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Petit-Bond & l'étranger
Petit-Bond & l'étranger
by Max Velthuijs
Edition: Album

3.0 out of 5 stars Je l'ai lu en russe et ecrive cette critique en anglais. Un peu maladroit, mais toute le meme interessante., June 29, 2016
This review is from: Petit-Bond & l'étranger (Album)
One day the frog notices somebody new in the neighborhood. He goes back and tells his friends, the rabbit, the pig and the duck. They ask him about the stranger.

The stranger is a rat. The other animals all react quite predictably. Rats are dirty, aggressive, lazy, and given to stealing. We've got to get him out of here!

The frog isn't convinced. He wants to see with his own eyes. He starts hanging out where he can observe the rat at his encampment by the side of a stream. He observes that the rat does his own cooking, and it smells good. The rat takes a bath every day. He keeps his campsite clean. He reports that his back to his friends, but they are not swayed.

The frog boldly goes up and introduces himself one day. The rat says yeah, I've seen you hanging around, let's talk. And he invites the frog to sit down on the bench that he has built with a beautiful view out over the water. The rat tells the frog about his life. He is been to a great many countries, including China. He speaks three languages. In my Russian edition of this tale the other two are French and English. He has worked at a great many trades.

The frog is duly impressed. He notes that his friend the rabbit speaks only one language. But still the other animals are standoffish.

Then they find themselves in trouble. The pig's house catches on fire and the rat rushes in with water to put it out. The rabbit almost drowns, and the rat comes to the rescue. Three or four such episodes and the animals start to change their opinion. The rat becomes accepted as one of them.

The book closes with the frog going down one day to see the rat and finds that he has packed his tent into his backpack and is headed off. The frog is surprised and disappointed. The other animals turn out to see him off. He has seen all of the world, but not America, and that's what he wants to see next.

As another reviewer notes, this book is rather preachy. The rat is not very modest in the way he tells the frog how many languages he speaks and how much he can do. The book does not inquire whatsoever into why the pig, rabbit and duck might hold the opinions that they do. And it has the rat rather ungraciously remind them as he departs that the "dirty, lazy, dishonest" rat won't be with them anymore. The book may be a morality tale about prejudice, but as far as manners go, it comes up short.

In real life we live close to a bunch of Gypsies. They have taken up residence in abandoned houses along the right-of-way for a new Metro line. The houses are run down, unheated, and unkempt with trash and laundry in the yards. The Gypsies earn their living collecting plastic and old bottles and selling flowers in the city. They have large families. The neighborhood mothers move their kids elsewhere when the Gypsies show up on the beach. The mom-and-pop storekeepers don't trust them and treat them with a certain disrespect. Yet, I have not heard of any theft. We often sit next to them on in the back of the little bus to our neighborhood. One will ask me politely about my son, and I ask about her (seven) kids. Our population of Gypsies does not so closely fit the mold of social parasites. Though none appear trilingual (we converse in Russian; none even try English) and they are materially poor, they mind their own business.

I think that my son is better served by learning about the world as it is, seeing it, as the frog does, with his own eyes. But, yet he should not discount the opinions of pigs, ducks and rabbits. Most such opinion is based on some life experience. I am happy this story is in book format, so we can talk about it, and that he is reading it at home rather than getting the story in a school setting. It needs some perspective.

The vocabulary, pacing, and illustrations are good. I am glad that my son enjoys the book and that he can relate it to the world around him.


Crisis of Character: A White House Secret Service Officer Discloses His Firsthand Experience with Hillary, Bill, and How They Operate
Crisis of Character: A White House Secret Service Officer Discloses His Firsthand Experience with Hillary, Bill, and How They Operate

434 of 476 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling story of corruption, lust and major lacks of self-control and judgment at the highest levels, June 28, 2016
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This is a book about character. This review covers it chapter by chapter, but Chapter One, the next six paragraphs, gives the reader a feeling for the whole book. It is about two ruthless and unprincipled people and the chaos they caused.

Chapter 1 – The Vase

This is the prelude, a chapter taken out of historical sequence to illustrate what it was like within the Clinton White House. This is the chapter that was released sometime ago in the prepublication buildup.

The vase in question was a White House antique that Hillary through at Bill. It is a metaphor for the whole Clinton story.

Bill was reckless with his womanizing and his other peccadilloes. He did not hide them well at all, and he certainly did not have the self restraint to avoid embarrassing situations.

Hillary is a truly nasty piece of work. She is ruthlessly ambitious and uses intimidation to force her will on all those around her. She was witheringly profane in her speech to political aides, government functionaries, and especially the staff such as the Secret Service who because of their very positions are not allowed to defend themselves. She is a tyrant, a bully.

They do not understand planning and budgets. They are careless with the public money in their own. They are careless with their plans, making dramatic changes on a whim, keeping their staffs constantly off-balance.

They have no self-restraint, even with each other. That's what the vase is about. Hillary threw a registered piece of White House property, and antique vase, at Bill. It broke. What a potential catastrophe for the Secret Service if she happened to hit him and did him damage! They are there to protect him. As it was, the Clintons' greatest concern seems to have been to concoct an adequate lie to explain why the vase was no longer on the White House inventory.

Chapter 2 The Air Force Security Police

Byrne starts out with his personal history. He comes from an old American line with Irish roots. He spent time in the South, and the sense of honor and morality was inborn.

The sense of responsibility was reinforced by a tour in the Air Force. As those of us of who served in the military in those times will testify, they were not afraid to push us hard and turn us into men. That's what Byrne became.

His 13 month tour in Turkey gave him an appreciation that the Turks were different. He writes that he learned "allies are not friends, nor are they ever to be trusted farther than can be verified."

He was involved in some derring-do with the military police back in the United States at the time of the Grenada invasion in 1982. He recounts in a very matter-of-fact way that he was commanded to have not seen things he had just witnessed, and to deal with a catastrophe brought on by the Air Force's recent commitment to diversity – in this case a woman who folded under pressure and left items for which she was responsible on the tarmac where some got sucked into a jet engine, and there could have been a catastrophe had it been more.

Chapter 3 – Club Fed

Byrne got married and needed a steady job. His wife saw an employment ad for the Secret Service. It required passing a test which was grueling for a guy with dyslexia. It was a tough decision, but he left his job as an assembler at Boeing and went to work for the government. There was another grueling interrogation delving into his character, history, anything untoward in his past.

The training was rigorous, simulating every kind of threat that a president might face. Byrne had a high respect for the level of training and for his fellow Secret Service agents.

Chapter 4 – To the White House

Rookies in the White House Secret Service detail guard the perimeter of the grounds for fence jumpers and the like. The White House is a magnet for crazy people. He routinely dealt with bums urinating in public, dicky wavers and the like. In doing so he developed the camaraderie with his fellow Secret Service agents and at least an appreciation for the Washington Metropolitan police force.

Byrne gives an account of the dangers in the split-second decisions that an officer must make, and that kind of second-guessing that the echelons above him will apply. You not only have to do your job, you have to be concerned for how it will look to others.

Byrne met First Lady Barbara Bush. He was trained not to talk to the people he was protecting – the protectees - so he didn't reply when she said "Good morning." He was relieved to learn that good manners were okay with the Bushes. George H.W. Bush had a rapport with the Secret Service that came of having been in combat himself, putting his own life on the line against the Japanese. The Secret Service respected him. George H.W. Bush was gracious – when he had barbecues, he let the Secret Service join in despite their policy against mingling with the people they protected.

Byrne was very pleased serving George H.W. Bush. Neither he nor anybody in the country had any idea what was coming from the next election cycle, 1992.

Chapter 5. Meet the New Boss.

The Secret Service is stretched thin protecting candidates during presidential elections. Byrne's first encounter with the Clinton people was not a pleasant one – being dressed down by some Arkansas lawmen for not screening attendees at a political rally for guns… a task that would have been impossible, especially with an out-of-control protectee such as Bill Clinton.

Some of the Arkansas people were more forthright. "When I asked [an Arkansas Sheriff] about the Clinton's latest rumors, he gave me 1000 yard stare." "Let me tell you something, Gary. Everything – everything they say about them is true. The Clintons are ruthless. And [the media] don't know even the half of it."

Byrne also gives accounts of the Clintons' inability to appreciate the problems of protecting a candidate. They would thoughtlessly put up banners obstructing the ability of counter snipers to protect the president, or bleachers where Air Force One would blow them over with its jet blast. Everything was political, with little appreciation for the practical concerns of everyday people.

Chapter 6. The Boy from Hope, Arkansas

The Clinton entourage arrived from Arkansas with a chip on its shoulder. The Secret Service had to deal with the "don't you know who I am?" kind of question all the time. They were accused of many things, among them being homophobic if it was a gay person that they happen to stop.

Byrne writes "Unlike their predecessors, this administration didn’t focus, pace themselves, or even delegate. Staff wore jeans and T-shirts and faced each problem with grand ideological bull sessions. Rival foreign powers could influence the situation and change it before the Clinton administration could mold a plan and implement it. Their helter-skelter approach had deadly consequences abroad."

He describes the conversation about Mogadishu, Somalia, and the incredible ignorance of the political people – George Stephanopoulos, Rahm Emanuel and others – on how one wages war. The decision was made that the Americans who had been sent to quell the trouble there did not need tanks, armored personnel carriers, AC-130 gunships or any of that sort of equipment. "We don't want to look to militant," Army Rangers paid a heavy price for not looking "too intimidating" or "like invaders," valiantly fighting while stripped of the equipment they had requested. They died.

Byrne does not say as much, but to this reviewer it looks like a preview of our screw-ups in Serbia, Benghazi and elsewhere.

Chapter 7 – Billary

There are numerous anecdotes about the Clintons' total disregard for budgets with regard to such things as catered affairs at the White House, repairing the damage lawns, rewiring the White House and so on. He goes on to recount how Hillary used her famous temper to simply blow through these issues, refusing to accept no for an answer. Hillary vented on everybody. Byrne says that George Stephanopoulos is surprisingly candid on this count in his memoir ""All Too Human."

The gay issue came to the fore when Barney Frank led a group to the White House to demand fulfillment of promises that Bill had made during the campaign. The Secret Service, per protocol, had to examine the personal effects of all of people coming in. Many in the Frank party were HIV-positive and they took umbrage as the Secret Service followed their customary procedure and wore protective gloves in going through personal effects. There was a news story to that effect, embarrassing the Secret Service. Hillary Clinton compounded the problem by making it a huge issue and inadvertently letting the world know about the HIV status of the group.

Hillary berated Vince Foster mercilessly. Byrne says that he is not convinced of the thoroughness of the investigation into his suicide, and says with authority that the materials that were taken out of Foster's office after his death have never reappeared. That said, Blood Sport: The Truth Behind the Scandals in the Clinton White House and other accounts agree that Foster was a man out of place in the White House.

Byrne became friends with Gary Aldrich, the FBI agent who has written his own book, Unlimited Access : An FBI Agent Inside the Clinton White House. Aldrich was frustrated because the Clintons would ask for background investigations on people to gain political information, not for security reasons.

Byrne quotes Aldrich: "Mrs. Clinton [used] security agencies as a hammer to attack and punish those who stood in her way. The FBI, the Secret Service and the Internal Revenue Service hounded and then prosecuted seven innocent men who worked for the White House travel office simply because they were standing in the way of Mrs. Clinton’s political interests and ambitions. She knew federal investigations would destroy those good men, but she wanted her friends in those slots, and that was all that mattered. James Stewart covers this well in "Blood Sport," above.

Byrne cites instances in which he had to say no to Hillary rather than ignore his duties. She cursed at him, she berated him, but she finally had to accept no for an answer.

Chapter Eight. Clinton World

Clinton's young staff had no manners, no decorum. First Chief of Staff Mack McLarty, an Arkansas boy, was simply unable to manage them. Leon Panetta came in and restored order. In a telling incident, President Clinton walked in on a group of his staff who were sitting around with their feet on the table and just gabbing. Panetta was the only one to stand up. He later read them all the riot act, that they had to show some respect to the boss.

This chapter includes brief accounts of the bimbo eruptions and Whitewater scandal that are so well covered in "Blood Sport"

Chapter 9 Oklahoma City

This chapter is a bit of an aside, a commentary on how lax and contradictory procedures invite disaster, which sometimes pays a call.

Chapter 10 Mole

Monica Lewinsky came as a White House intern, and was more than obvious in her campaign to get close to the president. This was at the time of the government shutdown when most staffers were not at work. Clinton figured out what she wanted, and he wanted it also. Soon they were having trysts as he was supposedly "mentoring" her.

Monica used the Secret Service, hanging around their station so she could hear via radio where the President might be. Though nobody is supposed to have a free run of the White House, Lewinsky had no work to keep her busy and infinite time to probe the avenues that might get her to the President.

It was a game of cat and mouse. Monica probed everywhere she could, and was usually politely rejected by the Secret Service who did not accept her story of having to use the bathroom, deliver a note or whatever. But time was on her side – she did penetrate.

Monica used the top-secret White House communication agency telephone, intended for high level military brass, to call Clinton to see if the coast was clear to come to his office.

Byrne stepped out on a limb. On behalf of a group of Secret Service agents, he approached Evelyn Lieberman, the head of personnel, and a woman he respected, with the message that although it would be inappropriate to tell her why, the intern Monica Lewinsky had to be transferred out of the West Wing. Lieberman read between the lines and transferred her to the East Wing, Hillary's territory.

Chapter 11. Wild Bill.

But Monica came back! She had a badge as a paid presidential staffer. She was a mistress paid with taxpayer funds. This was a new low for a president.

A White House steward, a guy named Nel, found himself constantly coming across semen and lipstick stained towels. He was distraught – and one day showed some to Byrne. Nel was a Navy chief petty officer reduced to washing the president's incriminatingly soiled towels by hand to protect the President from embarrassment.

It wasn't just Monica. They knew the women in the White House by the lipstick that they were, and there were several colors.

Byrne took some incriminating materials that Nel had given him and put them in a burn bag. He then managed to get the burn bag into his car with the intent of destroying it personally, to protect the president. By the way, at this point in history special prosecutor Kenneth Starr had already started to investigate the Arkansas scandals concerning Whitewater and Paula Jones.

But this was ridiculous! He was risking his career to protect a President who wouldn't protect himself.

Chapter 12. USSS Work Environment

Byrne's sense of loyalty to the presidency was never in question, but his loyalty to Bill Clinton the man was certainly frayed and his commitment to the United States Secret Service was diminishing. His colleagues remain his closest friends. However, at the top the Clintons were trying to change the structure of the Secret Service.

Hillary brought a diversity policy to the White House, and a Diversity Club was formed, limited to nonwhite males. Byrne was incensed. He told his boss that he was a non-white male and wanted to join. He was the only Irish – Lebanese person of Arabic descent in the White House. And he was allowed to attend!

The topics under discussion were discrimination in promotions and the use of the Spanish language. Byrne, though he had not felt welcome at the meeting, had witnessed with his own eyes a lieutenant. who should not have had access to Secret Service promotion test sheets actually changing them. The Black officers' charges were probably correct! He could not testify as to what they changed, but he could confirm that the Lieutenant was writing on papers he should not have had access to.

Here was an irony. He had thought that the Diversity Club was something that was counterproductive and not needed, but yet he was stepping forward to defend the integrity of two highly qualified black officers. Taking their side against the Secret Service.

Chapter 13 Tours and JJRTC

The White House hosts public tours. I, the reviewer, have been on them. They are tightly controlled of course, but anyone can see the White House. Byrne wanted to join the Secret Service Special Operations Section which runs the tours, both for promotion and to get away from the Oval Office.

Joining required that Byrne master a vast amount of White House trivia so he could be an informed host. It was a daunting task for a man with dyslexia. However, with the help of his wife Genny he managed it – after several tries. He joined in autumn 1997.

Still, Monica Lewinsky comes back. Even though she had been transferred to the Pentagon, she showed up at the White House demanding see the president. Awkwardly, however, the president was tied up on this Friday afternoon with another mistress, Elinore Mondale. His secretary Betty Curry had the unenviable task of keeping the mistresses apart.

At this point the pressure from Ken Starr continued to build. Clinton would simply not give up his reckless behavior. Byrne asked for another transfer, this time to the Secret Service's James J Rowley training Center (JJRTC). It was quickly approved and he was out of the White House to suburban Maryland. The calm did not last.

The Drudge Report broke the Monica Lewinsky story in January 17, 1998. The Howard Stern show talked about the intern turned White House employee who had been having an affair, oral sex, the Oval Office, and the Secret Service. Michael Isikoff had had the story but Newsweek didn't have the courage to publish it. Everybody knew that the Drudge Report was right.

Ken Starr had his entrée. Bill Clinton had sworn under oath that he had not had any sexual relations with Paula Jones and moreover had never had any relationship with Monica Lewinsky. He said that they had never been in the same room together, and claimed that others could corroborate his claim. Monica Lewinsky had signed a similar affidavit.

Starr was frustrated. In every scandal he pursued, the commonsense evidence of the Clintons' guilt was overwhelming, but there was not enough to put together a court case. Watergate, Trooper Gate, the Foster suicide, the bimbo eruptions and so forth were met with denial, denial and denial.

Starr needed to prove that Clinton was a liar and and a perjurer. He needed evidence. And Byrne was on the White House logbook. The Secret Service had Byrne get in touch with their lawyers.

Chapter 14. Mud Drag

It was well known that Byrne had seen a great deal in his time at the White House. A retired Secret Service agent, Larry Fox, no longer sworn to confidentiality told the media quite a bit about what had gone on and furthermore that Byrne was the guy who was really in the know.

Ken Starr sent subpoenas to the Secret Service legal counsel, among which was one for Byrne. At issue was whether or not the "secret" in Secret Service would stand up to Starr's inquisition. Eventually the Secret Service would fight the question all the way to the Supreme Court, where it lost, meaning that agents could be asked to testify against their protectees. But the issue was in limbo for some time, with Byrne caught in the middle.

The Secret Service legal team resisted Starr's subpoenas. Byrne was briefed by the heavyweights on their team. It was a battle between two organs of the Justice Department. Starr had been appointed by Atty. Gen. Janet Reno, who had also appointed Gary Grindler to represent the Secret Service.

The Secret Service lawyers told Byrne that they had no fiduciary duty to him. He was not protected by the attorney – client relationship. Their job was to represent the Secret Service, not Byrne himself. They cautioned that it was going to be a long drawn out process, and they told him of his rights. That his own employer would take this arm's-length stance was daunting and frightening.

They told him that he could not release information that would be damaging to the security and safety of the president. That would be nonnegotiable. They told him not to buckle under pressure from Starr.

But within those caveats, there was a great deal of wiggle room. He was not allowed to perjure himself either or withhold information. He was in a double bind.

Within those constraints, Byrne told the Secret Service just about everything. Not much of what they would want to know was protected by security clearance. On the other hand, he didn't have to tell them everything. Since whatever he shared with the Secret Service would be available to Ken Starr in the discovery process, he was free not to talk.

Byrne was dragged in because Larry Fox had told them of his meeting with Evelyn Lieberman, the one that led to Monica's being transferred out of the West Wing. To protect herself, Lieberman had conveniently developed amnesia. She didn't remember.

Byrne called a lawyer friend of his, Mark, who immediately appreciated the gravity of the situation and was in a position to offer his counsel on a pro bono basis. That was an amazing piece of luck. It would turn out later that many of Byrne's Secret Service colleagues were destroyed by the Clintons callous use of lawyers to exhaust their funds.

Byrne's inclination was not to talk – to protect the President despite all of the scandalous behavior he had seen. However, it turned out that Linda Tripp, Monica Lewinsky's confidant in the Pentagon, would not protect the President. Rather, as she was talking to Monica on the one hand, she was talking to Newsweek on the other. Her sense of morality was gravely offended by what she knew of the President.

Byrne was being grilled by the Secret Service agents in a very hostile way. They accused him of corruption. He reflected, this is what Vince Foster must have felt before he committed suicide. However, with a supportive wife and a baby on the way he could not afford to fold. With his friend, his godsend Mark and a constitutional lawyer from Mark's firm covering his back, he could stand up.

The lawyers played rough. The FBI associates threatened to arrest Byrne and intimated that things might not go well for his pregnant wife. They cursed at him – and Byrne cursed back. Finally Grindler, the top guy on the case, told the FBI to back off. After all, they were all police and they had to retain a little professionalism. Byrne recounts that once again he was in a better position than some of his Secret Service colleagues. The government rode roughshod over those who were not as well positioned to protect themselves.

Then, with the pressure at the most intense, Byrne managed to get away to an inaccessible retreat where only his boss and the tour office knew how to contact him. However, at this time Monica's blue dress made its public debut. Byrne got a call that he had to return.

Chapter 15. Mud Drag Part Two

He had to return to answer a subpoena. Six subpoenas, actually, compelling him to testify by a videotape to a grand jury. The testimony was taken in a simple room.

Starr's lawyer reminded him of his rights against self-incrimination. She added that he could not lie by saying "I don't remember." They would not, however, ask about secret or privileged matters of the White House. Though they promised the tapes would not be made public, there was no promise that Congress would not see them. A Congressman leaked them and C-SPAN later broadcast the video of the interrogation, with the private information redacted out.

Byrne told the truth. He testified to the numerous times he had discovered Monica where she didn't belong, shared his opinion of her, told about how she manipulated friendships, how distraught Nel, the petty officer who washed Clinton's soiled towels had been. He could not legally mention semen - that belonged to the President.

He made it clear that he never considered that he was committing crimes. He was protecting the President from rumors, especially true rumors. The lawyers asked if he had associated the lipstick with Monica. Byrne had never revealed his thoughts on the matter. He considered that he was in a trap – his oath prevented him from responding honestly, but he did not want to lie

"I did not connect the lipstick to Monica at that time."

However, Starrr's team pressed on. "Did you connect the lipstick to anybody?"

"Without revealing any privileged information on the advice of my counsel yes I did."

And so Byrne went on to reveal that he associated it with a woman who was still employed in the White House, and gave her name.

Between a rock and a hard place, Byrne writes that he tried to insinuate that the President was an unabashed cheater and womanizer, without revealing confidential information.

This chapter became so gripping that I did not take time to write about it. It is so sleazy, so undignified, so smarmy.

This gives an overpowering lie to the concept that the Clinton scandals are "just about sex." This scandal destroyed many people, and came close to destroying Byrne. No wonder people are so angry!

It is my hope that the reader will give Byrne his due, buy this book, and become as incensed as I the reviewer am.

The chapter ends with a short account of the impeachment, the acquittal, and the end of Clinton's presidency.

Chapter 16 "Commence Firing"

Byrne still hope to become an instructor at the Secret Service agency. He failed the written test due to his dyslexia. But friends came through for him – he was allowed to retake the test orally. And he passed.

The chapter presents a cop's perspective on the cop's job. You have to be the best – if you aren't, you may not live, and you may not be able to protect the people who hire you.

Byrne completed probation after only six months whereas it usually takes a year. It was enjoyable duty.

He continued to serve under the George W Bush administration. Then came the twin towers catastrophe in New York. Byrne volunteered to go there to protect against whatever further terrorism might be in the works.

Pres. Bush was there at Ground Zero, addressing emergency workers in rallying the nation.

He concludes with a summary of the situation in the civil service. They are overworked and underpaid and definitely underappreciated. When the air marshals program was put in place in 2003, 300 Secret Service personnel left to join it. Byrne was one of them.

Chapter 17. New skies.

The Secret Service didn't want Byrne to quit, even after all they had put him through.

This chapter has nothing to do with the Clintons – it is about the bureaucracy of the Air Marshals service. Byrne is too intelligent a guy to take too much nonsense from anybody.

Chapter 18. Cyprus.

This chapter likewise has nothing to do with the Clintons. The Air Marshal Service got involved in the Middle East wars in order to protect Americans, in this case Americans who had found refuge in Cyprus from the fighting between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The air marshals would be escorting a home a mixed bag of Americans from both sides, who most likely sympathized with the people whose countries they had just fled.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 29, 2016 11:02 PM PDT


The Roma: A Balkan Underclass by Jelena Cvorovic (2014-10-27)
The Roma: A Balkan Underclass by Jelena Cvorovic (2014-10-27)
by Jelena Cvorovic
Edition: Paperback
2 used & new from $62.40

5.0 out of 5 stars A scholarly analysis of the Roma people in Eastern Europe; my personal note on Ukraine, June 27, 2016
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This book is a scholarly analysis of the Roma people in the countries in which they are most heavily represented: Eastern Europe and the former Yugoslavia. It provides a history of the Roma, starting with their arrival in Europe around 900 years ago. It describes their reception by the host populations. At times they were welcome for their skills as metalworkers and their willingness to do work that others would not. Generally, and recently, they have been increasingly unwelcome.

The heart of the book is an r/K analysis of the type used by Philippe Rushton in his study of African, European and Asian populations. The thesis is that r-type reproduction involves having many children and making less in book investment in each of them. The Gypsies certainly fit that pattern. Per this study, The average gypsy woman bears four children, three of which reach adulthood. They do not get much of an education or even much parental care. However, as members of a tightly knit community they seem to get enough attention to become thoroughly socialized.

There are chapters on Roma health and intelligence. Their health is dismal, with an average life expectancy about 10 years less than that of the host societies. Average intelligence varies from country to country, study to study. The figures for the studies cited in this book range from the low 60s to the low 80s. This puts the Roma just about on a par with native Africans, below African Americans, American Indians and middle Easterners.

The Gypsies were the first dark-hued minority to arrive in Europe, and they have been the subject of the most attention. The United Nations, the Soviet Union and the European Union have each made extensive efforts to attempt to bring the Gypsies into the mainstream. They have attempted to get them to settle down, attend school, and hold regular jobs. All efforts have been conspicuous failures. The Gypsies are highly inclined to stick with each other rather than integrate into the mainstream society. They show no aptitude for school, and no interest even if they did.

The Gypsies have become a particular problem for Western European nations. Attracted to the generous welfare benefits offered by the likes of England and France, the Gypsies have moved westward as the European Union removed impediments to migration. They are a drag on governmental resources everywhere. Efforts such as that by the Dutch to get rid of them by giving them airline tickets home didn't work: they created a carousel, with the same faces coming back time and again.

The case of the Gypsies should be of interest to social policy makers dealing with any minorities. It is a matter of evolution. When nature, or in this case society, creates a niche, organisms will emerge to fill that niche. This particular niche is money without working, and the Gypsies are only one among many social groups which have proven adept at filling it.

A personal note: Gypsies have taken up residence in abandoned houses along the right-of-way for a new Metro line half a mile from my house. The houses are run down, unheated, and unkempt with trash and laundry in the yards. The Gypsies earn their living collecting plastic and old bottles and selling flowers in the city. They indeed have large families. So far as I can see they treat the kids fairly well.

Our neighborhood mothers move their kids elsewhere when the Gypsies show up on the beach. The mom-and-pop storekeepers don't trust them and treat them with a certain disrespect. Yet, in the three years we have lived at this address I have yet to hear of any theft. They express gratitude when we bring plastic and bottles to be recycled. We often sit next to them on in the back of the little bus that serves our neighborhood. They ask me politely about my son, and I ask about their kids. My conclusion is that although they are certainly a drain on Ukraine's underfunded healthcare system, our particular population of Gypsies generally do not display the less desirable traits usually attributed to them. I wryly add that Ukrainians are a hard-nosed bunch; if they did they might find themselves looking for new quarters.

Here is the chapter outline:
Chapter 1. Introduction 1
Chapter 2. Overview of the Roma in Europe 11
Chapter 3. Country Reports: Central and Eastern Europe 29
Chapter 4. Country Reports: The Balkans 41
Chapter 5. Country Reports: The former Yugoslav Republics 63
Chapter 6. Demographic Comparison of Muslim and
Orthodox Roma in Serbia 107
Chapter 7. Variables 131
Chapter 8. Roma Education and Intelligence 149
Chapter 9. Roma Health 165
Chapter 10. Nouveau-riche Roma 179
Chapter 11. Conclusion 185


Herve Tullet: The Big Book of Art
Herve Tullet: The Big Book of Art
by Herve Tullet
Edition: Spiral-bound
37 used & new from $11.50

5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully offbeat notion of what a book might be, June 26, 2016
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This is a deceptively simple book. It is a collection of patterns and designs put together in such a way that the different pages can be laid beside or on top of each other to create interesting patterns. It is a book to expand the imagination of a young child. All of the patterns seem to be thoroughly abstract, but they are pleasantly composed, agreeable to look at.

The very concept of the book should be an inspiration to a kid. It is a new way to look at this thing we call a book. Does it have to have words? Do the pages have to go in sequence? Is there a top and a bottom? No, the book is whatever you want to make it.

This is a delightful change of pace for my son, most of whose books develop very different skills.


Frog and the Stranger (Frog series)
Frog and the Stranger (Frog series)
by Max Velthuijs
Edition: Hardcover
21 used & new from $0.98

3.0 out of 5 stars I do find this book a bit preachy. However, my 4-year-old son loves it., June 26, 2016
One day the frog notices somebody new in the neighborhood. He goes back and tells his friends, the rabbit, the pig and the duck. They ask him about the stranger.

The stranger is a rat. The other animals all react quite predictably. Rats are dirty, aggressive, lazy, and given to stealing. We've got to get him out of here!

The frog isn't convinced. He wants to see with his own eyes. He starts hanging out where he can observe the rat at his encampment by the side of a stream. He observes that the rat does his own cooking, and it smells good. The rat takes a bath every day. He keeps his campsite clean. He reports that his back to his friends, but they are not swayed.

The frog boldly goes up and introduces himself one day. The rat says yeah, I've seen you hanging around, let's talk. And he invites the frog to sit down on the bench that he has built with a beautiful view out over the water. The rat tells the frog about his life. He is been to a great many countries, including China. He speaks three languages. In my Russian edition of this tale the other two are French and English. He has worked at a great many trades.

The frog is duly impressed. He notes that his friend the rabbit speaks only one language. But still the other animals are standoffish.

Then they find themselves in trouble. The pig's house catches on fire and the rat rushes in with water to put it out. The rabbit almost drowns, and the rat comes to the rescue. Three or four such episodes and the animals start to change their opinion. The rat becomes accepted as one of them.

The book closes with the frog going down one day to see the rat and finds that he has packed his tent into his backpack and is headed off. The frog is surprised and disappointed. The other animals turn out to see him off. He has seen all of the world, but not America, and that's what he wants to see next.

As another reviewer notes, this book is rather preachy. The rat is not very modest in the way he tells the frog how many languages he speaks and how much he can do. The book does not inquire whatsoever into why the pig, rabbit and duck might hold the opinions that they do. And it has the rat rather ungraciously remind them as he departs that the "dirty, lazy, dishonest" rat won't be with them anymore. The book may be a morality tale about prejudice, but as far as manners go, it comes up short.

In real life we live close to a bunch of Gypsies. They have taken up residence in abandoned houses along the right-of-way for a new Metro line. The houses are run down, unheated, and unkempt with trash and laundry in the yards. The Gypsies earn their living collecting plastic and old bottles and selling flowers in the city. They have large families. The neighborhood mothers move their kids elsewhere when the Gypsies show up on the beach. The mom-and-pop storekeepers don't trust them and treat them with a certain disrespect. Yet, I have not heard of any theft. We often sit next to them on in the back of the little bus to our neighborhood. One will ask me politely about my son, and I ask about her (seven) kids. Our population of Gypsies does not so closely fit the mold of social parasites. Though none appear trilingual (we converse in Russian; none even try English) and they are materially poor, they mind their own business.

I think that my son is better served by learning about the world as it is, seeing it, as the frog does, with his own eyes. But, yet he should not discount the opinions of pigs, ducks and rabbits. Most such opinion is based on some life experience. I am happy this story is in book rather than video format, so we can talk about it, and that he is reading it at home rather than getting the story in a school setting. It needs some perspective.

The vocabulary, pacing, and illustrations are good. I am glad that my son enjoys the book and that he can relate it to the world around him.


Revolutionary Jews from Marx to Trotsky
Revolutionary Jews from Marx to Trotsky
by Robert S. Wistrich
Edition: Hardcover
15 used & new from $43.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Portraits of ten personalities that changed history. Emphasis on their Jewish nature more than their historical deeds, June 19, 2016
This is a book of 10 short biographies from the periods in which Jews first began taking an extremely active role in the societies where they lived. The issues that concern them, the dogmas that attracted them, changed from decade to decade. It is meaningful to note not only who the personalities were, but when and where they came from. The subjects of the book are:

Primarily German:
Karl Marx, 1818, Trier, Germany
Ferdinand LaSalle, 1825, Breslow (modern Wrocaw), Germany/Poland
Edward Bernstein, 1850, Berlin and Danzig/Gdansk
Rosa Luxembourg, 1871, Zamosc Poland/Russia

Austria – Hungary:
Victor Adler, 1852, Prague
Otto Bauer, 1881, Vienna

France
Bernard Lazere, 1865, Nimes
Leon Blum, 1872, Paris

Russian Empire / Soviet Union
Julius Martov, 1873, Constantinople/Russia
Leon Trotsky, 1879, southern Ukraine/Russia

These Revolutionary Jews were active in promoting socialism, in the labor movement, in anarchism and Bolshevism. As is well described in other books, Solzhenitsyn's Two Hundred Years Together and Slezkine's The Jewish Century, Jewish society, and the relationship of Jews to the host cultures among them they lived, changed extremely radically during this period.

For several centuries Jews had been quite separate, excluded from the mainstream societies on the one hand, and rejecting them on the other. They lived in their own ghettos and shtetls, speaking Yiddish in preference to the local tongues. They dressed differently and observed different religious customs, among which was the endless discussion of the Torah and the Talmud. They had different professions. They did not farm, nor did they want to. They were tavern keepers, distillers, and overseers for remote landlords.

In the early 19th century, the time of the Enlightenment, the Romance in literary history, the Industrial Revolution, they started to become better integrated into the host societies. They were admitted into schools, the universities, the Army and the civil service. They learned the host society languages. They became involved in civil affairs and politics.

Along the way, in generation after generation, they rejected their parents' wisdom and their parents' religion, attracted to new ideologies. More than merely attracted, they were the authors of new ideologies such as Marxism. As Wistrich quite clearly writes, they tended to be swept away with the dogmas of each new age. The rhetorical skills their ancestors had honed in Talmudic arguments were turned to secular affairs.

Jewish intelligence, which seems to have been an underused resource in their prior self-segregated life, became a formidable asset when competing with their European host societies in schools, universities, and civic affairs. These newly enfranchised Jews soon came to dominate most of the movements in which they became involved.

They realized different objectives in the different societies in which they found themselves. In Western Europe the labor movement and socialist politics were most attractive to the populations. Therefore, the French, German and Austrian figures addressed in this book tended to be labor leaders and the leaders of leftist political parties. Russia was a different question. It was backwards, agrarian and religious in a fairly primitive way. The sophisticated reasoning that was useful in Western Europe was wasted. It took brute force and strong action.

Trotsky, the last of the characters described in the book, became a military leader in the days of the Bolsheviks and the early Soviet Union. Military command was an altogether odd role for a Jew to assume, but he did it very effectively. And, per a leitmotif running throughout the book, his idealism found itself at odds with the idealism (or cynicism, or paranoia perhaps) of his fellow Bolsheviks, and he died in his Mexican exile of an icepick to the brain.

The biographies are well drawn. They do a better job of describing the personal journeys of each person within their Jewish persona, not so good of a job of describing what they accomplished on the world stage. Leon Blum was the leader of France's socialists. We learn about him, but not so much about the political issues that occupied him. The focus is on his Judaism, not his contributions to France. So it must be in dealing with so much material in a single book.

Overall a worthwhile read.


The Jewish Century
The Jewish Century
Price: $19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great tool for helping this Goy frame an organized view of the intellectual currents of his time, June 19, 2016
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In the first of Slezkine's major themes, he says that for almost two centuries each generation of Jews rebelled against their parents. There was the first, about the time of Karl Marx, in which they rebelled against the trappings of religion. They rebelled against the dietary and clothing restrictions. They rebelled against the indoctrination. They became thoroughly European. They embraced the dominant culture – the German romance, Pushkin and Tolstoy, and the other literatures.

The observation was that there was simply more going on than the national cultures. There was more of a cultural inheritance. At that point the Jews had their own language, Yiddish, which had only a relatively poor literature. The great works of Yiddish literature had yet to be conceived. Jews who wanted to write wrote in the host languages.

The host societies were changing. Russia especially, under Tsars Alexander I and II and Nicholas I and II attempted to integrate them into the agricultural community, the schools, the universities and the army. Jews learned national languages in addition to, often in preference to Hebrew, and became better integrated.

After Marx came the generations of socialists, getting involved with host country politics. One constant was a dissatisfaction with things the way they are and the messianic zeal to change the world order. The socialists and anarchists killed a number of people. I note that this happened in not only in Russia, where it was most pronounced, but it also happened in Argentina and the United States, places to which the Jews emigrated.

The next generation in the Soviet Union was dedicated to communism. The Soviets found themselves at the forefront of the Bolsheviks.

And so it goes for the succeeding generations. Marxism morphed into cultural Marxism. The Jews were in the universities. They took control of universities. They took control of the curriculum and forced a progressivism. There was a tension between the Jewish capitalists in the Jewish academicians, although they moved back and forth with some ease, always aware of their identity.

The Jewish identity is another topic Slezkine addresses. From Marx through the Bolsheviks the Jews studiously rejected their ethnicity. They wanted to blend in with the mainstream. They rejected their heritage in toto. However, as it became clear that in the eyes of the world there would never be free of it, they reassumed the Jewish identity, although usually not the religious observances.

One can see the transitions Slezkine describes play out in the short biographies presented in Robert Wistrich's Revolutionary Jews from Marx to Trotsky. All ten personalities were true believers. What they believed changed with the times, tracking Slezkine's history.

One thing that pops out of Slezkine is the truth of Chesterton's maxim that "When a man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything." When Jews stopped believing in God they started believing in (1) the profundity of their host society geniuses, Pushkin, Goethe et al; (2) anarchy; (3) socialism (4) communism, (5) atheism; (6) dogmatic claims with regard to the total equality of all human beings; (7) absolute freedom, per the ACLU; (8) the absolute plasticity of human sexuality. They haven't made up their mind with regard to Islam, whether to love the Islamic immigrants, or fear them for what they do to women and the LGBT community.

The tragedy of putting total faith in ephemeral trends and dogmas is captured by Slezine's account of Tevye lamenting what happened to his daughters. "Whatever [the Zionist] Chava’s grandchildren think of her idealism and sacrifice, they have no trouble understanding her motives. Even the most disenchanted of Israelis would never ask Chava the bitterly uncomprehending questions that haunted Hodl [the Bolshevik] at the end of her life: “Did you really believe that? How could you?”

In the 1960s the revolution turned into the Free Speech Movement and the other radical movements, which were very obvious to us at the time led by Jews. And now in the modern age we have the Jews leading movements such as the transgender movement and before that the gay rights movement. They have also always been active in the American Civil Liberties Union. Once again, the constant is advocacy.

The Jews, simply by virtue of their intelligence, have been the opinion leaders in almost every generation. They set the tone. Specifically, the Jews set the tone of social justice and hence the condemnation of myWASP ancestors which has affected my millennial children. However, one cannot blame the Jews as a group. This is simply an evolutionary phenomenon, one which changed with each new generation. It is certainly that was nothing that was done consciously to benefit the Jews as a people. In fact, it has worked against them. Their assimilation has meant that the Jews do not reproduce themselves. They do not come close to having families at the replacement rate of 2.1 children. Moreover, the families are often are more often only half Jewish. In addition, they do not practice the Jewish traditions. They may somewhat observe the Jewish holidays, although perhaps not. In the final analysis, the Jews are doing no better of a job of reproducing themselves than my own people, the Northern European founding stock of the United States.

One measure of this is the prevalence of Jewish scientists. The Jews were among the leading scientists in every discipline half a century ago. These are people who made amazing breakthroughs. That seems to be less prominent now. There are fewer headline-making scientists of any ethnicity. The smart ones are not breeding.

There are a handful of titans of business among the Jews. This is how it has always been. In thie era there are Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, Andy Grove, Michael Dell, Jaime Dimon, George Soros and Lloyd Blankfein. On the other hand there are also WASP representatives among the business elite: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Stan Druckenmiller, Sam Walton and Elon Musk. So it is about the way it has been for fifty years. At the apex it's about half Jewish in the business world.

I was quite proud of myself when I wrote in my book Edward that we all need to become Jewish. Slezkine says exactly that, more clearly and with much greater detail. He defines two groups, the Apollonians and the Mercurians. The Apollonians are the traditional WASPS, tied to the land, with their stated trued traditions and the tendency of each generation to resemble the previous. The Jews are the Mercurians. They are able to move wherever opportunity is to be found. They do not own land, but they deal in trade. They deal in ideas. They are professionals. This trade-off between the Jews between the Apollonians and Mercurians is a constant theme in his book. He discusses how Jews become Apollonians – as kibbutzniks in Israel – and the opposite. Saying we all must become Mercurians now because the settled, agricultural life style is at an end.

The other metaphor that year he uses continuously throughout The Jewish Century is The Fiddler on the Roof. Actually he references the original works by Sholem Aleichem, stories of Tevye the Dairyman, not the American musical, which he says was quite different. Aleichem was born, and the stories are set in Ukraine about 100 miles down the Dnipro River from where I live, capture the major Jewish movements of the last century. Tevye lives in his village, or shtetl, quite traditional Jewish life, observing all of the religious trued traditions and holidays and dress. His five daughters go different directions. Two drop out of the narrative early: Tsaytl who rejected a wealthy suitor to marry a poor tailor, who died of consumption, and Shprintze was abandoned by her empty-headed groom and drowned herself.

The other three daughters trace the three major paths taken by Jews of the Russian Empire. Hodl followed her revolutionary husband, Perchik to Moscow, through the Bolshevik Revolution and eventually into Siberian exile. Beilke married a crooked war contractor and fled with him to America where they raised a family, and Chava eloped with a non-Jewish autodidact (“a second Gorky”), yet immigrated to Israel as a Zionist. The children abandoned the traditions of their shtetl. Chava, the Zionist, married a goy. Hodl, the revolutionary, traded faith in God for faith in an ideal, a social theory. Beilke's belief was softened by material success.

There has been a long-standing debate among child psychologists and educators about the influences on children as they grow up. What shapes the child's personalities?

It is generally conceded that up to 80% of intelligence and about half of temperament is inherited. However, responsibility for the other half of temperament, or personality, is much discussed. Is it primarily parental influence, or are other factors more important?

Judith Rich Harris (Jewish, an associate of Stephen Pinker) has written two books on the subject, No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality and The Nurture Assumption, which offer a theory of personality. She concludes that personality and attitudes are largely shaped by the peer group with which a child grows up. As evidence, she points to the way children learn the accent with which they speak. Kids use the vocabulary and accent of the other kids with whom they study and play.

Broadening her observations to these generations of Jews, I would observe that each generation has been influenced by its peer more than by the parents. Only in this way could there have been such strong rebellion against the parents, generation after generation.

Slezkine does not go into the historical origins of the Jews. He assumes that these Levantine people, the sojourners with millennia and diaspora, are exactly that. Solzhenitsyn would choose another observation, one which appears to be best partially correct.

Solzhenitsyn claims in Two Hundred Years Together that the Jews were that the Khazar tribe in the Caucasus was converted en masse to Judaism about the eighth century A.D. This would be similar to the mass conversion of Kyivan Rus to Christianity about the same time. The legend of the conversion of Kyivan Rus is that Prince Vladimir, who made the decision, looked at the three religions available to him, Islam, Judaism and Christianity. It is probably an apocryphal story, but it is claimed that he did not want to give up drinking and did not want to give up pork so he chose Christianity. But it is clear that all three were contenders.

That being the case, there is currently some substance to Solzhenitsyn's thesis. However, recent genetic analysis seems to support the idea that the European Jews are a largely inbred population. There has been some discussion, analyzing the mitochondrial DNA on the female line and Y chromosome transmission on the male, that Levantine males long ago paired with indigenous females to establish founding populations of Jews. That certainly would make sense for a nation is for a tribe of traders.

A topic that year Slezkine takes for granted is Jewish intelligence. Here are a couple of notes from other authors.

Intelligence researchers Richard Lynn, Arthur Jensen and almost every other 20th-century psychometrician have determined that Ashkenazi Jews have an average intelligence of about 115. That is one standard deviation greater than the central figure of 100, standardized on European populations. Translating this, it means that the average Jew is smarter than five out of six people in the host culture population. Ignoring Asians and scaling this up into the genius range, statistically one would expect that half of the observed instances of intelligence in the range IQ of 150 to 160 would be among Jews. The statistical formulas are not that highly reliable, but this is consistent with common sense. In looking at the brightest people in industry and academia in the United States, I would conclude that about half of them are Jewish.

In The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution Harpending and Cochran look at the genetic diseases associated with the Jews. Tay-Sachs is the most famous of the sphingolipid diseases, though there are a number of others. What they have in common is that whoever inherits two recessive genes dies or leads a miserable life. However, inheriting one of these recessive genes augments intelligence. Apparently the advantage of increased intelligence more than offsets the downside of having some children die.

The core concept in evolution is perpetuating the genotype. This is an ancient concept, one which Carle Zimmerman describes thoroughly in his 1939 book Family and Civilization

Zimmerman says that there are three types of families. The trustee family, in which members of the current generation think of themselves as no more than the trustees of a genetic inheritance from ages past, which is their responsibility to pass forward. The ancient Hebrews, and Jews up through the 18th century, were archetypical trustee families. Most Muslims remain so today.

The patriarchal family succeeded the trustee family. The structure is male-dominated, and the idea was to create heirs to inherit the land and dominate the territory owned by family, clan, tribe and nation. The patriarchal family was the dominant model in the West until somewhat after the industrial revolution. It fits well with Slezkine's Appollonean style of life.

The third form of family is the atomistic family. Mother and father alone,. The two locate one another and marry without the support of kin on either side. They may be neolocal – moving to a new location. The entire responsibility for the creation and nurturing of the new generation lies with the two parents. Zimmerman noted as far back as 1939 that this did not work. It does not create stable families. It does not reproduce the population. And yet, that is what we see today. These are Slezkine's Mercurians.

The atomistic family is under even more of a threat from the anti-family movements such as gay rights, feminism, transgender rights and so on. A family attempting to raise children is at a disadvantage financially. There is not enough privilege given to raising children to make it worth the effort. Such families are at a disadvantage socially in that heterosexuality and raising a family is seen is only one alternative among many. There is no direction from society for the children themselves to become heterosexual and to marry. The message seems to be one of hedonism and self-fulfillment. It is definitely not one that would advocate any sense of obligation to society.

Today's confrontation of Islam versus the West is precisely a confrontation between family types. Muslims are a classic trustee family society. The the individual does not matter that much, the people are everything. The most radical expression of this concept is suicide bombing. One individual blows himself up for the sake of his genome, carried by millions of brother Muslims. We in the West cannot fathom this logic. Likewise in Islam, the role of women is to bear children. To this end, they are shielded by burqas and chadors and repressive medieval tradition. Homosexuality is a capital crime. While Islam affronts Western values at every turn, the thing that we should find most frightening is that it is effective. It breeds more Muslims, while we in our liberalism are dying out.

That concludes a long review. Slezkine offers a great, sweeping overview of a people and a century. He has chosen some very apt metaphors as organizational tools. A five-star effort.


Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics
Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics

4.0 out of 5 stars Titillating as a roman à clef, rather pedestrian once you know the truth, June 12, 2016
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This is a novel by "anonymous," who has long since been identified as Joe Klein, a Newsweek reporter who covered the Clinton White House. It is about Gov. Clinton's pursuit of the presidency in 1992.

It deals with the whole panoply of now familiar themes: Bill's tendency towards infidelity, Hillary's shrewish nature, financial scandals, the conflicts between Bill and Hillary, and the disconnects that invariably resulted from those conflicts.

I reread it to see if I could pick up any insights for Hillary Clinton's 2016 run for the presidency. Not really. These topics, which were off-limits at the time the book appeared, have been widely discussed. The amazing thing is that even with so much dirt having come out about the Clintons, Hillary still has the chutzpah to run, and the gall to keep denying self-evident truths.

The book will be interesting from a historical point of view. As a work of art, not so much. The choice of an Ivy League, prep school graduate black man as the first-person narrator is interesting. It offers an insight into the state of race relations 25 years ago, which appear if anything to be better than they are today. But it is from the somewhat limited perspective of a newsman/novelist, whose objective was certainly not mere social commentary.


Blood Sport: The Truth Behind the Scandals in the Clinton White House
Blood Sport: The Truth Behind the Scandals in the Clinton White House
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $14.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yep. That's the Clintons all over. Haven't changed these 20 years, June 12, 2016
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Rereading "primary colors" after 20 years'more experience with the Clintons leaves me with a collection of impressions.

First, how cheap these people are. The Whitewater loan the got them in trouble was only somewhere in the five digits. Most of the smarmy financial transactions executed by their friends in the banks, savings and loans, and real estate business were likewise small change. How petty!

Secondly, how readily they lied. Even when the truth would not have been all that terrible, they instinctively chose to lie. There is a quote about New York times reporter Gerth concerning Hillary denying that she had been had outside help making her fantastic, 10,000% return on a commodity investment. "Some weeks later, Gerth asked a White House official involved why he’d been given such a preposterous explanation in the first place. The official paused. “The first instinct from everybody from Arkansas,” he said, “is to lie.”

A third impression is how the Clintons managed to irritate even the New York Times and the Washington Post, to publications that really should have supported them. The times in the post were competing to dig out the Whitewater story. So much for the claim of a "great right-wing conspiracy." And it raises the question of what has happened to the objectivity of these two publications themselves in the intervening 20 years. I do not observe any such a zeal in pursuing Obama's tall tales, or Benghazi.

James Stewart seems to bend over backwards to be fair. He describes the media's reluctance to get involved in Bill Clinton's notorious sex life. Everybody knew about it, but they had also known about FDR's, Kennedy's, and Johnson's infidelities. Stewart discusses how they agonized over the decision of when such activity truly interfered with the president's performance in office. Bill and Hillary bought people's silence through job offers and sweetheart loans from friends, and coerced it via threats. That activity went over the line.

I recommend this book as a primer when reading the spate of books about Hillary Clinton in 2016. It is the same person. The amounts of money involved are vastly larger – in the 90s she could never have dreamed of $225,000 per speech – but the lack of any moral inhibition is totally the same.


Genetics in Minutes
Genetics in Minutes

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A simple survey – adequate for most purposes. Totally politically correct, June 1, 2016
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This is a book of single page chapters. The idea is that if you can't explain it in one page, your reader will give up.

Attempting to summarize complex concepts in a few paragraphs is a very valuable exercise. It requires that the author understand the material quite well himself. It appears that Tom Jackson has a good mastery of the material.

The core concepts in genetics have been explained so often that every school child is somewhat familiar with them. The double helix, cell division, and the inheritance of half the genome from each parent.

These single-page essays do a masterful job of explaining the mechanics. What is the structure of DNA? RNA? How do cells reproduce? What happens when a sperm fertilizes an egg? What are the first stages of development of the embryo? I expect that most readers will have some recollection of their past learning on these subjects. What Jackson does is to pull it together in a brief, cogent description.

Genetic concepts lie at the heart of the theory of evolution. Evolution in turn explains the nature of all of the lifeforms we see around us. How did they grow to be different from one another? How deep are there commonalities? How do species adapt themselves to their environments? Jackson does a good job of explaining all of this.

When it comes to people, Jackson faces a dilemma. Science would lead him in one direction, politics in another. He generally chooses to go with the latter, simply overlooking the fact that evolution, working through the genetic mechanisms that he describes, has made people and populations of people quite different over the course of evolutionary time. This is not a fatal flaw in the book. The interested reader with a desire to know can dig deeper than the single page essays. I would modestly propose perusing my other Amazon reviews as a starting point. In the meantime, Jackson's book is certainly a worthwhile reference for the educated layman.


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