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101. Theodore Rex
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102. Because He Could
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103. Ulysses S. Grant : Memoirs and
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104. The Night Trilogy : Night, Dawn,
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105. Nightingales : The Extraordinary
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106. Lost Splendor: The Amazing Memoirs
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107. The Family : The Real Story of
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108. That Devil Forrest: Life of General
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109. Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet
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120. Stalin : The Court of the Red

101. Theodore Rex
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.86
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812966007
Catlog: Book (2002-10-01)
Publisher: Modern Library
Sales Rank: 4092
Average Customer Review: 4.05 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Theodore Rex is the story—never fully told before—of Theodore Roosevelt’s two world-changing terms as President of the United States. A hundred years before the catastrophe of September 11, 2001, “TR” succeeded to power in the aftermath of an act of terrorism. Youngest of all our chief executives, he rallied a stricken nation with his superhuman energy, charm, and political skills. He proceeded to combat the problems of race and labor relations and trust control while making the Panama Canal possible and winning the Nobel Peace Prize. But his most historic achievement remains his creation of a national conservation policy, and his monument millions of acres of protected parks and forest. Theodore Rex ends with TR leaving office, still only fifty years old, his future reputation secure as one of our greatest presidents. ... Read more

Reviews (151)

5-0 out of 5 stars Bully!
A thrilling look at the great Bull Moose at the apex of his career. Morris definitely seems to have regained his stride after his disappointing Reagan roman a clef. Among recent presidential biographies I'd rank "Theodore Rex" just behind McCullough's "Truman."

5-0 out of 5 stars Morris Displays the Roosevelt Personality
In searching for a biography that perfectly balances TR's personal and political life, I found that Theodore Rex hits the spot. From the outset, Edmund Morris envelops the reader in a novel-like way; I never felt like I was reading a biography. His research is so in-depth and his writing so clear that it seems as if he accompanied Roosevelt throughout his presidency. Numerous quotes from such intimates as Elihu Root and John Hay shed fascinating light on Roosevelt's character. While the descriptions of Roosevelt's political battles reveal his political character, it is the description of his summer life at Sagamore Hill, his skinny-dipping escapades in the Potomac River, and his tennis challenges to foreign ministers that personify Roosevelt. Morris has done a fabulous job in leaving no stone unturned. He turns Roosevelt from a detached presidential figure into a jovial personality. A must read for American history buffs and anyone who enjoys reading about dynamic people. I read it before The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt and had no problem, but I recommend some previous knowledge of the Roosevelt administration to truly enjoy the book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Biggest Personality to Occupy the White House
Theodore Rex is the second volume of a promised triology about the life of one of our most fascinating and complex presidents. Morris' first volume was the Pulitzer Prize winning book that chronicals TR's rise to the presidency. This volume opens on September 14, 1901 as TR becomes the youngest president at age 42, following the assassination of William McKinley.

Morris reveals the many dimensions of TR's seven and a half years in the White House. It is not always a pretty story. TR loved the Bully pulpit and boldly wielded the power of his office to the great chagrin of party bosses, Wall Street tycoons, and the Congress. One observer determined TR personified the motto, "Rem facias rem, si possis recte, si non quocunque modo rem"--"The thing, get the thing, fairly if possible, if not, then however it can be gotten." He enraged conservative Republicans and financiers with his initiatives against big business, enflamed the White South when he invited Booker T. Washington to the White House for dinner, and cowed party elders and Congress with his understanding of politics and the common man.

Along with a huge personality and amazing breadth of interests, TR left an impressive legacy--the Monroe Doctrine reaffirmed and the Old World banished from the New World, a coal strike settlement, the Panama Canal, a brokered peace agreement between Japan and Russia, liberation of Cuba, a greatly strengthened Navy, greater balance between capital and labor, national conservation conference, eighteen national monuments and five national parks, and a folk consensus that he had been the most powerfully positive American leader since Abraham Lincoln.

It is hard to conceive that any author could write a more interesting story about a fictitious character. Morris' book is well researched, thoroughly documented, and a pleasure to read. This is surely one of the most interesting biographies written about one of our most fascinating presidents. Hopefully, Morris will not make us wait as long for the next volume in the series as he did for this volume (~22 years).

5-0 out of 5 stars Dee-lighted! A bully book about a bully President
As this work of popular history by Edmund Morris begins, it's the early morning of 14 September 1901. President McKinley lies dying in Buffalo, NY, mortally wounded by an assassin's bullet. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt is on his way by buckboard and train from his isolated vacation cabin in Upper Tahawus, NY. Over the next 7 years and 169 days, THEODORE REX would drag and shove the United States into the twentieth century.

Unlike perhaps other biographies of TR, this one only hints at his life before his ascendancy to the White House, and ends somewhat abruptly on the day he transferred the mantle of power to William Howard Taft on 4 March 1909. In between, Morris hits all the high points of Roosevelt's two administrations: acquisition of the rights to build the Panama Canal, settlement of the 1902 coal strike, arbitration of the treaty ending the Russo-Japanese War, build-up of the American Navy, establishment of Cuban independence, and the calling of a national conservation conference. And certainly the low point - Theodore's response to the 1906 Brownsville Incident, wherein 20-30 Black troops of the 25th U.S. Infantry allegedly went on a shooting rampage in that Texas town.

One of the strengths of the author's prose is that it never becomes ponderous. Indeed, at times, it approaches oddly lyrical, as when he describes the signing of the canal treaty between newly independent Panama and the U.S.:

"Pens scratched across parchment. Wax melted on silk. Two oceans brimmed closer, ready to spill."

THEODORE REX isn't solely about great affairs of State. Did you know that both Teddy and his eldest daughter, Alice, habitually carried pistols. What would today's anti-gun lobby make of that!

The book also serves to dispel a Hollywood myth regarding the 1904 Perdicaris Affair, in which an American citizen in Tangier was kidnapped by the desert insurgent Ahmed ben Mohammed el Raisuli, an event memorialized in celluloid by the vastly entertaining 1975 film, THE WIND AND THE LION, starring Candice Bergen and Sean Connery. Had the movie been more true to fact, Ms. Bergen couldn't have played the role unless dressed in drag.

With my short attention span and too many books waiting on the shelf, this narrative of Roosevelt's Presidency is just about as good as it gets. At 555 paperback pages, it's long, but not too long to bog me down for weeks. It's detailed, compiled from a nine-page bibliography of sources, but not so detailed as to become tedious. And it's got photographs - one or two in each of its thirty-two chapters. At the book's conclusion, I felt I had a satisfactory appreciation of Teddy the man, and was glad I'd taken the opportunity to pick up this excellent volume. My only criticism is the lack of a brief post-epilogue noting Teddy's abortive 1912 attempt to regain the Presidency at the head of the Bull Moose Party, thus splitting the Republican vote and handing the election to Woodrow Wilson, which would have perhaps better rounded out the saga.


5-0 out of 5 stars A thorough and fascinating book about a great presidency.
If you are looking for stories of Theodore Roosevelt (I consciously use "Theodore" rather than "Teddy" because of the account in this book of T.R.'s bewilderment that NOBODY he saw when traveling around America called out to him by full first name) charging up hills in Cuba with the Rough Riders or returning from African safari and forming his own third party, this is not the book for you. This book does not cover before or after his 7 years and 169 days as president.

Theodore Rex examines the Roosevelt presidency, from William McKinley's assassination by an anarchist in September of 1901, to the swearing in of "Big Bill" Taft in a blizzard in March of 1909.

If you want to read about Roosevelt before his presidency, I would recommend Edmund Morris' The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. It is similar, in that it is an immensely readable historical examination of one of America's greatest leaders.

Theodore Rex, though, gives great insight into the life and times of Mr. Roosevelt, the way he changed the presidency, the way he changed America, and the way he changed the world.

Roosevelt's (and America's) role in the Panamanian revolution and secession from Colombia, and the subsequent securing of the Panama Canal Treaty, is highly enlightening, and at times bordering on humorous.

To briefly quote from the book (page 290):

"...another cable from Panama City announced that a government gunboat had tossed five or six shells into the city, 'killing a Chinaman in Salsipuedes street and mortally wounding an ass.' If that was the extent of Colombia's rage so far, a tired President could get some sleep."

The story of the kidnapping in Morocco of Ion Perdicaris, a wealthy, American-born expatriate who had given up his citizenship during the Civil War (unbeknownst to the U.S. at the time), and the pressure Roosevelt applied ("Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead"), during the 1904 Republican presidential nominating convention in Chicago, to secure Mr. Perdicaris' freedom, is another fascinating bit of American history. It is a prime example of America's rising stature in the world, and of Theodore Roosevelt's famous "big stick."

Other parts, big and small, of Roosevelt's presidency are conveyed with a keen knack for detail and a high degree of objectivity: mediating an impasse between labor and capital on more than one occasion and in more than one context; negotiating a peace between Japan and Russia (which won Roosevelt the Nobel Prize); intervening in Cuba; managing the Philippines; dining with Booker T. Washington; commissioning and sending off of the "Great White Fleet" around the world; and even just moments with his family and friends.

A look at a truly independent and forward-thinking individual, Theodore Rex is a joy to read and ponder. Any serious student of American history ought to read this book, but by no means should this book be limited to history buffs. Highly and excitedly recommended! ... Read more

102. Because He Could
by Dick Morris, Eileen McGann
list price: $25.95
our price: $15.57
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Asin: 0060784156
Catlog: Book (2004-10-01)
Publisher: Regan Books
Sales Rank: 708
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Book Description

Who is Bill Clinton?

A man whose presidency was disgraced by impeachment -- yet who remains one of the most popular presidents of our time.

A man whose autobiography, My Life, was panned by critics as a self-indulgent daily diary -- but rode the bestseller lists for months.

A man whose policies changed America at the close of the twentieth century -- yet whose weakness left us vulnerable to terror at the dawn of the twenty-first.

No one better understands the inner Bill Clinton, that creature of endless and vexing contradiction, than Dick Morris. From the Arkansas governor's races through the planning of the triumphant 1996 reelection, Morris was Clinton's most valued political adviser. Now, in the wake of Clinton's million-selling memoir My Life, Morris and his wife, Eileen McGann, set the record straight with Because He Could, a frank and perceptive deconstruction of the story Clinton tells -- and the many more revealing stories he leaves untold.

With the same keen insight they brought to Hillary Clinton's life in their recent bestseller Rewriting History, Morris and McGann uncover the hidden sides of the complicated and sometimes dysfunctional former president. Whereas Hillary is anxious to mask who she really is, they show, Bill Clinton inadvertently reveals himself at every turn -- as both brilliant and undisciplined, charming yet often filled with rage, willing to take wild risks in his personal life but deeply reluctant to use the military to protect our national security. The Bill Clinton who emerges is familiar -- reflexively blaming every problem on right-wing persecutors or naïve advisers -- but also surprising: passive, reactive, working desperately to solve a laundry list of social problems yet never truly grasping the real thrust of his own presidency. And while he courted danger in his personal life, the authors argue that Clinton's downfall has far less to do with his private demons than with his fear of the one person who controlled his future: his own first lady.

Sharp and stylishly written, full of revealing insider anecdotes, Because He Could is a fresh and probing portrait of one of the most fascinating, and polarizing, figures of our time.

... Read more

103. Ulysses S. Grant : Memoirs and Selected Letters : Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant / Selected Letters, 1839-1865 (Library of America)
by Ulysses S. Grant, Mary Drake McFeeley, William S. McFeeley
list price: $35.00
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Asin: 0940450585
Catlog: Book (1990-09-01)
Publisher: Library of America
Sales Rank: 15486
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Grant wrote his "Personal Memoirs" to secure his family's future. In doing so, the Civil War's greatest general won himself a unique place in American letters. His character, sense of purpose, and simple compassion are evident throughout this deeply moving account, as well as in the letters to his wife, Julia, included here. ... Read more

Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars US Grant--in his own words
The story of Ulysses Simpson Grant is a tale about a man who rises from obscurity to become one of the most important men of the nineteenth century. Many men saw Grant, as general-in-chief of the Union armies during the late Civil War, as the savior of the nation. He was elected to two terms as President, and enjoyed such immense popularity that he was lavished with praise and gifts around the globe when he traveled the world. But Grant's origins were humble. He was the son of a tanner. As a young man he failed at nearly everything he did, and had a reputation, while stationed with the army in California, of being a drunk. Grant seemed the antithesis of greatness; yet somehow he rose to become one of the most prominent men in the United States during the Civil War.

Who better to tell Grant's story than himself? His memoirs are somewhat self-serving, and Grant does not hesitate to point out the flaws of others. All too often he reminds his reader that, had things been done his way, disasters would have been avoided and everything would have been all right. There is some reason for his ego, however. Grant had a lot of critics, and was treated unfairly by many from the beginning. When his army was surprised at Shiloh, people said he was drunk. When he stalled outside of Vicksburg, they blamed it one the bottle. Grant's name was connected by some scandal or other through most of his Civil War career (as well as during his presidency). If he seeks to right some wrongs and, in the process, comes across as a little full of himself in his memoirs, who can blame him?

Grant gives great descriptions of many battles and campaigns, but sparse accounts of others. He avoids sensitive subjects (like the bottle, for example), and does tend to focus on what he did RIGHT rather than what he did WRONG. Despite these inconsistencies, however, Grant's memoirs are a great read. Grant tells his side of the story, and the result is a very entertaining read. Grant's style is engaging, and while not focusing too much on exact figures (Sherman's memoirs are much better for that), he manages to convey to the reader the most important aspects of each major action in which he was involved. Grant may not have been the best general in the war, but he was certainly the right man for the job. Read these memoirs for a look inside the complex mind of the man who took on Robert E. Lee--and actually won.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best book ever by a US President
Granted (sic) that there are few serious rivals(Jefferson's "Notes on the State of Virginia" and Eisenhower's "Crusade in Europe" come to mind but don't measure up), this is a remarkable literary achievement by an "uncommon common man." Not only is it an indispensible, if not flawless, narrative of the cataclysmic events of the Civil War, the circumstances under which he wrote make its very creation a triumph of will and ability.

As historian Brooks Simpson has noted, Grant's character was so complete that nobody could believe he was real. But he was, and the proof is in this book, which contains not only the "Personal Memoirs" but many invaluable letters revealing the man as well as the general. Though this edition lacks an introduction and other scholarly apparatus to enhance its value, the sheer scope of Grant's writings available here probably make it the best current presentation of his unparalleled view of the war. Also, the early chapters on the Mexican-American War (which he detested) are most enlightening in showing some of the sources of his future greatness.

There were two great tragedies of Grant's public life. First, American Indians and African Americans suffered greatly while he was president, and it was a shame that he didn't (couldn't?) do more on their behalf. But in fairness, could/would anyone else have done better? Probably not. The earlier tragedy was that he was prevented from winning the Civil War early on, by the jealous ambition of rival generals and the circumspect nature of Union strategy. Unfortunately, the impediments that led to the slaughter at Shiloh ensured that that battle would set the tone for the rest of the conflict. If Grant had been given free rein in 1862, several hundred thousand lives would have been saved---but without the abolition of slavery and Reconstruction, there would have been a different tragedy.

General Grant made some grievous tactical errors during the war, but was able to learn from his mistakes. It's quite misleading to think of him as a heavy-handed butcher who prevailed by grinding down opponents no matter how many men he lost. By 1864 that may have been the only way to defeat Robert E. Lee. But Grant's victories before then were consistently marked by speed, boldness and strategic brilliance whenever he was permitted to act independently, as well as great sensitivity to carnage and death. Has any general ever been better at capturing enemy armies (and thus sparing lives), rather than bloodily smashing them? Perhaps the best way to compare Lee and Grant is to see the former as the last great general of the 18th century, while the latter was the first great one of the 20th century. (A.L. Conger, "Rise of U.S. Grant" helped begin the revival of his reputation; J.F.C. Fuller, "Grant & Lee" is a well-balanced comparison.) But the "Memoirs" document---with artless modesty---Grant's consummate skill at maneuver well before he introduced modern total war. They also contain the classic passage about Appomattox, wherein Grant summarized the entire war in one immortal sentence: "I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse" (p.735).

Grant's great skill at turning a phrase, along with shrewd insights and dry humor, is well-displayed throughout the "Memoirs" and letters. It's true that there are some inaccuracies, because while he did have access to important documents when writing, his race against death resulted in some errors due to haste, and some inevitably faulty interpretations. But the book's reputation for unreliability is mostly unfounded. Ultimately, it is Grant's story, not a history of the war. It is not a complete autobiography, however, since most post-1865 events are not covered. A favorite image (described elsewhere) comes from Grant's post-retirement world travels, when 20,000 English workingmen turned out to march in his honor, honoring him as the general of freedom who vanquished the armies of slavery. He did not save everyone, but along with Lincoln, he saved his country. Enough said.

5-0 out of 5 stars Read This
Whatever history has to say about US Grant, the president, there's a reason why his NYC memorial was the most visited American landmark until the Washington Momument was completed. It should fool no one that Grant's memoirs, written under financial pressure, and completed only days before throat cancer killed him, have become part of the American canon. If you've ever seen those upright potraits of this man, his frill-less diction and clarity will not surprise. Despite hailing from another time, this is a remarkably quick read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Get this edition for the letters
Grant's memoirs are the greatest books in American literature. Gore Vidal, Gertrude Stein and other literary figures have acknowledged their preeminence. Even if you know or care nothing about the American Civil War, these books are essential reading for any educated person. Grant wrote simply, yet beautifully, and he was dying in agony of throat cancer when he penned these books. The story of the writing of the Memoirs is one of the most amazing and courageous tales in American history. Imagine racing against death to complete an epic story, the proceeds of which would provide for his family after his death. What an amazing man!

This edition of Grant's memoirs is wonderful because the appendix contains several hundred letters he wrote over the years. Most of these missives were written to his wife, Julia, and they shed an enormous light upon this shy man's character. Grant's letters show him to have been a tremendously gentle, decent man, with a great sense of humor and profound love in his heart for his wife and family.

This is an excellent edition, which will bring to you only one of the greatest books written in the English language, but also a selection of Grant's letters. Both make for engrossing, gripping reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars An American's Autobiography
Grant's Personal Memoirs and Selected Letters 1839-1865 Library of America Edition

This is one of the most important books written an American. There is something huge and seething about these memoirs. To be sure it is not from the cool tone; Grant was old fashioned in that way, and these are not confidential memoirs. This is the story about a down at the heels middle-aged man working as a clerk in Galena, Illinios shop when the Civil War started and how that man would become the nation's first four star general. But don't think of this as a success story in the ordinary sense. This lucid and clear story is one not of a man's success but of a nation's torment. Throughout the book Grant goes out of his way to praise his subordinates for his successes. Grant's modesty however does not obscure or hide his ability. There are many reasons why Grant was the best general of the Civil War, but one that is often overlooked is that Grant wrote the best orders. We know from others that he would haunch over his desk for hours writing. These orders, some of which are included in the autobiography, are models are concise and breviloquent writing. From these orders we can tell that he was involved in every element of his troop's victories and defeats. Grant gave great attention to details, and was meticulous in his preparations, and planning.

There are a number of editions of Grant's "Personal Memoirs" in print, but I am recommending the Library of America edition because it contains the Report of Lieutentant-General U. S. Grant of the Untied States Armies dated July 22, 1865 and a selection of his letters. The letters to his family are particularly valuable because they show Grant at his most personal and intimate. ... Read more

104. The Night Trilogy : Night, Dawn, The Accident
by Elie Wiesel
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
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Asin: 0374521409
Catlog: Book (1987-09-01)
Publisher: Hill and Wang
Sales Rank: 11638
Average Customer Review: 4.39 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (23)

5-0 out of 5 stars Metaphors of Horror
Wiesel commands the heart and soul of his readers in The Night Trilogy. There are a certain number of books that reach a person at the most elemental level and show them light and also unforgettable darkness. The Night Trilogy does this without pretense, without effort and without excuse.

Many people have read Wiesel's account of Auschwitz and Buchenwald through his short novel, Night. If anyone is going to read Holocaust literature they should not limit themselves to a concise focus on the camps, but also what happens to the survivors after the events.

When you combine Night, Dawn, and The Accident together, you as the reader can assemble a true and purer understanding of what Holocaust survivors went through and more importantly what they continue to go through.

The collection is a must read for anyone who considers themselves socially aware. The Night Trilogy is a work that you will go back to time and again. Readers will lend this out to friends not simply to be nice, but because they will feel a yearning for all those in their lives to know what happened and is still happening to Holocaust survivors.

Read this collection until your heart bleeds and pass it on to a friend so that compassion and understanding will bloom.

4-0 out of 5 stars Symbolic suffering
Elie Wiesel gives you a wide range view of the Holocaust and the continuing lives of the survivors. The story Night was the best of the three stories in the book. Night was the best because Wiesel wrote the story with more passion and emotion. The horrific incidents described in the book were so real that reader could connect with the author's pain. "I've got more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He's the only one who's kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people." These words were spoken by Wiesel because he feels that God abandoned him. Incidents such as the Holocaust lead Wiesel to speak these words and loose his faith in religion. Any book that can capture this emotion should be indulged.

Both Dawn and the Accident showed a great deal of symbolic meaning. They both made refrences to Night a number of times. This showed that even though the Holocaust ended, Wiesel still continued to suffer. An example of symbolism in the book is Wiesel's transformation from the death in Night and the rebirth in Dawn. If there is to be a book required to read in school The Night Trilogy should be it.

2-0 out of 5 stars The Accident
The Accident
I recently read the first person narrative biography, The Accident, by Eli Wiesel. This novel is very real which leads it to be depressing. I am not real sure I liked the book. It was interesting, but it was never very happy. The main character, Eliezer, comes from a concentration camp to New York and tries to start his life over. He is soon afterwards hit by a taxicab and severely hospitalized in a body cast. He then reflects on his life up to that point as he lies in the hospital all day talking with his doctor about death, pain, and love. His doctor meanwhile tries to figure out if the accident really was an accident.

People interested in relationships or a person's psyche may be interested in this novel. The reader is invited into every thought that Eliezer has. It is very personal, and Eliezer is very depressed from a tormented past from concentration camps and the catastrophe that happens to his people. He contemplates all aspects of living after being so near death. I am not really sure anyone will enjoy this book. This book is more of an eye opener. This is a good book for people who enjoy realism and pessimistic symbolism.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Trilogy
This is a case where the whole is greater than the sum of its' parts. Although all three books are very good to excellent, the way they fit together creates an excellent story from beginning to end. We start with "Night" which creates the understanding of the Holocaust through the perceptive eyes and ears of the youthful story teller. We then move to the book "Dawn" in which we find the main character as a young man who is involved in a moral dilemna. How he resolves the dilemna makes him realize that there is evil in all of us. His attempt to rationalize his actions are not sufficient to redeem himself in his own mind. We finish up with "The Accident" where we find the main character as a middle-aged man whose anger at the world makes him incapable of love. Certainly all that has preceded in his life helps us to understand his feelings but his anger is uncompromising and a dead end in and of itself. The problem resolves itself in a solution that brings an impressive closure to essentially all three books.

As a matter of clarification, each novel is a seperate story in itself. There is no "common Character" to all the novels. However, we get a sense that this all happens to one person. This is how well these stories fit together. Essentially, these works would appear to be autobiographical which adds to their meaning. Although Wiesel writes extensively about the Holocaust, there is certainly a special common thread to these stories. Read all three and make sure you read them in their proper order. Despite their brevity, it is as good an overall explantion, evaluation and summation of the Holocaust as you will find.

4-0 out of 5 stars How I the rate The Accident
The Accident is a book that really makes you think about your life and how well you have lived it. When he gets put in the hosipital by this accident, he starts to think how well he lived his life. I liked how it went back and forth between when he was in the hospital and back to things that happened before the accident. This book has a really good moral, well this is the moral i got out of it. You should put the bad things of the past out of your mind and only keep the good, and live life to the fullest because you never know when it is going to end. there are little saying and conversations in the book that i like very much. there is a part in the book where the guys friend paints a portrait of him while he is in the hospital and the day he gets out he doesnt end up takeing the portrait home, insted he friend that painted it does something with. but over all this is a good book, well if you like books that make you think about yourself. ... Read more

105. Nightingales : The Extraordinary Upbringing and Curious Life of Miss Florence Nightingale
list price: $27.95
our price: $16.77
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345451872
Catlog: Book (2004-08-31)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Sales Rank: 1826
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106. Lost Splendor: The Amazing Memoirs of the Man Who Killed Rasputin
by Prince Felix Youssoupoff
list price: $21.95
our price: $14.93
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1885586582
Catlog: Book (2003-10)
Publisher: Helen Marx Books
Sales Rank: 21195
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The fascinating first-person account of the cross-dressing prince who poisoned Rasputin with rose cream cakes laced with cyanide and spiked Madeira is now back in print. Originally published in France in 1952, during the years of Prince Youssoupoff's exile from Russia, Lost Splendor has all the excitement of a thriller. Born to great riches, lord of vast feudal estates and many palaces, Felix Youssoupoff led the life of a grand seigneur in the days before the Russian Revolution. Married to the niece of Czar Nicholas II, he could observe at close range the rampant corruption and intrigues of the imperial court, which culminated in the rise to power of the sinister monk Rasputin. Finally, impelled by patriotism and his love for the Romanoff dynasty, which he felt was in danger of destroying itself and Russia, he killed Rasputin in 1916 with the help of the Grand Duke Dimitri and others. More than any other single event, this deed helped to bring about the cataclysmic upheaval that ended in the advent of the Soviet regime.~The author describes the luxury and glamour of his upbringing, fantastic episodes at nightclubs and with the gypsies in St. Petersburg, grand tours of Europe, dabbling in spiritualism and occultism, and an occasional conscience-stricken attempt to alleviate the lot of the poor.~Prince Youssoupoff was an aristocrat of character. When the moment for action came, when the monk's evil influence over the czar and czarina became unbearable, he and his friends decided that they must get rid of the monster. He tells how Rasputin courted him and tried to hypnotize him, and how finally they decoyed him to the basement of the prince's palace. Prince perfectly objective, remarkably modern and as accurate as human fallibility allows. His book is therefore readable, of historical value and intimately tragic. It is as if Count Fersen had written a detailed account of the last years of Marie Antoinette.--Harold Nicholson, on the first English edition, 1955 By Prince Felix Youssoupoff. Hardcover, 5.25 x 8.25 in./300 pgs / 0 color 14 BW0 duotone 0 ~ Item D20143 ... Read more

Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Glimpse Into A Vanished World
Prince Felix Yousssoupoff is best known as one of the murderers of Gregory Rasputin just before the Russian Revolution. He was a member of one of Russia's most aristocratic families, and in this memoir, originally published in the 1950s, he gives us a glimpse of life for a nobleman in pre-Revolutionary Russia.

Life was certainly rich, if not always good, for Prince Felix. As a younger son, he was given very little education and basically allowed to do as he pleased during his formative years. Most of the time what he was pleased to do was to get into trouble. I lost count of the number of servants, governesses, and other retainers who quit with nervous breakdowns after trying to look after Felix. Under the influence of his elder brother, whom he adored, Felix had an early initiation into sexual and other kinds of debauchery. He enjoyed dressing as a woman and living the high life in St. Petersburg, London, and Paris. Felix was reticent about his sexuality, claiming several affairs with women but speaking more warmly about his men friends, including Grand Duke Dmitri, who helped him murder Rasputin. When Felix's brother was killed in a duel Felix became the heir to a vast fortune. He married Tsar Nicholas' niece Irina, whom he claimed to adore but otherwise said little about.

The most interesting parts of this book deal with Rasputin, whom Felix met several times. Typically, Felix hints that there was a sexual nature to these encounters, but divulges few details. Felix describes the murder and his subsequent exile, which saved him from being in St. Petersburg during the February Revolution in 1917, and his internment in the Crimea with other members of the Imperial Family from 1917 through 1919, when he escaped on a British warship.

This book is interesting but highly reticent. Felix never loses a chance to glamorize himself and his activities, with the result that some undeniably brave actions, like his several trips to St. Petersburg to rescue treasures while the Bolshevik terror was at its height, tend to get less attention than they deserve. A more open and informative biography of Prince Felix, The Man Who Killed Rasputin, by Greg King, was published several years ago and will help fill in the gaps left by Felix's own work.

5-0 out of 5 stars A historical treat
I first encountered this book as a teenager and was just enchanted with it, and I'm thrilled a new printing has come out. Of the many autobiographies of exiled Russian nobility, this one stood out. Perhaps because of the historical role he played. There are fascinating stories of eccentric personalities (how about getting a mountain for a birthday present, complete with sheep?). A complex personality, Felix was, admittedly, spoiled rotten, used to getting his way and yet, had admirable traits (it's not in this book but once in exile, he never turned down a request for help from another refugee). And then there is Rasputin and his part in that assasination. Of course, Felix leaves out some details about himself other historians have noted. However, the book is still an accurate picture of a lost world. If you enjoy this era, this book is worth having in your collection. ... Read more

107. The Family : The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty
list price: $15.95
our price: $10.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400096413
Catlog: Book (2005-05-17)
Publisher: Anchor
Sales Rank: 5229
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars I AM NOT SUPRISED

108. That Devil Forrest: Life of General Nathan Bedford Forrest
by John Allan Wyeth
list price: $22.95
our price: $22.95
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Asin: 0807115789
Catlog: Book (1989-08-01)
Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
Sales Rank: 155130
Average Customer Review: 4.89 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (9)

4-0 out of 5 stars Torn
I'm torn on this review. I'm a new student to the ACW, but new enough to still know that NBF is one of the more intriquing characters of the war. I thought I did my research well and picked the right book to read about him by choosing "That Devil Forrest."

Well, I'm a little disappointed. Not because the book is bad, but more because it wasn't what I quite expected and mostly because I read it out of place (more later on this). The focus is 95% on the military side, which is not all bad. After all, that's what makes him the wizard of the saddle. But the problem is I found the account very dry at times. Much of it is rehashing Official Records and what others have said in their memoirs. I never got the feeling of being there, in the middle of the battle, with bullets zipping by my ear. The only way I can describe it is a very nuts and bolts reading of what troops went where and what troops did what, with a little bit of prose thrown in. Certain chapters are handled better than others, but from time to time I found myself drifting away from engagement to engagement because there wasn't much to make it unique.

Now, I realize not every one can write like Catton or Foote, but considering Wyeth did ride in Forrest's cavalry, I was hoping for a little more from that POV.

As far as the details of the engagements, they are extremely well done. Clearly you will walk away from this book understanding how many casualties he infliced, what companies and who their leaders were who rode on particular missions, etc. It is truly a micro history and if you are unfamiliar with the bigger battles that may have intiated NBF's specific participation (i.e. Shiloh, Murfressboro, etc.) you might get a little lost in the details.

I think I need to read more of a true biography first, and then follow up with "That Devil Forrest" to fill in the military details. That would make a very good one two punch.

So, in short, if you're fascinated by Forrest, but know little of him, I wouldn't start with this book. I think you'll get lost in the details. However, if you have a thorough understanding of the ACW and good back ground info on Forrest the man, I think you'll find this book a good compliment if you're after the details. Another high point is the footnotes and references are impecable. Although the author has a very clear biased opinion about his feelings toward Forrest, he does back up the numbers so to speak.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Civil War you're looking for...
I've read the dry memoirs of a few Civil war heroes. Grant, Sherman, Sheridan. They're fine. But if you want the real guts'n'drive factor of this war, this doctor's story of Forrest is what you're after. As another reviewer has mentioned, when you get into other major characters you actually find less good action, more weakness, time-wasting. Forrest has his flaws, but more along the lines of all of ours. Hold a grudge if you like, but give the story its due. This has it all, in spades.

The doc is a passionate storyteller but doesn't prejudice the tale. He's written to a fine line.

The other major biographer, Steele, is known as the fairest, but with him we get excessive DRYNESS. Who needs that. Moreover, Steele bends over backwards to discredit the hero Forrest, giving more than equal time to every potshot against him. This is called fairness. The shots never hit their mark even with Steele, yet he gives them their due and their due dilutes, taints and distracts the story. ---Even more so than Forrest's own flaws do! (Touche'.)

Wyeth is a clean historian yet lets the story's vigor come through just right. The adventures of Forrest will keep you riveted from start to finish. There's no other way to put it.

Forrest's covering of Hood's (?) final retreat was, in that day, declared to be the inevitable future subject of EPIC poems. We haven't seen any such thing, sadly. But that's the scale of this story. It would still be worth the effort, I think. A movie anyone?

Of course, every angle is worth savoring---including the old partisan "Critter Company" bio.

But enjoy the doc. --JP

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
Nathan Bedford Forrest was one interesting character. A self made millionaire, most definitely an entrepreneur by today's standards, he was a maverick in every facet of his life. Shelby Foote called him the only genius, other than Abraham Lincoln, that the Civil War produced: High praise indeed.

It is easy, with the benefit of hindsight, to paint him with the brush of evil and dismiss him. Slave trader, first Grand Dragon of the Klu Klux Klan, the Ft. Pillow massacre, these are not the calling cards of sainthood. But if we try to view life as he saw it, if we can empathize with him enough to where we can react to his environment, during his times and with his skill set, then maybe we can come close to understanding Mr. Foot's comment.

The Southern High Command did not develop senior generals well. They anointed 8 at the start of hostilities. Without exception, those that weren't killed or injured were still in charge of things at the end of the war. Forrest was one of the few who earned the right to fill the ranks of those who fell.

Independent, devoted to the cause and goal driven he pounds his way to the top. One of his key adversaries, William Tecumseh Sherman, gives him his finest accolade with the words 'that Devil Forrest'. He is a tenacious fighter and good at his job. Judge for yourself, but no one on either side fought under greater hardship, with fewer resources, while amassing a string of truly pivotal victories than he did. No Lost Cause apologia here, Forrest is the genuine article, a true Confederate war hero. You may not wind up liking him but you will wind up respecting him.

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding close look at Bedford Forrest
I have nearly every book written on Nathan Bedford Forrest. He was a complex man, a man that should stand out more amongst the 'peacocks'. Who, having had any knowledge about the War Between the States, does not know JEB Stuart? Forrest did not believe in plumbed hats, jackboots or riding around the Union army to prove a point to the Union troops and his Father-in-law. He believed war was fighting and fighting means killing, and his brilliant military tactics demonstrated this. I think by being raised on both sides of the pond, Forrest first fascinated me because I saw much the same 'force' in Forrest I admired in William Wallace. They were common men, men who were willing to give all in a cause they believed, men that were driven by fighting at 110% and never giving quarter. Many of Forrest's tactics of near guerrilla fighting came from Lighthorse Harry Lee's tactics against the British in the Revolutionary War (Robert E. Lee's daddy by the way!!), a character in himself and much in the vein of Mel Gibson's Patriot. The North despised Forrest - why?? Because he was SO EFFECTIVE. One wonders, what the outcome of the War Between the States would have been had Forrest commanded the Army of the Potomac instead of Lee. Grant and Sherman hated him - Grant giving him the label of 'that devil Forrest', while Sherman admired him - grudgingly - considering him "the most remarkable man our civil war produced on either side", and by Lee `the most extraordinary man the Civil War produced'. Historian Shelby Foote called him one of the two great geniuses of the period (Lincoln being the other). Sherman moaned in disgust that Forrest's men could travel 100 miles faster than his troops could 10. Forrest 'liberated' more guns, horses and supplies than any other single Confederate unit. He did not play at war. He rose from the rank of private to a Lieutenant General - the ONLY man to do that in the Confederate army, but he was just as a complex man before and after the war.

Perhaps, you will not come away liking Forrest, but you cannot doubt his sheer genius, his driven power and his ability to spur men to match his dedication and willingness to give all - just as Wallace did.

There are many books that give interesting views of Forrest, but I hold a special spot in my respect for this book, for unlike the others that were written with the distance of time and careful study, this was written by John Allan Wyeth - a surgeon who died in 1922. Wyeth served as a private in the Confederate army until his capture two weeks after Chickamauga. This was written by a man who lived through the war, not an arm chair historian. So his view is unique, more vivid than any other writer or biographer on Forrest. The text is base almost solely on accounts of military papers and records and the people who knew Forrest personally.

So if you have come searching for information on Nathan Bedford Forrest, you collection MUST have a copy of this work.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Review of "That Devil Forrest"
First published in 1899 as "The Life of General Nathan Bedford Forrest", this renamed and updated account is not only full of facts, but the presentation of them is made most readable.

Motivational interest in this subject for me lies in the fact that a Great grandfather was a member of the Kentucky Brigade under service with Gen. Forrest in several of his most famous battles, i.e.- Tishomingo Creek (Brice's Cross Roads). This book was the first I'd read concerning Gen. Forrest's life and career. Since then I've read and studied much concerning Gen. Forrest, even travelling to some of the battlegrounds associated with his military campaigns. I think that Allen Wyeth treated the subject of Gen. Forrest with the respect and dignity due such a great man, without white-washing the controverial portions of his nature and career. He brings Gen. Forrest to life with startling clarity in this original account, full of subject material gleaned from actual eyewitnesses and other people from all walks of life who were acquainted with him. Enough time had gone by when the book was first published to gain an even better perspective on the life & career of this most remarkable soldier and man.

Truly the very nature of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest is emboided in this book by highlighting his well known theory put into practice that: "The time to whip the enemy is when they are running." ... Read more

109. Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet
by Karen Armstrong
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
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Asin: 0062508865
Catlog: Book (1993-09-10)
Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco
Sales Rank: 8375
Average Customer Review: 3.59 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This vivid and detailed biography strips away centuries of distortion and myth and presents a balanced view of the man whose religion continues to dramatically affect the course of history.

... Read more

Reviews (59)

5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect for THIS Purpose
As a High School Teacher of Seniors enrolled in a History of the Middle East Course, this book is perfect for placing the life and messages of Muhammad in a real-life historical perspective including influencial 6th century political and economic forces. Students reported that Armstrong cleared up numerous misconceptions, questions, and outright historical inaccuracies. The casual reader may find some passages regarding the 6th century clan conflicts & intrique dry, but they can skim that and still reap the well supported points Armstrong brings forth - including the history of seclusion/veil, the 5 pillars of Islam, the significance of Jerusalem for Muslims, and centuries of conflict bewteen Christiandom the Muslim world. She explains the controversy surrounding the "Satanic Verses" as well as the evolution of the religious concepts pertaining to "al-Llah." In short she weaves the ancient to make sense of the modern.

2-0 out of 5 stars Accessible Bias
My title says it all, although 'prejudice' might be a better term....

Like Mrs. Armstrong, I am a voracious bookworm with regards to the three Momotheistic Abrahamic Faiths, and although I am a strong Christian, I thoroughly enjoy and find my faith enrichened and strengthened by reading about the 'other' monotheistic faiths. I agree with those who take the position that there are some deep seated misunderstandings regarding Islam in the West, and I agree with those who make all efforts to take (and live) a more Christ-like attitude toward those of other faiths (including those with whom we strongly disagree). I also am one who is not opposed to taking a deep hard look at my own self (and culture) and seeing the abundant ugliness therein...

That said, in light of the admitted predjudice and ignorance that exists in the west toward Muhammad and Islam, I think Mrs. Armstrong tried way too hard to swing the pendulum in the other direction to the point of coming off as so entirely biased as to render the book (and any of her books) unworthy of recommendation.

After reading her book (especially the new introduction and the first chapter: 'Muhammad the Enemy', I was amazed at the complete lack of objectivity to the point that it seemed to be deliberate... might I even venture so far as to say 'propaganda'...

I am afraid that the type of people who Mrs. Armstrong is trying to reach who read this book will be no less ignorant and prejudiced than before, except in the other direction...

Her anti-Christian, anti-western bias jump out of every paragraph. Her whitewashing of Muhammad (an admittedly versatile character; at times wise, kind and emulable, and at times cruel, treacherous and entirely inhumane) is also taken to a length that many Muslim apologists will not even go. The problem with Mrs. Armstrong is the problem with the western (and Eastern, read: Al-Jazeera) media at large. Claiming (and acting to be) objective while clearly being a fervent partisan. No, I am not a conspiracy theorist, but for the well-read and informed reader, this book has a stronger bias than most. One example might be the same old tired and mindless comparisons between some 'Christians' somewhere in the world who committed acts of violence with the daily bombardment of news stories that we all get of Islamic violence in (name that country), thus attempting to effectively nuetralize anyone who might dare make a moral judgement regarding such acts (carried out, might I add, in the name of Islam as opposed to in the name of say... Barry or Tom). Another example is the highly innaccurate claim that any verses in the Qur'an (or Haddith or genuine Sirat literture, or statements made by credible scholars and representatives of Islam) which we westerners read as promoting violence or bigotry or sexism, or you name it, are all misinterpreted based on our all-pervasive western ignorance. We are not that dumb Mrs. Armstrong. In presenting historical facts, she is consistantly biased to the point of distortion, but only in one direction. For example, in just the introduction, I was struck by the zinger (there are dozens in just the introduction) toward Christianity with reference to the distingishing mark on clothing that Muslims and Jews were forced to wear while under Christian rule in the Dark Ages of Europe. Shamefully, the claim is true. (Intolerant Westerners! - Poor persecuted Muslims.) But what Mrs. Armstrong fails to mention is that the practice of wearing a distinguishing mark on the clothing clearly originated hundreds of years earlier with Islam, prior to any such utilization by the intolerant and bigoted Western European Christians. In 807, the Abbassid caliph Haroun al- Rashid legislated that Jews were required to wear a tall, conical yellow cap and a yellow belt. In eleventh century Baghadad, Jewish women had to wear one black shoe and one red shoe as well as a small brass bell around their necks. (Clearly, a fashion 'no no' even in eleveth century Baghdad!) This practice was all part of the deliberate humiliation of the dhimminis (unbelievers) under Muslim rule. Men were forced to kneal in the town square as Muslims would whack them on the back of the head in a symbolic gesture of domination prior to collecting from the humiliated the 'Jizya' tax for all non-Muslims. Up until their departure in 1948 in Yemen all Jews were forced to dress like beggars in keeping with their lowly status as dhimminis.

In any case, I'm sure this book will continue to be used by Universities because of it's 'accessibility' but all I can say is, if you want a fully rounded perpective, read Ibn Warraq's (a former Muslim intellectual) book about Muhammad as well. Or Ali Dashti's Twenty three years. It wil take at least two books like this to help swing the pendulum to a more balanced position regarding Muhammad.

And regarding the transparent disdain for Christianity and the West, prejudice and bigotry are not excusable in any quarter. Readers looking for an objective read will not find one here.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good intentions, but ...
I am a history buff so I have attempted to read many of original texts that Karen Armstrong refers to once in a while but I have a feeling that she hasn't really read them directly but probably quotes passages from other western authors. It is also clear that she doesn't have some the basic knowledge of Islam and Arabic. It becomes obvious when she is referring to mahr(dowry) as mahl and so forth.

I nevertheless found the book to be sympathetic in trying to understand and explain about Muhammad in the context of history, religion and our modern secular approach to everything. But here again her sources seem to be mostly western, materialistic, secularists or missionary types. These types of scholars haven't always done a good job of keeping their biases in check.

The plus for this book is that it is not meant for the converted who would prefer Martin Lings. It is also not too polemical like Haykal and it is much easier to read than the original sources like Ibn Ishaq. So I would recommend it for someone who wants an easy introduction to Muhammad's life. The serious student of history should go read the original sources.

I appreciate Karen Armstrong for trying but some serious scholar needs to do a better job of presenting Muhammad to an English speaking Westrerner who is truly open to learning with an open mind.

3-0 out of 5 stars This book is better called ¿Western perception of Muhammad¿.
The book looks at the development of Western knowledge of the Prophet and how this relates to the image of Islam as a religion. It is predominantly based on secondary production of material written in English and therefore suffers from the inherent bias it has tried hard to correct.

This has led to some obvious errors, such as the number of daily Muslem prayers, which is five rather than three. Likewise the prophet was the final messenger from God delivering the final revelations to all mankind, rather than to the Arabs alone. Similarly, Pilgrimage is not an Arab ritual, but a requirement by God (Allaah) started by Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son Prophet Ismail (Ishmael) before the Arabs even existed. Prophet Muhammad was ordered to restore this act of worship back to being pure to Allaah (God) alone, after pagans filled the Kabaa with idols.

More seriously, the author tried to explain the Prophet actions as thoughtful and planned sequence, which fails to relate to him being a Prophet. Rather than a successful leader or social reformer, the Prophet was simply Allaah's (God's) final messenger who passed the final guidance to mankind, upholding and correcting previous messages. What is great about this Prophet is that he went through the hurdles he faced to fulfil his duty, which is passing the message completely and accurately.

The beauty of the message and the wisdom of the sequence are credit to Allaah (God) alone. There is no point therefore in implying that the Prophet wanted to imitate the Jews by instructing Muslems to pray. He had no intention of his own and the lessons learnt in various parts of his life are those from God (Allaah). Every thing he said or did was the direct order from God (Allaah), from fighting to making peace. Daily prayer is a requirement by God (Allaah) rather than an imitation of Jews.

This pattern, of implied intentions, is repeated throughout the book and is totally untrue.

The book is close to a university dissertation, which makes it a complicated reading for an average reader who may not know much about the Prophet.

1-0 out of 5 stars The Prophet is an opressor of women
According to Fatima Mernissi in Beyond the Veil, the Prophet robbed women of their freedom. Mernissi is a Moslem author who is very honest about the founder of the Islamic faith.

According to Mernissi, Mohamed was a polygamist who married a dozen women. He was also a pedophile. His wife Aisha was 9 years old. He permitted Moslem men to marry four women simultaneously, even though he admitted that it is impossible to be fair to more than one woman.

Also, according to the Koran, and to Moslem Scholars today, a man has the right to beat his wife under some circumstances. I heard it from the mouth of the head of the Department of Fiqh or Jurrisprudence on Al Jazzera.

Like Mernissi, I am a Moslem woman too. There is no doubt that Mohamed was a disaster of historical proportion, if only because his followers are so attached to him today. ... Read more

110. The Forgotten Soldier
by Guy Sajer
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
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Asin: 1574882864
Catlog: Book (2001-10-15)
Publisher: Brassey's Inc
Sales Rank: 12502
Average Customer Review: 4.71 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (87)

5-0 out of 5 stars A great account of an unbelievable story
I had read several other World War two books prior to reading The Forgotten Soldier, including The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Stalingrad, and The Fall of Berlin. This book was the first to be written in the first person perspective.

I found his experience to be absolutely amazing. From boot camp where he learns how tought the war is going to be till the final days, his story is magnificent. What a perfect depiction of how WWII actually was during the Russian front. He found himself involved in many of the major battles including Kharkov, and Kiev. There were many memorable moments where he really shocks the reader with what he had to go through, and how war really affects the human mind.

It really hit home to me during the book when he turned 17. At the time I read the book, I was 17 as well, and it hit me. I realized that this was very very real, and that me and my friends could have been in his situation.

Overall i would highly recommend this book who wants to understand what WWII was really like, and what can happen to the human mind in times like WWII.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Eastern Front...
This book serves as one of the most powerful accounts of the Eastern Offensive (from the eyes of a young german soldier) all the way to its eventual retreat. Guy Sajer writes in a very candid style, describing everything from the cold to the fear one feels in the midst of a firefight - a fear I hope that I will never know.

I have had a few relatives fight in the war and as a boy I always wondered why they could not tell me about it. But as I grew older, after reading important works such as this, I grew to understand.

To live in that time, it must have felt as though the world and its entire human society was dying. Guy Sajer illustrates the feelings of this madness and personifies the numbers and BW photos. He too, must of felt the world was ending.

To all those that are interested in this stirring and raw account of the war, please also check out a book by Charles Yale Harrison titled "Generals Die In Bed". This was from one Canadian's personal account during World War I. I must say I was sick with grief and horror after reading it. His story about loosing a bayonett inside a young German boy is horribly sad, to say the least.

5-0 out of 5 stars Poignant and Powerful.
This is simply one of the most memorable and important books that I've ever encountered. I first read it in 1994 and it remains as vivid in my mind today as it did on the day ten years ago that I finished it. I have heard questions regarding its historical accuracy but can only say that his account of the nature of war can be supported by other German memoirs of the Eastern Front such as "The Black March." Was the GrossDeutschland Division in all the places that he claimed? Perhaps not, but I will say that, as the Eastern Front disintegrated, it was far from unusual for scratch companies to be formed regardless of where the units derived. Either way, it's a magnificent read. His desription of the Hitler Jugend before the battle of Belgorod is absolutely priceless with their banners reading "The World Belongs to Us." In chapter four, his romance with the Berlin girl Paula happens to be one of the most engaging and believable relationships I've ever run across in print. I've read it aloud to high school students and they loved it. The book should appeal to anybody who has experienced passion.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Shocking Tribute to the Endurance of Men
How much pain can men endure? As Guy said, "which ever side a soldier was on, if they've gone through this kind of hell, they can respect and admire the men, on either side, who suffered this kind of war."

The insanity makes brothers of them all.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Rare Gem
The Forgotten Soldier is to World War II what All Quiet of the Western Front is to World War I. The story traces the war time biography of a French soldier from the Alsatian region who enlists in the German army and fights on the Russian front.

The story is a gritty view of warfare and the camaraderie of soldiers undergoing shared hardships. This is not a biographical view of major battles or a digression of a commanding officer on tactics. This is a face buried in the mud, frozen toes, deathly afraid, empty stomach, survival story set in the harshness of a war that was fought in a grim manner. The focus is on the personal and emotional aspect of the soldier's story.

For additional reading on the soldier's life in World War II try Beyond Valor by Patrick O'Donnell.
P-) ... Read more

111. Wyatt Earp : The Life Behind the Legend
by CaseyTefertiller
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0471283622
Catlog: Book (1999-02-25)
Publisher: Wiley
Sales Rank: 11409
Average Customer Review: 4.46 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (28)

5-0 out of 5 stars Earp Finally Meets Professional Historian
The best and most satisfying aspect of this book is that Tefertiller, unlike almost every other author to date, has no axe to grind. For once the Earp legend -- so long the arena of the rabid pro-Earp and anti-Earp factions -- is treated by a professional historian with care, caution and the deliberate intention of setting the record straight regarding the controversial life of Wyatt Earp. What emerges, however, is not dry, dense or academically lifeless. On the contrary, the settling of highly debated issues, the unraveling of mythology and the clarity Tefertiller brings to the true story of "The Fighting Earps" makes for a great and insightful read. The story of the American west has too long been the province of the well-intentioned but not necessarily historically skilled amateur. Tefertiller showcases how much more fascinating characters and situations can be when legitiamtely and carefully showcased. In all, a highly commendable and most satisfying read.

5-0 out of 5 stars a history book, not a novel
With this book, Casey Tefertiller has moved the field of Wyatt Earp history into a new era characterized by scrupulous research and rigorous handling of source material. For more than a score of years, a charismatic, iconic figure has enthralled Earp afficionados with tantalizing secret manuscripts and mysterious sources. The iconoclastic Mr. Terfertiller has eschewed the use of this phoney-baloney, novelistic history and has attempted to expunge all traces of it from his book. "Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend" is a meticulously documented book and by far the most important biography written on the life of Wyatt Earp to date.

Mr. Tefertiller provides a cursory overview of Earp's pre-Tombstone life in Chapter One (31 pages). Three supposed errors appear on the first page:

1. "the family... headed for California in 1863." The year "1863" is a typographical error as revealed by endnote [1] where Mr. Tefertiller correctly notes that the Earp party traveled in a train of forty wagons to San Bernardino in "1864."

2. "Two years later the Earps moved again, landing in Pella, Iowa, where Wyatt's younger brothers, Morgan and Warren, were born." This statement is correct, as written. Mr. Tefertiller only identifies the "male" members of the Nicholas Earp family by name (Newton, James, Virgil, Wyatt, Morgan and Warren). The four female members of the family (Mariah, Martha, Virginia, and Adelia) are not specifically identified. Three of the girls died young, and Adelia married early. Adelia never lived in Tombstone and played no important role in the saga of Wyatt Earp's adult life.

3. "The growing family remained settled [in Pella] until the Civil War broke out." Mr. Tefertiller covers ten years of the Nicholas Earp family life with this brief sentence. In fact, the family moved to Monmouth, Illinois and returned to Pella. In 1852, Nicholas Earp traveled to California and left his family behind in the care of relatives. Mr. Tefertiller's book contains 402 pages with small type and narrow margins and crams a vast amount of Earp material between it's covers. Obviously a more complete treatment of Wyatt's early life was sacrificed to provide a more detailed account of Wyatt's adult years; the years of which, most Earp afficionados have the greatest interest.

"Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend" presents a balanced account of the complex life of Wyatt Earp. This book is a must read for all students of Western history.

4-0 out of 5 stars Balanced, well documented
Tefertiller's biography of Wyatt Earp appears to me to be the best balanced and well documented book about the Old West legend. Timothy Fattig's upcoming version may outdo it but this one is the best yet published. It relies heavily on primary source documents such as newspaper accounts and court transcripts. Rather than simply rattle them off, though, Tefertiller develops the background information each step of the way through the text. In this way, he expertly examines the context of conflicting source documents, such as the competing and wildly polar opposite newspapers in Tombstone.

To empathize with the object of a biography is the natural inclination of writers and Tefertiller is no exception. While he does a good job of being as objective as possible most of the time, and reveals the real Wyatt Earp warts and all, he does toward the end seem a little too given to accept Earp's own public statements as unswervingly honest. With regard to the incident late in his life when he participated in a gambling swindle, to this reader at least, Earp's testimony seems obviously disingenuous.

That single criticism aside, if there is one book you read on the topic, let this be it. Not only does the reader derive a mostly objective appreciation for Wyatt Earp but a much clearer picture of the Old West culture in which he lived.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Real Wyatt... I knew him. Being the fifth man at the OK Corral fight (I was covering the street to keep any of the Cowboys from attacking us from behind), I knew Wyatt and Doc better than anyone. I lived just up the street fromWyatt, Virgil and Morgan, and they would often ask me to back them during any confrontaions they would have in Tombstone. Certainly this book comes the closest to the truth.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Read
This is one of the most interesting books I've ever read! The book is very well researched and is not written to do anything but present the facts as well as they can be unearthed through the records that exist. If you have an interest in history, particularly this era; I highly recommend this book. ... Read more

112. Francois Mitterand
by Ronald Tiersky
list price: $65.00
our price: $65.00
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Asin: 0312129084
Catlog: Book (2000-07-21)
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Sales Rank: 569519
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

François Mitterrand was a controversial politician with a contested strategy and a flawed character. In spite of being one of France's most detested political figures, he was also undoubtedly one of twentieth century Europe's most substantial, durable and statesmanlike leaders. From his much-disputed passages at Vichy during WWII through the major policies of his presidency, Mitterrand's career is a lens through which one can view the anxieties, fears, and instabilities, as well as achievements and successes of contemporary French political history. In this first major political biography since his death, Ronald Tiersky looks at the contradiction that was Mitterrand and the legacy he left to France and the world. This promises to be the standard book on this great world leader for years to come.
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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
This is a fascinating account of a fascinating life. Tiersky's own interactions with Mitterand over his decades-long career provide insight and color without exaggerating the author's importance or insider status. Tiersky examines all the key chapters of Mitterand's career: his Vichy past, his Resistance involvement, the Observatory Affair, Mitterand's triumph over the Far Left, his anti-Soviet geopolitical maneuverings, and his curious extramarital affairs. Mitterand's contradictions andh humanity make for great material, and Tiersky delivers a gripping read. This biography is nearly flawless with only minimal repetition near the end.

5-0 out of 5 stars Required reading on the "Machiavellian Republican"
Five years after his death, François Mitterrand has few defenders in France.The corruption scandals and personal revelations overshadowing his final years still tarnish his 14-year presidency.Amhearst College professor Ronald Tiersky has stepped into this void with an excellent biography that takes a fuller view of the paradoxical man known as "the Sphinx."His book François Mitterrand: The Last French President presents a fascinating account of the opportunistic twists and inspired turns of his long political career.Much of this manoeuvering was Machiavellian, but he had several long-term goals that were positive for France.Mitterrand's success in sidelining the Communist Party, reconciling the Left with market economics and promoting European integration -- all clearly explained in Tiersky's highly readable account -- were major achievements.

François Mitterrand: The Last French President is required reading for anyone wanting to understand Mitterrand and contemporary France.It is very usefully split into three sections dealing with Mitterrand's pre-1981 career, his record as president and (the longest section, and rightfully so) his complex "Machiavellian republican" personality and its legacy.The personal insights the author brings thanks to his many interviews with Mitterrand over the years contribute to the authority and depth of this lively book.That unique access can also be a weakness.Understanding him so well, Tiersky tends to excuse Mitterrand's duplicity more than a democratic leader deserves.But this is a small point compared to the book's overwhelming strengths.Even French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine admits, in his back-cover endorsement, that Tiersky's book has "some new insights, even for the French."

5-0 out of 5 stars The best on Mitterand in english
This is the best and most comprehensive biography of Mitterand written inenglish. Neither condenatory or adulatory, is a most for the study ofmodern political leadership. ... Read more

113. Red Azalea
by Anchee Min
list price: $7.99
our price: $7.19
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Asin: 0425147762
Catlog: Book (1995-06-01)
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Sales Rank: 25683
Average Customer Review: 4.32 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This New York Times Notable Book tells the true story of what it was like growing up in Mao's China, where the soul was secondary to the state, beauty was mistrusted, and love could be punishable by death. Newsweek calls Anchee Min's prose "as delicate and evocative as a traditional Chinese brush painting." ... Read more

Reviews (41)

4-0 out of 5 stars An oddly dreamlike memoir
Red Azalea is not difficult to read - it is a book easily consumed in one or two sittings. However, when it comes to the digestion of what's been read, that's a different story altogether. Red Azalea is the story of the author's childhood under China's Cultural Revolution, but tackled with seemingly simple language that manages to impart complicated undercurrents of meaning to the reader. Min has stated in interviews that she admires the painting style of Henri Matisse, and that her writing style is a reflection of that simplicity and naivete.

Red Azalea tells Min's story from elementary school where she is a good communist leader right off the bat, to her time spent at a farm where she has a relationship with her supervisor, to being chosen to star in a film version of one of Madame Mao's operas, Red Azalea. I found Min to be inaccessible, and the memoir difficult to ground in reality; however, this did not prevent me from enjoying the book and being vastly educated by it. The tone of the book was almost otherworldly, perhaps because of the lack of everyday details that would somehow anchor the events. I found myself often glancing back at the cover of the book, as if to remind myself that this was indeed nonfiction. Red Azalea is quite different from any book I've ever read: a memoir both complicated and simple, a plot both clear and elusive. Recommended for a challenge where you'd least expect one.

5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful personal history
Anchee Min's raw, abrupt writing style is a good vehicle for this compelling account of her life during China's misbegotten Cultural Revolution. From party loyalist to disillusioned communal farm serf to candidate for the starring role in an important propaganda film, her journey embodies the phrase "the personal is political." Surely few documented lives have been so victimized by politics as hers was. With all its rough edges, her spare, direct prose speaks through remembered pain to put experience into a larger perspective. Leaving the incredibly cramped quarters of her intellectualized family for the huge labor farm was an adventure that quickly soured, redeemed only by the dangerous passion she shared with an admired woman named Yan. The punishment meted out to a heterosexual couple found making love in the fields at night reflects the risks she and Yan were taking. Later, selected as the potential lead for a propaganda film, she competed fiercely with other young women equally desperate to escape the brutalities of farm life. Her story demonstrates how love does not depend on gender. One of the most remarkable sections of this memoir details the efforts she undertook to have a love affair with a party official referred to only as the Supervisor -- trying to connect in the midst of an anonymous crowd at a mountain Buddhist temple, and meeting him after dark in a notorious public park frequented by scores of others searching for love, or sex, in the midst of a regime that repressed sexual expression along with political freedoms. Indeed, in a society so fundamentally paranoid as she depicts, where citizens were conditioned to betray their neighbors over the pettiest infractions of party doctrine, it is a small miracle that she finally managed to leave China at all. Anchee Min is one of the lucky ones. The effects of the Cultural Revolution were felt long after it ended. As late as 1989, the democracy demonstrations in Tianamen Square were a direct, if delayed, reaction against it. Her book stands as a testament to the personal toll of a dictatorial government.

5-0 out of 5 stars A powerful, hypnotic read
A powerful, beautiful, achingly honest book. I was blown away when I first read this book. Beauty and pain co-exist side by side in this firsthand account of growing up under the Mao revolution. An extremely moving account of essentially what it's like to live under oppression. This book stayed in my memory for a long time.

4-0 out of 5 stars Mysteries seem just under the surface
Anchee Min's book is very subtle and I am impressed not only by what she reveals about China in the Maoist era, but also by what she hints at throughout the book. I wonder if other readers get the same sense that she holds back as much as she offers.

If the book is a memoir and not fiction, then the mysterious Supervisor must be a real person. I am intrigued by the parallels between the Supervisor, whose name she is never told, and Jiang Ching, whom she says she has never met. Did Anchee Min ever meet Madame Mao? Why does the Supervisor provoke the same feelings she has for Yan?

Anchee Min's lack of quotation marks and blending of dialogue in paragraphs made it tricky to keep straight who said what. I wonder if this was purposeful--to keep enough ambiguity in the writing to protect the identities. Certainly an American editor would have pointed out the conventions of print dialogue.

The ending of the memoir is also a puzzle, since it seems to end on such a despairing note for the rights of women in China. The gender equality that Red Azalea (the fictional heroine of the opera)seems to represent is finally and permanently suppressed with the imprisonment of Madame Mao.

Yet I wonder how the author rose above these social conditions and her own despair, during the years that followed the book, and escaped to the United States. Wouldn't she have needed help to get across the ocean?

Details of these crucial years, and whatever events may have led to her coming to the United States, are not included. Indeed, the letter from the friend from the U.S.A. seems to be a deus ex machina that doesn't quite explain the situation for me. Why don't we hear about this friend in the course of the narration?

There is more to the story than Anchee Min has revealed. I hope she will someday write about her voyage to America.

5-0 out of 5 stars A better understanding of life under Mao.
I bought this book after I had read Memoirs of a Geisha. I was looking to find another book that was just as good. While this book was not anything like MofG it was still a great read.

Anchee Min is an awesome write. At times I couldn't believe she was willing to let the reader know some things that many authors may have kept private.

Min gives great detail of what growing up under the leadership of Mao was like for a small child-then teen. It's hard to belive that life in the 60's could be so different in China that it was in the U.S. The part of the book that will keep its readers attention is when she goes to live and work as slave labor (even though she believes that she is being guided to a better life by Mao) at the Red Fire Farm.

I agree with another reviewer when they say this book is heartbreaking and erotic. Although this book is normally found in the fiction section of the book store, I think it is helpful in teaching the readers about what China and Mao were actually like.

Min is an author that should be noticed for her work as well as her survival. I hope that she will continue writing for many years to come. ... Read more

114. Good-Bye to All That : An Autobiography (Anchor Books)
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
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Asin: 0385093306
Catlog: Book (1958-02-01)
Publisher: Anchor
Sales Rank: 14520
Average Customer Review: 4.55 out of 5 stars
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The quintessential memoir of the generation of Englishmen who suffered in World War I is among the bitterest autobiographies ever written. Robert Graves's stripped-to-the-bone prose seethes with contempt for his class, his country, his military superiors, and the civilians who mindlessly cheered the carnage from the safety of home. His portrait of the stupidity and petty cruelties endemic in England's elite schools is almost as scathing as his depiction of trench warfare. Nothing could equal Graves's bone-chilling litany of meaningless death, horrific encounters with gruesomely decaying corpses, and even more appalling confrontations with the callousness and arrogance of the military command. Yet this scarifying book is consistently enthralling. Graves is a superb storyteller, and there's clearly something liberating about burning all your bridges at 34 (his age when Good-Bye to All That was first published in 1929). He conveys that feeling of exhilaration to his readers in a pell-mell rush of words that remains supremely lucid. Better known as a poet, historical novelist, and critic, Graves in this one work seems more like an English Hemingway, paring his prose to the minimum and eschewing all editorializing because it would bring him down to the level of the phrase- and war-mongers he despises. --Wendy Smith ... Read more

Reviews (29)

4-0 out of 5 stars Graves in retrospect......

This is Robert Graves' tell all autobiography, or at least the "revised second edition" which doesn't quite tell all. At the time of writing Graves was only 33 yet already had about 30 publications to his name, mostly poetry collections & essays. He had rubbed shoulders with such writers as Edward Marsh, Robert Frost, Siegfried Sasson, T.E. Lawrence, Ezra Pound & Edith Sitwell. Graves had served as a Royal Welsh Fusiler for almost the entire duration of WW1 & been severely wounded, even pronounced dead, before being demobilized. After the war Graves went on to receive his B Litt. degree from Oxford & eventually found a position as the Professor of English Literature at the Royal Egyptian University in Cairo. All this & numerous other stories, events & anecdote are given here in full detail.

Goodbye To All That is most famous for it's graphic & realistic depiction of life in the trenches of WW1. Graves goes into all the details of his military experience. We aren't spared a single battle or a single death. He captures the horror & awe of the war with a roughness that made the book one of the most popular written accounts of WW1. We are presented with scenes of atrocities, suicides, murders & heroic rescues one after another until we can almost feel the emotional change that Graves himself felt as he went from innocent schoolboy to professional soldier. The physical & emotional damage caused by this change are themes that Graves would return to again & again for the remainder of his life.

Oddly enough the man who is most famous as a romantic poet talks very little of his poetry in his autobiography. Despite having several volumes of poetry published by this time, Graves turns away from this & spends more time dealing with the war & problems both on the front & at home in England. Poetry, romance & even love seemed to play a very little part in Graves' life during these years. He mentions his 1st wife Nancy only near the end of the book & offers us only a one dimensional image of her as the devout feminist whom he loved but whom he probably shouldn't have married. Laura Riding doesn't appear in the book at all despite the fact that Graves had known her for 3 years by the time he wrote Goodbye. Other writers or poets who do turn up tend to be there only fleetingly to provide a particular anecdote or to justify Graves' opinion of them. Graves seldom goes into any great depth about their works or their personalities.

Overall, Goodbye To All That is a odd book that sits on the fence between a typical war book & a biography of a literary man. It can't be placed neatly into either category & this is what makes it such interesting reading for the fans of either type. Graves stands out as one of the few literary men who could display his intelligence & education even while dishing out the most brutal scenes of warfare.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brutally honest war memoir
Robert Graves, poet and author of "I, Claudius", was also an infantry officer in the Great War. Here he has written a war memoir which ranks in the same league as Orwell's "Homage to Catalonia".

Honest and open to a fault, he chronicles his upbringing in the English public schools system and his dislike of hypocrisy. This antagonism he will carry with him throughout his period in the trenches.

Graves' vivid portrayal of life in the trenches is second to none. He recounts the endless routine of trench life with its boredom and the terror of attack and German shelling. Held up to special scorn is the sheer stupidity of the higher command and its insistence on wasting the lives of officers and men.

Graves successful attempt at convincing a military board to go easy on his friend and writer Siegfried Sassoon is an amazing segment in itself (Sassoon wrote a pacifist tract while at the same time leading his infantry company with- by all accounts- great courage).

His description of the effects of life in the trenches is well written. Neurosthania (shell-shock) was the 19th century term before post-traumatic disorder was coined. The portrayal of it is vivid, not in a clinical way, but in the way Graves writes about himself and his comrades as they adjust to civilian life.

Everything before Graves life seems a prologue to the war, and everything after an epilogue. What an great and important book this is.

5-0 out of 5 stars Masterful and Ironic Caricatures of Human Folly
"Good-Bye to All That" is one of the most imminently readable autobiographies I have yet come across. Generally, I do not particularly care for the autobiographical genre of writing, nor, based on my public school and university history textbooks, would I have professed much interest in history. Graves' book, however, changes "all that." Two aspects of the book have endeared it to me:

First, Graves' writing style is replete with droll, dry wit. His use of irony to paint word pictures in his readers' minds is masterful. His use of language is inspiring to every occasional writer who longs for such skill. His ability to see through the façades of academic reputation in both public school and university, of nationalistic patriotism, of formally organized religion, and of military tradition overcomes popular perception to show the ignorant, delusional, self-serving nature of such things. Never are his unveilings heavy-handed, though. On the contrary, Graves depicts events and presents examples in descriptions that he refers to as "caricatures," but it would be a dull reader indeed who fails to perceive the ironies implicit in these entertaining recitations.

Second, Graves' autobiography is revealing of many historical topics that escape adequate coverage in most textbooks. The reader comes away with a much improved understanding of early 20th century British society, education, and culture. Because most of the book deals with Graves' experiences in the trench warfare of World War I, the reader comes to visualize the barbarity and insanity of war more acutely than he may have hitherto done. Then there are tidbits that generally escape the formal history textbooks altogether-the antipathy between British troops and French citizenry that led some Britons to the conclusion that their country had aligned itself with the wrong side in the war; the imprisonment of British residents of German ancestry resulting from war paranoia (foreshadowing America's treatment of its citizens of Japanese ancestry during the next world war); British soldiers' opinion of American "support" as American artillery shells showed themselves frequently to be duds or, worse, to fall short and explode in the British trenches rather than the German. Graves presents us history as he saw it first hand, and we are spell bound by his power as a storyteller.

The book also has, from my perspective, two significant weaknesses. First, my command of American English did not always stand me in good stead when confronted by some words and phrases of peculiarly colloquial British usage. This edition of the book does include a short "Glossary for non-British readers," but it needs to be about twice as long for some of us. The second weakness, more of a disappointment, really, is that the narrative stops when Graves is only thirty-three. Even though Graves later appended a brief epilogue, the reader wishes that he had continued his story for many more years, for we come to feel a friendship for this man and are enjoying sitting at his knee, listening to him recount his insightful, entertaining, and thought-provoking observations on life-and we do not want the story to end.

"Good-Bye to All That" is well worth the reading to any number of people-aspiring writers (note Graves' style), lovers of poetry (understand the life behind the poetry), and students of history (learn from it or repeat it eternally). In fact, I cannot conceive of any literate person who would not find Graves' autobiographical tale both enjoyable and instructive.

4-0 out of 5 stars A classic war memoir that doesn't begin soon enough
When I first came to Good-Bye To All That I was expecting a memoir of WWI. I was surprised to find that the book is actually a complete autobiography--a complete history of an author's life up to that point. Because of this, slogging through the first hundred pages or so, which illustrate Graves' education at an English Boarding School, felt like trudging through waist-deep snow.

OK, perhaps I'm overstating things a little, but, needless to say, I was disappointed in the opening chapters of the book. Whatever merit might be present in them couldn't overcome my impatience to get on to the war story.

But once it got to the war years the book took off. Graves left Oxford before attending his first lecture to become an officer in the Royal Welch Fusilliers. Graves saw a lot of action in the trenches and was wounded several times, once so severely his family were notified prematurely of his death. During these years he also became a famous poet, taking the war as his primary subject matter, and beginning a career that would with him being one of the foremost writers of his generation.

In the first edition of the book, Graves explains that the book had to be written very rapidly in order to meet the publisher's deadline. What results from this is a direct and unadorned prose style. Combine this with Graves' amazing memory for vivid detail and the macabre horrors of trench warfare and you get a book that's often very morbid but very evocative.

While the book is at its best when it is describing warfare, the 'third act' of Graves' life--the post-war years when he worked as a poet and academic, and struggled through his first marriage--is very interesting as well. These episodes include some well-known characters, including visits with Thomas Hardy, T.E. Laurence, and a letter from G. B. S. What's best about the post-war section is its portrayal of Graves' shattered mindset, which leads ultimately to the disintegration of his first marriage and the need to finally say good-bye to you and to you and to you and to all that.

Ultimately, it's the war memories that stick in the mind. Flash forward ten years, and Graves' chilling images will still be lingering around in my mind. All in all, it's a great book that deserves its sterling reputation and you will not regret reading it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Moving report on the end of an era
I spotted this remarkable book on ... Top 100 Non-Fiction Books of the Century list. In "Good-bye to All That, " the British poet Robert Graves (1895-1985), best known to American readers as the author of the novel of ancient Rome, "I Claudius," writes the autobiography of his youth, justifiably famous for its eloquent but straight-forward depiction of the horrors of WWI, during which Graves spent years in the trenches of France as an army captain.

More than the war, however, Graves' topic is the passing of an era: the class-ridden and naïve culture of the Edwardian upper classes, a culture did not survive the war. Graves came from a landed family and received a classic boarding-school education. Even in the trenches officers like Graves had personal servants and took offense when they had to dine with officers of 'the wrong sort' (promoted from the lower classes).

Graves' narrative itself barely survives the end of the war; the post-war chapters seem listless and shell-shocked, emotionally detached. The battles he survived are written about with precision, gravity, and emotional impact; but Graves' marriage and the birth of his children seem like newspaper reports. Surprisingly, he doesn't even talk of his poetry much. This, surely, is not a defect of the book but a genuine reflection of his feelings at the time: After the War, nothing meant much to him.

Graves' literary style is very matter-of-fact--the opposite of the imagistic, adjective-driven language one might expect of a poet. Instead, he had a gift for the right details: in only a sentence or two, by careful description, he can perfectly describe a fellow-soldier or give the exact sense of 'being there' in battle. The book is a remarkable achievement worth reading even for those who may be glad the old days were left behind. ... Read more

115. Indian Creek Chronicles : A Winter Alone in the Wilderness
by Pete Fromm
list price: $12.95
our price: $12.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312114141
Catlog: Book (1994-08-15)
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Sales Rank: 25775
Average Customer Review: 4.44 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (18)

4-0 out of 5 stars "I danced around naked in the sun."
"I hiked and hiked and the days grew longer but I wished for days longer still," Pete Fromm writes in this adventure memoir; "it seemed there wasn't nearly enough time to see everything I needed to see" (p. 173). After completing his degree in wildlife biology, Fromm attended night classes in Missoula's Creative Writing Program. In those classes, Fromm first began chronicling his seven-month winter adventure, guarding two and a half million salmon eggs in Idaho's Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, while living all by his lonesome in a canvas tent with his dog, Boone. He eventually expanded those writing assignments into his award-winning INDIAN CREEK CHRONICLES, which begs comparison to John Krakauer's INTO THE WILD (1996). Both books follow the journeys of inexperienced young men into the realities of harsh winter wilderness. However, unlike Krakauer's protagonist, Fromm survived to tell his coming-of-age story, which involves face-to-face encounters with mountain lions and bobcats, learning to operate a chainsaw and trap wild animals (his raccoon story gave me nightmares), surviving food poisoning, and then readjusting to the "movement everywhere" of modern life. Easy to read and full of wilderness adventures, Fromm's book will appeal to the Thoreau in each of us.

G. Merritt

4-0 out of 5 stars Wilderness adventure in a first-person perspective
I found this book a nice easy read in general. My main reason for picking it up is because this true story takes place within minutes of my residence. It was interesting to read about another person's adventures in the same wilderness that I hike, hunt, camp, and explore in on a regular basis. It is honest in that the author is not constantly glorifying himself or trying to prove that he was an expert mountain man. He also shows the reader the harsh, unforgiving environment that this area can become during the long winter months, and the dangers of not being prepared. Since it is a true story told in first-person perspective, it is more of a journal or autobiography than escape literature.

5-0 out of 5 stars Indian Creek Chronicals Review
The book Indian Creek is a great book. The action never stops. There is always an action. In one part of the book this guy even beats a bobcat to death. The book is great. It is a very factional book. It is truthfull about what really happens in the wilderness.

5-0 out of 5 stars Page-turner about a young man's winter wilderness adventures
A chance conversation with a college friend sends the author venturing into the Bitterroot Wilderness along the Montana-Idaho border, where he spends a winter tending to salmon eggs for the Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game. This responsibility takes only minutes out of each day; the rest of the time is his own, and what this gregarious, impulsive, party-loving 20-year-old does with seven months of isolation in the wilderness is the central theme of this book.

Fromm makes clear from the outset that he's almost utterly unprepared for this experience, with little guiding him but a fascination for the rugged, self-sufficient mountain men whose adventures he has read about. Packing a couple books on outdoor survival, he plans to figure it out as he goes, and given a need to keep himself busy and his mind off the isolation, he acquires a range of on-the-job skills, from operating a chain saw, to camp cooking, skinning animals, and curing meat. He also hunts for game, subsisting on grouse and squirrel until he amazingly (and illegally) bags a moose with a muzzle-loader.

In fact, Fromm is not entirely alone -- he has a dog as a constant companion -- and there is a trickle of visitors throughout the winter. Besides the occasional visit by the wardens, who bring mail and packages, there are hunters and their guides who trek in on snowmobiles (snowmachines, as he learns to call them). Welcoming the company -- and curious -- he goes along on hunts, witnessing the shooting of a mountain lion.

There are some disappointments. His father and brother travel from Milwaukee and attempt to ski in but are turned back by cold and bad trail conditions. A planned "vacation" with friends in Missoula has to be cancelled when snowslides make access difficult. He consoles himself after killing and skinning an injured bobcat that he wouldn't have had this experience if he hadn't been on his own.

The book invites comparison with C. L. Rawlins' "Broken Country," in which the author recalls a college-boy summer as a cook and horse wrangler for a sheepherder in the mountains of western Wyoming. A reader will also be reminded at times of Edward Abbey's youthful "Desert Solitaire."All exhibit a willingness to abandon themselves to adventure without considerable forethought, but there's a relative lack of reflectiveness on the part of Fromm, who is able to report straightforwardly what he observes but tends to avoid making connections to the ideas of other people or to think deeply or critcally about his experience. This makes the book more of a page-turner; you rarely put it down to let something he's written soak in.

In the end, you forgive him his youth, give him credit for surviving (there are some close calls that may have turned his story into another "Into the Wild"), and appreciate the clean, clear style and the ability to create and maintain suspense (for example when his father and brother fail to arrive). I'm happy to recommend it to anyone with an interest in Western nonfiction, wilderness adventures and the psychological aspects of isolation.

5-0 out of 5 stars Winter in the Wilderness: Life as it was Meant to be Lived!
Indian Creek Chronicles is an authentic look at personal growth, transformation and adaptation. And, it occurs in one of the most beautiful isolated wilderness areas in North America: The Idaho-Montana Selway River region near Nez Perce Pass. It occurs in winter too, which, considering the extreme cold and heavy snow creates some unique challenges and "opportunities."

Author Pete Fromm is a willing adventurer, at least in the beginning. But uninitiated and psychologically unprepared his journey from city boy/college kid to mountain man is fraught with challenges and misgivings.

Without giving too much away, the circumstance of the book is this: Fromm is a college student who takes a winter-long job guarding salmon eggs in Indian Creek, a tributary to the Selway.

His job is to make sure that the outlet of a small channel in the stream doesn't freeze and prevent water from flowing over some 2.5 million salmon eggs incubating in the gravel. So once a day, every day, Fromm must check the outlet and chop away any ice that has formed. He lives in a canvas tent with only a Husky/Shepherd puppy for compansionship.

I do realize that one of Fromm's chapters won a Sierra Club writing award, and that would be enough to discourage anyone from holding it in very high regard. The Sierra Club, after all, is one of the most self-righteous, pedantic, arrogant, condescending, narrow-minded and elitist organizations ever conceived.

That fact notwithstanding, "Chronicles" is one of the best books I've ever read. If you are an outdoorsman (or outdoorswoman), if you like camping or hiking, or just love the wildnerness, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a more fun or interesting book. Be forewarned though: this book deals with reality, with the forces of nature, the ancient and eternal relationship between prey and predator and man and his environment. Not that it's gruesome or sensationalistic. It isn't. In fact, in my opinion it's perfect "family" reading. But if you get squeamish thinking about where that leather belt around your waist or those shoes on your feet came from, or how pork chops or hamburgers are made, you might get a little squeamish once or twice reading this book.

On another level, "Chronicles" is a thoughtful and reflective treatise on expectation, disappointment, fulfillment and growth; and most importantly, the relativistic nature of human values. Quite an excellent book actually and easy to read. Strongly recommended. ... Read more

116. Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language
by Eva Hoffman
list price: $13.95
our price: $11.16
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Asin: 0140127739
Catlog: Book (1990-02-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 29705
Average Customer Review: 4.46 out of 5 stars
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The condition of exile is an exaggeration of the process of change and loss that many people experience as they grow and mature, leaving behind the innocence of childhood. Eva Hoffman spent her early years in Cracow, among family friends who, like her parents, had escaped the Holocaust and were skeptical of the newly imposed Communist state. Hoffman's parents managed to immigrate to Canada in the 1950s, where Eva was old enough to feel like a stranger--bland food, a quieter life, and schoolmates who hardly knew where Poland was. Still, there were neighbors who knew something of Old World ways, and a piano teacher who was classically Middle European in his neurotic enthusiasm for music. Her true exile came in college in Texas, where she found herself among people who were frightened by and hostile to her foreignness. Later, at Harvard, Hoffman found herself initially alienated by her burgeoning intellectualism; her parents found it difficult to comprehend. Her sense of perpetual otherness was extended by encounters with childhood friends who had escaped Cracow to grow up in Israel, rather than Canada or the United States, and were preoccupied with soldiers, not scholars. Lost in Translation is a moving memoir that takes the specific experience of the exile and humanizes it to such a degree that it becomes relevant to the lives of a wider group of readers. ... Read more

Reviews (13)

4-0 out of 5 stars Escape from Poland did not always equal paradise
In 1959, when she was 13yo, Eva Hoffman fled Poland with her family to British Columbia to escape the rigors of the communist regime. It did not prove to be the tremendous relief she expected, and the book begins with a section titled Paradise, in which the author reminisces about her life back in the Old Country.
The immigrant experience, a new language, new culture, new food - everything was traumatic for her. It became so bad that she felt her brain stopped working for a time.
The most fascinating parts of this book are those that take the reader back into Poland for a behind the scenes glimpse of the 'good life' lived by the middle class. Altho the whole family, plus a live-in maid, lived in just 3 rooms, they lived well, attending the theater and opera regularly. All this, of course, ended when Poland's gov't began persecuting Jews in the late 50s.
Fortunately for her and for us, Hoffman recovered from her period of despair and depression and went on to become editor of the New York Times Book Review.

5-0 out of 5 stars Moving and emotional
This book is a must. It explores the difficulties of learning to express oneself in a new language. Although I have never experienced this myself, it does make you consider the link between language and experience and how sometimes there are no words available to say what you really feel. Hoffman draws you in to her narrative with ease, despite the difficulties she expresses. It is a moving insight into her life as an immigrant and her fellings of alienation.

5-0 out of 5 stars Greater as literature than as life
It is impossible to not recognize in the sensibility of the writer of this work a great power of perception and intelligence. The story of the transition from world to world, from the Poland of her childhood to the Canada of the latter part of her youth, and young adulthood is too told as the story of a family ' lost in translation'. On the purely human individual level there is an exceptional story told here by an exceptional story - teller. There are too a number of remarkably moving scenes , I think especially of her re-meeting the love of her Polish childhood, and the kind of understanding they have for each other though they now live cultures away.
I nonetheless found a certain absence in the work, an absence in the making as end of the story real human connection beyond that given in childhood and early years. Every writer as Henry James has his ' donnee' the subject and material which he is given, and is not to be criticized for having. Eva Hoffman's is this lostness in translation, this perpetual not- at- homeness, but it nonetheless makes of her story at least to my mind , one which however successful on the purely literary level presents a life lacking in the higher significance of giving to and being with others.

2-0 out of 5 stars Unsympathetic
I didn't care for this book all that much. First, her adolescent experience as an immigrant to Canada seems heavily covered over by later-acquired learning in the philosphy of structuralism, semiotics, etc, all very fashionable nowdays. The book has more the feel of a post-mortem analysis than a personal memoir, and in trying to be both it fails on both levels.

Second, I didn't find her a sympathetic character, because she herself seemed to have so little sympathy for others: Canadians were boring, dull, undemonstrative; North-American teenage life superficial; the local Jewish community obsessed with status and the notion of 'better' or 'worse' people. etc. I got the feeling of her portraying herself as a true and sensitive (European!) heart among the barbarians and the uncomprehending. Sorry, doesn't wash.

4-0 out of 5 stars Insight into 2nd Language Acquisition
Eva Hoffman's autobiography provides valuable insight into the process of second-language acquisition. Over the span of her life, she indirectly reveals numerous factors that led to her acquisition of English. These influencing factors are both internal and external, both successful and unsuccessful. Particular internal factors that I feel were most influential in her success were her motivation and high level of intelligence. Externally, the most significant factor was that she had the opportunity to acquire the language in its natural environment rather than solely in the classroom. It is these elements, along with various others, that ultimately lead Eva to a native-like fluency.

Personal attributes such as intelligence and motivation may not be the most significant factor in the acquisition of another language; but with some individuals it may contribute to how quickly a language is acquired and possibly the depth of acquisition (especially with the lexicon). In Eva's case, extensive reading in her adolescent years undoubtedly contributed to her heightened intellectual capacity in later years. Her early studies also seem reflect a passion for knowledge and experience that she feeds with the books from her bi-monthly visits to the library, "...I sniff the aged smell; I read a few words; some of them have illustrations at which I look greedily; then I have to choose from the riches of Araby." (27) The combination of intelligence with a strong passion for learning clearly plays a role in Eva's success at acquiring English.

It is this strong will to learn that she brings with her to the New World and which is instrumental in the absorption of new vocabulary. She continues the practice of frequenting the library where she tells us, "Every day I learn new words, new expressions. I pick them up from school exercises, from conversations, from the books I take out of Vancouver's well-lit library." (106) It seems pretty clear that lexical acquisition is contingent upon the amount of time one puts into the process. Motivation is likely the most significant factor that contributes to the amount of time one spends trying to learn new words. For Eva, her passion for obtaining new words played a vital role in acquiring her impressive vocabulary.

Various factors appear to contribute to her motivation; but particularly it is her search for self-identity as well as pressure from her peers that seem to motivate her most. Part of her problem with self-identity may be related to her age and part may be related to the circumstances of her new environment. She states, "Because I'm not heard, I feel I'm not seen. My words often seem to baffle others." (147) Understandably, isolation from her peers is frustrating enough for her to strive to be 'seen' which she initiates through writing, "I learn English through writing, and, in turn, writing gives me a written self." (121)

The pressure involved in 'fitting in' is difficult enough for native teenagers; being a foreigner would only increase that difficulty. She struggles to get rid of her accent because her peers accuse her of faking it in order to appear more interesting. When she tries to tell a joke to her friends, her lack of success reminds her that she is still an outsider. Even her close friends remind her of this, "'Oh God,' Penny says, 'Sometimes I think you're hopeless.'" (148)

In regard to external influences, it is the environment in which language acquisition takes place that is likely the most influential factor in successfully acquiring the target language. The shift from classroom study in Poland to total immersion in Vancouver provides a basis for Eva to thoroughly explore English. I've met people in various cities throughout Poland who have studied English for years, some for nearly a decade. The common denominator these people all share is that they hardly speak any English (what they do speak is broken and difficult to understand.) I can empathize with this situation. I studied Polish for 3 years before moving to Krakow and I feel I learned more in five months of study there than I did in the previous three years.

Every day social activity is difficult when you are forced to rely upon an inadequate form of communication. It is easy to sympathize with the frustration she feels in daily conversation, "Much of the time, it takes an enormous effort on my part to follow her fast chatter and to keep saying yes and no in the right places, to attempt to respond." (113) Difficulties in vocal participation can restrict social interaction and consequentially lead to isolation and loneliness. Eva seems to conquer this dilemma through persistence and the passing of time.

In addition to social isolation, linguistic prejudices also seem to play a role in developing and sustaining her persistence in achieving fluency. Some of these perceived prejudices are probably nothing more than baggage from her homeland, "The class-linked notion that I transfer wholesale from Poland is that belonging to a 'better' class of people is absolutely dependent on speaking a 'better' language." (123) Speech still acts as a class signifier today, but probably not to the same degree as one would find in Poland.

Along with the social difficulties that accompany immigration, Eva has to deal with some of the cultural presuppositions that effect pragmatic success in learning a new language. She points to the example of saying, "thank you", implying something to be thanked for, which in Poland would come across as rude. Likewise, in addition to mere grammatical competence, Eva must learn how to apply the language that she is learning. She draws a helpful analogy by equating language acquisition to music. Simply learning the keys and sounds of an instrument is not enough to produce a song; likewise, learning the syntax and lexicon is not enough to produce a sufficient knowledge of language. One must acquire a pragmatic competence that includes absorption of new presuppositions. This is most likely to occur from living in the environment. ... Read more

117. The Surgeon and the Shepherd: Two Resistance Heroes in Vichy France
by Meg Ostrum
list price: $27.95
our price: $27.95
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Asin: 0803235739
Catlog: Book (2004-03-01)
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
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118. The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America
by Louis Menand
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
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Asin: 0374528497
Catlog: Book (2002-04-10)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Sales Rank: 8032
Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for History

A riveting, original book about the creation of modern American thought.

The Metaphysical Club was an informal group that met in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1872, to talk about ideas. Its members included Oliver Well Holmes, Jr., future associate justice of the United States Supreme Court; William James, the father of modern American psychology; and Charles Sanders Peirce, logician, scientist, and the founder of semiotics. The Club was probably in existence for about nine months. No records were kept. The one thing we know that came out of it was an idea -- an idea about ideas. This book is the story of that idea.

Holmes, James, and Peirce all believed that ideas are not things "out there" waiting to be discovered but are tools people invent -- like knives and forks and microchips -- to make their way in the world. They thought that ideas are produced not by individuals, but by groups of individuals -- that ideas are social. They do not develop according to some inner logic of their own but are entirely depent -- like germs -- on their human carriers and environment. And they thought that the survival of any idea deps not on its immutability but on its adaptability.

The Metaphysical Club is written in the spirit of this idea about ideas. It is not a history of philosophy but an absorbing narrative about personalities and social history, a story about America. It begins with the Civil War and s in 1919 with Justice Holmes's dissenting opinion in the case of U.S. v. Abrams-the basis for the constitutional law of free speech. The first four sections of the book focus on Holmes, James, Peirce, and their intellectual heir, John Dewey. The last section discusses some of the fundamental twentieth-century ideas they are associated with. This is a book about a way of thinking that changed American life."
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Reviews (60)

5-0 out of 5 stars ALL AROUND BOOK OF THE YEAR
We Americans love a good crisis, and enjoy reading about the effects of chaos and mayhem, particularly if it involves lead projectile weapons. Not to be left out, I found the most stimulating, non-fiction read of 2002 was Louis Menand's The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas In America. To be sure, there is alot more here than mere gunpowder and ravaged hillsides littered with bodies. His skill in weaving the stories of well-known personages together with many obscure figures of nineteenth, and early twentieth-century philosophy, science, education and law is immensely gratifying. In order to digest some weighty chapters, breaks for lighter snacking were necessary, still, Menand never failed to lure me back for more. I like the way this work provides a basis of understanding other lives lived around the turn of the century, who were outside the scope of his study. The author does not explicitly make these connections for the reader, but his approach naturally opens one's mind to wider implications. Menand's thorough examination of Dewey, James, Pragmatism, genetics, race, and labor issues of the time, in the light of preliminary chapters on how the Civil War changed America, all conspire to raise consciousness. If a proper introduction to events which transpired in 20th century American culture is of any importance to you, Menand is the writer to consult. The Metaphysical Club is my personal choice for book of the year in 2002.

5-0 out of 5 stars How Americans think
Louis Menand's The Metaphysical Club is a lucidly written account of the lives and ideas of four of America's seminal intellectuals--William James, John Dewey, Charles Sanders Pierce, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. To many of us, these are names only, but Menand brings each one to life with a rare ability to tie biography to thought.

All four were members of a small, short-lived club at Harvard in the 1870s, and all shared ideas about the peculiarity of America's intellectual tradition in light of current European philosophy. Menand shows that each in his own way contributed to the formation of a unique way of thinking later to be called "pragmitism." This quasi-philosophy seemed to addresss the American situation (the frontier, the bi-racial society, action oriented individualism, etc.) more directly than borrowed European schemas (Hegel, Locke and Laplace are discussed, among others). For those with a desire to see philosophical ideas in a fresh, vibrant light, this book is a "must-read." That a scholarly work should rank so highly among the intelligent public is a tribute to its brilliant author.

5-0 out of 5 stars An enthralling, entertaining, enlightening story of ideas in
Louis Menand's exhaustively researched The Metaphysical Club describes the life and times of a handful of prominent American intellectuals from the Civil War era to the World War era, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and philosopher William James. Menand is ultimately successful in his primary aim, which is to show how abstract philosophical ideas can have a major impact on the quality of life experienced by everyday people.

Menand's narrative path encompasses many side journeys, sometimes not appearing to advance towards the end goal, and it is not until the last seventh of the book that we get treated to an overall description of the philosophy of pragmatism. The doings of the Cambridge Metaphysical Club are briefly summarized almost halfway through the book, and the reader at that point learns that the club itself is not (although it is the title of the book) what made the major impact on society; rather, it is what some of the club's members did over the course of many subsequent decades that changed American society.

The great pleasure in reading The Metaphysical Club comes from following Menand on these many side journeys, thereby learning about a cornucopia of subjects, from the politics of slavery, abolition and the Civil War, to what pre-Civil War proper Boston Brahmin society was like, to the impact that Darwin's ideas on evolution had, to the Dartmouth College case and the founding of the modern private American university, to the Pullman car strike, to the initial battles to establish the principle of academic freedom, all underscored with a recurring discussion of race attitudes over the decades.

If this list appears to be a bit of a grab-bag of subjects, that impression prevails while reading the book: although it is all connected, you never quite know what subject Menand is going to explore next. The Metaphysical Club is not the final authority on any of these subjects; rather, it is a top-quality survey work. The subtitle describes the book better than the title: it truly is "a story of ideas in America". It's not "the" definitive story; Menand is exercising his right to explore brief portions of subjects of interest to him and germane to the storyline. But if you are willing to grant him this authorial license, and not protest the course he chooses, then you will be enthralled, entertained, and enlightened.

As a work of history (it won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for history), Menand also succeeds in providing a great deal of context about the state of the world his subjects were living in, so that we 21st century readers can "see how almost unimaginably strange they and their world were, too." While there are certain timeless truths that were generated by these thinkers, it is also instructive to see just how much they were a product of their times, which (of course) applies equally as well to us, today.

5-0 out of 5 stars Is Political Correctness a Metaphysical Game?
The Metaphysical Club--founded about the time of the American Civil War, brought together some of the best minds of the 19th century. Some were foreign-born scholars, some became quite well-known intellectuals and academics in their own right. ALL had a tremendous impact on thinking "distinctly American" that formed the foundation of doctrines such as Manifest Destiny, and fear of the "Mexicanization" of America that continues today.

This book is neither easy nor light reading, and will take some time for even the most ardent student of history generally to wade through. It has to be considered a basic text for anyone interested in intellectual history. It is without doubt an important work--especially for anyone who today wishes to understand what the rest of the world has thought of or thinks is "American Culture". Obviously, this is more complex than simplification of American expansionism as imperialism disguised as altruism. Nor is it the Culture of the Cowboy, the rugged individualist.

However, at the same time that great Armies were further defining the "United States" on great battlefields, on American soil, so too were great Thinkers defining Americanism in precursors of "think tanks" where today the media would seek out people who "really" had something to say about our society. These were the precursors of the George Wills, the Pat Buchanans, the Sam Donaldsons of our era.

While the names will be unfamiliar to some, and the personalities and characters even odd [sic] (even the great William James, M.D., who never practiced medicine, took a significant role) will become engaged with the intelligentsia of the United States that predated the Wilsonians of the early 20th century, or the Communists, Socialists, and fellow travelers of the middle 20th century....the Neo-Cons of our time.

You'll wonder what has been lost, and how the era of Political Correctness could ever have devolved from this period of intense intellectual activity occurring at a time when even the causes of disease and infection were unknown, and theories of genetics were in their infancy. Yet "The Metaphysical Club" was a magnet for great thinking.

A great read for the reader who likes a real challenge!

4-0 out of 5 stars A delightful, well-written study of ideas in the late 19th c
Louis Menand is a fine writer. With a pen that merits his frequent contributions to the New Yorker and other magazines, he is also an erudite and lover of knowledge. In this book, he gives an interesting overview of ideas in the late 19th century in the US. Unlike what the blurb says, this book is about more than just the "Metaphysical club" where James, Pierce, Holmes and Dewey met and talked; in fact, this club was short-lived.

But Menand uses this as a core around which he traces the ideas of these four great men and the others who inspired them and who they inspired. From Emerson in Concord through the early 20th century, this book examines some of the finest minds in one of America's most fertile periods. I would have liked to see more about James - arguably the most important thinker presented in the book - and a bit less density in some of the explanations of different philosophical systems. But the book is well-written, interesting, and Menand gives the right balance of ideas and events to help you understand this powerful period in the history of American thought.

I'd give it another half-star if I could; my only regret is the occasional dense passage that cuts away the rhythym of the narrative. ... Read more

119. My Forbidden Face: Growing Up Under the Taliban: A Young Woman's Story
by Latifa
list price: $21.95
our price: $15.37
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Asin: 0786869011
Catlog: Book (2002-03-13)
Publisher: Miramax Books
Sales Rank: 54094
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A moving tale of oppression and courageous defiance -- the true story of a teenage girl growing up in war-torn Afghanistan.

From 1997 to 2001, sixteen-year-old Latifa was a prisoner in her own home as the Taliban wreaked havoc on the lives of Afghan girls and women. This is her testimony -- a young woman's reaction to the inhumanity taking place before her very eyes. Latifa's life was turned upside down the moment the Taliban took Kabul. The oppressive regime banned women from working from schools, from public life, even from leaving their homes without a male relative. Female faces were outlawed as the burka, or head-to-toe veil, became mandatory. Latifa had planned to pursue journalism, in a quest for the truth about the ever-shifting power structure in her country. From the Russians to the warring factions, Latifa's existence had been marred by violence and upheaval. But when the Taliban took over, her world was reduced to the few rooms of her apartment. Like a contemporary Anne Frank, Latifa was forced to observe, absorb, and make sense of what was happening to women, to her country, from the!confines of her four walls. Frustrated by the sight of children wandering the streets below, and despite the danger to her own life, Latifa established a school and attempted to defy a regime, one child at a time. In May 2001, Latifa and her parents escaped through dangerous Taliban territory to Pakistan, then Paris. After several weeks, their flight was discovered, and the government issued a fatwa against them. Now in 2002, with the Taliban in retreat,Latifa's future seems brighter, although her homeland is still in turmoil. Written during her exile, this book is an extraordinarily powerful account of a teenager's life under terrible circumstances and a celebration of the resilience of the human spirit. ... Read more

Reviews (27)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Truth About the Taliban
Letifa is a valuable eye-witness to the terror the Taliban visited upon it's own people. With the help of Pakistan, these fanatics pursued a policy of anhilation of the Afghani people, particulary, the women. These are the same evil people who bombed our World Trade Center on September 11th. They are truly anti-life. Letifa's book gives me yet another reason to feel good about my country's role in freeing Afghanistan from the evil Taliban. Letifa and her family are all Muslem but they found the Taliban version of "Islam" unrecognizable. It is to religion what cancer is to healthy cells. May it be erradicated!

4-0 out of 5 stars The truth about the Taliban and Islam
For anyone interested in reading about women's history this is an excellent book. It was especially an eye opener to me due to the way Latifa talks about true Islam. I have a new appreciation for a culture and religon I do not totally understand. Every American should read about Islam before judging it. All I hear on TV is about Moslem radicals and not about average Moslem people who are good loving family oriented individuals. Latifa states that the taliban distorts her religon to suit their needs. They use Islam only to get what they want and to hurt others. Her story is heartbreaking and full of hope. It has given me a new appreciation for my freedom, and for the strength and spirit of women. As a teacher I was especially moved that she opened a school in her home and taught children who, under the taliban could not learn. She is truly a modern women. She shows alot of courage and I hope to hear more of her story. I also recommend Harriet Logan's book "Unveiled-Voices of women in Afganistan".

4-0 out of 5 stars Pretty well written.
Nice book, well written. shows the real face behind the talibans and portrays life of afghani women from another perspective besides the media.

4-0 out of 5 stars Amazing eye-opener, an easy explanation to the ignorant.
As I was reading through the reviews I completely identified with Rachel, from Dallas, Texas. I read this memoir as an individual project for a Philosophy course. By the end of the book I was absolutely stunned how much I did not know about Islam, Afghanistan and the Taliban. I came to realize through Latifa's explanations and recounts how absolutely ignorant I was. I assumed that women in Afghanistan had been treated unfairly for centuries, and had no idea how similar life was to American life for most women and men. By the end of the book, I felt utterly guilty for thinking the way I did about Latifa's culture. I am so glad that I read this book, as it was a wonderful eye-opener.

I recommend it to all American women so they can understand how precious our freedoms and liberties are. Also, any person who is interested in learning more about the Islam religion would greatly appreciate this book.

My only complaint is that her recount is somewhat impersonal. Her memoir is more factual, when I felt she could have put a lot more of her own feelings and emotion into the book. Other than that, it is a maginifcent read.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've read this year!
A touching story that was so easy to read. I recommend this book to anyone! ... Read more

120. Stalin : The Court of the Red Tsar
by Simon Sebag Montefiore
list price: $30.00
our price: $18.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400042305
Catlog: Book (2004-04-13)
Publisher: Knopf
Sales Rank: 1414
Average Customer Review: 4.37 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent and Comprehensive Biography
This is a well-written biography by the British journalist Simon Montefiore covering Stalin's life from 1878 to 1953. Photos on the book cover depict Stalin with his associates (the magnates) but it is mainly about him in the period 1932 to 1945. The author attended Cambridge University and has written one previous historical book "Prince of Princes" plus he has written two novels, and contributed many articles on Russia and those regions of the old USSR to the Sunday Times, the New York Times, and created various other written and TV works. He is very well qualified and does an impressive job examining original Russian sources such as letters and diaries, interviewing survivor's relatives or consulting with scholars, etc. From the book, one must conclude that it must have taken a long period of time to pull all the facts together and write the book - since the book is lengthy - is almost 800 pages long with the introduction, photos, maps, notes, lengthy index, etc. Plus it has many references and comments. In short it is not a quick read.

There are many things that one can say about the story and Stalin but I will try and limit my comments. Needless to say I recommend the book. It holds your attention and in many ways is quite fascinating. In any case, what really brings this book to life are two things, i.e.: the author uses a lot of quotes or accurate summaries from primary sources that are conversations or communications either written or spoken by Stalin or received by Stalin, so we get the feeling that we are back in the USSR on some chilly Moscow night at the Kremlin or on the warm Baltic coast at his dacha listening to the conversations as observers, plus the author inserts four sets of black and white photos that show all the main characters including Stalin's second wife Nadya, different associates (the magnates) such as Beria, and it gives the reader some perspective as one proceeds through the book. Without these photos and good writing I think this would be a much more difficult read for the average person to keep an interest in the book - and to follow while wading through the many pages of Russian names and relationships. So the author has done excellent background research job for the book and then he does a good job at presenting the material to keep our interest. Also there is a certain degree of drama in the book during the loss of Stalin's second wife and the invasion of the USSR by Germany.

In the book the author tells us that he is attempting to provide an accurate and complete biography of the man and his politics, not just the one-dimensional evil genius that is the normal perception of the man. We learn that Stalin enjoys his family life, and endless parties and dinners, hunting trips, billiards, visits by his children, comments by his mother, and his reading from an extensive personal library, singing and dancing, etc. His personal life is not all rosy and you will see that when you read the book. The author reveals these human sides to his complex personality and it works to a point in the book. Also, he gives the reader many details on the war, and the near destruction of Moscow, Stalin living in the subway, meetings with Churchill, Mao, Tito, endless diplomatic and business dinners, drinking binges with many including Churchill, and meetings with his associates to plan the war or the next purge, etc. But in the end it is a story about a ruthless killer that seized control of large country and retains power through the use of a terrifying secret police, bands of armed thugs, mind boggling torture techniques, firing squads, rigged courts, random killings, party purges, killing off of millions of independent farmers and business people, labor camps, and all the mayhem that this entails. But the author for the most part manages to keep the book an interesting read and an educational historical experience.

Overall this is an excellent and well-written book that I would highly recommend to anyone interested in the man and European history. I read it cover to cover and enjoyed the book. Also, I read many of the notes and comments. As a follow up I would suggest "Khrushchev" by William Taubman. It is a highly acclaimed best seller. The same author Taubman has written other books on the Soviet Union and Stalin's foreign policy.

Jack in Toronto

3-0 out of 5 stars OK book but not for beginners
Mr. Montefiore certainly worked hard to get this book right and his intimate look at Stalin and his inner circle certainly is worth reading if you are already knowledgable about Stalin and the happenings of the Soviet Union under his rule. THis book goes to a level where we almost know what Stalin had for dinner every night. It spends much time on his relations with his family, friends and comrades. I am sure this will enlighten some.

On the other hand this book is not recommended for non-Stalin scholars. Important external details (like much of WW2) are omitted so it is hard to figure out exactly what is happening at times. The onset of the Cold War is even less well explained, although some events, like the meetings with Churchill and FDR are explained in detail.

I would say the greatest plus of this book is its description of a tyrant going mad, eliminating every person around him who might be a threat and creating new threats out of an overwhelming imagination. I would say the greatest flaw is the picture much of the book draws of Stalin as some sort of intellectual who likes to eat with friends and party with women. WHile this is going on millions are dieing, but hte focus remains on the fete of the evening and not the atrocities.

Finally, while I understand Mr. Montefiore is Jewish, his focus on who is and is not jewish was quite off=putting. If somebody did not tell me he was jewish I would have guessed he was leading to some sweeping anti-semitic conclusions. I was not sure through the whole book why I needed to know who was Jewish and who was not. Maybe in England the word "Jew" is used as an adjective before a name like the Jew, Leon Trotsky, but it is not common in the U.S. and as I just said, it turned me off tremendously.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Most Compelling Book I've Ever Read About Stalin
"Stalin: The Court of The Red Tsar" is simply the most compelling book I've ever read about Stalin, and I've read a few (from Martin Amis to Solzhenitsyn to Robert Tucker to Volkogonov.) Montefiore has the skills of a novelist with narrative drive, smooth prose, and psychological portraiture. He also has ransacked a treasure-trove of freshly available documents like personal correspondence, newly published memoirs, and in-depth interviews with family members of the Soviet elite. The result is the most gripping picture yet of this time and place in world history.

Interestingly enough, the Soviet leaders were like a small town where everyone knew and lived in close proximitity with each other. Add to this the murderous habits of the Bolsheviks and you get something which looks amazingly like "The Sopranos": family men who were also monsters. (I guess David Chase just has great instincts for this kind of material.) There's also a resemblance to "I, Claudius" in the mixture of power, family banality, and horror. For example secret police chief Beria was a loving husband, father and grandfather who also personally tortured, raped, and killed his victims. (Human bones were recently found in the basement of his old mansion, according to Montefiore.)

The author also has a sure grasp on the moral and intellectual issues raised by Stalin's life. He says that the Communists were a fanatical sect and compares them to the "Islamo-fascists" that we face today. He also gives an amazingly rounded portrait of the human side of the dictator and the people around him. We learn about Stalin's mistresses; that the secret policeman Yezov's flighty, doomed wife slept with the great writer Isaac Babel; that Stalin ordered the destruction of his wife Nadya's entire family (including one woman who had an affair with him.) This is an absolutely essential book which you must purchase immediately.

5-0 out of 5 stars At Last, a Stalin Study Free of Cold War Hyperbole!
Montefiore's study of Stalin is truly the first, comprehensive, academic study of Stalin WITHOUT the ubiquitious Cold War rhetoric and moral grandstanding of so many previous English language biographies. Unlike Payne, Ulam, Tucker, and Lacquer, for example, Montefiore provides readers with an exhaustive examination of Stalin and his close associates for what they really were: Human beings who loved, hated, gossiped, told bawdy jokes, back-stabbed, got drunk, went on picnics, struggled with self doubt, cried, worried about their careers, enjoyed singing folk songs, spent long hours at the office, played with their children, endured personal health problems, and grieved for lost family members. This book does NOT focus on geopolitics or diplomacy but rather the million-and-one seemingly day-to-day activities that make up the thing we call Existence. Based on many interviews and newly-opened Russian archives, Montefiore presents a fascinating, lively, and well written study for both the scholar and the general reader. Stalin and all of his lieutenants -- including Molotov, Kagonovitch, Mikoyan, Beria, Zhukov, and dozens of others -- are portrayed not as two-dimensional robots mindlessly spouting-off Marxist-Leninist slogans, but rather as ordinary persons struggling with the mundane pettiness of Life. As a result, this tome leaves nothing sacred, and makes no apology for the horrific crimes committed by the Stalin regime. Nevertheless, because of the everyday banality of these individuals, it only makes the reader think of the hatred and destruction ordinary humans are potentially capable of....

5-0 out of 5 stars Horrifyingly Fascinating Account of Stalin
I must admit that I feel a bit of guilt for the compulsive manner in which I read this highly personal account of life in the court of Stalin. This well-told story is horrible, but fascinating.

Montefiore makes no effort to dissect the big geopolitical issues of the Stalin era, except to use them as a backdrop to the backstabbing, denunciations, groveling, and horror in which the senior leadership of the Soviet Union operated from the early 30s until the early 50s. Using in-depth interviews and newly-available archival information, including much of the correspondence between and among the senior leadership, Montefiore fleshes out what was going on under the surface, in particular the complex love-hate (mostly hate) relationship of Stalin to his court.

It's a wonderful account of a country run by leaders who viewed their role more as mafiosi than as leaders of a legitimate government. In a real sense, they were gangsters and that's the way they ran the country--including the way Stalin required the leadership to all participate in the Great Terror (he wanted all them to have blood on their hands and thus share in the collective guilt).

The author's behind-the-scenes view of the Great Terror is the centerpiece of the book. His portraits of Yeshov and Beria, the two most malignant monsters after Stalin, will now be etched into my memory.

But in the end, the book is a portrait of Stalin, a man who could turn on the charm, perform an act of kindness for an old comrade, then in the next moment sign the death warrants of hundreds of innocent victims. I disagree with other reviewers who criticize the author for treating Stalin too kindly. There's no question where Montefiore stands: he views Stalin was a monster, and Stalin's occasional human touches makes him even more so.

I've had long-term interest in 20th century Russian history, particularly trying to understand how a country could find itself in the hands of the personification of evil. This book helps answer the question.

A final point. Montefiore is an excellent story teller. I don't pretend to be in position to judge all his conclusions, but they have the ring of truth to them, and the author is good about telling the reader when he's departed from evidence into speculation.

I recommend this book. I only wish that in reading it, I lacked the guilty fascination that comes from watching an entire nation turned into a train wreck by a single evil man. ... Read more

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