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Jon Hunt "musician, teacher" RSS Feed (Old Greenwich, Ct. USA)
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Primary
Primary
DVD ~ Robert Drew
13 used & new from $19.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Great historical documentary, November 20, 2013
This review is from: Primary (DVD)
When the 1960 primaries come under discussion, most refer to the stunning upset by John F. Kennedy over Hubert Humphrey in the West Virginia primary that year. But an earlier one in Wisconsin, covered here by the adroit hand of Robert Drew, was the first real chink in the Humphrey armor. This short film is wonderful as it captures the candidates in "down" moments as well as in formal speeches. The reactions of people on the street are terrific, as well. And men wearing hats! There is a funny moment when Bobby Kennedy is introduced at a rally as John Kennedy's son! RFK gets to the microphone and apologies that his mother couldn't be there and then goes on with a litany of Kennedy siblings.

Peppered through the documentary are JFK supporters singing a campaign version of the Frank Sinatra song, "High Hopes", which had been released the year before. The film ends with a soloist singing a song about Humphrey as he moves on from his Wisconsin loss. "Primary" is a true gem,.


Double Down: Game Change 2012
Double Down: Game Change 2012
by John Heilemann
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.01
299 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and juicy!, November 20, 2013
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While the 2012 presidential election may not have had the big drama that the 2008 election had, there was certainly a lot going on behind the scenes. "Double Down", the new book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, explores these matters with aplomb. While both political sides are reported on, this is more of a book about the Republican candidates and the weak field that they were. But to dig even deeper, this is a story about Mitt Romney. His gaffes were many and his convictions seemed few. Even worse, his inability to sell himself to the American public reinforced that vision of him as a flip-flopper without much of a central core.

The juicy part of "Double Down" is revealed in what candidates thought of each other. I thought Mormons were supposed to be a pretty reasonable lot, but the animosity between Romney and Jon Huntsman was palpable. The oddball qualities of Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry are all on display here but the real "winner" is Chris Christie. The authors relate that although the New Jersey governor grew out he didn't seem much to grow up.

I would advise any reader to have a dictionary at hand. "Ouroborosian"? Now there's one to examine. And why say "throw a spanner" when "monkey wrench" would have more easily satisfied? Those aside, "Double Down" is a fascinating book and I highly recommend it.


Humans of New York
Humans of New York
by Brandon Stanton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.93
188 used & new from $8.21

5.0 out of 5 stars The Beauty of Humanity, November 10, 2013
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This review is from: Humans of New York (Hardcover)
Brandon Stanton's new book, "Humans of New York", gives the reader not only pages of eye candy but wonderful insights and humorous comments as well. This is not a mere picture book to be thumbed through but one to settle in with on a Sunday afternoon and to study these photos as one goes along.

Some photos command your attention. There's one of a young boy sitting on the pavement with a basketball held securely in his lap. The author's caption reads," in some neighborhoods, faces mature faster than bodies". Wow! And a photo of two men embracing with the Statue of Liberty in the distance at dusk is truly wonderful. Then there's "Banana George"!!

Brandon Stanton has given us the gift of variety and color, depth and insight. I highly recommend "Humans of New York".


Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City
Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City
by Russell Shorto
Edition: Hardcover
63 used & new from $4.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Liberal in many senses, November 8, 2013
Amsterdam is a city which poses questions to those who visit it and those who read about it. How did this city get to "be like this"? Russell Shorto, the author of a new book about Amsterdam, delves into the city's history and gives a thumbs-up account of the makings of the place. It's well worth the read.

As the author tells us, the beginnings of Amsterdam go back many centuries but its "modern" roots really began with the first of a succession of Willems of Orange. Much of the early history of Amsterdam centered around religion with Calvinists and Catholics squaring off against each other. "Amsterdam", the book, really centers around strong personalities as it continues with characters like Cornelis de Houtman and his voyage to east Asia, opening up the spice trade, along with the stories of the artist Rembrandt, the philosopher Spinoza and the intellectual Johan deWitt....all crucial to the identity of the growing city. But on another level this is also about the liberal culture of Amsterdam. That liberalness is for the promotion of the individual as well as the care of the society...a good deal of it due to the collective nature of a place trying to hold water at bay.

The Dutch history is one of fewer lords than other European nations...a kind of bottom-up approach to life. It's own life, often colored with the arrival of immigrants, gives us a picture of Amsterdam weaved together in a fashion we don't see anywhere else. Yes, there are wars and killings and desolation along the way and even after the collpase of the Dutch "empire" in the late seventeenth century, Amsterdam seems always to re-invent itself with that historical liberal flavor.

No description of Amsterdam would be complete without the German occupation during the Second World War....the misery of Anne Frank's family is of course, well-known. But the author begins and ends the book with interviews of Frieda Menco, an Auschwitz survivor and to this day, an Amsterdam resident. Her recollections of those years are powerful.

I particularly enjoyed the end of the book when the author compares the reactions of Americans and the Dutch to the story of Hans Brinker, the boy who stuck his finger in the dike to save the city. Americans think he is a hero. The Dutch don't see it that way at all. To them, dike building and repair are communal enterprises...all in keeping wth that liberal tradition. Russell Shorto has written a very good book about his adopted city and I highly recommend "Amsterdam" to other readers.


The Convertible Life
The Convertible Life
by Sean Hanley
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.99
24 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of twins, twin towers and twinks, October 29, 2013
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This review is from: The Convertible Life (Paperback)
A debut novel is perhaps one of the riskiest ventures in the arts...like a stand-up comic's material on his first attempt to make people laugh. Will anyone like it? Fortunately for Sean Meyrick Hanley, the applause should continue for a very long time.

There are many things to like about "The Convertible Life" and if the plot is as convoluted as any episode of "As the World Turns", all the better. It's a page turner. Set in and around 9/11, the newly minted twenty-one year old Thom Thompson III has just begun to gain notoriety as a Hollywood actor and his meth-infused soul fights and bitches with just about everybody. But then a call from his "father" shakes him awake and he decides to investigate his confused past.

The first pages of "The Convertible Life" sort of rotate in place...Thom's unhappines is palpable and he seems locked in a career that isn't exactly taking off to any degree. Yet when he decides to return to New England and find out once and for all about his dysfunctional family, the book really begins to soar. It occurred to me in writing this review that the direction of "The Convertible Life" looks much like the symbol of the "Y" chromosome....a circle with an arrow pointing northeast. What an appropriate symbol it is!

I've never met the author but we both had the distinction of growing up in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, a village of about 6,000 people attached to the larger town of Greenwich. Much of the book takes place in Old Greenwich and the sites mentioned really exist. As Thom begins to unravel his family secrets, "The Convertible Life" takes on more twists and turns and ups and downs than the section of Tomac Avenue on which he was raised.

Mr. Hanley's narrative style is wonderful. Along the way he shows his terrific sense of humor by adding occasional footnotes to enlighten (especially younger) readers. Now that I am more than a certain age, I'm glad to be reminded of what the sitcom "Bewitched" was all about...thank you Sean!!

There is great depth to this novel which serves as a cushion to the accompanying humor. The reader is treated to a story that gets better as it gets more uncomfortable for Thom. And yes, try to read it in one sitting. The suspense to the very end demands one's concentration.

I commend Sean Meyrick Hanley for his first (novel?!) novel. I highly recommend it to other readers and I have no doubt we'll be hearing more from this gifted writer in the future.


Johnny Carson
Johnny Carson
by Henry Bushkin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.74
279 used & new from $0.01

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Two Faces of Carson, October 26, 2013
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This review is from: Johnny Carson (Hardcover)
Henry "Bombastic" Bushkin, Johnny Carson's longtime lawyer and confidant, has written a new book in which he reflects on his nearly twenty year association with the late night comedian. This could have been a kiss-and-tell book but Bushkin is careful to draw boundaries, and in doing so, turns in an informative remembrance.

In essence, the author sheds light not so much on Carson's erratic and often cruel behavior...most of us know the talk show host could be a prick...but he lets us in on some of the more sordid details of Carson's life...especially his marriages. His third wife, Joanna, is the most interesting of the lot of four...let's say she bruised Carson the most and came away with the most.

Bushkin walks a fine line in his narrative and succeeds. His balancing act is believable and in the end credible. "Johnny Carson" is well worth the read and I recommend it.


The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance
The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance
by David J. Epstein
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.96
80 used & new from $7.25

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive but technical, October 19, 2013
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I had a hard time getting to the end of "The Sports Gene". Author David Epstein presents some good evidence as to why certain people excel in sports and some do not. He gets into height, weight, gender, ethnicity and much more. There are many studies on which Epstein focuses and while they are important to his book, I didn't find them to be particularly enjoyable to slog through. "The Sports Gene", like the body of his work, is probably for some readers and not for others.


Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune
Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune
by Bill Dedman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.61
187 used & new from $1.43

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One hundred years of intrigue, October 16, 2013
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Every once in a while we read of a very wealthy man or woman who has lived a long life and has a story to tell. Mrs. Astor is a recent example but she doesn't hold a candle to Huguette Clark. "Empty Mansions", the story of this semi-reclusive heiress, is one that gets more fascinating as it goes on.

Born in 1906 to W.A. Clark, the copper mining baron and one of the richest men in the world, Huguette lived the secluded and exclusive life one can imagine for a girl in her position. The family had the largest mansion in Manhattan but after her father died and she moved in with her mother, things began to change. They already owned a mansion in Santa Barbara called "Bellosguardo", but then Huguette bought a house in New Canaan, Ct....one in which she never lived.

Much of the book centers around Huguette's vast doll collection and her immense generosity to the small circle around her but it takes on an added twist when she moves into a New York hospital room in 1991. Her nurse, Hadassah, became her companion as well, and the money Huguette gave her over the next few years is astounding.

The last part of the book is the best. It involves her estate, which, after the publication of this book, has now been settled. "Empty Mansions" is a fascinating look at one family's wealth over a period of more than one hundred years. The fact that some of the intrigue continues makes it even more palatable. This is a very well-written and well-told story and I highly recommend it.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 14, 2014 9:56 AM PDT


Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941
Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941
by Lynne Olson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.69
145 used & new from $0.48

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly written, October 2, 2013
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The years 1939-41 in the United States were filled with tension about whether or not we would eventually become embroiled in "Europe's war." Lynne Olson has captured that time spectacularly well in her new book, "Those Angry Days". The two main antagonists, Charles Lindbergh and Franklin Roosevelt, are pitted together in brilliant style...the staid, often cruel Lindbergh and the formidable but often indecisive president of the United States. Inbetween these two rests Lindbergh's wife Anne, who sympathizes with her husband but doesn't always agree with him.

Olson's writing crackles and although we know the outcome, it's still understandable to read about the isolationist camp and want to shake them out of their ostrich-like views and tell them what's about to happen. What the author so wonderfully reveals is the growing sentiment that the U.S. should come to the aid of Britain in increasingly helpful ways.

"Those Angry Days" is one of the finest historical books I've read in a long time. I highly recommend it.


The World According to Bob: The Further Adventures of One Man and His Street-wise Cat
The World According to Bob: The Further Adventures of One Man and His Street-wise Cat
by James Bowen
Edition: Hardcover
66 used & new from $0.77

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching on many levels, August 29, 2013
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There seems to be an abundance of books written about dogs and their owners, but when a book comes along about a cat and its owner, I'm quick to pick it up. "The World According to Bob" is a warm and inspiring book about the lives and travails of a recovering addict and his loyal companion. Author James Bowen not only tells the story of how he met Bob but how their lives together grew so close. Along the way Bowen describes his life "on the streets" and this is an education for all readers.

Thanks to Bob in large part, the two are happy and the author has become a success. What a wonderful book....I highly recommend it!


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