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Beach Road
Beach Road
by James Patterson
Edition: Hardcover
105 used & new from $0.01

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible, December 13, 2006
This review is from: Beach Road (Hardcover)
Pulp fiction is what it is, a fun, cheap escape. It's cotton candy for the soul and something many of us can use every now and then. Patterson and De Jonge use their craft and deliver a cheaply fun read, then ruin it with the ending. Of all the arbitrary plot twists, this one takes the blue ribbon. Patterson and his co-author devote an entire book to developing the protagonist--Tom Dunleavy. We get to know his character and personality. At the end, the authors turn on a dime, take away every single thing they've told us about Dunleavy and expect the reader to be gleeful, or at least sensationally scandalized, with this "brilliant" turn events. Even without the disastrous ending the book was mediocre escapism--with it, it's a slap in the face. You have better things to do with your time.

Ambush Alley: The Most Extraordinary Battle of the Iraq War
Ambush Alley: The Most Extraordinary Battle of the Iraq War
by journalist. Tim Pritchard
Edition: Hardcover
38 used & new from $1.04

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Semper Fi--Thank you to the U.S. Marine Corps. Read this book and meet some of America's finest., August 26, 2006
Wow. I just bought five books on the Iraq War and thought this one would be good, but probably the worst of the five. I haven't finished them all, but this is an amazing book. I've always been in awe of our military men and women. I've read battle accounts of previous wars, but because these people are my peers this hits much closer to home.

As nearly all of the reviewers have said, Pritchard does an amazing job of taking you into battle. Perhaps because he does such a good job, you realize you're just getting a slice of the action. Yet it's a big enough slice to feel like you get a picture of what happened to our marines on that fateful March day--even if nobody will ever know the whole picture as that is lost in the fog of war.

I have a new understanding of simper fidelis. I love how Pritchard points out that these were average young men (in some cases big boys) before the battle. Many were guys with troubled backgrounds. But when the metal started flying and sadly, the blood started flowing, they became men. As another reviewer notes, they're as fine Americans as the best of the Greatest Generation--our World War II fighting men. Their training served them well even when other things didn't--like their communications systems.

Like other reviewers, I too finished the book at about 3:30 AM, unable to put it down.

I hope Pritchard will expand the postscript in the paperback version or some future version of the book. Give even a short summary of the next day for these marines and then the next few weeks. Give a little more detail on what became of some of these men--for example what about the wounded from the Alamo? Write a summary of the wounded and dead in list form. Include who they were, what happened to them and when. It is fine that in the main narrative the casualties are often a blur, just as were the events of the battle, but at the end of the book give us more.

Also, expand the summary--even if by a few pages--of other events in Nasiriyah that occurred in the ten days or so after March 23. In a future postscript I'd also like to see something from the Iraqi's perspective. The sick way the Iraqi fighters were using women and children is clear enough in the book, but let's hear their voice on how it was done. Also, did Nasiriyah become pacified after early April? What kind of insurgent violence came later? These are side notes, but given the blood shed that day, I think they are very important.

With or without those additions, this is a great book that all Americans would benefit from reading.

I salute the marines of March 23, 2003 and thank you Tim Pritchard for your worthy effort in telling their story.

The Whole World Over: A Novel
The Whole World Over: A Novel
by Julia Glass
Edition: Hardcover
295 used & new from $0.01

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This will warm your heart, June 7, 2006
She did it again! Glass weaves a story of life and lives with some of the richest literary characters of our times. For example, Emily (a.k.a. Saga), is a woman with a brain injury that you won't forget. Saga's mission in life after the injury becomes saving abandoned animals.

You'll meet a chef/baker, a therapist, and a governor. You get to know the personal stories of these characters and meet their parents and siblings in seemless flashbacks. The book maintains a continuity with Glass's previous work Three Junes through place and characters.

Julia Glass became one of my favorite writers when I read Three Junes--she has maintained her status with The Whole World Over.

This book will warm your heart.

Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story
Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story
by Kurt Eichenwald
Edition: Hardcover
300 used & new from $0.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eichenwald, A Master of His Craft Reports on Enron, April 17, 2005
In "Conspiracy of Fools" Eichenwald uses narrative--including recreating dialogue, settings, and moods--to bring alive the crimes of the most infamous of our contemporary corporate fraudsters. This book takes on the complicated Enron scandal and makes it not only accessible to the average reader, but compelling.

Be forewarned, once you start, you may not be able to put this book down. The now convicted former CFO of Enron, Andy Fastow serves as the protagonist and villain of Eichenwald's version of the Enron implosion. For those eager to skewer Ken Lay, you may be disappointed. Lay's brand of villainy is here too, it's just more subtle, sophisticated, and perhaps more insidious than the actions of his errant CFO Fastow.

Through painstaking and extensive research Eichenwald crafts a narrative of vignettes that walks the reader through the Enron case one scene at a time. His book was made possible through his hard work as well as that of a small staff of research assistants who helped him wade through the volumes of documentation from the Enron scandal generated by assorted government investigations and litigation.

Fastow is the most rotten element at the core of a company gone bad. The scope of his fraud is breathtaking. Yet his tactics are old-hat in the world of white collar crime: setting up front corporations and partnerships, paying himself "management" and "consultant" fees as if he were an outsider with Enron funds (while he is serving as CFO), etc. Eichenwald makes a strong case that it was primarily plain old fashioned greed that drove Fastow--greed and a twisted sense of what it meant to earn respect in the world. Poor Andy Fastow, he just wanted to be respected.

Eichenwald goes back to the 1980s to point out some questionable activities at Enron, but the bulk of the book occurs from 1997 onward as Enron spins increasingly out of control. They audaciously cooked their books, a talent that the otherwise semi-competent Fastow excelled at.

In addition to the story of Fastow, the complicity of Enron's accountants (at Andersen), their lawyers (internal and external), the senior management (Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling), and Enron's board, only serve to make the story that much more interesting. There is also the supporting cast of underlings who play along, some pocketing millions of illicit (essentially embezzled) money as they do so.

Eichenwald holds back from editorializing. The players are portrayed as complex human beings-even as many are sliding uncontrollably down the slippery slope of ethical lapses. Some of the players are incompetent, and some are out and out criminals. Most, however, come across as people being people, flaws and all.

The question of how we prevent future Enron's is not one Eichenwald addresses here. One thing you will likely take from this book is how the collapse of Enron and Arthur Andersen, more than anything else is a story of the dark side of human nature. Those at the center of the storm are not demonized. In fact a picture is painted where you can imagine what it was like working in that environment, drinking the Enron Kool-aid. This aspect of Eichenwalds work is what makes it so compelling.

Read Eichenwald's book to get a better understanding of the spectacular mistakes and lapses from one of the most infamous company's of our times.

The Time Traveler's Wife
The Time Traveler's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger
Edition: Paperback
2087 used & new from $0.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating, January 7, 2005
At first I was a little jarred as the plot jumped from one time to another. I quickly adjusted, however, and loved this creative and captivating book.

Ms. Niffeneger captures the true essence of the timelessness of love in this novel. This may sound cheesy, but give it a chance, you'll be glad you did.

The Secret History
The Secret History
by Donna Tartt
Edition: Hardcover
135 used & new from $0.12

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, January 7, 2005
This review is from: The Secret History (Hardcover)
Tartt's characters are vivid, memorable, and inviting--even if they are not all likeable. The book begins with the description of a murder and unfolds with the backstory as well as the aftermath. Even though the murder is central to the plot what stood out was the richness of the characters and the compelling world the author creates. This is great read! Strongly recommended. An impressive first novel by Ms. Tartt.

My Life
My Life
by Bill Clinton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $26.29
1290 used & new from $0.01

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bill's turn to speak, August 23, 2004
This review is from: My Life (Hardcover)
Born to a middle class family in Arkansas, William Jefferson Clinton is a true force of nature. In "My Life" Clinton delivers a great story, even if it is not a great book. Because it gives Bill Clinton a chance to get out his perspective, this book is an important part of the record of the last dozen years.

The purpose of a memoir is to give a person, famous or not, the chance to give their account of their life--or the parts they choose to share with the reader. After eight-plus years of being defined by his opponents, friends, and generally being behind the media filter most of the time, Clinton deserves to be heard and his voice comes through loud and clear. After all he went through from his political opponents he is surprisingly gracious to them.

Clinton, like other presidents since Watergate, felt he suffered from the media's focus on juicy stories, dirt, and scandals, and that they failed to inform us of much of what was being accomplished by his administration. Unlike his predecessors, Clinton had to deal with even more news outlets through cable television and the Internet, as well as a rise in popularity of talk radio.

He provides a chronological dumping of the most important events of his very full life from his birth in 1946 through the end of his presidency. The breathless narrative (where does one man get so much energy?) is not lacking in gems. On the other hand, it drags at times as he tries to cram in as many events, accomplishments, failures, and names of people as possible.

If nothing else, this is one very bright man. One of the more interesting aspects of Clinton that shines through is his shrewd grasp of electoral politics. He also takes every opportunity he can to inform the reader of his extensive anti-terrorist initiatives. That was one part of the book that seemed especially revisionist. You can almost here him in his good-old-boy voice, claiming with regard to 9/11 "it's not my fault." Perhaps, but that is another discussion. In "My Life" Clinton does his best to provide the groundwork for his own defense.

With hundreds of others defining him in books and commentary, it is interesting and refreshing to hear his perspective.

Sun Mountain: A Comstock Memoir
Sun Mountain: A Comstock Memoir
by Richard S. Wheeler
Edition: Hardcover
31 used & new from $0.49

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wheeler Hits the Motherlode in Virginia City, May 29, 2002
I discovered Richard Wheeler a month ago. What a great discovery! He's an intelligent novelist who develops rich characters and weaves his narrative into the history of the old west. He educates and entertains.
Sun Mountain is an excellent read and strongly recommended. Learn about Virginia City, Nevada during its heyday. And what a heyday it had! Its roots are solidly in the pre-railroad days when everything had to be hauled hundreds and hundreds of arduous miles over the Sierras from California during the early days of that state. Then came the railroads and transformed Virginia City, as they transformed every town they touched. Wheeler instructs the reader on the Comstock Lode and the technological innovations developed there that changed mining around the world. He deftly covers the full gamut of human nature and existence in such a place at such a time.
If you have yet to read a Richard Wheeler novel, Sun Mountain is an excellent place to start.

Ace the IT Resume!
Ace the IT Resume!
by Paula Moreira
Edition: Paperback
52 used & new from $0.01

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straight from the Experts, March 6, 2002
This review is from: Ace the IT Resume! (Paperback)
With years of experience in the IT industry, Paula Moreira knows her stuff. This book is essential for anyone trying to find a job in todays competitive market.

Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States
Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States
by Bill Bryson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.37
194 used & new from $0.01

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bryson Breaths New life and Wit into American History, March 21, 2001
This book is a wonderful and very witty look at the English language and how it has evolved in America. Did you ever have an English teacher that lectured you about the use (or more likely misuse) of a certain word? Forget all of that! (Or at least loosen up about it!) This book is a testament to the fact that language is alive and a reflection of the culture that uses it.
Bryson walks you through American history as he presents story after story usually leaving you laughing and often simply just amazing you with how some word came into common usage. As he tells his story of the English language in America, you will probably learn more about American history than you ever knew before--and all of it is very entertaining.
Don't miss the amazing story of Squanto, the Indian who helped the Pilgrims survive at Plymouth, Massachusetts. There is more to Squanto's story than you think and it is just one of hundreds of gems that Bryson has uncovered.
This is a fast reading, educational, and very fun book.

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