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$11.16 $8.70 list($13.95)
81. If I Die in a Combat Zone : Box
$27.95 $4.84
82. Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story
$20.00 $17.00 list($22.50)
83. The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon
$10.50 $6.45 list($14.00)
84. Maus a Survivors Tale: My Father
$4.95 $2.88
85. The Story of My Life (Bantam Classic)
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86. The Eloquent President : A Portrait
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87. Benjamin Franklin : An American
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88. All But My Life : A Memoir
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89. Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible
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90. A Tale of Love and Darkness
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91. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
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92. The Kennedy Curse: Why Tragedy
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93. The Road from Coorain
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94. The Last Lion: Winston Spencer
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95. Master of the Senate: The Years
96. Memoirs (George F. Kennan Memoirs)
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97. Victoria's Daughters
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98. Living History
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99. The Last American Man
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100. Faith and Betrayal : A Pioneer

81. If I Die in a Combat Zone : Box Me Up and Ship Me Home
list price: $13.95
our price: $11.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0767904435
Catlog: Book (1999-09-01)
Publisher: Broadway
Sales Rank: 24341
Average Customer Review: 4.71 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars exceptional!
This is an excellent piece of literature. O'Brien is at his finest as he transcribes his experiences during the vietnam war. If you read "The Things They Carried" (which he wrote after this) you'll definately love this book. It's also interesting to observe some of the similarities to the characters in this memoir to those in The Things They Carried. It's exceptional, honestly. You wont be disappointed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Courage
A thinking man in Vietnam was a dangerous thing. Being a soldier in Vietnam was a dangerous thing. Tim O'Brien was both and somehow he managed to live to survive it and tell his story. He ends up in Vietnam after unsuccessfully dealing with his conflict between doing the right thing and being a courageous man. He tells of his decision not to follow his well planned escape route and stay with his country and its proposal to send him to Viet Nam. O'Brien describes Vietnam as a place with nameless soldiers and Buddys, faceless enemies and endless minefields.

This is an excellent text for learning about the experience of the Vietnam war, the choices that young man were faced with at that time and basic dilemmas in making moral decisions. It is a well written book which makes for a quick, satisfying read.

5-0 out of 5 stars War a Go Go
Whether academics would consider this a literary masterpiece or not, Tim's honesty and integrity make this a must-read account of his total Vietnam experience. I say total, because I found his description of his almost-AWOL phase to be one of the most fascinating parts of the book.

Morally and practically, his situation was infinitely more complex than that of a draft dodger, for whom there were known routes into Canada above all, and more clear cut decison processes involved. About 90,000 of the 100,000 draft dodgers fled to Canada, many of whom settled here long-term.

Yet as you read Tim's account of his guided tour of hell, you realize that, like all Vietnam Vets, and I have the honor of knowing many of both genders, his healing journey is one that he will not be undertaking alone. Sadly, there was nothing unique about his Vietnam experience, as he would be the first to tell you.

At one point, back in the late seventies, there was a statistic indicating that about 800,000 Vietnam Vets - about half the combat vets, were suffering from PTSD. Yet it became obvious that this figure, which did not even include the Army nurses and Docs who sewed everybody back together, was somewhat low. On reading If I Die, you can see how the Vietnam experience could stay with a person for the rest of his/her life, especially in view of the hostility that the Vets faced upon their return to 'The World'.

Vietnam was a tremendously divisive issue and the factors that Tim O'Brien had to balance during his almost-AWOL period, make you realize that the actual draft dodgers will also have their own healing to do. The only draft dodgers I have a problem with are the ones who fled to Canada, yet who claim to have done so because of their 'principles'.

No. The draft evaders with true integrity and principles either took the courageous step of joining the military as a Medic and refused to carry weapons, or like David Harris, Joan Baez's husband, went to jail for their principles - David was jailed for 3 years for Draft Evasion. The dodgers who ran to Canada did so because they were scared, pure and simple, and there is nothing wrong with being scared. Just don't lie about it - or you will never heal.

As for 'principles', if 100,000 people had forced the Government to jail them over the Vietnam issue, as David did, it might have made a difference. It might literally have ended the war years earlier, and saved young men like Tim from having to undergo such a psychologically damaging experience. Running away was a selfish act, but one which I do not judge - that is between them and God. Just don't try to sell me 'principles', boys. Ever.

Tim O'Brien is a great writer, and in If I Die, he really puts you in harm's way, among the trip-wire grenades, the panji stake pits, the minefields and the VC snipers. Yet hard as the Vietnam War was on the young draftees, the unforgivable thing is the fact that for many of these teenage soldiers, the hardest part was coming home. To quote from Paul Hardcastle's '19' (the average age of the combat soldier in Vietnam) "They fought the longest war in American history... None of them received a hero's welcome..."

Welcome home, Tim.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Early O'Brien...
O'Brien is simply my favorite author. I was curious to read this, his first book, a memoir of his real days in country. It is without the lyrical beauty and power of some of his other fictionalized accounts of war, but as he says in How to Tell a True War Story--what exactly is real in war? This is as close one can come...a fascinating account--perhaps most interesting is the down time--the mundane aspects of war. His honesty is disarming (no pun intended), but the polished O'Brien we know and love is still developing. It is an important book and worth the time spent.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good
As a Marine grunt(1968) In Vietnam, the book basically gives a good view into daily 'NAM' LIFE. Other reviewers gave a low rating thru their WELL-> READ knowledge of the war. There is a old Vietnam unwritten code "if you were not there, then you have no idea what happened or should not judge the ones who were. Vietnam vets don't talk about our experiences over there because there is no way a civilian could comprehend what we endured". The war was a horrible, minute by minute effort to stay alive but also a duty to protect your fellow marines , your fellow marines were your brothers. Read the book. Semper Fi ... Read more

82. Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton
by Barbara Olson
list price: $27.95
our price: $27.95
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Asin: 0895262746
Catlog: Book (1999-11-01)
Publisher: Regnery Publishing
Sales Rank: 81976
Average Customer Review: 4.29 out of 5 stars
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Hell to Pay is yet another book on Hillary Rodham Clinton, this time from a conservative lawyer who served as the Republican chief counsel for the congressional committee investigating the Clintons' involvement in "Travelgate" and "Filegate." Barbara Olson traces the now familiar biographies of the president and first lady, contending that Mrs. Clinton is someone with dangerously liberal, even radical, political beliefs who "now seeks to foment revolutionary changes from the uniform of a pink suit." (Olson plays the theme heavily: each chapter of Hell to Pay begins with quotes from Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, which influenced the young Hillary Rodham.)

There are some interesting new tidbits scattered throughout the book, like the fact that after law school Hillary Rodham tried to become a Marine Corps officer but was turned down; or that she told her high school paper her ambition after high school was "to marry a senator and settle down in Georgetown." Olson, attempting to dissect the mystery of the Clinton partnership, writes, "Most self-respecting women would have left" after Clinton's repeated infidelities. "Hillary chose to stay. She behaves as both a desperate lover, and like a frantic campaign manager protecting a flawed candidate.... Hillary, it seems, long ago accepted Bill Clinton as someone who could advance her goals, as a necessary complement to her intellectual cold-blooded pursuit of power." As the Clinton presidency draws to a close, that pursuit has taken her beyond the White House toward a bid for her own U.S. Senate seat. Olson predicts the Senate won't be enough, just the next step toward becoming the first woman president: "Hillary Clinton seeks nothing less than an office that will give her a platform from which to exercise real power and real world leadership." While Olson admits that "Bill Clinton has always excited the greatest passion not among his supporters, but among his detractors," the same could certainly be said of his wife--whose supporters will probably consider Hell to Pay a rehash of a too-familiar story, but whose detractors will no doubt savor every page. --Linda Killian ... Read more

Reviews (162)

Not being an American, it may be a little easier to look at Hillary Clinton in a completely objective manner. Based on my knowledge and experience in psychology and considering what has been publicized in the media throughout the "Clinton affair", I must agree with what Barbara Olson has written in this book. One could watch the television and see Hillary and Bill standing side by side, all smiles for the benefit of the media and easily see they were superficial. At times, the lack of emotion and stilted conversation reminded me of two Barbie dolls - Ken and Barbie at their finest.

While Ms. Clinton may have stayed with her husband out of love and loyalty, the real reason appears it was to feather her own nest for a political career - at any cost! I give the woman credit for pursuing her own dreams, goals and desires, but most women would have placed their own self-respect at the top of the list. A woman might choose to forgive one spousal indiscretion out of love and family, but how one could love someone who was continually unfaithful is another matter. Were there perhaps more skeletons in Ms. Clinton's own personal closet that have not become public? Ms. Clinton does not appear to be a woman lacking self-confidence or emotional security; therefore, one is left to question whether her true reasons for staying were for self-serving purposes, that is, to further her own political ambitions.

Barbara Olson obviously spent an enormous amount of time and energy in researching the facts in this book and has given readers a bird's-eye view of what makes Ms. Clinton tick and what does not. Whether the reader agrees with Olson's portrayal of Ms. Clinton is a matter of personal opinion. This is a compelling and straight-forward book that cuts no corners and definitely deserving of a five-star rating.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Very Dangerous Woman
This was one of the most educational books I have read in my life. Olson writes a compelling story about Hillary Clinton, starting with her middle-class upbringing in suburban Illinois. Growing up with a house full of men, Hillary felt she had to excel at everything in order to win her father's approval, which she never seemed to get. This was the only time I felt any empathy for this woman.
We've all heard the blatherings about the Clintons' scandals via the media. But the media never came close to telling us the truth, especially concerning their dealings with the Chinese government, who now has possession of our nuclear secrets. Barbara Olson not only illustrates their involvement but gives an unsettling picture of how Hillary Rodham Clinton's mind works. She is a megalomaniac who wants nothing more than absolute power over the American people, especially our children. Olson also gives us the scoop about Whitewater, the Lewinsky fiasco, and scores of other calamaties and injustices that went on inside the White House during their double-term. Basically, the Clintons perfected the Nixonian technique for covering their tracks, destroying a countless number of lies both figuratively and literally.
I would have liked to have read what really happened to Vincent Foster, Ron Brown, and several other officials who met untimely deaths. Olson barely skimmed this issue, but told how Vince Foster was Hillary's lawyer and possible lover. I can understand why Olson couldn't touch that issue, given her position in the Justice Department. But she portrays the Clintons for who they really are, slick criminals who will use anyone and any means to secure their agenda.
I recommend this book to every American citizen, whether they were (or are still) pro-Clinton or not. Hell to Pay is loaded with facts that we cannot ignore.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Real Hillary.
And it's not pretty, but we already knew that. Barbara Olson wrote a top flight biography with "Hell to Pay." I, for one, definitely miss her presence in the field of non-fiction and am sorry she is no longer with us. Many people may not realize that R. Emmett Tyrrell's book, "Madame Hillary," was heavily influenced by this work. Olson exposes the hidden, radical nature of Hillary's worldview. Her thought is far closer to Saul Alinsky than John Jay or Thomas Paine. In the wake of the 2000 election recount, when she came out against the electoral college, who could doubt that she cares little about the institutions or traditions that embody this country. She hides her radicalism behind a bourgeois veneer but Olson allows her true traits to become visible through "Hell to Pay."

3-0 out of 5 stars A lot of good details that you don't hear
I have to say that I enjoyed this review of Ms. Clinton or should I say Ms. Rodham. I don't know how much of this is true but it told a lot of facts that I was unaware.

I did not know that she got her leftist views from a socialist pastor. At least that was the way he came across to me. I thought it was pretty strange that she didn't wear any make up or shave her legs until Bills run for second term as Governor.

The book pretty much takes for granted that everyone knew Bill was a philanderer and does not make much of an issue of it. This is what I like about this book it goes in and tells you all the details of the spending to keep the Clintons in nice homes and have a nanny paid for by the tax payer dollars. I guess politicians are expected to do that.

The interesting parts were about the cops getting Bill girls in Washington, travelgate which they could have avoided completely if they just said they wanted their own people in; filegate was the weirdest after the diatribe Hillary gave about Nixon's enemies list.

An interesting part I thought was her relationship to Vince Foster. How the author got all the information is beyond me.

It showed how Hillary was an absolute perfectionist and could never be criticized. She was very clever in getting her husband off the hook all the time and especially in the impeachment by making them focus on the adultery and then threatening to expose all the congress for their indiscretions.

The more I read the more I felt this woman's hands in my pockets.

If most of this is true, I can not see how she got elected to the Senate, I guess all candidates steal from the cookie jar. I never understood why this woman thought she had a right to rule over everybody else. She was just a tyrant.

I would recommend this book to people want to know more details about all the scandals. If you are a Clinton lover you'll probably say it is all lies.

The right does not go after the Clintons because Bill lied about Monica Lewinsky. They go after them because they think they may have ordered the murder of Vince Foster. They go after them because kids were murdered on railroad tracks in Mena, Arkansas because they may have witnessed their drug-running operation there in the 1980s. They go after them because there is a list of between 50 and 100 people mysteriously killed, all of whom knew the Clintons and had knowledge of their activities. These people were generally young and in good health. Did they all die by accident? To quote Shakespeare, "There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than can be dreamt of in your philosophy." In other words, it is possible they all were killed by means other than the Clintons' ordering their deaths, but it is so far from possible as to be very close to being, for all practical purposes, that with which is impossible. Bodyguards, witneses, drug buddies, state troopers, kids, etc. Dead. If the Clintons are responsible for some or all of their deaths, they got away with all of it. THAT is why the right goes after the Clintons. If I go missing, look in Ft. Marcy Park.

(...) ... Read more

83. The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon
by Sei Shonagon, Ivan Morris, Ivan I. Morris
list price: $22.50
our price: $20.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0231073372
Catlog: Book (1991-04-15)
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Sales Rank: 20715
Average Customer Review: 4.44 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Sei Shonagon was a contemporary and erstwhile rival of Lady Murasaki, whose novelfictionalizes the court life Shonagon a collection of anecdotes, memories of court and religious ceremonies, character sketches, lists of things the author enjoyed or loathed, places that interested her, diary entries, descriptions of nature, pilgrimages, conversations, poetry exchanges--indeed, almost everything that made up daily life for the upper classes in japan during the Heian period. Her style is so eloquent, her observations so skillfully chosen, and her wit so sharp that even the smallest detail she records can attract and hold the attention of any modern reader. ... Read more

Reviews (25)

5-0 out of 5 stars An enchanting, intimate look inside Heian Japan
Sei Shonagon, a court lady in tenth-century Japan, has left us an intimate, intriguing look at life inside the Heian court as well as a chronicle of her daily life. As an aristocrat, she had strong notions of what constituted good manners and good taste. At times she comes off as an insufferable snob, but her writing is redeemed by her lively sense of humor, her sharp perceptions and her wry intelligence that helped her to not take herself too seriously. In an era of almost total male dominance, Shonagon's intelligence and wit was the equal of any man's, and her attitude toward men was competitive almost to in-your-face hostility; she was nobody's doormat. She met men on her own terms and gave as good as she got. On the other hand, her reverence for the royal family was so profound as to seem ludicrous; one has the sense she was ready to kiss the ground they walked on. "The Pillow Book" is a compendium of autobiography, ideas, observations, lists (some of the most enchanting sections of the book are in her lists such as "rare things", "elegant things" and "unsuitable things"), written in a style characterized by its crystalline simplicity. Ivan Morris's excellent translation does full justice to this wonderful book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not a "highly intelligent statue"
I would like to disagree with the last reviewer and stress that Sei Shonagon was certainly not a highly intelligent statue and she was not particularly zen either. Shonagon was a lively wit and intellect, known for her erudition and scholarship. The thing that I found most wonderful about the Pillow Book was not its serene contemplation of nature, which was often a literary conceit in Heian times, but rather her robust enjoyment of life. In the Tale of Genji, the Gossamer Diary, and the Sarashina Diary, you find disappointed women, unhappy with the way their lives turned out and often betrayed by their men. Although several lovers are hinted at in the Pillow Book, Shonagon never lets anything get her down. The time she describes was probably not a happy time, her patron, the Empress was suffering due to lack of political support, and Shonagon's own future must have looked bleak. However, she never falls into self pity and rather treats us to a delightful look through the eyes of an extremely intelligent and realistic woman. Her description of the worst lover ever is hilarious today. I've read it to friends of mine who have never read any other Heian literature and it made them laugh. Shonagon's keen observations and ready wit shine through after a thousand years and a translation. It stands as a testament to the fact that somethings, love, laughter, friendship, and the relations between men and women never change.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best of the heian journals
The entire book aside, one reason I enjoyed this more then The confessions of Lady nijo was for the fact that this book has no references to the tale of genji, which is considerably nice if you havn't read it. With the book itself and sei shonagons writing style, i myself did not find it hard to follow so long as i checked in with the notes in the back to read the follow up information on certain sentences. Just know that this is not a conventional diary, it describes things (spending copious amounts of time on clothes) in detail, describes relationships, buddhism and those are in the more narrative style, the other part she records her poems and lists of things she likes or dislikes (certain type of blossoms for example). Sometimes this can be disjointed, but its not really confusing. One thing that is enjoyable about Sei shonagon is her optimism during the time. Unlike the author of the gossamer years, Shonagon is not clinically depressed and never really shows great bouts of depression or crying as do some other authors of the time. During this particular time the empress was not doing that well politically and should be a cause of worry, but like the other heian women, they rarely if ever mentioned the world of politics.

5-0 out of 5 stars A look back in time
Relatively little is known about Sei Shonagon's life, except what is revealed in "The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon." What is known is that she was a court lady in tenth-century Japan, at the pinnacle of the Heian culture. Her reminiscences and thoughts add up to both an entertaining read and a glimpse back in time.

The story behind the Pillow Book is that when Shonagon (possible real name: Nagiko) was serving the Imperial Family, the Empress received a bunch of notebooks that she couldn't use, so she gave them to Shonagon. Part diary, part lists, part essays on things around her, the Pillow Book pretty much defies classification.

One of the most intriguing things about the Pillow Book is the glimpse into tenth-century Japan that it gives. Shonagon's stories are about little things like flutes, disobedient dogs, clothes, and the Empress's ladies betting on how long it would take a giant mound of snow to melt (no, I'm not kidding). It makes the past seem a little less distant. And the people in it seem more like people and less like historical paper dolls. An example is the Empress chatting as her hair is being done one morning.

It's pretty obvious that Shonagon was a bright and witty woman, although she could be quite a snob. However, her appreciation for simple pleasures will probably win over readers. Her charming love of beauty is often enchanting; she often lists things that she finds pleasing, such as moons, summer nights, flowers and willow trees.

She also listed her pet peeves (such as parents worshiping a very unappealing child -- something that made me chuckle), things she found depressing or annoying. A stickler for form and ettiquette, she had very precise ideas about how things should be done (right down to how lovers should act).

"The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon" is beautifully-written and highly entertaining. You don't have to be well-versed in this sort of literature to appreciate this unique memoir by a unique woman.

5-0 out of 5 stars Machiavelli never had it so good.
Sei Shonagon and her contemporary Murasaki Shikibu both led fascinating but restricted lives. But reading the diary of Sei Shonagon gives the outside world a glimpse of the courtly intrigue that thrived in her world. It almost reads like fabulous fiction, but it isn't. Great insight into the world of Heian Japan. ... Read more

84. Maus a Survivors Tale: My Father Bleeds History
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394747232
Catlog: Book (1986-08-12)
Publisher: Pantheon
Sales Rank: 13217
Average Customer Review: 4.38 out of 5 stars
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Some historical events simply beggar any attempt at description--the Holocaust is one of these. Therefore, as it recedes and the people able to bear witness die, it becomes more and more essential that novel, vigorous methods are used to describe the indescribable. Examined in these terms, Art Spiegelman's Maus is a tremendous achievement, from a historical perspective as well as an artistic one.

Spiegelman, a stalwart of the underground comics scene of the 1960s and '70s, interviewed his father, Vladek, a Holocaust survivor living outside New York City, about his experiences. The artist then deftly translated that story into a graphic novel. By portraying a true story of the Holocaust in comic form--the Jews are mice, the Germans cats, the Poles pigs, the French frogs, and the Americans dogs--Spiegelman compels the reader to imagine the action, to fill in the blanks that are so often shied away from. Reading Maus, you are forced to examine the Holocaust anew.

This is neither easy nor pleasant. However, Vladek Spiegelman and his wife Anna are resourceful heroes, and enough acts of kindness and decency appear in the tale to spur the reader onward (we also know that the protagonists survive, else reading would be too painful). This first volume introduces Vladek as a happy young man on the make in pre-war Poland. With outside events growing ever more ominous, we watch his marriage to Anna, his enlistment in the Polish army after the outbreak of hostilities, his and Anna's life in the ghetto, and then their flight into hiding as the Final Solution is put into effect. The ending is stark and terrible, but the worst is yet to come--in the second volume of this Pulitzer Prize-winning set. --Michael Gerber ... Read more

Reviews (106)

4-0 out of 5 stars an interesting way to write about the holocaust
I just read "Maus" for my history class and thought this was a great way to write about the holocaust. While keeping all of the seriousness, Spiegelman chose a way write which would interest readers of every age. By making it into a comic book, it will definitely attract many teenagers and college students and teach them lots of interesting facts about world war II. I thought Spiegelman did a great job cutting back and forth between his father's holocaust stories to the relationship between his father and him, it continued to remind me this was all a true story. Overall, this was a very depressing story and also a very informative one. All the stories about Spiegelman's father continuously running from the Nazi's made me realize what I have in life. After I was done, I was still blown away that Vladek survived the holocaust, there were so many times where he could have been killed, starved to death or just times when he could have given up and decided that was it. The part where Vladek described the Nazi's killing crying children by grabbing them by the feet and smashing them into a wall was just horrible, I will never be able to imagine what any Jew went through in the 40's. To sum it up, I would definitely reccomend this book to people of all ages, a very unique book with lots of style. I'm really looking forward to reading the sequel, I'm sure it's just as good.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very good, very touching, very worthwhile.
I will admit I had to read this for a class I was taking about modern Jewish history. But I also chose to take said class and was very curious about the subject matter. Maus was the third and last biographical work that we read in class (Solomon Maimon's and Pauline Wengeroff's autobiographies being the others) and it was easily the most unique.

When I told friends that I was reading a comic book about the Holocaust I received many strange looks. But there was always one response that made people understand: The author's father survived the Holocaust and he wanted to tell his father's story in the medium he knew best. Art Spiegelman puts unsurpassed passion into this work that ties his father and mother's struggles in wartime Poland as well as his own struggles with his geriatric father thirty years later.

Told with a serious tone overlaid with characters where Jews are mice, Poles are pigs, Germans are cats, and the other nationalities are equally represented in animal form, Maus proved to be an extremely unique and endlessly fascinating and tragic biography. I have never been one for reading comic books, but Art Spiegelman's effort can do nothing less than elevate the respect anyone could have for the art form.

2-0 out of 5 stars Subject matter overshadows a very mediocre work
If one can truly see past all the cultural signifiers and content obeisance attached to Maus and simply judge the work on craft alone, one will find a fairly pedestrian work, well told, yet instantly forgettable.

Spiegelman has crafted a shrewd piece of media here, he has mined the true-life experiences of his grandfather to fashion a non-fiction biographic tale of internment in a concentration camp, replacing the Germans with cats and the Jews with mice. Such a choice is guaranteed critic-proof simply because of the subject matter. Publicly, one is not allowed to dislike Maus or find it flawed in any fundamental way; it fosters a mild form of cultural fascism against the dissenter. Recently discussing Maus with someone who thought it profound, I found myself dodging bullets of anti-Semitism and callousness towards the human spirit. But we must understand that Maus the graphic novel has virtually disappeared, its place taken by Maus the "Holocaust for a new Generation" and Maus the "culturally significant signpost of human dignity."

Granted the story is compelling. If Maus had been told as a straight prose work of non-fiction it would have most certainly been published and given average to good marks, quickly joining the legion of Holocaust literature. But should we elevate Maus to the ranks of the graphic novel pantheon just because Spiegelman is Jewish and he used his authentic Jewish roots to tell a story of the Holocaust in pictures? I counter arguments that posit Spiegelman's work as introducing the Holocaust to a new generation (sort of like re-inventing Shakespeare for the geek set?) with the idea that the generation itself should begin to question its own intellectual vigor when we must teach our children about the holocaust using a comic strip. In that case, forget the Bible, why not teach it through a graphic 'Chronicles of Jesus' format, allowing our children to get the story while abandoning the thorny arguments and contradictions that make reading any work of art a challenge to the mind?

I repeat, do we give Maus credibility for simply choosing subject matter? If we do, then we must re-think the way we judge literary works. We must then judge every piece of holocaust literature to be superlative, and regardless of its actual merit, place it on a hallowed shelf above all other literature. We must then judge every piece of art or media the same. In this new critical paradigm, if a graffiti artist painted a series of stick figures across a barren factory wall but above them sprayed the name "Auschwitz," we should take care not remove them. However, if that same artist simply painted a wall full of stick figures, they should be removed post-haste and a steep fine levied against the artist.

I am tired of works being given credibility for subject matter and not for craft. Maus is not a bad book, and may well foster early discussions with children or adolescents about the holocaust. But judged by artistic merit and craft alone it hardly belongs on the same shelf as Watchmen, From Hell, or Miller's Batman writings. In those works, the writers crafted dense literary works that truly transcended the genre and used the form in novel and interesting ways. They did not rely on content alone to sell mediocre work.

3-0 out of 5 stars Less than I expected
I'm Jewish and easily depressed, so I expected to be very moved by this tale. But I wasn't. I was freaked out-Art portrays Jewish life well and I was honestly scared for the characters-but not moved. I did not cry. Then again, I'd probably give it four stars if it weren't for my high expectations. I'm definitely definitely going to buy the next installment though.

I disagree with people who say Polish people are portrayed negatively in this book, aside from the fact that he portrays them as pigs. Most of the Poles in this book were nice-they hide in the house of a Polish lady, there housekeeper is Polish. Of course, at one point you have Polish people being anti-semitic but what do you expect? No Poles actually hurt the Spiegelman's, though they do occaisonally put them in jeopardy by yelling that there is a Jew in the yard. I think the animals are meant to portray stereotypes. Vladek has disdain for the Poles, and Art shows that by making them pigs. That doesn't mean that the Poles are bad, that's just how Vladek is.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful comic book!
This book is one that caught me in its clutches instantly! For those who are interested in the Holocaust and are sick of stories of Anne Frank(no offense), this is perfect! Summary: The author of this book, Art Speigelman, goes to visit his father, Vladek, and learn of his story of living in Hitler's Europe. Art also tries to understand his father's changes that have happened due to his experiences. Art's stepmother, Mala, complains that Vladek is too uptight and doesn't care about her. Vladek complains that all Mala cares about is his money. Art's struggles show how even the children of the survivors have to survive. Review: This book took me away. For a story of the Holocaust, this hits a home run. Never before have I read a book like this. A tale like this deserves to be read by everyone. ... Read more

85. The Story of My Life (Bantam Classic)
list price: $4.95
our price: $4.95
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Asin: 0553213873
Catlog: Book (1990-05-01)
Publisher: Bantam Classics
Sales Rank: 21319
Average Customer Review: 4.15 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (46)

5-0 out of 5 stars A STORY WORTH TELLING
I first read this book in 6th grade. I have read it several times in the intervening years, the most recent time being within the past one year.

Helen Keller, blind and deaf since the age of 1 1/2 has offered, in her own words an accounting of her life experience. It is incredible to imagine how this woman, unable to see or hear can give such a strong voice to descriptions of nature. The book is replete with beautiful, articulate metaphors that draw the reader into the world as Helen knew it. One wonders how a person with no language can "think," and Helen provides some clues. During these "dark days," prior to the arrival of her "Teacher," Annie Sullivan, Helen's life was a series of desires and impressions. She could commnicate by a series of crude signs she and her parents had created. She demonstrated early on that she could learn.

I like the way Helen herself takes her readers past that water pump when she learned that "all things have a name." Instead of getting stuck there, Helen takes her readers on the journey of her life to that point.

In addition to having a good linguistic base, Helen also demonstrates having a phenomenal memory. When she was twelve, she wrote a story she believed to be her own. Entitled "The Frost King," it bore a strong resemblance to one written by a Ms. Canby called "The Frost Fairies." Many of the sentences are identical and a good number of the descriptions are paraphrased. In relating this devasting incident, Helen and Annie recall that Annie had exposed Helen to the story some three years earlier and Helen had somehow retained that information. This plainly shows intelligence.

Both the "Frost" stories are reprinted in full, thus giving the reader a chance to see just how amazing being able to remember such a work really was.

Helen describes her work raising money for other deaf-blind children to attend the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston and in so doing, embarks upon her lifelong mission as a crusader for multiply challenged individuals.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Story of a Remarkable Woman
I had heard of Helen Keller but didn't really know what she was about.

It's a 5-star overall story. But in terms of language style and story-telling, it's 4-star for me (understandably, it's 100 years ago).

Helen Keller wrote this in her 20s, while pursuing her degree at Radcliffe. So this is not her whole life, but wow.. what an amazing story!

A girl is blind and deaf, and I would probably give up on her. But I'm ashamed of myself for that. Helen Keller was deaf and blind and yet this didn't stop her. She's bright and strong-headed. The power of self-determination combined with the great help from the wonderfully patient teacher in Anne Sullivan opened the door for her. Her desire to communicate with people, and her passion to "be normal" made her who she had accomplished to be.

How did she "listen"? How did she "speak"? How did she write? She did all that and was good at them. Astonishingly unimaginable. And with such a kind heart, she could easily make a more complete person that we "normal" people can.

"Helen sees more with her hands that we do with our eyes."

Simply admirable.

5-0 out of 5 stars Many had to read this
Many had to read this book in school, along with other great and inspiritationl reads such as "The Diary of Anne Frank" or even great fiction like "To Kill a Mockingbird." And the reason I didn't have to read it is probably the one that causes me to like it so much. I came to this book while an adult, after reading something on the Internet about Keller. Fascinated, I delved into her life and all that was around it. Hence, my first foray into her past was "The Story of My Life." This is a remarkable little book regardless of who wrote it, but consider the source and it's absolutely amazing. The sheer precision and depth this book has is just astounding. Yes, it's inspiritational, but besides that, it's one heck of a well-put-together book!

Also, if you are interested in Helen Keller's life, please try two other great reads: The first is a bio by Herrmann which delves more into the minutae of Keller's life, and the second is a work of fiction which has quotes from "The Story of My Life" at the beginning of each of its chapters. This book is called "The Bark of the Dogwood," and while it's pretty shocking and steamy in places, it ultimately takes it's inspiration from Keller, along with a host of other southerners.

1-0 out of 5 stars Yawn
I feel bad for saying this, cause Helen Keller was a fanominal woman, but her book made me want to kill myself out of boredom. I mean seriously, it's page after page of nothing. DO NOT READ THIS BOOK TO SAVE YOUR LIFE!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Where Heart and Depth Transcend the Mind
A book to read that is of the warmness of soul, an account that conveys love and realness. The body and the mind are only the peripheries, for it is the soul or consciousness that is of the real person. So when the mind is expanded in knowledge and intellect, one can find erroneously enter in it's subjectivity defining such as the real self or one can use such intellectualism as an instrument of the consciousness and view objectively. This then allows the heart and feelings to penetrate, in turn the mind is transcended, one goes beyond the mind to the real inner self. And when this occurs the result culminates in the most beautiful and extraordinary person. Such is the case of Helen Keller.

Her fingers found expression, felt emotion and penetrated the surface into the feelings and depth in the person she encountered, in the words that she read and in the vibrations that she felt. I have read in the East, that consciousness does not come to us solely through the eyes and ears, but when such peripheries are down we can perceive in much more strength through other senses.

"I derive genuine pleasure from touching great works of art. As my finger tips trace line and curve, they discover the thought and emotion which the artist has portrayed. I can feel in the faces of gods and heroes hate, courage and love, just as I can detect them in living faces I am permitted to touch." P. 68

In a letter she received from Mr. Gilder, Helen wrote,

"In a letter he wrote me he made his mark under his signature deep in the paper so that I could feel it." . . . and " I feel the twinkle of his eye in the handshake." P. 75

Case in point is that of poetry. What the average school teacher and intellectual defines in art and poetry are the stanzas, the numerical structures and literary criticism. Now this actually destroys such forms of art. But what intellectual, a person that uses their head without the heart can fathom any understanding beyond such? Helen wrote:

"Great poetry, whether in English or Greek, needs no other interpreter than a responsive heart. Would that the host of those who make the great works of the poets odious by their analysis, impositions and laborious comments might learn this simple truth! It is not necessary that one should be able to define every word and give it its principal parts and its grammatical position in the sentence in order to understand and appreciate a fine poem." p. 59

Not only did she find the external world but went to the university and went further in learning and knowledge than most. But it is her understanding and diligence, her positivism and depth that this autobiography conveys.

After reading her account, I can say that if I could love another person, I have fallen in love with Helen.

"Is it not true, then, that my life with all its limitations touches at many points the lif of the World Beautiful? Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content. ... Read more

86. The Eloquent President : A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words
by Ronald C. White Jr.
list price: $26.95
our price: $17.79
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Asin: 1400061199
Catlog: Book (2005-01-11)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 13203
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Great Communicator
Historians across the political spectrum agree that the United States has had only two great presidents, Washington and Lincoln. They also agree that of all our presidents Lincoln was the most eloquent.

By analyzing some of the speeches that Lincoln composed while president, White puts them into historical context, illuminating their whole truth where previous scholars might have been satisfied with a partial one. He describes each speech as a pearl connected by a common thread. Stringing together these pearls, he demonstrates not only Lincoln's habits and thoughts but the evolution of his thoughts, for one speech usually built on a previous one and pointed toward another. Lincoln lived and wrote within the continuum of past, present, and future.

As Bridges and Rickenbacker write in their book, The Art of Persuasion, schemes and tropes are the tools of the language, having originated with Aristotle; their use lends weight and authority to the spoken and written word. Lincoln made heavy use of alliteration, antithesis, assonance, asyndeton, ellipsis, erotema, isocolon, parallelism -- practically a dictionary of rhetoric -- which White too rarely refers to by name. He argues persuasively that Lincoln met Aristotle's qualifications for successful art of persuasion: 1) moral character; 2) the ability to excite listeners based on an understanding of their thoughts and feelings; and 3) the ability to prove a truth through various forms of argument. An experienced lawyer, Lincoln often argued by syllogism. He wrote on practical occasions to achieve practical effects. Frequently he shunned polysyllabic Latin derivatives for plain Saxon in order to appeal to a broad audience.

Some biographers have been reluctant to credit Lincoln with a traditional religious sense, calling him a deist, fatalist, or skeptic, but his rhetoric suggests otherwise. Not only did he attend services, he read carefully the King James Bible, employing biblical cadences and references throughout his work. One might say his writing, like his life, was informed by a strong awareness of the workings of providence.

Lincoln's skill was even more remarkable when we consider that he was self-taught. In a Congressional directory, when asked to comment on his education, he wrote: "defective." He studied Scott's Lessons in Elocution, he absorbed Kirkham's English Grammar; both were more rigorous than what today's students encounter. I have found other sources which listed Lincoln's literary influences as the Bible, Shakespeare, John Bunyan, Daniel Defoe, and Blackstone's Commentaries -- difficult to read on one's own, all of them. Throughout his life Lincoln worked diligently on writing and revising, sometimes reading to the nearest listener, sometimes aloud to himself, always concerned with orality and effect on the audience. He wrote slowly and spoke slowly.

Robert Frost one said that he intended to "lodge a few poems where they couldn't be gotten rid of easily." Lincoln's speeches have become lodged into the American vernacular: First Inaugural ("better angels of our nature"); Second Inaugural ("with malice toward none"); Gettysburg Address ("new birth of freedom"); Cooper Institute Address ("What is conservatism?"); the House Divided speech, the Emancipation Proclamation. How many American presidents have made such an impact through their words? Who was the last president even to write his own speeches?

The terrible irony is that critics of the time denied Lincoln's eloquence, much like the impoverished souls of today who, unable to let go of the Confederacy, insist with John Wilkes Booth that Lincoln was a tyrant. Such is the fate of the good and the great. Profound are their efforts, however, for those like Ronald White who are paying attention.

5-0 out of 5 stars The living word
This is a highly interesting history of the emergence of Lincoln's great rhetorical career during the civil war, starting with his railroad tour on the way to Washington after his election. Tracing the particulars and varied drafts of these gestating classics, the author puts each of the classic speeches in its context, especially the Gettesburg Address. The resulting fine-grain context for Lincoln's great masterpieces of eloquence is highly enjoyable and highlights the tenous edge they gave to his threatened passage as president through the trials of the Civil War.

5-0 out of 5 stars The self-taught communicator
For anyone who enjoys the process of writing and speaking, this book is a great treat.Lincoln carefully selected words for their mental and emotional impact.And he seems to have gotten better every year.Very inspiring!

5-0 out of 5 stars An Eloquent Book
Mr.White lucidly conveys the striking skills possessed by Abraham Lincoln in the writing, for oral delivery, of the most important political speeches of our country's history.

It is a book that should be read by every serious student of President Lincoln and all those interested in the art of formal political speech.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly explains substance and style of Lincoln's prose
Abraham Lincoln was eloquent; everybody knows that.But what kind of eloquence did he have?How did he use it to advance his ideas and political agenda?How did he use it to enlighten the American people and to summon up the best that this nation can be?Any reader who has any interest in those questions must read this book.It is a profound yet lucid and fast-moving examination of Lincoln's uses of oratory as president-elect and as president.It stands with yet somehow manages to eclipse studies of specific speeches such as Garry Wills's LINCOLN AT GETTYSBURG or the author's previous study of the Second Inaugural Address, LINCOLN'S GREATEST SPEECH.I teach Lincoln in my Law and Literature course and I plan to have this book at my elbow as I teach Lincoln this semester. ... Read more

87. Benjamin Franklin : An American Life
by Walter Isaacson
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
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Asin: 074325807X
Catlog: Book (2004-04)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 1902
Average Customer Review: 4.39 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

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

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

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

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

Reviews (98)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

88. All But My Life : A Memoir
by Gerda Weissmann Klein
list price: $13.00
our price: $9.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0809015803
Catlog: Book (1995-03-31)
Publisher: Hill and Wang
Sales Rank: 18575
Average Customer Review: 4.95 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

All But My Life is the unforgettable story of Gerda Weissmann Klein's six-year ordeal as a victim of Nazi cruelty. From her comfortable home in Bielitz (present-day Bielsko) in Poland to her miraculous survival and her liberation by American troops--including the man who was to become her husband--in Volary, Czechoslovakia, in 1945, Gerda takes the reader on a terrifying journey.

Gerda's serene and idyllic childhood is shattered when Nazis march into Poland on September 3, 1939. Although the Weissmanns were permitted to live for a while in the basement of their home, they were eventually separated and sent to German labor camps. Over the next few years Gerda experienced the slow, inexorable stripping away of "all but her life."By the end of the war she had lost her parents, brother, home, possessions, and community; even the dear friends she made in the labor camps, with whom she had shared so many hardships, were dead.

Despite her horrifying experiences, Klein conveys great strength of spirit and faith in humanity. In the darkness of the camps, Gerda and her young friends manage to create a community of friendship and love. Although stripped of the essence of life, they were able to survive the barbarity of their captors. Gerda's beautifully written story gives an invaluable message to everyone. It introduces them to last century's terrible history of devastation and prejudice, yet offers them hope that the effects of hatred can be overcome.
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Reviews (66)

4-0 out of 5 stars Moving account of Holocaust experience
In *All but My Life*, Gerda Weissmann Klein tells us the story of a young girl forced into the events of the Nazi Holocaust. The story of a family torn apart never to see one another again. The story of Nazi work camps and death camps and seemingly endless inhumanity. Sadly, this story was her own.

Klein provided a heartwrenching account of the events leading from her teens to her adult years. We met her family, lived vicariously through her relationships with friends and neighbors and hoped and prayed the Nazis never capturedd the Weissmanns. But the inevitable occurred.

Over the years that Gerda was a prisoner of the Nazis, we learned of the unspeakable acts the Germans performed. And we cried with Gerda through her experiences. And we finally felt the joy of freedom and the love relationship that ensued.

*All but My Life* should go up on our shelves next to *Schindler's List* and *The Diary of Anne Frank*. It's an absolute must read and a classic. Thank you, Gerda, for showing all of us what must not ever happen again.

5-0 out of 5 stars Saved by her boots--and her soul
On the hot June day that Gerda Weissmann left her home for the last time, her father insisted that she wear her hiking boots. Gerda resisted, but an unspoken plea in her father's eye convinced her to strap them on. During a death march from January through April of 1945, those boots saved Gerda Weissmann's life. Many other women died of cold and starvation, but most fell for simple lack of footwear. Her camp sister, with whom she survived the worst horrors in several concentration and slave labor camps, died of exhaustion at a water pump minutes after American liberators freed the women from the march.

Ms. Klein's tale about her boots, screened at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, led me to her book. I wanted to know every detail--although, over the years, I have been privileged to hear many personal accounts from Holocaust survivors I know. Too many still cannot not speak about what they lived through. Millions never had the chance at all. By itself, the silence of the majority makes Ms. Klein's testimony priceless, like every other personal Holocaust chronicle. So does her reminder not to take anything for granted. So does her gem of a soul. Alyssa A. Lappen

5-0 out of 5 stars Should be high school required reading
As a Protestant with German ancestors I wish every high school would require this book. Poetically written with emotional sensitivity this far surpasses 'Lord of the Flies' and 'Catcher in the Rye' that my daughter and so many high schoolers are STILL required to read. This is true, it is historical, it is politcal, it is human, we can learn from it on EVERY level. Not only that we come to love Gerda, the author, in the reading of it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A reader's favorite book
This book held my attention from page one, until the very end. I actually have read this book( or at least large parts of it) ten or more times. I was so riveted by Gerda's story that I went to my local library to find out MORE about Gerda. She has written a few other books, interesting too, but this is her best. ALL BUT MY LIFE so impressed me that I felt the need to visit the US Holocaust Museum in Washington,DC. I have chosen this book for my book club selection next month, although I really read it the first time about 5 years ago. I was initially concerned that it was not "mainstream" enough for my book buddies, but...we will see. I have read voraciously for my entire reading life, which would be about 40 years or so, and I think this book IS my absolute favorite.

5-0 out of 5 stars impressive... truly.
This book was assigned by my English teacher. The first page, i thought of reading it as a chore. After that, i couldnt put it down. i read the whole thing in two days. It was remarkable!! This showed what the Holocaust was really about. The Holocaust wasn't just about the millions of Jews that were killed- it was about real people being killed, real people losing all hope to live, among Gerda. When liberation day came around, it didn't mean much. The very few survivors still had a life to rebuild. Gerda told her own remarkable story of what happened to her. Gerda goes from camp to camp, hardship to hardship, but learning valuable lessons about life in gerneral on the way. This book deserves way more than 5 stars- everyone should read it. ... Read more

89. Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
by Alfred Lansing
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 078670621X
Catlog: Book (1999-03-01)
Publisher: Carroll & Graf Publishers
Sales Rank: 1174
Average Customer Review: 4.79 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

'A thrilling reading experience! One of the greatest adventure stories of our times' - New York Times Book Review. In 1914 Ernest Shackleton and a crew of 27 men, sailed for the South Atlantic on the 'Endurance' with the object of crossing the Antarctic over land. In October 1915, still half a continent away from their intended base, the ship was trapped, then crushed in ice. For five months Shackleton and his men, drifting on ice packs, were castaways in one of the world's most savage regions. This gripping book based on firsthand accounts of crew members, describes how the men survived, living together in camps on the ice for 17 months, how they were attacked by sea leopards, had to kill their beloved dogs whom they could no longer feed, and suffered disease with no medicines (an operation to amputate the foot of one member of the crew was carried out on the ice). Their extraordinary indefatigability and their lasting civility towards one another in the most adverse conditions shines through. ... Read more

Reviews (332)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Antidote for the Age of Whining and Self-Absorption
Everything that defines courage and leadership for our age and any other is within the 280 pages of this wonderful book. For nearly two years, in conditions of constant zero and below cold, freezing wet, and often hunger, Ernest Shackleton kept all 27 men who sailed with him on the Endurance alive to eventually return to the England they left on the verge of World War I. That single-minded devotion to his men should make this book required reading for every would-be politician and corporate executive before he dares ask for the faith, trust and respect of those he would lead.

Lansing dedicated the book "In appreciation for whatever it is that makes men accomplish the impossible." He wisely and without flourish often lets the men's own words -- through the journals that many of them kept at the time and in interviews forty years later -- tell their extraordinary story, each stage of which reads more harrowing than the last. On an expedition that would have attempted to cross the Antarctic on foot (a feat not accomplished until four decades later), the Endurance is trapped in pack ice before it can reach shore. Shackleton's perhaps foolhardy original goal thus turns to keeping his men alive until they can be rescued. After ten months locked in the drifting pack, the Endurance is crushed and the men forced to abandon her for an ice floe, then several weeks later a smaller floe still. Eventually they take to three boats to reach forlorn Elephant Island from which Shackleton takes a skeleton crew of five and in a 22 foot open boat navigates the enormous seas of Drake's Passage to South Ascension Island. Once there he only (only!) has uncharted glaciers to cross to reach the whaling station on the other side of the island from which rescue of the Elephant Island castaways is eventually launched. The only other crossing of South Georgian Island by foot at the time Lansing wrote in 1959 occurred on a "easier" route with equipment and time. Shackleton had neither, only a fifty foot piece of rope, a carpenter's adze, and the knowledge that to stop moving was to invite death by freezing. At journey's end, to the astonished manager of the whaling factory, he says simply, "My name is Shackleton." I would have liked to have known him and all his men.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Amazing True Life Adventure Story
I purchased this book for my husband, never intending on reading it myself, but after his raves and recommendations I finally picked it up, and read it with great relish from page 1 to the end. This is surely one of the greatest true life adventure stories of all time. Even though I knew the eventual outcome of this survival tale, I was kept completely captivated by the events as they unfolded, and the almost unbelievable conditions that these men faced. Lansing's well written book presents the facts in a story form that flows easily from event to event. I purchased the illustrated edition, and the wonderful photos were well worth the extra cost. Hurley's photos illustrated the book in a way that no words could, and I found myself frequently turning back to review them.

5-0 out of 5 stars Even knowing the ending, it's a page turner
I'm a fan of survivalist accounts such as "Seven Years in Tibet," and "In the Heart of the Sea." And I loved this true account of the voyage/survival of Shackleton's crew in the Antarctic.

Asking friends and relatives if they've read it, I've heard, "I started it, but I didn't want to see everyone die!" So here's the *spoiler...nobody dies! *

The capacity of the human body to survive and of the human brain to figure out how to do it never ceases to amaze me.

Lansing's account ingeniously pieces together journals of the men involved and includes riveting details without ever being too gory. Even knowing the ending, it's a page turner. I've heard that this is the most involving of all the accounts published...coming across more like a story and less a documentary.

The images of the men on the ice have completely captivated me...the sounds and the movement. Be prepared to grab a blanket and a snack as you read (something not made of penguin)'ll feel like you're there.

5-0 out of 5 stars ICY Adventure
this book is about how you SHOULD live!
Go for it!

5-0 out of 5 stars Warning: You will not be able to put it down.
I agree with many others this must be one of the greatest survival stories ever told. If you have read the The Longest Walk and found it to be a page turner you will not go wrong buying Endurance. And we know for sure that Endurance is all true. ... Read more

90. A Tale of Love and Darkness
by Amos Oz
list price: $26.00
our price: $17.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0151008787
Catlog: Book (2004-11-15)
Publisher: Harcourt
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Book Description

Tragic, comic, and utterly honest, this extraordinary memoir is at once a great family saga and a magical self-portrait of a writer who witnessed the birth of a nation and lived through its turbulent history.

It is the story of a boy growing up in the war-torn Jerusalem of the forties and fifties, in a small apartment crowded with books in twelve languages and relatives speaking nearly as many. His mother and father, both wonderful people, were ill-suited to each other. When Oz was twelve and a half years old, his mother committed suicide, a tragedy that was to change his life. He leaves the constraints of the family and the community of dreamers, scholars, and failed businessmen and joins a kibbutz, changes his name, marries, has children, and finally becomes a writer as well as an active participant in the political life of Israel.

A story of clashing cultures and lives, of suffering and perseverance, of love and darkness.
... Read more

91. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (Modern Library (Paperback))
by Edmund Morris
list price: $17.95
our price: $12.56
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Asin: 0375756787
Catlog: Book (2001-11)
Publisher: Modern Library
Sales Rank: 3644
Average Customer Review: 4.74 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Described by the Chicago Tribune as "a classic," The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt stands as one of the greatest biographies of our time.The publication of The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt on September 14th, 2001 marks the 100th anniversary of Theodore Roosevelt becoming president. ... Read more

Reviews (113)

5-0 out of 5 stars Unmatched detail, Hyper-scrupulous research, VERY readable
Morris somehow manages to bring TR to life to the point that he practically stands up and walks out of the book into your living room. Even more impressive, Morris does this while dutifully retaining objectivity, giving equal and judicious space to the man's (relatively few) shortcomings and quirks. The result is that the reader lives through nearly every fascinating detail of how a real human being named Theodore Roosevelt surmounted his very human hurdles ultimately to develop into the true larger-than-legend icon he was and is. As much as I have enjoyed other TR biographies (e.g. by McCullough, by Miller) these do not quite reach the level achieved by Morris. The only disappointment is that the book focuses only on his life to the point of ascending to the Vice-Presidency, but after all the title is The RISE of Theodore Roosevelt . . . On rare occasions, the most detailed and honest truth is the most interesting story to read; this is one of them, don't miss it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not much to add, a well deserved 5 stars (and Pulitzer too!)
This biography is one of the most thorough and enjoyable I have read. If there has been controversy over Morris' Reagan bio, at least it brought attention to this book. Morris drew a portrait of Roosevelt and his era and it came to life for me. I particularly enjoyed the description of the political scene of the time, especially the New York State assembly and further on to Boss Platt, Senator Hanna, and the other backroom operatives. Morris does not hide the negative side of TR, the snobbery, the hypocrisy, and the naked jingoism. As a Canadian, Roosevelt took Manifest Destiny to extremes and one sympathized with those who considered him a loose cannon. At the same time, this book shows his drive, energy, and his willingness to put himself face-first into anything, be it the Spanish American War, the unpopular anti-saloon enforcement in NYC, or any of his western adventures. I highly recommend this biography to anyone interested in history, Americana, or the times of the later 19th century.

5-0 out of 5 stars dscyoung
Outstanding! McCullough and others have done wonderful things with Presidential biographies; however, Morris has brought Roosevelt alive like no other. The struggles young Roosevelt endured are a inspiration. His genius is detailed in true color. I couldn't wait to pick up Theodore Rex. Looking for a hero in todays rough and tumble? Look no further than TR.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wow! An outstanding story about an amazing person
Teddy Roosevelt is surely one of the most captivating figures in history, and this book is an incredibly lively and vivid chronicle of his rise to the American presidency. Edmund Morris writes in delightful prose with colorful imagery and funny stories, and provides an astounding level of detail. You will not want to put down this book; it is as mesmerizing as Tolkien's Ring. It is hard to imagine a better-written story. Mr. Roosevelt is abundant in charisma, intelligence, and drive. If you can only read one book on the man, choose this one.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Rising Start!
"The Rise Of Theodore Roosevelt" tells the outstanding story of the pre-presidential years of this remarkable individual. In an attention-holding style, Morris relates the anecdotes known to all TR fans. In addition to the well known facts, Morris reveals lesser known facts which help us to understand TR and his career.

Beginning with he President's New Year's Day Reception of 1907, the book quickly jumps back to a very youthful TR. In the following pages we read of the close relationship between TR and his father. We read of the father who, by example and word, taught TR his greatest virtues of honesty, social responsibility and concern for others. It was this father who drove him through the streets of New York to get him over his asthma attacks as well as the one who told him that he "had the mind, but not the body" and that he must build his body. When TR was contemplating a scientific career, it was this father who told him that he could pursue such a career, "if I intended to do the very best that was in me; but that I must not dream of taking it up as a dilettante", but that he would have to learn to live within his means. Theodore Roosevelt, Sr.'s payment of a substitute during the Civil War left his son with a sense of guilt which could only be assuaged by his own military service. We learn of the shattering effect that this father's death had on the Harvard student. As president, TR would remark that he never took any serious step without contemplating what his father would have done.

Much attention is given to the "Roosevelt Museum of Natural History" assembled by the young taxidermist. This was the first of three career paths considered by TR, scientific, which he abandoned, literary, which supported him for much of his life, and political, which became his life work.

We learn of TR's loves, both of Edith and Alice. We learn of how TR pursued love with the same vigor and intensity that he pursued everything else which he desired. The death of his mother and Alice on Valentine's Day, 1884, which drove him into ranching in Dakota, would be almost as shattering as the death of his father.

There are details of TR's young life of which I had been unaware, prominent among them are his extensive travels in Europe and the Middle East.

In the course of this book we see the step by step maturation of TR from the snobbish Harvard freshman to the inclusive leader which he later became. College, romance, politics, ranching and war all played their parts in the development of the character of TR.

During his political career, TR's outlooks on issues developed, but his core values never wavered. From his first caucus meeting, uncompromising honesty was a trademark of TR's character and his demand from others.

TR always walked a tight rope between independence and party loyalty, earning both the support an enmity of reformers and the organization alike.

After having established himself as an unrelenting foe of corruption during his service on the U. S. Civil Service Commission and the New York Board of Police Commissioners, his appointment as Assistant Secretary of the Navy enabled TR to act on the world stage. Taking advantage of Secretary Long's frequent and extended absences, TR prepared the Navy for its spectacular successes in the Spanish-American War., a war which TR had worked so hard to bring about.

The war gave TR the opportunity to pay his inherited debt by service in the Rough Riders. Organizing a volunteer cavalry of westerners, Indians and Ivy League athletes, TR had to work to get his men equipped and to the front. Their heroic charge up San Juan Hill is the stuff of which legends are mad and TR made his legend as a Rough Rider.

Exploiting his martial glory, TR road into the Governor's mansion where he continued to walk the fine line between independence and party loyalty. His successes he won and the enemies he made lead him to the vice-presidency.

I have mentioned just a few of the highlights of TR's young life, but this book covers many more. Morris employs a talent to tell the details without becoming bogged down. Read "The Rise Of Theodore Roosevelt" to learn of TR's early life and character and then bring on "Theodore Rex". ... Read more

92. The Kennedy Curse: Why Tragedy Has Haunted America's First Family for 150 Years
by Edward Klein
list price: $24.95
our price: $9.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 031231292X
Catlog: Book (2003-07-15)
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Sales Rank: 97885
Average Customer Review: 2.63 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Death was merciful to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, for it spared her a parent's worst nightmare: the loss of a child. But if Jackie had lived to see her son, JFK Jr., perish in a plane crash on his way to his cousin's wedding, she would have been doubly horrified by the familiar pattern in the tragedy. Once again, on a day that should have been full of joy and celebration, America's first family was struck by the Kennedy Curse.

In this probing expose, renowned Kennedy biographer Edward Klein-a bestselling author and journalist personally acquainted with many members of the Kennedy family-unravels one of the great mysteries of our time and explains why the Kennedys have been subjected to such a mind-boggling chain of calamities.

Drawing upon scores of interviews with people who have never spoken out before, troves of private documents, archives in Ireland and America, and private conversations with Jackie, Klein explores the underlying pattern that governs the Kennedy Curse.

The reader is treated to penetrating portraits of the Irish immigrant Patrick Kennedy; Rose Kennedy's father, "Honey Fitz"; the dynasty's founding father Joe Kennedy and his ill-fated daughter Kathleen, President Kennedy, accused rapist William Kennedy Smith, and the star-crossed lovers, JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette. Each of the seven profiles demonstrates the basic premise of this book: The Kennedy Curse is the result of the destructive collision between the Kennedy's fantasy of omnipotence-an unremitting desire to get away with things that others cannot-and the cold, hard realities of life.
... Read more

Reviews (41)

2-0 out of 5 stars Curse, my (expletive deleted)
Yet another book for the Kennedy cult, this one examining the so-called "curse" of the toothy family. Klein's book is not without interest for all those who are obsessed with America's unoffical royal family, but his premise is wrong. With the possible exception of the assassinations of JFK and RFK, the many tragedies that have befallen the Kennedy clan can be blamed on recklessness (skiing while videotaping your misadventures, piloting a plane when you aren't really experienced enough to be trusted all alone behind the controls, etc), and, though I hate to judge, poor parenting. The powerful men in the family were too busy acquiring power to instill sound values into their kids, and we have witnessed the wreckage.

Money, power, and fame can be a deadly combination for those who don't know that life is about something more tangible than that. If there is a curse, one might look to the family's patriarch, Joseph Kennedy, who built his fortune on bootlegging. The Bible says something about the sins of the father being inherited by his sons. Perhaps the devil is simply collecting on a debt that old Joe didn't repay.

4-0 out of 5 stars Leaves you wanting more...
I enjoyed the book, particularly the first chapters which are on the patriarchs of the [Fitzgerald/Kennedy] family. However, take it as you will, the book leaves you wanting more. Well, at least for me it did. That's probably a good thing to say about this book, how Klien was able to spark my interest to learn more about the Kennedys. And by the way, the book is NOT all about JFK Jr. as mentioned earlier. If that's what you're seeking, try instead The Day John Died by C. Anderson. The Kennedy Curse instead simply touches upon some (not all) of the notorious Kennedy's &/or their notorious behavior & events.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not complete
I read this book after reading the Micheal Bergin book and while I thought it was interesting I also thought it was incomplete.

If Klein was giving examples of the "Kennedy Curse" then why did he leave out the eldest Kennedy son, Joe Jr., or Bobby Kennedy and his sons: David, Micheal, and Joe. It seems that if he really wanted to drive his point home then he would have written about this men as well. With the exception of Bobby's son Joe, they all died while they were young. Bobby died while trying to complete "the family mission" and two of his sons died while doing stupid things.

I also thought it was odd that while he would write about William Kennedy Smith and the rape trial, he did not devote a chapter to Ted Kennedy and Chappaquidick.

All in all, like I said before, it was a good book, just a little incomplete.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Kennedy Curse: Why Tragedy Has Haunted America's First F
Death was merciful to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, for it spared her a parent's worst nightmare: the loss of a child. But if Jackie had lived to see her son, JFK Jr., perish in a plane crash on his way to his cousin's wedding, she would have been doubly horrified by the familiar pattern in the tragedy. Once again, on a day that should have been full of joy and celebration, America's first family was struck by the Kennedy Curse.

3-0 out of 5 stars THERE IS NO CURSE
This book is interesting from a hypothetical viewpoint. The Kennedys are a very large family - Bobby and Ethel alone had eleven kids! The larger the family base the more propensity for problems and they did suffer their share of unsolicited tragedy. But many of the Kennedy misfortunes were self induced thru bad choices and high profile politics which carries definite risk. Joe Jr. was killed in WWII but so were many other pilots. JFK and Bobby were assassinated by whackos due to the celebrity status they cultivated and lack of protection. Ted's life was torn asunder by drink and poor decisions vis a vis Chappaquidick. Michael met an untimely demise when he skiied at high speed into a tree while unwisely playing Kennedy football on the slopes. Michael Skakel (Ethel's nephew) is serving a life sentence for murdering 15 yr old Martha Moxley. John Jr. died because he was not certified to fly without gauges. There are many families who've suffered from cancer, have children who are physically or mentally challenged, and who have lost loved ones in war. These are not curses, but common trials of life which are often unavoidable. Behavior and choices, however, are controllable and therein lies the flaw with the "curse" theory. ... Read more

93. The Road from Coorain
list price: $12.00
our price: $9.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679724362
Catlog: Book (1990-08-11)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 22334
Average Customer Review: 3.76 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

From the shelter of a protective family, to the lessons of tragedy and independence, this is an indelible portrait of aharsh and beautiful country and the inspiring story of a remarkable woman's life. ... Read more

Reviews (38)

5-0 out of 5 stars A book that will stay will me always.
"The Western plains of New South Wales are grasslands." Grasslands that with their vastness, their cycles of drought and bounty, and above all their isolation, shaped a little girl who would one day become Smith College's first woman president.

This book has been marketed as a coming of age story for girls. It's surely that, and a remarkable one. It is also (for this American reader, anyway) a fascinating look into a culture of many similarities - but with subtle, yet sometimes startling differences. Something else it ought to be is required reading for any young woman (particularly any gifted young woman!) trapped by a co-dependent relationship with her birth family. Read it, and think about what this world loses every time a woman capable of Jill Ker Conway's lifetime achievements subsumes her talents and sacrifices her dreams because the code of her childhood demands it.

A book that will stay will me always.

--Reviewed by Nina M. Osier, author of "Love, Jimmy: A Maine Veteran's Longest Battle"

5-0 out of 5 stars Australia and America - are their histories similiar?
Jill Ker Conway is an excellent, focused, academic writer, now President of Smith College in USA. She grew up in the orange dust of the Australia bush with no children as playmates, yet remembers a wonderful childhood with an especial concern for her mother's life. She writes this book as a successful adult, reconstructing the steps that got her through the University of Sydney's very demanding late-1950's history department. At that time, university studies were open to women, but the focus was on males, both living and dead white men. It was British colonial history that was taught, and most educated people picked up an inferiority complex about being Australian. Near the end of the book she writes about how she shook herself loose of this view, became proud and fond of the outback, and finally accepted that she was a city person. NEar the end she lands a history-teaching position at the U. of Sydney while enrolled in a Master's level program there, and it all closes tantalyzingly with a successful bid for a position at Harvard in USA. I've noticed often as a tourguide that British, Canadian and Australian women on my buses are very well-read and discuss books as a matter of fact, as something that one should know. They speak in a crisp and exact way with reasoned opinions. This writer falls in that category, well at the forefront of course. She knows herself, her own mind, and knows injustice and sexism when she experiences it herself. Her widening eyes begin to grasp that Europeans have simply grabbed the land of the aborigines. As a historian, she starts to want to know their view. To me, as an American, it is a slippery slope. There is only one logical conclusion: that all the land should be given back. Since this cannot be done, and Asians are beginning to flood into Australia as well since the 1960's, then the best strategy of the whites, if guilt they do feel over this landgrab, is to donate of their own accord time, help, money, food, clothing or training to their own poor. Academics around the world are concerned with the rights of "native peoples", but to turn back the clock is impossible. The interlopers are here. I greatly look forward to hie'ing my white yet hairy flesh over to the library and looking for the sequel to her life story and changing views. May she come to some peace about her ancestors' plopping down on the abo's!

4-0 out of 5 stars Mental claustrophobia of an era
I found this to be an uncomfortable read as I can totally empathise with the author, growing up in the same era and knowing the feeling of being out of sync with the older generation. I realise that this probably happens even now but at least these days, females have grown up knowing themselves to be the equal of males and without having to apologise for sometimes being smarter.Jill was fortunate to have a very good education but was also responsible for earning Australian government scholarships which are awarded solely on the good marks earned in exams( not by good luck as one reviewer implied).Even so, she was, not so subtley reminded that a woman's primary function was as a wife and mother and as a mere adjunct to her husband and even brothers. This state of affairs probably existed in all cultures at that time, and not just i Australia, but even as I read, that old feeling of suffocation was present...the feeling that you wanted more but of what, you couldn't say and your parents certainly didn't understand either.

4-0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it beginning to end
I found her story interesting and well written. I was interested in the culture and geography of Australia, as well as her story of finding her way in life. I quickly connected with her, and found her writing to be clear and honest. Contrary to what others may have said about this author, she had a tough childhood and adolescence, but thrived in spite of it.

3-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating at first. Pedantic in the end.
At first I could not stop reading and was highly fascinated by both the content and the way this book was written. In the end the book became a bit pedantic and longwinded. ... Read more

94. The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932
by William Manchester
list price: $50.00
our price: $33.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316545031
Catlog: Book (1983-05-30)
Publisher: Little, Brown
Sales Rank: 10491
Average Customer Review: 4.98 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Part One Of Two Parts

It is hard to imagine anything new about Churchill. But in this life of the young lion, William Manchester brings us fresh encounters and anecdotes. Alive with examples of Churchill's early powers, THE LAST LION entertains and instructs.

"Manchester is not only master of detail, but also of `the big picture.'...I daresay most Americans reading THE LAST LION will relish it immensely." (National Review) ... Read more

Reviews (48)

5-0 out of 5 stars Volume 1 of the life of Winston Spencer Churchill
"The Last Lion: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932," is the first of William Manchester's projected three-volume biography of Winston Spencer Churchill. I found it a superbly crafted, supremely well researched account of the first 58 years of the life of the 20th century's greatest statesman. With wit and candor, Manchester chronicles Churchill from his earliest days as the neglected and troublesome first child of Lord Randolph Churchill and his American-born wife, Jennie, to his entry into the political "wilderness" over home rule in India in 1932. Manchester's portrait of his subject is balanced and objective; we see Churchill at his finest: a courageous (almost to the point of foolhardiness) army officer, and later a gifted Member of Parliament who became one of the youngest Cabinet ministers in British history. We also see him at his worst: a Cabinet minister with appalling political judgment at times, quick to meddle in other ministers' affairs while neglecting his own, and with an uncanny ability to alienate not only his political foes, but almost all his political allies as well.

In addition to a wonderfully written chronology of Churchill's life, Manchester provides an overview of the times in which Churchill lived. I was fascinated by the author's account of Victorian England -- its culture, its mores, and its view of itself in the world. The sections which describe Churchill's times make highly entertaining and absorbing reading by themselves.

"The Last Lion: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932," clearly shows why William Manchester is one of the pre-eminent biographers at work today. The book is written with obviously meticulous scholarship, insightful analysis, and crisp, sparkling prose; I have yet to find a better account of Churchill's life. Now, if only Mr. Manchester would give us that third volume . . .

5-0 out of 5 stars Churchill Saves the World
Having read Manchester's incomparable biography of Winston Churchill, one is struck by the supernatural, almost superhuman aspect of his subject. Churchill is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest politicians of the twentieth century -- or as Manchester says, The greatest nineteenth century politician who remained to challenge his sinister twentieth century counterparts.

This first novel of his early years show the struggle, his toil, his stolen successes, his vision ignored or supplanted by lesser men. Reviewing the life and decisions of Churchill reveal a striking fact -- he was almost never wrong. A casual reader might attribute this to "common sense", but those who drink history more deeply are less likely to accept such a simple view. To one living at the time, Hitler had many facets of his leadership that would attract many modern readers -- he was the first leader of a major nation to embrace enviornmentalist policies, the first to embrace technological development as a means to improving national utility, and most importantly the only leader to move his nation out of the great depression. It is a measure of Churchill's greatness that he saw through all of these things, and was the only - literally the only - major political figure in the world to strongly and resolutely attack the emergence of the German National Socialist Movement before, during, and after its rise to power. Prior to reading Manchester's bio, I had assumed that Churchill was in some way right for the wrong reasons, as so often occurs in history, and his subsequent election as Prime Minister was the result of his record, regardless of his reasons. I was wrong.

Manchester shows us that Churchill got it almost exactly right: conservative enough to defend his principles, yet liberal enough to innovate and excel at innovation throughout his carreer. Unshakably rooted in his beliefs, and sincerely willing to sacrifice his self interest to them (a trait which, I confess, I have seen no more than once or twice in historical oand modern individuals), he simultaneously was able to marry this rocklike character with an amazing ability to innovate: technologically, strategically, and politically. Manchester does him service by this excellent bio, to which my only question is, when is the last installment due

5-0 out of 5 stars The Man of the Century
Manchester's work is extraordinary and a journey into the making of a great leader of the world that was the 20th century.

Churchill was a man of vision and he was molded in his early years. Manchester makes a case for his growth coming in the Boar War period.

There is a beginning of greatness. Manchester introduces us to the world that formed this great man.

4-0 out of 5 stars Understand the most Remarkable Man of the 20th Century
This is an excellent book on the first half of the life of a truly exceptional man. Mr Manchester's book deals with Winston's early life and his rise to power and fame. I particularly liked the vignettes about life at the turn of the century; the social situation, the class struggle, the morals of the upper and the working classes.

Just reading it makes you feel somehow inadequate against the intellectual brilliance, courage and sheer energy of the subject.

It would have merited a full five star rating but for two faults. It should have been shorter. It as if every single little titbit of information had to be written out in full, rather than filtered through the critical intellect that Mr Manchester undoubtedly possesses. Instead, he quotes too many letters, reports and speeches in full when his job as a biographer was to summarise them.

The second fault was Mr Manchester's tendency to lionise his subject. Brilliant he may have been, but a bit more acknowledgement of Winston's faults would have made him more human and reachable.

But this is nitpicking. Overall the book is a good read on a subject well worth reading about.

5-0 out of 5 stars Read both books - Best history/biography ever!
Many lists say the best historical biography is "Disraeli" by Blake. This is better. Way better.

The only author that has ever kept me glued to a book as much as Manchester's is Michael Crichton. It's odd to compare a biography to Jurassic Park, but Manchester makes history come alive. He spends a lot of time and care setting the "culture" in a way that is not pedantic or boring (unlike some Civil War histories I've read!). And then he builds on Churchill's stories in a way that makes you feel like you're in Churchill's shoes, with the same issues and challenges.

Unfortunately, there is no Volume 3 about the war years. Manchester's illness prevented this. What a sad loss to history.

Read Vol 1 and 2. You won't regret it. ... Read more

95. Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson
list price: $35.00
our price: $23.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394528360
Catlog: Book (2002-04-23)
Publisher: Knopf
Sales Rank: 9604
Average Customer Review: 4.58 out of 5 stars
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Robert Caro's Master of the Senate examines in meticulous detail Lyndon Johnson's career in that body, from his arrival in 1950 (after 12 years in the House of Representatives) until his election as JFK's vice president in 1960. This, the third in a projected four-volume series, studies not only the pragmatic, ruthless, ambitious Johnson, who wielded influence with both consummate skill and "raw, elemental brutality," but also the Senate itself, which Caro describes (pre-1957) as a "cruel joke" and an "impregnable stronghold" against social change. The milestone of Johnson's Senate years was the 1957 Civil Rights Act, whose passage he single-handedly engineered. As important as the bill was--both in and of itself and as a precursor to wider-reaching civil rights legislation--it was only close to Johnson's Southern "anti-civil rights" heart as a means to his dream: the presidency. Caro writes that not only does power corrupt, it "reveals," and that's exactly what this massive, scrupulously researched book does. A model of social, psychological, and political insight, it is not just masterful; it is a masterpiece. --H. O'Billovich ... Read more

Reviews (104)

5-0 out of 5 stars Best of the Three Volumes
After reading all 1,040 pages of this biography cum political history there is something to be said for the book. Richard Caro does not admire LBJ. But there is much not to like about LBJ. In the worst way he was deceitful, manipulative, crude, selfish, cowardly, and dishonest, however he was also smart, a very hard worker, willing to make sacrifices to serve ambition, a student of human nature and thrived on politics. He knew what he had to do to get power and, when he had power, he knew how to use it. Caro's research is thorough yet he does not get lost in minutia. There is not a dull page in this tome. For an historian he has a smooth, if not elegant, writing style - reminiscent of David McCullough or Doris Kerns Goodwin.
While this book covers only about 12 years of Johnson's life, it is rich in politics and history. For each biographical episode Caro sets the historical foundation to better understand the flow, the impact and importance of events. A compelling example of this concerns civil rights legislation. Caro does not limit his investigation to the weeks and months preceding the passage of the voting registration law of 1957, rather he goes back to Reconstruction and gives an historical thread up to the 1950's just to get the proper perspective. In this connection, LBJ for years stood with the South and shamelessly blocked civil rights legislation - doing do as a Senator, as minority leader and then as majority leader. It was at the 1956 Democratic convention that he got a rude awakening. He sincerely believed that he had a respectable chance at the nomination for president. It was there he learned that in the eyes of the rest of the country he was just another southern bigot. For the 1960 presidential run he would have to change that image by becoming a champion of civil rights. In executing this turn-around and orchestrating the passage of the first civil rights bill in 72 years Johnson's performance is truly masterful. History and personal ambition came together to serve the county. You can take the last 200 pages of this book alone and sell a 100,000 copies!

5-0 out of 5 stars Caro Delivers on LBJ Again.
As usual, Mr. Caro's work on LBJ is excellent. In particular, the book starts with a very absorbing overview of the US Senate, showcasing the concept of the founding fathers to make the Senate a bastion of calm and reason. However, he also shows the Senate's inherent flaws so keenly exploited by the southern senators who for many generations successfully fought off Civil Rights legislation. Mr. Caro includes a sobering and retrospective view of the Senate's inherent isolationism to include "what if" the Senate had ratified the Treaty of Versailles and America had joined the League of Nations.

As an historian with a deep background in 20th Century America, I have a professional interest in the topic, but so should any reader with an interest in 1950's America, in particular during the tumultuous challenges brought on by the Cold War and the fight for Civil Rights .

However, this book definitively showcases LBJ's years in the Senate. He remains a larger-than-life figure in American politics and his "history" is truly extraordinary.

4-0 out of 5 stars A master work with a central flaw
I have read all three of Robert Caro's volumes on LBJ with fascination. Caro is unsurpassed as a researcher, and while there is far too much repetition here (similar evidence marshalled to make a similar point) and too wide a sense of relevance (was it necessary to spend a chapter, for example, on Coke Stevenson's happy marriage AFTER he lost the 1948 Democratic Primary for the Senate to LBJ?) and a lot of stagey writing, too (eg, thundering one-sentence paragraphs), the degree to which Caro succeeds in reconstructing a context for the most minute of LBJ's machinations gives priceless insight and makes this a truly exciting work to read.
The great flaw of these books, however, is that they make Johnson a one-dimensional character, a tireless self-seeker and manipulator of men and women who cannot live a day without furthering his ambitions. In the service of his cause, Caro's Johnson never commits himself, never gives a hint of his true views, if he has any. He started out as a New Dealer but with Southern Conservatives he always behaved like one of them. Then finally, added to this portrait of the shamelessly sycophantic bully, Caro also would have us believe that Johnson all along was an idealist who really wanted to help people, a trait that Caro sees expressed in LBJ's heroic early performance as a teacher of poor Texas children. This assessment will be borne out by the record of LBJ's presidency (Caro is still at work), when Johnson did abandon his Southern base and revert to the emulation of his original model, FDR. But there is no way that the Johnson has described so far will be able convincingly to be transformed into the idealistic reformer president Caro hints at in volume theree. The complexity of motivation simply isn't there in these three volumes. Caro's LBJ seems always to be approached through the eyes of others, whereas LBJ's own point of view remains elusive.
LBJ's life makes a fascinating story--that of a man who used every dirty trick in the book on his way to the top, then tried to use his position to help people. Caro's book would have been better titled LBJ and the Art of Corruption, for he shows that part of the story brilliantly--how money and power work together (roughly, power equals money squared). It's the other side of the story that is unconvincing here, and we are still left wondering Who is the real LBJ?

2-0 out of 5 stars Like chinese food: an hour later, you're hungry again
I should start by saying I feel badly that I am only giving this book two stars, but I think the biggest factor affecting the rating should be the book's substance and general tone, and that is what I take issue with. That said, I will point out that the style of writing is classic and the sort that only appears in great works of nonfiction. Caro really is a very skilled writer and others should emulate his phraseology.

The problem with the book is that, even though it's 1000 pages long, it feels oddly unsatisfying. I read it through and found myself asking, "Wait, how did he get control of the Senate again?" When you really look at it, Caro tends to say things like, "If so-and-so senator couldn't be persuaded by money or by concessions [or whatever else], then Johnson would just use his power to get the vote." Caro seems to keep using this phrase - Johnson would just use his "power" - to explain things. But that doesn't explain anything, and when you dig down to see what it means, Caro doesn't have any more of an answer than anyone else. He fails to really convey the "why" of things - why no one would vote for Estes Kefauver to get one some committee, or why everyone followed Russell's word so closely, or why the Policy committee decided so much. Any attempt to explain it just hits up against some well-written but basically empty passage saying how "clever" or "feared" or "powerful" Johnson or Russell was.

The real reason for this failure is the basic exaggeration of Johnson's power. Caro makes him out to be the wisest, cleverest person since Solomon. But instead of being "Master of the Senate," Johnson is really just "Master of His Times." That is because Johnson, instead of imposing his will on the majority, like some seem to believe, really just shepherded the pre-existing will to passage. The heart of the book, the struggle over the 1957 Civil Rights bill, proves this. It passed not because Johnson singlehandedly made them do it, but because there was finally enough liberal support, coupled with Republican votes, to make it happen. Johnson may have insisted on making the deal, but any majority leader in office at the time could have done so as well.

So the book's main failure is one of emphasis. By devoting so much well-written copy to a great story (but re-telling it with Johnson as the prime mover), Caro gives too much credit to his subject, and his slippery definition of the exact source of Johnson's power is a symptom of this. Many future politicians will surely try to use this book to imitate Johnson's feats; too bad there really isn't anything particularly exceptional to learn from them.

4-0 out of 5 stars 4 Volumes on a Dead Man. What a Waste of Time
4 Volumes on a Dead Man. What a Waste of Time.

Homo-Erotism of a Dead President. LBJ Dead since 1973.
I am always curious why smart people devote years obsessed with dead people, not to mention dead people from the long past.

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

LBJ died in 1973 from a Heart Attack. He got kick out after one term in office, the Vietnam War was a diaster. The welfare state left us with billions in debt.

All this can be debated in academic circles. But why devote three books to a man dead since 1973.

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

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

96. Memoirs (George F. Kennan Memoirs)
list price: $25.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394716248
Catlog: Book (1983-08-12)
Publisher: Pantheon
Sales Rank: 380448
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars A must-read for anyone involved in foreign affairs
In a very different period of time, I have travelled to (or lived in) almost all the places described in these memoirs. Furthermore, I have confronted - a generation or so removed - many similar anecdotes, characters and bureaucratic missteps. This book has a ring of authenticity that is striking. It describes the ordinary and then shifts smoothly to the momentous. I have not found anything else quite like it. (Leigh White's 'The Long Balkan Night' has this similar feature, but it's the story of a journalist).

With all of that said, I was nonetheless struck by Kennan's essential desire to survive by avoiding any personal risk. He was a successful bureaucrat. During his life, he derived his status entirely from his position, or membership in an organization, and not from any personal endeavour.

How many today would naively do as Kennan and, during a whole career, derive status from membership? There are too many other things on offer. And the bureaucracy now is, well, too bureaucratic. Thank God.

1-0 out of 5 stars kennan's filth
His writing lacks coherency and he seems as though he genuinely has no knowledge of the subject, a thoroughly challenging book with no discernable benefit. The conclusion is inadequate and unjust, perhaps he should learn the facts first.

5-0 out of 5 stars Historically Significant and Equally Sensitive - Rare Combo
It is extremely rare that the memoirs of someone who played a truly significant role in his country's history are also beautifully and sensitively written. They candidly reveal the shy and introspective man who also happen to have been a critical player in the U.S. relationship with the Soviet Union from the 1940s through the 1980s (from the late 1920s thorugh the 1950s in his governmental role and as historian and critic since then). Kennan is candid, brilliant, critical, and happens to have a wonderful writing style. This is personal history at its best. If you've read this one (which won the Pulitzer Prize), be sure to read the sequel.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Life, a Penetrating Look
"Experience had convinced us that far more could be learned by careful, scholarly analysis of information legitimately available concerning any great nation than by the fanciest arrangements of clandestine intelligence."(p48)

"In the face of this knowledge, [of the inevitable Russion domination of Poland] I could only feel that there was something frivolous about our whole action in this Polish question. I reflected on the lightheartedness with which great powers offer advice to smaller ones in matters affecting the vital interests of the latter. I was sorry to find myself, for the moment, a part of this. And I wished that instead of mumbling words of official optimism we had had the judgment and the good taste to bow our heads in silence before the tragedy of a people who have been our allies, whom we have helped to save from our enemies, and whom we cannot save from our friends."(pp209/10)

"The strength of the Kremlin lies largely in the fact that it knows how to wait. But the strength of the Russian people lies in the fact that they know how to wait longer."(p511)

[On the German war crime trials] "I have already mentioned my aversion to our proceeding jointly with the Russians in matters of this nature. I should not like to be misunderstood on this subject. The crimes of the Nazi leaders were immeasurable. These men had placed themselves in a position where a further personal existence on this earth could have had no positive meaning for them or for anyone else. I personally considered that it would have been best if the Allied commanders had had standing instructions that if any of these men fell into the hands of Allied forces they should, once their identity had been established beyond doubt, be executed forthwith.

"But to hold these Nazi leader for public trial was another matter. This procedure could not expiate or undo the crimes they had committed. It could have been justified only as a means for conveying to the world public the repudiation, by the conscience of those peoples and governments conducting the trial, of mass crimes of every sort. To admit to such a procedure a Soviet judge as the representative of a regime which had on its conscience not only the vast cruelties of the Russian Revolution,of collectivization, and of the Russian purges of the 1930s, as well as the manifold brutalities and atrocities perpetrated against the Poles and the peoples of the Baltic countries during the wartime period, was to make a mockery of the only purpose the trials could conceivably serve, and to assume, by association, a share of the responsibility for these Stalinist crimes themselves."(pp260/1)

This is a great book. It shows the progress of a fine mind possessed of a practical scholarship and a moral voice in what were often excrutiatingly ambiguous circumstances.

Kennan was in Moscow in 1935 when Stalin began the purges; he was in Prague in 1938 when Germany invaded the Sudetenland; he was in Berlin when Germany declared war on the U.S.; he was the chief architect of the Marshall plan. Of course, he is associated with our Cold War policy of "containment" of the Soviet Union, an association that he regrets, since very little of it reflects his thinking. The book is a fascinating look at modern power politics from a bemused, but acute, inside observer. ... Read more

97. Victoria's Daughters
by Jerrold M. Packard
list price: $15.95
our price: $11.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312244967
Catlog: Book (1999-12-23)
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Sales Rank: 3921
Average Customer Review: 4.18 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Five women who shared one of the most extraordinary and privileged sisterhoods of all time...

Vicky, Alice, Helena, Louise, and Beatrice were historically unique sisters, born to a sovereign who ruled over a quarter of the earth's people and who gave her name to an era: Queen Victoria. Two of these princesses would themselves produce children of immense consequence. All five would face the social restrictions and familial machinations borne by ninetheenth-century women of far less exalted class.

Researched at the houses and palaces of its five subjects-- in London, Scotland, Berlin, Darmstadt, and Ottawa-- Victoria's Daughters examines a generation of royal women who were dominated by their mother, married off as much for political advantage as for love, and passed over entirely when their brother Bertie ascended to the throne. Packard, an experienced biographer whose last book chronicled Victoria's final days, provides valuable insights into their complex, oft-tragic lives as scions of Europe's most influential dynasty, and daughters of their own very troubled times.
... Read more

Reviews (33)

5-0 out of 5 stars a fantastic way to learn more about history
This was a fantastic way to learn more about the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. I have to admit that although I have a master's degree in history, my major focus has always been ancient history, particularly ancient Near Eastern history (I was one of those people who felt that "modern history" meant everything after 1200 BC.--yes, BC.). Only just lately have I begun to follow up intriguing trails through other periods. Some time ago, I began to realize that one could really gain incredible insight into the events of an era by studying peripherals: the history of countries peripheral to the main stage, side issues like trade, crafts, and long distance contacts, and the women and others behind the main historical figures, etc. Jerrold Packard's book Victoria's Daughters seemed to be just the book I needed to learn about a period in time about which I knew next to nothing, the late 19th Century.

At first it seemed as though the book would be more about Queen Victoria herself than about her daughters. As I read on, though, I realized that the oddity of Victoria's succession to the throne had much to do with the lives of her daughters, as did her early life and her own upbringing. Furthermore, it is against her long life and protracted reign that not only the events in her daughters' lives were measured and chronicled but those of most of the lives of the world's population. There was a reason that most of the 19th Century was labeled "the Victorian era!"

In the past I had given very little thought about the connections that existed throughout European history or about what actually brought about the events that occurred during the turn of the century. I knew of course that the Tsarina of Russia was "Victoria's granddaughter" and a "Prussian princess," but I hardly gave thought to what that really meant. Nicholas and Alexandra were charismatic historical figures in their own right. They were a fairy tale couple, much in love, with a cozy little family living the life of a Russian folktale, and their poetic tale came to a tragic but colorful and certainly very memorable finish. End of story, or so it seemed to me. One knows about World War I, I suppose, and all the people that died in trenches of disease and exposure and mustard gas and enemy fire. One has heard of Bismark and Wilhelm II and Lord Mountbattan, but they're all just interesting names, names one memorizes to answer our world history tests, right? Not when one reads Mr. Packard's story of the children of Queen Victoria.

Each of the daughters, Victoria, Alice, Helena, Louise, and Beatrice had a unique relationship with their mother. Because of whom and what she was, Victoria's was not a particularly warm and maternal presence in their lives. When she was a presence at all, she was distant, self-centered, imperious, and controlling. Unfortunately some of this early relationship translated into problems with parent-child interactions when the girls had children of their own. Lest anyone think that women do not have an impact on the course of history because they don't lead armies into battle--often anyway--one only need read about the relationships between some of these women and their children. That between Victoria, "Vicky," and her eldest son, Willy--later Wilhelm II--will quickly disabuse one of the notion.

Furthermore, the five girls were married into some of the key families of Europe. The titles of each and their in-laws read like a who's who of European nobility, and their sons and daughters became kings, queens, and dukes, many of whom ended up on opposite sides of wars in Europe during the late 19th and early 20th century. The tangled web of personal relationships, treaties, and ambitions ultimately brought about World War I.

I was especially entranced with the intimate detail woven into the stories of each of the women. The author mined diaries, extensive family correspondence, and biographies written about each to create very personal characterizations. The reader becomes as engaged in the story of their lives as in those of fictional characters; one just does feels connected.

FOR THOSE WRITING PAPERS: in history, anthropology, political science, sociology. One might use this book to discuss the limitations of women of the upper classes at the time and their effects on history. One might look at individuals like Alice, who became a follower of the practices of Florence Nightengale, or her sister Louise, who was an accomplished and professional sculptor, who attempted to break out of the social mold of the time to create an identity and existence of their own. What types of role models did they make for others? What changes did they bring about in society? How did they set the stage for our own era? Might the events of WWI been less likely to have happened if the relationships between countries had been based on less personal grounds? Did the relationships between these women and their children and spouses affect the course of events significantly? Or would they have happened anyway? Would they have happened for the same reasons? How was this era a transitional time?

3-0 out of 5 stars Now, which daughter was that??
This is a very readable and interesting book. I think it is one of the few sources in print for information about Queen Victoria's daughters. However, the way the author presents the information can get confusing to the reader. Packard goes from talking about one daughter to the next in the same chapter. This is especially confusing when there is a reference mentioned from earlier in the book. I found myself having to check which daughter I was reading about and looking back at times to remember and item or two. Another slight problem was the author seeming to judge past attitudes and customs by today's standards. I also question some of the facts presented particulary about Queen Victoria. Some disagree with the many other things I have read about this grand lady. Other than these things, I did enjoy the book. I recommend it especially since it is one of the few sources out there.

5-0 out of 5 stars Loved It!
I'm an avid reader of royal biographies. I prefer learning about how people lived the personal side of their lives. Of course, all of these people (given their positions) had some role in politics of the time. I never paid much attention to that aspect and only now realize what a mistake that was.

This book is wonderful simply for it's attention to royal women (some who are often overlooked by other authors) and especially for it's coverage of the family dynamics. But, I also appreciated the way the author described each family member's involvement in wide-reaching European politics. This information is so well weaved into the "story" of their lives, that I was not at all put-off (bored) by it as I usually am. I was quite surprised to finally understand the unification of Germany, the role of landgraves and all those little principalities, and the formation of Canada. Granted, a book of this scope can only touch the surface of these issues. Still, I found it entertaining and elightening.

1-0 out of 5 stars Lackluster writing with plenty of mistakes
This is one book on the Queen and her daughters I would pass on. Packard failed to do any proper research on the princesses and it shows in several huge mistakes committed by the author. I am glad I bought this used as it would have been a waste of my money if I bought it brand new and only to see what a huge dissappoint it was (and is).

5-0 out of 5 stars Victoria's Daughters
This is totally captivating...these very priviledged daughters grew into socially active adults. Very interesting read. ... Read more

98. Living History
by Hillary Rodham Clinton
list price: $28.00
our price: $18.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743222245
Catlog: Book (2003-06)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 1063
Average Customer Review: 3.05 out of 5 stars
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As with most books written by politicians while in office (or at least aiming for one), Living History is, first and foremost, safe. There are interesting observations and anecdotes, the writing is engaging, and there is enough inside scoop to appeal to those looking for a bit of gossip, but there are no bombshells here and it is doubtful the book will change many minds about this polarizing figure. This does not mean the work is without merit, however, for Hillary Clinton has much to say about her experience as first lady, which is the primary focus of the book. Those interested in these experiences and her commentary on them will find the book worth reading; those looking for revelations will be disappointed.

Beginning with a brief outline of her childhood, college years, introduction to politics, and her courtship with Bill Clinton, Clinton covers a wide variety of topics: life on the campaign trail, her troubled tenure as leader of the President's Task Force on National Health Care Reform, meeting with foreign leaders, and her work on human rights, to name a few. By necessity, she also addresses the various scandals that plagued the administration, from Travelgate to Whitewater to impeachment, though she does not go into great detail about each one; rather, she seems content to simply state her case and move on without trying to settle too many old scores.

Along the way, she offers many apologies, though perhaps not the kind some would expect. She does not shy away from her "vast right-wing conspiracy" comment, for instance, though she does wish that she had expressed herself differently. Regarding the Monica Lewinsky scandal, she maintains that her husband initially lied to her, as he did the rest of the country, and did not come clean until two days prior to his grand jury testimony. Calling his betrayal "the most devastating, shocking and hurtful experience of my life," she explains what the aftermath was like personally and why she has elected to stand by her man. In all, Living History is an informative book that goes a long way toward humanizing one of the most recognizable, and controversial, women of our age. Shawn Carkonen ... Read more

Reviews (651)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(...) ... Read more

99. The Last American Man
by Elizabeth Gilbert
list price: $24.95
our price: $24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0670030864
Catlog: Book (2002-05-01)
Publisher: Viking Books
Sales Rank: 104674
Average Customer Review: 3.68 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In The Last American Man, acclaimed journalist and fiction writer Elizabeth Gilbert offers a fresh cultural examination of contemporary American male identity and the uniquely American desire to return to the wilderness.

Gilbert explores what pushed men to settle the frontier West in the nineteenth century and delves into the history of American utopian communities. But her primary focus is on the fascinating true story of Eustace Conway, who left his comfortable suburban home at the age of seventeen to move into the Appalachian Mountains, where for the last twenty years he has lived off the land.

Conway's romantic character challenges all our assumptions about what it means to be a man today; he is a symbol of much that we feel our men should be, but rarely are. From his example, Gilbert delivers an intriguing exploration into the meaning of American manhood and-from the point of view of a woman-refracts masculine American identity in all its conflicting elements. Like Jon Krakauer's national bestseller Into the Wild, this book will find an enthusiastic audience among women, readers of American history, and those interested in nature and the wild.
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Reviews (62)

5-0 out of 5 stars You have to read this!
I first read of Eustace Conway in the newspaper. I went to visit his Turtle Island Preserve in Boone, NC. I bought The Last American man and went to the author book signing at Malaprop's in Asheville and met Eustace for the second time.
I have read this book twice and think Gilbert has done an amazing job. The writing is sharp and witty and sensitive. I read pages aloud to my family on a recent vacation (the mule story) and they roared with laughter vowing to read the book.
Anyone interested in Thoreau or John Muir or Everett Ruess...if you care about the planet, living simply, really following your heart--You MUST read this wonderful book. It is so inspiring because it is true. Eustace Conway is a great example to humanity for his courage to live with integrity but Gilbert also shows his human failings and mirrors everyone's challenges in wishing to find true love. Read it and let it motivate you to live more fully.

5-0 out of 5 stars Read, read, read this book!
I can't say enough good things about this book. (& yes, I accidentally put my review in for the audio cd!) A fascinating and complex subject handled with the perfect amount of admiration, objective analysis and humor. Eustace Conway's fervent attempt to lead Americans back to nature by setting an example - even if he tends to be so busy promoting that lifestyle that he doesn't always get to live it! - makes for a compelling read. I respect and admire not only his passion for what he believes in, as well as allowing so much of his character - good and difficult - to be made accessible to Elizabeth Gilbert. You might not be moved to go live out in the woods ala Conway, but this book will make you stop, think and evaluate your life. (Now if only he could sort out that whole girl thang...!!!)

Just a side comment on someone else's review: Narcissistic, ok, but I definitely didn't get that he self-medicated with alcohol. As a matter of fact, Elizabeth says he should loosen up a bit more. And yes, he had his Dad lend him the money to buy the land before it was too late, but nearly killed himself working to pay it back in record time.

As for Ms. Gilbert, I was so impressed that, midway through reading this, I purchased her novel "Stern Men" and look forward to reading her future work. I also hope she writes the follow-up in 20, 30 years or so! I could go on and on but I'll shut up and say, thank you Elizabeth, thank you Eustace for a gripping, inspiring story so well written.

5-0 out of 5 stars A modern-day Daniel Boone. . .
This is one of those books that stir up strong opinions and heated controversy. Eustace Conway, the back-to-nature mountain man of the title, is someone you can see as a living American myth or a nut case. The author's portrait of him, full of ironies right from the title onward, lends itself to either point of view. And depending on how the book is read, you can see either admiration or skepticism in what she says about Conway.

Or you can see subject and author in all of these ways which, as I understand the book, is what the author intends. Eustace Conway is full of contradictions. He's both immensely appealing and stridently off-putting. A rigorous thinker, naturalist, and walking whole-earth-catalog, he is still a babe in the woods in knowing how to negotiate just about any kind of relationship with another human being - including the many, many young women he attracts. By the author's account, few men so lucky in bed have been so unlucky in love.

For every amateur psychologist the author provides more than enough back-story to puzzle over Conway's behavior. There's a tyrant father who heaps withering scorn on his son, starting at the age of two. And there's his great-outdoors-loving mother, who rescues him from his father by encouraging his unsupervised forays into the woods. By the time he is out of high school, he's already living in a teepee, beading his own moccasins, killing game for food, skinning animals, and hiking the entire Appalachian Trail wearing nothing more than two bandanas, weather permitting.

Meanwhile, his epic journeys on foot and on horseback and his pioneering in the North Carolina backcountry are mythic Americana. While our first reaction to all this may be admiration, Gilbert writes in a wisecracking tone that heightens the ironies and more than once made me laugh out loud. And she reminds us that if there's anyone to fault, it's not Conway but the gullibly romantic Americans who believe literally in their own national mythology and heroes. Looking back to Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett, for instance, she reveals that they were in fact no different. Like Conway, they were supporters of the myths and legends that grew up around them and good old-fashioned American entrepreneurs and self-promoters.

Anyway, there's much to enjoy in this book. And it's full of surprises - right up to the last pages, as Gilbert tells a poignant story of how Conway touched the life of a troubled teenager who spent a week with him in the woods building a fence. And the author's closing image captures the spirit of the entire book - Conway getting out of his truck and shouting, "I love you!" at a buck deer that refuses to move off the road. The image is moving, ridiculous, or both; take your pick.

1-0 out of 5 stars Broken
Read within these pages the effects of extreme mental and emotional abuse upon a child and the way it plays out as an adult. Eustace is a broken human. His unfortunate treatment at the hands of his father seriously crippled him. People who have suffered like Eustace are often over-achieving, perfectionists; unable to maintain relations with others; either oblivious to the needs of others or slavishly catering to the whims of others and they almost always come to closley resemble the abuser.

Big Eustace was a denizen of the office and the classroom- liked to write out long equations and ramble on to hear the sound of his own voice, so little Eustace subcociously chose a path 180 degrees away from father and becomes a creature of the forest but ended up rambling in his classroom just the same, just a different subject.
To me this was an eminently sad tale of a boy going to any length for father's notice and approval. Neither of which came at least by the conclusion of this book.
Eutace-walk away.

1-0 out of 5 stars awful
It's too bad that Eustace Conway's story had to be told by Elizabeth Gilbert. She's totally immature as a writer, and she doesn't know how to maintain any sort of distance from her subject. Last American Man reads like you'd expect it would, coming from a city gal who has a little romp in the woods with an outdoorsman. She is completely clueless. She retells Eustace's stories without skepticism. She quotes liberally from the work of Richard Slotkin, a hip scholar -- perhaps to bring some heft to this otherwise lightweight work. I travelled to Boone, N.C., shortly after the book came out and talked to folks who knew Eustace, had him in a class, etc. They thought the book was a laughable piece of trash, too -- a not-very-accurate picture of the man, and certainly not an accurate picture of that corner of Appalachia. Don't waste your time. (I notice that most of the reviewers here focus more on whether they like Eustace as a person, and not whether the book is any good. Which it's not.) ... Read more

100. Faith and Betrayal : A Pioneer Woman's Passage in the American West
list price: $23.00
our price: $15.64
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 140004135X
Catlog: Book (2005-04-26)
Publisher: Knopf
Sales Rank: 4884
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Definitely "DRAMATIC AND POWERFUL"
What a life ! What a book ! It's Biography, 19th Century American and European History, Religion, Woman's Studies, Self-help and so much more. I hope it finds room inyour book collection ; the impact that it has on you will determine its placement. The story of Jean Rio is a gracefull written portrait of adventure, the acceptance of compromise and the integrity found in perseverance. The rich dance oftender touching tough touches every page. Jean Rio was in search of the music within herself and the heartfelt breathing of a Spiritual life fully lived. Did she succeed ? I believe that if she were sitting here with me today she might answer the question by saying, "go listen to Etta James' GOTTA SERVE SOMEBODY ". You'll have to read the book to find out what she thought of slavery and polygamy. ENJOY !

5-0 out of 5 stars Intimate and Epic
I saw the quote, "intimate and epic," in a review in a Santa Fe newspaper, which intrigued me so I bought the book.The book is indeed full of paradox.It is intimate and epic.Small and large. Simple and complex.Historic and mundane.I was touched deeply by the life of Jean Rio. ... Read more

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