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$16.47 $4.99 list($24.95)
61. Street Justice
$2.25 list($13.95)
62. Dancing with the Witchdoctor :
$10.85 $2.30 list($15.95)
63. I Dreamed of Africa
$14.95 $12.96
64. Single in Saudi
$13.57 $13.14 list($19.95)
65. A House in Bali
$4.84 list($24.95)
66. French Spirits: A House, a Village,
$10.46 $9.13 list($13.95)
67. Tuva or Bust! Richard Feynman's
$17.46 $4.47 list($24.95)
68. The Olive Season: Amour, a New
$10.20 list($15.00)
69. The Village of Waiting
$10.88 $10.40 list($16.00)
70. It's All Greek to Me! : A Tale
$10.17 $1.94 list($14.95)
71. Dances with Luigi : A Grandson's
$9.00 $1.98 list($12.00)
72. Dear Exile : The True Story of
73. The Last American Sailors: A Wild
$8.21 $5.00 list($10.95)
74. The Wild Muir: Twenty-Two of John
$13.57 $13.09 list($19.95)
75. Flying the Alaska Wild: The Adventures
$10.20 $8.84 list($15.00)
76. Angry White Pyjamas : A Scrawny
$22.99 $17.23
77. Through Different Eyes: An Immigrant's
$16.50 $11.98 list($25.00)
78. Searching for Hassan: An American
$10.17 $9.91 list($14.95)
79. On the Edge of Nowhere
$16.07 $11.46 list($22.95)
80. The Cloud Garden : A True Story

61. Street Justice
by Chuck Zito, Joe Layden
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312301243
Catlog: Book (2002-10-16)
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Sales Rank: 173451
Average Customer Review: 3.27 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

From the streets of Brooklyn to the set of Oz.From Hells Angel to celebrity bodyguard.The revealing autobiography of an American man.

Chuck Zito comes by his reputation honestly as one of the toughest, most uncompromising men ever to sit astride a Harley.Now, with tales both hilarious and chilling, violent and truthful, Zito tells his life story in his own words.

From growing up on the mean streets of Brooklyn and the Bronx, where fighting was a way of life, to becoming president of the New York chapter of the Hells Angels, to the wild and crazy life of protecting some of the world's biggest celebrities, Zito might be seen as a latter-day outlaw, the last of a dying breed of men.But throughout his tempestuous days, one thing defined him: his unfailing sense of justice, of what's really right and what's really wrong.That's how Zito found himself facing his biggest challenge: refusing to cooperate with a federal investigation into his brothers, the Hells Angels, and in the process losing the very thing he cherished most-his freedom.

Zito's astonishing recovery from this experience, and the unique kind of stardom he forged based on hard work and sheer will, is a testament to his courage, his ambition, and his indomitable heart-a testament now recorded unflinchingly in Street Justice.
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Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars Kick...!
Aside from an incoherant forward by Sean Penn, this book kicks ...! Whether you're a real tough guy or [not], Chuck Zito's story will put your own exploits in perspective. It's the fast, entertaining, well written story of an American icon that too few people know about. In a time of foppish, flippant yuppies and ...disrespectful wrestlers- this book will make you long for the days when being a man actually meant something.

All hail the king- Chuck Zito!

4-0 out of 5 stars A Likeable Guy Comes Clean
I liked this book alot. Chuck comes clean with his own insecurities and regrets even though he lives the 'tough guy' life. It is an honest monologue about growing up in NY and becoming involved in a lifestyle that todays posers want to emulate but can't. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about Chuck Zito, who obviously set his own course and sailed it.

5-0 out of 5 stars The REAL Rocky Balboa...
No, not Sly Stallone. Chuck Zito. I've never been the violent type. But I can't say I've never wanted to sock someone in the lip for mouthing off. Let's just say that I was able to live vicariously through Chuck Zito's autobiography. What I found to be most interesting was the level of detail associated with his stories of brutality. Additionally, he gives a SCARY account of prison - it's no wonder HBO hired him as a consultant/actor for the hit series OZ. WARNING: This book is not for the squeamish. His book is graphic and often times disturbing - just the kind of reading material to keep my attention! Now, I'm not one to read a book cover-to-cover over the course of three days. But this was just "one of those books" I couldn't put down. If you're interested in a first-hand account of bike gangs, violence, and prison, then this is the book for you. I would venture to say that the most memorable part of this book was the beatdown Chuck Zito delivered to Jean-Claude VanDamm at Scores Gentleman's Club in New York City - it's classic. Upon reading this book, I couldn't help but realize how truly "boring" my life was in the context of things. Please feel free to disagree with my opinion; let us compare opinions, invite a few more points of view, and debate, like the humans we are.

1-0 out of 5 stars THIS THING SUCKED
Almost unreadable drivel written -or ghost written- by a wanna be celebrity. Hated it.

4-0 out of 5 stars he beat up jean claude van damm he cant be a bad guy !
I read this book in a period of about 4 days it was very interesting to say the least. The book of course starts from when he was a kid going all the way through adulthood to his role on oz and the jobs he has had between bodyguard, bouncer. I know there was a ghost writer but i think the thing that kept it from a 5 star book for me was the constant park the car, get off the bike and punch somebodys lights out and keep going we all know that he and the angels are all tough guys no need to keep putting it in peoples faces through the whole book but I enjoyed reading it. ... Read more

62. Dancing with the Witchdoctor : One Woman's Stories of Mystery and Adventure in Africa
by Kelly James
list price: $13.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060933909
Catlog: Book (2002-12-01)
Publisher: Perennial
Sales Rank: 35095
Average Customer Review: 4.68 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (25)

5-0 out of 5 stars Inspirational Adventures out of Africa
Dancing with the Witchdoctor is a marvelous book, all the more remarkable because it is Kelly James' first one. This account of some of her experiences as a private investigator in Africa reads like a well-crafted novel, a page turner at that. But as she says in the preface, these tales are not about her. James' aim is to tell the stories of women she met and the extraordinary ways they prevailed against the challenges of ordinary life in Africa in these troubled times. She succeeds with gusto.

James calls them "heroines," and does them proud. Among others, she introduces us to the Watusi women of Rwanda, to Moana of Mozambique, and to Lua, a Turkana woman who saves Kelly's life. The qualities James admires in these people come through in the text: courage, compassion, commitment. I found inspiration here.

The land, the elements themselves, have presence in Dancing with the Witchdoctor, notably the unceasing winds of Lake Turkana and the rainforest home of the mountain gorillas. The book smacks of Africa. The beat of life that drew James to that continent resounds in these pages.

This book defies categorization. One Seattle book store originally put it under travel, until an employee who had read it, said "no way." Another has it under World History for some reason. Call it an adventure story (which it is), and people think fiction. Say it's a memoir, and watch people yawn. It's by a woman about women, but it's not a "woman's book," or if it is, you certainly don't have to be a female to treasure it.

One category this book certainly fits: Damn Good Read!

5-0 out of 5 stars Truth more fascinating than fiction
Private investigator Kelly Clark has an adventurous spirit. That spirit leads her to take investigative contracts on the forgotten continent of Africa. She stares death in the face and somehow lives to write about it.

That synposis sounds like a page-turning novel, but this book is much better because it is true. Kelly James is a red-headed American who fell in love with adventure when she as a youngster and tells of her African experience in four stirring vignettes. She is a modern renaissance woman. A master of African culture, regional history and the human condition. She also writes incredibly well.

This book is not for the weak or soft any more than Indiana Jones would appeal to those of high sensitivities. James' Africa is harsh and real. As the sun beats down, mankind also often does the same to its fellow earthly inhabitants. But the lessons James teaches are invaluable. Her love for Africa and its people is indisputable. James teaches us lessons poignantly and with page-turning adventure. Western arrogance can be very dangerous.

A must-read, I recommend this book to all readers who don't need life candy-coated. A winner!

5-0 out of 5 stars Not one boring sentence and the action never stops. Great!
I love true stories about adventures in faraway places. And this fine book certainly meets that test. Kelly James gives us a short introductory chapter in which she describes her upbringing on a ranch in the American northwest. She was raised to ride and shoot and live with adventure. Soon, she realized she didn't want to be relegated to a typical female role in life. And so she became a private investigator and has traveled all over the world in a wide variety of international business investigations. Mostly, she works in Africa and the book is comprised of four separate stories about a few unique assignments.

Her writing style is fast-paced, breezy and has the sense of adventure that obviously drives her life. There's not one boring sentence in the whole book and the action never stops. I read these stories with the kind of attention that kept me breathless and turning the pages as something new happens on every page. And my sense of wonder at her bravery and willingness to take risks never ceased. I just couldn't stop reading and was sorry when this 235-page book ended.

In the first story she investigates a mysterious death of a wealthy plantation owner. In the second story she travels into the depths of gorilla country. In the third story she helps a young man visit his war-torn land. And, in the last story, she is hired to investigate a young female African doctor's disappearance. Often, she fines herself in personal danger and has is forced to survive in a very hostile environment. Each one of these stories kept my eyes glued to the page. I couldn't put the book down until they were finished.

"Dancing With the Witchdoctor" was a mini-adventure for me. It brought me to places I've only dreamed of visiting and made me identify with the author's courage, stamina and sense of adventure. For me, reading this book was like being picked up by a whirlwind and experiencing the trip of my life. I loved it!

Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars A story of strong women
I loved how Kelly James wrote a book honoring the women she met in her adventures in Africa, instead of just describing those adventures. The sights and sounds in this book will stay with me a long time.

The story, Gorillas and Banana Beer, is a tale of hope in the face of no possible reason to hope, of a young man's discovery of a reason to live and give back when he found no life in our culture, of the bravery and strength and endurance of those who are trying to protect the children and gorillas. This story and the others are too powerful to describe.

Remind yourself again that America is not all there is to the world.

1-0 out of 5 stars Myths of Africa
I lived in Beira, Mozambique for two years in the early 1980s, researching the history of women in that city, and I returned for a week-long visit at the end of that decade, so I was very interested to read Kelly James' account - her 24-hour visit to Beira some unspecific time in the 1980s makes up one chapter in this book. I found absolutely nothing that I recognized - not the hotel name, not the descriptions of the harbor, not the portraits of expatriates who were there, not the ubiquituous "shelters," nor her potted history of Mozambique - every detail rang false. By the time I finished this chapter I wondered if she had perhaps been somewhere else entirely, or had fabricated the visit out of whole cloth. I did not read any other chapters after the exceedingly disappointing experience with this one, as I have no trust in the observations or analysis of this author. I find it horrifying that this kind of writing that harks back to the "dark continent" stories of a century ago can still get published by major publishing houses. She has certainly written an adventure story, but I believe it belongs in the fiction aisle. ... Read more

63. I Dreamed of Africa
by Kuki Gallmann
list price: $15.95
our price: $10.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140287442
Catlog: Book (2000-04-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 171583
Average Customer Review: 3.81 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (58)

5-0 out of 5 stars I Dreamed of Africa-- a review
This book is the type of rare work that draws its readers into a whole other world by making them see and feel everything that the storyteller does. We become almost a part of the life of this extraordinary woman and her passion not only for Kenya and Africa but simply for life and living. Each one of us dreams of some place or ideal as we grow, but few of us are fortunate or determined enough to turn those dreams into realities and go on to live them. Kuki Gallman along with her husband and children shows us what it is like to achieve and live our dreams and at what cost our dreams sometimes come. "I Dreamed of Africa" is a lyrical, magical account of one woman, her family, and the people and customs of the last continent in our world that truly has a soul. The message of this book and Kuki's continuing mission to preserve that world will stay with all who read it and they will be better for it.

4-0 out of 5 stars this book has (homo sapiens) legs
there are two types of popular books about east africa: thosemacho male memoirs aping the hemingway big bwana mystique, andfeminized memoirs penned by intuitive, thoughtful, grounded women whose affinity to the land and its wildness brings to mind concepts like gaia or 'earth mothers". this book obviously belongs to the second camp--it's powerful in its lyrical and poetic evocation of the life, with her second husband and son, that she created on a huge ranch in a region teeming with black rhino, lions, and elephants. yet impending tragedy hovers over almost every page--her husband dies in a car accident, her son dies from a puff adder snake bite--and though you know beforehand that these deaths will occur, you still can't help but shed a sympathetic tear. she is a survivor, who won't let africa beat her down; her support system includes a large staff of ranchhands, servants, anti-poaching security team, and a tight coterie of well-heeled neighbors who own large ranches and drop by in their airplanes. ms. gallmann has recently created a wildlife conservation reserve on her ranch, and one feels that her efforts to protect the vanishing wildlife and local culture is quite admirable.but there is a question that is never answered--how does a young family from italy come to kenya, and buy a ranch the size of san francisco. with what or whose money? there is definitely a whiff of colonialism here, as if to say, it is up to the european landed gentry, newcomers to a foreign land, to teach the locals proper respect for the region by ironically relying on the locals' time-honored modes of adaptation. ms. gellmann is certainly not a snob, and she does learn swahili and many local customs, and she treats her staff like an extended family, but think about it--wouldn't it be great if one of us can have the ability and means to buy a small country in which to live. out here, in san francisco, it's hard enough to rent a two-bedroom flat.

5-0 out of 5 stars I laughed and cried...
This book is a testimony to the human spirit and how one can overcome extreme adversity and channel that into productive life altering experiences.

I laughed and cried and didn't want this book to end. It was so motivating and not at all pretentious. It made me feel as though I could accomplish anything by merely wanting it enough. Mrs Gallman articulated the surroundings so well that it made you feel as though you were sitting next to her. I mourned each time something horrid occurred and laughed at the little things in her every day experiences.

1-0 out of 5 stars I Dreamed of Not Having Read This Book
I am utterly stunned that this book got so many positive reviews from readers. I got about two-thirds of the way through it before I finally let myself quit reading it.

Gallman has lead an interesting life; there's no question of that. The only trouble is, she's not a good writer. She tends to tell the reader things--like that her son was a special person--rather than showing us. And she tries way too hard to add mystical foreshadowing. Example: her son was killed from a poisonous snakebite. Years before, when he got his first pet python, she said that she felt uneasy. This is supposed to show us, the readers, how in tune with the world she is, how she's probably psychic. Excuse me, but I think any mother would be a little uneasy about their child having a lethal pet.

Do not waste your time with this boring, painful book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Take this book for what it is
I have little to add to the other positive reviews of this book; but half the reviewers seem to be criticising the author, rather than the book. While I do not deny it has faults (the fact that English is not the author's first language sometimes weakens the expression of her clearly genuine feelings)I am astonished at the resentment expressed in many reviews. Specifically, over the fact that the author happens to be a white and presumably wealthy European - as though this fact automatically makes her a hypocrite and her views and experiences less worthy... and furthermore, that this a fault of the book itself! Judge the book on its own worth, instead of making moralistic judgments about the author.

Ms Gallman doesn't claim this is the ultimate African story - it is the personal story of her life, her deep love of Africa and of her friends and family, and in my opinion of her remarkably brave journey. Many reviewers seem to criticise this book for failing to be what it was never intended to be in the first place.

Oh, and all the spiteful comments about the "rich white Europeans" owning airplanes!!!

For God's sake, we are not talking about private luxury jets here! Clearly reviewers have completely disregarded that this is AFRICA, where people have immense properties, where it takes hours and hours to drive on dusty and dangerous roads to your nearest neighbours. How some people have gained the impression they were simply flitting about in style for their own pleasure is quite beyond me. About the only way of practical transport to most places was by plane, and it would seem these were small and often rundown planes, where people took their life in their hands each time they flew them. So please, get over the fact that most people had planes!! ... Read more

64. Single in Saudi
by Genia
list price: $14.95
our price: $14.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1403368368
Catlog: Book (2002-11-01)
Publisher: Authorhouse
Sales Rank: 260941
Average Customer Review: 3.67 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (12)

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting - but more on a "fiction level"
I have been in KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and had hoped to read about a similar experience by another american woman. As a muslim and probably a bit more serious person, I was s a bit shocked at what the author wrote. There is an old saying "One who looks for trouble will surely find it." Genia definitely went out of her way to find "trouble." Her behaviour (heavy drinking, drug use, flirting, casual sex) as well as her less conservative (for arab standards) dress probably was like a green-light for those saudi men that Genia mentiones in the book. --- Genia's story, unfortunately does not mention many of the decent Saudis, that would have never behaved so debauched. --
In all, I felt like the book was written more like a Jackie Collins novel, then an account of an american nurse's 2 year-stay in the Kingdom. Perhaps, had it been different, the book (and the story) would have been less interesting for western readers.

1-0 out of 5 stars Incorrect English is very distracting.
I had trouble following the story due to poor sentence construction and mis-spelled words. The last time I checked there was no such word as noone and it was used numerous times throughout the book. I have read many interesting books about Saudi, especially Jean Sasson's "Princess" series, but "Single In Saudi" was more about her sex life than about the lifestyles of Saudi. Very disapointing book but would have been slightly better if a proofreader had been used.

3-0 out of 5 stars Over-sexed in Saudi
This book was a page turner - the descriptions of her experiences in the medical field in such a different country, her travels during off times, the people she met were very intriguing. I had just finished reading all of Jean Sasson's books on life in the royal family of Saudi Arabia and was eager to read of this author's "American girl" experience. The author seemed very competent and together in her two years there but I was totally turned off by her social life. Was she exaggerating the amount of alcohol and drugs she consumed along with her overly-abundant sex life?? This was a bit over the top and hard to believe a top-notch nurse could abuse her body like that and live to tell the story. Her respectability in the eyes of this reader regrettably took a downslide as the book progressed due to her seeming need for sexual daliances with most every male she encountered. Too bad.

5-0 out of 5 stars To reader from Wa.
There are those who write. Those that can't criticize. Perhaps the reader is jealous of Genia as she told her story as she lived it. Few women have had the adventures that Genia had. Perhaps she is not Danielle Steel with the help of editors who strip her story to fluff, but her story is real and true. Genia's story is truly her experience-if it is a testimony to her self-certeredness(not selfcerterness) as written by reader from Washington, the reader should just enjoy the story and not be over critical as Genia wrote of her true life in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

1-0 out of 5 stars A Badly Written Book
I was surprised by the favorable views of this book. I don't think I've ever read one that was as badly written as this one. Poor grammar, misspelling, and poor sentence construction aside, the context and style were dismal. The entire book seemed to be a monument to the author's ego and self-centerness. There are some marvelous books out there that are far superior regarding Saudi culture. ... Read more

65. A House in Bali
by Colin McPhee
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 9625936297
Catlog: Book (2000-11-01)
Publisher: Periplus Editions
Sales Rank: 167846
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars A good read
I am Balinese and live in Ubud, about 10 minutes walk from where Colin McPhee stayed, when he came to Bali in 1931. My aunt worked for him.

He heard a record of gamelan music in New York and couldn't wait to get to Bali to listen to the real thing.

He stayed in Bali for almost 8 years and set about documenting gamelan music. Much of his research was carried out in a village near Ubud where my Villas are. There are still old people in the village who remember him.

His book is beautifully written and tells stories of his adventures and life in the village and his encounters with the local Balinese. It's not necessary to understand technical music matters to enjoy this book - it is totally accessible.

Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Quite an interesting and well presented account of Bali
It's a very interesting book in regards to what I have actually read. It seems to have accounts on Balinese culture. I found it enjoyable and interesting to read because it not only talks about Balinese culture but about the conflict and clashes within the village like the little dancer named Sampih and his dance teacher Nyoman Kaler.

Colin McPhee conveys many interesting things like when bad luck happened in his home in Sayan and how they had to do a purification ceremony in regards to dispel the demons, witches and evil spirits. His wanderings in Bali to record music and study their music like the rare gamelan angklung and gamelan selonding from Tenganan who were the Bali Aga. Colin McPhee was drawn to the scintallinating sounds and metallic shimmer from the gamelan. At times there are humours accounts of what goes on between him and his friends that happen in the village or when they are touring around Bali. I found it enjoyable because, he seemed to have fitted in well with the Balinese people without too much problems compared with other writers before them spoke of barbarity and the animal like behaviour of the Balinese at certain functions. He writes with passion about what goes on and how things have changed with the colonial rule of the Dutch. The loss of autonomy by the Rajas who were reduced to poverty at times and how their obessions with cockfighting led to their ruin. Yet in times of despair and hardship they are always humble to him.

Overall the book contains a few photographs of his friends and colleagues. I found it wonderful and intriguing and as well as captiviting at times which he covers so many topics like the temple functions like Galungan, Wayang Kulit (Shadow Plays), the music club etc... This book you will grow to love like the book written by Miguel Corrovabias "Island of Bali".

5-0 out of 5 stars Hooked!
Ever since I visited Bali in 1997, I've been hooked on anything Bali--gamelan music, the wayang puppets, the masks, the smell of kretek ( I don't smoke) and incense, frangipani flowers,... even the sputtering sound of motorcycles! I got my hands on all the National Geographic issues on Bali I could lay my hands on in second-hand bookshops .

When I found this book, I was almost certain I wasn't going to be disappointed. I was right. Consider, for instance, the blurb at the back of the book: "The graveryard, moreover, was a natural meeeting-place for witches and sorcerers, for every village had its suspects, owneres of books of spells that enabled the reader to change himself into a leyak--a ball of fire, a giant rat, or even a riderless motor cycle that travelled backwards. In this magic state sorcerers were indeed dangerous; they could send a man out of his wits or bring him to a lingering death."

Written by a musician, it doesn't fare so badly as a literary read. It captures the magic, mysticism, and soul of a place. A Bali experience is a sensory overload. Colin McPhee happily immersed himself in it and did a very impressive job.

5-0 out of 5 stars A magical view into an ancient tradition
I first read this book as an anthropology major at Harvard. I immediately wanted to go to Bali and experience it for myself. The book not only taught me about the tradition of the gamelon, but it also made me feel as if I was there. This book makes you want to pack a backpack and experience the Balinese culture .I hope to get a copy of this fine work someday.

5-0 out of 5 stars Diary of an artist charmed by heaven.
A must-read for all those, like me, have fallen in love with Bali. McPhee tells a tale that many of us would like to live...and provides us with insight of all aspects of life on the island as it was in the 30s. I don't own anymore my copy of the book and I am desperate to get one...I hope it will be reprinted. ... Read more

66. French Spirits: A House, a Village, and a Love Affair in Burgundy
by Jeffrey Greene
list price: $24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060188200
Catlog: Book (2002-03-01)
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Sales Rank: 587644
Average Customer Review: 3.77 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

When Jeffrey Greene, a prizewinning American poet, and Mary, his wife-to-be, a molecular biologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, discover a moss-covered stone presbytery in a lovely village in the Puisaye region of Burgundy, they know they have to live there. With an unabashed joie de vivre, they begin the arduous process of procuring their slice of paradise amid the wild beauty of the French countryside -- a place of gentle farmlands and dense forests, of rivers and lakes, of stunning fields bursting with the color and heady scent of wildflowers.

French Spirits is the magical tale of their odyssey to become not just homeowners but Burgundians. In lush, lyrical prose, Greene recalls their experiences turning the three-hundred-year-old stone building -- a "château in miniature," which the locals believe houses numerous spirits--into a habitable refuge. He brings to life their adventures in finding wonderful bargains with which to furnish their new space, including a firm mattress and some rather suspicious "antiques" bought from the back of a van.

Greene offers the unexpected joys and surprises of village life, from celebrating his and Mary's simple backyard wedding to discovering summer fêtes from toiling in a verdant garden to trading insights with new neighbors. He shares the experience of surviving his mother's decision to move in and humorously introduces the locals -- both human and nonhuman -- who define his and Mary's new world. Woven throughout this luscious tale are the pleasures of rural France: wondrous food and wine, long-held rituals and feasts, dark superstitions and deeply rooted history. A memorable feast for the senses, French Spirits will entertain and enlighten all who succumb to its charms.

... Read more

Reviews (13)

4-0 out of 5 stars inexpensive trip to a french village.
Jeff Greene is doing what the rest of us dream about doing. I found this book to be enchanting. His descriptions of the village physical are so stimulating. I have a sister living in a small village in France so I found so many similarities between his village and my sister's village. The characters are wonderful, full of life. The next time I visit my sister I will surely stop in Rogny and see for myself Jeff Greene's dream.

5-0 out of 5 stars A charming and spirited look at la belle France
I have read just about every book on restoring homes in France and Italy. (Non, I'm not a voyeur or dreamer.... I have done something similar in SW France & wanted to check out others' experiences.) In my view, Jeffrey Greene's poetic and self-revealing (without being self-centered) memoir of his experiences with his neighbors (as well as his family members) and his presbytery is simply the best of the genre. He treats his new acquaintances in the Burgundy village in the same way he approaches his building restoration: with delicacy and good will.

Greene's vignettes (e.g., one can SEE the car secured with boards and covers by the village square and the woman who leaves it there)add up to a loving portrait of a place and a time. Greene is a poetic observer who gives us, his readers, a feeling -- and understanding -- for his world. Thank you!!!

1-0 out of 5 stars I've been had!
Beware the spate of books on the topic of Americans/Brits living in France! Talk about publishers milking a trend! Unfortunately, not every author is a Peter Mayle or an Ann Barry. Greene's book, for example, is hopeless--- a shambles as far as organization goes, peopled by clueless, insensitive, and incompletely delineated characters (maybe that last is the good news, because the bad news is that this is a work of non-fiction.) It is about as illuminating of the French culture and countryside as a Greyhound bus tour of the Top Ten tourist sites of the Ile-de-France.
Don't be taken in by the book's title, as I was. Even we bibliophilic Francophiles have some standards!

5-0 out of 5 stars A memoir in France
I just finished reading this book. I have never wriiten a review , but I do feel compelled to after reading some of the other reviews posted here. For me, this is a memoir, not a travel guide. I admire anyone who is willing to share his life experiences with me--I find it a most generous act. I feel like writing to the author to thank him for his book. He brought the area and the people to life for me. I am studying French; so the sentences in French (don't be alarmed, he supplies a translation just following) were fun for me to figure out. I liked learning about Henri IV's locks, and learning about the author's childhood. I love a good memoir--and particularly, one by someone who is not famous except in his own circle. I would encourage anyone who feels the same to buy, or borrow this book--and order "Eyewitness France" if you want a travel guide. This book is a lovely eyewitness to a man's life.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
I loved this book. It is not egotistical at all; it writes of an area less explored than Provence or Tuscany; and the author has a knack of bringing his characters alive; the house itself is so well described one feels one has walked through it. There was not a chapter I found dull, and I devoured it in a sitting. Greene doesn't laugh at the locals, or sneer at the imagined "quaintness" of Europe. You can't do better than this for travel narrative. ... Read more

67. Tuva or Bust! Richard Feynman's Last Journey
by Ralph Leighton
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393320693
Catlog: Book (2000-05-15)
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
Sales Rank: 144595
Average Customer Review: 3.96 out of 5 stars
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Richard Feynman, brilliant physicist and inspirational teacher, wasn't much for coats and ties. He lived a life that the adjective "bohemian" doesn't begin to cover, scripting percussion scores for avant-garde ballet troupes, musing over life's imponderables, and delighting and annoying his many friends with odd-duck questions--all the while teaching generations of students at CalTech.

Always adventurous, Feynman was also a careful planner, recounts his friend and fellow drummer Ralph Leighton in this affectionate memoir. When a chance remark happened to dislodge a long-dormant memory of a faraway Siberian land called Tannu-Tuva, Feynman and Leighton set about scheming to get there--a program that included learning the little-described Tuvan language, picking up the rudiments of throat singing, and reading the scattered, hard-to-find literature concerning a place that, in Feynman's fond view, was as close to paradise as the earth contained. It also involved corresponding with scholars in what was still the Soviet Union and wrangling with bureaucrats to secure the necessary papers--all for the sake of seeing a country that had to be interesting, Feynman insisted, just because its capital, Kyzyl, had such an odd spelling.

These picaresque armchair adventures make up the bulk of Tuva or Bust, an unconventional mix of travelogue and scientific biography that's a pleasure to read at every turn. The book yields a memorable picture of Richard Feynman--who did not live to see Tuva, but whose memory is honored there today, thanks to Leighton's refusal to abandon their shared dream. --Gregory McNamee ... Read more

Reviews (25)

4-0 out of 5 stars funny, informative, and even a little inspiring
"Tuva or Bust!" is the story of three friends in the 1980s, who were determined to travel to Tuva, a little known land in Central Asia, which at that time was part of the Soviet Union. Their original motivation? As Richard Feynman says in the first chapter, "A place that's spelled K-Y-Z-Y-L (Tuva's capitol) has just got to be interesting!"

The book chronicles the adventures and misadventures of Ralph Leighton, one of Feynman's longtime friends. Though the book is subtitled "Richard Feynman's Last Journey," it's really Leighton's story; Feynman is more of an inspiration and a supporting character. Over several years, Leighton and his friends wrote letters, researched articles, read books, and became more and more fascinated by Tuva, a tiny country in the middle of nowhere. They learned, among other things, that Tuvans practice three different types of steppe herding lifestyles, within a hundred miles of each other, and that Tuva is the home of throat-singing, a musical technique in which a single person produces two notes at the same time.

Leighton's narration is chatty, reminiscent of Feynman's autobiographical works; one suspects Leighton learned to tell anecdotes from his friend. However, Leighton isn't as inherently fascinating a narrator as Feynman. Also, Feynman's persistent cancer, which kept him from participating in several preliminary trips, and finally killed him shortly before Leighton received permission for a group of Americans to travel to Tuva itself, casts a pall over the book.

Still, this is a fascinating story -- a great example of what people can do if they really care about a cause, and don't realize precisely how little chance they have of succeeding. It is also informative, if somewhat superficial in its description of Tuvan culture; I now want to know more about Central Asian peoples, and Tuvans in particular. But while the chapter "Reflections 2000," included in the new paperback version of "Tuva or Bust!" is interesting, I really don't think it was fair of Leighton to mention a new idea for a Tuvan monument to Feynman, and refuse to give any details. Now I want another reprint!

5-0 out of 5 stars Extremely pleasant and informative book on lost land of Tuva
When I was a kid in the 1950s I collected stamps and had quite a few from a mysterious little land called "Tannu Tuva". It always intrigued me because though I could find it on the old globe we had at home (made before the USSR swallowed the unfortunate Tuvans in 1944)I never heard the slightest news from there, nor did I ever hear of anyone going or coming from that little red country sandwiched between the yellow Soviet Union and green Mongolia. Time passed. A lot of time. Fast forward in fact, forty years. One day I saw a new book advertised--TUVA OR BUST. I could scarcely believe that somebody else in America remembered that hapless little country that once issued diamond and triangle stamps with yaks, camels, archers, and horsemen on them. Yet, they had it at our local bookstore. I bought it and read it as soon as I got home. What a treat ! I had never heard of Richard Feynman, not being a physics aficionado, but he turned out to be a great character. I enjoyed reading about his years-long efforts with Ralph Leighton to get to Tuva. They went through all kinds of trouble and interesting side voyages. I strongly recommend that you read this book. For me, reading the book was only a beginning. I listened to the plastic disc of Tuvan throat singing that came with the book, and subsequently bought tapes and attended Tuvan concerts by the group Huun Huur Tu in Boston. I also became a "Friend of Tuva". You can find their website on the net. I still drive around with my 'Tuva or Bust' bumper sticker. All of this stemmed from reading this delightful book on a faraway, unknown country and two people's adventures trying to get there. A very pleasurable experience.

3-0 out of 5 stars Something To Do
A peculiar book: Ralph Leighton's TUVA OR BUST isn't really about Richard Feynman, who, the more one reads about him, begins to seem a genius, yes, but more than a little insufferable. He does instigate this whimsical notion of visiting Tannu Tuva (which had become Tuvinskaya of the U.S.S.R. (the book takes place from the late 1970s to Feynman's death in 1989), but the ball is picked up by Leighton, and Feynman is merely a supporting actor in the book.

The quest carries itself through many frustrations, mostly having to do w/ the hermetic paranoia of the Soviet Union, which seems to work like an enormous rural county: If you know someone, then things can be smoothed out; if not, then the official channels will be little help.

I'm not sure why anyone would read this book. There's no reason to if you're interested in Feynman, because, besides his concoctions to fit in at Esalen, amongst the New Age mumbo-jumbo, his mind is absent from the book. His personality & his drumming are there on occasion, but Feynman's thinking, no.

Leighton is not intrinsically interesting, and though a fluent writer, gives little sense of character. All the foreigners are forgettable, so the index is very handy. When a name turns up on page 150, say, then one can look it up to see which person this is.

As one reads, one begins to have the same thoughts about oneself that one has about Leighton's attempts to visit Tuva: Why am I going on?. Moreover, I think that one comes up with the same answer: Just to get through the damn thing. By the time that Leighton reaches Tuva (without Feynman, who died just a smidgen too soon), the appearance is anti-climactic, and the land is colorless: A Nevada trailer-park suburb, but with yurts instead of double-wides.

TUVA OR BUST! becomes a critique of bureaucracy. The slow, spirit-killing, mind-numbing bureaucracy of the Soviet Union ensured that Feynman would die without reaching Tuva. Our world, in which stupid little men can control our lives, is death to the spirit, and is death to the spirit of Feynman, insufferable though he may be, and inexplicably kow-towed to by everyone (you get the feeling that Feynman never opens a door for anyone or shuts one for himself).

TUVA OR BUST!, in its pedestrian prose, preaches, unwittingly, I think, for a freedom for whimsy, for the spirit, for the individual. At the same time, excepting the author and his male friends (his wife is also colorless), the book has no individuals. So, by the end, nothing: No Tuva to speak of, no more Feynman, nothing but an accomplishment to scratch off the list.

4-0 out of 5 stars Mostly Great, But Slightly Condescending!
Did you know of certain artists who painted scenes on a human hair! Yes, bring your magnifying glass! Or singing in 2 part harmony with only one singer! I surely did not before reading this book! However, as a stamp collector starting at a very young age (about 7) , I also was fascinated by the Tanna Tuva stamps, and still have a nice assortment of diamonds and triangles. This book is an amusing and informative read, not least in its descriptions of meetings between Soviet and western scholars during some of the "Bad Old Days" of the 1980's Cold War, including moments like the shooting of KAL 007 near Korea. At times , though, there does seem to be a slightly condescending attitude towards a small section of Siberia based on what seems "funny" to English speakers. Nonetheless a very worthwhile read, with many amusing anecdotes, not to mention the amazing cancer recovery attitude of Mr. Feynmann himself!

5-0 out of 5 stars Feynman's inspiration...
If you're reading this review, you've probably read dozens of witicisms from Richard Feynman, one of science's most colorful characters. Though the name suggests otherwise, this is really about a Feynman inspired journey.

Ralph Leighton and Richard Feynman spot a stamp from Tuva, which inspires Leighton's journey around the world. What makes the book an interesting read is that you can easily follow Feyman's curious energy in the actions and writing of the author. This really brings the heart of the book's value - this type of intellectual curiosity is not just the property of Richard Feynman. Anyone can chase a journey because it's fun or because it's there.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and hope that you do too. ... Read more

68. The Olive Season: Amour, a New Life, and Olives Too
by Carol Drinkwater
list price: $24.95
our price: $17.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1585672351
Catlog: Book (2003-05-15)
Publisher: Overlook Press
Sales Rank: 179708
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Carol Drinkwater's The Olive Farm told the lyrical tale of her real-life romance with partner Michel and an abandoned Provençal olive farm that they fell in love with and bought--a double love story, recounting with wit, warmth, and alluring detail the couple's attempts to bring their dreams to life.

In The Olive Season, Carol Drinkwater's much-anticipated follow-up to The Olive Farm, Carol and Michel prepare to exchange vows in, of all places, Polynesia--Michel's answer to Carol's challenging response to his marriage proposal (Only if the ceremony is performed by the King of Tonga!) Upon their return to the south of France as husband and wife, they find there is much hope--and work--to greet them.

With a farm consisting of fifty trees producing some of the world's finest olive oil, no longer is the challenge one of restoring the farm but in charting its development and growth. France's rigorous agricultural standards are responsible for some of the world's best produce but also for one of its most infuriating bureaucracies. In order to obtain the coveted AOC rating, Carol and Michel are forced to both expand their farm and to negotiate a Byzantine world of forms, officials, and inspections, including the surveying of their land by a water diviner, who, via a power akin to extrasensory perception, can point out the existence of underground water sources on their property.

Further complicating matters is the fact that Carol has become pregnant with the couple's first child and has just accepted a demanding acting role. As the harvest season approaches, dramatic events, culminating in a heartbreaking miscarriage, cast shadows over the olive farm. With all the warmth and vibrancy of the Mediterranean sun, Carol Drinkwater tells her passionate, moving, and utterly uplifting story. ... Read more

Reviews (6)

4-0 out of 5 stars The passion continues, but with a tear
In the Olive Season, Carol Drinkwater continuous Michel and her dream-come-true olive farm experience in the south of France. Other reviewers of her first book, as well as this reviewer, hoped for a sequel and Carol did not disappoint them. Although the book can be read and enjoyed without reading The Olive Farm, this reviewer strongly recommends that readers first read the Farm, as it provides the necessary backdrop and introduction to characters that enhances the enjoyment of the Season.

In the Season, Carol shares a lot more on personal level than in the Farm. Although I have enjoyed the first book specifically because it largely revolved around their farming experience and dealt less with them at intimate level, I can accept the change in focus because it is quite understandable when one reads about their tragic loss halfway through the book. The closing paragraph of the book confirms this conclusion. Do yourself a favour and do not read the last page of the book before you "legitimately" can after you have read the rest of it - apparently some people actually do that! It will not necessarily spoil your reading experience, but the story unfolds very well and pulls the reader closer to the author as it develops. Similar to the first book, the Season is well written and/or edited.

I again enjoyed Carol's description of the French rural characters she and Michel meet during their farming adventure. Although I appreciate her sharing of her research into various aspects of farming and nature, I find that those specific paragraphs tend to clash with the writing style of the rest of the book. Although short, they are almost reference book fact-like descriptions. However, they are far and in between and do not really distract from the overall reading experience. Their exploits into the French countryside and visits to interesting little shops and eating places do a lot to make the reader want to get onto a plane and explore those hide-away places!

If you have enjoyed The Olive Farm, you will also enjoy The Olive Season, although it is somewhat more "heavy" because of the dramatic events referred to earlier. Would I buy the next episode if Carol writes it? Yes, probably, even if only to find out whether they have managed to find a beekeeper! She clearly wrote, or at least completed, this one, inter alia for her own personal healing, but her writing style is such that I would support sequels in the Olive-saga much more positively than I would support Hollywood follow-on's!

5-0 out of 5 stars CANDOR, HUMOR, AND SENSUALITY
Countless readers enchanted with Carol Drinkwater's initial memoir "The Olive Farm" will find themselves similarly captivated with her eagerly awaited follow-up. The candor, humor, sensuality, and gift for the appropriate word, all the qualities we've come to associate with this talented actress/writer are again very much in evidence in her latest offering.

"The Olive Farm" which traces Ms. Drinkwater's passion for an abandoned villa called "Appassionata" in the south of France, and her even greater passion for Michel, a French film director, allowed many to enter a world of which they could only dream. Despite the dire prognostications of friends she joined her financial resources with Michel's to purchase the villa with hopes of restoring it to former glory and overseeing a profitable olive farm.

As "The Olive Season" opens with yet another marriage proposal from Michel, Ms. Drinkwater cannot quite bring herself to take that step and responds with, "Only if the King of Tonga marries us."

She underestimates Michel, and their vows are repeated on an island in the South Pacific. It is more than a fairy tale wedding. Upon returning to their villa they happily learn that she is pregnant. She has miscarried several times, and now yearns to have their child. Yet thoughts of impending motherhood must be set aside as pesky boars are once again intruding. Further, the newly marrieds want the much desired Appellation d'Origine Controlee rating for their olive oil, which necessitates an infinite number of bureaucratic forms, inspections, plus an expansion of their farm. The setting of the Cote d'Azur, evenings on their terrace are incomparably beautiful; their work is exhausting.

Once again Ms. Drinkwater peppers her narrative with vivid descriptions of lush countrysides as well as historical notes. Readers accompany her to villages that Napoleon once roamed and learn the origins of bamboo, which she is surprised to find near Baremme amidst apple and cherry trees.

Bringing her own unique style and perceptions to these descriptive passages Ms. Drinkwater's words fairly sing with verve and rhythm. "And our poppies in the garden," she writes, "so hot is that colour, I hear the heroin cracked voice of a jazz singer, scarlet lips flush against a silver mike, crooning the blues."

Dropping by Cannes for the film festival, the contented couple saunter through the Croisette. This area is described as a haven for swindlers or, in French, for an "escroc." Scoundrels abound, seeking out and bilking foreigners who long for a part of the Cote d'Azur. Escroquerie or swindling "is woven into the fabric of living here," she opines. "How could it be otherwise when money is the god? It is the yardstick by which worth is judged and valued."

Visitors come and go at "Appassionata;" readers will never want to leave. We wish for just a little more time with Ms. Drinkwater, a charming hostess who enchants and delights with her tales. She is a spellbinding contemporary Scharazade who leaves us awaiting another missive from her paradisaical land.

- Gail Cooke

5-0 out of 5 stars A SEQUEL TO BE CHERISHED
That Ms.Drinkwater's 'The Olive Farm' made me immediately want to pack and fly to see the verdant countryside she described, I never believed for a moment that a sequel could be so much more engrossing and personal.'The Olive Season' is filled with the stories of visitors to the farm, together with the difficulties of bringing the olives to fruit, but it is her baring her soul in dealing with the trauma of a personal tragedy that tears ones heart out. She must be a fighter for she went on with her life and her farm, and in the end one knows she will come out on top. A joy to read and to re-read.

5-0 out of 5 stars What a read!
I loved this book ! This is one of the best travel books I have read in ages! I have and still am going through the same issues that Carol went through in this book and I am very grateful that she had an outlet for her pain. I am very happy that she wrote this tale of her journey, I was happy to be a part of her life for this book! I could not put it down! And it was funny too!
My only question when is the next one?

5-0 out of 5 stars Lovely and Tragic
As much as I adored Ms. Drinkwater's first book, The Olive Farm, this one touched me in a much more personal way. Not wanting to spoil it for anyone, I'll just say that I recently had a very similar experience to hers, and I know there are many, many women out there who share her pain with her. That doesn't make it any easier to bear but it did help me to know that there is that strong, silent sisterhood.

This book had all the charm of her first one...the olives, the lovely farmhouse, the travels, the food, none of which were overridden by the sadness of her experience. If you want to read it for those aspects alone, you definitely will not be disappointed. I so hope that she's already at work on another book--I'll read everything she writes. ... Read more

69. The Village of Waiting
by George Packer
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374527806
Catlog: Book (2001-08-01)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Sales Rank: 85634
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Now restored to print with a new Foreword by Philip Gourevitch and an Afterword by the author, this book is a frank, moving, and vivid account of contemporary life in West Africa. Stationed as a Peace Corps instructor in the village of Lavié (the name means "wait a little more") in tiny and underdeveloped Togo, Packer reveals his own schooling at the hands of an unforgettable array of townspeople--peasants, chiefs, charlatans, children, market women, cripples, crazies, and those who, having lost or given up much of their traditional identity and fastened their hopes on "development," find themselves trapped between the familiar repetitions of rural life and the chafing monotony of waiting for change.
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Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Profound in its Simplicity
George Packer's ability to describe the lives of many who live in Togo make this piece of text a must-read for all, even for those who do not have an interest in serving in the Peace Corps. He writes with raw emotion and sincerity, without a tad of pretense. I'd say that Packer's foremost accomplishment in this text is that he makes no attempt to tell a story about how a superior white individual intervenes in a remote village and rids the residents of poverty and illiteracy. Rather, The Village of Waiting is a sincere account of his realization that sadly, some things just cannot be altered. I think Packer knew this from the outset, but it is interesting to read about he endures this realization during his 2-year service in Togo.

5-0 out of 5 stars Incredible
Haunting--this book is raw and hontest. I can't get it off my mind. Will be visiting friends doing VSO in northern Ghana soon and am trying to get a copy for them as well.

5-0 out of 5 stars Togo: still crazy after all these years
I read a tattered, much passed around copy of Village of Waiting in my Peace Corps house in a village not far from George Packer's. I just returned in October 2001. Hard to imagine that after nearly twenty years, so much of what Packer wrote about Togo has not changed very much. . . Togo still waits. When people ask me about Togo, I'm still not sure what to say. I imagine Packer is still unsure. All I can say is that it is easy to give up on Togo, quite another thing to give up on its people. Packer's reflections of life in Lavie provide a lot of insight into the life of a Peace Corps Volunteer. This is a book that many PCVs either love or hate. Although it must be said that they seem to hate it when they arrive in Togo, and love it if they read or re-read it later, especially after leaving Togo. Many PCVs have complained that he was too soft, and couldn't handle it, but it is my impression that Packer really understood his reality and that is what made it so hard for him to handle it everyday. He understood the absurdity and hardship, and did not romanticize it. It made him angry. I know how he felt. I often wondered about the characters in Packer's book, as I zoomed through Lavie on my way up-country. Luckily, this new print has some follow-up on the many characters of his village.

5-0 out of 5 stars A moving, intelligent and insightful masterpiece
For the longest time after reading this amazing and wonderful book I worried about George Packer - how he had gotten on, if he was successful, where he had gone, and if he had written more in the same lucid and painfully honest style he used in this autobiographical essay on his years in Togo as a Peace Corps volunteer. So it was with special joy today that I discovered not only that he's just written a major work (on American liberalism) that has been reviewed by the NY Times quite favorably, but that's he's written other works as well. Truly, Packer has an intellectual honesty that is extremely rare, coupled with an innate ability to put in words the deepest and most sincere and heartfelt feelings of Peace Corps volunteer and of those who have share the volunteer experience, particularly those among us who were blessed with service in Africa. The Village of Waiting is a "travel narrative", you might call it, that transcends the genre. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars The ultimate book on life in the Peace Corps
The Village Of Waiting is an incredible description of life in West Africa. It captures the essence of being a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa. Anyone who has ever been or thought about being a Peace Corps Volunteer should read this book. ... Read more

70. It's All Greek to Me! : A Tale of a Mad Dog and an Englishman, Ruins, Retsina-and Real Greeks
by John Mole
list price: $16.00
our price: $10.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1857883438
Catlog: Book (2004-09-25)
Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing
Sales Rank: 72784
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Book Description

Whith unforgettable characters coming to life on every page, this humorous story of one family's search for the Arcadian idyll speaks volumes about learning to live, laugh, and drink Ouzo together while turning a tumbledown ruin into a place to hold their hearts. ... Read more

71. Dances with Luigi : A Grandson's Search for His Italian Roots
by Paul E. Paolicelli
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312283806
Catlog: Book (2001-11-06)
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Sales Rank: 41088
Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In this spirited memoir, veteran TV journalist Paul Paolicelli does what many of us can only dream of--he picks up and moves to a foreign country in an attempt to trace his ancestral roots.With the help of Luigi, his guide and companion, he travels through Italy--Rome, Gamberale, Matera, Miglionico, Alessandria, even Mussolini's hometown of Predappio--and discovers the tragic legacy of the Second World War that is still affecting the Old Country.He visits ancient castles and village churches, samples superb Italian cuisine, haggles at the open air market at Porta Portese, enjoys and Alessandria siesta, and frequents "coffee bars", where beggars discuss politics with affluent Italian locals.He finds lost-lost cousins during the day and performs with an amateur jazz group during the night.Along the way, he discovers deeply moving stories about his family's past and learns answers to question that have plagued him since childhood.
More that just a spiritual account of one man's ancestral search, Dances With Luigi is also a stunning portrait of la bella Italia--both old and new--that is painted beautifully in all of its glamour, history, and contradiction.
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Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Story
I "lived" the experience with Paul Paolicelli as I read this book. Always wanting to not just visit, but to live in the land of my ancestors, to experience the culture, the people, just to experience the life.

Mr. Paolicelli has to be richer for this experience.

I recommend it to all of Italian descent and to anyone wanting to experience the culture of your family, no matter what heritage.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read
This is a marvelous tale of personal discovery that includes the reader and helps illuminate the many mysteries for all of us bearing the Italian American heritage. Mr. Paolicelli's research and care for his subjects is evident from the first page. Those wanting more specific information are given a strong push to go find it out for themselves, rather than complain that the author didn't do it for them. Paul's "dance" with Luigi is an elaborate and remarkable waltz through Italian history and family mystery. Read this book. The music will linger...

2-0 out of 5 stars Great Idea But Incomplete and Inaccurate
I was very much looking forward to reading a book about my fathers DePasquale side of the family in Abruzzo, Italy. However, much to my dismay, Mr. Poalicelli seemed to skim over or dismiss the rich history of the DePasquale's and the town of Gamberale where our ancestors came from. For example, although politically connected to the South in the past, the town Gamberale, in the provence of Chieti in Abruzzo is in the Central region of Italy, not the South. This town was not just inhabited by the Lombards or Longobards (a Germanic tribe) as they where also refered to, but also it is believed the town was inhabited by the Franks and French normans after the tenth century. Also, many of the surnames Mr. Paolcelli's mentions on the DePasquale side of his family are incorrectly spelled. Although I give Mr. Paolocelli credit for taking the time to want to write about his family, I wished he had contacted and interviewed many more family members on the DePasqaule side of the family to get a more accuate and historical perspectiveas to who and where the DePasquales came from both historically and geographically. If, so he would had a more insightful and meaningful book for both family members an general readers.

5-0 out of 5 stars BRAVA BRAVA BRAVA
It amazes me that some of the reviews were critical. I wonder if any of the critics have attempted to write a book and have been published.

First, I envy Paul that he had the guts to set out on the adventure that would change his life. Don't we all wish we could do that.

I started to read this book and couldn't put it down; I read it in one day. It is a travel book, a mystery book, a history book and an Italian philosophy book all rolled into one.

Join the author on his quest to understand his Italian heritage and discover fascinating characters who help him find the true meaning of life. His relatives who came to America are wonderful too, especially Uncle Al.
It's true what they say "There's something about Italians!"

My relatives and friends are getting copies for Christmas presents.

To Paul Paolicelli "Grazie, ti voglio bene."

Gloria Valentino

5-0 out of 5 stars Dances with Luigi
This book touched major chords with me. The author
lucidly tells the tail of searching for family and family history in Italy,with both stark self examination and great observations of the people around him.
His portrayal of the good and the bad, and the uncertainity
involved in being in a foreign country and trying to speak
their language; Italy, specifically,
are excellent.

I recommend this book to people planning a trip to Italy, specifically southern Italy, but I think it would be great
reading for anyone who loves things Italian or is a genealogist. ... Read more

72. Dear Exile : The True Story of Two Friends Separated (for a Year) by an Ocean
list price: $12.00
our price: $9.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375703675
Catlog: Book (1999-04-27)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 204516
Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A funny and moving story told through the letters of two women nurturing a friendship as they are separated by distance, experience, and time.

Close friends and former college roommates, Hilary Liftin and Kate Montgomery promised to write when Kate's Peace Corps assignment took her to Africa.Over the course of a single year, they exchanged an offbeat and moving series of letters from rural Kenya to New York City and back again.

Kate, an idealistic teacher, meets unexpected realities ranging from poisonous snakes and vengeful cows to more serious hazards: a lack of money for education; a student body in revolt.Hilary, braving the singles scene in Manhattan, confronts her own realities, from unworthy suitors to job anxiety and first apartment woes.Their correspondence tells--with humor, warmth, and vivid personal detail--the story of two young women navigating their twenties in very different ways, and of the very special friendships we are sometimes lucky enough to find.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Reviews (52)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Read
I read a positive review of this in People Magazine, of all places, while waiting in the doctor's office and was attracted to its epistolary form. If you are a letter writer you will appreciate Kate's tightly written and amusing letters filled with humorous and sad anecdotes of her Peace Corps experience in Africa. Hillary's letters on the other hand, though less exotic, accurately reflect the post-college, single-girl-in-the city, more mundane world that many can relate to. This works because it's about two friends sustaining a relationship through the written word despite the different paths they branch out on after their college union. They are both likable in their different personalities and style of writing and one begins to care about them in this quick read. In reading some of the reviews here some have made criticisms of Kate's Peace Corps reflections but if the letters are true to their originality they are just observations and perceptions of a year in the life of two women keeping in touch with eachother. Too precious at times? Maybe it could have been meatier, but it's a good start.

I sent a copy to my 23 year old sister in NYC and she loved it. Since we are 11 years apart and have radically different personalities I think this book would appeal to many. I only wish there there had been more letters!

4-0 out of 5 stars Dear Exile
I enjoyed reading the letters in this book and the opportunity it allowed me to peek into the lives of these women for one year. The daily problems of everyday life in NYC may not seem as important or difficult as the challenges of everyday life in Kenya, but they are to the person who is living them and to their best friend. I tell my own best friend everything including when I have to change a light bulb. I couldn't stop reading the book because I found it suspenseful. What was going to happen at the school in Kenya and would Kate survive her time there? What would happen with Hilary's love life or with her disturbed downstairs neighbor? I hung on to every word and looked forward to every letter as if they were written to me personally.

The end of the book left me kind of sad. There did not seem to be much hope for a better future in the village in Kenya or the school system there. Kate's optimistic anticipation for her time in the Peace Corps flattened by the reality of conditions beyond her control. Hilary surrounded by friends, the center of attention, yet so alone. I worry that now that they are no longer half a world apart and don't have to write each other letters, that time and new responsibilities will get in their way and cause them to drift apart even though they live in the same city. They profess undying friendship in their letters and I believe them, but I hope they take the time to have a leisurely chat over tea and cake every once in a while too.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful
A great book. I loved reading the letters between the two friends and their different styles of writing. I hope their friendship will always endure. I look foward to reading more by both. I've already read Candy and Me by Hilary. I hope to hear more from K8.

5-0 out of 5 stars Compelling, insightful, and funny.
This is about as perfect as a book can be. I won't recap the concept; plenty of other reviewers have summed it up. But I want to express my unbounded admiration for this book. I would never have imagined that a set of letters between friends could make for fascinating, hard-to-put-down reading, but this set of letters does. In spades. These women's lives are just plain interesting--Kate's, in part, because she's in a situation most of us know little or nothing about and Hilary's, in part, because she's in a situation most of us know all too well. There's more going on here, though, than just the fact of being interesting. The friendship between these two comes alive on the page; the insights about the world and about each other that the women reveal are meaningful; the wit each writer possesses is sharp and on target. I loved the book. I'm giving it to everyone I know for Christmas because they're all going to love it, too.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not as absorbing as I had expected
I was a bit disappointed in this book. I love corresponding with others, and I looked forward to learning about Hilary and Kate by reading their letters. I felt that something was missing and I cannot quite put my finger on it.

The book was short and I think what I had been looking for was a longer narrative. Kate and Hilary's friendship certainly is one of a kind, and it was nice to have a look at their confidences and challenges.

Overall, I vote this book 3.5 stars of 5, as the glimpses of Kenya were poignant and interesting, and I did find Kate and Hilary's relationship intriguing. The story was of real life, so perhaps the only thing wrong was that I have read too much fiction in the past, and this story was reflective of how the world really works. ... Read more

73. The Last American Sailors: A Wild Ride in the Modern Merchant Marine
by Michael›R.››› Rawlins
list price: $19.95
our price: $19.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0595301177
Catlog: Book (2003-12-01)
Publisher: iUniverse
Sales Rank: 120859
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Find -- Great stories, great writing.
Review by Robert R. Frump, author of "Until the Sea Shall Free Them." This is a great find! "The Last American Sailors" -- Subtitled appropriately enough, A Wild Ride in the Modern Merchant Marine. These are the stories of Michael R. Rawlins, a merchant mariner for more than a decade, who can indeed turn a phrase. This is among the very best writing I've seen in recent years not just because Rawlins can turn a phrase but because he writes from first hand experience. Yes, John McPhee can hitch a ride on a boat and Langewiesche can do what he does so well (see below). Rawlins is not so seasoned a writer as those two, but what he lacks in polish he makes up for in authenticity. -- and a first hand knowledge and ease that neither of the two more famous authors will ever muster on this topic. What we have here is the unvarnished world of the merchant mariner told by a nautical Everyman with a great ear for dialogue and a great eye for character. Rawlins announces he will take the romance out of the sea for us but of course in the course of his story telling, he firmly establishes it. We hear no modern day tales of piracy -- but a day cleaning out a chemical tanker's holds is in its own way a modern day scarier tale. Buy it. Encourage this guy. Perfect for the son or daughter who thinks they want to go to sea, and for the uncle or father or grandfather who was there in an earlier day. Immensely readable and valuable.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Tale to Tell...
"A word to all those who contemplate running away to sea. At last there is a really good book that will let you know just what you are getting into. Rawlins captures the essence of his past decade in the merchant marine, and sheds much light on the lives of the merchant seamen cast of characters that sail aboard the merchant fleets and all that that entails. We are talking about some really strange adventures here, on land and at sea. For Rawlins is an intelligent keen-eyed observer who learned early on to keep his wits about him at all times, especially as those around him were losing theirs, sometimes wondering about just what he had gotten himself into after signing on aboard different ships. It is an amazing tale to tell as Rawlins tries to set the record straight about the merchant marine and the mysterious world of merchant shipping. He has a way with words that catches the irony of it all and does so with good style."

5-0 out of 5 stars A uniquely personal perspective of sea life
Written by a seaman and officer of extensive experience among over three dozen countries, Michael R. Rawlins' The Last American Sailors: A Wild Ride In The Modern Merchant Marine is a captivating and entertaining memoir that recounts vicious captains, tragedy at sea, the highlights of travel, and a great deal more concerning life as a merchant marine today. A uniquely personal perspective of sea life, challenges, hardships, and rewards, The Last American Sailors would make a welcome addition to any community library American Biography collection. ... Read more

74. The Wild Muir: Twenty-Two of John Muir's Greatest Adventures
by John Muir, Fiona King, Lee Stetson, Yosemite Association
list price: $10.95
our price: $8.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0939666758
Catlog: Book (1994-06-01)
Publisher: Yosemite Association
Sales Rank: 57768
Average Customer Review: 4.29 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (7)

1-0 out of 5 stars The Wild Muir
This book is a total bore. The flowery description is beautiful for the first three sentences, but then it becomes a tranparent cover-up for a book with no plot! Even I could write a more interesting book, and I failed high school english! Muir was a great person, but he sould have stayed where he was better aquianted: the woods! Anyone who enjoys this book obviously has never seen a tree before. A whole book dedicated to them is ironic and lame.

4-0 out of 5 stars Muir is crazy!
This book tells of several adventures that John Muir had in his life. It confirms that the guy was a bit of a lunatic, but it makes for enjoyable reading. Some of the stories are better than others, but at least they are short and easy to read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Adventuresome and just plain fun
This is a delightful book and will be enjoyed by adults as well as children. John Muir was a remarkable man and I was surprised that he was also a truly gifted writer. Muir writes in a fun, infectious style similar to Mark Twain. He infuses all of his tales with vivid descriptive words and a dose of humor. It's a pure joy to read and shows what an incredibly courageous, physically fit man he was. I decided to buy this book because for years I have hiked larged sections of the famous John Muir Trail in California. The scenic beauty is so overwhelming that it stimulated my interest in the man for whom the trail was named. All I knew was that Muir was a Scottish-born enviromentalist who had lost his sight and then miraculously regained it. But there is so much more to his story than this.

This book will fill you in on many of the adventures Muir experienced. It's amazing that he was able to forge trails and do the things he did in an era when convenience was unheard of. He mapped out the wilderness with nothing more than a compass, a hard set of leg muscles, basic clothing and no comforts. Muir didn't rely on sunglasses, sunscreen, maps, granola bars or cell phones, he was the "real deal" and my respect for him is endless. I can't recommend this book highly enough, it's a joy to read and to learn about this magnificent and underrated man.

5-0 out of 5 stars Like being caught in a wind storm
There is one, though certainly not the only, thing that sets Muir apart from other naturalist writers in my mind... adjectives. You will not find minimalist prose in any of the condensed tales found in this beautifully bound book. However, you will find wonderfully descriptive passages that engage the senses and provoke imagination. The Wild Muir is a great introduction to Muir's exploits and beyond that to the creative non-fiction field in general. This book will provide a wonderful escape for adults and children alike.

5-0 out of 5 stars Essential Muir!
This absolutely wonderful volume distills some of John Muir's more memorable wilderness adventures into an absorbing, thrilling read. Lee Stetson, who for years has brought the spirit of John Muir alive to audiences in Yosemite and elsewhere, has assembled some of Muir's most hair-raising stories of mountain exploits into this single volume. Fiona King provides delightful illustrations that effectively compliment the narrative.

John Muir was many remarkable things: Explorer, adventurer, environmentalist, inventor, and much, much, more. This volume shows off two of his most prodigious talents: His literally stunning writing ability (as fresh and delightful today as it was when it was written a century ago) and his penchant for daredevil adventures. Muir's boundless, heartwarming enthusiam for the wilderness and all its wonders somtimes led him into truly precarious situations, which will both amaze and fascinate the reader. Of course he escaped them all with nary a scratch, as if guided by a divine hand, and went on to proselytize his message of conservation to a waiting world. Muir's entire life is the stuff of legend, these true-life stories transform it into a mythic adventure.

I purchased this book from Lee Stetson himself, at his performance in Yosemite Valley. See him there if you can, but if you can't, buy his book here. I guaranteee that Muir's words will never disappoint. This book makes a fabulous gift for kids as well...but you'll be reading it as much as they do! ... Read more

75. Flying the Alaska Wild: The Adventures and Misadventures of an Alaska Bush Pilot
by Mort D. Mason, Mort Mason
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0896585891
Catlog: Book (2002-06-01)
Publisher: Voyageur Press (MN)
Sales Rank: 6732
Average Customer Review: 4.44 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"Flying the Alaska Wild" is true grit stuff: a collection of fascinating stories aboutthe rough-and-tumble life of an Alaskan bush pilot--straight from the pilot's seat. Recounting twenty-plus years of adventures, skilled storyteller Mort Mason presents his own death-defying tales, and also tells the legendary stories of other old-time bush pilots.

Flying through the wildly unpredictable weather conditions and unforgiving terrain of the Big Empty--where bush pilots find few paved runways, control towers, friendly voices on their silent radios, navigational aids, and few places to drop in for coffee and fuel for their flimsy planes--Mason honed his skill--and his luck--in a profession that just a few have the stamina to endure. Here, he recounts his more memorable flights and the conditions, circumstances, and admitted errors that made them so. For pilots and airplane buffs; Alaska buffs; hunters, guides, and outdoors enthusiasts. ... Read more

Reviews (9)

1-0 out of 5 stars Informative but Boring
What I expected was an exciting adventure story of Mr. Mason's true life experiences in the Alaskan wilderness. What I got was a tutorial on what works best for bush pilots in Alaska along with some homey anecdotes. Boring. Definitely not a keeper.

5-0 out of 5 stars READ THIS REVIEW !!
Mort Mason is a Alaskan bush pilot (a real one) and an extremely good pilot.
I probably can be regarded as a opinionated reviewer as I can relate firsthand (been there) to some of Mort's many places during the 60's,70's,80's. None of Mort's stories are the least bit exagerated as some readers might think.
When he says 20 feet, he means just that, 20 feet.
If anything he ho-hums situations like flying in darkness, mountains,snow,rain,fog,wind, etc. or all of the above.
Things that get us mortels attention real quick. If you read this book,my statement would be, "Believe every word, it's all true" !!
Mort Mason is not a reckless risk taker nor uses less than perfect equipment, as one might be lead to think. The opposite.
His stories point out the very few mistakes he did make and the many ever changing weather/terrain problems he encountered. He always learned from them, no repeats. He explains the many mechanical problems and how he prevented or corrected them, sometimes jury-rigging some strange 'bush' repairs.
He used up his 'lucky-factor' or luck as some would call it, making the right moves when it counted. More skill than luck.

Must have worked, he pulled it off, survived. So, we get to read his book.

HINTS: The reader should get a somewhat detailed map of Alaska as Mort takes you many places. Alaska is, in a word,'HUMONGOUS',
as he describes it, like 3 states of Texas would fit inside but some of us don't realize how HUGE Texas really is, so a map will help.
Mort starts book out kind of 'stiff',(pilot-talk) like "flying the N2029Y etc. etc." but that's just his way to identify airplanes. He loosens up and gets less technical as book progresses.

The picture Illustrations are extrodinary. You will page back and forth over and over again. The pictures of rescues of broken airplanes were eye opening and special. the photo of a wingless Piper Cub being hoisted by a helicopter is imaginable but I especially liked that one of a cub airplane body, lashed to the float struts of an even bigger float plane (Beaver) defies imagination. That has to be the most un-aerodyamic, lopsided, unflyable, etc. setup I've ever seen ! Amazing.
Mort describes and explains, from a pilots reasoning, why flying Alaska can be a 'different-ball-game'.
The FAA, (our sky cops) who make our airways the safest in the world, can't very well say, "O.K., here's the rules everyone, (except Alaska)" Mort tells how they make it work.

The word 'super' became popular during 50's-60's (Super-Bowl)etc.
meaning the best, ultimate, whatever.
Mort's statement: " Whatever you've heard, seen, before about a SUPER-CUB airplane, BELIEVE IT" !
He goes on to write about some hair raising experiences using that airplane.

Mort describes/shows the modern Alaskan airplane. The words 'flimsy' or 'fragile' would best apply to the 'where' the airplanes are being used. Rather BEEFED-UP, Alaskan-style is a better description. Mort tells of the many airplane customized
changes. Reinforced landing supports, larger horsepower engines,
tires,retractable ski's, etc.etc.
Compare 'off-road-vehicles', to 'all-terrain-airplanes' and Alaska is the undesputed king.
The lakes Hood & Spenard, that Mort repeatedly refers to, is
exactly as he describes.They are adjacent to Anchorage International airport and the parking lot of the worlds wildest airplanes. The planes are stacked in there like cordwood, a sight to behold. If your ever in Anchorage, Alaska, and would like to see some of the (Mort-type) airplanes, rent a cab or take a drive around the lakes and you'll see all the variations, from Big Foots to Turbocharged X-perimentals.

On the lighter-side, Mort has many 'rookie' (him) stories and adventures, which will tickle the reader. A few of my favorites were:
* The German customers, HERR SCHMIDT, ("Sprecken-Nein-English")
* Mort drank too much coffee and HAD to pee with nowhere to land.

Lots of laughs for the reader. Mort tells it like it is/was. ........

4-0 out of 5 stars Living my dreams thru books
A bush pilot reminisces a life time of seat-of-the-pants flying over the "Big Empty" (Alaska). Flying single engine super cubs, landing on frozen lakes, sand bars, mountain ridges ...makes a couch potato want to get out and go. Writen from a pilots point of view, with lots of pilots lingo. Makes an entertaining read, for wana-bee pilots like me. For those that dream of adventure, the wild places are within the pages of this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book
Whether you're a pilot or you don't know anything about flying, you'll love this book. His stories will keep you on the edge of your seat and reading for hours. I usually don't read for fun, but I just couldn't put this book down! Bottom line, you will not regret reading this book!

5-0 out of 5 stars An exhilarating and highly recommended account
Flying The Alaska Wild: The Adventures And Misadventures Of An Alaska Bush Pilot by Mort Mason (who has flown more than 18,000 hours over the Alaskan outback bush country) is an amazing collection of true stories from the airborne adventures of an Alaska Bush pilot, who met challenges ranging from dealing with dangerous headwinds, to the hazards of ice on the plane, to participating in search and rescue missions, and more. From cover to cover, Flying The Alaska Wild is an exhilarating and highly recommended account of an exciting occupation that demands steady nerves and a courageous heart. ... Read more

76. Angry White Pyjamas : A Scrawny Oxford Poet Takes Lessons From The Tokyo Riot Police
by Robert Twigger
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0688175376
Catlog: Book (2000-04-01)
Publisher: Perennial
Sales Rank: 194965
Average Customer Review: 4.11 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Adrift in Tokyo, translating obscene rap lyrics for giggling Japanese high school girls,, "thirtynothing" Robert Twigger comes to a revelation about himself: He has never been fit nor brave. Guided by his roommates, Fat Frank and Chris, he sets out to cleanse his body and mind. Not knowing his fist from his elbow, the author is drawn into the world of Japanese martial arts, joining the Tokyo Riot Police on their yearlong, brutally demanding course of budo training, where any ascetic motivation soon comes up against bloodstained "white pyjamas" and fractured collarbones. In Angry White Pyjamas, Twigger blends, the ancient with the modern--the ultratraditionalism, ritual, and violence of the dojo (training academy) with the shopping malls, nightclubs, and scenes of everyday Tokyo life in the 1990s--to provide a brilliant, bizarre glimpse of life in contemporary Japan.

Adrift in Tokyo, "thirtynothing" Robert Twigger came to a revelation about himself: He had never been fit or brave. Guided by his roommates, he set out to cleanse his body and mind. Not knowing his fist from his elbow, the author is sucked into the world of Japanese martial arts and joins the Tokyo Riot Police on their year-long, brutally demanding course of budo training, where any ascetic motivation soon comes up against blood-stained "white pyjamas" and fractured collarbones. In this entertaining book, Twigger blends the ancient with the modern--the ultratraditionalism, ritual, and violence of the "dojo" (training academy) with the shopping malls, nightclubs, and scenes of everyday Tokyo life in the 1990s--to provide a brilliant, bizarre glimpse of contemporary Japan.Adrift in Tokyo, "thirtynothing" Robert Twigger came to a revelation about himself: He had never been fit or brave. Guided by his roommates, he set out to cleanse his body and mind. Not knowing his fist from his elbow, the author is sucked into the world of Japanese martial arts and joins the Tokyo Riot Police on their year-long, brutally demanding course of budo training, where any ascetic motivation soon comes up against blood-stained "white pyjamas" and fractured collarbones. In this entertaining book, Twigger blends the ancient with the modern--the ultratraditionalism, ritual, and violence of the "dojo" (training academy) with the shopping malls, nightclubs, and scenes of everyday Tokyo life in the 1990s--to provide a brilliant, bizarre glimpse of contemporary Japan. ... Read more

Reviews (37)

5-0 out of 5 stars oddly inspirational
I am a dedicated and even somewhat obsessive student of budo and especially aikido. Still, this irreverent book is one of my favourites. One of the reviewers here wrote that it's "oddly inspirational"; I couldn't agree more.

Why "oddly" ? Well, it's a honest and a funny book. As you might have noticed from some of the angrier reviews, Twigger will not feed you the urban legends and "samurai-er than thou" stories which - unfortunately - many people with an interest in martial arts seem to relish. No miraculous stories about the wonders of ki here ! No Sensei worship ! I laughed my head off when I read about Twigger's and his friends' joy when the founder of their dojo dies during a period of particularly gruelling lessons (suwari-waza, ouch !) and their dojo has to close for a few days, giving them the necessary time to nurse their knees back to health. For the lay-person's benefit, in the martial arts world, this kind of attitude is the pinnacle of heresy and expresses a complete lack of "the right attitude". The portrayal of some of the people Twigger trains with isn't very flattering, but let's face it, we all know the martial arts world has its fair share of unadjusted people and nutcases. Twigger isn't particularly flattering about himself and his friends either, by the way.

I also found Twigger's description of Japanese society and mores interesting. If you're worried by one of the other reviewers statement that Twigger is a racist and a homophobe, don't worry, it's just PC hysteria.

What is inspirational about this book is that it shows what real training is like. It's hard work. It's frustrating. You quickly have to understand you're not Bruce Lee (well, I'm not, and Twigger isn't either), and it takes much energy to try to (slowly) become better instead of just giving up and finding a pursuit more adapted to your genius. You have to work with and even learn from other people whom you might not always totally like and respect. Basically, you have to accept that nothing is perfect in the real world, not you, not your partners, not even Sensei, and still strive for perfection. I think that message is much more valuable than any martial arts fairytale.

4-0 out of 5 stars Unique Tale
I would think that two groups of people in particular would find this book interesting: 1) People who have lived in Japan, and 2) People who have studied martial arts (aikido in particular).

I only qualify for the first category, but I still enjoyed this book. I certainly have new respect for anyone who can devote themselves to aikido, or any other martial art. The author has no concrete reason to start his study other than a realization that you only get one shot at life: "this is it" the author says in a moment of epiphany reminiscent of Chuck Palahniuk's "Fight Club."

The author enters the dojo knowing he'll have to work hard. Once he joins the Riot Police Course he really knows he has to work hard. With a mixture of madness, religious fervor, and perspiration, Twigger manages to survive the course. I can see where hard-core aikido artists might look down on Twigger's attitude to just "survive" the course instead of putting his whole being into it, but the point of the book is not Twigger's transformation into an aikidoka but instead what he gets out of the intense course. In fact, I don't think Twigger says if he even enters a dojo again after finishing the senshusei course. What is important is that Twigger was able to apply what he learned in the dojo in his everyday life, in how he changed his teaching strategy for example.

Several other reviewers have mentioned how this book was oddly inspiring, and I would certainly agree with them. This is the story about a year in the life of a completely ordinary guy experiencing an extraordinary challenge, and coming out victorious. This doesn't mean everyone should run out to a dojo and learn a martial art, but it is a unique spin on the old lesson to dream big, endure hardship, and accomplish your goal.

4-0 out of 5 stars a fascinating account
Approaching thirty years old, Robert Twigger was teaching English in Japan and came to the realization that he has never been fit nor brave. Not only does he decide to rectify this by learning some martial arts, he seeks out the toughest course available: the year-long Riot Police course in aikido. My own idle thoughts about how tough a course like this might be were dwarfed by the brutal reality. This fascinating account details many of the hardships the Riot Police students (senshusei) endure if they are to make it through the course. Never mind the broken bones, strains, and constant bruises, when Twigger got to the part about wearing all the skin off his knees repeatedly, I thought that only a masochist would willingly sign up for this course. (Personally, I'm going to stick to racquet sports.) I started reading this book one late night after 11pm (on a work night) and read 30 pages before forcing myself to put it down and go to bed. Angry White Pyjamas was a gripping read. I suppose the author did feel braver after the Riot Police course because a year later he began training as a bullfighter in Spain.

5-0 out of 5 stars Funny and appallingly honest
Caveat: I don't practice aikido nor do I live in Japan.

Overall, I found the book amusing. I enjoyed the game he played with his Iranian friend as well as the discussion of his friend's missing drawers. Tho' I've one minor quibble, to a one, everyone I know who does Shorinji Kempo are all on the same page in assuring me its not a cult.

On a more serious note, I especially enjoyed his description of the training. ... it seems people are offended for three over-arching reasons--they/their instructor/their colleagues are portrayed less than ideally, aikido isn't portrayed as a land of Ki Society milk and honey, or the Japanese aren't portrayed as a group of hyper-rational, hyper-polite salarymen. ... ... In my subject, I used the term appallingly honest because I doubt Twigger realized the gravity of his sins--airing his, the Yoshinkan's, and Japanese society's dirty drawers in public. After all, only a gauche foreigner who never made the effort would bring this up publicly. He forgot he was supposed to write about the glory of his adversity, the glorious mythology of his teachers, and the grandeur of Japan. Anything else would be unacceptable. Looking back, I suspect the story over his roommate's missing undies is symbolic.

In my experience in another Japanese system, instructors and training compadres often were a tad loopy and sometimes borderline mean and sometimes, well, just plain old fashioned mean. Likewise, in my experience training with aikidoka, they're the ones who come the closest to actually injuring me. For a while, I thought I was alone in noticing this, but I've heard others, including my aiki friends, say the same thing.

3-0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining; factually questionable
Having spent two years in Japan and also as a martial arts practitioner (though not aikido) I very much enjoyed this tale of one western ex-pat's experiences. It was a humorous and enjoyable read.
However, I did begin to question the accuracy and truthfulness of his accounts having come across several items I knew to be factually incorrect. For example, in speaking about Gracie juijitsu and the UFC he was incorrect on many accounts. Gracie's grandfather did not travel to Japan to learn the art. In actuality, Royce Gracie's uncle learned it from a Japanese instructor who had emigrated to Brazil. The author repeatedly called the UFC the Ultimate Fighting Challenge, when in fact it's the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Royce's fight against Kimo, described in the book, did not take place in Tokyo and didn't end by choke, but by armbar. And the author's contention that third degree black belts and above are registered with the police is false. These errors seem to indicate either blatant falsehoods or poor research. Errors in these types of things do make me look at the book as a whole in a somewhat curious light as to what other liberties were taken with actual events.
Overall, an entertaining, enjoyable read that I'd advise to take with an extremely large grain of salt. ... Read more

77. Through Different Eyes: An Immigrant's Heroic Journey, 1889-1909
by J. Alvord
list price: $22.99
our price: $22.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1413434886
Catlog: Book (2004-03-15)
Publisher: Xlibris Corporation
Sales Rank: 570725
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars A journey through time!
After completing "Through Different Eyes" I felt a part of the journey; I was right there with the immigrant child throughout her impelling story. A gifted author, J. Barbara Alvord's very personal, vivid, detailed and historically-correct vision of her grandmother's difficult and emotional journey from her homeland to America is reminiscent of the joys, hardships and opportunities experienced by so many of our own family members.The story left me wanting to know more about Anna Barbara's adult life; the ultimate compliment to the talneted writer's story-telling ability,

5-0 out of 5 stars Alvord's book will make you laugh and cry
Through Different Eyes is skillfully written. The book is based on the author's grandmother's life as an immigrant. What I like best about the book is that it reads like fiction and educates like non-fiction. The details and descriptions make the times and places come alive. I fell in love with the main character. All the characters add to the richness of the story and make you want to keep reading. The book was an emotional experience that evoked all my senses. It will hook you on the first page.

5-0 out of 5 stars Anna Barbara Mrkvicka Kups, Immigrant
Educator/Writer J. Barbara Alvord has written a book that captures your interest in its very first line: "It was pouring rain that day in April 1992, as I stood on Ellis Island...". "Through Different Eyes" spells out the poignant and loving story of her grandmother Anna who arrived at Ellis Island, knowing no English, in 1903. Alvord has created for us a touching biography of Anna, a 14 year old peasant girl who was uprooted from her small Czech farm community to face the rowdy melee that was New York City. Six weeks later she made the long, slow trip across the country to an Iowa farm.
One of Alvord's notable skills is her ability to effortlessly weave into the book the historical events in Europe and this county during 10 years of Anna's life. In addition the epilogue lists occurrences in her story starting where the book ends.Despite upheavals in her life, Anna continues to live on until 1956.
Alvord's piercing eye, her years of research, and her superb writing skills have yielded an infinitely compassionate book of her beloved grandmother, an immigrant.

5-0 out of 5 stars Treasure this True American Experience
J. Barbara Alvord manages to make history come alive in this biographical tribute to her Czech grandmother. Honest and painstakingly researched, including a visit to the archives in the Czech village of her grandmother's birth, it encompasses the childhood and young married life of Anna Mrkvicka. The book resounds on every page with wit, truth, and human interaction that are all brought to life in vivid images. Impossible to choose favorite passages, I will name some that may be more universal in interest to readers. Those would include the Czech village with its strict school run by unforgiving nuns, and its burdens and realities of village life; the astounding Atlantic Ocean ship voyage to Ellis Island and the days waiting on the Island; life in the early 1900s in New York; and the harsh family hierarchies found in the "simple" farm life of central Iowa. Through Different Eyes weaves a complex history with a loving, gutsy, sometimes humorous, always grippingly real look at the early 20th century American immigrant experience. A pleasurable mix of a young woman's determination, spiritualism, and ability to meet significant life challenges; this book belongs in every family's library somewhere near Louisa May Alcott and Willa Cather. It is one of only a few books that I relish rereading. ... Read more

78. Searching for Hassan: An American Family's Journey Home to Iran
by Terence Ward
list price: $25.00
our price: $16.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0618048448
Catlog: Book (2002-01-16)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Sales Rank: 87784
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In 1998 Terence Ward and his family set out on a long-awaited pilgrimage back home -- to the Islamic Republic of Iran, where they lived in the 1960s. Since the fall of the Shah, the country and their past had been effectively sealed off behind a veil of secrecy, and contact with one dear friend in particular, Hassan, had ceased. But memories of life in this emigmatic land -- of cherry orchards and Zoroastrian fire festivals, of the snow-capped Elburz Mountains and Hassan's magical fables--inspired the Wards to return.
SEARCHING FOR HASSAN is the wondrous and touching story of the Wards' quixotic journey, ultimately rewarded by an emotional reunion with their lost friend. They travel into an unimaginably rich Persian past, to the very origins of civilization, and across the landscape of contemporary Iran, a surreal kaleidoscope of ancient traditions and Western pop culture. Ward creates a vivid portrait of Islam's unique imprint and explores the deep conflicts between Iran and its Arab neighbors, anticipating the new "Great Game" now being played out in central Asia.
Ward's keen knowledge of Iranian culture and history, infused with the urgency of his personal journey, reveals a country that is both wildly alien and inextricably linked to the American imagination.
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Reviews (27)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Journey
The Ward Family's almost quixotic journey back to Iran to find their former housekeeper is the background to what, in many respects, is a primer on Iranian history. For me, the actual search for Hassan was a subtext to the more interesting historical and religious insights offered by the author into Islam, Iranian history and culture. At times, the book is a bit unbalanced, and anti-Western in sentiment. But, I recommend it to anyone who (like me) knows very little about Iran and its history and culture.

5-0 out of 5 stars A touching journey!
I just finished reading this book and am still wiping the tears from my eyes. "Searching for Hassan" was truly extraordinary. I cried as Hassan spoke with Terry and his brothers about how he will always remember the kindness of others, especially the kindness that Terry's family gave to him.
Iran has always been on my itinerary, as one of the places I've always wanted to visit. I learned much more than I knew before about Iranian culture, and this book left me with a longing and curiosity to see this beautiful country.
Kudos to Terence Ward!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely beautiful!
I didn't know too much about this book when I picked it up, but judging by its cover I thought it would be a quest in search of Hassan. The title, however, is a little misleading, the book is a far richer spiritual journey, breathing life into the past with a depth and richness rarely seen. I'd call the book a "hard" read for the average reader, not because the language is difficult, but because it is such a rich piece of work that you simply can not rush through it. So rich, in fact, that you have to absorb bits at a time and let it sink in. This is a gorgeous recollection by Terence Ward and is about him and his 3 brothers and parents, as they return to Iran during a time when it was not so safe for travelling foreigners, to rediscover a part of their childhood and past. The Wards have not been back to Iran since the 1960's and this adventure takes place around about 1998. The Ward family travels to desinations near and far and the prose that Ward uses to describe the terrain and people, and to also weave their past back into the story is nothing short of breathtaking. He is truly a gifted writer with a special talent for capturing moments and people and experiences, managing to flawlessly translate them into colorful prose. Searching for Hassan comes to fruition towards the end of the book, and is a beautiful story in and of itself. But I highly reccommend this book as a informative source on culture and history. I do agree with the other reviewers that the political outlook is skewed--thsi is not a better future for Iranians. The Shah might have been cruel and greedy, BUT the regime that followed was and is a classic example of "out of the frying pan and into the FIRE." One cannot help but to think that maybe Mr. Ward was influenced to write kindly about the current political regime...but read the other reviews for a deeper analysis of that as one reviewer pegs it completely, explaining all about LA Iranians and their persecution, etc. Other than the soft political views, this is actually a great piece of work---and kudos to Mr. Ward for being such an amazing man and sharing the wonderful story of his journey with his family to Iran, and bringing it all to life so movingly. His knowledge of Persian culture and history by far outrivals most of his peers. Thank you Mr. Ward!

3-0 out of 5 stars Lovely description of Iranian Culture, but...
Mr. Ward writes a pleasing account of his family's journey to Iran. His description of Iran's history and the beautiful hospitality of the Iranian people is artfully done. The people of Iran and the West have ever been friends. Mr. Ward effectively describes this hidden, but rich culture. On a personal basis, he makes a compelling argument for Rapproachment.

Respectfully, I dissent from Mr. Ward's shocking anti-American position asserted in this book and his negative description of Iranian ex-patriots. I have known many of these ex-patriots. Most fled Iran in fear for their lives. They are cultured and honest and should not be painted with the brush of profiteers. Likewise, I am disturbed by Mr. Ward's deliberately soft approach to a revolutionary regeme that executed thousands of its citizens, extended a bloody war with Iraq that could have ended years earlier, and one that has been a deliberate sponsor of international terrorism. Mr. Ward doesn't justify these acts, but does seem to reconcile them by repeating that during his journey, he noticed no beggars on the streets. I suppose you can't make an omlette without breaking a few eggs.

I recommend this book. Nonetheless, to potential purchasers, realize that it is written by someone who describes his family as having been under self imposed exile from the implicity evil United States.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best books on Iran
I am really impressed by the manner in which Terence Ward weaved his family's pre-revolution past with their journey in the quest of Hassan, throwing in gems of information about the Iranian history in between. Very well laid out book.

Amongst all of the books I read about Iran, this certainly deserves the top podium. ... Read more

79. On the Edge of Nowhere
by James Huntington, Lawrence Elliot, Lawrence Elliott
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0970849338
Catlog: Book (2002-10-01)
Publisher: Epicenter Press
Sales Rank: 18259
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

His father is a white trapper, his mother an Athabascan Indian who walks a thousand miles in winter to reunite with her family. Thus, Jimmy Huntington learns early how to survive on the land. When his mother dies, Huntington-at age seven-must care for his younger siblings.

A courageous and inspiring man, Huntington hunts wolves, fights bears, survives close calls too numerous to mention, and becomes a championship sled-dog racer.

On the Edge of Nowhere is an enduring Alaska classic, still "tingling with excitement." Jimmy Huntington's memoir is being republished in a handsome new third edition to which photographs have been added.

Lawrence Elliott, who has written several books and numerous magazine articles, was Reader's Digest correspondent for Alaska and western Canada when this story was written in the mid-1960s. Elliott now lives in France.

". . . Funny, wildly exciting, and heartbreaking . . . a wonderful reading experience." -Publishers Weekly

"One afternoon, we heard a great rumble upriver. It was an angry sound, like thunder rolling at you out of the sky. Dad and old Charlie, who knew right away what it was, ran for the bank, and Sidney and I followed. Half a mile up the river, a blue-white wall of ice had been shoved fifty feet out of the water, massive chunks under terrific pressure, groaning against one another as they were forced up from a winter-long lock on the river. The ice was going out, and it was going fast.

"'Get everything out of the cabin,' Dad said sharply. 'Put what you can on the roof. Put the rest in the cache.' Even as we worked, the ice came thundering down the river, reaching high above our heads, and geysers of water shot up over the bank. We knew we were in for it. . . . Then the ice jammed up just below the cabin, a heaving dam building from bank to bank, and the river came tearing over the land in a wild rush. 'Into the boat!' Dad yelled." -from ON THE EDGE OF NOWHERE ... Read more

Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars An inspiring, awesome true tale of adventure
Considering the few reviews this book has received, and the long wait to get the book if you order it (one-two months as of now), I have to say this is a very overlooked book. If it had the right marketing and promotions I could easily see it becoming a bestseller. If you like true life adventure, than this book is for you. The first chapter is about Jim's mother's 1000 mile trek on foot by herself from Nome to her home to be with her children. Her incredible spirit and drive is so inspiring--you have to keep reminding yourself this is a true story. If it wasn't, you would never believe it. Jim's story of his own life is just as captivating. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure, true stories, tales of Alaska and frankly, anyone who likes to read!

Order the book now and even if it takes two months to arrive, it will be a treat when it does.

5-0 out of 5 stars GREAT Story!!
I am a storyteller in Fort Worth Texas and found this book absolutely facinating. Wonderfully and simply written in the voice of Jim Huntington. I used the story recently at a Library that was focusing on Alaska of Jim's brush with the wolves and the kids loved it. I noticed in the other reviews that a relative of Mr. Huntington had left a review of the book, Martha S. Barker. I would love to talk to Mr.s Barker about Jim. If she would contact me at I would be honored. It's an adventure from beginning to end and a wondrful personal story, Worth the time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great reading
Jim is my uncle and unfortunately he passed away a several years ago; I didn't know him as well as I would have liked but heard much about him from my mother. Sidney, Jimmy's brother; wrote "Shadows on the Koyukuk" an Alaskan Native's Life along the River by Sidney Huntington as told to Jim Rearden (you'll note he also did Jimmy's book as well); Alaska Northwest Books. another 5 star book and not just because they are relatives; you'll find this when you read them yourself.

5-0 out of 5 stars On The Edge of Nowhere
This is one of the best books I've ever read. It is one that you will want to read over and over and you will never feel as though you have read it before. Full of real life adventure in the native bush. Wonderfully written.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best book I've read in years.
I actually heard of this book shortly after it was written in 1969 when I was stationed in Galena Air Force Station, Alaska in 1971. However, I never did get a chance to read it then, forgot about it and eventually found an original copy of it in an old book store. It brought back memories of my one year at Galena and decided I had to buy it. Boy, I could not put this book down and read it every spare moment. I had even read it at stop lights (not recommended)while driving to work. The endurance and hardships Jim and the peoples of Alaska had at that time in history was incredible. Makes our silly problems seem so trivial. I did briefly meet Sydney Huntington dury my stay in Galena, I just wished I'd had a chance to meet his brother Jim. I too wonder if they are still around, they would be in their eightys by now. Great book, I highly recommend it. ... Read more

80. The Cloud Garden : A True Story of Adventure, Survival, and Extreme Horticulture
by Tom Hart Dyke, Paul Winder
list price: $22.95
our price: $16.07
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1592284302
Catlog: Book (2004-08-01)
Publisher: The Lyons Press
Sales Rank: 23570
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Book Description

Kidnapped by terrorists, held hostage at gunpoint, two flower-hunting Britons live to tell their amazing tale.
... Read more

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