It's the usual story...married with kids, bored with life, seeking excitement outside the marriage. The couple shares little in common. The wife is a It's the usual story...married with kids, bored with life, seeking excitement outside the marriage. The couple shares little in common. The wife is a head-turner; impulsive and adventurous. The husband is more cerebral; introverted and pragmatic. The relationship has fizzled out. Then, the wife goes missing. This story was a nice distraction from the non-fiction that I usually read. The mystery behind the wife's disappearance is believable, just as it is unfortunate. The premise is that one day, one single decision can forever change your own life and the lives of those closest to you. The characters could have been better-developed. The children in particular were on the periphery of the family unit, thus making the story a bit stilted. It was a quick read for me; precisely what I wanted at the time. ...more
This book is informational, thought-provoking, and concise in its delivery. The book is written in the fashion of TED talks. Schwartz explains how ou This book is informational, thought-provoking, and concise in its delivery. The book is written in the fashion of TED talks. Schwartz explains how our comprehension and attitudes toward work have been shaped and distorted throughout history. He interprets the reasons for working which extend beyond simply making money to pay for stuff;(food, clothing, shelter, etc.) His facts and observations encourage further exploration of the daily activity we call 'work'. It can be read in one sitting. For such a short book, each page delivers exponentially. Schwartz provides anecdotes and references that can be applied to real life, in real time....more
The story reveals what it means to be human. We live, we suffer, we love, we die; and along the way we make decisions that impact our own lives as we The story reveals what it means to be human. We live, we suffer, we love, we die; and along the way we make decisions that impact our own lives as well as the lives of those around us. Camus explores the reactions in this one, small town, as a deadly plague spreads among its inhabitants. The story held my attention, but it was Camus' unique choice of words that kept me engaged in the plight of these characters. I now want to read more of Camus' work. ...more
This book was discussed by the Classic Book Club at my library. Some members had difficulty with the character development, but I did not. I put face This book was discussed by the Classic Book Club at my library. Some members had difficulty with the character development, but I did not. I put faces to each, easily. It was fun to read.I was pulled into the sisters' lives immediately. Lawrence's characters are at times comical, frustrating, intellectual, frivolous, etc. Being privy to the characters' thoughts on marriage and the opposite sex was entertaining to me. I recommend this as one of the more enjoyable, light-hearted classics. ...more
...an AMAZING, well-written book, perfect for everyone! It's the biography of James Howard "Billy" Williams, a veteran of the Great War. After the war...an AMAZING, well-written book, perfect for everyone! It's the biography of James Howard "Billy" Williams, a veteran of the Great War. After the war, he took a position in Burma with the Bombay Burma Trading Corporation as overseer for their teak logging industry.
This is Billy's story; his working life, his personal life, and how his energy and intelligence were put to unique use when WWII arrived, courtesy of the Japanese. It's the story of the working elephants of Burma, as well. One elephant is particular, Bandoola, is treasured for his strength and intelligence. Together, Billy and Bandoola 'fight' against the Japanese. The fighting in Burma would become the "longest campaign of WWII".
Every page of this book is amazing. It's both exciting and informational; animal behavior...an elephant autopsy...British colonialism...the teak logging industry...elephant-built bridges...monsoons...Japanese invasion...dangerous escapes...etc.
It's a book about heroism, history, adventure, and above all else, love. This is one of the few books that I will add to my collection and read again. ...more
Many children in Europe lost parents in the 1940's. Isaac Levendel was one of those children. His mother disappeared from his life when he was only 7Many children in Europe lost parents in the 1940's. Isaac Levendel was one of those children. His mother disappeared from his life when he was only 7 years old. In this book he lovingly and longingly remembers his beautiful, caring, doting mother, a victim of the Auschwitz gas chambers.
Reading this story, I could feel his loss. His words convey the heartache he still feels, so many decades later. In his quest for truth, he discovers that Vichy France, collaborating with the Nazi's, is responsible for his mother's arrest, deportation, and death. It is the French people; neighbors, civil servants, anti-Semites, who assisted in delivering his mother and other Jews to the Gestapo. His investigation reveals the Vichy government members who are directly responsible for his mother's death. He is a son whose mother was ripped from his life. He is angry. Reading this, my chest would tighten, and I would cry. It is impossible to read without shedding tears. He has exposed his mother's murderers. He has identified them by name.
He honors the families who helped keep him safe following his mother's disappearance. He gratefully reveals their names and expresses his appreciation for the kindness and goodness they showed him. He knows how fortunate he was to have these good, special people as his caretakers.
His accounting of events and extensive research forces me to wonder what my actions would have been if I had found myself living in Avignon in the 40's. Would I have hunted the Jews or would I have harbored them, protected them? If I had been a civil servant, would I have quit my job instead of helping the Gestapo? Would I have joined the Resistance? History repeats itself. No child should ever again experience the trauma experienced by Isaac. His search for the truth pays tribute to the memory of his mother while implicating those who were instrumental in her death. I believe his mother would be proud of him. ...more
'The Soldier at the front needs to have a cause in his heart as well as a gun in his hand.' -Emily Miller Danton, Librarian.
In the last two months of 'The Soldier at the front needs to have a cause in his heart as well as a gun in his hand.' -Emily Miller Danton, Librarian.
In the last two months of 1941, the ALA (American Library Association)spearheaded a campaign to collect books through donations and distribute the books to our servicemen. The campaign's official start date was January 12, 1942. In the first two weeks, 403,655 books were collected! By 1944. the War Department had taken over. At that time, rival publishing companies worked in concert, experimenting with various font sizes, printing techniques, and binding methods to create paperback books that are called ASE's (Armed Service Editions).
The development and implementation of this project is described well in this book. The author includes letters from servicemen and explains the impact of the ASE's. I learned how banned books and censorship were addressed during this time. I discovered that there existed a woman called Axis Sally, AKA the Berlin Bitch, who tormented our troops in Europe via radio just as Tokyo Rose tormented out troops in the Pacific theater.
In this book, the creation of the GI Bill is presented in detail, as are the procedures established enabling our troops to vote during their deployment. This book reveals activities and events about which I knew very little. I love learning more about this defining period of U.S./World history. The author does a magnificent job with these subjects! ...more
Elie Wiesel's experience as a young man in a concentration camp is horrific. This story is concise, yet heart-wrenching. His life becomes a nightmare;Elie Wiesel's experience as a young man in a concentration camp is horrific. This story is concise, yet heart-wrenching. His life becomes a nightmare; separating from his mother and siblings, witnessing his father's death, living with daily atrocities. In the book, he states that it is not possible for his reader to feel what the prisoners felt. Instead, he writes so that readers will at least understand. He succeeds in facilitating that understanding. It is difficult to read. ...more
Cather's writing is beautiful! She describes perfectly the Southwest's topography with its fiery colors and natural formations. She sets each scene b Cather's writing is beautiful! She describes perfectly the Southwest's topography with its fiery colors and natural formations. She sets each scene beautifully using pure, flawless prose that brings this novel to life. The story takes place in the 1800's in New Mexico which is surrounded by new U.S. territories whose Native inhabitants enjoy both tribal traditions and Christianity. The lives of two European priests serving in this uncultivated region are followed. There are incidents of extreme cruelty and lawlessness, but even greater occasions of beauty, love, and loyalty. It's an intriguing piece of fiction. What I found most beautiful were the days leading to the Archbishop's death. Cather offers a fitting ending to this novel, which is both solemn and gratifying. I look forward to our book club discussion on Thursday! ...more
"Twenty Letters to a Friend", is an outpouring of Svetlana Alliluyeva's deepest feelings and memories before her defection in 1967. She recounts the h"Twenty Letters to a Friend", is an outpouring of Svetlana Alliluyeva's deepest feelings and memories before her defection in 1967. She recounts the happiness and tragedies in the first half of her life, much as a woman would do if writing a letter or speaking to a close friend. She shares fond, warm memories of her childhood; people who loved her and treated her kindly. Even her father, Josef Stalin, seems to have had a moderate degree of tenderness toward his only daughter. Every daughter wants her parents' love. Svetlana was no exception. I wonder if perhaps Svetlana was struggling to find memories of Stalin's parental love for her own sake, rather than to offer an accurate account of her childhood. Others with whom she did have loving relationships; aunts, uncles, caregivers, etc..., were frequently arrested and jailed at her father's behest. How difficult to love a father who brought unspeakable cruelties upon people she loved!
I read this book after having read, "Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva", by Rosemary Sullivan. "Twenty Letters...", captures Svetlana's emotions toward her family and friends while living under Communist rule. Having read, "Stalin's Daughter..." first, provided the historical background and explanation of events that helped me understand and sympathize with Svetlana and her touching, personal stories in "Twenty Letters...".
Her writing is very good, especially when taking into consideration that it's a translation from the original which was written in Russian. From reading these very personal 'letters', it's easy to understand Svetlana's behaviors and choices made throughout the second half of her life, which are not included here. Hers was a life of contradictions, disappointments, and secrets. I recommend this book for its modest, intimate nature. I would have rated this a 4.5 if such a rating was available here. ...more
Svetlana Alliluyeva; daughter, sister, niece, student, wife, lover, mother, writer, friend... one of the 20th century's truly tragic characters. The Svetlana Alliluyeva; daughter, sister, niece, student, wife, lover, mother, writer, friend... one of the 20th century's truly tragic characters. The first two hundred pages or so form a descriptive history of 19th and 20th century Russia, communism, and the dictatorship of Josef Stalin, with all the arrests and executions associated with his rule. This was the world in which Svetlana experienced her childhood and adulthood until her defection on March 6, 1967, at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India.
A quote from the book, page 591......"It is a mistake to think that Svetlana was running from something; rather she was always running towards something, a version of life that would be different, that would meet the expectations of what a contented life could be".
Her defection to the U.S. and her life in America that followed, shows a woman who is indeed searching for a contented life; she craves some degree of love, of security, of happiness. She is welcomed and treated kindly by many, but there are others who exploit her and capitalize on her name, using proceeds from the publication of "Twenty Letters to a Friend", to further their own agenda.
For Svetlana, there is much loneliness and sadness. She's the little girl whose mother dies when Svetlana is only 6 1/2 years old. Ten years later, she's the 16 year old who discovers that her mother's death was a suicide. Her father is an important man, a busy man. Eventually, she gains a better understanding of her father's dictatorial power, realizing his control over the imprisonment of family members, those who Svetlana has grown up with and whom she loves.
The author's writing is amazing. I'm impressed that every word, every page, and every author's note contributes to create this true, historical page-turner. It's more than 600 pages long....NO superfluity...NO redundancy...NO confusion. It reads like a novel. High school and college students would benefit from reading this as part of a World History course. I loved reading it! ...more
Robert Saviano's, "Zero Zero Zero", is an amazingly detailed account about the big business of cocaine trafficking. Similar to hi***READ THIS BOOK***!
Robert Saviano's, "Zero Zero Zero", is an amazingly detailed account about the big business of cocaine trafficking. Similar to his other book, "Gomorrah", Saviano provides overwhelming information about illegal activities and how these activities direct world politics and economy. "Zero Zero Zero", addresses cocaine's origins and its history. Beginning with Columbia and Mexico, these cartels operate as a multi-million dollar industry, while employing violence, bribery and intimidation to move their product, globally.
Saviano covers every aspect associated with cocaine production and distribution, including the introduction of liquid cocaine. Bloody torture and killings made public on YouTube...payoffs on all levels...moving product by land, sea, air, and underground tunnels...cocaine hidden in marble, produce, carpets, flowers, canned goods...cocaine transported inside humans and dogs, the latter of which may be sliced open to retrieve the coke and then left to die. All this is real and occurs on a grand scale.
Saviano is nothing, if not thorough! Every step of this violent business is investigated by Saviano. Europe, Africa, Russia, all corners of the globe highlight cocaine's prominence in the world market. He explains Spain's welcoming ports. He tracks the lives and deaths of cocaine's key players. Saviano calls one trafficker, 'the Copernicus of cocaine' because 'he is the first to understand that it's not the world of cocaine that must orbit around the markets, but the markets that must orbit around cocaine'. The global cocaine industry is innovative, optimizing technology and adhering to the free market spirit. Money-laundering involving legitimate banks and other businesses creates dangerous alliances with narco-terrorists.
Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman of the Sinaloa cartel escaped from a Mexican prison one day before I finished reading, "Zero Zero Zero". The significance of his escape would have seemed like a foreign, distant event to me, instead of the impactful event for the cocaine community. The information gleaned from this book has opened my understanding to the violent, invasive underworld.
The writing is translated from Italian to English. It's not easy to read, but it's WORTH READING! The best advice I can give is to read with the purpose of understanding the practices and logistics of drug-trafficking. Read it to appreciate cocaine's influential position in the world; its place of prominence as a multi-national industry. It's difficult to keep track of the many names included here; El Chapo, El Magico, El Padrinho, El Mono, etc. So, don't focus on memorization. It's not crucial. What is crucial is understanding the scale on which these people operate; their local and global impact; their power; their ruthlessness; their elaborate creativity for product distribution and for money-laundering.
I read an ARC provided by Penguin Press, New York. Having written both "Gomorrah" and "Zero Zero Zero", it would seem that Robert Saviano will never have the opportunity to lead a normal life. His 24-hour police protection will continue. He has sacrificed so much of himself in order to provide readers with factual, verifiable information about these criminal activities. As a reader, I appreciate and admire the courage and selflessness required of Saviano to have written these books. He is a brave man. ...more