I was an early subscriber to Interview Magazine and as such, I was able to place an advance order for a copy of this book. When it arrived, I opened iI was an early subscriber to Interview Magazine and as such, I was able to place an advance order for a copy of this book. When it arrived, I opened it and found that Andy Warhol had personally inscribed it to me, and had also done a quick sketch of a Campbell's soup can on the inside cover. Over the years, my oldest daughter has taken this book from my bookshelves many times, and I have always managed to steal it back. Included within its pages, not only will you find Andy's famous description of fifteen minutes of fame, but also how to fold money like a rich person, and why everyone should have a closet/storage unit/warehouse in New Jersey. If I had to make a list of the books that I live my life by, this would definitely be in the top ten....more
I have a hard time thinking of anyone who makes my skin crawl more than Phil Spector: he was known for his megalomania, outrageous behavior, and for bI have a hard time thinking of anyone who makes my skin crawl more than Phil Spector: he was known for his megalomania, outrageous behavior, and for being one of the biggest jerks in an industry where they replicate inconsiderate, soul-sucking assholes in Petri dishes for fun and profit. Author Mick Brown took on a Herculean task, just trying to shovel his way through the Augean stables of Spector's life, where double-dealing in business, betrayed ex-wives and ex-girlfriends, studio machinations, and the like were the order of the day. Brown does a particularly good job in recounting Spector's early life. Many seeds were sown there that burst into smarmy fruition later on. Spector may have been a genius in the recording studio, but he failed to make the grade as a human being. In many ways the story of his life resembles a Greek tragedy.
Separating the art from the artist is rarely an easy task. In this case, though, it is made more necessary because so many of the records he produced were so sublime. At the same time, it is hard not to want to vilify someone who ultimately betrayed virtually every friend or business associate he ever had. I think it is safe to say that Spector suffers from some form of mental illness My guess would be that he is bipolar with other related conditions. Perhaps in jail, separated from the hangers-on whom he seemed to collect and with proper medication, Spector may yet be able to discover his humanity.
I found much of what I read within these pages to be of interest. Although many readers may not find the sections about business dealings to be especially riveting, they are essential to the story, and chronicle how many musicians have been badly served by the music industry. I wish that the book had not ended quite so abruptly. A few more pages on the trial and its outcome would have made for a more satisfying conclusion to what is overall a well done explication of a most difficult subject....more
My car had problems, so I took the bus. The nearest stop to my destination was at a large shopping mall. I took this book with me, so I found myself sMy car had problems, so I took the bus. The nearest stop to my destination was at a large shopping mall. I took this book with me, so I found myself sitting in a mall, reading a high moral tale about the insanity and inanity of the group mind that develops among those who pledge allegiance to a shopping center.
Oh, I love this book. It is filled with fine writing, and explosive ideas. I am convinced that if Ballard were alive now, he would take great delight in the Occupy movement and other resistance groups. In these pages, he takes on middle class British values, and smashes the idol of consumerism, which many worship. The plot is straightforward, but it is so exuberant and extravagant in the telling, that the reader immediately becomes immersed in the world of the Brooklands Metro Center.
The main gist of the story is this: an advertising man's father is shot and killed in Metro Center. When the man goes to Brooklands to clear out his father's flat, he discovers that more has been going on there than a single act of random violence. When he stays in town to try to uncover what happened to his father, chaos ensues.
Along with attacking consumerism, Ballard also hunts down racism with a vengeance, pursuing the dire situation in which the Pakistani community finds itself when confronted by roving gangs of football supporters who would have been right at home in Hitler's eisenstadt gruppen. When the footballers move from attacking minorities to attacking people in upper class neighborhoods, class warfare enters the picture as well.
It took a visit to Shanghai for me to get around to reading Ballard. Now that I have begun, I am a committed Ballardian....more
The Arab Spring is widely held as heralding many protests around the world, including Occupy Wall Street. This book, written by the man who was instruThe Arab Spring is widely held as heralding many protests around the world, including Occupy Wall Street. This book, written by the man who was instrumental in organizing the protests in Egypt, is fascinating for its explanation of how social networking has changed world revolution.
Egypt in 2007, which is where Ghonim's story begins, was poised on a political knife edge. The regime feared the people and sought to vanquish dissidents, while the people themselves sought more political rights and civil liberties. At the time, Ghonim was working for Google and had recently married an American woman. In 2010, they moved to Dubai, but returned frequently to Egypt.
On April 6, 2008, the workers at Al-Mahalla Textiles called for a strike due to economic conditions. Activists started Facebook pages in support of the strike, one of which had 70,000 followers. This was at a time when most demonstrations attracted a few hundred protesters at best. On the day of the strike, there was some limited street activity, and an unknown number of people stayed home from work in protest. However, this action sent out a clear signal that the internet could be a new force in Egyptian politics.
In February of 2010, Ghonim created a Facebook page in support of Mohamed ElBaradei, a political moderate who was running against Mubarak for President of Egypt. He enlisted the aid of AbdelRahman Mansour as co-administrator. The page grew in "likes" exponentially as word of it spread. Additionally, Ghonim used Google Moderator to hold an event where voters could ask ElBaradei questions. People from the 150,000 members of his Facebook page posted 1,300 questions that received 60,000 votes. Needless to say, the event was a great success.
On June 8, 2010, while browsing a friend's Facebook page, Ghonim saw a photograph of a twenty-eight year old man from Alexandria who had been beaten to death by two police officers on June 6. "For me," Ghonim wrote, "Khaled Said's image offered a terrible symbol of Egypt's condition." Ghonim decided to create a Facebook page called "Kullena Khaled Said" - "We are all Khaled Said." His first post read, "Today they killed Khaled. If I don't act for his sake, tomorrow they will kill me." In the next two minutes, his page garnered three hundred members.
The strategy of the Facebook page was ultimately to mobilize public support in favor of political, social, and economic justice in Egypt. First by reading the posts; second by interacting with the content by writing comments and pressing the "like" button; third to get them to participate in the page's online campaigns and to contribute content themselves; fourth by taking their activism to the street: this was Ghonim's plan for involving the readers of Khaled's page.
The first actions that took place in the street were called Silent Stands. Each person held hands with the person on either side and prayed. The intent was to show opposition through non-violent action. The turnout for the first one on June 18, 2010 was huge, with Silent Stands being held in Cairo and Alexandria. Every photo sent to the admins was posted on Facebook.
The next day, five thousand people participated in a survey about the first Silent Stand. Input from this and other surveys was used to plan other protests, and to instantly respond to the needs of the Facebook page's members. For example, some people critized the formation of an English language version of Kullena Khaled Said. Ghonim took a poll, and of those answering, 78% were in favor of an English language version. Mohamed Ibrahim, an Egyptian living in the UK, set the page up immediately.
Two more Silent Stands took place. The following Friday, July 23, 2010, was the date of the 1952 Egyptian revolution. The two suspects accused of murdering Khaled Said would be tried in the following week. Ghonim posted that the next Silent Stand would be July 23, and called it, "The Revolution of Silence."
Ghonim cut out a scene from one of his favorite movies, V for Vendetta, and posted it on Khaled's page. Other clips from the movie followed, translated from English for Egyptian viewers.
The July 23 action was not as well attended as had been hoped, but something changed during this protest. Protesters decided to march to the home of Khaled Said's mother. A number of protestors in this group as well as other places were harassed and arrested. Ghonim and many others in the nascent movement were adamant that only non-violent tactics be used. Given the fact that, as the crowds grew in size, members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups were joining in the protests, it became necessary to reach out to people in the other groups and to try to find a consensus on how to act in the streets.
September, 2010, the Facebook suspended the Khaled Said page. Since the page had been set up with fake accounts to protect the identities of its admins, Facebook felt justified in taking this step. It also said that numerous complaints had been made. When two people agreed to use their real names as admins, the page was reopened. Because of all this bother, and the fact that the Silent Stands were beginning to lose their effectiveness, Ghonim felt discouraged and thought that perhaps the time to protest was at an end. At the end of the year, the 2010 parliamentary elections in Egypt were the most corrupted in history. That did nothing for his morale.
What happened next could not have been more of a surprise. Ahmed Maher, the cofounder of the April 6 Youth Movement, and AbdelRahman Mansour, Khaled Said admin, suggested to Ghonim in separate conversations that Police Day, January 25, 2011, should be the day of a special demonstration. They would call on activists to "celebrate" the police's transgressions against Egyptian citizens with Silent Stands, an art campaign, a wall of fame that honored noble policemen, and a wall of shame that exposed criminals in uniform.
While the January 25 protest was being planned, the Arab Spring gained its first martyr. On December 10, 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi, an unlicensed vegetable cart operator in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, had his cart confiscated, and when he complained, he was slapped by a policewoman, humiliating him in public. He went to the police station to complain, but the officers refused to see him. At 11:30 that morning, he went back to the police station and set himself on fire as a protest. He did not die immediately, but lived until January 4, 2011. Protesters gathered at the police headquarters, where they were met with violence and tear gas. News of the protests grew and protests reached the capitol of Tunis by late December.
The Khaled Said Facebook page posted one article about the subject, but decided that they needed to concentrate on Egypt instead. Abuses by Egyptian police were seen as the chain around necks of the people: if the police could be neutralized, the regime would be neutralized. In the meantime, several Egyptians set themselves on fire following the example of Bouazizi. Security forces skirmished with activists in the streets. Pressure was building.
Locations for the January 25 action were not announced until hours before the protests began, in order to give Mubarak's forces less time to prepare. A number of locations were given so that people could join in the nearest one. Everything culminated in Tahrir Square, where security forces used tear gas and rubber bullets to force demonstrators from the square for the night. The turnout for January 25 was phenomenal. Even though the protesters had been evicted from the Tahrir Square for the night, it was certain that even bigger numbers were poised to join the movement. Ghonim's burning question was: "Where is all this going?"
The demonstrations continued to grow. On the evening of January 27, Ghonim was arrested by state security forces after having dinner with Google colleagues in a quiet restaurant. He was blindfolded, thrown into a car and taken to a building where he would be interrogated. Ghomim immediately told them that he was the admin of the Khaled Said Facebook page, and that he was one of the organizers of the demonstrations that were surging through the streets. His interrogators did not believe most of what he said. They thought he was an instigator of a foreign plot. How could demonstrations be formulated a carried out by a bunch of people who did not know each other? It didn't make any sense!
Ghonim was tortured, intimidated and confined until Sunday, February 6. At that time , he was told that they had determined that he was not acting as a foreign agent, and he would be released. Meanwhile, the revolution continued to surge outside on the streets. Ghonim was unaware of all that had been happening.
After he was released, he worked as a part of the group that brokered Mubarak's removal from office. Mubarak sought to remain in Egypt with his Vice President in power. When people in Tahrir Square were informed of this, they started chanting, "Leave means go, in case you did not know!" Ghonim tried to put an online poll in place to survey the people's desires, but the server for the poll service crashed as thousands of people tried to access it. A group of political activists drew up a list of demands, ranging from Mubarak's leaving and the dissolution of his National Democratic Party, to new rounds of parliamentary elections, the arrest of all political prisoners from detainment, and the re-creation of the security apparatus. These demands were realized, beginning with Mubarak stepping down.
Change in Egypt is far from over. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood now head up the elected government, and time will tell if demonstrations will be needed again to make adjustments in the political order. Wael Ghonim is currently the administrator of another Facebook page, We Are All Hamza Alkhateeb, which seeks to publicize the atrocities that are occurring in Syria. He is on leave from Google.
Among the lessons learned from Egypt and the Arab Spring, I think the most important is that a better world is possible. When people unite to fight a common enemy, they are unstoppable. While leaders naturally emerge in any situation, the Arab Spring was essentially a leaderless movement. One my favorite slogans from Occupy Wall Street is, "Be the leader you seek." Each one of us has the ability and the drive to be that one guy with a computer and a group of like-minded friends who can go out and change the world. Now all we need is the will. ...more
Some people have a talent for using anecdotal evidence to explain big ideas. Michael Lewis is definitely one of those people. I doubt this book will bSome people have a talent for using anecdotal evidence to explain big ideas. Michael Lewis is definitely one of those people. I doubt this book will be made into a movie like others of his books, Moneyball or The Blind Side were, but it is still an engrossing story. The stories of Steve Eisman, head of Front-Point Partners hedge fund; Dr. Mike Burry, a neurosurgeon who left medicine to start Scion Capital; and the trio of Charlie Ledley, Ben Hockett, and Jamie Mai, the "garage band" investors who fell into buying up credit default swaps almost by accident, as well as stories of countless others are used to illustrate how credit default swaps were used by the bond market to bring down the U.S. economy.
It was the bundling of subprime mortages, which were fraudulently peddled to people who already owned their homes, into what are called tranches (basically bundles), that got the market into trouble. Those tranches were then rated either by Moody's or Standard & Poor as triple-A rated bonds, when most of them should have been rated triple-B, meaning that the likelihood of the debtor defaulting on the loan was greater, making the tranches riskier bets. Moody's stock had just gone public, and leading them to want to give more favorable ratings so that their clients would stay with them.
"As originally conceived in 2003, the subprime mortgage credit default swap a one-off, nonstandard insurance contract, struck between Morgan Stanley and some other bank or insurance company, outside the gaze of the wider market," Lewis writes. In essence the credit default swap was a bet against the borrowers ever being able to pay back their mortgages. In exchange for buyers of credit default swaps paying a premium each year, they owned, in effect, investment-grade asset-backed (by borrowers' homes) bonds.
The story of the inevitable slide and ensuing crash of the U.S. economy following this financial institution-sanctioned Ponzi scheme is a fascinating one. Lewis is a gifted writer who knows a helluva good story when he sees one. This book reads more like a novel than one about the economy, and will add much to the reader's understanding of how the U.S. economy really works. ...more
J.G. Ballard used his experience as a child in a prisoner of war camp during the second Sino-Japanese War as the bThis is an incredibly special book.
J.G. Ballard used his experience as a child in a prisoner of war camp during the second Sino-Japanese War as the basis of the story of Jim, who in 1941 was an eleven year-old schoolboy of British extraction. Jim only knew Shanghai as home, with his mother and father, the chauffeur and the maids that made up the core of his universe. When Japanese warships fired on Chinese vessels in the Yangtze River, Jim had a front row seat from his hotel window on the Bund. His family had fled there, seeking safety in numbers with other expats.
Jim's father is taken into custody at the river's edge, and Jim is separated from his mother. First he goes to live in the apartment of one of his parent's friends, but when he runs out of food there, he finds his way back to his home on Amherst Avenue. He hopes to find his parents at home, but instead finds an empty house with a half-empty swimming pool. After running out of water there, he takes up with a pair of men who find him exploring a half-submerged boat in the harbor. One of them, Basie, provides an ongoing thread in the story. Jim escapes from the pair once he figures out that they mean to sell him. He tries to surrender himself to the Japanese, but finds that they have little interest in him.
Eventually, after spending some time in a camp set up in a movie house where people have been sent to die, Jim is reunited with Basie. Jim realizes that his only hope of leaving the camp is to help in the kitchen where he may obtain scraps of food so that he may try to build up his health. Basie urges Jim to make himself of use to the cooks, which he does by lighting fires, cleaning up ashes, and doing chores. After a period of time, Jim and Basie are put on the truck and taken to Lunghua Camp, which is located about six miles outside of town.
Many people died in the camp from disease and malnutrition. Jim continued making himself useful to people at the camp, especially to the American doctor, Doctor Ransome. The thing that makes this book so special is that everything that happens to Jim is seen from a child's perspective. Jim is prone to asking questions that adults struggle to answer. Although he becomes hardened through the horrors of the camp, he still retains the mindset of a child. When he is sent with the rest of the camp to march to the stadium in Nantao, they arrive there to find a line of luxury sedans and convertible across one end of the field. He wonders where the chauffeurs are because he thinks the cars are there to take the expats home.
In the end, Jim is reunited with his family. The real boy, J.G. Ballard, was interred at Lunghua Camp with his parents. Although he suffered many privations, at least he did so with his family. The Lunghua Civilian Center, as the camp was formally known, is now the site of Shang Hai High School. I spent six weeks on the campus this summer visiting my daughter who teaches in the International Division there. Only a few of the buildings from Ballard's time remain. One especially handsome building in the Art Deco style was then a prisoner dormitory and now serves as an administration building.
Ballard does an amazing job at capturing a period of time that still pervades the Chinese psyche. The next time I go to Shanghai, I plan to spend some time retracing Ballard's steps. This is a very good book indeed....more
I should start by saying that I have a passing acquaintance with the author of this book. I don't fully understand Pfeiffer's part in the Anthony PellI should start by saying that I have a passing acquaintance with the author of this book. I don't fully understand Pfeiffer's part in the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping scandal that led to his arrest and subsequent conviction. After reading this book, though, I have a better understanding of what happened to Pfeiffer on several different levels.
Sometimes people are driven to write books by their pursuing demons, and I think that must have been the case here. Pfeiffer uses the Amanda Knox case and a bizarre conspiracy theory to work out what happened to him in a disastrous period of his life. Although the story doesn't hang together as well as one might hope, there are enough intriguing elements to make it worth reading.
This book would have benefitted from tighter editing and a better proofreader. Even with all that being said, Pfeiffer has enough fire in his belly and sizzling neurons in his brain to have produced an entertaining read. My main complaint with him is the same one I have with many contemporary authors: stop being so derivative, Bob. Stop using so many clever cultural references and get on with the business of writing from your experience and your heart. That will make for a much better book next time....more
My friend sent me the pdf edition of this book when I was getting ready to go to China. I did not expect it to be at all relevant to my trip, but I waMy friend sent me the pdf edition of this book when I was getting ready to go to China. I did not expect it to be at all relevant to my trip, but I was wrong. There are many interesting descriptions of Chinese cultural beliefs within these pages. It is vastly enhanced by the richly colored illustrations, which make understanding the topics discussed much easier. I saw some of the practices mentioned herein on my trip, especially those concerning young children. For example, many Chinese children wear some sort of amulet, and one baby even had a tonsure. My grandson's ayi (nanny) does not call him by his name, and won't until he is one year old.
This is a charming little book, setting aside a few dismissive remarks from the author. Those may be tolerated within the context of the time they were written....more
I bought this book to take on a long trip to China, a place where I only knew two people, could not speak the language, and could not read the writingI bought this book to take on a long trip to China, a place where I only knew two people, could not speak the language, and could not read the writing. I found many parallels between my position and that of Toru Okada, who found enlightenment at the bottom of a well. Sometimes removing oneself from the everyday and entering into an alien environment can reveal much about this wonderful, horrible thing called life. Although parts of this story could be described as magical realism, for me it highlighted the fact that there is plenty of magic in reality. You just have to open yourself to see it.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is an odd book. It is also a sprawling masterpiece. I highly recommend your reading it....more
This is one of those books that was clearly a labor of love. I don't know how many years it took Smith to research it, but he did a tremendous job. JaThis is one of those books that was clearly a labor of love. I don't know how many years it took Smith to research it, but he did a tremendous job. James Brown's story is not an easy one to tell: it begins with a childhood that could serve as an example of that famous Nietzsche quote about that which does not kill you makes you stronger. Born in Barnwell, South Carolina, Brown's childhood took him from one side of the "Georgialina" side to the other. After his mamma Susie ran off when he was four years old, he and his daddy Joe eventually ended up in Augusta, GA, which would be Brown's hometown for the rest of his life. They lived with his aunt Honey, who ran a boardinghouse/bordello and sold bootleg whiskey. Aunt Honey and other aunts took care of him there. He was subjected to beatings by many of the adults in his life: once even being put into a croker sack and hung up on a wall and beaten with a belt. There is some evidence that Susie came back for a time, but she fared little better than James did when it came to beatings. This is where JB learned about men beating women: an issue that would arise numerous times in his adult life.
There were other, more positive things James Brown learned living on the Terry (the African-American section of Augusta), though. He learned to be tough so he could survive on the streets. He also learned a tremendous work ethic, which would serve him well later in life. Before he was sixteen, he had at least seven jobs, including picking cotton and racking balls at a pool hall. Because he was small, he learned to be alternately charming and threatening. He was always getting into trouble, but along the way he made friendships that would last a lifetime.
I heard stories repeated within these pages that I had heard before from people who worked with JB. Also, I learned so much I did not know about the Godfather of Soul. Truly, he was The Hardest Working Man in Show Business. The last time I saw him was in the seventies in NYC. He opened for P-Funk in a ballroom that I have since forgotten the name of. Even though he could not hit the high notes or do splits any more, he gave Bootsy, Junie and the gang a run for their money when it came to out-and-out stage presence.
James Brown was never very easy to love, but he always had my admiration for his determination to go his own way. Plus, I cannot imagine life without his music. It has been a part of my personal soundtrack so long, it is embedded in my soul.
As for the title,
As he once explained it: "The One" is derived from the Earth itself, the soil, the pine trees of my youth. And most important, it's on the upbeat - ONE two THREE four - not on the downbeat, one TWO three FOUR that most blues are written in. Hey, I know what I'm talking about! I was born to the downbeat, and I can tell you without question there is no pride in it. The upbeat is rich, the downbeat is poor. Stepping up proud only happens on the aggressive 'One," not the passive Two, and never on lowdownbeat. In the end, it's not about music - it's about life.
One more favorite JB quote: Money won't change you, but time will take you out. My advice to you, dear reader, is to Get Up Offa That Thing and get this book immediately. It is very highly recommended....more
I grew up in Athens and Atlanta, Georgia, and spent a good amount of time in Macon, so the Chitlin' Circuit is a part of my heritage. As a child, I deI grew up in Athens and Atlanta, Georgia, and spent a good amount of time in Macon, so the Chitlin' Circuit is a part of my heritage. As a child, I delighted in the sounds of Little Richard and James Brown and the Famous Flames. They played the Peacock Club on Auburn Avenue, and were guest DJs on WIGO- The Black Spot on your Dial. I went to sleep every night to the sound of WIGO, transistor radio pressed to my ear.
I came to the The Chitlin' Circuit expecting to enjoy it, and I did. An impressive amount of research went into this book, along with many interviews of surviving members of the circuit. It is chock full of stories, some of which I had heard before, but most of which were new. The story of the fire in the Rhythm Club in Natchez, Mississippi, where the promoters decorated with Spanish moss, and then sprayed the moss with gasoline to kill the chiggers, ended just where one would expect: in a tragic fire that took the life of Walter Barnes and his Kings of Swing. That was in November of 1939, just before the big band era began its decline, to be replaced with smaller groups.
During the big band era, the bandleader was the star of the show, and the singer was just another member of the group. With the trend to smaller combos, though, the singer took center stage. In many instances, a top artist would cycle through a series of small towns, with a pick-up band of local musicians as back-up. All through the Chitlin' Circuit era, every town of a decent size would have a "stroll," the Main Street of the African-American community. Restaurants, barber shops and dance halls would stand cheek by jowl with churches, insurance companies, and printing houses. In some instances, money from gambling was used as start up capital to fund music promotion and the setting up of recording labels.
The Chitlin' Circuit ground to a halt for the most part in the 1950's when urban renewal - or, as James Baldwin called it, Negro removal- came in, razing local strolls in the name of progress. Perhaps the most dramatic example was Beale Street in Memphis, where only one in seven structures remained standing. Hundreds of people lost their homes, which were to be replaced by public housing that was never built. This proved to be the exception, rather than the rule.
I found this to be an engaging book, and particularly appreciated the fact that Lauterbach included stories of many of the lesser known musicians. It is well worth a read....more
It has taken me a long time to get around to writing a review of this book because I am still thinking about it. To put this into context: when I readIt has taken me a long time to get around to writing a review of this book because I am still thinking about it. To put this into context: when I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X back when it was first published, it changed my life. I grew up in Atlanta and attended the University of Georgia. I was active in the Civil Rights movement. Friends would give me secondhand copies of The Prophet Speaks, which I read with a great deal of interest and curiosity.
When I read Haley and Malcom's book, I was trying to puzzle out exactly what The Nation of Islam was. What I found in their book instead was the story of a personal journey that deeply resonated with me. The authors forever changed my worldview, for which I will be eternally grateful. However, there were portions of Malcolm's life in their pages that seemed sanitized or quickly passed over, and I always wondered what else there was to learn about this highly intelligent, perceptive man.
All of my questions have been answered in Professor Marable's book. It is immaculately researched, and includes internal documents from the Nation of Islam that add a great depth to his subject. I especially wondered about Malcolm's childhood. The activities of his parents as followers of Marcus Garvey are presented here in great detail. Within the telling of the story of his parents is lucid explication of the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and the toll racial discrimination took on the United States, and most especially on Malcolm's household. His father died on the streetcar tracks, which may or may not have been an accident. His mother subsequently suffered mental deterioration that led to the children being placed in foster homes. For Malcolm's part, a long string of foster homes led him into turning to a life of petty crime.
Many other aspects of his life, such as his sexual relationship with a rich white man during his Detroit Red phase and his stormy relationship with his wife Betty Shabazz are covered matter-of-factly. Many, many details emerge on the inner workings of the Nation of Islam. Marable's accounts of Malcolm's international visits and his haj include a wealth of material.
One of the most interesting parts of the book is the story of Malcolm's split from the Nation of Islam, and the events leading up to his death. After his split with Elijah Muhammed, attempts on his life escalated. His house was firebombed, and Malcolm became convinced that the Prophet was trying to have him killed. His fatalistic view did not help to keep him alive. Finally, at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem on February 21, 1965, he was assassinated. Although three men served time for his murder, Marable asserts that the real shooter was not even arrested. His (MM's) account of exactly how the shooting took place provides one of the most complete accounts of what happened that day.
Professor Marable died days before this book first hit the bookstores. In one sense, it is a shame that he did not live the accolades that this book has so justly received. In another, though, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention stands as a monument to both the subject of the biography and to the author. I give it my very highest recommendation....more
Whitley Strieber did his usual decent job in writing this novel. It is full of action, tightly plotted, and has enough twists and turns to keep the reWhitley Strieber did his usual decent job in writing this novel. It is full of action, tightly plotted, and has enough twists and turns to keep the reader turning the pages. Still and yet, I could not help feeling that Strieber exhibited less of the artist and more of the workman in crafting this work. If he had taken the time to write an additional fifty pages, and had used those pages to work on character development, this would have been a much better book....more
Read this book. The only way that we are going to get out of the current economic crisis is for people to educate themselves about how we got into thiRead this book. The only way that we are going to get out of the current economic crisis is for people to educate themselves about how we got into this mess: otherwise, we will keep repeating our failures. The story is incredibly complex, mainly focusing on Ameriquest Mortgage, but encompassing a massive number of other players.
The title comes from a script that Ameriquest salespeople were taught to use, where they talked people with bad credit into re-mortgaging their homes with a sales pitch that ran something like this: "The interest rate on this loan isn't your enemy. (Desperate people were offered low-interest loans that sky=rocketed in a matter of months, or sometimes even days.) Time is your enemy.At this interest rate, you can pay off more and be finished with the loan in a shorter period of time."
After talking people into signing the loan documents, the mortgage brokers would pursue a number of nefarious activities to assure the loans went through. These including whiting out income on W-2's, and replacing it with a higher number, and then xeroxing the W-2. The false copy would go into the file. People's occupations on the loan application would also be changed. Copies of documents which Ameriquest was legally obligated to give to the customers were never given, and when people asked for them, they were lied to.
This, of course, barely scratches the surface. While literally stealing thousands of peoples' homes, the company whose slogan was, "Proud Sponsor of the American Dream," was also stuffing government officials pockets with cash. Not just elected officials, but also the people who were supposed to be overseeing them.
The insensitivity and greed displayed by these lenders is almost unfathomable. There was no end to the lengths that these people would go to make a buck. Virtually every aspect of the Wall Street collapse emerges in this book. The bonus for the reader is that the author writes in a style that makes this book a page-turner. It reads like fiction, although the facts are well-documented in the massive Notes section at the end of the book.
I am a member of the Occupy movement. If you take the time to read this book and haven't already joined us, you may well consider becoming an Occupier, too....more
I have read all of the books in the Pendergast series, which combine straight=up crime thrillers with creepy gothic horror and a bit of steampunk sensI have read all of the books in the Pendergast series, which combine straight=up crime thrillers with creepy gothic horror and a bit of steampunk sensibility. I have to say: this may be the best one yet. T
here is no way to describe the plot of this book without taking away from the myriad twists and turns of the plot. Although it draws heavily on its predecessors, this book could be read alone, For ultimate enjoyment, though, I would go back to the beginning and read these books in order, They would be a guilty pleasure, were they not so well-written. I read this one over the Christmas break, and enjoyed it immensely....more