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$7.99 list($29.45)
161. Cancer Schmancer (Thorndike Press
$27.95 $4.97
162. Into That Good Night (Thorndike
163. Cybill Disobedience: How I Survived
164. The Dream: Martin Luther King,
165. Time Present, Time Past: A Memoir
$1.95 list($21.95)
166. The Broken Cord (G K Hall Large
167. Never Die Easy: The Autobiography
168. Longitude: The True Story of a
169. A Time to Speak (Charnwood Library)
$32.95 $26.50
170. The Teammates: A Portrait of a
$16.50 $0.50 list($25.00)
171. The American Dream: Stories from
$17.79 $17.49 list($26.95)
172. Taking Heat LP : The President,
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173. The Pact: Three Young Men Make
$29.95 $24.99
174. The Kennedy Curse: Why America's
175. Agent 146: The True Story of a
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176. In Contempt (G K Hall Large Print
$29.45 $27.00
177. My Anecdotal Life: A Memoir (Thorndike
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178. Winston Churchill (Thorndike Press
179. Don't Block the Blessings: Revelations
180. A Severe Mercy

161. Cancer Schmancer (Thorndike Press Large Print Biography Series)
by Fran Drescher
list price: $29.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786246111
Catlog: Book (2002-11-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 735684
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Part inspirational cancer-survival story, part memoir-as-laugh-riot, CANCER SCHMANCER picks up where Fran's last book, Enter Whining, left off. After the publication of that book, Fran's life launched into a downward spiral. She separated from a long and complicated relationship, her TV series started to slip in the ratings, and her beloved dog Chester Drescher's health was in major decline. Then came the mysterious symptoms no doctor could adequately explain. With her trademark humor, Fran tells of her indefatigable search for answers and the cancer diagnosis that she ultimately beat. But not before a gold mine of humorous insights were revealed to her about what really matters most in life. ... Read more

Reviews (75)

3-0 out of 5 stars Useful and an easy-read, but also self-serving
This book is a memoir of Fran Drescher's experience with uterine cancer.She does give some useful advice to all, mostly women, but not only women, who have unexplained symptoms.She reminds us that doctors are not gods, and we need to be active participants in our own health care.Ask questions, get information, speak up!For this, the book is very useful.

Drescher also does an adequate job describing her feelings as she goes through getting a diagnosis, undergoing surgery, and trying to recover.This is also useful, especially when she tells women that recovering from a hysterectomy is a Big Deal!

Her writing is mostly breezy and entertaining; however, I found it at times whiny and self-serving.She lapses into psychoanalysis a lot, which seemed a bit out of place.She sometimes goes into way more detail than I think she needed to.Some of her prose is a little rambling.And she spends many pages saying, "Look at me -- I'm The Nanny!"

Nonetheless, she has written a very honest account of her brush with cancer.It was brave of her to put herself out there, especially knowing that reviewers such as myself might find her a bit whiny.Even if she's trying to remind us how fabulous she is, she seems sincerely to be trying to help people.And for that, she gets three stars!

5-0 out of 5 stars Discussing Cancer with Humor as only Fran can
Cancer is a serious subject, yet Fran managed to write about it in a way that makes you laugh as well as cry. Sharing her experiences will help many women.

Buy this book. The information it contains is priceless. You will not be sorry.

Diane Gasparri Offutt

1-0 out of 5 stars Not worth buying
While the information Ms. Drescher gives on her symptoms and warning signs are eye-openers, the book itself is a disappointing waste of paper. Her whining and pettiness has turned what was once a devoted fan of hers to someone who is so glad I don't have to live with someone so selfish and self-absorbed in my life. Wish I could get my money back from Ms. Drescher, no wonder she's not on TV anymore.

5-0 out of 5 stars i like fran
I am a fan of Ms. Drescher and I enjoyed reading this intimate account of a diificult chapter in her life.Plus, it's a great true story of how shrinks are quacks and medical doctors, unless they have some kind of alternative training, are uninformed, cruel, and totally lacking proper bedside manner.They also lack effective diagnostic skills and humane treatments.So I guess MD's are quacks too!

3-0 out of 5 stars An easy read, more for fun than information...
I purchased this book at the dollar store so I really had nothing to lose.It was an easy read that didn't require much mental or emotional commitment.I agree with the other reviewers that there is a good message re: not ignoring any symptoms... I also agree with many of the reviewers who commented on Drescher's whininess.She doesn't seem to get how self centered she comes across.I don't begrudge her for being rich and priveleged, but have some tact for the readers your book will inevitably draw, i.e. less priveleged cancer patients.Fran never lost an opportunity to complain about something, or to mention someone's admiration of her.It was brutally honest in a bad sense of revealing unimportant details of her bowel movements (not relevant) and the same with her sex life with her new boyfriend, she shared more than I cared to know. And yet, there were areas where honest revelation would have been interesting and helpful to others, but never occurred. In the end, this is a book which passes the time and piques some interest without being very memorable.Not bad for a dollar though! ... Read more

162. Into That Good Night (Thorndike Press Large Print Nonfiction Series)
by Ron Rozelle
list price: $27.95
our price: $27.95
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Asin: 0783889631
Catlog: Book (2000-03-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 920845
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (15)


4-0 out of 5 stars Into That Good Night
A memoir called Into That Good Night by Ron Rozelle,
is the story told from Ron's point of view when he was
growing up in Oakwood and even in his present day
life. It talks about segregation in schools and in
some stores throughout the town where he grew up. This
book shows the change Ron goes through with his family
when his mother becomes sick with lung cancer. Ron
learns to appreciate his family much more as he got
older and started to realize he won't have parents
forever. He ultimately realizes this when his father
looses his battle with Alzheimer's disease. You also
see segregation come to an end in Oakwood as time
progresses. You see the town where everyone knew
everyone suddenly become very lonely and empty after
most of the population got old and passed away. There
weren't many people moving in to Oakwood because it
didn't have many job opportunities.
Ron wrote this book in a then and now format. Every
other chapter switches, describing his child hood and
what happened in the future. It is a little confusing
but you catch on right away. It's very interesting
this way because it keeps you wondering, "What
happened to Ron".
Ron's ability to describe things just painted a clear
picture of what everything was like for him back then
in my mind. He gets right to the point when he rights,
it's not hard to comprehend or anything. That is what
is likeable about his style of writing. He writes in a
very appealing manner. Into That Good Night's main
focus is about Ron's relationship with his dad.
Ron and his father were very close because Ron's
father is a very calm kind of guy. He doesn't show
much emotion where as his mother is described as moody
and not afraid to yell when something makes his mad.
This is why he had more of a connection with his
father because in many ways he was like his father.
Ron is not quick to show emotion either. Ron and his
father form a special bond.
Ron graduates high school and is drafted in to the
military. He gets shipped off to Germany for a year.
In the mean time, his mother's health is decreasing.
She is getting worse and the doctors say she doesn't
have much time left. She started chain smoking when
Ron was a kid and that led her to her deathbed.
Fortunately Ron got to say goodbye to his mom right
before he headed off to the airport to be shipped off.
He felt that finally, he and his mother were at peace
with each other.
Ron and his dad form a strong bond after Ron gets
back from the Army and gets his own apartment. His dad
comes to visit him and they spend quality time
together. A few years later Ron's father eventually
re-marries and lives with his new wife. When Ron's
father gets in his older years he starts forgetting
things. His loss of memory starts increasing and he's
even forgetting simple things like where he is. He is
diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
What is Ron going to do when one of the most
important people in his life is starting to forget who
his own son is. What is it like to die not remembering
what your life was like and what your legacy will be.
This story was very easy to relate to. It is a very
easy understanding and likeable memoir of Ron Rozelle.

5-0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written memoir
A beautifully written memoir by Ron Rozelle whose father had Alzheimer's.Set in the author's hometown, a small town in east Texas, this account reflects not only on the time Alzheimer's affected his dad, but there are flashbacks to his years of growing up in that town and remembered incidents in his family.This book, deservingly so, was a PEN America West Creative Nonfiction Prize finalist and a Texas Institute of Letters Carr P. Collins Nonfiction Award finalist.It is good, relaxing reading as a coming-of-age in a small town story as well as an Alzheimer's memoir.

5-0 out of 5 stars Should be an Oprah book club selection
My parents grew up in Oakwood and knew Ron's father, and that's why I read this book.However, it's a beautifully written story, and you don't have to have an Oakwood or Texas connection to appreciate it.It's a very realslice of life and captures moments with poignancy and realism.I felt likeI was there with him during all parts of the story.Oprah-this is yourkind of book-a wonderful snapshot of simple but complex nuances of smalltown life. Bravo, Ron!

5-0 out of 5 stars An awesome through the mind of a smalltown boy.
I am a student of Mr. Rozelle at St. Thomas High School in Houston, Tx. After reading Mr. Rozelle's book and attending his creative writing course; I now love to write. He awakened the writer inside of me. His enthusiastic styles of teaching and this incredible book have inspired me to write amemoir of my own. I firmly suggest that all persons read this book, despitecertain taste. It is a masterpiece that everyone can relate to. Thank youMr. Rozelle; for inspiring me to become a fellow lover of the art ofwriting. ... Read more

163. Cybill Disobedience: How I Survived Beauty Pageants, Elvis, Sex, Bruce Willis, Lies, Marriage, Motherhood, Hollywood, and the Irrepressible Urge to Sa ... ink (Thorndike Press Large Print Core Series)
by Cybill Shepherd, Aimee Lee Ball
list price: $30.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0783891458
Catlog: Book (2000-09-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 687031
Average Customer Review: 3.75 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Few women in the past three decades have lit up the American imagination like Cybill Shepherd. From wholesome beauty queen to saucy cover girl, from heartbreaking movie star (The Last Picture Show) to one of television's most beloved comediennes (Moonlighting and Cybill), she has imbued each of her roles--right down to her current passions as devoted mother of three, champion of women's issues, and sultry cabaret singer--with an indomitable spirit that has made her, at fifty, a female icon to an entire generation. Now in her much-anticipated memoir, she tells her remarkable story with humor, pathos, and more highlights than her famously blond hair. Cybill has absorbed the lessons of Southern womanhood, including the whispered message about sex: Wait until you're married, then you won't enjoy it, and certainly never speak of it. She gleefully disobeyed these and other rules of decorum in a career laced with controversy, featuring unforgettable cameos by Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich, Orson Welles, Robert De Niro, and Jeff Bridges. Whether stepping on Elvis's blue suede shoes or going toe-to-toe with Bruce Willis, Cybill has never held anything back, and it's all in Cybill Disobedience, including:

the night a network executive tried to barter thirteen episodes for a horizontal tour of Cybill's bedroom

why she'll never be invited back to Ryan O'Neal's beach house or Marlon Brando's island

the time she greeted David Letterman in nothing but a towel

the real reason two of television's most popular and acclaimed series, died premature deaths

how she made Richard Nixon blush for the first and only time in his life

From her Memphis roots to her insider's track in Hollywood, Cybill Shepherd is a woman who has weathered every onslaught and withstood every rebuke to emerge as a luminous model of endurance, courage, and an insatiable lust for life. ... Read more

Reviews (64)

3-0 out of 5 stars Cybill jumps into bed with any man/ learns little with age.
This is a very shallow book about Cybill's life. She tells all about her numerous, and I mean numerous affairs--Elvis doesn't care for oral sex, she engaged in a threesome with a stuntman,so on and so forth. Cybill constantly reminds the reader of her beauty, a picture of her and former lover Bogdonavich is quoted "We're Peter and Cybill and you aren't". Bruce Willis comments to her that he can't say his lines because she is so beautiful. And she feels that only God could love her for qualities other than her blondeness. Enough already-we all know you are beautiful Cybill. Cybill doesn't seem to grow much intellectaully with age through the book, but I guess she figures with her beauty... Buy this book if A) you want to read what makes her tick (her beauty and sexual relationships) B) You are interested in a sleezy, careless sexual lifestyle C) You need to be reminded that she is beautiful

4-0 out of 5 stars A brave look at Hollywood.
I'm not a biography reader but I loved this book. I'm also not a fast reader and started Cybill Disobedience almost exactly two months ago and read it at the same time as several other books but I didn't skip any bits because Cybill Shepherd writes well and writes about interesting topics.

Ms Shepherd immediately grabbed my interest because she's a Boomer as I am and I found that the events of her early life were recognizable to me even though I lived on the other side of the States and in a vastly different environment. I enjoyed her childhood observations and although her life had little to do with the life I'd led, those observations were accurate on a universal level. However,I found her biography a little hard to relate to in the final chapters-not a reflection on her writing but a reflection of my own contemporary distance chronologically and geographically from the personal warfare that seems to be part of the Hollywood playing field.

When all has been said, I thought her prose was a reflection of her speech-quick, slightly acerbic, intelligent and levened with deadpan humour. Cybill Disobedience was a wonderful read and I would recommend it to anyone.

2-0 out of 5 stars You have to be a big fan, to find all of this interesting.
Some interesting comments about show business, and about some of the people she worked with, and went to bed with. The last part, about her TV show, "Cybill," would only interest a BIG fan of the show. (Who did what and who said what about the show's individual episodes isn't exactly gripping reading.) (I'm glad it's a short book.)

5-0 out of 5 stars Not bad; racy
I had never even seen Cybil in anything and picked out her book on a whim. The book was quite racy reflecting her "Just Do It" lifestyle. I did not count how many men she said she slept with but I'm guessing it was around 40 and this was in 2000. I felt sorry for her as she had learned very little in her 50 years about love. She blames a lot of people for being difficult especially her coworkers but the reader cannot help but wonder if she was really always the victim. Alas, buy the book- it's a good read. Just don't emulate her life.

4-0 out of 5 stars You have to be a fan......
To really enjoy this book, you have to be a fan of Cybill Shepherd. Just to read it for the gossip is not enough. I've always enjoyed watching her in her various projects. This book just tells her side, true, but it it written in an honest and no holds barred way, warts and all. If you are interested in a book about a lady who has done a lot of living, and somehow come thru it, this is it. ... Read more

164. The Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Speech That Inspired a Nation (Thorndike Press Large Print American History Series)
by Drew D. Hansen
list price: $29.95
our price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 078626232X
Catlog: Book (2004-02-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 1068916
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A riveting account of the origins and legacy of "I Have a Dream"

Forty years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. electrified the nation when he delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. King's prophetic utterances started the long overdue process of changing America's idea of itself. His words would enter the American lexicon, galvanizing the civil rights movement, becoming a touchstone for all that the country might someday achieve.

The Dream is the first book about Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legendary "I Have a Dream" speech. Opening with an enthralling account of the August day in 1963 that saw 250,000 Americans converge at the March on Washington, The Dream delves into the fascinating and little-known history of King's speech. Hansen explores King's compositional strategies and techniques, and proceeds to a brilliant analysis of the "I Have a Dream" speech itself, examining it on various levels: as a political treatise, a work of poetry, and as a masterfully delivered and improvised sermon bursting with biblical language and imagery.

In tracing the legacy of "I Have a Dream" since 1963, The Dream insightfully considers how King's incomparable speech "has slowly remade the American imagination," and led us closer to King's visionary goal of a redeemed America.

... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Power of God in Man
Martin Luther King was not an unusual black man; in fact, he wanted much of what many black men before him, probably all black men and women wanted. But Martin Luther King was a very unusual man, who happened to be black. His degree of passion, his conviction, his hope, and his perseverance were unlike most before him, and most after him, with the inspired, God given desire to make the world a better place for everyone, including blacks. His vision was not just the result of respect and reliance by his people, it was divinely inspired so that his passion, his hope emerged and blossomed before millions, many of whom were not familiar with him, his history, or his prominence and reputation. He was possessed of those rare qualities, and that rare talent, of the ability to inspire others to believe in themselves, and the world, that they had the dignity to alter their own dynamics, the manner in which they lived, and in the manner in which they were treated by others. As an evangelist, he was superb. For that, like Jesus, and many other prophets who have been threatening to the status quo, his ability to show others the way to self respect and to peace were certainly the force of why his life was taken so early, and so brutally. He was more than a leader; he was a messiah for the many black people who had waited so long for one to lead them out of the psychological bondage which was still very real to them. He positioned himself to show the way, and how to do it in the least offensive manner possible, by non-violence. He was a pillar of strength that even whites unfamiliar with him understood the necessity of yielding to God's will, instinctively knowing that all men were equal, and that all needed the recognition of being equal. Indeed, whites were aware of their obligation under the Constitution to recognize that equality but felt no compulsion to expect it of themselves until Martin forced them to face the truth they had so long avoided. Not only did he demand of blacks the energy and commitment to themselves, he demanded the energy and commitment of whites to respect themselves by being brave enough to help resolve the problem that had long festered in American social reality. The timing was right; the message was right, and Martin was right. He allowed none out of God's boat and helped everyone see that upon that ship, we were all afloat upon the ocean of humanity, and would indeed survive or perish. That message remains very much a part of his legacy, and today's reality although we face other issues as well, and the issues are now broader than ever. No one on earth has the option to say no to God and expect that it will be of no consequence to the world. He was the most remarkable of men that America has ever produced guided by his own devine light within as a beacon of humanity for all to follow.

4-0 out of 5 stars More than a cuddly icon
Let me get first vent about the frustrating parts of this book before I get to the good stuff. First, at 229 pages of text, this was a rather short book, made shorter by Hansen's annoying habit of repeating important stretches of speeches. Second, the chapter analyzing the various drafts of the speech is probably better suited to a scholarly dissection of the speech than to a popular book. As was the chapter describing King's preaching style. And I got tired of ascribing every change in the speech to MLK's "genius". The man was exhausted, under threat and working on the run. Surely some of his decisions could have gone differently?

But minor grumpiness aside, I found this book hard to put down. The description of the organization for the August 1963 March on Washington was fascinating in its details about the people who attended it. One got the impression that the day was pretty disorganized, with the crowd making decisions on its own about when to start marching. Hansen also did a nice job of showing the internal disharmonies among groups within "the movement," as well as hinting that MLK's leadership done to him rather than pursued by him -- less because of his ability to manage and lead than because of his philosophical sophistication, personal courage, stamina and eloquence. That King comes across as a preacher and a prophet (as opposed to a great organizer) does him no disservice, but actually helps to humanize him and make the Civil Rights movement more real. Hansen did a nice job handling the post-1963 life of the speech. He is honest about the impatience that some blacks felt about the 'dreaminess' of the speech, especially as the movement's gains stalled and the violence continued. Hansen nicely captures the slightly radioactive nature of the speech among national politicians (many of whom were wary of King's alleged Communist sympathies) in the years before King's death and the cloyingly hagiographic tributes about King and the speech after 1968.

Hansen shows how King's memory has been sanitized and rendered harmless by linking him exclusively with the "I Have a Dream" speech. In opposing the Jim Crow laws, a main (but not the only) point of the speech, King targeted a system that was abhorrent to Northern whites and a source of shame to many in the South. Getting rid of it was the relatively easy matter of making the abuses public. But King's next targets proved more difficult -- the hard work of eliminating more subtle forms of racism from American hearts on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. King's premature death allowed Americans to accept him as a national martyr and prophet, but ironically delayed the more difficult soul-searching about America's war plans in Vietnam, its endemic racism and the blind economic violence perpetrated against the poor and powerless.

5-0 out of 5 stars "I have a dream" - more than just a speech
I read "The Dream" in one sitting this weekend. The book vividly recaptures the spirit of the time during which Rev. King developed and delivered this inspiring and world-changing speech. At first I was afraid that the author's decomposition of the speech would diminish the power and effectiveness of the speech. On the contrary, his deep exploration into the speech itself and the events leading up to that day, together with fresh perspectives on the moment itself and the years following its delivery enhanced my admiration for both the speech and Rev. King. The author's inescapable conclusion is that there was much, much more at work than a man delivering a televised speech to a supportive crowd. This singular moment in Rev. King's life was the catalyst for much of the advancement that we all benefit from today. Yet this same event is also being used by some to impede further progress in the complete fulfillment of The Dream. This is a book I can wholeheartedly recommend for anyone who wants to learn about the history of that day and its subsequent impact over the next 40 years. It will also be of particular relevance to those with an interest in public speaking.

5-0 out of 5 stars King of the Dream
I've listened to King's famous speech dozens of times and read a number of books on King, but it wasn't until reading Hansen's captivating description and analysis of the speech that I realized how little I knew about this seminal event in American history.This book is unusual in that it is both hugely readable and phenomenally informative and insightful.

4-0 out of 5 stars Places Speech in Proper Context
I recommend this book. It is a quick, informative and enjoyable read esp if you are interested in how a speech is prepared and delivered.

I agree that the "I Have a Dream" speech has become a cliche among many and ignores King's post-1963 life.

It would be nice if the book could have contained a CD of the speech but the King family owns the rights to the speech, I think, a point not ever addressed by the author. ... Read more

165. Time Present, Time Past: A Memoir (Thorndike Large Print Americana Series)
by Bill Bradley
list price: $27.95
our price: $27.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786207264
Catlog: Book (1996-07-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 874087
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A superb memoir that concludes with an exciting vision of what this country can be, Time Present, Time Past recounts a classic American journey. Former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley speaks with affection about his small-town upbringing, traces the road he took through professional sports to public service, and vividly brings to life the world of a U.S. senator. ... Read more

Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars A great look at America
Bradley takes a thoughtful look at his life and many issues that faceAmerica.I liked reading of his Missouri youth and NBA days, plus hisanalysis of economic change, media sensationalism, and the corrosiveinfluence of money on politics.Bradley's superb (if short) discourse onthe inner workings of the U.S. Senate provides the type of usefulinformation one never gets from our sound-bite media. Bradley even takesissues like water policy and shows why they matter.The Senator'sblame-whites-only view of racial divisions was rather naive, but even herehe makes some points.This book is more than a readable memoir; it's acompassionate, thought-inspiring look at America.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Book
book with tremendous depth, dedication and ideas.. America is unfortunate to not to have man like Senator Bradley as President

5-0 out of 5 stars "The Senator, Statesman, Leader, and all around good man"
In this intelligent, thoughtful, witty,and captivating memoir Bill Bradley tells stories about America and indivdual Americans while espousing his beliefs about what the nation has become and what it should be. The booktranscends the traditional memoir of a politician as it chooses to speakmore about the effects of policy rather than what particular policy canbenefit our society. The reader feels the former Senator's compassion forthe human condition and understands why he would be a wonderful leader. Itis a must read for anyone who believes the hardships that face the nationcan be overcome.

5-0 out of 5 stars Time Present, Time Past is time well spent
Time Present, Time Past clearly dispels the myth that Senator Bradley is an aloof, impersonal leader--as some pundits charged during his presidential campaign.Moreover, the engrossing content frequentlychallenges readers to ponder the profound observations offered by Bradley. Two chapters emerge from the book as particularly touching; they arethe one dealing with Bradley's colorful aunt and uncle, and the onedetailing his fascinating theology.Those interested in SenatorBradley's career, or those simply searching for a readable biography, wouldbe well served to order Time Present, Time Past.

4-0 out of 5 stars Another reason to love Bill Bradley
I have read a number of political books & memoirs, and I think I can count the times I chuckled on one hand.Until I picked up Mr. Bradley's wonderful, engaging, self-depricating, insightful "Time Present, TimePast."

Now, I am not saying that it is a laugh-a-minute book.Notat all.It just has the tone of reading a particularly well-written letterfrom a friend.Bradley is candid about his own faults, refreshingly directabout his political views and his mistakes.

The structure of the textis interesting -- it is non-linear, which makes it even more compelling. It takes the reader through a free-association voyage on the 1992 campaigntrail, learning tidbits about Bradley and politics all the way.

But thereal reason to read this book is not because Bill Bradley is funny (whichhe is) or because he can craft a good turn of phrase (which he can) orbecause he is interesting (which he is).

The real reason is that thisbook is about the essence of what American politics could be, if everyonewere even half as excited as Bill Bradley.His absolute integity andleadership shine through every page of the book.

Highly recommended. ... Read more

166. The Broken Cord (G K Hall Large Print Book Series)
by Michael Dorris
list price: $21.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0816150184
Catlog: Book (1990-11-01)
Publisher: G. K. Hall & Company
Sales Rank: 1054686
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The controversial national bestseller that received unprecedented media attention, sparked the nation's interest in the plight of children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and touched a nerve in all of us. Winner of the 1989 National Book Critics Circle Award. ... Read more

Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars From a future teachers point of view
Dorris's intent in writing this text is to enlighten people about the disease called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. His primary focus is how Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is affecting the Native American culture. However, he does mention how this disease knows no limits of culture and is occurring across all nationalities.
The various parts of the text are divided into Dorris's denial, tolerance and then acceptance of the effects of FAS. Dorris writes about his life as a single parent, when at the age of 26 he decides to adopt a child. Dorris was informed about his adopted son Adam having problems developing. He thought that with enough love and nurturing Adam could overcome any obstacles. The beginning part of the text Dorris is in denial. He blames Adam's shortcomings on a slow start, bias tests, and incompetent assessments. Dorris writes, "I periodically concluded that Adam's teachers must be incompetent, badly trained, or lazy when they failed to stimulate his performance in the classroom."(p. 65)
Dorris has trouble even thinking that his son might have a problem. Once Dorris adopted two more children, he noticed that the other children developed very fast in comparison to Adam and soon were at the same level of Adam. He still held out hope that Adam would have some hidden talent that would balance out his shortcomings. This is the part of the text where he tolerated the fact that Adam was different than most children his age. Dorris still had not grasped the extent of the damage the drinking Adam's birth mother had caused. Dorris does seem to have a breaking point when he leaves with his wife to a dinner party and the children are left alone. At this point Adam is 19 and he breaks a pipe in his parents' bathroom. He then turns off the light, shuts the bathroom door, and goes to his bedroom. Dorris and his wife come home to find the house flooded. They clean up the mess without saying a word and go to bed. This event is their final defeat at thinking Adam will ever have the independence of living alone.
From this point the text takes a turning point where Dorris starts to accept that Adam is the person he is and no amount of love and nurturing can completely erase the effects of FAS. Dorris and his wife find a vocational program where Adam can find employment and living accommodations. Adam works at a bowling alley and Dorris goes to visit Adam on a lunch break. Dorris has partially accepted that Adam's development and choices will not change. On the other hand, as a parent he cannot fight the urge to give unsolicited advice. I do not view his comments on how Adam should eat or take care of himself better as Dorris still in denial. I believe that a parent will always have the insatiable urge to give unsolicited advice no matter what developmental stage their child is at.
I would recommend this text to other students with the explanation that this text was written when FAS was very new and when little information was out about FAS. This text gives a good start into what FAS is and what are the effects of FAS. The text also goes into depth the love of a parent for a disabled child so that a future teacher can further understand from what experiences a parent might come from.
The strengths of the text include Dorris not sugar coating FAS and his ability to reveal all the ups and downs of Adams life as well as his own. In my personal life, I am looking at becoming a mother and the plain way he has explained the dangers of even occasional drinks during pregnancy have made me scrutinize my old beliefs. I can also empathize with Dorris and Adam's accomplishments and disappointments through the style of writing Dorris employs in his text.
The main weakness of the text is that most of the data is outdated. The book was written about 14 years ago. As stated earlier, this text is a good start to understanding FAS. However, this text starts only a foundation to understanding FAS. Further research is needed to fully understand the current techniques for working with a child that suffers from FAS.
While reading this text I kept asking myself how I would implement the information given into teaching procedures within my classroom. The main point I kept coming back to was a quote stated, "Perhaps the single most important coping skills when working with FAS/FAE is a sense of humor."(p. 347) If a sense of humor is not kept then there is no focus. As an educator or parent, if there is no sense of humor then all sanity is lost. The stress of perfection will put too much pressure on the child as well as the facilitator.
My overall impression of this text is one of mixed emotion. At first I thought the text would just contain depressing stories with some insight. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself laughing at certain parts like when Dorris spent a week making the perfect train cake for Adams sixth birthday and the comical fiasco that followed. After reading the text I was intrigued about how Adams future had turned out. I investigated and was saddened to read that Adam was killed at age 23 in a hit and run accident. I was further upset to read that Michael Dorris committed suicide when abuse charges were pending. Real life does not always paint a beautiful picture when we search for truth and hope.

4-0 out of 5 stars Powerful, but not recommended as intro. to FAS
This is a vivid and moving account of a father's initiation into (single) parenthood and the rigorous journey of seeing a handicapped child into adulthood. It is both laugh-out-loud funny and profoundly sad. This book works best on the level of personal story-- what it means to live with a child who will never be normal, as you both fear and deny the reality that your kid is handicapped. (As the adoptive mother of a girl who has a constellation of emotional and psychological problems, but with no definitive cause, I could relate to Dorris' experience.) For me, the book bogged down in Dorris' lengthy research findings pertaining to FAS and its impact on native american communities. Dorris adopted his son, Adam, with no forewarning of Adam's FAS diagnosis and wrote the book during the early days of FAS research. Therefore, this info. was groundbreaking at the time of the book's publication, but it is dated today. Because this book is the story of only one individual-- one who was extremely handicapped by his condition-- it paints a pretty depressing picture of FAS, and the book is NOT one I would recommend first to anyone who had just taken on the responsibility of raising a child with FAS or FAE. There are more ways to treat and support individuals with FAS/FAE than were available when Dorris was raising Adam, and foster and adoptive parents of FAS/FAE children need to be pointed to resources that give them a broader view of the possibilities for their youngsters.

5-0 out of 5 stars The story of a father and son
It would be a shame if the circumstances surrounding the author's death cast a shadow over this fine book, because it is beautifully written, deeply felt, and a devastating account of the impact of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) among Native Americans.

Michael Dorris, a young unmarried college teacher and writer, adopts a Native American boy "Adam" whose developmental problems, he believes, are the result of poor nutrition, poor health care, and lack of proper parenting. In time, however, he discovers that Adam was born with FAS, a condition Dorris knows very little about. Believing that proper care can reverse the effects of FAS, he takes on the daunting and nearly futile task of helping Adam achieve a "normal" boyhood. The damage done, it turns out, is irreversible; Adam is almost maddeningly unable to learn simple tasks and responsibilities. FAS-related health problems, including seizures, often turn merely difficult days and nights into nightmares for the single father.

The book Dorris writes is meant as an eye-opener for readers who are unaware of the potential harm in consuming alcohol during pregnancy. Given naturally to research and study, he shares with the reader much of what he learns about FAS and the Native American culture that has had such a fatal connection with alcohol. To that extent, this is almost a textbook on the subject.

But this is also the story of a father and son, and most poignant, for this reader, is the relationship between them that is a thread throughout the book. Dorris never surrenders to the barriers that exist between him and his son. Having taken responsibility for Adam, he gives his all to making even the smallest difference in the boy's life. It's a heroic effort and often heartbreaking.

1-0 out of 5 stars One of the worst books I have ever read
In my 9th grade English class, we were allowed to choose from six books the book we wanted to read. I chose this book for the sole reason of reading about the actual life of Michael Dorris, and not at all about the Native American inclination to alcoholism or the implications of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). As I started reading it, I found it painfully difficult to read the endless chapters of technical terms and Dorris' own interpretation of Native Americans, which turned out to be most of the book. I did find the parts where he described actual events that happened to Adam and him somewhat interesting, but that was the farthest extent to which I enjoyed this book. I was forced to continue reading this book since it was for my English class, but otherwise I would have stopped long before the second half. However, since I had no other option, I chose to be optimistic, thinking that the book couldn't possibly get any worse. It got worse. Especially the part where he interviews the FAS researchers, in which he asked them the exact same questions, and recieved the exact same answers. The final thing that bothered me about this book was Dorris' use of language. Intricate vocabulary and complex sentence structure do, to some extent, make the prose more enjoyable, but his word choice made the book difficult to understand and even more difficult to enjoy. My last statement will be this: All the other reviewers of this book may have enjoyed it because of their interest in FAS, and that was why they enjoyed it so much. So if you're looking for a book about a man and his adopted child, and their relationship, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK. But if you are looking for information on FAS, by all means, disregard this review.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Facts, Plus Much More
"The Broken Cord" is the heart-wrenching story of a young man, single and in graduate school, who adopts a developmentally disabled boy who, like himself, has Native American ancestry. The man learns gradually that his son suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, just as the medical community is starting to figure out what Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is. As a child psychologist, I have found the information in this book invaluable. You can read research papers, journal articles, and textbooks to learn all of the facts of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (a complex set of deficits caused by in utero exposure to alcohol), but "The Broken Cord" goes well beyond that and lets you know what it's like to live with, raise, and love a child with this disorder. This book is full of love, pain, and limited triumphs. It is also very well-written. Have a box of tissues handy. ... Read more

167. Never Die Easy: The Autobiography of Walter Payton (Thorndike Large Print Biography Series)
by Walter Payton, Don Yaeger
list price: $28.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786231262
Catlog: Book (2001-02-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 305094
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Walter Payton's premature passing forced a rethinking of hisautobiography that completely sidesteps the self-importance that dominatessports memoirs in general. Never Die Easy isn't a traditionalautobiography at all. It's an oral history disguised as autobiography thatrelates the saga of the most exquisite running back in NFL history through aninterweaving of Payton's words and the words of those who knew him, withnecessary transitions and narrative bridged by his collaborator. The result isan appealing hybrid that mirrors Payton's quiet modesty. "He had not just been agreat football player," writes Yaeger, "he had been a role model in an age whenrole models were in short supply."

The Payton that emerges is a man of great skill, decency, passion, and charity:a man beloved. Naturally, there's lots of football in Never Die Easy--thetitle comes from a saying of Payton's college coach--with eyewitness testimonyprovided by the likes of Mike Ditka, Mike Singletary, Jim McMahon, FrancoHarris, Matt Suhey, and even Jim Brown, whose career rushing record Paytonleaped over. But there is also lots of family: the voices of his wife, children,brother, and sister are heard.

But mostly, there is Walter Payton. It's his own unmistakably high-pitched voicethat resonates throughout; he sets down the melody and the others harmonize.Payton was certainly astute about the game and his abilities, forthcoming bothin triumph and failure--his unsuccessful attempt at winning the NFL franchise inSt. Louis was a terrible post-career blow--and utterly decent. How many othersuperstar athletes could say, convincingly, "Too many of us only take. We don'tgive." Payton gave to the end--a man who died for want of an organ was willingand eager to donate his own. It was the ultimate testimony of his refined,unforgettable Sweetness. Never Die Easy offers a fair, honest,appreciative taste. --Jeff Silverman ... Read more

Reviews (29)

5-0 out of 5 stars An American treasure lost
I have been a long time Bear fan, and a Walter Payton fan,yes I knew about "Sweetness'", his tricks and how his team mates loved him, but I didn't know about Walter Payton the man, and what a man! I think the man is more amazing than the player, all the lives he touched, kids who never had a Christmas, he gave them one, the everyday common folk who he would stop and talk to, how he made them feel that he really cared about them, and he really did!, his wonderful family, he had a great Mother and Father, and Connie, his wife, what a piller of strenght!, Jarrett and Brittney, his fine children, what great kids! the love Walter recieved from them gave him endurance. This book is not about football, it's about life and how we all should strive to make our life better and live each day to the fullest, and tell all our loved ones that we love them each day! As I read this book, I grew to love the man and respect the player, the more I would read, the harder it became, I shed a ton of tears, and when I am reminded of Walter, I still mist up. What this world needs is a heck of a lot more Walter Paytons. God be with you Walter.

5-0 out of 5 stars Greatness
Walter Payton was my hero growing up.I starting following him when in 1983 when I was 9 years old.Walter was unique on the football field and in many ways superior to most players today.Unlike many stars today, his off the field behavior and attitudes and values were truely excellent and did not let kids down the way so many do today.

This book was written in a different format than most, but was very insightful, especially since you not only get to see Walter from his point of view, but from others as well.

He will be missed!

5-0 out of 5 stars "The Greatest Bear of Them All"
In this book about Walter Payton there is a lot of good information about him.The title "Never Die Easy," means that when Payton was sick with cancer he fought as long as he could and didn't complain about the pain.When Payton was diagnosed with cancer they told him he had a certain amount of time to live but he overcame that and lived two more years.He has one son (Jerrett Payton) and one daughter (Brittney).Walter's brother Eddie would come to the hospital and talk with him but when Walter was let out, him and Eddie would go out and hane a good time.Although Payton was one of the greatest football players he was a better person to his family, friends, and people.In the book there is a picture of Payton running up a hill, this picture shows him training as he works toward his accomplishments as a running back in the NFL.At the 1987 mark in the picture is where he retired form football.The famous hill in the photograph is named "Payton's Hill," his honor.Walter Payton was inducted in the Hall of Fame in July of 1993.His life was one of the roughest but he made the best of it and has the book to prove it.This is one of the best books I have read and probably will read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Never Die Easy
Shaun V
Book Review

Never Die Easy by Walter Payton with Don Yeager is a story of a boys childhood and how he got to where only a selected few go.The NFL.
Walter Payton grew up in Mississippi where sports was the only thing that kids could enjoy.Walter grew up with his mother, father, sister Pam, and brother Eddie.Every summer Walter's mother would have a truck load of topsoil delivered to the front yard to keep them out of trouble.That's how Walter developed all of his leg power.Walter loved to play baseball and football.He and his brother, Eddie always played sports.
During his first two years of high school, Walter was in the band and played soccer, until his brother Eddie became the star quarterback of the football team.Since then he only loved to play football.Walters junior year he was the starting varsity running back.He broke many school as well as state records.He trained non-stop because football was his life.
College was Walters time to shine.He went to Jackson State University. During his freshman year he shared a dorm with his brother because he was currently attending that same college.At Jackson State, Walter met his future wife, Connie.They were inseparable.Walter went on the TV show "Soul Train" because he love to dance.He was an excellent dancer due to his center of balance which helped him as a running back.Playing football in college wasn't any different than high school ball to him.He still dominated the playing field.Up next was the NFL draft.
Walter was drafted in the first round by the Chicago Bears.He has never been in such a cold city, he had to adjust quickly.He was so nervous of making a good impression to the loyal fans of Chicago, that his first year wasn't so hot.He rushed for under 300 yards that season.While playing for the Bears he broke Jim Brown's all-time rushing record .During his football career he only missed one game due to a slight ankle sprain.After every game Walter would stay after to sign autographs for his fans." Nothing is as important to me as spending time with my fans.They are so loyal".Retirement came thirteen years later.
After football, Walter became a business partner for several small business chains across America.He donated to a lot of charities for diseases and he also donated a lot of his time to the city of Chicago.It wasn't only money that he donated.He donated a lot ofhis time to fans that were sick in hospitals and became a motivational speaker.
A few years later he was diagnosed with a disease that effected his liver.There were thousands already in line for a transplant, he was at the end.He was a very wealthy man and could have paid for thousands of treatments that would slower the process.He did as much as he could but the cancer had spread.He put those thoughts behind him and continued to do his charity work.Walter's son Jarrett was going to a Division I college at the University Of Miami.Walter couldn't have been any prouder.
Soon after Walter died on November 1, 1999.
In Never Die Easy, it shows you how to live life to it's fullest.Everyday Walter lived his life as it were to be his last.He didn't let anything or anyone stand in his way.When he had cancer he just told himself that he still had enough time to accomplish more.This book also showed how important family is.It isn't everyday you see someone's son announce their father's introduction speech in to the Hall of Fame.
In my opinionNever Die Easywas a really good book and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys sports.

1-0 out of 5 stars Never Die Easy ( the Walter Payton autobiography)
Being so ignorant of football, I did not even know who Walter Payton was until he died.When I read the book I found how important he was to the football association.It gave a better understanding of his disease that attacked his liver. It told the story of a once unstoppable football player to someone only a fraction his normal size and weigt, but he never lost his faith and continued fighting until his last days in his home with his family.I hadno idea how hard it is to find a donor for a liver.Also the medications he had to take and how sick they made him, and also having to have a cathiter placed in his chest to draw blood and for IVs since his veins were so weak. This man touched the lives of millions and even though he was sick he never asked why and made it a vow to never die easy. ... Read more

168. Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time
by Dava Sobel
list price: $24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0753150360
Catlog: Book (1998-01-01)
Publisher: ISIS Audio
Sales Rank: 1375598
Average Customer Review: 3.89 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

An exciting scientific adventure from the days of wooden ships and iron men, Longitude is full of heroism and chicanery, brilliance and the absurd.It is also a captivating brief history of astronomy, navigation and clockmaking.

For centuries, the determination of longitude was thought to be an impossibility.Lacking the ability to measure their longitude, sailors throughout the great ages of exploration had been literally lost at sea as soon as they lost sight of land.

The quest for a solution had occupied scientists for the better part of two centuries when, in 1714, England's Parliament upped the ante by offering a king's ransom -- £20,000, or about $12,000,000 in today's currency -- to anyone whose method or device proved successful.Countless quacks weighed in with preposterous suggestions.

Then one man -- an unschooled woodworker named John Harrison -- dared to imagine a mechanical solution, a clock that would keep precise time at sea, something no clock had ever been able to do on land.Longitude is the dramatic human story of an epic scientific quest, and of Harrison's forty-year obsession with building his perfect timekeeper, known today as the chronometer.
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Reviews (209)

4-0 out of 5 stars Amazing subject, fascinating story
With "Longitude" Dava Sobel has written a very interesting book about the greatest scientific problem of the 18th century.

As a result of the 1707-shipwreck story (with a loss of 4 out of the 5 ships), the English Parliament offered in 1714 a 20.000 pounds reward to the person that could provide a practicable and useful way of determining longitude. (If you have forgot, longitude is the "lines" that runs from pole to pole). Not being able to determining longitude was a great problem. Ships spent excessive time trying to find its way back to port, or worse men, ship and cargo were lost at sea.

John Harrison (1693-1776) spent his lifetime trying to solve the longitude mystery. Harrison was a son of a countryman, with minimal schooling, and was self-educated in watch making. He made several timepieces, which all qualified for the reward, but the reward was delayed several times by the Longitude committee whom believed that other ways of measuring longitude were the preferred ones. Ultimately after a lot of harassment and trouble, Harrison was given the reward money.

Dava Sobel has done a wonderful job in this book, capturing Harrison's fascinating character, his brilliance, preserving and hard working nature. The author has also managed to strike a perfect balance between technical jargon and personal anecdotes, and she does it in such a way permitting the lay readers of the book to admire the elegance of Harrison's discoveries. I believe it is a sign of excellent quality when an author makes learning so interesting.

I was hooked from the first page of this book and I read it in 50-page gulps at a time.

Highly recommended!

5-0 out of 5 stars John Harrison--an extraordinary person
John Harrison (1693-1776) spent his lifetime inventing and perfecting a series of timepieces to measure longitude. As Dava Sobel relates in her engaging narrative, "Longitude," until the 18th century sailors navigated by following parallels of latitude and roughly estimating distance traveled east or west. Ships routinely missed their destinations, often taking excessive time to arrive or succumbing to reefs off fogbound shores. Thousands of sailors and tons of cargo were lost.

In 1714, England's Parliament offered £20,000 (the equivalent of about $12 million today) to anyone who provided a "practicable and useful" means of determining longitude. Countless solutions were suggested, some bizarre, some impractical, some workable only on land and others far too complex.

Most astronomers believed the answer lay in the sky, but Harrison, a clockmaker, imagined a mechanical solution--a clock that would keep precise time at sea. By knowing the exact times at the Greenwich meridian and at a ship's position, one could find longitude by calculating the time difference. However, most scientists, including Isaac Newton, discounted a clock because there were too many variables at sea. Changes in temperature, air pressure, humidity and gravity would surely render a watch inaccurate.

Harrison persisted. As Dava Sobel writes, he worked on his timepiece for decades, though he suffered skepticism and ridicule. Even after completing his timepiece, an instrument we now call a chronometer, in 1759, he underwent a long series of unfair trials and demonstrations. Ultimately he triumphed.

Sobel, a science writer who contributes to Audubon, Life, Omni and other magazines, captures John Harrison's extraordinary character: brilliant, persevering and heroic in the face of adversity. He is a man you won't forget.

4-0 out of 5 stars Brief but enjoyable
This slim volume tells the story of John Harrison who, although untrained, built four revolutionary clocks that changed how ships navigate at sea. It also tells about the political fight Harrison was forced to fight to win recognition for his work.

Written in a easy-to-read, "magazine" tone the tale goes quickly, whole years pass in a couple sentences. I wanted more details and this is where the book disappoints but it may not be the authors fault The book hints that many events weren't recorded and more details just aren't available.

One technical note: I think the font used in this tiny, five by eight inch book is a little small and the page numbers, even smaller, aren't readable at a glance. Or maybe I'm getting old.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great story, but BEWARE of inaccuracies in this book.
John Harrison completes his first pendulum clock in 1713 before the age of 20. He made the gears for this out of wood which was radical for such a use, but as a carpenter, perhaps not to him---which is a mark of genius, I'd say; to reach beyond accepted norms in this manner. This he did after borrowing a book on math and the laws of motion; which he copied word for word, making his own copy. He incorporated different varieties of wood into his clock for strenth and later invented a bi-metal pendulum to counteract the expansion and compression of various individual metals. He also employed friction-free movements so as to do away with problematic lubricants. When intrigued by the puzzle of time at sea and the issue of longitude he contemplated substituting something not prone to gravity, as a pendulum of course is, to track times passing. In 1737 he creates a cantilevered clock 4 foot square. This the longitude board (which had offered a cash bonus to anyone who could devise a method in which time at sea could be kept) admired. Four years later he returns with an improved model; then starts on a 3rd model, like the previous two, also a fairly large sized clock.But there exists a problem within this book: An artisan freemason by the name of John Jefferys at the Worshipful Company of clockmakers befriends Harrison and then later presents to him a pocket watch in 1753. Then in 1755, while still working on his 3rd model, Harrison says this to the Longitude board: I have..."good reason to think" on the basis of a watch "already executed that such small machines[he's referring to pocketwatches] may be of great service with respect to longitude." He then completes version 3 in 1759. His fourth version appears just a year later, however, and is a 5 inch wide pocketwatch! The obvious inference made by the author is that after he received the pocketwatch from Jeffreys he seemingly put his version #3 on the backburner and soon started on the pocketwatch 4th version. The author does not claim Harrison copied anything from the Jeffreys model, but she certainly phrases this section so as to lend one to believe that this may have been the case; that Jefferys had a hand in the masterstroke invention Harrison eventually produced in version #4. This is not true. Harrison commissioned the watch he received from Jeffreys and was based on Harrison's specifications. It seems that Harrison simply asked Jeffreys to test an idea which he himself hadn't the time to attack just then; as he was still working on his 3rd version of a table-top prototype clock. Hence Harrison's above statement to the board in 1755 whence his ideas were validated by Jeffreys. In addition, the author plays up the part of the Astronomer Royal's part in attempting to impede Harrison from convincing the longitiude board of the efficacy of a time-piece solution to this problem over a celestial answer to this conundrum. The author also jazzes up the issue of whether Harrison received the prize the board promised to pay for a successful solution herein; even though the board supported him for upwards of 20 years as he pursued this quest. It's as if the author intentionally omitted some facts (that the Jefferys was a Harrison commission), and pumped up others (of a rival/foil on the board trying to impede Harrison and the compensation issue; implying that Harrison was jipped) just to make the story more compelling. John Harrison's story, however, is extremely compelling as it is and didn't need this extra spice served up by the author.Do read this (very short) book on how this Mr. Harrison solved the problem of knowing where one is when at sea; and if you're in London, visit the Old Royal Observatory and the Clockmakers museum (in the Guildhall) where you can see Harrison's wonderful creations in person. Enjoy!

4-0 out of 5 stars The Man who Captured Time so Ships could Navigate Accurately

Note: This review has been written from a city with the following position on Earth:

LATITUDE: (43 degrees 2 minutes North)
LONGITUDE: (81 degrees 9 minutes West).

In order to understand the significance of this remarkable book by Dava Sobel, the reader has to understand some words and phrases in the book's title and subtitle.

"Longitude" along with Latitude are two numbers along with compass directions that are used to fix the position of anything on the planet Earth (as in the note above). Lines of Latitude are the imaginary, parallel, horizontal lines circling the Earth with the equator (fixed by nature) being the "zero-degree parallel of latitude." Lines of Longitude or "meridians" are the imaginary lines that run top to bottom (north and south), from the Earth's North Pole to its South Pole with the "prime meridian" (established by political means) being the "zero-degree meridian of longitude." (Since the mid-1880s, the prime merdian has passed through Greenwich, England. Before this time, the imaginary line that passed through a ship's home port was usually used as the zero-degree meridian.)

Finding the latitude on land or at sea was easy and eventually a device was invented to make it even easier. But finding longitude, especially at sea on a swaying ship was difficult, a difficulty "that stumped the wisest minds of the world for the better part of human history" and was "the greatest scientific problem" of the 1700s. Ways of determining longitude astronomically were devised, but these proved to be impractical when used at sea.

England's parliament recognized that "the longitude problem" had to be solved practically since many people and valuable cargo were lost at sea when the ship's navigators lost sight of land. Thus, this parliament offered a top monetary prize that's equivalent to many millions of dollars today to anybody who could solve the problem.

Enter "a lone genius" named John Harrison (1693 to 1776). While most thought the solution to the problem was astronomical, Harrison saw time as the solution.

To calculate the longitude using time on a ship at sea, you have to realize these two facts found in this book:

(i) The Earth takes 24 hours of time to spin 360 degrees on its axis from east to west.
(ii) Noon (12:00 PM) is the highest point the sun seems to "travel" in a day.

To learn one's longitude at sea using time, as this book explains, it's necessary to do the following:

(1) Know the time it is aboard ship (local noon was normally used because of fact (ii) above).
(2) At the very same moment, know the time at a known longitude (such as at Greenwich, England).
(3) The difference in time between (1) and (2) is coverted to a longitude reading in degrees and direction (using fact (i) above).

Harrison's solution was the accurate determination of time of (2) above by inventing a reliable timepiece. This timepiece, in this case, would be set to Greenwich time. (Note that, as stated, (1) could be determined using the noon-day sun but this was not always practical. Eventually another timepiece was used to determine the ship's local noon for a particular day.) It has to be realized that this was the "era of pendulum clocks" where, on a deck of a rocking ship, "such clocks would slow down or speed up, or stop running altogether." Harrison was to capture time by building a marine clock or "timekeeper" (eventually called a "chronometer") that could be used on a ship at sea.

This book tells the "true story" of Harrison and his chronometers. (There were five built over a forty-year period. Harrison's first timekeeping device was known as H-1, his second was H-2, and so on.) Sobel uses accuracy (as evidenced by her thirty references), extensive interviews, and an engaging, mostly non-technical narrative (only essential technical detail is included) to convey a story that's filled with suspense, heroism, perfectionism, and villiany. All this in less than 200 pages!!

The only problem I had with this book is that it has hardly any pictures (photographs and illustrations). I would have liked to have seen pictures of the various people involved in this saga, maps showing where ships traveled, more photos of Harrison's amazing timepieces (both interior and exterior), and diagrams that explained important concepts. A diagram that actually showed how longitude, using a simple example, is calculated (using the steps above) would also have been helpful.

Finally, there is a good 1999 movie entitled "Longitude" based on this book. Be aware that even though this book is short, the movie is long (over three hours).

In conclusion, this book documents the exciting "true story" of how "a lone genius" solved "the longitude problem." Sobel states this more eloquently: "With his marine clocks, John Harrison tested the waters of space-time. He succeeded, against all odds, in using the fourth...dimension to link points on a three-dimensional globe. He [took] the world's whereabouts from the stars, and locked [or captured] the secret in"

<=====> ... Read more

169. A Time to Speak (Charnwood Library)
by Anthony Quayle
list price: $25.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0708986528
Catlog: Book (1992-07-01)
Publisher: Ulverscroft Large Print
Sales Rank: 1033595
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170. The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship (Wheeler Large Print Book Series (Cloth))
by David Halberstam
list price: $32.95
our price: $32.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1587244640
Catlog: Book (2003-09-01)
Publisher: Wheeler Publishing
Sales Rank: 413593
Average Customer Review: 4.54 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio, and Johnny Pesky were all members of the famed 1940's Boston Red Sox. Their legendary careers led the Red Sox to a pennant championship and ensured the men a place in sports history.

David Halberstam, the bestselling author of the baseball classic Summer of '49, has followed the members of the 1949 championship Boston Red Sox team for years, especially Williams, Doerr, DiMaggio, and Pesky. In this extremely moving book, Halberstam reveals how these four teammates became friends, and how that friendship thrived for more than 60 years.

The book opens with Pesky and DiMaggio travelling to see the ailing Ted Williams in Florida. It's the last time they will see him. The journey is filled with nostalgia and memories, but seeing Ted is a shock. The most physically dominating of the four friends, Ted now weighs only 130 pounds and is hunched over in a wheelchair. Dom, without even thinking about it, starts to sing opera and old songs like "Me and My Shadow" to his friend.

Filled with stories of their glory days with the Boston Red Sox, memories of legendary plays and players, and the reaction of the remaining three to Ted Williams' recent death, The Teammates offers us a rare glimpse into the lives of these celebrated men -- and great insight into the nature of loyalty and friendship. ... Read more

Reviews (52)

5-0 out of 5 stars "The Red Sox killed my father. Now they¿re coming after me."
The 1946 World Series match-up between Boston and the St. Louis Cardinals went to seven games before Boston finally lost the championship, and Halberstam makes this seventh game come alive in all its frustrating excitement. The book is unique, however, not because of its rehash of old ball games, but because it brings back an era, more than a half-century ago, when close and supportive friendships developed between players who spent their whole careers on the same team. Telling the story of the sixty-year friendship of baseball greats Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio, and Johnny Pesky of the Boston Red Sox, Halberstam shows the kind of friendship which was possible in an era in which players were people, not commodities.

Warm and nostalgic, the book opens in October, 2001, as Dom DiMaggio, accompanied by Boston writer Dick Flavin and Johnny Pesky, makes a melancholy car trip from Boston to Florida to pay a last visit to Ted Williams, who is dying. As the men drive from Boston to Florida, they reminisce about their playing days more than fifty years in the past, recalling anecdotes about their friendship and talking about their lives, post-baseball.

Halberstam uses these memories as the framework of this book, describing the men from their teenage years. All were from the West Coast, all were about the same age, all arrived in Boston to begin their careers within the same two-year period, and all shared similar values. Ted Williams, "the undisputed champion of contentiousness," was the most dominant of the group. Bobby Doerr was Williams's closest friend and roommate, "a kind of ambassador from Ted to the rest of the world," Doerr himself being "very simply among the nicest and most balanced men." Bespectacled Dom DiMaggio, the brother of Vince and Joe, was the consummate worker, a smart player who had been "forced to study everything carefully when he was young in order to maximize his chances and athletic abilities." Johnny Pesky, combative and small, was also "kind, caring, almost innocent."

Stories and anecdotes, sometimes told by the players themselves, make the men individually come alive and show the depth and value of their friendship. The four characters remain engaging even when, in the case of Williams, they may be frustratingly disagreeable. There's a bittersweet reality when Halberstam brings the lives of Williams, Doerr, DiMaggio, and Pesky, all now in their eighties, up to the present--these icons are, of course, as human as the rest of us, subject to the same physical deterioration and illnesses. In Halberstam's sensitive rendering of their abiding relationship, however, we see them as men who have always recognized and preserved the most important of human values, and in that respect they continue to serve as heroes and exemplars to baseball fans throughout the country. Mary Whipple

5-0 out of 5 stars Friendship
Teammates is a story of true friendship. The book centers around three greats from the Boston Red Sox, Ted Williams, Dom Dimaggio, John Pesky, and Bobby Doerr. Their final meeting is used as a backdrop for several stories from their playing days.

The story starts in the final months of the life of Ted Williams. Dimaggio and Pesky are inspired to reunite with their friend before his inevitable death. Bobby Doerr is unable to make the trip because of the health of his wife.

The book is formatted in the same way things were probably discussed in the car that day. The stories build up as each one of the four joins the team with the final addition being Pesky. The book continues as it goes through the teams years as a American League powerhouse. Unfortunately, World War II and the Korean War would be the main factor in preventing these baseball icons for playing in more than one World Series. The Red Sox lost that one World Series to the Cardinals. The play that allegedly turned that series is discussed in detail. The misfortune for which Pesky was blamed is a travesty. Even his teammates try to take the blame from Pesky. Being the stand-up guy that he is, Pesky continues to unjustly accept the blame. The book ends with each playing leaving the team until Williams returns from the Korean War to find all of his friends are gone. This drains much of the fun of the game for Williams. As a consequence he also leaves baseball.

Halberstam really does not write a book as buy as he retells stories from a car ride. This book is certain to become a favorite of those who enjoy baseball or the friendships developed in team sports. It should also be required reading for Red Sox fans.

5-0 out of 5 stars Moving Tribute to Friendship
This is a moving book about friendship. As baseball legend Ted Williams' lay slowly dying at age 83 in the fall of 2001, his former teammates Johnny Pesky, Dom DiMaggio, and Bobby Doerr considered making the long drive to Florida for a final visit. The narrative focuses on that trip, and the enduring friendship between these four that continued for five decades after their playing days ended. Readers come to know these men, their backgrounds, flaws, strengths, families, health conditions, and post-baseball careers. Fans will enjoy their playing memoirs from the powerful Red Sox squads of the 1940's - teams that often fell just short at season's end. Adding spice to the narrative are Boston sportswriter Dick Flavin (who made the trip) and occasionally the author David Halberstam. This is another outstanding baseball book by Halberstam (SUMMER OF '49, OCTOBER 1964); let's hope he'll write more. THE TEAMMATES is a concise and moving tribute to friendship, baseball...and life.

4-0 out of 5 stars Life-long Lessons!
When we are young, most of us idolize certain sports heroes . . . usually because of their feats on the field rather than for their characters. Author David Halberstam had the great pleasure of getting to know some of his idols when he wrote the Summer of '49 about the Yankee-Red Sox pennant race in that year. He kept up with his new friends from the Red Sox including Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, Bobby Doerr and Johnny Pesky after the book came out. When he learned that in 2002 about the last trip that Dom, and Johnny had taken to see Ted, Mr. Halberstam knew that he had a story. This book relates that tale.

The book recounts the backgrounds of all four players, details their friendships from the days when they were in the minor leagues through the end of their lives and provides lots of perspective on the Red Sox during the 1940s and 1950s when these remarkable players were on the team. The end of the book also has the lifetime stats for each player.

One of the intriguing parts of the book is how hard Ted Williams was on himself and his friends. It is a remarkable tale of friendship to see how others would tolerate his abuse by rolling with the punches. Behind the friendships, you get many glimpses of great character . . . character that actually makes their athletic accomplishments seem paler by comparison.

I strongly urge all Red Sox fans and parents who want their children to develop better characters to read this book, and share the story with their friends and family. I know of no better book about athletes that looks at the qualities of true greatness.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book about baseball and friendship
Back in the 1940's and 1950's Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky and Bobby Doerr were stars for the Boston Red Sox. Over the next 50 years or so, they remained the closest of friends. This book gives us a good look at that friendship, on and off the field, and at these four men.

It's unusual for a group of friends to stay so close for so long, but reading about the friendship makes you wish you were part of the group.

The book is full of humorous stories about their playing days and the years that followed. It also shows how close this team came to being a dynasty, but ended up only playing in one World Series (which they lost).

Halberstam does a great job, as always, showing us what baseball was like in the good old days and how the friendship between these players grew and remained strong over the years. It's one of the best baseball books I've ever read. ... Read more

171. The American Dream: Stories from the Heart of Our Nation
by Dan Rather
list price: $25.00
our price: $16.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0066209641
Catlog: Book (2001-06-01)
Publisher: HarperLargePrint
Sales Rank: 605104
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A powerful and inspirational look at how our nation's earliest ideals resonate in today's world, The American Dream shows us in very personal terms that America is still a place where hard work, dedication, and vision can transform dreams into reality.  Bestselling author and award winning journalist who struggle for and achieve their desires and ambitions.  Here he has gathered the stories of ordinary men and women across the country who are accomplishing the extraordinary, and demonstrates how the American dream guides us as individuals and as a society, binding us together even amid the fragmenting and self-isolating tendencies of modern American life.

Stirring and provocative, The American Dream illustrates that the basic American desire for "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is alive and well. It also confirms what our founding fathers always believed: that we are a country of visionaries, in ways big and small.

... Read more

Reviews (12)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Dream is Real
This book attempts to discover what the "American Dream" really is to many Americans. It does so by providing brief accounts of the lives of some Americans, some famous you will recognize, some not at all famous. Dan Rather is obviously an excellent reader and in this book you will hear his "real" voice with a sometime slight and sometimes not so slight Texas drawl. You will hear it strongly when he pronounces the word "school". Even though at times the book drags a little I enjoyed it immensely and will probably listen to it again. Most of the stories are great to listen to and it reminds me of talking at "old guy" in the park. The history lesson is wonderful and the "dream" is real. I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in American History. If you are not an American and are not interested in American history this book will be less interesting. If fact, I think it is necessary to be an American to enjoy the book but at least one Canadian liked it (see below). Just my opinion.

I listened to the book from 6 CD's converted to MP3.

4-0 out of 5 stars Reality vs. Illusion
Clearly, an inspirational book - well written, cogently presented - all in true-to-form Dan Rather style. Whilst telling us about many "American Success" stories, Rather seems to suggest that the right idea at the right time, combined with hard work, stamina, and perhaps a little bit of luck will ultimately get you there - to riches (material and otherwise). Sadly, it's also part of the American Dream that the rate of failure is much higher than one expects, and occasionally, the reason for failure is also rooted in the "American Dream".

Nevertheless, it's good to know that the Dream continues - a refreshing reminder amongst often too much bad news.

A good read - but don't get too carried away.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of America's Great Journalists
This was a very inspirational book. It brings to life the work of dozens of heroes...people who love America. There is SO MUCH greatness in the country. It is time we concentrate on that instead of dwelling on the negative stories. Don't tell Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh, but Dan Rather will go down in history as one of the great broadcast journalists of all time. He walks the walk and talks the talk.

I never understood why some people hate Dan Rather so much. What a great book!!

Jeffrey McAndrew
broadcast journalist and author of "Our Brown-Eyed Boy"

4-0 out of 5 stars Great stories, too much Rather
A more appropriate subtitle for this book might be, Those who achieved despite America's wrongs. Readers like me who come to this book expecting patriotic success stories of Americans aided by their nation's greatness will be disappointed by Rather's cynical view that hangs over this book.

The book is chock full of success stories that were not broadcast during Rather's "American Dream" segments on the CBS Evening News program. The stories, due to Rather's fine writing skills, are inspiring, moving and heart-warming. The Americans portrayed are certainly deserving of the praise and attention this book brings them. Their stories alone make this book worth purchasing.

But, caveat emptor, Rather brands this book with his cynicism of what is wrong with America and how the U.S. Constitution should be viewed. He profiles the successes of the heroes in this book against the failings in American society that they had to overcome. Rather's favorite American sins? Greed, big business, the wealthy, and white men in the less-enlightened past. Word of mouth will not be good among Republican readers.

Rather, for the most part, shies away from famous household names in this collection. Even the people profiled in the "fame" chapter (with the exception perhaps of author Jacquelyn Mitchard) are not household names. While the subtitle of the book indicates these people come from the "heart" of the nation, most of those profiled here come from decidedly urban environments. But that should not detract from the fine stories presented here.

This is a good book that could have been great if Rather would have checked his ego at the keyboard.

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!
CBS News anchor Dan Rather gives us a truly fascinating look at 30 American Dreamers, their struggles and triumphs, and I can honestly say that the book doesn't lag in any single spot throughout, which is quite an accomplishment, when dealing with so many diffrent people's stories.

Also, Rather proves to be a very solid writer, sprinkling levity and personal anecdotes in just the right amount, in my humble opinion.

The first woman astronaut, a Food Network chef who remained illiterate until age 26, exceptional teachers, and author Jacquline Mitchard are but a handful of the folks Rather covers.

Well worth the read. ... Read more

172. Taking Heat LP : The President, the Press, and My Years in the White House
by Ari Fleischer
list price: $26.95
our price: $17.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060759437
Catlog: Book (2005-03-01)
Publisher: HarperLargePrint
Sales Rank: 821919
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Book Description

For two and a half years, Ari Fleischer served as the official liaison between the White House and members of the press, acting as the voice of President George W. Bush and his administration, and was one of the President's most trusted advisers.

In this riveting account, Fleischer goes behind the scenes as he recalls his experiences in the West Wing and his encounters with the White House press corps. He took the heat, fielded the questions, and brought the President's message into living rooms around the world.

In Taking Heat, Fleischer, for the first time, gives his perspective on:

  • The 2000 election, from the recounts to the transition to power
  • September 11, 2001, its aftermath, and the anthrax scare
  • The pressure-filled buildup to the war in Iraq
  • The White House press corps, who they are, and how they report the news
  • The factors that led to his decision to leave Washington.

Taking Heat is an introspective and analytical exploration of the early Bush administration.

... Read more

173. The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream (Thorndike African-American)
by Sampson, Dr. Davis, George, Dr. Jenkins, Rameck, Dr. Hunt, Lisa Frazier Page
list price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786248890
Catlog: Book (2002-12-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 1074434
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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As teenagers from a rough part of Newark, New Jersey, Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt, and George Jenkins had nothing special going for them except loving mothers (one of whom was a drug user) and above-average intelligence. Their first stroke of luck was testing into University High, one of Newark's three magnet high schools, and their second was finding each other. They were busy staying out of trouble (most of the time), and discovering the usual ways to skip class and do as little schoolwork as possible, when a recruitment presentation on Seton Hall University reignited George's childhood dream of becoming a dentist. The college was offering a tempting assistance package for minorities in its Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental Plus Program. George convinced his two friends to go to college with him. They would help each other through. None of them would be allowed to drop out and be reabsorbed by the Newark streets.

Although this inspiring and easy-to-read book would be enjoyed by any teenager or educator, it seems perfect for minority youth, especially young men of junior high and high school age, who may lack more immediate role models. If the ordinary boys who made this pact could survive college and medical school by sticking together, then so can others. --Regina Marler ... Read more

Reviews (38)

5-0 out of 5 stars Refreshing!
Tavis Smiley recommended The Pact on the Tom Joyner show some time, but I just never got around to reading it.

All three doctors were born in the early thirties when the chances of going to college were slim to none for the "poor" Black America.

Dr. George Jenkins, Dr. Sampson Davis, and Dr. Rameck Hunt were all classified as "poor" Black America, and all had obstacles thrown at their feet of, and ALL came from a BROKEN home.Dr. Sampson Davis came from a family where illiteracy played a big role!

Still, all three doctors chose to make a pact to do right vs. wrong. They counted their blessing daily and remember the very few positive role models in their life. For Dr. George Jenkins, his third grade teacher was his role model. She instilled the importance of having an education and degree. That stuck with him! Very powerful!

This book deserves well over five stars as it shows "ALL" kids have dreams, even when there's no around to imitate and follow!All dreams are reachable. Stick with what you believe in. If it's right, God will step in just as he did these fine young men, but if it's wrong, it's never going to work so don't waste your time.

This book is highly recommended to everyone!!!!!

Nothing BUT Page Turners Book Club

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing
I along with about 30 other college students had to read this book for our "Juvenile Justice" class.What really made it interesting was how the book didn't focus on just the three as one individual but it instead looked at all three people and also each chapter took into play each individual.

It's not every day or even every year that you hear about three young people making a "positive" pact for their future and then no matter what happens sticking to it or trying to reach for it all together.

What an amazing group of men they have turned out to be, an inspiration for their families, friends and ultimately their community.

Only thing that could have made this better was actually hearing them or even having a chance to talk to them in person and thank them for not giving up, for reaching for their goals and inspiring countless others to make a difference in their own lives and communties.

5-0 out of 5 stars A truly inspirational story
I have read this book twice already, and each time I read it I am amazed. This is truly a book that you read and know that if you dream it, you can achieve it. I feel that the real aspect of the book was the best part about it, these doctors did not hold anything back. They showed that even if you do have struggles, you can overcome them and become something great.

5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome!
I truly loved this book!This was the most real, down to earth, life-changing, inspirational book I've read since "Manchild In The Promised Land" by Claude Brown!! Should definitely be added to the 'MUST READ' book list of all junior high schools!

5-0 out of 5 stars the pact: a promise and fulfillment of a dream
This book is an excellent read for those who have a dream and were in a situation simliar to Rameck, Sam and George. A MUST read for anyone who likes reading or success stories. ... Read more

174. The Kennedy Curse: Why America's First Family Has Been Haunted by Tragedy for 150 Years (Thorndike Press Large Print Core Series)
by Edward Klein
list price: $29.95
our price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786259817
Catlog: Book (2003-12-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 965379
Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Death was merciful to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, for it spared her a parent's worst nightmare: the loss of a child. But if Jackie had lived to see her son, JFK Jr., perish in a plane crash on his way to his cousin's wedding, she would have been doubly horrified by the familiar pattern in the tragedy. Once again, on a day that should have been full of joy and celebration, America's first family was struck by the Kennedy Curse.

In this probing expose, renowned Kennedy biographer Edward Klein-a bestselling author and journalist personally acquainted with many members of the Kennedy family-unravels one of the great mysteries of our time and explains why the Kennedys have been subjected to such a mind-boggling chain of calamities.

Drawing upon scores of interviews with people who have never spoken out before, troves of private documents, archives in Ireland and America, and private conversations with Jackie, Klein explores the underlying pattern that governs the Kennedy Curse.

The reader is treated to penetrating portraits of the Irish immigrant Patrick Kennedy; Rose Kennedy's father, "Honey Fitz"; the dynasty's founding father Joe Kennedy and his ill-fated daughter Kathleen, President Kennedy, accused rapist William Kennedy Smith, and the star-crossed lovers, JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette. Each of the seven profiles demonstrates the basic premise of this book: The Kennedy Curse is the result of the destructive collision between the Kennedy's fantasy of omnipotence-an unremitting desire to get away with things that others cannot-and the cold, hard realities of life.
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Reviews (41)

3-0 out of 5 stars "Nobody in my family needs insurance"---Joe Kennedy Jr.
I picked up The Kennedy Curse by Edward Klein with much skepticism.The title, as well as the subject matter, suggested abook taken from the gossip pages of the newsstand rags. The early and rare Kennedy family photos on the cover and in the illustrated section of the book sparked my interested and I decided to give The Kennedy Curse a chance.There is plenty of gossip and sexually lurid details in this book, of course, but I was more struck by how well-written and researched it is.Klein covered JFK's 1960 political campaign and had interviewed many Kennedys through the decades and was a friend of Jacqueline Onassis for over a dozen years.Klein demonstrates more credibility than I expected and his writing style presents a book that is a joy to read and difficult to put down.

Klein clearly states the premise of his book: "The Kennedy Curse is the result of the destructive collision between the Kennedys' fantasy of omnipotence-their need to get away with things that others cannot-and the cold, hard realities of life" (p. 23). According to Klein, this "curse" stemming from some narcissistic, thrill-seeking gene originated several generations up the Kennedy family tree.He begins his book with a chapter on Patrick Kennedy (JFK's great grandfather)who arrived in America from the famine-stricken Ireland in 1849.On the other side of the family, Klein next covers John Francis Fitzgerald "Honey Fitz" (JFK's grandfather) who was an ambitious politician and mayor of Boston.The other chapters cover Joseph P. Kennedy, Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy, JFK, William Kennedy Smith, and JFK Jr.Klein focuses on the most controversial aspects of the lives he examines.Joseph P. Kennedy's harshness and Nazi leanings are described (one error I found was that Klein referred to Hermann Goering as Hitler's propaganda minister when, of course, it was actually Josef Goebbels, p. 111).Kathleen is painted in a little more positive light but is still shown as a conniving social climber out to get the Marquess of Hartington and, later, a married man.The sexual exploits of JFK and William Kennedy Smith are described in sordid detail (the 17-page chapter on JFK is almost completely on his sexual conquests while in office).Ted Kennedy appears as a dirty old man in the Smith chapter.The friction between JFK Jr. and Jackie O and, especially, the drugproblems and emotional outbursts of wife Carolyn Bassette are the focus of the final chapter as well as the introduction.In fact, Bassette is painted in the worst light of all.

As well-written and interesting as this book is, the weaknesses are clear.There is no chapter on Chappaquiddick (only a few mentions) and hardly anything on RFK and his assassination.These two events probably sparked the idea of a "curse" more than anything else save, perhaps, for JFK Jr.'s plane crash.I also do not think Klein drove the "curse" premise home.Klein tries to demonstrate that it is the narcissism in the Kennedy family that brings about their misfortunes.If JFK was not so lackadaisical in security, he would havebeen better protected in Dallas or may not have made the trip at all.If JFK Jr. was not so bent on risky behavior to prove his worth, he would not have flown in poor weather July 16, 1999 and so on.A "curse," to me, seems to suggest that the Kennedys have no control in their downfall and that their fate is predestined.But, a lot of the family tragedies stem from their choices.Klein would state that it is the "curse" that determines their poor, sometimes fatal, choices, but I do not buy that.Kennedy apologists will jump on the idea that William Kennedy Smith, Ted Kennedy, etc. cannot help their deviant behavior because it is a family "curse."Most high profile families have tragedies on a higher scale than most (i.e. the Gettys).The Kennedys command much more media attention than most powerful families, so their trials and tribulations are always front page news. When one is rich and powerful and can have anything one wants, the successes are great and so are the potential pitfalls.Klein, to me, does not prove there is a "curse," and he certainly does not demonstrate that it began with Patrick Kennedy (who died young of tuberculosis) and Honey Fitz who had troubled times as all people do but nothing to suggest an evil affliction had been set.Caroline Schlossberg seems to be doing well and I don't think it is because she is breaking a "curse," she just conducts herself with dignity and does not become reckless with power.Although style-wise the book is well-written and a breeze to read, content-wise I found it to be lacking and not backing up the premise Klein so vehemently states.

1-0 out of 5 stars Ghost Written
This book was not written by its so called author. It was written by a hack journalist with questionable moral values and little journalist experience in order for Klein to cash in on the over played Kennedy brand.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not complete
I read this book after reading the Micheal Bergin book and while I thought it was interesting I also thought it was incomplete.

If Klein was giving examples of the "Kennedy Curse" then why did he leave out the eldest Kennedy son, Joe Jr., or Bobby Kennedy and his sons: David, Micheal, and Joe.It seems that if he really wanted to drive his point home then he would have written about this men as well.With the exception of Bobby's son Joe, they all died while they were young.Bobby died while trying to complete "the family mission" and two of his sons died while doing stupid things.

I also thought it was odd that while he would write about William Kennedy Smith and the rape trial, he did not devote a chapter to Ted Kennedy and Chappaquidick.

All in all, like I said before, it was a good book, just a little incomplete.

2-0 out of 5 stars Curse, my (expletive deleted)
Yet another book for the Kennedy cult, this one examining the so-called "curse" of the toothy family. Klein's book is not without interest for all those who are obsessed with America's unoffical royal family, but his premise is wrong. With the possible exception of the assassinations of JFK and RFK, the many tragedies that have befallen the Kennedy clan can be blamed on recklessness (skiing while videotaping your misadventures, piloting a plane when you aren't really experienced enough to be trusted all alone behind the controls, etc), and, though I hate to judge, poor parenting. The powerful men in the family were too busy acquiring power to instill sound values into their kids, and we have witnessed the wreckage.

Money, power, and fame can be a deadly combination for those who don't know that life is about something more tangible than that. If there is a curse, one might look to the family's patriarch, Joseph Kennedy, who built his fortune on bootlegging. The Bible says something about the sins of the father being inherited by his sons. Perhaps the devil is simply collecting on a debt that old Joe didn't repay.

3-0 out of 5 stars Karma, fate & fascination
There are too many Kennedy books out there, but I did enjoy this one.For the most part, the author did his job.Klein researched the history in detail and makes you want to read more.This is a easy, quick book to read, but it still does not answer many questions.Why are these people do obsessed with their own egos and why do we care?It is all karma and fate...but is it a genetic curse predetermined at birth? ... Read more

175. Agent 146: The True Story of a Nazi Spy in America (Thorndike Press Large Print American History Series)
by Erich Gimpel
list price: $29.95
our price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 078625369X
Catlog: Book (2003-06-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 1190314
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The spellbinding autobiography of one of the only Nazi spies to reach American soil.

September 1944. Germany is burning at both ends and the Reich is crumbling. Word has drifted back to Berlin that the Americans are testing a secret weapon of unbelievable destruction. A weapon that will win the war. The Fuhrer himself calls upon Agent 146 in a last ditch effort to sabotage America's atomic program.

Two months later, a German U-boat surfaces off the coast of Maine. Agent 146 and an American turncoat named William Collepaugh sneak ashore. Down the coast they go, ending up in New York. Once there, a fascinating game of cat and mouse begins as the FBI attempts to close in on the elusive Nazi spy.

Never before published in the U. S., Agent 146 is an intriguing tale of espionage under the Reich. Within these pages are fascinating accounts of the Nazis' plans to sabotage the Allies--from sending in commandos to capture Gibraltar to blowing up the Panama Canal. Agent 146 is a must read memoir for any World War II history buff.
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Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars A powerful story
Agent 146 was a quick read and detailed the time before the author's career as a spy, during the time, and after. The story held my interest from beginning to end. It was interesting to learn how a man became a master spy and all the emotions and issues that come along with the job. The author was a spy and a soldier, but he was also a person with strong emotions. This was a big part of the book as he struggled with love and loyalty. A truly amazing account on a battlefield fought with wit, subterfuge, and proper manners.

3-0 out of 5 stars interesting information balances flawed presentation
I liked _Agent 146_ more than I disliked it. With any espionage book, of course, one always has the question as to what percentage of the truth is being told. I felt that Herr Gimpel was as fair as possible to those he encountered, both German and American, and remembered many interesting anecdotes that had the ring of truth--both from an American and a German standpoint.

Unfortunately, this book--first published in 1957, according to my copy--was evidently written by a British ghostwriter. There is no other explanation for the fact that each and every single solitary American in the book speaks entirely with British terminology. Until the part where Gimpel is captured by the FBI, it isn't a factor, but thereafter all the terminology, slang and diction of every American depicted is purely that of the United Kingdom. It is very disruptive to the reader to see Americans acting American yet speaking British. It would be just as disruptive had Gimpel fallen instead into English hands and then later had an American ghost make a great colonial hash of all the British participants' speech.

Recommended even so, but the publisher should be severely censured for having so lazily allowed this to pass. We all know that it is very hard, years after the fact, to precisely quote people one only met briefly. Sometimes, as in this case, we are forcibly reminded just how imprecisely the person in question remembers the conversations--for that's the obvious explanation. Gimpel must have furnished sketchy notes, and the ghost turned them into a book, using the form of speech he knew: British English.

If you can get past the surreality of a bunch of Americans having suddenly and inexplicably adopted Anglophilia, it's a pretty good spy book.

5-0 out of 5 stars From a 15 year old
I loved this book! It is a thrilling and captivating story told by a Nazi spy. It gives you a fascinating look at WW2 from the other side. This new perspective enhanced my understand of the war in many ways. Agent 146 is a book that is entrancing and informative. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in WW2.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Riveting Story
"Page-turners" in literature are a rarity, but Erich Gimpel's book will keep your interest from beginning to end. From his secret submarine trip to Maine in 1944 to his near-hanging, there is never a slack moment. Erich was one of the few German spies who actually operated in America during the war, and in the 1950s a film was made of his adventures entitled "Spy for Germany": it is still being shown on TV. ... Read more

176. In Contempt (G K Hall Large Print Book Series (Cloth))
by Christopher A. Darden, Jess Walter
list price: $26.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0783818580
Catlog: Book (1996-11-01)
Publisher: G K Hall & Co
Sales Rank: 968451
Average Customer Review: 4.03 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

For more than a year, Christopher Darden argued tirelessly, giving voice to the victims in the 0.J. Simpson murder trial. In this gripping account of one man's extraordinary career, Darden offers an unflinching look at a justice system imperiled by racism and celebrity privilege. Now, out of the sensational frenzy of "the trial of the century" comes a haunting memoir of duty, justice, and thepowerful undertow of American racism.Christopher Darden's In Contempt is an unflinching look at a justice system kidnapped by a racist cop, shameless defense lawyers, a starstruck judge, and a dysfunctional jury. It shows what the television cameras could not:Behind-the-scenes meetings where Darden tried to determine whether Detective Mark Fuhrman was a racist cop The deteriorating relationships between the defense and prosecution teams, with taunting, baiting, and a pushing match between Darden and SimpsonA starstruck judge who let the case get out of control while he collected hourglasses from fans and invited celebrities into his chambers The candid factors behind Darden's controversial decision for Simpson to try on the infamous gloveThe dysfunctional jury who was forced to make a landmark legal decisionThe intimate relationship between Darden and Marcia ClarkA stunning masterpiece told with brutal honesty and courage, In Contempt is the rare story of one man who refused to choose between his heritage and his humanity. ... Read more

Reviews (31)


3-0 out of 5 stars A better title "It was their fault, not mine"
I'm a California trial attorney (not criminal). Mr. Darden's book has value in demonstrating just exactly how a trial should NOT be approached. Mr. Darden has clearly misplaced his objective. While many disagree with the verdict, Mr. Darden knew (or should have known) at the outset, that we have an adversary system. His book attacks that theory and demonstates his unwillingness to accept it's presence and prepare for it. Instead he "whines" and "complains" about everyone and everything involved. Mr. Darden is an African-American attorney who is proud of his heritage, as he should be. But it is not an excuse for the reality of trial law. It is a factor to be dealt with just as any other. Mr. Darden continually attacks the "Dream Team" for their tactics, Judge Ito for his rulings and the jury for their reactions. Mr. Darden fails horribly in addressing his presence in the court and his opportunity to oppose all that he complains about. The book recounts his early years in Richmond, CA. and his relationship with his brother Michael. Many references are made to Micheal (who died of AIDS days before the verdict was announced) and his relationship with him. The decision to place Mr. Darden in the high pressure situation of the Simpson trial in light of his brother's condition is very questionable. He seemed extremely preoccupied with his brother. Mr. Darden seemed emotionally out of his league and should never have been assigned the task. If Mr. Darden made a mistake ( a rarity in his opinion) it was given very short shrift. If error occurred at another's hand, whether prosecution or defense, pages would be devoted to it. The "race card" was coming and any good lawyer would have seen it, prepared for it and, using appropriate legal decorum, fought it. Mr. Darden "whined" about it! He refused to be present in the courtroom when Mark Furhman "took the 5th". That was nothing short of childish. His responsibility was to be in that courtroom...not "whimpering in the corner" because he didn't "get his way"!! Professor Gerald Uelmen described this book accurately recently on "Larry King Live" when he desribed Mr. Darden's book as "pre-pubescent pouting". Mr. Darden states in his book that he doubts if he will ever practice law again. A wise decision!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Darden Has Nothing to Be Ashamed About...
I was a junior in college when the O.J. Simpson verdict was announced in October 1995, and I bought Chris Darden's book as soon as it was published. I was (and still am) inspired by Darden's story of how he grew up, why he decided to become a lawyer, and all of his personal and professional trials, tribulations, and triumphs - not to mention the guts that it took to agree to be on the prosecution team of "the trial of the century."

Reading about all of the ostracism that Darden suffered by blacks in L.A. (not to mention being all but skewered in the court of national black public opinion) enraged me. The fact that he was labeled a "sellout," "Uncle Tom," and a "race traitor" of the worst kind for prosecuting (as was his job) a wealthy black celebrity athelete - whom most people, including blacks, knew was guilty as hell! - made me realize as a young black man that sometimes we as blacks indeed are our own worst enemy. As Darden poignantly points out, supporting a black man who, based on the evidence, murdered his white wife and her friend is not "getting back at the [white] man." To add insult to injury, after the verdict and subsequent black celebrations, some black lawyers group decided to "honor" Darden at a dinner - with Johnnie Cochran as the guest speaker, no less - with what I'll term a BLACK GUILT-ASSUAGING AWARD. This was basically their way of saying to Darden, after taking him to the public opinion woodshed for over a year, that "You're still 'down' with us. You're welcome back into the community." In accepting his award, Darden, to his credit, let them know: "You don't have to welcome me back into the community, because I never left."

Christopher Darden has nothing to be ashamed about. He honored the legal profession by doing his civic duty to the best of his ability as an officer of the court AND the law. We could all learn a lot from his example.

1-0 out of 5 stars Just another racist
I see where there have been books! written analyzing and questioning Christopher Dardens loyalty to his "people". Well
never fear, if you read his book you will learn that Christopher A. Darden is a racist. He should of never served on this trial.
Both him, Marcia Clark and judge Ito should have never been assigned to this trial. The whole thang was pay back for Rodney King anyway. Hey, it never ends.

Be sure and get the book thru your library tho. You don't want to support a racist.

4-0 out of 5 stars Just the Facts
There are a number of reviews here that talk about this books outline and no shortage of comments on the main subjects guilt or innocence. I, therefore, will just tell you my impressions of the book. All I wanted was details on the trial; I really did not care about his upbringing, college days, or pre trial work experience. As far as the trail info went, it was worth wading through the aforementioned items. The book just had a ton of good old fashion, gossip style details and facts that kept me interested until the end. The writing style was good and fast paced. The author also did a very good job of explaining his feelings throughout the book. To lose on such an important manner and in such a public way can be sole destroying and the author does a very credible job of describing it. Overall the book is interesting and well worth the time to read it. ... Read more

177. My Anecdotal Life: A Memoir (Thorndike Press Large Print Biography Series)
by Carl Reiner
list price: $29.45
our price: $29.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786255900
Catlog: Book (2003-08-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 453286
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

More than once, Carl Reiner has had friends say, “Hey, Reiner, you ought to write those things down.” And at eighty, he finally has.

In this funny and engaging memoir, one of the best raconteurs on the planet recalls his life in show business in short comic takes. Reiner tells of how, after answering an ad for free acting classes on his brother Charlie’s advice, he forsakes a budding career as a machinist for an acting career. In “Sidney Bechet and His Jazz Band Meet Franz Kafka,” he captivates the legendary jazz man and his band with an unusual reading of The Metamorphosis, during a thunderstorm at a Catskills resort in 1942.

Reiner also recalls the highlights of the succeeding decades: his first sweaty audition, impersonating a dog impersonating movie stars; his forays into the theater; his work on Your Show of Shows and The Dick Van Dyke Show during TV’s golden days; and his long friendship and collaboration with Mel Brooks which gave birth to the Two Thousand Year Old Man.

In “A Recipe to Remember,” he recites a recipe for cream cheese cookies to a star-studded audience that includes Paul Newman, Leonard Bernstein, and Barbra Streisand. In “The Gourmet Eating Club,” he gives an insider’s take on the now-legendary group that included Mario Puzo, Joseph Heller, Zero Mostel, and other luminaries.

Mary Tyler Moore, Sid Caesar, Mickey Rooney, Johnny Carson, Cary Grant, Dinah Shore, Ann Bancroft, Jean Renoir – the list goes on and on – also appear in what Reiner calls the “literary variety show” that captures the highs and lows of his extraordinary life. Through it all, Reiner displays the wit and warmth that have made him one of the most beloved figures in the entertainment business. This charming memoir will delight anyone who wants a behind-the-scenes look at five decades of Hollywood and television history.
... Read more

Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars I love Carl Reiner
I had an advanced copy and went through it in two days. This book is very much worth it. My wife and I have been huge fans for years.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mel Brooks was right
OK, so I didn't buy this book, I read it standing up at a bookstore (Barnes & Noble on State Street in Chicago), and one, just one, of the anecdotes was so funny that I was laughing so hard that my sides were actually hurting and I thought they were going to throw me out of the store. I'm not going to spoil it for anyone, but let's just call it the "Richard III" anecdote. And if you don't think it's the funniest thing you're ever read,-- well, then you have no sense of humor.

2-0 out of 5 stars As disappointing as it is brief
Seeing that most of the reviews here are disappointing ones, I'm forced to agree.I expected more references to the heyday of classic television.While Carl must have a thousand stories about that era, he has evidently saved them for a different book.As for THESE anecdotes, I don't think I cracked a smile once.But I sure cracked a yawn.

1-0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly poor
I bought this book after seeing an ad in the New Yorker in which Mel Brooks opined wittily that Mr. Reiner's memoir was "suprisingly good." Indeed, it looked good. The cover design is cleverly done, and amusing to behold. But the text! It is formless - which is fine - but it is also almost completely unfunny, whilst the author apparently thinks he is being funny nearly all the time. Much worse, however, it is a sad piece of career self-justification, listing all the shows and films and bits of work the author is proud of, chiding those who didn't give him the credit he felt he was due for projects that were less than wholly successful and never failing to give a syrupy compliment to another member of the hack showbusiness community. I think I chuckled once, but the groans of disappointment were constant. It is extraordinary that the editors at St. Martin's Press didn't take a firmer hand with Mr. Reiner's self-aggrandizing potboiler. The man may be 81, but even so such stuff is not up to the mark.

2-0 out of 5 stars I love Carl Reiner, but . . .
Saw a lot of Reiner on TV growing up in the 60s, and he was always entertaining and funny.Not so this book.At best, its a behind-the-scenes look at a creative genius' more mundane moments.At worst, its a mish-mash of random thoughts and name-dropping.If you imagine Reiner telling the stories out loud, you might get a kick out of some of them, but on the printed page, its boring and doesn't tell you anything you haven't heard about show business from a hundrred other sources.Carl is only 81 - better luck next time! ... Read more

178. Winston Churchill (Thorndike Press Large Print Biography Series)
by John Keegan
list price: $29.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786239980
Catlog: Book (2002-12-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 674378
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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He was something of a bully, something of a blowhard, without friends and always in search of a sympathetic audience for his monologues. Yet, writes John Keegan in this slender but thorough portrait, Winston Churchill was unquestionably the right man for the time.

Few biographers are better equipped than Keegan, the eminent military historian, to write of Churchill as a wartime leader. Indeed, Keegan suggests, Churchill was never more at ease than when confronting some fierce enemy, whether across the English Channel or a range of Afghan hills; it was from the saddle that he developed his "vision of how an enlightened empire might transform the future of mankind." The rise of other, less enlightened empires helped put an end to his own, but Churchill steadfastly insisted on a strong role for Great Britain in the postwar world--in which he succeeded, even if voters turned him out of office almost as soon as the war ended.

Keegan's respectful portrait assesses Churchill's many accomplishments (and a few noteworthy failures) as he sought, in Churchill's ringing words, to "resist oppression, to protect the weak, to vindicate the profound but unwritten Law of Nations." Admirers of Churchill and students of his time will find much of value in these pages. --Gregory McNamee ... Read more

Reviews (19)

4-0 out of 5 stars Short but sweet - as only Keegan could write it
John Keegan has a flair for bringing order from apparent chaos, for finding unifying themes through events separated vastly in time.Thus, he is a good choice to write this short biography of Churchill.One might legitimately ask, "How can you condense the life of Churchill into such a slim (200 pages) volume?"The answer is here for everyone to see.

Keegan gives a good flavour for the man, touching on his important speeches, his bullying of subordinates, his painting, his variable health.He leaves out what is not important in understanding the man: his membership in the bricklayers' guild is not mentioned, for example.Clearly, Keegan the military historian is mostly interested in Churchill's wartime leadership - in both World Wars.He also makes sure to point out some of Churchill's other policy issues - his support of the working man (Churchill is often, wrongly, believed to be anti-working class) is the most interesting because it's often lost in the detail of larger tomes.

It's ironic that Churchill himself was incapable of writing a history like this - his "biography" of Marlborough was several volumes long.Can the life of a man like Churchill be condensed into 200 pages?Probably not, but Keegan's attempt is very readable and enjoyable, and is recommended even to those that have read heftier biographies.The exercise of working within space constraints forces the writer to get to the core of the subject, and this is what Keegan does in this biography.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Great Keegan book
This book is extremely timely during our current War on Terrorism.In order to understand the decisions our nation has made after 9/11, you must read the Churchill story.In order to understand why Bush has taken the tack he has, you need to understand the British experience in the years before and during Nazi aggression.The most telling part of this book is the discussion around how some in Britain were contemplating negotiating terms with Germany after seeing the French fall so quickly.Of course, Churchill would have none of it, and being a student of history, he believed immensely in his own people, and he fired up his nation.
Keegan's book is about Churchill as a glory-seeker as a young man, and about Churchill as a master orator.Keegan uses many quotes from Churchill speeches to illustrate the book.
Of course the neatest thing about Churchill is that his mother was American!He also switched political parties twice!In order to understand political leadership in the face of overwhelming adversity, you need to read this fine book.I recommend the audio version, which uses an actor to imitate Churchill for the speech quotes.It sounds cheesy and it is at first, but it adds a further layer of texture that I appreciated.

2-0 out of 5 stars Recommended, but with reservations
As usual, the author gives an informative and intelligent perspective of his subject.I've liked his many other books, and I have enjoyed other biographies of Churchill.Alas, I cannot agree with the author's final enthusiasm for Churchill, or for Churchill's being declared the most important figure of the last century.

As is stated in the book, Churchill had many significant accomplishments, but I am troubled by the author's lack of discussion of his subject's faults.Churchill gave every indication of being a racist.He was also a strict colonialist whose position lacked foresight of many future and bloody conflicts.These issues, that is the facts supporting these conclusions, are all noted by Keegan, but with no elaboration.

Also, why are so many willing to credit Churchill with great courage for his flying in and out of battles?I imagine that many soldiers would be similarly "courageous" if given the option (with mommy's help) to leave the field of battle as they chose.This is what Churchill did in every engagement in which he participated.For me, the courageous are those who remained regardless of the "excitement" level.

Churchill was blinded by his racism, elitism, and flighty ideas of warfare.These were not simple idiosyncrasies with no significant repercussions.His lack of respect for fighting abilities of the Asian race and his insistence on colonialism arguably led to the type of policies for which thousands of British soldiers died.Furthermore, his impulsive (and let's face it, ignorant) ideas of warfare directly led to his pushing and approving disastrous campaigns in both world wars.Again, Keegan failed to follow up on any of these issues and if anything he treated them as peculiar traits of the great statesman such as his cigar smoking, and moodiness.

Churchill wrote volumes on WWII, all of which conveniently overlooks any of his possible errors, but it received enough acclaim (by many for whom I suspected did not actually read the several volumes), and this shaped how many historians and biographers were to later judge the war and Churchill.

I only argue that it is time to honor the man for his accomplishments, but it is not heretical to want a full discussion of him.The British electorate seemed well aware of the dichotomy of the man when they demanded his rise to prime minister, but removed from office him and his party when the times changed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Biography by an Exceptional Scholar
John Keegan is one of the most distinguished military historians of our day.He was an excellent choice to pen this biography of Winston Churchill.Like the other Penguin Lives books, this volume presents an excellent, brief introduction to the life of Britain's WWII Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Keegan begins by telling of his own "immunity" to the Churchillian legend and how that was transmuted into an admiration upon listening to an album of Churchill's war speeches.

Keegan describes Churchill's exploits as a young soldier, his writing life, his days as a Member of Parliament, and his years as Prime Minister.Brief, to the point, this is a very nice introduction to Churchill.

This is a great book for a layman.To those who have already read lengthier biographies of Churchill, this may be a nice review.Popular, not academic.

5-0 out of 5 stars great biography of a great man
Simply a great biography of a very great man.

It is a compact book of under 200 pages; squeezing Sir Winston Churchill's long and eventful life into this short book must have been hard but Keegan succeeded brilliantly. ... Read more

179. Don't Block the Blessings: Revelations of a Lifetime (G K Hall Large Print Book Series (Cloth))
by Patti Labelle, Laura Randolph Lancaster, Laura B. Randolph
list price: $26.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0783880693
Catlog: Book (1997-03-01)
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Sales Rank: 841028
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

BiographyLarge Print Edition* A New York Times BestsellerPatti LaBelle has enjoyed phenomenal success for over three decades and won admiration not only for her music but for her tireless charity work and devotion to her fans. Here we get to know Patti LaBelle, a woman who recounts the ups and downs of her life, including the personal tragedies that haunted her even as she reached every professional goal that she set for herself. In the down-to-earth style shes famous for, Patti tells the real story her fans have been waiting foryears of crippling fear that she cloaked with non-stop performances. A terrible sense of guilt she tried to assuage through tireless charity work. And finally, a hard-won peacea deep understanding of whats important in life and how its available for all of us if we dont block the blessings. ... Read more

Reviews (37)

5-0 out of 5 stars Joy to read this book
Congratulations, A reflective autobiography with some depth and truth.Before reading Patti's, I read Aretha's, which I ultimately felt like tossing in the middle of the street!Great job! I thought the book was very inviting to the personal side of Patti.I have always admired how forthcoming she has been with the public in relation to her late sisters. This book can truly encourage one to live life, as well as love and appreciate life.
However, there are a few things I would like to clear up, which I found inaccurate or inappropriate.The Jackie Wilson episode I found rather distasteful, particularly since he is not around to defend himself(it was o.k. to slander Al Green). Also, as I had to do with Gladys in her book, I need to clarify a few inaccurate points you raised in your book. In reading your relationship with Atlantic Records in the 1960's, one is left with the impression your group wasn't given a fair shot due to the success of Aretha. Well, that's not totally true, since you were with the label two years before she signed on.It just wasn't your time yet! Now is your time.You sound greater and look more beautiful than ever.You have a wonderful spirit in which people adore you far and near.You are truly a blessing. Wonderful job.

5-0 out of 5 stars What a blessing to read!
Patty LaBelle is amazing.She has an incredible voice, a career full of ups and downs, and can bring down the house in concert.This book is just another triumph for a lady who deserves all the accolades she receives.With absolute honesty, she reveals so much about her life--from sexual abuse to the fear of dying of cancer like her sisters and good friend--you feel that Ms. LaBelle has given you all that she can.Throughout her life, she has faced a good deal of challenges but has emerged with a positive attitude about life and can still entertain with the best of them.I have seen her in concert 3 times and she blew me away each time.This book does the same.After reading the dismal biography of Aretha Franklin (From the Roots), I realized what a gem this is.If you wanna read a really good book about an incredible entertainer, give this one a go.Its worth every penny!

5-0 out of 5 stars Patti**Soul Sister #1
PATTI takes you on a journey-from the Bluebelles, to LaBelle and through her solo career. She talks about her battles with her self-esteem, record companies, men and THE TRAGIC deaths of sisters. Did you know that NONA had a nervous break down during one the LaBelle concerts-and was taken to the hospital in restraints? WOW! This lead to the break-up of LaBelle! Pick this one up and you'll find out much more.

4-0 out of 5 stars Bravo!
Good job, Patti!Very well written book with a good message.Need more like it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Inspirationally Patti
This book is a tell all exploration through the life of Patti.We all know where she can go with her voice.Now we learn where she has gone has a person.She gives us her insight into the music world as well as her own inside information on the industry.From her feelings about her childhood all the way to her feelings regarding other "supposed" divas.Patti just tells it like it is.But what would you expect from the Queen Bee, Grand Dame, Ms. Thang, Powerhouse, Sista Girl, Wonder voice, Soul Sister herself.If you don't have this book, you need to get out there and get.Don't forget about her cookbook too. ... Read more

180. A Severe Mercy
by Sheldon Vanauken
list price: $20.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802725783
Catlog: Book (1987-05-01)
Publisher: Phoenix Press
Sales Rank: 266682
Average Customer Review: 4.72 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Beloved, profoundly moving account of the author's marriage, the couple's search for faith and friendship with C. S. Lewis, and a spiritual strength that sustained Vanauken after his wife's untimely death. ... Read more

Reviews (47)

5-0 out of 5 stars love is stronger than death...
After several readings of this book over the past few years, I can conclude without any hesitation that it is the most moving and unforgettable memoir I've ever read. It is relevant to note that all 29 of the other ... reviewers (at the time of my own writing) rate it a solid 5 stars... it really deserves a sixth. Not only for it's amazing true content, but for the beautiful way in which the author lays it all out. This book will literally captivate your imagination, sweep you away, and tug you towards a deeper understanding of the depths of "inloveness" (a Vanauken term) possible in God-ordained marriage.

Sheldon and Jean Vanauken were living the dream of togetherness that most people only.... well, DREAM about... until they came face to face with the fact that perhaps "perpetual springtime is not allowed." Those words were from their personal friend, the Oxford don C.S. Lewis and addressed to Sheldon as he tried to make sense of his overwhelming grief.

This is the story of a profound love between two people... a love that has its genesis, consummation, and terminus in heavenly places. If your eyes are dry all the way through this book... well, never mind... they won't be.

5-0 out of 5 stars A masterful story of love, beauty and spiritual insight
A Severe Mercy is a masterfully crafted autobiography and the story of an intensely deep love relationship, a profound introspective on their path to finding God, and the utimate bereavement the author experiences as his thirty-something wife dies of a terminal illness.

Along the way, their paths cross with C.S. Lewis; personal correspondence with him peppers the book, as does a collection of superb poems written by Vanauken. It explores complex theological, philosophical and aesthetic issues with deep insight and profoundly sharp perspective. I can't recommend it highly enough, it's truly one if the best books I've ever read - a work of art which crosses many dimensions.

Practically speaking, A Severe Mercy explores a number of crucial life issues with breathtaking clarity. First, the second chapter, "The Shining Barrier" distills more insight into the true workings of a wonderful marriage relationship than a dozen garden-variety relationship books from the self-help section of a bookstore. Anyone who wants to understand why their romance has cooled off after five or ten or twenty years of marriage (including myself) could use this chapter alone as a manual for re-kindling the fire.

Secondly, it explores the nature of a difficult spiritual journey in a most articulate way - the emotional, philosophical, theological and personal implications of the claims of Jesus Christ. This book is not in any way a Bible-thumping promo for Christianity; rather it examines the claims of Christ and their implications from logical, historical, aesthetic and personal viewpoints -- in a way that no thinking person can easily dismiss.

I gave this book to friends of mine, a highly educated married professional couple, before they went on a camping trip. They were struggling mightily to reconcile Christianity with their modern worldview and the book was instrumental in helping them accomplish a breakthrough.

Third, it delves into the difficult interior world of a person who is bereft of the love of his life and who must feel the sorrow and loss and yet go on.

A Severe Mercy plumbs the depths of all of these issues via beautiful prose, expertly crafted perspective, and provocative poetry. Highly recommended.

1-0 out of 5 stars all kinds of creepy
"A Severe Mercy" is a monotonous tale of a sick relationship which was, sadly, never fully healed even after the author's conversion and his wife's death.

The author is an overly self-conscious, controlling, self-absorbed snob (who can stomach Americans affecting British spelling?) whose characterization of his "beloved" remains disturbingly two-dimensional. If only she'd left her own story (well, one Van didn't burn), there might have been something interesting to it.

People who love this book, in my experience, tend to love it for all the wrong reasons. They are, for example, swept away by the ideal of pagan love and miss the explicit point (which even the author, in theory at least, gets) that such love must either convert and grow or fester. Others are emotionally immature, somewhat naive and inexperienced in love, and miss all the glaring problems in the author's relationship and attitudes toward it (both at its beginning and later, as he looks back). Many of my friends who liked this book as teenagers found it repulsive when they read it as adults. (And the theologically inclined found a few theological errors to boot.)

The book does have some redeeming features, like a handful of letters from C.S. Lewis to the author, but overall, it isn't worthwhile. There are too many good Christian books to be wasting time on this one.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sentimental, yet Truthful
A story about love, the shining barrier, between a pre-WWII American couple that leads to a life of deep living and true struggle with what life and relationship bring to each other. CS Lewis, God, and intellectualism all mix in a very well thought out and true to life way that make this a most timely and peculiarly important book. Three big events: the love of a couple, their conversion to Christ, and death all mix with how God must be faced in our lives. Touching, sentimental, yet truthful to the greater truths of what it really means to be a follower of Christ.

1-0 out of 5 stars spiritual exhibitionism
I wrote a review of this book a year ago, but it has been deleted. My opinion is unchanged. It is shallow, sentimental, and exhibitionist--a pathetic example of what passes for profundity in our time. It also attributes remarks to C S Lewis that no one who has read his books (or knew him)would regard as accurate. I earnestly hope it will soon go out of print and vanish into the obscurity it so richly deserves. ... Read more

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