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    1. A Great Improvisation : Franklin,
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    2. American Prometheus : The Triumph
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    3. The Peabody Sisters : Three Women
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    4. Princesses : The Six Daughters
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    5. John Brown, Abolitionist : The
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    6. Night
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    7. The 48 Laws of Power
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    8. Stalin : A Biography,
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    9. Mein Kampf
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    10. Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary
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    11. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
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    12. From Mount Vernon to Crawford
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    13. Long Walk to Freedom : The Autobiography
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    14. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young
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    15. John Jay : Founding Father
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    16. Black Boy (Perennial Classics)
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    17. The Professor and the Madman:
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    18. On Hitler's Mountain : Overcoming
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    19. The Orientalist : Solving the
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    20. Maus : A Survivor's Tale : My

    1. A Great Improvisation : Franklin, France, and the Birth of America
    by Stacy Schiff
    list price: $27.50
    our price: $18.15
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0805066330
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-02)
    Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
    Sales Rank: 340948
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    Book Description

    In this dazzling work of history, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author follows Benjamin Franklin to France for the crowning achievement of his career

    In December of 1776 a small boat delivered an old man to France." So begins an enthralling narrative account of how Benjamin Franklin-seventy years old, without any diplomatic training, and possessed of the most rudimentary French-convinced France, an absolute monarchy, to underwrite America's experiment in democracy.

    When Franklin stepped onto French soil, he well understood he was embarking on the greatest gamble of his career. By virtue of fame, charisma, and ingenuity, Franklin outmaneuvered British spies, French informers, and hostile colleagues; engineered the Franco-American alliance of l778; and helped to negotiate the peace of l783. The eight-year French mission stands not only as Franklin's most vital service to his country but as the most revealing of the man.

    In A Great Improvisation, Stacy Schiff draws from new and little-known sources to illuminate the least-explored part of Franklin's life. Here is an unfamiliar, unforgettable chapter of the Revolution, a rousing tale of American infighting, and the treacherous backroom dealings at Versailles that would propel George Washington from near decimation at Valley Forge to victory at Yorktown. From these pages emerge a particularly human and yet fiercely determined Founding Father, as well as a profound sense of how fragile, improvisational, and international was our country's bid for independence.
    ... Read more

    2. American Prometheus : The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer
    by KAI BIRD, MARTIN J. SHERWIN
    list price: $35.00
    our price: $23.10
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    Asin: 0375412026
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-05)
    Publisher: Knopf
    Sales Rank: 157455
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    3. The Peabody Sisters : Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism
    by Megan Marshall
    list price: $28.00
    our price: $18.48
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    Asin: 0395389925
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-13)
    Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
    Sales Rank: 794
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    Book Description

    Elizabeth, Mary, and Sophia Peabody were in many ways our American Brontes. The story of these remarkable sisters — and their central role in shaping the thinking of their day — has never before been fully told. Twenty years in the making, Megan Marshall's monumental biograpy brings the era of creative ferment known as American Romanticism to new life.
    Elizabeth, the oldest sister, was a mind-on-fire thinker. A powerful influence on the great writers of the era — Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau among them — she also published some of their earliest works. It was Elizabeth who prodded these newly minted Transcendentalists away from Emerson's individualism and toward a greater connection to others. Mary was a determined and passionate reformer who finally found her soul mate in the great educator Horace Mann. The frail Sophia was a painter who won the admiration of the preeminent society artists of the day. She married Nathaniel Hawthorne — but not before Hawthorne threw the delicate dynamics among the sisters into disarray.
    Marshall focuses on the moment when the Peabody sisters made their indelible mark on history. Her unprecedented research into these lives uncovered thousands of letters never read before as well as other previously unmined original sources. The Peabody Sisters casts new light on a legendary American era. Its publication is destined to become an event in American biography.
    ... Read more


    4. Princesses : The Six Daughters of George III
    by FLORA FRASER
    list price: $30.00
    our price: $19.80
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    Asin: 0679451188
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-05)
    Publisher: Knopf
    Sales Rank: 1717
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

    Reviews (744)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    7. The 48 Laws of Power
    by Robert Greene
    list price: $17.00
    our price: $11.56
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0140280197
    Catlog: Book (2000-09-01)
    Publisher: Penguin Putnam
    Average Customer Review: 4.17 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Amoral, cunning, ruthless, and instructive, this piercing work distills three thousand years of the history of power in to forty-eight well explicated laws. As attention--grabbing in its design as it is in its content, this bold volume outlines the laws of power in their unvarnished essence, synthesizing the philosophies of Machiavelli, Sun-tzu, Carl von Clausewitz, and other great thinkers. Some laws teach the need for prudence ("Law 1: Never Outshine the Master"), the virtue of stealth ("Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions"), and many demand the total absence of mercy ("Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally"), but like it or not, all have applications in real life. Illustrated through the tactics of Queen Elizabeth I, Henry Kissinger, P. T. Barnum, and other famous figures who have wielded--or been victimized by--power, these laws will fascinate any reader interested in gaining, observing, or defending against ultimate control. ... Read more

    Reviews (308)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Simply Empowering
    I first read this book two years ago. Since then I have obtained two large promotions and am ten years ahead of my peer group. I also make $15,000 more a year in salary -- and I am just getting started.

    By employing the concepts and ideas of this book I have quite simply out planned, out moved, and out-played those around me. Be assured this book isn't about being nice or cruel. It is a guide to the game of power and teaches the rules most are never taught. It delineates the basic rules of engagement in this world and especially within business and strategic relationships. Those who can't see the difference between information and ethics are simply naive.

    I used to work hard to 'please' the boss, be completely honest, and most of all consider the interests of all parties. That only stressed me out and gave me an ulcer. More importantly, it excluded me from promotions and other opportunities. Now, I simply use the concepts of the 48 Laws of Power to enable my success. For those who are offended by the apparent immorality or ethical conflicts that appear inherent in these concepts -- be assured that ethical conduct can be maintained within these ideals. Just as black-belt can easily kill the average person, it doesn't mean he does or should.

    If want to win in the game of life employ the concepts of the bible. If you want to win in business use the 48 Laws of Power. Knowledge is power. The 48 Laws of Power are a nuclear arsenal in the battle for power.

    4-0 out of 5 stars The Only thing you cannot get in life...
    ...is something for nothing.

    Yes, it is possible to achieve financial success and political power using the laws in this book, but at what cost? I have read extensively on the principles that successful, powerful people both past and present have used to access power. The greatest people of all time have realized that unlike what Mr. Greene suggests, real, sustainable power comes from within--it cannot be had be had through the manipulation of external conditions, i.e. effects not causes. The most powerful people (some who used their power for good, others for not so good), accessed the power we all have WITHIN us.

    My analysis has demonstrated to me that the only people who are able to become very powerful in business, politics and socially and yet still have excellent health, great relationships and above all PEACE OF MIND, accessed the power within.

    I believe that all those who want to rise to positions of power and authority (and enjoy the associated benefits of such) yet still maintain good friendships, good marriages, have good health and peace of mind, should spend more time accessing the power within because this is the only power than enables one to "have it all".

    This book was good because it enables those who live by certain ethical principles to identify and protect themselves against those ideas that are discussed (and very likely used) by many readers of this book.

    I would recommend reading Joseph Murphy's book Power of The Subconscious Mind for a better understanding of the true source of power.

    1-0 out of 5 stars A book on power by two fledgling authors?
    This book not only contradicts many tried-and-true methods of attaining power, but in the most inane way. If you followed the advice given, you would have no friends (as it advises stabbing them in the back when possible in order to make yourself look better--no joke). I was absolutely appalled at the unabashed odacity this book promulgates. If you subscribe to the Golden Rule, this book is not for you. It is my belief that if Jack Welch were to read this book, he'd laugh, and discredit everything the authors say. In addition to the above statement, this book advises: as long as you can get away with it--do it, reject loyalty to others, deception, etc.

    It read like two high school geeks trying to sound "tough." Avoid this book at all costs, that is, assuming you are mature. I can tell you that this book will get you no where in life (other than backwards).

    3-0 out of 5 stars Negative strategies to attain success...
    In our world of political correctness and appearances, where society is depicted as fair, democratic, at times altruistic and transparent, the reality of the situation is far different. And as Greene proposes, no one wants to be seen as power hungry, and those that do, are generally scorned. Power is a game. And to play this game successfully, duplicity is the key: to win power, we must, on the surface, at least appear to be fair, altruistic and transparent, however we must scheme, manipulate, deceive, charm and seduce, if we are to get what we want...to achieve power, as Napoleon suggested, we should use an iron fist with a velvet glove, smiling as we stab our opponents in the back. Attaining power is war, though according to Greene, a civilized war.

    Any person with an essential good nature should find this book a little disturbing. The message from Greene is clear - living the virtuous life is the road to failure and powerlessness. Appealing to the better angels of our natures is a lost cause and will get us nowhere but the bottom of the food chain. In other words, "nice guys finish last." The only way to the top is through treachery, seduction, observing others' weaknesses to then play on those weaknesses to your advantage. Greene's advice is basically a negative strategy to power and success. And to be sure, there are other positive strategies out there to attain power and success without resorting to deception and covert manipulation. But none are presented here.

    That said, understanding the 48 laws presented here, at least will make us aware of the depths some people will go to in order to get what they desire. In this regard, this text is worth the time, energy and money.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Historically accurate & insightful view into human behavior
    This book appeals on so many levels. As the author states himself, the book "...can be used in several ways." He divides its uses into 3 categories: 1) a guide to power in general; 2) browsing for a law applicable in one's life; and 3) browsing for entertainment.

    This culling of 3,000 years of philosophy, literature and wisdom, distilled into 48 "laws", is a fascinating read all the way through. The book sites so many historical references and quotes that reading the red notes in the margins of the book is fascinating in itself.

    I neither advocate nor dismiss these "laws", but reading about them goes far to explain much that I see in today's cut-throad Corporate world - I see that nothing has changed except the literal bloodshed which has been replaced by the metaphorical bloodshed happening in thousands of boardrooms across the US on a daily basis.

    If you too are swimming with the sharks, this is a must read! ... Read more


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

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

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

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

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

    ... Read more

    Reviews (5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Never the less the power and importance of the book is to show how previous biographies were written and influenced by ideas around Stalin's rise which when put to the test are shown to be wrong. In looking at Stalin's personality it is also clear that he was not a person who suffered from what would be described as a mental illness. His actions were to purposeful and systematic for that. Despite this the book is perhaps better at showing what could be described as the evil of Stalin's rule. Not only the effects on those who were killed by his regime but the brutal and irrational nature of the regime he created.
    ... Read more


    9. Mein Kampf
    by Adolf Hitler
    list price: $20.00
    our price: $15.40
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0395925037
    Catlog: Book (1998-09-15)
    Publisher: Mariner Books
    Sales Rank: 3292
    Average Customer Review: 3.57 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    In 1922, just four years after the war to end all wars, an unknown Austrian then living in Bavaria planned a pamphlet to be called Settling Accounts. In it he intended to attack the ineffectiveness of the dominant political parties in Germany which were opposed to the new National Socialists (Nazis). In November 1923, Adolf Hitler was jailed for the abortive Munich Beer Hall putsch along with men willing and able to assist him with his writing. With the help of these collaborators, chief among them Rudolf Hess, the pamphlet became a book. Settling Accounts became Mein Kampf, an unparalleled example of muddled economics and history, appalling bigotry, and an intense self-glorification of Adolf Hitler as the true founder and builder of the National Socialist movement. It was written in hate and it contained a blueprint for violent bloodshed.
    When Mein Kampf was published in 1925, it was a failure. In 1926 a second volume appeared - it was no more successful than the first. People either laughed at it or ignored it. They were wrong to do so. As Hitler's power increased, pressure was put on all party members to buy the book. Gradually this pressure was extended to all elements of the German population. Soon Mein Kampf was even being passed out to newlywed couples as a gift. Ironically, and frighteningly, by the time Hitler came to power on January 30, 1933, what has been considered by many to be the most satanic book ever written was running neck and neck with the Bible at the top of the German bestseller lists.
    In his excellent introduction to this definitive American translation of Mein Kampf, Konrad Heiden writes: "For years Mein Kampf stood as proof of the blindness and complacency of the world. For in its pages Hitler announced -- long before he came to power -- a program of blood and terror in a self-revelation of such overwhelming frankness that few among its readers had the courage to believe it ... That such a man could go so far toward realizing his ambitions, and -- above all -- could find millions of willing tools and helpers; that is a phenomenon the world will ponder for centuries to come."
    We would be wrong in thinking that such a program, such a man, and such appalling consequences could not reappear in our world of the present. We cannot permit our selves the luxury of forgetting the tragedy of World War II or the man who, more than any other, fostered it. Mein Kampf must be read and constantly remembered as a specimen of evil demagoguery that people whenever men grow tired of thinking and acting for themselves. Mein Kampf is a blueprint for the age of chaos. It transcends in historical importance any other book of the present generation. In his translation Ralph Manheim has taken particular care to give an exact English equivalent of Hitler's highly individual, and often awkward style, including his occasional grammatical errors. We believe this book should stand as the complete, final, and definitive English version of Hitler's own story of his life, his political philosophy, and his thwarted plans for world domination. Translated by Ralph Manheim with an introduction by Konrad Heiden.A compilation of Hitler's most famous prison writings of 1923--the bible of National Socialism and the blueprint for the Third Reich.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (118)

    1-0 out of 5 stars A must read. But is just garbage
    How do we rate this book? Because of its historical significance? If we rate it based on that, then it certainly deserves 5 stars. However, I think we should rate it based in what's inside. It is nothing but garbage. I understand that Hitler had motifs to feel bad about the situation of Germany in the mid -20s but what he expresses in this book is WRONG. High School and College History books don't cover enough information about the economic and social situation of Germany during the 20s but still. Hitler's ideas are nothing but anger and hate. It has a great historical importance. This book is a must read. It is well written and covers important points. But the ideas are still Garbage. Anyone who doesn't think that Nazism is garbage has a problem and you and I know is true.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Dizzying, rambling... but possibly very important
    In order to give any clear review for Mein Kampf it is necessary to attempt to read it as just another book by just another theoretician. While this eventually became untrue, viewing it this way helps to see it as it was initially encountered, which in turn may help us to understand how it went from long political diatribe to near-eternal infamy.

    If we do that, here is what we discover. Adolf Hitler's long tome is not unintelligent. One could, in fact, make a list of quotations from Mein Kampf that are easy to agree with. This is due to the fact that in exploring his ideas Hitler touches on many areas of human and even natural experience. In doing so he states many things which would be difficult to not call truisms.

    Yet in investigating this philosophy Hitler makes errors that perhaps it is easier for us to see in our time, but might have been harder when this was published. In describing human structures, Hitler is quick to designate terms that he feels he can pigeon-hole people into. Given his racial views this might not be surprising, but without that assistance, it might not be as easy to note his logical flaw when, for example, he divides activists into idealists and politicans; though he acknowledges that occasionally one is both, what he fails to notice is that the line between the two is not nearly as easily definable as he thinks it is.

    Besides his use of this belief system as it relates to race, his tendency to do this extends to the rest of his writing. Mein Kampf is packed with various lists that Hitler feels can describe different phenomena. The more he lists, however, the more that you see someone in love with his own self-created systems than with any desire to map them accurately to reality. This is in spite of the fact that Hitler spends a good portion of the first 1/5 of the book discussing the evolution in his views as his old opinions fell in the face of adult-acquired evidence.

    There is also a problem for the non-German reader in that Hitler spends a good amount of time focusing on specific words that appear to drive the debates of his time, the same way that the fight over words such as "liberal" or "alternative" defines ours. So when Hitler describes the battle for proper use of the word "folkish" to describe his utopian state, most lack the social history necessary to even fully understand his points, let alone judge his accuracy in describing them.

    So the question comes: do you need to read this? That's not easy to answer. At roughly 700 pages with highly complex sentences that often go to more than 10 lines, Mein Kampf is a very difficult read. On the other hand, because we now know of the nightmare Hitler unleashed on the world, it is natural to want to read this to find out where he went wrong so we can avoid these problems in the future.

    For people who feel that way, I would answer this "yes", as the answer for this is more hidden than you might guess. If you get into this with the mindset that you will find a one-to-one correlation of his philosophy to those of some modern-day leader or party, you'll be in for a surprise. Elements of right and wrong are interspersed all over Hitler's rambling. That makes it even harder to work through, but it also provides a reward more fulfilling than any black-and-white rallying cry. And given that that was the kind of world that Hitler saw, and we now know the results of these ideals, that might be all the more reason to put the effort in and understand with more maturity and clarity exactly where Hitler missed the point.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Mein Kampf
    Many people claim that was the worst of human kind. I could not disagree more. Adolf Hitler was a genius with a clear sense of historical, social and political knowledge. He had to fight the jew controlled establihment early on his life and knew that the liberal lies where just that, i.e., lies. Whilst it is true that he is not a writer in the realm of either Donne, Milton, Dante or Shakespeare; one would be an idiot not to realize true genius when it stares one right in the eye. His knowledge in many fields is astounding and he writes verily like a scholar and a deep thinker. This book, i.e., Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler (Introduction), Ralph Manheim (Author), should be read by people whom are not affraid of the truth behind the jewish lies and deceit and want to know the true nature and spirit of one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century. Even though I find his occult ideas very troubling and his cult of personality smacks of heresey one can cleary see that their is a genius residing in that mind. A genius tainted by Satan and his minions , yet a genius. Yet Shakespeare wrote that one can smile and smile and still be a villain.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
    i find this book the best book i have ever read, i think it includes some fasinating points and lines. I would reccomend it anyone who is open-minded and is prepared to let there "anti-racist, hate hitler" views go out of the window while you read it. Forget who it was written by for a minute if u dissaprove of the man and you will come to realise wat i mean.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Just FYI....
    I can't stand it when people post reviews which point out factual errors made by other reviewers, as this is usually done to show off their own knowledge rather than out of any charitable impulse to correct a wrong. That having been said, I have to do just that the two official Amazon reviews of this book posted at the top, one or both by Sunny Delaney, who should have checked the facts before posting them as such.

    The original July 18, 1925 release of "Mein Kampf" was not a failure as stated. In point of fact this first printing of 10,000 hardback books sold 9, 473 copies in less than six months, despite a depressed economy and a relatively high price of 12 marks. If the printing had been a failure, Munich publisher Franz Eher would never have ordered a second in 1926. The second edition was in fact a disappointment, sales dropping off sharply in following years, and it was not until the Nazis gained significantly more momentum in Germany years later that additional editions were ordered. However, it is recorded that Hitler gained a substantial, if temporary, income from royalties of his book, and it may have financed or partially financed the 28,000-mark Mercedes-Benz he bought when released from Landsberg prison.

    I understand that most people cannot even fake objectivity about Hitler as a historical figure because of the things he did and set in motion, but that is not an excuse for getting the facts wrong. "Mein Kampf" was by no means a runaway success, but neither was it a failure. It neither fulfilled the lofty expectations Hitler had for it nor flopped on its face as so many of his critics (and there were many, even in 1925) hoped. Hitler, as it happened, had no respect for objective truth and bent it to suit his purposes and his whims; in studying his life, career, and beliefs, we have an obligation to do the exact opposite and get the facts straight. There are enough myths, legends, and outright lies about this crucially important figure of modern history told every day without committing any more of them to print. ... Read more


    10. Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation
    by JOSEPH J. ELLIS
    list price: $14.00
    our price: $10.50
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0375705244
    Catlog: Book (2002-02-05)
    Publisher: Vintage
    Sales Rank: 587
    Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    In this landmark work of history, the National Book Award—winning author of American Sphinx explores how a group of greatly gifted but deeply flawed individuals–Hamilton, Burr, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, Adams, and Madison–confronted the overwhelming challenges before them to set the course for our nation.

    The United States was more a fragile hope than a reality in 1790. During the decade that followed, the Founding Fathers–re-examined here as Founding Brothers–combined the ideals of the Declaration of Independence with the content of the Constitution to create the practical workings of our government. Through an analysis of six fascinating episodes–Hamilton and Burr’s deadly duel, Washington’s precedent-setting Farewell Address, Adams’ administration and political partnership with his wife, the debate about where to place the capital, Franklin’s attempt to force Congress to confront the issue of slavery and Madison’s attempts to block him, and Jefferson and Adams’ famous correspondence–Founding Brothers brings to life the vital issues and personalities from the most important decade in our nation’s history.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (281)

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Look at the One of the Most Important Decades - 1790's
    Joseph J. Ellis' richly (and deservedly) rewarded book, Founding Brothers (The Revolutionary Generation), looks at six important events that helped form the stable government of the United States after the war for independence and the intellectual wars over the creation of the constitution had ended and before a new generation took up the mantle of state. The period was primarily the 1790's, one of the richest decades in American history from which to mine and the author does a great job of finding and presenting some prime historical nuggets. It is fascinating to see this band of brothers who fought a war divide themselves slowly into ideological camps that then transformed over the decade into parties while still preserving the precarious union that they all created without the shedding of blood, the Burr-Hamilton duel notwithstanding. Adams comes out the best and Jefferson the worst in the narrative as many historians are swinging that direction lately but this will change again, showing that the debates raging in the 1790's are still raging in the history books today. The reconciliation of these two friends is the most touching and noble section of the the book. This is a lively and enlightening read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Founding fathers & political rivals in newborn Republic
    This book is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for good reason. Author Joseph J. Ellis offers intimate portraits of our nation's founding fathers and also a vivid view of the political rivals in our newborn Republic. Ellis is a terrific writer. History comes alive in this stirring narrative...the action starts in the opening pages with the most famous duel in American history and ends in the final chapter with a glowing review of the fued/friendship between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

    John Adams, Aaron Burr, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington are examined in great detail by Ellis. Adams "enlightened diplomacy" negotiated a critical peace treaty with France. Burr is an opportunist and manipulator who was never forgiven for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Franklin, (who is not given the same attention as others) is a scientific genius who uses the press to attack political enemies, particularly those who were advocates of slavery.

    Hamilton restored public credit but also nurtured power for the commercial elite at the expense of the large landowners. Jefferson is the brilliant author of the Declaration of Independance. Madison's nickname in Congress is "Big Knive" for his ability to cut up opposition to legislation he sponsors. And Washington is the "American Untouchable," a great horseman and pragmatic military man who is clearly not as well read as other leaders of his generation but becomes by far the greatest legend among the people. The combined talents of the founding fathers provided the intellectual energy that allowed our nation to survive.

    Ellis is a talented writer, impressive researcher and a towering patriot. Highly recommended.

    Bert Ruiz

    1-0 out of 5 stars A hash job
    Ellis makes it clear from the start where his sympathies lie with the Revolutionary generation and he ambushes us with Abigail Adams for good measure. Of the six stories, only The Silence is revealing for Ellis' feeble attempt to portray the slavery debate as a South-against-South issue. He lavishes attention on a hillbilly from Georgia simply to whitewash a Virginian like Jefferson, who in fact held the same, if not worse, attitudes about his slaves (all conveniently ignored by Ellis). Hamilton was the closest as any of these founding brothers came to believing that blacks and whites were equal and his financial system doomed slavery in a way Adams and his fine rhetoric could never hope to, but he barely rates a mention.

    1-0 out of 5 stars I just had to put this in.
    I've been reading reviews for this book and I notice that they are all 5 stars. Fine. I like stars. But. No one has mentioned (at least no one that I can see) how totally and utterly boring this book is. Now, this might be because I have to read it for Honors English, but I don't think it is.

    Unless you are a major history buff and can handle gems like this: It goes without saying that Alexander Hamilton's understanding of the issues raised by his fiscal program, and the Virginia-writ-large squadrons that were mobilizing south of the Potomac to oppose it, was blissfully free of all the Madisonian ambiguities." And that was the first sentence I opened to.

    Just be warned, while this book might be good, it's boring.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Get inside the heads of the Founding Brothers
    Joseph J. Ellis knew that he wanted to write a book that wouldn't crush you to death if you fell asleep under it. Library shelves are full of large ponderous historical volumes that, let's face it, hardly anyone reads. Ellis has turned his historical microscope on a handful of key individuals and moments and the result is a very satisfying read.

    This book made me understand what was going on in the minds of the individuals involved better than any history I'd previous read.

    The book begins with the fatal duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, often a simple paragraph in many history books. In Ellis' work we get a sense of not only actually being present during the duel itself, but also inside the minds of both men in the months leading up to the event. It seems incredible today to think that the Vice President of the United States killed the Secretary of the Treasury in a duel, but Ellis brings the event back to life in a way more vivid than any I'd previously experienced.

    With a similarly knowing eye, the book looks at a landmark dinner held by Thomas Jefferson in which the decision to move the nation's capital to the Potomac was made in exchange for support for Alexander Hamilton's financial plan. A most enlightening chapter looks at the first significant debate after the Constitutional Convention on the subject of the future of Slavery, precipitated by the leader of the Pennsylvania Assembly - Benjamin Franklin. We get to see the context of George Washington's Farewell Address. John Adams is featured frequently in the book. There is a chapter detailing the long and mutually supportive relationship between John and Abigail Adams, then the final chapter describes the rekindling of the friendship between Adams and Jefferson four decades after the Revolution. This chapter contrasts essentially the two views that have existed ever since about the *meaning* of the Revolution and of the Founding of the United States.

    Although they were miles apart, both geographically and idealogically, Adams and Jefferson kept alive a friendship and mutual respect that would serve as a wonderful model for politicians ever since. ... Read more


    11. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight : An African Childhood
    by ALEXANDRA FULLER
    list price: $13.95
    our price: $10.46
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0375758992
    Catlog: Book (2003-03-11)
    Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
    Sales Rank: 1448
    Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    In Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller remembers her African childhood with candor and sensitivity. Though it is a diary of an unruly life in an often inhospitable place, it is suffused with Fuller’s endearing ability to find laughter, even when there is little to celebrate. Fuller’s debut is unsentimental and unflinching but always captivating. In wry and sometimes hilarious prose, she stares down disaster and looks back with rage and love at the life of an extraordinary family in an extraordinary time. ... Read more

    Reviews (106)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, funny insight into post-colonial Africa
    What makes this book worth reading -- aside from a captivating style and humorous content -- is precisely what separates it from other excellent books about similar subject matter (Godwin's Mukiwa, Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions): the fact that Fuller makes no attempt to analyze, excuse, or explain the racism and insanity of her family history. Rather than rationalizing her parents' racist attitudes, Fuller chooses instead to simply describe in her wry, matter-of-fact voice precisely how the end of the colonial era was experienced by people implicated in it. She does not try to gloss her childhood experiences with politically correct hindsight, and in so doing thrusts the reader into the desperation and the joy of rural African life in the last three decades. Bobo's mother is one of the most memorable and remarkable personalities I've encountered in African literature. The book is worth reading entirely for its hysterical concluding scenes. Fuller's characters are real and human, in all their extraordinary bizarreness!

    Having spent many an hour, like Bobo Fuller, poking grass into ant-lion holes in the hot dusty veld, this moving story captivated me and painted a moving portrait of people fighting the cruelty of the African landscape. Myth and reality are intertwined in a witty and beautiful story. Everyone should read this book!

    3-0 out of 5 stars A different perspective
    It was interesting to read a book about life in Africa, from the perspective of a white woman brought up in a family who clung fiercely to the notion of white supremacy with every last bit of their strength. I disagree with a previous reviewer, however, who seemed to excuse the racism of the Fuller parents by implying that the historic and political situation they were in "made" them that way. Racism is racism, no matter what the circumstance.

    Despite the attitudes of the Fuller parents, their daughter Bobo has documented a well-written account of their life in various African countries, and provides vivid details about the smells, sights, and emotions that the continent evokes for her. Her writing really gives the reader a sense of both the incredible harshness and danger(poisonous snakes, itchy vegetation, scary militaristic governments, etc) of Africa, but also its gentleness and great beauty.

    Although I think Alexandra Fuller writes very well, and I appreciate her honest writing about her parents' behavior and attitudes, I couldn't warm to the family. Despite their numerous trajedies and troubles, I found it difficult to feel sympathetic. In contrast, when I read "The Flame Trees of Thika", another memoir of an African childhood by another white woman, Elspeth Huxley, I rooted for her colonial, turn-of-the-century, white-is-right parents, Robin and Tilly, through all their successes and setbacks. They held the same attitude of racial superiority as the Fullers, yet there is something intrinsically more likeable about how they handled themselves on a continent where they were the minority race, political upheaval or no. After reading Fuller's memoir, it was a relief to pick up "Nervous Conditions" by black female Zimbabwean Tsitsi Dangarembga, and read about three-dimensional black Africans. Her book is set in 1960s Rhodesia, for those interested (A. Fuller recommends it herself in the Afterword section of her memoir). Despite my personal reaction to this book, I recommend it to anyone interested in African writing, because I think that Alexandra Fuller's perspective is just as important and valid as that of any other African writer.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Bravo
    A wonderful insight into the mind of a child and a precise memoir of life itself. Life isn't straightforward and simple, yet we survive, thrive and love, even in the most difficult situations. Ms. Fuller: You said it all and you said it well.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Just meanders . . .
    I read this book for my book club. It just seemed to meander through her childhood, no real plot or climax. Yes, this girl definitely had a different type of childhood, but what makes it that interesting or significant?????

    5-0 out of 5 stars A very different childhood
    Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller is an extraordinary memoir of growing up white in war ravaged Africa. Alexandra, called Bobo by her family, was born in 1969 in England. Her parents moved the family to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1972. Always suffering from "bad, bad luck", which included losing three children, the family moves from farm to farm within Rhodesia and Malawi.

    Fuller's writing style is rich, lyrical and many times, funny. I could picture the land, feel the heat and smell the smoking fish that embodies the Africa she describes. I found myself laughing even as I was shaking my head in disbelief at some of the choices her parents made. Bobo's mother, Nicola Fuller, is racist, resilient, strong and mad as a hatter. In other words, she's the most memorable character in the book.

    Of course, to Fuller all of this stress and strife was, while not exactly normal, expected. She was a child, after all, and it's all she'd ever known. As I was reading, I couldn't help but think that American kids really have no idea how hard their life could be.

    Overall a captivating read. It left me reminiscing about my childhood and reflecting on how simple and uncomplicated (read boring) it was. ... Read more


    12. From Mount Vernon to Crawford : A History of the Presidents and Their Retreats
    by Kenneth T. Walsh
    list price: $25.95
    our price: $17.13
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1401301215
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-11)
    Publisher: Hyperion
    Sales Rank: 6042
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    From the chief White House correspondent for U.S. News & World Report, a fascinating and unique look at our presidents' retreats, hideaways, and homes.

    In Air Force One, Kenneth T. Walsh looked at presidential history from the unusual and illuminating vantage point of the presidents' planes. Now he focuses on the various retreats where our commanders-in-chief have gone to escape the hustle and bustle of Washington, chronicling the important decisions that were made and the historic events that have occurred at them. Moreover, he describes what these sites reveal about the characters of the presidents and the times in which they lived.

    From George Washington (Mount Vernon) to George W. Bush (Crawford ranch), from FDR (Hyde Park) to JFK (Hyannisport), almost every single president has had a beloved place where he could really be himself. Based on Walsh's interviews with four of the living presidents, as well as scores of officials and staff, From Mount Vernon to Crawford is a fascinating glimpse into this largely unexamined facet of American government. ... Read more

    Reviews (3)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Presidents at Play
    Walsh focuses on presidents at leisure, how their retreats from the White House reflect their presidencies.He doesn't treat all presidents, just the best-known early ones, then all from FDR on.The earlier benefit from the best recent scholarship, like Pinsker's of the Soldiers' Home cottage where Lincoln spent a quarter of his presidency.Where White House correspondent Walsh really shines, however, is with the modern presidents he or his contacts covered, especially from LBJ on: great detail!The special glimpse of Camp David is especially insightful.It's as close to an inside view as you can find.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great History Without Cynicism
    One of the few great teachers I had in college made history come to life with timely anectodes. Ken Walsh provides rich and fascinating lessons about American presidents with great stories that are both fun to read and amazingly revealing about the men who have been our presidents.

    He presents us with an easy read that is, thankfully, devoid of the cynicism that permeates today's journalism. And he does so without fawning over any of his subjects.

    His treatment, for example, of Richard Nixon's western White House in San Clemente helps us understand the crazed complexity that was Nixon. Or the way he describes Gerald Ford's skiing vacations in Vail with photographers only interested in capturing the inevitable spills in the snow, shows the impossibility of being both presidennt and 'normal.'

    Or his contrast between two contemporary presidents returning to their land -- Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush -- demonstrates ultimately the values of both men.

    This is a book worth reading, worth sharing, worth giving to friends and family.

    5-0 out of 5 stars As Interesting As It Gets...
    Considering the amount of information this book about presidential retreats contains, I was amazed at how easy and exciting it was to read. The author keeps an interesting pace, but he packs every paragraph with new information about the places our Commanders-in-chief have frequented beyond the White House gate. From George Washington to George Bush, each chapter is a fascinating and in-depth account of our major president's hideaways and getaways. Every location reveals fascinating facts and insight into the inner workings of our leaders as human beings in their most authentic and vulnerable moments.

    The history and development of Camp David is a chapter worth the price of this book in itself. This isolated location, so close to the U.S. seat of power, is the one place where every modern president has been able to unbend entirely. Perhaps ironically, it has also been the site for some of the most intense and successful international detante in modern history. It was after intense meetings at Camp David that George W. Bush made the fateful decision to "put boots on the ground" in Afghanistan. Yet each weekend the president and his family can read, swim or fish in privacy and comfort, away from D.C. and the media spotlight.

    Mr. Walsh has produced an excellent, intelligent book - easy to read and digest. I learned some great things and could not recommend it more.

    ... Read more


    13. Long Walk to Freedom : The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela Tag: The International Bestseller
    by Nelson Mandela
    list price: $16.95
    our price: $11.86
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0316548189
    Catlog: Book (1995-10-01)
    Publisher: Back Bay Books
    Sales Rank: 3000
    Average Customer Review: 4.46 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    The famously taciturn South African president reveals much of himself inLong Walk to Freedom. A good deal of this autobiography was written secretlywhile Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years on Robben Island by South Africa's apartheid regime. Among the book's interestingrevelations is Mandela's ambivalence toward his lifetime of devotion to public works. It cost him twomarriages and kept him distant from a family life he might otherwise have cherished.Long Walk to Freedom also discloses a strong and generous spirit that refused to be broken under the most trying circumstances--a spirit inwhich just about everybody can find something to admire. ... Read more

    Reviews (89)

    5-0 out of 5 stars This Man Is My Hero.
    I read "Long Walk to Freedom" right after I graduated from college in 1996. This is the written life of one of the absolute greatest world leaders who ever lived. I had the pleasure to visiting Robben Island, where most of its tour guides were, like Mandela, political prisoners under apartheid. Words cannot describe what it felt like to actually stand inside of the jail cell that Mandela occuppied. What is even more incredible is that, looking back, the man was not the least bit bitter or angry about what he went through (and who could blame him if he were?); in fact, he invited his former jailers to his 1994 inauguration as South Africa's first black president.

    If after reading this book you do not come away with a greater sense of admiration and respect for this outstanding human being, then you are not human.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A good autobiography
    Long Walk to Freedom is the autobiography of Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest leaders of South Africa. It gives a detailed account of his childhood, youth, and adulthood. It takes you through his years in college and his work as a lawyer as well as all of his political struggles with apartheid including his years in jail.
    The book is extremely well written and gives the detail that only someone who witnessed the events could posses. Mandela's hindsight as he reviews the events of his life shows a more personal side to him. I liked the book but anyone who is considering reading it should be reminded that it is an autobiography so it does have a bias. He wrote the book as someone who had been wronged. Long Walk To Freedom provides an interesting and detailed account of the South Africans struggle with apartheid. It details Nelson's joining of the ANC (African National Congress) his rise in the ANC, and his creation of the MK. It also gives facts about his personal life and the life of his family. It is recommended to anyone who enjoys autobiographies or to anyone who is looking to learn more about the history of apartheid and South Africa.

    5-0 out of 5 stars This book is well worth of my shelf space.
    You should read, at least, a book or two about biographies of such noble people as Nelson Mandela, whose lives have been a blessing to the world. This was a great inspirational book and helped me to realize how simple and small things in life could bring so much joy into one's life. Far too often, I personally take simple pleasures of life for granted. The freedom is not free and the book cites how the freedom is brought at the expense of sacrifices of our fathers. The book is very well written and what impresses me is Nelson Mandela's mastery of English language.

    4-0 out of 5 stars LOOOOONG Book
    This book kept me in prison for a long time. It really bogs down in the middle and then hurries to wrap up. It's a much more "satifying" read in the first 1/3 of the book.

    4-0 out of 5 stars THE DETERMINATION OF ONE MAN- A MUST READ!
    After reading LONG WALK TO FREEDOM, I came away with a sense of awe for a man who spent 27 years in prison but never gave up the hope for his freedom and the freedom of his country.

    Communicating was key to keeping the "freedom fighters" on the outside informed and encouraged. One way this was done was to write in tiny, coded script on toilet paper. The paper was so small and easily hidden that this became a popular way of smuggling out messages. When the authorities discovered a number of these communications, they took the extraordinary measure of rationing toilet paper. After awhile, only eight squares of toilet paper were given to each prisoner each day.

    To live under such conditions where you can be so isolated from the world (For 27 years), that you contemplate conversing with a cockroach, is a test of the human spirit. To sacrifice the obligations of family so that a nation of people can breath in freedom is nothing short of courageous with a fiercely determined spirit. Here is what Nelson Mandela writes about in his struggle for family and nation:

    I did not in the beginning choose to place my people above my family, but in attempting to serve my people, I found I was prevented from fulfilling my obligations as a son, a brother, a father, and a husband.

    In that way, my commitment to my people, to the millions of South Africans I would never know or meet, was at the expense of the people I knew best and loved most. It was as simple and yet as incomprehensible as the moment a small child asks her father, "Why can you not be with us?" And the father must utter the terrible words: "There are other children like you, a great many of them....." and then one's voice trails off.

    Nelson Mandela is a man that has a spirit and determination that is above and beyond most people or leaders today. READ THE BOOK!! It will open your eyes and in the end, it'll make you feel good about the human spirit. ... Read more


    14. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
    by ANNE FRANK
    list price: $5.50
    our price: $4.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0553296981
    Catlog: Book (1993-06-01)
    Publisher: Bantam
    Sales Rank: 2494
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    A beloved classic since its initial publication in 1947, this vivid, insightful journal is a fitting memorial to the gifted Jewish teenager who died at Bergen-Belsen, Germany, in 1945. Born in 1929, Anne Frank received a blank diary on her 13th birthday, just weeks before she and her family went into hiding in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. Her marvelously detailed, engagingly personal entries chronicle 25 trying months of claustrophobic, quarrelsome intimacy with her parents, sister, a second family, and a middle-aged dentist who has little tolerance for Anne's vivacity. The diary's universal appeal stems from its riveting blend of the grubby particulars of life during wartime (scant, bad food; shabby, outgrown clothes that can't be replaced; constant fear of discovery) and candid discussion of emotions familiar to every adolescent (everyone criticizes me, no one sees my real nature, when will I be loved?). Yet Frank was no ordinary teen: the later entries reveal a sense of compassion and a spiritual depth remarkable in a girl barely 15. Her death epitomizes the madness of the Holocaust, but for the millions who meet Anne through her diary, it is also a very individual loss. --Wendy Smith ... Read more

    Reviews (436)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Diary of Anne Frank was a wonderful book.
    I read the book, "The Diary of Anne Frank." I thought that it was not only a wonderful book, but it was very real. It is the captivating story of a young girl, told to her diary about her life, growing up under sone of the strangest, and saddest conditions. It was written in Holland in the early 1940's, during the anti-semetic movements of the Nazi party. Is is told from the innocent eyes of a child, forced to go into hiding to escape Nazi persecution. She lives under close quarters, with seven other people. I felt, because the book was so real, that I actually knew the characters in the book. I found myself relating to ideas that Anne had and things that she said. I think that everyone should read this book because is is an insight into life, love, and hate. I believe that this is a great book and could be enjoyed by anyone.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Anne Frank The Diary of a Young Girl
    The book that I just finished reading is called Anne Frank The Diary of a Young Girl written by Anne Frank herself. It is one of the best book that I have ever read. It tells you about the life of a teenage girl who is trying to survive the awful times of the Holocaust while in hiding. Along with her, there are seven other people living in this hiding place. She learns how to cooporate with other people and how to live while all cooped up. The story takes place in Amsterdam and the hiding place is called the "Secret Annexe". There are two people who get them their food and take care of them. The end of this book is so heart-wrenching that it is unbelieveable. I would definately give this book nine stars out of ten. This book is so informative that is really makes you realize how fortunate we really are these days. It explains everything so well that you can't even believe that something this horrible could ever even happen. This book has definately made me think completely different in a good way and I hope that it will do the same for you.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Franco's Fabulous Book Review
    Anne Frank, a 13 year-old, strong-willed, and courageous girl, is living in the Secret Annex during WWII to escape the Nazi regime. Anne, along with her family and close friends, are hiding from the Nazis because they are of the Jewish faith. Anne falls in love with Peter, a 15 year-old boy who is living with her in the Secret Annex. They become very close as they spend time in the attic trying to escape Peter's annoying mother. The group living in the Secret Annex has to be extremely careful. If they make too much noise, they have a chance of being caught. If they are caught, they will most likely be sent to a concentration camp. Any loud noise or movement could cost the eight tenants of the Secret Annex to die.
    "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl" is an amazing book. It lets you realize how lucky we are to live in the world we live in today. The struggles that Anne and the group go through to live a "normal" life are nothing like anyone in today's world would be forced to go through. It allows people interested in WWII to gain information as to what is was like to live during the war.
    "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl" is a must read. It is ver informative, yet allows the reader to learn about WWII in an interesting way. So, if you like WWII and are interested in learning what it was like to live back then, this book is for you. It is also a good piece of historical fiction. Pick it up today!

    Julie Francolino

    4-0 out of 5 stars A diary that truly depicted War...
    I earnestly almost cried after reading this book.I was 13,the same age as Anne's when she started writing her diary,whom she called "kitty".

    For those who have no idea who Anne Frank is,she is a Jewish girl and the youngest of two girls.Her father was successful businessman...and the family led a happy and wonderful life after settling down in the bustling city of Amsterdam,that was until Adolf Hitler started the Nazis.The Nazis was an anti-Jew operation,where they would capture Jewish men and tortured them.The women and young and old were not let off either,many were sent to concentration camps,where living conditions there were so bad,many died of diseases rather than the slow torturings.

    It was at this time that Mr Frank decided to go into hiding with his family.With some of his kind-hearted co-workers,they managed to perfect a secret hideout.Anne,her mother and sister Margot began moving into the hideout,which was located just behind the office.Joining them were the Van Dans (not sure if spelling is right)who had a son named Peter and a doctor.Life was very tough,for living behind the office with barely a bookshelf as a wall means not making loud noises.No one must know of their existense,so all everybody could do is to crept round their area softly,tip-toeing and even speaking in hush-whistle.

    For almost 2 years,that's the life of Anne.A growing teenager,she could not go out to the streets to watch a movie,play with her friends or even talk to boys,for that means getting caught by the Nazis.It was also round this time that Anne had one true friend where she can confide everything to:kitty,her diary.

    In her diary,she wrote of how talkative she was in class(she went to school before the hiding),how she hates her mother when the latter compared her to her sister Margot,how she detested Mrs Van Dam...and her deepest thoughts on growing up in a secret hideout.She also shared about her crush on Peter,who also liked her.

    Anne,as we could see,was a normal girl,someone who detested writing,someone who likes a boy and someone who wants to grow up being an author.Well,you could say she is one now,with her diary published after the war, which was later translated to more than 50 languages and sold millions worldwide...but the young girl,unlike her diary,did not survived through the war,for she was captured from her hideout one fine day.Mrs Frank,Margot,the doctor,the Van Dams and Anne herself,all died.All except for Mr Frank himself,who survived...

    By the way, a little unknown fact about her Anne:her real name is Annelies Marie Frank.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Anne Frank:The Diary of a Young Girl
    The epic Adventure of Anne Frank, born in Germany Anne Frank spent two years of her life in Astonishing Circumstances. Anne faces adventure when the Nazis where murdering Jews. Anne, Mummy, Daddy, Mrs. Van Daan, Mr. Van Daan, and Peter. All hid in a secret passage in an old warehouse in Amsterdam. Anne and her diary explains of the fear of being discovered by the Nazis. Yet within it, a tender love story slowly unfolds-from her shy avoidances with peter to incessant glances and first kiss! Thus her diary is not a lament but a song to life, no matter the circumstances, no matter what the threats.
    Great book for all ages, and you can't beat the low price. ... Read more


    15. John Jay : Founding Father
    by Walter Stahr
    list price: $29.95
    our price: $19.77
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1852854448
    Catlog: Book (2005-03-15)
    Publisher: Hambledon & London
    Sales Rank: 4123
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    The first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as well as President of the Continental Congress, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and one time Governor of New York, John Jay was a Founding Father of paramount importance to the early Republic and did much to influence the shape of America's future. Walter Stahr's lively and engaging narrative illuminates the great life of an American soldier, politician, diplomat and lawyer. Readers will follow Jay's story through key events in early American history, such as the Revolutionary War, the writing of the Constitution, the first presidencies of the country, and the creation of our most authoritative legal body, the US Supreme Court. Now,Stahr presents Jay in the light he deserves: a Founding Father, a true national hero, and an architect of America's future.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (5)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Re-Founded Father
    John Jay is one those historical figures that most Americans with some knowledge of this country's political birth can recall, but not quite place. Walter Stahr performs a great service in bringing Jay's life story forward to this generation of readers. I think the author's balanced legal analysis of Jay's service on the Supreme Court is especially fine.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Jay as negotiator
    The "Economist" got it right.Read this surprisingly passionate book and see what happens when an experienced financial negotiator writes diplomatic history.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Splendid Story of A Little Known Founding Father
    Except for the occassional crossword puzzle or question on Jeopardy, John Jay has been largely forgotten. His resume would fit right in with Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton and the others, but he was not president, he was not a signer of the Declaration of Independence. In fact, he did not initially favor independence from Britain. Yet, once the revolution was started, he was an ardent supporter of the new nation.

    In 1782 he, along with Adams and Franklin negeotiated the peace treaty with England. When he returned he found that he had been appointed Secretary of State. In 1789 Washington sent Congress a list of appointments to the new Supreme Court, with Jay as the first chief justice.

    As chief justice the Jay court established the court as a reasoned and honorable institution that carries forth many of the traditions that he established. After six years he retired from the court, and Washington immediately sent him to England to negeotiate a new treaty clarifying certain points of the 1782 treaty. While he was in England he was elected to be Governor of New York, where he served for two terms.

    Considering the quality of leadership he exhibited in New York, perhaps we should consider sending all politicians overseas somewhere while we hold elections.

    This is a splended book and well deserves a place alongside the recent spat of books we've had on our founding fathers.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The enjoyable story of a serious guy
    Walter Stahr has produced a very impressive book.He has written an eloquent and sympathetic biography about a man who lacked the eloquence of a Jefferson, or the charm of a Hamilton, or the common touch of a Lincoln.

    We are greatly in Stahr's debt.John Jay was a super-competent and super-dependable guy who gave stability to so many of our early institutions, from the Continental Congress to the Constitution (Federalist Papers) to the Supreme Court (first Chief Justice).

    Stahr's work suggests an untapped treasure for good writers.Give us more sympathetic biographies of the bland trail-blazers who gave our nation its strength and character.Just remember -- write about someone you truly like and admire!

    5-0 out of 5 stars GREAT BIO OF A GREAT AMERICAN
    This is a wonderfully-written biography of one of the Founding Fathers who has been more or less forgotten. Read this book to understand why John Jay deserves a place in the pantheon of America's origins. Walter Stahr writes with passion and understanding and this book compares very well to Chernow's Alexander Hamilton bio and McCullough's John Adams. It's hard to imagine how someone of Jay's immense talent and impact has not been written about before now. This is highly recommended. ... Read more


    16. Black Boy (Perennial Classics)
    by Richard A. Wright
    list price: $13.95
    our price: $10.46
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0060929782
    Catlog: Book (1998-09-01)
    Publisher: Perennial Classics
    Sales Rank: 11016
    Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    With an introduction by Jerry W. Ward, Jr.

    Black Boy is a classic of American autobiography, a subtly crafted narrative of Richard Wright's journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. An enduring story of one young man's coming off age during a particular time and place, Black Boy remains a seminal text in our history about what it means to be a man, black, and Southern in America.

    "Superb...The Library of America has insured that most of Wright's major texts are now available as he wanted them to be tread...Most important of all is the opportunity we now have to hear a great American writer speak with his own voice about matters that still resonate at the center of our lives."
    --Alfred Kazin, New York Time Book Review

    "The publication of this new edition is not just an editorial innovation, it is a major event in American literary history."
    --Andrew Delbanco, New Republic

    ... Read more

    Reviews (117)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent description of negro life in the 1920's
    "Black Boy" is a great autobiographical book written by Richard Wright. Richard, the main character in the story, goes through many trials and tribulations in finding what he loves to do- write. The description of the hardships of negro life in the 1920's and how discrimination ran rampant was excellently described by Wright....the only flaw is maybe a little overexaggeration going on in the descriptions of racism and other hate from whites towards blacks. Richard Wright descibes well though the trials and tribulations of an average negro in American society in that time period. This book is great for teenagers; over the age of 16 though. I say this because vulgar language is constant throughout the story and a couple sex scenes are described explicitly in the book. This is a must-read for young adults.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Book To Read
    I recently read Black Boy by Richard Wright and I must say it is an amazing book. The book is about Richard growing up in the South in the early 1900's. It may sound a little boring but believe me it's not. Richard had a hard life growing up and that's what makes the book so interesting. Burning up houses, killing cats, and becoming a drunk were just some of the things he did before reaching the age of eight. The thing I like most about him is how he grew up very poor, moved from place to place, including an orphanage, never completed two consecutive school years, and still managed to become a well-educated young man and a world-famous writer. Although the book was very interesting there were some parts at the end that I felt were a little boring, but maybe that's just me. Either way, I think Richard Wright was a very talented writer, and if you get the chance, you should read his autobiography, Black Boy. I recommend this book to anyone over the age of thirteen that is interested in learning about history or just likes to read about some hardships other people had to face growing up.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Wright Auto Bio
    The first Wrift book I read was the impressive 'Native Son'. I found Black Boy and read it. It's easy to read and gives you a good insight in how black life in the south was in the 1920. Wright's life as for so many has not been easy: no father, a crippled mother, racism abound. But still he finds time to read books and he reads the classics. Especially Babbit was one of his favorites (and one of mine too). Via Memphis he goes to Chicago were he becomes a more famous writer and starts working/writing for the communist party where he has a lot of trouble as an independant thinker.

    This book gives a great insight into black life. REal events are interspersed with his thinking about race relations. It is also easy to read and won't take a long time to finish. Definitely worth reading!

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Book to Remember
    Black Boy, an autobiography written by Richard Wright, describes what many average African American children faced growing up in the Jim Crow South. Wright described the poverty that he, his friends and family lived through and the agony and dangers they had to face day-to-day. Wright also described the unfair treatment from white people that African Americans had to endure and ignore. He also described how white people treated African Americans as slaves. Wright wrote in excruciating detail bringing to the reader what life was truly like in the South and in the U.S. in the early 1900s.
    I enjoyed reading Black Boy since it gave me insight into how African Americans were really treated in the South. The book really showed me the crisis that America was in over racial segregation. Black Boy also described the despicable acts that white people committed on African Americans for pleasure and entertainment. Richard Wright's actions showed me how a person that is always put down can still strive to be the best. Wright never gave up and kept on dreaming about his goals in life. Wright's book really showed the determination that one can have. His actions in life influenced me to never give up and to keep on trying no matter what someone tells me to do. This was a great book and if one wants to understand what things were like for African Americans in the South in the 1900s, they should read it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A remarkable autobiography
    Black Boy is a outstanding autobiography about Richard Wright. Richard writes about his whole life. The book shows the great discrimination Richard faced, as well as he a lot of the times stood up for what he believed in. He fights the world back and in the end his dream of becoming a writer comes true, but not only does he become a writer he also becomes one of the best writers of the 20th century. ... Read more


    17. The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary
    by Simon Winchester
    list price: $13.95
    our price: $10.46
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 006099486X
    Catlog: Book (1999-08)
    Publisher: Perennial
    Sales Rank: 1568
    Average Customer Review: 3.81 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    The Professor and the Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary--and literary history. The compilation of the OED, begun in 1857, was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.

     

    ... 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


    18. On Hitler's Mountain : Overcoming the Legacy of a Nazi Childhood
    by Irmgard A. Hunt
    list price: $25.95
    our price: $17.13
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0060532173
    Catlog: Book (2005-03-01)
    Publisher: William Morrow
    Sales Rank: 19532
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    On Hitler's Mountain is a powerful, intimate, riveting, and revealing account of a seemingly halcyon life lived mere paces from a center of evil and madness; a remarkable memoir of an "ordinary" childhood spent in an extraordinary time and place.

    Born in 1934, Irmgard Hunt grew up in the picturesque Bavarian village of Berchtesgaden, in the shadow of the Eagle's Nest and near Adolf Hitler's luxurious alpine retreat. The very model of blond Aryan "purity," Irmgard sat on the Führer's knee for photographers, witnessed with excitement the comings and goings of all manner of famous personages, and with the blindness of a child accepted the Nazi doctrine that most of her family and everyone around her so eagerly embraced. Here, in a picture-postcard world untouched by the war and seemingly unblemished by the horrors Germany's master had wrought, she accepted the lies of her teachers and church and civic leaders, joined the Hitler Youth at age ten, and joyfully sang the songs extolling the virtues of National Socialism.

    But before the end -- when she and other children would be forced to cower in terror in dank bomb shelters and wartime deprivations would take a harrowing toll -- Irmgard's doubts about the "truths" she had been force-fed increased, fueled by the few brave souls who had not accepted Hitler and his abominations. After the fall of the brutal dictatorship and the suicide of its mad architect, many of her neighbors and loved ones still clung to their beliefs, prejudices, denial, and unacknowledged guilt. Irmgard, often feeling lonely in her quest, was determined to face the truth of her country's criminal past and to bear the responsibility for an almost unbearable reality that most of her elders were determined to forget. She resolved even then that the lessons of her youth would guide her actions and steel her commitment to defend the freedoms and democratic values that had been so easily dismissed by the German people.

    Provocative and astonishing, Irmgard A. Hunt's On Hitler's Mountain offers a unique, gripping, and vitally important first-person perspective on a tumultuous era in modern history, as viewed through the eyes of a child -- a candid and fascinating document, free of rationalization and whitewash, that chronicles the devastating moral collapse of a civilized nation.

    ... Read more

    Reviews (9)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Growing Up in the Shadow of The Eagle's Nest
    You may have read numerous books on World War II, but Irmgard Hunt has written an account from her viewpoint of growing up in Nazi Germany in the town of Berchtesgaden.She describes conflicting opinions held by family members regarding Adolf Hitler and her confusion as to who and what to believe.Was he Germany's savior or a monster to be feared?School became something she hated due to pro Nazi teachers who indoctrinated the students and abused their authority with unnecessary corporal punishment.One of her classmates was the son of Albert Speer while another was the son of the executed Fritz Sauckel. Irmgard describes an experience of a fanatical pro Nazi teacher who insisted she get up in front of the class and state how proud she was that her father gave his life in the war for the Fuhrer.Another of her teacher's appeared to be a kindly woman who gently asked whether or not one of her relatives was supporting the Fuhrer.She hesitated in answering, but then lied that he doesn't talk about the situation.She later found her teacher was an informant for the Gestapo, and shuddered as to how close she had come to consigning him to a concentration camp.She also relates her uncomfortable experience of sitting on the knee of Hitler in addition to her fear of allied bombings and wondering how the Americans would treat her family members once they invaded Berchtesgaden.This book is told from the viewpoint of a child and the fears and conflicting thoughts she had regarding the war.The book also includes a picture of Hitler's Berghof after it was bombed along with a picture of the Eagle's Nest sitting on top one of the mountains.The author also speaks of her beginning to challenge her mother's beliefs.The war became tiresome and Irmgard realized she had been robbed of a significant part of her childhood.This book is a quick read, but whether you are a grizzled veteran of World War II books or a neophyte this is a book that gives you the war from a different viewpoint ( a child).

    5-0 out of 5 stars A valuable book!
    Irmgard A. Hunt's memoir, "On Hitler's Mountain," is a valuable, fascinating addition to the accounts of the Second World War.Hunt, born in 1934, gives a clear, heartbreaking account of daily life during the 12 years of Hitler's regime.She makes no excuses for how her countrymen (and parents) fell for Hitler's line of a "greater Germany," particularly after the horrid, humiliating Treaty of Versailles, the subsequent inflation and hunger of the Weimar period, and the seeming miracle of the 1933-1938 period.Her father was a draftee in the German army, and died in France.Illustrated with family photographs, and appropriate non-family photographs, this book is well worth reading, and deserves to be included in school curricula worldwide. Hunt grew up, came to the States, married, had two children, and became an executive in several organisations in defence of the environment.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
    Irmgard Hunt's book is a thoroughly engrossing story of a childhood in extreme circumstances.Equally enthralling is her description of how evil crept so easily into German society.Her parents voted for Hitler in 1933 because they were desperate for stability and prosperity.Their middle class respectability kept them from questioning authority or the authoritarian tactics of the Nazi regime.

    Her description of the hardships and ravages of the war from a child's point of view makes for a fascinating narrative.Someone once said of U.S. Grant's memoirs that it's the only book about the Civil War that you keep reading because you want to find out how the war turned out.The same can be said of Hunt's book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Young Girl Growing Up In Nazi Germany
    She was on the politically correct side of the fence. She even got to sit on Hitler's lap and her parent's supported Hitler. However, she was in other ways an ordinary German trying to live an ordinary life and to have a regular childhood. Through her eyes the reader has an opportunity to answer some of the questions that most readers have. What was it like to be an "ordinary" German citizen caught up in the evilness of the time? How did "ordinary" German citizens react to the crimes all around them?

    Hunt writes of her life and the lives of adults around her. She sheds light on how this criminal government came about and of the complacency those persons who could have stopped it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A remarkable memoir
    On Hitler's Mountain is a beautifully-written, thought-provoking memoir of Nazi Germany from the perspective of a young blond German girl.Irmgard Hunt describes the everyday life of her childhood in a remarkably frank style.She resists any temptation to justify or editorialize her recounts of her joining the Nazi youth group or her parents support for Hitler.Her depictions of war-time poverty and the pressures from teachers and neighbors to conform don't seek to justify the behavior of her family and neighbors.Rather, they illuminate how one can be lured into thinking or acting in ways that are in retrospect so monstrously wrong.

    Like me, you may well finish this book in just three evenings and not stop to wonder how you would have behaved, either as a child or an adult, in Nazi Germany. ... Read more


    19. The Orientalist : Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life
    by TOM REISS
    list price: $25.95
    our price: $17.13
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1400062659
    Catlog: Book (2005-02-15)
    Publisher: Random House
    Sales Rank: 3147
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (18)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Gives life to those memories and images of yesteryear
    I was captivated by the narrative of The Orientialist so thoroughly that I found myself reading whole sections aloud: to myself and to whomever came within the sound of my voice.Tom Reiss' writing style evoked many cross currents of sounds and images from my childhood.I was eight and a half when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

    My parents bought and read Time, Life, Collier's, Saturday Evening Post, The Grit, subscribed to two newspapers, and played the radio throughout the day up till bedtime.I remember listening to the London radio reports of Edward R. Murrow with my parents.I saw at least one movie newsreel each week during WWII.And at age 11 I had an evening paper route; my delivers were also late because before starting my route I read the war correspondents' columns and read the news items and studied the maps concrning the Allies' progress against the Axis.

    So, Tom Reiss' The Orientalist called forth a grand perspective of just how important the time of history that the life of Lev Nussimbaum covered really was.And Reiss' narrative illustrates how significant the life of a single person, no matter how obscure, mysterious, and "insignificant," can be for getting a profound insight into how history is about life and death, not just about names, dates and places.

    The Orientialist should be read by those who don't know about "this past," and, especially it should be read by those who have forgotten "this past."

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Orientalist
    The author of this truly wonderful book has written a fascinating story about an enigmatic figure in history, but the intriguing substory interwoven into the narrative is that which chronicles the dogged research he did to discover his material.Along with this remarkable tale of following every scrap or paper, every character, every hint and rumor, he encountered amazing coincidences.Somebody said you never have really good luck unless you work very hard, and this is surely the case here.

    The descriptions of Baku in the early 1900s and Berlin between the wars are vivid and moving, and provided me information I had never heard before.I have a special interest in Turkey and the Middle East, and the attitudes among Jews and Muslems of the 20s and 30s was enlightening.

    One of the best books I have ever encountered.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Loved the Orientalist
    I knew very little about the fascinating pre and post World War I erathat is so very well illuminated in this book, and about how the major Empires of Europe all collapsed in a few years.The life of the mysterious lead character, Essad Bey (with numerous aliases!) held me spellbound - in an earlier Hollwyood era, he would have been portrayed on the screen by Peter Lorre, as in a Bogart movie.All in all, this book is a fabulous recreation of some really weird times in history -- (almost as weird as today!) Literally could not put the book down and await Tom Reiss' next book eagerly.

    Bill Sheldon, Glenview IL

    5-0 out of 5 stars past and prologue
    'The Orientalist' is as clear a portrait as one can find about how we got, in a series of horribly transfixing steps, from WW I to WW II. People under 60 do not realize how close we are still to that time and how easy it would be to repeat it. I am 63 and have a friend (Christian) whose family escaped their farm in Latvia just ahead of the Russians, leaving the farm wagon and the old horse with a bit of hay on the wharf. Our Bible class teacher's grandfather, a rabbi, was one of the last 800 people to get out of Lithuania before the borders were closed.

    One does not feel that the spirit of Europe perhaps is less different today than it was then, despite the intervening 60 years. Factions of Communists, Nazis, Socialists, and Fascists still battle it out in many countries. The Rom, the Jews, and other ethnicities are still disliked and persecuted, and, if you read Malcolm Muggeridge's books and the new 'The Cube and the Cathedral,' Christians are not too popular either. It may be that Europe retains more of its barbarian heritage, its paganism, than anyone would like to admit.

    Lev Nussimbaum, with a fascinating history from a region that looked hopefully multiethnic in 1900, is worth knowing, as well as his bittersweet novel 'Ali and Nino.'

    5-0 out of 5 stars Bringing the tapestry of history to life
    What a great "can't put it down"ead.

    Mr. Reiss describes the rich tapestry of social and political life in Europe and the Middle East which produced conditions which brought Hitler to pass.All this is woven through a tale of the life of a man as complex and complicated as the times in which he lived. ... Read more


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

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

    Reviews (107)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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