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101. If I Die in a Combat Zone : Box
$27.95 $4.84
102. Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story
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103. I'll Carry the Fork!: Recovering
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104. Benjamin Franklin : An American
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105. Washington's Crossing (Pivotal
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106. The Scalpel and the Silver Bear
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107. The Water Is Wide
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108. Inside Hitler's Bunker : The Last
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109. Reminiscences of a Stock Operator
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110. Warrior Soul : The Memoir of a
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111. The New Quotable Einstein
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112. Splendid Solution: Jonas Salk
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113. The Man Who Changed Everything
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114. Taking Heat : The President, the
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115. The Operator : David Geffen Builds,
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116. Edward Teller : The Real Dr. Strangelove
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117. Boyd : The Fighter Pilot Who Changed
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118. Ulysses S. Grant : Memoirs and
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119. Spymaster: My Life In The Cia
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120. Let Me Go

101. If I Die in a Combat Zone : Box Me Up and Ship Me Home
by TIM O'BRIEN
list price: $13.95
our price: $11.16
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Asin: 0767904435
Catlog: Book (1999-09-01)
Publisher: Broadway
Sales Rank: 24341
Average Customer Review: 4.71 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars exceptional!
This is an excellent piece of literature. O'Brien is at his finest as he transcribes his experiences during the vietnam war. If you read "The Things They Carried" (which he wrote after this) you'll definately love this book. It's also interesting to observe some of the similarities to the characters in this memoir to those in The Things They Carried. It's exceptional, honestly. You wont be disappointed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Courage
A thinking man in Vietnam was a dangerous thing. Being a soldier in Vietnam was a dangerous thing. Tim O'Brien was both and somehow he managed to live to survive it and tell his story. He ends up in Vietnam after unsuccessfully dealing with his conflict between doing the right thing and being a courageous man. He tells of his decision not to follow his well planned escape route and stay with his country and its proposal to send him to Viet Nam. O'Brien describes Vietnam as a place with nameless soldiers and Buddys, faceless enemies and endless minefields.

This is an excellent text for learning about the experience of the Vietnam war, the choices that young man were faced with at that time and basic dilemmas in making moral decisions. It is a well written book which makes for a quick, satisfying read.

5-0 out of 5 stars War a Go Go
Whether academics would consider this a literary masterpiece or not, Tim's honesty and integrity make this a must-read account of his total Vietnam experience. I say total, because I found his description of his almost-AWOL phase to be one of the most fascinating parts of the book.

Morally and practically, his situation was infinitely more complex than that of a draft dodger, for whom there were known routes into Canada above all, and more clear cut decison processes involved. About 90,000 of the 100,000 draft dodgers fled to Canada, many of whom settled here long-term.

Yet as you read Tim's account of his guided tour of hell, you realize that, like all Vietnam Vets, and I have the honor of knowing many of both genders, his healing journey is one that he will not be undertaking alone. Sadly, there was nothing unique about his Vietnam experience, as he would be the first to tell you.

At one point, back in the late seventies, there was a statistic indicating that about 800,000 Vietnam Vets - about half the combat vets, were suffering from PTSD. Yet it became obvious that this figure, which did not even include the Army nurses and Docs who sewed everybody back together, was somewhat low. On reading If I Die, you can see how the Vietnam experience could stay with a person for the rest of his/her life, especially in view of the hostility that the Vets faced upon their return to 'The World'.

Vietnam was a tremendously divisive issue and the factors that Tim O'Brien had to balance during his almost-AWOL period, make you realize that the actual draft dodgers will also have their own healing to do. The only draft dodgers I have a problem with are the ones who fled to Canada, yet who claim to have done so because of their 'principles'.

No. The draft evaders with true integrity and principles either took the courageous step of joining the military as a Medic and refused to carry weapons, or like David Harris, Joan Baez's husband, went to jail for their principles - David was jailed for 3 years for Draft Evasion. The dodgers who ran to Canada did so because they were scared, pure and simple, and there is nothing wrong with being scared. Just don't lie about it - or you will never heal.

As for 'principles', if 100,000 people had forced the Government to jail them over the Vietnam issue, as David did, it might have made a difference. It might literally have ended the war years earlier, and saved young men like Tim from having to undergo such a psychologically damaging experience. Running away was a selfish act, but one which I do not judge - that is between them and God. Just don't try to sell me 'principles', boys. Ever.

Tim O'Brien is a great writer, and in If I Die, he really puts you in harm's way, among the trip-wire grenades, the panji stake pits, the minefields and the VC snipers. Yet hard as the Vietnam War was on the young draftees, the unforgivable thing is the fact that for many of these teenage soldiers, the hardest part was coming home. To quote from Paul Hardcastle's '19' (the average age of the combat soldier in Vietnam) "They fought the longest war in American history... None of them received a hero's welcome..."

Welcome home, Tim.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Early O'Brien...
O'Brien is simply my favorite author. I was curious to read this, his first book, a memoir of his real days in country. It is without the lyrical beauty and power of some of his other fictionalized accounts of war, but as he says in How to Tell a True War Story--what exactly is real in war? This is as close one can come...a fascinating account--perhaps most interesting is the down time--the mundane aspects of war. His honesty is disarming (no pun intended), but the polished O'Brien we know and love is still developing. It is an important book and worth the time spent.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good
As a Marine grunt(1968) In Vietnam, the book basically gives a good view into daily 'NAM' LIFE. Other reviewers gave a low rating thru their WELL-> READ knowledge of the war. There is a old Vietnam unwritten code "if you were not there, then you have no idea what happened or should not judge the ones who were. Vietnam vets don't talk about our experiences over there because there is no way a civilian could comprehend what we endured". The war was a horrible, minute by minute effort to stay alive but also a duty to protect your fellow marines , your fellow marines were your brothers. Read the book. Semper Fi ... Read more


102. Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton
by Barbara Olson
list price: $27.95
our price: $27.95
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Asin: 0895262746
Catlog: Book (1999-11-01)
Publisher: Regnery Publishing
Sales Rank: 81976
Average Customer Review: 4.29 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Hell to Pay is yet another book on Hillary Rodham Clinton, this time from a conservative lawyer who served as the Republican chief counsel for the congressional committee investigating the Clintons' involvement in "Travelgate" and "Filegate." Barbara Olson traces the now familiar biographies of the president and first lady, contending that Mrs. Clinton is someone with dangerously liberal, even radical, political beliefs who "now seeks to foment revolutionary changes from the uniform of a pink suit." (Olson plays the theme heavily: each chapter of Hell to Pay begins with quotes from Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, which influenced the young Hillary Rodham.)

There are some interesting new tidbits scattered throughout the book, like the fact that after law school Hillary Rodham tried to become a Marine Corps officer but was turned down; or that she told her high school paper her ambition after high school was "to marry a senator and settle down in Georgetown." Olson, attempting to dissect the mystery of the Clinton partnership, writes, "Most self-respecting women would have left" after Clinton's repeated infidelities. "Hillary chose to stay. She behaves as both a desperate lover, and like a frantic campaign manager protecting a flawed candidate.... Hillary, it seems, long ago accepted Bill Clinton as someone who could advance her goals, as a necessary complement to her intellectual cold-blooded pursuit of power." As the Clinton presidency draws to a close, that pursuit has taken her beyond the White House toward a bid for her own U.S. Senate seat. Olson predicts the Senate won't be enough, just the next step toward becoming the first woman president: "Hillary Clinton seeks nothing less than an office that will give her a platform from which to exercise real power and real world leadership." While Olson admits that "Bill Clinton has always excited the greatest passion not among his supporters, but among his detractors," the same could certainly be said of his wife--whose supporters will probably consider Hell to Pay a rehash of a too-familiar story, but whose detractors will no doubt savor every page. --Linda Killian ... Read more

Reviews (162)

5-0 out of 5 stars AS A "FIRST-lADY" SHE LACKED THE CHARISMA AND STYLE!
Not being an American, it may be a little easier to look at Hillary Clinton in a completely objective manner. Based on my knowledge and experience in psychology and considering what has been publicized in the media throughout the "Clinton affair", I must agree with what Barbara Olson has written in this book. One could watch the television and see Hillary and Bill standing side by side, all smiles for the benefit of the media and easily see they were superficial. At times, the lack of emotion and stilted conversation reminded me of two Barbie dolls - Ken and Barbie at their finest.

While Ms. Clinton may have stayed with her husband out of love and loyalty, the real reason appears it was to feather her own nest for a political career - at any cost! I give the woman credit for pursuing her own dreams, goals and desires, but most women would have placed their own self-respect at the top of the list. A woman might choose to forgive one spousal indiscretion out of love and family, but how one could love someone who was continually unfaithful is another matter. Were there perhaps more skeletons in Ms. Clinton's own personal closet that have not become public? Ms. Clinton does not appear to be a woman lacking self-confidence or emotional security; therefore, one is left to question whether her true reasons for staying were for self-serving purposes, that is, to further her own political ambitions.

Barbara Olson obviously spent an enormous amount of time and energy in researching the facts in this book and has given readers a bird's-eye view of what makes Ms. Clinton tick and what does not. Whether the reader agrees with Olson's portrayal of Ms. Clinton is a matter of personal opinion. This is a compelling and straight-forward book that cuts no corners and definitely deserving of a five-star rating.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Very Dangerous Woman
This was one of the most educational books I have read in my life. Olson writes a compelling story about Hillary Clinton, starting with her middle-class upbringing in suburban Illinois. Growing up with a house full of men, Hillary felt she had to excel at everything in order to win her father's approval, which she never seemed to get. This was the only time I felt any empathy for this woman.
We've all heard the blatherings about the Clintons' scandals via the media. But the media never came close to telling us the truth, especially concerning their dealings with the Chinese government, who now has possession of our nuclear secrets. Barbara Olson not only illustrates their involvement but gives an unsettling picture of how Hillary Rodham Clinton's mind works. She is a megalomaniac who wants nothing more than absolute power over the American people, especially our children. Olson also gives us the scoop about Whitewater, the Lewinsky fiasco, and scores of other calamaties and injustices that went on inside the White House during their double-term. Basically, the Clintons perfected the Nixonian technique for covering their tracks, destroying a countless number of lies both figuratively and literally.
I would have liked to have read what really happened to Vincent Foster, Ron Brown, and several other officials who met untimely deaths. Olson barely skimmed this issue, but told how Vince Foster was Hillary's lawyer and possible lover. I can understand why Olson couldn't touch that issue, given her position in the Justice Department. But she portrays the Clintons for who they really are, slick criminals who will use anyone and any means to secure their agenda.
I recommend this book to every American citizen, whether they were (or are still) pro-Clinton or not. Hell to Pay is loaded with facts that we cannot ignore.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Real Hillary.
And it's not pretty, but we already knew that. Barbara Olson wrote a top flight biography with "Hell to Pay." I, for one, definitely miss her presence in the field of non-fiction and am sorry she is no longer with us. Many people may not realize that R. Emmett Tyrrell's book, "Madame Hillary," was heavily influenced by this work. Olson exposes the hidden, radical nature of Hillary's worldview. Her thought is far closer to Saul Alinsky than John Jay or Thomas Paine. In the wake of the 2000 election recount, when she came out against the electoral college, who could doubt that she cares little about the institutions or traditions that embody this country. She hides her radicalism behind a bourgeois veneer but Olson allows her true traits to become visible through "Hell to Pay."

3-0 out of 5 stars A lot of good details that you don't hear
I have to say that I enjoyed this review of Ms. Clinton or should I say Ms. Rodham. I don't know how much of this is true but it told a lot of facts that I was unaware.

I did not know that she got her leftist views from a socialist pastor. At least that was the way he came across to me. I thought it was pretty strange that she didn't wear any make up or shave her legs until Bills run for second term as Governor.

The book pretty much takes for granted that everyone knew Bill was a philanderer and does not make much of an issue of it. This is what I like about this book it goes in and tells you all the details of the spending to keep the Clintons in nice homes and have a nanny paid for by the tax payer dollars. I guess politicians are expected to do that.

The interesting parts were about the cops getting Bill girls in Washington, travelgate which they could have avoided completely if they just said they wanted their own people in; filegate was the weirdest after the diatribe Hillary gave about Nixon's enemies list.

An interesting part I thought was her relationship to Vince Foster. How the author got all the information is beyond me.

It showed how Hillary was an absolute perfectionist and could never be criticized. She was very clever in getting her husband off the hook all the time and especially in the impeachment by making them focus on the adultery and then threatening to expose all the congress for their indiscretions.

The more I read the more I felt this woman's hands in my pockets.

If most of this is true, I can not see how she got elected to the Senate, I guess all candidates steal from the cookie jar. I never understood why this woman thought she had a right to rule over everybody else. She was just a tyrant.

I would recommend this book to people want to know more details about all the scandals. If you are a Clinton lover you'll probably say it is all lies.

5-0 out of 5 stars WHY THE RIGHT GOES AFTER THE CLINTONS
The right does not go after the Clintons because Bill lied about Monica Lewinsky. They go after them because they think they may have ordered the murder of Vince Foster. They go after them because kids were murdered on railroad tracks in Mena, Arkansas because they may have witnessed their drug-running operation there in the 1980s. They go after them because there is a list of between 50 and 100 people mysteriously killed, all of whom knew the Clintons and had knowledge of their activities. These people were generally young and in good health. Did they all die by accident? To quote Shakespeare, "There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than can be dreamt of in your philosophy." In other words, it is possible they all were killed by means other than the Clintons' ordering their deaths, but it is so far from possible as to be very close to being, for all practical purposes, that with which is impossible. Bodyguards, witneses, drug buddies, state troopers, kids, etc. Dead. If the Clintons are responsible for some or all of their deaths, they got away with all of it. THAT is why the right goes after the Clintons. If I go missing, look in Ft. Marcy Park.

(...) ... Read more


103. I'll Carry the Fork!: Recovering a Life After Brain Injury
by Kara L. Swanson
list price: $16.95
our price: $14.41
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Asin: 0933670044
Catlog: Book (1999-12-01)
Publisher: Rising Star Press
Sales Rank: 20091
Average Customer Review: 4.85 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In January 1996, a van speeding through a red light ended the life Kara Swanson had known. She suddenly joined the 2 million Americans who suffer brain injury each year. It was like being thrust into a foreign country with no map, no way to speak the language, no directions home.

"This is the book I wish I could have read when I was first diagnosed with a brain injury," Kara writes. I tried to take the information that it took me months and years to learn and put it into a short, easy-to-read book that would help survivors and their loved ones better understand the process of recovery."

Written with laugh-out-loud humor, candor, and technical input from medical and legal profesionals, "I'll Carry the Fork!" offers inspiration and practical help to anyone dealing with the aftermath of brain injury. Because as Kara says, "Sometimes when your life ends, you don't actually die." ... Read more

Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars Insightful, informative and humorous story of courage
Kara Swanson's personal story of her struggle with a closed head injury is told with such intelligence, honesty and humor that I could literally envision the experience. It's very hard to put yourself in some else's shoes until you've shared a similar experience. "I'll Carry the Fork" provides the reader with an experience that won't be forgotten upon completing the book. Not only does it serve as a very informative guide to those family, friends, and victims of closed head injuries on the "what to expect" and "how to get the best help", but it most importantly, provides a fantastic feeling of courage and confidence that life does go on and, in fact, can be better than ever before!

5-0 out of 5 stars Courage To Recover
Being a head injury survivor myself, Kara's book, "I'll Carry the Fork" was a turning point in my own recovery. With Kara's ability to put into words, what I had kept in my injured mind, helped me to let go of the feelings of worthlessness. Through her book, Kara helped me laugh at my frustrations and forgetfulness..I learned that to laugh is to heal and see the human side to my perfectionistic past. To read her words, gave me comfort of being understood..and to be understood gave me the courage to recover. "I'll Carry the Fork" expresses everyday challenges for head injury survivors, and changes the focus of feeling defeated by our trauma; to find the strength within us, to accept ourselves as the "chosen people" to teach others, head injury or not, that life is what you make it. Every day is a gift. Kara shows us all that we should be brave, face our fears, and never give up on our yesturdays, todays and our tomorrows. After reading her book, your life, your thoughts and your daily outlook will be changed forever. This is a powerful book. I am a better person because of it. I challenge everyone to read it..enjoy the words of wisdom...then read it again.

5-0 out of 5 stars A must read for TBI survivors and their family
Kara's realistic, humor filled book is a must for any TBI survivor and their family. I read it and bought two extra copies and then decided to buy one for all our siblings so they can better understand what my husband goes through on a daily basis through Kara's words and experiences.

5-0 out of 5 stars Kara is outstanding and the book is more!
Kara wrote a book that is helpful to those of us who have not gone through this ordeal. She helps us understand what has happened to her and what it took for her to overcome many of the obstacles. Kara did this in a way where we laughed, cried, and rooted for her from our hearts. Good luck to you Kara, I wish you many successes in the future, you deserve them. This book kept me riveted, I read it twice in one night.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good for those in denial
This is a basic info book. If you're looking for technical information or further resources on where the hell to go from here this isn't the book for you and your family. However, if someone in your family has suffered a TBI and the doctors are filling your family with the "they should be 90% of her/his old self" this is the book for you. TBI, particularily in those cases where the face is not mangled (e.g. the walking wounded), is deceptive and family members in denial are more likely to hear only the more positive issues involved (e.g. "the short-term memory is somehow intact") than come to grips with the fact that lives are never going to be the same. Prior to getting my parents to read this book they believed that my brother, who suffered a moderate-severe CHI would be fine. With the enduring and simplely structured way this author writes they were able to understand that we will never see the same person we loved but must now come to love the new person and that he will not go back to the 90% the docs promised. Getting my parents to read this book has been the most gentle and effective way to help combat the denial that almost tore our family apart. For those of you out there who understand that TBI takes your old loved one away (regardless of outward appearances) and replaces that person with a new one- this is the book you need to get the other family members to read so that you can lesson your own isolation and prevent the near-insanity that comes with the devastationn of a TBI. Recommended for both family and survivor. Thank you to the author. ... Read more


104. Benjamin Franklin : An American Life
by Walter Isaacson
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
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Asin: 074325807X
Catlog: Book (2004-04)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 1902
Average Customer Review: 4.39 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Benjamin Franklin is the founding father who winks at us -- an ambitious urban entrepreneur who rose up the social ladder, from leather-aproned shopkeeper to dining with kings.

In bestselling author Walter Isaacson's vivid and witty full-scale biography, we discover why Franklin turns to us from history's stage with eyes that twinkle from behind his new-fangled spectacles. In Benjamin Franklin, Isaacson shows how Franklin defines both his own time and ours.

The most interesting thing that Franklin invented, and continually reinvented, was himself. America's first great publicist, he was consciously trying to create a new American archetype. In the process, he carefully crafted his own persona, portrayed it in public, and polished it for posterity. His guiding principle was a "dislike of everything that tended to debase the spirit of the common people." Few of his fellow founders felt this comfort with democracy so fully, and none so intuitively.

In this colorful and intimate narrative, Isaacson provides the full sweep of Franklin's amazing life, from his days as a runaway printer to his triumphs as a statesman, scientist, and Founding Father. He chronicles Franklin's tumultuous relationship with his illegitimate son and grandson, his practical marriage, and his flirtations with the ladies of Paris. He also shows how Franklin helped to create the American character and why he has a particular resonance in the twenty-first century. ... Read more

Reviews (98)

5-0 out of 5 stars A great effort.
Walter Isaacson's "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life" is an excellent biography of the eldest of the American founding fathers. Isaacson's writing style is incisive, so the book is never dull. Many Americans tend to view the founding fathers as god-like patriots; but Isaacson is able to show Franklin's flaws through the many refrences to Franklin's correspondences. Isaacson also extensively covers Franklin's pragmatism and frugality through many examples from his letters and other records.

I can't compare this book to any of the other popular Franklin books because I haven't read them, but I would reccomend this book for a less analytical, though not superficial, read. I say this because it was written by a journalist - journalists tend to be incisive and easier for most to read than scholers. If you would enjoy a more psychological view into Franklin's character, HG Wells' version would probably be more appropriate.

5-0 out of 5 stars An American Renaissance Man
Publisher, philosopher, scientist, inventor, and statesman - Walter Isaacson's "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life" is a fascinating portrait of our Founding Father's most senior citizen. But it is also an outstanding history of American life in the 18th century, first as a colony, then in the struggle for independence. The role of France in the American Revolution - and Franklin's role in securing that key alliance - unfolds with a clarity I'd not previously encountered. And Franklin's often-combative relationship with John Adams is a riveting character study, especially when balanced by McCullough's biography of Adams. In vivid detail and painstaking research, Isaacson's Franklin is brilliant, but still an enigma. Despite unquestionably high morality, we see a ruthless businessman. While possessing an obvious love for socializing - especially with members of the opposite sex - his immediate family is effectively abandoned, as Franklin lives virtually parallel lives between Europe and America. We see Franklin typically charitable and charming, yet alternately cold and calculating. Yet despite his foibles and flaws, Franklin emerges deservedly as "the most accomplished American of his age." And given the breadth of these accomplishments, an argument could be made "for any age". In summary, Isaacson achieves the rare combination of an important and scholarly biography that at the same time is a lively and entertaining story of America and one of our greatest Americans.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Portrayal of the Most Versatile American
Let me first start off by saying that I have read few biographies. But Isaacson made a biography that is both readable and balanced between Franklin's personal and professional life. Franklin was the true founding father that believed in the common man. Franklin was not perfect but he believed in fair treatment for all. America would have advanced much slower if it was not for Ben. Probably his greatest contribution to our society was the feeling of helping one another. He helped form the first fire station, post office, police force (much less his inventions) - his work had community written all over it. All of his work was done with the premise of helping mankind. Maybe other founders fought the wars and wrote the documents. But we survived all these years because we formed a community; the idea that as Americans we have to all work together. That is Franklin's legacy to our nation. I will read biographies on the other founders (Hamilton, Jefferson, Adams and Washington) to gain a more complete perspective on how this country started. This book lays an excellent foundation and is a must read for those interested in the origins of America through the eyes of one of its greatest citizens.

5-0 out of 5 stars An outstanding biography of a remarkable man
Walter Isaacson, former chairman of CNN and managing editor of Time Magazine, has written an immensely readable and informative biography of Benjamin Franklin that never gets too stuffy or bogged down in meaningless minutae. Instead, we are treated to a fascinating glimpse at a man who was early America's greatest publisher, scientist, politician, inventor and diplomat.

We all have our pre-conceived notions of Franklin, including him out flying his kite to try and link electricity with lightning, or him dozing off during the lengthy and tedious deliberations at the Constitutional Convention. Isaacson peels back the layers of the story a bit, reminding us how often our vision of Franklin derives from Franklin's own pen, such as the vision of the young teen arriving in Philadelphia with loaves of bread, looking ridiculous as he passed by the window of his future wife (a scene written by Franklin at age 65 when he penned his autobiography).

The book does a very good job not only of recounting the many accomplishments of Franklin, but also of exploring his middle class ideals and values. For example, Isaacson's book reminds us that while Franklin was never terribly pious or religious throughout his life, he favored organized religion because churches encouraged citizens to behave well, and to do good things. There was always a sense of pragmatism and public service in everything Franklin did and believed in. As a publisher, if he thought a public policy or official was wrong and needed to be criticized publicly, he would invent characters (to avoid libel suits) to write humorous and sometimes scathing attacks that were basically anonymous.

The book also dwells repeatedly on the Franklin's love and admiration of the middle class as the real core of American society. While Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia as a college for southern gentlemen, Franklin founded the University of Pennsylvania to serve a much larger, and more low-brow, populace. As a statesman, it is remarkable that Franklin (despite many years abroad as an effective French ambassador) was a participant and signer of virtually every key treaty/document in colonial history, including the Albany Plan of the Union, the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Peace Treaty with England, and the Constitution. His spirit of compromise and his sage demeanor no doubt helped bridge the gap which sharply divided members of the Constitutional Convention. He occasionally flip-flopped on an issue, including his views on the Stamp Act and his belief in the possibility of conciliation with Britain, but without his sense of compromise the Constitution would never have made it in its present, remarkable form.

Isaacson also explores the personal side of Franklin, including his strained relationship (and ultimate lack of a relationship) with his loyalist son, who became governor of New Jersey, as well as his relatively harmless flirting with the ladies of French society while he was abroad. The contrasts in his character, and that of John Adams (who was sent out to France to work with him on the French alliance), was remarkable. Both great men to be sure, but they could not be more unalike, and their pairing was an unfortunate one.

The book ends with a wonderful chapter titled "Conclusions" in which Franklin's place in history, and the changing attitudes towards his character over the years, are explored. The Trascendentalists like Emerson and Thoreau had little use for Ben, as he was too practical and mundane for their "rarefied tastes", but as the country became more industrial and Horatio Alger novels became the rage, Franklin's work ethic and maxims were embraced all over again. Ultimately Isaacson points out that as a writer he was "more Mark Twain and less William Shakespeare", and as a scientist he was more like Edison than Newton. Always witty and charming, if not profound, he probably did more than anyone in history to try and advance the common good, through civic associations, libraries, volunteer fire departments, post offices, etc. I put the book down terribly impressed with Franklin the man, and Isaacson the biographer.

1-0 out of 5 stars Walter Isaacson: Mr. Shallow, An American Life
As a direct descendant of Simon Meredith (1663-1745), father of Hugh Meredith, Benjamin Franklin's erstwhile business partner in Philadelphia, I looked forward with great interest to Isaacson's much touted book, and immediately consulted it between flights, looking up Cousin Hugh. With respect to Hugh, Isaacson, like so many predecessors, again proved shallow, inept, under informed and a grand source of misinformation: as we Merediths know all too well, Franklin simply stiffed Simon and dumped Hugh after the venerable Ben had gained a virtual monopoly to print money. Isaacson remains oblivious of the fact that the Simon Merediths of Radnorshire, members of a medieval college of physicians and clerics, were and remain one of the most distinguished Welsh-American families this country has ever known. I realize Isaacson is reputedly a great publicist and business person, but as an historian and researcher he remains woefully ignorant. Welcome to another silly, sorry Franklin read. ... Read more


105. Washington's Crossing (Pivotal Moments in American History)
by David Hackett Fischer
list price: $35.00
our price: $23.10
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Asin: 0195170342
Catlog: Book (2004-01-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Average Customer Review: 4.61 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Six months after the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution was all but lost. A powerful British force had routed the Americans at New York, occupied three colonies, and advanced within sight of Philadelphia. George Washington lost ninety percent of his army and was driven across the Delaware River. Panic and despair spread through the states. Yet, as David Hackett Fischer recounts in this riveting history, Washington--and many other Americans--refused to let the Revolution die. Even as the British and Germans spread their troops across New Jersey, the people of the colony began to rise against them. George Washington saw his opportunity and seized it. On Christmas night, as a howling nor'easter struck the Delaware Valley, he led his men across the river and attacked the exhausted Hessian garrison at Trenton, killing or capturing nearly a thousand men.A second battle of Trenton followed within days. The Americans held off a counterattack by Lord Cornwallis's best troops, then were almost trapped by the British force. Under cover of night,Washington's men stole behind the enemy and struck them again, defeating a brigade at Princeton. The British were badly shaken. In twelve weeks of winter fighting, their army suffered severe damage, their hold on New Jersey was broken, and their strategy was ruined. Fischer's richly textured narrative reveals the crucial role of contingency in these events.We see how the campaign unfolded in a sequence of difficult choices by many actors, from generals to civilians, on both sides. While British and German forces remained rigid and hierarchical, Americans evolved an open and flexible system that was fundamental to their success. At the same time, they developed an American ethic ofwarfare that John Adams called "the policy of humanity," and showed that moral victories could have powerful material effects. The startling success of Washington and his compatriots not only saved the faltering American Revolution, but helped to give it new meaning, in a pivotal moment for American history. ... Read more

Reviews (23)

5-0 out of 5 stars Proves once again the greatness of Washington
This is a wonderful book. On the one hand, it's the story--told from the strategic level--of a critical year in America's history (late 1776 to mid-1777). On the other hand, it's a gripping story of the battles, the participants, and what it all looked like from the viewpoint of the common soldier. And if I had a third hand, it is yet another testimonial to the greatness of George Washington, both as a man and military leader.

The story begins with a retelling of the horrible period in 1776, when Washington's army was outfought and outgeneraled in New York and chased to Pennsylvania. Having been proven fallable, Washington rethought his strategy and within a few weeks demonstrated great leadership in crossing the Delaware and defeating the enemy in Trenton, then a week later holding the British off in Trenton, then beating them in Princeton. Fischer's retelling of the guerilla-style war that ensued in New Jersey after the battle of Princeton was completely new to me.

Fischer is a master of seamlessly moving the narrative from the broad strategic level (the maps are excellent) to the tactical level, and then to the level of the individual soldier. His synthesis of diaries and other first-hand accounts from participants from both sides of the conflict gives the reader the feeling of really being there.

I've read a fair amount on the Revolutionary War but found that I had a greater feel for the travails and thoughts of the individual soldiers from this book than in anything I've read before.

I particularly liked the last chapter, where Fischer summarizes the big and small lessons we can learn from the events of that critical year. I could not agree more with one of his concluding points--that recent years have seen historians focus on finding dark underbellies in American history (often where one did not exist): "Too many writers have told us we are captives of our darker selves and helpless victims of history. It isn't so, and never was." Amen to that.

Fischer doesn't varnish the truth nor does he try to convince the reader that the Americans were always lily white. But there is no question who the good guys were in his retelling, and he backs up his conclusions with facts.

This is the story of one of the great moments in our nation's history, when the future truly was in the balance. The decisions of George Washington really mattered then and so did his leadership. The response of the other leaders and soldiers really mattered, and they responded admirably. It's a time we can all be proud of.

Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Well researched and interesting
A monumental tome, "Washington's Crossing" provides an extensive and thorough examination of the people and events leading up to and surrounding the crossing of the Delaware River as well as the results of the successful New Jersey campaign of which this was one small part. For those who are serious historians and wish to check primary sources or other information the author provides documentation in the form of 45 pages of appendices, 33 pages of histography, a 27 page bibliography, and 56 pages of notes. For those less inclined to study at that level the easy-to-read style of David Fischer makes the book a great read. He closely examines the makeup of the various military units including the Hessian regiments, British regulars, Scottish Highland regiments, Connecticut Light Horse regiment, Hamilton's Artillery, regiments of riflemen, etc. He also examines the background and history of Washington, the Howe brothers, Cornwallis, and many other major players in the war. After reading "Washington's Crossing" you come away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for what the American and British forces went through and what each was trying to accomplish at various stages of the war. This was a critical time for the American militia and David Fischer drives the point home well as he takes you through one unsuccessful campaign after another until the tide finally turned for the American troops. Each side is carefully examined in terms of fatigue, moral, military planning. What happened, why it happened and the effect it had on the war at that point. A fascinating trip into history it is an excellent read and highly recommended.

3-0 out of 5 stars Very Good Narrative of a Pivotal Encounter
I found that this book is a very good, though somewhat incomplete, narrative of the 1776 New Jersey campaign. The most helpful thing I did before reading this book was to read Thomas Fleming's "1776 Year of Illusions".

Fischer's book struck me as being almost two books in one. The first recounts the events from the end of the siege of Boston through the 1776 battles for New York. The prose, while servicable, is not compelling and the narrative goes by in very large blocks. This first part deeply disappointed me.

For this part, Fleming's book was invaluable. He put the events of 1776 in a larger political context so that what was happening made more sense. In Fischer's book, Germain and North are merely mentioned. Fleming fully realizes these two crucial figures. Fleming also puts Washington's campaign in perspective with other military activities, admittedly outside of Fischer's purview.

However, once the action moves to New Jersey, Fischer settles in and appears to be more interested in what is going on. The prose improves greatly and the details are put forward. I like the idea (as noted in another review) that Fischer usually lets the reader know what the controversies are and how he sorted them out. The details are fascinating and Fischer has a number of contributions to the story.

However, Fischer, to me, never really gives life to Washington. While I do not think he is a cardboard figure in this book, he is rather distant. Nor does Fischer, as another reviewer noted, effectively chronicle Washington's evolution as a leader. There are other areas where the incompleteness interferes with understanding what is happening such as with Charles Lee.

This is where the Fleming book was so helpful. I found Fleming's prose to be very compelling. In his book Washington becomes almost human. His evolution as a leader is clearly shown. The effect of what Fleming calls "Bunker Hillism" is clearly traced. Fischer has the same concept but it is, to me, unfocused. I also believe that Fleming makes the ties between the political and military arenas clearer. Of course, Fleming by covering all of the events of 1776 does not have the detailed focus that Fischer has. Further Fleming's book, from 1976, does not have the sources from after that date that Fischer has. These sources certainly seem to have made an impact on our understanding of the events.

In summary I find that Fischer's book is indespensible for its details and its conclusions about the 1776 - early 1777 New Jersey campaigns. Fischer also has really wonderful material on the legacy of the events and how they have been treated over the years. But for a fuller view of where these events fit in the overall conflict, and for some points that Fischer seems to be incomplete about, I would recommend this book in tandem with other sources.

5-0 out of 5 stars Moving and Inspriring...
Superb account of the Continental Army, Washington and the Winter of 1776!

4-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story telling
This is a wonderful book, presently information not found in other books. For example, after the battle of Trenton when George Washington surprised the Hessians and killed or captured a thousand of them, there was a second battle of Trenton in which Washington was severely outnumbered by the British, but he managed to slip away. Did you know that? And did you always believe the Hessians were drunk when Washington attacked? If you did, you can find out here why this just wasn't so.

This is not a quick read dealing with just the crossing of the Delaware. The author takes nearly two hundred pages just building up to the crossing. But in those pages the author lays out just why it was that Washington was willing to take such a risk as he did in crossing the Delaware, and what lead up to him making such a desperate attempt at securing a victory of some kind, any kind. It is interesting to see how so many things that could have gone wrong did, but somehow everything worked out well in the end (well, unless you were one of the German mercenaries!). Also, the author considers the individual soldiers involved, not just the generals.
The entire book is informative, enjoyable, and just plain good reading.
If a person wanted to read just one book concerning the crossing of the Delaware (and what came before and what came after), this would be the one I would recommend.
The author of this book certainly knows how to tell a story. ... Read more


106. The Scalpel and the Silver Bear : The First Navajo Woman Surgeon Combines Western Medicine and Traditional Healing
by LORI ALVORD, ELIZABETH COHEN VAN PELT
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
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Asin: 0553378007
Catlog: Book (2000-06-06)
Publisher: Bantam
Sales Rank: 59817
Average Customer Review: 4.88 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The first Navajo woman surgeon combines western medicine and traditional healing.

A spellbinding journey between two worlds, this remarkable book describes surgeon Lori Arviso Alvord's struggles to bring modern medicine to the Navajo reservation in Gallup, New Mexico--and to bring the values of her people to a medical care system in danger of losing its heart.

Dr. Alvord left a dusty reservation in New Mexico for Stanford University Medical School, becoming the first Navajo woman surgeon. Rising above the odds presented by her own culture and the male-dominated world of surgeons, she returned to the reservation to find a new challenge. In dramatic encounters, Dr. Alvord witnessed the power of belief to influence health, for good or for ill. She came to merge the latest breakthroughs of medical science with the ancient tribal paths to recovery and wellness, following the Navajo philosophy of a balanced and harmonious life, called Walking in Beauty. And now, in bringing these principles to the world of medicine, The Scalpel and the Silver Bear joins those few rare works, such as Healing and the Mind, whose ideas have changed medical practices-and our understanding of the world.

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Reviews (16)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Scalpel and the Silver Bear
This book explores the remarkable journey of a Navajo women who leaves the reservation to train as a surgeon. It contrasts traditional Navajo practices with those of western medicine and illustrates how one women was able negotiate two worlds at odds with one another. The book provoked me to re-evaluate some of my assumptions of western medicine and heightened my awareness of cultural differences in philosophy of medical care. The book is thought-provoking and inspirational. A quick and easy read.

5-0 out of 5 stars READ THIS BOOK
I picked up this book and I could NOT put it down. What a wonderful journey described here....how she interlocks traditional medicine with Navajo, how harmony and positive spirit is such a process in the healing world. You will not be disappointed with this read. I have shared this with all those close to me. Make it part of your list

4-0 out of 5 stars Solid credentials but too abstract
--Dr Alvord writes about her journeys as a Native American student and physician. The book seems clearly designed for non-technical readers rather than the professional medical community, and there's little medical jargon. She uses her own difficult pregnancy and the death of a beloved grandmother as case studies in integrating Western medicine and Navajo ideas.
--On the one hand, it's worth reading this book just to hear such an inspirational story from such a role model. Dr Alvord tells her story with dignity and courage and she has many good ideas about listening to patients and integrating Balance and Harmony in our profession (although these ideas don't seem as radical or as rare within the medical community as she seems to imply, and I don't think she does anyone a great service by implying they are).
--On the other hand, the authors remained disappointingly abstract, even given the limitations of confidentiality and space. The stories of Navajo healing barely scratched the surface and the book was pretty scanty with practical advice that would help non-Native healers understand Native American patients. I'd love to have heard her perspectives on the magnitude of Native American health problems, how she handled the constant pressures of time and funding, or how she successfully used traditional Native American methods to help manage serious medical-social problems (i.e. alcohol use, diabetogenic diets, family pressures, basic compliance and responsibility issues, etc). In short, I'd like to have heard more about her successes.
--The book's perspective gives a good counterpoint to those who criticize Western medicine as too impersonal/sterile/uncaring/whatever, while they fail to demonstrate how to predictably improve things and still efficiently deliver technically competent health care to people with different levels of motivation and understanding. Western medicine works beautifully in its own niche, but it will be made to work less efficiently if we mess around with the wrong things. Perhaps medicine will improve if we balance the responsibilities of patients to live a healthy lifestyle with the responsibilities of healers to carefully listen to patients and then help them heal.
--This book did not practically help me to do this, so I cannot give it five stars despite my respect for her credentials. I do look forward to a sequel.
--Other books which may be of interest include Blessings (by Dr. A. Organick), The Dancing Healers, and Primary Care of Native American Patients.

5-0 out of 5 stars What We All Want in a Doctor
This book was recommended by a friend, and after I read it, I chose it as my selection for my book club. Living in the Southwest, the insight into Native American culture was especially educational. Alvord seems to confirm what so many of us as patients have been saying for years: give us a doctor who will take the time to get to know us on a personal level and treat the whole person. I would recommend this to men and women, young and old alike! What an amazing woman.

5-0 out of 5 stars Made me homesick!
I can't tell you how helpful this book was to me in gaining insight to myself and my own heritage. I too grew up on the "rez", or the Navajo Nation, not far from where Ms. Alvord grew up. (In fact, I am related to her by clan!) I also grew up half Navajo and half white. This book helped me to understand many of the characteristics and traits that I have and the cultural significance underlying them, as I was raised non-traditionally. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, but especially Native youth, because it shows that anyone can achieve their dream. I am very proud of Lori Alvord for being willing to share her story and show the Western medical world the importance of Native/Indigenous healing practices. ... Read more


107. The Water Is Wide
by PAT CONROY
list price: $7.99
our price: $7.19
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Asin: 0553268937
Catlog: Book (1987-11-01)
Publisher: Bantam
Sales Rank: 10673
Average Customer Review: 4.41 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This heartrending story of the difference one man can make became the basis for the first film based on a Pat Conroy work, the much-loved Conrack.

The Water is Wide

Yamacraw Island is nearly deserted. No one has paid much attention to it, nor to the few poor black families that live there. But this beautiful, haunting slip of land across the water from South Carolina is home to them, and they've lived off the bounty from the sea for generations.

But now their very existence is challenged. Industrial waste, pouring into the water from which they pull their catches, threatens the only vocation they've known. Unless they can learn a new way of life, they will surely perish. The Water is Wide is the true story of a young white schoolteacher -- a man who gave a year of his life to give an island and a people renewed hope. He becomes the teacher to their children, and teaches the adults of Yamacraw Island extraordinary lessons they didn't even know they needed to learn.

With a moving performance by Will Patton, Pat Conroy teaches us all about the triumph of the human spirit in the most desolate of circumstances. ... Read more

Reviews (29)

5-0 out of 5 stars Novel? Not when I read it, it wasn't!
The Water Is Wide is a terrific book, but I'm confused by the many comments that praise it as a "novel." This wasn't written as a novel. Pat Conroy lived the story, and this is the story of his experiences as a teacher on a sea island off South Carolina. He changed some names (of both people and sites) in the book, but fiction this ain't. The book does, however, draw on his wonderful talents, just as his novels do.

4-0 out of 5 stars Yamacraw is a precursor to the rest of Conroy's Books
Somebody else already attacked the other reviewer for calling this book a novel. This memoir is fact. But the other writer wrote that Pat Conroy went to Yamacraw Island to fight "institutional racism", blah, blah, blah. That misses the point entirely.

Pat Conroy was a native of the South Carolina coast. Being a writer he took the job of being a school teacher at Yamacraw because he wanted to teach. That would give him time to write. And living on Yamacraw would give him something to write about.

Pat Conroy is the author of "The Lords of Discipline" , "The Great Santini", "The Prince of Tides", and "Beach Music". Fans of these novels should add "The Water is Wide" to their bookshelves.

In this memoir the young Pat Conroy takes a job teaching black children on Yamacraw Island. There is no road there so he takes a boat to work each day. The school kids are pretty much illiterate. Complicit in the neglect of the school-from a materiel point of view-is the headmistress. Representing the status quo do-nothing school board, she is just like the matron in George Orwell's novel "The Clergyman's Daughter". Just like in the same novel, Pat Controy, the bright new school teacher, comes along with some new ideas and is able to achieve some positive results in the classroom. The bureaucrat in the way laments Conroy's efforts. She says he should just beat them. That's the only way to instill discipline she says.

I think that Pat Conroy might have come to Yamacraw to live the contemplative live of a writer. But he soon is embroiled in controversy and busy fending off the headmistress and bewildered parents. But his skill as a teacher is he is able to mollify his critics. The apogee of his success is when he organizes his retinue for a field trip to Savannah. This is one of the most enjoyable and most worrisome parts of the book as he and the kids have a great trip, but Conroy must jump through hoops to get the requisite signatures from all of the parents. For some of the kids this is a their first trip off the Island.

One should not look upon the people of Yamacraw with pity as I am sure Pat Conroy did not. What ruined their lifestyle, he clearly points, out is the pollution of the Savannah River which wiped out the crab population there and the islander's livelihood. (Probably the crabs have rebounded now with the Clear Water act and other efforts to curtail nitrogen and other emissions.) Rather Conroy's look at the Island is whimsical-i.e. he has a fondness for the winding creek and the expanse of marshes, the live oak forests, and the simple life of the agrarian dweller. He genuinely grows fond the of kids under his kids. As was his goal, all of this provided greater fodder for his memoir.

The only criticism I have of Pat Conroy is he seems to have strayed from literature and gone commercial. "The Lords of Discipline" was a great yarn about life at the Citadel. But I refused to read "Beach Music" because it seemed to use the same backdrop of South Carolina as a setting and theme one time too many. Not being a writer with the skills of Faulkner-who kept his focus on one tiny county in Missippi-I think Conroy could have gone elsewhere after he wrote "The Prince of Tides". Maybe he is one of these writers like Tom Wolfe (of Asheville and not the Richmond writer) who can only write autobiographical books.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great writing
The Water is Wide is my second favorite Conroy--Prince of Tides being the first. Both books are excellent with great characters, situations, and bold ideas. Highly recommended.

Also recommended: The Great Santini,Prince of Tides, Bark of the Dogwood, To Kill a Mockingbird

5-0 out of 5 stars the water is wide
The Water is Wide, by Pat Conroy was one of exciting books I have read in years and based on a true story. The book is based on Pat Conroy life and what events he went through. Pat Conroy goes to a remote island called Yamacraw to teach students who have no idea of the world outside of Yamacraw island and Pat is the person who will change those students life by telling them what he knows about the life outside of island and will the students whole perspective about what the know and a lot of things they didn't know.

The book is very appealing to me because it tells me that every is like here every places is advanced in technology which makes life easier and that we should not take it for granted. "The tiny bellicose Irishman residing in my genes and collective unconscious urging me on and whispering to me that a great injustice was being perpetrated and that it was up to me to expose this condition to the person with the ability and training to do something about it". The theme of this book is to never give up no matter how hard things get and always strive for the better. I agree with the theme because not giving up is the best solution to the problem at hand. It relates to my life in a big way because when lived in country I was poor and I had always had to work hard for the things I had to get and not giving up or not quitting was my motive because if give up on anything it means you are a failure. Yes I would recommend this book to others because it has a great message and you care it through you life.

5-0 out of 5 stars It Will Make You Think
"The Water Is Wide" was Pat Conroy's second book, a non-fiction account of the year he spent teaching poverty-stricken children on isolated Yamacraw Island in South Carolina. Conroy went on to write four truly excellent novels over the next two decades, but this one is perhaps more hard-hitting. It combines his already remarkable prose with a brutally honest and telling look at the sad state of public education in an environment nobody wanted to fool with--in a racially-charged era.

Conroy readily admits that he was filled with white liberal guilt by his early twenties, and he was ready to save the world when he plunged headlong into the Yamacraw teaching position nobody else wanted. His task was all but impossible--teaching a classroom of poor, hopelessly uneducated black kids not only how to read, write and spell (many literally couldn't write their names), but to comprehend that there was a big, incredible world out there. As Conroy quickly realized, most of the kids had never even ventured off the small island.

Sadly, the biggest obstacle facing Conroy were the administrators and school board in neighboring Beaufort, Conroy's hometown. These were the folks who supervised the Yamacraw school, and to Conroy's disbelief, the harder he worked to enlighten his students, the more roadblocks were thrown at him from black and white bureaucrats. Standing up for his principles and calling attention to the problems of the poor island school eventually cost Conroy his teaching position--a job he desperately wanted to keep for another year, as he'd come to love the students and their families.

Brutally honest and beautifully written, "The Water Is Wide" is a tightly written novel which leaves a profound impression. Although relations between the races have improved tremendously since this book was written, its subject matter is still very relevant today, as educational politics still fester in school systems large and small, rich and poor. Strongly recommended for all Conroy fans, and for any past, present or future educators. ... Read more


108. Inside Hitler's Bunker : The Last Days of the Third Reich
by Joachim Fest
list price: $21.00
our price: $14.28
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374135770
Catlog: Book (2004-04-01)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Sales Rank: 24924
Average Customer Review: 4.09 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

There is nothing in recent history that comes close to the cataclysmic events of the spring of 1945.Never before has the defeat of a nation been accompanied by such monumental loss of life, such utter destruction.Author Joachim Fest shows that the devastation was the result ofHitler's determination to take the entire country down with him; he would make sure that his enemies would find only a wasteland, where once there was a thriving civilization.

Fest describes in riveting detail the final weeks of the war, from the desperate battles that raged night and day in the ruins of Berlin, fought by boys and old men, to the growing paranoia that marked Hitler's mental state--his utter disregard for the well being of both soldiers and civilians-- to his suicide and the efforts of his loyal aides to destroy his body before the advancing Russian armies reached Berlin. Inside Hitler's Bunker combines meticulous research with spellbinding storytelling andsheds light on events that, for those who survived them, were nothing less than the end of the world.
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Reviews (11)

4-0 out of 5 stars The last days of a fallen empire....
Fest, who is the author of one of the most authoritative biographies on Hitler, focuses on the final few days of the Third Reich in his new book. This is a really riveting book, and once you get past the first 15 or so pages, you won't want to put it down. Fest does a great job at describing the general disorganization and confusion of those final days, and showing just have bad Berlin had been destroyed by the Russian and American assault upon it. I think Fest does raise some good questions about Hitler and his importance in history. Also, the speculation that Hitler's aims and goals for the Third Reich were not for the betterment of civilization, but for the eventual destruction and enslavement of it, is an apt assessment. Also, Dembo's translation is much better than the translators for some of Fest's other works, and I think this also had a lot to do with why the book was so good. The reson why I gave it only 4 stars as opposed to 5 is that it does seem a little sketchy at times in its treatment of the Bunker, but then again, much is speculation anyway. Another reason for the 4 stars is that Fest really gives no dramatically new information here, but he makes other excellent observations and such that you just can't stop reading. A good companion to this tome would be UNTIL THE FINAL HOUR by Traudl Junge, Hitler's last secretary in the Bunker, so that one can get a historical, as well as personal, perspective on the events surrounding the fall of the Third Reich.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Dark Ending to a Dark Time
Joachim Fest is a distinguished German journalist and the author of an acclaimed biography of Hitler. In "Inside Hitler's Bunker," he focuses on the last days of the Third Reich, beginning his narrative on April 16, 1945 as the Soviets open their final offensive against Berlin. The book explores the surreal and miserable world of the "Fuhrer Bunker" under the Reich Chancellery, the fanatical resistance and eventual collapse of the German armies defending Berlin, Hitler's delusional attempts to command armies that had been wiped out, and the astonishing willingness of soldiers and civilians to obey his orders until the very end.

This is a highly readable and very powerful book, and the translator (Margot Bettauer Dembo) deserves high marks for the result. I read the book avidly, and as soon as I was done my wife picked it up and did the same.

"Inside Hitler's Bunker" may be somewhat disappointing for those who have read a great deal about the Battle of Berlin or Hitler's last days (the book does not appear to break a great deal of new ground), but it will prove to be a gripping narrative for those who are new to the horrors of Berlin in 1945. Part of the continuing fascination of this dark time is the challenge of trying to understand the incomprehensible: how could a madman like Hitler stay in control of Germany in the last weeks of April 1945, and why did so many Germans follow him as he dragged them into the final catastrophe?

The answer to those questions may lie in the 12 years of indoctrination that preceded those fateful days in 1945. For a brief and readable perspective on this period (which has been thoroughly explored in numerous more massive tomes), you may want to try "Inside Hitler's Germany: Life Under the Third Reich" by Matthew Hughes and Chris Mann.

4-0 out of 5 stars No Footnotes? Say What?
Personally, I'm not a big fan of having a tremendous amount of footnotes in a book. Then again, any book of history that doesn't contain any is immediately suspect. Generally speaking, "historians" who don't use footnotes are either: 1) Elderly; 2) Egotists; 3) Lazy; or 4) Glorified journalists.

Here's Joachim Fest's reason for not using footnotes in his book "Inside Hitler's Bunker":

"This volume contains no footnotes. Every citation or incident mentioned can be traced to a source, however. I decided not to use footnote references because of the hopeless confusion in the statements and testimony of the witnesses, much of which can no longer be cleared up. Too often a reference would have to be compared with one or more differing statements or descriptions."

In other words, this book is historical fiction. It's still worth reading, but then again, lazy, unaccountable scholarship should not be tolerated, especially for a subject as important as this one. Was Fest hoping that, because he wrote an acclaimed biography of Hitler, that he was therefore an "expert" and could get away with this sort of thing?

Sure, I'm not blind to the fact that there are so many contradictory accounts concerning Hitler, that the logistics of unravelling the truth about his reign are formidable. Then again, that is what HISTORIANS do. Surely at least a FLAVOR of the problems in writing this sort of book might have been attempted to be conveyed in a few judicious notes.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting But...
Fest has written a very good account of Hitler's and the Reich's last days. However, there is a glaring error or at the very least, an ambiguity that I have not heard others mention in their reviews.

Page 111 states that Hitler had his last meal at 2 P.M. on April 30, 1945, the historically accepted day of his suicide. However page 115 mentions that "...some witnesses say they heard one shot at about 3:30 in the morning." That would make it May 1, 1945. Page 123 then goes on to say that Hitler died on the afternoon of April 30, 1945.

Additionally, page 116 says that Hitler died on a '"...flowered sofa." while the sofa may have had flowers in the pattern, the primary motif was a Russian Cossaack on horseback with sword drawn.

Joachim includes interesting details that some accounts fail to mention. He accurately records that Hiter was shot with a 7.65-mm Walther pistol (not a revolver). He also mentions that Eva Hitler was found with a pistol that was unfired. He excludes the fact that the smaller gun was in fact also Hitler's, the one he carried since the 20's in a holster built into his pants.

This book is an excellent addition to others about Hitler's last days in the bunker, but not the best work on the subject .

4-0 out of 5 stars A FITTING END
As World War II was coming to an end and the Russian armies were marching towards Berlin, Hitler and some of his most die-hard supporters hid themselves in a secret bunker deep underground. This excellent book lays out the events that were happening inside the bunker and also in the streets outside as the dream of a maniac was coming to an end.

As you read you see a Hitler who still has dreams of the Americans and Russians turning against each other and Hitler coming in as the cavalry to aid the US. The bunker was a fertile playground for pipedreams of still being able to win the war even as the cement was falling from the ceilings as bombs struck overhead. It made me think of the Iraqi press officer in the recent war as Americans were invading the country saying that all the Americans had been kicked out and defeated.

The portrait of Hitler that emerges is the mentality of a gang leader. He wasn't a visionary. He wanted to kill, loot, and pillage. The world was nothing more than a theater of death to him. He refused to almost the end to surrender, instead bringing needless destruction and death to his people. It seemed that he resented the German people in a way simply because they were gullible enough to do everything he said. My god, where was a voice of reason in the Germany of that era? To me, it seems as though it was a terrorist state.

Another disturbing aspect of it was the devotion of his followers and the idealism of the Nazi way of life. For example, Magda Goebbels, on realizing the end of the war, became so depressed that she killed all her children and then committed suicide along with her husband. These people really thought they were mideval knights, holding up some code of chivalry and social codes while they were killing millions of Jews, Russians, and Americans. It almost felt good to read about the end of this horrible state and the absurdity as the people around Hitler struggled amongst themselves to be his successor like there was a future for the Nazi party. ... Read more


109. Reminiscences of a Stock Operator Illustrated
by Edwin Lefevre, Marketplace Books, William J. O'Neil
list price: $29.95
our price: $20.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0471678767
Catlog: Book (2004-09)
Publisher: Wiley
Sales Rank: 22040
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Book Description

"After 20 years and many re-reads, Reminiscences is still one of my all-time favorites."
–Kenneth L. Fisher, Forbes
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110. Warrior Soul : The Memoir of a Navy SEAL
by CHUCK PFARRER
list price: $25.95
our price: $17.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400060362
Catlog: Book (2003-12-30)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 6685
Average Customer Review: 4.91 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

“Since the first navy frogmen crawled onto the beaches of Normandy, no SEAL has ever surrendered,” writes Chuck Pfarrer. “No SEAL has ever been captured, and not one teammate or body has ever been left in the field. Thislegacy of valor is unmatched in modern warfare.”


Warrior Soul
is a book about the warrior spirit, and it takes the reader all over the world. Former Navy SEAL Chuck Pfarrer recounts some of his most dangerous assignments: On a clandestine reconnaissance mission on the Mosquito Coast, his recon team plays a deadly game of cat and mouse with a Nicaraguan patrol boat. Cut off on the streets of Beirut, the author’s SEAL detachment must battle snipers on the Green Line. In the mid-Atlantic, Pfarrer’s unit attempts to retrieve—or destroy—the booster section of a Trident ballistic missile before it can be recovered by a Russian spy trawler. On a runway in Sicily, his assault element surrounds an Egyptian airliner carrying the Achille Lauro hijackers.

These are only a few of the riveting stories of combat patrol, reconnaissance missions, counter-terrorist operations, tragedies, and victories in Warrior Soul that illustrate the SEAL maxim “The person who will not be defeated cannot be defeated.”
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Reviews (23)

5-0 out of 5 stars Real Life Hero
One of the best books I've read about US Navy Seals. In the same category of Marcinko's Rogue Warrior and Robert A. Gormly's Combat Swimmer but Warrior Soul is more human and sentimental. The book not only describes the military exploits of an ex-serviceman but also a real life struggles of a super human being against psychological and physical odds. The real highlight of the book is its last chapter. What a formidable advice from Pfarrer: 'Hold on to the people you are close to,and love them fiercely.Get up every morning and live like there is no tomorrow. Because one day you'll find it's true.' I wish a good luck to Mr. Pfarrer in his combat against his illness.

5-0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS YOU'LL READ ALL YEAR
I have never been a Navy SEAL but, after reading Mr. Pfarrer's excellent "Warrior Soul," I can safely say that I now understand a bit more what makes the most elite warriors in the U.S. military tick physically and emotionally. Above all else, as Mr. Pfarrer poignantly shows us, they are human beings who laugh and love and bleed just like the rest of us. Sometimes, those commonalities tend to get lost in the media's typical glorification of special forces operators. That said, "Warrior Soul" paints the most vivid picture imaginable of what it takes to become one of these special men and the lasting effect such a heroic undertaking has on their lives. This is a finely structured book penned by a truly terrific writer. I'd give it 10 stars if I could.

5-0 out of 5 stars Real and personal
So many books out there about the military carry the hollywood theme with them from the theatres. Its high adrenaline macho talk about some guy who thinks he is the best soldier there has ever been. However, Pfarrer's book goes completely the opposite direction. He seems to talk about combat the way it really was for him without any self-serving purpose. Beautifully written with many sections that just make you squirm with their realism. This book is about a man faced with the terrible realities of war especially his involvement with Beirut. It is not glitsy or glamourous. As a young man trying to figure out if I would like to be a part of our countries armed services, I appreciate such a realistic portrayal of what its really like.

5-0 out of 5 stars Warrior Soul
To start off, I thought this book was your normal memoir of someone who thought they were the greatest. This is unlike most of the other military memoirs.

Mr. Pfarrer does not talk about how good he was, or how great a leader he was. Unlike most memoirs, Mr. Pfarrer talks about how good his team was, not how great he was. He says stuff the way it was, he admits to not being the best husband, he admits to screwing up. This story is amazing, the stories he tells of America's secret wars that the news glanced over. It puts a lot of stuff in perscpective.

This is probably the best book I've read in the past year, and the absolute best book out there about the military, and special operations.

5-0 out of 5 stars Candid and well written
"Warrior Soul: The Memoirs of a Navy SEAL", by Chuck Pfarrer is quite a change from what I normally read. I subscribe to AVANTGO's RANDOMHOUSE channel and one of the excerpts they provided was from the first chapter of this book. After reading the excerpt, I was instantly hooked. I HAD to find out what happened next. I bought the book the next day. It's a real eye opener when you realize the things Pfarrer describes are true and part of our history. The author has a knack for conveying a wide range of emotion to the reader, making him/her feel like they were in the trenches, jungle, sub, boat or alley with him. Looking for a SAFE adrenaline boost? Read this book. The book also mentions a number of world events that someone from my generation may have heard of, but was too young to put into global historical context. The author generated a genuine interest in me, that lead to my researching a few of these events. I can understand why, when looking for this book at the book store, I found it under military history. ... Read more


111. The New Quotable Einstein
by Albert Einstein
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0691120757
Catlog: Book (2005-02-22)
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Sales Rank: 9611
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

For the first time in paperback, here is a newly expanded edition of the best-selling book that was hailed as "setting a new standard" for quotation books. Tens of thousands of readers have enjoyed The Quotable Einstein and The Expanded Quotable Einstein, with translations into twenty-two languages. This updated edition--which appears on the 100th anniversary of Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity and the 50th anniversary of Einstein's death--offers more than 300 new quotations, or over 1,200 altogether. Nearly all are by Einstein himself and a few are about the self-professed "lone wolf" Time magazine named "Man of the Century" at the turn of the millennium.

The New Quotable Einstein also includes a new section, "On Aging," and fresh material has been added to the appendix-from a touching account by Helen Dukas of Einstein's last days to a day-by-day summary of Johanna Fantova's telephone conversations with Einstein during the final year and a half of his life.

Also included are a poem called "Einstein," by Robert Service; and three virtually unknown verses to the song "As Time Goes By" (made famous in the movie Casablanca) that refer to Einstein. New photographs have been selected to introduce each section of the book.

Through well-documented quotations and supplementary information, The New Quotable Einstein provides a bigger and better biographical account of this multifaceted man-as son, husband, father, lover, scientist, philosopher, aging widower, humanitarian, and friend. It shows us even more vividly why the real and imagined Einstein continues to fascinate people across the world into the twenty-first century.

  • 300-plus new quotations, more than 1,200 in all
  • A day-by-day summary of Johanna Fantova's phone conversations with Einstein toward the end of his life
  • A touching account of Einstein's last days
  • A new section, "On Aging"
  • Three virtually unknown original verses of the song "As Time Goes By" (from the movie Casablanca) that refer to Einstein
  • Robert Service's poem "Einstein"
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars On the whole excellent
I was overjoyed when the first edition came out. Here in one small volume were many of Einstein's most famous lines.I was even happier when new expanded editions came out.I have used the book almost as an index to my collection of books about Einstein (and I have a dozen of them).

But I noticed one problem in the editing.In the first edition, in the chapter "On Religion, God, and Philosophy," Einstein is quoted as saying "I see only with deep regret that God punishes so many of his children for their numerous stupidities, for which only he can be held responsible; in my opinion, only his nonexistence could excuse him."In the "expanded" edition, the word "only" (the first one) was removed.Well, this changes the meaning a lot, given what we know about Einstein's denial of free will in man.With the word "only" removed, God's guilt is lightened, as though suggesting there are other culprits, but in so doing she also distorts Einstein's meaning.I was startled enough by this that I went to the science library at the University of Toronto, and double-checked Einstein's words in the multivolume "Collected Papers of Albert Einstein."The word "only" appears in both the German original ("nur") and the English translation.Over and over Eisntein denied that human beings have free will, and so objectively there is no one to blame for our crimes but God - if, as Einstein said, He even existed.

Initially I suspected the editor of deleting "only" deliberately - after all, the "censored" version appears in both the second and third editions.But I'm now satisfied that this was an honest editing error and I have been reassured that it will be corrected in the next edition.

On the whole, the quotes are quite reliable.And the sources are very wide, including not only Einstein's own collected papers but the Einstein Archive and other secondary writings (such as memoirs).There must be materials that may be new and interesting even to Einstein scholars.

In his foreword Freeman Dyson claims Einstein had a "darker side" - for example, with respect to his family.Well, I'm sorry, but Einstein never pretended he was a saint.He was in some ways only an ordinary human being with a very extraordinary brain.He was certainly no great father or husband.But Einstein never asked anyone to censor his biography for him, making him look better than he was.If he cheated his wife, he did so virtually openly.So I think Dyson's point is really pointless.Besides, the term "darker side" misleads people into thinking that Einstein must have done some evil deeds which he tried to keep away from view.Newton's deceitful conduct in the priority dispute certainly suggests a nasty side to his personality.Nothing of the kind was ever in Einstein's character or conduct.Einstein had a temper, and he could be grumpy, or sexist, or rude, or over-the-top in his words on occasion.And that's about as far as his "dark side" gets. So what?He never did anything remotely criminal or unethical or even deceitful, for those of us wondering what this "dark side" means.(Incidentally, Dyson's assertion that the Japanese show "exquisite taste" in admiring Einstein and Hawking defies common sense. It's not just the Japanese but the whole world over who have such "exquisite taste"; nor is it just Einstein and Hawking whom the Japanese admire. The Japanese admire all sorts of people, some of whom would not be considered terribly heroic by us.Dyson is a great mathematical physicist, but I'm familiar enough with Dyson's many writings to know this guy doesn't always say sensible things.)Returning to Dyson's foreword, his story about armed Israeli soldiers commandeering Einstein's files at Princeton, NJ on a dark and rainy Christmas night, possibly breaking American laws, while good enough for a cheap movie scene, sounds too fantastic to be believable.His implication is that Einstein's dirty laundry is now safely and deliberately hidden in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.Unless you're a connoisseur of conspiracy theories, you can safely dismiss this notion.Unless the files are physically destroyed, archivists will dig them out sooner or later.There is no reason to believe that non-Israeli Einstein specialists are denied access to them.I can't say I'll never be surprised by new revelations, but I doubt any will be interesting enough by now because the most important of Einstein's deeds and words and beliefs are already well known.What's yet to be revealed is most likely not interesting enough.(If someone could somehow find a manuscript proving Mileva doing most of the original mathematical thinking in Special Relativity, that would be an example of interesting new revelations.)

This book is very good as a general introduction to Einstein the man and even to his physics to a limited extent.The quotes are well-chosen and cover a good range.On the other hand, I wouldn't call it an Einstein concordance.For one thing, it is too short to be any such thing.For another, only an expert about Einstein AND his physics - like Abraham Pais - is qualified to compile a "concordance."(It would help that this expert also knew Einstein personally, though this is perhaps not necessary.)

This book is thus not the real thing - but surely a handy enough substitute.Its merits still far outweigh its imperfections.Here in one handy volume you can find Einstein's views on wide range of subjects, from politics to women to pipesmoking to Germans and Jews and of course physics.Not all of us will agree with everything he said.But in my opinion, Einstein's insights in philosophy, the scientific method, and music are devastatingly penetrating.And this book gives a fair and representative sample of these.(For those of you who are really interested in Einstein's "darker side," look for his tough opinions on Germans.For me, Einstein's bitter views of Germans come closest to showing his so-called "darker" side.Close but not quite though.Given all those dumb things Germans did in his lifetime, who can blame him?)

Two indexes, one for subjects and another for key words, make this book particularly user-friendly.

Calaprice has done Einstein admirers like myself a fine service.And the timing of this edition is good.Not only is 2005 the 100th anniversary of Special Relativity (1905), but April 18, 2005 is also the 50th anniversary of Einstein's death.



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112. Splendid Solution: Jonas Salk and the Conquest of Polio
by JeffreyKluger
list price: $25.95
our price: $17.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0399152164
Catlog: Book (2005-01-27)
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Sales Rank: 29222
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The riveting story of one of the greatest scientific accomplishments of the twentieth century, from the coauthor of the #1 New York Times bestseller Apollo 13.

With rivalries, reversals, and a race against time, the struggle to eradicate polio is one of the great tales of modern history. It begins with the birth of Jonas Salk, shortly before one of the worst polio epidemics in United States history. At the time, the disease was a terrifying enigma: striking from out of nowhere, it afflicted tens of thousands of children in this country each year and left them-literally overnight-paralyzed, and sometimes at death's door.

Salk was in medical school just as a president crippled by the disease, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was taking office-and providing the impetus to the drive for studies on polio. By the early 1950s, Salk had already helped create an influenza vaccine, and was hot on the trail of the polio virus. He was nearly thwarted, though, by the politics of medicine and by a rival researcher eager to discredit his proposed solution. Meanwhile, in 1952, polio was spreading in record numbers, with 57,000 cases in the United States that summer alone.

In early 1954, Salk was weighing the possibility of trials of a not-yet-perfected vaccine against-as the summer approached-the prospect of thousands more children being struck down by the disease. The results of the history-making trials were announced at a press conference on April 12, 1955: "The vaccine works." The room-and an entire nation-erupted in cheers for this singular medical achievement.

Salk became a cultural hero and icon for a whole generation. Now, at the fiftieth anniversary of the first national vaccination program-and as humanity is tantalizingly close to eradicating polio worldwide-comes this unforgettable chronicle. Salk's work was an unparalleled achievement-and it makes for a magnificent read.
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Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars A biography of Dr. Salk and his search for the vaccine
In 2005 the U.S. celebrates its 50th anniversary of the first national polio vaccination program which helped eradicate the disease in this country: it's hard to believe a generation is growing up without ever having known the ravages of polio. New York Times writer Jeffrey Kluger's Splendid Solution: Jonas Salk And The Conquest Of Polio is both a biography of Dr. Salk and his search for the vaccine and a social history of polio. Chapters based on exclusive interviews with his friends and colleagues and access to his private papers provides new details on Salk's life and career, setting this life in context of both his times and contemporaries.

3-0 out of 5 stars Pleasant, undemanding popular science tale
The discovery of the polio vaccine seems a musty tale to tackle in this post-modern, giga-bitten age. But Jeffrey Kluger, a staff writer at Time magazine and coauthor with commander Jim Lovell of Lost Moon (the inspiration for the Tom Hanks movie Apollo 13), has a decent excuse: 2005 marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Jonas Salk's breakthrough. The World Health Organization has targeted this year to eradicate the virus from the planet (a few hundred cases have lingered in Nigeria, Pakistan, and India), and the Smithsonian plans a retrospective exhibition.

Kluger nicely sketches the background for a medical achievement struck many as a miracle, and make Salk a reluctant mid-century media celebrity. When he was a child of Russian-Jewish immigrants in New York City, in 1916, more than 6,000 Americans died of polio in a year. Many more permanently lost the use of limbs. Though the numbers rose and fell, they averaged much the same for the next 40 years. Black city vehicles wrested sick children from their families and took them away to quarantine. Holiday celebrations were cancelled when the plague swept cities. Ignorance fed wild rumors such as one that blamed cats, whereupon 72,000 of them were beaten, drowned, and otherwise slaughtered by the citizens of New York.

Salk was a brilliant but odd duck. He graduated from a high school for the gifted at 15, and entered medical school by 20. During the Second World War, he was part of the team that developed the first 'flu vaccine. Detail-oriented to the point of obsessiveness, he was more polite and attentive to waiters and repairmen than peers who could do him political good.

Though muted, the story has its suspenseful turns and thrills. Competitors swear by a weakened live-virus vaccine while Salk pursues a killed-virus approach-carefully murdering yet structurally preserving the virus cells to goose the body's immune response. Test vaccines by other researchers fail, leaving dead children and ruined careers in their wake. Drug companies "improve" the vaccine Salk's team has already perfected, with procedures that lead to more polio cases. As an army of 20,000 doctors, 40,000 nurses, 1,000 support staff, 14,000 school principals and 50,000 teachers organized the 1.8 million children who would undergo the national field test in 1954, Walter Winchell's national radio broadcast called the vaccine a deadly failure, and warned that thousands of little white coffins were being readied to receive the resulting fatalities.

Slices of parallel lives punctuate the tale nicely, from the future President stricken by the disease at age 39, after which he crusades for the funding and research to battle it, to the accounts of Kluger's still-living sources: John Troan, the science reporter for the Pittsburgh Press who carefully cultivated his relationship with Salk and was rewarded with inside stories and scoops, and several interviewees who were crippled as children and participated in the first field tests.

Splendid Solution is not a heart-pounding page turner. In tone and style, it's a rather old-fashioned historical tale. But in its quiet manner, it is a terrific account, and well told.

3-0 out of 5 stars Short on Science
This book is a nice quick read for those who want a simplistic history of the Salk vaccine and the America that gave birth to it.
'Solution.." is almost devoid of hard scientific explanations. The author never adequately explains why polio emerged as such a public health threat in the post-1850 West and, simliarly, he fails to set forth the means of transmissision.
Put simply--pun intended--the book displays all the pluses and minuses of the author's journalistic background.
For a really excellent book on an infectious disease written for a general audience try "And the Band Played On" about HIV/AIDS.

1-0 out of 5 stars Cardboard characters looking for money and fame
The portrayal of Salk that arises from this book is that Salk was a political operator of the first order.The paucity of technical details and the "Oh, wow!" presentation of those few makes it very hard to assess the Salk's scientific contribution. Actually, the science of everyone involved is hurriedly brushed over.But all the key meetings, grants, confrontations, and even "chance" acquaintances - such as meeting Basil O'Connor's, chairman of the NFIP, daughter aboard ship and trying to "cheer her up" -- and Salk's reactions to these events are exhaustively recorded.It is mentioned a few times that Salk's battle-ax of a secretary actually had day-to-day control of the research group's operations.The charge of "Easy Bake" science is never convincing refuted by the author, even belatedly in the epilogue.The book was genuinely painful to read.You won't learn much about polio, but volumes about the politics of modern science.

5-0 out of 5 stars Compelling Read -Gripping, fascinating and powerful
"Splendid Solution" is a splendid book.From the opening page, the reader is swept into the world of Jonas Salk and the race to find a vaccine to prevent polio.

If you're a baby boomer, you'll remember getting the Salk or Sabin vaccine -- and marvel that our largest generation of children were protected by the efforts of Dr. Salk and his research team.If you're a parent of a baby boomer, you'll relive the horrors of summers in the 30s, 40s and 50s when the scourge of polio raced through the nation - striking at every level of society - even a future president - FDR.

Like "THE HOT ZONE" -- this is a riveting read!Highly recommended! ... Read more


113. The Man Who Changed Everything : The Life of James Clerk Maxwell
by BasilMahon
list price: $29.95
our price: $19.77
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 047086088X
Catlog: Book (2003-10-03)
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Sales Rank: 24914
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

‘Since Maxwell’s time, physical reality has been thought of as represented by continuous fields, and not capable of any mechanical interpretation. This change in the conception of reality is the most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton.’

Albert Einstein

‘He is easily, to physicists, the most magical figure of the nineteenth century.’

Times Literary Supplement ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Tribute to a Truly Great Man
The scientific accomplishments of James Clerk Maxwell are astounding! To think that he was able to accomplish so much in electromagnetism, optics, thermodynamics, etc., in so short a life boggles the mind. This biography is well done. The writing is clear and engaging. The various scientific explanations give a good indication of how Maxwell the scientist approached and solved physical problems. His charming personality and his wittiness stand out to give one a good overall impression of Maxwell the man. Notes at the end of the book provide added information on some issues discussed in the main text. Complete with an index and a bibliography, this book should be read by anyone interested in knowing more about one of the greatest, yet less known, all-time giants of the scientific world. ... Read more


114. Taking Heat : The President, the Press, and My Years in the White House
by Ari Fleischer
list price: $26.95
our price: $17.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060747625
Catlog: Book (2005-03-01)
Publisher: William Morrow
Sales Rank: 31538
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The early years of the twenty-first century were a tumultuous time in America. The country faced a hotly contested presidential election, the largest terrorist attack in the nation's history, and the early stages of war. Through it all, President George W. Bush surrounded himself with a handful of close advisers. During this time the man beside the President was Ari Fleischer, his press secretary and one of his most trusted confidants. In this role, Fleisher was present for every decision and became an eyewitness to history.

In this riveting account, Fleischer goes behind the scenes as he recalls his experiences in the West Wing. Through the ups and downs of this time, he took the heat, fielded the questions, and brought the President's message into living rooms around the world.

In Taking Heat, Fleischer, for the first time, gives his perspective on:

  • The 2000 election, from the recounts to the transition to power
  • September 11, 2001, its aftermath, and the anthrax scare
  • The pressure-filled buildup to the war in Iraq and the President's thoughts as the war began
  • Life in the White House, from learning to adjust to the pace of the West Wing and his early briefings to his relationship with the press
  • The White House press corps, who they are, and how they report the news
  • The factors that led to his decision to leave Washington behind.

This is the story of the men and women of the White House press corps and the cornerstones of democracy: freedom of speech and the freedom of the press. Fleischer presents an in-depth, insider's view on the Washington political arena from a perspective few have seen.

Fleischer writes of his belief that the press has a bias in Washington. It's not a question of partisanship or press-driven ideology. Instead, it's a focus on conflict, particularly if it's a conflict they can attach to the President. It's the nature of the White House press corps, regardless of who's in power. The members of the White House press corps are masters at being devil's advocate, able to take with passion the opposite side of whatever issue the President supports. Fleischer's job was to calmly field their questions, no matter how pointed.

Taking Heat is an introspective exploration of the top political events in the first half of the Bush administration, as well as the candid observations of a professional who stood in the bright lights of the world stage.

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Reviews (21)

1-0 out of 5 stars You Can Take the Spinner out of the WH, But He Still Spins
The book was a huge disappointment. I'd suggest that it was ghost written by Karl Rove, but Rove would surely be craftier about his unadulterated Bush-envy. Rather than insight and introspection, the book's main purpose seems to be to dismiss criticism of Bushand then explain it away with syrupy words of praise for the author's former boss.

The chapter about the day of September 11th, should have been the most insightful and telling about what happened at the epicenter of power...instead it was spiced with explanations of why President Bush sat reading My Pet Goat, while America was under attack..."Under inconceivable pressure, Bush maintained his composure and sent an image of calm to the nation." (page 140). - I'm not making this stuff up. That was a direct quote from the book explaining Bush's deer-in-the-headlights look that we've all seen as he was reading to the kids in Florida.

I was looking forward to reading this book and again, it was just a disappointment. Maybe Fleischer is hoping to run for office or needs to ingratiate himself even more in certain circles.Or maybe he really believes what he wrote, but to me the book is just nonsense. Sorry. Two thumbs (or maybe 'goat paws') way down.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent insights on the pressures of the media
Ari Fleischer was the White House Press Secretary for 2 1/2 years (January 2001 to July 2003) and now writes to tell about his experiences. Ari does a great job giving us a sense what the daily pressures were like, facing the media day after day. The point Ari makes time and again is that the media try to trick him into saying things he doesn't mean or aren't accurate, trying to stir up conflict, because "without conflict, there is no news".

One of the other points Ari focuses on is how slanted the 'mainstream' media are towards the Democratic viewpoint, and I couldn't agree more. I mean, how believable is CBS, NBC, ABC, the Washington Post and the New York Times (just to name those as an example) when you realize that 90 percent or so (as found when surveyed) of those journalists vote Democratic...

Ari tells great inside stories such as what it really was to be with the President when 9/11 happened. Missing, though, is more insight into Ari's background growing up (he describes his Democratic upbringing until he became a Republican shortly after finishing college in a mere couple of pages). Hilarious are his tellings about Helen Thomas, the notorious "dean" of the White House press and self-admitted anti-Bush all the way. Turns out that Ari actually has a lot of respect for her and a great personal relationship outside of the media spotlight.

I had the pleasure of hearing Ari give a presentation last Fall here in Cincinnati, and was really impressed with the man. That was before this book came out, and having read his book, I am even more impressed with him. This is a terrific book, and I highly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Well written account of the media covering important events
The job of being Press Secretary for the President of the United States is complex and it essential for both the Presidency and the Public that the person holding that position perform the duties of that office well.Ari Fleischer did a great job during very difficult times.He was there in the 2000 campaign and recount, when the new Bush administration took office, during the intense national sorrow and anger surrounding 9/11, the launch of the War on Terror in Afghanistan, and its continuance in Iraq.No wonder he felt burned out and wanted to leave before the 2004 campaign began in earnest.After all, he had a new wife and they wanted to begin a family.I think he did a great job and made a good choice to leave when he did.

What is particularly interesting about this book is that the events it describes are still fresh in our memory.Nearly all of us experience these events through the media of television, newspapers, weekly magazines, opinion journals, and so on.Here, Mr. Fleischer provides his perspective on these events from the inside versus how the media reported the events.The contrast is illuminating.He does debunk some of the popular myths about these events and makes clear what was really said by President Bush and the administration.He is also very clear that the Administration's certainty over the Weapons of Mass Destruction was held by everyone around the world, but was wrong.

He also has several amusing anecdotes about interactions with this or that reporter over various events.Sometimes he gets off the witty line and other times he is the butt of the joke.He was serious about doing his job well, but under such serious circumstances humor was required to keep things approximately sane.

While some who hate the Bush administration have taken after this book, largely without reading it, I can tell you that I have read it.This book is written engagingly and provides a fresh perspective on recent events that are now becoming a part of history.It is important to get a deeper understanding of our time than the varying and often contradictory news reports.Historians, especially those covering politics and media, will consult various sources for these events to write their books, and I am sure one of them will be "Taking Heat" by Ari Fleischer.

Good job.

5-0 out of 5 stars There is much to learn from this book.
Notice the trend in how people who gave this book 1 star use a whole mess of generalities in their reviews or bash Fleischer's writing skills. He only claims to be a man with a story to tell here, people, never does he claim to be any more of an author than you or me. You can take comfort in the fact that those reviewers are wrong about that also, as Fleischer stays clear and cogent throughout.

1. If you actually read the book, you find that he does explain many of the controversial issues of GWB's term in great detail. He shows where there were misunderstandings, and usually lays out step by step how that came to be from the White House's perspective.

2. To the person who posted the Helen Thomas review of the book: You might have remembered that Helen Thomas was a senior member of the press corps who showed her steadfast bias in the briefing room with evermore persistant and leading questions. That is, again, had you actually read the book.

And if you want to see her ignorance in action:

MR. FLEISCHER: Actually, the President has made it very clear that he has not dispute with the people of Iraq. That's why the American policy remains a policy of regime change. There is no question the people of Iraq --

MS. THOMAS: That's a decision for them to make, isn't it? It's their country.

MR. FLEISCHER: Helen, if you think that the people of Iraq are in a position to dictate who their dictator is, I don't think that has been what history has shown.

MS. THOMAS: I think many countries don't have -- people don't have the decision -- INCLUDING US.

Bias, in favor of conflict. That is what plagues our media. Fleischer saw it and confronted it on a daily basis. That is what this book is about.

1-0 out of 5 stars A Lost Opportunity
I read this book hoping to get some insight as to what happened in the first Bush Administration and the way the White House sold the war in Iraq. Instead Ari Fleischer, a man so close to these events, comes across as a Bush loyalist who supports and justifies Bush's policies.It was a waste of time and a lost opportunity to give us some insight and help give us some historical information and honest reflection.

There is no discussion of how they used the press to manipulate the public and sell the war. For example, he claims the President was careful never to link Iraq with 9/11. But he never addresses why 70% of the American people in 2003 believed otherwise. How did that happen?

After leaving the White House, he is still spinning the President's position and blaming the liberal media. Too Bad....

... Read more


115. The Operator : David Geffen Builds, Buys, and Sells the New Hollywood
by Tom King
list price: $25.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679457542
Catlog: Book (2000-03-07)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 298868
Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars
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DreamWorks cofounder David Geffen, as portrayed by Wall Street Journal reporter Tom King, is in various ways a saint, a visionary, and an absolute maniac. In his saintly mode, Geffen both raises and gives record-breaking sums of money to AIDS foundations, advises and supports the President and progressive causes, and races to visit old friends stricken with grief or illness (even the washed-up agent Sue Mengers, whose friendship could do him no earthly good).

As a visionary in the music, movie, and Broadway theater industries, Geffen orchestrates the sale of his record companies, which made him a billionaire, and brings you Laura Nyro; Cats; Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young; Tom Cruise; the Eagles; Nirvana; Bob Dylan; John Lennon; Guns N' Roses; Saving Private Ryan; and Joni Mitchell (who immortalized his deepest yearnings in her tune "Free Man in Paris").

But the most impressive and detailed portion of King's landmark biography is Geffen's performance as an entertainment entrepreneur, and in this capacity he is apparently a visionary and a maniac at the same time. Not only does he discover all manner of talents and works of art and hire the best hit-sniffers in the business, he also masters the fine Hollywood art of the Machiavellian tantrum. Geffen allegedly softens up his prey in a business deal by offering up disarming gossip about his own life--his traumatic courtship of Cher, or Marlo Thomas, perhaps, or the male prostitute he is said to have boasted about being in bed with the night John Lennon was shot. At some point, minutes or decades into an apparent friendship, Geffen is shown betraying anyone, even best friends and mentors, in his relentless quest for winning a deal. King's book provides a ringside seat; it's fascinating to watch Tinseltown's titans slug it out in championship bouts, maneuvering, lying, reuniting, and seizing power like crazed Renaissance princes.

In one memorable encounter, Geffen protests that Sid Sheinberg of MCA is displeasing his DreamWorks colleague, Steven Spielberg. "David, stop screaming," says Sheinberg. "I'm not screaming!" Geffen screams. "David, you know what would make me happy?" says Speilberg. "Stop screaming." It turns out that Geffen doesn't even know the details of the deal in question. But nobody knows how to strike a deal--with mind and maniacal heart--like David Geffen. --Tim Appelo ... Read more

Reviews (50)

2-0 out of 5 stars more like a melodramatic laundry list and less like a novel
I work in Hollywood and when this book came out, word on the street was that Tom King had published a well-researched, well-written, no-holds-barred and blistering account of David Geffen's life and work. Now that I've read this 600-plus-page monster, I'll go along with the well researched and call it a day. Maybe I've worked around too many moguls for too long, but I didn't find anything in here that I found particularly shocking, much less revelatory. I don't doubt the veracity of anything King has written (especially re: Geffen's own childish behavior - his tantrum over this innocuous publication bears that out), but even with Geffen's amazing achievements I closed the book wondering what the hell had made me pick it up in the first place. Geffen's world certainly contains the time-tested elements of a fascinating life - he started from less than nothing and now has a number of careers, fortunes and empires to his name while lacking any essential emotional connections. King has reported all of those elements faithfully, but what separates "The Operator" from great biography is the book's lack of any compelling rationale behind Geffen's behavior. Of course, even the most megalomaniac among us (another title for which Geffen certainly qualifies) don't live our lives thinking about what it's all going to look like when some enterprising reporter commits several years of his life to putting it down on paper. However, if you are that reporter, you had better be able to find the essential threads that knit together the disparate elements - otherwise, you have something that reads more like a melodramatic laundry list and less like a novel (something that my favorite bios, like George Plimpton and Jean Stein's "Edie," certainly resemble). A much better read is David O. Selznick's "Memo From Selznick" - a book that is exactly what it sounds like and yet is still fascinating. I'm not sure if it's still in print, but it's worth the search.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mogul Mania
This is one of the better biographies around, whether or not you end up liking David Geffen (aka "the prince of pain"). It is full of great inside stories about legendary artists of the music business...Phil Spector, Dylan, the Band, Cher, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Jackson Browne, the Eagles, Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, John Lennon, George Michael, Donna Summer etc., etc. King keeps the narrative flowing, and he provides plenty of authentic detail without ever falling into the biographer's trap of being too academic. Of course Geffen is a very interesting subject...having powered his way to the very top of the entertainment business through sheer drive and cunning...and without having the "golden ear" or creative judgement of his competitors. The stories about his interaction with(and abuse of)fellow moguls like Ovitz, Eisner, Ross, and Davis were jawdropping. I found myself shaking my head at the deals he cut, for example talking Steve Ross into giving him back his music label for free after Ross had bankrolled he whole thing! But don't get the impression that The Operator is all about The Dark Side of David....in fact King balances the book nicely by reporting on the many philanthropic and other positive projects in Geffen's life. All in all, a very entertaining read, and well worth having on your shelf, especially if you're fascinated by the entertainment industry.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
This book is almost impossible to put down. Geffen's life has been truly extraoridinary and it provides an excellent story. Buy this book if you have any interest in the entertainment industry or business in general.

5-0 out of 5 stars Well Researched
I have followed David Geffen's carrer for many years. I have even written a school paper on his Record Company (Geffen Records), which I have had the pleasure of visiting. This book is very well detailed and gives a vast amount of insight and information.

2-0 out of 5 stars CHER, MARLO AND MARKY MARK ... AND QUITE THE BORE
Long before he flung open the closet door back in 1992 and declared his homosexuality, David Geffen made news. Big news. Really big news. His is the life --- from college drop-out to mailroom clerk to founder of record labels and a movie company --- that makes a biography such as the one Tom King has written so lengthy ... and often lumbering. King had access to Geffen and hundreds of people in and outside of Geffen's circle of power. This is Superman as Supermogul: Saving pal Calvin Klein from bankruptcy (it was Geffen's idea to out Marky Mark in that series of memorable underwear ads), paying for experimental surgery for dying pal Dawn Steel, wooing (and almost marrying) galpals Cher (whom King says was Geffen's "first fully-functional heterosexual relationship") and Marlo Thomas to finally settling boy with assorted boytoys, unselfishly donating some of his $3 billion to fight AIDS. So many details, so little substance. This is a meticulously researched, though ultimately superficial, look at the bravo and bullying, the temper and talent that have made David Geffen the builder, buyer and seller of the New Hollywood. ... Read more


116. Edward Teller : The Real Dr. Strangelove
by Peter Goodchild
list price: $29.95
our price: $19.77
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0674016696
Catlog: Book (2004-10-29)
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Sales Rank: 43902
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Book Description

One Nobel Prize-winning physicist called Edward Teller, "A great man of vast imagination...[one of the] most thoughtful statesmen of science." Another called him, "A danger to all that is important...It would have been a better world without [him]." That both opinions about Teller were commonly held and equally true is one of the enduring mysteries about the man dubbed "the father of the H-bomb." In the story of Teller's life and career, told here in greater depth and detail than ever before, Peter Goodchild unravels the complex web of harsh early experiences, character flaws, and personal and professional frustrations that lay behind the paradox of "the real Dr. Strangelove."

Goodchild's biography draws on interviews with more than fifty of Teller's colleagues and friends. Their voices echo through the book, expressing admiration and contempt, affection and hatred, as we observe Teller's involvement in every stage of building the atomic bomb, and his subsequent pursuit of causes that drew the world deeper into the Cold War--alienating many of his scientific colleagues even as he provided the intellectual lead for politicians, the military, and presidents as they shaped Western policy. Goodchild interviewed Teller himself at the end of his life, and what emerges from this interview, as well as from Teller's Memoirs and recently unearthed correspondence, is a clearer view of the contradictions and controversies that riddled the man's life. Most of all, though, this absorbing biography rescues Edward Teller from the caricatures that have served to describe him until now. In their place, Goodchild shows us one of the most powerful scientists of the twentieth century in all his enigmatic humanity.

... Read more

117. Boyd : The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War
by Robert Coram
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316796883
Catlog: Book (2004-05-10)
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Sales Rank: 13236
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars A remarkable American!
This is a remarkable book about a remarkable American. I normally gravitate to science fiction, but this book caught my eye. I'm glad it did. If you've read Sun Tzu and appreciate the impact he's had on warfare over the past 2,000+ years, then the amazing contributions of John Boyd to the science of warfare cannot be understated. He literally changed the world. I highly recommend this book! It should be made into a movie.

5-0 out of 5 stars Boyd Mandatory Reading for Anyone Interested in Military
Coram treatment of Colonel John Boyd's autobiography is a thorough treatment of his work, his career, his accomplishments, and his family. He was a warrior, thinker, honest, sincere, and nasty to the bone man who cared about the MISSION beyond all else. This led him to develop original ideas and fight the Pentagon establishment with such vicious abandon that it limited his career and took a toll on his disciples and family.

Boyd is the common thread that connects development of Energy-Maneuver theory of fighter performance, the F-15, F-16, F-18, Operation Bolo in the Viet Nam air war, the B-1 cancellation by Carter, the testing of the Bradley fighting vehicle (famous from "Pentagon Wars"), the OODA Loop in military command, maneuver warfare/the Desert Storm ops plan, and who knows what else.

How could someone influence so much and you never heard about him you ask? Its because John Boyd had the tact of an nuclear weapon, a propensity for pissing off general officers (service didn't matter), called major contractors liars (which was often true), and generally tore up the Pentagon and Wright-Patterson (the Air Force aircraft purchaser) for 20 years! For every man who admires Boyd, there are ten who hate him! The Air Force, Army, and Navy refuse to acknowledge any but his technical accomplishments; the Marine Corps lionizes him (it will make sense once you read the book). Boyd said you can "be it" or "do it", military careers rarely permit both. If you are of the latter ilk, then read "Boyd"! ... Read more


118. Ulysses S. Grant : Memoirs and Selected Letters : Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant / Selected Letters, 1839-1865 (Library of America)
by Ulysses S. Grant, Mary Drake McFeeley, William S. McFeeley
list price: $35.00
our price: $23.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0940450585
Catlog: Book (1990-09-01)
Publisher: Library of America
Sales Rank: 15486
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Grant wrote his "Personal Memoirs" to secure his family's future. In doing so, the Civil War's greatest general won himself a unique place in American letters. His character, sense of purpose, and simple compassion are evident throughout this deeply moving account, as well as in the letters to his wife, Julia, included here. ... Read more

Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars US Grant--in his own words
The story of Ulysses Simpson Grant is a tale about a man who rises from obscurity to become one of the most important men of the nineteenth century. Many men saw Grant, as general-in-chief of the Union armies during the late Civil War, as the savior of the nation. He was elected to two terms as President, and enjoyed such immense popularity that he was lavished with praise and gifts around the globe when he traveled the world. But Grant's origins were humble. He was the son of a tanner. As a young man he failed at nearly everything he did, and had a reputation, while stationed with the army in California, of being a drunk. Grant seemed the antithesis of greatness; yet somehow he rose to become one of the most prominent men in the United States during the Civil War.

Who better to tell Grant's story than himself? His memoirs are somewhat self-serving, and Grant does not hesitate to point out the flaws of others. All too often he reminds his reader that, had things been done his way, disasters would have been avoided and everything would have been all right. There is some reason for his ego, however. Grant had a lot of critics, and was treated unfairly by many from the beginning. When his army was surprised at Shiloh, people said he was drunk. When he stalled outside of Vicksburg, they blamed it one the bottle. Grant's name was connected by some scandal or other through most of his Civil War career (as well as during his presidency). If he seeks to right some wrongs and, in the process, comes across as a little full of himself in his memoirs, who can blame him?

Grant gives great descriptions of many battles and campaigns, but sparse accounts of others. He avoids sensitive subjects (like the bottle, for example), and does tend to focus on what he did RIGHT rather than what he did WRONG. Despite these inconsistencies, however, Grant's memoirs are a great read. Grant tells his side of the story, and the result is a very entertaining read. Grant's style is engaging, and while not focusing too much on exact figures (Sherman's memoirs are much better for that), he manages to convey to the reader the most important aspects of each major action in which he was involved. Grant may not have been the best general in the war, but he was certainly the right man for the job. Read these memoirs for a look inside the complex mind of the man who took on Robert E. Lee--and actually won.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best book ever by a US President
Granted (sic) that there are few serious rivals(Jefferson's "Notes on the State of Virginia" and Eisenhower's "Crusade in Europe" come to mind but don't measure up), this is a remarkable literary achievement by an "uncommon common man." Not only is it an indispensible, if not flawless, narrative of the cataclysmic events of the Civil War, the circumstances under which he wrote make its very creation a triumph of will and ability.

As historian Brooks Simpson has noted, Grant's character was so complete that nobody could believe he was real. But he was, and the proof is in this book, which contains not only the "Personal Memoirs" but many invaluable letters revealing the man as well as the general. Though this edition lacks an introduction and other scholarly apparatus to enhance its value, the sheer scope of Grant's writings available here probably make it the best current presentation of his unparalleled view of the war. Also, the early chapters on the Mexican-American War (which he detested) are most enlightening in showing some of the sources of his future greatness.

There were two great tragedies of Grant's public life. First, American Indians and African Americans suffered greatly while he was president, and it was a shame that he didn't (couldn't?) do more on their behalf. But in fairness, could/would anyone else have done better? Probably not. The earlier tragedy was that he was prevented from winning the Civil War early on, by the jealous ambition of rival generals and the circumspect nature of Union strategy. Unfortunately, the impediments that led to the slaughter at Shiloh ensured that that battle would set the tone for the rest of the conflict. If Grant had been given free rein in 1862, several hundred thousand lives would have been saved---but without the abolition of slavery and Reconstruction, there would have been a different tragedy.

General Grant made some grievous tactical errors during the war, but was able to learn from his mistakes. It's quite misleading to think of him as a heavy-handed butcher who prevailed by grinding down opponents no matter how many men he lost. By 1864 that may have been the only way to defeat Robert E. Lee. But Grant's victories before then were consistently marked by speed, boldness and strategic brilliance whenever he was permitted to act independently, as well as great sensitivity to carnage and death. Has any general ever been better at capturing enemy armies (and thus sparing lives), rather than bloodily smashing them? Perhaps the best way to compare Lee and Grant is to see the former as the last great general of the 18th century, while the latter was the first great one of the 20th century. (A.L. Conger, "Rise of U.S. Grant" helped begin the revival of his reputation; J.F.C. Fuller, "Grant & Lee" is a well-balanced comparison.) But the "Memoirs" document---with artless modesty---Grant's consummate skill at maneuver well before he introduced modern total war. They also contain the classic passage about Appomattox, wherein Grant summarized the entire war in one immortal sentence: "I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse" (p.735).

Grant's great skill at turning a phrase, along with shrewd insights and dry humor, is well-displayed throughout the "Memoirs" and letters. It's true that there are some inaccuracies, because while he did have access to important documents when writing, his race against death resulted in some errors due to haste, and some inevitably faulty interpretations. But the book's reputation for unreliability is mostly unfounded. Ultimately, it is Grant's story, not a history of the war. It is not a complete autobiography, however, since most post-1865 events are not covered. A favorite image (described elsewhere) comes from Grant's post-retirement world travels, when 20,000 English workingmen turned out to march in his honor, honoring him as the general of freedom who vanquished the armies of slavery. He did not save everyone, but along with Lincoln, he saved his country. Enough said.

5-0 out of 5 stars Read This
Whatever history has to say about US Grant, the president, there's a reason why his NYC memorial was the most visited American landmark until the Washington Momument was completed. It should fool no one that Grant's memoirs, written under financial pressure, and completed only days before throat cancer killed him, have become part of the American canon. If you've ever seen those upright potraits of this man, his frill-less diction and clarity will not surprise. Despite hailing from another time, this is a remarkably quick read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Get this edition for the letters
Grant's memoirs are the greatest books in American literature. Gore Vidal, Gertrude Stein and other literary figures have acknowledged their preeminence. Even if you know or care nothing about the American Civil War, these books are essential reading for any educated person. Grant wrote simply, yet beautifully, and he was dying in agony of throat cancer when he penned these books. The story of the writing of the Memoirs is one of the most amazing and courageous tales in American history. Imagine racing against death to complete an epic story, the proceeds of which would provide for his family after his death. What an amazing man!

This edition of Grant's memoirs is wonderful because the appendix contains several hundred letters he wrote over the years. Most of these missives were written to his wife, Julia, and they shed an enormous light upon this shy man's character. Grant's letters show him to have been a tremendously gentle, decent man, with a great sense of humor and profound love in his heart for his wife and family.

This is an excellent edition, which will bring to you only one of the greatest books written in the English language, but also a selection of Grant's letters. Both make for engrossing, gripping reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars An American's Autobiography
Grant's Personal Memoirs and Selected Letters 1839-1865 Library of America Edition

This is one of the most important books written an American. There is something huge and seething about these memoirs. To be sure it is not from the cool tone; Grant was old fashioned in that way, and these are not confidential memoirs. This is the story about a down at the heels middle-aged man working as a clerk in Galena, Illinios shop when the Civil War started and how that man would become the nation's first four star general. But don't think of this as a success story in the ordinary sense. This lucid and clear story is one not of a man's success but of a nation's torment. Throughout the book Grant goes out of his way to praise his subordinates for his successes. Grant's modesty however does not obscure or hide his ability. There are many reasons why Grant was the best general of the Civil War, but one that is often overlooked is that Grant wrote the best orders. We know from others that he would haunch over his desk for hours writing. These orders, some of which are included in the autobiography, are models are concise and breviloquent writing. From these orders we can tell that he was involved in every element of his troop's victories and defeats. Grant gave great attention to details, and was meticulous in his preparations, and planning.

There are a number of editions of Grant's "Personal Memoirs" in print, but I am recommending the Library of America edition because it contains the Report of Lieutentant-General U. S. Grant of the Untied States Armies dated July 22, 1865 and a selection of his letters. The letters to his family are particularly valuable because they show Grant at his most personal and intimate. ... Read more


119. Spymaster: My Life In The Cia
by TED SHACKLEY, Theodore Shackley, RICHARD A. FINNEY
list price: $27.95
our price: $18.45
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Asin: 157488915X
Catlog: Book (2005-02-01)
Publisher: Brassey's Inc
Sales Rank: 596053
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120. Let Me Go
by Helga Schneider
list price: $19.00
our price: $13.30
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802714358
Catlog: Book (2004-07-30)
Publisher: Walker & Company
Sales Rank: 10194
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Book Description

Helga Schneider was four when her mother suddenly abandoned her family in Berlin in 1941. This extraordinary memoir, praised across Europe, tells of a daughter's final encounter with her mother, who had left her family to become an SS guard at Auschwitz. ... Read more


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