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    1. Good to Great : Why Some Companies
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    2. Alexander Hamilton
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    3. Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
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    20. Jerusalem:One City,Three Faiths

    1. Good to Great : Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't
    by Jim Collins
    list price: $26.95
    our price: $17.79
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 069452607X
    Catlog: Book (2001-10-01)
    Publisher: HarperAudio
    Sales Rank: 11815
    Average Customer Review: 4.47 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how longterm sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning.

    But what about companies that are not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness? Are there those that convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? If so, what are the distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?

    Over five years, Jim Collins and his research team have analyzed the histories of 28 companies, discovering why some companies make the leap and others don't. The findings include:

    • Level 5 Leadership: A surprising style, required for greatness.
    • The Hedgehog Concept: Finding your three circles, to transcend the curse of competence.
    • A Culture of Discipline: The alchemy of great results.
    • Technology Accelerators: How good-to-great companies think differently about technology.
    • The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Why those who do radical restructuring fail to make the leap.

    ... Read more

    Reviews (298)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Jim Collins: REQUIRED READING (See why.)
    With an overall keen focus on discipline and accountability, Jim Collins was assisted by a large team of gifted, discerning graduate students. Hence, "Good to Great" is a most welcome piece of major solid research in our current time when "business spin" has contributed to the failure of corporations, market values, employee careers, etc. Unfortunately, similar books over the past few decades have relied more on "impressionism" from the author(s), including the now famous "In Search of Excellence" which has since been exposed as not fully grounded in the true facts of the time. While Warren Buffet is not identified as a "Level 5" leader in "Good to Great," this is a volume which could surely bear the imprimatur from that "Sage of Omaha." This book could even assist GE's Jack Welch "grow" into a more effective individual. [Prepare yourself for a surprise-jolt: based on Jim Collins' penetrating analyses across 11 major organizations, Mr. Welch would probably be considered as a "Level 4" leader.]

    This book is of significant value to anyone wanting to move from "good to great" no matter if it is within a profit, not-for-profit, or even in a home-family setting. Great, easy reading and, most importantly, an excellent, life-long reference manual to help you remain "tuned-up." Notably, this book should be a required supplemental text for all general management courses (undergraduate or graduate).

    5-0 out of 5 stars Achieving and continuing spectacular business success
    In 1994, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras wrote one of the most successful management books of the last decade: Built to Last. Collins and Porras had studied 18 visionairy companies, many of which had existed for 60 years or more. These companies had a strong focus on values and people and great ability to to learn and exchange knowledge. They gave less priority to maximalizing shareholder value but paradoxically outperformed the market enormously. In a conversation with Jim Collins, McKinsey director Bill Meehan said he, too, loved the book, but added: "Unfortunately, it's useless". He explained why. The companies featured in Built to Last had always been great companies. But because most companies are just good (not great) they are not interested in a book which shows how to stay great (Built to Last) but in a book that shows how to become great. The matter inspired Collins. He built a research team of 15 people and started a 5 year study.

    The team tried to identify companies that had jumped from good to great and had managed to continue their great growth for at least 15 years. They found 11 of these (Abbott, Circuit City, Fannie Mae, Gilette, Kimberly-Clark, Kroger, Nucor, Philip Morris, Pitney Bowes, Walgreens, Wells Fargo). These good-to-great companies (GTG's) outperformed the market by a factor 6.9 in the 15 year period of the analysis! (General Electric outperformed the market 'only' by a factor 2.8 between 1985 and 2000).

    The study focused on the question: what did the GTG's have in common that distinguished them from comparable companies in comparable circumstances? The GTG's were compared with two sets of other companies: 1) the direct-comparisons: companies within the same sector and in comparable circumstances, 2) the unsustained comparisons: companies that had had a breakthrough but that had not been able to continue their success. Collins intended to, from the ground up, build a theory which could explain the successful transformation of the GTG's.

    As it turned out, all of the GTG's had a period of build up, preparation (often lasting many years) before the breakthrough moment. Three phases could be identified:

    PHASE 1: DISCIPLINED PEOPLE
    1. LEVEL 5 LEADERSHIP: contrary to the expectation, leaders of the GTG's turned out to be quiet, self effacing and even shy. At the same time, however, they were very determined. Mostly, they were leaders that came from within the company and that have remained unknown to the greater public.

    2. FIRST WHO...THEN WHAT: also contrary to what you might expect was that GTG's first got the right people on the bus and the wrong people off and only then focused on strategic direction and vision.

    PHASE 2: DISCIPLINED THOUGHT
    3. CONFRONT THE BRUTAL FACTS (..BUT NEVER LOSE HOPE). Characteristic was a combination of realism and hope.
    4. THE HEDGEHOG CONCEPT (SIMPLICITY IN THREE CIRCLES): just like a hedgehog, the GTG's seemed to have a very simple but effective success formula: all of the activities of the company had to lie within the intersection of the following three circles: 1) what can we become best in the world at? 2) what are we passionate about? 3) what can we make money with?

    PHASE 3: DISCIPLINED ACTION
    5. CULTURE OF DISCIPLINE: the GTG's turned out to have a culture of discipline that made hierarchy and bureaucracy largely superfluous.
    6. TECHNOLOGY ACCELERATORS: none of the GTG's had technology as a cause of the success, but technology did play the role of accelerator of the success.

    Collins rather convincingly demonstrates the validity of this model. All of the GTG's showed these practices throughout the 15 year period, while none of the direct comparisons did. The unsustained comparisons showed some of these practises often right until the moment of their decline.

    Looking at the share price development of the GTG's, you might expect that there has been a clear marking point of the transformation because their share price stays rather flat at first (for many years) and then just suddenly takes off and keeps on going up. An important finding of the team was, however, that there were nó special change programs, and nó breakthrough decisions or products. On the contrary, the process evolved very fluently. To eplain, Collins uses the metaphor of the flying wheel. When you start to turn this wheel it goes heavily and moves slowly. But by continuously keeping on turning the wheel, it starts to build momentum and then, just suddenly, a point is reached at which the wheel turns at great speed without you having to turn it any harder than at first. Is this the practice of many companies? Not at all! The reality of many companies is nót consistently following a chosen path but rather swinging from one hype to another.

    I think this research evokes one principal issue. That the concept 'great' is operationalized in a financial way is easily understood from a practical standpoint. This criterion is clear and rather easily obtained and makes it easy to compare the companies scientifically. But is 'great' the best word to describe spectacular financial success? Does their financial success necessarily make GTG's 'great'? Wouldn't that be like saying that Bill Gates en Silvio Berlusconi are great people while implying Martin Luther King and Mother Theresa are not?

    But, having said that, demonstrating how companies achieve and continue spectacular financial success, in itself, is extremely interesting and valuable. This is a terrific book that, I think, has the quality to equal or perhaps even surpass the success of Built to Last. Unlike most management books (which contain creative but highly speculative ideas), the message of this book is based on well-designed research and mindful interpretation of results that is explained and justified terrifically. Despite this thoroughness, the book remains a pleasant read. A pity that the book does not offer some more practical suggestions to help readers get started. I think that would have made it even better.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Study on Critical Factors for Organisational Greatness
    Collins' curiosity and clear study brings to light some of those factors that contribute to greatness. These findings are grounded within individual, teachable 'points of view' which are easily applied to large organisations and applicable to small busness as well.
    Collins puts his findings in clear accessable language. Including the finding that is responsible for the title... That good is the enemy of great.
    I highly recommend this book/CD to leaders that are enaged with designing futures and those that work with them. It is core reading for key teams. It has made a significant difference in being able to articulate powerful conversations with teams about that which is tacit and critical to success. Giving common language and principles to engage with. A great study book for learning teams.

    3-0 out of 5 stars But, what about........?

    Read it - but maybe buy it used

    This books does however ask some good questions about how to go from being good to GREAT such as:

    1. What am I(or what is the company) intrinsically passionate about?
    2. What is the company\I good at? and does this "thing" come naturally?
    3. Finally does this area that was chosen have "GREAT" potential?

    On the other hand, here are some questions that I felt were left unanswered:

    Can't you be GREAT at two things at the same time?

    According to Jack Welch's book, you should strive to be #1 OR #2.
    btw: Aren't there three medals awarded in the Olympics?

    What about sales? The Mary Kay Company motto is "Nothing happens until somebody sells something." (from her book)

    What about creating barriers to entry for competitors? (to protect market share like Carnegie or Rockefeller did)

    Why didn't you include MORE on the failures of the Good to Great companies? Not just the failures of the competition. Guys like Edison, Lincoln had many defeats before they found ultimate success.
    Doesn't bouncing back from failures have something to do with going from Good to Great?

    The author mentions getting the right people in the right seats on the bus and the wrong people off. I believe this is an oversimplification. Age, salary, tenure, unions, hierarchy etc make this a very difficult task to accomplish!!

    Yes this book took 5 years to write and was supported by 21 staff researchers BUT I am not totally convinced of the results. (and I liked the first book - Built to Last)
    That's why I gave it only 3 stars

    5-0 out of 5 stars Must read for any executive, manager, or entrepreneur
    This book was number one on the Wall Street Journal's list for a long time for good reason. It is a very pleasurable and easy read that will certainly set off light bulbs in your head. The coverage of the iterative process of buildup and breakthrough is outstanding. If you are an executive, manager, or entrepreneur, make sure you grab this book and take it to the beach or knock it out over a weekend. It certainly belongs in your library. ... Read more


    2. Alexander Hamilton
    by Ron Chernow, Scott Brick
    list price: $59.95
    our price: $47.96
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0142800449
    Catlog: Book (2004-04-01)
    Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks
    Sales Rank: 24893
    Average Customer Review: 4.65 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    From National Book Award winner Ron Chernow, a landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation.

    Ron Chernow, whom the New York Times called "as elegant an architect of monumental histories as we've seen in decades," now brings to startling life the man who was arguably the most important figure in American history, who never attained the presidency, but who had a far more lasting impact than many who did.

    An illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, Hamilton rose with stunning speed to become George Washington's aide-de-camp, a member of the Constitutional Convention, coauthor of The Federalist Papers, leader of the Federalist party, and the country's first Treasury secretary. With masterful storytelling skills, Chernow presents the whole sweep of Hamilton's turbulent life: his exotic, brutal upbringing; his brilliant military, legal, and financial exploits; his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, and Monroe; his illicit romances; and his famous death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July 1804.

    For the first time, Chernow captures the personal life of this handsome, witty, and perennially controversial genius and explores his poignant relations with his wife Eliza, their eight children, and numberless friends. This engrossing narrative will dispel forever the stereotype of the Founding Fathers as wooden figures and show that, for all their greatness, they were fiery, passionate, often flawed human beings.

    Alexander Hamilton was one of the seminal figures in our history. His richly dramatic saga, rendered in Chernow's vivid prose, is nothing less than a riveting account of America's founding, from the Revolutionary War to the rise of the first federal government.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (51)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    3. Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
    by James Bradley
    list price: $39.98
    our price: $26.39
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1586215698
    Catlog: Book (2003-09)
    Publisher: Time Warner Audiobooks
    Sales Rank: 110399
    Average Customer Review: 3.19 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Flyboys is the true story of young American airmen who were shot down over Chichi Jima. Eight of these young men were captured by Japanese troops and taken prisoner. Another was rescued by an American submarine and went on to become president. The reality of what happened to the eight prisoners has remained a secret for almost 60 years. After the war, the American and Japanese governments conspired to cover up the shocking truth. Not even the families of the airmen were informed what had happened to their sons. It has remained a mystery—until now. Critics called James Bradley's last book "the best book on battle ever written." Flyboys is even better: more ambitious, more powerful, and more moving. On the island of Chichi Jima those young men would face the ultimate test. Their story—a tale of courage and daring, of war and of death, of men and of hope—will make you proud, and it will break your heart. ... Read more

    Reviews (141)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking Book About War.
    If you are looking for a feel good American heroes book this is not it. "Flyboys" is a very worthwhile and thought provoking book. There are times when it causes the reader to feel uncomfortable as it describes large scale and individual atrocities including cannibalism and mass murder performed by the Japanese that are very distressing to read about. Many of the previous patriotic reviewers I believe found it difficult to face the descriptions of the small and large scale violent and destructive American behavior even though it was dwarfed by the Japanese behavior.

    The author remained remarkably non judgmental in his descriptions. He tries to put in context the violent behavior, although not to excuse it, by supplying relevant cutural and historic background.

    The book invites us to examine the contrast between war time and peacetime humanity. Which is really us? Is war time meanness just kept below the surface during times of peace? It reminds us that when hundreds of thousands of lives are lost, that these are the lives of valuable individuals whether American or others. It emphasizes the remarkable heroism and perhaps the naivete of our servicemen particularly our "Flyboys." They were heroes especially because they completely understood the risks they were taking and proceeded out of choice because they were needed. George Bush Sr., as one of them , is featured as a sensitive and lucky(to be alive)hero.

    The Japanese soldiers were brutalized by their officers and were required to follow orders without question. One gets concerned about group think and herd mentality. How independent are human beliefs and actions? Do we actually choose them or are we mostly a product of the society in which we were raised? We must intuitively know that it is wrong to bayonet a restrained man with a sharpened bamboo pole with the purpose of of causing pain, prior to beheading him while still alive, The officers who ordered this behavior earn our contempt. They force soldiers to carry out their orders as if they were slaves.

    The Japanese "Spirit Warrier" believed that all orders originated with their Emperor who they believed descended from the Sun Goddess. In a way they were following their faith. Is it right to unquestioningly follow a religious leader or a religious belief ie Jihad,or perhaps to believe that followers of our culture are more worthwhile than the followers of other cultures. We must have known as Americans in the 19th century that slavery was wrong and that women should have the right to vote but it took us a long time to correct these injustices. Were we not deserving of contempt for thoughtlessly following the group think?

    This is a history of WWII in the Pacific told mainly through a small group of people involved with the battle for the island of Chichi Jima by an author who is a truth seeking patriotic American whose father was incidentally a flag raiser at Iwo Jima. It raises our awareness of the horrors of war. It ends with some optimism and descriptions of forgiveness or at least understanding by memebers of both sides. There is even some real humanity displayed as Private Iwatake, who developed a personal relationshop with a subsequently beheaded cannibalized "Flyboy" named Warren Earl Vaughn, when phoned by the author, doing his research, answers the phone with, "Hello, this is Warren." He had changed his name to honor his dead prisoner.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Has its faults, but important nevertheless...
    I read about 20 of the earlier reviews of "Flyboys" as I struggled through the book this past week. Some of the negative comments are deserved, such as referring to the late Gen. Curtis LeMay as "Curtis" in half or more of the references to him. This is bizarre and distracting. Whether a result of careless editing or author-torial stubborness, it does not work. Also, I agree that the term "Flyboys" as a collective description of pilots, gunners and radiomen is over-used. I also agree that the book perhaps tries to cover too much history and abandons its cover story for too many pages at a time. Some condensing and reorganization would have enhanced its power. That said, many of the other negative comments seem to be unfair. Yes, Mr. Bradley dwells on America's mistreatment of Indians and Filipinos at length, including prisoners of war. Yes, he gives disgusting details of how our napalm drops on Japanese cities destroyed civilians indiscriminately. But he is not making up those facts. And to emphasize how easily combat and its stresses can make soldiers willing to do horrible deeds is not exactly the same thing as excusing the acts. I have read my share of WW II books, as I near 60 years of age, and "Flyboys" is the first one which sensibly explains how the Japanese fighter rationalized not only his willingness to die in already-lost battles, but his contempt for those from other cultures who chose to be prisoners of war instead. To explain the Japanese viewpoint, again, is not to excuse the acts. Nor is it unpatriotic.

    "Flyboys" describes disgusting acts of brutality and cannibalism, and is ultimately a very sad tale. It is not a work that should be tackled by readers who are emotionally fragile. As most people reading this review will already know, Mr. Bradley's dad was one of the Iwo Jima flag-raisers, wounded physically by Japanese soldiers in that fight, and wounded in some ways psychologically by the whole of his wartime service. The fact that his son went off to study in Japan, and developed much respect for the residents there, must have been painful and puzzling for the father. But I don't think any intelligent reader of Bradley's earlier book, "Flags of Our Fathers" or of "Flyboys" can question the younger Bradley's respect for our troops or our country. One of our strengths as a representative democracy is that we can love our nation for having humane ideals even if we are imperfect in living up to them every minute. And we can learn from injustices committed in our names by our government or military agents, and change our ways.

    I stuck with "Flyboys" right to the end, flaws and all, and I'm glad I did. It gets more powerful as it goes on, and it does finish the story of the eight Chichi Jima American POW's as much as it could be completed, so long after their 1945 deaths. We live in a time when we may be facing 30 years or more of sporadic war with terrorists and the countries which fund and hide them. To read a book which makes war and its (initially) unintended horrors seem like a step to be accepted only with the greatest caution is not a bad thing right now. While Mr. Bradley is not the smoothest historian/writer on the block, he shows promise. In some ways this book is better than "Flags of Our Fathers" despite its problems of style, language and organization. For sure, it is more important than the previous book, because the Iwo Jima battle story had already been well-covered in earlier works. Former President George Bush came close to being a prisoner on Chichi Jima, and plays a small part in this book. If he cooperated, and if he thinks Jim Bradley has done a service to the country with his research into the horrors of war in the Pacific from both sides, I won't argue with him. He was there, I was not. I'm glad I read "Flyboys" but unlike "Flags of Our Fathers" which I've read three times since it was first published, I won't be reading it twice. Its medicine is too strong for a second dose.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Strays way off course
    I am very offended in the tone that book takes in regard to comparing Japan's Chinese campaign with our final offensives in Germany and Japan. With all of the well written reviews I do not have much to add except to say that Japan was dead in the water and would have fought to the last man, woman and child. I also think that the nuclear bombs definately did create a new level of war and by doing so expedited the surrender. I am tired of people trying to apologize for America, the fact remains if they did not engage us then they would not have faced our wrath. The Chinese on the other hand recieved the barbaric wrath of Japan without so much as provoking them. I suppose we are supposed to draw a parallel in our manifest destiny or turn of the century Phillipine campaigns that were both in a very different era. By taking away all of Japans budget to make war America gave them a head start on creating a modern economy unparalleled in the world.

    This book gets three stars for having some nice solid sections when it stays on task and does not get to preachy. If it wasn't for that I would have flunked it. The author has talent though and the read is pretty good being that is so severly flawed.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Not sure what to make of this book
    First off, I find it surprising that this story was not told sooner, as it involved a future U.S. president (I suppose much of the information was not available until recently). I give Bradley credit for telling the story of the airmen who gave their lives in service to our country, but I'm not sure what to make of Bradley's commentary on U.S. policy before and during World War II. It's true that atrocities happen in war, and the actions of our military should not be whitewashed. It seems wrong to me, however, to try to draw moral equivalency between the aggressors, and those who fight that aggression at great cost to themselves so that others may enjoy freedom. I also reject Bradley's suggestions that all atrocities committed by the Japanese were a direct result of earlier U.S. actions, however wrong those actions may have been (Bradley's description of the Japanese corruption of the Samauri code seems to contradict his own assertions regarding this point). I rate "Flyboys" 3 stars for telling a story that should have been told earlier, but I have reservations about the revisionist history in the book.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing, misleading title
    A few months ago, I overheard an argument by two people over this book, so I figured I would read it myself to see what it was really like. I must say I was very disappointed. The first few chapters are not even about World War II. The title is misleading, for it is not really about "Flyboys", and the author uses it as a platform to condemn the use of airpower. Unfortunately, civilians were killed in bombing raids, but it should be remembered that it was the Germans and the Japanese who started this war. The author also sees very little, if any, difference, between the Americans and Japanese, yet he overlooks who rebuilt Japan. If Japan had defeated the US, would they have rebuilt our cities? I highly doubt. There are better books about World War II in the Pacific, and certainly better books that portray the courage of the American Fighting Man. ... Read more


    4. Nothing Like It In The World : The Men Who Built The Transcontinental Railroad 1863 - 1869
    by Stephen E. Ambrose
    list price: $49.95
    our price: $49.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0743506472
    Catlog: Book (2000-08-01)
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
    Sales Rank: 315724
    Average Customer Review: 3.01 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    In this account of an unprecedented feat of engineering, vision, and courage, Stephen E. Ambrose offers an historical successor to his universally acclaimed Undaunted Courage.

    Nothing Like It in the World is the story of the men who built the transcontinental railroad. In Ambrose's hands, this enterprise comes to life.

    The U.S. government pitted two companies -- the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroads -- against each other in a race for funding, encouraging speed over caution. At its peak, the work force approached the size of Civil War armies, with as many as 15,000 workers on each line. The surveyors, the men who picked the route, living off buffalo, deer, and antelope.

    In building a railroad, there is only one decisive spot -- the end of the track. Nothing like this great work had ever been seen in the world when the last spike, a golden one, was driven in Promontory Peak, Utah, in 1869, as the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific tracks were joined.

    Ambrose writes with power and eloquence about the brave men -- the famous and the unheralded, ordinary men doing the extraordinary -- who accomplished the spectacular feat that made the continent into a nation. ... Read more

    Reviews (185)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Bad work by a history professor
    Stephen Ambrose and his team did voluminous research and then managed to put together a book filled with mistakes. He has geographical errors like placing like placing the discovery of gold in California WEST of Sacramento when it was actually thirty or so miles the the east. He claims that Robert E. Lee got hold of George MacClellan's battles plans at Antietam (Just the opposite occured). He also states that Union Pacific built the causeway across the Great Salt Lake (It was the Southern Pacific). I could go on and on.

    In addition to the all the mistakes, Ambrose also likes to repeat himself. Some of the anecdotes appear three or four times. In addition he takes some great liberties such as often calling Theodore Judah "Ted". Never have I read anything in which Judah was called Ted and the only sources that Ambrose uses that include Judah's first name call him Theodore.

    As a railroad buff and a historian I was really looking forward to this book. It's too bad that the book does not reflect all the research that went into the project. This book is a mediorcre performance.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Woefully inadequate journalism
    I'm not in the habit of denigrating books that so many others have criticized before -- yet this one has some glaring faults that I haven't seen mentioned by other reviewers. Specifically:

    The subject of railroad construction history cries out for comprehensive, detailed, accurate maps, both current and historical, to illustrate the geography and cultural features of the landscape through which the railroad was built. The paltry few maps included are crudely drawn, with rarely marked elevations and no more than a dozen or so place names each, neglecting the hundreds of locations and terrain features critically important to this epic story. Although the major rivers are fairly carefully traced, we are left to wonder about the size and names of most of them.

    Many personal meetings (those involving Abraham Lincoln in particular) are described complete with casual chitchat, behavioral mannerisms, and even the thoughts of the participants -- as if these details could be known even to others living at the time, much less a historian writing more than a hundred years later. The technique of imagining and fabricating details of events, unless carefully acknowledged (as in Safire's brilliant "Freedom"), belongs in historical novels, not in a conscientious history. It casts doubt on the rest of the work, documented or not, because it shows the author has injected his own speculations and assumptions among the confirmable facts.

    Lastly, the journalistic mistakes in this book represent a veritable catalogue of errors any self-respecting writer must avoid. They include the duplication of information and chaotic meandering in time and place that many others have noted in detail. Poor choices of wording and vocabulary are legion, to the point that it is hard to believe the manuscript underwent any critical editing. Also distressing to the reader are multitudes of obvious typographical errors.

    If the estate of Mr. Ambrose would allow it, the publishers of this book could do their faithful readership, and the railroading enthusiasts of the world, a great service by issuing a second edition of this book with the organization improved, errors corrected, and better maps added. The result could be much more readable than Bain's massive tome on the same subject.

    3-0 out of 5 stars A Readable History of the Transcontinental Railroad
    In this effort, Mr. Ambrose takes up the subject of the transcontinental railroad. First, this story needs to be told. Secondly, it should be told in a fashion that is readable and easy to understand. Ambrose achieves both goals.

    Of note is the commentary about the marvel of engineering necessary to cross the Sierra Nevada mountain range and the quiet dignity of the Chinese immigrants who made it possible. I found the contrast between the work ethic of the Chinese, as compared to the boisterous revelry of the Irish, very interesting.

    Lastly, I believe that this history can add to our understanding about how government and private money can be used as a tool to encourage the best of American ingenuity. At the same time, it is also a good lesson in graft and political expediency.

    Ambrose can be read by children and adults. His obvious gift of storytelling is more than evident in this history. Pick it up cheap and find out.

    1-0 out of 5 stars MISTAKES
    THIS IS A SUBJECT I AM VERY FAMILIAR WITH AND ALTHOUGH THE AUTHORS INTENT TO PRESENT THE HISTORY OF THE TRANSCONTINTAL RAILROAD FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF THE WORKING MAN IS GOOD, THE EXTREME NUMBER OF TECHNICAL AND HISTORIC MISTAKES MAKE THIS BOOK ALMOST WORTHLESS.

    1-0 out of 5 stars A great and enduring story, poorly told and misinterpreted
    This book begins and ends with grand statements about the "vision" of government supremacists like Abraham Lincoln and various members of Congress. Ambrose repeats many of the most enduring myths of the railroad baron era, and tells this story in a very conventional way. The great "foreward-thinking" "leaders" in Washington who planned and commissioned the first transcontinental railroad as a marriage of government and private enterprise are painted as heroes, while those who criticized this monstrous government giveaway are depicted as narrow-minded reactionaries.

    In fact, Ambrose ignores a good bit of evidence that suggests that government subsidies of the transcontinental railroads was entirely unnecessary and probably detrimental to the industry. Burton W. Folsom, Jr., in the book "The Myth of the Robber Barons" shows that it was possible to build transcontinental lines without government subsidies. Ambrose deals primarily with the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroades, which were both in bed with Washington policymakers. But Folsom describes how James J. Hill's Great Northern Railroad was able to construct a transcontinental line across worse terrain using land purchased on the open market without any government loans or subsidies--and to make a profit while charging lower faires! Thus much of Ambrose' interpretation--his "moral" as it were--is simply false. Government subsidies of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific produced inefficient, corrupt operations that negatively impacted the U.S. railroad industry for generations afterward. ... Read more


    5. A History of the Jews Part II
    by Paul Johnson
    list price: $83.95
    our price: $60.93
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0786100230
    Catlog: Book (1997-08-01)
    Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
    Sales Rank: 460456
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    Paul Johnson says that writing A History of the Jews was like writing a history of the world "seen from the viewpoint of a learned and intelligent victim." Johnson's history begins with the Bible and ends with the establishment of the State of Israel. Throughout, Johnson's history is driven by a philosophical interest: "The Jews," he writes, "stand right at the centre of the perennial attempt to give human life the dignity of a purpose. Does their own history suggest that such attempts are worth making? Or does it reveal their essential futility?" Johnson's history is lucid, thorough, and--as one would expect of almost any project with such a broad scope--a little wrong-headed. By the end of the book, readers will be grateful for Johnson's questioning of the Jews' confidence in their cosmic significance. However, readers may also be a little annoyed by his energetic inquiries as to whether this significance was man-made or providentially provided. Either way, it's a given: for a historian of Israel, this should adequately settle the question. Johnson's 600-page history is probably the best we've got by a living gentile--which is no small accomplishment at all. --Michael Joseph Gross ... Read more

    Reviews (53)

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Dearth of Information in One Book!
    This is probably the most comprehensive history of the Jewish people out there contained in a single book.It contains an overview of the biblical record and covers the diaspora, medieval period, foundings of Zionism, the Holocaust as well as a decent description of the events leading up to problems in the Middle East that endure to this day.It is definitely not light reading, however, and events are not always described in chronological order.For these reasins I only gave it 4 stars, but it deserves a strong 4.5.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent work of scholarship that's also a great read
    Paul Johnson's books always offer vivid portraits of diverse peoples, places, and events. The breadth and variety is what makes his books such great reads. One of his best achievements is "A History of the Jews." Although Johnson is a practicing Christian, this has not prevented him from writing a very interesting, worthwhile, engaging and fair history of the Jewish people. The book covers very well the early history of the Jews, beginning with the Israelites of biblical times through developments in Jewish thought and migration in medieval times. He also covers well how the Jewish people and Jewish traditions evolved in the modern era, culminating in one of civilization's greatest evils, the Holocaust, followed by one of the greatest achievements of any people in our time: the creation of the modern state of Israel. Johnson's book is a very important survey that everyone should have the privilege of reading. But one area where Johnson writes far too little is about what happened to the Jewish people who remained in Poland following the Second World War only to become scapegoats of a desperate Communist government. An excellent book on this topic is Arthur Wolak's "Forced Out: The Fate of Polish Jewry in Communist Poland."

    4-0 out of 5 stars One of the best history books on Jewish History
    I loved this book. One of the things i loved was the way the author connected everything together. Plus their was so many new things I learnt in this book.
    On the other hand, this book had so much information to offer it made it a little bit hard to read forlong periods of time. This book is a great reference book.But it was definitely one of the most interesting books on Jewish History. For any person who wants to know what to read for his first book on Jewish History I would advise him this book. After you will finish this book you will a broad knowledge on almost every aspect on Jewish History.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Balanced, sympathetic, and thorough
    I probably would not have become aware of this excellent book, had not some Jewish friends recommended the AISH.com website to me, thinking no doubt that I needed a more balanced view about Jewish history.I am grateful to them for so doing! One of the most interesting items on that website was ?Crash Course in Jewish History? by Rabbi Ken Spiro in which he recommended many books including this one.I ended up buying not only his book, ?World Perfect ? The Jewish Impact on Civilization?- (ISBN 0-7573-0056-1), but several others including this book.Up to this point in time, my knowledge of Jewish History ended with the first Jewish revolt against the Romans, and I was almost completely ignorant about their history after that. I read Rabbi Spiro?s book first, mainly because it was shorter, and I am glad I did, because it prepared me very well for reading this very detailed book on Jewish history.

    I particularly like the structure of the book which is in seven nicely delineated parts ? Israelites, Judaism, Cathedocracy, Ghetto, Emancipation, Holocaust, and Zion.It was not until midway through the section on Judaism, that I realised that I would have to be a little more rigorousin my reading of the book, because not only was there a wealthof detail about Jewish scholars and notables, but there was also considerable explanation of their basic philosophy which I needed to properly understand in order to avoid being overwhelmed.

    So I set up my own dictionary of people in a PC workfiles, as well as looking up what websites there were about them.This was an interesting exercise, and I found a lot of useful supplementary information to fill in some details about the lives of these individuals. The task became even greater when I reached the middle of the Emancipation on because the number of names seemed to be increasing on every page!This is not a criticism of the book, because it quite convincingly demonstrated the enormous contribution that the Jewish people have made to our civilisation, particularly since the beginning of the 18th century.

    I found this book to be balanced, sympathetic, and thorough.Johnson describes in detail the sorry catalog of horrors that the Jews have suffered over the last 2500 years in Europe and Asia, as well as the beliefs and philosophy of their leading scholars from the time of the first Jewish revolt against the Romans to the modern era. How the various Jewish communities responded to the many difficult predicaments they faced firstly with the Roman Empire, then with the Christian Church, then with Islam, and finally with the Christian States of Europe which have emerged during the last 800 years or so, is told with great sympathy and understanding.

    Johnson provides ample detail on the contribution of the Jew and Judaism to the philosophy, the culture, and the development of democratic ideals of the modern democracies (which is also the main theme of Rabbi Spiro?s book).His theme is that time and time again, Jewish communities, even though there were usually major restrictions on their activities, would find ways to make a living and to be useful to the monarchy and the nobility, who then would use them as scapegoats when major economic and social disasters struck. In particular, he shows how the basic arguments and slanders used by the Medieval Churchwere used and embellished by later anti-Semites.While anti-Semitism is not the major theme of this book, it does, in my view, deal with the problem fairly and squarely, and particularly well for the past 200 years or so, when eastern Jewsbegan to emerge from their ghettos in increasing numbers. His description and explanation of the rising anti-Semitism during the 19th century, and its sudden emergence in Germany culminating in the Holocaust was particularly careful and thoughtful.

    His account of the roots of the seemingly never ending Middle East crisis and the creation of the State of Israel was even handed and sensitive, and I think it extremely important to be as well informed as possible about the root causes of this struggle in order to determine what should be done about it today. He makes the point that the rise of Arab nationalism after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire took place a little later than that of Jewish nationalism, but that it was nevertheless latent during the early 20th century when Theodor Herzl and his successors were making great efforts to push for the creation of a Jewish state in ?Eretz Israel?.I was not aware of many of the events of the 30 years leading up to the creation of the state of Israel, and while I was generally familiar with the first 25 years of its existence, I was certainly not well informed of all the details. I found Johnson?s description of the wars of survival, the religious parties, and population growth, a useful reminder of the internal as well as external issues which Israel currently faces.

    I very much enjoyed reading this book.It was interesting, it provided the depth of detail I was looking for, and it met my expectations completely.I am sure there are many other books on Jewish history which I would find equally absorbing, but this is the one I happened to choose first.I am happy to have read it and would thoroughly recommend it to allpotential readers, whatever their religious beliefs or upbringing.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Balanced, sympathetic, and thorough
    I probably would not have become aware of this excellent book, had not some Jewish friends recommended the AISH.com website to me, thinking no doubt that I needed a more balanced view about Jewish history.I am grateful to them for so doing! One of the most interesting items on that website was ?Crash Course in Jewish History? by Rabbi Ken Spiro in which he recommended many books including this one.I ended up buying not only his book, ?World Perfect ? The Jewish Impact on Civilization?- (ISBN 0-7573-0056-1), but several others including this book.Up to this point in time, my knowledge of Jewish History ended with the first Jewish revolt against the Romans, and I was almost completely ignorant about their history after that. I read Rabbi Spiro?s book first, mainly because it was shorter, and I am glad I did, because it prepared me very well for reading this very detailed book on Jewish history.

    I particularly like the structure of the book which is in seven nicely delineated parts ? Israelites, Judaism, Cathedocracy, Ghetto, Emancipation, Holocaust, and Zion.It was not until midway through the section on Judaism, that I realised that I would have to be a little more rigorousin my reading of the book, because not only was there a wealthof detail about Jewish scholars and notables, but there was also considerable explanation of their basic philosophy which I needed to properly understand in order to avoid being overwhelmed.

    So I set up my own dictionary of people in a PC workfiles, but found that I needed to go further by looking up what websites there were about them.That was an extremely interesting exercise, and I found a lot of useful supplementary information to fill in some details about the lives of these individuals, and of course, it took me longer to finish the book.The task became even greater when I reached the middle of the Emancipation on because the number of names seemed to be increasing on every page!This is not a criticism of the book, because it quite convincingly demonstrated the enormous contribution that the Jewish people have made to our civilisation, particularly since the beginning of the 18th century.

    I found this book to be balanced, sympathetic, and thorough.Johnson describes in detail the sorry catalog of horrors that the Jews have suffered over the last 2500 years in Europe and Asia, as well as the beliefs and philosophy of their leading scholars from the time of the first Jewish revolt against the Romans to the modern era. How the various Jewish communities responded to the many difficult predicaments they faced firstly with the Roman Empire, then with the Christian Church, then with Islam, and finally with the Christian States of Europe which have emerged during the last 800 years or so, is told with great sympathy and understanding.

    Johnson provides ample detail on the contribution of the Jew and Judaism to the philosophy, the culture, and the development of democratic ideals of the modern democracies (which is also the main theme of Rabbi Spiro?s book).His theme is that time and time again, Jewish communities, even though there were usually major restrictions on their activities, would find ways to make a living and to be useful to the monarchy and the nobility, who then would use them as scapegoats when major economic and social disasters struck. In particular, he shows how the basic arguments and slanders used by the Medieval Churchwere used and embellished by later anti-Semites.While anti-Semitism is not the major theme of this book, it does, in my view, deal with the problem fairly and squarely, and particularly well for the past 200 years or so, when eastern Jewsbegan to emerge from their ghettos in increasing numbers. His description and explanation of the rising anti-Semitism during the 19th century, and its sudden emergence in Germany culminating in the Holocaust was particularly careful and thoughtful.

    His account of the roots of the seemingly never ending Middle East crisis and the creation of the State of Israel was even handed and sensitive, and I think it extremely important to be as well informed as possible about the root causes of this struggle in order to determine what should be done about it today. He makes the point that the rise of Arab nationalism after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire took place a little later than that of Jewish nationalism, but that it was nevertheless latent during the early 20th century when Theodor Herzl and his successors were making great efforts to push for the creation of a Jewish state in ?Eretz Israel?.I was not aware of many of the events of the 30 years leading up to the creation of the state of Israel, and while I was generally familiar with the first 25 years of its existence, I was certainly not well informed of all the details. I found Johnson?s description of the wars of survival, the religious parties, and population growth, a useful reminder of the internal as well as external issues which Israel currently faces.

    I very much enjoyed reading this book.It was interesting, it provided the depth of detail I was looking for, and it met my expectations completely.I am sure there are many other books on Jewish history which I would find equally absorbing, but this is the one I happened to choose first.I am happy to have read it and would thoroughly recommend it to allpotential readers, whatever their religious beliefs or upbringing. ... Read more


    6. The Civil War
    by GEOFFREY C. WARD
    list price: $18.00
    our price: $18.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0679403736
    Catlog: Book (1991-03-06)
    Publisher: Random House Audio
    Sales Rank: 254140
    Average Customer Review: 4.45 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Now on audio -- excerpts from the mega-bestselling companion volume to Ken Burns' phenomenally successful nine-part PBS Series, "The Civil War."

    The Civil War is a stunning evocation of one of the most crucial times in our history, one that has recaptured the American imagination. Here are the events of a war that tore our nation asunder, from the firing of the first shot at Fort Sumter, to the siege of Vicksburg, the battles of Shiloh and Gettysburg, to Sherman's march to the sea, to the fall of Richmond. Here, too, is the story of the familiar figures who battled at the frontlines and behind the scenes: President Lincoln, Southern statesman Jefferson Davis and the brilliant generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant. And here are glimpses into the lives of the soldiers, the slaves, the families who willingly fought against their own kin. This is an extraordinary and spectacular account of a moment in history that dramatically and forever changed America. ... Read more

    Reviews (22)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Introduction - Visual and Literary - to Civil War
    When I was a boy, my father had a two vol. set put out by American Heritage called "The Civil War." Its words, pictures, sidebars, and maps helped instill in me a fascination with the war and history.

    Burns and Ward have done the same service for a new generation. This is a fine one volume treatment of the Civil War done in a most accessible fashion. The words provide a good overview and summary of the subject. What brings it alive are the many pictures, maps, focus subjects and commentaries in this coffee table book. The media and elements come together to fascinate and captivate the reader. This book is a companion to Burn's monumental ten part PBS television series by the same title. The book captures it's style well, and even uses some of the most memorable documents -- like the romantic and haunting Sullivan Ballou (sp?) letter written prior to the first Bull Run that foretold the passing of its author and a simpler America.

    Althought the material is strictly introductory, even the serious Civil War student will find fascination at haveing a story they know so well, so well illustrated and illuminated.

    Introduce your children to this book and watch them become interested in our country's greatest story.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Good Primer on the Subject...With some Reservations
    If you've never read any books on the Civil War, this is a good book to start with. Avoid the Vintage quality paperback edition which is simply the text of the book without the wonderful illustrations.

    I think the illustrations and the text are made for each other and Knopf did a wonderful job pairing them together. Ward and the Burns brothers (remember, Ric Burns had a hand in this project too so Ken shouldn't get all the credit) chose judiciously and well. The book admittedly doesn't match the overall power of the series but it certainly does well on it's own. The end result is a big, beautiful book you'd be proud to have on your coffee table.

    If there is a downside to this volume, it's probably in the tone in which it was written. It's definitely got a Yankee bias to it. The idea that either McClellan or Meade could have "destroyed" Lee at any time seems a bit absurd given Lee's military gifts and leadership. No doubt they could have possibly inflicted grievous losses on Lee (McClellan prior to and during Sharpsburg, and Meade following Gettysburg), but that was highly unlikely and only on the condition that the Army of Northern Virginia would have been placed in a do or die fight (except possibly Chancellorsville).

    Other flaws I'd have to say is the typical slavery argument and Barbara J. Fields. Slavery was a major cause, but that isn't all. Frankly, I'd like to think that the War started simply because there was too much antagonistic feelings between North and South. They simply didn't like each other anymore. Fields' essay is utterly dismissable. Her comments on the series were annoying and her "knowledge" of the war shallow. There was much more to the war than that.

    Despite these flaws, the book has far more strengths. James McPherson contributes a good essay as does C. Van Woodward. Ken Burns' two day interview with Shelby Foote (which gave the series the majority of its warmth) is included in here albeit in edited form and to me, is nearly worth the price alone.

    If you're just starting out reading about the Civil War, buy this or borrow it. It's worth the time. Certainly worth the money if you can afford it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars "The Universe of Battle"
    The Civil War, written by Ken Burns, Ric Burns and historian Geoffrey C. Ward, is the companion volume to the outstanding 1990 documentary series from the Public Broadcasting System. Lavishly illustrated with paintings, photographs and maps, this book tells the dramatic and tragic story of America's bloodiest conflict.

    Like the television series from which this project was derived, its narrative is both informative and awe-inspiring. Its prose is lovingly crafted, and one can almost hear the voice of historian-writer David McCullough, who narrated the TV episodes, when reading from any of its five chapters.

    "By the summer of 1861, Wilmer McLean had had enough," write the authors in the introduction, The Crossroads of Our Being. "Two great armies were converging on his farm, and what would be the first major battle of the Civil War -- Bull Run, or Manassas as the Confederates called it -- would soon rage across the aging Virginian's farm, a Union shell going so far as to tear through his summer kitchen. Now McLean moved his family away from Manassas, far south and west of Richmond -- out of harm's way, he prayed -- to a dusty crossroads town called Appomatox Court House. And it was there in his living room three and a half years later that Lee surrendered to Grant, and Wilmer McLean could rightfully say, 'The war began in my front yard and ended in my front parlor.' "

    Although the hardcover edition is a coffee table sized volume, it is not a terribly long or exhaustive work. There are only five chapters, each one dedicated to a year of the war and followed by an essay by an eminent historian. My personal favorite is the essay "Men at War" by Shelby Foote, whose award winning three volume history of the Civil War is considered by many to be among the best on the subject. More interview than essay, "Men at War" attempts to explain why Civil War battles were so bloody; "It was brutal stuff," Foote explains, "and the reason for the high casualties is really quite simple: the weapons were way ahead of the tactics." Foote also discusses the primitive medical techniques of the time, and has this to say about Lee at Gettysburg: "Gettysburg was the price the South paid for having Lee." On the issue of who won the war, Foote says, "I can tell you who lost it -- the South lost the war. But I'm not sure anybody won that war. It's a tragedy."

    Other essay writers include Barbara J. Fields, James M. McPherson, Don E. Fehrenbacher and C. Vann Woodward.

    The Civil War follows the structure of Ken Burns' documentary, and most of the individuals portrayed in the PBS series (ranging from Presidents Lincoln and Davis to Union soldier Elisha Hunt Rhodes -- who rose from private to colonel during the war -- and Confederate soldier-turned-author Sam Watkins) are wonderfully described in the text.

    While definitely not a substitute for the film on which it's based, The Civil War is a fine book and a good one-volume introduction to the worst internal crisis the American people ever faced.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Monumental work
    This volume is absolutely fantastic. And I mean everything: pictures, diagrams, maps, selected excerpts, citations, documentary, and of course description of war times, politics, people and battles. I have improved dramatically my knowledge about the Civil War; it's immeasurable size, cruelty and influence on American future. Reading left me simply shocked, full of thoughts about tragedies of soldiers and civilians being simply unlucky by living during these times. I truly recommend this masterpiece to everyone interested in this history.

    4-0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT BOOK - ONLY ONE THING I WOULD CHANGE...
    FINALLY, A WONDERFUL, READABLE BOOK ABOUT THE CIVIL WAR. I UNSUCESSFULLY TRIED TO TACKLE MR. MCPHERSON'S BOOK "BATTLE CRY OF FREEDOM," AND THIS IS SO EASY AND DELIGHTFUL TO READ. I LOVE THE PICTURES AND YOU FEEL AS IF YOU ARE TRANSPORTED BACK IN TIME AND THAT YOU ARE A PART OF THE STORY. I ONLY HAVE ONE RECOMMENDATION, GENTLEMEN, AND THAT IS TO INCLUDE THE RECONSTRUCTION PERIOD IN THE SAME MANNER. I HOPE IF THE AUTHORS READ THIS, THAT THEY WILL CONSIDER DOING SO. ... Read more


    7. Powershift
    by ALVIN TOFFLER
    list price: $22.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0553452630
    Catlog: Book (1990-10-01)
    Publisher: Random House Audio
    Sales Rank: 352490
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Reviews (1)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Survival Logic of Future

    May be we got adopted to Future Shock.We understood the Third Wave logicto avoid linear questions and expect linear answers.

    This is a part of trilogy beginning with Future Shock and Third Wave. It addresses some very specific trends at micro level; at the personal level; of Power shifting towards us and slipping away from us; in ways we can only hope to understand. How the composition of power changes and what are the implications for us?

    Future Shock addresses the dilemma of an individual caught in a vortex of rapid and accelerating change.Third Wave places the individual in a historical perspective.This book addresses questions of survival in an era where third wave is no longer a distant future.

    ... Read more


    8. Uncovering Clinton : A Reporter's Story
    list price: $24.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0375407596
    Catlog: Book (1999-03-30)
    Publisher: Random House Audio
    Sales Rank: 797221
    Average Customer Review: 3.92 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Book Description

    "I realized something that should have been apparent to me much earlier:I was in the middle of a plot to get the president."

    A quarter of a century after Woodward and Bernstein stunned the nation with All the President's Men, Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff gives us an equally explosive behind-the-scenes account of the scandals that have rocked President Clinton's second term.

    Isikoff, who is credited with breaking the Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, and Monica Lewinsky stories, is universally acknowledged as the leading reporter who brought to light the revelations about Clinton's personal and political lives that have consumed this country and shocked the world. As a reporter for the Washington Post and Newsweek, Isikoff has established himself as an astute observer and chronicler of Clinton's conduct throughout his presidency, following a trail of presidential misconduct from Little Rock, Arkansas, to the Oval Office. Uncovering Clinton will surely be the definitive account of our nation's biggest political scandal since Watergate.


    ... Read more

    Reviews (76)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Totally engaging.
    I barely followed the whole Monicagate story. I watched not one minute of the impeachment trial. Why not? Because it didn't interest me and I'm a Clinton supporter. I cant stand the rightwingers who were out to get Clinton. But this book is amazing. I read it in two days. It puts the whole story together for you and it made me realize that a pretty sick dude is running our country. Isikoff is totally fair. Although the reader develops new sympathy for Paula Jones, the villain of the book has got to be Linda Tripp. And Clinton. But the bottom line: this book is so well written and so engaging that I recommend it to Clinton admirers and Clinton haters both. Although, I gotta say, it's hard to be an admirer after reading this book. Bravo, Isikoff!!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Way, way, way Inside-the-Beltway look at Clinton scandal.
    It doesn't get any more in depth than this folks. Michael Isikoff, the Newsweek reporter largely acknowledged as having broken the Monica Lewinsky scandal, gives all the sordid details, and not just about Monica...

    The book lays out the pre-scandal hub-bub. Closed door editorial meetings in New York. The ins-and-outs of how cyber journal-hound Matt Drudge dredged up the story. The checking and rechecking of facts and sources. Sure it's a riveting story. Sure, we all know how it ends. But if you're into the muckety-muck of Inside-the-Beltway politics and Big Journalism, 'Uncovering Clinton' will not disappoint. Years after the fact, the whole affair seems almost surreal.

    1-0 out of 5 stars More World Weakly News than Newsweek
    Poor Michael Isikoff couldn't get a job at the more presigious World Weakly News, instead Newsweek hired him at a bargain rate. And it shows in this boring, half witted book that was written for feebs.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Five years later: big story, big ego
    The fifth anniversary of the Monica Lewinsky scandal came and went without little media coverage or public reaction. People seem to have forgotten how the whole world briefly revolved around a blue dress and Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff.

    It is a safe bet Isikoff hasn't forgotten.

    The title and author's name appear in equal size type along the spine of Uncovering Clinton/A Reporter's Story. This technical touch is an appropriate tribute to Isikoff's monumental ego. The reporter's megalomania is on display from the first page to the acknowledgements; one two-page footnote is dedicated to a relatively inconsequential detail that involves Iskoff. The journalist is pretty full of himself.

    So why give such a vanity project three stars? The answer lies in the epilogue. The last pages of Uncovering Clinton probably best summarize the scandal and subsequent impeachment and acquittal of Clinton more than anything written at the time or since. One line about the press coverage, in particular, stands out:

    "Sometimes the best stuff comes from the most unpleasant people."

    Isikoff's summation is dead on.

    Few heroes are to be found here. The "most unpleasant people" make the best sources, the best investigators, the best villians, the best liars, the best conspirators, and the best characters. New details emerge in these pages about Matt Drudge, Sidney Blumenthal, Lucianne Goldberg, Linda Tripp, Monica Lewinsky, Vernon Jordan and assorted others, but none are rehabilitated by the fresh information. President Clinton is oddly absent from most pages. Yet when Clinton does appear he is a dark and furtive figure.

    Iskioff, apparently unwittingly, portrays himself as a reporter with an oversized ego and just enough grandiosity to see his work as always for the greater good. Oddly, Paula Jones comes across as a very sympathetic character. Isikoff finds a surprising degree of merit in Jones' sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton. On the other hand, Isikoff's acceptance of Kathleen Willey's dubious tale throws this and other observations into some question. The Betty Currie the author portrays is potentially more culpable than she appeared. Without actually stating it, Isikoff's outrage at cyber-muckraker Drudge is an acknowledgement of the transition from the old era of the Establishment press to the Internet age of instant information. Drudge's scoops are a portent of things to come.

    The book effectively is divided into three sections: the Jones lawsuit against the president, which started it all; the Willey accusation, which interjected Isikoff into the story; and the sexual scandal and subsequent cover-up that led to the president's impeachment. The author neatly ties them all together.

    As the title indicates, this is a reporter's story. Neither scholarly nor shallow, Uncovering Clinton chronicles how one egotistical and dogged journalist covered, and in the process helped shape, a historic event that most people seem eager to forget. Given the sordid calamity Isikoff describes, the public reaction is understandable---and regrettable.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Good Story
    Isikoff is able to pull off something unusual, not getting placed into the loop of "Bill-Haters". He tells the story with much facts and gives us an excellent view of the players in this drama (L. Tripp, M. Lewinsky, V. Jordan, R. Bennett, B. Clinton, P. Jones, B. Currie). I learned about the "vast conspiracy against WJC", but was disappointed in the lack of any info regarding Hillary. Obviously, she was tangental to the story, but it would have been nice. There was a earlier comment about Isikoff not taking an attorney to task over a blatent lie (Obviously not the first in this case). I would tend to be a bit more charitable: I think Isikoff had an error in judgement. I believe overall Isikoff acted with a great deal of integrity... Far more than you could say about the ex-president. ... Read more


    9. Three Nights in August : Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager
    by BuzzBissinger
    list price: $34.95
    our price: $23.07
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1565119754
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-07)
    Publisher: Highbridge Audio
    Sales Rank: 180124
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (16)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Terrific look at baseball behind the scenes
    3 Nights in August is an awesome look at baseball and why it is such a great game.Buzz Bissinger follows Tony LaRussa around and chronicles a 3 game series with the Cubs.There are plenty of asides - histories of players, coaches, strategy think sessions, etc.It really brought baseball to life for me.For too many years I have lived through "fantasy" baseball, numbers flying at me through the internet.That is no way to enjoy baseball.To enjoy it through the eyes of a manager and a team that love the game - that was something very fun.

    However, if you don't like baseball, you probably will be bored silly throughout this book.But you never know - give it a chance and you may appreciate the game a little bit more.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Great Read for Real Fans
    Buzz Bissinger is a talented journalist and writer, who knows how to tell good stories about the people who play and manage sports.He also has the ability to capture some of the beautiful complexity of baseball, as seen through the eyes of Tony LaRussa, and play it out in ways that make the book difficult to put down.He does not approach his subject with the sublime wit infused throughout Michael Lewis's Moneyball.Nor does he go so far as to deconstruct the whole game, like George Will did in Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball.While I rank those books above this one, you will find Three Nights in August a thoroughly satisfying read if you read and liked those books.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Great Look Behind the Scenes!
    This book is a great chance to see what goes on in the many hours between baseball games and the life of an athlete on the road.Stories of Rick Ankiel and J.D. Drew are great examples of the perils of the modern athlete, while the part about Daryl Kile will tear out your heart!Reading about the seeming indifference of a gifted athlete like Jose Canseco can make one question why they believe in baseball, but then there's the story of Albert Pujols to restore one's faith.By the way, Bissinger mentions about Canseco's apathy about playing during the 1990 season without following up with the Oakland A's getting swept by the mighty underdog Red in the Series that year.My big question after reading the book is, "How does Tony LaRussa continue to function while getting so little sleep?"

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
    It's hard to believe the Tony LaRussa in 3 Nights in August is the same expressionless man I see in the dugout every Cardinals game.

    I'm a huge baseball fan and a coach, and I recommend this book to every ball player before he begins playing in high school.The book was educational for me as a coach, and I wish I'd have read it when I was playing.As a fan, it's easy for me disagree with a manager's decisions when he puts in a .230 average utility infielder in a close game, but two of my favorite topics in the book are the importance of bench management and developing younger players.

    My only complaint about the book is Buzz Bissinger's vocabulary.I read because I enjoy it and it keeps my mind sharp.I have reasonable intelligence and a decent vocabulary.But I think Bissinger, like too many authors, sacrifices the flow of the story to boast his own vocabulary, and, in the process, he makes the reader feel intellectually-inferior.Any word that isn't used at least rarely in a conversation should be equally absent in a book.It's frustrating when I'm reading about baseball and I have to stop to figure out or look up the meaning of words like leitmotif.

    Aside from the abundance of unnecessary foreign words, I loved the book.Bissinger did a great job of showing the different personalities of the Cardinals players, coaches, and behind-the-scenes workers.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Already Seems So Long Ago
    Bissinger's book isn't as inspiring as FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, but he's a careful stylist, and the depth of his take on manager Tony LaRussa may never be equalled.Tony's fights and reconciliations with his wife, Elaine, over family issues and how to work out a long distance marriage are part of the book, a big part, and any honest reader will see both sides to the story and will come away with admiration for both LaRussa's for trying to handle a difficult issue in public.

    Darryl Kile's death, which ironically occurred in Chicago, the city with which St Louis has such a great rivalry, is presented here in moving detail.I feel sorry for Flynn, Kile's lovely wife, and their children.Their little boy is maybe three or four now and yet he will never know his father.

    The story of Rick Ankiel is treated more lightly, and will keep you in stitches.Ankiel, the pride of Fort Pierce, comes off in Bissinger's aphoristic prose as a bit of a flake.

    The three games Bissinger writes about are thrillingly presented, but when I closed the book it all seemed to have happened so long ago, particularly because only in the past year or so has the issue really been broached about steroid use.LaRussa seems honest about this, but it's hard to tell how much he's covering his own ass about rampant steroid use on his team and what he knew about it.After Jose Canseco's book and congressional hearings into the matter, maybe the real story will have to wait until a few more players die brutal and unexpected deaths.Or perhaps, as Canseco implies, you're not really a man if you can't handle the drugs that go with baseball.

    I must also add a word in favor of LaRussa's work with the Animal Rescue people.No matter what people say about Tony, you know his heart is in the right place, and this animal work is nothing new for him, he's been into it for eons.Good for him.If St Louis ever tires of T, there's a place for him reserved at Rainbow Bridge. ... Read more


    10. Arcanum : The Extraordinary True Story
    by Janet Gleeson
    list price: $24.00
    our price: $24.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1570426554
    Catlog: Book (1999-03-01)
    Publisher: Time Warner Audiobooks
    Sales Rank: 614641
    Average Customer Review: 4.39 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (23)

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Fun and Surprising History
    I didn't know what to expect when I picked up a copy of The Arcanum in a bookstore at the airport. I needed something to read on a four hour flight, and Janet Gleeson's book definitely fit the bill: it kept my attention for the whole four hours. The capsule on the back cover was what really caught my attention. It promised eccentric kings, dungeons and avarice of all kinds. The book did not disappoint! It's as much an entertaining look at how small things make a big difference in history as it is a factual and well-presented history of the introduction of porcelain manufacture in Europe.

    Gleeson did her homework, and that enabled her to bring to life a cast of character that might have come out of the most imaginative of novels. Almost before our eyes we can see the Augustus' obsession with porcelain, and finding a way to manufacture it, drive events in European history. We see a young and desperate alchemist/charlatan who couldn't have gotten himself in more trouble if he tried. Gleeson weaves these, and other, figures and their strange tale into a history that reads almost like a novel.

    If you enjoy Barbara Tuchman's books, I suspect that you'll like Janet Gleeson's, as well. Aside from the fascinating story, Gleeson provides a technical discussion of the substance of porcelain ware and its manufacture that should appeal to novice and expert alike. I enjoyed this book immensely; it gave the reader the whole package. I recommend it without reservation and I'll definitely be looking to read more books by this author.

    4-0 out of 5 stars The development of Europe
    There were many advances during the rennaisance era in Europe that are far reaching. You would think that something so ephemeral as a luxury item wouldn't have much impact, but history demonstrates otherwise. Deception, espionage, war, and even treason were common occurences in 17th and 18th century Europe. All that in pursuit of the secrets for making porcelain is conceptually challenging to say the least.

    When one alchemist searching for the legendary philospher's stone performs one illusion too many, he finds himself a "guest" of Augustus the Strong until he provides him with the gold he needs to pay for his extravagantly decadent life style. Fortunately, for the alchemist, he's bright and talented, and just may provide the king with another type of gold to keep the executioner at bay.

    The Arcanum, is well written and researched with an extensive bibliography. I was very impressed with the level of scholarship exhibited by Ms. Gleeson. Considering the subject matter, and my preconceptions, I was suitably suprised and impressed at what I learned.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Pleasant Read
    Janet Gleeson is not a storyteller. This becomes apparent as she pops between explaining the arcanum, porcelain making, political strife and the lives of the people involved. The subjects are so compelling, however, that you will not mind too much. It is apparent, too, that she has a passion for the subject of porcelain making, and she does manage to infuse the reader with her interest.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Splendidly told history always pleases
    If you enjoy splendidly written historical stories, this is a must read. I must admit that the story started to lose its lustre around the time that Meissen loses its lustre; but, in its entirety, the book is a must read. If you've read The Professor and the Madman, this story is equally enthralling.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A substance more valuable than gold
    Today, porcelain, china, and dinnerwares are common items in a household. This was not always true. Once, hard paste porcelain, the world's best, was literally as valuable as gold. But only the Chinese knew the formula, and they kept their secret from Europeans for nearly 1000 years. So it is fitting that the person responsible for discovering the Chinese's secret was an alchemist, whose true quest was to find the secret for making gold from other less expensive metals.

    This swashbuckling tale of adventure, double-dealing, and final victory, is a basic manual for porcelain collectors and dealers, and it is a must for antiques enthusiasts, no matter where their interests lie. Porcelain and its history touch every collecting area to some degree. The knowlege contained in this short history is a must for anyone who aspires to a full education in the decorative arts. ... Read more


    11. The Great Bridge : The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge
    by David McCullough
    list price: $35.00
    our price: $23.10
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 074353722X
    Catlog: Book (2004-07-01)
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
    Sales Rank: 475586
    Average Customer Review: 4.52 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    FROM THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF JOHN ADAMS

    First published in 1972, The Great Bridge is the classic account of one of the greatest engineering feats of all time -- the building of the Brooklyn Bridge.

    This monumental audiobook which presents extended unabridged passages from the book brings back a heroic vision of the America we once had. It is the enthralling story of one of the greatest events during the Age of Optimism -- a period when Americans were convinced that all great things were possible.

    In the years around 1870, the concept of building a great bridge to span the East River between the cities of Manhattan and Brooklyn required a vision and determination comparable to that which went into the building of the pyramids. Throughout the fourteen years of the bridge's construction, the odds against its successful completion seemed staggering. Bodies were crushed and broken, lives were lost, political empires fell, and surges of public emotion constantly threatened the project. But this is not merely the saga of an engineering miracle: it is a sweeping narrative of the heroes and rascals who had a hand in either constructing or obstructing this great enterprise. ... Read more

    Reviews (31)

    5-0 out of 5 stars McCullough: The Master Storyteller
    McCullough is an amazing researcher and writer. His narrative style turns almost unknown historical events into "epic stories." And "The Great Bridge" is no exception. I came to know McCullough after "John Adams" was published, but have since decided to take the time to read all of his works. He never ceases to amaze me. "The Great Bridge" is a well-written, interesting, detailed history of the Broklyn Bridge, the Eight Wonder of the Modern World.

    The characters come to life in this story, and the reader is transported into late nineteenth century New York City as an insider to watch the bridge rise from the caissons below the East River to the two gothic arches that dominated the skyline at their completion. From there, the reader can vividly visualize the wire and roadway stretch across the river until the bridge's completion. The book then ends with a spectacular grand opening of the Brooklyn Bridge. McCullough also focuses on the politics and people behind the bridge, and finishes his masterpiece by quoting an elderly woman from Long Island that remembers that the excitement in 1969, when two men walked on the moon, was nothing compared to the day the Brooklyn Bridge opened.

    I recommend this book to anyone who appreciates good history. This book is not just for lovers of New York City and civil engineers. "The Great Bridge" is another McCullough masterpiece.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A classic mix of engineering, social and medical history.
    It would be difficult to overpraise this splendid book - and indeed one might have thought it a unique achievement had McCullough not pulled off the trick equally well in "The path Between the Seas". The main theme may be the conception, design and construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, but into this are woven absorbing accounts of the social and political history of Gilded Age New York, the development of the technologies of underwater-foundations and of cable manufacture and spinning, the agonising quest to understand and treat the phenomenon of "the bends', the challenge of managing a project of a size unprecedented since classical times and, above all, the characters of a remarkable collection of men and women who were undauntedly resourceful in taking on the impossible. The story may be dominated by two engineers, the Roeblings, father and son, and by the latter's formidable wife, but a host of other fascinating personalities are brought to life, ranging from audaciously corrupt politicians, through noble and heroic army officers, down to individual technicians and workers. Mr.McCullough has a special gift for explaining technical complexities in simple and fascinating terms - this applies not only to the construction of the bridge and its foundations, but to the horrific and initially misunderstood challenge of what was termed "caisson sickness". The narrative never flags and the dangers and discomforts - indeed the sheer dreadfulness of working under pressure in the foundation caissons - are brought vividly to life. The writer excels at the moments of the highest drama - such as the almost catastrophic fire in one of the caissons, when the tension is almost unbearable, even when the final outcome is known to the reader a century and a quarter later. Every aspect of American life of the period seems to be covered somewhere in this book - the experience of immigration and assimilation, service in the most bloody campaigns of the Civil War, Spiritualism, the Beecher adultery scandal and the apogee, decline and fall of Tammany, all described with verve and elegance. The well-chosen illustrations complement the text admirably. In summary this is a book to treasure - to read once at the gallop, breathless to know what happened next, and then to read again at leisure - and again, and again. Wonderful!

    5-0 out of 5 stars "...and yet the bridge is beautiful..."
    In this day and age, what the name David McCullough means to part-time history buffs and amatuer historians (like myself) is excellence in writing, research and comprehensiveness. This reputation was undoudbtedly built based on classics like "The Great Bridge", written in 1972. Herein, the reader is exposed to spectactular writing and research that not only covers the planning and building of the Brooklyn Bridge, but indeed a history of the Gilded Age in New York city. With an enlightening style and insight that exceeds most other histories, McCullough defines "readable history" and in the process produces a classic that has and will continue to be the apex of literary history.

    And what a story it is! Following the Civil War, master bridge builder John Roebling decides that a great suspension bridge between Brooklyn and New York city (present day Manhattan) is not only needed, but would continue his reputation as bridge builder par-excellance. His son, Civil War General Washington Roebling (notable at Gettysburg and Petersburg) becomes Chief Engineer when his father tragically dies during the initial stages of construction on the bridge and proceeds to project an aura of moral integrity and spiritual "high-ground" that sets the tone for the subsequent 14 years that it took to complete this masterpiece. McCullough's account documents this and goes on to explain the initial planning and technical issues of such a massive project. The theory of suspension bridges and all the engineering technicalities is succinctly described by McCullough and this base understanding is what the rest of the story is based on (wires/cable hung form two large towers is the base format).

    The construction of the (2) towers is eloquently descibed at the sinking of the timber caissons (large "rooms" made of timber that the stone towers were to be built upon) and the subsequent details of working within them. Frustration abounds as the the Brooklyn side tower caisson goes slower than planned and McCullough describes the technical problems along with an amazingingly comprehensive discussion of the "mysterious maladay", ultimately known as the "bends". Worker-level stories surface here to give immediacy to the story and McCullough is masterful at describing them. The cable construction and subsequent controversey surrounding the contract and testing of the steel/iron would be boring to most readers, but McCullough makes this an intriguing part of the story.

    The political side of the bridge construction is not given short-shrift either as McCullough deftly descibes New York city Gilded era politics and specifically discloses the rise and fall of the "Boss Tweed Ring" and Tammany politics in general. This side of the bridge story, McCullough states, is as important to the final product as the engineering and construction...again, he makes this exceedingly readable while extolling it's importance to the story. Commitee upon commitee are formed to decide on both the technical and personal issues associated with project completion and here is where the controversy surrounding Washington Roebling's health (he was an unfortunate victim of the bends among other things) and mental capacity are manifested upon the completion...McCullough is again masterful at integrating this major poltitcal milestone with the story.

    The last few chapters are dedicated to describing completion and subsequent public reaction to the bridge and McCullough is superb at depicting late 19th century life in New York. The celebration on May 20th 1883 is a grand one and is placed in perspective in the last paragraph of the book:

    "In another time and in what would seem another world, on a day when two young men were walking on the moon, a very old woman on Long Island would tell reporters that the public excitement over the feat was not so much compared to what she had seen 'on the day they opened the Brooklyn Bridge' "

    Having walked and driven over the bridge many times, and having derived the name for my daughter from it, I can say that I have a somewhat personal stake and appeal in it. I also can say that I never gave a second thought about it's construction or the fascinating story that went into building it when I walked and drove it, until now. My compliments to David McCullough for giving us a marvelous story and book and giving those of us who've taken the bridge for granted a new perspective. I can't wait to go back and view it with this new knowledge of it's consruction and I'd wager that this is David McCullough's greatest gift...I give this work my highest recommendation.

    5-0 out of 5 stars My Bridge
    It is hard for me to be objective about this book. First off, I am a great admirer of David McCullough's histories. Second, I have published two novels which are set in New York during the mid-19th Century. But what probably makes it hardest for me to be objective is that I have walked over that bridge for my own personal pleasure so many times over the decades that I consider it an old friend. It's my bridge.

    Having said all that, I can say that Mr. McCullough has written a history that is not only about a bridge and its builders, which are fascinating subjects in their own right, but it is also about what New Yorkers were thinking back then. This was still a horizontal world; the era of early skyscrapers was a few decades away. Because of this and the rapid growth in population after the Civil War, Manhattan was mostrously choked by block after block of four- and five-story tenements, warehouses and factories. The need for a reliable means to get to the vast open spaces of Brooklyn was urgent. Ironically, however, it wasn't the horizontal--the length of the bridge--which stunned the witnesses to the construction. Instead they marvelled at the height of the towers and the height of the roadway over the East River.

    Not as ironic, however, were the people who didn't marvel at the bridge's beauty and the strength of its construction. They were too busy licking their lips, wringing their hands and wondering how much of the bridge's budget would make its way into their wallets. The elements of corruption, then as now, always lurked near a great public work in New York. McCullough covers this tainted side just as carefully as he reports on the glory of the growth of the bridge. Heroes (the Roeblings) and villains (Tweed & Co.) abound, while New York's most beautiful and efficient structure comes to life.

    I've been as honest as possible. I recommend this book highly to anyone with an interest in engineering, New York history, or just a good story with great characters.

    Rocco Dormarunno
    Instructor, College of New Rochelle

    1-0 out of 5 stars wonderful story
    I've have spent the last 21 years in the constuction trade , as a carpenter working my way up to a superintendent.I have worked on every thing from your basic home , to high rises in San Francisco and L.A. This book (along with McCullough's book on the Panama Canal)have to be the most enjoyable and engrossing consturction books I have ever read. In fact David McCullough has renewed my flagging interest in my own trade, the story's are very colorful, it's not hard to feel as if you are there.A great read,don't pass it up! ... Read more


    12. A History of the Jews Part II
    by Paul Johnson
    list price: $83.95
    our price: $60.93
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0786100230
    Catlog: Book (1997-08-01)
    Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
    Sales Rank: 460456
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    Paul Johnson says that writing A History of the Jews was like writing a history of the world "seen from the viewpoint of a learned and intelligent victim." Johnson's history begins with the Bible and ends with the establishment of the State of Israel. Throughout, Johnson's history is driven by a philosophical interest: "The Jews," he writes, "stand right at the centre of the perennial attempt to give human life the dignity of a purpose. Does their own history suggest that such attempts are worth making? Or does it reveal their essential futility?" Johnson's history is lucid, thorough, and--as one would expect of almost any project with such a broad scope--a little wrong-headed. By the end of the book, readers will be grateful for Johnson's questioning of the Jews' confidence in their cosmic significance. However, readers may also be a little annoyed by his energetic inquiries as to whether this significance was man-made or providentially provided. Either way, it's a given: for a historian of Israel, this should adequately settle the question. Johnson's 600-page history is probably the best we've got by a living gentile--which is no small accomplishment at all. --Michael Joseph Gross ... Read more

    Reviews (53)

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Dearth of Information in One Book!
    This is probably the most comprehensive history of the Jewish people out there contained in a single book.It contains an overview of the biblical record and covers the diaspora, medieval period, foundings of Zionism, the Holocaust as well as a decent description of the events leading up to problems in the Middle East that endure to this day.It is definitely not light reading, however, and events are not always described in chronological order.For these reasins I only gave it 4 stars, but it deserves a strong 4.5.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent work of scholarship that's also a great read
    Paul Johnson's books always offer vivid portraits of diverse peoples, places, and events. The breadth and variety is what makes his books such great reads. One of his best achievements is "A History of the Jews." Although Johnson is a practicing Christian, this has not prevented him from writing a very interesting, worthwhile, engaging and fair history of the Jewish people. The book covers very well the early history of the Jews, beginning with the Israelites of biblical times through developments in Jewish thought and migration in medieval times. He also covers well how the Jewish people and Jewish traditions evolved in the modern era, culminating in one of civilization's greatest evils, the Holocaust, followed by one of the greatest achievements of any people in our time: the creation of the modern state of Israel. Johnson's book is a very important survey that everyone should have the privilege of reading. But one area where Johnson writes far too little is about what happened to the Jewish people who remained in Poland following the Second World War only to become scapegoats of a desperate Communist government. An excellent book on this topic is Arthur Wolak's "Forced Out: The Fate of Polish Jewry in Communist Poland."

    4-0 out of 5 stars One of the best history books on Jewish History
    I loved this book. One of the things i loved was the way the author connected everything together. Plus their was so many new things I learnt in this book.
    On the other hand, this book had so much information to offer it made it a little bit hard to read forlong periods of time. This book is a great reference book.But it was definitely one of the most interesting books on Jewish History. For any person who wants to know what to read for his first book on Jewish History I would advise him this book. After you will finish this book you will a broad knowledge on almost every aspect on Jewish History.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Balanced, sympathetic, and thorough
    I probably would not have become aware of this excellent book, had not some Jewish friends recommended the AISH.com website to me, thinking no doubt that I needed a more balanced view about Jewish history.I am grateful to them for so doing! One of the most interesting items on that website was ?Crash Course in Jewish History? by Rabbi Ken Spiro in which he recommended many books including this one.I ended up buying not only his book, ?World Perfect ? The Jewish Impact on Civilization?- (ISBN 0-7573-0056-1), but several others including this book.Up to this point in time, my knowledge of Jewish History ended with the first Jewish revolt against the Romans, and I was almost completely ignorant about their history after that. I read Rabbi Spiro?s book first, mainly because it was shorter, and I am glad I did, because it prepared me very well for reading this very detailed book on Jewish history.

    I particularly like the structure of the book which is in seven nicely delineated parts ? Israelites, Judaism, Cathedocracy, Ghetto, Emancipation, Holocaust, and Zion.It was not until midway through the section on Judaism, that I realised that I would have to be a little more rigorousin my reading of the book, because not only was there a wealthof detail about Jewish scholars and notables, but there was also considerable explanation of their basic philosophy which I needed to properly understand in order to avoid being overwhelmed.

    So I set up my own dictionary of people in a PC workfiles, as well as looking up what websites there were about them.This was an interesting exercise, and I found a lot of useful supplementary information to fill in some details about the lives of these individuals. The task became even greater when I reached the middle of the Emancipation on because the number of names seemed to be increasing on every page!This is not a criticism of the book, because it quite convincingly demonstrated the enormous contribution that the Jewish people have made to our civilisation, particularly since the beginning of the 18th century.

    I found this book to be balanced, sympathetic, and thorough.Johnson describes in detail the sorry catalog of horrors that the Jews have suffered over the last 2500 years in Europe and Asia, as well as the beliefs and philosophy of their leading scholars from the time of the first Jewish revolt against the Romans to the modern era. How the various Jewish communities responded to the many difficult predicaments they faced firstly with the Roman Empire, then with the Christian Church, then with Islam, and finally with the Christian States of Europe which have emerged during the last 800 years or so, is told with great sympathy and understanding.

    Johnson provides ample detail on the contribution of the Jew and Judaism to the philosophy, the culture, and the development of democratic ideals of the modern democracies (which is also the main theme of Rabbi Spiro?s book).His theme is that time and time again, Jewish communities, even though there were usually major restrictions on their activities, would find ways to make a living and to be useful to the monarchy and the nobility, who then would use them as scapegoats when major economic and social disasters struck. In particular, he shows how the basic arguments and slanders used by the Medieval Churchwere used and embellished by later anti-Semites.While anti-Semitism is not the major theme of this book, it does, in my view, deal with the problem fairly and squarely, and particularly well for the past 200 years or so, when eastern Jewsbegan to emerge from their ghettos in increasing numbers. His description and explanation of the rising anti-Semitism during the 19th century, and its sudden emergence in Germany culminating in the Holocaust was particularly careful and thoughtful.

    His account of the roots of the seemingly never ending Middle East crisis and the creation of the State of Israel was even handed and sensitive, and I think it extremely important to be as well informed as possible about the root causes of this struggle in order to determine what should be done about it today. He makes the point that the rise of Arab nationalism after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire took place a little later than that of Jewish nationalism, but that it was nevertheless latent during the early 20th century when Theodor Herzl and his successors were making great efforts to push for the creation of a Jewish state in ?Eretz Israel?.I was not aware of many of the events of the 30 years leading up to the creation of the state of Israel, and while I was generally familiar with the first 25 years of its existence, I was certainly not well informed of all the details. I found Johnson?s description of the wars of survival, the religious parties, and population growth, a useful reminder of the internal as well as external issues which Israel currently faces.

    I very much enjoyed reading this book.It was interesting, it provided the depth of detail I was looking for, and it met my expectations completely.I am sure there are many other books on Jewish history which I would find equally absorbing, but this is the one I happened to choose first.I am happy to have read it and would thoroughly recommend it to allpotential readers, whatever their religious beliefs or upbringing.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Balanced, sympathetic, and thorough
    I probably would not have become aware of this excellent book, had not some Jewish friends recommended the AISH.com website to me, thinking no doubt that I needed a more balanced view about Jewish history.I am grateful to them for so doing! One of the most interesting items on that website was ?Crash Course in Jewish History? by Rabbi Ken Spiro in which he recommended many books including this one.I ended up buying not only his book, ?World Perfect ? The Jewish Impact on Civilization?- (ISBN 0-7573-0056-1), but several others including this book.Up to this point in time, my knowledge of Jewish History ended with the first Jewish revolt against the Romans, and I was almost completely ignorant about their history after that. I read Rabbi Spiro?s book first, mainly because it was shorter, and I am glad I did, because it prepared me very well for reading this very detailed book on Jewish history.

    I particularly like the structure of the book which is in seven nicely delineated parts ? Israelites, Judaism, Cathedocracy, Ghetto, Emancipation, Holocaust, and Zion.It was not until midway through the section on Judaism, that I realised that I would have to be a little more rigorousin my reading of the book, because not only was there a wealthof detail about Jewish scholars and notables, but there was also considerable explanation of their basic philosophy which I needed to properly understand in order to avoid being overwhelmed.

    So I set up my own dictionary of people in a PC workfiles, but found that I needed to go further by looking up what websites there were about them.That was an extremely interesting exercise, and I found a lot of useful supplementary information to fill in some details about the lives of these individuals, and of course, it took me longer to finish the book.The task became even greater when I reached the middle of the Emancipation on because the number of names seemed to be increasing on every page!This is not a criticism of the book, because it quite convincingly demonstrated the enormous contribution that the Jewish people have made to our civilisation, particularly since the beginning of the 18th century.

    I found this book to be balanced, sympathetic, and thorough.Johnson describes in detail the sorry catalog of horrors that the Jews have suffered over the last 2500 years in Europe and Asia, as well as the beliefs and philosophy of their leading scholars from the time of the first Jewish revolt against the Romans to the modern era. How the various Jewish communities responded to the many difficult predicaments they faced firstly with the Roman Empire, then with the Christian Church, then with Islam, and finally with the Christian States of Europe which have emerged during the last 800 years or so, is told with great sympathy and understanding.

    Johnson provides ample detail on the contribution of the Jew and Judaism to the philosophy, the culture, and the development of democratic ideals of the modern democracies (which is also the main theme of Rabbi Spiro?s book).His theme is that time and time again, Jewish communities, even though there were usually major restrictions on their activities, would find ways to make a living and to be useful to the monarchy and the nobility, who then would use them as scapegoats when major economic and social disasters struck. In particular, he shows how the basic arguments and slanders used by the Medieval Churchwere used and embellished by later anti-Semites.While anti-Semitism is not the major theme of this book, it does, in my view, deal with the problem fairly and squarely, and particularly well for the past 200 years or so, when eastern Jewsbegan to emerge from their ghettos in increasing numbers. His description and explanation of the rising anti-Semitism during the 19th century, and its sudden emergence in Germany culminating in the Holocaust was particularly careful and thoughtful.

    His account of the roots of the seemingly never ending Middle East crisis and the creation of the State of Israel was even handed and sensitive, and I think it extremely important to be as well informed as possible about the root causes of this struggle in order to determine what should be done about it today. He makes the point that the rise of Arab nationalism after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire took place a little later than that of Jewish nationalism, but that it was nevertheless latent during the early 20th century when Theodor Herzl and his successors were making great efforts to push for the creation of a Jewish state in ?Eretz Israel?.I was not aware of many of the events of the 30 years leading up to the creation of the state of Israel, and while I was generally familiar with the first 25 years of its existence, I was certainly not well informed of all the details. I found Johnson?s description of the wars of survival, the religious parties, and population growth, a useful reminder of the internal as well as external issues which Israel currently faces.

    I very much enjoyed reading this book.It was interesting, it provided the depth of detail I was looking for, and it met my expectations completely.I am sure there are many other books on Jewish history which I would find equally absorbing, but this is the one I happened to choose first.I am happy to have read it and would thoroughly recommend it to allpotential readers, whatever their religious beliefs or upbringing. ... Read more


    13. Art of Innovation, The
    by Thomas Kelley, Jonathan Littman, Dick Hill
    list price: $27.95
    our price: $18.45
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1567403794
    Catlog: Book (2001-01-16)
    Publisher: Brilliance Audio Unabridged
    Sales Rank: 204886
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Subtitled: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America's Leading Design Firm

    IDEO, the widely admired, award-winning design and development firm that brought the world the Apple mouse, Polaroid's I-Zone instant camera, the Palm V, and hundreds of other cutting edge products, reveals its secret for fostering innovative, out-of-the-box thinking across the world of business.

    There isn't a business in America that doesn't want to be more innovative and creative in their thinking, products, and processes. At many companies, being first with a concept and first to market are critical just to survive. In The Art of Innovation, the general manager of the world-renowned design firm IDEO, Thomas Kelley, takes readers behind the scenes of this wildly imaginative and energized company to reveal strategies and secrets it uses to turn out hit after hit.

    IDEO doesn't believe in the myth of the lone genius working away in isolation, waiting for great ideas to strike. The fact is, as Kelley points out, everyone is creative, and the goal at IDEO is to tap into the wellspring of creativity among its employees. How does it do that? First, IDEO fosters an atmosphere conducive to freely expressing ideas, throwing out (most of ) the standard rules, and freeing people to design their workspaces and environment to fit their personalities. It is IDEO's focus on teams that has resulted in its countless innovative breakthroughs - the constant give-and-take among people willing to share ideas and trust in the group process, dubbed "the deep dive" by IDEO. In entertaining anecdotes illustrating some of IDEO's own successes (and mistakes), as well as pioneering efforts at other leading companies, Kelley shows how teamsresearch and completely immerse themselves in every possible aspect of a concept or problem, examining it from the perspective of the companies they are designing for, from the perspective of safety, and from the perspective of consumers.

    IDEO has won more awards in the last ten years than any other design firm, and full half-hour Nightline presentation of its creative process received one of the highest ratings in the program's history. Total immersion in The Art of Innovation will provide business leaders with the insights and tools they need to make their companies the leading-edge, top-rated stars of their industries.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (2)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Read this Book
    I read this book awile back during a vacation and couldn't put it down.I only read no-fiction books and this one was the best I'd ever read.I've never felt compelled to review a book before, but his one was worth it.It was very well written, informative as well as inspirational.It made me want to go work at Ideo.Well worth your time.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Art of Innovation
    Thanks Tom! We're just starting a new technology business and we're wanting and needing to create the sort of culture that you have at Ideo. Our industry is dynamic, so if we're not dynamic then we will not succeed. For us that means innovate - deliver true value to our customers - learn - innovate - deliver more value to our customers, in a continuous cycle. You have given us some practical ideas about how we can ingrain innovation into our culture as we grow. Thanks. ... Read more


    14. The Creative Fire: Myths and Stories About the Cycles of Creativity/Cassettes (Illustrated Living History Series)
    by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
    list price: $18.95
    our price: $12.89
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1564552128
    Catlog: Book (1993-07-01)
    Publisher: Sounds True
    Sales Rank: 43406
    Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    The Creative FireClarissa Pinkola Estes

    In Search of La Chispa: The Elemental Source of Your Creativity - Expanded two-tape edition of the classic on creativity by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés guides you through the dark labyrinths of the psyche in search of la chispa – the ember that is the elemental source of all creative work. Dr. Estés teaches about the hidden aspects of creativity, including the negative complexes that prey upon creative energy. The Creative Fire includes many special insights for people who create for a living: artists, writers, teachers, and others who must depend on their creative instincts every day. ... Read more

    Reviews (3)

    5-0 out of 5 stars If you're creative, you need this tape set!
    If you've ever felt "stuck" or as if people weren't really paying attention to you... if you're an artist and frustrated with your own work or how others perceive some of your work... if you've ever wanted to be an artist, but didn't feel "good enough"... You need this tape set. No, I don't mean you should hear it someday; I mean that you need to get this tape set right NOW. You need to hear it. (That should be in neon lights, flashing in front of your monitor.) Put "The Creative Fire" on your tape player and take out a box of tissues. If you listen to it in the car, be prepared when Dr. Estes starts reading from her poem, "How to Silence a Woman," because you may be ready to vent, big time, right then & there. She's telling you the truth you've needed to hear since forever. I repeat: if you've ever felt creative, or wanted to do something creative, and felt stuck or sad or not good enough, at ANY step in the creative process (including when you finished it), you need this tape set. It is the most significant message I've heard in the past year, at least. It is really, really, REALLY important.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The truth about creativity & imagination
    This is one of two books/audio that I give or recommend to anyone struggling with their creativity (the other is Julia Cameron's 'The Artist's Way', the first book only). You can listen to these tapes on a regular basis and begin to remember what it all means -- why you want to create art, why it matters intensely, who is standing in your way, how to regain the spark, and how to live fully in your creative imagination.

    All of Estes' audio tapes are fabulous -- she has the voice and the wisdom of the mother/friend/ therapist we all wish we had in our lives.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Tapes About the Creative Force Within.
    I listen to these tapes over again every few months. I learn something new each time. Her stories renew my spirit. They teach me the way to guide myself creatively. I think anyone who ever wanted to create would be inspired. I would recommend these tapes to artists, musicians, authors, actors, poets, healers. Those who know the process gain insight into their own creative energy. Wounderful insperation for those whose creative energy is blocked and need guidence. In these tapes she gives us the tools to respect the process and keep the fire burning bright not for a day but a lifetime. ... Read more


    15. Benjamin Franklin : An American Life
    by Walter Isaacson
    list price: $26.00
    our price: $17.16
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 074353364X
    Catlog: Book (2003-07-01)
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
    Sales Rank: 24962
    Average Customer Review: 4.39 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

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

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

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

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

    Reviews (98)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    16. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (unbridged)
    by JOHN BERENDT
    list price: $39.95
    our price: $25.17
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0679460802
    Catlog: Book (1997-08-12)
    Publisher: Random House Audio
    Sales Rank: 175164
    Average Customer Review: 4.06 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    12 cassettes / 15 Hours
    Unabridged

    Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty,early morning hours of May 2, 1981.Was it murder or self-defense?For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares.John Berendt's sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction.Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case.

    It is a spellbinding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society ladies of the Married Woman's Card Club; the turbulent young redneck gigolo; the hapless recluse who owns a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill every man, woman, and child in Savannah; the aging and profane Southern belle who is the "soul of pampered self-absorption"; the uproariously funny black drag queen; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; the sweet-talking, piano-playing con artist; young blacks dancing the minuet at the black debutante ball; and Minerva, the voodoo priestess who works her magic in the graveyard at midnight.These and other Savannahians act as a Greek chorus, with Berendt revealing the alliances, hostilities, and intrigues that thrive in a town where everyone knows everyone else.

    Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story is a sublime and seductive reading experience.Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city is certain to become a modern classic.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (405)

    4-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful and intriguing story line keeps this book moving
    Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt made for a wonderful read. The interesting twists and turns imbedded within almost every chapter make you want to keep turning the pages. Although Midnight reads like a novel, it is actually based on historically accurate details relating to Savannah, Georgia and it's society. This creates for an interesting genre, probably falling into the realm of historical nonfiction. The entire book is based primarily on the murder of a young man in Savannah, and his supposed killer, another gentleman prominent in Savannahian society. However, leading up to the actual murder, the author introduces a series of other Savannah natives, all of them quite interesting characters. From drag queens to lawyers, businessman to hustlers, you are able to meet individuals on both ends of the spectrum. I find it rather difficult to make a comparison between this book and another of its type, being as this is the first one of the sort that I have read. I was entirely captivated by this sort of literature and would love to get my hands of another similar piece. Berendt did a great job of writing from a technical standpoint. The setting centered the book in the heart of the South, Savannah, Georgia during the 1980's. Being born and raised in Iowa, I found the sharp contrast of lifestyles enthralling. The characters, well, WOW! As I said before, there was such a dynastic scale or personas that it created for a complete surprise every chapter when he would introduce somebody new. My favorite by leaps and bounds, however, had to be Chablis. The initial description we receive creates a vivid picture in my mind: "She was wearing a loose white cotton blouse, jeans, and white tennis sneakers. Her hair was short, and her skin was a smooth mild chocolate. Her eyes were large and expressive..." Then, a few pages later, we get another entirely different scene from the author, putting almost a disturbing picture in my mind. "Chablis suddenly burst into view, looking like raging fire in a skimpy sequined dress with jagged red, yellow, and orange flamelike fringes hanging from it. She wore huge hoop earrings and a wig of long black curls. The audience cheered as she strutted down the runway, working every nuance of the rhythm, shaking her behind like a pom-pom, whipping it from side to side." As you can see from looking at the characterization in the book, Berendt also uses great description. He uses the same intense description all throughout the book, describing everything from houses to parks to squares to people. The imagery was simply amazing. I don't believe that there was any strong symbolism or theme within this piece. The author just stuck right to the main plot of describing typical Savannah life, taking us on a journey, letting us witness people and events. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this book for everybody. Those younger than "teenager" probably would find this book a bit over their heads, as it does contain some rather adult context and material. But I still hold my stance that anybody ready to read a book that will seemingly involve them in the plot should open the cover of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.

    4-0 out of 5 stars The South Rises Again
    Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is really two books - the first half is a present day snapshot of Savannah, Georgia, an old-style Southern city with plenty of grace and charm. The second half is the story of the murder trial(s) of Jim Williams, one of Savannah's most interesting residents. The second half is much more interesting than the first. Perhaps that is because every time Williams makes an appearance, things turn interesting very quickly. (Having seen the movie, I can't picture Williams without thinking of the remarkable Kevin Spacey). One character who draws a lot of attention in both the book and the movie is the Lady Chablis. In the movie she occupies far too much screen time - her role in the book is much more reasonable. I suppose the popularity of the Lady is due to her "exotic" nature as a drag queen, but I find her character to be pretty unremarkable - it seems faintly ridiculous to complain that she could be any ol' drag queen, but realistically, she adds nothing to the story of any substance. I wish more attention had been paid to the "occult" aspects of the story - the title seems to invite this scrutiny. The fact that an extrememly wealthy Southern man on trial for murder puts more stock in voodoo than his defense lawyers IS remarkable. I found myself wishing Berendt would have questioned Williams at length as to the reasons he chose to believe in these supernatural powers. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil does a great job of transplanting the reader into "Old South" Georgia with enough colorful characters to keep the interest level high; it's just a shame none of us will ever get invited to one of Jim Williams' Christmas Parties.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Yes, Savannah is that strange....
    This story is a good read about some of the wild and wealthy who lived and died in Savannah in the 1980's. My parents live in Savannah, if you have ever spent anytime in that area you would know that it is a dead on account of the people who live there... Everything from the kooky insect guy (Driggers) to the Voo Doo which goes on "religiously" just over the Savannah river in South Carolina. As usual the book and movie share the same name and thats about it (read: the movie stinks the book doesn't).

    5-0 out of 5 stars It's Midnight---do you know where your children are?
    This book is like two others that I've read in the past few years. The first was "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles" by Dunne, and the other was "The Bark of the Dogwood." These two, along with "Midnight" are excellently paced, gossipy, accessible, and great reads. But of the three, "Midnight is by far my favorite. "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" is really two books - the first half is a present day snapshot of Savannah, Georgia, an old-style Southern city with plenty of grace and charm. The second half is the story of the murder trial(s) of Jim Williams, one of Savannah's most interesting residents. The second half is much more interesting than the first. Perhaps that is because every time Williams makes an appearance, things turn interesting very quickly. (Having seen the movie, I can't picture Williams without thinking of the remarkable Kevin Spacey). One character who draws a lot of attention in both the book and the movie is the Lady Chablis. In the movie she occupies far too much screen time - her role in the book is much more reasonable. I suppose the popularity of the Lady is due to her "exotic" nature as a drag queen, but I find her character to be pretty unremarkable - it seems faintly ridiculous to complain that she could be any ol' drag queen, but realistically, she adds nothing to the story of any substance. I wish more attention had been paid to the "occult" aspects of the story - the title seems to invite this scrutiny. The fact that an extrememly wealthy Southern man on trial for murder puts more stock in voodoo than his defense lawyers is remarkable. I found myself wishing Berendt would have questioned Williams at length as to the reasons he chose to believe in these supernatural powers. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil does a great job of transplanting the reader into "Old South" Georgia with enough colorful characters to keep the interest level high; it's just a shame none of us will ever get invited to one of Jim Williams' Christmas Parties.

    Would also recommend "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles" and "Bark of the Dogwood."

    5-0 out of 5 stars Understand the comparisons
    I understand the comparisons being made to Capote's "In Cold Blood" what with
    the hybrid genre thing going on, but for me,
    "Midnight" was more like "Bark of the Dogwood" than "In Cold Blood."
    Nevertheless, this John Berendt
    thriller (not in the gaudy commercial sense) is one
    of the best-written books of the last century.
    Truly. I avoided this for years because of the hype
    and the awful movie that was made of it, but
    when I did finally read it I found an almost perfect book.
    My question is this: Where is Mr. Berendt now and WHERE'S his next book? We're all waiting! ... Read more


    17. Customers.Com : How to Create a Profitable Business Strategy for the Internet and Beyond
    list price: $25.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0375410406
    Catlog: Book (1999-11-23)
    Publisher: Random House Audio
    Sales Rank: 454046
    Average Customer Review: 4.06 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Read by the Author
    Three Cassettes, 5 hours

    Patricia Seybold has advised major companies not only on the technical requirements for a successful electronic commerce strategy, but also on the management, marketing, sales, and customer support systems necessary to create an infrastructure that seamlessly blends a company?s e-commerce initiative with overall business.

    It all starts with customers.For the past several years, Seybold has been working with electronic commerce pioneers who have made life easier for their customers by figuring out what they want and designing their Internet strategy accordingly.Seybold?s guide is packed with insights on how both Fortune 500 giants and smaller companies have created e-commerce initiatives that place them well ahead of their competitors.

    With additional in-depth examples from American Airlines, Amazon.com, Babson College, Bell Atlantic, Dell Computer, PhotoDisc, General Motors, and Cisco Systems, Customers.com is an exceptionally rich source of ideas and information; the one audiobook you need to stay in business in the rapidly changing era of electronic commerce.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (113)

    5-0 out of 5 stars OVERCOME YOUR "STALLED" THINKING ABOUT E-COMMERCE PROFITS
    CUSTOMERS.COM is a very valuable book in that it focuses both on how to serve customers on-line as well as how to make money doing so.

    Like a good consultant, the author systematically looks at best practices from each of 16 cases, and combines the lessons into a vision of the future best practice (in 2-3 years) that no one is yet doing. This is an outstanding accomplishment, that is not matched in most best practice books.

    I also visited the CUSTOMERS.COM Web site to register for the free booklet that is offered, and was pleased to get many ideas to improve our own electronic commerce. Be sure to check here from time to time, because the author updates the 16 case histories in the book on the Web site so that you can keep up-to-date. That is an especially nice touch.

    Ms. Seybold does a nice job in CUSTOMERS.COM of critiquing each case history for ways that organization could improve. Let me do the same for her book. Several things stand out. First, the book does not go into enough detail about how to find the weaknesses in current operations that will permit greater profitability through changed processes facilitated by electronic commerce. There is a lot of best practice work needed in those areas before you start thinking about electronic commerce. Second, she does not address the question of what the ideal best practice of electronic commerce is. You might think of a well-informed concierge in a great hotel who knows you well as the model for this ideal best practice. Third, more needs to be done to help you learn how to facilitate the change process. The steps she describes would be very difficult for many organizations to implement that are beset by severe stalls in the form of tradition, disbelief, misconceptions, bureaucracy, avoiding the unattractive (such as customer problems), procrastination, and miscommunication. Fourth, the book highlights a lot of very interesting case histories and shows their successes. I was struck that although I am a heavy Web user and a substantial customer of many of these organizations, I did not know about the electronic services they offer. It sounds like many of these organizations still have a communications problem with their customers. Fifth, the available technology will advance a lot in the next five years. I felt the book does not do enought to make people aware of how technology that is not yet available can facilitate the future success of their electronic commerce.

    No book can serve all needs in an area, so we can look forward to Ms. Seybold's next book. I enjoyed the personal touch as she described her own experiences with many of the companies involved. I hope she keeps in touch with them and us. I suspect she will based on the e-mails I get from her after registering on her site.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended!
    Although it was just published in 1998, Customers.com quickly attained the status of an Internet business classic. Of course, that title might be a bit dubious now that the book has outlived many of the companies that tried to put its strategies into practice. But despite your view on the viability of e-businesses, there's no denying the innovation and thoroughness of Patricia B. Seybold's work. Don't be misled by her breezy style; this is an authoritative and informative book. Seybold gets right to the heart of the links between business and technology. Using plenty of examples from major corporations, she suggests eight major strategies for harnessing the power of technology, especially the Internet, to advance your business. Since the book's initial publication, many other authors have espoused these e-tenets, but we [...] advise you to read the original - Seybold probably said it first, and probably said it best. Remember, the collapse of the tech bubble didn't wash away the Internet, which could still prove to be a critical element of your business.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Good book but needs updating now.
    With so much changes in the internet business, this is a good reading to understand how should you start, but new technologies are available now. This book was written in 98, so Patricia Seybold should rewrite.

    4-0 out of 5 stars An education in itself...
    Being a college student, I was at first reluctant to read Seybold's book as a class assignment. In hindsight, it's one of the best decisions I could've made. This book presents dynamic ideas that are being overlooked at universities today. Rather than focusing on the "how to's" Customers.com gives you the "why's" of the customer market. Talk about making me think! Not only did this book provide an excellent point of reference for class discussions, I found myself unconsciously transferring the knowledge into my job. One thing to take note of: THIS IS MORE THAN A TECHIES BOOK! Anyone in business will undoubtedly benefit from reading it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Remains solid
    Got this when it came out and gave it a read. Three years have passed and I just referred to it to support writing a paper on technology. The details are good and the higher level dialogue do a nice job of getting the message across without belaboring anything. If you are about the web and doing business, this is worth the bucks and time. ... Read more


    18. A Brief History of Everything
    by Ken Wilber, Steve Grad, Willow Pearson, Ken Wilbur, William Pearson
    list price: $34.95
    our price: $22.02
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1564559181
    Catlog: Book (2001-11-01)
    Publisher: Sounds True
    Sales Rank: 170681
    Average Customer Review: 4.18 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    A Brief History of Everything Ken Wilber Now available for the first time on audio, here is Ken Wilber’s concise account of our place in a universe of sex, soul, and spirit. Told in an accessible and entertaining question-and-answer format, A Brief History of Everything examines the course of evolution as the unfolding manifestation of Spirit, from matter to life to mind, including the higher stages of spiritual development where Spirit becomes conscious of itself. Wilber offers striking and original views on many topics, including gender relations, modern liberation movements, environmental ethics, the conflict between this-worldly and other-worldly approaches to spirituality, and much more. Read by Steve Grad and Willow Pearson. ... Read more

    Reviews (71)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great book that unifies wisdom from many sources.
    To me as a scientific minded person approaching spirituality but having a hard time integrating the two, this book was a landmark.

    Not only does the book give an excellent structure where all sorts of wisdom and knowledge may live side by side in a friendly manner, but on the personal level it helped me at least intellectually to unify various aspects of myself and my life.

    Lately I have read large amounts of buddhist texts, new as well as traditional. This book takes a wider perspective and helps me relate my spiritual understanding and experiences in framework where it can co-exist with everything else I know about biology, physics, psychology, etc.

    I recommend this book to everyone with an open mind that has the capacity to understand and grasp the subject and has any interest in science, psychology, philosophy, religion, history, feminism, biology.

    I have already one other book by Wilber in my book stack, and I'm sure I will at least buy and read a few more before I move on.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Insights of a Modern Sage
    Ken Wilber is one of the truly great wise men of our time. in this book he has given us a vast panoramic look at humankind's past, present, and possible future. primarily, he treats our spiritual nature and transpersonal potential. early in the book he writes, "i think the sages are the growing tip of the secret impulse of evolution. i think they are the leading edge of the self-transcending drive that always goes beyond what went before. i think they embody the very drive of the Kosmos toward greater depth and expanding consciousness. i think they are riding the edge of a light beam racing toward a rendezvous with God." he backs up this huge statement with a wise exploration of evolution, philosophy, history, psychology, systems theory, gods and goddesses, comparative religion, gaia theory, gender issues, great men and women of the past and much more. the question and answer format works well as he weaves into the tale interesting sidebars, humor, anecdotes, research and the musings of a modern mystic/seer/scholar. this book is something special and destined to be a classic in the field of human potential. whether you're an established Ken Wilber fan [as i am] or reading him for the first time, this book should be on your short-list of must read books. Enjoy!!!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking in some ways, but undertone of discomfort
    This is the first Ken Wilber book i have read. I read it because i had read somewhere else that this book espoused a viewpoint of how religions, societies, political systems, etc evolved. In fact, he does that. It is an interesting explaination. I get the sense however as i read this stuff that he is manufacturing this system. I almost feel that he is making up his own vocabulary, which generally gets in the way, to explain this.

    When i was much younger, i read quite a bit in the existential and sociological works area. This refreshed my memory of that exercise. You have to really dig down and spend some time thinking about this stuff to have a chance at grasping it. The question becomes whether it is worth it? Is there a benefit from spending a great deal of time reading this guy's works? I do not have simple answer. I know very little about the man himself. I guess the first question would be whether he himself has risen to some higher level of conciousness as a result of his deep thinking here? I do see some applications of thinking about various social, societal, inter-personal interactions. I just am not sure yet whether i buy into this framework of thought.

    5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best
    Ken Wilber shows us that although we all take different roads in life, we share a common direction in our development and evolution. He brings together a vast number of theories and observations and organizes them into one theory. It is quite amazing! Wilber has written many books on this subject but this is the one I would recommend people to read first. If you'd like a shorter, more simplified but extremely well-organized / well-articulated book that covers this material, I strongly suggest "The Ever-transcending Spirit" by Toru Sato. It also discusses practical implications of these ideas that make you feel like you could have saved a lot of hassle and confusion if you read it eariler in your life. Both Wilber and Sato are clearly two of the most advanced thinkers of our time.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Life-changing philosophy
    For any thinking person who's struggling with the schism between science, psychology and faith, this book has the answer. Mr. Wilber has an amazing mind, and in this book he simplifies his theoretical framework to make his brilliant thought easier to grasp. I disagree with the reader who complained about lack of references -- all the footnotes are available in his other works. This is the synthesis of his thought for those who want to understand, not those who want to nit-pick.

    For me, it's a life-changing book, showing the way to order my own thoughts and experiences. Wilber is the only writer I've come across, other than James Hillman, who helps me reconcile all my disparate reading and experience.

    In this book, he perfectly and succinctly outlines the growth process I see in my clients who are struggling to overcome dysfunction, find meaning in life and transcend their pasts.

    I am grateful for this book's influence in my thought, and in my work as a therapist. ... Read more


    19. Don't Know Much About History - Updated and Revised Edition : Everything You Need to Know about American History But Never Learned (Davis, Kenneth C. Don't Know Much.)
    by KENNETH C. DAVIS
    list price: $39.95
    our price: $26.37
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 073930397X
    Catlog: Book (2003-04-01)
    Publisher: Random House Audio
    Sales Rank: 93937
    Average Customer Review: 3.51 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    From Kenneth C. Davis, author of Don't Know Much About' Geography, Don't Know Much About' the Civil War, and Don't Know Much About' the Bible, comes a lively presentation of the phenomenal bestseller that has brought American history to life for hundreds of thousands of readers.

    From the first settlements of the continent through Vietnam, Watergate, and Reagan, Davis takes listeners on a rollicking ride through 600 years of Americana. With wit, candor, and fascinating facts, Don't Know Much About' History explodes long-held myths and misconceptions-revealing the very human side of history that the textbooks neglect.

    In this entertaining presentation, you'll meet the personalities who helped shape our nation and hear the words and wisdom that have endured through the centuries. From the French and Indian War to Vietnam, from George Washington to George Bush, here is the story of how we got to where we are today-and the questions that have plagued most of us since grade school are more interesting than ever before.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (104)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Informative and Entertaining - Lacking Some Basics?
    Having last studied American history in high school, I purchased this book in an attempt to understand the historical roots for our country's current political biases. Is our current foreign policy based on 200 years of fine tuning, or are we simply repeating mistakes from our past?

    This book provides useful information on the major events in America's history, and the author's question and answer style turns a potentially dry subject into an entertaining and fast-moving read. Mr. Davis also does an exceptional job of providing "softer" context around each event, enabling the reader to view and analyze our leader's decisions within the intellectual, philosophical, and social frameworks of their time.

    My one complaint about the book is that it, perhaps, presumes we know too much of the basics. While giant event descriptions are given more than adequate treatement (e.g. WWI and WWII), Mr. Davis sometimes debunks myth or presents the latest research for smaller happenings without providing basic facts (i.e. who was that guy, exactly?). Still, I was quite happy with the book, and would recommend it to anybody seeking an adult's perspective on our nation's past.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting and accessible
    I bought this book several years to help me prepare for the State Department's Foreign Service written exam. I was pretty confident in my knowledge of foreign affairs and European history, but less so about the events that had occurred right here in my own backyard for the past 200+ years. Well, it really helped! I particularly remember questions on the exam about the Monroe Doctrine, the Missouri Compromise, and Marbury v. Madison that I could not have answered had I not read this book. I passed the exam, which is one of the most draining tests I have ever taken. It's like a super-SAT for adults.

    Recently, I picked up this book again and thumbed through it. My one criticism is Davis's "anti-Manifest Destiny" rhetoric, which is true, I suppose, of most modern historians, with the exception, perhaps, of the incomparable Stephen E. Ambrose. General George A. Custer described as "probably deranged" is pure hokum revisionism! It's straight out of "Little Big Man," the 1968 movie with Dustin Hoffman. Anyhow, that's my one beef in an otherwise fun and engaging read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Contrast Needed
    Kenneth Davis' book about American history needs to be compared and contrasted with other recent American history books such as James Loewen's _Lies Across America_. Davis writes another US history including things which he considers everything you need to know, historical shortcomings. "Truth isn't cosmetically perfect, " he writes. Quite often history is skewed by myths and misconceptions.

    Davis writes along the traditional line of history from America's "'discovery' by Europe" to the Bill Clinton administration. His intention is to write a narrative that could be read from beginning to end and debunk myths and misconceptions along the way. In that regard he has done a good job. However Davis has a far gentler attitude than Loewen.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Good overview, but biased and editorial
    Davis writes a good overview of American history, summarizing some of the key and decisive events of the past. While no substitute for a text book, Davis makes interesting subject areas which have put generations of high school history students to sleep. As augmentation to a prescribed course of study, or as a refresher for a HS/college graduate, this book is worth reading.

    A word of caution. This is not a 'bare facts' history. Davis' writing style is heavily laced with very liberal editorialism. Davis also tends to insert his own opinions as fact. Overall he seems to view American history through liberal hindsight, rarely hesitating to impose his own value judgements on historical events and decisions made by political, military and business leaders.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Don't Know Much About History Indeed!
    First of all everyone has a bias & no one's on the same page as far as experiences, or books that they have read. I was at the bookstore and just wanted to have a coherent grasp of the Lincoln Assassination- the author could be right, I don't know...it's a little before my time, but the way Mr. Davis cavalierly tells us" The Warren Commission, got it right" Well..I guess then I'm Wilt Chamberlain..how many dozens of people have to come forward that were there,not conspiracy types, but trained medical personnelfor example etc, etc.. at every step of the way in that case-Mexico City,New Orleans, Bethesda Naval Hospital, Parkland Hospital for Davis to wake up and see something different transpired?I've read a couple books on Marilyn Monroe's death & I could not say with any certainty, whether she was murdered or not,it was probably suicide, yet with people like Jimmy Hoffa, Sam Giancana, Hoover, and Counter Intell. honcho James Jesus Angleton possibly monitoring her( all JFK enemies that have potentially interesting linkages to 11-22-63, as either suspects, or covering the case up) who can make a blanket statement of accidental overdose, or suicide? So...how can I put faith in Davis's judgement in other cases? ... Read more


    20. Jerusalem:One City,Three Faiths
    by Karen Armstrong
    list price: $25.95
    our price: $25.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 069451716X
    Catlog: Book (1996-06-01)
    Publisher: HarperAudio
    Sales Rank: 588429
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    The city of Jerusalem stands as a religious crossroads unlike any place in history. As such, it possesses a volatile chemistry that--as we are made painfully through news reports and television--explodes on a regular basis. Karen Armstrong, a former Roman Catholic nun who teaches Judaism and is an honorary member of the Association of Muslim Social Services, has compiled a thorough narrative of the city's fascinating 3,000-year history. Though she emphasizes the city's religious turning points, she recounts battles, earthquakes and various other events, such as invasions by the Romans and the Crusaders, just a millennium apart, that nearly wiped out the city. Her comprehensive explanations provide a context to the current strife in Israel. ... Read more

    Reviews (20)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A history and a meditation
    While this is a superb, fair-minded and empathetic history of the city which will be enlightening to all except very knowledgeable specialists, it is at the same time Karen Armstrong's meditation on the "sacred geography" conceived by the three faiths in its spiritual and its material form.She is very sympathetic to and receptive of the spiritual ideals of all three faiths, and is dismayed by how so often they have all been debased by bitter rivalries (between as well as within religions), by demands for exclusivity and domination, as well as by the "idolatry to see a shrine or a city as the ultimate goal of religion".This is something the wisest theologians - few, alas, in number - have taught.At the same time, however, a material shrine is one expression of one's spiritual identity, so that the perceived threat or the destruction of a shrine - let alone expulsions and exile - are experienced as violations of one's spiritual identity.She shows that the potency of religious symbolism is such that even secular nationalism (to which she perhaps does not pay quite enough attention) has recourse to it.She shows how the best periods in the history of the city have been those few when the rulers of one faith or ethnicity have respected the faith, ethnicity and buildings of another.She is not optimistic that such wisdom is available in Jerusalem in the near future.

    1-0 out of 5 stars One city, many religions
    Well, there are three contenders for whose city it is!Just ask Karen Armstrong.Should it be awarded to the evil Christians, who killed the Pagans and went back on the noble idea of refusing to consider mere terrain sacred?Obviously not.How about to the Pagans?No, of course not.They don't count at all, even though I must admit that Armstrong does refer to them a few times.How about to the Jews?No, these folks are just interlopers who had to invent arbitrary myths to pretend that they cared at all about the place, much less had a right to be there.The winners are ... (envelope please!) ... the Muslims!The Muslim Arabs had no need to invent any myths to "fuel their struggle" because Jerusalem was theirs like a spouse.I wonder if Karen will award Paris to the Germans next.

    I was hoping to see a more sympathetic treatment of Aelia Capitolina.Still, I wasn't shocked by Armstrong's lack of concern for the polytheists: she seemed to discuss them only to complain about the Christians.But I was surprised to see Armstrong trying to mislead her readers into thinking that Jerusalem is Arab by right and is in the process of being wickedly Judaized.After all, as even Karen states, Jerusalem was over 60% Jewish by 1900.And, in fact, the Jewish percentage of the city hasn't changed much since then, even though the surrounding area has become far more Jewish.This sort of blatant bias made Armstrong look more like a Hamas gun moll than a serious scholar.

    There are plenty of facts in this book, but Armstrong's tendency to invert truth makes it appear that she wrote the book just to attack the human rights of a few non-Muslims.Avoid this paean to hatred, racism and intolerance.

    5-0 out of 5 stars All Sides of the Story
    In books concerning hot conflicts like the Middle East, it is commonplace to cover only part of the story or to concentrate on one set of events more so than others.This is understandable of course since most people with adequate interest in a topic typically have made up their minds and favor one of the conflicting sides.Not so with this book.I read this book with a critical eye, begging to find any evidence that the author is partial to anyone anyone, but in all of the 430 pages I could not find a single biased reference nor any significant omissions.By writing this wonderful comprehensive and well-researched history of Jerusalem, Karen Armstrong has done all of us concerned about the city a great favor.Throughout the 5000-year history of the city, this book describes in an unbiased tone the enormously interesting history of this hotly contested city.Many remarkable and little-known facts are can be found here.For example, I was surprised to learn that the history of Jerusalem extended for 2000 years before King David, its purported "founder".The book covers all the different eras of the city: the Canaanite, Egyptian, Israelite, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, Muslim, and Crusader eras.The last two chapters focus on the 20th century history of the city.

    Though the author was a former catholic nun, she displays no bias whatsoever towards Christianity.The book displays the history of the city equally from the points of view of all three religious groups that care about it: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.Thus the book dwells in detail about the extreme agony of the Jews for their loss of the city and their being forbidden to enter it during Byzantine Roman rule.The book also illustrates the relative tolerance of early Islam and how Jews for the first time were allowed to return to Jerusalem under Islamic rule and coexist in peace with Christians and Muslims.If the author displays a bias against anyone, it is against extremists from all religions who are today fanning the flames of conflict and threatening the peace of the city.

    The book is a definite page-turner, packed full of information, and well worth a read if you cared about understanding the "whys" and the "how comes" behind the daily headlines.

    If you liked this book, you'll like Karen Armstrong's other books, especially "A History of God" which, surprisingly, contains little repetition or overlap with this book, unlike many similarly prolific authors.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Biblically Inaccurate
    I was unable to finish this book because Karen Armstrong's Biblical references are so glaringly wrong.She has the God of the Old Testament splitting a sea monster in half during creation, and Isaiah telling King Ahaz that the Messiah will be his Queen's unborn son, just to name a few.I eventually came to the conclusion that if her Biblical references cannot be trusted, how can I trust that the rest of her research is correct as well?I don't know what Bible she was reading, but it wasn't the Judaic/Christian one!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting from an historical point of view
    I walked into this book having read several of Karen Armstrong's books, so I knew of her leanings that other reviewers have pointed out. Of course, if you are going to write about three major faiths, it is natural to expect some bias towards one of them. That aside, I found her history to be very interesting and helped put this city into a perspective I had not had before. She shows how an off the beaten path city became one of the most important places for three of the world's religions, and a contentious site of conflict. What Armstrong does well is to show the shifting lines that have occurred between areas of the city as various religious powers came to control. But more importantly she brings the various pieces of Jerusalem and puts them in a coherent organized narrative. Many of the places mentioned in the bible are put into perspective with each other, and their historical changes are traced over time. Even more useful is that the author generously includes maps throughout the book to show the changes and shifting lines of groups throughout time. As someone who knew little about the geography of Jerusalem, I found this to help keep all the players and movements straight. The book lags at points but overall moves very well through the centuries. This is an excellent overview history of this holy city and would be a very good introduction to the reader wishing to know more. It should not be the only book you read on the region, but rather use it as one view of the history which has brought us to the modern religious conflicts of the area. ... Read more


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