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    1. 1776
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    2. A Great Improvisation : Franklin,
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    3. Becoming Justice Blackmun : Harry
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    4. One Soldier's Story : A Memoir
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    5. What's the Matter with Kansas?
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    6. A People's History of the United
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    7. Perfect Soldiers : The Hijackers:
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    8. The American Pageant: A History
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    9. Assassination Vacation
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    10. Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx
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    11. Soldiers and Slaves : American
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    12. The Oxford Companion to United
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    13. The American People, Vol. 2, Chapters
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    14. 109 East Palace : Robert Oppenheimer
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    15. The Peabody Sisters : Three Women
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    16. The Politically Incorrect Guide
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    17. Night
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    18. Birds in Brazil
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    19. Under the Banner of Heaven : A
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    20. John Brown, Abolitionist : The

    1. 1776
    by David McCullough
    list price: $35.00
    our price: $23.10
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0743226712
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-24)
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster
    Sales Rank: 147310
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    2. A Great Improvisation : Franklin, France, and the Birth of America
    by Stacy Schiff
    list price: $27.50
    our price: $18.15
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0805066330
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-02)
    Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
    Sales Rank: 340948
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    Book Description

    In this dazzling work of history, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author follows Benjamin Franklin to France for the crowning achievement of his career

    In December of 1776 a small boat delivered an old man to France." So begins an enthralling narrative account of how Benjamin Franklin-seventy years old, without any diplomatic training, and possessed of the most rudimentary French-convinced France, an absolute monarchy, to underwrite America's experiment in democracy.

    When Franklin stepped onto French soil, he well understood he was embarking on the greatest gamble of his career. By virtue of fame, charisma, and ingenuity, Franklin outmaneuvered British spies, French informers, and hostile colleagues; engineered the Franco-American alliance of l778; and helped to negotiate the peace of l783. The eight-year French mission stands not only as Franklin's most vital service to his country but as the most revealing of the man.

    In A Great Improvisation, Stacy Schiff draws from new and little-known sources to illuminate the least-explored part of Franklin's life. Here is an unfamiliar, unforgettable chapter of the Revolution, a rousing tale of American infighting, and the treacherous backroom dealings at Versailles that would propel George Washington from near decimation at Valley Forge to victory at Yorktown. From these pages emerge a particularly human and yet fiercely determined Founding Father, as well as a profound sense of how fragile, improvisational, and international was our country's bid for independence.
    ... Read more

    3. Becoming Justice Blackmun : Harry Blackmun's Supreme Court Journey
    by Linda Greenhouse
    list price: $25.00
    our price: $16.50
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 080507791X
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-02)
    Publisher: Times Books
    Sales Rank: 539
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    A Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent with unprecedented access to the inner workings of the U.S. Supreme Court chronicles the personal transformation of a legendary justice

    From 1970 to 1994, Justice Harry A. Blackmun (1908-1999) wrote numerous landmark Supreme Court decisions, including Roe v. Wade, and participated in the most contentious debates of his era-all behind closed doors. In Becoming Justice Blackmun, Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times draws back the curtain on America's most private branch of government and reveals the backstage story of the Supreme Court through the eyes and writings of this extraordinary justice.

    Greenhouse was the first print reporter to have access to Blackmun's extensive archive and his private and public papers. From this trove she has crafted a compelling narrative of Blackmun's years on the Court, showing how he never lost sight of the human beings behind the legal cases and how he was not afraid to question his own views on such controversial issues as abortion, the death penalty, and sex discrimination. Greenhouse also tells the story of how Blackmun's lifelong friendship with Chief Justice Warren E. Burger withered in the crucible of life on the nation's highest court, revealing how political differences became personal, even for the country's most respected jurists.

    Becoming Justice Blackmun, written by America's preeminent Supreme Court reporter, offers a rare and wonderfully vivid portrait of the nation's highest court, including insights into many of the current justices. It is a must-read for everyone who cares about the Court and its impact on our lives.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (7)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Blackmun maximized the product and so has Greenhouse
    Blackmun was clearly a man who maximized the product.Linda Greenhouse doesn't quite explain how this rather unprepossessing figure achieved such high office.He was bright and industrious, to be sure, but so were many others.He was not a strong personality or even particularly personable or outgoing.But in one respect at least, Blackmun seems to have been truly extraordinary--his penchant from an early age for recording the events of his life and collecting almost every note, letter or document which related to it--as if he knew and were determined to become someone of substance.Indeed, Greenhouse tells us that Blackmun's collection comprises more than one and a half million items, is contained in some 1585 boxes, and takes up more than 600 feet of shelf space in the Library of Congress.

    Greenhouse makes wonderful use of this massive collection, writing a remarkably spare yet elegant narrative of what she quite rightly calls "a consequential life," one that spanned the twentieth century and left its mark not only on the law but on American society.Blackmun's bookish reticence may not make him very attractive or interesting to the general reader, but for those seeking a better understanding of the modern Supreme Court and some of its Justices, this volume is as invaluable as it is fascinating.We see Blackmun increasingly determined to do justice as much as to apply the law, with Greenhouse focusing on his opinions having to do with abortion, capital punishment, and sex discrimination.We see Blackmun grow totally estranged from Chief Justice Warren Burger, his closest childhood friend at whose wedding he served as best man.We see Blackmun relate more closely to his young law clerks, some of whom seem to have authored the most memorable lines in his opinions.

    Someone else will have to research and interview more widely to write the definitive, full-length biography and survey Blackmun's entire judicial career.But we owe much to Greenhouse for this wonderful and most timely introduction.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The evolution of a great justice
    Linda Greenhouse has written an extraordinary book about the life and career of one of the great Supreme Court justices of our time, Harry A. Blackmun. In doing so she has given us, in "Becoming Justice Blackmun", a remarkable behind-the-scenes look at not only Blackmun but the interaction among the justices of the court. She succeeds brilliantly.

    Blackmun's encounter with destiny was certainly not in the cards early on for this man from Minnesota. Greenhouse explores Blackmun's early career and most notably his longtime friendship with Warren E. Burger, with whom he would serve on the Supreme Court for sixteen years. Their friendship is a central theme in her book...a friendship that would falter and eventually dissolve. At every turn the author's narrative flows warmly and vividly as she paints a most impressive picture of the man who would become the center of controversy in Roe v. Wade. Greenhouse reflects accurately on Blackmun, a shy, soft-spoken man, whose studious manner often led to agonizing decisions. Nonetheless, those decisions were carefully crafted and always thoughtful.

    This could have been a dry effort on Greenhouse's part but she spices it up with tales of humor. Like kids at school, the justices passed amusing notes back and forth among themselves and even had a betting pool for the 1992 presidential election. It has always been rumored that the court closely follows presidential elections but I had no idea that they took it this far!

    What emerges finally is the author's extensive research and knowledge of not only the court but Blackmun, especially. Through detailed accounts of some of the most important court cases (effectively explained for those of us who are not accustomed to the law) she connects those cases with Blackmun's personal reflections about them and how he dealt with other justices. Blackmun was unflappable at times but willing to make changes in his own arguments when necessary. Greenhouse covers all of this with obvious admiration for her subject but with an objectivity that lends itself to an impartial overall view of Harry Blackmun.

    "Becoming Justice Blackmun" is a tour de force. There are few opportunities to have such a look at the Supreme Court and its inner workings and having been granted an opportunity to write this book, Linda Greenhouse has made a significant contribution to our nation's history.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A marvelously insightful synthesis
    In this compact and beautifully written book, Linda Greenhouse traces the evolution and growth of Justice Blackmun through the development of several crucial lines of Supreme Court cases.Featuring seldom revealed behind the scenes events drawn from the Justice's private papers, the reader is treated to a tremendously interesting, yet easy to follow, history of the progression of various areas of constitutional law, intertwined with the fascinating disintegration of the life-long relationship between Justice Blackmun and Chief Justice Warren Burger.This book clearly merits the excellent reviews it has received.

    2-0 out of 5 stars History attempted by Journalists is always disappointing
    Linda Greenhouse has done careful research, and as she herself notes, her 264-page treatise on Harry Blackmun chooses certain foci and not others. She makes no claim to exhaustiveness.

    This notwithstanding, with the exception of a beginning that tells us rather matter-of-factly about some of young Harry's experiences, the book reads like a chronological laundy list of Blackmun's approach to issues he faced on the 8th Circuit COurt of Appeals and then on the Supreme Court. Greenhouse tries to spice it up a little by adding her take on the genuinely compelling story of the breakup of the friendship between Blackmun and his lifelong compatriot Chief Justice Burger. Even here, though, she doesn't follow any leads, doesn't bring compelling psychological realism to the page, and maintains a monotone narrative. It is a journalist trying to report rather than a historian or biographer reporting and analyzing that gives this tome it's horribly dry flavor.

    Greenhouse's book does provide useful information and is instructive, but more so to the armchair Supreme Court scholar than to any serious scholar or anyone looking for a good read. What a wonderful subject, what a compelling title, and what a mediocre disappointing little book that could have been so much better. Greenhouse should stick to reporting on the Supreme Court and stay away from longer narratives. Nina Totenberg would have done so much better!

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Changed Man
    This is a remarkable books in so many ways.As other reviews have indicated this is not intended to be a complete biography but rather information gleaned from a review of the archives of Justice Blackmun

    LInda Greenhouse focused mainly on three topic.The first is the ending of a friendship between Justice Blackmun and Chief Justice Burger.The two men grew up together.Burger was the leader bringing Justice Blackmun with him. When Justice Blackmun arrived at the Supreme Court he slowly became his own man and the friendship falls apart.In her reliance on the Blackmun papers only we can only see one side of the fissure but even that shows when old friends go their own way it often is done by small slights that in each detail is irrelevant but together are significant.

    The second theme is the change in Blackmun"sattitude toward the death penalty. In small steps the responsibilities of the Court required Blackmun to more fully understand the implications of the penalty until finally he no longer could support it.Again the change is beautifully detailed and we feel from his writing as portrayed by Ms Greenhouse the depth of the change.In this portion of the book we learn how difficult it is to predict how sitting on the Court will change people.As we see the selection process for a new justices begin we should remember that people do grow with responsibilities and not to be to quick to characterize a nominee.

    The last focus and the most detailed portion of the book is the identification of Justice Blackmun with the Roe decision which he wrote. Starting from the beginning of the research at Mayo Clinic the focus of the decision was the protection of doctors.As Blackmun developed his view he became more concerned about the rights of woman.Roe became his legacy and he worked hard and even stayed on the Court longer to be sure the case was not reversed.

    The book also provides a wonderful insight on how the Court operates.Justices that have different views are friendly.The letters and the notes between the justices are fascinating.

    The theme is the change in Blackmum as he served.The lesson is that as we watch the Court we forget that the justices can change and that there is enormous pride in the institution.

    In summary this is a wonderful book by an author who obviously respects her subject ... Read more


    4. One Soldier's Story : A Memoir
    by Bob Dole
    list price: $25.95
    our price: $17.13
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0060763418
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-12)
    Publisher: HarperCollins
    Sales Rank: 420
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Download Description

    "

    Before he became one of America's most respected statesmen, Bob Dole was an average citizen serving heroically for his country. The bravery he showed after suffering near-fatal injuries in the final days of World War II is the stuff of legend. Now, for the first time in his own words, Dole tells the moving story of his harrowing experience on and off the battlefield, and how it changed his life.

    Speaking here not as a politician but as a wounded G.I., Dole recounts his own odyssey of courage and sacrifice, and also honors the fighting spirit of the countless heroes with whom he served. Heartfelt and inspiring, One Soldier's Story is the World War II chronicle that America has been waiting for.

    " ... Read more

    Reviews (18)

    2-0 out of 5 stars Not Enough Here
    Given the favorable press coverage this book has gotten, I was expecting something really dramatic, personal and revealing in a human sort of way. But I found there's really not much here. What there is you can get by reading the book reviews, and save yourself some money.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Soldier's Story & A memoir of a career in government.
    Dole's autobiography is very revealing and more educational than any government school.

    Bob Dole was born in Russell, Kansas, in 1923.He was elected as U.S. representative from Kansas in 1960 and served four terms. In 1968 he was elected to the U.S. Senate. Dole was Gerald Ford's running mate in Ford's unsuccessful presidential campaign (1976) and campaigned unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980 and 1988. He has served as Senate majority leader (1985-87, 1995 to 1996) and minority leader (1987-95).In other words Dole was a career politician.

    It is clear from the book that being a career politician is probably related to the fact that two weeks before the end of WWII, Dole was severely wounded and remained disabled for life.

    He is not a gifted writer--his prose is often stilted, and he resorts too easily to cliches.That also sums up his political career.He gives no hints of understanding free market economics nor the need for cutting government.Dole shows why the Republican Party is a lost cause for liberty.

    People sometimes mistakenly say that Dole is "conservative" but that is misleading. Dole served in the Senate for 27 years and government did nothing but grow.Dole exemplifies what is known as the "greatest spending generation."

    Dole was the Republican candidate for president in 1996 against Bill Clinton.Given the choice between two big socialists, the voters went with the more charismatic Clinton. Even before Clinton, no republican president had ever cut the size and scope of government. Dole never got his chance to show that he could preside over massive socialism as president. Even so, his fellow republican-socialists are now twice as socialistic as Clinton was (in social spending alone).

    The only way that Dole can be called biased is that he drones on about socialists (Democrats and Republicans) and ignores anyone who wants to cut government (Libertarians).

    Bob Dole is stuck in silly left-right political analysis, as taught in government schools. He is still unaware of the Nolan chart or Diamond chart. He uses the word "liberal" unprofessionally to mean "left." His habit forgets the etymology of "liberal" for "liberty" (against government and for laissez-faire capitalism). That bad habit explains why republicans and democrats are the same: socialists.Bob Dole is an example of why government schools are unconstitutional and must end.

    Dole doesn't do well addressing the massive growth in government in the USA. It seems like Dole doesn't think that government in the USA is big enough yet.

    Dole is not libertarian and he uses the misnomer "public schools" to mean "government schools."No one would trust the government to tell the truth if it published books like Dole's. Why would the government tell the truth in government schools?

    Dole doesn't have a problem with "patriotism" and the pledge of allegiance. Big problem: Dole don't arise each morning to gather with neighbors and robotically chant, as he only "loves" the pledge when government's schools lead children in robotic chanting every morning for twelve years of their lives upon the ring of a bell, like Pavlov's lapdogs of the state. Did I mention that Dole is an example of why government schools are unconstitutional and have destroyed a "free press" and why government schools must end?

    Dole book suggests that he doesn't know that the pledge was written by a socialist (Francis Bellamy) in the USA and that the original salute was a straight-arm salute (as shown in web image searches for "original socialist salute"). Dole should know because he was born in 1923 and lived through the pledge's use of the Nazi-style salute (it changed in 1942). Dole doesn't know of the news-breaking discovery by the historian Rex Curry that the straight-arm salute of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazis) came from the USA's pledge of allegiance and military salute, and not from ancient Rome.Dole seems unaware that Bellamy put flags in every school to promote a government takeover of education for widespread nationalization and socialism.

    Dole is an example of why some educated socialists (socialists who know the origin of the pledge) laugh at so-called "conservatives," because socialists presume that conservatives like Dole have been duped into supporting socialism and is ignorant of the pledge's socialist past.

    Francis Bellamy and his cousin and cohort Edward Bellamy were national socialists who idolized the military and wanted to nationalize the entire US economy, including all schools. It was a philosophy that led to the socialist Wholecaust (of which the Holocaust was a part) where millions were murdered (62 million by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, 35 million by the Peoples' Republic of China, 21 million by the National Socialist German Workers' Party) in the worst slaughter in history. That is why the Bellamys are known as America's Nazis.All Holocaust Museums could expand four-fold with Wholecaust Museums.

    Bellamy believed that government schools with pledges and flags were needed to brainwash children to embrace nationalism, militarism, and socialism.

    Bellamy wanted the government to takeover everything and impose the military's "efficiency," as he said. It is the origin of the modern military-socialist complex.

    Bellamy wanted a flag over every school because he wanted to nationalize and militarize everything, including all schools, and eliminate all of the better alternatives. During Bellamy's time the government was taking over education.

    Bellamy wanted government schools to ape the military.Government schools were intended to create an "industrial army" (another Bellamy phrase, and the word "army" was not metaphorical) and to help nationalize everything else.

    Because of the Bellamy way of thinking, government-schools spread and they mandated segregation by law and taught racism as official policy and did so even after the National Socialists were defeated, and well beyond.

    Thereafter, the government's segregation legacy caused more police-state racism of forced busing that destroyed communities and neighborhoods and deepened hostilities.

    Because of the Bellamy way of thinking, government-schools spread and they mandated the Nazi-style salute by law, flags in every classroom, and daily robotic chanting of the pledge of allegiance in military formation like Pavlov's lapdogs of the state.

    The bizarre practices served as an example for three decades before they were adopted by the National Socialist German Workers' Party.

    When Jesse Owens competed in the 1936 Olympics in Germany, his neighbors attended segregated government schools where they saluted the flag with the Nazi salute.

    As under Nazism, children in the USA (including Jehovah's Witnesses and blacks and the Jewish and others) attended government schools where segregation was imposed by law, where racism was taught as official policy, and where they were required by law to perform the Nazi salute and robotically chant a pledge to a flag. If they refused, then they were persecuted and expelled from government schools and had to use the many better alternatives. There were also acts of physical violence.

    The hypnotic "Sieg Heil" salute to a flag symbol mesmerized Americans long before it brainwashed Germans.

    Jehovah's Witnesses were among the first people to publicly fight the government and its pledge ritual in the USA, during the same time that they fought it in Nazi Germany.They eventually achieved total victory over Nazi socialism.They achieved only partial victory over similar socialism in the USA.The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that they could not be forced to perform the pledge.Laws still make teachers lead children in robotic chants of the socialist's pledge daily, on cue from the government. Jehovah's Witnesses and other children in government schools must watch the ritual performed by others.

    The pledge gesture was altered and explicit school segregation by government ended. The Government's schools still exist, the federal flag brands government schools, and government's teachers must chant the pledge daily. Students are kept ignorant of the pledge's original salute and history.That is why the pledge still exists.

    The USA also continued its Nazi numbering (social security from 1935) and its robotic pledge, with no stopping.

    Today, the USA numbers babies, and government schools demand the numbers for enrollment, and the numbers track homes, workplaces, incomes, finances, and more, for life.School laws still tout the daily pledge, a bizarre ritual shunned by every other country.

    Dole has discussed plans for "reform" of social security that would invest social security taxes in private businesses. At the height of Nazi power, the USA's government deliberately stepped onto the same path with national numbering imposed in 1935 with the social security system.The federal government was growing massively and attempting to nationalize the economy in many ways.The US Supreme Court struck down much of the new legislation as unconstitutional until the craven FDR pressured the Court into the "switch in time that socialized nine."

    New social security reform ideas are so-called "privatization" plans that would nationalize all businesses, in addition to schools. It would impress the Bellamys.Dole does not have the ethics to discuss the other side of the issue (the proper side): ending government involvement in education, and ending the social security scam, its taxes and its Nazi numbering.If the antidisestablishmentarianism does not end, then the USA's police state will grow.

    Dole has another bad habit: overuse of the hackneyed word "Nazi" so much that it might cause one to wonder if he knows what the abbreviation abbreviates. Many people forget that "Nazi" means "National Socialist German Workers' Party," and one reason people forget is because the word "Nazi" is overused by politicians like Dole who rarely or never say the actual name of the horrid party.A good mnemonic device is that the sick socialist swastika represented two overlapping "S" letters for "socialism" under the National Socialist German Workers' Party.

    Overall, Dole's book was very revealing and educational and worth the time to review.Let's hope for a more enlightened sequel in the future.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Story of a Different Time
    This book is noteworthy as it is a public figure who has written a book without bragging about himself or supporting his current positions or causes.Dole is a retired politician who in his year's of reflection decides to write about the most significant event of his life, his service in WWII, the subsequent life-threatening injury, growing up in middle-century America and the support he received to overcome this devastating injury.

    This is a simple book that could have been written by thousands of WWII vets.Unfortunately, they are not famous and Bob is so in many respects Dole is writing it for them.He writes this book with no ego and no political agenda.In fact, he writes of his relationships across party lines and as he discusses his involvement with the WWII War Memorial there are great discussions on his excellent relationship with Bill Clinton.

    Where this book is most fascinating is describing his struggles going to college and the mindset of Americans as Pearl Harbor is bombed.Then you see the thought process of these young men as they decide whether to enlist and what should they attempt to do in the armed services.Pre-battle training is covered extensively but mainly from the standpoint of relationships with family through the letters included.Unfortunately, Dole's time in battle was limited as he is wounded almost immediately.So whole the build-up of this battle is compelling, it ends quickly.Then the amazing tale of how he was rescued at great risk and somehow managed to survive is told in great detail.Most Americans know he was injured but how many know of the months he was laid up paralyzed?Or the life threatening infections he fought off with experimental drugs?

    This book is not for everyone.If you are looking for a war book, this isn't it.Political intrigue and partisan politics?Pass on this read.But to reflect family life in a simpler America and the struggles of the heroic WWII soldiers, this is an excellent book and well worth the read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Soldier's Story, Not the Politicians
    Note the title, this is a soldier's story. Bob Dole spent most of his life as a politician, but that's another story, another book. This is the story of Bob Dole's military career and the aftermath of being wounded in combat.

    This story is one of courage and the continual battle to regain what was lost on a mountain in Italy. Bob Dole is a member of what has been called the Greatest Generation. And regardless of what you might think of his politics, he is a great member of that generation.

    Also surprising is his humor that comes out in his writing. His is not the dour even sullen personality that came across in the election. His is more the Bob Dole being asked for ID in the American Express commercial.

    We are now engaged in a foreign war where young men are coming back horribly wounded. Here is a story of inspiration and hope for them.

    5-0 out of 5 stars NotDole the politician
    This is a book well worth reading.
    Let me say at the outset that I have issues with Dole the politician but this is about Dole the man.
    It is a very human book that tells the story of an average American, a good citizen, a soldier and a man having to deal with a crippling injury.
    It is an unflinching look at how an average life can becomeremarkable life and a story of human endurance and courage.
    Inspiring. ... Read more


    5. What's the Matter with Kansas? : How Conservatives Won the Heart of America
    by Thomas Frank
    list price: $14.00
    our price: $11.20
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 080507774X
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
    Publisher: Owl Books
    Sales Rank: 166
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    The largely blue collar citizens of Kansas can be counted upon to be a "red" state in any election, voting solidly Republican and possessing a deep animosity toward the left. This, according to author Thomas Frank, is a pretty self-defeating phenomenon, given that the policies of the Republican Party benefit the wealthy and powerful at the great expense of the average worker. According to Frank, the conservative establishment has tricked Kansans, playing up the emotional touchstones of conservatism and perpetuating a sense of a vast liberal empire out to crush traditional values while barely ever discussing the Republicans' actual economic policies and what they mean to the working class. Thus the pro-life Kansas factory worker who listens to Rush Limbaugh will repeatedly vote for the party that is less likely to protect his safety, less likely to protect his job, and less likely to benefit him economically. To much of America, Kansas is an abstract, "where Dorothy wants to return. Where Superman grew up." But Frank, a native Kansan, separates reality from myth in What's the Matter with Kansas and tells the state's socio-political history from its early days as a hotbed of leftist activism to a state so entrenched in conservatism that the only political division remaining is between the moderate and more-extreme right wings of the same party. Frank, the founding editor of The Baffler and a contributor to Harper's and The Nation, knows the state and its people. He even includes his own history as a young conservative idealist turned disenchanted college Republican, and his first-hand experience, combined with a sharp wit and thorough reasoning, makes his book more credible than the elites of either the left and right who claim to understand Kansas. --John Moe ... Read more

    Reviews (244)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Insightful, relevant, and shocking.
    If you want to understand why the armies of righteousness who have the most to benefit from workers' rights, better schooling, and corporate accountability are the same people to cast their votes for the candidate that works against all three, this is the book to read.

    Frank answers the previous question by describing what he calls a "backlash" phenomenon:an eruption of cultural anger, rooted in a sense of powerless, in response to the perception that elites are destroying society.By channeling all of their energies on remedying the perceived cultural ills of society (practices like abortion, gay marriage, evolution in the public schools), the backlashers, predominantly from the lower classes, feel that they are working to improve not only their own lives, but also society at a whole.

    Unfortunately for the backlashers, and as Mr. Frank so correctly underscores throughout the duration of his work, the positions they champion rarely find their way into public policy.In the end, the backlashers elect politicians who have no intention of appointing pro-life judges or of voting for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.Instead, these politicians instead work to eliminate business regulations, gut old-age pensions, repeal the estate tax (a tax on millionaire's estates at the time of their death), and push through countless other measures that obliterate the economic prospects of lower- and middle-class voters.And they do it all while wrapping themselves in the rhetoric of righteousness.

    As an example, Frank points out that Bush campaigned on his moral clarity regarding such issues as terrorism, stem cell research, and abortion.Now in office with the help of the backlash votes, Bush has not made a single overture to translate any of these issues into action, making one brief mention of the sanctity of marriage in his State of the Union address in January.The agenda he has proposed is the privatization of social security, the continuation of his tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and the appointment of judges who are known more for being anti-consumer than anti-abortion.Ironically, the actions the Bush administration is undertaking affect the very poor people who cast their votes for him in moral indignation last year.

    Fired up by their zealotry, the backlashers still have not realized, even after twenty years, that politicians use morality as a rhetorical device more than as a basis for their policy decisions.As Frank explains, the very purpose these backlash issues serve it to obscure the viewpoint of the voters, to lead them to vote against their own economic well-being in favor of abstract morality, and to do it election after election.Thus, the backlash issues are designed not to become law.They are intended to fester as the rotting carrot on the stick to lead the masses around for as long as they will ignore the consequences of their own voting behavior.

    What Frank does so beautifully in this book is to contrast the self-defeating, seemingly contradictory behavior of backlashing Republicans -- particularly Kansas Conservative Republicans -- with the Kansas populists from a century ago.Whereas William Jennings Bryan correctly identified greed as a driving force behind society's moral composition, today's backlashers are hapless, failing to understand that their righteous politicians are in bed with the corporations that pollute the entertainment industry with depravity.Whereas the Populists that made Kansas a hotbed of activism championed social programs and government subsidies, modern-day Kansans have all-but demolished their own neighborhoods with blind reliance on laissez-faire capitalism.

    If you are a Democrat and you are amazed at how so many people could vote for Bush -- a second time, read this book.If you are a Republican who does not mind hearing points of view which differ from your own, read this book.If you are neither a Republican nor a Democrat, but a concerned American who wants to understand more about today's political landscape, READ THIS BOOK!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Lives Up to its Hype
    Just finished reading the paperback version, which includes an afterword about the 2004 election.After everything that was said about this book by the right and the left leading up to the election, I was prepared to be disappointed.Yet the book provided a rare combination of humor, insight, and almost elegant prose that puts Frank in a rare league-- with the likes of Orwell and Mencken.This is really an essential book for those seeking to understand the trends in American politics, and a breezy, funny read to boot.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Good analysis
    This book is an excellent analysis of how republicans and conservatives came to finally control all three branches of the government in the 1990s. For an analysis of how conservatives accomplished this starting in the 1960s, see a more systematically and well-researched book, "America's Right Turn."

    I will not go into the details of this book, but this one-starreviewer's quote is ample evidence for how conservatives got the poor and disenfranchised to vote for them: "I can't believe a Lefty allowed trees to be killed for this drivel."

    3-0 out of 5 stars Conservatism and Insanity
    Tom Franks book "What's the Matter with Kansas?" highlights a problem found all across the country.The very people who have been typically identified as solid Democrat voters in the past are often breaking ranks and voting for Republican candidates.

    What is most incredible is that such a decision would seem to defy the self-interest of many--if not all--of these voters.Franks describes in his book how farmers who are losing their farms, workers who are stuck in low wage jobs where unions are being de-certified, and blue collar people who are losing health insurance show up on election day and vote for the very candidates who would seem to accelerate this process.

    Franks demonstrates how the GOP has used the so-called "social issues" abortion, gay rights, and prayer in the school as wedges to persuade people to vote republican who have no logical reason for doing so.Incredibly, this strategy seems to be working in the South and Midwest.

    The book has some weaknesses.Franks spends a great deal of time using hyperbole and sarcasm to ridicule the conservatives and those who seemingly ignore their self interest and vote for them.I wish he had spent more time than he does talking about what the Democrats can do to win these voters back.Perhaps, he also fails to understand that one reason the Democrats have been in decline is simply because many of the things the party has stood for since the Great Depression have become less and less relevant.Economic issues were major motivators for voters when 20% of the work force was unemployed, when collective bargaining did not exist in the workplace, and when no social safety for the elderly--like social security and Medicare--existed.However, despite inequalities in income and social problems the situation in America is fortunately not nearly as desperate as it was in the 1930's. Hence, Democrats cannot play these issues as successfully as they did in the past. Political parties have to adapt to changing realities.Democrats must do a better job of explaining how right wing policies are slowly, but steadily eroding economic gains by the middle class. Democrats have to be more willing to tackle issues like outsourcing jobs and free trade than we have in the past.

    Nonetheless, Franks describes a phenomenon that is very real and must be addressed by Democrat leadership if the party is not to remain permanently--or longterm--in the minority.The power that the "social issues" have over a large segment of the middle class and working class population cannot be ignored.Its now a critical factor in determining the outcome of national elections.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Insights
    He gives a very convincing explanation of why people have have abandoned aligning their votes with their best economic interests and switched to "values" based voting.He also shows how misleading are the claims of those who proclaim themselves to be guided by values when in fact they are just in it for the glory and the power. He does go on and by the end I felt the book could have been much shorter. ... Read more


    6. A People's History of the United States : 1492-Present (Perennial Classics)
    by Howard Zinn
    list price: $18.95
    our price: $13.26
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0060528370
    Catlog: Book (2003-04-01)
    Publisher: Perennial Classics
    Sales Rank: 175
    Average Customer Review: 3.83 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Known for its lively, clear prose as well as its scholarly research, A People's History of the United States is the only volume to tell America's story from the point of view of -- and in the words of -- America's women, factory workers, African Americans, Native Americans, working poor, and immigrant laborers. ... Read more

    Reviews (404)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Actually it is History of American Protest and Labor Dispute
    Tough book to review. His bias is clear, but he is also upfront about it. I feel the greatest flaw of the book is that it paints history in incredibly "good vs evil" colors. While attesting to narrate a history of the American people, Zinn is also willing to portray much of America as remorseless villains. His portrayal of police forces make them seem as humane as stormtroopers in Star Wars. While the "underclass" have names and inspire sympathy the police forces and conservatives are faceless drones whose only role in history is to step over others. Then violence of his favorites is always justified implicitly while all other forms of violence are a symbol of tyranny. In this he falls in the same flaw he critiques, American history may at times glorify the American role and gloss over its failures, Zinn commits the same mistake in the opposite direction greatly focusing on American failures and forgetting its virtues.

    Zinn's book has also very little comparison to other countries, American racism, poverty and misogyny is never placed in a historical context. America's reality becomes always compared to an unexpressed ideal; with no allowance for a period of development in any historical scenario. For instance read Gordon Woods "The Radicalism of the American Revolution" for a completely different view on the American Revolution (and much more comparative to the eighteen century reality of the world).
    The book also becomes even more childish as it approaches more modern periods, while in from the Jacksonian and the Progressive era Zinn was willing to basically list the strikes happening in America (again without contrast to foreign comparisons, British for example), as he tries to explain quickly his views in modern American society his lack of arguments becomes more apparent and the superficiality of his so ambitious work is made more evident.

    This is also very Marxist rendition of history. Class struggle dominates, and the charming explicative simplicity of Marxist analysis of history is ever present (along with is implied superficiality), along with a good dose of paranoia on the abilities of Big Brother over the centuries. The good and bad guys are so obvious in Zinn's History that all that he could do to make it more so was to dispense white and black hats as the old Westerns did.

    Why three stars then? Well the book is also very passionate and a very fast read. Although I greatly disagree with the philosophy in it, this is a very clear presentation of it. The very influence of this book and its views on the American historiography and debate makes it a very important read. Those who agree with everything Zinn says really should read more in depth views of history that can greatly challenge this thesis, while those who can't read it at all must open their minds for the incredible value of the questioning (whether at times sophomoric) that Zinn can create.

    5-0 out of 5 stars THE UGLY TRUTH BEHIND OUR CELEBRATED HISTORY
    Zinn successfully approaches the history of the United States from a very accurate and justified perspective. Our nation's history has been written by the point-of-view of scholars who solely use the triumphs of American presidents, generals, and heroes to tell the victories of a very proud people. Zinn, on the other hand, reveals the struggle, the unknown story of those who were not as fortunate. A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES educates its readers with extraordinary force, compelling even the most conservative reader to consider the assertions made throughout the book. Despite Zinn's radical nature, his scholarly research based on accurate, reliable, and sometimes first-hand resources strongly supports even Zinn's Marxist leanings. Those who accuse Howard Zinn of unattainable idealism, red communism, and liberal nature must take into account just how realistic A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES actually is. What elementary, high school, or even college text includes the exploitation of the poor for the profit of the rich throughout American history, the heinous crimes of U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam war, or the government's conspiracy to undermine antiwar groups during the Cold War? If America is to reap the economic rewards from the world it exploits, Americans might as well accept the responsibility and the truth behind our much celebrated history. The only alternative is that our "IGNORANCE IS BLISS".

    1-0 out of 5 stars There were no "American Masses" in the Colonial Period
    The entire text, which I reviewed for a History class when it was first released, is based upon the false assumption that America was a place of "masses of the people" and that some great eglatarian war similar in structure and purpose as that ongoing in Europe was replanted and flourishing in the colonies.

    For those who believe that communistic ideology has a place in real life and benefits real people, this is a great argument for them and referrence. However, America was not and is not and has not been a "socialist democracy" or a society of equality.

    America, historically, is a country founded on the essence that individuals have a right to express themselves within certain constraints in a manner that is not necessarily popular or preferred.

    This individual liberty is what allows our nation to grow and evolve into a nation that is REACHING but has yet to achieve "equality". Often, we forget that Equality is the Goal not the Fact.

    1-0 out of 5 stars a review
    Although the rest of my AP US history class hates this book, i find that this book is a more appealing way to research "what really happened" and not a bunch of lies that have compounded over the centuries and become the "history" that we teach the children of the "best country"in the world."

    2-0 out of 5 stars Incomplete
    For people who are already very familiar with American history, Zinn provides an interesting alternative view of events. I disagree with many of his premises and most of his conclusions, but he lays out his arguments clearly and provides a starting point for worthwhile debate.

    That said, I would not recommend this book to someone wanting an overview of American history. Zinn jumps around and fails to provide important background information on many of his subjects. Unless the reader is already very familiar with the events being discussed, they will be misled into accepting one man's rather biased and depressing view of America.

    Finally, I know this has been mentioned before, but I found the lack of foot-notes and the scantily compiled bibliography rather inadequate for a 'scholarly' book. ... Read more


    7. Perfect Soldiers : The Hijackers: Who They Were, Why They Did It
    by Terry McDermott
    list price: $25.95
    our price: $17.13
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0060584696
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
    Publisher: HarperCollins
    Sales Rank: 1571
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    The attacks of September 11, 2001, were a calamity on a scale few had imagined possible. In their aftermath, we often exaggerated the men who perpetrated them, shaping hasty and often mistaken reporting into caricatures we could comprehend -- monsters and master criminals equal to the enormity of their crimes. In reality, the 9/11 hijackers and their cohorts were unexceptional men, not much different from countless others. It is this enemy, not the caricature, that we must understand if we are to have a legitimate hope of defeating terrorism.

    The intent of this book is to uncover a better understanding of who the hijackers were and, thereby, why they did what they did. Perfect Soldiers traces these men's lives and the evolution of their beliefs, putting a human face on heinous acts. Most of the hijackers were from apolitical and only mildly religious backgrounds. As they came of age, though, they were shaped by historical tides and their own circumstances, evolving into devout, pious Muslims. In fundamentalist Islam, religion and politics are inseparable; they saw themselves as pilgrims, soldiers of God. In the end, this is a story about the power of belief to remake ordinary men.

    Matching unrivaled research, undertaken in twenty countries on four continents, with a voice that is engaging, authoritative, and thought-provoking, Los Angeles Times correspondent Terry McDermott provides detailed portraits of the main players of the 9/11 plot, including by far the most comprehensive study yet produced of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the plan's mysterious engineer. With brilliant reporting and thoughtful analysis, McDermott brings us a clearer, more nuanced, and in some ways more frightening understanding of the landmark event of our time.

    ... Read more

    Reviews (5)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reporting!Fascinating, Frustrating Reading!
    Defeating one's enemies over the long run requires first understanding them.For too long Americans have been led to believe the 9/11 hijackers were part of a super-organized and managed group of monsters, motivated by hatred of America's freedoms.McDermott's detailed reporting chronicling the lives of several hijackers shows that none of this is true - and thus is must reading.It also shows that the thousands trained in Afgan camps had little or no role leading such activities.

    The book first impresses readers with the desperate poverty throughout much of the Middle East - in fact, young Egyptians with graduate degrees are 32 times more likely to be unemployed as illiterate peasants.This clearly is a breeding ground for trouble.Further symptoms include coverage of the machinations many undergo to emigrate to Europe for "asylum" (eg. generous welfare benefits).Once overseas, McDermott reports how several of the 9/11 leaders, despite having come from relatively non-religious families, became Islam militants - they simply became malleable by Islamic extremists while looking for companions in a foreign culture.

    The first World Trade Center bombing cost about $3,000 and caused damage in the hundreds of millions.Why the WTC - because "many Jews worked there."Reading McDermott's accounting we learn that the operation was more slap-dash than professional, and would have been much worse if the terrorists had more money.

    Ramzi Yousef then went ('95) to the Phillipines intending to blow up several 747's in roughly the same timeframe.This plot failed as a result of a freak fire caused by disposing of chemicals.Unfortunately, this effort also led to Yousef meeting a friend who had taken flight training in the U.S. - and the suggestion for crashing a plane into the CIA.This was relayed to Bin Laden in '96 and a meeting to initiate it in '99 - instead targeted at the WTC.Clearly such a long delay is not indicative of a well-managed organization.

    As for Saudis making up the bulk of the hijackers - McDermott points out that this was because Saudi passports were the least scrutinized for entry into the U.S. (most of the screening was to weed out those coming over for 'economic' reasons - such as in Europe).

    Meanwhile, those chosen as pilots took U.S. pilot training, and despite reports to the FBI, no action was taken.(One agent did note that Moussaoui "was the type guy who might hijack a plane and fly it into the WTC.")As the pilots literally muddled through their training, the FBI failed, for 19 months, to find two of the hijackers known to be in the U.S.

    Then came 9/11.The FAA "no-fly" list doesn't even have the name of the bombing plot in the Phillipines - in fact, it only has 14 names total, with none of the hijackers.(Meanwhile, the State Department's list of "monitor/do-not admit" names totals about 61,000 - and is not available for use.

    Lessons to Learn:1)It takes a very few seemingly ordinary people to create unimaginable havoc; further, the Internet etc. are making it ever easier to do so.2)Hatred of the U.S. derives from our actions - support for Israel, occupation of Saudi Arabia, and undoubtedly also Iraq and possibly Afghanistan.3)High Middle-East unemployment and its very large Islamic population provides a fertile ground for hatred of the U.S.4)The reported time-lag between concepualization and implementation of terrorist actions is so long that little/no comfort should be taken in the lack of U.S. attacks post 9/11.5)The U.S. needs to seriously focus on removing major sources of Islamic irritation.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect Soldiers by Terry McDermott
    The author did an excellent job of researching the activities and the background of the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center. This is an introduction to our new enemy and he is a person both similar and very different from us. In the realm of extremists, he is the common man with all of the incompetencies and blunders in his efforts to cause harm to us, his "sworn enemy".It is this "common man" status, however, that has provided his cloak of protection up to now.Unfortunately, these are people who are easily manipulated through misguided religious fervor and hatred.The combination of anonymity, blind hatred and availability of resources makes for a formidable enemy. Terry McDermott helps us know and understand this enemy.Everyone should read Perfect Soldiers.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Provides First-Rate Narrative of 9/11 Hijackers
    McDermott has written what is so far the definitive narrative of the 9/11 hijackers. He divides his book into three parts: First, he profiles the backgrounds and personality profiles of the hijackers, many who started as regular citizens and slowly drifted into their extremism, often by chance. Second, he explains the political forces in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan that helped to revive Jihad and give power to Osama Bin Laden. Third, he focuses on the actual plot to hijack the planes on 9/11. The reportage is remarkable and provides clues to the hijackers' personalities that have so far not been publicized. What's scary is the effective way the author shows the hijackers often came from privileged backgrounds and then drifted into the fringes of society where, needing direction and identity, they were susceptible to the extremist rhetoric of fundamentalism and violent jihad. Where I might disagree with McDermott is his characterization of the hijackers as "fairly ordinary men." Perhaps I have a different definition of "ordinary" than does McDermott who uses hundreds of salient illustrations to paint these men anything than as ordinary: They are often portrayed as sullen spoiled narcissistic brats and bullies. One of the most prominent of the hijackers, Mohamed Atta, in particular is an extreme personality study in repressed sexuality, narcissism, and sociopathic hatred of others. He cannot smile or enjoy life in the slighest so that when he eats food he mutters to himself how boring and tedious the task of eating is. Everyone who knew him, even people who shared in his beliefs, found him an obnoxious presence. Sullen, brooding, and controlling, he made the hairs on people's neck bristle whenever he entered a room. In spite of his fastidious religious adherence, he takes to the mysterious and disturbing desire to wear eye mascara. I'll let you decided if he is "ordinary" or not. In any event, Atta, like the others, is misogynistic; women are shunned and held in contempt. The total sum picture you get of these hijackers is a bunch of malignant malcontents who need an extreme cause to be a vehicle for their personal frustration and deeply-set anti-social tendencies.

    For an excellent companion book to better understand the types of personalities who get drawn to extreme forms of belief, I highly recommend Eric Hoffer's slim masterpiece The True Believer.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wow
    Wow. The reporting here is intense, but "Perfect Soldiers" doesn't read like some stretched-out newspaper feature or a clip file---the writing is clear and crafted, the story well-told and well-paced. McDermott is a reporter's reporter, but more than that: he's gone out, mastered it all, and comes back now to tell us what is good and true and what is BS. Characters and places mean something here, and what McDermott has found is often incredibly shocking and sometimes unnervingly weird. I'm very glad I read this book, and I look forward to reading it again.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Biographies
    The accounts of the hijacker's lives show a disturbing banality.For figures that until their death lived such illusive and insignificant lives the biographies are superbly detailed and comprehensive.

    The style of writing is informative and generally fair and balanced given the nature of the subjects.It is probably the clearest account of the events leading to 9/11 that has been written.

    Two minor criticisms:Every major religion has its share of extremists. Islam is no exception.The book implies a more general malaise than is probably deserved.All major religions have their high and low points: prior to the renaissance, Arabic scholars preserved much of previous eastern and western philosophy, while making significant advances in algebra, medicine and navigation.

    The description of the countries and places in which much of the plotting occurs sometimes lacks context (but not accuracy).E.g., although the authors' description of Cairo is superb, but as far as cities go, it surpasses most of the developing world, both for safety and quality of life.Also, to state that German bureaucracy conducted minimal monitoring of Islamic extremists is true; but at the time the US wasn't doing such a great job itself.

    Overall this is a superbly written book that is very readable.It appears to be very well researched and is an excellent set of biographies. ... Read more


    8. The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, 12th Edition
    by Thomas Bailey, David Kennedy
    list price: $105.16
    our price: $105.16
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 061810349X
    Catlog: Book (2001-07-01)
    Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
    Sales Rank: 133072
    Average Customer Review: 3.44 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Supported by colorful anecdotes, first-person quotations, and its trademark wit, The American Pageant is one of the most readable, popular, and effective American history textbooks available.

    Pedagogy includes chapter-ending chronologies, numerous interesting quotes from historical figures, and incisive part openers that contextualize six major periods in American history. The Appendix includes "Suggested Readings" for every chapter, an annotated Constitution of the United States with page references, and an extensive statistical profile of the United States.

    ... Read more

    Reviews (55)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Beats the heck out of Howard Zinn
    This book handles its subject very well. It was the basic text for my 11th Grade history course, where it provided a good balance of mildly amusing wit and genuinely useful information.

    The main advantage of "The American Pageant" is that the author is not trying to push a major political agenda. It lacks the patriotic drivel for which "traditional" history texts are often denounced. However, it also lacks the negative, depressing Socialist philosophy which makes Zinn's "People's History of the United States" so difficult to read.

    The end result is a history text which does a history text's job: telling what happened. The book covers politics, economics, and major events in a style which is sometimes amusing and usually informative. Although not overly political, it also pays due attention to such important issues as race and gender.

    Not a particularly "specialized" book, but an excellent survey text.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Kinda sucks
    No, I'm not some ultraconservative saying that this book has a huge leftist bent, because it doesn't. For example, while in the final chapters it focuses more on the negative impacts of Reagan's economic program than the positive ones, it also talks about how the idea of New World discoverers simply being savage murderers of perfectly innocent, starry-eyed Indians is an exaggeration - so, while the former could be described as a leftist bent, the latter could be described as a rightist bent. But anyway, the true reason this book is obnoxious is because...well...it's obnoxious! Cheesy phrases like "oil, the black milk of the world's economy" abound, and the book seems to obsessively focus on issues such as women's rights, almost like they're required by law to include information about minorities and women every X pages. I'm not saying that white men own the history of America, but it could've flowed better.

    This book is also anything but objective, but the biases seem to go both ways at times.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Worst. Book. Ever.
    I may not be able to write all I can about how this book is really bad but the book, Lies My Teacher Told Me : Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong -- by James W. Loewen does a really good job with it. I just can't believe some people found this book ok to read. I had this book in school and I absolutely hated it.

    This book personifies America A LOT for example on page 4 "The American continents were slow to yield their virginity." They uses a lot of metphors and flowery language.

    Everything is very biased. He refered to the English as Anglo-Saxans. Just like Americans are Christian. (note the sarcasm)

    The author likes to ignore some facts about history, like the existance of the Native Americans and believe me there was a LOT and their massacre is comparable to what happen to the Jews--- but more brutal. Of course I didn't learn that from this book. This book takes the existance of the Native Americans very lightly and passively.
    -Page 4 "The American republic, which is still relatively young, was from the outset singularly favored. It started from scratch on a vast and virgin continent, which was so sparsely peopled by Indians that they could be eliminated or pushed aside."
    -Page 10 "The English settlers, disagreeable though the thought may be, were more successful than the Spaniards in kiling off the Indians."
    -Page 13 "The main attraction was hoped-for gold, although there was some desire to convert the heathen Indians to Christianity and to find a passage through America to the Indies."

    Once again there's more that is wrong with this book. Just that I have to go to sleep now. But if you like flowerly language, a biased opinion on history, and the glorification of America then go ahead. I don't know about you but I just can't learn history like that, its a terrible way to try to improve our country if we don't learn the flaws or the wrong things that our country does.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The best textbook I ever read
    I'm 32 now and this was my AP US History book in high school. I'm thinking about buying it and reading it again, as a refresher and a pleasure. The satirical quips made it a joy the first time around, and I still remember charming phrases like "Nebrascals" and Martin van Buren being a "veritable steam engine in breeches." I remember about nothing from the rest of my high school and college textbooks. The authors find their subject grand, tragic and humorous, and that's the way they present it. Even if you think the style is inappropriate, you remember what is said. Perhaps it's even gotten under your skin enough for you to spout about it online for fifteen minutes instead of cracking open a bag of Doritos and firing up the Playstation. I'd say that's a colossal achievement when it comes to high school textbooks. And in case you're concerned that the relevent facts are missing, I got a 5 on my AP test.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Not as bad as they say it is...
    I'm using this book for my A.P. US History class. Some may complain about the flowery prose, but I absolutely love it. The authors' use of metaphors and other forms of figurative language makes it a joy to read. Is it leftist? I don't think so; for the most part, the authors present facts quite objectively. However, I think the authors are just a bit too obsessed with "women's issues." (It's no surprise: one of the authors teaches "gender and working class issues" at Harvard.) Don't get me wrong, I am a woman myself (though not a feminist), and I appreciate the fact that women are now integrated into public life, but it begins to get annoying when I am constantly reminded that women were perpetually chained to the kitchen but were just on the fringe of tasting the sweet fruits of "liberation." Excuse me, but I personally don't think that a woman needs a paycheck to improve her sense of self. I certainly don't. And the authors seem to be annoyed that women went right back into the home after both world wars. Nonetheless, the first few chapters, in which the authors chronicle America's gradual drift towards revolution, is just exciting, full of almost patriotic fervor. They clearly love the subject, and their enthusiasm shows. And besides, there is a fascinating discussion about the roots of modern conservatism near the end of the book. Overall, a fine textbook. ... Read more


    9. Assassination Vacation
    by Sarah Vowell
    list price: $21.00
    our price: $14.28
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0743260031
    Catlog: Book (2005-03-29)
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster
    Sales Rank: 250
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Sarah Vowell exposes the glorious conundrumsof American history and culture with wit, probity, and an irreverent sense of humor. With Assassination Vacation, she takes us on a road trip like no other -- a journey to the pit stops of American political murder and through the myriad ways they have been used for fun and profit, for political and cultural advantage.

    From Buffalo to Alaska, Washington to the Dry Tortugas, Vowell visits locations immortalized and influenced by the spilling of politically important blood, reporting as she goes with her trademark blend of wisecracking humor, remarkable honesty, and thought-provoking criticism. We learn about the jinx that was Robert Todd Lincoln (present at the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley) and witness the politicking that went into the making of the Lincoln Memorial. The resulting narrative is much more than an entertaining and informative travelogue -- it is the disturbing and fascinating story of how American death has been manipulated by popular culture, including literature, architecture, sculpture, and -- the author's favorite -- historical tourism. Though the themes of loss and violence are explored and we make detours to see how the Republican Party became the Republican Party, there are all kinds of lighter diversions along the way into the lives of the three presidents and their assassins, including mummies, show tunes, mean-spirited totem poles, and a nineteenth-century biblical sex cult. ... Read more

    Reviews (25)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wierd but Funny - A Great Way to do History
    This book is just a touch wierd. Who would take a vacation with the specific intent of going to see where the presidents got shot?

    OK, I'll admit having visited the Texas Book Depository building in Dallas. But that was because of the publicity that was high at the time regarding who actually shot him. An aside -- anyone who has ever gone rifle shooting can look out the window he used and will think, "I could have made that shot."

    Still, her dry wit can't help from coming through, "Going to Ford's Theatre to watch the play is like going to Hooters for the food." She makes the study of history come alive much better than the dry history books I remember from school.

    As now the author of five books, television appearances on several shows, and the voice of Teenage superhero Violet Parr in "The Incredibles," Ms. Vowell is a budding great voice in American literature.

    1-0 out of 5 stars For Presidential History Geeks Only
    I like Sarah Vowell's personality and normally enjoy reading her books and listening to her on This American Life.Plus she kicked ass in The Incredibles.

    I found this book really dull reading though. Unless you, like Sarah, are obsessed with the tiny details of President Garfield's presidency (and other subjects equally dry) you may be as bored as I was. She herself keeps saying how the companions she brings along on her research trips are bored to tears by the subject matter.

    I look forward to her next book and a return to more interesting territory.

    5-0 out of 5 stars It's No Coincidence...
    This book is great! The wit and humor of Vowell's essays, collected in Take the Cannoli and The Partly Cloudy Patriot, translate well to this more focused tale of her visits to sites related to presidential assassinations. Filled with Vowell's quirky observations and animated by the rapid-fire connections her mind makes, Assassination Vacation is a page-turner AND a history lesson at the same time. Vowell's deep appreciation of and enthusiasm for her subject matter is infectious. Highly recommended, especially if you're planning a trip that includes visits to historic sites. Vowell's viewpoint will give you a new way of enjoying them that will definitely enhance your experience!

    5-0 out of 5 stars quirky history tour
    Very informative, hilarious and even moving at times. One other reviewer mentioned Vowell's Bush bashing, but they should read or listen to more than a snippet. The "current president" only pops up a couple of times and briefly. The rest of the book is for the most part a quirky nonpartisan journey through American political history. Vowell's narration in the audiobook abridgement is broken up with some interesting guest voices. Stephen King as Abraham Lincoln for instance.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Charming, Witty and Funny
    I just, today, discovered Sarah Vowell's work. It is a wonderful treat. She looks at history in an amazingly honest way. Her history is never boring, of course. I was fortunate to see Sarah do an author presentation on C-Span2 BookTV.

    She presents history in a quirky, honest and humorous way. This book is about the history of the people and events surrounding the assassintions of Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley. You will learn historical details that you never knew or even thought that you wanted to know. You will be very pleased with Sarah's look into history. ... Read more


    10. Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx Is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City
    by Jonathan Mahler
    list price: $25.00
    our price: $16.50
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0374175284
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-15)
    Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
    Sales Rank: 1431
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    New York City in 1977 was in the middle of wild upheaval on all fronts, from the hunt for the Son of Sam killer and the citywide blackout to a brutal mayor's race and the rise of punk rock and the zenith of disco. In Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning, journalist Jonathan Mahler revisits all those storylines through another drama, which grabbed tabloid headlines all summer long: the outrageous--and pennant-winning--New York Yankees. The Yankees weren't the greatest baseball team ever assembled--they weren't even the greatest of the era (the talent-laden Cincinnati Reds were superior player for player). But no modern team has earned more type than the "Bronx Zoo" Yanks of the late '70s, thanks in no small part to such characters as meddling owner George Steinbrenner, firebrand manager Billy Martin, and flashy slugger Reggie Jackson.

    But what more is there to say about a ball club, even one as stormy and successful as the '77 Yanks? Mahler wisely strays out of the dugout and into the chaotic city to give his chronicle breadth and shape. Mahler deftly brings together a host of characters and developments--from doomed old-school catcher Thurman Munson to congressional hellraiser Bella Abzug, from media kingpin Rupert Murdoch to battling politicos Ed Koch and Mario Cuomo, from downtown punks to the glittery decadence of Studio 54. The result is a lively read that will entertain readers who wouldn't know an RBI from CBGB. --Steven Stolder ... Read more

    Reviews (9)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Takes one back
    I lived just outside of NYC, in New Jersey, during this summer of 1977, and reading Mahler's book was like traveling back in time.He captures the weirdness of the Yankee's season perfectly, in which one never quite knew whether Billy Martin was going to implode or not.He captures the tension of the blackout-related looting and the fear surrounding the serial-killings of Son of Sam.Looking back from this vantage point, it's somewhat amazing how far back from the brink NYC has come.Mahler chronicles the events of that time extremely well, and is a wonderful storyteller.My only question is:to what end?If he sees that year as a turning point, he was too subtle in discussing that significance.The takeaway is that he simply saw it as an interesting year, with large events occurring simultaneously, with no relation to one another, and little relationship to the outside world as a whole.If you were not there to witness -- or read about -- these events, you might say, "Interesting, but so what?"What was missing from the end of this book -- which so many books similar to this have -- is a "where-are-they-now" section.A coda such as that may have answered the question as to why these events and stories were significant and why we should care about them.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Big '77
    This book is for everyone who grew up in New York, survived the City's dark ages, graduated Jamaica High School, rode the 1 train to Columbia University, loved (or hated) the Yankees, remembered the blackout and the looting, didn't sit in parked cars because of the Son of Sam (first called the ".44 caliber killer"), danced to the "hustle" and the "walk," saw Star Wars fifteen times, tried to get into Studio 54, avoided 42nd Street, and wondered how the City didn't sink into the East River. Those were the good old days. I love this town, and The Big '77.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A year that stunned New York
    Jonathan Mahler's new book, "Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx Is Burning" is a terrific accomplishment that weaves together many fractured elements which helped to contribute to a year that was quite unlike most other years in New York City. It was, by and large, a depressing time for New York but the enormous boost New Yorkers received by the Yankees' World Series victory that October, coupled with a change in mayors shortly thereafter, began to lift the city out of the doldrums. As one who remembers New York in 1977 very well, Mahler has reminded us of a place which seems light years away from the present. It's a walk down memory lane for some of us.

    "The Bronx is Burning" is told in three parts and the least effective part is the first. Necessarily introductory, Mahler's narrative style in Part One never gains much traction. Betweenthe political landscape of the early part of the year and the problematic Yankees, the author doesn't quite bounce back and forth so much as he diarizes. If there is tension to be found in what's to come, it's not found here. Reggie Jackson's ego is certainly a reportable topic but Mahler spends far too much time on him. It's filler that doesn't quite sate. Mahler, however, has plenty of good stuff to come. With Part Two he begins to build a story of intense proportion. From this point on, I couldn't put down the book. He begins by giving us an account, rich in detail, about the first hour of the summer blackout and the hapless Con Edison systems operator who was at the heart of it. Continuing on through the night's ensuing riots, "The Bronx Is Burning" begins to breathe new life. From here the links in the book become clearer. As the events of July, August and September unfold, the city of New York is forced to take a sharper look at itself and there is no better focal point than the upcoming Democratic primary and its characters from central casting. Mahler brilliantly connects the dots at the same time adding an exceptionally good section about the murderer known as the "Son of Sam", who terrorized the city for over a year. The author's final chapters regarding the Yankees' championship are told with clarity and passion.

    It's hard to remember that all of these events happened in one calendar year but maybe we were so benumbed by those happenings that we tended to overlook their confluence. Jonathan Mahler has brought them all together in "Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx is Burning" and has done so in a way that puts that year back in some of our minds and gives a great account to those who were not yet around to experience it.

    1-0 out of 5 stars I'm a huge Yankee fan.
    I'm a huge Yankee fan and I read everything about them.I had high hopes for this book; the reviews I saw were good.But it was a major disappointment. Mahler can't keep his political leanings out of the story (please tell me what his antipathy to neoconservatives has to do with 1977) and that spoils it for me.
    If I want Ann Coulter or Al Franken, I'll buy their books.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Highly Addictive -- A Home Run
    Jonathan Mahler has hit a home run with this excellent examination of New York City politics, baseball and social life in 1977.The dual narrative focuses primarily on the titanic, four-way struggle for Gracie Mansion involving Koch, Cuomo, the incumbent Abe Beame and Bella Abzug, as well as the incendiary Steinbrenner-Martin-Jackson triangle of animus in the Bronx.

    The sweltering summer of 1977 also featured the Son of Sam serial murders and power-failure-induced rioting - the City's worst civic disorder since the Civil War - and Mahler skillfully weaves these compelling events into a captivating, past-faced narrative.Ground-zero of the rioting was the Bushwick section of Brooklyn - less than a decade before a stable, working class neighborhood - and Mahler provides a vivid portrait of the chaotic mayhem that took hold there (as well as in other poor communities) when the lights went out on July 13.

    Mahler also shows how the ghetto rioting transformed the Mayoral race.In mid summer, Ed Koch, then a relatively low profile Congressman, was fourth in the polls, mired in the low single digits. However, the erstwhile Greenwich Village liberal recognized that New Yorkers were ripe for a stern, law-and-order message. In particular, Koch's embrace of capital punishment and his get-tough policies generally found resonance with an electorate that had grown weary of the culture of lawlessness that increasingly pervaded their lives.The long-shot candidate - David Garth, his campaign guru, placed Koch's odds at no better than 40 to 1 - rode voter outrage to a first-place finish in the Democratic primary, and after besting Cuomo in a runoff, to City Hall.

    Meanwhile, up in the Bronx, the season-long hostilities between the egocentric Reggie Jackson and his combative manager flared famously in an ugly confrontation in the visitor's dugout at Fenway Park.Steinbrenner sided with his million-dollar superstar (Mahler calls Jackson New York's first black superstar; I'm not so sure), the fans overwhelmingly with the pugnacious Martin.Despite the team's success, the melodrama off the field eclipsed the drama on the field for much of the season - until Jackson's prodigious, three-homer performance in the last game of the World Series.Mr. October's Ruthian feat helped the Yanks capture their first world championship in 12 years and set everything right - at least until next season.

    I am a compulsive reader, but found this book especially addictive.I think you will, too. ... Read more


    11. Soldiers and Slaves : American POWs Trapped by the Nazis' Final Gamble
    by Roger Cohen
    list price: $25.95
    our price: $17.13
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 037541410X
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-26)
    Publisher: Knopf
    Sales Rank: 2039
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (3)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Holocaust Did Happen to Our Boys Too!
    I had first heard of Berga and the 350 American GI's - Jewish - but in many cases not, who were herded by the Nazis into the Berga camp on a PBS special last year - and my reaction was shock, anger, but even admiration - NOT for the Nazis but for that gallant German-American Captain who not only defied the Gestapo by refusing to turn over his Jewish personnel but tried to escape several times.

    There have been stories - even other books written about Jewish-Americans, GIs but also in some cases civilians who were swept into the Third Reich by Hitler's advancing armies.This is the first history of how Americans faced firsthand the Holocaust by a mainstream publisher. While men like Erwin Rommel chose not to differentiate between Jews and Non-Jewish POWs; there were others, including those involved in the Bulge operation who chose to do so. The 350 prisoners at Berga were captured at the Bulge, where the Nazis were known to have committed atrocities en masse - the Malmedy Massacre against unarmed American POWs - and Belgian civilians nearby.

    While more fortunate than their compatriots butchered by the SS Monster Peiper at the Malmedy crossroads, at least 70 of the Americans - Jews and Non-Jews alike, perished from starvation, exposure - and execution - at the Berga camp. The Americans too, came face-to-face with the horror of Hitler's extermination program, as they were placed in close promixity to starved, slaved Russian and Polish Jews who were also at Berga.

    When the survivors were liberated they were told to keep silent, and worse, Berga ended up in the Soviet zone - and notwithstanding the Soviet's intense hatred of the Nazis - they chose NOT to expose what happened at Berga - after all, to the Russians they were only ZHIDS - and the Russkies too wanted the former Nazis on board with them to fight us in the Cold War. That is NO excuse however,for our government, especially in the face of Eisenhower's hatred of Nazism, to cover over the atrocities committed against AMERICAN GIs at Berga.

    Roger Cohen has given us a history that while is appalling - is one that needs wide-exposure, as our GREATEST GENERATION is dying out and anti-Semitism is again rearing its ugly head. The stories of the brave Captain aforementioned; and of the individual Americans who stood up to the bestality of Nazism deserves to be placed in every American school and library.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Soldiers and Slaves
    Soldiers and Slaves by Roger Cohen is the story of 350 Americans, captured during the Battle of the Bulge, who end up in a Nazi slave labor camp.A major portion of this group were Jewish.The prisoners were sent from a Stalag, where the Jewish prisoners were separated from their fellow POWs.How these men were treated at Berga was a travesty.What was a greater travesty however was how the Americans allowed those who perpetrated these heinous acts to get away with what, considering how they treated their prisoners, amounted to nothing more than a slap on the wrist.Cold war concerns got in the way of justice.The men who were able to survive the camp and the horrific death march after they were forced from the camp by their Nazi guards were heroes in every sense of the word.Those who are alive today still suffer both physically and emotionally as a result of their experiences.Recently, another book on the same subject was published.Although that book was good, this one is a much more interesting read and I recommend it to any WWII buff.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Little Know Incident in a Horrific War
    When the Germans attacked in what is now known as the Battle of the Bulge they captured more American soldiers than any other battle. Most of these captured solders were treated with at least some respect and with some consideration of the rules set forth by the Geneva Convention.

    During this time however, some 350 soldiers were specially selected by the Nazi's as being Jewish, some by the "H" (Hebrew) on their dog tags, some just by looking Jewish to the Germans. These unfortunate captives were sent to a camp at Berga and forced to work at digging tunnels that were to hold a synthetic fuel factory. More than 70 of then died. Those that still lived have the appearance we've come to expect from the German camps, rail thin starvation.

    This is a little known incident in a horrific war. It is perhaps made worse because of the disappearance of Berga into the Eastern zone, the Cold War that followed. Maybe it was forgotten simply because it was too small. That is not to say that any life isn't important, but with perhaps 50 million killed.... ... Read more


    12. The Oxford Companion to United States History
    by Paul S. Boyer, Melvyn Dubofsky, Eric H. Monkkonen, Ronald L. Numbers, David M. Oshinsky, Emily S. Rosenberg
    list price: $75.00
    our price: $60.75
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0195082095
    Catlog: Book (2001-03-01)
    Publisher: Oxford University Press
    Sales Rank: 58936
    Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    From abortion to "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias, Abrams vs. United States tothe Zenger trial, and abstract impressionism to Dr. Marie Zakrzewska, The Oxford Companion to United States History is an encyclopedic overview covering the pre-Columbian era to the election of George W. Bush in 2000.

    The Companion examines the notable men and women and major events in U.S. history, such as wars or the Depression, as well as ideas and ideologies, technological innovations and economic developments, and long-term processes such as immigration and urbanization. Each entry is written by an authority on the subject, thoroughly cross-referenced in the 78-page index, and arranged alphabetically for easy reference. The alphabetic organization makes for some strange (or amusing) combinations ofpeople on the same page: Billy Graham and Martha Graham; "Mother" Jones andMichael Jordan; Persian Gulf War and Petroleum Industry; Income Tax, Federal,and Indentured Servitude.

    A browser's delight, but full of solid scholarship, The Oxford Companion to United States History deserves the treatment its editors recommend--as "a work to be thumbed and worn out, not a book to be put behind glass on a shelf!" Absolutely essential for the well-stocked history library. --Sunny Delaney ... Read more

    Reviews (3)

    2-0 out of 5 stars Fails as a Guide to American History
    Students and history buffs need a good, comprehensive volume on the significant people, events, movements and changes in the United States over the course of its history. This volume, from the leading publisher of reference books in the English language, fails and disappoints with regard to these goals. This Oxford Companion tries to be the United States History of Everything, as a result it misses key aspects of political history and what it does cover is often inadequate and incomplete.

    The Companion tries to cover too many aspects of cultural history and its icons. As a result it sacrifices information on many important political and public figures. We get biographies of Michael Jordan and Marilyn Monroe but no separate bios of George Mason, William Borah, Hiram Johnson, Henry Cabot Lodge, Tom Watson, Joseph Cannon, Thomas Dewey, Nelson Rockefeller, Clarence Darrow, Sam Rayburn, Jesse Jackson -- and the list goes on and on. When they are covered it is often in snipets in subject area articles, which does not give a complete overview of their public careers.

    What it does cover in cultural and intellectual history is often incomplete. The Companion has separate artices on the history of the blues, jazz and a weak article on rural country and folk music, but absolutely nothing on bluegrass or commercial country music and its pioneers. The index doesn't even mention the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Bill Monroe or Hank Williams. Yet country music far exceeds both the blues and jazz in popularity in terms of its fan base and are certainly deserving popular art forms for inclusion.

    The selection of significant figures for separate biographies is often strange and arbitrary. The Companion offers a bio of physicist Eugene Wigner but not of Hans Bethe or Richard Feynman, like Wigner both Nobel Prize winners. Feynman is considered by many to be the most important theoretical physicist of the second half of the 20th century. This arbitrariness in selecting subjects for biographies can be repeated in many different subject areas.

    The Companion contains 26 black and white maps, often of poor resolution, and follows the same arbitrary editing in terms of subject matter. You get a map of the properties of U.S. Steel, but no map on how the United States looked at the end of the Revolution or after the Louisiana Purchase, though there is a barely readable map of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. No reference tables and charts are included to tell the reader Presidential election results, who were the Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, or who occupied important positions in Congress or the military over the course of American history.

    On the positive side there are many good articles here on political and social history. However the reader must use this book carefully and supplement it with other Oxford Companions and reference books. At $... I would examine this book in a library before considering a purchase.

    5-0 out of 5 stars a vital and reliable companion to u.s. history today
    This volume contains entries that deal with concepts, events, persons, and movements in u.s. history. The length of the entries is appropriate to the topic considered. In addition, the entires both inform the reader with up-to-date information and indicate how revisionist historians have resahped opionions or refocused the discipline. The entries are clearly written and eminently readable. They are persuasive in thier opionions, yet respectful of other stances. The cross references are helpful and ample. The same obtains for the bibliographies. The Oxford Companion to U.S. History far surpasses some other contemporary dictionaries in U.S. history. Its articles are treated in more depth and greater nuances. The entries in the other dictionaries are too short and far too superficial. I would highly recommend this for people involved in serious historical study and research. The price, especially the discounted one offered by amazon.com, is well worth the investment for scholars,libraries, and families.

    5-0 out of 5 stars excellent reference material
    This book is a must have for anyone with an interest in American History. It gives a clear, concise explanation on most important aspects of the United States history and the history of the lands that would eventually become the United States. The most unique aspect of this book is that, unlike a school textbook, it explains a topics role throughout the history of the United States in on section. In other words, if you looked up Civil Rights, you would find a history of Civil Rights in America from the colonial period to present. All the background information you would need would be in one place, not scattered throughout the book. This is beneficial for teachers who need to quickly find some basic information to answer a student's question, or for a student who needs to quickly brush up on a topic. This is a work that I will definetly use for years to come. ... Read more


    13. The American People, Vol. 2, Chapters 16-31: Creating a Nation and a Society, Sixth Edition
    by Gary B. Nash, Julie Roy Jeffrey, John R. Howe, Peter J. Frederick, Allen F. Davis, Allan M. Winkler
    list price: $86.67
    our price: $86.67
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0321125266
    Catlog: Book (2003-03-17)
    Publisher: Longman
    Sales Rank: 108197
    Average Customer Review: 2.67 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Emphasizing social history, especially as it applies to discussions of race, class, and gender, The American People, 5/e presents the lives and experiences of all Americans--all national origins and cultural backgrounds, at all levels of society, and in all regions of the country. The narrative integrates discussion of public events such as presidential elections, wars, and reform movements with the private stories of ordinary Americans who participated in and responded to these events. As it unfolds the drama of American history, The American People highlights the political, social, economic, technological, religious, cultural, and intellectual events that have shaped American society. Appropriate for anyone with an interest in American history and the Social history of the United States. Previous ISBNs: 0-673-98577-6 ... Read more

    Reviews (9)

    1-0 out of 5 stars very left wing bias
    dont waste your time with this guy. I don't know where he gets his info. My son has one of Mr. Nash's textbooks for history and I have never seen so much left wing bias, especially in a textbook.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Do your own research
    It's amazing to me to read reviews of people who tout this book as "liberal propaganda" when it merely tells the truth about history. If you wanted the whitewashed version of history we were taught in high school, where Christopher Columbus had pure motives in the new world and didn't rape or enslave the native population, where the Native Americans were savages who were domesticated by the pilgrims who so graciously shared a Thanksgiving feast with them, where Woodrow Wilson's racism and hatred of women isn't mentioned...why did you bother taking a college history course, or bother going to college for that matter, at all? Pull your heads out of the sand! If you truly believe this book is socialist propaganda, I recommend you start doing your own research of America's past without using any high school or college textbook as a source of information - you'll find that this particular textbook has one of the truest pictures of American history available.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Finally, a balanced history text
    Some of the reviews posted here are just bizarre - did they read the book? Yes, the book writes minority groups and women into the story - where they belong (gay Americans are not mentioned at all in the pre-Civil War volume; in the full edition they are not mentioned until the 1970s gay rights movement!). The book discusses farmers, urban artisans, and everybody else in early America. It also does NOT ignore the traditional subjects of history - politics, leaders, diplomacy, economic development. Events and dates? of course, with timelines at the end of each chapter. Good maps. The only flaw is that it tries to work too much material in, gets too dense. Recommended.

    2-0 out of 5 stars A bastion of liberal propaganda
    I'm a high school junior in NJ, and I have to say that I have never met a single balanced history textbook throughout my education. "From the back cover: Emphasizing social history, especially as it applies to discussions of race, class, and gender..." And you wonder why all teenagers nowadays are all liberal Bush-haters, when they've been brainwashed by such biased history. Oh, conservatives are bad, right-wings are evil, this book preaches. And let's spend 10 chapters on Native Americans, 10 chapters on women, 10 chapters on slaves. Unbelievable.

    1-0 out of 5 stars So, this was history?
    This book was horrible. I was forced to use it in a mandatory brainwash...er, history course for school. The book essentially goes like this:

    We settled Massachusetts, and the indians, blacks, gays and women were persecuted.

    Then, we started a westward expansion which led to persecution for indians, blacks, gays, and women.

    During the revolutionary war some white guys fought or something, but it is important to note that the indians, blacks, gays...

    This book is a proselyting tool, a transparent piece of propaganda. I didn't convert. ... Read more


    14. 109 East Palace : Robert Oppenheimer and the Men and Women Who Followed Him to the Secret City of Los Alamos
    by Jennet Conant
    list price: $26.00
    our price: $17.16
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0743250079
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster
    Sales Rank: 951731
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    15. 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


    16. The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History
    by Thomas E. Woods Jr.
    list price: $19.95
    our price: $13.97
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0895260476
    Catlog: Book (2004-12)
    Publisher: Regnery Publishing, Inc.
    Sales Rank: 13
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    Book Description

    Almost everything--you know about American history is wrong, because most textbooks and popular history books are written by left-wing academic historians who treat their biases as fact.But fear not, Professor Thomas Woods has written the perfect antidote.This delightful book--funny and inviting, but factually sound-shatters the myths about American history and seperates fact from fiction. ... Read more


    17. Night
    by Elie Wiesel, Stella Rodway, Francois Mauriac
    list price: $5.99
    our price: $5.39
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0553272535
    Catlog: Book (1982-04-01)
    Publisher: Bantam
    Sales Rank: 1663
    Average Customer Review: 4.37 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel's wrenching attempt to find meaning in the horror of the Holocaust is technically a novel, but it's based so closely on his own experiences in Birkenau, Auschwitz, and Buchenwald that it's generally--and not inaccurately--read as an autobiography. Like Wiesel himself, the protagonist of Night is a scholarly, pious teenager racked with guilt at having survived the genocidal campaign that consumed his family. His memories of the nightmare world of the death camps present him with an intolerable question: how can the God he once so fervently believed in have allowed these monstrous events to occur? There are no easy answers in this harrowing book, which probes life's essential riddles with the lucid anguish only great literature achieves. It marks the crucial first step in Wiesel's lifelong project to bear witness for those who died. ... Read more

    Reviews (744)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Lifechanging experience
    Night, by Elie Weisel, is a book different than any other I have read. Many opinions about history, and even life in some cases changed while reading Night. For a very long time I believed that Josef Stalin was the most evil man to live in the twentieth century. After reading Night I believe that Hitler and his relentless "fight" to exterminate Hebrews from the face of the planet is the most evil act of hate ever. Elie Weisel is a 12 year old boy living in the town of Sighet. Untouched by Nazis until about 1942, Elie begins his long tour of numerous concentration camps throughout Europe. This book is about the lengths a human will go through to survive. Night is about love, hope, determination, and the spirit of humanity to survive, forgive, and to inform us, the readers, that we must never forget the lives lost during the years of Nazi occupied Germany. We must never forget how 12 million people just like you and I were executed because of differences. Night is a book that should eventually be read by all high school students. I am still humbled by Night.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Non-Stop Reading for the Mind and Soul
    Reading Night by Elie Wiesel began as a simple two-day assignment for my freshman English class. At first glance, I expected this quick read to be simply one more trite account to the terrible atrocities committed during wwii Germany. But after getting only 15 pages into the storyline, I found myself immersed in the detail, precision, and striking ability with which Wiesel describes his own adolescent struggle. At the age of only 15, he was faced with the daunting task of realizing that not everyone is good deep down inside. As his family is herded from its town of Sighet into trains, and then unkonwingly into concentration camps, the universal good in man which young Eliezer had once believed was stripped from his soul. This emotional weekend read is capable of being devoured all in one sitting. However, while reading this book in our living rooms or at the beach, we must remember what our fellow men and women around the world have been through. As readers, we should take time to celebrate the courage and hope that men like Elie Wiesel have possessed. Without this strong passion for life our world would be so much different than it is today. The few hours we spend reading this book are special. But they are nothing compared to the days, months, and years that thousands of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and slavs spent in concentration camps. If you have ever felt low or alone, read Night, and you will see just how lucky you are to be able to breathe, to eat, to love, to feel, to even be alive.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Horrifying Account of the Holocaust
    Night is the story of Elie Wiesel's experience in the German concentration camp Auschwitz during World War II. He calls it a "nightmare-" this is an understatement. One can wake up from a nightmare. The horror Wiesel lived had no outlet.

    A Jew from Transylvania, Wiesel grew up with a strong religious background. He found an unlikely teacher in a man named "Moshe the Beadle." Moshe taught his pupil that man could not understand God's answers to man's questions; man could only ask God the right questions. Would Elie's time in Auschwitz destroy his budding faith? The book explores faith in a searing way. A must read for all. Ages 16 and up.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Searching for Themes in Night
    Night is a story about a young boy's life during the Holocaust. He uses a different name in the story, Eliezer. He comes from a highly Orthodox Jewish family, and they observed the Jewish traditions. His father, Shlomo, a shopkeeper, was very involved with the Jewish community, which was confined to the Jewish section of town, called the shtetl.
    In 1944, the Jews of Hungary were relatively unaffected by the catastrophe that was destroying the Jewish communities of Europe in spite of the infamous Nuremberg Laws of 1935-designed to dehumanize German Jews and subject them to violence and prejudice. The Holocaust itself did not reach Hungary until 1944. In Wiesel's native Sighet, the disaster was even worse: of the 15,000 Jews in prewar Sighet, only about fifty families survived the Holocaust. In May of 1944, when Wiesel was fifteen, his family and many inhabitants of the Sighet shtetl were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. The largest and deadliest of the camps, Auschwitz was the site of more than 1,300,000 Jewish deaths. Wiesel's father, mother, and little sister all died in the Holocaust. Wiesel himself survived and immigrated to France. His story is a horror story that comes to life when students in high school read this novel. Even though many students have not witnessed or participated in such horror, they relate to the character because Wiesel is their age. They cannot believe someone went through the nightmare he did at their age.

    This book focuses on many themes: conflict, silence, inhumanity to others, and father/son bonding. We see many, too many, conflicts this young man faces. Eliezer struggles with his faith throughout the story. He believes that God is everywhere, and he can't understand how God could let this happen, especially as Eliezer faces conflict everyday in the concentration camp. He also learns silence means. He says he says it is God's silence that he doesn't understand. He feels that God's silence demonstrates the absence of divine compassion. Another silence that drive confuses Eliezer is the silence of the victims. He cannot understand why they don't fight back, especially with the inhumanity that is forced upon them. It is because of this inhumanity that he loses faith, not only in God but also in men. He tells how at the beginning, the Germans were "distant but friendly." However, when they reach the camps, the soldiers are transformed from men to monsters. As part of this inhumanity and lack of faith is the instances when a son betrays his father. He sees this several times and can't comprehend how a son, in order to save his own life, betrays his father. Luckily for Eliezer's father, Eliezer's love and bond is stronger than self-preservation.
    How can students relate to this story when they haven't experienced anything near what Wiesel did. Maybe they haven't experienced these acts, but they have experienced conflict, silence, inhumanity, and bonding, and if a teacher focuses on these themes, the students will relate.
    Works Cited:
    Sparknotes.com. http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/night/themes.html

    5-0 out of 5 stars Overpowering and Humbling....
    l am a Christian and was absolutely stunned by this book. To read -and more importantly to re-read and reflect - about the trials and tribulations of a devoted Jewish family as they went from a loving, religious/spiritual home to a ghetto, then to the railroad yards, then to a Concentration Camp...is to be transported to a nightmarish journey and world that must never be taken for granted, that must be understood deeply, and which must be respected with our hearts more than with our minds.

    To criticize any victim of the Holocaust for doubting or questioning their G-d is to live in a fantasy world. Unless one has lived through the horror and degradations of the Holocaust, he should be quiet. As for me, whenever l see or think of the child-victims and their parents of those terrible days, l think of me and my own children in their place...and it keeps me very humble. ... Read more


    18. Birds in Brazil
    by Helmut Sick
    list price: $230.00
    our price: $230.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0691085692
    Catlog: Book (1993-06-01)
    Publisher: Princeton University Press
    Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Here is a substantially revised and updated English-language version of the only comprehensive, scientific treatment of Brazil's 1635 bird species. Written by the then dean of Brazilian ornithologists and published in Brazil in 1985, it not only lists every individual Brazilian species and provides detailed accounts for most of them but also gives an extensive treatment of the characteristics of each bird family found in the country. In addition, it analyzes the composition of Brazil's avifauna and relates it to the country's geography. ... Read more

    Reviews (1)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Birds in Brazil
    Birds in Brazil is a big book, beautifully produced on quality paper. It is exhaustive but never exhausting on the topic of Brazilian birds . The color illustrations are beautiful, but unfortunately they are separate from the text about the birds. That is the book's only fault. The text is in smooth and enticing English, and where the same birds are to be found migrating to the United States, the information is quite comparable in completion and interest to the American field guides of Roger T. Peterson. That leads me to believe that the information about birds that we don't experience will be equally accurate. This book is captivating and well worth the price. It is a coffee-table style book that we will be proud to use and to display. ... Read more


    19. Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith
    by JON KRAKAUER
    list price: $14.95
    our price: $10.17
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1400032806
    Catlog: Book (2004-06-08)
    Publisher: Anchor
    Sales Rank: 783
    Average Customer Review: 3.99 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Jon Krakauer’s literary reputation rests on insightful chronicles of lives conducted at the outer limits.In UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN, he shifts his focus from extremes of physical adventure to extremes of religious belief within our own borders.At the core of his book is an appalling double murder committed by two Mormon Fundamentalist brothers, Ron and Dan Lafferty, who insist they received a revelation from God commanding them to kill their blameless victims. Beginning with a meticulously researched account of this “divinely inspired” crime, Krakauer constructs a multilayered, bone-chilling narrative of messianic delusion, savage violence, polygamy, and unyielding faith.Along the way, he uncovers a shadowy offshoot of America’s fastest-growing religion, and raises provocative questions about the nature of religious belief.

    Krakauer takes readers inside isolated communities in the American West, Canada, and Mexico, where some forty-thousand Mormon Fundamentalists believe the mainstream Mormon Church went unforgivably astray when it renounced polygamy.Defying both civil authorities and the Mormon establishment in Salt Lake City, the leaders of these outlaw sects are zealots who answer only to God.Marrying prodigiously and with virtual impunity (the leader of the largest fundamentalist church took seventy-five “plural wives,” several of whom were wed to him when they were fourteen or fifteen and he was in his eighties),fundamentalist prophets exercise absolute control over the lives of their followers, and preach that any day now the world will be swept clean in a hurricane of fire, sparing only their most obedient adherents.

    Weaving the story of the Lafferty brothers and their fanatical brethren with a clear-eyed look at Mormonism’s violent past, Krakauer examines the underbelly of the most successful homegrown faith in the United States, and finds a distinctly American brand of religious extremism.The result is vintage Krakauer, an utterly compelling work of nonfiction that illuminates an otherwise confounding realm of human behavior.


    From the Hardcover edition.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (379)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Read it between the lines...
    Hmmmm...have some of these harsh critics actually read the book?

    I knew nothing about Mormonism before I read this story. But by the last hundred pages, I was thinking very emphatically to myself that Mr. Krakauer took GREAT PAINS to emphasize that the devil here were these two murderers, neither the Mormon religion itself nor even fundamentalist Mormons (although the latter are portrayed as being less blameless).

    I did not pick up this book intending to come away with a comprehensive history of Mormonism. I did not pick up this book intending to read a true crime story.

    No, contrary to some "misled" individuals who claim to have read this book, I picked up this book intending to read EXACTLY WHAT IT SAYS ON THE FRONT COVER, Einsteins. It states right on the cover, and I directly quote:

    "On July 24, 1984, a woman and her infant daughter were murdered by two brothers who believed they were ordered to kill by God. The roots of their crime lie deep in the history of an American religion practiced by millions..."

    What does this sentence mean to you? It doesn't say, "The Evils of the LDS Church" or "...two Mormon brothers..." For anyone reading those critiques that so harshly pan the book because it "wasn't what they expected," please read the quote that I have written here, and then tell me what you expect to read. I promise you that what you read into that quote is what you will get when you read this. These brothers' roots were indeed in LDS...that does not mean that LDS is wicked, and I never once saw it that way, even without any prior conceptions about LDS.

    And as for you critics who think that Mr. Krakauer is biased because he is agnostic, I find it hard to believe that you could forgive him his well-researched and well-balanced, conscientious manuscript, no matter WHAT his spiritual values. If he was Jewish, you'd find something "biased" about that. And ditto if he was Lutheran, Catholic, or Mormon himself. No matter what religion he was, because he's writing about religion, you'd say he was biased.

    Of course, the only "unbiased" person is the completely ignorant one. Everyone who learns something has an opinion about it. I dare any critic to tell me otherwise. But as far as this book is concerned, Mr. Krakauer has taken the utmost care to make the condemnation of this crime of which he writes as narrow and as specific as possible.

    Mr. Krakauer points out to us time and time again that these are resentful, looney-tunes, fundamentalist, ex-communicated-Mormon brothers who murdered their sister-in-law. So unless you are a resentful, looney-tunes, fundamentalist, ex-communicated-Mormon brother who wants to murder their sister-in-law, know in advance that this book does not set out to offend you.

    Read it to learn, not to judge, and ye shall be the wiser.

    5-0 out of 5 stars well written, well researched
    Jon Krakauer has long been a literary hero of mine. As a fellow agnostic, I have found his works to be a fecundity of insight and self-examination that result in an acute, if not critical understanding of the human spirit.

    This book reads incredibly well and weaves the stupefying history of the latter day saints with the horrifying murders of Brenda and Erica Lafferty. Ultimately, Krakauer makes the tacit polemic that the legacy of the LDS church, which is replete with both violence and polygamy, should not be underestimated when trying to understand the motives of the murderers--Ron and Don Lafferty. Although the LDS church is quick to distance itself from fundamentalist Mormon groups, which happily embrace polygamy, the history is undeniable. Both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were devout polygamists, and believed polygamy to be the most sacred of God's commandments.

    Many from the LDS church (and reviewers on this site) decry the book as being one-sided. It most certainly is not. Rather ironically, it seems that the ruling patriarchy of the church is the one in fact that is bent on presenting a dubiously researched and one-sided view of its history. To be sure, Krakauer treats all parties mentioned in the book with respect and dignity, remaining an objective narrator throughout the text. This is definitely a recommended read.

    4-0 out of 5 stars An objective, eye-opener
    I had read this author before and liked his work. I checked this book from the public library. I could not have guessed that he grew up Mormon until he tells the reader near the end of the book. There's so much here that I did not know. Fascinating.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Right on the Money
    Jon Krakauer is a superb writer who has taken a controversial subject and not only explained it objectively, but made it entertaining as well. I have read a great deal about the Mormons, my interest spurred by the fact that two of my grandmother's first cousins were wives of John Doyle Lee, and it is incomprehensible to me that any modern woman would tolerate for one moment the abuse and subjection that the church imposes in the name of religion. In the old days, most women were at the mercy of their husbands, but the brainwashing of today is criminal. This is a powerful plea for universal public education, as well as an alert Department of Human Services.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Great story, but author interprets history
    This was a fascinating book, but when I finished the last page I felt like I had read a 365-page story from the National Enquirer. The book oozes with juicy descriptions of fundamentalist Mormons, murderers who kill in the name of God, and the checkered history of the Mormon Church.

    If you're expecting a clinical dissection of a murder, skip this book. It claims to focus on two brothers (Ron and Dan Lafferty) who murdered a woman and her baby two decades ago, but only one-third of the book really talks about the murder. Another third covers the history of the Mormon church, and the final third is a startling (and equally gossipy) survey of polygamist communities from Utah to Canada to Mexico.

    As a story, the book hits a home run. Krakauer is a great writer, and his eye for detail is devastating. You read descriptions of the polygamist communities and you feel like laughing at the crackpots and crying for the victims at the same time.

    Unfortunately--and this is why I give the book only three stars--Krakauer can't merely document the history and describe the events. His book quietly advocates two stealth theses. They don't belong in a book like this, at least not secretly, and I think the second thesis is wrong anyway.

    His theses, which are never spelled out completely but nevertheless lurk below the surface in every chapter, are that (a) religion is a waste, and (b) the mainstream Mormon church has infused its followers with such a spirit of violence that it must share in the blame when its fanatic followers go berserk. These are perfectly valid topics to contemplate, but if you put them forth you should come clean and say so out loud, and then give data to prove them. Krakauer's book tries to prove these theses with anecdotes, extremely narrow vignettes of deranged persons, and sensationalized histories of century-old events. For example, we never hear what the "mainstream" polygamists think of the Laffertys' crime. I think they would probably denounce it, but Krakauer isn't going to give them voice in his book because it would weaken his second thesis. Instead (surprise, surprise) the last chapter revolves around an ex-fundamentalist who found his salvation in atheism. What's his connection to the Lafferty crime? None.

    Krakauer is extrapolating a line from a single point. Can you really draw general conclusions about a worldwide church from the actions of two fundamentalist kooks? Krakauer thinks you can. Worse, he conflates three very different things (the mainstream Mormon church, the fundamentalist polygamists, and the Lafferty brothers) to the point where naive readers will start thinking they're all the same thing.

    The author has right to ask hard questions about religion and the Mormon church, but I think it's wrong to write contentious things by making unilateral interpretations without giving all sides of the story.

    The Appendix to my edition of the book (Anchor) contained a negative review of "Under the Banner of Heaven" by a Mormon official. Krakauer engages him and debates fair and square for a few pages. What the shame the rest of the book wasn't like that. ... Read more


    20. 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
    (price subject to change: see help)
    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


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