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Reviews Written by
Jack Purcell (Placitas, NM USA)

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Archy and Mehitabel
Archy and Mehitabel
by Don Marquis
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.52
60 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightened cats, cockroaches, spiders and rats, April 18 2004
This review is from: Archy and Mehitabel (Paperback)
Any cat lover who's never been exposed to these yarns from a newspaper columnist is in for a rare treat. A parrot reincarnated from the Bard demeans his own plays, "I knew what the lowbrows wanted and I gave it to them. All I ever wanted to be was a good sonneteer!"
Evidently, all newspaper columnist Marquis ever wanted to be was a sage of human wisdom communicating his astute observations of human behavior through the eyes of a cat reincarnated from Cleopatra, a cockroach and a menagerie of other beautiful non-humans.
I've had three cats named Mehitabel over the past 40 years as a consequence of reading Marquis at too young an age. Naturally each of those felines was reincarnated from a Mehitabel created by the mind of Don Marquis.
Buy this book even if you hate cats.

Bright Feather
Bright Feather
by Robert Wilder
Edition: Hardcover
15 used & new from CDN$ 22.17

5.0 out of 5 stars This one's a sleeper, April 15 2004
This review is from: Bright Feather (Hardcover)
I first discovered it sometime during the early 80s and after laughing all the way through, put it aside as a keeper. I read it again at intervals frequent enough to cause the volume to be a bit torn and tattered now. It's great to see it's still available. I recommend this one to anyone who just enjoys a good read.

Deadly Feasts: Tracking the Secrets of a Terrifying New Plague
Deadly Feasts: Tracking the Secrets of a Terrifying New Plague
by Richard Rhodes
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 20.00
55 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars First, Last and Foremost, Feb. 3 2004
When Richard Rhodes published Deadly Feasts in 1997 it all seemed doubtful and futuristic. His investigations followed the development of this horror from the first, to 1997, and predicted the future (now). Rhodes insisted that if practices weren't changed the US would be plagued by infected cattle. Practices weren't changed, and recently cattle from the US were banned from most of the countries to whom we export. And practices still haven't changed.
If you want to read more about the future I'd suggest you read this book. Despite the passage of years there's not a better source of information about Mad Cow Disease, the protection of the US food supply, regulators bought and paid for by the regulated industry, and what the future holds for all of us.

The Temple and the Lodge
The Temple and the Lodge
by Michael Baigent
Edition: Paperback
39 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars As Strange as Fiction, Jan. 8 2004
Readers who found Foucault's Pendulum intriguing will probably be surprised by this non-fiction account of the history of the Templars and early Freemasonry. Many of the characters are the same as those found in the novel, but any expectation that the facts are less bizarre than fiction will meet with disappointment.
Friday, October 13, 1307, Phillip IV of France ordered the immediate and surprise arrest of all the Knights Templar in France. His captive Pope, Clement V, subsequently excommunicated them all and dissolved the order. The Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, was roasted alive over a slow fire by the Inquisition. The last Crusade was over, the Holy Land was lost and the Templars, the best fighting force in Post-Crusades Europe were no longer needed. An international Order of warrior monks, the Templars were too powerful, too wealthy and too unpredictable in their future allegiances for Phillip to tolerate.
Evidently, the French contingent of the Knights Templar was forewarned. Most escaped France to places unknown on 18 sailing vessels, carrying with them the vast Templar treasure. Leigh and Baigent surmise through exhaustive research that the Templar destination was Scotland, where they secretly carried the order through several violent centuries of intrigue. The authors argue convincingly that Templar intervention was responsible for the victory by Robert Bruce over English forces at Bannockburn on June 24, 1314. Their descendants gradually evolved, these authors suggest, the organization that became Freemasonry.
March 20, 1737, Andrew Michael Ramsey, member of the English Royal Society, Rosicrucian and Freemason, delivered a public address (concerning Freemasons and Templars) in France, which stated, in part, "This sacred promise was therefore not an execrable oath, as it has been called, but a respectable bond to unite Christians of all nationalities in one cofraternity."
Police in Holland and Sweden had already acted against Freemasons. Within a few days of Ramsey's oration the French police followed suit. April 24, 1738, Pope Clement XII issued a Papal Bull "En enimenti apostolatus specula', forbidding all Catholics to become Freemasons under threat of excommunication. Two years later, in the Papal States, membership in a lodge was punishable by death.
The long, winding trail through the centuries with these authors in the facts leading monarchs and church authorities to damn members of the organization to which such notables as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Sam Houston and countless others is well worth the reading. Baigent and Leigh have done a great job of research and writing.

Plague, The
Plague, The
by Albert Camus
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.95
66 used & new from CDN$ 0.94

5.0 out of 5 stars The lost battle for our own minds and spirits, Dec 15 2003
This review is from: Plague, The (Paperback)
40 years ago Camus was all the rage.
The forgotten student union coffee shop and Greenwich Village Expresso debates of the first half of the 60s weren't all over Communism, unilateral nuclear disarmament (by the US), whether the US had any business in Southeast Asia, what 'we' should do about Cuba' and how enlightened young whites could best help blacks attain the middle-class goals of better living conditions, radios, equal access to public education, housing, restrooms and voting booths. All the various soon-to-be-dead Kennedys were alive, Communism as an ideal was still arguable (though lousily manifested in the USSR and PRC) and Martin Luther King was unknown, both for his 'dream', and for his purloined doctoral dissertation. The value of Christianity was still up for grabs in most of our young minds. An effective Village pickup line was a sneering, "What? You don't believe in Free Love?" In that hallowed atmosphere we discussed Camus, Sartre and Existentialism. We generally missed the point.
Nevermind Existentialism. The Plague is a good book. A great book about humans, stress, isolation and the human condition. A French seaport town stricken by plague finds itself isolated and dying for most of a year. The narrators watch the developments and phases of the epidemic within individuals, the government and the stricken. After a recent re-reading of this book I wonder why we never simply appreciated it for what it is, instead of using The Plague as one of the several platforms for debate in the battles with and for our spiritual selves. I wonder why we refused to see the virtue of the book without forcing it to be something less obvious than it is.
I recommend this book for anyone. I suspect it can't be read from any level without appreciation.

by Terese Svoboda
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 39.64
16 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone, Dec 15 2003
This review is from: Cannibal (Hardcover)
As a reader who tries to find merit in every book I trouble myself to read, I believe my efforts were wasted with Cannibal. I spent more time on it than I probably should have, because the book was the winner of the Elmer Holmes Bobst Award for Emerging Writers (whatever that is). In the end, I was forced to conclude that the New York University Press published the work because it hints at feminism, has almost no plot, hints at sympathy for oppressed peoples, describes HIV in some parts of Africa and has many other traits post-Modern English departments of higher education insist have value for budding English scholars. As a reader with a degree in English Literature from a public New York University, I tip my hat to the sentiments. As a reader who prefers books with plot, characterization, some form of interest beyond the inane observations of the author and barely hidden shouts of 'I have experience and saw stuff like this', I repudiate it.
On the other hand, I suspect feminists and the minions of social justice might love it. I recommend it without reservation for those.

Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt
Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt
by David McCullough
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.94
56 used & new from CDN$ 7.13

5.0 out of 5 stars Hangover of the Century, Dec 12 2003
One historical concept will almost certainly come to be after time allows historians a polite distance from the 20th Century: the first 70 years belong to the Roosevelts. Hidden behind all the white noise of two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Communism, assassinations, genocides, computers, automobiles, television, telephones and airplanes is a political reality. US self-definition of the 20th Century was personified by Theodore Roosevelt and almost no other public figure. His popularity, honesty, stoicism and ideals, all the best of the way Americans wished to view themselves, allowed the ghost of his kinsman, Franklin Delano to point US political direction for the remainder of the Century.
Theodore was the son of a wealthy New York elite who paid a substitute to serve in his place on the battlefields of the Civil War and the slave owning Southern Belle who was probably the model for Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind. While his mother and grandmother were sending packages to the South via blockade-runners and most of his kinsmen South of the Mason-Dixon Line were dying in battle, the tyke Teddy expressed the wish that all 'rebel soldiers would be ground to powder'. He idolized his father throughout his life, but barely mentioned his mother in his autobiography.
Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, hero of San Juan Hill, Trust-Buster, cowboy, rancher, and founder of the earliest National Parks, National Wilderness Areas, and National Forests, Roosevelt was largely responsible for the 20th Century love affair with the West. Hoot Gibson, Tom Mix, Gene Autry, John Wayne and Roy Rogers would have all lived different lives if Teddy Roosevelt had followed the footprints of his father (and there'd be no 'Teddy Bear'). So would we all live in an entirely different America.
David McCullough gives us a great account of this man of contrasts and his family. I recommend it as the best work ever compiled on a man who might one day be hailed as the 'best' president America ever had. McCullough gives us a human Roosevelt who carried all the best attributes of the 19th Century into the present.

The Coming of Rain
The Coming of Rain
by Richard Marius
Edition: Paperback
16 used & new from CDN$ 3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Of Human Bondage, Dec 12 2003
This review is from: The Coming of Rain (Paperback)
One strange legacy of the 20th Century is the realization of the humanity of parents, particularly mothers. Angelic, long suffering mothers of 19th Century literature were unveiled so often by so many writers as to always be tripwire for suspicion by readers. The more angelic a woman is portrayed, the more devious and profound the flaws before the final chapter. So it is with Coming of Rain.
A young man, dominated by a strong mother wielding the romantic Old South and a barely remembered Confederate father, discovers the past as it really was. He also discovers himself as he must be in the future. The Coming of Rain is a flood of story beginning in drought, of a prediction by a madman about to be hanged, of many kinds of slavery of the mind long after the ownership of other humans was abolished.
This book isn't heavy reading, but it's enjoyable for those who like historical fiction.

Danny Ain't
Danny Ain't
by Joe Cottonwood
Edition: Hardcover
12 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Personal Responsibility the Hard Way, Dec 7 2003
This review is from: Danny Ain't (Hardcover)
This sequel to The Adventures of Boone Barnaby is the tale of a young man coming into his own under difficult circumstances. He lives in a rented camper trailer on a suburban ranch with his father, a whacked out Vietnam Veteran prone to flashbacks, sitting for days in a tree with a rifle waiting for MedEvac helicopters to lift him out of his miseries.
When Danny´¿s dad is hauled away to the VA Hospital a few hours away the plot thickens. Danny has already spent time in a youth shelter and he´¿s determined not to let it happen again. He keeps the secret from all but his closest friends. Most of the story is the account of Danny´¿s struggle to remain independent, attend school as though nothing´¿s wrong at home, and get enough to eat during the weeks while he´¿s alone.
During the process Danny learns the lessons of the street most youths of today will never encounter. He´¿s forced to decide what he wants to be and what he refuses to be a part of. The time would have been much easier for him if he´¿d been willing to be a ´¿delivery boy´¿ for the local drug distribution neophyte. He almost does, then makes the right choice. During a weak moment he steals a $50 bill from the house of a friend, then discovers he also doesn´¿t care to be a thief, and slides it under the door of the owner.
Danny learns to take total responsibility for himself and his choices as few adults have learned. He discovers during the process what Danny Ain´¿t. In doing so he becomes a man.

New Mexico in Maps
New Mexico in Maps
by Jerry Williams
Edition: Paperback
15 used & new from CDN$ 52.76

5.0 out of 5 stars New Mexico History in Maps, Dec 4 2003
This review is from: New Mexico in Maps (Paperback)
My copy of this book is becoming tattered from wear. When I checked Amazon listings I discovered it's now out of print. I'd recommend anyone interested in the history and demographics of New Mexico buy one of these while it's still possible to get it used.
The Contents includes numerous maps under each of the following headings: Natural Environment, Historical Landscapes, Population Characteristics, Economic Characteristics, Cultural Elements and Government. Although the title is several years out of date in some areas, it's still the best document of the kind I've ever seen for the State of New Mexico in a broad-brush quick reference or for an in-depth study of certain aspects of New Mexico history you won't find elsewhere. I'd love to see UNM Press do another run of this one or print it on a book by book POD. It's entirely too good to allow to become unavailable.

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