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181. Commander in Chief: Abraham Lincoln
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182. Queen Victoria's Family: A Century
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184. Ataturk: The Biography of the
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181. Commander in Chief: Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War
by Albert Marrin
list price: $25.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0525458220
Catlog: Book (1997-11-01)
Publisher: Dutton Books
Sales Rank: 868174
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Much more than a biography of Lincoln or a history of the Civil War, this portrait of Lincoln makes our sixteenth president accessible to young readers as a human being, rather than as a historic icon or paragon of virtue. The author, renowned for his award-winning books on great leaders, shows how a principled but imperfect man -- full of intelligence but also of sorrow,logical and determined but also cautious and prejudiced grew under the pressure of personal tragedy and national crisis to become our greatest president.The book is written in a quick-flowing, engaging style, detailed but easy to read. The author effortlessly uses eyewitness accounts -- letters, speeches,diaries, newspapers, poems, songs, memoirs -- to create setting, to show personality, political climate, to give voice to the attitudes and hopes of everyday Americans. The treatment of slavery is especially vivid. All the important events of the war are here, but the emphasis is on people, personalities, human feelings and behavior.As the historian Barbara Fields made clear in the Ken Burns documentary on the Civil War, the issues of that war are still with us. Perhaps never more than now do young people need to be exposed to the unfailing humanity, honesty, and political sagacity that allowed Lincoln to hold together a country racked by secession, racial hatred, and other divisions. Lincoln had that most uy76precious of all human qualities -- the capacity for growth. His life reminds us that any person can learn from experience and rise above poverty, prejudice, and limitation; and that a political leader can and must embody a profound respect forthe plain peopleand the democratic processes that elevate us all. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Human Side of Lincoln
For the first time, I came to know Lincoln not as an iconified hero, but as a funny, direct, engaging and committed human being as I read this book. The author has thorough notes of very detailed research and tells a story that others omitted or overlooked. It made me want to read much more about Lincoln, especially more of the piercing wit and emotional perseverance shared in this book. ... Read more

182. Queen Victoria's Family: A Century of Photographs 1840-1940
by Charlotte Zeepvat
list price: $18.95
our price: $18.95
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Asin: 0750930594
Catlog: Book (2003-06-01)
Publisher: Sutton Publishing
Sales Rank: 152814
Average Customer Review: 4.82 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wow! As good as it gets...
"Queen Victoria's Family" by Charlotte Zeepvat is a wonderful book, one of the best books I ever read. I like Queen Victoria very much and have already read so many books about her and her family, but this is my special favorite. Because of the fantastic pictures Victoria and her family become alive again in this book. I think there is no other book about Victoria with so many and such beautiful pictures. Besides, I can say that Charlotte Zeepvat is an excellent author, her other book about Queen Victoria's son Leopold is also great. "Queen Victoria's Family" is a must-read book for everyone who is interested in this topic. Read it, you will be as enthusiastic about it as I am.

5-0 out of 5 stars Magnificent
Absolutely the ultimate book for photographs of Queen Victoria's extended family. Not only are the pictures wonderful but the author's captions put them in context and it is very easy to follow relationships within family lines.

5-0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
Absolutely remarkable. Charlotte Zeepvat takes the reader into the lives of Queen Victoria and her family with the amazing photographs, both candid and formal. The pictures are rare. They are well organized and have excellent captions. Zeepvat is a great writer/historian and I recommend her books to all.

5-0 out of 5 stars What a photo collection!
There are certain photos that I simply expect to see when perusing volumes about European royalty. However, upon receiving Zeepvat's book, I was thrilled to find so many rarely seen photos of some of the more obscure descendants of the "Grandmother of Europe." If you're a royalty buff like I am, you can spend hours immersed in this marvelous book and its detailed family trees.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book
for those interested in royalty. While some of these photos can be found in many different books, some of them I've seen for the first time. Queen Victoria's decendants are so numerous and belong to so many different royal houses. Definitely a worthwhile purchase! ... Read more

by Dennis Hutchinson
list price: $30.00
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Asin: 0684827948
Catlog: Book (1998-07-12)
Publisher: Free Press
Sales Rank: 55092
Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars
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Justice Byron White had a life that could fill two biographies. As a young man, he was a national celebrity as a student athlete who excelled on both fronts. On the gridiron, he led Colorado to its first bowl game and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting; in the classroom, he earned himself a Rhodes scholarship. But he put off going to Oxford to lead the National Football League in rushing, garnering a record salary along the way.He served in World War II in the Pacific, and returned to earn another degree from Yale Law and clerk for the Supreme Court. After a year in the Kennedy administration, he was appointed to the Supreme Court, where he served three decades.

White's reputation with the press as a Supreme Court justice suffered because, despite his personal pro-choice views and desire for privacy, he dissented in Roe v. Wade and, 13 years later, wrote the majority opinion in Bowers v. Hardwick, determining that "the Constitution does not confer a fundamental right upon homosexuals to engage in sodomy," even behind closed doors.

Hutchinson argues persuasively that these opinions were the result of a consistent judicial philosophy that refused to view the judiciary as a legislature. In his dissenting opinion in Roe v. Wade, for example, White wrote, "This issue, for the most part, should be left with the people and to the political processes the people have devised to govern their affairs." And in Bowers v. Hardwick, he commented, "The Court is most vulnerable and comes nearest to illegitimacy when it deals with judge-made constitutional law having little or no cognizable roots in the language or design of the Constitution."

Dennis Hutchinson, a former clerk for White and a University of Chicago Law professor, has written a smooth-reading biography of White, although it suffers from some gaps in coverage caused by his subject's passive lack of cooperation. Although clearly sympathetic to his subject, he writes in a neutral tone that provides a thorough overview of the justice's press coverage and Supreme Court work, helped in the latter by interviews with several dozen clerks (and, no doubt, Hutchinson's own experience). A remarkable book about a remarkable man. --Ted Frank ... Read more

Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars A New Deal liberal from the Rocky Mountain front range.
Byron White began his long judicial career in dissent, resisting the rising tide of criminal procedure liberalism of the Warren Court, and ended it as the balance wheel of Rehnquist Court. In his 31 years on the Supreme Court, from 1962 to 1993, he was in the majority in 807 five-to-four decisions, more than any other justice in history, except for the wily William Brennan who served on the court for 34 years. White also has the signal distinction of being the only Democratic appointee to the Supreme Court since the end of World War II who profoundly disappointed his erstwhile partisan allies. Beyond the fact that White refused to "grow" his jurisprudence from its New Deal origins to accommodate the latest cultural avant-garde enthusiasms of the juridical left, little is known about White and his jurisprudence is widely misunderstood.

The litany of White's accomplishments and his early rise to the court serve to obscure the lines of his jurisprudence, which he never made an attempt to clarify. Hutchinson's principal accomplishment is to discern from the mass of White's opinions a sound jurisprudential framework obscured by bulk of White's output (1,275 opinions in 31 years), and in doing so refute the assertion that White was unpredictable.

Although White was popularly described as a conservative jurist, this confounds the term as it is used to describe a specific interpretive philosophy with the judicial tradition which White came to exemplify. Today judicial conservatism is virtually synonymous with "original meaning," the method of constitutional interpretation that holds that the Constitution means only what it was understood to mean by those whose assent made it law. This has certain implications, among them that the Congress's powers are limited to those enumerated, that the three branches of federal government and their powers are strictly separated, and that the states retain inviolable spheres of sovereignty. In this sense, White was not a conservative at all. Where, say, Justice Antonin Scalia would subscribe to these general notions, White would not. For instance, while Scalia believes that the law permitting the appointment of Independent Counsels violates the separation of powers doctrine (Morrison v. Olson), White sees it as a permissible experimentation with the form of government. And though Scalia believes that the powers of Congress are, however tangentially, limited (Lopez v. United States) and that the states retain areas of discretion where the Congress may not intrude (Printz v. United States), White views the powers of the Congress as essentially unlimited (Katzenbach v. McClung) and the states as retaining no sovereignty that the Congress is obliged to respect (Garcia v. San Antonio Metro. Transit Authority). Although Hutchinson views "New Deal liberal" and "pragmatist" as imperfect labels, his carefully wrought and insightful analysis of White's jurisprudence nonetheless establishes that they are fair and roughly approximate descriptions of Justice White.

In it's judicial aspect the New Deal generally sought to eliminate restrictions on the exercise of federal power. These breaks on government power were exemplified early in this century by an activist libertarian Supreme Court's invocation of natural rights and non-textual notions of substantive due process to strike economic regulation. Lochner v. New York, where the court struck down regulations on the working hours of bakers as a violation of their liberty to contract their labor, is perhaps the most famous bugbear of New Dealers. But restrictions also came in the form of the enumerated powers doctrine and in the form of early criminal procedure cases which, as Professor Akhil Reed Amar of Yale has noted, invoked natural law and private property rights, and thus restricted the government's policing powers. All of these, in one way or another, restricted federal action. Judges of New Deal era, then, had a distinctly negative ambition: To remove the restrictions on the exercise of federal power so that the Congress, acting with the Executive, could enact social reform.

The ambition of liberal judges changed, of course, with the rise of "the real Warren Court," which historian David P. Currie of the University of Chicago dates to the replacement of Justice Frankfurter by Arthur Goldberg late in 1962. "Willful judges," as Justice Scalia describes them, were no longer content with deferring to the overtly political branches, but were now eager to enact social reform themselves. The criminal procedure cases of the Warren Court were animated by the ideas that policing by the states was institutionally racist and that crime was a manifestation of disease, not evil, and should be addressed as a public health concern. Steeped in the New Deal idea of the judicial function, however, White largely dissented from Warren Court's innovations. He dissented from Miranda v Arizona, which mandated the now famous warnings to criminal suspects; prefiguring contemporary arguments, he wrote "there will not be a gain, but a loss, in human dignity" because under Miranda some criminals will be returned to the street to repeat their crimes.. White would also labor to limit the scope of rule excluding from trial illegally obtained evidence, and would dissent from Robinson v. California, where the court struck down a California statute criminalizing narcotics addiction. The court said that the state could not punish a person's "status" as an addict, only his conduct; White, sensibly enough, pointed out that addiction accrues through continuous willful behavior.

White was a pragmatist. He didn't believe that the provisions of the Bill of Rights had a "single meaning" or that constitutional provisions could be measured like the provisions of a deed, in "metes and bounds," but he was insistent that constitutional innovations be small and slow, and linked in a rational process. His father taught him that "You can't just stand on your rights all the time in a small town," and White had a lifetime aversion to "the angels of fashionable opinion," as Hutchinson memorably calls ideologues of various stripe. But White's contempt for philosophy could lead him astray. In Reitman v. Mulkey, White wrote the opinion of the court holding that California could not repeal a fair housing law because the repeal was motivated by animus toward minorities. In time, the case was precedent for the current Supreme Court's invalidation, in Romer v. Evans, of Colorado's attempt to deny homosexuals privileged legal status, and for a lower federal court to stay the implementation of California's Proposition 209, barring racial and sexual discrimination in state services. Pragmatism unguided by a philosophy lead White to judgments the long-term ill consequences of which he was not equipped to foresee.

However, White's small-step pragmatism and disdain for ideological enthusiasms kept him from joining most of the Warren and Burger Court's radical social agenda. Although he was willing to recognize, in Griswold v. Connecticut, a non-textual right to privacy permitting married couples access to contraception and even was willing to extend the right to non-married couples in Eisenstadt v. Baird, White famously and vigorously dissented from Roe v. Wade, privately telling people that he thought it was the only illegitimate decision the court made during his tenure. Perhaps just as upsetting to the votaries of judicial activism was White's majority opinion in Bowers v. Hardwick, which held that Georgia could constitutionally prohibit homosexual sodomy. White briskly dismissed the argument that homosexual activity was constitutionally protected: "[T]o claim that a right to engage in such conduct is 'deeply rooted in this nation's history and tradition' or 'implicit in the concept of ordered liberty' is, at best, facetious."

In an sense, White was precisely the type of conservative -- one who slows progress, but does not reverse it; one who ratifies the past, whatever its content -- that liberals claim they want. Except for Roe, White would later vote to reaffirm precedent, on the basis of stare decisis, with which he had earlier disagreed. And yet, few modern justices -- except, perhaps, Justice Clarence Thomas -- have been the object of so much vitriol as White. When White retired in 1993, Jeffrey Rosen of the New Republic called White "a perfect cipher" and a "mediocrity," Bruce Ackerman of Yale said he was "out of his depth," and the New York Times' Tom Wicker called him the "bitterest legacy of the Kennedy Administration." The best Calvin Trillin, writing in The Nation, could say of White was "We count his loyalty to team a boon/The other side might well select a loon" -- this in backhanded praise that White retired during a Democratic administration. These facile slurs betray the mercurial enthusiasms of the age more than they carefully trace the lineaments of Justice White's jurisprudence and are therefore more reflective of their authors than White's jurisprudence.

In many ways White is entirely alien to today's culture, popular and lega

5-0 out of 5 stars A Colorful Portrait Of A Man Named White
Hutchinson has written a fascinating contemporary biography of Justice White who is almost unique in his continued insistence on his privacy and personal dignity. Although the author eschews speculation as to White's family or personal life, one still gets a good sense of the man--his intelligence, tenacity, and just plain decency. At least as interesting are the times he lived in, and few lawyers or judges have shared the action and passion of their times more fully than Justice White--first on the gridiron, then in the classroom, in the world of affairs, and on the court. White had his shortcomings as a communicator and legal theorist, as Hutchinson aptly illustrates with the oral and written record. But would that our society had more such self-effacing, dedicated and excellent lawyers and public servants!

2-0 out of 5 stars This book did not include enough analysis.
This book was a disappointment. I think that with the recent comprehensive late 20th Century biographies, such as the recent ones about Rockefeller and Lindbergh and Nigel Hamilton's Reckless Youth, we have come to expect the biographer to do a thorough investigation and analysis of the circumstances that impacted the subject. While I do not expect a Freudian approach in every case (and would probably object to it if done expressly), I welcome gentle suggestions that link early events in the subject's life with the later, more well known, events. This analysis was missing from Whizzer (with the exception of the origins of his hatred for the press). The book reads as if it is a collection of on-line newspapers searches, ones that I could have done myself if NEXIS had newspapers dating back to the 30s. Didn't anybody keep a diary? Didn't anybody write letters? Didn't anybody have any introspective thoughts? To those who say that this type of analysis is not necessary for a judicial biography, I direct them to John Jeffrey's book about Powell, which I thought was very well done, and a good model for what a judicial biography can be.

3-0 out of 5 stars Insightful analysis of a very private man
Generally the book is good, but I would have liked to see less excessive detail about the football days -- college and professional. Half the book is devoted to this, including vital statistics of key games. (But if your interested in the earliest days of professional football this is a must read.) The scope of White's responsibilities with the Kennedy Justice department focused nearly exclusively on civil rights -- wasn't there more to his role and contributions? The author used three Supreme Court terms (out of 30+) to explore and elucidate White's jurisprudence. I would have like to see 2/3 less sports and 2/3 more Supreme Court. In the end, White's tightly focused and methodical approach has a value that I hope more Justices and judges adopt. Although he wasn't poetic or espoused ground-shaking social changes, his substantive value to the American legal system is widely misunderstood and underestimated, as Hutchison clearly documents. Lastly, we learn how much White disapproved of his nickname. It's a shame that the primary title had to force the name again on this proud man.

5-0 out of 5 stars An interesting book about a great Supreme Court Justice.
This is the first full-scale book about the most interesting Supreme Court Justice of the 20th Century. This book, which I just received from Amazon, provides a wonderful picture of a man whose accomplishments, on and off the bench, are truly amazing. A must read for anyone interested in the law, politics, American history or the Supreme Court. ... Read more

184. Ataturk: The Biography of the Founder of Modern Turkey
by Andrew Mango
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 158567334X
Catlog: Book (2002-11-01)
Publisher: Overlook Press
Sales Rank: 23766
Average Customer Review: 4.16 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In this major new biography of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and the first to appear in English based on Turkish sources, Andrew Mango strips away the myth, to show the complexities of one of the most visionary, influential, and enigmatic statesmen of the century. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was virtually unknown until 1919, when he took the lead in thwarting the victorious Allies' plan to partition the Turkish core of the Ottoman Empire. He divided the Allies, defeated the last Sultan, and secured the territory of the Turkish national state, becoming the first president of the new republic in 1923, fast creating his own legend.

Andrew Mango's revealing portrait of Atatürk throws light on matters of great importance today-resurgent nationalism, religious fundamentalism, and the reality of democracy.
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Reviews (25)

5-0 out of 5 stars The best biography of Ataturk ever written
What a wonderful book. Over the years, I have read three other biographies of Ataturk, and I can honestly say that this one is the best. For those who are unfamiliar with the history of the final days of the Ottoman Empire, and the initial days of the Turkish republic, the book gives a great history lesson, while at the the same time, telling the story of a remarkable life. The book goes into extreme detail with regard to the principle players in Ataturk's life, and gives a summary of the careers of those individuals at the end of the book as well. Mr. Mango has obviously spent many hours researching and interviewing people to compile the facts and information necessary to decribe the life of the greatest leader of the 20th century. I highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in Turkish/Ottoman history. Hopefully someday a proper documentery/movie will be produced so the western world can see what a great man Kemal Ataturk really was.

5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful, Unrivalled Achievement
Certainly, I am not the only Turk who feels indebted to Andrew Mango for his wonderful biography of a man whom the west could know more about. However, before reading this scholarly, thoroughly researched and authoritative book about Ataturk, those who are not familiar with the history of Ottoman Turkey could read as a primer Lord Kinross' "A History of the Ottoman Centuries".

In a gesture of gratitude, the Turkish Parliament in 1927 conferred on Mustafa Kemal the surname Ataturk which means "Father Turk". To this day, Turks revere Mustafa Kemal Ataturk because his vision, courage and leadership eventually saved the country from invasion and extinction as a nation. Ataturk's progressive reforms have allowed Turkey to develop into the modern nation it is today. Even his ardent critics in Turkey enjoy freedom today because of Ataturk's life long dedication and service for his country.

This book is a gem, a rich source of information about the life and times of Kemal Ataturk. Anyone who is interested in further understanding the character of this brilliant soldier, the architect of the Turkish Republic and a rare individual whose spirit is alive and well in Turkey today should read this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Man, A Vision, A Country
Andrew Mango first gives his readers an excellent introduction to the declining Ottoman Empire so that they better understand where Mustapha Kemal Atatürk was coming from. The Ottoman Realm, though modernizing slowly, no longer had the means to live up to its ambitions and was shrinking fast under pressure of competing empires and nascent states at the end of the nineteenth century. Furthermore, the Ottoman State was undermined internally by increasingly restive minorities that no longer accepted their subservient condition, as well as, by part of the elite that was dissatisfied with the perceived backwardness and incompetence of the Ottoman ruling class. Born in Salonica in today's Greece around 1880 in a Muslim, Turkish-speaking and middle-class family, Atatürk early on made up his mind to join the westernizing army and thereby discard the external signs of oriental life.

Mango narrates with mastery the steady progress that Atatürk, a successful and popular student, made during his military education. Work was all that mattered to Atatürk. Atatürk became a politically savvy professional soldier while studying hard during his years of military education in Istanbul, the imperial capital. After his admission to the prestigious Staff College at 21, Atatürk kept in touch with his military friends who were assigned elsewhere, a circle that would reveal its greatest usefulness in the accession of Atatürk to the highest post of Modern Turkey two decades later. Because of his subversive political activities, Atatürk was assigned not to Europe but to the Near East after finishing his studies in 1904. Mango does a great job in giving background information, which helps readers understand the environment in which Atatürk was bound to as a soldier while he actively remained involved in politics through his connections in the empire before, during and after WWI. In 1908, the Society of Union and Progress, of which Atatürk became a member, served as the launching path for the Young Turks in their successful military coup. Atatürk understood very fast that the Young Turks, even with the help of Germany later on, were not up to the task to save the empire from its ultimate downfall after the end of WWI. Atatürk was still too junior to play a key role in the new administration. As usual, Atatürk was critical of the new ones on top because he alone deserved to be leader.

From 1911, Atatürk, still an obscure officer, progressively rose to preeminence. Atatürk first tried to quell rebellions in the disintegrating empire before WWI. Atatürk then illustrated his military superiority when he decisively helped ruin the allied venture at Gallipoli in 1915. After a new promotion in 1916, Atatürk, very resentful of the Germans for continuously meddling into military operations from the beginning, spent two agitated years in the Near East where he did what he could to slow down the advance of the allies until the end of WWI. Officers who ultimately played a key role in the War of Independence were placed under his command during these two years. After the armistice in 1918, Atatürk proved to be the most effective of all Ottoman officers who refused the diktats of the victorious allies and thwarted their efforts to carve up the territory of Modern Turkey into pieces. Mango clearly explained how with the help of other nationalist officers, Atatürk turned Anatolia into a redoubt of resistance while accommodating the decadent rule of the sultan in the short term. Atatürk also progressively centralized all military and political levers of power in his hands through shrewd maneuvering. Mango is brutally honest about the enlightened despotism of Atatürk. Modern Turkey needed a strong regime to impose its legitimacy both internally and externally.

It took Atatürk and his army several grueling years before they could finally defeat the Greeks militarily and thereby commanding the grudging respect of the remaining divided allies. The signature of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 was a personal triumph for Atatürk by making the humiliating Treaty of Sevres of 1920 associated with the discredited old regime almost totally obsolete. As George Curzon, a British imperial statesman, noted at the end of the conference: "Hitherto we have dictated our peace treaties. Now we are negotiating one with an enemy who has an army while we have none, an unheard of position." The Treaty of Lausanne, still in existence, has been the most successful and the most lasting of all the post-war treaties. Atatürk was 42 years old when he became the first president of Modern Turkey. He assumed this position until his premature death in 1938. Mango never bores his audience when he overviews the successful and not-so-successful revolutionary reforms that Atatürk enacted during the successive terms of his presidency. Unsurprisingly, Modern Turks still revere Atatürk for westernizing and modernizing at high speed their country at its creation in 1923.

In present times, the adhesion of Turkey and United Cyprus to the European Union should be a fitting tribute to western-bound Kemalism. In addition, this adhesion should help engineer a historic reconciliation between Greece and Turkey, two key U.S. allies. On top of that, Turkey is called to play a key role as a bridge between the European Union and a would-be Islamic Union. Turkey has been an anchor of stability for over 80 years in the most volatile region of the world and has demonstrated with a growing success how to marry democracy, economic liberalism and Islam with one another. Unsurprisingly, Islamic terrorists have had Turkey on their hitting list for this reason.

2-0 out of 5 stars Interesting subject ruined by inferior narrative ability
This is a very interesting topic that has been under-scrutinized in western sources. Mr. Mango has done excellent research, but the narrative is jumbled and difficult to follow. Most egregiously, the author is the equivalent of a dyslexic grasshopper with ADHD-- he tends to switch subjects frequently, often in the middle of paragraphs.

I have no quibble with his facts, but Mr. Mango has done a worse than average job of presenting a fascinating story. This book was a disappointment and not worth the money spent even at half price.

A smaller complaint has to do with the maps -- more could have been done to show maps in the course of the narrative. A bigger complaint is that Mango (has) (never) (met) (a) (parenthesis) (that) (he) (didn't) (love) (to) (use).

Bottom line: if you're already versed in the subject and are looking for another resource, it's fine. If you're reading it to learn something about Mustafa Kemal for fun/interest, you will be an unpleasant combination of bored and confused.

5-0 out of 5 stars Superb! Ataturk is a fascinating read
I'm a Canadian half-Turk who has been fascinated by Turkish and Balkan history. Though I've read Kinross and some of the primary sources in Turkish, this book is a highly informative and bold account of early 20th century Turkish history with Ataturk as the main character but with many other personas in sharp focus. From the influence due to the rabid and hysterical propaganda of the politicians among the Armenian-American diaspora (note: not the regular people, especially our younger generation), it is hard to debate about these issues and even consider some of the historical characters objectively in the US. Mango does this bravely (not worried about denting his book sales) and in a scholarly fashion, but the book as as engrossing as a masterfully worked novel, so even if you aren't well versed in Turkish history it will be an enjoyable read. This should be a textbook in business school courses, as Ataturk was one of the best managers in recent history. ... Read more

185. Ulysses S. Grant (The American Presidents)
by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Josiah Bunting
list price: $20.00
our price: $13.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805069496
Catlog: Book (2004-09-08)
Publisher: Times Books
Sales Rank: 1870
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Book Description

The underappreciated presidency of the military man who won the Civil War and then had to win the peace as well

As a general, Ulysses S. Grant is routinely described in glowing terms-the man who turned the tide of the Civil War, who accepted Lee's surrender at Appomattox, and who had the stomach to see the war through to final victory. But his presidency is another matter-the most common word used to characterize it is "scandal." Grant is routinely portrayed as a man out of his depth, whose trusting nature and hands-off management style opened the federal coffers to unprecedented plunder. But that caricature does not do justice to the realities of Grant's term in office, as Josiah Bunting III shows in this provocative assessment of our eighteenth president.

Grant came to Washington in 1869 to lead a capital and a country still bitterly divided by four years of civil war. His predecessor, Andrew Johnson, had been impeached and nearly driven from office, and the radical Republicans in Congress were intent on imposing harsh conditions on the Southern states before allowing them back into the Union. Grant made it his priority to forge the states into a single nation, and Bunting shows that despite the troubles that characterized Grant's terms in office, he was able to accomplish this most important task-very often through the skillful use of his own popularity with the American people. Grant was indeed a military man of the highest order, and he was a better president than he is often given credit for.
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186. The Life of Andrew Jackson (Perennial Classics)
by Robert V. Remini
list price: $18.00
our price: $12.24
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Asin: 0060937351
Catlog: Book (2001-09-01)
Publisher: Perennial
Sales Rank: 23678
Average Customer Review: 3.75 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The classic one-volume biography of Andrew Jackson

Robert V. Remini's prizewinning, three-volumn biography, The Life of Andrew Jackson, won the National Book Award upon it's completion in 1984. Now, Remini captures the essence of the life and career of the seventh president of the United States in the meticulously crafted single-volume abridgement.

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Reviews (16)

3-0 out of 5 stars An all too brief summary of Jackson's life.
"The Life of Andrew Jackson," written in 1988, is an abridgment of Robert V. Remini's masterful three-volume Jackson biography comprised of "Andrew Jackson: The Course of American Empire;" " Andrew Jackson: The Course of American Freedom;" and "Andrew Jackson: The Course of American Democracy."

Normally, I shy away from reading single volume abridgments of multi-volume works. In this particular case, I ended up reading the shorter version AFTER I had finished Remini's longer, more detailed triptych. As abridgments go, "The Life of Andrew Jackson" is decently written. It encapsulates the long and controversial life of Andrew Jackson clearly and succinctly. Unfortunately, it has one glaring flaw: it lacks much of the fine detail I look for in presidential biographies.

Exactly who was this extraordinary man who became our nation's chief executive? Born in 1767 in South Carolina, Jackson was Revolutionary War hero by age 12. As a young man, in Tennessee, he became a lawyer, judge, major general of the Tennessee militia. He made his fortune as a land speculator; married the great love of his life, Rachel Donelson. He killed at least two men while fighting several duels; the wounds he received while duelling caused him lifelong pain.

Jackson gained national stature as a military hero. His most famous victory came on January 8, 1815, at the end of the War of 1812. It was there he led American forces to an overwhelming victory over the British in the Battle of New Orleans.

After losing in the 1824 Presidential election to John Quincy Adams, Jackson was elected President of the United States in 1828; a champion of majority rule in America, he passionately believed that the office of President was the only one that represented all the people, and that the president must be obedient to the will of all the people. Jackson's party became the Democratic party that lasts to this day. His political opponents became "National Republicans," then "Whigs," and finally, in the 1850's, the Republican party that exists today.

When Andrew Jackson died in 1845, at age 78, his legacy was vast indeed. He left behind an America transformed by democratic principles; a nation which had taken its rightful place among the nations of the world; a nation of peace and prosperity. But, also a nation about to be riven by the simmering dual controversies of states' rights and slavery.

Robert V. Remini's biographies of Andrew Jackson are imbued with the highest degree of scholarship, and brilliantly capture the essence of this towering figure in early nineteenth century history. Because Remini uses a wonderfully conversational writing style, the pace of the story never flags and the reading never becomes dry or stuffy. That's true even when Remini discusses political and economic issues.

"The Life of Andrew Jackson's" primary flaw is its brevity. I think Remini cut far too much detail from this abridgment to do Jackson the level of justice he deserves. It touches too lightly on many aspects of Jackson's life and times. I got the feeling that "The Life of Andrew Jackson" was deliberately left too short in order to encourage readers to opt for the three-volume set.

If you only want to familiarize yourself with the basics of Andrew Jackson, without going into any substantial detail, "The Life of Andrew Jackson" is the ideal book for you. You'll find a neat, brief encapsulation of the man and the President. If you'd like the broader, "meatier," more detailed story of our nation's 7th president: skip "The Life of Andrew Jackson" and go directly to Remini's much longer but much more detailed three-volume biography.

4-0 out of 5 stars An engaging, eminently readable snapshot
This is a gripping, well-written chronological account of Jackson's life from his 1767 birth in South Carolina to his death at the Hermitage in 1845. With a gifted, engaging literary style, Remini paints a series of memorable portraits of all the major scenes in Jackson's life. For instance, the opening pages describing the Battle of New Orleans are filled with more tension and excitement than most fiction!

Remini's literary, impressionistic style works most of the time, but for the complex political issues that come up when Jackson is president a bit more analysis would be useful. For instance, Remini describes in detail Jackson's hatred of the Bank of the United States, but never goes into any detailed discussion about whether this hatred was justified or the putative wrong-doings of the Bank. In that sense, the book is incomplete.

Some reviewers have worried that Remini overlooks the horrible fate of the Native Americans under Jackson's rule, such as the forced relocation of Native Americans to reservations west of the Mississippi. I must differ with these reviewers. For instance, in summarizing Jackson's treatment of the Native Americans, Remini says:

The removal of the American Indians was one of the most significant and tragic acts of the Jackson administration. It was accomplished in total violation not only of American principles of justice and law but of Jackson's own strict code of conduct (this is from p. 219).

Finally, to Remini's credit as an editor, the fact that this is a distilled version of his own three-volume work on Jackson never comes through. I would recommend 'The Life of Andrew Jackson' to anyone who wants an introduction to Andrew Jackson's personal and political lives, and doesn't mind missing out on some of finer political complexities of Jackson's time.

1-0 out of 5 stars Andy,..quite a man
Better than fiction, just good reading, entertaining and interesting.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sad to be finished...felt like I knew the man
I enjoyed every page of this biography. Jackson was an amazing man, who, like Theodore Roosevelt, wore so many hats during his lifetime, frontiersman (sorta), attorney, congressman, general, war hero, President...rebellious at times, pensive and practical at others...born out of the families of Ulster, this Scots-Irish president was one our greatest American gems.

The book made me wish I had read the whole three volume, unabridged version. The writing at times was a bit akward, not sure if the author is from the US or Europe, but otherwise well written, specific, full of footnotes, quotes, etc. Gives you a real feel for what was going on. I'm off to Madison and Monroe.

4-0 out of 5 stars Electrifying!
After Washington and Lincoln, Andrew Jackson is possibly the most important President in American history, and the most over looked. This book is an abridgement of the author's three volume biography that took 15 years to write. But unlike other abridgements, this one is really quite excellent.

Our first populist president, the first one to truly break the choke hold Virginia's aristocracy had on the formation and development of the early republic, Andrew Jackson was the first Chief Executive to put the American people first.

Remini's Jackson is a man of incredible contrasts. Egotistical yet selfless, hateful yet tender, his devotion to his country is so intense that it borders on chauvinistic. Reckless in the extreme, his explosive temper makes one wonder how he managed to accomplish anything at all. Yet his accomplishments are so paramount and his impact on the development of the early United States so indelible that he has managed to leave a legacy of goodness, of uncorrupted power, second to none.

We should all know more about Andrew Jackson. More than any other President he stood fast for the American people. God help the person or country that stood in the way of his serving his people and defending his Nation. ... Read more

187. The Power Broker : Robert Moses and the Fall of New York
list price: $21.95
our price: $15.36
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394720245
Catlog: Book (1975-07-12)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 4033
Average Customer Review: 4.86 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The story of Robert Moses, who shaped the politics, the physical structure and even the problems of urban decline in New York. ... Read more

Reviews (74)

5-0 out of 5 stars Political power primer
This massive work, published in 1975, is unfortunately just as timely today as it was a quarter century ago. It is the story of Robert Moses, arguably one of the most important and influential men of the second half of the 20th century. He, for better or for worse, gave us our models for the modern highway transportation system and wielded enormous power in the city and state of New York -- without ever being elected to a single public office.

At 1,162 pages, Caro's work will undoubtedly always face the charge that it needed editing. But to address large themes, a writer needs to expand, and Caro does, brilliantly for the most part. "The Power Broker" takes on the question of whether democracy in America really works. Using Moses' life as a model, the answer is "no." Moses began as a passionate believer in reform, a man who wanted to end favoritism and corruption in New York. Yet early on he concluded that to "get things done," he needed to beat the power-wielders at their own game, and he did. He built an enormous network of influence that included politicians, unions, banks and big business. And he used that power to build the most enormous transportation system in the nation, often over the objections of elected officials.

But the book also makes clear the cost of power. For one thing, there were political losers. Moses was ruthless in his attacks on those who opposed him, often lowering himself to attacking character. Mass transportation was a loser during the time Moses wielded power. He considered the automobile the premier mode of transportation, and he steadfastly refused to accommodate plans for subway, bus, and train improvements. And the poor and working class were losers in Moses' power game. He had no respect for the poor, particularly those with dark skin, and he ruthlessly destroyed their neighborhoods in his grand building schemes.

In the end, we have all lost because of Moses' vision. His idea that we can solve transportation problems by building more and more roads, bridges and infrastructure to accommodate commuters who live farther and farther from the places they work has carried the day, and those of us who live in medium-sized and big cities continue to suffer for it with every minute we lose in traffic.

Tremendous book -- grand in its vision, grand in its documentation, grand in its achievement.

5-0 out of 5 stars There and back again (but not on the Long Island Expressway)
I first picked up The Power Broker when it was published 25 years ago. Since then I've re-read it three or four times over the years. It is a true monument to Caro that this book has remained in print in both hc and pb over these years.

This massive work is at the same time a biography of Robert Moses and the metropolitan New York City area. Moses, originally a reformer and a true public servant, somehow became tainted by the power entrusted to him. It was his way or no way -- and once he became firmly entrenched there was no "no way." A typical Moses tactic: design a great public work (bridge, for example) and underestimate the budget. A bargain sure to be approved and funded by the politicians! Then run out of money halfway through construction. The rest of the money will surely be forthcoming because no politician wants to be associated with a half-finished and very visibile "failure" -- it's much better to take credit for an "against the odds" success.

I grew up in NYC at the tail end of Moses' influence and I remember the 1964 Worlds Fair in NYC vividly, especially a "guidebook" that lionized Moses' construction prowess. In school, Moses' contribution was also taught (always positively) when we had units covering NYC history. If nothing else, Moses understood the power of good publicity, and used tactics later adopted by the current mayor (King Rudy) to control the press and public opinion. This book brings Moses back to human scale and deconstructs (no pun intended) his impact on the city.

The book is long, detailed, and compelling. Great beach reading -- especially at Jones Beach! Now that it is celebrating its 25th anniversary, a new retrospective afterword from the author would be appreciated (perhaps a reprint of the article he wrote for the New Yorker a few years ago on how he wrote the book).

An interesting counterpoint to this biography of Moses is The Great Bridge by David McCollough. This story of a great public works project is also a biography of the Roeblings, the family of engineers who designed and built it. They shared Moses' singlemindedness, but the methods and results had far less negative results.

5-0 out of 5 stars Let them eat highways
After reading this book you might well wonder how this arrogant public servant escaped prison. You might want to petition to have every park and roadway that is named after him renamed! On the other hand Robert Caro makes the case for how and why Robert Moses was able to do what he did extremely understandable, and even, inevitable to a point.

In the early years, as Caro rightly points out, Robert Moses' vision helped the city out of its doldrums of the Great Depression. He offered hope and a future when the present seemed so doubtful. At what point did Moses shift from a true visionary to a ruthless, megalomaniacal autocrat? To a neighborhood-squashing tyrant without conscience? There is no one event or series of events to explain this change, and Caro wisely avoids claiming there is. That is not his concern, anyway. What Caro does map out are the paths of destruction that Moses gouged through the metropolitan area. The interviews and extended quotations are very revealing, almost chilling. Moses's sang froid about New Yorkers--and how he cultivated it for half a century--defies reason. Yet this book, "The Power Broker" is as close to an understanding of Robert Moses as we'll ever get.

5-0 out of 5 stars Power corrupts . . .
The Power Broker by Robert Caro deftly weaves together a myriad of stories, histories, biographies and sociological trends into a fascinating narrative on the development of New York City and the man who guided, controlled and ultimately placed an indelible stamp on the physical layout of modern world capital.

Robert Moses, a man of considerable intellectual capacity and enormous energy, demonstrates also an insatiable appetite for political power. His flaw is his fundamental dislike for the people he serves. The type of power he seeks is not that based in electoral competition and consent of the governed but that of bureaucratic power in the service of the most powerful segments of society. Having once attained power, he employs all of the tools at his disposal to become the indispensable man, repeatedly challenging his politically elected, nominal bosses to fire him. His ability to continue in office through repeated changes in leadership is a testament to his tenacity and ruthlessness. He then uses the appointed positions he has attained to acquire others.

One of his early positions is as an aide to Al Smith in the New York Legislature. Here he learns to write laws and, using his considerable talents masters the arcane art of drafting legislation. This serves him well in later years as he cajoles and bullies legislators to create special districts, which have as the head of the district whoever is currently the head of the Long Island State Parks Commission. Who might that be? You guessed it.

His power continues to grow through the century and his influence on the growth of New York is inescapable. That he may have done a lot of good is a question open for debate. Are the results of an undemocratic and in many ways authoritarian process good? Do the ends justify the means? He may have been able to "get the job done" and "he made the vaunted bureaucracy of city hall bend to his wishes" but he did so in highly disagreeable and bullying way. It is also a testament to his personality that Robert Moses continually went out of his way to sabotage the career of his brother and to the day he died, his only brother hated him.

It is only when he runs up against Nelson Rockefeller that he meets his match. Here Moses has an adversary with equally developed ego and with enormous resources to take him on. Indeed, the bonded funding for much of Moses' projects came from the Rockefeller controlled Chase Manhattan Bank. It is this leverage that Rockefeller use to finally push Moses out of power.

An incredibly well written book. Highly detailed and long with a densely layered structure.. This is one long book that I did not want to end.

John C. McKee

4-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, but imbalanced

Although this book is over 1300 pages, Caro does an extraordinary job chronicling the life of Robert Moses. This book is a real page turner and you can't help but be inspired and repulsed by what Robert Moses did.

This book's main flaw is its relentlessly negative view of Robert Moses. It is true that Moses permanently altered the relationship between New York City and the suburbs. He destroyed vital neighborhoods and undermined the stability of surrounding areas. However, it is a mistake to say (as Caro does) that Moses was the sole cause of what happened afterwards. Suburbanization (and urban renewal, but that's another topic!) after the Second World War was encouraged by all levels of government. To put it another way, if Moses hadn't built the highways (and cleared the "slums"), someone else would have.

In reality, the long-term stability of American cities was undermined by VA mortgages (often cheaper than renting), red lining, cheap oil and the interstate highways. Common wisdom says that the race riots "caused" suburbanization. The truth is that suburbanization was already far advanced in 1965; the riots merely sped up the process. Incidentally, 1965 was the year of the Watts riots, the first major urban disturbance in the 1960s.

Despite the anti-Moses bias of this book, I'm still giving it four stars because it is such a good read! For a more detailed examination of New York's problems in the late 20th Century, I suggest "Geography of Nowhere" by James Howard Kunstler, "The Ungovernable City" by Vincent Cannato, "The Assassination of New York" by Robert Fitch, and the 1961 classic "The Life and Death of American Cities" by Jane Jacobs. ... Read more

188. The Lord God Made Them All (Lord God Made Them All)
by James Herriot
list price: $7.99
our price: $7.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312966202
Catlog: Book (1998-09-15)
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Sales Rank: 6330
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

With each book more embraceable than the last, James Herriot once again brings us the magical beauty of Yorkshire through his heartwarming experiences as a country veterinarian. These new stories provide a grand finale to the wonderful books that began with all Creatures Great and Small.

It is just after World War II, and James has returned from the R.A.F. to do battle with the diseases and injuries that befall the farm animals and pets of Skeldale and the surrounding moors. Four-year-old Jimmy Herriot, Humphrey Cobb and his little beagle Myrtle, Norman the book-loving veterinary assistant, and many more new faces join old favorites among the green hills of Yorkshire, as James takes an unforgettable voyage to Russia on a freighter with 383 pedigreed sheep. Touching our hearts with laughter and wisdom, lifting our spirits with compassion and goodness, James Herriot never fails to delight.
... Read more

Reviews (8)

3-0 out of 5 stars A Fitting Conclusion
My wife and I just finished reading the whole series of four Herriot books. I think that the first one (_All Creatures Great and Small_) is probably the best one overall. The author probably put the best stories he knew into his first book. But there are several delightful stories spread through the later books, and all four make for enjoyable reading.

This book has a couple unique features. One is that the author goes on a couple international adventures traveling as caretaker of some overseas animal shipments. These are interesting travel stories on their own. Also in this book we meet James' children and see them grow up to some degree.

_The Lord God Made Them All_ is a fittingly warm and pleasant conclusion to a really enjoyable series of books.

5-0 out of 5 stars a beloved memoir
James Herriot once again takes you on a magical journey through his whimsical hamlet of Yorkshire Dales, stealing your heart at every stop along the way. Anyone who picks up this book will be immediately captivated by the depth of love and respect for animals that embodies all of Herriot's books. Every character you meet, be it human or animal, will tug your heartstrings in a manner that you never expected from such a humble book whose clear honesty parallels that of the other books in an unforgettable series. You don't have to be an animal crazed lover like me to enjoy the simple joys of this book- it is definitely a cherished read, you won't regret it!

3-0 out of 5 stars Good compilation of vignettes
I read James Herriot's first four books when I was a child. Now in my 30's, I recently picked up his fifth book. I was struck by how these stories are ostensibly about animals, but say vastly more about their human owners and the need for companionship. Herriot's writing style is appropriately simple and unadorned, which atcually helps increase the impact of his stories. However, his writing can be a bit at times. There really is not a plot, just a selection of stories from his years as a a vet and resident of a small Yorkshire town.

Unfortunately, he jumps around in time a bit too much (from 1947 to the mid-1950s). For example, he includes journal passages from trips he has taken as a vet escorting animals for sale to other countries. These stories are fairly interesting, but don't really belong here and are interspersed between all the other stories, further leading to a lack of context. Overall, a worthwhile, but flawed book that is significantly buoyed by Herriot's obvious love of animals and their owners.

5-0 out of 5 stars Heck of a Book
James Herriot is a remarkable author. He proves this once again in the last of his set of novels, The Lord God Made Them All. In it Herriot tells us maore heartwarming tales of his life as a Yorkshire veterinarian. He writes very down to earth, which allows readers to relate to his stories very well. Especially in this book. Herriot not only writes about his experiences as a vet , but about becoming a father, and experiences he has while his children are young. An old client of Herriot once tells him, "Aye, there's no doubt about it, when your children are young and growin' up around ye- that's when it's best. It's the same for everybody, only a lot o'folk don't know it and a lot find out when it's too late."(369) James also writes about his voyage to Russia on a freighter with a bunch of pedigree sheep. And his journey to Istanbul which was supposed to be luxurous and relaxing. Needless to say, it was far from that. Nevertheless, as in all his stories, Herriot is able to turn them around to make us laugh and fill us with wisdom. After reading the book, I have aquired a better apprecition of life, and high hopes for the future. You can't help but think that way when he ends the book with the words, "....there are great days ahead!"

5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome!
Well, what can i say? This is one of the books that made me think about changing my job to become a vet! The stories are great, the caracthers are full of life. James Herriot writes beatiful stories. In one storie you laugh, in the next you cry. This whole series is a must for everyone! ... Read more

189. Berlioz: Volume One: The Making of an Artist, 1803-1832
by David Cairns
list price: $60.00
our price: $60.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0520221990
Catlog: Book (2000-03-06)
Publisher: University of California Press
Sales Rank: 636048
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This biography of composer Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) describeswithunprecedented intimacy, affection, and respect the lifeof one ofFrance's greatest artists. After long being regarded as an oddity and an eccentric figure, Berlioz is now being accepted into the ranks of the great composers. Based on a wealth of previously unpublished sources, and on aprofoundunderstanding of the humanity of his subject, David Cairns's bookprovides a fullaccount of this extraordinary and powerfully attractive man. Berlioz, Volume I, previouslypublished only in Britain, is nowavailable toAmerican readers in a revised edition, together with the eagerlyawaited, newVolume II. These two volumes together comprise a monumentalbiographical achievement,sure to stand as the definitive Berlioz biography.

In researching Berlioz's life, Cairns has had access to unpublished family papers, and in Volume Ihe is able to portray all the people close toBerlioz in his boyhood,and to evoke a detailed picture of their lives in andaround La Cte St.-Andr in thefoothills of the French Alps. No artist'sachievement connects more directly with earlyexperience than that of Berlioz,whose passionate sensibility began to absorb the materialof his art longbefore he had heard any musical ensemble other than the local townband.Volume I also traces the student years in Paris and Italy and discussesBerlioz'sthree great love affairs, shedding remarkable light on his latercharacter anddevelopment. Volume I ends on the afternoon of December 9,1832, the day of the concertthat launched the composer's career. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant portrait of a complex man, vol. 1
An amazing biography. A work such as this will most likely appeal to only 1 out of 100,000 Amazon customers, but those who read it will never forget it, and once having read it will listen to Berlioz's music with a knowing insider's grin.

Cairns has done what is extremely difficult: he has created an easy-to-read, engaging, yet methodical and thorough modern biography in English of a composer who was born 200 years ago and whose paper trail was written entirely in French. The book has good humor but is not fawning or hagiographic.

A little note (pun intended): this is about Berlioz the man, and not about Berlioz as an ethnomusicologist's project. In other words, this is the study of a young man and how he came to know and create music, but not about that music per se.

Bonne lecture!

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Scholar
David Cairns is a great Berlioz scholar. Like to meet him someday. His translation of "Memoirs" is much superior to Newmans.I bought the 1st volume of the biography some years ago when it first came out and the second a couple of years ago when it was first published. I revisit these volumes frequently. Berlioz was one of the really great romantics. At least 50 years before his time. Glad to see SF opera is planning on staging Cellini & B & B over the next few years. Sixtus Beckmesser

5-0 out of 5 stars Incredible.
This really is one of the best biographies of any subject to come my way.I didn't know a lot of Berlioz's music before approaching this but it didn't actually matter.All the elements of a gripping novel are here only for they're true!-fighting paternal disapproval,living in poverty in Paris,eloping with a virtuoso pianist-it's all here and Cairns paints such an intimate picture that you can't but fail to admire Berlioz and his dogged determination to be a composer and write HIS music only to be continually rebuked in his native homeland.The efforts that the man had to go to just to hear his own music is truly heartbreaking.Biography doesn't get much better than this-especially if you're only even remotely interested in music or art.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Passionate Man
This is a wonderful book both for the lay reader and for the musically knowledgeable. It says a great deal about how well written this book is that someone like me who knows nothing about music could still enjoy the book so much. Mr. Cairns takes the tale from the birth of Berlioz in 1803 up until 1832, when he was in his late 20's. You learn about his relationship with his parents, who were opposed to his choice of composer for a career, and his sisters. We are very fortunate that this was a great age for letter writing. Mr. Cairns makes judicious use of the correspondence between Berlioz and his family and friends to the point where you almost feel yourself to be a friend or family member. You get inside the young composer's mind as he tries to convince his parents that his desire to write music is not just a "whim", but something that he is absolutely passionate about and must do. Berlioz was also extremely sensitive and romantic. After seeing the English actress Harriet Smithson perform on stage in several works by Shakespeare he developed an obsessive love for her, even though he had never met her. He had an apartment across the street from where she lived and would longingly watch her comings and goings. He eventually wrote her several notes expressing his feelings but she rebuffed him, quite understandably one would think! (She had also heard a rumor, which was untrue, that he was an epileptic.) Shortly after coming to the realization that Smithson was unattainable Berlioz met the virtuoso pianist Camille Moke and they fell in love with each other and eventually got engaged. Alas, when poor Hector had to go to Rome to live in order to receive grant money from winning the Prix de Rome, Camille dumped him and opted for security by marrying a wealthy man. This soured Hector on women for awhile but did not diminish his love for music, nature and life. Mr. Cairns has been a professional music critic and is also a scholar, so he understands and ably explains the technical aspects of Berlioz's music. I was totally lost in these sections but my ignorance did not diminish my enjoyment of this sympathetic and wonderfully written book. ... Read more

190. The Path to Power (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 1)
list price: $45.00
our price: $29.70
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394499735
Catlog: Book (1982-11-12)
Publisher: Knopf
Sales Rank: 58948
Average Customer Review: 4.69 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Part One Of Three Parts

THE PATH TO POWER reveals in extraordinary detail the genesis of the superhuman drive, energy and urge to power that fueled LBJ. It is the first part of Caro's project and brings LBJ from childhood to Washington.

Johnson showed political genius early on. His boyhood, filled with friendship and maneuver, set the stage for later moves. He consolidated power in powerful friendships and, in D.C., leveraged the loyalities of his youth.

"Here as never before is Lyndon Johnson--his Texas, his Washington, his America--in a book by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author that brings us as close as we have ever been to a true perception of political genius and the American political process." (Publisher's Source) ... Read more

Reviews (62)

4-0 out of 5 stars A great read, but.....
This huge first volume of Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon Johnson tells the story of Johnson's life up to the time of his defeat in the Texas senatorial election of 1941.

I enjoyed the book very much, staying up late into the night to read more, yet having now finished it I thought that - somewhat perversely perhaps - the book's weaknesses as a biography were its strengths as a more general work of historical analysis.

Although the book is about Johnson, Caro doesn't restrain himself from letting his focus shift away from Johnson for long stretches: for example, the natural history and settlement of the Texas Hill Country are described in detail (fascinating to someone like me who knew next to nothing about these subjects); and the lives of other people who were important to Johnson are described in great detail (Sam Rayburn in particular).

I was happy to follow Caro down these roads, as he wrote so compellingly - for example, the descriptions of women's lives in the Hill Country should destroy a few rural myths. Other historians would have abbreviated or summarised such descriptions to the absolute minimum necessary to add to the reader's understanding of the context of the subject's life, whilst maintaining the overall focus on the subject himself. Indeed, at times, Caro loses sight of Johnson completely, and the book becomes more of a general history.

I felt that Caro made up his mind that Johnson was an utterly unscrupulous and amoral politician, totally devoted to the acquisition of power. The picture he paints of Johnson and of American democracy is unflattering - elections and politicians are there to be bought - money is everything. We're in a precursor stage to the "military-industrial complex". Even where Johnson did good, Caro's praise is brief (for example in his determination to force through the rural electrification program). I thought that there needed to be a better balance - surely there were issues other than money and gerrymandering that decided elections in the US? Or am I being naive?

Also, if Johnson the man was such a hated person, why did he evoke such loyalty? It seems too dismissive to explain this by stating that other people were furthering their own self-interest through Johnson.

I feel somewhat churlish at criticising a book I enjoyed so much, but I will read the next volume!

5-0 out of 5 stars The autoritative LBJ biography.
Caro's work is simply flabbergasting. I read the 768 page book in a week flat (and ordered Vol. 2 at the mid-point to ensure I could seamlessly continue).

The key to the work is the way in which Caro is able to take a complex set of events and explain it in the context of a central theme. For example, Caro uses the building of the Marshall Ford dam to explain the urgency with which Herman Brown and Alvin Wirtz worked to get Johnson elected to the House.

In short, the book is well-written, thorough, and smart. Caro adds the extra value we require of a historian -- that is, he doesn't merely retell events, he places them in a coherent context so that we can understand what made LBJ. In the end, the portrait is a complex but ultimately scary one of power sought for power's sake.

5-0 out of 5 stars The greatest biography in print
The Path to Power is probably the greatest biography ever written.

I'm a Texan, but a Republican, and I never particularly admired LBJ for his political decisions. However, he's a fascinating study in contemporary politics. Even if you hated Lyndon, he was the most masterful politician of the 20th Century.

This book is a 24 karat gold winner. I've probably re-read it twenty times and each time I learn something else.

The Washington Post called it "a book of radiant excellence". That is a gross understatement. This book transcends everthing I have ever read about American politics.

It captures the true feelings, emotions, ambitions, and everything else about America in the middle of the 20th century.

This is the most compelling book I have ever read. You have to read it too. Get it now. You'll love me and thank me later for recommending it.

4-0 out of 5 stars 4 Volumes on a Dead Man since '73. Get a Life Please
Homo-Erotism of a Dead President. LBJ Dead since 1973.

I am always curious why smart people devote years obsessed with dead people, not to mention dead people from the past.

It must be a man acting out their homo-erotic fantasies out of another man. Of course, LBJ was Texas roughneck, cowboy, and Robert Caro, the pencil-neck geek must find this guy attractive.

LBJ died in 1973 from a Heart Attack. He got kick out after one term in office, the Vietnam War was a diaster. The welfare state left us with billions in debt. All this can be debated in academic circles. But why devote four books to a man dead since 1973.

Robert Caro, please get a life, a real job. All humans born, live and then die. The USA life expectancy is about 72. We can debate politics and so on. LBJ has been dead for 31 years.

Weak males tend to be attracted to strong, dominating males and that explains why Robert Caro is devoting three books to a dead man.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fabulous book
I picked up this book on a recommendation from a coworker who said that LBJ was the most intriguing character of all the America presidents. I've read several past presidential biographies and I felt that LBJ's legacy and history were important for me if I were to grasp the motivating forces behind Civil Rights history and Vietnam.

This book exceeded my expectations and turned out to be a gripping read. Caro gives his reader story, character, and research. The length of this book is its strength because he gives the reader so much context for the events. Before talking about how LBJ brought electric power to his impoverished home district for example, Caro breaks away for a 14 page illumination of the realities of day to day to living without electricity entitled "The Sad Irons". Where many other biographers make their subject the sole focus, Caro generously supplies his reader with the details that make you empathize for the characters he portrays. In that sense, I put this book almost up there with Richard Kluger's "Simple Justice" for its ability to create vibrant vivid history.

Caro does see LBJ in a somewhat negative light, although he tries to temper his criticism with understanding of why he became the way he is. Caro respects the political genius of Johnson in his admiration for Johnson's work ethic and drive during the 1937 campaign for Congress. He also admires how LBJ did take pride and gain satisfaction for the individual voters that he presented and the benefits he won for them as a Congressman.

Yet I expect a Macbeth as I read Caro's later volumes. Caro disapproves of Lyndon's unwillingness to take a stand and reveals how the Lyndon Johnson succeeded in part because he was a "professonal son" exceedingly capable of earning the good graces of those with the power to help him be they Sam Rayburn, President Roosevelt, or even the college president as he struggled to earn tuition.

So many episodes in this book will linger. I almost wish LBJ had been an anonymous teacher after hearing how successful he was in the two positions he held early on in his career. The power that he earned through his stint as unofficial Congressional campaign manager is amazing as is his ability to balance New Deal rhetoric with conservative financial backing.

Besides LBJ you gain the story of his rural district, a lesser know side of the New Deal, the beginnings of the awesome power of Texas Oil and understanding of democratic politics.

I could go on so much, but all I can say is if you are at all interested in LBJ this book will be worth the effort.

5 stars!

--SD ... Read more

191. Warriors of God : Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade
list price: $15.95
our price: $10.85
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Asin: 0385495625
Catlog: Book (2002-05-14)
Publisher: Anchor
Sales Rank: 23349
Average Customer Review: 3.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Warriors of God is the rich and engaging account of the Third Crusade (1187-1192), a conflict that would shape world history for centuries and which can still be felt in the Middle East and throughout the world today.Acclaimed writer James Reston, Jr., offers a gripping narrative of the epic battle that left Jerusalem in Muslim hands until the twentieth century, bringing an objective perspective to the gallantry, greed, and religious fervor that fueled the bloody clash between Christians and Muslims.

As he recounts this rousing story, Reston brings to life the two legendary figures who led their armies against each other. He offers compelling portraits of Saladin, the wise and highly cultured leader who created a united empire, and Richard the Lionheart, the romantic personification of chivalry who emerges here in his full complexity and contradictions.From its riveting scenes of blood-soaked battles to its pageant of fascinating, larger-than-life characters, Warriors of God is essential history, history that helps us understand today's world.
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Reviews (49)

4-0 out of 5 stars Crusades Confidential
"Warriors of God," reads like a tabloid history of the third crusade, and that's exactly what makes it so much fun. James Reston got the dirt on the primary English and French players and has no temerity about spreading it around. Who was the regal counterpart Richard the Lionheart was sleeping around with? You'll find the answer right here. Care for a look at the private life of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine? Step right up. Who was the "whore of Europe?" Yes, indeed, find out here. As for the politics, both in Europe and the East, well, nothing much has changed in the modus operandi of the ruling class. Richard fought a bloody war on the battlefields, and deadly political wars on the two fronts of Europe and the Holy Land. Yes, the underlying current was a holy war, but the profiteers, looters, and opportunists steered events as rigorously as the warriors and clerics. Mr. Reston has much less to say about the peccadilloes of Saladin and the warriors of Islam. In fact, they come off as models of rectitude, both in their private and public affairs. However, both sides were equally as blood-thirsty, and the blood flowed ankle deep--such were the times, such are the times.

Mr. Reston focuses quite clearly on Richard and Saladin as the protagonists of this third crusade, and in them he has found characters as large as life. They were educated, wily, impassioned leaders whose stature has not been diminished by the passage of nine hundred years.

I recommend this book both for the dirt and the history. It's a fascinating look at characters and events, as well as a witness to how the Crusades have never really ended.

5-0 out of 5 stars So Passed Those Years and Men . . . .
"Warriors of God" is a compelling narrative that draws the reader into the Third Crusade and the lives of its two great leaders, Richard the Lionhearted and Saladin. Reston's story is spiced with the words of poets and bards, and it breathes life into a fascinating and all but forgotten time.

I have not read a great deal about the Crusades, so it is difficult for me to judge how historically accurate Reston's book is. But I can say that "Warriors of God" is very entertaining, that the story is often moving, and that the characters are fascinating.

Saladin was a remarkable leader who united Egypt and Syria and captured Jersualem for Islam. Equally striking, according to Reston, he was a relatively decent man in a brutal time--he preferred bargaining to killing and went out of his way to avoid destroying the people that he defeated. Legend has it that he sent King Richard two fine Arabian horses when Richard lost his mount in a battle with Saladin's troops--after all, a King should not be on foot with his men! Whether or not the legend is true, it says something that it was apparently repeated and believed.

King Richard was cut from a much rougher mold. He was a charismatic but tough leader, and he was not above killing prisoners to make a point. But for all his hardness, he lost his nerve and the Third Crusade when he was on the verge of capturing Jerusalem. After he withdrew from the Holy Land, he embarked on an odyssey, spending a year as the captive of the Holy Roman Emperor and finally returning to England in time to save the country from his brother, John.

The focus of the book is on King Richard and Saladin, but the minor characters are intriguing in their own right. One of these was Sinan, the "Old Man of the Mountain," who ruled the cult of the Assassins. Reston calls him brilliant, ruthless, mystical and ascetic, "with eyes as fierce as meteors." Sinan's followers owed him unquestioning obedience and would regularly kill at his command. "Once, to prove the devotion of his followers to a Crusader leader, Sinan had given a fleeting hand signal to two fidai high in a tower at Kahf, whereupon the two leaped to their death in the ravine below." Not a person to be taken likely, and a reminder that sometimes the past is not all that different from today.

Reston tells us that shortly after Saladin died on March 4, 1193, his scribe Beha al-Din wrote "so passed those years and men, and seem, both years and men, to be a dream." In "Warriors of God," Reston has done done a good job of bringing those years and men to life for the modern reader.

If you enjoy "Warriors of God," you might also want to take a look at Reston's "The Last Apocalypse," which is an equally entertaining book about Europe at the turn of the first millennium AD.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Original Warriors of God
The book "Warriors of God: The Great Religious Orders and Their Founders" by Walter Nigg 1959, was very helpful before I read Jr. James Reston's "Warriors of God". One of the original warriors of God in Nigg's book summarized Jr. James Reston's type of Christendom very nicely.
Religious obedience-which has no analogy with military obedience-was the highest law. The reason for this incomprehension is doubtless that religious obedience has to often been mistaken for cringing subservience, an unfortunate error that has inflicted untold harm on Christendom.
Walter Nigg's book, which is very hard to find, should be a foundation to any true historian of Christianity. The Chapters are; St. Anthony and the Hermits of the Desert, St. Pachomius and Cenobitism, St. Basi and Eastern Monasticism, St. Augustine and the Communal Life of the Clergy, St. Benedict and His Rule, St. Bruno and the Carthusians, St. Bernard and the Cistercians, St. Francis and the Friars Minor, St. Dominic and the Order of Preachers, St. Teresa and Carmel, St. Ignatius Loyola and the Society of Jesus.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent primer for the Crusades
Warriors of God is not an extensive study of the Crusades but can serve as an excellent primer for those of us wishing to delve into the subject.

James Reston Jr. turns a topic that is complex (and sometimes tedious) into a pleasant reading experience.
His use of Christian and Muslim texts lends a broader view of the conflict and time period.

The author's inclusion of the state of 13th century western European politics (church and monarchy) provides important depth to the story. It also will lead most readers to wonder "This was civilization?"

2-0 out of 5 stars The movie version of the Third Crusade
This is essentially not history; it is a melodrama based, more or less loosely, on the Third Crusade. Its Saladin and Richard are the characters a novelist would have them be -- tailored to fit his plot line, thinking the thoughts he wants them to think, driven by the desires and emotions he wants them to have. Any relationship between these shallow, crudely-drawn characters and the real thing is not only accidental but unimportant. The point of the book is to teach the reader that there were good guys and bad guys and that we (the West) were the bad guys, while throwing in sex and violence in the bargain. And so it presents a simplified, technicolor version that leaves out the historical doubts, factual uncertainties, and other shades of grey that make for good history but bad B movies.

Who were the good guys and who the bad? Read Runciman's books (his Volume 3 covers the Third Crusade) -- they present history and let you decide for yourself. ... Read more

192. The Magician and the Cardsharp : The Search for America's Greatest Sleight-of-Hand Artist
by Karl Johnson
list price: $26.00
our price: $17.16
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Asin: 0805074066
Catlog: Book (2005-08-10)
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Sales Rank: 48498
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Book Description

A famous magician's journey to find the greatest cardsharp ever evokes the forgotten world of magic where Americans found escape during the Great Depression

It has the nostalgic quality of an old-fashioned fable, but Karl Johnson's The Magician and the Cardsharp is a true story that lovingly re-creates the sparkle of a vanished world. Here, set against the backdrop of America struggling through the Depression, is the world of magic, a realm of stars, sleight of hand, and sin where dreams could be realized-or stolen away.

Following the Crash of '29, Dai Vernon, known by magicians as "the man who fooled Houdini," is tramping down Midwestern backroads, barely making ends meet. While swapping secrets with a Mexican gambler, he hears of a guy he doesn't quite believe is real-a legendary mystery man who deals perfectly from the center of the deck and who locals call the greatest cardsharp of all time. Determined to find the reclusive genius, Vernon sets out on a journey through America's shady, slick, and sinful side-from mob-run Kansas City through railroad towns that looked sleepy only in the daytime. Does he find the sharp?

Well, Karl Johnson did-after years of research into Vernon's colorful quest, research that led him to places he never knew existed. Johnson takes us to the cardsharp's doorstep and shows us how he bestowed on Vernon the greatest secret in magic. The Magician and the Cardsharp is a unique and endlessly entertaining piece of history that reveals the artistry and obsession of a special breed of American showmen.
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193. American Evita : Hillary Clinton's Path to Power
by Christopher Andersen
list price: $25.95
our price: $17.13
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Asin: 0060562544
Catlog: Book (2004-07-01)
Publisher: William Morrow
Sales Rank: 30241
Average Customer Review: 3.35 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (20)

This well researched book is one of many to expose the Clinton scourge. Hillary will seek the Democrat nomination for president in '08. If she is selected as their candidate, look for the old Hitlary to surface - the nasty, spiteful one. The one who curses like a pimpdaddy, is deadlier than a speeding bullet with an ashtray, and seeks to protect us "little people" with a hefty dose of communism. Her mentor is, after all, communist Saul Alinsky. Worse than this megalomanical woman are the Stepford democrats who protect her with an almost sociopathic zeal. Read this, then follow up with two books by the late patriot Barbara Olsen for a comprehensive look into Hillary's true persona and her insidious plans for America where parental rights are further eroded by government intrusion, where bad behaviors and choices are increasingly rewarded to secure the liberal base, and where marriage is perverted to fit the liberal agenda. This book peals away the carefully manicured image of Hillary to reveal a lust for power that is truly frightening. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Unvarnished Hillary
Interesting warts and all look at the history of the woman behind the headlines. The Hillary Clinton in this book is foul mouthed, foul tempered, sometimes prejudiced woman who has been known to throw anything within reach, as well as punches, at Bill. She won't allow anything to stop her accumulating ever more money and power. She's shown to be ethically flexible (she ignores rules, and laws, when it suits her needs/wants), she's very intelligent, focused and politically astute. She's always looked the other way and defended Bill's many indiscretions because to do otherwise would be to possibly disrupt "The Plan".

"The Plan" is an agreement she and Bill reached when they first got together. First all their attention and energies would focus on Bill while he became President. Then the focus would shift and it would become Hillary's turn to fulfill her ambitions and become President. In fulfilling "The Plan" she's divided the world into 2 parts, her friends (slavishly loyal who donate huge sums to her causes when asked and will fall on their swords to protect the Clintons) and her enemies ("those we want dead"). Her friends are given plumb political assignments, contracts and even Presidential pardons. On the other hand people unfortunate enough to find themselves in the latter group will find Hillary a ruthless enemy. Hillary has hired private investigators to dig up dirt and will literally muscle someone she sees as a threat into silence. Her enemies have found themselves being audited by the IRS (for example).

In many ways this book is similar to Dick Morris' "Rewriting History" (in fact Anderson quotes Morris on several occasions). But where Morris focuses on "Living History", Anderson gives us a much broader scope. The two books seem to disagree in one respect, where Morris indicates that after the Health Reform Plan Hillary piloted failed she was frozen out by Bill, Anderson indicates otherwise. According to Anderson Hillary is always in charge of everything dealing with Bill and "The Plan".

This book is a good balance to the image Hillary projects (in her books and speeches) as she primes herself for the Hillary phase of "The Plan".

2-0 out of 5 stars The in-evita-ble yet inaccurate comparison
Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first lady of the United States at the very peak of my own personal obsession with Eva Peron. Shortly after my returning from a student exchange program in Argentina in 1993, I sent Hillary Clinton a letter asking her opinion on Eva Peron. I did receive a reply, a generic form letter, of course, that said something along the lines of "I am happy that young Americans such as you are taking part in the democratic process." What saves me from feeling too embarrassed about my letter to Hillary Clinton is to keep in mind that I was only 17-years-old when I wrote it, and even as a teenager I realized that it was not so much that Mrs. Clinton bears any remarkable resemblance to Evita (aside from the fact that they are both blonde first ladies), but that people's reactions to the two ladies were occasionally similar. In other words, it's not so much that Eva Peron and Hillary Clinton are alike, but that people the world-over tend to make the same assumptions about powerful women.

The main assumption made about Eva Peron is that she was a power-hungry woman who groomed her otherwise ineffectual husband for the presidency, knowing that power would eventually fall into her own hands. As perhaps the foremost "scholar" on Eva Peron that has to offer, I can testify to the fact that this is a complete distortion. Twenty-four-year-old Eva Peron was merely an actress when she met 48-year-old Juan Peron at a charity event in 1944. Juan Peron, on the other hand, had grown up attending military schools in Argentina, eventually became a high ranking colonel, and for nearly a decade had built a base of support among the poor and lower classes, though few had ever predicted he would become a politician in his own right, least of all the president of the nation. It was the poor and the lower classes, buoyed by circumstances beyond Juan Peron's control, that swept Peron into office in 1945 (see Lawrence Levine's INSIDE ARGENTINA FROM PERON TO MENEM for a description of these events). Evita had absolutely nothing to do with Juan Peron becoming the president of Argentina.

Christopher Anderson makes the same assumption about Hillary Clinton that people have always made about Evita: that she propelled her husband to the presidency. I am not nearly as educated in Mrs. Clinton's life as I am in Evita's (I have even corresponded with Evita's great-niece, Cristina Alvarez Rodriguez, founder of the Institute for Historical Investigations of Eva Peron; ), but since AMERICAN EVITA is founded on the idea that Evita and Hillary are similar, and I know that Anderson's assertions about Evita are false, I have to conclude that the very foundation of AMERICAN EVITA is bogus. (We'll set aside the fact that Argentina is, of course, part of the South American continent and therefore Evita is technically the "American Evita" as well. My Argentine host father was Dr. Jorge Di Fiori, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Argentina, and he considered North and South America to constitute only one continent.) And the prognosis for this book only gets worse from there.

In short, Christopher Anderson is not what I consider a good writer, or at least not a good writer of political science. A quick glance at the book's dust jacket explains why: he has worked for People magazine and Vanity Fair. While these are fun magazines that I occasionally read (though usually only while standing in the check-out line), I do not turn to them for political analysis but movie reviews and the latest in celebrity fashion.

If you are interested in a serious anthropological biography of Eva Peron, I would recommend EVA PERON: THE MYTHS OF A WOMAN by J. M. Taylor. If you are interested in mere speculation and gossipy prose, look no further than Anderson's AMERICAN EVITA.

Andrew Michael Parodi

5-0 out of 5 stars Hillary the Hun-Not to be trusted!
This book validated many of my own feelings. For years I thought I was perhaps being jaded by opinions of others, but this book brought out facts that I had either forgotten, ignored and many I just hadn't heard.

I've read several of Christopher Andersen's books and feel that he objectively reports on the subject that he is writing about. I am currently reading Air Force One which validates some of the behavior exhibited by the Clinton's while in office.

Of course liberals are not going to want to read this book or will give the book black marks, because they are presented in black and white with the diabolical plans of a maniacal women who they seem to want to always put on on a pedestal.

Reading it suddenly became very clear. Part of her plan is to ensure that Kerry not get elected in 2004 so that she can run in 2008! I'm interested to see what will happen next in Kerry's run. No wonder he doesn't want the Clinton's at the Convention!

It's a pretty good insight in to just what goes into the power struggles in Washington and just how "dirty" some people can be. It shows just how mean spirited, calculating, cold and manipulating Hillary is. Heaven help the country if "the plan" succeeds!

4-0 out of 5 stars Be Afraid, Be VERY Afraid! Well, maybe...
I received this book as a gift. I went into reading this with a very biased opinion about Ms. Rodham Clinton: I hated her. I loathed everything about her. I knew bits and pieces of what she has done during her "reign" and, as a result, was dreading the possibility of her running for president at some point. Midway through the book, I found myself still very much disapproving of some of her underhanded tactics to achieve her agenda but at the same time, I couldn't help but admire her. How difficult must it be to be constantly scheming, calculating and strategizing with every single thing you say and do. It is admirable. So, I actually got something positive from this book in that I can now at least understand how her mind works and somewhat admire it- however diabolical at times. I think both Republicans and Democrats should read this book to know what someone with an agenda like hers is capable of. Some Democrats, for example, may be interested in how she has been trying from day 1 to keep a Democrat out of the Whitehouse in '04. Why? Well, it's quite obvious, really: She wants to run in 2008. Now it suddenly doesn't seem like such a coincidence that John Kerry opts for neither her nor her husband to speak at any of his events or rallies. Hmmmm... ... Read more

194. Martin Luther: A Penguin Life (Penguin Lives)
by Martin E. Marty, Martin Marty
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
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Asin: 0670032727
Catlog: Book (2004-02-01)
Publisher: Lipper
Sales Rank: 9147
Average Customer Review: 3.83 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Martin Marty—professor, author, pastor, historian, and journalist—is, in Bill Moyers’s words, "the most influential interpreter of American religion." In Martin Luther this man of unswerving faith, rooted in his own Lutheran tradition yet deeply committed to helping enrich a pluralist society, brings to powerful life the devout Reformation figure whose despair for a perilous world, felt anew in our own times, drove him to a ceaseless search for assurance of God’s love. It was one that led him steadily to a fresh interpretation of human interaction with God—as born solely from God’s grace and not the Church’s mediation—and to the famous theses he posted at Wittenberg in 1517.

Luther’s persistence in this belief, and in his long battle with Church leaders—embellished by rich historical background—make Marty’s biography riveting reading. Luther’s obdurate yet receptive stance, so different from the travestied image of "fundamentalism" we currently face, restored the balance between religion and the individual. Martin Luther is at once a fascinating history, a story of immense spiritual passion and amazing grace, and a superb intellectual biography. ... Read more

Reviews (6)

4-0 out of 5 stars Martin Luther
Lutheran minister and historian Martin Marty writes a brief, but complete biography of Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation. Marty covers the life of Luther from birth and childhood until his death. Though overly detailed in some spots and sketchy in others, this biography gives the reader a fairly objective view the famous monk turned revolutionary. We learn about Luther's inner struggles through intensive research of his personal journals, letters, and subsequent biographies immediately after his death. A faithful monk and teacher, Martin Luther advocated the doctrine of the 'priesthood of all believers' and 'justification through faith alone.' This was in direct defiance of the Roman Catholic Church, which stressed the special power of the Pope and priests to intervene with God on behalf of the people. Though tolerated for years by Rome, he was eventually excommunicated and lived the rest of his under a death sentence. Some details about Luther's life were fascinating. He married a nun that he helped to escape from a convent. They had six children. He maintained relationships with powerful political figures during his long career. He grew bitter during old age and withdrew from public life. Disturbingly, Luther wrote several tracts condemning Jews that were later used by others to justify anti-Semitism. Throughout the biography, Marty depicts Luther as a man of extremes. He was both an erudite scholar and a fiery debater; harsh with critics, but loved by his students and followers; and a revolutionary that would not support violent peasant uprisings. Marty gives an excellent history lesson on the politics and religious controversies of the day. Understanding the political strife between the Germanic states and Roman Pope is critical to understanding the life and work of Martin Luther. Although slow in the beginning, this biography of history's most overlooked revolutionary is a complete and informative read.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Well Balanced Portrayal
The author has given us a very short biography of one of the most significant historical and religious figures known to history. I have sought for a balanced biography of Martin Luther and believe that this work largely fits the bill. Although I sense that the author fails to fully understand Catholic theology, he does appear to accurately portray how Martin Luther understood that theology. Whether Luther was theologically correct or incorrect, whether he accurately understood his opposition's theology is an argument for theologians. The historian's emphasis is to accept Martin Luther's understanding and write the history of how the man struggled with his own understanding. Far too often, biographies of Luther focus on the theology of the man, either approve or condemn his theology and, depending on the result of this judgment, either praise or condemn the man.

To that end, the reader should not look for a thorough explanation of religious thought in this book, whether it be Catholic or Lutheran. Luther is here portrayed as a man of extremes and contradictions. Unlike other biographies of Luther, Luther is not portrayed as spotless, saintly, or entirely in the right. In contrast, Luther is not blamed for every evil or atrocity during the Reformation committed on behalf of freedom from Rome.

What particularly interested this reader, was the author's handling of how Luther failed to deal with the political forces he set in motion. How he compromised in some rather essential moral questions in order to retain his core theological ideas of salvation by faith alone. In short, the reader is presented with Martin Luther, the politician, and theologian, but most importantly the man.

I found this work to be a very quick read and a good jumping off point for more research on Martin Luther. I recommend it.

2-0 out of 5 stars Gently sidestepping Luther's masterpiece
Most modern Christians have trouble accepting Luther's denial of free will even though they admire Luther the man. Marty proves to be no exception. Luther considered his The Bondage of the Will (1525) his best work, but the best Marty could say about this was that Luther never retracted his views in this book. (p. 130) That's an understatement, to say the least. Also, in The Bondage of the Will Luther emphasized over and over that we humans have no free will or free choice, but Marty chooses to discuss Luther's views of the nature of God instead. Luther did talk about this subject, but that's not the main issue of his masterpiece. Marty's adjectives for Luther's greatest work include: "raucous", "drastic", "shocking", "dark and risky", "bursts", "could not be more radical".

Marty reminds me of Bainton's biography, which tried to sweep Luther's The Bondage of the Will under the carpet, without so much as mentioning the title.

I find it hard to believe that Marty is a Lutheran. Even when a theologian cannot agree, it is a biographer's duty to faithfully report the facts as they are.

As Martin Brecht says, The Bondage of the Will sums up Luther's theology in concentrated form. The reluctance to discuss this work in full and at length mars an otherwise competent biography.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fine intro to a great life
Having grown up Lutheran, I've know the facts of Luther's life practically from the cradle, and in our day we had to virtually memorize his Small Catechism when we were confirmed. Since then I've read other, longer bios and all were fine. But this one is excellent, though brief--or perhaps because it's brief. I learned even more about the man and his thinking, though I already knew a reasonable amount. This would also be a fine introduction for anyone who doesn't know much about Luther. It's concise and very well written, and neither idolizes nor condemns a complex man who did much to shape life as we now know it. I'm recommending it to all my friends, Lutheran and otherwise.

3-0 out of 5 stars A noble theology, but a poor history
This is a disappointing book.

Now, that's on a personal basis and not necessarily on the merits of the book as written. Quite frankly, it's not much of a biography; I found more details about Luther's life in the 1958 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica; my disappointment is based on Marty's emphasis of Luther's religious ideas and development instead of the society in which he lived.

On a religious basis, examining how Luther reached the positions he did, the book may be superb; I'm not a theologian, so I can't judge it on that basis. Marty is an exceptionally fine theologian, and he may well have done a superb analysis on that basis. The editors at Penguin are not fools, and they don't necessarily target excellent works at my interests; so if they missed the mark with me, it may well be my loss.

Having said that, Marty gives little attention to the "small, poor, ugly, stinking, hideous, wretched, unhealthy, smoky, full of slop, populated by barbarians and sellers of beer and not by real citizens" town of Wittenberg in 1512 where 2,100 people lived in 400 houses. True, some 172 houses had licenses to brew beer, so it couldn't have been all bad; and, the town also had a newly created university and a printing press (Johann Gutenberg has "invented" the printing press by 1450). Talk about casting pearls before swine; yet, this "pearl" of Luther was part of a worldwide enlightenment that changed the entire nature of Christianity.

The Pope Luther challenged was one of the most corrupt in the history of the Roman Catholic church; it raises the question of how much Luther would have achieved had he challenged an honest Pope. A second question Marty overlooks -- what would have been the fate of Catholicism had Luther not challenged its fetid corruption?

Luther lived at the same time as Erasmus, in Rotterdam; and when King Henry VIII was challenging the authority of the Pope in England. The Roman Catholic church of that era was clearly an early example of globalisation; this early international insensitivity to local independence led to a rise in nationalism which culminated in the worldwide wars of the last century. Clearly, northern Europe was reacting against the endemic corruption of the Roman Catholic Church and in support of a rapidly growing nationalism. Luther was hardly a courageous dissident marching to a different drummer and thus liberating the exploited masses from a dark tyranny; instead, he was a brilliant evangelical spokesman for a resolute freedom that sought local autonomy and freedom from the dictates of Rome.

It was also a time of bitter anti-Semitism, one of the enduring failures of Europe. Marty says Luther's support of such prejudice was unfortunate, but he avoids the issue of what might have happened had Luther developed a religion based on tolerance instead of bigotry. What if he had preached religious toleration for Islam, even while opposing the Islamic attempt to conquer Europe?

Granted, speculation is not the duty of any competent historian. But, in my view, passing lightly over the issue of Luther's anti-semitism avoids confronting one of the major faults of Luther and this biography. Yet, on a religious basis, Marty is succinct, clear and relevant. As a non-Lutheran, I wanted more history and less theology.

Perhaps there is no better basis for a biography of a major religious leader. If so, Marty has done a good job. But it's less than I expected. ... Read more

195. The Last Best Hope of Earth: Abraham Lincoln and the Promise of America
by Mark E., Jr. Neely
list price: $18.95
our price: $12.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0674511263
Catlog: Book (1995-03-01)
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Sales Rank: 344234
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars A PRAGMATIC HERO
The Title of Professor Neely's biography of Lincoln is taken from Lincoln's second Message to Congress dated December 1, 1862. It is an inspiring phrase and an apt title for a Lincoln biography. Professor Neely's biography is good and solid in its analysis of Lincoln's life. It lacks, however, something of the eloquence and vision of the title and of Lincoln's words. We never learn why Lincoln considered the United States "the Last Best Hope of Earth" or what that can mean for our country today.

That said, this book is a good introduction to Lincoln and his Presidency. The book skims briefly over Lincoln's life before he became the 16th President. There are advantages to this, but the treatment of the Lincoln-Douglas debates and of the Kansas-Nebraska Act which led to them is too brief to help understand sucession and the Civil War which followed.

The book's treatment of Lincoln's relationship with his Generals and of the strategy of the War is probably the best single chapter. It has something to teach even those who are familiar with the military history of the war. The chapter on Lincoln as a pragmatic politician and on the 1864 campaign is also well done. The book treats the Emancipation Proclamation at length but to me anyway left something to be desired. (The text and some explicit treatment of it would help) and discusses the fate of Civil Liberties during the War and domestic development during the war in good but not dispositive detail.

If you are looking for an understanding of Lincoln and of the Civil War this is a good place to start but not to end. I suggest reading the book together with the complilation of Lincoln's own speeches and writings in the Library of America series.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good general biography
I really enjoyed this work. I felt it could have been more in-depth, but only so much can be expected from its relatively short length. It is a good resource and point of departure for the Lincoln historian or enthusiast, but I would recommend additional reading to fill in the gaps. ... Read more

196. As Far as My Feet Will Carry Me: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man's Escape from a Siberian Labour Camp and His 3-Year Trek to Freedom
by Josef Martin Bauer, Josef M. Bauer, Clemens Forell
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
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Asin: 0786712074
Catlog: Book (2003-08-01)
Publisher: Carroll & Graf Publishers
Sales Rank: 32974
Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Originally published in 1955, As Far as My Feet Will Carry Me has seen international success ever since. It has been translated into fifteen languages, sold more than 12 million copies, and is the basis for an award-winning German entry at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. Recounting an incredible real-life adventure, it tracks the destiny of German soldier Clemens Forrell who, in the aftermath of WWII, was sentenced to twenty-five years of forced labor in a lead mine in the barren eastern reaches of Siberia. Subjected to the brutality of the camp and the climate, Forrell dreamed continuously of escape—and then daringly effected it. From East Cape across the vast trackless wastes of Siberia, for thousands of miles and three years, with fear as his most intimate companion, Forrell fled treachery and endured some of the most inhospitable conditions on earth. In a long series of taped interviews with esteemed German author Josef M. Bauer, Forrell unfolded his remarkable story of survival. Bauer not only reconstructs Forrell’s arduous journey to the Iranian frontier and freedom; he also poignantly evokes the emotional content of Forrell’s brave quest—emerging as an affecting portrait of a man who strove and triumphed against all odds. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Remarkable Account
This story just demands to be read. It is one of tremendous suffering and the triumph of the human spirit. This is the ultimate World War II escape story.One sees the fate of the defeated German Army in a new light. Sent to die in a lead mine, this German Soldier has a remarkable account to share. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest from this period. You will never forget it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Movie was amazing
This is one of the greatest epics ever. I was lucky enough to see the movie when it was playing, try and catch it if it's near. I've been in search of the DVD for 3 years now! It's becoming my OWN epic!

3-0 out of 5 stars Great Story -- Weak Finish
This is a phenomenal story about the escape of a German POW from a Soviet labor camp on the Bering Straight and his journey overland to Iran and freedom. Taking place in 1949-1951, Josef Bauer tells the story of an anonymous German POW from World War II who was sentenced to a 25 year term of hard labor in a lead mine in the very far corner of the Soviet empire. His escape and his encounters with nature and humans make for a wonderful, page-turning thriller.

The weak part of this work is the ending. Eighty per cent of the book sets up the escape and traces the journey across about one-third of Siberia. The last twenty per cent of the book takes the subject across two-thirds of Siberia and into Iran, thus giving a very superficial account of this part of the journey.

Reading between the lines, Bauer appears to have had a difficult time securing the cooperation of the subject of this story and his name is not given. It appears that while the subject may have cooperated with Bauer initially, the cooperation ceased and the story was brought to an abrupt conclusion. If this is true, the accuracy of the story can then be questioned and the anonymity of the central character does nothing to instill confidence in the reader that these events happened in the way that they are portrayed.

Even with these problems, however, the book is worth a read for its entertainment value alone.

4-0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary story, good writing
Extraordinary true-life story of a German soldier ("Clemens Forell") who makes a three-year, 8,000 mile escape from a Soviet Union labor camp. Worthy of five stars but for two minor complaints:
1) The story is written through Josef Bauer, not the soldier himself. Still, Mr. Bauer does a respectable job.
2) This book is an English translation from the original German text. While the translation flows well, it is difficult to assess what may be lost in the translation. ... Read more

197. Life of Thomas More, The
list price: $30.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385477090
Catlog: Book (1998-10-20)
Publisher: Nan A. Talese
Sales Rank: 265252
Average Customer Review: 4.52 out of 5 stars
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The Life of Thomas More is Peter Ackroyd's biography--from baptism to beheading--of the lawyer who became a saint. More, a noted humanist whose friendship with Erasmus and authorship of Utopia earned him great fame in Europe, succeeded Cardinal Wolsey as Lord Chancellor of London at the time of the English Reformation. In 1535, More was martyred for his refusal to support Henry VIII's divorce and break with Rome. Ackroyd's biography is a masterpiece in several senses. Perhaps most importantly, he corrects the mistaken impression that Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons has given two generations of theater and film audiences: More was not, as Bolt's drama would have us believe, a civil disobedient who put his conscience above the law. Ackroyd explains that "conscience was not for More an individual matter." Instead, it was derived from "the laws of God and of reason." If the greatest justice in this book is analytic, however, its greatest joys are descriptive. Ackroyd brings 16th-century London to life for his readers--an exotic world where all of life is enveloped by the church: "As the young More made his way along the lanes and thoroughfares, there was the continual sound of bells." --Michael Joseph Gross ... Read more

Reviews (27)

4-0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Tour of Another World
The world that Thomas More lived in, the ideas that motivated him, and the reasons he did the things that he did, are so different from the world we live in today that it may be hard for people living today to really understand them. Peter Ackroyd, however, does a superb job of placing us in that world, and inside More's head, thus giving us a portrait of a great man living on the cusp of a world-changing transformation, as the Renaissance gave way to the Enlightenment.

After reading Ackroyd's portrait, however, I find myself of two minds about Thomas More. I admire his devotion to the truth, and his refusal to bow to the demands of Henry VIII. As a Catholic, I admire his devotion to the Church and honor him as the martyr and saint that he is. At the same time, and as Ackroyd shows in this unvarnished biography, this is the same man who sent "heretics" to the stake, or to be beheaded, thus seeming to give sanction to the very methods that, in the hands of others, led to his own death. Read the book for yourself, though, and make up your own mind.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the most elegant biographies I've ever read!
As a voracious biography reader I have never come across a more loving, generous, and fascinating biography than this one by Peter Ackroyd. The book is resplendent with tales of life in the latter part of the middle ages. It is not only a biography but a cornucopia of interesting facts about this period of history. The author shows a remarkable ability to take you from the Christian baptism of Thomas More all the way to his death as a martyr under the brutish reign of King Henry the VIII. One of the most stunning, prolific, polished biographies I have ever read in my life! I highly recommend this one for anyone interested in history and in the life of Thomas More.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best contempory text on the life of St. Thomas More!
Peter Ackroyd is a master of drawing the reader into the experience of Thomas More. He provides a well researched and eloquent work that justly portrays the man and saint. Even though Sir Thomas More was emersed in the difficulties of state politics, economics, and law, Peter Ackroyd never loses sight of More's deep Catholic faith: "[The Mass] was the single most important aspect of his life, and the source from which much of his earnestness and his irony, his gravity and his playfulness, springs" (112).

3-0 out of 5 stars A Biography, Not A Character Study
"The Life Of Thomas More" introduces the reader, not only to his life story, but also to the world of the Upper Class Englishman of his day. A life long Londoner, More earned his way into a rarefied world of legends. Henry VIII was his patron turned persecutor, Erasmus was his friend and St. John Fisher was his co-martyr.

In his early life, More lived a life of sanctity, but displayed traits which would not suggest a saintly temperament. Working his way into high office in what was then Catholic England, More was confronted by the early infiltration of the Protestant movement. A strong supporter of the Church of Rome, More aggressively worked to suppress the rising heresy.

More's religious fervor, which initially put him in good stead, became a handicap when Henry VIII chose to divorce and remarry. His religious consistency then led his patrons to turn on him. His efforts to avoid taking a stand on the issues of the King's divorce and remarriage and papal supremacy ultimately failed to save his life. Recognizing his fate, More made his last testimonies at his trial and in prison to supplement his prior writings such as "Utopia".

Although this book does well at relating More's outstanding life and public career it fails to give the reader a feel for the man. Upon completion of the book, I felt that I knew about Thomas More, but did not feel that I knew him. I am glad that I read it, but I had hoped for more.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Penetrating and Artful Book
This is a first-rate biography of the sainted Thomas More. Ackroyd's goals in this biography are to present a non-anachronistic depiction of More, and through his portrait of More, to give readers a sense of the late Medieval world destroyed by the Reformation and the emergence of nation-states. Ackroyd presents More as a man exemplifying the late Medieval ethos. Deeply religous, highly intelligent, and well educated, More existed with a profound sense of human fallibility and saw all aspects of his world as manifestations of a divine order. The world as the body of Christ, a metaphor to which Ackroyd returns repeatedly, is a recurring theme. The temporal world is transient and a necessary preparation for the eternal and in a crucial sense, less real than the eternal world of Christian teachings. This world is bound by custom and inherited legal and religous traditions, hierarchial and paternalistic in its structure of authority, and deeply enmeshed in rituals that mirror the structure of divine authority. More was not, however, a reactionary except when the radicalism of the Lutherans pushed him to stringent and violent acts needed to defend the integrity of his perception of the Christian world. A prominent member of the Northern European Humanist movement, More was dedicated to the recovery of a renovated faith based on a new reading of the Patristic fathers, attention to classical, particularly Greek neoplatonic authors, and disdain for complex scholastic theology. He and his fellow Humanists hoped for reformation of the Church without abandoning the unity of Christendom, the apparatus of ritual and hierarchy that defined so much of their lives, and the primacy of papal authority.

Ackroyd's efforts to present More and the late medieval ethos are very successful. Readers will be introduced to a foreign world, but one which is an ancestor of our contemporary society. Ackroyd's efforts at depicting the lost of world of More include not only the content but the structure of the book. Some prior reviewers commented adversely on Ackroyd's use of unmodified quotations from More's English writings. While interpreting these lines requires a little effort, that effort helps to appreciate More's style. As Ackroyd points out, for More and his contemporaries, style was not simply a matter of presentation but had a significant moral dimension. While chronologically arranged, this biography is not strictly a narrative of More's life. Each chapter is presented as an almost self contained vignette or episode from More's life. I believe this is a deliberate effort on Ackroyd's part to mimic aspects of medieval ritual and theater. This is another and I think successful effort on the part of Ackroyd to present the late Medieval world. Ackroyd argues that not only that More was dedicated to the importance of ritual and theater but that it formed a very important part of More's character and perhaps self-image. Ackroyd's construction of this book is then a doubly artful device to mirror both the world of late medieval England and More himself. ... Read more

198. Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources
by Martin Lings
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0892811706
Catlog: Book (1987-09-01)
Publisher: Inner Traditions International
Sales Rank: 38607
Average Customer Review: 4.47 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In his smooth, narrative style, Martin Lings presents a biography of Muhammad, using

sources from the eighth and ninth centuries, including some passages never before translated.Here are the words of the men and women who heard the Prophet speak.

This is the first paperback edition of this important work, which sold 7,500 copies in the cloth edition.

The Muslim population of the U.S. is on a strong growth curve.It is estimated that there are now between 4 and 7 million Muslims in the U.S. ... Read more

Reviews (32)

5-0 out of 5 stars awesome book
...this is an excellent source for the life of the prophet of islam. lings' source documentation is superb as is his 'movie-like' story-telling style. however, with lings there is an obvious shi'i/sufi lean and therefore this book should not be used as the only source for the life of muhammad. i personally recommend another book to supplement lings' entitled "muhammad: prophet and statesman" by w. montgomery watt. he gives a more analytical approach to the life of the prophet and with both of these books you will have very well rounded and significant knowledge of muhammad and his message.

5-0 out of 5 stars Look no further for information on Muhammad
Martin Lings must have a degree is story telling, because he sure does have a knack for it. It is absolutely impossible to put this book down once you pick it up. Not only is the story fascinating, but the way in which it is presented leaves the reader begging for more--a sequel even.

This is by far the best book in the english language, based on original sources, about the life of Muhammad.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great for my report!
This book helped me SO MUCH on my school report of Muhammad. The facts were what I needed, and simple enough for me to understand. I can feel an A comming on!

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
I don't care if ppl say that there are a few weird stories in this one, this is the BEST as far as I am concerned and one that made me relate to the Prophet like never before!

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent biography
There is indeed no better biography about Muhammad in the English language. This book is well written, and is effective at painting a complete picture of the Islamic prophet's life. Many have complained that it is not historic, but I disagree. Lings has used early sources written in Arabic when writing this book, and he references these continually through this book.

This is the greatest strength of Lings book, he has taken materials that are inaccesible to most English-speaking people, and synthasized vast amounts of information into a well written and gripping narrative about the life of Muhammad. ... Read more

199. Daughter of Persia : A Woman's Journey From Her Father's Harem Through the Islamic Revolution
by Sattareh Farman Farmaian, Dona Munker
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385468660
Catlog: Book (1993-04-01)
Publisher: Anchor
Sales Rank: 72782
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (30)

4-0 out of 5 stars Pleasent reading
This is a great book for a long train or plane journey, as once you start reading, you want to continue to find out what happens to this interesting woman - Persian woman. I found the first one-third of the book the most interesting as this part told the story of a little girl growing up in a Persian family, in Iran, with 12 step mothers. The historical aspect of the book is very informative but also not chronical or boring. Obviously Sattareh Farman Farmaian has gone a lot in her life, things that most Americans or Europeans will never go through, and perhaps never fully understand. This book is particularly interesting because it introduces Americans to an unknown world and continously amazes the reader with S. Farman's reactions, emotions and thoughts. She never falls in love and she does not seek to fall in love. Although she moves to the United States, and adopts well to the professional life, she never abundanes her cultural roots and beliefs. Despite what goes on in Iran, and how they treat her, she loves her country until the end. Read it and enjoy it for yourself!

5-0 out of 5 stars Passionate, Personal, and Provocative -- A Story to Treasure
I am an American daughter of an Iranian man who grew up in Tehran the same time as the author, and I was THRILLED to find this book. It provided me with many insights and a sizeable history lesson about Iran and its culture. Ms. Farman-Farmaian writes clearly and factually, yet includes her own analysis of the amazing history and perpetual transitions that have characterized this ancient country. She provides an excellent introduction, pertinent background, and an exposure to some of the Farsi language, which gives the rest of the book depth and feeling and makes it easy to follow. Contrary to the Western connotation of a "Harem," Farman-Farmaian enlightens us with the powerful network of love and support, which deeply connected the women and siblings in her family. It is a moving account of a life of courage and dedication by a woman who dared to think beyond her cultural boundaries. I highly recommend it!

5-0 out of 5 stars Life's Table Turns For Most, Your Father Said So.
I am greatful to have read your book (your step-brother's as well). Thank you, and Ms. Dona Munker, for the great job. Also, thanks for being a teacher through your book. I liked all your analyses in the book. By your definition, I discovered where I fitted in our culture (a nobody).
I really appreciated the description depth of your feelings and thoughts in that court yard. I am glad that you won that ordeal. Two ayatollahs (out of three) voted in your favor. Your gut feeligs were confirmed later how close the votes were. You are truly a lucky lady. Perhaps, you were meant to continue your teaching without the College, as you did by your book. Thank you again. My Best. P.s.- I am greatful for Iranian people like yourself.

5-0 out of 5 stars READ THIS BOOK
This novel is excellent at not only describing the fascinating history of Iran, but providing an understanding of Middle-Eastern feelings toward America and our involvement in their affairs. Every American should read this in an effort to understand our responsiblities abroad.
I am now desperately searching for more books that not only give a fabulous history, but also provide the humanization and insight that this book provided. I encourage you to read it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Why didn't this book win a Pulitzer
One of the best and most illuminating biographicies I have read. It's sad, insightful, but funny (for example, when Miss Farmaian arrives in Los Angeles after a long journey and asks to see the Statue of Liberty).

She explains why figures like Khomeni were so popular, though she is clearly unbiased since she was almost prosecuted for being a spy. She discusses the good and bad about the shah and provides tremendous insight into Moslem society. Why aren't there more books as good as this. ... Read more

200. In Search of Sugihara : The Elusive Japanese Dipolomat Who Risked his Life to Rescue 10,000 Jews From the Holocaust
by Hillel Levine
list price: $25.00
our price: $16.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0684832518
Catlog: Book (1996-11-04)
Publisher: Free Press
Sales Rank: 244636
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Book Description

On August 2, 1940, as on every other morning for weeks before, a long line of Jewish refugees waited outside the Japanese consulate in Kaunas, Lithuania. Many had already witnessed Nazi atrocities in Poland and other Axis-occupied lands, and they were desperate to escape. To leave Europe they needed foreign transit visas. And at the window, the smiling Japanese consul was issuing them. Before his government closed down the consulate and reassigned him to Berlin, he would issue thousands of such visas.

This is the story of Chiune Sugihara, a diplomat and spy who saved as many as 10,000 Jews from deportation to concentration camps and almost certain death, Because of his extreme modesty, Sugihara's tremendous act of moral courage is only now beginning to become widely known.

Unlike Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat whose government sent him to Hungary with the express purpose of saving Jews, and Oskar Schindler, the German industrialist who at least initially had a vested economic interest in protecting the lives of "his Jews," Sugihara had no apparent reason to perform his acts of rescue. Indeed, he acted in direct violation of official Japanese policy, which directed all government and military personnel to cooperate with the murderous policies of their Nazi allies. Examining Sugihara's education and background -- a background shared with the colonial administrators and military men who committed "the rape of Nanjing" -- author Hillel Levine finds nothing that explains his extraordinary behavior.

Levine's search has taken him from the old Japanese consul building in Kaunas (now Kovno), Lithuania, to the Australian outback; across Japan from the rice fields of Sugihara's native town to the boardrooms of conglomerates where his younger schoolmates still hold power. But the more Levine sought answers to Sugihara's puzzling behavior, the more he encountered questions. Remarkably, Chiune Sugihara was not the only Japanese official to save Jews. Yet none was ever punished for insubordination. Was there a secret Japanese plan to save Jews from Nazi genocide?

Much Holocaust scholarship focuses on the perpetrators of evil, trying to illuminate what drove ordinary men and women to commit horrifying and murderous acts. But perhaps as difficult to understand is the phenomenon of rescue: what inspired courageous individuals to swim against the tide of cruelty and indifference. This sensitive and nuanced biography concludes that there is no link between a person's background and his moral inclinations. Mercy remains a divine mystery despite our human craving to reduce it to behavioristic formulas.

This book does not attempt to explain "man's humanity to man." Instead Levine has woven a fascinating narrative of one man's heroic efforts to save lives, in the midst of so many seeking to destroy them. ... Read more

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