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1. Bono: In Conversation with Michka
$10.50 $3.97 list($14.00)
2. Angela's Ashes: A Memoir
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3. Maus a Survivors Tale: My Father
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4. The Leper King and his Heirs :
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5. Tis: A Memoir
6. U2 : At the END of the WORLD
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7. All Souls : A Family Story from
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8. Killing Bono : I Was Bono's Doppelganger
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9. Oscar Wilde
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10. Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde
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11. A Drinking Life: A Memoir
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12. Assassination at St. Helena Revisited
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13. Rome: The Biography of a City
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14. The U2 Reader : A Quarter Century
15. Scots Irish in Pennsylvania &
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16. In Code: A Mathematical Journey
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17. Are You Somebody? : The Accidental
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18. Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No
19. With Pleated Eye and Garnet Wing
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20. The Family Silver : A Memoir of

1. Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas
by Michka Assayas
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1573223093
Catlog: Book (2005-04-21)
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover
Sales Rank: 160
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

For the first time ever, Bono--the biggest rock star in the world--tells his life story.

Bono's career is unlike any other in rock history. As the lead singer of U2, Bono has sold 130 million albums, won fourteen Grammys, and played numerous sold-out world tours, but he has also lobbied and worked with world leaders from Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to Nelson Mandela on debt relief, AIDS, and other critical global issues. He has collaborated with the same musicians for nearly three decades and has been married to his childhood sweetheart since 1982. His life, at all turns, resists the rock star clichés.

In a series of intimate conversations with his friend Michka Assayas, a music journalist who has been with the band since the very beginning, Bono reflects on his transformation from the extrovert singer of a small Irish post-punk band into one of the most famous individuals in the world; and from an international celebrity to an influential spokesperson for the Third World. He speaks candidly about his faith, family, commitment, influences, service, and passion. Bono: A Self-Portrait in Conversationis the closest we will come, for now, to a memoir from the iconic frontman of U2.
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Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Conversations Between Friends
If you wanted to ask Bono a question, what would it be?

Would it be about the music?

Would it be about his personal life? Perhaps the deaths of his parents?

Would you ask about the formation of the most successful band in history?

Perhaps you'd want to know more about his work in support of AIDS and hunger releif.

All of these questions, and many, many more are asked and answered in this book. In fact, almost the whole book is a series of questions that ramble from subject to subject with no pattern. These questions and answers are like a normal conversation flows between friends.

Because they are friends, a true respect exists between the two men and it comes out in the book. This means that there is great insight shown into how Bono thinks. And it comes out that he thinks very well indeed.

This is a fascinating book, not just because of the fascination with the singer, but because of the insight he brings to us about places like Africa and the Soviet Union.

4-0 out of 5 stars Trip inside Bono's head
U2 is the greatest band of my lifetime.How could I resist 323 pages of Bono pontificating?Obviously, I couldn't.Is Bono a little self-indulgent?You bet.Does he avoid dishing the dirt?Absolutely.But he does provide quite a bit of insight into what makes him tick.He is a remarkable human being.

This is by no means a "tell all" book.The book briefly mentions Adam's problems with addiction, which were so bad at one point that he actually just didn't show up for a show in Sydney, a show that was being filmed for TV!But there aren't any details.There's some lip service paid to the group's (minus Adam) involvement with Shalom Christianity (a group devoted to understanding the Scriptures), but again, no real details.The details we get in this book are the little ones that make up day-to-day family life, past and present..., and ALOT about Africa.6500 Africans die each day of a preventable, treatable disease.It's hard to argue when Bono suggests that deep down we don't really believe in their equality. Bono's trip to Africa after the Live Aid concert seems to be a real turning-point in his life, and there are many pages devoted to his time there and his efforts to bring Africa's problems to the world's attention.

But it's not all heavy seriousness.There's alot of poking fun at Bono's admittedly giant ego.Naturally, there are more than a few great quotes:"I can do the high-life; I can do the low-life; it's the in-between that gives me trouble."I'm paraphrasing.I've started using the line myself, and have kind of made it my own, as I did with, "The God I believe in isn't short of cash, mister...."Back to the heavy stuff, there's some interesting commentary on the Sandinistas and the events that inspired "Bullet the Blue Sky".Bono saw things first-hand.

Naturally, there's some talk about other musicians.Bono clearly loves Prince.Oddly, it appears that Bono thinks The Rolling Stones (the only band I can think of with the longevity and enduring creativity of U2) as almost fluffy pop musicians.He doesn't come out and say it, but it's between the lines.

In short, the book is a must-read for the U2 fan, and a great read for people curious about the life of a very unique individual who might very well one day win the Nobel Peace Prize.It's missing the stories of sex and drugs, but it's clear, despite what Bono might have said on God Part II, that rock and roll can really change the world.

5-0 out of 5 stars A humbling perspective of a man in power....
I must admit that when I saw this book, I was hesitant at first to read it.I thought it was going to be another "entertainment book" about U2 and their career.Little did I realize that this book is very in-depth about "the man behind the shades".Bono shares his joys, his struggles, and his adventure in this book.It covers anything from his family, his inadequacy as a celebrity, the workings of U2, his activism, faith, and other topics.This book is definitely a must read for anyone who loves U2's music and wants to gain a better understanding of Bono.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fascinating look into Bono's character
A long-time fan of U2's music and impressed by Bono's activisim, I was anxious to read this new book. And I loved it! I couldn't put it down!

Written in a coversational style, I at first thought it may be difficult to follow. Instead, I pleasantly realized that it made me feel as if I was listening to Bono talk to a group of which I was part. Because we are actually reading his words, I thinkwe really get a look into Bono's mind - or even his soul.

Every topic I could want to hear Bono talk about is covered - his music, the band, his family, his belief in God, and his activism. It had it all.

I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about what makes Bono tick. It confirmed to me that he has a very big heart, a great intellect, and incredible talent.

Enjoy! ... Read more

2. Angela's Ashes: A Memoir
by Frank McCourt
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 068484267X
Catlog: Book (1999-05-25)
Publisher: Scribner
Sales Rank: 5116
Average Customer Review: 4.48 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood."

So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank's mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank's father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy -- exasperating, irresponsible and beguiling -- does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his father's tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies.

Perhaps it is story that accounts for Frank's survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig's head for Christmas dinner and gathering coal from the roadside to light a fire, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors -- yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance and remarkable forgiveness.

Angela's Ashes, imbued on every page with Frank McCourt's astounding humor and compassion, is a glorious book that bears all the marks of a classic. ... Read more

Reviews (1623)

5-0 out of 5 stars Depressing but Excellent
5 Stars- Depressing but excellent

Frank Mc Court's memoirs "Angela's Ashes" takes us back to the 1940s where he tells us of his childhood and the poverty that his family lived though. This book can be very depressing at times which brought me to tears, but this is an excellent memoirs worthy of a 5 star rating.

The book starts out in New York, the Mc Court family lives in one of the most impoverished areas of Brooklyn and father, Malachy Mc Court has a hard time keeping a job and a drinking problem. After the death of baby Margaret, the family moves back to Ireland where times are harder and life is poorer. The family relies on help from Saint Vincent, DE Paul Society and they are forced to go on relief. The father drinks whatever money he makes and has a hard time finding or keeping a job. Frank has a dream of returning to America, where he feels that he can make life better for himself.

I watched the movie right after reading the book and was amazed at how many part were left out. I advise everyone to read the book to get the true story of the Mc Court Family and I look forward to reading the second part, Tis.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Well-Deserved Pulitzer
McCourt speaks to the reader through his childhood voice in this splendid, moving, and thought-provoking autobiography. McCourt begins the story as a four-year-old living in New York City with his parents and three younger brothers. The poverty stricken Irish family is unable to make ends meet in America and so they head back to Ireland in hopes of survival.

They settle in Limerick where McCourt's mother Angela grew up. Malachy McCourt, the father in the story, claims that he will find work and support the family. However, Malachy's love of alcohol prevents him from finding or keeping any gainful employment. When he does work, he takes his wages and goes to the bars and drinks until all the money is gone. Meanwhile, the family is hungry, the children are wearing shoes with holes, and Angela sinks into a deep depression but remains obedient to her husband because of her Catholic faith. The family moves around Limerick frequently, renting dirty rooms with flea infested bedding, living on the floors in small houses owned by relatives, and even renting a house in which the bottom floor is constantly being flooded with neighborhood sewage. The family comes face to face with illness, death, starvation, and ridicule. The low point strikes when Angela must resort to begging on the streets to help her family survive.

All the while, McCourt has the reader grow with him through the ages of four to nineteen. He shares the Irish tales he grew up with, the feelings he had toward his dyfunctional parents, his opinion of the Catholic Church, and the good and bad lessons he learned from his harsh schoolmasters. Never does McCourt wallow in self-pity, rather he presents the facts of his life in an honest, poignant manner. Despite the despair, it seems that McCourt has no regrets about his upbringing, for he was a child and had no control of the situation. As he grew, however, he came to the realization that he could begin to change things for the better. Unlike his father, he became eager to work. He struggled to support his mother and younger siblings in his teen years with after school jobs. He educated himself through reading and observation. He set goals and priorities and didn't give up until he reached them.

McCourt takes what is tragic and presents it in a beautiful, descriptive language that leaves the reader spellbound. His story is obviously written unselfishly and is told to show that triumph can be the end result of tragedy. Each individual has the power to rise above and make his or her life meaningful. This is the essence of McCourt's message. A message you will not forget after reading Angela's Ashes.

5-0 out of 5 stars a memoir of myself?
This book is simply incredible and the inclusion of the patriotic and doleful poems of the Irish make it simply the best and stand out from the rest. Frank Mc Court has retold the story in a perspective of a child and I wonder how could he retell each and everything so clearly and touchingly.... so hands up for him... Mc Court is one of the greatest Irish writer ever.... This book has broken my heart, made me laugh, brought tears in my eyes and has made me obsessed with Little Frankie and his sore eyes....I never wanted to finish Angela's Ashes and wish I could continue reading it forever and ever.... If you are keen about Frankie's life then Tis' is a must read book...

I wish I could invite Frankie during Christmas so that he didnt have to eat the pig's head....

5-0 out of 5 stars ANGELA'S ASHES

1-0 out of 5 stars P.U.!!
Stinkaroo! Thank god I borrowed this work of maudlin stereotypical crap from the library so I didn't actually fork over any cash for it. Jeez, if I was Irish I would be completely insulted by the authors' ludicrous, stereotypical portrayal of the anguished poor Irish Catholic family. "Aw no da's drunk agin! Aw no, ma's bein' shagged! Aw, I wish ere lived in Ameriki!" Blah blah blah! These characters aren't even as well developed as the guy on the Lucky Charms box. Has McCourt ever been to Ireland?

I couldn't even finish it. It just plodded and sobbed and whined on and on and on. In fact, before I took it back to the library I inscribed in one of the early chapters, "WARNING: MORE CRAP AHEAD". I didn't consider that defacing library property, I considered it a public service. ... Read more

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

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

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

Reviews (106)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reviews (4)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Tis: A Memoir
by Frank McCourt
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0684865742
Catlog: Book (2000-08-28)
Publisher: Scribner
Sales Rank: 7143
Average Customer Review: 3.77 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Frank McCourt's glorious childhood memoir, Angela's Ashes, has been loved and celebrated by readers everywhere for its spirit, its wit and its profound humanity. A tale of redemption, in which storytelling itself is the source of salvation, it won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Rarely has a book so swiftly found its place on the literary landscape.

And now we have 'Tis, the story of Frank's American journey from impoverished immigrant to brilliant teacher and raconteur. Frank lands in New York at age nineteen, in the company of a priest he meets on the boat. He gets a job at the Biltmore Hotel, where he immediately encounters the vivid hierarchies of this "classless country," and then is drafted into the army and is sent to Germany to train dogs and type reports. It is Frank's incomparable voice -- his uncanny humor and his astonishing ear for dialogue -- that renders these experiences spellbinding.

When Frank returns to America in 1953, he works on the docks, always resisting what everyone tells him, that men and women who have dreamed and toiled for years to get to America should "stick to their own kind" once they arrive. Somehow, Frank knows that he should be getting an education, and though he left school at fourteen, he talks his way into New York University. There, he falls in love with the quintessential Yankee, long-legged and blonde, and tries to live his dream. But it is not until he starts to teach -- and to write -- that Frank finds his place in the world. The same vulnerable but invincible spirit that captured the hearts of readers in Angela's Ashes comes of age.

As Malcolm Jones said in his Newsweek review of Angela's Ashes, "It is only the best storyteller who can so beguile his readers that he leaves them wanting more when he is done...and McCourt proves himself one of the very best." Frank McCourt's 'Tis is one of the most eagerly awaited books of our time, and it is a masterpiece. ... Read more

Reviews (528)

4-0 out of 5 stars Frank McCourt is a brave, brave man . . .
Writing a memoir invites accusations of myopia and self-indulgence. Writing a sequel begs comparison (with novelty often tipping the scales in favor of the first work). Along comes Frank McCourt who combines the two and manages to succeed admirably. Picking up where Angela's Ashes leaves off, 'Tis recounts young Frankie's impoverished early days in New York, his broadening stint in the Army, and his subsequent development from an unschooled laborer to a teacher of creative writing able to inspire others to make that same arduous climb.

McCourts narrative voice is a paradoxical wonder. Muscular prose and keen observation lay bare dire circumstances and woeful ignorance. Financial poverty stands in sharp contrast to an abundance of imagination and desire. Indeed, it is his driving hunger--both physical and metaphorical --that spurs him to read and write his way out of despair.

McCourt's style captivates with his underlying Irish lyricism and his overlay of poetic repetition. Young Frankie's incredulous tone reveals a touching, often frightening, lack of sophistication. It's a wonder the lad survives his youth. Ever so slowly, he trades that innocence for a college degree, a young wife, and teaching jobs that range from thankless and intimidating to purposeful and rewarding. Never stooping to sentimentality, McCourt evokes plenty of genuine emotion, a skill that serves his reading public as well as it must have served his students.

It is in the final quarter of the book that McCourt stumbles. His hard-won (and much described) sweetheart mutates quickly into a difficult wife, then fades to near obscurity. That they eventually divorce is no excuse for this disappearing act. McCourt needn't have trashed the ex-wife to expose his own grappling. His daughter, with whom he ends up on better terms, suffers similar abridgement, aging years in the space of two pages. Subtext (not to mention the character of the author) suggests a backing off due to pain and guilt but that's an inexcusable squeamishness in a memoir. This abbreviation and lack of candor give the reader a sense of having been rushed through important territory.

His relationship with his parents is drawn with a bit more detail but then it's generally easier to focus on others' failures than to examine your own. Case in point--McCourt spoke of the abysmal effects of his father's chronic alcoholism and admitted he saw himself making some of the same mistakes, yet his reactions seemed to stay on the surface. I kept hoping he'd make peace with his father's fallibilty even as he came to grips with his own but he retains his judgemental tone till the end, missing a valuable connection that might have shed some light on a man he regarded as something of a mystery.

Despite these deficiencies. McCourt's story vibrates with honest intensity and the great ache of anyone whose passion intially exceeds his eloquence. Whatever he turns his hand to next (surely this isn't the last we've heard of him), the lad with the bad eyes, the bad teeth, and the gnawing belly grew into a man with much to be proud of.

5-0 out of 5 stars A really good book for different reasons than Angelas Ashes
I really enjoyed the book and was disappointed when I read a New York Times book reviewer who panned it for being too cynical and bitter. The innocence, openness and hope that came out of Angelas Ashes reflected the child and youth of Frank McCourt during the time about which he was writing. In 'Tis, Frank confronts the reality of adulthood on his own, in the multi-cultural, and multi-spectral world of NYC - as an immigrant Irishman, Paddy-off-the-boat. His humanity shows. He describes with a lot of humor but not too much rancor, his envy, bitterness, anger, a tendency toward irresponsibility, and occassionally confusion about life's travails as they came his way. He also doesn't lose his ability to laugh at himself and see the humor and humanity in the situations and adventures he describes. It was about Frank's real life as an adult. It was written in the same lyrical,humorous and extremely perceptive style as Angela's Ashes and was just as much fun to read. I STRONGLY recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars AMAZING STORY
Sequel of "Angela's ashes", I was not disappointed a second. The book starts exactly when Angela's...finished. It's written with talent. We hear about what happen to the dad & mum afterwards(You can also learn more on Malachy's first book...Read it).
By the way you'll learn of anything happened to Frank in USA, his return to Europe (after war as a soldier) and in Ireland.
A life that could have finished in an Irish lane fortunately made it in USA successfully.

5-0 out of 5 stars WE WANT MORE!
What a follow up. His life was so bad is was good and he tells it the way only Frank could. You practically fall in love with him and pray to God to send you back in time to meet up with him when he steps into America. It was a good ending to a good beginning.

5-0 out of 5 stars Tis is a must read for everyone
I read Angela's Ashes at the suggestion of a very good friend, Louis it was his favorite book and I have say I could see why. When a friend at work saw me reading it she told me about the sequel "Tis a Memoir", I just had to get it and I have to say that when I did, I could not put it down! It is an excellent book, Frank McCourt has such an engaging way of keep his reader hooked! Superb! I love his sense of humor, his triumphs a wonderful and give us all hope, a must read for all ages! ... Read more

6. U2 : At the END of the WORLD
list price: $22.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385311540
Catlog: Book (1995-05-01)
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Sales Rank: 442920
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (59)

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolute "Must Have"
This is a must have for any U2 fan. This book is not only very informative but funny too. Bill Flanagan gives a unique insiders view into the band from personal conversations and participation in backstage antics. The close relationships the band share with each other are very evident in this book. I was given the feeling of being a "fly on the wall" while reading - some of the situations the band find themselves in are at once both amazing and horrifying. Bill Flanagan was along for the ride for most of three years while the band toured and recorded in the studio. U2 At the End of the World is an accounting of his time spent with the band and is an enjoyable read.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best up-close look at a private band
If you are a true U2 fan this is the book for you!It is impossible to put it down, so much detail into their daily lives and ideas is so amazing.I have always respected U2's privacy and control over their lives, but like all fans, I have yearned to know them better, this book takes you in up close better than all the rest.Read this book first and see if you want to bother buying any others, I wish I had bought it first!

5-0 out of 5 stars The KEY book for a KEY time in the life of this band
Rarely put-downable, Flanagan writes with a careful balance of of humor and seriousness that puts U2 in unparallelled company as rock's most thoughtful and interesting band. Flanagan benefits from covering them from the depths of the at times extremely tenuous Achtung Baby sessions in Berlin to standing once again at the top of Rock superstardom, reinvented, embracing of irony and cultivating a wholly new following. If you're like me and became a U2 die hard during this period but were a little too young to go out to concerts or see band members while in town on tour, this book will show you just what a remarkable period it was for them. Paul McGuiness's insights and vision for what was to come with respect to digital, downloadable music is almost prophetic, reading the book now in 2004. But U2 are at the center of a changing world in the early 90s with the fall of the Wall and the newness of the "New World Order" which they try to recognize and understand and the election of the first Democratic president in a dozen years in America. All the while, U2 remain 4 secondary school mates who take themselves MUCH less seriously than is commonly believed. ZOO TV still remains as one of the most dazzling, ambitious and provocative tours ever put on, all at at time where a band was desperately trying to find a new direction. But the cultural, political, musical discussions, events and meanderings are what make this work so rich, beyone typical band biographies. If you love U2 or merely just love Achtung Baby and Zoo TV, you will love this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Just a really, really,F****** brillant read
I had always prided myself as being a u2 fan - I could sing their entire back catalog by heart, but I was aways a bit wary of reading any actual "books" on my fav band as they are often out of date by the time they (the books) hit the self and often show my beloved boys in an unkind light.
I ordered this book on word of mouth and the fact that I am starved for any band info as it has almost been four years since their last masterpiece - I was not disapointed.Flanagan writes this journal of life during the Zoo TV tour as a journalist but also as a fan - the personalities of the members of u2 and their organization are brought to focus in a way that helps the reader identify with Bono, Edge, Larry, Adam, and Paul (if by chance you are wondering who Paul is - please read the book and become a true U2 fan of God's Sake!)
True the events that are described in this book are over ten years old but it is an essential period of u2 and it sets the stage for the cohesive unit that the band has become - last seen during the band's most recent elevation tour.
I read the entire book over two days and Flanagan has done something that I didn't think was possible for a die-hard u2 fan - I fell a bit more in love the members of the band for the separate men they are and for the band they form.Remember - "We're one, but we're not the same, we got to carry each other"
Flanagan shows that u2 stand behind the sentiment in One.A true gift of a book - a must read

5-0 out of 5 stars A great rock-n-roll travelogue
Although this is a book about U2, it's such a strange and fascinating tale that it should stand as a classic of rock-n-roll writing as well as the single essential volume for any U2 fan.

The first thing that sets this book apart from the usual rock bio is that it doesn't focus on serving up facts about the band members.There's no "born here, went to school here" at the beginning; instead, we open with Bono, startled into crouching with a hand over his nakedness when a German family comes to reclaim the East Berlin house he's staying in just after the Wall falls.The rest of this tome continues in the same vein, conveying what the band members are like and how they live their rockstar lives by vividly recounting moment-to-moment experiences that the author lived through along with them.

Bill Flanagan was granted unprecedented access to the band member's lives, and throughout the two years he spends touring with him, they treat him as a friend.He makes no pretense of impartiality but rather tells everything from his own point of view, which is much more genuine than any false distance would be and allows you to feel you're there with the band.The length of time and volume of material that result are made more manageable by the fact that Flanagan gives each chapter its own brief coherency, so they can easily be read separately as well as together (and indeed a couple of them were originally published as magazine articles in Musician).

The real reward comes from following the band through to the end of their Zoo TV/Zooropa tour.There's a detachment from reality that Flanagan, the band members, and all the tour crew come to experience as they dedicate themselves to a roaming life, and it's gradually revealed as the band's experiences become more and more strange.Eventually, when you reach the near-insanity of Bono walking and talking and refusing to go to sleep in Japan, it makes a kind of strange sense.Along the way, Adam bottoms out, Edge does 'shrooms and falls in love, and Larry injects himself with bull's blood.It's all good stuff.

If you're really into U2, it would be a crying shame for you to miss out on this book because you'll never understand the band so well any other way.If you've somehow stumbled upon this out of a general interest in rock-n-roll life, it's worth your time to use this book for an insider's view.And if you're looking for some fun nonfiction, it doesn't get any crazier than this. ... Read more

7. All Souls : A Family Story from Southie (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 034544177X
Catlog: Book (2000-10-03)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Sales Rank: 15037
Average Customer Review: 4.55 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Michael Patrick MacDonald grew up in "the best place in the world"--the Old Colony projects of South Boston--where 85% of the residents collect welfare in an area with the highest concentration of impoverished whites in the U.S. In All Souls, MacDonald takes us deep into the secret heart of Southie. With radiant insight, he opens up a contradictory world, where residents are besieged by gangs and crime but refuse to admit any problems, remaining fiercely loyal to their community. MacDonald also introduces us to the unforgettable people who inhabit this proud neighborhood. We meet his mother, Ma MacDonald, an accordion-playing, spiked-heel-wearing, indomitable mother to all; Whitey Bulger, the lord of Southie, gangster and father figure, protector and punisher; and Michael's beloved siblings, nearly half of whom were lost forever to drugs, murder, or suicide. By turns explosive and touching, All Souls ultimately shares a powerful message of hope, renewal, and redemption. ... Read more

Reviews (141)

5-0 out of 5 stars All Souls
My reactions relate not only to the reading "All Souls" but to other reviews of the work. I should state with clarity that I am familiar neither with the individuals in the book nor with the history of Southie. Yet MacDonald's book is vital to both the story of urban centers such as Boston but also to the untold story of white poverty in the United States. Books such as "All Souls" and more militant pieces such as "The Redneck Manifesto" (Jim Goad's brash and irreverent book) are important accounts of white poverty. MacDonald never portrayed his work as "a socio-cultural study of white poverty in an Urban Center in the Northeastern United States," but a personal account of his family's experiences. "All Souls" presents a good picture of the complexities of the real world - a family that was a picture of both dysfunction and resiliency, a community "code" that served both as its' strength and its' Achilles heal, and a person who journeyed through life trying to come to terms with these issues.

Unaware of the accuracy of the "facts," the story of this family is an important addition to those who continually ignore the reality of the "white experience in America" - an experience, that for many, is not couched in race-based advantage. To dismiss an important piece of work such as this based on interpretation of facts or untold pieces of what is an enormously complex story misses the point. Mr. MacDonald, good job on starting an important discussion!

5-0 out of 5 stars Great read!
I couldn't put this book down, and I jsut finished reading it for a second time. Mike MacDonald brings the reader into his childhood and won't let him escape. His story of growing up poor in Southie, amidst the drugs and violence and busing crisis, yet still being able to call it "the best place in the world" allowed me to finish the story with a smile on my face. And I challenge the person who wrote that despite the drugs and crime, etc. that he grew up with, Mike was still able to "convince himself" that it was the best place in the world. After sitting down with him last week for an interview/conversation, I believe he would maintain his point of view; he wasn't convincing himself of anything. And that's what allowed me to stay positive through the book: yes, the MacDonalds had to deal with unfathomable pain and hardships, but Southie's tight-knit community made for a home that is hard to forget about. I also challenge the person who in his review said that MacDonald's book was an "indictment" of the gangsters in Southie and that he made "brave accusations" about them; the truth is obvious, and Whitey Bulger and his crew managed to bring unbelievable amounts of drugs and crime to Southie. Despite what the newspapers or anyone else wants to say. I now work in Southie and have seen first-hand the poverty and drugs, but it is still a great community. Mike MacDonald, in his book and in our conversations, erased stereotypes of Southie that existed in my mind and that exist across the country today. He also got through to me that writing can and will allow one's wounds to heal; he is a brave man, an excellent writer, and one of the nicest guys I've met since I began working in Southie three months ago. Y'all have to read this book if you want the truth on one of the most misunderstood neighborhoods in Boston.

5-0 out of 5 stars Everyone from Boston should read this book
Before the gentrification of Southie and Dot, these areas contained Boston's infamous white "underclass." This book is the story of a fascinating family that lived in Southie in the 70's and 80's, and witnessed and participated in some of the most important events to happen in Boston in the 20th century.

The book is really divided into two parts. The first part takes place when the author was a very young child, and is primarily about his older siblings. It is the 70's, when the bussing riots are threatening to destroy Boston and the Winter Hill gang was hanging around in a certain auto body shop. The author makes it clear that a lot of what he tells about these events is second hand, primarily from his siblings and his mother. However, since they were very active in so many events, and since this book concentrates on the whole family and not just the author, this does not detract from the veracity of the book at all. The second part takes place in the 1980's, when, in the aftermath of the Charles Stewart fiasco, the police are looking for a martyr to prove that they're not rascist. They settle on the author's younger brother.

The most fascinating thing about this book his how the author manages to chronicle how a family and a community can disintigrate while remaining as strong as ever. Not everyone in the family, or the community makes it through the book, and as Southie is quickly becoming hot real estate it is sad to think of the community that is being condo'd over.

Anyone who is interested in knowing why Boston is the way it is now should read this book. Boston is still living with the repurcussions of the period that this book covers, and this book offers a fascinating first (and sometimes second) hand account of the events that shaped our city.

5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful, Eye-Opening, and Tragically Irish
Ignore the attacks - All Souls is beautiful and timeless. It is at once a story of 20th century American turmoil and also a story with the Irish tone and Irish rhythm, calling to mind Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. But above all else it is, as described on the cover, a family story. A story written throughout a childhood, it tells the tale of a family torn violently apart by fate and circumstance, yet in some form still together, still beating and moving on with force. What many people, including some of my fellow Irish-American Boston residents, fail to grasp is that this story is not an analysis of a neighborhood; it is nothing historical but rather a vibrant story that drives straight into the core of what it means to be Irish and American simultaneously, and how the joy, loyalty, and fierce pride combine with hypocrisy and silence to produce a perplexing Irish-American identity. The story hits home for me, and it's truth is not necessarily in the trivial names of bars or individuals as some myopic readers contend. The truth comes in its message, in the power and emotion in Michael Patrick MacDonald's pride and disgust for the neighborhood that can be at the same time "the best place on earth" and a "hellhole." Do not fight the contradictions - it is contradictory and beautiful as a novel. It's American; it's Irish; it's human; and it's timeless. I urge anyone to read this phenomenal piece of work by MacDonald!

2-0 out of 5 stars 'ALL SOULS' very disappointing!
Highly anecdotal and unreferenced, the memoir: 'ALL SOULS: A Family Story from Southie' (c. 2000) by Mr. Michael Patrick MacDonald, simultaneously presented an unquestionable account of the author's tragic family life while presenting a dubious description of the neighborhood of South Boston.

Any life-long resident of South Boston who reads ALL SOULS will recognize the many errors in this memoir and the author's reliance on hyperbole for dramatic effect; such as referring to a fist fight as a 'riot' or an orderly protest as a 'mob'. The author further uses terminology not part of South Boston vocabulary, such as: Racist, Scapegoat, riots, molotov cocktails, and 'Lace Curtain Irish' (which is straight out of the book: 'Liberty's Chosen Home' p. 30 and not a Boston figure of speech).

ALL SOULS is further marred by the many suppositions, innuendos, and non-sequiturs used to describe residents and the neighborhood: such as the author's detailed descriptions of Whitey Bulger, a man the author admitted he never met; or the mentioning throughout ALL SOULS of the bar, the *Irish Rover*, which isn't even in South Boston but three miles away in Dorchester. In fact, the author seemed to have had most of his Southie experiences on the South Boston/Dorchester border, blurring those two distinct neighborhoods.

While the careful reader will not question the authenticity of the author's account of his family tragedies, some of which appear self-inflicted, the MacDonald family, as presented in ALL SOULS, had serious issues way before they moved to the Old Colony projects - therefore, 'ipse dixit', those tragedies 'happened' in South Boston, they were not 'caused' by South Boston, as implied in ALL SOULS! For the vast majority of South Boston's diverse & multi-cultural 32,000 residents, except for forced busing, Southie was a good place to grow up!

Neither autobiography nor diary, the memoir ALL SOULS is obviously valueless for serious historical research. The author mistook digressions for correlations, as Mr. Michael Patrick MacDonald presented a heart rendering account of his family's tragedies along with a dubious and mechanistic opinion of South Boston history and events. As a complement to ALL SOULS, please read: 'THAT OLD GANG OF MINE: A History of South Boston' (c. 1991) by Southie native Frank J. Loftus, which presented a less posit history of South Boston than the flawed ALL SOULS. ... Read more

8. Killing Bono : I Was Bono's Doppelganger
by Neil McCormick
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743482484
Catlog: Book (2004-10-19)
Publisher: MTV
Sales Rank: 2339
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Download Description

"Some are born great. Some achieve greatness. Some have greatness thrust upon them. And some have the misfortune to go to school with Bono. Everyone wants to be famous. But as a young punk in Dublin in the 1970s, Neil McCormick's ambitions went way beyond mere pop stardom. It was his destiny to be a veritable Rock God. He had it all worked out: the albums, the concerts, the quest for world peace. There was only one thing he hadn't counted on. The boy sitting on the other side of the classroom had plans of his own. Killing Bono is a story of divergent lives. As Bono and his band U2 ascended to global superstardom, his school friend Neil scorched a burning path in quite the opposite direction. Bad drugs, weird sex, bizarre haircuts: Neil experienced it all in his elusive quest for fame. But sometimes it is life's losers who have the most interesting tales to tell. Featuring guest appearances by the Pope, Bob Dylan, and a galaxy of stars, Killing Bono offers an extremely funny, startlingly candid, and strangely moving account of a life lived in the shadows of superstardom. ""The problem with knowing you is that you've done everything I ever wanted to,"" Neil once complained to his famous friend. ""I'm your doppelganger,"" Bono replied. ""If you want your life back, you'll have to kill me."" Now there was a thought..." ... Read more

9. Oscar Wilde
list price: $21.00
our price: $14.28
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394759842
Catlog: Book (1988-11-05)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 151680
Average Customer Review: 4.83 out of 5 stars
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Richard Ellmann capped an illustrious career in biography (his James Joyce is considered one of the masterpieces of the 20th century) with this life of Oscar Wilde, which won both the National Book Critics Circle Award and Pulitzer Prize on its original publication in 1988.Ellmann's account of Wilde's extravagantly operatic life as poet, playwright, aesthete, and martyr to sexual morality is notable not only for the full portrait it gives of Wilde, but also for Ellmann's assessment of his subject's literary greatness; both aims are served by a plethora of quotations from Wilde's own work and correspondence. Wilde straddled the line between the Victorian age and the modern world as he did everything in life ... with impeccable style. ... Read more

Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars This book will have you eating, drinking and sleeping Wilde.
Richard Ellmann obviously knew just about everything there was to know about Oscar Wilde; what is amazing is that he was able to put most of it in his Wilde biography and still make it a graceful, engrossing read completely free of boredom or didacticism. Wilde was one of the truly great personalities of all time, and Ellmann not only brings him to vivid life, but demonstrates why he was one of the most important literary figures of the 19th century.

I bought this book after seeing the movie, "Wilde" which is based on it. I have to say that I caught a bit of "Oscar Fever" while reading it. The book is incredibly thorough and well-researched; Ellman definitely knows his stuff. The book is written in an admiring, respectful tone but remains objective. Excerpts from Wilde's works that the author found particularly significant are included, as well as many wonderful pictures.

After reading this book I have a lot of admiration and fondness for Wilde, and I marvel at his fascinating but ultimately tragic life. A couple of months before I read this book I was wandering around the cemetery de Pere-Lachaise in Paris and happened upon Wilde's grave. I didn't think too much of it then but now that I have learned a bit about the man I really do want to go back and pay my respects. Ellman has written a beautiful, loving portrait of Wilde and it is thoroughly enjoyable and poignant. I'd also recommend the wonderful film starring Stephen Fry and Jude Law but to get the whole story, read the book!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars scholarly yet stimulating
I remember reading this book when I was 16 and being blown away by the erudition. Even to this day it's probably the most erudite biography I've ever read. The scholarly weight and depth of this book is tremendous. It is amazingly comprehensive. This is the kind of book that takes 20 years to write and must be a labor of love for the writer--the writer must really love his subject, in this case, Wilde. And one has every indication from the book that Richard Ellman did. His portrait of Wilde is no less sympathetic as it is complete. This must be the definitive biography which all other Wilde bios should be measured against. A superlative achievement.

David Rehak
author of "A Young Girl's Crimes"

5-0 out of 5 stars Utterly Moving
I had just finished this book ten minutes ago and I am completely in love with the man. His life was one of both tragedy and creativity. I felt so sad for him in the last part of his life. He was an amazing soul and this bio accented it. A must read!

5-0 out of 5 stars Likely to stand as the definitive biography of Wilde
If Richard Ellmann had not already written the definitive literary biography (his astonishing JAMES JOYCE), this utterly first-rate biography would be a legitimate candidate for the title. One might initially think that Wilde would be an easy subject for a biography: his life was interesting, eventful, literarily significant, triumphant, and tragic. But the problem is that for many Wilde has become a symbol either of the late 19th century Victorian decadence or the oppressed homosexual. To treat anyone, and especially Wilde, primarily as a symbol or a representative of anything outside himself, is to distort and misrepresent. The genius of Ellmann's biography of Wilde is that Wilde never becomes either more or less than the writer and person Oscar Wilde.

The portrait that emerges of Wilde is absolutely fascinating. If Ellmann's JAMES JOYCE is the greater biography, Wilde emerges nonetheless as the more interesting of the two Irish authors, and perhaps the more brilliant, if not the more productive. Indeed, one of the things that emerges from Ellmann's book is a sense that Wilde might have become a greater writer than he did, and not just if he had not sued the Marquess of Queensbury and had not been sent to prison on sodomy charges. Wilde emerges as even more brilliant than the work he produced, as if he had produced much of his work with a minimum of reference.

Ellmann does a marvelous job of situation Wilde in his time and place, with the cultural and artistic concerns paramount at the time. He also does a fair and just job of depicting the major involvements in his life, beginning with Whistler and his wife Constance and continuing on with his various involvements, especially with Alfred Lord Douglas. With the latter, Ellmann certainly does not try to idealize the relationship, but recounts it warts and all. If there is a villain in the book, it is not, surprisingly, the Marquess of Queensbury, but his son Lord Douglas.

The saddest part of the book, by far, is the section recounting Wilde's life after leaving prison, which is one disappointment after another. He first intended to reunite and reconcile with his wife, but she unexpectedly died, thereby cutting himself off from both a family and his children. He then reunites uncomfortably with Lord Douglas, but the attempt is a disaster. He final year or two are recounted as being especially miserable, with an impoverished Wilde reduced to conversing entertainingly with strangers for the benefit of a drink. It is especially heartbreaking to read how almost all his former friends cut him off, refusing to help him in his time of greatest need. An encounter with a young man from Arkansas provides perhaps the most apt Wilde quote from his last days. Upon hearing about Arkansas, Wilde remarked, "I would like to flee like a wounded hart into Arkansas."

One learns a vast amount of fascinating biographical detail about Wilde's life from this book. For instance: Wilde was double-jointed, could speed read and knock off books in scarcely more than a half hour in some instances. He was acquainted with the Yeats family in Ireland, and spoke with a pronounced Irish accent until he went to Oxford. He bought Thomas Carlyle's writing desk. He was a Mason. Physically he had tiny feet and teeth that were darkened by mercury treatments. And there is much, much more.

On nearly every level, this is a truly great biography. Even if one is not a fan of Wilde's works, it is definitely worth reading. ... Read more

10. Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde
by Oscar Wilde, Vyvyan B. Holland, Merlin Holland, Rupert Hart-Davis
list price: $45.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805059156
Catlog: Book (2000-11-01)
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Sales Rank: 99143
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Deliciously wicked, astoundingly clever, and often outright shocking, Oscar Wilde put his art into his work and his genius into his life. In this collection, replete with newly discovered letters, the full extent of that genius is unveiled.

Charting his life from his Irish upbringing to fame in his fin de sicle London to infamy and exile in Paris, the letters-written between 1875 and 1900 to publishers and fans, friends and lovers, enemies and adversaries-resound with Wilde's wit, brilliance, and humanity. Wilde's grandson, Merlin Holland, and Rupert Hart-Davis have produced a provocative and revealing self-portrait.

Wilde's reputation as a serious thinker, humorous writer, and gay icon continues to flourish. The Complete Letters is an intimate exploration of his life and thoughts-Wilde in his own words. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wilde speaking for himself
This book is an absolue delight, a most wonderful portrait of one of the most interesting figures in history. When people think of Oscar Wilde, they think scandals and love affairs. Wilde has most certainly been made into a larger than life character. This book humanizes Wilde, gives him a chance to speak for himself, to show what he really was. His business corrospondnce, letters to his children, these simple writings from his everyday life show a sign of Wilde that people do not think about. I can't recommend this book highly enough.

3-0 out of 5 stars The not so "Wilde" writings of Oscar...
As one of those people who has always found Oscar Wilde an interesting and inscrutable character I had great expectations and an insatiable desire to finally peruse the epistolary output of this remarkable man. Sadly and I will add through no fault of the editors of this opus this compilation will probably leave most readers still searching for insight. Many of these letters (if not the majority) deal with very mundane issues (e.g. business arrangements,inquiries to publishers, very conventional thank you notes and in the post-gaol notes a good number of entreaties for money). Of course this book does contain De Profundis which does present some fascinating insights about the way his mind was functioning during his incarceration as well as the great indignities attendant with this. I would still recommend this to the diehard Wilde fanatic but to the novice would recommend a good standard biography (Ellman's for example).

5-0 out of 5 stars WILDE with delight!
Though Mr. Wilde is indeed dead, his memory and writing is still with us. With this new book, "THE COMPLETE LETTERS OF OSCAR WILDE" you get a total new insiders glance on Oscar Wilde and his life. If you are a fan of Oscar Wilde, merely just heard of him, or a fan of literature, this is a must-have! ... Read more

11. A Drinking Life: A Memoir
by Pete Hamill
list price: $21.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316341088
Catlog: Book (1994-01-01)
Publisher: Little Brown & Co (T)
Sales Rank: 448656
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (27)

5-0 out of 5 stars Hamill's wonderful Memoir
The majority of this book takes place during Pete Hamill's childhood where he is raised in Brooklyn in a blue collar family.Hamill describes the characters of the neighborhood, his father and their favorite past time...drinking.The foul smoked filled bars of Brooklyn, this is where Hamill's father spends his time along with the neighborhood.The story is a way of life and that way of life is to drink.The story progresses into Pete Hamill's adult life and eventually into his learned way of life to drink.Hamill's alcohol consumption progresses and here is where Hamill tells his story of his drinking life, what it was to live as an alcoholic and what he did to face this problem.This is a terrific book.Reading about the neighborhood, Brooklyn and the time period alone makes this a wonderful book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Just...."A Life"
Pete Hamill has lived a very interesting life. We lead many lifes. He was the artist dreamer in rough and tumble Brooklyn as well as being able to be rough and tumble. He is dettached, yet sentimental. He hangs with the boys, grows up to stay loyal to his neighborhood and yet runs in celebrity circles. His memoir is "A Life".It is about drinking, but drinking is secondary to the story. What you get is not the destruction that drink causes but more of a passive tone regarding his heavy drinking. What permeates, into the reader is, mostly that drinking in Hamill's life created huge dysfunction in his family life and in his relationships.

What I found out to be bothersome was that I became very involved in the book and felt it was interesting enough for 100-150 more pages. The book is very detail oriented,from his very detailed young life to the late sixties and then it rapidly goes through his adult life. Hamill basically runs in famous circles later in his life, yet the reader doesn't get to know exactly how he found himself in those circles. On the positive side of this, he doesn't name drop or fall all over himself or pile gossipy crap on any of them.

His book points out his interesting life, his growth as a man, his successes and his adventures. I became involved in "A Drinking Life", in such a way, that I missed his life when the book was finished.

1-0 out of 5 stars What drinking life?
Mr. Hamill has written a book about the drinking life which doesn't mention drinking. Nowhere does he talk about the experience of drinking, why he liked drinking, or any of the other issues central to a drinker's life. I'm a non-drinking alcoholic, and I find it hard from the evidence provided in this book to conclude that Mr. Hamill ever drank at all.

I suppose the answer is probably that Mr. Hamill, in order to remain sober, has repressed all that. Well, more power to him. When you know what alcoholism is like then you want every other non-drinking alcoholic to use whatever means possible to stay sober. However, what we end up with is a highly intellectualized account of Mr. Hamill's drinking life which omits the crucial factors and ends up substituting for them cheap shots at his father.

2-0 out of 5 stars not the best
Quite honestly, I expected much more from this book, but was quickly disappointed. Despite the advice found in these reviews, you can find much better books to transport you into the old days of the New York streets. If you want a real memoir to read, one that tells the true tragic story of an Irish boys life with an alcoholic father, stick to Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes." It's written better, has much more feeling, and content.

Hamill whines, and complains about his life, and it's apparent that he is telling the story in a pity party circle. After reading the book, it's clear that he should just get over it, because his life isn't, and wasn't bad at all. Even his drinking problem pales in comparison to any NYC bar fly.

Stick to Hamill's fiction.

A highly rewarding read is what this book offers.One of the reasons I enjoy reading of another's life is to see the twists and turns that occur in the course of events.Most of the time (never always) the route is circuitous before a life's occupation is finally realized.In this case Pete Hamill is talented from childhood due to a creative brain and the ability to draw.This lead to many many adventures and the final destination of author.What a trip!Everything is well written and his amours are something to behold.I coudl not put this book down and read it quickly. ... Read more

12. Assassination at St. Helena Revisited
by BenWeider, StenForshufvud
list price: $30.00
our price: $30.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0471126772
Catlog: Book (1995-09-29)
Publisher: Wiley
Sales Rank: 373710
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Napoleon was poisoned! The academic elite hated this theory when Sten Forshufvud first introduced it in 1961, but over the years, working with experts across the globe, he built an increasingly forceful case that an assassin killed Napoleon with arsenic. Assassination at St. Helena Revisited presents the most complete argument yet, and a growing number of authorities now accept its premise as an established fact. (See, for instance, Alan Schom's biography Napoleon Bonaparte.)Forshufvud and coauthor Ben Weider reveal their science and also detail Napoleon's final years of exile on St. Helena. The culprit, they believe, was Comte Charles-Tristan de Montholon, an opportunistic man who had both the motive and means to do the deed. A minor classic of historical and scientific detective work, Assassination at St. Helena Revisited will continue to spark debates, but for now it looks like the conspiracy theorists have the upper hand. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

3-0 out of 5 stars Good book but a bit heavy
This book was not exactly what I expected. I thought it would be a focused look at the reason the authors thought that Napoleon was assassinated, but much of the text is actually his campaigns and political life. It almost seems that they were trying to make the book look big by adding information that you can easily read in other texts. I really thought this one was going to be different but it fell a little short in my opinion.

5-0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece for history lovers and Napoleonic fans!
This formidable story brings us to the magnificent life of one of the greatest heroes ever existing on earth, and of his mysterious death. It all begins on a lavish sofa at Ajjacio, Corsica, on August 15th 1769,when the second child of the Buonaparte family was born.Then it continues with his becoming general, emperor of France, and conqueror of Europe, until his disastrous attack at Moscow, his abdication, the hundred days,and his exile to a little island in the middle of the Atlantic. It culminates with his poisonment of arsenic and goes through a great detail in his last days before his death.It expands new evidence of his intoxication behind the miserable and tragic life inside the walls of Longwood. Was he really poisoned? Who was really the culprit? How can the author be sure of that? Is there a possibility that Napoleon comitted suicide? You can find all of it in this book. If you're a great admirer of this Eagle of France, I'm sure you won't regret.

5-0 out of 5 stars Compelling Story for True Crime and History Lovers
This is a wonderful book for anyone who likes history and/or true crime stories. It's amazing that so little has been known about Napoleon's last days, and that so little attention has been paid to such a wonderful book that seeks to explain Napoleon's demise. Through a mix of science and story telling, Weider and Forshufvud weave a tale of intrigue and murder. Their analysis and conclusions are so compelling, and their evidence so convincing, that it would seem impossible for anyone, after reading this book, to believe anything other than Napoleon was poisoned. As someone who is trained in these same forensic sciences and investigative principles, this is a fantastic and accurate book. ... Read more

13. Rome: The Biography of a City
by Christopher Hibbert
list price: $26.95
our price: $17.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140070788
Catlog: Book (1988-03-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 219896
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (6)

3-0 out of 5 stars Just the Facts, Please
In Self-Reliance, Emerson says, "In history our imagination plays us false. Kingdom and lordship, power and estate are gaudier vocabulary than private John and Edward in a small house and common day's work; but the things of life are the same to both; the sum total of both is the same," (130). This is a good place to begin articulating my discomfort with Hibbert's Rome: The Biography of a City. Halfway through the book one still has not seen any of Emerson's view that history is more than a succession of popes and kings. On the contrary, Hibbert seems to think that history is only that. It is an older book, and so we spare it some of our modern politics, but thus far, I've read nothing of women, nothing even of artists or architects in a city renowned for these, only that this king fought with this pope etc. through the centuries. I thought historians somehow knew better. One possible explanation for Hibbert's lack of attention to the actual soul of Rome is that he casts a broad net, writing so many histories he can hardly have time to do anything like justice to a place. He's written about France, Britain, America, and India, about their revolutions and separate books about their major figures, lending the impression that he may approach theses "biographies" like assembly-line machinery. One last neglect which seems to me not only in bad taste, but odd: Hibbert's Rome has been pretty overt in its dismissal of the Catholic Church. Nothing has been said about its many acts of charity, nor of its social/art educational status in the community, nor about the individual faiths of the saints and pilgrims, whose devotion, in the face of such obvious abuses, I find heartening.

4-0 out of 5 stars A bird's eye view of an incredible uninterrupted history
With a book that covers over 2,500 years of history, don't expect in-depth coverage here. That's not what this book is about. It provides a very good, bird's-eye view of the city and its history, however, and does a good job of impressing on the reader the incredible continuity of the city's history. I think there's a tendency to concentrate on ancient Rome and then to jump a thousand years to the Renaissance and the Baroque, without focusing on the incredible medieval history of the city. I found the chapters of the book devoted to the medieval period to be some of the more interesting.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Concise History of Rome
This is a good book for those interested in learning about general Rome History but not necessarily in reading thick textbooks. If you're interested in learning about specific periods/events (or the Roman Empire as a whole), you might want to look elsewhere. If you're interested in reading about a great city as a whole, this is a solid choice.

5-0 out of 5 stars Reads like a novel
I planned to visit Rome and was told Mr Hibbert's book was better than any travel guide. I was worried it would be a boring, textbook read. To my surprise, I was absolutely engrossed from cover to cover. The endnotes were a bit too inclusive for my taste, but for a true historian, the information would be captivating. Mr. Hibbert's focus on numerous Vatican events is eye opening.

5-0 out of 5 stars An amazing look at the timeless city
Hibbert presents Rome in a refreshing and vibrant light. Starting with the foundations of the city and the Romulus and Remus myth, and continuing through the days of empire, the barbarian onslaught, the rise of the church, the medieval era, and the city in more modern times, he links location, biography and history in a way that continually excites. Well illustrated, with maps, diagrams, paintings and photos, this book should be essential preparatory reading before visiting the Eternal City. (For a modern guide including information on restaurants, etc, to act as a good counterpart to this historical book, I recommend looking at Let's Go Rome. I used both these books on my two week trip in 1999, and didn't require any other references.) ... Read more

14. The U2 Reader : A Quarter Century of Commentary, Criticism and Reviews
by Hank Bordowitz
list price: $17.95
our price: $15.26
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 063403832X
Catlog: Book (2003-05-01)
Publisher: Hal Leonard Corporation
Sales Rank: 38131
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The first in Hal Leonard's new series of artist readers, The U2 Reader presents the world's most popular rock band from battle of the bands beginnings through today, in all of its many facets. Editor and compiler Hank Bordowitz, who Publishers Weekly says "provides evenhanded treatment of highly charged issues" and Library Journal adds "never takes sides or passes judgment, yet brilliantly illuminates ... ," has gathered articles ranging from U2's first mention in a suburban Dublin newspaper to coverage of the group's appearance at the Super Bowl. The U2 Reader deals with every aspect of the band from the way they do business to the way their music and lives convey their inherent spirituality. It includes reviews of albums and the live U2 experience, as well as behind-the-scenes looks at the band, including their forays into pop and politics. The book features a who's who of music journalism, including Dave Marsh (Born to Run, The Heart of Rock and Roll), Bill Flanagan (A and R; Executive Producer of VH-1's Behind the Music), Jim DeRogatis (Turn On Your Mind, Let It Blurt) and more than a dozen others. Authors not normally associated with music, such as Salman Rushdie, are featured, as are U2 peers such as Moby, Bruce Hornsby and Billy Corgan. A must read for even casual U2 fans!Hank Bordowitz is the author of Bad Moon Rising: The Unofficial History of Creedence Clearwater Revival. He lives in Suffern, New York. John Swenson is the co-editor of The New Rolling Stone Record Guide and the author of The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide and the former editor of Crawdaddy! magazine. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars A journalist collection
Bordowitz does a great job in this reader collecting U2 "clippings" from the beginning of the band through its over 25 years of rising, dominating, declining, but above all, persisting in popular music. The articles really speak for themselves about the excitement of being on the world stage and the adulation and tribulations that come with that. The author does not do much more than really frame each time period of the band's existence in order to put the articles in accordingly. But I think that was his intention: this is not a direct analysis of U2's influence on music or pop-culture. That project is left for the reader to endeavor in, but only if they desire.

It is interesting and well worth your time to experience the band in the newspaperist chronology set out before you. We all like to think about U2 at different points in their career and we all have an idea of what "our favorite album" is or when we thought "U2 was making it huge". And so, its pretty neat to see whether or not the mainstream, worldwide news coverage of the band concurs with your own conclusions about different time periods.

It's a fun read if you are a U2 fan!

4-0 out of 5 stars Multi-Faceted
Hank Bordowitz follows up on The Creedence Clearwater Revivial saga, Bad Moon Rising, with an excellent account on U2(The U2 Reader: A Quarter Century if Commentary, Criticism, and Reviews). What makes this book a winner, is the many perspectives and in depth research that Bordowitz provides. The songs and performances are analyzed from religious, political, and musical perspectives. Its great that Bordowitz gets quotes from musical luminaries like Bruce Springsteen, Sinead O'Connor, and Billy Coorgan.

Some moments are spent looking into the personal sides of each band member and how their personalities caused the band to evolve over time. The Unforgettable Fire certainly differs greatly from Pop as the band has evolved from a radical new wave band to one that seems to have their influence blend into the world today. Big time fans should pick this book up and even minor fans like myself will find that there is much merit in Bordowitz's fine research.

5-0 out of 5 stars Rattle & History
Of the many U2 books on the market, with more to come, it is refreshing to get a sense of historical perspective of the world's most popular, if not relevant, band.

U2 was not always the most beloved band, especially after its forays into electronica. Even during the early days there were some doubts, hard to believe now, of the band's durability. The book is worth the price alone for reading Jon Pareles's early review of U2 from The New York Times. In 1981 he actually wished the band would break up!

This book scans the thoughts and musings of a wide variety of authors from the band's earliest days to the present. One of the convenient pluses of the book is that, as a compilation, it can be read in bursts or it can be read just sitting down for an afternoon on the beach. Each article short enough to look up to see if the kids are alright and yet engaging enough to say to your wife, "yes dear."

Few books today really put U2 into this proper context of where they stand in the eyes of the critics. It will appeal to the long time fan still able to recall those early days at the clubs and theaters and also to the newer fan wondering what it was like when they were just starting out but still able to be familiar with the band that is today.

Overall, a timely and needed effort, especially as U2 writes their new album and takes a pause from the last phase of their career. It is also a fun read. Who said history isn't fun? ... Read more

15. Scots Irish in Pennsylvania & Kentucky
by Bill Kennedy
list price: $15.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1840300329
Catlog: Book (1998-09-01)
Publisher: Ambassador-Emerald International
Sales Rank: 352258
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Book Description

Pennsylvania and Kentucky are two American states settled primarily at opposite ends of the 18th century by Ulster-Scots Presbyterians.In this fourth of the popular chronicles on this hardy, pioneering breed of people, Billy Kennedy vividly details the stories behind the early settlements and the enduring personalities who came to the fore during a fascinating period of history.

William Penn and his Quaker community encouraged the European settlers to move in large numbers to the colonial lands in Pennsylvania from the beginning of the 18th century and the Scots-Irish were among the earliest families to set up homes in Philadelphia, Lancaster, Elizabethtown, Harrisburg, and Pittsburgh.

President James Buchanan was a Scots-Irish son of Pennsylvania, one of thirteen Presidents with Ulster family links, and many other illustrious citizens of the Keystone State trace their roots to immigrants who crossed the Atlantic from the North of Ireland.

Kentucky, established as a state in 1792, was pioneered two decades earlier by renowned frontiersmen Daniel Boone and a few Ulster-Scots families, such as the WArnocks, the McAfees, the Logans, and the McGarys.Those were dark and dangerous days west of the Appalachian Mountains and through the Cumberland Gap and the bloody conflict between the settlers and the Indian tribes terribly stained the landscape of the Bluegrass State.

Gradually, civilized society emerged in Kentucky by the beginning of the 19th century and it was Scots-Irish soldiers, hunters, politicians, lawyers, and plain ordinary farmers who were in the vanguard of bringing this about.

This book records for posterity the outstanding contribution of the Scots-Irish in Pennsylvania and Kentucky, and, as with the immigrant settlers in Tennessee, the Shenandoah Valley, and the Carolinas, it is a story well worth telling. ... Read more

16. In Code: A Mathematical Journey
by Sarah Flannery, David Flannery
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1565123778
Catlog: Book (2002-12-01)
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Sales Rank: 48457
Average Customer Review: 4.61 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In January 1999, Sarah Flannery, a sports-loving teenager from Blarney in County Cork, Ireland, was awarded Ireland's Young Scientist of the Year for her extraordinary research and discoveries in Internet cryptography. The following day, her story began appearing in Irish papers and soon after was splashed across the front page of the London Times, complete with a photo of Sarah and a caption calling her "brilliant." Just sixteen, she was a mathematician with an international reputation.

IN CODE is a heartwarming story that will have readers cheering Sarah on. Originally published in England and cowritten with her mathematician father, David Flannery, IN CODE is "a wonderfully moving story about the thrill of the mathematical chase" (Nature) and "a paean to intellectual adventure" (Times Educational Supplement). A memoir in mathematics, it is all about how a girl next door, nurtured by her family, moved from the simple math puzzles that were the staple of dinnertime conversation to prime numbers, the Sieve of Eratosthenes, Fermat's Little Theorem, googols-and finally into her breathtaking algorithm. Parallel with each step is a modest girl's own self-discovery-her values, her burning curiosity, the joy of persistence, and, above all, her love for her family. ... Read more

Reviews (23)

5-0 out of 5 stars Very interesting and very readable.
Sarah Flannery is a most remarkable young woman. The story of how she approached her mathematics project and how she was able to discover the Cayley-Purser algorithm is fascinating.

Instead of giving the Reader's Digest version of the book, I will just say that she wrote the book in the same manner in which she approached her work, with a lot of vim and vigor. One can not but get excited with her as she felt her way through the mathematics and learn as she did, step by step the methods of cryptography. Not being one who is familiar with crytography per se but an amateurish afficionado of Number Theory, I found her explanations of the pertinent mathematics charming, refreshing and stimulating. Her intermittent puzzles were fun and illustrative. I recommend this for anyone wishing to inspire curious youngsters with mathematics.

The only quibble anyone could have with this book is the honesty and naivete exhibited by young Sarah, but then again, that is what is so attractive about this gem of a book that stands out amongst the jaded sea of mathematics book being cranked out by authors too cynical to be excited by the mathematical ideas they are writing about.

Be forewarned however, you must be atleast a bit amused by mathematics or you won't get the maximum pleasure out of this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and Entertaining!
Sarah Flannery is a young girl who overcame all the odds and won international recognition at a young age through her amazing research in cryptography. This book, In Code, is not really about her research project (although I can see how some would be misled by the title). Instead, it serves as a charming account of her childhood and young adult life: some of the puzzles and problems she worked on, the things she was thinking while working on her research project, her reaction to success, and more. After finishing the book I felt as if I'd known Sarah Flannery personally.

I found the riddles and puzzles sprinkled throughout the book to be very entertaining, and I learned a few things about mathematics I didn't already know while reading. The problems each served to show that even things that seem difficult can be very simple if you change your way of thinking. For me, the toughest part of working through the puzzles was resisting the urge to peek at the answers in the back of the book.

What I most liked about this book is the positive role model it provides for aspiring young mathemticians, particularly girls (who have historically been underrepresented in the field.)

Overall, I highly recommend this book to everyone who has any appreciation for a good puzzle. This book would also be good for parents of young children and older children who are interested in mathematics.

4-0 out of 5 stars An inspiring and encouraging book
This is an inspiring book, telling the story of a young woman's introduction to, and enamourment with, of all things, mathematics. In an era where enthusiasm for the sciences is often seen as "uncool", it is delightfully encouraging to read the story of a family, and in particular the author herself, who understand both the value and the pleasure of such interests.

The book balances two quite separate elements. On the one hand there's the story of how Sarah became interested in mathematics, did an interesting science project, and got a lot of attention when as a seventeen year old Irish girl she nearly invented a powerful new cryptographic system. On the other hand there's a very clear introduction to the mathematics underlying modern cryptography, presented using a range of interesting examples, puzzles and clear explanations.

After an introduction to Sarah, her family, and the intellectual training methods of her parents, the first two thirds of the book focus mainly on the mathematical background, interspersed with regular anecdotes explaining how Sarah came to understand and use different skills and areas of knowledge. If you want an introduction to this area of mathematics you could do a lot worse than this book.

The last third of the book focuses on how she did her science project, and what happened when she won a major prize in the annual Irish Young Scientist competition, including how she and her family dealt with quite unexpected fame and media attention. What is interesting is how seriously the Irish establishment and media seem to take these things.

Finally a couple of appendixes present answers to the puzzles, and a few key pieces of mathematical background in more detail.
The book is co-written by Sarah's father David. He's a mathematics lecturer, and on the evidence of both the explanations in the book, and the way he inspired his children it appears he's a very good one. Between the father's very strong skills in presenting mathematics, and the daughter's refreshing simplicity and honesty about all that's happened to her, they make a very powerful team.

I would definitely recommend this book to any youngster interested in the sciences, or any sort of academic endeavour. I'd also recommend it to older readers, an encouraging proof that such interests have not been entirely abandoned.

4-0 out of 5 stars the true story
I remember the media blitz of a few years ago about the teenaged Irish genius girl. It's good to hear in her own words how the whole thing unfolded. She says so herself, she's not some mathematical genius, she's just a smart kid that did a lot of hard work.
She relates everything in the book, from the start of her early interest in math thanks to her father's frequent puzzle challenges, to her hitting on the idea of the winning project, to how she made it come to fruition. It's a good example of how parental involvement in education, and not just sending the kids to school, can help the kids immensely.
There's a good amount of instructional math in the book for those who would like to learn a little about the base knowledge she had to learn to work with cryptography. You can also read her project paper in the back of the book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Engaging Mathematical Adventure
In 1999, at the age of 16, Sarah Flannery won Ireland's prestigious Young Scientist of the Year Award and a first place in the European Union's Young Scientist Contest for her science project "Cryptography -A New Algorithm Versus the RSA". The RSA is a public key algorithm that is widely used to encrypt data in our high-tech world. Sarah's work in trying to find a faster alternative to the RSA led, not only to a host of awards, but, unexpectedly, to worldwide acclaim and opportunities which she could not have imagined. She was invited to speak at conferences and in classrooms as far away from her native Ireland as Singapore and Milan. She was even a guest speaker at an IBM leadership conference for women when she was only 17 years old. And, at 18, she published "In Code", which is the story of her mathematical life up to that point. Sarah's Father, David Flannery, who writes the introduction to this book, is a mathematician himself and so integrates mathematics into his home life that his five children became accustomed to solving math and logic puzzles from a very young age. Sarah talks about growing up in this environment and includes a smattering of mind-bending puzzles, taken from her Father's collection, for the reader to solve. Then she goes on to explain the basic formulas and concepts behind modern cryptography. Although no math beyond algebra is needed to understand these mathematical chapters, I found that a good deal of effort and persistence is needed. I have a background in calculus, and I found it difficult to grasp the notations involved in cryptography, in particular. Of course, this is probably because I have no discernible talent at number theory. Sarah's explanations of the mathematics of cryptography are as clear as they could be, and her enthusiasm for her subject is infectious. After the mathematical chapters, she tells us how she came to choose and research her science project, her quest for an alternative algorithm, and of her experiences in showcasing her discoveries around the world. Sarah Flannery is, somewhat surprisingly, an engaging and fluid writer. To write such a readable book about mathematics is no mean feat. "In Code" is an interesting and engaging story of discovery. It is perfect for anyone seeking a basic understanding of the cryptography that we encounter in almost every home and workplace today. And it's a winning scientific adventure story that is bound to capture the interest of all the budding young scientists out there. ... Read more

17. Are You Somebody? : The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman
by Nuala O'Faolain
list price: $13.00
our price: $10.40
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805056645
Catlog: Book (1999-01-15)
Publisher: Owl Books
Sales Rank: 67530
Average Customer Review: 3.09 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Nuala O'Faolain attracted a huge amount of critical praise and a wide audience with the literary debut of Are You Somebody? Her midlife exploration of life's love, pain, loneliness, and self- discovery won her fans worldwide who write and tell her how her story has changed their lives. There are thousands who have yet to discover this extraordinary memoir of an Irish woman who has stepped away from the traditional roles to define herself and find contentment. They will make this paperback a long-selling classic.
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Reviews (67)

5-0 out of 5 stars middle-aged conventional man finds Nuala valuable
You either love this book or find it a tedious whine. Why would a conventional, middle-aged English teacher like myself find it worthwhile, even riveting? It helps that I have visited Ireland several times in recent years, and have gradually seen beyond the Irish Tourist Board conception of the emerald isle. And I have enjoyed Dublin, despite its scruffy character. I also have spent most of my professional life working with single women, and though none of them have faced life situations as tough as Nuala's, I still found connections with her life and their's. I also teach English, and I love her affection for poetry and books. But most of all, I love her truth-seeking, and despite some of the personal complaints on this list of reviews, this is a crafted book that never left me confused. We all have parents, and conflict between us seems to be just a part of living we can't altogether avoid. I thank Nuala for bravely writing her memoir. I read it straight through in two chunks of time over two days.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fascinating view of Irish women of a certain age
I was quite moved by this book, by O'Faolain's honesty about her sexual development, failed relationships, and her struggle with the life of her parents and their effect on her and her siblings. It helped me understand present-day Ireland better, and also some of the religious strife - for example, the fact that as a college student she was "shocked" to discover other religions beyond catholicism that had similar tenets. It's hard for us to imagine being so sheltered from the rest of the world.

I admired her courage in examining why she is alone and how she feels about it. The postscript was particularly interesting. When I finished this book I started reading it over.

5-0 out of 5 stars sad and so very true
I have once again made the mistake of reading the other customer reviews before writing my own review. Generally when I happen onto a one or two star review that really comes down on a book that I like, I will go to the "See All Reviews" page and order the reviews from "Lowest First". I will then read through review after review by readers who simply wanted this to be another book rather than the one it is.

I suppose that my repeated exercise of this masochistic procedure is part of my own Catholic background, which was far less complete, administered twenty years after O'Faolain's and in the New World rather than isolated, entrenched Ireland. Perhaps it helps to be Catholic when it comes to understanding Nuala O'Faolain's nearly continual struggle to lead a full and worldly life and not feel badly about it.

A lot of readers still seem to expect a 'Whig history' from a memoir with triumph leading to triumph, interspersed with set-pieces of 'struggle' to make it interesting. Are You Somebody? is something much braver, truer and scarier: an honest recollection.

O'Faolain very clearly describes the historically maintained cultural institutions that caused her to have certain beliefs and take certain actions that led her repeatedly into disaster. Forty years before her, Virginia Woolf had described the need for women to make lives that were expressions of their own desires rather than fulfillments of the needs of men. O'Faolain is acutely conscious, looking back in middle age, that she had not internalized Woolf's wisdom and that her dysfunctional relationships with men were a direct result.

She is also at pains to describe the slow awakening of her consciousness of her Irishness and she is quite frank about how her failure to think of herself as Irish, even though the BBC thought of her as an Irish woman, caused to make mediocre documentaries about contemporary events in Ireland.

In chapter after chapter O'Faolain shows us how hidebound patriarchy made it difficult for a woman to enjoy or trust worldly success, how the medieval nature of Irish Catholicism made for complete confusion about sex and female independence, and how a deep-seated disinterest in Irish culture among the educated classes of Dublin made one's identity peculiarly rootless. As if that weren't enough, there is much more in this book.

If you find this book pretentious and depressing, then I suggest that you stop going to Starbucks and paying $3 for a cup of coffee. Life has not always been the way it is now. A lot of things were harder for women, particularly Irish women, not so long ago. If you don't want to hear it, then you're part of the problem.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not a winner
I read this book as part of a book group. I found it boring and pretenious. The author would have done a much better job if she spent more time on a specific event, rather than racing through general situations. She skipped around a lot so it was very difficult to remember who was whom, or to even care.

5-0 out of 5 stars Resonates with all women who came of age in that era
One of 9 children in your typically urban Dublin Catholic household, Nuala O'Faolain made it out. A physically absent father and emotionally absent and defeated mother didn't prevent O'Faolain from somehow finding her path through the medium of books. It was actually her near disastrous mistakes with 'boys' that, oddly, fostered her escape. To save Nuala's immortal soul, she was sent to a convent - and then with a scholarship, on to Oxford and a career.
Career. Not a word usually found in the same sentence with 'woman' in Ireland in the 50s and 60s. The fact that O'Faolin chooses not to bear children, finding solace in books, literature, and writing, does not always settle well with her compatriots - and indeed, she herself admits that it wasn't always the best situation as she struggled with alcoholism and depression.
Ultimately, however, Are You Somebody emerges as a sociological expose of Irish women and the choices they are too often forced to make.
Not just 'another Irish memoir.' It's more than the sum of its parts and well worth a careful read. ... Read more

18. Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs : The Authorized Autobiography Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols
by John Lydon, Keith Zimmerman, Kent Zimmerman
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 031211883X
Catlog: Book (1995-04-01)
Publisher: Picador USA
Sales Rank: 23795
Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars
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"Much has been written about the Sex Pistols. Much of it has either been sensationalism or journalistic psychobabble. The rest has been mere spite. This book is as close to the truth as one can get ... This means contradictions and insults have not been edited, and neither have the compliments, if any. I have no time for lies or fantasy, and neither should you. Enjoy or die."

So writes author John Lydon, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten, in his introduction to the book Rotten, an oral history of punk: angry, honest, and crackling with energy. Seventies punk has been romanticized by the media and the up-and-coming punk bands of today, but the sneering, leering disaffection of that time has been lost. Now, Lydon candidly and at times, dare we say it, fondly looks back at himself, the Sex Pistols, and the "no future" attitude of the time. Rolling Stone calls Lydon a "pavement philosopher whose Dickensian roots blossom with Joycean color," and the San Francisco Chronicle calls Rotten an "invaluable [book] ... sheds welcome light on that short period of great music and spasmodic cultural change."

Bollocks you say? Read, sneer, and enjoy or die. ... Read more

Reviews (49)

5-0 out of 5 stars Terrific autobio by one of the founding fathers of punk
Unfortunately, with all of the hype concerning the infamous Sex Pistols, their rapid rise and just as rapid decline and break-up, people have a tendency to forgot about the people involved in the band. Although Johnny Rotten is probably the most well-known member of the Pistols (I say probably because Sid Vicious is, quite possibly, more well-known), he is often seen as little more than a "punk rock" icon. In this book, he sets it straight, as he sees it. It is an incredibly good read, and Lydon (his real last name) is brutally honest about his home life, his childhood, his inclusion into the Pistols and the breakup and demise of the Pistols. The book is, at times, depressing, touching and upsetting, but it is always entertaining and, surprisingly, incredibly funny. Lydon is a very witty guy, and he holds nothing back in this autobio. Definately recommend for anyone interested in the man, the Pistols or punk in general.

5-0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC !!!!
You don't have to be a SEX PISTOLS fan to enjoy this book. If you remember the 'uproar' punk rock caused in 1977-1979, this is for you !

John Rotten is such a breath of fresh air, compaired to all the other rock stars of the past. He is witty, downright RUDE at times, and a 'kid at heart'.

Basically, this book talks about him growing up in the working class part of London and what started the whole punk rock scene. He takes us from Kings Row to the recording studio to Buckingham Palace to small club gigs and then to America, to wrap up the ENTIRE Sex Pistols' career. It's all here: Sid's battle with heroin, Johnny's feuding with manager Malcome McLaren, Steve Jones (guitarist) & Paul Cook (drummer) remeberences of what it was like to be a Pistol, the battles with Sid's girlfriend Nancy and the trouble she caused, Johnny's court battle with Pistols management after the breakup of the band, ect. ect....

If you EVER had an interest in the Pistols, you will LOVE this book. ALL questions are answered and put to rest. If you always HATED the Pistols, I suggest reading John's book ANYWAY because it will make you think again about the 'tallent' this band had. They changed the face of music...Without THEM, there would have been NO indie rock - NO alternative rock - and NO 'new wave' rock. They were WAY before their time.

John's book is honest and down to earth...He admits his mistakes...He admits his faults...He admits the Pistols had little or no tallent as a touring band...This is a man everyone always thought of has having an EGO problem. Read this book ! He could very well be the most CARING person in the rock industry...You might not always agree with WHAT he says, but he will make you THINK....And THAT is a sign of a true artist !

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book, a must if you want the facts and perspective
I'm only 15, this being my first book and the fact that I actually read it completely amuses me. I've liked Sex Pistols for about 3 years now and definately like them more now after reading this book.

Johnny is brutally honest in this book, and the fact that the former band members contributed to this book didn't hold back his criticism of them, wich surprised me, and it works the other way around too. It gives you the facts and perspective from the guy who was there taking heat from the press and so on. The fact alone that they did this in the 1970's earns them some serious respect, it was new, unique. One of a kind, in my opinion.

This book was released 10 years ago though, so I'm looking forward to Johnny's next book, in an interview('02) he said he'd write "several" and mentioned one about his band, Public Image Limited and another one about political process.
Keep your eyes peeled.

4-0 out of 5 stars A repulsive charisma
There's a lot of denial and acceptance, boasting and modesty going on here, but these are the contradictions we should expect from John Lydon. But, frankly, this is a very enjoyable book, no matter how much of this narrative is tongue-in-cheek, and no matter how much he tries to repulse us. Personally, I enjoyed the earlier chapters much more than the later ones. The story of his early childhood rings more of the truth. He may be embellishing the hardship he endured, trying to make himself sound more like a Dickensian poorboy, but I don't think the embellishment is necessarily exaggeration. Growing up Irish where he grew up could not have been easy. Who would brag about such suffering?

The later chapters have a more defensive ring to them. Maybe he has a right to such a stance, if he is speaking is truth. But you never know with Mr. Lydon. And by this time, the whole story of the disintegration of the Pistols, and of Mr. Vicious, have entered into rock 'n' roll mythology/legend/hype. Nonetheless, this book reads so much differently than most rock autobiographies, biographies, and histories. First of all, there is no presence of a ghostwriter behind the scenes. This is John, no doubt, and his caustic wit. Also, there is no holier-than-thou or rockier-than-thou or druggier-than-thou tone. Lastly, he allows some other people to speak, although the quotes seem highly selective at times. In any event, he is not hogging the microphone; he's screaming at it, as usual, as he should. I would expect nothing less than that.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Not So Rotten Review
John Lydon's Rotten was a great read. I am a person who enjoys the Sex Pistols and i have always been curious about how they came about being so different. This book sticks you right in with the everyday hardships of the band and its like you get to know all of them personally. Not only do you get to learn about the Sex Pistols and Johnny Rotten but also Punk Rock and its history. The only thing is that there were a few too many details for me, i think they took a little too long to get to the interesting parts. Other than that a great and educational read. ... Read more

19. With Pleated Eye and Garnet Wing : Symmetries of Italo Calvino
by I. T. Olken
list price: $39.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0472100440
Catlog: Book (1984-05-15)
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Sales Rank: 712704
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Book Description

Examines the structure, patterns, and themes of Calvino's work
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20. The Family Silver : A Memoir of Depression and Inheritance
by Sharon O'Brien
list price: $27.50
our price: $18.15
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0226616649
Catlog: Book (2004-06-15)
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Sales Rank: 48205
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Book Description

Finding herself struggling with depression ("like a rude houseguest, coming and going of its own accord"), Sharon O'Brien set out to understand its origins beyond the biochemical explanations and emotional narratives prevailing in contemporary American culture. Her quest for her inheritance took her straight into the pressures and possibilities of American culture, and then to the heart of her family--the generations who shaped and were shaped by one another and their moment in history. In The Family Silver, as O'Brien travels into her family's past, she goes beyond depression to discover courage, poetry, and grace.

A compassionate and engaging writer, O'Brien uses the biographer's methods to understand her family history, weaving the scattered pieces of the past--her mother's memo books, her father's reading journal, family photographs, tombstones, dance cards, hospital records, the family silver--into a compelling narrative. In the lives of her Irish-American relatives she finds that the American values of upward mobility, progress, and the pressure to achieve sparked both desire and depression, following her family through generations, across the sea, from the Irish famine of the 1840s to Harvard Yard in the late 1960s.

"Many people who write stories of depression or other chronic illnesses tell tales of recovery in the upward-mobility sense, the 'once I was ill, but now I am well' formula that we may find appealing, but doesn't match the messiness of our lives," she writes. "Mine is not such a tale. But it is a recovery tale in another sense--a story of salvage, of rescuing stories from silence." Told with humor and honesty, O'Brien's story will captivate all readers who want to know how they, and their families, have been shaped by the past.

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