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Books - History - Historical Study - Ten Must Reads For Modern Americans

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    The Ascent of Man
    by Jacob Bronowski
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 August, 1976)
    list price: $29.95
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    Reviews (27)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Is available on DVD
    This series has been available on DVD for about 2 years or so from Ambrose Video. The price is high.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Aspiration to Inspiration
    This was used as a text for my first year engineering course on Knowledge, Values & Technology. We also watched the videos once a week. Most of the class used the time to eat lunch or take a snooze but I was absolutely entranced.Jake really knew how to get to the pith. The course was essentially an introduction to ethics and it served as my introduction to the great philosophers of all time.An awakening to how human achievement comes from hard work and the odd bit of serendipity.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Book is great, but the series was greater
    This year (or possibly last year) was the thirtieth anniversary of this amazing landmark series. I had expected the BBC to release it on this occasion but they did not. Are we going to have to wait until the 50th anniversary before seeing it on DVD? I encourage every fan of Bronowski and The Ascent of Man to e-mail BBC and demand they get a move on!!! ... Read more

    Isbn: 0316109339
    Sales Rank: 27234
    Subjects:  1. History    2. Human beings    3. Philosophy    4. Science    5. Science and civilization    6. Science/Mathematics   


    One Hundred Years of Solitude
    by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Gregory Rabassa
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 November, 1998)
    list price: $14.00
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    Editorial Review

    "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, ColonelAureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his fathertook him to discover ice."

    It is typical of Gabriel García Márquez that it will bemany pages before his narrative circles back to the ice, and many chapters before thehero of One Hundred Years of Solitude, Buendía, stands before thefiring squad. In between, he recounts such wonders as an entire town struckwith insomnia, a woman who ascends to heaven while hanging laundry, and a suicide that defies the laws of physics:

    A trickle of blood came out under the door, crossed the living room,went out into the street, continued on in a straight line across the uneven terraces, went down steps and climbed over curbs, passed along theStreet of the Turks, turned a corner to the right and another to the left,made a right angle at the Buendía house, went in under the closed door,crossed through the parlor, hugging the walls so as not to stain the rugs, wenton to the other living room, made a wide curve to avoid the dining-roomtable, went along the porch with the begonias, and passed without being seenunder Amaranta's chair as she gave an arithmetic lesson to AurelianoJosé, and went through the pantry and came out in the kitchen, whereÚrsula was getting ready to crack thirty-six eggs to make bread.
    "Holy Mother of God!" Úrsula shouted.

    The story follows 100 years in the life of Macondo, a village foundedby José Arcadio Buendía and occupied by descendants allsporting variations on their progenitor's name: his sons, José Arcadio and Aureliano,and grandsons, Aureliano José, Aureliano Segundo, and JoséArcadio Segundo. Then there are the women--the two Úrsulas, a handful ofRemedios, Fernanda, and Pilar--who struggle to remain grounded even as their menfolk build castles in the air.If it is possible for a novel to be highly comicand deeply tragic at the same time, then One Hundred Years ofSolitude does the trick. Civil war rages throughout, hearts break, dreamsshatter, and lives are lost, yet the effect is literary pentimento, withsorrow's outlines bleeding through the vibrant colors of García Márquez'smagical realism. Consider, for example, the ghost of Prudencio Aguilar, whomJosé Arcadio Buendía has killed in a fight. So lonely is the man'sshade that it haunts Buendía's house, searching anxiously for water with whichto clean its wound. Buendía's wife, Úrsula, is so moved that "thenext time she saw the dead man uncovering the pots on the stove she understood what hewas looking for, and from then on she placed water jugs all about thehouse."

    With One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel GarcíaMárquez introduced Latin American literature to a world-wide readership. Translated intomore than two dozen languages, his brilliant novel of love and loss inMacondo stands at the apex of 20th-century literature. --Alix Wilber ... Read more

    Reviews (424)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing
    Marquez's writing is gorgeous and poetic - a mix of humor and sombre reality that captured me immediately.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Ya'll have lost your mind!!!
    OH MY GOD!!!I know, Oprah says to finish the book.Just can't do it and there aren't many books I leave unfinished.ASININE!Makes no sense.Author must have been on acid when he wrote it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Read This Book!
    If you like James Joyce, Salman Rushdie or any kind of poetry you must read this book. It is an easy, accessible and exciting read. It is an incredible, magical work that truly deserves every accolade it gets. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0060929790
    Subjects:  1. Classics    2. Epic literature    3. Fiction    4. Fiction - General    5. Garcia Marquez, Gabriel - Prose & Criticism    6. Latin America    7. Literary    8. Literature: Classics    9. Macondo (Imaginary place)    10. Social conditions    11. Reading Group Guide   


    Dune
    by FrankHerbert
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 October, 1999)
    list price: $27.95 -- our price: $17.61
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    Editorial Review

    This Hugo and Nebula Award winner tells the sweeping tale of a desert planet called Arrakis, the focus of an intricate power struggle in a byzantine interstellar empire. Arrakis is the sole source of Melange, the "spice of spices." Melange is necessary for interstellar travel and grants psychic powers and longevity, so whoever controls it wields great influence.

    The troubles begin when stewardship of Arrakis is transferred by the Emperor from the Harkonnen Noble House to House Atreides.The Harkonnens don't want to give up their privilege, though, and through sabotage and treachery they cast young Duke Paul Atreides out into the planet's harsh environment to die.There he falls in with the Fremen, a tribe of desert dwellers who become the basis of the army with which he will reclaim what's rightfully his. Paul Atreides, though, is far more than just a usurped duke. He might be the end product of a very long-term genetic experiment designed to breed a super human; he might be a messiah.His struggle is at the center of a nexus of powerful people and events, and the repercussions will be felt throughout the Imperium.

    Dune is one of the most famous science fiction novels ever written, and deservedly so.The setting is elaborate and ornate, the plot labyrinthine, the adventures exciting. Five sequels follow. --Brooks Peck ... Read more

    Reviews (896)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great book
    Fascinating ideas, cool characters, and a page-turner to boot.Re-reading it is almost as sweet as the first time because the main character's ability to see the future and his reactions to it are more poignant and delicious when you share his unique knowledge.

    1-0 out of 5 stars HATE HATE HATE
    One of the worste books of all time, I feel.
    Actually... I couldnt make it past page 50.I usually give all books 100 pages, but I just could not stand it.It is written with a slight yoda like way.I just could not stand it.
    Though, the movies arent really all that bad though.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Dune
    * TOOL'S RECOMMENDED READING LIST ITEM *
    Herbert combines poetic, dreamlike prose with terrifying visions to create this classic. ... Read more

    Isbn: 044100590X
    Subjects:  1. Classics    2. Fantasy    3. Fantasy - Epic    4. Fiction    5. Fiction - Science Fiction    6. Herbert, Frank - Prose & Criticism    7. Science Fiction - General    8. Science fiction    9. Fiction / General   


    $17.61

    Dharma Bums
    by Jack Kerouac
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Library Binding (01 June, 1976)
    list price: $28.95 -- our price: $18.24
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    Editorial Review

    One of the best and most popular of Kerouac's autobiographical novels, The Dharma Bums is based on experiences the writer had during the mid-1950s while living in California, after he'd become interested in Buddhism's spiritual mode of understanding. One of the book's main characters, Japhy Ryder, is based on the real poet Gary Snyder, who was a close friend and whose interest in Buddhism influenced Kerouac. This book is a must-read for any serious Kerouac fan. ... Read more

    Reviews (124)

    5-0 out of 5 stars beautiful
    Kerouac excellently tackles the spiritual sensation of the beat generation. The protaganist, Ray, qualifying as an aspect of Kerouacs personality, holds quest and ZEST for life that could make anyone want to become a buddhist and live a life like his. How extraordinary to read about the nature and importance of things other than the past or future. A life of the pure present tense is represented through this inspirational novel. Kerouac specializes in aiding you to feel what he's feeling, see what he's seeing, smell what he's smelling, and so forth. With such talent and authenticity, Kerouac becomes your favorite beat. If you have an appreciation for the life, beauty, and nature of the world, dive into this book. You won't regret it. A beautiful novel.. I could even say it's my favorite.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Beat Classic
    The Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerouac, follows Ray Smith, a character based on Kerouac himself, through an amazing physical and spiritual journey. In the story, Smith meets Japhy Ryder, an eccentric mountaineer who is fascinated by Eastern literature and religion. Japhy inspires Smith to begin his career as a meditating, rucksack-wielding `Zen Lunatic'. Smith is led to a deeper understanding of his Buddhist faith through scaling mountains, sleeping in silent deserts, and meditating for hours on end deep in the woods. He travels all over the United States, meeting innumerable different characters as he goes and learning more and more about the truths of existence itself.
    What shines through in The Dharma Bums isn't so much the plot of the story, but the way in which the story is told. Jack Kerouac has a knack for making the ordinary seem extraordinary, and impressing upon the reader how something seemingly mundane could impact him in a profound way. The narrative has a wide-eyed romance about it, making every experience Ray Smith has seem new and fresh. People, places, and events in the book are described with a prose that is practically poetry, painting a vivid picture in the reader's mind. In reading The Dharma Bums, I wasn't concerned as much with what happened as I was with how it happened.
    The Dharma Bums isn't a book that everyone would enjoy. Some would find it pointless or long-winded, or difficult to read. For someone who likes a lot of description and feeling in a book, however, I strongly recommend it. This book is also a necessity for any enthusiast of Beat literature, and even those interested in Buddhism would appreciate it as a serious philosophical work. To anyone else, The Dharma Bums is bound to add inspiration, excitement, and a new perspective to any open mind.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Worth every penny!

    Man, I don't know where to start. "The Dharma Bums" is a masterpiece of the Beat Generation and a novel I will not soon forget. After The Loser's Club by Richard Perez, this is the best book I've read all year.

    Jack Kerouac wrote this story about his days as a Zen Buddhist and rucksack wanderer. His alias in the book is Raymond Smith, and he is living in Berkley with his good buddy Alvah Goldbook(Allen Ginsburg). Ray meets a Zen Lunatic named Japhy Ryder(Gary Snyder), and together they travel the mountains and pastures of Central California trying to find themselves and find the true meaning of life. Ray also journies to Desolation Peak in Washington and lives there alone for the summer, which is just another chapter to this amazing piece of literature.

    Another part of this book that impressed me was the beginning, when Kerouac wrote about his experience at the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance, and spoke of Alvah Goldbook's first reading of his poem "Wail", which in reality was Allen Ginsburg's legendary first reading of "Howl", which to this day is a Beat Literature classic.

    While reading this book, I was constantly marking lines and passages, because some of the descriptions and poetry Kerouac included in this novel are simply amazing. "The Dharma Bums" is one of those books I will treasure forever and read over and over again.
    ... Read more

    Isbn: 0899661351
    Subjects:  1. Beat generation    2. Fiction    3. Fiction - General    4. General   


    $18.24

    A Prayer for Owen Meany
    by JOHN IRVING
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (14 April, 1990)
    list price: $7.99 -- our price: $7.99
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    Editorial Review

    Owen Meany is a dwarfish boy with a strange voice who accidentally kills his best friend's mom with a baseball and believes--accurately--that he is an instrument of God, to be redeemed by martyrdom. John Irving's novel, which inspired the 1998 Jim Carrey movie Simon Birch, is his most popular book in Britain, and perhaps the oddest Christian mystic novel since Flannery O'Connor's work. Irving fans will find much that is familiar: the New England prep-school-town setting, symbolic amputations of man and beast, the Garp-like unknown father of the narrator (Owen's orphaned best friend), the rough comedy. The scene of doltish the doltish headmaster driving a trashed VW down the school's marble staircase is a marvelous set piece. So are the Christmas pageants Owen stars in. But it's all, as Highlights magazine used to put it, "fun with a purpose."When Owen plays baby Jesus in the pageants, and glimpses a tombstone with his death date while enacting A Christmas Carol, the slapstick doesn't cancel the fact that he was born to be martyred. The book's countless subplots add up to a moral argument, specifically an indictment of American foreign policy--from Vietnam to the Contras.

    The book's mystic religiosity is steeped in Robertson Davies's Deptford trilogy, and the fatal baseball relates to the fatefully misdirected snowball in the first Deptford novel, Fifth Business. Tiny, symbolic Owen echoes the hero of Irving's teacher Günter Grass's The Tin Drum--the two characters share the same initials. A rollicking entertainment, Owen Meany is also a meditation on literature, history, and God. --Tim Appelo ... Read more

    Reviews (969)

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Laugh-Aloud, Heart-Wrenching Novel
    The novel A Prayer for Own Meany is one about everlasting friendship, finding faith, and of growth. It is also written in a dizzying order of events that eventually culminate at the point where all is explained.

    A Prayer for Owen Meany, starts off by introducing Owen Meany in a description that could be described as a compact form of what we learn about Owen Meany throughout the whole book. Then, the narrator goes on to introduce himself, and to explain the kind of relationships that Owen Meany had with other people. Thus begins the story of Owen Meany.

    The story continues on with numerous leaps in time, linking feelings and thoughts with explanations and stories of past events. This is probably the most major thing that detracts from this novel. It is confusing and hard to keep track of. Perhaps for others with incredible concentration powers, this book would be an easy read. However, I am not one of those people, and I often found that I'd have to look back and check to see what the narrator was referring to. The other factor that was distracting was the narrator's long political diatribes, which really seemed to take away from the novel's excellence.

    Other than that, I found this story to be very moving, while keeping up the humor. The undying friendship between Owen and the narrator, John, is touching. They stick beside each other through thick and thin, and often coordinate their lives to match. The series of events presented in this book reveals that Owen's special gift of faith sets him apart from all others. After realizing the miraculous life that Owen Meany lived, the narrator, John's, faith is strengthened. His saying, "I am a Christian because of Owen Meany," and the quote written on the back cover of this book, "Owen Meany, the only child of New Hampshire granite quarrier, believes he is God's instrument; he is," is testament to that.

    John Irving injects so much humor into what would have otherwise been a solemn novel. From tales of the two protagonists' girl chasing, to the several acidic articles that Owen writes as the Voice in his school newspaper, to the pranks that Owen and John play on their headmaster, I found myself laughing out loud more often than one would think possible. It has been a while since I've read a book that makes me laugh out loud so frequently.

    Filled with witty dialogue and unbelievably amusing stories, this novel is one that I found myself loudly guffawing at, while also being touched and moved by. I would recommend this to anyone who has the time to really enjoy this 617-page book

    1-0 out of 5 stars not one of John Irving's better books
    I bought a copy of A Prayer for Owen Meany based on the fact I have read and enjoyed other books by John Irving. Mr. Irving's books are usually offbeat and I like that about him. This book, however, was boring. I am like some of the other people here who started reading the book, but could not finish. Dull City!

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Prayer for Owen Meany
    I just finished "A Prayer for Owen Meany" and this was my first John Irving book.I have found John Irving to be a very detailed author and that you need to be a paitent reader in order to let the story unfold.Owen Meany is a character that I will never forget and I will miss Owen's insightful thoughts regarding politics and religion.This book will have you laughing out loud one minute and crying the next. I will agree with some of the other reviews that the narrator "John Wheelwright" and his comments to politics were sometimes a little long but as you drew towards the end of each of them you could see how they would pertain to an occurance from John's childhood memories with Owen.This is a book that I will read again and I believe it is a story that you will learn a little more every time you read it. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0345361792
    Subjects:  1. Fiction    2. Fiction - General    3. Literary    4. Fiction / Literary   


    $7.99

    The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History
    by Michael H. Hart
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 October, 1992)
    list price: $22.50 -- our price: $15.30
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Reviews (60)

    1-0 out of 5 stars Blasphemy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I am appalled.Mr. Harts (If that is indeed is real name) book is a poorly researched load of tripe.Not only does he fail to recognize Gary Coleman as the most influencial human being in all recorded history, he doesn't even mention Coleman once in his book!!!!I'm not joking.Read the book yourself if you have to, Coleman's not in there.The horror.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, IfFlawed
    I am so intrigued by Michael Hart's book: The 100, that I had to buy one! Every time I go into the library I have to check it out. He presents a very intelligent, and compelling case for each of the persons listed. Of course, I have to take issue with his relatively low ranking of Jesus Christ, since his influence on the world is hardly confined to the religious.
    Do the trillions of dollars of annual revenue Christmas bringsthe world mean nothing? And what about the numerous charities that have improved the lifestyles of nations? These are all inspired by Christ's passionate teachings about helping those in need. And what about the 600 years between Jesus death and the birth of Islam? 600 years of influence on the world before Islam was even thought about! I must also take issue with Lincoln being listed so low, since the United States would not be the superpower it is today if he had not kept the Union together, that's if the United States would even exist at all, as I'm sure other European nations were just waiting for it to divide up into little weakened states so they could conquer it for their own profit. Still, I would recommend this book to anyone just on the basis of its educational value alone.

    1-0 out of 5 stars JFK and not Lincoln and FDR?
    It would help if such a historical list were written by a historian.Mr. Hart's degrees are in science, and his bias toward scientists in the list is overwhelming. He lists JFK because of his starting the mission to the moon. Certainly Lincoln, FDR, Teddy Roosevelt, Truman, and Reagan would rank as more influential U.S. presidents.And Madison as Father of the Constitution and the U.S. government has certainly had significant and long-lasting influence given the number of democracies in the world today.The effort to create such a list is certainly interesting, everyone will have different opinions, and the discussion promotes historical learning which is in such short supply today. But it would be better for an accomplished historian to create such a list rather than an author so taken up with scientific efforts to the detriment of other areas of human achievement. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0806513500
    Sales Rank: 96273
    Subjects:  1. Biography    2. Biography/Autobiography    3. History - General History    4. Reference    5. World - General   


    $15.30

    The Federalist Papers
    by James Madison, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, Clinton Lawrence Rossiter, Charles R. Kesler, Rossiter
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Mass Market Paperback (01 June, 1999)
    list price: $6.99
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    Editorial Review

    "This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren ... should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties." So wrote John Jay, one of the revolutionary authors of The Federalist Papers, arguing that if the United States was truly to be a single nation, its leaders would have to agree on universally binding rules of governance--in short, a constitution. In a brilliant set of essays, Jay and his colleagues Alexander Hamilton and James Madison explored in minute detail the implications of establishing a kind of rule that would engage as many citizens as possible and that would include a system of checks and balances. Their arguments proved successful in the end, and The Federalist Papers stand as key documents in the founding of the United States. ... Read more

    Reviews (45)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating...For the Right Person
    You don't need to be told that the Federalist Papers are not for everyone, but for a niche audience of which I happen to be a member. And so, the qualifications: you need to have a pretty fluent command of the English language, and not just modern usage but also more archaic structure and vocabulary; you have to have a good grasp of history, at least a rough outline of it solidly in mind; you have to have a love for politics, political science and the Constitution.

    If all of that is true of you, you'll probably enjoy reading this. At least, to a point. The Federalist Papers, written mainly by "Father of the Constitution" James Madison and "Shot by Aaron Burr/Closet-Monarchist" Alexander Hamilton, is a very lengthy defense of the then-proposed Constitution, point by point. And what I mean is, they will take items over which there could be seemingly no substantial debate and then write a series of three or four essays on that point. And so, it is possible that even the die-hard history/political science buff will be bored by the thirtieth page of the debate over whether standing armies should be allowed to be kept during peace time.

    The most laugh-out-loud moment (and yeah, there are a few) is when the "Interstate Commerce clause" is dismissed in a slip of a paragraph, which is, of course, one of the most important and controversial passages to the modern reading of the Constitution, forming the basis for a good deal of our current legislation. Whatever one feels about our current "construction" of the Constitution, I think a fair reading of the literature will show that it is not the same construction as that of its authors.

    Not laugh-out-loud at all, however, is the roaring silence on the subject of slavery. It does come up, from time to time, but the lack of debate on these matters (there are, maybe, 2-3 pages on the 3/5 compromise and a paragraph on the ending of the slave trade) proclaims the volatility of the subject matter, even 100 years before the Civil War. Madison wasn't looking to offend his audience, after all.

    Of course, all of these debates are mostly moot (with a couple of exceptions) and so the Federalist Papers are largely a historical artifact... but there is something very telling about them. That is, how incredibly learned, intelligent and eloquent our Founding Fathers really were. They debate calling on historical antiquity, philosophies ancient and modern, then-current foreign political systems, the Constitutions of the several states and the Articles of Confederation. These people knew what they were doing and it all mattered to them, very much. It's kind of sobering to see with what care and deliberation they forged this Constitution, and then to compare it with the "guardians of the flame" today who can't even seem to agree on the meaning of terms like "liberty," "democracy," or, in the case of one former President, "is." When reading, you'll wish we had Madisons and Hamiltons today, or even politicians who bothered to read them... or, maybe we do, but the general level of care and education of our country today does not allow men such as those to rise. The Federalist Papers is an interesting insight into the incredibly well-thought-out origins of our country.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A great revision of a classic work
    Everyone who has taken a civics, government or American history class has heard of the Federalist Papers. These 85 essays, published anonymously in New York newspapers during the debate over whether New York would ratify the Constitution, are the best "footnotes" for the Framers' intent when devising the Constitution, the powers of the three branches of government, and the overall shape of the federal government. It is simply impossible to understand the Constitution without taking the time to read the Federalist Papers. And this edition has the very useful feature of cross-references in the Constitution back to the relevant essays of the Federalist Papers.

    Some of the essays now seem irrelvant (i.e., the ones dealing with minting of coins). But others are just as powerful now as they were when first written - the role of the judiciary; the conduct of foreign affairs; the division of governing authority between the President and the Congress; the destructive power that special interest groups could have on the legislative process.

    The Federalist Papers are often-cited by those who argue that it is the only source of interpretation of the Framers' intent. This may be true. But even the Framers themselves later argued vehemently over what their intent was. While Hamilton supported a strong centralized federal government, Madison eventually supported a weak federal government with strong states acting almost as independent sovereigns. That same political division - between states' rights supporters and strong federalists - continues today among Democrats and Republicans. Both sides cite to the Federalist Papers as supporting their respective positions. Yet neither side can conclusively resolve what the Framers' intent truly was since the Framers themselves seemed to have changed their original intentions as the political winds changed in the years following ratification of the Constitution.

    This book is an essential reference guide for anyone with an interest in the American system of government. It is a valuable tool to probe the truth behind politicians' talk of "activist judges" versus "strict constructionist judges". For those who want to be educated on the topic, rely on the Federalist Papers thmselves rather than on others telling you what the Federalist Papers really mean.

    5-0 out of 5 stars America at the starting gate
    It's hard for us in the 21st century to get our minds around the concept of building, organizing, defending, and financing a new nation. Imagine the incredible questions that must have come into the minds of the founders of America once independence had been won! Fortunately, the new nation had a small handful of men who had the vision, pragmatism, intellect and communicative abilities: Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, specifically. With an assist from John Jay, these men mapped out the Federalist plan for the United States in pamphlets and newspaper items which, once collected, became THE FEDERALIST PAPERS.

    After Charles Kesler's insightful introduction, the reader plunges into these great essays--85 of them. What emerges is an obviously biased but logical argument for a strong central government, a national army (rather than provincial, state-run militiae), and an economy based on commerce, manufactures, and banking. Each essay is a self-contained entity, but the common themes make the collection a seamless (most of the time) and unified whole.

    Ironically, Madison and Hamilton would become enemies. And over time the anti-Federalists and Democratic-Republicans would endure but the influences of Jay, Hamilton, and Madison had left their marks on the new nation. Any American with an interest in how their country went from independence on paper to independence and success in practice must read THE FEDERALIST PAPERS. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0451628810
    Subjects:  1. Constitutional history    2. Constitutional law    3. Essays    4. Government - U.S. Government    5. History    6. History & Theory - General    7. History - General History    8. History: American    9. Politics - Current Events    10. Reference    11. Sources    12. United States    13. United States - General    14. United States - Revolutionary War   


    The Mysteries of Pittsburgh
    by Michael Chabon
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (19 April, 1989)
    list price: $13.00 -- our price: $10.40
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Reviews (92)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Freely borrowed ideas from other people in Pgh.
    This book is not bad. The author freely borrowed ideas from others in Pgh. that were part of a "scene." The characters names were actually real nicknames (i.e. "mau mau) of people from the scene. But that is how good fiction is made, from borrowing from real life events.

    5-0 out of 5 stars "I wish I'd written that"
    When you get to the end of this novel, and read the last paragraph, all you can think is, "I wish I'd written that."I can quote the last paragraph from memory, and a friend of mine, after I quoted it to her, made a poster with the quote and put it on her office wall.It's as good as Shakespeare.
    As readers, we love the main character, Art, and we laugh as he meets new friends who show him how magical the ordinary world world can be."Some people really know how to have a good time."The novel is a bildungsroman.If you don't know that word, look it up.It's a good word.
    Does that mean the world Art finds is perfect?No.And the flaws are made plain.Our author is no romantic.But we sense that it's worth the cost, this new and wonderful world.
    But the most important character we meet is Chabon himself.His writing is so good, we keep reading . . . even through the boring parts . . . simply for the joy of the writing.
    I won't give away the ending.But Chabon finds a way to avoid sentiment while remaining hopeful.His novel is not about egoistic self-pity the way so many of the books that came out at the end of 80's were.(Bright Lights, Big City; Slaves of New York; Less than Zero; etc.) Art does not pity himself.He's sad, but he's glad that he had a good time.And we hope his future will be a good one.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Flawed First Novel
    I wanted to like this novel more . . . I desperately hoped that it would be good enough to justify reading some of his later works--- But I just wasn't that impressed. His control of prose was good. I liked his metaphors [e.g., describing a suburban house's garden-hose as a "French horn" hung on the house]. But the main character was sniveling, weak and unlikeable. I felt as much antipathty toward him as his father did--and I suspect that that wasn't the author's intent.
    Maybe I'm too "old-fashioned" in my literary tastes--but a girl named "Phlox," the many celebrations of "alternative sexual drives," the adolescent urges to "shock" all left me cold.
    Too bad.
    I really wanted to like him more--or, if not like him, than admire his talent to such an extent that it would overcome my personal repugnance to him as a man. But, alas, such was not the case. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0060972122
    Sales Rank: 7896
    Subjects:  1. Fiction    2. Fiction - General    3. General    4. Fiction / General   


    $10.40

    Possessing the Secret of Joy
    by Alice Walker
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 June, 1993)
    list price: $7.99 -- our price: $7.19
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    Reviews (48)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Painful, Elegant and Uplifing Read
    I don't think a more gifted writer exists. This book exemplifies Alice Walker's incredible ability to shed light on horrific practices in the context of beautiful and captivating stories.I'm sure that this book has played a major role in building our broader public awareness of and growing international sanctions against this common human rights abuse.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Complex and Textured
    Alice Walker states that the secret of joy is "RESISTANCE", which sums up the book nicely.But there is more to this single word.Resistance to what? Resistance to injustice, in this case specifically the injustice of genital mutilation...but Walker clearly means for this resistance to include other forms of injustice. Such as, you ask? Racism, sexism, bigotry in any form.

    Walker's books, including this one, convey the psychological damage of perpetual abuse of a person throughout not only their own life but the life of their ancestors. Therefore, racism and sexism heap psychological damage on their victims for enerations--not to mention the clear sociological problems that germinate from them.

    Why does "resistance" bring joy? First, if the injustice is eventually defeated it will bring a new found freedom and autonomy. If nothing else, resistance provides the resister with a moral victory over his or her opponents, which in the end, brings our ill-fated protagonist joy.

    The more specific sexual aspect of the book is also embraced by this concept. Resistance to the injustice of genital mutilation, on both the individual and collective level, brings sexual pleasure to the individual and to generations of individuals yet to come.So sexual pleasure also is part of the "secret of joy", only in this case it is a specific instance of what "resistance" can eventually accomplish.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Speechless
    Talk about dignity in the face of adversity...I read this shortly after "Temple of My Familiar" and there was dangerous estrogen everywhere!!!Read "The Da Vinci Code" and you will be convinced of the power and sacredness of the female... ... Read more

    Isbn: 0671789422
    Sales Rank: 9756
    Subjects:  1. Fiction    2. Fiction - General    3. General    4. Fiction / General   


    $7.19

    A Brief History of Time : The Updated and Expanded Tenth Anniversary Edition
    by STEPHEN HAWKING
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 September, 1998)
    list price: $16.95 -- our price: $11.53
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    Editorial Review

    Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists in history, wrote the modern classic A Brief History of Time to help nonscientists understand the questions being asked by scientists today: Where did the universe come from? How and why did it begin? Will it come to an end, and if so, how? Hawking attempts to reveal these questions (and where we're looking for answers) using a minimum of technical jargon. Among the topics gracefully covered are gravity, black holes, the Big Bang, the nature of time, and physicists' search for a grand unifying theory. This is deep science; these concepts are so vast (or so tiny) as to cause vertigo while reading, and one can't help but marvel at Hawking's ability to synthesize this difficult subject for people not used to thinking about things like alternate dimensions. The journey is certainly worth taking, for, as Hawking says, the reward of understanding the universe may be a glimpse of "the mind of God." --Therese Littleton ... Read more

    Reviews (297)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Good Until You Get To The End
    As Hawking confesses, this is one of those Physics books which will try to explain you everything without feeding you real meat or printing single equation (i.e., except E=MC2). So the result is that after reading this book you would start believing that somebody taught you Chinese but apparently you can't write a single letter in Chinese. I bought the book simply because I think Hawking is probably the closest in living people who can sit next to Einstein and Newton. The way it starts is really engaging. Illustrations and those full color images are absolutely fantastic. The way the book goes is to take you on the journey to just few microseconds after the big bang to few minutes after. The most interesting part of the book is the discussions and disputes about singularity. I guess that alone (or just that, depending on your view) is worth the price of the book. It's written with lots of passion, clever remarks and it will make you think. But soon enough you will realize you are a helpless being quickly descending in the muddy quicksand. As the chapter passes by, the topics get increasingly fuzzy and extremely confusing. I won't blame the author as the publisher didn't allow him to put "real meat" in his writings. These kind of advanced topics are inherently difficult to understand without presenting actual equations and dealing with guts and gore. I read the later parts of the book 3 times trying to make sense of it and finally came to a conclusion that it is impossible to extract a logical meaning of that part of text, even though it's syntactically correct. So buy this book to get some first hand insights in to singularity and dive in to black holes, but save your time by skipping later chapters.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent starting point
    For those who are fascinated by physics and the most profound philosophical questions, but did not get much past trig in their mathematics education, Hawking's book is the perfect starting point. It is very well written and accessible to the thoughtful layman. The introduction to this vast field of science offered by this book lays a perfect foundation for following up with books on this topic by other authors such as Kaku, Greene, and Feynman.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Science at Its Best
    If you've been away from science for a while, or have failed to come to grips with the current foray of the physical (cf., biological) sciences, this is THE book to read. You'll be pleasantly, elegantly, coherently, and intelligibly guided through the breakthrough in chemical and physical science. And you'll also become more aware of this century's greatest scientific challenge: How to unify to contrary, but not contradictory, theories about how the world works -- quantum theory and relativity theory. The former works well on the microscopic level, while the later works well on the macroscopic level, but the two are at odds when "combined." How could this be?

    There's no real answer -- not yet, but not for lack of engaging effort. You'll encounter everything from quarks to quasars to black holes and dead stars (are they the same?) to relativity to the anthropic principle, the three paradigms of time -- from Copernicus to Penrose and from Newton to Einstein. Intensely condensed and easily digestible, "A Brief History of Time" is a remarkable achievement and a joy to read. It's a review of all "must-know" physics and chemistry that will update the literate person of today in very accessible, easy-to-read, yet dense writing.

    The remarkable thing about this tour d'force is that, after all the efforts from Sir Francis Bacon to today to expunge metaphysics from the scientific blackboard, metaphysics have reintered through the mathematics' back door. One has to ask one's self whether or not not-so-black holes and strings (things that are wholly unobservable) are more satisfactory "scientific" explanations for things that go bump in the night than the granduer of Aristotle's and Ptolemy's four elements. Is it really science to "posit" theories based wholly on derivative experience and mathematical probabilities (or dare I say "possibilities")? This, I think, is the ultimate question this book poses! And maybe it's time to reassess to what extent we must go to do to purge mystery from the experience of life. Aren't some questions just unanswerable? Aren't "black holes" and "strings" just alternative explanations for the Force or Allah used by others. Once we allowed the invisible gravity into the foray, where do we stop? (Paradoxically, despite the ubiquity of its presence, the word "gravity" does not appear in the book's otherwise excellent glossary.)

    However the reader decides these questions for him- or herself, one is confidently armed to attack them head on. I am by no means a "scientific" person, but this wonderful overview offers enough armamentaria to think about the physical sciences intelligently. For that, and for Hawking's incredible clarity, this book is worthy of it continued long-term success. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0553380168
    Subjects:  1. Astronomy - Universe    2. Cosmology    3. History    4. Science    5. Science/Mathematics    6. Science / General   


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