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81. To End All Wars
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82. All over but the Shoutin'
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83. The Headmaster : Frank L. Boyden
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84. Maestro: Greenspan's Fed And The
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85. Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed Kills
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86. Losing My Virginity : How I've
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87. 25 to Life: The Truth, the Whole
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88. Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending
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89. In My Brother's Shadow
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90. More Than Money : True Stories
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91. Omaha Blues : A Memory Loop
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92. The Promise : How One Woman Made
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93. PersonalHistory
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94. Soldiers of God: With Islamic
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95. Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People
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96. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
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97. Trump : The Art of the Deal
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98. Faded Pictures from My Backyard
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99. Give Me a Break : How I Exposed
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100. The Orchid Thief : A True Story

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

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

Reviews (2)

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

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

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

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

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


82. All over but the Shoutin'
by RICK BRAGG
list price: $14.00
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Asin: 0679774025
Catlog: Book (1998-09-08)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 10981
Average Customer Review: 4.36 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This haunting, harrowing, gloriously moving recollection of a life on the American margin is the story of Rick Bragg, who grew up dirt-poor in northeastern Alabama, seemingly destined for either the cotton mills or the penitentiary, and instead became a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times. It is the story of Bragg's father, a hard-drinking man with a murderous temper and the habit of running out on the people who needed him most.

But at the center of this soaring memoir is Bragg's mother, who went eighteen years without a new dress so that her sons could have school clothes and picked other people's cotton so that her children wouldn't have to live on welfare alone. Evoking these lives--and the country that shaped and nourished them--with artistry, honesty, and compassion, Rick Bragg brings home the love and suffering that lie at the heart of every family. The result is unforgettable. ... Read more

Reviews (253)

5-0 out of 5 stars Midwest Book Review
Rick Bragg understands poverty. He knows intimately the taste and smell of being dirt poor, has experienced the chill that settles deep into a person's marrow. When it comes to the haves and have nots of life, he's walked both sides of that line and knows first hand the strengths and weaknesses of both. He witnessed from an early age the deprivation that can drive both the strong and weak to violence and desperation. And he by God knows determined courage when he see's it because he grew to manhood watching true fortitude in action. In this book, courage and cowardice, violence and devotion, poverty and triumph are found in equal measure.

Bragg's mother was a pretty southern girl who married young. When her husband went away to war in Korea, she waited loyally for his return. The young man who loved music and laughter did not return to her from Korea. In his place, she got an irresponsible alcoholic given to drunken rages and abuse who abandoned his growing family with regularity, leaving them to scrounge their way without him. To feed her three sons, the author's mother worked long hours picking cotton and ironing the clothes of those who could afford such luxury. Much of this memoir is a testament to his mother's strength, as well it should be. The people and places he decribes are also memorable, whether Bragg speaks of them with bitterness or pride. And he cuts himself very little slack in the telling.

Whether sharing memories of Alabama, Africa, or Afghanistan, Rick Bragg sees life with his heart's eye, and documents prosaically his visions. He writes of times and places few of us have seen, and does it with compassion. All Over But the Shoutin' is a gift to those of us who love to read.

3-0 out of 5 stars Rick Bragg
Rick Bragg describes his journey of life through a collection of childhood memories. His writing releases his emotions that should be captured by all. This book is a wonderful novel for those who havedealt with a troubled childhood.
"When God Blinks" is a great chapter due to his southern home style of life. He gives full detail in the house on the hill. you can close your eyes,and see exactly what he describes.
Bragg's weakness of this novel would be the age of the audience.This novel is suited for an "older" generation or an open minded person willing to read about a southern broken family.
I would recomend this novel to people who are eager to learn about southern living in the 1970's. People from broken homes or people raised by a single parent could grasp a hold of this novel and recollect on their memories.

4-0 out of 5 stars just another good read
All Over but the Shoutin' is a memoir written by Rick Bragg. He wrote it in honor of his mother who had a great presence in his life. The book starts early in his life, when he was still just a toe-headed little boy. He grew up in poverty with his mom and two other bothers in a box house just barely big enough to live decently in. He didn't remember much of his father except for how every now and then he'd get drunk and beat his mother. Rick had a blessed life in a sense. He survived a car crash that should have killed him, he came close to death in riots, became a famous journalist for the New York Times and he even won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing.
I'll admit, I first choose this book by its cover. The pictures on the front for some reason told me it was going to be a good book. Little did I know the author had won the Pulitzer Prize and was a writer for the New York Times. I thought the book was great. The author did a good job of honoring his mother for all that she had helped him achieved, even if it was in small ways. I also liked the fact that the author had a lot of respect for the way he grew up. He didn't think his childhood was horrible because he grew up poor.
There was nothing I really didn't like about the book. I think Rick has had quite an extraordinary life, better then most people. The book was good and I would recommend it if you want a great read.

5-0 out of 5 stars A reader from Nebraska
I checked this book out of my local library, and was gald I did.

Rick Bragg's mother reminded me of my own. Another rviewer said Mrs. Bragg should have gotten a job. The lady already picked cotton from daylight til dark, then took in ironing which she worked at half the night. Rick Bragg's family lived in a different time, when southern poverty was far worse than it is today. Picking cotton and ironing are not jobs for the faint of heart. Bragg made it quite clear in his book how hard his mother worked at horrible jobs to make a life for her children. She was the glue that held this book together and gave it a shine. If you love your mother, love or have a certain curiosity about the south, you need to read this one.

2-0 out of 5 stars Grossly overrated
I do not get it. He writes an ode to his mama, who, it seems to me, could have made all their lives a lot easier if she had just gotten a job. ... Read more


83. The Headmaster : Frank L. Boyden of Deerfield
by John McPhee
list price: $12.00
our price: $9.00
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Asin: 0374514968
Catlog: Book (1992-09-01)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Sales Rank: 181748
Average Customer Review: 4.56 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Starting in 1902 at a country school that had an enrollment of fourteen, Frank Boyden built an academy that has long since taken its place on a level with Andover and Exeter. Boyden, who died in 1972, was the school’s headmaster for sixty-six years. John McPhee portrays a remarkable man “at the near end of a skein of magnanimous despots who...created enduring schools through their own individual energies, maintained them under their own absolute rule, and left them forever imprinted with their own personalities.” More than simply a portrait of the Headmaster of Deerfield Academy, it is a revealing look at the nature of private school education in America.
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Reviews (9)

3-0 out of 5 stars A good book
Being business-oriented, I wish this book had talked more about how he had built up this school and ran it. It does do that but not to the level where this could be considered a business biography. From a business standpoint, this is a book about leadership and how great leadership can do great things for an institution.

Oh, and the drawings spread throughout the book really help convey the man. There's a number of photographs as well, but the drawings add nice touch.

If this man was really as good as the book portrays him, this won't be the last book about him and, if so, I look forward to reading those as well.

While not a great book, I would recommend it. It is a thin book of nice light reading.

3-0 out of 5 stars Insightful into Deerfield's school culture
McPhee has written a highly readable account of the impact of a single individual on one of New England's important boarding schools. This work is particularly interesting when juxtaposed against similar works on the history of Groton School, St. Paul's School, or Exeter/Andover when viewing how one person can cause an entire school culture to take root. Found most often in schools where strong headmasters have either founded the school or contributed a life of service, Deerfield Academy comes across in McPhee's work as the true child of Boyden whose various quirks in no way detracted from his personal mission of making a difference in boys' lives. While by no means a critical work, "Headmaster" is nevertheless an important document in understanding the history of an important boarding school.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Teacher for the generations
From 1902 to 1968, Frank Boyden was the Headmaster of Deerfield, a private boy's school in the countryside of Massachusetts. When Boyden arrived, the school had 14 students, transportation was by foot or horse drawn wagon, and he intended to stay only long enough to get enough money. 66 years later, Deerfield was one of the leading prep schools in America, the equal to Exeter and Andover. Best of all, the school wasn't an imitation of British schools, as so many prep schools of the first half of the 20th century were. Boyden had turned Deerfield into an outstanding educational institution while keeping it uniquely American. Demanding, even a bit of a despot, Boyden shaped the school and its students into something special, a school where the students come first, then the faculty.

Only John McPhee could tell the story as it deserves. Boyden and all the other residents of Deerfield come alive under McPhee's pen. The little touches, like the Headmaster's rejuvenating midday naps, followed by letter writing and inspections tours, make it seem as if the reader is there.

I doubt you'll be able to read this book, and not wish you could have been a student under Boyden. For several generations, Deerfield under his leadership was what a school should be.

5-0 out of 5 stars they don't make em like this anymore
Sure, this may be more of a panegyric more than a biography, but it's inspiring. As someone who has spent years in private schools, it's great to read about a headmaster who really shaped a school -- Boyden defines headmastership: he was head of Deerfield for 64 years! Even more impressive than Mr. Boyden was his wife whom he called the smartest person on the campus. Proves the theory that behind every great man is a great woman. I hope we restructure our school administrations so that we allow for heads like this again -- too much time is spent these days on fundraising and not enough on school. Though Boyden was not an intellectual, he inspired and trained generations of boys and never lost his personal touch.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Headmaster at Deefield: a model for innovative educators
Like many, I read a great deal but I rarely reread books. However, The Headmaster by John McPhee is one of those rare books that I have read and reread several times. Each time I gain a greater insight into one of the most innovative educators of our time: Frank Boyden. Using both humor and profound insight, McPhee paints the picture of a tenacious headmaster who was undaunted in his attempt to create one of America's finest preparatory schools. Boyden's unfailing optimism in the face of tremendous obstacles will inspire aspiring educational leaders.

As an administrator in a small college I find that much of Boyden's philosophy of education is appropriate for educators in any setting. McPhee has done a masterful job of characterizing one of the greatest and innovative educators of the 20th century. I highly recommend McPhee's book to all who are dedicated to quality education and have a great love for students. ... Read more


84. Maestro: Greenspan's Fed And The American Boom
by Bob Woodward
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Asin: 0743204123
Catlog: Book (2000-11-14)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 134078
Average Customer Review: 3.14 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Bob Woodward called his biography of Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan Maestro for two reasons. First, Greenspan is a musician. He started out as a Julliard-trained jazz sax man. "He wasn't a good improviser," Woodward reports. And while the other guys got stoned all night, Greenspan "read economics and business books and eventually became the band's bookkeeper." He also cultivated powerful pals, like Ayn Rand, whose coterie dubbed the dour young man "The Undertaker."

More profoundly, Greenspan is a maestro, a conductor, exquisitely attuned to every instrument in the political and economic orchestra. He rules by consensus, but with a firm hand and notoriously inscrutable words. Marvelously, Woodward relates that Greenspan had to propose twice to his wife, the violinist-turned-TV news star Andrea Mitchell, before she understood: "His verbal obscurity and caution were so ingrained that Mitchell didn't even know that he had asked her to marry him." Woodward gives us the inside story of what Greenspan really thinks and how he outmaneuvered the most ruthless politicians on earth in some of the hairiest times imaginable, from the 1987 stock market crash to the 1994-95 Mexican crisis to the stomach-churning turn of the century. It turns out that for all his awesome knowledge of monetary minutiae, the Fed chief literally relies on "a pain in the pit of my stomach" to make decisions. "At times, he found his body sensed danger before his head," writes Woodward. The Fed chief also adapts Einstein's technique to economics, hunting for discrepancies as keys to deeper theories. Einstein made breakthroughs out of bent light; Greenspan deduced productivity gains that government statisticians had overlooked for years. (The gains appeared when Greenspan made the statisticians calculate productivity by business sector, the way it's done in the real world.)

Woodward's prose is cool and rational, not exuberant. But if you're into economics and politics, you'll find a rich gossip trove here. Who knew Reagan had a draft of a presidential order to shut down Wall Street trading at hand in 1987? Scary! Reading Maestro is better than sitting with Greenspan in his famous tub as he charts your future--it's like being right there inside his head. --Tim Appelo ... Read more

Reviews (71)

2-0 out of 5 stars Star Struck
Bob Woodward doesn't know much economics and worships Alan Greenspan. These are the two main things that readers will learn from this book. If it wasn't apparent from the title, this book is essential a tribute to the wisdom of Alan Greenspan. Woodward presents an account where Greenspan's judgement is shown correct at every turn, and the doubters are all proven wrong. The result is the best economy in thirty years.

Unfortunately, the history (and economics) is a bit more complex than Woodward would have us believe. To take the most obvious example, it is not clear that the U.S. economy is presently the bright shining star that Woodward assumes. The low unemployment, rapid economic growth, and low inflation are all good news, but there are serious clouds on the horizon. Specifically, the over-valued stock market and the over-valued dollar threaten the economy with a double whammy which could leave the economy reeling for years to come.

Even with the recent decline in the stock market, price to earnings ratios are still close to double their historic average. The Congressional Budget Office (the agency that makes all the projections for the budget that everyone uses in political debates) projects that real corporate profits will actually shrink by about 10 percent over the next decade. This implies that the market is over-valued by 100 percent, or more. A decline of this magnitude would destroy approximately $10 trillion in wealth, or $70,000 for an average family.

Similarly, the United States is running a huge trade deficit which is leading it to borrow $450 billion a year from abroad. A trade deficit of this magnitude is no more sustainable than a budget deficit of $450 billion, as Alan Greenspan and every other economist knows. Reversing this deficit will inevitably require a large drop in the value of the dollar, perhaps by as much as 30 percent. A decline in the dollar of this magnitude will crimp living standards in the United States, as the price of imported goods rise, and also lead to more inflation.

While the fault for the over-valuation of the stock market and the dollar may not lie entirely at Greenspan's feet, he does bear a large share of the responsibility. Back at the end of 1996 (when the market was about half its recent highs), Greenspan did warn about the possibility that irrational exuberance had overtaken the stock market. But most of his subsequent comments were more oblique, leaving open the possibility that stock prices could make sense. Given the seriousness of the problem, it would have been entirely appropriate for Greenspan to use his bully pulpit at the Fed to warn of the consequences of a seriously over-valued stock market. He could have presented lectures on this topic in his Congressional testimony, in the same way that he has lectured about the dangers of budget deficits on numerous occasions. Given Mr. Greenspan's standing in financial circles, it is hard to believe that such lectures would not have had an effect. The same applies to the over-valuation of the dollar.

Woodward is almost completely oblivious to this set of issues. While the possibility of a stock bubble is mentioned at several points, it is never treated as though it were a serious problem. The history of the Great Depression and the current example of a Japanese economy left to stagnate for a decade after the collapse of its bubble in 1989 should have been sufficient to get Woodward's attention.

Similarly, Greenspan gets the final, and often only, word on the disputes of the past. For example, we get the account of his decision to raise interest rates in 1994-5 to head off inflation. Woodward tells us about the objections raised within the Clinton Administration to a policy which slowed the economy and cost jobs. However, at the end of the day, Woodward tells us that inflation remained under control, and the unemployment rate eventually fell to its current levels of close to 4.0 percent.

Woodward seems to feel that this history vindicated Greenspan's rate hikes, when the reality is the opposite. Greenspan raised interest rates because he accepted the prevailing view within the economics profession at the time, that unemployment rates below 6.0 percent would lead to higher inflation. The subsequent history showed that there was no necessary link between the unemployment rate and inflation, and that the unemployment rate could fall far below 6.0 percent without triggering inflation. Had Greenspan not raised interest rates in 1994 and 1995, the economy would have grown faster in these years and the unemployment rate would have dropped more quickly. Millions of people needlessly went unemployed in these years, and the economy lost more than $100 billion in output. History has shown that Alan Greenspan was wrong.

There are many other places where Woodward's naive hero worship and ignorance of economics lead him to go astray. The Greenspan story is certainly an interesting one which deserves to be told. It is unfortunate that this book could not have been written by someone with more understanding of the subject matter and a more open mind on the subject.

4-0 out of 5 stars Greenspan's Firm Hand on the Wheel
Have you ever wondered who exactly the "Fed" is, and how they control the unseen levers of the American economy? Quick...what's the difference between the "Fed Funds rate" and the "discount rate?" What influence does partisan politics have on this whole process? Who exactly is Alan Greenspan, and why did we never hear about any Fed Chairman prior his tenure? Bob Woodward addresses these questions, and many more, in this compact, entertaining, and informative volume.

Maestro starts off with Alan Greenspan assuming the Fed Chairman levers of power from Paul Volcker in 1987, shortly before the "Black Monday" meltdown, and takes us through his unprecedented appointment to a fourth term in early 2000 by a most unlikely soul mate, President Bill Clinton. With Maestro, author Bob Woodward continues to fill the literary niche that he has for his past several books: writing about subjects and events that are too topical and recent to be seen in a fully objective historical context, yet producing a volume that has much more depth and substance than day-to-day journalistic coverage. Woodward's access to the Washington elite is unrivaled, and this book, as many of his previous ones, relies heavily on the journalistic tradition of the unnamed source.

Maestro takes us into the meetings of both the FOMC, and the Fed Board of Governors. Woodward lets us be a "fly on the wall" in those meetings, and allows us to hear the discussion, interchange, and debate about the national and international economy that precedes a change in the Fed funds rate or discount rate. We see the Board of Governors, and Greenspan himself, as brilliant but fallible human beings who, like the rest of us, see their jobs and obligations through the prism of their own political viewpoints. Additionally, though, Woodward takes us into minds of the individual members, through what certainly were many off-the-record interviews, to see how the Governors feel about the process, and about Chairman Greenspan himself. Viewpoints range from admiration and deference to jealousy and envy, and Woodward lays it all down for us. In one scene, Woodward shares with us a somewhat frustrated President Clinton venting his emotions through an impersonation of the Fed Chairman, right in the Oval Office, to the side-splitting laughter of the President's advisors. Granted, this doesn't have the national importance of "seventeen minutes of missing tape," but it does make for good reading.

Woodward, as usual, maintains a laser focus on his subject, refusing to be diverted for more than a minute by the Clinton-Lewinsky fiasco, or even by areas of Greenspan's life that he doesn't deem as relevant. At first, I found myself hungry for more details about Greenspan as a person: what does he like to do in his spare time? What kind of a neighbor would he be? It doesn't take long to realize, however, that with Greenspan, the professional is the personal. He has no children that we know of, just married his longtime sweetheart (NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell) in 1997, takes only one brief vacation a year, and has been absorbed in studying economic data since 1948. Greenspan truly exhibits the meaning of the old saying, "Do what you love and you'll never work another day in your life."

You don't need an MBA or a PhD in Economics to understand and appreciate this book. Woodward includes a helpful glossary in the back that I, even as the possessor of one of the two above-noted degrees, found myself referring to with some frequency. Not only does one not need vast empirical economic knowledge to appreciate this book, the reader may even get more out of this book without it. The most significant drawback of this book is the lack of a sense of completion. Greenspan's story is a work in progress, and this book with undoubtedly be regarded in the future as perhaps an interim analysis of his accomplishments. The book ends just when the tech stock slide is beginning. The most relevant questions are yet to be answered: how have perceptions of Greenspan been altered by the slowing economy? Will President Bush reappoint Greenspan to a fifth term in 2004? If not, how will the President replace the man that has become synonymous with the Chairmanship itself? Is any succession planning underway? One can only hope that Woodward stays in contact with his spiderweb of sources, and shares that information with us in a future work.

3-0 out of 5 stars Far too superficial for its topic
Bob Woodward will probably go down in history as one of America's most influential journalists. In collaboration with Carl Bernstein, Woodward publicized the Watergate scandal and helped to bring down the Nixon presidency. His efforts to reveal the truth may have single-handedly changed the relationship between the media and politics.

Woodward has already been blessed with his 15 minutes of fame. His latest work, "Maestro: Greenspan's Fed and the American Boom," represents neither earth-shattering importance nor an erudite treatment of his subject, Alan Greenspan and his reign over the Federal Reserve.

To its merit, "Maestro" does shed a surprising amount of light on a once mysterious and self-consciously secretive organization. The inner-workings of the Fed and its policy-making are depicted with excellent detail, as Woodward takes the reader through the bumpy rides of setting interest rates from 1987-2000. And for non-economic types, Woodward does a pretty decent job explaining how monetary policy works and what the implications are for increasing interest rates or expanding the money supply.

Yet it is a shame Woodward is not an economist himself because his book suffers from a lack of depth on certain issues. The work's treatment of developments over the last decade, including the savings and loan scandals of the late '80s and the Asian financial crises of the '90s, is rather superficial.

What is most bothersome about Woodward's work is its failure to point out many of the negative conclusions the details of the work might necessitate. The author's editorial on his subject is one of pure praise, as he attempts to elevate the status of Greenspan to that of a modern hero. The truth is far more complicated than the rose-colored picture Woodward would like to paint.

One of the scariest points Woodward's book fails to make is that the position of chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee is perhaps the most powerful seat of economic policymaking in the United States. Many students of the Fed's operations grow up believing that interest rates are set by the democratic vote of a committee of economists. In reality, the monetary power of the last 13 years has rested in the judgement of one man.

Greenspan's career epitomized the struggle to push the envelope on limitations to power. The chairman was the master of the FOMC, and before each meeting, he polled and called every member to figure out each one's stance on whether to raise or lower interest rates. Since the chairman always speaks last at an FOMC meeting, Greenspan often could plea for the universal support of his decisions, and his careful rhetoric frequently was enough to achieve the policy outcomes he desired. There were even times from 1988-1999, when the committee voted to allow Greenspan to make minor adjustments in the Fed Funds rate between meetings, giving him complete monetary control.

We are all lucky that Greenspan has handled the responsibility of his power with such sobriety. What if Greenspan had not been so judicious? An America where the sovereign economic policymaker was a bumbling idiot would resemble the despair of 1929, when interest rates were raised even after the stock markets crashed. The very idea that determining the Fed Funds rate could rest in the hands of a moron is a scary thought.

Another frightening notion Woodward doesn't elucidate is the number of problems with the way our system allocates its human capital. Many of those on the FOMC were there simply because they had political ties and connections. If Greenspan were to resign tomorrow, party friendships and political allies could influence the new appointment.

Often when economic policymaking is submerged in politics, short-run prosperity is prioritized, and little thought is given to where things will head five or 10 years down the road. If we had a Fed chairman who - because he was a pawn of politics - strove for break-neck growth without regard to price stability, disaster could occur. Woodward strives to make the point that Greenspan always has tried to put his job above factionalism, but Woodward fails to recognize that future Fed chairmen may not behave the same way.

Overall, Woodward's "Maestro" gives a decent overview of the history of economic developments and monetary policy in the last decade. The book's flaws lie not in the display of facts but rather in its pure, unquestioning praise of its central figure, Alan Greenspan. I would not disagree with statements that Greenspan has done his job especially well. He, however, has been fortunate, as circumstances beyond his control contributed to the record expansion of our economy and our subsequent prosperity. Greenspan's ability as Fed chairman surely will be tested as our economy slows, and whether we continue to prosper will determine if he really has, as Woodward says, a "mastery of process."

4-0 out of 5 stars Engaging, Surprising, and Informative
I read this book wanting to be better informed about how The Fed and Greenspan operate, and wound up being thoroughly educated and entertained understanding how banks, the White House and Washington DC political appointments work. I never thought I would ever use the phrase "hard-to-put-down" in connection with an economics/banking book but this one did it. It was a real page turner and definitely one of Bob Woodward's most underrated and under-discussed books. (No caller mentioned this work during his 3-hour C-Span interview a few months back.) Get your hands on a copy of this book and prepare for an interesting and enjoyable ride. My one complaint: I wish it were longer. Although this book answered all my "Fed" questions, I wished its time track would continue to the present, or perhaps delve a little deeper into the past. But this complaint notwithstanding, the book was still an excellent and engaging read.

3-0 out of 5 stars Maestro, Greenspan's "Biography"
This book was basically a miniature biography on the life of Alan Greenspan. Except this book does not really go into Greenspan's personal life, the only feature of this book that is not included about Alan Greenspan is his personal life. Although once or twice Greenspan's girlfriend, Andrea Mitchel was mentioned. For the most part this entire book solely focusses on Greenspan's work as an economist for the United States government. In my personal opinion Bob Woodward basically just stated facts and had no criticism whatsoever throughout this entire book this is the only part that bugged me. Woodward basically just wrote straight facts and tried a little too hard to make Greenspan look incredibly good in the end. ... Read more


85. Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed Kills
by Charles Henderson
list price: $7.99
our price: $7.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0425103552
Catlog: Book (1991-09-01)
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Sales Rank: 7954
Average Customer Review: 4.35 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Marine Sniper is not only one of the most astonishing true stories to emerge from the Vietnam War, it has become a classic of military nonfiction, inspiring a sequel, Silent Warrior: The Marine Sniper's Vietnam Story Continues.

There have been many Marines. There have been many marksmen. But there has only been one Sergeant Carlos Hathcock. A legend in the Marine ranks, Hathcock stalked the Viet Cong behind enemy lines-on their own ground. And each time he emerged from the jungle having done his duty. His record is one of the finest in military history, with 93 confirmed kills.

This is the story of a simple man who endured incredible dangers and hardships for his country and his Corps. These are the missions that have made Carlos Hathcock a legend in the brotherhood of Marines.

"Highly readable." (Publishers Weekly)
... Read more

Reviews (161)

5-0 out of 5 stars A compelling account of a true American hero's exploits!
While I myself didn't follow in my dad's footsteps as a Marine (he was Marine Air Group 61 in WWII--HURRAH!) but went in the Air Force instead (Security Forces--HOOAH!), the Corps still holds a special place in my heart, and reading this gripping story of Carlos Hathcock's exploits reminded me of why I will always love the Corps, even if I didn't wind up joining. Reading the book has made Gunny Hatchcock one of my all-time heroes, and it made me wish to hell the USAF had a sniper program! I lent this book to one of my SF buddies in exchange for Charles Sasser's "One Shot, One Kill" (another great read). America lost a true hero a couple of years back when Carlos passed away, and may God rest his soul. Kudos to Charles Henderson for at least keeping this outstanding troop's memory alive! Semper Fi!

5-0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the best book I've ever read
Practically everyone who knows me has heard me rave on and on about this book. I read it for the first time about 4 years ago, after picking it up while browsing through the bookstore. I read the excerpt at the front recounting the Vietnamese general's final moments and I was hooked. I recently finished it again, and it was even better this time. Everything that happens to Hathcock seems like something out of a movie; something no mortal man could survive. I learned to respect the discipline and will-power of a well-trained Marine, and was left in awe of the effectiveness of the sniper. Charles Henderson does his part, too. He not only tells Hathcock's incredible story, but makes it an immersive, addictive one to read. Through his clear and descriptive writing, the reader is transported back in time to the dark "Charlie"-filled jungles of Vietnam, where he lies beside the sniper known as "Long Tra'ng" and experiences not only the satisfaction of a well-placed shot, but also the emotional struggles that a man must deal with when he takes the life of another one. Undoubtedly a timeless classic

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book
Marine Sniper by Charles Henderson is one of the most gripping books I have ever read. It is the story of Carlos Hatchcock, the forefather of the Marine Sniper program. This book tells of his epic adventures in the jungles of Vietnam. His deadly accuracy and stealth abilities earned him 93 confirmed kills. It tells of his struggles and bravery in the field of battle. It relates account after account of how Carlos stalked the enemy for days on end and used his excellent marksmanship skills to deliver deadly shot after deadly shot. Charles Henderson's purpose in writing this book is to tell the forgotten story of Carlos Hathcock. Once you start this book, you won't be able to put it down; it puts you on the front line with the brave snipers who gave their all. Marine Sniper gives true testament to the struggles and triumphs of the snipers of Vietnam.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
This book is excellent and better than most fiction along these lines (truth is stranger/better than fiction). The writing does an excellent job of getting to know the sniper. There is a fair amount of jumping around in time, but it never leaves the reader lost. It seems to lose some consistency when Hathcock comes home the first time, almost as if there was a change in authors (perhaps it was done at a later time). Still, definitely a book worth reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars A favorite among service members
Written by two fellow Marines, one of whom served as Hathcock's commanding officer, this tale chronicles the life of the most notorious sniper in Vietnam. Marine Sniper touches on the issues that faced wounded vets upon returning home, the grim conditions snipers dealt with in the field, and the role that Hathcock played in establishing the Corps' scout sniper program.
Another apsect that this book deals with is the stigma that haunts snipers throughout the service in the military and beyond. Having personally served with them, I know they are routinely looked down upon as cold-blooded killers and mercenaries. Ironically, it is often artillery and air units that house the most disdain for snipers, while their bombs and shells indiscriminately kill more than the sniper's selective rounds ever could. Henderson approaches this from the frustated pov of the sniper and how they dealt with monikers like "murder, inc." and similar slurs.
Also, check out the sequel, Silent Warrior, which tells the same story from different points of view. A must read for Marines and all service members alike. ... Read more


86. Losing My Virginity : How I've Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way
by RICHARD BRANSON
list price: $16.00
our price: $10.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812932293
Catlog: Book (1999-10-19)
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Sales Rank: 2296
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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Book Description


"Oh, screw it, let's do it."

That's the philosophy that has allowed Richard Branson, in slightly more than twenty-five years, to spawn so many successful ventures. From the airline business (Virgin Atlantic Airways), to music (Virgin Records and V2), to cola (Virgin Cola), to retail (Virgin Megastores), and nearly a hundred others, ranging from financial services to bridal wear, Branson has a track record second to none.

Losing My Virginity is the unusual, frequently outrageous autobiography of one of the great business geniuses of our time. When Richard Branson started his first business, he and his friends decided that "since we're complete virgins at business, let's call it just that: Virgin." Since then, Branson has written his own "rules" for success, creating a group of companies with a global presence, but no central headquarters, no management hierarchy, and minimal bureaucracy.

Many of Richard Branson's companies--airlines, retailing, and cola are good examples--were started in the face of entrenched competition. The experts said, "Don't do it." But Branson found golden opportunities in markets in which customers have been ripped off or underserved, where confusion reigns, and the competition is complacent.
And in this stressed-out, overworked age, Richard Branson gives us a new model: a dynamic, hardworking, successful entrepreneur who lives life to the fullest. Family, friends, fun, and adventure are equally important as business in Branson's life. Losing My Virginity is a portrait of a productive, sane, balanced life, filled with rich and colorful stories:


  • Crash-landing his hot-air balloon in the Algerian desert, yet remaining determined to have another go at being the first to circle the globe

  • Signing the Sex Pistols, Janet Jackson, the Rolling Stones, Boy George, and Phil Collins

  • Fighting back when British Airways took on Virgin Atlantic and successfully suing this pillar of the British business establishment

  • Swimming two miles to safety during a violent storm off the coast of Mexico

  • Selling Virgin Records to save Virgin Atlantic

  • Staging a rescue flight into Baghdad before the start of the Gulf War . . .

And much more. Losing My Virginity is the ultimate tale of personal and business survival from a man who combines the business prowess of Bill Gates and the promotional instincts of P. T. Barnum.

Also available in the UK from Virgin Publishing, and in Canada from General Publishing, ... Read more

Reviews (85)

5-0 out of 5 stars Do It Branson's Way
Losing My Virginity is one of the most captivating, enjoyable, and surprising autobiographies I've read. Whether or not you have followed Virgin's (and Branson's) success, this book is definitely a worthwhile read - both for the content and for the style. From the age of 17, Branson shows how his adventuresome nature, competitive spirit, and pure drive (in addition, of course, to a more than fair share of good luck) have helped him succeed. And unless you've followed his life closely, you'll be surprised at just how many business areas he's had his fingers in. From aiding in the success of the Sex Pistols, to launching Virgin Cola Atlantic, and Brides, Branson has seemingly done it all. It's a great story and an enthralling read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolute page turner!
This is a great book! I read an excerpt while in London and got it as soon as it was available here. I read it in 4 days, which is quite rapid for me.

Richard Branson has lived an incredible life, and he details the successes and failures in his business career and his personal endeavors.

I think this book is highly entertaining and very useful to people interested in bettering themselves. Branson's business philosophy is described through the work which opened my eyes to a number of possibilites.

I only wish there was a volume two available that I could look forward to reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars A different path in life and business
While Branson is certainly intelligent, creative, and perseverant, his business ventures illustrate just how much luck and good timing play into becoming successful. The stories also show how people pursue numerous ideas, end up failing at many of them, learn from prior experience, and finally -at long last- they break through. Branson's business pursuits are a testament to value investing - make a number of risks with a limited downside, yet a few can pan out and pay off handsomely. The importance of networking is also shown, which is how Branson connected with new ideas and valuable people.

Branson's adventures are great reminder of all the fun and excitement life has to offer. What a contrast to most people's habits of passively sitting in front of the television, routinely doing chores, and other low-energy ways of passing the time. While most people are not going to go out and literally risk their life, this does serve a useful point of comparison.

This is a quick, action-packed read, full of insights into business and life. Recommended to a wide range of readers, who will find this informative, interesting, and enjoyable.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent, superb, exquisite...
An amazingly fast paced narrative full of adrenaline pumping narratives of corporate rivalry and raw aggressive enterprunal instincts almost all of which came good at almost all the right times interspersed with crazy and ambitious life threatening balloon expeditions. The story of Richard Branson told by Richard Branson almost reads like a bestseller Michael Crichton novel and not an Autobiography. I really was not aware that the virgin group of companies has under it's flagship (can you believe this) 200 companies and all this created just by the positive energy and never say die attitude of a man whose mantra is "anything is worth a shot at least once". And he really applies this as Branson dabbled his fingers in almost anything and everything so that from the beginnings of a record company virgin music (which he later sold to EMI), he created Virgin Atlantic airways, virgin cars, virgin rails, virgin cola, virgin books, Virgin holidays, Virgin insurance, Virgin cinemas, Virgin wear and even - Virgin Bridal! There are a lot more Virgin companies, which need to total around 200 making up Virgin Group as a whole. I kept glancing at the cover and kept rechecking whether this was an autobiography or a piece of fiction. If some one had even written a novel, which scripted the whole Virgin story, I would have found the plot too unbelievably fairy tallish even if it inhabited a fictional world. Branson is as candid as he can be in this book. Although if he has left out anything, we will never know and don't have the right to know in any case. Also if he presents his viewpoint on the battle against British airways as a righteous crusade painting himself as a hero, he has every right to, as this is his autobiography. The most exciting parts of the book are the balloon expedition narratives and the most suspenseful is the narrative of the crusade against the 'dirty tricks' campaign by lord King of BA (This part is almost like a first rate novel, you'll forget you are reading an autobiography, full of intrigue, corporate skullduggery and potentially damaging but 'untrue and baseless' journalistic exposes planned by some papers against RB albeit with the supposed help of the BA dirty tricks wing.This is the best autobiography I have yet read. Most mainstream bestseller novels will seem dull in comparison to this action packed success story, which actually happened to a person. In fact I would love to read the other side of the story regarding BA and RB. Would be interesting to read a book on BA by someone from BA and how it compares to what RB has to say. After reading this book, I have stuck RB's poster to my cupboard which when I look at immediately inspires me to stay positive and to persist carrying on chugging away at achieving my goals and to laugh off the temporary setback and carry on.

4-0 out of 5 stars Awe inspiring; minus the Epilogue.
The book is brilliant, inspiring yada yada yada. I read the latest edition of this book which included a few pages of pictures at each quarter of the book. The pictures were an essential part of Branson's story as each event, as unbelievable as they sounded, was then driven home by the stunning reality portrayed in the pictures.

My only criticism of the book is that after the last chapter Branson has included an Epilogue that spanned the years from around 1997 through to around 2003. I found this addition to the book poorly written and a half hearted attempt from Branson. The events were repetitive and particularly boring. By this stage I found myself completely "Virgined OUT." If I was to read another word about another Virgin anything, I think I would have screamed!

It was delightful to hear about a company growing from nothing into something great. Unfortunately after the Epilogue, I am left with the taste in my mouth that Virgin has become what Branson fought so hard to defeat. ... Read more


87. 25 to Life: The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth
by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice, Tom Shachtman, Leslie Crocker Snyder, Tom Schactman
list price: $26.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446530204
Catlog: Book (2002-09-23)
Publisher: Warner Books
Sales Rank: 189175
Average Customer Review: 3.57 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

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

Reviews (7)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


88. Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty
by Muhammad Yunus
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1586481983
Catlog: Book (2003-10-01)
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Sales Rank: 14951
Average Customer Review: 4.71 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This autobiography of the world-renowned, visionary economist who came up with a simple but revolutionary solution to end world poverty--micro-credit--has become the classic text for a growing movement.

In 1983 Muhammad Yunus established Grameen, a bank devoted to providing the poorest of Bangladesh with miniscule loans. He aimed to help the poor by supporting the spark of personal initiative and enterprise by which they could lift themselves out of poverty forever. It was an idea born on a day in 1976 when he loaned $27 from his own pocket to forty-two people living in a tiny village. They were stool makers who only needed enough credit to purchase the raw materials for their trade. Yunus's loan helped them break the cycle of poverty and changed their lives forever. His solution to world poverty, founded on the belief that credit is a fundamental human right, is brilliantly simple: loan poor people money on terms that are suitable to them, teach them a few sound financial principles, and they will help themselves.

Yunus's theories work. Grameen Bank has provided 3.8 billion dollars to 2.4 million families in rural Bangladesh. Today, more than 250 institutions in nearly 100 countries operate micro-credit programs based on the Grameen methodology, placing Grameen at the forefront of a burgeoning world movement toward eradicating poverty through micro-lending. ... Read more

Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars Deeply Moving & Motivating!
If you know the story of Grameen Bank, and wanted to know more about the founder - I don't need to say anymore.

If you haven't heard of Grameen, prepare yourself to learn about a bank which has overturned the conventional wisdom about helping people who live in poverty.

Yunus' big idea can be put very simply: people who live on less than $1 per day (3 billion people) don't need to be tought how to feed themselves and survive - the very fact that they are alive is testament to their abilities.

His approach rests upon that faith in people's ability to help themselves, if given access to the very small amounts of loan capital they need to start a profitable venture - whether that is weaving cloth or repairing bicycles.

The road to reaching more than 2 million people in Bangladesh, and many other millions worldwide, wasn't smooth. What you get from reading this book is a sense that sometimes the 'homegrown' solution beats the 'imposed' ideas from the developed world.

A challenging book for liberals and conservatives alike!

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I read
Mohammad Yunus story is truly inspiring.
Makes you question the rules of capitalism.

Writing style makes it very interesting to read.
I am glad I read ths book.

4-0 out of 5 stars The pioneer of microlending...
The story of the Grameen bank is an excellent example of how social change initiatives can be combined with government and private industry support to acheive a greater outcome than the organization could acheive by itself. Yunus provides an excellent chronicle of his bank's formation as well as explaining its principles. Highly recommended for anyone interested in social entrepreneurship or social change. The only shortcomings are: 1) as a finance person, I would like to have read more about the operational side of the banks relative to their commercial competitors - what specific factors enabled them to be so successful (other than the broad social factors he identifies)? 2) Need more information about how these types of programs can be applied to industrialized nations such as the US.

5-0 out of 5 stars Small loan impacts on the lives of third world peoples
In 1983 Yunus established a bank devoted to providing the poorest of Bangladesh with small loans, aiming to help the poor by supporting them with his own enterprise. Yunus' small loans paid off big time, and this provides a review of his theories of small loan impacts on the lives of third world peoples. An intriguing, important guide packed with ramifications for all.

4-0 out of 5 stars Practical help
I can only agree with the other reviews of this book, but I would like to add that anyone who appreciates what Yunus has done might also read 'The Mystery of Capitalism' by Hernando de Soto. Both de Soto and Yunus underline the importance of using market-based mechanisms to alleviate poverty at the grass-roots level (de Soto suggests giving squatters and illegal workers legal title to the land they occupy and the goods they have so they can use them as collateral to raise capital and receive infrastructure). P.J. O'Rourke makes the same point in several places, but he is writing from a quasi-comedic point of view.

If the past 25 years of history has been about anything, it is about the bankruptcy of the command economy. Warts and all, market-based solutions are the only way forward. The ideas of Yunus and de Soto are, above all, practical - which is probably why policymakers will overlook them in favour of big-money projects, grand pronouncements, and other things that don't work. ... Read more


89. In My Brother's Shadow
by Uwe Timm
list price: $18.00
our price: $12.24
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374103747
Catlog: Book (2005-04-20)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Sales Rank: 26226
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Book Description

A renowned German novelist's memoir of his brother, who joined the SS and was killed at the Russian front.

Uwe Timm was only two years old when in 1942 his older brother, Karl Heinz, announced to his family he had volunteered for service with an elite squadron of the German army, the SS Totenkopf Division, also known as Death's Heads.Little more than a year later Karl Heinz was injured in battle at the Russian front, his legs amputated, and a few weeks after that he died in a military hospital. To their father, Karl Heinz's death only served to immortalize him as the courageous one, the obedient one, the one who upheld the family honor. His childhood was marked by the mythology of his brother's lost life; his absence-the hole he left in the family-just as palpable as if he were still alive.His mother's sadness and his father's rage over the loss of Karl Heinz ultimately defined Uwe's relationship with his parents.But while they eulogized the boy, Uwe wondered: who really had his brother been?

The life and death of his older brother has haunted Uwe Timm for more than sixty years.His parents' silence was one of the most painful aspects of his family history. Not even after the war ended, and details of unspeakable horrors emerged, did his parents ever acknowledge Germany's guilt and Karl Heinz's role in it. They simply said: We didn't know. After the deaths of his parents and older sister Timm set out in search of answers. Using military reports, letters, family photos and cryptic entries from a diary his brother kept during the war, he began to piece together the picture, discovering his brother's story is not just that of one man, but the tragedy of an entire generation. In the Shadow of My Brother is a meditation on German history and guilt, one that is both nuanced and measured.
... Read more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

... Read more

Reviews (19)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



... Read more


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


92. The Promise : How One Woman Made Good on Her Extraordinary Pact to Send a Classroom of1st Graders to College
by ORAL LEE BROWN, CAILLE MILLNER
list price: $22.95
our price: $15.61
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385511477
Catlog: Book (2005-04-05)
Publisher: Doubleday
Sales Rank: 31934
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this book.
This book is written the way that an average person speaks, which is to say that it rambles a bit and frequently repeats things;but it's an easy read that I think every reader (both young and old) should find very approachable.As literature goes, it's not a great work of linguistic mastery.That being said, this is an excellent book that I wish everyone would read, because there's an extremely important lesson for all of us here.

Oral Lee Brown first recognized the very root cause of the brutal cycle of poverty that persists in America (it's the education system, people!), and then she tackled that problem in one of the most extraordinary ways I've ever heard of.Her story is brilliant and inspiring.And as I said before, I hope that it reaches as many people as possible, and will serve as an inspiration to us all.Great story, great lady, 5 stars.

4-0 out of 5 stars AHeart of Gold
I first heard of Oral Lee Brown a few years ago when one of the children from her original class was accidentally killed. I read a little about Mrs. Brown and when the book came up for review I had to get to know the lady behind the heart. I was not disappointed, this book displays an angel in disguise.A humble woman who just wants to do all she can for those in need. Determined, dedicated and courageous are words I would use to describe her and each of the classes her foundation takes on.The child who initially inspired Oral Lee to start her foundation, was an angel sent from God, to help Mrs. Brown fulfill her purpose here on earth.In addition, to this being an inspiring read, there are tips on applying for college found at the end for both parents and students. If you need inspiration to do something you have been putting off, reading THE PROMISE will give you the motivation you need.

Reviewed by Eraina B. Tinnin
of The RAWSISTAZ™Reviewers

5-0 out of 5 stars The author is a hero in my book....
Words fail me when it comes to Ms. Oral Lee Brown.We were living in the bay area when the Oakland Tribune and other media were reporting on her promise to send an entire 1st grade class to college.A real estate woman who was making less than 50k a year and a big heart and a bigger faith in God is what made her quest and her story so awesome.

And she made some big sacrifices and it did put a bit of a strain on her marriage and family life.And for some of the students parents who worked 2-3 jobs just to support their families, she would often step in and volunteer to attend PTA and parent-teacher meetings and report back to the parent(s).It wasn't just funds she was setting aside for college expenses but her time and energy.

As silly as it may sound she often gives as an example, that instead of buying shoes for her kids at Macy's she would buy shoes at Payless (just like many of us). And she would work more than one job herself.

What she shows is that if a woman who makes less than 50k a year can set aside money for twelve years to send a couple dozen kids to college, then a huge number of Americans can and should try to do the same.

What if a handful of citizens in a given city/town/village/community were to set up a foundation like she did, and raise money to put next years first grade class thru college in twelve years?

Education is power, and while we homeschooled, I still believe that no matter the educational choice, that any child who can get into a Jr. college or four year institution should have that guarantee of funding.

Ms. Oral Lee Brown is a hero of mine. ... Read more


93. PersonalHistory
by KATHARINE GRAHAM
list price: $40.00
our price: $26.40
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394585852
Catlog: Book (1997-02-03)
Publisher: Knopf
Sales Rank: 128704
Average Customer Review: 4.12 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (113)

5-0 out of 5 stars She did live an amazing life
I'm so glad that I found this book. It was like reading a history book that was both nurturing and fun. Through Personal History, Graham proved herself to be a wonderful writer and a person.

She was born to a wealthy family, married to a brilliant man, and later in her life, became one of the most powerful persons in Washington and in journalism. Katharine Graham indeed was a living history.

Katharine Graham was well- born and intellectual, which led her to meet some of the most important and famous people in the world. These include the Presidents of the US, leaders of the world, and people who shaped Washington like herself. Some people, like my husband, say this book is all about name dropping, but I totally don't agree with them. The people Graham mentions in the book are not just ordinary people; a lot of these people are mentioned in other people's biographies and major newspapers.

Even though Katharine Graham was named one of the most powerful persons in the world, she portrays herself in the most humblist way. Personal History is written in the most detailed and humorous way, so I felt as though I didn't miss much of her life story at all. It was overall very easy reading. She describes the vital events and the people she met during her life time in detail and with her total memory.

I learned a lot about the journalism and the Watergate incident from reading this book, and agree that this book deserves Pulitzer Prize.

5-0 out of 5 stars Katie, We Hardly Knew Ye...
Few passings have effected me in the manner in which Ms. Graham's did and I went back to my audiotape of her book to revisit the life of the most powerful woman in American journalism. There are so many reviews, it seemed silly to add another, but loyalty drove me to add my two cents. Born to wealth, shy and reserved by choice, controlled by marriage and the societal pressures of the day, this woman broke out of the preset mold after the long mental illness and eventual suicide of her husband to take the Washington Post to the people and to the Fortune 500 list. She gave the order to run with the Watergate story, to publish the Pentagon Papers, and lived through the pressman's strike. I reveled in her story as read by the woman herself. I cried when her voice broke as she retold the death of her life partner and her regrets about her sometimes limited parenting skills. Katharine Graham crows about her successes and openly admits her failings. Not the usual celebrity self worship and well worth hearing. I'll miss you, Katie.

4-0 out of 5 stars A BUTTERFLY SPREADS HER WINGS
Today I finished Personal History by Katharine Graham, longtime publisher of the Washington Post.

It's interesting, because Kay Graham is such a legendary figure in Washington, lauded for having stuck it out as the only woman in a man's world (business executives in the 60s/70s/80s).

But yet, she is not the steadfast person that everyone believes her to be. She has to deal with a husband with manic depression, and his eventual suicide. Her one son volunteers for Vietnam, the other gets arrested for protesting it.

She basically suddenly finds herself CEO after Phil (Graham's) death, and almost drowns under the pressure, but somehow manages to stick it through. Even when she does the right thing, she often second guesses herself and is extremely sensitive to criticism.

The book seems to unfold as a butterfly emerges from a cocoon; at first she can hide behind her father and then her husband, but eventually must learn to make things fly on her own.

Towards the end it gets more business-y, with some CEO jargon and discussions about the Post company. I thought it was kind of boring how she seemed to name every single person she ever hired or fired.

But some parts are really interesting. Especially the bits about her childhood, the Pentagon Papers, and Watergate.

I would really recommend this book as a good read. Kay Graham is like Forrest Gump- she's done a little of everything.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
This is a very personal autobiography of Katharine Graham, one of the most influential women of the Twentieth Century. Graham begins her story with the tale of how her parents met at an art exhibition, and relates the events of her early childhood. She explains how her father came to purchase the Washington Post, and how she alone amongst her siblings was truly drawn to the paper from her teenage years. She goes on to describe dating and eventually marrying Phil Graham, and how her father came to pass the management of the newspaper on to him. Later, she details Graham's descent into mental illness leading to his suicide, and how it finally fell onto her shoulders to lead the paper. Her most fascinating stories, however, come from her tenure as publisher of the Post, covering the turbulent period from the release of the Pentagon Papers, to the uncovering of the Watergate scandal and to the lengthy pressmen's strike against the Post in the 1970s.

The story is indeed a personal one, in which Graham documents events from her own point of view. As I read this book, I was constantly aware that Graham may have chosen to leave out some details and emphasize others in order to show herself in the best light. But since this is an autobiography, such a subjective account is perfectly reasonable. This is history as Graham would have it told.

5-0 out of 5 stars Helped me view historical incidents differently
Enjoyed the taped version of PERSONAL HISTORY by Katharine
Graham . . . this is the story of how she struggled to make the
WASHINGTON PRESS a success . . . her recollections of the
Pentagon Papers and Watergate helped me see these incidents
from a different perspective . . . but I was most moved by her
account of Phil Graham, her husband and lifelong partner in the
newspaper business . . . his plunge into manic-depression
and eventual suicide were made even more touching by his wife's
excellent job of narration.

I also liked what Katharine Graham had to say at the book's conclusion
about there being "some positives about being old" . . . namely:

Worry, if not gone, no longer haunts you in the middle of the night; and

You are free or freer to turn down the things that bore you and [able to]
spend time on matters and with people that you enjoy. ... Read more


94. Soldiers of God: With Islamic Warriors in Afghanistan and Pakistan
by ROBERT D. KAPLAN
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400030250
Catlog: Book (2001-11)
Publisher: Vintage Books
Sales Rank: 18574
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

First time in paperback, with a new Introduction and final chapter

World affairs expert and intrepid travel journalist Robert D. Kaplan braved the dangers of war-ravaged Afghanistan in the 1980s, living among the mujahidin—the “soldiers of god”—whose unwavering devotion to Islam fueled their mission to oust the formidable Soviet invaders. In Soldiers of God we follow Kaplan’s extraordinary journey and learn how the thwarted Soviet invasion gave rise to the ruthless Taliban and the defining international conflagration of the twenty-first century.

Kaplan returns a decade later and brings to life a lawless frontier. What he reveals is astonishing: teeming refugee camps on the deeply contentious Pakistan-Afghanistan border; a war front that combines primitive fighters with the most technologically advanced weapons known to man; rigorous Islamic indoctrination academies; a land of minefields plagued by drought, fierce tribalism, insurmountable ethnic and religious divisions, an abysmal literacy rate, and legions of war orphans who seek stability in military brotherhood. Traveling alongside Islamic guerrilla fighters, sharing their food, observing their piety in the face of deprivation, and witnessing their determination, Kaplan offers a unique opportunity to increase our understanding of a people and a country that are at the center of world events.
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Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars An invaluable book
Kaplan, D. Robert, Solders of God (Vintage Books, New York, NY, November 2001). xxi+254. 1 map. Index. ISBN 1-4000-3025-0.
In his own personal account, Robert D. Kaplan, international affairs expert and war-time journalist, chronicles his journey with the mujahidin ' 'holy warriors' - through the forbidden and vicious landscape of Afghanistan. In Solders of God Kaplan attempts to unravel the sheer chaos of Afghanistan through an inter-personal level of analysis, first by gaining access to some of the most important tribal/resistance leaders, and then accompanying them on their Jihad ' or 'holy war' ' against the Soviet Union. Kaplan purposely uses his experience with the mujahidin to help explain the chain of events over the past 30 years which left the door open for the fanaticism of the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden.
In the 80's 'war-time' reporting was largely focused around the civil war in Lebanon or apartheid in South Africa. Rarely was their a first-hand report from the front lines of Afghanistan, which is what makes Kaplan's accounts of what some journalists call, the 'forgotten war', an invaluable tool in understanding present day international affairs.
During his time with the mujahidin, Kaplan details the lives of these mainly young, devote, and incredibly resistant solders who portray almost superhuman like qualities. As the Sherpas of Nepal have essentially evolved to conquer the highest of altitudes, the mujahidin of Afghanistan have evolved to become some of the world's best guerrilla fighters. Insidious and intolerant as the mujahidin might seem, Kaplan exposes a fissure between the modern day authoritarian Islam of the Arabic world and the more introverted democratic, and egalitarian Islam of the Afghani tribes, specifically the Pathans in the north. Kaplan finds that while they were fanatical, many Afghani Moslems were incredibly tolerant of 'non-believers' and women journalist (who many times felt safest with the mujahidin).
Some of the most shocking pieces of Kaplan's account shows the ferociousness, relentlessness, and brutality of the Soviet invasion. Kaplan describes how the miscalculated and misguided Soviet war of attrition has left the 'footprint' of war on Afghanistan to this very day. Riddled with Soviet landmines, Afghanistan has become a country of amputees, disabling a majority of an already diseased population.
Kaplan's relationship with renowned leaders such as Abdul Haq (Pathan leader; known as the 'Lion of Afghanistan'), Ahmad Shah Massoud (Tajik leader; known as the 'Panshir Lion'), and Hamid Karzi (current Afghan interim leader), allows the reader to better understand the incoherence and complexity of the ethnic and tribal codes that rule Afghani politics.
Because of his intimacy with the Mujahidin, one might criticize Kaplan for romanticizing the bravado and machismo of these Afghan guerrillas. However, rather than romanticize, Kaplan delivers a telling and respectful account of a people and a country 'orphaned by war'.
In Kaplan's final analysis he shifts focus to neighboring Pakistan where the majority of Afghani refugees reside. Combined with past support (financial and political) for the Taliban and a fevering wave of fundamental Islam, seen coming directly from the Saudi sponsored Madrassas (religious schools); an explosive cocktail of factionalism is predicted on the horizon. In a chilling conclusion Kaplan warns of potential Balkanization in Pakistan. However unlike Yugoslavia, Pakistan has a Nuclear Arsenal.

Scott Shadian

5-0 out of 5 stars I hope my Senator has read this book
Kaplan's book should be mandatory reading for every single elected official in the Executive and Legislative branch as well as all of our military leaders. Kaplan's understanding of the forces at play in Afghanistan and Pakistan (which are inextricably linked) is second-to-none. As an Infantry Officer with 6+ months experience in Afghanistan, I can say that reading Kaplan's book gave me great insight into the enemy we are fighting and the relationship that exists between them and their Pakistani neighbors who routinely provide them safe haven outside the reach of the Coalition Forces.
Chock-full of insight that few Westerners have ever been exposed to, Kaplan delivers a phenomenal account of the Mujahideen from the inside-out. I highly recommend this book.

3-0 out of 5 stars The author missed the most important point
Even though Mr. Kaplan goes deeper into the recent Afghan history, he missed the most important point. He does not understand the profound meaning of the life of Ahmad Shah Massoud and the impact of this great leader, with great spirituality and a great vision, in the 23 years of Afghan Resistance. But who does? Very few as always when an important event happens in the world. Good book. Not a great book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting, if biased, account of what was up pre 9/11
As an American living in several parts of the world in which Islam has a strong influence, I have always had a bit of a problem with the mainstream categorization of Islam as a fanatical approach to solving normal human problems.

Kaplan, once again, gets beneath the surface of things to discover that all is not what it seems. As he himself freely admits in the new introduction to this edition, he was somewhat biased by his visceral experiences on the front lines in 1980s Afghanistan, in which he shared life and death with the mujahidin. His square placement of blame on the US for its blind reliance on Pakistan to provide intelligence and diplomacy on the war in Afghanistan is probably a bit short-sighted.

Nevertheless, if anyone has any curiosity about how Bin Laden and his ilk came to find Afghanistan a safe-have, they should read this book. The updated intro and new last chapter are good additions in light of the prescience which lies beneath the surface of the original prose.

5-0 out of 5 stars Superb Account of a Forgotten War
The title of Robert Kaplan's Soldiers of God made me pick this book up and buy it and I was not sure exactly what to expect from it. What I did not expect was a magnificent account of the mujahedeens' long battle against the Soviets, a clearer picture of the geography of Afghanistan, its relationship with Pakistan and the dark years of Soviet invasion.
Kaplan's description and stories about the Mujaheedeen commanders as well as warlords and pro-Soviet leaders of Afghanistan brings the reader into a tumultuous period of the country's past. His proximity and access to some of them makes me feel like I know something about them that readers of newspapers or articles on Afghanistan don't.
His trips into Afghanistan and how he crossed the tough terrain made me marvel. Anecdotes of fellow travellers, photographers, translators, and hosts of the camps where they stopped at pulled me further into this riveting book. Superb work by Kaplan, he shares with us the face of a war that many did not bother to cover. ... Read more


95. Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People
by S. Truett Cathy
list price: $20.00
our price: $14.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1929619081
Catlog: Book (2002-06)
Publisher: Looking Glass Books
Sales Rank: 94830
Average Customer Review: 3.29 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Man To Admire
Ever wondered about Chik-fil-A? What is the secret of its success? Why is it closed on Sunday? Why is it not publicly held? (No, you can't buy stock in it). Where did they get those cows who can't spell? And who is the man behind the concept? In this deceptively short book, S. Truett Cathy talks about his life story and the story of this business.

It is a fascinating American story, a story of struggling up from hard times, building a business with impressive perseverance and personal commitment, and most important, a story of principles. For this is a company that eschews contemporary business fads and slogans, treats its people like valued assets, prizes and practices loyalty, and believes that Christianity should be lived, not just preached.

Interspersed with author Cathy's memoirs are brief vignettes from several Chik-fil-A operators (what they call franchisees), and from others who have blossomed under Cathy's encouraging ministrations. He does a lot more than sell chicken sandwiches. He has made a life work of encouraging others. He also sponsors a network of foster homes, and is (appropriately) proud of the many, hundreds, of children who call him their grandfather.

Although it is a short book, it is intense, and it is challenging, because it makes you ask yourself questions. It is not the light reading it appears to be. It forces you to look at your own values, loyalty, and commitment. It is well worth reading. If you would like the chance to meet a really great man of our times, even if it's only in his book, then I strongly recommend Eat Mor Chikin! Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber

4-0 out of 5 stars Redefining success...
S. Truett Cathy's story is an inspiring one in many ways. Born into a family that was poor and facing difficult times, he nonetheless had the willpower and grace to make it through to become a fine example of the American success story, with a thriving business across the country. Cathy has made an effort in his business enterprises to continue to inspire people, holding fast to his basic principles.

This is not a business book - many readers may be disappointed, but it is not a 'how-to' book with strategies for successful chain-restaurant management, building or marketing. Instead, this is an inspirational book and autobiographical reflection on the part of Cathy; his business holds true to Cathy's understanding of what Christian principles should be, and this is rather rare in society, but this is a book about those principles, rather than the business.

Cathy had many set-backs and many unexpected opportunities arise in his life. One thing Cathy seems consistent about is that he always looked for the will of God in these events. Faith is the foundation of Cathy's business plan. The book contains many short stories and personal anecdotes from Cathy's life, some of which may seem unbelievably fortuitous. Cathy spends a great deal of time laying out the charitable works he and his company engage in, too, partly for a bit of marketing I'm sure, but also as a subtle model and reminder to other corporate executives and businesses that they have a responsibility to the greater community.

One might be tempted to wonder, does God really get involved in corporate success this way? Is the answer for a business to close on Sundays? (We shall leave aside the question about whether the Sabbath is really supposed to be Saturday, rather than Sunday.) Was God the inspiration behind the successful marketing campaign, whose slogan makes up the title - Eat Mor Chikin? This would be to miss the point of Cathy's stories, which, if there is a single point, would be to give thanks to God for his own success (something rarely done in business today, even by otherwise religious people) and to show through personal example some of the things one can do from this position of success.

A few questions that might have been addressed might include how a struggling business (vs. a successful one) can afford to incorporate these ideas, and how general principles can be integrated seamlessly into the mix without it becoming a problem. Overall this is an interesting book, a bit on the lighter side, and one to be read for enjoyment rather than business education.

5-0 out of 5 stars Cathy shares successful recipe for both business and life
I purchased this book expecting (and perhaps hoping) for a narrative of the Chick-Fil-A corporate marketing and operations strategy. I was surprised to find an auto-biography instead.

This book was not at all what I anticipated, but I am so very glad that I stumbled across it. "Eat More Chikin" does indeed contain Mr. Cathy's secret to success, but if you're convinced that effective business strategy has to be complex, you just might miss it. This writing reveals the very philosophy that has made S. Truett Cathy a winner in business and every other facet of life. And yes, I was in fact inspired!

1-0 out of 5 stars very disappointing
I love reading books about those who have been successful in business, particularly autobiographical ones. This is one of the worst I've read.

I went into this book expecting a bit of a sermon, knowing that S. Truett Cathy has applied his religious beliefs to his restaurant business. I was surprised that the preaching was kept to a minimum. Still Cathy uses his faith to explain away his failures. Instead of discussing any specifics of how he overcame difficulties he summarizes it all with "we prayed on it" far too often in this book.

Cathy views his past through rose colored glasses, so don't expect to learn anything much about how he built his business. He paints a picture of him sitting like a sage on a throne offering life advice to everyone from the teenagers who have worked for him to his long time friend and Chick-Fil-A president Jimmy Collins. This is a shame since Cathy's Chick-Fil-A stands alone as the only restaurant chain it's size that is still a private company

The few times in the book that Cathy discusses the hard times, he says that God is testing him and by the next paragraph it's all good again. This reminds me of the Far Side cartoon with 2 scientists discussing a complex formula with "then a miracle occurs" in the middle. This kind of approach is fine for the pulpit but not for a business book.

I hope company president Jimmy Collins writes a book about his experiences building Chick-Fil-A. Reading between the lines in this book, Collins deserves a much much larger share of the credit for bringing the company where it is today.

5-0 out of 5 stars Thank you Mr. Cathy !
This book is filled with nuggets on faith,life and business. He writes it in such a down home way that you feel connected to him and his family. I enjoyed the fact that he shared his faults along with his successes. There was no shame in making mistakes or being scared in business but he took every opportunity and that's saying a lot. I have a new found respect for Mr. Cathy and Chik Fil A. He truly tries to instill Christain values into business and he has shown us all that it works!!! ... Read more


96. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Other American Stories (Modern Library)
by HUNTER S. THOMPSON
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679602984
Catlog: Book (1998-05-05)
Publisher: Modern Library
Sales Rank: 15198
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

First published in Rolling Stone magazine in 1971, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is Hunter S. Thompson's savagely comic account of what happened to this country in the 1960s. It is told through the writer's account of an assignment he undertook with his attorney to visit Las Vegas and "check it out." The book stands as the final word on the highs and lows of that decade, one of the defining works of our time, and a stylistic and journalistic tour de force. As Christopher Lehmann-Haupt wrote in The New York Times, it has "a kind of mad, corrosive prose poetry that picks up where Norman Mailer's An American Dream left off and explores what Tom Wolfe left out."
This Modern Library edition features Ralph Steadman's original drawings and three companion pieces selected by Dr. Thompson: "Jacket Copy for Fear and Loath-
ing in Las Vegas," "Strange Rumblings in Aztlan," and "The Kentucky Derby Is Deca-
dent and Depraved."

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Reviews (35)

5-0 out of 5 stars This book made me get into reading; I picked it up because
of the simple fact that it involved drug abuse and that was something that excited me very much at that time (that was sophomore year in high school, I'm a senior now) but I discovered the pure ferocity and scholarly humor this book contained, the good doctor created something that he himself has never been able to recreate, now don't get me wrong, I love his other books, I'm just saying that this one is his best book. It tells the tale of Raoul Duke, Hunter's alter ego and his lawyer Dr. Gonzo, who is based on Oscar Acosta and their adventures during a trip to Las Vegas to cover the Mint 400 race, it takes place around 1971, the year is very important because, well, do I actually have to say anything? Anyway, because of Hunter, I myself have chosen to undertake journalism as a career, it changed my life, why not try it, can't hurt, can it?

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best True Story, Drugs are only part of the story!
This book (I can tell you from experience) is a very real account of what goes on in the life of a SMART full blown drug addict. I say smart because Hunter S. Thompson is an intelligent guy who knows enough to analyze what happens to himself when takes such drugs as mescaline and acid. He is able to put it down on paper and give you the stunning reality in such a way that you can feel Dr. Gonzo wave that knife in your face in a drug crazed frenzy. Some will say that the story is embellished, and they are just saying that because they have never lived life the same way as Thompson has. Nobody can describe in such grave detail the world of drug abuse without having done it. There is also a plot that lies in the story that others never saw. A plot that has nothing to do with drugs. This plot is about the greed that lies within the people of america today. If your not going to be too horrified by the drug abuse to see this grim reality that the book portrays, then you will see what I am talking about. The book is also about psychology and analyzes the mind and the way that people think, but says it in such a way as to be amusing for the reader.

5-0 out of 5 stars Gonzo to the max
Though I wasn't around for its inital debut, I am still aware of the impact Fear and Loathing has had on anyone who cared to listen.
This is a truly timeless classic that depicts the life and death of an All-American generation. No other piece of literature or journalism can even come close to reliving this unprecidented epic.
As a journalist, dope fiend and HST fanatic, I can say with conviction that this work will forever remain a priceless journey into the generation of the flower children.
I mean what else can I say? The world of professional journalism will never be the same... Only a true genious can manage to be both informative and exciting.

4-0 out of 5 stars Wild...
Very wild and crazy book. Very funny and yet very sick, it is sad how a someone can inflict so much horror to oneself, that is what makes it worth reading. I am just glad it was not me strung out that badly with a buddy who is far more messed up. The book has a rather quick flow, everything moves quickly as if you are also strung out on some of the many drugs the good doctor was on...

3-0 out of 5 stars A Very Interesting Book
A Very Interesting Book
Have you ever heard someone declare that they were living the American dream? This is perceived to be a laid back life where everything goes your way. During the reading of Fear and Loathing, Thompson proclaims to be living it, or maybe it was the drugs that made him escape from reality on the short journey to sin-city. Thompson's documented escapade to Las Vegas may leave D.A.R.E. founders rethinking their motto. The story consists of Hunter Thompson with his Samoan attorney in a fresh and clean convertible dubbed the "Great Red Shark," on their way to Las Vegas to cover a story. In their 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 amyl's," which they manage to consume during their short tour. That shows how crazy these two individuals must be. And get this; it is all a true story. The book was made from notes he had taken and recorded in a small recorder during his extraordinary adventure in sin-city.
The book was probably the most intriguing book that I have ever read. Throughout the whole
Literature he describes every moment in perfect detail. There never seemed to be a dull moment. Most scenes are centered round paranoia and sudation and at times hallucinations from all of the drugs they consumed while on their journey. I also enjoyed the book because through every escapade it felt like I was right there with him. I found myself looking forward to reading it; usually I don't enjoy reading.
The book never really gave a basic purpose of what Hunter Thompson was trying to say. Towards the end of the book it just kind of leaves a lot of information out of what was going on. Maybe that's how he was feeling at the time towards the end though. He might of not known exactly what was going on because of all the hallucinogens, uppers, and downers. But, I think that it was supposed to be about a time in a person's life where it is good to escape from reality and act a fool. That was the only shortcoming of the book to me. I found it very interesting and entertaining. I also found myself laughing out loud at the hilarious array of the literature and the situations they were involved in. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading bazaar and funny literature. ... Read more


97. Trump : The Art of the Deal
by DONALD J. TRUMP, TONY SCHWARTZ
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394555287
Catlog: Book (1987-11-12)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 7793
Average Customer Review: 3.83 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (36)

5-0 out of 5 stars A real American success story
"Art of the Deal" is a truly inspiring read. If you are interested in learning how others achieve their success, this is one of the best books to study. Although written in the late 80's, this is one book that will withstand the test of time.

Written in an autobiographical style, each chapter covers a major "deal" in the life of The Donald. The beginning chapters show how he was introduced to the world of real estate by his father, and how Donald Trump went from collecting rent in dangerous neighborhoods to building New York's finest luxury accomodations. Each of the deals is unique and has its own set of interesting contractual problems that Trump works out. Some of his most interesting works are the construction of the Trump Tower, buying casinos, and saving the troubled Wollman ice skating rink.

If you like big business, I definitely recommend "Art of the Deal." This book puts you in the front seat with Trump and allows you to view up close how he turns the pressures of negotiations, contracts, and local politics into an exciting game. You will also find this book interesting if you are familiar with downtown New York, as it has many references to famous areas and buildings.

4-0 out of 5 stars Million Dollars Deal Making
If you can get past the unabashed self promotions, this is probably the best book by Donald Trump.

It sheds the most insights into his deal making skills and mindset.

If you are a real estate investor and have read a lot of real estate investments books, you will recognize that many techniques that are taught in real estate investment books and guru's seminars are present in his deal making. The difference is that the other books you read are dealing with a house or an apartment and his deals are hundreds of millions of dollar deals.

His deal making rules are simple, yet insightful. Try this rule: Protect your Down sides and the Upsides will take care of themselves. How many people actually follow that? Most beginner Real Estate Investors go out, load up a ton of debt, and buy houses without thinking about any down sides. In this book, you'll see that Trump is actually quite a cautious and very patient guy...and he is somehow geniusly able to get his capital back in some cases that makes it into those infamous "no money down" deals that gurus are always so proud of pointing out. Like i had mentioned earlier...the only difference is that this is a no money down MILLION dollars deal! I think a lot of us DREAM of doing one like that, Trump shows you how he actually DID it.

This book may be a little out of date...but it does show the reader a glimpse of what it means and takes to dream big.

4-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining story of one of the luckiest guys around
First off, let me just say that The Art of the Deal is an immensely entertaining read, especially for anyone from New York. Trump is obviously an engaging character. So, as an embodiment of Trump's persona, this book is really good.
Donald Trump is certainly a skilled businessman. He offers a lot of advice that is hard to refute given that is seems to have worked quite well for him. Again, he is a real character and a surprisingly likable one at that - although the book seems heavily ghostwritten.
Trump summarizes his success as the result of hard work and a uniquely hard-driving personal style. While that may be true, his rise to success is really a story of some of the most phenomenal luck of anyone I have ever heard of. There are hundreds of real estate developers every bit as ruthless and intelligent as Trump and he fails to credit dumb luck for much of his success; he is, to use the cliche, a person who was spawned on the real estate equivalent of third base and tries to tell you that he's hit a home run every time he scores.
Although his name is still splattered everywhere, he is hardly the prophet that he portrays himself to be. As a construction manager, Trump is probably the greatest who has ever lived. The essential problem of Trump's business "empire" is that his extraordinary management skills, his social savvy, and his astute understanding of the tastes of the nouveaux riche belie a mediocre comprehension of the longer term principles of finance. Eager to build, build, build, it seems that Trump slept through a lot of business school as he seems to think the basic principle that states that a project is only as good as the terms on which it is financed does not apply to him. It is in this delusion of his own uniqueness that some of the more profoundly megalomaniacal elements of his character are visible amid the background of common swagger and bravado. It is funny that Donald Trump is considered by most people in New York as a brilliant businessman but a real jerk. In the end, he seems on a personal level to be similar to what he is on a business level: a man of considerable assets but also staggering debt.
I understand that he's got another book out called "How To Get Rich." May I humbly suggest that Donald Trump is NOT a good person on whom to model a business.

4-0 out of 5 stars A good look inside the life of Trump
Other reviews have summed up the book nicely. So, short and to the point, I thought the book was a nice glimpse into the life of a successful businessman. Who doesn't want to be successful? Seeing his everyday life and how he handles people, obstacles, and situations allows the reader to form their own ideas on how to acheive success. I'm not talking just about financial or business success.
Some of the stories, I thought, were a little long winded, but I'd rather have long winded good stories rather than short stories making me long for more detail. Trump's got a neat story that many will find interesting.

5-0 out of 5 stars Awaken the winner inside you
This book is classic Trump. It brings to life the determination, drive and desire of one of the world's wealthiest men. It is inspiring. This book will help awaken "The Winner", "The mogul" inside you. Great book even if you have read Donald's other books. Highly recommended. ... Read more


98. Faded Pictures from My Backyard : A Memoir
by SUE CARSWELL
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345438566
Catlog: Book (2005-04-26)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Sales Rank: 24766
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Backyard To Remember
Sue Carswell's Memoir Faded Pictures From My Backyard was a profound read. It touched my heart, my soul and made me realize how much my family means to me. When I picked up this book I can honestly say I didn't put it down until the very last page. I became engulfed, intrigued, enveloped into a little girls world so different from anything I could imagine.Faded Pictures will take you by surprise and maybe by wonder, too. A defininate book club winner that I am sure will be well known in a very short time.Trust me... Read it...And feel the beauty within.A Memoir worth every picture........

5-0 out of 5 stars Perception lies in eyes of the beholder
The father, John Carswell, is portrayed as man, and a father, who was well aware of "love", in the most innocent sense of the word, and allowed its power to lead his life's paths.This memoir of a child's perception of life, dictated by that father's aspirations, very quickly engulfs its reader with a childhood commonness. In some ways, even though Sue's life, growing up within the confines of an orphanage, was very different, the experiences which take place within the house are ones which tightly grab hold of the heart of all who lived with brothers, sisters or both. While continuing to read, the clearer it becomes how unique a story it is. The history of The Home, its orphans with their unique life history, all of its effect and relations upon the author, the one perceiving, experiencing and learning some of life's hardest lessons of reality.It is a wonderful, self-enlightening story, to say the least, which in the midst of it all, causes its common reader to reflect upon the appreciation of that same love which inspired both her and her father.The love of family.

5-0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put this book down, I read it in two days flat.
Faded Pictures from My Backyard" is a compelling memoir of what it was like for a young, inquisitive and caring girl of a family of seven to live in a house on whose backyard sat an orphanage, a riverbank teeming with unruly life, where her father worked as its administrator and her mother its nurse.
This is a gripping and heartrending work, because Carswell has captured what often can't be captured or communicated later in adult life, the psychosomatic feel of what it's like to live among orphans. This book is tailor-made for a movie.
Especially forceful are scenes of how the orphans' fears were made manifest.
That includes scenes depicting an orphan who, day and night, breaks windows desperately trying to escape, but has no place to go. Scenes of orphans setting off fire alarms in their bedrooms every night, jolting everyone out of sleep miles around. Scenes showing a young, terribly burned, suicidal boy, whose mother tried to kill him in a house fire, who desperately wanted to join his mother in heaven--I know, I couldn't stop crying here--and who could only find value in his own life after the orphanage's administrators helped him enact his own wake.
Especially heartrending are the scenes where, every year at Christmas, Carswell would stare out her backyard window as orphans trekked across the snow in hand-me-down clothes to celebrate in the orphanage's gym with donated toys under a donated tree, alone, none of their parents in sight. Touching too are scenes about orphan Bob Wygant, who overcame painful obstacles to find success and love with his vivacious and kind wife Sally.
All of this is anchored by two powerful moral presences, Carswell's father, John, who selflessly and tirelessly gives of himself daily to the orphans, all the while running his own brood of five towheaded, rambunctious, loving children, including Carswell's bighearted, kind sisters Mandy and Sarah. Helping him along were Carswell's loving, smart Aunt Mary and fun-loving cousin Laurie.
And who really comes shining through is Carswell's mother, Elaine, a selfless woman who tirelessly gave herself totally in the clarity of love. Elaine is the heart of the book. Carswell deftly shows how her mother's life was simply about one, little three-letter word: Joy.
As Sue's mother's illness advances, as her body is hollowed out by cancer, you'll cry from the pain that echoes throughout these pages, a pain that feels much like a voice echoing in a house without furniture and curtains.
Carswell has accomplished quite a feat. She's carefully woven the stories of orphans in with her own feelings of what it was like for a young girl to absorb their pain and emotion. In so doing, Carswell showed how her genetic makeup of depression and sleep disorder was ignited by her backyard, conditions which were only dealt with as an adult living in New York City.
There's a timeless lesson here for parents, especially to be aware if their child needs help. And there's a lesson here about the value of showing children love every day, not just once a year at Christmas.
In the end, Carswell has written a book that is animated with those first visions of childhood in their original freshness and vigor.
It's hard to find in any work of fiction, much less a memoir, anything that's quite like the pure emotional punch of this book.
It's true, what someone once said, that the effect of intense, heartfelt emotions feels like going down two steps at a time. You feel as if you're drawing on the very source of life itself. That's what this book accomplishes.

5-0 out of 5 stars Publishers Weekly in my opinion is wrong
I am the author of this memoir.Although PW has every right to slam my book if they so feel, they also have a responsibility to get their facts right.This is not a thinly veiled memoir of my deceased mother but rather my love letter to her in the eight years since she has been gone.As I write in my book, her life story is richly textured and full of lessons on how to be a decent and caring parent.This is not a book about my hair-dos over time but a story of a family growing up with an unusual backyard, an orphanage.This is not a book that details the life of a "quasi orphan" it details the life of an orphan -- there is nothing quasi about that. Nor is it the the story of an orphan who becomes an "artist"...It is the story of a little boy who never once had a Sunday visitor throughout his entire childhood growing up on the grounds of the Albany Home for Children and who would later become a football star and esteemed school administrator.That orphan never painted a picture in his life.All said, please read what others have written about my book, but don't let PW whose cowardly reviewers never sign their names be your guiding source for me or other writers works. Thank you - Sue Carswell

5-0 out of 5 stars A unique memoir about family relationships
"From childhood's hour, I have not seen as others were. I have not seen as others saw."

-- Edgar Allen Poe, "Alone"

A family is the bricks with which we are all built. They define us; they give us structure and something to cling to, or something from which to rebel. The family we grow up with stays a part of our lives forever.

In FADED PICTURES FROM MY BACKYARD, Sue Carswell reflects back on her own families --- the one she grew up with, and the one she would watch every day through the window looking out onto the backyard. Carswell grew up in a house bordering the Albany Home for Children, where her father worked as the Administrator and her mother was a nurse. Fearing the influence the troubled orphans could have on them, Sue and her four siblings were not permitted to play or really interact much with the residents of the Home. As the author grows up watching the orphans from the distance across her backyard, she beings to go through developmental troubles of her own --- suffering from insomnia, panic attacks, and depression. Sue and her own family become increasingly distanced by her troubles, and she begins to wonder if she doesn't fit in better with the lives she imagines the orphans must have, across the backyard.

Carswell's unique story is made up of pieced-together fragments, reflecting in some ways the fragmented lives of the Albany Home's residents. She skips back and forth through time in her own life story and interweaves her tale with stories of the Home's orphans. Carswell is a gifted storyteller with an eye for detail, although in early chapters dealing with her young childhood, the first-person narrative from the point of view of a young child does get a little tediously cute. She interweaves the stories of other orphans, growing up in the Albany Home during its different stages (when it was a more traditional orphanage, for example, during the Depression), but because Carswell could never really interact with those orphans, the stories feel somewhat impersonal. Kept, like many things, at a distance.

At its core, FADED PICTURES FROM MY BACKYARD is really about the family relationship Carswell knows and misses the most --- the relationship she shared with her own mother, who died in 1997. It's also the story of the strained relationship with her father, a man who --- like the orphans across the backyard --- she doesn't seem to be able to ever really understand.

Through FADED PICTURES FROM MY BACKYARD, Carswell shows us the many meanings of the word "orphan" and teaches us that it may never be too late to find our way home.

--- Reviewed by Lourdes Orive
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99. Give Me a Break : How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media...
by John Stossel
list price: $24.95
our price: $15.72
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060529148
Catlog: Book (2004-02-01)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Sales Rank: 1294
Average Customer Review: 4.06 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Ballooning government?
Millionaire welfare queens?
Tort lawyers run amok?
A $330,000 outhouse, paid for with your tax dollars?
John Stossel says, "Give me a break."

When he hit the airwaves thirty years ago, Stossel helped create a whole new category of news, dedicated to protecting and informing consumers. As a crusading reporter, he chased snake-oil peddlers, rip-off artists, and corporate thieves, winning the applause of his peers.

But along the way, he noticed that there was something far more troublesome going on: While the networks screamed about the dangers of exploding BIC lighters and coffeepots, worse risks were ignored. And while reporters were teaming up with lawyers and legislators to stick it to big business, they seldom reported the ways the free market made life better.

In Give Me a Break, Stossel explains how ambitious bureaucrats, intellectually lazy reporters, and greedy lawyers make your life worse even as they claim to protect your interests. Taking on such sacred cows as the FDA, the War on Drugs, and scaremongering environmental activists -- and backing up his trademark irreverence with careful reasoning and research -- he shows how the problems that government tries and fails to fix can be solved better by the extraordinary power of the free market.

He traces his journey from cub reporter to 20/20 co-anchor, revealing his battles to get his ideas to the public, his struggle to overcome stuttering, and his eventual realization that, for years, much of his reporting missed the point.

Stossel concludes the book with a provocative blueprint for change: a simple plan in the spirit of the Founding Fathers to ensure that America remains a place "where free minds -- and free markets -- make good things happen."

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Reviews (123)

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing, a real life clear thinking journalist!
No doubt that the liberals and socialists in this country will name call and rant and rave over this book. Mr. Stossel attacks large government programs for the waste that they are, and the liberals depend upon these programs to control the lives of people. I'm sure he'll be called a racist, right-wing nut, but let's not forget who's calling him these things.

Stossel takes an objective look at not only big government programs, but the limiting of free speech, the drug war, lawyers, and some hypocritical filty rich. How anybody can say Stossel is a neo-con after reading this book is either a moron or a liar in saying they've read this. Stossel advocates stopping the drug war, decriminalizing prostitution, and legalizing assisted suicide, hardly a Republican agenda. He rightly recognizes that you own your body, not the government, therefore they should not have the power to control what you do to it. Certainly a libertarian position.

However, that same intrusive government that shouldn't tell you what to do with your own body shouldn't be telling companies how to run their business. He demonstrates how government programs, rules and regulations on a whole kill more people than they save. Poverty kills, and rules and regulations cause companies to move offshore and fire workers where jobs are needed most. Is it any wonder that, as he showed, the more free the country, the better off it's population is?

5-0 out of 5 stars Give Me A Case of These Books: Everyone Should Have One
In the same relaxed style that has made his Friday night 20/20 broadcasts "must see TV" for open-minded Americans, interested more in truth than partisan politics, ABC co-anchor John Stossel delivers a book every citizen should read.
Far from partisan, Give Me A Break leaves no sacred political cows untipped as Democrats and Republicans alike are toppled to the ground in this truly remarkable breath of fresh air. In breezy, easy-to-read prose, Stossel recounts example after example of how a risk-phobic, nanny government threatens to strangle the very creativity and innovation that have made America the envy of the world.
Here you'll read about the $300,000 outhouse you paid for, the victim industries that profit from the misery of others, why trial attorneys and their lawsuits are more than a nuissance, among other hot topics.
Give Me A Break is somewhat predictable (but no less valuable) if you consider Stossel's libertarian bent. However, what is truly admirable -- not to mention, radically bullet-proof- about his writing is his willingness to not only admit to errors, but to recount them in detail. Instead of giving his detractors ammunition to blow up his arguments, Stossel freely admits to his short comings and past mistakes and explains forthrightly where his thinking went terribly wrong.
While I am not completely convinced that trial lawyers are the devils of democracy, reading this book opened up the subject for me as none of the regular broadcast or cable journalists ever have. Give Me A Break is a highly recommended book by a heroic journalist. -- Regina McMenamin

5-0 out of 5 stars A tour de force of intellectual honesty
John Stossel is one of the few reporters to emerge from the stupor of mindless media liberalism to rational observation. In many respects 'Give Me A Break' is a textbook on systems thinking. Stossel destroys a multitude of liberal and conservative paradigms by demonstrating the second and third order consequences of self-serving governmental, social and economic positions. Stossel understands, like few others in the media, that there are trade-offs, and often-unintended consequences, with every decision. Stossel's book is balanced, humorous and irreverent; it relentlessly unmasks the uncomfortable realities underlying the massive clouds blue smoke generated by special interest groups. If you are looking for a great read that will expand your understanding of contemporary social issues, then by all means purchase this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book
This is a well written book that explains the media's liberal bias as well as tells how the news media distorts the truth to get a big story. This is a must read for anyone that watches the news.

5-0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
One of my favorite reads. Very interesting and enjoyable. A lot of common sense... I agree with 99% of what he says. Highly recommended. ... Read more


100. The Orchid Thief : A True Story of Beauty and Obsession (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
by SUSAN ORLEAN
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 044900371X
Catlog: Book (2000-01-04)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Sales Rank: 7386
Average Customer Review: 3.47 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In Susan Orlean's mesmerizing true story of beauty and obsession is John Laroche, a renegade plant dealer and sharply handsome guy, in spite of the fact that he is missing his front teeth and has the posture of al dente spaghetti. In 1994, Laroche and three Seminole Indians were arrested with rare orchids they had stolen from a wild swamp in south Florida that is filled with some of the world's most extraordinary plants and trees. Laroche had planned to clone the orchids and then sell them for a small fortune to impassioned collectors. After he was caught in the act, Laroche set off one of the oddest legal controversies in recent memory, which brought together environmentalists, Native Amer-ican activists, and devoted orchid collectors. The result is a tale that is strange, compelling, and hilarious.
        
New Yorker writer Susan Orlean followed Laroche through swamps and into the eccentric world of Florida's orchid collectors, a subculture of aristocrats, fanatics, and smugglers whose obsession with plants is all-consuming. Along the way, Orlean learned the history of orchid collecting, discovered an odd pattern of plant crimes in Florida, and spent time with Laroche's partners, a tribe of Seminole Indians who are still at war with the United States.
        
There is something fascinating or funny or truly bizarre on every page of The Orchid Thief: the story of how the head of a famous Seminole chief came to be displayed in the front window of a local pharmacy; or how seven hundred iguanas were smuggled into Florida; or the case of the only known extraterrestrial plant crime. Ultimately, however, Susan Orlean's book is about passion itself, and the amazing lengths to which people will go to gratify it. That passion is captured with singular vision in The Orchid Thief, a once-in-a-lifetime story by one of our most original journalists.
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Reviews (133)

5-0 out of 5 stars An original, quirky and entertaining book.
Susan Orlean's "The Orchid Thief" is an intriguing look at people who are obsessed with collecting orchids. Originally, Ms. Orlean's main focus was to write a profile of John Laroche in "The New Yorker" magazine. Laroche is an offbeat character who spent a great deal of time and money amassing a huge orchid collection. When Laroche banded together with a group of Seminole Indians to steal orchids from the Fakahatchee Strand, a 63,000-acre preserve in southwest Florida, he was arrested and tried for his crime.

Orlean eventually expanded her article on Laroche into this book. She widened the scope of her research and came up with many interesting tidbits about orchids and those who collect them. For example, I learned that orchids often outlive human beings. In fact, orchids can theoretically live forever, since they have no natural enemies. Some orchid owners designate a person as an "orchid heir" in their wills, since the owners expect that their precious orchids will outlive them.

Orlean has a delicious sense of wonder, a beautiful and lyrical writing style, and an eye for fascinating details. She has the ability to place the reader in the middle of a swamp, at an orchid show, or on an expedition into the wilds of South America. Not only does Orlean provide the reader with little known facts about orchids, but she also explores some of the oddities of human nature. What causes people to become so passionate about collecting orchids that they risk their fortunes or even their lives to acquire rare species of this coveted plant? When does a passion for collecting orchids become an unhealthy obsession?

If you are tired of reading formulaic novels, you may want to join Susan Orlean on her exciting and memorable journey into the world of orchid collecting. You do not have to be a plant lover, a gardener or a botanist to enjoy "The Orchid Thief."

5-0 out of 5 stars Flower powered.
I was inspired to read Susan Orlean's "true story of beauty and obsession" after seeing the movie "Adaptation" twice in one week. THE ORCHID THIEF is a fascinating love story: "When a man falls in love with orchids, he'll do anything to possess the one he wants. It's like chasing a green-eyed woman or taking cocaine . . . it's a sort of madness" (p. 78). And Orlean's book is as much about exotic orchids as the eccentric characters who collect them.

THE ORCHID THIEF evolved out of a article Orleans first published in "The New Yorker" magazine about John Laroche's 1994 trial for removing endangered orchids from Florida's Fakahatchee swamp. Thirty-six-year-old Laroche is a tall, skinny guy, "with the posture of al dente spaghetti," Orleans writes, "and sharply handsome, in spite of the fact that he is missing all his front teeth" (p. 4). Laroche's life has been a series of obsessions, from Ice Age fossils, turtles, and old mirrors, to orchids. In writing about Laroche's criminal lust for orchids, Orleans ultimately discovers her own "unembarrassing passion--I want to know what it feels like to care about something passionately" (p. 41). Laroche's oddball obsessions offer Orleans a meaningful lesson in "getting immersed in something, and learning about it, and having it become a part of your life" (p. 279).

With its lessons in living a passionate life, exotic flowers, quirky characters, muddy swamps filled with snapping turtles, rattlesnakes, bugs and critters--who could ask for anything more from a book?

G. Merritt

1-0 out of 5 stars excuse me?
In this book is revealed John Laroche's guide to "mutating" plants, and his general theory of mutation. Laroche says that mutation is responsible for some people being real smart. Like him, for example. He tells Orlean that what must've happened is that he was exposed to some kind of toxic stuff when he was young and was then mutated into the brilliant person he is today. I am not joking. This is in the book. Apparently either Orlean is making the whole thing up (quite possible) or John Laroche actually believes in a comic book account of genetic mutation. I guess this is where his lack of formal education really starts to show.
As any schoolboy who has not gone to school and instead has learned about life from reading comic books knows, people are mutated by being pivotally exposed to some radioactive or otherwise toxic agent. This is how they derive their superpowers. In the case of John Laroche, the superpower is extreme intelligence. Laroche then goes on to state that he has "mutated" lots of plants by putting germinating seeds in the microwave. Now, again, there is a popular misconception, propagated by the media, that microwaves are in some way "radioactive" This is not so. Microwave ovens do nothing but excite water molecules with non-visible light, making the water heat up. Laroche would have achieved the same result by putting the plant seeds under a heat lamp. The result would be that the germinating seeds would wither and cook and die. The result would NOT be that they would "mutate." So this is all nonsense. The only thing difficult to determine is whether Laroche actually believes any of this. I'm guessing he just made it up as he went along while talking to a captive audience in the form of Susan Orlean.

1-0 out of 5 stars round two
okay, here's another run at why this is unbelievably bad writing. When I "watched" Adaptation (see my review of this stinker for details) I initially thought it was based on a fictitious book. When I learned otherwise, I couldn't believe that such malarkey existed, though of course I should have known better.
Some writers are the biographers of Einstein. Some are the biographers of saints. Susan Orlean is the biographer of a piece of white trash with a mental disorder. It is supposed to be very quixotic and eccentric, but at bottom we are hit with a guy who is an obsessive collector of random things. He is also not above breaking the law to suit himself, hence the title. In this degenerate age, this is all we can hope for when looking for an exemplary life. This guy's life is not even very interesting, let alone inspiring.
And then there is the matter of disingenuousness. The author tells the reader that Laroche - the collector - was writing a guide to growing plants which he was going to advertize in High Times. However, marijuana plants "grown according to his instructions would never mature and hence would never be psychoactive." See, this Laroche is keeping kids on the straight and narrow. We should laud him. Except for the fact that this "information" is completely false. I have grown my fair share of marijuana and have found first-hand that it certainly is not just budding plants which are psychoactive. In fact, sadly, not one of my plants ever made it that far: I smoked them long before that.
So if this part is a load of BS, just think what else may be completely made-up.

1-0 out of 5 stars an insider's guide to book publishing
Let me explain the world of modern publishing for you. A writer's agent pitches a book. The editor at the publishing company looks at it and says, "No, this will never sell. Not mainstream enough. Try the small presses who will pay dogsh#t." What IS bestseller material? Well, here's where it gets interesting. A can't-miss bestseller that is sure to garner wild critical acclaim is a book that is:
VERY LONG
VERY BORING
VERY POINTLESS
VERY VULGAR

Why, you ask, is this the formula? Bend close and I'll tell you: Because people don't actually read these books. People pretend to read them. Then they recommend them to others, who then pretend to read them. Critics don't read them either. You kidding me? Do know what kind of attention critics pay to anything? About as much attention as anybody pays while on the job: as little as possible, am I right? No, they just hold their finger up to the wind and try not to stand out by differing from the herd opinion. They've heard its great, don't even look at the book, write a review based on somebody else's review and it goes from there. All a bestseller must have is the LOOK of a bestseller. It must be thick, it must have an exotic yet boring title and cover - just so you know you're in for some real art. And it must be vaguely historical seeming so you feel you're getting a real education while you have the unopened book lying next to you at the beach. Some relative of yours wanders over and makes some inquisitive noises about the book and you make noises back to the effect that its real great. The relative then hears Oprah talk about it - who also has not and never will read the book - and then goes and finds it prominently displayed on the new release rack at the bookmegastore. Thus is perpetuated el hustle. If I were a consultant to a publishing house I would advise them to save money by not having any print inside the book. What's that you say? Save further money by gluing the book shut and having a hollow interior? No, the book's gotta have that heft to it or nobody will buy it. You know, its gotta be real heavy material. Kapeesh? ... Read more


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