Pure drek, and devoid of any literary merit.
On June 5, 2002, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart, the daughter of a close-knit Mormon family, was taken from her home in the middle of the night by religious fanatic, Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. She was kept chained, dressed in disguise, repeatedly raped, and told she and her family would be killed if she tried to escape. After her rescue on March 12, 2003, she rejoined her family and worked to pick up the pieces of her life.
In her memoir, MY STORY, she tells of the constant fear she endured every hour, her courageous determination to maintain hope, and how she devised a plan to manipulate her captors and convinced them to return to Utah, where she was rescued minutes after arriving. Smart explains how her faith helped her stay sane in the midst of a nightmare and how she found the strength to confront her captors at their trial and see that justice was served.
Edward I is familiar to millions as "Longshanks," conqueror of Scotland and nemesis of William Wallace. Yet this story forms only the final chapter of the king's action-packed life. Earlier, Edward had defeated and killed the famous Simon de Montfort in battle; travelled to the Holy Land; conquered Wales, extinguishing forever its native rulers and constructing a magnificent chain of castles. He raised the greatest armies of the Middle Ages and summoned the largest parliaments; notoriously, he expelled all the Jews from his kingdom.
Disappointing biography. Don't just tell me that Whitney was a marvelous speaker, writer, and poet; show me. 536 pages and few excerpts from Whitney's sermons, articles, and poetry.
Orson F. Whitney was one of the most influential men and poetic speakers in early Mormonism, receiving commendations from men like Lorenzo Snow, James E. Talmage, and Joseph F. Smith. He led a complicated life. But through struggle and humility, he managed to overcome his obstacles and serve faithfully until the end.
Probably the third or fourth time I've read this. Easily one of my favorites. An inspiring man, worthy of emulation. Terrific biography, candid and insightful, written by a loving son.
Not exactly a page-turner but interesting.
Every president has had a unique and complicated relationship with the intelligence community. While some have been coolly distant, even adversarial, others have found their intelligence agencies to be among the most valuable instruments of policy and power.
Since John F. Kennedy’s presidency, this relationship has been distilled into a personalized daily report: a short summary of what the intelligence apparatus considers the most crucial information for the president to know that day about global threats and opportunities. This top–secret document is known as the President’s Daily Brief, or, within national security circles, simply “the Book.” Presidents have spent anywhere from a few moments (Richard Nixon) to a healthy part of their day (George W. Bush) consumed by its contents; some (Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush) consider it far and away the most important document they saw on a regular basis while commander in chief.
The details of most PDBs are highly classified, and will remain so for many years. But the process by which the intelligence community develops and presents the Book is a fascinating look into the operation of power at the highest levels. David Priess, a former intelligence officer and daily briefer, has interviewed every living president and vice president as well as more than one hundred others intimately involved with the production and delivery of the president's book of secrets. He offers an unprecedented window into the decision making of every president from Kennedy to Obama, with many character–rich stories revealed here for the first time.
William L. Shirer's Berlin Diary has long been one of my favorite books. I read it for the first time in the sixth grade. His triumph of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is widely regarded as one of the most important books of the twentieth century.
Cuthbertson's fresh look at Shirer's career is well done and a lively read. Written with the full cooperation of Shirer’s family, and generously illustrated with photographs, it introduces a new generation of readers to a supremely talented, complex writer, while placing into historical context some of the pivotal media developments of our time.
A bit dated but still a good pictorial history.
Second time around. One of my favorites.
For decades, Walter Cronkite was known as "the most trusted man in America." Millions across the nation welcomed him into their homes, first as a print reporter for the United Press on the front lines of World War II, and later, in the emerging medium of television, as a host of numerous documentary programs and as anchor of the CBS Evening News, from 1962 until his retirement in 1981. Yet this very public figure was a remarkably private man; few know the full story of his life.
Brinkley traces Cronkite's story from his roots in Missouri and Texas through the Great Depression, during which he began his career, to World War II, when he gained notice reporting with Allied troops from North Africa, D-day, and the Battle of the Bulge. In 1950, Edward R. Murrow recruited him to work for CBS, where he covered presidential elections, the space program, Vietnam, and the first televised broadcasts of the Olympic Games, as both a reporter and later as an anchor for the evening news. Cronkite was also witness to—and the nation's voice for—many of the most profound moments in modern American history, including the Kennedy assassination, Apollos 11 and 13, Watergate, the Vietnam War, and the Iran hostage crisis.
David McCullough's 1776 is better.
Philbrick's best so far, in my view, and very, very good. BUT, he DIDN'T finish the story! The book essentially ends with Arnold's defection and the immediate aftermath. Please tell me there is a second volume coming. I felt like the waitress had taken my favorite dessert away before I could finish it.
After the Nuremberg trials and the start of the Cold War, most of the victors in World War II lost interest in prosecuting Nazi war criminals. Many of the lower-ranking perpetrators quickly blended in with the millions who were seeking to rebuild their lives in a new Europe, while those who felt most at risk fled the continent. The Nazi Hunters focuses on the small band of men and women who refused to allow their crimes to be forgotten—and who were determined to track them down to the furthest corners of the earth.
The Nazi Hunters reveals the experiences of the young American prosecutors in the Nuremberg and Dachau trials, Benjamin Ferencz and William Denson; the Polish investigating judge Jan Sehn, who handled the case of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss; Germany’s judge and prosecutor Fritz Bauer, who repeatedly forced his countrymen to confront their country’s record of mass murder; the Mossad agent Rafi Eitan, who was in charge of the Israeli team that nabbed Eichmann; and Eli Rosenbaum, who rose to head the US Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations that belatedly sought to expel war criminals who were living quietly in the United States. But some of the Nazi hunters’ most controversial actions involved the more ambiguous cases, such as former UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim’s attempt to cover up his wartime history. Or the fate of concentration camp guards who have lived into their nineties, long past the time when reliable eyewitnesses could be found to pinpoint their exact roles.
One of the better books on the 1936 Olympics.
The Berlin Olympic Games, which are likely the most controversial ever held, have their 80th anniversary in August 2016. "Hitler's Olympics" creates a vivid account of the disputes, the personalities and the events which made these Games so memorable. Ironically, the choice of Germany as the host nation for the 1936 Olympics was intended to signal its return to the world community after defeat in World War I. In actuality, Hitler intended the Berlin Games to be an advertisement for Germany as he was creating it, and they became one large propaganda exercise. The most memorable achievements at the games were that of black American Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals.
Splendid. The Golden Age of boxing. Read the book and watch the fights on YouTube. Cavanaugh's accounts of Tunney-Dempsey fights are epic.
Among the legendary athletes of the 1920s, the unquestioned halcyon days of sports, stands Gene Tunney, the boxer who upset Jack Dempsey in spectacular fashion, notched a 77—1 record as a prizefighter, and later avenged his sole setback (to a fearless and highly unorthodox fighter named Harry Greb). Yet within a few years of retiring from the ring, Tunney willingly receded into the background, renouncing the image of jock celebrity that became the stock in trade of so many of his contemporaries. To this day, Gene Tunney’s name is most often recognized only in conjunction with his epic “long count” second bout with Dempsey.
In Tunney, the veteran journalist and author Jack Cavanaugh gives an account of the incomparable sporting milieu of the Roaring Twenties, centered around Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey, the gladiators whose two titanic clashes transfixed a nation. Cavanaugh traces Tunney’s life and career, taking us from the mean streets of Tunney’s native Greenwich Village to the Greenwich, Connecticut, home of his only love, the heiress Polly Lauder; from Parris Island to Yale University; from Tunney learning fisticuffs as a skinny kid at the knee of his longshoreman father to his reign atop boxing’s glamorous heavyweight division.
Gene Tunney defied easy categorization, as a fighter and as a person. He was a sex symbol, a master of defensive boxing strategy, and the possessor of a powerful, and occasionally showy, intellect–qualities that prompted the great sportswriters of the golden age of sports to portray Tunney as “aloof.” This intelligence would later serve him well in the corporate world, as CEO of several major companies and as a patron of the arts. And while the public craved reports of bad blood between Tunney and Dempsey, the pair were, in reality, respectful ring adversaries who in retirement grew to share a sincere lifelong friendship–with Dempsey even stumping for Tunney’s son, John, during the younger Tunney’s successful run for Congress.
Tunney offers a unique perspective on sports, celebrity, and popular culture in the 1920s. But more than an exciting and insightful real-life tale, replete with heads of state, irrepressible showmen, mobsters, Hollywood luminaries, and the cream of New York society, Tunney is an irresistible story of an American underdog who forever changed the way fans look at their heroes.
Professor Weinstein has crafted these lectures to explain why some works become classics while others do not, why some "immortal" works fade from our attention completely, and even why some contemporary works now being ignored or snubbed by critics may be considered immortal one day. One memorable work at a time, you'll see how each of these masterpieces shares the uncompromising uniqueness that invariably marks the entire American literary canon.
From Sleepy Hollow to The Great Gatsby and beyond, you'll journey through more than two centuries of the best writers America has yet produced, bringing out the beauty of their language, the excitement of their stories, and the value in what they say about life, power, love, adventure, and what it means, in every sense, to be American. You'll explore the roles of self-reliance and the "self-made man" in the evolution of American literature; the evolution of the American ghost story, from Poe and Hawthorne to James and Morrison; the epic strain in American literature, from Melville and Whitman to Faulkner and Ellison; the perspectives on nature revealed in poets Whitman, Dickinson, Frost, and Eliot; the tenets of Modernism in the work of Eliot, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Faulkner; the contributions of O'Neill, Miller, and Williams to American theater; and much more.
A ripping good yarn.
In May 1941, the German battleship Bismarck, accompanied by heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, broke out into the Atlantic, to attack Allied shipping. The Royal Navy's pursuit and subsequent destruction of Bismarck was an epic of naval warfare.
In this new account of those dramatic events at the height of the Second World War, Iain Ballantyne draws extensively on the graphic eye-witness testimony of veterans, to construct a thrilling story, mainly from the point of view of the British battleships, cruisers and destroyers involved. He describes the tense atmosphere as cruisers play a lethal cat and mouse game as they shadow Bismarck in the icy Denmark Strait. We witness the shocking destruction of the British battle cruiser Hood, in which all but three of her ship's complement were killed; an event that filled pursuing Royal Navy warships, including the battered battleship Prince of Wales, with a thirst for revenge. While Swordfish torpedo-bombers try desperately to cripple the Bismarck, we sail in destroyers on their own daring torpedo attacks, battling mountainous seas.
Finally, the author takes us into the final showdown, as battleships Rodney and King George V, supported by cruisers Norfolk and Dorsetshire, destroy the pride of Hitler's fleet. This vivid, superbly researched account portrays this epic saga through the eyes of so-called 'ordinary sailors' caught up in extraordinary events. Killing the Bismarck is an outstanding read, conveying the horror and majesty of war at sea in all its cold brutality and awesome power.
Paul Harvey's News and Comment and The Rest of the Story was a staple in my rural Idaho household growing up. Everything always seemed to come to a standstill when he came on the radio. I loved the sound and cadence of his voice, the dramatic pauses of his narration. He could make anything sound interesting. Though in his later years I didn't hear him that often--his brand didn't hold much of an audience in liberal Northern California--I was saddened when I learned of his passing.
Technorati Tags: and Faith of a Man Who Transformed Radio and Inspired a Nation, Art, David Holland, Paul Harvey News and Comment, Paul Harvey's America: The Life, rick e. hansen, rick's reads, rickehansen, Stephen Mansfield, The Rest of the Story, www.ricksreads.com
I lived in Japan for two years over twenty years ago. It remains one of the most important experiences of my life. I learned to love the people and honor their culture. Ravina's lectures were like hearing about an old friend.
190 pages too long. A brief magazine article would have sufficed.
One of my favorite books this year.
I was first entranced by Herman Wouk's storytelling at age nine when The Winds of War debuted on television in the heyday of the miniseries. Wouk's body of work is astonishing. I suspect that he pounded out this crisply written memoir in a few hours on a sunny afternoon in Palm Springs. It reads like casual dinner conversation.
Brilliant career and legacy. 100 years.
Important piece of writing by Pulitzer Prize winner Charlie LeDuff. Articulate and incisive, but maddeningly pessimistic.
From the jacket:
"Back in his broken hometown, Charlie LeDuff searches the ruins of Detroit for clues to his family’s troubled past. Having led us on the way up, Detroit now seems to be leading us on the way down. Once the richest city in America, Detroit is now the nation’s poorest. Once the vanguard of America’s machine age—mass-production, blue-collar jobs, and automobiles—Detroit is now America’s capital for unemployment, illiteracy, dropouts, and foreclosures. With the steel-eyed reportage that has become his trademark, and the righteous indignation only a native son possesses, LeDuff sets out to uncover what destroyed his city. He beats on the doors of union bosses and homeless squatters, powerful businessmen and struggling homeowners and the ordinary people holding the city together by sheer determination. Detroit: An American Autopsy is an unbelievable story of a hard town in a rough time filled with some of the strangest and strongest people our country has to offer."
Another gem by Maraniss. Life in 1960s Detroit.
I followed O.J. Simpson's criminal trial closely and I vividly recall where I was and what I was doing when the jury's decision was announced. I felt then and still feel that he got away with murder.
Jeffrey Toobin's The Run of His Life remains one of the best accounts of the trial. Fine piece of writing.
Timely reading given the current presidential nomination race. Perceptive and entertaining.
In this collection of original essays, noted historians, biographers and journalists explore the relationship between character and presidential leadership.
Some essayists clearly struggled to connect character and their assigned subject. Truman, Eisenhower, Ford, Reagan, and Bush shine. Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Carter do not.
Technorati Tags: Character Above All: Ten Presidents from FDR to George Bush, David McCullough, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Dwight Eisenhower, George Bush, Gerald Ford, Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, Richard Reeves, rick's reads, Robert Dallek, Ronald Reagan, Simon & Schuster, Stephen E. Ambrose, www.ricksreads.com
Well worth the time. Finally, an honest and candid reassessment of Ty Cobb the player and the man. Leerhsen's writing is incisive, terrifically researched, and witty. A fresh wind to dilute the stench of Al Stump's biographical hatchet jobs.
Ty Cobb is baseball royalty, one of the greats. His lifetime batting average is still the highest of all time, and when he retired in 1928, after twenty-one years with the Detroit Tigers and two with the Philadelphia Athletics, he held more than ninety records. But the numbers don’t tell half of Cobb’s tale. The Georgia Peach was by far the most thrilling player of the era: “Ty Cobb could cause more excitement with a base on balls than Babe Ruth could with a grand slam,” one columnist wrote. When the Hall of Fame began in 1936, he was the first player voted in.
But Cobb was also one of the game’s most controversial characters. He got in a lot of fights, on and off the field, and was often accused of being overly aggressive. In his day, even his supporters acknowledged that he was a fierce and fiery competitor. Because his philosophy was to “create a mental hazard for the other man,” he had his enemies, but he was also widely admired. After his death in 1961, however, something strange happened: his reputation morphed into that of a monster—a virulent racist who also hated children and women, and was in turn hated by his peers.
How did this happen? Who is the real Ty Cobb? Setting the record straight, Charles Leerhsen pushed aside the myths, traveled to Georgia and Detroit, and re-traced Cobb’s journey, from the shy son of a professor and state senator who was progressive on race for his time, to America’s first true sports celebrity. In the process, he tells of a life overflowing with incident and a man who cut his own path through his times—a man we thought we knew but really didn’t.
Insightful and at times intriguing, GM: Paint it Red nonetheless suffers, like many memoirs, from the limited perspective of the author only. From the book jacket:
"In a devastating indictment of the GM management system, this insider exposé outlines the $100 Billion fear-driven, top-down boondoggle that didn’t make the news―anywhere. And it was called the Paint Plan. Moving from general corporate engineering to a specialty in environmental issues, the author, Nicholas Kachman, became a quiet but persistent spokesman for common sense solutions to, among other things, the problem of air pollution from the auto painting process. Writing with passion, Kachman equips the reader with the background needed to grasp the folly of the decisions that were made. Even those unfamiliar with air pollution and the auto industry will find the mismanagement lessons broadly applicable."
Judge for yourself.
Purports to be "the complete story of the SS at individual, unit and organizational levels," but McNab glaringly and inexplicably overlooks the role of the SS in the Final Solution, the architecture and operation of the vast concentration and extermination camp system, and the omnipresent Nazi police state.
Second time around for me. An exceptionally important book when published and it remains so today. A terrifying catalogue of man's cruelest and basest instincts.
In December 1937, in what was then the capital of China, the Japanese army swept into the ancient city of Nanking (Nanjing) and within weeks not only looted and burned the defenseless city but systematically raped, tortured, and murdered more than 300,000 Chinese civilians. The crude and barbaric means by which the Japanese army did so confounds imagination. Such wanton, unchecked cruelty exceeded even the systematic killing machine invented by the Nazis and Stalin's own reign of terror.
Amazingly, the story of this atrocity—one of the worst in world history—continues to be largely denied by the Japanese government. The Rape of Nanking tells the story from three perspectives: that of the Japanese soldiers who performed it; of the Chinese civilians who endured it; and finally of a group of Europeans and Americans who refused to abandon the city and were able to create a safety zone that saved almost 300,000 Chinese.
But this book does more than just narrate details of an orgy of violence; it attempts to analyze the degree to which the Japanese imperial government and its militaristic culture fostered in the Japanese soldier a total disregard for human life. Finally, it tells one more shocking story: Despite the fact that the death toll at Nanking exceeded the immediate deaths from the atomic blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined (and even the total wartime casualty count of entire European countries), the Cold War led to a concerted effort on the part of the West and even the Chinese to court the loyalty of Japan and stifle open discussion of this atrocity. Chang characterized this conspiracy of silence, which persists to this day, as “a second rape.”
Great fun. Science and technology for idiots like me.
In Thing Explainer, Randall Munroe uses line drawings and only the thousand (or, rather, “ten hundred”) most common words to provide simple explanations for some of the most interesting stuff there is, including:
How do these things work? Where do they come from? What would life be like without them? And what would happen if we opened them up, heated them up, cooled them down, pointed them in a different direction, or pressed this button? In Thing Explainer, Munroe gives us the answers to these questions and so many more. Funny, interesting, and always understandable, this book is for anyone—age 5 to 105—who has ever wondered how things work, and why.
Likely THE definitive history of the American mafia.
Genovese, Gambino, Bonnano, Colombo and Lucchese. For decades these five families ruled New York and built the American Mafia (or Cosa Nostra) into an underworld empire. Today, the Mafia is an endangered species, battered and beleaguered by aggressive investigators, incompetent leadership, betrayals and generational changes that produced violent and unreliable leaders and recruits. A twenty year assault against the five families in particular blossomed into the most successful law enforcement campaign of the last century.
Five Families is the vivid story of the rise and fall of New York's premier dons from Lucky Luciano to Paul Castellano to John Gotti and more. The book also brings the reader right up to the possible resurgence of the Mafia as the FBI and local law enforcement agencies turn their attention to homeland security and away from organized crime.
Exceptional. Marvelous account of the resiliency of the human spirit and the power of forgiveness.
Elizabeth Smart's kidnapping, captivity, and safe return captivated the country's attention. Here, in My Story, ten years after her abduction from her Salt Lake City bedroom, Smart reveals how she survived and the secret to forging a new life in the wake of a brutal crime.
Rarely do I get emotional reading a book, but Smart's account of her reuniting with her parents after months of captivity is incredibly touching.
Tremendous spy story.
Adolf Tolkachev was one of the most successful and valued agents the United States ran inside the Soviet Union during the Cold War. He was an engineer and specialist in airborne radar who worked deep inside the Soviet military establishment. Over six years, Tolkachev met with CIA officers 21 times on the streets of Moscow, a city swarming with KGB surveillance. His documents and drawings unlocked the secrets of Soviet radars and weapons research years into the future. Tolkachev smuggled circuit boards and blueprints out of his military laboratory. His espionage put the United States in position to dominate the skies in aerial combat and confirmed the vulnerability of Soviet air defenses — showing that American cruise missiles and strategic bombers could fly under the radar.
Tolkachev’s story is detailed in 944 pages of previously secret CIA cables about the operation that were declassified without condition for Hoffman's The Billion Dollar Spy. The documents and interviews with participants offer a remarkably detailed picture of how espionage was conducted in Moscow during some of the most tense years of the Cold War.
Great way to start the new year. Off-the-wall, sometimes silly, but always interesting.
Answers to some of life's most pressing questions:
And more. . .
My Book Report For 2015:
Five Best Reads In 2015:
Five Worst Reads In 2015:
So-so. A bit overworked at times.
Hugh Trevor-Roper was one of the most gifted scholars of his generation—a brilliant writer, high-society star, and cultural force who moved easily between aristocratic houses and the humble haunts of literary bohemia. He developed a lucid prose style that he used to scathing effect, earning notoriety for his sharp attacks on other historians.
Adam Sisman examines Trevor-Roper’s middle-class upbringing in a house so empty of affection that it caused, as he put it, his “almost physical difficulty in expressing emotion.” He traces Trevor-Roper’s career from his early academic triumphs to his later failure to produce the big book expected of him. Sisman also provides riveting new details of the high drama of Trevor-Roper’s World War II intelligence work—in which he boldly blew the whistle on bureaucratic infighting that imperiled British code-breaking—and the exclusive investigation of Hitler’s death that inspired his bestselling postwar triumph, The Last Days of Hitler.
An Honourable Englishman reveals the truth behind his public substantiation of the false Hitler diaries in 1983, a misstep (encouraged by his impatient employer Rupert Murdoch) that forever tainted his reputation.
J. Reuben Clark, Jr. was a force of nature during his decades of service as counselor to three different Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Already an accomplished lawyer, statesman, and diplomat before he was called to full-time Church service in 1933, Clark brought his formidable talents to bear on Church administration, structure, and priorities during the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War, also times of great growth for the Church. Clark served as counselor to Church Presidents Heber J. Grant (1933 - 1945), George Albert Smith (1945 - 1951), and David O. McKay (1951 - 1961).
Brief excerpts from Amy Davidson's incisive commentary, Guns and Terror:
"By one estimate, there has been more than one mass shooting—defined as an incident in which at least four people are shot—for every day of this year. According to the Brady Campaign, seven children are killed by guns each day. After the Newtown school shooting, in 2012, there was a push to get a pair of modest bills through Congress—a ban on some assault weapons, the closing of background-check loopholes—but it failed. Gun laws are, on the whole, more lax now than they were on the day the twenty children and eight adults were shot dead. There are as many guns in private hands in America as there are people. The barriers to atrocity are low.
"To the extent that the Republican candidates recognize that the common denominator of mass shootings is guns, their answer is more guns—in the hands of everyone from preachers to Paris bartenders—and more fear, sown just as carelessly. Neither is a wise approach to addressing the real threat of terrorist attacks, whether homegrown or directed from abroad."
Fun. Reynolds was one of my favorite actors as a child. Smokey and the Bandit was my favorite.
Anything written by David McCullough is worth reading. The Path Between the Seas is one of his best. McCullough tells the story of the men and women who fought against all odds to fulfill the 400-year-old dream of constructing an aquatic passageway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It is a story of astonishing engineering feats, tremendous medical accomplishments, political power plays, heroic successes, and tragic failures.
Winner of the National Book Award for history, the Francis Parkman Prize, the Samuel Eliot Morison Award, and the Cornelius Ryan Award (for the best book of the year on international affairs), The Path Between the Seas is a must-read for anyone interested in American history, the history of technology, international intrigue, and human drama.
Second time around. One of the best political biographies I know of. In my view, it is also Kearns Goodwin's best work. As a member of Johnson's White House staff, she became his personal confidante, and in the years before his death he revealed himself to her as he did to no other.
Quinn challenges traditional perspectives on early Mormon history. Meticulously researched. Much to think about here.
Brilliant. David McCullough at his best.
From Alexander von Humboldt to Charles and Anne Lindbergh, these are stories of people of great vision and daring whose achievements continue to inspire us today, brilliantly told by master historian David McCullough.
The bestselling author of Truman and John Adams, David McCullough has written profiles of exceptional men and women past and present who have not only shaped the course of history or changed how we see the world but whose stories express much that is timeless about the human condition.
Here are Alexander von Humboldt, whose epic explorations of South America surpassed the Lewis and Clark expedition; Harriet Beecher Stowe, “the little woman who made the big war”; Frederic Remington; the extraordinary Louis Agassiz of Harvard; Charles and Anne Lindbergh, and their fellow long-distance pilots Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Beryl Markham; Harry Caudill, the Kentucky lawyer who awakened the nation to the tragedy of Appalachia; and David Plowden, a present-day photographer of vanishing America. Different as they are from each other, McCullough's subjects have in common a rare vitality and sense of purpose. These are brave companions: to each other, to David McCullough, and to the listener, for with rare storytelling ability McCullough brings us into the times they knew and their very uncommon lives.