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1. All over but the Shoutin'
$18.48 $17.89 list($28.00)
2. The Pirates Laffite : The Treacherous
$11.20 $8.93 list($14.00)
3. Warriors Don't Cry : Searing Memoir
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4. Ecology of a Cracker Childhood
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5. The Thread That Runs So True:
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6. A Charge to Keep
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7. Bryson City Tales
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8. The Jew Store
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9. Son Of The Rough South: An Uncivil
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10. The Tennis Partner
$34.95 $14.50
11. Intimate Enemies: The Two Worlds
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12. Ava's Man
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13. Leaving Birmingham: Notes of a
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15. The Coalwood Way
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16. Bryson City Seasons: More Tales
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17. Nine Years Among the Indians,
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18. An Hour Before Daylight : Memoirs
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19. Wild Card Quilt : The Ecology
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20. Brother to a Dragonfly

1. All over but the Shoutin'
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679774025
Catlog: Book (1998-09-08)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 10981
Average Customer Review: 4.36 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

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

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

Reviews (253)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. The Pirates Laffite : The Treacherous World of the Corsairs of the Gulf
by William C. Davis
list price: $28.00
our price: $18.48
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Asin: 015100403X
Catlog: Book (2005-05-02)
Publisher: Harcourt
Sales Rank: 10567
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Jean and Pierre Laffite's lives were intertwined with the most colorful period in New Orleans' history, the era from just after the Louisiana Purchase through the War of 1812. Labeled as corsairs and buccaneers for methods that bordered on piracy, the brothers ran a privateering cooperative that provided contraband goods to a hungry market and made life hell for Spanish merchants on the Gulf. Later they became important members of a syndicate in New Orleans that included lawyers, bankers, merchants, and corrupt U.S. officials. But this allegiance didn't stop them from becoming paid Spanish spies, handing over information about the syndicate's plans and selling out their own associates.

In 1820 the Laffites disappeared into the fog of history from which they had emerged, but not before becoming folk heroes in French Louisiana and making their names synonymous with piracy and intrigue on the Gulf.
... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent double biography, full of adventure and intrigue!
In "The Pirates Laffite, the Treacherous World of the Corsairs of the Gulf," author William C. Davis presents an in-depth, thoroughly researched examination of the Laffite brothers' colorful lives, including new information about them discovered in archives of the United States and France. Davis separates the truth from romantic legend to reveal the Laffites as complex men adept at turning opportunities toward their advantage while skirting the edges of the law in the polyglot world of early 1800s New Orleans and the Gulf.
Written in an entertaining, chronological narrative style, this double biography is the most completely documented work ever written about Jean and Pierre Laffite. Most people are familiar with the legend of Jean Laffite and Galveston, or Jean Laffite and the Battle of New Orleans, but Jean's elder half-brother, Pierre, has received scant attention from previous historians and other writers. In "The Pirates Laffite," Davis aptly relates how Pierre was the mastermind of the Laffite brothers' operations, and that the brothers worked closely together for most of their lives, including the Galveston period.
Their true story, based on archival documents, letters and contemporary newspapers, paints a compelling portrait of enigmatic men on the edge of the new frontier of the Louisiana Purchase, seeking to make their mark on the world.
This book also sensitively tells the fascinating story of the Laffite's free black mistresses and children, carefully recorded from information in baptismal records, notarial archives, and other surviving documents. The women were involved in the then prevalent system of placage with the Laffites as their protectors.
"The Pirates Laffite" engages the reader magnificently, and even the sometimes lengthy footnotes are absorbing to read. A large book at 720 pages (with footnotes and index), it is a brilliant work about the Laffites' lives by a highly skilled historian. Davis, Director of Programs for the Civil War Center at Virginia Tech, is most well known for his numerous books about the Civil War. This finely polished double biography shows he is equally at home with the early national period of the southern United States and its people.
... Read more

3. Warriors Don't Cry : Searing Memoir of Battle to Integrate Little Rock
by Melba Patillo Beals
list price: $14.00
our price: $11.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0671866397
Catlog: Book (1995-02-01)
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Sales Rank: 22028
Average Customer Review: 4.61 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

You've gotta learn to defend yourself. Never let your enemy know what you are feeling.
-- The soldier assigned to protect Melba

Please, God, let me learn how to stop being a warrior. Sometimes I just need to be a girl.
-- Melba's diary, on her sixteenth birthday

In 1957 Melba Pattillo turned sixteen. That was also the year she became a warrior on the front lines of a civil rights firestorm. Following the landmark 1954 Supreme Court ruling, Brown v. Board Education, she was one of nine teenagers chosen to integrate Little Rock's Central High School. This is her remarkable story.

You will listen to the cruel taunts of her schoolmates and their parents. You will run with her from the threat of a lynch mob's rope. You will share her terror as she dodges lighted sticks of dynamite, and her pain as she washes away the acid sprayed into her eyes. But most of all you will share Melba's dignity and courage as she refuses to back down. ... Read more

Reviews (92)

4-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Marvelous
Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals is an outstanding novel. She conveys a depressing story about the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. The personal experience she includes about the harsh treatment she, as well as eight other African American students, endures are heart-shattering. She greatly portrays the effects of the war of integration and her combat to survive. The well written novel was completely breathtaking. Once I started reading the book it was hard to put down. Every page was a new war she faced on the battlefield inside of Central High. The concrete details she uses made me feel as if I, myself, was a warrior in Central High who had to face the same uncontrollable mobs in order to get educated. Her continual battles to escape the hostilities thrown at her by other students were awe-inspiring. Her struggle through life will touch you deeply and provide you with a better understanding of your life. Melba Pattillo Beals is an extremely honorable person, and every person, whether young or old, should read her novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Book About Integration
I think Warriors Don't Cry is a great book for many reasons. First of all this book has inspired me to stay strong and go for what I want to achieve. Everyday for a year Melba Patillo Beals and the other students who decided to integrate into a white high school in Little Rock, Arkansas had to face horrible people who torched them both physically and mentally. The black students would have to walk through the hallways with people shouting races comments, eggs thrown at them, people spitting on them and much more. This book has opened my eyes to how the world is not perfect and how horrible integration was like in the mid 1900's.
Second, I thought the reading level of this book was good for eighth graders and up. The book was easy to understand yet it is very informational to one who does not know much about the days of integration. For instance I did not know much about the violence or racism during the time of integration until I read the book.
Third, the author had also kept my attention throughout the entire book. Each incident the author told about was never dragged on too long. There was always a point to Melba's story as well. The author also used many universal techniques in the book to bring out the characters or to help describe a situation. The book kept my attention by having more than one thought about people, such as the book was not only just about the cruel southerners at the time, but it was also about how one white boy opened up to Melba and tried to help her out as much as he could.
The last thing about the book that I liked was how the author brought everything together at the end of the book. The book was about Melbas life during her years as an adolescent. However, the book was published years after the integration had taken place. The book was well planned by having the events be in chronological order. There was also one chapter at the end of the book that did a great job at summarizing what Melba has done since the last day she had attended the high school in Little Rock, Arkansas.

3-0 out of 5 stars Book Review
A girl named Melba had been wanting to go to Central High, an all white public school. She was not allowed to go there because of her being colored, since the high school does not integrat. The time frame was 1957 in which segregation between colors are highly supported. Little Rock, Arkansas is the name of the place where this occurred. Even the governor of arkansas opposed the order that was given. It took a while for her and her eight other friends to get into Central High because a crowd of angry segregationist does not want to integrate.

One of the things that I liked about the book is that it did happen and it is real. something that i disliked is that it gets boring. The author spoke of too much details and kept talking about how frustrated everyone is over and over again. The author did not complete some details that I myself cannot imagine the she is describing.

Another reason why I disliked the story is that it skips through from one thing to another. Sometimes it even sticks on one topic and skips to somthing i don't even have a clue what it is talking about. One other thing that I disliked is that I know it is a true story, but how it is told it is like it did not even happen because it is easy not to believe because it does not converse to the prospects of some readers like me.

5-0 out of 5 stars Inspiration and Faith
This book is about Melba Pattillo Beals one of the nine teenagers who got choosen to integrate Little Rock's Central High School. She shares her experience as she walks though the halls of the all white school.From the taunting to the mobs to being escorted to class by the 101st Airborne she tells it all it's like your actually there. But through the struggle her family and friends was always there. This is a great reader because it explain alot about segregation and how not giving isn't the answer even if it's a struggle because "Warriors Don't Cry"

5-0 out of 5 stars They were literally warriors on the battlefield
Warriors Don't Cry is the moving story of the nine Black teenagers who dared
to integrate Central High School. The story is told by one of the
teenagers, Melba Pattillo.

Ms. Pattillo begins the story in 1954 when the Supreme Court of the United
States in Brown v. the Board of Education held that separate but equal
schools were inherently unequal and ordered school districts to desegregate
with all deliberate speed. She recalls that white people in Little Rock
were outraged and while walking home on the date the decision was handed
down an angry white man attempted to rape a 12 year old Melba. Such a
chilling response to the order to integrate is an eerie prelude to the
ordeal Melba and the eight others endured in their effort to integrate
Central High School.

Following Brown the Little Rock School District came up with a plan to
integrate which limited integration to Central High School and delayed the
process of integration until September 1957. Arkansas Governor Faubus came
out against any type of integration and when it came time for Melba and the
others to integrate Central in September 1957, Governor Faubus sent out the
Arkansas National Guard and the Arkansas State Troopers to block the
students from entering. President Eisenhower in turn sent the United States
National Guard to Central High School to enforce the order of the Court.
This crisis of federalism was another interesting story line in the book
chocked full with drama.

Once inside the school with the assistance of the federal National Guard,
the treatment the Black students received was disgusting, unbelievable and
heartbreaking. I literally burst out crying at on several occasions while
reading what some people inflicted upon others just because of the color of
their skin. The students were stabbed, pushed down stairs, slapped,
punched, called every kind of vile name imaginable, and sprayed with urine,
acid and ink to name just a few of the indignities, while most if not all
administrators and teachers did nothing to halt the depraved behavior of the
students. The students were also subject to distain from people in their
own community for attempting to integrate because of the repercussions felt
by all members of the Black community. Jobs were lost, and people were
beaten and shot just because they were Black and the white people in Little
Rock did not want integration.

The courage of these nine students is inspiring and their faith never
wavered. They were literally warriors on the battlefield; fighting for
their lives and their education inside the walls of Central High School.
This is a must read for everyone. Learning or relearning this history will
give you a greater appreciation of the importance of education, give you a
greater desire to seek your own education and/or encourage your children to
take advantage of every available educational opportunity. ... Read more

4. Ecology of a Cracker Childhood
by Janisse Ray
list price: $14.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1571312471
Catlog: Book (2000-09-01)
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Sales Rank: 14999
Average Customer Review: 4.62 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Janisse Ray grew up in a junkyard along U.S. Highway 1, hidden from Florida-bound vacationers by the hedge at the edge of the road and by hulks of old cars and stacks of blown-out tires. Ecology of a Cracker Childhood tells how a childhood spent in rural isolation and steeped in religious fundamentalism grew into a passion to save the almost vanished longleaf pine ecosystem that once covered the South. In language at once colloquial, elegiac, and informative, Ray redeems two Souths. "Suffused with the same history-haunted sense of loss that imprints so much of the South and its literature. What sets Ecology of a Cracker Childhood apart is the ambitious and arresting mission implied in its title. . . . Heartfelt and refreshing." - The New York Times Book Review. ... Read more

Reviews (29)

5-0 out of 5 stars astounding, evocative and transcendent memoir
Oooooooo-eeee. I cannot tell you the number of times you will pause while reading this extraordinarily sensitive and profoundly moving life-story. Some of your pauses will feature your face wreathed in smiles, for Janisse Ray's "Ecology of a Cracker Childhood" is a celebration of both place and family, and her finely-delineated family sketches and gloriously-rendered anecdotes and teeming with respect and affection for her family. Other pauses will find you, I am sure, hands on knees, weeping. For there is great pain in this book as well...the pain of a place that is gradually disappearing, the pain of understanding your place in that place, the pain of coming to grips with the flaws of your heritage.

One reviewer, Wes Jackson, said, "Janisse Ray is a role model for countless future rural writers to come." I believe that he understates Ms. Ray's importance. To tell the truth, she is a role model, plain and simple. It is my hope that this stirring memoir will vault her into our nation's consciousness and conscience. This daughter of a Cracker junkyard owner has a significant message to tell us, and her language is simply remarkable. Her verbal imagery is astounding; her precise descriptions -- of humans, flora and fauna -- are models of elegance.

I am willing to bet that there are more than a few readers who could only imagine the possible union of Ms. Ray and Rick Bragg ("All Over but the Shoutin'"). These two white Southerners have much to teach us about family, conscience, commitments and reverence of place.

"Ecology of a Cracker Childhood" will emerge as one of our century's most important works. Be glad to have read it when it first came out.

5-0 out of 5 stars Into the Woods, Out of the Junkyard
I originally read Janisse Ray's memoirs and essay collection, "Ecology of a Cracker Childhood", for a class in college. To be honest, I hated it at first and told two of my classmates that if Janisse was so conscious of the environment, then why had the trees died to print this book. I ate those words before I was half way through. Janisse Ray has an immaculate voice and breathtaking experiences to share with us about her childhood, spent living with her family in a junkyard.

The book alternates each chapter between memoirs and essays on the natural forests of Georgia. My preference was on Ray's childhood - where she describes in rich detail about the family bonds that arise out of poverty. There is a certain mystical fantasy about her childhood playgrounds, as she talks about being in a family with money prolbems and numerous mouths to feed. Ray exposes the dark sides of her father's religious fanaticism and mental instability. These stories are honest and refrain from sentimentality. Ray tells talks about her life with simple facts and observations. We experience with her a full view of her introducing a college boyfriend to the wreckage that has been transformed into a home.

"Ecology of a Crack Childhood" is a powerful read that everyone should have the opportunity to experience. I, myself, have spent most of my life growing up in cities, but at least now I have a taste of what the rural world has to offer.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good blend of characters, critters, and trees
With "Ecology of a Cracker Childhood," Janisse Ray has reminded me of what it was like to grow up in South Georgia. Being from south of Hazlehurst, I know our childhood homes were less than 15 miles apart. But her junkyard near Baxley was a far different experience from my life on the farm. Still, I know what it's like to fall in love with trees and want to preserve them. And all those characters she had to put up with, I know them too -- or people much like them. Readers of Amy Blackmarr, another South Georgia writer who lives closely with nature, will love reading Janisse Ray, whose greatest thrill about the forest is "how the pine trees sing...This music cannot be heard anywhere else on the earth." Indeed, it can't.

5-0 out of 5 stars The landscape of our heritage
Janisse Ray has written a wildly interesting tale of her upbringing in rural Georgia. But probably the more vital part of this book is its backdrop: the disappearing long-leaf pine forests of South Georgia. Does America really need another tale of its eroding ecology? Absolutely. The remnants of once-great natural wonders do not stand a chance of survival in the modern age of mass consumption unless its story is told, again and again, and we can only be so lucky if someone with the wit and wisdom of Ms. Ray tells it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Growing up in the longleaf pine forest
Ray has written an interesting mix of memoir and nature book in Ecology of a Cracker Childhood. She shows us growing up in the 60's and 70's in the rural, poor southeast corner of Georgia, where amongst a rolling junkyard of old machines, and surrounded by a vast array of characters, she and her family eked out a simple, and relatively comfortable existence. What helps make this book unique is the positive ness of it - Ray is not telling stories looking back and showing why she left the area when she could. Nor is she breaking our hearts with stories of hardship, violence or innocence lost that so many stories of poor country upbringing. Instead, it is a collection of wry and emotional stories of her life, interspersed with stories about the beloved longleaf pine forest. Surprising this alternating flows naturally, and is not as jarring as one would expect. In fact, her passion for the forest intertwines with her passion for life, and for her family. The essential conflict of the biography does not involve her really, it involves the forest's fight to survive in the face of cutting and tree farming, and the encroachment of civilization. A fine book with a point that does not hit you over the head with this message. Rather she beautifully entwines growing up with growing up with nature. It's a shame if we let her world disappear. An excellent and enjoyable read. ... Read more

5. The Thread That Runs So True: A Mountain School Teacher Tells His Story
by Jesse Stuart
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0684719045
Catlog: Book (1950-01-01)
Publisher: Touchstone
Sales Rank: 31307
Average Customer Review: 4.55 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

First published in 1949, Jesse Stuart's now classic personal account of his twenty years of teaching in the mountain region of Kentucky has enchanted and inspired generations of students and teachers. With eloquence and wit, Stuart traces his twenty-year career in education, which began, when he was only seventeen years old, with teaching grades one through eight in a one-room schoolhouse. Before long Stuart was on a path that made him principal and finally superintendent of city and county schools. The road was not smooth, however, and Stuart faced many challenges, from students who were considerably older -- and bigger -- than he to well-meaning but distrustful parents, uncooperative administrators and, most daunting, his own fear of failure. Through it all, Stuart never lost his abiding faith in the power of education. A graceful ode to what he considered the greatest profession there is, Jesse Stuart's The Thread That Runs So True is timeless proof that "good teaching is forever and the teacher is immortal." ... Read more

Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Thread That Runs So True
The book was first copyrighted in 1949. The author, Jesse Stuart starts out as a teacher in a rural Kentucky school house. His sister was not able to finish the school year because of some bullies. Jesse, even though he was not of age, was determined to teach in that community. He did and proved himself by fist fighting the school bully in order to get respect from the bully. Jesse soon became principal and then went on to be superintendent of schools. The book weaves the struggles of educators with trustees and boards. Some with little education were controlling the teachers. Read the book to find out what it was that makes the thread that runs so true.

5-0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable Autobiography
The Thread That Runs So True was a marvelously written autobiography with much meaning. Jesse Stuart wonderfully depicted his life as a school teacher. Somewhat near the beginning of the book, the written meaning of the title is revealed when Stuart is singing a song containing the words. The thread that runs so true is play, which is emphasized throughout the book. Yet, there is a more meaningful lesson taught. Contextually, it is evident that the thread is also the teaching profession itself. Stuart's thread would most likely be the country life. After being a successful teacher and administrator, traveling abroad, and numerous other ventures, he returns to his Kentucky home and farms sheep. This is fantastic for almost any audience, students, teachers, and those who were once either or both. It is filled with unbelievable experiences from Stuart physically fighting his students to him being shot at for dating a particular lady. In the case of good fiction, you must remind yourself that the events didn't actually happen. In reading this book, I learned that with the most interesting non-fiction, you must realize that the events actually did occur.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Book
This is the autobiography of a school teacher in Northern Kentucky, he comes across different obstacles some of those 2 churchs that have divided the county almost like opposing armies, violent students and many other problems. Be he still runs a successful country school.

"The Needles Eye That Does Supply'
"The Thread That Runs So True!"

4-0 out of 5 stars The Thread That inspires lives
I read this book while preparing to do the play based from it, and I must say that it is an amazing piece of literature..... each student in the book is so lifelike that when it came time for my friend and I to play the parts of Guy Hawkins and Vaida Conway, we knew just what to do. It is a heartwarming tale....... Jesse has so many experiences with so many people in the book that it makes the story easy to follw and believable..... I would recommend this book to anyone!

5-0 out of 5 stars Classic book on teaching
I first read this book in jr. high and it has always stayed in
my mind. Probably the most important part of Stuart's autobiography is when he finds the key to teaching--make it play, not work. When he realized this, he had very few problems with his students--and these were kids from the hills who were
having such fun at school they would walk there barefoot, or in
the winter. Anyone who wants to be a teacher--or is even mildly
interested in teaching--should read this extraordinary book. ... Read more

6. A Charge to Keep
by George W. Bush
list price: $23.00
our price: $15.64
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0688174418
Catlog: Book (1999-12-01)
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Sales Rank: 7439
Average Customer Review: 3.21 out of 5 stars
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The political biography, complete with life-altering turning points and a political philosophy for leading the United States into greatness, has become obligatory for those running for president--just one more thing to check off the "to do" list on the way to the Oval Office. A Charge to Keep is George W. Bush's offering: a light and breezy book mixing personal and political remembrances that proves heavy on chatty anecdotes and light on policy prescriptions. If you read the last chapter you'll sort of learn where George W. stands on most things, but still not really discern how he would actually run the country. There are no revelations, either personal or political: Bush's wild side and youthful indiscretions, like stealing a Christmas wreath from a New Haven hotel for his Yale fraternity, are touched on lightly when he discusses them at all. A Charge to Keep is so upbeat and positive, in describing the Houston woman to whom he was engaged in college and from whom he "gradually drifted apart," Bush says simply: "I still think the world of her, and our parting was friendly. We were very young, we lived in different places, and we gradually developed different lives."

George W. has been labeled a lightweight by some; A Charge to Keep will do nothing to dispel that notion. It features lots of Bush family memories and numerous mentions of George W.'s famous parents, including letters from his president father. George W. has followed closely in his father's footsteps, attending the same prep school and college. He even belonged to the same secret society at Yale, Skull and Bones. From college it was on to flight school and the Texas Air National Guard, Harvard Business School, and then (again, like his father) the Texas oil business and politics. George W. seems mostly in sync with his father on policy issues as well. "A thousand points of light" is transformed slightly to become "compassionate conservative," which pops up in the final chapter more than 10 times. Readers will come away knowing many of the experiences and events that have helped shaped George W., but his future is still an open book. --Linda Killian ... Read more

Reviews (104)

2-0 out of 5 stars Simple
Like many another left-leaning moderate (or right-leaning liberal, or whatever the hell I would call myself these days), George W. Bush wasn't my choice for president, but with smarmy Al Gore his only serious opponent, his victory (if that's what you'd call it) didn't distress me too much. After all, if the lesser of two evils (Gore) is still evil, the greater of two evils (ahem) is almost comforting. If Forrest Gump's famous observation is correct ("Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get"), one could argue that the greater of two evils is preferable. You know exactly what you're gonna get, and if you get something you didn't expect, chances are you'll be pleasantly surprised rather than bitterly disappointed at having been betrayed.

It's a tradition of sorts to give any newly elected leader the benefit of the doubt, and in that spirit, I read Georgie boy's book (albeit three years into his presidency). Why not? After all, it's a quick read.

Of course, it's a "quick read" because, like all "books" supposedly written by presidential candidates prior to seeking the presidency, it's really not a book at all. It's campaign material, propaganda meant to paint the candidate in the flattering colors of his own choosing, and it's no surprise that Bush's tract does not challenge the established formula of this peculiar genre. It's also no surprise that Bush probably didn't write his book. He doesn't strike me as much of a reader, much less a writer, and one can take it for granted that he spent most of the four years preceding his "election" working on his 2000 campaign, not writing drafts of any memoir.

This is the work of Karen Hughes, the credited co-author, and, in one sense, she does a brilliant job. Even though it's unlikely Bush spent even one moment behind a word processor or typewriter, Hughes nontheless captures his spirit in her prose, creating a book very much like the one Bush would write if he were to bother with such things. The sentences are all short and to the point, never complex enough to require a comma, all reinforcing the image of Bush as a very simple man. Simplicity has its virtues, but one can argue whether it's the best virtue for a man whose job requires day-to-day decisions regarding enormously complex life or death matters, but, like Reagan, his simplicity is part of whatever charm he has.

The prose never reveals much, certainly nothing that would indicate Bush was anything other than what he claims to be (which is?), and is as instantly forgettable as similar books by Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and other seekers of the highest office in the land. This is political propaganda and nothing more, but who would think it was anything but?

1-0 out of 5 stars Bush is more intelligent than a turnip
That's about all that one will conclude upon finishing this book. When I was done, I felt like I had consumed solid air, or fat-free cream cheese.

5-0 out of 5 stars bush rules!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I think presadent Bush is the best presadent this county had ever had! In this book he tells how he made ot to be the govener of texas, after he was the owner of the Rangers even though they didn't do no good when he owned them even though they had Arod Pudge, and Juan Gonzalez, but it don't matter none compared to him as a presadent! HE is the best we ever had maybe except for Regan; I exspechially like the discusion about the painting he has in his offise the one of the old west battle seen that that one president had with the mustash, Roseavelt i believe. That was cool and very inspring! I think Bush is going to win again because he gave us that $400 last time, and noone else ever did that, I am glad becuase I was able to pay of my tv from rentacenter because of it I am greatful. I don't know why anyone would be against him anyways, exspecialy is you are a Christian, the world is a better place on acount of his being presadent and people should look at that. the only thing I did'nt like was that there was'mt enouf pitchers of him and his family, especially his cute girls, but they dont look like they take after him. He is a great man as this book showed and should be read by all Americans God bless the USA, love it or leeve it!

5-0 out of 5 stars Classic
While some former members of the Army Reserves will be quick to apologize for Bush going AWOL - likely they, too, shirked their duties and made a mockery of our proud military - this book goes to great lengths to outline why many of the other less deserved criticisms of our esteemed president are invalid. In Bush's own words, we see that he has a lot to say, and he offers us much to think about.

An interesting and intelligent read (even those unable to understand Ulysses should be quick to grasp this), Bush offers logical arguments and sound examples to counter the "dumb" accusation. Bush is not dumb. His experience speaks for itself. He, like some ex-Reservists, was not a respectable member of the United States Armed Forced, but dumb he wasn't. Bush earned everything he has, and he should be praised for it.

Bush is the greatest American president of the 21st Century.

I finally read this book, and did so in light of the mounting criticism of Bush as "dumb," along with attempts to discredit his military career. My sense at this point is to look at the available empirical evidence. George W. Bush was admitted to Yale and graduated in four years. He was a legacy, so getting in was assured, but many students do not graduate in four years, as he did. This is to his credit. His grades have not been released, but most of those who were there say he was about a B- student, which is quite respectable.

Next, he entered the U.S. Air Force, their version of the Reserves, which in his case was the Texas Air Guard. Perhaps he received some favoritism over others in getting a slot, but the evidence is he did not. The fact is, he was willing to "go jets," which few were willing or qualified to try out for. Bush went through a series of rigorous tests and passed them. He entered flight school, where the "wash out" rate is about 80 percent. He passed. He entered flight test, where the wash out rate is quite high. He passed. He qualified and flew jets. Here is the thing: People make movies and write books about this experience. "The Right Stuff", "Top Gun", "An Officer and a Gentleman" are all about exceptional young men who walk this trial by fire. Bush is one of them. He is a Top Gun - no, not the actual guys who are selected for Miramar by the Navy, not a Blue Angel, not Chuck Yeager, but he is one of an elite group of awesome Americans.

When Fleet Week comes around, and I see these pilots walking around town, my first reaction is that by virtue of having those wings they are top flight individuals, outstanding people. I do not ask whether they flew in combat or missed some drills. I know if they are wearing that uniform and have those wings they are studs. Bush was one of those men.

Apparently Bush missed a few drills in 1973 after five years in the Air Force. I was in the Reserves and missed some drills. Everybody misses drill occasionally, for a million valid reasons, none of which means we were AWOL. Bush was never AWOL.

One other thing. Bush never flew in Vietnam, but I bet he is glad of this. Had he, no doubt his detractors would say he dropped napalm on villages and killed civilians.

Bush applied to the University of Texas Law School and was turned down. So much for having every door opened to him because of his "daddy," who had been a Texas Congressman and two-time Texas Senate candidate. Bush applied to the Harvard Business School. Guess the percentage of people who are not accepted. 80 percent? 90? Point made.

Bush was accepted. He was not a Harvard legacy. It would appear he got in on merit, being a Yale grad of good grades and a fighter pilot. Their conclusion: This guy has an impressive background. He studied the courses, and graduated with an MBA. How many enter the MBA program and wash out? Many do.

Accordingly to the not-Republican Atlantic Monthly, Bush has never lost a political debate. He has squared off with some tough characters, like Ann Richards and Al Gore.

Dumb? This issue has has been studied and analyzed. The conclusion? Bush is no dummy.

STWRITES@AOL.COM ... Read more

7. Bryson City Tales
by Walter L. Larimore
list price: $16.99
our price: $11.55
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0310241006
Catlog: Book (2002-04-01)
Publisher: Zondervan Publishing Company
Sales Rank: 38800
Average Customer Review: 4.29 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A true story with the heart, the humor, and the humility of a raw young doctor in his very first days as a new family doctor in a little town in the Appalachian Mountains. ... Read more

Reviews (14)

4-0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming...
I have actually visited Bryson City, North Carolina, so this is what attracted me to this book. In addition, I like tales of small town life and I have heard of Dr. Larimore in connection with Focus on The Family.

Woven into the drama of practicing medicine in a community that does not welcome outsiders are glimpses of faith that carry Dr. Larimore through many trying experiences. Some of the characters in this book are hilarious (you will find yourself laughing out loud at the anal angina story).

Overall, a good read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bryson City Tales
Dr.Larimore's tales of his first year of medical practice was an enlightening, heartwarming, funny, most enjoyable read. Once I started to read it, I felt somehow drawn in by it & compelled to finish it overnight!!
I encourage any & all to experience this wonderful book. Dr. Larimore has truly been blessed with a gift for not only story-telling, but in the sharing of his gift of healing, in not only a physical, but spiritual realm.

1-0 out of 5 stars this book makes me angry!
Dr. Larimore's book is a gross misrepesentation of my home.. Bryson City. Making the residents seem to be back woods olfs and idiots! It may be based on a true place but the book is a work of fiction and should therefore be presented as such.

3-0 out of 5 stars For doctors and locals
I read this book because I'm familiar with its setting. (I even took a picture of Horace Kephart's grave about the time Larimore visited it.) Set in 1981-82 (the author is coy about dates), the book describes the accommodation of a newly minted, Duke University-trained physician to the people of Appalachian North Carolina. There are satisfying moments, but the book often bogs down in efforts to wring profundity from the commonplace. For instance, Chapter 24 is largely the description of a romantic dinner presented course by course. More than once I felt I was listening to a long-winded moralist or a jokester having difficulty reaching the punch line. Without economy and proportion, even interesting material loses its punch. The book's spirituality is religion-lite: some prayer in crisis and, in the presence of death, talk of a generic God. Nothing so ungentlemenly as Jesus'words that "no man comes to the Father except through me." Nevertheless, locals and doctors will find this memoir worth reading.

4-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful stories from this first-year country doctor!
This book appears in the fiction section of libraries, but it is really non-fiction, although the names have been changed to protect the innocent (or guilty!). I loved this book! The stories are often hilarious, sometimes poignant and always fascinating.

We traveled through the Bryson City area when whitewater rafting on the Nantahala River several years ago. It's a beautiful area of the country. I really enjoyed Larimore's description of the beauty of God's creation in the hills of North Carolina.

Why only 4 stars? I guess I wanted more from the end of the book. Now perhaps he could only write what he experienced, but I was dying to know what Dr. Larimore did after he left Bryson City. I also felt that I got to know his wife and daughter Kate and their new baby too.

If you liked this book, you might want to check out Phil Gulley's "Home to Harmony" fiction series about small town life. If you're interested in more small town medicine stories, check out husband/wife team author Hannah Alexander's books. There are two series - start with "Sacred Trust". These are fiction, and with a little suspense and a little romance.

Happy reading and I hope you take the time to check out my other reviews! God bless you! ... Read more

8. The Jew Store
by Stella Suberman
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1565123301
Catlog: Book (2001-09-01)
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Sales Rank: 34833
Average Customer Review: 4.73 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The Bronsons were the first Jews to ever live in the small town of Concordia, Tennessee-a town consisting of one main street, one bank, one drugstore, one picture show, one feed and seed, one hardware store, one beauty parlor, one barber shop, one blacksmith, and many Christian churches. That didn't stop Aaron Bronson, a Russian immigrant, from moving his young family out of New York by horse and wagon and journeying to this remote corner of the South to open a small dry goods store, Bronson's Low-Priced Store.

Never mind that he was greeted with "Danged if I ever heard tell of a Jew storekeeper afore." Never mind that all the townspeople were suspicious of any strangers. Never mind that the Klan actively discouraged the presence of outsiders. Aaron Bronson bravely established a business and proved in the process that his family could make a home, and a life, anywhere. With great fondness and a fine dry wit, Stella Suberman tells the story of her family in an account that Kirkus Reviews, in a starred review, described as "a gem...Vividly told and captivating in its humanity."

Now available for the first time in paperback, here is the book that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said was "forthright. . . . not a revisionist history of Jewish life in the small-town South but . . . written within the context of the 1920s, making it valuable history as well as a moving family story." ... Read more

Reviews (33)

5-0 out of 5 stars You don't have to be Jewish to love this book!
The Jew Store is a wonderful, absorbing memoir, rich with detail about a Jewish family's experiences in a tiny, "dot on the map" southern town. Stella Suberman's vivid descriptions of her Russian immigrant parents' adjustment to this life include unflinching examinations of the prejudices and imperfections of the community they join as well as those the couple bring with them. So much happens to the family in the course of this memoir that the narrative is as compelling as a good novel. The dilemmas the family faces are so convincingly rendered--Where will Joey get the training necessary for his bar mitzvah? Will Miriam marry a gentile?--that I was occasionally moved to tears. By the time you reach the end of the book, you will miss some of these people, as if they have become part of your own story.

5-0 out of 5 stars A POIGNANT REMEMBRANCE
"For a real bargain, while you're making a living, you should also make a life." That was Aaron Bronson's motto. Well, Russian Jewish immigrant Bronson did both, "in spades," as he would say. His daughter, Stella Suberman, has now written a book, and she's done it "in spades."

This warm memoir of her family's experiences as the first Jews to live in Concordia, Tennessee, is vibrant with wit and cogent with commentary about 1920s life in a small Southern town.

Rather than a pejorative title, Ms. Suberman says "the Jew store" is what people really called such shops, businesses owned by Jews who catered to farmhands, share croppers, and factory hands, offering them inexpensive clothes, piece goods, and linens. "They didn't know about political correctness in those days," she said, "that is just what it was called."

Seeing opportunity in the South, Aaron Bronson, his wife, Reba, and their two children, Joey and Miriam (Stella was not yet born) set out from New York City to open a dry goods store. Upon arriving in Concordia, population 5,381, the family was taken in by voluble, independent Miss Brookie.

Reba, who came with a mood that was "like a thing on her chest," was ill-at-ease, fearing the Ku Klux Klan, and people who believed Jews had horns on their heads. Later, she faced what she considered to be an even greater terror: Joey might not have a bar mitzvah and Miriam might be in love with a Gentile.

On the other hand, Aaron took to the town immediately and opened "Bronson's Low-Priced Store," so identified by gilt lettering on the windows. His elation at having his own business knew no bounds; Reba described him as "Flying with the birdies."

Aaron's shop flourished, as did he, becoming the first to hire a black as a salesperson. In years to come, he would make invaluable contributions to his Depression wracked community.

Detente preceded affection as the townsfolk overcame their initial skepticism of Jewish people and grew to view the Bronson family as neighbors and friends. Miss Brookie gave Miriam piano lessons and attempted to enlist Reba in a battle to do away with child labor in the local shoe factory.

Nonetheless, In 1933 Reba held sway and, although Aaron thought of Concordia as home, he agreed to take their three children and return to New York City, where he would open a garage and each child would eventually marry within the Jewish faith.

Stella Suberman has turned a poignant family remembrance into a rich, sometimes funny, always touching story. In addition, she has shed light on a little known facet of Jewish/American history.

5-0 out of 5 stars an unusual childhood
I read "The Jew Store" after seeing author Stella Suberman on Booktv. I was impressed with her, as she is young looking and quick thinking into her ninth decade.

  Her story relates an unusual childhood, growing up in a small Tennessee town in the 20s and 30s where her immigrant parents ran a dry-goods business that catered to the lower income residents. They were the only Jewish residents, occupying a unique niche in the life of the area. Her sunny-natured, optimistic father flourished there, becoming southern in speech and outlook. The adjustment was harder for her sensitive, traditional mother. For Stella and her older sister and brother, there was no question of adjustment, as life in Tennessee was the only life they knew, and they were generally accepted and able to take root.

Suberman is a wonderful writer, as one might expect for a "retired editor" of many years experience. Her style is vividly descriptive, with a perfect balance of the characters' inward and outward lives. "The Jew Store" is a joy to read. Suberman's book deserves the highest recommendation and will appeal to readers of all ages.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great History !!
Stella Suberman is sixteen years older than I am, and much of the action in this narrative takes place before she was born. Call it a full generation before me. My recollections are not hers. I conjecture that the differences are perceptual although it is possible that the sociology changed that much in a generation. My town was in Mississippi, although I went to high school in Gibson County Tennessee not far from "Concordia."

I don't recall a single dry goods store in my small town (5000 people), and there were several, that was not owned by Jews. They were not ever called "Jew Stores" to my recollection, and until this book set me to thinking, I had never remarked the fact that no goyim were in the dry goods business in small town Mississippi.

Maybe that says more about my "raisin'" than about the sociology of my town, but I can recall no overt discrimination *against* jews until I grew up and moved to New York. Years later, it came to my attention that there was a "jewish discount" among the merchants in Mississippi that was not extended to goyim, but that is another investigation for another time.

I am intrigued with the fact that the Bronson family encountered such intense discrimination so shortly before I became sentient. Stella Suberman's account, although filtered through the perception of her parents, rings true, and reads like a novel. We have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go. Assuming that assimulation is our goal.

5-0 out of 5 stars For young adults, wannabe adults, and real adults
Imagine being raised in rural Tennessee in the 1920s, the child of a Jewish storekeeper. Imagine this child, quiet and observant, watching, always watching and listening. She listens to family stories well enough to begin her tale prior to her own birth. It's a different tale of anti-Semitism, one that only someone who lived it on intimate terms would be in a position to tell.
Engaging writing and a believable narrator contribute to the book's value. ... Read more

9. Son Of The Rough South: An Uncivil Memoir
by Karl Fleming
list price: $26.95
our price: $17.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1586482963
Catlog: Book (2005-05-10)
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Sales Rank: 8007
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Book Description

A remarkable and moving memoir of growing up poor in a tough place and covering the most brutal-though often inspiring-aspects of the civil rights revolution

Legendary civil rights reporter Karl Fleming was born in North Carolina's flattest, bleakest tobacco landscape. Raised in a Methodist orphanage during the Great Depression, he was isolated from much of the world around him until an early newspaper job introduced him to the era's brutal racial politics and a subsequent posting as Newsweek's lead civil rights reporter took him to the South's hotspots throughout the 1960s: James Meredith's enrollment at the University of Mississipi, the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, the assassination of Medgar Evers, the murders of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and more. On May 17, 1966, Fleming was beaten by black rioters on the streets of Los Angeles. Newsweek covered the incident in their next issue, and here's what they wrote:"That he was beaten by Negroes in the streets of Watts was a cruel irony. Fleming had covered the landmark battles of the Negro revolt from Albany, Ga., to Oxford, Miss., to Birmingham, Ala., and numberless way stations whose names are now all but forgotten..... No journalist was more closely tuned into the Movement; once when a Newsweek Washington correspondent asked the Justice Department to name some Dixie hot spots, the Justice man replied, 'Ask Fleming. That's what we do.'"

In Son of the Rough South, Fleming has delivered a stunning, revealing memoir of all the worlds he knew, black, white, violent, and cloistered-and a deeply moving read for anyone interested in any rough South. ... Read more

10. The Tennis Partner
by Abraham Verghese
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060931132
Catlog: Book (1999-10-01)
Publisher: Perennial
Sales Rank: 24398
Average Customer Review: 4.16 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

When Abraham Verghese, a physician whose marriage is unraveling, relocates to El Paso, Texas, he hopes to make a fresh start as a staff member at the county hospital. There he meets David Smith, a medical student recovering from drug addition, and the two men begin a tennis ritual that allows them to shed their inhibitions and find security in the sport they love and with each other. This friendship between doctor and intern grows increasingly rich and complex, more intimate than two men usually allow. And just when it seems nothing more can go wrong, the dark beast from David's past emerges once again. As David spirals out of control, almost everything Verghese has come to trust and believe in is threatened. Compassionate and moving, The Tennis Partner is a unforgettable, illuminating story of how men live, and how they survive.

... Read more

Reviews (50)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent study of how great gifts can't save a flawed life
Abraham Verghese is a physician, a deeply inquisitive student of human nature, and a dark, poetic writer. This book reminds me of another of my favorites, Norman Maclean's "A River Runs Through It," with tennis instead of fishing.

In the years that have elapsed since "My Own Country," Verghese's marriage has collapsed, and he has moved to a teaching hospital in Texas. One of his students is a young man named David Smith, who had briefly played pro tennis before beginning medical school. Verghese, an avid tennis player, hesitantly asks if they might play together.

Smith, like the younger brother in "A River Runs Through It," is charming, lovable, smart, and supremely gifted in his chosen sport; on the tennis court, he seems to be transformed into a different, and better, person. But his gifts aren't enough to save his life; he's an intravenous drug abuser, in and out of recovery and rehab. When the two men play tennis together, their support for each other, and their anger and frustrations, are all played out on the tennis court.

As in "My Own Country," Verghese reveals his fascination with people from all walks of life. His emotional inquisitiveness leads him to take risks, as when he accepts a junkie's offer of a tour of "his" world. Yet for all his curiosity and his desire to learn to see the world through the eyes of others, Verghese was unable to save his friend, and he was even unable to save his own marriage. Sadly, he wonders if his marriage might have survived if he had invested himself in it as deeply as he invested himself in the minutiae of tennis.

5-0 out of 5 stars For the Love of Tennis
For any student of the game of tennis who is madly in love with the game and its ability to completely take over your life, 'The Tennis Partner' will ring true in many ways. Verghese understands the passion behind the game and how it can draw two men together despite the difficulties in their relationship. Written with a lucid prose, the book sometimes feels a bit raw in its emotion, but you can hardly fault the author for baring his soul about his love for the game of tennis and his desire to share it with his friend, despite his friend's struggle with drug addiction. The book also treads fragile ground by venturing forth into intense relationships between heterosexual men. The book is risky in its integrity as well as its intensity in the author's descriptions of his emotions for his tennis partner. But, best of all, he desribes beautifully what many of us love so much - the game of tennis.

4-0 out of 5 stars Recommended by my doctor
My doctor is an amazing person - not just a great doctor. We spend quite a bit of time talking about life, not just doing the clinical stuff. He recommended "The Tennis Partner" to me and I put it off for about a year before I dove into it. It's absolutely amazing. The depth of the writing is superb and the story captivates you from beginning to end.

4-0 out of 5 stars Anatomy of Addiction and Relapse
Dr. Vergesse has great powers of observation and uses them in a powerful way to record the demise of his young friend through cocaine addiction.

For persons (especially medical Doctors) without intimate knowledge of the power of addiction this should be very informative. For those with personal knowledge (especially medical Doctors) it should also be helpful.

3-0 out of 5 stars Depressing
If life's been a bowl of cherries, but you're curious about the pits, read this. I've played tennis for 40 years, seen plenty of addiction and mental illness, but found this book -- though well-written -- in the end, simply depressing. ... Read more

11. Intimate Enemies: The Two Worlds of the Baroness De Pontalba
by Christina Vella
list price: $34.95
our price: $34.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0807121444
Catlog: Book (1997-08-01)
Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
Sales Rank: 456838
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Against a richly woven historical background oftwo centuries and two vivid societies, Christina Vella unfolds the compelling story of the marital alliance between the Almonester and Pontalba families of Louisiana. Born into wealth in New Orleans in 1795, Micaela Almonester was married into misery in France sixteen years later. Intimate Enemies gives the amazing true account of this resilient woman’s life—and the three men who most affected its course: her father, Andrés, an illustrious New Orleans builder in whose footsteps she eventually followed with great distinction; her father-in-law, Xavier, who for more than twenty years tried to destroy her marriage and seize control of her fortune, eventually shooting Micaela in violent despair; and her husband, Célestin, whom, despite all, she compassionately supported until her death. Adapted as an opera in 2003 by the New Orleans Opera, Intimate Enemies has captured the imagination and admiration of readers everywhere. ... Read more

Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars an exhaustively researched work that remains easily readable
Vella brings to life with splendid detail the life in New Orleans and Paris in the 1800's. Vella is unquestionably a tireless scholar who has dedicated much time and passion into assimilating an astounding amount of archival materials to bring to life the realities and sensibilities of the different ranks of the aristocracies. Sophisticated, realpolitic, Machiavellian. A wonderful work and a great read. This is how history should be written (for non-academia). Well footnoted & bibliographed.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Detailed Account of a Dynamic Woman
Intimate Enemies: The Two Worlds of the Baroness de Pontalba, by Christina Vella, is one of the best books that I have ever read. I took Professor Vella's class at Tulane University in the Spring of 2000. This book was the basis of the class. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in thorough documentation of facts about a dynamic woman and her family, as well as two great cities, New Orleans and Paris.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read
This book has been recommended to me by a tour guide while I was paying New Orleans a short visit. I bought it together with Gwendolyn Midlo Hall's excellent "Africans in Louisiana", and, read one after another, starting with Hall, the books give a pretty cool picture of what New Orleans (and Louisiana, for the matter) were about during the 18th century. Although Gwendolyn Hall is by no means a bad writer (on the contrary), Christina Vella definitely is the more compelling read.

Her first few chapters rock, especially the ones about the old Almonester and his fights with the Cabildo, followed by the biography of the old Pontalba. Those are the best chapters of the entire book. Vella did a fantastic job with placing those characters in a broader historical setting. Beautifully written, she doesn't hesitate to give psychological explanations to those men's actions, and does so convincingly. Vella even allows herself to comment ironically on certain developments, or (dis)approve of the actions of her characters, which is pretty rare in modern historical scolarship. (Why?)

The scene then shifts from New Orleans to France, and the story becomes one of a superweird triangle relationship between Micael, Celestin, and Celestin's father, with a pretty dramatic ending. The broader historical perspective shifts accordingly, from the organization of a colonial society to a gender study of early 18th century France. What were the (im)possibilities of a unhappily married woman in this society? Micael, by her extraordinary personality, pushes the boundaries of the possible to the extreme.

The last few chapters of "Intimate enemies", where Christina Vella retraces the building activities of Micael in Paris and New Orleans, are the weakest. The organization of those chapters is sometimes sloppy and unfocused, and although much space is devoted to details regarding the architecture and construction of the Hotel Pontalba and the New Orleans buildings, one senses that Vella doesn't master these themes enough to present them to the reader in a comprehensive fashion. Also, the emphasis on the architecture unfortunately took away some of the focus from the biographical stuff, that in the later years doesn't get less interesting. After having given Micael's father a chapter, her sons would have deserved one as well, especially Celestin Jr. since he became quite an important public figure, but also the other two (How exactly did Micael's sons get in touch with their spouses? How did they relate to Micael after marriage? Why did Gaston remain single his whole life? Was he gay? etc.).

Notwithstanding, this book was a pleasant and thoughtprovoking journey. I'm recommending it to all my friends.

5-0 out of 5 stars A book in which 19th century New Orleans comes alive!
Growing up in New Orleans, I was always familiar with the name Pontalba and the row apartments flanking Jackson Square that bore the name. Pontalba, Almanester, de la Ronde, Miro, Pere Antoine: these were names that every student in New Orleans schools learn. Yet, now I feel as if I know each of them on a personal basis, as if I have actually met them. In the process, I have come to know the city of New Orleans in th 19th century, the same city which I have always known and loved in the 20th. Christina Vella brings to life people who have been dead and gone for over a hundred years. Only through the meticulous research that she has done can these ghosts be brought back to life. Vella has done a superb job in this endeavor. With her vivid descriptions of the city in mind, you can walk through the French Quarter today and literally see the muddy, murky streets of the previous century. You can see the ships on the river carrying the young bride and bridegroom to France. You can see the beloved cathedral as it looked back then. Read Intimate Enemies to learn about the people Vella is describing, but read it also to learn about the city which was their home, about the country that became their nation. Vella has done exactly what every historian strives to do: to bring the past to life in such a way that it is understood and therefore clearly explains why things are the way they are today.

5-0 out of 5 stars An intimate portrayal of an era and a remarkable woman
Too often history book are dry and historical fiction is not accurate. How refreshing it is, then, to find a book by a professional historian that reads like a novel and yet is meticulously researched and beautifully written. Intimate Enemies is a true story but the kind of story of which novels are made. It details the life, travails and (eventually) triumph of a remarkable woman, Micaela Almonester, Baroness de Pontalba. In tracing Micaela's troubled life from her birth in New Orleans, in 1795, to her death in Paris, in 1874, Christina Vella provides a rich historical mosaic of the times. One learns in detail about antebellum New Orleans in all its glory and squalor and about France in the first three quarters of the 19th century. We learn of inheritance laws, the treatment of dowries, and the rights of wives vis-a-vis husbands, in both France and Louisiana. And we see Micaela changing from a pliant, obediant wife to an astute woman, aware that her assets are being exploited by a money-grubbing husband and father-in-law. Much in the manner of Tuchman's A Distant Mirror, and Sheehan's A Bright, Shining Lie, Vella uses a single person to reflect the times, drawing the reader into a living, three-dimensional world. Indeed, one of the great virtues of this book is its corpus of notes, which provide the interested reader with additional subjects to explore. The author has even provided a list of New Orleans streets named for acquaintances of the Baroness! Micaela Almonester was an incredible woman, who survived poverty, illness, and attempted assassination by a father-in0law unable to bend her to his will. Vella has brought her to life in a way that makes the reader sorry to see the old woman die and the book end. It is almost too much to expect Vella to provide us with an encore but we may hope! ... Read more

12. Ava's Man
list price: $13.00
our price: $9.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375724443
Catlog: Book (2002-08-13)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 21863
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

With the same emotional generosity and effortlessly compelling storytelling that made All Over But the Shoutin’ a national bestseller, Rick Bragg continues his personal history of the Deep South.This time he’s writing about his grandfather Charlie Bundrum, a man who died before Bragg was born but left an indelible imprint on the people who loved him. Drawing on their memories, Bragg reconstructs the life of an unlettered roofer who kept food on his family’s table through the worst of the Great Depression; a moonshiner who drank exactly one pint for every gallon he sold; an unregenerate brawler, who could sit for hours with a baby in the crook of his arm.

In telling Charlie’s story, Bragg conjures up the backwoods hamlets of Georgia and Alabama in the years when the roads were still dirt and real men never cussed in front of ladies. A masterly family chronicle and a human portrait so vivid you can smell the cornbread and whiskey, Ava’s Man is unforgettable.
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Reviews (56)

5-0 out of 5 stars Rick Bragg doesn't disappoint
This was one of the most enjoyable books that I've read in a long time. I was enthralled from the first page to the last. Rick Bragg chronicles the history of his family, in particular, the grandfather that he never knew, Charlie. Bragg really knows how to tell a story well. He tells stories that on the surface seem as if they are hardships faced by his grandparents during the Depression-Era South. But once you untangle his lovely writing, you discover that the book isn't about the hardships, but about the many (however small they were) triumphs the family shared. I was dreading the last chapter - I would have loved to hear more about Charlie and Ava. Rick Bragg has a gift for storytelling that his grandfather would have been proud of.

Few can evoke an accurate image of the Deep South. Pulitzer Prize-winner Rick Bragg (All Over But The Shoutin') does more than evoke it, he paints it in bold Mondrian-like brush strokes and chiaroscuro. The time and place come alive before our delighted eyes.

"Ava's Man" is a very personal history, it's the story of Bragg's mother's childhood in the dirt poor Appalachian foothills during the Depression, and it's a tribute to her father, Charlie Bondrun, the grandfather Bragg knows only through stories and reminiscences.

Of this man the author writes, ".....if he ever was good at one thing on this earth, it was being a daddy." Charlie, the father of seven always hungry children, moved his family 29 times during the depression. He worked wherever he could - sometimes for pay, at other times for a side of bacon or a basket of fruit. The doctor who delivered his fourth daughter, Bragg's mother, was paid with a bottle of whiskey.

Charlie was not an educated man. His wife, Ava, read the paper to him every day so he would be informed. But, he was a clever man - could make a boat out of car hoods, and he played the banjo, and he could dance.

Most importantly, despite the hardships, the deprivation, he knew how to make his family know they were loved.

This is Ava's story, Charlie's story, and the story of a time in our history, magnificently told.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best Southern Book Since "Prince Of Tides"
I was born and raised in the very woods and mountains Ricky Bragg writes of, and he makes them seem new and magical even though I've seen them every day of my life.
I worked in a Textile Plant fresh out of high school and didn't make much, but once a month I went to Salvation Army to buy 25 cent books, and I found "All Over but The Shoutin" and knew I'd never find a author so close to home.
Ava's Man, made me cry and curse and run to my Daddy when I needed to know which river or road Ricky was talking about, and my Daddy would alwasy swell up and explain to me where it was and add a short story about it.
This book isn't a fancy story about huge white houses and sprawling orchards, its a simple book about a simple man that would other wise be forgotten.
Charlie reminds me of my Daddy, and my Paw Paw and his Daddy before.
A dying breed of men with strong work ethics and big hearts, and a taste for the likker.
My Daddys eyes are bad and he cant read, but he enjoyed the pages I read to him, and my family would ask me to copy pages and we would all sit around and agree with Bragg on holidays.
Maybe it sounds lame, but this book brought my family together.
With his Cracklin bread and c'modity cheese. The likker and catfish, and of course the small strong women with hands as rough as a man and a tongue twice as sharp.
If you want to know the ways of Alabama, and the culture we pass down, read this book, slide into the slang and enjoy yourself...I know I did.

5-0 out of 5 stars Just . . . well . . . Wonderful!
This beautiful, tragic, compelling, and ultimately stellar book will be around for quite a while. Something as good as this doesn't fade away after its inital release and we can only hope that Bragg has more books in him.

The most riveting aspect of this excellent read is the fact that Bragg gives us a remarkable story using anything BUT sterotypes. Thank goodness, for it's about time someone looked outside of the cliche that all southerners are ignorant, backwards, "Deliverance" types. If only more people would read and understand what the south is really like.

Also recommended: The Color Purple, Bark of the Dogwood, Fried Green Tomaotes

4-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful peak at an American family!
Well after reading this book, two things became clear to me: the first is that Mr. Bragg has a wonderful writing style that can make some ordinary things into a magical and warm experience; and second is that I was quite surprised about the story line. I feel guilty just saying this but rarely in our society do we have a positive mental image when we speak of poor Southerners. This book allowed me (a "northerner") to understand what life was actually like for southern folks in the early part of the 1900's, showing us that they weren't minority hating, wife beating drunken, white hoods wearing thrash. WHAT A WONDERFUL BREATH OF FRESH AIR! It is a great book to read about family struggle in general without looking at a map, but I think it does teach us a couple of lessons too. Imagine if each of us were as proud of our family as Mr. Bragg is of his, how wonderful we would feel?? ... Read more

13. Leaving Birmingham: Notes of a Native Son (Deep South Books)
by Paul Hemphill
list price: $19.95
our price: $19.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0817310223
Catlog: Book (2000-05-01)
Publisher: University of Alabama Press
Sales Rank: 532480
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Perspective of the South during a Tumultous Time
I decided to read this book for purely personal motives. Having been raised in California by a father who grew up in Birmingham in the early twenties and thirties, I had a desire to understand this man, my father, who seemed at times to have such radical world views. Reading Paul Hemphill's story, specifically the retelling of details of growing up in a working class family, including the bigoted views his father held, helped me to understand the world that molded many whites prior to the civil rights movement. When chosing this book, I wasn't looking for a dry detailed history but rather an insiders view of what this world of "Birmingham, Alabama" must have been like growing up. Why it created such biogtry? And How can we continue to change? Paul Hemphill, through this book, helped me to understand, what kind of a world Birmingham was, and how it shaped and molded the people who grew up there.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Student's Perspective
This book was required reading for my Civil Rights class. Although at times a bit too detailed and tangent prone, Hemphill's style is very gripping and kept my attention. The way in which the formation and development of Birmingham is disussed, enterpreted, and explained is superb. Hemphill does an excellent job of juxtaposing the racial, economic, and social climate that evolved and gripped the city of Birmingham throughout the years. I would consider this autobiography of sorts a must read for any person interested in issues pertaining to the Civil Rights Movement. Just get through the few dry parts, the rest is well worth the read!

5-0 out of 5 stars Probes the ethnic relationships in Birmingham
In 1963 Alabama was the site of racial violence: native Hemphill decides here to return to his hometown, to come to terms with his family and life. Leaving Birmingham probes the ethnic relationships in Birmingham past and present, providing an intriguing analysis of the tensions and present-day life.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not Just For Southerners
The reader should note that this book is not a history, but an honest reminiscence by the author. Paul Hemphill was born and raised in a Birmingham that no longer exists, and his story is a sentimental, though often melancholy, remembrance of his journey from childhood to an adulthood marked by his departure from his native city. Unlike other native sons, such as Roy Blount and Howell Raines, who long ago moved to New York and have spent the majority of their adult lives apologizing for having been born in the South, Hemphill offers the reader a painfully honest autobiography that parallels the mutually exclusive forces of change and retrenchment within Birmingham before and after World War II. He presents an insightful glimpse of a city unique in the South, a city created atop one of the richest iron ore deposits in the country, with no antebellum, gentrified past, a tough, muscular city. It is a Birmingham as it truly was, a city divided not in two parts, but three: the Birmingham of poor, legally segregated blacks, the Birmingham of working-class whites who manned the steel, iron and coke factories during their height, and the Birmingham of the Mountain Brook overseers, the representatives of the absentee landlords who owned these factories, the men of a separate community entirely, who publicly stayed above the fray of civil rights strife, all the while stoking and manipulating the blue collar whites to whom civil rights appeared a supreme threat. It was into such a working-class family that Hemphill was born. His descriptions of his hard-working, traditionalist father, his mother and the neighborhood in which he grew up, are perhaps the finest elements of the book. It is evident that this was no easy book for Hemphill to write. He must counter-balance the admiration he holds for his parents and the joys of his childhood, with the ultimate revulsion he felt in adulthood toward a civilization predisposed all along toward heightened brutality. It is not only his personal journey, but the journey of Birmingham from "the Magic City" to "Bad Birmingham"; the journey of Bull Connor from "voice of the Barons" to the "voice of legalized segregation". Hemphill witnessed all of this and it is sadness, not cold judgement, that pervades this book and sets it apart from the many other books written about that city and that time. This reviewer highly recommends this book to anyone who has an interest in gaining a personal perspective of the Birmingham of mid-20th Century America. ... Read more

by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0684818795
Catlog: Book (1996-03-20)
Publisher: Scribner
Sales Rank: 67240
Average Customer Review: 4.89 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Originally published in 1942, Cross Creek has become a classic in modern American literature. For the millions of readers raised on The Yearling, here is the story of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings's experiences in the remote Florida hamlet of Cross Creek, where she lived for thirteen years. From the daily labors of managing a seventy-two-acre orange grove to bouts with runaway pigs and a succession of unruly farmhands, Rawlings describes her life at the Creek with humor and spirit. Her tireless determination to overcome the challenges of her adopted home in the Florida backcountry, her deep-rooted love of the earth, and her genius for character and description result in a most delightful and heartwarming memoir. ... Read more

Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Inside the Grove
Cross Creek is located just south of Gainesville, Florida, and in spite of the urban sprawl the community is today almost as isolated as it was in 1928, when Marjorie Kennan Rawlings and her first husband Charles Rawlings purchased a farm house and citrus grove in the area. At the time of the purchase, Rawlings was a failed novelist in a bad marriage, and both farm house and grove were neglected. A decade later she was a respected writer on the eve of her most popular novel and happily divorced, and the farm and its citrus groves were very much going concerns.

Rawlings would eventually remarry, and both her second marriage and her literary success would gradually lead her away from both her farm and the Cross Creek community--but she would never leave them entirely, always returning for the inspiration that fed her best works. The property was still in her possession and still in use as both a citrus grove and occasional residence at the time of her sudden death of cerebral hemorrhage in 1953. Rawlings left the it to the University of Florida, and in 1970 the property was turned over to the State of Florida for restoration and management. Restoration was completed in 1996, and while the large citrus grove that once surrounded the farm house has been reduced to a representative portion, visitors can now see the property as it existed in the 1930s and 1940s.

Although Rawlings won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel THE YEARLING and would publish several other novels and short story collections, today her literary reputation rests largely on the book CROSS CREEK, in which she details both her own struggle on the land the lives of the community as she knew it during the 1930s. While the book is clearly autobiographical, it is not autobiography per se; she gives little attention to her personal history, preferring to focus instead on the landscape and the individuals that surround her. The stories she offers are by turns funny, sad, thoughtful, each informed by an intensely felt observation of her environment. And while critics may accuse her of having been excessively sentimental in her fiction, no such sentimentality besets this particular work. It is brilliant from start to finish.

CROSS CREEK was published in 1942, and while it is very much of its era in its depiction of rural society and racial considerations, it also proved very much ahead of its time. It is profoundly concerned with ecology long before the term was popularized, and not only are its characters vividly alive, they move against a landscape that is as alive as they, a landscape that at once harsh and nurturing, at once giving and indifferent, and throughout the text (and most particularly in its final chapter) Rawlings repeatedly takes the point of view that we are not the owners of the earth, but its trustees; its care is in our hands.

I have read CROSS CREEK several times, and I returned to it in the wake of a visit to the Rawlings farm in 2003--and while it is not necessary to actually visit Cross Creek in order to fall in love with this book, they each inform the other. The book is somewhat obscure; the community of Cross Creek is difficult to find on the map and awkward to reach, hardly a place you would stumble upon by accident. It must be reached in deliberation. The guide at the Rawlings farm told me that in spite of this they received some forty thousand visitors from around the world each year--visitors drawn by the power of Rawlings' work and a determination to share in the environment she so loved. That is both testament and recommendation enough.

--GFT (Amazon Reviewer)--

5-0 out of 5 stars To Live the Life One Wishes to Live...
Cross Creek is one of the finest memoirs ever written, filled with the grace and beauty of fine writing from one of America's greatest writers, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Perhaps no other writer has so perfectly and honestly captured a place and time like Rawlings did in Cross Creek. It will transport you to that small acreage of backwoods Florida and cause you to wish for a life such as this.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings purchased a seventy-two acre orange grove in this remote area and fled her aristocratic life in the city to perfect her craft and get published. It is here all her beloved books would be born, including this memoir covering the years of hardships and beauty at the creek. Rawlings herself would become a part of the earth and land as she was reborn here in Cross Creek and would leave behind literary achievements such as South Moon Under, Golden Apples, When the Whipporwll, Cross Creek Cookery, and of course, her Pulitzer winner, The Yearling.

Her close relationships with her neighbors at the creek, both black and white, are told with humor and humanity. Their lives were often filled with hardships but serenity as well, for all of them had chosen to live this kind of life rather than conform to society. Especially poignant are Rawlings's observations of a young destitute (even for the creek) couple who would be portrayed so movingly in her short story, Jacob's Ladder.

Rawlings's recollections of her friendship with Moe and his daughter Mary, who was his reason for living and the only one in his family, including his wife, who cared when he came or went, are told with such beauty we feel pain ourselves when he takes his last breath at the creek. Her deep friendships over the years with Tom and Old Martha are told with humor, honesty and a gift for description few have ever had. Tinged with sadness is Rawlings's relationship both as employer and friend to 'Geechee. Rawlings would attempt to help her to no avail as this sweet personality slowly became an unemployable alcoholic, her mistreatment at the hands of a womanizer unworthy of her love at the heart of her problem. It is perhaps at the bottom of a few bitter comments from Rawlins.

But Cross Creek is about the earth and our relationship to it. When we stray from it we become less because it is a part of us. Rawlings came to believe over time that when we lose this connection to the earth, we lose a part of ourselves. The great and wondrous beauty of nature, from magnolia blossoms and rare herbs to Hayden mangos and papaya, are as much a part of this memoir as the people. Particularly hilarious are Rawlings's descriptions of a 'pet' racoon of mischievious nature and such cantankerous disposition as to almost seem human. Rawlings's world at the creek is perhaps her legacy, a gift given to the reader we can never forget.

In order to enjoy this memoir, however, one must read the entire book, taking into consideration a number of factors. Published in 1942 and covering many years prior in a backwoods area of Florida, at a time when racial equality was a distant dream, some may be offended by Rawlings's casual, though never mean spirited observations. Rawlings honestly relates actual conversations from this time and place between blacks and whites, and blacks to other blacks. Rawlings treated everyone fairly but a long string of farmhands prone to drink and violence, including the one who would destroy her friend and employee 'Geechee, prompted her to lump an entire race into one group, her friends at the creek being exceptions.

Her thoughts on the matter, which are included in one of the 23 chapters, do not really fit in with the rest of this memoir. Having first read this over twenty years ago I did not recall it, and it certainly gave me pause. It is only proof, that even someone as intelligent and literate as Rawlings, can intellectualize a misguided view until it sounds right. Taking everything into consideration I do not feel it should keep anyone from reading this most beautiful and heartwarming of memoirs. But others may feel differently, and have a right to do so.

Rawlings's graceful prose, whether describing a chorus of frogs singing at night as a Brahms waltz, the scent of hibiscus drifting through the air at dusk, or a myraid of dishes meticulously prepared and labored over for hours, is delightful and unforgettable. Cross Creek will make you hungry for succulent fruits, cornbread an hot biscuits with wild plum jelly, and most of all, life. Reading this lovingly written memoir will leave you with a wistful desire to walk away from society as Rawlings did and live the life we crave in our very being, even if it is not possible, and can only be lived in our hearts.....

"Cross Creek belongs to the wind and the rain, to the sun and the seasons, to the cosmic secrecy of seed, and beyond all, to time."
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

5-0 out of 5 stars A Timeless Classic
As a native Floridian (although transplanted now to South Carolina), I have found the works of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings to be a welcomed homecoming and a delightful insight into the "frontier" Florida life of the 1930s and '40s. Rawlings' words are timeless because they animate a timeless period in Florida history--when things were still largely rural, natural, and undisturbed by capital investment and the tourism boon of the last thirty-plus years. "Cross Creek," moreover, is the perfect introduction to Rawlings for the uninitiated, a moving narrative of her life and career amid the backwoods and streams of a bygone Florida. Yet "Cross Creek" is not simply an autobiography; it is a lavish tale in itself. I highly recommend it.

I also suggest the motion picture version of "Cross Creek," starring Mary Steenburgen and Peter Coyote (1982?). It has recently been re-released, so you should be able to find a copy easily. The movie is perhaps "even better" than the book, with its stunning cinematography of the natural beauties of Florida woods, creeks, rivers, and swamps. It stays fairly true to the book, as well, and Steenburgen and Coyote are endearing as Rawlings and Norton Baskin. Rip Torn is another wonderful addition to the cast.

Pick both of these up today!

5-0 out of 5 stars Authentic old south and old Florida
It was very disconserting to me to read the reviews on this book and and see the term " racism " used so much. Ms. Rawlings revealed the old south and old Florida as it was and is and will always will be. Accept it or don't waste your time reading this marvelous book of the old south of and of old Florida. Robert G. Holloway

4-0 out of 5 stars A Book One Might Compare
In the late thirties and early forties two women writers were finding in the area of the St.John's river in northeast Florida a basis for their stories, true or imagined. These two women were Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, who had discovered north Florida, and Zora Neale Hurston, who left it for New York City. Today Hurston's reputation is very great while Rawlings, who remains widely read, is generally considered sentimental. I have often thought it would be interesting to teach a class that included both Hurston and Rawlings, particularly so that one could address straight-on issues of Race in Rawlings's Cross Creek. The stories of black and white living at Cross Creek might be illumined by Hurston's stories, their uses of dialect compared, their attachment to an environment explored. I like Cross Creek, have liked it for many years, but I have always wished I could read it in the context of what the black population actually thought. Hurston might help me to do that. The best parts of Rawlings are her sensitivity to the natural world and her open acceptance of just about everybody. She lived in a world and tried to undersand it, not reform it, but it would be interesting to see how Hurston plays against her. ... Read more

15. The Coalwood Way
by Homer Hickam
list price: $6.99
our price: $6.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0440237165
Catlog: Book (2001-09-04)
Publisher: Island Books
Sales Rank: 11635
Average Customer Review: 4.82 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

From the #1 bestselling author of October Sky comes this rich, unforgettable tale. With the same dazzling storytelling that distinguished his first memoir, Homer Hickam takes us deeper into the soul of his West Virginia hometown at a moment when its unique way of life is buffeted by forces of time and change.

It is fall 1959. Homer “Sonny” Hickam and his fellow Rocket Boys are in their senior year at Big Creek High, and the town of Coalwood finds itself at a painful crossroads.

The strains can be felt within the Hickam home, where Homer Sr. struggles to save the mine, and his wife, Elsie, is feeling increasingly isolated from both her family and the townspeople. Sonny, despite a blossoming relationship with a local girl, finds his own mood darkened by an unexplainable sadness.

Then, with the holidays approaching, trouble at the mine and the arrival of a beautiful young outsider bring unexpected changes in both the Hickam family and the town of Coalwood ... as this luminous memoir moves toward its poignant conclusion.
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Reviews (56)

5-0 out of 5 stars This book ROX!!!!!!!
I absolutely love this timeless classic by Homer Hickam! I'm just 17 years old, but know an awesome story when I read one! Homer's first book Rocket Boys changed my life. His book made me realize what life has in store for you when you take risks! The Coalwood Way is an excellent 2nd book in this "series". Mr. Hickam writes in such a way that it grasps you and wont let you quit reading. His style is perfect to read out loud to students in a classsroom setting. In fact, I plan on reading these books to my class when I become the band teacher I've always wanted to be. Thanx Mr. Hickam for this truly generous and awesome look into your exciting life as a coalwood boy!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Deeply Satisfying Memoir
If you enjoyed Homer Hickam's Rocket Boys or the movie October Sky, this book is for you. Homer doesn't so much pick up where he left off at the end of Rocket Boys, but rather returns to the fullness of his senior high school year. He weaves a tapestry that provides detail in breadth and depth that keeps the pages turning. You'll suddenly discover it's well past bedtime and you are content to keep reading.

Homer discovers truths about himself and others, even as he's about to move away from home. There is always more to learn from one's parents. There are many emotional highs and lows in Coalwood, but lessons learned from both will leave you feeling hopeful for the human spirit. The people of Coalwood continue to display a dogged determination to get though the difficulties, even if they stumble along the way. Not one to cry easily, I found my eyes welling up with tears during the last chapter. It is possible to find great joy and beauty in hard times.

Homer doesn't miss on emotion. There's anger, joy, fear, excited anticipation, sorrow, laughter, and contentment. You may very well learn something about yourself while reading The Coalwood Way. I highly recommend it!

5-0 out of 5 stars I've said it before and I'll say it again:
How many wonderful works of literature were we denied by Homer Hickam (not Hickham or Hickman) going into Industrial Engineering?

This is the type of book that makes you yearn for the simpler, more innocent times of your childhood, no matter when you grew up. Something in each of us can identify with the antics of the Rocket Boys.

I sure hope that Mr. Hickam continues to write more wonderful books such as this one and all his other works.

4-0 out of 5 stars main character is engaging, flawed, well written.
Written by the same author of October Sky, about the same period in his childhood, the COALWOOD WAY and OCTOBER SKY cover the exact same themes-a son trying to shine despite the disappointment/disapproval of his father, rocket trial and error, etc-and have the exact same arcs. Minor characters and sub plots are different, however, and are very poignant and engaging.The protagonist, Sonny is an earnest boy with enough flaws to make him interesting. He is smart yet a little too proud; a friend but sometimes too self-centered to see when his closest friends are in trouble; he's handsome yet can't get a date to the senior dance. These imperfections make him the perfect Everyman, easy to root for. Minor characters are well drawn, and some are heartbreaking to watch. Dreama's tragic arc is painful but gives the story a darkness and depth. Her ostracization by town snobs is well-depicted, and shows that the author didn't just sail through his childhood without noticing the little evils that men do. Great read.

3-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining memoir
This is not to the same level of The Rocket Boys, which is a story much better told. However, The Coalwood Way is an interesting read, especially for those who truly liked The Rocket Boys.

For one thing, i was a bit disappointed about the author's foreword. He swears that even though the events in the book passed so long ago (1959), he remembers everything in tremendous detail. If he hadn't said that, i wouldn't have even thought about it. As a person with very bad memory, i don't believe him.

Some of the characters are described to a point that they almost seem caricatures. I couldn't help think of Martin on The Simpsons when reading about Quentin. Roy Lee reminded me of Elvis Presley in one of his cheesy movies.

The memoir almost redeemed itself in page 267 (chapter 27), when Sonny finally realizes what has been bugging him all along (here's something i wish i had done: jot down the items on Sonny's list as you read along). That discovery makes the book worthwhile. However, the memoir ends with the Christmas Pageant, and that image really ruined the moment for me. ... Read more

16. Bryson City Seasons: More Tales Of A Doctor's Practice In The Smoky Mountains
by Walt, M.D. Larimore, Walter L. Larimore
list price: $18.99
our price: $12.91
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0310252873
Catlog: Book (2004-10-01)
Publisher: Zondervan Publishing Company
Sales Rank: 28273
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Book Description

Dr. Larimore and his family are back in this hilarious, dramatic, and poignant sequel that follows this real doctor’s second year of practice in a rural mountain town. ... Read more

17. Nine Years Among the Indians, 1870-1879: The Story of the Captivity and Life of a Texan Among the Indians
by Herman Lehmann, Marvin J. Hunter
list price: $17.95
our price: $12.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0826314171
Catlog: Book (1993-05-01)
Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
Sales Rank: 101801
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Where The Arrowhead In Your Garden Came From
The older farmers of my childhood remembered the last Indians from a time before plows and pavement. Ours was an Indian land not long ago. This man's sharp memories, though not for the squeamish, are a window on that world before and while it was snatched from them. This is a fascinating book - a fast, enjoyable read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Stunning
An absolutely mesmerizing account of the capture, survival and ultimately return to frontier Fredericksburg, Texas. An insiders look at Native American existence, its differing cultures, its taboos and its different forms of organization. It is not a pretty picture.

5-0 out of 5 stars Riveting, passionate, humorous, violent--a great read!
In events strikingly similar but less well-chronicled to those taking place on the Northern Plains, the 1870's witnessed the demise of the Southern Plains Indians--Apaches, Lipans, Commanches. Enter this young Henry Lehmann, an eleven-year old white taken from his frontier family by an Apache raiding party. Over the next ten years he matures from captive slave to fully "Indianized" warrior, only to ultimately (and reluctantly) reunite with his family. This amazing firsthand account details Indian life as it reached a violent climax with encroaching white settlement. A real page-turner and a must read for those interested in Plains Indians and Texas frontier history. ... Read more

18. An Hour Before Daylight : Memoirs of a Rural Boyhood
by Jimmy Carter
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743211995
Catlog: Book (2001-10-16)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 2968
Average Customer Review: 4.54 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In An Hour Before Daylight, Jimmy Carter, bestselling author of Living Faith and Sources of Strength, re-creates his Depression-era boyhood on a Georgia farm before the civil rights movement forever changed it and the country. Carter writes about the powerful rhythms of countryside and community in a sharecropping economy, offering an unforgettable portrait of his father, a brilliant farmer and a strict segregationist who treated black workers with respect and fairness; his strong-willed and well-read mother; and the five other people who shaped his early life, three of whom were black.

Carter's clean and eloquent prose evokes a time when the cycles of life were predictable and simple and the rules were heartbreaking and complex. In his singular voice and with a novelist's gift for detail, Jimmy Carter creates a sensitive portrait of an era that shaped the nation and recounts a classic, American story of enduring importance. ... Read more

Reviews (56)

5-0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading
I was 5 years old when Jimmy Carter left office. As a child I remember hearing that he was just a peanut farmer. I didn't realize until later that going from peanut farmer to president was part of the American Dream. As an adult I have come to appreciate and admire Jimmy Carter for his character, I wanted to know more about his life, and was anxious to read An Hour Before Daylight.

An Hour Before Daylight is a charming book. What struck me most was the humility with which the autobiography was written. At times it seems the book is more about Jimmy Carters childhood friends and his family, than himself. Most of the direct references to his behavior are times he had to be punished or when he made mistakes. Really it is not a book about one man, but about a farm, its owners and workers, in the segregated South.

Aside from being about a past US president, this book provides an intimate window into life in the South. It will be warm and typical to those raised in the South. To me, being raised and schooled in the Midwest, it was a peak at a culture I never totally understood. The book is written with unusual frankness, and provides details, which others certainly would have left out, rather than embarrasses themselves or their families.

Defiantly a worthwhile read.

5-0 out of 5 stars A President Comes of Age.
Using a journalist's eye, and introspect's heart, Jimmy Carter tells a warm and compelling tale of the times, places and people who shaped his life.

Humbly examining the elements of his youth, Jimmy Carter recounts his earliest impressions of segregation, politics, and life and death.

Jimmy Carters style is natural and compelling, and his honest appraisal of his families past is both frank and welcoming.

Clearly a man of great humilty, Jimmy Carter appraises his actions in the face of racism, expressing both pride and regret, he never blames his failings on anyone, or anything, but his own lack of understanding.

In the latter chapters of this book, Jimmy Carter closes in on his incompleted relationship with his stern but loyal father - a relationship that both shaped and confounded him.

This book is a wonderfully paced read, with the selfeffacing warmth of a Jean Shepherd tale wrapped around the sepia toned history of one of America's greatest living leaders. This is a great read.

3-0 out of 5 stars My grandma loved this book
My grandma sure seemed to like this book a hell of alot. She mentions it everytime we see her. I figres it must be worth 3 stars at least.

4-0 out of 5 stars The sepia toned boyhood of Jimmy Carter
Reading this book, it's easy to understand why the ex-president insisted, "It's Jimmy. Just call me Jimmy." I wasn't much of a Carter fan during the man's presidency but have since come to appreciate him greatly, mostly for his honesty, sincerity, and humanity. An Hour Before Daylight makes it easy to understand how he became the person he still in.
Born on a Georgia farm during the Depression, Carter grew up in the days of rigid segregation, but at the same time all his friends were black children. He writes lucidly, sometimes lyrically and with strong nostalgia for an era of American history long past.
It's definitely worth a read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Needs a colorful cover
My mother gave me a copy for Christmas. We live just a stone's throw from Plains and she grew up very similarly. This reminds me of John Boy musing on the Walton's TV show or Mark Twain's colorful characters. Carter is a master farmer and gives a wealth of agriculture and outdoor information. As a librarian I put a copy in our library and think it belongs in every library! This is one of the best rural Depression era Americana. The cover is much too drab for the colorful characters inside. ... Read more

19. Wild Card Quilt : The Ecology of Home
by Janisse Ray
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1571312781
Catlog: Book (2004-09-09)
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Sales Rank: 173219
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Book Description

Seventeen years after she'd left home "for good," Janisse Ray pointed her truck away from Montana and back to the small southern town where she was born. Wild Card Quilt is the story, by turns hilarious, heartbreaking, and ambitious, of the adventures of returning home. For Ray, it is a story of linking the ecology of people with the ecology of place - of recovering lost traditions as she works to restore the fractured ecosystem of her native South. Her story is filled with syrup boils, quilt making, alligator trapping, and the wonderful characters of a place where generations still succeed each other on the land. But her town is also in need of repair, physical and otherwise. Ray works to save her local school, sets up a writing group at the local hardware store, and struggles with whether she can be an adult in a childhood place. ... Read more

20. Brother to a Dragonfly
by Will D. Campbell, Jimmy Carter
list price: $26.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0826412963
Catlog: Book (2000-08-01)
Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group
Sales Rank: 605068
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Bond Between Brothers
This book sets the standard for brotherly love: through the joyous days of youth, through sickness, through the reversal of who worships who, each standing up for the other no matter what.

This book also wrestles with faith, guilt before the law versus guilt before God, examines stereotypes and throws them away.

"Suddenly I knew a lot of things I had not known before. I knew that I had been caught in my own trap. (In a discussion with a Klansman) Suddenly I knew that we are a nation of Klansmen. I knew that as a nation we stood for peace, harmony and freedom in that war (Vietnam), that we defined the words, and that the means we were employing to accomplish those ends were identical with the ones he had listed."

Follow Will Campbell in his journey with his brother and your horizons will be broadened.

5-0 out of 5 stars The finest coming of age story I have encountered
Brother to a dragonfly, Will D Campbell's brilliant,evocative, nostalgic luminous memoir teels the story of his family in the pre-tva rural south. Though much much more then a simple coming of age story,it is the story of 2 brothers,their lives amid the greatest change in this ountry since the civil war. Will D Campbell and his brother Joe stories are told so movingly,and with such deep power that ,by the end it will move you to tears. It is the sory of a man,family,RELIGION,the south,race,addiction,love and death. It will shatter any preconcieved notions and stereotypes,for Will D Campell is a true iconoclast. I run out of superlatives to describe this book. Read it.

5-0 out of 5 stars one of my top 10
This is a truly wonderful autobiography. Anyone who has a brother (especially Southerners) should read this chronicle of growing up in Mississippi. I loved it so much I shared it with my Northern friends, and they loved it too. If you aren't moved by this work, check your pulse.

5-0 out of 5 stars The most profound book I have read. A courageous work.
No other book that I have read has demonstrated the courage that Campbell took to look at personal family heartache, popular social cause, and politically unpopular issues. Campbell's message tells the reader his struggles, but does not tell the reader what to think. He has had the courage to bare his thoughts.

5-0 out of 5 stars Campbell's first book an instant classic
Will D. Campbell, civil rights activist, itenerant baptist preacher, and author extrodinaire hit the homeroom first time up with this wonderful biography/autobiography. It sends tears to my eyes every time I read it. It should be on everyone's top 100 novels of all time! ... Read more

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