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James Burn, The Beggar Boy: An Autobiography, Relating The Numerous Trials, Struggles, And Vicissitudes Of A Strangely Chequered Life, With Glimpses Of English Social, Commercial, And Political History, During Eighty Years, 1802-1882
James Burn, The Beggar Boy: An Autobiography, Relating The Numerous Trials, Struggles, And Vicissitudes Of A Strangely Chequered Life, With Glimpses Of English Social, Commercial, And Political History, During Eighty Years, 1802-1882
by James Dawson Burn
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars English 1820s beggar boyhood, June 14, 2014
“The Autobiography of a Beggar Boy” by James Dawson Burn (1855). Partial comments from a very short review by Emma Griffin in the 14 June 2014 Wall Street J. (p. C10) : “James Burn was the illegitimate son of an itinerant beggar… but as a working man living through the Industrial Revolution, he testifies to the positive changes wrought by industrialization. At the core of his autobiography is the story of his desperately poor childhood, his often absent mother, his intense yet troubled relationship with his stepfather, and his struggle for self-knowledge in the face of uncertain origins. Yet Burn knew…that he was living in a changing world – one that allowed for other possibilities than endless privation….. He had come to feel…that industrialization was enhancing the lives of poor men such as himself….”


Autobiography of a Beggar-boy
Autobiography of a Beggar-boy
by James Dawson Burn
Edition: Hardcover
5 used & new from $11.32

4.0 out of 5 stars English 1820 beggar boyhood, June 14, 2014
“The Autobiography of a Beggar Boy” by James Dawson Burn (1855). Partial comments from a very short review by Emma Griffin in the 14 June 2014 Wall Street J. (p. C10) : “James Burn was the illegitimate son of an itinerant beggar… but as a working man living through the Industrial Revolution, he testifies to the positive changes wrought by industrialization. At the core of his autobiography is the story of his desperately poor childhood, his often absent mother, his intense yet troubled relationship with his stepfather, and his struggle for self-knowledge in the face of uncertain origins. Yet Burn knew…that he was living in a changing world – one that allowed for other possibilities than endless privation….. He had come to feel…that industrialization was enhancing the lives of poor men such as himself….”


Autobiography of a beggar boy; in which will be found related the numerous trials ... of a strangely chequered life; with glimpses of social and political history over a period of fifty years
Autobiography of a beggar boy; in which will be found related the numerous trials ... of a strangely chequered life; with glimpses of social and political history over a period of fifty years
by James Dawson. Burn
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.14
2 used & new from $13.81

4.0 out of 5 stars 1820 English beggar boyhood, June 14, 2014
“The Autobiography of a Beggar Boy” by James Dawson Burn (1855). Partial comments from a very short review by Emma Griffin in the 14 June 2014 Wall Street J. (p. C10) : “James Burn was the illegitimate son of an itinerant beggar… but as a working man living through the Industrial Revolution, he testifies to the positive changes wrought by industrialization. At the core of his autobiography is the story of his desperately poor childhood, his often absent mother, his intense yet troubled relationship with his stepfather, and his struggle for self-knowledge in the face of uncertain origins. Yet Burn knew…that he was living in a changing world – one that allowed for other possibilities than endless privation….. He had come to feel…that industrialization was enhancing the lives of poor men such as himself….”


The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War
The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War
by A. J. Baime
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.59
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pacifists don't make good warplane builders., June 10, 2014
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“The Arsenal of Democracy” by A.J. Baime (July 2014). I have read hundreds of books related to World War II, and I initially thought that this book would be a rather boring look at production data regarding various WWII aircraft. I could not have been more wrong.

This is the first WWII book that I have regarding how the Ford Motor Co. -- primarily at the instigation of Edsel Ford -- started from scratch in building warplanes to support Pres. FDR’s desire of supplying warplanes to the British and Russians.

This is the first time that I have read anything about how Henry Ford was so opposed to the “socialist” polices of FDR, that Henry actively strove to curtail -- if not outright end -- his company’s efforts in supplying warplanes to the British. Besides Henry’s almost fanatical opposition to anything FDR was advocating, Henry was a pacifist who thought that his company’s production of warplanes would assist FDR in guiding the U.S. into war in support of Britain.

Henry apparently had a sincere loathing of war, and its destructive consumption of soldiers and civilians – so much so that Henry became an active pacifist in opposing America’s slip-sliding into war in support of England.

Unlike Henry, his son Edsel was all aboard in supporting FDR’s plans in aiding the UK. Having not been familiar with this topic before, I found this book to be very informative with its revelations about how harsh the split was between Henry and Edsel, as to how the Ford Motor Co. might enter the production of warplanes. The company had never before manufactured airplanes.

Henry hired the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh for advice in how to manufacture warplanes, and as they both thought that the Allies could not defeat Hitler’s well-armed Nazi Germany, both were against the U.S. in aiding the UK – in fear that the U.S. would be dragged into the war. Prior to reading this book, I had no inkling of how Henry distrusted his own son, Edsel, in running the company – so much so that he even hired Henry Bennett to be his hatchet-man in running the company, instead of his son Edsel. Henry also used Bennett in various shocking violent union-busting activities.

Even before starting the production of warplanes, Henry’s dominance of the auto industry was falling as he failed to head buyers’ opinions that they wanted more variety in their automobiles. Edsel wanted to head these changing trends, but Henry -- perhaps due to medical problems – failed to follow buyers’ desires.

The book briefly discusses some of the racial conflicts/riots that broke out, as southern blacks moved to Detroit and were hired to fill the many manufacturing jobs in Detroit. I would have liked to have seen the author expand on this topic.

As I read through this book, I initially thought that I would give it just 3-stars, and as I learned more, 4 stars -- until finally realizing how encompassing this book really is, I finally raised it to a 5-star rating.

The author wrote about the difficulties of how the Ford company was curtailed in its warplane manufacturing due to the lack of availability of raw materials, as well as the difficulty in building a warplane-manufacturing complex in a rush while American military forces were suffering defeats in early 1942.

Even without this book’s look at Ford’s entering the warplane-production business, this book could have stood on its own with its remarkable insight into the dysfunctional business thoughts between Henry and his son Edsel. What was never resolved was why Henry was so opposed to auto innovation in his company.

It was interesting to learn how Edsel's wife broke the logjam in enticing Henry to turn the control of his company over to his grandson Henry II.

I highly recommend this book to any student of World War II – it must not be overlooked for understanding in part how the American manufacturing industry came to provide the armaments needed to defeat the Axis.


North of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Unusual Family, and How I Survived Both
North of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Unusual Family, and How I Survived Both
by Cea Sunrise Person
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.92
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Marijuana Childhood, June 6, 2014
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“North of Normal” by Cea Sunrise Person (June 2014). A sorrowful memoir recounting the experiences of a young girl (with her usually constantly marijuana-induced teenage mother) growing up in various hippie tipi camps strewn between Alaska and mid-Canada during the 1980s.

The child of a brief love affair between teenagers who decide not to marry, the author is raised by her single mother, who wanders with various boyfriends living in rundown shacks in Alaska and/or with her drug-loving grandparents, who live illegally in poorly built tipis in small hippie communes on Indian reservations in Canada –even the Indians threaten to burn down their campsites.

Despite heavy rains, snow and at times little food (sometimes foraging for greens, grubs and animals in the woods), her mother decides to remain in their nomadic lifestyle, rather than allowing the author to grow up with her ex-husband’s urban-living grandparents.

The author’s mother is heavily influenced by her drug-loving father, who prefers living off the land in the rural outback – away from the “authorities”, who he believes want to curtail too much of his nomadic free-love lifestyle. Good food is infrequent, bathing is in the streams, and toilet paper is scarce.

By the time she is five, the author realizes that her childhood, and her living conditions, are not “normal.” As a young child, she frequently feels threatened by her mother’s drug-high guyfriends, with whom her mother trades sex for fleeting “support”. She disliked having her grandfather walking around the campsite naked, and didn’t like him using a flashlight to view her laying naked on her bed at night, while her mother was on a marijuana high elsewhere.

She was trying to find love in a commune where her grandfather told her that one should just “live for the moment” and once someone left that commune, they really didn’t exist any longer in the minds of the commune members – hence, no birthday cards from her mom’s grandparents.

And then begins a teenage life of shoplifting, early sex with passing boyfriends, and surviving.

As she looked older than her age, about the age of fifteen she had entered the fashion industry, and flew even to Europe for photo-shoots. The author had two failed marriages, before getting counseling and entering a successful third marriage and having children. One day while in a counseling session, she saw a book written by her father who had written on the subject of how to successfully raise a family – at the same time that he couldn’t assist his out-of-wedlock-born daughter (the author).

Successfully on par with “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls, “Pigs Can’t Swim” by Helen Peppe, and “Free Spirit” by Joshua Safran.


Crazy Stories, Sane God: Lessons from the Most Unexpected Places in the Bible
Crazy Stories, Sane God: Lessons from the Most Unexpected Places in the Bible
by John Alan Turner
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.41
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bible weirdness, June 2, 2014
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“Crazy Stories Sane God” by John Turner (May 2014). The author is a devout Christian minister who tries to fathom the unfathomable: the meaning of some 30 crazy, implausible, weird, unbelievable stories that appear in the Bible. Such as the one where “a prophet calls a couple of bears out of the woods to maul a gang of rowdy teenagers”, and other weird stories.

While the author writes in a rather humorously flippant style in analyzing these stories, he seriously seeks to understand why these baffling stories are posted in the Bible. While he tries to present a plausible explanation for some of the stranger stories, he isn’t able to convincingly explain their placement, or relationship as to why they are relevant to us today – or even to those experiencing the event in their own time in the Bible.

A little frustratingly, several times he will discuss some embarrassing story in the Bible, but instead of quoting the Bible directly, he refers a reader to look up the passage in the Bible; it would have been much more convenient if the author would have reprinted the direct quotations from the Bible – but apparently the author found some of the passages referring to sexual acts as too embarrassing to be reprinted in his book (perhaps too embarrassing if he were trying to have his book to be included in a church’s library).

This is no high-brow “Oxford History of the Bible”- like book; it is much simpler. I had hoped that this book could have presented a more scholarly look at these “crazy stories”, but perhaps this is the best that can be done. Nonetheless, this was an enjoyable read in having so many “crazy Biblical stories” presented in one book.

If the author weren’t so religiously minded or fearing charges of blasphemy, he might have been closer to understanding these baffling passages had he titled his book: “Crazy Stories, Crazy Gods”.


Sky Tinged Red: A Chronicle of Two and a Half Years in Auschwitz
Sky Tinged Red: A Chronicle of Two and a Half Years in Auschwitz
Price: $9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Auschwitz death-camp Survivor WWII, June 2, 2014
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“Sky Tinged Red” by Isaia Eiger (June 2013). WOW!! What a really revealing, and riveting, account of the experiences of a Polish Jew who surprisingly lived to tell his tales of surviving as an inmate in the Nazi-killing camp called Auschwitz, for two-and-a-half years during World War II!

Yes, many other books have been written by Jews who survived persecution by Nazis during WWII. However, in this book, the author provides an almost unique account of what it was like working inside one of Hitler’s execution-concentration camps for Jews (and other “undesirable” peoples: homosexuals, gypsies, the mentally ill, etc.).

Most newly arriving Jews were executed almost immediately upon arrival at one of these death-camps. The author survived as he had several civilian skills that were sought by the Nazis in helping to make their death-chambers work smoothly: those who had plumbing and electrical skills, and in the author’s case, those who were conversant in several languages and who had nice calligraphy skills in filling out the various Nazi forms used in recording the extermination body-counts.

After his surprising release from the death-camp, effected by when the guards ran away from the approaching Russian soldiers, the author began a meticulous recording of his experiences of seeing families separated upon arrival at the camp: most being immediately sent to the extermination gas-chambers, and a few kept alive as they had useful work skills needed by the German administrators.

This book notes the randomness of life or death: depending upon merely which work detail a prisoner was assigned for the day – life if the job needed to be continued the next day, or possible death if the task was completed. The author recounts watching in horror as he saw long-unseen friends arrive by train and then immediately directed towards the paths leading to the crematoriums – and his being unable to shout to them that they should try to escape their pending death. The author recounts the daily living conditions of those prisoners who were retained by the Germans: captives who had to fight over a loaf of bread in order to get their share, standing in formations for hours on end in the rain/snow to achieve proper headcounts, or standing in mass groups to synchronize the taking off and putting on their prison caps – for the mere amusement of the guards, and the painful punishments meted out to those prisoners who failed to work fast or hard enough – much slapping along with beatings, and having teeth knocked out when an inmate failed to perform well for a guard.

And toiling in the rain and the snow in thread-bare clothing while repairing the imprisoning wire and electrical fences. The author noted that whenever a prisoner fell ill, even if they had a useful job skill, they were sent to the infirmary – and then almost certainly slipped out the back door to be executed without any chance of receiving any medical care – why bother to treat when healthy replacements were arriving almost daily at the camps?

This is destined to be one of the premier books revealing first-hand harrowing abuses that were inflected upon those imprisoned at the Auschwitz death-house. A “must have” book!


The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book
The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book
by Peter Finn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.04
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Soviet repression of "Dr. Zhivago", May 23, 2014
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“The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book” by Peter Finn & Petra Couvee (June 2014). Interestingly, there are several mini-stories/plots within this very informative, real-life, almost-spy-adventure thriller. The story about the life of the author of “Doctor Zhivago”: Mr. Boris Pasternak; the story about how the CIA reprinted Pasternak’s anti-Bolshevik book for smuggling into the Soviet Union in an attempt to undermine the Soviet Union’s moral authority; and the story about how Pasternak’s literary friends either stood beside him or abandoned him to covey favor with the communist hierarchy.

Before the publication of “Doctor Zhivago”, its author was recognized as a great Russian poet, and he had met the revolutionist Leon Trotsky – who was interested in enticing poets to champion the Soviet view of the collectivist man. Pasternak was able to obtain employment within the restrictive communist government as a translator, and sometime author of poetry. His poetry books brought in some income.

These funds were able to support him as he wrote “Doctor Zhivago” in great secrecy; he showed it only to a few close friends – some of whom thought the book was colorless. However, c. 1956, after writing “Doctor Zhivago”, Pasternak -- who had been informed by his friends that the Soviet government would not allow the anti-statist book to be published within repressive Russia -- had the book’s manuscript smuggled out and published in the West, much to the consternation of the anti-individualism communists.

When his book earned a Noble Prize in Literature, the pro-Soviet apparatus tried to have Pasternak’s literary friends pressure him to denounce the prize. What I found of new relevance to me was how the U.S. government, then fighting the “Cold War” against Red Russia, thought that the book would help undermine the soviet Evil Empire.

The Brits first obtained the manuscript on film, then gave it to the CIA. The CIA had the book printed in Russian, and given to students and others returning to the Workers’ Paradise. The Brits wanted the book to be printed outside the U.S., so it wouldn’t be “tainted” as being some type of CIA plot. This subtle plot almost fell apart when one of their Russian-turncoat agents tried to have it published in the U.S. to impress some of his colleges.

Once Pasternak fell from the Soviet government’s grace, this book reveals how the commies tried to pressure his literary friends into having him renounce the Nobel Prize, and thereby salve the Soviet’s wounded image. It was a difficult time in the late 1950s & early 60s for Russians to flaunt the KGB and stand in support of dissidents; a sad story of some of Pasternak’s literary friends abandoning him to appease the State. Nonetheless, a very enjoyable read; I highly recommend it.


Zero Six Bravo: The Explosive True Story of How 60 Special Forces Survived Against an Iraqi Army of 100,000
Zero Six Bravo: The Explosive True Story of How 60 Special Forces Survived Against an Iraqi Army of 100,000
by Damien Lewis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.46
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another inept "Charge of the Light Brigade", May 15, 2014
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“Zero Six Bravo” by Damien Lewis (2013 hb, 2014 pb), 280 pgs. A story about a British military unit consisting of 60 special-force-ops soldiers who are air dropped into Iraq to arrange the surrender of the 100,000-man strong Iraqi 5th Army Corps (5AC).

For some questionable reason, British intel thought that the 5AC was ready to surrender. Instead, while the British unit thought that it was secretly infiltrating into a protective, shallow wadi near the 5AC, they were being monitored by the Iraqis all along. The Iraqis ambush the Brits, who miraculously escaped with none of their own being killed. However, the Brits have to flee in a desperate pell-mell haste, and loose a couple of their vehicles in deep mud. I found this remarkable tale to be told quite well. It explains how the mission was organized, and explains how this unit tried to infiltrate Iraq. The justification of the mission itself seemed to be based on very dubious intel analysis.

I found it quite incredulous that the Brits weren’t able to receive U.S. close-air support simply because the Brits were just too close to the enemy, and the Americans didn’t fire because they wanted to avoid causing “friendly fire” casualties amongst the Brits.

The battle-exfiltration process is a real nail-bitter, with great writing in describing the harrowing battlefield action – simply unbelievable at times, how the Brits constantly got repeated “lucky breaks” in escaping the constant Iraqi attacks.

Some reviewers were critical of the number of pages devoted to analyzing the pre-battle preparations -- I thought they were useful in helping to understand what all needs to be contemplated before running off to battle. I really enjoyed this story; I could hardly put the book down for a break.


Fitness Weight Training-3rd Edition
Fitness Weight Training-3rd Edition
by Roger W. Earle
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.23
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No pain, no gain, May 15, 2014
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“Fitness Weight Training (Third Edition)” by Thomas Baechle & Roger Earle; 264 pgs; March 2014. Its book-cover touts its usefulness: “63 exercises and 75 programs for building, shaping, and strengthening muscles.” The “Look Inside” feature doesn’t do justice to this large-size, glossy, paperback with hundreds of colored photos.

On pages 48-49 there is a nice “Exercise Finder” that guides you as to what pages you can find exercises for “(the) Core; Chest; Back, Shoulders; Biceps; Triceps; Thigh; Hamstrings; Quadriceps; Claves; & Whole Body”. Then each of these specific body-area topics is subdivided into various exercises, and whether by: barbell, machine (pulley), machine (cam); free-weights; or rope.

For each exercise there are instructions for either standing, sitting or squatting, and what to do for upward or downward movements – along with photos. Depending upon your age and standard-of-fitness, there are different color-groups of exercise repetitions, sets, and for how many minutes each day. And each of these “color groups” is broken down into categories of: Muscle Toning, or Body Shaping, or Strength Training.

Even if you don’t have a weight-machine, there are plenty of other exercises depicted. Each of the color-group of exercises varies between 45 minutes up to 1.25 hours of effort. Argh! The push-up exercise with one’s feet atop a large stability ball makes me winch just looking at it -- I’ll have to try it tomorrow at the gym! (About half of the book depicts various exercises, while the last half are reps/sets charts of different color-groups of difficulty.)


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