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61. Surprised by Truth: 11 Converts
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62. 90 Minutes In Heaven: A True Story
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63. A Paper Life
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64. We Have a Pope! Benedict XVI
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65. Pol Pot : Anatomy of a Nightmare
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66. See No Evil: The True Story of
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67. Catherine de Medici : Renaissance
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68. Truman
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69. When Trumpets Call : Theodore
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70. Rewriting History
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71. She Said Yes : The Unlikely Martyrdom
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72. Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary
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73. Girl Meets God : A Memoir
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75. In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices
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76. Witness to Hope: The Biography
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78. Mornings on Horseback: The Story
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79. American Soldier
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80. Galileo's Daughter: A Historical

61. Surprised by Truth: 11 Converts Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons for Becoming Catholic
by Patrick Madrid, Basilica Pr
list price: $14.99
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Asin: 0964261081
Catlog: Book (1994-09-01)
Publisher: Basilica Press
Sales Rank: 81795
Average Customer Review: 4.34 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Powerful testimonies of Evangelicals who became Catholic These eleven personal conversion accounts are unlike any you've ever read. They're packed with biblical, theological, and historical proofs for Catholicism. Each year thousands of atheists, Evangelicals, Mormons, Fundamentalists, and Pentecostals are being surprised by Catholic truth and these converts tell you why.In his foreword Scott Hahn described his reaction to "Surprised by Truth":

"While reading each of these incredible journeys I laughed, cried, grunted affirmations, and basically relived my own journey into the Catholic Church. I heard echoes of my own struggles in their words. I relived the anguish I experienced on that lonely and sometimes frightening path of conversion, and I relived the deep, abiding joy of coming home. But enough, Read these stories. They're prayerful, heavy-on-doctrine, evangelical, scriptural witnesses of people who discovered that what they had once thought was the most 'unbiblical' church is really the Church of the Bible." ... Read more

Reviews (68)

2-0 out of 5 stars Surprised by What?
The Churches are filling up with former Roman Catholics as the sheep leave for green pastures - the Bible-oriented "Protestant" churches. How are we to stop this rupture in membership asks the Roman Church? Realizing that personal testimony has been the vehicle through which many became Christians in the first place, we have in this book the carefully written testimonies of eleven converts to Roman Catholicism - all supposedly from evangelical denominations.

In the endeavor to convince the reader to either convert or to stay in "the Church Christ founded", Catholic apologists must convince people that the Bible is not sufficient but must be supplemented by other teachings and the interpretation by the Magisterium must be superimposed upon it. Thus, you have a litany of Roman Church apologetics defenses dispersed in with these testimonies in defense of the "one true faith".

A common denominator to these testimonies is the constant repetition of the same tired out arguments for Roman supremacy with the main focus being a denial of the sufficiency of Scripture, the "fractured" nature of Protestantism in light of the alleged unity of Rome, and the alleged unanimous consent of the early church fathers regarding the teachings of Roman Church's tradition.

Much of the Scriptural support from these eleven converts is either out of context or based upon very bad exegetics of key passages of Scriptures. For instance, all believed that the Church as established by Christ, was build upon apostolic succession from St. Peter. However, any good church historian would reveal that none of the early church fathers subscribed to apostolic succession based upon St. Peter. Available at Amazon.com is the book "The Matthew 16 Controversy - Peter and the Rock" by Webster that should convince anyone who really wants to know the historical facts regarding apostolic succession. I would recommend this book before buying into that religious-political theory as provided by the Roman Church.

At the center of focus for these converts is the participation in the Eucharist deemed necessary for salvation. All of them believing that the bread and wine becomes the actual body and blood of Christ and all of them believing that the Roman Mass has the support of all the early church fathers in that doctrinal viewpoint. The fact is that the early fathers did not support much that is modern Roman Catholicism. St Augustine, for instance, did not buy into transubstantiation at all; neither did many of the other church fathers.

Roman Catholic apologists tend to use history in very selective ways to support their distinctive doctrinal views, attempting to take advantage of the fact that many non-Catholics simply do not know history well enough provide counter evidence. Former Roman Catholic William Webster has written several highly documented books on Church history that clearly brings into doubt many of the historical claims for Roman Church doctrines. I recommend strongly that one purchase a copy of "The Church of Rome at the Bar of History" (also available through Amazon.com) to be able to really see that much in modern Protestantism was not invented in the 16th century as these converts content. We can easily see that early church history presents not just the Roman Church view, but most of the views we find today; "There is the literal view of transubstantiation which could be that expressed by Chrysostom; the Lutheran view of consubstantiation, which could be taught by Irenaeus or Justin Martyr; the spiritual view of Calvin, which is closely aligned with St. Augustine; and the strictly symbolic view of Zwingli, which is similar to that expressed by Eusebius" (see Webster, page 122). To the symbolic view, Webster adds Theodoret, Serapion, Jerome, Athanasius, Ambrosiaster, Macarius of Egypt, and Eustathius of Antioch. According to some apologists, "Church history is fascinating and has value, but it is a house of cards for anyone trying to construct infallible dogmas or biblical doctrines." Webster goes on to state that "even Pope Gelasius I (c. 496 A.D.) denied transubstantiation." And Pope Adrian IV rejected papal infallibility. All of the converts to Roman Catholicism make an issue of the alleged disunity of Protestantism with the claim that God has promised to keep His church together. But the truth of the gospel is the real cornerstone and foundation to the whole issue of unity. A close look at Roman Catholicism will reveal much disunity in their ranks as most Roman Catholics are really "Cafeteria Catholics" - carefully selecting what they will accept or reject from the Roman Church hierarchy. Unity, I believe, will be achievable eventually as we see in the book of Revelation, a church headed by the anti-Christ with all opposition brutally crushed. These eleven converts try hard to point out that the Roman Church is a church united and has always been united in its doctrinal beliefs but hopefully someday they will truly be "surprised by the Truth".

5-0 out of 5 stars This book convinced me to convert to Catholicism!
These well-written conversion stories answer the questions: Which church was founded by Jesus Christ? Who has the authority to interpret Scripture? The answer is clear: the one and only Catholic church. The converts come from diverse backgrounds: some were Presbyterian ministers, one was Jewish. This book is so interesting and powerful, I finished it in one day. Then I decided to convert to Catholicism. Surprised by Truth is a powerful tool for evangelizing Jews, Protestants, and fallen-away Catholics.

5-0 out of 5 stars Surprised by Truth
This book is an easy read that I couldn't put down until I finished.The eleven converts that tell their stories are easy to relate to and interesting. This book started me on a path of Catholic Apologetics that I am still on today. I have bought several and I cannot keep them in hand since once I lend them out they end up in the hands of friends and relatives of those who borrowed the book. I found the book enlightening and now I can say why I choose to be a Catholic.

3-0 out of 5 stars soup kitchen
Entering the Catholic Church in my early teens, I remember our youth group volunteering at the soup kitchen, collecting baby supplies for the local crisis pregnancy center, and raking leaves for the elderly. I never waived my hands in the air at a church service, attended a conference or listed to an audio tract-nothing wrong with that, I guess. When I got to college, some students informed me that I needed to find Jesus in my life. One student even accused me of praying to dead saints, and worshiping statues. Super! I hear that she is now home schooling. Those kids should be great.

Well, thanks to this book, if some co-ed accuses me of leaving Jesus nailed to the cross, I can now answer them at their own high level, and I guess that there is something earthly appealing about that. Honestly, though, I learned a lot about the Catholic faith from books like this-things that I probably should have known. But, in the larger picture, I think that I was way ahead in my faith journey back when I was a silly kid in youth group, then at any period during my time spent studying apologetics.

5-0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT TITLE FOR AN EXCELLENT BOOK!
This book is EXCELLENT! I'm so thankful there's a book out there that explains everything that I've known and felt, but could not put into words to defend. So many good 'bible christian Protestants' think that their way is the true way, but how can one honestly believe this when so many Protestant religions totally disagree on scripture passages?How can one think it acceptable to interpret the bible however they want to??! Gee, what an awesome thing if it were actually true that we could do anything we wanted on earth, commit any sin we like, and that when we die, we'll just automatically go to heaven! It's sad that so many people are deceived by this (by the devil, no doubt...the Master of Deception!) Boy, are they in for a surprise on Judgement Day! If one would just be open and pray for GUIDANCE, one would most definitely come Home to the One, True Church...the church Jesus HIMSELF started...The Catholic Church...not some church started by a human in the 1500s!!!! ... Read more


62. 90 Minutes In Heaven: A True Story of Death & Life
by Don Piper, Cecil Murphey
list price: $12.99
our price: $9.74
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Asin: 0800759494
Catlog: Book (2004-09-01)
Publisher: Revell
Sales Rank: 8136
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63. A Paper Life
by Tatum O'Neal
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
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Asin: 0060540974
Catlog: Book (2004-10-01)
Publisher: HarperEntertainment
Sales Rank: 749
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Book Description

At age ten, Tatum O'Neal became the youngest Oscar winner in history for her performance in the film classic Paper Moon. She was hailed as a new kind of child star -- sassy and precocious -- for a hip, cynical age. As the sidekick to her father, the flamboyant star and man-about-town Ryan O'Neal, she became a fixture at the most glamorous Hollywood parties and counted celebrities ranging from Cher to Stanley Kubrick among her childhood friends.

But behind the glittering facade of Tatum's life lay heartbreak: abandonment, abuse, and neglect. Her alcoholic mother, the actress Joanna Moore, drifted in and out of her life. Her father, saddled with both Tatum and her brother Griffin, grew increasingly punishing and distant, especially after moving in with his longtime love, Farrah Fawcett. By her late teens, Tatum -- though a working actress with ten movies to her credit -- had begun a perilous slide into self-destruction.

Then, just before her twenty-first birthday, Tatum met the man who would become her husband: the explosive tennis great John McEnroe. They had three children, Kevin, Sean, and Emily, in quick succession, followed by one of the messiest high-profile divorces on record. With the collapse of her marriage and no real family to turn to, Tatum succumbed to the demons of her past, which would nearly kill her.

Now she has emerged clean and sober, rediscovering herself as an actress, mother, and wonderfully vibrant woman in what she considers the prime of her life.

A Paper Life is a story of strength and courage: unflinchingly honest, yet poignant, often funny, and unfailingly uplifting. It is a tale of triumph steeped in Hollywood lore -- and an inspiring testament to the healing power of love.

... Read more

64. We Have a Pope! Benedict XVI
by Matthew Bunson, Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict XVI
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
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Asin: 1592761801
Catlog: Book (2005-05-19)
Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor
Sales Rank: 9360
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Who is Pope Benedict XVI?

"After the great John Paul II, the cardinals elected me, a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord."

With those gentle words, Pope Benedict XVI greeted the faithful of Rome and the world as the Church’s 265th pope.

In selecting Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to lead the Church, the cardinals chose a man they had known well for many years, but one who remains relatively unknown to most of the world’s Catholics.

Now, noted Catholic author and historian Mathew E. Bunson, D.Min., provides a detailed portrait of Benedict XVI, introducing Catholics to a man of powerful intellect and confident faith who now must lead the Church as it confronts some of the most challenging issues facing modern men and women. Bunson examines

• What made him the man he is today • What you are not being told about him by the secular media• What lies ahead for Catholics worldwide

Twenty-six years ago, when Karol Wojtyla was chosen to be the successor to Peter, some of the most difficult challenges to the Church's mission came from the East. Twenty-six years later, the most difficult challenges to the Church's mission come from the West. There is a man now very well prepared who understands Western society and the history of the world. — Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago

Pope Benedict XVI, like many people including myself, is very uncomfortable with some of the trends that came after the Second Vatican Council, which ended up in destroying large segments of religious life, undermining vocations, undermining Catholic theology and moral teaching. When people say that he’s a conservative, they’re saying that he wants to restore those vital parts of the Catholic Christian life. I’m one hundred percent in agreement with him. — Father Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R.

[Pope Benedict’s] acceptance of the humanly crushing burden of the See of Peter tells us something important about the man: Like John Paul II, this is a Christian radical who long ago handed his life over to the will of God, manifest through the call of the Church. — George Weigel ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Reliable Guide
Bunson has written an orthodox and thus reliable guide to the great events of April 2005. He also provides analysis of the challenges facing the Church and the likely course of the new papacy, with appropriate humility. In contrast to the wildly inaccuarate prognostications of the secular media and liberal Catholics, Bunson is able to put his finger on what was really going on in the conclave: a move to challenge the relativism that threatens the truth. The best part of the book is Bunson's detailed biographical information on our new Pope. The book even includes a list of books by former Cardinal Ratzinger that are available in English. Read Bunson's book first and then begin the intellectual and faith adventure of reading the treasures that have come from the pen of our new Pope.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Benedict XVI Primer
Bunson's book went to press in early May during the first weeks of Benedict's new pontificate and serves the general reader as a "Benedict Primer".There is information on the last days of Pope John Paul II, the unforgettable funeral Mass, the conclave, and the many accomplishments of the priest/theologian/cardinal who became Benedict XVI.Bunson also includes an eighty-year timeline that shows the intersection of various cultural milestones with events in Benedict's life.

Included are lengthy excerpts from key speeches and homilies and coverage of the high points of then-Cardinal Ratzinger's tenure as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the arm of the Church responsible for protecting truths that come to us ultimately from Christ and the Apostles.

Kudos to Mr. Bunson; having such a well-written book on our new Pope available so soon is a major feat.It likely will serve as a reference for future writers wanting a description of the historic events that surrounded Easter 2005.

5-0 out of 5 stars Get to Know Pope Benedict XVI
Great primer on who the new pope really is...plus an excellent overview of what has transpired in the last month at the Vatican.The book begins with an overview of what led up to the election of Benedict, his first addresses and an overview of his life. I found the issues facing the papacy both in the section entitled "The Vacant See" and at the end of the book where the author Matt Bunson details how the Pope is likely to handle these issues fascinating.

The book also includes a list of popes dating back to St. Peter, as well as a very helpful glossary. ... Read more


65. Pol Pot : Anatomy of a Nightmare (John MacRae Books)
by Philip Short
list price: $30.00
our price: $19.80
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Asin: 0805066624
Catlog: Book (2005-02-08)
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Sales Rank: 107326
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Book Description

A gripping and definitive portrait of the man who headed one of the most enigmatic and terrifying regimes of modern times

In the three and a half years of Pol Pot's rule, more than a million Cambodians, a fifth of the country's population, were executed or died from hunger. An idealistic and reclusive figure, Pol Pot sought to instill in his people values of moral purity and self-abnegation through a revolution of radical egalitarianism. In the process his country descended into madness, becoming a concentration camp of the mind, a slave state in which obedience was enforced on the killing fields.

How did a utopian dream of shared prosperity mutate into one of the worst nightmares humanity has ever known? To understand this almost inconceivable mystery, Philip Short explores Pol Pot's life from his early years to his death. Short spent four years traveling throughout Cambodia interviewing the surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge movement, many of whom have never spoken before, including Pol Pot's brother-in-law and the former Khmer Rouge head of state. He also sifted through the previously closed archives of China, Russia, Vietnam, and Cambodia itself to trace the fate of one man and the nation that he led into ruin.

This powerful biography reveals that Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge were not a one-off aberration but instead grew out of a darkness of the soul common to all peoples. Cambodian history and culture combined with intervention from the United States and other nations to set the stage for a disaster whose horrors echo loudly in the troubling events of our world today.
... Read more

66. See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism
by Robert Baer
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
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Asin: 140004684X
Catlog: Book (2003-01-07)
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Sales Rank: 3923
Average Customer Review: 4.52 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In his explosive New York Times bestseller, top CIA operative Robert Baer paints a chilling picture of how terrorism works on the inside and provides startling evidence of how Washington politics sabotaged the CIA’s efforts to root out the world’s deadliest terrorists, allowing for the rise of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda and the continued entrenchment of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

A veteran case officer in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations in the Middle East, Baer witnessed the rise of terrorism first hand and the CIA’s inadequate response to it, leading to the attacks of September 11, 2001. This riveting book is both an indictment of an agency that lost its way and an unprecedented look at the roots of modern terrorism, and includes a new afterword in which Baer speaks out about the American war on terrorism and its profound implications throughout the Middle East.

“Robert Baer was considered perhaps the best on-the-ground field
officer in the Middle East.”
–Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker

From The Preface
This book is a memoir of one foot soldier’s career in the other cold war, the one against terrorist networks. It’s a story about places most Americans will never travel to, about people many Americans would prefer to think we don’t need to do business with.

This memoir, I hope, will show the reader how spying is supposed to work, where the CIA lost its way, and how we can bring it back again. But I hope this book will accomplish one more purpose as well: I hope it will show why I am angry about what happened to the CIA. And I want to show why every American and everyone who cares about the preservation of this country should be angry and alarmed, too.

The CIA was systematically destroyed by political correctness, by petty Beltway wars, by careerism, and much more. At a time when terrorist threats were compounding globally, the agency that should have been monitoring them was being scrubbed clean instead. Americans were making too much money to bother. Life was good. The White House and the National Security Council became cathedrals of commerce where the interests of big business outweighed the interests of protecting American citizens at home and abroad. Defanged and dispirited, the CIA went along for the ride. And then on September 11, 2001, the reckoning for such vast carelessness was presented for all the world to see.
... Read more

Reviews (124)

5-0 out of 5 stars Everything you need to know about the CIA in the 90's
Baer began as a CIA agent in the 80's. His book sputters through his life in the CIA. It reads like a book written by an amateur and barely roped in by his editor. But his experiences are fascinating. He spent most of his time overseas in the spy trenches with the people who matter today. His ability to use names, dates and locations is amazing. It's not dry at all. It's not James Bond but it is real life. There are lots of names you see on TV today and lots of research regarding terrorism. The last part of the book is a stinging slap to the face of the Washington DC political Babylon. He effectively demonstrates the power of money and big oil in the US capital. The focus on money in the 90's left us vunerable on 9/11. Baer shows you how it was done.
This is a must read for everyone concerned with terrorism.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great treatise on what's gone wrong with intelligence
Robert Baer does an excellent job of drawing the reader into the shadowy world of the covert world of intelligence. His elaboration (as much as he can divulge) of the training and operations of case officers is both fascinating and worrysome. Fascinating, because it allows laymen get a glimpse of what "could have been" if they too had pursued the life of being a "spy" (come on...admit it, we all have that fantasy), and worrysome because he outlines the CIA and intelligence community's not so slow drift toward reliance on technical means to get intelligence, rather than the days-old practices of the human side of the world's second oldest profession. His elaboration on names that are all too familiar now to those of us who study the mid-east weaves an incredibly complex and captivating web. Immediately after finishing Baer's book, I started on American Jihad, and the web just grows more tangled. Truly a great read, though, and is highly recommended for anyone who wants the "down and dirty" side of espionage. It is all the more important now that we are trying to rebuild it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Gripping account of the CIA of from the 70's and 80's
Reading this book is like sitting down with a colorful crusty old man who schelped for the CIA for most of his career. Great metaphors, Baer goes into how he was recruited and his hunt for the creeps that murdered over 200 U.S. Marines during the 1980's in Bierut. If you like that kinda "counter-intelligence" thing then this book is a fascinating read.

5-0 out of 5 stars See No Evil
This book succeeds equally well on two levels. On the primary level it is a fascinating and action packed memoir of a CIA operative who served in some of the most dangerous and inhospitable places imaginable. Its author, Robert Baer, writes from first hand experience and is not shy about sharing his opinions. His writing style is clear and easy flowing. The stories he has to tell are as relevant as today's headlines. For example, in one section of the book titled "You're on Your Own", Baer tells an appalling tale of his adventures in Northern Iraq leading a team in what turned out to be a rather half-hearted effort of the Clinton administration to depose Saddam Hussein. In this activity he even crossed paths with the Iraqi Shi'a Ahmad Chalabi who then as now was adept at fabricating stories of dubious plausibility. In sum any general reader would find this book both a good read and highly thought provoking.

On a second level, Baer's book should be read by any one interested in the subject of the U.S. Intelligence process and its reform. Baer was a practicing intelligence officer for almost 20 years and became a terrorist expert the hard way by dealing directly with such terrorist associations as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hizballah on a daily basis. In this account of his intelligence operations, Baer provides a good deal of evidence that Iran, at least in the 1990's, was a state sponsor of terrorism and that Shi'a and Sunni terrorist groups were at willing to make a common cause against the U.S. and Israel. If you read between the lines of this book, it is obvious that Baer has developed a pretty significant target knowledge base on Middle Eastern terrorism which is still relevant today. Yet, no where in this book does anybody talk about intelligence requirements, collection plans, the venerated intelligence cycle or any of the other jargon so dear to most writers on intelligence issues. Instead what we read is how Baer and his fellow operatives used their own initiative to exploit opportunities as they presented themselves and applied such qualities as common sense and target knowledge to decide what to exploit and what to leave alone. Unfortunately many of the opportunities Baer and his fellow operatives wished to pursue were vetoed by his managers at CIA's Directorate of Operations (DO) who were becoming increasingly risk adverse especially after 1990. As a former field operative, Baer provides the reader with what I think is an accurate, but depressing account of the decline of initiative and competence within the DO in the years prior to the 9/11 tragedy. Would be intelligence reformers should take note.

5-0 out of 5 stars PRESCIENT
If you have any interest in why Iraq has turned into a quagmire, you MUST read this book. I proudly voted for GWB in 2000....but find it both interesting and sad that Mr Baer knew right away that Ahmad Chalabi was a fraud and fake, while someone in the the Bush administration or Pentagon fed Chalabi sensitive info that made it back to Iran.

Baer's book is two sides of the same coin: on the one hand, it makes one sad that the CIA is so fouled up (or at least was while he worked there and likely has not markedly improved). On the other hand, knowing that there are patriots like Baer bright enough to recognize this and patriotic enough to want to make a difference, better days could yet be ahead for the CIA. ... Read more


67. Catherine de Medici : Renaissance Queen of France
by Leonie Frieda
list price: $29.95
our price: $19.77
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Asin: 0060744928
Catlog: Book (2005-02-01)
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Sales Rank: 185612
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Book Description

Poisoner, besotted mother, despot, necromancer, engineer of a massacre: the stain on the name of Catherine de Medici is centuries old. In this critically hailed biography, Leonie Frieda reclaims the story of this unjustly maligned queen of France to reveal a skilled ruler battling against extraordinary political and personal odds.

Orphaned in infancy, imprisoned in childhood, heiress to an ancient name and vast fortune, Catherine de Medici was brought up in Florence, a city dominated by her ruling family. At age fourteen, the Italian-born young woman became a French princess in a magnificent alliance arranged by her uncle the pope to Henry, son of King Francis I of France. She suffered cruelly as her new husband became bewitched by the superbly elegant Diane de Poitiers. Henry's influential and lifelong mistress wisely sent her lover to sleep with Catherine, and after an agonizingly childless decade when she saw popular resentment build against her, she conceived the first of ten children. Slowly Catherine made the court her own: she transformed the cultural life of France, importing much of what we now think of as typically French -- cuisine, art, music, fashion -- from Italy, cradle of the Renaissance.

In a freak jousting accident in 1559, a wooden splinter fatally pierced Henry's eye. Hitherto sidelined, Catherine found herself suddenly thrust into the maelstrom of French power politics, for which she soon discovered she had inherited a natural gift.

A contemporary and sometime ally of Elizabeth I of England, Catherine learned to become both a superb strategist and ruthless conspirator. During the rise of Protestantism, her attempts at religious tolerance were constantly foiled, and France was riven by endemic civil wars. Although history has always laid the blame for the infamous St. Bartholomew's Day massacre by a Catholic mob of thousands of French Protestants at Catherine's door, Leonie Frieda presents a powerful case for Catherine's defense.

This courageous queen's fatal flaw was a blind devotion to her sickly and corrupt children, three of whom would become kings of France. Despite their weaknesses, Catherine's indomitable fight to protect the throne and their birthright ensured the survival of the French monarchy for a further two hundred years after her death, until it was swept away by the French Revolution.

Leonie Frieda has returned to original sources and reread the thousands of letters left by Catherine, and she has reinvested this protean figure with humanity. The first biography of Catherine in decades, it reveals her to be one of the most influential women ever to wear a crown.

... Read more

68. Truman
by David McCullough
list price: $22.00
our price: $15.40
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Asin: 0671869205
Catlog: Book (1993-06-14)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 1979
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The life of Harry S. Truman is one of the greatest of American stories, filled with vivid characters -- Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Wallace Truman, George Marshall, Joe McCarthy, and Dean Acheson -- and dramatic events. In this riveting biography, acclaimed historian David McCullough not only captures the man -- a more complex, informed, and determined man than ever before imagined -- but also the turbulent times in which he rose, boldly, to meet unprecedented challenges. The last president to serve as a living link between the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, Truman's story spans the raw world of the Missouri frontier, World War I, the powerful Pendergast machine of Kansas City, the legendary Whistle-Stop Campaign of 1948, and the decisions to drop the atomic bomb, confront Stalin at Potsdam, send troops to Korea, and fire General MacArthur. Drawing on newly discovered archival material and extensive interviews with Truman's own family, friends, and Washington colleagues, McCullough tells the deeply moving story of the seemingly ordinary "man from Missouri" who was perhaps the most courageous president in our history. ... Read more

Reviews (172)

5-0 out of 5 stars Truman
Truman by David McCullough is a biography of one of our most extraordinary Presidents, Ol' Give 'Em Hell Harry, the man who said, " the buck stops here." Harry S. Truman, who's humble start in rule Missouri, with hard work, determination, and circumstance landed in the Oval Office of the White House.

This is a tale of a man, told warmly with feeling. A story of a man who walked in the shadow of Franklin D. Roosevelt, a man who had to make a choice to use the Atomic Bomb, a man who proved himself, a man of uncommon vitality and strength of character. Reading this book, one gets to know Harry Truman, you feel emotion and see insight as the author sets the story and writes a telling tale.

Harry Truman a man who married later in life because he didn't have the money. His work on the farm gave him strength and dogged optimism in the face of defeat, but much more was to come for Harry. Facing responsibilities such as had weighed on no man ever before and setting American politics and diplomacy, Harry Truman was treading a new age.

The author has mastered Truman in this book, as no other has to date, and it shows throughout this book. This is the life of Harry Truman complete with all of the supporting characters as well... Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin, Eleanor Roosevelt, his wife Bess Wallace Truman, General George Marshall, Joseph McCarthy and Dean Acheson. Harry Truman was responsible for the Truman Doctrine, NATO, the Berlin Airlift and the Marshall Plan, but fired General Douglas MacArthur. "Truman," shows Harry Truman to be complex, thoughtful, peppery when he needed to be and plainspoken.

I really enjoyed reading this biography... like a grandfather telling a story that happened in his lifetime... with understanding and thoughtfulness.

5-0 out of 5 stars A model biography of an almost model man
David McCullough delivers! Truman is a model biography - in both McCullough's craft and his subject of the epic life of Harry S Truman. McCullough truly creates another universe - a reality that would have existed only in the past, but now fits in your hands in these 1000 some pages. The reader will find him/herself immersed in the history and lives of amazing figures of another age whose actions for which we - citizens of the world are greatly indebted. The reader will both know Harry S Truman and his historical significance - his heroic and at the time highly controversial Presidency.

Truman is both an epic of a man's life and homage to the triumph of American democracy. Truman is a man of humble origins who achieves incredible feats. I urge anyone who stumbled onto this page to "get to know" Truman by reading this book. This book is a joy to read - it flows like a novel. You will not be disappointed.

"I never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell."
-Harry S Truman

5-0 out of 5 stars Buy It and Read It ASAP!!
I first read this book in 1992 when it was released. I've read it over several times since and each time I enjoy it just as much as the first. What a great person and what a remarkable life! This is one book that I can't possibly say enough about. IT'S OUTSTANDING!! Mr. McCullough obviously admires his subject, but he is objective and shows Mr. Truman warts and all. He had very few warts however. BUY IT and READ IT as soon as you can. You won't regret the time spent.

4-0 out of 5 stars Talks about the right aspect of Truman's career
I admired the book for talking about Truman's friendship with Eddie Jacobson. He and Eddie were business partners in the 1920's and Eddie (a Jewish man) later influenced Truman to help found the modern state of Israel. I am still disappointd as I am also searching for talk about (probably) Truman's other mostly unsung achievement-the firing of Churchill and the birth of modern India and Pakistan. Sadly the book offers nothing about that aspect of Truman's career.

5-0 out of 5 stars My First Biography
I decided to read this book for two reasons. First, I was/am an avid supporter of Howard Dean, and he often cites Truman as his favorite president, and knowing so little about Truman, I was curious why. Second, practically the only thing I did know about Truman was that he made the decision to use the Bomb, and I was extremely interested in what sort of man it takes to make such a decision.

The book is 992 pages long - daunting to someone whose only other 500+ page read had been Lord of the Rings.

But I found each page interesting and riveting. Never did I find it slow or dull. I had no idea how much impact the Truman administration had on the country and the world. Not only the Bomb, but the start of the Cold War, the Korean War, the first push by a President for universal health care, the first push by a President for equal civil rights. Truman, an ordinary farmer from western Missouri, is the absolute example of the American dream.

The book also answered both of my questions. The similarities in Truman's approach to politics and his agenda with Howard Dean's campaign for the presidential nomination are uncanny. And, to my surprise, Truman was not at all the sort of man I imagined making the decision to obliterate Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I feel like I've learned more from this one book than I learned in 17 years of schooling. ... Read more


69. When Trumpets Call : Theodore Roosevelt After the White House
by Patricia O'Toole
list price: $30.00
our price: $19.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0684864770
Catlog: Book (2005-03-08)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 4694
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Chronicles of the post-presidential years of America's chief executives aren't generally scintillating reads. With a few exceptions--Jimmy Carter and Herbert Hoover come to mind--the period after presidents vacate the White House tends to be abbreviated, idle, and a little sad. Patricia O'Toole's absorbing account of Theodore Roosevelt's final decade carries some of this pathos, but she also vividly captures the spark and sometimes reckless vigor of the most vibrant of presidents. Possessed of an irrepressible self-confidence and insatiable appetite for power, Roosevelt made an unconvincing show of stepping out of the spotlight when he declined to seek reelection in 1909, bequeathing the presidency to loyal foot soldier William Howard Taft. Over the course of Taft's one rather lackluster term, Roosevelt embarked on an extended African safari (where the trailblazing conservationist slaughtered hundreds of animals), but upon his return he became embroiled in a battle with Taft for the heart of the Republican Party. When he lost that struggle, he turned to the budding Progressive Party. Under their banner, Roosevelt bested Taft in the 1912 election, but Woodrow Wilson, of course, beat them both. Roosevelt's bursting-at-the-seams life has been thoroughly chronicled, but O'Toole wisely focuses on a period when the never-retiring giant of American politics was wounded (both figuratively and literally--he was shot while campaigning and insisted on giving a speech before going to a hospital), but wouldn't, or couldn't, give up the fight. --Steven Stolder ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars An essential book for those who really want to know the man
The formerly powerful face a difficult readjustment when they leave their offices. Their individual characters dictate exactly how complicated this transition will be, and we learn a lot about such people by studying how they cope. In WHEN TRUMPETS CALL, Patricia O'Toole examines the last years of the life of Theodore Roosevelt.

Writer, explorer, naturalist, devoted family man, human dynamo, and twenty-sixth president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt was only fifty years old when he completed his two terms of office and had ten years of his life left to fill. He went out on a high note, sure that his personally chosen successor, William Howard Taft, would continue the progressive agenda Roosevelt's two Republican administrations had put in place.

Hoping to avoid the appearance of dictating policy to the new president, Roosevelt distanced himself as far from Washington as he possibly could. He spent his first year out of office on safari in Africa with his son, Kermit. One of the real pleasures of WHEN TRUMPETS CALL is that, because so much of it is drawn from the correspondence of Roosevelt's family and friends, we get vivid portraits of all his intimates, including his sons, who had real challenges in keeping up with their father.

Returning to the United States, it was apparent that Taft would not uphold Roosevelt's progressive work. Remembered as one of our most mediocre presidents, the Taft administration served the interests of big business whenever it could, foiling Roosevelt's legacy. Roosevelt claimed to act out of a sense of duty. He felt responsible that he had chosen an unworthy successor and saw no other way to rectify the situation than to regain the presidency himself. Although his sense of duty was one of the best and strongest elements of Roosevelt's character, he also found the redemption of his lost power to be irresistible.

He formed the Bull Moose Party and split the Republican vote, allowing Democrat Woodrow Wilson to win the presidency. In Roosevelt's criticism of Taft and Wilson, we see the small side of a big man. In print and public speeches, he carped about every decision they made, from Taft's lazy corporate coddling to Wilson's procrastination about entering World War I. Roosevelt's petulance lost him his audience, and by the time the United States had entered World War I, Wilson saw no reason to include Roosevelt in the war effort.

For a man who took such well-deserved pride in his usefulness, sidelining was a painful insult. Unfortunately, World War I had other blows in store for him. First, he watched his sons go off to war and participate as he could not. Then, his youngest son, Quentin, was shot out of the sky and killed. The Roosevelt philosophy of strenuous service turned back on itself, and Roosevelt never seemed to recover from his loss.

Patricia O'Toole has written a sensitive, sophisticated study of a great man at a vulnerable time. Although there are many books on Theodore Roosevelt, WHEN TRUMPETS CALL is an essential volume for those who really want to know the man.

--- Reviewed by Colleen Quinn

5-0 out of 5 stars Bully!
Woodrow Wilson once said, " A man who makes no mistakes usually makes nothing at all." Wilson in no way intended this statement to be used in praise of his fierce rival Theodore Roosevelt but I can think of no better description of the life of this Bull Moose of American politics. Roosevelt was a man of action and sometimes a loose cannon and Patricia O 'Toole has written a wonderful book which shows very clearly why this quotation so aptly fits TR.

O 'Toole's book covers the last ten years of Roosevelt's life, a time of retirement for a man who was not yet ready to retire. She follows Roosevelt on his African safari, his triumphant tour of Europe, the split with President Taft, the 1912 campaign, the Brazilian expedition, World War I and his preparations to run for President again in 1920. It is a fascinating and enjoyable journey that one undertakes in reading this book and I am glad that this author has given me the chance to follow Roosevelt's journey in print for I doubt that I could have kept up with him in real life.

The main thesis of this book is that Roosevelt had an overwhelming need for power and enjoyed conflict to the point that both of these weaknesses often clouded his judgment. The author makes her point very clearly and backs up her argument with hard evidence, giving the reader very little reason to doubt her argument. She is a little harsh on TR occasionally, especially when it comes to Roosevelt's split with Taft, but for the most part she is very fair and even handed. In the case of Roosevelt's support for the efforts of the government to suppress free speech during World War I and his backing of silly initiatives to ban all things German she is probably too soft on the old lion.

Theodore Roosevelt is one of the icons of American history and it would be difficult for any author to make any part of this man's story dull. It is quite another thing however for an author to get inside the soul of Mr. Roosevelt and I believe that O 'Toole has done just that. From TR's habit of dismissing those who disagreed with him as unmanly or cowardly to the deep grief and guilt he felt when his son Quentin was killed in the war, this book will lead the reader to the depths of Roosevelt's soul. Although it only covers Roosevelt's post White House years this is the best biography of the old Rough Rider that I have yet to come across. Far superior in it's readability and energy to the Edmund Morris books.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Political Lion in Winter
Patricia O'Toole has written a lively account of the decade left to Theodore Roosevelt once he left the White House. He was a man adrift, without a goal or purpose for the first time in his life.

Once you have achieved your career goal (for him, the Presidency at age 42), what do you do for an encore? According to Ms. O'Toole, TR tried to repeat himself with a failed, but close, run for the White House in 1912 and was comtemplating another bid in 1920 when he died in his sleep from an embolism in 1919.

The research is good, though I disagree with some of her conclusions, especially her view of TR needing power and doing anything to achieve it. Her difficulty lies in writing the concluding chapter of TR's life without having written of his first fifty years.

In some 1600 pages, Edmund Morris has written an epic biography of TR's life in a trilogy : the pre-White House period ("The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" which won the Pulitzer Prize) and the White House years ("Theodore Rex"). The concluding volume covering the post-White House years has yet to be published. For now, Ms. O'Toole's book will have to do.As an aside, Sylvia Morris (married to Edmund Morris) has written her own biography of Roosevelt's wife, "Edith Kermit Roosevelt." ... Read more


70. Rewriting History
by Dick Morris
list price: $24.95
our price: $15.72
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060736682
Catlog: Book (2004-05-01)
Publisher: Regan Books
Sales Rank: 950
Average Customer Review: 3.42 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

It's one thing to review a book by pounding out a few hundred words of criticism but it's quite another to review a book by writing an entirely new book. That's what Dick Morris, former advisor to President Bill Clinton, has done in Rewriting History, an energetic response to Hillary Clinton's Living History. Mrs. Clinton, Morris warns, is on a direct path to the White House due to a lack of Democratic alternatives and a leftward trend in the nation; therefore America must evaluate who she really is and not just what her memoir says. Morris's book is actually remarkably similar to the slew of attack books published about recent presidents but with the crucial difference that Hillary is at the very least four years away from the Oval Office. So Morris's criticisms of her, though backed up by a 20-year relationship with the Clintons, are rarely more than speculative, worrying about what she might do and asking ominous questions that are inherently unanswerable. Hillary Clinton, in Morris's view, is a much more insecure, disingenuous, and calculating creature than "Hillary," the palatable political product that won election to the Senate in 2000 and she's also an inferior politician to her husband. But as a political operative who has worked for both conservatives and liberals, Morris's indictments of Clinton evolve into a grudging respect as he demonstrates her considerable political resolve. All the same, he refutes many passages in her book with his own accounts of what transpired and indicts her integrity and behavior dating back to Bill Clinton's early career in Arkansas. Going forward, he says, she must decide whether to rely on her behind-the-scenes political acumen or embrace actual convictions. Often, Morris puts Clinton in no-win situations. For instance, while First Lady, she decides to get a dog, a decision that Morris infers is entirely politically motivated despite Clinton saying that it was because daughter Chelsea had moved out. Thus, if she had "admitted" her motivation was political, it would be an admission of cynicism and manipulation, but if she protests that her motives were simpler, Morris would have us believe that she's just lying. Nowhere is it allowed that the woman may have just wanted a dog. Rewriting History, co-written by Morris's wife Eileen McGann, offers a pleasing blend of Washington (and some Little Rock) gossip along with its political strategizing and is more valuable as insider scoop than presidential road map. Fans of Hillary Clinton will find little to alter their view and those who oppose her will find plenty of talking points for all the years of future debates that Hillary Clinton will surely inspire. --John Moe ... Read more

Reviews (109)

5-0 out of 5 stars Revealing Book About Hillary Clinton
As a long time political manager for the Clintons, Dick Morris has come to know Hillary Clinton very well. According to Morris, "All public figures use makeup to cover a blemish or two. But only Hillary wears a mask of so many layers, one that hides her true face altogether."

According to Morris, Hillary Clinton is an even more accomplished liar than her husband is. One such lie is the claim she made on the Today Show that daughter Chelsea was in harms way at the World Trade Center. Hillary is an extremely materialisic woman who is extremely greedy. As such, there is a strong likelihood that Hillary will one day become embroiled in a politically suicidal financial scandal.

According to Morris, Hillary has a strong propensity to use private eyes and skullduggery for political purposes. If Hillary were to become elected in 2008, it would be like Richard Nixon all over again.

Essentially, Morris's argument is that Hillary Clinton is a fraud who lusts for supreme political power and who, if she should ever attain it, will be the biggest threat to democracy in America since the days of the Nixon presidency.

5-0 out of 5 stars Objective look at Hillary Clinton
Dick Morris' political and personal affiliation with the Clintons provides the background for this book; since it provides honest, relevant, and numerous examples of Hillary "rewriting history," the book succeeds in proving its thesis. I was surprised and impressed with the depth of information he provided, as well as with the objectivity, and even compassion, with which Dick Morris laid out his story. It is not a Hillary bashing book, but a probing look into the woman herself, her own words and actions bringing to life the book's premise. Dick Morris gives examples of lies Hillary herself writes in her own autobiography and refutes them. Mr. Morris provides a balanced view of Hillary, pointing out her strengths and gifts, as well as her weaknesses. His analyses are based on sound thinking and experience and enhanced by revelations of his own deep humanity. This book is not a book necessarily of wide range or scope but succeeds in what it attempts to do. It is well written, and not encumbered by
rhetoric or extraneous facts, but concisely and interestingly makes its point.

3-0 out of 5 stars As an Insider Book This Is not A buy
One prior reviewer wants to know if he should buy the book. The bottom line is no, the book is a bit of a dud and my review has nothing to do with the Clintons or politics. The book is marginal - 3 stars. Here is why.

I briefly read the book and did not read every word - I could not it simply was not compelling. I reviewed the book after hearing a lengthy radio interview with Dick Morris. The point is that he was an insider and we would expect a much better effort. The book is very short 250 pages, and even worse it is large font - always a bad sign - and contains nothing new that is not already public knowledge and mostly well know.

Let us go over some of his insights. He has a couple of comments on Mrs. Clinton's reaction to Lewinsky but again that is mostly public. All politicians follow the polls, Bill was famous for that, and anyone living within 1000 miles of New York State knows that Hillary lobbied for the Puerto Ricans to be pardoned, and Orthodox Jews and others, and supported both the Yankees and the Mets simultaneously and anyone else that would give her a vote. We need another book to tell us that or to repeat some of that? I think not. Morris makes list of the gifts that they received and has other lists of transgressions in the book. He mentions Gennifer Flowers and has a chapter called "Stonewalling" on the White Water investigation. All of that is public information, we have heard it before many times, and it is not new.

Many sections are very brief and although accurate they tell us little whether you like the Clintons or not. So why buy a short large font book with nothing new?

Unless you just returned from a place where there were no papers or TV , skip this.

Three stars.

Jack in Toronto

4-0 out of 5 stars Good insight into the Clintons
The book is mostly about Hillary Clinton, and shows how in her own book, Living History, that she has actually rewritten her own history. There is a lot of insight into Hillary's mindset here. Mr. Morris writes about how she manipulates and lies. From reading the book I get the idea that she is an inveterate liar. It also explains how her and Bill targeted different groups just to get their vote. The latest of these type deals was to win Hillary the vote in New York in the senate race. The Clinton's pardoned a number of criminals just before he left office. One group in particular was the 14 members of the Puerto Rican FALN terrorist group that were in prison, who had committed several murders, in order for Hillary to pick up the Puerto Rican vote in New York city, which in previous elections had been going to the Republicans.
This confirms my belief that the politicians with their special interest groups are destroying America. Some others were pardoned to help Hillary get campaign money. The politicians are more interested in groups that can put them over the top, to be elected, regardless of what the majority of our citizens want.
This book will open your eyes into the Clintons, as well as what is the strategy used today to get the vote to be elected. I'm sure glad my son bought me this book

5-0 out of 5 stars Good Read.
I just finished this book and it is well written. From a man who has known the Clinton's for over 25 years, has good reason to write such a book. Anyone who cannot see Hillarys' web must read this book and find out her true self. ... Read more


71. She Said Yes : The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall
by Misty Bernall
list price: $5.99
our price: $5.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743400526
Catlog: Book (2000-09-01)
Publisher: Pocket
Sales Rank: 12150
Average Customer Review: 4.31 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"One of the most gripping stories to come out of the shooting at Columbine High School"

is told in the acclaimed national bestseller that illuminates the most remarkable aspect of 17-year-old Cassie Bernall's tragic death: her life.

She Said Yes is an "intense and fascinating memoir" (Publishers Weekly) of an ordinary teenager growing up in suburban Colorado, and faced -- as all teenagers are -- with difficult choices and pressures. It is only now, when the world knows Cassie Bernall as one of the Columbine High students killed by two rampaging schoolmates, that the choices she made offer a profound relevance for us all. Once a rage-filled young woman who walked a path similar to that of her killers, Cassie found a way out of her personal snares and, through her faith and a family's love, chose to embrace life with courage and conviction.

Told with unflinching honesty by her mother, Misty Bernall, Cassie's story is "a profoundly human story that should be read by every parent and every teenager" (New York Post). ... Read more

Reviews (349)

5-0 out of 5 stars Uplifting, Moving and Enlightening Story
I, personally, do not care whther or not Cassie actually said "Yes." First off, I don't think that that's the purpose for these reviews, and secondly, if you've read the book, it's obviously about so much more than the fact that Cassie said Yes when asked if she believed in God.

Misty Bernall and her family have been through so much, and I admire her for being so willing to share her and Cassie's story with us. This book has touched me as it has many others. It's just mean and cruel to suggest that Misty was trying to capitalize on her daughter's death. I don't think any mother could do that.

Misty tells of Cassie's early years, and then explains to readers how Cassie got involved with the "wrong crowd", dabbling in witchcraft, obsessing over death, and exchanging obscene and frightening letters with her friends, which Cassie's parents found in her bedroom. Fearing "losing" Cassie, her parents clamped down on her, and struggled with the anger and depression of the daughter they dearly loved. Then Misty tells of Cassie's "About face", how she met a friend at Private school who turned her life around through YOuth Group and just simple, plain companionship.

We all know what happened to Cassie. But it's not ABOUT what happened at Columbine. It's about the touching story of someone who was living completely for God during a time in her life when it extremely hard to do it. And Cassie tryed to keep a positive attitude even though she was struggling with adolescence, and she was touchingly unselfish.

Cassie's story isn't about whther or not she said Yes. Misty even says so (to an extent) in the last chapters of her book. Cassie's story is about a teenager who found herself and how from a dark, oppresed teen who wrote about murdering her parents emerged a changed person who, by a horrible tragedy, became an example for us all.

And I don't think Cassie or Misty or the Bernalls want celebrity status. Still, this book has been an extremely uplifting one, and I am motivated to be more like Cassie was.

I think everyone should read this book, because it will both make smile and make you cry..it tugs on your heartstrings. A truly touching story...worth the time to read.

5-0 out of 5 stars a stolen life
This book is very different and unique experience to indulge into. The tales of a young girls' struggle to fight for her freedom, peace, and happiness ironically loses it after an amazing turning point. The overall theme being a parents love for a child that was destined for an untimely road. This book gave detailed accounts of this seventeen-year-old girls life and how it was so brutally taken away for her, months before graduation. Overall, the book makes the reader get physically in touch with his/her feelings and have a greater appreciation for the people involved in ones life and how little time you have to enjoy it.
I was interested in the book mainly because of the title, catchy. And to seemingly curious minds it some how makes you want to find out what she said "yes" to. This book is an excellent book to read if there are questions in ones mind on "why should I live?" mainly seeking to find the troubled suicidal teens. This book is captivating because it makes you feel a world of emotions such as: sorrow, pain, joy and lastly...love. Love stands out as the main theme in this book because through love uncontrollable minds are controlled, the untamed spirit, tamed and finally the ferocious teen within is the gentle, hearty, wholesome person you raised to be your own.
Reading this book not only made me realize all the things I should be thankful for, but it allowed me to see myself for who I really am and the possible traits I can change to be a better person for my family and friends. Reading this book also gave me a greater appreciation for life and how I should be grateful for gaining another day.

5-0 out of 5 stars She Said Yes
She Said yes is a interesting book. It's about a girl named Cassie Bernall and she went to school one day and little did she know, she was about to be a muder victim. Her mother, Misty Bernall, tell about how Cassie's Life was and the things she did. You HAVE you read this to learn more!

1-0 out of 5 stars Face Facts
After reading this book from beginning to end, I have only one word to describe it: trash.
First, no one is positive if Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold asked Cassie Bernall if she believed in God, as with Rachel Scott. They could have asked her anything, it doesn't matter, they were determined to shoot her. If they had asked her her favorite color, her mother would have titled the book "She said red."
Secondly, a few years before the shootings, Cassie was involved in such sinister activities that her parents made her switch schools to Columbine, sealing her fate. She was into the same music (Marilyn Manson and Rammstein), movies (bloody and gory), and sinister activites (witchcraft and satansim) that Harris and Klebold were later. This goes to prove these things have nothing to do to make you shoot your classmates.
This book has scarce information about 4/20. Instead, it is a memoir of Bernall's life, from birth to death, seen in her parent's eyes. The only reason I even give this book one star is because the first chapter gives an account of April 20th in Cassie's parents eyes. It made me stop to think what it would be like to loose your child to a senseless tragedy, where you think they are safe the most- at their school.

5-0 out of 5 stars a stolen life
nicole, a mayfair high school senior, June 1, 2004,
a stolen life
This book was a very different and unique experience to indulge into. The tales of a young girls struggle to fight for her freedom, peace, and happiness ironically loses it after an amazing turning point. The overall theme being a parents love for a child that was destined for an untimely road. This book gave detailed accounts of this 17 year old girls life and how it was so brutally taken away from her, months before graduation. Overall, the book makes the reader get physically in touch with his/her feelings and have a greater appreciation for the people involved in ones life and how little time you have to enjoy it. ... Read more


72. Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation
by JOSEPH J. ELLIS
list price: $26.95
our price: $16.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375405445
Catlog: Book (2000-10-17)
Publisher: Knopf
Sales Rank: 2244
Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com's Best of 2001

In retrospect, it seems as if the American Revolution was inevitable. But was it? In Founding Brothers, Joseph J. Ellis reveals that many of those truths we hold to be self-evident were actually fiercely contested in the early days of the republic.

Ellis focuses on six crucial moments in the life of the new nation, including a secret dinner at which the seat of the nation's capital was determined--in exchange for support of Hamilton's financial plan; Washington's precedent-setting Farewell Address; and the Hamilton and Burr duel. Most interesting, perhaps, is the debate (still dividing scholars today) over the meaning of the Revolution. In a fascinating chapter on the renewed friendship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson at the end of their lives, Ellis points out the fundamental differences between the Republicans, who saw the Revolution as a liberating act and hold the Declaration of Independence most sacred, and the Federalists, who saw the revolution as a step in the building of American nationhood and hold the Constitution most dear. Throughout the text, Ellis explains the personal, face-to-face nature of early American politics--and notes that the members of the revolutionary generation were conscious of the fact that they were establishing precedents on which future generations would rely.

In Founding Brothers, Ellis (whose American Sphinx won the National Book Award for nonfiction in 1997) has written an elegant and engaging narrative, sure to become a classic. Highly recommended. --Sunny Delaney ... Read more

Reviews (281)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Look at the One of the Most Important Decades - 1790's
Joseph J. Ellis' richly (and deservedly) rewarded book, Founding Brothers (The Revolutionary Generation), looks at six important events that helped form the stable government of the United States after the war for independence and the intellectual wars over the creation of the constitution had ended and before a new generation took up the mantle of state. The period was primarily the 1790's, one of the richest decades in American history from which to mine and the author does a great job of finding and presenting some prime historical nuggets. It is fascinating to see this band of brothers who fought a war divide themselves slowly into ideological camps that then transformed over the decade into parties while still preserving the precarious union that they all created without the shedding of blood, the Burr-Hamilton duel notwithstanding. Adams comes out the best and Jefferson the worst in the narrative as many historians are swinging that direction lately but this will change again, showing that the debates raging in the 1790's are still raging in the history books today. The reconciliation of these two friends is the most touching and noble section of the the book. This is a lively and enlightening read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Founding fathers & political rivals in newborn Republic
This book is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for good reason. Author Joseph J. Ellis offers intimate portraits of our nation's founding fathers and also a vivid view of the political rivals in our newborn Republic. Ellis is a terrific writer. History comes alive in this stirring narrative...the action starts in the opening pages with the most famous duel in American history and ends in the final chapter with a glowing review of the fued/friendship between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

John Adams, Aaron Burr, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington are examined in great detail by Ellis. Adams "enlightened diplomacy" negotiated a critical peace treaty with France. Burr is an opportunist and manipulator who was never forgiven for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Franklin, (who is not given the same attention as others) is a scientific genius who uses the press to attack political enemies, particularly those who were advocates of slavery.

Hamilton restored public credit but also nurtured power for the commercial elite at the expense of the large landowners. Jefferson is the brilliant author of the Declaration of Independance. Madison's nickname in Congress is "Big Knive" for his ability to cut up opposition to legislation he sponsors. And Washington is the "American Untouchable," a great horseman and pragmatic military man who is clearly not as well read as other leaders of his generation but becomes by far the greatest legend among the people. The combined talents of the founding fathers provided the intellectual energy that allowed our nation to survive.

Ellis is a talented writer, impressive researcher and a towering patriot. Highly recommended.

Bert Ruiz

1-0 out of 5 stars A hash job
Ellis makes it clear from the start where his sympathies lie with the Revolutionary generation and he ambushes us with Abigail Adams for good measure. Of the six stories, only The Silence is revealing for Ellis' feeble attempt to portray the slavery debate as a South-against-South issue. He lavishes attention on a hillbilly from Georgia simply to whitewash a Virginian like Jefferson, who in fact held the same, if not worse, attitudes about his slaves (all conveniently ignored by Ellis). Hamilton was the closest as any of these founding brothers came to believing that blacks and whites were equal and his financial system doomed slavery in a way Adams and his fine rhetoric could never hope to, but he barely rates a mention.

1-0 out of 5 stars I just had to put this in.
I've been reading reviews for this book and I notice that they are all 5 stars. Fine. I like stars. But. No one has mentioned (at least no one that I can see) how totally and utterly boring this book is. Now, this might be because I have to read it for Honors English, but I don't think it is.

Unless you are a major history buff and can handle gems like this: It goes without saying that Alexander Hamilton's understanding of the issues raised by his fiscal program, and the Virginia-writ-large squadrons that were mobilizing south of the Potomac to oppose it, was blissfully free of all the Madisonian ambiguities." And that was the first sentence I opened to.

Just be warned, while this book might be good, it's boring.

5-0 out of 5 stars Get inside the heads of the Founding Brothers
Joseph J. Ellis knew that he wanted to write a book that wouldn't crush you to death if you fell asleep under it. Library shelves are full of large ponderous historical volumes that, let's face it, hardly anyone reads. Ellis has turned his historical microscope on a handful of key individuals and moments and the result is a very satisfying read.

This book made me understand what was going on in the minds of the individuals involved better than any history I'd previous read.

The book begins with the fatal duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, often a simple paragraph in many history books. In Ellis' work we get a sense of not only actually being present during the duel itself, but also inside the minds of both men in the months leading up to the event. It seems incredible today to think that the Vice President of the United States killed the Secretary of the Treasury in a duel, but Ellis brings the event back to life in a way more vivid than any I'd previously experienced.

With a similarly knowing eye, the book looks at a landmark dinner held by Thomas Jefferson in which the decision to move the nation's capital to the Potomac was made in exchange for support for Alexander Hamilton's financial plan. A most enlightening chapter looks at the first significant debate after the Constitutional Convention on the subject of the future of Slavery, precipitated by the leader of the Pennsylvania Assembly - Benjamin Franklin. We get to see the context of George Washington's Farewell Address. John Adams is featured frequently in the book. There is a chapter detailing the long and mutually supportive relationship between John and Abigail Adams, then the final chapter describes the rekindling of the friendship between Adams and Jefferson four decades after the Revolution. This chapter contrasts essentially the two views that have existed ever since about the *meaning* of the Revolution and of the Founding of the United States.

Although they were miles apart, both geographically and idealogically, Adams and Jefferson kept alive a friendship and mutual respect that would serve as a wonderful model for politicians ever since. ... Read more


73. Girl Meets God : A Memoir
by Lauren F. Winner
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812970802
Catlog: Book (2003-12-30)
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Sales Rank: 6589
Average Customer Review: 4.18 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The child of a Jewish father and a lapsed Southern Baptist mother, Lauren F. Winner chose to become an Orthodox Jew. But even as she was observing Sabbath rituals and studying Jewish law, Lauren was increasingly drawn to Christianity. Courageously leaving what she loved, she eventually converted. In Girl Meets God, this appealing woman takes us through a year in her Christian life as she attempts to reconcile both sides of her religious identity.
Here readers will find a new literary voice: a spiritual seeker who is both an unconventional thinker and a devoted Christian. The twists and turns of Winner’s journey make her the perfect guide to exploring true faith in today’s complicated world.

Lauren F. Winner, the former book editor for Beliefnet, has appeared on PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly and has written for The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post Book World, Publishers Weekly, and Christianity Today. Her essays have been included in The Best Christian Writing 2000 and The Best Christian Writing 2002. Winner has degrees from Columbia and Cambridge universities and is currently at work on her doc-torate in the history of American religion. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars Winner's Thoughtful Book is a Captivating Read
How does a woman passionate about the Jewish faith suddenly find Jesus? "I have spent my whole life...seeking God," writes Lauren Winner, and here, a 20-something, self-confessed "boy crazy, pointy-headed academic" shares the quirky path of her spiritual journey from Judaism to Christianity in this compelling book. As she unfolds her spiritual pilgrimage, she acknowledges "A literature scholar would say there are too many 'ruptures' in the 'narrative.' But she might also say that ruptures are the most interesting part of any text, that in the ruptures we learn something new." Her story, with all its "ruptures," makes for absorbing reading.

As the child of a Reform Jewish father and a lapsed Southern Baptist mother, Winner grew up with both a Christmas tree and a menorah. Her parents raised her in the Jewish faith, and she details how she embraced Orthodox Judaism in college. "But, gradually my Judaism broke," she writes.

Although Winner is a scholar, with degrees from Columbia and Cambridge universities, she found the spark for her conversion to Christianity in a surprising book: After reading AT HOME IN MITFORD by Jan Karon, "I thought, 'I want what they have,' " she admits somewhat abashedly. She found herself "courted by a very determined carpenter from Nazareth," one who haunted her dreams.

This conversion, just several years after her former wholehearted conversion to Orthodox Judaism, caused some acquaintances to be skeptical that Christianity would stick: they wondered aloud if she would convert again to something else. And indeed Winner, like most honest Christians, finds that as much as she is at home now in her new faith, she is still plagued by doubt: "Sometimes, lately, I feel a sort of sinking staleness...this isn't working, I don't believe this Christian thing anymore, this is just some crazy fix I've been on...." But she also realizes about her Christianity that "How to fall in love is not, now, what I need to learn. What I need to learn, maybe what God wants me to learn, is the long grind after you've landed."

It is in the "long grind" that Winner finds she cannot divorce Judaism, hard as she tries: giving away and selling her Jewish library, eating forbidden foods, trading in her Hebrew prayer book for the Episcopal BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER. When you convert, Winner writes, you lose all sorts of things: your vocabulary, your prayers, and many special relationships. As Winner tries to adapt to the Christian liturgical calendar, she finds her life still flowing in the rhythms of the Jewish holidays. Even as she gives away the trappings of her Jewish life, she finds she has not given up the way she sees the world, or the Jewish words she knew for God.

With resolve, it seems, to master every aspect of her new faith, Winner grapples with all of its accoutrements: confession, giving up reading for Lent, finding a church, taking the Eucharist, trying to be chaste. She puzzles over the idea of "speaking in tongues"; struggles with prayer ("I have a hard time praying. It feels, usually, like a waste of time"). Most compelling are her clear-eyed observations of her own shortcomings as she grows in her Christianity and her willingness to be vulnerable with the reader. She refuses to sugarcoat her experiences; rather, she offers frank and perceptive commentary on how real faith --- Jewish or Christian --- looks, with all its bumps and bruises. As she plumbs the rituals and disciplines of both faiths, there is the unspoken invitation to Christians to examine the Jewish roots of their beliefs.

Her rebuilding of her Jewish library metaphorically shows her burgeoning realization that she can welcome her Jewishness as it shapes how she sees Christianity, how she reads the Bible, how she thinks about Jesus --- and that this is the way forward.

Winner's thoughtful book, full of the longing, doubt, humor and poignancy that can accompany a search for God, is a captivating read and builds bridges for dialogue for all readers, no matter what their faith.

--- Reviewed by Cindy Crosby

5-0 out of 5 stars Many things, but not a teen book
Girl Meets God is difficult to categorize because it is several books in one. It is a personal memoir, a devotional book, a study of the sad tension between Judaism and Christianity, a commentary on Scripture, a reflection on sacrament and liturgy, a look at the often slow process of conversion, and a celebration of reading (the author being a confirmed bookaholic).

An unlikely book to pick up-you're likely to find it wrongly placed in the Teen section of your bookstore-yet hard to put down. Winner's first effort (a second, Mudhouse Sabbath, is about Jewish traditions) offers brilliant spiritual insight throughout. A sign of a good book is when you keep thinking about it after you put it down. If the adage that readers make good writers is true, it applies here. Winner is a gifted wordsmith and wise beyond her youth. The pace is happily fragmented, not always chronological, spiritual, and down-to-earth at the same time.

Winner is a free-thinker, so her writing departs from the typical style of devotional books. Her story reinforces the truism that believers are works-in-progress, and God's steady inward grace is on display as she shares her faults, struggles, and lessons learned on her journey. "My life is like a disciple's nap in Gethsemene." She lives with a distinctly Hebraic-tinged grace: "I hadn't given up the shape in which I saw the world, or the words I knew for God, and those shapes and words were mostly Jewish."

The daughter of a Jewish father and a Christian mother, and raised Jewish, Winner learned that she had to formally convert to Judaism, which she did...but gradually she is drawn to Jesus and another conversion. Winner wasn't entirely embraced by the Jewish community (yet I wonder if those who rejected her knew as much about Judaism), which perhaps was a factor that led her to Jesus, although she makes it clear that her faith came not by one influence or event but rather by many factors.

Another amazon.com reviewer calls Lauren Winner the perfect dinner guest. She is without question someone who would provide a substantive discussion of life, books, faith, and struggle. Trained at Columbia and Cambridge universities, and a contributing editor for Christianity Today, she is now pursuing her Doctorate. The title and cover may be mistaken for a teen devotional, but this is a book for serious Christian disciples and devout Jews who may want to consider Winner's love affair with both Orthodox Judaism and Christianity.

4-0 out of 5 stars Winsome
Lauren Winner strikes me as the kind of person who could be the ultimate dinner guest. She's young and energetic, interested and interesting, together and a mess, mature and girlish, saint and sinner. For such a young lady she is incredibly well read and knows all kinds of things about all kinds of topics. If her writing style is any indication she has an abundance of charm, and she is opinionated enough to be provocative and self-effacing enough to be humble.

This book is her tale of walking into Orthodox Judaism, out of it to Christianity, and her attempts to synthesize some elements of her Jewish background with her newfound faith in Christ.

The story is valuable to Christians simply for the insight it gives into Judaism. Lauren was a convert to Judaism, she wasn't born in an orthodox Jewish household. Thus, she became an orthodox Jew by conviction, and through much study. She didn't merely adopt the ways of the Jewish faith in an unthinking manner, she studied it in depth and adopted it throughout the process of a long intellectual and spiritual struggle.

A similar thing happened with her conversion to Christ. Through a period of study and a series of events she felt Christ calling her. As, little by little, she came to believe that Christ was real and that He had truly come in the flesh, she found herself irresistably drawn to Christ.

None of us can ever escape our own biases when reading something and I can't escape mine in reading this account. Lauren came into the branch of Christianity known as the Episcopal Church. As one who is from the Reformed tradition, I would wish that in her journey to Christianity she had continued all the way to Geneva, and not stopped in London. I recoil at her use of icons in worship. She seems to me to rely too heavily on the Book of Common Prayer, and not the Bible. So, I doubt that I will wholeheartedly recommend this as an evangelistic tract, simply because she doesn't "speak my language." Yet, I do recommend it to the discerning reader of a wonderfully honest, earthy story of the struggles involved in one person's journey to faith.

Also, one of the benefits of this book is that she is just so well read. She understands the nuances of the different evangelical subcultures, talks intelligently about historical events in the church and raises important theological topics. Although she doesn't always come down on my side of things she talks intelligentl about them all. If nothing else, this book is a testament to the value of reading in a person's life. She is very young and yet very well rounded, and this well-roundedness can only be explained by her voracious appetite for reading. One of my favorite anecdotes in the book is her story of how her mother used to have some kind of obligation she had to attend each week. Her mother would take Lauren, with her, give her $5.00 and send her to the pizza place next door and tell her to get something to eat. Trouble is, there was a bookstore right there to. So, Lauren says that she was faced with her weekly dilemma of whether or not to eat dinner or buy a book - I love it.

It's a good book and I can enthusiastically recommend it, with the aforementioned caveats.

5-0 out of 5 stars Challenging
Excellent book! Ms. Winner is a complex, highly intellegent woman whose writing kept me engrossed in her journey to Christianity via Judaism. Spiritually, she challenged me to examine my beliefs about god and Christianity, and though I didn't always agree with her rather black and white view of how to be a good Christian or Episcopalian, I always admired her for her belief and for striving to achieve that unatainable ideal.

5-0 out of 5 stars a book about a search
I was inspired intellectually when I read this book. I am amazed at how a girl can grow up searching for God without being influenced by pop culture. Her main outlets in life were through church and reading even as a young girl. My opinion is that the author is someone very special and allows me to aspire to have more of her qualities. ... Read more


74. The Real Jimmy Carter: How Our Worst Ex-President Undermines American Foreign Policy, Coddles Dictators and Created the Party of Clinton and Kerry
by Steven F. Hayward
list price: $27.95
our price: $27.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0895260905
Catlog: Book (2004-05-01)
Publisher: Regnery Publishing
Sales Rank: 139959
Average Customer Review: 3.38 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (34)

1-0 out of 5 stars hayward and dan quale: 2 sides of the same phony coin
when former vp dan 'potatoe' quale heard that former president jimmy carter was being sent by the president bill clinton to negotiate peace talks, all mr quale could say was ' hes just trying to win a nobel peace prize'. hayward is of the same ulra right mentality. his previous book which practically cannonized ronald reagan, completely ignored the reagan regime's 'suprise' release of the hostages on the eve of reagans inaguration and the whole of reagans activites in the iran contra hearings. hell, hayward even negelected to mention that reagan once coddled with joseph mccarthy and turned many 'suspect commuinists in to the house unamerican committe and destroyed many lives.
of course hayward likens carter to the 'despicable' clinton and kerry and worships at the feet of dubya; the most radical extreme militant right wing president in history.
instead hayward goes after that 'softie' carter.
for a man supposeldy having liberal ulterior motives carter 's forming of 'habitat for the humanities' seems perplexing. of course hayward doesnt go there.
instead he echoes the sentiments of possibly the dumbest vp in history; dan quale (who began his illustrious career in the senate with this: he was running against birch bayh and ran a plethora of tv ads portraying bayh as lazy and uncaring about his constituants. his evidence in these ads? well bayh had missed more days in the senate in the previous year than any other senator. of course quales ads forgot to mention that bayhs wife was at home dying of cancer during that previous year. so what did dan family values quale criticze bayh for? for having family values.
the unpardonable hypocricy of the conservative party is blatantly obvious in types like hayward, quale and the bushs and they scream vehemently ugly accusations whenever a liberal like carter or clinton or kerry makes an attempt towards change.
but progress is inevitable and when the smoke clears and history has its say clinton and carter will go down as two leaders who strived for humanitarian progress

1-0 out of 5 stars Shameful Book from a man without Honor
I have a real problem with these types of authors and character assassins. These are people that live in the shadows, finding fault with others. If you want to be critical of a public figure that is fine. However, to go at it with such a hate-filled diatribe, what is your problem. Jimmy Carter was not the greatest President ever, but he was 1000X more honorable than Ronald Reagan. No, he did not trade arms with Islamic extremists to get hostages back or supply cocaine traficking rebels in Central America, like Reagan. What he tried to do was serve with honor and make the US a more honorable place. And the career politicians tore him up for it. How dare you, Hayward! I suppose Mr. Carter could have just charged a trillion dollars worth of spending to remedy the economy, but he knew that would come back to haunt us later. Mr. Carter wanted real solutions, not quick fixes like Reagan. And by the way, Hayward, what about those Marines that died in Lebanon? What reaction was there of Reagan? He cut and ran, like the coward he was.

4-0 out of 5 stars Short, But Entertaining and Accurate
This book could be better as a "book". This is an interesting book and the idea is good, but the contents do not exactly match the advertising and book jacket - plus it is very short. The text on the cover of the book implies that the book is about the former President Carter and his mostly unwelcome meddling in foreign affairs since 1980.

But that it not exactly what the book is about. As acknowledged by the author on page 233 this book is really just a short biography of Carter just 193 pages long to bring younger readers up to speed on Carter to the year 1980, and this covers all of Carter's life to that point in time including his runs in Georgia. The same or similar biographies are available elsewhere in a number of lengthy books. What is new here is an added further 38 pages in the final three chapters about Carter post 1980 and his mistakes in foreign affairs - to bring the book to 231 pages plus notes and comments.

So the book is short, does not match the advertising and hype for the book, but still the book is interesting and a good read.

The concept for the book is great and long overdue. The author obviously has a strong negative bias - but he is not writing fiction - the facts speak for themselves and they are not pretty. Many things such as Carter's help at Habitat for Humanity have been exemplary, along with acting as an election monitor and fighting disease in the third world. These are clearly acknowledged in the book and are well known. If Carter had stopped there he might have been the greatest former president.

But he has not had the self control to stop with good works. He has undertaken at best what can be described as a misguided and ill conceived foreign policy interefence of both democratic and republican administrations, from Reagan to Clinton, to Bush, and I stress all administrations post 1980. He has made a series of solo trips largely against the wishes of the US government, befriended tyrants, accepted cash from the likes of BCCI, encouraged the PLO, and attempted to broker peace deals on his own but portraying himself as a US government agent. The Carter story is bleak and hidden behind much false PR and Carter's ego and his inability to let go of his short time in power (1976-1979), especially in foreign affairs.

I found particularly funny the inside joke (in the book) that in the Clinton administration that the leader of North Korea died of laughter after signing an agreement with Carter over nuclear weapons. That pretty well sums up the situation.

One is left shaking one's head in amazement and one really must ask the question: what is he doing? He has fooled Mandela and others and won his Nobel prize. But sadly after 24 years out of power he believes his own PR and propaganda. If he would just stick to charities, the third world, and the homeless he would be great.

Good read but just 3 or 4 stars as a book, maybe 3.5 stars.

Jack in Toronto

1-0 out of 5 stars Lesser Person Trying To Bring Down A Great Person
You know things are bad, when Stephen Haywood, an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) man, has to take a hatchet to the Noble Peace Prize winner, James Earl Carter. I never experience America so divide... I wonder where it all will lead?

But the AEI, with the likes of James Woolsey, Richard Perle, Henry Kissinger and other et al neocons who believe that the new world order must includes preemptive attacks/wars around the globe, make yours and my foreign policy, rather than the US Senate and then complain when Mr. Carter tries to affect global change by strengthening democratic institutions/health care, in a nonviolent fashion.

I read the book, but I just don't buy it!

1-0 out of 5 stars He's preaching to the choir - but what about the rest of us?
The United States has had several 'bad' presidents, ranging from the corrupt (Nixon, Grant) to the inept (Andrew Johnson) to the inefficient (Harding, Harrison). So when I picked up this book and saw the hyperbole of the subtitle, I immediately decided that the author had better make a good case for why he considered Jimmy Carter not simply a 'bad' president, but the 'worst'

Unfortunately this book happens to be short on insight and long on venom. It's decent if you're preaching to the choir, but those looking for a fair and legitimate argument would be best off going elsewhere. Although Hayward does acknowlege some of Carter's achievements for charity, such as Habitat for Humanity, he derides any good that came out of Camp David, the peace talks, etc and consistently chooses to assign only the worst, most calculating speculations towards Carter's motives. Hayward also ignores that some of his charges towards Carter may be levelled against each and every president that has ever sat in the Oval office. For example, he lashes Carter for negotiating with and 'coddling' dictators. However, this can also said about Reagan (South Africa and Apartheid, Gorbachev), Nixon (the China talks), Roosevelt (ignoring the rise of Hitler), Bush Jr (Negotiations with North Korea). Negotiations and compromise - what Hayward calls 'coddling' is part of being a skilled politician

Hayward also fails to discuss both the pros and cons of Carter's policies, refusing to analyze whether the peace talks in Korea suceeded in delaying the rise of nuclear weapon development and the climate of optimism and hope that was briefly created from the talks in th Middle East. He also complains that Carter has 'undermined US foreign policy' but fails to make a good case for why. US foreign policy is constantly evolving and Carter worked FOR it as ambassador during the Clinton Years. Finally, he fails to analyze Carter the man and understand him with all the faults, virtues and contradictions that any person has. Hayward judges Carter as a man with a mean streak by the company Carter keeps and citing particular incidents in which Carter acted petty and/or self-centered. But where is the balance? How did Carter then develop a reputation for kind-heartedness and integrity? Saying that he 'got a pass from the liberal media' is not a good argument, it's prejudiced and just plain lazy. All presidents have contradictions and complications - Reagan 'the family man' whose relationship with his own family was tenuous at best, Freedom advocate and slaveholder Jefferson -where's the complete picture of Carter the man?

Anyone who has ever done a research paper knows that in order to make a good case, you must present the facts, analyze them and then present your conclusion. This book starts out with the conclusion, then concentrates on presenting facts that support its conclusions and any study that approaches its subject in this manner must be taken with a pound of salt. I could make a very good case for why Jesus Christ was one of the most inept leaders to ever live, were I to ignore all he achieved and instead concentrate on the high mortality rate of his disciples, the 'calculating nature' of his actions and how he 'undermined' the Old Testament by encouraging us to forgive rather than judge. Would it be convincing? Perhaps, but it would not be fair, conclusive or comprehensive. The same goes for this book - the author should have just printed up a pamphlet instead - his agenda would have seemed more honest ... Read more


75. In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices from Wall Street to Washington
by Robert E. Rubin, Jacob Weisberg
list price: $35.00
our price: $22.05
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375505857
Catlog: Book (2003-11-18)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 7118
Average Customer Review: 4.14 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Robert Rubin was sworn in as the seventieth U.S. Secretary of the Treasury in January 1995 in a brisk ceremony attended only by his wife and a few colleagues. As soon as the ceremony was over, he began an emergency meeting with President Bill Clinton on the financial crisis in Mexico. This was not only a harbinger of things to come during what would prove to be a rocky period in the global economy; it also captured the essence of Rubin himself--short on formality, quick to get into the nitty-gritty.

From his early years in the storied arbitrage department at Goldman Sachs to his current position as chairman of the executive committee of Citigroup, Robert Rubin has been a major figure at the center of the American financial system. He was a key player in the longest economic expansion in U.S. history. With In an Uncertain World, Rubin offers a shrewd, keen analysis of some of the most important events in recent American history and presents a clear, consistent approach to thinking about markets and dealing with the new risks of the global economy.

Rubin's fundamental philosophy is that nothing is provably certain. Probabilistic thinking has guided his career in both business and government. We see that discipline at work in meetings with President Clinton and Hillary Clinton, Chinese premier Zhu Rongji, Alan Greenspan, Lawrence Summers, Newt Gingrich, Sanford Weill, and the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan. We see Rubin apply it time and again while facing financial crises in Asia, Russia, and Brazil; the federal government shutdown; the rise and fall of the stock market; the challenges of the post-September 11 world; the ongoing struggle over fiscal policy; and many other momentous economic and political events.

With a compelling and candid voice and a sharp eye for detail, Rubin portrays the daily life of the White House-confronting matters both mighty and mundane--as astutely as he examines the challenges that lie ahead for the nation. Part political memoir, part prescriptive economic analysis, and part personal look at business problems, In an Uncertain World is a deep examination of Washington and Wall Street by a figure who for three decades has been at the center of both worlds.
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Reviews (29)

4-0 out of 5 stars Superior Washington Memoirs
This book is a thoughtful retelling of Robert Rubin's life on Wall Street and in government. The centerpiece is the account of Rubin's career in the Clinton Administration when, as director of the National Economic Council and then Secretary of the Treasury, he grappled with huge federal deficits and financial crises in Mexico and Asia. Early chapters describe his youth, Ivy League education, and career at Goldman Sachs; other chapters offer musings on subjects such as corporate governance, the financial excesses of the 1990s, global poverty, and the difficulty of educating the public on economics.

Throughout Rubin reflects on his analysis-driven, "probabilistic" approach to decision-making, which carefully weighs the upside as well as the downside of decisions taken under conditions of uncertainty. The tone of the book is low-key and balanced, and the economic discussions are clear and non-technical. Rubin's writing may not sparkle but he does have a gift for anecdotes and for wry, self-deprecating humor. He deflates faddish "new economy" gurus on Wall Street and tax-cutting theologians in the GOP without resorting to ad hominem remarks. In a strange way, his book is almost inspirational: it reminds readers that not too long ago the United States had a government that weighed evidence and considered options before taking fateful decisions.

I gave "In An Uncertain World" four stars (instead of five) because, in the last analysis, Rubin really is discreet to a fault: readers (and historians) would have benefited from a much fuller discussion of his relationship with Bill Clinton and from more details on policy differences and debates within the Clinton Administration. Maybe Rubin held his tongue because he hopes to re-enter public life in a future Democratic Administration. Or maybe he's just a classy guy.

3-0 out of 5 stars Nice Guy Finishes First (but Doesn't Write a Great Book)
Rubin begins in media res-on the evening after he was sworn in as Treasury Secretary-with a gripping story of how the Clinton administration handled the Mexican currency crisis. His memoir has three phases: his twenty six years spent at Goldman Sachs that culminated in a co-Chairman role, his six years serving under the Clinton administration, and his return to private life as a sort of consigliere at Citigroup. Most of the book, of course, recalls the Clinton years (i.e., 1992-99, where he went from head of the National Economic Council to Treasury Secretary) and they consist largely as a series of budgetary battles, public relations trials, and averted currency crises.

Rubin likes to "tell" almost as much as he likes to "show," so the themes aren't all that hard to find. First, clearly this is a treatise on, and justification of, the importance of probabilistic decision-making in an increasingly complex, interdependent world. And with nary a number, he repeatedly demonstrates a key weakness of traditional market models: they are not able to incorporate the potentially devastating impacts of certain events which are extremely unlikely to occur, but nevertheless are possible (e.g., what if the U.S. government defaulted on its debt?).

Second, politics is yucky business. Here is where I was most fascinated. Rubin manages to paint his political life as much more difficult and challenging than any of his private sector roles. This is virtually a unanimous verdict, as I read it, stretching from the expected (e.g., government strains to serve multiple, conflicting objectives while business ultimately gets to serve only the profit master) to the counter-intuitive (e.g., he apparently had a better work-life balance at Goldman). On important questions-in this book and in his speaking-he likes to divide the issue into a "substantive" piece and a "political" piece, tackling them separately.

Third, this is a modern day Aesop's fable, specifically the one where "nice guys finish first." By finishing first I mean to say that he amassed $100+ million along the way (not in the book, but elsewhere documented) and ended up at Citigroup without direct line responsibility! But seriously, you can see why even Rubin's critics respected him. He is possessed of humility ("anyone who has done well will acknowledge the enormous role played by chance"), candor ("I had no interest in becoming polished at television appearances, nor I suspect the capability to do that"), wisdom, and unbelievably good manners. For example, he was clearly wounded by ad hominem attacks during the 1995 budget fight (in particular, Newt Gingrich has a reoccurring nemesis role, calling Rubin "untrustworthy" on television), but when it comes to personal retorts, Rubin can only manage to praise Gingrich for his understanding of the dimensions of the Mexican crisis.

Finally, experience has led Rubin to believe that it is almost impossible to help ordinary voters understand the complexities of fiscal and foreign policy. He illustrates this expertly when he reviews his role in the debate around Bush's tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, where he dishearteningly cannot find a succinct way to warn of the long-term consequences of a structural deficit in the face of politically resonant messages that attach to tax cuts and spending increasing. He does find a terrific analogy in global warming: no one person experiences current suffering, but there is a small chance that inaction will hurt everybody gravely at some future time.

I wanted to give five stars, having really looked forward to this book. But as a literary work, the book does not reach the greatness of the man. It is ironic that Rubin, who excels at self-deprecating candor, reveals so little that is particularly new or insightful considering that he ran one of the most mysterious, successful organizations (Goldman) ever created; held a catbird seat in the Clinton administration; and is uniquely qualified to opine on the lessons of the raging bull market of the 1990s. The virtue of humility, alas, often makes his achievements appear all too easily-won. His favorite management technique appears to be taking interview notes on a legal pad (it is really endearing the first couple or few times but eventually...).

Perhaps because they are especially memorable, he spends too much time introspecting on his transitions; e.g., virtually all of Chapter Eleven is about him stepping down from Treasury and figuring out where to go next. Oh the agony, but you can skip this chapter and I'll summarize: it's a lot like your last job change, but Sandy Weil is trying to sell you instead of some slimy headhunter. Also, I don't think you should buy the book for the "Rubin Doctrine." These principles are sort of like the Ten Commandments (Number 9: never let your rhetoric commit you to something you cannot deliver...translation: don't make promises you can't keep). You will recognize them, as they are important clich├ęs. It's not so much you need to read them, as politicians need to follow them.

I was disappointed by the lengthy and expected discussion of the rise and precipitous fall of the stock market. Forget the Monica Lewinski admission, the real scandal in this book is that Rubin adds virtually nothing to the stock market discussion beyond the familiar refrain of pent up imbalances that inevitably had to unwind (to his credit, he pretty much confesses as such). He cites the usual culprits, including profitless dotcoms and myopic investors. If you are looking information which is helpful to investing, you won't find much here. But Rubin totally redeems himself in Chapter Thirteen, to my mind easily the best chapter in the book, where he expertly explains both the politics and substance of fiscal policy. This Chapter is worth the price of the book

3-0 out of 5 stars Watch out for the Big Lie
Watch out for the Big Lie in this book -- namely, that the Bush administration tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 are responsible for the current budget deficit. The tax cut in 2001 was enacted under a perceived government surplus, while the tax cut in 2003 was driven by the faltering economy. Democrats faced with a budget surplus or a recession would have chosen to increase spending rather than cut taxes. Either way, with the internet bubble bursting and the 2001 WTC attack, the surplus would have disappeared and the deficit would have ballooned. Rubin's assertion that the tax cuts are responsible for the budget deficit is a Big Lie.

I am upset about this for two reasons. 1) Philosophically I believe in a flat tax rate -- I believe everyone (and every corporation) should pay an equal percentage share in taxes over a certain minimum income level. 2) I'm worried this misrepresentation will result in poor decisions on a macro level -- like a call for higher taxes irregardless of the economic impact. If we tighten fiscal and monetary policy prematurely during 2004-2005 (as Greenspan and Bush are now signaling), we risk a deflationary spiral. That danger is emphatically not over, despite rising oil prices, a resurgent stock market and a continuing real estate boom. Maybe I'm wrong, and we can all address the current budget deficit without regard for the possibility of over-tightening. However, I'd like to feel that irrational economic decisions driven by a Big Lie are not part of our problem.

I'm saying we all want to get the United States' fiscal house in order. In the process, lets not confuse party politics (progressive taxes vs. a flat tax) with sound economics.

90% of this autobiography is a well-written, measured story of an awesomely talented individual chalking up major accomplishments as a highly professional manager in a series of extraordinarily difficult and high-impact positions. Rubin is most likely a truly superb manager. I've never worked with or (more likely) for the guy.

Having read the book, however, I would be very upset seeing Robert Rubin follow Alan Greenspan as Governor of the Federal Reserve. He has clearly misrepresented the economic facts in this book to suit his political positions. He'd be great as a Secretary of State for a Democratic administration, or a Secretary of Treasury redux.

I give the book three stars, because Rubin is a legitimate American super star. Pity he's a Democrat.

3-0 out of 5 stars Where finance meets politics: Rubinomics
As someone who's had the chance to walk through the storied trading floors of the arbitrage division of Goldman Sachs in Manhattan, I was excited to read this book about someone who began his amazing career there. Anyone interested in investing, domestic and international finance and economics, and politics should read this book. Why?

Mr. Rubin was vital in the formation of Clintonomics--a set of policies that stressed the importance of deficit reduction. Although politically vilified for "raising taxes," Mr. Rubin's platform of deficit reduction was associated with remarkable productivity and economic growth in the 1990's. Mr. Rubin's account is especially timely and thought provoking considering the recent deficits incurred by the U.S. government, the historically low interest rates that are nevertheless present in America, and the 12 billion dollar bet on foreigns currencies recently placed by Berkshire Hathaway.

As someone who has visited and invested (with very mixed results!) in developing countries, I was also interested in Mr. Rubin's accounts of how and why he, Clinton, and others at institutions like the IMF created multi-billion dollar rescue loans to these nations. The conflicts of interest between investors, the borrowers, and the loaners is fascinating to contemplate. It is also instructive to consider why some rescue packages (designed for Indonesia) failed while others (designed for Mexico) succeeded. While recounting these stories Mr. Rubin does an admirable job explaining why lowering tarrifs and expanding global trade with emerging markets is a win-win situation for all parties involved.

For an even better explanation of the underlying principles of international finance read "Economics in One Easy Lesson" by Hazlett. It sounds like a children's book, but the clarity of explanation of complex ideas in this book is amazing.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Certain Success in an Uncertain World
I would recommend this book as probably the best politico-economic book I've read. Robert Rubin, as Secretary of the Treasury and head of the National Economic Council during the Clinton years, was at the center of some of the most exciting times of the last few generations: the first balanced budget in thirty years; a run-up in the stock market that made millionaires out of average people; and a thriving economy. But not everything was wonderful. The Republican Party started a revolution of their own in 1994 when they swept control of Congress for the first time in forty years and the Asian economic crisis of 1998 threatened a global economic meltdown. In the center of it all was Robert Rubin.

Educated at Harvard, Rubin became an arbitrageur at Goldman Sachs in the 1960s and rose to co-ceo of the company before leaving for Washington during the Clinton years. His theme for life was that that there are no certainties. He called his philosophy probabilistic thinking. He explained it this way: "Success came by evaluating all the information available to try to judge the odds of various outcomes and the possible gains or losses associated with each." It was a philosophy that enabled him to succeed in both public and private endeavors.

His book is highly interesting but may be a difficult read for someone without any knowledge of economics. For those familiar with economic terms and concepts the book will be both enlightening and educational. While we may live in an uncertain world this book is a certain success. ... Read more


76. Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II
by George Weigel
list price: $20.00
our price: $13.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060932864
Catlog: Book (2001-04-01)
Publisher: Perennial
Sales Rank: 13353
Average Customer Review: 4.73 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Given unprecedented access to Pope John Paul II and the people who have known and worked with him throughout his life, George Weigel presents a groundbreaking portrait of the Pope as a man, a thinker, and a leader whose religious convictions have defined a new approach to world politics -- and changed the course of history.

John Paul II has systematically addressed every major question on the world's agenda at the turn of the millennium: the human yearning for the sacred, the meaning of freedom, the glories and challenges of human sexuality, the promise of the women's movement, the quest for a new world order, the nature of good and evil, the moral challenge of prosperity, and the imperative of human solidarity in the emerging global civilization. By bringing the age-old wisdom of biblical religion into active conversation with contemporary life and thought, the Pope "from a far country" has crafted a challenging proposal for the human future that is without parallel in the modern world.

Weigel explores new information about the Pope's role in some of the recent past's most stirring events, including the fall of communism; the Vatican/Israel negotiation of 1991-92; the collapse of the Philippine, Chilean, Nicaraguan, and Paraguayan dictatorships during the 1980s; and the epic papal visit to Cuba. Weigel also includes previously unpublished papal correspondence with Leonid Brezhnev, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Deng Xiaoping, and draws on hitherto unavailable autobiographical reminiscences by the Pope.

Witness to Hope also discusses the Pope's efforts to build bridges to other Christian communities, and to Judaism, Islam, and other great world religions; presents an analysis of John Paul's proposals for strengthening democratic societies in the twenty-first century; and offers synopses of every major teaching document in the pontificate.

Rounding out the dramatic story of Pope John Paul II are fresh translations of his poetry; detailed personal anecdotes of the Pope as a young man, priest, and friend, sketched by those who knew him best; and in-depth interviews with Catholic leaders throughout the world.

A magisterial biography of one of the most important figures -- some might argue, the most important figure -- of the twentieth century, Witness to Hope is an extraordinary testimony to the man and his accomplishments, and a papal biography unlike any other.

... Read more

Reviews (41)

5-0 out of 5 stars Witness to the Pope
Along with a hearty recommendation forWitness to Hope comes a caveat that the excellent book is NOT an easy read. George Weigel undertook this comprehensive biography as a labor of love and researched it meticulously. Reading the finished product is a laborious task but worth the effort.

Mr. Weigel was afforded unprecedented access to the pontiff and scoured the world interviewing his peers, subordinates, admirers, detractors, colleagues, childhood friends, former supervisors (wherever possible), and just about anyone with cogent insights into the inner workings of John Paul II. Even when the details appear superfluous (reports of Mrs. Wojtyla's pushing baby Karol in his carriage, et al), they assist us in comprehending the historic churchman. Karol lost his mother as a young boy, and his father and only brother both died before he was fully mature. The author explicates how the loss of his entire close family imbued the future pontiff with an unshakable devotion to the sacredness of family life. His youthful pain positively manifested itself in copious papal support for the traditional family structure.

The Pope's unwavering commitment to the sanctity of human life in the face of often vitriolic criticism is likewise shown to have grown from personal hardships. Nazism devastated Poland, and Karol Wojtyla lost many lifelong Jewish friends to the scourge. Active in the underground--especially a clandestine theater--he struggled to stay a step ahead of the nazis. Seeing many of his loved ones and exterminated, and his own mistreatment by the nazis shaped him in ways the world would observe decades later.

Ironically, those who often fault the pope for unambiguously opposing abortion often praise him for his equally stern disapproval of capital punishment, and vice-versa. His ineluctable reverence for the sanctity of all life was chiseled in his heart by Nazi brutality and undergirded further by communist atrocities--all witnessed firsthand.

The Vatican's love-hate relationship with the United Nations provides some of the book's most telling sections, explaining how some of the strangest bedfellows ever came together, and also provides an examination of how strained Vatican--U.S., ties grew due to the radical agenda of the Clinton Administration. The center of world Catholicism worked harmoniously with Libya, Iran, and several other radical Islamic countries regarding issues of abortion, homosexuality, and the family structure while vigorously opposing the United States (during the Clinton years) on these very same issues.

The Clinton administration's drive to have deviant definitions of the family as well as support nefarious population control measures (including involuntary sterilization) given U.N. sanction seemed destined to succeed despite Vatican efforts to insert common sense into the argument

While Clinton's representatives had assiduously prepared for the Vatican's stance and adroitly maneuvered to deflate the Holy See's influence, they did not anticipate one insurmountable obstacle--nearly worldwide disgust at their extremist plans. At that same conference, a scheduled welcoming speech--expected to be neutral in tone--by then-Pakistani Prime Minister Benazair Bhutto condemned abortion as a crime against humanity and established a theme that was reiterated by the majority of participants from Africa, Asia, and South America. What Clinton's out-of-touch appointees dismissed an Catholic rigidity turned out to be almost catholic sentiment and squashed efforts to declare new norms of family structure.

Since the pope has interacted with virtually every mover and shaker of the past three decades, Mr. Weigel includes a plethora of notable vignettes regarding a veritable who's who of world figures. Describing Mikhail Gorbachev's unprecedented visit to the Vatican during the Soviet Union's twilight, Weigel ponders "he must have had some intuition of what this moment meant historically. By the mere fact of his presence at the Vatican, the system he represented was acknowledging that it had been wrong about the relationship between Christianity and genuine humanism, about Christianity and human liberation."

He wisely includes comments from Vaclav Havel's greeting to the Pope in Czechoslovakia, "I dare say that at this moment I am participating in a miracle: the man who six months ago was arrested as an enemy of the State stands here today as the president of the State and bids welcome to the first pontiff of the Catholic Church in history to set foot in this land."

Other interesting tidbits include crossed paths with the like of Ronald Reagan, Mother Theresa, Fidel Castro, Ed Koch, Billy Graham, and Morocco's King Hassan who arranged for John Paul to address what may have been the largest assemblage of Muslim youth ever.

In an unfortunate case of timing, Witness to Hope was released a few years prior to the two incidents that could become the most salient demerits on John Paul's broad and noble legacy. Laying any blame for the American clergy's sex scandal in the Vatican is somewhat of a stretch, but fallout from the headline-making disgrace is landing at John Paul's feet. More directly linked was the pope's bewildering disagreement with the American-lead liberation of Iraq. Not since the allied assault on nazism has the case for a just war seemed so clear. Why John Paul did not at least maintain a silent neutrality is a subject that historians will debate for decades. Some have speculated that accusations--often devoid of facts--that Pope Pius XII was silent during the Holocaust--will be echoed about John Paul regarding the Iraqi situation.

Witness to Hope's appeal is truly catholic (with a small "c") because John Paul's influence has extended far beyond the Roman Catholic Church, and any treatment of major world events is incomplete without his views.

5-0 out of 5 stars No. 3 on my list of best books
At least one seminary requires those in spiritual formation to read this biography of Pope John Paul II. I rank the book just below the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church in my list of books that are important to read. I can usually summarize a book in a page or two, but not this one. The book offers so much that I filled thirteen pages with terse notes written in paragraph form.

The first 250 pages of the book inspire the reader, who realizes the great hardships the Pope endured from his early life through his priesthood under Nazi and Communist rule. His work with the Church's intellectuals and performing artists developed the cultural base that succeeded in combating these totalitarian regimes. His discussion groups tolerated all ideas, provided that all were striving for truth. His development of a new Christian Humanism was, and still is, effective in combating social and spiritual ills everywhere.

The remaining 600 pages show how the Pope dealt with specific problems in the Church and in the world. He approaches all as a sincerely holy, humble, and reverent pilgrim, full of hope for humanity. He apologizes for the failures of Catholics. He invites those who oppose him to join him in dialog, yet he never compromises Church principles. The book covers each such case, including each encyclical, with sufficient detail that the reader learns from the Pope throughout the book.

Because I have read probably every encyclical and many of the apostolic letters written by the Pope, much was familiar to me -- after the book jarred my memory. The most important new point that I learned from the book pertained to a question I have asked many a philosopher: Can every philosophy describe all of the truths of the Catholic faith? The Pope answered that some philosophies are so poor or so closed as to make any real dialog impossible.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best biography of Pope John Paul II
This is by far the best biography of Pope John Paul II. It covers so many events of his episcopacy and papacy. It is certainly worthwhile reading.

George Weigel, moreso than other writers, is able to write on John Paul II's philosophy. The teachings of John Paul II will be studied long after his death. It is often forgetten that Pope John Paul II is an intellectual. He studied in Rome under the great Thomist Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange. And while he favours the moderate realism of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Pope by no means continues to work in that field alone. He has integrated into his philosophy the insights of phenomenology and personalism. The latter philosophy has proven especially important to him, and the insights of personalism appear often in his encylicals and other teaching documents.

In short, this is the perfect introduction to John Paul the Pope and John Paul the intellectual.

5-0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary book on an extraordinary man
Comprehensive, definitive biography of one of the great Popes of all time. A must read for anyone seriously interested in the Catholic faith or in religion in general.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Fine Work - But Mainly About Him as The Pope
Karol Wojtyla is a Pole from the Krakow area that rose to great prominence. This is a fine work about a remarkable man. Regardless of his religion (I am not catholic) he has led a life where he has set a high moral goal for others to follow.

The book is suitable for general readers (like myself) and has lots of details about the man starting from his youth and college days in Poland. There are many interesting insights and analysis. The book has 900 pages of details and stories with over 100 pages of references and footnotes. It contains two groups of about 20 photos per group showing his stages of development before and after becoming the Pope.

As an Amazon.com book reviewer I want to make a few comments on the biography as a biography. Only about 10% of the book or the first two chapters of the 15 chapters is given over to his life and development outside being a priest. He was made a priest not many years after becoming an adult, so although the "biography" does cover his non religious life up to a point, the book is mainly about his rise through the catholic church and a lot of time - the vast majority - is given to discussing what he did, his religious beliefs, and what he thought as the Pope and how he executed his beliefs and put them into action. After a brief two chapter review on his youth, there are four chapters on his rise and then nine chapters on his life and philosophy as Pope.

Recommended as an outstanding book even if you are not a catholic, but again it is 60% about his actions as the Pope.

Jack in Toronto ... Read more


77. American Sphinx : The Character of Thomas Jefferson
by JOSEPH J. ELLIS
list price: $29.95
our price: $19.77
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679444904
Catlog: Book (1997-02-04)
Publisher: Knopf
Sales Rank: 7135
Average Customer Review: 3.92 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Well timed to coincide with Ken Burns's documentary (on which the author served as a consultant), this new biography doesn't aim to displace the many massive tomes about America's third president that already weigh down bookshelves. Instead, as suggested by the subtitle--"The Character of Thomas Jefferson"--Ellis searches for the "living, breathing person" underneath the icon and tries to elucidate his actual beliefs. Jefferson's most ardent admirers may find this perspective too critical, but Ellis's portrait of a complex, sometimes devious man who both sought and abhorred power has the ring of truth. ... Read more

Reviews (88)

4-0 out of 5 stars Must Read for TJ and US Revolution History Fans
Joseph Ellis projects an interesting analysis of the illusive Thomas Jefferson in "American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson." Brilliant but contradictory, most historians glorified the author of the Declaration of Independence for nearly 200 years. Recently, with the emergence of John Adams as an equally accepted visionary Founder, the strange and conflicting sides of Jefferson have been given equal attention to those that reflect the genius from Monticello, Virginia.

More than any other American historical figure, Jefferson was incredibly aware of his future role in history, and thereby his legacy. Much of the documented historical record, both that written by him and that written to him, reflect the facts that he chose what future generations would see. Ellis breaks down five periods of Jefferson's life: (1) the period around the writing of the Declaration, (2) the years in Paris as American envoy, (3) the years in semi-seclusion during the second Washington administration, (4) his first Presidential term, (5) and his years in retirement the decade prior to his death. The main premises of Ellis' work are that Jefferson was elusive in description, contradictory in philosophy, and often devious in action.

After reading Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis (see my review dated 7/23/01) I had enormous expectations for his previously penned biography of Thomas Jefferson. It is a good scholarly account, but falls short of the enormously readable "Founding Brothers" work that won the Pulitzer Prize. Ellis teases you by revealing the many two-faced aspects of Jefferson's character, but shies away from drawing the conclusions that Jefferson's personality was bizarre. The third President was generally a person who could make himself believe anything he wanted, that his position and beliefs were always righteous, as long as it helped him get or preserve what he wanted.

Ellis does reveal the many aspects that prove Jefferson such a contradiction. Those include his inability to speak in public compared to the tremendous talent as a writer and analyst. The fact that he betrayed one of his most loyal and devoted friends for decades (John Adams), to secure the goals of the Virginians in the roots of the Founding, also speak loudly to his complex nature. What most people do not realize was that though he was extremely reticent that our country not become encumbered to a national financial consolidation, he was among the most atrocious of debtors and virtually ruined his family through decades of irresponsible personal spending. Finally, everyone now knows his amazingly illogical position regarding slavery, and the facts proven by modern DNA mapping techniques that demonstrate that he fathered children by his slave Sally Hemings.

I rate this book most accurately at 4.00 out of 5.00 stars. It is a must read for devotees of the Revolutionary period, and for those interested in Jefferson or John Adams. Ellis could have rated higher by really getting in depth in the many complex facets of Jefferson's personality, ability the author demonstrates better in other works. The book is worth reading and valuable for reference work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Compelling Study of a Founding Father
Of all the historical characters I have ever read about, Thomas Jefferson by far is the most complex. His entire life seems to be a contradiction. The writer of the Declaration of Independence, yet he owned slaves all his life, refusing to free them even in his will. Opposed to any kind of centralized federal government, yet under his presidential administration, the US doubled in size with the Federal government purchase of the Louisiana territory. Author Ellis does a superb job of noting these contradictions and many other weaknesses displayed by Jefferson throughout his career. A Francophile, Jefferson was totally unable to predict the violence of the French Revolution, even though he was living in Paris during the time. During the American Revolution, Jefferson wrote the Declaration and then disappeared to Monticello, then leaving men like Adams and Washington to put his ideas into action. This particularly charactertizes the actions of Jefferson- his thoughts were so idealistic as to be incompatible with reality. This is opposed to Adams, a thoroughly pragmatic man. Time and again, author Ellis contrast Jefferson to Adams and in the majority of the instances, Jefferson loses. Yet, the American public is still drawn to Jefferson while Adams does not seem to generate that kind of esteem. Why? Jefferson was an idealist, who talked about the moral goodness of man and thought the human race able to function with very little in the ways of laws, government oversite, etc. These ideas were portayed by Jefferson in his writings which fed the higher nature in all of us. Men like Adams were much more pragmatic- ideas are fine, but what can we make that will actually work in the real world?

This book does a wonderful job of trying to define the character of Jefferson and the title American Sphinx is more accurate. I don't believe we can truly know Jefferson and perhaps that's what makes him one of the most interesting of the Founding Fathers.

5-0 out of 5 stars a better understanding
I imagine that in order to spend months and years researching and writing about an historical figure you must admire that person immensely, otherwise it would be terribly difficult to retain any interest. In most biographies, this usually translates into a deification of the subject. Not so in Joseph J. Ellis' AMERICAN SPHINX: THE CHARACTER OF THOMAS JEFFERSON.

I'll confess that Jefferson has not always been one of my favorite founding fathers. I have always thought of him as duplicitous, racist, anachronistic in his thinking, vain, and cowardly in a way. As a New Yorker, I've always been irked by his bad-mouthing of the city, and by his insistence that the capitol of the new nation be moved from here to Washington, D.C. [Good riddance, by the way. We did just fine without being the capitol city, thank you very much ;-) ] And as I am a devout admirer of Alexander Hamilton... need I say more?

After reading Ellis' other great book, FOUNDING BROTHERS, I began to get a more rounded look at Jefferson, one that shed a little more light on the human forces that may have been working on him. Then I read McCullough's brilliant biography of Jefferson's close friend (at times), John Adams. This led me to read this biography, and I am glad I did. I finally was given a better understanding of the sage of Monticello. Ellis does an admirable job of conveying an honest and balanced view of the chief author of the Declaration of Independence, without resorting to hero-worship, as do most biographers. At times, the writing was very moving, especially as Jefferson's loved ones began dying around him. I'm still not crazy about the guy, but I have a better appreciation of him.

Ellis' writing is brisk, loaded with telling anecdotes, and never attempts to impress the reader with the research he has done. Other biographers would do well to follow Joseph Ellis' example. And lovers of American History would do well to read this book.

3-0 out of 5 stars Dry, but overall interesting
This book took me about four months to read. I kept picking other books up and forgetting about this one. So it is not addictively readable, to say the least. In fact, it was difficult for me to read more than 15 pages at a time. I would find my attention wandering or my mind falling asleep.

Dryness and drab writing aside, the book in the end was interesting. It is not a conventional biography. Unlike historians such as David McCulloch, Joseph Ellis digs deep into the story and into the character of Thomas Jefferson. It does not follow Jefferson from birth to death, chronicling life events. Instead, Ellis picks seminal points of Jefferson's life: his move to Paris, the Constitutional Convention, his stint as President, and his retirement to Monticello, and then examines Jefferson's attitudes, actions, and writings from these time periods to create a picture of the man. It answers the question "Who was Thomas Jefferson?" more thoroughly than any biography I have ever read.

Ellis's Jefferson is not hugely likeable, but is very human. Ellis certainly succeeds in knocking Jefferson fro his hallowed pedastal, but only in making him human and fully fleshed, which in the end only can do Jefferson justice.

After finishing this book (finally), I feel I have a pretty clear picture of Jefferson and his legacy, which makes me feel this read was very worthwhile.

4-0 out of 5 stars Thomas Jefferson Survives
If you've read about the Founding Fathers, you can't help but notice that Thomas Jefferson has an eerie elusive quality that the others just don't seem to possess. You can figure out Ben Franklin, George Washington, James Madison, etc.. Jefferson, however, seems to be someone who you can't quite pin down or so easily lay claim to by today's standards. As was once said of William James, "He's just like a blob of mercury, you cannot put a mental finger upon him." It probably has something to do with, as Ellis states in the book, the fact that he was far more inclined to rhetoric and theory than he was to the tedious gears of hand-on politics.

I was expecting this book to cross the line in relation to dragging Jefferson into the present and beating him up a bit, but it kept within reasonable boundaries without either unrealistic hero worship or a foolish attempt at character assasination. Very readable and informative. ... Read more


78. Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt
by David McCullough
list price: $16.00
our price: $10.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0671447548
Catlog: Book (1982-05-12)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 5999
Average Customer Review: 4.41 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Mornings on Horseback is the brilliant biography of the young Theodore Roosevelt. Hailed as "a masterpiece" (John A. Gable, Newsday), it is the winner of the Los Angeles Times 1981 Book Prize for Biography and the National Book Award for Biography. Written by David McCullough, the author of Truman, this is the story of a remarkable little boy, seriously handicapped by recurrent and almost fatal asthma attacks, and his struggle to manhood: an amazing metamorphosis seen in the context of the very uncommon household in which he was raised.

The father is the first Theodore Roosevelt, a figure of unbounded energy, enormously attractive and selfless, a god in the eyes of his small, frail namesake. The mother, Mittie Bulloch Roosevelt, is a Southerner and a celebrated beauty, but also considerably more, which the book makes clear as never before. There are sisters Anna and Corinne, brother Elliott (who becomes the father of Eleanor Roosevelt), and the lovely, tragic Alice Lee, TR's first love. All are brought to life to make "a beautifully told story, filled with fresh detail", wrote The New York Times Book Review.

A book to be read on many levels, it is at once an enthralling story, a brilliant social history and a work of important scholarship which does away with several old myths and breaks entirely new ground. It is a book about life intensely lived, about family love and loyalty, about grief and courage, about "blessed" mornings on horseback beneath the wide blue skies of the Badlands. ... Read more

Reviews (32)

5-0 out of 5 stars Mornings on Horseback debunks Roosevelt myths
David McCullough is a master at revealing history as it truly took place, and people as they truly were. His account of Teddy Roosevelt's remarkably innocent childhood debunks the myths that have long clouded Roosevelt biographies. While TR would grow to be a fearless Rough Rider and a President who took on corporate monopolies, he began his life as a pathetically weak, asthmatic boy clammering for his parents' attention. It was through the love, rather demanding at times, of Roosevelt's wonderfully demonstrative father that Teddy grew into his tough adult self. Mornings on Horseback challenges the notion that yesterday was more idyllic than today. Though Roosevelt had a close family, they did not remain unscathed by the Civil War, nor by illnesses that have since fled the earth. Throughout it all, it was their sense of family, as well as their great self-motivation to improve the lot of the world, that pushed them beyond misfortune. McCullough is a patient historian. He does not abide by myths, or falsehoods. His prying beneath the historical record is done with sound tools of investigation. Throughout it all, his voice is so entrancing, and his capture of detail so intricate, that we come to feel that we truly understand his subjects. When they are tossed about by fate, we regard their misfortunes with empathy. McCullough knows how to make history as readable as fiction.

4-0 out of 5 stars Another great book from McCullough
Historian David McCullough is a national treasure. The author of an excellent history of the building of a Panama Canal ("The Path Between the Seas") and a biography of former President Harry Truman ("Truman", my all-time favorite book), McCullough also wrote an excellent biography of President Theodore Roosevelt's early years.

Following close on the heels of Edmund Morris "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt", "Mornings on Horseback" looks at Roosevelt's formative years, when the man who would one day become one of America's greatest Presidents came of age. Though not quite the equal of Morris book, McCullough's is a somewhat more critical look at the extraordinary life the President led as a young man.

This is a book for those who want to know what made this President tick.

5-0 out of 5 stars A portrait of a family
This book is the first concentrated work I've ever read on the life of Theodore Roosevelt. But it would not be accurate to call this work a biography of TR, rather it is the story of his entire family and the way in which his upbringing shaped the man he was to become.

The book chronicles "Teedie's" life from birth up until his second marriage to once childhood friend, Edith Carow. The author goes into great detail about the family's struggles with Theodore's asthma, their trips abroad which included a year long exploration across Europe and a boat trip down the Nile, the beginnings of Theodore's life-long interest in natural science ( which even extended to taxidermy), his years at Harvard and his first significant jump into the political arena at the Republican National Convention in 1884. Like anyone else, Theodore's life was not untouched by tragedy but still it comes as a devastating blow when both his first wife, Alice Lee, and his mother pass away on the exact same day. Theodore then retreats to the Badlands where he is enthralled with the idea of being a cowboy and spends a total of three years pursuing this interest while regaining his focus on life.

Yet for all the biographical information included in the book its most enduring theme is the importance of Theodore's family life, especially the tremendous influence of his father, Theodore Roosevelt senior ( Greatheart), an influence that would remain with him his entire life. Mr. McCullough also brings to life a marvelous portrait of Theodore's mother, Mittie, a strong and resilient Southern born beauty who was greatly adored by Theodore and his three siblings.

If you have even the slightest interest in reading about one of our greatest Presidents, this book would definitely be worth your time. It is not a dry sort of biography but instead a warm and intimate look at a family of extraordinary wealth and privilege leading a life with very ordinary values and morals.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Character Study, Not A Biography
"Mornings on Horseback" is more of a character study than a biography. Stretching from TR's birth until his marriage to Edith Carow, McCullough's purpose is to cover the factors which molded TR into the man that he became. The book ends when, McCullough believes, TR's character was formed.

What I found most interesting about this book is not only what is featured, but what is not. McCullough obviously believe that family played a major role I shaping TR's character. The first, and probably greatest influence on TR was his father, Theodore Roosevelt, Sr., Greatheart to his family. It was his father who was his role model and whose charitable works planted the seeds of TR's social conscience. It was Greatheart who opened TR's mind to foreign cultures during the trips across Europe and on the Nile. It was his father's observation that TR had the mind but not the body which started TR on a body building program to give him a body to match his mind.

Miscast as a business man, Greatheart used his inheritance in philantrophic work, supporting the Children's Aid Society, the Orthopedic Hospital, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the American Museum of Natural History, living his belief that social status came with accompanying duties. Out of deference to his Georgia born wife, Mittie, Greatheart hired a substitute to take his place in the Union Army, while he initiated programs to help the soldier and his dependents, meeting Abraham Lincoln in the process. This action is often cited as having created a debt which TR sought to pay during the Spanish American War.

Greatheart's death at age 46 was one of the greatest tragedies of TR's life. During his first day in the White House, TR felt as if his father's hand was on his shoulder.

Other significant familial influences on the youthful TR were his uncles, James and Irvine Bulloch. Exiled to England after their service in the Confederate States Navy, James, particularly, played a major role in developing TR's interest in naval affairs.

McCullough obviously believes that TR's youthful asthma was a major factor in molding his character. The reader receives a medical education on asthma, including the theory that its attacks are often anxiety driven. McCullough then explains how he believes that TR's asthma attacks reflect what was happening in his life at the times of the attacks.

Alice Lee, TR's first wife, completely captured TR's love before her passing drove him into cattle country exile.

The critical high points in TR's early political career are well reported. The incidents of his entry into politics, an unseemly profession for most of his class, the challenges and disappointments of his legislative career all lead up to the 1884 Republican National convention, after which TR, frustrated in his efforts to deny nomination to James G. Blaine, chose to stick with party rather than to bolt to the Reformers.

Some of the topics which fill so many pages in standard biographies are deamed to be less important to the theme of this book. TR's early interest in animals and natural history barely attracts McCullough's attention, probably because after its abandonment, it had little lasting effect on his character. While attention is devoted to his time in the Bad Lands and his hunting trips, they do not receive the attention that they do in standard biographies.

"Mornings On Horseback" is written in a style which will always hold the readers' interest. Unlike some books dealing with a subject's youth, this one focuses on TR's experiences which had lifelong impacts.

I do not recommend "Mornings On Horseback" as an introduction to TR. I do recommend it as a character study for those who are already familiar with the facts of TR's life and who desire to develop a deeper understanding of his character. For this it is excellent.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Delightful Perceptions of a Master
The distinctive quality of David McCullough's works is that he refuses to insult his reader with a less than honest view of his subject while making allowances for the fact that in writing history, he was not present to be able to interpret what the circumstances were, or what they might have been. He is an intellectual's author in expressing, as well as he can, the intricacies of well defined patterns of communication that existed at the time that likely made an impact on his subject to define his perspective and his action. This is a solid effort to give both character and accuracy to the personality as he might have been, and probably was, without attributing his own knowledge of today's events onto his subject, a tendency of increasing frequency. The reason for this is his dedicated and meticulous research into his subject, a model of historical recording, without unduly influencing the reader. The value of reflecting the accuracy of historical events is that it offers the reader his own perspective to interpret historical events rather than a canned version by the author. Of course, McCullough may draw upon unique events to help identify information previously glossed over in his attempts to portray that accuracy. This is an acceptable license in biographical accounts though not always followed with such careful editing. The exciting part of McCullough's writing is that he has the humility to identify his subjects as extraordinary, and is a willing participant in helping the reader to see that as well, a real credit to his choice of subject. His fascination is transmitted to the reader in a thoughtful measure of the man, or the event, he has researched, the mark of a very distinguished writer who adores his work, and is successful for that reason. ... Read more


79. American Soldier
by Tommy Franks, Malcolm McConnell
list price: $27.95
our price: $16.77
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060731583
Catlog: Book (2004-07-01)
Publisher: ReganBooks
Sales Rank: 92
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As Commander in Chief of the United States Central Command from July 2000 through July 2003, Tommy Franks led the American and Coalition forces to victory in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Unsurprisingly, the portions of American Soldier covering these wars are the most interesting because they combine military maneuvers, political wrangling, and lots of action and commentary. This does not mean, however, that the rest of his autobiography is dull. General Franks's writing is clear and engaging and his insider's perspective is informative and interesting, particularly when he explains how the military moved into the 21st century by emphasizing speed, agility, and better cooperation among the various branches--a significant shift from the first Persian Gulf war just a decade earlier.

In addition to his years as a war general, his memoir also covers his childhood, his early years in the Army, his tours of Vietnam, and how he contemplated retirement before being called up as commander of Central Command, "the most diverse, strategically vital—and unstable—region of the planet." Ever the diplomat, General Franks offers insights, but little criticism of individuals. Other than expressing admiration for his own staff and for President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in particular, he is tight-lipped about any conflict within the administration that may have occurred regarding policy issues. (The one exception is counterterrorism specialist Richard Clarke. "I never received a single operational recommendation, or a single page of actionable intelligence, from Richard Clarke," he writes). He also writes that he was surprised by the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that no WMDs were used against American troops. Still, the invasion of Iraq was justified in his eyes: "While we may not have found actual WMD stockpiles, what the Coalition discovered was the equivalent of a disassembled pistol, lying on a table beside neatly arranged trays of bullets."American Soldier is a compelling look at the war on terrorism from one who served on the frontlines as both a warrior and a diplomat. --Shawn Carkonen ... Read more


80. Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love
by Dava Sobel
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140280553
Catlog: Book (2000-11-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 6525
Average Customer Review: 4.13 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Galileo Galilei's telescopes allowed him to discover a new reality in the heavens. But for publicly declaring his astounding argument--that the earth revolves around the sun--he was accused of heresy and put under house arrest by the Holy Office of the Inquisition. Living a far different life, Galileo's daughter Virginia, a cloistered nun, proved to be her father's greatest source of strength through the difficult years of his trial and persecution.

Drawing upon the remarkable surviving letters that Virginia wrote to her father, Dava Sobel has written a fascinating history of Medici--era Italy, a mesmerizing account of Galileo's scientific discoveries and his trial by Church authorities, and a touching portrayal of a father--daughter relationship. Galileo's Daughter is a profoundly moving portrait of the man who forever changed the way we see the universe.

• Winner of the Christopher Award and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award

• Named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, and the American Library Association
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Reviews (195)

5-0 out of 5 stars Galileo's World Under A Microscope
Galileo's Daughter is a rare gift. This marvelous duo biography of Galileo Galilei and his daughter Virginia evokes a sense of time and place, character and action and of cosmic importance that are usually the province of great works of fiction.

Author Dava Sobel's meticulous scholarship and keen insights provide us a literary microscope with which we can examine Galileo's seventeenth-century world as the great astronomer explored the heavens with his telescope.

Galileo's numerous scientific discoveries and his condemnation by the Church for heretically teaching the earth moved around the sun are familiar to most school children. Galileo's Daughter does much more than chronicle these familiar events.

Sobel transports us to the Florence of Grand Duke Ferninando de Medici, the Rome of Pope Urban VIII, the Covent of San Matteo where Virginia Galilei became Suor Maria Celeste and breathes life into Galileo's Italy during the era of The Thirty Years War. Superstition and science, loyalty and treachery, generosity and selfishness, the ridiculous and the sublime each combine in a rich Italinate tapestry of seventeenth-century life.

I recommend this wonderful book to men and women of all ages. It will satisfy even those with little interest in history, science or biography. If you are looking for a good story, well told, that illuminates the human condition, this book is for you.

3-0 out of 5 stars Bringing a historical figure down to a more personal level
Galileo's correspondence with his favorite daughter (only her letters to him are present; his letters to her were lost or destroyed) gives us a new perspective on a well-known historical figure and events.

Sobel weaves fascinating historical background on everything from the plague to international politics around the tender letters from Galileo's daughter, Maria Celeste. Despite the fact that she's a cloistered nun, we learn quite a bit about the world at large.

It's interesting to watch Galileo, a devout Catholic, grapple with his faith and with church authorities who believe science and religion are mutually exclusive. We get to see the personal side of Galileo's famous trial.

The book also presents a suprising portrait of a strong, intelligent woman in a place where you might not expect to find her - a seventeenth-century convent.

If you're not a science or history buff the book can get a bit dry in places, but Galileo's discoveries and persecution generally make for enough plot to draw you along over the rough spots.

4-0 out of 5 stars Refreshing Perspective
From the title of this book, I naturally expected it to be a biography of Galileo's daughter, which it is not exactly. I was a bit disappointed to begin with, as the first hundred pages or so are Galileo's early biography. Once his daughter, Virginia (later Suor Marie Celeste) came into the picture, the story became much more interesting.

Virginia was one of Galileo's three illegitimate children by the mistress of his early years, Marina Gamba. She eventually married, with Galileo's blessings, and he never lost interest in his children. Due to their illegitimacy which he felt would eliminate any chance of a decent marriage, Galileo had his two daughters entered into a convent at a very early age. The both became nuns at the convent of San Matteo on turning sixteen, Virginia taking the name Suor Marie Celeste and Livia that of Suor Arcangela. The son, Vincenzio, lived with Galileo in his late teens and eventually (after an unpromising start) became a good son to him.

This book recounts Galileo's personal and private life, using letters from Marie Celeste to give color to what would otherwise be a black and white, straight forward biography. Their shared love is beautiful to see in her letters--his to her having been lost--and the bits and pieces of every day life that she treats the reader to are thoroughly enjoyable.

This is a very detailed and readable history of Galileo, and gave me a much greater understanding of the man, his work and his difficulty with the Church. The conflict he felt between himself and his discoveries comes through very clearly and poignantly in his own words through his other letters. Her faith in him, and in the fact that he was not being heretical, is very apparent. It was interesting to me to see how differently Sobel portrays Galileo's fight was the Church--if her sources are to be believed (and I see no reason to disbelieve) it was not at all what history textbooks would have us believe.

As a history major and fanatic, I truly enjoyed reading this book. The alternate perspective of Galileo was refreshing and real--and made sense of a lot that had previously seemed murky to me about him and the Church. The addition of Marie Celeste's letters gave this book personality and took Galileo from a science god to a human being. My only regret is how few letters are in this book, and that the title is a bit misleading. Despite that, if you have any interest in Galileo, this is a must-read!

5-0 out of 5 stars "The father...of modern science" had a loving daughter!!
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This six part, 33 chapter book, by Dava Sobel, has two themes running through it:

Theme #1: Decribes thoroughly the life and times of Galileo Galilei (1564 to 1642).
Theme #2: Describes the life of Galileo's daughter (1600 to 1634) through some of the actual letters she wrote to her father.

This is first and foremost a solid, easy to read biography of Galileo. His life is traced from him first entering a monastery before deciding to lead a life of scientific inquiry and discovery. Actual letters or parts of letters (translated from the original Latin, French, or Italian by various experts) by Galileo and others are included in the main narrative. Throughout, we are told of his numerous inventions and discoveries. Perhaps the most sensational is that his telescopes allowed him to reveal a new reality in the heavens and to reinforce the Copernican argument that the Earth moves around the Sun. For this belief, he was brought before the Holy Inquisition, accused of heresy, and forced eventually to spend his last years under house arrest. All the translated papers pertaining to these inquisition days are included and make for fascinating reading.

My favorite Inquisition story is with respect to the June 1633 renunciation or "confession" document (reproduced in this book) Galileo was to speak out aloud. The main point of this document is that the Earth does not move around the Sun and that the Earth does not move at all. After reading it aloud, it is said that he muttered under his breath "Eppur si muove" (translation: "But it does move.")

One of Galileo's daughters born "Virginia" and later appropriately named "Sister Maria Celeste," had the intelligence and sensibility of her father. As indicated by her letters, her loving support, which Galileo repaid in kind, proved to be her father's greatest source of strength through his most productive but tumultuous years. Sobel herself translated these letters from the original Italian. They are expertly woven into the main narrative adding an emotional element to this biography.

This book contains almost twenty-five complete letters and numerous large and small fragments from other letters by Sister Celeste. All letters she wrote begin with a statement showing love and respect for her father. Example: "Most Illustrious Lord Father." The first complete letter is dated May 10, 1623 and the last complete letter is dated December 10, 1633. Those letters Galileo wrote to his daughter have not survived.

Almost 75 illustrations are found throughout this book. They add (besides the actual letters of Galileo's daughter) yet another dimension to the narrative. Two of my favorite pictures are entitled "Moon drawings by Galileo in 1609" and "Sunspot drawings by Galileo."

Another intriguing aspect of this book is a chronology after the main narrative ends entitled "In Galileo's Time." This is not just a timeline of important events that occurred during Galileo's life but includes all significant events (especially scientific ones) between 1543 to 1999 inclusive. For example, what happened in 1687? According to this chronology, "Newton's laws of motion and universal gravitation are published in his [book] 'Principia.'" What happened in 1989? Answer: "[NASA] launches [the] 'Galileo' spacecraft [or space probe] to study the moons of Jupiter at close range."

Where did the author obtain all the fascinating information needed to write such an intriguing book? Answer: from the over 130 references found in the bibliography.

I noticed in the book's "Appreciation" section that the author gives thanks to many people. (Dr.) Frank Drake, who helped with the celestrial mechanics found in this book, caught my eye. She co-authored with him the excellent book "Is Anyone Out There?: The Scientific Search for Extraterrestral Intelligence" (paperback, 1994).

Finally, my only minor complaint is with the book's title. As mentioned above, there are two interconnected themes running through this book. Thus, I think a more appropriate title might have been "Galileo and his Daughter."

In conclusion, this book is a thorough biography of Galileo that includes some translated letters from one of his daugters. It is truly, as the book's subtitle states, "A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love!!!"

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4-0 out of 5 stars A original perspective.
Dava Sobel made an excellent job in this book. Family is an aspect of Galileo's life never exploded before (at least not that I know) and totally gives you a different perspective of this controversial and heavily influential individual. Galileo's life, as exposed in Sobel's book, is a very human and touching one. Seeing Galileo from the eyes of his tenderly loving bastard daughter (a nun), evokes such intense conflicting emotions as one might expect only to surge by empathy, a characteristic only obtained when the author makes you compenetrate inside the personage life. A great book, highly recommended for curious people. ... Read more


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