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141. Alice: Princess Andrew of Greece
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142. The Colonel and Little Missie
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143. The Leper King and his Heirs :
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144. Perdita : The Literary, Theatrical,
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145. The Last Lion: Winston Spencer
146. Fire in the Night : Wingate of
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147. Doc Holliday: A Family Portrait
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148. Chronicle of the Roman Emperors:
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149. Kingdom of Fear : Loathsome Secrets
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150. Nicholas and Alexandra
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151. Out of the Flames: The Remarkable
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152. War Letters : Extraordinary Correspondence
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153. Abraham Lincoln and Civil War
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154. God's Secretaries : The Making
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155. Six Wives of Henry VIII
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156. American Traveler: The Life and
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157. Narrative of the Life of Frederick
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158. The Real Lincoln : A New Look
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159. At the Mind's Limits: Contemplations
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160. Churchill: A Life

141. Alice: Princess Andrew of Greece
by Hugo Vickers
list price: $17.95
our price: $12.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312302398
Catlog: Book (2003-06-16)
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Sales Rank: 12420
Average Customer Review: 3.94 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

“In 1953, at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Alice was dressed from head to foot in a long gray dress and a gray cloak, and a nun’s veil.Amidst all the jewels, and velvet and coronets, and the fine uniforms, she exuded an unworldly simplicity.Seated with the royal family, she was a part of them, yet somehow distanced from them.Inasmuch as she is remembered at all today, it is as this shadowy figure in gray nun’s clothes...”

Princess Alice, mother of Prince Phillip, was something of a mystery figure even within her own family.She was born deaf, at Windsor Castle, in the presence of her grandmother, Queen Victoria, and brought up in England, Darmstadt, and Malta.

In 1903 she married Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, and from then on her life was overshadowed by wars, revolutions, and enforced periods of exile.By the time she was thirty-five, virtually every point of stability was overthrown.Though the British royal family remained in the ascendant, her German family ceased to be ruling princes, her two aunts who had married Russian royalty had come to savage ends, and soon afterwards Alice's own husband was nearly executed as a political scapegoat.

The middle years of her life, which should have followed a conventional and fulfilling path, did the opposite.She suffered from a serious religious crisis and at the age of forty-five was removed from her family and placed in a sanitarium in Switzerland, where she was pronounced a paranoid schizophrenic.As her stay in the clinic became prolonged, there was a time where it seemed she might never walk free again.How she achieved her recovery is just one of the remarkable aspects of her story.
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Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Little Known but Admirable Princess
I would imagine that most people outside the ranks of royalty enthusiasts have never heard of Princess Alice of Battenberg, Princess Andrew of Greece. If anything, they know her as Prince Philip's mother. And that's a pity, because Hugo Vicker's new biography reveals that Alice Battenberg was a truly remarkable individual.Alice was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, which must have seemed her only interesting point at the time of her birth. Her father was morganatic (half-royal) and her mother a princess from a minor German state. Her first years were spent among her multitudinous family (Vickers provides footnotes and trees to help sort everyone out), in the background and unnoticed. Alice's marriage was hardly a glamorous match. Prince Andrew was a younger son of the King of Greece and while charming, not all that interesting. Alice lived quietly until the 1920s, when a revolution in Greece and her own personal troubles caused her a certain notoriety. Vickers does a good job of covering Alice's physical and emotional ailments and is most successful in describing her growing religious faith. In this Alice is similar to her two Russian Aunts, Tsarina Alexandra and Grand Duchess Elizabeth. During World War II Alice protected a Jewish family at grave risk to herself, so that she was later declared Righteous Among the Gentiles by Israel.After World War II Alice continued to live in the background, now overshadowed by her only son, Prince Philip, who became the consort of Queen Elizabeth II. She remained a loving and wise part of the Royal Family however, as memories of her from her grandchildren and other relations attest.Alice, Princess Andrew of Greece deserves a place in the library of anyone interested in royalty as well as anyone who cares to read about honorable and decent people.

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent biography of Prince Philip's Mother.
This really is a most enjoyable read about a fascinating woman. Princess Alice was the Mother of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, husband of HM Queen Elizabeth II. If you want to understand the family Prince Philip grew up in I can think of no better book. Princess Alice was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and married Prince Andrew of Greece. Prince Philip is her only living child and her youngest. This book is a must for those interested in the Battenberg family of which Princess Alice was a member. Having read about Princess Alice's Mother, Princess Victoria of Hesse-Darmstadt (eldest sister of Tsarina Alexandra) who married Prince Louis of Battenberg (later Marquis and Marchioness of Milford-Haven) this book really is worthwhile but stands very well alone. There are loads of fantastic pictures. I highly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Praise for the author
I was hesitant to order this book as biographies tend to be dry but Hugo Vickers has written a most sensitive and honest account of HRH Alice's life. He had the cooperation of her son Prince Philip who graciously allowed family photos to be published. This is a very good book about a lady who overcame personal problems and, at the same time, always tried to improve the lives of those less fortunate. A remarkable lady.

1-0 out of 5 stars Poorly written and prejudiced
Vickers just can't write! He's fantastic in an archive and here has gathered an excellent array of facts from numerous sources. He has also done an excellent job of putting everything together. But he just isn't at all a good writer. His style is awkward and clumpsy - he doesn't know how to effectivel tell a story. How he got as far as he did is a modern wonder. AND the cause of the book, being in effect comissioned by Prince Philip, was also it's death, as it is extremely prejudiced in presenting only what the palace wants us to know and believe. There are numerous unpleasant and controversial facts about the historical characters in the book which are neatly omitted, and Alice is always sympathetically and gallantly focused. No even-handed critique or analysis here - just a nice Windsor-approved glowing tribute, and poorly written.

3-0 out of 5 stars Great story, so-so writing....
Princess Alice of Greece is one of the most fascinating of all the royals, but unfortunately, the least known. Perhaps the British Royal Family has kept the lid on this biography because of embarrassment? But Hugo Vickers tells this long repressed story in Alice: Princess Andrew of Greece.

Alice was born when royalty was at its zenith, and she was surrounded by some of the most important personalities of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Her great-grandmother was Queen Victoria. Her father was Louis of Battenberg, First Sea Lord and her brother was Dickie Mountbatten, Last Viceroy of India. Alice's sister Louise became Queen of Sweden, and her mother's sister was Tsarina Alexandra. Alice's youngest child and only son is Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and husband to Queen Elizabeth II.

Alice topped an idyllic childhood by marrying Prince Andrew of Greece. In a day when most marriages were arranged, this was a love match. There was no familial opposition as Alice was from a morganatic marriage and her groom the 4th son of King George I of Greece. Unfortunately, her married life was marred by sadness, heartbreak and tragedy. The Greek monarchy and the Greek government were as unstable as the weather. On numerous occasions, Alice had to flee Greece with her family for extended periods of time. She lived through two world wars where a good many of her relatives were on the German (enemy) side including her sons-in-law. Her father-in-law was assassinated by a disgruntled Greek, and dozens of Russian relatives, including aunt Tsarina Alexandra and her entire family, were murdered during the Russian Revolution. A plane crash in England in 1937 took the lives of one daughter, son-in-law, two grandchildren, and a Hessian aunt. Perhaps as a result of these many setbacks, Alice succumbed to schizophrenia and had to be institutionalized for a good many years. The story of Alice's subsequent recovery, her conversion to orthodoxy, her becoming a nun and establishing a religious order make for a fascinating saga.

Unfortunately, this book is not without some major flaws. First, Vickers writing style leaves a lot to be desired and his run-on sentences are a big distraction. One example can be found on page 77: "Presently the whole party moved to Buckingham Palace, attending a ball at the Russian Embassy and the King's Birthday Parade, in which Andrea [Andrew] rode to Horseguards Parade in the procession directly behind the King, little realizing that this would one day be the annual duty of his yet unborn son." The many footnotes (sometimes 3 or 4 per page) are very tiresome and provide more information than we really need. I have no clue how someone could read this book for a book-on-tape. Also, the author could do a better job identifying Russian Royalty. Most Russians are identified by their first name, followed by a patronymic (their father's name followed by "ovich"). For instance, the tsar's name was Nicholas Alexandrovich (Nicholas, son of Alexander). Vickers doesn't follow this rule and when he names a Grand Duke Michael, it is often difficult to know which of the dozen or so Grand Duke Michael's he is referring to.

Still, Alice is an interesting book and it was not an easy story to write, as Alice destroyed most of her papers and letters throughout her lifetime. It also includes many never before seen photos of Alice and her extended family, including a poignant photo of her processing in her nun's habit for the coronation of her daughter-in-law. So for readers interested in royalty, suffer through the poor writing and discover the real story underneath. ... Read more

142. The Colonel and Little Missie : Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, and the Beginnings of Superstardom in America
by Larry McMurtry
list price: $26.00
our price: $17.16
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Asin: 0743271718
Catlog: Book (2005-06-01)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 3037
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Book Description

Pulitzer Prize winner Larry McMurtry chronicles the rise to fame, fortune, and international celebrity of two of the West's most enduring figures -- and America's first real superstars.

From the early 1800s to the end of his life in 1917, Buffalo Bill Cody was as famous as anyone could be. Annie Oakley was his most celebrated protégée, the "slip of a girl" from Ohio who could (and did) outshoot anybody to become the most celebrated star of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.

In this sweeping dual briography, Larry McMurtry explores the lives, the elgends, and above all the truth about two larger-than-life American figures. With his Wild West show, Buffalo Bill helped invent the image of the West that still exists today -- cowboys and Indians, rodeo, rough rides, sheriffs and outlaws, trick shooting, Stetsons, and buck-skin. The short, slight Annie Oakley -- born Pheobe Ann Moses -- spent sixteen years with Buffalo Bill's Wild West, where she entertained Queen Victoria, Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, and Kaiser Wilhelm II, among others. Beloved by all who knew her, including Junkpapa leader, Sitting Bull, Oakley becam a legend in her own right and after her death, achieved a new lease of fame in Irving Berlin's musical Annie, Get Your Gun.

To each other, they were always "Missie" and "Colonel". To the rest of the world, they were cultural icons, setting the path for all that followed. Larry McMurtry -- a writer who understands the West better than any other -- recreates their astonihing careers and curious friendship in a fascinating history that reads like the very best of his fiction.

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143. The Leper King and his Heirs : Baldwin IV and the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem
by Bernard Hamilton
list price: $65.00
our price: $60.45
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Asin: 052164187X
Catlog: Book (2000-05-18)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 114018
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The reign of King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem (1174-85) has traditionally been seen as a period of decline when, because of the king's illness, power came to be held by those who made the wrong policy decisions. Notably, they ignored the advice of Raymond of Tripoli and attacked Saladin. This book challenges that view, arguing that peace with Saladin was not a viable option; and that the young king, despite suffering from lepromatous leprosy, presided over a society that was (contrary to what is often said) vigorous and self-confident. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Refreshing
Bernard Hamilitons scholarship is unsurpassed. The book does long overdue justice to the Leper King, and goes some way to correcting the demonisation of Reynald of Chatillon. Clearly exposes the widely beleived myth that if the Crusaders would of come in line with the thinking of Raymond of Tripoli, Saladin would of lived peacefully coexsisting with the crusaders.

The book is full of deatiled accounts of the most intresting events of the selected period: Reynalds raid on Arabia, the details of Balwins disease, Ramond of Tripoli's ambitions, etc..

A much more credible account of the Leper Kings reign, backed up by endless foot notes and evidence, that bravely disputes the widely held, 'Steven Runicman' view on the period.

5-0 out of 5 stars An overdue Historical Revision
I greatly enjoyed this book!The reign of Baldwin IV, the Leper King has been long, long overdue for a good, historical revision!The usual story: Saladin/Raymond of Tripoli good guys, everybody-else bad guys (particularly Agnes de Courtenay, the king's mother, portrayed as a cross between "Vampirella" and Marilyn Monroe), with the poor Leper King in the middle (usually portrayed as a cross between The Little Lame Prince and Count Dracula) has always been too simplistic---I thought so, even before reading this book.Hamilton gives you all the details, all the facts, and even an appendix discussing Baldwin's illness from a medical point of view.Get this book!

4-0 out of 5 stars Unromantic but Solid Depiction of an Incredible Saga
Baldwin IV, king of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem is largely - and unfairly - unknown in the west today. But, as Bernard Hamilton details in The Leper King and his Heirs, he deserves so much better. For a start, he accomplished so much more than his famous Crusading near contemporary Richard the Lionheart, and under infinitely more trying conditions.

Not only was his childhood troubled - his father Amalric had been forced to disown his mother Agnes when Baldwin was two years old before the aristocracy would accept him as king, and Baldwin was only 13 when Amalric died and he took the throne - he contracted leprosy at a young age (Baldwin's symptoms are discussed in a useful appendix by Piers Mitchell).

The disease could not be hidden; "It grew more serious each day, specially injuring his hands and feet and his face, so that his subjects were distressed whenever they looked at him," William of Tyre, chief contemporary chronicler of the day, relates.

A lesser person would have quickly broken under such circumstances. But Baldwin was animated by both a bold spirit and a tremendous sense of duty, of his obligation to his people. One of the most human touches is William of Tyre's depiction of Baldwin as "a good looking child for his age" who grew up "full of hope" and "more skilled than men who were older than himself in controlling horses and in riding them at a gallop," (p 43). Baldwin had taught himself this skill, vital to a knight, despite already losing feeling in his right hand. And he continued to ride at the head of his men into battle when there was no way he could have remounted had he been unhorsed. Determination and courage were to be the hallmarks of his all too brief career.

For Baldwin was by any measure a successful king - considering his circumstances and limited resources, a great one. Though his people were massively outnumbered and surrounded on three sides, this boy, who took the throne in 1164 and died aged not quite 24 in 1185, for 11 years frustrated the ambition of Saladin, the greatest warrior of the age, to forge unity among the Arab people and drive the Christians from the Holy Places.

Despite being significantly outnumbered, he defeated Saladin in two major battles, Mont Gisard in 1177 and Le Forbelet in 1182, and forced him to raise the siege of Beirut in 1182 and the major fortress of Kerak twice, in 1183 and 1184. On the latter occasions he was blind and so debilitated he had to be slung in a litter between two horses.

Hamilton also helps untangle the intricate web of domestic and international relations in which Jerusalem, the center of the world for three faiths, was ensnared. Baldwin had to balance the conflicting jealousies and agendas of his own nobility, always maneuvering to secure their positions first in the event of a regency, then at the succession; the knightly orders that were within his kingdom but not of it; the neighboring Crusader states; the attitude of the Papacy; the interests of Byzantium; and the distant and fickle responses of the western European powers. And overshadowing all this was ever-present menace of the Islamic counterattack that could come anytime, anyplace. Given this ever-precarious situation, Baldwin perhaps emerges with even greater credit for his diplomacy than for his skills with the sword. Certainly, he made no fatal mistakes and left the kingdom in no weaker condition than he found it.

Hamilton makes no great departures in his work, but goes some way towards rehabilitating Reynald of Chatillon from his characteristic depiction as loose cannon psychopath. Following Michael Lyons and David Jackson's Saladin: The Politics of Holy War, he also demythologizes the Crusader's nemesis, emphasizing the traditional argument that the Christian state unnecessarily provoked Saladin into war is flawed: The great leader of the Muslim world had been working towards the cleansing Jihad his entire career.

This is a book as much about an era as an individual, and at times, Baldwin as a personality tends to disappear inside it. Even considering the limitations of the sources, one wishes there was more representing his perspective in his voice. But we are limited to a heartfelt letter he wrote to Louis VII of France, humbly recognizing his limitations and offering to hand the kingdom over to a candidate as noble, and more healthy, than he: "To be deprived of one's limbs is of little help to one in carrying out the work of government... It is not fitting that a hand so weak as mine should hold power when fear of Arab aggression daily presses upon the Holy City and when my sickness increases the enemy's daring." (p 140).

It was fortunate for the Kingdom of Jerusalem that this offer was refused. It is significant that just two years after Baldwin's death Saladin won his great victory at Hattin, fatally wounding the Crusader presence in the Middle East and setting in motion the chain of events that would culminate in their expulsion in 1291.

"Few rulers have remained executive heads of state when handicapped by such severe physical disabilities or sacrificed themselves more totally to the needs of their people," (p 210) Hamilton concludes. Baldwin's accomplishments would seem to be the stuff of myth, but he was quite real, a testament to human courage and endurance, and Hamilton does a fine job of putting his life and times in perspective.

5-0 out of 5 stars Accessible for both popular & scholarly audiences!
Baldwin IV of Jerusalem, who came to the throne as a teenager and was afflicted with leprosy, is traditionally thought of as a weak monarch -- some even claiming that the loss of Jerusalem in 1187 was an end result of his mediocre reign.

Bernard Hamilton sets the record straight in this eminently readable reassessment of the reign of "Leper king", demonstrating that Baldwin, in spite of his leprosy, was actually a resilient monarch who twice defeated the forces of the famed Saladin. Only in the last stages of his life did his gruesome ailment impede his otherwise vibrant rule. Perhaps Baldwin's only failure was his inability to provide the realm with an offspring to succeed him, which propelled the kingdom into a messy political power-struggle.This internal disunity paved the way for Saladin's victories in 1187.

While the work does address some historiographical debates, casual readers and amateur historians will appreciate the book as well. Hamilton's engaging style makes for a lively read, detailing the life of the underrated Baldwin IV, how leprosy was viewed & treated in the medieval period, the tenuous dynamics of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, and the events which led to the downfall the chief crusader state. Hopefully CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS will issue a paperback edition of the work, so the interested reader can afford this informative, enjoyable book. ... Read more

144. Perdita : The Literary, Theatrical, Scandalous Life of Mary Robinson
list price: $27.50
our price: $18.15
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Asin: 1400061482
Catlog: Book (2005-03-22)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 79016
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145. The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Alone 1932-1940
by William Manchester
list price: $50.00
our price: $33.00
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Asin: 0316545120
Catlog: Book (1988-10-28)
Publisher: Little, Brown
Sales Rank: 33421
Average Customer Review: 4.91 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (23)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent History of Churchill's Wilderness Years
As one reads William Manchester's second volume on Churchill, one is struck by Churchill's uncanny grasp of the threat of Nazi Germany, and his many attempts to warn Britain of its peril. Like Cassandra in Greek mythology, though, Churchill's predictions are not believed, and he is only included in the War Cabinet when war was inevitable. William Manchester's book is thoroughly researched, and is at least as good as that of Churchill's official biographer, Martin Gilbert, with one important difference: Manchester's book is written on a far larger canvas, and the level of detail he is able to devote to Churchill is far greater -- and the subject is more than worthy of it. Mandatory reading for anyone studying Churchill, a good prelude to read before reading Churchill's own five volume history of World War II in that it gives insight into Churchill's mind. On a personal level, I know that Mr. Manchester is advanced in years, and I cannot help thinking, in my selfishness as a historian, that I hope he completes volume III soon. It would be a tragedy if the task of completing this wonderful history proves to be too much for him.

5-0 out of 5 stars Current Events
As the crisis in Iraq developed in the post-911 days, I found myself thinking more and more about this second volume of the life of Winston Churchill. I was reminded of the essential differences between appeasement and the need to take agressive measures to stop agression. William Manchester does an outstanding job of spelling out the state of the world at this time leading up to World War II. He details, from a British perspective, every move as we watch disappointedly from an historical vantage point. Churchill's eventual elevation to Prime Minister comes not as a triumph, but more like an act of desperation. All along the way, knowing who the bad guy is (and just how bad he really is) we are disappointed (or is it disgusted) at each step of retreat.

I am in the midst of reading Shirer's "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" and, while I can sing it's praises, it does not do as impressive job on this subject as Manchester's "Alone". Someting about Manchester's writing makes you feel that you're in the midst of everything that's happening.

I can think of no better a time to read this book than in the present world political situation. I'll leave it to the reader to decided how similar the Iraq situation is to that of Nazi Germany. However, the various ways the world and this country react to the situation brings Europe of the 1930's to mind.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Captivating Read
As Hitler was gaining power in Germany, Churchill was warning his fellow countrymen of the dangers thatlurked. He did not receive a listening hear. At a speech before a University audience in Oxford when he told the crowd it was "essential for us to be safe in our island home," the audience burst into laughter. The laughter grew so raucous that Churchill could not continue. These are the sort of snapshots that Manchester captures that makes this book such a delightful read.

Churchill was written off more than once. This second snapshot describes what happened:
"Joseph Stalin, receiving a British delegation headed by Nancy and George Bernard Shaw, had bluntly asked her about Winston's political prospects.Her eyes widened. 'Churchill?' she had said. She gave a scornful little laugh and replied, 'Oh, he's finished.'" These are just two examples of the thoroughness of this well-written book. The author takes a complicated era and makes it understandable.

4-0 out of 5 stars Wilderness Years
I liked this treatise on the life of Churchill. His wilderness years when those who treated him with disdain thought of him as a wash up.

This was his time to bide his time, in order to gain his composure for his future use.

Anyone in the oxbow of life can gain insights on how to use time rightly until the attainment of a goal.

Churchill did not just bide his time, he used it to his advantage.

One day I hope Manchester finishes volume III.....

5-0 out of 5 stars Superstar
I've read a lot of books in my life, but I guess I had to wait to find one of the best books I've ever read. It is hard to believe that a "history book" could be a page-turner, but I literally could not put the first volume down. Or the second. Manchester is a fantastic writer and his admiration and enthusiasm for the Last Lion is evident. Do yourself a very big favor and read these books, Vol. 1 and 2. I sure hope there's a Vol. 3 in the works. ... Read more

146. Fire in the Night : Wingate of Burma, Ethiopia, and Zion
list price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375500618
Catlog: Book (1999-12-28)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 218564
Average Customer Review: 4.88 out of 5 stars
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Few men have made as outstanding contributions to their country's cause as Orde Wingate, yet few have divided opinion so completely. "We don't want any more Wingates in the British Army," says an Army Council minute written after the end of the Second World War, and after his death. In contrast, no less than Winston Churchill himself said, before the House of Commons, "There was a man of genius, who might well have become a man of destiny."

John Bierman and Colin Smith's enlightening and rigorous biography of this brilliant man amply demonstrates how the conservative establishment of the British Army could come to adopt such an ungracious attitude to one of their most dynamic sons, who contributed so much to the war effort with dazzling performances in Abyssinia and Burma, and so much to future strategic thinking with his bold formulation of new methods. He ruffled feathers with his uncompromising style, unconventional thinking, and eccentric nature (perhaps most memorably expressed in his unaffected penchant for receiving visitors in the nude). Together with an acute intelligence and great breadth of learning, Wingate was a man possessed of awe-inspiring will and single-minded application, and he was often seen flying into a rage when things were not done as he thought they should be. Many, regardless of rank, felt the lash of his tongue. His almost fanatical commitment to the cause of Zionism, a highly sensitive and ambivalent political hot potato for the British at the time, seems also to have rankled many who simply could not understand a man so unlike the typical public-school-educated officer. Although not Jewish himself, to this day he is widely honored in Israel. Zvi Brenner, his Jewish bodyguard in Palestine before the war when he was commanding the Special Night Squads, elegantly encapsulated the man when, in describing Wingate's uncanny ability to negotiate all terrain in darkness, he said, "Wingate didn't follow any paths but walked in straight lines." A truly exceptional man; there is, unfortunately, little chance of the British Army's having any more Wingates. --Alisdair Bowles, ... Read more

Reviews (8)

Having been brought up on stories from my early years about the brave and often forgotten exploits of the Chindits I was very enthused to tuck into this book. Orde Wingate has been the hero of many, not so much because he was a military successful warrior, but because he was wildly unconventional at a time when staid ethics and methods of war were leading to defeats of the western allies on all fronts.

A fierce Old Testament fear and learning of the bible bread in what would now be called a fundementalist christian family, he blended this with [...] eccentricities like, indifference to appearing nude before his collegues and newspapermen, a complete indifference to British Monarchy and the hierarchical class-bound society and way of thinking. An appreciator of new ideas and probably quite to the left of many of his superiors, he had no hestation in punishing and physically striking his recruits (no matter their colour), and could kill the enemy mercilessly, or order large groups knowingly to their death without a blink.

Wingate pioneered unconventional warfare with his notion that large unit groups can function in the rear of the enemy for long periods of time if they were self-sufficient and well trained. He eschewed the entire idea of "special forces" as they are often called nowadays. In the end I do not think that he squared the circle large unit action and special forces --- he wanted both and got really neither. His tactics worked rather well against the Italians (but that was no surprise he realised), but they were problematic against the Japanese. The first operation, "Long Cloth" was an unmitigated disaster, with enough adventures from its many participants to fill an entire library (they still make some of the most heart thumping reads available). The entire operation broke down and became in some cases, every man for himself. Wingate himself giving the order.

His second operation was more problematic. No doubt these operations had significant effect on the enemy and no doubt were very helpful in the taking of Myikyena and Mogang, but I really think that 14th Army would have rolled up the Japanese flank nicely anyway, as they did and win the Battle of Burma with overwhelming firepower and troops as well unmitigated air superiority.

In the end the Japanese in Burma were beaten by traditional large unit engagements.

That is not a defeat of the ideas of Orde Wingate, nor do they negate the incredible bravery of the men who served with him. What it does DO however is to put to rest the idea that Orde Wingate was a purveyor of "Truth" -- his ideas were worthy, but they were not the be-all end-all of jungle combat. His developments were prodigeous and his personal bravery never in doubt. But I think that, like Moses, he got involved too much in fanatical devotion to one idea and was willing to sacrifice a lot for an idea. In the case of Moses, his people --- in the case of Wingate, it was often his own troops.

This books admirably chronicles the multifacted nature of Wingate. It is factual and comes across as neutral as possible, often citing critical sources and those men (also of incredible courage) that did not fall under his spell.

The narrative is tight and WELL EDITED. Unlike your regular 1000 page biography Smith and Beirman are able to deal with the subject adequately in 400 pages with nothing substantive missing. Also there is just enough detail of almost all of his life. The final 150 pages deals with the Burma campaign the authors are very skillful in their use of detail. They include all of the crucial elements necessary of his many campaigns.

I found the book to be a very admirable read. I think that it only deepened the questions I have about Wingate --- was he a daring experimenter or a madman? --- I think that one can add, bitterly-troubled person to the heap of other appelations surrounding this man.

I still ask myself, if this man were my commander would I succumb and become a convert? Would I stand aloof and protest that something is terribly wrong? I do not know, and cannot judge because I was not born at the time these events transpired. I was not a part of this great crusade, the glory they gained or the horrors they endured.

5-0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary story of a unique person
This is actually three wonderful stories in one. Beginning with a short introduction of the 'early years' the book quickly opens with Wingate in 1936 Palestine/Zion where is quickly discovers the passion that he will keep for the rest of his life, namely Zionism. Wingate, witnessing the anti-Semitic nature of the British officer corps, gravitates towards the Zionists due to his penchant for sticking out and backing underdog causes. This book tells the riveting story of Wingate's training and arming of the famous 'night squads' which became the backbone of the Palmach who eventually led Israel to victory in the 1948 war.

The second story is the story of Wingate in Africa. Exiled to Africa because of his deep connections to the Zionists Wingate once again latches onto a new cause, the 1941 liberation of Ethiopia, which had been the last free African state before the Italians invaded it.

The third story is where Wingate once again shined, namely in Burma leading the Chindits who operated behind enemy lines fighting the Japanese. Once again Wingate's penchant for native causes and brilliant ability to adapt unorthodox fighting techniques helped prepare the way for British victory. Churchill called Wingate a genius and when you read this book you will wholeheartedly agree, this is truly the story of the man who was the 'fire in the night' when the world was becoming dark with fascism.

Seth J. Frantzman

5-0 out of 5 stars One good read begets two
Some time ago, I read QUARTERED SAFE OUT HERE, the wartime memoirs of George MacDonald Fraser concerning the time he spent in the Other Ranks of the British imperial army that recaptured Burma from the Japanese in World War II. In his book, Fraser mentions the high regard the troops had for the army commander, William Slim. I subsequently read DEFEAT INTO VICTORY by Field-Marshal Viscount Slim, a personal account by the man who commanded the Fourteenth Indian Army during its bitter retreat from, and its glorious return march through, Burma. In his volume, Slim mentions the unorthodox British general Orde Wingate's contributions to the Japanese defeat in Southeast Asia. Thus, FIRE IN THE NIGHT, Wingate's biography.

Co-authored by John Bierman and Colin Smith, FIRE IN THE NIGHT is the immensely readable life story of an incredibly complex man. In a nutshell, after several brief chapters on Wingate's early life, the narrative sequentially covers his postings in Palestine, Ethiopia and, finally, India/Burma, during which time (1936-1944) he rose in rank from Lieutenant to Major General. In the British Mandate of Palestine, Orde became an ardent Zionist while fighting Arab "gangs" with Special Night Squads, the armed detachments of British regulars and Jews which he himself brought into being. In Ethiopia, his was a key role in the British victorious military effort to drive the Italians from the country and return Haile Selassie to the thrown. In India, Wingate's ultimate triumph before an untimely death was to conceive, form, train and deploy the Third Indian Division, the "Chindits", as a Special Force to insert behind Japanese lines in Northern Burma to destroy the enemy's means of communication and supply.

To my mind, the strength of this book is that it gives the reader an excellent overview of Wingate the man and soldier without getting bogged down in an overabundance of detail. Certainly, the subject of Wingate's character, obsessions and eccentricities could fill volumes. He was admired and loved by the men he literally led into battle. (He drove them hard, but he drove himself even harder.) Conversely, he was loathed by many of his officer peers and superiors for his arrogance, outspokenness, rudeness and personal slovenliness. (He was on record as calling some of his more Blimpish superiors "military apes".) But, he also had his admirers in high places, most notably Winston Churchill and Lord Louis Mountbatten, the Supreme Commander of all allied forces in Southeast Asia.

Perhaps the most endearing of Wingate's traits were his eccentricities. For example, he carried a wind-up alarm clock on his person because he considered watches unreliable. And then there was his attitude to personal nudity best illustrated by an incident during the wide press acclaim following his first Chindit campaign. An Australian correspondent invited to the general's hotel room in Delhi wrote:

"I found him sitting naked on his bed, eyes buried deep in a book. He hardly glanced up as I entered and rather gruffly asked what I wanted. ... He wasn't interested in me or my requirements, but seemed most excited about the book he was reading ... a critical commentary of Emily Bronte and her work."

Can you imagine those media hogs of the Second World War - Patton, Montgomery and MacArthur - doing that?

5-0 out of 5 stars Balanced and entertaining...
This is a lucid, penetrating, balanced and entertaining analysis of one of the 2nd World War's underestimated and controversial personality---a latter day T.E. Lawrence without the romantic riddle and enigma. The authors skillfully grabs the reader's attention from the start, eliminating extraneous details.(e.g., initial statement: "Orde Charles Wingate entered the world as he left it, amid a flurry of urgent telegrams.")

The book makes one wonder what the outcome would have been if he was given far more timely attention for his, at that time, unconventional theories of long range penetration and supply. On the other hand, it makes one wonder if he would have amounted much in today's athmosphere of the 'politically correct society' with his "amazing success in his getting himself disliked by people who are only too ready to be on his side", with his abrasive way of getting things done. It may well be a classic example of the adage that 'genius is never appreciated in one's time.' But many exalted figures in history considered him a military genius--the authors made it plain and clear there were many detractors too, from the ordinary soldier to Field Marshall Slim's unjust inferences in his post war memoirs.

My only complaint: the maps in the book--one gets the impression they were done in a hurry; the places mentioned which are crucial to the events described cannot be found, and I found myself having to use different atlases.

In retelling this story, the authors proved once more the truth in the saying that two heads working together are better than one.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great!
Bierman and Smith have done a fine job of portraying Wingate. And, what a great read!

Wingate has finally been given his due in this book. His true worth as an Army officer is finally exposed: As great as Lawrence but lacking the literary gifts.

A must-read for the professional Army or Marine Corps officer! ... Read more

147. Doc Holliday: A Family Portrait
by Karen Holliday Tanner, Robert K. Dearment
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0806133201
Catlog: Book (2001-03-01)
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
Sales Rank: 19499
Average Customer Review: 3.88 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In Doc Holliday: A Family Portrait, Karen Holliday Tanner, a distant cousin, reveals the real man behind the legend. Shedding light on Holliday's early years in a prominent Georgia family during the Civil War and Reconstruction, she examines the elements that shaped his destiny: his birth defect, the death of his mother and estrangement from his father, and the diagnosis of tuberculosis, which led to his journey west.

Using previously undisclosed family documents and reminiscences as well as other primary sources, Tanner documents the true story of Holliday's friendship with the Earp brothers and his run-ins with the law, including the climactic shootout at the O.K. Corral and its aftermath. ... Read more

Reviews (26)

3-0 out of 5 stars Doc Holliday - A Family Portrait
I was hoping to get some interesting insight into Doc Holliday by one of his ancestors and this book does provide information on his early life that you don't usually find. However, there was a little too much information about his family - parents, uncles, aunts - that I personally did not care about. There is also a section of Doc Holliday's genealogy that I felt could have been left out, although actually there was a tidbit of information there that was useful to me. I didn't feel that there was much detail brought in to certain events, but then, there are other books that provide practically second by second coverage of the Tombstone gunfight. His death was not written in detail and his famous last words were left out of the book. That said, I would still recommend this book to someone wanting to know more about the life of Doc Holliday away from Tombstone. It is also an easy, to the point read.

5-0 out of 5 stars If your only gonna read ONE!!!
Then this is THE Doc Holliday Book. Mrs. Tanner has done an excellent job of painting a true and realistic historically correct "diary" of his life and times. Some of the family input lends much provenance. My hat off to Mrs. Tanner/Holliday Respectfully, David W.

5-0 out of 5 stars Review of "Doc Holliday: A Family Portrait"
I was very impressed with Ms. Tanner's work on Doc. Most people
think of Doc as being an assasin but this simply was not the case. Doc obtained his manners in Georgia, as well as his card
playing ability, and unfortunately TB. Doc was a brilliant man
who proved himself in the world of Dentistry. Ms. Tanner uses
a lot of information only she was privy to convey the transition
of this unusual man from being a Georgia Doctor to becoming a
"sporting man." Yes, Doc did kill some people. The times were
much harsher back then. If you gambled, you better have a six
gun on standby and be ready to use it if a crooked player crawfished a bet and tried to throw down on you. In my view,
Ms. Tanner also conveyed one of the most outstanding characteristics about Doc...his loyalty. He proved this time and time again with the Earps. I loved Ms. Tanner's book, and if Doc
were still alive, he would be welcome around my campfire anytime.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not what it could've been
I would have preferred that if the author was wanting to refute some of legendary happenings attached to J.H. "Doc" Holliday that she would have done so to each instance. Instead she ignored many circumstances completely. What was in reality only a 233 page effort with 100+ pages of geneology, bibliography and contents could have been with more research and work easily a 450+ page novel.
What is written is well written and is an easy read. "A Family Portrait" is for the most part exactly that. I bought the book for a greater understanding of the character and that I received. I put the book down believing that although many of the acts attributed to Doc Holliday through legend and Hollywood may be false this version of his life does the complete opposite by not going far enough.
I do have what I believe a greater understanding of the man but by far not the complete picture. I'll just have to keep reading.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Real Doc Holliday
Even today people want to cling to the notion that J.H. "Doc" Holliday was a famous, notorious gunfighter despite the myths not being proven or sources listed. Although Tanner spends most of her book telling readers the history of the well-to-do Holliday family of Georgia, she pieces together the life of Doc Holliday as best as possible with the documentation available, including presenting new information, if not evidence, of what may have actually taken place (such as the killing of Old Man Clanton and Johnny Ringo).

Back in the 1800s stories were often-times embellished, especially in "the wild west" to placate people or to seek revenge. Additionally, this mis-information spread like wild fire throughout the country (much as it still does today); people love gossip and thrive on rumor (even "Wild Bill" Hickok was not the notorious gunfighter people made him out to be). Virtually every town in the West in the 1800s had at least one newspaper that told of the events occuring on a weekly, if not daily basis. Additionally, even back then, legal documents were filed, such as marriages, property ownership, court procedings, etc., all of which provide and, more importantly, can substantiate claims of events having taken place. Tanner clearly scoured these documents to prove, if not disprove, what Doc did or did not do during his time in the West as his family was left in the dark as to what he was up to, aside from infrequent written correspondence to his cousins.

Unless we can go back in time we never know what REALLY happened, whether it be that Doc killed 15 people before arriving in Tombstone or . After reading the comments of several other reviewers who were disappointed with Tanner's book, they clearly did not read that the title is "...A Family Portrait." Tanner's book is just that: a family portrait of a man who became a western icon and legend; a man who grew up in a southern, aristocratic family that felt shame upon hearing of their beloved John Henry's western exploits (as would have been the case in ANY wealthy family) and thereby never spoke of his name. In that respect, the one disappointment in Tanner's work is the fact that a few famous tales were left out. Shedding light on Doc's true relationship with his cousin Mattie (what made her become a nun?) and those famous last words of his (if Kate was really with Doc when he died, did he really say, "This is funny"? which Kate claims is not what he said).

All in all, a great read for Doc afficionados. ... Read more

148. Chronicle of the Roman Emperors: The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers of Imperial Rome (Chronical Series)
by Chris Scarre, Christopher Scarre
list price: $34.95
our price: $23.07
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0500050775
Catlog: Book (1995-10-01)
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Sales Rank: 47419
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars Holy Crap, this book Rocks!!!!
For anyone who likes ancient history, this book is for you. It is an excellent reference for the Roman Empire and a jolly good read as well. The pictures also add a great deal to this awesome book. Being a confirmed history freak I often enjoy just reading the small biographies presented in this book and looking at the pretty pictures. I especially enjoy reading about some of the kooky things those wacky emperors do like when Caligula declared himself a living god(Caligula, you so crazy). To sum up this book is totally sweet and Chris Scarre is the biggest stud in the whole world. In fact in my book 5 stars aren't enough for this amazing book I think it needs like a million stars(yeah definetely a million).

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent for a good read or as a historical reference book
Chris Scarre's Chronicle is a very good overview of the Roman emperors, and helps to place their often confused regnal periods into a proper perspective.

What I found most useful about the book was its chronological grouping of emperors (no more having to look in four different places for four "emperors" who reigned simultaneously -- until one defeated the other or they all fell).

A second useful feature is its thumbnail summary of each "emperor's" birth, death, and regnal periods, his family, and his titles. The titles are often a good guide to the character of the emperors, with stay-at-Rome sybarites with titles such as "Gothicus" and "Germanicus" revealed as vainglorious, while warrior emperors with the same titles are revealed as true veterans prepared to fight for the imperial purple. One helpful feature is an explanation of the significance of the titles. The actual word designating an emperor, for instance, was NOT "Imperator," which was a military honor which could be won by any very succesful general, but "Augustus," with "Caesar" gradually acquiring the meaning of "heir apparent," with many a war fought over who should have which title. (As an interesting historical aside, you may want to note that while "Augustus" eventually became a personal name, "Caesar" became an imperial title in later kingdoms: both "Tsar" and "Kaisar" are actually derived from the name of the last dictator of the Republic, Gaius Julius Caesar, adoptive father of Octavian, who became the first "Augustus" and is usually designated by that title as if it were his proper name.)

The third good feature of the Chronicle is the same as in other books of the series: a plethora of gorgeous photography of things from major architectural wonders to small handcrafts.

The one great inconvenience of the book is the editorial choice of where to place those photos: they too often appear smack in the middle of an imperial biography, or separate the biographies of emperors whose lives should be studied together because of the interlocked details presented by Scarre. This placement was an irritant to me when I tried to just read through the book for pleasure -- the pictures presented jarring interuptions mid-story.

Still and all, one can hardly do better than this for a broad survey of Imperial Rome.

4-0 out of 5 stars Do you want to be Emporer of Rome? No Thank you!
This book demonstrates that being a Roman Emporer was not necessarily something to envy. Once proclaimed, the emporer had to delicately balance happiness between the public at large, the senate, and - most importantly - the praetorian guard (basically the emporer's bodyguards). There are many examples in this book of emporers upsetting one of these groups too much and ending up with their heads on pikes. It seems to have been a shaky, difficult office to maintain. Very few emporers ended their days in peace, and many were brutally murdered (I cringed more than once while reading this book). One big lesson that too many emporers learned the hard way: do not mess with the praetorian guard.

This book begins with a brief summary of the city of Rome: how it grew from a monarchy to a Republic and how Octavian secured absolute power from the Senate and became Augustus, marking the beginning of Imperial Rome, which was to be the Western empire's final phase. The book has three sections: The First Emporers (from Augustus to Domitian); The High Point of Empire (Nerva to Alexander Severus); Crisis and Renewal (Maximinus Thrax to Constantine & Licinius); The Last Emporers (Constantine II to Romulus Augustulus). The book also has a continous timeline that runs through sections of the book for an at-a-glance history.

It's important to note that this is not a history of the Roman Empire; it's a history of the Roman Emporers. Events not directly (or somewhat) tied to an emporer are not covered. You won't learn about the daily life of a Roman, for example. Still, through the lineage of emporers a history of the empire in general can be extracted. Who fought who, who tried to overthrow who, descriptions of how emporer's wives or mothers influenced (and sometimes took over) government, the conversion from traditional pagan Rome to a Christian Rome (it wasn't ALL Constantine), etc. The fall of Rome is not covered in great detail (the final section is the shortest and the detail becomes almost minimal), but the basic idea that the empire was overrun by various peoples emerges.

The pictures, maps, and graphs throughout the book are incredible and complement the text very well. There are maps of conquests, borders of the empire at specific times, coins, maps of the city of Rome, pictures of busts and mosaics of emporers, architectural reconstructions, pictures of buildings in their current state, etc.

Though this book will not make you an expert on the Roman Empire, it provides a great outline from which to learn more. Once it's read, keep it handy for reference. There are many lessons that can be learned from the lives and mistakes of the men (and women) who ruled Rome.

5-0 out of 5 stars Holy [Moly], this book Rocks!
For anyone who likes ancient history, this book is for you. It is an excellent reference for the Roman Empire and a jolly good read as well. The pictures also add a great deal to this awesome book. Being a confirmed history [fanatic] I often enjoy just reading the small biographies presented in this book and looking at the pretty pictures. I especially enjoy reading about some of the kooky things those wacky emperors do like when Caligula declared himself a living god(Caligula, you so crazy). To sum up this book is totally sweet and Chris Scarre is the biggest stud in the whole world. In fact in my book 5 stars aren't enough for this amazing book I think it needs like a million stars(yeah definetely a million).

4-0 out of 5 stars Good stuff
This book is great either as refresher material, companion to more in depth histories, or something to make you look deeper to your friends and potential sexual conquests. I bought it for all the pretty pictures, and because I'd just finished the Decline and Fall of the Western Roman Empire by (Sir?) Edward Gibbon. The latter being an incredibly dense, though enjoyable read. I wanted something light, colorful, and quick to read. Not to mention it's really easy to forget if Nero came before or after Caligula, and whether or not Probus was a tyrant or just misunderstood (possibly only by me). This book, as it turns out, goes out of its way to be as objective as possible. A lot of the judgments passed down through history ma in fact have been incredibly biased by Republicans (NOT the GOP) and Christians alike. For instance Constantine has always been portrayed as some saintly virtuous hero, when in fact he was a scheming back-stabber looking to get all of the Roman Empire under his banner no mater what the cost. Turn the other cheek indeed. Also it gives the true account of the life of Commodus that Hollywood did such an extravagant job of getting wrong in the movie Gladiator. At any rate, this book was pretty good, and offered several hours of entertainment. I would recommend it most to someone who is curious about ancient Rome, but not yet willing to delve into the dusty old tomes of Roman history. If you like this book, you should definitely check out the saga that Colleen McCullough wrote about a decade or so ago. They're truly excellent, and take place at the end of the Republic. ... Read more

149. Kingdom of Fear : Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century
by Hunter S. Thompson
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0684873249
Catlog: Book (2003-11-01)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 23519
Average Customer Review: 3.83 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Brilliant, provocative, outrageous, and brazen, Hunter S. Thompson's infamous rule breaking -- in his journalism, in his life, and of the law -- changed the shape of American letters and the face of American icons. Kingdom of Fear traces the course of Thompson's life as a rebel -- from a smart-mouthed Kentucky kid flouting all authority to a convention-defying journalist who came to personify a wild fusion of fact, fiction, and mind-altering substances.

Call it the evolution of an outlaw. Here are the formative experiences that comprise Thompson's legendary trajectory alongside the weird and the ugly. Whether detailing his exploits as a foreign correspondent in Rio, his job as night manager of the notorious O'Farrell Theatre in San Francisco, his epic run for sheriff of Aspen on the Freak Power ticket, or the sensational legal maneuvering that led to his full acquittal in the famous 99 Days trial, Thompson is at the peak of his narrative powers in Kingdom of Fear. And this boisterous, blistering ride illuminates as never before the professional and ideological risk taking of a literary genius and transgressive icon. ... Read more

Reviews (40)

4-0 out of 5 stars Memoirs of a true outlaw
Unlike many reviewers of this book, this was my first experience reading one of Hunter S. Thompson's books. Having seen the bizarre and hilarious film, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, however, I had some idea of what to expect (I look forward to reading that book). So the fact that some of this material may have been in previous books did not bother me. On the other hand, not being familiar with the well known episodes of Thompson's life made the erratic and disjointed style of the book -he jumps from one time period to another without warning-- harder to follow than if I'd had some background. You simply cannot read an author like Thompson expecting a conventional style, and I appreciated his unique, if often drug-induced perspective. With Thompson, all of the usual barriers are meaningless, such as those that separate fact from fantasy, the humorous from the serious and even past from present. There is simply a barrage of words, emotions, perceptions and anecdotes, revealed in a seemingly random order.

Yet Kingdom Of Fear is not entirely without theme or structure. There is an underlying message, as the title suggests, that the nation is moving into a dark period that seriously jeopardizes our privacy and civil liberties. Thompson relates this post-Sept. 11, 2001 environment to episodes in his own life when authorities violated his rights. Unlike a book by the average political commentator or activist, however, Thompson makes his case with emotional verbal outbursts and poetic observations more than logical arguments. This is refreshing; Thompson's style is an anachronistic challenge to the overly regulated, homogenized and conforming culture that has been building, not only since 9/11, but over the last few decades.

5-0 out of 5 stars A view like no other!
HST is bitingly funny in his recounting of episodes fighting against the System. In "The Witness" a has been well known porn star tries her damndest to set Hunter up for a BIG fall on drug charges and sexual assault. Thompson embarasses and shames the District Attorney and LEO's of Pitkin County (here in Colorado where he lives in Aspen).Thompson is, as always, his own person. Describing his days in SF working as Night Manager for the Mitchell Brothers famous O'Farrell Theater - THE center of pornography in it's heyday. Long running legal battles with Diane Feinstein and the leading edge of Freedom of Expression involving Sex in America. Oh enough BS! Thompson loved hanging out with strippers and other free spirits!

This is Thompson's first book since the September 11 attacks. He (accurately, in my opinion) feels that life in America will never be the same. Our generation and todays children, will be in a state of war for our lifetimes. He speculates that, for the first time in recent American history, the next generation will be less well off than the current generation. And America will relearn the sacrifices of previous generations. Not necessarily a bad thing.

Kingdom of Fear is a series of funny, irreverent memoirs describing events in Hunter S Thompson's life. He admits that some embellishing took place. A bit of what he writes about takes place in Aspen with quite a bit of Colorado "references" and landmarks, and personalities. Which (as a long time resident) I found enjoyable. The Ducati blast through "ranch" traffic and close calls with the "sausage maker" are hilarious.
The book has quite a few photographs including the back cover of Hunter buck naked except his famous hat firing a shotgun.
To sum up: As HST's good friend Warren Zevon wrote: "lawyers, guns and money"

A fun read from a guy who has led an interesting life!

4-0 out of 5 stars Troubled thoughts and ruminations along the Proud Highway.
Hunter Thompson takes stock in his tumultuous life and assesses the current situation in America in a very aptly titled book. At its best, Kingdom of Fear evokes the glory days of Thompson. At its worst, it wallows in some rather pitiful encounters which may have been better left unsaid, such as his flirtation with an 8-year-old Xania.

Thompson launches into the current administration, as it inflicts its reign of terror on the civil liberties in this country. He recalls his bouts with the law, in particular a sordid case involving a former porn queen who takes him to court for allegedly abusing her at his home in Aspen. While he managed to survive these battles, he doesn't hold out much hope for the future because of the notorious Patriot Act.

But, his thoughts range far and wide, taking in his early years in Louisville and the proud highway to his remote home in Aspen, which he currently finds under seige from unscrupulous developers and former porn queens bent on ruining his mostly peaceful life. There is plenty of dark humor and pithy insights into the loathsome nature of the American dream. It is a very uneven book, but then that is what I have come to expect from Thompson, who hasn't been able to repeat his past great efforts such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72.

4-0 out of 5 stars I can't think of a title
What I really like about "Kingdom of fear" is that Thompson talks about events that happened or are happening during my lifetime, he doesn't do that with his other books, I was born in 87 so Thompson had started writing way before I was born and his other books are great (at least the ones I've read, I have not read them all yet) but I can't directly relate which prevents me from fully grasping Thompson's other works but this one I could. Hilarious reading, if you have that Thompson type of humor, Dr. Thompson is alive and well and this is proof

3-0 out of 5 stars hit and miss, but worth it
On one hand, it's true that this is not Hunter's crown jewel. On the other hand, this one is not to be dismissed. While there are parts of this that are certainly slower than others, it is clear that HST is still a lover of the language so that his prose never fails to entertain, even when the subject matter becomes occasionally less intriguing.

What makes this book indespensible (to me) is some of Thompson's anecdotes about his childhood. One revelation in particular, relating to a situation where the FBI tried to haul him away while he was in his early teens, explains things about his adulthood that make it seem only natural for Thompson to become the outlaw he is.

I've passed on Thompson's books over the last 10-12 years. Maybe he didn't seem to have the devil in him anymore. Having said that, though, there are a lot of quotable moments in this particular book. He's got some devil back and when he is on he is ON, and when he is funny he is DAMN FUNNY. This one is hit and miss, but let's face it, even welterweight Thompson is hard to top. ... Read more

150. Nicholas and Alexandra
list price: $18.00
our price: $12.24
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345438310
Catlog: Book (2000-02-01)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Sales Rank: 17308
Average Customer Review: 4.78 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (73)

5-0 out of 5 stars Simply Excellent
The story of Nicholas and Alexandra has all the elements of a great novel: complex characters, plot twists, and an exciting conclusion. But, it's all true. Robert Massie wrote this history in 1967, but it is still relevant to today. In these days of democracy, it is enlightening to learn about the times when monarchy and autocracy were the words of the day. Robert Massie's book is excellently written. It is consistently clear, and at all times a pleasure to read. The biography has a wide scope, it covers just about everything relating to the Tsar and the Tsaritsa from the time of their marriage to the time of their death. You don't often see biographies of two people in one book. But to understand Nicholas, you must understand Alexandra. And, by the end of this book, you will have a better undserstanding of why events played out the way they did.

5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book
The story of Nicholas and Alexandra the last Tsar And Tsarina of Russia is one of the most Tragic love stories the world has ever known. Their glorious begining and their horrifying end, still continues to facinate thousands of people today. This book is like a journey back through time, taking you directly into the world of the Russian Imperial family. It's actually like you are living their lives day by day.
Massie has done a wonderful job in depicting the life of Nicholas and Alexandra. The books text is well researched and easy to read. You can breeze from chapter to chapter with complete understanding of what you have read. The text is also well balanced between political aspects of their life as well as personal aspects. Some romanov books are way to political and deal to much with the difficulties concerning government in Russia. The book stays on task and makes you want to keep reading.
I could honestly not put the book down, it's really that good. It's so rich and well written. The only part of the book that can be misleading is the final chapter, when the family is actually executed. But that can be forgiven for when this book was originally written there was not alot of information avalible concerning their death. Massie makes up for this in his book THE ROMANOVS: THE FINAL CHAPTER, which is another must read. No Romanov library is complete without this book. to read it is to grasp a better understanding of Nicholas and Alexandra.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sad end of a kind man
Why go for fiction when you can get a riveting true story like what happened to the Romanovs? The book starts with Nicholas' unexpected coronation as Tsar in 1894, and slowly but surely the story unfolds towards the gruesome end 25 years later. The saddening thing about this episode in history is that despite Rasputin, despite the heir Alexis with his hemophilia, despite the Empress' foilies, I left the book believing that the Tsar and his whole family got killed because he was just too kind and humble to make the tough decisions that Russia required during those turbulent times. If you consider Stalin, a cynic may argue that evil pays.

5-0 out of 5 stars A well researched, informative and entertaining peice!
First reccomended to me by a Professor of mine, Massie's work reveals all the intimate details and crucial historical story lines that even a novice of the Russian Revolutionary history would grasp to understand the life of the last Imperial Highnesses. From the infamous Bloody Sunday to the love letters that were exchanged between Nicholas and Alexandra the book was clearly exhaustively researched and also gives a touch of real emotion which is magnafied by the authors own personal experiences with the terrible disease of hemophelia. Grandoise as this story is it might well have been fiction, tragically it is not! As sad as the historical truths presented in the pages are, Massie writes words that flow and are easy to understand. I would reccomend this book for anyone looking for a story so incredible and emotionally raw that it had to be true or to anyone who wants to make some sense out of the mysticism of this part of intriging Russian history.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Majestic Work of History
"Nicholas and Alexandra" is a fantastic history book that I can thoroughly recommend to all readers. The book is truly "unputdownable" and if it were not a history book, it could almost have read as a novel.

The end of the Romanov dynasty is a work of tragedy. Here we have this closely bound intimate family playing out a drama against the backdrop of the First World War and the Russian Revolution. Yet tragedy almost becomes farce when the role of Rasputin is considered. The Czarina is quite spellbound by the man despite the damage that his decisions have for the family and the dynasty.

In "Nicholas and Alexandra", we see the unfolding of the downfall of autocracy which, in due course, would have been inevitable. The First World War simply accelerated the process. Yet while we should shed no tears for the fall of autocrats, the rise of an even more vile autocracy under Lenin heaps tragedy upon tragedy. The history of modern Russia is tragedy writ large.

Robert K Massie covers the events leading to the execution of the royal family in great detail but without ever deluging the reader with arcane facts that detract from the picture that he paints. The end result is a work of substance and colour.

I emphatically recommend this book to all readers of modern history. Robert K Massie has excelled! ... Read more

151. Out of the Flames: The Remarkable Story of a Fearless Scholar, a Fatal Heresy, and One of the Rarest Books in the World
by Lawrence Goldstone, Nancy Goldstone
list price: $24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0767908368
Catlog: Book (2002-09-17)
Publisher: Broadway
Sales Rank: 63567
Average Customer Review: 4.62 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Michael Servetus is one of those hidden figureheads of history who is remembered not for his name, but for the revolutionary deeds that stand in his place. Both a scientist and a freethinking theologian, Servetus is credited with the discovery of pulmonary circulation in the human body as well as the authorship of a polemical masterpiece that cost him his life. The Chrisitianismi Restituto, a heretical work of biblical scholarship, written in 1553, aimed to refute the orthodox Christianity that Servetus' old colleague, John Calvin, supported. After the book spread through the ranks of Protestant hierarchy, Servetus was tried and agonizingly burned at the stake, the last known copy of the Restitutio chained to his leg.

Servetus's execution is significant because it marked a turning point in the quest for freedom of expression, due largely to the development of the printing press and the proliferation of books in Renaissance Europe. Three copies of the Restitutio managed to survive the burning, despite every effort on the part of his enemies to destroy them. As a result, the book became almost a surrogate for its author, going into hiding and relying on covert distribution until it could be read freely, centuries later. Out of the Flames tracks the history of this special work, examining Servetus's life and times and the politics of the first information during the sixteenth century. Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone follow the clandestine journey of the three copies through the subsequent centuries and explore its author's legacy and influence over the thinkers that shared his spirit and genius, such as Leibniz, Voltaire, Rousseau, Jefferson, Clarence Dorrow, and William Osler.

Out of the Flames
is an extraordinary story providing testament to the power of ideas, the enduring legacy of books, and the triumph of individual courage.
... Read more

Reviews (21)

5-0 out of 5 stars Out of the Flames
The Goldstones have written another wonderful book. The story of Michael Servetus and his books is masterfully told. The life, work and period of Servetus come alive. A great work on an obscure, but important figure in history. The twists and turns, deceit, treachery and conflict all play out in the life of Servetus who escaped the Inquisition only to be burned at the stake by Calvin along with all the copies of his last book. But, his last book survives not completely destroyed by Calvin. The story of the remaining copies of the rarest book in the world is as interesting as the life of Servetus himself. Servetus has also left lasting legacies, which make him an important figure in both religious and medical history.

5-0 out of 5 stars Michael Servetus - Etched in my mind forever.....
What a fascinating book. It is superbly written and almost impossible to put down. Nonfiction history books that read like bestselling thrillers are hard to find indeed. But that is definitely the case here.

Throughout the ages, how many individuals have markedly changed the world we live in, yet are not found in most history books? The name Michael Servetus is one that should be known by any serious student of Western Civilization, yet sadly his story has been missed by so many historians.

Kudos to the authors for a job well done.

5-0 out of 5 stars Truly a wonderful book
The story of Michael Servetus is one that every free-thinking human being should know--it is both inspiring and thought provoking. The narrow minded individuals that led to his demise have many present day counterparts. There are many lessons to be learned from this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars The history of political correctness
Well well well, what a timely book is this! If you thought political correctness was something new, read this book to discover how the real pros operated before the introduction of science.

Mind you, the anti-liberal (in the proper use of this term, not the American usage) forces are hard at work today as well. In Britain, we no longer burn folks at the stake, we put them on the 'National Register' or accuse them of 'hate crime'. You don't need to physically kill people anymore, there are other ways to eliminate heresy.

If you think I'm just messing around, ask yourself this: how would you be punished today for voicing an unpopular opinion? Would you be ignored? Would someone debate with you and make you look foolish? Or would you be fired from your job, be attacked by hungry lawyers, have your windows smashed, or even go to prison?

Many books are banned in Europe today. In America, the 'Scopes Trial' is not that far in the past. Canada recently flirted with metaphorical crime (arguing that fictional rape was equivalent to real rape). France has banned 'controversial' items being sold on Yahoo. The UK has banned certain comic books. In America, to criticize Israel (the government of the nation-state) is frequently misunderstood as criticism of Judaism (the religion). A normal, regular couple in England almost went to prison for taking photos of their kids playing in the bath (they were spared because they were employed at a large media company that came to their rescue).

Okay, now go back to the 16th century and join the authors Goldstone in their remarkable tale of the last three surviving copies of a book by one Michael Servetus, doctor, philosopher, theologian, who was burned at the stake (with the help of one John Calvin - yes that Calvin, the father of Puritanism) because he dared to suggest that the ecclesiastical scholars of the day were perhaps not as well read as they should be.

Oh, but that was the 16th century. Today, of course, anyone can hold any opinion on the Holocaust (even deny it ever happened) or colonialism (even saying it was a wonderful idea) or the Confederate flag (even arguing that it is a symbol of liberty) without any fear of assault or punishment. That's because we have freedom of speech now, right? We use logic and words, not laws and bullyboy tactics, right? No one would dream of blowing up an abortion clinic.

As well as being very relevant, this book is a joy to read. The language is clear and modern, and it appears well researched. The bit on Calvin is sublime (yup, he really was a pain ...; Mike Bloomberg take note of Calvin's Geneva). Equally interesting is the history of books (printed books since 1455). If you think the internet is pretty cool, check out the printing press.

Most important of all, this book is refreshing in its originality and scope. With all the grunge that is published these days, it is a real thrill to read something as informative and cogent as this little gem. Hats off to the Goldstones, I wish them every success with future investigations and literary pursuits.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
This is an excellent book, it gave us a compact and well written story about Miguel Servet and Calvino.
Miguel Servet was assasinated for his way of thinking, again we have another great thinker killed because of his written thoughts
It is fast paced and not only gave us the story but also a brief analysis of the political and religious situation of the era and the repercutions on the future
Well done Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone ... Read more

152. War Letters : Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars
by Andrew Carroll
list price: $17.00
our price: $11.56
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743410068
Catlog: Book (2002-05-01)
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Sales Rank: 49172
Average Customer Review: 4.85 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In 1998, Andrew Carroll founded the Legacy Project, with the goal of remembering Americans who have served their nation and preserving their letters for posterity. Since then, over 50,000 letters have poured in from around the country. Nearly two hundred of them comprise this amazing collection -- including never-before-published letters that appear in the new afterword.

Here are letters from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, the Cold War, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf war, Somalia, and Bosnia -- dramatic eyewitness accounts from the front lines, poignant expressions of love for family and country, insightful reflections on the nature of warfare. Amid the voices of common soldiers, marines, airmen, sailors, nurses, journalists, spies, and chaplains are letters by such legendary figures as Gen. William T. Sherman, Clara Barton, Theodore Roosevelt, Ernie Pyle, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Julia Child, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, and Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Sr.Collected in War Letters, they are an astonishing historical record, a powerful tribute to those who fought, and a celebration of the enduring power of letters. ... Read more

Reviews (27)

5-0 out of 5 stars Welcome to military live
Let me start this review by confessing that I am biased. One of my letters from Vietnam is included in the book. I therefore view the book differently from the average reader.

I also got an advance copy of the book a week before the official release date, and have been able to read it.

Andrew Carroll produced this book by reading through almost 50,000 letters and selected roughly 200 that best show what everyday life in the military - and in war - are like from the viewpoint of the average soldier, sailor, marine, and airman.

Andy was able to get these letters by persuading Dear Abby to publish an appeal in her column on Veteran's Day in 1998. The column urged readers to contribute these letters so that the sacrifices of the writers would not be forgotten. The result was a flood of 50,000 letters - some faded, some muddy, some blood-stained, and one pierced by a bullet. One letter was written on Hitler's personal stationary by an American sergeant who worked in Hitler's personal quarters in Germany just after WW II. What could be a better symbol of justice?

The letter writers' views are very different than the views you will get by reading the memoirs of a general or an admiral. When I was in the Army, there was a wonderful comment that explained life in the Infantry:

"The general gets the glory, The family gets the body, and We get another mission."

Your view of the military - and of war - changes depending on your position in this food chain.

Overcoming an enemy machine gun is an interesting technical problem when you are circling a firefight in a helicopter at 1,000 feet. You take a very different view of the problem when you are so close to the machine gun that your body pulses from the shock wave of the muzzle blast.

These letters were written by soldiers while they were in the military. They are describing events that happened that day, the pervious day, or the previous week. Their memories are very fresh. Their views also are very different from the views that someone might have when writing his memoirs thirty years later. In thirty years the everyday pains, problems, and terrors could very well be forgotten or become humorous.

The book groups these letters by war or police action. There are sections for letters from the Civil War, WW I (the war to end wars), WW II, Vietnam War, Desert Storm, and Somolia/Bosnia/Kosovo.

Some things never change. The Civil War letter writers grumble about poor food, tiresome marches, mindless sergeants and incompetent officers. The Vietnam letter writers (myself included) grumbled about the same things.

One anguished letter was from an officer in Vietnam who was torn by his need to hide his opposition to the war for fear of demoralizing his men. At the end of the letter is a brief comment explaining that the officer stepped on a mine and died shortly after writing this letter.

Welcome to life in the military. Welcome to war.

You should read this book if you want to see what life was like and is like in the military and in war.

5-0 out of 5 stars Welcome to life in the military
Let me start this review by confessing that I am biased. One of my letters from Vietnam is included in the book. I therefore view the book differently from the average reader.

I also got an advance copy of the book a week before the official release date, and have been able to read it.

Andrew Carroll produced this book by reading through almost 50,000 letters and selected roughly 200 that best show what everyday life in the military - and in war - are like from the viewpoint of the average soldier, sailor, marine, and airman.

Andy was able to get these letters by persuading Dear Abby to publish an appeal in her column on Veteran's Day in 1998. The column urged readers to contribute these letters so that the sacrifices of the writers would not be forgotten. The result was a flood of 50,000 letters - some faded, some muddy, some blood-stained, and one pierced by a bullet. One letter was written on Hitler's personal stationary by an American sergeant who worked in Hitler's personal quarters in Germany just after WW II. What could be a better symbol of justice?

The letter writers' views are very different than the views you will get by reading the memoirs of a general or an admiral. When I was in the Army, there was a wonderful comment that explained life in the Infantry:

"The general gets the glory, The family gets the body, and We get another mission."

Your view of the military - and of war - changes depending on your position in this food chain.

Overcoming an enemy machine gun is an interesting technical problem when you are circling a firefight in a helicopter at 1,000 feet. You take a very different view of the problem when you are so close to the machine gun that your body pulses from the shock wave of the muzzle blast.

These letters were written by soldiers while they were in the military. They are describing events that happened that day, the pervious day, or the previous week. Their memories are very fresh. Their views also are very different from the views that someone might have when writing his memoirs thirty years later. In thirty years the everyday pains, problems, and terrors could very well be forgotten or become humorous.

The book groups these letters by war or police action. There are sections for letters from the Civil War, WW I (the war to end wars), WW II, Vietnam War, Desert Storm, and Somolia/Bosnia/Kosovo.

Some things never change. The Civil War letter writers grumble about poor food, tiresome marches, mindless sergeants and incompetent officers. The Vietnam letter writers (myself included) grumbled about the same things.

One anguished letter was from an officer in Vietnam who was torn by his need to hide his opposition to the war for fear of demoralizing his men. At the end of the letter is a brief comment explaining that the officer stepped on a mine and died shortly after writing this letter.

Welcome to life in the military. Welcome to war.

You should read this book if you want to see what life was like and is like in the military and in war.

5-0 out of 5 stars Can't Say Enough Good Things
I can't say enough good things about the book, video and articles produced by Andrew Carroll. In addition, he's a kind, caring and compasionate gentleman. If you want a true taste of what the soldiers and their families are feeling during war time, get this book. This is "reality reading".

4-0 out of 5 stars Very good book, excellent audiobook selection.
I was given this book by my daughter, and I had read from it from time to time. It is in fact a book that very much lends itself to that sort of intermittent reading, as the letters stand well enough on their own and are not part of any particular plot or developing idea. However, when my audiobook account had a balance on it that had to be used, I decided to download this book and have the letters read to me. With more than a dozen readers of excellent quality, and given the wonderful selection of the letters themselves, the narration occupied several days of my commute in a bittersweet but overall pleasant manner.

5-0 out of 5 stars Words Unspoken
An incredible novel of accounts from countless men and women who gave their all-their lives for past and future generations to come.
As a grandson of WWII and Korean War Grandfathers, I strive to understand and relate to their past. This book has helped me do just that and more!

May we never, never, never forget the sacrifices made to ensure freedom for our country. It would be a grave dishonor to forget those who shed their blood for our sake. ... Read more

153. Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America: A Biography
by William E. Gienapp
list price: $17.95
our price: $17.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0195151003
Catlog: Book (2002-10-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 289881
Average Customer Review: 3.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America, historian William Gienapp provides a remarkably concise, up-to-date, and vibrant biography of the most revered figure in United States history. While the heart of the book focuses on the Civil War, Gienapp begins with a finely etched portrait of Lincoln's early life, from pioneer farm boy to politician and lawyer in Springfield, to his stunning election as sixteenth president of the United States. Students will see how Lincoln grew during his years in office, how he developed a keen aptitude for military strategy and displayed enormous skill in dealing with his generals, and how his war strategy evolved from a desire to preserve the Union to emancipation and total war.Gienapp shows how Lincoln's early years influenced his skills as commander-in-chief and demonstrates that, throughout the stresses of the war years, Lincoln's basic character shone through: his good will and fundamental decency, his remarkable self-confidence matched with genuine humility, his immunity to the passions and hatreds the war spawned, his extraordinary patience, and his timeless devotion.A former backwoodsman and country lawyer, Abraham Lincoln rose to become one of our greatest presidents. This biography offers a vivid account of Lincoln's dramatic ascension to the pinnacle of American history. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

1-0 out of 5 stars Slaveowner & Political Stooge
Lincoln was a slaveowner and a political stooge that duped the entire U.S. into a war that shouldn't have been fought. History should condemn this vile man.

5-0 out of 5 stars Abraham Lincoln And Civil War America
William Gienapp's Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America answers a longstanding need for a biography of Lincoln manageable in size, accessible in style, and wise and balanced in content. Lincoln appers on every page of the book and is never lost sight of in the welter of events. He emerges from the text a real believable person, an individual and persuasive assessment of Lincoln's leadership abilities, the finest such appraisal avilable anywhere.

5-0 out of 5 stars Abraham Lincoln in one slim volume.
This book is a welcome addition ot the already crowded Lincolnia bookself. The author is the presumed successor to the retired David Herbert Donald at Harvard University. Gienapp has produced a highly readable and concise version of a Lincoln biography that can be completed on a moderately long airplane trip(and it's quite portable unlike most hardcover books). While relatively short,this book is a sufficiently thorough treatment of the Civil War Lincoln. I especially enjoyed the author's analysis of the politician Lincoln who mastered his rivals, both Republican and Democrat. This a good book for either a new Lincoln /Civil War "buff" or a good refresher for a scholar of the times. ... Read more

154. God's Secretaries : The Making of the King James Bible
by Adam Nicolson
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060185163
Catlog: Book (2003-05-01)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Sales Rank: 6989
Average Customer Review: 3.65 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A net of complex currents flowed across Jacobean England. This was the England of Shakespeare, Jonson and Bacon; of the Gunpowder Plot; the worst outbreak of the plague England had ever seen; Arcadian landscapes; murderous, toxic slums; and, above all, of sometimes overwhelming religious passion. Jacobean England was both more godly and less godly than it had ever been, and the entire culture was drawn taut between the polarities.

This was the world that created the King James Bible. It is the greatest work of English prose ever written, and it is no coincidence that the translation was made at the moment “Englishness” and the English language had come into its first passionate maturity. Boisterous, elegant, subtle, majestic, finely nuanced, sonorous and musical, the English of Jacobean England has a more encompassing idea of its own reach and scope than any before or since. It is a form of the language that drips with potency and sensitivity. The age, with all its conflicts, explains the book.

The sponsor and guide of the whole Bible project was the King himself, the brilliant, ugly and profoundly peace-loving James the Sixth of Scotland and First of England. Trained almost from birth to manage the rivalries of political factions at home, James saw in England the chance for a sort of irenic Eden over which the new translation of the Bible was to preside. It was to be a Bible for everyone, and as God's lieutenant on earth, he would use it to unify his kingdom. The dream of Jacobean peace, guaranteed by an elision of royal power and divine glory, lies behind a Bible of extraordinary grace and everlasting literary power.

About fifty scholars from Cambridge, Oxford and London did the work, drawing on many previous versions, and created a text which, for all its failings, has never been equaled. That is the central question of this book: How did this group of near-anonymous divines, muddled, drunk, self-serving, ambitious, ruthless, obsequious, pedantic and flawed as they were, manage to bring off this astonishing translation? How did such ordinary men make such extraordinary prose? In God's Secretaries, Adam Nicolson gives a fascinating and dramatic account of the accession and ambition of the first Stuart king; of the scholars who labored for seven years to create his Bible; of the influences that shaped their work and of the beliefs that colored their world, immersing us in an age whose greatest monument is not a painting or a building, but a book.

... Read more

Reviews (43)

3-0 out of 5 stars A tribute to a translation and the Jacobean Era
The book described how James Stuart came to power, his personality and foibles. The book then described the Jacobean era. It was a complex era of opposing forces and King James was a man who tried to unite his kingdom. King James appointed several teams of translators to translate the Bible. The translation itself was to be an irenicon. The book described the personalities of several of the translators. Some were holy and some were assuredly not holy. The author then tried to show how the translation affected our culture to this day.

The writing is well done and the story is fascinating. My only small criticism is that the author makes some rather weak conclusions to show how the different influences contributed to the book. The book show the author's love for wording and cadences of the King James version. At times, the author's effusiveness gets to be irritating, but the book is always entertaining and informative. The author's love for the language of the King James version is contagious.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ordinary People
Most secularists believe that life is just a series of random events, though some are bold enough to believe in a "higher power" who once set it all in motion. In contrast, Christians believe the world unfolds according to the divine plan of a personal God. Throughout God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible, such a plan is evident.

In a beautifully written book, Adam Nicolson explores the efforts of a group of fallible human beings--clergymen, power-brokers, drunkards and even a few rogues--who produced a divine work of art that was to become a standard for generations. A committee of 54 men translated the King James Bible, a book that has inspired the world and influenced the work of countless great writers and thinkers, including William Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, William Faulkner, Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy.

In God's Secretaries, Nicolson draws the reader into a world of political, religious, social and cultural change. Crowned in 1603, the impoverished King James VI of Scotland had ascended to the throne of England as King James I, inheriting great wealth and a country divided by religious and political turmoil. Nicolson writes, "The period was held in the grip of an immense struggle: between the demands for freedom of the individual conscience and the need for order and an imposed inheritance; between monarchy and democracy; between extremism and tolerance." The reign of King James marked the beginning of a united England and Scotland.

Long before James's ascension, after King Henry VIII had broken from the Roman Catholic church in 1534, the Church of England was created with the king as its head. By the time James became king, England was a crucible of Catholic loyalists, royalists, Puritans and Presbyterians, all of whom were in disagreement over how God's word should be translated. Several translations were in existence, but King James wanted one Bible for everyone. Drawing on existing translations, including the Reformation-era Geneva Bible, the king's men labored for seven years to create the King James Bible. Not surprisingly, King James wasn't overly concerned with proper biblical interpretation; he wanted to maintain the order of his kingdom and preserve the "divine right of kings." While James was open to examination of the theological basis of the Church of England itself, he wouldn't tolerate the questioning of his own authority.

Nicolson does an excellent job illuminating a world now ancient to modern eyes as he takes the reader into the conflicted society of Jacobean England. A great admirer of the literature of the Bible, Nicolson's own prose is magnificent. Rarely does one come across an engrossing book that elevates the ordinary, banal language often heard and spoken today. Nicolson further draws out the beauty and musicality of the language as he compares select passages from other translations to the King James Bible to show the linguistic superiority of the latter.

Readers will also learn interesting facts. For instance, the English in the King James Bible was already archaic in 1611, and the Puritans--opponents of the Church of England and future pilgrims to the New World--did not bring the King James Bible with them. Thus, the KJV didn't become popular in America until after the Civil War.

God's Secretaries is definitely not a Bible study, so Christian readers shouldn't expect an exposition of Biblical truth. Regardless, this book is an enjoyable excursion into an age that produced the greatest work of English prose. For those readers who believe the Bible is the infallible word of God, Nicolson's book offers an intriguing snapshot of a brief time in history guided by the very hand of God.

© 2003 La Shawn Barber
Originally published on

3-0 out of 5 stars A Work by Committee
The strengths of the book are plenty. The story is fascinating. Even how King James set up the teams and organized the translation is interesting. Nicolson does a great job giving us the culture and the personalities that translated the King James version. The various contradictory forces and foibles of the culture and of the translators contributed to the translation's beauty. His writing is engaging and strong. He also adds colorful tidbits that keeps the reader's interest. For example, he describes how the Puritans named their children after moral qualities like "Eschew Sin" and "Sin-deny."

He also gives the reader a sense of the majesty and the music of the King James Version.

My criticisms of the book are minor. First, he tries too hard sometimes to show how the personalities of the translators affected the translation. In other words, he makes leaps of logic to reach tenuous conclusions that really do not add to the thesis of the book. Second, he does not seem to understand Puritans at all. He states in the final chapters that he does not go to church. Perhaps that is why the Puritan mind set is so foreign to him. Third, his language is so effusive about the KJV that sometimes that it gets hard to read.

A good book to read with this would be Moynahan's "God's Bestseller: William Tyndale, Thomas More, and the writing of the English Bible." Nicolson worships the language of the King James. Moynahan worship's Tyndale's translation. Between the two of them, you would get a balanced view of the translation process.

I recommend the book strongly. It is definitely a fun read.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Beauty of Words Evoking the Beauty of The Word
God's Secretaries is a beautiful evocation of the making of the King James Bible, considered by many to be the most compelling version of the Bible ever published. Nicolson makes a powerful argument in support of this assertion. Nicolson's passion for the King James Bible permeates this work. It must be no easy task to use prose to describe a book that is held in such high regard. I think Nicolson has pulled this task off with grace and ease.

The first portion of the book puts the process of translation into the context of the early Jacobean era. Nicolson traces the end of the Elizabethan era and the ascension of James I (James VI of Scotland) to the throne of England in 1603. There were numerous issues of state and theology (the two are inexorably mixed) that James needed to navigate.

James I, was the head of the English church (referred to here as the Anglican church) that operated on a theological level that was betwixt and between Catholicism and the 'purer' (for wont of a better adjective) Protestantism of Calvin and Luther (to name two) that had spread like wildfire across the continent and had made serious inroads into English religious life. Those Protestants were referred to as nonconformists in England because their practice did not conform to the Anglican tradition. Nicolson does an admirable job of setting out the doctrinal and political justifications for this tripartite divide. At its most superficial level, Catholicism because of its focus on the religious dominance of Rome and the Pope served to lessen the authority of the crown because it split the allegiance of the faithful and belied the critical notion that the King's authority flowed directly from God without reference to or reliance on the Pope.

The differences between nonconformists and Anglicans were more doctrinal but those differences were as politically laden, if not more so, than those with the Catholic Church. Specifically, the centerpiece of the Anglican Church was the Altar. The idea of the 'ceremony' of Christianity took pride of place. There was also a clear hierarchy in the form of the King, Archbishops, and Priests tasked with reading and interpreting God's words. By contrast, the centerpiece of the nonconformist rite was the pulpit. The idea of the word of God took pride of place. Further, nonconformists believed that the individual had the ability to understand the word of God and that the individual could have a personal relationship with God without the guidance of Bishops, Archbishops, or the King. The difference in focus was a direct and immediate threat to the King's authority. If an individual could derive divine guidance without recourse to the church or King the very need for a King and that King's divine right to rule, would be (and was) called into question.

Nicolson devotes the rest of his book to the creation of the King James Bible by a committee of generally unknown churchmen and scholars. Split into groups and assigned different books of the Old and New Testaments the translators (as they were known) were provided with earlier versions (specifically the Geneva and Tyndale versions) and tasked with creating a new, 'improved' version. The translators included both Anglicans and nonconformists. Nicolson provides compelling reasons why this committee was so constructed.

It seems clear that James I intended to co-opt a certain moderate segment of the nonconformist tradition and in so doing render them and their flocks less likely to challenge to the authority of royal rule. If successful such a co-option would make his reign less vulnerable from that side of the religious divide. Nicolson infers that the creation of a universally accepted version of the Bible would mitigate doctrinal differences making a ceremony out of the word itself. Focusing more attention on the 'word' might appease some nonconformists. Creating a version rich and rife with meaning also had certain ceremonial aspects that might appease the Anglican powers that feared undue focus on the word. It was an admirable goal even if the bloody civil war that followed a mere 30 years or so from its publication proved the attempt futile.

The most important element of the book for me lies with Nicolson's unrelenting love for the words created by this 'great commission'. Nicolson does acknowledge that much of the core text of the King James Bible is freely adopted from the Tyndale version. He does show, however, how the change of only one or two words can turn "those words into a tangible experience" that enhances the beauty and power of the previous text. Nicolson is also not averse to castigating contemporary versions of the Bible that denude the language of meaning for the sake of making it a bit easier to read. Nicolson cites T.S. Eliot's admonition of the New English Bible that it "astonishes in its combination of the vulgar, the trivial, and the pedantic."

Nicolson does seem more kindly disposed to James I than may be warranted. He notes James' profligate spending and sensual appetite only in passing. However, my impression was that the beauty and power of the Bible prepared at his direction and published under his name covered a multitude of sins and that James' other actions were not particularly relevant to the creation of 'his' Bible.

3-0 out of 5 stars Minor criticism
Informative but wordy.
One minor criticism; with the level of scholarship evident in the research done in the book, the author should review his statement on page 145 (chapter 9) that King David had decorated the temple......King David was dead when the temple was begun. ... Read more

155. Six Wives of Henry VIII
by Alison Weir
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
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Asin: 0802136834
Catlog: Book (2000-04-01)
Publisher: Grove Press
Sales Rank: 11837
Average Customer Review: 4.82 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The tempestuous, bloody, and splendid reign of Henry VIII of England (1509-1547) is one of the most fascinating in all history, not least for his marriage to six extraordinary women. In this accessible work of brilliant scholarship, Alison Weir draws on early biographies, letters, memoirs, account books, and diplomatic reports to bring these women to life. Catherine of Aragon emerges as a staunch though misguided woman of principle; Anne Boleyn, an ambitious adventuress with a penchant for vengeance; Jane Seymour, a strong-minded matriarch in the making; Anne of Cleves, a good-natured and innocent woman naively unaware of the court intrigues that determined her fate; Catherine Howard, an empty-headed wanton; and Catherine Parr, a warm-blooded bluestocking who survived King Henry to marry a fourth time. ... Read more

Reviews (95)

5-0 out of 5 stars From A Teen's Perspective
I have one word to say-WOW! I am thirteen years old and last November my family took a trip to London over Thanksgiving break. While in Westminster Abbey's gift shop, I noticed this book about Henry's the Eighth's wives. The book looked HUGE and I jokingly told my brother I was going to read it. I started looking at it and it looked so interesting I really did end up buying it. Once I got started reading it, I couldn't put it down. I had heard about a King named Henry with six wives before, but this book completely changed my view of him AND his wives. Weir shows us their thoughts and feelings and brings every character to life. After reading the book, I reccomended it to my best friend's mother, who read it and loved it also. After reading it, I began to look for more books on the Tudor period in Great Britain and have become an absolute fanatic on the subject. I learned more from this one book than from all my other history classes combined!

5-0 out of 5 stars Absorbing and fascinating!
This is perhaps one of the finest biographies of the women who shared their lives with one of the most powerful and fascinating monarchs to have ruled England. Weir devotes the utmost care to each of the six wives of Henry VIII, telling their stories with compassion and giving each an individual voice. Most of the energy of this book is clearly directed on Henry's first two marriages, first to Katherine of Aragon and the divorce that helped to create the Church of England, and his stormy second union with Anne Boleyn, mother of the Great Elizabeth, chronicling her astronomical rise in power and her spectacular fall from grace. Powerful and masterfully written, Weir recreates the fantastical Tudor court and sweeps the reader into this realm effortlessly. Immensely readable and absorbing, this is Alison Weir at her very best. Extremely well researched, I would recommend this book to anyone who is the least bit curious about 16th century society as viewed through the eyes of 6 of the most important women of their time.

5-0 out of 5 stars most informative.
My decision to read this book stemmed from a desire to get the feel of England at a most influential and diabolical time in history. Italian Renaissance has always captivated my interest with its stories, inventions, and literature. But upon the anticipation of a recent trip to England I though it necessary to brush up on my English history.

This book was compelling from the start. It rules out all ridiculous American folk tale myths you might have heard about the King Henry who cared only for himself, and little for his religion or country. The opposite is quite true. Weir leads you into Tudor history and holds you there for well over 500 pages. Each of his wives were unique and unlike the other. They had histories before the king, and some despite some misconceived notions continued to have pleasant lives beyond the king. I would recommend this book to anyone who is just beginning a love for England's history or to the most professed scholar on the subject. You will find yourself falling in love with these characters, and wishing more was to come.

5-0 out of 5 stars Simply the best, hands-down
It's thorough. It's accurate. It's all the glamour and betrayl of English court life in a single book. Weir hasn't just raised the bar, she's obliterated it. Everything you could possibly want to know about Henry VIII's wives is in here---the clothes they wore, the gossip surrounding them, and what Ambassador So-and-So thought of their manners. Best of all, it's not the slightest bit boring. If every history book was written this way, the world would be a much better place. Do not hesitate: buy it now.

5-0 out of 5 stars Stunning, fascinating book
I cannot recommend this book strongly enough to anyone who's even slightly interested in the story of Henry VIII and his six wives. This is a gorgeous, cohesive book, easy to read and full of historical detail that enriches the story rather than overwhelms it. There were many times when I forgot I was reading non-fiction, the story was so cleanly presented.

This is a far cry from the dry, confusing history lessons I had in high school. Weir makes these women (and the men around them) come back to life, warts and all. Normally reading a book like this, I'd need a flow chart to keep track of all the dukes, duchesses, ladies, lords and scheming religious zealots, but I had no trouble at all remembering who was who, even during the period where every woman was apparently named Katherine, Anne or Elizabeth. It was especially interesting to see how kind history has been to Anne Boleyn, a woman who may actually have been deserving of the executioner's axe.

My one miniscule gripe (not enough to drop my review from 5 stars) is that once in a while, Weir puts the story ahead of the timeline and will insert details out of sequence. One example of that is that during a segment discussing the latter years of the marriage of Henry and Anne Boleyn, there's a short paragraph discussing a gift Anne gave to Henry early on in their relationship. There really wasn't any reason why that tidbit couldn't have been presented chronologically; the only thing I could think of was that perhaps the author didn't want to interrupt the narrative about the acrimony between Anne and Katherine of Aragon by tossing in the bit about the gift. There are about a half dozen or so instances like this, and while they don't at all disturb the flow of the book, they struck me as a little annoying given the meticulous detail to the timeline in every other instance.

This is a truly masterful book; I plan on immediately purchasing Weir's other books in this genre. ... Read more

156. American Traveler: The Life and Adventures of John Ledyard, the Man Who Dreamed of Walking the World
by James Zug
list price: $25.00
our price: $16.50
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Asin: 0465094058
Catlog: Book (2005-03-30)
Publisher: Basic Books
Sales Rank: 13768
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The astounding story of the eighteenth-century New Englander who traveled farther on four continents than anyone else in his day and who pioneered an American archetype: the restless explorer.

Called a "man of genius" by his close friend Thomas Jefferson, John Ledyard lived, by any standard, a remarkable life. In his thirty-eight years, he accompanied Captain Cook on his last voyage; befriended Jefferson, Lafayette, and Tom Paine in Paris; was the first American citizen to see Alaska, Hawaii, and the west coast of America; and set out to find the source of the Niger by traveling from Cairo across the Sahara. His greatest dream, concocted with Jefferson, was to travel alone around the world and cross the American continent from the Pacific Northwest to the Atlantic. Catherine the Great dashed that dream when she had him arrested in deepest Siberia and escorted back to the Polish border. Ledyard wrote the definitive account of Cook's last voyage and his death at the hands of Hawaiian islanders, and formed a company with John Paul Jones that launched the American fur trade in the Pacific Northwest.

Before the Revolution, Americans by and large didn't travel great distances, rarely venturing west of the Appalachians. Ledyard, with his boundless enthusiasm and wide-ranging intellect, changed all that. In lively prose, journalist James Zug tells the riveting story of this immensely influential character -a Ben Franklin with wanderlust-a uniquely American pioneer. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars The First World Citizen
I've been fascinated by Ledyard since I first encountered him, in 1989, at a University of Washington history lecture.At the time I was struck by the fact that I'd never heard of him before.How could this guy have been forgotten?Poking around the stacks in the library led me to Sparks' and Watrous' work, but I couldn't believe that somebody wasn't out there researching and writing about Ledyard.I've been poking around ever since. At last, Zug has delivered the biography I've been waiting for.

American Traveler serves as an outstanding introduction to one of the most fascinating figures in American history.Zug does a wonderful job describing Ledyard's relationships with movers and shakers of the late 18th century (particularly Jefferson), as well as his role as a catalyst behind the eventual expansion of American power.However, the real strength of the book is Zug's portrait of Ledyard the world traveler--a guy on the road who, though frustrated by the restrictions of time and petty bureaucracy, takes a genuine interest in the people he encounters.Yes--Ledyard was a spectacular failure as a businessman, but he understood something that many (apparently including P.J. O'Rourke) do not: traveling isn't about arriving at your destination--it's all about the road trip and the people you meet along the way.In this sense, there has never been a more spectacular success than John Ledyard. ... Read more

157. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave: Written by Himself
by Frederick Douglass, John W. Blassingame, John R. McKivigan, Peter P. Hinks, Gerald Fulkerson
list price: $7.95
our price: $7.16
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Asin: 0300087012
Catlog: Book (2001-03-01)
Publisher: Yale Nota Bene
Sales Rank: 47090
Average Customer Review: 4.53 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In 1845, just seven years after his escape from slavery, the youngFrederick Douglass published this powerful account of his life in bondage and histriumph over oppression. The book, which marked the beginning of Douglass's career asan impassioned writer, journalist, and orator for the abolitionist cause, reveals the terrorshe faced as a slave, the brutalities of his owners and overseers, and his harrowing escapeto the North. It has become a classic of American autobiography.

This edition of the book, based on the authoritative text that appears in Yale UniversityPress's multivolume edition of the Frederick Douglass Papers, is the only edition ofDouglass's Narrative designated as an Approved Text by the Modern LanguageAssociation's Committee on Scholarly Editions. It includes a chronology of Douglass'slife, a thorough introduction by the eminent Douglass scholar John Blassingame,historical notes, and reader responses to the first edition of 1845. ... Read more

Reviews (60)

4-0 out of 5 stars A damning Tale of Evil in America
This is a difficult book to read because the evil that slavery entails. The oppression of anyone is an evil that must be overcome. Frederick Douglass displayed a remarkable courage in learning to read and write to finally overcome the horror of slavery. I appreciate his observation on the religious hypocrisy of the South. It was telling that religious slave owners were always the worst. Of course since religion helped breed slavery in America this really should not come as any surprise. I have great admiration for the founders of this country but I also feel that the evil and hypocrisy of slavery should be exposed. It is an ugly passage in American history that must be addressed. This book should be read by high school kids in every high school in America--make that every American period. Frederick Douglass deserves to be recognized as a great American and this book is essential reading for any American.

5-0 out of 5 stars Revealing
A prime subject of debate before the Civil War seems to have been the nature of slavery in the South. Northern abolitionists would shoot rhetorical darts concerning the ineffable cruelties done to slaves at the hands of Southern slaveholders; Southern Confederates would fire their own salvos in return, telling stories to show that the abuses did not outweigh the general decency of the system. In this autobiography, Frederick Douglass weighs in heavily with the abolitionists, laying bare the barbarity and brutality of his experiences with slaveholders in the South. Tracking his life from the ignorance of childhood, to his growing awareness and education, to his final escape, Douglass makes his opinion plain: It is not only the South's particular form of slavery which is savagely corrupt - the system itself is despicable at its core.

My college assigned me this book to read, suggesting I watch for two things: the relationship of Christian faith to his life and to that of his masters, and the role of education in his journey toward freedom. In regard to the first, Douglass actually says surprisingly little about how his faith sustained him throughout his captivity. A few brief mentions are made here and there about how Christianity strengthened him during his trials, but the vast majority of his remarks on Christianity addressed the viciousness it seemed to inspire in his masters. In his experience, pious slaveholders were more cruel and malicious than unbelievers. Indeed, one of his worst masters was reverend of a local church. Douglass explains that while religion is well and good in its proper state, the corruption of the Southern version of Christianity was unpardonable, a religion where piety begot brutality, and faith sanctioned savagery.

In my reading of this narrative, Douglass' primary hope was not in Christianity, but in education. Throughout the book, he explains the various devices slaveholders used to keep their slaves from getting religion, or getting reading and writing, or getting knowledge of current events. He shows that the Southerners knew exactly what they were keeping from their slaves - the very tool by which they could gain liberty, humanity, and freedom. Douglass traces his tortuous trials in learning to read and write, and then shows the invaluable benefits he received from these. A good education is one of the greatest and most liberating things a person can get, and Douglass' narrative drives this point home hard and clear.

This book is a worthwhile read. Engaging and well-written, this narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass fascinates and informs. It illustrates the cruel treatment he, and by extension many other slaves, received at the hand of Southern slaveholders. It shows how a barbaric form of Christianity inspired some of these cruelties. And it shows how education delivered Douglass from the hands of his oppressors. Read it as a history. Read it as a story. But by all means, read it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very Good
I had to read this for a freshman history class. I dreaded it before because I usually hate historical nonfiction biographies, but I was quite surprised. Anytime somebody says that Affirmative Action is necessary because of past wrongs, I direct them to read this book. This man had the drive to learn to read in secret (at the age of 8) and ultimately escape to the free North to become an author. And his conditions were FAR worse than anybody's today! It's a very inspirational novel. It details the horrors of the slaves having to be split from their families and the hardships they had to endure. It also gave some insight to the mindsets of the slave owners. This is not a long book and is well worth an afternoon.

3-0 out of 5 stars Frederick Douglass review
I enjoyed "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass", but would not necessicarily recommend it to a person or class. I appreciate the perspective that I gained from encountering his life story, but I was never really entertained or enlightened. The story was more depressing than happy, and large parts of the story were left out for his safety reasons. Allow I respect that, it does have an effect on his account of the escape. I would say that overall this book is pretty good, but just doesn't connect for me.

4-0 out of 5 stars JAMIN BIO!
Wow! This has got to be one of the best autobiographies I have ever read. Douglass gives one a great idea of the struggles he went through while he was a slave and trying to runaway. If you want to know more about slavery then this is the book to read. ... Read more

158. The Real Lincoln : A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0761526463
Catlog: Book (2003-12-02)
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Sales Rank: 3385
Average Customer Review: 3.31 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War
Most Americans consider Abraham Lincoln to be the greatest president in history. His legend as the Great Emancipator has grown to mythic proportions as hundreds of books, a national holiday, and a monument in Washington, D.C., extol his heroism and martyrdom. But what if most everything you knew about Lincoln were false? What if, instead of an American hero who sought to free the slaves, Lincoln were in fact a calculating politician who waged the bloodiest war in american history in order to build an empire that rivaled Great Britain's? In The Real Lincoln, author Thomas J. DiLorenzo uncovers a side of Lincoln not told in many history books and overshadowed by the immense Lincoln legend.
Through extensive research and meticulous documentation, DiLorenzo portrays the sixteenth president as a man who devoted his political career to revolutionizing the American form of government from one that was very limited in scope and highly decentralized—as the Founding Fathers intended—to a highly centralized, activist state. Standing in his way, however, was the South, with its independent states, its resistance to the national government, and its reliance on unfettered free trade. To accomplish his goals, Lincoln subverted the Constitution, trampled states' rights, and launched a devastating Civil War, whose wounds haunt us still. According to this provacative book, 600,000 American soldiers did not die for the honorable cause of ending slavery but for the dubious agenda of sacrificing the independence of the states to the supremacy of the federal government, which has been tightening its vise grip on our republic to this very day.
You will discover a side of Lincoln that you were probably never taugh in school—a side tha calls into question the very myths that surround him and helps explain the true origins of a bloody, and perhaps, unnecessary war.
"A devastating critique of America's most famous president."
... Read more

Reviews (230)

5-0 out of 5 stars A different look at our 'greatest' president
The latest polls place Abe Lincoln at the top of the list of "Greatest Presidents". Indeed, few of our nation's past leaders are as reveared (and practically worshipped) as much as Honest Abe is today.

This book takes a different look at his presidency and offers some challenging new ideas for "Lincoln Lovers". Indeed, anyone who has read some decent civil war history outside of a high school or college textbooks will know that the civil war was about much more than the just the one issue of slavery and abolition. Like many wars throughout history, they are usually about money and power.

You will find within its pages a clear and concise arguement against the more popular view of Abe Lincoln. Thomas J. Dilorenzo describes a very clear picture of what the Lincoln presidency was REALLY about...

raising import tariffs in the south to get more money...

ignoring the constitution whenever it didn't suit his agenda...

using "dictator-like" tactics to increase his power...

and ultimately increasing the power of the federal gvt. itself.

I always enjoy a book that has the guts to argue against the popular myths that we are usually taught in school in place of any real history. Get this book and see Honest Abe from a different point of view.

5-0 out of 5 stars My high school/college history coach wouldn't approve!
A refreshing, honest look!! Dilorenzo does an excellent job. The author uses facts and quotes to expose the true socialist/centralist agenda of Lincoln (and many other politicians). With his honest expose, the author systematically debunks the race-game used by so many superficial authors. For those who do not have a recorded family history, this masterpiece will help to put the war into historical perspective and let the reader discover the truth. The author does not elaborate fully on the vandalism, pillage and plunder of the fascist invasion, but does give great insight into the same with respect to the Constitution and design of the founding fathers. It gives a great economic backdrop for understanding the constriction of free markets, ever-growing socialism, fallacious economic reasoning, fiat currency problems, taxation without representation and other travesties that consistently exacerbate the nationalistic left wing socialism in our demopublican political system. Best of all, the author uses FACTS, instead of propaganda. He cites SOURCES, as opposed to using innuendo and conjecture. He covers this excellent read with so many actual QUOTES, that readers have the ammo to think for themselves, rather than be duped by a government history teacher with a government approved textbook. A wonderful expose of the white supremacy and racism that was prevalent in the north and a vindication of southerners, like my ancestry, whose only crime was their continued defense of the constitution, liberty, freedom and their families, homes, communities and sovereign states. We should never forget what really happened.

5-0 out of 5 stars James Salisbury
Let me start by saying what an incredible book. This book tells the truth about a man and his myth an anti-constitutionalist and murder of innocent Americans. The book is backed up by facts and not revisionist history as most books about Lincoln and American history are today. It goes to the heart of Lincoln and his ultimate goal of creating a centralized government with absolute control over all Sovereign States in order to push his parties economical and social agenda which they were unsuccessful at achieving politically, so he used a bloody war to crush his opposition to the South even Northern states were threaten at the point of a bayonet to submit to the will of his government or pay with their lives. The book also does a great job of dispelling the myth of Lincolns "Emancipation Proclamation" he was never during his entire life an abolitionist in fact he would distant himself from them. Go ahead and read the reviews below especially the negative ones (e.g. Aaron Smith) then read the book then go back to the negative reviews and you will see first hand how brainwashed so many people are in this country even after the straight forward facts of this book tell it like it was and remains today they still don't want to believe it. The Lincoln myth has been, concocted by the leftist to advance their socialist agendas by creating this false hero of liberty and freedom, which you will see Lincoln was not. So do yourself and your future generations a favor and pick up this book before it disappears, and share it with everyone you know because the school system in America is not going to teach the truth to your children only you can.


1-0 out of 5 stars rebel dumpty sat on the wall, rebel dumty had a big fall
in times of peace, a democracy should run like a democracy. in times of internal revolt, rebellion, or secession within a democracy, individual liberties must take a back seat to reestablishing internal order. dilorenzo's book, by an almost mystical inverse relation to its purpose, has shown me that abe lincoln was justified in the steps he took to save this wonderful country. he also did the south a tremendous favor by fighting it back into the union. even while the civil war raged, a few state governments within the condfederacy were itching to secede from THAT governmental conglomerate. if they had won their independence, it would not have been long before the former american south had split itself into 6 or 7 individual countries, with no hope of defending itself...from one another. if not for abe lincoln and the republican government in washington, the "lost cause" myth would relate not to what-ifs about winning the civil war, but rather to those grand days of peace and liberty (though 4 million slaves weren't liberated yet) back in the old union. mr. dilorenzo's book is a stubborn read, very miopic in its presentation of negative information regarding lincoln. dilorenzo has not given us a balanced look at the man who, by reuniting the united states of america through fighting the civil war, saved this land from a legacy of "war on every other thursday" that europe has experienced FOREVER! but dilorenzo's book is not worthless. again, the crafty reader will be able to spot the red-herrings and not be fooled by the chauvinistic arrangement of arguments.

5-0 out of 5 stars Abraham Lincoln Exposed
Thomas DiLorenzo has produced a brilliant expose' on Abraham Lincoln and the despotism he has saddled us with. DiLorenzo refutes all of the foolish arguements of the Lincoln "myth" school. "Father Abraham" is seen as he should be: a corrupt, tyrannical despot coercing the South back into the Union.

DiLorenzo correctly shows how the United States was a voluntary union, pointing out that the states existed prior to the Union, contrary to modern view that the Union came first. DiLorenzo also points out the moral bankruptcy of modern Marxist historians and their agenda. Eric Foner, Garry Wills,et al, are shwon to be the statists that they are.

DiLorenzo correctly shows how the North, particularly the New England area, profited off the protectionist tariifs that fell on the South. He quotes extensively from Whigs and Republicans showing their devotion to Henry Clay's "American System", a Hamiltonian Scheme to create a huge centralized government. Lincoln's 30 year political career was devoted to Big Government, protectionism, corporate welfare ( particularly for railroads) and bureaucracy.

As President Lincoln's tyranny hits the reader like a ton of bricks.He violated the Constitution in the following ways: executive suspension of the writ of habeus corpus, invasion without congressional approval, arrest of political opponents without trial, imposition of an income tax,and occupation of several states, Maryland in particular. He had the entire legislature of Maryland arrested and placed the state under martial law.

Lincoln also suppoted the brutality of his "Grand Army of the Republic". The tyranny of Sherman and Grant was endorsed by Lincoln. Bombardment of civilians, burning of towns, raping of white and black women by Union soliders, and installation of puppet governments in the vanquished states.

DiLorenzo also correctly exposes the Republican Party and Lincoln as descendants of the Federalist Party. They were proponents of strong centralized government, and did not trust the people. Jeffersonianism was repudiated and limited government was overthrown.

If anyone wants the true Lincoln, you cannot go wrong with DiLorenzo's book. ... Read more

159. At the Mind's Limits: Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and its Realities
by Jean Amery
list price: $14.95
our price: $14.95
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Asin: 0253211735
Catlog: Book (1998-05-01)
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Sales Rank: 342954
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Because Auschwitz was among the most brutal of the concentration camps, ruled by capricious, pure force and not by any discernable political or social structure, the intellectual there "was alone with his intellect ... and there was no social reality that could support and confirm it." In other words, there was no place for the intellect to act, outside of the confines of a person's own skull. Jean Amery's At The Mind's Limits is a focused meditation on the position of the intellectual placed in "a borderline situation, where he has to confirm the reality and effectiveness of his intellect, or to declare its impotence: in Auschwitz." In the camp, Amery writes, "The intellect very abruptly lost its basic quality: its transcendence." Considering this loss, Amery describes his own experience of torture, his reactions of resentment, anger, and bitterness, his loss of any vital sense of metaphysical questions, and his search for some way to maintain moral character and Jewish identity in the absence of such consciousness. --Michael Joseph Gross ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars haunting human analysis...
This man, who lived caught between paralyzing fear and paralyzing anger, refuses to countenance the immoral world he found so horribly crude, ignorant and inadequate. I know of no more unrelenting self-criticism or self-asceticism than portrayed here in this work.

Every "outsider" will recognize immediately that the author talks to him/her. No matter by what standard one is taken as an outsider, here is a priceless analysis of your experience, writ humbly, clearly and painfully.

Every "moralist" will recognize immediately the accusations the authors aims in your direction with too-precise accuracy that will not allow you to wriggle free of the dread implications.

Every "religionist" will recognize the futility of responding in comforting platitude to the undeniable evidence of evil writ hugely in this thin volume.

I know of few intellectuals who will receive the meaning of this work with welcome. To almost all others, it will be set aside with well-explained rationalizations...

But for the reader who knows what "outside" means, what "cataclysm" means, and what "torment" of any stripe whatsoever means, then here you will find a comrade. Here you will find words of encouragement to struggle on...your lot is not as bad as it could be, after all...for here we find our comrade who has endured to the very limits of the mind. And survives, with bright intellect intact and sharp. Uncomfortably so.

A note on the "Auswitz" in the title--Don't allow this word to dissuade you from the universal human experience that is the focus of this work. Any and every human being can take an enhanced image of life and world from this resource.

5-0 out of 5 stars Potent...Like a bitter drink you have to come back to...
I really can't say much about this book, except that it is the most worn in my library of over 1,000 volumes compiled from a lifetime of literature. This translation is amazing as well. This book is an intellectual's journey through, and life after, hell.

5-0 out of 5 stars That Which is Incumbent Upon Every Human Being
To the world at large, none of the death camps is better known than is Auschwitz. There is now in existence a very large volume of literature regarding the atrocities committed in that infamous place, much of it written by its survivors. This literature is often reflective as well as descriptive as it recounts, not only the day-to-day horror of life and death but the destructive effects of relentless and senseless violence on human understanding. In this respect, the books of both Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi must stand as premier examples of intellectual and spiritual revelation as well as personal witness.

Jean Amery's At the Mind's Limit: Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and Its Realities must join the works of Wiesel and Levi as indispensable reading for anyone seeking to grasp the deepest range of emotions and implications the name Auschwitz should evoke. In this book Amery stresses the negative and shows on virtually every page how futile it would be to scrutinize the experience of a Holocaust survivor for anything even remotely redemptive. Auschwitz was destruction without deliverance, a place of inexplicable and implacable hostility against the very definition of humanity. As a consequence, a mind that searches Auschwitz, or any of the other camps, for reasonable and rational explanations will only be confronted with its own impotence. As Amery puts it, "In the camp the intellect in its totality declared itself to be incompetent...Beauty: that was an illusion. Knowledge: that turned out to be a game with ideas." The intellect, Amery tells us, was robbed of its transcendence, rendering the intellectual the most vulnerable of victims.

The five autobiographical essays that make up this remarkable book are models of intellectual sobriety, lucidity and moral earnestness. Amery's experiences at Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz and other camps, detailed in the first essay, brought him to the realization that all of his previously-held aesthetic concepts and analytic capabilities were rendered useless. "The aesthetic view of death had revealed itself to the intellectual as part of an aesthetic mode of life; where the latter had been all but forgotten, the former was nothing but an elegant trifle. In the camp no Tristan music accompanied death, only the roaring of the SS and the Kapos." Spiritually disarmed and intellectually disoriented, "the intellectual faced death defenselessly."

The book's second essay, which is unusually vivid, concerns the genesis and nature of sadistic physical torture. Torture was an essential component of Nazism and not a peripheral aspect. It was the determinant that defined and coalesced the basically depraved and destructive character of Nazism, an ideology "that expressly established...the role of the a principle." Nihilistic principles have always existed, but German National Socialism distilled and purified them. They tortured, not to gain advantages, but because they were torturers.

The remaining three essays deal with a variety of topics, all related to and all centering on the ordeals Amery endured during the Holocaust as well as its aftermath. The book's concluding essay, "On the Necessity and Impossibility of Being a Jew," is a culminating statement that defines in wretchedly painful terms a dilemma that is far more than Amery's alone.

As Amery both felt and lived with the Holocaust, his awareness demanded that he contend with all manifestations of postwar anti-Semitism, something he did with increasing frequency during the final years of his life. Although his own Judaism was, to him, highly problematic, he was uncompromising in his opposition to those who attacked the ideological concept of the State of Israel. "The impossibility of being a Jew," he said, "becomes the necessity to be one, and that means: a vehemently protesting Jew."

Amery, however, worried that in any newfound prosperity the events of the Third Reich would be forgotten or simply submerged in accounts of the general historical epoch. And, indeed, even the young survivors of the camps have now reached their seventh decade of life. What will preserve the memory of the camps once the last survivor is gone? For, "Remembering," said Amery. "That is the cue."

The entire world was, and is, affected by the atrocities of the Holocaust. It therefore becomes incumbent upon every human being alive, and not just every Jew, as well as those human beings yet to be born, to bear the imprint of the Holocaust upon his heart. In this way, mankind will never cease to do what is so very essential. Remember. ... Read more

160. Churchill: A Life
by Martin Gilbert
list price: $24.00
our price: $16.32
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805023968
Catlog: Book (1992-10-01)
Publisher: Owl Books (NY)
Sales Rank: 20296
Average Customer Review: 4.79 out of 5 stars
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It is impossible to understand the Second World War without understanding Winston Churchill, the bold British Prime Minister who showed himself to be one of the greatest statesmen any nation has ever known. This lengthy biography is a single-volume abridgment of a massive, eight-volume work that took a quarter-century to write. It covers Churchill's entire life, highlighting not only his exploits during the Second World War, but also his early belief in technology and how it would revolutionize warfare in the 20th century. Churchill learned how to fly a plane before the First World War, and was also involved in the development of both the tank and anti-aircraft defense. But he truly showed his unmatched mettle during his country's darkest moments: "His finest hour was the leadership of Britain when it was most isolated, most threatened, and most weak; when his own courage, determination, and belief in democracy became at one with the nation," writes Gilbert. There are several wonderful books available on Churchill, but this is probably the best place to start. ... Read more

Reviews (33)

5-0 out of 5 stars Churchill- Man of the Century
It is difficult to comprehend the enormous challenges faced by Britain in the late 1930's- essentially alone against the Nazi aggression, save for a weakened and demoralized France, with the United States in an inexplicable isolationist phase, content to let Europe burn. In this context, the rise of Winston Churchill to Prime Minister can be seen as something of a miracle- one of those rare instances where the man fit his times perfectly. To that end, without his influence, it is easy to imagine revisionist history, with Europe divided between right-wing German and leftist Soviet spheres. How can one small island establish its force and might into this cause and thus preserve the ideals of freedom and democracy?
The answer, as given by Mr. Gilbert, is Sir Winston Churchill himself, and there is not much which can be argued on this point. If you only read one biography of a 20th century figure, then you should make it this book. Besides Adolph Hitler (to which I recommend Ian Kershaw's excellent two-volume biography), there can be no more influential figure of the last century.
And, besides, what a life! As Gilbert's biography makes clear, Churchill was never one to shun from action. There are multiple instances of Churchill, both young and old, tempting fate, either in battle or in his passion for flying. With bombs and bullets flying it seems Churchill was at peace, secure in the knowledge that God had a greater fate in store for him.
Gilbert, the official biographer of Churchill, has done a masterful job of condensing his multi-volume work into a readable 1,000 pages- it will go very fast, believe me.
All in all, the best in historical biography. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the better biographies I've read for some time......
Martin Gilbert is a prodigious writer and a fine historian. In Churchill: A Life, Gilbert presents an encompassing view of Great Britain's most dynamic historical figure. Little need be said in this review about Churchill, a man larger than life, as that life has been voluminously recorded. However, Gilbert has provided an account that is eminently readable, fascinating in detail, thoroughly engrossing, and bottom-line, simply a pleasurable experience.

As a biographical subject, Churchill has certainly received more negative analysis than Gilbert proffers, but Gilbert takes great care to explain where unwarranted criticism of Churchill's actions and beliefs are, in themselves, errant. Surely, Churchill's politics, in a career that spanned nearly a lifetime, will provide at least some fodder for anyone. By and large, however, Churchill was exactly the prescription required to pull Great Britain through the horrors of World War II.

Not since Truman, by David McCullough, have I enjoyed a biography this much. I recommend the book highly as it deserves, every bit, a rating of five stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars Compared to William Manchester's...
I liked much better this book than those of William Manchester. The story is linear and one feels the author's absolute knowledge of the life of Churchill. Gilbert's admiration of Churchill is apparent. I heard he has written an eight volume (official) biography of which this book is a very comprehensive and very-very well written abridgement, in other words the eight volumes are „distilled" into one. I also think the quotations are much better selected, Churchill's often very long speeches are very well compressed (my favourite is the speech after Munich). This gives the impression - at least to me - of having read a whole speech, whereas in Manchester's book it never really happens and the speeches are usually followed or preceded by the author's comments. I felt Gilbert keeps a greater distance from his subject, the book is more like a frame and lets the reader build up Churchill's personality with his imagination. Also this might be important to some (like myself) that Gilbert's language is easier to understand.
The Manchester books are of a very different character, not linear, much more personal, the author presents a lot of insight, and tells his opinion or judgement on a variety of subjects and choses the right quotations to underline these. These two volumes of Manchester contain a lot more information and interesting details. I usually agreed with his judgements but i sometimes felt he was forcing and repeating them too strong and too often. A great advantage though is that we learn a lot more about the outside world.

Churchill's book on WWII has a part which is called the „Gathering storm" meaning the approaching Nazi danger for the democracies. For Hitler Churchill was the „gathering storm", a phenomenon which is impossible to ignore and whose „thunderous" speeches and articles were so „loud" and powerful. It was nothing else but the power and truth in his speeches that made him so menacing to the Nazis as he was distrusted by all parties of parliament and indeed by the whole population.This was the reason why he was attacked publicly as a simple MP by Hitler in the late thirties when Hitler was the all powerful leader of Germany and Churchill only a political outcast.

I heard people describing Churchill as a born leader. I disagree. I don't think he was a born leader. He was a genius, the „largest human being of our time" but I think these were not the traditonal leadership qualities that made him emerge to become a strong man and a very powerful leader but his courage and his very deep comprehension of history and the power of justice on his side. Without the truth being on his side i think he would never have been a great leader (unlike Stalin or Chamberlain or Hitler).

After reading it one gives credit to the British people and also to their parlamentary system for being so rubust and being able to defend itself in times of great danger. After this book it seems that no attempt were made to bypass it even when it seemed that the present rulers (Baldwin and Chamberlain) were leading it to certain destruction.

Very good idea and makes it much easier to find something in the book afterwards is that on the top of each page the year of the actual story is shown.

Although the author avoids making many personal comments, the book is so well built up and the story itself is so full of drama that it is hard to put down. I am looking forward to reading other works of Gilbert, who really became my favourite historian (I hope they'll be translated into Hungarian soon).

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent although Somewhat Unbalanced
I rate this book alongside such outstanding biographical works as PATTON by Carlo D'Este, EISENHOWER by Stephen Ambrose, and TITAN (John D. Rockefeller) by Ron Chernow. It is very long, befitting its subject, but immensely readable. Like all great biographies, I was somewhat disappointed when I finished!

My only reason for assigning 4 stars rather than the maximum 5 is that Gilbert is somewhat unbalanced. For instance, if you weren't well informed about WWII strategy, and took Gilbert's account at face value, you would come away thinking that Churchill's strategic genius was frequently offset by stubborn US leaders like Marshall and Ike. Yet in other biographies, like Ed Cray's masterpiece on Marshall, you get a good understanding of how Churchill's ideas for the Aegean and Balkans, while certainly having potential, could have been costly sideshows that distracted the Allies from the main effort in France and Germany. So in this respect, I give Gilbert low marks since he never credits the possible reasons for American strategic reasoning.

All things considered, a superb book about a remarkable man. For all his much-deserved WWII glory, Churchill's career before 1940 was truly extraordinary.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Work
I have not read any other works on Churchill before this but I think Gilbert has done an excellent job. I learned a great deal from this work.

I had no idea of how well connected young Churchill was nor how well he had used those connections. Also I have long been an admirer of WSC because of his strong stance in WWII and his anti communism. I did not have any idea as to how liberal (in the modern sense) he was in other ways. I knew that he had served in combat but knew no details. I also learned a great deal about the up and downs and ins and outs of his political career.

Churchill was an extraordinary man and Gilbert does a good job of cataloging the triumphs, defeats and the setbacks. What I would have liked to see more of was the witticisms and "great moments". WSC is attributed with many interesting quips and stories. I would have enjoyed a biography that dealt with more of these.

I found the chapters on the interwar years of particular interest in light of current events. I would recommend the book to anyone considering a biography of Churchill. ... Read more

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