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The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution (Hardcover)


Review
"This is a magnificent book of wonderstanding: Richard Dawkins combines an artist's wonder at the virtuosity of nature with a scientist's understanding of how it comes to be.'' -- Matt Ridley, author of Nature via Nurture

"'There is grandeur in this view of life,' said Darwin, speaking of evolution. There is no one better qualified to convey this grandeur than his worthy successor, Richard Dawkins, who writes with passion, clarity, and wit. This may be his best book yet." -- V. S. Ramachandran

"To call this book a defense of evolution utterly misses the point: The Greatest Show on Earth is a celebration of one of the best ideas humans have ever produced. It is hard not to marvel at Richard Dawkins's luminous telling of the story of evolution and the way that it has shaped our world. In reading Dawkins, one is left awed at the beauty of the theory and humbled by the power of science to understand some of the greatest mysteries of life." -- Neil Shubin, author of Your Inner Fish

"Up until now, Richard Dawkins has said everything interesting that there is to say about evolution -- with one exception. In The Greatest Show on Earth, he fills this gap, brilliantly describing the multifarious and massive evidence for evolution -- evidence that gives the lie to the notion that evolution is 'only a theory.' This important and timely book is a must-read for Darwin Year." -- Jerry Coyne, author of Why Evolution Is True

"This is the book Richard Dawkins needed to write and many need to read -- a comprehensive account of evolution that faces the difficulties and questions his critics have raised. In it he draws on his great ability to write about science in a way that is clear, absorbing, and vivid." -- Lord Harries of Pentregarth (formerly Bishop Richard Harries)

"With characteristic flair and passion, Dawkins has put on a stunning exhibition of the evidence for evolution. In his own words, 'Evolution is a fact...and no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it.'" -- Dr. Alice Roberts, biological anthropologist, author, and broadcaster

"'...he is an awesome thinker, a superb writer whose explanatory skills I envy, who dismisses his opponents with the thoroughness of a top silk'....A beautifully crafted and intelligible rebuttal of creationism and intelligent design." -- The Times

"Dawkins gathers up the weight of evidence into a huge lump and hurls it at us from the highest heights his rhetoric can scale...his grandness of vision still dazzles."-- The Sunday Telegraph

Evolution is a Fact and Dawkins Proves it!, September 23, 2009
By John W. Loftus (Indiana)


Usually authors will start out their writing careers making a general case on behalf of something, and then later deal with the specific objections as they arise. But not Richard Dawkins. As the leading prolific evolutionary author in our generation he finally got around to writing the book that many authors would've written first, this one. Since up until now he has not set forth the evidence for evolution as a whole, he calls this book "my missing link" in his chain of books, and it's long overdue.

Taking the title from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Dawkins begins by asking us to imagine what it would be like to be a European history teacher who is "continually faced with belligerent demands to give equal time" in his classes to Holocaust deniers. To him that would be what it's like to teach the scientific fact of evolution around the world, especially in America, where 40% of us deny that humans evolved from other animals and who claim instead we were all created as distinct species not more than 10,000 years ago. Just like the Holocaust deniers these people are "history-deniers" too. The antidote to that kind of ignorant thinking is this present work, which presents "the positive evidence that evolution is a fact" (p.6). Many bishops and theologians embrace evolution as a fact, even if some of them accept it begrudgingly.

Who is he trying to reach? The creationist "history-deniers" themselves, but more importantly those who find themselves inadequately prepared to argue the case for evolution (p. 8).

He claims: "Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt evolution is a fact. The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eyewitnesses to the Holocaust. It is the plain truth that we are cousins of chimpanzees, somewhat more distant cousins of monkeys, more distant cousins still of aardvarks and manatees, yet more distant cousins of bananas and turnips...continue the list as long as desired...It didn't have to be true, but it is. We know this because a rising flood of evidence supports it. Evolution is a fact, and this book will demonstrate it. No reputable scientist disputes it, and no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it." (pp. 8-9).

These are very large claims he's making. Are they justified? Yes, I think so. I challenge the creationists to place this comprehensively argued book, which is illustrated by many diagrams and glossy full colored pictures, next to what a few ancient superstitious people wrote in the Bible and see which one makes the most sense. My bet is that if believers are truly interested in the facts they will see evolution is indeed a fact.

Dawkins knows how to communicate, he knows where to begin his case with dog breeding, and he knows science. It's practically all here within the pages of this book. The reason why we don't see evolutionary change is because it takes place slowly over generations, but dog breeders can do it quickly and efficiently. "Every breed of dog," Dawkins writes, "from dachshund to Dalmatian, from boxer to borzoi, from poodle to Pekinese, from Great Dane to Chihuahua, has been caved, chiseled, kneaded, moulded, not literally as flesh and bone but in its gene pool....The relevance to natural evolution is that, although the selecting agent is man and not nature, the process is otherwise the same." (p. 34).

With regard to flowers, birds and insects make these changes rather than humans, naturally, not artificially: "Hummingbird eyes, hawk-moth eyes, butterfly eyes, hoverfly eyes, bee eyes are critically cast over wild flowers, generation after generation, shaping them, colouring them, swelling them, patterning and stippling them, in almost exactly the same way as human eyes later did with our garden varieties; and with dogs, cows, cabbages and corn." (p. 52). And he asks us: "If so much evolutionary change can be achieved in just a few centuries or even decades, just think what might be achieved in ten or a hundred million years?" (p. 37).

To believers who object that the earth isn't old enough Dawkins marshals overwhelming evidence that it is billions of years old, along with evidence piled upon still more evidence to show evolutionary development of life on earth is indeed the greatest show on earth, and he is clearly in awe of it.

There are a few great books on evolution but this is a superior book long overdue by today's leading communicator of science. You should get it and think through it, especially if you're a "history-denier." Face the evidence and then change your beliefs. It's the intellectually honest thing to do. Then you too will thank Dawkins like so many of us have for his writing in these areas.

Dawkins does it again, September 22, 2009
By WHM (Amsterdam)


Evolution is an inescapable fact, and we should celebrate its astonishing power, simplicity and beauty, as Richard Dawkins notes in this marvelously titled book, the latest addition to his already impressive list of books on evolution.

Do we really need yet another "evidence for evolution" book? Well, yes we do. If only because of the alarmingly large number of educated people (especially in the United States) who hold virulent anti-evolution sentiments and prefer a supernatural, "intelligent design" explanation for the key questions in biology. But will the "history-deniers" read Dawkins? Leaving creationists and ID proponents aside, many people misunderstand evolution as a long chain of events that shape simple forms into more complex ones, rather than the branching and extinction of lineages. Therefore, open-minded readers should welcome yet another popular book on evolutionary biology, particularly if it has such a breadth and is so very well written as Dawkins'. As a teacher and communicator of science, Dawkins remains unsurpassed.

The "Greatest Show on Earth" is an ambitiously large survey of evolutionary biology; more than 400 pages (plus many color photos) one long argument for why evolution is a firmly-based scientific explanation, a fact. Even for those who accept the evidence for evolution, Dawkins' book is a stimulating and refreshing read; not least because of its conversational yet authorative tone (although Dawkins can't help but to lash out at religion here and there, it certainly is not an anti-religion book like "The God Delusion"). As one reviewer noted: if Charles Darwin would want to know how his theory had fared in the 21th century, this is the book he should read. My own first recommendation, however, would be Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution Is True. The latter book is equally well written and informative, but more concise and focused. What's more, Coyne is less polemical than Dawkins (BTW, Dawkins praises Coyne's book in his first chapter).

Dawkins covers the science in a rather standard fashion. The Galápagos islands, transitional fossils, embryology, artificial breeding, anatomy, etc., it's all there. Which is fine, of course. But those who are looking for a primer on the latest insights into evolutionary biology won't find it here. I would have liked to see more emphasis on the awesome power of molecular genetics in demonstrating evolution as an established fact. After all, the evidence in molecular biology is even more compelling than the fossil record (but, admittedly, more difficult to explain to lay persons). As an accompanying book, I would therefore recommend Sean Carroll's The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution, which focuses on how DNA directs the evolutionary process.

I'm puzzled why Dawkins chose not to mention the new insights into the molecular evolution of the eye. He discussed eye evolution at length in "The Blind Watchmaker" - as did Darwin in "The Origin of Species" - and it remains a favorite topic of the ID crowd. But astounding genetic findings have revolutionized the eye evolution field: the animal eye, from fruitfly to man, was "invented" only once during evolution. Darwin would have been thrilled! Dawkins could have scored a strong point here. A missed opportunity.

That being said, one can only hope that this book will convert at least some creationists and ID advocates; that the scales will fall from their religious eyes. But I have my doubts. To quote biologist Tom Tregenza: The fact that Darwin's theory makes so many predictions, none of which has ever been falsified, makes it easy to make a further prediction: it is only a matter of time before the ID proponents make it a fundamental tenet of their ideology that the pattern of life has been made that way specifically to fool biologists. In which case, evolutionists can take comfort in knowing that the creator specifically had THEM in mind at every step of the process.

Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth (Paperback)


Interesting and very different, July 25, 2009
By P. Wung "Engineering is my vocation, volleyba... (Tipp City, OH USA)


I am a big fan of Doxiadi's book on Goldbach conjecture :Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture: A Novel of Mathematical Obsession.

This book is very different, in manifold ways. The previous book was a novel wrapped around a mathematical idea. In the process of telling a story, Doxiadis explained the mathematical problem. It was pretty straight forward - not the problem, the approach. But this book is a tutorial on logic, a historical review of the most dramatic development in logic, a chronological synopsis of how higher mathematics, philosophy and logic became intertwined and coupled. AND, the book did this in a comic book format. The approach is, of course very ambitious. The question then is: was it successful?

This may seem cowardly, but it does echo the book's conclusion: it is really up to the reader.

The book poses the question early on: pure logic will lead a rational person to a right conclusion to a difficult moral problem, in this case, whether Britain should enter into WWII against Hitler. The entire book then is predicated upon the literary mechanism to introduce a wide spanning discourse on the development of 20th century logic, the narrative is taken through all of its twists and turns by the narrator in the form of Bertrand Russell, with occasional self referencing vignettes of the writing and drawing teams of this book.

Russell is a natural choice, and his life in the higher altitude work in philosophy and mathematics really fits in nicely with the history of the logical arguments. His work, Principia Mathematica - Volume One with Lord Whitehead was also seminal in much of the breakthroughs that followed. The narratives are carried on through conversations with some of the most colorful people in the European philosophical, and mathematical intelligentsia: Frege, Cantor, Wittgenstein, the Vienna, Hilbert, Poincare, and Godels. But, relying on the words of these heavy hitters to carry through the dense and complex ideas is a difficult proposition for the reader because the heavy hitters tend also to have heavy and dense writings, so the authors have thoughtfully provided brief respites featuring the comic book counterparts of the actual writers and animators working on the book, and a welcome respite it is, this mechanism saved the readers from some heavy duty mental headaches and gnashing of teeth.

So, after all that work, we return to the original question: were the authors successful? I think they were, by and large, but once again, it is up to the reader to decide because the depths to which the message is delivered depends very much on the reader's depths of understanding of the problems described and the reader's familiarity with the literature. The tutorial on the philosophical works, particularly the Principia and Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (Routledge Classics) was very good, the authors did manage to explain some very important and dense material very cleanly and concisely. As for resolving the central problem, actually the argument used to present all this philosophy was not so successful, but that is the nature of a philosophical discourse: most of them end without a black and white conclusion.

The book is very ambitious, it attacked a very large and complex piece of human thought by using a very untraditional means - the format nostalgically brought back to the days when I was religiously reading Classic Illustrated comic books when I was in my youth- it did a magnificent job of relaying the author's intent.

A nice intro to Russell's ideas, but a messy, rambling comic by committee, August 2, 2009
By Anonymous (USA)


While it's a pleasant and quick read, this book's execution hardly lives up to the promise of its brilliant and appealing concept (nor to its "epic" subtitle). Rather than a tightly structured comic-book intellectual biography of Bertrand Russell, this is a scattered mess of a book with too many (albeit quite promising) ideas and much too little successful execution. The book is simply trying to be too many things at once:

First, and most successfully, it wants to be an introduction to the "foundations" of mathematics, the early-20th-century efforts by philosophers and mathematicians to provide a firm axiomatic ground on which to establish a base for the higher-flown efforts of mathematics, which resulted in the development of mathematical logic and thus eventually led to the digital computer. The book gives even a lay reader enough little nuggets of this field to pique their interest, though often it doesn't explain in much depth. And the exposition does sometimes come off a bit condescending, as if the authors didn't trust us to follow them into a truly complex field like set theory.

And, furthermore and far worse, the book often doesn't even try to take advantage of its format by developing the ideas in image form -- instead it gives page after solid page of hastily-drawn panels of Russell (or the authors themselves!) lecturing the reader in massive word balloons, wasting all the opportunities afforded by its comic-book form. Still, had the book remained on the level of a "Russell for Beginners"-type introductory comic, it would have been a fair piece of work.

Second, the book is an intellectual biography of Bertrand Russell, the story of his life and of the development of his ideas. The problem here is that the authors are not very good at either part of the biographer's project, as they are neither experienced storytellers nor historians. They have consciously fudged many historical details, but have also (apparently unconsciously) introduced many small but glaring anachronisms of tone, language, and thought, making it difficult to suspend disbelief and to find their evocation of Russell's historical moment credible. And their psychological portrait of Russell, as well as of the supporting characters, tends toward condescending simplicity rather than interesting complexity or ambiguity, vastly oversimplifying even when they momentarily allude to the complications of Russell's several marriages, his pacifist politics, or his troubled relationships with family and with colleagues. And, as soon as each of these issues is raised, the book quickly marches on, usually with a dismissive remark about its irrelevance to Russell's ideas. A bit more credit should have been given both to the reader's intelligence and to the complexity of the biographical material; as it is, this scattered story could not even be recommended as a children's biography of a man as complicated as Russell.

Third, the book is a nonfiction "graphic novel," a nouveau comic book for smart people. But it is on this level that it fails the most completely, failing to integrate word and image or to use its comic form to any advantage. Despite the competent simplicity of Alecos Papadatos's art, the book shows its origins as a committee product with page after page of drawn talking heads below mammoth word balloons. The images often distract from the material being covered more than they illustrate it. And the authors' frequent self-insertions -- we often cut away from Russell's life to inserted scenes of their discussions about writing the book and about Russell -- are ham-fisted and annoying despite the authors' apparent conviction that this is clever and self-reflexive. When Art Spiegelman wrote himself and his own writing process into Maus, the formal innovation answered a necessity in the content -- the need to represent the remembering of his father's story rather than assuming a deceptive immediacy and a false transparency in its telling. Here, instead, the narratorial interventions distract from the book's content rather than meditating on it, and the interpretive disagreements among the committee of authors simply emphasize the book's scrambled, unfinished nature. Instead of a worked-out, formally coherent narrative about Russell, we get a series of snatches of his life, punctuated by inconclusive discussions of where to go next; it's like reading a first draft punctuated by notes from its editor. (Speaking of editing, the book's words badly need help from a stronger English writer; they are rife with Unnecessary Capitalization, "scare quotes," ellipses... and other signs of amateur writing. And Russell himself often speaks in glaring Americanisms, puncturing any suspension of disbelief.)

The less said of the philosophical side of the book, the better; its "expert" author-character is a theoretical computer scientist rather than a philosopher, and this shows through everywhere in its account of the importance of Russell and his colleagues, particularly in its ridiculously trivializing treatment of Wittgenstein. (E.g. the book's endnote on Wittgenstein claims that his Tractatus was somehow "vindicated" by the emergence of the digital computer, a truly bizarre and philosophically illiterate remark.) There are biographical and conceptual notes in the back of the book, a mini-encyclopedia that would be more appropriate in a For Beginners/Dummies-style textbook than this ostensibly story-driven piece, and while they're often interesting they seem unedited, un-peer-reviewed, and sometimes goofy and idiosyncratic in their account of the material. This makes it hard to recommend this book as an introduction to the basics of logic or the foundations of mathematics.

In short, the book tries to be too many things at once, and succeeds as none of them. It is neither a strong introduction to Russell's ideas, nor a worthwhile biography in condensed form, nor a successful piece of historical comic art. It's a pleasant enough read, but considering its ambition ultimately a disappointing one.

The Case for God [DECKLE EDGE] (Hardcover)


Review
Praise for Karen Armstrong’s The Case for God

“Karen Armstrong’s book is simply superb. Wide-ranging, detailed, well researched meticulously argued and beautifully written, it is a definitive analysis of the role of religious belief and transcendence in our history and our life.”
—Dr Robert Buckman, author of Can We Be Good without God?

“Karen Armstrong, in writing The Case for God, provides the reader with one of the very best theological works of our time. It brings a new understanding to the complex relationship between human existence and the transcendent nature of God. This is a book that is so well researched and so deep with insight and soaring scholarship that only Karen Armstrong could have written it. The Case for God should be required reading for anyone who claims to be a believer, an agnostic or an atheist.”
—The Right Reverend John Bryson Chane, D.D., Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Washington, D.C.

“No one is better qualified or more needed than Karen Armstrong to enter the hot public debate between believers and non–believers over the existence of God. Her latest book, eagerly awaited and received, rings out with the qualities she brings to all of her work—The Case for God is lucid, learned, provocative, and illuminating. Indeed, Armstrong once again does what she always does best by shining a clear light on the deepest mysteries of the religious imagination.”
—Jonathan Kirsch, author of The Harlot by the Side of the Road

“With characteristic command of subject and crispness, the prolific and redoubtable independent British scholar and former nun takes yet another run at the world’s religious history. . . . She’s conceptual, humanistic and exceedingly well-read. . . . [An] articulate and accessible sweep through intellectual history. The “unknowing” of the mystics has its virtues and its place, but being well-read and knowledgeable makes one powerful and persuasive book.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Celebrated religion scholar Armstrong creates more than a history of religion; she effectively demonstrates how the West (broadly speaking) has grappled with the existence of deity and captured the concept in words, art and ideas. . . . A brilliant examination. . . . [An] accessible, intriguing study of how we see God.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“The new book by premier contemporary historian of religion is a history of God. . . . Presenting difficult ideas with utter lucidity, this registers at once as a classic of religious and world history.”
—Ray Olson, Booklist (starred review)

“Armstrong offers a tour de force. . . . Highly recommended for readers willing to grapple with difficult but clearly articulated concepts and challenges to the ‘received’ ways of perceiving religion. A classic.”
—Carolyn M. Craft, Library Journal

“One of our best living writers on religion. . . . Prodigiously sourced, passionately written.”
—John Cornwell, Financial Times

“Karen Armstrong is one of [a] handful of wise and supremely intelligent commentators on religion. . . . As in so much of the rest of her hugely impressive body of work, Karen Armstrong invites us on a journey through religion that helps us to rescue what remains wise from so much that to so many . . . no longer seems true.”
—Alain de Botton, The Observer


Praise for Karen Armstrong

“Witty, informative, and contemplative: Ms. Armstrong can simplify complex ideas, but she is never simplistic.”
—Alexandra Hall, The New York Times Book Review

“Armstrong, with her astonishing depth of knowledge and readily accessible writing style, makes an ideal guide in traversing a subject that is by its very nature complex, sensitive and frequently ambiguous.”
—David Lazarus, San Francisco Chronicle

“Armstrong’s enviable capacity to summarize and explain . . . refreshes the understanding of what one knows, and provides a clear introduction to the unfamiliar.”
—Robert Runcie, The Weekend Telegraph

“Aloof and intelligent, she stands on the shore and gives a brilliantly lucid account of those capsizing, floundering and even drowning in the diving ocean. . . . Armstrong has a dazzling ability: she can take a long and complex subject and reduce it to its fundamentals, without over-simplifying.”
—Sister Wendy Beckett, The Sunday Times (London)

“Armstrong . . . writes with precision and lucidity, with an earnestness that keeps her from sounding smugly pedantic even in the midst of what is obviously a great deal of knowledge and insight.”
—Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune

“Arguably the most lucid, wide–ranging and consistently interesting religion writer today.”
—Laura Miller, Salon.com

Product Description
Moving from the Paleolithic age to the present, Karen Armstrong details the great lengths to which humankind has gone in order to experience a sacred reality that it called by many names, such as God, Brahman, Nirvana, Allah, or Dao. Focusing especially on Christianity but including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Chinese spiritualities, Armstrong examines the diminished impulse toward religion in our own time, when a significant number of people either want nothing to do with God or question the efficacy of faith. Why has God become unbelievable? Why is it that atheists and theists alike now think and speak about God in a way that veers so profoundly from the thinking of our ancestors?

Answering these questions with the same depth of knowledge and profound insight that have marked all her acclaimed books, Armstrong makes clear how the changing face of the world has necessarily changed the importance of religion at both the societal and the individual level. And she makes a powerful, convincing argument for drawing on the insights of the past in order to build a faith that speaks to the needs of our dangerously polarized age. Yet she cautions us that religion was never supposed to provide answers that lie within the competence of human reason; that, she says, is the role of logos. The task of religion is “to help us live creatively, peacefully, and even joyously with realities for which there are no easy explanations.” She emphasizes, too, that religion will not work automatically. It is, she says, a practical discipline: its insights are derived not from abstract speculation but from “dedicated intellectual endeavor” and a “compassionate lifestyle that enables us to break out of the prism of selfhood.”

Remarkable, fascinating, mindshifting,, September 22, 2009
By Student of Life (USA)


Karen Armstrong is able to do two things which are individually remarkable, and in combination perhaps unique.
- provide a credible, erudite, historical overview of all the main religions in a way that shows how they fit together. ie. the key ideas they have borrowed from each other
- do so in a way which is vivid, accessible and often inspiring.

Some religious readers will be shocked to discover that "their" religion is based on ideas that are far more widespread than they may have realized. And they may be uncomfortable that the God Armstrong is arguing for is not one actively involved in day-to-day human concerns, checking off prayer requests or directing the weather, but deeper, mysterious, perhaps ineffable. Some non-religious readers will be shocked by how compelling a case Armstrong makes for a religious mindset based, not so much on "belief" or "faith" but on spirituality and compassion. But all, if they approach this book with an open mind, are likely to emerge with a richer understanding of life's most important questions.

The Won Thing: The "One" Secret to a Totally Fulfilling Life (Paperback)


Product Description
What is the “one” secret to a successful, fulfilling life? Don’t we all want to know just that?

Best-selling author and goal-achievement expert Peggy McColl spent many years pondering that question and searching for the answer. Her driving curiosity took her from inspirational books to self-help workshops and lectures, as she absorbed the best advice from dozens of highly successful people, each of whom had their own ideas about the “one” secret. Like many people who are searching for a sense of purpose, Peggy looked outside herself for guidance. She learned a great deal, creating a better life for herself as she applied the wise teachings of others, yet true happiness eluded her until she finally realized what it actually was: everything she needed to know was within her already!
In this fascinating book, Peggy shares the lessons she learned during her journey of self-discovery, and will also show you how to discover and realize your own dreams. Her intention is to awaken you to your innate ability to create and enjoy the secret recipe for fulfillment: your Won Thing!


About the Author
Peggy McColl is an internationally recognized expert in the area of destiny achievement whose purpose is to make a positive contribution to the lives of millions of others. She has been inspiring individuals, experts, professional athletes, and organizations to reach their potential for the past 25 years. She is the president and founder of Dynamic Destinies Inc., an organization committed to delivering sound principles for creating lasting and positive change. Peggy lives in Quebec, Canada, with her son, Michel, and her husband, Denis.

What's YOUR Personal Recipe for Success?, September 3, 2009
By Janet Boyer "JanetBoyer.com" (Pennsylvania)


"We have the ability to create the circumstances of our lives. We don't have complete control over everything, but we also aren't as powerless as we may think. If we're looking for someone to do the work of changing our lives for us, trust me, it's not going to happen. We've got to rescue ourselves." - From The Won Thing

Is there a universal "one thing" that can bring joy, satisfaction and purpose to our lives?

According to Peggy McColl, there isn't. However, in her newest book The Won Thing, she provides seven hard-won lessons that can--when combined in a personal recipe--promote balance, fulfillment, and growth.

Like all of Peggy's books, The Won Thing is (deceptively) simple, straightforward, engaging, and illuminating. You get the sense that she truly cares about people, desiring that her readers gain the clarity, tools and methods they need to live their best life.

Here are but a few gems that I particularly enjoyed (and highlighted!) from this 167-page book:

* "The reason so many of us don't know our ambitions is because we're often not encouraged to discover what will give us a sense of meaning and fulfillment."

* "Once you believe that answers and resources can show up in your life, they will: The universe works to mirror your beliefs. It will prove you right every time."

* "...If we're not aligned to our purpose and try to conform to someone else's idea of what will fulfill us, we'll lose sight of what we value and experience frustration when problems won't go away."

* "You can ask the universe for anything, but the question is: are you willing to do what it takes to get what you want? While hard work and sacrifice are necessities for achieving any goal, never allow yourself to abandon your family, health, or well-being to attain it. If an ambition requires that sort of sacrifice, it's probably rooted in self-critical sentiments..."

* "Having a sense of purpose is knowing that what you're doing at any time is in perfect alignment with who you are, your values, and visions--which gives you grounding and guidance."

* "...Your recipe is going to be true to your own unique feelings, beliefs, and values. It's important to always remember that there's more than one way to be spiritual, give in service to others, or do anything in life."

Peggy McColl is one of my favorite authors and I find myself recommending her books to my clients quite often. (In fact, every time she comes out with a new book and it crosses my desk, I drop what I'm reading/reviewing and read what she has to say pronto!) She teaches the principles of the Law of Attraction in a practical and reasonable way, emphasizing that action and mindfulness are key components to creating states of abundance, openness, optimism, and well-being.

Like her previous books, I highly recommend The Won Thing, especially for readers unfamiliar with her work. If you're feeling out of balance and are much too hard on yourself, strive for stratospheric perfection, give out of obligation, or expect to be rescued, you need this book.

Also, if you tend to react rather than act, assume good things only happens to others (and resent them when it does) or think there's a single magic formula that will drop in your lap, you would benefit greatly from Peggy's encouraging wisdom in The Won Thing.

-- Janet Boyer, author of Back in Time Tarot

The Game of Life, August 31, 2009
By Blanche (Ontario)


When I read Peggy's book, I realized I was not alone in my desire to find the one thing that would make my life more
fulfilling. It was also nice to have a roadmap right in front of me from someone I admire immensely. I knew I had to start somewhere and this book of knowledge has given me the necessary tools to carry forward. Most important, I learned the "won" thing I need to make my life more meaningful is unique to me - therefore; I am the only one who can achieve this for myself. Thank you, Peggy, for sharing your experience with me so that I could follow your path and be the person I want to be. The game of life is ever changing and I am pleased to follow whatever path I need to obtain the results that are best suited to me. Congratulations on another book well done.

Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin (Hardcover)


Book Description

Official Book Club Selection is Kathy Griffin unplugged, uncensored, and unafraid to dish about what really happens on the road, away from the cameras, and at the star party after the show. (It’s also her big chance to score that coveted book club endorsement she’s always wanted. Are you there, Oprah? It’s me, Kathy.)
Kathy Griffin has won Emmys for her reality show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, been nominated for a Grammy, worked and walked every red carpet known to man, and rung in the New Year with Anderson Cooper. But the legions of fans who pack Kathy’s sold-out comedy shows have heard only part of her remarkable story. Writing with her trademark wit, the feisty comic settles a few old scores, celebrates the friends and mentors who helped her claw her way to the top, and shares insider gossip about celebrity behavior—the good, the bad, and the very ugly. She recounts the crazy ups and downs of her own career and introduces us to some of the supertalented people she encountered before they got famous (or, in some cases, after fame went to their heads). Word to the wise: If you’ve ever crossed Kathy Griffin at some point in your life, check the index for your name.

Along the way, Kathy reveals intimate details about her life before and after she made the big time. She opens up about everything from growing up with a dysfunctional family in suburban Illinois to bombing as a young comedian in L.A., from her well-publicized plastic surgery disasters to her highly publicized divorce, and more. Only in this book will you learn how the dinner table is the best training ground for a career in stand-up, how speaking your mind can bite you on the ass and buy you a house, and which people in Kathy’s life have taught her the most valuable lessons—both inside and outside the entertainment industry.

Refreshingly candid, unflinchingly honest, and full of hilarious “Did she really say that?” moments, Official Book Club Selection will make you laugh until you cry, or just puke up a little bit.

Official Fan, September 8, 2009
By Literate reader (Atlanta)


Call me a literary expert when it comes to celeb autobiographies since I've read a lot of them. But Kathy Griffin's goes way beyond what this genre usually offers, the rags to riches to rehab and/or back to rags or riches saga. KG's unlikely to ever go the rags route, (plastic surgery being her version of rehab) and she's far from poor little girl gone lost in the wacky game of Hollywood fame. And that's mostly because she's one of the most savvy, if not one of the smartest stars on the block, at least when it comes to show biz, an acquired skill set after years spent paying her dues. Her persona is truth stripper and that's what makes this official memoir work and heads above most of the polished nonsense that's out there. KG is a real person who actually has something to say beyond some narcissistic rendition of her "discovery" and ascent. She's had to push herself through a business that would otherwise find her easy to ignore. I recommend potential readers and book clubs everywhere first start reading the book backwards: check out the nifty reader's guide provided at the end as a clue that there's intellect, wit, politics, religion, romance, tragedy and plenty of gossip at work on these pages, which merit both careful reading and reading between the lines. One clue: in KGland, compliments can carry an edge. (Spoiler: Jerry Seinfeld)

Great Book!!! I bought the book and audio version, September 10, 2009
By Phillip Wells (Knoxville, TN USA)


Well, I bought Kathy's book yesterday and I stayed up all night reading it. Yes, I am a big fan of hers and so perhaps I am a little biased but why would you even be looking at this book if you weren't a fan of hers?

She successfully walks the line between serious autobiography and comedic book. Parts of it will rip your heart out while others will make you laugh out loud. I can't say that I love her more now than I did before but I do understand her a bit more. I can't wait to see her live again.

Since she talks so much in her act about her celebrity encounters don't expect any amazing revelations there. There were a few new stories (Steve Martin etc.) but for the most part it really chronicles her entire life and career and shows how hard she worked and the insanity she put up with to get to where she is now. Great stories about her early years with the Groundlings and her friends Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, Lisa Kudrow, Julia Sweeney, Jeaneane Garofolo, Margaret Cho and more. You are going to learn where and why she has the work ethic that she does. She never sold out, she did do it all her way.

I loved the book, like I said I read it in about 6 hours cover to cover. My only complaint is that there were no color pictures in the book like most typical biographies.

Also as an ex Los Angelino is was nice to hear her talking about my old stomping in grounds in West Hollywood and her adventures there. I also jumped on the back of a bike at the Carl's Jr on La Brea and Santa Monica OMG!!! Wonder if we banged the same guy!! HAH!!

BUY THE BOOK!!!

Say You're One of Them (Paperback)


Product DescriptionEach story in this jubilantly acclaimed collection pays testament to the wisdom and resilience of children, even in the face of the most agonizing circumstances.

A family living in a makeshift shanty in urban Kenya scurries to find gifts of any kind for the impending Christmas holiday. A Rwandan girl relates her family’s struggles to maintain a facade of normalcy amid unspeakable acts. A young brother and sister cope with their uncle’s attempt to sell them into slavery. Aboard a bus filled with refugees—a microcosm of today’s Africa—a Muslim boy summons his faith to bear a treacherous ride across Nigeria. Through the eyes of childhood friends the emotional toll of religious conflict in Ethiopia becomes viscerally clear.

Uwem Akpan’s debut signals the arrival of a breathtakingly talented writer who gives a matter-of-fact reality to the most extreme circumstances in stories that are nothing short of transcendent.

About the AuthorUwem Akpan was born in Ikot Akpan Eda in southern Nigeria. After studying philosophy and English at Creighton and Gonzaga universities, he studied theology for three years at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. He was ordained as a Jesuit priest in 2003 and received his MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan in 2006. My Parents’ Bedroom, a story from his short story collection, Say You’re One of Them, was one of five short stories by African writers chosen as finalists for The Caine Prize for African Writing 2007. Say You’re One of Them won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (Africa Region) 2009 and PEN/Beyond Margins Award 2009, and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. In 2007, Akpan taught at a Jesuit college in Harare, Zimbabwe. Now he serves at Christ the King Church, Ilasamaja-Lagos, Nigeria.

A beautiful, tragic collection, September 19, 2009
By Brooke Cunningh


I read this book a couple weeks ago and am pleased to see it added as Oprah's latest Book Club selection. Say You're One of Them is a collection of five short stories penned by Uwen Akpam, a Jesuit priest who studied creative writing at the University of Michigan. The stories are set in modern day Africa, and most are written from a child's perspective. The stories deal with very serious issues, such as genocide, race conflict, poverty, and slavery. Each account is a deeply moving depiction of individuals forced to struggle through oppressive life circumstances. Though tragic, the stories are deeply moving and transformative for the reader.

It's hard to do justice here to the significance of this book. I wept several times while reading it. Akpam was inspired to write by the people in his village church who would stay after Mass to share palm wine and reminisce about the best. Though fiction, the depth and heartbreak in these stories rings true. I feel deeply and fundamentally changed for the better after having read it.

I'm now reading Emotional Intelligence 2.0. It's outstanding and even uplifting (which I can sure use). If you have any interest in personal development, I recommend buying both books. Now I just need to figure out what I'm going to read next!

An unforgettable, beautiful, authentic and wise literary call to action, September 18, 2009
By Bookreporter.com (New York, New York)


Uwem Akpan is a Nigerian Jesuit priest and writing teacher living in Zimbabwe, and his stories are garnering much acclaim. Just a few pages into his debut collection, it is easy to see why. Beautiful and devastating, the five tales found in SAY YOU'RE ONE OF THEM are at once compelling and painful to read. All told from the narrative perspective of a child in crisis, they symbolize a continent in crisis as well. Set in African hot spots like Ethiopia and Rwanda, the stories revolve around themes of family and identity, religion and ethnicity, all complicated by violence, fear and poverty.

A destitute family in Nairobi inhales glue to stave off hunger and watches their 12-year-old daughter turn to prostitution in "An Ex-mas Feast." Two little girls in Ethiopia --- one Muslim, one Christian --- are best friends until religious tensions and riots in their city force them apart in "What Language is That?" Both these stories are short yet highly effective. The three remaining tales, however, are even more amazing and heartbreaking.

The nine-year-old girl at the center of "In My Parents' Bedroom" is forced to watch as the horrors and injustices of contemporary Rwanda play out in her house, each of her parents having to take opposing sides. In less than 30 pages, Akpan spins a brilliant tale that entrances and repulses, capturing the complexities of the situation and reminding readers that there are real lives at stake beyond this fiction.

In "Fattening for Gabon" two young siblings are being raised by a kindly and affectionate uncle as their parents lie dying of AIDS in their home village. Kotchipka and Yewa are spoiled and feasted by their uncle's new friends, but Kotchipka realizes that he and his sister are in grave danger and tries to resist their charms. By the end he knows he must fight for his own survival and that of his little sister, or be sold into slavery.

"Luxurious Hearses" is the story of a 16-year-old Muslim boy escaping from one end of Nigeria to the Christian region and the home of the father he has never known. Pretending to be a Christian, he finds himself stuck on a bus full of Catholics and Pentecostals, not to mention a tribal chief of the indigenous religion. As the stuffy, overcrowded bus sits and awaits its driver, wave after wave of tension ripple through it, threatening violence. Differing political views and beliefs find common ground in a hatred of Muslims, and Jubril --- far from his family and having been turned against by other Muslims --- must keep up his façade, all the while praying to Allah for help. The bus becomes a microcosm of a divided nation, and Jubril's internal exploration of identity and personal history is symbolic of the confusion, faith, hopes and fears of its citizens. Akpan takes readers on Jubril's fascinating journey and delivers a surprising and very memorable ending.

In each story Akpan uses language, often a broken but lyrical English, to show the similarities and differences between the diverse peoples of Africa. Because of this, along with powerful plots and sympathetic narrators, SAY YOU'RE ONE OF THEM is an unforgettable, beautiful, authentic and wise literary call to action. Akpan's book is highly recommended and will leave readers wanting more of his dark, carefully moralistic and quite extraordinary tales.

--- Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman

Alex Cross's TRIAL (Hardcover)


Product Description
Separated by time

From his grandmother, Alex Cross has heard the story of his great uncle Abraham and his struggles for survival in the era of the Ku Klux Klan. Now, Alex passes the family tale along to his own children in a novel he's written--a novel called Trial.

Connected by blood

As a lawyer in turn-of-the-century Washington D.C., Ben Corbett represents the toughest cases. Fighting against oppression and racism, he risks his family and his life in the process. When President Roosevelt asks Ben to return to his home town to investigate rumors of the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan there, he cannot refuse.

United by bravery

When he arrives in Eudora, Mississippi, Ben meets the wise Abraham Cross and his beautiful daughter, Moody. Ben enlists their help, and the two Crosses introduce him to the hidden side of the idyllic Southern town. Lynchings have become commonplace and residents of the town's black quarter live in constant fear. Ben aims to break the reign of terror--but the truth of who is really behind it could break his heart. Written in the fearless voice of Detective Alex Cross, Alex Cross's Trial is a gripping story of murder, love, and, above all, bravery.

About the Author
James Patterson is one of the bestselling writers of all time, with more than 160 million copies of his books sold worldwide. He is the author of the two most popular detective series of the past decade, featuring Alex Cross and the Women's Murder Club. He has won an Edgar Award--the mystery world's highest honor--and his novels Kiss the Girls and Along Came aSpider were made into feature films. His lifelong work to promote books and reading is reflected in his new Web site, ReadKiddoRead.com, which helps parents, grandparents, teachers, and librarians find the very best children's books for their kids. He lives in Florida.

Richard DiLallo is a former advertising creative director. He has had numerous articles published in major magazines. He lives in Manhattan with his wife.

Racism fuels the fires of the deep south in 1906., August 24, 2009
By Cla. Cage (aiding cancer research.)


It is hard to find authors as popular as James Patterson, and his Alex Cross books are at the epicenter. Let's remove the Patterson name for a moment and take an in-depth look at this newest novel. In 1906, race relations are being threatened; The war has just ended; Equality is still a foreign concept -- especially in the south. Theodore Roosevelt (the President of the USA) has placed an urgent call to Ben Corbett - a prestigious lawyer - summoning him to The White House. The President instructs Corbett to seek the aid of Abraham Cross in his home town of Mississippi, and together, investigate the outbreak of burning and lynching of minorities.

When he does arrive, it doesn't take him long to find Cross whom is being escorted by a beautiful young woman, Moody. Moody is Cross' grand daughter and together they show Corbett the true extent of the hate-filled assaults in a once peaceful town. While it does take Ben Corbett a while to accept the truth, he does finally come to realize just how dire the situation is. I'll stop there so I don't spoil the story for anyone whom has yet to read this brilliant novel. There are so many twists-and turns (the biggest being Abraham Cross - the grandfather of Alex) The racial overtones are done incredibly well, and while it is graphic at times, they do serve a greater purpose and keep the novel on track.

Now let's put the Patterson name back, and this good novel becomes great. Patterson is the master of suspense, intrigue, and lifellike characters that change and evolve the story to a level that only a very few authors can replicate. Do I really need to mention this? I mean seriously, if you don't know how good Patterson is...then that cave you live in must be nice and cozy. I'm joking. This latest novel to grace the Patterson name is an exciting thrill ride, that moves along at breakneck speeds and gives the reader a reason to place Patterson back on top of the genre. Well done. Well done, indeed.

Southern (Dis)Comfort, August 24, 2009
By Elliott (L.A.)


Alex Cross is a star in James Patterson's fiction universe. This book, co-authored by Richard Dilallo, looks at Alex's great-uncle, Abraham, who was born a slave in 1817. The story begins in 1906, when Abraham was 89, about forty years after slavery's demise. Abraham is poor and lives in the "Quarters," an African-American neighborhood in Eudora, Mississippi.

The central character in the book is Ben Corbett, a young white lawyer in Washington, D.C. He served as a captain in the Spanish-American War (1898) under Colonel Theodore Roosevelt. In 1906 Roosevelt, now President, sends his friend Ben on a secret mission to Eudora (Corbett's hometown) to study the recent epidemic of lynchings in the area. Roosevelt has arranged for Ben to meet the aforementioned Abraham Cross, a wise man who is well-respected in the black community. Abraham gives Ben vital assistance.

Although the authors do not use the term, "Jim Crow" had taken over the South by 1906. Jim Crow was a system of virtually complete segregation designed to humiliate African-Americans and enforce their status as second-class citizens. An integral part of Jim Crow was physical intimidation, including lynching. According to Wikipedia, between 1880 and 1951, 3,437 African-Americans were lynched, mostly in the Deep South.

Graphic descriptions of assaults, mob violence, and lynchings make up a big part of this book.

The novel opens when Ben returns to his hometown after an absence of six years. He finds that many of his former friends and neighbors are upset with his outspoken opposition to Jim Crow and lynching. He does, however, have some loyal friends, including Elizabeth Begley, Ben's first flame. Well, the fire is still there, although both Ben and Elizabeth have married others.

The book explores in depth the tension between Ben and the white residents of Eudora. Many of them come to despise Ben for his support of African-American equality. This group includes Ben's estranged father, a local judge, who ends up presiding at the book's centerpiece, the "trial" of three whites who murdered two people during a raid on Abraham Cross's home.

Ben becomes the subject of obscene taunts and insults. He is placed in grave peril.

This book does not approach the level of, say, To Kill a Mockingbird, a classic work with a similar theme. But Trial is still very interesting; it's a "page turner" of the sort perfected by Patterson, featuring short, fast-paced chapters. It deals with an important topic of which many Americans have limited knowledge. It kept me enthralled; I finished it in about twelve hours.

Several of the characters are painted with a very broad brush; they are either really good or horribly evil. More subtle portrayals would have strengthened the work. And, it seems to me the authors were trying to capture the authentic feel of a memoir by having the central figure, Ben Corbett, narrate the story. This tactic succeeded for the most part, but sometimes the book had an awkward air of melodrama.

Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know (Hardcover)


Review
"Discover why your dog is so sensitive to your emotions, gaze, and body language. Dogs live in a world of ever-changing intricate detail of smell. Read this captivating book and enter the sensory world of your dog." -- Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human

"Inside of a Dog is a most welcome authoritative, personal, and witty book about what it is like to be a dog. This engaging volume serves as a corrective to the many myths that circulate about just who our canine companions are. I hope this book enjoys the wide readership it deserves." -- Marc Bekoff, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals and Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals (with Jessica Pierce)

Product Description
What do dogs know? How do they think? The answers will surprise and delight you as Alexandra Horowitz, a cognitive scientist, explains how dogs perceive their daily worlds, each other, and that other quirky animal, the human.
Inside of a Dog is a fresh look at the world of dogs -- from the dog's point of view. As a dog owner, Horowitz is naturally curious to learn what her dog thinks about and knows. And as a scientist, she is intent on understanding the minds of animals who cannot speak for themselves.

In clear, crisp prose, Horowitz introduces the reader to dogs' perceptual and cognitive abilities and then draws a picture of what it might be like to be a dog. What's it like to be able to smell not just every bit of open food in the house but also to smell sadness in humans or even the passage of time? How does a tiny dog manage to play successfully with a Great Dane? What is it like to hear the bodily vibrations of insects or the hum of a fluorescent light? Why must a person on a bicycle be chased? What's it like to use your mouth as a hand? In short, what is it like for a dog to experience life from two feet off the ground, amidst the smells of the sidewalk, gazing at our ankles or knees?

Inside of a Dog explains these things and much more. The answers can be surprising -- once we set aside our natural inclination to anthropomorphize dogs. Inside of a Dog also contains up-to-the-minute research -- on dogs' detection of disease, the secrets of their tails, and their skill at reading our attention -- that Horowitz puts into useful context. Although not a formal training guide, Inside of a Dog has practical application for dog lovers interested in understanding why their dogs do what they do.

The relationship between dogs and humans is arguably the most fascinating animal-human bond because dogs evolved from wild creatures to become our companions, an adaptation that changed their bodies, brains, and behavior. Yet dogs always remain animals, familiar but mysterious. With a light touch and the weight of science behind her, Alexandra Horowitz examines the animal we think we know best but may actually understand the least. This book is as close as you can get to knowing about dogs without being a dog yourself.

Best Dog Book Ever, September 17, 2009
By Ettore Schmitz


As an avid reader of dog literature I approach each new entry in this field with a mix of trepidation and eagerness. Will it merely be a rehash of things I already know? Will it be a sophmoric jumble of memoir and whimsy? Or will this be the book that truly broadens my understanding of the world of canids? Inside of a Dog falls into the last category - plus some.
This book is hands down the finest exploration of canid intelligence that I have ever read. Horowitz writes with a crisp, almost puckish tone - it draws the reader in effortlessly. The book is a delightful blend of an examination of the latest developments in the world of scientific study of dog cognition, and Horowitz's own experiences with her dog as she became one of the scientists who study this animal.
She is one of those writers of whom you think that they could make anything seem interesting. It is to our benefit that she has chosen to do this with dogs.

It's good, but not fantastic. Not many spoilers in this review., September 17, 2009
By M. Carterette (Oakland, CA)


After having read this book weeks ago (advanced copy), I was left a little unsatisfied. I'd give it 3.5 stars if could.

It's more of a cursory glance at canine cognitive ethology rather than a definitive volume, but if you're looking for a good introductory to canine cognitive ethology, this would be a great starter. The anecdotes are sweet and the science is pretty good, and written in a way that the regular Joe Dog Guardian can read it without breaking his brain.

HOWEVER. There is one VERY glaring "scientific" experiment that I feel she used for a bad conclusion, a conclusion whose inclusion of the flawed scientific experiment betrays the entire premise of the book itself.

In the section on "Hero Dogs" (dogs that have responded to emergencies and saved the lives of their owners and people in general), Horowitz details what she calls a "clever experiment" with dogs where

"owners conspired with the researchers to feign emergencies in the presence of their dogs, in order to see how the dogs responded. In one scenario, owners were trained to fake a heart attack, complete with gasping, a clutch of the chest, and a dramatic collapse. In the second scenario, owners yelped as a bookcase (made of particleboard) descended on them and seemed to pin them on the ground. In both cases, owners' dogs were present, and the dogs had been introduced to a bystander nearby--perhaps a good person to inform if there has been an emergency.

In these contrived setups, the dogs acted with interest and devotion, but not as though there was an emergency...

...In other words, not a single dog did anything that remotely helped their owners out of the predicaments. The conclusion that one has to take from this is that dogs simply do not naturally recognize or react to an emergency situation--one that could lead to danger or death." (pp.239-240)

I really don't understand how she could have come to this conclusion after having written over 200 pages on how a dog sees, smells and relates to its world (the "umwelt" of a dog). She didn't consider that the dogs knew that their owners were faking? She wrote herself that a dog can sense the most minute changes in a person's own body chemistry, right down to sensing cancer and other things like an increase in heart rate or adrenaline. A person faking a heart attack isn't going to have the same body chemistry/physical changes that a person having a REAL heart attack is going to have, so in a sense--there is no faking a heart attack around your dog (believe me, I've tried, LOL--it was only playing/testing, but none of my dogs seemed to care if I plopped over in bed, "dead"). Same goes for adrenaline levels when you're in immediate danger, like when you're drowning (and I believe this was one of the examples she used just before this horrible "deduction" of hers; a dog saved the life of a child that was going to drown). And if a person was faking being hurt under a particleboard bookcase, I'm pretty sure that the dog could sense that, too.

Anyway. That was the only part of the book that REALLY got me going "Hmmmnnn...no." Other than that, it's a good read, but left me wanting more (a whole lot of it sucks you in, but then you're left with a little bit of an unsatisfied thirst for more science and more talk about how dogs are in the world; the end chapter seemed a little rushed to me, too).

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide [DECKLE EDGE] (Hardcover)


Review
“Women facing poverty, oppression, and violence are usually viewed as victims. Nick Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky shows that unimaginable challenges are often met with breathtaking bravery. These stories show us the power and resilience of women who would have every reason to give up but never do. They will be an inspiration for anyone who reads this book, and a model for those fighting for justice around the world. You will not want to put this book down.”
-Angelina Jolie

“I read Half the Sky in one sitting, staying up until 3 a.m. to do so. It is brilliant and inspirational, and I want to shout about it from the rooftops and mountains. It vividly illustrates how women have turned despair into prosperity and bravely nurtured hope to cultivate a bright future. The book ends with an especially compelling ‘What you can do’ to exhort us all to action.”
-Greg Mortenson, author, Three Cups of Tea

“If you have always wondered whether you can change the world, read this book. Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn have written a brilliant call to arms that describes one of the transcendent injustices in the world today–the brutal treatment of women. They take you to many countries, introduce you to extraordinary women, and tell you their moving tales. Throughout, the tone is practical not preachy and the book’s suggestions as to how you can make a difference are simple, sensible, and yet powerful. The authors vividly describe a terrible reality about the world we live in but they also provide light and hope that we can, in fact, change it.”
-Fareed Zakaria, author, The Post-American World

“I think it’s impossible to stand by and do nothing after reading Half the Sky. It does what we need most, it bears witness to the sheer cruelty that mankind can do to mankind.”
-George Clooney

“It’s impossible to exaggerate the importance of this book about one of the most serious problems of our time: the worldwide abuse and exploitation of women. In addition to describing the injustices, Kristof and WuDunn show how concerned individuals everywhere are working effectively to empower women and help them overcome adversity. Wonderfully written and vividly descriptive, Half the Sky can and should galvanize support for reform on all levels. Inspiring as it is shocking, this book demands to be read.”
-Anne Rice

“Half the Sky is a passionate and persuasive plea to all of us to rise up and say ‘No more!’ to the 17th-century abuses to girls and women in the 21st-century world. This is a book that will pierce your heart and arouse your conscience. It is a powerful piece of journalism by two masters of the craft who are tireless in their pursuit of one of the most shameful conditions of our time.”
-Tom Brokaw

“The stories that Kristof and WuDunn share are as powerful as they are heartbreaking. Their insight into gender issues and the role of women in development inspires hope, optimism, and most importantly, the will to change. Both a brutal awakening and an unmistakable call to action, this book should be read by all.”
-Melinda Gates

“An unblinking look at one of the seminal moral challenges of our time. This stirring book is at once a savage indictment of gender inequality in the developing world and an inspiring testament to these women’s courage, resilience, and their struggle for hope and recovery. An unexpectedly uplifting read.”
-Khaled Hosseini, author, The Kite Runner

“More than just journalism . . . [Half the Sky] is unashamedly intended to outline a problem and convince its readers to take action to solve it . . . The problem here is the invisibility of the oppression, the silence and powerlessness of the humiliated and the uneducated, the indifference of the unknowing world. It becomes clear that the answer is to bring what is hidden into the light . . . and to make it matter . . . In the book, Kristof and WuDunn have done exactly that.”
-Rohini Pande, Harvard Magazine

“A brilliantly argued case for investing in the health and autonomy of women worldwide . . . Far from merely making moral appeals, the authors posit that it is impossible for countries to climb out of poverty if only a fraction of women participate in the labor force.”
-Publishers Weekly

Great book! It's about time, September 10, 2009
By gabrielle (columbus, ohio)


I read the excerpt of this book in the NY Times and it looks like the rest of the book is equally good. I am particularly thrilled to see so many great nonprofit groups getting recognition. In particular it was gratifying to see attention being given to the work of Tostan (chapter 13)--they have been working beneath the radar for too long and it's time more people knew about their groundbreaking work.


Kristoff and WuDunn deserve credit for using their position as journalists to keep so many important issues in the limelight. Especially the struggles women face around the world. As they say, it is only by empowering women that we will find the solutions to many of the great challenges of our day.

Stunning and Powerful, September 10, 2009
By Monica M. Harrington (Seattle, WA)


When I read an advance copy of this book, I was so stunned that I contacted the authors and told them I wanted to do whatever I could to help get the word out. It is a compelling and important work -filled with riveting anecdotes and a powerful, optimistic message about the opportunity we all have to support a movement that has the power to transform lives around the world. Read the book, and then go to [...] to learn more about how Lifting Women Lifts the World.

Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party (Hardcover)


Review
"With scarcely more than a pith helmet, a notebook, and a tattered copy of Escape from Freedom, Erich Fromm’s great study of authoritarian psychology, the dauntless Max Blumenthal set forth years ago to explore the dank forests of American Christianism. Now he has returned to civilization, bringing back a fine collection of shrunken heads and a riveting account of a religio-political subculture that’s even weirder than you thought it was. Republican Gomorrah is an irresistable combination of anthropology and psychopathology that exerts the queasy fascination of (let’s face it) something very like pornography."
—Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker

“A brave and resourceful reporter adept at turning over rocks that public-relations-savvy Christian conservative leaders would prefer remain undisturbed.”
—Rick Perlstein, New York Times Book Review


“Max Blumenthal’s bold and brash reporting style should not overshadow his keen understanding of the extremist ideology that passes for “conservatism” in America today. A witty writer who thinks for himself, he shows the mainstream media where the story is, not vice versa. And his short videos have transformed the conservative crack-up into must-see TV.”
—Joe Conason






Product Description
Over the last year, award-winning journalist and videographer Max Blumenthal has been behind some of the most sensational (and funniest) exposes of Republican machinations. Whether it was his revelation that Sarah Palin was "anointed" by a Kenyan priest famous for casting out witches, or his confronting Republican congressional leaders and John McCain's family at the GOP convention about the party's opposition to sex education (and hence, the rise in teen pregnancies like that of Palin's daughter), or his expose of the eccentric multimillionaire theocrat behind California's Prop 8 anti-gay marriage initaive, Blumenthal has become one of the most important and most constantly cited journalists on how fringe movements are becoming the Republican Party mainstream.

Republican Gomorrah is a bestiary of dysfunction, scandal and sordidmess from the dark heart of the forces that now have a leash on the party. It shows how those forces are the ones that establishment Republicans-like John McCain-have to bow to if they have any hope of running for President. It shows that Sarah Palin was the logical choice of a party in the control of theocrats. But more that just an expose, Republican Gomorrah shows that many of the movement's leading figures have more in common than just the power they command within conservative ranks. Their personal lives have been stained by crisis and scandal: depression, mental illness, extra-marital affairs, struggles with homosexual urges, heavy medication, addiction to pornography, serial domestic abuse, and even murder. Inspired by the work of psychologists Erich Fromm, who asserted that the fear of freedom propels anxiety-ridden people into authoritarian settings, Blumenthal explains in a compelling narrative how a culture of personal crisis has defined the radical right, transforming the nature of the Republican Party for the next generation and setting the stage for the future of American politics.

Max Told The Truth About Me, My Father and My Evangelical World, September 7, 2009
By Frank Schaeffer


By Frank Schaeffer

For me reading Max Blumenthal's Republican Gomorrah is a look into a mirror. That might be because Blumenthal extensively interviewed me and drew rather heavily on my book "Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back" as a reference for his in-depth exposé of what has gone so very wrong with the Republican Party. He's on my turf so I happen to know he's telling the truth as its not been told before. But there's more.

Republican Gomorrah is the first book that actually "gets" what's happened to the Republican Party and in turn what the Republicans have done to our country. The usual Democratic Party and/or progressive "take" on the Republican Party is that it's been taken over by a far right lunatic fringe of hate and hypocrisy, combining as it does, sexual and other scandals with moralistic finger wagging. But Blumenthal explains a far deeper pathology: it isn't so much religion as the psychosis and sadomasochism of the losers now called "Republicans" that drives the party. And the "Christianity" that shapes so much "conservative" thinking now is anything but Christian. It's a series of deranged personality cults.

Th e Religious Right/Republicans have perfected the method of capturing people in personal crisis and turning them into far right evangelical/far right foot soldiers. This explains a great deal that otherwise, to outsiders, seems almost inexplicable--the why and wherefore of "Deathers" "Birthers" et al. Blumanthal brilliantly sums up this pathology as:

"...a culture of personal crisis lurking behind the histrionics and expressions of social resentment. This culture is the mortar that bonds leaders and followers together."

Tracing the thinking of the fathers of the Republican Party, including my dad, the late Francis Schaeffer, who I teamed up with when I was a young man to help launch the Protestant wing of the "pro-life" movement, along with other such as Rousas John Rushdoony and the philanthropist Howard Ahmanson -- who used to donate generously to my far right work -- Blumenthal explains where the current Republican Party came from. He also details who it's foundational thinkers were, and just why it's still so dangerous. (A threat proved again this summer as the gun-toting fringe derailed the health care reform debate.)

He has their number. For one thing this book -- at last! -- will forever put James Dobson where he belongs: onto the top of the list of the American n ational rogue's gallery of mean-spirited, even sadistic, cranks.

Blumenthal first came to my attention when he was doing his in-depth reporting on Sarah Palin. He was a guest on a TV program I was on too. There was something accomplished and in depth about the quality of his reporting on religion that I hadn't seen from other progressive sources. I've been following his work since. Blumenthal understands the philosophy, psychology and religion of Religious Right figures like Palin, Dobson, Robertson et al in a way that no other reporter (with the exception of the always amazingly perceptive Jeff Sharlet author of The Family) does.

Now, having read Blumenthal's book I know why he seems to really understand the nuances of far right religion. No one else has ever investigated this subject with as much insight into the psychological sickness that is the basis of the Religious right's power to delude other people who are also needy and unstable.

In another time and place the despicable (and sometimes tragic figures) Blumenthal describes would be the leaders of, or the participants in, local lynch mobs, or the followers of the Ku Klux Klan. But today figures such as James Dobson, Pat Robertson, (the late) Jerry Falwell, Newt Gingrich, and Sarah Palin have led a resentment-driven second American revolution, not just against Democrats and progressives but against the United States of America itself. And this group of outsiders (in every sense of that word ) now control one of our major political parties.

As I explained to Blumanthal when he interviewed me, one of the reasons I left the far right movement in the 1980s was because I perceived20it becoming the bedrock of anti-Americanism. The worst things got the better we right wing activists liked it. We loved crisis. We manufactured crisis! Crisis (public or personal) would force the country to embrace our radical solution: a radical turn to Old Testament law that would put homosexuals to death, see adulterers stoned at the city gates and so forth.

There were exceptions to the hard edge, my late father Francis Schaeffer was one. And Blumenthal (in his chapter on Dad and I) describes how my father was a compassionate man who opened his ministry to all before something "snapped" after the Roe v. Wade decision when he became a leader in the pro-life movement.

But with a few exceptions (like my late father) most of the people described in Blumenthal's book have no "other side" to them. They are the sick bedrock of what, at any moment, may become a full-blown American fascism. (Sharlet has done great work on showing how these Religious Right folks have also invaded the US Military, especially the chaplaincy ranks.)

My one -- very slight -- criticism of Republican Gomorrah is that Blumenthal neglected to do something that would have bolstered his arguments and given them deeper credibility: introduce a bi t of paradox and nuance into his book. He could have made a better case for the left by frankly looking at some of the extremism on the left that has played into the hands of the cynics who control the Religio us Right: for instance the the way Roe v. Wade was (in the view of many liberal pro-choice advocates) a tactical mistake preempting what was already happening in states including California and New York, in terms of legalizing abortion, and thereby galvanizing the culture war as we know it. And in the same vein perhaps when it comes to the current ethics of abortion and porn Blumenthal's case would be stronger if he had pointed out that there are many progressives, who have serious moral qualms on these issues as well.

That said Blumentha's case against the Religious Right is breathtakingly damning. What these folks want -- to destroy our pluralistic democracy and replace it with theocracy -- appears so far-fetched to most Americans that unfortunately their agenda is not taken seriously. The great service Blumenthal performs is to not only enlighten those who didn't grow up in the movement (as I did, sad to say) but to offer a genuine warning as to the seriousness of what these people will unleash if not stopped, then stopped again and again--because they are here to stay. And they just happen to control the republican Party!

Why should Blumenthal's book to be taken seriously? Take it from this former "insider" he knows what he's talking about. Hi s thesis is less about politics than about the deviant psychology that people like Dobson have cashed in on by feeding delusion, victimhood and failure as a means through which to build a political movement. What Blumenthal reveals20is the heart of the most dysfunctional and truly dangerous -- not to mention armed -- darkest reaches of our country.

What should we "do"? Read the book! Then fight like hell to keep Republicans out of power come what may. And maybe (note to progressives!) be a little less critical of President Obama and a little more grateful that he's in the White House!

Once in a while a book comes along about which one can say: If you love our country read this! Republican Gomorrah is one such book. One other thing: if you know any sane Republicans that would like to save what's left of their party beg them to read this book. If you have to beg them in the name of Jesus!

Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams (Hardcover)


Review
"I have been struck by epiphany after epiphany listening to these tapes...!" -- Steve Bailey, Simi Valley, California

"I was blown away! I squealed with delight! TTFN, FFL" -- Teddi Williams, Lake Wales, Florida

"Just a little feedback on the tapes...GREAT, FABULOUS, THE BEST! Thank You from the UK!!" -- Rosemary Homer, Bristol, England

Among the "big boys" (Robbins, Dyer, Nightingale, etc.), Dooley is the most literate and professorial... a dazzling intellect. -- Los Angeles Entertainment Today, February 7, 2003 --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

Review
"Infinite Possibilities is the perfect book at the perfect time. It is full of wisdom, answers, and guidance -- a unique combination that is guaranteed to help anyone during times of change and transition. I loved it." -- Ariane de Bonvoisin, bestselling author of The First 30 Days

"Having been a fan of the 'big boys' -- Anthony Robbins, Wayne Dyer, Earl Nightingale, et al. -- I came away with the realization that Dooley is the most literate and professorial of them all." -- Roger Yale, Los Angeles Entertainment Today

"I am so excited about this book! Mike Dooley has given every human soul a great and wonderful gift. He shows us in the clearest terms yet just how to produce what God has always intended for us: a life of joy unbounded!" -- Neale Donald Walsch, author of When Everything Changes, Change Everything and Conversations with God

"This book is your ticket to living. After experiencing Infinite Possibilities, you will never see life from the same perspective." -- James Van Praagh, author of Unfinished Business

Great Self Help Tool - Unique and Original, October 24, 2003
By hkd_999 "hkd_999" (Bay Area - CA, USA)


This is a set of twelve audio tapes (or CDs). The over-riding theme revolves around the old saying that "As one thinks so shall one become" with a lot of other secondary themes and principles. The way in which Mike Dooley speaks and the way he uses logic and deduction makes his ideas quite credible, inspiring and frankly unique compared to a lot of other similar material. The beauty of these tapes is that there are twelve separate themes -- from relationships to beliefs to Q&A and more.
Overall his methods and approach are the opposite of dogmatic and are very positive, open-minded and at least for my tastes not overly spacey or new-age. I would have to say that his approach to describing God is one of the most convincing, practical and realistic that I have heard.

Mike professes to start each day with a cigar and a cup of coffee which I think is pretty cool and shows that he is pretty much living a life like everyone else and not a guru or too "new-age" so to speak.

Right On!, September 10, 2009
By Eco-Friendly Interior Designer (New York, New York USA)


I just love reading books about the law of attraction, so I grabbed Infinite Possibilities by Mike Dooley. This book is based on Dooley's highly successful audio tapes, published in 2001.

I found this book to be engaging, thoughtful and entertaining. Dooley knows the subject of the law of attraction very well.

According to Dooley, the book is about "learning of your power and responsibilities." It is also about understanding our divine powers.

The key is to learn how to train our thinking to direct our experience, something Dooley assures us that we are capable of doing, as humans are infinite and powerful "fun-loving gladiators of the universe." In other words, we have been around forever, in a different form, in the universe. As gladiators, we created our human form. We are connected to God because God lives within us and throughout the universe.

Change comes from our imagination (infinite and powerful!), our beliefs and expectations. "There is nothing you can't do, nothing you can't have, nothing you can't be," according to Dooley. How we think creates our world and our feelings and emotions can make our dreams a reality. When you desire something, picture the end result very clearly--be specific.

When we want a particular outcome--a job, romance, etc.--we should act as if it already has occurred. If you are seeking a partner, buy 2 tickets for an event, for example. Plan as if it has already occurred.

In the tools and techniques chapter, Dooley recommends visualization, vision boards, scrap books and meditation, among a few other things. All good stuff. As I mentioned, I have read numerous books on the law of attraction. I would also recommend some Feng Shui to add to the power of manifesting--it works. Try my favorites--Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet and Feng Shui Tips.

There is also a question and answer chapter on frequently asked questions. I love how he writes, act like life is "easy and fun and knowable and it becomes that."

The book concludes with a pep talk on appreciating self as the unique being each and every one of us is.

Highly recommend!

OSHO: Books I have Loved



Ohhhh this is so great.... to hear OSHO say this.....!!!

A Gate at the Stairs [DECKLE EDGE] (Hardcover)


Uncertain brilliance, August 19, 2009
By Robert Holland "quiltchannel.com" (Decatur, GA USA)


Like other reviewers I come to this novel as an admirer of Lorrie Moore's piquant short stories, which render with deftness and sympathy the oddness, pleasure, and pain of being human. All of Moore's strengths as a writer -- her ability to find just the right off-the-wall metaphor, her comic sidewise advance on the most painful experiences, her sardonic wit -- are on display here. But the space afforded her by the longer form appears to have reduced her vigilance in maintaining the economy and precision of her shorter fiction. Too much of a good thing is sometimes just too much.

There were long (they seemed long anyway) stretches in the novel where I wanted to say "OK, I get the point! These people are callow and self-absorbed." Or where I wished she had stopped after the first, or even the second, mind-bending metaphor for the same observation.

And then there is the plot, which hangs together only tenuously. Tassie at school and Tassie at home seem largely unconnected, and there are elements of suspense introduced that trail off into nothingness. Perhaps this could be explained as imitative of life, but it often seems to be gratuitous.

Tassie's family is eccentric, a pleasure we have come to expect from Moore, but too often these people come off as self-parodies. The early character development of Tassie's brother Robert is a caricature that doesn't really pave the way for the depth of grief that engulfs the end of the novel.

Tassie is an interesting character and an entertaining narrator, but her insouciance and diffidence distance us from her throughout, and we never really fully penetrate her self-protective shield. In the end I agree with the reviewer who said that Moore would be better served by leaving the undergraduate world behind and finding adult company.

The Groves of Academe, redux, August 15, 2009
By M. Feldman (Bowdoin, Maine, USA)


A version of the first chapter of Lorrie Moore's "A Gate at the Stairs" recently appeared as a short story in "The New Yorker," and on the strength of that, I was excited to read the whole novel. The protagonist, Tassie Keltjin, a young woman from a small town who is a freshman at a Midwestern university, is very appealing in her awkwardness, her wry comments on life, and her growing self-awareness. Moore has a sharp eye for the pretensions of a college town, such as the fraught "support group" conversations that ensue when Tassie's employer, Sarah Brink (a perfect surname you'll discover), adopts a bi-racial child. The parts of the novel that center on this adoption process and on Tassie's relationship with the child are the strongest in the novel. I also loved the account of Tassie's rather aimless, unsupported academic life (and the goofy courses she takes). There are actually two narratives in "A Gate at the Stairs:" the first centers on Tassie's college life and the second on her home life. These two worlds do not intersect and the home narrative is much less successful. For reasons I couldn't fathom, Moore gives Tassie an unhappy Jewish mother who behaves oddly (she orders things online and never opens the boxes, for instance), although the reasons for her unhappiness are never divulged. I sensed that Moore was less comfortable with this material; the latke (potato pancake) frying scene was completely weird and wrong, for instance. (You don't grate potatoes the day before you make latkes, unless you enjoy fermentation and strange colors, and you certainly don't slap them together like a hamburger patty, as Tassie does.) The dad, an alternative-type farmer who grows heirloom potatoes for the kind of precious "gourmet" restaurant run by Sarah, is also unhappy, as is her brother, who escapes by joining the army. The Keltjins' hometown, with which they don't have much to do, is small in size and narrow-minded in outlook. None of this really hangs together the way the parts of the novel set in the college town do. It's stock parochial small town stuff, and it isn't improved at the end by the pastoral rhapsodies that Tassie indulges in after her life has taken a few strange turns, including a connection (rather unconvincing, I thought) to the post-9/11 world. Moore is a good writer, and "A Gate by the Stairs" is definitely worth a read, particularly for its satirical send-up of the kind of college town where naive small town freshmen stumble into courses like "Soundtracks to War Movies" and where Tassie meets her PE requirement AND gets a humanities credit for "The Perverse Body/The Neutral Pelvis." She finds out a lot about that, although not in class.