Even if you really don't believe you care for Jane Fonda, you should read this book. As with any biography, you get such great context on pivotal cult...moreEven if you really don't believe you care for Jane Fonda, you should read this book. As with any biography, you get such great context on pivotal cultural and political events and--whether you agree with the protagonist's actions-you thoroughly understand and empathize with her predicaments and tough decisions. The sheer optimism and vibrancy with which Fonda faces her "third act," is particularly energizing. (less)
What a beautiful book. You will never look at your home's second story the same way again after reading of the flooding incident and how the family re...moreWhat a beautiful book. You will never look at your home's second story the same way again after reading of the flooding incident and how the family retreated to the upper story. I add this to the long line of reasons for wishing my Grandmother were still around so that I could ask about stories of our family's past in Cork. Read. This. Book.(less)
Walters has met and/or interviewed an astounding number of people in world politics. I can't wait to see it all put into some sort of "big picture" pe...moreWalters has met and/or interviewed an astounding number of people in world politics. I can't wait to see it all put into some sort of "big picture" perspective that cracks a glimmer of a view into a life that doubtless paved the way for female journalists to follow.(less)
Gave it to my husband as a present and tried to wait my turn, but patience is not my strong suit. Finished this the other night and have been trying t...moreGave it to my husband as a present and tried to wait my turn, but patience is not my strong suit. Finished this the other night and have been trying to sort my thoughts on what to say about it. Arguably, Clapton is one of the most talented living guitarists of the last century--esp. when it comes to the blues. As a human, however, he is not particularly enlightened beyond the insights gained as a result of his ongoing recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. This book is an easy read, and it's littered with names of amazing folks with whom Clapton has played, partied, and sometimes dallied. For the most part, the book reads very much as a dictated (i.e., readerly) recitation of events, following a roughly chronological progression. On the downside, however, are a few extremely awkward bits of writing where you are totally thrown as the voice is so unlike that of the person who's been narrating the rest of the book. The single-most notable example of such a "clunker" of a sentence occurs when Clapton recounts travelling by Ford Transit van all around England with John Mayall and band mates: "The most we could hope for was, if we were playing in Manchester, where John's family came from, he might invite us to stay in one of the family homes. I did this once and it was pretty lugubrious, although it was better than sitting up all night in the van" (pp. 63-64). Other parts, however, will simply break your heart. It's really a toss-up as to whether you grieve the loss of Clapton's four-year old son, Connor, more or the fact that greats like Muddy Waters tried to make Clapton their protege as tradition bearer of the Delta blues. He laments--and you will too--that much of the time he spent playing with Waters, he (Clapton) was either drunk or stoned. Both represent tragic losses, to be sure. You really want to root for Clapton, and he seems to feel that he's finally found happiness in his early 60s. I wish him that, but it still doesn't entirely feel that he's learned the hard and painful lessons life has been trying to teach him. This autobiography is as much history of twentieth-century music as it is Clapton's autobiography. Read it as such, and you won't be disappointed.(less)
This is a wonderful biography that, because of its ability to contextualize the different series, characters, and details in Rice's writing, convinced...moreThis is a wonderful biography that, because of its ability to contextualize the different series, characters, and details in Rice's writing, convinced me to take the plunge into her work. I would love to have as in-depth an updated explanation of where Rice has subsequently gone--both with the Mayfair witches and in her turn in more recent years. If you have a friend, teenage child, or anyone who is embarking on Rice's early works, share this book with them!(less)
I read this in two evenings and finished it for two reasons only. First, I'd actually purchased it. Second, after the first night during which I deter...moreI read this in two evenings and finished it for two reasons only. First, I'd actually purchased it. Second, after the first night during which I determined that the main character (Jen, the author) was an unrelentingly self-absorbed diva, I came to the conclusion that it couldn't possibly get any worse. Honestly, it's that bad. That said, I soldiered on and finished it. The book is essentially a revenge book (accompanied by the author's revenge blog) by a woman who fell from her Chicago-based corporate pedestal and was unemployed for two years. Her revenge is that a magazine and, later, a major publishing house stumbled upon her online vitriol and thought it might well translate into sales. Which clearly it did--I mean, I bought a copy, right? On the plus side, Jen loves her husband Fletch and took in two shelter dogs to whom she is a loving human companion. That's the best I can do. I won't be reading the two follow-ups to this, and don't recommend that you wander down this empty-calorie road either. We've all been treated poorly by employers, coworkers, incompetent sales clerks, dealt with financial hardship and lived to tell the tale. It's called life. The cover compares Jen's circumstances to that of a Greek tragedy. In my mind, the real tragedy is that words like "patriot," "hero," and even "tragedy" have become so abysmally overused and misapplied as to no longer convey their actual meaning. There, I just saved you $13.95 + tax. Now go read something good. There are lots of highly recommended things on my own and other folks' pages here at Goodreads.(less)
The book reads as though dictated by Poitier, and is an interesting look into quite select aspects of his life. Not as candid as one might hope, and q...moreThe book reads as though dictated by Poitier, and is an interesting look into quite select aspects of his life. Not as candid as one might hope, and quite separate from the craft and business of acting (apparently addressed in another work), this is an easy read and welcome peak into the origins and influences on this astoundingly talented man.(less)
When I finally made time to read In an Instant: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing, I was initially put off by the fact that much of the book is w...moreWhen I finally made time to read In an Instant: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing, I was initially put off by the fact that much of the book is written by former ABC news anchor Bob Woodruff's wife, Lee Woodruff. As we all know, Bob Woodruff suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a result of an improvised explosive device that hit a tank he was riding in while embedded with troops in Iraq in 2006. What we know less about--or certainly what I was far less aware of--is the tremendous amount of "dues paying" (for lack of a better phrase) that the Woodruff family had done in order to get Bob Woodruff to the co-anchor position on ABC "World News Tonight."
In addition to the personal and family journey revealed in In an Instant..., the larger story as well as its many parallels to other similar stories both large and small, unfolds in a really interesting fashion. Lee and Bob Woodruff alternate entries, only occasionally providing their distinct versions of the same event. This is particularly effective as it keeps the exposition quite tight and avoids unnecessary repetition. Instead, they move the narration forward--ironically, while providing both backstory to and narration of events subsequent to Woodruff's January 2006 injury.
What I most appreciated about this book is the humility with which it is told. This couple knows precisely how lucky they are. Both marvel, for instance, at the fact that had Bob not sustained these (extremely severe) injuries on the battlefield in Iraq--where military doctors were dealing increasingly with injuries caused by IEDs and had established a relatively seamless procedure whereby injured personnel were stabilized and promptly flown to Germany via Critical Care Air Transport Teams--that Bob would most likely have perished. The Woodruffs are also quick to acknowledge just how many military servicemen and women have sustained TBIs and returned home to a VA and wider medical system and society that is ill-prepared to handle (let alone recognize) the needs of those who have sustained such injuries. As a consequence of Bob's injuries, the Woodruffs lives have been transformed in many ways. One remarkable outcome is the establishment of the Bob Woodruff Family Fund for Traumatic Brain Injury--an organization that raises funds for the organizations working with service members who have sustained TBIs and their families.
At book's end, you're not quite sure what lies ahead for Team Woodruff. You're reasonably confident, however, that they will successfully weather the storm and make the most of each day. In an Instant... is a welcome reminder to all of us who are so focused on deadlines, on passing that next professional milestone, and on meeting certain self-imposed expectations that the entire rules of engagement can all be changed and our lives inexplicably transformed at any moment. The extended Woodruff and McConaughy families, their ABC colleagues, many friends and neighbors all demonstrated grace and compassion under pressure. This was definitely a story worth sharing.(less)
This was both fascinating and exhausting at the same time. You learn a lot about Warhol, his world and art, and other aspiring young artists. (The bit...moreThis was both fascinating and exhausting at the same time. You learn a lot about Warhol, his world and art, and other aspiring young artists. (The bit about Jade Jagger and the m & ms will stick with you for years, I assure you.) The book's a veritable who's who, so take it slowly.(less)
Having just read Dylan's Chronicles. Volume One. in which Guthrie played such an important role, I'm keener than ever to read this. I've seen Arlo in...moreHaving just read Dylan's Chronicles. Volume One. in which Guthrie played such an important role, I'm keener than ever to read this. I've seen Arlo in concert twice, but sadly never got to see Woody--that really would have been something.(less)
This was a candid look at the life, thus far, of a rather remarkable and very humble woman. Mankiller contextualizes her life and her tribe's life--al...moreThis was a candid look at the life, thus far, of a rather remarkable and very humble woman. Mankiller contextualizes her life and her tribe's life--all the way back through tribal history, the trail of tears, and her own accidental awakening as a political activist. This is an honest and insightful autobiography about a remarkable woman and a the Cherokee culture.(less)
After seeing I'm Not Here last year, I've been keen to learn more about this musical chameleon. Without doubt, this has to be the oddest biography I'v...moreAfter seeing I'm Not Here last year, I've been keen to learn more about this musical chameleon. Without doubt, this has to be the oddest biography I've ever read. Specifically, Dylan is as tight-fisted with autobiographical details as he was unwilling to label--let alone pigeonhole--his musical style and influences over the years. The book is also infuriating as biography. It handles time in neither a linear nor precisely cyclical style. That is not to say that you don't learn about Dylan here, because you certainly do. But OMG do you have to work for it! You learn about his influences (i.e., Woody Guthrie, Jack Elliott, and Robert Johnson in that order); his hubris, with which he's either dismissing pop music of the late 1950s and early 1960s as "..filled with empty pleasantries" outright (p. 5) or damning it with faint priase, "I had been a big fan of Ricky's [Nelson:] and still like him, but that type of music was on its way out" (p. 14). But you really have to data mine the entire book to get personal snippets or even discussion of the mechanics of playing (the latter doesn't make an appearence until p. 157). And as the last negative point to raise, why oh why is this entire book set in a bold font? It's very curious, and not a little hard on the eyes, to say the least.
On the positive side, though, the reader does get Dylan's insights onto what separates folk music (the music of LPs) from pop/commercial music (the music of 45s). He admits that he was hungry to make a mark, just unsure of where precisely it might lie. His description of the 1960s folk scene in NYC--particularly the soirees held in Alan Lomax's loft which are characterized as "spiritual experiences" (p. 72) are great. And finally, after taking this Mr. Toad's Wild Ride of an Autobiography, I imagine Dylan best summed up his own ever-shifting musical experiences--particularly biting during his leave-me-alone-I-have-a-family-to-protect era: "I thought that the book [Lorayne's Secret of Mind Power:] might help me to continue freeze-framing my image, help me in learning how to suggest only shadows of my possible self" (p. 140). After slogging through this book, I'd say he has most certainly mastered the freeze-framing technique and given his readers only shadows of his possible self.
In closing, I note that this biography is subtitled ...Volume One and I can honestly state that it's a somewhat passive-aggressive approach to biography. I have no particular interest in going down a hypothetical ...Volume Two track, but am sure that there are legions of fans who will be more than willing to do so. When they do, I'll happily read their reviews here.
What an interesting book! While I've categorized it as a biography, it's really much more of an extended position paper from Bhutto to the world. In i...moreWhat an interesting book! While I've categorized it as a biography, it's really much more of an extended position paper from Bhutto to the world. In it, she wishes to make three main points. Those points are that: (1) while there is considerable diversity within Islam (as is true for any of the "big three" monotheistic faiths), in recent years it has been hijacked in a manner of speaking to achieve particular anti-Western political ends; (2) that Islam and democracy, the West, and modernity (esp. technology) are not antithetical--with particular emphasis on the democracy variable; and (3) that Islam is very poorly understood in the West, sometimes because of its complexity but just as frequently because of western groups that wish to emphasize the extremist groups to meet their own political agendas (Ann Coulter, anyone?). Bhutto eloquently makes--and demonstrates with benefit of historic and recent examples--the point that, "All children of the Book have suffered from those who would use force in God's name to achieve political objectives" (p. 30).
Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West is extremely ambitious in scope. Bhutto provides a wealth of background on Islam, on its history and the dynamic nature of Sharia law. The book gets a bit bogged down in the history of failed democracies across the globe--frequently as a combined result of post-colonial intervention by former colonizers with short-sighted goals of resource extraction (i.e., oil), fighting communism, and/or the war on terror. Despite the long middle bit (which really only seems long because she repeats herself a bit for emphasis), the book is well written, thoroughly researched and, above all the hope that it offers is a fitting testimony to this brave woman and the sacrifice that she, her family (husband remained in Dubai with their underage children so that if the worst happened they would still have one parent), the people of Pakistan and--indeed--the world have made. Sadly, Ms. Bhutto was assassinated just days after delivering her final edited manuscript of the book to her publishers. It's a highly provocative book by a remarkable human, and I thoroughly recommend it.(less)
Both writer's how-to and autobiography, this book shared advice about surviving a life in academia that I have seen proven true time and time again. A...moreBoth writer's how-to and autobiography, this book shared advice about surviving a life in academia that I have seen proven true time and time again. A gift from Dr Heilbrun to the rest of us. Any woman entering the maze should definitely read this book.(less)
A well-written biography of a compelling man. Years later when we visited Dublin--and Collins' grave at Glasnevin--I thought back on incidents that ha...moreA well-written biography of a compelling man. Years later when we visited Dublin--and Collins' grave at Glasnevin--I thought back on incidents that had been covered here. A really well-done introduction to the man and the times.(less)