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161. Pope Benedict XVI: A Biography
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162. Fever Pitch
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163. Ogden Nash : The Life and Work
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164. I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes
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165. Titan : The Life of John D. Rockefeller,
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166. Guru : My Days with Del Close
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167. Waiting for Birdy: A Year of Frantic
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168. Winterdance: The Fine Madness
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169. Welfare Brat : A Memoir
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170. Stop-Time
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171. When I Was Puerto Rican
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172. Inside the Kingdom : My Life in
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173. Confessions of a Street Addict
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174. Surviving Deployment: A Guide
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175. Down Came the Rain : My Journey
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176. Thomas Jefferson : Author of America
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177. Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse
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178. E=mc2: A Biography of the World's
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179. Who She Was : My Search for My
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180. Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing

161. Pope Benedict XVI: A Biography of Joseph Ratzinger
by John L., Jr Allen, John L. Allen Jr.
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0826417868
Catlog: Book (2005-05-16)
Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group
Sales Rank: 19991
Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This book is the only existing biography of Pope Benedict XVI, born Joseph Aloysius Ratzinger on April 16, 1927, in southern Bavaria. Comprehensive in scope and intimate in content, it provides a vivid blow-by-blow of the controversies that have wracked the Catholic Church during the past twenty years: Liberation theology, birth control, women's ordination, inclusive language, "radical feminism," homosexuality, religious pluralism, human rights in the church, and the roles of bishops and theologians.

One man has stood at the dead center of all these controversial issues: Joseph Ratzinger. A teenage American POW as the Third Reich crumbled and a progressive wunderkind at the Second Vatican Council, Ratzinger, for twenty years, has been head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (until 1908 known as the Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, or Holy Office). The book goes a long way toward explaining the central enigma surrounding Ratzinger: How did this erstwhile liberal end up as the chief architect of the third great wave of repression in Catholic theology in the twentieth century?

Based on extensive interviews with Ratzinger's students and colleagues, as well as research in archives in both Bavaria and the United States, Allen's account shows that Ratzinger's deep suspicion of "the world," his preoccupation with human sinfulness, and his demand for rock-solid loyalty to the church run deep. They reach into his childhood "in the shadow of the Nazis" and reflect his formative theological influences: Augustine, Bonaventure, and Martin Luther rather than the world-affirming Thomas Aquinas. In his words, Ratzinger affirms that "What the church needs today as always are not adulators to extol the status quo, but men whose humility and obedience are not less than their passion for the truth; . . .men who love the church more than the ease and the unruffled course of their personal destiny."-Joseph Ratzinger (1962) ... Read more

Reviews (12)

2-0 out of 5 stars Still may be worth a skim
Having read and been impressed by the excellence of John L. Allen's two recent books about the Catholic Church, "Conclave" (2002) and "All the Pope's Men" (2004), I had no hesitation in hurrying out and securing a copy of "Cardinal Ratzinger" as soon as I heard of the subject's elevation to the papacy. Ouch! Fascinated as I was by the apparent wealth of information and documentation in these pages, I needed an asbestos bookmark to survive the heat of Allen's judgment of the man.

I am therefore most indebted to other reviewers on this page who report news I apparently missed, that Allen has backed away from this book and its lack of "sober analysis." It's good to see that the insightful, balanced, Allen of his later works is the true man, and my respect for him rises still further for his honesty in admitting that things got a little out of control the first time around.

Still, I would argue that this book is still worth a read because not all of Ratzinger's critics have made the same journey. "Cardinal Ratzinger" not only transmits Allen's own strong feelings at the time, but the judgments of many others throughout the length of Joseph Ratzinger's long career. Allen may have changed his mind, but he's just one (albeit prominent) man; the criticisms leveled here -- to say nothing of the invectives hurled by others -- aren't going away. Allen's new bio will no doubt be a far better book. But if you want to experience at least some of the strong feelings Benedict XVI and his pre-elevation legacy have generated, this may still be a worthwhile place to start.

Just bring your awareness of how the author's opinions have matured, and a good pair of oven mitts.

3-0 out of 5 stars Don't read this book; wait for Allen's revised biography
This book is quite unfair, as Allen himself has acknowledged. As his journalism has matured, Allen has intended to write a significantly reworked biography. He now has the chance, and it is in the works from Doubleday. Please wait for it! John Allen is now definitely the best Eenglish language journalist covering the Catholic Church, but this has been the case for only the last three or four years in my opinion. I would strongly recommend his recent work (e.g. All the Pope's Men), but this particular book is not worth a read. All that follows is a section from Allen's column of April 26, 2005:

"Six years ago, I wrote a biography of the man who is now pope titled Cardinal Ratzinger: The Vatican's Enforcer of the Faith. In the intervening period, I have learned a few things about the universal Catholic church and how things look from different perspectives. If I were to write the book again today, I'm sure it would be more balanced, better informed, and less prone to veer off into judgment ahead of sober analysis.

This, I want to stress, is not a Johnny-come-lately conclusion motivated by the fact that the subject of the book has now become the pope. In a lecture delivered at the Catholic University of America as part of the Common Ground series, on June 25, 2004, I said the following about the book:

"My 'conversion' to dialogue originated in a sort of 'bottoming out.' It came with the publication of my biography of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, issued by Continuum in 2000 and titled The Vatican's Enforcer of the Faith. The first major review appeared in Commonweal, authored by another of my distinguished predecessors in this lecture series, Fr. Joseph Komonchak. It was not, let me be candid, a positive review. Fr. Komonchak pointed out a number of shortcomings and a few errors, but the line that truly stung came when he accused me of "Manichean journalism." He meant that I was locked in a dualistic mentality in which Ratzinger was consistently wrong and his critics consistently right. I was initially crushed, then furious. I re-read the book with Fr. Komonchak's criticism in mind, however, and reached the sobering conclusion that he was correct. The book - which I modestly believe is not without its merits - is nevertheless too often written in a "good guys and bad guys" style that vilifies the cardinal. It took Fr. Komonchak pointing this out, publicly and bluntly, for me to ask myself, 'Is this the kind of journalist I want to be'? My answer was no, and I hope that in the years since I have come to appreciate more of those shades of gray that Fr. Komonchak rightly insists are always part of the story.
After Ratzinger's election as Benedict XVI was announced, I had hoped to have the opportunity to write a new preface for the book contextualizing some of the views it expresses. Unfortunately, the publisher in the United States, for reasons that I suppose are fairly obvious, had already begun reprinting the book without consulting me. Hence it is probably already appearing in bookstores, without any new material from me.

I can't do anything about that, although the British publishers were kind enough to ask me to write a new preface, which I have already done, so at least the damage will be limited in the U.K.

What is under my control, however, is a new book for Doubleday (a Random House imprint), which I hope will be a more balanced and mature account of both Ratzinger's views and the politics that made him pope. It has been in the works for some time and I hope it will be worthy of the enormity of the story, and the trust of those who elect to read it."

1-0 out of 5 stars Allen Himself Now Sees Flaws
To his credit, John Allen has acknowledged the flaws in his biography of Cardinal Ratzinger.In a 2004 lecture at Catholic University, and again in his "Word from Rome" column on 4/26/05 (shortly after Ratzinger's election as Pope Benedict XVI), Mr. Allen noted that he was greatly affected by a negative review of the book by Fr. Joseph Komonchak in Commonweal magazine.Fr. Komonchak's review made Mr. Allen realize that he "was locked in a dualistic mentality in which Ratzinger was consistently wrong and his critics consistently right....The book - which I modestly believe is not without its merits - is nevertheless too often written in a 'good guys and bad guys' style that vilifies the cardinal."

Mr. Allen is currently working on a new book on Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict, which he says he hopes "will be a more balanced and mature account of both Ratzinger's views and the politics that made him pope."As I've become a great fan of Mr. Allen's journalistic work in recent years, I'm confident that his new book will live up to those hopes, and far exceed this one in quality and balance.

1-0 out of 5 stars Simply a smear book
I was not familiar with the author when I grabbed this book, or I might have been tipped off.He writes for the National Catholic Reporter, commonly known as the National Catholic "Distorer" because of its extremely liberal slant.Mr. Allen is clearly no fan of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (at the time it was written), and is no doubt dismayed that he is now Pope Benedict XVI.I will admit to not finishing this book.It was so distasteful and disrespectful that I could not read past the first 120 pages, although I really tried to finish it.I don't like to write negative book reviews, but if an author is so willing to write a negative book like this, he deserves a bad review.If Pope Benedict XVI were a dissident who was trying to distort the teachings of the Church, I could understand someone's writing a book to point out his errors.But there are no theological errors Allen can point to here...he can only pontificate his liberal views as though he had authority or even credibility.Not recommended.

2-0 out of 5 stars The white smoke proved Allen wrong.
The white smoke proved Allen wrong.

Among many of the suppositions the author made in this book one was that Cardinal Ratzinger because of this theology would never become a Pope. He was wrong.
The author as a liberal Catholic is quite tainted in his beliefs and cannot be trusted as an impartial biographer. However I would not go so far as to call the book an attack as Allen may be of the Catholic left but certainly not of the Catholic far left. No matter if one is Catholic or not one can ffollow the logic that if you change some of the major underpinnings of a thing, be it a religion or any other institution, that thing ceases to be what it was. Whether to are a Catholic, an anti-Catholic or somewhere in the middle it is hard to deny, if you have a modicum of knowledge about the faith one knows that at least in its dogma, it its major tenants, it has been consistent in its two thousand years of existence. The subtitle of this book "The Vatican's Enforcer of the Faith" is telling therefore because what seems as some to be an enforcer may merely be someone with enough backbone to insure the continuity of the faith.
Useful is the background and history of the man which is done somewhat meticulously. I have no way of knowing this but I do believe there are certain aspects of Ratzinger's history that deserve further examination.
Although I recommend this book with reservations I do not see it as something that will give non-Catholics better insight into the Catholic Church.
This book is somewhat unfair and biased but I believe one can gain insight into the new Pope through this book if one reads between the lines. Rather than trust the author's selection of Ratzinger's writings and his analysis of them I suggest the fair minded personal to read Ratzinger's writings in their complete form and draw their own conclusions. I recommend this book if it is only read in addition to Cardinal Ratzinger's own books. ... Read more


162. Fever Pitch
by Nick Hornby
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1573226882
Catlog: Book (1998-03-01)
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Sales Rank: 6680
Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

In the States, Nick Hornby is best know as the author of High Fidelity and About a Boy, two wickedly funny novels about being thirtysomething and going nowhere fast. In Britain he is revered for his status as a fanatical football writer (sorry, fanatical soccer writer), owing to Fever Pitch--which is both an autobiography and a footballing Bible rolled into one. Hornby pinpoints 1968 as his formative year--the year he turned 11, the year his parents separated, and the year his father first took him to watch Arsenal play. The author quickly moved "way beyond fandom" into an extreme obsession that has dominated his life, loves, and relationships. His father had initially hoped that Saturday afternoon matches would draw the two closer together, but instead Hornby became completely besotted with the game at the expense of any conversation: "Football may have provided us with a new medium through which we could communicate, but that was not to say that we used it, or what we chose to say was necessarily positive." Girlfriends also played second fiddle to one ball and 11 men. He fantasizes that even if a girlfriend "went into labor at an impossible moment" he would not be able to help out until after the final whistle.

Fever Pitch is not a typical memoir--there are no chapters, just a series of match reports falling into three time frames (childhood, young adulthood, manhood). While watching the May 2, 1972, Reading v. Arsenal match, it became embarrassingly obvious to the then 15-year-old that his white, suburban, middle-class roots made him a wimp with no sense of identity: "Yorkshire men, Lancastrians, Scots, the Irish, blacks, the rich, the poor, even Americans and Australians have something they can sit in pubs and bars and weep about." But a boy from Maidenhead could only dream of coming from a place with "its own tube station and West Indian community and terrible, insoluble social problems."

Fever Pitch reveals the very special intricacies of British football, which readers new to the game will find astonishing, and which Hornby presents with remarkable humor and honesty--the "unique" chants sung at matches, the cold rain-soaked terraces, giant cans of warm beer, the trains known as football specials carrying fans to and from matches in prisonlike conditions, bottles smashing on the tracks, thousands of policemen waiting in anticipation for the cargo of hooligans. The sport and one team in particular have crept into every aspect of Hornby's life--making him see the world through Arsenal-tinted spectacles. --Naomi Gesinger ... Read more

Reviews (110)

5-0 out of 5 stars Beware What This Book Might Do To You
I've been meaning to write a review of this book for a long time, but since Nick Hornby reawakened in me many of my childhood sports fan obsessions when I read it for the first time in 1999, I've been too busy. Not only did "Fever Pitch" remind me how irrationally and how much I loved my own hometown team (the heartbreaking Boston Red Sox) but he turned me into a fan of English football and his own Arsenal Gunners to the point where I follow them daily on ESPN's soccernet, LISTEN (!?) to them on internet radio broadcasts and have even gone to two games in London over the past two years. It's sick really, and I suppose it's not the kind of thing Hornby would have wanted when he wrote this quintessential memoir of growing up a soccer fan in England, but I've enjoyed it

"Fever Pitch" is an obsessive's tale as much as it is a fan's story, and so should appeal to the same wide audience that enjoys his excellent novels (It was my love for "High Fidelity" that sent me straight to this book). It is a memoir of surprising depth considering how it is organized only by the dates of soccer matches between 1968 and 1991, and it makes perfect sense that Hornby, or any true fan, should see the rest of his life (parents' divorce, his own education, romantic and career trouble) primarily as it relates to the team he spends so much time, money and psychic energy on.

The irony, for me, was finding out after I read "Fever Pitch" for the first time that Arsenal was one of the top teams of the last decade in England, so Hornby at least gets to feel the joy that we Red Sox fans are still waiting for. Sure, we're ecstatic the Pats won the Super Bowl, but our lives will change forever when Boston brings home the World Series. But after "Fever Pitch," I'll remember to laugh like the rest of the world laughs when American sports leagues crown their title-holders "world" champions.

5-0 out of 5 stars For sports fans, obsessives, and everyone else
I assume this book would be a joyous, justifying experience for a devoted fan of any sport - "I'm not alone!" - and I can assure you that it's a fun, educational read for someone who has no interest in any sport. It's a look at the way fanship can be created by, and in turn create, a person's life, and as such should be required reading both for fans themselves and for the people who can't understand them. In other words, if you completely understand why an important win could turn your entire life around, or why you would have to miss your sister's wedding if it coincided with a game, Fever Pitch is for you. And if you don't understand this at all, the book is also for you.

Now, having said that, there are a few problems with this book for Americans who don't know much about football. (You know, soccer, not American rules football.) If you don't know thing one about the game, you can still read the book, but you won't understand big chunks of it. Hornby either never expected this book to be published in America, or he can't imagine an audience that isn't intimately familiar with football argot. (And, having read the book, I'm betting on the latter.) So you'll need either to read a book about football before you read Fever Pitch, or to have on call a person who knows football. As it happens, I had both. I read the decent book The Miracle of Castel Di Sangro before Fever Pitch, so I knew about, for example, relegation and promotion. And I happen to know a person who watches football. And still I didn't get everything; what the heck is the Arsenal offside trap? What was the Ibrox disaster? (Double whammy, since apparently it also happened before I was born.) What's the penalty spot? I don't know, and Hornby didn't take the time to tell me. So - not perhaps the best book to introduce you to football.

Still, this a fascinating book, a book that contains a wealth of self-knowledge for the obsessed and astonishing revelations for everyone else. Read it. If nothing else, you'll learn that the person in your life that you thought was as obsessed with team X as it is possible to be is merely a fly-by-night fan.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby is one of the best football books
Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby is one of the best football books around. But it is about much more than football, it gives a rare glimpse into the psyche of the British football fan. In his book, football is a metaphor for all aspects of life, romance, family, and career. Hornby¡¦s amusing narratives perfectly encapsulate the unique relationship a football fan has with their favorite team. Even as a Manchester United fan I find it fascinating to read about his obsession with and dedication to Arsenal.
At the most superficial level, this book provides a very detail account of Arsenal from the late 60s through the beginning of the 90s, and the increasingly violent behavior by football fans during the late 70s and early 80s, and the negative impact it had on his feelings for the games.
Hornby describes vividly how his life was related to Arsenal's achievements. When Arsenal was doing good, Hornby was doing good. When Arsenal was having an off-season, Hornby fell into depression. It is interesting to observe the development of Hornby's obsession, because it can happen to anyone. With the backdrop of his often witty accounts of Arsenal games, Hornby talks about how his life evolves with his family, his girlfriend, and his students. Football is like a common world language, and Hornby uses it to interact with his students. And watching football with his father was one the highlights of his childhood.
Every game has an analogy in life for the football fan. For Hornby, a tight game ending in defeat is a painful reminder of a break with his girlfriend.
While this obsession with football is almost innate, sometimes Hornby felt immature, especially when he was unable to control his overwhelming passion for the game in front of his students.
In humorous pros Hornby highlights how football and life come together on the pitch and is definitely worthy of reading.

4-0 out of 5 stars black and white and read all over
This is a cool book, and a very good book, but a tiny little "je ne sais quoi" keeps me from giving it that last and final fifth star.

To summarize the book superficially in a sentence, it's an autobiographical retelling, in a very witty first-person voice, of the author's (London journalist Nick Hornby) lifelong love of soccer and his passion for the English pro soccer team Arsenal (which plays in London). Thrown in are side stories about his boyhood, his relationship with his parents, and his posse of friends, love interests, and workmates who either do or don't share his love of the sport.

One problem for North Americans is that this is a truly English book, in that it contains tons of references to little villages in England, little UK customs, judgments and descriptions of London neighborhoods, etc., that left me feeling like a Yankee hick who'd never left the trailer park. Indeed, that is my problem and not the author's, but North Americans who don't know English culture well will feel lost at times.

Another problem is that the book, like the TV show "Seinfeld," isn't really about anything. Sure, there's a lot of chatter about soccer, but not in any sort of methodical or educative way. It's basically a willfully disorganized diary about 20 years in the life of a clever, witty Englishman (from about age 10 to about age 30) who allows soccer to dominate his worldview and, alas, his whole life. It comes down to the amusing musings of a 30-something Londoner, which makes the book fascinating but not monumental.

The obsession with soccer is the strength and the weakness of the work. If you want to learn about English pro soccer, you will be disappointed. If you want to learn first-hand, from a very imaginative and clever soul, about what it was like for one particular person to grow up soccer-mad in southeastern England the 1970's and 1980's and how it impacted the rest of his life, then this is the book for you.

I'm a big fan of Nick Hornby, and a better book of his, and a better "starter book" for him, is "High Fidelity."

2-0 out of 5 stars Painfully, painfully boring
This book was extremely pointless. Since each entry is a memory, they are written like them so they don't have an insteresting story-telling narrative. Also, some of the entries were just how the game was played and who won, with absolutely nothing interesting to say. And that for 300 pages, completely redundant. This book has no beginning, middle, or end. Just entry after entry of complete pointlessness. Now, it may be because I am not interested in sports, but this is just a football (soccor) journal and nothing more. Hornby was able to shove in a little bit of angst and childhood problems, but it is not nearly significant enough to keep the reader interested.

Though the book had some very funny parts, it doesn't make up for the ennui I experienced while reading this book. You know, they made a movie out a this.....HOW?!! It barely works as a piece of fiction or reference book...but a movie?! Jesus. I'm sorry but this was one of the most boring books I've ever read. ... Read more


163. Ogden Nash : The Life and Work of America's Laureate of Light Verse
by Douglas M. Parker
list price: $27.50
our price: $18.70
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 156663637X
Catlog: Book (2005-04-25)
Publisher: Ivan R. Dee, Publisher
Sales Rank: 42649
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

For years, readers have longed for a biography to match Nash's charm, wit, and good nature; now we have it in Douglas Parker's absorbing and delightful life of the poet. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars I recommend it - get Amazon to send it!
I was delighted to find this book.Rather than quoting Nash's verse at length, Parker uses quotes quite judiciously to illustrate various points he's making.This made me want to read more of Nash's collections, which I feel is an indicator of a good biography.
I thought the book was well-paced and engaging.I'm not a big fan of biographies (I tend to find them overwrought and melodramatic), but enjoyed this quite a bit. ... Read more


164. I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away
by BILL BRYSON
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 076790382X
Catlog: Book (2000-06-06)
Publisher: Broadway
Sales Rank: 1682
Average Customer Review: 4.04 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

After living in Britain for two decades, Bill Bryson recently moved back to the United States with his English wife and four children (he had read somewhere that nearly 3 million Americans believed they had been abducted by aliens--as he later put it, "it was clear my people needed me").They were greeted by a new and improved America that boasts microwave pancakes, twenty-four-hour dental-floss hotlines, and the staunch conviction that ice is not a luxury item.

Delivering the brilliant comic musings that are a Bryson hallmark, I'm a Stranger Here Myself recounts his sometimes disconcerting reunion with the land of his birth.The result is a book filled with hysterical scenes of one man's attempt to reacquaint himself with his own country, but it is also an extended if at times bemused love letter to the homeland he has returned to after twenty years away.


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Reviews (158)

4-0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable perspective on America
Bill Bryson can be a curmudgeon. A very funny curmudgeon. This book is a collection of columns he wrote for a British publication over the course of a year. Collected here, they contain the experiences of a person returning to their homeland after 20 years and reacquainting himself. As mentioned by previous reviewers, a couple of the columns seem as if he was rushed (although I found the tax column funny), but many of them are spot-on. Many column subjects are about things Americans like to remember fondly - diners, drive-in movie theatres, the outdoors, and are therefore touching. Others are just plain hilarious. When he's in the 'zone', Bill Bryson is among the funniest authors alive. If you've read a column or any previous books by Bryson and slightly enjoyed it, there will be something here for you. Keep in mind that it is a collection of essays written over the course of one year, so a couple may not sway you, but overall this collection is definitely a keeper!

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting insights from the outside
Bill Bryson's "I'm a Stranger..." is an interesting collection of observations and comments about several aspects of American life. As they are taken from weekly columns he wrote for a paper in England, this is not a "book" per se. But that fact doesn't take away from its charm, or, at times, stinging criticism.

This is mostly a humorous work, like the article Bryson wrote poking fun at the US Federal Tax Return (wait 'til you hear it!). But it's not all light-hearted; Bryson also finds time for more serious matters, like immigration and gun control. His analyses of these situations and his expose' of inconsistent American values/beliefs is worth the price of the book alone. Sometimes it takes an outsider, like Bryson was, to show you things you couldn't see yourself. He does this splendidly.

Others have commented that the book was a little too formulaic; I have noticed this too. Many of the articles end with a "punch-line" of sarcasm, and it seemed a bit predictable the more I read. For this reason I would recommend not reading too much at once. It worked better for me listening to one or two themes at a time, and then taking a break. The material (and Bryson's approach) remained more fresh that way.

In all, though, this was a good effort. Bryson definitely makes you think about issues you might have taken for granted. Four stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars An American Portrait
After reading and enjoying "Notes From a Small Island," I was looking forward to Bryson's witticisms in regards to every day life in America. Although an American, having spent twenty odd years in England gives Bryson a unique perspective on what makes America, and Americans, tick. "I'm a Stranger Here Myself" is a collection of essays Bryson wrote for an English audience; but they lack none of their charm when read by an Anglophile American.

"I'm a Stranger Here Myself" is and odd conglomeration of essays that deal with a range of topics: small-town America, shopping, the inconvenience of our numerous "conveniences", and several entries on his own ineptness when it comes to technology. In each of his essays Bryson is a bit of a wanderer, starting in one direction, only to go off on a tangent. Usually he's able to bring himself back to the point, and can even poke fun at himself for doing so. His wanderings are what sets his style and what generates the largest laughs or head shakes of disbelief.

While Bryson is at times critical of what happens in America, "I'm a Stranger Here Myself" is a loving portrait of a revered country. However, Bryson's perspective is one of a man living a blessed life. He now resides in a virtually crime-free small New Hampshire town and grew up in small-town Iowa. His essays sometimes lack the experiences that growing up or residing in other areas might offer. However, due to his extensive travels, Bryson's perspective is truly unique and a joy to read.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not Bryson's best
Bryson's best book is "Notes From a Small Island," about traveling in Great Britain. It's one of the funniest books I've read. The British are funny, and Bryson knows them well after living in Britain for 20+ years.

His book about Australia, "In a Sunburned Country," is also entertaining. He studied Australian history, met many interesting locals, etc. After reading it, I feel like an expert on Australia and its people.

His book about Europe, "Neither Here Nor There," isn't so good. The problem is that he speaks no languages other than English. He didn't talk to anyone on this trip. Wwithout any characters (other than Bryson) the book isn't engaging. The book has only one joke, which he repeats: "The waiter/hotel clerk/taxi driver didn't speak English so I tried to make him understand that I needed..." Some of these moments are quite funny, but they don't constitute a book. Bryson didn't study the places he visits. Unlike the Australian book, you learn almost nothing about the countries he visited.

Bryson's book about America, "I'm a Stranger Here Myself," failed to make me laugh. It reads like a series of Erma Bombeck columns. Bryson comments about various aspects of his life in a small town in New England. Not other people's lives, which might have been interesting, but only about his domestic life.

I got only a few chapters into his book about the Appalachian Trail, "A Walk in the Woods." I wasn't amused that two people with no backpacking experience would attempt a six-month hike. After several chapters of Bryson repeating one joke -- "I know nothing about any of this!" -- I stopped reading.

This suggests that the old advice "write about what you know" is worth following. It also made me realize that traveling is only enjoyable if you do two things: meet interesting people, preferably by speaking their language; and studying the area you're visiting.

Review by Thomas David Kehoe, author of "Hearts and Minds: How Our Brains Are Hardwired for Relationships"

3-0 out of 5 stars A stranger in a strange land.
"The intricacies of modern American life" leave Bill Bryson wondering, "what on earth am I doing here?" in this collection of short, anecdotal essays (pp. 231; 286). Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Bryson (best known for NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND, A WALK IN THE WOODS, and A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING) lived in the Yorkshire Dales of England for twenty years before returning to the States in 1995 with his English wife and his four children (p. 1). The Brysons lived in Hanover, New Hampshire, before recently returning to Britain (where Bryson is finishing a new book on Shakespeare).

This book offers a compilation of Bryson's whimsical contributions from 1996 to 1998 to London's Night & Day magazine, offering his humorous observations upon life in the United States and in New England in particular. While Bryson recognizes that there is a great deal about American culture that is appealing--"the ease and convenience of life, the friendliness of the people, the astoundingly abundant portions, the intoxicating sense of space, the cheerfulness of nearly everyone who serves you, the notion that almost any desire or whim can be simply and instantly gratified (p. 286)--with his characteristic wit, he chooses instead to skewer American culture in all of its idiosyncrasies--diners, drive ins, dental floss hotlines, diets, processed foods, cable TV, lawsuits, drug laws, running shoes, and garbage disposals.

I am a big Bill Bryson fan. I have rated this book with three stars only when measured against some of his better books--A WALK IN THE WOODS, NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND, A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING, for example. This book didn't hold my attention as those books did, and Bryson's reunion with American culture didn't leave me with a sense of wonder and delight. Rather, his encounters with the American "have-a-nice-day" culture left me feeling like a disenchanted stranger in a strange land myself. Ah, well, who wants to be "normal" by the cultural standards described here anyway?

G. Merritt ... Read more


165. Titan : The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
by RON CHERNOW
list price: $30.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679438084
Catlog: Book (1998-05-05)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 110214
Average Customer Review: 4.51 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Ron Chernow, whose previous books have taken on the Morgan and Warburg financial empires, now turns his attention to the patriarch of the Rockefeller dynasty. John D. was history's first recorded billionaire and one of the most controversial public figures in America at the turn of the 20th century. Standard Oil--which he always referred to as the result of financial "cooperation," never as a "cartel" or a "monopoly"--controlled at its peak nearly 90 percent of the United States oil industry. Rockefeller drew sharp criticism, as well as the attention of federal probes, for business practices like underpricing his competitors out of the market and bribing politicians to secure his dominant market share.

While Chernow amply catalogs Rockefeller's misdeeds, he also presents the tycoon's human side. Making use of voluminous business correspondence, as well as rare transcripts of interviews conducted when Rockefeller was in his late 70s and early 80s, Chernow is able to present his subject's perspective on his own past, re-creating a figure who has come down to us as cold and unfeeling as a shrewd, dryly humorous man who had no inner misgivings about reconciling his devout religious convictions with his fiscal acquisitiveness. The story of John D. Rockefeller Sr. is, in many ways, the story of America between the Civil War and the First World War, and Chernow has told that story in magnificently fascinating depth and style. ... Read more

Reviews (117)

5-0 out of 5 stars The parallels to Gates and MSFT are an interesting subtext
I am in awe of Ron Chernow for writing a long and thorough biography that I absolutely could not put down. Rarely have I finished such a long book in such a short period of time. Chernow manages to show how complex Rockefeller's personality and motives, were, and he helps us to avoid the all-too-easy cliches about the rich and powerful. Yet while revealing the complexity, he is never boring, didactic, or long-winded.

I found it interesting to compare Rockefeller and Standard Oil to Bill Gates and Microsoft. Both men are powerful, rich, misunderstood, certain that their actions are ethical and good for their country and the economy, and dedicated to helping those who are less fortunate. Both men vow(ed) to give away most of their fortune. Both have been attacked by their own government, and villified in the press. Both dominate media coverage of business. And, like Rockefeller, Gates is a brilliant strategist who defies easy cliches and shallow descriptions. You can see goodness in either man, and you can also see evil. The beauty of Chernow's biography is that he allows us to see both sides of Rockefeller, without ever landing on either side himself.

Regardless of my thoughts on the parallels, I highly recommend this bio. Four friends are receiving it as their Christmas gift from me.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Two Sides of Titan
Like its hero, Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller has two sides. At times the almost novelesque book is insufferable. The text is dense and dizzying, making anyone who is not an economist feel incompetent and mind-boggled. At certain points, I needed to reread a sentence maybe two or three times because I either did not understand economic principle being displayed or because of my sheer lack of interest. When I was almost ready to quit with the constant analysis of the oil industry and Rockefeller's economic strategy, Chernow brought out the more personal side of the book, delving into Rockefeller's private life using uncommon and interesting anecdotes. It is quite obvious that Rockefeller's religious beliefs and family history greatly contributed to his transformation into the titan that will forever be remembered in American history. Chernow both proved my preconceived notions of the frugal and hard businessman that Rockefeller seemed to be and then surprised me, revealing the kinder, more spiritual Rockefeller who is oddly likable. I both loved and hated him. Like Chernow states, "what makes him so problematic- and why he continues to inspire such ambivalent reactions- is that his good side was every bit as good as his bad side was bad. Seldom has history produced such a contradictory figure. We are almost forced to posit, in helpless confusion, at least two Rockefellers: the good, religious man and the renegade businessman, driven by baser motives." So like its protagonist, Titan has two sides, its solid factual analysis of Rockefeller's business that perhaps only an economist could enjoy, and its warm-hearted account of Rockefeller's unexpected traits, which is far more appealing.

3-0 out of 5 stars Strong intoduction, bland filler
This book starts out strong, describing in rich detail the rise of one of America's wealthiest men. Very interesting. However, I had to engage in a type of self-coercion to pick the book up after about 100 pages. I hate to call it "filler," but I have to call a spade a spade.

4-0 out of 5 stars Story of an American Icon
In the biography of John D. Rockefeller Sr., Ron Chernow exposes the man behind the myth. Chernow shows both Rockefeller's ruthless nature and his religous beliefs. Even though the book at points was long wordy and long I still found it to be enjoyable. This book does give you a really broad insite to his business pratices and the history of the Standard Oil Company.

5-0 out of 5 stars Five solid stars, THE book on J.D. Rockefeller Sr.
The other reviews have basically said it for me: this is the definitive book on the founder of Standard Oil. While most biographies of Rockefeller Sr. have been either suspiciously laudatory or equally dubiously contemptuous, Chernow takes the middle ground. Ultimately, Chernow seems to fall more on the side of liking Rockefeller, and employs the somewhat cliche perspective that could fairly be called "modern contextualist"- from which Rockefeller is not much more than a product of his times. However, the slight overuse of this particular biographical "voice," if you will, is but one element of what is really a monumental biography of a fascinating person. Chernow is a very readable biographer who evidently has a deep understanding of American business. (Chernow also wrote "The House of Morgan" - an account of the development of the various offshoots of J.P. Morgan's banking empire which, although very good, lacks Titan's intense focus and analysis.) I heartily recommend Titan. ... Read more


166. Guru : My Days with Del Close
by Jeff Griggs
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1566636140
Catlog: Book (2005-04-25)
Publisher: Ivan R. Dee, Publisher
Sales Rank: 245387
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Jeff Griggs gives the reader the essentials of Close's biography: his childhood in Kansas, early years as an actor, countercultural exploits in the 1960's, years with the Compass Players and then with Second City, experimentation with every drug imaginable, which cost him his health and ultimately his life. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars A great portrayal of Del, and of Improvisers in general
What impressed me most about this book was not Griggs' compelling portrayal of Del Close (although I loved it), nor the way that it filled in gaps in Close's biography that I only had to guess at before.What I liked most about it was Griggs' descriptions of what it's like to be an improviser in the scene; taking classes, being in ensembles and learning from giants.I certainly can relate, and that's what helped make this book such an essential read for me.This book is a must for disciples of Close.It's funny, touching, wonderfully human, highly informative.It made me feel like I had gotten to know Close well.After reading this book, I truly wish I had that honor.

5-0 out of 5 stars Something Wonderful Right Away...
I couldn't put the book down.I loved Mr. Griggs' invocation of Del Close.

For improvisers it's a must-read:you witness Del's clarity and passion regarding the craft.
For you pop-culture buffs, it's a must read:you get to learn of Del's impact on American comedy, and his intersections with 1960s counterculture.
For those who love a good story, it's a must read:I loved how seemingly innocuous errands became adrenaline rushing adventures, and was fascinated by the reflections of a man who lived a tremendously full life.

With his book, Mr. Griggs took me back to when I studied under Del in 1998.Seven years later, his teaching is very much vital and relevant to us as we are building a longform improv community in Houston, TX.Thanks for your work, Jeff.Well done!

5-0 out of 5 stars Read it, Loved it.
This book is such a good read, you'll be hard pressed to put it down once you pick it up. The essence of Del is so meticulously laid in front of you, that you truly feel you knew him by the book's end. All of the true life stories presented by Griggs hit home and give insight into the fearless, crazy, and sometimes lonely world of an incredible genius. If you have enjoyed any comedian or comedic actor in the past 35 years, then you must read this book, as Del has been noted by nearly every one as a person of influence and inspiration. Kudos to Griggs for bringing this to us. ... Read more


167. Waiting for Birdy: A Year of Frantic Tedium, Neurotic Angst, and the Wild Magic of Growing a Family
by Catherine Newman
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143034774
Catlog: Book (2005-03-29)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 156553
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168. Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod
by Gary Paulsen
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156001454
Catlog: Book (1995-02-17)
Publisher: Harvest Books
Sales Rank: 7271
Average Customer Review: 4.81 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Fueled by a passion for running dogs, Gary Paulsen entered the Iditarod--the 1150-mile winter sled-dog race between Anchorage and Nome-- in dangerous ignorance and with a fierce determination.Winterdance is his account of this seventeen-day battle against Nature's worst elements and his own frailty. ... Read more

Reviews (105)

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fantastic.
Gary Paulsen is a master writer insofar as the young male set goes-he has written a long series of stories that have captured the imagination of young men everywhere, from his fictional wildlife adventure tales like Hatchett to his entertaining Culpeper Adventure series, Paulsen has a knack for connecting with a young male audience.

He was my son's all time favorite author growing up and, last time I visited him at college, noticed he had a copy of Hatchet on his bookshelf at school. I asked him about it and he said something to the effect that his room didn't feel like home without it there. How many writers can affect people like that?

Winterdance is a bit of a departure for Paulsen. As sott of younger male's version of Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, the book is a memoir telling the story of Paulsen's entry into the Iditarod dog sled race in Alaska. Funny, sad, poignant and riveting, I read it and enjoyed it very much. I also had my son read it and he loved it as well. I rather suspect it's on his shelf next to Hatchett.

You can't really go wrong with Paulsen, but this is one of his very best works, which makes this one of the best works ever for this genre.

Want to help your son, nephew, whomever to love to read while making your son, nephew, whoever very happy? Give them this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars The fine madness of running the Iditarod
This book packs quite a punch. Each chapter ended with this reader wincing for the author, who had just spent the night stumbling through a Minnesota swamp, his eyes almost swollen shut from mosquito bites, searching for his runaway dog team, or had been blown down an Alaskan mountainside with his team, in the midst of a blinding snowstorm.

Not to mention the five-skunk night.

It takes a great deal of physical as well as mental toughness to train for the Iditarod, much less run a team of half-wild dogs in the actual race.

"Winterdance" reminds me of Algernon Blackwood's "Wendigo:" in both stories men are caught by the spirit of the Great Northern Wilderness, and perish or almost perish. I think the most telling moment in Paulsen's book comes when he runs his team to the end of his trapline---and then keeps on going in the dead of a Minnesota winter, just to see what lies beyond the next hill. His wife's intuition to call out a search team was correct, even though Paulsen eventually did turn back. The 'Wendigo' or wanderlust had almost captured his soul.

It also reminds me of "Call of the Wild." Like Jack London, Paulsen has a laconic, fluid writing style, and both authors include the Wilderness itself as one of their major characters. I won't say that either man subscribed to Blackwood's weird brand of pantheistic mysticism, but read how Paulsen slowly bonds with his dogs--and other wild animals.

This book is also a grand dog story with more pratfalls than a "Three Stooges" movie. The author spent many a night on his backside, being dragged down a dirt road (or worse, through a second-growth forest) by his lusty team. Running the Iditarod takes a very special madness, and Paulsen endured moose attacks, blizzards, dog bites, and too many helpings of moose chili to draw us into his very beautiful and brutal world.

5-0 out of 5 stars quite fun!
the skunks... the skunks... the skunks!!!!
What a riot!

4-0 out of 5 stars A Good Adventure Story by a Great Author
I have always been interested in dogs and sports involving them, so I thought this would be a good book. I was right. WINTERDANCE was a humorous, easy-to-read story (Which I finished in two days). The plot is fast-paced, and this is not the kind of story where you get one page into it and quit. It's about a dog musher who decides to run the Iditarod. He doesn't realize what he's getting himself into and what a serious commitment it is. He survives the tough training, but it is nothing compared to the real race.Before he finally crosses the finish line, he has been victim of a moose attack, had hallucinations, fallen off a cliff, gotten lost, and almost frozen to death! It keeps you on the edge of your seat.

On the down side, this book draws a rather abrupt, and not very satisfying conclusion. A few parts are poorly written (Although most of in is well written). It also has profanity. Lots of it. This book is definitely not for very young children. But overall, it is a very satisfying read.

4-0 out of 5 stars winterdance
Winterdance is filled with adventure and fun. I enjoy novels about sports and animals. Some of my favorite books are The Contender and Where The Red Fern Grows this book is up there with them. I found it very funny. It deals with Gary Pulsen description of preparing and running the Iditarod.
The story starts out with Paulsen and his favorite dog, Cookie. Paulsen describes his search for dogs and training them and himself for the iditarod. Along the way he finds some interesting ways of doing this. Paulsen ends up hitting a lot of tress while being dragged by his dogs, and that's just the beginning. The race tended to be even funnier.

Winterdance kept my interest in different ways. It was hilarious and I always wanted to find out what happened next. Paulsen was in the middle of the race when the snow picked up. The next thing he knew he was in the middle of the snowstorm. He went in his sleeping bag. When he woke up the next morning, Paulsen found out that he was covered in snow. When he stood up to go to the bathroom, he was surprised and you will be too. I think Winterdance would be a good book for anyone into adventure books with lots and lots of laughs. ... Read more


169. Welfare Brat : A Memoir
by Mary Childers
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1582345864
Catlog: Book (2005-05-02)
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Sales Rank: 17608
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Book Description

An intimate and frank look at poverty, abuse, and welfare dependence by a "welfare brat" who came of age in the blighted Bronx of the 1960s.

Mary Childers grew up in a neighborhood ravaged by poverty. Once a borough of elegant apartment buildings, parks, and universities, the Bronx had become a national symbol of urban decay. White flight, arson, rampant crime, and race riots provide the backdrop for Mary's story. The child of an absent carny father for whom she longed and a single welfare mother who schemed and struggled to house and feed her brood, Mary was the third of her mother's surviving seven children, who were fathered by four different men.

From an early age, Mary knew she was different. She loved her family fiercely but didn't want to repeat her mother's or older sisters' mistakes. The Childers family culture was infused with alcohol and drugs, and relations between the sexes were muddled by simultaneous feelings of rage and desire toward men. Fatherless children were the norm. Academic achievement and hard work were often scorned, not rewarded; five of the seven Childers children dropped out of high school. But Mary was determined to create a better life, and here she recounts her bumpy road to self-sufficiency. With this engaging and thoughtful examination of her difficult early years, Mary Childers breathes messy life into the issues of poverty and welfare dependence, childhood resilience, the American work ethic, and a popular culture that values sexuality more than self-esteem.
... Read more

170. Stop-Time
by Frank Conroy
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140044469
Catlog: Book (1993-09-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 83166
Average Customer Review: 4.56 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Classic American memoir
Conroy has been compared to Holden Caulfield, but Stop-Time, of course, is memoir - not fiction. Also, Conroy's writing is understated, haunting, and lyrical, even when he's talking about pretty brutal and gritty stuff. It's a must-read for anyone who wants to study the art of the memoir. First published in 1967, it still rings with the truth of boyhood and adolescence during a certain time in America.
The facts are not so terribly remarkable: He grew up poor, was bright but didn't do well in school, moved around a lot, his father died when he was 12, and he didn't get along with his stepfather (who, after Conroy's mother left, moved an insane girlfriend into the home). Okay, all that makes a good enough tale - but what really elevates it to high art is Conroy's skill as a writer, his ability to take a teensy memory or detail and expand it into something utterly remarkable.
Read it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Elegant and tightly crafted
Thirty-six years after it was first published, Frank Conroy's Stop-Time still holds up as a classic American memoir, and a great book to boot. Conroy's young narrator reminds me of Holden Caulfield, but he's less cloying. Conroy controls the writing beautifully -- this is a far better book than The Liars Club and, for my money, a better book than Angela's Ashes, too. Understated and haunting -- a must-read for any student of memoir, and a good book for anyone interested in what it was once like to grow up in America.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Beautifully Written Memoir of Growing Up
The memoir has become a particularly prominent literary form in the past decade, often blending fact and fiction in licentious literary exploration. I think, particularly, of Mary Karr ("The Liar's Club" and, more recently, "Cherry") and Kathryn Harrison ("The Kiss") and, of course, Frank McCourt's Irish ramblings, among others. But thirty or so years before all these candid, sometimes titillating, self confessions, Frank Conroy wrote a book titled "Stop-Time," a memoir that surpasses all of them in the beauty of its prose and the poignant and deep sensitivity of its feeling.

"Stop-Time" tells the story of Frank Conroy's first eighteen years of life, a life marked by the ordinary rather than the lurid or unseemly. But the ordinariness of the life is elevated by the dreamlike, sensitive, asynchronous wonder of Conroy's writing. As Conroy relates in the first chapter of his narrative, in a passage that gives you a feeling for his writing style and for the narrative to follow: "My faith in the firmness of time slips away gradually. I begin to believe that chronological time is an illusion and that some other principle organizes existence. My memories flash like clips of film from unrelated movies."

"Stop-Time" is a stunning example of how great writing can elevate even the most ordinary of lives. The facts of Conroy's memoir are not remarkable. He grew up in relatively poor circumstances, his father died of cancer when he was 12 and lived most of his life apart from Conroy's mother, he spent his time primarily between New York and Florida, and he was a bright boy who performed miserably in school. But while the broad outlines of his life are seemingly unremarkable, Conroy possesses the great gift of the writer: he can focus on the mote of dust floating in the sunlight and take the reader into a world of dreams and memories that are startlingly real, a world that the reader can feel and identify from his or her own recollections of growing up.

Conroy can lie down in a kennel with his family's dogs and dream that he, too, is a dog running through a field. He can relate the fear of being left alone in a cold cabin in the middle of winter while his mother and her boyfriend work the third shift at a state mental institution. He can recall a trip to the carnival with his best friend and how he was cheated and more by a seedy carnie hawker. He can precisely detail learning all the tricks you can do with a yo-yo, and learn them well. And he can recall the tumescent longings of early adolescence, of sneaking and peeking with his cousin and, as he got older, of experiencing, too. It is all related with a feeling, with a literary sense, that would be called "perfect pitch" if it were music.

"Stop-Time" is a remarkably written memoir that not only should be read, but also studied, as a stunning example of how the literary imagination can give vibrant life to the mundane.

1-0 out of 5 stars Truly bad
Not only is Conroy a woman hater, he also cannnot write worth a dime. Much of his work is nonsense,badly written, trite and boring. Use this as scrap paper!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Beautifully Written Memoir of Growing Up
The memoir has become a particularly prominent literary form in the past decade, often blending fact and fiction in licentious literary exploration. I think, particularly, of Mary Karr ("The Liar's Club" and, more recently, "Cherry") and Kathryn Harrison ("The Kiss") and, of course, Frank McCourt's Irish ramblings, among others. But thirty or so years before all these candid, sometimes titillating, self confessions, Frank Conroy wrote a book titled "Stop-Time," a memoir that surpasses all of them in the beauty of its prose and the poignant and deep sensitivity of its feeling.

"Stop-Time" tells the story of Frank Conroy's first eighteen years of life, a life marked by the ordinary rather than the lurid or unseemly. But the ordinariness of the life is elevated by the dreamlike, sensitive, asynchronous wonder of Conroy's writing. As Conroy relates in the first chapter of his narrative, in a passage that gives you a feeling for his writing style and for the narrative to follow: "My faith in the firmness of time slips away gradually. I begin to believe that chronological time is an illusion and that some other principle organizes existence. My memories flash like clips of film from unrelated movies."

"Stop-Time" is a stunning example of how great writing can elevate even the most ordinary of lives. The facts of Conroy's memoir are not remarkable. He grew up in relatively poor circumstances, his father died of cancer when he was 12 and lived most of his life apart from Conroy's mother, he spent his time primarily between New York and Florida, and he was a bright boy who performed miserably in school. But while the broad outlines of his life are seemingly unremarkable, Conroy possesses the great gift of the writer: he can focus on the mote of dust floating in the sunlight and take the reader into a world of dreams and memories that are startlingly real, a world that the reader can feel and identify from his or her own recollections of growing up.

Conroy can lie down in a kennel with his family's dogs and dream that he, too, is a dog running through a field. He can relate the fear of being left alone in a cold cabin in the middle of winter while his mother and her boyfriend work the third shift at a state mental institution. He can recall a trip to the carnival with his best friend and how he was cheated and more by a seedy carnie hawker. He can precisely detail learning all the tricks you can do with a yo-yo, and learn them well. And he can recall the tumescent longings of early adolescence, of sneaking and peeking with his cousin and, as he got older, of experiencing, too. It is all related with a feeling, with a literary sense, that would be called "perfect pitch" if it were music.

"Stop-Time" is a remarkably written memoir that not only should be read, but also studied, as a stunning example of how the literary imagination can give vibrant life to the mundane. ... Read more


171. When I Was Puerto Rican
by ESMERALDA SANTIAGO
list price: $12.95
our price: $9.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679756760
Catlog: Book (1994-10-11)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 11827
Average Customer Review: 4.59 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Selling over 16,000 copies in hardcover, this triumphant coming-of-age memoir is now available in paperback editions in both English and Spanish. In the tradition of Black Ice, Santiago writes lyrically of her childhood on her native island and of her bewildering years of transition in New York City. ... Read more

Reviews (76)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Gift From Santiago
A joyful and proud eulogy to the island of her youth. Santiago is a wonderfully talented voice that exudes passion. The title alone, When I WAS Puerto Rican, is at first intriguing. But we soon learn the profound sense of this past tense usage. I read Santiago's memories in Spanish, which, in my view presents her story in a distinctive poetic prose, rhythm and rhapsody (often characteristic in Spanish) that is absolutely captivating. However, what is most appealing about this autobiogaphy, interwoven delightfully with memorable and richly detailed anecdotes, is the moving revelation that Santiago shares with her readers who don't know what it means to be caught in the agonizing web of dual-identities/dual-allegiances that is largely the Puerto Rican Experience ... as well as other North American immigrant experiences. This writer has presented us with a lyrical gift of enormous joy. High on the list of Must-Read novels, especially those by the new cadre of Latina writers. If you haven't as yet seen the excellent movie version of the sequel to this novel, Almost A Woman, do so. Wanda de Jesus is brilliant in the lead role.

Alan Cambeira
Author of AZUCAR! The Story of Sugar (a novel)

5-0 out of 5 stars When I Was Puerto Rican
When I Was Puerto Rican is a chronicle of the events that take place in the life of author Esmeralda Santiago during her childhood in Puerto Rico and later New York city.

Two things make this book worthwhile right off the bat. One it crosses the divdes of age, sex and race. I found it to be an effective introduction to Puerto Rican culture. However, this isn't a story for simply one group of people it was written for everyone.

I believe that Mrs. Santiago while writing this biography tried her best to keep the events of her early life in the child-like perspective,in which she first experienced them. What I mean by this is she does not pollute her narrative with the reflections of an older wiser adult woman looking backward. She allows the story to unfold as it was at the time.

Culturally this book is far different from any other book I've read. But the story and the empathy I felt for the characters in it has stayed with me.

4-0 out of 5 stars Touching and Heart Felt
I just finished "When I was Puerto Rican." I thoroughly enjoyed the book and connected with the author. Being the oldest female child in my family, I have felt the way that she did. The book takes you back through your adolescence and makes you exam life.

Another plus to the book is how much culture it has. I enjoyed learning about the culture, the food, the dichos (sayings). I am pretty familiar with the Mexican Culture but the Puerto Rican has a completely different vibe and I enjoy it. Esmeralda's experience in New York is what so many people dream of. She makes me proud of her and I feel that I know her so intimately. That is what I love about her writing. Thank you for being so honest with your readers.

5-0 out of 5 stars When I was Puerto Rican
The book of "When I was Puerto Rican by; Esmeralda Santiagon was really great. It's shows the way she lived in Puerto Rico her life was easy she lived with her mother and her uncle that would always help them out, she also lived with six cousins. She got older she wanted to get married with this guy that she liked but her uncle wanted to get married with this older guy. She didn't want to but if she didn't her uncle would have to go to this counselor camp. That's when she decided to run away she wanted to go to America.
She wanted to come America and have a better life but sometimes cominh to america is so easy. She also wanted to come and find her dad that was a soldier. Esmeralda books are really amazing because she puts you in her shoes and she takes you with her in her journeys. She shows how hard it was for her to live in the situation she did. Not knowing anything about her culture. This book is a really good book if you want to know whether she goes to America and finds her dad and gets a better life.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
This is, without question, the best autobiography I've ever read. Santiago's writing is vibrant, fluid, and concise. Her evocation of life in PR as Americanization slowly seeps in is deadeye brilliant, and her transition to life in the margins in Brooklyn is heart-rending. She never uses a hammer to make her points, choosing the subtle, the offhand, the seemingly innocuous instead.

Edwidge Danticat should take notes. Ernesto Quinones should be embarrased. ... Read more


172. Inside the Kingdom : My Life in Saudi Arabia
by Carmen Bin Ladin
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446577081
Catlog: Book (2004-07-14)
Publisher: Warner Books
Sales Rank: 2899
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Osama bin Laden's formersister-in-law provides a penetrating, unusually inti- mate look into Saudi soci-ety and the bin Laden family's role within it, aswell as the treatment of Saudi women.On September 11th, 2001,Carmen bin Ladin heard the news that the Twin Towers had been struck. She instinctively knew that her ex-brother-in-law was involved in these hor-rifying acts of terrorism, and her heart went out to America. She also knew that her life and the lives of her family would never be the same again.Carmen bin Ladin, half Swiss and half Persian, married into-and later divorced from-the bin Laden family and found herself inside a complex and vast clan, part of a society that she neither knew nor understood. Her story takes us inside the bin Laden family and one of the most powerful, secretive, and repressed kingdoms in the world. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars answers many questions
Have you ever wondered how on earth a Western woman could marry a man from a culture that is totally alien to hers? In Inside the Kingdom, Carmen Bin Laden tells the story of how she went from being a free spirited Swiss schoolgirl to the wife of one of the members of the Saudi Arabian Bin Laden clan. It was easy. She was young, he was charming, handsome, rich and seemingly easy going. They fell in love. She thought they were going to live in America and Europe. She was wrong.

Imagine living in a place where it's against the law for you to show your face in public. Imagine not being able to go shopping even for your own clothes or personal items. Imagine shocking your in-laws becuase you want to go for a walk.

One of the most vivid and sad scenes from the book describes how Carmen's husband had to make special arrangements in order for her to go to a grocery store to buy baby formula. While she rushed to the baby section the customers (all male) left the store and the staff turned their backs to her.

Carmen quickly discovered to her horror that listening to music was considered sinful, reading books was considered odd and having a thought in one's pretty head was seen as completely unnatural.

Eventually, the marriage soured and Carmen decided to leave Saudi for the sake of her daughters. The book will attract attention of course because of the author's infamous brother-in-law, Osama (he was apparently a foreboding figure even as a young man) but it's more than a tragi-comic look into the Bin Laden home. This book is a clear eyed look at Saudi life.

Carmen Bin Laden went to Saudi thinking that modernity would prevail and that in a few years Saudi women would have more rights. She was wrong then and things don't look any better now. Since Saudi Arabia is ostensibly an American ally taking an honest look at it makes sense. Can such a culture really change? Are we fools to it expect to?

Inside the Kingdom is a very good book.I'm glad I bought it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for all women
Normally I don't read biographies. Usually they focus on rags to riches stories that I can't relate to. This book was the exception.
This bio starts normally: boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl get married. But this is where the normality ends. Carmen marries into the Bin Ladin family,which back then were not synominous with terrorism. Carmen, who is foreign to Saudi life, is forced to live in isolation. She cannot come and go as she pleases without being completly veiled. She is forced to live in a world where women are property of the men; she is viewed as a foreigner by the other women because she was not born Saudi. Women,imagine going in a time machine from 2004 to the mid 19th century. At least that is the closest analogy I can think of.
This book made me appreciate the simple freedoms that we Americans take advantage of. I couldn't imagine living a life where I felt so powerless as a woman. I admire Carmen for being strong enough to get away from Saudi Arabia once and for all. Every female should read this book. It is an eye opener how far we women have come in America. ... Read more


173. Confessions of a Street Addict
by James J. Cramer
list price: $26.00
our price: $17.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743224876
Catlog: Book (2002-05-13)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 27228
Average Customer Review: 4.19 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

It's hard to think of anyone more intense or opinionated, or who wears as many hats as James Cramer. In Confessions of a Street Addict, the man who first made a name for himself on Wall Street successfully managing his hedge fund--and then became famous on Main Street with his manic appearances on CNBC--tells the improbable story of his career as journalist, Wall Street pundit, Internet entrepreneur, and television commentator. For the most part, Cramer manages to avoid the self-congratulatory hype that mars so many books of this ilk; in fact, what makes Confessions so compelling are the shots that Cramer takes at himself, be it his now infamous capitulation during the stock market panic of October 1998, when he wrote a piece for TheStreet.com advising readers of an impending crash just as the market began to rebound, or the callous way he treated so many around him in pursuit of the next trade. Here's an informative, honest, and rollicking read for fans of CNBC, TheStreet.com, or anyone who has ever lost sleep thinking about their portfolios. Highly recommended. --Harry C. Edwards ... Read more

Reviews (105)

5-0 out of 5 stars High Energy Reading, Don't Miss This Book!
I recommend reading this book, even if you don't like the stock market or investing. I could hardly put it down once I started to read it. Jim Cramer is not only an exciting individual, but he has tremendous writing skill. You will be amazed at how much fun you will have reading this book, because every line you read causes you to crave the next and the next and the next.

If you desire to see inside the mind of someone on Wall Street this is your opportunity. At times you will envy him, at other times you will despise him, but in the end you will walk away with a deep respect for him. Even if you disagree with his total workaholic mentality, his work ethic will astonish you. He is one of the truely interesting people in the financial world and he has given you the guided tour of his life.

Personally I look forward each day to Real Money on the radio and Kudlow and Cramer on CNBC each night, so this book was a logical next step in understanding the Markets and the people who move them. Don't miss this one or you will regret it.

5-0 out of 5 stars To Trader's Hell and Back, And Lived to Tell About It
James J. Cramer (Cramer & Berkowitz, TheStreet.com, CNBC's Kudlow & Cramer) takes you to a stock market trader's hell and back in "Confessions of a Street Addict." The analogy of investing being a war zone was coined at least 70 years ago with Gerald Loeb's "The Battle For Investment Survival" (1935). And you can't make it through the pages of this book without realizing what a battlefield it is. No book comes closer to approximating the giddy highs or heart-wrenching lows that trading puts a person through. The glory of victory and the agony of defeat are never more real as Cramer bares the trader's soul.
The book reads almost like an adventure novel - ricocheting from one crisis to another, each scene set up with hero and villain, with Cramer not always coming out on top. He starts you off with his basic biography, of being a teenage stock picker (paper trader), of his march through journalism (which shows in his writing), of Harvard Law, and eventually to Wall Street's most intense stage of conflict - the hedge fund.
The beauty of this book is that you get the fly-in-the-brain's view of how traders think (or don't think when their emotions get the best of them), how Wall Street really works, and how it all congeals together to produce the daily statistics. You are there as Cramer learns the ropes from his wife-to-be, The Trading Goddess, Karen Backfish. You sweat with him as he does deals, takes chances, high-fives victories, and crashes so low with failures he could probably seep out under the door unnoticed. A lot of the things you learn run counter to what the official Wall Street line wants you to know - the inside story of the blow-up of LTCM, and how analysts, brokers, and fund managers continually jostle each other for positions of power and influence, and profit.
The most interesting part of the book is being there as the Internet springs to life in the mid 90s - the wild enthusiasm and the unbelievable cluelessness that much of the Internet was built upon. But it was built, and it was built by the types of people Cramer came in contact with regularly - half geniuses, half dreamers, and half con men. And you're right - most of the time, it didn't add up.
Cramer, in addition to being a market manic, had a populist's belief that the little guys should have the same access to what the big guys had, and that the technology was now here to make it possible. TheStreet.com was the result. It's still here - one of the survivors, as is Cramer.
A lot of the book is a sad commentary on how far an addiction can twist your life around. Cramer chastises himself for talking stocks beside his mother's deathbed, his tumultuous relationship with his benefactor Marty Peretz, the destruction of computers and equipment and abuse of employees when the market went against him, and how he deserted his family for the sake of "the game." He simply couldn't stand to lose. In the end, he had enough common sense (though he makes it clear that his wife was always the steady rock in their relationship) to quit while he was ahead.
I particularly enjoyed Cramer's honesty at the extremes, (the emotional soul-wrenching limit) especially the bottom in 1998 (when he caved in - "sell everything, the market's gonna' crash - it's the end of the world"), and at the top in 2000 (when he publicly announced Internet stocks would live forever), and Cramer's final tantrum with the market on 22 Nov 00 when he met his match in a long Brocade position (I quit!). Each time, Cramer was so sure he was right, nobody or thing could dissuade him of his fallibility. But each time, it was his wife (1998), or reality (2000), or, finally, his own cathartic understanding of himself that led him back to humility...and humanity.
Given his personality, one must believe that if he had taken up stamp collecting, little would have changed, and it would be the philatelic world which would have had to live through Cramer's manias. Summing up his career, Cramer quotes his wife's 1998 pronouncement as they recovered from nearly panicking out at the bottom: "It's better to be lucky than to be good." However, with the success Backfish and Cramer had, I expect their luck was more of the variety of being smart enough to be at the right place at the right time than that of a pure roll of the dice. Good traders aren't just lucky, they're good. And Cramer was good, even if he was an addict.

3-0 out of 5 stars The scam that is Wall St....
With a rolodex of of brokers, analysts and CEO's at their fingertips... Cramer & Co. spent their day hyping or deflating stocks (depending on whether they were long or short), or just trying to get a reading of where the analyst community was (hoping to short or long the stocks -- which they would then go on to hype or deflate)... in the end, of course, the poor sucker holding the bag was John Q. Public.

So is this what hedge fund managers spend their day doing? Is this what trading was to Cramer & Co. (manipulating and in cahoots with Wall St. analysts)? Are analysts nothing but cheerleaders for their favorite stock of the day?

Oh, what a web of deceit and collusion Wall St. is...

5-0 out of 5 stars The Legend
This book rules. I have read both it and Nicholas Maier's "Trading with the enemy", and after completing both, hands down give the trophy to Cramer. Both books tell the same stories, but Cramer is a significantly more intelligent, insightful and entertaining writer. Great balance of Jim being Jim, an insider's view into Cramer Berkowitz and the impact of social and political activities on Wall Street. Jim spends about 20% of the book talking about how drastically he was impacted by the events which unfolded in 1998, specifically in regard to the LTCM liquidation in the fallout of the Russian bond default.

If you have any interest in Wall Street get this and read it.

4-0 out of 5 stars I Can Only Take Him In Small Doses
I listen to him on the radio and of course seen him on his show so I bought the book.

I did not finish the book. It is difficult to describe precisely but it is like a sugar overdose. I know 90% will disagree but that is my feeling about the book. There is too much self promotion - not that other writers do not also do this - but I find it annnoying, and there are many good books to read.

Having said that he is a brilliant investor. Follow what he does and you will do well. If you really cannot get enough Cramer then read this book.

4 stars

My humble opinion.

Jack in Toronto ... Read more


174. Surviving Deployment: A Guide for Military Families
by Karen Pavlicin, Karen M. Pavlicin
list price: $19.95
our price: $19.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0965748367
Catlog: Book (2003-04)
Publisher: Elva Resa Pub
Sales Rank: 76286
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

As part of today's active duty or reserve forces, your loved one may be called to war, peacekeeping missions, anti-terrorism campaigns, field exercises, disaster relief, and many other duties far from home--and you.

Surviving Deployment is your personal guide to turning an otherwise lonely and challenging situation into a positive experience.

Learn what to expect, how to prepare, and how to personally grow as individuals and families. Your survival gear will range from a sturdy toilet plunger to the fine art of letter writing. You'll manage financial changes, help children express their feelings, and discover a renewed appreciation for everyday life.

Solid information. Practical checklists. Personal stories from hundreds of families. ... Read more

Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Get it for your kids' sake! Great resource, dynamic speaker!
I recently attended a deployment/reunion workshop given by the author. She is a dynamic speaker, down-to-earth person, and has lots of experience to share. She has a great sense of humor and outlook on life. Everyone at the workshop received a book. I read it right away.

I have four young kids. My husband has been deployed for a year and I sometimes lose my patience! I learned some great tips for "winning cooperation" and seeing things from my kids' perspective. (And yes, I realized a few things that are my fault that I've been blaming on my kids!)

I highly recommend this book!

And if you can, get the author to speak at your post/base. The workshop was a nice complement to the book. She made it very relevant to our battalion's situation. I was feeling down when I went in and I came out feeling inspired and ready to handle the last stretch of deployment. It was nice to see the author's sense of humor and examples continued in the book. I think my kids are very happy I attended and read this book! Get it for yourself and your kids will benefit too!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must for Military Families
This book is wonderful. I highly recommended it to ALL military families. It has lots of ideas and things to consider. It has short stories of other families' experiences. And it covers all branchs of the military. I'm recommending this book to ALL my online support groups, my FRG and I'm recommending it to you!

5-0 out of 5 stars Great for After Deployments Too
Having been through a long deployment, I can honestly say that the time after the deployment - when we got back together again - has been just as hard as during the deployment! For different reasons, of course. I found this book to be very helpful for our reunion and getting back to "normal" life. It covers everything from courting and sex to changes in parenting roles, children's reactions, and being sensitive to how to talk about combat situations.

I like that it gives perspectives and tips for service members coming home as well as for family members. It helped us understand and think about it from each other's point of view. Some of the information is great for any couple who wants to strengthen their relationship or if one of you travels a lot.

I wish I had read this book before the deployment (I didn't make the time) but I'm really glad I started reading it just before our homecoming. Good advice and some great stories. Don't just buy it, make time to read it!

5-0 out of 5 stars Not just for Military
I am a Military "Brat" as well as a Military spouse. After reading this book I realized that even though I have been a spouse for 17 years there are still things to be learned, things to be updated(wills) and reviewed(insurance policies,budgets). This book has checklists that are for anyone to follow not just Military. If you have spouses that travel this book if for you, if you have children this book is for you, if you have moved recently or are planning to this book if for you. New to the military? "Surviving Deployment" is exactly what you need!

5-0 out of 5 stars Covers Everything About Deployments!
This book is so well put together. It covers every aspect of deployments - I can't think of anything I wanted to know that isn't covered here. Every military family should have this book!! ... Read more


175. Down Came the Rain : My Journey Through Postpartum Depression
by Brooke Shields
list price: $31.98
our price: $21.11
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1401382274
Catlog: Book (2005-05-03)
Publisher: Hyperion
Sales Rank: 23961
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In this compelling memoir, Brooke Shields talks candidly about her experience with postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter, and provides millions of women with an inspiring example of recovery.

When Brooke Shields welcomed her newborn daughter, Rowan Francis, into the world, something unexpected followed-a crippling depression. Now, for the first time ever, in Down Came the Rain, Brooke talks about the trials, tribulations, and finally the triumphs that occurred before, during, and after the birth of her daughter.

In what is sure to strike a chord with the millions of women who suffer from depression after childbirth, America's sweetheart Brooke Shields shares how she, too, battled this debilitating condition that is widely misunderstood, despite the fact that it affects many new mothers. She discusses the illness in the context of her life, including her struggle to get pregnant, the high expectations she had for herself and that others placed on her as a new mom, and the role of her husband, friends, and family as she struggled to attain her maternal footing in the midst of a disabling depression. And, ultimately, Brooke shares how she found a way out through talk therapy, medication, and time.

Exhibiting an informed voice and a self-deprecating sense of humor, this first memoir from a woman who has grown up before the eyes of the world is certain to attract the attention and empathy of many new mothers and fans alike. ... Read more

Reviews (22)

3-0 out of 5 stars The rules of life are different for the rich and famous
Like Brooke Shields, I have experienced very crippling depression that left me completely devastated and unable to function.But unlike Brooke Shields I did not have a docter calling me every day (I've never even heard of a docter who does that), nor did I have the money to hire a baby nurse, let alone hire a nurse to leave her own child to fly across the country to be with me.Nor did I have the healing or closure to my depression by having the money to write a book all about it.Maybe that's why I, and probably millions of others, suffered a lot more than Brooke did.(I do not want to undermine Brooke's suffering, but I think that I can safely say she suffered less simply because money and status is a very powerful tool in buying the help you need.)
Though Brooke initially suffered what millions of others suffered, like many celebrities she seems to be oblivious to the resources she has that most people in this world simply don't have.Let's hear about a book by a woman who is not rich and famous to see how a woman without all the resources only celebrities have, can heal.

5-0 out of 5 stars Superb!
Brooke has done a wonderful job communicating the crushing blows dealt by PPD.After wading through the ordeal twice, I have a passion for others to know and understand what it is all about, espcially to know that it does not make anyone a bad mother.I highly recommend this for anyone who wants to know more about PPD!

Way to go, Brooke.

5-0 out of 5 stars Thank you for sharing
This is the first time I have heard about someone who had the same reaction to their newborn as I did and endured the same crushing feelings of depression that followed the birth of a child.I was aware of post-partum depression -- but only the extreme version where the mother kills the child.I was more like Brooke -- I didn't want to hurt my baby, I just wanted to hurt myself.I felt worthless and truly believed that my month-old baby thought that I was a loser.I hope this book encourages women who experience any form of PPD to get help and realize that these feelings can and will go away with help.Most important, I hope this book will help other mothers suffering from PPD know that they are not alone.On a related note, I read today that Tom Cruise is bashing Brooke and this book because Brooke used Paxil to assist with overcoming PPD."Dr." Tom claims that PPD can be cured through vitamins and that drugs never should be used to treat this illness.Thank you, Tom, for setting back women's health 100 years.If you ever get testicular cancer, I'll send some vitamin C right over.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good information; well written
I applaude Brooke for writing this book because thousands of women suffer just as she did.They need to know they are not alone, and that they will get well with treatment.

A common misconception is postpartum depression is a "natural result" of birth.Not so!It is a deadly serious illness but is also very treatable.I lost my daughter to PPD 5 years ago and have spent my life since losing her trying to educate the public with accurate PPD facts so that others don't die unnecessarily.For the most part, Brooke's book has done a good job of giving good information.

Anyone who confuses postpartum depression with baby blues or just being a little down after childbirth is deadly wrong.And anyone who condemns a woman for symptoms over which she has no control is grossly ignorant. (...)

Helena Bradford
The Ruth Rhoden Craven Foundation for Postpartum Depression Awareness.

5-0 out of 5 stars Black and White Words With Power
There have been a few other books written about this same topic but none so shocking in black and white words.Many of us feel like Brooke has described but have never really connected to the words as much as the feelings.It took bravery and love to come out in the open to help moms like myself and like Brooke.Thank you ever so much.Even though our kids are now older, 2 and 4, this is the first one I've read that I have asked my husband to read too. Also suggested:Mommy CEO, a book which also helps moms feel important, loved and provides simple help with kids.Thank God for both authors! ... Read more


176. Thomas Jefferson : Author of America (Eminent Lives)
by Christopher Hitchens
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060598964
Catlog: Book (2005-06-01)
Publisher: Eminent Lives
Sales Rank: 346686
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177. Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse
by PhyllisDiller, Richard Buskin
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1585423963
Catlog: Book (2005-02-17)
Publisher: Tarcher
Sales Rank: 12478
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

From housewife to humorist, Phyllis Diller has been making millions laugh for five decades with her groundbreaking comedy. Now the laughter continues with her uproarious autobiography.

Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse recounts the story of how, against all odds, Phyllis Diller became America's first successful and best-loved female stand-up comic. She began her professional career at age thirty-seven, in spite of the fact that she was a housewife, mother of five, and working at a radio station due to her husband's chronic unemployment.Now, fifty years later, after two traumatic marriages; extensive cosmetic surgery; numerous film, television, and stage appearances; and separate careers as an artist and piano soloist with symphony orchestras, Phyllis Diller finally tells her story.

With her trademark laugh, incredible wit, and self-deprecating humor, Phyllis Diller has etched her way into comedic history. And while her wild hair and outrageous clothes may make her look "like a lampshade in a whorehouse," her strength, self-belief, perseverance, and raucous sense of humor are what make her truly unforgettable.
... Read more

Reviews (6)

4-0 out of 5 stars Having the last laugh?
If living well is the best revenge, then it is hard to appreciate why Phyllis Diller spends a good portion of her latest autobiography settling scores with dozens of minor people whose names would have completely faded from history if not for her memoirs.

But then, for a woman who made a comedic career out of catastrophes and disappointments, perhaps this is her way of having the last laugh. Unfortunately, these bitter remembrances just aren't funny and mar an otherwise delightful book. Instead the story is jagged and a little too hard-edged and earns a solid three stars.

Penguin, however, has produced a beautiful book for Ms. Diller with a stunning bright orange cover with raised printing while the book underneath features a three-piece case binding with foil stamping. Even the ivory-colored paper inside is high-quality stuff. And I couldn't find one typo. The presentation reflects Penguin's star-quality regard for Diller giving this book an overall four-star rating.

When Diller focuses on her successes by highlighting colleagues (like Bob Hope) or good timing (like breaking in at a time when no other female comics offered serious competition) or techniques (like ending punch lines with consonants to emphasize the mock hostility), the book really entertains. But the story just isn't worth the hardcover admission price and I would recommend waiting for and buying the paperback version of Diller's story.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Terrific Bio"
"LIKE A LAMPSHADE IN A WHOREHOUSE, from the "QUEEN" of comedy is such a fun book.I both laughed and teared-up a bit (at times), while reading.

I have always admired the fun spirit of this "funny lady."It is nice to finally get to know more about her on a "real-life" level.For example...I Had No Idea She Had Six Children!That in itself is impressive.

Many years ago I met Phyllis Diller in person at the 'Beverely Hills Supper Club," in Kentucky.I found her to be both funny and charming (at the time), and after reading this book, I'm happy to learn she is a lot more than that.

I really enjoyed this book and know that any person who enjoys reading this fact-filled genre will love it to.

"LIKE A LAMPSHADE IN A WHOREHOUSE," by Phyllis Diller, is a "must read."Add it to your Amazon.com list of books to order.You will be glad you did.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected
Being the funny person Phyllis Diller is, I expected something different than the tone of this book.Miss Diller comes across as bitter and resentful towards the men in her life.I understand that this was with cause, but it has been many years now and she seems to be carrying a lot of unforgiveness and resentment around.Being that she is a lover of "The Magic of Believing" by Claude Bristol, I guess I expected a more positive view. She seems to be proud of her atheism.What makes her so sure there is no deity?What force did she tap into with belief to change her life?

She also told me far more than I needed to know about her sex life with her first husband, Sherwood Diller, "banging away at her with no thought of how to ****" to second husband Warde Donovan's trysts with a chauffeur "coming home with the smell of semen on his breath."Then she writes "I had my share of one-night stands."Point is, I really didn't need to know all of that.She also spent an inordinate amount of time complaining about her first husband's mental illness.If he was truly mentally ill, it was cruel of her to write as she did. Going on and on about her in-laws got to be a bit boring too.This could have been a better book.

5-0 out of 5 stars WHATTA BOOK; WHATTA PERSON
It is so interesting to read about a multi talented person who is supremely successful where they reveal the downside parts of their life and wonder why they did what they did...but they did it.Like Phyllis Diller, I read a most wonderful book "The Magic of Believing" by Claude Bristol when I was in my early 20's that did change my life, but not to the extent that she transformed herself because of that book.Many miserable things happened to her traveling through her life journey, but she was always optimistic and overcame the adversities.This book has funny parts, however, it is really an autobiography and details the life of the author.A marvelous read and a story that should get more than 5 stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars She's terrific
I am in my early sixties so I can remember when Phyllis Diller was appearing on all the variety shows. She was hysterical. But as this book shows she is also a hardworking, warm BRAVE woman with great spirit. She had 6 kids!!!! Who knew? She tells a great story for women and is so funny. Enjoyable. ... Read more


178. E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation
by David Bodanis
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0425181642
Catlog: Book (2001-10-09)
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Sales Rank: 20317
Average Customer Review: 4.19 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Already climbing the bestseller lists-and garnering rave reviews-this "little masterpiece"* sheds brilliant light on the equation that changed the world.

"This is not a physics book. It is a history of where the equation [E=mc2] came from and how it has changed the world. After a short chapter on the equation's birth, Bodanis presents its five symbolic ancestors in sequence, each with its own chapter and each with rich human stories of achievement and failure, encouragement and duplicity, love and rivalry, politics and revenge. Readers meet not only famous scientists at their best and worst but also such famous and infamous characters as Voltaire and Marat...Bodanis includes detailed, lively andfascinating back matter...His acknowledgements end, 'I loved writing this book.' It shows." (The Cleveland Plain Dealer)

"E=mc2, focusing on the 1905 theory of special relativity, is just what itssubtitle says it is: a biography of the world's most famous equation, and it succeeds beautifully. For the first time, I really feel that I understand the meaning and implications of that equation, as Bodanis takes us through each symbol separately, including the = sign...there is a great 'aha!' awaiting the lay reader." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"'The equation that changed everything' is familiar to even the most physics-challenged, but it remains a fuzzy abstraction to most. Science writer Bodanis makes it a lot more clear." (Discover)

"Excellent...With wit and style, he explains every factor in the world's most famous and least understood equation....Every page is rich with surprising anecdotes about everything from Einstein's youth to the behind-the-scenes workings of the Roosevelt administration. Here's a prediction: E=mc2 is one of those odd, original, and handsomely written books that will prove more popular than even its publisher suspects." (Nashville Scene)

"You'll learn more in these 300 pages about folks like Faraday, Lavoisier, Davy and Rutherford than you will in many a science course...a clearly written, astonishingly understandable book that celebrates human achievement and provides some idea of the underlying scientific orderliness and logic that guides the stars and rules the universe."(Parade )

"Bodanis truly has a gift for bringing his subject matter to life." (Library Journal [starred review] )

"Entertaining...With anecdotes and illustrations, Bodanis effectively opens up E=mc2 to the widest audience." (Booklist )

"Accessible...he seeks, and deserves, many readers who know no physics. They'll learn a handful-more important, they'll enjoy it, and pick up a load of biographical and cultural curios along the way." (Publishers Weekly)

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Reviews (75)

3-0 out of 5 stars Science is great, history is not
I would give him five stars for his comprehensible explanation of the physics and the time he spent thinking of metaphors for the equation that make its effects understandable. However, his portraits of figures like Oppenheimer and Heisenberg are way off--extreme readings of uncited evidence that is frankly in conflict with both the historical record and the way that contemporary historians interpret it. Heisenberg was NOT a convinced Nazi--he was a German nationalist. There's a difference. Oppenheimer's personality problems were not at the basis of his later exclusion from further government nuclear research--his communist sympathies were the reason. Bodanis makes Teller sound like a crazy and not like the venerable scientist he was. What's sad about all of these misportraits is that they cast doubt on things I want to believe, about Lise Meitner and Celia Payne, for example. Read with care, and compare to a real book about the Manhattan Project (like Richard Rhodes' "Making of the Atomic Bomb") before you swallow this picture whole. For a much more balanced picture of some of the personalities involved that includes a readable account of the science, check out Freeman Dyson's "Disturbing the Universe."

4-0 out of 5 stars A bumpy ride through Relativity
This is a mildly eccentric book on Relativity. David Bodanis claims at the start that he won't be talking about physics and Einstein --- he's just going to tell you about The Famous Equation. But once he's done with the first chapter, which goes through the basic principles of the equation step-by-step, he gets into physics and Einstein. He loses his focus quickly, but he's always entertaining.

Bodanis loves colorful anecdotes about physicists, the art of discovery, contributions by neglected scientists (primarily women), and the prospect of the Nazis building an atomic bomb. It's this last topic that weakens the book. Frankly, the Nazis never came close to building an atomic bomb. Yes, they would have had a Fat Man or a Little Boy if they built reactors and had heavy water and understood the physics and had a team of scientists working on it and they tested it. But they didn't have any of it. "Might have" doesn't cut it.

The second half of this book is made up of biographies of scientists and extensive footnotes. Bodanis makes good use of the notes, giving you plenty of sources and a lot of additional information. His personal interests are on full display here, as he mentions whatever concept or story that the footnoted information triggers in his mind. It's fun to read, although it does tend to wander.

I recommend this book to anyone who's read a little bit about Relativity. It's a useful refresher, an eccentric view of the topic that will keep your interest. If you've never read about Relativity, try Gribbin and White's biography of Einstein first --- or, better yet, Richard Wolfson's book on Relativity (which is still the best).

5-0 out of 5 stars Reading this book requires E.
The simple equation having only 5 symbols is deep in meaning. It took the genious of Einstein to put the equation together way back in 1905 - - - What E found was: Energy equals mass when you accelerate mass to the speed of light squared. That's 670,000,000 mph times itself.
C stands for 'celeritis' in latin and it means, 'swiftness.' C squared is 448,900,000,000,000,000 mph!
No speedometer exists on Earth that can travel that fast! WOW!
Einstein knew that energy could naturally transform itself into mass under specific and unique condtions.
The equation was published in 1905 and essentially remained dormant and untested until the war.
Then it became a horrifying reality that Einstein himself wished he never uncovered all those years ago.
Other scientists converged their great minds together in a think tank called the Manhatten Projet, and the world changed for the worse --- upon their nuclear discoveries.
Did Fat Boy really need to do what he did?
NEVER! THe controversy broils to this day.
It is so strange to contemplate that in the pool of the most intelligent men on Earth, not a one of them was smart enough to forsee the evil that they created.
Like the saying goes, "You can lead a man to wisdom, but you can't make him think."
None of them thought about what this nuclear power could do when left in terrorist grips.
This book tells the story behind the famous little equation.
Einstein did play a part in developing nuclear arsonel, even though he later denied he encouraged it.
Please see his letter to President FDR on pages 117 - 18.
The reader is left to draw thier own conclusions on that.
Regardless of the controversy, I read this book and must give it my highest recommendations to all who ever wondered what this equation means. It's deep but not complex.
It's complex but not inaccessable by average minds.
What's really chilling is reading what is not said in between the lines of this book.
Could we have avoided the discovery of the Atomic bomb?
Imagine our world without it.....and to think, the Germans weren't all that close to uncovering the secret behind the destruction.
This is a good book about E = mc 2.
Read it and learn that all discoveries have a dark side.

4-0 out of 5 stars meandering history of relativity
In this slim and easy-to-read volume, David Bodanis gives us a meandering history of relativity. First, he looks at each of the individual pieces of the equation (even the equals sign gets its own chapter). Then, he builds up a discussion of other relevant work that led to Einstein's famous equation. He next discusses its applications. The book closes with an immense amount of back matter, including the footnotes and suggested further reading on the topic.

This book is not for physics students who are already intimately familiar with the requisite mathematics and physics. It is intended for a general audience that probably can't remember calculus (or was never introduced to it in the first place). Bodanis engages in a bit of handwaving to make the more difficult parts easier to accept; in general, he acknowledges this. I can't fault him for this decision, although the mathematician in me occasionally found it a bit frustrating.

Make sure that you read the footnotes! It's not necessary to flip back and forth between the main text and the footnotes, but at least read them when you've reached the end of the chapter. Scan past the ones that are simply listing the source material, and read the ones that are longer. There's a lot of great information to be found in those footnotes that doesn't quite fit into the main text. Some of it tells you a bit about what was going through the author's mind when he wrote his book, other material elaborates on what is in the book.

Also, read through the list of suggested readings. It's like getting book recommendations from a well-read friend. The suggestions are thorough, insightful, and often entertaining.

5-0 out of 5 stars Transforming human mass into energy for good
It is easy to think of technology in the context of hard science and with the intellect. Bodanis gives lay readers an appropriate level of insight about how math and science evolved through several hundred years to propel our species toward the elegant equation that changed the world. This historical journey enlivens many forgotten but critical thinkers who made it possible for a restive patent clerk to make the essential creative leap into the intellectual unknown. But this book accomplishes something else, even greater. The author's brilliant chapter describing in micro-second details the detonation of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima creates a powerful, sobering perspective of this fearsome technology and dispassionately reminds all of us of the threats looming. The author uses his beloved science to bring into searing perspective the human face of thermonuclear war. The power to manipulate the atom has the capacity for good in medicine and other human advancements, but it is also a power capable of planetary destruction. It is wise for lay readers to understand E=MC2 beyond science. Our survival is at stake. ... Read more


179. Who She Was : My Search for My Mother's Life
by Samuel G. Freedman
list price: $24.00
our price: $16.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743227352
Catlog: Book (2005-04-01)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 14749
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

When Samuel G. Freedman was nearing fifty, the same age at which his mother died of breast cancer, he realized that he did not know who she was. Of course, he knew that Eleanor had been his mother, a mother he kept at an emotional distance both in life and after death. He had never thought about the entire life she lived before him, a life of her own dreams and disappointments. And now, that ignorance haunted him.

So Freedman set out to discover the past, and Who She Was is the story of what he found. It is the story of a young woman's ambitions and yearnings, of the struggles of her impoverished immigrant parents, and of the ravages of the Great Depression, World War II, and the Holocaust.

It is also the story of a middle-aged son wracked with regret over the disregard he had shown as a teenage boy for a terminally ill mother, and as an adult incapable for decades of visiting her grave. It is the story of how he healed that wound by asking all the questions he had not asked when his mother was alive.

Whom did she love? Who broke her heart? What lifted her spirits? What crushed her hopes? What did she long to become? And did she get to become that woman in her brief time on earth?

Who She Was brings a compassionate yet unflinching eye to the American Jewish experience. It recaptures the working-class borough of the Bronx with its tenements and pushcarts, its union halls and storefront synagogues and rooftop-tar beaches. It remembers a time when husbands searched hundreds of miles for steady work and wives sent packages and prayers to their European relatives in the desperate hope they might survive the Nazis. In such a world, Eleanor Hatkin came of age, striving for education, for love, for a way out.

Researched as a history, written like a novel, Who She Was stands in the tradition of such classics as Call It Sleep and The Assistant. In bringing to life his mother, Samuel G. Freedman has given all readers a memorable heroine. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars When we reach the age when our first parent died ....
When we reach the age when our first parent died we have to come to a kind of realization that they didn't have any more than we're already had. Somewhere about then many of us start to reflect a bit on the life that that parent lived.

In my case it was a father who lived very poor in rural Arkansas.His father ... well this is not my family's story. It was later that I realized what he had gone through working in the hot Louisiana sun to give me a couple of college degrees.

I wish that I had the way with words Mr. Freedman has to put down the story of his mother's life. Indeed I'd like to have even researched my father's life as extensively as he has his mothers.

It was certainly a different life in the East Bronx than it was in the Arkansas Ozarks. I don't think better, or worse, just different. Mr. Freedman's grandmother had a major and not necessarily beneficial impact on his mother's life. My father's mother had died when he was six (childbirth).

Mr. Freedman has taken this story beyond just the story of one lady, it's a tale of the life of new immigrants living the Depression Era American Jewish experience. It's a good tribute to Eleanor Freeman. It's also a good tribute to Samuel Freedman.

He, like I, think of the casual cruelty we caused our parents. We'd like to go back and fix a few things, say a few things. But we can't. Instead, we smile and think of the things our kids have done, and we don't mind.

Mr. Freedman, your mother is, I think, looking down on you with pride, as I think my father is with me -- even though we know we don't deserve it. ... Read more


180. Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America and American in Iran
by Azadeh Moaveni
list price: $25.00
our price: $10.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1586481932
Catlog: Book (2005-03-01)
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Sales Rank: 4801
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A young Iranian-American journalist returns to Tehran and discovers not only the oppressive and decadent life of her Iranian counterparts who have grown up since the revolution, but the pain of searching for a homeland that may not exist.

As far back as she can remember, Azadeh Moaveni has felt at odds with her tangled identity as an Iranian-American. In suburban America, Azadeh lived in two worlds. At home, she was the daughter of the Iranian exile community, serving tea, clinging to tradition, and dreaming of Tehran. Outside, she was a California girl who practiced yoga and listened to Madonna. For years, she ignored the tense stand off between her two cultures. But college magnified the clash between Iran and America, and after graduating, she moved to Iran as a journalist. This is the story of her search for identity, between two cultures cleaved apart by a violent history. It is also the story of Iran, a restive land lost in the twilight of its revolution.

Moaveni's homecoming falls in the heady days of the country's reform movement, when young people demonstrated in the streets and shouted for the Islamic regime to end. In these tumultuous times, she struggles to build a life in a dark country, wholly unlike the luminous, saffron and turquoise-tinted Iran of her imagination. As she leads us through the drug-soaked, underground parties of Tehran, into the hedonistic lives of young people desperate for change, Moaveni paints a rare portrait of Iran's rebellious next generation. The landscape of her Tehran-ski slopes, fashion shows, malls and cafes-is populated by a cast of young people whose exuberance and despair brings the modern reality of Iran to vivid life. ... Read more

Reviews (18)

4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but a little flawed
Very interesting look at everyday life in Iran, pre-"axis of evil."I especially enjoyed her chapter on the veil and the effect it had upon women in Iran.Very incisive analysis of American vs. Iranian ideals & values.I wish that she had discussed gender relations more; she was most interested in politics, reform, the revolution.
Problem: Moaveni comes from a wealthy, secular family.This has apparently rendered her incapable of understanding how a person can truly believe in a religion, how a person's religion can profoundly and meaningfully affect a person's worldview.She portrays Iran as a country in the grips of a very few fundamentalist clerics, populated by closet secularists just waiting for their chance to shed pesky Islam.This I highly doubt.I noticed this same problem with religion in Carl Sagan's "Contact."He tried to write a religious character, the preacher Palmer Joss, who was totally flat and unconvincing.I feel this is because Sagan did not really believe that a person could be intelligent and religious.Moaveni has a similar issue.She cannot fathom that people would actually *believe* in Islam, would truly believe that Mohammed is a prophet.In Iran, she hangs out with journalists and corrupt clerics who shed their veils and grab beers as soon as they are out of the country.Perhaps if she had done something really brave, like mingle with the middle class, she would have found people devoted to Islam yet still unhappy with the anarchy of the country.People who view the veil as something other than repressive and the cause of constant bad hair days.
Now, I am just joshing when I mock Moaveni's bravery.Some of her experiences are horrifying.I have great respect for someone who voluntarily moves from California to a third-world country to confront head-on her questions about her ethnicity and cultural history.I just think she is young and doesn't even realize she has this religion perception issue.Another reviewer said she is wise beyond her years, and that makes me laugh out loud.No, sorry, she is not.Someone is confusing intelligence with maturity.Silly, silly.She is very intelligent.Her analysis is often razor-sharp and insightful.Is she mature?Not particularly.She tattles to her daddy when an auntie is mean, she hangs out with her teenaged cousin because adult Iranian women are "mean" to her.
Also, towards the end of the book Moaveni complains bitterly about casual American prejudice against Islam.Which, by the way, she doesn't even believe in.This I found incredibly hard to stomach, because earlier in the book she portrays Mormon women as cultish.She asks in the last chapter, anguish in her words, (paraphrasing) What other religion can you slander so completely and get away with it?The answer, Miss Moaveni, is apparently Mormonism.I might take you a little more seriously if you shed the religious hypocrisy.
I know I've ragged on this book a lot, and yet still given it four stars.I did really enjoy the book and highly recommend it.It made me think about things from a new perspective, especially America's actions in the Middle East, and I love being made to do that.

2-0 out of 5 stars Same Old Story
Although this book is slightly superior to that of Afschineh Latifi (Miss "Persian Privileged Princess" herself!)'s book of the same genre ("After all this time:A story of..."), it is still of the same kind of bleeding heart memoir books of recent publication by Iranian so called women authors which have been sprouting like mushrooms (fungi live in the dark).This book also, like others of its kind, lacks depth, and is totally void of any vision of history:a superficial "Remember When" story at best.
Iran needs concrete action towards Democracy right now, not reminiscence and lamentation for a fun-filled, decadent life style that only "Persian Marie Antoinettes" led back under the Shah.
(Read my review of Latifi's book here on Amazon for more).

5-0 out of 5 stars Hands-down the most beautiful book I've EVER read.
I cannot praise this book enough. The book's stated objective is to portray the life of a Middle Easterner growing up in America, and then attempting to integrate themselves back into the society of their home country. In my opinion, she does both rather well, although the latter is lacking only because she does not embrace what constitutes as the current Iranian culture, and thus does not attempt to integrate herself with it. The former objective is unbelievably well done, and as I've stated before, the book offers the portrait of a girl of Middle Eastern descent growing up in a culture vastly different from what she knows. Readers everywhere are lucky that its author is such a gifted writer.

My own back round is one very similar to Azadeh's. My parent's are from Israel, having migrated to America when they had an arranged marriage. Unlike Azadeh, I was actually born here in America, though I have also lived in Israel for extended periods of time, and having been a girl who attempted to integrate herself in with a seemingly foreign culture, I can really relate to Azadeh's experiences, especially her experience as an Iranian in America. I too tried to erase my "Arabness" from my life as a young girl, from the awkwardness of your friends hearing the weird language your mother speaks at home, to the funny smells that emanated from your kitchen (standardly the fruitions of my mother's laborious hours in the kitchen). And like Azadeh, I too have learned to embrace my distinction as I got older.

The strongest point in the book was most definitely the author's writing style. Reading Azadeh's own personal tale of her life in Iran has inspired me to travel there at some point, as well. I've been a huge reader since I was a little girl, and this is hands -down the most beautiful book I have EVER read, and I cannot emphasize that enough. I seriously cannot praise such a work of art enough. I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone, as I feel that it deals with some particularly important topics for being able to truly understand the perspectives of a Middle Easterner, especially one in America.

5-0 out of 5 stars memories of home & madness
Rebeccasreads highly recommends LIPSTICK JIHAD as a deeply disturbing, astonishingly enlightening & unflinching look into a world in upheaval, when a young journalist returns to Iran, the land of her birth, and falls headlong into a revolution where the young people explore drugs & hedonism under an oppressive Islamic regime, often with tragic results.

The old saying: "you can never go home" is fully realized as this American Iranian struggles with her dreams, memories & illusions in a very different world, where a free, modern American woman clashes with the violence of a moralistic, past-obsessed male-dominated society.

Outstanding!

5-0 out of 5 stars Poignant narrative !
The author has an excellent command of English; further, she is a gifted writer. This book is far superior to SAFFRON SKY by Gelareh Asayesh and TO SEE AND SEE AGAIN by Tara Bahrampour.Ms. Moaveni is a trained journalist unlike these other two authors. A glossary of Persian terms and personalitiescited in the book would have aided the reader.The book would have benefited from an index.Perhaps, in a future book the author could visit the Iranian Shahrestan.She did cite a trip to Kermanshah on p. 72 placing it in 'a Kurdish province of northwestern Tehran'.Tehran should be replaced by Iran.This is the only error that I could find in the book. ... Read more


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