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R. L. Hogan RSS Feed (Hickory Flat, GA)

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America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy
America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy
by Francis Fukuyama
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.92
63 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading, September 2, 2007
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The past success of Francis Fukuyama has created high expectations for each new book and he does not disappoint us with America at the Crossroads. The book is an excellent primer for understanding the state of the foreign policy of the United States. The scope of this work is more narrow and focused than his classic The End of History and the Last Man, which is arguably one of the greatest non-fiction books of the twentieth century.

This new work is focused on American foreign policy after September 11th. The contentious and confusing topic is expertly analyzed and explained by Fukuyama in a manner that is understandable to the layperson, yet thorough and complex. It is a thought-provoking analysis that is unusually non-partisan. Extremists from both the left and right political circles will not find countenance in this book. Professor Fukuyama is astutely fair in his criticism of the Bush Administration and, yet, carefully realistic on what the U.S. options are in fighting Islamic terrorism.

This book is highly recommended to anyone who wants to broaden their understanding of the foreign policy matters. It should be required reading by all presidential candidates and the media who cover those candidates. It is a rarity to find this combination of complexity, evenhandedness, and readability in one book.

Modern Times
Modern Times
Price: $8.54
252 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Retro-Modern, March 29, 2007
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This review is from: Modern Times (Audio CD)
Transport yourself into Bob's bizarro-world and you will find that Modern Times means nothing is modern and everything is retro. In this new disc, Bob has morphed into a cowboy-western band leader who is intent on crossing many music genres and paying homage to many other artist styles. It works beyond expectation. This album is poetry in motion. It is unusually subtle and subdued for such a powerful piece of art. It is quite simply Bob's best album in thirty years.

Modern Times features ten long tracks and covers a lot of ground. It begins with what is destined to be the most popular song on the album, Thunder on the Mountain, which is a classic Bob Dylan tune that includes interludes of guitar riffs paying tribute to Chuck Berry and all the great guitarists of the Fifties. The disc also includes two good tunes, Spirit on the Water and Nettie Moore, with vocal sounds remarkably similar to Leon Redbone. In the latter song, Bob even admits to being in a "cowboy band." The ultimate cowboy-country tribute goes down in the song When The Deal Goes Down which I like to call "the best song Willie Nelson never wrote."

The musicians used on this new album do an incredible job mixing and matching with Bob. He has praised them in an interview as his best band ever. Although we have come to expect faint praise in media interviews, we never expect that from Bob and he has evidence on this disc to support his assertion. All my bias toward The Band aside, this new band does a better job of synchronizing with Bob for his purposes. The result is marvelous. Check out the very subtle riffs on Someday Baby and you will hear a great band playing as if Bob had asked them to play the "Allman Brothers-on-Valium."

Two other classics grace this disc. One is Workingman's Blues #2. This pays homage to Merle Haggard and is one of the most beautiful songs ever written by Bob. The other is Ain't Talkin' where Bob pays homage to himself by crafting another subtle classic tune. This great song caps off the disc and leaves us all wondering how it is possible for this man to write and perform great songs for thirty-five years. The very good most recent albums of Time Out of Mind and Love and Theft were not aberrations, merely preludes to this incredible Modern Times.

Live at Massey Hall (CD/DVD)
Live at Massey Hall (CD/DVD)
Offered by megahitrecords
Price: $13.40
94 used & new from $2.62

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Installment, March 29, 2007
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This is the second release of the Neil Young Archive - Performance Series, but it is titled as "#3", apparently based on the eventual chronology of the entire series. This series is being released one performance at a time. This new disc is based on solo acoustic shows at Massey Hall in Toronto in January 1971.

The Massey Hall performance is the perfect counterweight to first Performance release last year of Live at the Fillmore East (from 1970). These two concerts were only ten months apart, but they represent the hard and soft extremes of Neil Young. They were both performed in the midst of an incredible 24-month period that resulted in the release of five popular albums, with three different groups, plus a hit single that became the anti-war anthem of an entire generation. As pleasantly surprised as I was at the first release, this second release is even more amazing.

Live at Massey Hall represents the pinnacle of the confessional singer-songwriter era. I must admit that I have always personally preferred the Crazy Horse-style improvisational screaming-guitar cowboy rock & roll side of Neil. As such, the thought of another solo acoustic performance did not exactly create excitement. I was very wrong. This 17 song set of material is simply mesmerizing.

Only seven of the seventeen songs had yet become familiar to the audience at Massey Hall in January 1971. Even the songs that we now have heard performed in numerous different settings appear fresh in this context. The more casual fans will be pleased with these selections and the serious fans have other reasons to absorb this special concert.

First, the acoustics in the hall and the quality of the recording are astounding. It literally sounds as if you are sitting next to Neil during the concert. Secondly, there are unfamiliar gems, such as Bag Fog of Loneliness, a song that should have been released on one of the albums of the early 70's, but never made it. Thirdly, listening to parts of this concert makes you feel as if you are in the middle of his songwriting process, not only because of his "introductions/explanations", but mostly because of two famous songs that are combined together with lyrics unfamiliar to us. Finally and most importantly - despite Neil's prolific expertise at numerous instruments - even a diehard fan will be surprised at the one instrument that stands above all others on this disc.

Neil Young has been a successful artist, despite his frequent attempts to reject success. Nevertheless his casual critics usually object to the sound of his unique voice. Even many hardcore fans often prefer his songwriting or his guitar work and tend to minimize the vocal aspects of his music. Surprisingly, this Live at Massey Hall is quite simply a vocal masterpiece. Neil uses his voice in this concert as if it were a Stradivarius violin. I had always assumed that the unusually great vocal sound on the After the Gold Rush album was merely the result of the use of multi-tracking and expert sound engineers. However, this concert proves the sound was real and that, perhaps, the multi-tracking and engineering might have actually hurt the quality of Gold Rush rather than helped it. Live at Massey Hall displays a strong, gifted, and limber voice that is remarkable

The songs on this disc run all the way from the Buffalo Springfield days to having never been released. There are two songs from Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, two songs from After the Gold Rush, five songs from Harvest, two songs from Time Fades Away, and even one from On the Beach. There is something here for everyone.

The most attention will go to his combination of A Man Needs a Maid/Heart of Gold with altered lyrics. This is a fascinating experience and probably worth the price of the disc all by itself. The classic electric songs, Cowgirl in the Sand, Down by the River, and Ohio, are presented here in wonderfully scaled back acoustic versions. The oft forgotten See the Sky About To Rain is also special. Journey Through the Past and Helpless are crowd pleasers for the Canadian audience at the hall and to the listener today. It is not necessary to discuss each and every song because all seventeen songs are noteworthy.

As noted, the vocal instrument is highlighted here more than any other, although his guitar and piano work are both prominent. Neil is undoubtedly a great performer. He has dazzled audiences for decades with his freak-like ability to play multiple instruments simultaneously. Yet, despite his peak performance in this concert, nothing stands out as much as his songwriting. There have always been great performers in Rock & Roll - the likes of Elvis Presley come to mind - but the ranks of great songwriters is considerably thinner. Neil Young deserves to be ranked alongside Lennon/McCartney, Bob Dylan, and the other classic songwriters of all time. This disc helps even the most familiar fan appreciate Neil's ability to prolifically write notes and lyrics together in a special way.

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