I was suprised how little I knew about the two teenagers who perpetrated the crime we have come to know simply as "Columbine" and what efforts were made by the local authorities to avoid admitting the two were clearly on law enforcement's radar screen prior to the event. The author makes it clear there are many things we will never know about the 2 teenagers, but they left a record in the form of videos and at least one journal. The most interesting character is an FBI hostage negotiator whose son went to Columbine and became involved in the investigation almost immediately. His training and insights are a major contribution to the book.
I was aware the subcontinent was partitioned at independence and little else. I had heard of Lord and Edwina Montbatten and was faintly aware of rumors of Nehru and Edwina's special relationship. Of course, who has not heard of Mahatma Gandhi. "Indian Summer" gives background to the events of 1947 in terms of personalities, geography and historical events. It also provides insights into how Pakistan has developed from what was intended to be a secular nation into what we see today.
I am certain there is more to learn, but "Indian Summer" is a great beginning and a solid base to build on.
I have read several books about the 2008 election and books discussing what the election might say about America. I found "The Battle for America 2008" among the best in both categories. Although the authors focused on the Clinton v Obama battle, they also address the Republican primary, the selection of Palin and the general election. I found an obvious effort to provide a balanced report, sometimes more successfully than others. Republicans might pick up some pointers about how they went from a ruling party to back benchers in 6 years and Democrats might learn what they need to do to hold the center of the country in future elections.
I picked this particular version of Les Mis because it was unabridged and, inspite of all the digressions, it was worth it. However, I am getting the abridged version for a friend whom I know is more interested in the story than in the full flavor of the period. I enjoyed the reader with his French pronunciation and his failed attempts to sing. This is a reminder why I love the classics.
I must begin by confessing (1) I love the Lakers of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar; (2) I love the Bulls of MJ, Dennis Rodman and Scotty Pippen; (3) I find the current crop of NBA players, typified by Kobe and Shaq, overpaid underperformers with a startling sense of entitlement.
I was interested in hearing what Phil Jackson had to say about The Last Season. He did not disappoint me. When he wrote about his former Bull team and team members, you could sense the love and longing in his tone. His heart was (and might always be) with them. When he writes about the Lakers, he is writing from the outside, as an observer, a hired hand. He admits that he felt an outsider, he refers to "The Laker Organization." He does not refer to "us." This lends some objectivity to his observations and comments.
He confirms my preconceived ideas about Kobe, but has forced me to re-evaluate my opinion of Shaq. Last week Kobe scored 41 points in a game and the Lakers lost. Based on what I heard in The Last Season, Kobe must be very happy. He is the star, there is no one around him competing for the limelight and he can say to one and all, as many three years olds like to do, "You are not the boss of me." Oh, the Lakers are losing? Who cares, its all about me, me, me.
I would recommend this book to any who is a fan of the NBA and is curious about what can cause a team with seemingly limitless talent to fail to reach its potential. For Phil Jackson, winning is not the most important thing; striving, doing your best, those are the things that count.
This book is both informative and entertaining. It provides insights into the operations of Congress, the CIA and our relationship with Pakistan during the 1980's. Charlie and Gust come to life with the voice of the reader who does an outstanding job. There is a brief epilogue that attempts to tie the events of the book to the events of 9/11. I wish this section had been more fully developed. This is a must read for anyone interested in world events.
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