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$6.99 list($23.95)
101. Leading With My Chin (Thorndike
list($25.95)
102. Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano's
$13.95 $0.09
103. John Glenn A Memoir
$11.53 $5.00 list($16.95)
104. Me (Random House Large Print)
list($29.95)
105. The Professor and the Madman:
$29.45
106. It Seemed Important At The Time:
$16.50 $1.45 list($25.00)
107. A Different Drummer: My Thirty
$30.95
108. America's Mom: The Life, Lessons,
$29.45
109. Tis Herself (Thorndike Press Large
$15.61 list($22.95)
110. The Boys of Pointe du Hoc LP :
list($23.95)
111. The Plague and I (Thorndike Press
$29.95
112. The Map That Changed the World:
list($29.45)
113. Vernon Can Read!: A Memoir (Thorndike
$30.95
114. Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna
$24.95 $16.06
115. Girl Singer (Random House Large
$30.95
116. I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes
$16.50 list($29.95)
117. Girl, Interrupted (Thorndike Press
$29.45
118. You Make Me Feel Like An Unnatural
$9.99 list($24.95)
119. A Pirate Looks At Fifty (Random
$30.95
120. Heart of a Soldier: A Story of

101. Leading With My Chin (Thorndike Press Large Print Paperback Series)
by Jay Leno, Bill Zehme
list price: $23.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0783885245
Catlog: Book (1999-04-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 863347
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

So what do you expect from a celebrity autobiography? Tales of an impoverished childhood and an unappreciated early career? Angst-ridden revelation? In Jay Leno's take on the genre, tales have only one purpose--laughs. This is a book of jokey anecdotes and humorous stories marking the comedian's progress to the top. The persona of the young Leno is not so different and just as likable as the one appearing nightly on television. Whether it is his mother's advice, his teachers' complaints, or the awkward situations he finds himself in (for example, standing before an Orthodox Jewish audience who have been mistakenly led to expect a Yiddish storyteller) Leno always sees the funny side. ... Read more

Reviews (30)

5-0 out of 5 stars His personal stand-up comes through
I love Jay Leno.I've always found Letterman a bit too smug and self-consciously hip--except for moments with his mom and the Top Ten Lists.And for critics who derided Jay Leno's championing of Schwarzenegger, Jay, a dyslexic, has a tendency to promote the guy everyone else laughs at (and who Jay laughs at too, but never mean-spirited).

There's plenty of comedy here but what I find most touching is Jay's courtship with his wife Mavis, his relationship with his Italian father and Scottish mother, and the loving way he chronicles his parents' eccentricities.This is the same spirit in which he memorialized his father and mother on-air.Jay Leno truly is Mr. Nice Guy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, incredible, great book
Since buying this book I re-read it almost every other week, and I still laugh hard at all those stories. A collection of incredibly hilarious stories of Jay Leno's life. Many of them hardly believable and probably exaggerated, but still hilarious as hell.

The book also provides a great opportunity for learning about other comedians of his age that younger generation may not heave heard about, such as Andy Kaufman and Freddy Prinze, not to mention legends such as Johnny Carson and Merv Grifin.

I learned from this book that contrary to popular belief, most of the successes in the entertainment field have been achieved through hard work, not pur chance-of-a-life-time or being-at-right-time-at-right-moment. But Seinfeld and Leno are proofs that just "being funny" is not sufficient to become a successful comedian. Boy, how hard working Jay Leno was in all those years.

Strongly Recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars hillarious
im in the process of reading "leading with my chin" by jay leno, and so far i am astonished at how increadably funny it is! my teacher assigned us to read a biography or bibliography of our choice, and last minute i was in frantic search for a book. a friend of mine handed me the bio and told me, "read it. its funny, and it goes fast!" to my surprise, she was right. the book is a joy to read, even to those who dont like reading much *caugh* *caugh*. "leading with my chin" is no less than a 5 star book.

1-0 out of 5 stars FICTION??
After reading this book, some of the stories seem fabricated.I have heard these "stories" from other people.Like your monologue.Old and borrowed.

3-0 out of 5 stars Gives Background on His Career
Hard work pays off in any field, including entertainment. This book chronicles Jay's "dues paying" days in Massachusetts before he made it big. It contains wit, but goes beyond funny anecdotes. It gives insight into his career struggles. Jay seems to remain approachable due to the hard years he faced as an up and coming comic. Leno is, in a sense, a "working man's comedian" in that he had to earn the right to the position he currently holds. This book is instructive in that it teaches the principle of creative persistence by default, i.e., Leno did it and describes the process.
A few photos add to the story telling in the book.
He is honest about not being an ideal student during his college days. Leno's story has elements of interest to a general audience in that his story is a niche version of the American success story of rising from obscurity to national fame. ... Read more


102. Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia (Thorndike Large Print Americana Series)
by Peter Maas
list price: $25.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786212535
Catlog: Book (1997-12-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Pr
Sales Rank: 125717
Average Customer Review: 4.29 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In 1992, the highest-ranking member of the Mafia in America ever to defect broke his oath of silence and testified against his boss, John Gotti.Gravano's story is about starting out on the street, about killing and being killed, revealing the truth behind a quarter century of shocking headlines. It is also a tragic story of a wasted life, of unalterable choices and the web of lies, weakness and treachery that underlies the so-called Honored Society. ... Read more

Reviews (106)

5-0 out of 5 stars best book on cosa nostra i've ever read
When I first decided to get this book and read it, I had my doubts.. because of my contempt for anyone who becomes a rat, but once I started reading it I really couldn't put it down. I LOVE this book. I have read it many times, and I'm still not sick of it. The beauty of this book is it is all told in Gravano's own words, quoted. Hearing Sammy tell the story word for word is just great. This book isn't just about the Gotti era, and that's good.. theres enough books that focus only on that... this is Sammy's life story. No matter how much you dislike rats, it's hard to dislike Sammy after reading this. It seems really honest, he doesn't try to seem like a good guy, he says how he really feels about things (usually after whacking someone out, 'it's cosa nostra, what can you do' haha).. and you gotta respect that. After reading this, you don't feel as sorry for Gotti. Sammy stayed loyal to this close to him, he refused to testify against anyone in his old crew. Interestinly enough (this isn't in the book, it's recent news) the government recently indicted someone from Sammy's old crew on charges of conspiring to murder Sammy.. What does Sammy do? He testifies on the defenses behalf, saying that Toddo would never try to kill him! Truely a man's man! Still, though, you gotta keep in mind how many people the guy brought down other than Gotti... I think it's a shame he testified against Vicent "The Chin" Gigante, boss of the Genovese family. The Chin was a much more interesting boss than Gotti.. the difference is he didn't have the same pathetic affection for the media that Gotti had. Anywy, I don't think Sammy was the one who brought Gotti down.. Gotti's ego brought Gotti down, Sammy may have just helped speed up the process. Read this book, it's better than wiseguy 5++ stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars If you loved "GoodFellas"...
Many reviewers have compared this work to Nicholas Pileggi's fine book "Wiseguy" (which was the basis for the movie "GoodFellas"). And rightfully so. "Wiseguy" concerned real life crime figure Henry Hill and how he eventually turned government informant against the mob. "Underboss" likewise tells the tale of a mobster turned informant, except this time the stool pigeon, Sammy Gravano, is a capo (and later a consigliere) in the Gambino crime family, and the mafioso he fingers is none other than John Gotti himself.

As you might expect, "Underboss" is a fascinating read. (Author Peter Maas previously wrote the books "Serpico" and "The Valachi Papers", among others, so he knows how to tell a good crime story). Gravano does not portray himself as a saint. He candidly reveals in horrifying (though not gory) detail crimes he committed in the mob, including some nineteen murders and literally hundreds of burglaries, armed robberies, and kickback/extortion plots. All the major New York crime bosses of the time (Carlo Gambino, Joe Columbo, Paul Castellano, Vincent Gigante, and of course Gotti) figure in the proceedings, as Gavano had dealings with them and others, as well.

Unlike some true crime books where you end up skipping chapters to get to the "good stuff", this book was gripping every step of the way. So much so that I ended reading it cover to cover, all 301 pages, in less than a week. If you're looking for a good insider's book on the Mafia, this is it.

4-0 out of 5 stars A LOOK INTO THE DARK WOLD OF ORGANIZED CRIME
I enjoyed reading the book not just for the entertainment value, but also for the things it taught me about life in the mob. Some of the things I learned are the organization structure, codes of conduct, methods of intimidation, sources of mob income, and the absolute ruthlessness of the lifestyle.

I like reading these kinds of books not because I think this life these people like Sammy Gravano lead was somehow cool or glamorous. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It's a dangerous, deceptive, wicked lifestyle. I enjoy reading mob books like this because I get a look into a different world I am rarely if ever exposed to. And of course this book, being a true story and interview of a former high-level mob underboss made it a very interesting read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Maybe the last chapter of La Cosa Nostra, & it's a great one
This really is an amazing insider account of arguably the most famous Italian Mafia family in American history, and the book more than lives up to its billing. The most dramatic thought that I came away with after reading "Underboss" is that Sammy the Bull didn't bring down Gotti and the Gambinos - Gotti did that. Sammy just put the final nail in the coffin.

Gotti's arrogant, publicity seeking ways were ultimately what brought down the Gambino family. Had Gotti been a little more humble and knew the art of "laying low" after several acquittals, he very well may never have been convicted, or at least he would have been out of jail and in power much longer. AND, had he not stabbed Gravano in the back, as Sammy heard on the tapes in a courtroom, Sammy may never have testified against Gotti in the first place.

But, the truth is, Sammy is no model citizen, as he readily attests to in the book. He kills his brother-in-law and performs a number of other murders for seemingly minor Mafia indiscretions. To his credit, though, he doesn't pretend portray himself as a victim, either. Since he's currently doing a 20-year stretch for running an E ring, that's poetic justice in the eyes of the many he betrayed to avoid prison for his underworld doings. Sammy's lived quite a life, and this book let's the curious in on the action. It's probably one of the best Mafia books I've ever read. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Account
This is for sure one of the best book on the subject ever written. Peter Maas comes really close and describes the life of a mobster in great captivating detail. There is a tendency to put Gravano up to be a bit of a star with morals and ethics above and beyond what the rest of the gangsters have. Perhaps he is, but it still took him an enormous amount of killing and torturing to decide on a better way to use his talent. In any case the book is a fantastic read. ... Read more


103. John Glenn A Memoir
by JOHN GLENN
list price: $13.95
our price: $13.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375707859
Catlog: Book (2000-10-03)
Publisher: Random House Large Print
Sales Rank: 801867
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

At a time when overwritten biographies arguably provide too much information about their subjects, astronaut-turned-politician-turned-astronaut John Glenn's breezy memoir is welcome. His life story is simply told, not terribly reflective but enormously compelling: an Ohio boy grows up to become the first American to orbit the earth, takes a shot at the presidency but misses, and triumphantly returns to outer space as a senior citizen and national hero. Following a section on his youth, Glenn describes being a fighter pilot in the Second World War and Korea (where he lived in the same Quonset hut as baseball legend Ted Williams), as well as a test pilot. The highlight of the book is Project Mercury, the early NASA effort that hurled Glenn 150 miles above the planet in a tiny capsule--"flying from one day into the next and back again." In less than five hours, Glenn observed three sunsets and sunrises. He also conducted a few basic experiments, such as "squeezing some applesauce from a toothpaste-like tube into my mouth to see if weightlessness interfered with swallowing. It didn't."

Upon his return to earth, Glenn made a few abortive runs for the Senate. He was finally elected in 1974 as a Democrat and served for 24 years. In 1984, he sought his party's presidential nomination, and it looked like he was the one candidate potentially capable of beating President Reagan. But he stumbled and had to quit. The final pages detail Glenn's 1998 mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery at the age of 77. Just as his journeys riveted the nation, Glenn's memoir will grip its readers. --John J. Miller ... Read more

Reviews (36)

4-0 out of 5 stars Wish I Had Stopped 100 Pages From The End
A great story and I am glad that I read it.However,my admiration for Glenn would have been far higher had I stopped a hundred or so pages from the end.Getting reacquainted with Glen as a young man, Marine fighter pilot and then astronaut was to see the very best.In addition to all his accomplishments his relationship with his wife was a great tribute to those left behind.

Glenn's story of becoming a Marine fighter pilot through sheer resolve was enlightening.His flying in the Pacific during and after WW2 was an interesting look at the era, as was the description of their flying in China when Stilwell was attempting to get the communists to live up to their agreements.Finally the Vietnam like escape from China by train with Glen and his fellow Marine pilots providing low air cover.

Too soon after the end of WW2 we were back in Korea and Glenn is in the front seat, flying both Marine ground attack aircraft and USAF Sabres.Again Glenn does his tour of duty with the Marines and then arranges to fly Sabres against the Migs.

Within a few years after Korea the Russians were overhead with Sputnik and the world changed again.Glenn's description of the initial testing of the astronauts adds some interesting insights.

Although the book was presumably written in its entirety after his return from space, the man changes with his election to the Senate.Perhaps the changes are even appearing in his post mortem on his campaigns.Most of the blame is shifted away from the leader.

Later as the book covers his years in the Senate the change continues.While he literally demanded that his fellow astronauts give up their road romances because they were both wrong and threatened the public's support of the program.However a few years after hanging out with Bill Clinton the book suddenly offers the standard Clintonian spin that what people do behind their bedroom doors is not public.What is even more amazing is that Glenn seems to gloss over his critical role in protecting Clinton from being removed from office after he was impeached.

Glenn does off the tidbit that while he and John McCain were deemed to not be involved with the Keating scandal, his fellow democrats would not acknowledge that because to release Glenn they would have to release McCain and then they would have only democrats ( Cranston et al) left.Having been advised that Keating was under criminal investigation Glenn ( unlike McCain) maintains a relationship and even hosts a private lunch for Keating in his office. All of this is covered in the book with a little too much self serving cover to earn the respect of the reader.

Glenn the Marine officer would have been outraged if the generals had summoned his career enlisted personnel and asked them why they were complaining about the performance of an airplane made by a friend.Yet Glenn sees none of the destructive impact of 5 senators demanding that a civil servant appear to explain why a major donor is being investigated.A sad transition.

Glenn blames his campaign organization for failing him in his run for the presidency after he was a leading contender among the democrats.If you can't run your own campaign staff how are you going to run the nation?

I agree with the prior writer that Glenn's return to space was a pure and simple reward by Clinton for his having taken the heat.A sad ending to an otherwise heroic life of great accomplishments.

Recommended but be prepared for a letdown at the end.

5-0 out of 5 stars A true pioneer of the space age..
After seeing "The Right Stuff" I became intrigued with the Mercury Seven astronauts and wanted to read everything I could about them and when I saw John Glenn's autobiography I immediately snatched it up and pored through the pages!What a great and exciting life John lived!Poring through the pages I hung on every word and lived his experiences vicariously as he described them...I can only imagine how he felt when he was picked to be one of the 7 Mercury astronauts...He was in a elite group that was beginning to embark on a major adventure into a new frontier...How exciting that must have been!John's book to me was better than the movie..He talks bout his childhood days and test pilot years and ends with a wonderful passage on flying back into space again at the ripe old age of 77..What an inspiring book!If you are looking for inspiration..pick this book up and read about ambition and hard work and focus ande see what all these things can do for your life!John...thanks for being a great role model!

3-0 out of 5 stars The Story of a Perfect Life?
Based on this book John Glenn never got out of line, never got in any serious trouble or caused anyone else to get into trouble, had a perfect wife and family who always supported him 100%, even if it meant his being away from home for long periods of time.He even goes to the extreme of discounting a story about his concern over his height exceeding the max requirement for space travel.I found many parts of this book enjoyable, but left feeling I had only been reading a whitewashed version purified for mass consumption.On slight hint at the "real" John Glenn may be revealed in his writing a letter to NASA in an effort to overturn the decision to have Alan Shepard and Guss Grissom fly in space before him.This book left me with many more questions about the real man.Showing more of his human, occassionally risking and failing side would have added much to my enjoyment.Unfortunately this was missing.

3-0 out of 5 stars Delightful biography, but short on space hardware
John Glenn became the first American in orbit when he circled the Earth three times aboard Friendship 7. The most senior of the original Mercury astronauts, he was trumpeted as a hero upon return, but left the space program shortly thereafter because NASA wouldn't give their famous spokesman a second, potentially disastrous flight. Not until almost thirty years later, that is, when Senator Glenn returned to space at the age of 77, amidst a roar of publicity that rivalled his first mission. In the meantime, he had embarked upon a political career that included a shot at the presidency. A rather distinct biography.

In "John Glenn: A Memoir", the Marine turned Astronaut turned Politician shares with the world his life story, which spans the better part of a century and saw aviation progress from biplanes to the Space Shuttle. Yet this is a deliberate and slow-moving book, written in earnest and matter-of-fact prose. It progresses in strictly chronological order, spends a great amount of nostalgic detail on Glenn's childhood - including mother's cooking and playpen stories -, then moves on to the Marine days flying planes in World War II and Korea, then to his test pilot career. Always one step at a time, one little story after the other.

The results are a mixed bag: while the drama-oriented readers will call it outright dull, others might find the leisurely pace quite immersive and captivating. At the least, it is refreshing to read an astronaut biography that does not suffer from tunnel vision. The space program is not as much as mentioned until about half-time, and even recounting his NASA days, Glenn focuses on the big picture - the political and ideological implications of the space race - rather than technical detail. While the accounts of his actual Mercury and Shuttle flights are vivid and gripping, on the whole there is nothing about the space program that could not be found in most other, specialised books. Not surprising, given that Glenn's astronaut career was illustrious but brief, and something that the die-hard space buffs should consider.

The part between Glenn's flights focuses on his political career, his friendship with the Kennedys, and law making as an Ohio Senator. There is more talk about his loved wife and family, and more emphasis on duty, country, values. In truth, it must be said that the only things arguably more all-American than John Glenn are baseball and apple pie; he constantly reflects on his beliefs and guidelines, and never seems to waver in his uncomplicated optimism and patriotism. More remarkably, it all seems genuine, too: no image polishing, that's just the way he is. Indeed, Glenn colours his omnipresent love of America with plenty of humour and palpable feeling, and comes across not as preachy, but entirely likeable.

The concept of such an awfully nice moralist seems strange in today's cynical times, and this is perhaps the most telling point of all: the text seems like a document from a different age. Like the photographs that come with it, showing Glenn's wedding ceremony in uniform, or piloting Corsairs in World War II, this tale is something out of our reach, something delightfully dated. And "John Glenn: A Memoir" sure is a delightful book. Readers looking for a remarkably rich and varied life story can hardly make a better choice. Space enthusiasts lusting for nuts and bolts might want to think twice.

4-0 out of 5 stars Critical Reflections
There have been many assessments of John Glenn since February 1962, but perhaps none so critically important as those he has made in his Memoir's. All of us have fallen short of fully living our values and maintaining our ethical standards as we move through a life filled with temptations; we are but mortal.While Glenn is certainly an American hero of the highest caliber, and one of my favorites, his shortcomings remain a puzzle to me.The paradox of John Glenn is found in the staunch moralistic tone of his life before his Senate career, and his stance after taking that oath of office.

His criticism of the moral behavior of his fellow Mercury astronauts in 1960 is in stark contrast of his support for a president who was equally as guilty some 40 years later.His support for a political agenda that represents a normalization of deviancy leaves me wondering if his professed Christianity is truly a "born again" commitment or simply cultural attribute that can be influenced by power.

Glenn agonizes over his "guilt by association" in the Keating affair and presents a rather weak defense.He states that one of his reasons for entering politics was to prove that good men can survive and triumph in an atmosphere where power corrupts.Yet he leaves himself open on several occasions to simply reinforce the notion.

Glenn reviews his life in a manner that I found interesting and informative.As an avid space historian, he filled in a few areas of his life and the early manned space program that were unknown to me.Of interest too, are the occasional factual errors that have crept into the book, perhaps because much of the final composition was probably done by his co-author, Nick Taylor (who, overall, did a great job).Gordon Cooper's flight did not terminate early because "his spacecraft lost orbital velocity" but went the full 22 orbits.And, Gus Grissom was not "the first person to fly in space three times".He would have been had he not been killed in the Apollo fire.That privilege belongs to Wally Schirra who was the only astronaut to fly Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo.

John Glenn accomplished more in his three careers (Marine, Astronaut, Senator) than most of us will do in any one lifetime.We pray that his legacy will truly be greater than three Migs, 137 orbits and 9,414 senate votes. ... Read more


104. Me (Random House Large Print)
by KATHARINE HEPBURN
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 067974245X
Catlog: Book (1992-11-24)
Publisher: Random House Large Print
Sales Rank: 169418
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Admired and beloved by movie audiences for over sixty years, four-time Academy Award-winner Katharine Hepburn is an American classic. Now Miss Hepburn breaks her long-kept silence about her private life in this absorbing and provocative memoir.

A NEW YORK TIMES Notable Book of the Year

A Book-of-the-Month-Club Main Selection


From the Paperback edition.
... Read more

Reviews (22)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.
This book is just like Katharine Hepburn herself. Uniquely funny, unconventional, different and beautiful. I found the last three chapters to be especially the one simply titled 'Love', about her unique relationship with Spencer Tracy. Any fan of Hepburn, or of Hollywood's golden era must read this book. It was amazing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Screwy people who don't like this book shouldn't speak....
I adored this book to no end and have read it about six times - I also own it. The reason that it seems so disconnected is because Kath is telling it just as she would speak it - it is not in true novel form, and as a writer myself, I think it holds up better this way. If you truly appreciate the grandeur of Katharine Houghton Hepburn, then you will love this book, for it sounds as if Kath was right there in the room, talking to you. So, for all of those who gave it a bad rap, I feel this was very ignorant on your part. Read this book!

1-0 out of 5 stars self-aborb
This is a egostict ramblimg, coherent only in the timeline of
relationship. Its a voyer,s delight, a canidate for National Enquirer publication. This is not edifiying reading---it promote self (as noted by the book title), is not good reading
and obcures the art of writing well. It may be a bestseller as
noted by the New York Times Book List but there are also best selling magazines next to the supermarket checkout stand.

5-0 out of 5 stars Loved it
I usually dislike non fiction, biographies and autobiographies but this book was so interesting and kept my attention like any fiction novel i usually ejoy. Wonderful woman and wonderful story.

2-0 out of 5 stars Kate remembered
Please dont write about her if you cant spell her name
-katharine ... Read more


105. The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (G K Hall Large Print Book Series)
by Simon Winchester
list price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0783885008
Catlog: Book (1999-04-01)
Publisher: G. K. Hall & Company
Sales Rank: 1023849
Average Customer Review: 3.81 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The Professor and the Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary--and literary history. The compilation of the OED, begun in 1857, was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.

 

... Read more

Reviews (344)

3-0 out of 5 stars Too little story, too much padding...
The title of this book, "The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary" is far more intriguing than the book itself. Once you get the main idea, that one of the most important contributors to the Oxford English Dictionary was an American living in a mad-house, there's not much more to tell. And yet, Simon Winchester goes on to tell it for another 200 or so pages.

The problem is that what sounds like a fascinating story really isn't. I mean, nothing much happens. Dr. W. C. Minor is delusional, murders a man, and is placed in a mental institution. Dr. Murray begins work on the Oxford Dictionary and makes a public request for volunteers to read through books and find examples of words. Dr. Minor responds to the advertisement from his cell, and is of great help.

Time passes. Eventually, both men die of old age.

End of story.

Simon Winchester tries to fill pages with baseless supposition, along the lines of "Perhaps it was this early experience of watching young maidens bathing in the river that would eventually lead Dr. Minor to the confused mental state that would, ultimately, land him in a mental hospital." After a while, though, one can't help thinking, it would have been nice if this book had an actual story behind it. "Perhaps Dr. Minor had an affair with the widow of the man he murdered. Although there is no evidence to suggest that anything of the kind ever occurred..."

What was interesting was seeing some of the early definitions of the words themselves, but that was a very small part of the book. Ultimately, "The Professor and the Madman" is a bit of fluff. There's enough information to make for a fascinating 5-page article, but it's extended and padded to fill a book.

Only for the very bored...

4-0 out of 5 stars interesting story
This is a marvelous book about the Professor, James Murray, the primary editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, and the Madman, Dr. William C. Minor, one of the Dictionary's most prolific contributors, despite his incarceration in an asylum for the criminally insane after committing a senseless murder provoked by his delusions. The book tells the stories of each of these protagonists as well as the making of the OED itself, and nicely wraps up all of the connections, even to the point of showing what happened to the murdered man's family (whose widow visited Minor regularly
for months).

3-0 out of 5 stars Quick read for philologists, historians, and others.
I like reading the occasional historical fact (rather than historical fiction) "novelette," and The Professor and the Madman was definitely easy to get through. One can learn much from books like this, particularly the way normal people lived their day-to-day lives in a certain time and place.

A few things I liked about this book:

1. One will assuredly learn a thing or two about the English language, in reading it. You will learn some obsolete words, the origin of some words, and just get a refresher of other, more common words. Each chapter begins with a dictionary entry of a particular word, some very normal words, some more exotic words.

2. The parallel lives of the two main characters are interesting to follow. One feels real emotions for both. There are a few shocking moments in the book, which stand out quite a bit in front of the otherwise fairly tame narrative.

3. I grew up with the Oxford English Dictionary, and I always wondered how they compiled all the words. It was great learning about how they did that.

4. The book covers an array of themes and topics, and a fairly diverse geography. Mental illness, civil war, sexual propriety, crime and punishment, one can learn a little bit about a lot of issues in the reading of Simon Winchester's book.

I wouldn't recommend the book to just anyone, though. It can be kind of slow, and sometimes one simply grows tired of bouncing back and forth between the two main characters. It is also fairly short; one sort of wishes for more detail on certain events. In some places, the book reads like a crime/detective novel from the 19th century, in others it is more like a biography. It sort of skips around from one style to the next, almost as if different parts were written at very different times by an author in very different states of mind. Overall, though, this book is a nice, quick read, a good plot, and you will learn a thing or two from it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Footnote to History
Simon Winchester has written a very unusual book about a very strange series of events during the last century and the dawn of this one. First, we have various literary authorities in England deciding to compile and edit a massive dictionary (eventually it became the Oxford English Dictionary), which took 70 years to finish and filled multiple volumes. Then we have the editor of the project for most of its life discovering that one of his most valuable contributors was in a lunatic asylum because he murdered someone. The story goes from there.

Winchester is a good writer, and he milks this story for everything it's worth. He spends a good deal of time talking about side issues, as is common with this sort of slice-of-life thing. He does a very good job with them, as far as I can tell. I'm pretty knowledgeable with regards to the American Civil War; the author must tell you of the Battle of the Wilderness to explain how the murderer went mad, and he does so skilfully. The writing of the OED and its contents are intelligently discussed and dissected, and the history of dictionaries themselves was fascinating. The other characters, namely the editor of the dictionary itself, James Murray, are interesting and well-drawn.

I enjoyed this book a great deal. It is short, but it's fascinating, and I would recommend it pretty much universally.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fun and Accessible
Being a dictionary enthusiast, especially of the OED, I was excited to come across this book. It reads quickly, and has a wealth of factual information and also some fun speculation. The author uses lots of words which are themselves fun to look up, but also has OED references printed right in. I suggest that any fan of the OED read this book. ... Read more


106. It Seemed Important At The Time: A Romance Memoir (Thorndike Press Large Print Biography Series)
by Gloria Vanderbilt
list price: $29.45
our price: $29.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786272457
Catlog: Book (2005-03-02)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 813252
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (9)

2-0 out of 5 stars Little Gloria, It Seems, Never Grew Up.
Little Gloria proved that it was not necessarily a "good life" and this is a 'tell-all' to beat all.Gloria Vanderbilt was the female equivalent to Eddie Fisher in BEEN THERE DONE THAT, only more open and vulgar with her descriptions of the sex involved.She knew exactly what she was doing.Eddie had a hard youth growing up in Philadelphia.She, on the other hand, was rolling in wealth, moving from one place to another.Sure, there was the custody battle described in LITTLE GLORIA, HAPPY AT LAST.But, was she ever happy?And she didn't exactly stay little.

She turned into a Don Juan with no scruples at any time.Most times, it's the men who 'use' women, but this memoir shows clearly that was the opposite for Ms. Vanderbilt (Cooper).

Peppered with sexy photos to match the braggart sex-kitten actions, she might be compared with Ann Margaret, or Elvis!In the family portrait, she looked like a Russian duchess with the four children in tow.She went from man to man indiscriminately looking for a father, as did Marily Monroe, she said.She lived the high life, that's for sure, but she was not happy inside.

She labels her mother as a lesbian.I disagree with her that same-sex couples should or could raise children.How could they possibly be termed as normal or set a good example, and children are taught by the "parents" the facts of life (which should not be perverted.)Gloria went to the extreme opposite of her mother, more promiscuous than most movie stars on the way to stardom via the bedroom activity.

Her strange ideas are not for everyday, average people.The rich do as they please.Even Truman Capote, a gay, with his cache of cocaine was exposed.She moved in a wild group and the men meant nothing to her more than mere sexual partners.She may have lived well, but she did not love anybody but "little Gloria."She has no morals.Has she no shame, a high school dropout, having all those affairs with the famous and intelligent men who should have known better.Some of those men are dead now and can't refute her accusations of bedding them.I ask, will Little Gloria ever be happy after living such a sordid life?

I do use her Vanderbilt hand lotion (not the perfume, as I am not sexy), and almost always people in Knoxville will ask, what are you wearing?As much as I like it, after reading this memoir of sex among the rich and famous, I will use it more sparingly.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Live, Love, Laugh, And Be Happy"
IT SEEMED IMPORTANT AT THE TIME: A ROMANCE MEMOIR by entertaining writer, Gloria Vanderbilt is a book you won't want to miss.

Going from the thought process to actually acting on impulse, was a thrilling journey to be sure.

I found Ms. Vanderbilt story unique and insightful.Parts of her story were touching with moments to cherish while others were, well...you get the picture, right?We're all only human as the saying goes.

I enjoyed this book a lot and am happy to recommend it to anyone who longs to slip into someone elses world for a few fun-filled hours.

(Recommended Reading!)

4-0 out of 5 stars Glamorous Biography
Here is some Hollywood history written by Gloria Vanderbilt. The book is a quick read, and the stories she tells about all her famous boyfriends like Howard Hughes, Marlon Brando, Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra are amazing.
I couldn't put this book down. I loved reading about the Glamorous and Romantic life Gloria Vanderbilt has lived.

4-0 out of 5 stars Quality writing
The cast of characters in this tell-all memoir (IT SEEMED IMPORTANT AT THE TIME) is staggering, including Howard Hughes and Frank Sinatra.The list goes on and on.But surprisingly enough, this little gem is well written.I was skeptical at first, seeing the Vanderbilt name on a book, but it's worth the effort.Normally, I'm one to stick to the memoir/fiction hybrid such as McCrae's BARK OF THE DOGWOOD or the novel DRY, but this one caught my attention.

5-0 out of 5 stars Musings from Gloria
I enjoyed reading this book. Parts of the book are factual and the rest of it is pure emotion, rich with the author's thoughts, observations and feelings about events in her life, sometimes happy, sometimes funny, sometimes sad. Nobody in life gets to pick the family they are born into. Regardless of her background, Gloria's book is about the struggle we all face, in trying to find meaning in this life with the means that we have and in making it with the best that we've got. Some parts of the book are written like thoughts going through her mind, and like all thoughts, they sometimes retrace their steps back to lead to different conclusions.

This is an endearing quick read. Thanks to the author for her honesty. ... Read more


107. A Different Drummer: My Thirty Years With Ronald Reagan
by Michael K. Deaver
list price: $25.00
our price: $16.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060185619
Catlog: Book (2001-05-01)
Publisher: HarperLargePrint
Sales Rank: 472920
Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A Warm, personal portrait of Ronald Reagan, A Different Drummer brims with recollections from a relationship that has spanned three decades.  A former aide and longtime family friend, Michael Deaver worked with the former chief executive for twenty consecutive years. Now he offers his memories of Ronald Reagan as governor, president, and friend.

Reagan remains a mystery even to biographers with total access.  But in A Different Drummer, Deaver writes not only of his dazzling highs but also shares the lows, particularly his own periods of falling out with the Reagans, which tested the strength of their friendship.  Finally, he shares a poignant look at Reagan today as he battles Alzheimer's disease.  This is Nancy Reagan's "finest hour," Deaver writes, a validation of the greatest love story he has ever known.  With anecdotes that are insightful, entertaining, intimate, and surprising, A Different Drummer sheds remarkable new light on an American icon admired by many and understood by few.

... Read more

Reviews (40)

5-0 out of 5 stars Reagan Remembered
I grew up with Ronald Reagan. He was my president. Although I was 11 when he was elected, I consider him to have been the first president that I heard, noticed, watched. The image of a father figure was obviously shared by millions of Americans, and I guess the day when I began looking on him as my president, was when Hinckley fired his .22 caliber. I had arrived home from school and was outside playing basketball with friends. My mother came out and told me, and I remember missing my bedtime that night, up watching the latest news. I prayed for Reagan, I watched him, listened to his radio addresses, wrote to him, pulled for him, admired him.
Deaver's book brings back the reasons we all loved President Reagan. He was different. He did not rely upon polls, he was constant, unflappable, strong. At a time when the vernacular included phrases like "Iron Curtain" and "Arms Race", he comforted and protected us, and single-handedly dismantled the biggest threat we faced. Deaver lets us glimpse what we already knew to be true. His stories, although new and unknown to me, validate why I called Reagan MY president. I was at the National Republican Convention in New Orleans in August 1988 when he gave his farewell speech to the faithful. I was right up front, and as a 19 year old, I remember crying upon realizing that he was leaving public life. This book will remind you, too why we loved him.

4-0 out of 5 stars Reagan. From a man who knew him well.
Few people ever really knew Ronald Reagan. He was a very private person. This fact led to Edmund Morris writing a semi-fictional biography of Reagan, because he just couldn't understand his psychology. Thankfully, longtime Reagan friend, Mike Deaver, decided to offer a personal memoir of his time with the ex-president.

Deaver goes way back. Back to California when no one thought Reagan could be elected governor. He spent a total of 20 years with Reagan the public figure. In those 20 Years, he understood the private Reagan and his devoted marriage to Nancy. Reagan didn't need anyone else but her. He liked and even loved others, but if they drifted in and out of his life he didn't fret. She filled his every void.

Deaver tells the story of a very involved president who read through stacks of position papers and briefings. It was Reagan's mother who told him that if he learned to love reading, he would never feel alone. The intellectuals have never understood Reagan. They have always been willing to dismiss his substance as play acting for the camera. But Reagan had the kind of vision that is rare for a leader. He saw the shining city on a hill long before the rest of us. He had the humility to think of himself as a regular guy. He felt as comfortable with laborers as he did with Prime Ministers. This was ultimately the reason he could connect with the American people.

After reading more than one account of the distant Ronald Reagan, I was very happy to read a telling that was reminiscent of the man I grew up with in my adolescent years. When Reagan spoke, I heard the voice of a calm experienced captain that was taking the ship to port. It was my misfortune, maybe, that I was too young to know how important he really was at the time. I remember the last public speech he gave in 1993, where his ad-lib humor was a great reminder of what's been missing in politics ever since. Michael Deaver helped me to remember the great man once more.

4-0 out of 5 stars Both comfortable and comforting
No review of this book would be complete without addressing the first point to be made by the author -- a description of what this book is not.

It is not an exhaustive biography, an apology for Reagan's policies, or a criticism of his opponents. It is simply an accounting of Mike Deaver's time with Ronald Wilson Reagan.

This is a comfortable book, because it is written with an ease and familiarity born of friendship. It is comforting, because it shows that behind the scenes and out of the spotlight, Ronald Reagan was as genuine as he appeared to be. His integrity and conviction was not an act.

Deaver could easily have used this book for self-promotion, but he wrote it in the same way he served Reagan -- with wholehearted committment to his friend and boss.

Reagan's person and policy has been, and will continue to be studied, criticized, and defended. Biographies and collections of works will tell much of the story. But none of them will offer such a simple glimpse into the public and private nature of the 40th President as does this recounting of memories shared by a loyal friend and advisor.

4-0 out of 5 stars In the wake of Ronnie's death, indispensable
After the massive disappointment of Edmund Morris' "Dutch", I thought I would give up on outside accounts of the Reagan legacy. Mike Deaver's book, however, brought me out of the disappointment of "Dutch" and in this week of mourning, has brought this reader many smiles. Let not the slimness of this volume dissuade you: Deaver, having been close to Reagan from before the Governorship of California, understands his subject in a way that completely eluded Morris' bloated opus and what emerges from these pages is a picture of an introverted extrovert. One sees a complex Reagan - but where "Dutch" seemingly gives up and fails in trying to understand the complexity, "Drummer" seems to draw a picture of a man who simply wanted to share his very personal life with Nancy - and respects him for it.

I also salute Deaver's work for its assessment of Reagan as bringing about the end of the Cold War, for the little-trumpeted Reagan reaction (or lack thereof) to the shooting down of Korean Air flight 007, thereby isolating the Soviets further. Hopefully, history will follow Deaver in marking this as the non-shot that saved the world from a nuclear winter.

I highly recommend buying this book now; it will become _the_ definitive Reagan assessment in the years to come.

3-0 out of 5 stars Working with the Gipper
Michael Deaver served as the White House Chief of Staff during most of the Reagan White House years. During that time, and during the previous decade, he came to know and love the man who served first as California governor and later as U.S. President during the 1980's, Mr. Ronald Reagan. In this book, he talks about his relationship with the former president, including how they first met, how they formed a friendship, and how their bond remained strong through Reagan's presidency and beyond.

Deaver first met Ronald Reagan in 1966 when he was about to run for the governorship of California. It was here that Deaver first got to know Reagan from a political standpoint. Before long, however, the friendship grew beyond politics and Deaver and Reagan became friends for life. They didn't always agree on everything, but they were still able to separate the disputes from the fact that they were still friends. Deaver points out that the Reagan he got to know personally was very different from the image that the public was used to. Reagan was popular with the people and was known for his good looks and sense of humor. He was also perceived as very outgoing, but Deaver indicates that this was not really the case at all. Ronald Reagan was actually rather shy and would prefer to talk with only one or two people at a party rather than work the crowd, like a more gregarious type of personality would do. These facts might surprise some readers who always assumed that Ronald Reagan was the life of the party in any social situation.

One thing about this book that makes it a little different from other political books is the fact that it keeps a positive attitude from beginning to end. Unlike other politically influenced books that devote a large number of pages to negative criticism and outright bashing of opponents, "A Different Drummer" remains optimistic. There is really nothing negative in this book, so don't read it if you are expecting to hear Deaver lash out at Reagan's many enemies or talk openly about Iran Contra or other scandals. It isn't that type of book at all. Deaver focuses on Ronald Reagan as a person, and he remains upbeat and optimistic throughout.

Deaver speaks very affectionately about Ronald Reagan, and this fact will turn some people off right away, particularly those who are liberal in their thinking and cannot handle hearing anything positive about Reagan or any other Republican. I admit that Deaver's words can go a little overboard, and they often overflow with excessive admiration. But before a potential reader writes this book off for political reasons, he or she should reconsider. It's true that the book is written about an important political figure, but it isn't really a political book, in the purest sense. It is really a personal book about one man's relationship with a man he admired to the extreme.

I didn't necessarily learn a lot more about Ronald Reagan when I read this book. What I learned instead was the power of friendship. Micheal Deaver has known Reagan for more than 30 years. He has been with the president during his highest achievements (like winning the governor's race and the two election victories for the White House) and during his lowest and most difficult personal crises (like his battle with Alzheimer's disease- a very touching part of the book). And through it all, Deaver has remained a friend. "A Different Drummer" is a nice tribute from Deaver to Reagan, showing how two men can remain loyal and steadfast to the very end. It's not the best book about Ronald Reagan as a whole, since it doesn't cover very much about the president's early life or achievements. But it's a good book about the relationship that formed between these two political allies and how the friendship blossomed and grew over the 30- year period that they worked together. It's full of charm and sincerity, and it makes for a good read regardless of your political affiliation. ... Read more


108. America's Mom: The Life, Lessons, and Legacy of Ann Landers (Thorndike Press Large Print Biography Series)
by Rick Kogan
list price: $30.95
our price: $30.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786262311
Catlog: Book (2004-03-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 1584680
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Book Description

For two generations of Americans, reading Ann Landers's daily column was as important as eating breakfast and as natural as brushing their teeth. For nearly fifty years an entire nation turned to this quick-witted, worldly-wise counselor for advice on everything from proper dinner etiquette to sex, yet few actually knew the real woman behind the byline.

Award–winning journalist Rick Kogan was Ann Landers's last editor and close friend, and in America's Mom he paints an intimate, affectionate, knowing, and deeply honest portrait of a remarkable woman whose real life story rivaled anything that appeared in the millions of letters she received and responded to during her long career.

Iowa-born Eppie Lederer was first hired by the Chicago Sun-Times to take over the daily advice column in 1955 -- and over the next half-century she helped shape the nation's social and sexual landscape. Already a fiercely independent housewife and political activist, she reinvented herself as "Ann Landers," went on to become America's beloved "surrogate mother," and was one of the country's most influential women. The friend and confidante of celebrities, journalists, and politicians, she composed columns that touched the lives of so many -- even as her own life was shaken by dramatic, often heartbreaking events.

Written with the enthusiastic support and coop-eration of Ann Landers's colleagues, admirers, and friends, Kogan's unforgettable memoir is a fascinating, full-bodied account of the triumphs, the wisdom, the courage, and the many trials of one of the twentieth century's most enduring icons -- her painful lifelong feud with her identical twin sister, "Dear Abby"; her outspokenness and stubborn refusal to shy away from even the most controversial topics; and the tragic breakup of her own thirty-six-year marriage when her husband abandoned her for another woman, an event that she bravely and openly shared with her millions of sympathetic fans. Here, too, is a wealth of touching, enlightening, and remarkable true stories shared by people from all walks of life who were profoundly affected by the good sense and guidance of Ann Landers. America's Mom is a moving tribute to a singular woman who has earned an eternal place in our culture . . . and our hearts.

... Read more

109. Tis Herself (Thorndike Press Large Print Biography Series)
by Maureen O'Hara, John Nicoletti
list price: $29.45
our price: $29.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786264810
Catlog: Book (2004-05-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 156611
Average Customer Review: 4.17 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"You are about to read the tale of the toughest Irish lass who ever took on Hollywood and became a major leading lady....In a career that has lasted more than sixty years, I have acted, punched, swashbuckled, and shot my way through an absurdly masculine profession....As a woman, I'm proud to say that I stood toe-to-toe with the best of them and made my mark on my own terms. I'm Maureen O'Hara and this is my life story."

-- From Chapter One of 'Tis Herself


In language that is blunt, straightforward, and totally lacking in artifice, Maureen O'Hara, one of the greatest and most enduring stars of Hollywood's "Golden Era," for the first time tells the story of how she succeeded in the world's most competitive business.

Known for her remarkable beauty and her fiery screen persona, Maureen O'Hara came to Hollywood when she was still a teenager, taken there by her mentor, the great actor Charles Laughton. Almost immediately she clashed with the men who ran the movie business -- the moguls who treated actors like chattel, the directors who viewed every actress as a potential bedmate.

Determined to hold her own and to remain true to herself, she fought for roles that she wanted and resisted the advances of some of Hollywood's most powerful and attractive men. It was in the great director John Ford that she first found someone willing to give her a chance to prove herself as an important actress. Beginning with the Academy Award-winning How Green Was My Valley, she went on to make five films with Ford and through him first met the great John Wayne, with whom she also made five films.

In O'Hara, Ford had found his ideal Irish heroine, a role that achieved its greatest realization in The Quiet Man. And in O'Hara, John Wayne found his ideal leading lady, for she was perhaps the only actress who could hold her own when on screen with "The Duke." Ford, however, was not without his quirks, and his relationship with his favorite actress became more and more complex and ultimately deeply troubled. The on-screen relationship between Wayne and O'Hara, on the other hand, was transformed into a close friendship built on mutual respect, creating a bond that endured until his death.

Writing with complete frankness, O'Hara talks for the first time about these remarkable men, about their great strengths and their very human failings. She writes as well about many of the other actors and actresses -- Lucille Ball, Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn, John Candy, Natalie Wood, to name a few -- with whom she worked, but ultimately it is about herself that she is most revealing. With great candor and a mixture of pride and regret, she reflects on just how this young girl from Ireland made it to America and onto movie screens all around the world. There were missteps, of course -- a troubled and deeply destructive marriage, a willingness to trust too readily in others -- but there were triumphs and great happiness as well, including her marriage to the aviation pioneer Brigadier General Charles F. Blair, who tragically died in a mysterious plane crash ten years after their marriage.

Throughout, 'Tis Herself is informed by the warmth and charm and intelligence that defined Maureen O'Hara's performances in some sixty films, from The Hunchback of Notre Dame to Miracle on 34th Street to The Parent Trap to McLintock! to Only the Lonely. 'Tis Herself is Maureen O'Hara's story as only she can tell it, the tale of an Irish lass who believed in herself with the strength and determination to make her own dreams come true. ... Read more

Reviews (24)

5-0 out of 5 stars The person behind The Queen of Technicolor.
For over 50 years i've wondered about the person behind the character's brought to the screen,in almost 60 motion pictures, by that most underrated actress in hollywood - MAUREEN O'HARA - Her own story brillantly brougth to life in "tis Herself" has the makings of an original story for a scriptwriter to turn into a blockbuster movie.

It's a book that i couldn't put down once i had started reading it, ms o'hara deals honestly about her upbringing in a warm Catholic Irish family, her love of her family, her career ambitions, her foolish young marriages -one an alcohlic- the public scandals and movie roles that she lost.

We are given an intimate insight into some of the most inportant co-workers that she worked with - her mentor charles laughton, her tormentor - john ford, friends/costars like john wayne, jimmy stewart, tyrone power, john payne, henry fonda, rex harrison, the ford acting company and a wonderful story about marilyn monroe.

Sometimes ms o'hara suffered in her career because of her principles and moral standards, such as her fight with walt disney over her wages and star billing in "the parent trap"
the artistic differences, between her and the director of her only broadway show "Christine"

The reader is given an insight into all her co-stars and anecdotes about the making of all her movies after her first meeting with charles laughton at aged 17. the successes like hunchback of notra dam, how green was my valley,miracle on 34th st, the quiet man and the thin grey line, as well as the stinkeroos - they met in arentina, never to love,father was a fullback and a womens story.

You can feel the happiness that her love and marriage to Brig Gen charlie blair brought her, and her heartbreak following his death in an seaplane accident, under intriguing circumstances.

I found it the best book of it's genre that i have ever read, and i recommend it wholeheartedly.

5-0 out of 5 stars delightfully surprised ...
I hate biographies, self-penned or done by another author, so I wandered into this book with a jaded belief that it was going to be yet another vehicle of self-aggrandizement by a star.

However, I was delightfully surprised at how well O'Hara and her co-author spun the story of the Irish lass who became one of Hollywood's leading ladies. The book is written in a simple, straight-forward manner that's easy to read, thus becoming an addictive tale to follow ...

She describes her relationships with people like John Ford and John Wayne in a manner that lets the reader experience for him- or herself why O'Hara felt so strongly about these folks, always (I thought) trying to show the very human side of these larger-than-life Hollywood movers and shakers.

I've always admired the strength of character Ms. O'Hara showed in her movie roles; now I can add my admiration for her wonderful sense of crafting a very personal story in a captivating manner.

This book is definitely one to add to my personal collection.

4-0 out of 5 stars 'Tis herself" rings true!
I just finished reading Maureen O'Hara's autobiography and enjoyed it. It had a ring of truth throughout and without flinching. The "gossip" it contained regarding old Hollywood and other stars, I found to be truthful and not acerbic.
I think that anyone who has ever watched an old performance of Maureen's would get a good idea of what was going on behind the scenes by reading this book. Her descriptions of the movie business and day to day trials she endured in a time when women were, well, little more than figureheads gives us insight in how far we have come as women and yet how far we have to go.
I found Maureen's story of her 2 unhappy marriages, one latin lover and finally a happy but brief marriage to be very honest. It also is a parallel of the times she lived in and the system she was part of.
Her story also gives us insight on some of the silver screen greatest performers and helps us understand them as real people; not just larger than life characters on the screen.
I would recommend this book to others who are interested in this period of movie history and in learning more about a very interesting woman.

3-0 out of 5 stars What to make of Her(self)?
Having just finished this book, as stated above, I'm not quite sure what to make of Maureen O'Hara. While the book is entertaining, I do have to agree with some of the other reviewers who have posted about the strong streak of paranoia in Ms. O'Hara's character. It causes her to take a lot of cheap shots at various people (famous and non) who are no longer around to defend themselves.

Of course no one gets her Irish dander up like John Ford and Husband #2. But this of course begs the question--left unanswered in the book--why did she stay involved (professionally or personally) with these two men if they were such monsters? She blames John Ford for a host of double-crosses and sabotage, but with very little proof to back them up.
(Frankly, she blames him for so much that near the end, I half expected her to blame him for the fall of the Roman Empire, the Bay of Pigs and 9/11.) But, in the end, I also can't see why she would make all this up.

That said, I think the quality of this book is someplace between the five-reviews posted here and the scathing ones also posted. Say what you want about her but she's still here, in one piece and without excess baggage. O'Hara never ended up in AA, at Betty Ford or as the centerpiece of a scandal or public meltdown. So, in that regard, yes, she is one tough Irish broad.

5-0 out of 5 stars very good book
Maureen O'hara has written a very wonderful auto-biography on her life. It's very interesting, and witty. Also honest and down to earth. It isn't trashy at al, but sincire and doesn't bash any other celebrities. It's very open and has some great photogrpahs of her. A big selection of them through the years. Many color photos as well. She talks a lot about John Wayne in it to wish is nice, and clears up that they were not lovers, but good true friends a friendship that never ended. It's well worth reading, and one of the best biogrpahies I have read.
In it she shows her love for acting and the sweet person that she is. ... Read more


110. The Boys of Pointe du Hoc LP : Ronald Reagan, D-Day, and the U.S. Army 2nd Ranger Battalion
by Douglas Brinkley
list price: $22.95
our price: $15.61
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060759348
Catlog: Book (2005-05-31)
Publisher: HarperLargePrint
Sales Rank: 630113
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Book Description

"These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war." —Ronald Reagan, June 6, 1984, Normandy, France

Acclaimed historian and author of the "New York Times" bestselling Tour of Duty Douglas Brinkley tells the riveting account of the brave U.S. Army Rangers who stormed the coast of Normandy on D-Day and the President, forty years later, who paid them homage.

The importance of Pointe du Hoc to Allied planners like General Dwight Eisenhower cannot be overstated. The heavy U.S. and British warships poised in the English Channel had eighteen targets on their bombardment list for D-Day morning. The 100-foot promontory known as Pointe du Hoc -- where six big German guns were ensconced -- was number one. General Omar Bradley, in fact, called knocking out the Nazi defenses at the Pointe the toughest of any task assigned on June 6, 1944. Under the bulldoggish command of Colonel James E. Rudder of Texas, who is profiled here, these elite forces "Rudder's Rangers" -- took control of the fortified cliff. The liberation of Europe was under way.

Based upon recently released documents from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the Eisenhower Center, Texas A & M University, and the U.S. Army Military History Institute, The Boys of Pointe du Hoc is the first in-depth, anecdotal remembrance of these fearless Army Rangers. With brilliant deftness, Brinkley moves between two events four decades apart to tell the dual story of the making of Reagan's two uplifting 1984 speeches, considered by many to be among the best orations the Great Communicator ever gave, and the actual heroic event, which was indelibly captured as well in the opening scenes of Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan". Just as compellingly, Brinkley tells the story of how Lisa Zanatta Henn, the daughter of a D-Day veteran, forged a special friendship with President Reagan that changed public perceptions of World War II veterans forever. Two White House speechwriters -- Peggy Noonan and Tony Dolan -- emerge in the narrative as the master scribes whose ethereal prose helped Reagan become the spokesperson for the entire World War II generation. ... Read more


111. The Plague and I (Thorndike Press Large Print Paperback Series)
by Betty Bard MacDonald
list price: $23.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0783891067
Catlog: Book (2000-08-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 775877
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

You know how sometimes friendship blossoms in the Þrst few moments of meeting? “Something clicked,” we say. Well, that’s what discovering Betty MacDonald was like for me: I happened to read a couple of pages of one of her books and — click — knew right away that here was a vivacious writer whose friendly, funny, and Þery company I was really going to enjoy. Although MacDonald’s Þrst and most popular book, The Egg and I, has remained in print since its original publication, her three other volumes have been unavailable for decades. The Plague and I recounts MacDonald’s experiences in a Seattle sanitarium, where the author spent almost a year (1938-39) battling tuberculosis. The White Plague was no laughing matter, but MacDonald nonetheless makes a sprightly tale of her brush with something deadly. Anybody Can Do Anything is a high-spirited, hilarious celebration of how “the warmth and loyalty and laughter of a big family” brightened their weathering of The Great Depression. In Onions in the Stew, MacDonald is in unbuttonedly frolicsome form as she describes how, with husband and daughters, she set to work making a life on a rough-and-tumble island in Puget Sound, a ferry-ride from Seattle. ... Read more

Reviews (20)

4-0 out of 5 stars Christmas celebrations in the San
I read this book long ago, have forgotten a lot of it, but just about every December I find myself singing "Deck the Halls in Old Crepe Paper, fa la la" etc. Used to confuse my kids no end.For those who haven't read it yet, look for the scenes of holiday celebrations in the old TB sanitaruims-- sad & funny.

5-0 out of 5 stars A funny look at a serious situation.
This book is filled with an off beat sence of humor. It isn't the slap you in the face kind of humor but rather the kind of humor that hits you later. For example, I found myself smilingat something I read earlier in the day while cooking dinner. At the end of this book you feel like you know each of the people personally. I wanted a follow up to find out what happened to each person. It's that good.

Basically this book is about Betty MacDonalds stay in a sanitorium while she had TB. She can take such a serious topic that could be pretty morose and turn it into something interesting and funny.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Personal Reflection
Betty McDonald was my husbands's aunt - her sister DeDe mentioned in this book was my beloved mother-in-law. Although I never knew Betty, I had the priviledge of knowing my mother-in-law for 20 some years. The entire Bard family was a strong group with character like none other. My children had the priviledge of growing up listening to so many other "Bard Family stories" told by DeDe, their grandmother. It's too bad we don't have that grit, humor and determination that Betty and the rest of her family had. Those characteristics would help so many of us get through the tough times we face today. She was a great author and a classy lady. So glad these books have come back into print.

5-0 out of 5 stars fun at the sanatarium!
you wouldn't think that a stay in a tb hospital could be a subject for a funny book; at least not until you read betty macdonald's "the plague & i". she is the author of the wonderful classics, "the egg& i", "anybody can do anything", "onions in thestew", and the children's series, mrs. piggle-wiggle. this particularbook brings her light hearted outlook to what could have been a verystressful time in her life. through betty's eyes the reader is invited tolook at a serious subject with humor and wit. i'd recommend this to anyreader of erma bombeck or jean kerr.

5-0 out of 5 stars First read this book as apatient in a TB hospital.
When I was 15, I acquired TB and was hospitalized for 7 months.What a grim sentence for a teenager.A library assistant gave this book to me and it began my long love affair with Betty MacDonald's books.This is afavorite of mine.Her descriptions of the personnel and patients in thesanitorium are hilarious.Wit and a talent for the language makes eachof MacDonald's books a treasure to be read over and over. ... Read more


112. The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology (Wheeler Hardcover)
by Simon Winchester
list price: $29.95
our price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1587241536
Catlog: Book (2002-01-01)
Publisher: Wheeler Publishing
Sales Rank: 254049
Average Customer Review: 3.58 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

From the author of the bestselling The Professor and the Madman comes the fascinating story of the father of modern geology

In 1793, William Smith, the orphan son of a village blacksmith, made a startling discovery that was to turn the science of geology on its head. While surveying the route for a canal near Bath, he noticed that the fossils found in one layer of the rocks he was excavating were very different from those found in another. And out of that realization came an epiphany: that by following these fossils one could trace layers of rocks as they dipped, rose and fell -- clear across England and clear across the world.

Obsessed with creating a map that would showcase his discovery, Smith spent the next twenty years traveling England alone, studying rock outcroppings and gathering information. In 1815 he published a hand-painted map more than eight feet tall and six feet wide. But four years later, swindled out of his profits, Smith ended up in debtors' prison. His wife went mad. He lived as a homeless man for ten long years.

Eventually a kindly aristocrat discovered him; Smith, the quiet genius and 'father of geology' was brought back to London and showered with the honors that he rightly deserved. Here now is his astounding story.

... Read more

Reviews (76)

3-0 out of 5 stars A review of the book about the map that changed the world
Simon Winchester, the author of the deservedly best-selling *The Professor and the Madman*, writes in *The Map that Changed the World* about William Smith, who was dubbed in 1831--a bit belatedly--The Father of English Geology by the then president of the Geological Society of London. Smith's great work was an enormous--some 8 x 6 feet--geological map of England, the data for which Smith had spent a considerable part of his lifetime collecting single-handedly. The map, which delineates in splendid color the various strata of rock that underlie England, was the first of its kind. Smith himself was a maverick intellect for his understanding of both the implications of the strata for the history of the Earth and the importance to the rocks' identification of the fossils that could be collected from them.

Smith also had an interesting personal history in that his great efforts for science were so unremunerative that he landed for some eleven weeks at the age of fifty in one of London's great debtors' prisons. Winchester makes much of this great irony in his book, that a monumental figure should be so ill-treated and so long unrespected during his lifetime.

For all Smith's merits as a subject, however, Winchester's narrative is a bit of a slog. His emphasis is very often on the science of geology rather than the personality of Smith. This is reasonable enough given the subject matter of the book, but I, at least, frequently found the author's discussion difficult to follow. Winchester may, as a one-time student of geology at Oxford, have had too high an opinion of his layman readers' capacities. (Or I, of course, may not have been the proper audience for the book.) For those who are not geologically inclined, there may be more discussion of strata, however, than is palatable: "Below the 300 feet of chalk, Smith declaimed before the others, were first 70 feet of sand. Then 30 feet of clay. Then 30 more feet of clay and stone. And 15 feet of clay. Then 10 feet of the first of named rocks, forest marble. And 60 feet of freestone." And so on.

Winchester's narrative does become more interesting toward the book's end, when Smith has, finally, published his map and he is imprisoned for debt--the great dramatic moment toward which the book has been leading. But Smith's stay in the King's Bench Prison is itself anticlimactic, because while Winchester alludes to its "horrors" earlier on, he finally describes debtors' prison as a sort of country club, where the indebted middle-class pass their time playing cards or bowling and drinking beer. Trying and embittering it may have been to be locked away while his possessions were riffled through and sold off, but it was evidently not horrific.

Winchester's writing is at its most charming--and he does write charmingly--in the most personal section of the book, when he tells the story of his discovery at the age of six of an ammonite fossil. He and his fellow convent boys were led by the sisters of the Blessed Order of the Visitation on a miles-long walk to the sea, an expedition they undertook once a week. Winchester's account of the boys' riotous plunge into the sea shows just how nicely he can turn a phrase:

"Up here there always seemed to be a cool onshore breeze blowing up and over the summit. It was tangy with salt and seaweed, and the way it cooled the perspiration was so blessed a feeling that we would race downhill into it with wing-wide arms, and it would muss our hair and tear at our uniform caps, and we would fly down toward the beach and to the surging Channel waves that chewed back and forth across the pebbles and the sand.

"I seem to remember that by this point in the weekly expedition the dozen or so of us--all called by numbers, since the convent's peculiar regime forbade the use of names; I was simply 46--were well beyond caring what the nuns might think: The ocean was by now far too magnetic a temptation. Once in a while we might glance back at them as they stood, black and hooded like carrion crows, fingering their rosaries and muttering prayers or imprecations--but if they disapproved of us tearing off our gray uniforms and plunging headlong into the surf, so what? This was summer, here was the sea, and we were schoolboys--a combination of forces that even these storm troopers of the Blessed Visitation could not overwhelm."

Perhaps Winchester will one day expand on this passage with further autobiographical fare.

4-0 out of 5 stars Geologist's Dream - Readers Beware
"The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology," by Simon Winchester, proved to be a bit of a disappointment. It's a wonderful book, and I'm sure for those who make their life in geology it's an excellent read, but for me it was a let down.

The problem may be that Winchester is too good a writer, or too accurate a biographer, to put down any details of which he's not 100% certain. Add to that the fact that the source materials focus on William Smith's professional work almost to the exclusion of any personal detail, and you have what should be a compelling personal journey that winds up reading more like a geology text in too many chapters.

Smith's place in history was assured by his 1815 publication of a map of England showing the geological strata and graphically demonstrating his theories that one could tell the age of the rocks from examining the fossils found within. This was radical stuff in 1815, and the work that led to this map took Smith some 30 years. Along the way he picked up a wife, who was possibly crazy, and adopted a nephew, who became his assistant, had business and financial troubles, which led to his being held in debtor's prison, and had a long running class-based feud with England's scientific establishment, which led to his works not being properly recognized for many years after their publication.

Unfortunately, only the last aspect of Smith's life is covered in any detail because that's all he wrote about in his own journal, or is covered in other source material. About the wife we're told that she was a burden to him, often sick, probably crazy, and possibly even a nymphomaniac. We're told all that, but we're never given examples, or are told how Smith felt about her. Did he love her anyway? Did they ever try to have children of their own? Did she embarrass him publicly? We don't know. About the nephew we're told that Smith took over his care when his sister and brother-in-law died, and that he became his assistant, but we're told nothing of their personal relationship. Was their's a close, familial relationship, or only one of master or mentor to apprentice? We don't know. And such is the frustration with the book (mine, at least).

What's left is endless descriptions of the various layers of the earth's crust, and how Smith could tell if an outcropping belonged to the Jurassic or Cretaceous periods.

I picked up this book because I loved Winchester's previous "The Professor and the Madman" so much. That's a book that's rich in personal detail, and is as important and fascinating in the descriptions of the lives of the subjects as it is in the descriptions of their professional works. "The Map that Changed the World" is likely stunning for students of geology, but may bore beyond belief the reader who doesn't care or know about item one of earth science.

So - In the end, I suppose a mixed review. If you get this joke (and think it's funny): "Subduction leads to orogeny" - or, if you have a bumper sticker that says "Stop Plate Tectonics" - Then this is a five star book that you will love every page of. If you don't even care to look up any of those words, then this is a three star book you should avoid. Which averages out to four stars: An occasionally fascinating and well-written book that is often dry and disappointing.

2-0 out of 5 stars Deadly dull
I'm sorry, but not even Simon Winchester's earnest enthusiasm and lyrical prose can save this tale. It's just too dull. I got through about halfway, and couldn't finish.

Winchester is a glorious writer in his twin histories of the Oxford English Dictionary. But here his subject is just too obscure and trivial, and try as he might, Winchester can't make it seem interesting.

2-0 out of 5 stars Fairly interesting story swamped by dreadful writing
It's a matter of taste, but I'm mystified by people who find Winchester's writing "charming." The author's cardinal rule seems to be: "When in doubt, slather on another thick coat of adjectives, adverbs, and clich├ęs." This kind of prose is too politely described as turgid, florid, and repetitive.
I wouldn't normally review a book after reading 1/4 of it, but I feel about this one the way I do after watching 20 minutes of a movie, and the direction, acting, and story are already tired and weak. It's usually a waste of time to stick it out on the off chance of an improvement.
Given that, I can't comment on whether the underlying story will come close to living up to its grandiose title, but I can say that I have a hard time trusting an author on the big picture once I've seen him get the details wrong in areas that I am intimately familiar with (e.g. coal mining in this case).
As several other readers suggested, John McPhee is an incomparably better writer and researcher, on geology or any other topic he cares to tackle.

1-0 out of 5 stars pass on this title
I had many hours of flying ahead of me and this was the wrong book to have taken. The fact that it was the only book I had gave me great incentive to like it. I didn't. I left it on the plane for someone more desperate than myself. ... Read more


113. Vernon Can Read!: A Memoir (Thorndike Large Print Biography Series)
by Vernon E., Jr Jordan, Annette Gordon-Reed
list price: $29.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786241004
Catlog: Book (2002-05-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 1185626
Average Customer Review: 3.88 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

From the civil rights revolution to the halls of power, the life story of a larger-than-life American leader.

As a student in Atlanta, Vernon Jordan had a summer job driving a white banker around town. During the man's afternoon naps, Jordan passed the time reading books, a fact that astounded his boss. "Vernon can read!" the man exclaimed to his relatives. Nearly fifty years later, Vernon Jordan, long-time civil rights leader, adviser and close friend to presidents and business leaders, and one of the most charismatic figures in America, has written an unforgettable book about his life and times. It is a story that encompasses the sweeping struggles, changes, and dangers of black life during the civil rights revolution.

After attending a predominantly white college in the midwest and graduating from Howard University Law School, Jordan became involved in the civil rights movement. He led the voter education project to register black voters in the South, and was president of the National Urban League, one of the great civil rights organizations of the era, where he was instrumental in integrating American businesses and providing economic and social support to the expanding black middle class. He survived a white racist's assassination attempt and later became a pillar of America's legal, corporate, and political worlds.

But Jordan's life was shaped in his early years, and this book is also a moving testament to the family whose support and courage provided the framework for his achievements. Vernon Can Read! is a remarkable memoir of a life of courage, pride, sacrifice, style and accomplishment. ... Read more

Reviews (17)

2-0 out of 5 stars But Vernon Can't Write ( A Biography)
At one point Vernon reflects on a gathering of contemporaries during the 1970s. Asked to speak openly about himself and his emotions during a gathering (Author quips~ in a very seventies fashion) Vernon got so fed up at the gathering and being asked to open up to others that he said "This isn't going to happen" got up and left. And I think the same mentality carried oven when Vernon Can Read was written. Mr Jordan never had the propensity to open up and let the reader feel emotionally involved in this book, and in his life. As we watched him hop job to job and talk in acronyms(for entirely too long), we got a very two dimensional character, as if we were being led on a slide show of Vernon's life. He comes off as being brash, self-important and rude in some spots, but the reader never got to appreciate his rudeness or infact to really get to know him. His reputation led me to read the book, but this was also the downfall of Vernon Can Read, the author tried to uphold his reputation while witholding frankness and vulnerability. In the end I was left clamoring for the guy who got drunk at Katherine Graham's house and was belting out tunes with Clinton (picture in the Book), but instead I got a lawyer showing slides of his life.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book should be in every African American's home
I listened to the unabridged audio cassette version of Vernon Can Read! This is a wonderful book. It has many dates and events in African American history of which Mr. Jordan contributed to, experienced and/or witnessed. These events are not only significant in the life of Mr. Jordan but also in the history of African Americans. The book is well written and easy to read and/or listen to. I told my five year old son about the experience of young Vernon Jordan and Mr. Maddock. It was inspiring to my son and we often listen to that portion of the tape while driving home from school. Mr. Jordan wanted the book to inspire his children and grandchildren and I suspect that it has. The book has also inspired my son. I highly recommend this book.

2-0 out of 5 stars We need the Unauthorized Biography.
This book is an unfortunate piece of near puffery: much form, much superficiality, little substance. But what does one expect from a Power Broker? Truth or Dare?

In keeping with the unwritten Power Broker Creed, Mr.Jordan reveals very little about the inside mechanations that made him who he is (as opposed to who he was). That is to say, the book speaks volumes about those life experiences that made Vernon Jordan the moderate civil rights leader he was years ago, but says exactly nothing about the transition from that leadership role, to the man who had the president's ear (not to mention the man who kept his secrets)and the ear of the REAL powerful people in this global econonmy: the corporate mavens for whom Vernon was (is?) paid handsomely to dish out advice and counsel to.

We never hear in any detail about how Jordan quietly but persistently accumulated the power he achieved and, indeed, what motivated him in this pursuit. And no, I was not interested in any Monica dirt: Monica and the whole presidential thing, was (and is) beside the point when it comes to a rigorous Jordan analysis. That whole episode merely served as a template (and not a particularly good one) for the kind of back scratchery at high level that Jordan has been doing for years.

But then again, what does one expect? People like Jordan (and mind you, I am a big fan of his)live by the aforementioned unspoken creed: power is best accumulated and exercised quietly. Thus, one does not reveal the secrets of the kingdom to just any average reader (by the way Vernon, what really does go on at those Bildeberg confrences?).

We will not get the whole unexpurgated version of Jordan's life until some biographer decides to swim against currents and put one together.

Those of us interested in reading something much more telling than Jordan's superficial telling of the story of his life will have to wait. Just as we similarly anxiously awaited biographical treatments of other quiet power brokers in the Clark Clifford, Tommy "the cork" mode (the wait is soon over for those of us interested in Tommy the cork and, thanks to the same author, was over several years ago for a good analysis of Clifford's life. CLifford's own biography, Counsel to the President, left much to be desired, too).

As a high school to college level autobiographical treatment of the life of an important figure in post-world war II america, Vernon Can Read suffices. As anything deeper, it does not.

Vernon can certainly Read, but what Vernon wrote certainly leaves alot to be desired.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Frustrating
This book is both interesting and frustrating. It is interesting because of the information it gives about life for African Americans in Georgia prior to the end of Jim Crow. And for the information Jordan provides about starting out practicing law in Georgia with attorney Donald Hollowell.

After that it becomes frustrating because of all it leaves out. And once you read interviews with Vernon Jordan about why he wrote "Vernon Can Read," you understand something about his character. It appears that the sole reason he wrote the book is because so many Caucasians had never heard of him prior to the election of Bill Clinton as president (and the Monica Lewinsky scandal), and he wanted to let them know he had an entire career history before Clinton was even heard of...

2-0 out of 5 stars Informative, but without passion
Vernon Jordan was passionate about his work. Unfortunately, none of that passion is conveyed to the reader. Simply stating his accomplishments, interspersed with his exposure to the "Who's Who" of the civil rights movement, and a sprinkling of anecdotes doesn't convey the depth of the man. Although the book is informative, it lacks depth and leaves us wondering who Vernon Jordan really is. ... Read more


114. Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay (Thorndike Biography)
by Nancy Milford
list price: $30.95
our price: $30.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786239654
Catlog: Book (2002-03-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 1169285
Average Customer Review: 4.07 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Thomas Hardy once said that America had two great attractions: the skyscraper and the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay. The most famous poet of the Jazz Age, Millay captivated the nation: She smoked in public, took many lovers (men and women, single and married), flouted convention sensationally, and became the embodiment of the New Woman.

Thirty years after her landmark biography of Zelda Fitzgerald, Nancy Milford returns with an iconic portrait of this passionate, fearless woman who obsessed America even as she tormented herself. Chosen by USA Today as one of the top ten books of the year, Savage Beauty is a triumph in the art of biography. Millay was an American original—one of those rare characters, like Sylvia Plath and Ernest Hemingway, whose lives were even more dramatic than their art.
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Reviews (42)

5-0 out of 5 stars A book as intoxicating as its subject
A phenomenon when she burst onto the literary scene in the Twenties, Edna Millay, I believe, would herself be pleased with this phenomenal biography. I discovered Millay's poetry when I was in high school in Kansas in the Fifties, the Beatnik era, but in Kansas, I certainly knew no Beatniks. Millay became my muse, the poetic string connecting me to another world beyond the endless fields of corn and wheat. I visited her home in Greenwich Village, read all of her poetry, and can still quote long passages from memory.
Savage Beauty, a large book, does ample justice to the large personality of Millay, chronicling her life and lifestyle, both of which were 'unconventional,' in every sense of the word. Such was the impact of this genius, this 'force of nature,' that she willfully created her persona, in the process lifting herself and her dependent family out of poverty and onto the front pages.
The intensity of her poetic works is mirrored in the intensity with which she lived her life. Her short signature poem 'I burn my candle at both ends; it will not last the night. But ah my foes and oh my friends, it gives a lovely light' became a slogan for an era - and even more, a definition of her own life, at the end of which she did, indeed, flame out in an excess of living.

3-0 out of 5 stars Renascence woman
"Renascence" has always been one of my favorite poems. Did you know Millay wrote it when she was only twenty? Milford includes other interesting little tidbits, as well as a detailed analysis of the woman who burned her candle at both ends. Yes, she died young, a drug addict and an alcoholic. Milford also includes her affairs with men and women, her problems with money, and her health problems, but I found the family relationships most interesting (Lots of pictures).
Millay's mother kicked her feckless husband out of the house, as did her grandmother (who was killed by a runaway horse)hers; all three of the Millay sisters were poets (Norma, the least ambitious of the three, writes a sonnet to rival Edna's best towards the end of the book). The youngest sister, Kathleen, was a sad case. Although she published a couple of novels and several books of poetry, she was jealous of Edna, hounded her for money, and did her level best to embarrass her in print. Millay's mother was the true inspiration for Edna. She read the girls poetry, wrote some of her own (publishing toward the end of her life). She validates B.F. Skinner's theory on parental inspiration and Edna gave her credit.
We also see the writer as performance artist. Edna wins a contest and is invited to read for literary societies in her home town, during which time she wins the support of a woman who sponsors her application to Vassar. According to Milford, Millay was an electrifying reader and became famous largely because of her book tours. She even did radio during a time when poetry was given its due.
Millay also wrote plays and even a book for an opera, all of which did well. She was a true Renascence woman.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read!
This is one of the best books I have read in several years. It is magical, provocative,and educational - a true treasure. I've never been interested in reading biographies, but after reading this, I've realized what I've been missing.

I also disagree with one reviewer that Edna St. Vincent Millay is "obscure" to most living Americans. I think many easily recognize her name - and even if they don't, this book is a fabulous way to learn about an otherwise unfamiliar individual.

5-0 out of 5 stars Promiscuity and tenderness
The first poem of Millay's I read was "The Spring and the Fall", shown to me by a jr. high school friend. Edna St. Vincent Millay has always somehow been with me since then, especially since I began teaching her poems in my English classes more than a decade ago.

What really motivated me to buy this book were student questions about Millay's life that I couldn't answer based on the meager materials I had at hand; for example, 'Why did Millay's mother ask Millay's father to leave the family?' and 'How could Millay write such tender poetry when she was so promiscuous?'

I'm glad to say that this book provided answers to these and many other questions I'd never have thought to ask. Milford's work helps the reader begin to know the very complex personality behind the poetic genius and tenderness - as well as the nymphomania and utter self-centeredness. Millay had electrifying charm, and it probably is very difficult not to use this to personal advantage when one has it.

Milford also delves into some of the origins underlying Millay's life choices by describing her family life and relationships in considerable detail. Since a very young age, Millay had to be the strong one who held things together in her family, and she was perhaps never able to find someone strong enough to look after *her* in the same way - she held the upper hand in almost every relationship she had, and this paved the way for abuse of her formidable personal power.

Millay was so indulged by the world and herself that she must have felt either invincible or simply fatalistic as she slid ever more deeply into what could only be called debauchery, and later serious chemical dependence.

The side biographies interwoven into the book are fascinating as well - how Millay's husband Eugen consciously chose to indulge and put up with Millay as a path to his own self-realization, which he built on the excitement of being near the vortex of Millay's poetic and emotional tempests. There are George Slocombe and George Dillon, two men who succeeded in truly captivating Millay for extended periods of time. And then there's the ongoing comic relief provided by descriptions of the author's interactions with Millay's one surviving (at the time of the writing) sister Norma, who in spite of a disinclination to write otherwise once penned a quite brilliant sonnet in a desperate - and successful - attempt to get Edna's attention when Edna was largely ignoring her. Norma later expressed anger at 'what it took' just to get Edna to answer her letters. And then there's the different levels of competition among the four Millay women, Edna, her mother Cora, who also aspired to being a poet, Norma, who reluctantly provided the author with access to Edna's papers, and the youngest sister Kathleen, who wrote very good poetry that came at the wrong moment from the wrong family.

This book is exhilarating. It's just the kind the more mundane among us read to find out about lives we will never and would never ourselves live.

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing
I had no idea Ms. Millay had led such a fascinating and tumultuous life. This is wonderfully written and not at all dry like you'd expect. ... Read more


115. Girl Singer (Random House Large Print)
by ROSEMARY CLOONEY
list price: $24.95
our price: $24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375408584
Catlog: Book (1999-11-16)
Publisher: Random House Large Print
Sales Rank: 211387
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

At the top of her form and topping the charts, Rosemary Clooney looks back at a life of triumph and tragedy more dramatic than any work of fiction.

Rosemary Clooney made her first public appearance at the age of three, on the stage of the Russell Theater in her hometown of Maysville, Kentucky, singing, "When Your Hair Has Turned to Silver," an odd but perhaps prophetic choice for one so young. She has been singing ever since: on local radio; with Tony Pastor's orchestra; in big-box-office Hollywood films; at the Hollywood Bowl, the London Palladium, and Carnegie Hall ; on her own television series; and at venues large and small across the country and around the world. The list of Clooney's friends and intimates reads like a who's who of show business royalty: Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Marlene Dietrich, Tony Bennett, Janet Leigh, Humphrey Bogart, and Billie Holiday, to name just a few. She's known enormous professional triumphs and deep personal tragedies.

At the age of twenty-five, Clooney married the erudite and respected actor Jose Ferrer, sixteen years her senior and light-years more sophisticated. Trouble started almost immediately when, on her honeymoon, she discovered that he had already been unfaithful. Finally, after having five children while she almost single-handedly supported the entire family and endured Ferrer's numerous, unrepentant infidelities, she filed for divorce. From there her life spiraled downward into depression, addiction to various prescription drugs, and then, in 1968, a breakdown and hospitalization. After years spent fighting her way back to the top, Clooney is married to one of her first and long-lost loves- a true fairy tale with a happy ending. She's been nominated for four Grammys in six years and has two albums at the top of the Billboard charts. In the words of one of Stephen Sondheim's Follies showgirls, she could well be singing, triumphantly, "I'm still here!"
... Read more

Reviews (21)

5-0 out of 5 stars Rosie Clooney Leaves Today's Divas In The Dust!
What a life this wonderful woman has led and what a great story to tell! As a lifelong fan I've collected several of her albums & have followed her career. Rosie tells it all, about growing up in Kentucky, starting a singing career with younger sister Betty & hitting the big time in New York. Years ago I had the pleasure of seeing her perform in a radio sponsored concert in the Winter Garden in the World Financial Center. She knows how to please the crowd, chatting them up with little anecdotes and doing several of her big hits(not just a medley of them either). Rosie Clooney is one of the most down to earth performers on earth and a major talent. Read this book and get the Girl Singer 2 cd set. Both are very highly recommended. Thanks Rosie, for bringing so much pleasure to so many people over the years.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best of its kind
Anyone who has every heard Rosemary Clooney sings knows there is no one else quite like her. And so it would follow that her memoir would follow suit, and it most certainly does. I cried, I laughed, I loved this book more with every page I turned. Kudos to Barthel for bringing Rosie's voice to the page, and rendering poetry from such a soulful, remarkable life.

5-0 out of 5 stars And she can write, too!
We lost a tremendous talent and treasure this past summer with the death of Rosemary Clooney. I am so glad that I read this book before her death, because I felt as if I got to know her. Ms. Clooney told her story, from her tulmultous childhood, to her heyday as a "girl singer" and recording star, and to her breakdown in the late 1960s. In the last 10 years, she was known more as George's aunt than her own talent. This book solidified for me that she was a great talent, and a very interesting person. Nothing is glossed over.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sunday in the park with George's Aunt
Rosemary Clooney's life wasn't all a picnic in the Park. Her autobiography is straightforward - like herself, it is not grandiose, but it is no shrinking violet, either. While reading this book, I also got "Songs from the Girl Singer: a musical autobiography " a 2 CD set. Like Girranimals, the similarly titled companion pieces have the same picture on the front so that the purchaser will know that they go together. Buy 'em both, they won't disappoint!

Her life and music are all here - without gloss or pretension. And from her debut with sister Betty, with a local Cincinnati big band, to her meteoric rise to solo national celebrity for "Come On-a My House," a song she never really liked, to sing with Bing in "White Christmas," to the ascension of Rock & Roll (which, she said at the time "wiped out music as we know it,") to her resultant (?) breakdown and triumphant "comeback," to her introduction to a new TV viewing generation as the Coronet Paper Towel lady, to her appearance with nephew George Clooney on ER, Rosemary never learned to read music!

More pictures (including one of the Great Dane, Cuddles,) would have been nice, but the set is a treat. Get it! God Bless You, Rosemary. 5/23/28 - 6/30/2002

5-0 out of 5 stars If You Read Nothing Else
I just finished Rosie's Girl Singer, an autobiography, and found it probably one of the best I have read. I have always been a fan of hers, but didn't realize what a super entertainer she was, given the load she was given to carry. If you haven't read it yet, don't miss it. ... Read more


116. I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away (Thorndike Press Large Print Basic Series)
by Bill Bryson
list price: $30.95
our price: $30.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786220023
Catlog: Book (1999-11-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 238221
Average Customer Review: 4.04 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The master humorist and bestselling author of A Walk in the Woods now guides us on an affectionate, hysterically funny tour of America's most outrageous absurdities.

After living in Britain for two decades, Bill Bryson recently moved back to the United States with his English wife and four children (he had read somewhere that nearly three million Americans believed they had been abducted by aliens--as he later put it, "it was clear my people needed me"). They were greeted by a new-and-improved America that boasts microwave pancakes, twenty-four-hour dental-floss hotlines, and the staunch conviction that ice is not a luxury item.

Delivering the brilliant comic musings that are a Bryson hallmark, I'm a Stranger Here Myself recounts his sometimes disconcerting reunion with the land of his birth. From motels ("one of those things--airline food is another--that I get excited about and should know better") to careless barbers ("in the mirror I am confronted with an image that brings to mind a lemon meringue pie with ears"), I'm a Stranger Here Myself chronicles the quirkiest aspects of life in America, right down to our hardware-store lingo, tax-return instructions, and vulnerability to home injury ("statistically in New Hampshire I am far more likely to be hurt by my ceiling or underpants than by a stranger").

Along the way Bill Bryson also reveals his rules for life (#1: It is not permitted to be both slow and stupid. You must choose one or the other); delivers the commencement address to a local high school ("I've learned that if you touch a surface to see if it's hot, it will be"); and manages to make friends with a skunk. The result is a book filled with hysterical scenes of one man's attempt to reacquaint himself with his own country, but it is also an extended, if at times bemused, love letter to the homeland he has returned to after twenty years away.
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Reviews (158)

4-0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable perspective on America
Bill Bryson can be a curmudgeon. A very funny curmudgeon. This book is a collection of columns he wrote for a British publication over the course of a year. Collected here, they contain the experiences of a person returning to their homeland after 20 years and reacquainting himself. As mentioned by previous reviewers, a couple of the columns seem as if he was rushed (although I found the tax column funny), but many of them are spot-on. Many column subjects are about things Americans like to remember fondly - diners, drive-in movie theatres, the outdoors, and are therefore touching. Others are just plain hilarious. When he's in the 'zone', Bill Bryson is among the funniest authors alive. If you've read a column or any previous books by Bryson and slightly enjoyed it, there will be something here for you. Keep in mind that it is a collection of essays written over the course of one year, so a couple may not sway you, but overall this collection is definitely a keeper!

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting insights from the outside
Bill Bryson's "I'm a Stranger..." is an interesting collection of observations and comments about several aspects of American life. As they are taken from weekly columns he wrote for a paper in England, this is not a "book" per se. But that fact doesn't take away from its charm, or, at times, stinging criticism.

This is mostly a humorous work, like the article Bryson wrote poking fun at the US Federal Tax Return (wait 'til you hear it!). But it's not all light-hearted; Bryson also finds time for more serious matters, like immigration and gun control. His analyses of these situations and his expose' of inconsistent American values/beliefs is worth the price of the book alone. Sometimes it takes an outsider, like Bryson was, to show you things you couldn't see yourself. He does this splendidly.

Others have commented that the book was a little too formulaic; I have noticed this too. Many of the articles end with a "punch-line" of sarcasm, and it seemed a bit predictable the more I read. For this reason I would recommend not reading too much at once. It worked better for me listening to one or two themes at a time, and then taking a break. The material (and Bryson's approach) remained more fresh that way.

In all, though, this was a good effort. Bryson definitely makes you think about issues you might have taken for granted. Four stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars An American Portrait
After reading and enjoying "Notes From a Small Island," I was looking forward to Bryson's witticisms in regards to every day life in America. Although an American, having spent twenty odd years in England gives Bryson a unique perspective on what makes America, and Americans, tick. "I'm a Stranger Here Myself" is a collection of essays Bryson wrote for an English audience; but they lack none of their charm when read by an Anglophile American.

"I'm a Stranger Here Myself" is and odd conglomeration of essays that deal with a range of topics: small-town America, shopping, the inconvenience of our numerous "conveniences", and several entries on his own ineptness when it comes to technology. In each of his essays Bryson is a bit of a wanderer, starting in one direction, only to go off on a tangent. Usually he's able to bring himself back to the point, and can even poke fun at himself for doing so. His wanderings are what sets his style and what generates the largest laughs or head shakes of disbelief.

While Bryson is at times critical of what happens in America, "I'm a Stranger Here Myself" is a loving portrait of a revered country. However, Bryson's perspective is one of a man living a blessed life. He now resides in a virtually crime-free small New Hampshire town and grew up in small-town Iowa. His essays sometimes lack the experiences that growing up or residing in other areas might offer. However, due to his extensive travels, Bryson's perspective is truly unique and a joy to read.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not Bryson's best
Bryson's best book is "Notes From a Small Island," about traveling in Great Britain. It's one of the funniest books I've read. The British are funny, and Bryson knows them well after living in Britain for 20+ years.

His book about Australia, "In a Sunburned Country," is also entertaining. He studied Australian history, met many interesting locals, etc. After reading it, I feel like an expert on Australia and its people.

His book about Europe, "Neither Here Nor There," isn't so good. The problem is that he speaks no languages other than English. He didn't talk to anyone on this trip. Wwithout any characters (other than Bryson) the book isn't engaging. The book has only one joke, which he repeats: "The waiter/hotel clerk/taxi driver didn't speak English so I tried to make him understand that I needed..." Some of these moments are quite funny, but they don't constitute a book. Bryson didn't study the places he visits. Unlike the Australian book, you learn almost nothing about the countries he visited.

Bryson's book about America, "I'm a Stranger Here Myself," failed to make me laugh. It reads like a series of Erma Bombeck columns. Bryson comments about various aspects of his life in a small town in New England. Not other people's lives, which might have been interesting, but only about his domestic life.

I got only a few chapters into his book about the Appalachian Trail, "A Walk in the Woods." I wasn't amused that two people with no backpacking experience would attempt a six-month hike. After several chapters of Bryson repeating one joke -- "I know nothing about any of this!" -- I stopped reading.

This suggests that the old advice "write about what you know" is worth following. It also made me realize that traveling is only enjoyable if you do two things: meet interesting people, preferably by speaking their language; and studying the area you're visiting.

Review by Thomas David Kehoe, author of "Hearts and Minds: How Our Brains Are Hardwired for Relationships"

3-0 out of 5 stars A stranger in a strange land.
"The intricacies of modern American life" leave Bill Bryson wondering, "what on earth am I doing here?" in this collection of short, anecdotal essays (pp. 231; 286). Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Bryson (best known for NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND, A WALK IN THE WOODS, and A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING) lived in the Yorkshire Dales of England for twenty years before returning to the States in 1995 with his English wife and his four children (p. 1). The Brysons lived in Hanover, New Hampshire, before recently returning to Britain (where Bryson is finishing a new book on Shakespeare).

This book offers a compilation of Bryson's whimsical contributions from 1996 to 1998 to London's Night & Day magazine, offering his humorous observations upon life in the United States and in New England in particular. While Bryson recognizes that there is a great deal about American culture that is appealing--"the ease and convenience of life, the friendliness of the people, the astoundingly abundant portions, the intoxicating sense of space, the cheerfulness of nearly everyone who serves you, the notion that almost any desire or whim can be simply and instantly gratified (p. 286)--with his characteristic wit, he chooses instead to skewer American culture in all of its idiosyncrasies--diners, drive ins, dental floss hotlines, diets, processed foods, cable TV, lawsuits, drug laws, running shoes, and garbage disposals.

I am a big Bill Bryson fan. I have rated this book with three stars only when measured against some of his better books--A WALK IN THE WOODS, NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND, A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING, for example. This book didn't hold my attention as those books did, and Bryson's reunion with American culture didn't leave me with a sense of wonder and delight. Rather, his encounters with the American "have-a-nice-day" culture left me feeling like a disenchanted stranger in a strange land myself. Ah, well, who wants to be "normal" by the cultural standards described here anyway?

G. Merritt ... Read more


117. Girl, Interrupted (Thorndike Press Large Print Basic Series)
by Susanna Kaysen
list price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786225955
Catlog: Book (2000-06-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 1127671
Average Customer Review: 4.07 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In the late 1960s, the author spent nearly two years on the ward for teenage girls at McLean Hospital, a renowned psychiatric facility. Her memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perceptions, while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers. "Searing . . . captures an exquisite range of self-awareness between madness and insight."--Boston Globe. ... Read more

Reviews (366)

4-0 out of 5 stars Girl, Interrupted
Susanna Kaysen, the main character and author of this book, simply went for a doctor's appointment one day and the doctor, not letting her know what was going on, shoved her in a taxi and sent her to Mclean Hosptial, where her stay was about 2 years. Through that year, she experienced many new friends,yet problems, but also discovered new paths and a new way of life which led her to a world of seeing the real Susanna. Susanna entered the mental hospital still having no idea why she was there, but what she soon came to realize was that she was the most normal one out of all that were staying there. The hospital was a very strict facility with locked everything. There was no leaving the hospital except for when the nurse would take 6 lucky patients to get ice cream, but that was hardly ever. Nurses checked on you every 10, 20, or 30 minutes, depending on your behavior and diagnosis. Susanna also had a therapist, with whom she met weekly and told him about her problems and thoughts about everything. Susanna's diagnosis was something having to do with depression, and even though she was in an environment full of friends like Georgina, Lisa, and Cynthia, she felt out of place because they all had seriuos problems and she didn't. All the other characters made the book so lively and humorous, even though it was talking about a serious issue. Susanna was a big thinker and this book showed great analyzation of her every thought. It was so greatly analyzed that it not only taught her something, but everyone reading the book. What happens at the end of the book is for you to find out. Don't miss reading Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen. It shows such good -real experiences and how some people just don't have life so easy as others and how they deal with it so well.

4-0 out of 5 stars Deceptively simple
I saw the movie version of "Girl Interrupted" when it came out last winter in spite of the mostly negative reviews it received. I loved it, mainly because it highlighted how women can support each other through the toughest of circumstances. I then bought and read the book. The differences between the two are startling: the setting and most of the characters are the same, but the tone is quite different.

The book is mesmerizing from its first paragraph. Susanna Kaysen uses deceptively simple language to describe her experiences and the people she knew during her 18 months stay at McLean's mental hospital. We slowly come to understand the lack of humanity showed to these girls, and the confused world they came from. Ms Kaysen's spare, poetic prose is interspersed with copies of actual hospital records written at the time she was a patient. The records appear as confused as the patients they detail. They seem to detail Susanna's social interactions and levels of ease with others, as if this alone depicts signs of strong mental health. Some of them appear incomplete and neglected. One is left to wonder what exactly the professionals at this hospital were looking for: mental health or acceptable female behavior?

The book is brief, and leaves the reader with more questions than answers. How have we changed in the way we view certain types of female behavior? How have we changed in the way we view those suffering from mental illnesses? Do patients need to be cured or does the world need to be cured?

This is a remarkable book. It manages to raise awareness without giving in to self-pity. I would recommend it to anyone.

4-0 out of 5 stars IF YOU'VE SEEN THE MOVIE YOU SHOULD READ THIS!!
I read the book after I'd seen the movie and was disappointed in the movie. It left a lot of things out, added some stuff and really obscured the timeline.
The book however was captivating, I really had a hard time putting it down, and it's a very easy read. I enjoyed delving more into Susannna's mind learing what she was thinking during certain events in her life. It also puts a light onto early psychological techniques, which thank God have improved. One of my favorite parts in the book is were she starts to see her hand withouth bones, something that was mentioned shortly in the movie. The characters are thoroughtly mentioned in the book and even some you didn't seen in the movie, the funny thing is that Lisa the Angelina Joeli character didn't seem to play as big of a role in Susanna's life there. The movie seemed to focus maybe too much on the character since she was the more practical Hollywood mold, while the book of course is focused on Susanna.
Anyway, it was a fun book to read and an easy one too, if you liked the movie you should read the book to learn more about what really happened to Susanna during her stay at the hospital.

5-0 out of 5 stars Understanding a Mental Illness
Right from the beginning of Girl, Interrupted the author introduces herself as an eighteen-year-old named Susanna Kaysen. She encounters a session with a psychiatrist she's never met or spoken to before in her life. The beginning of the book is thrilling and exciting because you're not exactly sure where you're going to end up. Susanna is then sent away in a taxi, which takes her to McLean Hospital. It becomes very real and clear about what is going on if you've had similar experiences in life.

She stays in a ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital for the next two years of her life. By this point you really feel like you're right there with the writer. It all becomes very real and a little hard to read. This memoir of Kaysen includes horrible things that go on in the ward and at the same time she gives the readers a very clear description about the other patients in there. In the end the book brings you to a conclusion between mental illness and recovery. This book really showed me that life isn't as bad as I perceived it. I learned that when you think you've got it bad, you might not really know what you've got coming for you-because as you get older the real world can sometimes catch up with you.

I would recommend this book to anyone that is struggling with a friend or family member that has a mental illness. It helps you to understand what pain they're going through and why they say and think the way they do. This was by far one of my favorite books I've read this year and at the same time it was my biggest life saver.

4-0 out of 5 stars Girl, Interrupted Book Review
This book gives a truthful look into the mind of a disturbed young woman who finds herself in a mental hospital due to a struggle with her inner emotions. Ms. Kaysen makes no effort to sugarcoat the conditions or situations involving her and the other patients at the hospital. Everything she writes is honest and extremely vivid. One account in which we see a frightening and true depiction of a patient's situation is in the chapter entitled, "Calais Is Engraved In My Heart." After a girl named Alice Calais has a severe mental breakdown she is sent to maximum security. The other girls go to visit her, and what they find leaves the reader with an unsettling vision of the lives of these young women. Kaysen makes no excuses for herself, or anyone else, she simply tells her story the way it happened. Another aspect of Ms. Kaysen's writing, that separates her from the rest, is her ability to covey abstract thoughts and theories in a very personal way. Using unique metaphors, symbols, and her own experiences, she is able to address such topics as the inner Id, the cause and effect of her condition, and the thin line that divides normality from insanity. In a place that seems so dark and unhappy Kaysen manages to insert light and humor. One of Kaysen's fellow patients, Lisa, while extremely disturbed, is also very witty and sharp. Kaysen herself also has a very humorous side. A weaker point of the novel is that in some cases Kaysen's writing becomes so internal that it seems scattered and is difficult to follow. Another point that may turn readers away is the extremely graphic and unapologetic accounts of the effects of illness in the hospital. However, this book was an informative, creative, and groundbreaking piece of literature that is certainly worth reading. ... Read more


118. You Make Me Feel Like An Unnatural Woman: Diary Of A New (older) Mother (Thorndike Press Large Print Biography Series)
by Judith Newman
list price: $29.45
our price: $29.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786268131
Catlog: Book (2004-08-23)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Veteran journalist Judith Newman wanted to write the book jacket description for You Make Me Feel Like an Unnatural Woman. She really did. But every time she sat down to describe her unflinching, ruefully funny look at later-life pregnancy and motherhood, something came up. One day, one of her sons, Gus, coughed up a hairball, the result of enjoying a pacifier that had been stuck for several days to the fur of their golden retriever. The next day she had to calm down her other son, Henry, who was convinced his head would be sucked down the bathtub drain. Spending the day shouting YOU HEAD IS BIGGER THAN THE DRAIN is not what she envisioned several years ago, when after seven years and $70,000 worth of infertility treatments, she was told, at forty, she was expecting twins. For this she spent eight months throwing up?

Today the number of women having their first child over thirty-five has increased by a bazillion fold, or some equally scary large number, and Newman is the first to write a book that tells what it's really like when a trip to the drugstore entails the purchase of both diaper cream and wrinkle cream; when "getting your shots" means both immunization and Botox. You Make Me Feel Like an Unnatural Woman is not only about having children later in life: it's about what happens to a marriage—and to the spirit, when even the most sought-after baby comes. Wry, warm, and brutally honest, this is the book for any woman—whatever her age—who has awakened at 3AM to the insistent shrieks of her darling and thought: Oh man, I'm too old for this. ... Read more

Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars If I could give this book six stars I would...
As an REI (fertility doc) and a mother, I found this book immensely enjoyable on many levels. I could not stop reading this book (and almost got hit by a bus b/c I was reading and walking at the same time). The author gives an accurate but non-self-pitying account of her long course of infertility therapy and then an incredibly humorous and honest account of the first year of (basically single) motherhood with twins (!). I typically don't like "memoirs" or autobiographies but this reads like well-crafted fiction and is truly one of the best books I've read in a long time. I'm waiting for the sequel...

4-0 out of 5 stars Disarmingly honest memoir of infertility and motherhood
First of all, Judith Newman is honest, and fearless. She doesn't pull any punches, and hardly changes names. It's difficult not to admire someone who can be one of the few people to paint both the good and the bad aspects of conquering infertility, and keep her sense of humor.

As a woman who went through IVF and late-life motherhood myself, I consider this book essential reading. While Newman admits she put off motherhood for reasons other than infertility, the ensuing treatments and desire for motherhood drive her forward. It is clear that she desired a child because of her biological clock and, perhaps, as an accessory, but by the time her twins are born and she falls head first into their care, her love for them is apparent.

Judith Newman exists in a successful Manhattan world where people have children late in life, only to have the nannies take the children to birthday parties and Mommy & Me classes. Newman is more hands-on with her children, however she employs a Jamaican nanny with whom she conflicts regularly. Still, she takes her own children out and to parties, and tries her best to raise them without her husband, a man 25 years her senior who, although an active participant in the IVF, is virtually absent from the children's lives. Newman and her husband even share separate apartments, and she spares no bile toward her husband, although she can be charitable.

This book is not for people who like things sugar-coated. Although I have been through much of what she has been through, I still didn't relate to some of her experiences. One has to have a sense of what she went through, I think, to truly appreciate what she has to say. The book is written with caustic wit and honesty, and I admire her for her courage.

5-0 out of 5 stars You Make Me Feel Like an Unnatural Woman: Diary of an (Older
If you have a husband and kids you will have a lot to relate to with this book! It is laugh out loud funny. You will be reading excerpts to anyone who will listen. I can't wait for her to write about her kids when they are teenagers. Great summer read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hilarious from Begining to End
I was the opposite of Ms. Newman, I had my kids in my early 20s rather than 40s, but I still laughed uproariously at her re-telling of the first few years with twin boys. Some motherhood "adventures" are universal no matter how old/young you are!

5-0 out of 5 stars An honest take on parenthood
I really enjoyed this book. As other reviewers have written, it is laugh-out-loud funny. And, the humor is that we can recognize ourselves. I'm an older mother who adopted. Another reviewer found Newman's passage on adoption offensive - but it's her opinion and she's entitled. Not only that, later in the book she completely changed her tune, acknowledging she was wrong - that you have to learn to love your kids no matter how they arrive in your home and heart. She lives a lifestyle completely different from my own, and yet there are many things we have in common. She is unflinchingly honest, something most of us are not, especially if it is not politically correct. Motherhood is the toughest job out there, and some days you wish you could quit, no matter how much you begged for the job in the first place. But there's no turning back, which is why this book was so fun to read. ... Read more


119. A Pirate Looks At Fifty (Random House Large Print)
by JIMMY BUFFETT
list price: $24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375702881
Catlog: Book (1998-06-16)
Publisher: Random House Large Print
Sales Rank: 866821
Average Customer Review: 3.84 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

For the millions of fans of Jimmy Buffett's music as well as his bestselling books, Tales from Margaritaville and Where Is Joe Merchant?, here is the ultimate Jimmy Buffett philosophy on life and how to live it.As hard as it is to believe, the irrepressible Jimmy Buffett has hit the half-century mark and, in A Pirate Looks at 50, he brings us along on the remarkable journey which he took through the Southern hemisphere to celebrate this landmark birthday.
        
Jimmy takes us from the legendary pirate coves of the Florida Keys to the ruins of ancient Cartegena.Along the way, we hear a tale or two of how he got his start in New Orleans, how he discovered his passion for flying planes, and how he almost died in a watery crash in Nantucket harbor.We follow Jimmy to jungle outposts in Costa Rica and on a meandering trip down the Amazon, through hair-raising negotiations with gun-toting customsofficials and a 3-year-old aspiring copilot.And he is the inimitable Jimmy Buffett through it all.
        
For Parrotheads, for armchair adventurers, and for anyone who appreciates a good yarn and a hearty laugh, here is the ultimate backstage pass--you'll read the kind of stories Jimmy usually reserves for his closest friends and you'll see a wonderful, wacky life through eyes of the man who's lived it. A Pirate Looks at 50 is a breath of fresh air and a ingenious manual for getting to 50 ... and beyond.
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Reviews (224)

4-0 out of 5 stars I gotta go where it's warm!
This is an unassuming book that sneaks up to you with a warm enjoyable feeling. I've always wanted to know what Jimmy Buffett is like when he's not on stage, and I'm happy to find out that he's a genuine person with enough flaws to make him interesting.

I was particularly pleased to see that Jimmy didn't do a Jerry Springer spill yer guts kind of tale, but instead just related stories as they came to mind. Jimmy comes across as a man who's found his niche. You have to have respect for a guy who hasn't had more than 1 or 2 top ten records and still manages to sell out every concert.

Some people may not enjoy all the fly fishing stories and the flying descriptions. I did, but I'm one of those types who reads everything including the back of cereal boxes. (Sick I know, but hey there's probably a 12-step program for it somewhere!).

This book is like a comfortable afternoon in the hammock...not much gets accomplished, but it's a wonderful way to spend the day.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Typically Unique Buffett Experience!
This was a typically unique Jimmy Buffett experience whereby he weaves his personal "songline" into an entertaining narrative to be enjoyed by Parrotheads, fishermen, "flying boat captains", and anybody with an adventurous spirit! I gave this 5 stars for the sheer entertainment value...it may not be a literary masterpiece, but it's a lot of fun!

I especially enjoyed the vivid explanations of Caribbean history. As a high school social studies teacher, I think some of Jimmy's descriptions would be very motivating for some of my students and I plan to incorporate some of them into my Global Studies lesson plans.

In an earlier review, I read that this is more of a man's book since most women wouldn't be interested in fishing or seaplanes. As a woman, I found these sections very interesting. Granted, flying planes and fishing aren't my hobbies, but learning something new is always fun. I don't think gender should influence one's decision to read this book - just keep an open mind!

5-0 out of 5 stars A big kid's fantasy
Each time I read this book, I pick up previously missed "words of wisdom", and am transported along with him to all the adventures he describes so intimately, all over the world. Here is a man who went for his dreams, freely admits when he screwed up, and made it in a way we can only imagine. I absolutely loved this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Caribbean Soul
I first read this book on my honeymoon on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and it has truly inspired me. A fellow sailor from childhood, I had lost touch with my ties to Mother Ocean as I pursued a career in engineering that was successful by conventional standards but left me feeling like something was missing. This book reminded me what it was. Jimmy Buffett is an incredible storyteller, and has lived a life many (like me) only dream of. He makes you want to visit each and every place he describes. Some may claim that this book does not deserve 5 stars because it is not a literary masterpiece, and if you want a literary masterpiece, this book is not for you. If you are looking for an enjoyable vacation read, or for inspiration to truly live life instead of following the status quo, then this is a 5-star book for you!

5-0 out of 5 stars The man behind Margaritaville
Playing on his classic song "A Pirate Turns Forty", Jimmy Buffett weaves an autobiographical tale that takes you to that mystical place in our minds called Margaritaville.

The book is long on facts, going through Jimmy's life as a youngster, covering the famous story of how he picked up the guitar to meet girls, and through the life as a family man and musician.

An interesting point that comes across is that Jimmy Buffett is not just this carefree guy who sings on stage all day long. He has his own nuances, such as a need to overpack. How does that fit into the life of the troubador? It doesn't, and that peek behind the illusion makes this journey a personal one.

The one downside is that if you're not a Parrothead, the book is probably not for you. If you are a Parrothead, get out the blender, set the chair just right on the deck, and enjoy the book on a lazy sunny afternoon. ... Read more


120. Heart of a Soldier: A Story of Love, Heroism, and September 11th (Thorndike Press Large Print Biography Series)
by James B. Stewart
list price: $30.95
our price: $30.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786249447
Catlog: Book (2003-03-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 877789
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Sometimes from the ashes of tragedy comes an extraordinary, even magical story that inspires, offers hope, and helps heal even the deepest wounds. Heart of a Soldier is such a story, thrillingly told by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Den of Thieves and Blind Eye.

Born in Britain on the eve of World War II, Rick Rescorla became an American citizen and a much-decorated soldier. His extraordinary life is woven into the military conflicts of his time, from the battlefields of colonial Africa, where he and his best friend, U.S. Army officer Dan Hill, led lives of adventure worthy of Kipling and Conrad, to some of the deadliest battles of Vietnam to the epicenter of modern-day terrorism. Surviving them all with great courage and style, Rescorla seemed invincible.

Rescorla tried to put combat and death behind him, and for a time it seemed as though he had succeeded. With his wife Susan, he found the peace and domesticity he craved. But it turned out that everything in his remarkable life had prepared him for one last act of selflessness that transcended all that had come before. Then, on September 11, 2001, he faced the ultimate test.

In charge of security for Morgan Stanley, Rick Rescorla successfully got 2,700 of its employees out of the World Trade Center's South Tower on September 11. Then he went back and began climbing the tower stairs, looking for stragglers. ... Read more

Reviews (22)

5-0 out of 5 stars Heart of a Soldier brings out the best on us
I have read every book Mr.Stewart has written. He is not a Pulitzer prize winner by accident, his writing is masterful and compelling, but I resisted reading Heart of a Soldier at first because I thought it was way out of Mr.Stewart's area of topics, and therefore it sat on my Amazon's wish list for quite some time. Finally, I decided to buy itand boy would I have missed out on one hell of a book if I had done otherwise. This is a book about extraordinary people and one in particular, Rick Riscolda. His life is depicted here without varnish or ornaments, none are needed.
With the help of Mr. Stewart Rick Riscolda has become one of those rare individuals whom the world should hear from, should learn and take comfort from. This is a wonderful life that beacons light, and light, lots of it is what we need in this world. To Mr. Riscolda, you have made another fellow american proud; to Mr. Stewart the merit of having enabled the rest of us, outside of his immediate circle, to meet this extraordinary human being.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Heart of a Soldier
After reading "We Were Soldiers Once and Young" and going to the LZ-XRAY web site I found out about thesoldier on the cover of we were soldiers once and young. His name was Rick Rescorla. A few more digs into the history behind the photo I learned that Rick had died in the world trade center on 09-11-01 helping to save 2,700 of his fellow employee's. This book is a very good read as to the life of Rick Rescorla and I simply could not put it down reading the entire book in the last 48 hours. A hero that survived the Ia drang valley in Vietnam inNovember 1965 and numerous other military battles lost his life as a hero on 09-11-01. Rick Rescorla was a true leader in military and should set an example for others to follow.It's a shame we have not heard of Rick or the things that he has done prior to his death. Dan Hill the long time friend of Rick is also another hero of this story. If you want a book that will grab you then by all means this is the one for you. Author James Stewart has outdone himself.

5-0 out of 5 stars Looking for real heros? Look no further.
I nearly wept after reading the excerpt published in the New Yorker. ("The Real Heros are Dead", Feb 11 2003, which is still available free on their website.)

And this piece just a hint of the quality of the rest of the book. Heart of a Soldier is justifiably a welcome respite from the usual politicizing, sensationalizing and garment-rending post-9/11 books. It elevated the tragedy to a profoundly heroic, yet poignantly human level -- something I believe we're all in need of.

After all, the memory of 9/11 means more than the loss of the buildings and of nearly 3,000 souls. Because we rebuild. Life does go on. It's about the human experiences because that's what will be remembered for generations. They are true sources of inspiration. In the context of his experience, Richard Rescorla serves as a powerful reminder -- and an example -- of how one person, one life, anyone, can rise above when called upon to make a difference.

5-0 out of 5 stars A True Hero
I bought this book a year ago and never read it.When I picked it up I assumed I was reading a story of 9/11.But a small portion of this book covers the 9/11 incident.In fact, for the first 50 pages, the book was rather boring and I couldn't understand where it was going. It starts in Africa where two soldiers meet and develop a bond.Then it jumps to a college student who is studying in Portugal and refuses to have an affair with a married man.Where is this book going?

But after this backfill, the book really supercharges.Over half of the book covers Rescorla and Hill's military career, from work in Africa to rejoining the Army in time for Vietnam.In Rescorla's case, he wasn't even an American.They are both exceptional heroes and reading of their battles is very inspiring.It's also interesting to watch their views of the war change as they view the carnage.Although I had read "They Were Soldiers Once...", I did not remember Rescorla's name so it was fascinating to revisit his involvement and performance.

When the book leaves the military section but prior to the 9/11 event, there is an interesting section where Hill and Rescorla struggle with their identity as veterans of Vietnam, Rescorla particularly.But possibly the most fascinating part of this book is Hill's prediction of the next wave of terrorist attacks and what they would target.Hill participated in the Muslim religion including trips to Afghanistan and presented the FBI with an interesting proposal about Osama Bin Laden prior to 9/11.

And that's what makes this book so compelling.These two men touched four continents but seemed to always be involved in fascinating history that concludes with 9/11.Prior to 9/11 the book details a fascinating love story which finally ties back the confusing start of the book.

I strongly recommend this book if you have interest in war stories, particularly the Vietnam War, patriotism or fascinating details of 9/11.But the real reason you should read this book is to learn of a sincere man who chose to become and American and lived a normal middle-aged life until he found the love of his life which sparked his existence and gave him the strength to deal with cancer.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book, Fascinating Life
I had read "We Were Soldiers" before, so I already knew the name of Rick Rescorla and was surprised when his name came up in TV discussions shortly after 9/11.His presence in the South Tower felt particularly personal.I had worked for Morgan Stanley myself, and had several friends in that building who got out thanks to Rescorla's efforts.

The book did not disappoint at all.His life was more fascinating than even I expected.While the ending was tragic, the life described in the book was one worth living and which should be inspiring to anybody who likes seeing the good side of humanity. ... Read more


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