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    1. The Peabody Sisters : Three Women
    $23.10 $22.65 list($35.00)
    2. John Brown, Abolitionist : The
    $19.77 $19.00 list($29.95)
    3. John Jay : Founding Father
    $10.46 $4.99 list($13.95)
    4. Black Boy (Perennial Classics)
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    5. John Adams
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    6. The Professor and the Madman:
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    7. His Excellency : George Washington
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    8. Shooter : The Autobiography of
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    11. Beautiful Jim Key : The Lost History
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    13. ABOUT FACE : THE ODYSSEY OF AN
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    14. The Best Year of Their Lives:
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    15. The Lost German Slave Girl : The
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    20. Alexander Hamilton

    1. The Peabody Sisters : Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism
    by Megan Marshall
    list price: $28.00
    our price: $18.48
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0395389925
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-13)
    Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
    Sales Rank: 794
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    Book Description

    Elizabeth, Mary, and Sophia Peabody were in many ways our American Brontes. The story of these remarkable sisters — and their central role in shaping the thinking of their day — has never before been fully told. Twenty years in the making, Megan Marshall's monumental biograpy brings the era of creative ferment known as American Romanticism to new life.
    Elizabeth, the oldest sister, was a mind-on-fire thinker. A powerful influence on the great writers of the era — Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau among them — she also published some of their earliest works. It was Elizabeth who prodded these newly minted Transcendentalists away from Emerson's individualism and toward a greater connection to others. Mary was a determined and passionate reformer who finally found her soul mate in the great educator Horace Mann. The frail Sophia was a painter who won the admiration of the preeminent society artists of the day. She married Nathaniel Hawthorne — but not before Hawthorne threw the delicate dynamics among the sisters into disarray.
    Marshall focuses on the moment when the Peabody sisters made their indelible mark on history. Her unprecedented research into these lives uncovered thousands of letters never read before as well as other previously unmined original sources. The Peabody Sisters casts new light on a legendary American era. Its publication is destined to become an event in American biography.
    ... Read more


    2. John Brown, Abolitionist : The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights
    by DAVID S. REYNOLDS
    list price: $35.00
    our price: $23.10
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    Asin: 0375411887
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-19)
    Publisher: Knopf
    Sales Rank: 1207
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (4)

    4-0 out of 5 stars A good biography of Brown with important cultural issues
    When I was a child the name of John Brown was a grotesquerie.We sang about his body a moulderin' in the grave, but it was generally understood that he was some kind of crazy man who killed some people over slavery, had something to do with the Civil War, and we just shouldn't talk about it.And I am from Michigan rather than the South so this avoidance wasn't based on region.

    In the sixties I was about as removed in time from the Civil War as today's young people are from the First World War.That is, the people who were alive during the war were all but past and the children born to those who had lived through the war were now old.Still, some of the received knowledge of the war came from tradition of those who had life experience rather than from books and scholarship.However, with the Great War in our Grandparent's lives, the Second World War in our parent's lives and the echoes of Korea all around us and Vietnam getting under its bloody way, the Civil War just seemed too long ago to worry about in real life.

    I took extra time with this book because I wanted to wrestle with the idea of when a cause is important enough to justify personally initiated violence.In our present state of affairs, it is hard to conceive a wrong so great that righting it would involve action outside the political and judicial processes.At bottom, no matter how certain of the rightness and goodness of our cause, there is still some possibility that there is more to the issue than we understand and that those whom we would kill or murder might actually, in the cosmic view of things, not merit the death we would inflict on them.We have doubts enough with the state rendering a judgment of death, how much more would we doubt the rightness of a private judgment that concluded in the death of a human being.

    The author, David Reynolds, does a solid job in telling the story of John Brown.We see Brown as a human being within his time.We see his faith in God, his Puritan sense of destiny, and his fury at the injustice of slavery.As we follow him through his life we understand why he acted as he did and the enslavement and misery of four million souls makes his actions in Kansas and at Harpers Ferry make some sort of awful sense.The last two chapters make clear that this author agrees with W.E.B. DuBois that "Brown was right".Reynolds does take on the modern terrorism of the left and the right.He takes on abortion, the environment, the Islamofacists, and more.He argues that Brown was different and exceptional.He notes the power Brown's words and how his cause was taken on by so many leading into, during, and after the Civil War.

    Yet, in my own mind, if I grant that Brown is an exception I have to ask what was he exceptional with?And I note it was his eloquence in words.I still cannot help but disqualify his violence as just.His cause in freeing the slaves was certainly just, but if we allow his violence under what premise do we make that allowance?Abortion has taken millions of lives, environmentalism claims they are saving the whole planet, animal rights claims they are sparing billions of animals, and on and on the fever goes until it reaches into insanity.Whose conscience do we grant the privileged position of spilling everyone's blood?

    Brown had the passion, conscience, and eloquence that he could have used to make a powerful case against slavery as he did after his trial.He would have had, I believe, and even greater impact against slavery with his preaching than with his sword.Remember, every other country in the world abandoned slavery without the violence of our Civil War.And even if we grant that the War freed the slaves in 1865 while a nonviolent approach would have taken decades longer, we also have to admit it was another century of work and too often bloodshed before the descendants of those slaves got close to the civil rights promised them.And don't forget that the man who did the most to move society to accepting those rights was Martin Luther King who preached nonviolence.Thurgood Marshall won Brown v. Board of Education without guns as well.

    Yes, there is more to do.Certainly, there is cruelty and injustice almost more than we can bear in the world.But bear it we must as we work towards a better world.Our methods in that work do matter and we must not become deluded that our personal sense of righteousness actually grants us a special position from which we can deal injustice in the name of a higher cause.

    This is a thoughtful book and deserves to be read.You will gain a lot from it and wrestling with these awful events will help you clarify what exactly it is you do believe.

    1-0 out of 5 stars There are better biographies of John Brown
    Don't waste your time on this book. Find and read Otto Scott's "John Brown and the Secret Six" which has plenty of evidence of the terrorist roots of John Brown and his band.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Marvellous
    Ideal for those of you who want to find out about John Brown, Abolitionist : The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Christian Right Wing Terrorist
    I'm not so sure that I agree with Dr. Reynolds subtitle.

    John Brown didn't exactly end slavery. That took a little over two million men; 359,528 of whom died.

    Did he spark the Civil War? Certainly he was one spark. Dr. Reynolds writes that the Civil War might have been delayed, except for John Brown's murderous raids and the seizure of the federal armory at Harpers Ferry. If it had been delayed, might it not have happened?

    Seeding Civil Rights, OK! But if so, the growth and maturity of the Civil Rights movement took another hundred years and the actions of a lot of people.

    From this you can guess the tone of the book. Dr. Reynolds presents Brown as a Puritan pioneer rather than a crazed fanatic. I wonder if he would present Timothy McVeigh and the Christian Right prople who blow up women's clinics in the same way.

    You can certainly say that Dr. Reynolds presents a strong viewpoint almost praising John Brown, yet at the same time he does point out that the actions of John Brown would today mark him as a terrorist. ... Read more


    3. John Jay : Founding Father
    by Walter Stahr
    list price: $29.95
    our price: $19.77
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1852854448
    Catlog: Book (2005-03-15)
    Publisher: Hambledon & London
    Sales Rank: 4123
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    The first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as well as President of the Continental Congress, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and one time Governor of New York, John Jay was a Founding Father of paramount importance to the early Republic and did much to influence the shape of America's future. Walter Stahr's lively and engaging narrative illuminates the great life of an American soldier, politician, diplomat and lawyer. Readers will follow Jay's story through key events in early American history, such as the Revolutionary War, the writing of the Constitution, the first presidencies of the country, and the creation of our most authoritative legal body, the US Supreme Court. Now,Stahr presents Jay in the light he deserves: a Founding Father, a true national hero, and an architect of America's future.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (5)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Re-Founded Father
    John Jay is one those historical figures that most Americans with some knowledge of this country's political birth can recall, but not quite place. Walter Stahr performs a great service in bringing Jay's life story forward to this generation of readers. I think the author's balanced legal analysis of Jay's service on the Supreme Court is especially fine.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Jay as negotiator
    The "Economist" got it right.Read this surprisingly passionate book and see what happens when an experienced financial negotiator writes diplomatic history.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Splendid Story of A Little Known Founding Father
    Except for the occassional crossword puzzle or question on Jeopardy, John Jay has been largely forgotten. His resume would fit right in with Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton and the others, but he was not president, he was not a signer of the Declaration of Independence. In fact, he did not initially favor independence from Britain. Yet, once the revolution was started, he was an ardent supporter of the new nation.

    In 1782 he, along with Adams and Franklin negeotiated the peace treaty with England. When he returned he found that he had been appointed Secretary of State. In 1789 Washington sent Congress a list of appointments to the new Supreme Court, with Jay as the first chief justice.

    As chief justice the Jay court established the court as a reasoned and honorable institution that carries forth many of the traditions that he established. After six years he retired from the court, and Washington immediately sent him to England to negeotiate a new treaty clarifying certain points of the 1782 treaty. While he was in England he was elected to be Governor of New York, where he served for two terms.

    Considering the quality of leadership he exhibited in New York, perhaps we should consider sending all politicians overseas somewhere while we hold elections.

    This is a splended book and well deserves a place alongside the recent spat of books we've had on our founding fathers.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The enjoyable story of a serious guy
    Walter Stahr has produced a very impressive book.He has written an eloquent and sympathetic biography about a man who lacked the eloquence of a Jefferson, or the charm of a Hamilton, or the common touch of a Lincoln.

    We are greatly in Stahr's debt.John Jay was a super-competent and super-dependable guy who gave stability to so many of our early institutions, from the Continental Congress to the Constitution (Federalist Papers) to the Supreme Court (first Chief Justice).

    Stahr's work suggests an untapped treasure for good writers.Give us more sympathetic biographies of the bland trail-blazers who gave our nation its strength and character.Just remember -- write about someone you truly like and admire!

    5-0 out of 5 stars GREAT BIO OF A GREAT AMERICAN
    This is a wonderfully-written biography of one of the Founding Fathers who has been more or less forgotten. Read this book to understand why John Jay deserves a place in the pantheon of America's origins. Walter Stahr writes with passion and understanding and this book compares very well to Chernow's Alexander Hamilton bio and McCullough's John Adams. It's hard to imagine how someone of Jay's immense talent and impact has not been written about before now. This is highly recommended. ... Read more


    4. Black Boy (Perennial Classics)
    by Richard A. Wright
    list price: $13.95
    our price: $10.46
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0060929782
    Catlog: Book (1998-09-01)
    Publisher: Perennial Classics
    Sales Rank: 11016
    Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    With an introduction by Jerry W. Ward, Jr.

    Black Boy is a classic of American autobiography, a subtly crafted narrative of Richard Wright's journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. An enduring story of one young man's coming off age during a particular time and place, Black Boy remains a seminal text in our history about what it means to be a man, black, and Southern in America.

    "Superb...The Library of America has insured that most of Wright's major texts are now available as he wanted them to be tread...Most important of all is the opportunity we now have to hear a great American writer speak with his own voice about matters that still resonate at the center of our lives."
    --Alfred Kazin, New York Time Book Review

    "The publication of this new edition is not just an editorial innovation, it is a major event in American literary history."
    --Andrew Delbanco, New Republic

    ... Read more

    Reviews (117)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent description of negro life in the 1920's
    "Black Boy" is a great autobiographical book written by Richard Wright. Richard, the main character in the story, goes through many trials and tribulations in finding what he loves to do- write. The description of the hardships of negro life in the 1920's and how discrimination ran rampant was excellently described by Wright....the only flaw is maybe a little overexaggeration going on in the descriptions of racism and other hate from whites towards blacks. Richard Wright descibes well though the trials and tribulations of an average negro in American society in that time period. This book is great for teenagers; over the age of 16 though. I say this because vulgar language is constant throughout the story and a couple sex scenes are described explicitly in the book. This is a must-read for young adults.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Book To Read
    I recently read Black Boy by Richard Wright and I must say it is an amazing book. The book is about Richard growing up in the South in the early 1900's. It may sound a little boring but believe me it's not. Richard had a hard life growing up and that's what makes the book so interesting. Burning up houses, killing cats, and becoming a drunk were just some of the things he did before reaching the age of eight. The thing I like most about him is how he grew up very poor, moved from place to place, including an orphanage, never completed two consecutive school years, and still managed to become a well-educated young man and a world-famous writer. Although the book was very interesting there were some parts at the end that I felt were a little boring, but maybe that's just me. Either way, I think Richard Wright was a very talented writer, and if you get the chance, you should read his autobiography, Black Boy. I recommend this book to anyone over the age of thirteen that is interested in learning about history or just likes to read about some hardships other people had to face growing up.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Wright Auto Bio
    The first Wrift book I read was the impressive 'Native Son'. I found Black Boy and read it. It's easy to read and gives you a good insight in how black life in the south was in the 1920. Wright's life as for so many has not been easy: no father, a crippled mother, racism abound. But still he finds time to read books and he reads the classics. Especially Babbit was one of his favorites (and one of mine too). Via Memphis he goes to Chicago were he becomes a more famous writer and starts working/writing for the communist party where he has a lot of trouble as an independant thinker.

    This book gives a great insight into black life. REal events are interspersed with his thinking about race relations. It is also easy to read and won't take a long time to finish. Definitely worth reading!

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Book to Remember
    Black Boy, an autobiography written by Richard Wright, describes what many average African American children faced growing up in the Jim Crow South. Wright described the poverty that he, his friends and family lived through and the agony and dangers they had to face day-to-day. Wright also described the unfair treatment from white people that African Americans had to endure and ignore. He also described how white people treated African Americans as slaves. Wright wrote in excruciating detail bringing to the reader what life was truly like in the South and in the U.S. in the early 1900s.
    I enjoyed reading Black Boy since it gave me insight into how African Americans were really treated in the South. The book really showed me the crisis that America was in over racial segregation. Black Boy also described the despicable acts that white people committed on African Americans for pleasure and entertainment. Richard Wright's actions showed me how a person that is always put down can still strive to be the best. Wright never gave up and kept on dreaming about his goals in life. Wright's book really showed the determination that one can have. His actions in life influenced me to never give up and to keep on trying no matter what someone tells me to do. This was a great book and if one wants to understand what things were like for African Americans in the South in the 1900s, they should read it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A remarkable autobiography
    Black Boy is a outstanding autobiography about Richard Wright. Richard writes about his whole life. The book shows the great discrimination Richard faced, as well as he a lot of the times stood up for what he believed in. He fights the world back and in the end his dream of becoming a writer comes true, but not only does he become a writer he also becomes one of the best writers of the 20th century. ... Read more


    5. John Adams
    by David McCullough
    list price: $35.00
    our price: $23.10
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0684813637
    Catlog: Book (2001-05-22)
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster
    Sales Rank: 6626
    Average Customer Review: 4.62 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com's Best of 2001

    Left to his own devices, John Adams might have lived out his days as a Massachusetts country lawyer, devoted to his family and friends. As it was, events swiftly overtook him, and Adams--who, David McCullough writes, was "not a man of the world" and not fond of politics--came to greatness as the second president of the United States, and one of the most distinguished of a generation of revolutionary leaders. He found reason to dislike sectarian wrangling even more in the aftermath of war, when Federalist and anti-Federalist factions vied bitterly for power, introducing scandal into an administration beset by other difficulties--including pirates on the high seas, conflict with France and England, and all the public controversy attendant in building a nation.

    Overshadowed by the lustrous presidents Washington and Jefferson, who bracketed his tenure in office, Adams emerges from McCullough's brilliant biography as a truly heroic figure--not only for his significant role in the American Revolution but also for maintaining his personal integrity in its strife-filled aftermath. McCullough spends much of his narrative examining the troubled friendship between Adams and Jefferson, who had in common a love for books and ideas but differed on almost every other imaginable point. Reading his pages, it is easy to imagine the two as alter egos. (Strangely, both died on the same day, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.) But McCullough also considers Adams in his own light, and the portrait that emerges is altogether fascinating. --Gregory McNamee ... Read more

    Reviews (536)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Never Disappointing
    John Adams was a patriot, a devoted husband, father, and friend. This is itself is not too extraordinary. What marks his life, however, is his devotion to the written word. Over the course of his long and fruitful life, Adams was an obsessive letter-writer. Lucky for us! McCullough weaves political and national history with Adams' amazing volume of personal letters, allowing us to view both the relevant history as well as the man behind the history. Indeed, the long dealings with the complex relationship between Adams and Jefferson is wonderful; however, it would be in poor form to single out any one part of the book as extraordinary. It is all extraordinary!
    I'll admit that in some parts the book seemed a bit long, but it was never boring, never uninteresting, and never non-entertaining.
    After having read McCullough's "Truman," I was very happy to see his latest work. I find his writing style to be lucid and captivating. Try it - you won't be disappointed.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Man Of Sound Moral Principle
    My husband and I listened to the audio tape of this book and it was truly time well spent. Each morning, along with our coffee, we had breakfast with John and Abigail Adams. They both made a lasting impression in my mind. David McCullough did a fantastic job of bringing John & Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin to life. The historical events became more interesting when interjected with the feelings and reflections that the founding fathers had on the various events. The author used excerpts from countless letters that passed between Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, and other great men, to give us their thoughts in their own words.

    John Adams, the man seemed to have been brilliant, pompous, very
    likable and extremely exasperating. His personal integrity noted by many people was one of his most prominent features.From a Massachusetts country lawyer, he went on to become a member of the Continental Congress, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He secured loans from the Dutch for the fledgling American government, helped to negotiate the peace treaty with Great Britain and, for three years served as our first minister to the Court of Saint James in London. He was our first Vice President serving under George Washington and, of course our second President.

    Many pages are devoted to the often troubled relationship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. They made their peace in the last years of their lives, and the letters that passed between these two American icons, were wonderful. In the end, they shared one final day. They both died on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

    McCullough even gives us a love story that’s told through the letters and diaries of John and Abigail. The love and sacrifices they made for their country during and after the revolution is something that seems to be unparalleled in any other historic couple. Abigail appeared to be an equal partner in her relationship with John. Because of his appointments and positions, she was on her own and managing their property for months and years at a time, and made many choices and decisions that greatly influenced their lives. She not only helped her husband become the second President of the U. S.,
    she also raised a son, John Quincy Adams who became the sixth President of the U. S.

    This well researched book gave me the feeling of witnessing the birth of my country. The book’s narrator, Nelson Runger did an excellent job.

    5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best biographies I have read...
    This book is a very readable book. Unlike some other history books which are dry, this one reads like a novel. I loved how they showed the personal side of a public man. His loving relationship with his wife Abigail is revealed through letters he wrote her. I also loved how the author described John Adams relationship with Thomas Jefferson, down to the little details like when they shared a room in philly one wanted the window open and the other wanted it closed. This book shows that the founding fathers did not live in a vacuum, all alone, responding to each others politics; but that they were freinds with complex relationships. I like how this book lets us see our countries greatest patriots as real people. I highly reccomend this book, there is a sage like quality to it. If this was the kind of reading offered in high school or college, I might have been more interested in history.

    4-0 out of 5 stars good beach read
    Am 300 pages into this novel. It's very descriptive and really gives you a sense of the person, as well as the other revolutionary characters. You can very clearly picture the obstacles he faced and what type of man he was. I'm thoroughly enjoying it -- and recently heard it may be made into an HBO movie by Tom Hanks.

    4-0 out of 5 stars John Adams, Abigail and Jefferson
    The book on John Adams by David McCullough is very precise and gives a great overview of the second president of the United STates but also of the country itself. Having been the person defending the Constitution on the Congress floor, being the ambassador in France and The Netherlands (very interesting to read for Dutchmen like myself) to the days of his vice-presidency under George Washington and his own presidency.

    Most of the sources are the letters between him and his wife Abigail, one of the foremost women in her time. It deals with politics but also with personal problems like disease in the family and the death of a son due to alcohol.

    His relationship with Thomas Jefferson is fascinating; sometimes loving, sometimes hating. They could not get along when they were president and vice-president. In the end through letters they come closer again and freakingly enough they die on the same day, the 4th of July when they were there signing the Declaration of Independence. ... Read more


    6. The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary
    by Simon Winchester
    list price: $13.95
    our price: $10.46
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 006099486X
    Catlog: Book (1999-08)
    Publisher: Perennial
    Sales Rank: 1568
    Average Customer Review: 3.81 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    The Professor and the Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary--and literary history. The compilation of the OED, begun in 1857, was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.

     

    ... Read more

    Reviews (344)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Too little story, too much padding...
    The title of this book, "The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary" is far more intriguing than the book itself. Once you get the main idea, that one of the most important contributors to the Oxford English Dictionary was an American living in a mad-house, there's not much more to tell. And yet, Simon Winchester goes on to tell it for another 200 or so pages.

    The problem is that what sounds like a fascinating story really isn't. I mean, nothing much happens. Dr. W. C. Minor is delusional, murders a man, and is placed in a mental institution. Dr. Murray begins work on the Oxford Dictionary and makes a public request for volunteers to read through books and find examples of words. Dr. Minor responds to the advertisement from his cell, and is of great help.

    Time passes. Eventually, both men die of old age.

    End of story.

    Simon Winchester tries to fill pages with baseless supposition, along the lines of "Perhaps it was this early experience of watching young maidens bathing in the river that would eventually lead Dr. Minor to the confused mental state that would, ultimately, land him in a mental hospital." After a while, though, one can't help thinking, it would have been nice if this book had an actual story behind it. "Perhaps Dr. Minor had an affair with the widow of the man he murdered. Although there is no evidence to suggest that anything of the kind ever occurred..."

    What was interesting was seeing some of the early definitions of the words themselves, but that was a very small part of the book. Ultimately, "The Professor and the Madman" is a bit of fluff. There's enough information to make for a fascinating 5-page article, but it's extended and padded to fill a book.

    Only for the very bored...

    4-0 out of 5 stars interesting story
    This is a marvelous book about the Professor, James Murray, the primary editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, and the Madman, Dr. William C. Minor, one of the Dictionary's most prolific contributors, despite his incarceration in an asylum for the criminally insane after committing a senseless murder provoked by his delusions. The book tells the stories of each of these protagonists as well as the making of the OED itself, and nicely wraps up all of the connections, even to the point of showing what happened to the murdered man's family (whose widow visited Minor regularly
    for months).

    3-0 out of 5 stars Quick read for philologists, historians, and others.
    I like reading the occasional historical fact (rather than historical fiction) "novelette," and The Professor and the Madman was definitely easy to get through. One can learn much from books like this, particularly the way normal people lived their day-to-day lives in a certain time and place.

    A few things I liked about this book:

    1. One will assuredly learn a thing or two about the English language, in reading it. You will learn some obsolete words, the origin of some words, and just get a refresher of other, more common words. Each chapter begins with a dictionary entry of a particular word, some very normal words, some more exotic words.

    2. The parallel lives of the two main characters are interesting to follow. One feels real emotions for both. There are a few shocking moments in the book, which stand out quite a bit in front of the otherwise fairly tame narrative.

    3. I grew up with the Oxford English Dictionary, and I always wondered how they compiled all the words. It was great learning about how they did that.

    4. The book covers an array of themes and topics, and a fairly diverse geography. Mental illness, civil war, sexual propriety, crime and punishment, one can learn a little bit about a lot of issues in the reading of Simon Winchester's book.

    I wouldn't recommend the book to just anyone, though. It can be kind of slow, and sometimes one simply grows tired of bouncing back and forth between the two main characters. It is also fairly short; one sort of wishes for more detail on certain events. In some places, the book reads like a crime/detective novel from the 19th century, in others it is more like a biography. It sort of skips around from one style to the next, almost as if different parts were written at very different times by an author in very different states of mind. Overall, though, this book is a nice, quick read, a good plot, and you will learn a thing or two from it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Footnote to History
    Simon Winchester has written a very unusual book about a very strange series of events during the last century and the dawn of this one. First, we have various literary authorities in England deciding to compile and edit a massive dictionary (eventually it became the Oxford English Dictionary), which took 70 years to finish and filled multiple volumes. Then we have the editor of the project for most of its life discovering that one of his most valuable contributors was in a lunatic asylum because he murdered someone. The story goes from there.

    Winchester is a good writer, and he milks this story for everything it's worth. He spends a good deal of time talking about side issues, as is common with this sort of slice-of-life thing. He does a very good job with them, as far as I can tell. I'm pretty knowledgeable with regards to the American Civil War; the author must tell you of the Battle of the Wilderness to explain how the murderer went mad, and he does so skilfully. The writing of the OED and its contents are intelligently discussed and dissected, and the history of dictionaries themselves was fascinating. The other characters, namely the editor of the dictionary itself, James Murray, are interesting and well-drawn.

    I enjoyed this book a great deal. It is short, but it's fascinating, and I would recommend it pretty much universally.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Fun and Accessible
    Being a dictionary enthusiast, especially of the OED, I was excited to come across this book. It reads quickly, and has a wealth of factual information and also some fun speculation. The author uses lots of words which are themselves fun to look up, but also has OED references printed right in. I suggest that any fan of the OED read this book. ... Read more


    7. His Excellency : George Washington
    by Joseph J. Ellis
    list price: $26.95
    our price: $16.17
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1400040310
    Catlog: Book (2004-10-26)
    Publisher: Knopf
    Sales Rank: 10
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    Amazon.com

    As commander of the Continental army, George Washington united the American colonies, defeated the British army, and became the world's most famous man. But how much doAmericans really know about their first president? Today, as Pulitzer Prize-winner Joseph J. Ellis says in this crackling biography, Americans see their first president on dollar bills, quarters, and Mount Rushmore, but only as "an icon--distant, cold, intimidating." In truth, Washington was a deeply emotional man, but one who prized and practiced self-control (an attribute reinforced during his years on the battlefield).

    Washington first gained recognition as a 21-year-old emissary for the governor of Virginia, braving savage conditions to confront encroaching French forces. As the de facto leader of the American Revolution, he not only won the country's independence, but helped shape its political personality and "topple the monarchical and aristocratic dynasties of the Old World." When the Congress unanimously elected him president, Washington accepted reluctantly, driven by his belief that the union's very viability depended on a powerful central government. In fact, keeping the country together in the face of regional allegiances and the rise of political parties may be his greatest presidential achievement.

    Based on Washington's personal letters and papers, His Excellency is smart and accessible--not to mention relatively brief, in comparison to other encyclopedic presidential tomes. Ellis's short, succinct sentences speak volumes, allowing readers to glimpse the man behind the myth. --Andy Boynton

    Amazon.com Exclusive Content
    Curious about George?
    Amazon.com reveals a few facts about the legendary first president of the United States.

    Washington bust by Jean Antoine Houdon.
    Courtesy of the Mt. Vernon Ladies' Assoc.

    1. The famous tale about Washington chopping down the cherry tree ("Father, I cannot tell a lie") is a complete fabrication.

    2. George Washington never threw a silver dollar across the Potomac River--in fact, to do so from the shore of his Mount Vernon home would have been physically impossible.

    3. George Washington did not wear wooden teeth. His poorly fitting false teeth were in fact made of cow's teeth, human teeth, and elephant ivory set in a lead base.

    4. Early in his life, Washington was himself a slave owner. His opinions changed after he commanded a multiracial army in the Revolutionary War.He eventually came to recognize slavery as "a massive American anomaly."

    5. In 1759, having resigned as Virginia's military commander to become a planter, Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis. Washington’s marriage to the colony's wealthiest widow dramatically changed his life, catapulting him into Virginia aristocracy.

    6. Scholars have discredited suggestions that Washington's marriage to Martha lacked passion, as well as the provocative implications of the well-worn phrase "George Washington slept here."

    7. Washington held his first public office when he was 17 years old, as surveyor of Culpeper County, Virginia.

    8. At age 20, despite no prior military experience, Washington was appointed an adjutant in the Virginia militia, in which he oversaw several militia companies, and was assigned the rank of major.

    9. As a Virginia aristocrat, Washington ordered all his coats, shirts, pants, and shoes from London. However, most likely due to the misleading instructions he gave his tailor, the suits almost never fit. Perhaps this is why he appears in an old military uniform in his 1772 portrait.

    10. In 1751, during a trip to Barbados with his half-brother Lawrence, Washington was stricken with smallpox and permanently scarred. Fortunately, this early exposure made him immune to the disease that would wipe out colonial troops during the Revolutionary War.

    Timeline
    Important dates in George Washington's life.
    Engraving of Mount Vernon, 1804. Courtesy of the Mt. Vernon Ladies' Assoc.

    1732: George Washington is born at his father's estate in Westmoreland County, Virginia.

    1743: George’s father, Augustine Washington, dies.

    1752: At age 20, despite the fact that he has never served in the military, Washington is appointed adjutant in the Virginia militia, with the rank of major.

    1753: As an emissary to Virginia Lieutenant Governor Robert Dinwiddie, he travels to the Ohio River Valley to confront French forces--the first of a series of encounters that would lead to the French and Indian War.

    1755: Washington is appointed commander-in-chief of Virginia's militia.

    1759: He marries wealthy widow Martha Dandridge Custis.

    1774: Washington is elected to the First Continental Congress.

    1775: He is unanimously elected by the Continental Congress as its army's commander-in-chief. Start of the American Revolution.

    1776: On Christmas Day, Washington leads his army across the Delaware River and launches a successful attack against Hessian troops in Trenton, New Jersey.

    1781: With the French, he defeats British troops in Yorktown, Virginia, precipitating the end of the war.

    1783: The Revolutionary War officially ends.

    1788: The Constitution is ratified.

    1789: Washington is elected president.

    1797: He fulfillshis last term as president.

    1799: Washington dies on December 14, sparking a period of national mourning.

    ... Read more

    8. Shooter : The Autobiography of the Top-Ranked Marine Sniper
    by Donald A. Davis, Jack Coughlin, Casey Kuhlman
    list price: $24.95
    our price: $16.47
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0312336853
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
    Publisher: St. Martin's Press
    Sales Rank: 20
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    With more than sixty confirmed kills, Jack Coughlin is the Marine Corps' top-ranked sniper. Shooter is his harrowing first-person account of a sniper's life on and off the modern battlefield.
    Gunnery Sgt. Jack Coughlin is a divorced father of two who grew up in a wealthy Boston suburb. At the age of nineteen, although he had never even held a gun, he joined the Marines and would spend the next twenty years behind the scope of a long-range precision rifle as a sniper.
    In that time he accumulated one of the most successful sniper records in the Corps, ranging through many of the world's hotspots. During Operation Iraqi Freedom alone, he recorded at least thirty-six kills, thirteen of them in a single twenty-four-hour period.
    Now Coughlin has written a highly personal story about his deadly craft, taking readers deep inside an invisible society that is off-limits to outsiders. This is not a heroic battlefield memoir, but the careful study of an exceptional man who must keep his sanity while carrying forward one of the deadliest legacies in the U.S. military today.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (9)

    4-0 out of 5 stars One Shot, One Kill
    This is a non stop action filled read with a great human touch. The best book I have read in years about the struggle to keep your mind on killing vice having to live with it.The book focuses primarily on the most recent war in Iraq, but opens with the author's experience in Somalia.I would have liked to have read more about the author's 20 years in the marine corps, but nevertheless, this was a great read.I particularly enjoyed the author's opinions regarding the differences between an urban environment, and a jungle environment.Also, his views on the evolution of the deployment of snipers was very interesting.Finally, this book was a good, first person account of war.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An interesting autobiography and psychological study
    This is a very gripping book by a man who has a rather unusual job. The job he doesis a job that when troops are deployed must be done. It is a job that we collectively as a country sanction. It is an interesting study of one man's mind as he is doing this job. Whether you are hawk or doveit is a book that should be read as it more about human psychology than it is about war.
    Of courseby saying this I do not mean to say that the book is devoid of history as it is chock full of it.
    It is also not just about killing but about skill and what it means to be skilled at something.
    If you give this book a chance it will get you thinking.
    A very challengingand multileveled book that is not so easy to dismiss (as much as many would perhaps like). It is very much worthy of your attention.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Shooter for real
    The name is Hathcock, Carlos Hathcock, not Hackworth. Yes he was an increbible shot, probably the best ever, but give this man his due, especially if you've never put on a uniform, stared down the barrel at another man and ended that man's life. The equipment is a moot point, it's more about the emotion,character, and everything else involved in making that shot, and the consequences good or bad.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great!!
    Shooter is an excellent book, filled with plenty of real world action, but that is not the strength of it. Shooter puts you into the mind of the sniper, as you attempt to understand the conflict of emotion a sniper endures. When reading through the book, you often have to stop, and remind yourself, that this book is written by real people describing actual events, not some fiction tale typed up by someone who hasn't "been there". If you want to truly understand the combat environment, and not read a list of chronological events, or the distorted views of sideline observers, read Shooter.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Compelling true story
    While reading this book you feel like your looking through the scope of Gunny Coughlins sniper rifle. He brings you into the highs and lows of todays battlefield. Gunny Coughlins experience as a Marine sniper is his own not Gunny Hackworths or any other
    sniper. I'm sure Gunny Coughlin has the utmost respect for his craft and all other snipers who came before him and all to come in the future. To give a bad review because of advancements in weapon technology is to show disrespect to the craft and to the marine sniper and Gunny Coughlin. Semper Fi. ... Read more


    9. My Life
    by Bill Clinton
    list price: $35.00
    our price: $21.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0375414576
    Catlog: Book (2004-06)
    Publisher: Knopf
    Sales Rank: 35
    Average Customer Review: 3.19 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    An exhaustive, soul-searching memoir, Bill Clinton's My Life is a refreshingly candid look at the former president as a son, brother, teacher, father, husband, and public figure. Clinton painstakingly outlines the history behind his greatest successes and failures, including his dedication to educational and economic reform, his war against a "vast right-wing operation" determined to destroy him, and the "morally indefensible" acts for which he was nearly impeached. My Life is autobiography as therapy--a personal history written by a man trying to face and banish his private demons.

    Clinton approaches the story of his youth with gusto, sharing tales of giant watermelons, nine-pound tumors, a charging ram, famous mobsters and jazz musicians, and a BB gun standoff. He offers an equally energetic portrait of American history, pop culture, and the evolving political landscape, covering the historical events that shaped his early years (namely the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and JFK) and the events that shaped his presidency (Waco, Bosnia, Somalia). What makes My Life remarkable as a political memoir is how thoroughly it is infused with Clinton's unassuming, charmingly pithy voice:

    I learned a lot from the stories my uncle, aunts, and grandparents told me: that no one is perfect but most people are good; that people can't be judged only by their worst or weakest moments; that harsh judgments can make hypocrites of us all; that a lot of life is just showing up and hanging on; that laughter is often the best, and sometimes the only, response to pain.

    However, that same voice might tire readers as Clinton applies his penchant for minute details to a distractible laundry list of events, from his youth through the years of his presidency. Not wanting to forget a single detail that might help account for his actions, Clinton overdoes it--do we really need to know the name of his childhood barber? But when Clinton sticks to the meat of his story--recollections about Mother, his abusive stepfather, Hillary, the campaign trail, and Kenneth Starr--the veracity of emotion and Kitchen Confidential-type revelations about "what it is like to be President" make My Life impossible to put down.

    To Clinton, "politics is a contact sport," and while he claims that My Life is not intended to make excuses or assign blame, it does portray him as a fighter whose strategy is to "take the first hit, then counterpunch as hard as I could." While My Life is primarily a stroll through Clinton's memories, it is also a scathing rebuke--a retaliation against his detractors, including Kenneth Starr, whose "mindless search for scandal" protected the guilty while "persecuting the innocent" and distracted his Administration from pressing international matters (including strikes on al Qaeda). Counterpunch indeed.

    At its core, My Life is a charming and intriguing if flawed book by an equally intriguing and flawed man who had his worst failures and humiliations made public. Ultimately, the man who left office in the shadow of scandal offers an honest and open account of his life, allowing readers to witness his struggle to "drain the most out of every moment" while maintaining the character with which he was raised. It is a remarkably intimate, persuasive look at the boy he was, the President he became, and man he is today. --Daphne Durham ... Read more

    Reviews (463)

    2-0 out of 5 stars Arrived with a Thud, turned into a Dud.
    If you remember the 1988 convention speech where Clinton was nearly booed off the stage for taking too long or the state-of-the-union where he droned for over 90 minutes, you may recall the feeling you'll get somewhere around page 250 of this tome ... "when will it end?"

    This particular work of mostly self-aggrandizing fiction suffers from being so self-absorbed and so badly edited it totally detracts from the nuggets of humanity and historical interest in the text. It's the "Heaven's Gate" of Presidential memoirs. That Liberals are dutifully reading this and watching the exposed liar Michael Moore (...) this summer says much about their fanatic religious devotion to their faith. Faith requires suffering!

    The memoir still whitewashes much wrt Clinton's 'scandalabra', even while admitting to the bare minimum to keep it credible to the faithful. So we get Monica semi- mea culpa, but what about Genifer Flowers (she claimed a 13 year affair), or his pardon of Marc Rich? Or for that matter *important stuff* like how the Chinese managed to funnel illegal funds to his campaign in 96? Maybe its too much to expect an exhumation of his skeleton closet, but he manages to say so much yet reveal so little in so many pages. And he's entitled to his own opinions about other folks, but his view on Starr and the constitutional issues and process involved in the impeachment show he is trying to re-write history and doesnt understand Starr's appropriate role and actions. He doesnt get it - it was about lying under oath.

    Dont read this. Read the Marinass bio and read Rich Lowry's "Legacy" and somewhere in the middle of their accounts is what really happened.

    Lastly, read U.S. Grant's memoirs, the best Presidential memiors, writeen before Presidential memoirs were excercises in self-justification. They have all the economy and sparseness in style, bright narrative, and objective viewpoint that Clinton's memoirs lack. And he recount events far more important, like how the Civil War was won by the Union side, than details of Clinton's campaign events.

    4-0 out of 5 stars An Easy, Pleasant Read
    I approached the book as though it was written -- not by a former Democratic President -- but a man with amazing life experiences. The insight the author provided on the workings of the executive branch of our government, along with international events were just icing on the cake for me.

    The writing is very easy to read; the story flows smoothly. All in all, I enjoy the voice that is projected from the author's composition.

    I found it interesting that on page 811, when Clinton was introspective about his affair with Monica, his revelation is that he is vulnerable to making selfish and self-destructive personal mistakes when he is exhausted, angry, or feeling isolated. This mirrors the 12-step recovery motto of HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired), which recognize our vulnerabilities to succumb to our addictions.

    I must say that Clinton's description of sleeping on a couch for two months following his admission to Hillary regarding Ms. Lewinsky was hard to believe. Perhaps he was placing himself in the doghouse, making use of the couch adjacent to their bedroom, but still -- there were so many other bedrooms in the White House. Aside from that, I'm glad Clinton disclosed that he and Hillary participated in weekly couples counseling for a year.

    My favorite parts of the book cover Clinton's reflections on family, friends, and associates who passed away. This is where he shared personal thoughts on the affect these people had on him, and how he mourned their deaths.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Look At The Most Controversial President
    A Fascinating Look At The Most Controversial President

    This book will intrigue anyone who cares about America. You get an insider's view from the divisive man himslef. You'll also learn the struggles all presidents must face, and the role the media played in helping and hurting Clinton.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Heartfelt Willie!!
    In 2001, William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton exited the White House after becoming the first two-term Democratic president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Instead of praise for surmounting numerous and incredible life obstacles, his rags-to-riches personal life story actually had the right wing seriously enraged enough to attempt a sham impeachment and conviction on anything (and EVERYTHING) they thought up. The reception discrepancy between his personal history and presidential administration is painstakingly explored in the personal autobiography---with no detail spared. I am not fortunate enough to live near a city where Clinton undertook book promotion tours, but this title's price vs. length and quality is well worth those televised all-night camp outs.

    Eschewing a ghost-writer, Clinton personally poured his heart and mind about personal and potentially difficult subjects which former presidents (of all ideologies) shielded themselves from. Choosing the less-utilized "open disclosure" route is a refreshing contribution to American public policymaking. It is also one which more public officials should follow.

    Rather than seeing diversity as an election strategy, Clinton genuinely appreciates social justice movements which attempt to make the world radically different from his Arkansas boyhood. In the television era's early days, then-Governor Orval Fabus tried to maintain segregation 'standing in front of the schoolhouse door' to Little Rock's Central High School (pp. 38-39) Undoubtedly this incident's horror (and fears that all southerners were presumed to agree with Faubus) helped solidify determination to pursue a radically contrasting racial public policy legacy (pp. 559-560). In turn, Clinton's early decision explains why I and many other people love him today.

    Repeatedly, Clinton draws upon his witness to the 1957 Little Rock action as one motivator for public service (the other of course is meeting President Kennedy at a D.C. Boys Town Summit). Because I am also growing up in a conservative southern town, I am comforted things do change; a young Republican who openly cheered during the announcement of President Kennedy's assassination later became a Democrat, social worker, and one of Clinton's biggest political supporters (p. 65). The bigger person recognizes when it is time to mend the oft-mentioned political fences. During his Arkansas Governorship Clinton demonstrated the nation only maximum potential when all demographics are empowered to participate in the American dream.

    I also enjoyed reading personal family anecdotes---including those which are probably still painful to share with audiences. In fifth grade, he learned that people who rented out motels for long periods of time did abortions (p. 29) because the procedure was illegal in the state. He also describes the incidents where stepfather Roger beat the family---until young Bill grew big enough to fight back (pp. 45-51). The vivid descriptions provide both literary action and a solemn reminder the world is better because abortion is legalized, and domestic violence is no longer a 'family affair'. As a child of divorce, I am also reassured that an American President went through several of the same experiences me and many of my friends experienced. When he talks about families, Clinton is personally aware there are many different types of families and the rightwing has never spoken for everybody (pp. 633-636)

    As the first president to be in the delivery room during his child's birth (p. 273), Clinton brought unprecedented sensitivity to the Oval Office. Because the lives of American voters are more egalitarian, this empathy is a definite asset in the post-cold war era From his own personal experiences, Clinton easily understands that good and strong families come in all compositions (pp. 426-427). I was also intrigued to learn that Clinton did not personally/politically have a problem with Hillary's last name (p. 296). Finally, "women's issues" like the Equal Rights Amendment (p. 257) stand on their own merit as something which is genuinely important to HIM.

    Certainly people have to take self-initiative for their private life, but Clinton's centrist Democratic theory (dating from Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign) says that government is still obligated to ensure the people trying to help themselves and their communities can actually do so (p. 122). This approach explains why he signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 ---overhauling the depression-era welfare system, while also rejecting the complete dismantlement passionately championed by Republican opponents. Aware that welfare payments had varied by state and women were not getting rich anywhere, Clinton also knew the current system had intentionally built-in incentives for women to stay at home instead of work. Welfare was initially developed so low-income women would not 'deviate from 'traditional' homemaker roles and could also stay at home with their children like many other women of the time. Clinton purposefully attempted to allocate enough money and resources for childcare so low-income women would not find themselves in a horrid catch-22 situation of wanting to work but not being able to find affordable, safe, and reliable daycare for their children (pp. 720-721).

    Before entering elected office, Clinton taught college classes at the University of Arkansas and the professorial enthusiasm (pp. 204-205) required for that task is especially obvious today as the lessons he taught to and learned from the students are recalled. I can easily imagine myself as a student in the class while he is racing up and down the auditorium steps exhorting us to become even more involved in the larger world (p. 203). Because they cannot realistically be confined to a classroom, such individuals were predestined to have a tremendous impact on the larger world.

    By showing a less serious side of the Clintons which is not always discernable from the media, the enclosed photos reinforce this aforementioned environment. Conceding that his personal actions damaged the family (p. 800, p. 811), he avoids a holier-than-thou attitude which ruined many other political careers. Clinton succeeds at the American Dream because he already knows and easily accepts his imperfection. He is so personable that even when I disagreed with Clinton's policies, myself and others always knew that he would not attack dissenters on trumped up charges. Instead, Clinton's enduring personal patience (he appears far more patient than he has given himself credit for) and boundless optimism for the nation consistently shine throughout this book. By nature, genuine sentiment cannot be slick.

    This book is a mandatory purchase for the Clinton fan---or anybody preferring a time when the United States president was respected for unflagging civility in the face of adversarial circumstances that had grounding lesser politicians from all levels of government. Unfortunately, like Hillary's autobiography (2002), the author's relative chronological youth in relation to his numerous public accomplishments means that another edition or volume will eventually be required for adequately chronicling all of the national/international contributions. Even at 957 pages, fitting all important information into one volume is impossible. I look forward to purchasing future editions of this biography.

    5-0 out of 5 stars You either love him or hate him
    Very intimate account of his life, with an undertone for the personal pain he his bearing. Great read for someone starting life and who wants to know how to chart the course of his or her life regardless of their family/childhood limitations. ... Read more


    10. The Family : The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty
    by Kitty Kelley
    list price: $29.95
    our price: $17.97
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0385503245
    Catlog: Book (2004-09-14)
    Publisher: Doubleday
    Sales Rank: 705
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    Amazon.com

    Kitty Kelley, author of exhaustive and highly unflattering biographies of Frank Sinatra, Jackie Onassis, and the British royal family,among others, has never received much cooperation from her subjects. Likewise, none was given for The First Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty, and it's not hard to understand why. In the book, the family that has produced two presidents as well as an assortment of other politicians, businesspeople, and a number of lesser-known black sheep is portrayed as a powerful empire that leverages wealth and influence to grow ever stronger while stringently covering up numerous instances of drug abuse, infidelity, poor judgment, and scandal. While charges about George W. Bush, including that he snorted cocaine at Camp David while his father was president, garnered the most attention upon the book's release, Kelley's history goes back several generations, detailing the rise to power of Senator Prescott Bush and his son, the first President Bush. Those seeking a salacious peek at the inner sanctum of a wealthy and powerful family will not be disappointed by The First Family--Kelley always delivers on that count--and will likely devour allegations of Barbara Bush's sour temperament, George H.W. Bush's long-standing affair with aide Jennifer Fitzgerald, and George W. Bush's obnoxious drunken frat boy days that stretched, according to Kelley, well into adulthood. Those seeking a rock-solid and airtight indictment of the Bushes, however, will be disappointed, since Kelley leans on anonymous sources and rumors for some of the juicier bits. Interestingly, although it tells the stories of a family built on politics, The First Family mostly avoids the subject, clearing the decks of all political substance in order to put the style on wider display. --John Moe ... Read more


    11. Beautiful Jim Key : The Lost History of a Horse and a Man Who Changed the World
    by Mim E. Rivas
    list price: $25.95
    our price: $17.13
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0060567031
    Catlog: Book (2005-02-01)
    Publisher: William Morrow
    Sales Rank: 186054
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    12. Founding Mothers : The Women Who Raised Our Nation
    by Cokie Roberts
    list price: $14.95
    our price: $10.17
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 006009026X
    Catlog: Book (2005-02-15)
    Publisher: Perennial
    Sales Rank: 974
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    In the histories of the American Revolution, much has been written about America's founding fathers, those brave men who signed the Declaration of Independence, battled the British, and framed the Constitution. Yet the wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters who supported, encouraged, and even advised them have been virtually ignored.

    In Founding Mothers, New York Times bestselling author Cokie Roberts brings to light the stories of the women who fought the Revolution as valiantly as the men, sometimes even defending their very doorsteps from British occupation. While the men went off to war or to Congress, the women managed their husbands' businesses, ran the farms, and raised their children. These women who sacrificed for the fledgling nation spent months or even years apart from their husbands, at a time when letters were their only form of contact.

    Drawing upon personal correspondence and private journals, Founding Mothers brings to life the everyday trials, extraordinary triumphs, and often surprising stories of Abigail Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, Deborah Reed Franklin, Eliza Pinckney, Martha Washington, and other patriotic and passionate women, each of whom played a role in raising our nation.

    ... Read more

    Reviews (30)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Good and Not So Good
    The information about the various women was interesting.However, I had to go through the book a second time to be able to sort the facts about each woman separately in order to get a picture of what she was like. The book was so poorly organized that one reading left me with a mish-mash of impressions. I can't imagine why any editor would allow this rough draft to be printed. And I expected better of Cokie Roberts. I am reasonably sure that no one but a celebrity could get by with such a poor effort.Fortunately, the subject matter was arresting enough to carry me through the forest even though I often could not see the trees!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Women Powered by Inner Force
    Against enormous social,political and family forces the early American dynamos profiled by Cokie Roberts changed the face of the world by revolutionizing a nation. They powered realignment of social and political forces often through low profile but passionate and decisive impact on decision makers as well asgrassroots movements. As Roberts notes, coercive powers that locked many women into racial and gender servitude were not enough to silence or bind Founding Mothers. They were energized by inner forces just as essential for truly free women today - will, knowledge, vision, judgment, conscience, social radar and faith. As skillfully unearthed by Roberts, these stories of early American wonder women seem bittersweet. Bitter, in that they have been buried so long, robbing generations of American women of a rich legacy. Sweet, in finally allowing us to savor the inspiration of their lives. Whether in birth families or in a national family, digging out historic facts of our ancestors empowers us to move on from a stronger position. Truth sets us free. Reviewer: Beverly Hubble Tauke is author of "Overcoming the Sins of the Family," and is a Virginia-based family counselor and lecturer.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Great subject matter -- poorly written!
    I used to like Cokie Roberts until I started reading this book. I love reading about the Revolutionary War and had (like other readers with comments) read the excellent biography of John Adams that was extremely well-written. Time and again in Cokie's book, she puts in little asides -- for instance early in the book when she speaks of the wedding present that Benjamin Franklin gives his daughter. He changes it from a nicer present to a spinning wheel. Cokie apparently does not think the reader "gets it" and goes on to say that such a present is akin to getting a toaster. She does this throughout the book and it is annoying. Worse, however, the narrative does not flow and it is easy to lose track of who she is talking about and when she is placing them in history. And I really do not like how Ms. Roberts keeps inserting her voice in the lives of these historic people with her 21st century sensibility. The Revolutionary War was a different time period, Cokie! I winced when I would read quotes about Abigail Adams with such Cokie asides as "she must have wanted to hit him." etc. I will look for a better book on this subject!

    2-0 out of 5 stars Let's face it, celebrity standards are lower
    Would this book even have been published if the author wasn't an NPR commentator? I truly doubt it. The standards for celebrity authors are MUCH lower, even if the book is supposed to be a "scholarly" work, as opposed to, say, a diet book.
    If Roberts could pull together a few facts about a woman from the Revolutionary War period (documented or undocumented), that woman landed in the book. There was no real narrative flow.
    But, if it interested a few people in the Revolutionary War period that weren't interested before, well, that's a good thing!

    2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
    I like Cokie Roberts, listen to her on NPR, etc. etc.Perhaps it was because I had just come off from reading "John Adams," but I was very disappointed in this book.There didn't seem to be much in the way of original research, it didn't challange me to rethink history, and I really wasn't blown away by how these women did much to change the course of history in the grand scale.Nonetheless, there were interesting tidbits of historical information, and a reader may learn some new stuff. ... Read more


    13. ABOUT FACE : THE ODYSSEY OF AN AMERICAN WARRIOR
    by David H. Hackworth
    list price: $22.00
    our price: $14.96
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0671695347
    Catlog: Book (1990-04-15)
    Publisher: Touchstone
    Sales Rank: 34313
    Average Customer Review: 4.74 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (57)

    5-0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest leaders of the 20th century

    I first heard of Colonel Hackworth when I was a cadet at the United States Coast Guard Academy, where he came and gave a guest lecture during my sophomore year. After hearing him talk, I had to go out and get his book.

    "About Face" is, quite simply, the best book I've ever read...again and again. Colonel Hackworth's no-nonsense approach to leadership is tried-and-true, and what makes each point hit home is that he has learned everything through real life experience. The stories that he tells in this book are not just entertaining. They tell a lot about the life of a soldier; they tell a lot about a military hierarchy and how it should work (as opposed to how it works now); they tell us what really happened in Vietnam and how the U.S. Government "black balled" Colonel Hackworth in order to quell public disatisfaction with the war in Vietnam. He doesn't just make this book a bitch session....he offers his expert opinion as a soldier and a leader about how to correct what is happening to our fighting forces. He offers comparisons to leaders of the past and insight into the leaders of the future...and the future of our military leaders looks bleak.

    Lastly, this book isn't just about being a military leader and telling war stories. This book is a must read for anybody that is in charge of anything or anyone. Many of the points he makes in his book apply "across the board". Being a leader is a skill as well as a science. Learn from the best, because "those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it".

    5-0 out of 5 stars THE BEST BOOK I'VE EVER READ ABOUT A SOLDIER'S LIFE
    THIS BOOK IS BY FAR THE BEST MILITARY BOOK I'VE EVER READ IN YEARS. AND I THOUGHT TOM CLANCY WAS THE BEST! I GOT A HOLD OF THIS BOOK AT MY COLLEGE LIBRARY DURING MY FRESHMAN YEAR IN 1996. FROM THE MOMENT I READ THE FIRST WORDS, I KNEW I WAS MESMERIZED. I READ THIS BOOK OUT OF MY PERSONAL INTEREST ABOUT THIS CONTROVERSIAL OUTSPOKEN COLONEL. THE STORY GOES LIKE THIS: AN ORPHANED 15-YEAR OLD BOY LIED TO ENLIST IN THE ARMY, AND WENT ON TO BECOME THE MOST LEGENDARY AND CONTROVERSIAL WARRIOR. HE SERVED WITH DISTINCTION UNDER GEN. JOHN M. MICHAELIS AS A WOLFHOUND RAIDER LEADER IN KOREA. HE WAS BATTLE-COMMISSIONED AT A TENDER AGE OF 20, AND BECOMES THE YOUNGEST CAPTAIN AT 22. HE WON 2 DSCs, 7 SILVER STARS, 9 BRONZE STARS AND 2 DFCs, 8 PURPLE HEARTS AND MANY OTHER DECORATIONS DURING HIS SERVICE IN THE KOREAN AND VIETNAMESE THEATER COMBINED. WHILE HE INITIALLY FOUND HOME IN THE "OLD ARMY," HE FOUND HIMSELF INCREASINGLY DISILLUSIONED WITH THE ZERO-DEFECT,"TICKET PUNCHING" MENTALITY OF THE "NEW ARMY" CREATED BY A WEST-POINT GENERAL MAXWELL TAYLOR AND HIS PROTEGES. THE VIETNAM WAR BECAME THE CLIMAX OF HIS DISSILUSSIONMENT WITH THE "NEW ARMY" AS HE GOT A CHANCE TO LOOK INSIDE THE DEPT. OF ARMY, THE FLEDGLING TRAINING SYSTEM, SELF-SERVING TYPES LIKE IRA HUNT AND MANY OTHERS LIKE HIM. AS AN ADVISER TO THE SOUTH VIETNAMESE PARATROOPERS, HE PRESSURED THEM TO PERFORM, BUT TO NO AVAIL. BY 1971, HE WAS THE YOUNGEST COLONEL IN THE US ARMY, AND CONSIDERED A FOUR-STAR MATERIAL. BUT ALL THESE GLORY MOUNTED TO NOTHING. HE WAS MORE CONCERNED ABOUT HIS MEN WHO WERE BEING SHOT AT THAN HE WAS CONCERNED ABOUT MAKING A FOUR-STAR GENERAL. THUS, HE FINALLY SUMMONED HIS COURAGE TO SPEAK THE TRUTH AT THE EXPENSE OF HIS CAREER,ONLY FIND THE ARMY ATTEMPTING TO CLAM HIM UP. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN ALL TOO TRITE, IF THE STORY ENED OTHERWISE; IF HE WAS TO WRITE THE MEMOIR AS GENERAL DAVID H. HACKWORTH, USA RET., RATHER THAN COLONEL DAVID H. HACKWORTH. BUT THAT IT ENDS WITH IT A SAD CONCLUSION, MAKES IT ALL THE MORE BELIEVABLE. UNLIKE ANY THING I'VE EVER READ, THIS IS A BOOK I FIND HARD TO PUT DOWN. IT'S TOO SAD THAT HE DID NOT GO ALL THE WAY TO MAKE THE NECESSARY DENT, BUT THE COLONEL DOESN'T THINK SO. I LIKE TO SEE HIM MAKE MORE CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM TO THIS GREAT ARMY.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Eye Opener
    This book will show what really goes on in the army, it is an eye opener. Check out his web site: www.hackworth.com. A lot of good information.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A True Warrior
    Hackworth has produced a well written and provocative book concerning his time in the USA Army beginning with his enlistment at the end of WWII. His thoughts on the Vietnam War and the Army's command structure and bureaucracy created a lasting impression with me. Obviously he writes from his own perspective, but many of his ideas are worth discussing and giving more thought. A great book about one person's Vietnam experience.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I should have read this in High School
    For those of you people who have read this, and more specifically the guys I went to Marmion Military Academy with; I never really understood who Walter Schroeder was (Good ol' Steady Schroeder- as Hack refers to him) until I read this book. Mother, Fathers, if your kids are thinking about ROTC scholarships or joining the military in any way at all you need to read this book and then make them read it before they sign on the line that is dotted!

    Raise your glasses to Colonel David Hackworth!

    Thank you, Sir. ... Read more


    14. The Best Year of Their Lives: Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon in 1948: Learning the Secrets of Power
    by Lance Morrow
    list price: $26.00
    our price: $17.16
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0465047238
    Catlog: Book (2005-03-01)
    Publisher: Basic Books
    Sales Rank: 4077
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    The Best Year of Their Lives is not a typical presidential biography in that it forgoes the comprehensive approach to history. Instead, Lance Morrow shows why 1948 was a watershed year not just for John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon personally, but for the nation as well. That is the year that Johnson, in his bid for the Senate, used huge sums of corporate money to bombard the media with lies about his opponent, finally stealing the election by 87 votes by having a ballot box stuffed (thus earning the nickname "Landslide Lyndon"). Had he lost, he would have arguably been out of politics forever and the course of history would have been changed. At the same time, Nixon, as a freshman congressman, launched his political career by using his seat on the House Un-American Activities Committee to relentlessly pursue Alger Hiss, making himself a prominent national figure in the process. (Four years later he became Eisenhower's running mate.) Meanwhile, Kennedy was working hard to suppress the fact that he had Addison's disease. He continued to lie about his health for the rest of his life just as he later hid his reckless personal behavior. Through anecdotes and analysis (including personal contact; all three were presences in Morrow's childhood), Morrow shows how secrets and lies were to shape the behavior of all of them. This "convergence of personal ambition with secrecy, amorality, and a ruthless manipulation of the truth" would have tremendous implications for the country. The events of 1948 also foreshadow the tragedies and scandals that would end all three of their administrations.

    Externally, the three presidents were radically different. Internally, argues Morrow, they were identical in many ways in that they "shared a tendency toward elaborately deliberated amorality; all three behaved as if rules were for others, not for them." Along with a rapidly changing American society, the start of the Cold War, and looming atomic destruction, 1948 ushered in modern politics and these men were the embodiment of it. Absorbing and unconventional, The Best Year of Their Lives adds to the considerable bodies of work already available on all three presidents. --Shawn Carkonen ... Read more

    Reviews (3)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Magisterial yet accessible - a new way of looking at history
    Forget what "overblown silliness" says below. Lance Morrow's 1948 is one of the freshest, most insightful pieces of popular history to come around in ages. In looking at both the lives of JFK, LBJ, and Nixon in 1948 and the historical significance of that year for the United States as she really came into her own in the post-war world, Morrow gives an incredible insight both into the lives of the respective politicians, and the country itself.

    What is most interesting, though, is that underlying all the post-war rah-rah optimism, Morrow captures a current of worry, of anxiety, and of moral unease: the US won World War II, Morrow suggests, but also lost a certain innocence in the process. New technologies (atom bombs, television) and a new breed of politician all came on the scene in this critical year, and Morrow's book captures it brilliantly.

    This book is a must-read for anyone who is interested in modern American history, and how we became what we are today.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Overblown silliness
    This is truly one of the worst books ever written, a huge disappointment to anyone reading about U.S. domestic politics in the 20th century.The topic had great promise, but readers would be much better served picking up Christopher Matthews` book on Kennedy and Nixon or Robert Caro`s multi-volume biography of LBJ.Morrow`s prose is overwrought with far too much armchair psychologizing.He also has a dreadfully annoying, almost juvenile habit of using motion pictures to illustrate the points he wishes to make.It is a very unsuccessful literary device.Who at the publishers let this project see the light of day?

    5-0 out of 5 stars Three Men Face Decisions in 1948 That Lead to Their Fate
    This fascinating book chronicles a pivotal year in the lives of three ambitious politicians each of whom became President. In 1948, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon were all on the rise as young congressmen who according to author Lance Morrow, went to great pains - physically, psychologically and morally - to ensure their place on the American political scene.Like David Halberstam who wrote the classic "The Best and the Brightest", journalist Lance Morrow is able to shape a cohesive chapter of American history through seemingly unrelated events and brings a present-day relevance to what he writes.

    LBJ won the U.S. senate seat for Texas by a highly suspicious 87 late-counted votes over the more popular Coke Stevenson. In one of the bellwether events of Communist witch-hunting, Nixon used the headline-grabbing Alger Hiss case as a springboard for national prominence, and it indeed led to him to become Eisenhower's running-mate in 1952. And JFK, despite the image of youthful vigor, was dealing with the death of his glamorous sister "Kick" (Kathleen) and hiding the debilitating effects of Addison's disease. Morrow does a superb job intertwining these three men by focusing on the secrets each kept to move to the next level of political ascendancy.Why this takes on a greater relevance is what the year 1948 represents in American history - the redefining period between the end of WWII and the crystallization of the Cold War. Many held secrets far larger in scope than these three. After all, the Cold War was all about Communist infiltration within the U.S. government, concealed knowledge courtesy of informers under the guise of friends, clandestine acts of espionage and who would end up detonating the A-bomb.That's why the secrets held by LBJ, JFK and Nixon seem so indicative of the prevalent behavior - LBJ did anything, no matter how unscrupulous, to take attention off the controversial votes that sent him off to the Senate; Nixon destroyed civil liberties and took witch-hunting to a new level with his obsessive pursuit of Hiss and Whittaker Chambers; and JFK went to great lengths to hide his medical condition knowing he would never otherwise have a chance to become President. Each drama turned on secrets.

    What Morrow does best is show how the rather amoral behavior of each shaped each of their destinies and how each was challenged later on when Vietnam brought down LBJ and Watergate did the same for Nixon. Vietnam almost proved to be JFK's undoing, though we'll never know as his life was cut short in Dallas. Each was not so much into breaking rules as much as they saw them as irrelevant to them. Their shared priority was in creating their legacies no matter the cost. 1948 saw many more prominent turning points - Gandhi's assassination, the birth of Israel, the Kinsey Report was published - but this comprehensive history book really shows how the next generation of leaders were formed and ultimately damaged by the decisions they made at that critical juncture.Strongly recommended. ... Read more


    15. The Lost German Slave Girl : The Extraordinary True Story of the Slave Sally Miller and Her Fight for Freedom
    by John Bailey
    list price: $24.00
    our price: $16.32
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0871139219
    Catlog: Book (2005-01-09)
    Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
    Sales Rank: 44246
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    It is a spring morning in New Orleans, 1843. In the Spanish Quarter, on a street lined with flophouses and gambling dens, Madame Carl recognizes the face of a German girl who disappeared twenty-five years earlier. But the olive-skinned woman is a slave, with no memory of a "white" past. And yet her resemblance to her mother is striking, and she bears two telltale birthmarks. Had a defenseless European orphan been illegally enslaved, or was she an imposter? So begins one of the most celebrated and sensational trials of nineteenth-century America. In brilliant novelistic detail, award-winning historian John Bailey uses Miller's dramatic trial to describe the fascinating laws and customs surrounding slavery, immigration, and racial mixing. Did Miller, as her relatives sought to prove, arrive from Germany under perilous circumstances as an indentured servant or was she, as her master claimed, a slave for life? The trial pits a humble community of German immigrants against a hardened capitalist and one of the most flamboyant lawyers of his time. Bailey follows the case's incredible twists and turns all the way to the Supreme Court and comes to a shocking conclusion in this investigative history that reads like a suspense novel. ... Read more

    Reviews (4)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fascinating!
    I read this book as a selection of my book club and started it with only moderately high expectations.After all, wouldn't all the court deliberations begin to drag on as the case of the purported German immigrant was debated?However, I found the book absolutely fascinating; I'd rank it close to the top of the list of the sixty-something books we've read and discussed.The story of the immigration of the German families is heart-wrenching and highlights how even relatively minor circumstances can have life-altering consequences for a vulnerable population.
    The tension only mounts as the court case begins.The book provides a perspective of US history through its detail and discussion of how slaves are treated and, even more startling, the motivations behind the law-making governing slaves and whether someone is considered white.I'd recommend it to all.John Bailey did a remarkable job of using the case of the "lost German slave girl" to provide a much larger view of Southern history.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally detailed, another image from our past
    This book moved me. This segment of history is not one that is discussed often. There were plenty of people who could pass. Given the opportunity, one would gladly accept it. It is so interesting reading the legal background of slavery. I was so impressed with the the thorough research that the author did for this book. It brings to mind so many stories of slaves bartering for their right to just exist.

    Sally Miller was brilliant. If one is to believe what they see and it is beneficial for you to perpetuate their belief why not. It was brilliantly executed and one slave used the legal system to set herself free.

    Great read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Is she or isn't she?
    An extremely thought-provoking book.The author has done extensive research into what must have been quite a talked-about case in pre-Civil war New Orleans. The legal back-up is heavy and thequotes from men of the law are jaw-dropping to those of us in the 21st Century.
    The author does make one misstatement--perhaps because he is Australian.He states that Lincoln freed the slaves.This is not true.The Emancipation Proclation freed not one slave--it was the 13th Amendment, passed after Lincoln's death at the end of the Civil War.
    Other than that, this story is a well-researched glimpse into history and an America that is hard to recognize.

    5-0 out of 5 stars fascinating historical fact with some necessary fictional ex
    This is a fascinating story in its own right, and a horrifying account of what slavery was like on a day-to-day basis for the people who lived with it in the Mississippi area. It's the little details the author gives that bring home how degrading the institution was for slaves and slave owners alike. Surprisingly the author is an Australian lawyer, I bought and read the book in paperback in Australia, but his research in the US has been meticulous. He has had to use fiction to fill in parts of the slave girl's story but this enhances rather than detracts from the overall narrative. I highly recommend it, very suitable for the thinking person's Christmas stocking! ... Read more


    16. Titan : The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
    by RON CHERNOW
    list price: $30.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0679438084
    Catlog: Book (1998-05-05)
    Publisher: Random House
    Sales Rank: 110214
    Average Customer Review: 4.51 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    Ron Chernow, whose previous books have taken on the Morgan and Warburg financial empires, now turns his attention to the patriarch of the Rockefeller dynasty. John D. was history's first recorded billionaire and one of the most controversial public figures in America at the turn of the 20th century. Standard Oil--which he always referred to as the result of financial "cooperation," never as a "cartel" or a "monopoly"--controlled at its peak nearly 90 percent of the United States oil industry. Rockefeller drew sharp criticism, as well as the attention of federal probes, for business practices like underpricing his competitors out of the market and bribing politicians to secure his dominant market share.

    While Chernow amply catalogs Rockefeller's misdeeds, he also presents the tycoon's human side. Making use of voluminous business correspondence, as well as rare transcripts of interviews conducted when Rockefeller was in his late 70s and early 80s, Chernow is able to present his subject's perspective on his own past, re-creating a figure who has come down to us as cold and unfeeling as a shrewd, dryly humorous man who had no inner misgivings about reconciling his devout religious convictions with his fiscal acquisitiveness. The story of John D. Rockefeller Sr. is, in many ways, the story of America between the Civil War and the First World War, and Chernow has told that story in magnificently fascinating depth and style. ... Read more

    Reviews (117)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The parallels to Gates and MSFT are an interesting subtext
    I am in awe of Ron Chernow for writing a long and thorough biography that I absolutely could not put down. Rarely have I finished such a long book in such a short period of time. Chernow manages to show how complex Rockefeller's personality and motives, were, and he helps us to avoid the all-too-easy cliches about the rich and powerful. Yet while revealing the complexity, he is never boring, didactic, or long-winded.

    I found it interesting to compare Rockefeller and Standard Oil to Bill Gates and Microsoft. Both men are powerful, rich, misunderstood, certain that their actions are ethical and good for their country and the economy, and dedicated to helping those who are less fortunate. Both men vow(ed) to give away most of their fortune. Both have been attacked by their own government, and villified in the press. Both dominate media coverage of business. And, like Rockefeller, Gates is a brilliant strategist who defies easy cliches and shallow descriptions. You can see goodness in either man, and you can also see evil. The beauty of Chernow's biography is that he allows us to see both sides of Rockefeller, without ever landing on either side himself.

    Regardless of my thoughts on the parallels, I highly recommend this bio. Four friends are receiving it as their Christmas gift from me.

    3-0 out of 5 stars The Two Sides of Titan
    Like its hero, Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller has two sides. At times the almost novelesque book is insufferable. The text is dense and dizzying, making anyone who is not an economist feel incompetent and mind-boggled. At certain points, I needed to reread a sentence maybe two or three times because I either did not understand economic principle being displayed or because of my sheer lack of interest. When I was almost ready to quit with the constant analysis of the oil industry and Rockefeller's economic strategy, Chernow brought out the more personal side of the book, delving into Rockefeller's private life using uncommon and interesting anecdotes. It is quite obvious that Rockefeller's religious beliefs and family history greatly contributed to his transformation into the titan that will forever be remembered in American history. Chernow both proved my preconceived notions of the frugal and hard businessman that Rockefeller seemed to be and then surprised me, revealing the kinder, more spiritual Rockefeller who is oddly likable. I both loved and hated him. Like Chernow states, "what makes him so problematic- and why he continues to inspire such ambivalent reactions- is that his good side was every bit as good as his bad side was bad. Seldom has history produced such a contradictory figure. We are almost forced to posit, in helpless confusion, at least two Rockefellers: the good, religious man and the renegade businessman, driven by baser motives." So like its protagonist, Titan has two sides, its solid factual analysis of Rockefeller's business that perhaps only an economist could enjoy, and its warm-hearted account of Rockefeller's unexpected traits, which is far more appealing.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Strong intoduction, bland filler
    This book starts out strong, describing in rich detail the rise of one of America's wealthiest men. Very interesting. However, I had to engage in a type of self-coercion to pick the book up after about 100 pages. I hate to call it "filler," but I have to call a spade a spade.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Story of an American Icon
    In the biography of John D. Rockefeller Sr., Ron Chernow exposes the man behind the myth. Chernow shows both Rockefeller's ruthless nature and his religous beliefs. Even though the book at points was long wordy and long I still found it to be enjoyable. This book does give you a really broad insite to his business pratices and the history of the Standard Oil Company.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Five solid stars, THE book on J.D. Rockefeller Sr.
    The other reviews have basically said it for me: this is the definitive book on the founder of Standard Oil. While most biographies of Rockefeller Sr. have been either suspiciously laudatory or equally dubiously contemptuous, Chernow takes the middle ground. Ultimately, Chernow seems to fall more on the side of liking Rockefeller, and employs the somewhat cliche perspective that could fairly be called "modern contextualist"- from which Rockefeller is not much more than a product of his times. However, the slight overuse of this particular biographical "voice," if you will, is but one element of what is really a monumental biography of a fascinating person. Chernow is a very readable biographer who evidently has a deep understanding of American business. (Chernow also wrote "The House of Morgan" - an account of the development of the various offshoots of J.P. Morgan's banking empire which, although very good, lacks Titan's intense focus and analysis.) I heartily recommend Titan. ... Read more


    17. Thomas Jefferson : Author of America (Eminent Lives)
    by Christopher Hitchens
    list price: $19.95
    our price: $13.57
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0060598964
    Catlog: Book (2005-06-01)
    Publisher: Eminent Lives
    Sales Rank: 346686
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    18. Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom
    by Conrad Black
    list price: $39.95
    our price: $26.37
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1586481843
    Catlog: Book (2003-11-01)
    Publisher: PublicAffairs
    Sales Rank: 5623
    Average Customer Review: 4.26 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    A brilliant and provocative biography of Franklin Roosevelt--written by a leading newspaper publisher and staunch conservative.

    Franklin Delano Roosevelt stands astride American history like a colossus, having pulled the nation out of the Great Depression and led it to victory in the Second World War. Elected to four terms as president, he transformed an inward-looking country into the greatest superpower the world had ever known. Only Abraham Lincoln did more to save America from destruction. But FDR is such a large figure that historians tend to take him as part of the landscape, focusing on smaller aspects of his achievements or carping about where he ought to have done things differently. Few have tried to assess the totality of FDR's life and career.

    Conrad Black rises to the challenge. In this magisterial biography, Black makes the case that FDR was the most important person of the twentieth century, transforming his nation and the world through his unparalleled skill as a domestic politician, war leader, strategist, and global visionary--all of which he accomplished despite a physical infirmity that could easily have ended his public life at age thirty-nine. Black also takes on the great critics of FDR, especially those who accuse him of betraying the West at Yalta. Black opens a new chapter in our understanding of this great man, whose example is even more inspiring as a new generation embarks on its own rendezvous with destiny. ... Read more

    Reviews (23)

    5-0 out of 5 stars FDR: Champion of Freedom: Polio Victim gets USA going!
    Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Dealers put America back to work; gave millions hope in desperate dustbowl days and won our greatest War against Hitler and Japan. As our greatest 20th century President he is well served by this superb biography by publisher Conrad Black. Black a Canadian and conservative has portrayed in this length 10000 page tome a brilliant portrayal of the private FDR; his complex relationship with his mother Sarah and his socially liberal wife Eleanor as well as all the politcal maneuvering needed by the great man to transform isolationist America into the mighty fortress of freedom enabling the forces of freedom to defeat Fascism and the Japanese.
    Black's book is readable, countains a well of anecdotes yet also includes all the details of the great 12 years (1933-45_ our longest service chief exectuvie served our land.
    This book will be essential to FDR studies for years to come. My advice is to read the book slowly absorbing all the incredible

    events of the crucial days of the Great Depression and World War II.
    As an admitted liberal and lifelong Democrat I am proud to belong to a party whose chief was FDR! "Happy Days are here again" when the reader and Black meet in this essential biography.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Praised Book on the Champion of Freedom - FDR
    In "The Time 100 - the Most Important People of the Century," Franklin Delano Roosevelt is ranked the runner-up most important person of the century - second only to Albert Einstein. Roosevelt is a giant of world history.

    On the back cover of this fine book by Conrad Black are these comments about this book by CONSERVATIVE intellectuals I generally admire:

    George F. Will: "Conrad Black skillfully assembles powerful arguments to support strong and sometimes surprising judgements. This spirited defense of Roosevelt as a savior of America's enterprise system, and geopolitical realist, is a delight to read."

    John Lukacs: "Conrad Black's FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT is extraordinary. It is something different from the dim and flickering lamp of academic retrospect. A new - and generous - light is poured on its subject: an illumination directed by a conviction of Roosevelt's place in the history of an entire century."

    William F. Buckley Jr.: "An enormous accomplishment, a learned volume on FDR by a vital critical mind, which will absorb critics and the reading public."

    Henry Kissinger: "No Biography of Roosevelt is more thoughtful and readable. None is as comprehensive."

    I really enjoyed Conrad Black's writing style, which adds life to the words with his own colorful descriptors. This is the best single-volume biography of FDR. He presents an accurate and living picture of Roosevelt in his presidency and not a dry summary of the events. For example, I chuckled when Black says that FDR correctly judged Hitler to be the real concern while Mussolini was, in comparison, a buffoon.

    My own criticism of the book is that it skips over the human suffering of the period. The Great Depression was devestating. I suggest the book "The Grapes of Wrath" or any of the many documentaries on the Great Depression.

    Read this book and you will get to know and appreciate President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. You may not agree with some things, but you will at least understand FDR in the context of the times.

    The world was in depression. America was in the Great Depression and heading to what would have been, without Roosevelt's intervention, a complete collapse of America's economic system. Capitalism and democracy fell out of favor around the world. Hitler and other dictators came to power around the world, and radicals gained followers in America. This climaxed in the clash of World War II.

    The world we live today in is not a world of Hitler's Third Reich and fascism. It is not a world of Stalinism. It is not a world of colonial empires. It is not a world of radical laissez-faire capitalism. It is a world of Roosevelt's pragmatic ideas for a more stable economy and international security.

    Roosevelt was a great president for everyone, and his ideas today seem very pragmatic and sensible. It is refreshing that several notable conservatives have had the guts to praise this book for what it is - a very good book about a great president.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Well Written. Makes a Strong Case for Roosevelt's Greatness
    I give this book the highest recommendation for anyone with an interest in Roosevelt, American History, or World History. I have been reading about history and decided to read about Roosevelt, since he was a great president. I compared reviews and decided on this big book and am glad that I did. Black is talanted with his writing and very amusing at times, which was refreshing considering that this is a very long and thorough book. Roosevelt emerged to me as both a charming person and a shrewd president for good causes, like bringing America out of isolation to save the world from Hitler. His skills and legacies make modern politicians look like preschoolers.

    Black writes that Roosevelt is not as admirable of a person as his admirers think because he was egoistic, could be difficult, and was very shrewd and dominating with his power. Roosevelt was a Machiavellian figure in some ways. Yet Black says that Roosevelt was far more admirable for what he did for America and the world than even his admirers may realize. Here Black unfolds the details (and there are many details) that show Roosevelt's greatness.

    This review below that I found on the Internet stuck with me as best reflecting my own thoughts, and it carries more expertise than my humble review can offer:

    "FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT Champion of Freedom. By Conrad Black. Reviewed by Alan Brinkley, New York Times. Friday, November 28, 2003.

    "It will come as something of a surprise to those familiar with Conrad Black as the powerful and energetic head of a large newspaper publishing empire that he has also managed to write an ambitious biography of Franklin Roosevelt, nearly 1,300 pages long.

    "It may also come as a surprise to those who know of the generally conservative politics of Lord Black (who resigned last week as chief executive of his company, Hollinger International, but not as its chairman, during a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation) that he reveres Roosevelt as the greatest American of the 20th century, perhaps of any century, and the most important international leader of modern times.

    "However unexpected, this enormous book is also one of the best one-volume biographies of Roosevelt yet. It is not particularly original, has no important new revelations or interpretations and is based mostly on secondary sources (and rather old ones at that). But it tells the remarkable story of Roosevelt's life with an engaging eloquence and with largely personal and mostly interesting opinions about the people and events he is describing. Black's enormous admiration for Roosevelt is based on many things. He reveres what he calls Roosevelt's great courage and enormous skill in moving the United States away from neutrality and first toward active support of Britain and China in the early years of World War II and then toward full intervention. He admires Roosevelt's skill in managing the war effort and his deftness in handling the diplomacy that accompanied it.

    "He sees Roosevelt, even more than Churchill, as the architect of a postwar world that for half a century worked significantly better than the prewar world of catastrophic conflicts and economic disasters. Roosevelt, he argues, helped legitimize democracy in the eyes of the world and created alliances and relationships that maintained a general peace through the rest of the 20th century. Churchill, once the war was essentially won, became a futile defender of the dying British empire.

    "Roosevelt, in the last months before his death, was promoting a very different vision of world order based on international organizations and national self-determination (even if with great power supervision). Of the major political leaders of the age of World War II, Black writes, "Roosevelt was the only one with a strategic vision that was substantially vindicated in the 50 years following the Second World War."

    "Black is also a stalwart defender of the New Deal. His defense is not simply the selective approval that many conservatives give to the way it saved capitalism and ensured the primacy of free markets. Black admires it all: Social Security, the Wagner Act, farm subsidies, securities regulation, wage and price legislation, even Roosevelt's almost incendiary oratory in 1936 welcoming hatred of the forces of power and greed.

    "He expresses gingerly criticism of Roosevelt's reluctance to move aggressively to combat segregation, of his support of Japanese-American internment and his relatively modest response to the Holocaust, and of his occasional poor judgment in the people he trusted. (He is particularly contemptuous of Henry A. Wallace, but no more so than of conservative figures like Breckinridge Long, the genteel anti-Semite who obstructed the granting of American visas to European Jews in the late 1930s.)

    "Despite these and other reservations, Black never departs from his overall judgment of Roosevelt, perhaps best illustrated in his use of a quotation from Churchill as a chapter title: "He Is the Greatest Man I Have Ever Known."

    "While Black may not be the best chronicler of any single aspect of Roosevelt's life, and while he may offer little that scholars don't already know, he has created a powerful and often moving picture of the life as a whole. Truly great men inspire many exceptional biographies, and this is not the first or last for Roosevelt. But it is a worthy and important addition to the vast literature on the most important modern American leader."

    5-0 out of 5 stars Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom
    Newspaper tycoon Black praises former President Roosevelt for having the clearest strategic vision of the major world leaders during World War II and for using "political legerdemain" in using war to end the Great Depression and save democratic capitalism. FDR emerges in these pages, primarily devoted to his four terms in the White House, as the consummate skilled politician and among the U.S.'s greatest presidents. He also gives Roosevelt credit for having laid the groundwork for the Cold War and enabling his successors to "liberate Eastern Europe."

    5-0 out of 5 stars A balanced and favorable account
    I don't know of a better one-volume biography of FDR. Geoffrey Ward's two volumes, Before the Trumpet, and A First-Class Temperament are better written and more carefully researched, but they only take his life to 1928. This book relies on secondary sources mostly, and its footnoting is unhelpful--the footnotes just tell what secondary source the author got the information from. I have not read the multi-volume works of Frank Friedel and Kenneth Davis, but they are referred to a lot in the footnotes to this book and no doubt are more carefully researched. Yet I thought reading this worthwhile, and its overall assessment of FDR's accomplishments rings very true. George Will and Bill Buckley, Jr., and Henry Kissinger supplied blurbs for the jacket, which more hidebound Republicans, clinging to GOP attitudes during Roosevelt's Administrations would not, I presume, do. Black's assessment of FDR's performance at Teheran and Yalta ably refutes some of the old Republican canards re same, and make for good reading. All in all, I thought the time spent reading this nice big book was well spent. There are a few errors, and I mention two: on page 233 Black refers to Senator Harry Flood Byrd as a Virginia favorite son candidate at the 1932 Democratic National Conventio--but at the time Byrd was not yet a Senator; and on page 792 Black says Admiral Darlan's funeral in Algiers on Dec 26, 1942, was attended by the "Cardinal-Primate" of Africa, but there was no Cardinal in Africa in 1942, much less a Cardinal-Primate. The book does have a good 25-page bibliography. ... Read more


    19. A Rumor of War
    by Philip Caputo
    list price: $15.00
    our price: $10.20
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 080504695X
    Catlog: Book (1996-11-15)
    Publisher: Owl Books
    Sales Rank: 8095
    Average Customer Review: 4.82 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    When it first appeared, A Rumor of War brought home to American readers, with terrifying vividness and honesty, the devastating effects of the Vietnam War on the soldiers who fought there. And while it is a memoir of one young man’s experiences and therefore deeply personal, it is also a book that speaks powerfully to today’s students about the larger themes of human conscience, good and evil, and the desperate extremes men are forced to confront in any war.

    A platoon commander in the first combat unit sent to fight in Vietnam, Lieutenant Caputo landed at Danang on March 8, 1965, convinced that American forces would win a quick and decisive victory over the Communists. Sixteenmonths later and without ceremony, Caputo left Vietnam a shell-shocked veteran whose youthful idealism and faith in the rightness of the war had been utterly shattered. A Rumor of War tells the story of that trajectory and allows us to see and feel the reality of the conflict as the author himself experienced it, from the weeks of tedium hacking through scorching jungles, to the sudden violence of ambushes and firefights, to the unbreakable bonds of friendship forged between soldiers, and finally to a sense of the war as having no purpose other than the fight for survival. The author gives us a precise, tactile view of both the emotional and physical reality of war.

    When Caputo is reassigned to headquarters as “Officer in Charge of the Dead,” he chronicles the psychological cost of witnessing and recording the human toll of the war. And after his voluntary transfer to the frontlines, Caputo shows us that the major weapons of guerrilla fighting are booby traps and land mines, and that success is measured not in feet but in body counts. Nor does the author shrink from admitting the intoxicating intensity of combat, an experience so compelling that many soldiers felt nostalgic for it years after they’d left
    Vietnam. Most troubling, Caputo gives us an unflinching view not only of remarkable bravery and heroism but also of the atrocities committed in Vietnam by ordinary men so numbed by fear and desperate to survive that their moral distinctions had collapsed.

    More than a statement against war, Caputo’s memoir offers readers today a profoundly visceral sense of what war is and, as the author says, of “the things men do in war and the things war does to men.”

    This edition includes a twentieth-anniversary postscript by the author.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (65)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Should be a mandatory reading in every high school
    Caputo describes "the splendid little war" as his road from an enthusiastic idealist poisoned by the romanticized view of war as a chivalrous and noble enterprise to the dehumanized and desensitized wreck that he becomes during his tour in Vietnam. The book is an amazing testimony about the true nature of war with all its atrocities and horrors. Caputo brilliantly captures the endless despair of being strained in the jungle with no clear reason for being there, the hopeless madness of chasing the guerillas and the agony of loosing friends. But the most important aspect of this book is that it shows how a normal mentally healthy person can be turned into a thoughtless killing machine in the course of a few months, fast on the trigger, without any remorse for his victims. Caputo uses very strong and vivid images such as "pigs eating napalm-charred human corpses" to force the reader into his story and feel what Caputo has felt. Very realistic book that cannot leave you indifferent, definitely up there with Remarque's "All quiet on the Western front." If you want to know what fighting the Vietnam War was really like, I can't imagine how any book can possibly be better than Rumor of War.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Put It On Your Bookshelf!
    "A Rumor of War" is a darkly disturbing book. It is set in what was the early, "optimistic" Vietnam in the spring of '65 when we thought we were fighting for "freedom" and before the reality of the place hit home. Vietnam hits Lieutenant Caputo very quickly, as it must have for all Marine Corps platoon leaders. It's all right there-booby traps, mines, trip wires, leeches, foot blisters, jungle rot, constant shelling, dysentery, pigs eating corpses and cold C Rations. As a Vietnam vet, I was surprised the author never mentions RATS!, but we both know they were there too. (THEY were everywhere). Lt. Caputo's transfer to a staff job is worse than the field, so he transfers back to the bush as a platoon leader.It's more of the same-patrolling and repatrolling the same trails, the same hills, the same villes. All watched over by unsupportive and bureaucratic commanders. "RW" offers yet another look at the Vietnam War, one more pessimistic than most because so many of us felt! that the years of '65 and '66 were more positive than this. I might suggest reading Joseph Owen's "Colder Than Hell" to compare the Marine experience in Korea with Lt. Caputo's. Reading the late Bernard Fall's "Street Without Joy" will make us aware, again, that perhaps there was never a time to be optimistic about Vietnam. I must admit that I constantly found myself curious as to how I would have handled many situations in "RW". How would I have measured up? What would I have done? How would the men have judged me? While the story of "RW" tends to stray at times, I found no fault since the author is relating a painful part of his past. One small point: "RW" would benefit from better maps-these are so often lacking in military books. The bottom line:"A Rumor of War" belongs on the bookshelf of any serious military book reader or anyone searching for yet another angle to the frustrating Vietnam War that affected so many of us.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I was there...it's true
    I landed in "Chu Lai" with the Marines on May 7, 1965. Do you want to know what it was like? Read this book. Caputo has written the most accurate account I have ever seen -- both of the action and the emotions.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome book
    If you are intending to serve in the military, this book should be required reading. It's not pretty, in fact a bit depressing, but seriously good. Even good people do bad things during war - unlike what the movies show. Most of the other reviews have covered what I wanted to say... Seriously, this book is a must-read. In this day and age where combat operations are the norm, you can learn from people who have BTDT, and hopefully learn from their mistakes.

    4-0 out of 5 stars From Camelot to Quang Nam
    Mr Caputo (as in TOE) takes the reader on his journey from college to war to military inquiry and part of the power of the work is how well the language illuminates that experience. It begins with clear, concise prose, as the young man is clear in his goals and what his country "stands for" , and rises to poetry of a kind as the narrator descends into a confused hell, where his goal becomes simple survival and he is uncertain about his country and its values. The narrator's journey in his early twenties, is from a sobriety to a delirium and back again but on that return, the open, trusting individual, is transformed into a cold, hardened, and cynical Nam Vet. There is some especially good analysis of "courage" (p.294) and the nature of a patrol by a platoon (p.252). The passage on 240 has a music and power which I could imagine being quoted as a classic piece of war prose/poetry in which the phrase "All secure. Situation remains the same" is echoed five times throughout the piece in a kind of fugue. Great writing which summarises the misery and the exhaustion men suffered on patrol, especially the power of the landscape and climate to overpower. ... Read more


    20. Alexander Hamilton
    by Ron Chernow
    list price: $35.00
    our price: $21.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1594200092
    Catlog: Book (2004-04-01)
    Publisher: Penguin Books
    Sales Rank: 45
    Average Customer Review: 4.65 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    Building on biographies by Richard Brookhiser and Willard Sterne Randall, Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton provides what may be the most comprehensive modern examination of the often overlooked Founding Father. From the start, Chernow argues that Hamilton’s premature death at age 49 left his record to be reinterpreted and even re-written by his more long-lived enemies, among them: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Monroe. Hamilton’s achievements as first Secretary of the Treasury, co-author of The Federalist Papers, and member of the Constitutional Convention were clouded after his death by strident claims that he was an arrogant, self-serving monarchist. Chernow delves into the almost 22,000 pages of letters, manuscripts, and articles that make up Hamilton’s legacy to reveal a man with a sophisticated intellect, a romantic spirit, and a late-blooming religiosity.

    One fault of the book, is that Chernow is so convinced of Hamilton’s excellence that his narrative sometimes becomes hagiographic. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Chernow’s account of the infamous duel between Hamilton and Aaron Burr in 1804. He describes Hamilton’s final hours as pious, while Burr, Jefferson, and Adams achieve an almost cartoonish villainy at the news of Hamilton’s passing.

    A defender of the union against New England secession and an opponent of slavery, Hamilton has a special appeal to modern sensibilities. Chernow argues that in contrast to Jefferson and Washington’s now outmoded agrarian idealism, Hamilton was "the prophet of the capitalist revolution" and the true forebear of modern America. In his Prologue, he writes: "In all probability, Alexander Hamilton is the foremost figure in American history who never attained the presidency, yet he probably had a much deeper and more lasting impact than many who did." With Alexander Hamilton, this impact can now be more widely appreciated. --Patrick O'Kelley ... Read more

    Reviews (51)

    5-0 out of 5 stars One of American History's Shining Stars
    There have NOT been enough biographies of Alexander Hamilton, and Ron Chernow has restored this often maligned founding father into his deserved spotlight. The marvelous opening passage describes the longings of Hamilton's widow, Elizabeth, for her husband who had died nearly 50 years previously. This romantic image sets the tone for this brilliant book, as it explores the heart as well as the mind of Alexander Hamilton.

    For those who do not know, Hamilton was not merely a capitalist and economist who happened to die in a duel with Aaron Burr. True, he was the founder of The Bank of New York and was America's first Secretary of the Treasury. But Hamilton was also a tireless abolitionist, a brilliant lawyer and writer, General Washington's right-hand-man, a war hero, founder of the New York Post, and a swash-buckling romantic. Taken on their own, these achievements are amazing enough, but given the enormous obstacles and tragedies he had to overcome during his youth, it's just mindboggling. To take it a step further, he accomplished all this in just 49 years, which was his age at the time of his death.

    A life as full, as dramatic, as IMPORTANT as Alexander Hamilton's deserves volumes. Ron Chernow's extensive biography is a long book but, even so, the amazing life he is describing requires such length. And, to Chernow's credit, the book achieves just the right balance of admiration and criticism, romanticism and realism, speculation and fact. Hamilton's life swung between often contradictory ideas and emotions, and Chernow presents them all to us, rather than sticking with one overriding image. ALEXANDER HAMILTON by Ron Chernow is perhaps the most important book written about the nascent years of our country since Ellis' FOUNDING BROTHERS, which would make an excellent companion to this book. I would also strongly recommend McCullough's JOHN ADAMS, as well.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Most Important American Figure Never to Become President
    During the 1980s, during the period when Bank of New York launched its hostile take-over of Irving Bank, the following anecdote circulated.

    As Alexander Hamilton was getting into the boat to be rowed across the Hudson River to Weehawken where he was scheduled to duel Aaron Burr, he turned to his aide and said, "Don't do anything until I return."

    The story concluded, unfortunately, the aide and all of his successors took Hamilton at his word.

    The anecdote, though funny at the time of the take-over, could not have a weaker historical foundation. Ron Chernow's biography relates the details of an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan who rose to become George Washington's key aide-de-camp, battlefield hero, Constitutional Convention delegate, co-author of The Federalist Papers, Federalist Party head and the country's first Treasury Secretary.

    Hamilton was a rare revolutionary: fearless warrior, master administrator and blazing administrator. No other moment in American history could have better employed Hamilton's abundant talents and energy.

    As Treasury Secretary, the country benefited from his abilities as a thinker, doer, skilled executive and political theorist. He was a system builder who devised and implemented interrelated policies.

    As in the Revolution, Hamilton and Washington complemented each other. Washington wanted to remain above the partisan fray. He was gifted with superb judgment. When presented with options, he almost always made the correct choice. His detached style left room for assertiveness. Especially in financial matters, Hamilton stepped into the breach.
    Washington was sensitive to criticism, yet learned to control his emotions. Hamilton, on the other hand, was often acted without tact and was naturally provocative.

    Perhaps the main reason Hamilton accomplished so much was Washington agreed with his vision of 13 colonies welded into a single, respected nation. Chernow presents a well-written and nuanced portrait that arguably is the most important figure in American history that never attained the presidency. Though his foreign birth denied him the ultimate prize, his accomplishments produced a far more lasting impact than many who claimed it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars True Founding Interests
    The best all around depiction of a pivotal charecter in the founding of our country. With all of Mr Hamiltons accomplishments and pitfalls of character. Hamilton created almost single-handedly the modern capitalist society in addition to making huge implications into the manner which our government took shape that so many Americans take for granted. I would encourage anyone interested in the formation of the American experiment and a capitalist society read this book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Phenomenal Life
    After Ronald Reagan died, I recall a TV commentator saying that there was a movement to replace Hamilton with Reagan on the $10 bill. Paraphrasing, "Hamilton was an easy target because he lacks a 'constituency'". Chernow's outstanding biography not only demonstrates why Hamilton is on the bill, but that his constituency should be all Americans. Of the "Founding Fathers", it is Hamilton who, if he could come back today, would be generally pleased at the United States he would find; his vision of capitalism, free markets and a central government has come to fruition.

    The book details his youth growing up in the West Indies of questionable legitimacy, emigrating to the "Colonies", receiving an education, serving on Washington's staff in the Revolutionary War, his authorship of the Federalist Papers, his role in the Constitutional Convention, first Secretary of the Treasury, prolific writer, lawyer. His was a truly a phenomenal life. Chernow remarks that "No immigrant did more for the United States than Hamilton." After completing this book you can't help but "second" that statement.

    The book paints vivid portraits of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Adams and Burr as well as the political climate. The role of his family and particularly his wife are well chronicled along with his faults. This book adds to the number of outstanding biographies that are being written about this period of our history. Back to Reagan, who quoted Hamilton on numerous occasions, I think if he had a say in who should be on the Ten, he like me would vote for Hamilton.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Stunning
    This is the best biography I have read in years. After the wonderful biographies out recently about Franklin and Adams, it was a thrill to learn about Alexander Hamilton, who has been so maligned and sidestepped by history. Buy this book. It is beautifully written, will hold your interest, and you will come away--as I did--with a new take on the founding of this country. ... Read more


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