So-so. Worth reading if you're not otherwise familiar with the story of the Lusitania.
Erik Larson can write, no doubt about that. I've enjoyed many of his previous offerings, especially In the Garden of Beasts. But I found Dead Wake too predictable, often annoyingly so. It is typical of the disaster nonfiction narrative: identify the main protagonists, devote alternating chapters to each of them to move the story along and build the suspense, sprinkle in lots of human interest stories about the victims and survivors, recount the disaster in excruciating detail, consider all the "what ifs," and then finish up with rest-of-life details about the survivors.
Amazing survival story.
Born to a middle-class, nonobservant Jewish family, Beer was a popular teenager and successful law student when the Nazis moved into Austria. In a well-written narrative that reads like a novel, she relates the escalating fear and humiliating indignities she and others endured, as well as the anti-Semitism of friends and neighbors. Using all their resources, her family bribed officials for exit visas for her two sisters, but Edith and her mother remained, due to lack of money and Edith's desire to be near her half-Jewish boyfriend, Pepi. Eventually, Edith was deported to work in a labor camp in Germany. Anxious about her mother, she obtained permission to return to Vienna, only to learn that her mother was gone. In despair, Edith tore off her yellow star and went underground. Pepi, himself a fugitive, distanced himself from her. A Christian friend gave Edith her own identity papers, and Edith fled to Munich, where she met and, despite her confession to him that she was Jewish, married Werner Vetter, a Nazi party member. Submerging her Jewish identity at home and at work, Edith lived in constant fear, even refusing anesthetic in labor to avoid inadvertently revealing the truth about her past. She successfully maintained the facade of a loyal German hausfrau until the war ended. Her story is important both as a personal testament and as an inspiring example of perseverance in the face of terrible adversity.
In 2006, the Vatican opened its archives on the papacy of Pius XI. Drawing on these newly available materials, Kertzer sheds new light on the relationship, indeed partnership, of Fascism and the Vatican. By Kertzer's account, the 1920s and 1930s were not the papacy's finest hour.
In a challenge to the conventional history of this period, in which a heroic Church does battle with the Fascist regime, Kertzer shows how Pius XI played a crucial role in making Benito Mussolini’s dictatorship possible and keeping him in power. In exchange for Vatican support, Mussolini restored many of the privileges the Church had lost and gave in to the pope’s demands that the police enforce Catholic morality. Yet in the last years of his life—as the Italian dictator grew ever closer to Hitler—the pontiff’s faith in this treacherous bargain started to waver. With his health failing, he began to lash out at the Duce and threatened to denounce Mussolini’s anti-Semitic racial laws before it was too late. Horrified by the threat to the Church-Fascist alliance, the Vatican’s inner circle, including the future Pope Pius XII, struggled to restrain the headstrong pope from destroying a partnership that had served both the Church and the dictator for many years.
Not quite the full biography I was hoping for but still worth reading.
For seven decades Katharine Hepburn played a leading role in the popular culture of the twentieth century - reigning as an admired actress, a beloved movie star, and a treasured icon of the modern American woman. She also remained one of the most private of all the public figures of her time.
In 1983 - at the age of seventy-five, her career cresting - the four-time Academy Award winner opened the door to biographer A. Scott Berg - then thirty-three - and began a special friendship, one that endured to the end of her illustrious life.
From the start, Scott Berg felt that Katharine Hepburn intended his role to be not just that of a friend but also of a chronicler, a confidant who might record for posterity her thoughts and feelings. Over the next twenty years, Kate used their many hours together to reveal all that came to mind, often reflecting on the people and episodes of her past, occasionally on the meaning of life.
Here are the stories from those countless intimate conversations, and much more. In addition to recording heretofore untold biographical details of her entire phenomenal career and her famous relationships with such men as Spencer Tracy and Howard Hughes, Kate Remembered also tells the amusing, often emotional story of one of the most touching friendships in her final years. Scott Berg provides his own memories of Katharine Hepburn offstage - quiet dinners in her town house in New York City, winter swims (she swam, he watched) in the Long Island Sound at Fenwick, her home in Connecticut, weekend visits with family members and dear friends...even some unusual appearances by the likes of Michael Jackson and Warren Beatty. Finally, Kate Remembered discusses the legendary actress's moving farewell, during which her mighty personality surrendered at last to her failing body - all the while remaining true to her courageous character.
Kate Remembered is a book about love and friendship, family and career, Hollywood and Broadway - all punctuated by unforgettable lessons from an extraordinary life.
It's by Kissinger; of course it's good. Hard to believe this is his first book-length treatment of China.
In On China, Kissinger examines key episodes in Chinese foreign policy from the classical era to the present day, with a particular emphasis on the decades since the rise of Mao Zedong. He illuminates the inner workings of Chinese diplomacy during such pivotal events as the initial encounters between China and modern European powers, the formation and breakdown of the Sino-Soviet alliance, the Korean War, Richard Nixon's historic trip to Beijing, and three crises in the Taiwan Straits. Drawing on his extensive personal experience with four generation of Chinese leaders, he brings to life towering figures such as Mao, Zhou Enlai, and Deng Xiaoping, revealing how their different visions have shaped China's modern destiny.
With all that has been written about Hitler, one would think there isn't anything new to write about. Mark Felton has managed to offer up something fresh and interesting.
Based on intelligence documents, personal testimonies, memoirs and official histories, including material only declassified in 2010, Guarding Hitler provides a fascinating inside look at the secret world of Hitler's security and domestic arrangements. The book focuses in particular on both the official and private life of Hitler during the latter part of the war, at the Wolfs Lair at Rastenburg, and Hitler's private residence at Berchtesgaden, the Berghof.
Guarding Hitler manages to offer fresh insights into the life and routine of the Fuhrer, and most importantly the often indiscreet opinions, observations and activities of the 'little people' who surrounded Hitler but whose stories have been overshadowed by the great affairs of state.
It covers not only the plots against Hitler's life but the way security developed as a result. His use of 'doubles' is examined as is security while traveling by land or air. As little has been written about the security and domestic life of Adolf Hitler, Guarding Hitler allows the reader to delve deeper into this previously overlooked but nonetheless fascinating aspect of the world's most infamous man.
Couldn't put it down--it was that good.
A real-life political thriller about an American financier in the Wild East of Russia, the murder of his principled young tax attorney, and his dangerous mission to expose the Kremlin’s corruption.
Bill Browder’s journey started on the South Side of Chicago and moved through Stanford Business School to the dog-eat-dog world of hedge fund investing in the 1990s. It continued in Moscow, where Browder made his fortune heading the largest investment fund in Russia after the Soviet Union’s collapse. But when he exposed the corrupt oligarchs who were robbing the companies in which he was investing, Vladimir Putin turned on him and, in 2005, had him expelled from Russia.
In 2007, a group of law enforcement officers raided Browder’s offices in Moscow and stole $230 million of taxes that his fund’s companies had paid to the Russian government. Browder’s attorney Sergei Magnitsky investigated the incident and uncovered a sprawling criminal enterprise. A month after Sergei testified against the officials involved, he was arrested and thrown into pre-trial detention, where he was tortured for a year. On November 16, 2009, he was led to an isolation chamber, handcuffed to a bedrail, and beaten to death by eight guards in full riot gear.
Browder glimpsed the heart of darkness, and it transformed his life: he embarked on an unrelenting quest for justice in Sergei’s name, exposing the towering cover-up that leads right up to Putin. A financial caper, a crime thriller, and a political crusade, Red Notice is the story of one man taking on overpowering odds to change the world.
Based on the title, I was expecting something more comprehensive but this was almost entirely devoted to a critique of Fawn Brodie's No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, published first in 1945. Much of the ground covered by Wixom has been plowed and replowed. Don't waste your time.
Superb. Best book I have read so far this year. Not so much a biography as a collection of essays about Churchill's character and legacy. Johnson's facility with his subject is remarkable and his writing is fresh and witty.
This from the concluding chapter:
"For several decades now it has been fashionable to say that the so-called great men and women are just epiphenomena, meretricious bubbles on the vast tides of social history. The real story, on this view, is about deep economic forces, technological advances, changes in the price of sorgum, the overwhelming weight of an infinite number of mundane human actions.
"Well, I think the story of Winston Churchill is a pretty withering retort to all that malarky. He, and he alone, made the difference.
"It is easy to think of a few other people who have made a colossal impact on world history but almost always for the worse: Hitler, Lenin, etc. How many others can you think of who have been decisive for the better, who have personally tilted the scales of fate in the direction of freedom and hope.
"Not many, I bet: and that is because when history needed it, in 1940, there was only one man who possessed the Churchill Factor; and having spent quite some time now considering the question, I am finally with those who think there has been no one remotely like him before or since."
Good, but not as good as Ash's Shaken Faith Syndrome.
Terrific biography and, perhaps more importantly, inspiring. Every young girl should read this book. Albright smashed the glass ceiling to become the first female Secretary of State, and for good reason.
For eight years, during Bill Clinton's two presidential terms, Albright was a high-level participant in some of the most dramatic events of our time—from the pursuit of peace in the Middle East to NATO's intervention in the Balkans to America's troubled relations with Iran and Iraq. Albright reflects on her remarkable personal story, including her upbringing in war-torn Europe and the balancing of career and family responsibilities, and on America's leading role in a changing world.
Richard Wagner for dummies like me. I enjoyed this as much as Berger's Puccini Without Excuses.
The remarkable story of and struggle for the Bible becoming available to all.
From the introduction:
"The story of the Bible's writing, preservation, and translation is a fascinating one filled with intrigue, discovery, and adventure. In the end, though, William Tyndale's dream--and that of Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin; and of Martin Luther, who translated the Bible into German; and of Cameron Townsend, who founded Wycliffe Bible Translators--of the Bible's being available to everyone was a dream that changed the world. It was a dream that had a transforming effect on England and the English language. And it has had an effect on societies around the globe."
I was inspired to re-read this after seeing the trailer for Ron Howard's soon-to-be released movie adaptation. In the Heart of the Sea is the true story that inspired Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Great, almost unbelievable story, and very well told.
Great intro to Puccini's life and most famous operas.
From Publisher's Weekly:
"Puccini, the celebrated composer of La Bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly (together, the three make up perhaps a quarter of all U.S. opera performances) is often regarded as a "guilty pleasure," too melodic, too "easy." Not so fast, says William Berger, who proceeds to demonstrate exactly why attention must be paid. This is the third in the amusing, educational opera series by the popular NPR commentator and radio host, following Wagner Without Fear and Verdi with a Vengeance. The informal, sometimes slangy tone assumes readers' ignorance (but willingness to learn) and coaches them in everything they need to know. The formula follows that of the earlier books: first, a brief biography of the artist; then a breakdown of each opera (eight here) with comments, introducing the characters and explaining what kind of singer each part calls for; then an act-by-act summary with instructions on what to watch and listen for. Next, Berger veers off into three idiosyncratic essays, including one on Puccini's influence on modern show biz (on Bohème knockoffs: Moulin Rouge was good; Rent, not so much). Then it's back to instruction: singers to recognize, recordings to buy or rent, books to read and a glossary of musical terms, many Italian."
Skip the first three chapters and then dive right in. Well worth reading. We all have crises of faith and struggle with doubt. The Givens offer up much food for thought and comfort.
Terryl Givens holds the James A. Bostwick chair of English and is Professor of Literature and Religion at the University of Richmond and the author of several books. His writing has been praised by the New York Times as provocative reading and includes, most recently, When Souls Had Wings, a history of the idea of premortal life in Western thought; a biography (with Matthew Grow) of Parley Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism (winner of the 2012 Best Book Award from the Mormon History Association); and Wrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought. Fiona Givens is a retired modern language teacher with undergraduate degrees in French and German and a graduate degree in European History. She is now an independent scholar who has published in several journals and reviews in Mormon studies, including Journal of Mormon History, Exponent II, and LDS Living. Along with Terryl, she is the author of The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life. Terryl and Fiona are the grandparents of five fonts of delight; and the parents of six sources of intellectual challenge and inspiration.
Outstanding. George H.W. Bush holds a special place in my heart. He was the first presidential candidate for whom I actively campaigned. I esteemed him then and esteem him now as a man of integrity, a model public servant. Here in 41, we get a sense that he was also a model father.
Forty-three men have served as President of the United States. Countless books have been written about them. But never before has a President told the story of his father, another President, through his own eyes and in his own words. A unique and intimate biography, 41 covers the entire scope of the elder President Bush’s life and career, including his service in the Pacific during World War II, his pioneering work in the Texas oil business, and his political rise as a Congressman, U.S. Representative to China and the United Nations, CIA Director, Vice President, and President. The book shines new light on both the accomplished statesman and the warm, decent man known best by his family. In addition, George W. Bush discusses his father’s influence on him throughout his own life, from his childhood in West Texas to his early campaign trips with his father, and from his decision to go into politics to his own two-term Presidency.
My Book Report for 2014:
Five Best Reads in 2014:
Five Worst Reads in 2014:
Brilliant. Creamer was one of my favorite sportswriters. He died in 2012.
From its original publication in 1984, Creamer's superb portrait of one of the game's most cherished characters was quickly acknowledged as a masterwork of sports biography. Its opening line--"Casey Stengel naked was a sight to remember"--helped establish the complex and often contradictory personality that Creamer strips from its façade by work's end. Stengel worked to build his image as the game's crazy clown prince, but he was always crazy like a fox, remarkably resilient, quietly brilliant, and always entertaining, from the day he broke into the majors with Brooklyn in 1912 to the afternoon he finally hung up his uniform as the loveable manager of the hapless Mets in 1964. His record of success as manager of the Yankee juggernaut from 1949 to 1960 remains one of baseball's unapproachable legacies: 10 pennants and seven World Series titles, including five in a row. "Casey could be wildly amusing," Creamer writes, stating the obvious, "but," he continues, "there was a burning ambition in him too." By displaying the former--especially in the form of his own confusing use of words, dubbed Stengelese by the beat writers whose job it was to interpret him--Stengel was able to let the latter sneak up on the opposition undetected. It was part of his myth and part of his mystery, both of which Creamer exposes with great skill, real respect, and obvious affection.
The internet is more than a technological and cultural phenomenon, it is also a neurological phenomenon. Nicholas Carr argues that is has affected the way our brains work, and not always for the better.
This from Donna Seaman's review for Booklist:
"Carr—author of The Big Switch (2007) and the much-discussed Atlantic Monthly story 'Is Google Making Us Stupid?'—is an astute critic of the information technology revolution. Here he looks to neurological science to gauge the organic impact of computers, citing fascinating experiments that contrast the neural pathways built by reading books versus those forged by surfing the hypnotic Internet, where portals lead us on from one text, image, or video to another while we’re being bombarded by messages, alerts, and feeds. This glimmering realm of interruption and distraction impedes the sort of comprehension and retention 'deep reading' engenders, Carr explains. And not only are we reconfiguring our brains, we are also forging a 'new intellectual ethic,' an arresting observation Carr expands on while discussing Google’s gargantuan book digitization project. What are the consequences of new habits of mind that abandon sustained immersion and concentration for darting about, snagging bits of information? What is gained and what is lost? Carr’s fresh, lucid, and engaging assessment of our infatuation with the Web is provocative and revelatory."
The definitive account of North Korea, from the former Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council.
Though it is much discussed and often maligned, precious little is known or understood about North Korea, the world's most controversial and isolated country. In The Impossible State, seasoned international-policy expert and lauded scholar Victor Cha pulls back the curtain, providing the best look yet at North Korea's history, the rise of the Kim family dynasty, and the obsessive personality cult that empowers them. He illuminates the repressive regime's complex economy and culture, its appalling record of human-rights abuses, and its belligerent relationship with the United States, and analyzes the regime's major security issues—from the seemingly endless war with its southern neighbor to its frightening nuclear ambitions.
Woodrow Wilson sheds light on Wilson's upbringing and career, from the grim determination that enabled him to overcome dyslexia to the skillful dance of isolationism and intervention in World War I to the intransigence that--despite his most cherished vision--caused the Senate's rejection of the League of Nations. Here, from the dynamic figure whose ringing speeches hypnotized vast crowds to the gentle voice reading poetry aloud and the comic star of family skits and charades to the rising academic and president of Princeton who made the giant leap into politics are all the triumphs and final tragic irony of this flawed apostle of world peace.
Famed Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal once called the East German secret police--the Stasi (Ministry of State Security)--"worse than [Hitler's] Gestapo. The Gestapo had 40,000 officials watching a country of 80 million, while the Stasi employed 102,000 to control only 17 million."
Like a giant octopus, the Stasi's tentacles probed every aspect of life. Full-time officers were posted to all major industrial plants. Without exception, one tenant in every apartment building was designated as a watchdog reporting to an area representative of the Volkspolizei (Vopo), the People's Police. In turn, the police officer was the Stasi's man. If a relative or friend came to stay overnight, it was reported. Schools, universities, and hospitals were infiltrated from top to bottom. German academe was shocked to learn that Heinrich Fink, professor of theology and vice chancellor at East Berlin's Humboldt University, had been a Stasi informer since 1968. After Fink's Stasi connections came to light, he was summarily fired. Doctors, lawyers, journalists, writers, actors, and sports figures were co-opted by Stasi officers, as were waiters and hotel personnel. Tapping about 100,000 telephone lines in West Germany and West Berlin around the clock was the job of 2,000 officers.
John Koehler was both Berlin bureau chief of the Associated Press during the height of the Cold War and a U.S. Army Intelligence officer. His insider’s account is based on primary sources, such as U.S. intelligence files, Stasi documents made available only to the author, and extensive interviews with victims of political oppression, former Stasi officers, and West German government officials. Drawing from these sources, Koehler's book is likely the definitive account of East Germany's secret police apparatus.
Good reading, though the authors seem at pains to deny Marshall the full credit he is rightly due.
This from Jordan Michael Smith's review in The Boston Globe:
"Former President Harry Truman was asked in 1961 to name the American who had made the greatest contribution to the country over the preceding 30 years. Truman didn’t hesitate in his answer. 'George C. Marshall would be my pick,' he said.
"Marshall, he pointed out, had been Army chief of staff during World War II, transforming a weak military to the world’s strongest and promoting Eisenhower from obscurity to D-Day commander. Marshall had also acted brilliantly both as ambassador to China and as secretary of state. 'In each of those jobs he did an outstanding job,' Truman said. And yet, the former president continued, Marshall was not recognized for his achievements because he refused to do what everyone else in Washington did: promote himself.
"All of Marshall’s efforts are recalled in Debi and Irwin Unger’s new biography. But the magnitude of his achievements goes almost unnoticed. It’s as if Marshall still needs additional PR to get the laurels he so justly merits.
"Whenever possible, the authors downplay or outright ignore the significance of Marshall’s work. In disputing Winston Churchill’s reference to Marshall as the 'organizer of victory' in World War II, they grant that the 'enormous difficulties and challenges he faced — the embedded individualistic American values, the nation’s cultural diversity, its provincialism and regionalism, the severe time constraints events imposed — must be kept in mind.' Nonetheless, 'his training of an army ground force for combat was not an outstanding success.' Although, '[p]erhaps, considering the task of creating a mass army virtually overnight, the result could not have been different.'
"In fact, it could have been different — it could have been far worse. Marshall turned what was an army of 200,000 ill-trained, ill-equipped men in 1939 into one of 8.5 million six years later. It was a huge bureaucratic task, and it was done while identifying and elevating men like Eisenhower through the ranks, dealing with Congress and the British, and, not least, strategizing about how to defeat the Japanese and Nazis simultaneously.
"Ah yes, but 'Marshall delegated much of the actual day-to-day training process,' the Ungers write. Given that his management process was to identify talented men in the War Department and empower them, as the authors recognize, this would seem a distinction without a difference. Similarly, the Ungers off-handedly decide that what has come to be called the 'Marshall Memorandum' really 'was not his alone.' After all, it 'had been worked on and worked over by Eisenhower and several planning staffers.' Since we were told two pages earlier that Ike had been a 'fifty-one-year-old officer whose talents Marshall had spotted at the 1941 General Headquarters maneuvers, had befriended, and had recently brought to Washington to head the Army’s War Plans Division,' denying Marshall credit for the blueprint for Operation Overlord is churlish and misleading. What makes it particularly galling is that Marshall’s integrity outweighed even his military, strategic, and diplomatic skills. And the authors persistently overlook and misrepresent the general’s motivations and actions to undermine this.
"President Franklin Roosevelt created the rank of five-star general for Marshall, concerned that the British and other nations’ five-star military leaders would condescend to the highest-ranking American officer for having only four. Marshall spoke against the honor, saying that he never felt inferior and that, if such a rank were to be established, it should go to whoever won final victory over the Japanese, not someone mid-war. In telling this story, the book fails to credit Marshall for his modesty — he effectively argued against his own promotion.
"Marshall’s hallmark modesty becomes passive-aggressiveness in the Ungers’s fingers. FDR gave Marshall the chance to lead the Normandy invasion. But Marshall demurred, repeating only that whomever the president picked to run the operations would sit well with Marshall. Eisenhower was instead chosen as D-Day commander — the president wanted Marshall beside him in Washington. Marshall never complained about the choice.
"The book calls this 'pride.' It reads: 'The decision to command Overlord had been his to make; Roosevelt would have gone along if he made had his preference clear and emphatic. But to have done so, as Marshall’s biographer Mark Stoler writes, would have violated his ‘sense of honor and duty’ and also have blemished his self-crafted persona.' Marshall’s selflessness is portrayed not as a virtue but a flaw.
"Roosevelt once fretted to Eisenhower that posterity would not sufficiently revere Marshall. Only experts could recall who served as Lincoln’s chief of staff, but everybody knew the names of Grant, Lee, and Sherman, FDR noticed that he 'hated ‘to think’ . . . that fifty years from now practically nobody will know who George Marshall was.' George Marshall: A Biography implicitly suggests that Roosevelt need not have worried — Marshall didn’t deserve to be remembered as a great man. How wrong it is."
Technorati Tags: Debi Unger, Franklin Roosevelt, George C. Marshall, George Marshall: A Biography, Harry Truman, Irwin Unger, Jordan Michael Smith, rabid reader, rick e. Hansen, rickehansen, Stanley Hirshson, The Boston Globe, the rabid reader blog, World WAR II
Average. I was looking for more of an in-depth history of the Stasi and this is what I would call human interest journalism.
During its 40-year history, the German Democratic Republic--East Germany--was, with Soviet assistance, the perfect police state. The organ of surveillance within the GDR (as well as foreign intelligence activities) was the Stasi, which, better than any other modern secret police, had organized a large army of citizen informers. Funder documents that culture of domestic spying and its effects on a cross-section of East German society.
In his day, William E. Borah was regarded as the Dean of the United States Senate. He was a nonconformist par excellance: a Republican by inheritance, a Democrat by inclination; just "plain Bill" to his constituents, an intellectual recluse to his colleagues, a staunch Progressive, and an opponent of the New Deal; a relentless enemy of the League of Nations, yet sponsor of the Foundation to Outlaw War; an isolationist who fought for recognition; a moralist who opposed the Child Labor Amendment.
So far as I know, this is the only available full-length biography of Borah. The pages of this book are crowded with many of the most recognizable names from the first half of the twentieth century: Theodore an Franklin Roosevelt, LaFollette, Bryan, Wilson, Lodge, Knox, Stimson, Coolidge, and Hoover.
Drawing from the very best of Hugh Nibley, this collection of excerpts feels more like a guided tour through a brilliant mind than a quote book. Arranged thematically, it covers the highlights of Nibley's best thinking and writing on everything from the Creation, through ancient people, times, and documents, to modern-day prophets and righteous living today.
Two features give great insight into the man and his life's work: a very personal life sketch about Hugh Nibley written by his grandson, and an introduction about Nibley's contribution to LDS literature and scholarship, his unique dynamic within the Church, and his abiding testimony. With highlights drawn from nearly 10,000 pages of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, The Essential Nibley shows how Nibley continues to give thinkers something to believe in and believers something to think about, even today.
Superb. Won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction in 2007.
Wright’s remarkable book is based on five years of research and hundreds of interviews that he conducted in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, England, France, Germany, Spain, and the United States.
The Looming Tower plots the path to 9/11 through the interweaving lives of four men: the two leaders of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri; the FBI’s counterterrorism chief, John O’Neill; and the former head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki al-Faisal.
As these lives unfold, we see revealed: the crosscurrents of modern Islam that helped to radicalize Zawahiri and bin Laden . . . the birth of al-Qaeda and its unsteady development into an organization capable of the American embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and the attack on the USS Cole . . . O’Neill’s heroic efforts to track al-Qaeda before 9/11, and his tragic death in the World Trade towers . . . Prince Turki’s transformation from bin Laden’s ally to his enemy . . . the failures of the FBI, CIA, and NSA to share intelligence that might have prevented the 9/11 attacks.
A "life hack" is any procedure or action that solves a problem, simplifies a task, and reduces frustration in one's everyday life. Keith Bradford has compiled 1,000 of the very best life hacks. Fun to read. Some of my favorites:
It is hard to believe this is a true story. Imagine living in a country in which a misplaced magazine means certain imprisonment and possibly even death. Fascinating and a bit of a nail biter too. Good reading.
Jang Jin-sung was a State Poet Laureate of North Korea. As such, he led a charmed life. With extra food provisions (even as the country suffered through its great famine), a travel pass, access to strictly censored information, and audiences with Kim Jong-il himself, his life in Pyongyang seemed safe and secure. But this privileged existence was shattered when he lent a strictly forbidden magazine to a friend and the magazine went missing. Jang Jin-sung and his friend fled North Korea to save their lives.
Never before has a member of the elite described the inner workings of this totalitarian state and its propaganda machine. Dear Leader is a rare insight into one of world’s most secretive and repressive regimes. It is also a thrilling escape story.
A terrific resource for all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons).
In today's Internet-savvy world an increasing number of Latter-day Saints are encountering anti-Mormon material. Since most members don't have all the answers at their fingertips, LDS-critical claims can be unsettling or create doubt. Some arguments have caused members to lose their faith.
Backed by extensive research and decades of experience dealing with anti-Mormon allegations, Michael Ash explores how members can be both rational thinkers and devout believers.
This second edition of Ash's widely successful Shaken Faith Syndrome includes more than 50 additional pages of material such as up-to-date highlights from scholarly studies that support the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham, more discussion on how our brains and emotions handle challenging issues, and a brand new chapter on race issues and the Church.
For struggling members, or family and friends of struggling members, this is the "go-to" book for understanding the emotional turmoil that accompanies testimony-damage, and provides answers and resources to resolve the doubts which can impair faith.
Technorati Tags: Book of Mormon, FairMormon, Joseph Smith, Michael R. Ash, Mormon, rabid reader blog, Rick E. Hansen, rickehansen, Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One's Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt, the rabid reader , www.fairmormon.org, www.shakenfaithsyndrome.com
If you didn't know better, you'd think John Grisham had made this story up. But, alas, in this legal battle fact is stranger than fiction. Could it possibly be that a big oil company is the victim of a massive fraud? You bet, and Barrett tells why. This is no puff piece either; Barrett is a reticent convert to Chevron's point of view. From the book jacket:
"Steven Donziger, a self-styled social activist and Harvard educated lawyer, signed on to a budding class action lawsuit against multinational Texaco (which later merged with Chevron to become the third-largest corporation in America). The suit sought reparations for the Ecuadorian peasants and tribes people whose lives were affected by decades of oil production near their villages and fields. During twenty years of legal hostilities in federal courts in Manhattan and remote provincial tribunals in the Ecuadorian jungle, Donziger and Chevron’s lawyers followed fierce no-holds-barred rules. Donziger, a larger-than-life, loud-mouthed showman, proved himself a master orchestrator of the media, Hollywood, and public opinion. He cajoled and coerced Ecuadorian judges on the theory that his noble ends justified any means of persuasion. And in the end, he won an unlikely victory, a $19 billion judgment against Chevon--the biggest environmental damages award in history. But the company refused to surrender or compromise. Instead, Chevron targeted Donziger personally, and its counter-attack revealed damning evidence of his politicking and manipulation of evidence. Suddenly the verdict, and decades of Donziger’s single-minded pursuit of the case, began to unravel.
"Written with the texture and flair of the best narrative nonfiction, Law of the Jungle is an unputdownable story in which there are countless victims, a vast region of ruined rivers and polluted rainforest, but very few heroes."
Law of the Jungle is a terrific tale terrifically told.
Technorati Tags: Chevron, Ecuador, Law of the Jungle: The $19 Billion Legal Battle Over Oil in the Rain Forest and the Lawyer Who'd Stop at Nothing to Win, Paul M. Barrett, rabid reader blog, rick e. hansen, rickehansen, Steven Donziger, the rabid reader
Easily one of the best books I have read this year. Outstanding mix of biography, history, and journalism.
Lawrence Wright takes readers through each of the thirteen days of the Camp David conference, illuminating the issues that have made the problems of the region so intractable, as well as exploring the scriptural narratives that continue to frame the conflict. In addition to his in-depth accounts of the lives of the three leaders--Carter, Sadat, and Begin, Wright draws vivid portraits of other fiery personalities who were present at Camp David––including Moshe Dayan, Osama el-Baz, and Zbigniew Brzezinski––as they work furiously behind the scenes. Wright also explores the significant role played by Rosalynn Carter.
What emerges is a riveting view of the making of this unexpected and so far unprecedented peace. Wright exhibits the full extent of Carter’s persistence in pushing an agreement forward, the extraordinary way in which the participants at the conference—many of them lifelong enemies—attained it, and the profound difficulties inherent in the process and its outcome, not the least of which has been the still unsettled struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
The Second World War spawned new technologies, new freedoms, new terrors, a new world order, and new legal issues. This book takes a global perspective in looking at the legal situations in seven major countries affected by the war. Fifty legal issues are identified from the war, ranging from subverting the judiciary and creating a divine military to economic and social issues to genocide and nuclear weapons. Includes short profiles of more than 300 lawyers and judges, from more than 20 countries around the world.
Thomas J. Shaw, Esq., is an internationally-known attorney and frequent author on legal topics from a global perspective.
Among the autobiographies of generals and presidents, the Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant is widely regarded as the greatest.
It is even more impressive in light of the circumstances in which it was created: Faced with terminal cancer, virtual bankruptcy, and a family he would leave without means of support, he took the advice of his publisher, Mark Twain--yes, the Mark Twain--and went to work. He completed the manuscript in eleven months-and died a week later, on July 23, 1885.
Frank and unpretentious, Grant's memoirs tell the story of his boyhood in Ohio, his graduation from West Point, and the military campaigns in the West and Mexico that ended with his disgraceful resignation and a return to Illinois, where he ran the family store. Soon, however, began the rebellion that broke the Union and recast Grant's fortune, transforming him into the leader of the victorious Union armies in the War Between the States and giving him the perspective to describe intimately the capture of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, the battles of Shiloh, Corinth, Vicksburg, the bloody Wilderness campaign, and Appomattox. Here is Grant the tactician, the alcoholic, the plain and tough professional soldier, the ideal commander-but most of all here is Grant the writer as he assesses himself and the events that forged his character, as well as that of the nation.
George MacRae, a professor of religion at Harvard university, once commented, in referring to Hugh Nibley: “It is simply obscene that a person knows this much.”
As one of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints's most widely recognized scholars, Hugh Nibley is both an icon and an enigma. Through complete access to Nibley's correspondence, journals, notes and papers, Petersen has painted a portrait that reveals the man behind the legend. Starting with a foreword written by Zina Nibley Peterson (the author's wife and Nibley's daughter) and finishing with appendixes that include some of the best of Nibley's personal correspondence, the biography reveals aspects of the tapestry of the life of one who has truly consecrated his life to the service of the Lord.
Winner of the Mormon History Association Best Biography award.
So true. PowerPoint just might be the most abused and ineffective medium of communication. It is a crutch that promotes sloppy thinking, lazy preparation, and dull presentations.
With over 500 million users worldwide, Microsoft’s PowerPoint software has become the ubiquitous tool for nearly all forms of public presentation—in schools, government agencies, the military, and, of course, offices everywhere. In this revealing and powerfully argued book, author Franck Frommer shows us that PowerPoint’s celebrated ease and efficiency actually mask a profoundly disturbing but little-understood transformation in human communication.
Using fascinating examples (including the most famous PowerPoint presentation of all: Colin Powell’s indictment of Iraq before the United Nations), Frommer systematically deconstructs the slides, bulleted lists, and flashy graphics we all now take for granted. He shows how PowerPoint has promoted a new, slippery “grammar,” where faulty causality, sloppy logic, decontextualized data, and seductive showmanship have replaced the traditional tools of persuasion and argument.
How PowerPoint Makes You Stupid includes a fascinating mini-history of PowerPoint’s emergence, as well as a sobering and surprising account of its reach into the most unsuspecting nooks of work, life, and education. For anyone concerned with the corruption of language, the dumbing-down of society, or the unchecked expansion of “efficiency” in our culture, here is a book that will become a rallying cry for turning the tide.
Terrific baseball memoir. Filled with great stories.
Doug Harvey was a California farm boy, a high school athlete who nevertheless knew that what he really wanted was to become an unsung hero—a major league umpire. Working his way through the minor leagues, earning three hundred dollars a month, he survived just about everything, even riots in stadiums in Puerto Rico. And while players and other umps hit the bars at night, Harvey memorized the rule book. In 1962, he broke into the bigs and was soon listening to rookie Pete Rose worrying that he would be cut by the Reds and laying down the law with managers such as Tommy Lasorda and Joe Torre.
This colorful memoir takes the reader behind the plate for some of baseball’s most memorable moments, including:
· Roberto Clemente’s three thousandth and final hit
· The “I don’t believe what I just saw” heroic three-and-two pinch-hit home run by Kirk Gibson in the ’88 World Series
· The nail-biting excitement of the close-fought ’68 World Series, when Doug called St. Louis Cardinal Lou Brock out at home plate and turned the trajectory of the series
But beyond the drama, Harvey turned umpiring into an art. He was a man so respected, whose calls were so feared and infallible, that the players called him God. And through it all, he lived by three rules: never take anything from a player, never back down from a call, and never carry a grudge.
A book for anyone who loves baseball, They Called Me God is a funny and fascinating tale of on- and off-the-field action, peopled by unforgettable characters from Bob Gibson to Nolan Ryan, and a treatise on good umpiring techniques. In a memoir that transcends sport, Doug Harvey tells a great story of responsibility, fairness, and honesty.