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sootica "sootica" (Encinitas, CA)

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Rick Steves Great Britain 2002
Rick Steves Great Britain 2002
by Rick Steves
Edition: Paperback
13 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Great for beginners, March 25 2002
I'll be going on my second trip to England this summer, and I thought that I would use this book a lot. I had used the London guide two years ago and was very happy with it. But I bought the book a few weeks ago, and I'm kind of disappointed. Since I've already been to England, and know some of what I want to see, this book isn't all that helpful. I don't need just a list of the normal tourist stuff in Edinburgh, or Bath. I think that Rick Steves is great at helping people try to travel on their own, without a tour group, but I don't think that his choice of places to visit are particularly original, or complete. He seems to really like Bath and Blackpool, but totally ignores some of my favorite places in England, such as Canterbury Cathedral. Also, although his directions to finding places in London are great, and he does give some information about each site, he doesn't give nearly enough background information about places to suit me. His directions to places outside of London are not nearly as helpful. If you're an experienced traveler in England, this book is not for you. If you're going for the first time, I'd buy this book for the directions to places and accomodations lists, and to help narrow down choices of places to visit, and then I'd look at other guidebooks to get more in-depth information for specific sites. I'd recommend the Dorling-Kindersley guide to London for starters. His sense of humor is terrific, and I appreciate his honesty about some of the things that he doesn't like, but I need more information than is available here. Spend some time on the internet, looking up things you're interested in, and researching, along with another guidebook or two, and you'll be much happier with your trip to England than you would be if you just relied on this book.

Skipping Christmas
Skipping Christmas
by John Grisham
Edition: Hardcover
136 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Bah! Humbug!, Dec 14 2001
This review is from: Skipping Christmas (Hardcover)
If this were written by one of my ninth grade English students rather than John Grisham, and turned into me for grading, I might write "trite", "predictable", or maybe even "boring" or "stereotypical" in the margin. The end is thoroughly stereotypical for a Christmas book, and of course, the cockles of our heart are supposed to be warmed. (Dickens did it first, and far better.) Long before the end, I was turned off. The plot is rather unbelieveable-- after all, in our culture, would anyone really care if a family decided not to celebrate Christmas? This book has none of the usual characteristics of a Grisham novel. And it's very, very short. Not worth the price even with the discount. I've given it two stars only because it's quick and easy to read, so it's valuable to pass the time somewhere like the doctor's office where you can't concentrate on a real book. Would this have been published without Grisham's name on the front? I doubt it. I'm sure it would not be selling as well as it is.

The Taliban: War, Religion and the New Order in Afghanistan
The Taliban: War, Religion and the New Order in Afghanistan
by Peter Marsden
Edition: Paperback
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a text book for Modern Afghanistan 301, Oct. 11 2001
I found this book to be more "textbookish" than the other books I have read recently about the Taliban. It has a more dry academic style than the other two books that I'd recommend about the subject: The New Jackals: Ramsi Yousef, Osama bin Laden, and the Future of Terrorism, by Simon Reeve, and Taliban, Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, by Ahmed Rashid. However, I felt that this book was still valuable. It has a more indepth discussion of the history of Afghanistan than the other two, and much more detail about the Northern Alliance, and makes it clear how difficult it will be to unite the Afghan people even after the Taliban are gone. As I read about the various factions there, I began to feel that I needed to write out a cast of characters, just to keep track of them all, and I also gained a sense that none of the various factions involved are particularly savory. Since it is several years old, recent events such as destruction of Bamiyan Buddhas, and of course, the WTC, are not discussed, but the book still presents a valuable overview of the backgrounds of the war we are facing now.

Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia
Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia
by Ahmed Rashid
Edition: Paperback
73 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars The best single book I've found about the Taliban., Oct. 11 2001
I've read several books about Afghanistan and the Taliban since Sept. 11, and if I had to choose just one to recommend, this would be it. Ahmed Rashid is a Pakastani journalist , so he brings a different perspective to this whole awful situation than a US or British author might. He understands the area in a way that people from other parts of the world probably never will, and brings many years of experience to the subject. However, he appears to be very objective in his descriptions, and shows where the actions of many different countries have led to the situation that Afghanistan finds itself in now. Although the book was written in 2000, it is extremely informative in our present crisis. Several other reviewers here have done a good job of describing the parts of the book, so I won't do that again, but I would like to mention the last chapter of the book which summarizes the events that have led Afghanistan to the situation it is in, points out how difficult it will be to solve its problems and discusses how important it is to achieve peace in Afghanistan. I think that this chapter ought to be required reading for all Americans as we go into war. His prophetic closing sentence is "The stakes are extremely high."
I'd also recommend two other books for those who are interested in learning more: The Taliban: War, Religion and the New Order in Afghanistan, by Peter Marsden, and The New Jackals: Ramsi Yousef, Osama bin Laden, and the Future of Terrorism, by Simon Reeve.

New Jackals Hbk
New Jackals Hbk
by Simon Reeve
Edition: Hardcover
57 used & new from CDN$ 0.10

5.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a prophecy, Oct. 11 2001
This review is from: New Jackals Hbk (Hardcover)
Although this book was written well before the WTC and Pentagon attacks, it is an excellent background for the terrible situation that we find ourselves in now. Reeve describes the first WTC attacks and the investigation of them in great detail, then goes on to describe the difficulties that will be faced in fighting terrorism in the future, and alludes to the types of attacks that America might face. I recommend this book very highly in conjunction with two other books that I have read in the last few weeks. New Jackals puts a more human face on the terrorism than the other two books do. It describes where the terrorists lived, how they worked, how they found each other, and how the FBI found them. It describes other attacks that they were planning, some very scary, and others ridiculous-- they even planned to kidnap former president Nixon. It also describes actions that the US has already taken or attempted to take against Osama bin Laden, and makes it clear that our current battle will not be easy. The other two books that I'd recommend are The Taliban, by Peter Marsden, and Taliban, Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, by Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist. These other two books will provide a political, economic, religious, and historical background to the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
by Barbara Ehrenreich
Edition: Hardcover
20 used & new from CDN$ 3.39

3.0 out of 5 stars Pretending to be poor, Oct. 10 2001
In Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich tells the story of several months that she spent trying to enter the work force as an unskilled middle-aged woman who had been a homemaker. I was very interested in this book when I first heard about it, but the book itself was disappointing. Ehreneich found that she couldn't survive on the wages that she was paid without sinking to places such as homeless shelters for awhile, and gave up the experiment. I felt that there was sort of a patronizing attitude about the whole book-- a well-educated white woman goes and pretends to be poor for awhile, then comes back and tells us all about how awful it was.
I can't imagine why this book's findings, that low paid jobs are physically demanding, boring, and offer little in the way of job advancement, would be surprising to anyone who's not blind, but perhaps most people who read books like this haven't had low wage jobs while growing up. I was also surprised at how savagely certain groups are treated-- fat people, school teachers, people who pay household workers are all attacked for various reasons. The only folks who seem to be ok are some members of the working poor. Everyone else is seen as worthy of scorn.
It doesn't take long to read the book. It's not particularly intellectually challenging, but there are still a lot of other books out there that I think are more worthy of your time.

We Were the Mulvaneys
We Were the Mulvaneys
by Joyce Carol Oates
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.27
187 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars I hate when people tug at my heartstrings, May 29 2001
This review is from: We Were the Mulvaneys (Paperback)
At first I enjoyed the book a lot. It took me into a world of a beautiful farm and a beautiful farm family, far from suburban southern California where I live. However, after sticking through to the end, I felt I had wasted my time. Without giving away the ending too much, I have to say that I felt that the book was written in a formulaic Oprah-book style-- mean abusive men, women who are innocent and wronged greatly by the men. While great fiction gives us a view into the lives and struggles of others, this book failed in that I didn't feel that some of the characters and their reactions in the book were realistic-- would the mother really remain that clueless? Would the father have really been that heartless? Would a family in the late 70's in the United States really deal that badly with a rape in the family. I hated having my emotions drug through the mud over something that I felt was not very realistic. It was overall a very depressing book. I woke up the next morning after I finished feeling very, very depressed, and then realized that I had sort of a hangover from the book.

Gardening with Nature: How James van Sweden and Wolfgang Oehme Plant Slopes, Meadows, Outdoor Rooms, an d Garden Screens
Gardening with Nature: How James van Sweden and Wolfgang Oehme Plant Slopes, Meadows, Outdoor Rooms, an d Garden Screens
by James Van Sweden
Edition: Hardcover
17 used & new from CDN$ 5.54

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice ideas if you own a park, May 17 2001
Although the landscapes in this book are beautiful, most of the properties shown were massive, complete with beautiful natural views surrounding them. It was fun to look at the pictures, but realistically, most people aren't dealing with the situations shown here. One terrace garden was shown, but it was small and unremarkable. All the properties shown are on the east coast, so the plant choices are not particularly useful for folks who live west of the Mississippi. It's an interesting way to spend a few minutes looking at the pictures, but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone to use in planning a garden.

The Teaching Gap
The Teaching Gap
by James Stigler
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 38.00
45 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Teaching in different cultures, May 17 2001
This review is from: The Teaching Gap (Hardcover)
This book reports the findings of a study of Mathematics classes in Japan, Germany, and the United States. Many lessons were videotaped in each country, and then analyzed by the researchers. I'm an English teacher but I still found the researcher's observations to be intriguing. After describing the general characteristics of classes in each country, the researchers focus on Japan and the way that educators there collaborate. The way the Japanese teachers collaborate very intensively and the Japanese attitude toward educational reform were pointed out to show how Japan has managed to greatly improve its educational system in the last 50 years while the US system has gone through reform after reform without seeming to achieve any results. Differences in the Japanese culture that have added to this success are pointed out, and reasons for these differences are discussed. As an experienced teacher in the US, who has also lived in Japan and taught Japanese students in America, I believe that their observations were very accurate, and don't bode well for the success of educational reform in America in the future. However, I think that every teacher who is truly interested in school reform should read this book. (And unlike many books about education, it is very readable-- no pretension jargon, or murky tangled sentence structure.)

Exiting Nirvana My Daughter's Life With Autism
Exiting Nirvana My Daughter's Life With Autism
by Clara Claiborne Park
Edition: Hardcover
22 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A touching, loving memoir, May 17 2001
Clara Claiborne Park describes her daughter Jessy, an autistic woman in her 40's and discusses how her daughter has changed in the years since she wrote The Siege: A Family's Journey into the World of an Autistic Child, which ended when Jessy was 8. The book is an eloquent argument for the education of autistic children, and a detailed glimpse into the family life of an autistic person. Park describes different aspects of their life in a matter-of-fact manner-- no whining or victimhood here. Her love of Jessy is obvious, and there is no complaining, but it becomes obvious through the descriptions of Jessy's behavior and personality that their life has been difficult. It's also obvious how well Jessy has been cared for and loved. It's refreshing to read this book because the Park family just seems so, so good, and that's unusual to come across these days.Parks is a great writer-- the book is intelligent and readable. I'd recommend this book for any family with an autistic child, and for anyone who is just interested in thinking about how love, personality, and intelligence relate

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