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Double Down: Game Change 2012 by Halperin, Mark, Heilemann, John (2013) Hardcover
Double Down: Game Change 2012 by Halperin, Mark, Heilemann, John (2013) Hardcover
68 used & new from $1.60

5.0 out of 5 stars Stirring Look at the 2012 Campaign, January 6, 2016
This moving narrative on the 2012 Obama-Romney campaign gives readers a superb inside look. The authors examine the President and his colleagues, their personalities, influence, and struggles for power from his taking office in January, 2009, through the 2012 election cycle. Like many, Obama had a tenure punctuated by both accomplishments and flaws. Then we get a solid look at the competing campaigns for the Republican nomination. Mitt Romney was experienced and had lots of money and backers. Yet running in a party that usually nominates its establishment candidate (in 2012, Romney) he struggled to close the sale against flawed or unknown competition (Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, etc.). Was this due to Romney as the 3-M candidate (Mormon, Moderate, from Massachusetts) in an increasingly conservative party? Then we get an excellent inside look at both campaigns after the nomination. The President was media savvy, yet troubled by an improved-but-sluggish economy and some foreign policy clouds. Romney seemed well qualified, but proved a gaffe prone ("the 47% on welfare are for Obama") and lackluster campaigner. He promised to repeal Obamacare, but it was largely based on the Heritage Foundation program installed by Governor Romney in Massachusetts. In the end, the Obama campaign was more savvy at getting it's base to the polls. Of course, with an uneasy peace, no major scandals, and an improved economy, Obama was the more likely victor (British odds makers pegged him a 3-1 favorite). The final result was 51-47% and 332 electoral votes for the President over his stunned and disappointed rival (who felt he'd probably win).

Fans of history, campaign junkies, and anybody with an interest in U.S. politics should read this stellar and nicely readable book. I look forward to their next edition following the 2016 race to succeed Obama.


Insatiable: Porn — A Love Story
Insatiable: Porn — A Love Story
by Asa Akira
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.89
63 used & new from $7.09

4.0 out of 5 stars Readable, Interesting Inside Look, November 29, 2015
This is a surprisingly good book about the adult film industry from one of its most enthusiastic performers. Asa Akira starred in hundreds of porn films, performing in all types of scenes (straight, gay, three-way, anal, double penetration etc.). Neither timid nor embarrassed about her career, Asa admits to sexual addition, exhibitionism, on-screen orgasms, and pride in her craft. From a wealthy Asian-American family, she claims her upbringing was not troubled (despite teen drug use), nor does she see the industry as exploitative of women - a view some may strongly dispute. The author also describes her love life, insecurities, and marriage to a male performer, One of the most interesting (if that's the right term) parts was her letter to a future daughter in which she describes and explains her career choice. Readers also learn a lot about the gonzo and regular films, porn star agents, STD testing, camera angles, the adult video awards, etc. Some may be surprised by the hours of preparation involved in getting ready for a film session - including makeup, posing, and even enemas. Regardless of your view of adult films, this is a very readable and informative book.


Dog Days  (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 4)
Dog Days (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 4)
by Jeff Kinney
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $8.37
750 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Fun Reading, even for us Adults, November 29, 2015
I buy these books for my students and kids and they simply love them. This was the first one that I have read, and I admit that it contained quite a few chuckles, in a nicely readable style. Poor Greg is funny, alienated, withdrawn, hopeful, confused, happy, and a grouch - all in the same pages. His fun, fears, and frustrations match so well with those of his readers (including some adults), that these books have really caught fire. Greg reminds me of a younger Holden Caulfield (Catcher in the Rye) circa 60 years later. A cool and fairly like-able dude, but with some hangups. But the best compliment comes from the youngsters who flock to these books.


Culture Worrier: Selected Columns 1984–2014: Reflections on Race, Politics and Social Change
Culture Worrier: Selected Columns 1984–2014: Reflections on Race, Politics and Social Change
by Clarence Page
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.73
65 used & new from $0.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable, Thought-Provoking, Excellent, September 13, 2015
This superb collection of newspaper columns by Clarence Page deal with race, class, and social change from the 1980's through 2014. Perhaps the best thing about these 170+ columns is their and ability to inspire the reader to think, and to see that things are not always so rigidly black or white. Page writes about such topics as the importance of family, Arab Americans, hypocrisy, street gangs, and other subjects that surround race, class, and social change. A skeptical liberal, Page is not above criticizing the left or praising the right. He has sometimes been accused of being unfair to whites by some and an Uncle Tom by others - often for the same column. Actually, he is highly pragmatic; as he quotes the late William Raspberry, he is more interested in what works than what is left or right. You might not always agree with Page's views, but you should learn something from his thoughtful, reasoned approach. As USA Today said, Page toes no political line. A long-time Columnist for the Chicago Tribune, Page won the 1989 Pulitizer Prize and is a frequent guest on TV's McGlaughlin Group.


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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Narrative of Survival Against the Odds, August 12, 2015
Author Laura Hillenbrand has written a remarkable account of survival by Louis Zamperini (1917-2014) former Olympic runner and Army Air Force officer in World War II. Ms. Hillenbrand begins by describing this troubled young school kid who began to run and soon was setting state records in his home state of California. From there he received a track scholarship at USC, and ran as a member of the 1936 Olympic team that went to Berlin. During World War II, as his B-24 bomber ditched in the Pacific Ocean, Zamperini and two other surviving crew members scrambled aboard a small life raft devoid of provisions. They would struggle to survive many weeks at sea, despite attack by an enemy plane, Pacific Storms, a lack of food and drinking water, plus eager sharks. Finally finding land, their ordeal was just beginning as the two survivors were taken prisoner. From there both Zamperini and his companion endured two years imprisonment in Japan, complemented by beatings, torture, and a starvation-level diet. The author devotes lesser coverage to Zamperini's post-war return to California (where he'd been given up for dead), his post-war struggles, marital strife, and turn to religion and motivational speaking.

This superbly readable narrative arrived in 2010, while Zamperini was still active at age 93. Such a highly-inspiring narrative seems fitting for a man who spent so many years as a motivational speaker. Readers that like survival narratives might also enjoy INTO THIN AIR (By Jonathan Krakauer), ALIVE (By Piers Paul Read) and MIRACLE IN THE ANDES (By Nando Parrado, who also gives motivational speeches).


Fighter Pilots and Air Combat, from the Red Baron to the F-16 Lords of the Sky (Hardback) - Common
Fighter Pilots and Air Combat, from the Red Baron to the F-16 Lords of the Sky (Hardback) - Common
by by Dan Hampton
Edition: Hardcover
38 used & new from $25.02

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, Readable look at Air Combat, July 26, 2015
Author and ex-pilot Dan Hampton makes air combat come alive with this riveting look at fighter pilots from the biplanes of the Great War (1914-1918) to the jets and missiles over Iraq in 2003. Along the way, he examines the technologies, the innovations and innovating pilots (usually the individualistic sort), the weapons, tactics, etc. He also describes the overall military pictures, valuable for most readers and vital for those who are not well-informed. Readers see the differing personalities of individual pilots, many of whom were risk-taking party types and non-conformists - and nearly all of whom had short life expectancies. But the author is at his best when he recreates individual pilots involved in life-or-death dogfights; in these instances his gripping accounts make readers feel as if it is they who are inside the cockpit using every trick they know to avoid incoming fire or missiles while gaining the advantage over their opponents. Hampton gives a lot of focus to the U.S. air efforts, but also includes tales from the air forces of Britain, Germany, France, Russia, North Korean, North Vietnam, Israel, etc. His coverage is somewhat uneven at times, but this barely detracts from this gripping and readable narrative.


Tony Oliva: The Life and Times of a Minnesota Twins Legend
Tony Oliva: The Life and Times of a Minnesota Twins Legend
by Thom Henninger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.25
43 used & new from $14.80

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Readable Biography, June 26, 2015
This revealing biography belongs on the shelf of any true baseball fan. Author Thom Henninger does an excellent job describing Tony Oliva from impoverished farm upbringing in Cuba to one of the game's most feared sluggers. How many fans knew that the remoteness of his native Pinar Del Rio, Cuba meant Tony Oliva (born 1938) never played organized baseball until he was 23 years old? Readers see that after the Bay of Pigs fiasco Fidel Castro clamped down and Tony found himself stranded in the USA, speaking no English, and separated from his parents for what turned out to be nearly a decade. Yet his batting skills took him from the low minors up to the Minnesota Twins after less than three seasons. Once there he was the 1964 Rookie of the Year, then a year later helped lead the Twins to the 1965 Pennant. The author also describes the Twins near misses in 1967, 1969, and 1970, star teammates like Harmon Killebrew, Jim Kaat and Rod Carew, plus the knee problems that curtailed his performance after 1971. I enjoyed the many quotes from both Oliva's teammates and opposing hurlers, plus the author's analysis of why Tony Oliva belongs in the Hall Of Fame.

As a young White Sox fan I often watched on TV as Oliva greeted our pitchers with searing drives to the outfield fences. Then I feared him as dangerous opposition; now he seems like a very decent human being:


Serpico
Serpico
by Peter Maas
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
26 used & new from $0.05

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, Readable Look at a brave man, May 24, 2015
This review is from: Serpico (Mass Market Paperback)
In this dated but very readable book, author Peter Mass examines NY City police officer Frank Serpico (born 1936) and his oft-frustrating efforts to uncover widespread corruption within the ranks. Serpico was something of a different sort within the ranks, an idealistic cop from 1959-1972 who lived in Greenwich Village, loved ballet and opera, and refused to go on the take - even for the supposedly harmless graft of gambling. Serpico was easily frustrated by the widespread dishonesty he saw around him within the department in the late 1960's, and even more so by refusal of higher ups to take a stand for honest policing. Often an outcast at his precinct and within the department as a whole, his was at times a lonely, difficult existence. When he was shot and badly wounded by a heroin dealer during an undercover action in 1971, some wondered if his partners held back at a crucial moment due to Serpico's anti-corruption stances. The book does a great job of detailing Serpico's anti-corruption activities, but I might have liked more detaiol about being a plainclothes NY City cop in the 1960's-1970's.

Retiring from the force in 1972 with a disability pension, Serpico has lived in Europe and the USA, and at this writing still speaks out against bad policing.


Sweet Lou: Lou Piniella a Life in Baseball
Sweet Lou: Lou Piniella a Life in Baseball
by Melissa Isaacson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.95
63 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward, Readable Biography, May 16, 2015
This straightforward, very readable biography looks at the career of one of baseball's most passionate players and managers. Lou Piniella was never quite a star, but his passion and intense play made him a fan favorite. We read about it here, including his taking bats to water coolers when things didn't go right. Then it was on to managing in Cincinnati (winning the upset 1990 World Series), Seattle, Tampa Bay, and the Cubs. Piniella has a temper, but he also has a passion for the game that he likes to see in his coaches and players. I felt the author focused a bit too much on one year but overall painted a picture of a man that clearly loves the game and belongs in it.


The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville (Vintage Civil War Library)
The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville (Vintage Civil War Library)
by Shelby Foote
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.65
272 used & new from $0.77

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing, Detailed, Readable Classic, April 20, 2015
Historian Shelby Foote (1916-2005) has provided us with a superbly in-depth and readable look at the early part of the Civil War. Drawing from a wealth of sources, Foote's narrative proceeds in voluminous and engrossing detail. He begins with a lengthy examination of the skills, capabilities, and personalities of the two national leaders, Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. He then moves on to explain the conflict's beginnings, early battles, and the challenges that faced both the North and the South. Readers feel almost as if they are there on the scene as the Blue and the Gray strategize, plan, march, and then head into battle, too often with nightmarish results, and commonly punctuated by blunders and missed opportunities. In flowing, readable prose Foote provides a broad and descriptive picture of individuals, battles and campaigns. This horrid conflict was fought by many men of varying backgrounds and inclinations, men that possessed admirable valor but often were poorly commanded. All is captured in this lengthy first volume. Readers should understand that this lengthy volume (like its later two companions) is a pleasurable but time-consuming read.

Like many, I never heard of the author before he appeared in the Ken Burns series (The Civil War). He gained much fame from that miniseries, but proved his mettle in these stellar pages written decades earlier.


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