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1. Leadership
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2. John Kenneth Galbraith : His Life,
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3. Stalin : A Biography,
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4. Mein Kampf
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5. Their Lives: The Women Targeted
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6. Long Walk to Freedom : The Autobiography
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7. Right Turns : Unconventional Lessons
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8. Autobiography of Malcolm X
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9. Alexander Hamilton
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10. Standing Next to History : An
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11. First They Killed My Father :
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12. The Family : The Real Story of
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13. Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life
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18. Truman
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20. In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices

1. Leadership
by Rudolph W. Giuliani, Ken Kurson
list price: $25.95
our price: $16.35
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786868414
Catlog: Book (2002-06-15)
Publisher: Miramax Books
Sales Rank: 785
Average Customer Review: 4.16 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (112)

4-0 out of 5 stars Everyone can be a Leader, but there's only one Giuliani
"Leadership" is an excellent resource for anyone who seeks
to manage, lead, or instill organization into their own lives.
Written in a style reflective of Giuliani's friendly yet steely
personality, it provides an excellent overview of his political
philosophy, decision making skills, and of course his historic
leadership following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Until reading the book, I had forgotten how dire the conditions were in New York City prior to Rudy's election in 1993 - over 9,000 felonies per week! He details how he put plans into action
and demanded accountability from everyone in the system, which often required enormous political strength. Being a Republican mayor in a city that is nearly 80% Democrat is enormously difficult. But Rudy explains how he relied on his priciples, moral beliefs and formed relationships with political enemies by
trusting those who were trust worthy and always being open to discussion. These principles and beliefs were evident during the leadership exercised during 9-11.
I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in a political or management career, or anyone who wants to learn more about this great American.

5-0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended!
In Leadership, former NYC Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (with writer Ken Kurson) gives you the inside look at how he applied basic leadership principles to being Mayor, Associate Attorney General and U.S. Attorney. Giuliani reveals how he and his key team applied these principles in the face of the Sept. 11 World Trade Tower collapse, and focuses on exercising leadership all the time. The principles may sound familiar - prioritize, prepare, take responsibility, hold everyone accountable, recruit great people, reflect and then decide, under-promise and over-deliver, develop and employ strong beliefs, be loyal and purposeful - yet the thrill comes from learning how Giuliani straightforwardly applied these principles to accomplish Herculean tasks. We from getAbstract recommend this breezy, engaging book to business leaders, governmental managers and politics junkies.

2-0 out of 5 stars Don't confuse leadership with management
First off, don't get me wrong this is an interesting book. From the man who helped a city recover from a dreadful event; he is an inspiration.

Also, Giuliani is a fantastic *manager*, who was able to get the city of New York running better than it had for years.

My main criticism is the title, and the derivations of some of the anecdotes. From my reading, Giuliani doesn't clearly understand the difference between *leadership* and *management*.

Sure, he has a great technique for aiding communication, for setting KPIs and ensuring they are met. But these are management tasks, not leadership.

My greatest disappointment with this book was hoping to find some of his ideas and insights into that much harder topic of leadership but all I got were some great ideas on how to manage a city (a city that has a population greater than my entire country...).

So, buyer beware! This is an interesting book and gives you some insight into the man (even if you need to read between the political lines) but don't expect a book on Leadership!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must Read!
Can a textbook be delightfully written? This one is. Authors Richard L. Hughes, Robert C. Ginnett, and Gordon J. Curphy explore every aspect of leadership and smoothly weave research conclusions into the narrative. Examples abound, from Colin Powell to Walt Disney. The authors are all psychologists who specialize in leadership issues. They have written conversationally and intelligently, using plenty of sidebar material (even famous cartoons) to bring their reporting to life. We recommend this classic (now in its third edition) to everyone interested in leadership.

5-0 out of 5 stars I Laughed. I Cried. I Marvelled.
I listened to all of the ten audio cassette tapes. The presentation was both instructive and entertaining. The narration was great. I resonated with the message such that I laughed, cried, and marvelled through the many precepts and stories given. I got moist around the eyes while vicariously experiencing the beauty of courage, conviction, and of successfully overcoming great obstacles in the path to great accomplishment. The accomplishments of Mayor Giuliani's administration in NYC were many. Within the stories were principles related to the importance of hiring excellent people, management by morning meetings, management by metrics, being at the scene of problems. For lawyers, the book includes more than a few great insights.

Primary among the many great stories is the Mayor's references to September 11, 2001. This occupies all of chapter 1 but the stories continue throughout. One of the early delights in the book is the story of overcoming the "squeegee men" panhandlers in New York City. Chapter headings related to "Be Prepared", "Loyalty" and "Stand Up To Bullies" deliver what they promise. I marvelled that the loyalty stories related primarily to loyalty down to the people who work for you. The story about Rudy's fight with prostate cancer was remarkable for the example that it gave of great diligence in gathering information and making a careful decision. The book, as read, is clear and concise. Every word seems to count. In my experience, Rudy began to earn his reputation long before he was Mayor when we worked to obtain convictions and strong sentences against organized crime bosses.

The precepts and examples are admirable. It's Rudy's own account, but it is clear that Mr. Giuliani has given great diligence to his work while showing great insight, great commitment to principle, great courage. ... Read more


2. John Kenneth Galbraith : His Life, His Politics, His Economics
by Richard Parker
list price: $35.00
our price: $23.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374281688
Catlog: Book (2005-02-16)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Sales Rank: 449
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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From Amazon.ca

John Kenneth Galbraith has led an extraordinary life. The world's most famous living economist started teaching at Harvard when he was just 25 years old and has sold seven million copies of his four dozen books. One reviewer said Galbraith wrote "history that reads like a poem." During World War II, at age 32, he was named "tsar" of consumer-price controls in the United States, and he later advised three American presidents and served as ambassador to India. Now in his 90s, Galbraith is still active and has received 50 honorary degrees. All this was accomplished by a Canadian born in a tiny Ontario farming hamlet, whose major at an obscure agricultural college wasn't even economics but animal husbandry. Such an irony is typical of Galbraith's renowned iconoclasm, writes Richard Parker in his 820-page biography John Kenneth Galbraith.

Parker shows how Galbraith's irreverent views were shaped by the Depression, which helped turn him into a passionate advocate of Keynesian economics, the philosophy that inspired FDR's New Deal. Galbraith later became one of the architects of the expansion of federal social services after World War II. Because of his influence in successive administrations, readers get a fascinating fly-on-the-wall picture of debates and intrigue inside the White House during many of the major crises of the Cold War. Galbraith frequently played crucial behind-the-scenes roles that went beyond the duties of an economist: advising President Kennedy during the Cuba missile crisis, helping Lyndon Johnson write his first speech after Kennedy was assassinated, and opposing the Vietnam War, which became his most passionate cause. He later criticized the dismantling of government programs under Ronald Reagan and seemed to love clashing with conservative economists. Parker managed to sift through a mountain of material from Galbraith's long and lively years to distill an engaging narrative that, like Galbraith's own books, is easily accessible to non-economists. --Alex Roslin ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Long but Fascinating
I am a general reader with little familarity with economics, but I found this biography of Galbraith interesting right up to the end.It is a long book--669 pages of text. Richard Parker's writing is up to Galbraith's own, and is worthy of the task of writing Galbraith's professional biography--there is little of his personal life, which I didn't miss at all.For the layman, a little more explanation of economics terms might have been helpful, but reading further usually clears up the confusion, which I probably wouldn't have needed if I had taken Economics 101. Read it, especially if you are an old-time liberal and Keynesian!

4-0 out of 5 stars A Must Read
The author covers an enourmous amount of economic, social and political ground in a way that is informative and entertaining.
Richard Parker does not come off as overly biased toward Galbraith and the ideas he stands for. Parker is able to pull-off an objective interpretation to not only the life and contributions of Galbraith himself, but also his masters.

4-0 out of 5 stars Dense and interesting, but a little heavy on the economics
John Kenneth Galbraith has been the most famous and widely read economist in the world. An engaging writer and drily quotable, he published four dozen books and countless articles, served as adviser to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and regularly blasted subsequent Republican administrations. Galbraith served on a post-war commission that studied strategic bombing of Germany (and concluded that despite its tremendous moral cost, it had had little or no effect on the Nazi war machine-much to our military's embarrassment), had a successful two-year stint as ambassador to India, was an early and vocal opponent of the Vietnam War, and even published three novels.

Richard Parker presents the first substantial biography of this six-foot-eight-inch, Canadian-born Harvard professor who refused to hide in academia. As co-founding editor and publisher of "Mother Jones" magazine, consultant and fundraiser for Democratic candidates and Greenpeace, and finally Harvard professor of economics and public policy himself, Parker was almost uniquely situated to draw a richly sympathetic portrait. Galbraith is not an inherently interesting man, nor do his life and theories present an especially compelling read. What makes the book worthwhile is its mosaic of the many worlds through which Galbraith moved: It offers an excellent review of recent political and economic history, though the slant is decidedly liberal.

It's good to be reminded that different political parties have repeatedly been thought dead (the Democrats in 1955 and 1985, Republicans in 1941 and 1965), only to rise again, and that the nation handled dire economic crises (inflation in 1971, the first oil crisis in 1973, the Depression itself), if uneasily and temporarily. Galbraith forecast the failure of Republican economic policies, the growth of corporate management that is unresponsive to shareholders and manipulates demand, and repeatedly scolded his profession for its increasing worship of complex mathematical modeling that ignores huge chunks of political and economic reality-such as burgeoning military budgets or the public good-to make the numbers work.

He saw the details as well as the big picture, and practiced what he preached. Galbraith froze his own Harvard salary after his books began to sell, and turned back the surplus to his department. He gave his longtime housekeeper a condo upon her retirement, directed a percentage of his books' royalties to his assistant and editor, and set up an anonymous fund to assist students who found themselves unexpectedly pregnant.

Parker seems to want to reach a broader, general audience, but his explanations of economic theory will leave lay readers lost. One would do well to keep a dummy's or complete idiot's guide to economics by one's elbow while reading this book.

Not terribly lively but solid, this book offers plenty of consolation for the mournful blue stater who chooses to scale it, and food for thought about where we might (and maybe should) be headed.

5-0 out of 5 stars The high tide of the Keynesian era
This colorful and anecdotal biography of Galbraith stretchesacross almost the whole of the twentieth century and in the telling leaves behind a cogent history of economics and American government, stretching from the Keynsian revolution to the breaking up of the classic liberalism of the Roosevelt era beginning with Nixon. Galbraith's life puts a lens to the fine grain of virtually all the significant developments since the decade of the thirties and the Depression and leaves behind a lot of insightful asides about the interaction of economists with politicians. The record of clear-headed advice given, but not always taken, has some grimmer moments, such as the repeated cautions and warnings from Galbraith about Vietnam, even as Kennedy was overtaken by events. The picture of the high-tide of Keynesianism is refreshing after two decades of economic sophistry from the post-Reagan generation. You would think that Republicans could manage economies, but the record shows a great fall, as the crackpots with their fancy models and the rest of the looters took over. We could use some the common sense and economic basics that Galbraith once provided (and he wasn't a kneejerk Keynsian). Instead we may be undone by the voodoo artists and their laffer curves, nothing to laugh at anymore as the American public gets swindled one more time. Superb double history, the man, and the American scene. ... Read more


3. Stalin : A Biography,
by Robert Service
list price: $29.95
our price: $19.77
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0674016971
Catlog: Book (2005-04-04)
Publisher: Belknap Press
Sales Rank: 4359
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Overthrowing the conventional image of Stalin as an uneducated political administrator inexplicably transformed into a pathological killer, Robert Service reveals a more complex and fascinating story behind this notorious twentieth-century figure. Drawing on unexplored archives and personal testimonies gathered from across Russia and Georgia, this is the first full-scale biography of the Soviet dictator in twenty years.

Service describes in unprecedented detail the first half of Stalin's life--his childhood in Georgia as the son of a violent, drunkard father and a devoted mother; his education and religious training; and his political activity as a young revolutionary. No mere messenger for Lenin, Stalin was a prominent activist long before the Russian Revolution. Equally compelling is the depiction of Stalin as Soviet leader. Service recasts the image of Stalin as unimpeded despot; his control was not limitless. And his conviction that enemies surrounded him was not entirely unfounded.

Stalin was not just a vengeful dictator but also a man fascinated by ideas and a voracious reader of Marxist doctrine and Russian and Georgian literature as well as an internationalist committed to seeing Russia assume a powerful role on the world stage. In examining the multidimensional legacy of Stalin, Service helps explain why later would-be reformers--such as Khrushchev and Gorbachev--found the Stalinist legacy surprisingly hard to dislodge.

Rather than diminishing the horrors of Stalinism, this is an account all the more disturbing for presenting a believable human portrait. Service's lifetime engagement with Soviet Russia has resulted in the most comprehensive and compelling portrayal of Stalin to date.

... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars We return again to the subject of Stalin
Gangster! Evil dictator! Georgian Al Capone!Robert Service uses all of these terms to describe Joseph Vissarionovich Dzhughashvili, known as Stalin, in this new biography.That he also uses terms such as intellectual, paterfamilias, singer of songs and lover of wine, to describe the `man of steel' disgusts and alienates some readers.Apparently, we must distance ourselves from such a man, make him somehow inhuman, in order to fit him into our modern worldview.More interesting, and more useful, is a biography that seeks to understand the human factors, for Stalin was not some alien dropped from outer space, but a man.

This is the work of a professional historian who is deeply immersed in both the primary sources (many newly available) and the historiography of Stalin. Service seeks to undertake a multidimensional approach, looking at political, economic, personal, international and many other factors of both Stalin and the world in which he lived. Among the more interesting points Service brings out, is the importance of Stalin in the pre-revolutionary period, including his importance and high place (although less visible than some of the others) in the party structure, debunking the myth that Stalin came out of nowhere, suddenly and mysteriously knocking the Bolshevik train off track. Stalin was Lenin's protégé and student, and although he differed on several key points, there was continuity between the two. In a sense this is the sequel to the author's works on Lenin.

If there is one thing I wish could be added to a generally excellent work, it would be while Service sufficiently discredits both Leninism and Stalinism I would have preferred, since he was on the subject,a discussion of the failure not only Bolshevism but of Marxism in general. Admittedly it is slightly beyond the scope, but it seems to leave open the question, could a Marxist state under some more benign leadership have worked?It is my belief that the historian of the twentieth century has already before him evidence to answer this question, and anyway, (with sincere apologies) let us hope no one will ever undertake such an experiment.That being said, in all a very good biography suitable for all readers.

5-0 out of 5 stars Yes please!
Quit Stalin (stalling) and buy this book! (that was a joke but this is a good book).

4-0 out of 5 stars A Biography That Tries To Humanize Stalin
The author tries to humaninze Stalin and view him as a more intellectual person than he is viewed in earlier biographies. Stalin's vast and terrible crimes against the persons in his own country are almost pure evil and the reader will be disturbed at the author's effort to "rehabilitate" Stalin.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Step in the Wrong Direction.
Robert Service's book is the newest addition to the recent spate of books on Joseph Stalin.While a meticulously researched effort, it is disturbing that the author is at pains to "humanize" Stalin and to understand his behaviour. I quote from a review of the book in The Economist, 6 January 2005:

"Here the reader is told that Stalin's crimes, while vast and terrible, were things which a sane, intelligent, sometimes kindly human being might do for understandable if not defensible reasons. It does not feel like a step in the right direction."

I would recommend, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore, and as a companion volume, Stalin and His Hangmen: The Tyrant and Those Who Killed for Him by Donald Rayfield as giving superior treatment to the subject.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ground Breaking
Reading this biography one becomes aware how much previous biographies of Stalin were affected by Trotsky's work and perspective. A good deal of scholarship about the Soviet Union depended on documents that were carried out by him and his written works were influential. Some of the more influential writers of Soviet history were in fact disciples of Trotsky such as Isaac Deutscher.

Broadly Trotsky hoped to gain power in the Soviet Union following Lenin's death. He was however outmanoeuvred by Stalin. Trotsky was contemptuous of Stalin's ability and he thought he was a nonentity. This is reflective in his writing and accounts of Stalin's career and rise. As a result he portrayed Stalin as a nothing who had arisen not through his own ability but through a mysterious numbers game in the party which preferred hacks to people of real talent.

Stalin after in his road to power was happy to portray himself in a similar way to the Trotsky caricature of him.That is an ordinary practical man who could empathise with the problems of workers and peasants and have real solutions to problems rather than overblown rhetoric.

This book suggests a very different picture of Stalin's rise. In reality he was only General Secretary of the party for a short time before the power struggle to oust Trotsky. He had little time to stack the party and the reason he won was because he was a better political operator. In fact Stalin had always been an important figure in the Bolshevik movement holding important positions such as being the editor of the party newspaper. Although a poor public speaker he was a person of considerable intelligence and he was a skilled writer. Broadly Trosky was a person who was somewhat egocentric and he had little ability to read people and depended on his charisma and ability as a speaker. By the 1920's a bit more was required to gain power in the Soviet Union.

The main power of the book is to show that Stalin was in fact an intellectual figure. It deals in less detail with the historical background of Stalin's rule skating over the oppression of the peasants and the development of industry. In fact the chapter on the second world war makes at least one mistake suggesting that the battle of Karhov was the first Soviet offensive of the war obviously forgetting the attacks on the German forces by Zhukov in late 1941.

Never the less the power and importance of the book is to show how previous biographies were written and influenced by ideas around Stalin's rise which when put to the test are shown to be wrong. In looking at Stalin's personality it is also clear that he was not a person who suffered from what would be described as a mental illness. His actions were to purposeful and systematic for that. Despite this the book is perhaps better at showing what could be described as the evil of Stalin's rule. Not only the effects on those who were killed by his regime but the brutal and irrational nature of the regime he created.
... Read more


4. Mein Kampf
by Adolf Hitler
list price: $20.00
our price: $15.40
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0395925037
Catlog: Book (1998-09-15)
Publisher: Mariner Books
Sales Rank: 3292
Average Customer Review: 3.57 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In 1922, just four years after the war to end all wars, an unknown Austrian then living in Bavaria planned a pamphlet to be called Settling Accounts. In it he intended to attack the ineffectiveness of the dominant political parties in Germany which were opposed to the new National Socialists (Nazis). In November 1923, Adolf Hitler was jailed for the abortive Munich Beer Hall putsch along with men willing and able to assist him with his writing. With the help of these collaborators, chief among them Rudolf Hess, the pamphlet became a book. Settling Accounts became Mein Kampf, an unparalleled example of muddled economics and history, appalling bigotry, and an intense self-glorification of Adolf Hitler as the true founder and builder of the National Socialist movement. It was written in hate and it contained a blueprint for violent bloodshed.
When Mein Kampf was published in 1925, it was a failure. In 1926 a second volume appeared - it was no more successful than the first. People either laughed at it or ignored it. They were wrong to do so. As Hitler's power increased, pressure was put on all party members to buy the book. Gradually this pressure was extended to all elements of the German population. Soon Mein Kampf was even being passed out to newlywed couples as a gift. Ironically, and frighteningly, by the time Hitler came to power on January 30, 1933, what has been considered by many to be the most satanic book ever written was running neck and neck with the Bible at the top of the German bestseller lists.
In his excellent introduction to this definitive American translation of Mein Kampf, Konrad Heiden writes: "For years Mein Kampf stood as proof of the blindness and complacency of the world. For in its pages Hitler announced -- long before he came to power -- a program of blood and terror in a self-revelation of such overwhelming frankness that few among its readers had the courage to believe it ... That such a man could go so far toward realizing his ambitions, and -- above all -- could find millions of willing tools and helpers; that is a phenomenon the world will ponder for centuries to come."
We would be wrong in thinking that such a program, such a man, and such appalling consequences could not reappear in our world of the present. We cannot permit our selves the luxury of forgetting the tragedy of World War II or the man who, more than any other, fostered it. Mein Kampf must be read and constantly remembered as a specimen of evil demagoguery that people whenever men grow tired of thinking and acting for themselves. Mein Kampf is a blueprint for the age of chaos. It transcends in historical importance any other book of the present generation. In his translation Ralph Manheim has taken particular care to give an exact English equivalent of Hitler's highly individual, and often awkward style, including his occasional grammatical errors. We believe this book should stand as the complete, final, and definitive English version of Hitler's own story of his life, his political philosophy, and his thwarted plans for world domination. Translated by Ralph Manheim with an introduction by Konrad Heiden.A compilation of Hitler's most famous prison writings of 1923--the bible of National Socialism and the blueprint for the Third Reich.
... Read more

Reviews (118)

1-0 out of 5 stars A must read. But is just garbage
How do we rate this book? Because of its historical significance? If we rate it based on that, then it certainly deserves 5 stars. However, I think we should rate it based in what's inside. It is nothing but garbage. I understand that Hitler had motifs to feel bad about the situation of Germany in the mid -20s but what he expresses in this book is WRONG. High School and College History books don't cover enough information about the economic and social situation of Germany during the 20s but still. Hitler's ideas are nothing but anger and hate. It has a great historical importance. This book is a must read. It is well written and covers important points. But the ideas are still Garbage. Anyone who doesn't think that Nazism is garbage has a problem and you and I know is true.

2-0 out of 5 stars Dizzying, rambling... but possibly very important
In order to give any clear review for Mein Kampf it is necessary to attempt to read it as just another book by just another theoretician. While this eventually became untrue, viewing it this way helps to see it as it was initially encountered, which in turn may help us to understand how it went from long political diatribe to near-eternal infamy.

If we do that, here is what we discover. Adolf Hitler's long tome is not unintelligent. One could, in fact, make a list of quotations from Mein Kampf that are easy to agree with. This is due to the fact that in exploring his ideas Hitler touches on many areas of human and even natural experience. In doing so he states many things which would be difficult to not call truisms.

Yet in investigating this philosophy Hitler makes errors that perhaps it is easier for us to see in our time, but might have been harder when this was published. In describing human structures, Hitler is quick to designate terms that he feels he can pigeon-hole people into. Given his racial views this might not be surprising, but without that assistance, it might not be as easy to note his logical flaw when, for example, he divides activists into idealists and politicans; though he acknowledges that occasionally one is both, what he fails to notice is that the line between the two is not nearly as easily definable as he thinks it is.

Besides his use of this belief system as it relates to race, his tendency to do this extends to the rest of his writing. Mein Kampf is packed with various lists that Hitler feels can describe different phenomena. The more he lists, however, the more that you see someone in love with his own self-created systems than with any desire to map them accurately to reality. This is in spite of the fact that Hitler spends a good portion of the first 1/5 of the book discussing the evolution in his views as his old opinions fell in the face of adult-acquired evidence.

There is also a problem for the non-German reader in that Hitler spends a good amount of time focusing on specific words that appear to drive the debates of his time, the same way that the fight over words such as "liberal" or "alternative" defines ours. So when Hitler describes the battle for proper use of the word "folkish" to describe his utopian state, most lack the social history necessary to even fully understand his points, let alone judge his accuracy in describing them.

So the question comes: do you need to read this? That's not easy to answer. At roughly 700 pages with highly complex sentences that often go to more than 10 lines, Mein Kampf is a very difficult read. On the other hand, because we now know of the nightmare Hitler unleashed on the world, it is natural to want to read this to find out where he went wrong so we can avoid these problems in the future.

For people who feel that way, I would answer this "yes", as the answer for this is more hidden than you might guess. If you get into this with the mindset that you will find a one-to-one correlation of his philosophy to those of some modern-day leader or party, you'll be in for a surprise. Elements of right and wrong are interspersed all over Hitler's rambling. That makes it even harder to work through, but it also provides a reward more fulfilling than any black-and-white rallying cry. And given that that was the kind of world that Hitler saw, and we now know the results of these ideals, that might be all the more reason to put the effort in and understand with more maturity and clarity exactly where Hitler missed the point.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mein Kampf
Many people claim that was the worst of human kind. I could not disagree more. Adolf Hitler was a genius with a clear sense of historical, social and political knowledge. He had to fight the jew controlled establihment early on his life and knew that the liberal lies where just that, i.e., lies. Whilst it is true that he is not a writer in the realm of either Donne, Milton, Dante or Shakespeare; one would be an idiot not to realize true genius when it stares one right in the eye. His knowledge in many fields is astounding and he writes verily like a scholar and a deep thinker. This book, i.e., Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler (Introduction), Ralph Manheim (Author), should be read by people whom are not affraid of the truth behind the jewish lies and deceit and want to know the true nature and spirit of one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century. Even though I find his occult ideas very troubling and his cult of personality smacks of heresey one can cleary see that their is a genius residing in that mind. A genius tainted by Satan and his minions , yet a genius. Yet Shakespeare wrote that one can smile and smile and still be a villain.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
i find this book the best book i have ever read, i think it includes some fasinating points and lines. I would reccomend it anyone who is open-minded and is prepared to let there "anti-racist, hate hitler" views go out of the window while you read it. Forget who it was written by for a minute if u dissaprove of the man and you will come to realise wat i mean.

3-0 out of 5 stars Just FYI....
I can't stand it when people post reviews which point out factual errors made by other reviewers, as this is usually done to show off their own knowledge rather than out of any charitable impulse to correct a wrong. That having been said, I have to do just that the two official Amazon reviews of this book posted at the top, one or both by Sunny Delaney, who should have checked the facts before posting them as such.

The original July 18, 1925 release of "Mein Kampf" was not a failure as stated. In point of fact this first printing of 10,000 hardback books sold 9, 473 copies in less than six months, despite a depressed economy and a relatively high price of 12 marks. If the printing had been a failure, Munich publisher Franz Eher would never have ordered a second in 1926. The second edition was in fact a disappointment, sales dropping off sharply in following years, and it was not until the Nazis gained significantly more momentum in Germany years later that additional editions were ordered. However, it is recorded that Hitler gained a substantial, if temporary, income from royalties of his book, and it may have financed or partially financed the 28,000-mark Mercedes-Benz he bought when released from Landsberg prison.

I understand that most people cannot even fake objectivity about Hitler as a historical figure because of the things he did and set in motion, but that is not an excuse for getting the facts wrong. "Mein Kampf" was by no means a runaway success, but neither was it a failure. It neither fulfilled the lofty expectations Hitler had for it nor flopped on its face as so many of his critics (and there were many, even in 1925) hoped. Hitler, as it happened, had no respect for objective truth and bent it to suit his purposes and his whims; in studying his life, career, and beliefs, we have an obligation to do the exact opposite and get the facts straight. There are enough myths, legends, and outright lies about this crucially important figure of modern history told every day without committing any more of them to print. ... Read more


5. Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine
by Candice E. Jackson
list price: $25.95
our price: $17.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0974670138
Catlog: Book (2005-05)
Publisher: World Ahead Publishing, Inc.
Sales Rank: 4607
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Book Description

The lives of eight women who crossed romantic paths with Bill Clinton are examined in this innovative look at the former president. Extensive research and firsthand interviews document the intimidation and harassment that these women suffered after falling out of Clintons favor, in the process revealing a disturbing truth about the ideology of the president and his followers. ... Read more


6. Long Walk to Freedom : The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela Tag: The International Bestseller
by Nelson Mandela
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.86
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Asin: 0316548189
Catlog: Book (1995-10-01)
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Sales Rank: 3000
Average Customer Review: 4.46 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

The famously taciturn South African president reveals much of himself inLong Walk to Freedom. A good deal of this autobiography was written secretlywhile Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years on Robben Island by South Africa's apartheid regime. Among the book's interestingrevelations is Mandela's ambivalence toward his lifetime of devotion to public works. It cost him twomarriages and kept him distant from a family life he might otherwise have cherished.Long Walk to Freedom also discloses a strong and generous spirit that refused to be broken under the most trying circumstances--a spirit inwhich just about everybody can find something to admire. ... Read more

Reviews (89)

5-0 out of 5 stars This Man Is My Hero.
I read "Long Walk to Freedom" right after I graduated from college in 1996. This is the written life of one of the absolute greatest world leaders who ever lived. I had the pleasure to visiting Robben Island, where most of its tour guides were, like Mandela, political prisoners under apartheid. Words cannot describe what it felt like to actually stand inside of the jail cell that Mandela occuppied. What is even more incredible is that, looking back, the man was not the least bit bitter or angry about what he went through (and who could blame him if he were?); in fact, he invited his former jailers to his 1994 inauguration as South Africa's first black president.

If after reading this book you do not come away with a greater sense of admiration and respect for this outstanding human being, then you are not human.

4-0 out of 5 stars A good autobiography
Long Walk to Freedom is the autobiography of Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest leaders of South Africa. It gives a detailed account of his childhood, youth, and adulthood. It takes you through his years in college and his work as a lawyer as well as all of his political struggles with apartheid including his years in jail.
The book is extremely well written and gives the detail that only someone who witnessed the events could posses. Mandela's hindsight as he reviews the events of his life shows a more personal side to him. I liked the book but anyone who is considering reading it should be reminded that it is an autobiography so it does have a bias. He wrote the book as someone who had been wronged. Long Walk To Freedom provides an interesting and detailed account of the South Africans struggle with apartheid. It details Nelson's joining of the ANC (African National Congress) his rise in the ANC, and his creation of the MK. It also gives facts about his personal life and the life of his family. It is recommended to anyone who enjoys autobiographies or to anyone who is looking to learn more about the history of apartheid and South Africa.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book is well worth of my shelf space.
You should read, at least, a book or two about biographies of such noble people as Nelson Mandela, whose lives have been a blessing to the world. This was a great inspirational book and helped me to realize how simple and small things in life could bring so much joy into one's life. Far too often, I personally take simple pleasures of life for granted. The freedom is not free and the book cites how the freedom is brought at the expense of sacrifices of our fathers. The book is very well written and what impresses me is Nelson Mandela's mastery of English language.

4-0 out of 5 stars LOOOOONG Book
This book kept me in prison for a long time. It really bogs down in the middle and then hurries to wrap up. It's a much more "satifying" read in the first 1/3 of the book.

4-0 out of 5 stars THE DETERMINATION OF ONE MAN- A MUST READ!
After reading LONG WALK TO FREEDOM, I came away with a sense of awe for a man who spent 27 years in prison but never gave up the hope for his freedom and the freedom of his country.

Communicating was key to keeping the "freedom fighters" on the outside informed and encouraged. One way this was done was to write in tiny, coded script on toilet paper. The paper was so small and easily hidden that this became a popular way of smuggling out messages. When the authorities discovered a number of these communications, they took the extraordinary measure of rationing toilet paper. After awhile, only eight squares of toilet paper were given to each prisoner each day.

To live under such conditions where you can be so isolated from the world (For 27 years), that you contemplate conversing with a cockroach, is a test of the human spirit. To sacrifice the obligations of family so that a nation of people can breath in freedom is nothing short of courageous with a fiercely determined spirit. Here is what Nelson Mandela writes about in his struggle for family and nation:

I did not in the beginning choose to place my people above my family, but in attempting to serve my people, I found I was prevented from fulfilling my obligations as a son, a brother, a father, and a husband.

In that way, my commitment to my people, to the millions of South Africans I would never know or meet, was at the expense of the people I knew best and loved most. It was as simple and yet as incomprehensible as the moment a small child asks her father, "Why can you not be with us?" And the father must utter the terrible words: "There are other children like you, a great many of them....." and then one's voice trails off.

Nelson Mandela is a man that has a spirit and determination that is above and beyond most people or leaders today. READ THE BOOK!! It will open your eyes and in the end, it'll make you feel good about the human spirit. ... Read more


7. Right Turns : Unconventional Lessons from a Controversial Life
by MICHAEL MEDVED
list price: $26.95
our price: $18.16
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Asin: 1400051878
Catlog: Book (2004-12-28)
Publisher: Crown Forum
Sales Rank: 597
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8. Autobiography of Malcolm X
by MALCOLM X
list price: $7.99
our price: $7.19
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Asin: 0345350685
Catlog: Book (1987-10-12)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Sales Rank: 4112
Average Customer Review: 4.71 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Malcolm X's searing memoir belongs on the small shelf of great autobiographies. The reasons are many: the blistering honesty with which he recounts his transformation from a bitter, self-destructive petty criminal into an articulate political activist, the continued relevance of his militant analysis of white racism, and his emphasis on self-respect and self-help for African Americans. And there's the vividness with which he depicts black popular culture--try as he might to criticize those lindy hops at Boston's Roseland dance hall from the perspective of his Muslim faith, he can't help but make them sound pretty wonderful. These are but a few examples. The Autobiography of Malcolm X limns an archetypal journey from ignorance and despair to knowledge and spiritual awakening. When Malcolm tells coauthor Alex Haley, "People don't realize how a man's whole life can be changed by one book," he voices the central belief underpinning every attempt to set down a personal story as an example for others. Although many believe his ethic was directly opposed to Martin Luther King Jr.'s during the civil rights struggle of the '60s, the two were not so different. Malcolm may have displayed a most un-Christian distaste for loving his enemies, but he understood with King that love of God and love of self are the necessary first steps on the road to freedom. --Wendy Smith ... Read more

Reviews (214)

5-0 out of 5 stars Forget all the Minuses About the Man
Growing up in a home where Martin Luther King, Jr. was considered the closest thing to a saint, I was not aware of much about Malcolm X. He was the ONE who was too radical, too opinionated, and too controversial for my parents to accept.

However, when I saw Spike Lee's masterful motion picture autobiography, I had to find out more about this man. I was led to read the life story in his own words and am I glad that I did.

Malcolm X was an individual who encompassed the rage and the determination of the black man of the 1960's. He began, as have so many struggling to survive in the inner city, as a hustler involved in the numbers game. This led to an incareration which brought him into the "light" of Islam.

His views changed and he spearheaded much of that movement designed to faciliate black economic survival and pride. He was misquoted, misunderstood, and underappreciated by the very people that he sought to uplift.

The book will bring the reader greater insight into this most complex human being. Previous biases about him should be placed aside and take him for what he was: a Black man with a mission, a mission to instill integrity and self-sufficiency in a people long denied many of America's basic principles.

5-0 out of 5 stars Do NOT underestimate X
Knowing Malcolm X for a colored person is a prerequisite to being socially aware. Time Magazine calls this one of the top ten non-fictions ever. The reasons are clear. This is the most comprehensive, dauntingly honest, transcending account of X. No one energized the colored community with such "self respect" on a mass-level as Brother Malcolm. Malcolm X's charismatic influence as a genuinely intellectual, and intensely thought-provoking leader remains unmatched. The greatest aspect of Malcolm X was his committment to his very own thoughts and thus, speaking his mind. He didn't necessarily say what America's majority wanted to hear. That is why he was so phenomenal, so radical, so involving. His teachings on self-defense, "freedom by any means necessary", true Islam (after the Mecca trip); his urgency in creating forums for colored people, oppressed people world-wide; and his logical prioritizing of human rights before civil rights, are evidential of his deep/complex understanding of race and human nature. The latest version of the book includes a very special message by X's eldest daughter, A. Shabazz. She gives a personal insight into her father's life, goals, and philosophies. But most importantly, she clarifies the misconceptions surrounding X. "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" is top-notch. Frantz Fanon's scholarly writing, "The Wretched of the Earth" probably comes second.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is incredible.
I have only one thing to say about this book: Wow, what an amazing life-story. Anyone who reads this book will be changed in some way. Buy it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A story about the life a great man and his important life.
a very interesting story about a man's life. The book is written beautifully by Alex Haley as he tells about malcolm's life which is educational and inspiring. This is a recommeded read for people of all races. you will never regret spending money and time on this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars English 230
So... did these Chicago students have to submit their book reviews to amazon.com as one of their class requirements, or what? ... Read more


9. Alexander Hamilton
by Ron Chernow
list price: $26.00
our price: $12.24
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143034758
Catlog: Book (2005-03-29)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 11047
Average Customer Review: 4.65 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

From National Book Award winner Ron Chernow, a landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation.

Ron Chernow, whom the New York Times called "as elegant an architect of monumental histories as we've seen in decades," now brings to startling life the man who was arguably the most important figure in American history, who never attained the presidency, but who had a far more lasting impact than many who did.

An illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, Hamilton rose with stunning speed to become George Washington's aide-de-camp, a member of the Constitutional Convention, coauthor of The Federalist Papers, leader of the Federalist party, and the country's first Treasury secretary. With masterful storytelling skills, Chernow presents the whole sweep of Hamilton's turbulent life: his exotic, brutal upbringing; his brilliant military, legal, and financial exploits; his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, and Monroe; his illicit romances; and his famous death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July 1804.

For the first time, Chernow captures the personal life of this handsome, witty, and perennially controversial genius and explores his poignant relations with his wife Eliza, their eight children, and numberless friends. This engrossing narrative will dispel forever the stereotype of the Founding Fathers as wooden figures and show that, for all their greatness, they were fiery, passionate, often flawed human beings.

Alexander Hamilton was one of the seminal figures in our history. His richly dramatic saga, rendered in Chernow's vivid prose, is nothing less than a riveting account of America's founding, from the Revolutionary War to the rise of the first federal government.
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Reviews (51)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of American History's Shining Stars
There have NOT been enough biographies of Alexander Hamilton, and Ron Chernow has restored this often maligned founding father into his deserved spotlight. The marvelous opening passage describes the longings of Hamilton's widow, Elizabeth, for her husband who had died nearly 50 years previously. This romantic image sets the tone for this brilliant book, as it explores the heart as well as the mind of Alexander Hamilton.

For those who do not know, Hamilton was not merely a capitalist and economist who happened to die in a duel with Aaron Burr. True, he was the founder of The Bank of New York and was America's first Secretary of the Treasury. But Hamilton was also a tireless abolitionist, a brilliant lawyer and writer, General Washington's right-hand-man, a war hero, founder of the New York Post, and a swash-buckling romantic. Taken on their own, these achievements are amazing enough, but given the enormous obstacles and tragedies he had to overcome during his youth, it's just mindboggling. To take it a step further, he accomplished all this in just 49 years, which was his age at the time of his death.

A life as full, as dramatic, as IMPORTANT as Alexander Hamilton's deserves volumes. Ron Chernow's extensive biography is a long book but, even so, the amazing life he is describing requires such length. And, to Chernow's credit, the book achieves just the right balance of admiration and criticism, romanticism and realism, speculation and fact. Hamilton's life swung between often contradictory ideas and emotions, and Chernow presents them all to us, rather than sticking with one overriding image. ALEXANDER HAMILTON by Ron Chernow is perhaps the most important book written about the nascent years of our country since Ellis' FOUNDING BROTHERS, which would make an excellent companion to this book. I would also strongly recommend McCullough's JOHN ADAMS, as well.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Most Important American Figure Never to Become President
During the 1980s, during the period when Bank of New York launched its hostile take-over of Irving Bank, the following anecdote circulated.

As Alexander Hamilton was getting into the boat to be rowed across the Hudson River to Weehawken where he was scheduled to duel Aaron Burr, he turned to his aide and said, "Don't do anything until I return."

The story concluded, unfortunately, the aide and all of his successors took Hamilton at his word.

The anecdote, though funny at the time of the take-over, could not have a weaker historical foundation. Ron Chernow's biography relates the details of an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan who rose to become George Washington's key aide-de-camp, battlefield hero, Constitutional Convention delegate, co-author of The Federalist Papers, Federalist Party head and the country's first Treasury Secretary.

Hamilton was a rare revolutionary: fearless warrior, master administrator and blazing administrator. No other moment in American history could have better employed Hamilton's abundant talents and energy.

As Treasury Secretary, the country benefited from his abilities as a thinker, doer, skilled executive and political theorist. He was a system builder who devised and implemented interrelated policies.

As in the Revolution, Hamilton and Washington complemented each other. Washington wanted to remain above the partisan fray. He was gifted with superb judgment. When presented with options, he almost always made the correct choice. His detached style left room for assertiveness. Especially in financial matters, Hamilton stepped into the breach.
Washington was sensitive to criticism, yet learned to control his emotions. Hamilton, on the other hand, was often acted without tact and was naturally provocative.

Perhaps the main reason Hamilton accomplished so much was Washington agreed with his vision of 13 colonies welded into a single, respected nation. Chernow presents a well-written and nuanced portrait that arguably is the most important figure in American history that never attained the presidency. Though his foreign birth denied him the ultimate prize, his accomplishments produced a far more lasting impact than many who claimed it.

5-0 out of 5 stars True Founding Interests
The best all around depiction of a pivotal charecter in the founding of our country. With all of Mr Hamiltons accomplishments and pitfalls of character. Hamilton created almost single-handedly the modern capitalist society in addition to making huge implications into the manner which our government took shape that so many Americans take for granted. I would encourage anyone interested in the formation of the American experiment and a capitalist society read this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Phenomenal Life
After Ronald Reagan died, I recall a TV commentator saying that there was a movement to replace Hamilton with Reagan on the $10 bill. Paraphrasing, "Hamilton was an easy target because he lacks a 'constituency'". Chernow's outstanding biography not only demonstrates why Hamilton is on the bill, but that his constituency should be all Americans. Of the "Founding Fathers", it is Hamilton who, if he could come back today, would be generally pleased at the United States he would find; his vision of capitalism, free markets and a central government has come to fruition.

The book details his youth growing up in the West Indies of questionable legitimacy, emigrating to the "Colonies", receiving an education, serving on Washington's staff in the Revolutionary War, his authorship of the Federalist Papers, his role in the Constitutional Convention, first Secretary of the Treasury, prolific writer, lawyer. His was a truly a phenomenal life. Chernow remarks that "No immigrant did more for the United States than Hamilton." After completing this book you can't help but "second" that statement.

The book paints vivid portraits of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Adams and Burr as well as the political climate. The role of his family and particularly his wife are well chronicled along with his faults. This book adds to the number of outstanding biographies that are being written about this period of our history. Back to Reagan, who quoted Hamilton on numerous occasions, I think if he had a say in who should be on the Ten, he like me would vote for Hamilton.

5-0 out of 5 stars Stunning
This is the best biography I have read in years. After the wonderful biographies out recently about Franklin and Adams, it was a thrill to learn about Alexander Hamilton, who has been so maligned and sidestepped by history. Buy this book. It is beautifully written, will hold your interest, and you will come away--as I did--with a new take on the founding of this country. ... Read more


10. Standing Next to History : An Agent's Life Inside the Secret Service
by Joseph Petro, Jeffrey Robinson
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312332211
Catlog: Book (2005-01-01)
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Sales Rank: 64631
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Book Description

Joseph Petro served for 23 years as a special agent in the United States Secret Service; eleven of them with presidents and vice presidents. For four of those years he stood by the side of Ronald Reagan.

Following his career as a Navy Lieutenant, during which he patrolled the rivers and canals along the Vietnamese-Cambodian border, he worked his way up through the Secret Service to become one of the key men in charge of protecting the President. That journey through the Secret Service provides an individual look inside the most discreet law enforcement agency in the world, and a uniquely intimate account of the Reagan presidency.

Engagingly, Joseph Petro tells "first hand" stories of: riding horses with the Reagans; eluding the press and sneaking the President and Mrs. Reagan out of the White House; rehearsing assassination attempts and working, then re-working every detail of the president's trips around the world; negotiating the president's protection with the KGB; diverting a 26 car presidential motorcade in downtown Tokyo; protecting Vice-President Dan Quayle at Rajiv Gandhi's funeral where he was surrounded by Yassir Arafat's heavily armed bodyguards; taking charge of the single largest protective effort in the history of the Secret Service-Pope John Paul II's 1987 visit to the United States; and being only one of three witnesses at the private meeting between President Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev that ushered in the end of the Cold War.

Joseph Petro provides an original and fascinating perspective of the Secret Service, the inner workings of the White House and a little seen view of world leaders, as a man who stood next to history.
... Read more

11. First They Killed My Father : A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers
by Loung Ung
list price: $13.00
our price: $9.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060931388
Catlog: Book (2001-01-01)
Publisher: Perennial
Sales Rank: 34614
Average Customer Review: 4.52 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Until the age of five, Loung Ung lived in Phnom Penh, one of seven children of a high-ranking government official. She was a precocious child who loved the open city markets, fried crickets, chicken fights, and sassing her parents. When Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge army stormed into Phnom Penh in April 1975, Ung's family was forced to flee their home and hide their previous life of privilege. Eventually, they dispersed in order to survive. Loung was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans while her other siblings were sent to labor camps. Only after the Vietnamese destroyed the Khmer Rouge were Loung and her surviving siblings slowly reunited.

Bolstered by the shocking bravery of one brother and sustained by her sister's gentle kindness amid brutality, Loung forged ahead to create a courageous new life. Harrowing yet hopeful, insightful and compelling, this family's story is truly unforgettable.

... Read more

Reviews (110)

4-0 out of 5 stars First They Killed My Father
Book Review

"First They Killed My Father: A Daughter Of Cambodia Remembers" by Ms. Loung Ung. January 2000. HarperCollins Publishers, 256 pages.

Reviewed by Ronnie Yimsut Special to the Asian Reporter

Do you remember when you were just a child? What kind a childhood did you have? Do you still remember what kind of dream you have? What was it like for you when you were growing up?

These are some of the questions one should ponder before he or she is about to read a recently published book by Ms. Loung Ung. For Loung, a genocide survivor, her answer to these questions might have been simply as, "I never really have a childhood, with the exception of the brief happy moment I have with my family." Loung's childhood, like that of many other children in Cambodia-including this reviewer, was taken away completely by war and the Khmer Rouge's Killing Fields regime. Only loneliness, suffering, extreme hunger (starvation), and sadness seemed to accompany Loung's early childhood in Cambodia.

Forced to live and work as slave labors in a virtual "prison without a wall," Loung and her family endured every basic human rights abuse by a genocidal regime, following a long and agonizing forced march across Cambodia. Overworked, sickness, and starvation soon followed as her constant companions. One by one, her family members were dying. Her family unity was slowly and agonizingly breaking up piece-by-piece by the so called, "Angkar," the Khmer Rouge secretive or phantom organization. An older sister was the first to die of illness, as a direct result of overwork and starvation, in a primitive Communist hospital. Her father, a former government official, was the first to be taken away and subsequently executed. Her mother and the youngest sister survived long enough to endure more torture before the Khmer Rouge young and eager executioners also killed them. No one immune from the mass killing by the Khmer Rouge, including some of the loyal Khmer Rouge cadres and soldiers themselves.

Orphaned by age eight years old, young Loung managed to overcome the Khmer Rouge brain washing sessions and training to be a child soldier. They trained her to be just another obedient killer for Angkar, like so many others before her. But they failed miserably. She survived only by her wit and her own family members' love for one another, and the numerous sacrifices that were made. It was the formula needed to fence against a genocidal regime bent on destroying family unity and a civil society. Loung refused to give up. In the end, Loung strong will have triumphant against all odds.

Loung's memoir represents the story of countless other children in Cambodia who did not survive to tell of their fate, of their immense suffering before their untimely death. In telling her own story, Loung is in fact telling many other untold stories of the suffering and death of her fellow children in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge reign of terrors. She is the voice for many others who are no longer have a voice. As Loung often said, "By telling my own story of suffering to others who would listen, I am worthy of being alive."

Thank you for your courage and determination, Loung!

5-0 out of 5 stars A deeply moving story of courage and survival
In the beginning pages of "First They Killed My Father", the book is dedicated in memory of the two million people that were killed by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. The vastness of that number is hard to understand and comprehend, but by writing her book Loung Ung helps us to understand. By telling her story she speaks not only for herself; but for all of those other voices that will never again be heard. The story that she tells is especially heartbreaking, because it is a story of horror and brutality seen through the eyes of a child. Loung Ung was only 5 years old when the Khmer Rouge took control of Cambodia in 1975. Loung and her family; along with hundreds of thousands of other families from the capital city of Phnom Penh; were forced to leave their homes and to flee into the countryside. They witnessed the deliberate destruction of an entire society by the Khmer Rouge. Day to day life in Cambodia became a living nightmare. I felt a very deep sense of grief and sadness reading about the death of so many of the Cambodian people; and of the terrible suffering endured by Loung and her family. But beyond those feelings of sadness, there is much more within this book. There are many poignant moments in the book, that reaffirm the ultimate value of every human life. As you read Loung's story, every member of her family will be vividly brought to life before your eyes. The love, sacrifice, courage and kindness of Loung's family helped to give her the strength to survive. Loung's courageous heart has helped others to live too. This is a book that was written from the heart, and it is a story that you will always remember.

5-0 out of 5 stars My new favorite book
This is an absolutely wonderful book. I wish that I hadn't read it yet so I could go back and read it again for the first time. It is a haunting recount of the transition of Cambodia's government by Pol Pot and the Khmer rouge and an amazing story of the people who were able to survive it. Fantastic writing that keeps you glued to every page. THis book really makes you realize the lack our hardship in your own life.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Essential Reading
Forget Britney....And do you tend to complain of your life's miseries because you are not Britney? This is the kind of literature that makes you a different person, if you read it. You won't be the same, I promise. You'd appreciate the simplest of things in life...a drop of water, a grain of rice, a grain of sugar...and love and support from the family. It should be on a reading list for every students.

5-0 out of 5 stars Moved me so much on the human spirit
As I'm now travelling in the Southeast Asia I would want to read some books about this area. I found Ms Luong Ung's book in a bookstore in Nha Trang of Vietnam (original copy!). Once I started to read it I had to stop for some time to get some fresh air before I could finish it. The book was so greatly written but the story was so horrible, it's impossible to be unmoved by the knowledge that this is not a fiction but a real life story that happened at the time of my generation. I felt the sorrow when Ms Luong's father, and later her mother, were taken away by the Khmer Rough, I felt the happiness when she finally started a new life in America. I was born in Aug 1977 and it's somehow quite difficult to imagine that when I was well brought up in a peaceful place (in Hong Kong), then a girl and other children of my generation living very near to me would force to serve for the children army and suffer from great miseries and unspeakable carnage. This book definitely tells us how lucky we are, how precious a life can be, and how one politician's stupid idea would ruin so many lives and families. Thanks Ms Loung for writing such a great book to share her experience with all of us, it must have taken you great courage to tell us your story, which moved me so much on the human spirit. ... Read more


12. The Family : The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty
by Kitty Kelley
list price: $29.95
our price: $17.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385503245
Catlog: Book (2004-09-14)
Publisher: Doubleday
Sales Rank: 705
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Amazon.com

Kitty Kelley, author of exhaustive and highly unflattering biographies of Frank Sinatra, Jackie Onassis, and the British royal family,among others, has never received much cooperation from her subjects. Likewise, none was given for The First Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty, and it's not hard to understand why. In the book, the family that has produced two presidents as well as an assortment of other politicians, businesspeople, and a number of lesser-known black sheep is portrayed as a powerful empire that leverages wealth and influence to grow ever stronger while stringently covering up numerous instances of drug abuse, infidelity, poor judgment, and scandal. While charges about George W. Bush, including that he snorted cocaine at Camp David while his father was president, garnered the most attention upon the book's release, Kelley's history goes back several generations, detailing the rise to power of Senator Prescott Bush and his son, the first President Bush. Those seeking a salacious peek at the inner sanctum of a wealthy and powerful family will not be disappointed by The First Family--Kelley always delivers on that count--and will likely devour allegations of Barbara Bush's sour temperament, George H.W. Bush's long-standing affair with aide Jennifer Fitzgerald, and George W. Bush's obnoxious drunken frat boy days that stretched, according to Kelley, well into adulthood. Those seeking a rock-solid and airtight indictment of the Bushes, however, will be disappointed, since Kelley leans on anonymous sources and rumors for some of the juicier bits. Interestingly, although it tells the stories of a family built on politics, The First Family mostly avoids the subject, clearing the decks of all political substance in order to put the style on wider display. --John Moe ... Read more


13. Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life
by Jon Lee Anderson
list price: $20.00
our price: $14.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802135587
Catlog: Book (1998-04-01)
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic
Sales Rank: 1532
Average Customer Review: 4.57 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (90)

4-0 out of 5 stars A landmark biography
Even as I'm not a fan of Che Guevara's politics, the work that Jon Lee Anderson has put together about his life and career is truly commendable. He sorts out an incomprehensible amount of detailed information in a very linear, comprehensive, yet simple fashion.

The information he gained, some recorded for the first time ever, by gaining access to friends, relatives, and associates, as well as letters and diaries of Che Guevara, makes this work the definitive reference on the subject.

Like many on the political left, the author is obviously enamoured with Guevara and tends to portray his actions as noble, admirable and heroic. This is quite an interpretive presentation of Guevara, one with which many would disagree. Anderson does give glimpses of Guevara's personality that show the side of him that could be maniacal, dilatory, and restless, but even these are downplayed as the innocuous by products of a passionate man.

Because of this subjective portrayal in an otherwise very objective book, I cannot give it 5 stars. Still it's a remarkable, fascinating read and an amazingly authoritative and accomplished work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Simply the best
Having read the hardcover version of this book in the summer it was released it is good to see that the paperback version is available. Coming in at nearly 800 pages it is no easy weekend read but worth the time invested. Mr. Anderson has done extensive research, clarified inaccuracies in previous works by other authors on the life of Che and treats the subject of his life objectively. Mr.Anderson spent much of the time in Cuba rsearching this masterpiece, probably the dfinitive biography, with the help of Aleida March, his wife and her aide Maria del Carmen Ariet who together are probably the foremost experts on the life of Che Guevara. The story is complete from the birth of Che, his upbring and close relationship to his mother, the formative years, including his education and doctor training, his spirit for adventure as exemplified early on with his famous motorcycle excusion through South America, his fateful meeting with Fidel Castro and of course his participation in the overthrow of the Batista regime in Cuba and the aftermath which eventually would prove to be his demise. Many excellent reviews have been wriiten about this book and I only want to endorse the overwhelming positive majority and say that this book is a cut above the plethora of books about Che. If you have an interest in the life of one of the true revolutionary spirits of the 20th century this is a landmark book that answers many questions. An excellent book for the historian or someone just curious about the man known as Che. Mr. Anderson seperates fact from ficion and helps the reader understand the man from the myth. The human being is revealed and politics aside one comes away with compassion for the man who gave so much of himself, even his life,for the beliefs he held to be true. No greater love can a man display than to give of his life. Read this book, get to know Ernesto Guevara, the man known as Che.

1-0 out of 5 stars Troublemaker
First off, the recipes in this book are no bueno -- the Colonel makes chicken better than this, and that ain't saying much. Second, Che is still riding Fidel's coattails. Che was the Ethel to Castro's Lucy Ball.... Maybe smarter, but lacking in kooky charm... that we can feel superior yet protective toward. Che is boring, and his words seem antiquated today. 800 pages is way too much, for someone so unfunny... and an elite background at that... save the drama for your mama ,Che!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Revolutionary Life
Ernesto "Che" Guevara was a revolutionary. He was born in Argentina but never called the country home after his college years, studying medicine. Through his travels during his college years, he became aware of the povery and inequality in South America. This inspired him to fight for the equality he felt Marxism would bring. Che is known for his effect on the communist revolution in Cuba. He also fought in falied revolutions in Congo and Bolivia. It is safe to say that he is a man who impacted the world even if you do not agree with his political views. He is the man who invented guerrilla warfare.

John Lee Anderson's book is the definitive book on Che Guevara. At times, it is almost too detailed with its nearly 800 page length. In reality, a book being too detailed is a compliment. The pictures he chose to include in the text are outstanding. Many of the pictures have been in CIA possession for years, and unseen to the public.

While not directly a goal of the book, I enjoyed the insight this book gives into the relationship between Che and Fidel Castro. Anderson lets the reader draw conclusions rather than telling the reader what to think. While Castro believed in communism, Guevara was held policies more closely to the writing of Karl Marx. Che was willing to criticize policy if he felt it was not "Marxist enough". Unlike Castro, Che was willing to criticize the Soviet Union leaders for not living in the true equality that communism is intended to be.

Despite Cuba's rivalry with the United States, I found it odd that more was not mentioned about the Cuba Missle Crisis. Guevara detested the United States, so it seems he would have had more to say in the matter. If he did have more to say, little is mentioned in the book.

Because of its length, readers need some spare time to take in this whole book. The thoroughness of the product makes reading this book a rewarding experience.

5-0 out of 5 stars "most complete human being of our age" -- Sartre
Anderson's biography of Che Guevara was passionately researched. Within the pages of this large book are the most detailed accounts of Che Guevara's life. The book begins with a history of Che's upbringing and forces you to realize how much this man was truly like any other man. Anderson finds importance in the travels Che makes as a young man across South America. Journeys which eventually became 'The Motorcycle Diaries'. Detail is given to the periods of life that influenced his radicalization.

This was a man who felt deeply for the exploitation of his people. He dreamed of a tomorrow where man did not trample on one another through competition and greed. Che Guevara sacrificed his life for what he believed in. There is no death more honorable. In reading Jon Lee Anderson's biography of this enormous figure, you will fell sympathy for his cause, respect for his determination, and awe for his accomplishments on the battlefield and in his study. ... Read more


14. White House Nannies: True Tales from the Other Department of Homeland Security
by BarbaraKline
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1585424102
Catlog: Book (2005-05-05)
Publisher: Tarcher
Sales Rank: 1694
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The Nanny Diaries meets Primary Colors in this hilarious tell-all from the president and owner of White House Nannies, a nanny placement agency that caters to a host of influential people in our nation's capital.

Ah, to experience parenthood as the rich and powerful who have only to call in their Mary Poppinsesque nannies to pick up the pieces. But it's not all smooth ailing for those precious few either-and Barbara Kline should know. In the twenty years since she founded White House Nannies, Kline has handpicked and delivered nannies to elected officials, cabinet members, advisers to the President, and the media who report on their every move. White House Nannies is her laugh-out-loud account of what happens when these powerful parents find themselves at the mercy of tiny tyrants-and the nannies who offer their only hope of salvation.

From finding the "perfect nanny" to firing the "perfect nanny," from refereeing Mommy-nanny disputes to keeping mum about family secrets, Barbara Kline has seen it all. In this hilarious page-turner she takes readers on a delightful ride through the bottle-and-bib-strewn beltway.
... Read more

Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Client
Well, after hearing all of the buzz surrounding Barbara's book I knew I needed to go read it; and it certainly did not disappoint. Even as a client Kline alludes to, I could not stop laughing throughout the entire book. I will continue to recommend White House Nannies (Book or Agency) highly!

5-0 out of 5 stars An all-too-true look at today's power parenthood.
I laughed my way through this book. I also cringed more than once, seeing myself and the women around me all too clearly in Kline's clients. You don't have to be a D.C. power player to relate to the comedy-- and, oh yes, the tragedy-- of trying to keep your brilliant career going while raising a kid or kids. This book is a fun read, but I also came away from WHITE HOUSE NANNIES committed to making some much-needed cuts to my work schedule. Would that my own life may never serve as fodder for the likes of this brilliantly engaging book!

1-0 out of 5 stars Doesn't live up to its promise
For people who want dish--such as those of us who devoured Lynne Cheney's "Sisters"--this book will not satisfy.For people who must rush to pick up their children from daycare by 6 p.m. or risk a fine, do not read this book.It will kite your blood pressure.

The true playground-and-playgroup book about Washington has yet to be written.The most satisfying book in this canon remains "You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again," by a small-town girl who went to Los Angeles to become a nanny.Suzanne Hansen, I believe her name was, is precisely the sort of warm-hearted girl that Kline treats only as a commodity in this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great advice and a fun read.
A very well written book.

I loved this book.It was such a easy read I could not put it down.I laughed out loud so many times and at other times just stared at the pages with my mouth open. Flipping through the pages I could certainly relate to the plight of the working parent.With all the reality shows on tv about nannies, this book had a different twist on the whole parenting working family scenario, I highly recommend this book to anyone even if you are not a parent.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is a truly fun read!
This book is an intelligent and very funny look at the often wild world of child care. It's not only for the Washington crowd to guess who the players are, but every parent can recognize him or herself somewhere in this book. After reading this book you should feel much more comfortable with your own lot! It's an easy read that will make you laugh out loud.
... Read more


15. The Best Year of Their Lives: Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon in 1948: Learning the Secrets of Power
by Lance Morrow
list price: $26.00
our price: $17.16
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Asin: 0465047238
Catlog: Book (2005-03-01)
Publisher: Basic Books
Sales Rank: 4077
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

The Best Year of Their Lives is not a typical presidential biography in that it forgoes the comprehensive approach to history. Instead, Lance Morrow shows why 1948 was a watershed year not just for John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon personally, but for the nation as well. That is the year that Johnson, in his bid for the Senate, used huge sums of corporate money to bombard the media with lies about his opponent, finally stealing the election by 87 votes by having a ballot box stuffed (thus earning the nickname "Landslide Lyndon"). Had he lost, he would have arguably been out of politics forever and the course of history would have been changed. At the same time, Nixon, as a freshman congressman, launched his political career by using his seat on the House Un-American Activities Committee to relentlessly pursue Alger Hiss, making himself a prominent national figure in the process. (Four years later he became Eisenhower's running mate.) Meanwhile, Kennedy was working hard to suppress the fact that he had Addison's disease. He continued to lie about his health for the rest of his life just as he later hid his reckless personal behavior. Through anecdotes and analysis (including personal contact; all three were presences in Morrow's childhood), Morrow shows how secrets and lies were to shape the behavior of all of them. This "convergence of personal ambition with secrecy, amorality, and a ruthless manipulation of the truth" would have tremendous implications for the country. The events of 1948 also foreshadow the tragedies and scandals that would end all three of their administrations.

Externally, the three presidents were radically different. Internally, argues Morrow, they were identical in many ways in that they "shared a tendency toward elaborately deliberated amorality; all three behaved as if rules were for others, not for them." Along with a rapidly changing American society, the start of the Cold War, and looming atomic destruction, 1948 ushered in modern politics and these men were the embodiment of it. Absorbing and unconventional, The Best Year of Their Lives adds to the considerable bodies of work already available on all three presidents. --Shawn Carkonen ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Magisterial yet accessible - a new way of looking at history
Forget what "overblown silliness" says below. Lance Morrow's 1948 is one of the freshest, most insightful pieces of popular history to come around in ages. In looking at both the lives of JFK, LBJ, and Nixon in 1948 and the historical significance of that year for the United States as she really came into her own in the post-war world, Morrow gives an incredible insight both into the lives of the respective politicians, and the country itself.

What is most interesting, though, is that underlying all the post-war rah-rah optimism, Morrow captures a current of worry, of anxiety, and of moral unease: the US won World War II, Morrow suggests, but also lost a certain innocence in the process. New technologies (atom bombs, television) and a new breed of politician all came on the scene in this critical year, and Morrow's book captures it brilliantly.

This book is a must-read for anyone who is interested in modern American history, and how we became what we are today.

1-0 out of 5 stars Overblown silliness
This is truly one of the worst books ever written, a huge disappointment to anyone reading about U.S. domestic politics in the 20th century.The topic had great promise, but readers would be much better served picking up Christopher Matthews` book on Kennedy and Nixon or Robert Caro`s multi-volume biography of LBJ.Morrow`s prose is overwrought with far too much armchair psychologizing.He also has a dreadfully annoying, almost juvenile habit of using motion pictures to illustrate the points he wishes to make.It is a very unsuccessful literary device.Who at the publishers let this project see the light of day?

5-0 out of 5 stars Three Men Face Decisions in 1948 That Lead to Their Fate
This fascinating book chronicles a pivotal year in the lives of three ambitious politicians each of whom became President. In 1948, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon were all on the rise as young congressmen who according to author Lance Morrow, went to great pains - physically, psychologically and morally - to ensure their place on the American political scene.Like David Halberstam who wrote the classic "The Best and the Brightest", journalist Lance Morrow is able to shape a cohesive chapter of American history through seemingly unrelated events and brings a present-day relevance to what he writes.

LBJ won the U.S. senate seat for Texas by a highly suspicious 87 late-counted votes over the more popular Coke Stevenson. In one of the bellwether events of Communist witch-hunting, Nixon used the headline-grabbing Alger Hiss case as a springboard for national prominence, and it indeed led to him to become Eisenhower's running-mate in 1952. And JFK, despite the image of youthful vigor, was dealing with the death of his glamorous sister "Kick" (Kathleen) and hiding the debilitating effects of Addison's disease. Morrow does a superb job intertwining these three men by focusing on the secrets each kept to move to the next level of political ascendancy.Why this takes on a greater relevance is what the year 1948 represents in American history - the redefining period between the end of WWII and the crystallization of the Cold War. Many held secrets far larger in scope than these three. After all, the Cold War was all about Communist infiltration within the U.S. government, concealed knowledge courtesy of informers under the guise of friends, clandestine acts of espionage and who would end up detonating the A-bomb.That's why the secrets held by LBJ, JFK and Nixon seem so indicative of the prevalent behavior - LBJ did anything, no matter how unscrupulous, to take attention off the controversial votes that sent him off to the Senate; Nixon destroyed civil liberties and took witch-hunting to a new level with his obsessive pursuit of Hiss and Whittaker Chambers; and JFK went to great lengths to hide his medical condition knowing he would never otherwise have a chance to become President. Each drama turned on secrets.

What Morrow does best is show how the rather amoral behavior of each shaped each of their destinies and how each was challenged later on when Vietnam brought down LBJ and Watergate did the same for Nixon. Vietnam almost proved to be JFK's undoing, though we'll never know as his life was cut short in Dallas. Each was not so much into breaking rules as much as they saw them as irrelevant to them. Their shared priority was in creating their legacies no matter the cost. 1948 saw many more prominent turning points - Gandhi's assassination, the birth of Israel, the Kinsey Report was published - but this comprehensive history book really shows how the next generation of leaders were formed and ultimately damaged by the decisions they made at that critical juncture.Strongly recommended. ... Read more


16. Madam Secretary: A Memoir
by Madeleine Albright
list price: $27.95
our price: $18.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786868430
Catlog: Book (2003-09-16)
Publisher: Miramax Books
Sales Rank: 2168
Average Customer Review: 3.68 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"It was a quarter to ten. I was sipping coffee, but by then my body was manufacturing its own caffeine. I still couldn't allow myself to believe. Finally, at 9:47, the call came. 'I want you to be my Secretary of State.' These are his first words. I finally believed it."

For eight years, during Bill Clinton's two presidential terms, Madeleine Albright was an active participant in the most dramatic events of recent times—from the pursuit of peacein the Middle East to NATO's humanitarian intervention in Kosovo. Now, in an outspoken memoir, the highest-ranking woman in American history shares her remarkable story and provides an insider's view of world affairs during a period of unprecedented turbulence.

The story begins with Albright's childhood as a Czechoslovak refugee, whose family first fled Hitler, then the Communists. Arriving in the United States at the age of eleven, she grew up to be a passionate advocate of civil and women's rights and followed a zigzag path to a career that ultimately placed her in the upper stratosphere of diplomacy and policy-making in her adopted country. She became the first woman to serve as America's secretary of state and one of the most admired individuals of our era.

Refreshingly candid, Madam Secretary brings to life the world leaders Albright dealt with face-to-face in her years of service and the battles she fought to prove her worth in a male-dominated arena. There are intriguing portraits of such leading figures as Vaclav Havel, Yasser Arafat, Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu, King Hussein, Vladimir Putin, Slobodan Milosevic, and North Korea's mysterious Kim Jong-Il, as well as Bill and Hillary Clinton, Colin Powell, and Jesse Helms.

Besides her encounters with the famous and powerful, we get to know Albright the private woman: her life raising three daughters, the painful breakup of her marriage to the scion of one of America's leading newspapers families, and the discovery late in life of her Jewish ancestry and that her grandparents had died in Nazi concentration camps.

Madam Secretary combines warm humor with profound insights and personal testament with fascinating additions to the historical record. It is a tapestry both intimate and panoramic, a rich memoir destined to become a twenty-first century classic. ... Read more

Reviews (41)

3-0 out of 5 stars A Far-Ranging Autobiography --- Readers Will Learn Much
In winding up her far-ranging autobiography, Madeleine Albright tells us with amusement that once, after leaving office as U.S. Secretary of State, she was mistaken in public for Margaret Thatcher.

It's worth a chuckle to the reader --- but there are indeed interesting similarities between the two women, even though their political leanings are light-years apart. They both reached the highest rank ever attained by a woman in their respective democratic governments, were fiercely partisan political figures, and held very strong opinions and were never afraid to battle for them (Albright's favorite expression for this is that she never hesitated to "push back" at those who opposed her).

Albright is best known for serving as U.S. ambassador to the UN in the first Clinton term, and as Secretary of State in the second. Readers of this book will learn in detail about the early years and long political apprenticeship that led up to those two high-profile jobs. They will also learn, in perhaps more detail than they care to absorb, about the many foreign policy crises in which she was a major player under Clinton.

The other thing about Albright that most people will recall is that only after she became Secretary of State did she learn that her family ancestry was Jewish --- that three of her grandparents had died in Nazi concentration camps. This personal revelation is duly covered but not dwelled upon in extraordinary detail.

Her life, though unsettled due to wartime exigencies, was not a rags-to-riches tale. She was born Marie Jana Korbel in Prague into a comfortably situated family. Her father was a respected Czech diplomat and college professor. Fleeing the Nazis, the family spent time in England during World War II. They arrived in the United States when she was 11, and her father took a teaching job in Denver. She entered Wellesley College in 1955 and became an American citizen two years later. She married into a wealthy and well-connected American family in 1959. Her first political idol and mentor was Edmund Muskie, in whose doomed presidential campaign she took part. After the breakup of her marriage, her career in government and politics took off during the Carter presidency, her only personal setback being a painful divorce in 1983.

This is all dispatched in the first 100 pages or so of her lengthy book. The rest of it details her UN and State Department years with a thoroughness that seems at times compulsive. All the heroes and villains of those years pass in review --- Carter, Havel, Milosevic, Helms, Clinton, Putin, Arafat, Barak. The complexities of Rwanda, Serbia, Kosovo, the Middle East, Somalia and other trouble spots are laid out in prose that can get ponderous --- but her incisive personal portraits of these people lighten the mood.

Albright makes no pretense to real objectivity. She is a committed Democrat who admired both Carter and Clinton, and she defends them against all the charges that have been flung at them by their opponents. She defends such controversial actions as Clinton's successful ousting of Boutros Boutros-Ghali as Secretary General of the UN, and his policy of opening up trade with China and warily seeking a somewhat civil relationship with North Korea. Her two biggest regrets are the failure of the UN to stop genocide in Rwanda and Clinton's failure to forge a solid peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (in that regard, while gently critical of Israel on occasion, she holds Arafat mainly responsible for the breakdown). The two biggest villains in her cast of characters, not surprisingly, are Arafat and Milosevic.

There is naturally a strong feminist slant to her narrative. There is also a vein of sharp observation, character analysis, and even humor. The writing, when not bogged down in the minutiae of crisis management, can be bright, though we are left to wonder how much of the credit is hers and how much belongs to her collaborator, Bill Woodward.

Mercifully, Monica Lewinsky remains a bit player in Albright's narrative. Two other things, perhaps more important, are also missing: detailed assessments of the effect of the 9/11 tragedy on America's global course and the George W. Bush administration. Those would have made an already long book longer, but one wishes she had covered them anyway.

--- Reviewed by Robert Finn

5-0 out of 5 stars Exemplary
Madam Secretary is a wonderful capsule of a remarkable life and highly recommended for anyone who is as much of a current affairs geek as I am. While most will be drawn to read this book because of the insights Ms. Albright provides into the Clinton Administration's roles in the Middle East conflict, Kosovo, and North Korea - all of which are discussed in fascinating detail - some of the most compelling (and poignant) sections of the book have to do with her pain associated with the sudden dissolution of her marriage, the discovery of her Jewish ancestry, and her life in Czechoslovakia as a young girl.

Ms. Albright's narrative voice is warm and inviting and utterly without pretension. This is my vote for the best non-fiction book of 2003.

4-0 out of 5 stars An inside view...
Madeleine Albright led a remarkable life - fleeing as a child across war-torn Europe, first from the invading Germans and then from the invading Soviets, the little girl from Prague came to America before a teenager, and ended up becoming the first female Secretary of State in American history (although, interestingly, not even the first non-American-born Secretary of State in the last half century!). She reinvented herself as an American, someone who fell deeply in love with her adopted country, even to the extent that her name Madeleine, isn't the one with which she was christened (although it is the French version of her name, and thus we are reading the memoirs of Madeleine, not Marie Jana Korbel).

She weaves together her personal life and insights together with the professional experiences she has had throughout her various careers, culminating with the office of Secretary of State for several years in Bill Clinton's administration. Her father, part of the Czech government-in-exile, immigrated to America and became a professor (interestingly, one of his student was Condalezza Rice, one of the principle voices in foreign affairs in the current Bush administration). Albright thus had training from the very beginning in terms of both academic and practical aspects of governments and diplomacy.

Albright's academic credentials are impressive, and her experiences in school shaped her later career. For undergraduate work, she studied at Wellesley College in Political Science, and then went to the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. She finished her formal education at Columbia, receiving a Certificate from the Russian Institute, and her Masters and Doctorate from the Department of Public Law and Government. This is also where she got involved with political and media affairs in earnest.

She was a White House staffer, including staffing the National Security Council, during Carter's presidency; during the 12-year Republican administrations in Washington, her career focused on the Center for National Policy, a non-profit liberal think-tank/research organization formed in 1981 looking at issues in domestic and foreign policy. This gave her continued presence in the field so that when the time came, Clinton tapped her to be the ambassador to the United Nations, and then later Secretary of State.

She met and married Joseph Albright, part of a wealthy media family, and recounts in some detail and emotion the difficulties with the breakup of that relationship. She also confesses an affair with a Georgetown professor, and other difficult times in her life. However, these take a back seat most of the time to her professional career.

Albright makes the claim to have not discovered her Jewish ancestry until late in life; there is reason to discount this belief, given that she is the kind of person likely to know the details of her background, and given that she visited family back in Czechoslovakia back in the 1960s. Reasons for not wanting to be identified as being of Jewish descent during her career are unclear, but in an otherwise very straightforward autobiographical account, this one point seems less than convincing.

Albright does reflect with candor on many world leaders, including her boss Bill Clinton, and his wife Hillary; few of the key names of the 90s are missed here. Ultimately, one comes across with the impression of a erudite diplomat, a skillful politicians, and a sincere worker for the best interests of the nation.

5-0 out of 5 stars Smooth, captivating and thoughtful
A fascinating story of a remarkable person who has served her country well.

3-0 out of 5 stars Filling in What the Media Neglects
If your interesting in knowing the truth about one of the 1990s most important foreign policy personalities, this book won't necessarily help. While it is an easy read with lots of details about what was happening behind closed doors, Ms. Albright also spun it to her own advantages. But that is to be expected. Considering her harsh handing at the hands of the right wing, it is good to get her point of view. ... Read more


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

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

Reviews (109)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three stars.

Jack in Toronto

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

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


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

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

Reviews (172)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Reviews (281)

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

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

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

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

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

Bert Ruiz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Reviews (29)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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