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UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record
UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record
by Leslie Kean
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.63
73 used & new from $5.36

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kean's Book Absolutely DESERVES To Be Read NOW - 5 STARS, October 19, 2012
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There are 100 plus reviews of this book, so this reader will be not attempt to repeat what has already been well stated by other reviewers. Let's look at a few of the pluses and minuses of Ms. Kean's book "UFOs", so you know exactly what you are getting into.

* This is an extraordinarily well documented narrative of the 5% of all UFO cases that remain unexplainable. It doesn't matter what government experts say. In these particular cases, the evidence cannot be explained away.

* If you are a student of this subject, than you MUST READ this book. There is simply nothing else like it on the market which has the creditability of Leslie Kean's work. Even government officials are saying it is creditable.

* Because the evidence is laid out in a very well done manner, this book is NOT A THRILLER. It is not "I must stay up all night to read it," book. As a matter of fact, this reader could argue that it is even boring, and that is because the author purposefully did not want to sensationalize the topic. You are reading this narrative for information, not entertainment.

* If you have an intense interest in the subject matter, you must start with this book, and then broaden out your studies. Ms. Kean is giving you incredible information in very brief chapters. There is no extraneous material in the readings.

How to read this book:

"UFO's" should probably be read in a different manner than just about any other book if your interest in this topic is a serious one. First, you need pens and you need to underline and write in the margins. You then need to explore these assorted topics further through your personal computer by searching the topics and research reports that are precisely named and start getting into them in much more detail. Create a folder in your computer for the topics and research material you pull off the Internet. It will not take long for you to become an expert on UFO literature, and this book is a great resource.

Is the government ACTIVELY Lying to the American People?

It really comes down to the question of whether or not you believe that the government is covering up the subject of UFO's or not? Chapter 11 will provide a very credible answer to this question which is that the government believed in the 1950's after discussion with outstanding scientists and researchers that it is in the interest of the nation to withhold, discredit, and debunk the public of its fascination with UFO phenomena.

When you read the book you will see that although we as citizens may vehemently disagree with this conclusion, the government's reasons for taking this action are logical for them. Nevertheless, it is probably true that most Americans believe themselves capable of dealing with the realities of this topic regardless of where they take us. The truth shall set us free, and even liberate us.

It also becomes apparent after reading Ms. Kean's work that the 5% of UFO's that cannot be explained are events where all-out investigations should be undertaken to understand exactly what we are looking at, regardless of whose turf gets stepped on. We are now in the 21st century. It is different than during the 1950's when the government's behavior on this subject could be more easily understood in terms of national security needs.

These needs are different today than 2 or 3 generations ago. The former Soviet Union is no longer a threat. Thirty minute missile launchings with mutually assured destruction is no longer the policy of the day. Consequently, the basis for the government disavowing any truth to UFO sightings is no longer relevant in a 21st century world.
In the last decade the Catholic Church in Rome convened a meeting of some of the smartest people in the world, outside of religion to deal with the issue of if life exists on other planets, what is the meaning for current civilization and what are the religious implications. If the church can have discussions like this, it behooves us to require the federal government to open up this topic for our citizens to be thoroughly informed as to what the real stories are.

For those of you who wish to remain skeptical of Ms. Kean's writings, this reader would suggest that you re-evaluate government actions over the decades in light of what we know now on so many different actions.

1) During the Cuban missile crisis, we were led to believe that Russian missiles were removed from Cuba with no quid pro quo, only to be informed 20 years later that there was a deal, American missiles in Turkey for Russian missiles in Cuba. We all lived under an illusion.

2) We were thoroughly lied to by two Presidents over the conditions in Viet Nam which led to civil unrest in the social fabric which included riots in our streets.

3) The vast majority of Americans do not believe Oswald killed JFK (the so-called magic bullet theory). Vast amounts of evidence are still locked up in the archives for years to come. If Oswald did it, why the continued embargo on the evidence.

4) President George W. Bush sincerely took our nation to war in Iraq under false pretenses furnished to him by the nation's highest intelligence officer with the backing of tens of billions of dollars of information to support the invasion.

CONCLUSION:

This reader feels if you have an interest in UFO's, than Ms. Kean's writings are on your short list to read. There was a time in the 1960's and 70's prior to new Congressional legislation outlawing such practices, where the CIA was able to financially support thousands of members of the news media of the United States. There is no question that during this period of time, these journalists were NOT objective, and less than honest in their writings. They did the bidding of the intelligence agencies.

This is also true of scientists and researchers. There is tremendous money available to individuals that toe the line, that preach opinions that are given to them if they want to continue to receive stipends and other grants. To think otherwise is to be very foolish in your thinking.

Consequently, the best approach when studying this topic and reading Leslie Kean's book is to have a skeptical mind towards both sides. The best advice this reader can give you is to follow your own inner compass on the subject or UFO's, or as a Las Vegas gambling pro I knew once said when I was very young - trust your mother, but always cut the cards. Thank you for reading this review.

Richard Stoyeck
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 3, 2013 4:46 PM PDT


The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden
The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden
by Mark Bowden
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.84
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27 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVED IT - If you enjoyed BLACK HAWK DOWN - you'll love "THE FINISH" - FIVE STARS!!!, October 17, 2012
You will read Mark Bowden's "The Finish" in an evening, no more than two. What's more important is that you will want to finish it. This is a very quick, easy read. If a reader finds he has one regret it is that the book is much too short for the topic that the author is covering. This is a 304 page narrative that could easily have been 500 or 600 pages of small print, and deservedly so.

This is the story of the 12 year struggle to find and kill Osama bin Laden and the final mission, "The Finish" if you will. It is the story from the top down however, not from the guys in the field or ultimately the Navy SEALS" who got the terrorists. Other fabulous books and movies are being done from that angle. In this book author Mark Bowden begins his story with a description of a special operations raid on foreign soil that yields the equivalent of a rolodex. It becomes known as the "Sinjar Rolodex". It is the rolodex that yields information on 500 different al Quada operatives and in the war on terrorists information is EVERYTHING. From transfers of money to the types of vehicles being driven, all the way to phone cards, people even terrorists cannot operate in a vacuum.

Bowden takes us from the first day of 9/11 right on up to the President flying to the American headquarters of the SEAL Team 6 to award a unit citation to the men who killed bin Laden. There's even a bit of humor when the President is informed that there was a German shepherd on the mission. Barack Obama is surprised to learn that a dog goes on every SEAL mission. "Really, can I meet him," the President inquires? The answer is, "You'll have to give him treats."

You will find yourself sailing through this book as the author takes us on a whirlwind tour of a hunt that lasted a dozen years for the world's most dangerous terrorist. We are taken through the Joint Special Operations Command known as JSOC, under Four Star General Stanley McChrystal, a man known as a snake eater with virtually no body fat. We realized what it is like for the most powerful military force on earth completely equipped to fight a nuclear war to completely switch gears and have to fight a stateless enemy with no fixed address.

There is a complete description of President Bush's activities from the moment he is informed of an attack on the World Trade Center in New York while he is visiting a school in Florida to his arrival at the Strategic Air Command in Omaha Nebraska. After a dozen years we realize there is still new information coming out on that terrible day. As the President is flying, he and his aides are glued to the television screen bringing in the visuals of the attack. The picture on the television is constantly going out as Air Force One is bringing in the stations from town to town as it travels over them. The President can't believe that his own plane doesn't have a constant television satellite feed to deal with this problem, something that was addressed immediately after he got off the plane.

The book also covers an assortment of topics that you might not think would ever be covered by a book on the death of Osama bin Laden. Here's just a few, and some of these issues are more informative than if you read an entire book on the topic:

* The 2008 Democratic primary contests with Clinton vs. Obama are covered in detail. Bowden lays out for the reader how a relatively unknown Senator like Barack Obama is able to defeat an experienced, resource rich opponent like Hillary Clinton. The answer was that the most distinguished resume counted for little next to the impression that the candidates made on the public. (page 56)

* He discussed President Obama's early career as a state legislator in Illinois, and this reader was amazed at many of the statements that the young and future President was making not so very long ago. As an example immediately after the attacks on the World Trade Center when just about every American was demanding blood, the future President when interviewed locally in Illinois spoke about the causes of poverty, and what leads individuals to commit such heinous acts. In retrospect, the timing did not seem appropriate. At the same time, the perpetrators of the act were the western educated children of wealthy Saudi families which made the future President's statements at the time seem even less appropriate.

* We are given a detailed history of the bin Laden Group at the CIA headquarters run by Michael Scheuer who basically hired only women in the group which was a CIA first. Working around the clock for years, utilizing super computers to pour information into in the attempt to search for patterns, Scheuer was frustrated for years in his attempt to kill Ben Laden under different administrations. Several times prior to 9/11 the terrorist hunter had the master terrorist in his sights but could not get White House permission to perform the kill.

Finally after 200 pages of preparatory information it comes together. Most Americans are now aware of the outlines of the story of the final mission to kill the man who brought down the World Trade Center buildings in New York. Bowden makes us relive the experience, but now we see it from the top down. We are in the room with the President at numerous meetings where the strategy is developed and the plan starts to come together. Ultimately, the young President will put his Presidency on the line to give the kill order.

The book thoroughly covers the failure of another mission three decades ago to rescue the American hostages held by the Iranians in their capital. We understand what these two missions have in common and what our country intends to do to make sure that this time we do not fail. Although everyone hopes that the mission will go well, the plan assumes failure on different levels. We then learn what must be done to improvise for certain failures that could take place, and as we find out, in fact did take place when a stealth helicopter crashed into the Bin Laden compound.

This reader loved the story of taking down the terrorist in his villa in Pakistan and every detail associated with the mission. We will not cover it here, but you will thoroughly enjoy it for yourself. There are just a couple of things which should be mentioned to give you some flavor for the detail that is provided in this wonderful narrative:

A) When we lose the stealth helicopter to a controlled crash in the compound, the Navy SEALS on that bird were meant to be placed on the 3rd floor balcony of the villa. In other words they were going to attack the villa from the top down, while another group of SEALS was going to attack the building from the bottom up. After the crash both groups of SEALS attacked from the ground working their way up. This meant that Bin Laden had 15 minutes to think about his final moments on the planet before the SEALS got to him.

B) The terrorist took a bullet while standing, and two more while lying on the floor of the bedroom. The book does not specify nor go into whether this was a kill only mission. It did seem so.

C) President Obama was extremely concerned about whether the SEALS would have to tangle with Pakistani ground forces and fight their way out of the compound incurring losses on both sides. The author does not disclose but hints that America in addition to sending in the SEALS had a separate "Rapid Reaction Force" nearby to immediately come in and aide the SEAL's if in fact the Pakistanis opposed them. As soon as bin Laden died, several observers in the Situation Room were expectantly jubilant. Admiral McRaven in charge of the mission had to quiet them down by saying, "We've still got SEALS on the ground without a ride."

CONCLUSION:

What a book and what a story that is being told. We are obviously looking at a Hollywood movie based on this narrative. It is that good, and it is in the tradition of "Black Hawk Down". As far as war movies go, Black Hawk Down was as good as it gets and authoritative as well. We have the same thing with "The Finish". This narrative leaves nothing to chance. It takes us into the action. We share the mind sets of the different characters, from the guys who went in and killed Bin Laden to the President of the United States.

We realize the incredible risk the President took by authorizing the mission. Yes, it all looks great after the fact, but oh how quickly it could have gone all wrong. You will remember that it was President Kennedy after the fiasco of the Bay of Pigs who said, "Victory has a 1000 authors, and defeat is an orphan." This decision took guts, and just as President Carter probably insured his defeat in 1980 due to the failed rescue attempt in Iran, our current President took a very big gamble with the authorization to kill Bin Laden. You will enjoy a wonderful read with this book, and thank you for reading this review.

Richard Stoyeck

Post Script:

The absolutely most interesting piece of information in this 300 page book is what the author has to say about torture. Bowden reluctantly states that "torture" was successful in extracting information out of certain interviewees that ultimately led to the mission to kill bin Laden. It would seem that if one wants to be realistic about this method, one would have to wonder how anyone could hold out for very long without giving up what they know in the face of physical pain? It is left for each of us to deal with the moral and judicial justification for these methods.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 1, 2012 11:56 PM PDT


Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World
Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World
by Evan Thomas
Edition: Hardcover
136 used & new from $0.88

38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR IKE'S RE-ASSESSMENT A VERY LONG TIME - Quite Simply WONDERFUL - Five Stars !!!!, October 6, 2012
For 40 adult years, this reader has poured over Presidential biographies and historical studies. After reading Evan Thomas's latest book, it is this reader's opinion that this biographer has hit the nail right on the head. Eisenhower is America's least appreciated President of the 20th century. It is also not generally realized that he was among our most successful Presidents (more on this later).

If you read this astute biography, the author captures the essence of the man, and his extraordinary 8 year run in office unlike his predecessor or his successor. It may probably be another generation or so before a true understanding of what Evan Thomas realizes makes it into the general history books. Too much of our history is formed by the opinions of a small group of biased intellectuals who seem to have an axe to grind. This is simply not true of this biography. Consider what it is in this book and then you be the judge as to whether you should read it.

* During the 8 year run of the 34th President, America did not go to war. The Korean War was settled very quickly when the communists knew that they would have to come to terms with the General.

* Khrushchev did not play games with Eisenhower. Is there anyone who thinks that the Russians would have even thought of precipitating a Cuban Missile Crisis if the General were President at the time?

* Is there any historian that believes that Eisenhower could even remotely be sucked into the Bay of Pigs invasion which occurred under Kennedy's watch in April of 1961? Yes, the invasion was planned while Ike was President, but there is some difference between planning and going ahead. Besides, President Kennedy to his dying days said privately "I never asked the Joint Chiefs the right question, which is I want to make this a military operation, how many Marines do we need to send in." The generals would have replied 250,000, and the JFK would have known he was being had. He would have realized "These guys want me to send in 1500 Cuban exiles to do a job that they say I would need 250,000 Marines to do." JFK would have cancelled the invasion right there and then. Ike had he been President would have asked that question. Nevertheless, historians like Arthur Schlesinger who are totally jaded towards an honest assessment of JFK because of loyalty continue to still exercise outsize influence over history's judgment of these Presidents.

* Does anyone think that Eisenhower would have gotten trapped in Viet Nam the way JFK (my personal hero by the way) and LBJ did?

* Eisenhower's parting gift to America was the speech given regarding the Military Industrial Complex. It will probably take another generation before it is considered a watershed moment in American history. It is a time when an President cried out for the citizens to become informed and take action against sinister, selfish forces that were trying to wrest control of America away from its citizens. Yes the book points out that Ike had his dark side and he could play politics in the street if he had to. At the same time, who would not associated the words integrity, and above board with the General.

* It is clear in the book that this is the only American President since the creation of Israel to stand up to our allies France, England and Israel and tell them that they were wrong and to back off over the Suez Canal crisis. All by itself this was an extraordinary decision to make.

* It is a little known fact that 8 times during his Presidency, the Joint Chiefs came to him and asked permission to use nuclear weapons, and 8 times he turned them down. He cut defense spending when all other Presidents increased it. He said, "We need to spend every dollar we must on defense, but NOT ONE DOLLAR MORE than is necessary." What a breath of fresh air he would be today.

* Many historians like to portray the President as slow, average intelligence, and boring. This is totally refuted in this wonderful, far ranging biography. Here's the other side of the story. The smartest man in the military in the 20th century was probably Fox Connor, an intellectual without equal. Ike as a young soldier spent 3 years under General Connor being tutored for the future, being prepped for World War II twenty years before the war.

The future President then goes on to serve General without equal Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines for several years. When the Japanese invade the Philippines, Eisenhower is summoned back to Washington DC where General George Marshall immediately puts him in a room and tells him, "Put together a plan for the defense of the Philippines, and come out when it's finished." As we all know Marshall has much responsibility for making Ike the future President by having him command of the Normandy invasion and race across Europe.

Marshall knew full well that whoever had that command could probably be a future President. Now these three generals, Connor, MacArthur, and Marshall were three of the most demanding men of the 20th century, and they all thought highly of the future President when he was under their commands. These men did not suffer fools, or people of average intelligence working for them. All of them pegged the future President as an extraordinary person years before he became famous which is why they had him with them.

It is this reader's opinion that this book will begin the careful reexamination of Dwight Eisenhower's Presidency which is so sorely needed to create a much more realistic assessment of what really happened and what really mattered in the mid-20th century. If you were to read and you should, David McCullough's dazzling and thoroughly engrossing biography of President Truman, and then read this book by Evan Thomas you will possess a much better understanding of the relative positions of the two men. History has re-examined Truman and elevated him to near-great status. This has not happened yet with the General, and this reader believes it is coming. The McCullough book is clear that during the Truman Administration there was crisis after crisis that Truman had to deal with, and then 8 years of peace and economic growth under the General.

How does one simply explain these constant crisis that occupied during the years before Eisenhower and after Eisenhower but not during his years in office without giving Ike the credit for bringing about a period of calm, peace, and sustained economic growth. You will have to read the book to find out. Evan Thomas has done some job with "Ike's Bluff".

CONCLUSION:

If you have read the Stephen Ambrose's biographies of Eisenhower than you know that Ambrose the historian is a great admirer of the General, and this has done much to FORCE historians to reassess Ike in terms of other Presidents. Evan Thomas is now continuing this tradition and through the sheer energy of this brilliant and wonderfully readable narrative will cause historians to re-think Eisenhower's place in history which he so deserves.

When one compares this man's extraordinary life and achievements to the media created Presidents of both parties of the last 20 plus years, Eisenhower's place in history will take on an even stronger standing. Thank you for reading this review, and I hope that you will take the time to read this author's wonderful appraisal of a miss-understood gifted leader.

Richard Stoyeck
Comment Comments (15) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 14, 2014 7:18 PM PDT


Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why
Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why
by Laurence Gonzales
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.25
360 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite Simply - The Finest Book of its Kind that I Expect to Read - FIVE STARS!!!!, October 3, 2012
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You talk about somebody being on top of his game. You have probably had the feeling before like this reader that you go through a book and say to yourself, this author has poured himself into the book. That is what we have here. Gonzalez has had a life-time to think about the different types of survival situations he is covering in this narrative, and each one is a story of courage, sacrifice, and living against the odds. He has somehow managed to figure out highly plausible explanations as to why some survive catastrophic circumstances while others fold, and die. Oddly enough most of the time it is not about who is the strongest physically, but rather who has what it takes INSIDE. Those who display bravado, they die the quickest.

This reader simply loved this book, having read it when it first came out and then more recently once again on a trip out west, I would find myself sitting with pens underlining key statements, writing in margins, transposing sentences onto blank sheets in the front and back of the book. Who does this kind of thing? What kind of book can have that kind of effect on a reader? DEEP SURVIVAL is that kind of book.

This is truly usable information we are dealing with. Other reviewers have done an excellent job of pointing out the assets and difficulties the book has. It is perhaps at this point more appropriate to point out some of the concepts you will learn by spending a few hours going through this book. It will dramatically change the way you look at your world around you, and perhaps if you discuss it with someone close to you, just might just save a life.

The HIGHLIGHTS:

* Gonzales talks about flying across the Pacific on vacation, stepping off a plane in Hawaii, and a few hours later putting on his bathing suit and going down to the beach for a swim whereupon he encounters a lifeguard and casually queries him, "Where do you think I should go for a swim today."

Expecting a quick one or two sentence reply, he is astounded when the life guard gets down off his viewing post, and quietly spends several minutes looking at the water before replying. The guard then describes to the new vacationer in detail exactly the dangers that waiting for him in different sections of the visible water.

To Gonzales it is obvious had he just gone casually into the water, he would have very easily wound him drowning. This leads us to the much bigger issue of how many people throughout the world would have just entered those waters with no awareness of the danger and then found themselves in trouble when it was too late to extricate themselves from danger. This whole concept is explored on page 130 of the book.

* The dangers of mountain climbing and skiing are explored in detail. The author teaches you to have a new mindset when you enter the domain of the mountains. An amazing story is conveyed to the reader how people are trapped on a mountain, lifesavers from the ski patrol go up the trails, and successfully save those trapped. After it is all over, the lifesavers themselves then proceed to spirit their snowmobiles up and down the mountain to have a little fun after having been forewarned about the possibility of avalanches in this area, and then find themselves creating the very avalanche they were warned about.

Several are killed instantly. How can this be? How can professionals totally aware of risk, trained to analyze and attempt to keep the odds on their side wind up killing themselves in the very environment that they are experts in? The answers are astounding, and there are lessons for each of us, if our minds are open to learning.

* It is every parent's nightmare that their child gets lost, and Gonzales thoroughly covers this topic beginning on page 170. Years ago, I spent a week at the Squaw Valley Ski Resort. While traveling up the mountain with my daughter and a very experienced ski instructor, we met a young fellow about 8 years old traveling up the mountain alone. He was a member of a group that lives in the valley and has been trained in the ways of the mountain by professionals at Squaw that teach local children just this sort of activity. The ski instructor was completely comfortable with that boy going up alone. Now having been caught on two different mountains in a blizzard at Lake Tahoe over a ten year period, I simply could not believe it.

Gonzalez explains in the book that people think because they are ensconced in a 50 million dollar set of buildings at the foot of a 21st century ski resort that somehow mother nature has been tamed. Man now rules the mountain - SURE. In this book you will learn why children 6 years and under have a much greater chance of survival and being found alive in a wilderness setting, than children 7 to 12 years of age. The evidence is in, the theories of why this is so are now known, and the information is available for our use in protecting our families. The author continues to both impress us, and educate us on topics that we really know nothing about, but think we know everything.

* There is a direct correlation between the number of visitors to areas of danger such as the beaches in Hawaii, and mountain visitors and the number who disappear and die. The more visitors the more problems. This led the author to conclude that death in environments like this is a natural occurrence simply subject to ratios of the number of people involved. He also points out that these events like shark attacks are under-reported. As an example the number of people getting killed or bitten by sharks in Australia is much greater than what you read in newspapers. If you want to discourage tourism, just keep reporting high incidences of shark attacks. It makes sense, doesn't it?

* For years we have all watched movies and television shows where actors do all kinds of stupid things that we say, no one would do that in real life. An example would be in a shootout, instead of protecting your body by shielding it behind something, you step out with your gun completely exposing your body and shoot from an exposed position. Sounds ludicrous, doesn't it? The author explains that people really do incredibly stupid things in survival situations, like take off their backpack and leaving it, or their jacket because they are feeling warm for the moment.

There is an entire psychology and branch of survival thinking that explains this kind of behavior. Perhaps the best defense against acting this way is to understand deeply, the intuitive reflexes that guide this kind of behavior. The author is a master at conveying to us what we need to know to prevent falling into these cognitive traps.

CONCLUSION:

This book is fantastic and this reader does not expect to ever read anything as good as this book on this topic again. Very shortly after its publication, the author wrote another book on this very same topic. The first half of the sequel was once again excellent. The second half however meandered completely off topic, which leads this reader to believe that sometimes an author has just one great book in him. Once it gets written, the author seeks to capitalize on the success of his earlier works by writing another book.

One last thought. You will remember a number of years back, a group of pros getting caught in a blizzard climbing Mount Everest. Several of them died on the mountain during that event. It is one of the worst catastrophes to hit Everest in years. Prior to climbing the mountain one of the guides with an international reputation who was killed during the storm told one of the group that was going to climb with him, "Don't worry about Everest, we have been climbing this mountain for so long, we have it WIRED." It's that type of thinking which is illustrated throughout this book that gets you into trouble very quickly in a hostile natural environment. If there is one book you want to read on survival and give to members of your family, then Deep Survival is it. Go for it, and thank you for reading this review.

Richard Stoyeck


Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust
Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust
by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.72
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14 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEYOND EXTRAORDINARY - A book that will change your understanding of this vital historical event!!!!! 5 STARS - READ IT, October 2, 2012
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How could a book like this be a page turner? How could it be riveting? You read it, and then you wish you could abandon everything else and finish it. Have a pen in your hand to annotate it, take notes; this book is going to change your entire understanding of the Final Solution.

There is something else that is perhaps unique about this book that I have found very rarely in reading. As a writer Goldhagen has the ability to say in a sentence what many writers require paragraphs to say. He can say in a paragraph what others require pages to say. His choice of words as such is so remarkable that when he is done writing, you realize that you could not have said it better yourself if you had a year to think about it. At the same time, there are problems with the organization of the book and it seems it could have been substantially shorter had the author wished it to be. Having said the aforesaid, let's get into it.

Just when you thought you had read all the necessary books on the holocaust including the required biographies of Hitler by William Shirer, Ian Kershaw and Allan Bullock, you come across Daniel Goldhagen's work on Ordinary Germans And The Holocaust, and everything you thought you knew is turned upside down.

A half century ago the philosopher Hannah Arendt was a writer based in New York. She went to Israel and was an observer at the trial of Adolph Eichmann who was discovered by the Mossad living in Argentina. He was living in Argentina where Israeli agents discreetly spirited him away to Israel to stand trial as one of Hitler's chief organizers of the concentration camps. His specific responsibility was for the transportation system used in the holocaust. Arendt spent day after day looking at Eichmann in a glass booth during the trail and trying to understand what was unique about this man that allowed him to be involved in such mass killing? She could not figure it out.

She finally came up with a famous concept which she referred to as the BANALITY OF EVIL. This man was nothing special. He could have been a cook or a dishwasher, or a tailor. He was simply plucked to do a job and he tried to do it well, with no thought whatsoever to the moral issues involved. Eichmann was a product of the German culture, and in the end this culture provided the impetus for the Final Solution and it is this culture which Goldhagen explores for 461 pages and 125 pages of well-crafted footnotes. The book is divided into six parts and 16 chapters. Goldhagen presents a detailed history of German anti-Semitism going back two centuries, and it this history which changes our understanding and perspective on this terrible event.

Much has already been written good and bad about the author's narrative on this website. This reader's problem with so much that has been written is that it certainly appears that the reviews are being colored by the reader's subjective opinions on this subject before they even read the book. The only subject that has generated as much anger on both sides in my opinion is the subject of the JFK assassination where pro and non-pro conspiracy theorists rant and rave against each other without either side legitimately searching for truth.

Goldhagen's research and book deserve an objective reading before people form opinions. This reader for one has no axe to grind on this subject as having been born after this tragedy took place, I have tried to look at this as history and figure out what really happened and how. Goldhagen has added demonstrably to literature and should be applauded for his efforts. Now having said this, here are a few of the highlights of the book in case you never read it, frankly this is a painful book to read. This is not a walk in the park. Having said that, this is what you need to know:

* Hitler and his followers were the only future mass murderers to be FREELY elected into office. It never happened with Mao, Lenin, Stalin, Attila the Hun, Vlad the Impaler, or anyone to my knowledge.

* It is a myth that Germans who refused to participate in the mass killings had no choice but to participate. The evidence demonstrates that they could have asked to be re-assigned. They could have walked away. In certain instances superiors specifically told their underlings if you can't handle this, step forward. Very few took that step.

* It is a myth that the common German was not aware of the mass killing that was taking place (page 8). Soldiers and police who were highly active in the slaughter constantly sent back pictures that were taken of the slaughter to their sweet hearts, wives and families. They were proud of the Final Solution.

* It is a myth that Hitler only dreamed of creating this killing apparatus late in the war during the 1940's. Hitler during every step of his leadership constantly tried to stay in tune with the German people and not get too far out in front of them. As an example he instituted a euthanasia program for the infirm, mentally imbalance, and others during the 1930's. He was forced to back away from it because of the public backlash against it. There was not such backlash in his campaigns and operations against those who were Jewish.

It was only with the war that Hitler found himself with constrains removed against his pursuit of the Final Solution. It was then that he was able to gain control of territories with millions of Jews as in Poland and the western Soviet Union. He was then able to act upon his already embedded philosophy of KILLILNG the Jewish race. Page 376

* It was a myth that only the most dedicated of Nazis performed the killing tasks. These were ORDINARY Germans as personified by the members of the police battalions who were older men in their mid to late 30's, not eligible for military service who volunteered for the task of following the German troops into Poland and the Soviet Union once the areas were secured and executed hundreds of thousands of Jewish men, women, and children who were not part of the war effort.

There were certain things exposed by Goldhagen that this reader personally found amazing. As an example there came a point shortly before the end of the war where Himmler was attempting to negotiate an end to the war with the Americans. He gave the order no more killing of the Jews. Himmler simply did not want the continued killings to interfere with his negotiations.

German guards nevertheless continued to slaughter Jewish people on forced marches in the last days of the war exercising their zeal and lust for killing even while under orders not to kill. This one act alone blows out the door the argument that the Germans only killed out of fear of reprisals of their leaders, and for their careers and families. In many instances officers brought their wives along on their killing sprees to watch the executioners in action. There were pictures of this activity in the book.

CONCLUSION:

Hitler's Willing Executioners is a book we must read to begin to understand the underlying anti-Semitism that was pervasive to the German culture that set the whole ambience for how Hitler was able to harness the energy of the German people to support him in what anyone living today should view as insanity run wild. It is precisely because this happened in an advanced civilization and culture that was 20th century Germany that this tragedy must be studied again and again. Where were the churches and the doctors, the lawyers, the intellectuals, the people of good cheer while the atmosphere of killing was developing and then took place? How did the guards spend their days activating their most primitive instincts for one on one cruelty and then go home and have dinner with their families? Read Daniel Goldhagen's work and find out, and thank you for reading this review.

Richard Stoyeck
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 6, 2014 2:32 PM PST


Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story
Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story
by Arnold Schwarzenegger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.79
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124 of 150 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate American Success Story - Truthful well YES and NO - Five Stars for Arnold, October 1, 2012
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This is a fabulous story about a fabulous personality. Is it self-serving? Of course it is. Is it an honest portrayal about an American icon? How could it be, and do we as readers have a right to expect complete honesty in a book like this? The answer is probably not, the author is after all in the image making business. Since most of us have never met and will probably never meet the terminator, we only know of him through the media, and that in all instances is managed. Now we are given a 690 page narrative with pictures spread over 30 delicious chapters, and this reader feels it has been beautifully written, even if it isn't the whole deal.

First what are we dealing with here? This is an autobiography, so don't look for the reality of what this man's life and actions have truly been. You won't find it, nor do we probably have a right to find it, although there is still the expectation of candor. After all, an autobiography is an edited selection of the events of an individual's entire life. The author gets to portray himself however he wants to, putting in what he wants, how he wants, and leaving out what he doesn't want.

In this highly readable and fast going narrative, Arnold tells his story from his humble origins in Austria, to the dreams he gave himself growing up, and then the journey to America where he creates and fulfills a fantasy life that the rest of us can only maintain as a dream state. He talks about using steroids as a bodybuilder. He claims a lack of knowledge about them. Others in bodybuilding at the time knew the real deal, and knowledge was there if he had wanted it.

He is one of only three major bodybuilders to strike it rich through this profession. The other two are Steve Reeves, an extremely handsome man who went onto fame as Hercules in Hollywood. There was also Reg Park, another fabulous athlete who adorned Arnold's bedroom walls while he was growing up. Schwarzenegger mentions both of them on page 30 of the book but certainly does not give enough credit to them as the role models and the revolutionaries they were, that allowed him to stand on their shoulders and take bodybuilding so much higher than it had ever been before.

After winning Mr. Universe which is thoroughly covered in Chapter 4, the author talks about calling up Reg Park in South Africa and reminding him that Park had invited him to South Africa if and when Schwarzenegger won the Mr. Universe contest. Park was as good as his word, sending the young bodybuilder a ticket. Arnold spent several weeks with Park and his family and it was probably here that he realized his dreams as a child could be turned into realities. He saw a family life he never had, and success that he thought could be but had never seen a model for it before. He now had the model which was crucial to his attempt to make a reality out of the dream.

He put a plan into his own mind at that point. It included America, bigger things in bodybuilding, Hollywood, a family, wealth, and eventually politics. The rest of the book, some 550 pages more is the story of each aspect of his plan meticulously played out before our eyes. It all began with the model. It is always the revolutionary that matters, the first to do something is always excruciatingly difficult and for most seems impossible which is why it remains unfulfilled for so many years.

It took 2000 years for the first runner to run the four minute mile, than within 15 month, 12 others did it. Arnold had the model in Reg Park and Steve Reeves, but it was to his credit that he took the reality to such a much higher plane than anybody had ever thought possible.

Throughout the book you will laugh, you will reflect, and you will marvel that the American dream is still alive and worthwhile. Some people will be of the opinion that all it takes is a dream and access to America and yes it can all come through, if you simply work hard. In the book that appears to be the conclusion that Arnold draws for his own life (more about this later). The following chapters are glittering, enticing and very entertaining aspects of this philosophy.

* Chapter 10 - Stay Hungry

* Chapter 14 - What Doesn't Kill Us Makes Us Stronger

* Chapter 18 - Comic Timing

* Chapter 26 - The Comeback

* Chapter 30 - Arnold's Rules

You the reader must come to your own conclusions as to how much of the book is disingenuous and self-serving and perhaps an attempt to rehabilitate an image that was very much tarnished by the affair(s) that he had, and the birth of a child outside his marriage. The author goes through a lot of effort to make the story come out his way. As readers we shouldn't fault him for this effort, but simply keep it in mind as we search for entertainment and understanding as to what it took for him to succeed. We also get the sheer fantasy fulfillment of our own notions about what it would be like to lead the fantastic, unbelievable existence that is portrayed throughout this book.

It is probably true that the author has not led one life but many lives, and he has basically fulfilled most of his wishes in a life that is not yet complete. At one time or another he has journeyed to the top of the following worlds:

1) Bodybuilding

2) Hollywood

3) Politics

4) Business

5) Wealth

6) Celebrity

Only the author knows whether in the end it was all worth, was it a life worth living, and what does he do now with the time that is left? He must also balance it off with the affair that is explored in chapter 29 entitled "The Secret". You can't have all the above without also having to deal with this self-made star voluntarily destroying his family and his wife who is prominent in her own right, Maria Shriver.

We the readers are not aware of what occupies the author's mind during the moments when he is truly alone. Is it sadness, compassion, is there reflection, or does he simply remain on the ladder of success struggling for the next step on that ladder which is signified by "Arnold's Rules" explored in Chapter 30. This last chapter is worth the price of the book alone for in it, he tells you what he believes are the driving daily habits behind his success.

CONCLUSION:

This is one reader who loved this book. It was a fabulous read, comical and entertaining too. One felt that you really got to know the author well, that you may have been in touch with his core at different points. It is also ture that the book was very clearly written on his terms. You can take him for what he says, you can disagree, but you cannot deny that this immigrant from Austria has lived and continues to live a bigger than life story, and is the personification, warts and all of the American dream of success. To this reader it is clearly NOT true that all you need is a vision of success, a willingness to work hard, and the ability to executive the vision and then you too can become a success like the author.

Many people, no matter how hard they work, for many reasons never make it, and it is not their fault that they fail. What is important at the end of one's life is that when you look back at YOUR life, you are able to say that I did the things I wanted to do, and I have NO REGRETS. Hopefully the author can say this about his life, although for the rest of us, it and he remain what appears to be an incredible life played out on many of the public stages of the world. You should take the time to read this book, and perhaps you will love it too as did this reader, and thank you for reading this review.

Richard Stoyeck
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So Rich, So Poor: Why It's So Hard to End Poverty in America
So Rich, So Poor: Why It's So Hard to End Poverty in America
by Peter B. Edelman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.41
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really well done treatise on poverty but also biased from the left!!!, September 12, 2012
Peter Edelman has served his country in many capacities as a man who comes from the left side of the political spectrum. He walked behind Robert Kennedy during his time in the Justice Department. He clerked for Judge Friendly on the Court of Appeals and Justice Arthur Goldberg on the Supreme Court. He holds multiple degrees from Harvard University both as an undergraduate and the law school. He also served as a high official in the Clinton Administration and resigned in protest of the welfare reform act enacted by that Administration.

He knows what he is talking about and has spent his life studying poverty. The statistics he furnishes in the book are indisputable and worth studying. This is a man whose work you should study. The book is more than worthwhile. If you are interested in poverty, a subject that has not been mentioned during the 2008 Presidential campaigns of both Obama and Bush II, and has not been raised during this campaign as well then this is a great book to start with.

The numbers speak for themselves. The professor mentions we have 46 million people in poverty as of the year 2012. That's up from 31 million in the year 2000. As a percentage of our population we have as many people in poverty today as we did 50 years ago.

Now having said the above here's the problem which is never explored throughout the entire book. Fifty years ago, Lyndon Johnson began this nation's fight on poverty. Medicare and Medicaid came into effect and a whole slew of programs specifically aimed at ending poverty in the country. Through the years trillions of dollars of this nation's treasury were spent in the effort. We created a Department of Education and spent trillions more on a federal level to aide the states who were the only spenders on education before federal government got involved.

After all is said and done, we are at the same levels of poverty as we were when nothing was being done on the issue 50 years ago. How can that be? How is it possible to wage a war on poverty involving trillions of dollars with no quantitative improvement in the results obtained? Is the professor saying it would have been far worse if nothing was done and we continued a laissez faire approach to poverty? The question goes unanswered but begs to be answered and certainly studied.

He never touches the topic in his book. He however wages massively effective arguments to increase expenditures across the board in all these programs once again. Never once does he challenge the efficiency of any of these programs. As an example, NYC has a program which enables senior citizens to get to their doctors and medical appointments via special buses and ambulance services. In 2011 that program cost the taxpayers $446 million dollars. That's right, a half a billion just for transportation. In New York State 1 out of every 5 people are on Medicaid which equals 4 million recipients. The issue is never discussed as to how any society can afford such expenses and for how long?

Professor Edelman is strong and very convincing in his convictions for the need for national health care for all our citizens. He correctly states that every industrialized society in the world has such health care, and as leaders of the free world, how could we not? The problem is that we already spend 17.4% of our gross domestic product on health care expenditures and that's before the new health care law kicks in. No other country in the world spends more than 12% and most spend 7%. Our percentage is unsustainable and still growing.

Health care is the only area where consumers do not question the price of anything. The doctor or hospital does not mention the price, and the consumer never will inquire. Go into a drug store and ask what the cash price is for a month's worth of Lipitor at a specific dosage and the pharmacist doesn't know because since everybody is insured, the question never comes up. Professor Edelman makes no attempt to get deep into these subjects and reconcile what both the left and the right are saying. This is very unfortunate because this author has the capacity to frame the arguments for both sides and get the reader involved. He simply chose not to do it.

In spite of the above, this is a great book to read. You must however come at it with an open and questioning mind. This is because like any other book written on a vital political topic; we always seem to get one side of the argument rather than an objective picture. As American citizens we are capable of making up our own mind on these important issues of the day. Read Peter Edelman's So Rich, So Poor and begin to understand this vital topic, from a true expert on poverty.

Richard C. Stoyeck
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 18, 2014 11:45 PM PDT


Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power
Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power
by Steve Coll
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.83
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205 of 217 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You can't put this book down - It just grabs YOU - 5 STARS !!!!!, May 1, 2012
As a reader you can never really explain it, but a truly great author can make anything come alive while others will put you to sleep. Steve Coll is a Pulitzer Prize winner author of Ghost Wars - the Secret History of the CIA, which is another book you just can't put down. Private Empire is special, and the title is so appropriate, a company that has been in business for over a 100 years. It has seen 19 American Presidents come and go, and yet it remains the dominant energy company in the world, and this book covers the whole story.

There is very little devoted to the early history of the company. As we all probably know John D. Rockefeller created the Standard Oil Trust and when it was broken up by the Trust Busters in the early 20th century, one of the spin-offs was the early ancestor to what is now Exxon which eventually combined with Mobil Oil to form ExxonMobil. Rockefeller controlled 14% of the American economy at one point, and oil has remained our dominant energy source ever since.

What a book, what a story for Exxon is the tale of 20th century America and our country's rise to both prominence and dominance in the world both politically and economically. A company so powerful that it considers itself in many ways a state within a state with an internal security force the equivalent of the Secret Service that guards our President. And why not, Exxon has recruited the best of the retired Secret Service agents to develop, install, and maintain a security shield around this company's behavior and its employees.

The book devotes a chapter to the kidnapping and death of Exxon executive Sidney Reso and how CEO Lee Raymond completely revamped the entire company to ensure that it would not happen again. You will learn about the finest private corporate jet fleet in America, and how the Board of Directors mandated that the CEO would never fly a commercial flight again.

It's absolutely absorbing to study in detail how the company after decades in New York moved its corporate headquarters to Dallas Texas and how the building was designed for secrecy with an inner sanctum within an inner sanctum. It was called the God Pod, and the building was called the Death Star after the Star Wars movies.

Lee Raymond proudly proclaims about his competitors, we are Oil - the rest of you are kids. Nothing is left to chance for the dominant oil company in the world. They don't run the company on emotions, they run it on science and principles as the book points out. It is the relentless pursuit of efficiency, another catchphrase employed by the author.

COMPOSITION of the Book

This tome is over 700 pages spread over 28 chapters with extensive use of footnotes. It is separated into two parts, the first 14 chapters or part I is The End of Easy Oil, while Part II is The Risk Cycle which covers 14 additional chapters.

To truly cover the history of Exxon from the beginning, you would need 1500 to 2000 pages, so the author decided to begin with the Exxon Valdez tragedy. In March of 1989, an Exxon oil tanker traveling through Prince Edward Sound went aground and created an environmental and public relations nightmare for Exxon. The story is covered in detail and the book clearly demonstrates how Lee Raymond who would become CEO in the future used the tragedy to essentially completely revamp Exxon's corporate structure and behavior.

The author also wisely decided to use Lee Raymond as the point man or cornerstone of this book. We see Exxon through Raymond's eyes, and as Raymond says in the book, we see governments come and go. This is an acknowledgment that Exxon thinks and plans for decades at a time, not years.

CONCLUSION

Yes, it is all here. If you are into business biographies, this one is tops. If you are into geopolitical power and how corporations interact with governments including their own government this book is an eye-opener. If you want to get a real feel for what it's like for tens of thousands of people to dedicate themselves to the optimal running of a corporation and very little else, this book may turn you on or turn you off.

Exxon is a demanding master for those who serve, and for those who serve willingly, it makes them rich, and materially they want for nothing. Yes the corporation will absorb your soul and ask everything of you. This is all the more interesting when you consider that all the top people in this company seem to be cut from the same cloth meaning the same religious belief systems, basically Southern colleges, and political beliefs - no left wing partisans need to submit a resume. You simply would not pass the background check.

This reader thought the two chapter headings that best describe the Exxon culture were Chapter 4 - Do you really want us as an enemy, and Chapter 17 I pray for Exxon. The best line in the book was a sentence where Exxon's attitude is described as F_ _ _ you - no apologies, oil is here to stay. This is truly a great read. You don't want to miss it, and you will understand much more about oil, lobbyists, how our government works, and energy that you could have ever possibly wanted to know. Get it today.

Richard Stoyeck
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 24, 2012 9:58 PM PST


The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson
The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson
by Robert A. Caro
Edition: Hardcover
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132 of 149 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every page is scintillating, moving, and documented - Caro once again breaks NEW GROUND - 5 STARS !!!!!, May 1, 2012
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For those of us who have read the previous volumes of Robert Caro's portrait of the life of Lyndon Johnson, we have all eagerly awaited this the latest installment. When the author first began writing what has become the definitive biography of the 36th President, he was basically vilified by scholars as getting it wrong. With each passing year, and volume, historians have come over to Caro's side of the story in troves. The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power can either be read as part of the anthology or as a standalone story of Johnson's years during the Vice Presidency, and his ascension to the oval office upon the tragic death of John Kennedy.

Either way, you are in for a real treat. Many readers agree that writing doesn't get any better than this, and the proof is that Caro's writings have stood the test of time, and his reputation has simply gotten bigger. This is 605 pages (736 with footnotes) of detailed writing that any student of that period will cherish. The first half of the book, over 300 pages is dedicated to the last two Senate years, and the Vice Presidential years when LBJ lived the most down in the valley depressing type experience. He was ignored by the President, and castigated by young Robert Kennedy. Between the two of them Johnson's power had been castrated, and he was boxed into a small office. In a city where power was everything, Johnson now had none.

This is especially interesting in light of the heights from which he the former Senate Majority leader had fallen. Johnson as leader was considered the most powerful man in the Congress, with the White House held by the popular Republican President Dwight Eisenhower. Ike could get nothing done in the Democratic Congress without LBJ's help. Now with a potential Democratic President coming into office, he Johnson would be virtually unimportant as the new President would grasp power from both Ike, and Johnson. LBJ therefore knew that the Vice Presidency was where he wanted to be, or so he thought at the time.

As the book so poignantly points out however, Johnson also knew that seven other men had become president by simply being Vice President, and that is why he wanted the job so badly. Absolutely competent, understanding power, and desperately ambitious, Johnson would relegate himself to the job that former Vice President John Nance Gardner had described as not worth a bucket of warm spit.

For the first 300 thoroughly documented pages we feel Lyndon Johnson's pain as Vice President. It is both intense and unrelenting. The author has interviewed scores of the President's contemporaries who poured themselves into the story in order that Caro could get it right. Thousands of documents were studied as Caro once again lives in Washington DC for weeks and months at a time trying to get inside the head of his subject, moving down the same corridors that Johnson himself walked. As in previous volumes, the reader can just sense that the author has penetrated to the heart and soul of this most interesting of Presidents, and one who still remains bigger than life.

More than 60 pages of the book are devoted to the day John Kennedy dies, and then LBJ's successful attempt to reframe the nation's collective pain and use it to galvanize the Congress in coming months to pass his predecessor's agenda, something the late President was not able to get done himself. Caro and Kennedy Harvard historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. go head to head in the narrative as Caro rips to shreds Schlesinger's previously accepted belief that JFK would have passed his own agenda had he lived.

The book also deals with the hotly debated topic of whether JFK expected LBJ to accept the Vice Presidency when the offer was made. The story of Bobby Kennedy attempting to talk his brother out of it, and even telling Johnson he should withdraw his name is covered in detail. Interviews were conducted, documents studied and tape recordings of Lyndon Johnson's discussion of the matter are all covered in detail. Once again, Caro has rewritten conventional wisdom.

Readers on both sides of the discussion as to who killed JFK will be sorely disappointed if they expect Caro to shed new light on this hotly contested topic which still remains red hot some 50 years after the assassination. The author is of the opinion that the Warren Commission got it right, and he spares no attempt in his praise of the commission and its conclusions.

CONCLUSION

This latest installment of Robert Caro's The Years of Lyndon Johnson is once again a first rate biography of a President that had tremendous impact on our country, our history, and what we have become. It covers a short period in the President's life, his ascension to the Vice Presidency and his coming into the Presidency itself. Basically nothing of the wrenching Viet Nam experience is covered. That will probably be left to the next installment. In the meantime we have enough to chew on in this volume to keep any fan of Caro's going until years from now, the author may shed new light on the American experience in Viet Nam. This reader urges all readers of politics, history, and fascinating biography to pick up a copy of this book and read it cover to cover.

Richard Stoyeck
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Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs
by Walter Isaacson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.65
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21 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Steve Jobs - He Changed Everything and only had briefly to do it !!!! - FIVE STARS, October 24, 2011
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This review is from: Steve Jobs (Hardcover)
In 42 chapters narrated through 573 pages, master biographer Walter Isaacson has done an extraordinary job of chronicling the life of a man that probably lived 5 lifetimes in one all too brief 56 years. Remember that Steve Jobs picked Isaacson to write this masterpiece, as early as 2004 when it was the very private head of Apple that called the author while the author was head of the famous Aspen Institute. Isaacson resisted at first. One reason was that Jobs was still alive, and in the prime of his productivity. The author thought it would be a good idea 20 years down the road. Jobs being intensely private did not share the recently received news of cancer.

It would be 2009, five years later when Isaacson would be talking with Jobs' wife Laurene Powell and she would tell him that you really should write this book. The author would then receive a call that same year on New Year's Eve day from Jobs and once again the issue was raised. Finally, Jobs being persuasive told the author that he the writer would have complete editorial control. Jobs did not even want to read the draft when it was done. He would encourage all his associates, friends, and even those antagonistic to him to be completely candid and open with Isaacson. Ultimately the only objection Jobs would raise was to the photograph that the publisher came up with for the cover. In the end, Jobs got the cover he thought was more appropriate and who could begrudge him that.

If the reader has read any of the author's previous works dealing with Einstein, Ben Franklin, or Henry Kissinger, you will recognize that he is methodical, thorough, and very demanding in his choice of language, and what he presents as facts. In the case of Steve Jobs he conducted 40 interviews over 2 years, plus over 100 interactions with friends, adversaries, family members, and colleagues. The book bears witness to the thoroughness of the author's technique.

What the Book is Telling the Reader

This is very simply the story of a boy or was abandoned by his birth parents, raised by loving and caring adoptive parents, and went on in spite of the demons that accompanied him throughout his life to change the world on his own terms in a positive fashion. What a wonderful legacy to leave the world with. He demonstrated to humanity that regardless of how you come onto this planet, you can choose to have your own impact. You do not have to accept what is. Everything originates with an internalized idea or fantasy, and then from there it is the reader's choice as to whether to process it into a reality, and Jobs created many realities.

In every book, there is that one page, or paragraph, sometimes just a sentence or even a phrase that is MAGICAL, that makes the entire book worth reading. For some readers it will be in the title of Chapter 11, which is called The Reality Distortion Field. What Jobs has created in this tight short, but priceless phrase is that there is always reality, what truly is. In the minds however are prejudices or distortions, or sometimes delete other truths. What this means is that in the end, each reader, each inventory has their own version of reality. Although this individually created reality is not the reality that everyone shares, it is still reality to that individual person. This is the Reality Distortion Field, and it well might be the most amazing concept in the book and could well change your understanding of how to change your own world. The reader might consider reading Chapter 11 thoroughly.

After reading the book, the question arises whether there was anyone else like him past or present. In the last 100 years or so you have had other inventors like Thomas Edison, Nikolai Tesla, and more recently Edwin Land of Polaroid (the instant processing camera). When you read the Isaacson book, Jobs specifically mentions that Edwin Land was a childhood hero of his. What develops out of this is that even the masters have masters. It is understood that none of us do it alone. Steve Jobs shows us how to achieve something truly worthwhile, and his biography is a guidebook to the useful life. Like others who have stood On the Shoulders of Giants (OTSOG), Jobs took us to new heights as a civilization. Throughout the book is his continual embrace of the technology of the moment, combining it with art, humanity, and engineering prowess to bring about a whole new way of living and interacting while touching hundreds of millions of people and then the whole planet.

He did something so strange, so unique by re-inventing Apple after the success of the personal computer. Once a company leads a revolution as did Apple back in the 1980's, never, ever does the same corporation lead another revolution again. This is precisely what Steve Jobs did. He led several more business revolutions. Whether it was music, or movie pictures, or Tablet, even the cell phone, if he embraced the technology, he changed it, and by changing it he changed civilization and life on the planet. Just look at the six industries that the book points out that he revolutionized:

* Movies with PIXAR

* Music

* The Phone itself

* Tablet Computing

* Digital Publishing

* Retail Stores

All the time he is being driven by demons, by a past that haunts him, by a father that disavowed him, by business failures including betrayal by his handpicked CEO at Apple who then proceeds to force an unwilling Jobs out of Apple. In spite of the demons, the hardship, the failures, Jobs builds a life, an unbelievable life based on inventiveness, imagination, and sustained innovation or as he states in the book; he built my life around the intersection of science and the humanities. Many others have done this successfully in the last century, in their minds only. Only Jobs was able to bring these thoughts, dreams, and images into a physically reality with the creation of computers, phones, musical machines, and movies that revolutionized how the reader look at things, how people hear them, and feel them.

PIXAR is a case in point. As explained by Isaacson, George Lucas owned PIXAR. A potential divorce settlement forced Lucas to sell off a great deal of his ownership it to Jobs for $10 million, $5 million of which was for capital. Disney was offered the deal first, and walked away without even taking a real look. Jobs recognized the new reality of PIXAR immediately and wrote a check buying it for what amounted to peanuts.

Less than a decade later, Jobs would sell his ownership to Disney for billions of dollars, making perhaps 500 times on his investment to the same guys who passed the first time. This man was not motivated by money (even though he was an excellent businessman), but by creation, that is clear. The active process of invention is what moved him. In the book he says that Apple does no market research, for he creates for people what they want before they even realize what they want. They only realize it when they see it, after he has created it. How neat is that?

CONCLUSION:

In the very beginning of the book in the Table of Contents, Isaacson demonstrates that he has put together a very special book. The author would give a title to each chapter that would be short and to the point, but then he would add a scripted phrase. As examples:

Chapter 1: Childhood: Abandoned and Chosen

Chapter 2: Odd Couple: The Two Steve's

Chapter 3: The Dropout: Turn On, Tune In

The chapter titles demonstrated so much thought and brilliance, and appropriateness for the topic covered that Isaacson demonstrates that he had spent enormous amounts of time covering every base, making sure that he had his subject down pat. In reading this book, the reader learns more than about the life of an extraordinary man, for there are many extraordinary men and women. You have the story of an entire revolution, the last 30 or 40 years of Silicon Valley are covered here. What made America the tech leader of the world, the envy of the earth is covered here? Focusing, and executing, and simply getting things done is covered here.

Perhaps more importantly than anything else, Jobs and this book is a testament to every human being's struggle to become. To fulfill the individual and unique destiny's each person has, regardless of how much time that person is allotted to fulfill them. In the case of Steve Jobs, it was much too short, but then there is still time for the rest of us. Thank you for reading this review, and do please give yourself the chance to read this remarkable book by a remarkable author about a man who gave his all, and then kept coming back to give more, profoundly shaping and reshaping the way humans think and act, and live our lives.

Richard Stoyeck
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 3, 2012 11:12 PM PDT


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