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181. A Man Of Faith : The Spiritual
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182. Running in the Family (Vintage
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183. Christopher Columbus (Step-Into-Reading,
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184. The Passions of Andrew Jackson
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185. With Malice Toward None : Life
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186. Freud: Darkness in the Midst of
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187. I Have a Dream: The Story of Martin
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188. Diarios En Motocicleta (Movie
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189. Ronald Reagan: The Power of Conviction
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190. Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where
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191. Nietzsche : The Man and his Philosophy
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192. Jefferson and the Ordeal of Liberty
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193. God and Ronald Reagan : A Spiritual
194. Marilyn, a biography
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195. Last Train to Memphis : The Rise
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196. A Beautiful Mind: The Life of
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197. Marie Antoinette : The Journey
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198. Companero : The Life and Death
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199. The Boys of Pointe du Hoc : Ronald
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200. Gods and Generals : The Paintings

181. A Man Of Faith : The Spiritual Journey of George W. Bush
by David Aikman, George W. Bush
list price: $21.99
our price: $14.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0849918111
Catlog: Book (2004-04-14)
Publisher: W Publishing Group
Sales Rank: 3793
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

More than any other world leader in recent times, George W. Bush is a man of faith…a conservative Christian who has brought the power of prayer and the search for God’s will into the Oval Office. His faith has proven to be a bedrock of strength and resolve during two of the most tumultuous years in our nation’s history.According to Newsweek magazine, “this presidency is the most resolutely faith based in modern times. An enterprise founded, supported and guided by trust in the temporal and spiritual power of God.”David Aikman, skilled journalist and former senior correspondent for TIME magazine, pens this dramatic and gripping account of Bush’s journey to faith. Based on interviews and behind-the-scenes stories, you’ll learn how…

· His life changed after a conversation with Billy Graham on the beach at Kennebunkport

· He walked away from alcoholism toward a new destiny

· The events following 9/11 caused many to view him as God’s chosen man for this critical time in history

· His decision to go to war with Iraq became the ultimate test of his faith

A Man of Faith…an intimate look at how Bush’s spiritual life has impacted his presidency, the nation, and the world.

... Read more

Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars Revealing Story of Our 43rd President
Aikman has written an excellent book on George Bush's Christian faith - how he became a Christian, and how Christianity has positively impacted his life.

Indeed, while the president is a very polarizing figure (much like Clinton), one would have a hard time arguing the sincerity of his faith. Unfortunately, some people like the reviewer from Philadelphia have taken it upon themselves to judge whether George W is going to heaven or hell. Why can't they just stop judging and admit they don't like the man? While I do not agree with everything he has said and done, I cannot doubt the sincerity of his faith and the transformation he has experienced over the years.

Also to the reviewer from Philadelphia - please be very careful about quoting Scripture out of context:

1. Many people in the Bible were finanically well off - Abraham, Job, Matthew, Isaiah, David, Solomon, Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, etc. Yet God did not condemn them because of their riches.
2. Jesus rejected the power the Jews offered Him because they offered power apart from God's will. Over thousands of years God has elevated people to positions of power. Power in and of itself is not bad, it's what we do with it that counts! God will raise and lower those whom He pleases.

Among the areas of George W.'s life covered in the book are:

1. Early childhood, teenage, and college years at Yale and why he was turned off by the liberalism displayed on college campuses.
2. The strong marriage he has enjoyed with his wife Laura.
3. Active involvement in church over the years and how he has ministered to the less fortunate.
4. How he has cooperated with people of other denominations (although a Methodist, he has worked with Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcoplians, Pentacostals, and Catholics) and faiths (Jews, Muslims, etc.) over the years.
5. Close relationships he has enjoyed with ministers of different ethnic and denominational backgrounds (and who says conservatives can't work with others?) despite having differences of opinion on particular issues.
6. His involvement in politics (from working on his father's campaign to becoming governor and eventually president).
7. The uniques challenges he has faced as president (911, numerous UN Resolutions, faith-based iniatives, tax rebates, etc.).

I appreciated the author's sincerity in covering all aspects of George W.'s life - good and bad. Aikman does not gloss over Bush's struggles with the bottle, smoking, and foul language. Yet the author also quotes several sources close to the president who have seen great improvements in these areas over the years - yet another testimony to the power of the transforming grace of Jesus Christ working in and through a person's life!

Read, enjoy, and be encouraged by the faith of our 43rd president and do not concern yourself with those who wish to tear him down at all costs!

4-0 out of 5 stars Who has actually read this book?
There are some reviews here that appear to be written by those who plainly dislike Pres. Bush but did not read this book. I feel sorry for them, as this is a wonderful book going into the life and development of Bush as our President. The reviewer from New York, the non-Christian, appears to have little grasp on what Christianity is. The other from Crawford must assume that all church services are on Sundays. As many Baptist will say, church is not merely a place to worship. It is the culmination of worship and study. Aikman shows how Mr. Bush changed from a rambunctious young man into a respectable, admirable leader. He has his faults and makes no qualms against them. Aikman, an outsider to the family, took anecdotes and lessons from Mr. Bush's life through colleagues, friends and family. What you have here is the embodiment of those interviews. No, Mr. Bush has not been faultless in his Presidency, as no President ever has been faultless. (Clinton was a far-cry from faultless...the sworn liar.) But he has shown time and time again that he has a sincere heart to love and a God-driven will to serve the people for the betterment of the world. He earned more respect from me through this book, after reading of the years where he was not the most well-mannered or appropriately behaving person. However, he had a need to save himelf from his own destruction, and he chose God as the one to lead him out of his perils. He has followed God and Christ since those days and become an example of a renewed Christian. What could be a better testament to his life and his family than this book? Read it, whether you do not agree with his politics or not. I don't claim that it will change your political opinion of him, but I know it will give you more insight on why he does certain things or speak in certain ways. Just have an open mind when you begin this book. If anything, you will learn how he could easily have been one of your friends from your hometown, college or workplace. Give this book a try. Don't discount it automatically and ignorantly. David Aikman does a wonderful job in telling a story you may enjoy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Insightful look into the faith of George W. Bush
Former Time correspondent David Aikman explores the faith and spiritual journey of President George W. Bush, who presides over one of the most faith based administrations in American history. Aikman launches the book with the "political bombshell" of then Governor Bush answering a question during a debate, "What political philosopher do you most identify with and why?" with the response, "Christ, because he changed my heart." In the chapters that follow, we learn of Bush's roots, beginning with his great-great-great grandfather Obadiah Bush all the way down to his father George H.W. Bush. We learn of his childhood, adolescence, college days, military service, marriage to Laura -which began his switch to Methodism after years of attending a Presbyterian church-, and his years as a businessman and owner of the Rangers. Aikman reveals how Bush's faith gradually began to take on a greater role in his life as we are introduced to many of the mentors who guided the future president, including Billy Graham and James Robison. Perhaps I read this book from a different perspective than most; I am a religious Jew. For a community that has historically tended to vote Democrat, significant numbers of American Jews are increasingly voting for conservative candidates. This can be attributed to many factors, including, the long overdue realization that liberalism is intrinsically opposed to traditional authentic Jewish values which are more accurately reflected by conservatism, coupled with the moral confusion and moral-relativism characterizing so much of the Left and the Democratic Party. That many Jews are becoming staunch Bush supporters becomes all the more understandable after reading David Aikman's A Man of Faith, where the reader learns, in chapter seven, of Bush's deep affinity for the land of Israel and the Jewish people, not to mention his personal friendship with Ariel Sharon. When Bush told the American Jewish Committee only months into his presidency, "A top foreign policy priority of my administration is the safety and security of Israel," this wasn't mere rhetoric. As Aikman chronicles, Bush is perhaps the greatest friend Israel has ever had in a United States president. Aikman writes, "Jewish leaders have also come away from meetings with George W. almost enraptured by the sense of commitment to the defense of Israel and the protection of Jews worldwide that George W. has often conveyed." In this chapter we also read of a rabbi who told Bush, "Mr. President, I didn't vote for you, but if you had been president in 1938, I now think the Holocaust might not have happened." When I read that first time around, I literally had chills, for I am one Jew, and a grandson of Holocaust survivors, who fully shares these sentiments of deep gratitude to our commander-in-chief. As this book discusses in great length, it is Bush's unabashed faith as a devout Methodist which animates his moral compass, his determination to actively identify and confront evil, and his resolve to uphold the traditional Judeo-Christian values that make America great- and which are currently being jeopardized on many fronts. G-d bless America, the president, and our troops!

5-0 out of 5 stars Great overall biography!
I have finished the first half of the book and am amazed at what I did not know about George and Laura and the Senior Bushes. It really is very encouraging to see how W's faith grew through the years.

God has been pleased to grant our nation Christian leadership at this critical turning point in our history, and I can only say "Praise God from whom all blessings flow". I am in prayer for our nation every day!

5-0 out of 5 stars A minister to the nations
I have read several books about the Bushes -- and specifically about George W. Bush. The author is a good writer, writing fairly from both sides of the issue, and portrays a man who has had to deal with personal failure, like we all do. Our nation was established by Christian principles, and it is by Christian principles we are still a nation. As our society continues to slide into darkness, we will be held responsible for not living for God. GWB is committed to the principles for which this nation was begun, and I felt the writer beautifully scripted the tapestry of providential destiny for a man named, George W. Bush. ... Read more


182. Running in the Family (Vintage International)
by MICHAEL ONDAATJE
list price: $12.00
our price: $9.00
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Asin: 0679746692
Catlog: Book (1993-11-30)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 21893
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

2 cassettes / 3 hours
Read by Michael Ondaatje

"Michael Ondaatje is here at his agile and evocative best . . . Brightly colored, sweet and painful, bloody-midned and otherworldly, [Running in the Family] achieves the status of legend."
-Margaret Atwood

In the late 1970s, Michael Ondaatje returned to his native island of Sri Lanka.Recording his journey through he druglike heat and intoxicating fragrances of the "pendant off the ear of India", Ondaatje simultaneously retraces the baroque mythology of his Dutch-Ceylonese family.It is a story of broken engagements and drunken suicide attempts, of parties where exquisitely dressed couples tango in the jungle, a tale whose actors pursue lives of Baudelairean excess with impeccable decorum.

Lyrical and witty, tragic and deliriously romantic, Running in the family is an inspired marriage of travel narrative andfamily memoir by one of our most eloquent and poetic writers.
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Reviews (27)

5-0 out of 5 stars magical realist sensual family saga
Running in the Family is a wonderful autobiography, in the magical-realist, crazy-family-saga vein of Garcia-Marquez or Rushdie. It's funny, poetic, sensual, moving and strongly evocative of Sri Lanka, the author's eccentric family, and the sultry damp tropical greenness. It took me until the middle of the book to really get into it, but then i couldn't stop, and i had to re-read the beginning again; there's something about the events and the time-cycle he's describing that throws you right into the middle of things at the beginning, and becomes more understandable and linear from the middle of the book onwards. But it's well worth any initial confusion, and if you loved the English Patient, this book is a must

5-0 out of 5 stars For Those Who did not love "Anil's Ghost"
No author can make every book work. It's unfair to expect that. This is the first Ondaajate book I read, make that: devoured. I loved the non-linearity, the depth of love for his home country, the characters gathering and separating. I write this review because I believe strongly that Anil's Ghost is the companion piece to "Running in the Family" and less well-done, less artful. But this book more than makes up for the flaws in the later book. Perhaps the kleig lights of fame are too hot for a writer to work at his best. I say that because the author of this book is so gifted and has so much to evoke that I expect he will do so again, maybe not in his beloved, insane Sri Lanka, or maybe back there again. So, in closing, If you despaired of loving "Anil's Ghost" read this and you're efforts will be fully redeemed.

4-0 out of 5 stars Pictures of yesterday
Considering that this is in fact an autobiograpy, one can not judge it's contents. After all, you can not judge ones life, either you like it or not in a sense of discussing literature. But, what you can discuss is the manner in which that biography is written. Ondaatje present's life of his family trough generations who lived on Ceilon (Shri Lanka), in a series of random images, which are more like picture, than prose. Many times he stops to grasp certain individual and present his little history, his life, which than influenced the rest of the family in some perverse way. When reading this book, experienced reader will find such compositions that corresponds in that what crtics call 'modern', others will find interesting and compelling story, which never grows in boredom, with fluent narrative style that keeps ones eyes fixed on pages long after the lights went out.
Comparing the Ondaatje with other authors of the modern world,
Ondaatje lacks the one thing that he "must" have when presenting himself in a way he does. By focusing himself merely on a problems of his own, of a personal character in every (which, of course, includes this one)book, he voluntarily forgets that there is other life, other world going around him. When tending to write intelectual prose, one should, at least in one way, give some focus on that matter too.
But, when all this comes to conclusion, if you like (auto)biograhies - buy this one, if you don't, skip it. It's simple as that...

5-0 out of 5 stars delicious
both the style and the subject of this novel are easy and enjoyable to absorb. mostly a memoir including some letters and poems. it has a great sense of humor and is full of passionate, and most importantly interesting accounts of the definatly NOT run of the mill family history Ondaatje has.

5-0 out of 5 stars What a family!
This book was just so enjoyable and hilarious but yet so beautifully written. From the beginning till the end Ondaatje opens up to the reader (in a journal entry) this magical and beautiful world. Onddatje's adroitness to include the reader right there in the conversations he has with various family member will bring you to tears. His captivating sytle takes the reader back in time with him trhough such tear jerking and amusing experiences.

This memoir will give you a deatiled verbalization of each city and place in Ceylon, so that the reader has a clear picture of what it was like to actually be there. His simple structure of setting things up, will make you feel the temperature and jungle like atmosphere by his entailed descriptions.

Ondaatje reminds me of Stein in certain passages because of how he holds nothing back from the reader. It's as though he's sitting down and talking to you while showing photographs and stories of his exuberant and loud family. ... Read more


183. Christopher Columbus (Step-Into-Reading, Step 3)
by STEPHEN KRENSKY
list price: $3.99
our price: $3.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679803696
Catlog: Book
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Sales Rank: 189176
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Illus. in full color. Youngsters can celebrate the 500th anniversary of

Columbus's fateful voyage with this dramatic, easy-to-read account of a pivotal

moment in American history. "Enlivened by attractive full-color artwork,

including maps and a cutaway view of the ship, the straightforward account is a

good choice at this reading level."--Booklist.




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Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Starter Book For Learning About Columbus.
Hi!:) This book is nice and informative without being too long and boring. It will most likely appeal to children around 5 or 6 through about 9 or 10. After that, they may want to read another, more in depth biography about this remarkable and fearless sailor and explorer.
The illustrations are realistic and well done.
I, as a parent, felt that the ending was a bit weak, but children will certainly gain a better understanding and clearer picture of the explorer, and his sacrifices, upon reading this book. Wording is simple and uncomplicated. A step 2 book.
Good information, good book!~ ... Read more


184. The Passions of Andrew Jackson
by ANDREW BURSTEIN
list price: $25.00
our price: $16.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375414282
Catlog: Book (2003-02-04)
Publisher: Knopf
Sales Rank: 124318
Average Customer Review: 2.29 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

What transformed a frontier bully into the seventh president of the United States? A southerner obsessed with personal honor who threatened his enemies with duels to the death, a passionate man who fled to Spanish Mississippi with the love of his life before she was divorced, Andrew Jackson of Tennessee left a vast personal correspondence detailing his stormy relationship with the world of early America. He helped shape the American personality, yet he remains largely unknown to most modern readers. Now historian Andrew Burstein (The Inner Jefferson, America’s Jubilee) brings back Jackson with all his audacity and hot-tempered rhetoric.

Most people vaguely imagine Andrew Jackson as a jaunty warrior and man of the people, when he was much more: a power monger whom voters thought they could not do without—a man just as complex
and controversial as Jefferson or Lincoln. Declared a national hero upon his stunning victory over the British at the 1815 Battle of New Orleans, this uncompromising soldier capitalized on his fame and found the presidency within his grasp.

Yet Burstein shows that Jackson had conceived no political direction for the country. He was virtually uneducated, having grown up in a backwoods settlement in the Carolinas. His ambition to acquire wealth and achieve prominence was matched only by his confidence that he alone could restore virtue to American politics. As the “people’s choice,” this model of masculine bravado—tall, gaunt, and sickly through-out his career—persevered. He lost the election of 1824 on a technicality, owing to the manipulations of
Henry Clay. Jackson partisans ran him again, with a vengeance, so that he became, from 1829 to 1837, a president bent on shaping the country to his will. Over two terms, he secured a reputation for opposing the class of moneyed men. To his outspoken critics, he was an elected tyrant.

Burstein gives us our first major reevaluation of Jackson’s life in a generation. Unlike the extant biographies, Burstein’s examines Jackson’s close relationships, discovering how the candidate advanced his political chances through a network of army friends—some famous, like Sam Houston, who became a hero himself; others, equally important, who have been lost to history until now. Yet due to his famous temper, Jackson ultimately lost his closest confidants to the opposition party.

The Passions of Andrew Jackson includes a fresh interpretation of Jackson’s role in the Aaron Burr conspiracy and offers a more intimate view of the backcountry conditions and political setting that shaped the Tennessean’s controversial understanding of democracy. This is the dynamic story of a larger-than-life American brought down to his authentic earthiness and thoughtfully demythologized. In a provocative conclusion, Burstein relates Jackson to the presidents with whom he was and still is often compared, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
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Reviews (7)

2-0 out of 5 stars A Lazy Treatise
Burstein seems to have been in a hurry to write this uninvolved book about a complex historical figure. His style is entertaining but he never delves into what Jackson DOES! I rather accept some of the assessments about Jackson's character as so totally self-centered that he couldn't keep a friend, take advice, or even adhere to the constitution, but I'd have liked to see more actual evidence put forth. Jackson's actual participation in the events he directed, caused, or undermined are completely skipped and replaced with a single opinionated point of view (which may well be accurate, but I'd rather form those conclusions myself).

I particularly dislike his arrangement of notes and the lack of a structured list of references. This (lately popular) method of substantiating the facts (or even opinions) in non-fiction books is an insidious attempt to thwart verification. I spent more time recording by hand the references I wished to check than I did actually reading the book. Why not list them in the conventional manner? It makes me suspect, especially when Remini is so cavaliarly dismissed.

Andrew Burstein is an entertaining writer, but this work is just too sloppy to be taken as a serious study of a complicated topic.

3-0 out of 5 stars A dispassionate "Passions."
While reading this book, I didn't feel the author was particularly motivated to create a negative protrait of Jackson. By utilizing Jackson's own writing Burstein examines Jackson as he presented himself to others. This Jackson seems to be a man motivated by his belief that he was right in all things that mattered and if you disagreed you were disloyal. These are probably not uncommon traits for a president who was exceptionally popular, but played fast and loose with the U.S. Constitution and the will of the other branches of government.
That being said by focussing on Jackson's relationships with various individulas in his life, I felt I was not getting a complete portrait. Why was this man so revered by the people and what motivated his his various decisions? I feel this book gave me a starting point in understanding Jackson, a president who I feel abused his position like few others, but there seems to be more of a story here and THE PASSIONS OF ANDREW JACKSON seems to raise as many questions as it answers.

3-0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but disappointing
First and foremost, THE PASSIONS OF ANDREW JACKSON is compelling. This short book moves along at a quick pace. While the early life stories of some historic figures are dull necessities in larger biographies, Jackson's early life is the action-packed focus of this biography. The story of Andrew Jackson is a story of violence, sex scandal and adventure. Author Andrew Burstein does a good job of maximizing the drama of the story, and I enjoyed reading it very much.

Yet, while on the whole, THE PASSIONS OF ANDREW JACKSON is an enjoyable book, it also contains a major disappointment: Burstein's treatment of Jackson's presidency. Burstein set out to write a book about Jackson's character with an emphasis on exploring his friendships. He explicitly did not intend to chronicle Jackson's presidency, so his brief treatment of that part of Jackson's life was not especially surprising. It was, however, disappointing for a number of reasons.

To begin with, Burstein hurls the gauntlet in his introduction at other Jackson biographers, especially "the reigning Jackson authority," Robert Remini. His basic criticism of Remini, who wrote a three-volume biography of Jackson, is that Remini bought into Jacksonian mythology a bit too much. By contrast, Burstein sets as his goal writing about Jackson as he really was. I found the assault on Remini to be odd and out of place. Remini's last volume was published in 1984, so I'm not sure why Burstein felt the need to justify writing a new book. More importantly, by contrasting his own book with Remini's, Burstein suggests a parallelism that doesn't really exist. THE PASSIONS OF ANDREW JACKSON is much more limited in scope than Remini's work. Its focus is almost exclusively on who Jackson was rather than what he did.

Burstein falls short in not explaining enough what Jackson did. He assumes the reader's familiarity with the Jackson record and policy-making style. He alludes to important events associated with Jackson, such as the tragic "trail of tears," without fully explaining Jackson's role. Burstein probably could have done the job with an additional 20 pages, but it almost seems that the author lost interest in his own work at the point Jackson became president. The overall quality of the story degenerates after that. Burstein made his point already, the rest of Jackson's life is glossed over. The final several pages of reflective, explanatory writing seems almost redundant, which is a problem in a short book.

What is Burstein's point? It seems to be that Jackson was an impulsive, violent, unreflective man whose popularity was out of sync with his aptitudes for governing. His success at arousing emotional public support for short-sighted policies was the dark side of democracy. Beyond that, Burstein seems to very subtly be drawing a comparison between Jacksonian era politics and the politics of today, but this point is not developed probably because Burstein wanted his book to last. But by including this implied, under-developed comparison at all he fails to develop other implications, such as the idea that the early founders' elitist republicanism may have been a superior form of governance (another of Burstein's implications). In the end Burstein's only conclusions that stick are about Jackson's character, and not how any of this means anything larger.

The most disappointing aspect of THE PASSIONS OF ANDREW JACKSON is that there hasn't been a well-known popular Jackson biography published for several years. Jackson was too important a figure for "the reigning authority" to keep his crown for 20 years without a new contribution. As enjoyable as THE PASSIONS OF ANDREW JACKSON is, if Remini holds the title, Burstein does not quite pose a threat to win it.

1-0 out of 5 stars One-sided and unconvincing
I found this book to be unabashedly one-sided and unconvincing. Instead of being more objective about the life and character of our seventh president than other historians, as Burstein claims, it is obvious to even a casual reader that he is determined to emphasize Jackson's flaws at the expense of his accomplishments. He will go on for paragraph after paragraph and page after page about anything detrimental to Old Hickory, but when he absolutely cannot avoid making a positive statement, he manages to do so as briefly as possible. For example, he covers many pages describing the murky details of the young Andy's relationship with his future wife Rachel Donelson Robards, some of them cogent and convincing. There is no way, however, that he can avoid mentioning that their love was true and endured for all the years of their marriage, but he manages to do so in one or two sentences, omitting the many examples he might have given that prove Jackson's devotion to his wife. I suspect that the author believes that a controversial and revisionist biography, loaded with unsubstantiated psychological interpretations, will sell books.

1-0 out of 5 stars Fails in its stated mission, suceeds in its unstated
The conclusions reached (repeatedly) by Burstein seem to rely more upon his "instincts" than his analytical skills. Cultural historians are too often criticized for "teasing out" meaning from texts and the cause of that is in a book like this. Interpreting or "reading" texts from the 19th century is often eschewed for what seems to be "mind reading" and conclusion jumping on the slightest of pretexts. Burstein *assumes* influences (as another reviewer provided an excellent example, I will not) and often motives where there is no clear evidence that any such things were important to Jackson himself!
What appeared to be a corrective to the plentiful hagiographies is instead a book that looks to be more aimed at creating attention for Mr. Burstein. Too bad, Andrew Jackson has had a long career as an American icon and a good critical evaluation of the man and the phenomenon is overdue. This book seems to be hostile for hostility's sake which provides no new insights at all. ... Read more


185. With Malice Toward None : Life of Abraham Lincoln, The
by Stephen B. Oates
list price: $17.00
our price: $11.56
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060924713
Catlog: Book (1994-01-05)
Publisher: Perennial
Sales Rank: 16077
Average Customer Review: 4.63 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Someone once said that more books have been written about Abraham Lincoln than any other person in history save Jesus and Shakespeare. Indeed, it is impossible to understand the Civil War without getting to know the complex figure of the 16th president. More than any other biographer, Stephen B. Oates brings the plain-talking man from Illinois to life as a canny politician, a doting husband, and a determined wartime leader. Oates has an appealing appreciation for Lincoln's majestic control of the English language, his raw humor, and his undeniable heroism. The final pages, covering Lincoln's death and his legacy, are graceful and moving. ... Read more

Reviews (30)

3-0 out of 5 stars A "70s" Lincoln, Not The Right One.
Oates' biography, though very readable and quite good on Lincoln's personal tragedies, is far from a persuasive or fair portrait. Oates advertises his 1970s New England liberalism by painting Lincoln as all but wanting to be an abolitionist and egalitarian, but darn those dang border states and that Constitution tying his hands! Such authors have stretched long chapters around a few tidbits like Lincoln's one-time public favor of limited black suffrage and very little more. Lincoln was more of a moderate realist for reasons of his own view on the desireable pace of national reform, and not simply because of external factors. He was neither a Radical Republican restrained by the Constitution, or a conservative wishing to maintain the status quo. Before this book, Lincoln biographers dragged him too far right, and Oates overcompensated, dragging him too far the other way. David Donald's LINCOLN is far superior.

5-0 out of 5 stars Most readable book ever written on Lincoln
IMO, this is "the" biography of Abraham Lincoln. While I consider David H. Donald's bio of Lincoln to be slightly more sophisticated and detailed, Stephen Oates' bio of Lincoln is the most enjoyable and interesting to read. Prof. Oates has a smooth writing style that tackles complex issues and makes them easy to understand. He never gets bogged down in boring, hard-to-understand statistics or details.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the 3 Best 1 Volume Biographies About Lincoln
I have been studying Abraham Lincoln for nearly 40 years. Many Lincoln scholars consider WITH MALICE TOWARD NONE by Stephen B. Oates one of three BEST one-volume biographies of Abraham Lincoln ever written to date. The other two are LINCOLN by David Herbert Donald and ABRAHAM LINCOLN: A BIOGRAPHY by Benjamin P. Thomas.

4-0 out of 5 stars An excellent biography of an incredibly complex man.
"With Malice Towards None" is a very creditable work and a fine attempt to explain the author's view of Abraham Lincoln. Oates views Lincoln as a genuinely good man, highly ambitious, self-made, and first and foremost: a politician. Like all politicians who are heads of state, Lincoln had to grapple with the issues of his day. In his day, however, the issues were unusually intractable, difficult, and complex, such that the nation was unable to solve them through established institutions. It took an actual Civil War to decide whether slavery in America must go, whether America is first and foremost a union of united States, or whether it was a Union of essentially sovereign single states. These were and are great issues, and the greatness of Lincoln is that he stood in the center of these issues, spent his entire presidency grappling with them, and ultimately, it was his unswerving leadership, not perfect but great, that ultimately led America to resolution of these issues.

Oates shows us that Lincoln was a politician. He wheedled, compromised, and was carried by great events as often as he shaped them. This does nothing to take away from the man who, along with Washington, ranks as doubtless one of our two greatest presidents. While opposing slavery, Lincoln was ready to compromise with it, at least sometimes to some extent. Oates does a good job of explaining this in a non-revisionist way that shows respect to Lincoln and to history.

Oates' writing is clear, and his research thorough. This is not a perfect book in that it is not a complete view of Lincoln. No 400 or so page book about this complicated man could achieve that. On the other hand, Oates portrays Lincoln brilliantly, and with insight, as a gifted leader and politician in an incredibly difficult time.

I would have enjoyed more discussion of some of Lincoln's more extreme actions, his bending (some would say breaking) of the Constitution, and the extremes to which he went to achieve ultimate military victory for the North. Oates does touch on this, but more would have been welcome.

An excellent book about a difficult and complex subject. Recommended.

3-0 out of 5 stars A decent portrayal of Lincoln, but not a great one
Abraham Lincoln is one of the most written-about men in history. There are scores of biographies, profiles, analyses, everything to do with this great man. Because of this, it is difficult to find a good, comprehensive work that details his life adequately and faithfully. In this book, Stephen B. Oates gives a good representation of Lincoln, giving a pretty good account of his life and not trying to raise the man to deity (as others have done). Despite this, however, there are several flaws in this book that make it only of average quality.

Oates commits what I consider to be the unpardonable sin in biography--he attempts to get inside Lincoln's head. One of the necessary qualities of a good biographer is that he or she should not try to psychoanalyze the subject, should not assume he knows what was going on inside the subject's head, and should certainly not embellish the account with a bunch of supposed conversations and feelings which are more the fabrication of the author than the feelings of the subject. Oates breaks all of these rules.

The most annoying thing about the book is that Oates will paraphrase what he thinks Lincoln said. He may give a short quotation, but then he closes the quote and proceeds to adlib what he assumes Lincoln would say, speaking in the first person as though he were the President himself. He uses the pronoun 'I' in his own narrative, when he should be using 'he.' If you can get over Oates pretending to speak for Lincoln himself throughout most of the book, the rest of the account is pretty decent. But I had a hard time getting past that.

For a 400 or so page biography, this book covers the subject moderately well, though not excellently. Many men, such as Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, or Admiral Farragut, are barely mentioned, as if Lincoln had nothing to do with them at all. It would have added greatly to the account to have a more detailed description of the Civil War, and about Lincoln's counterparts in the South (such as Davis). Still, this is a pretty good book, though far from definitive in any way. With the mountains of work available on this great man, there's got to be something better out there. ... Read more


186. Freud: Darkness in the Midst of Vision--An Analytical Biography
by LouisBreger
list price: $30.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0471316288
Catlog: Book (2000-09-08)
Publisher: Wiley
Sales Rank: 561096
Average Customer Review: 4.13 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Advance Praise for Louis Breger’s FREUD

"Louis Breger’s rich and readable study of Freud offers a thoughtfully complex account of a great but flawed man. Everyone with an interest in psychoanalysis and the psychoanalytic movement will enjoy exploring, grappling with, arguing about, and learning from this absolutely fascinating book."—JUDITH VIORST, AUTHOR,

Necessary Losses and Imperfect Control "Written with brilliance and insight, Freud: Darkness in the Midst of Vision takes us on a daring, at times chilling, journey to the early years of psychoanalysis, revealing both the human weaknesses and the professional triumphs of its founder. . . . Cutting away the accretions of fabrication and romance cloaking Sigmund Freud, Breger has reinstated historical honesty to its rightful, high place, but the figure who emerges at the end of this breathlessly honest biography is quite as extraordinary as the legend concocted by Freud and perpetuated by his followers. Fresh, vigorous, and lucid."—PHILIP M. BROMBERG, Ph.D., CLINICAL PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY

"Louis Breger’s fine new biography of Freud is a welcome contribution to the existing literature and a corrective to much of it. It is also one of the best intellectual histories of the origin and development of psychoanalysis I have read in recent years. Breger is to be commended for his original research, the objectivity of his views, and the elegance and grace of his writing."—DEIRDRE BAIR, NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER FOR Samuel Beckett AND AUTHOR OF A FORTHCOMING BIOGRAPHY OF CARL JUNG

"Finally, the Freud biography we have long been waiting for. With the history of Europe in the background, we follow with fascination Freud’s journey from an impoverished childhood filled with losses to worldly fame, ending in exile in England. We come to understand the impact of Freud’s difficult personality on the development of his brilliant as well as questionable theoretical ideas. Breger writes with compassion and fairness toward Freud as well as toward the many interesting personalities who cross his life, with their complicated relationships to the great man."—SOPHIE FREUD, FREUD’S GRANDDAUGHTER AND PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF SOCIAL WORK, SIMMONS COLLEGE

"Louis Breger’s magnificent book is the definitive work on the personal psychology of Sigmund Freud. it brilliantly illuminates how the darkness in Freud’s vision has affected psychoanalytic history. This book will be central for psychoanalytic scholarship for decades to come."—GEORGE E. ATWOOD, Ph.D., PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY ... Read more

Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars And the truth shall set you free
An excellent treatment of not only the man and his work, but the time and context in which it should be viewed. Breger's greatest treatment of this topic is his use of context in which he views the work and events surrounding Freud and his comtempoaries. A remarkable piece of research that should be mandatory reading for all behavioral science majors at the undergraduate level.

Breger's struggle to provide balance in his treatment of Freud is quite evident in the context of his research. He never questions Freud's contribution to advancing the school of Psychoanalysis. What he does point out is that even a man of his stature is just as human as anyone else in his interpretation of reality. Any competent therapist must not only know this but insure that he/she does not permit their own issues to impact their efforts to assist others. It is this incredible blindness that Breger points out as his chief criticism of Freud which is why the title of his book "Darkness in the Midst of Vision" is so appropriate.

Congratulations on an outstanding effort!

5-0 out of 5 stars "Darkness" is Illuminating
As one contemplates purchasing this biography, attention must be paid to the subtitle: "An Analytical Biography." This is not an all-encompensing portrait of Freud, in that it's not focussed on his many contributions. Rather, the biographer provides a rare glimpse into a man who's name has been omnipresent in all of psychology as well as the arts since his works first began to be published at the end of the 19th century.

Frued's influence is undeniable and inescapable. Yet, there remain very few studies into the psychology of the man himself. What is found mostly are brief accounts of Freud's genius and heroism. Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, what we have with this biography is a psychological profile of the man himself.

In this biography, there is no "hero worship" to speak of. I would like to say that the biography is balanced, but it's not, and that is not even the point. I believe the reason to read this book is to gain account of historical facts that have been white-washed and profound insights that are missing in other Freud studies. We learn, for instance, of the dynamics between Freud and his mother, which (fascinatingly) were characterized by avoidance, fear, guilt, and denial. We also learn of Freud's far-reaching, heavy-handed influence in the early days of psychoanalysis, a level of control that managed to destroy careers, even lives.

One could be left with a vision of Freud-as-tyrant. In this case, pick up another biography of Freud, and you will find some "lightness" to counter the darkness presented in this biography. This book is not, however, some sort of hatchet job. It is vital, important, clear-headed, insightful, and absolutely necessary to gain an understanding of Freud the man. He was no different than the rest of us. This biography helps to balance unreasonable "hero-worship" that, after all, isn't helpful or conducive to level-headed understanding human nature.

5-0 out of 5 stars Our Golden Sigi
He was the founder and autocratic (some would even say dictatorial) leader of one the most controversial, yet profoundly influential, intellectual movements of 20th century. While his own thought sought to systematically dismantle the prevailing medical orthodoxy of his era, it simultaneously introduced a new and even more rigid orthodoxy. Though he was largely uninterested in politics, he proved himself to be the consummate politician, always carefully calculating the effects his actions would have on his movement, the psychoanalytic movement, as a whole. He zealously recruited the best and brightest minds of the time, only to shackle and ultimately squander much of their individual creativity through an endless series of loyalty tests in which the more sycophantic and unquestioning you were, the higher you rose within the inner-circle. His fateful obstinacy extended even to his own physical well-being, as he continued to smoke his trademark pipe even after much of his lower jaw had rotted off from the cancer that eventually killed him.

Freud is a legend, no doubt. But, as this skillful biography of the man makes clear, his legendary status is marked as much by deep personal flaws as by personal greatness. This is only fitting for the man who invented psychoanalysis. We all have tendencies toward self-mythologization, towards the creation of a narrative which minimizes our weaknesses (either by ignoring them outright or blaming their causes on others) and maximizes our strengths. Indeed such narratives are but the linguistic manifestation of our unconscious defense mechanisms. And consequently much of analysis centers around penetrating the core of this chain of signifiers and discovering the breaks, infinite loops and ideological repetitions within. And while he is no Lacanian (the Frenchman is never even mentioned in this text), Breger's analysis is completely given over to this psycho-linguistic imperative, an imperative which is governed and ultimately enforced by the biographical narrative of Freud himself.

This is because so much of what has been written about Freud's life has been directly influenced by Freud's pathological desire to craft a public persona that fits within his own neurotic view of himself as the great conqueror . And so Breger's destructuring of the typical Freudian biographical narrative is tantamount to a bloody confrontation with the man's well-fortified psycho-linguistic defense mechanisms (Freud himself always spoke of analysis in military terms). Whether we're talking about Freud's own autobiographical hero narratives ("On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement", "An Autobiographical Study"), Jones' dutiful doting, or even the more recent version of the same by Peter Gay, the man himself is almost always lost in the excremental haze of pre-digested meaning. Thus Freud's neuroses--his travel phobia, his dislike of music, his prudish attitudes towards sex, his desperate, inverted oedipal desire to slay his adopted male children (Jung, Adler, Rank, Ferenczi)--are rarely given the hermeneutical space necessary to stand in their proper relation to the events of his life. Breger's diegetic approach places the events of Freud's life in their proper socio-historical context, but without simply substituting history for personal responsibility, as is so often the case. Freud's cruelty (towards his fellow analysts, towards his patients) is shown to be a symptom of his neuroses, rather than mere juridical technique. (Freud constantly claimed that utter coldness and neutrality was required in the relationship between analyst and analysand, but he was most successful as a therapist when he befriended his patients and showed them warmth and sympathy.)

As you may have guessed, Breger is a practicing analyst, which obviously brings certain prejudices to his account of Freud's life. But Breger shows a remarkable level of honesty by pointing out this fact himself in a section at the end the book. And though I may quibble with him over his emphasis on the primacy of personal trauma over the primacy of sexuality and the role of larger social institutions in the formation of the individual ego, I still think this is a superb example of that particularly personal form of insight which only the very best of psychoanalysts can achieve.

A fine piece of work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Factually fulfilling
This book informed me on the one question that I most wanted to know about Freud. I have been reading a lot of magazines, in which the funniest thing that could relate Freud's life to our times was that he had been ask to sign something, like Americans being able to waive a few rights in order to achieve some meaningful concessions from a government which had its own ideas about the kind of order which needs to be imposed. All Freud wanted was to leave Vienna, after "a gang of storm troopers did come to the apartment and confiscated $500," (p. 359), "the Nazis moved in on the Psychoanalytic Press and arrested Martin for a day," (pp. 359-360), "the Gestapo took Anna in for a day of questioning," (p. 360), and:

There is a widely circulated story that before finally allowing the party to leave, the German authorities made Freud sign a document stating that he had been treated with `respect and consideration.' It is said that he asked if he could add something, and wrote, "I can heartily recommend the Gestapo to anyone." This sounds like a fine bit of Freudian irony, though it would have been foolhardy to endanger so many lives on the very point of departure. The document has subsequently been found and it contains no such comment. Perhaps it was what Freud imagined himself writing. (p. 360)

This reminds me, too much, of Nietzsche, in ECCE HOMO, complaining that Stendhal "took away from me the best atheistical joke that precisely I might have made" (Walter Kaufmann translation, p. 244). As R. J. Hollingdale put it, in the Penguin Classics edition, "Perhaps I am even envious of Stendhal? He robbed me of the best atheist joke which precisely I could have made:" (p. 28). In a thoroughly comic society, any book which can precisely describe the setting for the best joke I ever read, "I can heartily recommend the Gestapo to anyone," deserves to be read. I hope it is this useful for everyone.

4-0 out of 5 stars This IS the Man, Myth and His Chilling Darkness
I am not expert in psychoanalysis. What drew me into this book was the humanization of this slightly stooped, ambitious, clearly brilliant, altogether bourgeois, autocratic, but - yes - great man. Breger shows us, mostly sympathetically, a thoroughly human man, with all the foibles and prejudices of his time. But Breger also shows us the other side of the coin - a fanatic drive for personal fame and a chilling cruelty to all of the many who even slightly questioned his drive for mythic status. We realize the revolution in the late 19th and early 20th centuries wrought by Freud's brilliant, if now widely regarded as deeply flawed, insights into the nature of the mind. Indeed, that there is such a thing as a subconscious, an id ("the horse"), ego ("the man on horseback"), and superego (the rider's "internal voice"). There are so many famous Freudian phrases that virtually all his basic theses have "passed into the common domain", almost biblically, in Breger's typically serviceable prose.

I would recommend this aptly titled "Freud: darkness in the midst of vision" to any interested lay person, not for critiques of Freudian theories, though they are well-presented and solidly researched. Rather, I recommend this for Breger's at times soaring descriptions of Freud's utterly fascinating inner demons and his tempestuous relationships with colleagues: the 'Napoleon of neuroses' Charcot; Brucke of the "terrifying blue eyes"; his 'beautiful' Ernst Fleischl, whom he bathed, and whose photo was the only one in his consulting room, 45 years after Fleischl's death. The [narcotics], the nicotine addiction, the erotic Jung, the dissenter Adler, the hagiographer Anna Freud, and on and on --explosive relationships powerfully described. Through it all, Breger mostly succeeds in giving us a balanced criticism of Freud's ideas and, more excitingly, an intimate view of the deeply complex man. The rare photos, integrated into the text, are a treat. ... Read more


187. I Have a Dream: The Story of Martin Luther King (Scholastic Biography)
by Margaret Davidson
list price: $4.99
our price: $4.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0590442309
Catlog: Book (1994-07-01)
Publisher: Scholastic
Sales Rank: 366622
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars First One
This is a Good book and I really enjoy reading it. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a hero of all time. He has save all the Black, and he gave their freedom.

4-0 out of 5 stars This book is informative and touching for children of all ag
As a third grade teacher I use this book on a yearly basis during the month of January. Davidson does a wonderful job of allowing the children to connect to young Martin. From the early chapters she eloquently weaves Martin's words along with those of his friends and colleagues. Children are certainly saddened when Martin is eventually killed. Well worth reading!

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent read aloud for grade school students.
The Scholastic company along with Margaret Davidson has put together a very informative book for youngsters. The book doesn't delve too deeply into the social consciousness so it will keep a youngster's interest. It is an excellent book to show how, against all odds, a man no more slated for greatness than any other American, had a dream to change the way African Americans were treated. It is also an excellent book that demonstrates how conflict-resolution can be achieved through peaceful means. This book makes for a wonderful read aloud to herald in the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King's Day. ... Read more


188. Diarios En Motocicleta (Movie Tie-in Edition) : Notas de Viaje(Che Guevara Publishing Project)
by Ernesto Che Guevara
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 192088811X
Catlog: Book (2004-09-15)
Publisher: Ocean Press
Sales Rank: 15437
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Book Description

"When I read these notes for the first time, I was quite young myself and I immediately identified with this man who narrated his adventures in such a spontaneous manner . . .

"There were moments when I literally took over Granado's place on the motorbike and clung to my dad's back, journeying with him over the mountains and around the lakes . . .

"To tell you the truth, the more I read, the more I was in love with the boy my father had been . . ."- from Aleida Guevara's preface

"A journey, a number of journeys. Ernesto Guevara in search of adventure, Ernesto Guevara in search of America, Ernesto Guevara in search of Che. On this journey of journeys, solitude found solidarity, 'I' turned into 'we'."-Eduardo Galeano

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189. Ronald Reagan: The Power of Conviction and the Success of His Presidency
by Peter J. Wallison
list price: $39.17
our price: $15.67
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0813340462
Catlog: Book (2002-12)
Publisher: Westview Press
Sales Rank: 52295
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A former Reagan White House Counsel presents a comprehensive picture of Ronald Reagan, focusing on how his distinctive leadership style was the source of both his setbacks and his success.

An icon of the twentieth century, Ronald Reagan has earned a place among the most popular and successful U.S. presidents. In this compelling firsthand account of Reagan's presidency, Peter J. Wallison, former White House Counsel to President Reagan, argues that Reagan took office with a fully developed public philosophy and strategy for governing that was unique among modern presidents. "I am not a great man," Reagan once said, "just committed to great ideas."

Wallison shows how Reagan's unyielding attachment to certain key ideas--communicated through his speeches--created a cohesive administration and revived the spirit of the nation. In Ronald Reagan, Wallison describes what it was like to be on Reagan's White House staff and how Reagan's attachment to principle produced both the best and worst days of his presidency. Updated with a new epilogue. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars A true American Conservative Leader
I love this book as it contains what it means to be a true conservative and not a false one. As the great Conservative economist F.A. Hayek once stated "    . . . the whole conception of social or distributive justice is empty and meaningless; and there will therefore never exist agreement on what is just in this sense... I am certain, however, that nothing has done so much to destroy the juridical safeguards of individual freedom as the striving after this mirage of social justice."
That is in a Capitalistic Socieity there will be more losers than winners and that is just the way it is. If you can not make ends meet it is not "societys fault" but your own. Don't expect your mommy "the state" to make it right!
From here the author goes own to explain how all the scandals of the Reagan presidentcy where not the leaders fault but those of his underlings for they were to blaime not him. The buck stops there my friend!

5-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Read
This is an excellent "insider" perspective on Reagan's management style and the Iran-Contra scandal. Wallison debunks thoroughly the prevailing view of the liberal media that Reagan was intellectually limited, disengaged and manipulated by his advisors. Reagan's remarkable accomplishments are attributed to the clarity of and his unfailing focus on a few "big ideas" (e.g. a smaller and less intrusive government, freer trade, a strong defense, faith in the traditional American values of individualism and sense of personal responsibility) and his ability to inspire those within the administration to actively pursue his policy objectives. As legal counsel to the President, Wallison was the White House staffer most involved with Iran-Contra. He persuasively argues that the scandal was basically a foreign policy blunder made worse by a renegade NSC staff (particularly Oliver North) and a press corps more interested in scandal mongering than issues. ... Read more


190. Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before
by Tony Horwitz
list price: $26.00
our price: $7.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0000AZW7G
Catlog: Book (2002-10-02)
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company, Inc.
Sales Rank: 19457
Average Customer Review: 4.28 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

James Cook's three epic journey's in the eighteenth century were the last great voyages of discovery. When he embarked for the Pacific in 1768, a third of the globe remained blank. By the time he died in 1779, Cook had explored more of the earth's surface than anyone in history.

Adventuring in the captain's wake, Tony Horwitz relives his journeys and explores their legacy. He recaptures the rum-and-lash world of eighteenth century seafaring gang members, and the king of Tonga. Accompanied by a carousing Australian mate, he meets Miss Tahiti, visits the roughest bar in Alaska, and uncovers the secret behind the red-toothed warriors of Savage Island.

Throughout, Horwitz also searches for Cook the man: a restless prodigy who fled his peasant boyhood, and later the luxury of Georgian London, for the privation and peril of sailing off the edge of the map.

Read by Daniel Gerroll

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Reviews (57)

5-0 out of 5 stars An entertaining sampling of Cook for the non-historian
Tony Horwitz spends a year and a half visiting many of the places Captain Cook visited from 1768 - 1779. The book culminates with Cook's violent death in modern day Hawaii.

The book alternates back and forth between Cook's 18th century experience and Mr. Horwitz's modern day travels. Horwitz does an excellent job of interpreting the various sources available and giving an account that the historical layperson can relate to. Key characters include the author, Cook, the colorful Joseph Banks (the Endevour's Botanist) and Horowitz's even more colorful traveling companion Roger Williamson. Horwitz paints a picture of Cook as an austere, yet fair man-seemingly driven to the edges of the earth. As driven as Cook is to explore the world, Banks is driven to explore the anatomies of females from different Polynesian cultures. Roger is mainly content to explore the bottle and make wisecracks about Horwitz's adventure. If you think Blue Latitudes sounds like a dry historical piece, you're sorely mistaken. Any potential dryness is quickly quenched by Horwitz's wit, Banks's "botanizing" and Roger's boozing.

Much to my wife's amusement I found myself laughing out loud many times while reading Blue Latitudes. Despite that, I found myself strangely moved after reading the account of Cook's death. While the consequences of Cook's voyages are complex, you cannot help but feel a great admiration for this man who started with so little yet went so far. Great book, highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Adventure in the Pacific
The question often asked of Columbus - how could he "discover" America if there were already people here could apply to Captain Cook and his 3 voyages of discovery in the Pacific. Retracing some of the journeys, Horwitz sets out across the world to discover Cook, and the world he encountered. This is helped by the fact that a lot of the remote areas have changed very little in the intervening 200 plus years. But Horwitz also shows us that Cook's travels are remembered in differing ways - from worship, to indifference, to outright hostility, depending on where you go. While Columbus is honored with numerous locations, and others like Magellan have landmarks named after them. Yet Cook was more self effacing and thus very little bears the name of this explorer. This makes the journey even more interesting, as you try to get into the head and person of the great Captain.

Some of the book is depressing and almost seems an aside. Repeatedly Horwitz and his friend run into walls trying to look beyond the published history and understand the early European - Native contacts through the people left behind. An oft repeated theme is the way Cook is looked up as a monster by the natives today, having shattered paradise with his arrival. Horwitz juxtaposes the historical journeys of Cook seen through logs and writings of the time, and what is to be discovered today. Much of the writing is very enjoyable and brings us along to visit remote areas in the Pacific that we most likely would not visit ourselves. Some parts get long winded, or stretch for inclusion, but overall the book moves along nicely and pays honor to the explorer and his place in the world, both in the 17th century, and the 21st.

5-0 out of 5 stars Horwitz does it again...
Tony Horwitz has had two back-to-back smash hits in his Pulitzer prize-winner Baghdad Without a Map and the critically acclaimed Confederates in the Attic. He now has added another gem to his body of work in Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before.

James Cook seems largely to be forgotten to history. Yet, his was probably the most incredible voyage of discovery. Just the story of how Cook came to be a navigator is a fascinating one. In a day where the children of laborers did not receive an education, a mentor took notice of Cook and paid for four years of school. Cook was ambitious and worked hard to fill in the gaps in his education. As a teen, he moved from a store clerk to working on a coal ship to finally joining the Royal Navy, where he rose very rapidly through the ranks.

The tales of Cook's three voyages to the Pacific are an unbelievable story. This man of humble beginnings became one of the world's greatest explorers. In the course of 10 years, his Pacific travels covered over 200,000 miles at a time when one third of the world was unknown and unmapped. He traveled "140 of the earth's 180 degrees latitude, as well as its entire longitude." He probably named more places (rivers, islands, points, bays, bluffs, etc.) than any other man, before or since. He was a shrewd handler of men--both those above and below him in rank. He was a prolific writer of journals and logs, which are still read today. Cook was also a brilliant surveyor and chart maker, and his map of New Zealand was used up until the 1990's (when it was finally replaced by satellite images). His voyages also led to the discovery of thousands of new plants and animals, and his claiming land for Britain helped to eventually lead Britain in becoming a major empire that spanned 11 thousand miles.

But what makes Blue Latitudes a true delight is Horwitz's travelogue. In his attempt to follow in Cook's footsteps and see locations as Cook might have seen them, Horwitz travels to Canada, Tahiti, Bora-Bora, New Zealand, Australia, Niue, Tonga, England, Alaska and Hawaii. With his sidekick Roger, his travels are often hysterical. His week spent on a replica of the Endeavour (complete with 14 inches of hammock space) is especially a hoot. But it is also depressing to discover that the European explorers (not just Cook) changed the way of life on these islands. Many brought with them disease, STD's, materialism and religion. They also tried to eradicate the native culture and native populations. Horwitz also discovered that while Cook is revered in England, he is pretty much reviled among the Pacific nations he visited. Yet ironically, journals, diaries, logs and sketches from Cook's travels are in some cases the only record of these native cultures. It was also distressing to Horwitz was to discover that very little actually exists from Cook's time. Places he lived, worshipped and worked are pretty much gone. The sites he visited are also much changed. Cliff Thornton, president of the Captain Cook Society told Horwitz that "the best you can do is catch an echo of the man. You can almost never reach out and touch him."

The only thing lacking from this almost perfect book is pictures. There are plenty of maps and a painting of Cook. It would have been fascinating to see photos of the many places Horwitz traveled. I don't expect to be traveling to Bora-Bora, Tonga, Niue, Tahiti, or the other locations mentioned any time soon. Still, Blue Latitudes is a wonderful book and even those not much interested in history will find a fascinating story here.

3-0 out of 5 stars Decent, informative, amusing book.
Decent, informative, and amusing book.
(6 out of 10)

Tony Horwitz' book, Blue Latitude, is part travelogue, and part history book. The author writes about his tales retracing the three voyages that Captain Cook took to the Pacific Ocean around 1770-1780. Horwitz' retracing is not exact nor the site visitations in chronological order with Cook's visits. This is mainly due to the logistics of travel.

If memory serves me correctly, Horwitz visits the North west coast of America, then swings south to Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, back up to Cook islands, England, the island of Tonga, the Unalaska Alaskan Islands (you read that right) and onto Hawaii.

The cultural and environmental demise of most of these islands is much the same. Materialism, missionaries, and venereal diseases would devastate each island, destroying much of the culture. Many would despise Cook's journey, but ironically, it would be Cook and his crew's journals that would help these islands reconstruct the traditions of their ancestors.

Horwitz covers a lot of ground. From what it was like living on a ship, to the hardships of living in England, to the customs of Pacific culture. His manner is that of a well informed friend. There were times where you were pressing to know more, but overall, I was happy he gave perhaps a slightly more than cursory treatment of the various topics. Since I'm not a history buff, nor a serious traveler, but rather part of the "masses" on this subject, anything more than what Horwitz presents would have been nauseating details.

Let me list some of the best parts of the book. The opening chapters describing Horwitz experience on replica of the Endeavor, the boat used by Cook on his first journey, really conveys to the reader the danger, and the toil that sea travel was back in the 18th century. That chapter was the most memorable, and it's lessons of hardship provides a good background for the rest of the book. Of course, that doesn't meant the rest of the book is all down hill. The Epicurean tastes of his best science officer, Banks who was a party animal, when contrasted against the hard life of the rest of Cook's crew was funny in a rather dark way. Perhaps the most intriguing story was the circumstances of Cook's death in Hawaii, and it is here I really wish Horwitz had gone into more detail.

The modern day travels were also amusing. These include a traditional, drunken party in Australia celebrating Cook's discovery of Australia which to some degree reminds me of a crude Mardi Gras-like celebration in New Orleans. The quest for the Red banana on the island of Tonga, a traditional fruit believed to be forever lost. The brutally cold visits to the Unalaska islands of Alaska make you marvel at the temerity of Cook and his crew. And of course, there was Horwitz funny, drunk and quick-witted friend from Australia, Roger who would travel with Horwitz for most of the itinerary.

Perhaps the most serious thing lacking in this book are the pictures. It would be great to see the ship that Cook sailed on. It would have been informative to see the before and after pictures of the various islands overrun by western culture.

This book is neither a boring nor exciting. Think of this book as sitting down with a good friend and having him tell you his vacation stories. It's a pleasant experience, but since this is a book not a friend, you can't ask any questions and 'direct' the conversation. In that sense the book can be frustrating. The friend-conversation analogy is apt. Just like friends, at times I wanted to know about Tony Horwitz, and not so much about his adventures. Horwitz came off as more a reporter, and I think his book could have benefited from telling us what exactly he was thinking at the time. Is it possible to think of Cook, every thought throughout the several months? Probably not.

To that end, books similar to Blue Latitudes but where the authors have no problem telling you exactly what they were thinking, I recommend the following:

Travels by Michael Crichton
Primate's Memoirs by Robert Sapolsky

The first is about the spiritual awakenings of the author. The latter is about the author's adventures in Africa as a grad student studying primates.

So in summary, Blue Latitude is a decent read filled with amusing anecdotes of history and of the author's travels. It's a light book, and because of that, you may not come away with any sort of wisdom. But for those who may be wondering what it would be like to adventure or vacation on the "high seas", then this book can provide you insight, and for some, it might just be the vacation they need.

5-0 out of 5 stars In the flotsam of Cook's wake
"With only one break in the encircling reef, the lagoon couldn't flush the sewage pumped into its once-crystalline water. If the wind and tide ran the wrong way, scum coated the surface. Overfishing had killed off much of the marine life. Fresh water was so scarce it had to be cut off each night from nine P.M. to five A.M."

Such is the contemporary description in BLUE LATITUDES of the over-developed Bora-Bora lagoon, one of Captain James Cook's Polynesian landfalls in the summer of 1769.

During the period 1768 to 1779 at the behest of the British Admiralty, Cook of the Royal Navy captained three 3-year voyages to the Pacific Ocean in attempts to discover either the continent rumored to be at the bottom of the world, or the much-sought Northwest Passage to Asia. Cook found neither, but he was the first European to see and chart many of the islands and landmass margins in that vast watery expanse. In BLUE LATITUDES, author Tony Horwitz follows in Cook's wake to the most celebrated of the latter's landfalls, both north and south: Tahiti, Bora-Bora, New Zealand, Botany Bay (Australia), the Great Barrier Reef, Niue, Tonga, Unalaska (in the Aleutians), and Hawaii.

To my tastes, this book is a near-perfect travel essay. Not only are Cook's experiences described from the author's study of the great explorer's journals, but Horwitz paints a present-day picture of places that I'll likely never visit except in my mind's eye. And he writes with humor and perception. So, I'm both educated and entertained; it doesn't get better than that. The only thing lacking is a photo section - something illogically missing from too many travel narratives on the bookshelves. (Why most travel writers neglect to provide visual reinforcement remains a mystery to me.)

Tony begins his book with a nice touch - his personal agony during five days as a volunteer sailor aboard a full-scale reconstruction of Cook's first ship, The Endeavor, as it sailed from Gig Harbor, WA, to Vancouver, BC. At the end of his short voyage, Horwitz and the reader marvel at the endurance of the 19th century swabbie during literally years at sea because, as the author describes himself:

"My hands were so swollen and raw that I couldn't make a fist or do the buttons on my shirt. Every limb throbbed. My eyes twitched and blurred from fatigue ... (I had) tar stuck in my hair (and) grime embedded in every inch of exposed skin."

Two-thirds of the way through the volume, in order to discover something of the inner Cook, Horwitz takes us to North Yorkshire, England, where the explorer was born in 1728, and where he took to sea from the Whitby docks in 1746 as a coal ship's apprentice. In the following chapter, it's on to London, where Cook lived with his wife between his celebrated voyages. Sadly, there are few genuine traces of the intrepid captain remaining on his home island.

Admittedly, the modern world has taken cruel toll on the exotic places that so captivated Cook and his crews. For example, Horwitz describes Papeete, Tahiti as an overpriced, congested mass of billboards, car fumes, crumbling sidewalks, litter, and ferroconcrete. Even the monument on the Hawaiian beach commemorating the spot of Cook's death at the hands of the natives is marred with graffiti and surrounded by trash.

Cook has been blamed by some as being the point man for West's destruction of Paradise. But, at the end of BLUE LATITUDES, this reader, at least, stands in awe of the man. ... Read more


191. Nietzsche : The Man and his Philosophy
by R. J. Hollingdale
list price: $24.99
our price: $24.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0521002958
Catlog: Book (2001-04-09)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 76786
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Hollingdale's biography remains the single best account of the life and works for the student or nonspecialist. This classic biography of Nietzsche was first published in the 1960s and was enthusiastically reviewed at the time. Long out of print, it is now reissued with its text updated in the light of recent research. The biography chronicles Nietzsche's intellectual evolution and discusses his friendship and breach with Wagner, his attitude toward Schopenhauer, and his indebtedness to Darwin and the Greeks. It follows the years of his maturity and his mental collapse in 1889. The final part of the book considers the development of the Nietzsche legend during his years of madness. R. J. Hollingdale, one of the preeminent translators of Nietzsche, allows Nietzsche to speak for himself in a translation that transmits the vividness and virtuosity of Nietzsche's many styles. This is the ideal book for anyone interested in Nietzsche's life and work who wishes to learn why he is such a significant figure for the development of modern thought. R. J. Hollingdale has translated and edited several of Nietzsche's texts, as well as other prestigious German thinkers.Mr. Hollingdale worked in the editorial department of the Guardian for over twenty years and has written book reviews for the Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement. ... Read more

Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Man Ahead of His Time
Hollingdale's biography/analysis of Nietzsche and his philosophy was an unexpected delight. I had already read Walter Kaufmann's translations of Nietzsche's major works when I came upon Hollingdale's volume; expecting little, I was amazed at the additional insights the author offered into Nietzsche's thought and world outlook. I would recommend this book to anyone who is new to Nietzsche - who would like to learn something of his philosophy, but who has held back because they feel Nietzsche, and perhaps, philosophy in general, is too remote or difficult.
Believe me, Hollingdale's volume will usher you, gently, into Nietzsche's world, and make you hungry for more. Nietzsche, himself, in "Thus Spake Zarathustra" had his protaganist announce, "I am the railing by the rushing torrent - grasp me if you can; your crutch I am not!" Like Nietzsche, Hollingdale does not seek disciples -- he explains the basic concepts of Nietzsche's philosophy with cool detachment, and offers them to the reader as a launchpad from which the reader can, if he/she wishes, soar, exploring Nietzsche's world for themselves, drawing their own conclusions. Nietzsche, the enemy of blind adherence, would have heartily approved such an approach. This is the man who said, "if you wish to strive after peace of soul and happiness, then believe; if you wish to be a disciple of truth, then inquire!" Enjoy the Journey!

5-0 out of 5 stars A book that does Nietzsche justice
Anyone interested in a lucid,fair,nonsense and distortion-free overview of Nietzsche's writings and life could do no better than to start here.Hollingdale avoids what the usual crowd of Nietzsche biographers and explainers and interpreters stumble over.Here you will not find the deconstructionist nonsense of Gilles Deleuze or the turning of Nietzsche into a contradictor of his own writings a la Heidegger.Perhaps no philosopher in history has had so many bad advocates and screeching and intentionally misleading and misinterpreting critics as Nietzsche.So much fetid,vapid and idiotic writing has enveloped Nietzsche that it threatens to destroy the philosopher altogheter.The future of Nietzsche scholarship needs many more individuals like R.J. Hollingdale if one of the most profound,original and critically important figures of the modern world is to be given proper justice.More importantly the public sorely needs to have the means to better understand why this philosopher is the axis on which all philosophy of the last century turns.Most of what Nietzsche wrote is still terribly misunderstood and reviled for no good reason.Hollingdale is one of the few,but hopefully the beginning of a flood of well thought out,accurate and sober scholars who will help integrate this most fascinating and courageous philosopher into our public discourse and common knowledge.

5-0 out of 5 stars perfect antedote to presumptuous thinking about nietzsche
this book should prove useful for readers looking for a well-written, intelligent, and accessible introduction to this often very difficult and enigmatic thinker. hollingdale tackles head on many common misconceptions of nietzsche (i.e. that he was a nihilist, an anti-semite, a fascist) through the use of extensive quotes and poignant commentary. we see the development of his thought, from his youthful admiration of wagner and schopenhauer, through to his mature explications of the idea of life as will to power, and the theme of eternal recurrence. for the disciplined student this book proves to be of great value as well, offering insights into the personality of the man himself, through numerous letters and recollections from those who knew him most intimately. this is a great biography, respectful and humane, but also willing to acknowledge nietzsche's shortcomings and possible confusions as to his own state of mind and health.

5-0 out of 5 stars Still the definitive biography
Hollingdale worked side by side with the dean of all Nietzsche scholars, Walter Kaufmann, for many years. His biography of Nietzsche parallels Kaufmann's groundbreaking study "Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist", a watershed in American Nietzsche scholarship. While Kaufmann's work has been eclipsed (see R. Schacht's "Nietzsche") in terms of philosophical sophistication, Holligdale's biography of Nietzsche remains the very best in detail, breadth, cogency, and intimacy. Its style is unobtrusive and flowing, making it easily accessible to both the everyday reader and the student of the history of ideas. It is indispensible to anyone with even the slightest interest in Nietzsche.

5-0 out of 5 stars The perfect antidote to MTV.
R.J. Hollingdale's seminal work continues to dazzle in this dumbed down age. Thank goodness it has been made available for a new generation, hungry for such intellectual gems. This work puts in the shadow Nietzche commentators before and since. If you are serious about learning, not only about Nietzche, but about Western thought in general, then this book is a must. ... Read more


192. Jefferson and the Ordeal of Liberty - Volume III (Jefferson and His Time, Vol 3)
by Dumas Malone
list price: $36.00
our price: $36.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316544752
Catlog: Book (1962-01-30)
Publisher: Little, Brown
Sales Rank: 217588
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The third volume in Dumas Malone's distinguished study of Thomas Jefferson and his time deals with one of the most fascinating and controversial periods of Jefferson's life. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

2-0 out of 5 stars Research paper vs. Story Telling
So far i have given this series thumbs up due to the historical significance coupled with Duman Malone's detailed account of Thomas Jefferson in the period during which the story takes place. This book is more qualified to be a research paper, not a historical account of Thomas Jefferson. The high level of detail the book provides, in most cases, is overpowering and often times delutes the significance of the important details. Especially excruciating to read was TJ political account. If Dumas Malone would have had additional records of TJ's most insignificant and irrelevant actions during the priod, he would have included it in detail as well. Dumas Malone did quite a poor job of filtering unnecessary details, causing the reader to fequently tune out. The story was drawn out, and focused too little on his personal life in comparison to his political life.

Also curious was the mention of TJ's slaves and his attitudes towards them without giving any account to Sallie Hemmings (other than mentioning the Hemmings Family name). Some objectiveness would be refreshing in this series... It appears as if Dumas Malone provides a very one sided account of Thomas Jefferson. Whether certain claims regarding TJ are founded or not, they should still be included in the story. The author should not filter information on the basis of convenience or lack of objectivity.

5-0 out of 5 stars Jefferson and the Ordeal of Liberty
Jefferson and the Ordeal of Liberty written by Dumas Malone is the third installment of six in the life and times of Thomas Jefferson and according to the author the most arduous to write. The time frame of this segment starts where the second volume left off and continues to the election of Thomas Jefferson to his first term as President of the United States, (1792 - 1801).

This volume is divided into four seperate sections of Jefferson's life in this series of years, but Jefferson as Secretary of State, has frustrations in Philadelphia and as we see most of them are Hamilton in origin. Begining the first segment we see Jefferson completing his secretaryship of state, the second deals with his early retirement to Monticello, third section deals with the growth of political parties and Jefferson's reluctance to be the head of the opposition to the Federalists, and the fourth segment deals with the basic individual freedoms of the people being seriously imperiled.

Even though the author stated than this was a difficult time to write about Thomas Jefferson, it is apparent, through the tone of this book that great care was given to portray Jefferson as he was in life... we even get to glimpse at a dark side of Jefferson as the heated frustration with Hamilton begins its culmination, as Jefferson relies on James Madison to do the "dirty work."

This is a fascinating and contriversial time in Jefferson's life and the author tells the story well.

5-0 out of 5 stars Continuing conflict between Jefferson and Hamilton
This volume continues to explore Jefferson's tenure as Secretary of State and his battles with Hamilton. What's interesting is the effect Hamilton's assaults had on Jefferson's reputation: by imbuing him with every quality from limitless guile to "great passion," Hamilton makes Jefferson into a colossus in the public eye. Jefferson was more passive than Hamilton thought. One interesting thing about this book is that you get glimpses of Jefferson's dark side. In one letter to Madison, Jefferson asks Madison to "cut [Hamilton] to pieces in the face of the public." Ouch.

Also, the story of Citizen Genet is pretty funny. Genet thought he could somehow go above the head of the Washington administration and appeal directly to the American people. Genet is quickly recalled by France. ... Read more


193. God and Ronald Reagan : A Spiritual Life
by Paul Kengor
list price: $26.95
our price: $16.98
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Asin: 0060571411
Catlog: Book (2004-02)
Publisher: Regan Books
Sales Rank: 4142
Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Ronald Reagan is hailed today for a presidency that restored optimism to America, engendered years of economic prosperity, and helped bring about the fall of the Soviet Union. Yet until now little attention has been paid to the role Reagan's personal spirituality played in his political career, shaping his ideas, bolstering his resolve, and ultimately compelling him to confront the brutal -- and, not coincidentally, atheistic -- Soviet empire.

In this groundbreaking book, political historian Paul Kengor draws upon Reagan's legacy of speeches and correspondence, and the memories of those who knew him well, to reveal a man whose Christian faith remained deep and consistent throughout his more than six decades in public life. Raised in the Disciples of Christ Church by a devout mother with a passionate missionary streak, Reagan embraced the church after reading a Christian novel at the age of eleven. A devoted Sunday-school teacher, he absorbed the church's model of "practical Christianity" and strived to achieve it in every stage of his life.

But it was in his lifelong battle against communism -- first in Hollywood, then on the political stage -- that Reagan's Christian beliefs had their most profound effect. Appalled by the religious repression and state-mandated atheism of Bolshevik Marxism, Reagan felt called by a sense of personal mission to confront the USSR. Inspired by influences as diverse as C.S. Lewis, Whittaker Chambers, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, he waged an openly spiritual campaign against communism, insisting that religious freedom was the bedrock of personal liberty. "The source of our strength in the quest for human freedom is not material, but spiritual," he said in his Evil Empire address. "And because it knows no limitation, it must terrify and ultimately triumph over those who would enslave their fellow man."

From a church classroom in 1920s Dixon, Illinois, to his triumphant mission to Moscow in 1988, Ronald Reagan was both political leader and spiritual crusader. God and Ronald Reagan deepens immeasurably our understanding of how these twin missions shaped his presidency -- and changed the world.

... Read more

Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
Mr. Kengor did a very thorough job of researching for this book and produced a very readable account of an extradorinary person. Ronald Reagan's legacy will always include the role he played in bringing about the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. Kengor does a very good job of showing how Reagan's faith (as instilled by his mother) helped to develop the ideals that he would carry with him to the presidency. I was too young to vividly recall many of Reagan's speeches, but I was amazed at just how often he referred to his faith. I find it interesting that Reagan was able see that defeating Communism was an ideological war...not a war to be fought on the battlefield. Reagan held true to his belief in God and the world changed as a result.

5-0 out of 5 stars Captivating and Masterfully Done
If you believed the reviews from Publisher's Weekly and the bloke from Britain, Gandhi and Gorbachev are responsible for the end of the Cold War, not Ronald Reagan. However, a more discriminating reader would realize that these reviewers are indeed morons and haven't even read Paul Kengor's captivating and masterfully done spiritual autobiography of Ronald Reagan.

What other reviewers have failed to capture is the dual nature of the book - it manages to be what no other Reagan book is: both scholarly, and inspirational. Containing over fifty pages of footnotes, it is truly the work of a scholar, and yet oh so enjoyable to read.

Where other biographers have failed - the blundering Edmund Morris with his insertion of himself into the narrative and the emotionalism of Peggy Noonan - Paul Kengor succeeds simply because he relies on fact.

Don't take my word for it; many other scholars agree.

"An important volume about one of the most significant figures of the 20th century. Ronald Reagan's spiritual beliefs were central to who he was, and this aspect of Reagan's life has been neglected by far too many historians and political scientists. Paul Kengor has filled the void with this superb book-no interpretation of Ronald Reagan will be complete without reference to this vital work."
-Stephen Knott, Ronald Reagan Oral History Project, University of Virginia

"A penetrating history of the president's evolving religious faith."
-Kenneth W. Thompson, University of Virginia

"Meticulously researched and insightful."
-Andrew E. Busch, author of Ronald Reagan and the Politics of Freedom

"Throughout the Cold War, sophisticated people-conservatives and liberals alike-supposed that communism could possibly be contained, but not defeated. Ronald Reagan believed otherwise, and acted on that belief. Why did Reagan believe it could be done? In his fine new book, Paul Kengor argues that it was a matter of faith. In the vast body of Reagan scholarship, what has been missing is a spiritual biography. Kengor has admirably supplied our need."
-Robert P. George, Princeton University

"The conventional wisdom about Ronald Reagan is that he can be explained merely by understanding his conservative ideology. Yet Reagan was a man of faith, and that faith both deeply and significantly shaped his career, his policies, and his political style. Paul Kengor has taken that faith seriously and in this compelling book explains why students and scholars should do so as well. God and Ronald Reagan makes an important contribution to our understanding of the last major president of the 20th century, as well as to the undervalued role of religion in public life."
-Ryan J. Barilleaux, Miami University of Ohio

"The conservative Christian who rarely went to church: that is the conundrum most pundits used to refer to Ronald Reagan when discussing his relationship to religion. Now, Paul Kengor casts light on the Ronald Reagan most of us knew was there, but which few of us had the chance to see. Enjoyable and enlightening."
-Gary L. Gregg, University of Louisville

In sum, Paul Kengor renders the only real Ronald Reagan available in biography today - a man of deep faith who believed that godless communism enslaved the soul and that all men should be free to choose their destiny.

Bravo, Professor Kengor.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book with detailed discription of Reagan's total life
I loved reading this book,even though I'm a liberal Democrat. I did think, when I had finished it, that I had missed the story of one of his most famous embarrassments-the "Iran-contra scandal". I then went to the list of "index of names" at the end of the book, and there was no Ollie North. What a glaring omission. I had always wondered how North had gotten him to agree to such a deal(did he lie to him,switch papers, or what?). I still can't figure it out, or why this was not encluded in this wonderfully detailed account of his life. Can the Author answer my question? Thanks, (cvaughn@cox-internet.com)

1-0 out of 5 stars Lucid writing, but the content is so very censored
No matter which political ideology the reader believes in, he has to give the kudos to Kengor for planning such a well-written book. It simply dazzles with research effort; the content is very well-planned to illustrate the achievements of the Reagan Presidency. The book, however, fails to provide a complete picture of the presidency. Wise, well-read readers would hopefully prefer something that is not either completely for or completely against the subject matter. The legacy of Ronald Reagan is simly undeniable. But this book quite simply fails to portray Reagan in the broad sense. Americans should learn to appreciate public figures for their accomplishments as well as learn from their flaws. This book, as lucidly written as it is, completely and deliberately overlooks any of Reagan's very human flaws. If America truly loves Ronald Reagan, we should also be allowed to learn from his mistakes, not just a sugarcoated, safe, and appeasing account such is this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Read the book!
This is an excellent book. Very thoroughly researched and presented and truly inspiring. I cannot believe the "Reader from Oklahoma" actually READ the book. If you are going to review the book -- please Read the book! Your comments are pure gobbledygook! How can you read the book and come away thinking that Reagan didn't attend church for most of his life? Or that Kengor is ripping on Nancy?? Or that Reagan was not a Christian? Need I say more? You didn't read the book! ... Read more


194. Marilyn, a biography
by Norman Mailer

Asin: 0448010291
Catlog: Book (1973)
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap
Sales Rank: 260732
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Norman Mailer's meditation on the life of Marilyn Monroe
"Marilyn, a Biography" was Norman Mailer's first attempt at biography, but this is really much more than a meditation on the woman who was the major sex symbol of 20th Century American Popular Culture. Mailer's goal is to attempt to understand a beautiful, complex, and tragic woman, and he is particularly taken with the contradictions Monroe's life presents to us. He also presents her as a symbol of the bizarre decade of the 1950s in which she made her impact. What you have to keep in mind it that Mailer makes no distinction between fact and speculation as they are merged his mind. Mailer has the novelist's desire to connect the dots and complete the picture, and certainly the splash the publication of this book made, a quarter-century after the publication of "The Naked and the Dead," would appeal to the author's legendary ego.

However, in addition to being a biography this volume is also a pictorial retrospective of an actress whose greatest love affair may well have been with the camera. During the 1950s Marilyn Monroe was the most photographed person on the face of the planet. During that time Lawrence Schiller was a young photographer who would take the celebrate color photographs of a nude Monroe frolicking in and around a pool on the shot on the set of "Something's Got to Give," the film from which she was fired shortly before her death. Years later Schiller arranged a photographic exhibit from the stills of many major photographers who had worked with her, such as Richard Avedon and Bert Stern. The exhibit was called "Marilyn Monroe: The Legend and the Truth," and toured the United States and Japan. The photographs arranged arranged here as a photograph essay to offer a counterpoint to Mailer's text.

The resulting combination is certainly provocative, and, one can hope, insightful on several points. The problem is that we have no way of really knowing which points are the valid ones in this speculative biography. This is not a book to be read to know about the life of Marilyn Monroe, but rather an attempt to capture her essence and have it make sense. "Real" biographers and historians will dismiss "Marilyn" as mere sophistry; but the Sophists maintained that truth could not be known, if known it could not be understood, and if understood it could not be communicated. Ergo, all biographies and histories are sophistry, and Mailer's "Marilyn" just blatantly embraces the charge.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
I loved this book. Norman Mailer wrote this book like poetry. I could not put it down.

I am so glad you found it for me even though it was out of print. I would have hated to miss reading this book.

Also, the book was used but was in perfect condition. Thanks for everything.

Everyone who loves Marilyn Monroe should read this book. ... Read more


195. Last Train to Memphis : The Rise of Elvis Presley
by Peter Guralnick
list price: $30.00
our price: $19.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316332208
Catlog: Book (1994-10-03)
Publisher: Little, Brown
Sales Rank: 132067
Average Customer Review: 4.64 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (45)

4-0 out of 5 stars A slice of Southern history
This is one of those rare biographies that transcend its subject. The rise of Elvis is fascinating and true Elvis fans will find a wealth of information in the book, but there is also much more to take from this well researched tome. The discussion of the music of Memphis, the sources that influenced Elvis and the rise of rock and roll make this book a terrific addition to anyone's library who is interested in music or the south.

The relationship between Presley and his many women is discussed here and so is the complex interaction between him and his family. Perhaps his most interesting relationship is with his manager, Colonel Parker. How that relationship shaped his career certainly makes for an interesting read. The author does as fine a job as I have ever seen of documenting his sources and treating his subject with respect, but not awe. This is one of the best bio's I have ever read. I highly recommend this book to students of Elvis, pop music, the south or to anyone looking to be exposed to a world that no longer exists.

5-0 out of 5 stars Elvis 101
"Last Train to Memphis" and its sequel, "Careless Love", make a deeply engrossing, carefully researched, finely written biography of Elvis Presley.

Author Peter Guralnick took eleven years to exhaustively research sources and interview people who knew Elvis personally and would tell their firsthand experiences. Guralnick's scholarly approach automatically eschews any hint of the fan adoration that can taint celebrity biographies. Guralnick might even have erred on the dry side rather than the juicy or dishy side of the story. This is all to the good, because Elvis' life story, a fantastic, zany, epic arc through American pop culture, is one that needs no embellishment and is served well by a measure of journalistic restraint.

Guralnick made a wise choice with the two-book format, because in Elvis' life there was a distinct "Rise and Fall." "Last Train to Memphis" is the rise: "Careless Love" is the fall. In each volume, Guralnick reveals much not just about Elvis, but about the people who were his family and closest friends and how their actions and relationships to him and to each other shaped Elvis into the man he became.

Accounts of his school days, his early days as a musician, his early girlfriends, and his family life all flesh him out as a human being and penetrate the shell of celebrity to offer a three-dimesional glimpse of the individual and his own ideas and aspirations and insecurities. The first volume ends with the death of Elvis' mother, a loss that sent him into the first tailspin of many, from which he never seemed to recover.

After reading this volume, you will be hooked on the story and will want to immediately begin the second volume, which is much darker and sadder as the King's world starts to unwind, chronicling his spiraling drug habit and his battles both public and personal. The second volume is catalogued and reported as dispassionately as the first, so that the same unblinking honesty that gave "Last Train" such sparkle and joy reveals the true depth of Elvis' isolation without having to resort to hyperbole.

Guralnick said it himself; that the rise to fame and the person were larger than life, and so too was the decline larger than life. It's an ending that leaves you feeling sad that what began so brightly should end so awfully.

I read these books because I knew very little about Elvis and wanted to know his life story, and they are a deeply satisfying and very credible account of the King's life. I can't imagine that there is a better bio out there for anyone who wants to study Elvis 101.

5-0 out of 5 stars Guralnick Gives Us Back the Music!
Peter Guralnick -- with both love and meticulous scholarship -- has written a supremely ethical work of cultural archaeology.

With meticulous care and fairness -- but with no sugarcoating whatsoever -- he excavates Elvis out of the layers of rumor, innuendo, and mystery that have conspired over the years to make him a caricature and a joke rather than a human being.

Gurlanick gives us back the artist (who first thrilled me on 78s) and exorcizes so much of the snobby and dismissive trashy gossip (Goldman) that has obscured Elvis for almost 40 years.

I don't mean that a saint emerges. No way. But in Guralnick's telling, a brilliant musician and excruciatingly vulnerable human being pushes aside the fat guy in the gold Vegas suit.

The result? The music -- in all its glory and raw excitement -- returns to take its rightful and deserved place.

The best books (with Guralnick's 2nd volume) about rock and roll ever written.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating History
This is a book for those who love American music, not those looking for lurid scandal. Guralnick's respectful yet honest history of Elvis's rise to fame is endlessly engrossing. Not only do we meet Elvis, Gladys, and Vernon in the years before the myths took over, we meet lesser-known yet facsinating characters as Sam Phillips, the idealistic founder of Sun Records, and Dewey Phillips, the eccentric DJ who first played Elvis on the air. As Guralnick presents Memphis in the 50's, it seems so real one almost feels as though it could be visited today.

You don't have to be an Elvis fan to enjoy this biography.

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding - as if the author and Elvis were Siamese twins
One of the best biographies I have ever read. Detailed, sensitive, written with just the right mix of empathy and detachment a biographer needs. I know two people who are about Elvis' age and grew up with him. Both of them say that the chapters dealing with the King's upbringing in Tupelo and his years at the Lauderdale Courts read like they have been written by someone who grew up with him. If you have only the slightest interest in Elvis, Memphis, Southern history, or American popular culture, buy this book. ... Read more


196. A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash
by Sylvia Nasar
list price: $16.00
our price: $11.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743224574
Catlog: Book (2001-12-01)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 11866
Average Customer Review: 4.23 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

How could you, a mathematician, believe that extraterrestrials were sending you messages?" the visitor from Harvard asked the West Virginian with the movie-star looks and Olympian manner.

"Because the ideas I had about supernatural beings came to me the same way my mathematical ideas did," came the answer. "So I took them seriously."

Thus begins the true story of John Nash, the mathematical genius who was a legend by age thirty when he slipped into madness, and who -- thanks to the selflessness of a beautiful woman and the loyalty of the mathematics community -- emerged after decades of ghostlike existence to win a Nobel Prize and world acclaim. The inspiration for a major motion picture, Sylvia Nasar's award-winning biography is a drama about the mystery of the human mind, triumph over incredible adversity, and the healing power of love. ... Read more

Reviews (253)

4-0 out of 5 stars An ambitious biography
Now that the Ron Howard film has been released, it is difficult to review the book on its own merits. Yet this biography is so strong, it can stand on its own. Nasar is an excellent writer who can create excellent pen pictures of life at RAND, MIT and Princeton. She shows great style in creating the environment of the late 1940s and the 1950s. Nash emerges as a complex, demanding and flawed person - an individual. Nash has since refuted the claims of anti-semitism and homosexuality in the book, but it is good to see that Nasar does not side step the issues at all. It is probably prudent to read Nash's comments on the book before making a judgement.

Where Nash is weak is in her descriptions of mathematical formulae. She does not appear to have any real understanding of the mathematics and I would have thought a plain English explanation of his work would have strengthened the biography. I got a little frustrated that she did not tackle this task. Yet it is perhaps a measure of Nash's genius that the ideas are so complex they cannot be easily reduced to a paragraph. Still she could have tried harded in this area. Nasar tends to get around this problem, by getting another expert to describe the brilliance of the idea, rather than the mathemtical idea itself.

Based on my own experiences with people with schizophrenia, Nash's recovery is remarkable and this is the section is probably the most interesting, perhaps because it is so startling. Even after reading the biogrpahy, I still find it hard to believe that someone could recover given the severity of the illness, so it gives some hope to people who suffer this disability and those close to them.

An absorbing biography and close to a great one.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful...and Intriguing
John Forbes Nash, Jr. was a genius who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and was in and out of mental institutions for most of his life. Nasar's book, as she states so succinctly in her prologue, is Nash's story, "in three acts: genius, madness, reawakening."

Naturally introverted, even at a young age, Nash was described as being "bookish and slightly odd." His mother had him reading by the time he was four and instead of coloring books, his father gave him science books to read. But despite his parents' efforts, the young Nash was prone to daydreaming in school, which led his teachers to describe him as an underachiever. A loner and the ultimate nerd, his best friends were books, his bedroom resembled a science lab, he was always the last to be chosen for baseball, and at a school dance, he danced with chairs rather than girls.

Although his elementary school math teachers complained he couldn't do the work, his mother noticed he wasn't following the teachers' instructions because he had devised a simpler way of solving the problems. By high school, he was deciphering problems his chemistry teacher wrote on the blackboard, without using pencil or paper. In college, his math professors would call on Nash when they themselves ran into problems solving complex equations they were presenting to their classes.

But together with his brilliance were eccentricities that became more evident as Nash aged. Those close to him characterized him as "disconnected" and "deeply unknowable."

He had little use for textbooks and was known for solving difficult (and often previously unsolvable) problems using "no references but his own mind." His peers called the results he was able to obtain "beautiful" and "striking", perhaps his greatest achievement being his work on game theory, which led to a Nobel Prize for economics in 1994. He possessed a true love of discovery - while swimming with a friend in California, the two were dragged out to sea by an undercurrent and nearly drowned. Finally reaching shore exhausted, the friend was grateful for surviving while Nash, after briefly catching his breath, re-entered the surf exclaiming, "I wonder if that was an accident. I think I'll go back in and see."

Nash was in California during the Cold War working for the internationally famous think tank known as the RAND Corporation. Funded by the U.S. Air Force, RAND was populated by "the best minds in mathematics, physics, political science, and economics." Their principle focus was developing strategies to deter - or if that failed, to win - a nuclear war against Russia. Suddenly, the game theory Nash had been intrigued by at Princeton had a practical application, for war is the ultimate game of conflict. Years later, a more profitable application would be the FCC's $7-billion sale of cell phone air space to competing communications conglomerates.

Possibly the oddest in an odd bunch of ducks, Nash's math colleagues over the years included a professor who used a mathematical formula to select his suits; the manic-depressive Norbert Wiener (the founder of cybernetics), who was known to say such things as "When we met, was I walking to the faculty club or away from it? For in the latter case I've already had my lunch"; and others who were "beset by shyness, awkwardness, strange mannerisms, and all kinds of physical and psychological tics.'"

By the age of 30 it became apparent Nash was more than just eccentric as he started to display symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia; behaving suspiciously, becoming suspect of others, and finally announcing that "abstract powers from outer space" were communicating with him through encrypted messages printed in the New York Times and broadcast by radio stations. He developed "an obsession with the stock and bond markets," investing his mother's savings, convinced he could outsmart the markets and earn a profit. Instead, the results were "disastrous, to say the least." He was offered a prestigious chair in the mathematics department at the University of Chicago - something he had long strived for - but in response the chairman of the department received a strange letter from Nash declining the offer since he had decided to become the "Emperor of Antarctica" instead.

Eventually, his illness required long periods of hospitalization while he endured drug and insulin shock therapy, with the result being the loss of a considerable portion of his memory. When an associate came to visit during one of his hospital stays, Nash mused, "What if they don't let me out until I'm NORMAL?" Although Nash shared some exquisite company, at one point being hospitalized with the poet Robert Lowell, on the whole he was slightly atypical of the average mental patient. Most don't work on a paper on fluid dynamics while institutionalized, and he took some ribbing for this. Nasar notes an instance when another patient remarked, "Professor, let me show you how one uses a broom."

Despite his illness, the math community rallied around Nash. A colleague remembers, "Everybody wanted to help [him]. His was a mind too good to waste."

By 1990, his illness had gone into remission and he was able to stop taking antipsychotic drugs, while learning to separate rational thinking from delusional thinking. In spite of his amazing recovery, awarding him with the Nobel Prize was a contentious issue due to his history of schizophrenia. But once awarded, there was resolve that the right decision had been made about a very worthy individual. One committee member recalls, "We resurrected him in a way. It was emotionally satisfying." Soon after it was announced he had won, Nash half-joked "he hoped that getting the Nobel would improve his credit rating because he really wanted a credit card."

Nasar's engaging account of Nash's life and work is both comprehensive and well-written. It is highly recommended reading if you're looking for the full story.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Mind
John Nash's story is truly inspirational. I could not stop the audio until I got to the end!

John Nash, a mathematical genius, had many ups and downs in his life, including a diagnosed mental illness and various social problems that made his life painful and complicated. His Nobel-prize winning work occurred while he was writing his dissertation at Princeton. He was not recognized until later in his life for his ground-breaking contribution to "game theory".

His story is one not only of his incredible gift, mental illness and remission, but really one of personal victory. In the end, he learns to live in harmony with those around him doing what he enjoyed most.

One of my most recent favorites!

4-0 out of 5 stars An amazing piece of detective work
As I have said in the title, this book is an amazing piece of detective work about the life of Great John Nash. This is by far the work that beats the movie. If you have seen it, do not stop there - read the book, because it is TRUE! If you are interested into mathematics, into the Game theory - read it, not to learn the science, but to appreciate the scientist! However, I still give it 4 stars since the level of writing drops a little after exhilarating first few chapters. Nevertheless this is a great read!!!

3-0 out of 5 stars a not-really-that-beautiful mathematician
(hey everyone else is making a pun with their titles so why not me?)

well this book has been well commented on so i'll try to keep this brief.

first, it is fact that many great mathematicians develop some sort of mental illness (it happened to kurt godel, georg cantor, and even issac newton). nash, then, is not really an unusual case.

what does make him interesting, then, is the fact that he had "reawakened" from his illness and continued to do math in his old age. such among mathematic circles is very rare.

and his math is indeed great. nash's ability to solve problems concerning manifolds and other topological spaces is still making waves in math today. the layman unfortunately, like nasar, doesn't appreciate this fully, which is a shame. i would have liked to get a mathematician's view on johnny's life.

but, as a pop bio, it's not too bad. i agree with other reviews that it contained too much minute detail, and her references to nash looking like a golden god were overstated and a bit offputting. i wouldn't be surprised if nasar was really in love with nash. (she might have dedicated her book to alicia to subdue any suspicions of that sort.)

in the end, though, we see the life of one of the greatest modern mathematicians, through triumph and tribulation, which was the ultimate goal of the book. i would recommend this book to some and not to others. ... Read more


197. Marie Antoinette : The Journey
by ANTONIA FRASER
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385489498
Catlog: Book (2002-11-12)
Publisher: Anchor
Sales Rank: 20810
Average Customer Review: 4.24 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

France’s beleaguered queen, Marie Antoinette, wrongly accused of uttering the infamous “Let them eat cake,” was the subject of ridicule and curiosity even before her death; she has since been the object of debate and speculation and the fascination so often accorded tragic figures in history. Married in mere girlhood, this essentially lighthearted, privileged, but otherwise unremarkable child was thrust into an unparalleled time and place, and was commanded by circumstance to play a significant role in history. Antonia Fraser’s lavish and engaging portrait of Marie Antoinette, one of the most recognizable women in European history, excites compassion and regard for all aspects of her subject, immersing the reader not only in the coming-of-age of a graceful woman, but also in the unraveling of an era. ... Read more

Reviews (50)

5-0 out of 5 stars Tragic Story of French Revolution's Famous Victim
Lady Antonia Fraser newest biography is a familiar story but she fortunately brings many new facts and forgotten figures to light. By including "The Journey" in her title, Lady Fraser's
main purpose is to convince the reader that Marie Antoinette did
indeed transform herself from the frivolous and disinterested Queen she was purported to be. This the author accomplishes brilliantly and with the historical facts needed to back herself up.
Within the first few pages, Lady Fraser thoroughly trounces that famous and oft-repeated statement attributed to the Queen ("Let them eat cake!")as nothing more than a vicious slur while
acknowledging it as the first of many to do permanent damage to her image and character. Lady Fraser is able to separate rumors
from facts and does so through her inexhaustible research and innumerable sources. The long and painful incarceration of the Royal Family is quite detailed here and sheds new light on not only the ill-treatment of the Queen, but particularly of her son (who died miserably and isolated in captivity).
This is undoubtedly a sad story but one not unique for the victims of the French Revolution: a revolution that ended up
devouring itself and its leaders in the immolation of the Terror.
Lady Fraser certainly makes the case that, like most of the victims of this volatile period, Marie Antoinette was sentenced to death by a pre-arranged "kangaroo court" and was in essence
"murdered" not for what she had done, but for who she had been.
A rather sly reference in the epilogue notes that her chief harasser on the Revolutionary Committee, Jaques Hebert, ended
up in the same graveyard as the former Queen within a few short months: a deserving victim of the chaos and terror that he himself instigated.
All in all, Lady Antonia Fraser has written an outstanding
biography that compares well with her previous work and, in some instances, surpasses it. Thanks to this book, readers and historians alike will be able to obtain a far truer and balanced picture of a much-maligned historical figure. It is certainly a "Journey" worth taking.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not Up to Antonia Fraser's Other Efforts
This book is a total white wash of Marie Antoinette. If you are looking for an unbiased biograph, do not look here. Compared to "Mary Queen of Scots" and "Cromwell", this book was just not up to Ms. Fraser's usual high standards. I could not wait for this book to come out, ran out and bought it and read it immediately. While reading it, I kept wondering, "This is Antonia Fraser?" Ms. Fraser would have written a much better book if she could have seen the good and bad in Marie Antoinette. Yes, she was a pawn of history. Yes, she was a devoted mother. BUT, she was part of that aristocratic world which presumed that certain people were--by reason of birth--better than everyone else. Ultimately she paid a price she really didn't deserve to pay.

Next time I'll wait a bit longer to run out and buy a book by Ms. Fraser.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Austrian woman
Pampered daughter of an Empress, doomed Queen of France, Marie Antoinette is one of the most Romantic figures in world history. Though many denounce her as selfish and stupid, she has her champions who see her as a compassionate woman victimized by historical circumstances. One of these is Antonia Fraser, whose "Marie Antoinette: The Journey" (2001) may well be one of the most sympathetic portraits ever written of a monarch, aside from "official biographies". (But then, the author handled Mary, Queen of Scots the same way.) Beginning with her childhood as an Archduchess in Vienna, daughter of the doting but stern Maria Theresa, the book follows Maria Antonia's journey into France as the fiancée of the hapless Dauphin, becoming the sparkling Marie Antoinette. Extraordinarily popular (at first), she usually displayed the finest discretion and kindness, despite her haughty attitude towards the Comtesse du Barry (who, incidently, was to share her fate). So many of the nasty rumors circulated about her were most likely untrue, including the "Let them eat cake" story, which Antonia Fraser says was first attributed to the wife of Louis XIV in the 17th Century. The libelles accusing Marie Antoinette of cruelty and promiscuity only prove that trashy publications are not confined to our era. Her attachment to Count Axel Fersen is recounted unblushingly, and it becomes particularly touching in 1791, when the dashing Swede tried to to help the Queen get her family out of France. Probably the most complicated and incriminating episode in Marie Antoinette's life was the Diamond Necklace Affair (Napoleon said it more than anything else led her to the guillotine), and Antonia Fraser describes its intricacies carefully -- emphasizing, bien sûr, the Queen's innocence. Oddly enough, of the many portraits of Marie Antoinette, few show her displaying a necklace at all, much less anything resembling the rivière of the scandal. For a woman supposedly so enamored of jewels, she didn't seem to wear many. (There are more than 50 illustrations, most of them color plates.) The book is nearly 500 pages long, but the descriptions of court life and an increasingly dangerous political situation make for easy reading. Despite her husband's respect and the adoration of her children, Marie Antoinette will always have her detractors. But this biography shows that the Queen's final torments, as well as the judicial travesties enacted against her, more than compensate for any mistakes she may have made during her luxurious journey to disaster.

4-0 out of 5 stars Read It and Weep
I began reading this wonderful biography of Marie Antoinette while planning a trip to France and although the book is long, and at times rather tedious, it did not dissapoint my intrigue with this historically tragic figure.

Antonia Fraser has written what seems to be about as accurate a biography as possible. Many horrible stories have been told about Marie Antoinette and this book covers those as well as many more that I never knew. Like most people my introduction to Marie Antoinette was with her "Let them eat cake..." speech and her over-extravagant life style. It seemed almost understandable that she was beheaded based on such misrepresentation. In reality the story reads much more tragically once you get to know a bit about her life and how it all ended.

Imagine being a precocious but innocent young girl raised up like property to be sold to the highest royal bidder. Then at 14 being sent away from your friends and family to become the wife of another royal child. Marie Antoinette left Austria and had to adapt to becomming a future queen of France within only a few short years. The French, during those times, being notoriously inclined to think of Austrian women as unflattering and unfeminine oafs. But young Marie pulled it all off and successfully became the star of France. Her husband Louis XVI was more interested in hunting and gadgets than creating a future French dynasty with Marie. So it isn't a wonder that she fills up her life with all the riches of royality. Her life is a sad saga from beginning to end despite her royality and wealth. The final chapters of this book are unimaginable to fathom. She is taken from her family once again, thrown in a small cell, stripped of any royal privileges and left to contemplate her own demise.

Imagine becomming all you never dreamed of, hearing the crowd cheer the beheading of your husband, listening to the coerced testimony of your only son stating the abuses he suffered by your own hands, seeing the head of your friend paraded on a stake past your cell window, hemorrhaging from stress and exhaustion and then having to walk up a platform towards your death with a roaring crowd surrounding you.....few of us could stand it, but Marie Antoinette did. Her story is a great read but in order to get Marie's true essence one must walk the halls of Versailles and then sit in contemplation near her cell in the La Conciergerie.....this extraordinarily strong woman lives on in infamy and her spirit reigns supreme.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very good biography on Marie Antoninette
Marie Antoninette proves to be a highly readable and nicely research biography. Antonia Fraser made it pretty clear that this Queen of France was probably one of the most misunderstood and most falsely maligned personalities of the French Revolution, accused by her enemies from being a lesbian to a drunkard. While Marie Antoniette was a person of many weaknesses, the author made it clear that outside of her undereducated and immature mind, her spendthrift ways which probably wasn't good for France, Marie Antoniette was none of the things that she was accused of being. Actually in reading this book, I was bit surprised how ordinary and somewhat boring her life was until the last six years before her death.

But here's lies the weakness of the book. The book really doesn't go that deep into Marie Antoniette's life during that crucial period. I have read more detail accounts of her life in other books that dealt strictly with the French Revolution then I have in this biography. The book was very good in informing the reader of the pre-French Revolution period of Marie Antoninette's life but faltered afterward. Maybe Antonia Fraser should have stop in 1789 since she really didn't have much to add that wasn't written before by other authors. (Of course, if she did that, it won't be a "complete biography".)

Overall though, this book is well worth any reader's time to read if you have such interest in the life and time of Marie Antoninette. For those who don't read much on the French Revolution, its an excellent choice! Author's effort to rehabilitate Marie Antoninette's reputation proves to be pretty successful and with certain justice, long overdue. ... Read more


198. Companero : The Life and Death of Che Guevara
by Jorge G. Castaneda
list price: $16.00
our price: $11.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679759409
Catlog: Book (1998-10-27)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 15792
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

By the time he was killed in the jungles of Bolivia, where his body was displayed like a deposed Christ, Ernesto "Che" Guevara had become a synonym for revolution everywhere from Cuba to the barricades of Paris. This extraordinary biography peels aside the veil of the Guevara legend to reveal the charismatic, restless man behind it.

Drawing on archival materials from three continents and on interviews with Guevara's family and associates, Castaneda follows Che from his childhood in the Argentine middle class through the years of pilgrimage that turned him into a committed revolutionary. He examines Guevara's complex relationship with Fidel Castro, and analyzes the flaws of character that compelled him to leave Cuba and expend his energies, and ultimately his life, in quixotic adventures in the Congo and Bolivia. A masterpiece of scholarship, Companero is the definitive portrait of a figure who continues to fascinate and inspire the world over.
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Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars Passionate and informative
This very passionate work does a good job of clearing up misconceptions and making Che's ideas and philosohy more readily available. Che has become a sort of enigmatic figure in our times and it is disturbing how so many people just plaster his image and "claim" to be a "compa~nero" without really knowing what Che stood for and what he accomplished in his life. This is a very welcome biography on one of the most influential and misunderstood revolutionaries. This book was written by someone who is not only passionate about it, but who is also able to be objective. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about Che.

5-0 out of 5 stars An materful work, a brilliant conclusion
As a bit of a Cuban Revolution scholar, I found Castaneda's book to add a depth and insight found no where else in the Che literature. The volume of footnotes may frighten some off, but they can mostly be ignored. This book gives a remarkable sense of the incredibly difficult task of actually trying to run a country after a revolution and in the face of such opposition. While much of the book is complex research at its' best, the final chapter is a thing of beauty. Castaneda give meaning to both the life of Che and meaning to the impact of the 1960's on the society at large. The final two pages are brilliant.

3-0 out of 5 stars Well written but?
If anyone has seen the documentary about Who betrayed Che Cuevara on the history channel you will know that this guy was supposed to have read police reports, interrogation documents etc on the Bolivian two Bustos and Debray. Of course it is obvious he did not asnd has either made up or followed everyone else in accusing the wrong people of being traitors to Che. If a writer of historical books cannot get this right then this book lacks very much from the difinitive writing of Anderson. its worth reading but I'd buy Anderson's first.

5-0 out of 5 stars a no spin look at Che Guevara
I was tired of seeing his face on all the t-shirts (as I am a college student) and not knowing just who Che was. Having read Castaneda's book, I now feel that I can say with confidence that I understand why Che's face has become such a countercultural symbol. Castaneda has definitely done his homework in preparing to write this compelling account of Guevara's life and death. The author does not attempt to glorify the revolutionary or to paint him as a villian, but rather provides the reader with details from both camps in order to allow him or her to make their own decision. The Che that emerges is a superb visionary and one of the few truly pure Marxist socialist leaders of the modern era, a throwback to the Bulsheviks of the early 20th century. This book has encouraged me to read more into Che's theories, and is one that I absolutely recommend to anyone, especially those readers who would tend to quickly denounce socialism due to there familiarity only with the corrupt brand practisted by the Soviet and Chinese camps. If only more of us were like Che Guevara in sticking with our convictions no matter what they may be!

5-0 out of 5 stars Che for grown-ups
Castaneda's is by far the best work yet done on the subject, not only better written, but also more penetrating and authoritative than either of the other recent big bios--and all at something like half the length. Also, though Castaneda clearly admires Che, his insights and conclusions are still clear-eyed and uncompromising. This is Che for grown-ups, a real-life saint, as exasperating as he is inspiring, and all the more compelling for it. In fact, since reading this I can't think about the guy without getting a lump in my throat. No lie. So Hasta La Victoria Siempre, Commandante... wherever you are. ... Read more


199. The Boys of Pointe du Hoc : Ronald Reagan, D-Day, and the U.S. Army 2nd Ranger Battalion
by Douglas Brinkley
list price: $22.95
our price: $15.61
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060565276
Catlog: Book (2005-05-31)
Publisher: William Morrow
Sales Rank: 55324
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Book Description

"These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war." —Ronald Reagan, June 6, 1984, Normandy, France

Acclaimed historian and author of the "New York Times" bestselling Tour of Duty Douglas Brinkley tells the riveting account of the brave U.S. Army Rangers who stormed the coast of Normandy on D-Day and the President, forty years later, who paid them homage.

The importance of Pointe du Hoc to Allied planners like General Dwight Eisenhower cannot be overstated. The heavy U.S. and British warships poised in the English Channel had eighteen targets on their bombardment list for D-Day morning. The 100-foot promontory known as Pointe du Hoc -- where six big German guns were ensconced -- was number one. General Omar Bradley, in fact, called knocking out the Nazi defenses at the Pointe the toughest of any task assigned on June 6, 1944. Under the bulldoggish command of Colonel James E. Rudder of Texas, who is profiled here, these elite forces "Rudder's Rangers" -- took control of the fortified cliff. The liberation of Europe was under way.

Based upon recently released documents from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the Eisenhower Center, Texas A & M University, and the U.S. Army Military History Institute, The Boys of Pointe du Hoc is the first in-depth, anecdotal remembrance of these fearless Army Rangers. With brilliant deftness, Brinkley moves between two events four decades apart to tell the dual story of the making of Reagan's two uplifting 1984 speeches, considered by many to be among the best orations the Great Communicator ever gave, and the actual heroic event, which was indelibly captured as well in the opening scenes of Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan". Just as compellingly, Brinkley tells the story of how Lisa Zanatta Henn, the daughter of a D-Day veteran, forged a special friendship with President Reagan that changed public perceptions of World War II veterans forever. Two White House speechwriters -- Peggy Noonan and Tony Dolan -- emerge in the narrative as the master scribes whose ethereal prose helped Reagan become the spokesperson for the entire World War II generation. ... Read more


200. Gods and Generals : The Paintings of Mort Kunstler
by Mort Künstler, Jr., James I. Robertson
list price: $27.50
our price: $18.15
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0867130849
Catlog: Book (2002-10-14)
Publisher: Greenwich Workshop Press
Sales Rank: 145541
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The year prior to the battle of Gettysburg was the high-water mark for the Confederacy; single-minded, its superior officers were unified under the command of General Robert E. Lee. GODS AND GENERALS: THE PAINTINGS OF MORT KUNSTLER focuses on the strategic collaboration between Lee and Thomas Stonewall Jackson in the battles leading up to July 1863: Second Bull Run (or Manassas), Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. The roots of a tradition of undying valor and constancy were founded here, and they have been a vibrant heritage for subsequent generations.

This story, based on the best-selling novel by Jeff Shaara (Gods and Generals), also involves Union officers Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and Winfield Scott Hancock, one a professor of religion from Bowdoin College, and the other a graduate of West Point. The dramatic text and pictures bring to life this crucial time as the Confederacy dominated the battlefields with their skillful speed and flexibility. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful work of a master artist
Gods and Generals: The Paintings of Mort Kunstler rivals its previous companion book to Gettysburg. Kunstler tells the story leading up to the battle of Gettysburg using his masterful brush to translate history into color paintings. The text and the paintings weave the tale of how America eventually tore itself asunder in the Civil War. Its an excellent collector's piece and great introduction into the Civil War.
I also found Kunstler did not paint as many movie scenes in this book, instead capturing the actual historical looks of these "Gods and Generals" of the Civil War. Any lover of history or military art will appreciate his attention to detail and riviting scenes. Enjoy!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Book of Beautiful and Educational Paintings
Mr. Kunstler has provided us with another book of his arrestingly beautiful paintings. Art, of course, is largely a matter of taste and proverbially in the eye of the beholder. Mr. Kunstler, however, even from as objective a standpoint as possible, has no peer as a chronicler of the Civil War. I have been interested in that period of history for about half a century, but it has been Mr. Kunstler's paintings over the past dozen or more years that have brought that war to life for me, and, I am sure, for many others. Although he is a prolific artist, he never compromises with quality, and the quality of his work is unsurpassed.

The subjects of Mr. Kunstler's paintings are invariably interesting, and he does not like to paint scenes or events that have been done previously by other artists. This book is the companion to, and illustrative of, the events and people of the novel "Gods and Generals" by Jeff Shaara, soon to be made into a motion picture of the same name. It follows four exceptional soldiers through the first two years of the war: Robert E. Lee, Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, Winfield S. Hancock, and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

In this book, there are many new paintings not yet published elsewhere, but whether you are an old Kunstler aficionado or newly introduced to his work, you will find this book unequaled. The reproductions of the paintings are eye-catching, displaying each painting in vibrant, striking colors, true to Mr. Kunstler's originals. I say above that his paintings are educational, and so they are. I urge you to look closely at every work of art. If you do, you will not only see an astonishing amount of detail, but also learn much about the people, the times, the objects people used, and the war. Again, we have Mr. Kunstler's constant striving for perfection to thank for paintings which are correct in every detail. He is the quintessential perfectionist, who painstakingly researches every detail, no matter how small, to provide his audience with true, as well as beautiful, depictions of people, places, and things. He consults with knowledgeable historians, such as Professor Robertson, who wrote the text for this book, on even such matters as the weather on the particular day that he wants to depict in a painting. All of the accouterments are true, as well as the animals, the uniforms, the weapons, the landscapes, the battlefield situations, the lighting -- everything. Rarely does one find, in one individual such as Mr. Kunstler, artistry to the point of genius coupled with an unceasing demand for perfection in all of the details of his art.

I admit that I am no connoisseur of art and that I can claim no expertise or experience in art. Even someone such as I, however, can at least partially appreciate the artistic techniques used by Mr. Kunstler. His positioning of people, animals, buildings, and other objects to lead the observer's eye to the main subject of the painting, his extraordinary use of light to play on this or that subject in the picture in greater or lesser brilliance in order to accentuate or subordinate that subject, and his use of color, always precise, to delineate bright sunshine or dark shadow, or to emphasize or minimize, are all techniques that even such as I can note and admire. His paintings are so life-like as to defy the observer to differentiate them from photographs. But no photographs could depict such wonderful color and the precise instants in time which Mr. Kunstler so deftly chooses to picture.

Mr. Kunstler has, with every book he has introduced, been able to obtain the very best in historians/commentators to draft the texts. He has obtained the services of, for example, Henry Steele Commager (for the book "The American Spirit: The Paintings of Mort Kunstler"), James I. Robertson, Jr. (for "Jackson and Lee: Legends in Gray," "The Confederate Spirit: Valor, Sacrifice and Honor," and the current work), James M. McPherson (for "Gettysburg"), and Dee Brown (for "Images of the Old West"). Dr. Robertson's text in "Gods and Generals: The Paintings of Mort Kunstler" is, as always, the perfect complement to the paintings. As with Mr. Kunstler's art, so also with Dr. Robertson's narrative, one can learn much, whether one is a novice or an experienced hand.

Thus, whether you are a "Civil War buff" or simply interested in exceptional art and edifying prose, you will enjoy this book (and you would do well to consider obtaining Mr. Kunstler's previous books, named parenthetically above). You cannot go wrong with the team of Kunstler and Robertson.

5-0 out of 5 stars For the beautiful art, alone...
This book is worth 5 stars!! My 8 year old son is just beginning to discover what it means to be born in the south. I want him to have an accurate picture of what the civil war was all about. It is hard to find civil war books with enough pictures to keep him interested. This book has plenty of high quality art for him to see and includes text that we can read together! I highly reccomend it based on those gorgeous paintings. ... Read more


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