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121. The Secret Language of Girlfriends:
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122. Maus : A Survivor's Tale : My
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123. Boss Tweed: The Rise and Fall
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124. Right Turns : Unconventional Lessons
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125. W. Eugene Smith Photographs 1934-1975
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126. John Adams
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127. White House Nannies: True Tales
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128. Chyna Black
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130. Chasing Matisse : A Year in France
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131. Multitude: War and Democracy in
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132. Born to Rule : Five Reigning Consorts,
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133. Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life
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134. No Lights, No Sirens : The Corruption
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135. The Long Walk: The True Story
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136. Let Me Hear Your Voice : A Family's
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137. Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign
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138. Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
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139. Expecting Adam: A True Story of
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140. Wild Swans : Three Daughters of

121. The Secret Language of Girlfriends: Talking Loudly, Laughing Wildly, and Making the Most of Our Most Important Friendships
by Karen Neuburger, Nadine Schiff
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1401301630
Catlog: Book (2005-04)
Publisher: Hyperion
Sales Rank: 12955
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"For better or worse, for richer or poorer, your girlfriends are yours for life." --Karen Neuburger

A joyful celebration of female friendship in all its wild, poignant, and inspirational glory.

Karen has spent the past ten years collecting stories of love, laughter, and inspiration between girlfriends from the thousands of women she comes in contact with through her work as the founder of an immensely popular lifestyle company. Often funny, sometimes sad, but always enlightening and uplifting, these testimonials show that in a world where women are constantly being pulled in several directions, they can always rely on their girlfriends to be there for them.

Celebrating these rare and unique bonds between women, The Secret Language of Girlfriends shows how restorative friendship can be and how setting aside time to be around other women can have a transforming effect. Whether it's getting over a breakup, struggling with family frustrations, dealing with illness and loss, or simply just shopping 'til you drop and sharing a bottle of wine over dinner, being around your girlfriends can make all the difference in the world.

The Secret Language of Girlfriends is Karen Neuburger's personal prescription for more happiness and fulfillment in life -- a healthy dose of girlfriendship! As the perfect gift from one girlfriend to another, it's sure to find a place on every woman's bookshelf. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars I now know what this girlfriend thing is all about
I expected one of those easy, fun, skim-the-surface reads when THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF GIRLFRIENDS arrived in my mailbox recently. Before even opening the envelope, I was already imagining something along the lines of those tacky TV "chick shows" about the pitfalls of Internet romance, the miracle of cosmetic makeovers, breathless tell-all forums on perfect love-making, how to shop for shoes, etc. etc.

In other words, I was expecting style, self-absorption and perhaps some cynical wit. But substance? Soul-stirring inspiration? Genuine cosmic insight? After all, we're talking girlfriends here --- you know, the kind of relationships formed in high school washrooms, in shopping malls, over interminable phone calls that drove our parents mad.

But now it's confession and celebration time. I was wrong --- and I was never happier to be wrong.

You see, I couldn't actually reach the mailbox to get Karen Neuberger's wonderful revelation about female friendship. Thanks to some rogue bacterium, a minor leg injury went terribly wrong, leaving me miserably chair-bound, very sore, frustrated at my doctor's orders to choke down those antibiotics, and not a little worried about the long-term effects on my mobility.

It was a visiting girlfriend who cleared my mailbox, made coffee, did my dishes, even fed the cat, and then sat down and kept me company all evening with some of the best conversation I'd had in ages. And of course she told all the other girlfriends. I had become a team project!

A few days later, as I was deeply immersed in the anecdotes and insight of THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF GIRLFRIENDS, another brought over dark chocolate, flowers, and an unfinished knitting project. She insisted on doing my laundry while I sorted out her dropped stitches. Then we shared the chocolate, talked, watched a favorite Britcom, talked, laughed ourselves silly, talked.... Several others joined the relay in the following days, knowing exactly what to do, when to do it, and how much.

Finally, I realized that this is what it's all about, the girlfriend thing. We were living what Neuberger has packed so brilliantly --- and substantially --- into every page. I also realized that who we are as befriending and tending women has got to be genetic, uniquely hardwired into every healthy feminine psyche from the dawn of creation.

And so a week-from-hell that had begun with a fearful six-hour ordeal in the local hospital ER, ended in happy tears, gales of laughter, and above all, the indescribable grace of knowing I would never be alone when some dumb luck crisis suddenly strikes. As one of my long-distance "broad squad" members reminded me during a two-hour phone call across three time-zones, it just happened to be my turn to "get the treatment" --- to be spoiled, reassured, affirmed, propped up, accepted unconditionally in my worst moods, and loved into healing.

I'm still spending a lot of time with the inconvenient leg propped up, but I'm beating the blues now by reading my favorite bits of THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF GIRLFRIENDS aloud, sometimes for the second or third time, to this wonderful, extravagant herd of women, whose collective power to release healing endorphins never fails to astonish me.

Neuberger may not have invented the "secret" of our intuitive language, but few writers communicate its vocabulary and grammar with such authentic experience and delightful skill. This is one "chick book" that belongs on every mature woman's bookshelf --- if you can actually keep it there.

Be firm, be strong: tell the girlfriends to go buy their own copies.

--- Reviewed by Pauline Finch

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Gift!
A great read! I thoroughly enjoyed every page. In fact, I thought it was so much fun I purchased a book for each of my girlfriends and plan on giving the book as gifts on our annual summer road trip to the coast. It brought up so many memories of my own experiences...I loved it! Cherish your girlfriends...Thank you Karen.

1-0 out of 5 stars Secret marketing ploys and celebrity suck up .......
At first glance this book looked like a really fun read.Cute cover and catchy concepts it seemed like it would something right up my alley.I was very wrong.The book talks all about the sort of girlfriends that one may want to have or hope to have over the course of her lifetime.That's all fine and dandy (not to mention obvious) but does anyone really need to read 200+ pages of the author's fond memories of her friends? Is it necessary to suck up to Oprah right in the dedication and then barely mention her in those 200+ pages? I also did not appreciate the cheap marketing ploy that involved the author plugging her stupid pajama line.I don't think that the author imparts any true words of wisdom and I seriously doubt there is much for anyone to gain by reading this book.You could do better things with your time like perhaps watching Thelma & Louise, A League of their Own, Beaches, Steel Magnolias, etc.... Don't waste your time or money on this.Don't even waste a trip to the library - grab a girlfriend and go shopping instead!!!!

4-0 out of 5 stars A gentle Read
I have read half of the book in just two days. It is a great read. I felt like I could relate to a lot of what was being said. The tales are of everyday women in everyday situations. It is comfortable to know that others out there feel as you do during any stage of your life. ... Read more

122. Maus : A Survivor's Tale : My Father Bleeds History/Here My Troubles Began/Boxed
by Art Spiegelman
list price: $28.00
our price: $18.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679748407
Catlog: Book (1993-10-19)
Publisher: Pantheon
Sales Rank: 2928
Average Customer Review: 4.45 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Volumes I & II in paperback of this 1992 Pulitzer Prize-winning illustrated narrative of Holocaust survival. ... Read more

Reviews (107)

5-0 out of 5 stars More subtle than can be understood in a single reading
These books are an easy and fast read, but by no means are they simple. In two slim comic books, Art Spiegelman chronicles his parents' movement from comfortable homes in Poland to the death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau, and from there to a surreally banal afterlife in upstate New York. We watch the destruction of the Holocaust continue in Spiegelman's father's transformation from a bright, good-looking youth to a miserly neurotic, his mother's deterioration from a sensitive, sweet girl into a suicide, and in the author's own unhappy interactions with his parents.

I have read some of the most negative reviews of these books, and I respectfully disagree. Some negative reviews ("Spiegelman is a jerk") castigate Spiegelman for his shamefully self-interested milking of his father's life and the Holocaust. Other negative reviews find fault with the unoriginality of the story, or discover historical inaccuracies, self-contradictions, or simplifications in the tale. Finally, a set of reviews are upset with Spiegelman's coding of people of different nationalities as animals(especially the Poles, who were also victimized by the Nazis but are depicted as pigs in the comics.)

The first criticism is both deserved and unfair. Deserved, because Spiegelman profits by the pain and death of millions, including his own family. Unfair, because Spiegelman himself consciously provides the basis for our criticism that he mocked and neglected his elderly father at the same time that he fed his own success upon his father's tales. The two volumes echo with his regret and unexpiable guilt at his treatment of his parents, and at his own success and survival. To attack Spiegelman for these things is like scolding a man in the midst of his self-immolation.

The second type of criticism finds _Maus_ to be sophomoric, inaccurate, or repetitive of other Holocaust survivor's experiences. The defense here is that Maus is the story of a single family, seen through the eyes of a single man (Vladek Spiegelman), and filtered again through his son. It is almost certain that the elderly Vladek forgot, exaggerated, or hid details, just as it is certain that his son summarized and misunderstood. However, the quasi-fictionalized format of the comic book throws this subjectivity into relief. The destroyed diaries of Spiegelman's mother are a reminder of the millions of life stories left untold, including stories perhaps too horrible and shameful for the survivors to reveal. _Maus_ does not claim to be an objective, authoritative history of the Holocaust, and in fact tries to emphasize its own limitations.

While other works may better convey the Jewish experience in the Holocaust, the innovative format of _Maus_ justifies its existence, as it allows the story to reach a greater audience.

Finally, many have objected to the negative stereotyping of the many peoples appearing in the book, especially the Poles. Spiegelman draws the Jews as innocent mice, but the Germans as bloodthirsty cats, and the Poles as selfish pigs. More amusingly (because they appear infrequently in the story) the French are drawn as frogs, the Swedes as reindeer, and the British as cold fish. The Americans are dogs, mainly friendly bow-wow dogs but also sometimes cold-eyed predators capable of pouncing on a mouse or rat. I believe that the wrongness of stereotypes was a major reason why Spiegelman used them. The Nazis are recorded as having called the Jews "vermin" and the Poles "pigs". Whether they had the qualities of these animals or not, they were treated as such... and such they were forced to become despite themselves. The Jews had to hide, hoard, and deceive; the Poles were compelled to act out of self-interest just to survive.

In other words, I think that Spiegelman's stereotypes were a deliberate choice. The WHOLE POINT of _Maus_ is how the dehumanization of the Holocaust twisted people beyond their capacities... how the camps tried to make people as ugly and despicable as their worst racial stereotypes, by making them all alike in their fear. Sometimes they succeeded.

Neither Poles nor Germans are depicted as only selfish, cowardly, and cruel in _Maus_. In fact, there are many Polish in Spiegelman's books who are shown as fellow-sufferers, or kind despite the risks to their own lives, just as there were Jews who betrayed their own. Look closely at the drawings-- I open Maus II to a random page, and see both pigs and mice in the prison suits, both as capos and victims. Who is the kind priest who renews Vladek's hope on page 28? A Pole! Even the Germans are seen to suffer from the war, caught by powers beyond their control. Meanwhile, Vladek himself is shown to be an inflexible racist (II, p. 98).

I argue, therefore, that the above criticisms of _Maus_ show a hasty reading of the books and poor comprehension of how an artist(even of non-fiction) chooses to convey a theme.

As a non-European, I have no personal investment in Jewish, German, or Polish points of view. However, as a second-generation American and child of war survivors [a civil war, so we are both victims and oppressors], I have a chord that resonates with the story of the Spiegelmans. I just re-read "Maus II" this afternoon and found to my amazement that it was still able to draw tears. In fact, when I first read the Maus books ten years ago I don't recall them affecting me so deeply... but I was younger then and had only an intellectual understanding of many things, such as love, fear, guilt, death, and weakness.

I wholeheartedly recommend these books to those who are willing to read them more than once. If you are not moved by them now, perhaps later you will be. Meanwhile, let's do our best to stop such suffering around the world.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Modern Allegory
A veteran of the underground comic scene in the 1970s and a more recently a cover artist for the New Yorker, in the late 80s, Art Spiegelman undertook a project of interviewing his father Vladek, a Polish Jew who survived the holocaust in Auschwitz. He turned the narrative into an allegorical, graphical representation of the ordeal, in which Europe is a menagerie of humans behaving at our raw, animalistic worst, and perhaps best as well. Umberto Eco claimed that "Maus is a book that cannot be put down, truly, even to sleep." This was certainly true for me when I read it. Perhaps the only 'comic book' (as inappropriate as that term may be here) to win a Pulitzer Prize, Maus is gripping and compelling. Some have criticized it for relating simply a story which was no more remarkable than millions of others. Can anything different be said, however, of Night, or The Diary of Anne Frank? Does that make it any less important that the story be told? And yet, in Spiegelman's cat and mouse play, where moral virtues, failings, and decrepitude are writ large, Maus is also exceptional because of the strength of its allegory, which is almost Spenserian in its strength.

1-0 out of 5 stars Yet Another Sanctimonious Telling of the Holocaust
This is yet another sanctimonious telling of the Holocaust. Maus is the blatant type of trivialization being taught to our children that leaves most unaware of the other victims of the holocaust. For American school children the Holocaust has become synomous with Jewish history. Maus simply reinforces most historical literature which focuses on the six million Jewish victims to the exclusion of the nine million Gentile victims. This book goes so far as to portray one of the Nazis other targets, the Poles, as fattened pigs going about their business unmolested by the Germans! There were three million non-Jewish Poles who perished in this tragedy, many trying to save their Jewish neighbors. Shame!

"The genocidal policies of the Nazis resulted in the deaths of about as many Polish Gentiles as Polish Jews, thus making them co-victims in a Forgotten Holocaust. This Holocaust has been largely ignored because historians who have written on the subject of the Holocaust have chosen to interpret the tragedy in exclusivistic terms--namely, as the most tragic period in the history of the Jewish Diaspora. To them, the Holocaust was unique to the Jews, and they therefore have had little or nothing to say about the nine million Gentiles, including three million Poles, who also perished in the greatest tragedy the world has ever known. Little wonder that many people who experienced these events share the feeling of Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz, who anxious when the meaning of the word Holocaust undergoes gradual modifications, so that the word begins to belong to the history of the Jews exclusively, as if among the victims there were not also millions of Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, and prisoners of other nationalities." Richard C. Lukas, preface to The Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles under German Occupation 1939-1944

1-0 out of 5 stars Anti-Polish Propaganda
While this a moving account of one families experience during the holocaust, the depiction of Poles as pigs in Spiegelman's "Maus" an unfair and highly insulting caricature. Poles suffered horribly under Nazi occupation. No nations suffered worse. Six million Poles were murdered. Roughly half were Jewish and half Gentile. In fact exterminating Poles was also part of the Nazi master-plan. They were victims and to portray them as pigs is a grave injustice. While I read the reviews pointing out pigs have positive traits or are neutral animals, it is disingenuous to present the selection of the pig as representative of the Pole as anything but a slur. Germans are shown as cats. This is no wonder since cats chase mice. Apart from that, cats are quite nice animals. This, however, does not pertain to pigs. I suggest when reading this book you research the positive events in the 1000 history of Polish Jews. For starters, visit Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Over 11,000 'Righteous Gentiles' are honored; almost 5,000 are Polish. These are non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

5-0 out of 5 stars A landmark comics work
"Maus," Art Spiegelman's moving tale of the Holocaust and how it impacts a family a generation later, is hailed as a comics classic for a reason. It is a landmark work that transcends the term "comics."

Through the seemingly absurd decision to use animals in place of people - Jews are mice, for instance, while Nazis are cats - Spiegelman manages to avoid coming across as heavy-handed, exploitative and melodramatic. The reader never feels that they are reading an educational tome with badly drawn people better suited for school than compelling entertainment. Instead, through the use of universal cartoon imagery, the emotional tug of the story is successfully conveyed.

Two threads are woven throughout. The first deals with the Holocaust directly, from the years before Jews were taken to the camps and then to release. The second thread deals with Spiegelman's relationship with his father many years later, and that relationship's ups and downs as the author tries to get the oral history he needs to tell the tale of "Maus." All of the pain, confusion, death, turmoil and horror of the Holocaust comes home, as does the autobiographical tale interwoven throughout of the author's relationship with his father - who is also the central figure of Holocaust survival.

Modern editions of this book ("Maus" was originally published in serial form) are generally produced very well. The two-book slipcase offered here is sturdy and attractive to look at. The pages are printed on thick, glossy stock. The black and white artwork really shines, every stroke visible and vibrant. Mine has been read multiple times and still looks great.

"Maus" is compelling reading that requires no great love of comics to enjoy. History lovers, those interested in the Holocaust, and people who like stories about family struggles will enjoy this. Readers will quickly forget they are reading a comic, instead becoming wrapped up in the story Spiegelman has to tell. A highly recommended buy. ... Read more

123. Boss Tweed: The Rise and Fall of the Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern New York
by Kenneth D. Ackerman
list price: $27.00
our price: $17.82
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786714352
Catlog: Book (2005-03-12)
Publisher: Carroll & Graf
Sales Rank: 3300
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Among the monumental characters who ascended to renown and influence in the history of American politics, few are more fascinating than Boss Tweed; and few working historians could record in more vivid detail his astonishing career than Kenneth D. Ackerman, who in his two previous books has established himself as an investigative historian of the first order. This vibrant, accessible, and altogether captivating new work, Boss Tweed, is a biography of the legendary figure who "bribed the state legislature, fixed elections, skimmed money from city contractors, and diverted public funds on a massive scale." During his reign at Tammany Hall and then in a variety of elected posts, including as U.S. senator, Tweed wielded almost total control over New York State and City politics, before his unparalleled zealotry and remorseless disregard for the law led to his imprisonment. Yet, as Ackerman shows, Tweed's positive political contributions have been largely overlooked. From one of the most talented new historians to have emerged in recent years comes this thrilling story of William Marcy Tweed, the master manipulator who tried to make all of New York the instrument of his own ruthless ambitions, and succeeded-for a time. Numerous historic photographs are also featured. ... Read more

Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Procrustean Politics
Without rancor or bile, Ackerman brings Boss Tweed back from the grave.Without moralizing or proselytizing, Boss Treed and his New York is laid out in its finery for all to view.The idea that Tweed was the root stock of political corruption is also laid to rest.Great read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not much of the rise but the fall is brilliantly told
Perhaps author Kenneth Ackerman and the publishers of "Boss Tweed" can be accused of misrepresenting the book in the subtitle.There is hardly any of Tweed's rise to be found.Virtually the entire book covers the latter years of Tweed's time at the top and then his fall.But oh what a story it is and what a wonderful job Ackerman does of telling it.
Tweed was the iconic big city boss of New Yeark in the years form the Civil War through the start of the gilded age.
Tweed and his cronies brazenly pocketed enormous sums of public money and lived as veritable kings.Indeed, Tweed himself was a king-sized person (over 300 pounds) who lived a king-sized life.
The manner in which he and various other big shots of Tammany Hall siphoned money from city coffers is an amazing story of guile and greed.
Also at the heart of the story are those who sought to bring Tweed and company down (ultimately succeeding, of course) notably eventual New York governor and presidential hopeful Samuel Tilden, and the brilliant political cartoonist Thomas Nast (about whom a worthy full length biography is due).
Ackerman tells the whole of how the might fell and how Tweed took the brunt of that fall for his gang.Included is the story of Tweed's jail time and ill-fated escape from prison out of the country.
Ackerman's book is an important work in understanding post Civil War America, the ways and means of corruption and he nature of political power gone bad.
In Ackerman's more than capable hands Tweed is brought to life.He does not so much render sympathy as he does a bit of admiration.For from the distance of over a century later we can enjoy this corrupt pol for the entertaining stories and cautionary tales that his life provides.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Top American Scoundrel
In my little town, we have councilmen who from time to time might be accused of taking unfair economic advantage of their jobs.In Washington now, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is accused of various instances of taking gifts and bonuses to which he was not entitled.Along with political power at any level comes the ability to use it for one's own financial benefit, always with the hope that no investigative reporter will come asking questions and upsetting the comfortable situation.There are hundreds of instances of financial corruption by politicians, and then there is William Magear "Boss" Tweed, whose name is synonymous with being on the take.In _Boss Tweed: The Rise and Fall of the Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern New York_ (Carroll & Graf), Kenneth D. Ackerman has given an entertaining account of the life of a rascal.Tweed was, in his way, brilliant.He liked people, and he knew how to get them what they wanted if they would just play his game.He had a superb organizational memory, for favors done and for amounts given.As Ackerman writes, "except for his stealing, he would have been a great man; but then had he been honest, he wouldn't have been Tweed and would not have left nearly so great a mark."He did leave his mark on New York, in structures like the Tweed Courthouse, and even the Brooklyn Bridge (or at least he said he had handed out bribes to approve a bond for it).He is remembered for none of what he did, though, except for his stealing, which was for decades more successful and exuberant than any American politician ever, or any that has so far been caught.

Tweed practiced local politics in Tammany Hall, the political organization for the powerful Manhattan Democratic Party.Tammany corruption was an open secret.Tweed got things done within the city, but took his fee for doing so; he and his circle would skim 15% from city contracts, and contractors would agree to pay 35% on all bills in order to have the city's business.Tweed himself was welcomed into the boards of many corporations.He didn't mind his constituents (many of whom were poor Irish immigrants) seeing how well he was doing.He had two yachts, a race horse, a Greenwich estate, a grand Fifth Avenue mansion, and an immense ten and a half carat diamond stickpin that clearly informed any onlooker who was Boss.The stickpin was one of the visual hooks (Tweed's 300 pound frame was another) that Thomas Nast used in his many political cartoons critical of the Boss.Nast and _Harper's_ had no hard evidence that the Boss was stealing; they just harnessed the universal conviction that Tammany was corrupt.The articles exposing Tweed came from the _New-York Times_, which was eager for any facts against the Boss.A bookkeeper in the comptroller's office painstakingly copied one dry financial document after another, and brought the newspaper incontestable evidence of fraud.The problem with the _Times_ stories was that obviously millions had been taken, but there was no one culprit; a Nast cartoon showed a circle of suspects all pointing to the guy on the right.

The "audit trail" was eventually puzzled out by Samuel Tilden, who rode his reform record to nomination for president in 1876.Tweed was arrested, and all the weight of his circle's crimes landed on him, as everyone else went free, not of obloquy but of prison sentences.While Tweed was in jail, he was able to buy favors, and while on a visit home, he disappeared, taking a jaunt to New Jersey, Florida, Cuba, and Spain, where a Nast cartoon was used to help identify him for arrest.He was returned to his New York jail.Tweed knew he had the press to blame for his capture, but was grudgingly admiring of them: "If I could have bought newspapermen as easily as I did members of the Legislature, I wouldn't be in the fix I am now."He made a deal that he would confess everything in order to regain his freedom.He did make a full confession (perhaps too full, taking credit for thefts he had nothing to do with), and was double-crossed, dying in jail in 1878.He had lost his fortune, his wife, and his family, but New York had grown because of him, and even the poor were faring better because of his machinations.Hundreds of workers showed up for his funeral, and thought he had been merely the victim of political malice.This sort of ambiguity shoots through Ackerman's fine book; if we must have selfish scoundrels in our current politics, let us vote in the colorful ones like Boss Tweed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Subject Matter, Great Book
The illustrations prompted me to buy this book, political satire and cartoons fascinate me.Thomas Nast and Harpers Ferry produced some exceptional work on Boss Tweed.Even less balanced than journalism of today - editorial cartoons had superb artwork and were very vicious.

The author provides a well written, lucid and balanced portrait of a politician who was very corrupt (by any standard) but achieved alot.The courthouse he was responsible for building (and was sentenced in)is a great monument for Tweed; most ironic.

The author demonstares well the long term impact Tweed had on New York City.Great book - an empathetic account of a fascinating man.

5-0 out of 5 stars Looking Forward to Another Good Book by Ackerman
I have been looking forward to a new book by Ken Ackerman since reading Dark Horse, his book about President Garfield.Ackerman's Dark Horse was a wonderfully engaging and educational book, and I am sure the same is true of his latest work on Boss Tweed.Politics can be a dirty profession, and Boss Tweed was a master of his trade.Most readers will be shocked at how brazen he was, and surprised at how timid modern day politics seems when compared to Tweed and his contemporaries.I am confident that Ackerman will give us a good look at one of the more interesting figures in New York history.

I've been looking, but haven't seen this a local bookstore yet.I can't wait for it to show up. ... Read more

124. Right Turns : Unconventional Lessons from a Controversial Life
list price: $26.95
our price: $18.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400051878
Catlog: Book (2004-12-28)
Publisher: Crown Forum
Sales Rank: 597
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125. W. Eugene Smith Photographs 1934-1975
by Gilles Mora
list price: $75.00
our price: $75.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0810941910
Catlog: Book (1998-10-15)
Publisher: Harry N Abrams
Sales Rank: 192109
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Eugene Smith... what can I say!
Superb. I am a professional photographer, and i really admire Smiths work. This book is a great collection of some of his images.
The publishers did a good job reproducing the photographs, nice detail and tone. Definitely worth the price.

5-0 out of 5 stars Staff Photographer, Seattle Times, Seattle, Washington
An excellent display and text of one of one of the world's great photojournalists. I would recomend this book highly to any fan of E. Eugne Smith

5-0 out of 5 stars Review of Smith book from an old friend

Having risked hernia to browse the impressive new book of an old friend and neighbor, ( W. Eugene Smith; Photographs 1934-1975 John T. Hill/Gilles Mora) what first grabs is the space, air and light enveloping these intense images with almost a loving caress, a sense of freshness and sunlight never possible in our dim, dingy-dusty claustrophobic Sixth Avenue loft building, where, just outside my studio door, were piled stacks upon stacks of his work mounted on black 16x20 dogeared mats, just waiting to be stolen, but which were, in fact, attributed by many visitors to some magical drugstore, and could I, please, arrange to have their wedding pictures made there, too? Gene couldn't sell one print for even twenty-five bucks in those days. Every night when I came home to sleep there was the despairing Clement Attlee staring upward at the bare light bulb over my doorway.

That was forty years ago, and twenty since Gene went to that great blast of ferrocyanide in the sky, and much ado about him has taken place in the interim. New York fifties mindset was Freudian psychoanalysis; everyone went to a shrink. Any prominent individualistic tendencies were often condemned to one definition of neurosis or another, and in the rather small and specious world of photography , Gene's maverick determination stood out in high relief. Businessmen photographers-- like the young Lee Friedlander, himself awash in Freudophilia, considered Gene a 'spoiler', pretentious-precious, and went instead to sit at the feet of the polymorphous Walker Evans; yes, "pomposity" was pretty much the legend that Gene's exit from LIFE brought down around his head. Not a team player at all; tsk tsk. And in his brave repudiation of corporate moloch, Gene valiantly pratfalled himself right into the lap of utter poverty.

To large extent, Gene's persona seemed to require a struggle against impossible odds; it focused and sharpened him to the high standards he demanded from himself , and he was no slouch when it came to grandstanding, often with tears, his anti-Goliath position. He built his own Myth of Smith, his self-invented public (relations?) image, fine when LIFE was footing the bill, but now, inside our firetrap former whorehouse , there was real rent to pay, real electric bills, bona fide empty refrigerators. That is about when we began to get acquainted--- I never really bought the Myth; for me he was just the strangely interesting guy downstairs who became a great pal.

Outside the loft, Gene was quick to acquire the packagable cliche of the garret-starved self-destructive artist. Compared to Van Gogh, he earned some residue of American Puritan contempt; this man whose great humanity was most evident in his work was treated most inhumanely by his peers.

Inside the loft, for many years the two of us were in daily contact, working and trying to exist under extremely difficult economic circumstances, and we often had one helluva good time!! I found him to be a genial, generous, courageous---often outrageous-- warm wildly witty man, always humble, sensitive, shy and hard-working, sharing a great interest in art, with a remarkable philosophical perspective. We jabbered of Welles and Chaplin , wide angle lenses, witches, Goya, Haiti, Satchmo, Stravinsky, O'Casey, Joyce, Kazan, war, suicide, politics, cock-fought over girls, guzzled cheap scotch, and swung with the jazz that regularly took place in my studio , as if great mind trips could avert the cold fact of the necessity to eat. I remember one hot summer day, making cream cheese and molasses sandwiches for us on cinamon bread. Gene argued that we didn't have to buy the molasses because we could get the iron from our rusty tap water. As a rule, his antic humor and punning sense managed always to keep things slightly off-balance; this man who had such a profoundly dramatic instinct and attraction for the tragic had also a capricious spirit of the absurd in the way he conducted his daily life; Van Gogh with a manic dash of Robin Williams.

And astonishingly productive. Yet always the gloomy impassioned chairoscuro came out of the darkroom-- prints blacker than black, then mounted on black, dense, intense, often in layout strangulation, making sure; I , W. Eugene Smith , won't let you go gently into that unferrocyanided good night. Sans assignments, now more artist than journalist, for years on end Gene shuffled his prints, made and remade PITTSBURG, photographed our jazz and our personal La Boheme, tried a failed book, a failed magazine, and finally luck brought him The Jewish Museum show and then his crescendo, Minimata.

One night in Bradley's in 1975, Gene said, "Well, Dave, I finally got there at last. I've got ten thousand dollars in the bank for the first time. Of course, it's only going to be there about a week."

Jump cut posthumous; an icon, passed away amongst us, is now suddenly acknowledged. Many who jeered him, refused him recognition, now come out to sycophant, to pedestal, to celebrate his life-- including LIFE itself. Gee, we're SO sorry; but let's exploit!

Those twenty-five dollar prints buckled the registers at auctions, and giant profits were made; yes, the same old art-woe story--- just at the time Vinnie the Gogh himself was pulling down millions in Sotheby sales. The dark side of Gene, finally, surely, took care of his children and at least one of his wives.

We get a brilliant and sensitive biography by Jim Hughes, a soso documentary, worldwide traveling shows. And then it seemed over. "There's no money left around for Gene Smith anymore" comments executor John Morris in the late eighties, handing his stewardship over to Gene's bastard son.

Now, surprise! comes this current coffee table dominatrix which gives Gene's babies, his pictures, the opportunity to have a life of their own in renewal. SNAP!! Of course one can argue anew the merits of the individual essays and which choices are the best, etc., but for myself-- having gone to bed amidst these images for many years, there's something new about them now; suddenly welcome. There is a spank-spank/no-no here; not all of what we see are Gene's own prints, very much against the artist's wishes, but the damage is by no means on the level of, say, Clement Greenberg's sanding off the paint on David Smith's sculptures after his death. And most of these choices help illuminate Gene's way of seeing and working. There are also textual inaccuracies; Hall Overton did not own the loft bldg. I had rented three floors, and Hall rented originally from me, and my friend Sid Grossman sent over Harold Feinstein to share Hall's floor. When Harold left, he brought in Gene.

I liked John Hill's technical essay at the closure. I was with Gene the night MAD EYES burnt out all the surrounding background, with ritual Clan MacGregor celebration, for neither of us-- one painter, one photographer-- gave a whit about 'objectivity'.

This spacious book-bomb adds honor and light to these master photographs, allowing them their own life and breathing room not usually available. Gene's insistence on control force-gilded his lilies, giving barely any space in his layouts to let the eye feel free to wander on its own volition. Now one can look afresh with impunity, and they look a bit different--even better.

In any event, Gene, now busily groping angels, can no longer argue in his own defense, no longer joke, weep, holler, cajole, rage, pun. And he doesn't need to.

You know? This fellow really had one goddamned great eye and sense of when.

David X Young

Oct 22 1998 ... Read more

126. John Adams
by David McCullough
list price: $35.00
our price: $23.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0684813637
Catlog: Book (2001-05-22)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 6626
Average Customer Review: 4.62 out of 5 stars
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Left to his own devices, John Adams might have lived out his days as a Massachusetts country lawyer, devoted to his family and friends. As it was, events swiftly overtook him, and Adams--who, David McCullough writes, was "not a man of the world" and not fond of politics--came to greatness as the second president of the United States, and one of the most distinguished of a generation of revolutionary leaders. He found reason to dislike sectarian wrangling even more in the aftermath of war, when Federalist and anti-Federalist factions vied bitterly for power, introducing scandal into an administration beset by other difficulties--including pirates on the high seas, conflict with France and England, and all the public controversy attendant in building a nation.

Overshadowed by the lustrous presidents Washington and Jefferson, who bracketed his tenure in office, Adams emerges from McCullough's brilliant biography as a truly heroic figure--not only for his significant role in the American Revolution but also for maintaining his personal integrity in its strife-filled aftermath. McCullough spends much of his narrative examining the troubled friendship between Adams and Jefferson, who had in common a love for books and ideas but differed on almost every other imaginable point. Reading his pages, it is easy to imagine the two as alter egos. (Strangely, both died on the same day, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.) But McCullough also considers Adams in his own light, and the portrait that emerges is altogether fascinating. --Gregory McNamee ... Read more

Reviews (536)

5-0 out of 5 stars Never Disappointing
John Adams was a patriot, a devoted husband, father, and friend. This is itself is not too extraordinary. What marks his life, however, is his devotion to the written word. Over the course of his long and fruitful life, Adams was an obsessive letter-writer. Lucky for us! McCullough weaves political and national history with Adams' amazing volume of personal letters, allowing us to view both the relevant history as well as the man behind the history. Indeed, the long dealings with the complex relationship between Adams and Jefferson is wonderful; however, it would be in poor form to single out any one part of the book as extraordinary. It is all extraordinary!
I'll admit that in some parts the book seemed a bit long, but it was never boring, never uninteresting, and never non-entertaining.
After having read McCullough's "Truman," I was very happy to see his latest work. I find his writing style to be lucid and captivating. Try it - you won't be disappointed.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Man Of Sound Moral Principle
My husband and I listened to the audio tape of this book and it was truly time well spent. Each morning, along with our coffee, we had breakfast with John and Abigail Adams. They both made a lasting impression in my mind. David McCullough did a fantastic job of bringing John & Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin to life. The historical events became more interesting when interjected with the feelings and reflections that the founding fathers had on the various events. The author used excerpts from countless letters that passed between Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, and other great men, to give us their thoughts in their own words.

John Adams, the man seemed to have been brilliant, pompous, very
likable and extremely exasperating. His personal integrity noted by many people was one of his most prominent features.From a Massachusetts country lawyer, he went on to become a member of the Continental Congress, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He secured loans from the Dutch for the fledgling American government, helped to negotiate the peace treaty with Great Britain and, for three years served as our first minister to the Court of Saint James in London. He was our first Vice President serving under George Washington and, of course our second President.

Many pages are devoted to the often troubled relationship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. They made their peace in the last years of their lives, and the letters that passed between these two American icons, were wonderful. In the end, they shared one final day. They both died on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

McCullough even gives us a love story that’s told through the letters and diaries of John and Abigail. The love and sacrifices they made for their country during and after the revolution is something that seems to be unparalleled in any other historic couple. Abigail appeared to be an equal partner in her relationship with John. Because of his appointments and positions, she was on her own and managing their property for months and years at a time, and made many choices and decisions that greatly influenced their lives. She not only helped her husband become the second President of the U. S.,
she also raised a son, John Quincy Adams who became the sixth President of the U. S.

This well researched book gave me the feeling of witnessing the birth of my country. The book’s narrator, Nelson Runger did an excellent job.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best biographies I have read...
This book is a very readable book. Unlike some other history books which are dry, this one reads like a novel. I loved how they showed the personal side of a public man. His loving relationship with his wife Abigail is revealed through letters he wrote her. I also loved how the author described John Adams relationship with Thomas Jefferson, down to the little details like when they shared a room in philly one wanted the window open and the other wanted it closed. This book shows that the founding fathers did not live in a vacuum, all alone, responding to each others politics; but that they were freinds with complex relationships. I like how this book lets us see our countries greatest patriots as real people. I highly reccomend this book, there is a sage like quality to it. If this was the kind of reading offered in high school or college, I might have been more interested in history.

4-0 out of 5 stars good beach read
Am 300 pages into this novel. It's very descriptive and really gives you a sense of the person, as well as the other revolutionary characters. You can very clearly picture the obstacles he faced and what type of man he was. I'm thoroughly enjoying it -- and recently heard it may be made into an HBO movie by Tom Hanks.

4-0 out of 5 stars John Adams, Abigail and Jefferson
The book on John Adams by David McCullough is very precise and gives a great overview of the second president of the United STates but also of the country itself. Having been the person defending the Constitution on the Congress floor, being the ambassador in France and The Netherlands (very interesting to read for Dutchmen like myself) to the days of his vice-presidency under George Washington and his own presidency.

Most of the sources are the letters between him and his wife Abigail, one of the foremost women in her time. It deals with politics but also with personal problems like disease in the family and the death of a son due to alcohol.

His relationship with Thomas Jefferson is fascinating; sometimes loving, sometimes hating. They could not get along when they were president and vice-president. In the end through letters they come closer again and freakingly enough they die on the same day, the 4th of July when they were there signing the Declaration of Independence. ... Read more

127. White House Nannies: True Tales from the Other Department of Homeland Security
by BarbaraKline
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1585424102
Catlog: Book (2005-05-05)
Publisher: Tarcher
Sales Rank: 1694
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The Nanny Diaries meets Primary Colors in this hilarious tell-all from the president and owner of White House Nannies, a nanny placement agency that caters to a host of influential people in our nation's capital.

Ah, to experience parenthood as the rich and powerful who have only to call in their Mary Poppinsesque nannies to pick up the pieces. But it's not all smooth ailing for those precious few either-and Barbara Kline should know. In the twenty years since she founded White House Nannies, Kline has handpicked and delivered nannies to elected officials, cabinet members, advisers to the President, and the media who report on their every move. White House Nannies is her laugh-out-loud account of what happens when these powerful parents find themselves at the mercy of tiny tyrants-and the nannies who offer their only hope of salvation.

From finding the "perfect nanny" to firing the "perfect nanny," from refereeing Mommy-nanny disputes to keeping mum about family secrets, Barbara Kline has seen it all. In this hilarious page-turner she takes readers on a delightful ride through the bottle-and-bib-strewn beltway.
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Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Client
Well, after hearing all of the buzz surrounding Barbara's book I knew I needed to go read it; and it certainly did not disappoint. Even as a client Kline alludes to, I could not stop laughing throughout the entire book. I will continue to recommend White House Nannies (Book or Agency) highly!

5-0 out of 5 stars An all-too-true look at today's power parenthood.
I laughed my way through this book. I also cringed more than once, seeing myself and the women around me all too clearly in Kline's clients. You don't have to be a D.C. power player to relate to the comedy-- and, oh yes, the tragedy-- of trying to keep your brilliant career going while raising a kid or kids. This book is a fun read, but I also came away from WHITE HOUSE NANNIES committed to making some much-needed cuts to my work schedule. Would that my own life may never serve as fodder for the likes of this brilliantly engaging book!

1-0 out of 5 stars Doesn't live up to its promise
For people who want dish--such as those of us who devoured Lynne Cheney's "Sisters"--this book will not satisfy.For people who must rush to pick up their children from daycare by 6 p.m. or risk a fine, do not read this book.It will kite your blood pressure.

The true playground-and-playgroup book about Washington has yet to be written.The most satisfying book in this canon remains "You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again," by a small-town girl who went to Los Angeles to become a nanny.Suzanne Hansen, I believe her name was, is precisely the sort of warm-hearted girl that Kline treats only as a commodity in this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great advice and a fun read.
A very well written book.

I loved this book.It was such a easy read I could not put it down.I laughed out loud so many times and at other times just stared at the pages with my mouth open. Flipping through the pages I could certainly relate to the plight of the working parent.With all the reality shows on tv about nannies, this book had a different twist on the whole parenting working family scenario, I highly recommend this book to anyone even if you are not a parent.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is a truly fun read!
This book is an intelligent and very funny look at the often wild world of child care. It's not only for the Washington crowd to guess who the players are, but every parent can recognize him or herself somewhere in this book. After reading this book you should feel much more comfortable with your own lot! It's an easy read that will make you laugh out loud.
... Read more

128. Chyna Black
by Keisha Ervin
list price: $15.00
our price: $12.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0976234912
Catlog: Book (2004-10)
Publisher: Triple Crown Publications
Sales Rank: 8963
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

There was a time when I didn’t care about anybody, not even myself. Oh, and who am I? I’m Chyna, Chyna Danea Black to be more exact. I’m here to tell you my story, but for you to fully understand me, you have to understand my past. You see, I’m every black girl growing up in the hood, and like most, I got caught up in the life. Some things I didn’t see coming. Other things were self-inflicted. I don’t regret my path in life but I could have taken a different one. So, for all the young girls growing up in the hood, let me take you back to how I grew up.

Here is the Life & Times of me, Chyna Black. ... Read more

Reviews (22)

5-0 out of 5 stars This Book Is On Fire!!!!!!
Ms. Keisha Ervin, just do your thing girl!I think that Chyna Black was a very good read.Even though I liked Ms. Ervin's debut novel, you can tell that she has improved with this book.We may as well give her the crown on these urban relationship stories.

Chyna Black's characters are well developed with dialogue and action that is entertaining to read.I like the fact that Ms. Ervin's books point out that in many cases the reason a lot of women end up in drama filled relationships is because of absentee fathers.Many young women don't have the example of how a relationship is supposed to work.The main character Chyna was on the right track at one point.She got into some things but nothing too bad.She went to school and kept her grades up.But Chyna's father was not in the picture and when she starts to have major problems with her mother she feels she has no choice but to move in with her boyfriend Tyreik.Tyreik draws her in with money, a false sense of independence, and so called love.Chyna loses her sense of self, drops out of school, and thinks that shopping is what life is about.Little does she know that because something looks good to you it may not be good for you.The drama begins and you will not want to put this book down.

I could have done without the last few chapters.I liked how Chyna's situation turned out for the best after all that happens to her, I just could have done without Ms. Ervin's semi-autobiographical references and shout outs of books by other TCP authors.Just a bit much.Despite that this book is a hit.I recommend you read it and have your friends read it too.I'm ready for the next one!!

5-0 out of 5 stars The best book I have read in years
This was an excellent book. I read it twice back to back. The book was so real I could really relate to Chyna in all she had to go throuugh in her young life. I hope there will be a sequel. I am waiting patiently for it. If you have not read this book and you enjoy urban fiction this is a must have

5-0 out of 5 stars The Bomb
Ms Ervin you did th dang on thang with this book. It was off the chain from the beginning to the end. This book is a must read. I dont read books twice but I may have to go through this story again. Keep up the good work.You will be in to look for list of authors.

5-0 out of 5 stars hmmm....
This is the story of too many girls across the nation... This book was a page turner, and a classic in urban fiction. Although to too many this is sort of like a biography of girls growing up around the way.

4-0 out of 5 stars Another Hot One!
Ms. Ervin, you have hit the nail on the head once again. Me and My Boyfriend was hot, but you did the damn thing with this one. You told the story of so many young girls, and it was so on point. I loved how you developed the story, and it felt like you were talking about someone close to the heart. Good Job! ... Read more

by David H. Hackworth
list price: $22.00
our price: $14.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0671695347
Catlog: Book (1990-04-15)
Publisher: Touchstone
Sales Rank: 34313
Average Customer Review: 4.74 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (57)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest leaders of the 20th century

I first heard of Colonel Hackworth when I was a cadet at the United States Coast Guard Academy, where he came and gave a guest lecture during my sophomore year. After hearing him talk, I had to go out and get his book.

"About Face" is, quite simply, the best book I've ever read...again and again. Colonel Hackworth's no-nonsense approach to leadership is tried-and-true, and what makes each point hit home is that he has learned everything through real life experience. The stories that he tells in this book are not just entertaining. They tell a lot about the life of a soldier; they tell a lot about a military hierarchy and how it should work (as opposed to how it works now); they tell us what really happened in Vietnam and how the U.S. Government "black balled" Colonel Hackworth in order to quell public disatisfaction with the war in Vietnam. He doesn't just make this book a bitch session....he offers his expert opinion as a soldier and a leader about how to correct what is happening to our fighting forces. He offers comparisons to leaders of the past and insight into the leaders of the future...and the future of our military leaders looks bleak.

Lastly, this book isn't just about being a military leader and telling war stories. This book is a must read for anybody that is in charge of anything or anyone. Many of the points he makes in his book apply "across the board". Being a leader is a skill as well as a science. Learn from the best, because "those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it".


5-0 out of 5 stars Eye Opener
This book will show what really goes on in the army, it is an eye opener. Check out his web site: A lot of good information.

5-0 out of 5 stars A True Warrior
Hackworth has produced a well written and provocative book concerning his time in the USA Army beginning with his enlistment at the end of WWII. His thoughts on the Vietnam War and the Army's command structure and bureaucracy created a lasting impression with me. Obviously he writes from his own perspective, but many of his ideas are worth discussing and giving more thought. A great book about one person's Vietnam experience.

5-0 out of 5 stars I should have read this in High School
For those of you people who have read this, and more specifically the guys I went to Marmion Military Academy with; I never really understood who Walter Schroeder was (Good ol' Steady Schroeder- as Hack refers to him) until I read this book. Mother, Fathers, if your kids are thinking about ROTC scholarships or joining the military in any way at all you need to read this book and then make them read it before they sign on the line that is dotted!

Raise your glasses to Colonel David Hackworth!

Thank you, Sir. ... Read more

130. Chasing Matisse : A Year in France Living My Dream
by James Morgan
list price: $25.00
our price: $16.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743237544
Catlog: Book (2005-04-05)
Publisher: Free Press
Sales Rank: 10642
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Who hasn't had the fanthasy of leaving his or her old life behind to start over? What would happen if you gave up your job, city, state, and routine to move to another part of the world? Critically acclaimed writer and aspiring painter James Morgan does just that. Risking everything, he and his wife shed their old, settled life in a lovingly restored house in Little Rock, Arkansas, to travel in the footsteps of Morgan's hero, the painter Henri Matisse, and to find inspiration in Matisse's fierce struggle to live the life he knew he had to live. Part memoir, part travelogue, and part biography of Matisse, Chasing Matisse proves that you don't have to be wealthy to live the life you want; you just have to want it enough.

Morgan's riveting journey of self-discovery takes him, and us, from the earthy, brooding Picardy of Matisse's youth all the way to the luminous Nice of the painter's final years. In between, Morgan confronts, with the notebook of a journalist and the sketchpad of an artist, the places that Matisse himself saw and painted: bustling, romantic Paris; windswept Belle-île off the Brittany coast; Corsica, with its blazing southern light; the Pyrénees village of Collouire, where color became explosive in Matisse's hands; exotic Morocco, land of the secret interior life; and across the sybaritic French Riviera to spiritual Vence and the hillside Villa Le Rêve -- the Dream -- where the mature artist created so many of his masterpieces.

A journey from darkness to light, Chasing Matisse shows us how we can learn to see ourselves, others, and the world with fresh eyes. We look with Morgan out of some of the same windows through which Matisse himself found his subjects and take great heart from Matisse's indomitable, life-affirming spirit. For Matisse, living was an art, and he never stopped striving, never stopped creating, never stopped growing, never stopped reinventing himself. "The artist," he said, "must look at everything as though he were seeing it for the first time." That's the inspiring message of renewal that comes through on every page of Chasing Matisse. Funny, sad, and defiantly hopeful, this is a book that restores our faith in the possibility of dreams. ... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Best of the Best
If you've read Peter Mayle and Frances Mayes, you might be expecting a humorous look at life in another country.This book is not like that.Morgan is a thoughtful, introspective artist who risks all to follow his passion, and he brings us along with him as he travels around France to get inside the head and heart of Henri Matisse.This is a wonderful, informative study of Matisse and his struggles for artistic identity as he singlehandedly explodes color onto the drab palette of French art.It is also a personal journey for Morgan, and you will be touched by his sensitivity and candor.A must-read for anyone who contemplates midlife.

5-0 out of 5 stars So enjoyable, I didn't want it to end!
I highly recommend this book.Chasing Matisse totally transports! James Morgan is truly a very gifted writer.This is one of those "best-sellers" that will be popular for eons.

4-0 out of 5 stars Baby, Iknow what you mean! Living the good life in France.
Kudos to the author! Jim Morgan does it again! The man keeps reinventing himself, moving forward in his quest to expand his personal horizons and live life to the fullest. After an earlier career as a successful magazine editor (Playboy, Southern Magazine), Morgan chucked it all to pursue his childhood dream of being a writer, like his hero Ernest Hemingway. Now, at the age of 62, he's written yet another beautiful book. This one is a moving paean to his love of Matisse, France, painting and his wife, Beth. If you've ever wanted to be inspired to take a chance on following your dream, Chasing Matisse may give you just the push you need. Buy it, read it, savor it, laugh over it. I'm sure you'll love it, just like I did!

5-0 out of 5 stars ExrtraordinaryTravelogue
In Chasing Matisse, Jim Morgan takes the reader on a tour of Henri Matisse's France. He takes us into the interiors we've seen in Matisse paintings as well as the land and seascapes seen from those rooms. In this delightful book, Morgan introduces us to Matisse, the man and paints a verbal canvas describing the vivid colors seen and painted by Matisse. I loved this book and highly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars How to Follow Your Bliss
This very enjoyable read should appeal to the interests of several types of individuals.For those who like to travel, the book takes you through parts of France as well as Corsica and Morocco.For those who appreciate art and artists, the life of Matisse unfolds in unique ways throughout the book.For all us who dream of leaving home to pursue the fantasy of living in a different culture with fascinating people, this book helps you realize that it can be done. For me it is a reminder of the 5 wonderful months we spent in Nice.We were not chasing Matisse, just the Nicois food customs and way of life.With each page I lived our dream once again. ... Read more

131. Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire
by Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri
list price: $27.95
our price: $17.61
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1594200246
Catlog: Book (2004-08-01)
Publisher: The Penguin Press
Sales Rank: 6954
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Complex, ambitious, disquieting, and ultimately hopeful, Multitude is the work of a couple of writers and thinkers who dare to address the great issues of our time from a truly alternative perspective. The sequel to 2001's equally bold and demanding Empire continues in the vein of the earlier tome. Where Empire's central premise was that the time of nation-state power grabs was passing as a new global order made up of "a new form of sovereignty" consisting of corporations, global-wide institutions, and other command centers is in ascendancy, Multitude focuses on the masses within the empire, except that, where academics Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri are concerned, this body is defined by its diversity rather than its commonalities. The challenge for the multitude in this new era is "for the social multiplicity to manage to communicate and act in common while remaining internally different." One may already be rereading that last sentence. Indeed, Empire isn't breezy reading. But for those aren't afraid of wadding into a knotty philosophical and political discourse of uncommon breadth, Multitude offers many rewards. --Steven Stolder ... Read more

132. Born to Rule : Five Reigning Consorts, Granddaughters of Queen Victoria
by Julia P. Gelardi
list price: $29.95
our price: $19.77
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312324235
Catlog: Book (2005-03-19)
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Sales Rank: 533495
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133. Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
list price: $23.00
our price: $15.64
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400080452
Catlog: Book (2005-01-25)
Publisher: Crown
Sales Rank: 6457
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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"I have not survived against all odds. I have not lived to tell. I have not witnessed the extraordinary. This is my story."

Amy Krouse Rosenthal, one-time Might magazine columnist and self-confessed hater of the segue has written a snappy, random, remarkable memoir--the first of its kind to give readers an honest flaws-n-all perspective of what it's like to be...ordinary. Initially inspired by the "bizarre, haphazard arrangement" of The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, Rosenthal has collected a lifetime of thoughts, observations, and decisions, and created an alphabetized personal encyclopedia, complete with cross-referenced entries and illustrations. Rosenthal reveals the minutiae of her life, from pumping gas ("Every. Single. Solitary. Time I go to get gas I have to lean out the window to see which side the tank is on"), towitnessing her son's accident ("I saw with front-row-seat clarity, just how quickly, randomly, and mercilessly your child can be taken away"), and in turns both playful and poignant, engages the reader in effortless and stimulating conversation.

Whether you are laughing aloud or nodding along, reading Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life is like being introduced to a new friend--one that you automatically connect with and feel compelled to share. Fans of Dave Eggers, David Sedaris, and shows like Arrested Development and Scrubs will appreciate Rosenthal's quirky, conversational humor and dead-on observations. Writers will see the book as a contemporary portrait of the fledgling artist, and should enjoy her aptly named, "Evolution of this Moment"--a timeline tracking her growth as a writer from her first word ("more") to publication of her fourth book.

Modesty prevents Rosenthal from acknowledging herself as anything other than ordinary--that, and the fact that she has not "survived against all odds"--but that certainly does not mean she has nothing to say, or to share. Her delightful memoir is a reminder that life is not always anadventure, but it can be full of sad, silly, and important moments that make it worth living. Witness the generosity of an author who is willing to reveal so much of herself, not just as a writer, but also as a person--share this delightfully quirky, utterly enjoyable book with family and friends with a note, "Here is someone I think you should meet." --Daphne Durham Exclusive Content

The Lost and Found Project
Between January 25th and February 1st, hundreds of copies of Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life were intentionally left in random places (taxis, public bathrooms, laundromats) in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. Each book was inscribed with a note from the author, and the finder was encouraged to report back to Rosenthal's website ( when and where the book was discovered.

Watch the "Lost and Found" video directed by filmmaker Steve Delahoyde, documenting Rosenthal's test run and featuring her theme song, "This is My Story."
Listen to the theme song written by Tony Rogers.

Ordinary Life from A to Z
How do you interview a smart, creative, clever author like Amy Krouse Rosenthal? You agree to let her start with the questions, and hang on for the ride. Find out more about Amy and sneak a peek behind-the-scenes at with this decidedly ordinary email correspondence between Ms. Rosenthal and senior editor Daphne Durham.

Read our unusual interview with author Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

Extra Ordinary Excerpts





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Reviews (24)

4-0 out of 5 stars Engaging Catalog of an American Life lived 1965 to present
Amy Krouse Rosenthal describes her "Orientation Almanac" that begins her "Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life" as an attempt to provide "plain facts about American life at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the backdrop against which this book was written."Her "Alphabetized Existence" continues that theme to a large extent, but also presents personal (but at the same time universal) reflections that are engaging and delightful. Her encyclopedia of her life is more topical than a novel or linear prose, but it's :) very easy to pick up & compulsively read.
I'm about a decade younger than the author, so some, but not all, of the American pop-culture details resonate.It would be interesting to see how this catalog reads in twenty years."Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life" is a self-affirming, funny, sometimes tragicomic, read that is a good way to spend the afternoon.
I really enjoyed reading about Scholastic book orders (p. 89) which I haven't thought of in probably twenty years.The instant I read the phrase, a picture of those order forms came strongly to mind.When I was in school, I used to fight with my parents to get them to order as many books as possible, so I could add to my Scholastic book stash. :)Never mind the other chances with the RIF program & book fairs.Thanks for the memories, Ms. Rosenthal-- the minutiae and detritus of your life are my nostalgia (see Red Gingham Tablecloth p. 171). Although, I disagree that one can give too many landmarks when giving directions.On most entries I've been nodding, but when it comes to giving or getting directions, too much is better than too little.Unless brief directions are given with the director's phone number.

4-0 out of 5 stars Contains Brilliant Insights, With a Few Slow Points
This highly original book succeeds brilliantly in conveying the day-to-day thoughts and actions of an "ordinary life." Amy Krouse Rosenthal has written down the small events and thoughts that often go unnoticed and are never, ever, expressed aloud.I couldn't read the table of "sounds that are loud, though quiet" without nodding with recognition at every single entry.Just look at the entry under "dishwasher," and see if you've never experienced the same disorienting feeling when someone loads a dishwasher the "wrong" way. And I shamefacedly had to admit to doing the same thing as the author whenever I come across a "stupid, slow driver."Going through the encyclopedia, I wondered what the author would do for the letter "X."The entry "XX," where Rosenthal explains why she enjoys being a girl, does not disappoint.

The book gets tiresome, however, when it becomes a little too self-reflective.I don't care about the author's "childhood memories." The "evolution of this moment" is flat-out boring.The fact that it comes right up front, however, should not deter you from looking at the rest of the book, which has insights that are remarkable.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Clever Little Book
I bought and read this book on the same day and loved it.It's clever, insightful, and fun and I found myself wanting to buy a copy for friends and family.I read it from cover to cover, but it's the type of book you can set on your coffee table and open to any page for interesting insight on any number of things.

5-0 out of 5 stars a cult favorite
A fun book to pick up and put down at any time... although I had a hard time putting it down.Indeed the format is refreshing, the thoughts and insights as simple and ordinary as the title implies.Once in a while, between reading intense mystery or history, it is nice (and even healthy!) to pick up something lighter, to discover the joy of reading a work of reality and humor.Do not expect to be knocked over by this book unless you can laugh at yourself and everyday life.It is light, fun and worth the read.If you take yourself too seriously you may think you have wasted your time; in fact you missed the point entirely.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book is a kindred spirit
I rarely pick up a book that ends up delighting me from cover to cover as thoroughly as this book has. I knew from the instant I encountered the back cover's description of "Book, standing in the bookstore(well, library for me) holding a" and read the exact procedure I had just gone through, that I and this book were destined for each other.
I could name off a hundred things that I admire about the Encyclopedia, from the orientation almanac to the cross-section; however, that would perhaps be over-zealous. I will say that any book that incorporates the wit and humor of the entire book into the copyright page has earned my eternal devotion, and such a "Reader's Agreement" as the author includes should be incorporated into...well, everything!
Though I identify with almost every aspect of the encyclopedia, there is one entry I would add my slight alteration to. On "Rainy Day" I would add that while the return to radiant reality may be slightly overwhelming, somehow, the smell of the sun as it caresses the newly-washed grass make it all worthwhile. At least, that's how it is for me.
I must admit that as a child I also read the encyclopedias; I cannot begin to say how much I appreciate this contribution to my library. It has brightened my day and is sure to remain a favorite on my shelf for years to come. ... Read more

134. No Lights, No Sirens : The Corruption and Redemption of an Inner City Cop
by Robert Cea
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
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Asin: 0060587121
Catlog: Book (2005-05-10)
Publisher: William Morrow
Sales Rank: 812
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

No lights, No sirens is the harrowing true story of an officer who, on his way to becoming one of the most highly decorated cops in NYPD history, lost his soul

Robert Cea began his career as an idealistic young man, a gifted lawman who would right wrongs and make the world a better place by putting away the bad guys. But whatever he'd learned at the academy did not prepare him for the streets, the thugs, or the depravity he'd encounter. "I'd sworn that it would never get to me," he writes, "that I'd never turn into the monsters I was chasing. I was wrong." And become a monster he did during his relentless journey into the criminal netherworld.

Brutally authentic, as gritty and graphic as the life itself, Cea's story takes readers into the cruisers and onto the streets to show how the law was -- and continues to be -- routinely bent to stay one step ahead of criminals. Cea painstakingly reveals his slow downward spiral into the depths of hell that would shatter his conscience, his marriage, and his mind. It would all lead to a final attempt at redemption that would nearly cost him his life.

Illuminating a hidden side of law enforcement that cannot be imagined, No Lights, No Sirens is as gripping as it is terrifying, a morality tale with repercussions for us all.

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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars WOW - what an amazing ride!
I just finished reading this book, and I was hoping there were more titles by Robert Cea.Unfortunately there is only this one.Attn: Mr. Cea, can you hurry up and write another one?Thanks!

The author's writing style makes you feel like you are right there, with him in the car, in the run down bars and in the back alleys of New York City.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who can handle the language and violence.Beyond that what emerges is a book of complete and open honesty.You can see where every step seems to be a logical next step in policing.Let a heroin junkie go to get info on a perp with a gun.Thats a good move.A gun gets people killed, a junkie just kills himself.But a small step like that leads to him being completely intertwined with the mean streets and he ends up paying for it.

No more details than that.Its just too good :)

Buy it!You will not be able to put it down.

On a slightly different note, it shows how cops are the real backbone of our system, and they get dumped on from everyone.Defense attorneys, the media, even citizens groups - all for their own political gain.That really sucks, because a lot of good people probably get crushed by the system, who were just there doing a good job.I hate to think about that, but I am sure its true.

Enjoy !! ... Read more

135. The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom
by Slavomir Rawicz
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1558216847
Catlog: Book (1997-12-01)
Publisher: The Lyons Press
Sales Rank: 1843
Average Customer Review: 4.41 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The harrowing true tale of escaped Soviet prisoners¿ desperate march out of Siberia, through China, the Gobi Desert, Tibet, and over the Himalayas to British India.
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Reviews (209)

2-0 out of 5 stars Facts, Facts, Facts
I read this book eagerly, given the fact that the book jacket described Rawicz's journey as "Homeric." Though he may have travelled as far as Odysseus, he certainly doesn't possess the literary skills of a Homer, even with the help of a ghost writer. The Long Walk was a plainly told tale of extraordinary endurance. In fact, I agree with one reviewer who found the tale so extraordinary as to be unbelievable. I might be willing to accept the truth of Rawicz's story had there been some introduction or some verifiable historical facts within the tale itself. Unfortunately, my edition had none of this and the result was fairly implausible. I could easily catalogue the story's absurdities: the fact that the Polish officers all died along the way, leaving only Rawicz and a few untraceable companions at the end; the claims that the party walked for days with no food or no water (read _In the Heart of the Sea_ or _Endurance_ for a more plausible survival tales, and you'll realize how difficult this is); the idea that the party traversed some of the most daunting territory on the earth in handmade fur garments (?!). Even if his story is true, Rawicz never bothers to analyze his experience, or mull over what it might mean. He and his companions managed to reach the relatively hospitable Mongolia and encountered dozens of boats heading for China, yet still chose to walk not only through the Gobi desert but over the Himalayas, with tragic consequences. Without some thoughts about the meaning of the experience and about his post-war life, Rawicz's tale is hardly more interesting than the map that marks his party's estimated route through the wilds of Asia.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Story You'll Never Forget.
Although The Long Walk is well written, that has nothing to do with why it's a good book. People should read this book because it chronicles perhaps the most extraordinary true story of human endurance in recorded history.

Slavomir Rawicz is unjustly imprisoned by the Communist Russians early in World War II. He is confined to a cell so small that he literally cannot sit, but must sleep by collapsing with his knees against the wall and his feet steeped in his own waste. He is later transported to Siberia by train, and then marched through the cold countryside to a Soviet Gulag, witnessing the death by exposure and exhaustion of other unfortunate captives along the way. In the prison camp he is set in forced labor, kept in horrendous conditions, over-worked, and underfed.

Near the end of his rope, Rawicz and a handful of companions orchestrate a daring and desperate escape, and then proceed to run for their lives, on foot, toward freedom in India--4,000 miles away. Then the fun begins. They must conquer the frozen Siberian tundra, the Gobi desert, the Himalayan Mountains, starvation, the Soviets, and their own inner demons.

Slavomir's ordeal overshadows every other survival tale I've every read, including Admiral Scott's Polar expedition and Krakauer's Everest disaster. This is up there with the Donner Expedition in terms of grim conditions and the indomitable human spirit. Trust me. If you've got a teenager who's complaining because they think they have it rough, let 'em read this one. --Christopher Bonn Jonnes, author of Wake Up Dead.

4-0 out of 5 stars A great examination of the surviving spirit
There have have been questions about the truth od this book. What rings true is the deep emotional turmoil of the author as he hangs on to his hatred for his tormentors, and there's no doubt thess dark passions helped spur him on during his long and often seeminly endless trek. It's a sad book. An amazing journey of the mind and the soul can be found in IN THE GHOST COUNTRY by Peter Hillary, a mind-bending account of his haunted journey to the South Pole. Deep stuff.

2-0 out of 5 stars not believable
This book purports to describe the travels of a polish
officer in 1942 escaping from Siberia across China and
into freedom in India. As a travel book, it doesn't
hold up. As anyone who has travelled to these areas can
tell you, no small unsupported group of people is going
to just walk across those deserts without water or cross through
Tibet north to south during the coldest months of the year.
There are no landmarks to speak of presented in the book that
in any way line up to the geography of where he claims to have
gone. Beyond that, his story of escape from the russian camp is pure unbelievable melodrama. And for good measure, it contains
a bigfoot (or snowman) sighting near the end.

I suppose a few people will believe that some of the worst
deserts in the world are just there to walk across or that
you can just kind of find your way over the Himalayas during
the coldest part of the year to India.

I also couldn't help but wonder where his companions ended up
after. Did they all just fall off the face of the earth
after arriving in India? And on a journey like this, why would
you only know one of your companions as "Mr. Smith". Most people
would learn the entire life stories of the others on a trip like
this supposedly was. Or at the very least learn the names of
those your moving with.

If you want to read real survival stories, try something
about Shakelton or the book Great Heart.

5-0 out of 5 stars When freedom calls
This book is the story about a young Polish officer who is imprisoned and tortured by the Soviets. In a mockery of a trial he is sentanced to twenty-five years in a Soviet prison camp. It is here the real story begins.

In the middle of Siberia, this Polish officer plans the unthinkable: escape! He selects six other companions to attept this act of deparation with him. In planning his escape, another reviewer indicates that he receives help from an unexpected source. You will not believe who assists him in his quest for freedom!

The balance of the work deals in the trek across Siberia, Mogolia, the Gobi desert, and finally the Himalayas.

In the annuals of human history you would be hard pressed to indentify a person whose sigle mindedness approaches Slavomir Rawicz.

This is a terrific book! ... Read more

136. Let Me Hear Your Voice : A Family's Triumph over Autism
list price: $13.95
our price: $11.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0449906647
Catlog: Book (1994-07-19)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Sales Rank: 4729
Average Customer Review: 4.38 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

She was a beautiful doelike child, with an intense, graceful fragility. In her first year, she picked up words, smiled and laughed, and learned to walk. But then Anne-Marie began to turn inward. And when her little girl lost some of the words she had acquired, cried inconsolably, and showed no interest in anyone around her, Catherine Maurice took her to doctors who gave her a devastating diagnosis: autism.
In their desperate struggle to save their daughter, the Maurices plunged into a medical nightmare of false hopes, "miracle cures," and infuriating suggestions that Anne-Marie's autism was somehow their fault. Finally, Anne-Marie was saved by an intensive behavioral therapy.
Let Me Hear Your Voice is a mother's illuminating account of how one family triumphed over autism. It is an absolutely unforgettable book, as beautifully written as it is informative.
"A vivid and uplifting story . . . Offers new strength to parents who refuse to give up on their autistic children." -- Kirkus Reviews
"Outstanding . . . Heartfelt . . . A lifeline to families in similar circumstances." -- Library Journal
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Reviews (61)

2-0 out of 5 stars Autism is not a "fate worse than death"
This is a well-written and interesting book. Catherine Maurice's devastating criticisms of the fraudulent therapies which attempt to make mothers feel guilty for their children's autism would alone make the book worth reading.

However, I have three very major concerns about the book.

The first is that Maurice presents Lovaas's version of ABA as the only possible option, ignoring the fact that there are other educational methods (such as TEACCH, Greenspan, or the various other techniques within the behavioural field such as the Koegels' modifications of ABA), which also have solid scientific evidence backing them.

Secondly, she also ignores the experts who have raised doubts about Lovaas's claim to have effected complete "recoveries" from autism, and who have pointed out that greatly improving a child's level of functioning, while vitally important, is not the same as a "cure". I've seen too many parents who read Maurice's book and immediately start to plan on the basis that after a few years of Lovaas treatment, their child will be completely normal. The overwhelming balance of evidence is that as a rule autistic children grow up to be autistic adults. We (I have high-functioning autism) may grow up to be independent, happy and successful adults, such as Dr. Temple Grandin, but we remain "different", and often experience great stress from the constant pressure placed on us by families and society to be more "normal".

Thirdly, I was worried by the way in which she constantly treats autism as a tragedy and a fate worse than death, and speaks of dragging her children kicking and screaming out of autism, forcing them to be "normal". Autism certainly doesn't make life easy (and I work with kids with severe autism combined with severe mental retardation, so I know just how difficult it can be), but nonetheless it's also part of who I am, not a "shell" in which there is a normal person hidden away. How would you feel if you found out that your parents viewed who you are as a tragedy to be cured at all costs?

ABA can be a very useful way of teaching, but I'm worried about people who use it not to teach children but to try to "force" them to be normal. There's a big difference between trying to help someone learn and function better and trying to "fix" them by turning them into someone else completely.

I'd recommend that people who read this should not make it their only book on autism - they should also read a more general account of autism giving information on the condition itself and on various methods of educating autistic children, and also a first-person account such as those written by Dr. Grandin.

4-0 out of 5 stars Emotional and Intellectual Introduction to Life with Autism
I found this book heart-rending, inspiring and informative. Maurice describes vividly the pain, terror, hope and confusion that a diagnosis of autism precipitates. She also presents in a clear-eyed way the difficulties of dealing with doctors, the seduction of fake miracle cures, and the continuing difficulties of parenting an autistic child when everyone's suddenly an expert on your kid and how to raise him or her. Maurice is a devout Catholic and described beautifully how religion affected her journey: I found these sections gutsy and inspiring. She does an excellent job providing an introduction to the best-documented treatment for autism, applied behavioral analysis. She also provides resources at the back for setting up programs, getting them paid for etc. Maurice does not make herself out to be perfect in this book: at times she is hot-headed, impatient and a bit of a know-it-all who has to bite back sharp comments. However, this is real life and I am glad she showed her strengths and weaknesses. If the book has any negative, it is that in one chapter Maurice spends a chunk preaching about how people today are not disciplining their kids. Since her oldest kid is only 7 when this book ends, it seems a bit premature to give others advice on the best way to raise children who will lead productive, responsible lives. However, she may be right. In any case, I recommend this book wholeheartedly.

3-0 out of 5 stars Offers hope
I found this book gave me much hope for what would otherwise have been a very devastating diagnosis for my 3 yr old son. I only wish the drills were described in more detail and that there was less religion and preaching. A good first read, but very sentimental and at times condescending.

2-0 out of 5 stars Positive plot, negative attitude
I have never lived with an autistic child. I can not speak for those parents who have to somehow cope with their child's disability. I am sure that this book provides some much-needed hope and inspiration to these parents, some of whom have also reviewed this book. However, it bears mentioning that although the plot is positive, the attitudes towards children with autism are not. I believe it is important to note that acceptance of a child no matter how they are is just important as trying to "fix" or "cure" them. This is a point regretfully absent from this book. Although many of the points made in this book are good ones, they are overshadowed by this absence. I thank the author for writing this book that seems to give hope to those who need hope most, but I warn against drawing all of your thoughts and opinions from the words of one other person.

5-0 out of 5 stars I felt like I wasn't alone
I am a mother of an autistic daughter who was diagnosed a few months ago. This book really inspired me not to give up hope! While reading this book, I would be in tears as to how realistic it truely is. How you preceive your own child. How you go through all the stages of defeat, over and over again! and to reading about the most uplifting little spirits who overcome HUGE obsticals over and over again! This book both breaks your heart and heals it. Great book to give as a gift to those who are an important part in a little persons autistic life who just "don't get it" or want to know hands on what you are going through as a parent. I would recommend to anyone who has autism in their life. Be prepared with a tissue box. ... Read more

137. Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail
by Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
list price: $7.99
our price: $7.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446313645
Catlog: Book (1985-04-22)
Publisher: Warner Books
Sales Rank: 8443
Average Customer Review: 4.72 out of 5 stars
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With the same drug-addled alacrity and jaundiced wit that made Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas a hilarious hit, Hunter S. Thompson turns his savage eye and gonzo heart to the repellent and seductive race for President.He deconstructs the 1972 campaigns of idealist George McGovern and political hack Richard Nixon, ending up with a political vision that is eerily prophetic.A classic! ... Read more

Reviews (54)

5-0 out of 5 stars political science for those interested in the inner workings
As a Journalist Hunter S. Thompson is by no means impartial. Instead of striving to give an unbaised account of events around him, he writes thing exactly as he sees them. That's the whole point though. In a sense, it's also a large part of what makes this book so very interesting. Thompson doesn't give the reader a glossed over "Road to the Whitehouse" view of politics; his book gives the reader a chance to look at the underbelly of those fat cats who scramble for votes every four years. It captures one aspect of elections that most people don't even really think about. Instead of jumping straight into the Nixon-McGovern battle for presidency, Thompson begins with the primary campaigning. He focuses on the turmoil that occurs within a party when it is trying to choose a suitable candidate. In this case, he looks at all the various democrats who were rushing to face the incumbent: Nixon. Thus, we're allowed to look at the political landscape, and know who the primary and secondary actors are. It allows you to see how Muskey and McCarthy were important then in the same sense That McCain and Forbes are now. For me, this was the most valuable part of the book. However, the actual contest between Nixon and McGovern is interesting, and worth reading as well. Fear and Loathing on the campaign trail is twisted , and hilarious. At times (if not all the time), one wonders just how trustworthy all the accounts that Thompson is feeding you are --the unreliable narrator. However, whether you chose to believe him, or not, his passion for the political scene is unquestionable. For all of his drug induced ranting, Thompson has a certain profound nature about him. His knowledge of the political figures of the time is extremely impressive. I would recomend this book for anyone interested in the political process, or political involvement with the media. Through Thompson's coverage, you can see the profound effect that mass media has had on the porcess of electing the president of this country.

5-0 out of 5 stars Gonzo journalism at its twisted zenith.
Anyone wishing to truly understand the Age of Nixon should have three books in their collection: The Final Days by Woodward 7 Bernstein; The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon by Anthony Summers; and Fear & Loathing: On The Campaign Trail '72.

True, in this book Thompson focuses most of his attention and energy on the Democratic primary -- but that primary season was irrevocably shaped by Nixonian politics, and, in any event, Thompson did, surprisingly, manage to spend some time with the Nixon campaign.

F&L:OTCPT'72 provides a jaggedly sharp view of the inner workings of four Democratic campaigns: the primary efforts of Ed Muskie and George Wallas as well as McGovern's equally ill-starred primary and general campaigns. Thompson's writing is remarkably unclouded; he writes as he saw things, holding back no details and pulling no punches. Would that political reporting were always so uncritical and focused!

Of course, as with any Thompson book, this one is not without its moments of gut-busting laughter. The Doktor's savage daydream about convention delegate vote-brokering as well as a episode involving the "Boo-Hoo" -- a drunken maniac who harrassed Senator Ed Muskie during a whistlestop campaign tour of Florida -- are priceless moments of humor.

Thompson was never quite as crazed as he was in this book. Even in "Hell's Angels", Thompson was more of a reporter than a participant in the action. For this reason, F&L:OTCPT'72 is truly Gonzo Journalism at its peak.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Finest Political Journalism Ever Printed
This is probably my favorite example of political journalism, in that it is informative, insightful, but never dull. I'm not one for long reviews, and I think all that I could say about this book has already been said by the other people. I just wanted to tack five stars onto this book. Thompson's work here and in Hell's Angels probably inspired hundreds of people to become journalists, and I am one of them.

Hunter Thompson would despise me. I am a conservative Reaganite. I thought Dick Nixon a brilliant President. I think the Lord Jesus Christ saves my soul. Whereas I despise Michael Moore and do not think he speaks the truth, I admire Hunter Thompson, who is probably a lot closer to Moore's politics than mine. It is not just the passage of time that heals divisions, it is more than that. If I were to analyze Hunter's political nostrums, I would probably find much that I know to be wrong, and that Hunter had enough education and knowledge available to him to know it was wrong but he wrote it anyway. Still, whatever visceral reaction I have to Moore I do not have for Hunter.

I guess humnor must be why. Hunter is absolutely inconoclastic. He is side-splitting. He never smiles, and his writing has no funniness in it. I picture him writing out of dread and hate, yet it magically transforms itself into laughs when my eyes meet his words and transfer to my brain. Forgive my bad attempt to get into his head and "explain" Hunter. It's all I can do to try.

This book is phenomenal. It contains events that are different from any descriptions ever. Others have novelized reality, but nobody splits the difference like Hunter. Hunter's supposed on-scene reportage of Edmund Muskie coming unglued in the New Hampshire snow, Frank Mankiewiczs' furious (drug induced?) ramblings, the one-on-one with Nixon himelf, leaves the reader exhausted in an effort to separate reality from fantasy. Hunter is like the great con man who uses Truth to augment his lies. This is not calling Hunter a liar, it is just an example. The fact that I don't see this as lies is telling, and separates Hunter and his times from the current political climate, in which his spawn, if you will, the likes of Moore and Al Franken, try to make Hunteresque points but leave themselves exposed as obfuscators instead. The answer is that Thompson is just so much better than almost all other writers that he cannot be duplicated or even imitated. To try is pointless. Many, inclduing myself, have tried to be the "next Jim Murray," but like Murray nobody can be Hunter, either.


5-0 out of 5 stars On the trail of McGovern
For all his gonzo journalism, Thompson has a very keen eye for politics, even if he backed McGovern in '72. This is a very engaging and very insightful study of the McGovern campaign and how, in Thompson's mind, it was the only hope in the miasma of politics at the time. He is unsparing on McGovern's opponents, particularly Humphrey, but saved his scorn for Nixon, whom the Democrats were desperately hoping to unseat. One of the most memorable scenes in the book (whether real or imagined) is when Thompson was called up to talk sports with the President himself on Air Force One. For a moment, Thompson puts down his guard, to engage in Nixon's favorite pastime, football. What you get is a heady mix of politics and humor as only the Grandmaster of Gonzo Journalism can give. The book remains unsurpassed in its candid view of a presidential political campaign. ... Read more

138. Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
by James Bradley
list price: $25.95
our price: $17.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316105848
Catlog: Book (2003-09)
Publisher: Little, Brown
Sales Rank: 752
Average Customer Review: 3.19 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

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

Reviews (141)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

139. Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic
by Martha Beck
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0425174484
Catlog: Book (2000-08-01)
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Sales Rank: 4880
Average Customer Review: 4.41 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The "slyly ironic, frequently hilarious"(Time) memoir about angels, academics, and a boy named Adam...

A national bestseller and an important reminder that life is what happens when you're making other plans.

Put aside your expectations. This "rueful, riveting, piercingly funny" (Julia Cameron) book is written by a Harvard graduate--but it tells a story in which hearts trump brains every time. It's a tale about mothering a Down syndrome child that opts for sass over sap, and it's a book of heavenly visions and inexplicable phenomena that's as down-to-earth as anyone could ask for. This small masterpiece is Martha Beck's own story--of leaving behind the life of a stressed-out superachiever, opening herself to things she'd never dared consider, meeting her son for (maybe) the first time...and "unlearn[ing] virtually everything Harvard taught [her] about what is precious and what is garbage."

"Beck [is] very funny, particularly about the most serious possible subjects--childbirth, angels and surviving at Harvard." --New York Times Book Review

"Immensely appealing...hooked me on the first page and propelled me right through visions and out-of-body experiences I would normally scoff at." --Detroit Free Press

"I challenge any reader not to be moved by it." --Newsday

"Brilliant." --Minneapolis Star-Tribune
... Read more

Reviews (154)

5-0 out of 5 stars If you've ever loved an exceptional child, read this book.
Maya Angelou once said that "there is no greater agony than holding an untold story inside of you." This piece of work represents Martha Beck's luminous journey towards choosing to mother Adam, her son who was prenatally diagnosed with Down's Syndrome.

Like many mothers of exceptional children I've known, Martha has touched on the one theme most of us feel reluctant to talk about--that our lives are peppered with unexplainable, prescient experiences that served to pave our way towards accepting a child that a highly educated world often believes is less than worthy of a chance at life.

Because Ms. Beck's Harvard Education and academic's resume brings the reader into a metaphycial journey towards coming to accept Adam through a skeptics eyes, her story seems more credible than that of the average person who sits down to write a book that says "oh, but my child is so much more than what he seems."

Martha's tale is as convincing as it is spellbinding. Her range as a writer is vast--she is both a comedian and an accomplished dramatist.

Expecting Adam hits its intended mark. It reminds us that every child comes into this world for reasons that often lay beyond the realm of human reckoning. It offers proof that all lives have purpose, meaning and dignity. On top of all this, Expecting Adam offers the reader the benefit of an excellent writer.

As the mother of two boys with autism, one who "came back" and one who "didn't", I commend this writer for sharing her story.

Ms. Beck's experiences felt universal to me, and true in a way I can't begin to put into words.

When I look into my children's eyes, I understand without reservation that nothing is left to chance. Like Ms. Beck, I feel both humbled and awed by the opportunity to mother children like mine.

It is impossible to read "Expecting Adam", and fail to see that every life has meaning and dignity.

For all things, there is a season...

5-0 out of 5 stars Read the whole thing in one sitting
Martha Beck dubs her tale "A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic" and sets the imagination churning with her wit and wisdom. An account of a Harvard sociology graduate student from Utah who decides not to abort her Down Syndrome baby sounds more like the recipe for a tragedy than a satire, but Beck is full of surprises. For me Beck's book was a witty critique our success-oriented society, on academia, on pretense and on parents. Beck dreads the mindset that leads our society toward perfect babies, perfect students, and perfect breadwinners, and away from perfect content.

This story carries you high and low over the hurdles and under the weather with Martha all through her pregnancy. You feel the harsh sting of the truth, the terror of the unknown, and the crumbling of life-long plans. Over and above all else this book is a secret look at one of the ways in which life manages to outwit our calculations. The strong survive because they bend, because they stretch to fit the life that chance throws in their path. Perhaps those of us who plan our life events as though they were dinner parties are really weak, weak because we do not know how to rejoice in the unexpected.

5-0 out of 5 stars So many skeptics
It's a shame that people are unwilling to accept possibilities simply because it's beyond the scope of their experience. In reading the reviews here, I understand why people have trouble believing. But, they shouldn't completely discount someone else's experience just because it's different from their own. While I've had nothing in my life nearly as miraculous as Martha Beck's experiences, I've had enough strange occurrences to know that what she writes is absolutely possible. And, there are many people who have had extraordinary experiences. I wish the same for the rest of you who are too closed-minded to open up to the possible. Your life will be forever changed for the better.

4-0 out of 5 stars She swears it's all true, but......
I'm puzzled by this book still, several days after putting it down. Can it be true? Is it possible for someone to have the incredible good luck that Martha and John had during Martha's pregnancy? Or is the story the product of a mind half-crazy from dehydration, overwork, stress, and the knowledge that her baby will be born with Down syndrome? It's a credit to Beck's book that we're not quite sure!

Martha Beck is a very smart woman married to a very smart guy. They have swallowed the Harvard message that work comes first hook, line and sinker. Nevertheless, Martha and John manage to get into serious trouble through a sort-of-unplanned second pregnancy. Martha has an unspecified auto-immune disease which results in 9 long months of debilitating nausea. Her husband takes on an assignment which requires him to spend 2 weeks of every month in Asia while still trying to finish a thesis. She herself has a punishing schedule, also working on her PhD. They already have an 18 month old daughter to whom not a whole lot of attention is paid.

This would be enough to unhinge anyone, but then odd things begin to happen. Martha and John become convinced that they "know" their unborn son; Martha senses there's "something wrong," and when they discover the baby has Down syndrome, they make the improbable--at least for Harvard--decision to continue the pregnancy. At the same time some very good things happen--a generous friend takes Martha under her wing and probably prevents her from spending most of her pregnancy in the hospital, Martha miraculously gets her child into the toughest child care center around, and she somehow finds a way to communicate with John even when he's half a world away.

But some things happen that are hard to believe. Could she have been saved from the burning building by someone unknown? I'm not sure, and I had to wonder why an intelligent, pregnant woman would deliberately start down 10 flights of smoke-filled stairs with an 18 month old child in her arms. Could a life-threatening hemmorage mysteriously stop after Martha passes out form loss of blood? Not sure, and again I had to wonder why with her last ounce of strength Martha didn't call one of the faithful friends she had to bail her out. Can unexpected, wonderful things happen in life? Yes. Do people get saved from life-threatening situations they get into partly through their own fault, again and again? Not so sure.

If, however, you can suspend disbelief for awhile the book is very good in parts. I loved Martha's description of her son, and I wondered for the first time about the automatic assumption that every woman over a certain age will have amnio and abort if something is wrong. Surely Adam must have had problems, which Beck doesn't share with us, but the good times are truly lovely. I also thought her description of life at Harvard quite brutal but mostly accurate. I'm not sure that giving birth wouldn't have been a good excuse for late homework even back then, but Beck accurately portrays the way Harvard professors can completely terrify highly intelligent adults--I know from experience. And Beck makes a very convincing case that there's an alternate reality out there, even if you cen't believe everything she tells us.

2-0 out of 5 stars Expecting Adam, Not Expecting Fiction
It's a little hard to access the veracity of someone's magical experiences, but the veracity of the rest of the book seemed to lose me with each passing chapter. Beck's descriptions of Harvard reminded me of the movie Good Will Hunting - where the academic moral was that the folks who are janitors are in fact the truly smart people and the professors are inadequate boobs. But lucky for Martha, she has it both ways. (she's the OUTSIDER - making her smart - but with the 3 degree credential for her 165 IQ.) And did anyone out there buy the story about the Smurfs??? (This was my first tip off that she was inserting transparently ludicrous scenes that could be easily adapted to a Hollywood screenplay.) And the books she claims were at the Harvard Coop - such as "Pre-Law for Preschoolers" and "Toddling Through the Calculus" are certainly not in print here at Amazon. It certainly made me doubt a lot more incredible material when she was willing to fabricate such seemingly trivial details. Does anyone believe there is a daycare center that signs up parents 5 years before the birth of their child? And if Dr. Goatstroke was anything but a character out of cental casting, I'd be amazed. (apparently Goatstroke is the name of a town in Utah.) The litany of improbable events - near death experiences, strangers at the door with grocieries, car accidents, drownings - combined with the obvious factual fabrications - began to make me think this was supposed to be a satire. Somehow, though, from reading most of the other reviews here, people took this book SERIOUSLY. Perhaps like Martha, there is a profound desire for people to believe what they want to believe. ... Read more

140. Wild Swans : Three Daughters of China
by Jung Chang
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743246985
Catlog: Book (2003-08-12)
Publisher: Touchstone
Sales Rank: 3506
Average Customer Review: 4.66 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

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

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

Reviews (234)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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