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161. The Wit & Wisdom of Winston
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162. Oskar Schindler: The Untold Account
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163. Alexander the Great: The Hunt
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164. Narrative of the Life of Frederick
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165. Musui's Story: The Autobiography
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166. Unforgivable Blackness : The Rise
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167. The Story of the Trapp Family
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168. James Madison: (The American Presidents
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169. Shadow Lovers: The Last Affairs
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170. Stalin and His Hangmen : The Tyrant
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171. A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: Explorer,
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172. The Autobiography of Martin Luther
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173. Love and Hate in Jamestown : John
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174. The First Elizabeth
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175. Saladin: All-Powerful Sultan and
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176. John F. Kennedy : A Biography
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177. Profiles in Courage
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178. Thomas Jefferson
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179. The Survivor : Bill Clinton in
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180. Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating

161. The Wit & Wisdom of Winston Churchill
by James C. Humes, Richard M. Nixon
list price: $12.95
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Asin: 0060925779
Catlog: Book (1995-01-25)
Publisher: Perennial
Sales Rank: 4010
Average Customer Review: 4.42 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

An enormously entertaining compendium of witticisms, anecdotes, and trivia about Winston Churchill by a former White House speechwriter. ... Read more

Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Delightful Book About A Great Man........
Winston Churchill is one of the greatest men of our or any other time. His intelligence, wit, humor and clarity of thought is well captured in this great little book. It's broken down into several sections and it's a quick read. It's a book that I keep going back to!

5-0 out of 5 stars Reader from Boston, MA
This book is an excellent compendium of the wit of Winston Churchill. Often acerbic, frequently self-deprecating, but always humorous and witty while exactly on point, Churchill's humor and wit collected in this book would be of great value even to professional comedy writers. The book also tells much about the man, Churchill, himself, and his inner strength, sense of proportion, his mastery of the English language and his uncanny ability to use the English language masterfully and to its maximum affect -- the qualities that made Churchill such an effective and potent world leader during the bleakest days of World War II.

5-0 out of 5 stars Power of Words in the Majestic Battle of Ideas
In this book, James C. Humes gives his audience an excellent opportunity to conjure up a mental picture of Winston Churchill and his legacy. As a renaissance man, Churchill was more than a skilled politician and a gifted soldier. Perhaps more importantly, Churchill was a man of inspired words, whose work was ultimately crown by the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953. Churchill often was far from politically correct and did not hesitate to say, write and do what he thought was right. Churchill's bluntness did not make him dear to everybody.

Humes first brings to light many of the great thoughts of Churchill in "Observations and Opinions." Humes classifies key words alphabetically without giving context so that readers can easily find a quote of their liking about a specific subject. Some readers might get frustrated about it if they are not familiar with the key milestones in the life and career of Churchill. These readers can read books such as "Churchill a Life", "Churchill a Study in Greatness", "Clementine Churchill The Biography of a Marriage" or "Winston and Clementine The Personal Letters of the Churchills" to fill in the gaps in their knowledge of Churchill for that purpose.

Humes forges ahead in a similar way in "Orations and Perorations", "Coiners of Phrases", "Saints and Sinners" and "Escapades and Encounters." In these sections, Humes is usually very good at giving his audience the context so that readers better understand where Churchill was coming from. Hours of fun and laughter are virtually guaranteed, especially in "Escapades and Encounters."

Churchill's witticism, wisdom and oratory probably reached their climax in the faithful summer of 1940 when Britain stood alone against the Nazi monster. Churchill galvanized by his words and actions the civilized world to soldier on when the horizon seemed hopelessly bleak. As President Franklin Roosevelt said to his aide Harry Hopkins after listening to one of Churchill's radio broadcasts during that period: "As long as that old bastard is in charge, Britain will never surrender." The words of Churchill will continue to resonate for a long time in the heart and soul of humanity. Churchill's words will further shine like diamonds in the night when humanity loses hope from time to time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Your finest hours will be spent reading this book!!!
Be forewarned. The words of Sir Winston Churchill are not for everyone. If you are too timid, sensitive, politically correct, Victorian in outlook, or do not drink, you are not the ideal audience for this book. However, if you love stirring speeches, great epigrams, and explosive wit, then Winston is your man. Divided into several sections, the first deals with epigrams concerning subjects in general, for example; History--"A nation that forgets its past has no future." The next section deals with excepts from his most famous speeches: Their Finest Hour, Blood, Sweat, and Tears, etc. Then, Coiner of Phrases, a section dealing with famous words or sayings first attributed to him, such as Destroyer, for "light search and destroy vessel." Next, Saints and Sinners, a section reserved for his opinions of the great (and nearly great) of the world; his opinion of former Prime Minister David Lloyd George: "He could talk a bird out of a tree." Finally, the last (and best) section, Escapades and Encounters (aka Winston's Wit). Yes, here we have the famous Lady Nancy Astor story (I won't spoil it for you here), another famous (and politically incorrect) encounter with Labourite Bessie Braddock, and the hilarous story The World Is Not My Oyster, in which the eighty-six year old Churchill blames his indisposition on the oysters served at the Savoy Grill, not the numerous glasses of wine he consumed there. So, grab a glass of your favorite port or sherry (or a snifter of brandy, if you must), sink into a comfortable chair with a favorite snack and this book, and INDULGE YOURSELF. Trust me, it will be one (or more) of your finest hours.

5-0 out of 5 stars Words, wit, Winston, Wow !
I am a big fan of these types of collections, and have been distressed in recent years as series publishers have pumped them out. James C. Humes, however, avoids the path of ready material and produces a book of Churchilliana as comprehensive and broad as the man himself.

There are all the favorites here: the Lady Nancy Astor tea story, the acerbic prepositional rejoinder to the supercilious editing of an assistant, the choice between sherry and adultery, and so on. More importantly, one begins to acquire a notion of the extent to which Churchill, as Shakespeare before him did, has shapped our language, our thoughts, and our clichés: "trade no aid", Iron Curtain, and "blood, sweat, and tears."

Every page is a gem, and this is the perfect book for bed or bathroom, if you are a lover of words, wit, and Winston.

p.s. The very nice, concise introduction by Richard M. Nixon is a quirky little joy as well. ... Read more


162. Oskar Schindler: The Untold Account of His Life, Wartime Activities, and the True Story Behind The List
by David M. Crowe
list price: $30.00
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Asin: 081333375X
Catlog: Book (2004-11-01)
Publisher: Westview Press
Sales Rank: 12659
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Book Description

Spy, businessman, bon vivant, Nazi Party member, Righteous Gentile. This was Oskar Schindler, the controversial man who saved eleven hundred Jews during the Holocaust but struggled afterwards to rebuild his life and gain international recognition for his wartime deeds. David Crowe examines every phase of Schindler's life in this landmark biography, presenting a savior of mythic proportions who was also an opportunist and spy who helped Nazi Germany conquer Poland.

Schindler is best known for saving over a thousand Jews by putting them on the famed "Schindler's List" and then transferring them to his factory in today's Czech Republic. In reality, Schindler played only a minor role in the creation of the list through no fault of his own. Plagued by local efforts to stop the movement of Jewish workers from his factory in Krak--w to his new one in BrŸnnlitz, and his arrest by the SS who were investigating corruption charges against the infamous Amon Gšth, Schindler had little say or control over his famous "List." The tale of how the "List" was really prepared is one of the most intriguing parts of the Schindler story that Crowe tells here for the first time.

Forced into exile after the war, success continually eluded Schindler and he died in very poor health in 1974. He remained a controversial figure, even in death, particularly after Emilie Schindler, his wife of forty-six years, began to criticize her husband after the appearance of Steven Spielberg's film in 1993.

In Oskar Schindler, Crowe steps beyond the mythology that has grown up around the story of Oskar Schindler and looks at the life and work of this man whom one prominent Schindler Jew described as "an extraordinary man in extraordinary times." ... Read more


163. Alexander the Great: The Hunt for a New Past
by Paul Cartledge
list price: $28.95
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Asin: 1585675652
Catlog: Book (2004-08-03)
Publisher: Overlook Press
Sales Rank: 3118
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Book Description

The remarkable life of Alexander the Great, one of the greatest military geniuses of all time, vividly told by one of the world's leading experts in Greek history.With all the intensity, insight, and narrative drive that made The Spartans such a hit with critics and readers, Paul Cartledge's Alexander the Great: glowingly illuminates the brief but iconic life of Alexander (356-323 BC), king of Macedon, conqueror of the Persian Empire, and founder of a new world order. Cartledge, the distinguished scholar and historian long acknowledged as the leading international authority on ancient Sparta and Greece, brilliantly evokes Alexander's remarkable political and military accomplishments, leads us along the geographical path of his victorious armies, and compellingly charting the tremendous field of this warrior hero's influence. Alexander's legacy has had an astounding impact on military tacticians, scholars, and statesmen—in his own lifetime and in ours. In various countries and at various times he has been seen as hero, holy man, Christian saint, a new Achilles, philosopher, scientist, prophet, and visionary. Cartledge brilliantly explains why and how Alexander is endlessly fascinating, with a view to a better understanding of such fundamental topics as charismatic leadership, imperialism, and Middle Eastern geopolitics. ... Read more


164. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass : An American Slave, Written by Himself (The Bedford Series in History and Culture)
by Frederick Douglass
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Asin: 0312257376
Catlog: Book (2002-12-25)
Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
Sales Rank: 99212
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Required Reading
I read this book as part of a summer assignment entering into the 11th grade in addition to "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl" by Harriet Jacobs. Both are great pieces of African-American historical literature and well worth the read. I couldn't read this book all in one sitting, due to the need to fight the urge to throw up. He detailed descriptions of physical, psycological, and emotional abuse are enough to sicken any one and make you disgusted with the human race.

5-0 out of 5 stars My heart broke
The honesty with which this is written is amazing.I was glued to it from page one.I felt disgusted by the human race,saddened by his traumas and guilty just for being white.I think this needs to be read more.Especially in schools.Why isn't it??? ... Read more


165. Musui's Story: The Autobiography of a Tokugawa Samurai
by Katsu Kokichi, Craig Teruko
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Asin: 0816512566
Catlog: Book (1991-07-01)
Publisher: University of Arizona Press
Sales Rank: 19814
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars The life of a low-life
Katsu Kokichi (the name used by the younger Musui) was a brutish, petty man. His autobiography is a series of repeating vignettes, stealing from the people who tried to help, running afoul of the law without quite ruining himself or his family, leading neighborhood protection rackets, spending himself into deep debt, and beating his wife. At age 21, he was still running away from home when things got tough, in a day when a 15-year-old might be head of a household. Somehow, though, he never reached a status I could call 'evil' - his wrongs were all too small and meaningless.

Although the translation is very readable, I found the book hard to read. I am sad to say that I've known people like Katsu, seemingly bent on screwing up their lives and never wholly succeeding. Katsu's story hit just a little too close to home for me to enjoy the reading. I was morbidly fascinated, though, by the similarity of today's losers to a fallen samurai of the early 19th century.

The translation is modern and well-written, a very good rendering of a very unpleasant man. I do not fault the translation, just the material being translated. Still, Musui's story is an interesting contrast to writings by more honest and educated writers. It fills in the grubby flip-side of Japanese history of the era. It's not a view I like to see, but it's honest in a strange way. Even when he conspicuously lies to his reader, Katsu still reveals his true self. This is not a book that will appeal to everyone, but some readers will find value in it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Three Cheers for Japanese Humor
This book is one of the funniest I've ever read -- no joke. I was laughing in tears when Katsu fell from a cliff and injuried his genitals, and then his son almost died when his were bitten by a wild dog. Also, he was insulted once by a drunk Shinto priest, pleased the peasants by lying about their koku output, and locked in a cage by his own family for several years. In addition to the above humors, he was involved in numerous comical fights, such as one at a Shrine and another involving his entire neighborhood.

Katsu, a low-ranking Samarai during the late-Tokugawa Era, was a man without the traditional Samarai ethical code. He worked in Edo's "redlight district," stole from family members, beat his wife, and insulted his nephews regarding their dead brother. Katsu was a skilled swordsman, however, having defeated countless enemies. Katsu learned to read and write at age 20, and the book reflects his low-level of literacy. He wrote it in recollection after having taken the religious name "Musui." Katsu died right before the Meji Restoration, so the book offers a good glimpse into a secluded Japan.

5-0 out of 5 stars Musui's story
i need 3 to 4 pages of review

4-0 out of 5 stars One of a kind look into a Japanese Samurai
This book is the reprinted translated diary of a Samurai in Japan in the early 1800's. It gives the reader a unique look into Japanese society at that time. The samurai in question, Katsu Kokichi, is not a very good samurai which makes this book all the more interesting to read. The reader is drawn into the dilemmas of Katsu and his times. The book also includes beautiful ink drawings and full color plates of tokyo and its environs. This adds to the fullness of the story. This book is perfect for anyone who likes autobiographies or who is interested in Japanese and Asian culture ... Read more


166. Unforgivable Blackness : The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson
by GEOFFREY C. WARD
list price: $26.95
our price: $16.17
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Asin: 0375415327
Catlog: Book (2004-10-26)
Publisher: Knopf
Sales Rank: 1434
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167. The Story of the Trapp Family Singers
by Maria Augusta Trapp
list price: $13.95
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Asin: 0060005777
Catlog: Book (2002-01-01)
Publisher: Perennial
Sales Rank: 16317
Average Customer Review: 4.65 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (31)

5-0 out of 5 stars A powerful woman
In the late 1960s, when I was maybe 9 years old, my mother let me ditch school to attend a lecture by Maria von Trapp. I'm guessing that the author was promoting a newer edition of her book at the time. She struck me as an opinionated, very strong personality, but one who had twinkling eyes and who encouraged me to continue my piano lessons. The baroness autographed my EZ-Play "Sound of Music" piano book, but sternly made sure that I realized that the movie was not REALLY what her life was about--that it was just Hollywood stuff. When I grew up and became a music teacher myself for 15 years, I wish I'd remembered this book, because I would have recommended it to every student of mine. I just found this copy in an antique shop, but THIS one won't be recycled or resold!

What comes through on every page is the dedication to a will and purpose higher than any human's will. This was not meant to be a "religious" book, but a history of a family who made a huge difference in the world by their faithful service to God. Being willing to work hard, submit their discomfort or inconvenience to God's will and have Him turn it into great blessings and lessons for the family and indeed the world, are truly building blocks of faith, hope, love, and encouragement.

In addition, the stories of the family's dedication to their profession and the pursuit of excellence are inspiring. To attain such stature and not have one's nose in the clouds is an accomplishment in itself! (Ever meet a music scholar or highly-educated performer? The humble ones are few and far between.)

I agree with the other reviewers that Maria probably was the Captain of the family, but look what happened to a country peasant girl who was truly noble, not just assigned the title!

5-0 out of 5 stars A slightly skewed version of reality
Along with everyone else who has read this book, I loved "The Sound of Music" and knew that it was a glossed over account of their real life. I picked up this book, hoping that there would me some truth to it. While I am sure that the majority of the events DID happen, they way they are presented leaves much to be desired. I got the impression reading this book that there was yet a 3rd side to the story that is not presented here.

This is the story of the family, as told by Maria. This is the book on which the movie is based. The book leads the reader to believe that everything was sunshine and roses and that whenever anything bad happened, God provided the opportunities. While I am not doubting Maria's faith, I also think that she worked her tail off to get some of the opportunites the family recieved.

This book is very moving. Some of the antics of the little kids made me chuckle and the story of Georg's death brought tears to my eyes. I would be interested in finding out what happened later.....

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves the movie.

5-0 out of 5 stars Curiosity satisfied
This book is a personal family history of the Trapp Family Singers. It begins with Maria's days in the convent, traces the migrations of the family during the War years, and finishes in their family home in Vermont.

Ever since seeing The Sound of Music for the first time, I have always been curious about what happened next- -did the entire family manage to safely climb the Alps to freedom? How did they pay for their journey to the US? And what connection do they have to the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont? Maria Trapp answers all of these questions in this book. While the musical version of their life did convey many of the main episodes, the storyline of the musical compressed these episodes so that they seemed to happen one after the other: Maria leaves the convent, teaches the children how to sing, marries their father, and they flee the country at the outbreak of the war, all within 2 hours. Phew! Like the musical, this book also starts with Maria's last day in the convent, but more than a year passed before she and the Baron were married, in 1927. They were married some 12 years and had 2 additional children along the way before leaving Austria. Yes, as unknowns, the family did win a song festival, but that was in 1936, and by the time they fled Austria, they were already quite well-known and had toured Europe as a family singing group. Indeed, one additional reason for leaving the country when they did was that they had been invited to sing at Hitler's birthday.

When driving past the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, I have always thought of it as a ritzy place, and assumed that the money to purchase it and develop it had come from the Baron's family fortune. In reading this book, I found that that was not the case at all. The Baron's fortune was lost before the family left Austria, and they arrived in the US on borrowed money. In their new American lives, they had to restart from the very bottom of the social ladder, digging themselves out of debt before they could even begin to think of buying new clothes or a home. For years they dressed in the same simple clothes they had arrived in, and they built their first house in Vermont from the foundation up with their bare hands. That is, the girls did, since the two boys had been drafted into the US army and were fighting in Europe at the time.

This book relates all of these details and many more, with a considerable sprinkling of humor. Maria comes across as a determined optimist, a young girl barely out of her teens who arrived on the doorstep of a house filled with grief and dissension. Through her personal character and upbringing, she created a family with strong bonds to each other that was able to withstand remarriage, loss of fortune, becoming refugees, and establishing a home and a livelihood in a distant foreign land. The two elements that were her constant guidance and source of inspiration were her faith and the music. This book is peppered with remarks that ring true even today: "The family that sings together, plays together, prays together, and usually stays together." "Our age has become so mechanical that this has also affected our recreation. People have gotten used to sitting down and watching a movie, a ball game, a television set. It may be good once in a while, but it certainly is not good all the time. Our own faculties, our imagination, our memory, the ability to do things with our mind and our hands- -they need to be exercised. If we become too passive, we get dissatisfied." The Sound of Music is a great story, but the story presented in this book is much better.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ave Maria!
What a wonderful book! I laughed and cried all the way through it. The story of the Trapp family, their adventures, their singing career and their camp were uplifting. And the constant trust in God and the way in which they lived out their Catholic faith were beautifully described. A story full of the joys and sorrows of real life.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best book ever written!!!
That really was an interesting book!!!!! When I started to read the first page, I was so cautivated by its contense, that I could hardly stop reading!!!! I also liked it, because I read it when I had already seen the movie and so I could see what was true and what was invented by the producers of the film.

What I liked best in this absolutely interesting book is the way Maria starts learning Enlish in the ship American Farmer, because thats really an ingeniouse and funny way of learning a language.

I also liked the part when they arrived in America and they saw that the american culture was very different from the european one. In this part it was very easy to understand how lost and confused they surely felt in the first days of being there. But also in this part of the book we can see how brave they were, because although they had a lot of problems, they had success in their lives in the american continent.

The part in which I was almost moved to tears was the ending, because there you can see what friends are for and why you have to have some. ... Read more


168. James Madison: (The American Presidents Series)
by Garry Wills, Arthur M. Schlesinger
list price: $20.00
our price: $13.60
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Asin: 0805069054
Catlog: Book (2002-04-02)
Publisher: Times Books
Sales Rank: 36067
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A bestselling historian examines the life of a Founding Father.

Renowned historian and social commentator Garry Wills takes a fresh look at the life of James Madison, from his rise to prominence in the colonies through his role in the creation of the Articles of Confederation and the first Constitutional Congress.
Madison oversaw the first foreign war under the constitution, and was forced to adjust some expectations he had formed while drafting that document. Not temperamentally suited to be a wartime President, Madison nonetheless confronted issues such as public morale, internal security, relations with Congress, and the independence of the military. Wills traces Madison's later life during which, like many recent Presidents, he enjoyed greater popularity than while in office.
... Read more

Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars Insights into the Madison presidency
Although it is nominally a biography of James Madison, this brief book is actually an examination of Madison's presidency. Wills explores the seeming contradictions between the brilliant Madison responsible for the Constitution and Bill of Rights and the less-than-impressive president.

Wills shows that there is less of a contradiction than there seems to be. The flaws that hurt Madison as a president were actually around much earlier, especially his inability to function well as an executive. Madison was much more a behind-the-scenes person, quite adept in committees or legislative situations, but not as able outside them.

As a biography, this book is rather short and sparse, but by focusing on one portion of Madison's life - the portion which he does not receive great acclaim for - Wills is still able to provide a lot of detail as he analyzes and explains the fourth presidency.

4-0 out of 5 stars Madison Did Well In Spite of Himself
The first two or three chapters of this book were tough-going. The writing was choppy because the author kept jumping from his own narrative to lengthy quotes from Madison. But persistence paid off. It may not be the definitive biography of James Madison, but it's a good read.

The book is short and focuses on Madison's presidency, with some background on his accomplishments before becoming president. The story that Garry Wills tells is that James Madison enjoyed a moderately successful presidency in spite of himself. While he was a brilliant and effective member of the legislature, he really didn't have what it takes to be a good president. He was too much of an ideologue and not enough of a pragmatic. One of his big mistakes was the embargo. Both before and during his presidency he believed England was more reliant on trade with the U.S. that the the other way around.

The passages about early naval battles in the War of 1812 were fun: the fledgling United States whipping the most powerful navy in the world. Of course, Madison thought the war could easily be won on land and didn't even think we should have a navy. Nor did he think we should have a federal bank, until he ran out of money to carry on the war. The idea that he was ruining the U.S. economy with his embargo probably never occurred to him.

But the book has a happy ending. The War of 1812 ended without destroying the U.S. Additionally, during Madison's presidency the extreme polarization between the Federalists and the Republicans was tempered quite a bit-more people recognized the need for a stronger federal government. All in all, the United States of America was in a better place at the end of Madison's 8 years as president.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good overview of a disappointing presidency
To me, the "American Presidents" series is one of the more unusual ongoing publication projects. Endeavoring to provide accounts of the people who have occupied the presidency and their terms in office, they have selected a first-class group of writers and historians (such as Sean Wilentz, William Leuchtenburg, and Douglas Brinkley) but often paired them up with subjects a little outside their normal focus - having Robert Remini, the foremost biographer of Andrew Jackson, write on John Quincy Adams instead, for example.

This volume is no different. Garry Wills is one of my favorite writers, the author of many thought-provoking books on subjects as diverse as Saint Augustine, the Gettysburg Address, and John Wayne. While he has written on the era before - his book on the Declaration of Independence is one of the best studies of it available - he has not previously focused on Madison in his publications. Nevertheless, this book is a good introduction to the man. While ostensibly focused on the presidency, Wills does incorporate much about Madison's pre-presidential career, especially in terms of how it shaped a presidency that by common consensus most historians regard as disappointing compared to his pervious accomplishments.

What makes this volume interesting to read, though, is Wills' own analysis. He never shies away from outlining his opinion, and he backs it up with persuasive (though not always convincing) arguments. His examination of Madison's foreign policy in the context of the Jeffersonian tradition is particularly good and alone worth the effort of reading the book. Though there are better books to turn to for a more comprehensive overview of Madison's career (such as Ralph Ketcham's biography), this is an excellent starting point in seeking to understand one of the most important of our Founding Fathers.

4-0 out of 5 stars Well worth a read
Garry Wills has done a solid job with this entry in the American Presidents series. He focuses on one simple question: Why was Madison not a great president? Wills, after detailing Madison's pre-presidential achievements, examines his two terms in office with an eye toward certain types of mistakes that Madison made again and again. His research is outstanding; his writing solid.

4-0 out of 5 stars Concise summary
Garry Willis provides a short, but concise summary of the administration of James Madison. He gives an overview of problems that plagued James Madison as president. Even though Madison was extremely effective at the several Constitutional conventions he attended and was an excellent legislator, being the executive proved to be a more difficult task than Madison could effectively handle.

The one shortcoming, was that at the end of book Willis notes that the Madison presidency experienced a surge in popularity without really delving into the reasons as to why this occured. This surge according to Willis prevents historians from rating Madison a failed president or for that matter an average president. There are some implications as to why this occured, but a more direct address of the issue would have been beneficial. All in all, however, Willis' accounting of the Madison presidency is a good overview into the administration of this president. ... Read more


169. Shadow Lovers: The Last Affairs of H. G. Wells
by Andrea Lynn
list price: $30.00
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Asin: 0813333946
Catlog: Book (2001-12-24)
Publisher: Westview Press
Sales Rank: 353465
Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Nearing age seventy, and in what would be the last decade of his life, H. G. Wells fell in love at least three times-first with the much younger Baroness Moura Budberg, and soon thereafter with two well-born Americans, Constance Coolidge and Martha Gellhorn, twenty-five and forty years his junior, respectively.These would constitute what Wells himself described as his "last flounderings towards the wife idea." The affairs also would demonstrate that Wells was driven less by his considerable intelligence than by his libido, and his obsession to find his ideal lover--what he called his "lover-shadow."

In Shadow Lovers, Andrea Lynn has created a fascinating study of the very personal side of one of the 20th century's greatest thinkers. This self-proclaimed "Don Juan of the Intelligentsia" was said to have "radiated" energy--intellectual, emotional, physical, and sexual, and his assorted charms made him fabulously successful with women. Drawing on papers recently made public by the Wells estate, Lynn traces Wells's relationship with each of these three femmes fatales and sheds light on the many secrets of all of their lives. Along the way she paints a vivid portrait of the early part of the last century in London, Moscow, Paris, Peking, and the United States. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

1-0 out of 5 stars A slipshod effort
The poor quality of this book is indicated by the author's statement that I did not attempt to contact Martha Gellhorn during my research for a biography of herEven a cursory reading of the first edition of Nothing Ever Happens to the Brave: The Story of Martha Gellhorn shows that I did indeed contact Gellhorn, and that I received a reply. ... Read more


170. Stalin and His Hangmen : The Tyrant and Those Who Killed for Him
by DONALD RAYFIELD
list price: $29.95
our price: $19.77
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375506322
Catlog: Book (2004-12-07)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 69603
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171. A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer : The Life of William Dampier
by Diana Preston, Michael Preston
list price: $27.00
our price: $17.82
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802714250
Catlog: Book (2004-04-01)
Publisher: Walker & Company
Sales Rank: 5817
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Far more than a pirate story
Why should this wonderfully written book not only be read by those who admire Captain Cook, or who just enjoy seafarer and pirate stories? Answer: the Prestons' book offers much more. In Dampier, the Prestons have revived a man who found his bliss and passion in observing nature. And, who, in the company of primitive and brutal sailors, under exhausting conditions, hunger and illness, never ceased studying, and reflecting on, his observations of nature. His greatest good was not money or jewels - it was his extensive notes that he saved through ship wreckage and other incredible hardships of a twelve-year long journey around the world. Preceding Cook, Banks and Darwin by nearly a century, Dampier may be considered the first in this lineage. The book describes the man and what became of him - a person who started out to realize his bliss, not helped by a cozy grant or sponsorship but as a semi-legalized pirate. Thus, "The Pirate of Exquisite Mind" is a book for those who enjoy a meticulously researched, well-told story, but especially for those who admire the powers that develop from a deeply internalized vocation. Dampier wouldn't have survived without that.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dampier's amazing life ably told
On the heels of her seminal work on the Lusitania, Diana Preston (this time with her husband as co-author) has brought back to life the extraordinary pirate/naturalist William Dampier.
This story would not work as fiction as it would be dismissed as unrealistic. Dampier circumnavigated the world alongside pirates engaged in plundering, raping and killing. During his journeys Dampier found time to record observations of flora and fauna, animals of all descriptions, currents and native peoples. He was also a geographer and surveyor.
It may seem an understatement to say that Dampier was a man ahead of his times. Not only did Dampier take copious notes; he took good ones. Dampier was a dedicated and skilled "reporter". He was the first European to make observations of various animals, plants and places, coining a few words and terms to boot. His sensitivy towards and respect for indigenous people was in sharp contrast to the prevailing racist attitudes common among most 17th century Europeans.
Dampier's travels took him to the Caribbean, Virginia, Central America, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand Indonesia, and the Philippines, just to name a few locales. His pirating days eventually gave way to more legitimate if no less risky adventures, including serving the British navy. It was in his role as central leader of expeditions that we finally see a man who, like the rest of us, is flawed. Dampier became, not surprisingly, a noted author whose observations influenced generations to come, perhaps most notably Captain James Cook and Charles Darwin.
Happily, the Prestons are up to the task of telling Dampier's story. Their account of Dampier's life is richly detailed, paying the proper respect to his scientific discoveries and observations while spinning exciting yarns of pirates at their swashbuckling best. The Prestons make a valuable addition to the growing body of work depicting sea life in days of yore. The harsh and filthy reality of shipboard is laid bare and the reader is treated to an account of a shipboard cure for constipation which will leave one squirming.
This is a thoroughly entertaining story and an important book in understanding both the Age of Exploration and the Englightenment. One eagerly awaits the Preston's next work.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Book of Exquisite Value
Finally, Diana and Michael Preston have rescued this lonely castaway of history. "A Pirate of Exquisite Mind" is the first thorough, contemporary biography of Dampier. Handsome, enigmatic, controversial in life and a virtual shadow since his death almost 300 years ago, Dampier has until now never been properly accorded the recognition he deserves. But he is a quintessential anti-hero, a man who could write expertly of ocean winds and currents, and who witnessed tortured, dying Spanish prisoners being thrown into those currents.

There have been other biographies of Dampier, but this is the first that discusses his life as an extension of the customs and mores of his time. When Dampier takes the mysterious and elusive "Judith" as his wife, the Prestons devote several paragraphs to discussion of a typical marriage ceremony, as well as the very liberal sexual attitudes of late 17th century London. This liberality extends as well to the buccaneers, many of whom maintained homosexual relationships, in addition to sharing their women. Additionally, the Prestons get inside Dampier's mind, speculating on the motivations that compelled him to do certain "unsavory" things, though which Dampier was understandably reticent to reveal in his books. For instance, when Dampier makes the crucial decision to follow his companions in joining his first buccaneer expedition in 1679, Dampier wrote that since he was "left alone...I was more easily persuaded to go with them too." But the Prestons are keen enough to recognize that "Dampier probably knew in advance whom he would meet at Negril Bay - a favorite buccaneer haunt - even if he did not admit this in his book." Their recognition of Dampier's hidden motives provides a narrative flow that was missing in Dampier's own writings, adding color and connecting the disparate episodes in his life.

The Prestons relied heavily on Dampier's own writings (most of what we know about Dampier comes from his books). But in addition to reading about where Dampier voyaged, they traced Dampier's exhaustive journeys around the globe (albeit under more modern circumstances) to give their biography both flavor and authenticity. They also plundered the vaults of the British Library, Royal Society, and public record offices for original sources, and painstakingly made comparisons of Dampier's massive draft manuscript with his later published work. Again, this exactitude and depth of research separates this biography from any that have come before. We not only learn about the incidents of Dampier's life, but we get a glimpse at his motivations and thought processes.

We also learn about the society in which Dampier lived. We learn the differences between privateering, buccaneering, and piracy. How did late 17th-century London view buccaneering? Not too favorably, which is one of the reasons why Dampier's legacy was tainted early on. There was certainly a dark side to Dampier. He was a poor leader, clashed openly with his men, and there were accusations of beatings. He failed in a later mission to circumnavigate Australia, his ship floundered off Ascension Island, and he was eventually court-martialed. A later privateering expedition headed by Dampier ended in disaster. On his last expedition, he was relegated to the role of navigator. Like so many other contradictory giants of history, he died in obscurity, and his burial spot is unknown.

William Dampier was the only "pirate" to have had his portrait made. When the Prestons were in the midst of their research, they visited the British Library to view the original painting done by Thomas Murray in the 1690s. Since then, so few people have been interested in Dampier that the curator at the library had to actually dig out the painting from the basement and remove the dust. If there is any justice in this world, the publication of "A Pirate of Exquisite Mind" will ensure that the portrait of William Dampier remains on full display for the world to see.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Real life Pirate's Tale with lots of Swashbuckling Action
Within these pages is a wealth of compelling information about a fascinating bygone age. William Dampier was a scientist, pioneer and writer whose influence is still being felt today, despite the fact that he is less remembered than many of the other bold thinkers of his time.

Yet what got me the most excited in this book by the Prestons was the in-depth exploration of the pirate world. This book provides riveting insight into a world that previously seemed mythical: the pirates of the Caribbean. The Prestons dramatically show how these swashbuckling societies developed, functioned and crumbled, as well as the economic and political forces that brought about these events.

This is the inspirational story of a man who pushed himself -- striving to go beyond his time's intellectual and geographical limits.

5-0 out of 5 stars Long overdue and an Exquisite Book
If you have an interest in the buccaneers, or in the expansion of the British Empire, or in natural history, or seafaring in the days of sail, this is required reading. If you are interested in the world when a voyage could take years and many men never came back, a world where the broadside and the sword were master, this book is for you. It's entertaining, educational, inspirational, and has a sweep seldom found. I wish I could rate the book higher than 5 stars. Dampier I would rate ten. ... Read more


172. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
by Martin Luther King Jr., Clayborne Carson
list price: $15.95
our price: $10.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446676500
Catlog: Book (2001-01-01)
Publisher: Warner Books
Sales Rank: 20221
Average Customer Review: 4.55 out of 5 stars
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Download Description

A professor of history and the noted author and editor of several books on the civil rights struggle, Dr. Clayborne Carson was selected by the estate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to edit and publish Dr. King's papers. Drawing upon an unprecedented archive of King's own words--including unpublished letters and diaries, as well as video footage and recordings--Dr. Carson creates an unforgettable self-portrait of Dr. King. In his own vivid, compassionate voice, here is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as student, minister, husband, father, and world leader . . . as well as a rich, moving chronicle of a people and a nation in the face of powerful--and still resonating--change. ... Read more

Reviews (29)

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding! An excellent read!
The book "The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr." is Stanford University historian Clayborne Carson's amazing account of one of the most impressive leaders to have ever lived.

This is an outstanding biography and it accounts for the full story of Dr. King, literally from cradle to grave. Martin Luther King Jr. at university, when he met his wife Coretta, their children being born, the movement begins, fights and struggles, getting arrested etc. etc. Carson does an absolutely amazing job transporting the reader into Dr. King's thoughts, ideas and feelings. I have only read a couple of other biographies that I rank as high as I rank this one. The other two are Che Guevara and Malcolm X's biographies.

Few people are given strength, means and opportunity to make a real and great impact in the world. Martin Luther King Jr. was not only given such opportunity; he seized upon his opportunity as well. His fights and sacrifices made life better not only for millions of black people in America - his fight made the world a better place to be for all of us.

The author uses Dr. King's letters, college papers, and speeches; such as the "I have a dream" speech from 1963, and the Nobel Peace Prize speech from 1964 when telling his story. I had never read the whole "I have a dream" speech, so I greatly enjoyed that.

Carson has done a great jobs combining his own research with Dr. King's own speeches and writings and this is all masterfully woven together into a unique biography. Dr. King had a huge impact on the Civil Right movement, and he made his way into American history as one of its greatest, most charismatic leaders ever.

My recommendation is given for two reasons. Firstly, Dr. King is an extraordinary interesting subject, but also because of Carson's excellent job writing this biography.

Great read - highly recommended!

5-0 out of 5 stars The Manifestation of a great Man
The autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr. is a manifestation of his thoughts, words, philosophies, and his way of life, reborn and written by Clayborne Carson. Carson has done a great job re-writing Kings life, and combining his letters, and speeches, and notes with his words to create the world of Martin Luther King again for us. The book gives us good insight on MLK's life, and his impact on the civil rights movement. You get to know his standpoints well, and how the man worked things out. Sadly you mostly can read about MLK's life inside the civil rights movement, and less about him at home, or his relationship with his family. This is a good one to help you gain insight on the civil rights movement of that time, and all in all, is a great and interesting book to read even if the civil rights is not your main interest.

5-0 out of 5 stars If Nothing Else
This book should be must reading (or in my case listening) for all Americans. The threads of a single man's search for freedom for all are woven in a tapestry of the times he lived with powerful choices of recorded speeches.
I had two of my daughters listen to his reading of his letter from the Birmingham jail and the conversation that followed enriched all of us. Current "Black Leaders" would do well to seek inspiration from his words and recall a time when the motivating factors were the need for freedom, justice and equality independant of financial desires other than the monies needed to accomplish the task at hand. His views of Malcolm X were also well laid out and deserve attention beyond the hollywood version.
If you weren't black then, sympathy is easy but empathy requires study ... this book goes a long way.

5-0 out of 5 stars Immortal Beloved
As I sit here listening to Beethoven, it strikes me that MLK, like Beethoven, will be a man for all ages to come. Both have given the world a gift that we must cherish and always remember.

Let me first say, that I too am glad that Dr. King did not sneeze. That would have been a loss of an unimaginable magnitude.

The other reviewers of this book are on target. This is an extraordinary piece of literature that should be a must read for all students. I was midway through my seventh year when Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis. And although I remember the event it did not resonate fully with me until last year when I took a master's level Civil Rights course. Throughout my own formative years of primary, secondary, and post-secondary liberal arts education, none of my history or social studies courses concentrated on this era of American History. This is a sad commentary and an oversight that needs to change.

Martin Luther King, Jr., was a great man in American History and must be given the credit deserving of his greatness - the book, as articulated by the other reviewers, provides a comprehensive look into that greatness. It is my opinion that God was truly with this man as he undertook his overwhelming mission to obtain freedom and equality for a people so maligned by the majority.

This book was so well-written that I even read the Editor's Acknowledgements. It is so well-written that one can easily become lost in time and simply continue to read chapter after chapter. I could go on, but will stop. I wish to thank Mrs. Coretta Scott King for her undying devotion to her husband and his work; to console her for her unfathomable loss thirty-five years ago, and for not only reviewing this book for accuracy before publication, but also to permit its publication so that Americans from all backgrounds may appreciate and learn.

5-0 out of 5 stars how can we change the world?
This is at one level an uplifting autobiography of an extraordinary man but at another level it is a guide to us a people living in a cynical (we call it "realistic") age in which we are bombarded by so many causes; all of them claiming to worthwhile, all of them claiming that they will uplift human dignity and freedom. How can we choose amongst these causes? How can we tell which cause is truly just and, having decided, how do we champion it effectively?

In his autobiography, Martin Luther King helps us do so. He explains that "constructive ends can never give absolute moral justification to destructive means, because in the final analysis the end is preexistent in the means" (20). Thus, if those whose cause we would champion are murdering babies to achieve justice, the end they and we will achieve will be child murderers whether we want it or not. But if those whose cause we would champion march peacefully to save a life, write countless letters on behalf of a starving child, collect money so that a woman who has been cast out by her society and is facing death might have a good legal defense, then we can be assured that the end we will achieve with our peaceful means will be a saved and happy life. Not least of all our own.

And how should we effectively champion our truly just cause; a cause we know is just because the means its proponents use to achieve their ends are right and noble? We should concentrate on one issue at a time, highlighting that one issue by non-violent means. And we must use nonviolence for today we do not face a choice between violence and non-violence but between "nonviolence and nonexistence" (360).

So let us choose, in our cause and in our methods existence over the nihilism of all too many movements that claim to be revolutionary and yet which "reject the one thing that keep the fire of revolutions burning: the ever-present flame of hope" (329). Let us choose those causes that would bring our fellow men and women life and that would bring us all hope. Let us follow in the footsteps of Dr Martin Luther King and, like him, not follow false causes that (like the Black Power Movement he gives as an example) promise much but deliver only death and despair. ... Read more


173. Love and Hate in Jamestown : John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Heart of a New Nation
by David Price
list price: $25.95
our price: $17.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375415416
Catlog: Book (2003-10-07)
Publisher: Knopf
Sales Rank: 29141
Average Customer Review: 4.82 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A gripping narrative of one of the great survival stories of American history: the opening of the first permanent English settlement in the New World. Drawing on period letters and chronicles, and on the papers of the Virginia Company–which financed the settlement of Jamestown–David Price tells a tale of cowardice and courage, stupidity and brilliance, tragedy and costly triumph. He takes us into the day-to-day existence of the English men and women whose charge was to find gold and a route to the Orient, and who found, instead, hardship and wretched misery. Death, in fact, became the settlers’ most faithful companion, and their infighting was ceaseless.

Price offers a rare balanced view of the relationship between the settlers and the natives. He unravels the crucial role of Pocahontas, a young woman whose reality has been obscured by centuries of legend and misinformation (and, more recently, animation). He paints indelible portraits of Chief Powhatan, the aged monarch who came close to ending the colony’s existence, and Captain John Smith, the former mercenary and slave, whose disdain for class distinctions infuriated many around him–even as his resourcefulness made him essential to the colony’s success.

Love and Hate in Jamestown is a superb work of popular history, reminding us of the horrors and heroism that marked the dawning of our nation.
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Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Readable Book of Interest to All
Love and Hate in Jamestown is an appropriate title for this fascinating book. Details of the love between John Rolfe and Pocahontas that developed into marriage, a trip to England, and her untimely death are provided. We are also provided with details of the uneasy relationship between the native Americans and the English settlers as they each tried to put up a front of friendship with the other. If the book has a hero, it would be John Smith who dealt with the environment in Jamestown, Virginia, as it was, not as the settlers wanted it to be. Many of the settlers were "gentlemen" who knew nothing about getting their hands dirty in work. Looking for gold was first and foremost in their minds. Among the settlers were workers and shirkers. Initially, food was provided for all from a common storehouse, but this method didn't encourage everyone to do their share of work. Jealously and envy were enemies of the settlers as to who they wanted as a leader. Not only was there hate towards the common enemy, the native Americans, but towards each other as well. Author David Price believes the story of Smith being saved by Pocahontas to be authentic. History is about people who lived in a different period under different circumstances. This is the story of America's beginnings told in a most effective manner.

4-0 out of 5 stars New understanding of a familar story
One might shy away -- with a Disney-phobic mind-set -- from a book about the Jamestown colony, John Smith, and, of course, Pocahontas. Most of us feel we know the story anyway. "Love and Hate in Jamestown" by David Price however fills in the familiar outline with some new muscles and sinews.

The book principally follows the history of Smith and of the Jamestown colony from the departure of the three ship flotilla from London in 1606 until Smith's death in 1631. This history is of course in large measure one of relations with the Indians. Price, not a historian, has written for both the Wall Street Journal and Investor's Business Daily, so the economic motivations and structure of the colony also are given significant attention.

The story is told in a straight-forward style that is largely a strength, but at times makes it seem to be no more than a summary of others' work. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Certainly, it's a well-documented book, with an extensive Bibliography.

The book highlights many facets of the Jamestown/Smith story that add to a reader's understanding. I found certain aspects especially effective in this regard. 1) John Smith's background as a commoner, fighter for Dutch independence, self-taught student of military tactics (especially munitions), enlistee in Austrian forces battling the Ottoman Empire, and a captive slave to the Turks. 2) The ease with which the Spanish could have destroyed the colony, changing the whole course of North American history, and the big power politics that led King Philip of Spain to inaction. 3) The evolving expectations of the Virginia Company's managers back in England of what they could expect as return on their investment.

At the well-known and crucial point in the story, the author does an effective job of recreating the circumstances of Smith's capture by the Powhatans and Pocahontas' role in his deliverance from certain death.

Although strong in presenting these various facets, the book suffers I believe from the lack of a centralizing focus. At many points it seems a biography of Smith, then veers into the dramatic details of the colony's travails after Smith is shipped back to England, then returns to a focus on Smith as he struggles to find an avenue for returning to the New World. Each shift of attention seems abrupt and the level of detail varies uncomfortably.

John Smith apparently kept good notes while in Virginia and then wrote extensively about his colonizing experiences. Price of course draws heavily on these narratives and appears to always accept Smith's version of events. This is both natural (Smith had many supporters who verified his accounts) and somewhat unbalanced. The book paints the other colonial leaders - with whom Smith was in unremitting conflict - as incredibly selfish, naïve, and catastrophically unwilling to learn from their mistakes. A more nuanced depiction of those with whom Smith clashed would have added depth to the book.

Oddly, while the book does deal with disease among the settlers, there is no such discussion of the role European germs might have played in the decimation of the natives. This is a disconcerting omission. Price also has an amateurish habit of unnecessarily foreshadowing events: "shortly he would disclose it", "before long, he would owe her his life several times over", and "Smith would not learn of this for a long time to come".

There are two well-rendered maps, one of the voyage from England through the West Indies and onto the North American coast, and one of the layout of Indian tribes in the large area surrounding Jamestown. A map of the colony and its immediate area would have been helpful, particularly since recent archaeological efforts have added greatly to knowledge of the site. The web site of "Jamestown Rediscovery" (http://www.apva.org/jr.html) provides a useful adjunct while reading Price's book.

Some notes on "Editorial Method" (covering the rendering of dialogue, spelling, place names, dates, etc.) follow the main text. These would have been better placed as an introduction. Readers would be advised to read these notes first.

I have no hesitation in an overall recommendation for "Love and Hate in Jamestown". It should add extensively to the general reader's understanding of a nation's beginnings and the crucial role played by one of history's most singular characters.

5-0 out of 5 stars Love and Hate in Jamestown
Once you get past the mass market title you will find this to be a remarkably enjoyable and easy to read history of the Jamestown Colony, beginning in 1607. The star character is Capt. John Smith, who comes across as someone you would really, really like to have by your side in any dangerous situation. But - at first at least - he was not the boss. Indeed, some of those above him seem not to have the sense they were born with. But they did have what was important to the company back in England: Royal Blood.

Read how Capt. Smith, in spite of the odds, managed to save the colony, how he met and befriended the brave Pocahontas (who saved his life twice and the lives of many other settlers, and whose picture ought to be on a U. S. coin (perhaps in 2007)), and how he was essentially forced to return to England. His leaving practically spelled doom for the colonists, some of whom had to resort to cannibalism to stay alive.

Pilgrim & Mayflower buffs: To me, this book pointed out very clearly that perhaps the biggest mistake the Pilgrims would make in 1620 was in not hiring Capt. John Smith to be their military leader when they had the chance (no reflection on Myles Standish, who did an outstanding job, but didn't have the experience).

All in all a magnificent book and one that ought to be required reading to all with an interest in American history.

5-0 out of 5 stars What really happened at Jamestown
I learned my American history in grade school and high school in the 50s and early 60s, when all of the early leaders were courageous and only interested in liberty and justice. Throughout the years since then, revisionist historians have given us a different, and often darker, picture of what happened in the early colonial times. There's no quarrel from me on that score, because I feel that only a nation which is capable of confronting its past mistakes can move on to a better future. This book, about the founding of Jamestown, gives us a "warts and all" view of the settlement and its earliest founders, with emphasis on John Smith. The relations with the indigenous population is covered extensively, and we see a far different side of the story than I was spoonfed in grade school. Our forefathers were, to a large extent in Jamestown, only interested in extracting the supposed mineral wealth which just "lay around" for the taking, and they thought that the natives would have no problem with that, even as the colonists settled in their ancient territories. We get an extremely well written tale, one that doesn't stint on telling the darker side of both settlers and natives, and they both appear rather evenly matched in attitudes, although the natives were more concerned with the land, and the settlers with the gold they expected to find. This colony of Jamestown was one of the beginnings of the English settlement of North America, and as such it is very important in our national history. We should read these books that remove our early student "blinders", and still appreciate what was accomplished under some extremely adverse conditions. I may not like a lot of the settlers I met in the pages of this book, but I have come to admire them, even as I admire the fortitude of the natives who confronted them on their home territoty.

5-0 out of 5 stars Price Simplifies the Complex
The literature of Jamestown exemplifies a history of frustrating complexity. This is partly because the history of Jamestown has become the playing field of propagandists (e.g. post Revolutionary Americans justifying the Revolution, as Tisdale says, by putting down the "gentlemen" of the colony) to Henry Adams, one of the otherwise great minds of America-perhaps its greatest-who admittedly set out to demolish the history of the South in the Civil War era, as Price himself points out. Romanticists have enjoyed a field day inventing a relationship that never existed between a mature John Smith and the child Pocahontas, and Smith himself is so unlikable a hero as to make an unpleasant historical subject. Add the fact that most of the productive research on Jamestown in our century has been archaeological or documentary, and add the fact that during the period concerned Jamestown officials come and go and return again, one is presented with a kaleidascope of confusion. Only with the recent publication of JAMESTOWN NARRATIVES, which arranges the sources in an order comprehensible to the gentle reader and Ivor Noel Hume's outstanding THE VIRGINIA ADVENTURE, has the picture begun to come together for any but the specialists. Bearing in mind that Hume, one of the world's top archaeologists, covers both the Roanoke settlement and Jamestown, this is the first modern book I have seen that embodies the latest research, deals only with Jamestown and does so in a way that is both accurate and readable. This is an excellent starting place for anyone who wants to understand the early colony.

I do have one very small problem with the volume. The gentlmen still come off badly. Contentious, prickly, arrogant and self interested, they undoubtedly were, but their contribution to the colony was considerable, as the adventurers who explored and fought. But this (which I must admit is my own take) is more than overcome by Price's masterful account of how John Smith, one man of rather minor status, brought order out of chaos. It is hard to like Smith, but without him, I think there would have been no Virginia. And it is very easy to like Price, who has done us the inestimable favor of,at last, bringing the threads of the tapestry together. ... Read more


174. The First Elizabeth
by Carolly Erickson
list price: $17.95
our price: $12.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 031216842X
Catlog: Book (1997-08-15)
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Sales Rank: 125887
Average Customer Review: 4.32 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In this remarkable biography, Carolly Erickson brings Elizabeth I to life and allows us to see her as a living, breathing, elegant, flirtatious, diplomatic, violent, arrogant, and outrageous woman who commands our attention, fascination, and awe.

With the special skill for which she is acclaimed, Carolly Erickson electrifies the senses as she evokes with total fidelity the brilliant colors of Elizabethan clothing and jewelry, the texture of tapestries, and even the close, perfumed air of castle rooms. Erickson demonstrates her extraordinary ability to discern and bring to life psychological and physical reality.
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Reviews (19)

2-0 out of 5 stars A Very Difficult Read
I have read a couple of her books, Mistress Anne and Bonnie Prince Charlie, and I enjoyed them. So when I got The First Elizabeth was extremely disappointed. Having read dozens of books on Elizabeth and knowing something about the subject, this book does not really paint an accurate picture in my opinion. She writes more on gossip and rumours without giving acutal facts. There are accurate statements but they are not in evidence on the whole. She also tended(IMO) to side more with Mary Tudor, who was not as intelligent or politically astute as Elizabeth. She gave the feeling that Mary was just misunderstood. The author seemed to relish in court gossip especially from Elizabeth's maids of honour. I would recommend Mary M. Luke's, Gloriana: The Years Of Elizabeth I, and Alison Weir's, The Life of Elizabeth I before I would recommend this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars The First Elizabeth- A great book about the Virgin Queen
This book is absolutely the best. I had to read it for a school biography and had a really great time learning about Queen Elizabeth. Her character, power, and history simply amaze me, and has gotten me more interested in world history. I feel very satisfied with the book and can't wait to read more of Ericksons books.

4-0 out of 5 stars Nearly reads like a novel ...
I tend to read mostly fiction, but for some reason earlier this year I decided to foray into biographies. This book gives you a peek into Elizabethan life, gives you insight into Elizabeth I's personality, and you learn quite a lot of history, scandals, and rumours-of-the-day along the way.

This book reads more like a biographical novel than a pure biography, which, considering the subject matter is about 500-years old, probably means some license was taken with dialogue, etc., however, I think the style makes the subject infinitely more memorable.

4-0 out of 5 stars First Elizabeth a reading pleasure
The major difference in "The First Elizabeth" by Carolly Erickson and "The Life of Elizabeth I" by Alison Weir is stylistic. Both women are thoroughly versed in the life of their royal subject, and obviously enthusiastic about her as well.

Erickson's style, however, leans more toward novelistic narrative. She seems to be sitting with you, telling you a story about this great monarch with her infamous "virgin" status, her political adeptness, her fearsome temper, her penchant for swearing oaths that made one's blood freeze, and her ability to command deep love and adoration from her subjects.

This style is especially appealing for those for whom this biography is their first foray into Tudor biography. It introduces the major players in the queen's life thoroughly so that one is well acquainted with Robert Dudley, Cecil and Walsingham, as well as Mary I and the many other colorful characters that populated the Queen's life. You also get a real feel for the terror and uncertainty of Elizabeth's youth, when she lived in fear of death at the hands of her unstable, Catholic sister.

Erickson adroitly paints a stunning (and sometimes shocking) picture of life at court - and what a life it must have been. Living at the various castles Elizabeth moved between (they changed castles regularly so that the one previously used could be cleaned and "aired out") was far from our 21st century idea of luxury, and when you read about the trials and travails inherent in the Queen's annual "progresses", you'll never gripe about rush-hour traffic again!

Again, I would recommend this to anyone starting out to read about Elizabeth I, and to the reader already familiar with the life of the greatest queen of England. Those of the latter group might find that the author falls in love a bit too much with her subject (and who wouldn't, as this lady is one of the most fascinating people in history). In some places towards the end the flow of the narrative (going from event to event) isn't quite as seamless as it could be (you feel as though you are jumping from one to the other without a lead-in sentence/paragraph) but never mind that. Erickson does a marvelous job of painting a portrait of the life and times of Elizabeth and it's a most pleasurable learning experience and enjoyable read.

After finishing "Elizabeth I", the reader would do well to continue on with Weir's biography mentioned above. I started with Weir and am now committed to reading Erickson's extensive series on the Tudors, including "Great Harry", "Mistress Anne", etc.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hail Britainia
A great book about a Queen whose story reads more like "The Godfather" than you'd guess.

Elizabeth I, thrust onto the throne while her country was still in the midst of it's centuries-long emergence from Roman rule, turned England into Great Britain through a heady mixture of guile, guts, and British steel(How's that for rhetoric?).

It's a great book, as are most of Erickson's titles. ... Read more


175. Saladin: All-Powerful Sultan and the Uniter of Islam
by Stanley Lane-Poole
list price: $18.95
our price: $12.89
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Asin: 0815412347
Catlog: Book (2002-09-01)
Publisher: Cooper Square Publishers
Sales Rank: 227416
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Lane-Poole's classic biography of Saladin, the chivalrous opponent of Richard the Lionheart, depicts the sultan's decisive victories during the Crusades and his ambitious creation of an Islamic empire. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars The life story of a truly unique leader
Written by the late British historian Stanley Lane-Pools (1854-1931), Saladin: All-powerful Sultan And The Uniter Of Islam is an informed and informative biography of the great warrior, statesman, and faithful believer in Islam, Salah ad-Din ibn Ayyub, more commonly known as Saladin (A.D. 1138-1193). From his early years in a Kurdish military family to the beginning of his military service at age fourteen, to his conquest of Jerusalem marked by an unprecedentedly humane treatment of the citizens within, to his belief and application of civilized justice, Saladin: All-powerful Sultan And The Uniter Of Islam is the life story of a truly unique leader who deservedly earned his legendary status both in the West as well as throughout Islam. ... Read more


176. John F. Kennedy : A Biography
by Michael O'Brien
list price: $35.00
our price: $23.10
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Asin: 0312281293
Catlog: Book (2005-03-01)
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Sales Rank: 451130
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177. Profiles in Courage
by John F. Kennedy
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
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Asin: 0060530626
Catlog: Book (2003-03-01)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Sales Rank: 54071
Average Customer Review: 3.71 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"This is a book about that most admirable of human virtues-- courage. 'Grace under pressure,' Ernest Hemingway defined it. And these are the stories of the pressures experienced by eight United States Senators and the grace with which they endured them."

-- John F. Kennedy

During 1954-1955, John F. Kennedy, then a U.S. Senator, chose eight of his historical colleagues to profile for their acts of astounding integrity in the face of overwhelming opposition. These heroes include John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster, Thomas Hart Benton, and Robert A. Taft.

Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1957, Profiles in Courage -- now reissued in this handsome hardcover edition, featuring a new introduction by Caroline Kennedy, as well as Robert Kennedy's foreword written for the memorial edition of the volume in 1964 -- resounds with timeless lessons on the most cherished of virtues and is a powerful reminder of the strength of the human spirit. It is as Robert Kennedy states in the foreword, "not just stories of the past but a hook of hope and confidence for the future. What happens to the country, to the world, depends on what we do with what others have left us."

... Read more

Reviews (62)

5-0 out of 5 stars This book brings out the true meaning of patriotism.
With the recent impeachment of President Clinton by the U.S. House of Representatives, and the impending trial in the Senate, "Profiles in Courage" gives an appropriate historical persepective on the impact of the impeachment process. This book allows the reader to truly understand the immense pressure each member of Congress was under at the time of the impeachement of President Andrew Johnson. It also brings into focus the sheer magnitude of the duties we have bestowed on members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate today. This book points out that an impeachement trial should not be taken lightly. As was demonstrated in "Profiles in Courage", John Kennedy skillfully portrays the agony Edmund G. Ross went through before making his decision to cast a not guilty vote - saving President Johnson - from being thrown out of office. Ross'decision would have a resounding impact on the Constitution and the history of our nation. Now, 130 years later, members of the U.S. Senate are being asked to face the same challenges that Senator Ross faced. This portion of "Profiles" should be read by every member of the U.S. Senate before any votes to throw the president out of office are cast.

5-0 out of 5 stars Courage is indeed a virtue
John F. Kennedy presented to America a book that obviously would have stood out for all time as one of the most patriotic and true books ever to be written about the courage to stand up for what you believe is right. The central theme that Profiles In Courage emphasizes is that courage is a virtue that should, and has been, a trait which only a few Senators have shared. JFK was himself a senator at the time that this book saw the light of day in 1957. Perhaps it goes without mention that this book reveals the author's courage in the face of opposition. JFK biographers have pointed out on numerous occasions that President Kennedy was, as a youth,taught to stand up for your rights. Every senator portrayed here in this masterpiece tells a different story, but every single one of them never allowed themselves to be subjected to a popular referendum. Politicians today have lost sight of some of the most sought after virtues in America and within the United States Government. Our nation's leaders should take a good look at this book and read every chapter, word for word, until they understand, as did JFK, that political courage is always learned and never aquired. I would recommend this book to any serious American who is concerned with the way in which the United States is being governed.

4-0 out of 5 stars A must buy
I have never been a big fan of JFK and I have found that many things remotely associated with him to be unnecessarily praised because he is a Kennedy, American royalty. However, I found the book "a must buy" for the two objectives JFK wanted to demonstrate:
- The courage of individuals at key points in their careers who risked and usually lost everything for what they believed in
- That politicians are forced in their careers to balance of the interests of their parties, their voters, their state, the nation, and their conscience. It is very hard to serve so many masters.
The book increased my understanding of the difficulty of the political process.

5-0 out of 5 stars Courage Defined
John F. Kennedy was an award winning writing before he became President. While I have long intended to read his best known book, I have only recently acted on the opportunity. Although my primary interest in American history is relegated to more recent history, I found "Profiles in Courage"to be a very pleasurable read.

Kennedy chose a select group of senators with courageous motives to be the subject of his book. The time periods of the senators are as diverse as their deeds. John Q. Adams is the discussed for his valor in voting against the Federalist principles he was elected to defend. His actions made him unpopular in his home state of Massachusetts. Daniel Webster is noted for his attempts to keep the union together. Thomas Hart Benton refused to allow Missouri to leave the union while combating the Kansas-Nebraska Bill. Sam Houston turned most of the state of Texas against himself by refusing to allow Texas to leave the union. Edmund Ross perhaps received more abuse than any of the senators mentioned in the book for being the vote that prevented Andrew Jackson's conviction on impeachment charges. Lucius Quintas Cincinnatus Lamar became the unpopluar southern senator to bridge the gap with the North in the Reconstruction. George Norris caused an end to the political machine the senate had become in his time. Robert Taft became to unpopular spokesman for the illegalities of the Nuremberg Trials. Most of these men sacrificed their political careers for their stance. These stories are refreshing in an era of partisan politics. It is difficult to image similar acts today.

Although Kennedy was never allowed to reach his potential as a President, he proves to be an accomplished writer. Kennedy unintentionally raises questions about the functioning of the senate and government in general. It must be questioned if a democracy is truly working if the main goal of a senator or elected official is to be reelected. With reelection at stake, can any elected official vote for the best interest of the country if it is unpopular with the people? Government is intended to act in the people's best interest. It must be considered if appointed senators were more effective than elected senators. While there may be no easy answer to this, pondering the question and potentially making changes is an example effective democracy.

5-0 out of 5 stars The prescience to transcend
Edmund G. Ross(R). Who is he? How could someone so unknown be so significant in saving our country during a time of unprecedented peril? From threats both near and far, Ross was under a seemingly insurmountable burden to vote for impeachment, he chose, however, to exhibit "the courage to vote according to the dictates of my judgment and for the highest good of the country." This courage to uphold the Constitution and ignore the rabble rouser constituents of his native Kansas and the ever-strident Radical Republicans emboldened him to cast the deciding vote in acquitting President Andrew Johnson from certifiable impeachment -- by one vote. In doing so, Ross sagaciously restored order in the most tumultuous time in our history, and more importantly, forever rescued the dwindling autonomy of the executive branch from an increasingly partisan Congressional autocracy.

While this profound book chronicles the trials and tribulations of an impressive, yet eclectic, group of Senators all the way from the courageous John Quincy Adams up until the principled Robert A. Taft, I found one prevailing theme to be both extolled ad nauseam yet rarely enacted -- the laudable attribute of unassailable principled conviction in a time of unfathomable duress which, oftentimes, leads to grave repercussions.

"The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a time of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality."
- Robert F. Kennedy in the foreword ... Read more


178. Thomas Jefferson
by R. B. Bernstein
list price: $26.00
our price: $16.38
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0195169115
Catlog: Book (2003-08-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 5350
Average Customer Review: 4.19 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Thomas Jefferson designed his own tombstone, describing himself simply as 'Author of the Declaration of Independence and of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia.' It is in this simple epitaph that R.B. Bernstein finds the key to this enigmatic Founder--not as a great political figure, but as leader of 'a revolution of ideas that would make the world over again.' In Thomas Jefferson, Bernstein offers the definitive short biography of this revered American--the first concise life in six decades.Bernstein deftly synthesizes the massive scholarship on his subject into a swift, insightful, evenhanded account.Here are all of Jefferson's triumphs, contradictions, and failings, from his luxurious (and debt-burdened) life as a Virginia gentleman to his passionate belief in democracy, from his tortured defense of slavery to his relationship with Sally Hemings. Jefferson was indeed multifaceted--an architect, inventor, writer, diplomat, propagandist, planter, party leader--and Bernstein explores all these roles even as he illuminates Jefferson's central place in the American enlightenment, that 'revolution of ideas' that did so much to create the nation we know today. Together with the less well-remembered points in Jefferson's thinking--the nature of the Union, his vision of who was entitled to citizenship, his dread of debt (both personal and national)--they form the heart of this lively biography.In this marvel of compression and comprehension, we see Jefferson more clearly than in the massive studies of earlier generations. More important, we see, in Jefferson's visionary ideas, the birth of the nation's grand sense of purpose. ... Read more

Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars The best one volume Jefferson biography I've read
A great book. This wonderful biography takes an unbiased look at the life of Thomas Jefferson. By not trying to stir things up or offer his opinion on an unresolvable issue, Bernstein succeeds in bring Jefferson's life into clear focus.

Well written and very informative, this would be a great indroduction, or a great re-introduction, to Jefferson. From there you can try the many other Jefferson biographies (Dumas Malone's 6 Volume Set, etc..) or one of the many book that examine his character and/or certain events in his life (American Sphinx, Understanding Jefferson, Negro President, etc...).

Highly Recommended!

5-0 out of 5 stars Response to Richard E. Dixon
I read with mingled exasperation and disappointment Richard E. Dixon's misleading amazon.com review of my book. To cite particulars:

* There was no way for me to cover everything in a book of this length, so an omission of a statement that Jefferson's work on the Virginia capitol was the introduction of classical forms of architecture to America is hardly an error or a fumble.

* I grounded my interpretation of Napoleon's actions regarding the Louisiana Purchase on the work of Peter Onuf, Jon Kukla, Lawrence Kaplan, Roger Kennedy, and Alexander De Conde. Since my book appeared, the recent Monticello Monograph by James E. Lewis has appeared, and is in accord with the arguments already cited. If he disagrees with their -- and my -- interpetations, that is a disagreement, not a historical error.

* On page 74, I wrote that Jefferson HELPED to move Madison from opposing a bill of rights to favoring it. I have noted the four reasons that Madison made this transition in my 1987 book ARE WE TO BE A NATION? THE MAKING OF THE CONSTITUTION and my 1993 book AMENDING AMERICA -- those including (i) Madison's pledge during ratification; (ii) his recognition that the Federalists' pledge to work for amendments was a necessary concession to popular opinion; (iii) his working out a solution -- embodied in the Ninth Amendment -- to his fear that a bill of rights might omit rights by failing to list them; and (iv) his having been influenced by Jefferson. I cited AMENDING AMERICA in JEFFERSON (210n118). No fair-minded reader would have drawn the conclusion that Mr. Dixon drew from that passage, or from the larger discussion on pages 72-74.

* On page 137, I write that the Executive Mansion is "now known as the White House." "Now" in that passage means today, not in Jefferson's or Madison's presidency. Indeed, not till Theodore Roosevelt's presidency (1902 or 1903) did the Executive Mansion acquire its official name of the White House. No fair-inded reader would have misread the text as Mr. Dixon misread it.

* On the Sally Hemings question, Mr. Dixon is unpersuaded and, I find from previous experience of his approach to this controversy, unpersuadable. One specific error that he made in misrepresenting my work: I note in my text at page 196 that the DNA study disproved the Woodson claim. His "reasoning" on Frasier Nieman's study -- which consists of dubbing it a "Monte Carlo" methodology, then claiming that another scholar using a similar "Monte Carlo" methodology failed miserably, with the implicit conclusion that Mr. Nieman's study is similarly a miserable failure -- is worthy of a place as an illustrative example in Jeremy Bentham's HANDBOOK OF POLITICAL FALLACIES.

I respectfully but firmly request that Mr. Dixon withdraw his imputations against my book. I would have written to him privately, but I could not find a current, valid email address for him.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good overview of Jefferson life but author stumbles
Thomas Jefferson's long and accomplished life resists compression into a one volume treatment. Professor R. B Bernstein almost meets the challenge but not without some lapses. He misses the importance of Jefferson's design of the Virginia State Capitol as the introduction of classical architecture to public buildings. It was not Jefferson's influence that brought James Madison to accept the need for a bill of rights, but the opposition of Virginia and other states to the adoption of a Constitution that lacked such amendments. It was the loss of Saint-Domingue (Haiti) that caused Napoleon to give up his dream of a western empire, not the costs of maintaining the Louisiana Territory. Bernstein succumbs to the revisionist effort to create a persona for Sally Hemings in asserting she was given "extensive authority over running" Monticello.

There are errors of fact which should have been caught by the readers Bernstein credits in his Acknowledgments: Eston Hemings was born in 1808, not 1809; the earliest references to the Presidents House as the White House was 1812, not at the time Jefferson moved into it; Sally Hemings never went to Ohio with her sons, but died in Charlottesville.

It is disappointing to read the "proof" Bernstein, a law professor, accepts in the last chapter when he discusses whether Jefferson fathered children by Sally Hemings. Bernstein is one of the "believers" scattered throughout academia who have followed a pattern of making the test for paternity "could he have" rather than "did he." Two examples suffice. One, in his first term as president, the Federalist press accused Jefferson of fathering a son Tom with Hemings. A Woodson family had long claimed they are the descendants of this Tom. Although DNA tests destroyed this myth, Bernstein calls the family stories of other descendants of Sally Hemings "oral history" and insists they are "proof" of paternity. Two, Bernstein endorses a Monte Carlo simulation by an archeologist at Monticello on the "odds" that Jefferson was the cause of Hemings' conceptions. If this gibberish had any value Bernstein should take it to the racetrack. Recently, a professor at St. Joseph's University did a Monte Carlo simulation for the NCAA basketball tournament. In the round of sixteen, he got eight right.

In short, not the "brilliant" biography praised on the back cover, but certainly a readable and thorough one. Just skip the last chapter.

5-0 out of 5 stars Food for thought
I have nothing but glowing praise for this author of "Thomas Jefferson", R.B. Bernstein. I just wanted to say that I agree with all the reviewers who gave the book good marks. I also took one reviewer's suggestion and went on to read "West Point:Thomas Jefferson.." by Remick and found it different than the Bernstein book and other T.J. books because it is not so much ABOUT Jefferson, as is a biography, but FROM Jefferson, the moral history and philosophy being drawn from his own readings and writings. I recommend after reading Bernstein's "Thomas Jefferson" you go on to the book by Remick, if you enjoy food for thought.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very readable
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and learned a significant amount about this most interesting character. It is interesting to compare with "An Imperfect God" by Wiencek, which seems to dislike Jefferson somewhat, perhaps justifiably in places, where these subjects (such as that of Sally Jennings) are dealt with kid gloves in this book. ... Read more


179. The Survivor : Bill Clinton in the White House
by JOHN F. HARRIS
list price: $29.95
our price: $19.77
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375508473
Catlog: Book (2005-05-31)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 11033
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180. Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson (Midland Book)
by Raymond W. & Bunker, Robert Thorp, Robert Manson Bunker
list price: $12.95
our price: $9.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0253203120
Catlog: Book (1983-08-01)
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Sales Rank: 17970
Average Customer Review: 4.11 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (18)

4-0 out of 5 stars When men were men...
I suppose that most people find their way to this book through the movie,Jeremiah Johnson. It is a great film and one of Redford's best.
The book is a fascinating look at the real life model for Jeremiah Johnson, John Johnston. His story is essentially compiled from the oral tradition of the old west augmented by interviews with people who knew Johnston (or alleged to know him.)
Some of the stories are fantastic and should be taken with a grain of salt but it does suggest that only a very unusual(and dangerous)individual succeeded as a mountain man. The romantic notion of the old west is replaced by an environment that is hostile and unforgiving. The map provided is hand-drawn but gives a sense of what must have been involved for settlers attempting to cross that portion of the country.
I enjoyed this small volume very much and found it ironic that Johnston wound up being buried in a cemetery in Los Angeles (what an insult!)

4-0 out of 5 stars An eye opening account of an unusual man in a violent time.
The movie Jeramiah Johnson has always been one of my favorites. It turns out that the true account of the life of John Jonston (his real name), though no less fascinating, is not much like the movie at all. The movie portrays a lonley man haunted by relentless attacks from the Crow Indians. This is partly true, but if you have seen the movie and think you know a little of the history of the man, you will be amazed at how much you did not know after reading the book. This was a truly violent, ruthless man, living in a time and place where those traits were not uncommon.

The book reads quickly and gives you a sense of awe for the man, and the manner which he and his companions lived. Though the book is mainly based on documented accounts of those who knew Johnston, I sometimes found parts of it hard to believe. One example is simply the sheer number of Indians this man kills throughout the book. That alone is nearly beyond belief, and I wonder if some of the accounts may have been exaggerated. That aside, the book was very enjoyable. A true taste of the harshness of the place and the people of that time. You'll never look at a liver the same after reading this book!

4-0 out of 5 stars Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson
First off, I'm sorry, cause this isn't a review but a bashing of a previous Reviewer. The person who wrote his/her "review" on 12/03 from River Grove, IL. Titled: The Crow Killer Myth and didn't even have the balls to list his name is a JACK @SS! There are many (if not uncountable) legends and myths about cowboys and western figures, so why not one about a Mountain Man....one of wich who actually paved the way for the cowboy or western figures?! Of corse, it's going to be a little, or a lot, far out, and why not, most of the old time stories and figures are. That is the old west, that is the way it should be!
Why don't you pick up a pen and write a book on an old west firgure and see how you do, JACK @SS!!!!!

1-0 out of 5 stars The Crow Killer Myth
The author has put together an interesting fictional account
of the life of "Liver Eating Johnson." While the attempt is made
to portray Johnson as a mammoth trapper with uncanny fighting
prowress, the varied accounts of Johnson's trials and tribulationslack any credible evidence to back up the stories.
As another reviewer put it--nearly all of the feats attributable to Johnson are taken from 2nd or 3rd and even fourth-hand accounts. The Crow Killer saga is simply a myth.
When the dialect approach is taken by the author to convey
the backwoods talk of the mountain men it becomes almost laughable.
But all in all the story has the redeeming quality of at least entertaining the reader with the superman-comic-book
antics of a trapper with Karate skills. Even the sole purported
photo of the liver eater (notwithstanding his age at the time
it was taken) does not show the body frame of a giant of a man
who could knock off two indians simply by banging their heads
together.
The Liver Eater gets a One (1) for entertainment.

3-0 out of 5 stars A lot of fun to read, but...
This little volume of what professes to be pure history contains the exploits, along with a good many stories that probably aren't true, of the Mountain Man John Johnson. Some of these stories are almost definitely true--Johnson's battle with the twenty Crow warriors over fourteen years, for example. Still, some of these tales are more than likely fictitious, made-up accounts passed on among the last Mountain Men until Thorp stumbled upon them.

For sources, Thorp has few, and they are second or third-hand at best. Most of them were old men who were trying to remember stories or 'things they'd heard' a half-century before. Even Thorp's principal source, "White-eye" Anderson, was getting most of his information third-hand. Thorp proclaims his source as impeccable, but even he can't help but include, in the course of the narrative, that White-eye had a famous capacity for "story-telling."

So why give this any stars at all? Well, it IS fun to read. A lot of these stories are just plain entertaining, and Johnson's war against the Crows is based in fact (in fact, this account is probably fairly accurate). No matter what, you can get a good look at the late Mountain Man era by reading about Johnson (and his companions') exploits. Of course, sneaking up on Indians and massacring them does get quite dull even after less than two hundred pages, so fortunately this book isn't longer.

All in all, this is an entertaining read. It isn't written very well, and the author's attempts at dialect are horrendous, but it is still a lot of fun. Just bear in mind that this little book, history though it proclaims to be, is probably as much Mountain Man myth as anything. ... Read more


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