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Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
by Christopher McDougall
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.79
339 used & new from $0.03

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Designed to Run, August 9, 2009
I just finished Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen on my recent West Coast road trip. I listened to the audio download version and stayed riveted to the story whenever I could get a spare moment with my iPod. The author Christopher McDougall begins with the question most runners ask themselves at some point. If running is so good for me why does something always hurt? Not just muscle stiffness from tough work outs, but genuine overuse injuries from the low back down to the heels. While exploration of associations between over-engineered running shoes and the explosion of running injuries the past 4 decades was provocative, McDougall primarily derives the answer to his question from his interactions with the Tarahumara Indians and a group of oddball American ultra-marathoners.

The Tarahumara are a mysterious people from the rugged and largely inaccessible Copper Canyons of Mexico whose ancient culture revolves around a love of running, and not just foot races through the village, but extraordinary runs of unfathomable distances for young and old alike. Yet, as intriguing as the Tarahmara and the eccentric American ultra-runners (shoed and barefoot) were in this book the sections I enjoyed most involved the discussions of evidence accumulated by a small group of scientists indicating that humans were designed to run long distances. This unique ability within the animal kingdom may explain how our species survived and thrived before developing tools despite being slow and relatively underdeveloped in terms of musculature. This has been, and may still be, the minority opinion when it comes to the origins of human locomotion, with walking being the favored explanation for our upright posture. Nevertheless, the evidence for long distance running as the means by which humans out competed their pre-historical counterparts is persuasive and is based on evidence obtained from multiple fields including comparative anatomy, paleontology, anthropology, biomechanics and exercise physiology.

Considering that many people have not run for years or even decades is it any wonder why humans are now wracked with a variety of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart failure and depression? We have increasingly separated ourselves from our genetic blueprint. We were designed to run.

The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression
The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression
by Amity Shlaes
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.59
448 used & new from $0.01

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's like déjà vu all over again, February 13, 2009
The United States of the early 1930s is eerily similar to the one we have been following in early 2009. A charismatic Democratic President using a severe economic down-turn to justify massive government spending and wealth distributive policies, all the while vilifying achievers and wealth creators, and stifling any hope for prosperity.

Amity Schales pens a fascinating view of the people most responsible for turning a depression into the Great Depression. Yet, those who are looking for a frontal assault on FDR and the New Deal might be disappointed since the author is remarkably even handed in presenting the "progressive" point of view and rationale. Nevertheless, the historical evidence is damning. The New Dealers may have been successful in creating new dependency groups and future Democratic voting blocks, but they did very little to nothing to help the economy. Indeed, during their tenure Americans began viewing the ongoing economic disaster as a regular part of life. The adventurous, risk taking spirit that made America great laid dormant for over a decade until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

The biggest problem I had with the book, besides the sickening feeling I experienced juxtaposing history with present day events, was that the author mistakenly identified the famed four-horsemen of Notre Dame Football lore as defensive stars.

Extreme Measures: A Thriller (Mitch Rapp Novels)
Extreme Measures: A Thriller (Mitch Rapp Novels)
by Vince Flynn
Edition: Hardcover
455 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When Terrorists Won't Play Nice, December 7, 2008
Extreme Measures has more than one timely lesson, but the writing is not Flynn's best. The plot revolves around the question of the right thing to do when you have persuasive intel of an imminent and devastating attack upon innocent Americans. Moreover, the CIA has two pieces of Islamic terrorist debris that need to be forcibly persuaded to reveal the details as the clock is ticking. One only hopes that there are a few Mitch Rapps out their taking it to the real life "requisitions" the way our fictional hero does. I suspect there are, and that the reason we have not been hit since 9/11 is that the Bush administration has given these patriots some latitude to extract the information needed to protect Americans. A side story regarding Mike Nash's teenage son defending the honor of his sister and mother also drives home the point that we could use a little bit more testosterone wrapped up in common decency in our young men. Unfortunately, Flynn resorts to a constant barrage of unnecessary profanity and vulgarity throughout. Making it worse is that it is the same 3 or 4 words over and over again. Nevertheless, the underlying message is exceedingly important. We can only hope that President-Elect Obama will abandon his absurd positions on dealing with terrorists and terrorist states when he gets hit with the realities of the world as it is, not how liberals would like it to be.

The Lion's Pride: Theodore Roosevelt and His Family in Peace and War (Oxford University Press Paperback)
The Lion's Pride: Theodore Roosevelt and His Family in Peace and War (Oxford University Press Paperback)
by Edward Renehan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $40.45
77 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Truly Unique and Fascinating American Family, January 28, 2007
Completely understanding TR is impossible without considering his children, or his own childhood for that matter. These are the foci of the "The Lion's Pride: Theodore Roosevelt and His Family in Peace and War." TR was deeply influenced by his father, a wealthy and generous, many would claim great man whose most glaring defect and regret was what amounted to a buy out of his Civil War service obligation. TR called him the "greatest man I ever knew." Yet, in many respects TR spent the rest of his life attempting to overcome and reverse this blemish upon the family record through extraordinary patriotism and service. Leading at the apex of conflict and danger was the duty of a great and privileged family. This credo was embraced wholeheartedly by his children, which makes for fascinating reading. While some would argue this compulsion became excessive and detrimental, the Roosevelt's had no regrets and curiously embraced their family tragedies in the midst of great pain. This phenomenon is particularly evident in the death of the youngest, Quintin while flying patrol over German lines in WWI. On the other hand, if you are looking for an in depth look at any one or more of the children this book will not suffice. Indeed, the early chapters focus on TR's life leading up to WWI, while the latter chapters are largely dedicated to his offspring's activities in young adulthood, particularly those related to the Great War. There is little regarding TR's close and often tender relationship with his children during their childhood in the White House or at Sagamore Hill. As a result, while I greatly enjoyed this book, I was hoping for more breadth and insight into the children's upbringing and their lives after TR's death.

Loyola Kids Book of  Saints
Loyola Kids Book of Saints
by Amy Welborn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.10
79 used & new from $1.17

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for Bedtime, January 9, 2007
Amy Welborn has produced an excellent book that brings the lives of the Saints to children at a level they can enjoy and understand. I read a variety of stories and literature to my two sons' before they fall asleep each night. However, we often decide to read a couple stories from the Loyola Kids Book of the Saints. They are just the right length for our nightly ritual. Each story begins with a short moral dilemma or question that children can get their heads around. Then the story of a particular Saint is used to help them work through the question. The stories are always interesting, sometimes heroic, often are poignant. We especially enjoyed the stories about St. Nicholas and St. Wenceslaus this past Christmas season.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 7, 2013 3:52 PM PDT

Wins, Losses, and Lessons: An Autobiography
Wins, Losses, and Lessons: An Autobiography
by Lou Holtz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.18
211 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars To be successful and significant, December 9, 2006
"Wins, Losses, and Lessons" is a wonderful autobiography by one of college football's greatest coaches, mentors and ambassadors. My first memory of Coach Holtz was in the 1978 Orange Bowl during his tenure at Arkansas. Shortly before facing heavily favored Oklahoma who was ranked #2 in the country he was compelled to suspend three of his star players for a serious infraction. Despite the loss of talent and the distraction leading up to the game Arkansas blew out the Sooners 31-6. At that point he gained my immediate admiration which continued to grow as I watched him through his career at Notre Dame and South Carolina. However, it is clear that wins and losses were only part of the equation for him. The theme of his book is summed up by a statement he makes in the introduction, "Coaching gives one a chance to be successful as well as significant. The difference between those two is that when you die, your success comes to an end. When you are significant, you continue to help others be successful long after you are gone." This is a fine credo for all people in positions of authority and influence not just coaches.

Coach Holtz had a difficult road through childhood, college, and early in his career. He was not the most gifted student or athlete. He had a speech impediment and was consistently short on finances. Yet, he is one of those fortunate individuals who followed the vocation for which he was created. His achievements stemmed not only from his determination to be a successful coach, but from a faith in God's plan for his life that allowed him to rebound from what appeared to be setbacks. He also had the support of many people along the way, especially his wife Beth who provided a steadying influence on his often frantic schedule. He also was close to several other giants in the coaching profession including Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler and Bobby Bowden from which several humorous anecdotes arise. Further, the pages are sprinkled with Holtz's trademark self-depreciating humor which further adds to the enjoyment of reading this book even if you are not a college football fan.

Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
by Ron Chernow
Edition: Hardcover
368 used & new from $0.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Washington's indispensable man, October 14, 2006
This review is from: Alexander Hamilton (Hardcover)
I have enjoyed reading many outstanding biographies, but none have surpassed Chernow's "Alexander Hamilton". This "tour de force" is an enthralling read not only because of its fascinating subject in Hamilton and his inseparable relationship to the founding of our nation, but because it is a meticulously researched and wonderfully told story of perseverance, achievement, and irony. Of illegitimate birth, surviving a wretched youth in the West Indies during the 18th century, Hamilton escaped to New York through the generosity of early employers and a cousin to study at King's College. His superior intellect, obsession to distance himself from his past, and his energy and passion to distinguish himself honorably in his adopted land placed him at the right hand of General and then President Washington during the American Revolution, the founding of the Constitution, and the formation of a fragile new government. Yet he was labeled an elitist, aristocrat and a monarchist by his enemies with bewildering regularity and effect. He was a loving and tender husband and father, yet stumbled into at least one adulterous relationship that greatly crippled his political career. Although he never traveled to Europe he possessed a truer sense of European events and their implications, particularly the French Revolution, than did his more traveled and worldly contemporaries. He was long embroiled in partisan political battles with his antagonists from the Southern States, yet he was the Union's foremost defender when the prospect of Northern succession arose. He came to abhor the practice of dueling, yet he and his oldest son were both victims of its pervasive practice within a three year period. Finally, Eliza Hamilton, despite endless persecution regarding her husband's infidelity and other failings (either real or trumped up) from his political rivals and their vicious press allies remained resolutely and adoringly at his side. She tirelessly devoted 50 years of widowhood to preserving and promoting her husband's indispensable contributions to the formation of a great nation. It is largely due to her efforts that the slanderous and revisionist accounts of Hamilton's life by his contemporary rivals including Jefferson and Adams who greatly outlived him were effectivly challenged. Chernow has also made a significant contribution with this biography in preserving the memory and monumental accomplishments of this often neglected founding father.

The Ezekiel Option (Political Thrillers Option #3)
The Ezekiel Option (Political Thrillers Option #3)
by Joel C. Rosenberg
Edition: Hardcover
154 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ancient scripture and tomorrow's headlines?, May 5, 2006
Rosenberg gives us another gripping drama that anticipates tomorrow's headlines while exploring ancient scripture. Iraq is moving toward stability, Al Quaida has been destroyed, and Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Then a coup in Russia sets the stage for the greatest crisis the world has ever known. Israel's ancient and new enemies are aligned and moving against her and America is paralyzed by politics and secular arrogance. All the while individual believers are forced to make up their minds, will they get on board with God's plan or not? Although apparently a straight forward proposition it will not be easy, forcing even committed Christians out of their comfort zones. Making a decision for Christ is more than responding to an alter call or religious tract, it may require sacrificing oneself to save oneself. While the story flows very well in most places and seeing Old Testament prophecy unveiled is fascinating, even riveting, other sections get "preachy" and bogged down with "Christian-speak". Yet, it is refreshing to read a story in which the author does not feel compelled to divert the story with vulgarity and unnecessary sexual encounters, and the reader is able to admire the heroes (Jon Bennett, Eliezer Mordechai) and heroine (Erin McCoy). Overall this story works much better than other corny biblical prophecy / apocalyptic fiction.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 16, 2007 1:46 PM PST

The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons From Falling Behind in School and Life
The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons From Falling Behind in School and Life
by Michael Gurian
Edition: Hardcover
186 used & new from $0.01

18 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful, but falls short, March 17, 2006
"The Minds of Boys" describes the relatively recent but staggering difficulties boys have experienced in our society. In the past few decades educational and societal trends have undoubtedly handicapped boys from reaching their full potentials. Because boys tend to require more physical activity and outlets for aggression, and have more difficulty with attention deficits than girls, they do not adapt well to sedentary and passive learning environments. The authors do an admirable job of describing the differences in the way boys learn and thrive. Further, they give solid advice on creating boy-friendly learning environments and parent/mentor strategies including the use of music, outdoor activities, "brain breaks", and single-sex classrooms. However, the authors side-step the root causes of our current sorry state including the incessant drive of radical feminists, educational elitists, and the shameful entertainment industry to emasculate the classroom, workplace, military and church. Further, while this book rightly recognizes that all boys exhibit different degrees of aggression, physical prowess and sensitivity, it falls down on advice for parents of sons with confused sexual identities. For a more comprehensive discussion and advice on raising boys, I recommend "Bringing Up Boys" by James Dobson.

by David G. McCullough
Edition: Audio CD
Price: $34.63
79 used & new from $3.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping but truncated re-telling of our great beginnings, March 17, 2006
This review is from: 1776 (Audio CD)
I listened to the unabridged CD edition of this book which was excellent. In fact, McCullough's captivating narration was difficult to interrupt and, despite the title, ended too soon (January, 1777). The trials, hardships and misery that the American patriots endured is difficult to fathom, but is vividly described. Surely, without the persistence, determination and character of General Washington the United States of America would have taken a greatly different course. God's hand or what Washington called "Providence" is also evident in the improbable turn of events at Trenton and Princeton. The British and loyalist points of view are also revealed which allows the reader to ponder how one might have responded and sided if present during these pivotal times. Faithful, respectful and entertaining works of history such as these should be reading staples for all Americans, especially high school and college students who are often deprived of their great heritage in favor of politically correct harangues.

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