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141. Joe Dimaggio Lp : The Heros Life
$16.47 $9.98 list($24.95)
142. When Character was King
$29.45 $19.91
143. Laura: America's First Lady, First
$22.00 $5.04
144. A Life In Letters: Ann Landers'
$30.95
145. John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography
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146. Natalie Wood: A Life (Random House
$30.95
147. Merv: Making the Good Life Last
$30.95
148. John Wayne: The Man Behind the
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149. Saddam: King of Terror (Thorndike
$29.95
150. Atravesando Fronteras: LA Autobiografia
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151. Old Man River and Me: One Man's
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152. St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography
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153. The Story of My Life (Dover Large
$31.95
154. Benjamin Franklin: An American
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155. The Avengers (Wheeler Large Print
$30.95
156. Luckiest Man: The Life And Death
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157. Land of a Thousand Hills: My Life
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158. Life On The Mississippi
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159. The Most Beautiful Woman in the
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160. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts

141. Joe Dimaggio Lp : The Heros Life
by Richard Ben Cramer
list price: $30.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 074320638X
Catlog: Book (2000-10-17)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 533089
Average Customer Review: 3.47 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

No wonder we strove for more than sixty years to give Joe DiMaggio the hero's life. DiMaggio was, at every turn, one man we could look at who made usfeel good.

In the hard-knuckled thirties, he was the immigrants' boy who made it big -- and spurred the New York Yankees to a new era of dynasty. As World War II loomed, Joltin' Joe became our poster boy for American can-do, with his hitting streak of fifty-six straight -- and the nation was literally singing his name. In postwar ease and plenty, he was our Broadway Joe, the icon of elegance and manly class...until he wooed and won, in Marilyn Monroe, the most beautiful girl that America could dream up. And even when he lost that girl for good, in 1962, Joe was us at the start of our decade of national bereavement.

Joe DiMaggio was a mirror of our best self...and he was also the loneliest hero we ever had. A nation of fans would give him anything...but what he wanted most was to hide the life he chose.

In this groundbreaking biography, Richard Ben Cramer presents a stunning, often shocking portrait of the hero nobody knew. It is a story that sweeps through the twentieth century, bringing to light along the way not just America's national game, but her movie stars, mobsters, pols, writers...the birth (and the price) of modern national celebrity.

This is the story Joe DiMaggio never wanted to tell -- and never wanted anyone else to tell. It is the story of his grace -- and greed; his dignity, pride -- and hidden shame. After five years of relentless reporting, Cramer brings alive, for the first time, the story of DiMaggio the man. ... Read more

Reviews (104)

4-0 out of 5 stars Fact v. Fiction
While The Hero's Life is an excellent book about one of the three best baseball players who have ever lived, you have to wonder how much is true. Mr Cramer does list many sources and is wonderful at telling the story of Joe DiMaggio's life. DiMaggio kept the people whom he did not want in his life out and probably for good reason. The question does linger however that since he is basing most of the book on second hand information how much is true. An excellent book that was hard to put down I have recomended it many people. Having never seen Joe DiMaggio play and him seemingly in secrecy for most of his life I found him to be an "interesting" person. He was, is and should always be an American Icon; bringing a country that was embattled in war together for a brief point in history. If you dont know anything about Joe DiMaggio but would like to, this book is a must.

4-0 out of 5 stars This View of Joe Will Jolt You
This is a totally absorbing book. Not all writers can get away with an informal, vernacular style, but Cramer pulls it off--reading the book is like listening to an occasionally breathless but always fascinating raconteur hold forth. It's as if the author were talking to the reader personally, narrating the story.

The choice of words in the title is telling: not "a" hero's life, which would imply that DiMaggio was a genuine hero, but "the" hero's life, implying that the subject's actual life was greatly at variance with his heroic image, as it certainly was. Some DiMaggio fans are offended that Cramer didn't write a worshipful puff-piece; instead he revealed what a cold, mean-spirited, greedy guy DiMaggio really was. But the author also helps the reader understand how DiMaggio got that way, and it's this quality that makes the book so extraordinary.

Two criticisms of aspects of the book that make it less than a five-star production: The author's repeated use of the term "Dago" when referring to DiMaggio could perhaps be explained by the fact that many people of the time really did refer to DiMaggio with that ethnic slur, but it's still offensive and unnecessary. People in the past may indeed have referred to DiMaggio that way, but that doesn't mean Cramer should compound the error by throwing the term around so frequently himself! If he were writing about Hank Greenberg, I'll bet he wouldn't refer to him throughout his text as "The Hebe" or "The Kike." Nor, if he were writing about Jackie Robinson, would he dream of referring to his subject as "The Nig," or by whatever other racist slurs were hurled at Robinson.

The other criticism is that I was constantly wondering how the author could possibly have known some of the things he includes. Maybe this is just awe at Cramer's reportorial skills, but since he includes no source notes, we have to take him at his word. He may well have had many talky informants, especially after DiMaggio's death, but I don't think anybody could have followed Joe into the bedroom with Marilyn Monroe, the way Cramer pretends to do!

3-0 out of 5 stars Good addition to DiMaggio Literature
Being a San Franciscan, I really appreciated the author's research and description of life in this City during the first 3-4 decades of the 20th century, including the baseball scene and the legend of Lefty O'Doul (whose bar is still open just off Union Square). There is also much to be learned for the younger readers about baseball in the 30s and 40s. Not all was a grand as today's romanticists like to portray it. How things should be is somewhere between the over-paid mediocre talent of today and the grossly underpaid---and unfree---players of those days. I can't imagine what someone of Dimaggio's caliber would be getting paid today.

The book also shined when describing not only Joe's relationship with Marilyn Monroe (brutal by today's standards) and what Hollywood and stardom was like.

Dimaggio's dysfunctional personality and apparent avarice are well-presented, as is the power he had to make men give up all dignity and self-respect simply to be his friend. While we can't simply assume everything said here about DiMaggio's attorney and "close personal friend", Morris Engelberg, is 100% accurate, it isn't hard to believe either. We had a very real taste of this man's character here in San Francisco with how he handled the whole affair of our city wanting to name the playground in North Beach for DiMaggio.

The only gap in the book for me was the leap it made from Marilyn Monroe's death all the way to the 1989 SF earthquake. I thought Cramer went pretty far in depicting the Kennedy/Sinatra involvement with Monroe and why Joe so despised them after her death. But he stopped there quite abruptly. There probably was more that could have been written to show Joe's scorn for them (like the snub of Bobby Kennedy at Yankee Stadium during an Old Timers Game introductions...Joe refused to shake his hand). Baseball-wise, I think more could have also been written about Joe's feelings for---or against---Mickey Mantle and how he felt about THAT center fielder's so completely winning the hearts of Yankee fans. If the author's intended audience was people like me and older, who are familiar with Joe's life and career, then I'm off-base. If he was hoping to have the 20-30 crowd know more about this myth, I think he could have written a little more.

Joe DiMaggio was not a good man necessarily, many people knew that before even reading this book. In today's world he would have been mauled by the press and fans and would likely not be perceived as such a heroic figure as he now is. Look at Barry Bonds, perhaps a better player overall (hard to say for those of us who never saw Joe actually play...hard to argue against 9 world championships in 13 years...versus Barry's ZERO), yet his personality is probably not too different from Joe's in his search for privacy and aloofness from his teammates. However, he is vilified by most and has precious few friends. In another day, he would have been up in the pantheon with the Babe and Joltin' Joe.

2-0 out of 5 stars Why the personal assault?
This book was a gift from my daughter; as such, I read it even though I knew that it was a hatchet job, for whatever reason, against a great player. At the end of the book I came away with the same conclusion I had when I started, and that is that Joe DiMaggio was one of the greatest hitters of all time (had an immaculate swing) and one of the greatest all around players of all time. As a baseball lover that is all I need to know. In short, he was idolized for his playing ability and for his quite demeanor on the field, while keeping his peccadilloes from public view - why is that so bad? What grudge the author has against Joe DiMaggio I don't know, but I see no need to attack a person based on the shortcomings of that person's personality.

1-0 out of 5 stars Bitter, angry, jealous - and that's just the author
This is a bitter, self-indulgent attempt by the author to attack DiMaggio. Period. He was a bad guy... so what? He liked money? Last time I checked, the author wasn't giving his book away. The main problem isn't with the book or DiMaggio, but with the people who make guys like DiMaggio the heroes they can never be. The bar is set way too high for these individuals. No one can reach it. Our solution: write about it. Consider this: I seriously doubt anyone will write a book about the author, because while he may have received accolades for his work as a reporter, all he has really done in his life is write about what other people have done in their lives. Seems like an empty accomplishment to me, and might be the reason for the high level of bitterness and, perhaps, jealousy that came through in this book. ... Read more


142. When Character was King
by PEGGY NOONAN
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375431462
Catlog: Book (2001-11)
Publisher: Random House Large Print
Sales Rank: 96633
Average Customer Review: 4.11 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

From the bestselling author of What I Saw at the Revolution comes an elegiac tribute to one of America's most beloved leaders.

It is twenty years—a full generation—since Ronald Reagan first walked into the White House and ignited a revolution.From the beginning, he enjoyed the American people's affection but now, as he approaches the end of his life, he has received what he deserved even more: their deep respect.

What was the wellspring of his greatness?Peggy Noonan, bestselling author of the classic Reagan-era memoir What I Saw at the Revolution, former speechwriter, and now a columnist and contributing editor for The Wall Street Journal, argues that the secret of Reagan's success was no secret at all.It was his character—his courage, his kindness, his persistence, his honesty, and his almost heroic patience in the face of setbacks—that was the most important element of his success.

The one thing a man must bring into the White House with him if he is to succeed, Noonan contends, is a character that people come to recognize as high, sturdy, and reliable.

Noonan, renowned for her special insight into Ronald Reagan's history and personality, brings her own reflections to Reagan to bear in When Character Was King and discloses never-before-told stories from the former president's family, friends, and White House colleagues to reveal the true nature of a man even his opponents now view as a maker of big history.

Marked by incisive wit and elegant prose, When Character Was King will enlighten and move readers.
... Read more

Reviews (141)

5-0 out of 5 stars A-plus-plus
For devout Reaganites, Peggy Noonan's new book covers familiar ground. We're well acquainted with this quintessentially American success story, and with the deeply patriotic and moralistic ideals which underpinned RR's policies, particularly in the foreign policy sphere.

Yet, what makes this book so special is Ms. Noonan's extraordinary gifts for storytelling. A measure of her formidable talents is her ability to take well-chronicled events -- the hardscrabble Illinois childhood, the SAG and GE years, the 1976 near miss, the PATCO strike, the assassination ordeal, Iran-Contra, the Iceland Summit, etc, etc -- and infuse them with fresh energy and perspective.

As Ms. Noonan recounted RR's clear-eyed, strong-willed, visionary posture vis-a-vis the Soviets, I could not help but reflect on how those qualities have been sorely absent from U.S. foreign policy over the past decade -- and how urgently important they are right now. Indeed, the book's penultimate chapter is devoted to the lessons George W. Bush absorbed from nearly a decade of watching RR.

"When Character is King" advances Peggy Noonan's reputation as one of the finest political writers of her generation. A worthy successor to the memoir of her years in the Reagan White House: "What I Saw at the Revolution."

4-0 out of 5 stars At first disappointing, but it satisfies in the end
Peggy Noonan - who really does write "like an angel" as someone once said - would no doubt argue that to understand Ronald Reagan's character one must know in considerable detail about his origins. The first half or more of her book is a biographical chronicle of Reagan's rise from childhood to presidency. It is only sparsely salted with illuminating stories as it carefully recounts the progression of a life that was, until later, not extraordinary. It leaves us wanting more.

However the book delivers more in its later chapters as Noonan recounts less-known stories from her own and others' experience with Reagan as candidate and president. She knits them together with insight and astute observations to illuminate a fine man. The book in the end adequately depicts Reagan's strong convictions in his principles and sense of ethics, his respect for people of all stripes and his extra gentleness for the powerless and ordinary, his often self-deprecating humour, his love of nature and physical work, his seemingly-boundless optimism and other cornerstones of his character and his success.

Ultimately, the book fails in only one respect: it does not show much of the steely edge which most people experienced in politics would believe that Reagan must have had to make it to the Oval Office. Not showing this part of the man's character makes Ms. Noonan's picture less complete. However it is certainly not the one-sided deification that a few one-star reviews by obvious flaming liberals have claimed, and is well worth the time in reading.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Stirring Tribute to a Great Leader
I agree 100% with the other reviewers who have praised this book. Peggy Noonan's book serves as a concise but relatively thorough biography of Reagan, an informative explanation of the influences that guided his decisions before and during his political career, and a spirited and insightful defense of some of Reagan's controversial actions (controversial, at least, to those who Reagan called "our liberal friends" who "know so many things that are not so"). Plenty of funny, enlightening, and touching anecdotes help to make this a great tribute to one of our Nation's greatest leaders.

4-0 out of 5 stars An insiders view of a great president
This book was written by a former speech writer for Ronald Reagan. It features more than just a look inside the Reagan White House. It tells of his childhood in northern Illinois all the way through to his battle with Alzheimer's. There are amusing tales of Reagan's meetings with foreign heads of state. There is great detail of Iran Contra and Reagan's meetings with Gorachev. I expected the book to take a vary favorable position of Reagan (which it did for the most part) but Noonan was not exactly complimentary at times.

The best part of this book told the story of Reagan taking on the Communist infiltration of Hollywood in the 40's. I was unaware of this and found it quite interesting. It laid the foundation for his life in public office. Another interesting theme of the book shows how Reagan made the conversion from the Democratic to Republican party. I bet not many people knew he was a Democrat until midlife.

5-0 out of 5 stars "DON'T LET THE TURKEYS GET YOU DOWN."
When Ronald Reagan left office, he told George H.W. Bush, "Don't let the turkeys get you down." This is sage advice of the highest order, and applies to all people, famous or not. This is the Ronald Reagan that Peggy Noonan writes about.

Reagan was excoriated during his time, but he never became petty. The way he handled criticism is a model for the way all good people should handle criticism. The Reagan model is to stay positive and upbeat, no matter what the drumbeat of stupidity is. To follow his example is to stay above the fray, to maintain the Christian principle "forgive me my tresspasses, as I forgive those who trespass against me." The lessons that average people can learn from Reagan is that if you are a good and decent person, even if the small people, the various and sundry pizzants of the Dumbellionite Class, the ignoramuses, the people of low moral character, the dregs and the ne'r'do'wells attempt to mock you, to bring you down to their level, to react with jealousy at succeses they are unable to achieve, simply continue on a path of honesty and good works. Forgive them and let not your heart be troubled.

God bless Ronald Reagan.

STEVEN TRAVERS
AUTHOR OF "BARRY BONDS: BASEBALL'S SUPERMAN"
... ... Read more


143. Laura: America's First Lady, First Mother (Thorndike Press Large Print Biography Series)
by Antonia Felix
list price: $29.45
our price: $29.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786244488
Catlog: Book (2002-10-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 290616
Average Customer Review: 3.56 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Meet the woman who has won America's heart! Laura Bush, the First Lady of the 21st Century, has already been described as:

". . . one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world." -People

". . . the ballast that keeps her husband steady."-U.S. News & World Report

". . . intellectual and independent . . ."-The Washington Post

". . . a sharp contrast to Hilary Rodham Clinton."-CNN News

". . . the fist in the velvet glove."-BBC News

"Comforter-in-Chief" -Us magazine

"She's truly the First Mother." -New York Post

". . . a fabulous First Lady!" -George W. Bush

Before the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, little was known about First Lady Laura Bush. Since then, she has become America's beacon of hope and strength.

Few observers would have predicted that Laura Bush would win the hearts and earn the respect of the nation. Yet as the smoke cleared and we attempted to make sense of the tragedy, Laura helped heal us, reassure us, and inspire us with her warmth and courage. She urged us to hug our children-and we did-and thereafter became known as America's First Mother, as well as our First Lady.

This fascinating book reveals why Laura Bush was the right First Lady at the right time to bring courage, comfort, and strength to her fellow Americans.In this compelling profile, biographer Antonia Felix traces Laura Bush's fascinating journey from her West Texas girlhood to the wife of the most powerful man in the free world. Ms. Felix conducted extensive primary research in Laura's hometown-including interviews with her mother, Jenna Welch-and creates a revealing, intimate portrait of this softspoken, down-to-earth woman who made People magazine's list of "50 most beautiful people in the world" and is a powerful, supportive force for President George W. Bush.

In Laura, readers learn:

How Laura survived a youthful tragedy that marred her childhood

The delights and difficulties of being First Lady

The joys and challenges of raising twin daughters

Why she is so committed to advancing literacy in America

Her personal mission as America's First Mother ... Read more

Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars A girl from west Texas
This book tell the life story of Laura Bush. She had a good
childhood in Midland Texas the same town as Geoge W Bush. Its
tell about the tragedy that she had in her childhood. Laura always wanted to be a teacher from the time she was little.
It tell about her work as the First Lady of Texas. Talk about
the run for President. Life in the White House. The Book
end with a look at Laura day on September 11, 2001.

1-0 out of 5 stars Wait for Next Year
Hi there. I have been definitely disappointed by this book. I swayed away from ultimately ordering it due to negative reviews of other readers, but then purchased it on an impulse later. My first inclination was the better one! If you've followed Laura in the news at all, then your knowledge will not be increased by reading this. There is virtually no new material between the covers. Really the only original content is based on interviews with Jenna Welch. I am not at all certain that the author ever interviewed Laura. Virually every, if not all, of her quotes are based on things published in magazines ("Newsweek" type interviews), press releases, and widely-publicized speeches.

Aspects such as the President's interaction with alcohol, Laura's career, her relationship with the Bushes, etc. are skimmed over in coverage. The most depth is granted to a description of the Texas Book Festival.

I have noted via Amazon.com that there are more biographies of Laura slated for release next year. Let's hope that one of them provides a more three-dimensional perspective on a doubtless interesting woman. Skip it!

4-0 out of 5 stars very interesting, informative book
I really liked this book. Even though I am more of a Democrat, I have always been intrigued by Laura Bush. This book really helped me to know so much more about her. She is a very interesting woman and I think this book does a good job of telling you all about her.

1-0 out of 5 stars The failure is not Laura's, but the author's. Don't Read.
Unfortunately, the book Laura fails to deliver what it promises. Although it provides some information, this is general information that can be found in magazine articles, etc. The two main problems with this book are that of omission of facts and an author that fails to approach the subject in an objective manner.

For example, the author asks (on page 1) whether Laura would "be able to bring a softer, gentler, more nurturing image to the position of First Lady?" Felix is Clinton bashing on page 1 and continues to do so throughout the book. Felix criticizes Hilary Clinton's aspirations as Senator from the the state of NY, as if these aspirations meant that Hilary was not as empathetic as Laura. Felix mentions all of Laura's work relating to the education of children. She does not mention Hilary's role with the Children's Defense Fund. Granted, this is not a book about Hilary, but if the author chooses to compare them, then she should do so objectively.

Felix treats Laura as your run of the mill woman who happens to be First Lady. Felix even supports her assertion by stating that Laura has continued to use her Dallas dress designer while in the White House. This is not the way an average woman dresses herself. Instead, she goes to a store and purchases things off of the rack. It is also worth noting that Laura used the internationally known designer, Scassi, for her wardrobe during her travels to Europe.

Laura's excess in the White House Christmas decorations also belies her "simple" tastes. She used over 100 Christmas trees in the White House and more than 500 wreaths. This far exceded the decorations of the previous administration. Of course, this excess may not seem inappropriate if the public could visit the White House during this time. They were not. Therefore, Laura's decorations were primarily meant to benefit the Bush family. (Perhaps some of that money could have been given to a victim's fund?)

This book does not identify any difficulties faced by the Bush family. Did Laura know about George's DWI and was she hiding this information. Do the daughters have a problem with alcohol abuse? (This would have been a perfect time for the President or the First Lady to stand up against teen-age alcohol use. They did not need to disclose the family discussions when making an effort to remedy a national problem.

It is also interesting that Laura has no dealings or concerns about the plight of gays and Lesbians in society. Is she insulated from the real world or does she simply not care.

The book lacks substance. It is simply a political press release for Republican women - pro-Laura. These women will give the book five stars. Have some women from an impoverished neighborhood read the book; they will likely have a different attitude.

Laura is the First Lady, but she's not my First Mother. Felix fawns over her subject to encourage sales and remain in favor of the Bush family. Not worth reading if you are looking for insightful information.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great way to get to know Laura!
I loved this book!! Since Sept 11th, Laura has been such a comforting person to me, so I grabbed this book right away when I saw it. It's really a wonderful way to get to know Laura. You get all kinds of details--about her childhood, her relationship with George W., and her work--that I've never read anywhere else. The author even interviewed Laura's mom, so you get all kinds of commentary from Laura's own mother!! I also loved the section of pictures of Laura from when she was a baby up to now. I'm a teacher, so I thought the parts about Laura's incredible commitment to education were fabulous. She's just an all-around amazing person. I've been recommending the book to everyone I know! ... Read more


144. A Life In Letters: Ann Landers' Letters to Her Only Child
by Margo Howard
list price: $22.00
our price: $22.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446533157
Catlog: Book (2003-11)
Publisher: Warner Books
Sales Rank: 735659
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

America's most beloved columnist shares 40 years of advice through letters to her only child, published here for the first time.In this witty, wise, and intensely personal collection of letters to her daughter Margo, Ann Landers delivers her own unintentional memoir. The volume is both a moving portrait of a mother/daughter relationship and a keen social history of America between 1958 and 2001. Peppered with incisive information and gossip, Esther "Eppie" Lederer (Landers' real name) offers insight on everything from marriage and divorce to growing up and growing old. A first-hand account of the myriad changes in attitudes and mores spanning the last half of the last century, readers will delight in Landers' signature practical wisdom and sharp eye for the absurd. As funny and loving as they are stern and acerbic, these letters reveal the real woman behind the Ann Landers moniker--a spectacularly original writer, wife, and mother. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book but ...
Unless you worship Ann Landers for years and know her background to some degree, this book may be quite anecdotal and a gathered pieces of personal events.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Read
Growing up I regularly read Ann Landers' column. I can even remember my favorite ones --- the one with the meatloaf recipe and the one about how to hang a roll of toilet paper. Living in a small town in New Jersey, I got a new perspective on the world from letters signed by people with signatures like Desperate in Dallas and Confused in Cincinnati. Sometimes I would howl at what people were asking while other times I was shocked at the depths of the problems that people shared.

Reading the column each day I formed a picture of Landers. When she passed away in 2002, I read the tributes to her and realized this was the end of an era.

A LIFE IN LETTERS: Ann Landers Letters to Her Only Child showed me another side of Landers. For here were the letters that personally defined her ---- those she wrote to her daughter Margo over forty-four years. Broken up into four sections, the book tells the story of a close mother/daughter relationship. Here, again in her own words, we come to know Esther "Eppie" Lederer (Landers' real name).

Whether she was giving Margo advice, checking in to see how she was or lavishing praise, Landers wrote with the tone of a well-meaning friend. The excitement that Landers felt in sharing her life with Margo is touchingly evident. Many of her notes to Margo were hurried pieces while others were long and leisurely, but all were personal and laced with love.

Margo has said, "I loved putting this collection together. And strange as it may sound, reading them all, together, was an entirely different experience than seeing them one at a time. A LIFE IN LETTERS - even for me - is like watching two lives unfolding."

The book is punctuated with notes from Margo that give background to the letters. At one point in her introduction she was astounded to learn that her mom had saved all of her letters, just as she had saved her mom's. It's clear that this writing ---and their relationship --- meant a lot to them both.

Readers also get a look at another side of Landers. We see a woman who was politically active and had a strong business sense. She had access to the powerful and the famous because of who she was --- people such as Walter Cronkite, Hubert Humphery and Cardinal Joseph Bernadin. She also believed in many causes and supported them with her time and her opinions.

There is enough reference to the feud between Landers and her twin sister, who penned the Dear Abby column for years, to be honest, but Landers takes the high road and remains a real lady.

Right after Landers' death, I clipped her meatloaf recipe from the paper and made it. After closing Margo's book I vowed to write more letters to my sons. Last week I was passing my older son's room and saw a recent IM session between us printed and tacked onto the wall. Sure instant communication like that is wonderful, but the preservation of letters like those in this book reminds me how much history we lose when we do not write.

Whether you are a Landers fan or just relish the chance to voyeur a very special relationship as it grows over the years, A LIFE IN LETTERS is a wonderful read.

--- Reviewed by Carol Fitzgerald ... Read more


145. John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography by the Boston Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best (Thorndike Press Large Print Biography Series)
by Michael Kranish, Brian C. Mooney, Nina J. Easton, Nina Easton
list price: $30.95
our price: $30.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786268158
Catlog: Book (2004-08-23)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 110890
Average Customer Review: 3.62 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This will be the only complete biography available for voters who want a thorough and objective look at the current frontrunner in the Democratic race for the presidency.

On Jan. 27, 2004, Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts accomplished one of the most spectacular turnarounds in modern American politics when he capped a surprise win in the Iowa caucus with a victory in the New Hampshire primary. The 2004 Democratic presidential nomination is now (in the words of Robert Novak) "John Kerry's to lose." Who is the man leading in the race to become the Democratic Party's nominee for president in 2004? And what kind of political leader is he?

The outlines of John Kerry's life are familiar: A decorated Vietnam veteran who became an influential, if unlikely, anti-war protester. A lanky 60-year-old who quenches his thirst for danger with high-speed kiteboarding, windsurfing, piloting, motorcycling, and, in some cases, driving. A senator with a reputation as an investigator and foreign policy expert. A man married to one of the richest women in America. But beyond this broad picture, Kerry is something of a mystery to the public, largely because of a complex yet riveting personal and professional history outlined in this book.

John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography , the first full and in-depth book about the candidate's life, is based on a highly regarded series on Kerry published in the Boston Globe, plus years of additional reporting. It will explore his background, his service in the military (including significant experiences omitted from Douglas Brinkley's bestselling Tour of Duty), his early legal and political career, his legislative record and the remarkable turnaround in his political fortunes during the 2004 election cycle. This incisive, frank look at Kerry's life, and at his strengths and liabilities, is important reading for anyone interested in the presidential campaign. ... Read more

Reviews (13)

3-0 out of 5 stars Not like Maraniss
I went out and bought this after Michiko Kakutani gave it a positive review
(New York Times, May 4, 2004). Because she compared the Boston Globe series
on John Kerry (by these authors) to a series by David Maraniss on Clinton in
the Washington Post, I was thinking it would be like "First in His Class",
a probing, interesting book.

I preferred Maraniss' detailed exploration of the formative period of Clinton's
life. Sixty pages into this book Kerry's already done with college; Maraniss
spends more than 200 pages on this same period of Clinton's life.

It does provide a detailed look at Kerry's political career in particular.
The book seems to try to be fair, by reporting material both for and against
Kerry. I would have preferred more analysis of the critics arguments, rather
than just taking them at face value.

For instance, on page 334, they mention Kerry supporting 1.5 billion in cuts
to intelligence over 5 years. But out of how much, and with what impact to
the existing program? A number like this is meaningless without this context.

All in all, it is a good, clear introduction to the stream of external events of
John F. Kerry's life.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Reporters View
Full Title: John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography By The Boston Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best -- I got this book the same day that I received a piece of hate e-mail about Kerry talking about the day in Viet Nam where he got "a bandaid and a Purple Heart." So I was interested to see what this book said about this incident.

I was pleased to see that the authors, reporters all, reported the incident in a manner that reflects cautious research. They seem to report, without a personal bias, what everyone they could find had to say. The book contained neither the venomous hatred of the e-mail, nor the gushing praise of a political press release. They do make the ocassional comment, 'we asked the Kerry campaign about this but received no reply.'
The rest of the book is done the same way, it neither praises nor condemns, it reports. It appears to be an excellent summary of the man's life. We will see, in the political silly season of the second half of 2004 lots of claims, accusations and downright lies. This book provides a good basis for trying to come up with the truth.

2-0 out of 5 stars Too obviously written by the reporters who dislike him most.
The book starts off strong. Kerry's childhood and family background are extremely interesting and tell much about the person he is today. Once the "biography" hits Kerry's college years, though, it stumbles. The authors make no bones about their feelings toward Mr. Kerry, which ruins much of their credibility. The reader should be left to his or her own skepticism or approval of Kerry's actions during college, his service in Vietnam, and his post-tour political activity; instead, the authors make their own doubts plain. This only gets worse as the authors troll Kerry's political and personal life since the mid 1970's. Had they stayed the course of the earlier part of the book, it may have been great; as is, it reads as a jealous valentine by the Globe staff. They never miss a chance to point out their own smug self-righteousness. It's too bad they didn't put their efforts toward demystifying an enigmatic public figure instead. Postscript: there are numerous grammatical errors in this book--much like one would find reading the Globe on any given day.

3-0 out of 5 stars Dissecting the Democratic Presidential Candidate in 2004
I have read many biographies of political candidates. Almost all such biographies are either puff pieces or hatchet jobs. This biography by contrast is of a different sort, a detailed "who," "what," "when," "why," and "how" the Democratic presidential candidate arrived where he is today. The look is a revealing one that will be helpful to those who want to make a more informed decision about whom to vote for in the coming election. It's well worth your time to read this book.

The authors are three reporters who developed a detailed series on Senator Kerry for the Boston Globe last year. Since then, the series has been expanded and extended to create this volume. The work is much more complete than I expected.

Although I am from Massachusetts, I didn't feel like I knew very much about Senator Kerry before reading this book. Now, I realize why I had this feeling. Senator Kerry hasn't really spent a lot of time in the state except during the period from when he first ran for the House of Representatives until he was elected to the Senate. His father was a foreign service official, and Senator Kerry often lived in foreign lands or at prep schools in either Switzerland or New Hampshire (the Saint Paul's school). He attended college at Yale (where he was a member of the select Skull and Bones) and left there for Vietnam. After he became a senator, most of his time was spent in Washington or in foreign travel. Senate President Billy Bulger used to kid Senator Kerry that part of his district was in Nicaragua.

The book told me quite a few things I didn't know. To me, a man named John Kerry is probably an Irish Catholic. Well, that's not the case. Senator Kerry knew that his father's parents came from Austria and had changed their names. But until the Globe did their research, he did not know that these grandparents had been Jews who converted to Catholicism to avoid persecution. In addition, and also not known to the senator, his paternal grandfather had earned and lost three fortunes and in despair committed suicide in the Copley Plaza hotel in Boston. I also didn't know about what his duty had been in Vietnam, and came away amazed that he survived the suicidal mission of running the small boats on small rivers to draw enemy fire. How awful it is that our men were asked to do that! During the primary campaigns last winter, I thought that the senator looked like someone suffering from cancer. But I didn't realize that he had just been operated on to remove an early stage cancer of the prostate. His family connections fascinated me, as well as his many contacts with famous politicians at an early age.

I also learned that Senator Kerry is a thorough, nuanced thinker who has trouble articulating his complex views into a three word "sound bite" that is so popular with television and newspaper reporters. That matched the impression I had of him when I spent a day at the U.S. Senate in 1987 meeting a number of the leaders there. My host was a Republican and Senator Kerry was the only Democrat invited to attend the function. Clearly, Senator Kerry had made an impression on his colleagues . . . with whom he often differed on foreign affairs.

I enjoyed reading about his visible role in the anti-Vietnam war movement, his attempt to broker peace in Nicaragua, his support for intervention in Serbia and questioning about the first Iraq war.

The book portrays Senator Kerry as an opportunist who is consumed totally by his passion to become president of the United States. I think that portrayal would probably apply to almost everyone who ever ran for president, so I didn't take much away from that point. I was more impressed by the way that he has been a conscience for our country in avoiding foreign conflicts (something George Washington also warned against), opposed institutional forces that can drive a nation to war against the will of its people and sought novel solutions to long-standing problems (such as normalizing relations with Vietnam).

I looked in vain in the book for a sense of his political platform during this election campaign. I had been very impressed by his thinking in reading the new book by Senator Kerry, A Call to Service: My Vision for a Better America, and looked in vain for references to his ideas in this book. I graded the book down one star for missing this obvious part of his biography.

I also faulted the book for failing to compare Senator Kerry to his obvious peer, the President of the United States, who followed him by two years at Yale. Those comparisons would have made the book fascinating reading.

May our nation make a brilliant decision in choosing who will lead us beginning in 2005.

5-0 out of 5 stars Balanced Bio of the Man Who Would be President
Thorough and fair biography of Senator Kerry, neatly crafted and presented for readers who might not ordinarily be interested in political tomes. Important reading for concerned Americans who plan to vote in November. ... Read more


146. Natalie Wood: A Life (Random House Large Print)
by GAVIN LAMBERT
list price: $28.95
our price: $19.69
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Asin: 0375433155
Catlog: Book (2004-01-13)
Publisher: Random House Large Print
Sales Rank: 609563
Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

She spent her life in the movies. Her childhood is still there to see in Miracle on 34th Street. Her adolescence in Rebel Without a Cause. Her coming of age? Still playing in Splendor in the Grass and West Side Story and countless other hit movies. From the moment Natalie Wood made her debut in 1946, playing Claudette Colbert and Orson Welles’s ward in Tomorrow Is Forever at the age of seven, to her shocking, untimely death in 1981, the decades of her life are marked by movies that–for their moments–summed up America’s dreams.

Now the acclaimed novelist, biographer, critic and screenwriter Gavin Lambert, whose twenty-year friendship with Natalie Wood began when she wanted to star in the movie adaptation of his novel Inside Daisy Clover, tells her extraordinary story. He writes about her parents, uncovering secrets that Natalie either didn’t know or kept hidden from those closest to her. Here is the young Natalie, from her years as a child actress at the mercy of a driven, controlling stage mother (“Make Mr. Pichel love you,” she whispered to the five-year-old Natalie before depositing her unexpectedly on the director’s lap), to her awkward adolescence when, suddenly too old for kiddie roles, she was shunted aside, just another freshman at Van Nuys High. Lambert shows us the glamorous movie star in her twenties—All the Fine Young Cannibals, Gypsy and Love with the Proper Stranger. He writes about her marriages, her divorces, her love affairs, her suicide attempt at twenty-six, the birth of her children, her friendships, her struggles as an actress and her tragic death by drowning (she was always terrified of water) at forty-three.
For the first time, everyone who knew Natalie Wood speaks freely–including her husbands Robert Wagner and Richard Gregson, famously private people like Warren Beatty, intimate friends such as playwright Mart Crowley, directors Robert Mulligan and Paul Mazursky, and Leslie Caron, each of whom told the author stories about this remarkable woman who was both life-loving and filled with despair.

What we couldn’t know–have never been told before–Lambert perceptively uncovers. His book provides the richest portrait we have had of Natalie Wood.
... Read more

Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars Natalie Wood: A Life
After having read all of the reviews I felt I must make my statement. Do "you" really think R.J. and his "family" would have authorized this book by Gavin Lambert if everything he wrote about had not been thoroughly checked out? Personally, I know that when Gavin interviewed me he was extremely thorough. For many many months he continued to e-mail me questions of all types. Also, during a luncheon with R.J.,Natasha, Courtney, Gavin and Mart I was able through interesting stories about the "family" to confirm many things for them. Take this as you will----- I know this is the most accurate account of Natalie's ( my half-sister) life.

1-0 out of 5 stars Natalie Wood
I waited to read this book and was totally disgusted with it. It was more of a history about her mother (who was no doubt certifiable). Ms Wood dedicated her life, for good or for bad, to the Screen. The least this author could have done was not towrite it like someone was standing over his shoulder!

1-0 out of 5 stars Suspicious circumstances
I do not understand why certain critics who are acquaintances of Mr. Lambert's have described this as an affectionate book about actress Natalie Wood. It is not a sympathetic portrait of Miss Wood' in fact, Mr. Lambert blames her for the tragic events in her life when she's not alive to defend herself. He also goes out of his way to attack her mother and her sister in what seems to be a personal vendetta while at the same time falsely glorifying rv actor Robert Wagner, who he admits is a long time friend of his. There would be no need to remember Miss Wood in a book at this time had she not drowned under suspicious circumstances that Mr. Wagner obviously wishes to conceal. It is clear that Mr. Lambert's true loyalty is to Robert Wagner, not to Natalie Wood.

2-0 out of 5 stars Lambert's Slide
The once witty and insightful, if not bitchy, Lambert has written
a book which, after reading, made me feel cheated and as if the KGB was in on a deal to black out truths and had preposterous quotes from a gang of bit players like Donfeld, who has a vivid imagination in regards to his closeness to Ms.Wood.As a result,
Lambert ends up depending way too much time dodging the really
"adult" Wood and how much she was loved as a person and of all the speculations by people she, in fact, disliked intensely and
how little cooperation those closest to her leant to the writing
of her life.Lambert adds tidbits of gay sex,drugs,rumors and a
hodpodge of junk which ultimately results in a "tell all" kind of tabloid piece of junk.Discussions with groups who knew her and read the book are all as disappointed that Lambert took on the task knowing full well that he was not going to get any real cooperation from those who could have filled in the huge voids of her "real" life.He puts so much weight of the book on her mother's involvement, the book is topheavy with uninteresting Russian history and mama Maria's evil ways.Another book one day will be written with the real truth behind her final days.

4-0 out of 5 stars Natalie Wood: A Life
As a fan of Natalie Wood's movies and as someone who has great respect and admiration for her as a person, I've been waiting more than half my life for Robert Wagner and his daughters to participate in a book about her or write one themselves. Sensationalism and contrived melodrama have no place in a good biography, and thankfully, you won't find them here. What this book delivers is a snapshot of the woman (flaws and all) without the exploitation of the other biographies. Natalie Wood wasn't perfect. She drank too much and took too many pills (the downfalls of countless studio greats). Mainly, though, she suffered the mental and emotional effects of a youth that made it difficult for her to define herself separate from the movie star. But those imperfections aren't all that she was. She was also a talented, charming, witty, kind, and compassionate woman who empathized with the underdog, used film to expose and confront taboos, loved her husband and daughters tremendously, and spent her short life trying to rise above the demons that haunted her. That's what makes her so interesting. And it's only the author's respect for his subject and the participation of Robert, Courtney, and Natasha Gregson Wagner that make it possible to clearly portray that classically human contradiction. No one can ever tell a complete life story, not even the person who lived it. But how can you even strive for accuracy without talking to the people who knew her best and loved and respected her most?

I have only two complaints (hence the four stars and not five). Although competent and often engaging, Gavin Lambert isn't a great writer. His prose shifts tense, which is distracting, and he editorializes when he should quote the people he's describing.

And yes, I also wish we could have heard more from Natalie Wood herself. Perhaps she didn't leave many interviews to choose from, but Lambert refered too much to that AFI interview without using enough of what she actually said. ... Read more


147. Merv: Making the Good Life Last (Thorndike Press Large Print Biography Series)
by Merv Griffin, David Bender
list price: $30.95
our price: $30.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786253533
Catlog: Book (2003-05-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 634304
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In this brilliant, funny, gossipy, and revealing memoir, full of great stories and even better advice, one of America's most beloved and popular show business and television figures tells the story of his "retirement" years, in which he made billions and became an even bigger celebrity than ever.


F. Scott Fitzgerald's famous observation that "there are no second acts in American lives" only goes to show that he never met Merv Griffin, whose life is proof positive that not only can you have a smashing second act, but that a brilliant third act is quite possible as well.

Merv: Making the Good Life Last is the quintessential Horatio Alger story of a young man born into modest circumstances who, through hard work, unshakable self-confidence, and an unfailingly positive attitude, dreams his way to the top.

And then he retires and does it again.

Now, at seventy-seven, he is doing it still, reinventing himself and his life in new and extraordinary ways, and enjoying it more than ever.

For millions of Americans, the life of Merv Griffin defines success -- a life lived first on stages all over the world as a band singer and Top-Ten recording artist, then for twenty-three years on television screens as host of the Emmy Award-winning Merv Griffin Show. He created and launched the two most successful syndicated game shows in television history, Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, which would become the models for hundreds of syndicated television series in the decades to follow.

Today, he is an entrepreneurial powerhouse who oversees a multibillion-dollar business empire that includes hotels, film and television production companies, and an event-management firm. He is also a supremely happy man who knows how to enjoy his success and his life.

As he himself once described the single most important quality of a successful host, Merv Griffin was "every mother's favorite son-in-law." Indeed, to two generations of Americans who watched and listened to him through their adolescence and well into adulthood, he became the father-brother-uncle we all loved. He made us laugh, he made us think, he made us pay attention to some of the most fascinating people of the last half of the twentieth century. Merv Griffin was the great American listener who asked the questions of celebrities we would all like to have asked, and knew how to make them open up -- and laugh.

Now, in Merv: Making the Good Life Last, Merv tells us at last what he thinks about his life and his success and how he does what most of us only dream about: inventing and reinventing a life of fun, fame, and fortune. In this candid and insightful memoir -- with his trademark wit infusing the narrative -- he shares with the reader the true story of his phenomenal success as a businessman and entrepreneur who has achieved that rare trifecta in American enterprise: to be wealthy, well liked, and well respected, all at the same time.

With the graciousness and charm that have firmly established him as one of the preeminent television hosts of our time, Merv takes the reader behind the scenes and into his fabulous world: cruising the Mediterranean on his 165-foot yacht, the Griff; flying down to Rio on his own Challenger jet; touring his hotel properties across America and around the world, including a twelfth-century manor house in Ireland.

Merv: Making the Good Life Last is a great American success story, and great entertainment for Griffin's many generations of fans. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

3-0 out of 5 stars Beware of the Title
The order page is deceiving.There is the "Other Editions" heading and then there is the "Other Offers" heading.Merv Griffin wrote two autobiographies both titled "Merv", however,one was written in the 1980's and then there is the recent one.When you check on the "Other Offers" it doesn't differentiate to let you know that you are purchasing the 20-year old book.

1-0 out of 5 stars Did Not Serve in WWII
While more than 400,000 of his peer group were killed (and another 786,301 wounded), he states that he missed out on WWII because he was in the "4F" category (i.e., physically unfit).

He then goes on to make hundreds of millions of dollars during the next forty years, thus benefiting directly from those who paid the price for his freedom, yet writes about absolutely NOTHING that he did, is doing, or will do, for veterans?!

It's a shame.

4-0 out of 5 stars A DOWN-HOME SCION
I have always enjoyed Merv Griffin and watched many of his TV shows.This autobiography tells about many of his achievements and a few failures.Merv's attitude is always on the bright side and I believe that iswhy he is so successful.Bravery and risk taking is part of the mix, but relationships are his strong points and he has many interesting stories to tell.A fun read.

3-0 out of 5 stars GREAT TALES AND CHATTER ... UNTIL THE LAST CHAPTER
Like the man who "wrote" it (he had help from co-author David Bender), Merv Griffin's "Making the Good Life Last" is an entertaining, conversational confection chockfull of stories and anecdotes about his life in show business. This book is, in many ways, a sequel to Merv's best-selling autobioraphy of a couple of decades ago. "Good Life" picks up when that tome left off, with Merv reinventing himself as a businessman and, eventually, as one of the world's richest men. There are great Tallulah tales, and delightful stories about Al Pacino, Vanna White, Orson Welles, Clint Eastwood, Cary Grant, Lucille Ball, Eva Gabor, Nancy and Ron, Donald Trump, Ted Koppel and Errol Flynn ... who Merv met while the actor was nude. "Now how shall I put this?" Merv muses. "I think it's fair to say that Flynn brandished a sword both on and off the screen." It's all warm and witty and cozy chatter from someone who feels like a friend. Until the last chapter. There, Merv starts to spout off about how much money he has ... not in dollar amounts, but in boastful brags. There's too much talk about buying jets, yachts, hotels and casinos, of building this house and that house (with "house" sometimes meaning "ranch" or "compound"), of having marble and tile imported from across the world, of collecting horses and priceless art works by French Impressionists and Colorists, of having an associate deposit a check for $273 million ("the interest alone was $50,000 a day"), when most senior citizens at the same bank that day were depositing their monthly Social Security check for "$400 or $500 at most." This is when Merv needs to be tuned out and turned off. "Making the Good Life Last" is good ...until the last drop. ... Read more


148. John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth (Thorndike Press Large Print Biography Series)
by Michael Munn
list price: $30.95
our price: $30.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786265833
Catlog: Book (2004-06-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 118479
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

No legend ever walked taller than Hollywood icon John Wayne. Now, author Michael Munn's startling new biography sets the record straight on why Wayne didn't serve in World War II, on director John Ford's contribution to Wayne's career, and the mega-star's highs and lows: three failed marriages, and two desperate battles with cancer. Munn also discloses publicly, for the first time, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's plot to assassinate Wayne because of his outspoken, potentially influential anti-Communist views. Drawing on time spent with Wayne on the set of Brannigan- and almost 100 interviews with those who knew him-Munn's rare, behind-the-scenes look proves this "absolute all-time movie star" was as much a hero in real life as he ever was on-screen. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful tribute to a man larger than life
This is a "must read" for any John Wayne fan. The book is written with a deftness and style similar to the character of the man of whom it portrays. Munn is a self-described fan, yet is able to depict Wayne in a realistic light while using great sensitivity and care. The book is based largely on Munn's personal interviews (spanning several years) with John Wayne's colleagues and more importantly, the Duke himself, which lends credibility to his words. I have come away from this book not only with an historical view into John Wayne's career, but also with a great sense of respect for Waynes's honesty and "no-nonsense" approach to life. His love for his country is more than admirable, especially now in such times of partisanship and complacency. Sadly, John Wayne's era has gone by the wayside so kudos to Michael Munn for keeping his spirit alive. ... Read more


149. Saddam: King of Terror (Thorndike Press Large Print Biography Series)
by Con Coughlin
list price: $30.95
our price: $30.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 078625775X
Catlog: Book (2003-10-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 1008432
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

An unprecedented biography, drawn from the author's exclusive access to high-ranking defectors, intelligence officials, and even Saddam's own relatives -- fully illustrated with photos from his early life to the present

Two weeks before September 11, 2001, Saddam Hussein placed his troops on their highest military alert since the Gulf War. As al-Qaeda terrorists set their attacks on America in motion, the Iraqi dictator was prepared to go to war for a second time with the United States. How did an illegitimate child from Tikrit become the West's greatest adversary, and one of the most dangerous and murderous dictators of modem times?

Saddam: King of Terror is the most insightful and illuminating portrait of the Iraqi president to date-and a fascinating study of the making of a tyrant. Con Coughlin, executive editor of London's award-winning Sunday Telegraph, has covered the Middle East for decades -- on the front lines, narrowly escaping kidnapping and violence. He has cultivated exclusive contacts among the Western intelligence community and numerous defectors from Saddam's inner circles -- including former generals, political associates, and bodyguards as well as childhood friends. Coughlin knew immediately that American and British declarations of war against terrorism after the September 11th attacks would sooner rather than later encompass Saddam Hussein as well as Osama bin Laden. Coughlin shows that any operation against terrorism will be incomplete as long as Saddam remains in power -- that international policies will have to change from cautious tolerance to active intervention, a change that is already becoming a reality.

Coughlin also provides the first complete portrait of Saddam's childhood ever published, compiled from the author's inter-views with Saddam's contemporaries and relatives who have never before spoken publicly about him According to Coughlin, Saddam has a younger sister no one knew about, and he idolizes his mother, although his childhood was deeply marred by his shame about being fatherless. From his earliest years, he looked to his mother's brother as a father figure, and Coughlin tells how it was this uncle who first introduced Saddam to a life of crime and political rebellion. Saddam: King of Terror meticulously traces Saddam's bloody rise to power, from Saddam's first murder and his time in prison, to an eyewitness account of Saddam storming Iraqs presidential palace in a tank, to his almost feral ruthlessness in disposing of his opponents, even dose friends and relatives, to create his regime -- a complex mechanism in which family and tribe are central, held together by Saddam's carefully orchestrated reign of fear.

In Saddam: King of Terror, we see both the bizarre, almost pathological behavior of an international pariah and the unshakable power of a tyrant who has defied the world's censure and holds a nation in his grasp.

... Read more

Reviews (17)

4-0 out of 5 stars Saddam on Stalin:"I like the way he governed his country."
"[I]mmediately after the 1968 revolution he [Saddam] had been regarded by many Baathists as the 'weakest link' in the party."Funny, that's just what the Bolsheviks said about Stalin while Lenin, Trotsky, Bukharin, et al.consolidated power in the Soviet Union.Over the next 5 years Saddam spent his time, in his words, "dealing with the jackals."Like Stalin, he was mightily successful too; for during this period "he had eradicated all his main rivals, be they friend or foe, and had nuetralized the factions hostile to the Baath government, such as the Kurds and the Shiites."This catapulted him into position as the most powerful man in Iraq below President Bakr, having just engineered Iraq's nationalization of foreign oil interests in the country; a gambit made possible by Valery Giscard d'Estaing (then French trade minister, later to become French president) who assured Saddam that France would not join in a threatened Western governmental boycott of future Iraqi oil exports, IF FRENCH INTERESTS WERE NOT HARMED.3 years later France agrees to sell Iraq a nuclear reactor. Said Saddam publicly at the time: "The agreement with France is the first concrete step toward production of the Arab atomic bomb."Concurrently, at this time Saddam buys Iran off from their support of Kurdish resistance efforts by acknowledging Iran's rights over the Shatt al-Arab waterway separating their two countries.5 years later, upon the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, Saddam renounces this agreement (now that the Kurds have been pacified) and invades Iran on september 22, 1980.Iran, in an initial response, fails in an attempt to bomb Iraq's al Tuwaitha---not yet active---nuclear site; the same site Israel, in june of 1981, successfully hits just days before it was scheduled to go Hot.In 1982, while Israel is taking a pounding from guerillas in Southern Lebanon, Abu Nidal---then headquartered in Iraq---engineers a hit on the Israeli ambassador in London.The assassination attempt fails, but provokes Israel to show strenth & deal with their border by invading Lebanon.Saddam immediately call for a cease-fire with Iran so as to join forces against the greater evil; ie., "Jewish imperialism." To which Ayatollah Khomeini says, if effect, Go fish; dismissing outright the idea of a cease-fire, now that Iran seemingly has the upper hand militarily.Just maybe, people are beginning to think that Iraq may be on the ropes; that a fanatical Islamic Iran just may subdue its much smaller neighbor Iraq.This in quick succession from the American hostage debacle that cost Jimmy Carter his presidency & the mass bombing murder (in early 1983) of U.S. Marines in Beirut on Khomeini's orders.In the context of the time, thus, must be seen President Reagan's sending of Donald Rumsfeld to Baghdad in 1984 to guard against a decisive victory by Iran against Iraq. (To all the moralist naysayers, remember that in his efforts to stop Hitler at all costs FDR too aided unsavory Joseph Stalin---who deliberately starved and/or had murdered over 5 million of his own people just previous in the 1930s. U.S efforts in support of Saddam, moreover, were nowhere on such a scale either.) So Saddam fights on until he exhausts Iran; getting his cease-fire (july 1988) after 8 years of war.Virtually bankrupted, with 50% of his oil revenues going to service an $80 Billion! war debt, Saddam instead decides to expropriate Kuwait's wealth & just up and invades it 23 months later.In the cease-fire agreement with U.S.-led UN forces the following year Saddam gives his word to renounce his chemical/biological/nuclear programs and provide a complete accounting for such.Thence 12 years of stonewalling later George W. Bush "rushed to war." How coincidental that "Saddam" in arabic means "the one who confronts"; so, well done Mr. Coughlin, in categorizing such. (05Feb) Cheers!

5-0 out of 5 stars mesmerising and honest
as we watch with bated breath American troops and their Iraqi proxies fight tooth and nail to take the insurgent strong-hold of Fallujah in Iraq so i counsel all who care about what happens in this crucible to read and study carefully this magnificent book by the world's leading expert on Saddam Hussein. First, what this is not. In a new foreword Mr Coughlin admits with admirable honesty how he was taken as a fool by theshadowy people who live in the secret world of the spies. They fed him what he calls lies and he swallowed them as did others in a less exalted position. no excuses there then and now mr Coughlin says he wished he had known there were no weapons of mass destruction. Be that as it might mr Coughlin argues with real logic the West had to take out Saddam. I take issue with him not on the why but the how. surely our own elite forces, aided by the British and others, could have gone in quietly and done for him and his friends and family. had that happened we could have avoided the mess of today. that is only my viwqw it is a small objection to what is a wonderful guide to Iraq. Well done!

4-0 out of 5 stars A detailed portrait of a vile dictator

In the middle of the year 2002, under the leadership of President George W. Bush, it had become clear to the nation that the U.S.-led war on terror would be expanding its measures to encompass the very heart of the middle east: the fertile crecent, Iraq. As a political science-broadcast journalism double major I found it most pertinent to make my opinion an educated one in regards to where I stand in the war on terror--and more specifically with the war on Iraq.
Con Coughlin's book was a milestone in my understanding of the life of Saddam Hussein (from his tragic childhood onward), the premises of the Gulf War, and the underlying facts of what seemed to me to be 'Gulf Wars: Episode II,' as the popular parody poster reads. It was smart, fast-paced, and not insulting to my intelligence like many historic journals that are not written for accomplished historians tend to be.
I am proud to say that after reading that book, written by an English Journalist, I know exactly where I stand in the war on terror and can honestly vouch that my vote will not be with Kerry. Historically, The Liberal America has been weak on National Security. Alger Hiss was made Secretary of State by Frank Roosevelt well after the FBI had produced documents declaring him a Soviet Spy. After Russian codes were effectively discovered and de-coded, the myth became fact and Hiss was arrested. Shortly after his release he received a standing ovation at Stanford University. Liberals also condemned Reagan for winning the cold war.
After reading 'Saddam: King of Terror,' I will not allow my country to be given to a group of people whom to this day still put the War on Terror in quotation marks. Finally, we have a president willing to put horrible, brutal, monsters to abrupt meetings with justice and will not let a coalition of interest groups interfere with the interests of the nation.
My only criticism of the book is the lack of chronological continuity. The text tends to jump from time to time here in there with confuses the flow of reading. On top of that, it throws a lot of Iraqi groups, organizations, and Arab names at you and expects you to remember them throughout the course of the book. My suggestion: take brief notes.


Interesting fact:Next to her husband, Eleonore Roosevelt's favorite man in the world was none other than Joseph Stalin, a man guilty of killing over 20,000,000 Georgians during his reign as Russian Premier.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Timely Biography of a Vile Gangster
Con Coughlin's biography of Saddam Hussein is very well written.Coughlin eloquently reveals Saddam Hussein's true colors - colors that should dispel the liberal illusion that regime change in Iraq was wrong.In addition, Coughlin writes for London's Sunday Telegraph.His reporting is top-notch, his insights invaluable.A recent report of his was that of a hand written memo discovered by the Iraqi Governing Council addressed to Saddam Hussein, written by Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, saying that Mohammed Atta (chief 9/11 hijacker) has completed his training w/Abu Nidal in Baghdad and is now ready to "destroy the targets we seek to destroy".The truth hurts - especially for liberal propagandists.This book is a succint and eloquent biography of one of history's most egregious tyrants.

1-0 out of 5 stars This book is a sham
I recently purchased Con Coughlin's Saddam: King of Terror after reading Saddam Hussein: A Political Biogrpahy by Efraim Karsh and Inauri Rautsi.When I began reading Coughlin's book, certain phrases sounded rather familiar.Most of the material covered is exactly the same as Karsh and Rautsi's book with only a few minor differences.But far more importantly, on further investigation I found, without question, Mr. Coughlin is guilty of flat-out plagiarism.Whole phrases and passages are taken virtually word for word (and in some cases exactly word for word, without even adjusting the phrasing) from Karsh and Rautsi's Saddam Hussein: A Political Biography.For example, if you have access to a copy of Karsh and Rautsi's book, compare p. 153, (third paragraph) with Coughlin's p. 194 from the middle of the first full paragraph, beginning with "This guns-and-butter policy..."It's a shameless straight plagiarism!Notice Coughlin's book has no reviews on the back cover, an obvious tipoff to the dubious nature of this sham of a book. It is obvious that Coughlin has recycled, and in some instances blatantly plagiarized information that was carefully researched by other authors. Don't spend $27 on this book.I recommendEfraim Karsh and Inauri Rautsi's Saddam Hussein: A Political Biography. ... Read more


150. Atravesando Fronteras: LA Autobiografia De UN Periodista En Busca De Su Lugar En El Mundo (Trans: Crossing Borders ...Thorndike Press Lager Print Spanish)
by Jorge Ramos
list price: $29.95
our price: $29.95
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Asin: 0786260831
Catlog: Book (2004-02-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 1014932
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151. Old Man River and Me: One Man's Journey Down the Mighty Mississippi
by Mark A. Knudsen, Shawn Plank
list price: $26.95
our price: $26.95
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Asin: 0753152096
Catlog: Book (2001-03-01)
Publisher: ISIS Large Print Books
Sales Rank: 983762
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Mark Knudsen is an adventurer who built an eighteen-foot flat-bottom johnboat and motored down the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico and lived the dream of many people. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining ride down the Mississippi
If you can't go down the Mississippi yourself, tag along with Knudsen!Meet the "river rats," see the sights, and even smell life on the river as Knudsen found it in 1993.I found this book to be entertainingAND educational.I hope Knudsen has other trips planned so I can journeyalong with him again. ... Read more


152. St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography (Thorndike Press Large Print Biography Series)
by Philip Freeman
list price: $29.45
our price: $29.45
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Asin: 0786265949
Catlog: Book (2004-06-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 969835
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Ireland's patron saint has long been shrouded in legend: he drove the snakes out of Ireland; he triumphed over Druids and their supernatural powers; he used a shamrock to explain the Christian mystery of the Trinity. But his true story is more fascinating than the myths. We have no surviving image of Patrick, but we do have two remarkable letters that he wrote about himself and his beliefs -- letters that tell us more about the heart and soul of this man than we know about almost any of his contemporaries. In St. Patrick of Ireland Philip Freeman brings the historic Patrick and his world vividly to life.

Born in Britain late in the fourth century to an aristocratic family, Patrick was raised as a Roman citizen and a nominal Christian, destined for the privileged life of the nobility.But just before his sixteenth birthday, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and abducted to Ireland, where he spent six lonely years as a slave, tending sheep. Trapped in a foreign land, despondent, and at the mercy of his master, Patrick's ordeal turned him from an atheist to a true believer. After a vision in which God told him he would go home, Patrick escaped captivity and, following a perilous journey, returned to his astonished parents. Even more astonishing was his announcement that he intended to go back to Ireland and devote the rest of his life to ministering to the people who had once enslaved him.

One of Patrick's two surviving letters is a declaration written to jealous British bishops in defense of his activities in Ireland; the other is a stinging condemnation of a ruthless warlord who attacked and killed some of Patrick's Irish followers. Both are powerful statements remarkable for their passion and candor. Freeman includes them in full in new translations of his own.

Combining Patrick's own heartfelt account of his life as he revealed it himself with the turbulent history of the British Isles in the last years of the Roman Empire, St. Patrick of Ireland brilliantly brings to life the real Patrick, shorn of legend, and shows how he helped to change Irish history and culture. ... Read more

Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Magical and Poetic Work of Art!!
I was shocked at how beautiful this biography turned out to be! I expected a lot of non-essential information, but there was a wealth of information on the real man who was St. Patrick.The author is a 'wielder of words' and really drew me into the life and times of St. Patrick.A lovely, highly-readable, and now very treasured book in my library!

4-0 out of 5 stars The Truth about St. Patrick
In regard to the life of St. Patrick, there are a lot of misconceptions.It is a myth that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland.Even if this were true, it would not necessarily qualify him as a saint.Myths such as this were written only to further St. Patrick's legacy.St. Patrick is recognized as having brought Christianity to Ireland with dedication that could only have come from God.In his book, Philip Freeman, tells what we know to be the truth about the saint's life based on his personal letters.

Few people remember that Patrick was actually a British nobleman.At sixteen years of age, he was kidnapped from his homeland to be taken to Ireland in slavery.He spent six years in slavery before the voice of God told him how to escape.Escaping as worker on a cargo ship despite insurmountable odds, St. Patrick is able to return to his homeland.When he returns home, God informs him in a dream that he must return to Ireland to spread the Good News of the Lord.This was a job that few Christians wanted as Ireland was run by savage pagans.St. Patrick followed God's call and studied to become a deacon, then priest, before becoming the bishop of Ireland.His work is phenomenal because he reached so many people, most by preaching to individuals.While his education was more limited than many clergymen of his time, the simple truths he taught built a great nation of Christianity.

In the book, Freeman gives the best possible account of St. Patrick's life as the sparse records of the past will allow.Unlike other biographers, he does not embellish the life of this saint.Freeman's voice seems very removed from the subject as he writes giving the book a very impersonal feeling.I also object to the redundancy in Freeman's writing as he often repeats himself and goes for pages only writing about Patrick's era not St. Patrick himself.While I do not fault him for the limited amount of imformation on the saint's life, straying from the subject of St. Patrick's life for long periods of the book is inexcusable.That being said, the book is accurate and a easy read.

5-0 out of 5 stars More than your money's worth
Philip Freeman's biography on St. Patrick is an excellent read.The reader receives a very enriching view on the Patrick of history, rather than the Patrick of legend, which is precisely what I was looking for.Freeman's prose is academic and very thought provoking, without being so academic that it prones one to narcolepsy or repetitive trips to the thesaurus.It easily holds one's interest, but leaves the reader desiring more information.This desire is not a result of any fault of the author's, rather than the limited available information on St. Patrick.Should one seek further knowledge on the saint, Freeman helps the reader's search by providing a detailed Suggested Reading section for each chapter and aspect of Patrick's life and ministry.
There is a pleasant surprise contained in this book, which I appreciated most.That surprise is the treasure-trove of additional information on Celtic society and history within and without Ireland, Roman civilization throughout the Empire, early church structure, theology, and politics, and numerous other jewels.Freeman doesn't just settle on simply telling the story of a great man.He paints the world that Patrick lived in and struggled against to rise as a great historical figure.The author doesn't paint the picture of Patrick's greatness.The reader arrives at this conclusion on his or her own, by reading this great book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Biography of the Man, St. Patrick.
Although the holiday bearing his name has become associated with legend and myth, St. Patrick, the man, lived such a life that warrants admiration and commendation from Christians everywhere.The man behind the myths exemplifies the Christian life of sacrifice, reliance on God, love and passion for souls, and unfoundering hope in eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Philip Freeman's book St. Patrick of Ireland presents the life and times of St. Patrick.Patrick's story is inspiring and astonishing.It reads like an addition to the Book of Acts in the Bible.

Patrick was born in Britain in the late fourth century to an aristocratic family.Irish marauders kidnapped him from his home when he was 15 years old and took him as a slave to Ireland.He labored endlessly for six years before escaping and returning to Britain and his family.

Patrick had atheistic beliefs when kidnapped, but during the course of his slavery he was transformed into a devout Christian, burning with love for Christ.After several years of religious study, Patrick willingly journeyed back to Ireland on a mission to share the message of salvation with a godless people known for their barbarianism and paganism which he had experienced first hand.

Freeman tells the story of Patrick's life from information garnered from the two writings left by Patrick.These are two letters Patrick wrote from Ireland to Britain that relate significant events of his ministry and life in simple, honest language.Freeman also references other historical texts and archeological discoveries to explain the culture of Patrick's world.

Freeman displays his expertise in Irish history by offering the reader a comprehensive picture of the cultures in which Patrick lived.Freeman is a professor of Classics at Washington University in St. Louis and earned his Ph. D. in Classical Philology and Celtic Studies from Harvard University.His expertise in Irish history is apparent by his writing.He adroitly fills in many of the blanks concerning Patrick's life.

This biography illustrates the ordeals and sufferings of Patrick while a slave and while a missionary in Ireland, as well as highlighting his amazing accomplishments.At every turn Patrick faced opposition from Satan and from men.Freeman's writing reveals Patrick's closeness to God by emphasizing portions of Patrick's two letters that Freeman interpreted and included in full in this book.

Through Patrick's own words, we see his enthusiasm and love for the Irish.His words are reminiscent of Paul's writings to the Thessalonians and Philippians.They are the words of a shepherd about and to his sheep.

In his letter of confession, Patrick writes of his compulsion to preach to the Irish, "I must proclaim my good news, I must pay God back in some way for all that he has done for me here on earth and what he will do in eternity-blessings no one can even imagine...The love of Christ carried me here to be a help to these people for the rest of my life."

Freeman's biography of Patrick tells a story of transformation-the transformation of a selfish boy to a Christian man and the transformation of a pagan people to a people brimming with love for Christ.This story will change your perspective of the Christian life and will give you a reason to celebrate St. Patrick's Day as a day of devotion to God.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Man--Not the Legend
It is nearly impossible to separate fact from legend when dealing with a figure like St. Patrick.And yet, if we are to find meaning in the lives of the saints so they can help us in our own striving, isn't it important to at least try to find the reality behind the stories?If it is, then Mr. Freeman has produced something very nice here.

If the truth be told, finding the facts about anyone living 1600 years ago is next to an impossible task.But, surprisingly, we do have a certain number of facts about Patrick: he was born to a relatively well-off family in Britain, was captured and sold as a slave in Ireland where he stayed for six years tending sheep until he escaped back to Britain where he was reunited with his family.Clearly his captivity opened Patrick's religious spirit and, after spending a number of years training with the Church, he returned to Ireland where he was bishop for the rest of his life doing his utmost to convert the natives.

Of course, this brief story is not enough to satisfy the human need for the extraordinary in their heroes--particularly religious ones--so stories quickly built up around Patrick: miracles & snakes & druids.But Mr. Freeman puts these aside very quickly and focuses only on what we can be relatively certain about with Patrick.Instead of legend he gives us historical background, quotes from contemporaries, and minimal speculation.I also enjoyed reading Patrick's two letters in the epilogue which Mr. Freeman quotes extensively in his text.I hadn't realized Patrick had produced any writings that survived.

All in all, this book is an excellent experience.Brief, certainly, (only 150 pages of original text) but deeply satisfying.Personally, I am more inspired by a human story than a miraculous one and this is the story that we get here. ... Read more


153. The Story of My Life (Dover Large Print Classics)
by Helen Keller, Hellen Keller
list price: $7.95
our price: $7.16
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Asin: 0486422496
Catlog: Book (2002-04-01)
Publisher: Dover Publications
Sales Rank: 347023
Average Customer Review: 4.15 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Left blind, deaf, and mute after an illness in infancy, Helen Keller overcame her disabilities with the help of Anne Sullivan, her inspired teacher. Her classic autobiography, first published in 1903, covers her first 22 years, including the memorable moment at a water pump when she first made the connection between the word "water" and the cold liquid flowing over her hand. She also discusses her friendships with Oliver Wendell Holmes and other notables, her education at Radcliffe, her joy at learning to speak, and above all, her extraordinary relationship with her teacher. This deeply moving memoir, full of love and compassion for others, offers an unforgettable portrait of one of the twentieth century's most remarkable women.
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Reviews (46)

5-0 out of 5 stars A STORY WORTH TELLING
I first read this book in 6th grade. I have read it several times in the intervening years, the most recent time being within the past one year.

Helen Keller, blind and deaf since the age of 1 1/2 has offered, in her own words an accounting of her life experience. It is incredible to imagine how this woman, unable to see or hear can give such a strong voice to descriptions of nature. The book is replete with beautiful, articulate metaphors that draw the reader into the world as Helen knew it. One wonders how a person with no language can "think," and Helen provides some clues. During these "dark days," prior to the arrival of her "Teacher," Annie Sullivan, Helen's life was a series of desires and impressions. She could commnicate by a series of crude signs she and her parents had created. She demonstrated early on that she could learn.

I like the way Helen herself takes her readers past that water pump when she learned that "all things have a name." Instead of getting stuck there, Helen takes her readers on the journey of her life to that point.

In addition to having a good linguistic base, Helen also demonstrates having a phenomenal memory. When she was twelve, she wrote a story she believed to be her own. Entitled "The Frost King," it bore a strong resemblance to one written by a Ms. Canby called "The Frost Fairies." Many of the sentences are identical and a good number of the descriptions are paraphrased. In relating this devasting incident, Helen and Annie recall that Annie had exposed Helen to the story some three years earlier and Helen had somehow retained that information. This plainly shows intelligence.

Both the "Frost" stories are reprinted in full, thus giving the reader a chance to see just how amazing being able to remember such a work really was.

Helen describes her work raising money for other deaf-blind children to attend the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston and in so doing, embarks upon her lifelong mission as a crusader for multiply challenged individuals.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Story of a Remarkable Woman
I had heard of Helen Keller but didn't really know what she was about.

It's a 5-star overall story. But in terms of language style and story-telling, it's 4-star for me (understandably, it's 100 years ago).

Helen Keller wrote this in her 20s, while pursuing her degree at Radcliffe. So this is not her whole life, but wow.. what an amazing story!

A girl is blind and deaf, and I would probably give up on her. But I'm ashamed of myself for that. Helen Keller was deaf and blind and yet this didn't stop her. She's bright and strong-headed. The power of self-determination combined with the great help from the wonderfully patient teacher in Anne Sullivan opened the door for her. Her desire to communicate with people, and her passion to "be normal" made her who she had accomplished to be.

How did she "listen"? How did she "speak"? How did she write? She did all that and was good at them. Astonishingly unimaginable. And with such a kind heart, she could easily make a more complete person that we "normal" people can.

"Helen sees more with her hands that we do with our eyes."

Simply admirable.

5-0 out of 5 stars Many had to read this
Many had to read this book in school, along with other great and inspiritationl reads such as "The Diary of Anne Frank" or even great fiction like "To Kill a Mockingbird." And the reason I didn't have to read it is probably the one that causes me to like it so much. I came to this book while an adult, after reading something on the Internet about Keller. Fascinated, I delved into her life and all that was around it. Hence, my first foray into her past was "The Story of My Life." This is a remarkable little book regardless of who wrote it, but consider the source and it's absolutely amazing. The sheer precision and depth this book has is just astounding. Yes, it's inspiritational, but besides that, it's one heck of a well-put-together book!

Also, if you are interested in Helen Keller's life, please try two other great reads: The first is a bio by Herrmann which delves more into the minutae of Keller's life, and the second is a work of fiction which has quotes from "The Story of My Life" at the beginning of each of its chapters. This book is called "The Bark of the Dogwood," and while it's pretty shocking and steamy in places, it ultimately takes it's inspiration from Keller, along with a host of other southerners.

1-0 out of 5 stars Yawn
I feel bad for saying this, cause Helen Keller was a fanominal woman, but her book made me want to kill myself out of boredom. I mean seriously, it's page after page of nothing. DO NOT READ THIS BOOK TO SAVE YOUR LIFE!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Where Heart and Depth Transcend the Mind
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A book to read that is of the warmness of soul, an account that conveys love and realness. The body and the mind are only the peripheries, for it is the soul or consciousness that is of the real person. So when the mind is expanded in knowledge and intellect, one can find erroneously enter in it's subjectivity defining such as the real self or one can use such intellectualism as an instrument of the consciousness and view objectively. This then allows the heart and feelings to penetrate, in turn the mind is transcended, one goes beyond the mind to the real inner self. And when this occurs the result culminates in the most beautiful and extraordinary person. Such is the case of Helen Keller.

Her fingers found expression, felt emotion and penetrated the surface into the feelings and depth in the person she encountered, in the words that she read and in the vibrations that she felt. I have read in the East, that consciousness does not come to us solely through the eyes and ears, but when such peripheries are down we can perceive in much more strength through other senses.

"I derive genuine pleasure from touching great works of art. As my finger tips trace line and curve, they discover the thought and emotion which the artist has portrayed. I can feel in the faces of gods and heroes hate, courage and love, just as I can detect them in living faces I am permitted to touch." P. 68

In a letter she received from Mr. Gilder, Helen wrote,

"In a letter he wrote me he made his mark under his signature deep in the paper so that I could feel it." . . . and " I feel the twinkle of his eye in the handshake." P. 75

Case in point is that of poetry. What the average school teacher and intellectual defines in art and poetry are the stanzas, the numerical structures and literary criticism. Now this actually destroys such forms of art. But what intellectual, a person that uses their head without the heart can fathom any understanding beyond such? Helen wrote:

"Great poetry, whether in English or Greek, needs no other interpreter than a responsive heart. Would that the host of those who make the great works of the poets odious by their analysis, impositions and laborious comments might learn this simple truth! It is not necessary that one should be able to define every word and give it its principal parts and its grammatical position in the sentence in order to understand and appreciate a fine poem." p. 59

Not only did she find the external world but went to the university and went further in learning and knowledge than most. But it is her understanding and diligence, her positivism and depth that this autobiography conveys.

After reading her account, I can say that if I could love another person, I have fallen in love with Helen.

"Is it not true, then, that my life with all its limitations touches at many points the lif of the World Beautiful? Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content. ... Read more


154. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (Thorndike Press Large Print Biography Series)
by Walter Isaacson
list price: $31.95
our price: $31.95
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Asin: 0786260033
Catlog: Book (2004-01-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 152248
Average Customer Review: 4.39 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Benjamin Franklin is the founding father who winks at us -- an ambitious urban entrepreneur who rose up the social ladder, from leather-aproned shopkeeper to dining with kings.

In bestselling author Walter Isaacson's vivid and witty full-scale biography, we discover why Franklin turns to us from history's stage with eyes that twinkle from behind his new-fangled spectacles. In Benjamin Franklin, Isaacson shows how Franklin defines both his own time and ours.

The most interesting thing that Franklin invented, and continually reinvented, was himself. America's first great publicist, he was consciously trying to create a new American archetype. In the process, he carefully crafted his own persona, portrayed it in public, and polished it for posterity. His guiding principle was a "dislike of everything that tended to debase the spirit of the common people." Few of his fellow founders felt this comfort with democracy so fully, and none so intuitively.

In this colorful and intimate narrative, Isaacson provides the full sweep of Franklin's amazing life, from his days as a runaway printer to his triumphs as a statesman, scientist, and Founding Father. He chronicles Franklin's tumultuous relationship with his illegitimate son and grandson, his practical marriage, and his flirtations with the ladies of Paris. He also shows how Franklin helped to create the American character and why he has a particular resonance in the twenty-first century. ... Read more

Reviews (98)

5-0 out of 5 stars A great effort.
Walter Isaacson's "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life" is an excellent biography of the eldest of the American founding fathers. Isaacson's writing style is incisive, so the book is never dull. Many Americans tend to view the founding fathers as god-like patriots; but Isaacson is able to show Franklin's flaws through the many refrences to Franklin's correspondences. Isaacson also extensively covers Franklin's pragmatism and frugality through many examples from his letters and other records.

I can't compare this book to any of the other popular Franklin books because I haven't read them, but I would reccomend this book for a less analytical, though not superficial, read. I say this because it was written by a journalist - journalists tend to be incisive and easier for most to read than scholers. If you would enjoy a more psychological view into Franklin's character, HG Wells' version would probably be more appropriate.

5-0 out of 5 stars An American Renaissance Man
Publisher, philosopher, scientist, inventor, and statesman - Walter Isaacson's "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life" is a fascinating portrait of our Founding Father's most senior citizen. But it is also an outstanding history of American life in the 18th century, first as a colony, then in the struggle for independence. The role of France in the American Revolution - and Franklin's role in securing that key alliance - unfolds with a clarity I'd not previously encountered. And Franklin's often-combative relationship with John Adams is a riveting character study, especially when balanced by McCullough's biography of Adams. In vivid detail and painstaking research, Isaacson's Franklin is brilliant, but still an enigma. Despite unquestionably high morality, we see a ruthless businessman. While possessing an obvious love for socializing - especially with members of the opposite sex - his immediate family is effectively abandoned, as Franklin lives virtually parallel lives between Europe and America. We see Franklin typically charitable and charming, yet alternately cold and calculating. Yet despite his foibles and flaws, Franklin emerges deservedly as "the most accomplished American of his age." And given the breadth of these accomplishments, an argument could be made "for any age". In summary, Isaacson achieves the rare combination of an important and scholarly biography that at the same time is a lively and entertaining story of America and one of our greatest Americans.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Portrayal of the Most Versatile American
Let me first start off by saying that I have read few biographies. But Isaacson made a biography that is both readable and balanced between Franklin's personal and professional life. Franklin was the true founding father that believed in the common man. Franklin was not perfect but he believed in fair treatment for all. America would have advanced much slower if it was not for Ben. Probably his greatest contribution to our society was the feeling of helping one another. He helped form the first fire station, post office, police force (much less his inventions) - his work had community written all over it. All of his work was done with the premise of helping mankind. Maybe other founders fought the wars and wrote the documents. But we survived all these years because we formed a community; the idea that as Americans we have to all work together. That is Franklin's legacy to our nation. I will read biographies on the other founders (Hamilton, Jefferson, Adams and Washington) to gain a more complete perspective on how this country started. This book lays an excellent foundation and is a must read for those interested in the origins of America through the eyes of one of its greatest citizens.

5-0 out of 5 stars An outstanding biography of a remarkable man
Walter Isaacson, former chairman of CNN and managing editor of Time Magazine, has written an immensely readable and informative biography of Benjamin Franklin that never gets too stuffy or bogged down in meaningless minutae. Instead, we are treated to a fascinating glimpse at a man who was early America's greatest publisher, scientist, politician, inventor and diplomat.

We all have our pre-conceived notions of Franklin, including him out flying his kite to try and link electricity with lightning, or him dozing off during the lengthy and tedious deliberations at the Constitutional Convention. Isaacson peels back the layers of the story a bit, reminding us how often our vision of Franklin derives from Franklin's own pen, such as the vision of the young teen arriving in Philadelphia with loaves of bread, looking ridiculous as he passed by the window of his future wife (a scene written by Franklin at age 65 when he penned his autobiography).

The book does a very good job not only of recounting the many accomplishments of Franklin, but also of exploring his middle class ideals and values. For example, Isaacson's book reminds us that while Franklin was never terribly pious or religious throughout his life, he favored organized religion because churches encouraged citizens to behave well, and to do good things. There was always a sense of pragmatism and public service in everything Franklin did and believed in. As a publisher, if he thought a public policy or official was wrong and needed to be criticized publicly, he would invent characters (to avoid libel suits) to write humorous and sometimes scathing attacks that were basically anonymous.

The book also dwells repeatedly on the Franklin's love and admiration of the middle class as the real core of American society. While Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia as a college for southern gentlemen, Franklin founded the University of Pennsylvania to serve a much larger, and more low-brow, populace. As a statesman, it is remarkable that Franklin (despite many years abroad as an effective French ambassador) was a participant and signer of virtually every key treaty/document in colonial history, including the Albany Plan of the Union, the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Peace Treaty with England, and the Constitution. His spirit of compromise and his sage demeanor no doubt helped bridge the gap which sharply divided members of the Constitutional Convention. He occasionally flip-flopped on an issue, including his views on the Stamp Act and his belief in the possibility of conciliation with Britain, but without his sense of compromise the Constitution would never have made it in its present, remarkable form.

Isaacson also explores the personal side of Franklin, including his strained relationship (and ultimate lack of a relationship) with his loyalist son, who became governor of New Jersey, as well as his relatively harmless flirting with the ladies of French society while he was abroad. The contrasts in his character, and that of John Adams (who was sent out to France to work with him on the French alliance), was remarkable. Both great men to be sure, but they could not be more unalike, and their pairing was an unfortunate one.

The book ends with a wonderful chapter titled "Conclusions" in which Franklin's place in history, and the changing attitudes towards his character over the years, are explored. The Trascendentalists like Emerson and Thoreau had little use for Ben, as he was too practical and mundane for their "rarefied tastes", but as the country became more industrial and Horatio Alger novels became the rage, Franklin's work ethic and maxims were embraced all over again. Ultimately Isaacson points out that as a writer he was "more Mark Twain and less William Shakespeare", and as a scientist he was more like Edison than Newton. Always witty and charming, if not profound, he probably did more than anyone in history to try and advance the common good, through civic associations, libraries, volunteer fire departments, post offices, etc. I put the book down terribly impressed with Franklin the man, and Isaacson the biographer.

1-0 out of 5 stars Walter Isaacson: Mr. Shallow, An American Life
As a direct descendant of Simon Meredith (1663-1745), father of Hugh Meredith, Benjamin Franklin's erstwhile business partner in Philadelphia, I looked forward with great interest to Isaacson's much touted book, and immediately consulted it between flights, looking up Cousin Hugh. With respect to Hugh, Isaacson, like so many predecessors, again proved shallow, inept, under informed and a grand source of misinformation: as we Merediths know all too well, Franklin simply stiffed Simon and dumped Hugh after the venerable Ben had gained a virtual monopoly to print money. Isaacson remains oblivious of the fact that the Simon Merediths of Radnorshire, members of a medieval college of physicians and clerics, were and remain one of the most distinguished Welsh-American families this country has ever known. I realize Isaacson is reputedly a great publicist and business person, but as an historian and researcher he remains woefully ignorant. Welcome to another silly, sorry Franklin read. ... Read more


155. The Avengers (Wheeler Large Print Compass Series)
by Rich Cohen
list price: $29.95
our price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1587241110
Catlog: Book (2001-10-01)
Publisher: Wheeler Publishing
Sales Rank: 1154181
Average Customer Review: 4.46 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Rich Cohen, author of the acclaimed Tough Jews, again narrates a little-known episode of Jewish history, this time altering what we thought we knew about the Holocaust.

Abba Kovner, Vitka Kempner, Ruzka Korczak-comrades, lovers, friends. In the Lithuanian ghetto of Vilna, they were the heart of a breathtakingly courageous underground movement, and when the ghetto was liquidated, they fled to the forests and joined other partisans in continued sabotage and resistance. Riveting, poignant and uplifting, The Avengers is a powerful exploration of resistance and revenge, of courage and dedication, and an inside look at some of the intrepid individuals who fought against the Holocaust and the nazi occupation of Europe.
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Reviews (39)

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Rich Cohen's book The Avengers truly amazed me. Prior to hearing him speak and reading his book, I had only heard one story of Jewish Life in Europe during the second world war. To hear this other story, the story of Jews who refused to go like sheep to the slaughter, the story of Jews who fought, gives new perspective, and a new understanding of the people that lived in those times.

Rich Cohen's book reads far more like a novel than like a historical text, and at times, I found that aggravating. I wanted more details, and fewer assumptions. But, for what this book is, it is trully amazing. I only hope someone will read this book and decide to do the historical research before it is far too late.

I highly recommend this book. It made me question what I am doing with my life.

"If you have not found something you are willing to die for, you have no reason to live."

5-0 out of 5 stars A Hell Of A Story
"The Avengers" by Rich Cohen is one hell of a story that the author tells brilliantly. This is a thrill packed tale that is artfully written, absorbing, suspenseful and rife with human drama. In short, a book that's tough to put down.

The author paints a compelling portrait of Abba Kovner, a charasmatic poet and his two female comrades who were trapped in Vilna, Lithuania at the outbreak of the Second World War. These ordinary people under extraordinary circumstances fall in love and manage to survive and persevere under the most unimaginable conditions.

Cohen provides us with a gripping account of their struggles, that are fascinating, and all the more compelling for being true. He captures detail, color and perspective, sketching them in highly readable prose. And while deftly interweaving tragedy with the great events of history, he raises difficult questions and moral dilemmas for the reader to ponder.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the most engaging and horrifying books I have read
The Avengers follows the life of Abba Kovner and his associates, through the horror of Nazism through attempts at revenge, and to a life in Palestine. Although I have read several books on the holocaust, I must admit, I could not bought this book down. Cohen's writing style is very engaging. Cohen makes no value judgements here; it is up to the reader to decide right and wrong. Although I think most people would have a tough time accepting what the avengers tried to do after the war, I cannot possibly judge them. I also cannot imagine living the horrors (which are spelled out in graphic detail) that these Jews went through. One is struck again and again by the brutality and sadism used by these Nazi animals.

Although not a comforting book, I believe this book should be read by anyone with an interest in one of the most evil periods in history.

5-0 out of 5 stars Is it Resistance or Terrorism?
Cohen's story is brilliant and courageous in the way it forces the Reader to acknowledge their hypocracies with regard to terrorism. Specifically, he draws the reader to sympathize and care for Abba Kovner, but also notes that Kovner and his gang try (unsuccessfully) to poison the water supply of Germans, many innocent noncombatants, even children. In other words, these Avengers are also terrorists (if you use the current definitions).

By exposing the grey are of terrorism/ resistance, Cohen subtly places the reader in the uncomfortable position of acknowledging a double standard between hero, terrorist and freedom fighter. While we all have to come to our own (hopefully consistent)conclusion in that regard, it takes someone like Cohen and his hero Kovener to make us realize that it is not a "cut and dry" issue.

2-0 out of 5 stars good intentions, but disappointing
I'm glad I read this book for the subject matter, though there were so many problems with it I can't wholeheartedly recommend it. Cohen bases the book on the memories of old people, and some of their resistance efforts sound like pretty tall tales. I couldn't help but make the comparison with an 89-year-old gentleman I know who claims he sat on a purse snatcher until the police came. Some of the feats they credit themselves with accomplishing are simply unbelievable. There are also discrepancies. For example, Vitka is once called upon to bury a body in a forest in great haste, and I assume we're supposed to think she did it with her bare hands since she had no tools with her. Then much later in the story Vitka sees a dead body for the first time. Huh? Vitka, however, is the real heroine of the story, brave and selfless. Abba is an intriguing person, but my impression was that he gave the orders and took care of himself while his women did all the work. His fanaticism in later years was disturbing, though after what he lived through it is hard to judge him fairly. It's uplifting to know some Jews did fight back and that many lives were saved because of their courage, and that's the best part of the story. ... Read more


156. Luckiest Man: The Life And Death Of Lou Gehrig (Thorndike Press Large Print Biography Series)
by Jonathan Eig
list price: $30.95
our price: $30.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 078627638X
Catlog: Book (2005-06-13)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 568784
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Lou Gehrig started his professional baseball career at a time when players began to be seen as national celebrities. Though this suited charismatic men such as Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio, Gehrig avoided the spotlight and preferred to speak with his bat. Best known for playing in 2,130 consecutive games as well as his courage in battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (a disease that now bears his name), the Iron Horse that emerges from this book is surprisingly naïve and insecure. He would cry in the clubhouse after disappointing performances, was painfully shy around women (much to the amusement of some of his teammates), and particularly devoted to his German-immigrant mother all his life. Even after earning the league MVP award he still feared the Yankees would let him go. Against the advice of Ruth and others, he refused to negotiate aggressively and so earned less than he deserved for many seasons. Honest, humble, and notoriously frugal, his only vices were chewing gum and the occasional cigarette. And despite becoming one of the finest first basemen of all time, Jonathan Eig shows how Gehrig never seemed to conquer his self-doubt, only to manage it better.

Jonathan Eig's Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig offers a fascinating and well-rounded portrait of Gehrig, from his dugout rituals and historic games to his relationships with his mother, wife, coaches, and teammates. His complex friendship with Ruth, who was the polar opposite to Gehrig in nearly every respect, is given particularly vivid attention. Take this revealing description of how the two men began a barnstorming tour together following their 1927 World Series victory: "Ruth tipped the call girls and sent them on their way. Gehrig kissed his mother goodbye." Eig also shares some previously unknown details regarding his consecutive games streak and how he dealt with ALS during the final years of his life. Rich in anecdotes and based on hundreds of interviews and 200 pages of recently discovered letters, the book effectively shows why the Iron Horse remains an American icon to this day. --Shawn Carkonen ... Read more

Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary biography of a mythic figure
Lou Gehrig has risen beyond mortality, into mythology. His life and death are part of our lore more than our common history. But Eig does a beautiful job of chronicling both in human, concrete terms, not in the poetic abstractions of baseball memory. Don't get me wrong: I love the poetic abstractions of baseball, but here we get a glimpse of the kind of flesh-and-blood hero we haven't had for a long time, engaged in a rise and fall unlike any we see in a media-saturated 21st century.

Eig's writing is full of the pain, celebration, quiet nobility and raw physical strength that made Lou Gehrig. The fact that a sports figure remains a figure worth our money, time and interest 60 years after he died is testament to his contribution to the sport and the impact of his personal courage.

Gehrig wasn't without flaws. Rather he was a perfect antithesis to teammate Babe Ruth, a significantly flawed fella who wasn't without his personal qualities. Together, they stand as icons of the golden age of the sport, and Eig's biography pointedly (and poignantly) paints Gehrig as a myth-in-the-making, utterly unaware of his deity-to-be.

And that's how it should be.

5-0 out of 5 stars A True Role Model
Reading this book made me wonder, "Are there any men of this caliber of character in MLB today?"My immediate answer would be, "No."Who in today's big leagues would feel almost embarassed to get a raise?Who would play for such a quiet love of the game?

A ballplayer from the 80s, Ryne Sandberg, does come to mind.Of course, he was nowhere the player of Gehrig (who is?), but he always seemed like a gentleman who gave it his all.

God Bless Lou Gehrig and all he stood for.Read this book if you want to be inspired by a genuine American role model and hero.

4-0 out of 5 stars Rise and Fall of the Iron Horse
In his biography of Lou Gehrig, Jonathon Eig offers up a portrait of an iron willed individual, complex to a fault, who achieved the highest level of success in a sport dominated by oversize personalities such as Ruth, Cobb,and Alexander. Lou may not have had the talent of those men , but his work ethic and boy scout persona honed his skills to the extent he became the greatest offensive force in the game in the late 1920's and 30's. Not just a portrait of a superior athelete, Luckiest Manexamines Lou's struggles with the disease which would become linked with his name. A wonderful read which draws you into the golden age of sports,providing a link from Babe Ruth to Joe Dimaggio, Luckiest Man is a rare sports bio which offers adose of humanity of such a complex man .

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Read!
Paints an informed and vivid picture of a complicated man with an inspiring and unbelievable work ethic.Great for baseball fans, but also great for anyone seeking inspiration in the face of adversity.Often when talented people are brought down in the prime of their lives, they become martyrs and their accomplishments are embellished over time.For the story of Lou Gehrig's life and death, martyrdom and embellishment are neither necessary nor appropriate, and Jonathan Eig skillfully avoids both of them.One can only wonder how long Lou Gehrig's streak would have lasted had he not been stricken at such a young age.

5-0 out of 5 stars Well researched, great read!
This is an amazing book.Eig has done a ton of research (check out the list of primary sources in the back!), and lets you see Gehrig as a man, not just through his stats as a baseball player.After reading this book, I really felt like I had some insight into Lou Gehrig's personality, his upbringing, his motivation, and especially his courage as he faced a slow death from ALS.By seeing Gehrig as a complete person, including his faults, I believe Gehrig becomes even more of a hero.

This book is very well written and could be enjoyed by baseball historians, casual fans, and those who might only know the name Lou Gehrig.I'm proud to have this book on my shelf next to great baseball writers like Lawrence Ritter, Robert Creamer, and Harold Seymour. ... Read more


157. Land of a Thousand Hills: My Life in Rwanda (Wheeler Compass)
by Rosamond Halsey Carr, Ann Howard Halsey
list price: $26.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1568958587
Catlog: Book (2000-05-01)
Publisher: Wheeler Publishing
Sales Rank: 1338972
Average Customer Review: 4.73 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"A remarkable life story, reminiscent of Out of Africa."--Vogue

In 1949, Rosamond Halsey Carr, a young fashion illustrator living in New York City, accompanied her dashing hunter-explorer husband to what was then the Belgian Congo. When the marriage fell apart, she decided to stay on in neighboring Rwanda, as the manager of a flower plantation.

Land of a Thousand Hills is Carr's thrilling memoir of her life in Rwanda-a love affair with a country and a people that has spanned half a century. During those years, she has experienced everything from stalking leopards to rampaging elephants, drought, the mysterious murder of her friend Dian Fossey, and near-bankruptcy. She has chugged up the Congo River on a paddle-wheel steamboat, been serenaded by pygmies, and witnessed firsthand the collapse of colonialism. Following 1994's Hutu-Tutsi genocide, Carr turned her plantation into a shelter for the lost and orphaned children-work she continues to this day, at the age of eighty-seven.

"Carr's book is a testament to the courage, perseverance, and resilience of the land to which she has given her heart."--San Francisco Examiner ... Read more

Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars What to read after you've finished Poisonwood Bible
I work in an independent book store. For a year I have been communicating with a Rwandan woman, a Tutsi who survived the genocide and now would like to come to America with her 6 year old daughter to study Social Work. I have been reading as much as I can about Africa, Rwanda in particular. I read Philip Gourevitch's "We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families: stories from Rwanda," and Julian Pierce's novel "Speak Rwanda." Of course I devoured Barbara Kingsolver's "Poisonwood Bible." Then I noticed this biography "Land of a Thousand Hills, My Life in Rwanda," by Roz Carr. I was totally captivated by this incredible woman and completely taken in by her story of her life in Africa over the past 50 years. Rosamond Halsey Carr went with her husband to live in the Belgian Congo in 1949, 5 years before Barbara Kingsolver's fictitious family. As time went on, even though her marriage did not last, she chose to stay in this part of the world making it her home. She moved to Rwanda when the white settlers were forced out of Zaire in the early 1960's. Not only did she survive, she is still there, at age 88 running an orphanage for children who lost their families during the genocide. This book describes as nothing else has the reality of 20th century life in the Congo and Rwanda from the perspective of an "ordinary" white settler. I cannot recommend it strongly enough.

5-0 out of 5 stars A good piece of work and some insights about Africa
I first heard of this book in a Reader's Digest section, where excerpts of this book were published. Rosamund Carr was also mentioned in the book and later in the movie "Gorillas in the Mist" written by Dian Fossey PhD, as one of the most warm and hospitable person in the world. I have always planned to visit Rwanda and therefore bought this book to get some background information about this country and its people. This book is an account of living for more than half a century in a country, which is still undeveloped, where the majority of the people doesn't have access to medical facilities, sometimes not even to basics like clean water or food to eat. Rosamund Carr is one of Africa's heroines in this century. She mainly describes her life in Rwanda, her struggles and daily problems in running a pyrethrum farm near Lake Kivu, one of Africa's pearls. Her description of Rwanda's genocide provides a better understanding for this event than newspapers ever did.
After the genocide she returned to Africa to run an orphanage for both Hutu and Tutsi children. If there were more Roz Carrs in Africa, probably this continent would not face its current problems.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great book about life inside Rwanda
A friend of main became an Episcopal missionary in Uganda several years ago. While the book is not about Uganda, nevertheless it gives me a view of what life is like inside the African nation of Rwanda by Ms. Carr. I thought the book was excellent, and is very hard to put down. From several environments, depending on which government, and also genocides, makes living in Africa a challenge.

Thank you, Rosamond, for telling me about life inside Africa. A true heroine, and worthy of Sainthood.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Portrait of Life & Love in Rwanda
Ms. Carr's experience in Rwanda, Africa are nothing shy of amazing, miraculous, and exciting! This woman lived through all the terrors and the triumphs of this tiny African nation. She got to know and love the people who dwelt there. She tells her story with the love of someone speaking of a favorite child. No pretensions or abstract notions here, just life in the raw! A fascinating, can't-wait-to-turn-the-page thriller!

5-0 out of 5 stars wonderful!!!
I just finished reading this book last evening, and cannot remember when I enjoyed a book more. I am partial to books about life in Africa. I was able to visit East Africa, Tanzania and Kenya, when I was a teenager, and I still cherish those memories after nearly 20 years. The beauty and mystery of Africa are intoxicating, and reading about other people's adventures takes me right back. Ms. Carr's book is absolutely wonderful, and I'm so glad that she decided to share her story. She is an amazing, courageous woman with a huge heart, who will undoubtedly touch many many people with her memoir. ... Read more


158. Life On The Mississippi
by Mark Twain
list price: $24.00
our price: $16.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060955678
Catlog: Book (2000-04-01)
Publisher: HarperLargePrint
Sales Rank: 509340
Average Customer Review: 4.46 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

It's Time to Rediscover the Wonderful Books We All Cherish.

"The Mississippi is well worth reading about. It is not a commonplace river but on the contrary is in all ways remarkable."
-- Mark Twain

0riginally published in 1883, Life on the Mississippi is Mark Twain's memoir of his youthful years as a cub pilot on a steamboat paddling up and down the Mississippi River. Twain used his childhood experiences growing up along the Mississippi in a number of works, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but nowhere is the river and the pilot's life more thoroughly described than in this work. Told with insight, humor, and candor, Life on the Mississippi is an American classic.

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Reviews (13)

4-0 out of 5 stars Essential for any Twain fan.
Mark Twain, the most globally recognised of the greatest American writers, comes closest to autobiography in this odd and fascinating book. This is the story of part of his life at least, and lays out much of his unique moral and political philosophy.

As a book, Life on the Mississippi lacks a truly coherent story line after the half-way point; it tells the story of Twain's training as a Mississippi steamboat pilot, then, when he returns to the river years later as a successful writer, it drops off into anecdotes as Twain travels down the great river, and can be a deadly bore for some readers.

But, oh, what a picture of Twain it draws! There are great tales of characters he meets along the river, told in his inimitably funny style, wonderful bits of his childhood - like the tale of his insomniac guilt and terror when the match he loans a drunk ends up causing the jail to burn down, killing the drunk - and insightful portraits of the towns and villages along the river.

This is a characteristically American book, about progress and independence as well as the greatest American river, written by this most characteristically American writer. It is a true classic (a thing Twain despised! He said, "Classics are books that everybody praises, but nobody reads."), a book that will remain a delight for the foreseeable future.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Magnificent Journey to be Savored
Life on the Mississippi is by far one of the most wonderful books ever written about the post Civil War era in America. Mark Twain takes the reader on a melancholy look at this period of time in history as you journey into the Mississippi of his youth, adulthood, and the people and the communities he knew so well. He conveys a miraculous picture of this lively river giving it the grandeur and prominence it deserves. He defines the river very much like a living organism with a power and personality all its own. As the book unfolds, he begins in his days when he grew up along the river and became a steam boat pilot, ending that career with the advent of the Civil War. Later he returns to the river after some twenty years and takes a journey as a writer from around St. Louis to New Orleans and back up the river into what is present day Minnesota. You learn about the different cultures along the river, its tributaries, as well as the remarkable people who become part of the forgotten history of our nation. Twain's anecdotes are sheer brilliance, and he has an incredible way of choosing just the right story to illustrate a particular point transporting the reader back into time as if it was the present day and you are standing beside Twain observing what he is seeing. His reflections of his times along the river and his descriptions of the people and places make this a true masterpiece of literature and I highly recommend it. I found myself only able to read short portions at a time, as I personally found the sheer beauty of the entire book was a work to be savored and digested rather than rapidly consumed as you would with any other book. As I poured through the book, I felt often as if I was traveling with Mark Twain as a companion along his charming and magnificent journey during a wonderful period of history.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of Twain┬┐s Greatest!
This book--at times disjointed, rambling, self-referential, and irreverent--is decades ahead of its time. It's an interdisciplinarian's dream as Twain takes on economics, geography, politics, ancient and contemporary history, and folklore with equal ease. Mostly though, one appreciates his knack for exaggeration, the tall tale, and the outright lie. It's a triumph of tone, as he lets you in on his wild wit, his keen observation, and his penchant for bending the truth without losing his credibility as a guide.

The book's structure is also modern: He recounts his days as a paddlewheel steam boat "cub," piloting the hundreds of miles of the Mississippi before the Civil War, then, in Part 2, returns to retrace his paddleboat route. Although a few of his many digressions don't work (they sometimes sound formulaic or too detailed) most of the narrative is extremely entertaining. Twain seems caught between admiration and disdain for the "modern" age-but he also rejects over-sentimentality over the past. He writes with beauty and cynicism, verve and humor. Very highly recommended!

5-0 out of 5 stars Twain's Mississippi River Recollections..........
In Life on the Mississippi, Twain recounts his river experiences from boyhood to riverboat captain and beyond. Encompassing the years surrounding the Civil War, this book is an excellent source of 19th-century Americana as well as an anthology of the mighty river itself. Replete with rascally rivermen, riparian hazards, deluge, catastrophe, and charm, Life on the Mississippi is another of Twain's stellar literary achievements.

Wit and wisdom are expected from Twain and this book does not disappoint. It is equally valuable for it's period descriptions of the larger river cities (New Orleans, St. Louis, St. Paul), as well as the small town people and places ranging the length of America's imposing central watershed.

The advent of railroads signalled the end of the Mississipi's grand age of riverboat traffic, but, never fear, Life on the Mississippi brings it back for the reader as only Samuel Clemens can. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
The best work by Twain I've read to date. This combination history, memoir, travelogue, and collection of sketches is both humorous and entertaining. I have also learned a great deal about Twain, his time, and the history of steamboating and the Mississippi. Written later in his life, this work is mature in style as well as content in spite of its loose organization and focus. Highly recommended. ... Read more


159. The Most Beautiful Woman in the World: The Obsessions, Passions and Courage of Elizabeth Taylor
by Ellis Amburn
list price: $25.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060197196
Catlog: Book (2000-06-01)
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Sales Rank: 814700
Average Customer Review: 3.14 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

?????An American icon for more than half a century, Elizabeth Taylor continues to fascinate the American public. From the mainstream media to the tabloid press, no other celebrity has received such overwhelming scrutiny, stirred so much scandal, or alternately been the target of both worldwide worship and condemnation. And yet just when we thought we knew everything about this screen siren, Ellis Amburn blows the lid off of Hollywood's best-kept secrets-secrets that have allowed Hollywood's most beautiful woman to remain its most misunderstood celebrity.

?????In The Most Beautiful Woman in the World, Ellis Amburn taps into previously unexplored primary sources to reveal the tragedies and triumphs of Elizabeth Taylor's exciting and tumultuous life. This wonderful new biography poignantly recounts the successful removal of a golf-ball size brain tumor; her courageous recovery after breaking her back twice within two years; the exciting launch of her fragrance line, which became an instant success; and her loving relationship with Rod Steiger, who nurtured her back to health after a nervous breakdown. Amburn also reveals Taylor's tragic and heartbreaking affection for Montgomery Clift and James Dean and explores Taylor's disastrous marriage to the abusive and philandering Nicky Hilton, who abandoned Liz on their honeymoon to be with another woman. And then there is the infamous and cunning Eddie Fisher, who forced Liz to appear at his Las Vegas shows in order to bring in capacity crowds, as well as accounts of Richard Burton's homosexual activities and his exploitation of Taylor.

?????With explosive new revelations about her love affairs and marriages, Ellis Amburn creates a portrait that will redefine everything we thought we knew about Elizabeth Taylor. The most significant and overlooked truth in Taylor's life that all of her major loving relationships have been with gay men, while all of her self-destructive love affairs have been with straight men-is an insight that is destined to deepen our love and understanding of the world's most beautiful woman.

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Reviews (7)

2-0 out of 5 stars A Stormy Sexual History of Hollywood
This book is the tabloid version of an Elizabeth Taylor biography, reading like stiched-together daily exposes in such a newspaper. It displays in endless detail the sexual orientation of virtually everyone she ever spent time with, any arguments she ever had where someone else was present, and any unladylike things she may have said or done. Her movie work is discussed in terms of how it related to her marital relationships and financial problems. Occasionally, the book also criticizes her for having a healthy sexual appetite.

Normally, biographers either like the person they write about or want to create a more accurate account of the person. Mr. Amburn did not seem to fall into either of these categories. His objective seems to be to portray some of the other people in Ms. Taylor's life more sympathetically.

The book's main thesis is that Ms. Taylor has had loving relationships in her adult life with people who are gay or bisexual and unloving ones with everyone else. This connection is also made to Ms. Taylor's relationship with her father, despite the fact that she did not have a good relationship with him. But the book doesn't get beyond that into much of the motivation. Many men were attracted to Ms. Taylor like moths to the flame, and this attraction did nothing to bring out their better qualities. She seems to have lived in a world where her physical attractiveness made her a target for fans, men, and exploiters of all sorts. Little is made of the potential to see her as victim of peoples' perceptions of someone who is physically attractive. She also doesn't seem to get enough credit for generally being an open-minded person, which may explain her lack of sexual-orientation prejudice.

According to press reports and this book, Ms. Taylor has had more than her share of illness, injury, and physical and emotional pain. Yet she has led a generally productive artistic life, and has played an increasingly important role in bringing sympathy and support to the cause of overcoming AIDS. It would have been natural to have focused on these positive reflections of her underlying character, and the difficulties involved in overcoming ceaseless, searing pain addiction. No one is going to be perfect under such circumstances. Yet the book wallows in her use of drugs and drinking to soften the pain, in endless tales that add little to the biography.

Naturally, Ms. Taylor is famous in part for her marital difficulties. Those should have been in the book, but they became too much of the book to be rewarding to the reader.

As someone who was a working actress for most of her life, another aspect of the book you might expect would be extended dicussions of her work. You will find relatively little of that. It is as though the author thinks that her work is of virtually no importance. I certainly was moved by her performances in National Velvet, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Giant, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I liked her performances in many other movies. I would have liked to have read much more about her work in these roles where she was more successful.

The best part of this book is the beautiful color photograph of Ms. Taylor on the cover.

If you are wondering why I did not give the book a one star review, it is because the photographs are good and the writing style is perfectly adequate. The three star downgrade is for misfocus, exploitation, and a hidden agenda.

After you finish looking at Ms. Taylor's cover photograph, consider what you would like to know more about public figures. Then when you are thinking about reading a biography about that person, check to see if the biography focuses on the areas you care about before reading them. That will save you a lot of time.

Also, ask yourself how we should consider someone's life. To what extent should we consider good deeds? Bad deeds? Repentance? Motives? Physical appearance? Obstacles to progress? Ms. Taylor's life raises these issues rather nicely.

By the way, if you find a biography of Ms. Taylor that you like, please do write to me. I'd like to read it.

2-0 out of 5 stars There's nothing like a DAME
As another reviewer said, I have read most ot the biographies written about Elizabeth Taylor, and I am usually disappointed! They seem to never capture the woman; the authors tend to rehash old news clippings, or scandal sheet gossip.In doing this, the authors never do this woman justice. Not only is Elizabeth an icon of our time, but she has become one of countries greatest AIDS activists.This in itself took tremendous courage! There is more to this woman than celluloid, and ex-husbands. Face it, she's one great dame! I wish to some day read a biography of her that truly celebrates the woman that is Elizabeth Taylor!

4-0 out of 5 stars What a Life . . .I Suppose
It's not the author's fault, but unfortunately the subject of this book is extremely boring. Two words describe Elizabeth Taylor's life, at least prior to her involvement with AIDS funding and research: WRETCHED EXCESS. This is not a fun read, not because the author didn't try, but because he wrote about a person that just wasn't very interesting.

5-0 out of 5 stars elizabeth transcends even biographies
I was mesmerised by this book -- of course with all biographies, one takes it with a grain of salt, but I was most impressed with was how Taylor handled her career like a man -- how she was able to go on despite the pressures of her situation. the love story between burton and taylor shines through, and I think I understand a little more about love, even though theirs was a tumultuous one. she is a role model for people in the performing arts who turn their attention toward great and needdy causes, and I respect her immensely. long may she rule as the last star of hollyowood.

2-0 out of 5 stars How To Destroy The Validity of One's Writing
[seemingly w]ritten for obvious exploitive reasons, the author has done a greatdeal of research and twisted facts to fit the author's purposes. One of the hints is a quote attributed to Tallulah Bankhead about Tab Hunter's sexuality. The "real" quote has been printed ad nauseum and if [she] can't get THIS one right.... ... Read more


160. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith (Thorndike Large Print Americana Series)
by Anne Lamott
list price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786219610
Catlog: Book (1999-05-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 599455
Average Customer Review: 4.31 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

3 cassettes / 4 hours
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"Eloquent, detailed, emotionally honest . . . Lamott deserves a prize for telling it like it is." - People

From the bestselling author of Operating Instructions and Bird by Bird comes a chronicle of faith and spirituality that is at once tough, personal, affectionate, wise, and very funny.

With an exuberant mix of passion, insight, and humor, Anne Lamott takes us on a journey through her often troubled past to illuminate her devout but quirky walk of faith.In a narrative spiced with stories and scripture, with diatribes, laughter, and tears, Lamott tells how, against all odds, she came to believe in God and them, even more miraculously, in herself.She shows us the myriad ways n which this sustains and guides her, shining the light of faith on the darkest part of ordinary life an exposing surprising pockets of meaning and hope

Whether talking about her family or her dreadlocks, sick children or old friends, the most religious women of her church of the men she's dated, Lamott reveals the hard-won wisdom gathered along her path to connectedness and liberation.

"Anne Lamott is a cause for celebration.[Her] real genius lies in capturing the ineffable, describing not perfect moments, but imperfect ones . . .perfectly. She is nothing short of miraculous." - The New Yorker
... Read more

Reviews (240)

5-0 out of 5 stars Only for those with a wry sense of humor
I can't fault this book, only praise it. For who else has written in such a unique way about a faith journey? Lamott makes it real (for someone of her age [middle-aged] and from a definitely Californian point of view.) But, her observations and the way she writes about them are universal. And funny.

If you can't laugh at yourself, your foibles, and even at God, don't read this--you'll start feeling self-righteous and will be quickly entering a "how dare she?" review. You will, of course, have totally missed the point.

Everyone can learn something about the way LIFE has a sneaky way of surfacing painful and joyous memories and feelings. These emotions are triggered by life's details, which Lamott expertly captures. She finds the most unassuming triggers to release a flood of feelings about various topics. The stories she tells are God-given, precious moments. Perhaps we don't "see" these moments and reflect on them enough in our lives. Is that why Lamott touches us? Thankfully, she remind us that they are there.

Read and savor this book, if you are open to what makes someone an imperfect person--and a Christian.

5-0 out of 5 stars Never written a review or letter to author before....
Have been an avid reader for 30 years, but never before felt compelled to write a review or letter to an author before...This book, perhaps more than any of the thousands of others I have read, struck a chord in my soul. On the recommendation of a friend I had read "Operating Instructions" about three years ago. While thumbing through a Book of the Month Club type catalog I ran across the photo of a white woman in dreadlocks and was struck with admiration for the woman who would present such a public image. I was pleasantly surprised to read that her name was Anne LaMott. I ordered the book "Traveling Mercies" and was delighted and completely engrossed by it. Ms. LaMott puts words to emotion I cannot personally express when she speaks of her "Christian-ish" life-orientation, her likening of her personal experience of coming to the Lord as to that of a stray cat trying to enter her life, and the pain and sublime joy of rearing her Sam. Like Annie,(oddly enough the name my own mother, a story in and of itself, was called as a girl) I came to a personal relationship with God through voyeurism into a congregation of Black believers, and like her, was taught life lessons I didn't know I needed through my interaction in fellowship with them. I thank God for the talent with words he has bestowed upon Anne, ask his blessings upon her and her loved ones, and recommend this book to anyone who finds him/herself surprised at the move of the Holy Spirit in his/her life.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hooked
This is the book that got me hooked on Anne Lamott. Most poignant and precious are the insights about life as a recovering alcoholic. Raw facts about motherhood were astounding, too. Her word choice at times caused my gut to spasm, but I survived and went on to read all of the book she had previously written. To my delight and the benefit of mankind, Lamott's newest book, Blue Shoe, avoids profanity.

4-0 out of 5 stars my kind of christian
Until I read Anne Lamott I associated the word "Christian" with holier-than-thou, priggish, etc. Now I see clearly that that's just a stereotype. It IS possible for a Christian to be a liberal with a wicked sense of humor.

Lamott isn't afraid to present herself in a less than flattering light whether it's secretly hating her mom or yelling out of frustration at her young son. We all do these things, but most of us prefer to show the world the "good" side of ourselves. Lamott is wonderful when it comes to making the everyday petty irritations of life funny, so that you empathize with her rather than judging.

Lamott writes about children, her friends, relatives and church. She writes about the competitiveness that can develop among parents of young children, and she writes about the path she took to becoming sober. Unlike some reviewers, I don't think it's going to be detrimental to her later relationship with her son when she makes him go to church. There could be a lot worse things she could force him to do.

In one essay, she writes about feeling unattractive after standing with a group of teenage girls waiting for a bus back to her hotel. Then she realizes that no one in the group is probably satisfied with her body, and this is something I've started to tell myself when I find myself in that kind of situation, too.

This atheist gives this book two thumbs up.

5-0 out of 5 stars Outside my experience
This book should be an eye-opener for anyone who is prone to believing in "cookie cutter christians"...

Read with an open heart. God will bless... ... Read more


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