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61. Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's
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62. A Treasury of Royal Scandals:
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63. Faith of My Fathers
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64. Survival In Auschwitz
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65. A Rumor of War
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61. Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe
by Laurence Bergreen
list price: $27.95
our price: $18.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0066211735
Catlog: Book (2003-11-01)
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Sales Rank: 1927
Average Customer Review: 4.13 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Ferdinand Magellan's daring circumnavigation of the globe in the sixteenth century was a three-year odyssey filled with sex, violence, and amazing adventure. Now in Over the Edge of the World, acclaimed author Laurence Bergreen, interweaving a variety of candid, first-person accounts, some previously unavailable in English, brings to life this groundbreaking and majestic tale of discovery that changed many long-held views about the world and the way explorers would henceforth navigate its oceans.

In 1519 Magellan and his fleet set sail from Seville, Spain, to find a water route to the Spice Islands in Indonesia, where the most sought-after commodities -- cloves, pepper, and nutmeg -- flourished. Most important, they were looking for a passageway, a strait, through the great landmass of the Americas that would lead them to these fabled islands. Laurence Bergreen takes readers on board with Magellan and his crew as they explore, navigate, mutiny, suffer, and die across the seas. He also recounts the many unusual sexual practices the crew experienced, from orgies in Brazil to bizarre customs in the South Pacific. With a fleet of five ships and more than two hundred men, they had set out in search of the Spice Islands. Three years later they returned with an abundance of spices from their intended destination, but with just one ship carrying eighteen emaciated men. They suffered starvation, disease, and torture, and many died, including Magellan, who was violently killed in a fierce battle.

A man of great tenacity, cunning, and courage, Magellan was full of contradictions. He was both heroic and foolish, insightful yet blind, a visionary whose instincts outran his ideals. Ambitious to a fault and not above using torture and murder to maintain control of his ships and sailors, he survived innumerable natural hazards in addition to several violent mutinies aboard his own fleet -- and it took no less than the massed forces of fifteen hundred men to kill him.

This is the first time in nearly half a century that anyone has attempted to narrate the complete story of Magellan's unprecedented circumnavigation of the globe -- to tell this truly gripping and profoundly important story of heroism, discovery, and disaster. A voyage into history, a tour of the world emerging from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance, an anthropological account of tribes, languages, and customs unknown to Europeans, and a chronicle of a desperate grab for commercial and political power, Over the Edge of the World is a captivating tale that rivals the most exciting thriller fiction.

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Reviews (31)

4-0 out of 5 stars detailed, vivid, interestingly digressive
Mention Magellan and most will tell you he's that guy that sailed around the world. There their knowledge ends, or such as it is, since as Bergreen reminds us in wonderful detail, it was some of Magellan's crew that actually sailed around the world while the majority of it, along with Magellan himself, actually only survived part of the trip.
Packed with historical detail supplemented by first person accounts and side stories that some will find of equal or surpassing interest and others might find too digressive, Bergreen gives us a satisfyingly full look at the man and the journey.
The focus for the first three-quarters of the book is of course on Magellan. His early life history is quickly covered, enough to inform us of his abilities and motivations without bogging the reader down in unnecessary detail or too much psychohistory ("rejected by his father at age six, young Magellan turned to the sea to prove . . . "). The details start to come in Magellan's early attempts to convince his native Portugal to sponsor a journey to the Spice Islands and accumulate even more fully once he takes his leave for Spain and the planning for the trip begins in earnest.
The trip itself is covered in sharp and vivid detail--the political in-fighting, the mutual antagonisms of class and country aboard ship, multiple mutiny attempts, successful and not-so-succesful contacts with natives, and of course the nautical travails themselves--deathly storms,a myriad of navigational obstacles and pursuing Portugese. Not to mention the fact that the entire trip was based on an idea that the world was much, much smaller than it in fact turned out to be.
Most of the trip is seen through the lens of Magellan, and while a clear fan of Magellan, Bergreen is also unafraid to criticize his many errors with regard to ship policy, to politics, to contact with the natives. Magellan comes across as a complex all-too human figure rather than an icon or simple villain. Brilliant at times and amazingly stupid at others, he never fails to hold our attention. Other important figures in the crew are offered similar respect with regard to the fullness of their portrayals.
Beside the journey's details, the reader is treated to digressions into royal relationships, international maneuvering, the importance of spices to sixteenth century economies, the running battle for economic and nautical supremacy between Spain and Portugal, and maybe most fascinating of all, a brief history of the Chinese Treasure Fleet. While some might think Bergreen goes into too much detail here, other might wish for more. I personally fell somewhere in between, able to live with less on the royal personages and wanting more on the spice trade itself (those who feel the same way could do worse than turn to Nathaniel's Nutmeg for more on the topic)as well as on the Treasure Fleet.
I thought at times Bergreen could have left the "European" perspective a bit more, giving us a more full glimpse at the journey from the other end of the spectrum. I also could have done with more frequent use of maps throughout the book to have a more immediate and visual sense of Magellan's progress (or lack thereof). While I felt the lack of both several times, these flaws were relatively minor and only detracted somewhat from the work as a whole. Money, lust, greed, politics, mutiny, pride, betrayal, tragic accidents, man versus nature, battles, shipwrecks, castaways, man versus man, heroism and cowardice, man versus himself. The book has it all, with the added luxury of being true. Well-recommended history.

5-0 out of 5 stars great account of one of the legendary journeys
Laurence Bergreen provides a deep look at Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan's sixteenth century quest that led to the first known navigation of the world. This journey is a pivotal point in how Europeans viewed the world as people realized that not only will one not fall off the globe, but that Europe is not the epicenter of the orb. Mr. Bergreen followed the ill-fated journey through what is now the Straits of Magellan at the tip of South America and uses satellite images to further enhance the trek. Of interest to historical buffs is the daily journal that encompasses known research from around the globe. This includes sailor Albo's log and the comments of scholar sailor Pigafetta. The author debunks several modern day myths such as Magellan's mission was not go around the world, but to find a water route to the Spice Islands; and that the voyage was not glorious but brutal and filled with tragedy and misfortunes including the Captain having died in the Philippines. Magellan never made it. The trek took three years with only one ship with eighteen survivors making it back to Spain.

This is a great account of one of the legendary journeys of history. Supplemented by maps, inserts, and first hand accounts, readers join on the harrowing trek that proved once and for all that the world is round. No one will feel over the edge with this great look at the "Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe" by Magellan and his crew.

Harriet Klausner

5-0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down!
Extraordinary! A great read. It has found a special place in my 'special' books place on the bookshelf!

4-0 out of 5 stars very entertaining
At one point in Laurence Bergreen's narrative he points out that the maps Magellan's armada relied on had long since become useless. This pretty much sums up the courage, adventure, and excitement encountered in this beautifully written book. Magellan pitched his idea to seek a water route to the spice islands by sailing west until he reached the east to two kings. After his own sovereign, the king of Portugal, refused him, Magellan boldy defected and secured the support of the king of Spain. Bergreen does a great job of putting the voyage into historical context, without overindulging in tangential details. This is the rare history book which educates and entertains.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Incredible Journey and an Excellent Book!
I rarely give books a 5 star rating, but this one certainly deserves it. The book gives full account of Magellan's circumnavigation of the globe, in all its horrifying and glorious details. While it is clear that the writer is a staunch Magellan admirer, he does not hesitate to criticize Magellan's style of leadership, the Captain's over-inflated ego or the needless risks he took (one of which ultimately resulted in his death).

Reading this book, I found myself transported into 16th century Europe, an era full of intrigue, magic and of casual disregard for human life. The book was absolutely captivating and I was not able to put it down. From my perspective, the most interesting thing about the story is that while today Magellan is recognized as a hero and as one of the most important explorers of all time, in his day Magellan received no recognition and was the target of suspicion and hatred.

For the most part, Bergreen's writing style is fluid and easy to read, however at times it is a bit too flowery for my taste. The book also suffers from a shortage of illustrations and maps which could have been instructive. For example, an illustration of Magellan's ships, the weapons and armor of the era and current pictures of some of the main locations involved, would all have been nice. Nevertheless, I highly recommend this book for any fan of popular history books. ... Read more

62. A Treasury of Royal Scandals: The Shocking True Stories of History's Wickedest, Weirdest, Most Wanton Kings, Queens, Tsars, Popes, and Emperors
by Michael Farquhar
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140280243
Catlog: Book (2001-05-01)
Publisher: Penguin Putnam
Sales Rank: 4081
Average Customer Review: 4.27 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (52)

5-0 out of 5 stars Lots of fun for royal watchers
Michael Farquhar's "A Treasury of Royal Scandals" will delight inveterate royal watchers! As he sniffs in the introduction, he covers not the current crop of royals, as none of them have provided anything worthy of the title of "scandalous," but he goes in-depth to provide us with (as the book is subtitled) "shocking true stories of history's wickedest, weirdest, most wanton kings, queens, tsars, popes, and emperors."

Farquhar provides a handy family tree for major royal families at the beginning--it's most helpful when the scandals reach a dizzying pitch and you need to sort out which royal is plotting to overthrow/marry for money/murder which other royal. He debunks an awful lot of incorrect gossip (like the oft-told tale of Catherine the Great's predilection for beastiality) and comes up with wonderful gems of dirt that will be deliciously unfamiliar to most readers. This is not a scholarly work by any means--it's kind of like a historical PEOPLE magazine, focusing on the faux pas, the foibles, and the fevered doings of all sorts of royals throughout history. Great good fun!

5-0 out of 5 stars Funny!
This book is well written and absolutely hilarious! Anyone who wants to learn more about royalty and the quirky things they have done in the past should read this. It is funny and interesting, and never slows its pace, but at the same time it also helps you learn more about the rulers of Europe in the past 2000 years. Although it is named "A Treasury of Royal Scandals", it never becomes overly graphic or tasteless. It is well-organized too; split into chapters according to subject (death, marriage, weird parents, etc.) I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys the livlier side of history!

5-0 out of 5 stars Must Read
Even if one is not a history buff (which is hard for me to imagine), this book is one of the more enjoyable reads ever. Well written as a collection of very witty and informative essays, it goes indepthly into the royal scandals of the day. I couldn't put it down.

4-0 out of 5 stars FEW DULL MOMENTS..
I was either laughing or reading with my mouth gaped. The information was abundant covering dozens of kings, queens, tsars, popes and emperors. The well written book leaves me eagerly awaiting for the arrival of The Treasury of Great American Scandals to my door step. Not overly intense, but enough to keep you wanting more.

5-0 out of 5 stars We didn't learn this in school!
I would loved to have known a few of these stories in high school! I loved this book, read it in about 3 hours, and am looking forwward to the next book. I was upset when I got to the end. I thought it was extremely interesting that there were so many evil popes in our history. It's amazing to me that Catholicism is still alive today! I love the author's writing style, it kept me chuckling and snickering throughout the book. He gives great detail to the appearance of some of the royalty, so much that I kept picturing obese old men with open festering sores all night. Thanks Michael! :) ... Read more

63. Faith of My Fathers
list price: $25.00
our price: $17.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375501916
Catlog: Book (1999-08-31)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 6171
Average Customer Review: 4.53 out of 5 stars
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Books by politicians are not often worth reading, but John McCain's Faith of My Fathers is an astonishing exception to the rule. The Republican senator from Arizona has a remarkable story to tell--better than just about any of his peers--and he tells it well, with crisp prose and an unexpected sense for narrative pacing. The first half of the book concerns his naval forbears: his grandfather commanded an aircraft carrier in the Second World War, while his father presided over all naval forces in the Pacific during the Vietnam War. They were the first father-son admirals in American history. Young John McCain knew he had enormous shoes to fill and rebelled against many of the expectations set for him. At the Naval Academy, he was nearly expelled, graduating fifth from the bottom of his class. He never became an admiral, but achieved fame another way: as a naval aviator in 1967, he was shot down over North Vietnam and spent several years in POW camps, where he was beaten, tortured, and nearly allowed to die. McCain describes the awful details of his imprisonment and tells how he stayed mentally strong during seemingly endless months of solitary confinement and how he communicated in code with fellow captives. Faith of My Fathers concludes with McCain's release and contains no information about his subsequent political career. It is, nonetheless, a complete and compelling memoir of individual heroism--one that will interest both political and military history buffs. --John J. Miller ... Read more

Reviews (161)

5-0 out of 5 stars A fair and moving account
I am a Vietnam combat veteran, and I was pleasantly surprised by this book because almost everything in it was new to me. I knew very little about the careers of Senator McCain's grandfather and father, and even less about his harsh years as a POW in North Vietnam. My miserable year in combat pales in comparison to the horrible treatment these men received. I particularly enjoyed McCain's openness and honesty about his own shortcomings, his self-deprecating style, his dry sense of humor, his generous praise for others, and most of all his humility. I was also struck by the total lack of hostility expressed towards his captors. This is a very readable book and I found the author's personal insights into the Vietnam War both moving and powerful. Reading this made me proud to be an American, and it reminded me that we do have something special and unique to offer in the world, and how fortunate we are to have leaders like John McCain in our midst.

5-0 out of 5 stars Exceptional!
John McCain's "Faith of My Fathers" deals primarily with his POW years in Vietnam. The first half of the book provides information on his grandfather and father's Navy careers. This might be mundane to some readers but as I read along, I understand how his family's legacy made John McCain who he is. McCain also detailed his life in the Navy academy and outlining the academic and practical training he received. It is quite interesting to learn more about McCain's childhood, living from one state to another, never really retaining close friends and his rebellious years at the Academy.

The second half of the book deals with his imprisonment in Vietnam. This part of the book is most amazing and eye-opening. The beatings and tortures that McCain and other POWs received were appalling. It takes a lot for these prisoners to endure both physically and mentally. McCain describes the various methods that the prisoners used to occupy their time, to keep the mind as clear as possible and to provide support for their fellow prisoners. Communication proved to be an essential part of their survival. In addition, McCain was generous in his compliments to his fellow prisoners and provided many true stories of heroism and bravery of the POWs.

After finishing this book, I cannot but feel tremendous respect for John McCain and other POWs who survived the terrible ordeals and also to the military. In this memoir, McCain proved that it is important for the POWs to believe in both the military and the government to take care of their families when they were unable to. This memoir/biography is definitely worth reading and readers can gain valuable insights into life in general and things that we take for granted, such as freedom. "Faith of My Fathers" is a reminder for us to appreciate the little things in life and most importantly, to have faith.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting, if a bit abbreviated
Faith of My Fathers is John McCain's memoir of his service in the Vietnam war, with an extended prologue in which he introduces you to his father and grandfather, their deeds, and what these acts mean to him. It's interesting, but the memoir half of the book isn't that long and so it's somewhat less satisfying than it could be.

McCain's grandfather and father were both admirals (the first father and son to both reach four star rank in the Navy's history). McCain the elder commanded aircraft carriers during WW2, under Admiral Halsey. Halsey is quoted as saying that McCain was "not much more than my right arm." McCain served during the last year of the war in command of Halsey's carriers or a large portion of them, and did so ably.

The second McCain was a submarine commander during the same conflict, and was Commander in Chief of the Pacific during the Viet Nam War. He held this latter position when his son, the author of the book, was shot down over North Viet Nam and captured by the Vietnamese. Both father and grandfather appear to have been loyal, skilfull sailors who fought hard and lived harder, something that McCain apparently has done also.

The faith of the title is less religious than it sounds, though the author makes it clear that he's Christian. Instead, the faith turns out to be an abiding attachment to the core values that officers in the armed services once held: being honorable, faithful to the flag and the uniform, loyal to their country, and of course conventionally rowdy (drinking and gambling too much, chiefly) but never anything that would raise anyone's eyebrows, really. There is a strong religious element to it, but it's not overwhelming.

I enjoyed this book. McCain is an interesting and at times infuriating Republican, but he's also very up front abou what he considers his core beliefs and how he tries to hold on to them. The best parts of the book are the passages where he tells of the Vietnamese attempts to torture him and other prisoners into confessing to war crimes. He makes it clear that the war criminals weren't the captives. I would recommend this book, especially for those who wish to learn more about John McCain.

5-0 out of 5 stars very moving story
I often wonder how the being a POW would shake your resolve and faith for the country, and wonder if I could do it. After reading this book I am no closer to the dicision that I could survive it, but it makes you proud to know that there are americans like John Mccain out there. This book doesn't just cover the time in prision though, but rather his life up until he was released as well as the lives of his father and grandfather. A must read for anyone interested in history.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Patriot
I couldn't put this book down. A great, smooth read about the three John McCains. An awesome family history that teaches about fathers and sons and wars. The relationships between these men were stronger than I imagined. I recommend this book to everyone to see how a true patriot serves their country. ... Read more

64. Survival In Auschwitz
by Primo Levi
list price: $13.00
our price: $9.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0684826801
Catlog: Book (1995-09-01)
Publisher: Touchstone
Sales Rank: 10087
Average Customer Review: 4.53 out of 5 stars
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Survival in Auschwitz is a mostly straightforward narrative, beginning with Primo Levi's deportation from Turin, Italy, to the concentration camp Auschwitz in Poland in 1943. Levi, then a 25-year-old chemist, spent 10 months in the camp. Even Levi's most graphic descriptions of the horrors he witnessed and endured there are marked by a restraint and wit that not only gives readers access to his experience, but confronts them with it in stark ethical and emotional terms: "[A]t dawn the barbed wire was full of children's washing hung out in the wind to dry. Nor did they forget the diapers, the toys, the cushions and the hundred other small things which mothers remember and which children always need. Would you not do the same? If you and your child were going to be killed tomorrow, would you not give him something to eat today?" --Michael Joseph Gross ... Read more

Reviews (43)

5-0 out of 5 stars Passionate & instructive insight into the Holocaust
In a more perfect life, this book should be science fiction. Primo Levi deposits us in a world where the typical convivality that makes human society bearable has been eliminated and replaced by a horrible premise: humans may only live if they can do work useful to the state. "Survival in Auschwitz" plays the theme out. Those who are unable to work are immediately killed, using the most efficient means possible. Those who survive must find ways to maintain the illusion of usefulness with the least possible exertion. Instead of brotherhood, there is commerce, a black market where a stolen bar of soap is traded for a loaf of bread; the soap allows the owner to maintain a more healthy appearance while the bread feeds its owner for another day. We see property in its most base form. A spoon, a bowl, a few trinkets cleverly used, that is all a person can hold at a time. It's instructive to read this book as an insight into homelessness. What kind of place is this where we create humiliated zombies, shuffling behind their carts containing all their worldly possessions? How long can we let the State fight against the innate emotion that tells us that no-one should go hungry while we eat and no-one should be homeless while we have shelter?

What always amazes me about the Holocaust is the sheer improbability of the story of each of its survivors. This is the horror. For every shining genius of the stature of Primo Levi, there are thousands of other amazing people, gassed and murdered in the showers filled with Zyklon-B.

3-0 out of 5 stars Surviving a Real Nightmare
"We had learnt of our destination with relief. Auschwitz: a name without significance for us at the time, but it at least implied some place on this earth"

Primo Levi's memoir, Survival in Auschwitz, is a moving account of one young man's struggle for survival in the notorious Polish concentration camp. Levi employs a unique narrative structure, emphasizing the power of words both thematically and stylistically. Levi is only twenty-five when he enters the camp, and his storytelling does much to reveal the devastating impact that concentration camps had on the psyche and on the spirit. Levi confronts the harsh reality of what life in Auschwitz means, and how different it is from any form of civilization. In clear contrast to the camp's dehumanizing effects on its victims, Levi uses language to stir the hearts of his readers. In a kind of dictionary of suffering, he gives the reader the terms of his old existence: Buna, where young men labor in a factory that will never produce synthetic rubber; Ka-Be, the infirmary where Levi is granted a few weeks' rest to recover from a foot injury, and Selekcja, the Polish word for "selection," that seals the fate of those marked for the crematorium. Many readers wishing to learn more about the Holocaust or concentration camps will find Levi's work powerful and enriching. Perhaps more importantly, these readers will continue to ask Levi's questions in today's society.

3-0 out of 5 stars Primo: Still a Man
I'm not a fan of Holocaust narrative, mostly because I've read and been forced to read in school many of this type of novel. Primo's memoir, however, sticks in my mind unlike any other. What makes Survival in Auschwitz, aka If This Is A Man, unique is the complete objectivity he writes with. He records only fact, expressing no emotion whatsoever. The effect is unsentimental and wholly horrific. His role is a recorder of events for posterity, and asks the reader to judge for his/herself the morality of what took place in the camp, not only the actions of the Nazi guards but also the prisoners themselves. He lets the reader decide whether he retained his humanity in the face of complete dehuminization. If all you know of the Holocaust is contained in Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl, it might benefit you to pick this one up.

5-0 out of 5 stars A gut-wrenching tale
Reading Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi was one of the most dificult experiences of my life. With each turn of the page came a new horror, I found it dififult to read more then a chapter at a time, and yet with horrific fascination I was also unable to put down the book. His stories of human nature rock the reader in a way that is unfathomable to someone who has never read a novel of this type. His original title "If this were a man" is far more descriptive then Survival in Auschwitz, and the reader will be shocked by the tales he tells.

4-0 out of 5 stars survival in auschwitz
Primo is an italian jew from italy. in 1943 the fasciest militia raided her town and home. the german militia took everybody in that town and put them on a train. they didnt know it yet but thay had just become prisoners of germany, prisoners of adolf hitler. everything they knew and loved gone in and instant. they never knew if they would ever see their homes again or even their best friends again. primo lived in auschwitz for over a year and a half, fighting for her life day after day. during the day, her and the other prisoners in the camp got 3 meals a day, but it isnt the kind of meals you adn i think of. day after day all they had to eat was a piece of bread and a bowl of soup. thats not very filling, not very filling at all. also during the day they would have to work or they would be killed on teh spot. life was rough for that year and a half. probably the worste time was during winter. each prisoner was issued one thin shirt and pants and wooden shoes. might i remind you wood isnt a really warm material until you light it on fire witch they couldnt do because they were infact there only pair of shoes. i liked this book because it is a true story, a personal story of a young womans life. living through such a horrible time, living in auschwitz the worste concentration camp there was. i liked how it told everthing that happened and not just the bad. i thought it was funny how some of the prisoners tried to hurt them-selves to get into the ka-be, work free for forty days. i dont like how it is a book. i would rather watch it instead of reading I HATE TO READ. i dont like how it happened the whole holacaust thing. there could have been a better way to tell your hatred. you dont have to captize a entire nationality just to prove there hatred. i would recommed this book to people who liek to read. if you dont liek to read then dont buy books or read them. this book is good for people who liek to learn about the holacaust or personal stories about what actually happened while in auscwtiz. ... Read more

65. A Rumor of War
by Philip Caputo
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 080504695X
Catlog: Book (1996-11-15)
Publisher: Owl Books
Sales Rank: 8095
Average Customer Review: 4.82 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

When it first appeared, A Rumor of War brought home to American readers, with terrifying vividness and honesty, the devastating effects of the Vietnam War on the soldiers who fought there. And while it is a memoir of one young man’s experiences and therefore deeply personal, it is also a book that speaks powerfully to today’s students about the larger themes of human conscience, good and evil, and the desperate extremes men are forced to confront in any war.

A platoon commander in the first combat unit sent to fight in Vietnam, Lieutenant Caputo landed at Danang on March 8, 1965, convinced that American forces would win a quick and decisive victory over the Communists. Sixteenmonths later and without ceremony, Caputo left Vietnam a shell-shocked veteran whose youthful idealism and faith in the rightness of the war had been utterly shattered. A Rumor of War tells the story of that trajectory and allows us to see and feel the reality of the conflict as the author himself experienced it, from the weeks of tedium hacking through scorching jungles, to the sudden violence of ambushes and firefights, to the unbreakable bonds of friendship forged between soldiers, and finally to a sense of the war as having no purpose other than the fight for survival. The author gives us a precise, tactile view of both the emotional and physical reality of war.

When Caputo is reassigned to headquarters as “Officer in Charge of the Dead,” he chronicles the psychological cost of witnessing and recording the human toll of the war. And after his voluntary transfer to the frontlines, Caputo shows us that the major weapons of guerrilla fighting are booby traps and land mines, and that success is measured not in feet but in body counts. Nor does the author shrink from admitting the intoxicating intensity of combat, an experience so compelling that many soldiers felt nostalgic for it years after they’d left
Vietnam. Most troubling, Caputo gives us an unflinching view not only of remarkable bravery and heroism but also of the atrocities committed in Vietnam by ordinary men so numbed by fear and desperate to survive that their moral distinctions had collapsed.

More than a statement against war, Caputo’s memoir offers readers today a profoundly visceral sense of what war is and, as the author says, of “the things men do in war and the things war does to men.”

This edition includes a twentieth-anniversary postscript by the author.
... Read more

Reviews (65)

5-0 out of 5 stars Should be a mandatory reading in every high school
Caputo describes "the splendid little war" as his road from an enthusiastic idealist poisoned by the romanticized view of war as a chivalrous and noble enterprise to the dehumanized and desensitized wreck that he becomes during his tour in Vietnam. The book is an amazing testimony about the true nature of war with all its atrocities and horrors. Caputo brilliantly captures the endless despair of being strained in the jungle with no clear reason for being there, the hopeless madness of chasing the guerillas and the agony of loosing friends. But the most important aspect of this book is that it shows how a normal mentally healthy person can be turned into a thoughtless killing machine in the course of a few months, fast on the trigger, without any remorse for his victims. Caputo uses very strong and vivid images such as "pigs eating napalm-charred human corpses" to force the reader into his story and feel what Caputo has felt. Very realistic book that cannot leave you indifferent, definitely up there with Remarque's "All quiet on the Western front." If you want to know what fighting the Vietnam War was really like, I can't imagine how any book can possibly be better than Rumor of War.

5-0 out of 5 stars Put It On Your Bookshelf!
"A Rumor of War" is a darkly disturbing book. It is set in what was the early, "optimistic" Vietnam in the spring of '65 when we thought we were fighting for "freedom" and before the reality of the place hit home. Vietnam hits Lieutenant Caputo very quickly, as it must have for all Marine Corps platoon leaders. It's all right there-booby traps, mines, trip wires, leeches, foot blisters, jungle rot, constant shelling, dysentery, pigs eating corpses and cold C Rations. As a Vietnam vet, I was surprised the author never mentions RATS!, but we both know they were there too. (THEY were everywhere). Lt. Caputo's transfer to a staff job is worse than the field, so he transfers back to the bush as a platoon leader.It's more of the same-patrolling and repatrolling the same trails, the same hills, the same villes. All watched over by unsupportive and bureaucratic commanders. "RW" offers yet another look at the Vietnam War, one more pessimistic than most because so many of us felt! that the years of '65 and '66 were more positive than this. I might suggest reading Joseph Owen's "Colder Than Hell" to compare the Marine experience in Korea with Lt. Caputo's. Reading the late Bernard Fall's "Street Without Joy" will make us aware, again, that perhaps there was never a time to be optimistic about Vietnam. I must admit that I constantly found myself curious as to how I would have handled many situations in "RW". How would I have measured up? What would I have done? How would the men have judged me? While the story of "RW" tends to stray at times, I found no fault since the author is relating a painful part of his past. One small point: "RW" would benefit from better maps-these are so often lacking in military books. The bottom line:"A Rumor of War" belongs on the bookshelf of any serious military book reader or anyone searching for yet another angle to the frustrating Vietnam War that affected so many of us.

5-0 out of 5 stars I was's true
I landed in "Chu Lai" with the Marines on May 7, 1965. Do you want to know what it was like? Read this book. Caputo has written the most accurate account I have ever seen -- both of the action and the emotions.

5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome book
If you are intending to serve in the military, this book should be required reading. It's not pretty, in fact a bit depressing, but seriously good. Even good people do bad things during war - unlike what the movies show. Most of the other reviews have covered what I wanted to say... Seriously, this book is a must-read. In this day and age where combat operations are the norm, you can learn from people who have BTDT, and hopefully learn from their mistakes.

4-0 out of 5 stars From Camelot to Quang Nam
Mr Caputo (as in TOE) takes the reader on his journey from college to war to military inquiry and part of the power of the work is how well the language illuminates that experience. It begins with clear, concise prose, as the young man is clear in his goals and what his country "stands for" , and rises to poetry of a kind as the narrator descends into a confused hell, where his goal becomes simple survival and he is uncertain about his country and its values. The narrator's journey in his early twenties, is from a sobriety to a delirium and back again but on that return, the open, trusting individual, is transformed into a cold, hardened, and cynical Nam Vet. There is some especially good analysis of "courage" (p.294) and the nature of a patrol by a platoon (p.252). The passage on 240 has a music and power which I could imagine being quoted as a classic piece of war prose/poetry in which the phrase "All secure. Situation remains the same" is echoed five times throughout the piece in a kind of fugue. Great writing which summarises the misery and the exhaustion men suffered on patrol, especially the power of the landscape and climate to overpower. ... Read more

66. A Venetian Affair : A True Tale of Forbidden Love in the 18th Century (Vintage)
list price: $14.00
our price: $11.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375726179
Catlog: Book (2005-04-12)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 9771
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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It's hard to imagine a more romantic real-life story than the long, forbidden love affair of the 18th-century Venetian nobleman Andrea Memmo and a half-English beauty named Giustiniana Wynne.Andrea Di Robilant's A Venetian Affair is drawn in part from a cache of letters discovered by the author's father in his ancestral palazzo on the Grand Canal.In 1753, his ancestor Andrea Memmo had been introduced to a lovely girl of uncertain station (illegitimate, although her parents later married).The Wynnes's position was precarious enough in Venice's rigid society, and Giustiniana's mother took every step to prevent the young aristocrat from corrupting her daughter.But the two lovers began to meet in secret: exchanging letters through confederates and communicating in public through an elaborate code of nods and gestures.They even came within a few days of being married before further dark revelations about Giustiniana's family put a permanent end to their hopes.Although Memmo went on to have an illustrious career in the dying Venetian Republic, it is Giustiniana's astonishing later life that really captures the reader.A Venetian Affair provides both a rich picture of the times--including cameo appearances by that scamp, Casanova--and a convincing account of an enduring passion.--Regina Marler ... Read more

Reviews (35)

3-0 out of 5 stars Slow starting, but gets better
My book club selected this book and I looked forward to reading it. I thought the first 25% of the book was tedious.The love letters-particularly those of Guistiniana were whiny and repetitive.The story does pick up towards the middle though as the story focuses more on Guistiniana's antics outside of her relationship with Andrea. I'm glad I stuck with it.

4-0 out of 5 stars This is nonfiction...
Definately be aware that this is nonfiction when you read this novel.It is intriguing because it is a real story, there are real happenings in this novel, however, the story is a bit duller than the ficitioius acounts we (or should I say, I usually read) involving this subject matter.I'm an avid reader, but my reading isn't very scholarly, where to me, this came off as more of a research book.This is definately a biography, although it reads as a novel, don't be disapointed in the end.I did get very attached to the character of Guistiniana (HOW DO YOU SAY THAT NAME?!) and it was interesting watching her personality grow over time.
To sum it up: I enjoyed this novel, however be aware that it IS nonfiction therefore it doesn't have the *BANG* at the end we're used to

2-0 out of 5 stars I couldn't finish it.
I think I got through about 20 percent.Why couldn't I finish it?Maybe it was too real.Maybe too hopeless.Maybe lengthy conversations about love are just too boring.The characters annoyed me.She became increasingly insecure, constantly seeking reassurance, when she was separated from her lover.She whines, she pouts, she makes accusations.Although, if I were in her situation, almost a prisoner, as well-chaperoned women were at that time, I would have been just as miserable and passive, since women had few alternatives then.These lovers loose a chance to be together long-term, because they don't have enough self-control and discretion.It's possible that the book gets better later on; I just couldn't stand it any longer.

5-0 out of 5 stars Decaying republic--unending love
Andrea Memmo is the scion of an ancient Venetian family that is destined to become one of the most powerful in a dying republic. Memmo is filled with ideas about enlightenment and reform and he is mentored by some of the most brilliant men of the time.Enter Giustiniana whose mother was Greek and whose father is British.These two get together and their lives are turned upsidedown.The author does a memorable and convincing job of using history and time to portray these two men. But the best part of this novel was the way in which the author approached the writing or "finding out" of what happened.He uses 250 year old letters that his father has "found" from a direct ancestor.This might sound like a cheap way to introduce the materials, but it works somehow.With a plot worthy of Chevalier in some of her novels, and writing that is gorgeous and well crafted like McCrae's Bark of the Dogwood, this one doesn't disappoint.

1-0 out of 5 stars who cares?
i've read hundreds if books in 59 years and this is the most vacuous and uninteresting of them all. the theme, if you can call it that, is redundantly force fed until you just don't know if you can keep any more down. the best part is the end. ... Read more

67. Why Sinatra Matters
by Pete Hamill
list price: $24.00
our price: $24.00
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Asin: 0316347965
Catlog: Book (1998-10-01)
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Sales Rank: 117492
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

As products of the same urban landscape, Pete Hamill and Frank Sinatra have both been credited with giving the American city a voice. In this widely acclaimed and bestselling appreciation--now available in paperback for the first time--Hamill draws on his intimate experience of the man and the music to evoke the essence of Sinatra, illuminating the singer's art and his legend from the point of view of a confidant and a fan. ... Read more

Reviews (23)

4-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read--like an old song
Pete Hamill, beyond a doubt, is an excellent writer. He does a wonderful job here. The book is part bio, part history of immigrants in America, and part memoir. It works on all levels. Hamill treats Frank with the respect he deserves. The book is not a gossipy memoir--Kitty Kelly fans should look elsewhere. Instead, he makes the important arguement that Sinatra gave voice to first, a generation, and then an entire country. His artisty is what matters. The myth of the man is fun and gets most the attention, but that is besides the point for Hamill. And he is right. We all talk about the "Sinatra in a hat" (as Hamill dubs him) and the Rat Pack--but the music endures. It is, argues Hamill, what matters in the Wee Small Hours of the Morning. It is what will stand the test of time and give voice to a thousand broken dreams, hearts, and help us--like Frank after the Fall--get back up and start all over again. Thanks, Pete Hamill for getting it right.

5-0 out of 5 stars There will never be another...
I only saw my hero, Frank Sinatra, perform once. It was at the end of his career - and his life. It was a strange evening; he was obviously at the end - he couldn't remember the words to his songs or read the teleprompter. Few people left however - the evening soon became about us - his fans - letting him know that we still loved him. "I LOVE YOU FRANK!" a huge, middle-aged, rough-looking man yelled out during a pause. Sinatra, taken aback by the violence of the outburst, chuckled and replied, "I love you too, pal." As Pete Hamill once pointed out, "Seeing Sinatra in ruins is like seeing the Coliseum in ruins - it's still magnificent."

Why Sinatra Matters is a must-read for any Sinatra-phile. In the Overture, Hamill cites Sinatra's death as the impetus for writing this book. He saw all these young reporters from MTV and VH1 doing stories on Sinatra (obviously prepared in advance) telling the world Sinatra was important, without really understanding why. It certainly wasn't just because he did it "his way."

This is a very short book. As Hamill points out it is not a "definitive biography" - although once he was in talks with Sinatra to write just that. It is, as the title plainly states, an explanation of why Sinatra matters - artistically and culturally - and why he always will. In terms of Culture, Hamill reminds the reader of a time when America felt it was morally obligated to persecute Italians - Sinatra helped change all that. Musically, the reasons are more complex. To put it succinctly, no one ever sounded like Sinatra before.

The book is great because it also sheds light on Sinatra the man, who is often lost in the obscurity of his own public image. He was not just some gruff tough guy - a kind of idiot savant who could churn out a great recording in one take. He was a fiercely intelligent, well-read, well-cultured, self-educated man who worked hard at his craft. The most enjoyable parts of the book are the conversations Hamill recounts between himself and Sinatra. Most shocking of all - to me at least - was to imagine Sinatra using the F-word!

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book, horrible book-on-tape
Do not buy the book on tape! Get it in hardcover or paperback.

This is a fine little book, but it's the first book on tape I have had to turn off because the narrator's voice was too grating (and I've listened to tons of books on tape). Had it been read by the author himself, certainly allowances could be made. Instead, the publisher went out to find a professional reader and chose someone who speaks in an harsh, barking monotone, one part Howard Cosell, one part Rain Man, one part the guy who does the Moviephone listings. When the voice first came on, reading the copyright information and other technical details, I assumed that, well, that's just the preliminaries, surely someone else will narrate the rest of the tape. Nope. Amazing.
I have switched to the print version, which is excellent.

5-0 out of 5 stars "It's a quarter to three and there' s no one in the place...
I've read several books on Sinatra;But this one is really different.Hamill is an excellent writer and shows us why Sinatra matters;this was not done in other books.He has also shown what made Sinatra so popular,what influenced the changes in his audiences and without coming right out and saying so;why there won't nor can't ever be another one like him.He also reveals the art form that Sinatra perfected in his voice.
As great as Sinatra's music was;it was Sinatra as a man,and all that he represented, as well as the use of the microphone like a painter uses a brush;that made him so great.
Read this book;it will give you a deeper appreciation of Sinatra.

3-0 out of 5 stars Why Sinatra Matters is a fine book.
Pete Hamill is a fine reporter who knew Frank Sinatra as a friend. Sinatra was an enigmatic, charismatic and complex singer of the American soul. Perhaps no singer in 20th century America popular song could get inside a lyric and make it his own like the great "ole blue eyes."
Hamill's opening chapter in which we sit beside Sinatra and his cronies in a Brooklyn bar in 1970 is like something out of Hemingway in its description of a man, era and city.
Hamill points out that it was Sinatra in music, Laguardia in politics and Joe Dimaggio in sports who raised the immigrant Italian ethnic group to greatness in insular, xenophobic America of the 1940s.
Sinatrta could be obnoxious and cruel but he could also be
generous and kind,
This book reminds me of the Penguin Lives series as it is a good starting place for anyone who wants to learn more about Sinatra, his women, his era and most importantly his music. The music will live forever in the American soul.
Sinatra did it his way and Hamill does a fine job of writing in this interesting little book. A good read to take on vacation or a long flight. I recommend it. ... Read more

68. Benjamin Harrison : [The 23rd President 1889-1893] (The American Presidents)
by Charles W. Calhoun
list price: $20.00
our price: $13.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805069526
Catlog: Book (2005-06-06)
Publisher: Times Books
Sales Rank: 119725
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Book Description

The scion of a political dynasty ushers in the era of big government

Politics was in Benjamin Harrison's blood. His great-grandfather signed the Declaration and his grandfather, William Henry Harrison, was the ninth president of the United States. Harrison, a leading Indiana lawyer, became a Republican Party champion, even taking a leave from the Civil War to campaign for Lincoln. After a scandal-free term in the Senate-no small feat in the Gilded Age-the Republicans chose Harrison as their presidential candidate in 1888. Despite losing the popular vote, he trounced the incumbent, Grover Cleveland, in the electoral college.

In contrast to standard histories, which dismiss Harrison's presidency as corrupt and inactive, Charles W. Calhoun sweeps away the stereotypes of the age to reveal the accomplishments of our twenty-third president. With Congress under Republican control, he exemplified the activist president, working feverishly to put the Party's planks into law and approving the first billion-dollar peacetime budget. But the Democrats won Congress in 1890, stalling his legislative agenda, and with the First Lady ill, his race for reelection proceeded quietly. (She died just before the election.) In the end, Harrison could not beat Cleveland in their unprecedented rematch.

With dazzling attention to this president's life and the social tapestry of his times, Calhoun compellingly reconsiders Harrison's legacy.
... Read more

69. Maus II : A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began (Maus)
list price: $14.00
our price: $9.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679729771
Catlog: Book (1992-09-01)
Publisher: Pantheon
Sales Rank: 9302
Average Customer Review: 4.31 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

MAUS was the first half of the tale of survival of the author's parents, charting their desperate progress from prewar Poland Auschwitz.Here is the continuation, in which the father survives the camp and is at last reunited with his wife. ... Read more

Reviews (26)

4-0 out of 5 stars touching and honest
Art (Artie) Spiegelman is a cartoonist and the son of holocaust survivors Vladek and Anna Spiegelman. Art decided to tell his parents' story in graphic novel (comic book) form. The first book, Maus, covers the meeting and marriage of Vladek and Anna and follows their story up until they enter Auschwitz during WWII.

This book follows their story from when they enter the camp until they are finally freed by the Russians. This part of the story is also related in pieces as Art visits his father. Vladek was surprisingly resourceful as a camp prisoner and was continuously able to find positions where he was needed, helping keep him alive. Anna, on the other hand, wasn't always so lucky but she managed to stay alive. For both of them, much of what kept them alive was the hope of seeing the other person, which Vladek was amazingly able to arrange despite the men and women living in separate camps.

Eventually the war ends and they return, separately, to their hometown in Poland, though they have no knowledge of whether or not the other is alive. Thus, when Vladek, who arrives last, finally makes it home, it makes for a touching reunion.

My Comments:
This second book is definitely more touching than the first, though this is probably in large part due to the suffering the Spiegelman's experienced. This book also does a good job of bringing the story closure, though it took quite a while for this book to be published after the first one was.

Once again, the author is critical of himself by illustrating a rocky relationship with his father rather than everything being rosy. This self-criticism leads to my final point. I think the allure of these two books is that the author doesn't try to dress things up in a pretty package. He does his best to present things as they actually were (at least, as they were seen by his father). The result is that you see things like children having their heads bashed in by Nazi's slamming them against walls and a son who only grudgingly helps his father but at the same time uses him for his story (that sounds a bit harsh as I'm sure the son was inspired to tell the story just to share it, but he also made money off of it, so he did use him in a sense).

As I did with the first, I would recommend this book. Keep in mind that the book makes no pretense to be an objective treatise on the holocaust - this is a survivor's tale and it is at the subjective, individual level of one person who made it through. It is compelling and hopefully a warning for future generations about the potential maliciousness humans are capable of forcing on other humans.

5-0 out of 5 stars A "must-read" for WWII history buffs.

If you have ANY interest in WWII history or specifically the Holocaust, I implore you to pick up these two titles (Maus I and II). They are easy-to-read, informative, and HISTORICALLY accurate.

The author's/artist's method of detailing his own struggles with his family's past and present combined with his father's narrative of survival during the Nazi regime is quite effective. The reader is drawn into the story on two fronts - as Vladek (the father) the reluctant but resourceful witness to the Holocaust, and as Art (the son), who is searching for answers to questions on many different levels.

To those who are looking for Military History, I agree with the previous reviewer. This is not about the military. Then again, I don't think it was supposed to be.

In addition, people who have trouble with abstract anthropomorphisms should steer clear. If, having read Animal Farm, you found yourself fuming that the blue collar worker was being represented by a horse, you should also probably skip these.

Otherwise, read them.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
The brilliant continuation of the MAUS story, I think I enjoyed the second part even more than the first. It's in this book that Spiegelman really brings out the connection between what happened then in Europe and what is happening now in America.

This is a more interesting part of the story from a character standpoint. The relationship between Art and his father Vladek is painted in its most frustrating and endearing tones in this volume. An amazing piece of historical fiction, and even better feat of interpersonal storytelling.

5-0 out of 5 stars Cuts Through the Numbness
There is only one problem with Holocaust movies and books such as Schindler's List, The Pianist, and Night: there are a lot of them. They tell these grim, heartbreaking stories which we ought never forget, lest we repeat them, but I fear that the overload of Holocaust images sometimes does the opposite. There is so much that they almost take on a marked unreality. We can almost become numb to them.

Then, there comes Maus, with the same type of horrors, the same type of events, but it manages to break through that numbness. The visual images are somewhat problematic, but I think it almost serves to make them more compelling, helping the bare emotion come screaming off the page. The modern relationship with Vladek and Art adds to the immediacy and modern relavence of the story also.

Maus is a powerful read and one which is essential for anyone studying the Holocaust.

3-0 out of 5 stars A continuation of a riveting story...
I strongly recommend reading the first Maus before starting this book. In this book, the author's relationship with his father is explored further, and we get to see how his father survived the Holocaust. The horrors this one man went through make it seem unbelievable that he is alive to tell his story. The theme of Art's struggle of accepting his religion is also explored as a sub-theme. The illustrations are also much more detailed than a first thought, so make sure you take a good look at them. ... Read more

70. Diary of a Provincial Lady (Provincial Lady)
by E.M. Delafield, E. M. Delafield
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0897330536
Catlog: Book (1991-03-01)
Publisher: Academy Chicago Publishers
Sales Rank: 198197
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Terribly, awfully, wonderful book of life between the wars
This charming book was written in the period between the wars, and tells of the daily trials and tribulations of the Provincial Lady - dealing with the servants, nosy neighbours, the horribly snobbish local 'upper class', the husband who hides behind the paper. Always told with style and wit, we observe life for the lady in question as she tries to balance the accounts (never a success - where does it all go?), help out at the local Women's Institute, keep her wardrobe up to date and deal with such important issues as modern parenting, keeping one's brain active when living outside of London, and the delicate balance of letting the husband know not too much or too little.

The stand-out thing about this book is the character descriptions and her take on everyday life. If anyone ever tells you people were much nicer/politer in the good old days, just refer them to this book, which shows that there was just as many selfish, impolite, venal, self-centred and downright rude people in the 'good old days' as there are today. We just need to hope that we can deal with them with as much style and aplomb as the Provincial Lady would.

4-0 out of 5 stars British Wit. Same women world as we know it...
Am determined to write impressions from this book in the style of "the Provincial Lady" herself. Am doubtful however as to the outcomes of this effort as my highest labors would not reach the dry frank witticism she displays.
Provincial Lady does her best to satisfy the wishes of silent husband (... "Robert, this morning, complains of insufficient breakfast. Cannot feel that porridge, scrambled eggs, toast, marmalade, scones, brown bread and coffee give adequate grounds for this, but admit that porridge is slightly burnt...."), intimidating cook, beloved children (... "Robin - whom I refer to in a detached way as "the boy" so that she shan't think I am foolish about him..., "Vicky,.... Enquires abruptly whether, if she died, I should cry?"), Mademoiselle (the nanny), Gardner and all kinds of friends and neighbors including the tiring Lady Birkenshop, "our vicar's wife" and the hated Mrs. B. ("query: Is not a common hate one of the strongest links in human nature?... answer, most regrettably, in the affirmative.")
This is the same women world. Husband is as usual quiet and does not give any consolation and the Lady struggles to please everyone and not forget herself and her own wishes (and health) on the way. How very sad to discover it was the same (woman) world even 70 years ago ... Book is so very candid and manages to capture the ever lasting nuances of human behavior ("Mem: Candid and intelligent self examination as to motive, etc., often leads to very distressing revelations...."), little lies, social pretenses and the day to day struggles. Funny and entertaining yet can be tiring at times - since the day to day life is indeed tiring . Very very British and thus charming.

4-0 out of 5 stars Witty stay at home mum's life, dated and timeless too
I reread this every year or two, and love it each time. Admittedly,a product of its time and place, capturing life among the genteely-poor gentry in an English village between the wars(WW's I & II). The diary format makes the provincial lady's narration of and commentary on the events around her doubly funny, as she struggles to run her household and not be driven crazy by nice but dull husband, snobbish wife of husband's boss,disputes among servants,quandaries about children, etc.--and to find time to keep a sense of herself as a professional writer. Not deep, but funny and often touching.

3-0 out of 5 stars Charming but Dated
This was a simply written and quite charming novel. Whilst it did give an insight into the lives of a moderately wealthy English family in 1931, it lacked plot and real structure and for this reason I am unlikely to read more by this author at this stage - especially when there are simply too many other great books out there to read. A gentle, easy read but a little disappointing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolute Must! Witty, charming and intelligent
Delafield's Diary of a Provencial Lady is a classic that shares company with the likes of Eudora Welty, Kate Chopin and even Twain. Unlike Welty, Delafield is chatty. But don't let the airy prose fool you. She captures all the wit and humor of a woman's provencial life in England. Where Chopin's Awakening is tragic and dream-like, Delafield's world briskly bumbles along. Her use of present tense almost makes you breathless. Delafield immediately sets a quick pace and you want to read on and on to to keep up with all the "goings on" in the book. The piece is masterfully written and is a must for those looking to expand their literary boundaries. ... Read more

71. Gift and Mystery : On the fifteth anniversary of my priestly ordination
by John Paul, John Paul
list price: $9.95
our price: $8.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385493711
Catlog: Book (1999-04-20)
Publisher: Image
Sales Rank: 86182
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (6)

4-0 out of 5 stars Should your son be a priest?
As you might expect from such a great person, the Pope's book provides few insights into the Pope himself. He does show how our own lives can influence others, especially in a cumulative way, as the he tells of all of those who influenced his entering the priesthood. He cites the religiosity of his father; the holiness of Jan Tyranowski; the writings of St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Louis Marie de Montfort; the devotions in his parish, to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and of the brown scapular. The reader can't help but wonder if there is a link between the lack of devotions today and the lack of vocations today.

A priest's life is challenging. He must be attentive and sympathetic; critical and watchful with regard to historical developments; a giver of Christ; a spiritual father -- especially in the Confessional; holy; constantly training, studying and updating; promoting the family; defending mankind; in dialog with the youth; in dialog with the culture; intellectual and scholarly; and living the Gospel.

But a priest's life is most rewarding. The priest is "a steward of the mysteries of God." An essential part of his mission is fulfilled in the Confessional. The priest is an essential being in the only suitable offering that man can make to God, the offering of God-made-man, an offering made at every Mass. The priest is so united to Christ at Mass that he is "in the person of Christ." What a beautiful reflection on the Mass is offered by the Pope!

The challenge of the priesthood seems overwhelming. It would be without God. It is "a mystery of divine election."

Every parent of a potential priest should read this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Loving Gift to Priests and Seminarians
'Gift and Mystery' is indeed an affectionate gift from Pope John Paul II to all those who pursue a priestly vocation. It is the story of his own priestly call which is a Divine gift as well as a great mystery. On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of his priestly ordination, the Pope reflects on his own growth in his vocation to priesthood and his ministry as 'a shepherd of God's mysteries'. We follow him through his college studies, his job in the stone quarry, his love for the theater and his theological studies to his ordination to priesthood. His deep faith and reliance on God, his gratefulness and kindness towards others, his devotion and dedication to the priestly commitment are all laid out before us with clarity and love. As he himself says, what is related here belongs to his "deepest being" and "innermost experience". Every priest and seminarian should read this and draw energy and inspiration from this 'Holy Father' and spiritual giant of our day.

5-0 out of 5 stars Honesty Testimony from an Honest Man
Pope John Paul II is an intellectual giant, capable of holding his own with any great thinker. However, JP2 has been blessed with an ability to relate his innermost longings and ideas to even children. Gift and Mystery is a recollection that can hold the interest of any scholar while making a schoolboy smile. The pope methodically retells his soul's desire to be united to God and to follow His will as a young boy, employing a most vulnerable state of being to the reader. We follow the pope through his college and seminary days with delight until that wonderful day this man was ordained a priest of the Lord. With clarity and love, JP2 gives us a taste of the power of the Holy Spirit transforming him into the glorious leader he is today. At the same time, it gives us a hope and a vision of what God can also do in our own lives. A true masterpiece!

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book from a very holy man
This vocation story of Pope John Paul II is a truly inspiring tale of how he came to his decision of answering his vocation to the Priesthood. He shares how the different factors of his life and different people in his life helped prepare him for the Priesthood, and benefit his spiritual life. This is a great book for those, such as myself, who aspire the Priesthood.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Life
Pope John Paul II examines the course of his life from a war-torn Poland, to the halls of The Vatican. At the end of the book, the reader is sure to realize that most of the time, the greatest gifts in our lives start off as mysteries. We start off in the fog, and as we live, we begin to see the path unfold in front of us. ... Read more

72. Gandhi An Autobiography:The Story of My Experiments With Truth
by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Mahadev Desai, Sissela Bok
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
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Asin: 0807059099
Catlog: Book (1993-11-01)
Publisher: Beacon Press
Sales Rank: 4983
Average Customer Review: 4.44 out of 5 stars
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Gandhi's nonviolent struggles in South Africa and India had already brought him to such a level of notoriety, adulation, and controversy that when asked to write an autobiography midway through his career, he took it as an opportunity to explain himself. Although accepting of his status as a great innovator in the struggle against racism, violence, and, just then, colonialism, Gandhi feared that enthusiasm for his ideas tended to exceed a deeper understanding. He says that he was after truth rooted in devotion to God and attributed the turning points, successes, and challenges in his life to the will of God. His attempts to get closer to this divine power led him to seek purity through simple living, dietary practices (he called himself a fruitarian), celibacy, and ahimsa, a life without violence. It is in this sense that he calls his book The Story of My Experiments with Truth, offering it also as a reference for those who would follow in his footsteps. A reader expecting a complete accounting of his actions, however, will be sorely disappointed.

Although Gandhi presents his episodes chronologically, he happily leaves wide gaps, such as the entire satyagraha struggle in South Africa, for which he refers the reader to another of his books. And writing for his contemporaries, he takes it for granted that the reader is familiar with the major events of his life and of the political milieu of early 20th-century India. For the objective story, try Yogesh Chadha's Gandhi: A Life. For the inner world of a man held as a criminal by the British, a hero by Muslims, and a holy man by Hindus, look no further than these experiments. --Brian Bruya ... Read more

Reviews (50)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Gandhi Introduction.
I approached this book with some trepidation as my Indian friends are divided in their attitude to Gandhi (some regard him almost as a saint, others are far more ambiguous). There's no doubting Gandhi's place as a major figure in twentieth century history, but would learning more about him create a good or disappointing image?

I would start with a word of caution. This book only covers Gandhi's life from 1869 to 1921. Therefore I treated this book as an introduction to the man, a preparation for further reading. I suppose an equally legitimate method would be to adopt an opposite approach and start with a biography then finish with this book.

I reflected that any comments I made here might only serve to reveal my ignorance of Indian culture and history - I'm sure I missed (or misinterpreted) many nuances. Full appreciation of this book may only be possible if you are either Indian or have a better knowledge than mine.

Nonetheless, I found it an easy book to read - the short chapters helped me keep up a good pace. Indeed Gandhi's style is to pick episodes from his life and reflect on them. Although the book is written chronologically, it very much has a "dipping in and out" feel rather than a linear narrative.

I was left with the impression that this man was no saint (and would have been horrified at the very thought). There were aspects of his character I found puzzling or frustrating: I've never been impressed by anyone who advocates physical self-denial after having produced a litter of offspring; much of the book is devoted to dietetics - a subject Gandhi was so obsessed with it affected his health very badly; and his treatment of his children was, well to be charitable, distinctly odd.

I felt that there was a large amount of self-righteousness in the man, and an obsessive delight in self-denial. Yet withal, should we expect any human to be without fault, and how should Gandhi's faults be judged when compared with his role in securing Indian independence - without Satyagraha would it have been even more bloody than it was? That might be a better mounument to him than this book.

3-0 out of 5 stars Gandhi: A Man of Peace, a Man of Peas
Once upon a time there was a man who took nothing for granted - no philosophy, no theology, no lifestyle - for how could he know which were proper, which were true, which led to the Divine, to knowledge of God? How could he know unless he tested them himself? So that's what he did. No, I'm not talking about Alan Greenspan. Mohandas Gandhi was that man and GANDHI, AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY: MY EXPERIMENTS WITH TRUTH is his story. The Autobiography is a description of how he developed and applied his personal philosophy to his life, or rather, how his spirituality evolved as he experimented with differing lifestyles and theologies in his search for Absolute Truth. But be careful. This book may not be what you expect. Want to know about the life of Gandhi from a historical perspective? You're better off looking elsewhere. Gandhi didn't intend for his autobiography to be such a book. A good alternative is Ved Mehta's MAHATMA GANDHI AND HIS APOSTLES (Viking, 1977), which stresses the historic context and social relevance of Gandhi's life. If you want insight into the origins of Satyagraha (non-violent resistance) directly from its creator, you will find one of Gandhi's other books, SATYAGRAHA IN SOUTH AFRICA (Greenleaf, 1979), to be a much better source. Although Satyagraha may be the most influential experiment of his life, it was by no means the only one.

You see, Gandhi tells us his life was a series of experiments, nothing more. He actively sought lifestyles and philosophies different from his own, tried the ones with merit, and adopted or rejected them based on his experience. In his own words, "I simply want to tell the story of my numerous experiments with truth, and as my life consists of nothing but those experiments, it is true that the story will take the shape of an autobiography," (xxvi). By following this path, he believed he might find self-realization and ultimately come face-to-face with God.

Despite this ethereal theme, the story is quite mundane. Gandhi's experiments took place in the real world, not just in cerebral debate and introspection. His story falls within a historical context, leading him on a path toward a lifestyle few are willing to emulate, a life of self-denial and simplicity. From strict vegetarianism (fruit and nuts only) to celibacy (he swore off having sex with his wife (or anyone else, for that matter)), to the rejection of the most meager creature comforts, Gandhi's commitment to principle seems extreme and obsessive to us. This commitment to principle became both the key asset and primary flaw in his character. More than once, principle led him to deny medical treatment to seriously ill family members so he could experiment on them with harebrain "water," "earth," and dietary cures in which he believed. And yet, this same commitment to principle was the crucial component to his achievements toward peace and equality. Gandhi was a serious man whom you probably wouldn't invite to your bachelor party.

On the practical side, Gandhi is true to his word, giving us an undecorated account of his spiritual journey - the good with the bad. The book is stylistically straightforward, written chronologically in chapters brief enough to absorb during the average sit.

On the other hand, it is often tedious and screams for annotation. The litany of south Asian names can be difficult for westerners to keep track of or pronounce. Gandhi discusses historical figures and events in passing without introduction or background, so keep a reference book handy. At the same time, he dwells on information you will find irrelevant. And then, of course, there's the problem all autobiographies have - you don't get to see how the story ends. Gandhi published the autobiography in 1927 and went on to live another twenty-one years before being assassinated - active, important years you might want to know about.

Does Gandhi make a good case for his method of experimentation and for the conclusions he reached through these experiments? That, dear reader, is for you to decide. But it is interesting that the more he experimented, the further he settled upon the uncompromising life of a Hindu ascetic. His exposure to the world brought him back to his roots, to the religion of his homeland, and implicit in this choice is the rejection of the values and theologies he found elsewhere. This is a troubling thought. Did he find no elements of Truth outside Hindu asceticism? Is he suggesting that each of us lead lives of celibacy and self-imposed poverty? Gandhi responds that there are many manifestations of the Divine. The path he chose made sense to him, but it is up to each individual to find his or her own way, to conduct his or her own experiments with Truth, just as he had done.

Some treat the Autobiography with a reverence due scripture. Scripture it is not, nor is it great literature. Nevertheless, you may very well find inspiration and insight for your own life, and you will certainly learn much about Gandhi, how he saw himself, his place, and his purpose.

5-0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this book
In his own words, Gandhi takes us through some of the experiences in his life, with each chapter forming at least one important learning lesson to him. All experiences, whether good or bad, had a positive learning lesson on him and contributed to his goal of seeking the truth.

One of his main beliefs was using non-violence as a means of protesting against acts of oppression and using international law to seek justice. This meant he never raised his fists or lowered himself to barbarism however much he was provoked, violated or attacked. In fact this seems to be the opposite attitude demonstrated by all terrorists and most countries (West, Middle East and East) where the belief is that violence and war works. As Gandhi says "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind".

As we have now entered the third of the world wars, where the weapons are horrific and the consequences unimaginable, Gandhi's words have never been more important. All politicians and world leaders should read this book. In fact everyone should read this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars The honesty in this book is absolutely relentless.
As notable as they are, Gandhi's political successes are not what attracts me to this man.He had a sincere desire to know his own faults and arrogances (and to therefore, rid himself of them).This is the key to curing human relations.In my own life, this is what I look for in people.They don't even have to like me, so long as they are genuine in their attempt to see me as I truly am, and themselves for what they truly are.
Gandhi's infamous 'non-violence' beliefs and abstaining lifestyle sprout from this attitude.I think it is imperative that we realize that noble actions are the 'sprouts', whilst the courage to face one's own arrogances is the 'core' of successful humanity.I mean, what happens when the 'actions' are credited as core? eg.Many people express noble slogans like "NO RACISM", yet feel hateful whilst doing so, perhaps even desiring harm come to the racists.Isn't yielding a peaceful slogan whilst feeling hateful, putting across mixed messages? Gandhi expressed genuine compassion for his 'enemies'.He wanted them to learn, not hurt.Even if 'non-violence' is a noble slogan, it isn't guarenteed to have positive effects.A slogan-yielder must show genuine desire to learn of his own arrogances (and not just desire to point out the target's arrogances), otherwise -the target will feel that you expect more of him than you do of yourself (hence, he will inevitably rebel).Brainwashing (nasty word!) is ALWAYS negative, regardless of how well-intended the founding cause was.Hence, Gandhi's successful influence on people was actually founded in his attitude toward himself.He was well trusted by people because his 'lack of hateful feelings' corresponded with the 'words they heard him speaking'.
What is the true nature of non-violence? Gandhi obviously meant this spiritually, even though he applied it to physical actions.He is 100% correct that violence has no role in the spiritual realm.But physically? His physical application is undoubtedly a rebellion against the human habit passing off ill-intended action as acts of neccessity.(eg. Nazi's later would explain away their racial exterminations as "survival of the fittest").
My definition of survival (and 'competition'); "survival= gain for the self, at the least cost to all else".Humans currently neglect the "at the least cost to all else" part of the equation.And Gandhi rebelled against this neglect.But, in his abstainance he may have overshot, with the naturally occuring "gain for the self" part lagging behind.As selfish as that phrase may sound, it is only selfish if "in absence of the other part" of the equation.However, abstainance can be a great learning experience so long as it is free flowing and freely chosen, and isn't obsessive or guilt-driven.Gandhi did inherently abstain with nature/God/love in mind.But, it did eat away at him also.So, it wouldn't be accurate to say that he'd perfected a balance, despite getting many things right.

Does all this mean I'm claiming he was incorrect? No.I'm merely claiming that his philosophy was incomplete.He made great spiritual progress, obviously.His advancement of humankind's understanding of physical combat's true role, is endlessly helpful.But to make sure his wisdoms don't go to waste, we mustn't sell ourselves short by assuming that we can't possibly add to his wisdom with our own (as if we daren't know something that he didn't).We need to allow ourselves to build on Gandhi's platform.That's the whole reason he set the platform.Not so we'd stagnate on it.
On a side note; I can relate to some reviewers using the word 'boring' to describe his writing (though I dare not use it myself, thru fear of UNhelpful votes.ha, ha).It's just that; Compassionate people are so determined not to feed arrogance into their world that -in abstaining their negative attributes, some of their positive ones can accidentally get caught up in the abstainance also.Hence the phenomenon "nice guys finish last".Nice people do risk 'being boring', in their efforts to not just -blurt out absolutely every (potentially destructive) urge that goes through their bodies and minds.So, I urge (controlledly 'urge', i assure:)) readers to be patient with him.You'll find no cheap comments here designed to 'pheign' being interesting.He much prefered to actually 'be' interesting.Much harder an art.

4-0 out of 5 stars What the Truth Reveals
In the book's introduction, Gandhi ascribes these words of the Hindu poet to himself:

Where is there a wretch
So wicked and loathsome as I?
I have forsaken my Maker,
So faithless have I been.

The cause of this wretchedness, Gandhi wrote, was "the evil passions within that keep me so far from Him, and yet I cannot get away from them." These thoughts echo those of the Apostle Paul who, while desiring to do good, found that evil worked within him. He bemoaned, "Oh wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from the body of this death?" Both men realized they could not perform what the truth required, and because they loved truth, it made them feel wretched.

Who then is righteous, if not Gandhi and Paul? The prophet Ezekial spoke of God's promise to "put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes." But such righteousness is seldom seen. Gandhi wrote disapprovingly of one Christian acquaintance "who knowingly committed transgressions, and showed me that he was undisturbed by the thought of them." Paul saw among his own converts in Corinth such immorality "that does not even exist among the heathens."

The promise does not fail, but faith wavers. The promise must be put to the test, as an experiment with truth. Then those who love the Truth may be revealed. ... Read more

73. Blood Done Sign My Name : A True Story
list price: $24.00
our price: $16.32
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0609610589
Catlog: Book (2004-05-18)
Publisher: Crown
Sales Rank: 10644
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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When he was but 10 years old, Tim Tyson heard one of his boyhood friends in Oxford, N.C. excitedly blurt the words that were to forever change his life: "Daddy and Roger and 'em shot 'em a nigger!" The cold-blooded street murder of young Henry Marrow by an ambitious, hot-tempered local businessman and his kin in the Spring of 1970 would quickly fan the long-flickering flames of racial discord in the proud, insular tobacco town into explosions of rage and street violence. It would also turn the white Tyson down a long, troubled reconciliation with his Southern roots that eventually led to a professorship in African-American studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison--and this profoundly moving, if deeply troubling personal meditation on the true costs of America's historical racial divide. Taking its title from a traditional African-American spiritual, Tyson skillfully interweaves insightful autobiography (his father was the town's anti-segregationist Methodist minister, and a man whose conscience and human decency greatly informs the son) with a painstakingly nuanced historical analysis that underscores how little really changed in the years and decades after the Civil Rights Act of 1965 supposedly ended racial segregation. The details are often chilling: Oxford simply closed its public recreation facilities rather than integrate them; Marrow's accused murderers were publicly condemned, yet acquitted; the very town's newspaper records of the events--and indeed the author's later account for his graduate thesis--mysteriously removed from local public records. But Tyson's own impassioned personal history lessons here won't be denied; they're painful, yet necessary reminders of a poisonous American racial legacy that's so often been casually rewritten--and too easily carried forward into yet another century by politicians eagerly employing the cynical, so-called "Southern Strategy." --Jerry McCulley ... Read more

Reviews (6)

2-0 out of 5 stars fiction reported as non fiction
As opposed to Tim Tyson, I have lived in Oxford most of my life and therefore truely know of the people, events, locations he supposedly researched extensively to write this book. This is a fictionalized account of an event. A black man was killed by a white man, but Tim Tyson doesn't know the truth as to what led up to it, nor the subsequent events. . I find it interested that the whites are depicted as "terrorists" and the blacks as "military operators".

As I know that many so called "facts" are not so, (names, events, locations, etc.) I have to suspect the remainder of the book. The sad result is to question all books written by him and ALL graduates of the Duke PHD program. Tyson should advertise his future writings as fiction as he would make a good writer of the southern genre.

5-0 out of 5 stars The making of a man committed to peace and justice
This extremely well-written memoir/nonfiction book about a horrible, racially motivated killing in N. Carolina illustrates the author's coming of age in the American South. As a professor in African-American history, the book is grounded in thorough research and historical context. I was even impressed by bibliography at the end of the book. This man has done his research and documented it well.

Tyson not only writes about the tragic event that changed his life (and the history of his hometown) when he was 10, but he also shares some of the history of the Black Freedom movement and the history of his own family, and the way it has affected him throughout his life.

What I thought was particularly interesting was how the U.S. has sanitized the history of the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in particular. When he was killed, Ronald Reagan actually had the gall to imply that he brought it on himself because of his lack of respect for law and order, and he accused the anti-war protestors for the assasination!

I was particularly touched by the stories about Tyson's amazing parents and feisty relatives, and others who stood up for justice and compassion. Tyson also writes openly about his angst and struggles to come to grips with his own prejudices.

I will recommend this book to everyone I know--I believe that it's a book that every American needs to read, to better understand the history of race relations in this country and how far we have yet to go.

5-0 out of 5 stars How The Rights Were Won
"'Daddy and Roger and 'em shot 'em a nigger.'" These are the initial words in _Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story_ (Crown Publishers) by Timothy Tyson. A shock opening is often to be distrusted, but not here; the words are those of a friend to the ten-year-old Tyson himself, and the book explains his efforts to come to an understanding of the 1970 murder and the subsequent revolution in race politics in his then home of Oxford, North Carolina. It lead him to do his master's thesis in history about the Oxford trials, but in this book he has not only given the history and the aftermath of the event in historical context, but has made it a memoir of his own growing up and his family's involvement in race relations. Parts of the story, including Tyson's relationship with his "Eleanor Roosevelt liberal" parents, are told with the love, humor and detail that many readers will associate with _To Kill a Mockingbird_. The struggle between the races is far from settled, but Tyson insists that this story from his time is an antidote to the "sugar-coated confections that pass for the popular history of the civil rights movement."

Brown vs. Board of Education, The Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act made no dent in Oxford. No black officials had entered into the local government. Blacks were employed in menial labor only. The public pool had been sold to become a private one, so that blacks never swam where whites did. Violence by blacks against whites was ruthlessly pursued, but not vice versa. The motivation for such action by whites, Tyson shows, was the same fear that has worked for centuries, that black men would have sex with white women. The trouble in Oxford was sparked by an allegation that Henry Marrow, a 23-year-old black veteran, had made a flirtatious remark to a white woman. He was in the store of Robert Teel, probably a member of the Klan. Teel and his son Larry ran down Marrow and shot him in the street as he pled for his life. Mobs the night of the murder firebombed buildings, destroyed stores and "...scared the hell out of most of the white people in Oxford, and some of the black ones, too." The violence was worse when the Teels were declared not guilty. White liberals like Tyson's father had Christian faith that white people would share power rather than having to have it seized from them by black people. He was eventually shifted out of Oxford because of his racial moderation. Tyson clearly admires the stance his father took, but concedes that moderate whites who spoke up and tried to be good examples wound up doing little to really improve racial equality.

Tyson quotes a liberal paper of the time that "discussion is a more promising way to racial accommodation than destruction," but says that there is an uncomfortable, indisputable fact: that in Oxford, whites "... did not even consider altering the racial caste system until rocks began to fly and buildings began to burn." Abolition was not accomplished by simple moral persuasion, nor was integration during the twentieth century. When he returned to the town to do his research for his thesis (including interviewing Robert Teel) he found that the local newspapers covering the period were absent from the newspaper's office, and the microfilms of them were gone from the library. The records of the trial from the courthouse, he was told, had similarly disappeared (but he sneaked into the basement of the courthouse and found them). He eventually delivered his own thesis to the library, which by the time he did so was glad to accept it; but he found later that someone had torn out the pages dealing with Henry Marrow's murder. _Blood Done Sign My Name_ may well be a story that some Americans would rather not hear. This eloquent book is not just a bleak assessment of the times. It is full of love for some very odd family members and friends. Tyson is unsparing about his own slow awareness of racial matters, explaining how he didn't want to drink from a playground fountain after a black boy did, finally taking a drink after letting the water rinse everything out first; "I guess that made me a moderate," he winces. The humane touches of memoir by a masterful storyteller lighten the sad history; the characters are good guys and bad guys still, but drawn realistically: "There is no moral place in this story where anyone can sit down and congratulate themselves," he writes. And finally, "We cannot address the place we find ourselves because we will not acknowledge the road that brought us here." Tyson's book is an eloquent invitation to such acknowledgement.

4-0 out of 5 stars A reminder to remember
"Blood" is a story that doesn't tell us to be pristine in our attitudes about race. In fact, the book reminds us actions speak a whole lot louder than words. Nevertheless, I was thankful that the author has a gift for the written word.

The author's father, a minister and a race liberal, was not typical of his time or place with respect to his racial attitudes. Yet his attitudes were obviously born of his religion and region just as much as the Klan's. Likewise the black community is portrayed as heterogeneous even in the small town South, a fact which is highlighted by the militancy of Vietnam veterans whose path to equality was informed by their military service.

This book impressed on me the importance of being honest about our past. Murders, kidnappings, beatings, riots, and rebellions are not just "excesses" committed by evil and emotional people, sometimes they are tactical. Violence and the destruction of property communicate as powerfully as as sermons or stump speeches. And the because memory of violence survives, reconciliation can only be based on acknowledgement and investigation. Especially in the context of the re-opening of the Emmett Till investigation (not to mention events in Iraq), this book will hopefully inspire fresh local investigations of the violence (South, North, East and West) that fueled the acommplishment of formal legal equality.

5-0 out of 5 stars Freedom is a constant struggle
In BLOOD DONE SIGN MY NAME, Timothy Tyson details the triumph and the shame inherent in American history, with no quarter given to any assumptions or preconcieved notions. Interweaving his stirring personal narrative with an often disturbing, yet ultimately enriching, examination of the freedom struggle in North Carolina and beyond, Tyson spares no one - not even himself or his family - of his hard and direct analysis. Thus, BLOOD acts as a striking blow against our gauzy reminiscing about the Civil Rights Movement, while simultaneously reminding us of the true value of that movement and the people within it (as well as a reminder that the work isn't nearly done). Tyson's urgent tone is consistent with William Faulkner's assertion that the past "isn't even past," nor was it a series of easily achieved inevitabilities. Funny, brash, unflinching, BLOOD DONE SIGN MY NAME is the best kind of American non-fiction, one which travels on both sides of a road that, to quote an old bluegrass song, is often mighty dark to travel. A secular sermon of the highest order, helping us to better understand ourselves and leading us to fellowship. ... Read more

74. Desert Queen : The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally ofLawrence of Arabia
list price: $15.95
our price: $10.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385495757
Catlog: Book (1999-07-20)
Publisher: Anchor
Sales Rank: 2227
Average Customer Review: 3.29 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Turning her back on her privileged life in Victorian England, Gertrude Bell (1868-1926), fired by her innate curiosity, journeyed the world and became fascinated with all things Arab. Traveling the length and breadth of the Arab region, armed with a love for its language and its people, she not only produced several enormously popular books based on her experiences but became instrumental to the British foreign office. When World War I erupted, and the British needed the loyalty of the Arab leaders, it was Gertrude Bell's work and connections that helped provided the brain for T. E. Lawrence's military brawn. After the war she participated in both the Paris and Cairo conferences, played a major role in creating the modern Middle East, and was generally considered the most powerful woman in the British Empire.

In this incident-packed biography, Janet Wallach reveals a woman whose achievements and independent spirit were especially remarkable for her times, and who brought the same passion and intensity to her explorations as she did to her rich romantic life. Too long eclipsed by Lawrence's fame, Gertrude Bell emerges in this first major biography as a woman whose accomplishments rank as crucial to world history (especially in light of the continuing geopolitical importance of the Middle East) and whose life was a grand adventure. ... Read more

Reviews (28)

2-0 out of 5 stars A tedious rendering of an interesting life
Gertrude Bell was a fascinating woman, doing things that women just didn't do in the early part of this century: meeting Arabian royalty (and bandits and terrorists as well), going places uncharted by European men or women, and becoming something of a heroine to many Arabs of high and low rank. But this book, though it starts off well, becomes rough going fairly quickly. It feels as if Wallach quotes extensively from Bell's letters simply because she had access to them, not because they were always interesting or enlightening (though some were). There is lots of repetition (we must hear about once every two or three pages that she drank "bitter coffee"; the phrase "Young Turks" is defined three times, each time slightly differently, inside of about one hundred pages) and inexact detailing (three fairly detailed maps of the Middle East still leave out a number of sites important to the events of the book). By the end, when Bell was doing her most important political work in the construction of modern-day Iraq, I was skimming over the thick accrual of tedious detail that doesn't really bring Bell to life in the way she deserves.

5-0 out of 5 stars A sweeping biography of a woman ahead of her time
A sweeping, fascinating tale of a woman ahead of her time. This will written, well researched biography was hard to put down. Gertrude Bell herself, a contemporary of Lawrence of Arabia, was a complex, brilliant woman whose life was peppered with many tragedies as well as adventures. Diminutive in size, she scaled mountains, camped in the desert and broke bread with tribal chiefs. She felt more at ease in the Middle East than her own homeland of England, where Victorian women were ruled by social confines. Perhaps it was because of her sex that Arabians allowed her more carte blanche. In a countryland which shuts its women off like trophies, Bell was often treated more like a preistess. She had the audacity to be ultimately feminine and intelligent at the same time, which gave her a special status on foreign soil. Professionally, Bell triumphed, and was accepted as an authority on the Middle East. Her love life, however, as well as relationships with her own family, fell short. If you want to entreat yourself to an adventure of a female "Indiana Jones", I recommend this book. Even if you don't care for Gertrude Bell's character, you will not forget her.

2-0 out of 5 stars A somewhat lame retelling of an extraordinary life
As the crisis in the Middle East continues, I find myself trying to explore how we got here. That search lead me to "Desert Queen" and the story of Gertrude Bell. I had heard of Bell of course. She pops us in a few places in TE Lawrence's "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom" and she was Churchill's great protagonist at the Cairo Conference. But she lived an extraordinary life, of which her service to the British Empire in the First World War and beyond was only a part. Yes, she was the only female political officer of the war. But before that she journeyed throughout Mesopotamia, the Levant and Arabia, often with only a small group of guides.

The book is well researched and describes her travels. Yet, you feel as if there is something missing. The author spends a lot of time and print discussing Bell's failed love life, and what she was wearing to the conferences and meetings at times seems more important than the meetings themselves. Yes, Bell was a product of her age. She was a militant ANTI-Suffragette, longed desperately for a husband and family, and was, at heart, a spoilt girl of the upper class, who even during the War in Iraq and the anti-British uprisings afterward (sound familiar), was seemingly more concerned about having the latest fashions delivered to her. Given the parallels between the current crisis in Iraq and the British imperial experience, this book could have been even more relevant but the author's focus on Bell's "feminine side" detracted from the essential story.

Still, the book rights a great wrong, and hopefully will rekindle interest in Gertrude Bell's career.

5-0 out of 5 stars A woman beyond her time
This was one of the most fascinating women of her time. Bold, beautiful, and smart. She went where most men wouldn't dare. This book is not only a tribute to Gertrude Bell, but a great insight into the history of Iraq,and the middle east, the people and, why they may not ever be a democracy.

3-0 out of 5 stars Hard to believe it is true
I agree with other reviewers that the book has some serious stylistic weaknesses. A bit of editing would help the first few chapters. However, as an introduction to the conplicated and confusing history of the area, I found it to be painlessly clarifying. The maps in the front were especially helpful.

I can hardly believe that Gertrude Bell is real. It was a thrill to read about a true adventurer that dared the absurd.That she had such tenacity, dedication to the scholarly, fearlessness, and pluck makes this an especially good book for young women to read. ... Read more

75. The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln
by C.A. Tripp
list price: $27.00
our price: $17.82
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Asin: 0743266390
Catlog: Book (2005-01-11)
Publisher: Free Press
Sales Rank: 116835
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76. Careless Love : The Unmaking of Elvis Presley
by Peter Guralnick
list price: $17.95
our price: $12.21
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Asin: 0316332976
Catlog: Book (2000-02-10)
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Sales Rank: 11045
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"Here at last is the full, true, and mesmerizing story of Elvis Presley's last two decades, in the long-awaited second volume of Peter Guralnick's masterful two-part biography.Last Train to Memphis, the first part of Guralnick's two-volume life of Elvis Presley, was acclaimed by the New York Times as "a triumph of biographical art." This concluding volume recounts the second half of Elvis' life in rich and previously unimagined detail, and confirms Guralnick's status as one of the great biographers of our time. Beginning with Presley's army service in Germany in 1958 and ending with his death in Memphis in 1977, Careless Love chronicles the unraveling of the dream that once shone so brightly, homing in on the complex playing-out of Elvis' relationship with his Machiavellian manager, Colonel Tom Parker. It's a breathtaking, revelatory drama that for the first time places the events of a too-often mistold tale in a fresh, believable, and understandable context.Elvis' changes during these years form a tragic mystery that Careless Love unlocks for the first time. This is the quint essential American story, encompassing elements of race, class, wealth, sex, music, religion, and personal transformation. Written with grace, sensitivity, and passion, Careless Love is a unique contribution to our understanding of American popular culture and the nature of success, giving us true insight at last into one of the most misunderstood public figures of our times. " ... Read more

Reviews (68)

4-0 out of 5 stars Poignant and Sad, Never a Work of Caricature
We all think we know the post-Army Elvis. He's the gradually fattening lounge act on steroids (and other assorted chemicals) who cranked out awful movies with mechanical regularity. His talent rebounded in the late 60s with his NBC comeback special and some of his live performances to remind us what he meant when his first performances made a young Bob Dylan feel like he was breaking out of jail. Reading Guralnick's successor to "Last Train From Memphis," one is reminded of the old line that airplane pilots experience 98 percent sheer boredom and 2 percent sheer terror. This resembles Elvis's life, enclosed in a dual prison of Graceland's walls and the companionship of the "Memphis Mafia"--his cronies and pals whose lives consisted of serving the King's often bizarre whims, and awaiting his generous handouts. The predicament echoes China's last emperors in their Forbidden City, ruling a landscape they can no longer see and in which they no longer mattered.

This book oozes sadness, and I sensed that Guralnick, whose prose crackles with energy even describing Elvis at his most pathetic, felt personally disappointed with the great waste of talent Elvis's life became. In the preface and on the book's last page, Guralnick makes reference to the mythic Elvis we encountered in "Last Train." In between, a chronicle of pathos unfolds. Guralnick could have used the decline and fall to interrogate the American mythology Elvis once fulfilled, to show how ultimately false it proved. Instead, we get a touchingly human portrait of a man living in the chaos that celebrity creates. I wouldn't wish celebrity on my worst enemy. One is struck by Elvis's loneliness, by the sense of loss occasioned by his mother's death, and from which he clearly never recovered.

The mythic Elvis is still here, particularly in the burst of achievement from the '68 Comeback Special, through the American Recordings with Chips Moman, and the early stands in Vegas. But even when recounting the saddest days of his apotheosis in the mid-70s, Guralnick's tale suddenly shows Elvis explode out of his stupor with charisma and passion, leading his band through the occasional great session or show. Elvis's bizarre obsession with law enforcement and completely surreal desire to meet Richard Nixon and volunteer to serve the country as a Narcotics Agent has something of greatness about it. All that vitality had to go somewhere, and if it's not fed with healthy outlets, it manifests itself strangely.

When I visited Graceland as a tourist a few years ago, the walls still seethed with the boredom the place must have witnessed. Guralnick captures the pathos without descending to the pathetic, while still maintaining a perspetive on his subject that dilutes none of the passion.

5-0 out of 5 stars A poingant, depressing, and insightful look at Elvis...
First and foremost, this is a depressing book. There is a warning in the author's note that the book is about a tragedy, and this is an understatement. Elvis Presely's "fall" was a hard and bitter one. This book outlines events starting in 1960 up to Presely's death in 1977. Things start out looking pretty good for Elvis as he leaves the army and begins his career almost anew, but as the 1970s emerge, things start to cloud over, and the book follows the downward spiraling vortex that Presley and his somewhat bizarre and almost constantly fluctuating entourage followed up to the end. Along the way, Guralnick allows readers to draw their own conclusions about Presley. Mostly the book outlines details of certain events - sometimes so detailed one wonders if Guralnick was there himself - interspersed with commentary from people who lived through these same events. It is not an uplifting read. One gets the impression that Presley's fame isolated him from pretty much the human race, made him untouchable (reprisals were feared by anyone is his immediate "gang", and it didn't help matters that most of them were on his payroll) and ultimately put him beyond the help of his own family and the people who he thought were his friends. Presely's fame turns horrendously destructive in the 1970s, and some of the stories and anecdotes may make the sensitive reader wince. Some of the stories are just downright strange: Presley's religious enlightenment from seeing an image in the clouds of the face of Stalin turn into the face of Jesus; Presley's determination to secure himself a position of Narcotics officer from President Nixon; the pranks Preseley and his retinue play on each other, on audiences, and on themselves; the fact that, as record sales declined, Presely's revenue actually increased. Other anecdotes have a more disturbing undertow: Presley's manipulation and abject objectification of the women in his life, and the fact that many of them kept coming back even after being brusquely brushed off; Presley's fascination with guns, and his sometime not so comforting habit of pointing them at people when angry; Presely's wild, erratic, and irresponsible spending; Presley's inability to take advice from his wife, girlfriends, business manager, and even his own father on dire personal matters (e.g., his finances, his marriage, his health). It is a tragedy to read about someone who both cared about people but also put himself above others in a way that put him beyond their help or aid.

The figure of "the Colonel" lurks behind the entire story. He has Presley's business needs in mind, and, due to his business acumen, makes Presley (and himself) multi-millionaires beyond imagination. It's amazing to read how the Colonel is able to make more and more money from Movie studios, even as movies starring Presley are on a sharp decline in revenue and popularity. The whole story is mind boggling. In the end, the Colonel thought he was taking care of Elvis in the best way he knew how, but insatiable greed and insular attention to the bottom line and almost nothing else probably hurt Presley more than it helped him in the long run. Guralnick does not say this anywhere in the book. Again, the reader must draw moral conclusions based on the evidence. Guralnick does not moralize apart from calling the story a tragedy, and this makes this biography doubly interesting, as different readers will likely draw different conclusions based on their own interpretations of the delineated events. Who is to blame in the end? Is it fair to blame one or a few people? Is it fair to blame Presley? These questions are not answered (as they shouldn't be) but much food for thought is presented. As usual in life, the answer is far more complicated than mere finger pointing can accommodate. Guralnick handles this subject with eloquence and a distance that pull the reader in and allow for reflection upon what happened. This is not the usual shoddy rock biography that typically clutters the "Music" section of bookstores. This is a story to sink one's cognitive teeth into and reflect upon. Warning: this book will make you think; it will make you moralize; it will make you angry and frustrated at what happened, and it will make you ask "Why?" Regardless if you are an Elvis Presley fan or not (I'm really not; I was very young when Presley passed on) this is a book worth reading. It is a thick book, but a quick read (keep your dictionary handy nonetheless). Once you're in fifty pages or so, you'll probably find yourself stuck on it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Well Written and Researched Tale of the King
There is one way to describe this book - wow, what a story.

The writing is just flat out good. Once you start reading be prepared to finish, except for those pesky breaks to sleep and work.

A very well written account of Elvis's life and actions in and out of the recording studio with lots of details, lots of hanky panky, road trips, recording sessions, flights, drugs, buying Cadillacs, the whole mess. Basically Elvis spent every cent he made. The colonel took each dollar and sent 50 cents to the IRS to keep Elvis out of trouble but Elvis and his "mafia" lived like kings where money was no object. If he was in the mood he would just pick up the phone and buy cars, trucks, land, food, whatever was his fancy. When he died Priscilla actually started to manage the finances and Graceland and then after he was dead, the money really increased.

With his love of music and his drive to create, he had hit after hit, a lull and then more hits, movies, hits, lulls, Las Vegas, and on and on. There were no limits until he came in collision with obesity and drugs. It all became very depressing and then it ended. Elvis came close to pulling back and recovering a few times but was unable or unwilling or not intelligent enough to see what was happening to himself. In that sense he was alone and in charge.

An enthralling and well written blockbuster that stays in your hands until the last page.

Jack in Toronto

5-0 out of 5 stars Stirring...
I picked up the book Careless Love. At the time the title puzzled me. Who was guilty of Careless Love? Elvis? Umm. Go figure. But upon completion of the book, I now realize no other title would have suited. Elvis was guilty of careless love as was the people whom he surrounded himself with daily and most importantly the fans.
Now, I find no joy in his music and it is painful for me to look at smiling happy picture's of him when he was at the height of his career. Why? Because I know how it all ends. The man, who would burst on the scene and shred American culture, all the while rebuilding it, fascinates me. He was a pioneer, a rebel. Everyone knows the story. Poor boy makes good. But the trajectory his life took is painful to follow. How could a man whose vision changed the music world not have had enough foresight to see his own destructive and erratic behavior?
Paul Guralnick writes the only account of Elvis that I trust implicitly. Why? Because his regard for Elvis as an artist is woven between even the most heart wrenching accounts of his life. Mr. Guralnick does not try to persuade you to like or dislike Elvis. He merely gives Elvis life and places him in front of you saying, "Here he make the decision on how you feel about him."
The book is a disturbing but respectful look at a man who was gifted beyond reason. Mr. Guralnick clearly demonstrates that the fame Elvis endured was even beyond him.

5-0 out of 5 stars You want to know who Elvis really was? Read this book!
A wonderful achievement. Thoroughly researched, beautifully written. You'll learn everything about the King you always wanted to know - plus some facts of which you had rather remained ignorant. Careless Love is on par with the first volume of Guralnik's Elvis-biography, "Last Train to Memphis" (see also my review of that outstanding work). ... Read more

77. The Frontiersmen: A Narrative
by Allan W. Eckert
list price: $15.00
our price: $12.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0945084919
Catlog: Book (2001-05-01)
Publisher: Jesse Stuart Foundation
Sales Rank: 5337
Average Customer Review: 4.95 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The frontiersmen were a remarkable breed of men. They were often rough and illiterate, sometimes brutal and vicious, often seeking an escape in the wilderness of mid-America from crimes committed back east. In the beautiful but deadly country which would one day come to be known as West Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, more often than not they left their bones to bleach beside forest paths or on the banks of the Ohio River, victims of Indians who claimed the vast virgin territory and strove to turn back the growing tide of whites. These frontiersmen are the subjects of Allan Eckert's dramatic history.

Against the background of such names as George Rogers Clark, Daniel Boone, Arthur St. Clair, Anthony Wayne, Simon Girty and William Henry Harrison, Eckert has recreated the life of one of America's most outstanding heroes, Simon Kenton. Kenton's role in opening the Northwest Territory to settlement more than rivaled that of his friend Daniel Boone. By his eighteenth birthday, Kenton had already won frontier renown as woodsman, fighter and scout. His incredible physical strength and endurance, his great dignity and innate kindness made him the ideal prototype of the frontier hero.

Yet there is another story to The Frontiersmen. It is equally the story of one of history's greatest leaders, whose misfortune was to be born to a doomed cause and a dying race. Tecumseh, the brilliant Shawnee chief, welded together by the sheer force of his intellect and charisma an incredible Indian confederacy that came desperately close to breaking the thrust of the white man's westward expansion. Like Kenton, Tecumseh was the paragon of his people's virtues, and the story of his life, in Allan Eckert's hands, reveals most profoundly the grandeur and the tragedy of the American Indian.

No less importantly, The Frontiersmen is the story of wilderness America itself, its penetration and settlement, and it is Eckert's particular grace to be able to evoke life and meaning from the raw facts of this story. In The Frontiersmen not only do we care about our long-forgotten fathers, we live again with them.

Researched for seven years, The Frontiersmen is the first in Mr. Eckert's "The Winning of America" series. ... Read more

Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Truly Great Book
I grew up in Jamestown, OH. We lived on St. Rt. 72 also known as Simon Kenton Trace. This is the area of Tecumseh and Blue Jacket. My Dad bought this book for me when I was in junior high. I read it, then re-read it often wondering why Simon Kenton didn't get the same treatment in history as Daniel Boone, Davey Crockett and others. If you are from SW Ohio it should be required reading. If you love American history you should read this book. I highly reccomend this book and will be digging for my old copy to read it again, soon.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Tale of the Eastern Frontier
I love this book! Eckert's classic tale of Simon Kenton and settlement of the Ohio Valley is a must read for anyone interested in the history of the United States. This book was recommended to me after reading Eckert's "Dark and Bloody River". It is exciting, highly engaging, and historically detailed. The notes at the end of the book are a novel by themselves. The story of Kenton, Boone, and the Kentucky settlers is truly amazing. It has often been said that this should be required reading in high school and I can't help but agree. Eckert's books take place in a time and place nearly forgotten by modern Americans. Children raised on the old "Cowboys and Indians" westerns never learn that there was a whole other "West" on the Eastern frontier and the Northwest Territory. I grew up in Ohio, and I never learned about many of the events that happened in my own back yeard until I began reading Eckert! Many people are surprised to learn that there were a number of very bloody and significant battles during the Revolutionary War west of the Appalaichans, right here in Ohio in fact. A whole chapter of our history is being forgotten, but luckily, Eckert's books help to prevent that.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best, Most Engaging American History Book
Except for the Holy Bible, THE FRONTIERSMEN, by Allan W. Eckert, is the best book I have ever read! A few years ago, I had the high privilege of telling Allan Eckert that in person.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Lively and Entertaining History of Ohio and NW Territory
This is the only history book I ever enjoyed reading. It is truly captivating, so be prepared to lose some sleep before you are through. Consider getting maps and pens ready to follow along on Simon Kenton's amazing adventures. I intend to retrace some of the journeys on my motorcycle, as the footnotes give modern place names and the landform descriptions are detailed enough to let you find exact positions for most important events.

5-0 out of 5 stars Re-live colonial AMerica
Would you like to know what life in 18TH century America was like? Read this book, as well as the other Allan W. Eckert narratives. Eckert is a masterful sotry-teller, who's writing takes you back to the days of colonial America. I have read all of the narratives and am on my second go 'round. Eckert pulls no punches in his discriptions and can get a little "bloddy" in places, but, history proves these were rough and dangerous times and many of the described incidences are based on first hand accounts and actual events. Don't like history? You will after reading these books! ... Read more

78. Miss You: The World War II Letters of Barbara Wooddall Taylor and Charles E. Taylor
by Judy Barrett Litoff, David C. Smith, Barbara Woodall Taylor, C Taylor, Charles E. Taylor
list price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0820311456
Catlog: Book (1990-04-01)
Publisher: Univ of Georgia Pr
Sales Rank: 722850
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79. Esquire The Meaning of Life : Wit, Wisdom, and Wonder from 65 Extraordinary People
by Esquire Magazine, Brenda Vaughan
list price: $19.95
our price: $19.95
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Asin: 1588162613
Catlog: Book (2004-10-01)
Publisher: Hearst
Sales Rank: 6801
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Book Description

Every month in Esquire, the captains of industry (Jack Welch) and the pop culture icons (Gene Simmons, Loretta Lynn), the leaders (Rudolph Giuliani) and the loudmouths (Don Rickles), reveal their philosophy of life in the What I’ve Learned column. Ten entertaining years’ worth of their often-humorous, always thoughtful advice, along with stunning portrait photography, is gathered in this sharply designed compilation. The contributors include Muhammad Ali, Bill O’Reilly, Faye Dunaway, former Secretary of State Robert McNamara, Hugh Hefner, Elvis Costello, Lou Reed, Suge Knight, and Julia Child.
... Read more

80. A Circle of Sisters: Alice Kipling, Georgiana Burne Jones, Agnes Poynter, and Louisa Baldwin
by Judith Flanders
list price: $27.95
our price: $19.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393052109
Catlog: Book (2005-03-30)
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Sales Rank: 41139
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Book Description

"Drive[s] a four-horse chariot through the nineteenth century....I have enjoyed this book more than I can say."—John Julius Norwich

The Macdonald sisters—Alice, Georgiana, Agnes and Louisa-started life in the teeming ranks of the lower-middle classes, denied the advantages of education and the expectation of social advancement. Yet as wives and mothers they would connect a famous painter, a president of the Royal Academy, a prime minister, and the uncrowned poet laureate of the Empire. Georgiana and Agnes married, respectively, the pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne-Jones and the arts administrator Edward Poynter; Louisa gave birth to future prime minister Stanley Baldwin, and Alice was mother to Rudyard Kipling. A Circle of Sisters brings to life four women living at a privileged moment in history. Their progress from obscurity to imperial grandeur indicates the vitality of 19th-century Britain: a society abundant with possibility. From their homes in India and England, the sisters formed a network that, through the triumphs and tragedies of their families and the Empire, uniquely endured. 16 pages of illustrations. ... Read more

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