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Reviews Written by
Chris Salzer (Atlanta, GA United States)

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Blindsided: Lifting a Life Above Illness: A Reluctant Memoir
Blindsided: Lifting a Life Above Illness: A Reluctant Memoir
by Richard M. Cohen
Edition: Hardcover
54 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Puts everything in perspective, July 19 2004
"Anyone battling chronic illness understands the power of family support and even the groundless fear of being left," Richard Cohen says.
Cohen, whom I had never heard of before reading this book, puts everything in perspective in this eye-opening and introspectively candid look into not only his life, but that of his spouse Meredith Vieira and their 3 children. At times shocking, revealing, humorous, instructive, as well as cathartic, Blindsided makes for an incredibly refreshing read for anyone who has suffered through a chronic illness or hospitalization(such as myself) or who simply enjoys a profoundly uplifting memoir.
Cohen will surprise you with his surprising candor and dry humor. Especially amusing was his unbridled disdain for the ostensibly helpless light in which Ladies Home Journal cast him in after interviewing Meredith. Making him out to be a pitiful invalid and Meredith as the incessantly weeping caretaker was far from the truth, Richard says. As a true testament to his unwavering resolve, he has chosen to live his life to the fullest that he possibly can -- regardless of his medical limitations.
"Personal strength, in the end, wins out. My hope never dies. And, still, I call myself an optimist. I believe that in the end, my life will be better."

I, Robot
I, Robot
by Isaac Asimov
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.39
104 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A quick fun read, July 13 2004
This review is from: I, Robot (Mass Market Paperback)
First off, allow me to issue three caveats. Written over 50 years ago, I, Robot is somewhat dated at times with its archaic technological references. Secondly, the book appears to be as closely related to the movie as Will Smith is to the main protagonists -- which is absolutely nil. Thirdly, the book is more of a collection of 9 short stories -- rather than a novel with one male protagonist -- as the movie evidently is.
While exhibiting little substance at times, I, Robot is, however, a fun and easy read that is well told for the first 6 stories and then somewhat drops off into predictable and mundane tales for the last three yarns. I particularly enjoyed the tales of the silent babysitting robot Robbie, the mindreading robot Herbie, the quasi-autonomous Speedy, and the ingeniously crafted robot politician, Stephen Byerley. Without a doubt, I found I, Robot enjoyable -- just don't expect some monumental work of greatness. It is what it is -- a perfectly fun read for the summer.

Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life
Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life
by John McCain
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.00
52 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Grace under pressure, June 27 2004
Courage is, John McCain tells us, much more than Hemingway's overly laconic definition of it -- grace under pressure. It does, however, make a great starting point when recounting the prodigious heroics of the likes of the following unsung heroes: the dauntless Vietnam Medal of Honor award winner Master Sgt. Roy Benavidez, the valiant Marines in the Battle of Peleliu Island, the tenacious naturalist John Wesley Powell as he fearlessly led his expedition into The Great Unknown of the Grand Canyon, the steadfast Navajo Chief Manuelito who stood his ground against an unjust American government, the incredibly intrepid blood-spattered John Lewis fighting peacefully against grievous disenfranchisement and racism, and the amazingly selfless Corporal Mitchell Red Cloud as he dauntlessly gave his life on the incomparably bloody Hill 123 in Korea so that others may live.
John McCain and Mark Salter masterfully employ these infinitely brave individuals, as well as many more that I have omitted, to embody the highly sought after, yet oftentimes elusive, virtue of courage. Why Courage Matters proves to be a most enjoyable and edifying read which, although quite short, will indubitably, not unlike JFK's Profiles in Courage, leave a profoundly indelible mark on its reader.
"It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!"
- Emiliano Zapata

The Hiding Place
The Hiding Place
by Corrie Ten Boom
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.01
51 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE best book you'll read this summer, June 26 2004
First written in 1971, The Hiding Place has, through both critical acclaim and word of mouth of the masses, achieved both certifiable classic status and a revered place in the hearts of its readers. And, I might add, for good reason. Although written in 1st person novel form from the perspective of the selflessly valiant Cornelia ten Boom, it is, of course, the true story of one family's almost unfathomable degree of limitless giving and unwavering altruism that saved many of lives during the nihilistic hate-filled Nazi regime in Holland, where the Gestapo as well as Dutch collaborators were pervasively ubiquitous and inexorably replete with hate and ineluctably devoid of both reason and love.
While reading, I felt a veritable melange of emotions running the gamut from sadness, anger, despair, and hope. Thanks to the wonderful writing, you feel like you're reading a novel -- although one that is all too harrowing and real. As Betsie quotes the Bible and says, "Give thanks in all circumstances," she subsequently says "Thanks for the fleas" -- a moment that demonstrated that God DOES work in mysterious ways. Without giving away anything that happens, I strongly exhort you to read The Hiding Place -- a book that stays with you long after you have turned the last page.
"No pit is so deep that He is not deeper still."
- Betsie ten Boom

Signet Classics Ethan Frome
Signet Classics Ethan Frome
by Edith Wharton
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
49 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Cogent theme, yet boring plot, June 23 2004
While I appreciated the germane theme of "life is short -- so make the most of it," I did not, however, particularly appreciate the utter despondency and insufferable malaise of Wharton's storyline. The morose setting of a fictitious New England town in the cold winter adds to the gloom and dreariness of an already hopeless milieu engendered by the abject despair of title character Ethan and the incorrigible antagonism of his wife, Zeena.
I didn't know whether to pity Ethan - or to laugh at him. His weak lack of resolve against the insufferably truculent and extremely annoying Zeena as well as his glaring inability to make his own decisions both contribute to make this book to be anything but a "page-turner" -- to put it mildly. Ethan is nothing short of pathetic. I empathize with Mattie to a certain degree, yet the ending (with Mattie) of this short novella is so pathetic that I was left shaking my head -- at how stupid they all are.
I gave it a generous 3 stars for its pertinent message of "hey, don't be like us because we're morons." While I highly enjoyed Wharton's The House of Mirth, this book, in essence, is no House of Mirth - in more ways than one.

Plan of Attack
Plan of Attack
by Bob Woodward
Edition: Hardcover
119 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Trust but verify, June 8 2004
This review is from: Plan of Attack (Hardcover)
"I am prepared to risk my presidency to do what I think is right. I was going to do what I think is right. I was going to act. And if it could cost the presidency, I fully realized that." These are the strong words of a man of true conviction as quoted by Bob Woodward.
"I would like to be a two-term president, but if I am a one-term president, so be it."
"And if this decision costs you the election?" I (Woodward) asked.
"The presidency-that's just the way it is," Bush said. "Fully prepared to live with it."
Woodward, in a riveting yet objective manner, displays for all to see the complex, and oftentimes contentious, innerworkings of The White House. Moreover, the reader is taken inside the beltway to witness the resolve and principle of President Bush - a man who bears a most favorable resemblance to another leader of unrivaled courage of conviction - Ronald Reagan. Intriguing read.
"It's a moral issue. In the name of morality how can we not intervene?"
- Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel in a meeting with President Bush

The Moviegoer
The Moviegoer
by Walker Percy
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.22
47 used & new from CDN$ 0.74

3.0 out of 5 stars Where happiness costs so little, June 7 2004
This review is from: The Moviegoer (Paperback)
The Moviegoer, ranked the #60 book of the 20th Century by the Modern Library, is definitely worth reading -- yet not as profound or intense as I had hoped it would be. It is, without a doubt, not on the same incomparable level of supremacy as A Confederacy of Dunces. It is, however, entertaining and provocative. You follow a New Orleans stockbroker, Binx Bolling, as he lives his life vicariously through movies and their stars.
Binx finds himself at a veritable crossroads at the age of 30 as he has become incredibly disillusioned in a mundane world replete with phoniness and mediocrity. As he attempts to escape from this banality via movies and women, he finds that he is, along with his neurotic cousin Kate, searching for meaning in an otherwise fruitless life. As he duly states, "I have discovered that most people have no one to talk to, no one, that is, who really wants to listen." I recommend this book...just don't expect A Confederacy of Dunces, though.
"Where Happiness Costs So Little"
- The marquee's message at the theater in Gentilly

Ender's Game
Ender's Game
by Orson Scott Card
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.95
127 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute must read, June 6 2004
Not being an overly avid science fiction reader, I had some doubts as to the level of profundity and entertainment that could possibly be derived from a book that is entitled Ender's Game. Ender, I soon came to learn, is the featured protagonist, a 6 year-old boy quite unlike any other living in Greensboro, NC. Quite unlike any other in the sense that he exists with the superlative distinction that he is, without doubt, the genius of geniuses.
Being tested from the start by being picked on by older boys, Ender makes a rather indelible impression on the reader from the first chapter -- one of supreme courage, wit, and.....well...genius. To make the book enticing without giving anything away, I will succinctly state that Ender is drafted into the I.F.(International Fleet) army and thrust into learning not only how to win complex and immensely challenging Battle Games, but also valuable life lessons along the way. In a book that succeeds on multiple levels, you find yourself highly entertained and wanting to find out what happens next -- as well as learning from the daunting adversity that Ender incessantly faces and the ingenious methods and strategies that he uses to masterfully overcome it.
In closing, I recommend Ender's Game to anyone from 9 to 90. Not only can kids learn a great deal from this book, but adults can, without a doubt, as well -- especially from a leadership or management perspective.
"Winning is everything because without it there is nothing."
- Mazer Rackham

Moneyball: The Art Of Winning An Unfair Game
Moneyball: The Art Of Winning An Unfair Game
by Michael Lewis
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.06
140 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Think outside the box, June 2 2004
Moneyball makes a great read for both the baseball enthusiast as well anyone looking to study a truly remarkable business model that transcends mere baseball. For example, when replacing All-Star 1B Jason Giambi, Oakland GM Billy Beane says, "The important thing is not to recreate the individual. The important thing is to recreate the aggregate."
In a highly unconventional, yet meticulously precise system of player development that drafts such players as C Jeremy Brown in the 1st round(he wasn't listed among the top 25 amateur Catchers by Baseball America), signs such castoffs as a C who can't throw from his throwing arm(Scott Hatteberg), lead-footed Jeremy Giambi, over-the-hill David Justice, Assistant GM Paul DePodesta says, "We don't get the guys who are perfect. There has to be something wrong with them for us to get them."
"When you rule out an entire class of people from doing a job simply by their appearance, you are less likely to find the best person for the job."
- Michael Lewis

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction
Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction
by J.D. Salinger
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 7.61
61 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars The next step, June 1 2004
After having read all of Salinger's currently available works (obviously many will be published upon his death) except for this one, I found it incumbent upon myself to finish the J.D. Salinger tour with this two story compilation that seemingly concludes (at least for now) the enthrallingly enigmatic, not to mention neurotic, Glass family.
While both are told via Buddy's first person narrator perspective, Raise High the Roof Beam is a far superior effort, although I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed Seymour: An Introduction as well -- just not as immensely as its predecessor. After reading both, one seems to learn a great deal more about Buddy, Boo Boo, Les and Bessie, Walt, and Franny & Zooey than Seymour himself. Buddy admittedly refuses to delve into the years immediately prior to Seymour's suicide(deftly written in A Perfect Day for Bananafish), but rather touches solely on his youthful years while starring on "It's A Wise Child." This book is worth the price alone due to the profound Taoist tale Seymour told Franny when she was a baby -- as well as Buddy's hilarious blowup at the insufferably annoying Matron of Honor.
"My atoms, moreover, are arranged to make me constitutionally inclined to believe that where there's smoke there's usually strawberry Jello, seldom fire." - Buddy

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