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$9.75 $6.84 list($13.00)
81. Almost French: Love And A New
$16.07 $9.50 list($22.95)
82. Bat Boy : My True Life Adventures
$14.93 $12.79 list($21.95)
83. The Mind Tree: A Miraculous Child
$16.29 $9.50 list($23.95)
84. Love in the Driest Season
$11.20 $5.94 list($14.00)
85. Swimming to Antarctica : Tales
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86. Reading Lolita in Tehran : A Memoir
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87. A Matter of Opinion
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88. We're Just Like You, Only Prettier
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89. Stolen Lives : Twenty Years in
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90. Detour : My Bipolar Road Trip
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91. Nasty : My Family and Other Glamorous
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92. The Big House : A Century in the
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93. A Random Act : An Inspiring True
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94. To End All Wars
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95. 25 to Life: The Truth, the Whole
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96. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank:
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97. More Than Money : True Stories
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98. King of the Jews
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99. Swimming With Scapulars: True
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100. Omaha Blues : A Memory Loop

81. Almost French: Love And A New Life In Paris
by Sarah Turnbull
list price: $13.00
our price: $9.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1592400825
Catlog: Book (2004-08-05)
Publisher: Gotham Books
Sales Rank: 13619
Average Customer Review: 4.41 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The charming true story of a spirited young woman who finds adventure--and the love of her life--in Paris.

"This isn't like me. I'm not the sort of girl who crosses continents to meet up with a man she hardly knows. Paris hadn't even been part of my travel plan..."

A delightful, fresh twist on the travel memoir, Almost French takes us on a tour that is fraught with culture clashes but rife with deadpan humor. Sarah Turnbull's stint in Paris was only supposed to last a week. Chance had brought Sarah and Frédéric together in Bucharest, and on impulse she decided to take him up on his offer to visit him in the world's most romantic city. Sacrificing Vegemite for vichyssoise, the feisty Sydney journalist does her best to fit in, although her conversation, her laugh, and even her wardrobe advertise her foreigner status.

But as she navigates the highs and lows of this strange new world, from life in a bustling quatier and surviving Parisian dinner parties to covering the haute couture fashion shows and discovering the hard way the paradoxes of France today, little by little Sarah falls under its spell: maddening, mysterious, and charged with that French specialty-séduction.

An entertaining tale of being a fish out of water, Almost French is an enthralling read as Sarah Turnbull leads us on a magical tour of this seductive place-and culture-that has captured her heart.
... Read more

Reviews (22)

5-0 out of 5 stars Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris
In an unpretentious manner, the strong yet empathetic Turnbull relates the transition from her Australian home to a new life with her French fiance, adding a good twist of dry, self-deprecating humor. A freelance journalist, Turnbull has a knack for describing the salient and entertaining episodes succinctly yet vividly, which prevents the story from descending into monotony. From meeting her husband's extended family to attending haute couture fashion shows, Turnbull candidly assesses her new environment. She also takes the stereotypes of French culture, such as the obsession with aesthetics, acknowledges their basis in reality, and then delves deeper to find an explanation for each. Turnbull's love for her husband tempers the frustration and humiliation she experiences while mastering not only the language but also the idiosyncratic rules and customs of the French. This enjoyable and insightful book is suitable for public library collections

4-0 out of 5 stars Seduced by Paris
I don't know if Sarah Turnbull author of "Almost French" could be described as 'spoiled' as one reviewer suggests, but I do know that reading the memoir of her years adjusting to life in Paris provides enough proof to allow me to categorize her as 'adventurous' perhaps, 'impulsive', throughly 'enamoured' with her adopted city and possessing that "je-ne-sais-quoi" that gives us pause.

Meeting Frederic while on a journalistic assignment in Bucharest throws a curve ball in Australian-born Sarah's easy-care wash-and-wear lifestyle where getting dressed up means making sure there isn't any caked mud embedded in the soles of her Doc Martens. On a romantic whim, she takes Frederic up on his offer to visit him in Paris, and suddenly Sarah finds herself living in the City of Lights where her honed communication skills become meaningless in the whirlwind of French.

Language is not the sole barrier keeping Sarah outside the proverbial candy store window with her nose pressed up against the glass. She doesn't quite understand the French social situation where quiet mannered restraint is the order of the day. In chapter after chapter of amusing Anglo-Saxon vs. French/Latin anecdotes and speculations, Sarah allows us a sparkling glimpse of her personal epiphanies: how acquiring a dog allowed her otherwise forbidden entry, why wearing sweatpants in the street lowers the standards of an entire city, how she could NEVER eat low-fat again, how the Latin interpretation of the law leads to furtive games played opposite the French authorities, how wording something in seemingly flowery language lands her the money needed to sponser her journalism course and why becoming "almost French" isn't nearly as important as "just being yourself." Sarah is certainly not 'spoiled', she's just a victim of intense culture shock. Her revelations are imparted with a cozy friendly narrative sprinkled with just enough dialogue to imbue each character with some depth. I would like hear more from her in a further book as the shock wears off or new shocks electrify with new situations.

Readers expecting the details of Sarah's personal relationship with Frederic, her future husband, to be spun out like a rich romantic fairytale, be warned; even though the book is subtitled love and a new life in Paris, the love portion remains private; she relates only that they met in Bucharest, connected and suddenly were living together in France. The reader catches glimpses of Frederic as the quintessential Frenchman; the memoir focuses on Sarah's adjustment, not to Frederic, but to his country and its occupants. It makes for charming light reading and is recommended to all who like travel essays and don't mind a change from finding the provincial country idyll to discovering the heartbeat of a city.

5-0 out of 5 stars Will whoever borrowed it last give it back? Please?
Sarah Turnbull, an Australian journalist, takes a year off work to travel. While she is roaming around Europe she meets a Parisian named Frederic, who invites her to visit him in Paris. It sounds like a good idea at the time; she does, although by the time her plane lands at Charles de Gaulle she is beginning to wonder what possessed her to agree to stay with essentially a complete and total stranger.

The visit goes well, though; so well, in fact, that she moves permanently not just to Paris, but into Frederic's apartment. The memoir that follows is a charming and amusing account of two cultures, embodied by two very different people -- the uptight, nattily dressed Frenchman and the casual, easy-going Aussie -- trying to coexist in a small space. He is appalled when she wears her sweat pants to pick up her morning baguette ("But it's not nice for the baker!"); she doesn't understand his sense of humor. This is a happy story that ends with a wedding, but not before the author has myriad battles with the language, countless misunderstandings with the the customs of the place, and some truly homesick spells yearning for Australia.

I found this book laugh-out-loud funny (although I'll admit my reaction may have been a little extreme) because I have spent time in Paris and saw myself very clearly in Ms. Turnbull's language struggles, efforts to get a journalistic career going, and just general befuddlement. I've passed my copy on to some travelling companions who felt the same way I did. But even if you've never been to France, "Almost French" is well-worth reading for the entertainment value alone. The descriptions are apt. The voice is personable and interesting, so much so that by the time you've finished, you'll feel not just that you've visited Paris, but as if you've made a new friend while you were there.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very Insightful
Almost French is the story of how Sarah Turnbull, an Australian, moves to Paris and slowly becomes French herself. She covers many of the cultural differences that served as stumbling blocks for herself and anyone else who might find themselves in the same situation. She manages to lift the veil on the reason why Parisians are generally considered rude......the simple fact that they don't know you and that it takes time (alot of time) to build a friendship there. It also serves as an informative eye-opener for anyone who may be considering a visit to France with its abundance of useful information for getting by. Definitely recommended for any Francophile or potential visitors.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not so intimate, or romantic
Sarah Turnbull has written a book that will appeal particularly to people familiar with the typical Australian lifestyle. I found it a well written observation from within the heart of France of the differences between the French and Australian lifestyle and customs. This is not a novel about romance, it is more of a memoir of experiences that stem from a romance, but it does start and end in fairytale style.

I read this book while vacationing in Australia, because it happened to be left behind in the apartment I was staying in, and curiously because I've always had it as one of my goals to learn the French language one of these days.

I found the book an easy read and thoroughly enjoyed Sarah's observations on French culture, in particular their social customs. Being Australian and knowing quite a few French people myself I can empathise with a lot of Sarah's views that stem from the French "amour propre", or self pride that is oft misconstrued for arrogance when it comes to language and social etiquette. Sarah is well in touch with her Australian inner self and the descriptions of events when her boyfriend Fred is holidaying with her in Australia are very amusing. The Frenchman's description of swimming in the surf as being "too violent" had me laughing out loud. I could have left out the Paris fashion show experiences, and her desires to move closer to the centre of Paris for the simple reason that the new postcode would label them with a higher social class status actually appalled me, as it might the "average" Australian.

Sarah does tease us though with here complete steer away from the intimate details of her life. It must have taken a very powerful reflex to want to spend a two week "holiday" with a man she'd met once over dinner a while beforehand. We are left wondering what made the "holiday romance" so successful in the two weeks she spent with him, and subsequently we are also left wondering what Sarah and Fred's recipe for success on the relationship side is. I couldn't help but get the feeling that Sarah has written a book about the side issues that are inevitably associated with the real reason for her desire to live in France, which is of course her lover. The result is a story with a romantic shell but a substance of experience outside of the real driver or purpose for it to be there in the first place.

The book ends in a fairytale style where she walks down the aisle and gets married. And lives happily ever after ? I am sure Sarah and Fred will find out. ... Read more


82. Bat Boy : My True Life Adventures Coming of Age with the New York Yankees
by MATTHEW MCGOUGH
list price: $22.95
our price: $16.07
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385510209
Catlog: Book (2005-05-03)
Publisher: Doubleday
Sales Rank: 14596
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Read!
There are so many wonderful moments in this book that I don't know where to begin:the naive and persistent phone calls that led to the job, the letter McGough's father wrote him on his first day of work (read it and see if you don't shed a tear), the part where McGough loses his meal money to fellow players playing blackjack on the team plane, and a relief pitcher gives him a $100 bill, the road trip to Fenway Park, where the players set him up on his first date...the list goes on, but even more poignant are the personal experiences McGough had with heroes Don Mattingly and Jim Abbott, who are portrayed as both noble and funny.Talk about meeting your heroes and having them exceed your expectations.

This is a beautiful book written with great sensitivity and insight.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Touching and Insighftul Memoir
McGough really nailed it with this memoir. He takes us back to an era when the Yankees weren't ferociously competitive every year, but instead more closely resembled perrenial losers. The narration is seamless, and McGough very effectively incorporates numerous aspects of clubhouse life into his book. As an avid Yankee fan, this book rings a certain bell with me, but in no way do you have to be a Yankee -- or even basbeball -- fan to enjoy this book. It is a book that begs its pages to be read, and it is often hard to resist the temptation. Bat Boy is well-written and demonstrates the power of sheer determination and persistence.

5-0 out of 5 stars A perfect summer read
For a transplanted New Yorker who did not grow up a Yankee fan, Bat Boy tells a story that is relatable to everyone.It is a quintessential summer read, full of funny anecdotes while delivering a message that hard work and perseverance pay off.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not just for baseball fans
Bat Boy is a compelling and entertaining book, even for someone who isn't necessarily a baseball fan.It is a story about the dreams of youth, when everything is still new and possible because we haven't yet been made timid by caution and restraint.Bat Boy is about deciding what you want, going for it, and miraculously getting it.And what is perhaps even more rare, finding that achieving and living a dream can be as good or better than the fantasy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hate the Yankees, love the book!
It's a tribute to the author that I, an ardent Mets fan and Yankee-hater, really enjoyed the book. Maybe that's because, for all the funny baseball anecdotes and fascinating insider scoops, this isn't just a baseball book--it's a memoir, and the coming-of-age thrust of the narrative is quite effective. McGough manages to convey both the arrogance and insecurity that a 17-year-old boy in an infinitely enviable position--hanging out with his heroes, traveling with them, getting paid (among other perks)--must have felt.

The story is touching without being overly sentimental, and it rings true. Best of all, this isn't one of those corny "Baseball=life" stories; McGough skillfully interweaves the two main elements of his story with humor and a light touch. I actually laughed out loud in some parts, and was genuinely moved in others.

While baseball fans will surely enjoy this book on another level than their non-baseball-loving peers, any reader with an appreciation for clever writing and hilarious tales of hubris and naivete should read this book. ... Read more


83. The Mind Tree: A Miraculous Child Breaks the Silence of Autism
by Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay
list price: $21.95
our price: $14.93
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1559706996
Catlog: Book (2003-10-09)
Publisher: Arcade Publishing
Sales Rank: 72558
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Once in a great while, a special person emerges in the history of science and medicine whose unique set of characteristics sheds light on an entire disorder and sometimes even on the mysteries of the human brain.Tito is such a person.Although he is severely autistic and nearly nonverbal, his ability to communicate through his extraordinary writing is astonishing.At the age of three, Tito was diagnosed with severe autism, but his mother, with boundless hope and determination, read to him and taught him to write in English.She also challenged him to write his own stories.The result of their efforts is this remarkable book-written when he was 8 to 11 years old-comprising profound and startling philosophical prose and poetry.His beautifully crafted language reveals how it feels to be locked inside an autistic body and mind.THE MIND TREE is the work of an artist.With each page, Tito bursts through his silence into a world of art, beauty and hope. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars Extremly touching
I loved Tito every moment I read the book and have immense respect for the dedication, persistence and effort of his mother Soma. She seems to be a very strong woman to handle it all alone. But I have to mention this that I hated the part where Tito writes he was hit hard until he paid attention. I have seen and heard of many successful people who cannot ever forget their childhood abuse by their parents even though they were for good reasons.This is a very wrong concept used earlier and is not encouraged any more by many many people these days. Even though hitting might prove right for some reason it does a permanent damage to one's inner self.

5-0 out of 5 stars The book that will change your perception of "normal" life
My brother's daughter is a an autist child of similar age to Tito. This book has so emotionally moved me that I do not have Tito's genius to express them in words.

I understand that one child in every 250 born could be an autist. Then it is a must that the rest 249 must read this book.

Simply amazing and I wish a very happy life for Tito with the fullest kindness and consideration from humanity at large - the least I can wish for the author.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book
I found this book absolutely fascinating. For a severely austistic child to be able to write and voice his thoughts is an incredible feat. All the hype behind it is very appropriate-this is a book that should have exactly that sort of exposure. Tito allowed his writings to be published, not only so they could be shared with the general public but also to raise awareness about autism. A severely austic child is clearly not a helpless case as many people before believed and if there are other books out there like this one, perhaps The Mind Tree will help bring attention to them.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good book, but disregard all the hype
As autobiographies by autistic people go, this is a fairly good one. Written by an autistic boy from India, it details his early life, the sometimes brutal methods his mother used to teach him to type, and his life since he learned to communicate. He writes the story about himself primarily in the third person, and there is poetry at the end. This is basically an American release of _Beyond The Silence: My Life, The World, and Autism_ that was published in Great Britain in 2000.

The main difference -- perhaps the only difference -- between this book and its British counterpart, is the hype. It's clearly visible in the subtitle -- "Miraculous Child Breaks the Silence of Autism" strongly resembles the "Extraordinary Autobiography of an Autistic" from the subtitle of _Nobody Nowhere_, the earliest book by Donna Williams. This sensationalism used to be typical of books by autistic people who could speak, and it seems that people have taken longer to accept as normal books by autistic people who can't speak. Which is strange, considering both sorts of books have been around the same amount of time. There is a lot of talk on the back cover and the first several pages about how there is nobody in the world like Tito and his mother, how he is the first to write a book like this, and so forth. None of these claims are true, and other books like this by people who have learned to type using similar techniques have been published, but most of the others didn't have a powerful organization providing financial backing and publicity.

That said, it's actually a pretty good book. It does defy a lot of stereotypes, which along with the others like it, should be a good thing in the long run, as long as people remember that there is more than one book like this. The book is no more miraculous than it's miraculous that I'm sitting here typing this review, but the author has a writing style which should keep readers entertained and informed to the end. I especially liked the sections where the author describes being put in front of audiences and answering questions that he found easy, and getting a lot of attention for it. That seems to happen to a lot of autistic people, and his description is subtle and amusing. Readers familiar with books by autistic people will find his descriptions of sensory issues and cognition familiar as well.

I didn't like how indifferent he was about being smacked around until he paid attention -- a lot of authors, like Donna Williams, have addressed abuse specifically as something wrong while acknowledging that it may have caused some paradoxical benefits, and I wish this book had done the same. I was also smacked around in similar contexts, some of them resulting in things that may have been positive, but I don't condone it, thank the people who did it, or complain about people who tried to put a stop to it -- so that part disturbed me.

The author's plea for a society in which nobody would be viewed as 'normal or abnormal', but would all be respected as who we are, is well worth listening to. That is the most important message I would take away from this book. Beyond the glitzy hype on the cover is a real person who clearly wants to be seen as a real person, a predicament lots of autistic people can identify with. ... Read more


84. Love in the Driest Season
by NEELY TUCKER
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0609609769
Catlog: Book (2004-02-17)
Publisher: Crown
Sales Rank: 14278
Average Customer Review: 4.75 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Love in the Driest Season
I read this book in one day and it gripped me from the 1st page. I ran the gammot of emotions from pity to outrage, to happiness, and excitement. Neely and Vita are strong and very determined people who allowed nothing to stop them in their quest to make Chipo their daughter. If I thought I COULD I would be adopting a child so desperately in need but the government needs to make SWEEPING changes in order to give these poor sick deglected babies even the smallest chance at life and love. You will come away deeply affected by this book,

3-0 out of 5 stars Many fascinating stories in one..... too rushed...
I recommend this book but be warned....
Neely Tucker's life as a foriegn correspondent required he write quick short summaries and that habit left this book choppy and somewhat confusing. There is so much more that could be said about his historic childhood, his rise from poverty, his heroic life as a foreign correspondent, his brave marriage and then his life with his daughter. Neely lived 'large'. This was a big life and needed a bigger book.
Glad I read it ...would like to read more.

5-0 out of 5 stars For the love of a child.
Neely Tucker, a white journalist posted in Zimbabwe, and his wife Vita, a black woman, fall in love with a female infant in an orphanage in that country. The baby's name is Chipo, which means "gift" in the local language. The story, a family memoir, details the couple's attempts to adopt this baby with whom they have fallen in love. The story also explains the political situation in Zimbabwe, which is unstable and volatile, especially toward foreign journalists. There is also a great deal of information about the AIDS crisis in Africa, and how this dread disease has impacted so many families and created millions of orphans. These three topics were interwoven in the book to make a fascinating and extremely interesting story. I could feel the Tuckers' frustration with the bureaucratic red tape they had to wade through in order to someday adopt Chipo. I admired their tenacity--all because of their intense love for this beautiful baby. It would be interesting to follow this little girl into adulthood, and I hope Neely Tucker has such a possibility in mind.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Wrenching, Ultimately Wonderful Story
Despite being a wonderful book, LOVE IN THE DRIEST SEASON was difficult to read. Or maybe I should say, "Because it is a wonderful book."

This is a wrenching, ultimately wonderful tale of an American couple who adopts a child. Most, if not all, adoption stories are unique and traumatic at times. This one surpasses a lot of assumptions. For one thing, Neely and Vita Tucker are anything but an average married couple. Both raised in rural Mississippi, they carry with them memories and experiences of American racism. Neely is white; his wife Vita, eleven years his senior, is black. Neely is an experienced war correspondent who has worked for years at the Detroit Free Press, covering the horrors of war, torture and ugliness all over the world. When he and Vita (who has a degree in liberation theology and a background as a paralegal and researcher) move to Zimbabwe so that Neely can serve as the Free Press's African correspondent, they search for something to do in their community.

Ultimately, they end up at an orphanage that is overwhelmed with abandoned children. Many, indeed most of the children at Chinyaradzo Children's Home, have been orphaned by parents who died of AIDS. In past times, children were not abandoned, but taken in by extended families; now, there are few families that can take up the burden. A baby girl named Chipo, or "gift," catches Neely and Vita's eyes and they decide to try to adopt her. They cannot have children of their own, which is seen as a tragedy by the people they meet in Zimbabwe.

Realizing the irony of trying to save one child in the face of the devastation of AIDS, an uncaring and massively overburdened government and the amazing disdain (even paranoia) of President Robert Mugabe, Neely, during this story, is still traveling all over Africa as a reporter. Unlike some reporters who are almost too good at being objective, Neely relates every spin, every defeat, every feeling that these people went through in order to save Chipo's life. They took Chipo in not knowing if she had AIDS, and fought month after month to keep her healthy. But they're not saints, and they don't pretend to be. This is the strength, and pain, of the book. These are somewhat ordinary people --- but with extraordinary patience, resolve and heart.

Neely's job takes him away and often Vita spends weeks alone with a child who wakes up crying hour and hour. At one point, when Neely comes home, he describes his wife as having that thousand-yard stare because she is so sleep-deprived. But neither of them ever thinks of quitting.

The determination of Neely and Vita astounded me. I cannot imagine doing what they did. Some Zimbabwe officials were extremely skeptical of Americans (especially white Americans) wanting to adopt a black baby from Zimbabwe --- it's not done, and sometimes it's seen as some form of kinky sexual gratification. Some assumed that the Tuckers must have bribed someone, which is ludicrous considering all of the work they put in, but apparently not uncommon with the horrid bureaucracy that people seem to deal with in the Mugabe government.

It was so hard to read of the losses, the deaths and the failures at the orphanage --- Vita and Neely more than once decide that they must take in a second child, only to witness that child's death. They already have challenges in their own lives. Neely's parents would not attend their wedding; coming from a racist culture, his parents could not and would not accept that their son would marry a black woman, not to mention an older black woman. And yet one of the finest moments in this story is when Neely's father states (in front of his 50th high school reunion class) that he is proud to have a granddaughter from Zimbabwe named Chipo.

The Tuckers lived in the midst of chaos in Zimbabwe; as Robert Mugabe's regime collapsed, they got out just before the worst chaos. But over and over, they encountered apathy, suspicion, hate and bias; as a journalist Neely was often targeted as someone who reported lies. He was in Nairobi within hours of the embassy bombing, and his descriptions are pure hell to read. He and Vita both dealt with anger and despair, the most amazing stress and depression.

Fortunately, their story ends well. I have nothing but admiration for Neely and Vita, who went all out to save one life. And they are aware of the irony --- that that was all they could do in the face of poverty, indifference and the most astonishing bureaucratic meltdown I've ever seen (it makes some of the bureaucracies I've dealt with seem like models of efficiency). This is a story that must be read and understood, so that these people's lives can be seen and admired.

--- Reviewed by Andi Shechter

5-0 out of 5 stars LOVE, RED TAPE, AND A CHILD'S SMILE
"There are defining moments in your life, in which your measure is taken for good and you remember it always. So it was for me then." The reason for this quote is manyfold as it encompasses the whole experience of what this book is about..a reading experience that should please anyone that likes non fiction. The author, a news reporter...white, married to a black woman living in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) wanting to adopt an orphan. This is the premise of the whole book, but you would not believe what they had to go through to accomplish this mission. In fact, the story of how this child came to be is a story all by itself as covered in the Prologue. A fine read with a reminder of what it is like in countries other than the U.S.A. ... Read more


85. Swimming to Antarctica : Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer
by Lynne Cox
list price: $14.00
our price: $11.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156031302
Catlog: Book (2005-03-07)
Publisher: Harvest Books
Sales Rank: 13551
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Just about every other person in the world seems like an unfocused dilettante compared to long-distance swimming legend Lynne Cox. Soon At the age of 14, after several years of training hard in pools and the open sea, she was swimming the 26 mile stretch from Catalina Island to the coast of California. A year after that, she surpassed a lifelong goal by not only swimming the English Channel but setting a new men's and women's record in the process. Rather than be satisfied, Cox aimed still higher, conquering the Cook Strait in New Zealand, the Strait of Magellan and, the Cape of Good Hope, none of which had been swum before. Being the first to swim the Bering Sea from Alaska to what was then the Soviet Union is perhaps Cox's most impressive achievement, requiring a phenomenal amount of physical strength and endurance to withstand the chilly waters and diplomatic persistence to gain permission from Gorbachev during the Cold War. Swimming to Antarctica is Cox's remarkably detailed account of her major swims and all that went right and wrong with them. While there are plenty of highs, as one might expect in a memoir by so impressive an athlete, all is not sunshine and roses for Cox. She overcomes extreme physical hardship, predatory sharks, and a swim through a sewage-soaked Nile while suffering from dysentery. There is plenty in Swimming to Antarctica to encourage even non-swimmers to work hard to achieve the seemingly impossible, but Cox, a skilled and highly readable writer, sticks to the swimming, leading the reader by example. For thrills and inspiration, it's hard to find anyone better than Lynne Cox. --John Moe ... Read more

Reviews (27)

5-0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Story
I was promted to read this book after hearing Lynne speak at a conference.Her determination is amazing!What really impressed me was that she is not at all what I expected of a long-distance swimmer.She is very down to earth and almost soft-spoken.She is not some ultra-buff althlete looking person.She looks like the average person on the street.Most of all, she is not at all intimidating.Swimming is truly a labor of love for her, as is bridging nations.Very inspiring!

5-0 out of 5 stars Nice Book
Lynne Cox has done a very good job describing some harrowing situations.Her drive and determination is inspirational, and the book is well-composed.My hat goes off to her.

5-0 out of 5 stars Focus on the accomplishment, not the pain
Lynne Cox is such an inspirational writer that the reader concentrates on her exceptional accomplishments, both physical and mental, rather than the extreme pain and struggle it took to accomplish them.From her early teens, Cox has eliminated almost everything else from her life to dedicate herself to open-water swims in treacherous and freezing waters, including crossing the Bering Straight between Alaska and the Soviet Union, and swimming a mile in the Antarctic Ocean.

What I really loved about this book is the way Cox struggled not only with the physical challenges of the swims but also struggled to make the swims mean something more to the world at large.For example, the Bering Straight swim took something lik 16 years of meetings and negotiations to arrange, hundreds of donors and volunteers.But in the end that swim stood as a testament and metaphor for the improving connections between nations.Everywhere she goes, Cox seems to have inspired anyone fortunate enough to witness her.That this has come with a great deal of personal sacrifice--money troubles, social limitations, significant nerve damage--is humbly underplayed in the book.She has a kind of determination and self-confidence that transcends a particular athletic endeavour.

That Cox does not *look* like anyone's idea of an endurance athlete just adds to the inspiration -- she's 45 and she's swimming to Antarctica...so what's MY excuse?

5-0 out of 5 stars great story
This is one of those can't put down books. I read mostly non-fiction and this is one of the most exciting you could ask for. What this girl accomplishes is truly amazing and her writing ability is first class. When browsing for books I use Knopf as a guide in my selection process because I feel they have an excellent rep as a publisher and it worked again. Buy and enjoy!

4-0 out of 5 stars Very Inspiring
I find Lynne Cox a very inspiring and determined woman.I loved this book although, I wish we got to learn a little more about Lynne outside of the water, she seems like a likeable, well rounded,intelligent person.Fascinating. ... Read more


86. Reading Lolita in Tehran : A Memoir in Books
by AZAR NAFISI
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.76
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375504907
Catlog: Book (2003-03-25)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 4741
Average Customer Review: 3.88 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

An inspired blend of memoir and literary criticism, Reading Lolita in Tehran is a moving testament to the power of art and its ability to change and improve people's lives. In 1995, after resigning from her job as a professor at a university in Tehran due to repressive policies, Azar Nafisi invited seven of her best female students to attend a weekly study of great Western literature in her home. Since the books they read were officially banned by the government, the women were forced to meet in secret, often sharing photocopied pages of the illegal novels. For two years they met to talk, share, and "shed their mandatory veils and robes and burst into color." Though most of the women were shy and intimidated at first, they soon became emboldened by the forum and used the meetings as a springboard for debating the social, cultural, and political realities of living under strict Islamic rule. They discussed their harassment at the hands of "morality guards," the daily indignities of living under the Ayatollah Khomeini's regime, the effects of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, love, marriage, and life in general, giving readers a rare inside look at revolutionary Iran. The books were always the primary focus, however, and they became "essential to our lives: they were not a luxury but a necessity," she writes.

Threaded into the memoir are trenchant discussions of the work of Vladimir Nabokov, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Austen, and other authors who provided the women with examples of those who successfully asserted their autonomy despite great odds. The great works encouraged them to strike out against authoritarianism and repression in their own ways, both large and small: "There, in that living room, we rediscovered that we were also living, breathing human beings; and no matter how repressive the state became, no matter how intimidated and frightened we were, like Lolita we tried to escape and to create our own little pockets of freedom," she writes. In short, the art helped them to survive. --Shawn Carkonen ... Read more

Reviews (112)

4-0 out of 5 stars A literary tour-de-force
Azar Nafisi's memoir, Reading Lolita in Tehran, is the sort of book you should pick up if you want to assure yourself of how well-read you are, or perhaps to remind yourself that you are not well read at all. In the back of Ms. Nafisi's book is a list of recommended reading, some of which deals with Iran, but much of which is the fiction about which she writes in the book.

Having only read some of the novels about which Ms. Nafisi writes, I don't think I can adequately discuss the literary criticism woven throughout the book. The story of the book club itself is often not the main focus, as Ms. Nafisi gives a crash course in Iranian revolutionary history and delves into her personal life as well as that of the women in her book club. The combination of the three is an intriguing and potent conceit; learning how everyday life in Iran affects these women is compelling and evocative. Intertwined with commentary and comparison of some of the great books of western literature makes it even more so.

It would be had to say that one does not learn one thing, if not many things, from this book. Certainly it inspires you to read some of the books Ms. Nafisi writes about, if only to re-read the book and access a new level of understanding.

5-0 out of 5 stars Reading Lolita in Tehran : A Memoir in Books
Nafisi details her experiences in Iran from 1979 to 1997, when she taught English literature in Tehran universities and hosted a private seminar on Western literature for female university students. Born and raised in Iran, the author offers readers a personal account of events in the postrevolutionary period that are often generalized by other writers. She was a witness to compulsory veiling, the "cultural revolution" that closed and purged the universities, the Iraq-Iran war (including missile attacks against Tehran), and the Ayatollah Khomeini's death. Nafisi provides readers with a view of Tehran during these tumultuous two decades and describes the ways that individuals resisted and defied the new regime's restrictive policies concerning both women's and men's behavior and dress. Readers interested in Western literature and the ways that key works could be interpreted by those living in different settings and times will find this book fascinating. Specialists on Iran, the Middle East, and Islam will also find the work unique, controversial, and informative. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Most public and academic collections and levels.

5-0 out of 5 stars Classical Celebration
<br /> Through turmoil, heartbreak and heartache comes the courageous and celebrated life of women. This will be one of the classics that will be handed down through the generations to come. A beautifully written and prolific book for all to read. <br /> Other reads are: Nightmares Echo by Katlyn Stewart,A Paper Life by Tatum O'Neil <br />

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Style
Excellent style of writing,a story that captures your attention and holds it. I am a fan of Non Fiction works, Particularly that of Memoirs-Autobiographies. This book is meaty and hard to put down. Other Non Fiction works that have caught my attention are- Running With Scissors,One Child and Nightmares Echo

2-0 out of 5 stars didnt like it either
I had a few probs with this book.

1. Nafisi talks at length about the vices of the islamic republic of iran - which i wholly empathize with - however, she fails to give substantial background on the how the country reached this state ie. the radical secularism that plagued the country only a generation before, under the 'shah'. And while this seems like a mere detail, its very significant, as it provides a sociological context for the political ongoings Nafisi writes so much about.
2. she seems a bit whiny to me and kind of passive....
3. maybe its bc i havent read most of the books she mentions, but I found her running commentaries on the books a bit boring and tedious. I felt like i was reading a book report or something.
4. the one thing i expected from this book was a heartwarming narrative of female bonding (think female"dead poets society" or "how to make an american quilt"). instead, i found the relationship nafisi conjurs somewhat empty and unsatisfying. i felt like she was trying to take me somewhere and we never got there.

so i didnt really like this book basically. ... Read more


87. A Matter of Opinion
by Victor S. Navasky
list price: $27.00
our price: $17.82
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374299978
Catlog: Book (2005-05-11)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Sales Rank: 27849
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Book Description

Victor S. Navasky is the renowned editor, writer, and teacher who has been at the helm of The Nation for almost thirty years.A Matter of Opinion, a scintillating reflection on his journalistic experiences, is also an extraordinary political document-a spirited, provocative argument for independent journals of opinion as vital to the health of democracy.

Whether at the satirical magazine Monocle (which he founded when he was in law school), or at The New York Times, or finally at The Nation, Navasky's commitment to political engagement and to the social and intellectual values of independent cultural activity has always been front and center.In a wonderfully entertaining narrative, he tells of his innovative efforts to find money to keep The Nation afloat and to keep its pages lively, honest, and relevant, and he embellishes it with unforgettable stories-about his colleagues and opponents, from E. L. Doctorow to Bill Buckley; his heroes, from I. F. Stone to J&uuml;rgen Habermas; and his precedessors, from Daniel Defoe to Carey McWilliams.

Navasky's accomplishments have been legion, despite the threats of revenue-driven multinational media corporations, and despite the sometimes ugly, sometimes hilarious problems that fearless muckrakers face in any culture.A Matter of Opinion is a passionately written, irresistibly charming account of a great journalistic tradition.
... Read more

88. We're Just Like You, Only Prettier : Confessions of a Tarnished Southern Belle
by Celia Rivenbark
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312312431
Catlog: Book (2004-01-07)
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Sales Rank: 16493
Average Customer Review: 4.29 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (14)

4-0 out of 5 stars Southern Humor Rises Again
Florence King, Molly Ivins, Bailey White, Jill Conner Brown, and now Celia Rivenbark. The tradition of Southern Belle humorists lives on.

We're Just Like You, Only Prettier is similar to the Sweet Potato Queens books, but not as outrageous. Still, I found myself reading a good portion of this book out loud to anyone who would listen. Even if there is no one else around but the hound dog, you might enjoy reading this book aloud, with a (fake, if necessary) Carolina accent to get the full flavor of the humor.

5-0 out of 5 stars Celia Rivenbark RULES!
Ever since I read the "Sweet Potato Queens Book of Love," I have been hooked on literature for Southern women. When I saw the title of Celia Rivenbark's new book, "We're Just Like You, Only Prettier," I knew this is an author for me. Everything she writes about is humorous and timely, at least for me...having a child when you're a little "more mature," having long pretty nails, taking your precious child anywhere, family, etc. Celia is a hoot! Now I can't wait to read "Bless Your Heart, Tramp." I read "We're Just Like You, Only Prettier" in one sitting. This is a wonderful, entertaining book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Miss Celia is the secret love child of Louis Grizzard
Hilarious southern humor. If this doesn't make you bust a gut laughing, nothing will. She's got the nuances and the southern lingo down pat. She also makes a mean chicken pan pie when she isn't tossing fruit bars in the backseat of her car for her toddler to eat! Can't wait for her next book. Hurry, hurry, Celia, tempus is fugiting!

5-0 out of 5 stars Oh . . . My . . . Gawd!!!
This has to be one of the funniest books I've ever read! Rivenbark is a genius when it comes to observations and has so perfectly captured the South that it's scary. I've had the privelage to have lived there and up north, and let me tell you, it's a completely different country. Rivenbark's South is not the moonlight and magnolias of "Gone With the Wind." It's more like Reed's "Queen of the Turtle Derby" or McCrae's "The Bark of the Dogwood--A Tour of Southern Homes and Gardens," in its use of humor. I just can't recommend this book enough. Y'all go buy it now!

5-0 out of 5 stars Precious
Ms. Rivenbark has a delicious sense of humor, I am so glad I bought this and couldn't help finishing it in one day. ... Read more


89. Stolen Lives : Twenty Years in a Desert Jail (Oprah's Book Club (Paperback))
by Malika Oufkir
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786886307
Catlog: Book (2002-05-01)
Publisher: Miramax Books
Sales Rank: 9572
Average Customer Review: 4.06 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A gripping memoir that reads like a political thriller--the story of Malika Oufkir's turbulent and remarkable life. Born in 1953, Malika Oufkir was the eldest daughter of General Oufkir, the King of Morocco's closest aide. Adopted by the king at the age of five, Malika spent most of her childhood and adolescence in the seclusion of the court harem, one of the most eligible heiresses in the kingdom, surrounded by luxury and extraordinary privilege.

Then, on August 16, 1972, her father was arrested and executed after an attempt to assassinate the king. Malika, her five younger brothers and sisters. and her mother were immediately imprisoned in a desert penal colony. After fifteen years, the last ten of which they spent locked up in solitary cells, the Oufkir children managed to dig a tunnel with their bare hands and make an audacious escape. Recaptured after five days, Malika was finally able to leave Morocco and begin a new life in exile in 1996.

A heartrending account in the face of extreme deprivation and the courage with which one family faced its fate, Stolen Lives is an unforgettable story of one woman's journey to freedom. ... Read more

Reviews (197)

4-0 out of 5 stars five stars for story and three stars for style
Malika Oufkir tells us the powerful and tragic story of her life in the book Stolen Lives. She begins the story describing her life as a princess after being adopted by the king of Morocco. She lived an almost unreal life of luxury while at court. The opulence Malika describes is comparable to the time of Marie Antoinette. From the resplendent court, her life is irrevocably altered when her father fails in an assassination attempt and her entire family is placed in prison including her three year old brother.

The family's story is extraordinary. Their triumph of spirit is remarkable considering the duration and horrors which they suffered. We see the importance of unity and belief of oneself and each other. We see incredible love and sacrifice. But we also see how imprisonment can degrade the human spirit and affect the psyche.

We learn in the preface of the book, how Malika came to hire Michele Fitoussi as the co-author of her book. Throughout the book, the reader cannot help but wonder why. It is a shame that such an interesting and compelling story was so poorly written. The author fails terribly in her attempt to describe herself as a sympathetic person prior to her imprisonment. The continual jumping back and forth in time is confusing and annoying to a reader. I also wondered if perhaps the translation was poor, because of the use of certain words and general lack of eloquence from a person who entertained her family with her stories in their darkest hour.

Another book which may interest readers who liked and appreciated Stolen Lives is In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. Readers who appreciate stories about the triumph of the human spirit will enjoy Stolen Lives.

3-0 out of 5 stars Amazing story that deserves a better telling.
"Stolen Lives" needs to be evaluated on two different levels - the moving tale of a family imprisoned under the worst conditions for 20 years and the way this amazing story has been memorialized by Malika Oufkir and Michele Fitoussi. The subject is engrossing and important, but the book itself is not well-written. This accounts for the disparity in ratings that the book has received.

It is fascinating to read about Malika'a unique and frequently heartbreaking life. The eldest daughter of a Morococcan general, she was taken from her family and adopted by the King. Western readers will find the tales of her life in the royal household surprising and enlightening. Not only was the lifestyle outrageously lavish, it was also consisted of customs and traditions that are completely different from our own. Malika was allowed to return to her own family as a young teenager. She only had a few years to get to know her father and enjoy life outside the confines of the palace. Her father before General Oufkir was implicated in a coup attempt against the King and was assassinated. The rest of the family - Malika, her mother, her oldest brother, three young sisters and three year old baby brother were summarily imprisoned. For twenty years they lived in increasingly brutal and inhumane conditions, persecuted by the King for their father's crimes and forgotten by the world. Thanks to their uncommon courage and ingenuity, the family was able to survive and eventually escape. It's not easy to read about many of the horrors and indignities that were heaped upon the Oufkirs, but it's important that the world know about their story.

Unfortunately, the book is not worthy of this amazing story. It was written by Malika with the assistance of Michele Fitoussi. The first problem is that the book does not give sufficient background about either the history of Morrocco or General Oufkir's powerful role as one of the King's chief aides. Those unfamiliar with Moroccan history will frequently find themself at a loss for context. Second, given that this is Malika's first person account, it necessarily is a very one-sided version of history. Not that I doubt her version of events - I just would have preferred a more complete and well-researched book that included not only Malika's story but also those of her siblings. Malika frequently portrays herself as the backbone of the family, the strongest member who kept them all from succumbing to madness. This very likely is true, but it would have a much greater impact coming from someone else. Finally, the writing style is very repetitive and immature. While Michele Fitoussi is very sympathetic to Malika's story and deserves much credit for persuading her to tell her story, I have no doubt that a more objective and skilled writer would have improved the quality of the book immensely. Hopefully a serious scholar will undertake a complete telling of the Oufkir's story. I, for one, will be anxious to read it.

2-0 out of 5 stars Shallow and Poorly Written
After living off and on in Morocco for 7 years in the 90's I'd never actually heard of the Oufkirs but I did hear much of the supposed royal excess. I was always taken the stories with a grain of salt. To see them recounted on the pages of this book was interesting to say the least.

It's too bad that this is so poorly written because the story definitely deserves to be told....please someone tell it with a bit more depth.

5-0 out of 5 stars **Unforgettable**
Some of you may have seen this woman on Oprah a few years back telling of her ordeal. I put off reading this book & had come to the conclusion that I didn't want to read a depressing nightmare of being locked in a remote prison for decades. Then along came a friend of a friend, who encouraged me to read it, that I "needed" to read it.
This book, to me, was life-changing. As I recognize how spoiled us Americans truly are, nothing could've prepared me for this family's struggles.
Malika & her family displayed such amazing gifts of courage & strength that I was blown away. In awe and humbled. Their "tale" was almost just that: a tale. I simply cannot fathom the conditions that these poor people survived in.
As I was continuously mesmerized by their strength during their imprisonment, I was later caught in Malika's greatest feat of all: forgiveness. This woman showed me what a powerful thing it truly is. She forgave with such grace & eloquence that I was just speechless. I speak mainly of her due to the fact that she was "adopted" by the royal family as a child & later cast out in a most horrifying way. As us readers were not given as much detail of her siblings (especially after their release), I can make no assumptions for them. Nevertheless, this family as a whole is an unwavering symbol of love, strength, & survival.
I hope that they are doing well now & thank each one of them for their story.
I hope that I never forget it, for it is a daily reminder of what I have in this life with my freedom & my family.

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing Story of the Human Spirit!
I have not done any research to verify if the information in this book is accurate or not. However, it was an excellent read and I highly recommend it! It provided an extraordinary glimpse into the world of human rights abuses and leaves the reader with a deep appreciation for the simple joys that we take for granted.

Malika Oufkir was a teenager in the prime of her life when she was put into horrible prison conditions for twenty years with her family. Her family was being punished for the political actions of her father.

Malika is an excellent story teller and has lives on the inside of the royal family in Morocco so it is very interesting to hear details of her upbringing.

It is extraordinary to hear of the atrocious jail conditions inflicted on this family that was used to such a lavish existence. If you have any interest in human rights or the politics of Morocco then you will be fascinated by this read! ... Read more


90. Detour : My Bipolar Road Trip in 4-D
by Lizzie Simon
list price: $13.00
our price: $9.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743446607
Catlog: Book (2003-06-18)
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Sales Rank: 47374
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

By all appearances, Lizzie Simon was perfect. She had an Ivy League education, lots of friends, a loving family, and a dazzling career as a theater producer by the age of twenty-three. But that wasn't enough: Lizzie still felt alone in the world, and largely misunderstood. Having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a teenager, she longed to meet others like herself; she wanted to hear the experiences of those who managed to move past their manic-depression and lead normal lives. So Lizzie hits the road, hoping to find "a herd of her own." Along the way she finds romance and madness, survivors and sufferers, and, somewhere between the lanes, herself. Part road trip, part love story, Detour is a fast-paced, enduring memoir that demystifies mental illness while it embraces the universally human struggle to become whole. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Good Read
Lizzie Simon, a charming, witty, intelligent, bipolar young woman travels cross country interviewing fellow sufferers. I enjoyed this book, although I kept returning to the cover to look at her pictures, because she is so cute. Bipolar disorder is no joke, but that doesn't stop the author from having a good life.

4-0 out of 5 stars A First in a New Genre about People with Mental Illness
Lizzie Simon experienced her first manic-depressive episode at age 17 in her senior year of high school while studying in Paris. It happened after she received early acceptance to Columbia University. Simon, now a 1998 graduate of Columbia University, quit her $900 a week job as creative producer of New York's Flea Theater at age 23, immediately after she helped them win the esteemed Obie Award. She had unresolved issues in her life, unexplored feelings left behind from the scary time in high school when her mind fell apart and was restored again with Lithium. She went away to college, sought and found success, and the subject of her daily battles with her life-saving pills never came up. She longed for closure. She searched for her sign, her way out.
"I kept receiving signs telling me I had other work to do. It was as if success had made a lot of noise in my head go away about being successful. I wasn't screeching at myself to make more and more. I wasn't basking in the public attention I was receiving or gloating through the streets of Tribecca. No, all of a sudden, it seemed things go really quiet in my head. I longed for a new direction, a new devotion. And then the signs emerged. The detour, my detour, lay ahead," she writes in Detour.
Then, she saw the sign. As she rode the subway back to her Brooklyn apartment, she saw a sign with a woman in a business suit. In big lettering over the woman it read, "For Mentally Illness, Treatment is Working". A few days later in the NYPress' "Best Of" section a commentary was written calling the ad "Best Scary Subway" ad of the year. The stigmatization and prejudice shown on behalf of the Press' editors moved her to write and send an editorial. From this editorial, spawned ideas for a new project aiming at de-stigmatizing mental illness and at the same time unite young sufferers.
"I am creating this project for the terrorized seventeen-year-old who has just been through hell and back. She's on the precipice of the rest of her life but she doesn't have the faith to know it, because all she can see, all anybody is showing her, is the dead end she feels surrounding her. I am making this journey for her, to help her through this, the hardest time in her life...I think she's worth my time, my energy, my art, and my honesty, because I think if she breaks through she'll change the world," she writes.
Detour began another part of her journey with this illness. She interviewed six other young successful people with bipolar disorder all between ages 16 and 30 chronicling their stories and asking them for advice on how they cope and deal with parents, coworkers, teachers, and friends. The story takes place in Simon's fathers's white SUV as she cruises from her parent's home in Rhode Island down the East Coast and out to California in search of her herd-her herd of other successful, high-functioning young people with mood disorders like herself. Along the way, she meets some odd characters, courageous souls, and battles terrifying existential woes, which almost cause her to abandon her quest and go home. She even adds some spice by including her love affair with a bipolar drug addict and fellow New Yorker throughout her book project.
Simon sketches with simplicity, portraying her six interviewees with honesty and sheer determination to survive and even thrive. Her empathetic interviews with other young bipolars as well as her witty insights into her own story make the book come alive. This book defines a beginning in a whole new genre of fiction and creative nonfiction about young people and mental illness. This is a must-have for every young person, their doctor, their friends, and their school counselors.
In 2002, Simon served as an assistant field producer for the MTV special "True Life: I'm Bipolar," which was inspired by Detour and HBO recently optioned for the rights to make the movie.
A recipient of a grant from the Federation for Families for Children's Mental Health, Simon is a frequent guest speaker and freelance writer. She also teaches creative writing classes and is working on a novel with a character who loses her brother to suicide. You can visit her web site at www.lizziesimon.com.

4-0 out of 5 stars Unusual memoir
Lizzie Simon had everything except peace of mind. Having been diagnosed during her teenage years with bipolar disorder, she'd never quite come to grips with her condition and felt misunderstood and unable to live the normal life she craved. So she took off to travel and found her way home. Detour is a fast-paced memoir, unlike most in this genre of self-absorption, and manages to demystify the aura of mental illness.
It's good, really good. ... Read more


91. Nasty : My Family and Other Glamorous Varmints
by Simon Doonan
list price: $24.00
our price: $16.32
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743267044
Catlog: Book (2005-05-24)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 11952
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Book Description

When Simon Doonan sat down to write a memoir, he discovered he had no memories of cuddly family times or romantic Hallmark moments -- turns out most of his memories are notably nasty. Birthday parties? No recollection. But his mother's dentures flying out of her mouth when she sneezed and skittering across the kitchen floor? A vivid mental image that still brings a smile. In his subversively funny memoir, Nasty: My Family and Other Glamorous Varmints, Simon revisits his formative years and the defiantly eccentric, lovably odd family he calls his own, showing us how nasty memories can be very, very good.

Long before he became a celebrity in his own right -- as a bestselling author, as a style arbiter on national television, and as the window display genius of Barneys New York -- Simon Doonan was a "scabby knee'd troll" in Reading, England. In Nasty, he returns to the working-class neighborhood of his youth and chronicles the misadventures of the Doonan clan in all their wacky glory. Readers meet his mum, Betty, whose gravity-defying, peroxided hairdo loudly proclaimed her innate glamour; his father, Terry, an amateur vintner who turned parsnips into the legendary Château Doonan; and his grandfather D.C., a hard-drinking betting man who plotted to win his fortune by turning "wee" Simon into a jockey.

Fearing he would fall victim to the insanity that runs in his family or, worse, the banality of suburban life, Doonan decamps with his flamboyant best friend Biddie to London. There they hope to find the Beautiful People -- those glamorous creatures who luxuriate on floor pillows and amuse each other with bon mots -- and join their ranks. Instead, he encounters various ladies of the night, kidney stones, punks, law enforcement officers, phantom venereal diseases, public humiliations, and camps, vamps, and scamps of all shapes and sizes. Doonan continues his bumbling pursuit of the fabulous life only to learn, in the end, that perhaps the Beautiful People were the ones he left behind.

Infused throughout with good humor and informed by Doonan's keen eye for the ridiculous, Nasty reminds us never to take life too seriously. This is a wickedly good memoir from one of today's most dazzling literary humorists.

... Read more


92. The Big House : A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home
by George Howe Colt
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 074324964X
Catlog: Book (2004-06-08)
Publisher: Scribner
Sales Rank: 6727
Average Customer Review: 4.77 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Faced with the sale of the century-old family summer house on Cape Cod where he had spent forty-two summers, George Howe Colt returned for one last stay with his wife and children. This poignant tribute to the eleven-bedroom jumble of gables, bays, and dormers that watched over weddings, divorces, deaths, anniversaries, birthdays, breakdowns, and love affairs for five generations interweaves Colt's final visit with memories of a lifetime of summers. Run-down yet romantic, the Big House stands not only as a cherished reminder of summer's ephemeral pleasures but also as a powerful symbol of a vanishing way of life. ... Read more

Reviews (22)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wistful and nostalgic. Beautiful!
The Big House on Cape Cod was built more than a century ago by the author's great-grandfather. It weathered 2 world wars, joy and tragedy, the changing seasons and fortunes of two families, and the transition from the simpler life-styles of past times to our own modern 'very fast is still too slow' culture. When the house becomes financially untenable for family members to maintain, Colt returns for one last visit before it goes on sale...and there the story, a touching and wistful memoir, begins. Don't miss this lovely book.

5-0 out of 5 stars When They Summered in America
Built by the author's great-grandfather 100 years ago on a peninsula stretching out into Buzzards Bay from Cape Cod, the big house is a landmark. The four-story, 19-room jumble of roof lines, gables, bays and dormers is the emotional home and the center of gravity for the Colt family through the 20th century.
The big house is a wonderful place. Anyone who ever understood the use of the word "summer" as a verb can feel the emotions, smell the smells, hear the creaks in the floors and appreciate the melancholy of the fading glory of this monument to family, local history and old New England aristocracy.
The big house silently presided over five weddings, four divorces and three deaths. There were countless anniversaries, reunions, birthdays, nervous breakdowns, conceptions and love affairs. Author George Colt blends humor and affection as he describes the rise and fall of the significance of his family's social class while saluting his ancestors' deliberate manner and their deep-seated pleasure found in this place at the shore.
For a century everyone returned and worshipped the familiar. It was an unchanging place in a changing world. It was sanctuary for 100 years. But even the best summers come to an end, and people must move on.
The context for this memoir is Colt's pilgrimage to the big house with his own wife and children as his extended family comes to grips with the impossible task of maintaining or renovating the old house in a time when "new money," sterile architecture and thoughtless development are the norm. The big house is being sold.
Colt's book is a gift to anyone with memories centering around a family place and the legends of parents, grandparents and great-grandparents who went there before.
Reviewed by Carroll Colby and the North Star Monthly, Danville VT

5-0 out of 5 stars Like walking through a dream....
This book is incredible. I feel like I am reliving my childhood which is a bit odd because my childhood would have decidedly been on the other side of the tracks from the author's. My grandmother, in fact, was one of those large, warm, cuddly Irish women who worked for families like the Colts and Atkinsons. Until her death she received loving cards and letters from the children that she cared for (reading some of the names in this book, I believe they might be cousins). To me, this narrative transcends the class structure of the 60's in the US. Times have changed, my best friend is from one of those WASP families and 70 years ago our paths never would have crossed. The author tells his story and his family's story in a way that makes me feel he is telling the story of us all. This book made me sad and elated at the same time. I think deep down, people are more alike than different.

5-0 out of 5 stars Rings true
What struck me reading other reviews was that people from around the U.S. and even one from Europe bothered to read it. I figured the reviews would be more along the lines of the bored reader from NYC. I thought the material was the kind only a small regional press might publish, if not the author himself privately for the benefit of a limited readership--mainly the people in the book.

Which is all the more reason to celebrate the literary accomplishment achieved here. It is a subject matter that could easily have fallen flat on its face with anything less than the sensitivity and creativity with which Mr. Colt treats it. He pulls thoughtful meaning and associations out of past incidents and instances that for most of us are memories we retain for reasons we may not fully understand. Mr. Colt explains why such memories endure--their attachments to context and their contribution to the person they helped form.

It makes me happy that such a story can have a mass appeal, since I am familiar with Wings Neck and some of its people. The story about the Colts, Atkinsons, etc. is played out in other coastal towns and alongside lakes and in mountains and valleys across America and beyond, wherever long-surviving family manses hold the history of generations. This one rings true.

1-0 out of 5 stars Beyond Boring
This is probably the most boring, superficial, self-serving book I've read in years. Its title should really be WHO CARES? because that really sums up this tedious, endless tale of a family you don't really care about after 327 pages, mainly because they're all so uninteresting, or at least he makes them that way. And who cares about the details of selling this ridiculous house? Not to mention that the author is so consumed with his WASP roots that he doesn't let you forget for one minute who his family is and has the nerve to pretend not to care. The word WASP appears on almost every page. Ever read a book by a catholic where the word CATHOLIC is always capitalized? How about JEW? This book should have been published by a vanity press. Sorry to say but the author is not a good writer, even though he is a WASP!! (Harvard-educated) ... Read more


93. A Random Act : An Inspiring True Story of Fighting to Survive and Choosing to Forgive
by Cindi Broaddus, Kimberly Lohman Suiters
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060735147
Catlog: Book (2005-04-01)
Publisher: William Morrow
Sales Rank: 26555
Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Sometimes life throws a curveball ...
and sometimes it drops a bomb

Cindi Broaddus didn't realize that her life was about to be forever altered as she sat in the passenger seat of a car on a lonely highway, speeding toward the airport in the early morning hours of June 5, 2001. The sister-in-law of Dr. Phil McGraw, a single mother of three, and a delighted new grandmother, she was thinking only of her imminent, well-earned vacation when a gallon glass jar filled with sulfuric acid, tossed from an overpass by an unknown assailant, came crashing through the windshield. In a heartbeat, Cindi was showered with glass and flesh-eating liquid, leaving her blinded, screaming in agony, and burned almost beyond recognition. When she reached the hospital, the attending doctors gave her little better than a 30 percent chance of survival.

But Cindi Broaddus did survive -- and after excruciating years of recuperation and seemingly endless sessions of skin grafts and reconstructive surgery, she emerged from her ordeal in many ways stronger than she had ever been before.

A Random Act is the riveting firsthand account of a brutal and senseless attack and its aftermath. But much more than one remarkable woman's personal chronicle of an unthinkable tragedy and amazing recovery, Cindi's story is one of hope and transcendence, born of a conscious and dedicated determination to turn a nightmarish experience into something positive and uplifting. Her unforgettable journey back to life and a gloriously renewed sense of purpose will serve as an inspiration for every reader, offering eloquent and illuminating truths about love, healing, and the astounding power of choice, while providing an invaluable road map to a new understanding of what truly matters most.

... Read more

Reviews (7)

1-0 out of 5 stars Dribble Dribble Dribble
I agree with the other reviewers who mentioned the author pats herself on the back over and over again in this book. It gets SO tiring to read. Between that, and tossing names around (Dr. Phil this, Dr. Phil that) I could hardly get through it.
I feel for what the author went through, but a different writing style might have made all the difference in my opinion of her writings about it.

1-0 out of 5 stars Badly done
I have to agree with the reviewer below who said this was a good story poorly told.

The premise was good, which is why I picked up the book. Unfortunately, the execution leaves much to be desired. The author repeats herself often, particularly the parts about how admirable and wonderful and peaceful and strong she is. If she'd spent more time telling her story than waxing rhapsodic about herself, this could have gotten lots more stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Love Story
What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon!I sat down and read this book cover-to-cover.I couldn't stop turning the pages until I reached the end.I am SOOOO glad that I read this book before I read a couple of the reviews on this website!Yes, Cindi mentions Dr. Phil in her story. Not too surprising when you read on the front cover that he wrote the foreward for the book AND he is an essential part of the story.I found it interesting that we get a glimpse of Dr. Phil we don't see on television, that of a concerned, caring, and loyal brother-in-law.He never stopped trying to find the person responsible for this crime.We should all be so lucky to have a brother-in-law who cares so much.I also don't understand how someone who read this book could say that Cindi spends the entire book talking about "how great she is".On the contrary, Cindi spends a great deal of time talking about how wonderful her family, friends, and co-workers were to her during this difficult time.Do you REALLY think all these people would rush to the side of a self-centered braggart?I find that difficult to believe.
Bottom Line:If you are a hopelessly cynical, bitter, negativeperson, you may find reading this book a total waste of time.To everyone else:This is a beautiful book.It speaks to all of us about the power of making positive choices.Thank you, Cindi, for sharing your story.You are an inspiration to all of us.

1-0 out of 5 stars Like nails on a chalkboard
Could this author have spent any more time telling herself and everyone else how great she was? She evencontradicted herself several times to do it. I think she went through a horrible accident and it took a lot of strength to get through it; however, an entire book about how great she is?Even when she mentions other people (Dr Phil, Dr Phil, Dr Phil, and oh, have I mentioned Dr Phil?) she's mentioning them in the context of how great they think she is.And you know? She probably *is* a wonderful person but the writing of this book is so heavy handed and saccharine that the reader ceases to appreciate her strength (which is undoubted).After a while it's almost a drinking game "She complimented herself!Drink!"I think the story would have been a lot more interesting if she had told it with more simplicity and perspective.It wound up being a good story told badly.

1-0 out of 5 stars Not much substance, lots of self-congratulation
This book was not so much "inspirational" as "irritating." I appreciate that the author suffered from this random attack, but her story would have been more palatable with a less self-congratulatory tone. Each chapter was packed with anecdotes of how other people told her how great she was, what a "prized" patient she was, how other people respected her so much; it becomes very tiresome very quickly. (Also tedious was the author's frequent mention of her relationship to Dr. Phil McGraw.) ... Read more


94. To End All Wars
by Ernest Gordon
list price: $14.99
our price: $13.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0007118481
Catlog: Book (2002-05-01)
Publisher: Zondervan Publishing Company
Sales Rank: 8788
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The best-selling classic of the power of love and forgiveness in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Dramatic, Powerful, and Shocking Book!
I could not put this book down! If you have any interest in the treatment of Allied soldiers during their stay in Japanese internment camps, just read this book. From the introduction to the final page, this book will shock you, horrify you, but amazingly, it will inspire you and leave you with a good feeling about what Ernest Gordon did and became before he died in 2002. Bless his memory and may this book live on forever!

5-0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Account of Perservence over Adversity
This account of how a young Scot, captured by the Japanese in April, 1942, managed to survive the brutal treatment accorded POWs under Japan's control has endured long after Ernest Gordon's imprisonment ended, and will continue to endure and influence readers for more years to come. This book, originally published over 40 years ago, was one of the sources for the highly popular movie of that era, "Bridge Over the River Kwai," and the more recent "To End All Wars."

Some parts of this book are very difficult to read as Gordon, a Captain in a Scottish regiment, spares no detail as he relates the physical trauma, the diseases, the wretched conditions imposed by their captors and the senseless, sometimes unbelievable treatment by the guards of their captives . How to survive this vertiable hell hole? As he notes, without some sort of discipline and some moral compass for guidance, many men gave up hope and died. But Gordon found within the prison camp two people who selflessly gave of themselves when Gordon was literally at death's door to help restore him to physical health, of people who washed his sores, encouraged, prodded, and inspired. Through the faith of these two, one a Methodist, the other a Roman Catholic, Gordon reinvestigated the New Testament and from that learned and acted out the commandment to "love others", even including the brutal Japanese guards, as he would love himself. Using these simple teachings of love, encouragement, and selfless help to your neighbor, Gordon and others in the various camps were able to overcome the horrific conditions under which they existed. The melding of the spiritual and the discipline of order, neatness, and cooperation saw the POWs triumph over the evil of the system under which they existed.

The first part of the book describing Gordon's efforts to escape--he and others bought a sailing vessel that managed to get them half way to Ceylon--is an exciting read in itself. The second half, the journey into hell and return, is thought provoking and inspiring. It is also difficult for those who served in the Pacific theater, as I did, as to how and if I would have survived if I had had to bail out over Japan and was imprisoned. A sobering thought that one does not want to revisit for long.

Gordon came home to Scotland, entered the ministry, and served for many years as Dean of the Chapel, Princeton University. May he Rest in Peace. ... Read more


95. 25 to Life: The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth
by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice, Tom Shachtman, Leslie Crocker Snyder, Tom Schactman
list price: $26.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446530204
Catlog: Book (2002-09-23)
Publisher: Warner Books
Sales Rank: 189175
Average Customer Review: 3.57 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

She has presided over some of America's most complex and violent cases ranging fromnarcotics to sex crimes to headline-making murder and mob trials. Her toughness in court is legendary and she is known for frequently imposingmaximum sentences (120 years each for five young drug lords). As a result, she must have round-the-clock security as her life has been marked with repeated threats from criminals she put behind bars. Now, Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder has written a riveting account of her years on the bench taking readers behind the scenes and into a courtroom whose trials and rulings have placed a permanent stamp on our legal system. Her true story will inspire and influence many more. ... Read more

Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Inspirational Woman!
This book is more than meets the eye. I found it so intriguing that I read it non-stop over the weekend. Snyder chronicles the steps she took to get to where she is today. Her position of priviledge and honour weren't handed to her on a silver plate. She earned it, with a combination of grace, dignity, intelligence, and tenacity. Given her relatively low salary, especially in comparison to the defense attorneys in private practice, it is a wonder that she continues to work in such a demanding, yet thankless job, especially so when she and her family find their lives constantly threatened by the thugs that she protects society from. It is a gripping tale of how criminals run rampant and destroy the lives of innocent bystanders, and how Snyder does more than her part in ending their tyranny. You might expect a book about law to be dry. Think again! 25 TO LIFE is a gripping outline of Snyder's exciting career. I would compare this woman to Rudolph Guiliani in her leadership abilities. She is a role model to all, especially young women. (It's too bad she practices in NY. We could definately use somebody of her calibre here in Canada, to clean up the urban crime). Great book from a fabulous member of society.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Bell-Ringer
This is such an incredible story, I could not put the book down... how could any one person take on the mob, the druggies, and some of the most vicious murderers ever seen in New York City? And while, much of the time, under death threat to her self and family by these creeps who had been getting away with their murders for years... To label her just a Conservative is ridiculous -- she is also liberal, feminist, family, but above all, AMERICAN. New York City and State, and America, owe her a tremendous debt. However, as I neared the end of her incredible odyssey, I wondered why she did not give a solution for the overall "War on Drugs," obviously a losing proposition. But she does! There are hidden powers in high places that should be doing everything possible to save America from this Drug Hell that has engulfed the nation. Time to wake up, folks...

1-0 out of 5 stars not exactly enlightening
The best biographies (and autobiographies) are those that do more than catalog their subjects' achievements -- they chronicle some inner struggle that makes the story interesting on a human level. Reading this book, you wonder why it was written. There seems to be no personal revelation, nothing below the surface. The author sees everything in black and white, and there doesn't seem to be anything more going on than a chronicling of local legal issues that have little relevance to anyone but a few insiders. Snyder's "interior" struggle seems to be her understanding that other people are bad. I guess she has always been perfect. This may be true, and if so I congratulate her, but it just doesn't make for interesting reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is a "must read"
It's too bad that the title "In the Belly of the Beast" was already taken because that would have been an appropriate tag for this page turner. Having spent 25 years as a narcotics agent in New York City, I am humbled by the personal danger encountered by Judge Snyder.Courage and intellect such as hers are very rare commodities in this city.The insight that this book provides into the NYC criminal justice system has been previously kept as a dark secret. She is one of the reasons that one can feel safe walking the streets of Manhattan at midnight and we all owe her a tremendous debt of gratitude. Unfortunately, many New Yorkers forget the grafitti ridden days of the 70's and 80's when the judiciary was rife with "Cut em loose Bruces". Watch a re-run of New Jack City to refresh your recollection!

5-0 out of 5 stars An Impressive Woman and An Impressive Book
A well written book which goes into the life of a woman who should be the role model for us all. Facing down vicious drug dealers, writing date rape laws, the first woman to prosecute homocide cases in New York, just on her credentials alone, this book is worth a read.

But Snyder goes further and gives us a very personal and interesting glimpse into her life. At times humorous, at times feisty, but always without varnish, we get a real glimpse into the backroom happenings of a major part of our criminal justice system and into someone who seems to be a major player.

Having read the reviews and heard the term "real-life law and order" invoked several times, I can only agree. I would be honored to serve on Judge Snyder's jury and, in my opinion, we need more people like her.

If this helps Snyder to launch a political career, BRAVO, I, for one, would love to have her helping to put more bad guys away!

Well Done Judge Snyder. You are a Class Act. ... Read more


96. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier
by THAD CARHART
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375758623
Catlog: Book (2002-03-12)
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Sales Rank: 4361
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Walking his two young children to school every morning, Thad Carhart passes an unassuming little storefront in his Paris neighborhood. Intrigued by its simple sign—Desforges Pianos—he enters, only to have his way barred by the shop’s imperious owner. Unable to stifle his curiosity, he finally lands the proper introduction, and a world previously hidden is brought into view. Luc, the atelier’s master, proves an indispensable guide to the history and art of the piano. Intertwined with the story of a musical friendship are reflections on how pianos work, their glorious history, and stories of the people who care for them, from amateur pianists to the craftsmen who make the mechanism sing. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank is at once a beguiling portrait of a Paris not found on any map and a tender account of the awakening of a lost childhood passion. ... Read more

Reviews (46)

5-0 out of 5 stars For lovers of music, piano, travel and life
This is a wonderful book for anyone who loves music, and in particular, piano, as well as traveling, even if not particularly in France. The author gives a genuine and sincere account of his feelings about his life in Paris, as well as the realities of living in a foreign country, of foreign ways of doing business, forming relationships, and of course, his love of music and the piano.

These loves of music and the piano are so evident, so full of life. Some people might be bored or distracted by Carhart's details regarding pianos, however, as a music lover, but one who do not even play piano, I loved reading about the details involved with the instrument.

As a lover of travel, and a person who has spent considerable amounts of time in a number of foreign countries (although France is not one of them), partially so that I could learn others' ways of living, I also thoroughly enjoyed reading about real-life details of living in another country.

I also enjoyed that unlike "A Year in Provence," "Under the Tuscan Sky," "A Cottage in Portugal" and many other books such as these, Carhart does not spend the entire book writing of the difficulties of getting anything done in these countries (even though it's true!). It was nice to read about other aspects of living abroad.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves music, piano and other culture's and their idiosyncracies.

4-0 out of 5 stars A lazy read for piano lovers
Thad Carhart's The Piano Shop on the Left Bank is a disarmingly simple book on the surface that will appeal to piano dreamers -- anyone who has either owned or enjoyed playing a piano. The book is slow in the unwinding of its story, and you can easily put it down and pick it back up at your leisure.

The story focuses on the growing relationship between the author, an American in Paris, and Luc, the very French owner of a piano shop tucked away in Paris' Latin Quarter. As the author spends time in the piano shop, his love, interest, and knowledge for this instrument reawaken after years of lying dormant. He realizes his dream to own a piano and begins taking lessons again.

The friendly piano shop owner, Luc, has a passion for pianos from all eras. He brings every piano to life as though each large, cumbersome instrument that passes through his shop were a special person. He wants to match up pianos with the right owner. The most shameful treatment is to leave a piano sitting in a corner, unused and unloved.

The book also weaves in the beautiful history of the piano, from the piano's origins in Italy to its heyday at the turn of the 20th century. The piano, one of the most popular and revered musical instruments, was at the center of Americans' social life before the invention of radio and TV. There is a sadness as you realize that the golden age of the piano has passed. All piano makers of the early 20th century are in decline, with only Steinway surviving as an independent company.

The author leaves us with hope as he describes a new piano maker on the scene -- Fizoli. Fizoli had a dream to build the best piano, challenging the way all pianos were built and starting over from scratch in his development of them. Today, his dream has become a reality as he builds pianos world-renowned for their special soundboards and rich, melodic tone. Ironically, the best piano company is in Italy, home of the piano. And with piano shops like Luc's reviving and fixing up old pianos, the piano will continue to be the world's best-loved instrument. The dreams will live on.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Find
My piano teacher recommended that I get this book. I had seen it on Amazon's website, but I didn't feel that I wanted to order it. I am so glad that I did. As others have said-it is an easy read. However, Thad Carhart captures the joy that I , and I'm sure others, have felt regarding pianos,music,composers,music history, and taking piano lessons.

If you love playing the piano as much as I do you will enjoy this book. I even put a quote from the book on the back of the recital program for my students. -"I was again struck with how deeply satisfying it was to play any kind of music at all on my piano. Emotionally, physically, intellectually, spiritually; its satisfactions were limitless, its impact on my life profound."
I can't say it any better than that. Lovely book!!

4-0 out of 5 stars A warm Paris read
Thad Carhart has written a breezy and easily readable book about pianos, Paris and people. It's the kind of book you might consider taking in on a rainy day (if you're "down") or better yet, on a warm day sitting in the sun.

I'm a pianist who found the nicest parts of "The Piano Shop" had to do with the people the author encountered.... my favorite was Jos, the overly-boozed piano tuner, though I did appreciate Carhart's insights into piano construction, reconstruction and the musical elements that are essential in completing the package of what goes into making a fine piano. He introduced me to a term I had never encountered..."fall board" (the piano key lid).

My one objection is the author's continued "over fascination" with pianos. It really sounds more like a fetish and if he had been able to tone down that part of the book he would have had a more compelling story. Still, it's a book to be recommended, as I heartily do.

5-0 out of 5 stars For the love of the piano
Thank you, Thad, for so beautifully capturing the vast range of emotions that pianos stir in their aficionados. What a gem! This book will become a classic, just like the classic pianos that mysteriously show up and pass through Luc's atelier. I greatly enjoyed Thad's command of language, his keen and affectionate observations of his French collegues (only in France would Thad be viewed as an American, in any other culture a person with such an in-depth understanding of the culture and fluency of language would have been adopted as a local), and the manner in which he conveys the feelings pianos evoke in him. I also enjoyed the growing familiarity between Thad and Luc and the evolution of humour in their discourses. And despite the tragedy of the situation, had to laugh when Thad - with utmost sensitivity - points out how the unfortunate alcoholic Jos would wake up in train stations across France.
My preferred piano is the Sauter - I love the warmth and richness of its song - and most generously my mother gave me the piano that once brought much joy to dad. Just like Thad observes so well, one is often greatly attached to a particular instrument because a loved one who has since passed on used to play it. And hearing music come alive again, music that was once played by someone who no longer is alive, can cause strong emotions to surface. Shortly after my father passed on I attended an Evgeny Kissin (sp?) concert, and when EK started playing one of my father's favorite Chopin pieces, I could no longer control myself ... (I guess in a quiet concert hall you just try and quietly blow into a handkerchief). I also remember piano lessons I took as a child in France, and reading Thad's desciptions brought back memories. The teacher I had back then was not as gifted as some other ones in other countries at drawing out my enthusiasm for this wonderful instrument. Thad's logic when looking for an appropriate teacher for his children made a lot of sense.
The Piano Shop on the Left Bank is a most evocative book and a must-have for anyone who is affected by the sounds of a piano as well as the beauty of language. ... Read more


97. More Than Money : True Stories of People Who Learned Life's Ultimate Lesson
by Neil Cavuto
list price: $15.95
our price: $10.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060096446
Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
Publisher: Regan Books
Sales Rank: 91763
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Neil Cavuto's world was turning in his favor: joining the nascent Fox News Channel in 1996, he was set to establish himself as one of business journalism's most important players. Ten years after being diagnosed with cancer, though, misfortune touched him again: He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. As those closest to him -- and many he didn't even know -- gathered to offer their support, Cavuto became attuned at the same time to the stories of others in the business world who had struggled with serious obstacles of their own. Now, in More Than Money, he offers portraits of the many people who have motivated and inspired him -- and whose stories can inspire us all.

The men and women Cavuto profiles have faced setbacks of all kinds -- from illness to catastrophic acts of God. But every one of them has gone on to achieve great things in spite of the odds -- reclaiming their own lives, and, just as important, taking time out to better the lives of others along the way. Among Cavuto's subjects:

  • Evelyn Lauder, the cosmetics executive who pioneered the pink ribbon campaign after her own battle with breast cancer

  • Jon huntsman, who survived two bouts with cancer to build one of the largest petrochemical companies in the world and found one of the most prominent cancer research centers

  • Richard Branson, the irrepressible (and dyslexic) entrepreneur whose outrageous sense of humor helped him build the Virgin brand into the epitome of cool

Throughout, Cavuto weaves their stories and countless others into a compelling, uplifting tribute to the human spirit and the attributes that help us triumph over the obstacles, big and small, that life puts in our way. Moving, sincere, and wise, More Than Money reaffirms that true wealth is measured not by the sprawl of our bank accounts, but by the grace in our hearts.

... Read more

Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Truly Inspiring Book!
Mr. Cavuto has done an excellent job of profiling well-known people who have responded to their devastating ordeals with unselfish courage and personal integrity--people who became stronger, better people in the process.Their ordeals brought out the best in them and they, in turn, brought out the best in others.This is a book about the indomitability of the human spirit and, as a cancer survivor myself, I found myself identifying with many of these people.Suffering is universal but how we respond to our suffering makes all the difference, and the people profiled in this book are great role models for all of us.Highly Recommended!

5-0 out of 5 stars Examples for Everyone!
These are true stories of courage, bravery, and success, told by a courageous, brave, and successful man.We can all learn from the Mr. Cavuto, and also from the people he profiles in this book.Giving up and giving in never yields positive results.Learning how to gain strength from seemingly hopeless situations can bring anyone past what might appear to be boundaries in life.Each profile is riveting, and teaches a lesson reflected perfectly by the title of the book!Thank you, Mr. Cavuto!

5-0 out of 5 stars More Than Courage
On his television show, Neil Cavuto seems like a nice guy.After reading his book, I can see that this persona is no act.He really is a nice guy who wants to share his experience of overcoming adversity with others.He tells us about his battles with cancer and MS, but not in a maudlin way. Rather, he rises above these physical limitations by turning to others for help and inspiration.Instead of focusing on himself, he tells us the true stories of other famous people who have had to overcome tragedies and illnesses to turn their lives into something positive and gain the respect and admiration of others.If you are dealing with a chronic illness (as I am) this book is a must. However, you don't have to be in such a state to enjoy this book.
It is a good read for everyone. You'll be glad you read it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, Encouraging
It's incredibly rare to find a business/finance whiz-kid who is also imminently likeable and relatable...who can take complex financial issues and make them understandable and relevant to the layman.Neil Cavuto is such a person, and with this book, he has topped himself. This book could be called "Chicken Soup for the Business Leader" because it tells inspiring and moving stories behind some of the major successes in the marketplace.In fact, this book, while recognizing the value of dollars and cents, really gets down to the real priorities in life and re-defines success as being something beyond "the bottom line."Jesus once asked, "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but lose his soul?"Cavuto offers real world evidence that it is possible to be productive and prosperous without losing those things in life that are truly precious.This should be required reading in every high school and college in America.

5-0 out of 5 stars Some people just don't get it
I read all the reviews and there was one that pathetically stood out.To the person who wrote the following, are you just clueless?He writes, in part:

The title of the book is More Than Money, but judging from the relentless, shameless plugging of his own book on his own show, it's clearly all about the money to the pudgy-faced Mr. Cavuto, and selling his book. This book is literary pablum, and I'm being generous by even using the word literary, etc. etc.

This reviewer is so completely WRONG, I have to say that you must be completely stupid.And to insult Neil Cavuto by referring to his face, I wonder what you look like.



... Read more


98. King of the Jews
by Nick Tosches
list price: $25.95
our price: $17.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0066211182
Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
Publisher: Ecco
Sales Rank: 56183
Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

So begins Nick Tosches's sprawling biography of Arnold Rothstein, which, in fact, is so much more: not only an elegy to old New York but an idiosyncratic history of the world as told in Nick Tosches's inimitable style.

Known by many names -- A. R., Mr. Big, The Fixer, The Big Bankroll, The Man Uptown, and The Brain -- Rothstein seemed more myth than man. He was gambling, and he was money. The inspiration for Meyer Wolfsheim in The Great Gatsby and Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, he was rumored to be the mastermind of the Black Sox scandal, the fixing of the 1919 World Series. He was Mr. Broadway and had his own booth at Lindy's Restaurant in Manhattan, where he held court.

Now, in King of the Jews, Nick Tosches, "one of the greatest living American writers" (Dallas Observer), examines Rothstein's extraordinary legacy by placing him at the center of nothing less than the history of the entire Western world.

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Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars GOOD TOSCHES BUT NOTGREAT TOSCHES !
I am a fan fanatic when it comes to the work of Nick Tosches , and having read "In the Hand of Dante ', and then "Where Dead Voices Gather" , I am convinced Tosches is a genius. I am still in the process of buying up all that he has written. Having lit the candles and incense at the Tosches altar , Imust admit that after reading "King of the Jews" in two days I was disappointed. This time he was not able to spin the magic as he did in "Trinities" and "Cut Numbers" , which I consider his masterpieces to date. I will still buy everything he writes and hope to meet him for dinner at some future date before we get much older.

1-0 out of 5 stars Tedium, Thy Name is Tosches
Tosches is a bore, a literary con man and his tough-guy narcissist act hits bottom with this stinkeroo. While his books aren't, strictly speaking, good, they usually are have at least one memorable moment. Here, though, Tosches' unrelenting and petulant self-pity makes for a very ugly book. ... Read more


99. Swimming With Scapulars: True Confessions Of A Young Catholic
by Matthew Lickona
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 082942072X
Catlog: Book (2005-04-01)
Publisher: Loyola Press
Sales Rank: 9035
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Dave Eggers meets G. K. Chesterton in this funny, wise, and acutely perceptive memoir by a precocious young Catholic. For a wine connoisseur and fan of Nine Inch Nails, 30-year-old Matthew Lickona lives an unusual inner life. He is a Catholic of a decidedly traditional bent. ... Read more

Reviews (6)

4-0 out of 5 stars Surprised by swimming
This wonderful book brought me closer to my faith.Matthew Lickona writes a very personal and very contemporary set of reflections on his own struggles to live out in his moral life the commitments his faith demands of him.

Nothing I have read since Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man so captures the interior life of a practicing Catholic as this.

Lickona is not afraid to grow and change before our eyes during this book.It is as rigorous and self-examining as a good confession.

Sure it lacks a tight narrative structure and you'll tear through it a couple of days.Think of it as an epistle.

People who are close to a Catholic who they don't really understand would also benefit from reading this book.It might all make a little more sense after reading this.

Thanks, Matthew.

5-0 out of 5 stars A unique, startling, powerful book -- with a real male voice
I am enthralled by this book. The author's a thirty-something dad and remarkable storyteller. He's a smart journalist, but he doesn't wear his erudition on his sleeve. Instead it's caught up in the stories -- of his adolescence, his dealing with a homosexual come-on, his marriage, his bumpy transition to fatherhood, his work, his efforts to control his temper, his discovery of a friend's stash of porn. There's nothing of the pietistic harangue here, nothing syrupy or over-spiritualized, no theological tsk-tsking of an over-clericalized androgynous layperson. Instead, we encounter a real feet-on-the ground, normal-male, living-in-the-word, lay spirituality. This book is so unusal that it's startling. My only caveat, and this is small: If you're the kind of person who's put off by slightly off-color language, you might take occasional offense.

4-0 out of 5 stars Faith, Hope and Wild Turkey
Books comprised of personal reflections and anecdotes are not my usual reading fare, but I picked up Swimming with Scapulars on the recommendation of a friend and finished it cover to cover between dinner and bedtime.I found that I recognized in this book many of the same questions and doubts, trials and joys that I experience daily.I also found that I enjoyed looking at them through the eyes of the writer, Matthew Lickona.

Matthew Lickona is a man, still young enough to be called young, who is trying to sort out what it means to be a faithful Catholic in a world full of frustrations, temptations and consolations.He is a husband, a father, a son and a brother.Lickona is also a writer, and he's a good one.His writing is straightforward and honest, with a strong bent toward introspection and careful self-examination.Oftentimes much introspection leads to taking oneself far too seriously, but Lickona manages to avoid this pitfall.That he takes his beliefs and the practice of his faith seriously is clear, but Lickona recognizes and communicates his own flaws and foibles with a self-deprecating humor that is sincere without being oppressive. More impressively, Lickona manages to make all of the self-examination and introspection interesting; I found myself truly enjoying learning about the inner workings of an unusual mind.

This book is not a collection of the ponderous musings of a joyless zealot, but the engaging, sometimes disturbing and often amusing thoughts of someone who loves both Jesus and bourbon; the Sacraments and rock and roll.Lickona is someone for whom pop culture is a hobby and the Catholic faith a way of life.He is a good man who would like very much to be a better one.

I heartily recommend this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars If you've found this book, you might as well buy it
Now usually I am the last person to read any book that isn't at least halfway-decent, literary fiction.Walker Percy?Graham Greene?Yes. "Christian Inspiration?"I don't think so.But I stumbled across the author's McSweeney's-esque website, and later, the book's hip brown and blue binding wore me down.I read it in one sitting last Saturday.Lickona really lays it all out in the open.This is the story of his constant struggle to live according to his Catholic faith, including those teachings that to the modern eye are the faith's ostensibly most difficult dictates.And for the most part he pulls it off, and--squishy as it sounds--his story is inspiring.Lickona's an average thirty-something, and this is an intellectual look at his faith and all that it entails; at no point does the author preach to the reader.In fact, Lickona's own moments of doubt underscore his understanding of the toil faith requires.

As to the few negative comments in the review below, I'll have to respectfully disagree.I found nothing in the book disrespectful of anyone, and Lickona comes across not as a shrinking recluse ready to build a compound in the hills, but rather as a fully engaged member of society who leads an integrated life, rather than the seemingly more common secular/spiritual dual life.Nor does he simply "write any one off."

Overall, the book was well worth the time spent reading it; let's hope it's only the first of many more.

1-0 out of 5 stars Don't Waste Your Money
Swimming with Scapulars is an appropriate title for this volume that describes the outer vestiges of a religious practice being adopted, without a concomitant inner change.Reading this book, you get the feeling that Matthew Lickona REALLY wants to be seen as set apart and separate based on his religious practice--set apart from not only non-Christians, but also other Catholics who do not uphold every rule that he readily embraces.In this, the adoption of the scapular seems to be analogous to hipsters wearing bowling shirts from the 50's--look at how retro-Catholic I am, Mr. Lickona seems to write on every page.

However, the point of Christianity is to change the inner person, making a follower of Jesus more loving, more forgiving, more peaceful, more joyful.Very few fruits of the Spirit seem evident here.Instead, we see a portrait of a person who looks through the world with a fearful and judgemental gaze--who wants often to shrink from the complications of the larger world, his parish community and even relationships with his extended family and to retreat into a place where there are simpler verities and everyone embraces the same level of orthodoxy he has found.

Orthodoxy (right belief) is supposed to be coupled with and/or lead to orthopraxy (right practice).What struck me most about this book is how little love is evident here.Faced with a lesbian couple at Mass with their child, he is reviled by them being affectionate like Matthew is affectionate with his wife and he sneeringly wonders what they must tell their son when he asks where his father is.Whatever one thinks about homosexuality as a sin, so too is homophobia a serious sin.Those outside Mr. Lickona's small traditionalist camp--gays and lesbians, his mother in law, persons in the developing world who are faced with children who will die because of poor healthcare, even people who would hold hands during Mass--are written off.I can't imagine Jesus acting this way.

On outward signs, Matthew must look like a good Catholic with his defense of doctrine, the rosaries said, the growing family.However, I don't see that any of this is more than an external protection against the anger and the uncertainty he must feel inside.A joyless book.Save your money here. ... Read more


100. Omaha Blues : A Memory Loop
by Joseph Lelyveld
list price: $22.00
our price: $14.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374225907
Catlog: Book (2005-04-01)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Sales Rank: 23802
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The profoundly moving family history of one of America's greatest newspapermen.

As his father lies dying, Joseph Lelyveld finds himself in the basement of the Cleveland synagogue where Arthur Lelyveld was the celebrated rabbi. Nicknamed "the memory boy" by his parents, the fifty-nine-year-old son begins to revisit the portion of his father's life recorded in letters, newspaper clippings, and mementos stored in a dusty camp trunk. In an excursion into an unsettled and shakily recalled period of his boyhood, Lelyveld uses these artifacts, and the journalistic reporting techniques of his career as an author and editor, to investigate memories that have haunted him in adult life..

With equal measures of candor and tenderness, Lelyveld unravels the tangled story of his father and his mother, a Shakespeare scholar whose passion for independence led her to recoil from her roles as a clergyman's wife and, for a time, as a mother. This reacquired history of his sometimes troubled family becomes the framework for the author's story; in particular, his discovery in early adolescence of the way personal emotions cue political choices, when he is forced to choose sides between his father and his own closest adult friend, a colleague of his father's who is suddenly dismissed for concealing Communist ties.

Lelyveld's offort to recapture his family history takes him on an unforeseen journey past disparate landmarks of the last century, including the Scottsboro trials, the Zionist movement, the Hollywood blacklist, McCarthyism, and Mississippi's "freedom summer" of 1964. His excursion becomes both a meditation on the selectivity and unreliability of memory and a testimony to the possibilities, even late in life, for understanding and healing. As Lelyveld seeks out the truth of his life story, he evokes a remarkable moment in our national story with unforgettable poignancy.
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars american jewish diaspora
my confession first, since this book is a quasi-memoir (the author calls it a memory loop, though it reads like a mobious strip of guilt, pain, poignancy, and truth-seeking), i was attracted to this book because joe lelyveld's father was my rabbi growing up in cleveland. i really didn't enjoy going to fairmont temple as a youngster, not on sundays and certainly not twice a week for hebrew school when around 4:30 p.m, once a week, we filed into the chapel, and the rabbi would lead us through the standard prayers.i rarely, rarely, rarely go to temple these days ( six months on a kibbutz in the negev when i was 19 did wonders for my belief in cultural judaism at the expense of religiousity). but this book is a confrontation between memory and loss in the attempt to untangle destiny from fate. the battleground is the uneasy relationship between father and son, arthur and joe, with his mother providing the drama that sets things spinning off-kilter. the pages are thick with loss and regret; there is none of the philip roth's comic shtick that jumps at the reader in his autobiographical writings (or thinly veiled fictional renderings.) i applaud mr. lelyveld for having the courage to confront his past, especially as he must look far back in time, decades, to pry loose shards of recollection.know thyself, socrates counseled. this book satisfies the author's need to know, though it would be foolish to expect a complete and full answer.

so just how close were father and son?not very. towards the end of the book, the son lets fly this awareness: "we seldom quarreled and we were never close."nor did they engage in much shop talk; rabbi lelyvled was one of the most prominent rabbis inamerica, and his sonrose to become the man in charge at the ny times. but they steered clear discussing their jobs or careers. which to me, is, frighteningly pathological. perhaps the need to avoid conflict at all costs was what drove this arrangement, but as a reader, i wanted to know about the schisms that had to exist, especially in matter of political coverage that the times devoted to the arab-israeli saga.

naturally, with an emotionally distant father, joe needed another father figure to project his hopes and desires as he entered his adolescence, and the figure who emerged is a complicated rabbi/communist/friend of his father who occupies the moral center--and about 50 pages--of this slim book. it's here that joe's reportorial skills are in full display as he pieces together the mysterious life of ben goldstein/ben lowell.

as for my own recollection of rabbi lelyvled: I remember the newspaper photo of him in his blood-soaked shirt following a vicious beating by white thugs in the south in the early 60s. I was seven or so when this occured. and i rememberhis rather stiff and aloof demeanor during religious services. anyway, i was too young to make sense of any of his sermons. but every time he stood in front of the congregation, I would keep picturing the rabbi, with the bandage over his eye and the blood soaked shirt. he achieved a somewhat heroic stature as a result of this constant visualization

this book, alas, by his son, brings the rabbi down to earth. not maliciously, but in a careful, circumspect way, we see a man defined by his son who, in his seventh decade is still trying to define himself as a welter of repressed memories surfaced. one walks away from this sad, sad book hoping to have read these words from rabbi to son, " I love you, son."joe does tell his father that he loves him, but by then, the rabbi is lying in a vegetative state as a result of a brain tumor. the father can't hear the son. or respond to him. now, that's a painful memory loop.memories, after all, are for the living.

5-0 out of 5 stars Exceptional, warm offering
Joseph Lelyveld's "Omaha Blues", a recollection of his growing up years, is a book that touches all emotions. Having only known the author through books like Seth Mnookin's "Hard News" and his (Lelyveld's) appearances on programs such as Charlie Rose, I felt a certain draw to read "Omaha Blues". I was not disappointed.

Had the term "dysfunctional" been around in the 1940s and 1950s, Lelyveld's family could be described as such. Uprooted every few months it seems, Lelyveld spent much of his childhood with different family members (other than his parents) and with total strangers (the Jensen family in Nebraska). One wonders how this nomadic life can affect the maturity of any child, but he seems, somehow, to have taken much of this in stride. It certainly gave him a foundation for his own independence, to which he alludes.

A large section of the middle of the book is devoted to his boyhood "friend", Ben Goldstein, (aka Ben Lowell, aka George B. Stern) who seems to have served as the author's mentor or avuncular presence. While Lelyveld and Goldstein appeared to have known each other for only a brief few years, the older man certainly played an enormous role in the life of the budding foreign correspondent. That so much of this relationship is left to the imagination of the reader, Lelyveld nonetheless fills in the pieces of how Goldstein was connected to his own family...that story, in itself, is worth the read of "Omaha Blues".

I appreciate the author's candor regarding his own recollections of these formative years. While he was nicknamed "the memory boy", Lelyveld is not above letting us know that his own memory is sometimes very faulty. This admission adds to the charm of the book and allows him to be as human as possible.

"Omaha Blues" is told straight from the author's heart. I highly recommend it to any reader who wishes to explore the depths of his or her own family relationships. Joseph Lelyveld has given us his remembrances in a most affective way. ... Read more


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