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Reviews Written by
D. Wolf "wolfd" (Fairfax, VA USA)

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Riding The Rap
Riding The Rap
by Elmore Leonard
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
11 used & new from CDN$ 7.89

3.0 out of 5 stars Awwwwww.... not his best, Nov. 4 2002
I guess even Leonard is entitled to an off day. Somehow this book gets stuck in the mud along the way which is so unlike the usual fare from this terrific writer.
The story is about a policeman who's trying to help an old friend that was kidnapped. Unfortunately, after a great beginning, the plot gets kidnapped and dies in an uninteresting shoot-out at the book's conclusion.
I'll still keep reading Elmore Leonard's stuff because he so rarely misses. Buy this one at a discount and read it on a plane; if you don't finish and accidentally leave it on your seat when you land, you won't have missed too much.

José Cura: Puccini Arias
José Cura: Puccini Arias
Price: CDN$ 24.68
38 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Almost really good, Aug. 14 2002
Cura's voice is not the typical lyric tenor. He has the first really "muscular" tenor voice I've heard. At times he uses it to great effect on this compilation.
It's clear that Cura's voice is suited to Puccini's more intense style. Compare this recording to his collection of Verdi aria's and you'll get the point immediately.
I agree with other reviewers that the highlights of the CD are the pieces from Manon Lescaut. I also enjoyed the excerpts from Tosca.
Surprisingly, the "Nussun dorma" is weak. Given the power of Cura's voice and the character of the song, you'd think this would have been a real showpiece.

Kevin Mahogany
Kevin Mahogany
Offered by Sharehouse Goods CA
Price: CDN$ 23.92
14 used & new from CDN$ 2.17

4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific blend of R&B and Blues, July 29 2002
This review is from: Kevin Mahogany (Audio CD)
This album show Mahogany's great vocal style. He covers some classic tunes and makes it clear that he really can swing. Mahogany is also particulary adept at ballads; his cover of "When October goes" is outstanding.
The supporting musicians are also excellent. The sax and drummer are particularly good.

The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread
The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread
by Peter Reinhart
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 32.25
42 used & new from CDN$ 32.25

5.0 out of 5 stars Now I get it..., July 21 2002
Reinhart's excellent book provides a clear discussion of how to make excellent bread. Not only does he give step-by-step instructions, he explains the chemistry and mechanics of breadmaking. Reinhart doesn't try to make the book a chemistry text, he covers the important parts in a way that even us non-scientists understand. The reader really does become his apprentice.
Besides the clarity of the text, the book conveys its author's dedication to both the craft of making, and the joy of eating really well made bread.
Particularly valuable is the discussion of starters. Making really good bread generally requires use of some form of prefermenation or starter. Too many other baking books describe the starter making and keeping processes as an odd combination of science and sorcery. Reinhart makes it clear that it's an undaunting, straightforward thing to do.
Unlike so many other cookbooks, the photographs are clear and genuinely useful.
This book makes an excellent companion to Bernard Clayton's Complete Bread Baking book. Together, you'll have the information you need to successfuly make many great breads.
Finally, I tried to find something to quibble about so the review would sound balanced. Sorry... I failed.

American Dreamer
American Dreamer
by John C Culver
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 27.99
21 used & new from CDN$ 27.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Facinating Account of the Man Who Was Almost President, July 10 2002
This review is from: American Dreamer (Paperback)
This exceptionally well done biography of Henry Wallace tells the story of an unusual man who nearly became president of the US. As Vice-president during FDR's third term, Wallace could easily have become president as Roosevelt's health steadily worsened. Back-room dealings at the Democratic convention in '44, were all that prevented Wallace being VP during FDR's final term.
Wallace was a brilliant complex man. Early in his life he developed and promoted hybrid corn that improved the productivity of American (and subsequently world) farmers. He was the real drivers of the recovery of American agriculture during the Depression. Wallace made difficult, often unpopular choices, that had the long term effect of improving the country's agrarian strength.
As a politician he was simultaneously naive and crafty. His ability to move controversial New Deal legislation through Congress showed how skilled he could be. His run as a third party candidate for president in 52 demonstrated both his naivte and vanity (a quality he developed late in his life).
My only quibble with this book is that it tells very little about what happened to Wallace following his quixotic presidential run. While the remaining 17 years of his life were hardly as eventful as what came before, it certainly merited greater coverage. Don't let this small matter detract from reading this otherwise excellent biography.
After reading this biography, one reaches two conclusions: 1) it's probably best that Wallace never became president; as an idealist, he was too often unable to settle for the "good" instead of his view of the "perfect;" 2) despite his flaws, Wallace's brilliance and dedication make him seem much greater than anyone on the current political scene regardless of party.

Sings Verdi Arias
Sings Verdi Arias
Offered by MUSICSHOP780
Price: CDN$ 10.76
23 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Not a great effort, June 25 2002
This review is from: Sings Verdi Arias (Audio CD)
Simply put, Cura does not use his powerful voice to great effect. I've listened to his collection of Puccini arias where his strength finds better application. I even liked him in the TV production of La Boehme. But sadly, there appears to be no real interpretation in this recording, just sound. It's like listening to a horn player who can create a great sound from the instrument, but can't make music.

Blood Money
Blood Money
by Thomas Perry
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.43
46 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but far from his best, June 19 2002
As an avid Perry fan who's been reading the Jane Whitfield stories since the first came out, this is my first disappointment. It's still a decent light read, but somehow Perry loses his way.
The biggest flaw is that the lengthy discussions of intramural squabbling among Mafia families doesn't tie in well with the pursuit of Jane and her charges. Perry should have either had Jane take advantage of the mutual mistrust among the families, or made it the central thread of a separate book. Instead, we bounce from the usual cross country hide-and-seek with a series of scenes involving Mafia guys arguing.
Perry's shows his strengths in his descriptions of settings, and of some of the characters - notably Bernie Lupus (I can't get over the name) and the young girl Jane is protecting. But, for the first time, he makes the bad guys seem dull.
Having produced so many great stories, I'll forgive him for this one and hope that he returns to his usual form.
A good summer read. Or read it on a plane. Buy the paperback.

Peaceful World
Peaceful World
Price: CDN$ 20.42
10 used & new from CDN$ 20.42

5.0 out of 5 stars Great for late night, June 6 2002
This review is from: Peaceful World (Audio CD)
I used to play the hell out of this album in my college days in the early 70's. It always served as a great way to wind down from whatever party I'd come from, or if I was lucky enough to have company for the evening.
Lots of great tracks all through the album. The title track is a classic! The musicianship is great throughout.

Death Benefits
Death Benefits
by Thomas Perry
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.91
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Perry Novel, May 31 2002
While Perry has never matched the quality of Butcher's Boy, Death Benefits makes a wonderful read. The story is suspenseful (if not altogether plausible) and he again creates interesting multidimensional protagonists. Like all his books, this one includes extensive descriptive settings so the reader always has a strong physical point of view to accompany the narrative.
Some reviewers have had a problem with the ending, but I found it a unique twist. Yes, one must suspend disbelief when reading; but, what fun thriller doesn't require that? The ending is a bit abrupt; but, you gotta stop the story sometime.
This is a great book to read at the beach or while travelling. It sure helped me pass a couple long train rides.

Theodore Rex
Theodore Rex
by Edmund Morris
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 44.31
75 used & new from CDN$ 4.45

4.0 out of 5 stars Just as good as it's predecessor, May 13 2002
This review is from: Theodore Rex (Hardcover)
Morris follows up with another excellent biography. On the plus side is his extensive coverage of Roosevelt's presidency. He shows clearly how TR masters the political issues associated with limiting the Trusts that had taken hold of the American economy; and, how he established an executed his imperialistic vision of America.
The book falls short in two areas - the first is in the discussion of Roosevelt's personal life. Morris provides anecdotes but not any real view of how his family affected him. Given the apparent amount of time he spent with them (a contrast to his early years), something other than anecdotal snippets of the life of daughter Alice should have been included.
Second, and more significant, is that Morris again does little to address the huge paradoxes in Roosevelt's policies. This is most evident in his views and actions on race relations. Clearly, Roosevelt tried to make some progress in this area; but, he only attempted to make small steps forward. The president who made America a real world power, cut the Panama canal, reined in the trusts, surely had the political power to do more with race relations. Roosevelt appears to have been genuinely sympathetic to the needs of American minorities, but Morris never makes it clear what restrained him. It appears that TR thought race was a lower political priority than other parts of his agenda. If that's the case, Morris should provide that explanation; if not, then the question is unanswered.
These concerns should not stop you from reading this otherwise terrific book. TR was definitely one of our great presidents, and this biography makes it clear how he transformed America and the world for the better.

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