Global Shopping Center
UK | Germany
Home - Books - Biographies & Memoirs - Audiobooks - Historical Help

1-20 of 200       1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   Next 20

click price to see details     click image to enlarge     click link to go to the store

$48.48 list($76.95)
1. American Sphinx: The Character
$47.96 $34.89 list($59.95)
2. Alexander Hamilton
$23.95 $7.00
3. Theodore Roosevelt: The 26th President
$34.00 $17.88 list($50.00)
4. Angela's Ashes (AUDIO CASSETTE)
$24.00 $1.39
5. Arcanum : The Extraordinary True
$29.95 $17.95 list($34.95)
6. America's Queen: The Life of Jacqueline
$17.16 $14.75 list($26.00)
7. Benjamin Franklin : An American
$22.41 $20.97 list($32.95)
8. A Great Improvisation : Franklin,
$27.00 $0.55
9. John Glenn: A Memoir
$23.10 $12.50 list($35.00)
10. John Adams
$3.91 list($24.00)
11. Bound By Honor
$5.50 list($24.00)
12. Rocket Boys : A Memoir
$18.00 list($29.95)
13. Professor and The Madman, The
$17.16 $9.95 list($26.00)
14. Truman
$17.68 $9.99 list($26.00)
15. Living History
$16.35 $15.89 list($25.95)
16. Founding Mothers : The Women Who
$32.97 $29.80 list($49.95)
17. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle
$16.97 $16.41 list($24.95)
18. Night
$26.37 $14.57 list($39.95)
19. Galileo's Daughter : A Historical
list($16.95)
20. Testament of Youth (Penguin Twentieth

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

Book Description

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

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

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

Reviews (88)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Book Description

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

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

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

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

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

Reviews (51)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Book Description

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

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

Reviews (8)

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

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

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

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

5-0 out of 5 stars Bully Moose
ully Moose

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

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

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

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


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

Book Description

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

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

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

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

Reviews (1623)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5-0 out of 5 stars ANGELA'S ASHES
THIS BOOK LEFT SUCH A MEMORABLE IMPRESSION ON ME. IT HELPS ME TO UNDERSTAND HOW SOME PEOPLE IN AMERICA, DURING THE DEPRESSION YEARS, MUST HAVE LIVED. THE WAY THE STORY IS WRITTEN MAKES YOU FEEL AS IF YOU ENDURED SOME OF THE UNFORTUNATE CIRCUMSTANCES FELT BY THE WRITER. HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO REMEMBER THIS STORY IN TIMES WHEN THE SIMPLICITY AND BASIC JOYS IN LIFE ARE OFTEN OVERLOOKED.

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

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


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

Reviews (23)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Book Description

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

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

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

Reviews (27)

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

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

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

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

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


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

Book Description

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

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

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

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

Reviews (98)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


8. A Great Improvisation : Franklin, France, and the Birth of America
by STACY SCHIFF
list price: $32.95
our price: $22.41
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0739320378
Catlog: Book (2005-03-22)
Publisher: Random House Audio
Sales Rank: 490363
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Amazon.com

Benjamin Franklin began the "the most taxing assignment of his life" at the age of 70: to secure the aid of the French monarchy in helping the fledgling United States establish their republic. The job required tremendous skill, finesse, and discretion, and as Stacy Schiff makes clear in this brilliant book, Franklin was the ideal American, perhaps the only one, to take on the task, due in large part to his considerable personal prestige. One of the most famous men in the world when he landed in France in December 1776, his arrival caused a sensation--he was celebrated as a man of genius, a successor to Newton and Galileo, and treated as a great dignitary, even though the nation he represented was less than a year old and there were many doubts as to whether it would see its second birthday. Though he had no formal diplomatic training and spoke only rudimentary French, Franklin managed to engineer the Franco-American alliance of 1778 and the peace treaty of 1783, effectively inventing American foreign policy as he went along, in addition to serving as chief diplomat, banker, and director of American naval affairs.

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

Reviews (5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


9. John Glenn: A Memoir
list price: $27.00
our price: $27.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553526642
Catlog: Book
Publisher: Random House Audio
Sales Rank: 904069
Average Customer Review: 4.24 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

He was the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth. Nearly four decades later, as the world's oldest astronaut, his courage riveted a nation. But these two historic events only bracket a life that covers the sweep of an extraordinary century. In this engrossing book, John Glenn tells the story of his unique life--one lived at the center of a momentous time in history by a man who helped shape that history.

He is the kind of hero who resists being called a hero. And yet his exploits in the service of his country, his dedication to family and friends, and his rock-ribbed traditional values have made this small-town boy from the Midwest a true American icon.

John Glenn's autobiography spans the seminal events of the twentieth century. It is a story that begins with his childhood in New Concord, Ohio, in the aftermath of World War I. It was there that he learned the importance of family, community, and patriotism. Glenn saw firsthand the ravages of the Depression and learned that determination, hard work, and teamwork could overcome any adversity. These were the values he carried with him as a Marine fighter pilot during World War II and into the skies over Korea, for which he would be decorated for his courage, dedication, and sacrifice. Glenn flew missions with men he would never forget, from baseball great Ted Williams to little-known heroes who would never return to their families. Always a gifted flier, it was during the war that he contemplated the unlimited possibilities of aviation and its next frontiers: speed and space.

John Glenn takes us into the cockpits of the experimental planes and spacecraft he flew to experience the pulse-pounding excitement of the early days of jet aviation, including his record-setting transcontinental flight in an F8U Crusader in 1957, and then on to his selection for the Project Mercury program in 1959. We see the early days of NASA, where he first served as a backup pilot for astronauts Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom and helped refine some of the initial cockpit and control designs for the Apollo program. In 1962 Glenn piloted the Mercury-Atlas 6 Friendship 7 spacecraft on the first manned orbital mission of the United States. Then came several years in international business, followed by a twenty-four-year career as a U.S. senator--and in 1998 a return to space for his remarkable Discovery mission at the age of seventy-seven.

This extraordinary book captures the unique alchemy that brings a man to the forefront of his time. Married to a woman he first met when they were both toddlers, known for his integrity, common sense, and leadership in the Senate, John Glenn tells a story that we must hear. For this narrative of steadfastness, devotion, courage, and honor is both a great adventure tale and a source of powerful inspiration for an age that needs John Glenn's values more than ever before.
... Read more

Reviews (34)

3-0 out of 5 stars Delightful biography, but short on space hardware
John Glenn became the first American in orbit when he circled the Earth three times aboard Friendship 7. The most senior of the original Mercury astronauts, he was trumpeted as a hero upon return, but left the space program shortly thereafter because NASA wouldn't give their famous spokesman a second, potentially disastrous flight. Not until almost thirty years later, that is, when Senator Glenn returned to space at the age of 77, amidst a roar of publicity that rivalled his first mission. In the meantime, he had embarked upon a political career that included a shot at the presidency. A rather distinct biography.

In "John Glenn: A Memoir", the Marine turned Astronaut turned Politician shares with the world his life story, which spans the better part of a century and saw aviation progress from biplanes to the Space Shuttle. Yet this is a deliberate and slow-moving book, written in earnest and matter-of-fact prose. It progresses in strictly chronological order, spends a great amount of nostalgic detail on Glenn's childhood - including mother's cooking and playpen stories -, then moves on to the Marine days flying planes in World War II and Korea, then to his test pilot career. Always one step at a time, one little story after the other.

The results are a mixed bag: while the drama-oriented readers will call it outright dull, others might find the leisurely pace quite immersive and captivating. At the least, it is refreshing to read an astronaut biography that does not suffer from tunnel vision. The space program is not as much as mentioned until about half-time, and even recounting his NASA days, Glenn focuses on the big picture - the political and ideological implications of the space race - rather than technical detail. While the accounts of his actual Mercury and Shuttle flights are vivid and gripping, on the whole there is nothing about the space program that could not be found in most other, specialised books. Not surprising, given that Glenn's astronaut career was illustrious but brief, and something that the die-hard space buffs should consider.

The part between Glenn's flights focuses on his political career, his friendship with the Kennedys, and law making as an Ohio Senator. There is more talk about his loved wife and family, and more emphasis on duty, country, values. In truth, it must be said that the only things arguably more all-American than John Glenn are baseball and apple pie; he constantly reflects on his beliefs and guidelines, and never seems to waver in his uncomplicated optimism and patriotism. More remarkably, it all seems genuine, too: no image polishing, that's just the way he is. Indeed, Glenn colours his omnipresent love of America with plenty of humour and palpable feeling, and comes across not as preachy, but entirely likeable.

The concept of such an awfully nice moralist seems strange in today's cynical times, and this is perhaps the most telling point of all: the text seems like a document from a different age. Like the photographs that come with it, showing Glenn's wedding ceremony in uniform, or piloting Corsairs in World War II, this tale is something out of our reach, something delightfully dated. And "John Glenn: A Memoir" sure is a delightful book. Readers looking for a remarkably rich and varied life story can hardly make a better choice. Space enthusiasts lusting for nuts and bolts might want to think twice.

5-0 out of 5 stars A thrilling, exhiliarating autobiography
Marine Colonel John H. Glenn, Jr., was selected as one of the original seven Mercury astronauts in 1959, and made his historic orbital flight aboard Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962. But as this book reminds us, Glenn was involved in many other grand events in our nation's history. He was a fighter pilot in the Marines during World War II and Korea in the 1940's and 1950's, he served in the Senate for four terms in Ohio, and finally, in the fall of 1998, he made a historic return to orbit aboard the space shuttle Discovery. This book captures the details of those events, sweeping the lifetime of this small town boy from the midwest, a true American icon. I thought it was very thrilling, and was interested in hearing of his accounts of his spaceflights , Senate career, and combat flights in the wars. Others have said it was boring because Glenn has almost never faced adversity in his life, but I thought it was entertaining nontheless. His accounts of the Friendship 7 and Discovery missions are nearly minute-by minute, very detailed, and I thought it was very well done.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Story of a Perfect Life?
Based on this book John Glenn never got out of line, never got in any serious trouble or caused anyone else to get into trouble, had a perfect wife and family who always supported him 100%, even if it meant his being away from home for long periods of time. He even goes to the extreme of discounting a story about his concern over his height exceeding the max requirement for space travel. I found many parts of this book enjoyable, but left feeling I had only been reading a whitewashed version purified for mass consumption. On slight hint at the "real" John Glenn may be revealed in his writing a letter to NASA in an effort to overturn the decision to have Alan Shepard and Guss Grissom fly in space before him. This book left me with many more questions about the real man. Showing more of his human, occassionally risking and failing side would have added much to my enjoyment. Unfortunately this was missing.

4-0 out of 5 stars Critical Reflections
There have been many assessments of John Glenn since February 1962, but perhaps none so critically important as those he has made in his Memoir's. All of us have fallen short of fully living our values and maintaining our ethical standards as we move through a life filled with temptations; we are but mortal. While Glenn is certainly an American hero of the highest caliber, and one of my favorites, his shortcomings remain a puzzle to me. The paradox of John Glenn is found in the staunch moralistic tone of his life before his Senate career, and his stance after taking that oath of office.

His criticism of the moral behavior of his fellow Mercury astronauts in 1960 is in stark contrast of his support for a president who was equally as guilty some 40 years later. His support for a political agenda that represents a normalization of deviancy leaves me wondering if his professed Christianity is truly a "born again" commitment or simply cultural attribute that can be influenced by power.

Glenn agonizes over his "guilt by association" in the Keating affair and presents a rather weak defense. He states that one of his reasons for entering politics was to prove that good men can survive and triumph in an atmosphere where power corrupts. Yet he leaves himself open on several occasions to simply reinforce the notion.

Glenn reviews his life in a manner that I found interesting and informative. As an avid space historian, he filled in a few areas of his life and the early manned space program that were unknown to me. Of interest too, are the occasional factual errors that have crept into the book, perhaps because much of the final composition was probably done by his co-author, Nick Taylor (who, overall, did a great job). Gordon Cooper's flight did not terminate early because "his spacecraft lost orbital velocity" but went the full 22 orbits. And, Gus Grissom was not "the first person to fly in space three times". He would have been had he not been killed in the Apollo fire. That privilege belongs to Wally Schirra who was the only astronaut to fly Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo.

John Glenn accomplished more in his three careers (Marine, Astronaut, Senator) than most of us will do in any one lifetime. We pray that his legacy will truly be greater than three Migs, 137 orbits and 9,414 senate votes.

3-0 out of 5 stars Fireflies in space
John Glenn is a space pioneer and knows first hand that there is a "lot more water than land on earth". You feel his honesty in his writing, his no-nonsense approach to every day of his life. And then at age 70 he goes out into space again. Flying "Friendship 7" around in space is the climax of his life for this "down-to-earth" man. The forceful fist of destiny came down on Glenn in the form of his image, the mirror, which knocked him out of politics; he thought he dropped out, but he was dropped out until after Watergate when the Senate calls him. Up to date nobody seems to know: what were the "fireflies" in the night of space surrounding "Friendship". There is this mystery in the otherwise "nuts-and-bolts" story of John Glenn. ... Read more


10. John Adams
by David McCullough
list price: $35.00
our price: $23.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743504739
Catlog: Book (2001-05-01)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Sales Rank: 62263
Average Customer Review: 4.62 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

In this powerful, epic biography, David McCullough unfolds the adventurous life-journey of John Adams, the brilliant, fiercely independent, often irascible, always honest Yankee patriot who spared nothing in his zeal for the American Revolution; who thought, wrote, and spoke out for the "Great Cause" come what might, who traveled far and wide in all seasons and often at extreme risk; who rose to become the second President of the United States and saved the country from blundering into an unnecessary war; who was rightly celebrated for his integrity, and regarded by some as "out of his senses"; and whose marriage to the wise and valiant Abigail Adams is one of the moving love stories in American history.

Much about John Adam's life will come as a surprise to many. His rocky relationship with friend and eventual archrival Thomas Jefferson, his courageous voyage on the frigate Boston in the winter of 1778 and his later trek over the Pyrenees are exploits few would have dared and that few listeners will ever forget.

Like his masterful, Pulitzer Prize-winning biography Truman, David McCullough's John Adams has the sweep and vitality of a great novel. This is history on a grand scale -- an audiobook about politics and war and social issues, but also about human nature, love, religious faith, virtue, ambition, friendship and betrayal, and the far-reaching consequences of noble ideas. Above all, it is an enthralling, often surprising story of one of the most important and fascinating Americans who ever lived. ... Read more

Reviews (536)

5-0 out of 5 stars A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS
Using many sources, but basically drawing on the extensive collection of the Adams Papers housed in the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston, David McCullough has written a fascinating biography of John Adams. Unlike conventional biographies, the text covers his immediate family devoting considerable detail to his wife, Abigail, which makes for a balanced narration. This is a biography of John Adams and not a history of the Revolution and the post revolution era so that incidents, actions, etc. not closely related to John Adams are given minimum coverage making for a contiguous account that is not distracted by events (though important) in which Adams was not involved. By quoting from their numerous letters, journals and diaries, this is a highly personal account revealing Adams and Abigail's thoughts and feelings.

The narration of Adams activities in France, Great Britain, Holland and Belgium is fascinating. This is a subject that is only briefly covered in most survey courses of American history so that the casual reader of history will find the text well worth reading. The intrigues and manipulative politicians in Europe made for a serious challenge to John Adams' abilities and for the future of the new nation. In many respects, the European attitudes the text outlines in Adams era are still present today regarding America.

The text notes that Adams recognized the critical role of a navy for gaining and then maintaining independence. The author states "That he pressed doggedly for a greater part in the war by the French navy would stand as one of his own proudest efforts, and with reason given what happened at Yorktown." During his presidency he initiated a program of navy ship construction and persuaded Congress to authorize funds to equip and man three frigates constructed during Washington's administration, but never equipped for service. These became the three famous frigates CONSTITUTION, UNITED STATES and CONSTELLATION. He further recommended to President Jefferson the establishment of a Naval Academy to which Jefferson agreed. The founding of the US Navy was one of Adams greatest accomplishments.

McCullough provides an excellent account of Adams' relationship with Jefferson. Jefferson is not pictured in the typical honorable schoolboy image, but rather the text gives a balance account of Jefferson who did not always follow the highest ethical principals especially regarding political

rivals. The author notes that Adams never knew when Jefferson, his Vice President, might be working secretly to undercut or thwart him, for Jefferson's abiding flaw, Adams had concluded, was "want of sincerity". Most interesting is the text's narration of the 1791 public controversy over Jefferson's endorsement of Thomas Paine's pamphlet THE RIGHTS OF MAN. Jefferson had endorsed the pamphlet and in private correspondence ascribed to Adams "the political heresies that have spring up among us" and then blamed the pamphlet printer for his endorsement. In 1809 at the urging of his friend Benjamin Rush, Adams wrote Jefferson, their friendship was renewed and remained strong through the rest of their lives.

The text tells of Adams less than high opinion of Benjamin Franklin who Adams considered lazy. In Adams written documents, the image of Franklin as a wholly honorable statesman/scientist is brought into question. However, Adams still had high praise for Franklin stating that if he had done nothing else then invent the lightning rod he had done the world a great service.

The text also narrates many situations which were a harbinger of the American Civil War noting the strong differences between New England and the South principally with Jefferson's Virginia. The author quotes Adams who wrote " I know it is high treason to express a doubt of the perpetual duration of our vast American empire, but a struggles between the states over slavery might rend this mighty fabric in twain."

In his easy to read narration, the author describes the political world in early America. This account is most intriguing since if only the names and the dates are changed, politics and government today is the same as in Adams age. For example. McCullough writes "Colonel Smith was in Washington. Having failed at nearly everything he ever tried, he had lately been elected to Congress" and Adams is quoted as stating "I would to God there were more ambition in the country....ambition of that laudable kind, to excel." In another example, the text notes that "The more Adams thought about the future of his country, the more convinced he became that it rested on education and wrote "The education of a nation instead of being confined to a few schools and universities for the instruction of the few, must become the national care and expense for the formation of the many." Today, politicians are debating the same topic.

To be sure John Adams had his faults and the author does not try to ignore his shortcomings in this biography. His support of the Alien and Sedition Acts was most reprehensible.Perhaps his greatest fault was that he was hard headed; however, this was tempered by Adams integrity. In today's "me first" and "what's in it for me" society, it is pleasant to read the biography of a person (even a whole family) which put public service above self interest. The reader may not agree with McCullough, but will never find the book dull reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars A nice alternative to the "scholarly" bios
I have nothing against academics who write books (though they sometimes forget that an audience should *want* to keep reading), and I sometimes enjoy the details and minutiae some such authors deliver.

In the case of David McCullough's John Adams, however, I think the pathologically-serious academic/historian crowd has tellingly overreacted to the "popular" tone of the book. Oh, horrors -- McCullough wants to make history and historical figures accessible to the masses!

I greatly enjoyed the look into Adams' relationship and correspondence with Abigail, who played a much larger role in early American politics than most people realized. I also found the on-again-off-again friendship between Adams & Jefferson described in a much more compelling manner than in most other similar bios I've read. Granted, it seemed at times to be more of a pro-Adams apologetic than an objective recounting of facts, but I understood that going into the book. Part of the attraction here is that McCullough humanizes Adams (and Abigail, and other figures) for the reader; even though you know the outcome of the story, you still find yourself "rooting" for Adams during critical passages!

It's a huge book, but I tore through it because McCullough made it so easy to read. We all had to memorize names and dates in history class, but here it is presented in such a way that you will *want* to learn more. Congratulations to David McCullough for another grand-slam effort!

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

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

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

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

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


11. Bound By Honor
by Bill Bonanno
list price: $24.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0671045644
Catlog: Book (1999-05-01)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Sales Rank: 557552
Average Customer Review: 3.21 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

Bill Bonanno was born into a world of respect, tradition, and honor. The son of legendary mafioso Joe Bonanno, Bill was a "made" member of the mafia by the time he was in his early twenties. He was rumored to be the model for The Godfather's Michael Corleone, and was the subject of Gay Talese's bestselling Honor Thy Father.

Now retired, Bill is finally ready to bear witness to his life as a high-ranking captain in the Bonanno crime family, one of America's most powerful mafia syndicates. He takes you inside the mob at its peak, when New York's Five Families -- the Bonanno, Gambino, Colombo, Lucchese, and Genovese -- not only dominated local businesses, but also controlled national politics.

From the truth about the mysterious disappearance of his father, to a startling disclosure about the mob's participation in the Kennedy assassination, Bill Bonanno lays bare the inner workings to his chaotic, violent, and surprisingly human world with unparalleled detail and insight.

Bound By Honor not only recounts Bill Bonanno's tumultuous life, but also is an engrossing chronicle of organized crime. His story provides a remarkable glimpse into all of the intriguing personalities of the underworld of yesterday and today, from Bugsy Siegal to John Gotti.

A fascinating audiobook, Bound By Honor is a must-listen for fans of Mario Puzo, Gay Talese, Nicholas Pileggi and others who have recorded the mafia -- but have never been at the eye of the storm in quite the same way as Bill Bonanno. ... Read more

Reviews (42)

2-0 out of 5 stars Legend of his own mind
The book as such is an easy read and has some amusing stories, it is, however, filled with appearent contradictions and self promoting spins on most of the events.
The writer is clearly unable to put is own life into perspective and believes he has done no wrong........but that the government is at fault for hunting down organised crime, mostly himself and his father (who is depicted as the role model mobster).
The book is worth reading if the subject itself is of interest to you. For most readers it will become clear that the writer is a complete and total loser.

4-0 out of 5 stars Don't Miss the Point
This book isn't about crime; it's about a broken heart. Like Michael Corleone, what Bonanno did to preserve his family destroyed it; like Corleone, once he got involved, he couldn't get out. This explains his fatalistic feeling that his role in life was preordained at birth.

Contrary to other reviews here, Bonanno DOES give new details, like why Bugsy Seigal was killed and who the second shooter was in Dallas. His explanation of who killed the Kennedys and why is worth the price of the book. He shouldn't be expected to give details about his own capers, not only because this would be self-incriminating, but because he was a strategist, not a soldier or capo. He's a policy wonk of crime.

He says the U.S. Government is the biggest mob around. If true, this not only justifies why Sicilians are as they are, but burdens the rest of us with a warning. Even if false, it indavertently supports his point that "the life" came to an end when those practicing it entered into a war of attrition with a foe more capable of maintaining it. Maybe greed wasn't to blame; maybe it was hubris.

Even if the book is self-serving or written for profit, that it exists is omerta's epitaph. It demonstrates that action for its own sake can be as addictive as heroin and harder to shake. It restates a great truth--that whatever is taken by force must be maintained by force, and force feeds on force. It also proves that two cultures can't exist in the same place at the same time; one absorbs the other or eliminates it. A war between the Mafia and America could end in only one way. Bonanno says that his father knew this; I believe him.

3-0 out of 5 stars Propaganda??
I found this book an enjoyable read, but having finished it I now have my doubts about all of the name dropping. Why would a "man of honor" suddenly be divulging the twenieth century's most guarded secrets, and why wasn't there a huge media outcry about these revelations at the time of publication. (if there was I don't remember it)

... Sammy the Bull however states that the Bonanno's seat at the "Commission" was revoked due to heroin trafficking.

Makes you wonder if these tell-alls are just ploys to protect their own interests.

1-0 out of 5 stars Bound by Honor, A Mafioso's Story
I've read a few "Mafia" books in my time and this one beats them all for best fiction. "Our tradition" and "honor". These words pop in the story about a thousand times. This guy thinks he came out of a fairy tale with the holy grail tucked under his belt.

The way Billy Boy describes his traditional father as an angel of peace just doesn't stick. As one of the five Dons leading New York's underworld, Bonanno Senior was not the caretaker of some sacred tradition but a Machiavellan player who could rival with the likes of the Borgias. What? You think La Cosa Nostra was built on some divine attribute. You're wrong - it was built on greed.

In French we have an expression, "Jamais deux sans trois", which translates as, "Never two without three". This book is the third attempt by those zany Bonannos to sanitize their traditional family history. See "Honor thy Father" and "A Man of Honor" for the other two miscarried attempts. Oh! I almost forgot. His wife Rosalie wrote "Mafia Marriage", an essay into a not so traditional relationship. Good advice for all those dysfunctional couples out there.

In "Bound by Honor", we are once again brought to believe the Joe Bonanno, a man of tradition, was kidnapped in 1964 by his not so honorable cousin, Steve Maggadino. Actually, Joe Bananas faked his own kidnapping to escape the Feds and his mob "friends". Another ludicrous idea is that Joe Senior was never into heroin. It just wasn't part of his tradition. Oh come on Bill. You're telling us your daddy was heartbroken when he learned that Carmine Galante was indicted for dealing in smack in 1959. Read "The Canadian Connection" by Jean-Pierre Charbonneau to get the true story. Bonanno was probably the biggest heroin dealer in the fifties and sixties. That's what the Mafia power struggle in that period was all about - control of New York City's heroin market. (Bill, that honorable kind of guy, simply is trying to whitewash all the white powder resting on his father's conscience and the thousands of lives that were destroyed by his activities.)

If you're interested in conspiracy, Bill also solves that great riddle wrapped in an enigma - "The Kennedy Assassination". In the Tale of the Two Joes, Bill compares his father with Joe Kennedy and yes you've guessed it, he compares himself with Jack Kennedy. Somehow we are also led to believe that Joe Bananas was the puppetmaster behind Kennedy's 1960 election. It goes on and on... I also forgot to mention that Bill believes he is the real life model behind the character of Micheal Corleone with the clout to call Commission meetings. Yeah, right.

I got to give it to you Bill. You really turned out to be one fine "con artist".

Too bad Junior can't come up with the truth his almost century-old father could give that would make Joe Valachi's account sound like a bedtime story. Then we'd really have a read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Please don't heed the ignorant
Having just this second finished the book, i jumped onto the internet for more information. I then found these reviews by the ignorant and felt I should put my own two penneth in. In 1974, during my 4 year investigation into the Kennedy assasination, I was fortunate enough to meet and interview Johnny Roselli, who answered without hesitation every possible question I could think of. After my intensive studies, he confirmed everything I was in sure of and left me in do doubt as to the assasins, and plot. Another reviewer complained about the disrespect given to the Americanized Family leaders. I have only just got off the floor, from laughter. America, as we all know is the worst, most arrogant and greedy, country in the world. The Americanized leaders took away their own respect by destroying a perfectly working community handed to them on a silver spoon. They once again used their own selfishness, abusing all they could in their attempts to make push and bully themselves to the top (hello John Gotti!). The Sicillian traditions were what made the Mafia work so well, and whilst they might not have been as honourable as they like to believe, they looked after each other and co-operated for group gains. Bonanno's book is quite beautifully written at times, and paced well to keep readers interested. The people who disliked this book, were really looking for something more gory, I believe. If you're this somewhat typical American then stick to your TV movies and your all you can eat $4 fat-fests. If, however you wish to read an interesting account of inter-Family relationships, mafioso spirit, and something much closer to the truth behind conspiritary American governments then read this book. ... Read more


12. Rocket Boys : A Memoir
by Homer Hickam
list price: $24.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0671582720
Catlog: Book (1998-11-01)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Sales Rank: 362019
Average Customer Review: 4.79 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

Until I began to build and launch rockets, I didn't know my hometown was at war with itself over its children, and that my parents were locked in a kind of bloodless combat over how my brother and I would live our lives....And I didn't know that the enthalpy decrease in a converging passage could be transformed into jet kinetic energy if a divergent passage was added. The other boys discovered their own truths when we built our rockets, but those were mine.

So begins Homer "Sonny" Hickam, Jr.'s extraordinary memoir of life in Coalwood, West Virginia -- a hardscrabble little company town where the only things that mattered were coal mining and high-school football. The son of the mine's superintendent and a mother determined to push her son to a better life, Sonny fell in with a group of misfits for whom the future looked uncertain. But in 1957, after watching the Soviet Satellite Sputnik streak across the sky, Sonny and his teenage friends took their future into their own hands, changing their lives and their town forever.

Looking back after a distinguished NASA career that fulfilled his boyhood ambition, Hickam shares the story of his youth, taking listeners into the life of the little mining town and the boys who came to embody both its tensions and its dreams. With the help -- and sometimes hindrance -- of the people of Coalwood, the Rocket Boys learn not only how to turn mine scraps into rockets that soar miles into the heavens, but how to find hope in a town that progress is passing by.

In this uniquely American memoir, Homer Hickam beautifully captures a moment when a dying town, a divided family, and a band of teenage dreamers dared to set their sights on the stars -- and saw a future that the nation was just beginning to imagine. ... Read more

Reviews (442)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Moving Memoir
Homer Hickam's Rocket Boys was one of those books that I couldn't put down, and I thought about for a long time after I finished it. There is humor mixed in with the story of one boy's determination to succeed in achieving his goals. I would recommend this book to people who are looking for an inspiring story. It is about growing up in a rural mining town in West Virginia struggling to accomplish goals in space when the main concern of the town is what is below the ground, not what is above it. I thought that this was an excellent book and would recommend it to teenagers as well as adults. It's considered an adult book, but it is an easy book to read and teenagers can relate to the main character. This is one of my favorite books.

Through reading this book, I have learned that hard work and determination will allow a person to reach his or her goals in life. In this book, Homer Hickam had many obstacles to overcome in order to reach his goal of becoming a rocket scientist. This book has taught me that if I have a dream, I must try to reach it. No matter how many and how hard the obstacles are that come in the way of dreams, a person must keep trying. I would also recommend seeing the movie that was based on this book, October Sky. October Sky is an accurate presentation of the story. If you have already seen the movie, you are sure to enjoy this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars October Sky: A Memoir
Rocket Boys

This is a book which was inspired by a boy's desire to please his father. Homer Hickman Junior, referred to as Sonny, grew up in Coalwood, a mining town in West Virginia. Sonny's mother knew he was special; she encouraged him regardless of the upsets, the destruction, or his fathers reluctance from him to go on. Spanning his years in high school, this memoir evokes encouragement, disappointment, and sheer ecstasy. To see the blossoming of a "geeky" child into a man revered in Coalwood and all through out society should be an inspiration to us all. All of his efforts were concentrated on a single person, his father, to gain his full support. Rocket Boys is a book which is impossible to put down, looming in the back of your head until you finish. A magnificent read. Attending high school and being in those formative years gave me a chance to reflect on what the message might be. Every nook and cranny of the book is something a person can relate to, a well thought out memoir

5-0 out of 5 stars Loved this book!!
I'm not sure which was more interesting--the story of the rocket building or the story of growing up in a small West Virginia coal mining town. I was captivated by both.
To those that say this book doesn't appeal to women--nonsense! I'm a woman and am recommending it to my daughter and all my friends.
And finally, to the reviewer that said the movie is better--I loved the movie, but guess what, the book was even better.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent - a quick read
This book really drew me in - although it is nearly 400 pages long, I finished it within two days! Highly recommended - especially if you have an interest in space/rocketry. However, it is hard to imagine many people who wouldn't enjoy this book. Better than the movie. I'm also amazed that a "rocket scientist" can write so well.

5-0 out of 5 stars Rocket Boys
One day my class teacher told us we would all be picking a book, reading it, and writing a critique for it. Then she told us we would be placing it on the internet. I wasn't too thrilled about any of this. This book turned out to be a lot better than I thought it would be. Rocket Boys, by Homer H. Hickam was written beautifly, tellling the story of a few young boys trying to reach a common goal. Homer "Sonny" Hickam Jr. starts out as a freshman in highschool trying to find a way with the ladies, especially Dorthy, and battling the jocks, one being his brother, for popularity. Sonny takes a sudden intrust in Sputnik. This is what gets him started on his incredibly passoinate love for rockets. His father is a miner and is always gone, as where his mother is incredibly supporting to whatever he does as long as he "doesn't blow himself up." Miss Rilly was another very supporting person in Sonny's life. She is the one that provides the "fuel" for Sonny's dream when she gives him a book on rocketry and encourages him to enter the science fair. I loved how the story is so vivid and colorful, how you can see the excitement, anger, fear, and love that the character expresses. This story also shows you that you have to keep trying to get what you want, and that not everything comes easily, but if you work hard for it, it can be very rewarding. Sonny learns this when he decides to enter the county science fair. It ends up being incredibly rewarding, and surprising to him. He ends up in the national science fair and returns home with a medal. Sonny eventually ends up working for NASA and accomplishing his dream. I loved this book because it was what really happened to him and it shows. He made a lot of really great frinds along the way, whether in the mine workshop or just some "different" people at school. I give this book five stars and would read it again anyday! ... Read more


13. Professor and The Madman, The : Unabridged
by Simon Winchester
list price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0694522430
Catlog: Book (1999-09-01)
Publisher: HarperAudio
Sales Rank: 146569
Average Customer Review: 3.81 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

National Bestseller!

One of the greatest literary achievements in the history of English letters, the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary began in 1857, took seventy years to complete, and drew from tens of thousands of brilliant minds. But hidden within the rituals of its creation is a fascinating and mysterious story.

Professor James Murray was the distinguished editor of the OED project. Dr. William Chester Minor, an American surgeon who had served in the Civil War, was one of thousands of contributors to the dictionary. But Minor was no ordinary contributor. He was remarkably prolific, sending thousands of neat, hand-written quotations from his home. On numerous occasions Murray invited Minor to visit Oxford and celebrate his work, but Murray's offer was regularly, mysteriously, refused.

Finally, a puzzled Murray set out to visit him. It was then that Murray would finally learn the truth about Minor . . . that, in addition to being a masterly wordsmith, Minor was also a murderer, clinically insane - and locked up in Broadmoor, England's harshest asylum for criminal lunatics.

The Professor and the Madman is an extraordinary tale of madness and genius, and the incredible obsessions of two men at the heart of the Oxford English Dictionary and literary history. Written with riveting insight and detail, Simon Winchester delivers a fascinating glimpse into one man's tortured mind and his contribution to another man's magnificent dictionary.

... Read more

Reviews (344)

3-0 out of 5 stars Too little story, too much padding...
The title of this book, "The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary" is far more intriguing than the book itself. Once you get the main idea, that one of the most important contributors to the Oxford English Dictionary was an American living in a mad-house, there's not much more to tell. And yet, Simon Winchester goes on to tell it for another 200 or so pages.

The problem is that what sounds like a fascinating story really isn't. I mean, nothing much happens. Dr. W. C. Minor is delusional, murders a man, and is placed in a mental institution. Dr. Murray begins work on the Oxford Dictionary and makes a public request for volunteers to read through books and find examples of words. Dr. Minor responds to the advertisement from his cell, and is of great help.

Time passes. Eventually, both men die of old age.

End of story.

Simon Winchester tries to fill pages with baseless supposition, along the lines of "Perhaps it was this early experience of watching young maidens bathing in the river that would eventually lead Dr. Minor to the confused mental state that would, ultimately, land him in a mental hospital." After a while, though, one can't help thinking, it would have been nice if this book had an actual story behind it. "Perhaps Dr. Minor had an affair with the widow of the man he murdered. Although there is no evidence to suggest that anything of the kind ever occurred..."

What was interesting was seeing some of the early definitions of the words themselves, but that was a very small part of the book. Ultimately, "The Professor and the Madman" is a bit of fluff. There's enough information to make for a fascinating 5-page article, but it's extended and padded to fill a book.

Only for the very bored...

4-0 out of 5 stars interesting story
This is a marvelous book about the Professor, James Murray, the primary editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, and the Madman, Dr. William C. Minor, one of the Dictionary's most prolific contributors, despite his incarceration in an asylum for the criminally insane after committing a senseless murder provoked by his delusions. The book tells the stories of each of these protagonists as well as the making of the OED itself, and nicely wraps up all of the connections, even to the point of showing what happened to the murdered man's family (whose widow visited Minor regularly
for months).

3-0 out of 5 stars Quick read for philologists, historians, and others.
I like reading the occasional historical fact (rather than historical fiction) "novelette," and The Professor and the Madman was definitely easy to get through. One can learn much from books like this, particularly the way normal people lived their day-to-day lives in a certain time and place.

A few things I liked about this book:

1. One will assuredly learn a thing or two about the English language, in reading it. You will learn some obsolete words, the origin of some words, and just get a refresher of other, more common words. Each chapter begins with a dictionary entry of a particular word, some very normal words, some more exotic words.

2. The parallel lives of the two main characters are interesting to follow. One feels real emotions for both. There are a few shocking moments in the book, which stand out quite a bit in front of the otherwise fairly tame narrative.

3. I grew up with the Oxford English Dictionary, and I always wondered how they compiled all the words. It was great learning about how they did that.

4. The book covers an array of themes and topics, and a fairly diverse geography. Mental illness, civil war, sexual propriety, crime and punishment, one can learn a little bit about a lot of issues in the reading of Simon Winchester's book.

I wouldn't recommend the book to just anyone, though. It can be kind of slow, and sometimes one simply grows tired of bouncing back and forth between the two main characters. It is also fairly short; one sort of wishes for more detail on certain events. In some places, the book reads like a crime/detective novel from the 19th century, in others it is more like a biography. It sort of skips around from one style to the next, almost as if different parts were written at very different times by an author in very different states of mind. Overall, though, this book is a nice, quick read, a good plot, and you will learn a thing or two from it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Footnote to History
Simon Winchester has written a very unusual book about a very strange series of events during the last century and the dawn of this one. First, we have various literary authorities in England deciding to compile and edit a massive dictionary (eventually it became the Oxford English Dictionary), which took 70 years to finish and filled multiple volumes. Then we have the editor of the project for most of its life discovering that one of his most valuable contributors was in a lunatic asylum because he murdered someone. The story goes from there.

Winchester is a good writer, and he milks this story for everything it's worth. He spends a good deal of time talking about side issues, as is common with this sort of slice-of-life thing. He does a very good job with them, as far as I can tell. I'm pretty knowledgeable with regards to the American Civil War; the author must tell you of the Battle of the Wilderness to explain how the murderer went mad, and he does so skilfully. The writing of the OED and its contents are intelligently discussed and dissected, and the history of dictionaries themselves was fascinating. The other characters, namely the editor of the dictionary itself, James Murray, are interesting and well-drawn.

I enjoyed this book a great deal. It is short, but it's fascinating, and I would recommend it pretty much universally.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fun and Accessible
Being a dictionary enthusiast, especially of the OED, I was excited to come across this book. It reads quickly, and has a wealth of factual information and also some fun speculation. The author uses lots of words which are themselves fun to look up, but also has OED references printed right in. I suggest that any fan of the OED read this book. ... Read more


14. Truman
by David McCullough
list price: $26.00
our price: $17.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0671798871
Catlog: Book (1992-12-01)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Sales Rank: 23931
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

Hailed by critics as an American masterpiece, David McCullough's sweeping biography of Harry S. Truman has captured the heart of the nation.The life and times of the thirty-third President of the United States, Truman provides a deeply moving look at an extraordinary, singular American.From Truman's small-town, turn-of-the-century boyhood and his transforming experience in the face of war in 1918, to his political beginnings in the powerful Pendergast machine and his rapid rise to prominence in the U.S. Senate, McCullough shows, in colorful detail, a man of uncommon vitality and strength of character.Here too is a telling account of Truman's momentous decision to use the atomic bomb and the weighty responsibilities that he was forced to confront on the dawning of a new age.Distinguished historian and prize-winning author David McCullough tells one of the greatest of American stories in this stirring audio adaptation of his Truman---a compelling, classic portrait of a life that shaped history. ... Read more

Reviews (172)

5-0 out of 5 stars Truman
Truman by David McCullough is a biography of one of our most extraordinary Presidents, Ol' Give 'Em Hell Harry, the man who said, " the buck stops here." Harry S. Truman, who's humble start in rule Missouri, with hard work, determination, and circumstance landed in the Oval Office of the White House.

This is a tale of a man, told warmly with feeling. A story of a man who walked in the shadow of Franklin D. Roosevelt, a man who had to make a choice to use the Atomic Bomb, a man who proved himself, a man of uncommon vitality and strength of character. Reading this book, one gets to know Harry Truman, you feel emotion and see insight as the author sets the story and writes a telling tale.

Harry Truman a man who married later in life because he didn't have the money. His work on the farm gave him strength and dogged optimism in the face of defeat, but much more was to come for Harry. Facing responsibilities such as had weighed on no man ever before and setting American politics and diplomacy, Harry Truman was treading a new age.

The author has mastered Truman in this book, as no other has to date, and it shows throughout this book. This is the life of Harry Truman complete with all of the supporting characters as well... Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin, Eleanor Roosevelt, his wife Bess Wallace Truman, General George Marshall, Joseph McCarthy and Dean Acheson. Harry Truman was responsible for the Truman Doctrine, NATO, the Berlin Airlift and the Marshall Plan, but fired General Douglas MacArthur. "Truman," shows Harry Truman to be complex, thoughtful, peppery when he needed to be and plainspoken.

I really enjoyed reading this biography... like a grandfather telling a story that happened in his lifetime... with understanding and thoughtfulness.

5-0 out of 5 stars A model biography of an almost model man
David McCullough delivers! Truman is a model biography - in both McCullough's craft and his subject of the epic life of Harry S Truman. McCullough truly creates another universe - a reality that would have existed only in the past, but now fits in your hands in these 1000 some pages. The reader will find him/herself immersed in the history and lives of amazing figures of another age whose actions for which we - citizens of the world are greatly indebted. The reader will both know Harry S Truman and his historical significance - his heroic and at the time highly controversial Presidency.

Truman is both an epic of a man's life and homage to the triumph of American democracy. Truman is a man of humble origins who achieves incredible feats. I urge anyone who stumbled onto this page to "get to know" Truman by reading this book. This book is a joy to read - it flows like a novel. You will not be disappointed.

"I never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell."
-Harry S Truman

5-0 out of 5 stars Buy It and Read It ASAP!!
I first read this book in 1992 when it was released. I've read it over several times since and each time I enjoy it just as much as the first. What a great person and what a remarkable life! This is one book that I can't possibly say enough about. IT'S OUTSTANDING!! Mr. McCullough obviously admires his subject, but he is objective and shows Mr. Truman warts and all. He had very few warts however. BUY IT and READ IT as soon as you can. You won't regret the time spent.

4-0 out of 5 stars Talks about the right aspect of Truman's career
I admired the book for talking about Truman's friendship with Eddie Jacobson. He and Eddie were business partners in the 1920's and Eddie (a Jewish man) later influenced Truman to help found the modern state of Israel. I am still disappointd as I am also searching for talk about (probably) Truman's other mostly unsung achievement-the firing of Churchill and the birth of modern India and Pakistan. Sadly the book offers nothing about that aspect of Truman's career.

5-0 out of 5 stars My First Biography
I decided to read this book for two reasons. First, I was/am an avid supporter of Howard Dean, and he often cites Truman as his favorite president, and knowing so little about Truman, I was curious why. Second, practically the only thing I did know about Truman was that he made the decision to use the Bomb, and I was extremely interested in what sort of man it takes to make such a decision.

The book is 992 pages long - daunting to someone whose only other 500+ page read had been Lord of the Rings.

But I found each page interesting and riveting. Never did I find it slow or dull. I had no idea how much impact the Truman administration had on the country and the world. Not only the Bomb, but the start of the Cold War, the Korean War, the first push by a President for universal health care, the first push by a President for equal civil rights. Truman, an ordinary farmer from western Missouri, is the absolute example of the American dream.

The book also answered both of my questions. The similarities in Truman's approach to politics and his agenda with Howard Dean's campaign for the presidential nomination are uncanny. And, to my surprise, Truman was not at all the sort of man I imagined making the decision to obliterate Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I feel like I've learned more from this one book than I learned in 17 years of schooling. ... Read more


15. Living History
by Hillary Clinton
list price: $26.00
our price: $17.68
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743528336
Catlog: Book (2003-06-09)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Sales Rank: 53873
Average Customer Review: 3.05 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

Hillary Rodham Clinton is known to hundreds of millions of people around the world. Yet few beyond her close friends and family have ever heard her account of her extraordinary journey. She writes with candor, humor and passion about her upbringing in suburban, middle-class America in the 1950s and her transformation from Goldwater Girl to student activist to controversial First Lady. Living History is her revealing memoir of life through the White House years. It is also her chronicle of living history with Bill Clinton, a thirty-year adventure in love and politics that survives personal betrayal, relentless partisan investigations and constant public scrutiny.

Hillary Rodham Clinton came of age during a time of tumultuous social and political change in America. Like many women of her generation, she grew up with choices and opportunities unknown to her mother or grandmother. She charted her own course through unexplored terrain -- responding to the changing times and her own internal compass -- and became an emblem for some and a lightning rod for others. Wife, mother, lawyer, advocate and international icon, she has lived through America's great political wars, from Watergate to Whitewater.

The only First Lady to play a major role in shaping domestic legislation, Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled tirelessly around the country to champion health care, expand economic and educational opportunity and promote the needs of children and families, and she crisscrossed the globe on behalf of women's rights, human rights and democracy. She redefined the position of First Lady and helped save the presidency from an unconstitutional, politically motivated impeachment. Intimate, powerful and inspiring, Living History captures the essence of one of the most remarkable women of our time and the challenging process by which she came to define herself and find her own voice -- as a woman and as a formidable figure in American politics. ... Read more

Reviews (651)

4-0 out of 5 stars Pretty good book
I just love Hillary Clinton, but this is only after I read this book. I never really cared for her, but I decided to give this book a shot. Now that I've read it, I can see what an incredible woman she really is. I admire her greatly.

As for the book itself, it wasn't the best thing I had ever read. Some of it was a little boring, but overall I thought it was worth reading. I enjoyed reading about her childhood and I loved hearing about her getting involved in politics. I now see her relationship with Bill in a new light, and I am glad she didn't dwell on the Monica Lewinsky scandal. She had a much bigger story to tell, and I am glad she did it.

The reason some people may not like this book is because it reads more like a political manifesto rather than an out-and-out memoir. The times when she went into too much detail on foreign policies were things I could have done without. Still, I am glad I gave this book a shot because it really does make you see her in a new light. She is no longer the ice woman I once thought she was. Then again my family is predominantly Republican, so it's no wonder I thought that. It's hard for me to think I once thought so little of this incredible woman.

Another reason people may not like this is because they were expecting a juicy gossip rag about the Lewinsky scandal. Like I said earlier, Ms. Clinton does not dwell on this and I love her for that. That is a time in her life she has moved on from and we should all take a page from her book.

I have a newfound respect for Hillary Clinton. She has inspired me to become more involved in politics and I think she is just an amazing woman. Thanks to her, I have come to embrace my liberal views and am not afraid to be the only Democrat in a family full of Republicans. Go out and buy this book to get a glimpse into who this woman really is. She will get my vote if she ever decides to run for the presidency of the United States.

4-0 out of 5 stars History Light
I must admit that this is the first memoir I have ever read that was by the First Lady and given this one is graded as one of the better ones, I think it may be my last. It was not that the book was badly written, it was just that the majority of what the First Lady does is not all that interesting to me. Reading about this fund raisers, good will trips or party planning are not my idea of thrilling political insider info. I am more interested in the hard fought, inside the beltway battles that make major decisions. I obviously new this book was about the First Lady, but given the Clinton Presidency, I assumed that it would cover more in depth the political battles the administration faced. Then again the book was about her.

The next compliant I would have about the book is that the author seamed to take the high road on all the areas you thought she would come out with both guns blazing on. Her comments were so bland that they almost acted to diminish or completely disregarded the very negative attacks the Clinton's faced during their terms. Sure she touched on the items of major interest, heath care reform, the full independent counsel investigation, Monica and the Senate race, but it seamed to be at such a high level that all the real nasty, dirty inside details were left out of the book. Ok I know that she has a new job now so that she did not what to lay waste the political landscape that she will be working in and one could make the argument that the First Lady needs to stay above the partisan attacks, but hey this is the edge of the seat reading I wanted.

Lastly I wanted more detail. Now given that she had lead a rather full life, Governors wife, working on the Nixon impeachment, First Lady and now Senator, to get a real detailed account of all of these areas she would have needed a much larger if not multiple volume book. I guess I would have just liked her to focus on the First Lady section of her life and have gone into more detail. Just as the book seamed to be getting into a topic, the chapter was over and on to the next installment of Hilary on the move.

Even though I have focused on the areas I disliked with the book, overall I thought it was probably better then most books dealing with the Clinton years. I did think the writing was better then average and she did have an interesting story to tell. The details she did given about the life of the First Lady and some of the inside information about the Clinton Presidency were worth the purchase price, throw in some of the personal bit and the book was not bad at all. I also have a sympathetic spot for her, so the increased my enjoyment of the book. I guess I am just a bit disappointed that the book could have been so much better. It could have been a stinging and focused rebuttal of all the overly negative and harmful to the country attacks. Then again how could one book fight back the 8 year, over the top negative campaign focused against the Clinton's. I felt the book was interesting and enjoyable.

2-0 out of 5 stars She's a good girl...
Hillary Clinton is an interesting woman, with tremendous drive and ambition, and this will often get a woman branded as the devil incarnate. The very polarized views of her are not surprising.

What was surprising was the tone and lack of depth in this book. It reads as if she had a list of items she wanted to tick off as having explained. 'I'm a good girl, really.' was the underlying theme. I can't believe she's as naive as she portrays herself. She does admit to a few mistakes, but her apologies are all for not doing a better job, like any good girl.

The healthcare chapter is a good example. She was unable to overcome hurdles around the complexity of the legislative process involved, and she makes 'apologies' for her failure along the lines of 'well, we tried really hard & it's a good cause'. But as she & Bill are both Yale lawyers, with experience in private practice (her) and as the Arkansas attorney general (him) and as they had easy access to many of the best legal minds in the country, it is hard to understand. It comes across more like professional negligence than the naivety it is painted as. I suspect ambition (the 100 day goal) was the real cause for failure, which is a shame given how important this issue is to our country and how badly we need healthcare reform. To put something this complex under a 100 day deadline is almost sophomoric - or ambition out of control.

She is also careful to mention every person and cause that might win over supporters. An extraordinary number of her enounters seemed to have resulted in 'lifelong' friendships. Many iconic figures like Jackie Kennedy and Nelson Mandela get a lot of airtime. It's a bit too good to be true. It reads almost as if she's running for something.

Maybe Sarah Bradford, who wrote that wonderful biography of Jackie Kennedy, will write the book about Hillary one day and we'll get a better picture of who she really is - from all angles. Personally, I would have found the intelligent, ambitious Hillary much more interesting and admirable than the girl scout we hear about in this book... it's a shame powerful women still feel they have to paint themselves as 'good girls' to be heard.

5-0 out of 5 stars 10 things to love about this book.
1. Candid revelations: "It was no surprise that Bill turned out to be a cheat. He used to hang out in the parking lot of Arby's to pick up Monica types, but it still hurts."

2. On the Sixties: "Bill really did inhale, as did we all."

3. On lesbianism rumors: "I am not a Lesbian, I only tried it those times to find that out."

4. On faith: "I am a deeply spiritual Church goer, I also dabble in Voodoo and my Wicken name is priestess Dominatrix."

5. On movies: "My favorite movie is that one by Tarintino, I forget the title, something Bill."

6. On her detractors: "They call me a cold angry lady. I am just aloof and have some hate issues."

7. On the vast right wing conspiricy: "They put a computer chip in Bill's head that makes him not very particular about the ladies."

8. On forgivness: "We all make mistakes, even I can recall waking up next to Monica after a night of drinking on a few occasions."

9. On Terrorists: "Let's find out why they are unhappy, maybe they need a hug."

10. On running for President: "I understand that France hates us for being powerful so I will reduce our power to an amount equal or less than that of other countries and stop all this helping people in forign lands stuff."

5-0 out of 5 stars An intelligent account of history, (not gossip filled)
If you are looking for gossip, go read another book. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's book is as the title states: It is a Living History. It is well-written and filled with facts and stories of past generations. If you have children or grandchildren this is a book you should buy for them. It is a warm and compassionate way to learn history (as opposed to our education system that tends to teach history via war dates). Buy this book. You Won't Be Sorry!

(...) ... Read more


16. Founding Mothers : The Women Who Raised Our Nation
by Cokie Roberts
list price: $25.95
our price: $16.35
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060527889
Catlog: Book (2004-04-01)
Publisher: HarperAudio
Sales Rank: 8262
Average Customer Review: 3.79 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

Cokie Roberts's #1 New York Times bestseller We Are Our Mothers Daughters examined the nature of women's roles throughout history and led USA Today to praise her as a "custodian of time-honored values." Her second bestseller, From This Day Forward, written with her husband, Steve Roberts, described American marriages throughout history. Now Cokie returns with Founding Mothers, an intimate look at the passionate women whose tireless pursuits on behalf of their families and country proved just as crucial to the forging of a new nation as the rebellion that established it.

Roberts reveals the often surprising stories of these fascinating women, bringing to life the everyday trials of individuals like Abigail Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, Eliza Pinckney, Mary Bartlett and Martha Washington -- proving that without our exemplary women, the new country might have never survived.

Social history at its best, Founding Mothers unveils the determination, creative insight and passion of the other patriots, the women who raised our nation. Cokie Roberts proves beyond doubt that like every generation of American women that has followed, the founding mothers used the unique gifts of their gender -- courage, pluck, sadness, joy, energy, grace, sensitivity and humor -- to do what women do best, put one foot in front of the other in remarkable circumstances, and carry on.

... Read more

Reviews (19)

4-0 out of 5 stars NO DOLDRUMS HERE.
One of the problems with history is that it's male orientated. There isn't much about our "founding mothers." Roberts finds most of her information in the letters and diaries of these women. At the age of sixteen, Eliza Lucas (Pinckey) ran her father's three plantations, taught her sisters and slaves lessons and wrote Wills for her neighbors. Ben Franklin's common-law wife ran his print shop and her Sundry shop while he played politics. Pamphlets were the delivery system of the colonial era and it was Mercy Otis Warren, the wife and sister of revolutionaries, who bravely published pamphlets against the British government.

_Founding Mothers_ is a fascinating read/listen. Those who consider history dull will discover this book has enough personal tidbits about our founding mothers to ward off the doldrums. Highly recommended for a personal read or for a school project.

Brenda @ MyShelf.Com

5-0 out of 5 stars It's About Time!
It's about time that a book was written about the extraordinary women who were obscured behind famous men throughout history. In this book Cokie Roberts does an excellent job in telling their much overlooked story and pointing out how important their contributions were to America. If you love history, I highly recommend it! Debbie Farmer, 'Don't Put Lipstick on the Cat'

3-0 out of 5 stars Better in the hands of Doris Goodwin or John Krakauer
The concept of this book is what interested me. I was quite inspired by the women depicted here. Unfortuantely I found the work to be poorly written. I certainly could have done without the personal commentary Cokie threaded through the book. It was as if I was being directed what to think. I "get it" I wanted to scream. The content wasn't all that bad but the book is written for the reader young reader, perhaps of high school age. I would consider it for paperback if at all.

1-0 out of 5 stars For In Style readers who've yet to graduate to People Mag
With Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation, Cokie Roberts has provided a service to remedial readers everywhere.
Writing on what appears to be a third grade reading level (which I hope reflects a choice she made and not her own reading comprehension level), Cokie's prodded her usual readers to put down their See Spot Run picture books.
Trudging through page after page of facts from other books (usually better written ones), I kept attempting to think of another writer so committed to a grace-free style.
Used to be that a writer of Cokie's ilk would put out a book (say, Joan Rivers) and no one who read it fooled themselves into thinking it was a great book or helping the nation's literacy levels. We knew it was trash and if we read it, we didn't try to justify it after the fact by praising it as anything other than a "page turner" (high praise for these type of books).
But somewhere along the way we appear to have lost our abilities for critical thought if this repetative, plodding clip-job can be seen as anything other than a hack trying to cash in with as little work as possible. (The American dream? I don't know, we used to take pride in our work.)
I made it to page 70 (and felt I lost several reading levels in the process) before I tossed this book. Couldn't even pass it on because though I do favor recycling, I couldn't in good faith risk inflicting the cellular damage this type of dull, graceless "writing" does to one's brain.
I read the reviews of this hoping to find something I'd missed in the 70 pages I had read, some level on which to appreciate it.
I didn't find any comments like that. Some argue it's "new" information. New to them, perhaps, but that's nothing they should scream from the rooftops. (Has Jay Leno's stupid American skits made people proud of their own ignorance?) I did read a review that cautioned readers not to mistake clip-jobs for books and not to mistake magpies for authors. I applaud that sentiment. It's sound, it's reasoned, it's informed, it's educated.
But clearly there's a market for this book. I've reflected on the seventy pages read for half an hour now trying to figure out whom these people are. Then it hit me, Founding Mothers is a "book" for In Style readers who've yet to graduate to People Magazine.

5-0 out of 5 stars Tough People That Weaker Sex
This book is a tremendous contribution to the historical picture. Suppose you were the wife of an upper-level Colonial Army officer who, during the annual winter pause in fighting, visits the family from November to February, then he goes back off to war and is thus not around to talk to. You, the wife, now have the management of the farm/business, with perhaps 5 children to raise, with the task of planning for the family's escape should the British invade your part of the colonies, and since women were the fighters against outbreaks of deadly infectious agents (smallpox, cholera, yellow fever, tuberculosis, measles, whooping cough, etc) you could be called into this action, and, by the way, you are 7 months pregnant. Added to this is the good chance that you could deliver the child in the heat of summer (the year being about 1780) with no electric fans, no air-conditioning, and with 1780's medical knowledge (no knowledge of viruses or bacteria, and no antibiotics). As illustrated by this book, this routinely was the situation of our Founding Mothers. And of course there is more. (By the way, window screens will not be invented for 100 years, leaving folks with the interesting choice of leaving the windows open and being eaten alive by mosquitoes, or closing the windows and sweltering.) ... Read more


17. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
by Robert M. Pirsig, Michael Kramer
list price: $49.95
our price: $32.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1559275561
Catlog: Book (1999-05-01)
Publisher: Audio Renaissance
Sales Rank: 480273
Average Customer Review: 4.01 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

This lyrical, evocative, thought-provoking journal of a man's quest for truth -- and for himself -- has touched and changed an entire generation.At its heart, the story is all too simple: a man and his son take a lengthy motorcycle trip through America.But this is not a simple trip at all, for around every corner, through mountain and desert, wind and rain, and searing heat and biting cold, their pilgrimage leads them to new vistas of self-discovery and renewal.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is an elemental work that had helped to shape and define the past twenty-five years of American culture.This special audio edition presents this adventure in an exciting new way -- for the millions who have already taken this journey and want to travel these roads again, and for the many more who will discover for the first time the wonders and challenges of a journey that will change the way they think and feel about their lives.
... Read more

Reviews (394)

5-0 out of 5 stars Terrific book IF you are ready for it.
Every twenty-something knows a thrity-something who claims this book changed their lives. They may very well be telling the truth, but I know far more people that put this book down in frustration than in rapture. Pirsig indeed captures a subtle, yet vital, way to engage reality in a mechanized and secular late 20th century. This book certainly must be credited for inspiring so much of the New Age literary spiritualism that followed it. But this book is not for everyone. Heavy doses of Kant and sweeping passages of rural landscapes have caused many a person to put it down thinking they've grasped the general idea, which is enough to discuss it at the next social gathering. This book, however, is a journey of the mind and the self at a particular moment in time. It is also a touching, and sometimes wrenching, acount of a man's own life. Pirsig's view of integrating technology into one's spiritual perspective is actually more interesting now than when he wrote it. It offers an immense amount to a prepared reader. But don't expect it to be an easy book offering any answers. It is a beautiful, though trying, process. If it doesn't grab you right away, don't be afraid to put it down for a few months. When the time is right, this book can be a centering experience.

5-0 out of 5 stars Don't loan it to a friend- you'll never get it back.
I've had to buy 3 copies of this book. The first two were loaned to friends who never returned them. Yes, it's a great book. It's not about Zen or motorcycles. It is about quality, values, and relationships.

I first read ZMM 18 years ago, at age 17. Since then, I've been impressed by 3 things about the book: 1)It's one of those books that you can pick up after not touching for 5 years, and end up spending hours rereading sections on a rainy afternoon. 2) It's one of those books that when you meet someone who also read & loved it, and then discuss it with them, it always seems that they got something different out of it than you did. 3) You can pick it up after not reading it for 10 years, re-read it, and it's as though you've just read a completely different book.

Many reviewers here have stated that reading the book changed their lives. I read it at a pretty impressionable time, so I can't say as how my life would've been different if I hadn't read it. I do believe though that reading the book did teach me at least one absolute truth: There are two types of people in the world- people who love ZMM, and people who "just don't get it". If I'm ever marooned on an island with one other person, I pray it's one of the former.

2-0 out of 5 stars ADD and the art of motorcycle maintenance
Ugh. This book can't decide what it wants to be. Every time you get interested in a topic (and this book does contain some interesting topics from the travel narrative to some of the ideas expressed) it switches over to another topic before resolving anything. This is incredibly frustrating from the point of view of entertainment. Does this book want to be a novel and flow like one, or a middle-brow discussion of contemporary worldviews, or a amateur philosophy thesis? It suceeds only in being a very long and slow 400+ pages of several seperate books thrown together with minimal integration.

3-0 out of 5 stars like beating your head against a brick wall
I have never taken a philosophy course, so I will admit that having taken one might have better prepared me for this journey. It starts out very intriguing--both the physical motorcycle journey, and the narrarator's discussion of technology and art. Then, when we get up into "high country," I found myself completely lost. I have a bachelor's degree in English, so I think of myself as fairly intelligent. But perhaps it is like his analogy to reading Walden: you have to pause after every sentence and let it set in. It's just that if I did that, it would take me years to get through this book. Some wonderful ideas, but this book is definitely not light reading.

1-0 out of 5 stars didn't even make it through the book
I am an avid reader and consider myself fairly intelligent. I was excited to receive this book as a present since I heard so many wonderful things about it. The person who gave it to me said I would find myself referring back to it every 5 years of my life.

Maybe it is me, but this book did not enlighten me. I made through 60 pages and realized it was just not the book for me. I found it long winded and I kept asking myself why I felt the need to go on.

I finally had to good sense to stop. I felt like I was reading something written by an insane person that was projecting his own reality onto the world. ... Read more


18. Night
by Elie Wiesel, Jeffrey Rosenblatt
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1883332400
Catlog: Book (2000-01-01)
Publisher: Audio Bookshelf
Sales Rank: 306898
Average Customer Review: 4.37 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

Night -- A terrifying account of the Nazi death camp horror that turns a young Jewish boy into an agonized witness to the death of his family...the death of his innocence...and the death of his God. Penetrating and powerful, as personal as The Diary Of Anne Frank, Night awakens the shocking memory of evil at its absolute and carries with it the unforgettable message that this horror must never be allowed to happen again.
... Read more

Reviews (744)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


19. Galileo's Daughter : A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love
by DAVA SOBEL
list price: $39.95
our price: $26.37
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375409408
Catlog: Book (1999-11-02)
Publisher: Random House Audio
Sales Rank: 305829
Average Customer Review: 4.13 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

Read by George Guidall
Seven Cassettes, 11 Hours

Galileo's Daughter introduces us to the man whose belief that the Earth moved around the sun caused him to be brought before the Holy Office of the Inquisition, accused of heresy, and threatened with torture.In contrast, his daughter Virginia chose the quiet life of a cloistered nun.Sobel takes us through the trials and triumphs of Galileo's career and his familial relationships, and simultaneously illuminates an entire era of flamboyant Medici Grand Dukes, the bubonic plague, and history's most dramatic collusion between science and religion.
... Read more

Reviews (195)

5-0 out of 5 stars Galileo's World Under A Microscope
Galileo's Daughter is a rare gift. This marvelous duo biography of Galileo Galilei and his daughter Virginia evokes a sense of time and place, character and action and of cosmic importance that are usually the province of great works of fiction.

Author Dava Sobel's meticulous scholarship and keen insights provide us a literary microscope with which we can examine Galileo's seventeenth-century world as the great astronomer explored the heavens with his telescope.

Galileo's numerous scientific discoveries and his condemnation by the Church for heretically teaching the earth moved around the sun are familiar to most school children. Galileo's Daughter does much more than chronicle these familiar events.

Sobel transports us to the Florence of Grand Duke Ferninando de Medici, the Rome of Pope Urban VIII, the Covent of San Matteo where Virginia Galilei became Suor Maria Celeste and breathes life into Galileo's Italy during the era of The Thirty Years War. Superstition and science, loyalty and treachery, generosity and selfishness, the ridiculous and the sublime each combine in a rich Italinate tapestry of seventeenth-century life.

I recommend this wonderful book to men and women of all ages. It will satisfy even those with little interest in history, science or biography. If you are looking for a good story, well told, that illuminates the human condition, this book is for you.

3-0 out of 5 stars Bringing a historical figure down to a more personal level
Galileo's correspondence with his favorite daughter (only her letters to him are present; his letters to her were lost or destroyed) gives us a new perspective on a well-known historical figure and events.

Sobel weaves fascinating historical background on everything from the plague to international politics around the tender letters from Galileo's daughter, Maria Celeste. Despite the fact that she's a cloistered nun, we learn quite a bit about the world at large.

It's interesting to watch Galileo, a devout Catholic, grapple with his faith and with church authorities who believe science and religion are mutually exclusive. We get to see the personal side of Galileo's famous trial.

The book also presents a suprising portrait of a strong, intelligent woman in a place where you might not expect to find her - a seventeenth-century convent.

If you're not a science or history buff the book can get a bit dry in places, but Galileo's discoveries and persecution generally make for enough plot to draw you along over the rough spots.

4-0 out of 5 stars Refreshing Perspective
From the title of this book, I naturally expected it to be a biography of Galileo's daughter, which it is not exactly. I was a bit disappointed to begin with, as the first hundred pages or so are Galileo's early biography. Once his daughter, Virginia (later Suor Marie Celeste) came into the picture, the story became much more interesting.

Virginia was one of Galileo's three illegitimate children by the mistress of his early years, Marina Gamba. She eventually married, with Galileo's blessings, and he never lost interest in his children. Due to their illegitimacy which he felt would eliminate any chance of a decent marriage, Galileo had his two daughters entered into a convent at a very early age. The both became nuns at the convent of San Matteo on turning sixteen, Virginia taking the name Suor Marie Celeste and Livia that of Suor Arcangela. The son, Vincenzio, lived with Galileo in his late teens and eventually (after an unpromising start) became a good son to him.

This book recounts Galileo's personal and private life, using letters from Marie Celeste to give color to what would otherwise be a black and white, straight forward biography. Their shared love is beautiful to see in her letters--his to her having been lost--and the bits and pieces of every day life that she treats the reader to are thoroughly enjoyable.

This is a very detailed and readable history of Galileo, and gave me a much greater understanding of the man, his work and his difficulty with the Church. The conflict he felt between himself and his discoveries comes through very clearly and poignantly in his own words through his other letters. Her faith in him, and in the fact that he was not being heretical, is very apparent. It was interesting to me to see how differently Sobel portrays Galileo's fight was the Church--if her sources are to be believed (and I see no reason to disbelieve) it was not at all what history textbooks would have us believe.

As a history major and fanatic, I truly enjoyed reading this book. The alternate perspective of Galileo was refreshing and real--and made sense of a lot that had previously seemed murky to me about him and the Church. The addition of Marie Celeste's letters gave this book personality and took Galileo from a science god to a human being. My only regret is how few letters are in this book, and that the title is a bit misleading. Despite that, if you have any interest in Galileo, this is a must-read!

5-0 out of 5 stars "The father...of modern science" had a loving daughter!!
=====>

This six part, 33 chapter book, by Dava Sobel, has two themes running through it:

Theme #1: Decribes thoroughly the life and times of Galileo Galilei (1564 to 1642).
Theme #2: Describes the life of Galileo's daughter (1600 to 1634) through some of the actual letters she wrote to her father.

This is first and foremost a solid, easy to read biography of Galileo. His life is traced from him first entering a monastery before deciding to lead a life of scientific inquiry and discovery. Actual letters or parts of letters (translated from the original Latin, French, or Italian by various experts) by Galileo and others are included in the main narrative. Throughout, we are told of his numerous inventions and discoveries. Perhaps the most sensational is that his telescopes allowed him to reveal a new reality in the heavens and to reinforce the Copernican argument that the Earth moves around the Sun. For this belief, he was brought before the Holy Inquisition, accused of heresy, and forced eventually to spend his last years under house arrest. All the translated papers pertaining to these inquisition days are included and make for fascinating reading.

My favorite Inquisition story is with respect to the June 1633 renunciation or "confession" document (reproduced in this book) Galileo was to speak out aloud. The main point of this document is that the Earth does not move around the Sun and that the Earth does not move at all. After reading it aloud, it is said that he muttered under his breath "Eppur si muove" (translation: "But it does move.")

One of Galileo's daughters born "Virginia" and later appropriately named "Sister Maria Celeste," had the intelligence and sensibility of her father. As indicated by her letters, her loving support, which Galileo repaid in kind, proved to be her father's greatest source of strength through his most productive but tumultuous years. Sobel herself translated these letters from the original Italian. They are expertly woven into the main narrative adding an emotional element to this biography.

This book contains almost twenty-five complete letters and numerous large and small fragments from other letters by Sister Celeste. All letters she wrote begin with a statement showing love and respect for her father. Example: "Most Illustrious Lord Father." The first complete letter is dated May 10, 1623 and the last complete letter is dated December 10, 1633. Those letters Galileo wrote to his daughter have not survived.

Almost 75 illustrations are found throughout this book. They add (besides the actual letters of Galileo's daughter) yet another dimension to the narrative. Two of my favorite pictures are entitled "Moon drawings by Galileo in 1609" and "Sunspot drawings by Galileo."

Another intriguing aspect of this book is a chronology after the main narrative ends entitled "In Galileo's Time." This is not just a timeline of important events that occurred during Galileo's life but includes all significant events (especially scientific ones) between 1543 to 1999 inclusive. For example, what happened in 1687? According to this chronology, "Newton's laws of motion and universal gravitation are published in his [book] 'Principia.'" What happened in 1989? Answer: "[NASA] launches [the] 'Galileo' spacecraft [or space probe] to study the moons of Jupiter at close range."

Where did the author obtain all the fascinating information needed to write such an intriguing book? Answer: from the over 130 references found in the bibliography.

I noticed in the book's "Appreciation" section that the author gives thanks to many people. (Dr.) Frank Drake, who helped with the celestrial mechanics found in this book, caught my eye. She co-authored with him the excellent book "Is Anyone Out There?: The Scientific Search for Extraterrestral Intelligence" (paperback, 1994).

Finally, my only minor complaint is with the book's title. As mentioned above, there are two interconnected themes running through this book. Thus, I think a more appropriate title might have been "Galileo and his Daughter."

In conclusion, this book is a thorough biography of Galileo that includes some translated letters from one of his daugters. It is truly, as the book's subtitle states, "A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love!!!"

<=====>

4-0 out of 5 stars A original perspective.
Dava Sobel made an excellent job in this book. Family is an aspect of Galileo's life never exploded before (at least not that I know) and totally gives you a different perspective of this controversial and heavily influential individual. Galileo's life, as exposed in Sobel's book, is a very human and touching one. Seeing Galileo from the eyes of his tenderly loving bastard daughter (a nun), evokes such intense conflicting emotions as one might expect only to surge by empathy, a characteristic only obtained when the author makes you compenetrate inside the personage life. A great book, highly recommended for curious people. ... Read more


20. Testament of Youth (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics S.)
by Vera Brittain, Cheryl Campbell
list price: $16.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140861599
Catlog: Book (1996-05-01)
Publisher: Penguin Highbridge (Aud)
Sales Rank: 1009548
Average Customer Review: 4.88 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Reviews (24)

5-0 out of 5 stars An inspiring, heartbreaking, unforgettable book.
Vera Brittain is not always easy to like. She's frequently disagreeable, usually opinionated, always challenging. But she also has more courage, strength and vision than most people you will ever encounter. As part of the first generation of women to achieve a university education in England, she put her studies aside to volunteer as a nurse on the front lines of World War I. This seminal event in world history profoundly altered her philosophy as she suffered the heartbreak of losing the two men she loved most in the world. Her triumph over tragedy should be inspiring to anyone who has ever lost a loved one, as she turned her grief and anger at the war into a lifelong committment to the cause of pacifism. Brittain is a beautiful writer with a sharp wit and an incisive mind. Her portrayal of the brutality of war and the tragic consequences of "God and country before all" makes for perhaps the most powerful anti-war book ever created. This is not only a testament to youth, but also to the courage and resiliancy of the human spirit.

5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully moving personal account life during WW1
This book by Vera Brittain is one of the most moving that I have read. Written as an account of the experiences of young men and women at the onset and during the First World War, it gives a particular insight which is different from, but equally absorbing as, those accounts, so often understated, of soldiers who fought in the trenches during the conflict. To be more accurate, while she recounts the feelings and experiences of the men who were closest to her, hers is the only woman's viewpoint which is given in any depth - and, indeed, it is her personal account, given in such depth that it draws in and involves the reader in a way unlike any simple factual account of events. While it recounts in some detail her own work as a nurse in the war theatres, it is a story with as much muted romanticism as those of the Brontes or Jane Austen, and belies to a degree the orthodoxy of Vera Brittain's feminism. This is a book to be recommended without hesitation, for anyone interested in the period, but also as a timeless account of human endeavour, endurance and love.

5-0 out of 5 stars Why isn't this GREAT Book better known here in the States?!
Reading the first few pages of this extraordinary memoir convinces me that Vera Brittain was truly one of the great writers ever! In fact, it must be among the very greatest memoirs ever. So when I mention this book to friends, they without exception , have never heard of it! Granted it's about a war from long ago, starting 90 years ago, a horror that Vera B. looks at, and condemns with all her passionate genius. And there were hundreds of classics written at the time, written about this most senseless of wars, a slaughter worse than anyone could ever have predicted. But she describes with great compassion this nightmare, and its effect on herself and her generation. When you read about how her fiance is killed, it will be difficult not to put the book down, and do some serious thinking. And her nursing efforts aboard the SS Brittanica (later sunk by a German U-Boat) make a fine story as well. The book may be a bit dense, and overly literary, but it seems that during this era quoting poetry was a normal part of conversation, unlike today!.Anyway, give this book a chance and you'll be completed entranced by this incredible author!

5-0 out of 5 stars Gift Book
I first became aware of this author when I saw the PBS series of this book. Another reviewer was right, it should be a movie, instead it was a television series. I also had this book, then someone borrowed it and they lost it. I found a new copy at a garage sale and everytime I find a copy, I buy it as I am always giving them away as gifts telling people that they must read this book.My 16 year old daughter loves it also. It is well-written. As someone who taught high school history, I know how important having an interesting book dealing with history is when trying to get most teens to think about the past.. I also recommend reading Testiment of Friendship and Testament of Experience, the continuation of this story.

5-0 out of 5 stars it never ends
it has been a while since i have read this book, & i have to replace my lost copy, but, i still remember how unsparing it is.
i got it to learn more of what my maternal grandfather went through. several years ago, i learned from listing to john mccdermot's version of eric bogle's "and the band played waltzing matilda" my mum listened to it with me. i have never been able to listen to this song without at weeping or at least tearing up. as i wiped my eyes, my mum casually informed me that her da had miraculously survived gallipolli! knowing that fact let me on trying to find out about the nice little corner of hell known as the great war. (i am not a christian any longer, but, i retain a very real idea that hell is real, not a place you goto when you arn't a christian, but, a place we put each other in) this book is more important than ever, & i would like any person who is thinking war is glorious, or willing to rush in head first, it should be reqired reading. writing this on sept 11th, & as a person of whom some of their earliest memories are of watching the veitnam war on television, & who knows all too well the damage war does: (my paternal uncle jaime died in italy five weeks before ww2 ended) in memeory of the dead of all wars, the sept 11 victims, & the ones whose bodies lived, but their souls died. sometimes, i think the first two catagories are the lucky ones, to quote long john silver via robert louis stevenson. thank you, vera brittain. i hope that you are back with your finance, your brother, & his mates, young again, & i deeply hope that all of you are at peace now. (revised slightly on date indicated, but, written on the first anniversary of 9/11) ... Read more


1-20 of 200       1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   Next 20
Prices listed on this site are subject to change without notice.
Questions on ordering or shipping? click here for help.

Top