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From the Inside Out: Harrowing Escapes from the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center
From the Inside Out: Harrowing Escapes from the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center
by Erik O. Ronningen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.11
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5.0 out of 5 stars I lost a nights sleep over it because It is that good. I was lucky that it is a relatively ..., July 29, 2014
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I could not put this book down to save my life. I lost a nights sleep over it because It is that good. I was lucky that it is a relatively short book because I would not have stopped under any condition. Eric Ronningen does an amazing job of what happened from an insiders perspective of the 911 attack. His timeline tries to make sense of something that cannot be done. Eric focuses on his coworkers and their stories of trying to meet both the demand of working an terrorist incident and trying to escape with one's life. Eric's story is about the ordinary working people of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the heroism that people have within themselves during times of crisis. It is an enjoyable read written in an easygoing style. Ronningen puts together a fascinating tale without placing his subjects on pedestals, which makes "From the Inside Out" that much more enjoyable.

Very Highly Recommended

Where Did You Sleep Last Night?: A Personal History
Where Did You Sleep Last Night?: A Personal History
by Danzy Senna
Edition: Hardcover
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very brooding, February 7, 2010
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Danzy Senna has written a very dark and brooding book about the search for her family roots. Senna is the daughter of Boston blue bloods and poor southern blacks. As an accomplished writer, she could have written a book about her Boston family, which forms a who's who of Boston. Instead she travels to the South to look for the family she knows nothing about and at the same time learn about her estranged father.

The reader will learn about her views of her father, which are complicated in the least. Senna writes about the frustration of dealing with her father. He has a low opinion of white people, yet only dates white women. She writes about his reminding her about her heritage, but points out she will only be held down because of her heritage as he has blamed his own failures. In many ways he is a stereotype bum, and yet he is very educated and an author of some repute and is considered a success to his Southern family because he "got out".

Senna travels South to meet distant family, which some were glad and other distant. She uncovers a mystery to who her father's father was and this part of the story is moved along toward its own conclusion. She invites her father along and he agrees to go for a portion of the trip if she pays his way and hit her up for money when she takes him to the airport when he leaves for home.

The story is very moving and Senna does find some answers, but this is not what I would describe as a "happy" ending because she seems left with more questions. She seems to not to know her place in the world due to her upbringing and relationship with her father, which is odd because she has her own family and has become a writer with her own rising reputation. The only reason I do not give this a five start reading is something is missing from the book, yet I can't put my finger on it. Highly Recommended.

Walking Through Walls: A Memoir
Walking Through Walls: A Memoir
by Philip Rand Smith
Edition: Hardcover
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5.0 out of 5 stars How to Deal With a Psychic Dad, September 7, 2009
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Think about all of the idiosyncrasies of your parents and the stories you have told friends about growing up over the years. Think about all of the strange things your parents did to torture you and how they ruined your life at that moment. Put them into a book. Now make your father a psychic and you have a truly interesting account of a memoir. "Walking Through Walls" is a pleasurable read that balances the humor and exasperation of growing up in any household let alone one with a psychic.

Philip Smith actually writes with two subplots in the memoir. First is his fathers growing physic ability, second is his dealing with his father's psychic abilities. You find out he grew up in Miami with interior decorators to the rich and his family was doing well, then his dad start to become physic. the rest of the story unfolds with the usual type of fare about seances, healing, and dealing with groupies. You find out Smith's dad is not perfect and makes mistakes with the women in his life. Something you wouldn't expect from a psychic.

Smith also writes about trying to find his identity and come from behind his father's shadow. His father as all fathers worth their salt tries to guide Philip, but he refuses as all sons tend to do. The difference here is that the father is psychic and knows what his son is up to at the time. there are truly funny anecdotes about talks of sex between the two.

"Walking Through Walls" Starts off sounding exasperated and ends at genuine admiration for Smith's Father. Highly Recommended.

High: Confessions of an International Drug Smuggler
High: Confessions of an International Drug Smuggler
by Brian O'Dea
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.30
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4.0 out of 5 stars Reads Like Miami Vice, August 20, 2009
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Brian O'Dea's book "high" reads like an episode of Miami Vice. O'Dea's story is about running marijuana into the United States from various points in the world. His tales are great reading and fun considering the subject matter. It isn't really about glory, but the book reads more like old war stories told among buddies.

The book is basically broken into two sections. The story of the drug running and tidbits from prison. O'Dea writes about the life he lived bringing in marijuana and the ultimate downfall. Oddly, it is long after he is done dealing that he is finally caught. The prison sections are little vignettes of living in lockup minus the violence.

O'Dea writes about double crosses and associates out of control, but he doesn't write about any violence. Maybe there was none with his business or maybe he kept it edited out for his reasons. Because of this the book is light to read with little downer material. The prison material is full of why me and I was treated too harshly, which is expected. O'Dea doesn't shy away from the fact he hates prison and it was hard on him; he doesn't preach on the evils of his ways which is refreshing.

This is a light read and is an enjoyable read. It has a fine bunch of characters including southern sheriffs and Colombian drug lords. It is not full of gruesome details or in depth murders, which makes the book both light and refreshing from the normal fare. Recommended.

The Night of the Gun: A reporter investigates the darkest story of his life. His own.
The Night of the Gun: A reporter investigates the darkest story of his life. His own.
by David Carr
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.33
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Walk Through The long Tea Time of The Soul, May 30, 2009
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Have you ever been with a group of friends and you remember a story one way and everyone else remembers it differently than you? That is the basis of "Night of the Gun". David Carr spent a great deal of his life strung out on drugs and this is his story. It starts as him and a friend remembering a different version of the same story involving Carr waving a gun. Carr decides to ask a different friend about the incident and the second friend confirms the story of the first. Carr then decides to interview people from his past to see what everyone remembers. His theory is that you remember only what you can tolerate.

"Night of the Gun" is David Carr's personal walk through Hell. A talented writer who was caught up into drugs that almost destroyed his life. He interviews "friends" from the past to help him put his personal history together. He is frank about not being a nice man. He lied , cheated, hurt his loved ones and smacked around his wife while doped up. Not everyone is glad to see him or talk to him, which gives the tale true realism. Carr has picked episodes from his past that he barely remembers or not at all and compares what he was like at the time and what his friends were like at the time.

This is not your typical I hit bottom, got cleaned up and look how well I am doing now story. The reader will find this is not an easy life and not everyone makes it back. The majority of survivors are badly damaged and do not return to "normalcy". They manage or don't depending on the person. Carr had a few breaks because he had talent as a writer and someone lent a hand hoping he would clean up. He even had respect from a former dealer to him that saw he was smart and had potential. That was Carr's one saving grace, others saw potential in him.

The last third of the book is his return to civilization. It was not easy and he writes about his recovery and later stumble in great detail. He writes about a family member sticking with him through the worst and another helping him when he was putting his life back together. He writes about his daughters and how well they turned out considering how they started their life born to addicted parents.

"Night of the Gun" is a harrowing tale. It is told honestly and yet is not self flagellating. It is neither smug nor self congratulatory. What it is is one great read you will not want to put down. Highly Recommended.

Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don't Give Away More Money
Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don't Give Away More Money
by Christian Smith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.41
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Textbook, March 15, 2009
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"Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Give Away More Money" is a bit misnamed. It should be named why don't American Christians give away more money to their churches. This is the focus of the book and it is very well done. "Passing the Plate" is a sociological study on American Christians and their donating to church habits. This should be kept in mind when reading the book. It is excellent, but not an easy read.

The authors delve into a messy topic because it examines two very private topics in American life, Religion and money. The authors note that most churches look for 10% of post tax money to be donated by congregants as the "tithing" requirement, but that most American Christians fall far short of this. The authors do note that there is money going to other places for donations, but they do not focus on this aspect for this book.

If a group of people are asked why don't people donate more, most of the response would be covered in the book. The beauty here is that there is no one answer and some of them seem even contradictory. The book also does not just examine congregants, but also the failure of seminary to adequately address the business aspect of running a church. The Preachers of the various denominations acknowledge that many of them are uncomfortable bringing money into the discussion with their congregants. It is a conundrum because they cannot raise enough funds for the church and they cannot talk to the faithful without raising their ire.

"Passing the Plate does give ideas of how to approach the fund raising and they also point out the various failures of their own ideas by using spiritual leaders own words. This book shows many reasons why American Christians do not give and many ways to approach the financial methods of raising the needed revenue. The book points out there is no one reason and no one answer and that is the beauty of the book.

My only quibble with the book is that they do not delve deeply enough. It is not a fair criticism, but it is apt. An example is when the book mentions on Catholic's answer I gave enough during the children's school years. The book does not look into "when is enough enough" The answer is it is never enough and never ends. But by not examining this, I think the book misses an important aspect of giving.

"Passing the Plate" is very good, although not an easy read. If you have an interest in this type of writing, it should not be missed. Highly recommended.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 6, 2010 3:59 PM PDT

My Incredibly Wonderful, Miserable Life: An Anti-Memoir
My Incredibly Wonderful, Miserable Life: An Anti-Memoir
by Adam Nimoy
Edition: Hardcover
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book is a Scream, March 15, 2009
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Adam Nimoy has written a hysterically funny book. He calls it an anti-memoir and that is as good a name as I can figure. Nimoy tells you his life growing up without really focusing on it at all. His style is in vignettes on small personal areas. You find out he is a drug addict that has basically ruined his life and he has put it back together again through the twelve step program. You find out he is divorced with children not handling it well and children tend not to with these things. He writes about a strained relationship with his father, who was absentee much of the time. Yet, in all of this melancholy, the book is truly very funny. Nimoy has a great sense of humor and ridiculousness.

An example is one of his fathers costars tried to put the moves on a young Adam and his father tried to help and Adam drops the ball from a lack of savvy. Nimoy writes about his daughter trying to kill a conversation with a pretty woman after his divorce.

He starts his story after his divorce and not when he was a child. He writes about his childhood off and on without lots of details, but enough to let you know the story. There are no gory details of truly explicit stories that tend to be in these kinds of memoirs. You get the total story, although he talks around the subjects and not through them. Nimoy comes across as brutally honest about his background and his mistakes. He talks about his addiction allot, which makes sense to me because my friends that have been through this talk about it all of the time. You get the sense that it never ends and is always a part of his life even when he is clean.

The one truly heartrending portion is his dealing with a teenage daughter trying drugs after his addiction.

Nimoy also writes about his father in the roundabout style and it works. He writes about the icon and yet as a distant father. At the same time, he acknowledges that his father tried to help him in the craft and they have maintained a relationship.

If the book wasn't written by the son of a famous father, it would still be very good. He writes about families and relationships in general. His just happens to be famous. He never dwells upon this aspect. In many ways they are just like everyone else.

"My Incredibly Wonderful, Miserable Life" is a great read and should not be missed. The blurb on Shatner should not be missed. Highly recommended.

by Greg Bear
Edition: Hardcover
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, November 11, 2008
This review is from: Quantico (Hardcover)
Take the paranoia of our times and add high tech science and you have "Quantico". Greg Bear has written a very good book about near future terrorism. He deftly creates a very depressing scene in the near future where the heroes are never in the news and the truly bad guys stay below the radar.

The book starts out as your typical FBI trying to bring in the latest home grown terrorist and soon explodes into a world spanning manhunt to prevent the greatest terror attack the world has seen. It has everything, spies terror and fanatics.

In many ways this is a great Ludlum book with science added. Bear has given a glimpse into the underground world of fanaticism and those charged with trying to stop it. He draws a disturbing picture of the United States losing its grip on the war on terror and one set of American fanatics selling chemical weapons to a Mid-Eastern group of fanatics to kill their long time traditional enemy.

My only complaint is that the end is a bit trite, however, I would bet most of the time true terror endings are trite in the real world. This is a fast paced book and is a good read. Be prepared because it is not a happy book and it does not offer a great hope for the future. Highly recommended.

The Talent Powered Organization: Strategies for Globalization, Talent Management and High Performance
The Talent Powered Organization: Strategies for Globalization, Talent Management and High Performance
by Peter Cheese
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $29.96
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3.0 out of 5 stars Reads Like Textbook, August 27, 2008
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"The Talent Powered Organization" reads like a textbook. This does not mean it is a bad book, it is not. It does mean that it is not an easy book to read and it will take time to understand.

The book spends time on various subjects such as developing talent and performance measures and goes into quite a bit of detail on the psychology of work. It is interesting to note their solutions is about moving bully bosses out of the office and rewarding operation supervisors. I am still waiting for that to happen at my job!

My problem with this book is that it is like all of the others out there on this subject, but without the humor that some of them have. This is not bad, but does make the reading more difficult. Also, their solutions may work in an ideal world, but most offices bet on the bottom line and readily ignore their suggestions. For the record, I tend to agree with their solutions, but I also realize they will not happen anytime soon.

I will keep "The Talent Powered Organization" in my personal library, but do not expect to use it much.

Not bad, but not great either.

Facing Athens: Encounters with the Modern City
Facing Athens: Encounters with the Modern City
by George Sarrinikolaou
Edition: Hardcover
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intensely Personal, August 27, 2008
George Sarrinikolaou has written a wonderful memoir of his trip to Athens. Sarrinikolaou was raised in Athens and returns looking for the home he remembered as a child only to find his homeland different. It is this blunt look at a changed Athens struggling to find its way in the world. Sarrinikolaou covers such topics as racism of different ethnics other than Greeks and the nouveau riche developing in the city.

One of the most revealing sections talks about owning a car in a city clogged with traffic. Every Athenian hates the traffic, but they all want a car for the "freedom" they represent. It is this type of dichotomy the book represents.

Sarrinikolaou writes with both anger and bitter sadness about the city of his childhood. He condemns, but it is also obvious he loves Athens. Much like those of us that moved away only to return later and remark, "I thought it was larger".

The beauty of this book is that it is written in stark black and white. Sarrinikolaou calls it like he sees it and it is bleak.

"Facing Athens" is a very personal account and it is bittersweet, but should not be missed. Highly recommended.

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