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Reviews Written by
C. Baker "cbaker" (Washington, DC)

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Forty Eighth Virginia Infantry
Forty Eighth Virginia Infantry
by John D. Chapla
Edition: Hardcover
2 used & new from CDN$ 190.82

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Regimental History, Feb. 1 2004
This is a well-organized and well-written history of the 48th Virginia Infantry which consisted primarily of recruits from Southwest Virginia and served in the Army of Northern Virginia during the Civil War. The author does a good job chronologically detailing the daily movements and engagements of the 48th Virginia Infantry and is highly fascinating for someone whose ancestor served in the 48th.
If all The Virginia Regimental Histories Series are as well done I would highly recommend them all.
The only drawback to the book is it tells us what the 48th did in major engagements but does detail the major battles from a broader perspective nor place them into the context of the larger Confederate war effort. Minor skirmishes often are described just like the Battle of Gettysburg and the other large engagements the 48th fought in. As a result, the reader needs to be highly knowledgeable about the Civil War and already have this context in place to fully appreciate the events in which this Infantry were engaged. Of course providing the larger context is not the purpose of the book and would be much longer had it done so. Nevertheless, a reader not well versed in Civil War history will not fully appreciate the significance of the battles and events described.

Past Master
Past Master
by R. A. Lafferty
Edition: Paperback
5 used & new from CDN$ 39.93

1.0 out of 5 stars Skip it., Jan. 25 2004
This review is from: Past Master (Paperback)
Even though this book stands on its own, if one has not read Thomas Moore's Utopia, I suspect they would be lost. The book is interesting, but not very entertaining. There is no character development, no story development, just a hodgepodge of ideas.
I can't believe this was nominated for a Hugo.

Bert Sugar on Boxing: The Best of the Sport's Most Notable Writer
Bert Sugar on Boxing: The Best of the Sport's Most Notable Writer
by Bert Randolph Sugar
Edition: Hardcover
18 used & new from CDN$ 3.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Good Collection of Boxing Articles, Jan. 6 2004
This is a solid collection of articles on boxing covering boxing from many angles-mini-biographies of great boxing legends, the great fights, and social commentary. I enjoyed the book but it is lacking in a couple of areas. First, it would have been nice to see a fresh new piece by Sugar on the state of boxing today. Second, there really seemed like there should be even more. He covers a lot of great fights but there are a lot of great fights missing. Finally, I was disappointed that there didn't seem to be a lot of "inside " information in the articles, especially the ones on the great fights. It's a nice, if not great, collection of work.

Rabbit at Rest
Rabbit at Rest
by John Updike
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.72
45 used & new from CDN$ 0.02

3.0 out of 5 stars So Long Rabbit, Dec 30 2003
This review is from: Rabbit at Rest (Paperback)
I hate to be a curmudgeon when it comes to Pulitzer Prize winners and great writers like John Updike, but this final installment featuring Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom has flaws that took away my enjoyment of the book.
Clearly Updike uses the characters frequently as mouthpieces to expound on society. Unfortunately, a lot of times it seems very contrived, especially when coming from characters other than Harry.
The story itself is interesting enough, but meanders and is too long. He could have written the same story in half the number of pages.
The best part about the book is the juxtaposition of Harry's self-righteous anger at his son's addiction-when he himself is addict to food and has little, if any, will power to resist his own temptations.
Overall, a qualified thumbs up.

For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs
For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs
by Robert A. Heinlein
Edition: Hardcover
28 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars For Heinlein Fans, Dec 30 2003
Spider Robinson's introduction pretty much says it all about this lost novel of Robert Heinlein's. It's not really a completed novel, per se, and clearly lays out a lot of the ideas Heinlein later pursued in other novels and short stories.
The publication of this work was clearly for people already very familiar with Heinlein's writing. I would highly recommend that those who have not read Heinlein NOT start with this novel.
Of course, all Heinlein fans will want to check it out to see the embryo of his later works.

Barry Sanders Now You See Him: His Story in His Own Words
Barry Sanders Now You See Him: His Story in His Own Words
by Barry Sanders
Edition: Hardcover
22 used & new from CDN$ 1.76

4.0 out of 5 stars Now You See Him..., Dec 30 2003
Although a bit pricey, mostly because it's produced on slick paper and contains a bonus DVD, this is a well-written "autobiography" that gives one insight into Barry Sanders. From his parents, to growing up, high school, and his college and pro careers, Barry takes us through some of this thoughts and feelings through each stage of his life. What this book could have used more of is some insight on what it is really like to play in the NFL and some of the seamier sides he alludes to but never provides details of. And of course, he finally answers the question all football fans have been asking since his retirement-why?
The DVD is not very good, by the way. It's a pretty boring collage of famous runs and career achievements. They could have done much more with it.

Tramp Royale
Tramp Royale
by Robert Heinlein
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
14 used & new from CDN$ 6.70

4.0 out of 5 stars For Robert Heinlein Fans, Nov. 30 2003
This out-of-date travelogue, written in the 1950's by one of the most decorated science fiction writers and published posthumously, was clearly published for the ready market of Robert Heinlein fans thirsty for anything written by the Grand Master.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and all Heinlein fans will too. His wit, pragmatism, and personality shine throughout the book-even when covering the more mundane subjects such as the quality of hotels to the red tape involved in traveling. I especially enjoyed getting a glimpse of his wife's personality as well. They make for some of the more humorous vignettes in this work.
The last chapter is probably the best where Heinlein takes off his gloves, so to speak, and allows himself to become a political pundit and talks about what he learned on his trip. This, for me, was the most interesting part of the book. Nothing there will surprise Heinlein's fans gleaning his political/social viewpoint in his novels, but it was fascinating nonetheless.
This book frankly is not for a general audience. I can't imagine that anyone not a fan of and familiar with Heinlein's works would find this book particularly interesting.
It's a must read for Heinlein fans. But of course, everything he wrote is a must read for his fans.

A Scientific Romance: A Novel
A Scientific Romance: A Novel
by Ronald Wright
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.60
15 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Sloppy Plot Devices, Nov. 15 2003
This is an interesting concept novel used to drive home a point about technology and scientific hubris run rampant that eventually chokes our planet and all but destroys the human race.
In 1999 David Lambert, really a rather wandering soul, is a museum curator who has lost the love of his life to Mad Cow disease and his best friend in a falling out over a nasty love triangle involving the same woman. Unbelievably a letter falls into his hands that purports to be from H.G. Wells informing the reader of the return of the time machine to London-a fiction that turns out not to be fiction. So off he goes on his jaunt into the future.
This is a poor attempt at using the time travel concept as a plot device. There are just way too many coincidences and way too many convenient plot devices to move the story along. And it drags on unrelentlessly in the middle with some very tedious slogging as the author gets carried away over describing the future he finds.
At times, the novel is very good and it does have some merit. But frankly, the plot devices used, especially in the end, undermine the novel.

Whatever You Say I Am: The Life and Times of Eminem
Whatever You Say I Am: The Life and Times of Eminem
by Anthony Bozza
Edition: Hardcover
28 used & new from CDN$ 0.06

4.0 out of 5 stars Eminem in Context, Nov. 9 2003
If you're looking for a light pop culture, tabloid style biography of Eminem-this is not the book for you.
Instead we have a well laid-out mini-biography of Eminem that places him within the context of American society and current popular culture. It also serves to put Eminem in context within hip-hop history and culture, discussing racial themes and how Eminem has managed to succeed in a predominately black arena, both because of and despite his race.
There are a few key drawbacks, though. First, the book is clearly pro-Eminem. I certainly did not want to read a lot of Eminem bashing, being a fan. But the lack of any real criticism is telling-especially given the controversy surrounding him. Second, occasionally I think the author stretches logic a bit with some of the parallels he draws between the rise and success of Eminem within the context of American culture at large. Finally, the author relies a great deal on the commentary of music critics. It would have been nice to see a broader array of views outside the music industry than is offered here.
Nevertheless, this book does succeed as a mini-biography of Eminem and hip-hop history, so for those interested , I would recommend the book.

The Wedding
The Wedding
by Nicholas Sparks
Edition: Hardcover
113 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Boring, Oct. 19 2003
This review is from: The Wedding (Hardcover)
At the risk of getting a gazillion negative votes for this review-I found this latest work by Sparks to be boring and average at best. The first two-thirds of the book are especially dull. The last third is more worthwhile, if you make it that far, where some humor and lightheartedness makes the story mildly interesting.
The story itself is about a middle-age couple where the spark seems to be out of the marriage because the husband is rather dull and inattentive. With the kids out of the house the marriage has become routine. As Wilson, the husband, realizes his faults he attempts to make amends and reenergize his marriage. He uses his daughter's upcoming wedding (thus the title of the book) as a catalyst to make amends for failings. The real catch for Sparks fans is that Wilson is married to the daughter of Noah and Allie, the couple from The Notebook. Noah plays a peripheral but important part in the novel.
The Notebook, Message in a Bottle, and A Walk to Remember are vintage Sparks and highly recommended. His last several novels, to this reader, have lacked the easy pacing and evocative prose that made these three novels top notch stories.

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