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181. Born Amish
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182. To the Best of My Ability: The
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183. Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict
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184. Hunting the Jackal : A Special
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185. Esther Great Lives Series: Volume
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186. The Autobiography of Benjamin
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187. The First American: The Life and
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188. Joseph Great Lives Series: Volume
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189. Benjamin Franklin
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190. Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of
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191. Mao : A Life
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192. But Not for the Fuehrer
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193. To Fly Again
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194. Baruch: My Own Story
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195. Man of the Century: The Life and
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196. A Lady, First: My Life in the
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197. Jackson & Lee: Legends In
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198. JOURNEY INTO DARKNESS : Follow
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199. Lenin: A Biography
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200. Alice: Princess Andrew of Greece

181. Born Amish
by Ruth Irene Garrett, Deborah Morse-Kahn
list price: $21.95
our price: $17.56
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1563119633
Catlog: Book (2004-03)
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company (KY)
Sales Rank: 44681
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"But what was your life like before?" This is the question that RUTH IRENE GARRETT, nee Miller, has been asked again and again by the thousands of inspired and fascinated guests who have attended her lectures and programs on her life growing up Amish to young womanhood, when she fell in love with an "Englisher" and left the Amish community to begin her new life out in the world.

Now, working with co-author and friend DEBORAH MORSE-KAHN, we learn in Born Amish about Ruth Irene Garrett's early life as a child growing up in the Amish farming community of Kalona, Iowa: school, games, and chores; work, crafts, and foods; clothing, farming and tumbling about with many brothers and sisters. We learn about the expectations for girls and boys in Amish families, of social roles and understandings about courtship and marriage, about adult baptism and a life of faith in the Amish Church.

Born Amish is richly illustrated with wonderful color photographs of young people and families in Amish life throughout the American Midwest. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
The book "Born Amish"is truly a beautiful book about women's roles in an Amish family in an Amish community.I read this lovely book in one setting.I hope there are more books on the way as detailed and honest as this one.I wish women everywhere could read this outstanding book.I enjoyed Ruth's first book "Crossing Over",but this is the one that details the facts of being "Born Amish"and growing up Amish.May God bless you Ruth Garrett. ... Read more


182. To the Best of My Ability: The American Presidents (revised)
by James M. McPherson, Society of American Historians
list price: $20.00
our price: $13.60
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Asin: 0789481561
Catlog: Book (2001-09-01)
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Publishing
Sales Rank: 169405
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Every generation of historians reviews and revises the work of its predecessors. With this book, the best historical writers of today's generation undertake such a task. Displaying wit and narrative flair, their elegant essays offer a fresh perspective on the most fascinating group of Americans: the American presidents. Who better to write a new assessment of the presidents than the most respected (and best-selling) historians of our time? In To the Best of My Ability: The American Presidents, members of the prestigious Society of American Historians deliver engaging, thoughtful analyses of the forty-one men who have led this country- some, of course, more successfully than others. In this copiously illustrated volume, edited by Pulitzer Prize-winner James M. McPherson, you will learn from Gordon S. Wood how George Washington, an extraordinary man, made it possible for ordinary men to govern; from Allen Weinstein how Theodore Roosevelt tested and extended the limits of the presidency; from Tom Wicker how Richard Nixon's hatreds and insecurities gripped him ever more tightly as he achieved his long-sought goal of power; and from Evan Thomas how much Bill Clinton cares about his place in the new presidential pecking order. ... Read more

Reviews (18)

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
Most of us, even history buffs, know little about many of the Presidents who have served our country. This book will help you remedy that. Each President's administration is discussed in a short three or four page essay by a distinguished historian. What really makes this book extra nice is that, like all books from the Doring Kindersley publishing house, it is profusely illustrated with paintings and photographs. It also has little sidebars that give bits of intrigueing information about each president that is not generally known. For instance: Warren G. Harding was so vain about his appearance and had so many clothes that new closets had to be built in the White House to hold them all. Or: Calvin Coolidge had an electrically operated horse (similar to the bull-riding machines you used to see in cowboy bars) that he used to ride while in the White House.

As others have noted, the second half of the book tells about each campaign and has the text for each inaugural address.

A very good book. I recommend it highly.

5-0 out of 5 stars A magnificent book about the American Presidents!
"To the Best of My Ability" is a wonderful new book about the American presidents. Published by the Society of American Historians, it has as its General Editor the distinguished Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James M. McPherson.

"To the Best of My Ability" has similarities with other Presidential reference works I've read, but it also has some particularly notable new features which I believe set it apart as the most outstanding work in its genre. The first 306 pages are devoted to short historical essays of each President and his administration . Each essay is written by a renowned Presidential scholar, biographer, or historian, and are without peer for writing quality and scholarship. The essays are lively, interesting, and offer a brief and completely objective appraisal of each President's time in the nation's highest office.

After the Presidential essays section, there is another intriguing segment that has short articles describing each President's election campaign(s). The complete text of each Chief Executive's inauguration speech(es) is also included. I found this area of the book to be fascinating. I especially enjoyed reading the two Inaugural addresses of Abraham Lincoln, who is my favorite President. There I was able to compare his first Inaugural, a long, pedantic justification for beginning the Civil War, with his second address, his so very brief and powerfully eloquent appeal for the American people to "...bind up the nation's wounds."

In addition to being a well written, meticulously researched, and superbly edited, "To the Best of My Ability" is a irresistibly beautiful volume. It is lavishly illustrated throughout with paintings, lithographs, and photographs both familiar and unfamiliar. (I was especially captivated by the daguerreotypes of such early Presidents as John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, and James K. Polk.) The book is printed on heavy gloss paper, with a binding that is of an outstanding and obviously very durable quality.

"To the Best of My Ability" is simply a magnificent volume in every way! For readers of American history, and especially those interested in the American Presidents, it's a book that should not be missed.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Real Treasure!
How I wish we have one here in Australia- a volume rich with illustrations, and inspirational, intriguing facts about the nation's leaders.

Produced by The Society of American Historians, TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITY is a real treasure, a fascinating, easy way to learn more about US presidents.

Who needs Robert Caro to introduce Lyndon Johnson when we have Dallek's short, masterful piece on the enigmatic president. Dallek wrote on Johnson:

"(H)is larger-than-life personality, coupled with his significant record on both achievement and defeat, will ensure that, unlike so many other presidents, he will never be forgotten."

Tom Wicker's piece on Richard Nixon is also superb and highly fair (thank God!). Here, Wicker reminded us that Nixon almost won in the 1960 presidential election, pointing out that in spite of this person's flaws, a great many Americans obviously did like Nixon.

The book also contains short election analysis- from the very first campaign in 1789 to Bill Clinton's "triangulation" campaign in '96.

This is worth your money!!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Evereything you'd want to know and then some!!!!!!!
A history buff, especially in U.S. History, I love to read anything I can about the presidents. This book far from dissapoints.

What I really like about this book is that it is very fair to every president. For example, while it glorifies Washington and Lincoln (as it should), it also points out their personal flaws. For example, Washington, although not wanting to be a king, was a little full of himself when he preferred that people adress him in a glorifying manner. In other words, it provides the positive and negative sides of each president (politically and personally).

I can assure you that even if you think you know everything there is to know about the U.S. Presidents, you WILL learn something new from this great book (I sure did)!

5-0 out of 5 stars Interesting book that scratches the surface of the President
This book is a great book, full of great essays on each of our past Presidents, pictures and portraits of each President, election synopsis, and innagural speeches. Each President has a different historian that writes about them. Men such as James McPherson and Gordon Wood. There are wonderful essays about each President but especially, James Polk, John Tyler, and Abraham Lincoln. Although this book just scratches the surface of the terms of the Presidents, it does not flood you with a plethera of events that took place while they were President. It is a very interesting read, or a great book to begin an extensive study on the Presidents. A+ ... Read more


183. Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict (Second Edition)
by Esther de Waal, Kathleen Norris
list price: $9.95
our price: $8.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0814613888
Catlog: Book (2001-04)
Publisher: Liturgical Press
Sales Rank: 61178
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

For over fifteen hundred years St. Benedict's Rule has been a source of guidance, support, inspiration, challenge, comfort and discomfort for men and women. It has helped both those living under monastic vows and those living outside the cloister in all the mess and muddle of ordinary, busy lives in the world. Esther de Waal's Seeking God serves as an introduction to this life-giving way and encourages people to discover for themselves the gift that St. Benedict can bring to individuals, to the Church, and to the world, now and in the years to come.

Through this definitive classic Esther de Waal has become known as an authority for the lay person on the Rule of St. Benedict. Her ability to communicate clearly the principal values of the Rule when applied to lay people is the ultimate strength of this book. She follows each chapter with a page or two of thoughts and prayers, contributing to its meditative quality. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Elegant!
Seeking God is an elegant, insightful, and extremely valuable treatment of the spirituality inherent in St. Benedict's Rule. The further into the book I read, the better I realized it was. Again and again I was impressed with the wisdom and psychological astuteness of the Rule as deWaal explained it. Benedict's way of moderation, humility, and balance, as interpreted by deWaal, seems one of the wisest and healthiest examples of Christian thinking that I have encountered. It is an excellent antidote to the regrettable tendency of some to want to separate body from soul and the material world from the spiritual world; Benedictine spirituality instead balances and integrates them!

5-0 out of 5 stars Seeking God at Home
"Seeking God" helped bring "The Rule of St. Benedict" into focus for me, enabling me to see clearly the wisdom of Benedict's vision for our day. For two other books that explore Benedictine wisdom for parents, look for "The Family Cloister: Benedictine Wisdom for the Home" and "The Christian Family Toolbox: 52 Benedictine Activities for the Home", both by David Robinson (New York: Crossroad,2000 and 2001). Benedict still speaks relevantly and prophetically in our day!

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent in terms of spirituality and guidance.
The author was recommended to me both by my spiritual director and by a monastic. I see why. It is written simply and directly. It does not drip religiousity nor is it so esoteric that one becomes stalled in frustration. Instead, de Waal relates the Rule of St. Benedict to life in the world today. She does not compromise the Rule nor interpose her own "doctrine"- she draws from a great knowledge of writers of the Benedictine tradition from the past to the present, couples that with her experience as a wife and mother, presenting a straight forward discussion of the Rule, how it is of help to the Christian of today, and how it may be applied in the life of the individual who is seeking a rule for his or her own life. Her tradition is Anglican but one does not sense an intrusiveness- rather a calm, rational, feet on the floor contemplative guide which opens the door to further spiritual growth.

5-0 out of 5 stars A practical way of applying the Rule to daily living
Esther de Waal has written a beautiful little book about finding God in the commonplace. My copy is highlighted with notes in the margins like "wow" and "so true". Busy, hectic lives seem to keep us away from God, but de Waal shows us that it is precisely within the rush and madness of our daily lives that God finds us and calls us by name. A book to be read and read again. ... Read more


184. Hunting the Jackal : A Special Forces and CIA Ground Soldier's Fifty-Year Career Hunting America's Enemies
by Billy Waugh, Tim Keown
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
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Asin: 0060564091
Catlog: Book (2004-07-01)
Publisher: William Morrow
Sales Rank: 24689
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Billy Waugh is a Special Forces and CIA legend, and in Hunting the Jackal he allows unprecedented access to the shadowy but vital world he has inhabited for more than fifty years.

From deep inside the suffocating jungles of Southeast Asia to the fetid streets of Khartoum to the freezing high desert of Afghanistan, Waugh chronicles U.S. Special Operations through the extraordinary experiences of his singular life. He has worked in more than sixty countries, hiding in the darkest shadows and most desolate corners to fight those who plot America's demise. Waugh made his mark in places few want to consider and fewer still would choose to inhabit. In remarkable detail he recounts his participation in some of the most important events in American Special Operations history, including his own pivotal role in the previously untold story of the CIA's involvement in the capture of the infamous Carlos the Jackal.

Waugh's work in helping the CIA bring down Carlos the Jackal provides a riveting and suspenseful account of the loneliness and adrenaline common to real-life espionage. He provides a point-by-point breakdown of the indefatigable work necessary to detain the world's first celebrity terrorist.

No synopsis can adequately describe Waugh's experiences. He spent seven and a half years in Vietnam, many of them behind enemy lines as part of SOG, a top secret group of elite commandos. He was tailed by Usama bin Laden's unfriendly bodyguards while jogging through the streets of Khartoum, Sudan, at 3 A.M. And, at the age of seventy-two, he marched through the frozen high plains of Afghanistan as one of a select number of CIA operatives who hit the ground as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Waugh came face-to-face with bin Laden in Khartoum in 1991 and again in 1992 as one of the first CIA operatives assigned to watch the al Qaeda leader. Waugh describes his daily surveillance routine with clear-eyed precision. Without fanfare, fear, or chance of detection, he could have killed the 9/11 mastermind on the dirty streets of Khartoum had he been given the authority to do so.

No man is more qualified to chronicle America's fight against its enemies -- from communism to terrorism -- over the past half-century. In Hunting the Jackal, Billy Waugh has emerged from the shadows and folds of history to write a memoir of an extraordinary life for extraordinary times.

... Read more

Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Disregard Publisher's Weekly Review
I used to subscribe to Publisher's Weekly, willing to put up with some of that publication's obvious left-leaning sympathies in order to get the most recent publishing news. But no more. I have just cancelled my subscription based on the incredibly biased and belittling review of American patriot Billy Waugh's book. I can only assume that the review was written by the same editor that reviews (negatively, of course) anything that is positive about America, our current President, conservatives, or the military. The author of this poison pill of a review chooses his adjectives as carefully as if he was attempting to craft fine literature. It is obvious that even a well-told tale of a life lived making sure that rags like PW can be published will never receive a fair review from the commissars at Reed Elsevier, Inc. Billy Waugh is not "a one dimensional, blustering character" and anyone who knows him will attest to that. What he is represents what the left so hates: a man who has devoted his entire life to the defense of this Nation, our Nation, his Nation . . . and you ought to be damn proud that he has.

5-0 out of 5 stars Required reading for all who enjoy freedom
Harvard Law School professor Alan M. Dershowitz last April complained to Publishers Weekly about its negative review of his new book. Amazingly, the editor-in-chief agreed and had the book re-reviewed. Billy Waugh should have them do the same. HUNTING THE JACKAL is an incredible look into the world of secret warriors working around the clock to safeguard our freedom. He has hunted--and found--terrorists who top the Most Wanted lists. And here he writes about Carlos the Jackal and Osama bin Laden and others. He's done the dirty work in the world's hellholes (just the descriptions of which seem to upset book reviewers). It is not pretty work, and what they do and how they do it is not particularly appropriate for some polite conversations. But that is the point. This is a well-written book--better than most--that lays out the real underworld in a clean, engaging fashion. You're quickly taken along on an amazing life, and before you know it, you're at the last page, overwhelmed at what you've "witnessed" ... and wanting more. The best-selling author W.E.B. Griffin said it best: "Waugh is the warrior's warrior. From Special Forces missions in Vietnam to black ops work around the world, he has fought our worst enemies hellbent on harming America in ways unimagined. We sleep soundly, our freedoms defended, thanks to men like Waugh. This is his remarkable story -- read it and understand what too few do." ... Read more


185. Esther Great Lives Series: Volume 2
by Charles R. Swindoll
list price: $22.99
our price: $15.63
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0849913837
Catlog: Book (1997-10-14)
Publisher: W Publishing Group
Sales Rank: 21300
Average Customer Review: 3.91 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Everyone loves a transforming story. Rags to riches. Plain to beautiful. Weak to strong. Esther's story is that, and much more. It is a thought-provoking study of God's invisible hand, writing silently across the pages of human history. Perhaps most of all, it is an account of a godly woman with the courage, wisdom, and strength to block an evil plot, overthrow an arrogant killer, and replace with joy in thousands of Jewish homes. Through Esther's courageous struggle to help her people, Swindoll explains the power of divine providence in volume 2 of the best-selling "Great Lives" series.

... Read more

Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars Cool book
I hadn't read the Book of Esther before buying this book by Charles Swindoll. The way that he presents the information is fun yet informative. A lot of times he will relate the happenings as to how they might occur in today's world just to illustrate the events further. This is a great book! I highly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Book Full of Application
The entire Great Lives Series are biographies on individuals of the Bible. They are wonderful books because they can be read at many different levels. This book, on Esther, is no different.
On the surface level one can read this book and learn a lot about Esther. The next level reveals the character of God, and another level teaches the reader application for their own life and relationship with God.

This book is entirely about Esther, but doesn't have anything to do with Esther. Through reading this book one learns about Esther, her experiences, and the era she lived in. Yet what we are really learning are principles that remain constant for all people and all time. Some of these are: waiting on the Lord, the invincibility of God despite his invisibility, and self- constraint through the holy spirit. Like the parables Jesus used, the story of Esther's life is merely a tool God uses to portray His will. This is something Charles Swindoll has discovered, and I believe his intent in writing this book is to help us discover the same.

One of the great aspects of this book is that it is part of a series and each book in the series addresses different lessons and characteristics of God. These books introduce life- changing application we might otherwise miss in our regular bible reading and therefore, can greatly enhance our time in God's word.

4-0 out of 5 stars Esther the Ideal Woman
Recently I read this with a group over a period of 8 weeks.
It found it quite insightful and encouraging to the group and believe that there were many good principles that Chuck had to say. You do feel very encouraged after reading this book. It's main focus is on God's providence and soveriegnity over our lives. Esther is the ultimate example of that.
However, I do have a few critisms that would benefit anyone who plans to get the book. First, Chuck does tend to derive alot of principles from the text that you may not necessarily have looked for when you read the book of Esther. I understand why he does this, to allow the reader to sympathize with Esther's character. Second, at times it seems Chuck is making Esther an ideal that we all should follow, that's okey to a certain extent. Third, he really didn't spend much time on the historical background of Esther's time, which I think would allow the reader to understand where she was coming from. (We supplimented that information in our meeting.) Fourth, he did not need 12 chapters to write about principles from Esther. The last two were good, but not too necessary.
With that said, I think this book is a great read for Christians who want to learn about applying God's word personally to their lives, and as a good read for those times when you can't get into a heavy study in the Bible. Esther is a refreshing book that offers much hope and encouragement to those who read it.

1-0 out of 5 stars Not this one
The book has an attractive cover and is well-marketed. Beyond that, it's not worth the investment of time nor money. The well-meaning author writes in a folksy narrative, with flagrant grammar flaws and overuses exclamation marks. The organization and chronology are likewise poor. Worse yet, substantively, the book reaches far and states assumptions which are not Biblically sound. Unfortunately, the author is not clear to point out those incidences when he may be speculating versus citing fact, which makes for some unsound theology. Read the Biblical book of Esther and see how vastly different it is from this book. This read is heavy on extras and tangents that are irrelevant to the theme.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Woman of Strength and Dignity
Charles Swindoll aptly connects the time of great Israel persecution and a courageous woman who saved her people from genocide to modern readers who will feel like they know her by the end of the book. The cultural analysis is especially fascinating. ... Read more


186. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (Dover Thrift Editions)
by Benjamin Franklin
list price: $2.00
our price: $3.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0486290735
Catlog: Book (1996-05-01)
Publisher: Dover Publications
Sales Rank: 6150
Average Customer Review: 4.12 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

One of the most popular works of American literature, this charming self-portrait has been translated into nearly every language. It covers Franklin’s life up to his prewar stay in London as representative of the Pennsylvania Assembly, including his boyhood years, work as a printer, experiments with electricity, political career, much more.
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Reviews (40)

5-0 out of 5 stars Franklin's informal account of his remarkable life
In many ways, this is, to someone coming to it for the first time, a very surprising book. For one thing, it is amazingly incomplete. Franklin is, of course, one of the most famous Americans who ever lived, and his accomplishments in a wide array of endeavors are a part of American lore and popular history. A great deal of this lore and many of his accomplishments are missing from this account of his life. He never finished the autobiography, earlier in his life because he was too busy with what he terms public "employments," and later in life because the opium he was taking for kidney stones left him unable to concentrate sufficiently. Had Franklin been able to write about every period of his life and all of his achievements, his AUTOBIOGRAPHY would have been one of the most remarkable documents every produced. It is amazingly compelling in its incomplete state.

As a serious reader, I was delighted in the way that Franklin is obsessed with the reading habits of other people. Over and over in the course of his memoir, he remarks that such and such a person was fond of reading, or owned a large number of books, or was a poet or author. Clearly, it is one of the qualities he most admires in others, and one of the qualities in a person that makes him want to know a person. He finds other readers to be kindred souls.

If one is familiar with the Pragmatists, one finds many pragmatist tendencies in Franklin's thought. He is concerned less with ideals than with ideas that work and are functional. For instance, at one point he implies that while his own beliefs lean more towards the deistical, he sees formal religion as playing an important role in life and society, and he goes out of his way to never criticize the faith of another person. His pragmatism comes out also in list of the virtues, which is one of the more famous and striking parts of his book. As is well known, he compiled a list of 13 virtues, which he felt summed up all the virtues taught by all philosophers and religions. But they are practical, not abstract virtues. He states that he wanted to articulate virtues that possessed simple and not complex ideas. Why? The simpler the idea, the easier to apply. And in formulating his list of virtues, he is more concerned with the manner in which these virtues can be actualized in one's life. Franklin has utterly no interest in abstract morality.

One of Franklin's virtues is humility, and his humility comes out in the form of his book. His narrative is exceedingly informal, not merely in the first part, which was ostensibly addressed to his son, but in the later sections (the autobiography was composed upon four separate occasions). The informal nature of the book displays Franklin's intended humility, and for Franklin, seeming to be so is nearly as important as actually being so. For part of the function of the virtues in an individual is not merely to make that particular person virtuous, but to function as an example to others. This notion of his being an example to other people is one of the major themes in his book. His life, he believes, is an exemplary one. And he believes that by sharing the details of his own life, he can serves as a template for other lives.

One striking aspect of his book is what one could almost call Secular Puritanism. Although Franklin was hardly a prude, he was nonetheless very much a child of the Puritans. This is not displayed merely in his promotion of the virtues, but in his abstaining from excessiveness in eating, drinking, conversation, or whatever. Franklin is intensely concerned with self-governance.

I think anyone not having read this before will be surprised at how readable and enjoyable this is. I think also one can only regret that Franklin was not able to write about the entirety of his life. He was a remarkable man with a remarkable story to tell.

5-0 out of 5 stars You will be richer from reading this book
Benjamin Franklin's autobiography is the story of one man's efforts to integrate certain principles and habits - integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty - into his life and to embed them deep within his nature. Franklin was a scientist, philosopher, statesman, inventor, educator, diplomat, politician, humorist and man of letters who led a very full life. He was also a moralist and humanitarian who was happy to be considered unconventional by doing things the way he thought they should be done. His was a life well lived and a model from which we can learn much. In the introduction we are told: "Himself a master of the motives of human conduct, Franklin did not set out to reveal himself in his autobiography. Rather, he intended to tell us (insofar as we, the nation, are the 'posterity' to whom he addressed himself) how life was to be lived, good done, and happiness achieved - how the ball was to be danced."

Franklin did not have an easy life as the tenth son of a candle maker whose education ended at the age of ten. But by hard work and careful planning he was able to retire from business at the age of forty-two and devote his time to science and politics. He was sent to England in 1764 to petition the King to end the proprietary government of the colony. Soon after the Revolution began he was sent to France to negotiate an alliance with Louis XVI. He was a member of the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence. It is difficult to image anyone not coming away richer from reading this book.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Book Of Firsts
Said to be the first work of American literature, by America's first citizen: Ben Franklin's autobiography has certainly drawn a lot of praise.

Written in several pieces, it takes his life just past his electrical experiments, ending with his ambassadorial trip to London in 1757 on behalf of the Pennsylvania Assembly to argue that the Proprietors (the descendants of William Penn) should accept a tax to fund the raising of a militia.

Ben's early life story is familiar to all, coming penniless from Boston to Philadelphia, etc. particularly these days when new Franklin biographies seem to appear almost monthly. It is an interesting book, particularly because it was written by Franklin himself. But the breathless praise that is everywhere showered upon it seems a bit over done. First of all, it's incomplete, and secondly, it's not nearly as witty as Poor Richard.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Unfinished Autobiography of the Consumate American Life
Franklin wrote this autobiography as a letter of instruction in the ways of the world to his youthful and illegitimate son of 40. It only covers the first half or so of his incredible life, so the things that really made him well-known are not covered, but there is plenty here anyway.

Franklin recounts his family's modest life in England and the circumstances that brought them to Boston. He was among the youngest of a very large family, ultimately finding his way to Philadelphia to find work as a printer when an apprenticeship with an older brother turned sour.

We always think of Franklin as being a slightly older statesman among the Founding Fathers, when in fact he was a full generation older than Washington or Jefferson. Unlike popular perception, he was an athletic and vibrant youth, who rescued a drowning Dutch companion and taught swimming to children of London's elite.

Philadelphia in the 1720's and 1730's was a small town, never sure if it would really take off as a settlement. Franklin quickly befriended key politicians who felt Philadelphia had grown sufficiently to have a world-class print shop. He played a key role in the town's development, leading civic groups in establishing libraries, fire companies, meeting halls, and street cleaning services. Of course, he was also the consummate politician, serving in office, and networking his way to his first fortune by publishing government documents and printing the first paper currency. He also had a knack for working with the several important religious sects of that time and place, especially the pacifist Quakers, even though Franklin was a deist.

Franklin was a clever businessman. In today's lexicon, he effectively franchised across the colonies his concept of the publisher/printer who would provide both the content and the ink on paper. By age 30, he had set up his business affairs so that his printing businesses in several colonies were operated by partners and he received a share of the profits, allowing him to pursue other interests.

The autobiography is unfinished, so we don't hear his account of his pursuits of electricity, which made him as famous and well-known as Bill Gates is today, nor his thought on the Revolution. Franklin did play a key role in establishing logistical support to the British during their fight with the French in the New World. At that time and during his years in Europe, he was generally perceived as a Tory supporter.

Read this book to learn how Franklin devoted himself to self-improvement by establishing clubs, lending libraries, a sober lifestyle allowing time for study, and his methods for measuring his personal performance against metrics he had established for a proper lifestyle. One will also gather a new appreciation for the fullness, utility, and richness of the English language when put on paper by a master.

3-0 out of 5 stars Read as a companion to Isaacson
Ten years ago, I purchased the paperback and could not get past the first few chapters. Five years ago, I bought the cassette version and could not get much further. After finishing and enjoying Walter Isaacson's Franklin bio immediately prior to this third attempt, I was finally able to enjoy "The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin". Fredd Wayne brings Franklin to life with what seems like a perfect portrayal. He *performs* rather than narrates.

Without the insight from Issacson, or, I suspect, from any decent biography of Franklin, the autobiography is disjointed, as he wrote different sections at different times of his life, and some time periods are eliminated completely. And it seems to have multiple personalities, struggling between the subjects of self-help, biography, history and simple meanderings and ruminations of an old man.

As a companion book - 5 stars; as a standalone - 2-3 stars ... Read more


187. The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin
by H.W. BRANDS
list price: $35.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385493282
Catlog: Book (2000-09-19)
Publisher: Doubleday
Sales Rank: 35257
Average Customer Review: 4.63 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Benjamin Franklin may have been the most remarkable American ever to live: a printer, scientist, inventor, politician, diplomat, and--finally--an icon. His life was so sweeping that this comprehensive biography by H.W. Brands at times reads like a history of the United States during the 18th century. Franklin was at the center of America's transition from British colony to new nation, and was a kind of Founding Grandfather to the Founding Fathers; he was a full generation older than George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry, and they all viewed him with deep respect. "Of those patriots who made independence possible, none mattered more than Franklin, and only Washington mattered as much," writes Brands (author of a well-received Teddy Roosevelt biography, T.R.: The Last Romantic). Franklin was a complex character who sometimes came up a bit short in the personal virtue department, once commenting, "That hard-to-be-governed passion of youth had hurried me frequently into intrigues with low women that fell in my way." When he married, another woman was already pregnant with his child--a son he took into his home and had his wife raise.

Franklin is best remembered for other things, of course. His still-famous Poor Richard's Almanac helped him secure enough financial freedom as a printer to retire and devote himself to the study of electricity (which began, amusingly, with experiments on chickens). His mind never rested: He invented bifocals, the armonica (a musical instrument made primarily of glass), and, in old age, a mechanical arm that allowed him to reach books stored on high shelves. He served American interests as a diplomat in Europe; without him, France might not have intervened in the American Revolution. He helped draft the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He possessed a sense of humor, too. In 1776, when John Hancock urged the colonies to "hang together," Franklin is said to have commented, "We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately." Franklin's accomplishments were so numerous and varied that they threaten to read like a laundry list. Yet Brands pours them into an engrossing narrative, and they leap to life on these pages as the grand story of an exceptional man. The First American is an altogether excellent biography. --John J. Miller ... Read more

Reviews (111)

5-0 out of 5 stars The polymath who gave America a fine start
Being a scientist and the son of a printer, I have always been intrigued with Franklin, the man who encompassed all my family's interests single-handedly. H. W. Brands' book is a wonderful addition to the school of knowledge of one of our most interesting founding fathers. Well written, this book is notably more readable than the typical arid biography. Especially laudable is Brands' coordination of simultaneous events in the colonies and Europe, which he relates in a clear, coordinated and concise manner, avoiding confusing backtracking in parallel timelines.

Brands' theme in this book clearly tracks the arc of Franklin life, from loyal English colonial subject to American Revolutionary advocate. While building a strong career as publisher, Franklin manages to build an infrastructure of public works in Philadelphia, including library and fire department, a colonial postal system, and defense force against hostile Indians. All the while, he gains an international reputation as a scientist and philosopher, and late in life, statesman par excellance.

Brands is to be commended for giving us this well sourced and detailed book, which clearly relates the amazing life of a complex and fascinating American.

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Biography
When I first saw this book available for sale, I could not wait to read it. Other founding fathers, such as Washington, Adams and Jefferson have had numerous biographies devoted to them and their role in the American Revolution. Benjamin Franklin was long overdue for a new biography and H.W. Brands has supplied an excellent chapter on one of the most illustrious founding fathers.

The book demonstrates the rise of Franklin from a younger son in a large family in Boston to a well known and respected printer in Philadelphia. Based on extreme hard work, frugality and ghe ability to impress power men, Franklin quickly becomes a force in the city. The most interesting think about this point in his life is the agility of his mind. Never content to simply wonder why, Franklin educates himself in such diverse areas as philosophy, science, mechnical engineering, etc. The classic American dream of rags to riches is truly demonstrate via the life of Franklin.

Later in his life, Franklin spent many years in England as the colonial agent for Pennsylvania. His fame as an amateur scientist through his experiments with electricity meant he was already well known in England. Franklin himself loved England during this time in his life and the author points out that it took quite a bit of abuse from the English politicians to turn him away from pursuing reconciliation with the Mother Country.

Once he knew that America must achieve independence and at the age of 70 (!), Franklin returned to Philadelphia and began the exciting process of fighting for independence and setting up a new country. Soon after, he went to France to persuade the French government to help the fledgling country. Later still, he worked on the development of the U.S. Constitution. In the history of man, it is difficult to find a man whose life encompasses such a wide range of achievement.

The author does a fine job of drawing upon Franklin's own words to illustrate his life. The writing flows smoothly and covers most areas of his life in sufficient detail. Only one small complaint- I wish more would have been discussed regarding his private life, especially his marrige.

5-0 out of 5 stars History Comes Alive
Although a 700+ page biography of a man dead 200 years sounds daunting, in this case nothing could be further from the truth. Franklin's story is an amazing one, which the author tells in a style both fast and entertaining. He never goes into more detail than the casual reader (me) would like, but gives just enough historical perspective and philosophical framework to place Franklin in his time. Franklin's life was so full and far-ranging that it couldn't be covered in less than 700 well-manicured pages. I found it compulsively readable, despite the size. Truly he lived in "interesting times" and showed himself to be a man equal to every challenge he faced -- and quite a few left to future generations.

The true measure of a biography may be in getting the reader to CARE about the subject, and in this Brands succeeds unconditionally. Even from the distance of 200 years Franklin's inevitable passing hit me hard, moving me to tears of sorrow.

THAT is good writing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Scholarly Work on an American Icon
H.W. Brands must have been a doozy back at school. Once given an assignment for a research paper I can see Brands asking "Can I do twice as many references as required?"

I'm poking fun a little to make the point that this is a scholarly and well-researched portrait of Franklin. Brands doesn't seem to make any points that are not backed up by some written reference, and any time there is speculation Brands' language makes it clear that this is a thought extrapolated from available knowledge.

I almost wanted to give the work 4 rather than 5 stars because my initial response was that although the book was good, I also thought that if there's anything this book needs, it's a little pruning. This biography is so exhaustively complete that there is little time to pause. ALL of the information is presented, and it got a little mentally tiring separating the wheat from the chaff. (Does this make me like the Emperor who informs Mozart his new opera has "too many notes"?) From the language of this book Mr. Franklin's early work in the printing business in Philadelphia comes across with as much force as his later participation in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.

Brands gives us a good feel for Benjamin Franklin's standing in the world community - not only in Philadelphia and America, but also in Europe and around the world. We also get a little of a taste for Franklin's indulgences in woman and for the periods in his life when he was reluctant to assume the role of "family man".

At the end when the great citizen Dr. Franklin passed away James Madison passed the news to the new congress and suggested that a National Period of Mourning be observed - a measure that must have been one of the first official acts of Congress to pass immediately and unanimously. The word quickly spread to France where their assembly also unanimously voted to immediately don black to mourn The First American.

Among Biographies, in particular of our Founding Fathers, this one stands up well, and should for as long as people care to read about the amazing Benjamin Franklin.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ben Franklin was the prototypical geek
The founding fathers have been in danger of becoming mere icons for some time now -- Washington the military man, Hamilton the royalist, Jefferson the renaissance man, and Franklin, the comic foil. "Yes, we must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately," Franklin quipped at the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

But in this book, H.W. Brands lays out a broader, more important role for Franklin. Besides being the most famous American to the rest of the world, Brands argues, Franklin was the first American to recognize that the colonies could never achieve an acceptable freedom from Parliament within the British Empire, and would therefore have to fight to achieve full independence.

He was also the prototypical geek. Though he lacked formal education, Franklin had an amazing ability to arrive at the truth of a subject through observation and experimentation. His contributions on electricity and heating (the Franklin Stove) are well known, but Brands covers others in fields from oceanography to physiology to opthalmology.

An inveterate (if inexpert) chessplayer and skirt-chaser, Franklin's family life is fascinating and new to me. He fathered an illegitimate son, William, of an unknown mother before marrying Deborah Read; Franklin and Deborah raised him. Later, they would have a son (somewhat improbably named Francis Folger Franklin, and called Franky) who died of smallpox after the family failed to inoculate him, and a daughter, Sally. Franklin won William appointments as a deputy postmaster and later as royal governor of New Jersey, but when the revolution came, William sided with the crown. It was a blow to Franklin, who never reconciled with his son. He had a major role in raising William's illegitimate son, Temple, and another grandchild, Benjamin Bache (Sally's son).

His relationship with his wife was also somewhat curious. In 1757, Franklin essentially moved to England to represent the Pennsylvania Assembly with the English government (then under George II -- he later would be the agent of Massachusetts, Georgia, and New Jersey, as well), while Deborah stayed behind. He would spend 16 of the next 18 years in London, and 8 of the following 10 in France, but Deborah stayed in Philadelphia. She claimed a fear of ocean travel kept her from traveling, and Franklin wrote her constantly, but it's a heck of a way to run a marriage.

Franklin simplifies the biographer's job somewhat by the very volume of material he left behind. As a printer, he published Poor Richard's Almanac, and innumberable broadsides, pamphlets, newspaper articles, and memoirs. As a politician, he contributed to the Declaration, to several constitutions for the state of Pennsylvania (he was head of the Pennsylvania Assembly before the war, and 3 times president of the state after), and the the U.S. Constitution -- Brands credits Franklin with the compromise allowing state legislatures to elect 2 members each to the Senate, while the House of Representatives was elected by population (initial proposals would have had the Senate elected by the House). And as a celebrity, his letters were almost invariably saved, and provide insights into his remarkable perspective on the world.

There's a vogue of Revolutionary era non-fiction right now, including David McCullough's "John Adams" (Adams disliked Franklin pretty intensely, so this might be a good pair to read), "Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation," by Joseph J. Ellis, and "The American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson," but the history-minded geek will probably prefer The First American. ... Read more


188. Joseph Great Lives Series: Volume 3
by Charles R. Swindoll
list price: $22.99
our price: $16.09
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 084991342X
Catlog: Book (1998-08-21)
Publisher: W Publishing Group
Sales Rank: 62347
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

No family today is more dysfunctional than Joseph's. No one faces greated temptation than Potiphar's wife offered Joseph. No faith is challenged more severely than was Joseph's on death row. Yet Joseph stood firm, exemplifying what is possible when ordinary people maintain their connections with God. Like an epic novel filled with intrigue, tension, and torrential emotions, Joseph's triumphiant story touches us all. This third volume in Charles Swindoll's"Great Lives" series presents a fresh look at one of the most intriguing characters in the Old Testament and focuses on the virtue of forgiveness in the face of deceit and betrayal.

... Read more

Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars "One of the two best on Joseph!"
Although my favorite Joseph book is 'With Joseph in the University of Adversity: the Mizraim Principles', by Dr. Parks, this one is a close second! If you want a pastor's heart in the telling of the story--this one is best! If you want sound principles for everyday life that you or a graduate can use, and really well-organized--go with Parks (if you can get your hands on a copy!). Swindoll does this as part of a series, and it's excellent! These are the best two Joseph books around.

5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome Knowledge!
Once again, Charles Swindoll has brought a biblical character to life. I felt as if I was going "through" with Joseph! Mr. Swindoll makes it easy to relate what happen to Joseph with his family relations to today's family. If you're having difficulty relating to the trials and tribulations your family faces, read this book and get a revelation from God!

5-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Enlightening
This is only the second book by Swindoll that I have read. The first was "Intimacy with the Almighty". I liked this one much better. Swindoll did a fantastic job with the life of Joseph. He included a lot of details and perspective on issues, Jacob's poor parenting, geographic locations, etc. that really put you in Joseph's shoes. The book was an engaging page-turner, which I devoured and greatly enjoyed. I am looking forward to reading some of the other books in the series. (Moses, Daniel, etc.)

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Triumph for Swindoll
Much like with the first novel in this series, "David", this book is not only wonderfully written and explained, but inspires great strength in the reader. Also like "David", "Joseph" should be read with the intent of learning, of bettering one's self, not for strict entertainment value alone (although the book is highly entertaining). Another tool for the modern day Christian, and another wonderful book from Swindoll though the power of God.

5-0 out of 5 stars THE COMPLETE and UNFORGETABLE story of Joseph's faith.
Never have I read with such diligence a story with such meaning, character and direction as: "Joseph: A Man of Absolute Integrity." From the first chapter to the conclusion, Joseph's story, as it is recounted and explained by Charles Swindoll, provides twentieth century explanation, definition and direction of historical records and writings for the reader. You will not want to put it down until your finished reading it!!! ... Read more


189. Benjamin Franklin
by Edmund S. Morgan
list price: $28.00
our price: $18.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0300095325
Catlog: Book (2002-10)
Publisher: Yale University Press
Sales Rank: 24758
Average Customer Review: 3.63 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Benjamin Franklin is perhaps the most remarkable figure in American history: the greatest statesman of his age, he played a pivotal role in the formation of the American republic. He was also a pioneering scientist, a bestselling author, the country's first postmaster general, a printer, a bon vivant, a diplomat, a ladies' man, and a moralist-and the most prominent celebrity of the eighteenth century.Franklin was, however, a man of vast contradictions, as Edmund Morgan demonstrates in this brilliant biography. A reluctant revolutionary, Franklin had desperately wished to preserve the British Empire, and he mourned the break even as he led the fight for American independence. Despite his passion for science, Franklin viewed his groundbreaking experiments as secondary to his civic duties. And although he helped to draft both the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution, he had personally hoped that the new American government would take a different shape. Unraveling the enigma of Franklin's character, Morgan shows that he was the rare individual who consistently placed the public interest before his own desires.

Written by one of our greatest historians, Benjamin Franklin offers a provocative portrait of America's most extraordinary patriot. ... Read more

Reviews (35)

2-0 out of 5 stars Unconstrained by linear logic, a difficult book to follow
Benjamin Franklin's life is one of the most fascinating in American life--he was a diplomat, legislator, printer and scientist. In this admittedly short biography in an admittedly crowded field (there have been a handful of similar books published in recent years), Edmund Morgan attempts to give us an impression of the character of the man.

He starts with his athleticism, moves on to his views of religion and morals, and so on. Those who are unfamiliar with the factual details of Franklins life will be confused by the sudden appearance of details: Referring to his wife, Morgan writes: "He spent the last ten years of her life away from her in London." This comes as a shock as we haven't yet been told he spent so much time in the mother country.

Morgan readily admits that the work is based largely on a recent compilation of Franklin documents on disk ("...and not much else")and doesn't offer original research.

In sum, this becomes a difficult book to read and cannot be recommended except perhaps as an adjunct to Franklin-devotees who've already finished reading several more orthodox biographies.

4-0 out of 5 stars insightful look at "the ornament of the New World"
"Let all Men know thee, but no man know thee thoroughly." So advised Dr. Franklin, and so he lived. It is difficult to know any historical figure, especially as his contemporaries knew him, and Franklin's being a multifaceted, sometimes enigmatic person makes knowing him particularly challenging--and also extremely interesting. But Edmund S. Morgan, relying on the thirty-six currently published volumes (with more on the way) of Franklin's writings, does an admirable job of introducing us to this famous Founder.

It is not Morgan's intention to offer an exhaustive treatment of Franklin's life. Rather, he paints a portrait of the man's character, personality, and opinions and shows how these traits came through in what Franklin did. The picture of Franklin that emerges here is one of a curious, industrious, energetic man, one who enjoys the company of others (particularly women--and younger women at that), one who is devoted to public service, one who dislikes controversy and scandal. He uses his considerable talents to benefit his fellow man (and himself) and to improve the world around him, as he did for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and eventually for the nascent United States. Morgan traces three major ideas running through many of Franklin's actions--(1) his belief in voluntary associations for mutual assistance, such as the fire company and library in Philadelphia; (2) the goal, ultimately abandoned, of uniting the American colonies with England in an Anglo-American empire, a single political community destined for greatness; and (3) his belief that what is right is that which is beneficial. It is also interesting, and more than a little surprising, to note, as well, that from 1757 to his death in 1790, Franklin spent only eight years in his native land.

Readers of this volume will inevitably want to turn to more in-depth biographies of Franklin, or perhaps even to his own writings. But for a brief and insightful picture of the man, either as introduction or re-acquaintance, I can imagine no better work than this one.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but not the one to get
I feel bad saying this, but the reality is that if you are interested in learning about one of history's most interesting and influential men, you'll be better served reading Walter Isaacson's biography of Franklin. Isaacson's is more comprehensive, more detailed, more incisive, but most of all, is a total pleasure to read, whereas I found Morgan's sometimes difficult to plow through. "Plowing through" would be worth it if this book offered perspectives and facts not found in the Isaacson book, but that is not the case.

As I said, this one isn't bad, but why get it, when the Isaacson one is superior?

4-0 out of 5 stars Benjamin Franklin
(...)

Benjamin Franklin; we know about the remarkable things he did, but how do we really know him as a man? That is Edmund S. Morgan's question. Through Franklin's letters, newspapers, discoveries, autobiography, and a certain disk entitled, the Papers of Benjamin Franklin, Morgan has been compelled to write this book to give the world a taste of who Franklin was. Franklin was born on January 17, 1706, full of curiosity and vigor. He always felt the need to explore the world around him and to study the things that most took for granted. He could often be found outdoors walking about, taking in the scenery around him. He had an uncanny ability to look at everyday things with surprise and inquisitiveness. This endowment is what drove Franklin to make so many advances in human knowledge. He also thoroughly enjoyed being in the company of good friends; playing chess, telling jokes, and singing songs. He was a very sociable and companionable man; he was always looking to help people. Franklin also had his own views of religion. When Franklin was young he did a lot of thinking and writing on his morals. He came to believe that "Sin is not harmful because it is forbidden, but it is forbidden because it is harmful...Nor is a duty beneficial because it is commanded, but it is commanded because it is beneficial." Franklin never attended a church regularly and didn't take kindly to the Bible, though he undoubtedly believed in God as the creator. Franklin did not believe in a God who divided his people into those he intended to welcome to heaven and those he would condemn to Hell. Franklin even went on to write a lengthy list of virtues in his autobiography part 2. He always tried to do what he thought God wanted of him; he always tried to help the public and the economy. Franklin married Deborah Read in 1730 shortly after his first son, William, was born. The mother of this son is still unknown. When Franklin was entering his forties, he began studying about and experimenting with electricity. Only one kind of electricity was known back then, and that was static electricity, the kind that produces a shock. In the 1740's a collection of Leyden jars for storing static electricity was sent to Franklin by an English friend. Without delay, Franklin started experimenting with it. He soon discovered that a metal rod with a pointed end would attract a spark from a greater distance than a blunt one. He then went on to suggest the experiment with the kite and the key to prove that lightning was electric. His experiment was successful, and suddenly he was famous. Though, that is certainly not the only thing Franklin would become famous for. He helped write the Declaration of Independence, secured the Alliance with France, negotiated the treaty of peace with England, and partook in the convention that drafted the United States Constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation. Franklin once wrote to his mother that when his life was over, "I would rather have it said, he lived usefully, than, he died rich." Franklin died on April 17, 1790. However, I feel saying that Benjamin Franklin lived usefully is a blatant understatement. Franklin was a man of great heart. He accomplished more things in his eighty-four years than most men could achieve in two-hundred. Benjamin Franklin was essential to the world.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
This is both a fascinating book, and it is about one of the
most fascinating subjects, Benjamin Franklin.
The book is a little on the short side, but the author explains
he kept it a bit limited in scope on purpose. He intends for
it to be readable,and he wants to concentrate on Franklin's public service; plus, he tends to focus on his overseas assignments on behalf of the 13 Colonies, as well as his later
service on behalf of the new United States.
No hero of our Revolution is more complex and diverse than
Franklin, and his public service far exceeds that of any other
of the Founders. We tend to forget how old Franklin was at the
time of some of his greatest service. After nearly 10 years in
England, trying to pursuade the English authorities in Parliament of the wisdom of keeping their American colonies within the British Empire by giving them equal status in that
Empire, and finally failing, he returned home to Philadelphia.
And the next day, he was elected to the Second Continental Congress.
As he entered the State House in Philadelphia to begin his term
in that Congress, it is noted that he served in that same building years before in the colonial assembly. And when he
served in the colonial government, some of the greatest of Founders weren't born yet; at that time, for example, Patrick
Henry, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock and John Adams had not even been born. Franklin served all those years, and as the
Revolution was progressing, and he was in his 70s, the new government sent him to France to procure loans and to negotiate
treaties with France to help in their fight for Independence.
That he succeeded is evident, and he spent several years in France serving his new country.
The book reveals, in very interesting detail, that Franklin was
so revered and so respected in England, that while he was living
there, fighting for better understanding by Parliament, he was
blamed for everything that was happening in the Colonies. When
an assembly in Bostom forwarded new demands to King George III,
which inflamed Parliament, the Solicitor General called Franklin
the "great director" of those events and demands. The author
very nicely points out that the probably author of those demands
from Bostom, Samuel Adams, needed no direction from Franklin on
how to inflame independence passions.
When the Boston Tea Party took place in Boston harbor, in protest against Parliament's tax on imported tea, the Secretary

for Colonial Affairs told Parliament the whole affair looked
like it came from "...the Franklin school of politics."
About that time, Franklin's English friends advised him he was
facing arrest, and many were afraid for his physical safety.
But he continued doing his job for the Colonies, and although
he met with much frustration in dealing with British authorities, he never wavered in his efforts to help the Colonies.
Franklin showed style, energy, and he exercised more diplomacy
in both England and France than we can imagine, and this author
does a nice job of pointing out his efforts and accomplishments. ... Read more


190. Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War
by William Manchester
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316501115
Catlog: Book (2002-04-12)
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Sales Rank: 9513
Average Customer Review: 4.23 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

For the first time in trade paperback, the book in which one of the most celebrated biographer/historians of our time looks back at his own early life and gives us a remarkable account of World War II in the Pacific, of what it looked like, sounded like, smelled like, and, most of all, what it felt like to one who underwent all but the ultimate of its experiences.

Back Bay takes pride in making William Manchester's intense, stirring, and impassioned memoir available to a new generation of readers. ... Read more

Reviews (47)

5-0 out of 5 stars I've read it again and again
Few books moved me like this one. William Manchester has always been one of my favorite biographers writing such magnificent books as The Arms of Krupp, American Caesar, and The Last Lion. But Goodbye Darkness is an intensely personal look at his own life as a soldier fighting in the brutal battle of Okinawa during World War Two. As the title suggest, this book is an attempt by a aging man to come to grips with the brutality and the deeds of his youth. More than a personal biography, Manchester weaves the whole Pacific Campaign into his story, we learn of the terror of Guadalcanal, the bravery of the Marines at Tarawa, and the courage of ordinary men who were put in extraordinary circumstances. It is an intensely personal story as we get to know a young Manchester and his Raggedy Ass Marines. We see how friendships were man, mistakes were made and lives were lost. It is a magnificent book.

Manchester comes to grips with the ferocity of his enemy, the Japanese solider. One can sense both a sense of admiration and enmity as Manchester talks about those he fought so long ago. Underlying this hate is the seed of racism as seen in the Japanese who took no prisoners to the Marines who mounted the severed heads of their enemy on their tanks. It was brutal. Both sides saw the other as inferior human beings; thus, it was killed or be killed with very few prisoners taken. Yet, the reader senses Manchester admiration of his enemy, the courage of the Japanese solider who fought with interior weapons, weakened by disease and who was often on the verge of starvation. In the end, however, the authors observes, We were better soldiers.

I have read this book three, maybe four times over the years, and I am due to read it again. It is that good.

5-0 out of 5 stars The warp and woof of war
Not only is William Manchester a first rate writer, but he was there. The title of this book depicts his nightmares as a repository left over from his experiences in the infantry in the South Pacific in WWII. His attempts to dispel them are worked out through visiting each island the marines fought on in the pacific theatre.

His marine outfit was made up of Ivy leaguers like himself and the book is a distillation of his exploits. He takes the reader through the island fighting on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, New Guinea, the Philipines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The scenes in which he describes the fighting are absolutely gripping, This is easily as good as any war novel I've ever read if only for the descriptions of the combat. His description of the apparition in the foxhole with him in the Philipines is some of the best writing I've ever read. True, I'm not a literature buff, but this man can really write. It's too bad that more people aren't aware of it today.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book
Not the typical WW2 memoir. Comes at things a little sideways, but the writing is suberb. One of the finest memoirs I have ever read, and I've read a ton of them. To have a writer of Manchester's caliber relate his personal experiences is truly unique. Highly recommended. And a great overview of the Pacific Theatre.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Glimpse Into Hell
This memoir of fighting in the Pacific Theater was as personal and compelling as I have ever read. Manchester masterfully uses feel, touch, smell, sight, and sound, to capture the imagery of war-making in the Pacific. He combines a superb overview of the history with the very personal touches of his own experiences, so that the reader gets both historical perspective and a powerful sensual effect. He discusses candidly issues of war that are seldom talked about in straight historical discussion. He writes this memoir after returning to the islands in 1978, attempting to restore something lost after fighting there. When finished, you get the feeling you've made the journey with him, experienced something of his pain, and found something also.

5-0 out of 5 stars great read, hope you're up on your literature
This is an excellent book, though, if you're like me and lack an advanced education, many of the literary and foreign language references are baffling. Not so bad that you can't get the jist of what the author means, but a challenge nonetheless. If you like first person oral histories, as I do, you'll love this book. I am happy to have it as an addition to my Pacific War collection. ... Read more


191. Mao : A Life
by Philip Short
list price: $25.00
our price: $17.00
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Asin: 0805066381
Catlog: Book (2001-02-01)
Publisher: Owl Books
Sales Rank: 98900
Average Customer Review: 3.95 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

When the Nationalists routed a ragtag Red Army on the Xiang River during the Long March, an earthy Chinese peasant with a brilliant mind moved to a position of power. Eight years after his military success, Mao Tse-tung had won out over more sophisticated rivals to become party chairman, his title for life. Isolated by his eminence, he lived like a feudal emperor for much of his reign after blood purge and agricultural failures took more lives than those killed by either Stalin or Hitler. His virtual quarantine resulted in an ideological/political divide and a devastating reign of terror that became known as the Cultural Revolution. One cannot understand today's China without first understanding Mao, and Philip Short's masterly assessment -- informed by a wealth of new sources -- allows the reader to understand this colossal figure whose shadow will dominate the twenty-first century.
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Reviews (19)

4-0 out of 5 stars Informative and well-written
I have always been put off by Chinses history and never found it appealing in comparison with other history. But this book is a good introduction to Chinese history from 1920 to 1976, and subsequent thereto. I thought the early parts kind of a chore to read, but was very glad I kept on and the coverage for the years since 1945 was infomative and full of interest. The author spends no time considering views of Mao from outside China (except from Russia), and such I thought would have been of interest. For instance, the people who are considered so carefully in Barbara Tuchman's Stilwell and the American Experience in China (read by me with considerable appreciation in September of 1972) figure not at all in this account. What a blessing Mao's death was for China: as great as Stalin's was for Russia and maybe as great as Hitler's was for the world. The book lacks footnotes, tho there are source notes for the pages. I was dismayed to see no bibliography: I presume the author figured one could deduce such from the source notes, but I sure would have liked to see a bibliography. There are two maps, but neither shows the town where Mao was born. I think maps in a book should show every city or town mentioned in the book, if possible. But these are minor complaints and I recommend the book to those who want to read a well-written and carefully researched life of a major figure of the 20th century.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Book About Mao!
Two brand new biographies of Mao Zedong came out this year at the same time. One is by the very famous historian of China, Johnathan Spence and the other, this one, by Philip Short. Though I had heard of Spence and not of Short, I picked this one up because Spence's book was over 25$ and only about 100 pages, Shorts book is 600 pages of biography and another 100 pages of notes, pictures, cast of characters, and index. For the money, I figured this book was a better buy!

The book was excellent. The real strenght of this book was the great use of primary sources and the great job the author did on Mao's early life and the history of China from the fall of the Qing Dynasty to the founding of the People's Republic in 1949.

The only faults I had with the book were the post-1949 years with the exception of the chapters on the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. The author just did not do as good a job of the post-1949 Mao and China. However, the pre-1949 stuff was great.

The book was well written and easy to read despite the size of the book. I enjoyed reading the book and learned a lot and felt it was time well spent. HOwever, again I enjoyed the first 400 pages much more than the last 200 pages.

The author is fair showing both Mao's brilliance and ruthlessness. Having recently read A Great Wall: Six Presidents and China which looked at China from Nixon to the Present, and this book I feel am I pretty up to date on recent scholarship.

If you like Chinese history and have the time, this book is very good.

4-0 out of 5 stars Determination, stubborness, fate...
Philip Short's 'Mao: A Life' is an amazingly researched biography. Short enlightens the reader on a large portion of Chinese history. Great detail is given to the most important periods of Chairman Mao's life. The revolution of the Red Army through the awful mistakes made as a leader of the most populous nation ever were written in a way to keep you interested.

I recommend this title for those interested in: Chinese history, Socialism, Soviet history, Mao as a commander and leader, and those that are infatuated with history in general.

4-0 out of 5 stars Unbalanced but realistic, informative, and insightful
Philip Short draws a realistic picture of Mao Zedong; he strips away much mystery surrounding Mao and leaves a simple austere portrait of a complex man. Today, Mao tends to be either lionized or demonized but Short avoids sensationalism and sticks to presenting us with information, insights, and informed opinion.

The chapters on Mao's childhood and youth are particularly interesting. Short shows us how a well-to-do peasant with one or two farm hands lived at the end of the 19th century, and how an eldest son (Mao) was expected to behave. He shows us what a large Chinese town looked like at the turn of the 19th/20th century and how a young man would have felt seeing it for the first time. Short forces us to remember the obvious: at 14 years old, Mao was a boy, albeit a bright one.

A good example of the insights Short gives us can be found in his treatment of Mao's schooling. Mao was taught to read, write, and think in a traditional Confucian village school. The loud and mindless rote repetition methods worked, but they impress neither the author nor the reader. The insight we get from Short's presentation is that youths who in the 1960s memorized Mao's Little Red Book were following the same pedagogy, substituting Mao for Confucius, and youth groups for village schools.

As an example of realism, Short deflates some of the sex scandals around Mao. Yes, Mao enjoyed the company of young women, but these were enthusiastic communist girls, more like rock groupies than members of an imperial harem.

Where the book loses its balance is that not enough is made of Mao's real failures, both as a leader and as a human being. Short faces these failures square on, but late and he does not give them nearly enough emphasis. Short's evaluation of Mao as being not as bad as Hitler or Stalin fails to convince us, perhaps because the effect Mao had on China was as bad as Stalin's on Russia: millions of dead and a crippled economy that could not sustain the population.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Solid Biography Of One Of The Greatest Men Of Our Time
I would say that this is probobly the best biography of comrade Mao currently in print.It is very easy to read,despite its length.However,I would say that after 1949,the author loses much of his objectivity.He did not focous on all the great things that Mao did for China.He told many lies in the last few hundred pages.For a better understanding of Mao,I would suggest checking out the Revolutionary Communist Party. ... Read more


192. But Not for the Fuehrer
by Helmut Jung
list price: $21.95
our price: $21.95
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Asin: 1414034458
Catlog: Book (2004-01-01)
Publisher: 1stBooks Library
Sales Rank: 613382
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome military story!
This book is a very easy and fast read. There are no complicated military jargon, so anyone (not just military veterans) can read this. Mr. Jung's story is absolutely amazing and I am surprised at how much he endured and then lived to tell about it. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes reading autobiographies and/or military stories. ... Read more


193. To Fly Again
by Gracia Burnham, Dean Merrill
list price: $19.99
our price: $13.59
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Asin: 1414301235
Catlog: Book (2005-04-30)
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Sales Rank: 27993
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Book Description

The world learned the horrendous details of Martin and Gracia Burnham's yearlong captivity in Gracia's best-selling, Gold Medallion Award-winning book, In the Presence of My Enemies. In this follow-up, Gracia reflects on the lessons and spiritual truths she learned in the jungle and how they apply to anyone's life. Twenty-one brief, theme-based chapters squarely address the challenges each of us face as we pass through difficult times to take to the skies again. This book offers no pat answers or easy solutions, just the battle-tested wisdom of a woman who lived her greatest nightmare and came through it more convinced of God's grace than ever before. ... Read more


194. Baruch: My Own Story
by Bernard Baruch
list price: $41.95
our price: $28.53
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Asin: 156849095X
Catlog: Book (1993-02-01)
Publisher: Buccaneer Books Inc
Sales Rank: 22016
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Review on Bernard Baruch
This book was wonderful and informative. It was an autobiography on one of America's most successful political advisers and Wall Street Stockbrokers. Not only did Baruch share many life experiences, he also gave many words of wisdom that were very inspirational. I felt like I got to know Bernard Baruch and I now have a huge respect for the man he was. He truly cared about the United States and all of the people in it. He made his work personal. On page 85 he states that, "Above all else...the stock market is people (that)...pit their conflicting judgments, their hopes and fears, strengths and weaknesses, greeds and ideals." Baruch was extremely wealthy as a stock broker, yet he knew life was more than money earned. "....I realized how much there was could not be bought for money (178)" He was also very generous with the money he made. His mother told him to "do something for the Negro (289)", which he did. He donated money to help build a hospital but required that the hospital in South Carolina leave beds reserved for Negros. He also contributed money for college scholarships solely to African Americans. Overall this book showed me what a great man he was. It also gave many stories about his adventures has a stock broker and a political adviser under Woodrow Wilso and Franklin Roosevelt. Baruch found his passion in politics and economics. "A skilled operator in any field acquires an almost instinctive 'feel' which enables him to sense many things even without being able to explain them. (260)" I think Baruch had that "feel" and that is why what he did with his life was so rewarding.

5-0 out of 5 stars Stand the test of time. Excellent!
Though legislation and time changes, human minds and rules of the game dont. In this book, the great "operator" of the first half of the twentieth century (I really think only Jesse Livermore and Bernard Baruch deserve the honor) talked of his political views, family relationship, and most importantly to trader readers like me, a lot about his "operation". Dont wanna be so hard sell here. However, if you like Reminiscences of a stock operator, you shouldnt miss this. In fact, there are many commonalities between the two, like their strong avoidance of tips and influence of "insiders", searching and acting on facts and facts only, mass psychology as the dominant market driver, demand and supply as the ultimate axiom, extravagant hopes and talk of a "New Era" in advance of financial panics, the seeming almightiness of Morgan, the formation of a pool by a speculative crowd is a sign of weakness, etc etc.

I am quite surprised to have found so few reviews here about this book relative to ROSO. Anyway, dont miss this.

p.s. I would like to quote some paragraphs from the book for your reference.

1. Page 105: Speculator comes from Latin speculari, which means to spy out and observe.... To be successful ....in all human affairs including the making of peace and war, three things are necessary. First, one must get the facts of a situation or problem. Second, one must form a judgement as to what those facts portend. Third, one must act in time before it is too late.

2. Page 183: ...when money came into the hands of people too easily. Such money did not seem real. When men tossed around such huge sums in bets....they had lost all sense of value and of economics. No market in the hands of such people could be a stable or genuine one.....behind their bantering I sensed a feeling of insecurity, as if they were talking strong to cover up their own weaknesses.

3. Page 184: To enjoy the advantages of a free market one must have both buyers and sellers, both bulls and bears. A market without bears would be like a nation without a free press. There would be no one to criticise and restrain the false optimism that always leads to disaster.

4. Page 248: The true speculator is one who observes teh future and acts before it occurs. Like a surgeon he must be able to search through a mass of complex and contradictory details to the significant facts. Then still like the surgeon, he must be able to operate coldly, clearly and skillfully on the basis of the facts before him. What makes this tasks so difficult is that in the stock market the facts of any situation come to us through a curtain of human emotions....how to disentangle the cold, hard economic facts from the rather warm feelings of the people dealing with these facts.

5. Page 318: This test of our ability to govern ourselves is really threefold. First, it is a test of values, of what things we will give up in order to make other things secure. Second, it is a test of our reasoning powers, of whether we have the wit to think our problems through to an effective solution. Third, it is a test of self discipline, of our ability to stand by our values and see our policies through, whatever the personal cost.

5-0 out of 5 stars A GREAT TALE OF THE "AMERICAN DREAM" COME TRUE
For someone who has made a valuable contribution to American finance and poitics, there is no better person to speak about Baruch than Baruch himself! He has given a very comprehensive record of his life starting from his parents' history to his childhood days, right on to attending college and getting married then onto his career in Wall Street and Government. Baruch mentioned that many people wanted him to write about himself, supposedly that they might find "some short cut, some sure-fire formula for becoming rich." He assures everyone that Wall Street must be treated like any other profession where hard work, patience and cost pays off, not tips and rumors!

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
A great account of the life of one of the world's most famous investment speculators. Interesting perspective on some of Baruch's contemporaries, notably J.P. Morgan. A reader can also get a glimpse of some of the activities that inspired the insider trading laws that form the foundation for modern securities industry regulation. A very worthwhile book for those interested in finance, investing and history.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've ever read.
This is a marvelous book, which restores your faith in the financial world. Bernard Baruch acted throughout his career on his fathers advice: let unswerving integrity be your guidline, and built two highly succesful careers. An inspiration to us all. ... Read more


195. Man of the Century: The Life and Times of Pope John Paul II
by Jonathan Kwitny
list price: $30.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805026886
Catlog: Book (1997-09-01)
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Sales Rank: 532792
Average Customer Review: 4.14 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Pope John Paul II hasn't always been the most popular man in the world--even many Catholics have disregarded his opinions on crucial matters of morality. Award-winning investigative reporter Jonathan Kwitny draws a detailed portrait of the Pope that reveals a man of momentous significance, warts and all.

Through unrelenting research, Kwitny shows how John Paul's dynamic pastoralism and action-centered philosophy influenced and guided the intellectuals and workers in Eastern Europe who eventually dismantled the Iron Curtain. It was for one of John Paul's books that the underground presses in Poland began functioning. Czech intellectuals risked their lives to hear his ideas, and because they heeded his advice, Solidarity's workers held out against the Communists. Pulling the pieces all together, Kwitny makes a strong case for John Paul truly being the man of the century. He quotes Gorbachev, saying, "Everything that happened in Eastern Europe during these past few years would have been impossible without the pope."

When light breaks through the prism of this pope, no simple image appears; so that we can make up our own minds, Kwitny gives us the full spectrum. ... Read more

Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars Multi-dimensional view of an astounding man
Kwitny has written an absorbing biography that is neither hyperventilatingly in awe nor blindly critical of Karol Wojty³a and his pontificate. It's a very human picture we get of an impressive man who has his own blindness (though "shortsightedness" would be a better description).

One thing that stands out is Wojty³a's desire for peace that sometimes leads to interesting contradictions. For example, his interfaith meetings and his desire to heal both the Orthodox/Catholic and the Anglican/Catholic rifts meet real trouble when people realize the Catholic church's stated goal is to convert everyone to Catholicism - "And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation" (Mark 16.15).

It also becomes clear that Wojty³a is an intellectual and sometimes has problems getting his ideas across so that simpletons (read: Reagan and Bush) can understand what he's driving at (i.e., that he's only advocating some portions of capitalism and not the brutal, unchecked Republican capitalism).

Lastly, as the book progresses it becomes increasingly obvious that Wojty³a is one of the rare types that, instead of becoming more and more liberal and tolerant as he grows older, becomes more and more stodgy and conservative.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Classic Study of a Great Man
Pope John Paul caught the world's attention with his work to end communism in Central Europe. I am not a Catholic, but I have the utmost regard for what this man has accomplished. The title of this book gives away the author's regard for him also. The Americans give credit for the fall of communism to former Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev, especially in the video series 'Biography of the Millennium' done by A&E, but without the Pope's knowledge of the Central Europeans it would have just been a dream of theirs. I read this book with a great deal of relief that it had been published during the Pope's lifetime. He would probably regard the historical oversight of his work with less frustration than many of his supporters.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Flawed, Yet Good Read
This is, for anybody Catholic or non-Catholic who is interested in the Pope, a good read. But the book is flawed by a full jar of political intrigue. I would buy it, but for the story of the man, not the story of the CIA files on him.

5-0 out of 5 stars A good read, with much food for thought!
This book, which uses the subject's life as a framework for reviewing events and political philosophies leading up to the millenium, has much to recommend it to the general reader..... One need not be intimidated by its size and scope; it's extremely readable and consistently fascinating. As a non-Catholic, I was surprised to learn how very complex and interesting this man Wojtyla is, and, like the movie "Titanic", the inside story of Poland's liberation is exciting, even though one pretty much already knows how it's going to turn out!.... I was also intrigued by the material in the book detailing the origins of the Pope's unpopular views on women and sex, and by the author's discussion of methods used by John Paul II in his struggle against Soviet tyranny as contrasted to those employed by our own government..... While I don't know whether I believe Kwitny's conclusions about the irresistible force of high moral courage -- will the Pope's methods work for the Dalai Lama against the Red Chinese without Star Wars waiting in the wings?? -- I certainly want to believe them, and the evidence marshalled in Man of the Century is both convincing and inspiring.

4-0 out of 5 stars A journalist helps set the record straight about the pope.
I first got interested in reading Man of the Century when I heard a National Public Radio interview featuring the author and Fr. Richard McBrien. The question arose about who has teaching authority in the Church. Kwitny cited Vatican II documents which affirm that supreme jurisdiction regarding faith and morals belongs to the pope. Rather than offer an opposing text, McBrien appealed to authority--his own. "I have been teaching theology for thirty-five years..." He went on to characterize Kwitny's statement as "fundamentalism." Of course, it would not have done Kwitny any good to make a further appeal to the actual texts since that is exactly what you expect fundamentalists to do. (They can't stand ambiguity so they look for security in black and white answers--in case you haven't heard.)

Later in the NPR interview Ray Suarez asked about the upcoming papal trip to Cuba. Kwitny attempted to place it in context of the pope's position vis-a-vis both communism and capitalism. McBrien said he would be looking at something else: what it showed about the state of the pontiff's health. Kwitny pointed out the Holy Father had just finished a grueling visit to France for World Youth Day and had another taxing trip scheduled for Brasil in the fall.

These exchanges made me think that Kwitny might have a good ability to "set the record straight." I was not disappointed. For example on the question of whether pope is going against Vatican II, he makes it clear he is not. He describes his involvement in the council as a young bishop and the consistency of his teaching with it. It is sometimes said the Holy Father has backed away from the Vatican II teaching on "collegiality." Kwitny shows in effect there was no particular teaching to back away from--if it is understood as a kind of primus inter pares (first among equals) sharing of authority. But collegiality in the sense of talking to a broad range of people before making a decision was something he practiced as bishop of Krakow. And as pope he was willing to take counsel and turn from his first impulse--for example, on the question of recognizing Israel.

On a myriad of other questions this is a book which can help to set the record straight: the pope's relationship to "Liberation Theology," his supposed bias against women, his disciplining of theological dissenters, etc. The real story is both more complex and more fascinating than the standard assumptions. One little example: the pope's remark about "husbands not lusting even after their own wives" is put into context and shown to have a meaning well beyond the jokes. A bigger example: what the actual procedure was in calling Fr. Hans Kung (and other dissenting theologians) to some accountability. And a question of justice relating not to John Paul II, but his predecessor. David Yallop wrote a book called In God's Name arguing that Pope John Paul I had been assassinated and accusing six people of having the motive and means to have done it. The book was a sensational best seller. Kwitny exposes some of its shabby research, citing a much more reliable account Thief in the Night by John Cornwell.

But the biggest question on which the author hopes to set matters straight is the pope's responsibility for the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. He rather effectively demolishes the view there was a conspiracy between the Vatican and the Reagan administration which brought totalitarianism down. Instead he advances the position that beginning in the late forties, Fr. Karol Wojtyla was laying the intellectual groundwork for its eventual fall. It was then he began inspiring young Polish leaders with a view of the supreme dignity of each human person. When he became bishop in 1958, he played key role in organizing an effective national church. Twenty years later, at the age of 58, he became pope. Kwitny argues that he steered a policy between the Ostpolitik of Pope Paul VI and rigidity of President Reagan. Moreover it was John Paul II who carried the day. The bulk of the book is dedicated to showing that his approach worked. The downfall of communism was not brought about by military or even ultimately economic considerations--but because of ideas and spirituality. The thesis makes considerable sense to me, but then I am convinced that what finally concerns man is not economics, but meaning.

Kwitny gives tantalizing glimpses into the pope's own spirituality. On one level it is highly intellectual--and he seems to have an almost super-human personal discipline. But on another level his religiosity seems embarassingly external. As a boy he would kneel before statues to pray. As an adult he sometimes prostrated himself in a chapel. He was attracted to the controversial mystic, Padre Pio. While he was studying in Rome, he went to San Giovanni Rotondo and spent hours waiting in line to go to confession to him--and was evidently told "you will attain the highest position in the church." He thought the prophecy was fulfilled when he was made cardinal of Krakow. He not only sought out Padre Pio for confession, but for a miraculous healing. When a doctor friend of his fell sick with a terminal illness, bishop Wojtyla sent a letter to Padre Pio asking for his prayers. She recovered and attributes her healing to the prayers of the mystic.

What impressed me most in Man of the Century was his pastoral zeal. His indefatigability as pope is well known, but the level of his commitment shined through most clearly in his early assignments--one to a small country parish, the other to the university. Neither were ones he sought or felt himself particularly suited for, but he threw himself into them with an incredible devotion. I have to say I was simply amazed by what Kwitny recounts of his relationship as a priest to university students. The intimacy they acheived through Masses, confessions, outings, discussions was marvelous. And during it all, the young priest was thinking and putting into writing a philosphy and spirituality which would reshape his country and the eventually the entire world.

Man of the Century is worth reading. It is not the definitive work on Pope John Paul II (I am personally waiting for George Weigel's promised biography). And by way of contrast he makes some strong criticisms of Pope Pius XI and Pius XII. Some of them seem undeserved. And hindsight is always 20/20. (We can all imagine how we would have responded to Nazism if we lived back in the 30's, but we are less sure exactly how to respond for example to abortion in our own day.) Nor does Pope John Paul II escape criticism. I am fully prepared to accept that he has his blind spots and has made his blunders--for example in some financial matters. Evangelical poverty seemed to have come almost "naturally" to him, but along with it a casualness about financial matters in general. Still this was another area where cirmcunstances forced the pope to learn and he did so rather quickly.

Of particular interest to Catholics from Seattle are the pages Kwitney devotes to the "Hunthausen affair." Once again the overall context the author provides can help set the record straight. My own sense is that we are not quite ready for that. The investigation was taken as a personal attack, especially by us priests, and we reacted with predictable defensiveness. The emotions are probably still to raw to take a more serious look at what was involved. Nevertheless, for those willing to do so Man of the Century can help. It brings matters together in a way I have not yet seen. Hardly a definitive treatment, it does however state the issues succintly and separate out what does not really pertain.

This is scarcely a book for those who, like the priest referred to initially, have pre-judged the present pope. "Conservatives" may like it even less than "liberals" but it will tend to help set the record straight. ... Read more


196. A Lady, First: My Life in the Kennedy White House and the American Embassies of Paris and Rome
by Letitia Baldrige
list price: $15.00
our price: $15.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142001597
Catlog: Book (2002-10-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 69348
Average Customer Review: 3.73 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Letitia Baldrige is the woman best known as Jackie Kennedy's social secretary during the White House years. But in this fascinating memoir Baldrige reveals a career sparkling with a host of other achievements: embassy work in an era when women rarely were given jobs overseas, becoming the first female executive at Tiffany & Co., and founding one of the first companies run by a female CEO. In her amazing life story Baldrige shares her perspective as a White House insider: the hilarity of young Jackie's antics on foreign diplomatic visits, the terror of the Cuban missile crisis, and the heartbreak of President Kennedy's funeral. Stylish, chic and always polite, Baldrige reveals the determination that has made her a success and brought her the admiration of women around the world. ... Read more

Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Wind Beneath Their Wings
I have always been a fan of Miss Baldrige, and I have several of her books, but I really enjoyed this one. I feel it gives a more personal glimpse into the HOW behind the WOW. She really was (is) the wind beneath the wings of her glamorous employers, Evangeline Bruce, Clare Boothe Luce, Jacqueline Kennedy. Creative mind behind the clever Tiffany campaigns, and later of her own company Letitia Baldrige Enterprises.

I particularly enjoyed her telling of early life, and then of life on her own. I have always found her quite as interesting as her illustrious employers, and delight to catch her on television.

I think her chouce of "A lady, First:" says it all.
She is indeed a lady, and a very interesting one.

I recommend this book heartily.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Interesting and Amazing Woman
Tish Baldridge has led an interesting and amazing life. She wasn't blessed with great wealth or beauty yet she managed to live and work on the upper echelons of American political and social society in the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, and onward.
Baldridge takes you through her beginnings in the midwest, her education at Miss Porter's and Vassar as one of the less financially advantaged students, her life in Paris and Rome working for such trend setters as Clare Booth Luce, her days at Tiffany, her years in the White House with Jackie Kennedy, and her life after.

Here's what is great about this book and her story: her life didn't begin and it didn't end with her association with Jackie Kennedy. Camelot fans will get great glimpses into those years from her vantage point. But there is a lot more to this book...

I would highly recommend this book to women who love biographies on the Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn set. I also would recommend this book to women who enjoy the story of a self-made woman and a survivor and anyone interested in the social history of this era. I would not recommend this book to most men and I would caution all readers to note that this is a book filled with details of food, flowers, gowns, and jewels and not policy making or congressional bills. You learn about the parties that Jackie Kennedy went to in the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis not about the policy nuances behind the crisis.

I gave this book as a present to several female friends and they loved it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Class from the past!
Oh! how I wish I had a life like Tish Baldridge's! She is a gutsy and classy lady and I admire her for that. I loved to read that book because it goes to show that dreams come true when we put the energy and efforts for them to materialize.

5-0 out of 5 stars Classy!
I just couldn't put this book down! Mrs. Baldridge has led a wonderful and exciting life.

4-0 out of 5 stars Strong women with great manners are always in style ...
I thoroughly enjoyed this book as my first glimpse into the life of Letitia Baldridge ... I was consistently intrigued as to what intimate political and social disclosure the next page would bring, all the while appreciating her honest and often self-deprecating narrative. She has in fact led an extraordinary life which she often acknowledged in reflection of each experience, always seemingly thankful for the opportunity to have played small, yet significant roles in our nation's history. She also represented the classic female struggle more commonly found for today's woman ... unafraid to admit her conventional desire for an all-American red-blooded husband, while also refusing to compromise all of her intelligence, skill and experience by stopping anywhere short of being an accomplished business executive, saleswoman, philanthropist and lecturer.

Anyone who has enjoyed biographies from other great woman of the last century (i.e. Eleanor Roosevelt, Katherine Graham) would definitely enjoy this one as well ... ... Read more


197. Jackson & Lee: Legends In Gray : The Paintings of Mort Kunstler
by Mort Kunstler, James I. Robertson
list price: $34.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1558533338
Catlog: Book (1995-09-01)
Publisher: Rutledge Hill Press
Sales Rank: 300492
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars THE EYES HAVE IT ! !
I have read and "studied" several of Mr.Kunstler's books and enjoyed them all.I particularly enjoy the artists comments as to why he does some of the things the way he does.This book is different in that his art is not accompanied by his explanations but by another writer's text.This text is very good and really brings out the personalities of these great characters.As one who believes that it is important to understand the personalities of the people involved if one is to understand why things happened the way they did;this is very well done.
As to the title of my review;I find eyes fascinating.The first thing I look at in Mr.Kunstler's paintings is the eyes.Let me point out Confederate Sunset on pg.56 both Lee's and Jackson's eyes are very beady and staring resulting in them looking like figures in a wax museum;giving the painting a posed and unnatural feeling.Other examples are of Jackson on pages 38and 40.Note the difference in Jackson's eyes on page44.Another thing I like to study is how some paintings look very stiff,posed almost like a diorama in a museum,eg.The Return of Stuart on pg.126.Compare this to The Last Council on pg.102 which is so realistic. Am I alone in seeing this aspect of Mr.Kunstler's work?

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent combination of art and history!
Outstanding compilation of information, and the best images of primiere Civil War artist Mort Kunstler. A "must have" for all serious students of the American Civil War. ... Read more


198. JOURNEY INTO DARKNESS : Follow the FBI's Premier Investigative Profiler as He Penetrates the Minds and Motives of the Most Terrifying Serial Criminals
by John Douglas, Mark Olshaker
list price: $25.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0684833042
Catlog: Book (1997-02-20)
Publisher: Scribner
Sales Rank: 537760
Average Customer Review: 3.91 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Some authors are worth reading because of their area of expertise, even when their objectivity may be questionable. This is true of John Douglas, who follows up his Mindhunter with another assortment of his observations and opinions from his ex-job as the FBI's top expert on constructing behavioral profiles of criminals. This book contains several passages of interest: a detailed discussion of the modus operandi versus the "signature" of a murder, and how each relates to motive; thoughts on how the press and the public can be used to flush out a killer; a taxonomy of pedophiles, with a chapter on how to protect children from them; a detailed analysis of the savage sex-murder of a female Marine; a profile of the Nicole Simpson/Ron Goldman killer; and a report on how the courts are handling behavioral testimony. Always biased, often egotistical, but uniquely experienced--that's Douglas. ... Read more

Reviews (57)

5-0 out of 5 stars A read that scared the daylights out of me!
Though this book still has John Douglas's usual pat on his own back all through it, it's truly a terrifying read.

The only unfortunate part of the book is Douglas's rehash of the Simpson case (yawn), and his showing us how he'd profile the killer is a big bore.....and it's in here because John Douglas likes to talk about how good he is (and I'm sure he is....but the man has an ego problem).

Aside from that profile, the reading is so scary that I couldn't sleep, and as far as true crime books, that rarely happens to me.

It's an excellent read, and gives some worthy "tips" as far as your own self-preservation, and the safety of your children.

In spite of Douglas himself, I enjoyed this book almost too much. I was afraid to go in front of my windows for days!

Absolutely worth buying and reading...

4-0 out of 5 stars Examining the mind of a killer
"Journey into Darkness" gives a harrowing portrait of the brutality of murder. The book includes several stories of actual criminal cases involving serial killers, rapists, pedophiles, etc. With his years of experience in the FBI, Douglas has developed the ability to predict the profile of a killer with an excellent degree of accuracy. He is straightforward and honest about his opinions on crime and our system of justice. This is good reading material, but be forewarned: with its graphic explanations and disturbing nature, this book is not intended for the weak of heart.

5-0 out of 5 stars A real Journey into Darkness
I have been an avid true crime reader for several years although this is the first book that I have read by John E. Douglas. This book makes you see the darkness that a lot of people seem to have inside and what they are prepared to do to realise their fantasies whatever the cost. I was not able to put down this book even though it filled me with anxiety and sadness because the title is true - he really does take you on a journey into Darkness, although John Douglases telling of these brutal cases is masterly. He explains even the most complicated of theories in a way that is understandable to all. After reading this book I have already ordered his other books and can't wait for them to be delivered. Gripping stuff!!!

3-0 out of 5 stars Getting Redundant
If you've already read Mindhunter, you needn't bother with Journey. It is essentially the same stuff, with just enough words switched around to justify a new title. If you haven't read either Mindhunter or Journey, flip a coin.

4-0 out of 5 stars Detailed analysis of killer's minds
This book is very precise and detailed but a bit scattered at times. Very good psychological analysis and details without getting too graphic or drawn out. ... Read more


199. Lenin: A Biography
by Robert Service
list price: $38.95
our price: $38.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0674003306
Catlog: Book (2000-10-06)
Publisher: Harvard Univ Pr
Sales Rank: 459250
Average Customer Review: 4.65 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Lenin: His politics still reverberate around the world even after the end of the USSR. His name elicits revulsion and reverence. And yet Lenin the man remains largely a mystery. This biography shows us Lenin as we have never seen him, in his full complexity as revolutionary, political leader, thinker, and private person. Born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov in 1870, the son of a schools inspector and a doctor's daughter, Lenin was to become the greatest single force in the Soviet revolution-and perhaps the most influential politician of the twentieth century. Drawing on sources only recently discovered, Robert Service explores the social, cultural, and political catalysts for Lenin's explosion into global prominence. His book gives us the vast panorama of Russia in that awesome vortex of change from tsarism's collapse to the establishment of the communist one-party state. Through the prism of Lenin's career Service focuses on dictatorship, the Marxist revolutionary dream, civil war, and interwar European politics. And we are shown how Lenin, despite the hardships he inflicted, was widely mourned at his death in 1924. Service's Lenin is a political colossus but also a believable human being. This biography stresses the importance of his supportive family and of its ethnic and cultural background. The author examines his education, upbringing, and the troubles of his early life to explain the emergence of a rebel whose devotion to destruction proved greater than his love for the "proletariat" he supposedly served. We see how his intellectual preoccupations and inner rage underwent volatile interaction and propelled his career from young Marxist activist to founder of the communist party and the Soviet state-and how he bequeathed to Russia a legacy of political oppression and social intimidation that has yet to be expunged. ... Read more

Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars Biography of the "bookish fanatic" who led a revolution
Service is a British historian of Soviet Russian history who has written this quite good narrative of the life of Lenin. While not definitive, it is nevertheless the best synthesis of the political and personal life of Lenin

One of the better reasons to read Service is that while he has no qualms about outlining the viciousness and brutality of Lenin and the Bolsheviks, he is also not a hard line ideologue. He is a historian and he takes history as he finds it. There is none of the strident cold-war dogmatism of Conquest or the russophobia of Pipes that often make their writings come uncomfortably close to political diatribes rather than analytical histories.

Service walks the fine line between personal and political biography fairly well. He also has the added bonus of being a good narrative historian which makes this an immensily readable book.

Lenin's early life is covered in good detail. What Service does well is to show how, after brother Alexander's excecution, the Ulyanovs were marginalized by the very class of society they had aspired to, and how this effected both Lenin and his sisters. Service goes on to show the interaction between Lenin and his female relatives and how this carried on throughout his life.

Being a total biography- personal and political- the political side gets a bit of a short shrift at times. Lenin as shown as the "bookish fanatic" and hypocondriact who is all revolution all the time with little time to spare in life for other diversions.

His single-mindedness is such that he dictates executions (never naming individuals just groups) to achieve his ends. What Service show best is how his temperament in childhood carried on to his political life- never brooking disagreement- throwing tantrums and denounciations- and rarely compromising.

And yet Lenin is at heart, a middle class bourgeois in his social manners. His personal relationships with women are not especially notorious save for a life-long relationship with Inessa Armand who may or may not have been his mistress.

Personal without being gossipy and showing Lenin's idiocincracies without being psychoanalytical, Service handles his biography well. All in all this is a highly readable, not perfect, but enjoyable biography of the life of one of the century's most notorious figures.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lenin: A Biography
Service (history, St. Anthony's College, Oxford) endeavors to rehabilitate Lenin, whose fame in his own homeland since the collapse of the USSR has been badly bruised. Not only are there studies that portray Lenin as the architect of 20th-century violence, he is considered a failed state builder whose actions ultimately led to the 1991 debacle. On a conceptual level, the author will need to compete with the works of Martin Malia, Alexander Solzhenitsin, and Dmitri Volkoganov. Although Service contends that in Soviet hagiography Lenin's biographies were taboo, the author in some parts skirts the danger of falling into an overglorified Sovietlike portrait of the first Bolshevik. This is a full political biography that covers Lenin's life from birth in Simbirsk to the end at Gorki. Regardless of the pro-Leninist tilt, this is a good read, offering a great deal about a life that since the beginning of the USSR has been abused by partisans of both sides. Surprisingly there is no reference to Stefan Possony's biography (Lenin: The Compulsive Revolutionary, CH, Jul'64.) Well-footnoted and illustrated and containing a reasonably good bibliography and sufficient index, this book is recommended for all public and college libraries.

4-0 out of 5 stars Lenin the man - superb; Lenin the Russian - needs work.
This biography is incredibly thorough, and is entirely fixated on Lenin. In fact, that would be my one complaint. The book was so thoroughly focused on Lenin (and I can appreciate how silly this must sound as the book was a biography of Lenin), that it missed properly characterizing what was going on in Russia. In certain sections the book did discuss what was taking place in Russia, but usually only within the very limited scope of how Lenin was responding to the problem. I felt the narrative on Lenin would have benefited from an expanded discussion of what was going on socially within Russia as Lenin came to power. This weakness of the book is perhaps exacerbated by the fact (something I did not know) that Lenin lived for 18 years outside of Russia as an adult man. As his ideology was developing he was fully outside of Russian culture.

Lenin was an average ideologue, but he was an above-average politician. His works on political philosophy, as Service says, were barely above the standard of a college student. They were not insightful and were not worthy of prominent distinction. Lenin was a consummate politician who did believe in the essential goals of socialism.

I believe he would have been disgusted at what Stalin did with the gulag system; however, Lenin was a pragmatist. He did not allow Stalin to rise to power on accident. Did he see Stalin as a balance against Trotski who Lenin may have feared would be more willing to compromise? The life of Lenin illustrates the core problem of socialism: it has never been embraced by people who did not prove to be brutally totalitarian and completely unwilling to allow individuality.

5-0 out of 5 stars Well written and informative
This is a well presented account. It reads very well, I finished this rather long book pretty fast. It goes over all the aspects of Lenin's life, as well as putting them in a good historical context. This is a good book to have, and a good read for anyone interested in Lenin, or Russian history. Some readers might be left wishing more a little more substance, but for the length of the book and the readability of it, it is a great account.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great writer, great book
This book reads like a good novel as the author is a decent storyteller. He also has a decent sense of humour as well. The story is a fascinating one of fascinating times and of a really ruthless man who led it all: Lenin.

Some people have said that it was solely political; there is no doubt that you will walk away from this book knowing more about the kind of theoretical aspects of Marxism that were prevalent in his times that he was involved in, however, I think that the author does his best to portray him as a man as well. ... Read more


200. Alice: Princess Andrew of Greece
by Hugo Vickers
list price: $17.95
our price: $12.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312302398
Catlog: Book (2003-06-16)
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Sales Rank: 12420
Average Customer Review: 3.94 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

“In 1953, at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Alice was dressed from head to foot in a long gray dress and a gray cloak, and a nun’s veil.Amidst all the jewels, and velvet and coronets, and the fine uniforms, she exuded an unworldly simplicity.Seated with the royal family, she was a part of them, yet somehow distanced from them.Inasmuch as she is remembered at all today, it is as this shadowy figure in gray nun’s clothes...”

Princess Alice, mother of Prince Phillip, was something of a mystery figure even within her own family.She was born deaf, at Windsor Castle, in the presence of her grandmother, Queen Victoria, and brought up in England, Darmstadt, and Malta.

In 1903 she married Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, and from then on her life was overshadowed by wars, revolutions, and enforced periods of exile.By the time she was thirty-five, virtually every point of stability was overthrown.Though the British royal family remained in the ascendant, her German family ceased to be ruling princes, her two aunts who had married Russian royalty had come to savage ends, and soon afterwards Alice's own husband was nearly executed as a political scapegoat.

The middle years of her life, which should have followed a conventional and fulfilling path, did the opposite.She suffered from a serious religious crisis and at the age of forty-five was removed from her family and placed in a sanitarium in Switzerland, where she was pronounced a paranoid schizophrenic.As her stay in the clinic became prolonged, there was a time where it seemed she might never walk free again.How she achieved her recovery is just one of the remarkable aspects of her story.
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Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Little Known but Admirable Princess
I would imagine that most people outside the ranks of royalty enthusiasts have never heard of Princess Alice of Battenberg, Princess Andrew of Greece. If anything, they know her as Prince Philip's mother. And that's a pity, because Hugo Vicker's new biography reveals that Alice Battenberg was a truly remarkable individual.Alice was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, which must have seemed her only interesting point at the time of her birth. Her father was morganatic (half-royal) and her mother a princess from a minor German state. Her first years were spent among her multitudinous family (Vickers provides footnotes and trees to help sort everyone out), in the background and unnoticed. Alice's marriage was hardly a glamorous match. Prince Andrew was a younger son of the King of Greece and while charming, not all that interesting. Alice lived quietly until the 1920s, when a revolution in Greece and her own personal troubles caused her a certain notoriety. Vickers does a good job of covering Alice's physical and emotional ailments and is most successful in describing her growing religious faith. In this Alice is similar to her two Russian Aunts, Tsarina Alexandra and Grand Duchess Elizabeth. During World War II Alice protected a Jewish family at grave risk to herself, so that she was later declared Righteous Among the Gentiles by Israel.After World War II Alice continued to live in the background, now overshadowed by her only son, Prince Philip, who became the consort of Queen Elizabeth II. She remained a loving and wise part of the Royal Family however, as memories of her from her grandchildren and other relations attest.Alice, Princess Andrew of Greece deserves a place in the library of anyone interested in royalty as well as anyone who cares to read about honorable and decent people.

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent biography of Prince Philip's Mother.
This really is a most enjoyable read about a fascinating woman. Princess Alice was the Mother of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, husband of HM Queen Elizabeth II. If you want to understand the family Prince Philip grew up in I can think of no better book. Princess Alice was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and married Prince Andrew of Greece. Prince Philip is her only living child and her youngest. This book is a must for those interested in the Battenberg family of which Princess Alice was a member. Having read about Princess Alice's Mother, Princess Victoria of Hesse-Darmstadt (eldest sister of Tsarina Alexandra) who married Prince Louis of Battenberg (later Marquis and Marchioness of Milford-Haven) this book really is worthwhile but stands very well alone. There are loads of fantastic pictures. I highly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Praise for the author
I was hesitant to order this book as biographies tend to be dry but Hugo Vickers has written a most sensitive and honest account of HRH Alice's life. He had the cooperation of her son Prince Philip who graciously allowed family photos to be published. This is a very good book about a lady who overcame personal problems and, at the same time, always tried to improve the lives of those less fortunate. A remarkable lady.

1-0 out of 5 stars Poorly written and prejudiced
Vickers just can't write! He's fantastic in an archive and here has gathered an excellent array of facts from numerous sources. He has also done an excellent job of putting everything together. But he just isn't at all a good writer. His style is awkward and clumpsy - he doesn't know how to effectivel tell a story. How he got as far as he did is a modern wonder. AND the cause of the book, being in effect comissioned by Prince Philip, was also it's death, as it is extremely prejudiced in presenting only what the palace wants us to know and believe. There are numerous unpleasant and controversial facts about the historical characters in the book which are neatly omitted, and Alice is always sympathetically and gallantly focused. No even-handed critique or analysis here - just a nice Windsor-approved glowing tribute, and poorly written.

3-0 out of 5 stars Great story, so-so writing....
Princess Alice of Greece is one of the most fascinating of all the royals, but unfortunately, the least known. Perhaps the British Royal Family has kept the lid on this biography because of embarrassment? But Hugo Vickers tells this long repressed story in Alice: Princess Andrew of Greece.

Alice was born when royalty was at its zenith, and she was surrounded by some of the most important personalities of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Her great-grandmother was Queen Victoria. Her father was Louis of Battenberg, First Sea Lord and her brother was Dickie Mountbatten, Last Viceroy of India. Alice's sister Louise became Queen of Sweden, and her mother's sister was Tsarina Alexandra. Alice's youngest child and only son is Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and husband to Queen Elizabeth II.

Alice topped an idyllic childhood by marrying Prince Andrew of Greece. In a day when most marriages were arranged, this was a love match. There was no familial opposition as Alice was from a morganatic marriage and her groom the 4th son of King George I of Greece. Unfortunately, her married life was marred by sadness, heartbreak and tragedy. The Greek monarchy and the Greek government were as unstable as the weather. On numerous occasions, Alice had to flee Greece with her family for extended periods of time. She lived through two world wars where a good many of her relatives were on the German (enemy) side including her sons-in-law. Her father-in-law was assassinated by a disgruntled Greek, and dozens of Russian relatives, including aunt Tsarina Alexandra and her entire family, were murdered during the Russian Revolution. A plane crash in England in 1937 took the lives of one daughter, son-in-law, two grandchildren, and a Hessian aunt. Perhaps as a result of these many setbacks, Alice succumbed to schizophrenia and had to be institutionalized for a good many years. The story of Alice's subsequent recovery, her conversion to orthodoxy, her becoming a nun and establishing a religious order make for a fascinating saga.

Unfortunately, this book is not without some major flaws. First, Vickers writing style leaves a lot to be desired and his run-on sentences are a big distraction. One example can be found on page 77: "Presently the whole party moved to Buckingham Palace, attending a ball at the Russian Embassy and the King's Birthday Parade, in which Andrea [Andrew] rode to Horseguards Parade in the procession directly behind the King, little realizing that this would one day be the annual duty of his yet unborn son." The many footnotes (sometimes 3 or 4 per page) are very tiresome and provide more information than we really need. I have no clue how someone could read this book for a book-on-tape. Also, the author could do a better job identifying Russian Royalty. Most Russians are identified by their first name, followed by a patronymic (their father's name followed by "ovich"). For instance, the tsar's name was Nicholas Alexandrovich (Nicholas, son of Alexander). Vickers doesn't follow this rule and when he names a Grand Duke Michael, it is often difficult to know which of the dozen or so Grand Duke Michael's he is referring to.

Still, Alice is an interesting book and it was not an easy story to write, as Alice destroyed most of her papers and letters throughout her lifetime. It also includes many never before seen photos of Alice and her extended family, including a poignant photo of her processing in her nun's habit for the coronation of her daughter-in-law. So for readers interested in royalty, suffer through the poor writing and discover the real story underneath. ... Read more


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