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David E. Levine (Peekskill , NY USA)
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Alternate Gettysburgs
Alternate Gettysburgs
by Brian Thomsen
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
27 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting collection of short stories, Feb. 23 2002
This book of short stories explores Gettysburg from a fictional standpoint. For example, one story asks "what would have happened if Longstreet called off Picket's charge and then, sensing an opportunity, Union General Sedgewick mounted an attack?" The stories range from total flights of fancy to more subtle alternate outcomes. Interestingly, not all altenative outcomes are of a Confederate victory. There are some stories that examine what would have happened if the Union victory had been more decisive, i.e., if Meade had pursued the retreating Lee and destroyed Lee's army.
Two stories look at Lincoln's Gettysburg address. One of the stories looks at what would have been the implications if Lincoln had given a very different speech than the one he actually delivered and the other looks at the speech from the perspective of a Union victory so decisive that the war was virtualy ended.
There are a couple of futuristic stories. One takes place in the future in a South that is separate from the United States and has draconian racial codes. In this story a boxing bout takes place between a black fighter and a white one. The other futuristic story is about battle simulators, who, through incredibly realistic technology, do virtual recreations. The book concludes with an appendix of several essays. All in all, though somewaht uneven, this is an interesting book for Civil War enthusiasts

Greatest Hits
Greatest Hits
Price: CDN$ 9.64
32 used & new from CDN$ 3.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe the greatest voice of them all, Feb. 20 2002
This review is from: Greatest Hits (Audio CD)
Jay Black has a voice of operatic stature which he applies to popular music. In this collection of ten songs, all feature Jay Balck except for "She Cried," the group's first hit, which had a lead singer named Jay Trainor. "She Cried" is a haunting song which slips into a minor mode. Trainor's voice was also exceptional, a bit grittier than Jay Black's. After the group's first hit, they didn't do well and Jay Trainor quit. They needed a new "Jay" so they found Dennis Black who became "Jay." They then hit it to the big time with "Only in America."
This cd has most of their essential hits but notably missing is "Some Enchanted Evening." This song is from "South Pacific" and Jay's operatic rendition was by far the biggest selling version ever recorded. The most operatic sounding song in the collection is "Cara Mia." I recently heard Jay perform this on a television special. He is in his 60s and he can still hit the notes. Years ago, my wife, a few friends and I saw Jay in oncert. We managed to clue him in that it was my wife's birthday. He called her name and asked where she was sitting. She identified herself and then, jay dedicated "Cara Mia" to her. That was a great moment. Anyway, despite the fact he "Some Enchanted Evening" is missing, at the budget price, I highly recommend this cd.

Joy Luck Club
Joy Luck Club
by Amy Tan
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
249 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, Feb. 18 2002
I had never read anything by Amy Tan and I wondered whether her popularity was based on our society's interest in diversity or whether she is the "real deal." I had seen this book listed on a suggested reading list for high school students, so I decided that this was the Amy Tan book I would initially read. After just the first few pages, my qestion was answered ... this book is destined to go down as a 20th century classic. This is a wonderful book on many different levels. It is a collection of interconnected vignettes of four women from China who, during hard times, formed he "Joy Luck Club," for joy and the luck they needed to get through those times. The four ended up in San Francisco and the club continued, as they would get together monthly. One member died and her daughter took her place in the club. At her first meeting, she discovers a secret, that her recently deceased mother left behind children in China, twin girls. The mother had been fleeing the Japanese during WWII and she had to leave her baby daughters behind. The group presented a ticket to China for June (the club's newest member) to reunite with her recently discovered half sisters.
This book, on one level, is about Chinese culture and values. On another level, it is about the more univeral topic of the relationship between mothers and daughters, since, in addition to June, the other three mothers also had daughters. On yet another level, it is about the immigrant experience and how the values of the children of immigrants change and also, how there are nontheless, ties that bind. It is as true of the Jewish immigrant experience a few generations ago as it is about the experiences of the families depicted in this book. The interconnected stories are compelling and Tan's writing is flawless. Many bestselling novels are successful because of the appeal to the pop culture of the time. A minute fraction of bestsellers are successful because they are works of great literature. This wonderful novel is in the latter category.

Choosing the Right College: The Whole Truth about Americas Top Schools
Choosing the Right College: The Whole Truth about Americas Top Schools
by Intercollegiate Studies Institute
Edition: Paperback
20 used & new from CDN$ 5.67

4.0 out of 5 stars Good but incomplete, Feb. 10 2002
I like this book for the type of informtion it gives on colleges, such as the political atmosphere and the type of curriculum. Many schools have eliminated core requirements and indeed, some have actually added politically chareged courses as required while eliminating traditional, time tested courses in Western Civilization. The analyses are useful and are very detailed. This is not a quick glimpse into the schools covered, but rather, a detailed description. I graduated from Vassar College years ago and had the impression that it was a bastion of political correctness. The profile in this book bears this out. This guide is truly unique and useful.
I have a major problem with this guide, however. There are many colleges I wanted to read about but they were not included in the book. For example Binghmapton University is covered but none of the other schools in the SUNY system are. There was nothing about several goog schools in Pennsylvania such as Franklin and Marshall, Dickinson, Bucknell, Lehigh, Gettysburg, etc. Ohio State University is covered well but there is nohing on other major schools in Ohio's state system such as Ohio University and Miami University (or for that matter, Universitey of Miami in Florida). The book is good, as far as it goes, but many, if not most of the colleges I was interested in reading about are not profiled.

The Educated Child: A Parents Guide From Preschool Through Eighth Grade
The Educated Child: A Parents Guide From Preschool Through Eighth Grade
by William J. Bennett
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.30
71 used & new from CDN$ 0.31

5.0 out of 5 stars Great guide for parents, Feb. 7 2002
As a member of a public school board of education, one thing I look for is parental involvement. I like to see large crowds at school board meetings. This book is a valuable guide for parents of children up to 8th grade. Bennett stresses parental involvement. Parents should get to know their childrens' teachers and inquire about the content of the curriculum. Much of the book sets forth what children should learn in each subject area in each grade level. I found the chapter on social studies particularly interesting because that is the subject area where "multiculturalism" and revisionism can most water down the curriculum. Clearly, we should not white wash warts in our past, but we should teach history in a positive manner, while recognizing that no culture, including ours, has a perfect past. We should teach our commonality as citizens without over empahsizing our differences. Parents should know what is being taught in schools and, where children are not being taught what children should know, the parents should be active in correcting the matter.
Bennett points out that the home, as well as the school, should be a center of learning. He gives examples of activities that parents can do with children to increase their learning. He also discusses dealing with difficulties that may arise in schools, such as disciplinary problems, etc. This book also discusses innovative and controversial issues such as charter schools, home schooling, how religion should be addressed in our schools, etc. I highly recommend this book and hope that it will spur parents on to close involvemet with their children's education.

Charter Schools: A Reference Handbook
Charter Schools: A Reference Handbook
by Danny Weil
Edition: Library Binding
10 used & new from CDN$ 2.06

5.0 out of 5 stars Sets forth the issues, Feb. 3 2002
Defining just what constitutes a charter school is a daunting task. There are so many variables. A charter school is basically a school that receives a charter or contract which is granted by a public agency to a group, such as parents, teachers, agencies, businesses etc. which wish to create an alternative to public schools within the public school system. However, state laws differ, thereby creating many variables. Some laws allow the state to grant a charter. Other states allow the local school district to grant the charter. State laws also differ as to who may propose the charter school or even allow any of several bodies to grant the charter. Laws differ as to whether such schools must adhere to state standards or may be exempt from them. Laws also differ as to the degree which they may be self governed and the extent to which they are accountable to local school boards. In other words, differing state laws have created several models as to what constitutes a charter school.
As a member of my local board of education, I am interested in the issues surrounding innovative proposals for public education. There are strong arguments both for and against the concept of charter schools and this book sets them forth. On the one hand, such schools are said to be more accountable and provide alternative educations designed for the constituency it serves. Arguments against are that such schools drain funds from public schools and take away the common factors that unite us as citizens from the common education provided. The author does a good job in settting forth the arguments both pro and con. He also sets forth the issues regarding the position of education labor unions on the subject.
The concept of charter schools is new so there will be much data to be gathered over the upcoming years as to the success of charter schools. The movement is likely to continue to grow and as it does so, this book may, in some ways, become dated as new information becomes available. Meanwhile, this book does a good job of explaining what charter schools are and laying out the issues which surround the movement towards these schools.

The Oldest Rookie: Big-League Dreams from a Small-Town Guy
The Oldest Rookie: Big-League Dreams from a Small-Town Guy
by Jim Morris
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 46.55
38 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational, Feb. 2 2002
This book is only superficially about baseball. In fact, Jim Morris' autobiography is an inspirational story about sticking it out and becoming all you can be. Morris' minor league baseball career was cut short due to injury. However, he had other trials such as a marriage he had to work on and grinding out a living as he completed college, becoming a teacher and coach. If he had never had another opportunity to play professional baseball, his story would have been an inspiration as he became an excellent science teacher and wonderful coach. His teaching and coaching was leading to a fulfilling and productive career.
Of course, as the title of this book implies, he went beyond teaching to again get an opportunity in baseball. And, based on the title of the book, I am giving nothing away by stating that he does indeed make it to the major leagues. With two children in school, I can categorically state that Jim Morris is the type of person I want teaching them. I don't know if he will go back into teaching but it is clear he is as talented in motivating his students as he is as an athlete. I highly recommend this book.

The Oldest Rookie: Big-League Dreams from a Small-Town Guy
The Oldest Rookie: Big-League Dreams from a Small-Town Guy
by Jim Morris
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 46.55
38 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational, Feb. 2 2002
This book is only superficially about baseball. In fact, Jim Morris' autobiography is an inspirational story about sticking it out and becoming all you can be. Morris' minor league baseball career was cut short due to injury. However, he had other trials such as a marriage he had to work on and grinding out a living as he completed college, becoming a teacher and coach. If he had never had another opportunity to play professional baseball, his story would have been an inspiration as he became an excellent science teacher and wonderful coach. His teaching and coaching was leading to a fulfilling and productive career.
Of course, as the title of this book implies, he went beyond teaching to again get an opportunity in baseball. And, based on the title of the book, I am giving nothing away by stating that he does indeed make it to the major leagues. With two children in school, I can categorically state that Jim Morris is the type of person I want teaching them. I don't know if he will go back into teaching but it is clear he is as talented in motivating his students as he is as an athlete. I highly recommend this book.

Theodore Roosevelt: The American Presidents Series: The 26th President, 1901-1909
Theodore Roosevelt: The American Presidents Series: The 26th President, 1901-1909
by Louis Auchincloss
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.50
30 used & new from CDN$ 2.65

5.0 out of 5 stars Great short overview of TR, Jan. 31 2002
Like Auchincloss' earlier short biography of Woodrow Wilson, this book gives a good overview of the character and personality of its subject. A lot of ground is covered in less than 150 pages. Certainly there are more in depth biographies of Roosevelt, such as "Theodore Rex") which was published at about the same time this was) and the earlier biography "TR: The Last Romantic." This book will appeal to the reader who wishes to get to know TR without having to plough through a legnthy tome.
What Auchincloss does well is to get the reader to know the subject in relatively few words. Obviously, historical events cannot be covered in exacting detail but, I got the feeling that I understood the personality of Roosevelt as he lived through these events. Roosevelt was a strong supporter of a strong military and, indeed, he left his post as Assistant Secretary of the Navy in order to form the Rough Riders. I couldn't help but to chuckle as Auchincloss describes how he formed this group from, on the one hand, western ranchers and cowhands, but on the other hand, from his social equals of polo players and fox hunters. What a motley crew, but, it worked. One reason for his militarism may be that he was ashamed of the fact that his father paid for a substitute rather than fight in the Civil War.
What Auchincloss and Arthur Schlesinger (in his introduction) get across is that Roosevelt was a President whose greatness ws not shaped by events. Many presidents, such as Lincoln and FDR rise to greatness in a time of crisis. There was no such crisis when TR was president and many people could probably not recall a single major event that took place during his presidency, yet, he is remembered as a great president. This may be due to the fact that the force of his personality set a tone. He was a reformer and, indeed he became the head of the liberal wing of the party when he challenged his successor, Taft, and the Democratic nominee, Wilson, in 1912 running on the "Bull Moose" party.
Roosevelt set a macho, somewhat gingoistic tone which worked well at the start of the 20th century. Supporting a revolution in Panama against Columbia so as to get control of the area to build the Panama Canal was probably the right type of international intrigue for that period of time. He was the right man for his time and that, ultimately, may be what led to his greatness.

Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News
Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News
by Bernard Goldberg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 24.54
98 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars The truth from an insider, Jan. 30 2002
Goldberg became persona non grata at CBS news, a few years ago, when he wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal criticising CBS for slanting the news. He gave as an example, a hatchet job which was done on Steve Forbes. Goldberg was a reporter for CBS and he mananged to hang on to his job for a few more years, but ultimately, after his pension kicked in, he left. Dan Rather was apoplectic over the Journal column and never forgave Goldberg. Goldberg points out tha what is interesting is that Rather was a thorn in Nixon's side during the Watergate scandal yet Rather became just like Nixon. Rather, like Nixon, is unable to stand criticism and if you ever turn against him, he will always be your enemy.
Goldberg is no conservative yet, he was demonized by Rather and others at CBS as having some sort of agenda when he wrote the column. In other words, the strategy was to engage in ad hominam attacks on the messenger rather than address the substance of the criticsm.
Goldberg gives numerous examples of media bias. The book was written since September 11th 2001 thus, he addresses terrorism, noting that the aftermath of the attack was perhaps the media at their best as they reported the tragic news straight. Still, he notes that over the years the media has always been tilted towards the Palestinians against Israel and that the media has never done a good job of truly investigatring radical Islam and what it is in the Koran that inspires so many to suicide bombings.
He notes that there is no cabal that meets to discuss how to distort the news. Instead, most people in the major networks and newspapers are of a similar mindset and they actually believe that they are moderate and that they are reporting the news straight. Dan Rather and others of his ilk are getting exactly what they deserve; a huge loss in ratings as the cable networks, particularly Fox, do a better, more balanced job in reporting the news. Furthermore, they richly deserve this, Goldbergs final triumph, as this book has become a blockbuster best seller. I recommend it.

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