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The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood
The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood
von David Simon
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 12,08

5.0 von 5 Sternen Dante's "Inferno" transported to West Baltimore, 29. Juli 2000
There should be a sign posted at the corner of Fayette and Monroe Streets that reads "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here". David Simon and Edward Burns take the reader on a Dantean trip through hell, leading us into the world of a drug-infested neighborhood in Baltimore. Here we meet Fat Curt, who keeps on keeping on until his body, ravaged from years of drug abuse, gives out; Ella Thompson, who never gave up on the neighborhood and its inhabitants; Gary and Fran, who threw the rich promise of their lives away on drugs, and their son DeAndre, a manchild who may never reach the promised land. Burns and Simon get us intricately involved in the lives of their subjects; and while we may react with disgust at Gary keeping on a straight course aimed at hitting rock bottom, we also feel sympathy and respect for Fran, who manages to get back up every time after she falls down. Above all, we feel the despair and disillusionment of the young people who learn from a very early age that to the rest of America, their lives have no meaning. What do these youngsters, left for the most part to raise themselves while their parents are strung out on drugs and living for nothing but their next hit, have to look forward to, when their role models are drug pushers and stickup men? Simon and Burns have been criticized for not offering answers, which would have lent an upbeat tone to this book. The criticism is beside the point. They have no answers and don't pretend to. Their aim is to show the reader how this country's "anti-drug program" is lacking in coherence, goals, or any kind of common sense, and in this they succeed admirably. What would have lent additional interest to this book is some exploration of how some of the people of the Corner, despite every strike being against them, manage to make positive lives for themselves when others try and fail, and some never seem to try at all: why is DeAndre still headed downhill when Preston, his friend and partner in crime, turned his life around, married, found a job, and moved his family out of the neighborhood? Why has Blue, an old Corner hand, stayed clean for three years when so many of his friends have died from drugs? How did Tyreeka, giving birth to DeAndre's son at age 14, manage to avoid another out of wedlock pregnancy, finish high school and look forward to college? And where has Fran found the strength to keep trying to get clean and stay clean when an overdose put Gary into a coffin? We can only pray that Fran stays straight this time, that DeAndre pulls his life out of the tailspin it has been going in, and that this country finally develops a meaningful drug policy that will offer some hope and some real assistance to the drug fiends on all of the nation's Corners.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
von J. K. Rowling
  Gebundene Ausgabe

5.0 von 5 Sternen He's ba-a-a-ack!, 13. Juli 2000
It's long... it's pivotal... and yes, it lives up to every inch of the interminable hype. "Goblet of Fire" brings back Voldemort with all his loathsome powers intact, but Harry's learned some new tricks and he's going to need all of them. The series takes a more mature turn in Book Four; it isn't all fun and quidditch by a long shot any more. It should be interesting to see how story plays out in the three books still to come. J.K. Rowling must have wizard blood somewhere in her background; she has captured all our imaginations with a series of books that have become instant and enduring classics since the day of their publication. She's going to have a hard time topping this one, but I have a sneaking suspicion she'll do it once again... and again... and again.


Crazy for Cornelia
Crazy for Cornelia
von Chris Gilson
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 23,28

4.0 von 5 Sternen A funny, goofy and touching love story, 27. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Crazy for Cornelia (Gebundene Ausgabe)
She is an upper-class WASP with a social conscience and a passion for the unsung 19th Century genius Nikola Tesla, the inventor of AC electricity who was defrauded from presenting free electrical power as his gift to the world by big-money interests representing plain old-fashioned greed. He is an Irish-American doorman with a passion for neon sculpture (picture, if you can do it with a straight face, a neon Saint Sebastian shot full of arrows). From such disparate backgrounds do great love stories grow. Kevin and Cornelia are two lonely young people, both having lost their mothers to freak accidents, both looking for love and finding each other. Cornelia's father is Chester Lord, of the great old-money firm Lord & Co., and she is engaged to Tucker Fisk, her father's young partner, who gives a whole new definition to the word "smarmy". Tucker is out to make "30 by 30", meaning $30 million by his 30th birthday, and means to engineer this feat by a hostile takeover of his prospective father-in-law's corporation. Gilson knows how to hold our interest, and he keeps us turning pages wanting to know how Kevin is going to save the day and rescue Cornelia and her father's corporation from Tucker's evil clutches. Gilson has a wry sense of humor and he has thoroughly researched his topic; he knows whereof he writes. This is a highly successful and very enjoyable first novel. I'm looking forward to his next one.


Atlas Shrugged
Atlas Shrugged
von Ayn Rand
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 17,33

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Stop the world, I wanna get off, 23. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Atlas Shrugged (Taschenbuch)
I once came across a notice on a church bulletin board that read: "If you need a helping hand, check out the end of your sleeve." I don't know where they took that quote from, but it could have come straight out of Ayn Rand. Whether or not you agree with Rand's politics or her philosophy, you have to admit she is one terrific storyteller. Rand gives us a world set in a decade we can only guess at, in which the nations have become "People's States" and the United States has grown bloated and ineffectual with the code of "collective responsibility". Standing agianst the coming crash are a few intrepid industrialists whose philosophy is from each according to his ability, to each according to his output, never mind his needs; led by the enigmatic figure of John Galt, who threatens to stop the motor of the world -- and does. Rand has come down as an apostle of selfishness and her socialistic villains are so evil as to defy belief; but she makes a convincing case for the need for people to think and act for themselves rather than surrender their brains and their integrity to a governmental authority. The sheer size of this book has intimidated some readers, but Rand knows how to capture our interest and hold onto it through almost twelve hundred pages. You may not agree with all of her premises, but she has combined some interesting characters and a fascinating plot into a really great book.


To Kill a Mockingbird (Rough Cut Edition)
To Kill a Mockingbird (Rough Cut Edition)
von Harper Lee
  Gebundene Ausgabe

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5.0 von 5 Sternen A contemporary classic for all time, 6. Mai 2000
What do you do when you sit down to write a book and get it absolutely perfect the first time? Unfortunately, you never write another one... I guess anything that came after "To Kill A Mockingbird" would have been anticlimax. As it is, Harper Lee will be forever remembered for writing one of the greatest books of the 20th century. "To Kill A Mockingbird" is a deceptively simple story of a lawyer in a small southern town in the early 1930's, acting with principle and conscience in defending a black man from a bogus charge of raping a white girl. Atticus Finch is a single father, a country lawyer, a figure of towering integrity, struggling to raise his two young children alone and instill in them a basic sense of fairness and decency while their town is almost swallowed up by the ugliness of racism and bigotry that the trial sets loose. Harper Lee tells her story through the eyes of six year old Scout Finch, one of the most irresistable characters of modern fiction, who is forced, along with her ten year old brother, to learn more than they want to know about some of their near friends and neighbors, while discovering the intrinsic decency deep down in most people, when you finally get to know them. In plain language and with a wry sense of understatement, Harper Lee catches us up in her book until it becomes a part of us we can't bear to put down. I have read TKAM more times than I can count, and it has lost none of its magic since the first time I opened it. Thank you Harper Lee, for leaving this magnificent gift to the world.


Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics)
Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics)
von Michael Mason
  Taschenbuch

5.0 von 5 Sternen A romantic classic for all time, 3. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics) (Taschenbuch)
I read this book in junior high school and, like so many other girls, fell head over heels in love with Mr. Rochester; after all this time, the book is still a terrific read. The first part is classic Cinderella with an interesting twist. Jane is an orphan who is abused and mistreated by her rich and evil stepmother and her nasty cousins; unlike Cinderella, Jane stands up age age 10 and fights back. She is promptly shunted off to a school for girls from poor families, where she spends the next eight years. Needing a change of scene and environment, she answers an advertisement for a governess and enters the household of Mr. Rochester. Rochester, however, is no Prince Charming; he's 17 or 18 years older than Jane, hard, bitter, cynical, selfish, and, unknown to all but a few, encumbered with a wife who is the prototype of the "mad wife in the attic". Rochester is a romantic at heart, however; he is captivated by Jane's innocence and simplicity. We all know how the book comes out so there is no sense in rehashing the plot; suffice to say that Bronte is a marvelous storyteller. The one problem I have with Jane Eyre is the same that arises in Bronte's other books, and that is her stifling insularity; she seems unable to find value in anything that outside her own narrow, English Protestant frame of reference. However, this is a small caveat in this book. "Jane Eyre" is a classic romantic novel that has entranced generations of readers and looks good for generations to come.


Color Purple
Color Purple
von Alice Walker
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 16,42

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5.0 von 5 Sternen A powerful, uplifting book, 3. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Color Purple (Gebundene Ausgabe)
"The Color Purple" is one of the strongest statements of how love transforms and cruelty disfigures the human spirit that this reviewer has ever read. Alice Walker gives us Celie, 14 years old when the book opens, who has been raped, abused, degraded and twice impregnated by her stepfather. After he takes her children away from her without a so much as a word, he marries her off like a piece of chattel to her husband, who is so cold, distant and inhuman to her that she can only refer to him as Mr; and this person deprives her of her sister Nettie, the only one who ever loved her. Celie manages to survive by living one day at a time. Her life is a series of flat, lifeless panoramas painted in browns and grays. Into this existence, if you can call it that, comes Shug Avery, her husband's mistress, who shows Celie her own specialness and uniqueness. A lot has been made about lesbianism in this book and all of it is beside the point. Celie isn't a lesbian, she is a human being in need of love and Shug Avery helps Celie realize that she is somebody worth loving and caring about. When Celie hurls her defiance into Mr's face -- "I'm poor, I'm black, I may be ugly... but I'm here", she is making an affirmation not only to him, but to the whole world; the reader can only say, along with Shug Avery, "Amen". When Celie finds the strength to leave Mr, he is left to face the reality of himself and what he sees isn't pretty; his transformation humanizes him and allows Celie to call him Albert, recognizing him as a person, as he finally recognizes her as one. The final chapter, in which Celie is reunited with her sister, makes many readers go through half a box of Kleenex, but Walker doesn't play cheap with the reader's emotions; she has a powerful story to tell and she tells it with such consummate skill and sensitivity that she brings us into it and makes it ours. This is a book to be treasured and read over and over again.


The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Penguin Classics)
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Penguin Classics)
von Anne Brontë
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 6,80

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5.0 von 5 Sternen The Forgotten Sister, 27. April 2000
Anne is the Bronte we never read in school and most of us don't read afterwards, which is a big loss for those who don't, because she's at least as talented as her two older sisters. "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" can hold its own against "Jane Eyre" or "Wuthering Heights" any day in the week, but it was panned in its own time, in large part because of its "unladylike" topic of alcoholism. Anne Bronte knew alcoholism first hand through her brother Bramwell who drank himself to death, and her revulsion of the alcoholic personality is central to this book. The heroine of "Tenant", Helen Graham, is a headstrong and independent young woman, who marries Arthur Huntington against the advice of her family. She is one of those who loves not wisely but too well, because Arthur, a selfish and irresponsible womanizer, cares about nothing but satisfying his own wishes and desires. Helen wants to help Arthur turn his life around, which Arthur couldn't care less about, and his drinking and adultery right under her nose eventually repels her to the point where she despises him as much as she once loved him. It is only when she sees him attempting to influence her young son to become a chip off the old block, that she realizes her responsibility as a mother to save her son from his father trumps her duty as a wife to stand by her husband. With the help of her brother, she runs away with her son to the anonymity of life in a small village. Here she meets Gilbert Markham, who falls in love with her, but realizes that their relationship has no future as long as her husband is alive. Arthur's ultimate death from alcoholism not only frees Helen from an abusive and degrading marriage, it also leaves her free to find happiness with Gilbert. Anne Bronte pulled no punches in writing this book and that is probably what so perturbed readers of her own era; too bad for them, because they were unable to appreciate this book for what it is, one of the unrecognized classics of English literature.


Walking With Dinosaurs: A Natural History
Walking With Dinosaurs: A Natural History
von DK Publishing
  Gebundene Ausgabe

5.0 von 5 Sternen The Age of the Dinosaurs brought to life, 21. April 2000
If you're interested in dinosaurs -- and who isn't -- you will be blown away by this magnificent book. It's a great companion volume to the TV special on the Discovery Channel, and a terrific book on its own. The text is well written, informative, and comprehensive to us lay readers, and the pictures of dinosaurs are so real that you almost forget they are computer-generated images; they look ready to walk right off the pages into your living room. I especially liked that along with the more familiar standbys such as Diplodocus, Stegosaurus and Tyrannosaurus, Tim Haines introduces us to dinosaurs most of us didn't know about before, such as Placerias and Postosuchus from the early Triassic period; Ankylosaurus, who could knock a Tyrannosaurus bowlegged; and Liopleurodon, a marine monster who looks like he could chomp a small whale in half and finish off with a couple of great white sharks for dessert. Haines presents the argument for warm-blooded dinosaurs very convincingly and his theory is backed by the recent discovery of a four-chambered fossilized dinosaur heart in South Dakota. He presents the dinosaurs not as museum fossils but as living beings who breathed, ate, slept, excreted, reproduced, and survived attack, and where the evidence is scant, his suggestions for filling in the blanks are so rational that we feel we are sharing a typical day in the life of a prehistoric animal. The photographs of the natural environment the dinosaurs lived in help bring the whole era to life. The final pages, which describe the crash-landing in the Caribbean of the asteroid that terminated the Mesozoic era, are written so vividly that we can almost visualize the flash of light in the distant horizon and feel the shock wave that spread over most of the earth and ended the age of the dinosaurs. This is a wonderful book for the whole family which will be read and referred to over and over again.


People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil
People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil
von M. Scott Peck
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 11,89

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3.0 von 5 Sternen "Evil" as a clinical diagnosis, 25. März 2000
Richard Peck's bestselling book "The Road Less Travelled" seemed to make the assumption that people need a healthy dose of God to keep their psyches in sync. "People of the Lie" makes a case for the influence of the Devil. I have heard a highly respected psychiatrist differentiate between people who are "sick" and those who are just "mean"; i.e., those who get a genuine pleasure out of hurting and demeaning other people. Peck writes about this latter group and suggests that these people could use a good exorcism to get the Devil out of their systems. Peck's case studies are interesting and a couple of them seem to be truly diabolical in the way they think and act; but I have a problem with his approach on two levels: his attempt to create a synthesis of religion and psychiatry often leads him into some very muddled thinking, and his paternalistic approach to his patients is so patronizing as to be downright insulting; one wonders if he would like to spank his patients for misbehaving. The clinical study of evil, if it exists as an entity, is an important and fascinating one, but it will take someone with more depth and balance than Peck to really bring it about.


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