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J. Miller (Alabama USA)

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Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government (Vintage)
Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government (Vintage)
von P.J. O'Rourke
  Taschenbuch

5.0 von 5 Sternen Forget what you learned in High School Civics., 19. Juni 2000
Politically correct? Most decidedly not. Politically accurate?Without a doubt. If P.J. O'Rourke's critique of the Americanpolitical system wasn't so devastatingly accurate this book would rank alongside the classics of American humor. Sadly, O'Rourke's apt conclusion about the United States Government is all too true:
"Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are us."
PARLIAMENT OF WHORES should be required reading in our nation's high schools. If O'Rourke's political treatise was offered as a supplement to the usual dry textbooks which are normally found in our nation's political science classrooms, the United States would have a citizenry whose political activism is unmatched across the globe. Highly recommended.


The Stanley Kubrick Companion
The Stanley Kubrick Companion
von James Howard
  Taschenbuch

3.0 von 5 Sternen Excellent analysis but not a complete survey., 19. Juni 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Stanley Kubrick Companion (Taschenbuch)
This slim, yet concise book provides an excellent behind the scenes look at one of filmdom's most famous directors. James Howard has done an excellent job of demolishing the myths which surround Kubrick and presenting a fascinating portrait of a virtuoso whose eye for detail is arguably unsurpassed in film history. Howard reveals that Kubrick's slavish attention to details was such that he considered placing toothbrushes on the set of BARRY LYNDON which were authentic in details to those actually used in the nineteenth century.
My primary criticism of the book is that it was billed as "complete survey of Kubrick's career -- including EYES WIDE SHUT." Well, yes and no. Though the book did include a chapter on Kubrick's last film, I was disappointed to find that Howard had written the book before the film's release. Commentary on Kubrick's swansong are thus limited to rumors of the sort which Howard diligently sought to dispel in the earlier chapters of the book. Apparently, the book was rushed into publication to coincide with the release of EYES WIDE SHUT and to cash in on Kubrick's untimely death. If a second, revised edition were to be released (which included Howard's knowledgeable critique of Kubrick's last film) this book would merit four stars. Recommended with reservations.


The Spiritual Tourist: A Personal Odyssey Through the Outer Reaches of Belief
The Spiritual Tourist: A Personal Odyssey Through the Outer Reaches of Belief
von Mick Brown
  Taschenbuch

4.0 von 5 Sternen No Guru. No Method. No Teacher., 17. Juni 2000
THE SPIRITUAL TOURIST: A PERSONAL ODYSSEY THROUGH THE OUTER REACHES OF BELIEF, is a personal chronicle of the author Mick Brown's spiritual peregrinations around the globe searching for...well, just plain searching. The author's search for far-flung spiritual gurus takes him from the peaks of the Himalayas to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and all points in between. Though Brown approaches his journey with the skeptical eye of a journalist and is forthright in his opinions, he never writes with condescension towards his subjects and allows the reader to make their own judgment about the spiritual validity of the various gurus encountered in his journey. As the title of the book indicates, Brown journeyed as an observer; I don't think he expected to find THE spiritual truth and I suppose in doing that, he indeed discovered a spiritual truth: truth will find you.


Van Morrison
Van Morrison
von John Collis
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 10,99

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2.0 von 5 Sternen An uneven biography: inconsistent and incomplete., 11. Juni 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Van Morrison (Taschenbuch)
After reading John Collis' VAN MORRISON: INARTICULATE SPEECH OF THE HEART, I'm not sure of the author's intention. In the introduction, Collis claims that he "offers only respect, and simply wants to get amateur psychoanalysis out of the way at the outset." During the course of the next 200 or so pages, however, Collis revels in shameless psycho-babble of the lowest sort while repeatedly criticizing Morrison's notoriously reticent personality.
Another criticism is that Collis seemed to focus a disproportionate amount of his ten chapter biography on Van's years with Them and Van's early solo career. The first seven chapters roughly cover Van's childhood in Belfast up to the release of the WAVELENGTH album in 1978. It is thus left to the remaining three chapters to cover a twenty some odd year era which many fans consider to be Morrison's most consistently rewarding years.
Considering that Van has, on average, released an album every year, Collis' focus on this early era comes at the expense of adequately covering the middle and later periods of Van's career. Indeed, the overall feel of Collis' book is that it was rushed into to print to capitalize on the fact that no Van biographies were available when it was published in 1996.
Fortunately, with the publication of Brian Hinton's CELTIC CROSSROADS, this is no longer the case. Collis does offer some insightful comments on Van's albums, but I would recommend Patrick Humphries' THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE MUSIC OF VAN MORRISON to fulfill this task. Overall assessment: inconsistent and incomplete. Not recommended.


The Fountainhead
The Fountainhead
von Ayn Rand
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 7,70

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1.0 von 5 Sternen The sound and the fury., 11. Juni 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Fountainhead (Taschenbuch)
THE FOUNTAINHEAD came highly recommended by a like-thinking libertarian friend of mine who believed I would be receptive to Ayn Rand's philosophical ideals of personal freedom and free market ideals. Upon reading Rand's epic, I was struck by its similarities to John Milton's PARADISE LOST. Like Milton, Rand has curiously allowed the novel's supposed villain, Ellsworth Toohey, to be the most fascinating character in the book.
Unlike Milton's epic poem, however, Rand's novel has virtually no literary value whatsoever. The novel's value arises merely from the odious fact that her cult of devotees insist this trash is a classic of world literature and philosophy. As a philosopher, Ayn Rand is no novelist. And as a novelist, Ayn Rand is no philosopher.
There is absolutely no believable dialogue or action in this novel -- the weak plot functions merely as a tool for philosophical harangues to spill out of the mouths of completely uninteresting characters. I know the defenders of THE FOUNTAINHEAD say that Rand purposefully created an ideal character in Howard Roark. Ideal? Perhaps. Unsurpassingly dull, without a doubt. Howard Roark is the most wooden, one dimensional literary character that I have ever encountered; he exists solely on the paper on which he is printed.
The love scenes between Howard Roark and Dominique Francon are likewise laughable. Rand's idea of passion must be akin to a neanderthal clubbing his betrothed over the head and dragging her back to the cave. How ironic that Rand completely subverts her Objectivist philosophy by pandering to the lowest common denominator.
Defenders of Rand say that THE FOUNTAINHEAD is actually the lessor of Rand's philosophical treatises, and that to fully appreciate Objectivism, you must read ATLAS SHRUGGED. Well, thanks but no thanks. After suffering through some 700 pages of THE FOUNTAINHEAD, I've served my time in hell.
Jean Paul Sartre had it all wrong; hell isn't other people, its suffering through utterly boring books such as THE FOUNTAINHEAD. Recommended solely as a textbook example of how density is often confused with profundity.


With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa
With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa
von Eugene B. Sledge
  Taschenbuch

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4.0 von 5 Sternen No W.W.II library is complete without this book., 10. Juni 2000
A sensitive and perceptive young college freshman from south Alabama, Eugene B. Sledge volunteered for Marine Corps officer training school during the middle of W.W. II. However, such was Sledge's desire to join the fighting before the war ended, he purposefully flunked out of school and promptly joined the ranks of the enlisted Marines.
Upon reporting to boot camp in San Diego, Sledge was introduced to his Drill Instructor with this eye-opening greeting: "If any of you idiots think you don't need to follow my orders, just step right out here and I'll beat your @ss right now. Your soul may belong to Jesus, but your @ss belongs to the Marines. You people are recruits. You're not Marines. You may not have what it takes to be Marines."
Fortunately, Sledge did indeed have what it took to be a Marine, and he has written WITH THE OLD BREED: AT PELELIU AND OKINAWA, an engaging personal chronicle of the horror of war as seen through the eyes of a young Marine grunt. Though this book is a personal account of historical events, it reads like a novel. Sledge is able to transform the course language of a salty Marine and the brutality of war into unembellished passages whose honesty have a lyrical beauty all their own:
"The situation was bad enough, but when the enemy artillery shells exploded in the area, the eruptions of soil and mud uncovered previously buried Japanese dead and scattered chunks of corpses. Like the area around our gun pits, the ridge was a stinking compost pile.
If a Marine slipped and slid down the back slope of the muddy ridge, he was apt to reach the bottom vomiting. I saw more than one man lose his footing and slip and slide all the way to the bottom only to stand up horror-stricken as he watched in disbelief while fat maggots tumbled out of his muddy dungaree pockets, cartridge belt, legging lacings, and the like. Then he and a buddy would shake or scrape them away with a piece of ammo box or a knife blade.
We didn't talk about such things. They were too horrible and obscene for even hardened veterans. The conditions taxed the toughest I knew almost to the point of screaming. Nor do authors normally write about such vileness; unless they have seen it with their own eyes, it is too preposterous to think that men could actually live and fight for days and nights under such terrible conditions and not be driven insane. But I saw much of it there on Okinawa and to the me the war was insanity."
WITH THE OLD BREED does not concern itself with a the strategic and tactical campaign of the Pacific Island hopping campaign. Rather, it is a a fascinating portrait of an ordinary young man's baptism under fire -- a first hand narrative of an ordinary young man's extraordinary bravery on a few remote Islands in the Pacific Ocean. No W.W.II library is complete without this book. Highly recommended.


A Blake Dictionary: General Index: The Ideas and Symbols of William Blake
A Blake Dictionary: General Index: The Ideas and Symbols of William Blake
von Morris Eaves
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 26,10

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5.0 von 5 Sternen An essential reference work for Blake scholarship., 8. Juni 2000
Prophet? Madman? Or philosopher? The mythological characters in William Blake's prophetic poetry present a conundrum for the reader who confronts these characters with the traditional literary expectations of a symbolic reading. Indeed, the vanguard of contemporary criticism would argue that the very complexity of Blake's mythology precludes an all inclusive schemata.
Yet S. Foster Damon's A BLAKE DICTIONARY offers compelling testament that there was methodology in Blake's madness. In addition to providing a detailed enunciation of virtually every character in Blake's poetry, Damon further offers an exposition of the major themes and symbols which Blake repeatedly returned to in his longer prophetic works. Along with both Northrop Frye's FEARFUL SYMMETRY and David Erdman's PROPHET AGAINST EMPIRE, Damon's meticulously cross-referenced dictionary is an essential reference work for anyone who dares delve into Blake's complex mythology.


The Complete Guide to the Music of Van Morrison
The Complete Guide to the Music of Van Morrison
von Patrick Humphries
  Taschenbuch

4.0 von 5 Sternen Highly recommended for both new and old fans alike., 6. Juni 2000
Patrick Humphries' concise CD sized booklet lives up to its name. It is highly recommended for both new and old fans alike.
Humphries' review of Morrison's albums will provide an excellent starting point for the neophyte Van fan who may well be overwhelmed by the abundance of choices in the back catalogue of Van Morrison.
The seasoned Van fan will likewise enjoy (and more than likely disagree!) with Humphries' knowledgeable critique of the albums.


Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany
Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany
von William L. Shirer
  Taschenbuch

5.0 von 5 Sternen A riveting, spellbounding investigation of unmitigated Evil., 15. April 2000
This very readable history is indispensable in understanding the political psychosis which propelled a self-styled Fuehrer to fashion, with horrifying consequences, a Third Reich which came close to achieving total domination of Europe (and perhaps even the world itself.)
Shirer witnessed first hand Hitler's consolidation of political power in the dying days of the Weimar Republic and likewise the grim aftermath of postwar ravaged Europe.
Shirer's impassioned recognition and denunciation of pure, unmitigated Evil may be out of fashion in our ironical, postmodern age, but his first hand experience with Nazi Germany lends a moral authority to his critique and, along with his meticulous documentation of Nazi archives, is the book's main strength.
Sadly, in the fifty some odd years since Hitler's defeat, the capacity for evil and the appetite for mass destruction still burns within human hearts. THE RISE AND FALL OF THE THIRD REICH should be essential reading for a new century and a new millennium. As Shirer writes in the foreword:
"In our age of terrifying, lethal gadgets, which supplanted so swiftly the old one, the first great aggressive war, if it should come, will be launched by suicidal little madmen pressing an electronic button. Such a war will not last long and none will ever follow it. There will be no conquerors and no conquests, but only the charred bones of the dead on an uninhabited planet."


Celtic Crossroads: The Art of Van Morrison (Sanctuary Music Library)
Celtic Crossroads: The Art of Van Morrison (Sanctuary Music Library)
von Brian Hinton
  Taschenbuch

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4.0 von 5 Sternen *CELTIC CROSSROADS* is a lucid critical biography., 28. Januar 1998
Brian Hinton's *CELTIC CROSSROADS* is one of the most lucid and comprehensive critical biographies available on the enigmatic Irish singer and songwriter. The title of Hinton's book is an allusion to both the ethnic roots f the Irish singer and the singer's love of American Blues music.
Hinton's encylopedic knowledge of rock 'n roll music provides a well-researched query into Morrison's every expanding discography. Especially noteworthy is Hinton's critical commentary on almost every individual song on each Morrison album. The main strength of Hinton's biography is the author's ability to put Morrison's creative output into a cultural context.
Indeed, if the book has a failing, it is Hinton's proclivity to get lost in a tangential dicussion which only illuminates his knowledge of pop music, not the music of Morrison. In one chapter, he connects Morrison's music to bands as divergent in style as Yes, the Sex Pistols, and,(as humorist Dave Barry would say)I'm not making this up, the Spice Girls!
The new Van Morrison fan may thus be better served by Steve Turner's lavishly illustrated *VAN MORRISON: TOO LATE TO STOP NOW*. However, the extensive bibliography, discography, and filmography make Hinton's book a necessity for any Morrison fan who wishes to delve deeper into the music of this iconoclastic artist.


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