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161. The Family : The Real Story of
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162. That Devil Forrest: Life of General
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163. Tempered Steel: The Three Wars
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164. Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet
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165. The Forgotten Soldier
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166. Francois Mitterand
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167. Red Azalea
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168. Malraux : A Life
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169. An Invitation to Joy
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170. Evidence Not Seen: A Woman's Miraculous
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171. Looking for Mary: Or, the Blessed
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172. The Essential Gandhi : An Anthology
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173. Like Family: Growing Up in Other
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174. Seduced By Success No Longer Addicted
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175. Battle Ready
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176. The Surgeon and the Shepherd:
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177. Mr Tompkins in Paperback : Comprising
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178. Standing Alone in Mecca : An American
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179. The Legacy of Luna: The Story
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180. Stalin : The Court of the Red

161. The Family : The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty
by KITTY KELLEY
list price: $15.95
our price: $10.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400096413
Catlog: Book (2005-05-17)
Publisher: Anchor
Sales Rank: 5229
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars I AM NOT SUPRISED
GREAT BOOK, FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE THE TRUTH.
I AM NOT SUPRISED WITH THE CONTENTS. PEOPLE OF POWER DID NOT GET
THERE BY CHANCE. THE PROBLEM IS, THE MASSIVE SUPPORT THEY GET
FROM UNSUPPECTING FOOLS, WHICH RHIMES WITH TOOLS.
THE CHAPTER ON JR & MRS. IS INTERESTING. BUT I AM STILL NOT SUPRISED. ... Read more


162. That Devil Forrest: Life of General Nathan Bedford Forrest
by John Allan Wyeth
list price: $22.95
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Asin: 0807115789
Catlog: Book (1989-08-01)
Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
Sales Rank: 155130
Average Customer Review: 4.89 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (9)

4-0 out of 5 stars Torn
I'm torn on this review. I'm a new student to the ACW, but new enough to still know that NBF is one of the more intriquing characters of the war. I thought I did my research well and picked the right book to read about him by choosing "That Devil Forrest."

Well, I'm a little disappointed. Not because the book is bad, but more because it wasn't what I quite expected and mostly because I read it out of place (more later on this). The focus is 95% on the military side, which is not all bad. After all, that's what makes him the wizard of the saddle. But the problem is I found the account very dry at times. Much of it is rehashing Official Records and what others have said in their memoirs. I never got the feeling of being there, in the middle of the battle, with bullets zipping by my ear. The only way I can describe it is a very nuts and bolts reading of what troops went where and what troops did what, with a little bit of prose thrown in. Certain chapters are handled better than others, but from time to time I found myself drifting away from engagement to engagement because there wasn't much to make it unique.

Now, I realize not every one can write like Catton or Foote, but considering Wyeth did ride in Forrest's cavalry, I was hoping for a little more from that POV.

As far as the details of the engagements, they are extremely well done. Clearly you will walk away from this book understanding how many casualties he infliced, what companies and who their leaders were who rode on particular missions, etc. It is truly a micro history and if you are unfamiliar with the bigger battles that may have intiated NBF's specific participation (i.e. Shiloh, Murfressboro, etc.) you might get a little lost in the details.

I think I need to read more of a true biography first, and then follow up with "That Devil Forrest" to fill in the military details. That would make a very good one two punch.

So, in short, if you're fascinated by Forrest, but know little of him, I wouldn't start with this book. I think you'll get lost in the details. However, if you have a thorough understanding of the ACW and good back ground info on Forrest the man, I think you'll find this book a good compliment if you're after the details. Another high point is the footnotes and references are impecable. Although the author has a very clear biased opinion about his feelings toward Forrest, he does back up the numbers so to speak.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Civil War you're looking for...
I've read the dry memoirs of a few Civil war heroes. Grant, Sherman, Sheridan. They're fine. But if you want the real guts'n'drive factor of this war, this doctor's story of Forrest is what you're after. As another reviewer has mentioned, when you get into other major characters you actually find less good action, more weakness, time-wasting. Forrest has his flaws, but more along the lines of all of ours. Hold a grudge if you like, but give the story its due. This has it all, in spades.

The doc is a passionate storyteller but doesn't prejudice the tale. He's written to a fine line.

The other major biographer, Steele, is known as the fairest, but with him we get excessive DRYNESS. Who needs that. Moreover, Steele bends over backwards to discredit the hero Forrest, giving more than equal time to every potshot against him. This is called fairness. The shots never hit their mark even with Steele, yet he gives them their due and their due dilutes, taints and distracts the story. ---Even more so than Forrest's own flaws do! (Touche'.)

Wyeth is a clean historian yet lets the story's vigor come through just right. The adventures of Forrest will keep you riveted from start to finish. There's no other way to put it.

Forrest's covering of Hood's (?) final retreat was, in that day, declared to be the inevitable future subject of EPIC poems. We haven't seen any such thing, sadly. But that's the scale of this story. It would still be worth the effort, I think. A movie anyone?

Of course, every angle is worth savoring---including the old partisan "Critter Company" bio.

But enjoy the doc. --JP

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
Nathan Bedford Forrest was one interesting character. A self made millionaire, most definitely an entrepreneur by today's standards, he was a maverick in every facet of his life. Shelby Foote called him the only genius, other than Abraham Lincoln, that the Civil War produced: High praise indeed.

It is easy, with the benefit of hindsight, to paint him with the brush of evil and dismiss him. Slave trader, first Grand Dragon of the Klu Klux Klan, the Ft. Pillow massacre, these are not the calling cards of sainthood. But if we try to view life as he saw it, if we can empathize with him enough to where we can react to his environment, during his times and with his skill set, then maybe we can come close to understanding Mr. Foot's comment.

The Southern High Command did not develop senior generals well. They anointed 8 at the start of hostilities. Without exception, those that weren't killed or injured were still in charge of things at the end of the war. Forrest was one of the few who earned the right to fill the ranks of those who fell.

Independent, devoted to the cause and goal driven he pounds his way to the top. One of his key adversaries, William Tecumseh Sherman, gives him his finest accolade with the words 'that Devil Forrest'. He is a tenacious fighter and good at his job. Judge for yourself, but no one on either side fought under greater hardship, with fewer resources, while amassing a string of truly pivotal victories than he did. No Lost Cause apologia here, Forrest is the genuine article, a true Confederate war hero. You may not wind up liking him but you will wind up respecting him.

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding close look at Bedford Forrest
I have nearly every book written on Nathan Bedford Forrest. He was a complex man, a man that should stand out more amongst the 'peacocks'. Who, having had any knowledge about the War Between the States, does not know JEB Stuart? Forrest did not believe in plumbed hats, jackboots or riding around the Union army to prove a point to the Union troops and his Father-in-law. He believed war was fighting and fighting means killing, and his brilliant military tactics demonstrated this. I think by being raised on both sides of the pond, Forrest first fascinated me because I saw much the same 'force' in Forrest I admired in William Wallace. They were common men, men who were willing to give all in a cause they believed, men that were driven by fighting at 110% and never giving quarter. Many of Forrest's tactics of near guerrilla fighting came from Lighthorse Harry Lee's tactics against the British in the Revolutionary War (Robert E. Lee's daddy by the way!!), a character in himself and much in the vein of Mel Gibson's Patriot. The North despised Forrest - why?? Because he was SO EFFECTIVE. One wonders, what the outcome of the War Between the States would have been had Forrest commanded the Army of the Potomac instead of Lee. Grant and Sherman hated him - Grant giving him the label of 'that devil Forrest', while Sherman admired him - grudgingly - considering him "the most remarkable man our civil war produced on either side", and by Lee `the most extraordinary man the Civil War produced'. Historian Shelby Foote called him one of the two great geniuses of the period (Lincoln being the other). Sherman moaned in disgust that Forrest's men could travel 100 miles faster than his troops could 10. Forrest 'liberated' more guns, horses and supplies than any other single Confederate unit. He did not play at war. He rose from the rank of private to a Lieutenant General - the ONLY man to do that in the Confederate army, but he was just as a complex man before and after the war.

Perhaps, you will not come away liking Forrest, but you cannot doubt his sheer genius, his driven power and his ability to spur men to match his dedication and willingness to give all - just as Wallace did.

There are many books that give interesting views of Forrest, but I hold a special spot in my respect for this book, for unlike the others that were written with the distance of time and careful study, this was written by John Allan Wyeth - a surgeon who died in 1922. Wyeth served as a private in the Confederate army until his capture two weeks after Chickamauga. This was written by a man who lived through the war, not an arm chair historian. So his view is unique, more vivid than any other writer or biographer on Forrest. The text is base almost solely on accounts of military papers and records and the people who knew Forrest personally.

So if you have come searching for information on Nathan Bedford Forrest, you collection MUST have a copy of this work.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Review of "That Devil Forrest"
First published in 1899 as "The Life of General Nathan Bedford Forrest", this renamed and updated account is not only full of facts, but the presentation of them is made most readable.

Motivational interest in this subject for me lies in the fact that a Great grandfather was a member of the Kentucky Brigade under service with Gen. Forrest in several of his most famous battles, i.e.- Tishomingo Creek (Brice's Cross Roads). This book was the first I'd read concerning Gen. Forrest's life and career. Since then I've read and studied much concerning Gen. Forrest, even travelling to some of the battlegrounds associated with his military campaigns. I think that Allen Wyeth treated the subject of Gen. Forrest with the respect and dignity due such a great man, without white-washing the controverial portions of his nature and career. He brings Gen. Forrest to life with startling clarity in this original account, full of subject material gleaned from actual eyewitnesses and other people from all walks of life who were acquainted with him. Enough time had gone by when the book was first published to gain an even better perspective on the life & career of this most remarkable soldier and man.

Truly the very nature of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest is emboided in this book by highlighting his well known theory put into practice that: "The time to whip the enemy is when they are running." ... Read more


163. Tempered Steel: The Three Wars Of Triple Air Force Cross Winner Jim Kasler
by Perry D. Luckett, CHARLES L. BYLER
list price: $27.95
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Asin: 157488834X
Catlog: Book (2005-02-18)
Publisher: Potomac Books
Sales Rank: 162140
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Perry Luckett and Charles Byler have written the first biography of Col. James Kasler, who is the only three-time recipient of the Air Force Cross, the second highest medal for wartime valor. Kasler served as an eighteen-year-old B-29 tail gunner in World War II, became a legendary jet ace in Korea, and was so famous in Vietnam that he was known by name in the White House. Major General Hoyt Vandenberg put Kasler, along with Chuck Yeager and Robbie Risner, as "head and shoulders above the rest as stick-and-rudder pilots."

Kasler planned and led the most effective bombing mission of the Vietnam War. He was shot down and had to endure six and a half years of torture in a POW camp. His courage under those brutal conditions earned him the respect of such men as John McCain and James Stockdale. This book captures the essence of a genuine American hero who fought in three wars and traces the history of the U.S. Air Force during its formative period. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Warrior for Our Age
This is not your usual run of the mill biography. This is the story of a warrior.
There are many types in the military, diplomats, politicians, sycophants, citizen soldiers, patriots, war lovers, otherwise unemmployable, etc. They are all needed, and, with good leadership, most perform well under stress. But, surprising as it may seem, the warriors are marked by their rarity, Jim Kasler is a WARRIOR.
Having been a POW with Jim and being an aviator (Navy) I can verify that this account is reliable, factual and even handed. It doesn't try to tell any one else's story but Jim's own. It is not a revisionist history. It pulls no punches. It tells it like it is (was). It makes you proud to be an American.
Thank God Jim Kasler was on our side.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Salute to a Fighter
TEMPERED STEEL is a portrait of a time, an inside look at a culture of speed and machines, but most of all it's the life of a man who endured what few ever have.That Jim Kasler survived his time of trial through fire is a testament to his courage and toughness.His biographers, Byler and Luckett, have with meticulous research recreated the life of an authentic American hero.

5-0 out of 5 stars Portrait of a True American Hero
In a word: WOW!Jim Kasler has given so much of himself to his country it is nothing short of incredible.I don't usually read or enjoy biographies, but this is one that I could not put down.While the book encompasses his entire life, a good portion of the book gives a detailed account of the 6 1/2 years he spent as a POW in North Vietnam and the infamous Hanoi Hilton.His survival during that time is nothing short of miraculous.I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about leadership, history, military, Air Force, patriotism, or just one tough guy who survived brutality. ... Read more


164. Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet
by Karen Armstrong
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
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Asin: 0062508865
Catlog: Book (1993-09-10)
Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco
Sales Rank: 8375
Average Customer Review: 3.59 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This vivid and detailed biography strips away centuries of distortion and myth and presents a balanced view of the man whose religion continues to dramatically affect the course of history.

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Reviews (59)

5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect for THIS Purpose
As a High School Teacher of Seniors enrolled in a History of the Middle East Course, this book is perfect for placing the life and messages of Muhammad in a real-life historical perspective including influencial 6th century political and economic forces. Students reported that Armstrong cleared up numerous misconceptions, questions, and outright historical inaccuracies. The casual reader may find some passages regarding the 6th century clan conflicts & intrique dry, but they can skim that and still reap the well supported points Armstrong brings forth - including the history of seclusion/veil, the 5 pillars of Islam, the significance of Jerusalem for Muslims, and centuries of conflict bewteen Christiandom the Muslim world. She explains the controversy surrounding the "Satanic Verses" as well as the evolution of the religious concepts pertaining to "al-Llah." In short she weaves the ancient to make sense of the modern.

2-0 out of 5 stars Accessible Bias
My title says it all, although 'prejudice' might be a better term....

Like Mrs. Armstrong, I am a voracious bookworm with regards to the three Momotheistic Abrahamic Faiths, and although I am a strong Christian, I thoroughly enjoy and find my faith enrichened and strengthened by reading about the 'other' monotheistic faiths. I agree with those who take the position that there are some deep seated misunderstandings regarding Islam in the West, and I agree with those who make all efforts to take (and live) a more Christ-like attitude toward those of other faiths (including those with whom we strongly disagree). I also am one who is not opposed to taking a deep hard look at my own self (and culture) and seeing the abundant ugliness therein...

That said, in light of the admitted predjudice and ignorance that exists in the west toward Muhammad and Islam, I think Mrs. Armstrong tried way too hard to swing the pendulum in the other direction to the point of coming off as so entirely biased as to render the book (and any of her books) unworthy of recommendation.

After reading her book (especially the new introduction and the first chapter: 'Muhammad the Enemy', I was amazed at the complete lack of objectivity to the point that it seemed to be deliberate... might I even venture so far as to say 'propaganda'...

I am afraid that the type of people who Mrs. Armstrong is trying to reach who read this book will be no less ignorant and prejudiced than before, except in the other direction...

Her anti-Christian, anti-western bias jump out of every paragraph. Her whitewashing of Muhammad (an admittedly versatile character; at times wise, kind and emulable, and at times cruel, treacherous and entirely inhumane) is also taken to a length that many Muslim apologists will not even go. The problem with Mrs. Armstrong is the problem with the western (and Eastern, read: Al-Jazeera) media at large. Claiming (and acting to be) objective while clearly being a fervent partisan. No, I am not a conspiracy theorist, but for the well-read and informed reader, this book has a stronger bias than most. One example might be the same old tired and mindless comparisons between some 'Christians' somewhere in the world who committed acts of violence with the daily bombardment of news stories that we all get of Islamic violence in (name that country), thus attempting to effectively nuetralize anyone who might dare make a moral judgement regarding such acts (carried out, might I add, in the name of Islam as opposed to in the name of say... Barry or Tom). Another example is the highly innaccurate claim that any verses in the Qur'an (or Haddith or genuine Sirat literture, or statements made by credible scholars and representatives of Islam) which we westerners read as promoting violence or bigotry or sexism, or you name it, are all misinterpreted based on our all-pervasive western ignorance. We are not that dumb Mrs. Armstrong. In presenting historical facts, she is consistantly biased to the point of distortion, but only in one direction. For example, in just the introduction, I was struck by the zinger (there are dozens in just the introduction) toward Christianity with reference to the distingishing mark on clothing that Muslims and Jews were forced to wear while under Christian rule in the Dark Ages of Europe. Shamefully, the claim is true. (Intolerant Westerners! - Poor persecuted Muslims.) But what Mrs. Armstrong fails to mention is that the practice of wearing a distinguishing mark on the clothing clearly originated hundreds of years earlier with Islam, prior to any such utilization by the intolerant and bigoted Western European Christians. In 807, the Abbassid caliph Haroun al- Rashid legislated that Jews were required to wear a tall, conical yellow cap and a yellow belt. In eleventh century Baghadad, Jewish women had to wear one black shoe and one red shoe as well as a small brass bell around their necks. (Clearly, a fashion 'no no' even in eleveth century Baghdad!) This practice was all part of the deliberate humiliation of the dhimminis (unbelievers) under Muslim rule. Men were forced to kneal in the town square as Muslims would whack them on the back of the head in a symbolic gesture of domination prior to collecting from the humiliated the 'Jizya' tax for all non-Muslims. Up until their departure in 1948 in Yemen all Jews were forced to dress like beggars in keeping with their lowly status as dhimminis.

In any case, I'm sure this book will continue to be used by Universities because of it's 'accessibility' but all I can say is, if you want a fully rounded perpective, read Ibn Warraq's (a former Muslim intellectual) book about Muhammad as well. Or Ali Dashti's Twenty three years. It wil take at least two books like this to help swing the pendulum to a more balanced position regarding Muhammad.

And regarding the transparent disdain for Christianity and the West, prejudice and bigotry are not excusable in any quarter. Readers looking for an objective read will not find one here.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good intentions, but ...
I am a history buff so I have attempted to read many of original texts that Karen Armstrong refers to once in a while but I have a feeling that she hasn't really read them directly but probably quotes passages from other western authors. It is also clear that she doesn't have some the basic knowledge of Islam and Arabic. It becomes obvious when she is referring to mahr(dowry) as mahl and so forth.

I nevertheless found the book to be sympathetic in trying to understand and explain about Muhammad in the context of history, religion and our modern secular approach to everything. But here again her sources seem to be mostly western, materialistic, secularists or missionary types. These types of scholars haven't always done a good job of keeping their biases in check.

The plus for this book is that it is not meant for the converted who would prefer Martin Lings. It is also not too polemical like Haykal and it is much easier to read than the original sources like Ibn Ishaq. So I would recommend it for someone who wants an easy introduction to Muhammad's life. The serious student of history should go read the original sources.

I appreciate Karen Armstrong for trying but some serious scholar needs to do a better job of presenting Muhammad to an English speaking Westrerner who is truly open to learning with an open mind.

3-0 out of 5 stars This book is better called ¿Western perception of Muhammad¿.
The book looks at the development of Western knowledge of the Prophet and how this relates to the image of Islam as a religion. It is predominantly based on secondary production of material written in English and therefore suffers from the inherent bias it has tried hard to correct.

This has led to some obvious errors, such as the number of daily Muslem prayers, which is five rather than three. Likewise the prophet was the final messenger from God delivering the final revelations to all mankind, rather than to the Arabs alone. Similarly, Pilgrimage is not an Arab ritual, but a requirement by God (Allaah) started by Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son Prophet Ismail (Ishmael) before the Arabs even existed. Prophet Muhammad was ordered to restore this act of worship back to being pure to Allaah (God) alone, after pagans filled the Kabaa with idols.

More seriously, the author tried to explain the Prophet actions as thoughtful and planned sequence, which fails to relate to him being a Prophet. Rather than a successful leader or social reformer, the Prophet was simply Allaah's (God's) final messenger who passed the final guidance to mankind, upholding and correcting previous messages. What is great about this Prophet is that he went through the hurdles he faced to fulfil his duty, which is passing the message completely and accurately.

The beauty of the message and the wisdom of the sequence are credit to Allaah (God) alone. There is no point therefore in implying that the Prophet wanted to imitate the Jews by instructing Muslems to pray. He had no intention of his own and the lessons learnt in various parts of his life are those from God (Allaah). Every thing he said or did was the direct order from God (Allaah), from fighting to making peace. Daily prayer is a requirement by God (Allaah) rather than an imitation of Jews.

This pattern, of implied intentions, is repeated throughout the book and is totally untrue.

The book is close to a university dissertation, which makes it a complicated reading for an average reader who may not know much about the Prophet.

1-0 out of 5 stars The Prophet is an opressor of women
According to Fatima Mernissi in Beyond the Veil, the Prophet robbed women of their freedom. Mernissi is a Moslem author who is very honest about the founder of the Islamic faith.

According to Mernissi, Mohamed was a polygamist who married a dozen women. He was also a pedophile. His wife Aisha was 9 years old. He permitted Moslem men to marry four women simultaneously, even though he admitted that it is impossible to be fair to more than one woman.

Also, according to the Koran, and to Moslem Scholars today, a man has the right to beat his wife under some circumstances. I heard it from the mouth of the head of the Department of Fiqh or Jurrisprudence on Al Jazzera.

Like Mernissi, I am a Moslem woman too. There is no doubt that Mohamed was a disaster of historical proportion, if only because his followers are so attached to him today. ... Read more


165. The Forgotten Soldier
by Guy Sajer
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
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Asin: 1574882864
Catlog: Book (2001-10-15)
Publisher: Brassey's Inc
Sales Rank: 12502
Average Customer Review: 4.71 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (87)

5-0 out of 5 stars A great account of an unbelievable story
I had read several other World War two books prior to reading The Forgotten Soldier, including The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Stalingrad, and The Fall of Berlin. This book was the first to be written in the first person perspective.

I found his experience to be absolutely amazing. From boot camp where he learns how tought the war is going to be till the final days, his story is magnificent. What a perfect depiction of how WWII actually was during the Russian front. He found himself involved in many of the major battles including Kharkov, and Kiev. There were many memorable moments where he really shocks the reader with what he had to go through, and how war really affects the human mind.

It really hit home to me during the book when he turned 17. At the time I read the book, I was 17 as well, and it hit me. I realized that this was very very real, and that me and my friends could have been in his situation.

Overall i would highly recommend this book who wants to understand what WWII was really like, and what can happen to the human mind in times like WWII.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Eastern Front...
This book serves as one of the most powerful accounts of the Eastern Offensive (from the eyes of a young german soldier) all the way to its eventual retreat. Guy Sajer writes in a very candid style, describing everything from the cold to the fear one feels in the midst of a firefight - a fear I hope that I will never know.

I have had a few relatives fight in the war and as a boy I always wondered why they could not tell me about it. But as I grew older, after reading important works such as this, I grew to understand.

To live in that time, it must have felt as though the world and its entire human society was dying. Guy Sajer illustrates the feelings of this madness and personifies the numbers and BW photos. He too, must of felt the world was ending.

To all those that are interested in this stirring and raw account of the war, please also check out a book by Charles Yale Harrison titled "Generals Die In Bed". This was from one Canadian's personal account during World War I. I must say I was sick with grief and horror after reading it. His story about loosing a bayonett inside a young German boy is horribly sad, to say the least.

5-0 out of 5 stars Poignant and Powerful.
This is simply one of the most memorable and important books that I've ever encountered. I first read it in 1994 and it remains as vivid in my mind today as it did on the day ten years ago that I finished it. I have heard questions regarding its historical accuracy but can only say that his account of the nature of war can be supported by other German memoirs of the Eastern Front such as "The Black March." Was the GrossDeutschland Division in all the places that he claimed? Perhaps not, but I will say that, as the Eastern Front disintegrated, it was far from unusual for scratch companies to be formed regardless of where the units derived. Either way, it's a magnificent read. His desription of the Hitler Jugend before the battle of Belgorod is absolutely priceless with their banners reading "The World Belongs to Us." In chapter four, his romance with the Berlin girl Paula happens to be one of the most engaging and believable relationships I've ever run across in print. I've read it aloud to high school students and they loved it. The book should appeal to anybody who has experienced passion.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Shocking Tribute to the Endurance of Men
How much pain can men endure? As Guy said, "which ever side a soldier was on, if they've gone through this kind of hell, they can respect and admire the men, on either side, who suffered this kind of war."

The insanity makes brothers of them all.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Rare Gem
The Forgotten Soldier is to World War II what All Quiet of the Western Front is to World War I. The story traces the war time biography of a French soldier from the Alsatian region who enlists in the German army and fights on the Russian front.

The story is a gritty view of warfare and the camaraderie of soldiers undergoing shared hardships. This is not a biographical view of major battles or a digression of a commanding officer on tactics. This is a face buried in the mud, frozen toes, deathly afraid, empty stomach, survival story set in the harshness of a war that was fought in a grim manner. The focus is on the personal and emotional aspect of the soldier's story.

For additional reading on the soldier's life in World War II try Beyond Valor by Patrick O'Donnell.
P-) ... Read more


166. Francois Mitterand
by Ronald Tiersky
list price: $65.00
our price: $65.00
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Asin: 0312129084
Catlog: Book (2000-07-21)
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Sales Rank: 569519
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

François Mitterrand was a controversial politician with a contested strategy and a flawed character. In spite of being one of France's most detested political figures, he was also undoubtedly one of twentieth century Europe's most substantial, durable and statesmanlike leaders. From his much-disputed passages at Vichy during WWII through the major policies of his presidency, Mitterrand's career is a lens through which one can view the anxieties, fears, and instabilities, as well as achievements and successes of contemporary French political history. In this first major political biography since his death, Ronald Tiersky looks at the contradiction that was Mitterrand and the legacy he left to France and the world. This promises to be the standard book on this great world leader for years to come.
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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
This is a fascinating account of a fascinating life. Tiersky's own interactions with Mitterand over his decades-long career provide insight and color without exaggerating the author's importance or insider status. Tiersky examines all the key chapters of Mitterand's career: his Vichy past, his Resistance involvement, the Observatory Affair, Mitterand's triumph over the Far Left, his anti-Soviet geopolitical maneuverings, and his curious extramarital affairs. Mitterand's contradictions andh humanity make for great material, and Tiersky delivers a gripping read. This biography is nearly flawless with only minimal repetition near the end.

5-0 out of 5 stars Required reading on the "Machiavellian Republican"
Five years after his death, François Mitterrand has few defenders in France.The corruption scandals and personal revelations overshadowing his final years still tarnish his 14-year presidency.Amhearst College professor Ronald Tiersky has stepped into this void with an excellent biography that takes a fuller view of the paradoxical man known as "the Sphinx."His book François Mitterrand: The Last French President presents a fascinating account of the opportunistic twists and inspired turns of his long political career.Much of this manoeuvering was Machiavellian, but he had several long-term goals that were positive for France.Mitterrand's success in sidelining the Communist Party, reconciling the Left with market economics and promoting European integration -- all clearly explained in Tiersky's highly readable account -- were major achievements.

François Mitterrand: The Last French President is required reading for anyone wanting to understand Mitterrand and contemporary France.It is very usefully split into three sections dealing with Mitterrand's pre-1981 career, his record as president and (the longest section, and rightfully so) his complex "Machiavellian republican" personality and its legacy.The personal insights the author brings thanks to his many interviews with Mitterrand over the years contribute to the authority and depth of this lively book.That unique access can also be a weakness.Understanding him so well, Tiersky tends to excuse Mitterrand's duplicity more than a democratic leader deserves.But this is a small point compared to the book's overwhelming strengths.Even French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine admits, in his back-cover endorsement, that Tiersky's book has "some new insights, even for the French."

5-0 out of 5 stars The best on Mitterand in english
This is the best and most comprehensive biography of Mitterand written inenglish. Neither condenatory or adulatory, is a most for the study ofmodern political leadership. ... Read more


167. Red Azalea
by Anchee Min
list price: $7.99
our price: $7.19
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Asin: 0425147762
Catlog: Book (1995-06-01)
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Sales Rank: 25683
Average Customer Review: 4.32 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This New York Times Notable Book tells the true story of what it was like growing up in Mao's China, where the soul was secondary to the state, beauty was mistrusted, and love could be punishable by death. Newsweek calls Anchee Min's prose "as delicate and evocative as a traditional Chinese brush painting." ... Read more

Reviews (41)

4-0 out of 5 stars An oddly dreamlike memoir
Red Azalea is not difficult to read - it is a book easily consumed in one or two sittings. However, when it comes to the digestion of what's been read, that's a different story altogether. Red Azalea is the story of the author's childhood under China's Cultural Revolution, but tackled with seemingly simple language that manages to impart complicated undercurrents of meaning to the reader. Min has stated in interviews that she admires the painting style of Henri Matisse, and that her writing style is a reflection of that simplicity and naivete.

Red Azalea tells Min's story from elementary school where she is a good communist leader right off the bat, to her time spent at a farm where she has a relationship with her supervisor, to being chosen to star in a film version of one of Madame Mao's operas, Red Azalea. I found Min to be inaccessible, and the memoir difficult to ground in reality; however, this did not prevent me from enjoying the book and being vastly educated by it. The tone of the book was almost otherworldly, perhaps because of the lack of everyday details that would somehow anchor the events. I found myself often glancing back at the cover of the book, as if to remind myself that this was indeed nonfiction. Red Azalea is quite different from any book I've ever read: a memoir both complicated and simple, a plot both clear and elusive. Recommended for a challenge where you'd least expect one.

5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful personal history
Anchee Min's raw, abrupt writing style is a good vehicle for this compelling account of her life during China's misbegotten Cultural Revolution. From party loyalist to disillusioned communal farm serf to candidate for the starring role in an important propaganda film, her journey embodies the phrase "the personal is political." Surely few documented lives have been so victimized by politics as hers was. With all its rough edges, her spare, direct prose speaks through remembered pain to put experience into a larger perspective. Leaving the incredibly cramped quarters of her intellectualized family for the huge labor farm was an adventure that quickly soured, redeemed only by the dangerous passion she shared with an admired woman named Yan. The punishment meted out to a heterosexual couple found making love in the fields at night reflects the risks she and Yan were taking. Later, selected as the potential lead for a propaganda film, she competed fiercely with other young women equally desperate to escape the brutalities of farm life. Her story demonstrates how love does not depend on gender. One of the most remarkable sections of this memoir details the efforts she undertook to have a love affair with a party official referred to only as the Supervisor -- trying to connect in the midst of an anonymous crowd at a mountain Buddhist temple, and meeting him after dark in a notorious public park frequented by scores of others searching for love, or sex, in the midst of a regime that repressed sexual expression along with political freedoms. Indeed, in a society so fundamentally paranoid as she depicts, where citizens were conditioned to betray their neighbors over the pettiest infractions of party doctrine, it is a small miracle that she finally managed to leave China at all. Anchee Min is one of the lucky ones. The effects of the Cultural Revolution were felt long after it ended. As late as 1989, the democracy demonstrations in Tianamen Square were a direct, if delayed, reaction against it. Her book stands as a testament to the personal toll of a dictatorial government.

5-0 out of 5 stars A powerful, hypnotic read
A powerful, beautiful, achingly honest book. I was blown away when I first read this book. Beauty and pain co-exist side by side in this firsthand account of growing up under the Mao revolution. An extremely moving account of essentially what it's like to live under oppression. This book stayed in my memory for a long time.

4-0 out of 5 stars Mysteries seem just under the surface
Anchee Min's book is very subtle and I am impressed not only by what she reveals about China in the Maoist era, but also by what she hints at throughout the book. I wonder if other readers get the same sense that she holds back as much as she offers.

If the book is a memoir and not fiction, then the mysterious Supervisor must be a real person. I am intrigued by the parallels between the Supervisor, whose name she is never told, and Jiang Ching, whom she says she has never met. Did Anchee Min ever meet Madame Mao? Why does the Supervisor provoke the same feelings she has for Yan?

Anchee Min's lack of quotation marks and blending of dialogue in paragraphs made it tricky to keep straight who said what. I wonder if this was purposeful--to keep enough ambiguity in the writing to protect the identities. Certainly an American editor would have pointed out the conventions of print dialogue.

The ending of the memoir is also a puzzle, since it seems to end on such a despairing note for the rights of women in China. The gender equality that Red Azalea (the fictional heroine of the opera)seems to represent is finally and permanently suppressed with the imprisonment of Madame Mao.

Yet I wonder how the author rose above these social conditions and her own despair, during the years that followed the book, and escaped to the United States. Wouldn't she have needed help to get across the ocean?

Details of these crucial years, and whatever events may have led to her coming to the United States, are not included. Indeed, the letter from the friend from the U.S.A. seems to be a deus ex machina that doesn't quite explain the situation for me. Why don't we hear about this friend in the course of the narration?

There is more to the story than Anchee Min has revealed. I hope she will someday write about her voyage to America.

5-0 out of 5 stars A better understanding of life under Mao.
I bought this book after I had read Memoirs of a Geisha. I was looking to find another book that was just as good. While this book was not anything like MofG it was still a great read.

Anchee Min is an awesome write. At times I couldn't believe she was willing to let the reader know some things that many authors may have kept private.

Min gives great detail of what growing up under the leadership of Mao was like for a small child-then teen. It's hard to belive that life in the 60's could be so different in China that it was in the U.S. The part of the book that will keep its readers attention is when she goes to live and work as slave labor (even though she believes that she is being guided to a better life by Mao) at the Red Fire Farm.

I agree with another reviewer when they say this book is heartbreaking and erotic. Although this book is normally found in the fiction section of the book store, I think it is helpful in teaching the readers about what China and Mao were actually like.

Min is an author that should be noticed for her work as well as her survival. I hope that she will continue writing for many years to come. ... Read more


168. Malraux : A Life
by OLIVIER TODD
list price: $35.00
our price: $23.10
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Asin: 0375407022
Catlog: Book (2005-02-22)
Publisher: Knopf
Sales Rank: 39241
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169. An Invitation to Joy
by Pope John Paul II
list price: $30.00
our price: $19.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0684870339
Catlog: Book (1999-11-16)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 265744
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Invitation to Joy is an indispensable book for anyone who wants to understand the papacy of John Paul II. It is a straightforward, simple pictorial memoir that collects excerpts from the pope's writings and speeches (including one previously unpublished original prayer), sewn together with Vatican-approved commentary by former Time correspondent Greg Burke. In four chapters (entitled "The Human Family"; "The People of God"; "Human Dignity"; and "A Devotional Life"), John Paul II presents an epigrammatic, rough-cut portrait of his life and religious vision. ("'Life' is one of the most beautiful titles which the Bible attributes to God. He is the living God.") Each chapter contains dozens of color photographs of the pope, in almost every conceivable setting--from his own confessional in the church of St. John Lateran to New York's Central Park. (Many of these photographs sprawl across two full pages, and their emotional impact is difficult to describe in words.)

Archbishop Jorge Maria Mejia, archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, has written an exuberant introduction to the book, which is the best possible summary of the message that John Paul II offers in the pages that follow: "Here is a man, known around the world, who proclaims with gestures and words that life is worth living: that it has a meaning, that it is not closed off between two inscrutable abysses, that it is not inside itself, but is open to others; that love is possible and enriching; that all of us, men and women, whatever the hue of our skins, are called to form a family, with God." ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful array of photos
This book contains little excerpts from various speeches and works of Pope John Paul II. It also contains a brilliant collection of photos taken of the Pope over the years. It is an inspirational book, and a GREAT collection of photos, if you are looking for pics of our wonderful Pope.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and Moving
This book is deeply inspirational. What a great gift Pope John Paul II is to the world! The photograph of the Holy Father and Mother Theresa smiling into each other's eyes is incredible. This book is a personal treasure.

5-0 out of 5 stars -Very intense,astounding!...A golden light for anyone-
In his most recent account, His Holiness Pope John Paul the II is still representing a truly Christian view of not only Europe but the whole world. John Paul the II gives concrete examples of how you can be happy and live "joyfully" through the "living spirit". The Pope says that you must be humble and completely surrender to GOD. Only then can a "true beleiver" find a bit of peice in "the world of men". He goes on to site many examples, idieas , and even mentions some of the great saints in thr tradition! ... ... Read more


170. Evidence Not Seen: A Woman's Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II
by DarleneDeibler Rose
list price: $9.95
our price: $8.96
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Asin: 0060670207
Catlog: Book (1990-09-14)
Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco
Sales Rank: 15171
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This is the true story of a young American missionary woman courage and triump of faith in the jungles of New Guinea and her four years in a notorious Japanese prison camp. Never to see her husband again, she was forced to sign a confession to a crime she did not commit and face the executioner's sword, only to be miraculously spared.

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Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars Incredible triumph in the face of trials
This heartwarming, inspiring, challenging, well written book quickly shot to the top of the list of our family's favorites! I read it aloud to my family every evening at dinner time (FAR better than watching television!) and we were so gripped by the story that we would often sit around the table long after we were done eating, all other duties forgotten, reading page after page because no one could bear to stop listening!

Darlene Deibler Rose was an amazing young woman with a great talent for writing and a deep love for the Lord. She experienced far more trials in her lifetime than the average American, yet she never became bitter through any of them. She was such a good witness in the way she lived that even the Japanese commander of the prison noticed it. Her relationship with the Lord was living, breathing, alive, and active, not a dead "I go to church on Sundays" relationship. She held on to her faith even when she lost everything else she had. God was her refuge and her security, and sustained her through many events that could have devastated her had it not been for him.

This book is very refreshing and uplifting! It doesn't drag you down into the bleakness of prison or the mire of discouragement, although those things are very real and present in the book. It strengthens and encourages you, letting you know that no matter what trial you are facing, God will work everything for good in the end. I was moved to tears of joy at the end of the book, and now regard it as one of the very best books I have ever read. It reminds you that God never changes. Even when all else fails we can turn to Him for strength and support. I think there are many people whose lives are not right with the Lord even though everything is going well and times are prosperous. Here is a life that was wholly dedicated to God, no matter what He asked of her. She was being refined, as gold in a fire, and she came through pure and bright.

Everyone we have loaned or given this book to has enjoyed it immensely, and I know you will, too.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book changed my life.
I had always been pretty scared about issues such as war, torture, and prison camp. After reading Darlene's story, I know that God will be with me no matter what circumstances are! A "must" read for anyone and everyone!

5-0 out of 5 stars A testimony to one woman's faith and walk with God
"I will never leave thee" was the title to the Focus on the Family radio program narrated by Darlene Diebler Rose. In it she tells about her incredible trials and experiences while a prisoner in a Japanese concentration camp. After listening to the program, and buying the CD, I wanted to know and learn more from this tremendous woman, so I bought the book.

Darlene was a young missionary bride when she arrived in Dutch New Guinea to win untouched tribes to Christ. She and her husband had around one year in the field, winning a few converts but ended up imprisoned in separate prison camps. Darlene endured tremendous hardships yet kept her wits about her and walked by faith, always asking God for guidance. Whenever she lost faith and cried to God, He answered her by giving her His peace and assuring her that He would never leave her nor forsake her. He also gave encouragement and answers to her prayers, such as the time she was starving and dying in the dungeon in solitary confinement and she prayed for just one single tiny banana, and God brought the Japanese camp commander to visit her and gift her 92 bananas! [The story of the camp commander Mr. Yamaji is interesting in its own right, and without giving it away, I'll just say Darlene's living right with God had a great effect on him]. While in solitary confinement, Darlene spent her time walking with the Saviour, talking with Him, and playing in her mind the scripture that she had memorized as a girl. She had psalms, hymns, and even entire chapters memorized, and the right line at the right time seemed to pop into her remembrance and give her the answer she needed at that time. God's Hand could be seen protecting her, as there were several circumstances where she could have lost her life had she not followed God's prompting.

What I learned from this book is that no matter what the circumstances, no matter how dismal the situation, those who know Jesus are never alone. I also learned that a Christian's testimony and the way they walk with God is observable by even the hardest and cruelest heart and can allow the Lord to change them.

This book was very hard to put down, and I definitely will want to be rereading it in the future for all of the inspiration and hope it gives. I only wish she had a sequel telling about the rest of her life in New Guinea [yes, she actually went back after the war].

5-0 out of 5 stars Tremendous Inspiration
This was one of the most interesting, awe-inspiring books that I have ever read. Darlene Deibler Rose was such a wonderful, courageous woman. Her life was such an inspiration to me to trust God, no matter what circumstance that comes to me in life. She was candidly honest, but I appreciated that. It was not offensive but encouraging. I would recommend this book to anyone. In fact, my copy of this book is now in the hands of my mother. After she reads it, she is going to give it to my sister. The book stressed upon me also the importance of scripture memorization, and I am going to encourage my daughter to encourage her little girls while they are young to memorize scripture. I would love to sit down in person and thank Mrs. Rose for her wonderful book!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Rare Gem
I agree with the saying, "So many books, so little time" and rarely have re-read any book, let alone re-read a book immediately upon finishing it. THIS IS THE EXCEPTION. Upon reaching the last page I started over immediately, moved and enthralled and inspired by Mrs. Deibler Rose's story. I cannot recommend it more highly, and am already stocking up on copies to give out with Christmas gifts for friends, family and neighbors. Thank you Mrs. Rose for your faithfulness to our Savior and your candidness in writing this part of your history. Pat D. ... Read more


171. Looking for Mary: Or, the Blessed Mother and Me
by Beverly Donofrio
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140196277
Catlog: Book (2001-08-01)
Publisher: Compass Books
Sales Rank: 36460
Average Customer Review: 4.41 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Entering her fortieth year, Beverly Donofrio, a "lapsed Catholic," inexplicably begins collecting Virgin Mary memorabilia at yard sales. Her search for kitsch, however, soon becomes a spiritual quest, leading her to make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Medjugorje. There, she learns that Mary comes into your life only when pride steps out and receives a bonus: hope. In Looking for Mary, Donofrio offers the universal story about a woman who-in a quest for the Blessed Mother-finds herself. ... Read more

Reviews (32)

5-0 out of 5 stars inspiring on so many levels!
If you are Catholic and struggling, read this book! If you are a woman, a mother and struggling, read this book! If you need inspiration or faith, read this book!

What a wonderful read! I found this book accidently and Beverly would suggest that maybe I was led to it. I wouldn't argue with her.

Between the de-emphasis on Mary in the current US Catholic Church and the criticism of my Prostestant friends, I had lost a commitment to Mary. The rosary was passe and praying to her constituted icon worship. Though I am still grappling with the likelihood of the Assumption, Beverly's experiences have opened my heart to the love and support that Mary can provide. The Hail Mary is again tripping off my tongue.

Beverly speaks directly from her heart into the reader's with a voice that is real and powerful.

Yes, I believe Mary has a job for Beverly and it has started beautifully with this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Guilt! Travels! Miracles! And The B.V.M!
I loved this autobiography; one really comes to like and admire Beverly (hard to imagine not being on a first name basis with her by the book's end ) both for the courage in pouring her heart out and the witty charm of her writing style. A rare combination indeed.

For Protestants who believe that Mary equals idolatry, do not worry, sometimes whole weeks go by and we Catholics do not see a statue of Mary weeping tears of blood at our local parish.

Besides, this narrative is unlikely to make it into a Catholic Book of the Month Club (Is there such a thing?) what with Beverly deliberately writing that she hoped Jesus and Mary Magdalene got it on, that she couldn't bring herself to see J.P # 2 despite being granted a Papal audience because his stance on birth control and women in general is barbarically primitive; and that she loves worshipping (she knows damn well the party line is 'venerating') The Blessed Virgin Mary--or as Beverly refers to her, the B.V.M.

What we've got here is a repentant Christian, who is brought back to the Church, in spite of herself, through the Grace of The B.V.M.--who is frankly aware of the absurdity of her condition and yet tremendously grateful.

As for the travelogue, Beverly takes us to the spiritual heights of Medjurgoje; where seeing the sun spin out of orbit or having silver medals that turn into gold is commonplace enough to be blase, to the abyss of whitebread West Los Angeles, California, where a young priest beams at the congregation while recounting how much he likes to rollerblade (Like, groovy, dude!)

In the end, our heroine finds a home, liturgy and peace in Mexico. But the travels are only part of the panorama of sinners, saints, zealots, bigots, and other assorted lunatics which make up The Church (and this book.)

The redemption of Beverly is a bittersweet story. Hardest to take is her self-flagellation at not having been a good mother to her son, Jason,---who must be pushing 30 and sounds like he's turned out really quite well.

Even though to hear Beverly tell it, she sounds as if she sold him to child prostitution and broke his bones to get alms from strangers on the adcvice of her boyfriends.

Beverly, ease up, you weren't THAT bad of a mother!

She was a teenage mom who married a loon because she got pregnant. She resented her son for 'grounding' her during her youth, and avoided some tough choices by being his "pal" rather than his Mom.

Oh yes she also (gasp!) got involved with even weirder men and made a mess of her life while Jason tagged along--Ok, so it won't win he Donna Reed/ Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, but she wasn't exactly a Kennedy who could afford 3 nannies for Jason. As a matter of fact, she was essentially a kid herself who got very little help from anyone.

Plus there were episodes in which her behavior in defending her son were brave and truly exemplary but she dsmisses them when contrasting them to her acts of selfishness.

In any case, above all, this is a touching story, remarkably free of sentimentality and very, very human.

thanks, Beverly.

3-0 out of 5 stars Enhhh... I liked it but.....
I found myself skipping around a lot through this one looking for the interesting parts. I realize that D'Onofrio makes her living demonstrating her lack of mothering skills in literature, but this one tends toward the self-pitying from time to time. Her journey to find Mary leads her around the world and is somewhat lacking in structure. I wouldn't put it on the top of your "to-buy" list, but if you see an affordable or library copy, it is worth the afternoon it took me to read it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Really opened my eyes
As a Lutheran, I never really learned anything about Mary, other than the fact she was the mother of Jesus. But while at the library one afternoon, I was walking down an aisle and my eyes fell upon this book. It was tucked away behind some bigger books. I'm not sure why it stuck out but I picked it up, took it home, and read it. It was wonderful! It really made me more interested in Mary. While reading it one night, I smelled roses, which I found really strange, but oddly soothing. On the next page it says that when Mary is around, people say they smell roses.

I thought this was a wonderful book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Finding Mary
A friend recommended this book ... and I have to say it was a fine read. It's the story of Beverly Donofrio's search for meaning in her life via the Virgin Mary. She started out collecting Mary icons at yard sales and soon had an entire room dedicated to Mary. God does work in mysterious ways.

She delves in depth into her relationship with her son and how God healed that part of her life. But I had to laugh out loud at one statement she made. She said she just couldn't understand why God did not include Mary in the Trinity, bless her heart. What most people don't know (and male preachers/priests seldom ever mention) is that in the Old Testament God is referred to as El Shaddai. Shaddai is formed from "shad" (the breast) Genesis 49:25 or "The Breasted" - the "Nourisher", "the Strength-Giver", the "Satisfier" who pours Himself/Herself into believing lives. God is all female/all male and thankfully, much, much more than the sum of the two! ... ... Read more


172. The Essential Gandhi : An Anthology of His Writings on His Life, Work, and Ideas (Vintage Spiritual Classics)
by MAHATMA GANDHI
list price: $13.00
our price: $9.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400030501
Catlog: Book (2002-11-12)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 9943
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Mohandas K. Gandhi, called Mahatma (“great soul”), was the father of modern India, but his influence has spread well beyond the subcontinent and is as important today as it was in the first part of the twentieth century and during this nation’s own civil rights movement. Taken from Gandhi’s writings throughout his life, The Essential Gandhi introduces us to his thoughts on politics, spirituality, poverty, suffering, love, non-violence, civil disobedience, and his own life. The pieces collected here, with explanatory head notes by Gandhi biographer Louis Fischer, offer the clearest, most thorough portrait of one of the greatest spiritual leaders the world has known.
“Gandhi was inevitable. If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. . . . We may ignore him at our own risk.” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

With a new Preface drawn from the writings of Eknath Easwaran

In the annals of spirituality certain books stand out both for their historical importance and for their continued relevance. The Vintage Spiritual Classics series offers the greatest of these works in authoritative new editions, with specially commissioned essays by noted contemporary commentators. Filled with eloquence and fresh insight, encouragement and solace, Vintage Spiritual Classics are incomparable resources for all readers who seek a more substantive understanding of mankind's relation to the divine.
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Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Easy to Read Impossible to Forget
The best anything I've ever read about Gandhiji! I read this over 6 weeks when I was visiting India in the Fall of 2000 to see my mother for the last time. Every night I was so eager to read the book from the place I left the night before. At the end, the book was in several pieces but I still remember the highlights. A great author to write a great book about a unique soul!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Message for Today
Gandhi's words have never been so pertinent as they are today. This is an anthology of his writings, edited by topic in chronological order. It's an autobiography revealing Gandhi's evolution from a fearful young man, afraid of the dark, to a fearless leader who feared no rebuke by an empire. More than an aesthete in a modern world, Gandhi's complexity is revealed in each passage as he penitently reveals his transformation into selfless service and living simply. His words and actions inspired others to follow without fear of retaliation and could guide today's leaders to a peaceful resolve. The book reads like a primer on non-violence.

Eknath Easwaran's 18 page Preface is worth the price of the 339 page paperbound book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Must Read For All
This book is one of my favorite non-fiction books. The beauty of this book is that the main points are in Ghandi's exact quotes while the flow of the arguments are edited by his biographer, Louis Fischer, to give a great feel of direction. Because Ghandi edited his own newspaper his life-changing views are abundant and easily accessible. If only this book were read by all leaders of people.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Gandhi book available.
I have read every Gandhi book i could get my hands on, such as all his autobiographies, and this book is by far the best and just as accurate. With this book and the writings that are on his official website, you will have all the information you will ever need. One thing to keep in mind, that many people seem to forget, is that Gandhi was a normal man like you and me. He made mistakes just like every other man, but had the courage to always follow his 'inner voice' even in his unperfectness. This is a life changing book for those who dare to look within themselves.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Thoughts from a Great Man
This is a mind opening, life changing book. The thoughts and writings, spaning over the entire course of Gandhi's life, offer a glipse into the mind and habits of one of God's greatest followers. His peaceful approach to life and his undying love for friend and foe alike will motivate any reader to the highest level. This is a must read for anyone, regardless of nationality or creed, who wishes to see the potential all humans have within them. ... Read more


173. Like Family: Growing Up in Other People's Houses: A Memoir
by Paula McLain
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316597422
Catlog: Book (2003-03)
Publisher: Little, Brown
Sales Rank: 142368
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars witty, poignant, poetic
This woman got through her grinding childhood with something!
She sure can write!
Like Family is at once witty and poetic, and it rings true at many levels. Some of the descriptions are heart-wrenching in their honesty and vulnerability.
This book ought to be read by anyone who works with children in danger or in bureaucratic systems, for its ability to convey the recurring states of complete confusion and powerlessness that haunt these children.

5-0 out of 5 stars Are You My Mother?
In this highly descriptive and compelling memoir, Paula McLain shares with us her unstable, inconsistent, yet memorable childhood as a foster child growing up with her two sisters. She also shares her heartbreaking disappointments and adult perspective. I breathed a sigh of relief when I finished the book, knowing that Paula and her sisters reached adulthood and made better lives for themselves than their biological parents.

5-0 out of 5 stars Growing Up Scared
A couple of months after their feckless, volatile father lands in jail, Mom drops the three girls off at Granny's one evening and doesn't come back for 16 years. Paula, age 4, and her sisters, Teresa, 6, and Penny, 3, prove too much for the old lady and enter into a long and rocky relationship with the Fresno, CA, foster care system.

Paula McLain's harrowing memoir of growing up among strangers who may or may not become family teems with complex, shifting emotions. Chief among them, especially in the early years, is fear, and the yearning to belong to a family, any family. But that was not to be. Not quite anyway. McLain's fluid prose captures the reader with its immediacy; its sense of urgency and its intimacy. This is a page-turner with real orphan children to root for.

It never seems to occur to the girls, as it does to the reader, that they could be separated. But they never are, which is the saving grace of stability that runs through their Dickensian childhood. Their first brief placement ends with a charge of thievery, but their second is a mystery. The Clapps are wealthy and their children are grown. Mrs. Clapp has no humor and no affection. Her rules and routines are rigid and she is fanatically house proud.

One rainy day after school, the girls slosh through puddles to the car. "Just as we got to the Cadillac, the sky started to drop hail like frozen BBs. Mrs. Clapp sat behind the wheel in her lavender rabbit-fur coat, her dry fingers toying with the door lock as though it were a chess piece, deciding whether she would let us into the car. We'd ruin it, we would."

So what does she want with three little girls? This is not McLain's question; it's the reader's, and McLain never comes out with the horrifying answer, either. She simply takes you there and lets you see for yourself how things are. The third placement, also brief, is the most heartbreaking. These people want children, delight in their new girls, and yet suddenly, mysteriously, it's over and the sisters find themselves with their fourth family in three years.

"If we felt any hope that this new situation would be different, then it was the stowaway version, small and pinching as pea gravel in a shoe." The Lindberghs make no secret of their reason for taking in three foster girls. Their daughter, Tina, is an only child and wants siblings. It's that simple. Bub Lindbergh is a big bear of a man, "easy to love," who teaches the girls to ride and gets each of them a pony, while his wife, Hilde, a German immigrant, is prickly and unpredictable. She spoils her "real" daughter and delights in telling perfect strangers the sad history of her foster daughters.

McLain's anger comes through in shock waves of description - hilarious bizarre incidents perpetrated by blotchy, oversize, cartoon character Lindberghs. Interspersed with moments of tenderness, even joy. McLain (her first book of poems, "Less of Her" was published in 1999) is a visual, visceral writer unafraid to mix brutal honesty and laughter. She and her sisters are not easy children and never lose sight of the fact that, unlike other children, they can be cast off at any time, their worldly possessions lumped in a trash bag in the back of the social worker's car. It's a scary way for a child to live.

McLain's memoir is many things: a gut-wrenching portrayal of growing up insecure and longing for love, a celebration of sibling solidarity, a catharsis and a satisfying revenge on people who once had the power, and will recognize themselves as they read. Funny, bleak, angry and winsome, McLain's debut is beautifully written and compulsively readable.

5-0 out of 5 stars eloquent, wise, absorbing--and tough
Like Family is a beautifully written story of a childhood shorn of the protections and comforts that family ought to offer. McLain's finely rendered prose captures her experience vividly and paints rather than explains the hard, fragmented life she and her sisters were forced to lead in the California foster care system after her father left them and then her mother went to the movies and never came back. It reminds us how the idiotic passions and tragic weaknesses of adults can cause a train wreck of a childhood--and how a brilliant young girl with a sense of humor and a resiliant spirit can nonetheless survive, hold onto her sisters, and write a magnificent book. I read it without stopping, gobbling it down like stolen chocolate cake, and then turned around and read the whole book again,just for the joy of the language. Even though it is a hard-edged story, and sometimes I even wept a little, McLain is really very funny, too. And the soundtrack for the movie is going to be great. This book is destined to be a classic.

5-0 out of 5 stars Carverian childhood
Mclain grew up in Raymond Carver's America, but she writes more like Tess Gallagher. A touching, brutally honest memoir. ... Read more


174. Seduced By Success No Longer Addicted To Pills, Performance And Praise
by Ann K Anderson
list price: $16.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0785270760
Catlog: Book (1998-09-29)
Publisher: Nelson Books
Sales Rank: 342931
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

She won our hearts when she told us she was out to change the world.But Ann Kiemel Anderson discovered that success can be addictive, and soon she found that the world had changed her.Ann's first book in five years, Seduced By Success chronicles two major battles in her life:combating an addiction to the praise of others and overcoming an addiction to pain medication for a chronic illness.Drug-free for the last two years, Ann now shares heart-to-heart with her readers, saying, "I no longer want power and glory.God has given me a second chance to be used by Him.With quiet joy, I prepare to write something beautiful for God." ... Read more

Reviews (10)

4-0 out of 5 stars Very open and moving
Many years ago my sister gave me "I Gave God Time" before I was married. I always wondered what happened to Anne and Will. This is the story, but it is also a journey into self acceptance. I was moved by her book because she is so open and willing to show her frailties and struggles. Although not all of us are addicted to drugs, it is easy to become addicted to pleasing others and struggle with that. This book is a keeper.

4-0 out of 5 stars One of the crowd
When I first read Ann Kiemel's books I was moved and found myself trying to measure up to her standard of perfection -- baking cookies, singing to people, running marathons, waiting for the perfect man, etc.It's hard enough to live a good life, but impossible to live a perfect one.When I found this book my jaw dropped as I read about her "real" life.Drugs, sex --- I was sure she was going to confess to listening to Pink Floyd.It is a good book to read if you have ever felt less of a person because you were striving for perfection.Ann really opened up and I hope today she is happy.I look forward to the next installment in her life's journies.

5-0 out of 5 stars Healing through honesty
I've carefully read and reread this book several times. Ann's early books gave me direction and encouragement in my Christian walk, and this one, while completely different from the others, does the same. Too manyChristians are trying to keep up a cheerul face without dealing honestlywith hurts within. Ann's story will bring healing and hope to many.Thank-you, Ann, for peeling away the facade and walking us through yourpain and your growth closer to the Lord.

4-0 out of 5 stars Ann, we barely knew you
And I think I like her even better after this book.I've readall of her other ones and she is an inspiration.She is also verymelodramatic, but she has had a lot to be dramatic about.This bookwas a jaw-dropper.Ann Kiemel a drug addict and leaving her husband? Lordy!What's next Sandi Patty having an affair and Amy Grant getting a divorce?Oh wait, that happened too.In any case, it's a great moral lesson that people are not always what they appear, and who they really are is often even more inspiring than who they wanted you to think they were.

4-0 out of 5 stars From the Heart
When I met Ann in 1981 what struck me about her most was the love she showed for others. In this book she tells us of her inner demons and how she let them get control of her life because she needed us to love her. ... Read more


175. Battle Ready
by Tom Clancy, Tony Zinni, Tony Koltz
list price: $28.95
our price: $19.11
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0399151761
Catlog: Book (2004-05-01)
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap
Sales Rank: 2838
Average Customer Review: 3.24 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In his first three Commanders books, Tom Clancy teamed with Generals Fred Franks, Jr., Chuck Horner, and Carl Stiner to provide masterful blends of history, biography, you-are-there narrative, insight into the practice of leadership, and plain, old-fashioned storytelling. Battle Ready is all of that-and it is also something more.

Marine General Tony Zinni was known as the "Warrior Diplomat" during his nearly forty years of service. As a soldier, his credentials were impeccable, whether leading troops in Vietnam, commanding hair-raising rescue operations in Somalia, or-as Commander in Chief of CENTCOM-directing strikes against Iraq and Al Qaeda. But it was as a peacemaker that he made just as great a mark-conducting dangerous troubleshooting missions all over Africa, Asia, and Europe; and then serving as Secretary of State Colin Powell's special envoy to the Middle East, before disagreements over the 2003 Iraq War and its probable aftermath caused him to resign.

Battle Ready follows the evolution of both General Zinni and the Marine Corps, from the cauldron of Vietnam through the operational revolution of the seventies and eighties, to the new realities of the post-Cold War, post-9/11 military-a military with a radically different job and radically different tools for accomplishing it. It is an eye-opening book-a front-row seat to a man, an institution, and a way of both war and peace that together make this an instant classic of military history.
... Read more

Reviews (41)

5-0 out of 5 stars Tough critque from a Marine Corps legend
Tom Clancy lives up to his reputation...he has chalked up another best seller. "Battle Ready," is a stirring narrative of Anthony Zinni's legendary 40-year Marine Corps career.

Clancy's eloquent certification of Major General Zinni's military credentials provides a formidable platform for a very tough critque of the intellecutual authors of the United States invasion of Iraq. Moreover, Clancy's well-known hawkish convictions adds volume to Zinni's powerful charge that the Bush administration failed the American people.

The former United States Central Command Commander in Chief points many fingers...and backs it up with solid facts. Zinni is a classic gentleman and officer and like many other Marines I know from Philadelphia...he tells it like it is. To this end, Zinni has articulated the most powerful charges I have ever seen a retired Marine Corps officer use against an administration at war. Highly recommended.

Bert Ruiz

5-0 out of 5 stars A General Speaks Out
This is the latest installment of war thriller fiction author Tom Clancy's entry into the ranks of military biographies with his Commanders series. This is by far the most controversial entry given the subject matter and level of current debate.

Anthony Zinni hailed from Philadelphia and chose the Army as his career. Clancy covers his fascinating and highly successful career including his stint in Vietnam as well as various other outposts up until the time of his crowning Army pinnacle, commander of Central Command, the same post occupied by Norman Schwarzkopf and Tommy Franks.

Zinni's experiences at Cent Com provide the basis for the hot discussion of the book, not to mention its swift rise to the highest echelons of bestseller charts. The General's prominence along with his message regarding the rush to war in Iraq enabled him to jump start the book's celebrity status with an appearance on Sixty Minutes on CBS.

The outspoken Zinni writes that he suspected trouble at the outset where Iraqi policy was concerned. His book comments dovetail with press accounts, which had him warning his government about the dangers involved in a swift approach to combat. He lays the blame on the Defense Department, arguing that America was left unprepared for the task involved and the turbulence that resulted after the first phase of the war ended, at a time when victory was declared.

Zinni's outspoken comments are reminiscent of those of two prominent battlefield commanders at the time the Vietnam War was escalating. Generals James Gavin and Matthew Ridgway were heroes of World War Two and the Korean War respectively. They warned about the dangers of a prolonged conflict in Vietnam. They did not believe that conditions were conducive to the kind of decisive victory being foreseen at the Pentagon. Regrettably their warnings were not heeded.

Zinni has a better chance of getting through with his message, given the fact that the public response to attendant continuing difficulties has been much quicker than in the case of Vietnam. Also, many prominent figures from the military, the government, and the media have echoed sentiments Zinni expresses in the book.

General Zinni is a great patriot who loves his country. His critical warnings are meant to enhance America's best interests. He deserves an attentive audience.

3-0 out of 5 stars Thats it..?
"In the lead-up to the Iraq War and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence, and irresponsibility, at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption."

No description, no names, no real proof. Sure, we all know that the military has the same trappings as society, but I expected a little more in depth detail on the subject of "Iraqi Freedom" than just one general paragraph, given the face time he got in the press. This was no insiders critique, just a biography of a great man.

4-0 out of 5 stars Marine General Questions Wisdom of Bush
I voted for Bush. I am no liberal. But when I saw Marine General Tony Zinni, a conservative Republican, interviewed on "The Charlie Rose Show," I was intrigued enough to buy Zinni's book "Battle Ready." General Zinni had a 40-year career in the Marines and at the end was General Schwarzkopf's successor as Commander and Chief of CENTCOM (Central Command), and then Colin Powell's envoy to the Middle East.

In his career, Zinni faced and successfully adjusted to the new realities brought about by the collapse of the Soviet Union. After his service in Vietnam, Zinni's career as a soldier and diplomat took him to many of the world's hot spots, from Somalia to Indonesia. He foresaw the threat of terrorism.

In attempting to forge a new strategy to fit a chaotic new world, Zinni earned a reputation for candor. This trait was the result of a decision he'd made in Vietnam, after a wounded marine asked him, ''Sir, why are we here?'' Zinni, then a captain, replied with ''the party line,'' though he didn't believe it himself. Realizing his answer had been less than straightforward, he vowed never to give one like it again. ''If I felt something was wrong that put the lives of our troops in needless risk,'' he writes, ''I swore I would speak out.''

Toward the end of ''Battle Ready,'' Zinni declares that in the buildup to the Iraq war and in its conduct he saw, ''at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility; at worst, lying, incompetence and corruption''. In recent times, he appeared on ''60 Minutes,'' and called for heads to roll at the Pentagon, saying that American policy in Iraq is ''headed over Niagara Falls.'' In this way, Zinni's critique is far more serious than Michael Moore or anything else that the might be written off as left-liberal. It brings into question the very wisdom of the leadership of the Bush Administration.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not what it was advertised to be
I bought this book because of my interest in the War in Iraq and what I feel is the Bush administration's mishandling of the situation. That's not what I got.

I found the first part of the book about Tony Zinni's career in the military especially the war in Viet Nam really interesting. Since I am the same age as Zinni I would probably have been in the military with Zinni but for the fact that I am female. Zini's courage and reasoning and ultimate change in philosopby about the explanation for the War in Viet Nam was intersting and highly commendable. Since I have a son in the Marines, his insights into the Marine Corp and its mentality was also interesting. But as with most books by former service persons, I got tired of descriptions of General So and So, "one of the finest officers I've ever served with." Maybe it just comes with the turf, but there was a lot of that. No one was a rotten SOB and I'm sure that he met a few.

One of the problems with the book it too many authors. Perhaps the old adage about too many cooks, also goes along with too many authors. There were too many voices. This made the message very mixed.

If you want a biography of an officer and his career, read the book. But the criticisms of the current political and military situations that Zinni voiced on TV are not in the book. His message is that the military is not prepared for the current world situation and that the military changes very slowly. But it takes a whole book about many other subjects before he gets to that. ... Read more


176. The Surgeon and the Shepherd: Two Resistance Heroes in Vichy France
by Meg Ostrum
list price: $27.95
our price: $27.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0803235739
Catlog: Book (2004-03-01)
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
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177. Mr Tompkins in Paperback : Comprising 'Mr Tompkins in Wonderland' and 'Mr Tompkins Explores the Atom' (Canto)
by George Gamow
list price: $16.99
our price: $11.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0521447712
Catlog: Book (1993-03-26)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 19848
Average Customer Review: 4.85 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Mr Tompkins has become known and loved by many thousands of readers (since his first appearance over fifty years ago) as the bank clerk whose fantastic dreams and adventures lead him into a world inside the atom. George Gamow's classic provides a delightful explanation of the central concepts in modern physics, from atomic structure to relativity, and quantum theory to fusion and fission. Roger Penrose's new foreword introduces Mr Tompkins to a new generation of readers, and reviews his adventures in the light of current developments in physics today. ... Read more

Reviews (13)

4-0 out of 5 stars Very Entertaining
I wish they made an animation movie from this book. This is very nice introduction into Modern Physics expecially for those who is interested in Physics in young age but does not have rigorous knowledge of mathematics or physical concepts to understand it or for those who knows it but can not explain it to a teenager. Concepts covered is Relativity and Quantum Mechanics where speed of light is reduced to very low valus or Planck constant is increased to managable levels. You can see the strangness in everyday experiences.
Very fun to read or to give as a present to young future Physicist.

5-0 out of 5 stars Superb Intro to Modern Physics
I first read this about 50 years ago in graduate school, and was wonderfully stimulated. Despite many advances since, this book is still thoroughly up-to-date (except for particle physics and quarks). I remember mainly how Mr Tompkins suffers in a room where the speed of light has been reduced to 100 mph. Could never again think of simultaneity again in quite the familiar Newtonian way. That is but one example of the freshness of view that Gamow's fun-loving mind creates. It taught me more than most formal texts; and with so much more ease.I hope that he and Lewis Carroll have found each other in Heaven, and are discussing how to educate and amuse.

4-0 out of 5 stars It helped me understand...
I'm a novice at this subject matter, and I've recently started reading introductory books on quantum physics for fun. I read, "The New Quantum Universe" prior to reading this. This easy to read book filled in some gaps that that I had. It helped me grasp some concepts that had otherwise passed over my head when reading the other book.

I understand that this is a classic text and I can see why. It's fun to read, and provides a foundation for further understanding. It explains uncertaintity, radioactive decay, and electron shells especially well.

I may not fully appreciate the concepts I was able to internalize from this book for quite some time. I can say that I strongly recommend it to the layman or anyone who's eager to understand some basics of this incredible field of study.

5-0 out of 5 stars An alltime favorite!
A lovely reprinted edition of a peral from Gamow. The original edition has been out of print for a number of years. This 1993 edition has added commentary and a fascinating bio of Gamow. He was born in Odessa, in what was then Russia, --before the Soviet Union. The story of his escape to the West is straight out of a thriller. Only it is real! Gamow was referred to by a journalist, some time during the Cold War, as "the only scientist in America with a real sense of humor". He can take the most technical stuff and make it simple. Fun too! The book:--Intellectual treats, whimsy, but deep. Illustrated with lovely drawings by Gamow himself. Much of it can be understood by a child, and other parts might require a little concentration. All of it is great fun. Follow your imagination, and while you explore, you will learn about Einstein's theory of relativity. And in unexpected ways! You will see the wonders of physics thru the eyes of a child. With his unexpected thought experiments, Gamow has captured the imagination of generations of readers, and he has inspired a degree of curiosity that comes naturally to children.
The author George Gamow started in nuclear physics, during the Golden Age of Physics, worked with Niels Bohr in Copenhagen, then later in the US, on the Manhattan Project during WWII; and after the War, he was professor in Boulder Colorado. He has a building on campus of The University of Colorado named after him! He is one of the few scientists who wrote popular books. They are precious pearls, and they have been equally popular with my parent's generation as with mine. For awhile they were out of print, but luckely some have now been reprinted in recent years!
Other Gamow titles: Biography of Physics, Atomic Energy [dedicated to the hope of lasting peace], Physics of the Strapless Evning Gown,...We are lucky that Dover has reprinted some of them. Gamow's list of scientific accomplishments includes a 1948 landmark paper on the origin of chemical elements, the Big Bang model, and later work with F. Crick on DNA and genetic coding.-- Do more Gamow editions, Dover!
Review by Palle Jorgensen, September 2003.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to modern physics
This book is about 50 years old, but it has aged well. The basic ideas discussed in the book have not changed, although some discoveries in the intervening years have made a few parts obsolete. Gamow's writing is witty, yet rigorous. Without compromising scientific accuracy, he manages to make his narrative engaging and entertaining.

Gamow touches on some classical topics, as well as relativity and quantum mechanics. For instance, he explains probability theory and how it relates to thermodynamics using a vignette about a gambling system to win at Monte Carlo.

The author, renowned for his contributions to 20th Century physics and to its popular exposition, assumes a fair amount of sophistication on the part of the reader. This does not mean that it will be beyond the reach of most people, but it will challenge the reader.

This book is one of the recommended readings for a class I teach at drphysics.com. Many of my students have found this book to be helpful. ... Read more


178. Standing Alone in Mecca : An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam
by Asra Nomani
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060571446
Catlog: Book (2005-02-15)
Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco
Sales Rank: 13152
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

As President Bush is preparing to invade Iraq, Wall Street Journal correspondent Asra Nomani embarks on a dangerous journey from Middle America to the Middle East to join more than two million fellow Muslims on the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca required of all Muslims once in their lifetime. Mecca is Islam's most sacred city and strictly off limits to non-Muslims. On a journey perilous enough for any American reporter, Nomani is determined to take along her infant son, Shibli -- living proof that she, an unmarried Muslim woman, is guilty of zina, or "illegal sex." If she is found out, the puritanical Islamic law of the Wahabbis in Saudi Arabia may mete out terrifying punishment. But Nomani discovers she is not alone. She is following in the four-thousand-year-old footsteps of another single mother, Hajar (known in the West as Hagar), the original pilgrim to Mecca and mother of the Islamic nation.

Each day of her hajj evokes for Nomani the history of a different Muslim matriarch: Eve, from whom she learns about sin and redemption; Hajar, the single mother abandoned in the desert who teaches her about courage; Khadijah, the first benefactor of Islam and trailblazer for a Muslim woman's right to self-determination; and Aisha, the favorite wife of the Prophet Muhammad and Islam's first female theologian. Inspired by these heroic Muslim women, Nomani returns to America to confront the sexism and intolerance in her local mosque and to fight for the rights of modern Muslim women who are tired of standing alone against the repressive rules and regulations imposed by reactionary fundamentalists.

Nomani shows how many of the freedoms enjoyed centuries ago have been erased by the conservative brand of Islam practiced today, giving the West a false image of Muslim women as veiled and isolated from the world. Standing Alone in Mecca is a personal narrative, relating the modern-day lives of the author and other Muslim women to the lives of those who came before, bringing the changing face of women in Islam into focus through the unique lens of the hajj. Interweaving reportage, political analysis, cultural history, and spiritual travelogue, this is a modern woman's jihad, offering for Westerners a never-before-seen look inside the heart of Islam and the emerging role of Muslim women. ... Read more

Reviews (20)

3-0 out of 5 stars Brave
Asra is a courages lady fighting for women rights in masjid. Very few muslim women has the courage to speak against the elderly Imams of masjid, whom we assume have the right knowledge.
But its important for her to realize that gender segregation in Masjid does not mean gender inequality. A modern women like her may not feel uncomfortable praying among men but what about shy women who prefer praying by the side of women. Especially during prostration or doing sajda. Men in the mosque of virginia failed to communicate with her politely and explain her the reason behind gender segregation during prayers.
Also her views on premarital sexs are against Islam. I did not read anywhere in here book where she repented for her casual dating or premarital sex .Its important to remember as a muslim dating is forbidden for safety and also to discourage premature pregnancies . Asra has to change her views about premarital sex before calling herself a muslim.
Asra in her book gives a very good picture about the double standards of saudis and there discrimination against women. Her description about the pilgrimage(Hajj) was also very capturing.

One must read this book only to get the picture of the Hajj and to learn the sad state of some of the masjids in US which do not give equal rights for women to participate in activities of a Masjid.

2-0 out of 5 stars Self-Respect Comes First
Sorry, I'm not going to sound PC here, but I find it galling that Miss Nomani demands such respect from her religious community that she has neglected to give herself first.

While we may not find EXPLICIT prohibition against premarital sex in the Koran, surely Miss Nomani would be able to recogonize thenumber of implicit indicators against it. Religion aside, where are her morals, character and standards?

That said, and even if we are willing to overlook her morally lax behavior, can Miss Nomani tell me where in the Koran, or any relgion for that matter-- does it condon having children out of wedlock?To blame her lover for failing to recognize their "relationship" as she blames her mosque for failing to give her the respect she demandsis absurd, and flaunting the sanctity of her religion.Sorry, I can't see this woman as a role model, nor do I buy her attempt to be Hajar, or justify her choices and behavior by comparing it to Hajar.

Is this the behavior that "Nomani gently instructs readers about modern Islam and her role as a woman within it"?She seems to want to embrace only the parts of Islam that are most convenient, easily dismissing the highest standards of hayaa when she wants a lover and a baby.

Miss Nomani does not do Islam any favors in her attempt to "confront the sexism and intolerance in her local mosque and to fight for the rights of modern Muslim women" when she herself lacks the depth and understanding and self-respect and even the lowest standards of hayaa.

1-0 out of 5 stars Women's Inferiority Hardwired Into Islam
This author clearly means well but her task is hopeless.Section 4:34 of the Koran clearly states that men are superior to women and they should rule over them.The same section gives men the right to beat women.The Koran allows men four wives and the right to sexual access to any slave girl in his household.Inheritance rights are half those of men and women's testimony is given half the weight of men.This is all in the Koran and cannot be changed. In the Hadith Mohammed clearly stated that women's testimony was given less weight than that of men because "women are deficient in intellect." Visit any Muslim majority country and everyone there will be very familiar with these texts and interpretations.

The Ugandan government recently proposed a law which would make equality between the sexes mandatory and which would outlaw polygamy.Ugandan Muslims marched against it stating that the Koran clearly states that women are inferior to men and under their power. Any woman claiming to be a devout Muslim would have to accept a second, third and fourth wife and would have to grant that her husband had the Koranic right to beat her. Mohammed taught that if a woman or a dog walks in front of a man while he is praying that the value of the prayer is cancelled.Mohammed also taught that the majority of people in Hell are women.

It makes no sense to claim that misogynistic practices are cultural than than Islamic. Islam claims to be a complete system of government and a complete guide for all aspects of life.Islam is a culture.Where would these so-called cultural misogynies come from other than Islam?Its amazing that people think 1400 years of misogyny was a misunderstanding. As they say at Microsoft "its not bug, its a feature."

1-0 out of 5 stars This book is only one person's opinion....
and should not in any way be taken as an authority on Islam or Islamic teachings. Many problems faced are culteral and tribalistic in nature and should be recognised as just that, not that of pure Islam. The Quran is the Word of God, unchanged (till now) from its revelation sent through Angel Gabriel to our Prophet Mohmamad (PBUH). These words (as told in the Quran) will be protected until the Day of Judgement by God Himself.

It is not a "forward thinker" that attempts to change God's word...but a mere lost and arrogant person..trying to excuse their own misgivings through changing what is not theirs to change.

I am proud to be an American Muslim Convert for over two decades and I have never felt inferior or supressed as a woman in Islam. Modesty is an attribute for both Islamic "men" and woman to adhere to for the protection of the society at large.

5-0 out of 5 stars Courage
Asra came as a guest speaker to our human sexuality course at West Virginia University. It was very interesting and inspiring to hear her talk about her struggles. My family went through a very similiar situation in Charleston WV that she is currently fighting in Morgantown WV. It is nice to know that she is not just being pushed away, but is in fact fighting back. Although I have not yet read her book, she is a great speaker and an inspiring person. I am sure her book will be just as impressive. ... Read more


179. The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods
by Julia Hill
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0062516590
Catlog: Book (2001-04-01)
Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco
Sales Rank: 26728
Average Customer Review: 4.03 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

On December 18, 1999, Julia Butterfly Hill's feet touched the ground for the first time in over two years, as she descended from "Luna," a thousandyear-old redwood in Humboldt County, California.

Hill had climbed 180 feet up into the tree high on a mountain on December 10, 1997, for what she thought would be a two- to three-week-long "tree-sit." The action was intended to stop Pacific Lumber, a division of the Maxxam Corporation, from the environmentally destructive process of clear-cutting the ancient redwood and the trees around it. The area immediately next to Luna had already been stripped and, because, as many believed, nothing was left to hold the soil to the mountain, a huge part of the hill had slid into the town of Stafford, wiping out many homes.

Over the course of what turned into an historic civil action, Hill endured El Nino storms, helicopter harassment, a ten-day siege by company security guards, and the tremendous sorrow brought about by an old-growth forest's destruction. This story--written while she lived on a tiny platform eighteen stories off the ground--is one that only she can tell.

Twenty-five-year-old Julia Butterfly Hill never planned to become what some have called her--the Rosa Parks of the environmental movement. Shenever expected to be honored as one of Good Housekeeping's "Most Admired Women of 1998" and George magazine's "20 Most Interesting Women in Politics," to be featured in People magazine's "25 Most Intriguing People of the Year" issue, or to receive hundreds of letters weekly from young people around the world. Indeed, when she first climbed into Luna, she had no way of knowing the harrowing weather conditions and the attacks on her and her cause. She had no idea of the loneliness she would face or that her feet wouldn't touch ground for more than two years. She couldn't predict the pain of being an eyewitness to the attempted destruction of one of the last ancient redwood forests in the world, nor could she anticipate the immeasurable strength she would gain or the life lessons she would learn from Luna. Although her brave vigil and indomitable spirit have made her a heroine in the eyes of many, Julia's story is a simple, heartening tale of love, conviction, and the profound courage she has summoned to fight for our earth's legacy.

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Reviews (73)

2-0 out of 5 stars Book Falls Short of Legacy
Admittedly, the saga of Julia Butterfly Hill and the Luna Tree-sit is an incredible and inspiring tale. Anyone wanting to gain insight into the mind and motivations of Hill, and to share in her perspective of this 2 year long act of civil disobedience, will certainly want to read "The Legacy of Luna". Beyond these elements however, the book is a great disappointment and fails to live up to the monumental significance of the story it attempts to portray.

As many other reviews attest, "Legacy" is an easy read. I personally finished the book in less than 4 hours. This readability is unfortunately a result of the book's lack of substance and disconnected ramblings. In her rushed effort to complete the book Hill has failed to capture and articulate the genuine spirit of her action, instead providing a mostly dry account of day to day life in the tree mixed with meandering philosophy. By failing to consider the widespread effects and ramifications of the tree-sit - from its context and sometimes controversial influence within the modern environmental movement to the role the action played in effecting the dynamic of government forest policy on a local and national scale - Hill leaves the reader without a definite sense of just what the legacy referred to in the book's title is.

"The Legacy of Luna" also falls short of providing a comprehensive account of the story in its failure to address many significant events and efforts on the ground which directly related to Hill's success. The reader is instead brought along on the journey in the vacuum of isolation that was Hill's two years in Luna. Considering that the book was written while Hill remained in the tree, having no opportunity to stand back and take account of the bigger picture, Hill's perspective is understandable. Yet as a reader I was left feeling that much was left unaccounted for, including the massive community effort which supported Hill's action that is at best is given passing reference in the book. This considerable omission, along with comments contained in the book's jacket, unfortunately perpetuates the public's romantic perception that the tree-sit was the action of a lone individual.

As the author's Media and Ground Support Coordinator for over one year (I ceased involvement with the tree-sit in April, 1999), I have first-hand knowledge that Hill is a deeply spiritual, gifted activist and a passionate and articulate speaker and writer. Complaints regarding inaccurate timelines and erroneous accounting of events aside, the greatest disappointment is the book's failure to reflect the true legacy of Hill's accomplishments. In the publication of this book Hill was given what may possibly be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a long-standing and profoundly influential work along the lines of Aldo Leopold's "Sand County Almanac" or Edward Abbey's "Desert Solitaire". Instead, in her hurry to complete the book while under the daily pressures of her action, Hill has produced an interesting, yet unsubstantial account of her experience.

Readers desiring to learn more about the context in which Hill's action was conducted are encouraged to read David Harris', "The Last Stand: The War Between Wall Street and Main Street Over California's Ancient Redwoods". For another account of a personal journey within these magnificent forests Joan Dunning's, "From the Redwood Forest: Ancient Trees and the Bottom Line: A Headwaters Journey" will be of interest.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great book!
This is a great book and I enjoyed reading every page. Very inspirational and moving. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Autobiography
This novel is a fabulous autobiography of Julia Hill, and her experience living in a redwood tree for two whole years. At first I thought it would be dull- how could I read a story about a woman living in a tree? I was quickly hooked to this book though. What makes it really fascinating is that Julia wasn't your typical environmentalist. In fact, until she sat in the tree, she wasn't an environmentalist at all (she was a business major-gasp!). This book also points out that the traditional trees vs. jobs problem is a bit of a myth and the real culprits are the big executives who believe in killing all trees rather than practicing sustainable forestry. This novel is both inspiring and eye opening.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bravo!
I remember Julia Butterfly Hill making her stand and remember being so proud of her (and impressed with her bravery). This is a good book recounting what she went through and some of her thoughts over that period. So much of her love for this planet comes through and that was what really spoke to me throughout since I feel the same. I think its hard to write that kind of passion into words - but her actions speak so much more loudly than words. Wonderful work!

4-0 out of 5 stars The "Silent Spring" of our time
Julia Butterfly Hill is the Rachel Carson of our time. I loved this book ... There are very few people who "walk the walk." Julia truly shows us how to make a difference with this book. ... Read more


180. Stalin : The Court of the Red Tsar
by Simon Sebag Montefiore
list price: $30.00
our price: $18.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400042305
Catlog: Book (2004-04-13)
Publisher: Knopf
Sales Rank: 1414
Average Customer Review: 4.37 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent and Comprehensive Biography
This is a well-written biography by the British journalist Simon Montefiore covering Stalin's life from 1878 to 1953. Photos on the book cover depict Stalin with his associates (the magnates) but it is mainly about him in the period 1932 to 1945. The author attended Cambridge University and has written one previous historical book "Prince of Princes" plus he has written two novels, and contributed many articles on Russia and those regions of the old USSR to the Sunday Times, the New York Times, and created various other written and TV works. He is very well qualified and does an impressive job examining original Russian sources such as letters and diaries, interviewing survivor's relatives or consulting with scholars, etc. From the book, one must conclude that it must have taken a long period of time to pull all the facts together and write the book - since the book is lengthy - is almost 800 pages long with the introduction, photos, maps, notes, lengthy index, etc. Plus it has many references and comments. In short it is not a quick read.

There are many things that one can say about the story and Stalin but I will try and limit my comments. Needless to say I recommend the book. It holds your attention and in many ways is quite fascinating. In any case, what really brings this book to life are two things, i.e.: the author uses a lot of quotes or accurate summaries from primary sources that are conversations or communications either written or spoken by Stalin or received by Stalin, so we get the feeling that we are back in the USSR on some chilly Moscow night at the Kremlin or on the warm Baltic coast at his dacha listening to the conversations as observers, plus the author inserts four sets of black and white photos that show all the main characters including Stalin's second wife Nadya, different associates (the magnates) such as Beria, and it gives the reader some perspective as one proceeds through the book. Without these photos and good writing I think this would be a much more difficult read for the average person to keep an interest in the book - and to follow while wading through the many pages of Russian names and relationships. So the author has done excellent background research job for the book and then he does a good job at presenting the material to keep our interest. Also there is a certain degree of drama in the book during the loss of Stalin's second wife and the invasion of the USSR by Germany.

In the book the author tells us that he is attempting to provide an accurate and complete biography of the man and his politics, not just the one-dimensional evil genius that is the normal perception of the man. We learn that Stalin enjoys his family life, and endless parties and dinners, hunting trips, billiards, visits by his children, comments by his mother, and his reading from an extensive personal library, singing and dancing, etc. His personal life is not all rosy and you will see that when you read the book. The author reveals these human sides to his complex personality and it works to a point in the book. Also, he gives the reader many details on the war, and the near destruction of Moscow, Stalin living in the subway, meetings with Churchill, Mao, Tito, endless diplomatic and business dinners, drinking binges with many including Churchill, and meetings with his associates to plan the war or the next purge, etc. But in the end it is a story about a ruthless killer that seized control of large country and retains power through the use of a terrifying secret police, bands of armed thugs, mind boggling torture techniques, firing squads, rigged courts, random killings, party purges, killing off of millions of independent farmers and business people, labor camps, and all the mayhem that this entails. But the author for the most part manages to keep the book an interesting read and an educational historical experience.

Overall this is an excellent and well-written book that I would highly recommend to anyone interested in the man and European history. I read it cover to cover and enjoyed the book. Also, I read many of the notes and comments. As a follow up I would suggest "Khrushchev" by William Taubman. It is a highly acclaimed best seller. The same author Taubman has written other books on the Soviet Union and Stalin's foreign policy.

Jack in Toronto

3-0 out of 5 stars OK book but not for beginners
Mr. Montefiore certainly worked hard to get this book right and his intimate look at Stalin and his inner circle certainly is worth reading if you are already knowledgable about Stalin and the happenings of the Soviet Union under his rule. THis book goes to a level where we almost know what Stalin had for dinner every night. It spends much time on his relations with his family, friends and comrades. I am sure this will enlighten some.

On the other hand this book is not recommended for non-Stalin scholars. Important external details (like much of WW2) are omitted so it is hard to figure out exactly what is happening at times. The onset of the Cold War is even less well explained, although some events, like the meetings with Churchill and FDR are explained in detail.

I would say the greatest plus of this book is its description of a tyrant going mad, eliminating every person around him who might be a threat and creating new threats out of an overwhelming imagination. I would say the greatest flaw is the picture much of the book draws of Stalin as some sort of intellectual who likes to eat with friends and party with women. WHile this is going on millions are dieing, but hte focus remains on the fete of the evening and not the atrocities.

Finally, while I understand Mr. Montefiore is Jewish, his focus on who is and is not jewish was quite off=putting. If somebody did not tell me he was jewish I would have guessed he was leading to some sweeping anti-semitic conclusions. I was not sure through the whole book why I needed to know who was Jewish and who was not. Maybe in England the word "Jew" is used as an adjective before a name like the Jew, Leon Trotsky, but it is not common in the U.S. and as I just said, it turned me off tremendously.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Most Compelling Book I've Ever Read About Stalin
"Stalin: The Court of The Red Tsar" is simply the most compelling book I've ever read about Stalin, and I've read a few (from Martin Amis to Solzhenitsyn to Robert Tucker to Volkogonov.) Montefiore has the skills of a novelist with narrative drive, smooth prose, and psychological portraiture. He also has ransacked a treasure-trove of freshly available documents like personal correspondence, newly published memoirs, and in-depth interviews with family members of the Soviet elite. The result is the most gripping picture yet of this time and place in world history.

Interestingly enough, the Soviet leaders were like a small town where everyone knew and lived in close proximitity with each other. Add to this the murderous habits of the Bolsheviks and you get something which looks amazingly like "The Sopranos": family men who were also monsters. (I guess David Chase just has great instincts for this kind of material.) There's also a resemblance to "I, Claudius" in the mixture of power, family banality, and horror. For example secret police chief Beria was a loving husband, father and grandfather who also personally tortured, raped, and killed his victims. (Human bones were recently found in the basement of his old mansion, according to Montefiore.)

The author also has a sure grasp on the moral and intellectual issues raised by Stalin's life. He says that the Communists were a fanatical sect and compares them to the "Islamo-fascists" that we face today. He also gives an amazingly rounded portrait of the human side of the dictator and the people around him. We learn about Stalin's mistresses; that the secret policeman Yezov's flighty, doomed wife slept with the great writer Isaac Babel; that Stalin ordered the destruction of his wife Nadya's entire family (including one woman who had an affair with him.) This is an absolutely essential book which you must purchase immediately.

5-0 out of 5 stars At Last, a Stalin Study Free of Cold War Hyperbole!
Montefiore's study of Stalin is truly the first, comprehensive, academic study of Stalin WITHOUT the ubiquitious Cold War rhetoric and moral grandstanding of so many previous English language biographies. Unlike Payne, Ulam, Tucker, and Lacquer, for example, Montefiore provides readers with an exhaustive examination of Stalin and his close associates for what they really were: Human beings who loved, hated, gossiped, told bawdy jokes, back-stabbed, got drunk, went on picnics, struggled with self doubt, cried, worried about their careers, enjoyed singing folk songs, spent long hours at the office, played with their children, endured personal health problems, and grieved for lost family members. This book does NOT focus on geopolitics or diplomacy but rather the million-and-one seemingly day-to-day activities that make up the thing we call Existence. Based on many interviews and newly-opened Russian archives, Montefiore presents a fascinating, lively, and well written study for both the scholar and the general reader. Stalin and all of his lieutenants -- including Molotov, Kagonovitch, Mikoyan, Beria, Zhukov, and dozens of others -- are portrayed not as two-dimensional robots mindlessly spouting-off Marxist-Leninist slogans, but rather as ordinary persons struggling with the mundane pettiness of Life. As a result, this tome leaves nothing sacred, and makes no apology for the horrific crimes committed by the Stalin regime. Nevertheless, because of the everyday banality of these individuals, it only makes the reader think of the hatred and destruction ordinary humans are potentially capable of....

5-0 out of 5 stars Horrifyingly Fascinating Account of Stalin
I must admit that I feel a bit of guilt for the compulsive manner in which I read this highly personal account of life in the court of Stalin. This well-told story is horrible, but fascinating.

Montefiore makes no effort to dissect the big geopolitical issues of the Stalin era, except to use them as a backdrop to the backstabbing, denunciations, groveling, and horror in which the senior leadership of the Soviet Union operated from the early 30s until the early 50s. Using in-depth interviews and newly-available archival information, including much of the correspondence between and among the senior leadership, Montefiore fleshes out what was going on under the surface, in particular the complex love-hate (mostly hate) relationship of Stalin to his court.

It's a wonderful account of a country run by leaders who viewed their role more as mafiosi than as leaders of a legitimate government. In a real sense, they were gangsters and that's the way they ran the country--including the way Stalin required the leadership to all participate in the Great Terror (he wanted all them to have blood on their hands and thus share in the collective guilt).

The author's behind-the-scenes view of the Great Terror is the centerpiece of the book. His portraits of Yeshov and Beria, the two most malignant monsters after Stalin, will now be etched into my memory.

But in the end, the book is a portrait of Stalin, a man who could turn on the charm, perform an act of kindness for an old comrade, then in the next moment sign the death warrants of hundreds of innocent victims. I disagree with other reviewers who criticize the author for treating Stalin too kindly. There's no question where Montefiore stands: he views Stalin was a monster, and Stalin's occasional human touches makes him even more so.

I've had long-term interest in 20th century Russian history, particularly trying to understand how a country could find itself in the hands of the personification of evil. This book helps answer the question.

A final point. Montefiore is an excellent story teller. I don't pretend to be in position to judge all his conclusions, but they have the ring of truth to them, and the author is good about telling the reader when he's departed from evidence into speculation.

I recommend this book. I only wish that in reading it, I lacked the guilty fascination that comes from watching an entire nation turned into a train wreck by a single evil man. ... Read more


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