggest buying this book for someone with cancer or a teenager. It's not inspiring in the least, no one can afford what Lance had to get him through his terrible cancer ordeal. And, if a teen reads this, he or she will expect the world to give them everything on a silver platter just like Lance expects. One curious note I can't yet figure out. Never once does Lance tell the world he didn't check himself monthly for testicular cancer and that if he had, he could have caught it before it spread to his brain and lungs and recovery would have been comparably easy. With many pages devoted to pictures of he, his wife, his baby and mother not one single page printed a diagram on how to check yourself for testicular cancer. Seems a hero would have had that thought first and foremost in his head, especially since testicular cancer never has gotten the same PR as checking for breast cancer. I might read his other books. Maybe he's learned something along the way, but that is highly doubtful.

3-0 out of 5 stars A new focus for Armstrong..
I value Lance Armstrong's story, he is a driven and talented athlete who has had to battle through a life threatening illness. The story is incredible but you wish that Lance wouldn't be so in love with his own story!
Humility is the virtue that Lance needs most. Maybe that could be his next focus. I'm sure if he put his mind to it, he could tone down his ego. He accomplishes every thing he puts his mind too..... maybe improve his writing as well....

4-0 out of 5 stars It's not about the bike: It is about the being the best!
I am a beginner runner. I picked up this book because I wanted to know more about Lance Armstrong. This book has taught me how much mental and physical training are required to be the best, consistently. I have enjoyed reading this book because of the humor, the clear and direct expression of ideas, and Lance's candor in his failures and triumphs. I am sure I will pick it up and read it again periodically.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Bike is Not Important
There's nothing I can say that hasn't been said. A fantastic book about an interesting character that has little to do with sports and more to do with the human spirit. This book details Lance's early life as he addresses his cocky, immature nature that quickly goes out the window when he begins his cancer battle. Lance is alive because his is famous. His cancer was so aggressive and mature that IMO what saved him is the unsolicited email from the doctor at Vanderbilt that eventually led him to the doctors at Indiana University. I like sports and would never have read a book just about cancer survival but this book was so highly recommended and for good reason.

The book finishes with Lance mentally battling to get back on the bike and on to greater glory. There is much to learn here also but the one downer would be listening to him describing his ideal marriage when of course it has already broken up.

I CANNOT RECOMMEND THIS BOOK HIGHER. You will not be disappointed. And yes, you will start following the Tour de France. ... Read more


28. iCon Steve Jobs : The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business
by Jeffrey S.Young, William L.Simon
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0471720836
Catlog: Book (2005-05-13)
Publisher: Wiley
Sales Rank: 234
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Lightning never strikes twice, but Steve Jobs has, transforming modern culture first with the Macintosh and more recently with the iPod. He has dazzled and delighted audiences with his Pixar movies. And he has bedeviled, destroyed, and demoralized hundreds of people along the way. Steve Jobs is the most interesting character of the digital age.

What a long, strange journey it has been. With the mainstream success of the iPod, Pixar's string of hits and subsequent divorce from Disney, and Steve's triumphant return to Apple, his story is better than any fiction. Ten years after the leading maverick of the computer age and the king of digital cool, crashed from the height of Apple's meteoric rise, Steve Jobs rose from ashes in a Machiavellian coup that only he could have orchestrated-and has now become more famous than ever.

In this encore to his classic 1987 unauthorized biography of Steve Jobs-a major bestseller- Jeffrey Young examines Jobs' remarkable resurgence, one of the most amazing business comeback stories in recent years. Drawing on a wide range of sources in Silicon Valley and Hollywood, he details how Jobs put Apple back on track, first with the iMac and then with the iPod, and traces Jobs' role in the remarkable rise of the Pixar animation studio, including his rancorous feud with Disney's Michael Eisner.

  • Written with insider scoops and no-holds-barred style
  • Based on hundreds of highly unauthorized interviews with Jobs' nearest and dearest
  • New information on the acrimonious parting between Eisner and Jobs, the personal vendetta behind the return to Apple, and the future of iPod and the music industry
... Read more

Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars I Have a Very Favorable Opinion of Mr. Jobs Now
After reading this book I have come away with a much more favorable opinion of Steve Jobs.He is the flawed hero type.I found this to be a very enlightening and motivating story.Steve Jobs is the epiteme of the New Age American Dream, a no hoper rising to the top and changing the way everybody sees things.

The truth about the reality distortion field theory is that Jobs doesn't let reality affect him.Rather he is in control of his own reality and he changes it when necessary.It's much easier to change the world when you think it is revolving around you.It's that kind of self-centered focus that many of the world's greatest minds exhibit.Many geniuses are hard to get along with and communicate to, Steve Jobs is no exception.

4-0 out of 5 stars Horrible Book Title
I can't imagine the Apple folks being happy with the title of the book. Is it:

a) iCon -- a symbol or emblem?
b) iCon -- as in "I've conned you into buying a Mac."
c) all of the above.

Somebody's in trouble somewhere...

5-0 out of 5 stars excellent sundeck reading
While completing a website: www.linuxfree.net A friend pass this title along to me. Excellent read. Just five years ago Mac was just another bland corporate player. Since the inclusion of (smooth) well-developed and managed unix, the apple family has finally begun to stir well-deserved praise.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lighten up, Steve.
You would think, with all the fuss Steve Jobs is making about this new release, that it would be the worst hatchet job since "Wired" massacered the late John Bulushi.
In actuality, the approach to the project was even-handed to a fault. William Simon brings his forminable experience with these business giant profiles to the table. His signature combination of terse and flavorful makes for excellent reading.
As the episodes unfold, the Steve Jobs onion is peeled away for the reader to view the admirable along with the not-so-admirable. Great stuff!

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
I've long been intrigued by the Steve Jobs story as well as the early days of company-building and conflict between he and Bill Gates. This book is a real page-turner as it explores the connection between the technology, consumer-focused brand building and the psyche of the man behind it all. Jobs is a fascinating character and the author's representation of his story is better than fiction.

Another new book I enjoyed recently which has fun analysis of public figures is "The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book." This one also has a cool online application that lets you test your emotional intelligence and learn about it via clips from movies. Fun stuff. ... Read more


29. Big Russ and Me: Father and Son--Lessons of Life
by Tim Russert
list price: $22.95
our price: $13.77
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1401352081
Catlog: Book (2004-05-10)
Publisher: Miramax Books
Sales Rank: 378
Average Customer Review: 3.79 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Veteran newsman and Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert is known for his direct and unpretentious style and in this charming memoir he explains why. Russert's father is profiled as a plainspoken World War II veteran who worked two blue-collar jobs while raising four kids in South Buffalo but the elder Russert's lessons on how to live an honest, disciplined, and ethical life are shown to be universal. Big Russ and Me, a sort of Greatest Generation meets Tuesdays with Morrie, could easily have become a sentimental pile of mush with a son wistfully recalling the wisdom of his beloved dad. But both Russerts are far too down-to-earth to let that happen and the emotional content of the book is made more direct, accessible, and palatable because of it. The relationship between father and son, contrary to what one would think of as essential to a riveting memoir, seems completely healthy and positive as Tim, the academically gifted kid and later the esteemed TV star and political operative relies on his old man, a career sanitation worker and newspaper truck driver, for advice. Big Russ and Me also traces Russert's life from working-mjkjclass kid to one of broadcast journalism's top interviewers by introducing various influential figures who guided him along the way, including Jesuit teachers, nuns, his dad's drinking buddies, and, most notably, the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, whom Russert helped get elected in 1976. Plenty of entertaining anecdotes are served up along the way from schoolyard pranks to an attempt to book Pope John Paul II on the Today Show. Though not likely to revolutionize modern thought, Big Russ and Me will provide fathers and sons a chance to reflect on lessons learned between generations. --Charlie Williams ... Read more

Reviews (53)

5-0 out of 5 stars Cats in the cradle...Harry Chapin's song comes to life!!!
The background story behind this book is learning from your elders. In this particular one, we are talking about Tim Russert and how he explains the way that his father's knowledge (something that most children never appreciate until after the fact) and experience shaped his life. We learn of Big Russ, as he refers to his father, and how he was raise in poverty, was a WWII vet with an admirable record and his ability to raise his four children and support his household while holding down two jobs for a good part of his life. That, in itself, shows the character of Big Russ.

As is the dream of every parent, Russert's life is anything but representative of the suffering his father witnessed. A wealthy lawyer, Capital Hill insider and married to a celebrity journalist, Russert is the success story his father could brag about to any and everyone.

The book provides a nostalgic walk through time as the author reflects on his own life as well as that of his country. By the time you finish the book, you can understand why Big Russ earns the biggest title that any father can ever dream of. That of being seen as a hero in his own son's eyes. No amount of money or honors can ever top such a title as that.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Gift to Big Russ
Bookstores have been gearing up for Father's Day for some time now, lining their front displays with titles dad is sure to enjoy: sports, grilling, amusing how-tos. Pretty standard stuff. But once in a while a book comes along that supersedes the silly.

BIG RUSS & ME, by Tim Russert, is one of these rare finds.

Russert, the popular host of NBC's "Meet the Press," wrote this tribute to his father, Tim Senior, a member of what has become known as "the greatest generation." A hard-working, spiritual and devoted family man who served his country during World War II, the elder Russert represents the millions of fathers (and mothers) who sacrificed to make their children's lives better.

The Russert family grew up in a blue-collar section of Buffalo, NY, where Tim Senior instilled in the author and his three sisters the qualities of discipline, respect, honesty and faith that, for whatever reason, are sometimes lacking from parents today.

In the minds of younger readers, Russert might as well have written his book a hundred years ago. Imagine having to walk to school, including "sir" or "ma'am" when addressing adults, or having to do chores. It wasn't punishment --- it was expected and not open to discussion or bargaining.

Writers of a certain age often recall a time and place in which television shows were broadcast in black and white, no one locked their doors, kids always had friends to play with and people watched out for one another. Compare that with today's omnipresent security alarms, motion detectors and play-dates.

Russert writes fondly of his Jesuit education. Its extension of discipline helped him focus on excelling in college and law school. He worked hard to put himself through school, not just because his parents could ill-afford tuition and other expenses. As Big Russ said, you appreciate it more when you earn it yourself. The era in which he grew up was difficult: the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. had profound effects on his circle, as did the social unrest of the sixties. Through it all, however, he remained close to his father while many of his contemporaries rebelled against their parents' values.

Russert is not a name-dropper. He was fortunate enough to know several people who were very influential to his maturation, and he mentions these relationships (his chapters on Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Pope John Paul II are especially warm) more in thankfulness than to inflate his own ego. His self-effacement ("I have a face for radio") seems genuine, not put-on, which makes BIG RUSS & ME even more enjoyable.

The saying goes (approximately): "When I was a teenager I thought my father didn't know anything. It's amazing how much smarter he became once I got older." This is definitely not Russert's credo. Indeed, he has always sought his dad's advice and opinions; even now, in his high-powered capacity as host of one of television's venerated staples, he is not satisfied until Big Russ gives his feedback. (Not to psychoanalyze, but one doesn't get the impression that Russert, Jr. is in dire need of Senior's approval.)

Being "men," it's not unusual that expressive feelings exchanged between fathers and sons are underplayed. This is one reason why BIG RUSS & ME is so welcome. And the love and respect between the generations continues through the author's son, Luke.

Relationships, especially for today's parents, seem much more difficult, thanks in no small part to the myriad distractions and competitions for their kids' attention that simply didn't exist fifty years ago. All vie for the child's attention and some can be very seductive, especially when the folks want him to do something that isn't cool, like get good grades or clean up his room.

Russert's apotheosis is a wonderful gift to Big Russ, an expression of love and gratitude that makes all the hard work seem worthwhile. It's even better that the old timer is still around to enjoy the accolades the book will no doubt engender.

So, what did you say you were doing for your dad this year?

--- Reviewed by Ron Kaplan

1-0 out of 5 stars Ack! Ack!
Ack! Ack! Ack! Ack! Ack! Ack! Ack! Ack!

4-0 out of 5 stars Endearing & heart-felt memoir.
Refreshing and light read written by a man with a genuine and, in many ways, a new-found love and appreciation for the most important man in his life.

In a society that seems less determined to be self reliant and accountable and more determined than ever compete over who can be the biggest victim, Big Russ is living testimony that absolutely nothing beats a strong family bond and a solid work ethic.

5-0 out of 5 stars Engaging, nostalgic, well-written
This is a great book. I can't believe how many Amazon "reviewers" are getting their facts wrong, or dragging politics, or other issues into this simple, straightforward ode to one's father.

One reviewer says Tim does a disservice to mothers everywhere by writing a book about his father. If you didn't check out the title of the book clearly before purchasing it, maybe you should go do that now: "Big Russ and Me: Father and Son--Lessons of Life." He mentions his mother reverently a few times in the text, but the book is mainly about his dad. Enough Said. I'm sure his mother knows how much he loves her. Maybe he'll write a book about her someday. But I don't see how he's disrespecting all mothers. That's ludicrous.

Secondly, a few reviewers have remarked about Big Russ blowing his paycheck on booze every week. Obviously these readers didn't read carefully. Tim was writing about another man in town who would take his paycheck to the bar every payday and drink it away. Tim contrasts this man with his father, who would enjoy a few cold ones every now and then, but knew that providing for his family was much more important. Big Russ was not a drunk. Maybe you reviewers should go back and re-read that chapter.

Another reviewer complains that Tim Russert's book is "full of errors," and backs up this claim by saying he got one word wrong when remembering a prayer from his youth. This reviewer says a half-decent editor would've caught this. I'd like to enlighten this reader by letting him know that not all prayers are taught or recited exactly the same way. It depends on the school or church, I suppose. To call it an error is wrong. It's a variation. I'm sure some people think the way you recite it is wrong. Whether it's "THROUGH thy bounty," or "FROM thy bounty," it hardly makes much difference, does it? Means the same thing.

I could go on, but for some readers there's no hope. It's a great book about a father's influence on his son's life. Read it. Pass it on. ... Read more


30. Night
by Elie Wiesel, Stella Rodway, Francois Mauriac
list price: $5.99
our price: $5.39
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553272535
Catlog: Book (1982-04-01)
Publisher: Bantam
Sales Rank: 1663
Average Customer Review: 4.37 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel's wrenching attempt to find meaning in the horror of the Holocaust is technically a novel, but it's based so closely on his own experiences in Birkenau, Auschwitz, and Buchenwald that it's generally--and not inaccurately--read as an autobiography. Like Wiesel himself, the protagonist of Night is a scholarly, pious teenager racked with guilt at having survived the genocidal campaign that consumed his family. His memories of the nightmare world of the death camps present him with an intolerable question: how can the God he once so fervently believed in have allowed these monstrous events to occur? There are no easy answers in this harrowing book, which probes life's essential riddles with the lucid anguish only great literature achieves. It marks the crucial first step in Wiesel's lifelong project to bear witness for those who died. ... Read more

Reviews (744)

5-0 out of 5 stars Lifechanging experience
Night, by Elie Weisel, is a book different than any other I have read. Many opinions about history, and even life in some cases changed while reading Night. For a very long time I believed that Josef Stalin was the most evil man to live in the twentieth century. After reading Night I believe that Hitler and his relentless "fight" to exterminate Hebrews from the face of the planet is the most evil act of hate ever. Elie Weisel is a 12 year old boy living in the town of Sighet. Untouched by Nazis until about 1942, Elie begins his long tour of numerous concentration camps throughout Europe. This book is about the lengths a human will go through to survive. Night is about love, hope, determination, and the spirit of humanity to survive, forgive, and to inform us, the readers, that we must never forget the lives lost during the years of Nazi occupied Germany. We must never forget how 12 million people just like you and I were executed because of differences. Night is a book that should eventually be read by all high school students. I am still humbled by Night.

4-0 out of 5 stars Non-Stop Reading for the Mind and Soul
Reading Night by Elie Wiesel began as a simple two-day assignment for my freshman English class. At first glance, I expected this quick read to be simply one more trite account to the terrible atrocities committed during wwii Germany. But after getting only 15 pages into the storyline, I found myself immersed in the detail, precision, and striking ability with which Wiesel describes his own adolescent struggle. At the age of only 15, he was faced with the daunting task of realizing that not everyone is good deep down inside. As his family is herded from its town of Sighet into trains, and then unkonwingly into concentration camps, the universal good in man which young Eliezer had once believed was stripped from his soul. This emotional weekend read is capable of being devoured all in one sitting. However, while reading this book in our living rooms or at the beach, we must remember what our fellow men and women around the world have been through. As readers, we should take time to celebrate the courage and hope that men like Elie Wiesel have possessed. Without this strong passion for life our world would be so much different than it is today. The few hours we spend reading this book are special. But they are nothing compared to the days, months, and years that thousands of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and slavs spent in concentration camps. If you have ever felt low or alone, read Night, and you will see just how lucky you are to be able to breathe, to eat, to love, to feel, to even be alive.

4-0 out of 5 stars Horrifying Account of the Holocaust
Night is the story of Elie Wiesel's experience in the German concentration camp Auschwitz during World War II. He calls it a "nightmare-" this is an understatement. One can wake up from a nightmare. The horror Wiesel lived had no outlet.

A Jew from Transylvania, Wiesel grew up with a strong religious background. He found an unlikely teacher in a man named "Moshe the Beadle." Moshe taught his pupil that man could not understand God's answers to man's questions; man could only ask God the right questions. Would Elie's time in Auschwitz destroy his budding faith? The book explores faith in a searing way. A must read for all. Ages 16 and up.

4-0 out of 5 stars Searching for Themes in Night
Night is a story about a young boy's life during the Holocaust. He uses a different name in the story, Eliezer. He comes from a highly Orthodox Jewish family, and they observed the Jewish traditions. His father, Shlomo, a shopkeeper, was very involved with the Jewish community, which was confined to the Jewish section of town, called the shtetl.
In 1944, the Jews of Hungary were relatively unaffected by the catastrophe that was destroying the Jewish communities of Europe in spite of the infamous Nuremberg Laws of 1935-designed to dehumanize German Jews and subject them to violence and prejudice. The Holocaust itself did not reach Hungary until 1944. In Wiesel's native Sighet, the disaster was even worse: of the 15,000 Jews in prewar Sighet, only about fifty families survived the Holocaust. In May of 1944, when Wiesel was fifteen, his family and many inhabitants of the Sighet shtetl were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. The largest and deadliest of the camps, Auschwitz was the site of more than 1,300,000 Jewish deaths. Wiesel's father, mother, and little sister all died in the Holocaust. Wiesel himself survived and immigrated to France. His story is a horror story that comes to life when students in high school read this novel. Even though many students have not witnessed or participated in such horror, they relate to the character because Wiesel is their age. They cannot believe someone went through the nightmare he did at their age.

This book focuses on many themes: conflict, silence, inhumanity to others, and father/son bonding. We see many, too many, conflicts this young man faces. Eliezer struggles with his faith throughout the story. He believes that God is everywhere, and he can't understand how God could let this happen, especially as Eliezer faces conflict everyday in the concentration camp. He also learns silence means. He says he says it is God's silence that he doesn't understand. He feels that God's silence demonstrates the absence of divine compassion. Another silence that drive confuses Eliezer is the silence of the victims. He cannot understand why they don't fight back, especially with the inhumanity that is forced upon them. It is because of this inhumanity that he loses faith, not only in God but also in men. He tells how at the beginning, the Germans were "distant but friendly." However, when they reach the camps, the soldiers are transformed from men to monsters. As part of this inhumanity and lack of faith is the instances when a son betrays his father. He sees this several times and can't comprehend how a son, in order to save his own life, betrays his father. Luckily for Eliezer's father, Eliezer's love and bond is stronger than self-preservation.
How can students relate to this story when they haven't experienced anything near what Wiesel did. Maybe they haven't experienced these acts, but they have experienced conflict, silence, inhumanity, and bonding, and if a teacher focuses on these themes, the students will relate.
Works Cited:
Sparknotes.com. http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/night/themes.html

5-0 out of 5 stars Overpowering and Humbling....
l am a Christian and was absolutely stunned by this book. To read -and more importantly to re-read and reflect - about the trials and tribulations of a devoted Jewish family as they went from a loving, religious/spiritual home to a ghetto, then to the railroad yards, then to a Concentration Camp...is to be transported to a nightmarish journey and world that must never be taken for granted, that must be understood deeply, and which must be respected with our hearts more than with our minds.

To criticize any victim of the Holocaust for doubting or questioning their G-d is to live in a fantasy world. Unless one has lived through the horror and degradations of the Holocaust, he should be quiet. As for me, whenever l see or think of the child-victims and their parents of those terrible days, l think of me and my own children in their place...and it keeps me very humble. ... Read more


31. The Smartest Guys In The Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron
by Bethany McLean, Peter Elkind
list price: $16.00
our price: $10.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1591840538
Catlog: Book (2004-09-28)
Publisher: Portfolio
Sales Rank: 8017
Average Customer Review: 4.42 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Just as Watergate was the defining political story of its time, so Enron is thebiggest business story of our time. And just as All the President’s Menwas the one Watergate book that gave readers the full story, with all the dramaand nuance, The Smartest Guys in the Room is the one book you have toread to understand this amazing business saga. ... Read more

Reviews (38)

5-0 out of 5 stars The "Exorcist" for Business Readers
This book scared the hell out of me. With the scandals at Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, Adelphia, etc., one has to ask - "Where Else?"

While it focuses on the people and personalities directing Enron, the book very rightly points out that this Ponzi-Scheme of a company could never have existed if not for the complicity, corruption and willful ignorance of individuals and organizations who were supposed to act as checks and balances. Simply put, Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling & Andrew Fastow were able to bully, buy or dupe the following:

1. The Enron Board, who questioned almost nothing.
2. Arthur Andersen, who was corrupted by large consulting fees, and the "glamor" that was Enron.
3. Wall Street Equity Analysts, who were long ago compromised.
4. Large commercial banks, who allowed themselves to be played like violins by Fastow.
5. The business press, who with rare exception, acted as cheerleaders for Enron.
6. Debt-Rating agencies such as Moody's and S&P for shallow due dilligence.

Make no mistake, this is a horror story. So much loss and pain due to extremely bright folks with no moral compass! Throughout the book, I found myself asking "can an organization this unethical, cutthroat and STUPID have really existed?" I didn't know if I should be outraged or horribly depressed (BOTH!). If I had a critisim of the book, it would be that it should have contained an appendix that illustrated the financial position (on-balance sheet & total) to help readers fully comprehend the magnitude of what went on.

I recommend this book to anyone who owns more than $10 in stock.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not For Lay People
There's blame galore to go around for the spectacular downfall of Enron Corp in that sober year of 2001. Accountants, rating agencies, regulators, lawyers, consultants, bankers--and these are just the bad actors outside the corporation. Look inside, where Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind treat their readers to a thorough journalistic scouring, and the smell of the rot almost wafts off the pages.

The authors rightly spend the vast majority of the book examining the personalities and circumstances that allowed the company to become what it was at the end of its life. Mix a potion that's one part hardscrabble Harvard MBAs, one part energy deregulation, and one part hysterical bull market, and you've got a financial molotov cocktail. Sadly, as we all know now, it was largely the little guy who paid the price for all the hubris of the players in this story, a fact that tends to get lost in the authors' painstaking recreation of the most complicated shell game in history.

But the story of Enron's fallout could provide the material for a whole other book. In this one we get the tale of the players, people like Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling, Rebecca Mark and Andy Fastow, all filled with an equal mix of remarkable brilliance and fatal arrogance. All are indicted by these authors as rabid players in a game they made up themselves, deeming themselves beyond the petty world of rules and regulation. But coming in for equal excoriation is the system itself, the web of enablement and intimidation that allowed Andy Fastow to quietly hammer together the company's coffin in the form of a maze of phantom accounting entities designed to prop of the appearance of the corpse inside. The most unnerving theme the book treats indirectly is the effect of mass psychology--the way exceptional personalities distort and transform reality on a systemic scale. And it offers little in the way of how something like this could ever be prevented in the future.

One word of warning for people not acquainted with basic finance: this is a complicated story, about erstwhile geniuses in the arcane use of financial products and regulatory loopholes. Though it's enjoyable even if one can't follow every detour down each accounting scheme, some knowledge of Wall Street and its workings seems necessary to understand the implications of the book overall. Given the fact that most experts didn't understand what went on here, the authors do their best to keep things as simple as possible, often using helpful metaphors and simple summations after a few pages of analysis, but they have no choice but to assume a level of sophistication among their readers.

Which leads to one gripe. In "The Smartest Guys In the Room" not a single institution or individual player involved with Enron escapes the authors' finger-pointing notice, with but one exception. Where were the journalists in all this? Why did short-sellers have to be the ones to ask all the tough questions? Bethany Mclean should take understandable pride in being the first one to pry the door open on Enron's malfeasance, but she was just a little late. One would think that with the mass of financial journalists on CNBC, the Journal, the Times, etc., that just one would have bucked the collective cheering squad and dug deeper into what this supposedly invincible company was up to. But of course, this was the bull market. A time when everyone was exuberant when they should have been scared.

5-0 out of 5 stars A must for the non-sceptic
My blood ran cold reading of how long the officers of this firm managed to pull the wool over the investment community's eyes, aided and abetted by the deleriction of duty of those in whom we trust (and pay hansomely) to guard against such crooks. If there was ever a book to convince investors to do their own homework and to think independently, this is it. A well written and an engaging read. Well worth the money.

5-0 out of 5 stars Who Are These Guys
I chose the above title quote from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" to highlight my review. The authors provide a biography of many of the Enron players that lets us know what these guys were all about at their core. For example, Jeff Skilling spent almost all his after-school time working at a television station. Yet, he went to college without a dime because he blew all his pay in the stock market-buying stocks on margin. Never mind though because he got an impressive academic scholarship anyway because of his "brilliance." The authors provide other telling stories about the other major players. Ken Lay, the Baptist preacher's boy who preached exemplary corporate values, had an affair with his secretary, and later divorced his first wife to marry her. Yes, this is the same lady who went on television complaining about being broke while her family still owned millions of dollars in real estate. Lay's number two guy-not Skilling-who shacked up with a different Ken Lay secretary at Enron, costing himself annointment as Lay's successor. By the way, this guy now is a billionaire. Having that affair with Lay's secretary, later marrying her, was the smartest thing he ever did because he left Enron to found his own high-flying energy company. Rebecca Mark got a leg up from another Enron mentor by having a tempestous affair with him. The stories like this go on and on.

The authors provide far more detail about company history and the accounting conspiracies that brought it down. As a professional accountant, I am even more convinced now that Arthur Andersen deserved to fail for approving many of the tricks that Enron used to book fictitious profits. The authors point out that near the end, nearly 85% of Enron's total debt wasn't on their books, but "lay" in off balance sheet special purpose entities. The auditors couldn't understand the meaning of the standard sentence in an audit report that states that the financial statements "present fairly the financial condition and operations of Enron in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles." They over emphasized generally accepted accounting principles and ignored the term "present fairly." Good riddance to them.

The authors certainly are not admirers of Skilling, Fastow, or most of the other Enron players. For example they say of Skilling in their Epilogue, "He does not seem to have any remorse about his own actions, any sense that he hired the wrong people, got into the wrong businesses, or emphasized the wrong values. The fault, in his view, lies in a world that did not and will not appreciate the sheer newness of what Enron was trying to do." At the end, Jesse Jackson-yes that Jesse-held prayer meetings in the hall to comfort the afflicted who suddenly realized they needed forgiveness. Skilling didn't attend. I hope Jesse says a few prayers to protect Jeff while he's in prison. He'll need them, as well as a lifetime supply of "soap on a rope."

Certain Enron principals flew to their bankruptcy hearing in their mega-bucks Gulfstream 5 executive jet and stayed at the plush Four Seasons in Manhattan. As one of the offending executives said, "Maybe we should have flown on Southwest and stayed at the Ramada." In short, yes.

3-0 out of 5 stars Missed opportunity
Excellent journalism and very well articulated research from McLean and Elkind make this a gripping read for anyone who wants to understand the forces that drive corporate greed. Banks, rating agencies, lawyers and accountants are not spared in what is a scathing criticism of profitability over ethics and plain common sense. What disapponted me, however, was the authors' obvious decision to skim over the political elements of the whole scandal. Kenneth Lay was one of the single largest individual contributors to the Bush campaign in 2000 and also made available corporate resources, such as company jets, on numerous occasions. Dick Cheney had secret meetings with company executives at a time that the wheels were beginning to fall off and it is impossible to believe that this was all innocuous, although in the rare instances that the authors refer to such events, they will have you believe that this was the case. Time will hopefully still reveal more about the murky political dealings of Enron, but it is a crying shame that this otherwise very well written book is not a place where you will learn anything at all about that dimension, despite there being no shortage of facts to be found elsewhere in the public domain. ... Read more


32. Stalin : A Biography,
by Robert Service
list price: $29.95
our price: $19.77
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0674016971
Catlog: Book (2005-04-04)
Publisher: Belknap Press
Sales Rank: 4359
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Overthrowing the conventional image of Stalin as an uneducated political administrator inexplicably transformed into a pathological killer, Robert Service reveals a more complex and fascinating story behind this notorious twentieth-century figure. Drawing on unexplored archives and personal testimonies gathered from across Russia and Georgia, this is the first full-scale biography of the Soviet dictator in twenty years.

Service describes in unprecedented detail the first half of Stalin's life--his childhood in Georgia as the son of a violent, drunkard father and a devoted mother; his education and religious training; and his political activity as a young revolutionary. No mere messenger for Lenin, Stalin was a prominent activist long before the Russian Revolution. Equally compelling is the depiction of Stalin as Soviet leader. Service recasts the image of Stalin as unimpeded despot; his control was not limitless. And his conviction that enemies surrounded him was not entirely unfounded.

Stalin was not just a vengeful dictator but also a man fascinated by ideas and a voracious reader of Marxist doctrine and Russian and Georgian literature as well as an internationalist committed to seeing Russia assume a powerful role on the world stage. In examining the multidimensional legacy of Stalin, Service helps explain why later would-be reformers--such as Khrushchev and Gorbachev--found the Stalinist legacy surprisingly hard to dislodge.

Rather than diminishing the horrors of Stalinism, this is an account all the more disturbing for presenting a believable human portrait. Service's lifetime engagement with Soviet Russia has resulted in the most comprehensive and compelling portrayal of Stalin to date.

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Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars We return again to the subject of Stalin
Gangster! Evil dictator! Georgian Al Capone!Robert Service uses all of these terms to describe Joseph Vissarionovich Dzhughashvili, known as Stalin, in this new biography.That he also uses terms such as intellectual, paterfamilias, singer of songs and lover of wine, to describe the `man of steel' disgusts and alienates some readers.Apparently, we must distance ourselves from such a man, make him somehow inhuman, in order to fit him into our modern worldview.More interesting, and more useful, is a biography that seeks to understand the human factors, for Stalin was not some alien dropped from outer space, but a man.

This is the work of a professional historian who is deeply immersed in both the primary sources (many newly available) and the historiography of Stalin. Service seeks to undertake a multidimensional approach, looking at political, economic, personal, international and many other factors of both Stalin and the world in which he lived. Among the more interesting points Service brings out, is the importance of Stalin in the pre-revolutionary period, including his importance and high place (although less visible than some of the others) in the party structure, debunking the myth that Stalin came out of nowhere, suddenly and mysteriously knocking the Bolshevik train off track. Stalin was Lenin's protégé and student, and although he differed on several key points, there was continuity between the two. In a sense this is the sequel to the author's works on Lenin.

If there is one thing I wish could be added to a generally excellent work, it would be while Service sufficiently discredits both Leninism and Stalinism I would have preferred, since he was on the subject,a discussion of the failure not only Bolshevism but of Marxism in general. Admittedly it is slightly beyond the scope, but it seems to leave open the question, could a Marxist state under some more benign leadership have worked?It is my belief that the historian of the twentieth century has already before him evidence to answer this question, and anyway, (with sincere apologies) let us hope no one will ever undertake such an experiment.That being said, in all a very good biography suitable for all readers.

5-0 out of 5 stars Yes please!
Quit Stalin (stalling) and buy this book! (that was a joke but this is a good book).

4-0 out of 5 stars A Biography That Tries To Humanize Stalin
The author tries to humaninze Stalin and view him as a more intellectual person than he is viewed in earlier biographies. Stalin's vast and terrible crimes against the persons in his own country are almost pure evil and the reader will be disturbed at the author's effort to "rehabilitate" Stalin.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Step in the Wrong Direction.
Robert Service's book is the newest addition to the recent spate of books on Joseph Stalin.While a meticulously researched effort, it is disturbing that the author is at pains to "humanize" Stalin and to understand his behaviour. I quote from a review of the book in The Economist, 6 January 2005:

"Here the reader is told that Stalin's crimes, while vast and terrible, were things which a sane, intelligent, sometimes kindly human being might do for understandable if not defensible reasons. It does not feel like a step in the right direction."

I would recommend, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore, and as a companion volume, Stalin and His Hangmen: The Tyrant and Those Who Killed for Him by Donald Rayfield as giving superior treatment to the subject.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ground Breaking
Reading this biography one becomes aware how much previous biographies of Stalin were affected by Trotsky's work and perspective. A good deal of scholarship about the Soviet Union depended on documents that were carried out by him and his written works were influential. Some of the more influential writers of Soviet history were in fact disciples of Trotsky such as Isaac Deutscher.

Broadly Trotsky hoped to gain power in the Soviet Union following Lenin's death. He was however outmanoeuvred by Stalin. Trotsky was contemptuous of Stalin's ability and he thought he was a nonentity. This is reflective in his writing and accounts of Stalin's career and rise. As a result he portrayed Stalin as a nothing who had arisen not through his own ability but through a mysterious numbers game in the party which preferred hacks to people of real talent.

Stalin after in his road to power was happy to portray himself in a similar way to the Trotsky caricature of him.That is an ordinary practical man who could empathise with the problems of workers and peasants and have real solutions to problems rather than overblown rhetoric.

This book suggests a very different picture of Stalin's rise. In reality he was only General Secretary of the party for a short time before the power struggle to oust Trotsky. He had little time to stack the party and the reason he won was because he was a better political operator. In fact Stalin had always been an important figure in the Bolshevik movement holding important positions such as being the editor of the party newspaper. Although a poor public speaker he was a person of considerable intelligence and he was a skilled writer. Broadly Trosky was a person who was somewhat egocentric and he had little ability to read people and depended on his charisma and ability as a speaker. By the 1920's a bit more was required to gain power in the Soviet Union.

The main power of the book is to show that Stalin was in fact an intellectual figure. It deals in less detail with the historical background of Stalin's rule skating over the oppression of the peasants and the development of industry. In fact the chapter on the second world war makes at least one mistake suggesting that the battle of Karhov was the first Soviet offensive of the war obviously forgetting the attacks on the German forces by Zhukov in late 1941.

Never the less the power and importance of the book is to show how previous biographies were written and influenced by ideas around Stalin's rise which when put to the test are shown to be wrong. In looking at Stalin's personality it is also clear that he was not a person who suffered from what would be described as a mental illness. His actions were to purposeful and systematic for that. Despite this the book is perhaps better at showing what could be described as the evil of Stalin's rule. Not only the effects on those who were killed by his regime but the brutal and irrational nature of the regime he created.
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33. An Unquiet Mind : A Memoir of Moods and Madness
by KAY REDFIELD JAMISON
list price: $12.95
our price: $9.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679763309
Catlog: Book (1997-01-14)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 1195
Average Customer Review: 4.35 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

In Touched with Fire, Kay Redfield Jamison, a psychiatrist, turned a mirror on the creativity so often associated with mental illness. In this book she turns that mirror on herself. With breathtaking honesty she tells of her own manic depression, the bitter costs of her illness, and its paradoxical benefits: "There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness and terror involved in this kind of madness.... It will never end, for madness carves its own reality." This is one of the best scientific autobiographies ever written, a combination of clarity, truth, and insight into human character. "We are all, as Byron put it, differently organized," Jamison writes. "We each move within the restraints of our temperament and live up only partially to its possibilities." Jamison's ability to live fully within her limitations is an inspiration to her fellow mortals, whatever our particular burdens may be. --Mary Ellen Curtin ... Read more

Reviews (207)

5-0 out of 5 stars Invaluable
Scouring the bookshelves for something, anything regarding the topic of bipolar illness, I came across Dr. Jamison's brilliant memoir. I had recently been diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar and was unsure of how that would effect my life. I had always been moody and eccentric, how would I learn to live without those highs? How would I get used to losing the endless nights of various projects and explorations. Everything is brighter when you're manic and everything is more enjoyable. Surely I could endure the depressions just to experience the highs. However, when I read Dr. Jamison's book I saw myself reflected in the pages. Things escalate when you're bipolar, and much of the time you have no idea what you are doing or how you appear to others. Dr. Jamison describes the mania with precision. Her words are chilling to the reader who knows exactly what a manic episode is like. She is also very firm in her standing on treatment for bipolars. She advocates a combined approach of psychotherapy and medication. Her arguments are solid and helpful for the family and friends of a person living with bipolar. The novel is well written, informative, and enjoyable. I am filled with awe for Dr. Jamison because she has done so much for those of us living with bipolar disorder. She has inspired me personally because she is such a brilliant woman. This memoir belongs on everyone's shelf who is interested or involved in bipolar disorder.

3-0 out of 5 stars painless, not perceptive
Okay, now let's see. Jamison is blessed with a hyperintelligent, loving family, wonderful colleagues, supportive boyfriends, and amazing doctors. As someone with bipolar, who has none of the above, I found it hard to relate to her memoir. Most people I know with mental illness, despite their innate gifts, are not so lucky. Indeed most people I know without mental illness aren't as lucky either.

As a result of bestowing three to five complimentary adjectives upon most of the characters and glossing over the few painful interactions included, Jamison's book comes off like a Disney World version of manic depression. Indeed it is courageous of her to "come out" like this only if things really aren't as wonderful as she's presented them here.

Tracy Thompson's and Martha Manning's memoirs of depression do a much better job of portraying the pain and frustration of a mood disorder, and were a lot more honest and well-written. AUM does have some evocative descriptions, but look elsewhere for stunning insights and carefully crafted prose.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Account
<br /> <br /> Having dealt most of my life with Manic-Depression, this is one of the better books to read, both from the Doctor's point of view as well as one that is living with the situation. I wish it would have touched a little more on the why it happens but thankfully there are several boos out there that explain the why's such as: <br /> Skywriting, Brilliant Madness and Nightmares Echo.

5-0 out of 5 stars A found mind.....
I am a 26 yr old woman that has only six months ago been diagnoised with bi-polor...this book was amazing. So many of the same things that Kay speaks of I feel- deeply. My therapist told me to go through and hi-lite all the things that really touch home with me...most of the book is now hi-lighted...it has allowed me another way to talk with my family and friends about all of the issues and obstacles I have faced and struggled with. I recommend this book to anyone that has a family member that has been diagnoised or a close friend. Or if you think you may have some of the symptoms of bi-polor.
It's hard to reach for help if you are bi-polor especially if your manic...it feels really good - but read and look at the reality of not getting help....

5-0 out of 5 stars Inspiring.
This book is wonderfully written. A great read for anybody interested in, or suffering from Bipolar. ... Read more


34. Lucky Child : A Daughter of Cambodia Reunites with the Sister She Left Behind
by Loung Ung
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060733942
Catlog: Book (2005-04-01)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Sales Rank: 5578
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

When Loung Ung came to America in 1980 as a ten-year-old Cambodian refugee, she had already survived years of hunger, violence, and loss at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, a story she told in her critically acclaimed bestseller, First They Killed My Father. Now, in Lucky Child, Ung writes of assimilation and, in alternating chapters, gives voice to a genocide survivor she left behind in rural Cambodia, her older sister Chou.

Loung was the lucky child, the sibling Eldest Brother chose to take with him to America. The youngest and the scrappiest, she was the one he believed had the best chance of making it. Just two years apart, Chou and Loung had bonded deeply over the deaths of their parents and sisters. As they stood holding hands in their dusty village while the extended family gathered to say good-bye, they never imagined that fifteen years would pass before they would be reunited again.

With candor and enormous flair, Ung describes what it is like to survive in a new culture while surmounting dogged memories of genocide and the deep scars of war. Not only must she learn about Disney characters and Christmas trees to fit in with her classmates, she must also come to understand life in a nation of peace: that the Fourth of July fireworks are not bombs and that she doesn't have to hide food in her bed every night to make sure she has enough to eat. Her spunk, intelligence, and charisma win out, but Cambodia and Chou are always in her thoughts.

An accomplished activist and writer, Ung has now returned to Cambodia many times, and in this re-creation of Chou's life, she writes the story that so easily could have been hers. Both redemptive and searing, Lucky Child highlights the harsh realities of chance and circumstance and celebrates the indomitability of the human spirit.

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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Engaging and gripping tale of immigrant experience
Ms. Ung has once again given us a powerful rendering of what it means to survive.Her first book, First They Killed My Father" was extraordinary for its ability to translate the experience of the Cambodian genocide for a public disconnected to the realities of that war.

Her second book is no less a tour de force, giving us an eye into the life of a young girl from a radically different culture (and history of deprevation) trying to come to terms with this American life.She does it remarkably well, with candor and grace.

4-0 out of 5 stars One Flaw keeps me from buying this
This story appears riveting.I want to read the book.I WILL read the book when it is available at my library.I can't give it a bad rating because I haven't actually read it.The book is written in the present tense and I dislike books written that way.I was ready to buy this book tonight, but when something happened years ago, it is just one of those things I can't handle, "What do you want?" he asks."Nothing."I say.That sort of thing. ... Read more


35. One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey
by Sam Keith, Richard Proenneke
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0882405136
Catlog: Book (1999-05-01)
Publisher: Alaska Northwest Books
Sales Rank: 161
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

To live in a pristine land ... to roam the wilderness ... to choose a site, cut trees, and build a home ... Thousands have had such dreams, but Richard Proenneke lived them. Here is a tribute to a man in tune with his surroundings who carved his masterpiece out of the beyond. ... Read more

Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the great journals of wilderness living
This is a powerful book and has quite a following. I was given the book by one of my best friends, which I consider a wonderful gift. This book has it all, beautiful photos, Richard's journal notes are amazing in their insight to his thinking and how this adventure unfolded. It is a simply wonderful book, and has people traveling to Alaska just to see the setting for such a balanced book. This book lays claim to new territory, and the claim is valid. No wonder it sells well, it is captivating reading and makes you look hard and close at your own life.

5-0 out of 5 stars One Man's Wilderness
This has to be one of my very favorite books. I have read it front to back at least 7 times! It is written with the true adventurer in mind. Every detail of his experience makes the reader wish it were he/she that was there with him. If you have ever wished you could just go off into the woods, build a cabin and be self-sufficiant, This is the book for you.

4-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful "Alaskana" read
Sure the writing style isn't polished and there is little action, but I think that is what helps makes this such an enjoyable book. The observations and opinions presented in the closing pages (chapter 9) will cause most any reader to consider their place in their world. There is enough good here for me to add this to my extensive Alaskana library for long term keeping.

4-0 out of 5 stars One Man's Carpentry
The book is entirely journal entries that for the most part describe how the author builds his wilderness cabin and goes about other day-to-day tasks. This is not the book for those seeking accounts of extraordinary Alaskan adventures but it is an impressive account of craftmanship. It is a story of impressive feats of carpentry and resourcefulness. You do get a few descriptions of encounters with wildlife but I didn't find that to be a strength of the book. Great pictures, too.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting details, but slow for me
I like books that contain the kind of real details that this book contains. Properly presented, fact can be more interesting than fiction. The book reads somewhat like a journal. For me, however, it deserves 3 stars because of writing quality, and because it failed to keep me reading past midnight. ... Read more


36. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
by Azar Nafisi
list price: $13.95
our price: $9.76
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 081297106X
Catlog: Book (2003-12-30)
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Sales Rank: 69
Average Customer Review: 3.88 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

We all have dreams—things we fantasize about doing and generally never get around to. This is the story of Azar Nafisi’s dream and of the nightmare that made it come true.

For two years before she left Iran in 1997, Nafisi gathered seven young women at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. They were all former students whom she had taught at university. Some came from conservative and religious families, others were progressive and secular; several had spent time in jail. They were shy and uncomfortable at first, unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they began to open up and to speak more freely, not only about the novels they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments. Their stories intertwined with those they were reading—Pride and Prejudice, Washington Square, Daisy Miller and Lolita—their Lolita, as they imagined her in Tehran.

Nafisi’s account flashes back to the early days of the revolution, when she first started teaching at the University of Tehran amid the swirl of protests and demonstrations. In those frenetic days, the students took control of the university, expelled faculty members and purged the curriculum. When a radical Islamist in Nafisi’s class questioned her decision to teach The Great Gatsby, which he saw as an immoral work that preached falsehoods of “the Great Satan,” she decided to let him put Gatsby on trial and stood as the sole witness for the defense.

Azar Nafisi’s luminous tale offers a fascinating portrait of the Iran-Iraq war viewed from Tehran and gives us a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women’s lives in revolutionary Iran. It is a work of great passion and poetic beauty, written with a startlingly original voice.
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Reviews (112)

4-0 out of 5 stars A literary tour-de-force
Azar Nafisi's memoir, Reading Lolita in Tehran, is the sort of book you should pick up if you want to assure yourself of how well-read you are, or perhaps to remind yourself that you are not well read at all. In the back of Ms. Nafisi's book is a list of recommended reading, some of which deals with Iran, but much of which is the fiction about which she writes in the book.

Having only read some of the novels about which Ms. Nafisi writes, I don't think I can adequately discuss the literary criticism woven throughout the book. The story of the book club itself is often not the main focus, as Ms. Nafisi gives a crash course in Iranian revolutionary history and delves into her personal life as well as that of the women in her book club. The combination of the three is an intriguing and potent conceit; learning how everyday life in Iran affects these women is compelling and evocative. Intertwined with commentary and comparison of some of the great books of western literature makes it even more so.

It would be had to say that one does not learn one thing, if not many things, from this book. Certainly it inspires you to read some of the books Ms. Nafisi writes about, if only to re-read the book and access a new level of understanding.

5-0 out of 5 stars Reading Lolita in Tehran : A Memoir in Books
Nafisi details her experiences in Iran from 1979 to 1997, when she taught English literature in Tehran universities and hosted a private seminar on Western literature for female university students. Born and raised in Iran, the author offers readers a personal account of events in the postrevolutionary period that are often generalized by other writers. She was a witness to compulsory veiling, the "cultural revolution" that closed and purged the universities, the Iraq-Iran war (including missile attacks against Tehran), and the Ayatollah Khomeini's death. Nafisi provides readers with a view of Tehran during these tumultuous two decades and describes the ways that individuals resisted and defied the new regime's restrictive policies concerning both women's and men's behavior and dress. Readers interested in Western literature and the ways that key works could be interpreted by those living in different settings and times will find this book fascinating. Specialists on Iran, the Middle East, and Islam will also find the work unique, controversial, and informative. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Most public and academic collections and levels.

5-0 out of 5 stars Classical Celebration
<br /> Through turmoil, heartbreak and heartache comes the courageous and celebrated life of women. This will be one of the classics that will be handed down through the generations to come. A beautifully written and prolific book for all to read. <br /> Other reads are: Nightmares Echo by Katlyn Stewart,A Paper Life by Tatum O'Neil <br />

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Style
Excellent style of writing,a story that captures your attention and holds it. I am a fan of Non Fiction works, Particularly that of Memoirs-Autobiographies. This book is meaty and hard to put down. Other Non Fiction works that have caught my attention are- Running With Scissors,One Child and Nightmares Echo

2-0 out of 5 stars didnt like it either
I had a few probs with this book.

1. Nafisi talks at length about the vices of the islamic republic of iran - which i wholly empathize with - however, she fails to give substantial background on the how the country reached this state ie. the radical secularism that plagued the country only a generation before, under the 'shah'. And while this seems like a mere detail, its very significant, as it provides a sociological context for the political ongoings Nafisi writes so much about.
2. she seems a bit whiny to me and kind of passive....
3. maybe its bc i havent read most of the books she mentions, but I found her running commentaries on the books a bit boring and tedious. I felt like i was reading a book report or something.
4. the one thing i expected from this book was a heartwarming narrative of female bonding (think female"dead poets society" or "how to make an american quilt"). instead, i found the relationship nafisi conjurs somewhat empty and unsatisfying. i felt like she was trying to take me somewhere and we never got there.

so i didnt really like this book basically. ... Read more


37. Ten Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Went Out into the Real World
by Maria Shriver
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446526126
Catlog: Book (2000-04-15)
Publisher: Warner Books
Sales Rank: 19492
Average Customer Review: 3.72 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Maria Shriver's warmth, humor, and wisdom are evident on every page of this little book. Inspired by her commencement speech at the College of the Holy Cross, the book contains stories and insights that will be helpful, entertaining, and encouraging to graduates at every stage of life. The lessons themselves--"be willing to fail," "stand your ethical ground," "marriage is a hell of a lot of hard work"--are nothing new. What makes them interesting are the life stories that accompany them and Shriver's personable, friendly style. Reading this book feels like having a cup of coffee with a wise and funny friend. Tales of her first television experiences are surprising and hilarious, and she takes balancing motherhood and career to new levels--imagine postponing an interview with Fidel Castro to get your daughter to her first day of kindergarten! Each chapter is easy to read and ends with a focused lesson--kind of a bullet point from her original speech--that encourages readers to be ultimately true to themselves and their dreams, while cutting through harmful illusions. The last chapter, on laughter, is one to read again and again. Shriver maintains that without laughter not much else matters, and in life's toughest times it's laughter that gets us through. For anyone starting a new adventure--graduation, marriage, parenthood, career shift, or a milestone birthday--Ten Things I Wish I'd Known brings wisdom, laughter, practical suggestions, and a down-to-earth manner together into one fabulous gift. --Jill Lightner ... 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


38. Diane Arbus Revelations
by Diane Arbus
list price: $100.00
our price: $66.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375506209
Catlog: Book (2003-09-30)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 4396
Average Customer Review: 4.83 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Muscle men, midgets, socialites, circus performers and asyluminmates: in the 1950s and '60s, photographer Diane Arbus (1923-1971) cast herstrong eye on them all, capturing them as no one else could. Herdocumentary-style photos of society's margin-walkers were objective andreverential, while she often portrayed so-called normal people looking farmore freakish than the freaks. Her powerful work was well-received in itsday. Arbus received Guggenheim Fellowships in 1963 and 1966 and wasincluded in a major show at MOMA in 1967. But her work entered the realm ofnear-myth after her 1971 suicide.

Posthumously cast as everything from patron saint of the underdog to a crassexploiter of the mentally challenged, Arbus has curiously never had a largeretrospective until the show Revelations was organized by Arbus'family and SF MOMA. The accompanying catalogue is an oversized, sumptuous,beautifully printed tome. It includes all of the artist's iconic photographsas well as many that have never been publicly exhibited, including manypages of contact sheets, journal entries, and family snapshots. This work isso strong, it's mind-blowing. The giant in his apartment with his parentslooks absolutely regal, his parents sad and confused. Are those crazy peoplealways so happy? And what to make of this moment of extreme tendernessbetween a dominatrix and her client? This is a book worth hours of yourtime.--Mike McGonigal ... Read more

Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Warning! For hard-core Arbus fans only
I enjoy Diane Arbus' photos, but this book is too much for me. Her photos are only a small part of the book -- the majority of the book is a catalogue of her life. The contact sheets are quite interesting, as they reveal a lot about how she approached a subject. The rest will likely appeal only to hardcore Arbus fans.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Monograph as Art Form
DIANE ARBUS: REVELATIONS is one of the most beautiful monographs of an artist I have ever seen or read. This over-sized, beautifully bound, highest quality paper, extraordinarily fine reproductions of photogravure, and sensitively designed and written catalogue for the touring museum exhibition of Diane Arbus Photographs is simply magnificent and well worth the rather steep price. But a state-of-the-art monograph would be of little consequence were it not about one of the most controversial and phenomenally gifted photographers of the last century. Arbus had an affinity for capturing people she encountered because they produced a source of wonder in her. Her eyes were attracted to the edges of normal appearance and anatomy where she captured luminously tender photographs of developmentally challenged fellow human beings. There are countless images of children and adults who have survived a life of 'non-normalcy' and she framed them in her camera's eye with no sense of the voyeur, but instead with a great sense of humanism. Here are portraits of giants with their parents, patients from mental institutions, carnival folk, transvestites, anatomic wonders, as well as simple twins, people she found fascinating, populated places that struck her imagination. The photogrpahs of Diane Arbus have become icons and the contributors to this volume help to propel her already praiseworthy status to that of a genius: Sandra Phillips' essay 'The Question of Belief', photographer Neil Selkirk's intimate 'In the Darkroom' (Selkirk is the only person allowed to develop prints of Arbus' output), and the beautifully conceptualized and constructed Chronology by Doon Arbus and Elisabeth Sussman bringing to us rarely seen portions of Arbus' output and thoughts - all of these are rendered in the best of taste and finest of scholarship. Finally, here is a volume that fleshes out the magnificence of the art of Diane Arbus. This bibliophile's dream of a book deserves awards and most important, deserves your attention. Highly recommended as a true collector's item.

5-0 out of 5 stars Revealing, revalatory
I own two Arbus monographs and have lived with them for over 20 years. Many of those works are reproduced in this volume. There is a lot of talk about "the human condition" and I suppose all artists in one way or another wrestle with the notion. Arbus has always meant to me someone who seemed to reveal who we are beneath the fashion, the roles, the sex, the culture. I used one of her images as a means to illuminate a poster for a Sam Shepard play called Icarus' Mother - it was of a very young New York boy holding a toy hand grenade in a threatening way during play in Central Park - once seen never forgotten.
Nor will I forget her self portrait, naked pregnant, in this latest volume. So much. So much. This is the volume Arbus lovers have been waiting for. Printed in Germany, beautifully bound, positively packed with images, diary entries, extracts from letters, comment. A bargain.

4-0 out of 5 stars Arbus according to Arbus
This is the catalog for a show that opened this week at SFMOMA. It is also a document of considerable authority and very little of the cult shrine that is part of the show. There is no doubt that this is a thorough assessment of Arbus' place in the history of her medium. The first chapter of of the written material is scholarly and completely devoid of the overstatement usually plastered on Diane Arbus. Instead, the author relates her work to that of her various teachers and influences, Lisette Model, Gary Winogrand, Lee Friedlander, August Sander, and many others. There are numerous references to and from her notebooks as well as the notes of others but the writing is neither superfluous nor voyeuristic. It is art history at its best.

The selection of her photographs is comprehensive and well organized as you would expect from her estate which owns them all. No doubt the Fraenkel Gallery near SFMOMA had a lot to do with the quality of the show and book. Read it before you attend the show and you will learn a lot even if you've never heard of her.

Coupled with the detailed chronology of her life, the images give a clear picture of a character which has been obscured by mythology and rumor for 30 years. I am not a fan of Diane Arbus (and certainly not a detractor) but I gained a lot of respect for her as an artist as I read her notes and quotes about her own work.
If you are looking for a biography of a brave young woman artist in the mid-twentieth century, this one is good. It is thorough and not editorialized with adjulation. The only gratuitious facts that I would have left out are the cold details of her death in the coroner's reports at the end of the book. Yet I get the impression this is the way she would have wanted it. This is the book she would have written. Absent some equal scholarship to the contrary, this is the truth about Diane Arbus.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Powerful Book
Thank you Doon Arbus for publishing it. ... Read more


39. John Kenneth Galbraith : His Life, His Politics, His Economics
by Richard Parker
list price: $35.00
our price: $23.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374281688
Catlog: Book (2005-02-16)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Sales Rank: 449
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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From Amazon.ca

John Kenneth Galbraith has led an extraordinary life. The world's most famous living economist started teaching at Harvard when he was just 25 years old and has sold seven million copies of his four dozen books. One reviewer said Galbraith wrote "history that reads like a poem." During World War II, at age 32, he was named "tsar" of consumer-price controls in the United States, and he later advised three American presidents and served as ambassador to India. Now in his 90s, Galbraith is still active and has received 50 honorary degrees. All this was accomplished by a Canadian born in a tiny Ontario farming hamlet, whose major at an obscure agricultural college wasn't even economics but animal husbandry. Such an irony is typical of Galbraith's renowned iconoclasm, writes Richard Parker in his 820-page biography John Kenneth Galbraith.

Parker shows how Galbraith's irreverent views were shaped by the Depression, which helped turn him into a passionate advocate of Keynesian economics, the philosophy that inspired FDR's New Deal. Galbraith later became one of the architects of the expansion of federal social services after World War II. Because of his influence in successive administrations, readers get a fascinating fly-on-the-wall picture of debates and intrigue inside the White House during many of the major crises of the Cold War. Galbraith frequently played crucial behind-the-scenes roles that went beyond the duties of an economist: advising President Kennedy during the Cuba missile crisis, helping Lyndon Johnson write his first speech after Kennedy was assassinated, and opposing the Vietnam War, which became his most passionate cause. He later criticized the dismantling of government programs under Ronald Reagan and seemed to love clashing with conservative economists. Parker managed to sift through a mountain of material from Galbraith's long and lively years to distill an engaging narrative that, like Galbraith's own books, is easily accessible to non-economists. --Alex Roslin ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Long but Fascinating
I am a general reader with little familarity with economics, but I found this biography of Galbraith interesting right up to the end.It is a long book--669 pages of text. Richard Parker's writing is up to Galbraith's own, and is worthy of the task of writing Galbraith's professional biography--there is little of his personal life, which I didn't miss at all.For the layman, a little more explanation of economics terms might have been helpful, but reading further usually clears up the confusion, which I probably wouldn't have needed if I had taken Economics 101. Read it, especially if you are an old-time liberal and Keynesian!

4-0 out of 5 stars A Must Read
The author covers an enourmous amount of economic, social and political ground in a way that is informative and entertaining.
Richard Parker does not come off as overly biased toward Galbraith and the ideas he stands for. Parker is able to pull-off an objective interpretation to not only the life and contributions of Galbraith himself, but also his masters.

4-0 out of 5 stars Dense and interesting, but a little heavy on the economics
John Kenneth Galbraith has been the most famous and widely read economist in the world. An engaging writer and drily quotable, he published four dozen books and countless articles, served as adviser to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and regularly blasted subsequent Republican administrations. Galbraith served on a post-war commission that studied strategic bombing of Germany (and concluded that despite its tremendous moral cost, it had had little or no effect on the Nazi war machine-much to our military's embarrassment), had a successful two-year stint as ambassador to India, was an early and vocal opponent of the Vietnam War, and even published three novels.

Richard Parker presents the first substantial biography of this six-foot-eight-inch, Canadian-born Harvard professor who refused to hide in academia. As co-founding editor and publisher of "Mother Jones" magazine, consultant and fundraiser for Democratic candidates and Greenpeace, and finally Harvard professor of economics and public policy himself, Parker was almost uniquely situated to draw a richly sympathetic portrait. Galbraith is not an inherently interesting man, nor do his life and theories present an especially compelling read. What makes the book worthwhile is its mosaic of the many worlds through which Galbraith moved: It offers an excellent review of recent political and economic history, though the slant is decidedly liberal.

It's good to be reminded that different political parties have repeatedly been thought dead (the Democrats in 1955 and 1985, Republicans in 1941 and 1965), only to rise again, and that the nation handled dire economic crises (inflation in 1971, the first oil crisis in 1973, the Depression itself), if uneasily and temporarily. Galbraith forecast the failure of Republican economic policies, the growth of corporate management that is unresponsive to shareholders and manipulates demand, and repeatedly scolded his profession for its increasing worship of complex mathematical modeling that ignores huge chunks of political and economic reality-such as burgeoning military budgets or the public good-to make the numbers work.

He saw the details as well as the big picture, and practiced what he preached. Galbraith froze his own Harvard salary after his books began to sell, and turned back the surplus to his department. He gave his longtime housekeeper a condo upon her retirement, directed a percentage of his books' royalties to his assistant and editor, and set up an anonymous fund to assist students who found themselves unexpectedly pregnant.

Parker seems to want to reach a broader, general audience, but his explanations of economic theory will leave lay readers lost. One would do well to keep a dummy's or complete idiot's guide to economics by one's elbow while reading this book.

Not terribly lively but solid, this book offers plenty of consolation for the mournful blue stater who chooses to scale it, and food for thought about where we might (and maybe should) be headed.

5-0 out of 5 stars The high tide of the Keynesian era
This colorful and anecdotal biography of Galbraith stretchesacross almost the whole of the twentieth century and in the telling leaves behind a cogent history of economics and American government, stretching from the Keynsian revolution to the breaking up of the classic liberalism of the Roosevelt era beginning with Nixon. Galbraith's life puts a lens to the fine grain of virtually all the significant developments since the decade of the thirties and the Depression and leaves behind a lot of insightful asides about the interaction of economists with politicians. The record of clear-headed advice given, but not always taken, has some grimmer moments, such as the repeated cautions and warnings from Galbraith about Vietnam, even as Kennedy was overtaken by events. The picture of the high-tide of Keynesianism is refreshing after two decades of economic sophistry from the post-Reagan generation. You would think that Republicans could manage economies, but the record shows a great fall, as the crackpots with their fancy models and the rest of the looters took over. We could use some the common sense and economic basics that Galbraith once provided (and he wasn't a kneejerk Keynsian). Instead we may be undone by the voodoo artists and their laffer curves, nothing to laugh at anymore as the American public gets swindled one more time. Superb double history, the man, and the American scene. ... Read more


40. The Treehouse : Eccentric Wisdom from My Father on How to Live, Love, and See
by Naomi Wolf
list price: $24.00
our price: $16.32
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743249771
Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 2327
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Bestselling author Naomi Wolf was brought up to believe that happiness is something that can be taught -- and learned. In this magical book, Naomi shares the enduring wisdom of her father, Leonard Wolf, a poet and teacher who believes that every person is an artist in their own unique way, and that personal creativity is the secret of happiness.

Leonard Wolf is a true eccentric. A tall, craggy, good-looking man in his early eighties, he's the kind of person who likes to use a medieval astrolabe, dress in Basque shepherd's clothing, and convince otherwise sensible people to quit their jobs and follow their passions. A gifted teacher, he's dedicated his life to honoring individualism, creativity, and the inspirational power of art. Leonard believes, and has made many others believe, that inside everyone is an artist, and success and happiness in life depend on whether or not one values and acts upon one's creative impulse. In The Treehouse, Naomi Wolf's most personal book yet, Naomi outlines her father's lessons in creating lasting happiness and offers inspiration for the artist in all of us.

The book begins when Naomi asks Leonard to help build a treehouse for his granddaughter. Inspired by his dedication to her daughter's imaginative world, Naomi asks her father to walk her through the lessons of his popular poetry class and show her how he teaches people to liberate their creative selves. Drawn from Leonard's handwritten lecture notes, the chapters of The Treehouse remind us to "Be Still and Listen," "Use Your Imagination," "Do Nothing Without Passion," and that "Your Only Wage Will Be Joy," and "Mistakes Are Part of the Draft." More than an education in poetry writing, this is a journey of self-discovery in which the creative endeavor is paramount.

Naomi also offers glimpses into her father's past -- from his youth during the Depression to his bohemian years as a poet in 1950s San Francisco -- and the evolution of Leonard's highly individualistic vision of the artist's way. She reconsiders her own childhood and realizes the transformative effect Leonard's philosophy has had on her own life, as well as the lives of her students and friends. The Treehouse is ultimately a stirring personal history, a meditation on fathers and daughters, an argument for honoring the creative impulse, and unique instruction in the art of personal happiness. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Treasurable Tribute
This daughter's tribute to her father is a very compelling and, at times, disturbing read.I say disturbing because Leonard Wolf is both a towering, magnetic intellect and passionately even dogmatically convicted, "all or nothing" personality.As T. S. Eliot said of Samuel Johnson, "he is a dangerous man to disagree with." In the section titled, Do Nothing Without Passion, I did feel much empathy for a poor soul named, Malcolm, against whom I felt, as he was an absent and shunned husband, Naomi and Leonard united.At a climactic moment when Leonard, Naomi, and Malcolm's wife are discussing the wife's marriage, Leonard invokes a passage from Chaucer's, Troilus and Criseyde, to proclaim, "Chaucer is saying that after a while, Criseyde felt no pain at the absence of Troilus. If a string with knots was pulled through a heart, it would hurt!No knots, no pain.You marry someone if you literally cannot live without them; if they have made knots in your heart that cannot ever be released, by time, by distance. About marriage, it means, in plain words: if there is no passion, forget it" Aside from Leonard probably being right, painful as that is to process, I would have to ask both Leonard and Naomi, how would you feel if your wife or husband were the beneficiary of such an exhortation by the well-intentioned in your absence?

As a father of two independent daughters I was yet extremely moved by Naomi Wolf's tribute to her father; thrilled also by the generosity with which she shared so much and so intimately from his views and his life.Leonard Wolf is, I emphasize, a man of intense vibrancy and depth that goes far beyond his horror fiction scholarship. Estimable as his criticism is, I have long known and sought his other many sides as poet, dramatist, and novelist (perhaps this book will spark a Leonard Wolf revival so we can finally enjoy his science fiction poetry and his dramatization of The Rape of Lock among other works that have never been widely available).I also must confess that I came to the book very eagerly and very eagerly biased as I was very blessed to have been a part of his Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, seminar in back in 1971 when I experienced the man first hand.His teaching went way beyond the seminar subject, and it has had a huge impact on my life."No one, absolutely no one, is exonerated from the love experience," I can still his deep, soft voice intoning.He took that observation to an explanation of how Emily Dickinson had so much more to say about love than Walt Whitman did (I sure as hell agree with him on that).

At first glance many of the title headings, such as Use Your Imagination and Identify Your Hearts Desire might appear to be from a book that is just another spin from the vast amount of banality flooding out of the human potential movement.As one reads the accounts in the book, however, one can see how Leonard Wolf lives his values in such a convincing way that one must confront him directly, either to follow or strongly depart.I have discovered that I have learned far more from differing with him, and pursuing the challenge in the difference, than from living comfortably in agreeing with him (I agree with him on many if not most of his views).

Treehouse is a treasure.
... Read more


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