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$9.71 $5.99 list($12.95)
1. A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up
$19.95 $19.63
2. Siege in Lucasville
$4.75 list($24.95)
3. Population: 485 : Meeting Your
$14.95 $11.95
4. The Prairie in Her Eyes
$1.24 list($14.00)
5. Home and Away : Memoir of a Fan
$24.95 $5.99
6. Packinghouse Daughter: A Memoir
$10.46 $8.92 list($13.95)
7. Open Secrets : A Memoir of Faith
$15.40 $5.00 list($22.00)
8. The Guinness Book of Me : A Memoir
$17.95 $3.50
9. The Prairie in Her Eyes: The Breaking
10. The Memoirs of Jean Laffite
$39.95 $28.95
11. Life on the Mississippi
$34.95 $24.42
12. John Ireland and the American
$10.17 $9.95 list($14.95)
13. The Land Remembers: The Story
$15.95 $12.42
14. Open Horizons (Fesler-Lampert
$9.95 $5.87
15. To Thank a River
$14.41 $12.05 list($16.95)
16. Badger Bars & Tavern Tales:
$11.99 list($19.95)
17. Little Giant: The Life and Times
$16.32 list($24.00)
18. My Bloody Life: The Making of
$1.00 list($19.95)
19. The Immortal Class : Bike Messengers
$9.71 $8.67 list($12.95)
20. Horse of a Different Color: Reminiscences

1. A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland Indiana (Today Show Book Club #3)
list price: $12.95
our price: $9.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0767915054
Catlog: Book (2002-09)
Publisher: Broadway
Sales Rank: 4306
Average Customer Review: 4.27 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

When Haven Kimmel was born in 1965, Mooreland, Indiana, was a sleepy little hamlet of three hundred people.Nicknamed "Zippy" for the way she would bolt around the house, this small girl was possessed of big eyes and even bigger ears.In this witty and lovingly told memoir, Kimmel takes readers back to a time when small-town America was caught in the amber of the innocent postwar period–people helped their neighbors, went to church on Sunday, and kept barnyard animals in their backyards.

Laced with fine storytelling, sharp wit, dead-on observations, and moments of sheer joy, Haven Kimmel's straight-shooting portrait of her childhood gives us a heroine who is wonderfully sweet and sly as she navigates the quirky adult world that surrounds Zippy.
... Read more

Reviews (125)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Hearing a novel hyped to no end often makes me nervous about purchasing it. However, once the hype turned into endless praise from friends in my book clubs, I knew I had to pick this one up.

Haven Kimmel's memoir of growing up in Indiana is a pleasant, intriguing read. Her use of lyrical description, at once sounds like a child's description, and is entirely beautiful. Ms. Kimmel's memoir evokes feelings of sheer happiness.

While complex enough, when examined closely, it is also a truly simple and enjoyable read. It doesn't have complex tragedies, depressing overtones. It is a simple memoir of real life growing up in the Midwest.

The characters will warm your heart, leave you ducking behind bushes, or misty-eyed, and they will all be real. It is hard to think that Ms. Kimmel wasn't jotting down notes on her thoughts, like a journalist, as her life carried on, because of the detail of every circumstance.

This novel will not dissappoint. I recommend picking it up as soon as you get the chance. It is a heart-warming, enjoyable read and lives up to its hype.

20 Nov 2002

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I ever read!
This book is hard to describe accurately, but I laughed out loud so many times reading it, sometimes feeling guilty for laughing ... but laughing nonetheless. The scene with the dead baby pig is a prime example. I've unsuccessfully described this scene to two groups of friends, and they all thought it didn't sound funny. But trust me -- somehow Haven Kimmel makes it funny!

Zippy is an adventurous, trouble-making child -- and you can't help but love her. Every character in this book is both quirky and believable.

If you're looking for a light, funny book that's like a walk down memory lane with an old friend, get this book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Fresh, funny and uplifting
Haven Kimmel's childhood was not punctuated by alcoholism or abuse. No one died young, no one tortured the young girl, and she wasn't raised in some exotic location. On the contrary, Haven's childhood was probably like a lot of people's...without major drama but full of interesting people and little stories that make for a wholesome read. I found this book very easy to get into and finish, and exceptionally refreshing compared to the majority of memoirs these days that focus on the negative. I guarantee readers of Zippy will come away with a deep appreciation for Haven's parents for raising her in a happy, and healthy environment that produced a great writer to boot.

5-0 out of 5 stars It tickles your funny bone!
I read this wonderful book while on the Greek island of Kefalonia. Given my disrupted sleep from time zone changes, I was up late into the night laughing to myself from the delightfully entertaining quips of 9 year old Zippy. The book was especially touching because I grew up in a small town, Tipton, IN, during the 1960's. I'm looking forward to reading more of Haven Kimmel's books!

5-0 out of 5 stars Just about Perfect
This book is amazing. I know I will be reading it many times. It means so much not only because I was born and raised in Indiana and can say first-hand that Haven Kimmel captures the very essence of the people and sights in small-town Midwest, but that she handles each character and setting with such grace and simple truth that I haven't seen in a book before this. This book reveals integrity and beauty without being overly sentimental. I think it's rare today to find an artist/writer/etc. with the courage to keep things simple and true. It is even more rare to do that and still be entertaining. This is one of my favorite books. Haven Kimmel is a wonderful writer. ... Read more

2. Siege in Lucasville
by Gary Williams
list price: $19.95
our price: $19.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1414021410
Catlog: Book (2003-10-01)
Publisher: 1stBooks Library
Sales Rank: 301968
Average Customer Review: 3.25 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (4)

3-0 out of 5 stars A Must Read Book for all Practitioners!
As a practitioner in the field of criminal justice and a Correction Supervisor at the oldest operational prison west of the Mississippi, the Missouri State Penitentiary, I found this book to be extremely beneficial and educational in understanding the dynamics in both hostage and riot situations. As correctional professionals, we are faced with this dilemma every time we pass through the gates of hell into the community environment of convicted felons.

Both Gary and Larry did an outstanding job in illustrating the trauma and horror one sustains in a crisis situation of this nature. However, more information on the aftermath and trials would have been beneficial for future research.

If either Gary or Larry reads this review, please email me so I can obtain further knowledge on this subject.

1-0 out of 5 stars A disappointing and incomplete effort
I was really looking forward to this book as nothing else has been published to date on this important event. I was very disappointed. It was poorly edited; there were a number of typos and punctuation errors.
It was not a balanced account at all. For an event of this magnitude to have occurred there had to have been a number of complicated causal factors. The author took an overly simplistic view. I am not sympathizing with the rioters by any stretch but the cause was more complicated than the author addressed.
I would have been interested to learn more about what actually transpired in the negotiations which led to a resolution without more bloodshed. I would also have liked to know more of what happened to the key players (hostages, staff, administration, participating inmates, non-participating inmates, etc.) afterward. There have been a number of criminal and civil court cases which should have been addressed in more detail.
Little was done to address what can be learned from those events. That should be a key goal of books of this nature.

4-0 out of 5 stars Siege in Lucasville
Recommended for all correctional professional as this could happen to any one of us. I would have liked greater detail particularly in reference to what happened to Officer Demon who went over to the other side and the subsequent trials of those who were active participants in the riot.

I liked the fact that Larry named staff and their various roles before and during the riot. Again though, no followup on what has happened to them after the riot.

If you work in the field of corrections or the greater law enforcement field, this book is a must read and should be part of all entry level correctional programs throughout the country.

Larry or Gary, if you read this, please email me as I would like to speak with you further as I work for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in PA. Very good book and thank you Larry for letting us learn from your personal drama!

5-0 out of 5 stars Great read
I work in the system and found it to be factual and interesting to those not only in the profession but to anyone interested in what goes on behind the walls of a prison. ... Read more

3. Population: 485 : Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time (Wisconsin)
by Michael Perry
list price: $24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060198524
Catlog: Book (2002-10-01)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Sales Rank: 235380
Average Customer Review: 4.85 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Welcome to New Auburn, Wisconsin (population: 485), where the local vigilante is a farmer's wife armed with a pistol and a Bible, the most senior member of the volunteer fire department is a cross-eyed butcher with one kidney and two ex-wives (both of whom work at the only gas station in town), and the back roads are haunted by the ghosts of children and farmers. Michael Perry loves this place. He grew up here, and now -- after a decade away -- he has returned.

Unable to polka or repair his own pickup, his farm-boy hands gone soft after years of writing, Mike figures the best way to regain his credibility is to join the volunteer fire department. Against a backdrop of fires and tangled wrecks, bar fights and smelt feeds, he tells a frequently comic tale leavened with moments of heartbreaking delicacy and searing tragedy. Tracing his calls on a map in the little firehouse, he sees "a dense, benevolent web, spun one frantic zigzag at a time" from which the story of a tiny town emerges, building to a final chapter that is at once devastating and transcendent. ... Read more

Reviews (34)

5-0 out of 5 stars Close to Home - 2nd attempt
I recently completed Population: 485 and found that it hit very close to home. I grew up in a town smaller that New Auburn, helped with the VFD and then moved away for a while only to recently return. Reading the book reminded me of why I came back.

The characters are the type that are readily noticed in a small town because you are more likely to know everyone. The spirit of community when someone is in need is indeed true. From my own experience, the person that cusses you the louded everyday may very well be the first to offer help when needed. You may not have a lot of common most of the time, but you pull together in the darkest hours.

I would recommend this book for anyone who has ever lived in a small town, ever served in fire/EMS service or ever wanted to do do either.

The stories are compelling. The writing, while fanciful at times is well adapted to the subject. It was a quick read, partially because I couldn't put it down.

All in all a ... good book

5-0 out of 5 stars Close to Home
Population: 485 is a book that makes me want to laugh and cry, generally on the same page. I grew up in a small town, worked the VFD then moved away to return some years later. I can readily identify with what Mr. Perry has written in his book. It hits close to home.

If you have ever lived in a small town, served on a small fire department/EMS service, or ever wanted to, this is a book you should read.

The story involves characters that are unique to small towns and they will make you smile and chuckle. The coming together of people to help one another will make you beam with pride. And the tragedies involved with his work will make you cry with a hurt that is all too familiar.

Well written with enough detail to make the experience real Mike Perry has written a book that will reside forever in the dens and family rooms of small town firefighters and EMS workers. Its humanity and inside along with the characters and stories will make it an enjoyable read for anyone.

You cannot go wrong with this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Love Among the Rubes
"Summer comes on like a zaftig hippie chick, jazzed on chlorophyll and flinging fistfuls of butterflies at the sun."
If you're past a certain age, that opening line should remind you of the books that you read in your impressionable years; the ones that made you a reader for life. Think Richard Brautigan. Think Thomas Pynchon. Think Ken Kesey or Hunter S. Thompson.
Michael Perry has a sensibility and a style that assimilate the best that these guys had to offer: Brautigan's sweet, sad quirkiness, Pynchon's God's-eye view of his characters' worlds, Kesey's brawny prose and close observational skills, Thompson's prickly - and very funny - clarity of vision and expression. He goes on to outdo them, however, in a book so small and unassuming - and so tender - that you forgive him for knocking your old literary gods into the hog trough.
Framed by two stories of such pathos - something lacking in our daily lives as a rule, thank God - that we don't have a premeditated response to it, are a wealth of slice-of-life stories about the little town of New Auburn, Wisconsin, (population 485) that are so lovingly and meticulously rendered that you'll recognize your own town. Your own neighbors. Your own self.
The opening piece - "Jabowski's Corner" - tells the story of a hardworking farm family with a deadly piece of road bisecting their land. Part encomium to the farmer and his wife who raised seven girls and five boys on a rockpatch farm, part euology to the girl so terribly injured on the sharp curve known as Jabowski's Corner, and finally, part tale of Perry's attempt - by joining the local volunteer fire department and EMS squad - to weave his life back into that of the community in the hometown that he left years ago, this is a harrowing tale of faith and loss and love.
About the girl, Perry tells us, "Seven years since the accident, and this is what freezes me late at night: There was a moment - a still, horrible moment - when the car came squalling to a halt, the violent kinetics spent, and the girl was pinned in silence... The meadowlark sings, the land drops away south to the hazy tamarack bowl of the Big Swamp... all around the land is rank with life... The girl is terribly, terribly alone in a beautiful, beautiful world."
Between this horrible, lovely story and the end piece - an equally lachrymose one about Perry's sister-in-law of seven weeks' death under similar circumstances - are a series of meditations and just plain wacky yarns about everything from the semiotics of lawn tchachkes to the night Tricky Jackson wiped out the laundromat. My favorite is the one about the big, boozy, bearded logger who thinks he's having a heart attack. He and his fellow Budmeisters are out in the middle of nowhere, and when the EMS team shows up, and the woodsy mirthmakers hear the words "cardiac arrest", they surround their downed friend like protective, demented musk oxen - "arrest" being the only word that penetrates their alcoholic fog.
In the final essay, Perry tells us about Sarah, the young girl who marries his thirty-something brother only to die in a car accident seven weeks later. "At the wake," he says, "it was her hands that made me cry. I would look at them and think of them touching my brother." Which pretty much says all that need be said about the unspoken love between siblings.
It takes a big, strong heart, I think, to join an EMS team or to volunteer as a firefighter - to look at people at their weakest and not turn away. It took that same kind of heart to write these stories.

5-0 out of 5 stars Small Town Living Captured Perfectly
From describing interactions between feuding high school sweethearts in the middle of Main Street to Kodiak-chewing characters that make you say, "I know that guy," the picture of small town living Michael Perry creates for readers is dead on. I couldn't stop reading, laughing, sighing, shaking my head - this book has it all. Because I was raised small town Abrams, Wisconsin, I can honestly say that Perry captures the bittersweet life people live there and, he made me a little homesick. Please read this book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Fine tales from the Midwest
POPULATION: 485 is a patchwork of stories, history & memories written from the perspective of a native son's return to his home town as a First Responder. Michael Perry writes with an unerring eye for community, nostalgia, tragedy, comedy & self-reflection. Tears & laughter are the spices which make this as welcome a read as a hot toddy on a cold night.

Rebeccasreads highly recommends POPULATION: 485 for anyone who relishes the humor & drama of everyday life in a small American town hanging on to life by the roots of its families. ... Read more

4. The Prairie in Her Eyes
by Ann Daum
list price: $14.95
our price: $14.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1571312684
Catlog: Book (2003-02-01)
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Sales Rank: 608337
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Book Description

Ann Daum’s earthy and elegant memoir begins in the present then moves into the past, as Daum tells her story as an independent rancher raising sport horses on what’s left of a 30,000-acre spread. In 16 essays, she writes about the connection to land, family, and animals that is so much a part of everyday life in the West, and tells why she chose to stay in a place that is not for the weak or fearful. the Prairie in Her eyes is a Bloomsbury Review Editors’ Favorite Book of 2001. Orion ... Read more

5. Home and Away : Memoir of a Fan
by Scott Simon
list price: $14.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786886528
Catlog: Book (2001-06-13)
Publisher: Hyperion
Sales Rank: 518101
Average Customer Review: 4.55 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The #1 Los Angeles Times bestseller from the host of NPR's Weekend Edition -- "absolutely spectacular-wise and intimate, often funny, always touching" (Scott Turow) -- now in paperback.

In a beautifully written narrative that runs from childhood to adulthood through times of war and peace, Scott Simon movingly tracing his life as a fan -- of sports, theater, politics, and the people and things he holds dear.

Sports Illustrated columnist Ron Fimrite says of Home and Away, "Rarely do you find in books of this genre a clearer look into mysteries and confusions of childhood . . . moving and often amusing portraits . . . insights into the complex and often corrupt world of Chicago politics, the city being this book's true protagonist. There are compelling scenes from Simon's years as a war correspondent, roving reporter, and political operative . . . There is also an emotional account of Michael Jordan's last championship season with the Bulls that is a book within a book . . .

"The writing is uniformly superb. This is, in fact, a memoir of such breadth and reach it compares favorably with another book that is allegedly about the nature of sports allegiance, Frederick Exley's A Fan's Notes. And that, believe me, is saying something." ... Read more

Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars A gem!
I'm not a sports fan and I absolutely LOVED this book. I've been an avid listener of Scott Simon's Weekend Edition for many years and have always enjoyed his view of the world. When I heard he had a book coming out, I trotted out to buy it (locally, not on Amazon where I could have saved some money - groan!) and read it on a beach vacation. I couldn't put it down. I so thoroughly enjoyed this book! It was a delight to read. (Hey - when I was in Chicago last week for business, I called up an old college friend and convinced him to go with me to a Chicago Cubs game - and had a blast!) Thanks, Scott, for the book, and hurry up and write more!

5-0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, lives up to the hype and more!
The reviews are starting to come in now and I don't want to hyperbolize. I picked up Home and Away because I had heard some good things about it and liked the few pages I read in the bookstore. I'm in a big baseball reading mode right now and Home and Away seemed to be definitely up my alley. After finishing it last night, I can say without hesitation that this is the best book I've read in a long time. Yes, it is a memoir of a fan but much much more. Simon is a gifted writer and his stories: the heartbreak of the Cubs, decline, ascension and decline of the Bears and the once in a lifetime experience of rooting for the Michael Jordan Bulls are all beautifully crafted - Simon puts you there, at Wrigley, Comiskey, Soldier Field, Chicago Stadium and the United Center, but he does so much more. He tells about the many setbacks suffered as boy, living in a loving but dysfunctional family, he brings the misery of Sarajevo and Grenada home through his experiences as a reporter in the same vivid detail as he describes the many games he has seen. He also writes about his transformation from 60s radical to 80s and 90s war correspondent. But he also, without gushing, illustrates how/why sports play such a seminal part in his and our lives. We meet fascinating people - Jack Brickhouse, Leo Durocher, Luc Longley, Mike Ditka, etc. Additionally, this book is great for its uniqueness. Somehow Simon brings all of these diverse elements together in a way where everything is connected. I'm not a Chicagoan but imaginine how moved one is when sharing Simon's memories. Above all, one does not have to be a sports fan to derive great pleasure - it is truly a human story without the cliche. We will be hearing a lot more about this book.

3-0 out of 5 stars Great Narration, Bad Facts
Any sports fan (especially from the Chicago area) will definitely enjoy this story of growing up as a fan in Chicago. The only thing that keeps me from giving this book 4 stars is the inaccuracies. In several instances, Simon gives incorrect scores, dates and places. You would think it would be easy for someone in his position to have the correct info, so this unfortunately distracted me from an otherwise fine read.

5-0 out of 5 stars For any sports fan!
I admit, as a transplanted Chicagoan and die-hard sports fan, its hard to be objective about this book. Scott Simon cleverly weaves his own personal remembrances of growing up in Chicago, into an historic timeline of sports and politics, which amounts to must read for anyone who wants a true glimpse into the soul of 'the city with big shoulders'.
I laughed hard and often at the family anecdotes, its easy to see where Simon gets his sense of humor, thrilled at reliving the Cub season of '69 and saddened, once again, at Brian Piccolo's courageous battle with cancer.
After finishing 'Home and Away', I was compelled to send copies to a few of my sports buddies...less fortunate souls having grown up in cities of less character.
I am a fan of the city, its teams (except the Sox...go Cubbies), and this writer ,who embodies it all so well in this book.

2-0 out of 5 stars Starts Superbly, Oozing with Sap by the End
I picked up Home and Away because I like to read books on sports by sophisticated minds. And initially, I wasn't disappointed. Scott Simon delivers a vivid depiction of his childhood and his childhood love for sports, offering touching and revealing personal moments in the process. When he discusses his father and stepfather, we see the fan in a context larger than just the game, which I appreciated and admired.

But after the stepfather's criminal conviction, the narrative transitions into the story of the recent Bulls dynasty. Here is where book's self-indulgent love for Chicago turns to insufferable, sentimental cheese. In addition to slathering extra layers of sentimental goo on the Bulls--more than Simon previously appropriated for either Butkus's or Ditka's Bears--Simon covers ground already covered expertly and thoroughly by David Halberstam in Playing for Keeps. Only unlike Halberstam, Simon all but kisses Michael Jordan's behind, assessing no blame and even offering excuses for the star's occasional bad behavior. To me, the blatant sycophancy (is that a word?) on the part of the author makes me wonder if he willfully compromised his journalistic integrity or if that occurrence was inadvertant. Either way, I was thoroughly disappointed and had to stop reading. As do most Chicagoans, Simon simply got unBearably self-indulgent in his love for his city. ... Read more

6. Packinghouse Daughter: A Memoir
by Cheri Register
list price: $24.95
our price: $24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0873513916
Catlog: Book (2000-09-01)
Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press
Sales Rank: 587698
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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In 1959, meatpackers in the little Minnesota town of Albert Lea went on strike to demand better working conditions and higher rates of pay. The plant's owners brought in strikebreakers from nearby towns, violence ensued, the governor of Minnesota called in the National Guard, and for a few days news from Albert Lea filled papers around the United States.

The incident has long been forgotten, even by many local residents. Cheri Register, who was 14 years old at the time, is one who remembers it well. In this affecting memoir of working-class life, she pays homage to her father, who worked in the plant for 31 numbing years, earning 70 cents an hour when he started, a bit more than five dollars an hour when he retired. The work was dangerous and unpleasant, but still an improvement over the alternatives, for, as she writes, "My entire family failed at farming in one of the richest stretches of the corn belt, where water was so plentiful it had to be drained away and the soil so thick that geologists could find no exposed rock."

As she recounts the strike and her father's life, Register describes how the subsequent generational conflicts of the 1960s and her own aspirations divided her family. "To be successful," she writes, "which means free from grueling labor, the children of blue-collar families must be driven from home, away from the familiar and secure." Her book is both a homecoming and a welcome contribution to labor history. --Gregory McNamee ... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Tribute to the Greatest Generation's working-class
I don't much like memoirs. But Packinghouse Daughter, by Cheri Register, is not a typical memoir. It is enchanting, disturbing, and provocative. It should be read by a wide range of readers, including academics and other middle-class professionals who pride themselves on "siding with the working class." It shatters some of our illusions and our tendency to romanticize our identification with working-class people even as it encourages us to hold fast to our principles. The book should also be read by the countless working-class parents who worked hard to give their children the life they knew they could never have. Speaking for those children, this book says eloquently: we honor you, our parents, for your commitments and principles and will try to carry those into our very different worlds. As a bonus, the book's author tells her story so well, with a disarming openness about her conflicted emotions and with such humor and earthy but deep insight, that it will be accessible even to those who don't read much.

Register tells a story of growing up in the 1950s as the daughter of a longtime employee of the Wilson meatpacking plant in Albert Lea, Minnesota, not far from the more famous (and, in her account, more favored) Hormel plant in Austin. Coming-of-age memoirs now flood the market with stories that cater to our need for a revised Horatio Alger myth. In countless stories--many of them moving, important stories for our time--children grow up suffering from unspeakable poverty, abusive or otherwise dysfunctional families, or racism, but somehow survive and overcome those conditions to become not wealthy business moguls but their equivalent in our politically correct age: writers or academics who speak out against poverty, violence, and racism. Despite some similarities, this memoir is different. Register acknowledges gratefully that her parents provided an emotionally and economically secure environment for her, while educating her about her place in a world with more complicated class divisions than we see in most popular memoirs. It is, in part, her more subtle account of those divisions that makes her story so compelling.

Make no mistake about it: this is a one-sided story. Register's father is a loyal union man, and she is loyal to the union line, too, especially in telling the story of a particularly divisive labor dispute in 1959. But even when she makes it clear where she believes justice and unfairness lie, she complicates the story in ways that enrich our understanding rather than feed our prejudices.

I grew up in rural Ohio only slightly later than Register, the son of a small-town midwestern merchant in a solidly middle-class family with undoubtedly less disposable income than Register's. My father, like many of Albert Lea's merchants, resented the unions that secured better wages for the workers in the nearby General Motors plant than he thought he could afford to pay his loyal, hard-working employees--some of whom earned more than he did. That experience has always made me suspicious of class-based analyses of rural and small-town life. But Register's subtle class analysis of life in mid-century Albert Lea rings true even to my suspicious ears.

It also rings true because Register does not rely on memory alone. She consulted contemporary sources and interviewed a wide range of informants-balancing her interview with the union president by her interview and sympathetic portrayal of the plant manager, for example. Register knows what memories--hers and her informants--are good for. They convey the sentiment of the times. In that sense her account is sentimental in the best sense of that word. Her language is so vivid and her memories so fine-tuned that we feel we are walking the streets of Albert Lea with her, encountering mid-century sights and sounds that conjure up our own memories. But she knows enough not to trust memories when they become nostalgic, and she walks that fine line with a fine sense of balance.

Register also manages to succeed where many memoirists try but fail: though cast as a memoir, this book feels like it is more about the times than it is about her. Packinghouse Daughter is an eloquent and fitting tribute to the working-class lives of The Greatest Generation.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Memoir
I first found out about this book in an article in the Rochester newspaper about the Minnesota Historical Society Press. Since then, I have purchased several of their books. *Packinghouse Daughter* won the American Book Award and the Minnesota Book Award for autobiography, and it deserved both prizes heartily! This book is full of interesting people, class struggle, a young woman coming of age, and old-fashioned Midwestern life. If you hate those whiney memoirs about bad childhoods then this is the perfect antidote.

I would also recommend Steven R. Hoffbeck's *The Haymakers,* which won the Minnesota Book Award for history, and Peter Razor's *While the Locust Slept,* which deserves to win every award out there--both from the Historical Society. These books, like Register's, are good stories concerned with how ordinary people get by and sometimes make an important impact on our culture. These heartfelt books should be read by Americans everywhere and should be the standard for all publishers to meet.

5-0 out of 5 stars recommended reading
Even if you are not from the midwestor know nothing about the meat packing business this book will give you much to think about. Cheri has a way of bringing you into her experiences.

5-0 out of 5 stars A gift to working-class families
This book -- personal and warm -- is an extraordinary gift to kids of working-class parents. Cheri Register says things that I felt about my own dad and about my own home town, but that I was never able to say to him. She shows how what we do for a "living" is really central to shaping who we are in the bigger world. Thank you for this book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Packs a punch
This book does all the things so many memoirs fail to do. The author attempts to understand her parents, especially her father, rather than condemn them. She is critical of herself as often as anyone else. And, as Carol Bly points out in her blurb, she presents both a "public and personal memoir." Thus, the story of the 1959 meatpackers strike in Albert Lea, Minnesota, takes center stage. It becomes the flashpoint for future examination of class, gender, and the divide between union and management. By using this event as the book's anchor, Register reveals as much about the life of this small town as she does about herself. The point, it seems, is that her home town could as easily be our home town. We know these people. They happen to be packinghouse workers, but they could be Maine lobstermen fighting for fishing rights or small-plot farmer in the Southwest struggling for water rights. Best of all, Register makes you understand the human concerns of people on both sides. Where so many books would have chosen to demonize the plant managers, Register makes you see their point of view. By eschewing political agenda and dismissing easy propaganda, *Packinghouse Daughter* goes straight to the heart of the most basic American struggle. ... Read more

7. Open Secrets : A Memoir of Faith and Discovery
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0767907442
Catlog: Book (2002-06-11)
Publisher: Broadway
Sales Rank: 84434
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In the tradition of Garrison Keillor, Open Secrets captures the friendships, rivalries, and rumors of small-town life by chronicling the lives of the citizens of a small Midwestern community through the eyes of a young minister.

Fresh out of divinity school and bursting with enthusiasm, Richard Lischer found himself assigned to a small conservative church in an economically depressed town in southern Illinois.It’s an awkward marriage at best--a young man with a Ph.D. in theology, full of ideas and ambitions, determined to improve his parish and bring it into the twenty-first century, and a community that is “as tightly sealed as a jar of home-canned pickles.”In Open Secrets, Lischer tells not only his own story but also the story of New Cana and its inhabitants.With charm, openness, and humor, Lischer brings to life the clash of cultures and personalities that marks his pastoral tenure, including his own doubts, as well as those of his parishioners, that a twenty-eight-year-old suburban-raised liberal can deal with the troubled marriages, alcoholism, teen sex, inadequate farm subsidies, and other concerns of the conservative, tightly knit community.But the inhabitants of New Cana--lovable, deeply flawed, imperfect people who stick together--open their arms to him in their own way, and the result is a colorful, poignant comedy of small-town life and all it has to offer.
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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars No more secrets
Richard Lischer had a plan -- graduate from seminary, have a few significant pastorates, teach at a seminary, end up as president and 'big wheel' of the denomination. As the lyric says, life is what happens when you are making other plans. In the book 'Open Secrets', Lischer recounts many of the awakenings he experienced as pastor of a small-town, isolated community church, far from the seminary where he'd studied, and far from the city and 'powers' he'd dreamt of.

Lischer begins this autobiographical tale with a brief overview of his life prior to his arrival at New Cana -- only child, good but standard education, 'typical' rebellions in school and seminary -- a fairly conventional upbringing, with only a few points of deviation from the norm. He did have visions of something better, however, and was shocked at his appointment to the church in New Cana, a town so remote that it was difficult to find on a map, and even once he was there, it was still difficult to find.

There was a symbol of foreboding from the first day, in that the cross atop the church was broken. This was a broken community, and had been for generations, in many ways. It was stable, secure in its structure and in its dysfunction, and Lischer's arrival was greeted with what was probably the traditional lack of fanfare. There was one 'ruling family' of the congregation, and insiders were clearly differentiated from the outsiders. Lischer and family were definitely outsiders.

The conflicts in the town were fairly typical of the human condition -- there were family troubles ranging from abuse and neglect to simple emotional wear-and-tear. Overshadowing the town was the almost constant depression that accompanies an agricultural-based community; working the land is hard in the best of times, so people grew accustomed to a hard life.

Lischer ultimately finds value in the community, but one wonders upon reading this memoir if that value was realised largely (or only) in hindsight. The struggle through the conflicts, both internal and external, are very apparent at each turn. Nothing came easily in Lischer's ministry. Ultimately, however, the community was accepting, and Lischer was similarly accepting. One man, Leonard, who loudly proclaimed, 'I didn't vote for you' at the first meeting of congregation and pastor, was in fact the last one to give thanks and blessing as the Lischers departed for new ministries three years later.

The people recounted in Lischer's tale are genuine. We only get the interior reflections of Lischer, but one can sense, among this uncomplicated community, the motivations and simple ways of true living among the parishioners. When Lischer tried for an innovation in the liturgy by permitting guitar music, one member of congregation reacted badly. Worried, Lischer wondered how the trouble might be resolved, others in the congregation assured Lischer not to worry, saying that the trouble-maker had always been trouble anyway.

As a portrait of small-town life, this is a unique and interesting perspective. While the world of the 60s is no longer with us, in many ways the community of New Cana (as many small agricultural towns were) was largely passed over by many of the cultural developments of the 60s (and 70s, and 80s); thus there is a timeless character to this narrative.

Fascinating to read, practical and spiritual at the same time, the reader will be enriched by Lischer's experiences.

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Delightful!
A Portrait of the Pastor as a Young Man. An intimate look at a pastor and his first church. This is a wonderful look back at Lischer's early years in ministry. It details some of his struggles as a well-educated city boy trying to relate to a rural congregation, and expertly captures the difficulties of the early years in ministry for anyone trying to reconcile many years of education with the reality of life as a pastor. Lischer's wonderfully understated sense of humor comes through in many places. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Rare Gem
With engaging wit and warm insight Richard Lischer allows us to sneak a peak behind his first pastorate from Lutheran Seminary. Being unfamiliar with Lutheranism I was awed by the profundity of belief and the rich relationships into the community that he entered. He entered as a virgin and left as a lover of his people that God graciously allowed him to pastor. Take the time to read this book and enter heartache, grace, empathy, communion and fellowship of the deepest level. Experience the privilege of a new way of seeing people. ... Read more

8. The Guinness Book of Me : A Memoir of Record
by Steven Church
list price: $22.00
our price: $15.40
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Asin: 0743266951
Catlog: Book (2005-04-01)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 119913
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Pogo Stick Jumping. The greatest number of jumps achieved is 105,338 by Michael Barban in 18 hours on September 12, 1978, in Florissant, Missouri. Scott Spencer...of Wilmington, Delaware, covered 6 miles in 6 1�2 hours in September 1974.

-- Guinness Book of World Records, Giant 1980 Super-Edition

In this wildly imaginative memoir about an oversized midwestern boy's obsession with the Guinness Book of World Records, a tale of growing up different takes on epic proportions. "It was the Guinness books that gave me an escape," proclaims Steven Church in this darkly comic memoir, "a strange and seductive escape into the territory of the imagination." The Guinness Book of Me recalls a perilous youth strewn with the shadows of record holders, past and present, whose cameos add layers of meaning in fabulous and unexpected ways.

Have you ever wondered why someone would grow the world's longest fingernails or eat an eleven-foot tree? Steven Church has. His bizarre speculative investigations have less to do with the truth and more to do with a celebration of freaks, an exploration of memory, and an examination of identity. In fierce, muscled prose, Church explores a childhood lived between a father and younger brother who are each larger than life. Both hilarious and heartbreaking, The Guinness Book of Me will captivate and surprise you. This is more than a memoir; it's an engaging homage to pop culture, a powerful look at life's extremes, and an impressive debut from a promising young writer. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Strong story - Male perspective
I am an avid reader and a woman.I lean toward great contemporary fiction written by women these days, not sure why. . . so when someone handed me this hot off the press book, I flinched.I try to read male authors, and while I can glean good writing nods from the best of them, I don't reach for them again years later,Most male books don't become best friends.By best friends, I'm talking, Barbara Kingsolvers' books, Monk's The Secret Life of Bees, The Lady who wrote the Pilot's Wife . . . those books.You know . . THOSE BOOKS (I say this like a drug addict talks about his next hit).They're hard to find.The Guinness Book of Me will.I can't get it out of my head.It smacked with honest, strong writing and for the first time, I felt like I honestly got inside a man's head.Hurrah for Steven Church, his first novel.I'd be willing to bet this book is going to go BIG.Be one of the first to read it. Be the one at your reading club to suggest it.You can't go wrong. Male or Female.I can't wait to give it to my 15 year old son to read.There was "chick lit", right?What's this?"Bro Books?"I loved every single written word in it.And I can only say that about a handful of books I've read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Read it!
I read this book in just two sittings, it would have been only one, but I have 2 small children. I pick it back up and re-read sections again and again.Steven Church is a fabulous writer.Steven Church makes me wish I could eat dinner with his in-laws and visit Kansas.I love his writing and I can't wait for more.I am buying a copy for my dad, one for my brother, and I am keeping my copy.Steven Church, write more soon.

5-0 out of 5 stars A guy book
This book is sensitive.Church has a way of approching the sadness in his life (brother's death, for one) that is simple, but not overly sensitive.But there are enough male-bonding episodes and inevitable scars to make it a guy book.Refreshing, in a sea of chick lit.*And* he gets the girl.

5-0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this if you have an interest in the human heart
I read this book (indeed, I became aware of this book) because Steven Church is my husband's cousin (there, full disclosure).I've met him a few times, but I couldn't say I know him.I didn't necessarily want to love this book.But I did, and I devoured it in one sitting.

So why read a memoir of someone who is not your husband's cousin, someone who has never committed a serious crime or slept with movie stars or been present at a Big Moment in History?Someone whose physical scars all come from silly accidents, someone who grew up in Kansas, for goodness' sake?The facts of Steven Church's life would hardly qualify him for a one-page piece in People Magazine.

Read this memoir because it is a true (although maybe not always factual) story.Because it is funny, inventive, touching, real, tough and beautiful.Read it because it will make you want to know Steven Church, because it will make you feel that you do.Read it because his musings about Guinness Book record-holders are as real and intimate and fine as what he tells you about his own battered heart.Read it because it is superbly crafted--WRITTEN, not just WRITTEN DOWN (I do not have the luxury of italics here).

So READ it for all those reasons, but BUY it because someday you will be proud and glad to own a first edition of the first book by Steven Church. ... Read more

9. The Prairie in Her Eyes: The Breaking and Making of a Dakota Rancher
by Ann Daum
list price: $17.95
our price: $17.95
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Asin: 1571312552
Catlog: Book (2001-06-09)
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Sales Rank: 949885
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Reared on her father’s 13,000-acre spread, Ann Daum is now a rancher herself, raising sport horses and hoping to sustain a relationship to place in which self-reliance is not intertwined with cruelty, and closeness to the land does not imply hatred of the wild. Daum’s essays rise and fall with the undulations of the prairie and can be as forceful as the South Dakota weather. Her warm memories of being a little girl on the ranch and listening to her father tell stories contrast sharply with her recollections of the captive coyote she set free one night and the ranch hand whose casual brutality extended from the killing of wild creatures to sexual predation. Daum writes not only about the artifacts buried in the prairie soil but also about what lies hidden in the lives of the prairie’s residents. ... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Proud to be a Dakotan
From her descriptions of the wind, to the grasses, to the hardships, Ann Daum captured South Dakota's reality on paper. Every chapter lends truths to the prairie and our lives here. Thanks, Ann.

5-0 out of 5 stars This could have been my life
My life has many parallels to Ann Daum's; my life could have been hers. I grew up on a farm/ranch in central North Dakota, went out of state for college, came home to try to make a living, enjoy traveling and the wonders of the rest of the world, but am always drawn back to the northern Great Plains. Nowhere is the phrase "Hope springs eternal" better personified than in the lives of farmers and ranchers on the northern Great Plains. Daum captures this. Despite devastating losses of livestock, hail storms, floods and grasshopper plagues, farmers and ranchers believe next spring will be better, there might be a bumper crop and the next winter can't be so harsh. This hope strains marriages, finances and families. Daum also wonderfully and painfully captures the contradictions between the love of pets and baby calves and the war against predators and ultimate demise of all farm animals. I, fortunately, did not have some of the negative experiences that Daum did, but I saw them in others, heard of them and empathize. Walt Whitman wrote, "The Plains, while less stunning at first sight, last longer, fill the esthetic sense fuller, precede all the rest and make North America's characteristic landscape." Daum supports this statement. Anybody who enjoyed this book might want to read "Dakota: A Spiritual Geography," by Kathleen Norris. Also, for a different, more fact based, perspective of the Great Plains, "Where The Buffalo Roam: The Storm Over the Revolutionary Plan to Restore America's Great Plains," by Anne Matthews.

5-0 out of 5 stars Praise for Prairie in Her Eyes
Minneapolis Star-Tribune Regional Round-up, June 24, 2001: "Daum's writing is lyrical, haunted by mortality, and so detailed you can almost feel the dust and heat. With great feeling, she captures a place where 'loneliness is just another disease.'"

Forward Magazine, July Issue: "This land, the prairie is not just in her eyes-it's in her soul in this slender but weighty first book."

5-0 out of 5 stars The Genuine Article
Every now and then, an authentic voice sings a song about life, the world we live in, and the human condition. In Ann Daum's book "Prairie in Her Eyes," we hear all this, plus a symphony about the animal condition as well. I grew up in New York City. When I read Ann Daum's work, I am transported to a different world, made up of enormous skies, animal bodies and breath, and the rhythm of the seasons in big sky country. I am close to her and her world. I cry about a fox I never met. I breathe deeply about the fate of cows, prairie dogs and horses. Life takes on a new perspective and a depth that flows from the earth, the weather, the ranch, and Ann's generous and sensitive heart. Fine writing should reach out to whatever is univeral, but also speak to one human being's particular experience. "The Prairie In Her Eyes" has achieved this essential interweave, and I recommend it to anyone with heart or soul or mind.

5-0 out of 5 stars SOUL-FULL
If you want to taste earth and the vast, wind-carried longings,this book will be a soulful treat, page after page. Ann weaves image and story together with our almost forgotten human need for something more primal, more true, than our bleak and urban skies. ... Read more

10. The Memoirs of Jean Laffite
by Jean Laffite, Gene Marshall
list price: $20.99
our price: $20.99
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Asin: 0738812536
Catlog: Book (2000-08)
Publisher: Xlibris Corporation
Sales Rank: 355366
Average Customer Review: 1.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Jean Laffite, famous for aiding Andrew Jackson during the Battle of New Orleans, is largely a man of mystery before and after that event.His recollections of a raider's life before the War of 1812 and his adventures after his expulsion from Galveston, Texas,are now recounted in this English translation from the original French of the words of an old man living with his new, young family in St. Louis, Missouri, in the 1840's. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

2-0 out of 5 stars Memoirs of a Crackpot
Assuming that the text is authentically the work of Jean Laffite, then this is a great case study of how people resort to denial and self-delusion on a fantastic scale if they are engaged in crime. I understand the criticisms of the text based on handwriting analyses and so forth, but handwriting samples of a given person can change at different times over a person's life and to me the criticism voiced in other reviews here of this text are inconclusive.

The thing that makes the text ring true as the voice of Jean Laffite here is the identification of the pirates' brother Pierre as the illustrious Dominique You. This has never been corroborated, but the claim makes sense.

So, if this is Jean Laffite, then the fellow was a certifiable, vainglorious crackpot of a headcase. The author expresses throughout an irrational condemnation of the British and Spanish, whom he lumps together and condemns as the neferious villains he fought against all his life, as a "privateer" first in the service of revolutionary France and then the adolescent United States. He seems blissfully unaware that when he claims he began attacking and robbing Spanish ships in 1801 the French government he claimed then to be in the service of was at that time an ally of Spain! He denigrates the Spanish nation further throughout the book, villafying them as the arch enemy of freedom and liberty, but seems oblivious to the fact the from 1820 to 1823 Spain founded, and attempted to make a go of it as a republic. Laffite's (or the author's) ignorance is even more astonishing when one considers that this "First Spanish Republic" of the 1820s was destroyed by a military invasion from Laffite's beloved holy-land: France!

Laffite, (or the author makes the claim for him) also seems to take credit for saving the United States (from which he claims bitter dishonor due to lack of compensation from said government) from British aggression at the Battle of New Orleans. Yes, we are given to understand ol' Jean and Pierre (as Dominique You) and their band of "privateers" saved the fate of the U.S. from destruction at the hands of the British at N.O. that day in January 1815! Never mind that what the Laffite's actually contributed was but a minor fraction of the total manpower and arms supply of Jackson's forces! Laffite saved the day, and the U.S. has him to thank for it, and according to him that thanks never came (at least not in the form he wanted it in, cold hard cash or silver or gold or, yes indeed - slaves!)

That brings me to the next thing- while Laffite cries melodramatically throughout on the oppression of poor peoples everywhere by evil powers like Britain and Spain, he casually admits, as if all about it were normal and acceptable, that he often stole slaves- Africans- from British and Spanish slave ships and sold said slaves to customers of his own choosing and pocketed the cash! LAffite exhibits no problem of conscience whatsoever when he says this.

Laffite also denies vehemantly that he was a "pirate." He insists on calling himself "privateer." He claims he always carried registration papers from the French government or some lesser organization of doubtfull validity varifying his status as a professional privateer. Never mind that his claim of privateer in the service of France while he was attacking Spain, an ally of France by Treaty of San Ildefonso in the early 1800s would seem to suggest he, at the very least, tended to abuse his privateer status.

Whether the text is authentic or not, it is a fascinating confession (or conscienable evasion) of a scoundrel!

Also, be aware, the syntax of this translation is atrocious. Given that it was translated from the French by a university professor (who himself, in a disclaimer at the front of the book, acknowledges the constant non-sequiturs and general non-sensicals of many passages in the original) an added conclusion can be made: that Laffite (or his hoaxer) was an illiterate!

1-0 out of 5 stars Don't Be Fooled
I first read this piece of rubbish at a local library several years ago. It was purported to be the "real diary" of the notorious pirate Jean Laffite. But, several experts in handwriting and historical documents pronounced it a fake. (I too had examined the "real diary" first hand.) Back many years ago, John Laflin was passing himself off as a direct descendant of the "Terror of the Gulf" but it turns out he was a notorious forger. He forged this item and a handful of photographs as well. He managed to make a nice sum selling this trash. What's even more amusing is how Price Daniel Sr. the former governor and a collector of Texana was duped into buying this hoax. Now my dear reader, I just hope YOU won't be duped into buying this nonsense. ... Read more

11. Life on the Mississippi
by Mark Twain
list price: $39.95
our price: $39.95
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Asin: 1582182647
Catlog: Book (2000-12-01)
Publisher: Digital Scanning
Sales Rank: 1031242
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Book Description

This Tradepaper edition is a reprint of the 1st Canadian edition, "As Published in 1883" by Dawson Brothers of Montreal with 54 illustrations. A great gift for any Twain enthusiast. ... Read more

12. John Ireland and the American Catholic Church
by Marvin Richard O'Connell
list price: $34.95
our price: $34.95
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Asin: 0873512308
Catlog: Book (1988-11-01)
Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press
Sales Rank: 556462
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Book Description

John Ireland (1838-1918), first archbishop of St. Paul, believed that the United States offered a new and tremendously favorable opportunity for Roman Catholics and their church.By vigorously and single-mindedly urging his fellow Catholic immigrants to take their place in the mainstream of American life, he played a major role in the growth of the American Catholic church.

Marvin R. O'Connell's masterful biography brings to life the experiences that shaped Ireland's views and describes the battles that marked his career.In smooth and flowing prose, with rich detail and enlightening analysis, O'Connell traces Ireland's life, from his boyhood to his years as a powerful player in Vatican politics and an advisor to American presidents.

Ireland was one of the important and characteristic figures of the American Gilded Age, a man whose own rags-to-riches story followed classic lines.Born in Ireland in 1838, he saw as a boy the horrors of the Great Famine.In 1852 he and his family emigrated to St. Paul, Minnesota.Sent by pioneer Bishop Joseph Cretin to France for his education, Ireland became a priest in 1861.His work for temperance and Catholic colonization on Minnesota's western frontier gave him national prominence and launched him on a long and impressive career.

Ireland was an Americanist, one of a group of Catholic leaders who promoted the ideal of a truly American church.O'Connell's accounts of Ireland's hard-fought and often acrimonious battles present a lively portrait of a complicated man, with impressive strengths and surprising weaknesses.Ireland struggled to convince the Vatican that the American church was more than a collection of immigrant churches; he argued to his fellow clerics that immigrants could abandon Old World customs and languages without losing their faith; he encouraged Catholics to take advantage of the opportunities offered in America; and he strove to demonstrate to Protestant Americans that Catholics were not hopelessly foreign.

O'Connell also tells little-known stories of the archbishop's personal politics and finances.Ireland became wealthy through land speculation, but nearly lost all in the Panic of 1893.As a prominent and out-spoken Republican, he associated with William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft.

Though John Ireland was denied the ultimate accolade of a cardinal's hat, and though his colleagues on the episcopal bench were by no means unanimous in supporting him, his influence upon the development of American Catholicism was enormous.This forthright biography is a fascinating account of an important man. ... Read more

13. The Land Remembers: The Story of a Farm and Its People (Wisconsin)
by Ben Logan
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1559717181
Catlog: Book (1999-06-01)
Publisher: Creative Publishing International
Sales Rank: 272208
Average Customer Review: 4.83 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my all time favorites
This is one of those books I will always remember. My children were young when I read it and I felt that it contained many lessons on how to be a good parent. And all in the context of very enjoyable reading. The story about learning to use the horse drawn cultivator shows how a parents help their child develop self-confidence, which is something I see so many people lacking. I can't say enough good things about this gem of a book.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites!
This book is full of humor and spends wonderful time on how a farm is run, explaining the land, the chores, the wonder of living on a farm. Ben's antics with his brothers are delightful, and his account of his evenings with his family are memorable. I read this anytime I need a lift, and share its richness with anyone who will listen.

4-0 out of 5 stars A time capsule of growing up on a farm.
One room school house, the changing of the seasons and the farm chores for each one...a memior of one man's boyhood experiences. I liked this book and my husband liked it even more than I did. He was born and raised in rural WI, picking rocks, milking, and going sledding with his brothers. This book is well written and reads like a time capsule...the people & chores on a family farm. I would have given it a perfect 5 stars, but there is too much about bees. Less bee watching and the author would have a classic here. Great that his story goes full circle. We learn what happens to the people we've read and cared about...which is always gratifying to us readers.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hard to put the book down!
After finishing this book, I added Gays Mill, WI to my list of places to visit. I could hardly put the book down once I got into it. The stories that Logan tells are thought provoking...some brought tears to my eyes while others filled me with laughter. All will warm your heart! Having grown up on a farm, I could relate to the events that happened as Logan was going up. Although we are years apart in age, there are some aspects of growing up on a farm that all can relate to.

5-0 out of 5 stars For family reading
I read this book to my children when they were in grade school and recently read it again to my husband on a long trip. We felt at peace and surrounded by love as we read this book together. My children loved the adventures and laughed at the stories in many chapters, eagerly looking forward to the next night's reading. The ending is both painful and filled with hope. I highly recommend this as a read aloud book instead of watching television. ... Read more

14. Open Horizons (Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage Book Series)
by Sigurd F. Olson
list price: $15.95
our price: $15.95
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Asin: 0816630372
Catlog: Book (1998-09-01)
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
Sales Rank: 498677
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15. To Thank a River
by Jean Clausen
list price: $9.95
our price: $9.95
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Asin: 1878569376
Catlog: Book (1996-09-01)
Publisher: Badger Books (WI)
Sales Rank: 2747918
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16. Badger Bars & Tavern Tales: An Illustrated History of Wisconsin Saloons
by Bill Moen, Doug Davis
list price: $16.95
our price: $14.41
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Asin: 1930596200
Catlog: Book (2003-12)
Publisher: Guest Cottage Inc.
Sales Rank: 42668
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Book Description

Journey back to the days when neighborhood taverns were the social hubs of all small towns. Relive the days when wild revelry was the norm. Old newspaper articles and photos are highlighted throughout the book. Interviews with "old-timers" give a personal glimpse into the days when Wisconsin was wild. Taverns and towns throughout the state are featured. ... Read more

17. Little Giant: The Life and Times of Speaker Carl Albert
by Carl Albert
list price: $19.95
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Asin: 0806132000
Catlog: Book (1999-10-01)
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
Sales Rank: 1607220
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18. My Bloody Life: The Making of a Latin King
by Reymundo Sanchez
list price: $24.00
our price: $16.32
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1556524013
Catlog: Book (2000-07-01)
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Sales Rank: 243739
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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In My Bloody Life, Reymundo Sanchez tells a chillingly sad tale, from his birth in the back of a pickup truck in Puerto Rico to the day he quit the Latin Kings gang, 21 years later. From the first page, his narrative is unpretentious, disarmingly honest, and horrifyingly riveting. His early years were so full of pain and abuse that by the time he opts, at age 11, to hang out with the local gang, the Latin Kings, it seems a perfectly logical choice. In his shoes, any one of us--smacked nightly by a mother and beaten ragged whenever the stepfather got the chance--would likely have chosen the same path. The gang was the family that accepted him as well as the peer group that offered girls who didn't say "no." Any violence that went with the territory couldn't match the atmosphere of brutality that permeated his own home.

Sanchez was a Latin King for six years and participated in innumerable bloody gang battles--years rife with sex, drugs, booze, and acts of gang revenge. He finally got up his pluck to leave (and the only way was to be "violated" out through a gang beating), but admits in his conclusion that life since then has, in some ways, been even harder. He's had to quit drugs, lose the only community he's known, support himself, and deal with the nightmares of all the horrors he's seen and done. Though Sanchez still hasn't accomplished his dream of completing college, he has managed to leave the Kings, leave Chicago, leave behind his mother's legacy of violence, and write an impressive first book. --Stephanie Gold ... Read more

Reviews (54)

5-0 out of 5 stars MY LOVE FOR THIS BOOK

4-0 out of 5 stars Latin King tells all and tells it well
My Bloody Life is rather straightforward memoir about Sanchez's randomly brutal childhood and his subsequent violent career with the Latin Kings in Chicago. And a very violent career it was: bloodshed and drug addiction are the two major elements of the narrative. For all of that, this reader did not feel that the author was patronizing us or shocking us for its own sake: he is describing his world as he saw it, and he didn't live by Walden Pond. My Bloody Life does nothing to glamourize gang life, but it is apparent that the Latin Kings did provide Mr. Sanchez with the only community, the only family he has ever had. This adds a poignant note to an unsentimental memoir: it is only when the author is speaking of the gang that you feel he is connected to the world around him. The Latin Kings gave him a chance to be on the winning side of violence, for a while, instead of just being its clueless victim.

The prose is unadorned, the rhetorical tricks few, and the printing errors more frequent that I would wish, but I read this book with the sense that I was reading a life, and not just puffery or bathos. And that is what all memoirs are for. In addition, My Bloody Life tells us a great deal about one gang and one gangbanger, things that many of us do not understand very well, even if we see them everyday. Is this book worth reading? Most definitely.

5-0 out of 5 stars "loco"
I enjoyed the book, MY BOODY LIFE by Raymundo Sanchez. The main character Lil Loco is trying to find his place in life. He was a little boy growing up in Puerto Rico. Later he moved to Chicago. It was hard for him to live there because of his race. There was much discrimination. He was scared to be alone so he started to hang out with different gangs and gang members. They helped him out if he ever had any trouble with anyone. He found lots of friends including those in the Latin Kings.He later became one and had to deal with murder, drug addictions, sex, gang violations. He even dealt with killing some one he used to get along with. I recommend this book to anyone who would even think about joining a gang.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best book I have ever read!
WOW! I ABSOLUTLY HATE READING!!! I never read! But this book is incredible! I couldnt put the book down. Everything was so real. Kids get trapped into things like this everyday where I live and they dont even know what they are getting into. I highly recommend this book. Its easy to read, and its exciting and you just want to continue reading to see what happens next. I have just finished reading it and im about to start the second book by Reymundo Sanchez called "Once a King always a king" Deffinatly a great book!

5-0 out of 5 stars BEST book I EVER read!!!
Living in a neighborhood with Latin Kings, just like "Reymundo" I picked up the book and read it from reading the first page i was hooked. It took me about a month to read it, and enjoyed evry page of it! It's not like anything i ever read and was interesting because I could relate. VERY GOOD BOOK! ... Read more

19. The Immortal Class : Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power
list price: $19.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375504281
Catlog: Book (2001-03-20)
Publisher: Villard
Sales Rank: 478816
Average Customer Review: 3.68 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Travis Hugh Culley came to Chicago to work and live as an artist. He knew he'd have to strug-gle, but he found that his struggle meant more than hard work and a taste for poverty. In be-coming a bike messenger, he found a sense of community and fulfillment and a brotherhood of like-minded individualists. He rode like a postmodern cowboy across the city's landscape; he passed like a shadow through its soaring office towers; he soared like a falcon through the roaring chaos of the multilayered streets of Chicago. He became an invisible man in society, yet at the same time its most intimate observer. In one of the most dangerous jobs on dry land, he found freedom.

In The Immortal Class, Culley takes us in-side the heart and soul of an urban icon the bicycle messenger. In describing his own history and those of his peers, he evokes a classic American maverick, deeply woven into the fabric of society from the pits of squalor to the highest reaches of power and privilege yet always resolutely, exuberantly outside. And he celebrates a culture that eschews the motorized vehicle: the cult of human power.

The Immortal Class, Culley's vivid evocation of a bicycle messenger's experience and philosophy, sheds a compelling light on the way human beings relate to one another and to the cities we inhabit. Travis Hugh Culley's voice is at once earthy and soaringly poetic a Gen-X Tom Joad at hyperspeed. The Immortal Class is a unique personal and political narrative of a cyclist's life on the street.

... Read more

Reviews (53)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Speedy Career, An Urge To Improve Society
The tyranny of automobiles over our cities didn't have to be inevitable, and Travis Hugh Culley is out to make his city safe for bicycles. His lively book, _The Immortal Class: Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power_ is a combination memoir of his days as a bike messenger and a polemic against the tyranny of the automobile. Culley has an original voice, a poetic way of telling about his road adventures and the other bicyclists he encounters. He has more than his share of guts, and his book is a convincing examination of how to look at a problem from a different view, and how to make a difference.

A thwarted theater producer, he signed on to be a bike messenger in Chicago, a city he obviously loves and wants to care for. The descriptions of the career of bike messenger are the most vivid and enjoyable parts of the book. It is peppered throughout with radio jargon: "10-4, boss. I'm going to drop the bucket of Bucklin, grab a bouquet of Rosies, roll off the Fairbanks, and hit you on the outside of the Dentist." (Only some of the talk is translated; "the Dentist" is, for instance, the headquarters of the American Dental Association.) It is full of collisions which are rather beautifully and balletically described: "When my front wheel slipped out from beneath me, I fell forward, smacked the asphalt with my back, and began sliding in a straight line between the two cars. I could feel the white lines in the road skipping beneath my messenger bag, _thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump_..." After an accident, "Messengering bloody was kind of cool. Secretaries would offer me napkins and things to tell me that I needed to freshen the bandages... At first I couldn't distinguish sweat from blood, so I kept wiping everything with a blood-drenched hanky." Afterward he gets stitches at home from a medical resident, his girlfriend. Eating and drinking are altered for the messenger's exhausting routine; Howard Johnson's eggs, pancakes, and grits for breakfast, with snacks through the day of granola mixed with M&M's and dried fruit. "If I didn't eat at least three ounces by noon, I would be brain-dead by 1:30, slurring my words and overshooting my streets, stoned from depletion." I don't want to live this life, but it is a thrill to read about it.

Culley saves his harshest words for city and state governments that refuse to recognize bicyclists as road-users with road-privileges, for the police who break up his demonstrations, and for those of us who simply accept the automobile as the way it has to be. He is no longer a messenger; his injured knee eventually gave out, and he now commutes to his gallery job, by bicycle, to be sure. He is still active in advocacy for his dream transportation, and while his visions of a Chicago "covered with bike-only streets, quiet trains, and a patient, car-free delivery-based roadway" are overoptimistic, his idealism in placing bike messengers in the center of such a Chicago and thereby improving the streets, neighborhoods, atmosphere, and economies of the city he loves, is really rather sweet. He thinks there are plenty of good people out there who just don't know the alternative to SUV's and creeping commutes. They will if they read his entertaining book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Passion and polemics
Straight away, I'm a bicycle commuter, professionally committed to urban planning and development. I feel I have to say that because Culley presents a dual-personality book in "The Immortal Class;" part thrilling memoir, part divisive lecture.

At his best, Culley tells his story as a bike messenger in Chicago. The hard work, poverty, fraternity, exhiliration, desperation and freedom that all churn together into an energetic and passionate story. Here, Culley writes well and at times recalls Steinbeck themes of little man against the big system. Through this vibrancy, Culley commands the reader's sympathy.

However, Culley wastes much of this sympaythy by commanding, not just the attention of all you non-cyclists, but also your converted loyalty to his political vision. He's more likely to offend than persuade. It certainly fits Culley's personality and vigor, though. His diversions into urban history, city planning, and civics are very basic, and only succeed in taking away from the story he's telling. Only readers new to thinking about the way of cities will find his urban advice worthwhile.

If Culley had kept to the story of his experience, even brought out his political visions through a fictionalized first person account, Culley would have written a more complete book, an excellent book, and certainly a more influential book. As it is now though, too many readers will be shamed and soured by the last pages.

Still, many friends will be receiving this book from me, but just carefully chosen friends.

And for those who have never bicycled 35 mph (gravity aided) down Wisconsin Avenue, it really is like flying.

4-0 out of 5 stars Rookie Romanticism
This book exhudes rookiness from every page. Culley seems to be the typical newbie messenger, overly impressed with himself and hyper-romanticizing the profession.

Still the book is pretty good. His view of cities and history is realistic, and the description of the courier offices and the seemy side of the business is spot on.


1-0 out of 5 stars The accolades are not deserved
Culley's topic and his passion for it appeal to those who resist the road dominance of the infernal combustion engine, but I cannot recommend his book. The writing, and the thinking behind the writing, are sloppy and adolescent. Melodrama and
self-aggrandizement abound. You suspect this from the start, with a glance at the title ("immortal" class?) and at the smarmy photos of the author on the jacket. After a few pages your suspicions are confirmed. Consider these examples:

1. "[The bicycle] is a philosophy, a way of life, and I am using it like a hammer to change the world and to redeem our war-torn cities."

2. "Cadence for cash and Money for miles -- these are the mantras of many a struggling genius."

3. "I began to feel that I was floating, softly looking down upon the city ... from this godlike view, all of my motion seemed effortless ... By the time I could envision a destination I would arrive there as if by magic. I would appear rested, and yet behind me would be the distant reflection of what I had just encountered and just overcome."

4. "Then unexpectedly, like a possessed man, channeling from the world of the dead, I spoke: 'Life sucks, but work is really cool.' ... I woke the next morning to don the armor again."

5. "You begin to see yourself as different, exempt from the so-called universal laws of life and death. This heightened feeling gives the messenger a confidence, a speed, and an agility of almost metaphysical proportions."

6. "I can do anything ... there is a certain space around me, like a force field ... I am untouchable, and everyone knows it. It is a matter of respect. Moving at the speed of commerce, shoveling through all the scales of mankind at once, saving the world all day long, I require at least that much respect."

7. "[T]he phone rang. It was Julie, a dancer and choreographer who was also my girlfriend *at the time*. (I seem to have girlfriends only *at times*. I am not sure why, but for me, love never seems to stick.)

8. "I hopped over the gray countertop, hoisted my bike onto my shoulder with a 'By this, ye shall conquer' kind of valor, and clamored out the front door, fully prepared, once again, to make my contribution to the world."

Such self-indulgence fills the book. Culley's chapters about getting doored and finding his way into messengering descend further into annoying self-study. Descriptions of burning through intersections are meant to impress, but they invite derision. Melodramatic passages about Critical Mass do not ring true. The pseudo-impressionism of the section about Jon Boub reduces both credibility and clarity.

Culley wants to reveal himself and fellow bike messengers in full complex humanity, but his over-the-top rhetoric miscarries him. In Culley's view, messengers (and cyclists in general) are fundamentally different from drivers. Such a view is misguided. Many drivers are also cyclists, and most cyclists are also drivers. Your attitude and patience will vary depending on which kind of vehicle (car or bike) you happen to be using. That's a crucial point and Culley misses it.

Bike messengers, and cyclists generally, need a book that depicts their on-the-road experience with accuracy and balance -- and that tells the story in a way that may really help non-cycling motorists understand. This book isn't it.

I admire Culley's energy and enthusiasm, and do not doubt his sincerity of purpose, but I can't give this book more than a single star.

5-0 out of 5 stars Completely awesome
I really liked this book. The author shows considerable skill in manipulating the rhythm of the English language to suit his subject. I have bought copies of this book for my friends, and have read it two times, working on my third.

Some people doubt Travis's sincerity, thinking he sees himself as God or something. That's totally not the case. He claims only one day in the spotlight as having delivered the most packages, for example -- (...) ... Read more

20. Horse of a Different Color: Reminiscences of a Kansas Drover
by Ralph Moody
list price: $12.95
our price: $9.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0803282176
Catlog: Book (1994-09-01)
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Sales Rank: 29621
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Ralph Moody
When I was a child I read Little Britches, Man of The Family, and Horse of a Different Color. These books/stories are timeless. Any parent who wants to give a good example to a child about resposibility should obtain these.

5-0 out of 5 stars Vivid history in a home-spun style that leaves you smiling.
Ralph Moody again weaves an artful picture of true life in the real world of the early twentieth century. His easy going style and colorful portrayal of each character give a real livng account of day to day life with a constant optimism that many of us miss in our cynical world. A great read aloud family book aong with the rest in the series. Moody gives character qualities that are rarely found in the novels of today and are much needed especially for todays young men.

Put this one on your 10 - 14 year old's reading list but don't forget to read it along with them. ... Read more

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