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    $16.50 $15.10 list($25.00)
    1. Becoming Justice Blackmun : Harry
    $17.13 $14.00 list($25.95)
    2. One Soldier's Story : A Memoir
    $17.16 list($26.00)
    3. Perfectly Reasonable Deviations
    $16.47 $14.74 list($24.95)
    4. Garlic and Sapphires : The Secret
    $23.10 list($35.00)
    5. American Prometheus : The Triumph
    $9.71 $6.57 list($12.95)
    6. Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man,
    $13.96 $8.90 list($19.95)
    7. Reminiscences of a Stock Operator
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    8. Take Big Bites: Adventures Around
    $19.77 $19.76 list($29.95)
    9. My Life as a Quant : Reflections
    $16.47 $14.88 list($24.95)
    10. iCon Steve Jobs : The Greatest
    $13.77 $12.99 list($22.95)
    11. Big Russ and Me: Father and Son--Lessons
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    12. The Smartest Guys In The Room:
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    13. Confessions of an Economic Hit
    $23.10 $23.09 list($35.00)
    14. John Kenneth Galbraith : His Life,
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    15. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
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    16. Incompleteness: The Proof and
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    17. Liar's Poker: Rising Through the
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    18. Take the Cannoli : Stories From
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    19. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering
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    20. Inside the Wire : A Military Intelligence

    1. Becoming Justice Blackmun : Harry Blackmun's Supreme Court Journey
    by Linda Greenhouse
    list price: $25.00
    our price: $16.50
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 080507791X
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-02)
    Publisher: Times Books
    Sales Rank: 539
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    A Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent with unprecedented access to the inner workings of the U.S. Supreme Court chronicles the personal transformation of a legendary justice

    From 1970 to 1994, Justice Harry A. Blackmun (1908-1999) wrote numerous landmark Supreme Court decisions, including Roe v. Wade, and participated in the most contentious debates of his era-all behind closed doors. In Becoming Justice Blackmun, Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times draws back the curtain on America's most private branch of government and reveals the backstage story of the Supreme Court through the eyes and writings of this extraordinary justice.

    Greenhouse was the first print reporter to have access to Blackmun's extensive archive and his private and public papers. From this trove she has crafted a compelling narrative of Blackmun's years on the Court, showing how he never lost sight of the human beings behind the legal cases and how he was not afraid to question his own views on such controversial issues as abortion, the death penalty, and sex discrimination. Greenhouse also tells the story of how Blackmun's lifelong friendship with Chief Justice Warren E. Burger withered in the crucible of life on the nation's highest court, revealing how political differences became personal, even for the country's most respected jurists.

    Becoming Justice Blackmun, written by America's preeminent Supreme Court reporter, offers a rare and wonderfully vivid portrait of the nation's highest court, including insights into many of the current justices. It is a must-read for everyone who cares about the Court and its impact on our lives.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (7)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Blackmun maximized the product and so has Greenhouse
    Blackmun was clearly a man who maximized the product.Linda Greenhouse doesn't quite explain how this rather unprepossessing figure achieved such high office.He was bright and industrious, to be sure, but so were many others.He was not a strong personality or even particularly personable or outgoing.But in one respect at least, Blackmun seems to have been truly extraordinary--his penchant from an early age for recording the events of his life and collecting almost every note, letter or document which related to it--as if he knew and were determined to become someone of substance.Indeed, Greenhouse tells us that Blackmun's collection comprises more than one and a half million items, is contained in some 1585 boxes, and takes up more than 600 feet of shelf space in the Library of Congress.

    Greenhouse makes wonderful use of this massive collection, writing a remarkably spare yet elegant narrative of what she quite rightly calls "a consequential life," one that spanned the twentieth century and left its mark not only on the law but on American society.Blackmun's bookish reticence may not make him very attractive or interesting to the general reader, but for those seeking a better understanding of the modern Supreme Court and some of its Justices, this volume is as invaluable as it is fascinating.We see Blackmun increasingly determined to do justice as much as to apply the law, with Greenhouse focusing on his opinions having to do with abortion, capital punishment, and sex discrimination.We see Blackmun grow totally estranged from Chief Justice Warren Burger, his closest childhood friend at whose wedding he served as best man.We see Blackmun relate more closely to his young law clerks, some of whom seem to have authored the most memorable lines in his opinions.

    Someone else will have to research and interview more widely to write the definitive, full-length biography and survey Blackmun's entire judicial career.But we owe much to Greenhouse for this wonderful and most timely introduction.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The evolution of a great justice
    Linda Greenhouse has written an extraordinary book about the life and career of one of the great Supreme Court justices of our time, Harry A. Blackmun. In doing so she has given us, in "Becoming Justice Blackmun", a remarkable behind-the-scenes look at not only Blackmun but the interaction among the justices of the court. She succeeds brilliantly.

    Blackmun's encounter with destiny was certainly not in the cards early on for this man from Minnesota. Greenhouse explores Blackmun's early career and most notably his longtime friendship with Warren E. Burger, with whom he would serve on the Supreme Court for sixteen years. Their friendship is a central theme in her book...a friendship that would falter and eventually dissolve. At every turn the author's narrative flows warmly and vividly as she paints a most impressive picture of the man who would become the center of controversy in Roe v. Wade. Greenhouse reflects accurately on Blackmun, a shy, soft-spoken man, whose studious manner often led to agonizing decisions. Nonetheless, those decisions were carefully crafted and always thoughtful.

    This could have been a dry effort on Greenhouse's part but she spices it up with tales of humor. Like kids at school, the justices passed amusing notes back and forth among themselves and even had a betting pool for the 1992 presidential election. It has always been rumored that the court closely follows presidential elections but I had no idea that they took it this far!

    What emerges finally is the author's extensive research and knowledge of not only the court but Blackmun, especially. Through detailed accounts of some of the most important court cases (effectively explained for those of us who are not accustomed to the law) she connects those cases with Blackmun's personal reflections about them and how he dealt with other justices. Blackmun was unflappable at times but willing to make changes in his own arguments when necessary. Greenhouse covers all of this with obvious admiration for her subject but with an objectivity that lends itself to an impartial overall view of Harry Blackmun.

    "Becoming Justice Blackmun" is a tour de force. There are few opportunities to have such a look at the Supreme Court and its inner workings and having been granted an opportunity to write this book, Linda Greenhouse has made a significant contribution to our nation's history.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A marvelously insightful synthesis
    In this compact and beautifully written book, Linda Greenhouse traces the evolution and growth of Justice Blackmun through the development of several crucial lines of Supreme Court cases.Featuring seldom revealed behind the scenes events drawn from the Justice's private papers, the reader is treated to a tremendously interesting, yet easy to follow, history of the progression of various areas of constitutional law, intertwined with the fascinating disintegration of the life-long relationship between Justice Blackmun and Chief Justice Warren Burger.This book clearly merits the excellent reviews it has received.

    2-0 out of 5 stars History attempted by Journalists is always disappointing
    Linda Greenhouse has done careful research, and as she herself notes, her 264-page treatise on Harry Blackmun chooses certain foci and not others. She makes no claim to exhaustiveness.

    This notwithstanding, with the exception of a beginning that tells us rather matter-of-factly about some of young Harry's experiences, the book reads like a chronological laundy list of Blackmun's approach to issues he faced on the 8th Circuit COurt of Appeals and then on the Supreme Court. Greenhouse tries to spice it up a little by adding her take on the genuinely compelling story of the breakup of the friendship between Blackmun and his lifelong compatriot Chief Justice Burger. Even here, though, she doesn't follow any leads, doesn't bring compelling psychological realism to the page, and maintains a monotone narrative. It is a journalist trying to report rather than a historian or biographer reporting and analyzing that gives this tome it's horribly dry flavor.

    Greenhouse's book does provide useful information and is instructive, but more so to the armchair Supreme Court scholar than to any serious scholar or anyone looking for a good read. What a wonderful subject, what a compelling title, and what a mediocre disappointing little book that could have been so much better. Greenhouse should stick to reporting on the Supreme Court and stay away from longer narratives. Nina Totenberg would have done so much better!

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Changed Man
    This is a remarkable books in so many ways.As other reviews have indicated this is not intended to be a complete biography but rather information gleaned from a review of the archives of Justice Blackmun

    LInda Greenhouse focused mainly on three topic.The first is the ending of a friendship between Justice Blackmun and Chief Justice Burger.The two men grew up together.Burger was the leader bringing Justice Blackmun with him. When Justice Blackmun arrived at the Supreme Court he slowly became his own man and the friendship falls apart.In her reliance on the Blackmun papers only we can only see one side of the fissure but even that shows when old friends go their own way it often is done by small slights that in each detail is irrelevant but together are significant.

    The second theme is the change in Blackmun"sattitude toward the death penalty. In small steps the responsibilities of the Court required Blackmun to more fully understand the implications of the penalty until finally he no longer could support it.Again the change is beautifully detailed and we feel from his writing as portrayed by Ms Greenhouse the depth of the change.In this portion of the book we learn how difficult it is to predict how sitting on the Court will change people.As we see the selection process for a new justices begin we should remember that people do grow with responsibilities and not to be to quick to characterize a nominee.

    The last focus and the most detailed portion of the book is the identification of Justice Blackmun with the Roe decision which he wrote. Starting from the beginning of the research at Mayo Clinic the focus of the decision was the protection of doctors.As Blackmun developed his view he became more concerned about the rights of woman.Roe became his legacy and he worked hard and even stayed on the Court longer to be sure the case was not reversed.

    The book also provides a wonderful insight on how the Court operates.Justices that have different views are friendly.The letters and the notes between the justices are fascinating.

    The theme is the change in Blackmum as he served.The lesson is that as we watch the Court we forget that the justices can change and that there is enormous pride in the institution.

    In summary this is a wonderful book by an author who obviously respects her subject ... Read more


    2. One Soldier's Story : A Memoir
    by Bob Dole
    list price: $25.95
    our price: $17.13
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0060763418
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-12)
    Publisher: HarperCollins
    Sales Rank: 420
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Download Description

    "

    Before he became one of America's most respected statesmen, Bob Dole was an average citizen serving heroically for his country. The bravery he showed after suffering near-fatal injuries in the final days of World War II is the stuff of legend. Now, for the first time in his own words, Dole tells the moving story of his harrowing experience on and off the battlefield, and how it changed his life.

    Speaking here not as a politician but as a wounded G.I., Dole recounts his own odyssey of courage and sacrifice, and also honors the fighting spirit of the countless heroes with whom he served. Heartfelt and inspiring, One Soldier's Story is the World War II chronicle that America has been waiting for.

    " ... Read more

    Reviews (18)

    2-0 out of 5 stars Not Enough Here
    Given the favorable press coverage this book has gotten, I was expecting something really dramatic, personal and revealing in a human sort of way. But I found there's really not much here. What there is you can get by reading the book reviews, and save yourself some money.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Soldier's Story & A memoir of a career in government.
    Dole's autobiography is very revealing and more educational than any government school.

    Bob Dole was born in Russell, Kansas, in 1923.He was elected as U.S. representative from Kansas in 1960 and served four terms. In 1968 he was elected to the U.S. Senate. Dole was Gerald Ford's running mate in Ford's unsuccessful presidential campaign (1976) and campaigned unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980 and 1988. He has served as Senate majority leader (1985-87, 1995 to 1996) and minority leader (1987-95).In other words Dole was a career politician.

    It is clear from the book that being a career politician is probably related to the fact that two weeks before the end of WWII, Dole was severely wounded and remained disabled for life.

    He is not a gifted writer--his prose is often stilted, and he resorts too easily to cliches.That also sums up his political career.He gives no hints of understanding free market economics nor the need for cutting government.Dole shows why the Republican Party is a lost cause for liberty.

    People sometimes mistakenly say that Dole is "conservative" but that is misleading. Dole served in the Senate for 27 years and government did nothing but grow.Dole exemplifies what is known as the "greatest spending generation."

    Dole was the Republican candidate for president in 1996 against Bill Clinton.Given the choice between two big socialists, the voters went with the more charismatic Clinton. Even before Clinton, no republican president had ever cut the size and scope of government. Dole never got his chance to show that he could preside over massive socialism as president. Even so, his fellow republican-socialists are now twice as socialistic as Clinton was (in social spending alone).

    The only way that Dole can be called biased is that he drones on about socialists (Democrats and Republicans) and ignores anyone who wants to cut government (Libertarians).

    Bob Dole is stuck in silly left-right political analysis, as taught in government schools. He is still unaware of the Nolan chart or Diamond chart. He uses the word "liberal" unprofessionally to mean "left." His habit forgets the etymology of "liberal" for "liberty" (against government and for laissez-faire capitalism). That bad habit explains why republicans and democrats are the same: socialists.Bob Dole is an example of why government schools are unconstitutional and must end.

    Dole doesn't do well addressing the massive growth in government in the USA. It seems like Dole doesn't think that government in the USA is big enough yet.

    Dole is not libertarian and he uses the misnomer "public schools" to mean "government schools."No one would trust the government to tell the truth if it published books like Dole's. Why would the government tell the truth in government schools?

    Dole doesn't have a problem with "patriotism" and the pledge of allegiance. Big problem: Dole don't arise each morning to gather with neighbors and robotically chant, as he only "loves" the pledge when government's schools lead children in robotic chanting every morning for twelve years of their lives upon the ring of a bell, like Pavlov's lapdogs of the state. Did I mention that Dole is an example of why government schools are unconstitutional and have destroyed a "free press" and why government schools must end?

    Dole book suggests that he doesn't know that the pledge was written by a socialist (Francis Bellamy) in the USA and that the original salute was a straight-arm salute (as shown in web image searches for "original socialist salute"). Dole should know because he was born in 1923 and lived through the pledge's use of the Nazi-style salute (it changed in 1942). Dole doesn't know of the news-breaking discovery by the historian Rex Curry that the straight-arm salute of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazis) came from the USA's pledge of allegiance and military salute, and not from ancient Rome.Dole seems unaware that Bellamy put flags in every school to promote a government takeover of education for widespread nationalization and socialism.

    Dole is an example of why some educated socialists (socialists who know the origin of the pledge) laugh at so-called "conservatives," because socialists presume that conservatives like Dole have been duped into supporting socialism and is ignorant of the pledge's socialist past.

    Francis Bellamy and his cousin and cohort Edward Bellamy were national socialists who idolized the military and wanted to nationalize the entire US economy, including all schools. It was a philosophy that led to the socialist Wholecaust (of which the Holocaust was a part) where millions were murdered (62 million by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, 35 million by the Peoples' Republic of China, 21 million by the National Socialist German Workers' Party) in the worst slaughter in history. That is why the Bellamys are known as America's Nazis.All Holocaust Museums could expand four-fold with Wholecaust Museums.

    Bellamy believed that government schools with pledges and flags were needed to brainwash children to embrace nationalism, militarism, and socialism.

    Bellamy wanted the government to takeover everything and impose the military's "efficiency," as he said. It is the origin of the modern military-socialist complex.

    Bellamy wanted a flag over every school because he wanted to nationalize and militarize everything, including all schools, and eliminate all of the better alternatives. During Bellamy's time the government was taking over education.

    Bellamy wanted government schools to ape the military.Government schools were intended to create an "industrial army" (another Bellamy phrase, and the word "army" was not metaphorical) and to help nationalize everything else.

    Because of the Bellamy way of thinking, government-schools spread and they mandated segregation by law and taught racism as official policy and did so even after the National Socialists were defeated, and well beyond.

    Thereafter, the government's segregation legacy caused more police-state racism of forced busing that destroyed communities and neighborhoods and deepened hostilities.

    Because of the Bellamy way of thinking, government-schools spread and they mandated the Nazi-style salute by law, flags in every classroom, and daily robotic chanting of the pledge of allegiance in military formation like Pavlov's lapdogs of the state.

    The bizarre practices served as an example for three decades before they were adopted by the National Socialist German Workers' Party.

    When Jesse Owens competed in the 1936 Olympics in Germany, his neighbors attended segregated government schools where they saluted the flag with the Nazi salute.

    As under Nazism, children in the USA (including Jehovah's Witnesses and blacks and the Jewish and others) attended government schools where segregation was imposed by law, where racism was taught as official policy, and where they were required by law to perform the Nazi salute and robotically chant a pledge to a flag. If they refused, then they were persecuted and expelled from government schools and had to use the many better alternatives. There were also acts of physical violence.

    The hypnotic "Sieg Heil" salute to a flag symbol mesmerized Americans long before it brainwashed Germans.

    Jehovah's Witnesses were among the first people to publicly fight the government and its pledge ritual in the USA, during the same time that they fought it in Nazi Germany.They eventually achieved total victory over Nazi socialism.They achieved only partial victory over similar socialism in the USA.The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that they could not be forced to perform the pledge.Laws still make teachers lead children in robotic chants of the socialist's pledge daily, on cue from the government. Jehovah's Witnesses and other children in government schools must watch the ritual performed by others.

    The pledge gesture was altered and explicit school segregation by government ended. The Government's schools still exist, the federal flag brands government schools, and government's teachers must chant the pledge daily. Students are kept ignorant of the pledge's original salute and history.That is why the pledge still exists.

    The USA also continued its Nazi numbering (social security from 1935) and its robotic pledge, with no stopping.

    Today, the USA numbers babies, and government schools demand the numbers for enrollment, and the numbers track homes, workplaces, incomes, finances, and more, for life.School laws still tout the daily pledge, a bizarre ritual shunned by every other country.

    Dole has discussed plans for "reform" of social security that would invest social security taxes in private businesses. At the height of Nazi power, the USA's government deliberately stepped onto the same path with national numbering imposed in 1935 with the social security system.The federal government was growing massively and attempting to nationalize the economy in many ways.The US Supreme Court struck down much of the new legislation as unconstitutional until the craven FDR pressured the Court into the "switch in time that socialized nine."

    New social security reform ideas are so-called "privatization" plans that would nationalize all businesses, in addition to schools. It would impress the Bellamys.Dole does not have the ethics to discuss the other side of the issue (the proper side): ending government involvement in education, and ending the social security scam, its taxes and its Nazi numbering.If the antidisestablishmentarianism does not end, then the USA's police state will grow.

    Dole has another bad habit: overuse of the hackneyed word "Nazi" so much that it might cause one to wonder if he knows what the abbreviation abbreviates. Many people forget that "Nazi" means "National Socialist German Workers' Party," and one reason people forget is because the word "Nazi" is overused by politicians like Dole who rarely or never say the actual name of the horrid party.A good mnemonic device is that the sick socialist swastika represented two overlapping "S" letters for "socialism" under the National Socialist German Workers' Party.

    Overall, Dole's book was very revealing and educational and worth the time to review.Let's hope for a more enlightened sequel in the future.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Story of a Different Time
    This book is noteworthy as it is a public figure who has written a book without bragging about himself or supporting his current positions or causes.Dole is a retired politician who in his year's of reflection decides to write about the most significant event of his life, his service in WWII, the subsequent life-threatening injury, growing up in middle-century America and the support he received to overcome this devastating injury.

    This is a simple book that could have been written by thousands of WWII vets.Unfortunately, they are not famous and Bob is so in many respects Dole is writing it for them.He writes this book with no ego and no political agenda.In fact, he writes of his relationships across party lines and as he discusses his involvement with the WWII War Memorial there are great discussions on his excellent relationship with Bill Clinton.

    Where this book is most fascinating is describing his struggles going to college and the mindset of Americans as Pearl Harbor is bombed.Then you see the thought process of these young men as they decide whether to enlist and what should they attempt to do in the armed services.Pre-battle training is covered extensively but mainly from the standpoint of relationships with family through the letters included.Unfortunately, Dole's time in battle was limited as he is wounded almost immediately.So whole the build-up of this battle is compelling, it ends quickly.Then the amazing tale of how he was rescued at great risk and somehow managed to survive is told in great detail.Most Americans know he was injured but how many know of the months he was laid up paralyzed?Or the life threatening infections he fought off with experimental drugs?

    This book is not for everyone.If you are looking for a war book, this isn't it.Political intrigue and partisan politics?Pass on this read.But to reflect family life in a simpler America and the struggles of the heroic WWII soldiers, this is an excellent book and well worth the read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Soldier's Story, Not the Politicians
    Note the title, this is a soldier's story. Bob Dole spent most of his life as a politician, but that's another story, another book. This is the story of Bob Dole's military career and the aftermath of being wounded in combat.

    This story is one of courage and the continual battle to regain what was lost on a mountain in Italy. Bob Dole is a member of what has been called the Greatest Generation. And regardless of what you might think of his politics, he is a great member of that generation.

    Also surprising is his humor that comes out in his writing. His is not the dour even sullen personality that came across in the election. His is more the Bob Dole being asked for ID in the American Express commercial.

    We are now engaged in a foreign war where young men are coming back horribly wounded. Here is a story of inspiration and hope for them.

    5-0 out of 5 stars NotDole the politician
    This is a book well worth reading.
    Let me say at the outset that I have issues with Dole the politician but this is about Dole the man.
    It is a very human book that tells the story of an average American, a good citizen, a soldier and a man having to deal with a crippling injury.
    It is an unflinching look at how an average life can becomeremarkable life and a story of human endurance and courage.
    Inspiring. ... Read more


    3. Perfectly Reasonable Deviations From The Beaten Track: The Letters Of Richard P. Feynman
    by Richard P. Feynman
    list price: $26.00
    our price: $17.16
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0738206369
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-30)
    Publisher: Basic Books
    Sales Rank: 227711
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    Book Description

    An extraordinary volume of never-before-published letters written by one of America's most beloved scientists.

    Richard P. Feynman, brilliant physicist and beloved teacher, is an iconic figure in the world of science. Born in 1918 in Brooklyn, Feynman received his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1942. Despite his youth, he played an important part in the Manhattan Project during World War II, going on to teach at both Cornell and the California Institute of Technology, and winning the Nobel Prize in physics in 1965 for his research in quantum electrodynamics. Many remember his work on the Challenger commission, in particular his famous O-ring experiment, which required nothing more than a glass of ice water. Besides his work as a physicist, Feynman was at various times an artist, dancer, bongo player, and lock picker.

    While there have been many books celebrating his myriad scientific achievements and personal eccentricities, his personal correspondence has remained largely hidden from view buried in the archive at Caltech or locked in a box in his daughter's Pasadena home. Now, for the first time, we have the privilege of reading his wonderful letters to students, long-lost relatives, former lovers, crackpots, colleagues, and die-hard fans. From his early love letters to his first wife Arline, who died at Los Alamos of tuberculosis, to his decades-long attempt to resign from the National Academy of Sciences, Feynman shares his views on feminism, fatherhood and everything in between. These letters, which span a full half-century, tell the story of a marvelous and inventive life, and reveal the pathos and wisdom of a man many felt close to but few really knew. By turns abrasive and charming, intimate and inspiring, we see the many sides of Richard Feynman, and treasure him all the more. ... Read more


    4. Garlic and Sapphires : The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise
    by RuthReichl
    list price: $24.95
    our price: $16.47
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1594200319
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-07)
    Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The
    Sales Rank: 109
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    Fans of Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me with Apples know that Ruth Reichl is a wonderful memoirist--a funny, poignant, and candid storyteller whose books contain a happy mix of memories, recipes, and personal revelations.
    Amazon.com Interview
    We chewed the fat with Ruth.Read our interview.
    What they might not fully appreciate is that Reichl is an absolute marvel when it comes to writing about food--she can describe a dish in such satisfying detail that it becomes unnecessary for readers to eat. In her third memoir, Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise, Reichl focuses on her life as a food critic, dishing up a feast of fabulous meals enjoyed during her tenure at The New York Times. As a critic, Reichl was determined to review the "true" nature of each restaurant she visited, so she often dined incognito--each chapter of her book highlights a new disguise, a different restaurant (including the original reviews from the Times), and a fresh culinary adventure. Garlic and Sapphires is another delicious and delightful book, sure to satisfy Reichl's foodie fans and leave admirerers looking forward to her next book, hopefully about her life with Gourmet. --Daphne Durham

    More from Ruth Reichl

    Tender at the Bone

    Comfort Me with Apples

    The Gourmet Cookbook

    Remembrance of Things Paris

    Endless Feasts

    Gourmet magazine


    Amazon.com's The Significant Seven
    Ruth Reichl answers the seven questions we ask every author.


    Q: What book has had the most significant impact on your life?
    A: Kate Simon’s New York Places and Pleasures. I read it as a little girl and then went out and wandered the city. She was a wonderful writer, and she taught me not only to see New York in a whole new way, but to look, and taste, beneath the surface.

    Q: You are stranded on a desert island with only one book, one CD, and one DVD--what are they?
    A: Ulysses by James Joyce. What better place to finally get through it?

    Keith Jarrett's The Köln Concert. If you’re going to listen to one piece over and over, this is one that doesn’t get tiresome.

    How to Build a Boat in Five Easy Steps. Since I’m going to be watching one movie over and over, it might as well be useful.

    Q: What is the worst lie you've ever told?
    A: I’m such a good liar, I wouldn’t know where to begin.

    Q: Describe the perfect writing environment.
    A: I can write pretty much anywhere. But I prefer small, cozy spaces, with a good view over a lake or a forest, and room for the cats to curl up.

    Q: If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say?
    A: "She’ll be right back."

    Q: Who is the one person living or dead that you would like to have dinner with?
    A: Elizabeth I. She fascinates me. She had a great mind, enormous appetites--and she was a survivor. The most interesting woman of an interesting time, and I have a million questions I’d like to ask her.

    Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
    A: You mean after creating world peace?This is a hard one. But I’ve always wanted to be able to fly.

    ... Read more

    Reviews (16)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Ruth teased me, I wanted more
    It took me over half of the book to warm to Ruth's ways. I felt too many times she built up a scenario and left me hanging, wanting to know more. I was desperate to find out what happened... if there was any comeback from the charity couple, how the guy she duped on a date with her sexiest disguise reacted to finding out he had in fact been dining with the NYT critic, what the Chinese restaurant who had diligently faxed menus back & forth felt when she decided to unceremoniously dump them for some other venue, after so much effort to please her.
    Its a light read and charming enough, but my appetite was whetted and I craved more gritty details.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great book
    I thought the book was funny.It grabbed me from the first chapter and I laughed through the whole thing.This is a great read and I am up for reading any other books from this writer.Another great one is the glass castle and also Whispers of the wicked saitns.Great reads !!

    2-0 out of 5 stars Not What I Expected
    I was extremely disappointed with this book.I expected to read more about the inner workings of NY restaurants, not recycled reviews from the New York Times.I thought it would be interesting to read about how she fooled restaurants with her various disguises.I did not expect to read page after page of where she bought the wigs, how she found the clothes, etc. etc.You can only read "the tastes exploded in my mouth like hundreds of little fireworks" (not a true quote from the book) so many times before you start skipping over the reviews.Save yourself some money and read the actual restaurant reviews from the Times' archives.I wish I had.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great third Memoir. Leaves us wanting more! Buy It.
    `Garlic and Sapphires' is the third volume of memoirs by Ruth Reichl. After `Tender at the Bone' which deals with her childhood and teens and `Comfort Me with Apples' which deals with her early journalistic career in San Francisco, this latest volume deals with her five years as the lead restaurant critic for the New York Times.

    This volume proves that Ms. Reichl is truly the best culinary memoirist today, and easily the best since M.F.K. Fisher. And, as one who has read more than a few of Ms. Fisher's memoirs, I would easily choose Ms. Reichl's humor and great stories of the modern scene over Ms. Fisher's slightly musty, albeit exquisitely crafted tales of cities and towns in France.

    The primary point of this volume is to tell the stories behind Ms. Reichl's various disguises and personas she took on in order to dine at Daniel's and Lespanisse and Le Cirque without being identified as the restaurant critic for the Times. The book starts off with the amazing story of Reichl's flight from Los Angles to New York seated, by coincidence, along side a waitress of a major Manhattan restaurant. It turns out that posted in all restaurant kitchens in New York City was already a photograph of Ruth Reichl with a reward to any staff member who identifies Ms. Reichl in their restaurant.

    In spite of all the other things on which Ruth could dwell, she stays remarkably on message. There is only the slightest of references to the great New York Times culinary writer, Craig Claiborne, who was still alive while Reichl was at the Times. And, there was only a slightly more specific reference to R. W. Appel and Amanda Hesser. The only two writing talents cited to any extent are Marion Burros, a friendly colleague who mostly worked out of the Washington bureau and adversary Bryan Miller who left the critic's post and objected to Reichl's overturning a lot of his restaurant opinions. What Miller forgot was that the power of the restaurant critic's column was not based on the writer, but on the newspaper which published the column.

    The most important character in this story after Reichl may be `THE NEW YORK TIMES', commonly thought to be the best and most powerful newspaper in the world. This fact makes it almost unthinkable that Reichl would question whether or not she really wanted to work for the Times when she was literally offered the job on a silver platter. There may have been some foundation to her doubts when she saw the Times offices for the first time. In contrast to the light, airy, Los Angles Times offices, the New York offices were crowded and filled with lots of old desks and unmatched chairs. After a full day's interviews plus total willingness from her husband to relocate to New York, Reichl took the job and immediately changed the tone of the paper's reviews.

    Reichl's personal philosophy was that reviews were nothing more than informed opinion and taste. This may seem utterly subjective, but actually, it is not far from what you would see in a scholarly work on the nature of aesthetic judgment. One is much better off trusting the opinion of a literary critic who has read 10,000 novels, both good and bad, than of your dentist who may have read 10, all from the same author. The thing that endeared her to her Times editors and publishers was the idea that her columns were written to sell newspapers, not to promote restaurants.

    For someone who does not read reviews of major Manhattan restaurants, I was a bit surprised at the incredible difference between the quality of food and service given to a pair of `beautiful people' versus the quality of food and service given to a drab looking old woman. And, if the diner is known to be the critic from the Times, food and service quality goes off the charts. This was the reason for the many disguises. And, it is obvious that more than one was needed, as it was all too easy for an astute restaurateur to connect a person with the byline on a review which can change their gross by tens of thousands of dollars a week. The truly remarkable thing about many of the disguises is how the personality embodied by the wig and clothes became part of Reichl's persona in dealing with people who were not in on the ruse. By far the funniest was the incident when Reichl took on her mother's persona, using her mother's clothes and jewelry. The story is doubly amusing if you have read `Tender at the Bone' where Reichl describes her primary chore was to keep her mother from poisoning any guests by serving spoiled food.

    It should be no surprise that Reichl's job had a serious downside. In addition to all the nasty mail from offended restaurateurs and their advocates and the political backbiting at the newspaper, there were the really unpleasant situations where Reichl offered `a dinner with the New York Times restaurant critic' as a prize to be auctioned off for charity. Ruth recounts one especially distasteful episode where the situation went so far as to turn her well-trained chameleon personality into someone who was distasteful to her husband. This job is no picnic. From this encounter comes the name of the book from a line in T. S. Eliot's `Four Quartets', `garlic and pearls in the mud' which echoed the fact that the evening had nothing to do with Reichl's love of cooks, food, or writing.

    The book includes the Times reviews Reichl wrote as a result of the meals described in the book. These are fun and interesting, but are really just sidebars to the real action in the main text. My only regret is that Reichl did not find it useful to include photographs of her disguises.

    Very highly recommended reading for foodies and non-foodies alike.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I ran right out and bought all her other titles
    As a foodie and a wine lover, as well as a person who loves New York, this book was like being in heaven at the same time as being a voyuer.I often go to the "starred" restaurants and have my own opinion not only on the food but on how I was treated as a normal everyday person.Having a food critic do the same in costume and actually rate the restaurant based on this makes me want to give her a standing ovation.Hopefully, restaurants around the world have learned something from her and her very equitable way of evaluating restaurants.Ruth writes so very well and entertainly, and you are torn from your own reality into her world of costumes and intrigue.I highly recommend her books if you like food, wine and real life New York restaurants.It may change where you decide to spend your hard earned dollars next time you go out to eat. ... Read more


    5. American Prometheus : The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer
    by KAI BIRD, MARTIN J. SHERWIN
    list price: $35.00
    our price: $23.10
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0375412026
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-05)
    Publisher: Knopf
    Sales Rank: 157455
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    6. Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson
    by Mitch Albom
    list price: $12.95
    our price: $9.71
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 076790592X
    Catlog: Book (2002-10-08)
    Publisher: Broadway
    Sales Rank: 111
    Average Customer Review: 4.42 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague.Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it.

    For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago.

    Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded, and the world seemed colder.Wouldn't you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you, receive wisdom for your busy life today the way you once did when you were younger?

    Mitch Albom had that second chance.He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man's life.Knowing he was dying, Morrie visited with Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college.Their rekindled relationship turned into one final "class": lessons in how to live.

    Tuesdays with Morrie is a magical chronicle of their time together, through which Mitch shares Morrie's lasting gift with the world. ... Read more

    Reviews (1628)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Tuesday's With Morrie
    This year for my seventh grade Language Arts class, we were supposed to choose a book and then critique it. I chose Tuesdays With Morrie after selecting it from a dusty bookshelf in my brother's room. Personally, I loved the book; it had a deeper meaning of life that i had never considered before. Some of my favorite quotes from the book have stuck with me like the one, "Love eachother or perish," The book is about a former college student, and his favorite professor. It all begins sixteen years after graduation when Mitch Albom finds himself watching his beloved college instructor on Nightling with Ted Koppel. Morrie has become a victum of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, leaving his body withered and sagging. Mitch visits Morrie one day and what starts as a reunion of old friends turns into the project of a lifetime. Now, I don't want to spoil anything, but the lessons that Morrie teaches to Mitch on their Tuesdays together will stay with him all of his life. I would recommend this book to anyone. If you are looking for enlightenment, deep thinking, and a true story, you've come to the right book. On a scale from one to ten, i would give Tuesdays With Morrie a nine and a half.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Must Read!
    Tuesdays with Morrie is definitely one of the best books that I've ever read. Once I picked it up, I couldn't stop until I found myself on the last page. Although the book is very short, nearly every page carries a message. It's purpose is to teach us a lesson; that was Morrie's final goal. He wanted to create this one last thesis with one of his favorite students, Mitch Albom, that would give people insight into how to live their lives and what it feels like to die. In this book, not only do we learn from Morrie (who died from ALS) how to live life to the fullest, but we learn from Mitch's mistakes as well. All too often we get caught up in our fast paced culture that we forget to stop and look around and actually enjoy things.

    Mitch Albom uses a unique approach to get his old professor's message out. When I was reading this, I couldn't help but feel like Morrie was speaking right to me. The book could relate to anyone; it covers so many topics from love and life to death and trying to live even when death is knocking on the door.

    I highly recommend reading Tuesdays with Morrie. You can't help but love Morrie by the end of the book, and like me, you might even tear up at the end a little.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
    <br /> Beautiful and touching, inspirational and rich. A book that not only teaches but makes you feel. <br /> Also recommended: Nightmares Echo by Katlyn Stewart, Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs,The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom

    4-0 out of 5 stars Have A Tissue Ready
    Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom is beautifully written. It is also an easily read and understandable. The fact that it's a true story makes it even more touching. So have some tissue ready :) . Morrie was a real person. He helped so many people during his life, and now, because of Mitch, he will touch many more after death. I strongly recommend reading this book if you are afraid of death.

    There is also another book here on Amazon I have found that I highly recommend on life after death, or between death that has given me a lot to think about. It is called The book of Thomas by Daniel Aber and Gabreael. In their book everything from the suicide, the different levels of heaven, reincarnation, and so on is covered also in an easily read format

    1-0 out of 5 stars I'm Embarrassed I Read This
    My younger brother had this on his summer reading list and I noticed it on his desk. Seeing it was pretty short I sat down and read it. I think the fact that my high school's English department recommended it should have been warning enough to avoid this book. In all seriousness, this is the worst book I have read in a LONG time.
    Even calling it a book is slightly misleading, because that usually implies some sort of literary value. It's about as literary as Life's Little Instruction Book, but far less insightful. Albom writes at about a 2nd grade reading level, in a ridiciulously simple shallow way rather than a Hemingwayesque style. Even more ridiculous is his constant use of immature, sentimental little gimmicks that I guess the Oprah-watching soccer moms giving this book a good review would call "touching and heartfelt". For example:
    "He waited while I absorbed it.
    A Teacher to the Last.
    "Good?" he said.
    Yes, I said. Very good.

    I would write something like that and be satisified with it when I was probably a freshman, and I really don't consider myself to be a talented writer. The whole Tuesday motif was also along those lines. Even more annoying was I lost count of the epiphanies Mitch has by about the 11th page. Highlight how many times he "suddenly realizes something about life". Don't be materialistic? Love other people? Is this really that breakthrough? I think Jesus said that about 2000 years ago, and most people agree he wasn't even that revolutionary(in moral philosophy that is.) Look at some of his other ridiculous "aphorisms":
    Accept what you are able to do and what you are not able to do.
    Learn to forgive yourself and forgive others.

    If I really felt like it, I could probably spew out about four thousand of those obvious, self-righteous statements in about 5 minutes.
    I also don't even see how Morrie was such a hero. In one scene, they tried to convince you that he was some hero for turning down some medicine that wouldn't have helped and, more importantly, wasn't even available. Wow. Not to mention, it's pretty easy to be so courageous about death when you have an amazing family supporting you. I wonder if he was half his age, alone with nobody to help him except some indifferent inner city hospital nurse if he would face death with such resilience and wit.
    What annoys me the most is how they planned writing this book before Morrie even died. Sounds like he just wanted to pay some bills. I mean, if they are planning to write a book about all these great moments Mitch realizes, of course he's going to have them(or pretend to) because he has to write a book about it! Furthermore, it's pretty arrogant that Morrie to think that he had some great noble truths to spread.
    This book has several more blatant flaws, but this review has a maxium word limit. So, I'll say if you like reading Chicken Soup for the Soul, and other empowering self-help books that like to constantly re-emphasize the obvious for $20, go ahead and buy this. If you are looking for an actual good book by someone who actually knows how to write, don't waste your time or the 40 minutes it takes to read this. ... Read more


    7. Reminiscences of a Stock Operator (A Marketplace Book)
    by EdwinLefèvre, Marketplace Books
    list price: $19.95
    our price: $13.96
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0471059706
    Catlog: Book (1994-05-11)
    Publisher: Wiley
    Sales Rank: 1620
    Average Customer Review: 4.68 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    Stock investing is a relatively recent phenomenon and the inventory of true classics is somewhat slim. When asked, people in the know will always list books by Benjamin Graham, Burton G. Malkiel's A Random Walk Down Wall Street, and Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits and Other Writings by Philip A. Fisher. You'll know you're getting really good advice if they also mention Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lef&egrave;vre.

    Reminiscences of a Stock Operator is the thinly disguised biography of Jesse Livermore, a remarkable character who first started speculating in New England bucket shops at the turn of the century. Livermore, who was banned from these shady operations because of his winning ways, soon moved to Wall Street where he made and lost his fortune several times over. What makes this book so valuable are the observations that Lef&egrave;vre records about investing, speculating, and the nature of the market itself. For example:

    "It never was my thinking that made the big money for me. It always was my sitting. Got that? My sitting tight! It is no trick at all to be right on the market. You always find lots of early bulls in bull markets and early bears in bear markets. I've known many men who were right at exactly the right time, and began buying or selling stocks when prices were at the very level which should show the greatest profit. And their experience invariably matched mine--that is, they made no real money out of it. Men who can both be right and sit tight are uncommon."

    If you've ever spent weekends and nights puzzling over whether to buy, sell, or hold a position in whatever investment--be it stock, bonds, or pork bellies, you'll be glad that you read this book. Reminiscences of a Stock Operator is full of lessons that are as relevant today as they were in 1923 when the book was first published. Highly recommended. --Harry C. Edwards ... Read more

    Reviews (114)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting but not particularly useful...
    I have read this book several times and always find it entertaining. The psychology of the markets is, I guess, always fairly similar; however, this book will not make you a dime. Do not buy this book if you think that you will learn valuable money making insights by reading it.

    The worth in this book is in the entertainment value. Experienced traders will relate to certain events and conditions mentioned in this book (at least I do). Really, this book is a just a novel for traders that transcends generations in terms of relevance.

    Victor Niederhoffer heavily borrowed from this book when he wrote "Education of a Speculator." In that book, he basically said that he would not give up his trading secrets for the price of a book. What came about was a biography on the basics of how he developed his mind of a successful trader. That is the essence of "Reminiscences of a Stock Operator:" how Edwin LeFevre developed his trading mind.

    Will a neophite leap frog elemental educational experience in the financial markets by instead reading this book? I think not. The neophite will also not learn of a succesful money making strategy by reading this book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars This is my "bible" of investing
    I have a library of nearly 100 books about the markets. Reminiscences was the third book I ever read and it remains my "bible" more than a decade later. You might wonder how an 80-year old book about the stock market could still be relevant. Well, that is because financial markets are determined by human nature as much as anything else, and human nature acts today as it did a century ago. Greed, fear, herd thinking, impatience - those are the same influences that drive markets today and haunt traders and investors who are striving to make the right decisions. Many of the lessons that dictate my investment philosophy ("Cut your losses, let your winners run", "if you don't like the odds, don't bet") were taught to me by the protagonist, who is the fictional characterization of the legendary Jesse Livermore. That he tells his stories with such color and suspense makes the book completely entertaining beyond its invaluable trading lessons. BUY THIS BOOK FOR YOURSELF. BUY ANOTHER ONE FOR A FRIEND (I've given 4 copies). You'll not only improve your own investing results, but your gift will impress as well.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece
    I bought this book after it was mentioned on the book Market Wizards. After I finished reading it, I found myself going back to it over and over again. This is a must read book for anyone that is really interesting in how the trading markets work in real life. It's brilliant, funny... Great!!!!!!!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Dated Yet Insightful
    This book's contribution to the literature of the financial markets is incontrovertible. For an investing public starved of trading wisdom in a pre-Markowitz era when stock traders relied more or less on rules of thumb, "Reminiscences" stood out as a true gem. It should be read both as a source of profound insight into the workings of financial markets past and present, and as a critique of speculative activity in the years prior to the bursting of the stock market bubble in 1929.

    One of the most important lessons mentioned in the book is that a trader does not have to be invested in the market all the time. It sounds hackneyed today, but this tenet is actually difficult to follow in practice, given the propensity of traders and investors to ride out losing positions.

    It is important to remember that, having been written during a massive bull run and prior to the systemic failure of the stock market in 1929, during which the market's 'boundless hope and optimism', as described in Galbraith's "The Great Crash 1929", run roughshod over sentiments that the markets were overheating, "Reminiscences" should be read with an eye towards portfolio preservation, not injudicious speculation.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Hardcover Marketplace Book version worth the price ?
    Wonderful book.
    However I wanted a version printed on good paper so it would last a long time.
    I bought a very costly hardcover Marketplace copy, just to discover that it was printed on weak paper.
    It probably is just the paperback version with a hardcover, for which a 4.5 times the paperback price tag is quite rich. ... Read more


    8. Take Big Bites: Adventures Around the World and Across the Table
    by LindaEllerbee
    list price: $24.95
    our price: $16.47
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0399152687
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-05)
    Publisher: Putnam
    Sales Rank: 127
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    The celebrated journalist, producer, and bestselling author takes us on a remarkable culinary journey through "a life lived interestingly, if not especially intelligently."

    Linda Ellerbee's first two books were instant classics: And So It Goes, a hilarious, unblinking look at television journalism that spent months as a bestseller; and Move On, a wry, intimate look at a woman in her time that became a milestone in autobiographical writing. Now she takes us both farther afield and closer to home in a memoir of travel, food, and personal (mis)adventure that brims with warmth, wit, uncommon honesty, inspired storytelling . . . and a few recipes as well.

    In Vietnam, preconceptions collide with the soup. . . . In France, lust flares with the pbti and dies with the dessert. . . .In Bolivia, a very young missionary finds her food flavored with hypocrisy . . . while at the bottom of the Grand Canyon an older woman discovers gorp is good, fear is your friend, and Thai chicken tastes best when you're soaked by rain and the Colorado River.

    From Italy to Afghanistan, from Mexico to Massachusetts, Ellerbee leads us on a journey of revelation, humor, and heart."What can you say about Linda Ellerbee?" Ted Koppel once wrote. "The woman is raucous and irreverent and writes like a dream." Take Big Bites proves it again.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (3)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A spectacular tour de force
    It is rare to stumble on a book that you know is going to be a classic. Linda's latest reminds me of A J Liebling's already-classic saga of Paris dining, Between Meals. Liebling, too, was a journalist-gourmet. But Linda's book is possibly greater than Liebling's (and his is one of my favourites). Ellerbee has been everywhere and tasted everything. A Texan who was "going large" long before it was fashionable, and who has probably the most interesting address book in the world, her amazing empathy for people and her eye, ear and tastebuds all become the grist for some exquisite writing. Her respect for others, self-mockery, love of adventure and occasional sharp tantrum makes Take Big Bites a genuine literary achievement. Dare I propose that Ellerbee should be taken more seriously as an important American writer(I write this as a Brit). If Ellerbee had not become a TV star, she would have made plenty of reputation for herself with words alone. The charm of her TV scripts was always her clarity and precision - something not common in that industry. This book shows Ellerbee once again in perfect command of her stories. It is a memoir, a cook book, a statement of love for the world and its people, toldin a unique voice. Buy this book and you will feel happier. This is not really a five-star book by the somewhat devalued standard of these evaluations, it is a perfect 10. Did I mention that I love this book?

    3-0 out of 5 stars Small Bites Are OK, Too
    I remember Linda Ellerbee on Overnight, a late-night TV newscast that was considered ground-breaking at the time, before CNN. The news was serious, but she and her co-anchor, Lloyd Dobyns, seemed to be taking it all with a grain of salt, enjoying their gig while all the grown-up anchors were asleep. It was fun to watch reporters who weren't taking themselves too seriously.

    For the most part, Ellerbee maintains that attitude in Take Big Bites, but it's a bit difficult when you've been through a few marriages, breast cancer, and reporting from war zones. Take Big Bites isn't exactly a memoir, it's a collection of essays and memories of places she's been, people she's met, food she's eaten. You can take it in order, or skip around, as Ellerbee has done.

    I suggest small bites, contrary to Ellerbee's advice. A little bit of Ellerbee goes a long way. Her first encounter with pho,Vietnamese noodle soup is amusing, and so is her reaction to Singapore. But there is a bit too much homespun philosophy for my taste, as well as James Taylor lyrics. I like JT as much as anyone who came of age in the Seventies, but quoting him this much seems like an odd 'blast-from-the-past'.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A delicious must read!
    Ellerbee's escapades as she dines her way around the world is hysterically funny. It is a laugh-out-loud read about the life of one of Amercia's great journalists and greater writer.Her personal observations and honesty touch your heart and give a compelling insight into what makes this woman an icon. ... Read more


    9. My Life as a Quant : Reflections on Physics and Finance
    by EmanuelDerman
    list price: $29.95
    our price: $19.77
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0471394203
    Catlog: Book (2004-09-17)
    Publisher: Wiley
    Sales Rank: 1360
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    Book Description

    "Derman’s memoir of his transition from mathematical physicist to expert finance whiz at Goldman Sachs and Salomon Brothers reads like a novel, but tells a lot about brains applied to making money grow."
    –Paul A. Samuelson, MIT, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences, 1970

    "Not only a delightful memoir, but one full of information, both about people and their enterprise. I never thought that I would be interested in quantitative financial analysis, but reading this book has been a fascinating education."
    –Jeremy Bernstein, author of Oppenheimer: Portrait of an Enigma

    "This wonderful autobiography takes place in that special time when scientists discovered Wall Street and Wall Street discovered them.It is elegantly written by a gifted observer who was a pioneering member of the new profession of financial engineering, with an evident affection both for finance as a science and for the scientists who practice it.Derman’s portrait of how the academics brought their new financial science to the world of business and forever changed it and, especially, his descriptions of the late and extraordinary genius Fischer Black who became his mentor, reveal a surprising humanity where it might be least expected.Who should read this book?Anyone with a serious interest in finance and everyone who simply wants to enjoy a good read."
    –Stephen Ross, Franco Modigliani Professor of Finance and Economics, Sloan School, MIT

    " … a deep and elegant exploration by a thinker who moved from the hardest of all sciences (physics) to the softest of the soft (finance). Derman is a different class of thinker; unlike most financial economists, he bears no physics envy and focuses on exploring the real intuitions behind the mechanisms themselves. In addition to stories and portraits, the book documents, in vivid detail, the methods of knowledge transfer. I know of no other book that bridges the two cultures. Finally, I am happy to discover that Derman has a third career: he is a writer."
    –Nassim Taleb, author of Fooled by Randomness

    "The quintessential quarky quant, Emanuel Derman has it all.Physicist, mathematician, philosopher, and poet blend together to produce a narrative that all financial engineers will find worth reading."
    –Mark Rubinstein, Paul Stephens Professor of Applied Investment Analysis, University of California, Berkeley ... Read more


    10. iCon Steve Jobs : The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business
    by Jeffrey S.Young, William L.Simon
    list price: $24.95
    our price: $16.47
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0471720836
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-13)
    Publisher: Wiley
    Sales Rank: 234
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Lightning never strikes twice, but Steve Jobs has, transforming modern culture first with the Macintosh and more recently with the iPod. He has dazzled and delighted audiences with his Pixar movies. And he has bedeviled, destroyed, and demoralized hundreds of people along the way. Steve Jobs is the most interesting character of the digital age.

    What a long, strange journey it has been. With the mainstream success of the iPod, Pixar's string of hits and subsequent divorce from Disney, and Steve's triumphant return to Apple, his story is better than any fiction. Ten years after the leading maverick of the computer age and the king of digital cool, crashed from the height of Apple's meteoric rise, Steve Jobs rose from ashes in a Machiavellian coup that only he could have orchestrated-and has now become more famous than ever.

    In this encore to his classic 1987 unauthorized biography of Steve Jobs-a major bestseller- Jeffrey Young examines Jobs' remarkable resurgence, one of the most amazing business comeback stories in recent years. Drawing on a wide range of sources in Silicon Valley and Hollywood, he details how Jobs put Apple back on track, first with the iMac and then with the iPod, and traces Jobs' role in the remarkable rise of the Pixar animation studio, including his rancorous feud with Disney's Michael Eisner.

    • Written with insider scoops and no-holds-barred style
    • Based on hundreds of highly unauthorized interviews with Jobs' nearest and dearest
    • New information on the acrimonious parting between Eisner and Jobs, the personal vendetta behind the return to Apple, and the future of iPod and the music industry
    ... Read more

    Reviews (6)

    5-0 out of 5 stars I Have a Very Favorable Opinion of Mr. Jobs Now
    After reading this book I have come away with a much more favorable opinion of Steve Jobs.He is the flawed hero type.I found this to be a very enlightening and motivating story.Steve Jobs is the epiteme of the New Age American Dream, a no hoper rising to the top and changing the way everybody sees things.

    The truth about the reality distortion field theory is that Jobs doesn't let reality affect him.Rather he is in control of his own reality and he changes it when necessary.It's much easier to change the world when you think it is revolving around you.It's that kind of self-centered focus that many of the world's greatest minds exhibit.Many geniuses are hard to get along with and communicate to, Steve Jobs is no exception.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Horrible Book Title
    I can't imagine the Apple folks being happy with the title of the book. Is it:

    a) iCon -- a symbol or emblem?
    b) iCon -- as in "I've conned you into buying a Mac."
    c) all of the above.

    Somebody's in trouble somewhere...

    5-0 out of 5 stars excellent sundeck reading
    While completing a website: www.linuxfree.net A friend pass this title along to me. Excellent read. Just five years ago Mac was just another bland corporate player. Since the inclusion of (smooth) well-developed and managed unix, the apple family has finally begun to stir well-deserved praise.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Lighten up, Steve.
    You would think, with all the fuss Steve Jobs is making about this new release, that it would be the worst hatchet job since "Wired" massacered the late John Bulushi.
    In actuality, the approach to the project was even-handed to a fault. William Simon brings his forminable experience with these business giant profiles to the table. His signature combination of terse and flavorful makes for excellent reading.
    As the episodes unfold, the Steve Jobs onion is peeled away for the reader to view the admirable along with the not-so-admirable. Great stuff!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
    I've long been intrigued by the Steve Jobs story as well as the early days of company-building and conflict between he and Bill Gates. This book is a real page-turner as it explores the connection between the technology, consumer-focused brand building and the psyche of the man behind it all. Jobs is a fascinating character and the author's representation of his story is better than fiction.

    Another new book I enjoyed recently which has fun analysis of public figures is "The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book." This one also has a cool online application that lets you test your emotional intelligence and learn about it via clips from movies. Fun stuff. ... Read more


    11. Big Russ and Me: Father and Son--Lessons of Life
    by Tim Russert
    list price: $22.95
    our price: $13.77
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1401352081
    Catlog: Book (2004-05-10)
    Publisher: Miramax Books
    Sales Rank: 378
    Average Customer Review: 3.79 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    Veteran newsman and Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert is known for his direct and unpretentious style and in this charming memoir he explains why. Russert's father is profiled as a plainspoken World War II veteran who worked two blue-collar jobs while raising four kids in South Buffalo but the elder Russert's lessons on how to live an honest, disciplined, and ethical life are shown to be universal. Big Russ and Me, a sort of Greatest Generation meets Tuesdays with Morrie, could easily have become a sentimental pile of mush with a son wistfully recalling the wisdom of his beloved dad. But both Russerts are far too down-to-earth to let that happen and the emotional content of the book is made more direct, accessible, and palatable because of it. The relationship between father and son, contrary to what one would think of as essential to a riveting memoir, seems completely healthy and positive as Tim, the academically gifted kid and later the esteemed TV star and political operative relies on his old man, a career sanitation worker and newspaper truck driver, for advice. Big Russ and Me also traces Russert's life from working-mjkjclass kid to one of broadcast journalism's top interviewers by introducing various influential figures who guided him along the way, including Jesuit teachers, nuns, his dad's drinking buddies, and, most notably, the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, whom Russert helped get elected in 1976. Plenty of entertaining anecdotes are served up along the way from schoolyard pranks to an attempt to book Pope John Paul II on the Today Show. Though not likely to revolutionize modern thought, Big Russ and Me will provide fathers and sons a chance to reflect on lessons learned between generations. --Charlie Williams ... Read more

    Reviews (53)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Cats in the cradle...Harry Chapin's song comes to life!!!
    The background story behind this book is learning from your elders. In this particular one, we are talking about Tim Russert and how he explains the way that his father's knowledge (something that most children never appreciate until after the fact) and experience shaped his life. We learn of Big Russ, as he refers to his father, and how he was raise in poverty, was a WWII vet with an admirable record and his ability to raise his four children and support his household while holding down two jobs for a good part of his life. That, in itself, shows the character of Big Russ.

    As is the dream of every parent, Russert's life is anything but representative of the suffering his father witnessed. A wealthy lawyer, Capital Hill insider and married to a celebrity journalist, Russert is the success story his father could brag about to any and everyone.

    The book provides a nostalgic walk through time as the author reflects on his own life as well as that of his country. By the time you finish the book, you can understand why Big Russ earns the biggest title that any father can ever dream of. That of being seen as a hero in his own son's eyes. No amount of money or honors can ever top such a title as that.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Gift to Big Russ
    Bookstores have been gearing up for Father's Day for some time now, lining their front displays with titles dad is sure to enjoy: sports, grilling, amusing how-tos. Pretty standard stuff. But once in a while a book comes along that supersedes the silly.

    BIG RUSS & ME, by Tim Russert, is one of these rare finds.

    Russert, the popular host of NBC's "Meet the Press," wrote this tribute to his father, Tim Senior, a member of what has become known as "the greatest generation." A hard-working, spiritual and devoted family man who served his country during World War II, the elder Russert represents the millions of fathers (and mothers) who sacrificed to make their children's lives better.

    The Russert family grew up in a blue-collar section of Buffalo, NY, where Tim Senior instilled in the author and his three sisters the qualities of discipline, respect, honesty and faith that, for whatever reason, are sometimes lacking from parents today.

    In the minds of younger readers, Russert might as well have written his book a hundred years ago. Imagine having to walk to school, including "sir" or "ma'am" when addressing adults, or having to do chores. It wasn't punishment --- it was expected and not open to discussion or bargaining.

    Writers of a certain age often recall a time and place in which television shows were broadcast in black and white, no one locked their doors, kids always had friends to play with and people watched out for one another. Compare that with today's omnipresent security alarms, motion detectors and play-dates.

    Russert writes fondly of his Jesuit education. Its extension of discipline helped him focus on excelling in college and law school. He worked hard to put himself through school, not just because his parents could ill-afford tuition and other expenses. As Big Russ said, you appreciate it more when you earn it yourself. The era in which he grew up was difficult: the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. had profound effects on his circle, as did the social unrest of the sixties. Through it all, however, he remained close to his father while many of his contemporaries rebelled against their parents' values.

    Russert is not a name-dropper. He was fortunate enough to know several people who were very influential to his maturation, and he mentions these relationships (his chapters on Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Pope John Paul II are especially warm) more in thankfulness than to inflate his own ego. His self-effacement ("I have a face for radio") seems genuine, not put-on, which makes BIG RUSS & ME even more enjoyable.

    The saying goes (approximately): "When I was a teenager I thought my father didn't know anything. It's amazing how much smarter he became once I got older." This is definitely not Russert's credo. Indeed, he has always sought his dad's advice and opinions; even now, in his high-powered capacity as host of one of television's venerated staples, he is not satisfied until Big Russ gives his feedback. (Not to psychoanalyze, but one doesn't get the impression that Russert, Jr. is in dire need of Senior's approval.)

    Being "men," it's not unusual that expressive feelings exchanged between fathers and sons are underplayed. This is one reason why BIG RUSS & ME is so welcome. And the love and respect between the generations continues through the author's son, Luke.

    Relationships, especially for today's parents, seem much more difficult, thanks in no small part to the myriad distractions and competitions for their kids' attention that simply didn't exist fifty years ago. All vie for the child's attention and some can be very seductive, especially when the folks want him to do something that isn't cool, like get good grades or clean up his room.

    Russert's apotheosis is a wonderful gift to Big Russ, an expression of love and gratitude that makes all the hard work seem worthwhile. It's even better that the old timer is still around to enjoy the accolades the book will no doubt engender.

    So, what did you say you were doing for your dad this year?

    --- Reviewed by Ron Kaplan

    1-0 out of 5 stars Ack! Ack!
    Ack! Ack! Ack! Ack! Ack! Ack! Ack! Ack!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Endearing & heart-felt memoir.
    Refreshing and light read written by a man with a genuine and, in many ways, a new-found love and appreciation for the most important man in his life.

    In a society that seems less determined to be self reliant and accountable and more determined than ever compete over who can be the biggest victim, Big Russ is living testimony that absolutely nothing beats a strong family bond and a solid work ethic.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Engaging, nostalgic, well-written
    This is a great book. I can't believe how many Amazon "reviewers" are getting their facts wrong, or dragging politics, or other issues into this simple, straightforward ode to one's father.

    One reviewer says Tim does a disservice to mothers everywhere by writing a book about his father. If you didn't check out the title of the book clearly before purchasing it, maybe you should go do that now: "Big Russ and Me: Father and Son--Lessons of Life." He mentions his mother reverently a few times in the text, but the book is mainly about his dad. Enough Said. I'm sure his mother knows how much he loves her. Maybe he'll write a book about her someday. But I don't see how he's disrespecting all mothers. That's ludicrous.

    Secondly, a few reviewers have remarked about Big Russ blowing his paycheck on booze every week. Obviously these readers didn't read carefully. Tim was writing about another man in town who would take his paycheck to the bar every payday and drink it away. Tim contrasts this man with his father, who would enjoy a few cold ones every now and then, but knew that providing for his family was much more important. Big Russ was not a drunk. Maybe you reviewers should go back and re-read that chapter.

    Another reviewer complains that Tim Russert's book is "full of errors," and backs up this claim by saying he got one word wrong when remembering a prayer from his youth. This reviewer says a half-decent editor would've caught this. I'd like to enlighten this reader by letting him know that not all prayers are taught or recited exactly the same way. It depends on the school or church, I suppose. To call it an error is wrong. It's a variation. I'm sure some people think the way you recite it is wrong. Whether it's "THROUGH thy bounty," or "FROM thy bounty," it hardly makes much difference, does it? Means the same thing.

    I could go on, but for some readers there's no hope. It's a great book about a father's influence on his son's life. Read it. Pass it on. ... Read more


    12. The Smartest Guys In The Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron
    by Bethany McLean, Peter Elkind
    list price: $16.00
    our price: $10.88
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1591840538
    Catlog: Book (2004-09-28)
    Publisher: Portfolio
    Sales Rank: 8017
    Average Customer Review: 4.42 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Just as Watergate was the defining political story of its time, so Enron is thebiggest business story of our time. And just as All the President’s Menwas the one Watergate book that gave readers the full story, with all the dramaand nuance, The Smartest Guys in the Room is the one book you have toread to understand this amazing business saga. ... Read more

    Reviews (38)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The "Exorcist" for Business Readers
    This book scared the hell out of me. With the scandals at Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, Adelphia, etc., one has to ask - "Where Else?"

    While it focuses on the people and personalities directing Enron, the book very rightly points out that this Ponzi-Scheme of a company could never have existed if not for the complicity, corruption and willful ignorance of individuals and organizations who were supposed to act as checks and balances. Simply put, Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling & Andrew Fastow were able to bully, buy or dupe the following:

    1. The Enron Board, who questioned almost nothing.
    2. Arthur Andersen, who was corrupted by large consulting fees, and the "glamor" that was Enron.
    3. Wall Street Equity Analysts, who were long ago compromised.
    4. Large commercial banks, who allowed themselves to be played like violins by Fastow.
    5. The business press, who with rare exception, acted as cheerleaders for Enron.
    6. Debt-Rating agencies such as Moody's and S&P for shallow due dilligence.

    Make no mistake, this is a horror story. So much loss and pain due to extremely bright folks with no moral compass! Throughout the book, I found myself asking "can an organization this unethical, cutthroat and STUPID have really existed?" I didn't know if I should be outraged or horribly depressed (BOTH!). If I had a critisim of the book, it would be that it should have contained an appendix that illustrated the financial position (on-balance sheet & total) to help readers fully comprehend the magnitude of what went on.

    I recommend this book to anyone who owns more than $10 in stock.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Not For Lay People
    There's blame galore to go around for the spectacular downfall of Enron Corp in that sober year of 2001. Accountants, rating agencies, regulators, lawyers, consultants, bankers--and these are just the bad actors outside the corporation. Look inside, where Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind treat their readers to a thorough journalistic scouring, and the smell of the rot almost wafts off the pages.

    The authors rightly spend the vast majority of the book examining the personalities and circumstances that allowed the company to become what it was at the end of its life. Mix a potion that's one part hardscrabble Harvard MBAs, one part energy deregulation, and one part hysterical bull market, and you've got a financial molotov cocktail. Sadly, as we all know now, it was largely the little guy who paid the price for all the hubris of the players in this story, a fact that tends to get lost in the authors' painstaking recreation of the most complicated shell game in history.

    But the story of Enron's fallout could provide the material for a whole other book. In this one we get the tale of the players, people like Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling, Rebecca Mark and Andy Fastow, all filled with an equal mix of remarkable brilliance and fatal arrogance. All are indicted by these authors as rabid players in a game they made up themselves, deeming themselves beyond the petty world of rules and regulation. But coming in for equal excoriation is the system itself, the web of enablement and intimidation that allowed Andy Fastow to quietly hammer together the company's coffin in the form of a maze of phantom accounting entities designed to prop of the appearance of the corpse inside. The most unnerving theme the book treats indirectly is the effect of mass psychology--the way exceptional personalities distort and transform reality on a systemic scale. And it offers little in the way of how something like this could ever be prevented in the future.

    One word of warning for people not acquainted with basic finance: this is a complicated story, about erstwhile geniuses in the arcane use of financial products and regulatory loopholes. Though it's enjoyable even if one can't follow every detour down each accounting scheme, some knowledge of Wall Street and its workings seems necessary to understand the implications of the book overall. Given the fact that most experts didn't understand what went on here, the authors do their best to keep things as simple as possible, often using helpful metaphors and simple summations after a few pages of analysis, but they have no choice but to assume a level of sophistication among their readers.

    Which leads to one gripe. In "The Smartest Guys In the Room" not a single institution or individual player involved with Enron escapes the authors' finger-pointing notice, with but one exception. Where were the journalists in all this? Why did short-sellers have to be the ones to ask all the tough questions? Bethany Mclean should take understandable pride in being the first one to pry the door open on Enron's malfeasance, but she was just a little late. One would think that with the mass of financial journalists on CNBC, the Journal, the Times, etc., that just one would have bucked the collective cheering squad and dug deeper into what this supposedly invincible company was up to. But of course, this was the bull market. A time when everyone was exuberant when they should have been scared.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A must for the non-sceptic
    My blood ran cold reading of how long the officers of this firm managed to pull the wool over the investment community's eyes, aided and abetted by the deleriction of duty of those in whom we trust (and pay hansomely) to guard against such crooks. If there was ever a book to convince investors to do their own homework and to think independently, this is it. A well written and an engaging read. Well worth the money.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Who Are These Guys
    I chose the above title quote from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" to highlight my review. The authors provide a biography of many of the Enron players that lets us know what these guys were all about at their core. For example, Jeff Skilling spent almost all his after-school time working at a television station. Yet, he went to college without a dime because he blew all his pay in the stock market-buying stocks on margin. Never mind though because he got an impressive academic scholarship anyway because of his "brilliance." The authors provide other telling stories about the other major players. Ken Lay, the Baptist preacher's boy who preached exemplary corporate values, had an affair with his secretary, and later divorced his first wife to marry her. Yes, this is the same lady who went on television complaining about being broke while her family still owned millions of dollars in real estate. Lay's number two guy-not Skilling-who shacked up with a different Ken Lay secretary at Enron, costing himself annointment as Lay's successor. By the way, this guy now is a billionaire. Having that affair with Lay's secretary, later marrying her, was the smartest thing he ever did because he left Enron to found his own high-flying energy company. Rebecca Mark got a leg up from another Enron mentor by having a tempestous affair with him. The stories like this go on and on.

    The authors provide far more detail about company history and the accounting conspiracies that brought it down. As a professional accountant, I am even more convinced now that Arthur Andersen deserved to fail for approving many of the tricks that Enron used to book fictitious profits. The authors point out that near the end, nearly 85% of Enron's total debt wasn't on their books, but "lay" in off balance sheet special purpose entities. The auditors couldn't understand the meaning of the standard sentence in an audit report that states that the financial statements "present fairly the financial condition and operations of Enron in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles." They over emphasized generally accepted accounting principles and ignored the term "present fairly." Good riddance to them.

    The authors certainly are not admirers of Skilling, Fastow, or most of the other Enron players. For example they say of Skilling in their Epilogue, "He does not seem to have any remorse about his own actions, any sense that he hired the wrong people, got into the wrong businesses, or emphasized the wrong values. The fault, in his view, lies in a world that did not and will not appreciate the sheer newness of what Enron was trying to do." At the end, Jesse Jackson-yes that Jesse-held prayer meetings in the hall to comfort the afflicted who suddenly realized they needed forgiveness. Skilling didn't attend. I hope Jesse says a few prayers to protect Jeff while he's in prison. He'll need them, as well as a lifetime supply of "soap on a rope."

    Certain Enron principals flew to their bankruptcy hearing in their mega-bucks Gulfstream 5 executive jet and stayed at the plush Four Seasons in Manhattan. As one of the offending executives said, "Maybe we should have flown on Southwest and stayed at the Ramada." In short, yes.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Missed opportunity
    Excellent journalism and very well articulated research from McLean and Elkind make this a gripping read for anyone who wants to understand the forces that drive corporate greed. Banks, rating agencies, lawyers and accountants are not spared in what is a scathing criticism of profitability over ethics and plain common sense. What disapponted me, however, was the authors' obvious decision to skim over the political elements of the whole scandal. Kenneth Lay was one of the single largest individual contributors to the Bush campaign in 2000 and also made available corporate resources, such as company jets, on numerous occasions. Dick Cheney had secret meetings with company executives at a time that the wheels were beginning to fall off and it is impossible to believe that this was all innocuous, although in the rare instances that the authors refer to such events, they will have you believe that this was the case. Time will hopefully still reveal more about the murky political dealings of Enron, but it is a crying shame that this otherwise very well written book is not a place where you will learn anything at all about that dimension, despite there being no shortage of facts to be found elsewhere in the public domain. ... Read more


    13. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
    by John Perkins
    list price: $24.95
    our price: $15.72
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1576753018
    Catlog: Book (2004-11-09)
    Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers
    Sales Rank: 386
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    Book Description

    Confessions of an Economic Hit Man reveals a game that, according to John Perkins, is "as old as Empire" but has taken on new and terrifying dimensions in an era of globalization. And Perkins should know. For many years he worked for an international consulting firm where his main job was to convince LDCs (less developed countries) around the world to accept multibillion-dollar loans for infrastructure projects and to see to it that most of this money ended up at Halliburton, Bechtel, Brown and Root, and other United States engineering and construction companies. This book, which many people warned Perkins not to write, is a blistering attack on a little-known phenomenon that has had dire consequences on both the victimized countries and the U.S. ... Read more


    14. 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


    15. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas : A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream
    by HUNTER S. THOMPSON, Ralph Steadman
    list price: $12.00
    our price: $9.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0679785892
    Catlog: Book (1998-05-12)
    Publisher: Vintage
    Sales Rank: 1684
    Average Customer Review: 4.66 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com Reviews

    Heralded as the "best book on the dope decade" by the New York Times Book Review, Hunter S. Thompson's documented drug orgy through Las Vegas would no doubt leave Nancy Reagan blushing and D.A.R.E. founders rethinking their motto.Under the pseudonym of Raoul Duke, Thompson travels with his Samoan attorney, Dr. Gonzo, in a souped-up convertible dubbed the "Great Red Shark." In its trunk, they stow "two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half-full of cocaine and a whole galaxy of multicolored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers.... A quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls," which they manage to consume during their short tour.

    On assignment from a sports magazine to cover "the fabulous Mint 400"--a free-for-all biker's race in the heart of the Nevada desert--the drug-a-delic duo stumbles through Vegas in hallucinatory hopes of finding the American dream (two truck-stop waitresses tell them it's nearby, but can't remember if it's on the right or the left). They of course never get the story, but they do commit the only sins in Vegas: "burning the locals, abusing the tourists, terrifying the help." For Thompson to remember and pen his experiences with such clarity and wit is nothing short of a miracle; an impressive feat no matter how one feels about the subject matter. A first-rate sensibility twinger, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a pop-culture classic, an icon of an era past, and a nugget of pure comedic genius. --Rebekah Warren ... Read more

    Reviews (292)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Grab a fifth and enjoy the ride
    This isn't a book for the Disneylandified Vegas crowd. This is for the off-strip, I've been up for 72 hours, get me another beer, the light is too bright, let it ride crowd.

    Hunter is at his best covering a race in the desert, attending a drug prevention convention (the irony!) and taking as much alternative substances as his body can handle. And then some. Lost in the world post-60s, he decries (with fear and loathing, of course!) what he sees happening as society backs off of "the high water mark".

    It's a book about the falacy of the American Dream. Vegas - land of illusion - is the perfect setting for a story that pops the balloon that is the American Dream. Travel with Hunter, and you are there, parking the boat he calls a car onto the sidewalk. You're there chatting it up with the law enforcement officers from Podunk Illinois. You're hoping your ODing mammoth of a friend is calming down.

    Sometimes runny, this gonzo journalism will surprise you with cutting observations of what is happening to society. Awesome read, that will poke holes in your view of Americana.

    5-0 out of 5 stars More truer now than it was originally!
    I personally live just outside of Las Vegas, and just about everything the good doctor wrote about is still true (especially Circus Circus). I can only imagine what he'd think of the quasi-Disneyland attractions that are there now.

    The drug content was to be expected at that era. The world was still in a white picket fence mode and "creative chemistry" was seen as a tool to escape from it (or at least, take a different view).

    The stream-of-consciousness writing style is a wonder to behold. You can practically feel your mind bob-sledding through the ether-induced haze, coming to a landing on both feet.

    As for weither or not it was real, get over it. Just wallow in the genius of the work; how it dissects the "American Dream" and how we were so rudely woken from it.

    And if you've seen the film, READ THE FREAKIN' BOOK AS WELL! You will discover a favorite quote or two that you'll find yourself using over and over again. I laughed so hard reading it the first time, my face hurt!

    It's a classic document of the tail end of the "flower power" generation, and the beginning of the narcisism of the 1970's. Classic American literature with sheer outright BALLS that's so dearly lacking in today's pop culture.

    I am certain that when Dr. Thompson reaches his final reward, he will have a never-ending orgy held in his honor, just for writing this book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Mindblowing at the very least!
    This nonfiction account of Hunter S Thompson's search for the American Dream is a trip you won't soon forget. It is not for the meek or squeamish. The substance abuse is staggering. I imagine there is some degree of exaggeration. Thompson himself has admitted as much in interviews. I must warn that the consumption in this book will be shocking if not scandalous to many.

    FEAR & LOATHING rocks with an unerring intensity. This book is written like a typewriter tanked on meth. The road trip, the hitchhiker, the booze and the drugs, spending an employers money destroying hotel rooms. It is a full force assault on the senses. It left me dazed and confused. It is hilarious at times but in that guilty way when you know that you really shouldn't be laughing. Raoul Duke is like Jerry Seinfeld in that you know he's a jerk but you can't help liking him.

    Thompson was an extreme individual. He was notorious for missing deadlines. Reading this book makes it easy to see why. He was very absorbed in the moment. He seemed more intent on getting hammered than on writing the book. But in the end, his extraordinary talent allowed him to produce an amazing book.

    The description of drug use will be disturbing to many readers. LSD, mescaline, cocaine, ether. Thompson doesn't seem to be very discriminant in what he'll introduce to his bloodstream. His consumption assumes staggering proportions here.

    The writing is surprisingly good. Thompson is able to convey the sensation of being there as all this insanity unfolds. He had a fine grasp of the English language and a deftness at cutting a good sentence. The carefree excitement of youthfulness is captured here. I always feel more alive when I finish this book. It is also a book that I refer to a lot. It is fun to read a single paragraph and then put it away.

    This book is for students of the 60s and for readers who like an intense, tumultuous trip into madness. It is shocking and even offensive to some but it is a great ride for those that like a bit of shock value in their entertainment. Truly great -- don't miss it! Along with FEAR & LOATHING, I also recommend THE LOSERS CLUB by Richard Perez, a book whose writing was obviously strongly influenced by Thompson

    5-0 out of 5 stars OPPOSITES ATTRACT
    The beauty of a free country and free artistic expression is that it allows polar opposites to find themselves. Bill "Spaceman" Lee once told a conservative political audience that "I'm so conservative I eat road kill" and "I'm so conservative I'm standing back-to-back with Chairman Mao." Funny? Doesn't seem that way, but you never heard such laughter as responded to Lee's delivery. The same goes for my love affair with the writing of Hunter S. Thompson. You could walk the fruited plain from California to the New York Island and not find somebody more different from Thompson than me. Thompson would read my opinions and pronounce that I am an "enemy of the people." If I spent a weekend at his cabin in Woody Creek, however, we'd find common ground. I'm an absolute Reagan conservative, a total Christian, a flag-waving American patriot, an admirer of the military (particularly George Patton), a devotee of law'n'order...and a giant fan of Jim Morrison and Thompson!

    "Fear and Loathing" is so brilliant, so funny, so biting in its commentary, so revolutionary that I cannot do it justice herein. Thompson is just plain awesome. An insane writer, in the admirable as well as the literal sense.

    How to describe this book? "The '60s meets the John Birch Society"? "The American Dream meets the American nightmare"? I don't have it in me to analyze Hunter. He's too good, too out there. Just admiration, that's all I have left for him. The only thing left is mystique, because Thompson, despite years of stories and in-depth analyses, is still very much unknown. Can he be the guy he describes and survive? The truth, or the Truth as Hunter might call it, is that he probably is putting on a little act, but it is just questionable enough to leave doubt, or Doubt!

    I think Thompson is what Michael Moore wishes he was.

    STEVEN TRAVERS
    AUTHOR OF "BARRY BONDS: BASEBALL'S SUPERMAN"
    STWRITES@AOL.COM

    5-0 out of 5 stars Unescapble Excursion into the American Aorta
    The movie is a good work. Hunter S. Thompson is an interesting man, but the novel is an entirely different world, a world where Don Juan and mysticism mesh with the concrete experience of conservatism.

    The world which the protagonist Rauol Duke lives in is one where people are "pigs and creeps" and drugs are an integral part of the daily experience. Fear and Loathing is not a linear tale of reckless abandon in the City of Sin but a convoluted tale of the thin line that exists between sucess and failure in the aftermath of the Acid Culture. Although Thompson claims that this piece of work is non fiction the sheer absurdity and subjective dialogue makes it hard to accept the validity of that claim.

    If you are an informant for the DEA, strong Christian, or live in the bible belt this book will only infuse anger in your soul, but if the world of chemical experimentation exposed through the use of masterful english and a corollary to the Great Gatsby expose then you are in for a treat. ... Read more


    16. Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Godel (Great Discoveries)
    by Rebecca Goldstein
    list price: $22.95
    our price: $15.61
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0393051692
    Catlog: Book (2005-02-28)
    Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
    Sales Rank: 79959
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    Book Description

    A masterly introduction to the life and thought of the man who transformed our conception of math forever.

    Kurt Gödel is considered the greatest logician since Aristotle. His monumental theorem of incompleteness demonstrated that in every formal system of arithmetic there are true statements that nevertheless cannot be proved. The result was an upheaval that spread far beyond mathematics, challenging conceptions of the nature of the mind.

    Rebecca Goldstein, a MacArthur-winning novelist and philosopher, explains the philosophical vision that inspired Gödel's mathematics, and reveals the ironic twist that led to radical misinterpretations of his theorems by the trendier intellectual fashions of the day, from positivism to postmodernism. Ironically, both he and his close friend Einstein felt themselves intellectual exiles, even as their work was cited as among the most important in twentieth-century thought. For Gödel , the sense of isolation would have tragic consequences.

    This lucid and accessible study makes Gödel's theorem and its mindbending implications comprehensible to the general reader, while bringing this eccentric, tortured genius and his world to life.

    About the series:Great Discoveries brings together renowned writers from diverse backgrounds to tell the stories of crucial scientific breakthroughs—the great discoveries that have gone on to transform our view of the world. ... Read more


    17. Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street
    by Michael Lewis
    list price: $14.00
    our price: $11.20
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0140143459
    Catlog: Book (1990-09-01)
    Publisher: Penguin Books
    Sales Rank: 2179
    Average Customer Review: 4.45 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (148)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A must-read, if you are thinking of working on Wall St
    I worked for CSFB for three years, and am still in investment banking for a smaller firm. So I have seen a part of the world that is described here. I'm not saying that this is an exact description of what I saw, because Lewis picks the most exotic creatures that he met, but the atmosphere is perfectly conveyed. This book will tell you all the stuff that they don't teach you in an interview or recruitment visit - the pecking order, the politics, and how to get paid.

    The other reason to read this is that Lewis is a brilliant writer, with a real talent for describing people and their situations. Lots of other people have written boring books with the same raw material. For a non-specialist like my mother, the technicalities were hard work, but you don't need a lot of special knowledge to like this book. My mother certainly did.

    Probably the best way to look at this book is like a travel book - you're not visiting a country, you're visiting a world. Great travel books are not word-perfect descriptions of a place, they are representations of what the author felt like when he was there, and they give the reader a feeling of what it was like to be there. If you read this book, you will understand what it feels like to work inside a big bank, and you'll enjoy the ride, even if you have no interest in actually working there.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Obvious Cry Baby
    I want you to realize that Michael Lewis is only one perspective albeit a very biased and skewed one at that. If you speak to any one who worked at Salomon they will bluntly tell you that the book is not completely factual. Michael Lewis has an agenda, and it is very obvious that he has it in for the Salomon and Wall Street traders. And, he is willing to bend the truth and exagerate things to make the people look like monsters. Using the endearing term of Human Pirhana speaks to this point. I loved the book, because it gives you somewhat of a perspective on the life of traders, but I don't think you truly know what it is you're up against until you go and do actual trading. I wouldn't believe everything you read in Liar's Poker, and I would weigh each word carefully, because Meriweather isn't the only playing Liar's Poker here. Enjoy, and don't let the book discourage you from hedge funds and investment banking, especially if you really love finance.

    4-0 out of 5 stars An insider's view of Solly
    'Liar's Poker' is worth a read if you want an insider's account of life on Wall Street. The book doesn't pretend to glorify the easy money that Lewis and his ilk made during the bond schlepping go-go days of the 1980s. Rather, Lewis is disillusioned by the greedy culture and hypocritical short-sightedness at Salomon Brothers, but not enough that he doesn't enjoy the ride for a few oh-so-profitable years. Like his other books, 'Liar's Poker' is fun to read. His anecdotes about the training program and the trading floor, albeit surely embellished, read like a day at the amusement park. The key shortcoming is an oozy 20-something self-righteousness that pervades many of the book's chapters, and reaches a crescendo in the final pages. But hey, arrogance begets credibility. And when it comes to describing Wall Street in the 80s, Lewis is as credible a spokesman as anyone.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excelent insight into the world of wallstreet
    Michael Lewis is obviously an excellent writer. The words simply flow from him. He speaks from experience so his perspective is insightful, and entertaining.

    I have always been mesmerized by wallstreet, as well as silicon valley, simply because we it allows us, if even for just a few hours, to imagine the possibility of attaining great wealth legitimately thru our talent and hard work.

    He reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut. But Kurt speaks of the old wrld, the one our fathers lived in. Lewis in more today. Somewhat ike Po Bronson

    4-0 out of 5 stars Good read for a finance novice too!
    I picked up this book as it is highly popular among investment bankers. I am not an investment banker and do not intend to be one but I was keen to find out what makes Wall Street special. The book not only satisfied my curiosity but also was pleasantly amusing.

    The author traces the glorious and gloomy times of Salomon Brothers, a big financial enterprise in which he worked long enough to be able to tell this tale and become a rich man. He explains some financial innovations of Salomon brother's in lay man's terms, which makes this book very readable for all.

    The author's self-deprecating humor and his vivid analysis of the people he came across in his organization make the account entertaining.

    Whether or not the author's opinions on technical matters in this book are meritorious-I am not qualified to say. If you are a finance novice and curious to find out about life in that universe, you will find this book worthwhile. ... Read more


    18. Take the Cannoli : Stories From the New World
    by Sarah Vowell
    list price: $12.00
    our price: $10.80
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0743205405
    Catlog: Book (2001-04-03)
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster
    Sales Rank: 3654
    Average Customer Review: 3.88 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Take the Cannoli is a moving and wickedly funny collection of personal stories stretching across the immense landscape of the American scene. Vowell tackles subjects such as identity, politics, religion, art, and history with a biting humor. She searches the streets of Hoboken for traces of the town's favorite son, Frank Sinatra. She goes under cover of heavy makeup in an investigation of goth culture, blasts cannonballs into a hillside on a father-daughter outing, and maps her family's haunted history on a road trip down the Trail of Tears. Vowell has an irresistible voice -- caustic and sympathetic, insightful and double-edged -- that has attracted a loyal following for her magazine writing and radio monologues on This American Life. ... Read more

    Reviews (64)

    4-0 out of 5 stars I LOVED THIS BOOK...
    ...but I will caution readers that they MIGHT find it more enjoyable to hear Consigliere Sarah Vowell read them herself. That's what I discovered. Don't get me wrong, this is a fantastic book start to finish; my favorite This American Life essayist covers a wide and diverse variety of topics, from the Trail of Tears to growing up a gunsmith's daughter to going Goth for a day. Every essay in this book was a delectable morsel of Sarah Vowell's acid, accurate wit. This wonderful piece of insight made me laugh, made me think, and most of all, made me understand why I should leave the gun and take the cannoli. Thank you, Sarah Vowell, for continuing to grace the world of popular culture with your fresh, cutting perspective.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great, laugh-out-loud funny essays
    This is my first experience with Sarah Vowell's work, having seen her on Letterman and Conan O'Brien, and I found it at a used book sale at the local library and decided to get it. I'm glad I did; this is one of the funniest collections of essays I've read in a while. Vowell's unique, almost Gen-X approach to life (though I hate to use the label "Gen-X", as that suggests someone much more mopey than Vowell really is). I'm perplexed by the reviews that cite this as being "boring" or "not funny", I suppose everyone's entitled to their opinion but I couldn't disagree more. Whether knock-down hilarious ("Take The Cannoli", "Shooting Dad", etc) or serious and well-thought historical and emotional ("What I See When I look at The Twenty-Dollar Bill", the Frank Sinatra-Hoboken essay), Vowell is excellent, and I look forward to reading more of her work. I highly recommend this to anyone who's looking for a good laugh, and hopefully I'll get a chance to hear her on NPR sometime. At any rate "Take the Cannoli" is a good primer for Vowell.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Partly cloudy patriot
    Read everything Sarah Vowell writes but possibly read radio on after partly cloudy patriot and take the cannoli.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Fairly Decent
    Take the Cannoli serves as a decent introduction to Sarah Vowell's writing, although it is not nearly as good as Partly Cloudy Patriot. The most appealing thing about her is the simple fact that one can disagree with her opinions without feeling argumentative. She has a way of presenting her opinions that does an excellent job of articulating why she feels the way she does without sounding like she is attacking any opposing opinion. Very civilized and enjoyable.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Like a lively conversation at a bistro
    ...and speaking of a bistro, her take on the hidden meaning of your morning mocha is laugh-out-loud funny. This collection of essays deals with her historical, political, religious, and cultural experiences - and who could be more fun to wade through that with than a cynical, lyrical gen-X commentator?!

    This book has a little something for everyone. Well, O.K., probably not everyone. If you're a big fan of the Left Behind series, you might not like her take on premillenial dispensationalism. If you have little appreciation for Frank Sinatra, you may need to skip a couple of the essays. It reads like a lively road-trip passenger, full of random opinions and witticisms. Having heard her recently in a live reading, I think we would be well served by an audio version of this book. ... Read more


    19. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
    by DAVE EGGERS
    list price: $14.00
    our price: $10.50
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0375725784
    Catlog: Book (2001-02-13)
    Publisher: Vintage
    Sales Rank: 791
    Average Customer Review: 3.55 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    "Well, this was when Bill was sighing a lot. He had decided that after our parents died he just didn't want any more fighting between what was left of us. He was twenty-four, Beth was twenty-three, I was twenty-one, Toph was eight, and all of us were so tried already, from that winter. So when something world come up, any little thing, some bill to pay or decision to make, he would just sigh, his eyes tired, his mouth in a sorry kind of smile. But Beth and I...Jesus, we were fighting with everyone, anyone, each other, with strangers at bars, anywhere -- we were angry people wanting to exact revenge. We came to California and we wanted everything, would take what was ours, anything within reach. And I decided that little Toph and I, he with his backward hat and long hair, living together in our little house in Berkeley, would be world-destroyers. We inherited each other and, we felt, a responsibility to reinvent everything, to scoff and re-create and drive fast while singing loudly and pounding the windows. It was a hopeless sort of exhilaration, a kind of arrogance born of fatalism, I guess, of the feeling that if you could lose a couple of parents in a month, then basically anything could happen, at any time -- all bullets bear your name, all cars are there to crush you, any balcony could give way; more disaster seemed only logical. And then, as in Dorothy's dream, all these people I grew up with were there, too, some of them orphans also, most but not all of us believing that what we had been given was extraordinary, that it was time to tear or break down, ruin, remake, take and devour. This was San Francisco, you know, and everyone had some dumb idea -- I mean, wicca? -- and no one there would tell you yours was doomed. Thus the public nudity, and this ridiculous magazine, and the Real World tryout, all this need, most of it disguised by sneering, but all driven by a hyper-awareness of this window, I guess, a few years when your muscles are taut, coiled up and vibrating. But what to do with the energy? I mean, when we drive, Toph and I, and we drive past people, standing on top of all these hills, part of me wants to stop the car and turn up the radio and have us all dance in formation, and part of me wants to run them all over." ... Read more

    Reviews (741)

    2-0 out of 5 stars unstaggered
    You've got to give Dave Eggers this, if nothing else, he knows how to market himself. First he wrote this memoir, loaded with irony to appeal to Gen-Xers, continually self-referential to appeal to postmodernists, and centered around his efforts to raise his little brother after their parents both died of cancer, a sure chick magnet. Then, having exposed most of his and his family members' lives to public view (at least in theory) he adopted a Pynchonesque/Sallingeresque reclusive pose, and feigned personal agony at having to discuss the book. All this while cashing in big time on the supposedly "tragic" events of his life. For these savvy ploys alone he deserves to be called a "staggering genius."

    The book itself uses a host of postmodernist, ironical, satirical, etc., etc., etc...techniques, which are rather hackneyed and, given the ostensible topic of the book (his family tragedy), quite off-putting. A fairly representative passage comes when he's heaving his mother's ashes (or cremains) into Lake Michigan :

    Oh this is so plain, disgraceful, pathetic--

    Or beautiful and loving and glorious! Yes, beautiful and loving and glorious!

    But even if so, even if this is right and beautiful, and she is tearing up while watching, so proud--like what she said to me when I carried her, when she had the nosebleed and I carried her and she said that she was proud of me, that she did not think I could do it, that I would be able to lift her, carry her to the car, and from the car into the hospital, those words run through my head every day, have run through every day since, she did not think I could do it but of course I did it. I knew I would do it, and I know this, I know what I am doing now, that I am doing something both beautiful but gruesome because I am destroying its beauty by knowing that it might be beautiful, know that if I know I am doing something beautiful, that it's no longer beautiful. I fear that even if it is beautiful in the abstract, that my doing it knowing that it's beautiful and worse, knowing that I will very soon be documenting it, that in my pocket is a tape recorder brought for just that purpose--that all this makes this act of potential beauty somehow gruesome. I am a monster. My poor mother. She would do this without the thinking, without the thinking about thinking--

    Yeah sure, I get it, the way he's having this discussion shows that he understands what's going on, yadda, yadda, yadda... But unfortunately, the point he's making is more accurate than his style is clever. There simply is something gruesome about this kind of mannered irony and the way, throughout his life, that he seems to interpret his experiences through the filter of the book he plans to write.

    At the point where every thought, emotion, and action in your life must be considered for how it will appear in print, you've become a fictional character rather than a real human being. And by creating so much distance between the character of Dave Eggers and the supposedly tragic events of his life, Eggers (the author) makes it really hard for the reader to care much. I finished the book unstaggered and heart unbroken, but grudgingly forced to admit that the literary world has a potential new genius, a writer with a genius for self promotion the likes of which we've not seen since Norman Mailer; and we all know how the Norman Mailer story has gone : badly.

    GRADE : C-

    3-0 out of 5 stars Bitter, Sad, Self-Obessed, Humorous....but not quite genius
    Frankly, I felt this was a heartbreaking work of staggering genius that sputtered and stopped just shy of greatness.

    The first half of the book was brilliant. The middle was torturous. The end (being that it followed so closely after the agonizing middle) just didn't feel as captivating anymore.

    I disagree, however, with the reviewer who criticized Eggers for not caring about his mother and sister. There is tenderness and profound sadness there, you just have to perceive it underneath the facade Eggers constructs.

    His brutal portrayal of the death of a loved one and the complication of family relationships afterward is, perhaps, too much for some readers. I found it to be honest (probably the most honest aspect of the book).

    That said, I recommend this book to those with an open mind, an appreciation for ironic humor, and a tolerance for an unconventional approach to writing. It was mad. It was refreshing. But it was just a little too unedited to live up to the title completely.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Lies, Lies, Lies, and more Lies
    First off, the title is a lie.

    The book is boring. The narrator does not care about the deaths of his parents nor the future death of his sister, so how is it heartbreaking?

    Einstein was a genius. Shakespeare was a genius. Eggers is incapable of writing a book with a plot and characters.

    Then, all the blurbs are lies, as they were all written my people on the McSweeney's payroll.

    And then, all the insider tax and tuition snark-fests, held by pomo hipsters on college campuses are lies.

    And then, all the creative-writing workshops which assign this book, as well as postmodern english classes which place it on the suggested reading lists are lies.

    The sales numbers given by the corporate conglomerates are lies, aimed at bolstering their bottom line while Eggers aims to eradicate literature by spamming the bookstores with his crap, killing trees and displacing quality literature penned by indy presses.

    Then, all the positive reviews here are lies, written by Eggers himself, as the New York Times reported.

    1-0 out of 5 stars A Heartwrenching Display of Staggering Hubris
    There are so many other good books out there, why waste your time with this one? The title is lofty and ambitious and creates expectations for the reader that this work fails to realize (Of course, Dave, you did ask for it). No question to me that Eggers has potential to be a decent writer, but his smug (oh, but I try to be self-deprecating, and I almost mean it, too!), cooler-than-thou, "Are you in on the joke?" style gets in the way of what could have been, if not a work of staggering genius, a well-told coming-of-age story.

    3-0 out of 5 stars A Self-Indulgent Work of Staggering Verbosity
    Have you ever had a friend who just couldn't stop talking about him or her self? They seem to have no other concern in life but to tell you how great, magnificent and important they are. It's as if they think they're the only ones who exist, or worse yet, matter. And after reading Dave Eggers' "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius", I couldn't help but feel that's exactly who I had been listening to.

    Alright, perhaps I'm being a bit harsh. Eggers is a very talented writer, with enough quirkiness to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool to brimming. The subject matter he attempts here is very "heartbreaking", and he manages to evoke strong emotions from his readers without becoming overtly sentimental. And in dealing with the tragic loss of two parents to cancer (in the same month), this would be easy to do. Eggers deftly keeps his memoir moving by utilizing humor, anger, and a jarring, schizophrenic leaping from story thread to story thread.

    Eggers shows a clever and refreshing playfulness in his writing. Where else are you greeted with directions on how to read a book? Where else do you get the story notes "before" the story actually begins? The book is also filled with various other clever devices, such as diagrams which point out optimal areas on his kitchen's hardwood floor for sock-sliding, a chart which explains all of the symbolism in his book (for his less alert readers), and a number of formatting switches, such as to movie script format or interviews written in italics. Eggers has employed nearly every trick in the book to maintain his reader's attention.

    The story, however, even as Eggers states in his "reading directions", is a bit uneven. The heart of the story, that of Eggers' coping with raising his young, orphaned eight-year-old brother, Toph, is rendered with tenderness and honesty. Simple acts such as throwing frisbee and sliding down a hardwood floor in one's socks take on a philosophic poignancy, and the remarkably realistic dialogue between the brothers is captivating.

    However, true to his schizophrenic nature, Eggers is not content to merely talk of Toph. The middle of the book he fills with stories of his attempts to start up a (relatively pointless) satirical magazine, Might, and his attempt to get on MTV's even-more-pointless reality show, The Real World. These threads, while somewhat entertaining, tend to wear thin, especially when Eggers continually rants about how great and important he is. The worst part is a nearly fifty page "transcription" of his interview with the producers of The Real World to sell himself onto the show. Pages and pages of where he grew up, what his favorite food was, and why he is so gosh dang vibrant and beautiful and necessary to everyone on the planet. Energy is refreshing. But in Eggers case, it gets self-indulgent at times.

    Still, there is something to be read here. The first 100 pages and the last 50 are fantastic, particularly his thoughts on his mother, and Eggers exuberance, as well as his ferocious anger, are marvelous to behold. Staggering? Yes. Masturbatory? Very. Genius? Not quite. Entertaining? You betcha'. ... Read more


    20. Inside the Wire : A Military Intelligence Soldier's Eyewitness Account of Life at Guantanamo
    by ErikSaar, VivecaNovak
    list price: $24.95
    our price: $16.47
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1594200661
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-02)
    Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The
    Sales Rank: 2799
    Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Inside the Wire is a gripping portrait of one soldier's six months at the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - a powerful, searing journey into a surreal world completely unique in the American experience.

    In an explosive newsbreak that generated headlines all around the world, a document submitted by army Sergeant Erik Saar to the Pentagon for clearance was leaked to the Associated Press in January, 2005.His account of appalling sexual interrogation tactics used on detainees at Guantanamo Bay was shocking, but that was only one small part of the story of what he saw at Guantanamo --and the leak was only one more strange twist in his profoundly disturbing and life-changing trip behind the scenes of America's war on terror.

    Saar couldn't have been more eager to get to Gitmo.After two years in the army learning Arabic, becoming a military intelligence linguist, he pounced on the chance to apply his new skills to extracting crucial intel from the terrorists. But when he walked through the heavily guarded, double-locked and double-gated fence line surrounding Camp Delta -- the special facility built for the "worst of the worst" al Qaeda and Taliban suspects - he entered a bizarre world that defied everything he'd expected, belied a great deal of what the Pentagon has claimed, and defiled the most cherished values of American life.

    In this powerful account, he takes us inside the cell blocks and interrogation rooms, face-to-face with the captives.Suicide attempts abound.Storm-trooper-like IRF (initial reaction forces) teams ramp up for beatings of the captives, and even injure one American soldier so badly in a mock drill -- a training exercise -that he ends up with brain seizures.Fake interrogations are staged when General Geoffrey Miller - whose later role in the Abu Ghraib fiasco would raise so many questions - hosts visiting VIPs.Barely trained interrogators begin applying their "creativity" when new, less restrictive rules are issued by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

    When Saar takes over as a cosupervisor of the linguists translating for interrogations and gains access to the detainees' intelligence files, he must contend with the extent of the deceptions and the harsh reality of just how illconceived and counterproductive an operation in the war on terror, and in the history of American military engagement, the Guantanamo detention center is.

    Inside the Wire is one of those rare and unforgettable eyewitness accounts of a momentous and deeply sobering chapter in American history, and a powerful cautionary tale about the risks of defaming the very values we are fighting for as we wage the war on terror.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (37)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Overall, it wasn't bad
    I am currently assigned the Naval Station in GTMO.I read this book, and found it very easy to read and follow.It had an interesting plot and told a good story.

    Before anyone who is reviewing this and is convinced that this book deserves a bad review decides to scan down to the next one, please hear me out.I have never worked inside the camp.I know several people who have, but I have never done more than drive down the road inside.I don't know what goes on in that camp, and like many other sailors and government employees here, I listen to CNN talk about what is happening less than a mile away from me on television everyday.I cannot draw a conclusion about the truth behind statements and stories contained in this novel because I simply don't know.I bought this book after reading mixed reviews because I wanted this former soldier's perspective on what happens back there...not caring whether it was true or not.I hear so much about what goes on in there I don't know what to believe anymore.

    But with all of that said, I believe the book was very well written.It was easy to read, and was very hard to put down. It doesn't go into as much political depth as I had expected, which was OK, because I don't like reading books like that.It is simply one man's views of what goes on there.

    I only gave this book four stars for one reason.The information that the author adds about the Naval base itself is very true for the most part.He describes buildings and placesin a way that anyone who has been here for a while and knows their way around the base would be able to pick them out in a heartbeat.However, he mentions some things in the book that completely off the wall, and crazily un-true about the base itself.These are included as so called "rumors" but are just silly in my opinion.This is the only reason I gave it four stars, but like I said, it was overall a good novel.

    Before I close though, I would like to add that I believe you have to have an open-minded opinion of the goings-on at GTMO before you dive into this one.The personnel that openly bashed this book after it's release were careless, and downright rude.Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but next time it should be displayed with a bit more couth.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Its nice to know so many GITMO personnel buy books!
    After reading the reviews, I was very suprised at the number of former/current GITMO personel that buy and review books on amazon.com This is truly an untapped market! Evidently this is the ONLY book being read at GITMO, since they have never reviewed anything else on amazon.com Ok, Im finished with the sarcasm.
    The book was an easy read. The details were disturbing. Is it fact/fiction? Its up the reader to decide. Unfortunately we dont have any nice digtal photos floating around on the internet to verfiy the author's account.
    Many are quick to dismiss his version of events. But then again, if someone had written a book about soldiers in Iraq leading detainees around on leases, making them masterbate, stacking them naked in a pyramid...I would be inclined to think it was fiction too. Now if only we could find some photos from GITMO.

    2-0 out of 5 stars A Real Profile in Courage
    Erik Saar's book has all the credibility of the Onion or at this point Newsweek. It strikes me that anyone with a dissenting view of the book is labeled right wing etc or that they will not post their real names. After seeing some of the responses on here and on Blogs I can not blame anyone for not posting their real name as I can see hate mail direct towards them. As Americans we seem to have a disturbing trend to want to believe in all conspiracies no matter how far fetched. The Iraq prison scandal has shown that clearly as is Erik Saars book. My hunch is that some of the positive reviews on here also believe that the government has Aliens in Area 51 and that the CIA killed Kennedy.
    There is a true patriot from both GTMO and Abu G, Specialist Joseph Darby who was awarded the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. The annual honors recognize acts of political courage. Darby was the first to report abuse at the prison. He turned over pictures that included images of prisoners chained together in sexual poses. Spc Darby did not write a book and is not making money over what he saw and felt was wrong. He took a stand and did what is morally right which is more than I can say for Erik Saar.
    While this book is well written it is far from the truth and it is amazing looking through interviews with Saar that his story changes and he seems to stick to doing interviews on the far left fringe of things.
    I am neither left nor right, I make educated choices and decisions based on the facts and Saar book lacks facts and has a lot of conjecture. As the Newsweek story has shown not everything in print is the truth and a stronger more in depth review of Saars book will show the same. I would love to see Saar's NOCER's for the time as well as the interrogation plans that show Saar was in the booth. I have a feeling most of what he said he saw is stuff he heard happened etc. It also strikes me as odd that Saar as an Arabic linguist never advanced beyond E5 despite the points being low and the need for Arabic linguists being great. I also noticed he has two good conduct awards. This means he did at least 6 years active duty. The average soldier makes E5 in 3-4 years and E6 in Saars MOS he should have had it in 5 with ease. I have a feeling there is more to look at with this young man than meets the eye.
    SPC Joseph Darby is a true American hero, not Saar, America should be offended at those who commit abuses and question the government and challenge it for better government and leaders, but we should also be offended at those that chose to try and profit from situations such as this and make matters worse and instead in flame things needlessly.

    4-0 out of 5 stars a thoughtful read
    this book was written by someone who had actually been at
    guantanamo and for that reason, if none other, deserves
    better attention than some previous reviewers want to give it.the author gives us chapter and verse but of course, it is up
    to the reader to accept or challenge, but the challenges
    should come from readers who come to the book without
    built-in prejudices.

    saar was a participant in events and i thoroughly appreciate
    his view of that history.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An important and accessible work
    This book gives us an alternate view into the workings of the Guantanamo detention facility.Before this book almost all of the information we have received has been second hand, either from officials in Washington or commentators.None of these people have actually been there, day in and day out, as part of the operation.

    Other reviewers have cast aspersions on the veracity of this book.My objective opinion is that Sgt. Saar's story rings true.For instance, we are told of a farmer who had no idea why he was there, and had not been charged with any crimes.If we were paying a bounty to Northern warlords for capturing terrorists, but not validating their claim that the people presented are terrorists, it seems reasonable that the warlord would pick up local farmers and tradesmen as easy money. It seems that they would certainly be easier to find and capture than real terrorists.In any case, the problems illustrated by this book would be easy for the government to check out.

    Some of the reviewers have impugned Sgt. Saars motivations and patriotism.While it is difficult to speak of another's motivations, writing this book is the definition of patriotic right and duty.The fact that we are able to criticize our government is at the heart of what being an American is all about.The free press is the ultimate check on the behavior of our government - the fourth branch.

    I believe that the most important point in the book is not the fact that we have violated international treaties and our own principals at Guantanamo, but that it hasn't worked.I remember the mood after 9/11.The world had shifted and only an extraordinary response would keep us safe.But this doesn't give us leave to forget about leadership, training, organized execution and oversight.We seem to have been making mistakes, but ignoring the outcome - the lack of good intelligence and the problems in moral and performance.Sgt. Saar is doing us a service by providing valuable feedback.The question is, will the leadership receive it from this source, as they didn't get it from proper oversight.

    You might have noticed that I was using the pronoun "we" when I spoke of activities described in the book.This was unintentional, and when I focused on it, I felt it might have been presumptuous.I certainly wasn't there.I was living in safety and comfort in the presence of my loved ones while Sgt. Saar and the others were doing their countries work in Guantanamo.On reflection, I decided to leave the pronouns where they lay.The military is the shield that protects us, but our surrogates.The soldier shows the world how we respond to difficult situations.

    Sgt. Saar's response has been both courageous and appropriate. This is an important book.

    ... Read more


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