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Gabriela, Cravo e Canela
Jorge Amado
Progress: 157/358 pages
Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph (The Authorized Doubleday/Doran Edition)
T.E. Lawrence
Progress: 189/672 pages
The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve
G. Edward Griffin
Progress: 41/608 pages
Peter the Great
Robert K. Massie
Progress: 472/934 pages
Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty
Bradley K. Martin
A Time for Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge
Charles B. MacDonald
Progress: 191/712 pages
The German Army 1933-1945
Matthew Cooper
Progress: 198/598 pages
Corporal Hitler and the Great War 1914-1918: The List Regiment
John F Williams
Progress: 22/238 pages
The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What's My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen - Mark Shaw

In essence, this is a story of the life and death of Dorothy Kilgallen (1913-1965), who, during her lifetime, earned a reputation as one of America's toughest, most saavy, fearless, most respected, and best investigative journalists. She was also widely popular as a panelist on the highly rated TV show, 'What's My Line?'

 

Mark Shaw also sets out to establish that Kilgallen's death was not accidental as has been commonly believed. Indeed, according to him, "[i]n all likelihood, the timing of Dorothy Kilgallen’s death [on November 8, 1965] cannot be a coincidence. The fact is that it occurred within days of telling friends she possessed evidence pointing toward who killed [President Kennedy] and why. This provides good cause to believe that plans were in place to murder her on the very weekend her body was discovered.”

ONE HUNDRED YEARS LATER: REFLECTIONS ON "THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE" IN WORLD WAR I

The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War - Richard Rubin

A few minutes ago (it's now 9:29 PM EST as I write this), I finished reading this book. I felt both grateful for the considerable work the author put into travelling across the country (starting in the summer of 2003) to interview personally as many of the surviving U.S. veterans (men and women alike) of the First World War as could be found --- and thankful to hear these veterans speak of their experiences. This has a special resonance to me because my maternal grandfather (who was born in 1895) had served in France as a corporal in the U.S. Army in 1918. He passed away in the early 1970s (when I was a 3rd grader) as I was beginning to come into an awareness of what war was, courtesy of Vietnam. So, it wasn't until many years later, that I came to have a special appreciation for those Americans who served in the First World War and for the changes that war wrought on this country.

Many of the persons Richard Rubin interviewed represented a broad cross-section of those Americans (both native born and immigrant) who served in uniform between 1917 and 1918. While most of the veterans he interviewed (Army, Navy, and Marine Corps) served overseas, there were at least a couple of them who remained in the United States. Indeed, one of them enlisted toward the end of the war and before he could become more fully integrated in "the Army way", the armistice was signed and he was told he could go home. He hadn't been issued a uniform and aside from receiving transit home, the Army gave him a certificate of service and a dollar.

The author also managed to interview a couple of African American veterans of the war. One of them, was George Johnson, a 111 year old living in Richmond, California in 2005. His Army experience was largely reflective of the disdain and indignities with which many African Americans who served in the U.S military during the First World War had to deal with from their white compatriots, and the general society. Mr. Johnson's case was somewhat unique in that, as a very light-skinned African American, he could have easily passed as white, had he so chose. When he speaks with the author about the experiences his brother had with the U.S. Navy (where he was thought to be white and treated as such, until in answer to a query one of his shipmates put to him, he admitted that he was 'Negro'), it was a very sad and tragic story. One that impacted on Mr. Johnson for the rest of his life and perhaps was the contributing factor that made Mr. Johnson later see himself as white and not black. The other African American veteran the author interviewed in 2006 was Moses Hardy at age 113 in Aberdeen, Mississippi. Mr. Hardy served in one of the U.S. Army "pioneer infantry" regiments in France which saw combat during the final stages of the war.
He was in one of the few African American combat units, for most African American soldiers, upon arrival in France, were placed into labor units. (According to the book: "...only 20 percent of all African American troops sent to France in World War I were used as fighting men.") This was reflective of the then widespread belief that African American soldiers were unfit for combat duties. (Never mind the distinguished service African Americans had provided the country as soldiers and sailors since the American Revolution.)

The book concludes with a series of interviews the author had with Frank Woodruff Beckles, who ended up as the last surviving U.S. First World War veteran. His story was richly fascinating, encompassing so much of the world in which he spent so much time between the wars, working on a variety of jobs.

As we approach the 100th anniversary of the U.S. declaration of war against Germany (April 6, 1917), I would strongly urge any one reading this review to pick up a copy "THE LAST OF THE DOUGHBOYS" and treat yourself to one of the most rewarding experiences you'll ever have.

The 12.30 from Croydon (British Library Crime Classics) - Freeman Wills Crofts

What first attracted me to "THE 12.30 FROM CROYDON" was the cover art. On the cover is a teasingly attractive image of a 1930s fixed-gear airliner entering into the landing pattern a few feet above the Isle of Wight. Down below one can see the trappings of a port, docking area, and a ship in the distance. Eagerly, I picked up the novel and began to thumb through it. As advertised, this detective novel (which was originally published in 1934) "is an unconventional yet gripping story of intrigue, betrayal, obsession, justification, and self-delusion."

Rather than a whodunit, "THE 12.30 FROM CROYDON" looks at a murder of a retired businessman on an airliner from the vantage point of the killer, whose motives and mindset he shares with the reader, trying all the while to keep one step ahead of the police and remain free and beyond suspicion.

War Flying in Macedonia - Haupt Heydemarck

The lasting value of "WAR FLYING IN MACEDONIA" is its telling --- through the eyes of a German officer and aviator (Haupt-Heydemarck) --- of the experiences of a German reconnaissance/bombing squadron on the Salonika front during 1917 and 1918.   Illustrations and original photographs also convey the excitement and grim reality of life under wartime conditions in a harsh landscape with climate to match alongside an interesting array of allies (i.e. the Bulgarians and the Ottoman Turks). 

Double Decker C 666 - Haupt Heydemarck

"DOUBLE DECKER C666" is the second book in a trilogy written by the author that I much enjoyed.  Haupt-Heydemarck describes in exciting  - and at times, harrowing - detail many of the missions he flew as an observer with his pilot "Take" Engmann on long-range reconnaissance and bombing missions against the French in the Champagne Region during 1916.   Each chapter has illustrations depicting various aspects of the life Haupt-Heydemarck experienced as a frontline aviator, as well as photos taken by Haupt-Heydemarck himself, which give the war a real world immediacy.    Especially touching is the close relationship he had formed with Engmann, which made them an efficient combat team.    This book is priceless. 

BIRDS OF A FEATHER (Part I)

— feeling amazing
Flying Section 17 - Haupt Heydemarck

In "Flying Section 17", Haupt-Heydemarck shares with the reader his combat experiences as an observer with a 2-seater photo-reconnaissance/bomber squadron on the Western Front during 1915 and 1916. The task of Flying Section 17 was to fly deep inside enemy territory (with or without bombs) for the purpose of taking photos of facilities such as airfields, depots, and railway junctions and stations. Oftentimes, a single airplane would be tasked with obtaining these photos, braving anti-aircraft fire and enemy fighters. For Haupt-Heydemarck and his comrades, their foe was the French. Their war was like a cat and mouse game.   A mad or merry chase across the skies.

 

It was also interesting to see in reading this book how much of a factor the weather was in determining whether or not flying operations would take place. Each chapter has illustrations depicting various aspects of squadron life and Haupt-Heydemarck himself has added a few photos.

 

I highly recommend "Flying Section 17." It's a terrific book which gives the reader a palpable feel for what an aviator's life was like at the Front during the first 2 years of the war. Furthermore, Haupt-Heydemarck introduces us to several of his squadron mates: e.g. his faithful pilot 'Take' Engmann; Leutnant Freytag (who, at 6'4", was undoubtedly the tallest member of the squadron); Captain Mohr, the squadron C.O.; and Sergeant Stattaus, one of the veteran pilots who has some harrowing experiences after being forced down behind French lines and taken prisoner in August 1916.

Drive!: Henry Ford, George Selden, and the Race to Invent the Auto Age - Lawrence Goldstone

Given its scope, this book provides the reader with a widely comprehensive view of how both the automobile and the industry surrounding it developed and evolved from the late 19th century to the eve of the First World War. I read "DRIVE! Henry Ford, George Selden, and the Race to Invent the Auto Age" more out of curiosity and also because I hail from Michigan. So I grew up with a keen sense of how the automobile has profoundly influenced and shaped both society and the world economy.

 

I was also intrigued to learn about the patent battle between the backers of George Selden (who had taken out a patent in the late 1870s on the concept of an internal combustion engine later considered to be essential to the future development of the automobile) --- i.e. ALAM (or the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers) and Henry Ford. This took place between 1903 and 1911. ALAM sought to break Henry Ford the outsider, who after failing twice to establish an auto company, was now on the threshold with his latest company to achieve unrivaled success with the Model T.

 

The story of the lawsuit between Ford and ALAM is one that the author tells in great detail. The only difficulty I had in reading this book was in trying to fully grasp some of the technical aspects of the various engines vital to the automobile's viability and the related technologies. Yet, on the whole, I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about how the automobile and the industry it spawned developed during its formative years - and revolutionized the world. Hence, the five (5) stars.

"McCAMPBELL'S HEROES" - aka "THE FABLED FIFTEEN"

McCampbell's Heroes - Edwin Palmer Hoyt

"McCampbell's Heroes: The Story of the U.S. Navy's Most Celebrated Carrier Fighters of the Pacific War" is a concise, comprehensive, and well-written account of a distinguished combat unit as only Edwin P. Hoyt could do. Indeed, this is the fifth book from him that I've had the pleasure of reading.

In 13 chapters, Hoyt shares with the reader the history of Air Group Fifteen (aka "The Fabled Fifteen") from its inception during the summer of 1943 through its extensive training regimen stateside (which was not without loss, given wartime pressures and the desire of pilots in training to perfect and sharply hone their skills), to its deployment in the Pacific in May 1944, where it drew first blood on escort missions against the Japanese occupied Marcus and Wake Islands. The U.S. carrier force by this stage of the Pacific War had grown by leaps and bounds since the critical days of late 1941 and 1942, when the U.S. Navy struggled to contain the full force of the Japanese war machine. Carrier groups made up of both heavy carriers and light or escort carriers, with their protective screen of destroyers, cruisers, battleships, and an array of support ships now freely roamed the Pacific.

Between May and November 1944, when it completed its combat tour, Air Group Fifteen (as part of Carrier Air Group 15) took part in the Battles of the Philippine Sea, the invasions of Saipan, the Mariana Islands and Guam, attacks on Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and Formosa. And to top it off, the "Fabled Fifteen" further distinguished themselves through the invaluable assistance they gave to U.S. ground and air forces during the liberation of the Philippines and the crucial Battle of Leyte Gulf, one of the greatest naval engagements ever fought which witnessed the virtual destruction of Japanese naval power in the Pacific.

For the reader who likes to read stories in which the combat records of soldiers, sailors, and airmen are related in breathtaking detail, there are lots of such stories here in "McCampbell's Heroes." David McCampbell himself survived the war as the U.S. Navy's top ace, with 34 aerial victories to his credit. In one action during the Leyte Gulf battle told in considerable detail in the book, McCampbell and his wingman took on a large number of enemy planes in a series of intense dogfights. McCampbell managed to shoot down 9 Japanese planes (while his wingman got 6) -- a record for a single mission --- and upon returning stateside, was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Roosevelt in the White House in January 1945.

 

All in all, "McCampbell's Heroes" is a fantastic book which any reader --- from the most casual to the most passionate of aviation enthusiasts --- will savor and cherish.

All Too Human: The Love Story of Jack and Jackie Kennedy - Edward Klein

This book offers some interesting observations and insights into the 10 year marriage of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy (1953-1963) via what the author was able to assemble of the historical record, as well as from personal interviews with people who had close relationships with both Kennedys

ENGLISH WOMENS' VIEWS ON SEX & SEXUALITY

The Sex Lives of English Women: Intimate Questions and Unexpected Answers - Wendy Jones

I first learned of this book from having listened (online) to an interview the author gave BBC Radio London last summer. What she said about her book, "THE SEX LIVES OF ENGLISH WOMEN: Intimate Questions and Unexpected Answers" was enough to pique my curiosity and induce me to buy the book. I read it at a leisurely pace over several months and came to appreciate the candor with which the women in the book spoke about their sex lives and views on sexuality. Among the women interviewed were: a nun, a lesbian, a transexual, a student, a trapeze artist in her 30s, a veiled Muslim woman in her 20s, a burlesque dancer, a feminist into BDSM, a pianist, and a 94 year old widow (who, before marriage, admits to have had a variety of enjoyable sexual experiences as a land girl in Britain's Land Army during World War II).

Frankly, I think any man who wants to understand women as they really are would benefit from reading "The Sex Lives of English Women." It reinforced my belief that a man can never know enough about women. Indeed, a man should value, cherish, and appreciate the relationships he has with them, either in the bedroom or outside of it. That means making an effort to establish meaningful connections with women, provided they are receptive to him. What's more, there is a quote from one of the women interviewed for this book that really stood out for me, and it is this: "Sex is a massive risk and adventure because you don't know who you're going to reveal in yourself."

A LONDONER'S VIEW ON LIFE, LOVE, RELATIONSHIPS & MUSIC IN THE 1990s

High Fidelity - Nick Hornby

So far, "HIGH FIDELITY" is one of the most entertaining, laugh out loud funny, and insightful novels I've read this year. Though it must be admitted that the main character, Rob Fleming - a quirky and rather self-centered man in his mid-30s, who is the owner of a record shop in the heart of 1990s London - can come across as whiny and egotistical. Yet, he is not without his endearing qualities.

The reader is given entree into Rob's life at a time when his girlfriend Laura (with whom he has shared a flat for a few years) has left him. He is at a loss and begins to reflect on what he regards as his "all-time, top five most memorable split-ups", which began with Alison Ashworth in 1972 when Rob was barely into his teens and culminated with Sarah Kendrew, a relationship that lasted between 1984 and 1986. It was a treat to be given a retrospective tour of Rob's love life with these 5 women. His personal observations I found very revealing, though he could be a bit insufferable. Here are some of his musings that gave me much food for thought:

"... what was the significance of the snog? The truth is that there was no significance; we were just lost in the dark. One part imitation (people I had seen kissing by 1972: James Bond, Simon Templar, Napoleon Solo, Barbara Windsor and Sid James or ..., Omar Sharif and Julie Christie ...) to one part hormonal slavery to one part peer group pressure ... to one part blind panic ... "

"Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands - literally thousands - of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss. The unhappiest people I know, romantically speaking, are the ones who like pop music the most; and I don't know whether pop music has caused this unhappiness, but I do know that they've been listening to the sad songs longer than they've been living the unhappy lives." - p.19.

Music is the metaphor that infuses and enlivens "High Fidelity." Rob lives and breathes it. Indeed, his music store (with his two employees, mild-mannered, steady, and self-effacing Dick and know-it-all, sardonic Barry) is an extension of himself. There is an instance where, one night after closing shop, Rob, Barry, and Dick go to a pub for a few beers and entertainment. The entertainment comes in the form of Marie LaSalle, an American singer/songwriter whose look reminds Rob of the actress Susan Dey as she was when she starred in the late '80s TV drama "LA Law". He is enthralled with her singing. What I found both funny and poignant was his admission of the effect Marie LaSalle's version of Peter Frampton's 'Baby, I Love Your Way' had on him. Let me cite in full what he had to say about that. (When I was reading this section of the novel on the subway, I had to restrain myself from laughing out loud and uproariously.)

"Imagine standing with Barry, and Dick, in his Lemonheads T-shirt, and listening to a cover version of a Peter Frampton song, and blubbing! Peter Frampton! 'Show Me the Way'! That perm! That stupid bag thing he used to blow into, which made his guitar sound like Donald Duck! Frampton Comes Alive, top of the American rock charts for something like seven hundred and twenty years, and bought, presumably, by every brain-dead, coke-addled airhead in LA! I understand that I was in dire need of symptoms to help me understand that I have been deeply traumatized by recent events, but did they have to be this extreme? Couldn't God have settled for something just mildly awful - an old Diana Ross hit, say, or an Elton John original?

"And it doesn't stop there. As a result of Marie LaSalle's cover version of 'Baby, I Love Your Way' ('I know I'm not supposed to like that song, but I do,' she says with a cheeky smile when she's finished), I find myself in two apparently contradictory states: a) I suddenly miss Laura with a passion that has been entirely absent for the last four days, and b) I fall in love with Marie LaSalle."

There's more - more entertaining, funny, and observational "bits" (as the British would say) - to "High Fidelity", which I leave to the readers of this review to discover for themselves. I invite all of you who are uninitiated to Nick Hornby's writing style and to "High Fidelity", in particular, to buy or borrow this novel. You'll be in for a fun and rewarding journey.

Sunset View - Margaret Thornton

SUNSET VIEW” takes the reader to Blackpool, England, a popular resort town, in 1965. It is primarily centered on the lives of 2 families, the Hendys and the Jarvises. Doreen Jarvis, a young middle-aged woman, has plans to expand from the modest boarding house she and her husband Norman have operated for the past decade. Cognizant of the ongoing changes both in the hotel industry and in personal tastes, Doreen and Norman sell the boarding house and move their family (their 5 children have been heavily involved in helping run the business) to a hotel they have recently acquired in another part of town. The hotel, which began life as a private residence in the Edwardian Age, is very much in need of refurbishment. Doreen has plans to install a small bar area (contingent upon her being granted a license to serve alcohol), as well as a number of private rooms to cater to clients who like to have a sense of being in “a home away from home” complete with bathroom. At the same time, her children (ranging from adolescence to early adulthood) are growing and maturing, facing their own set of life challenges. The oldest, Veronica, has moved out and shares a flat. She finished school a couple of years earlier to take up a position with Marks & Spencer, a famous clothing store. By dint of hard work and dedication, Veronica is promoted to a minor supervisory position. She is also a woman desperately in search of Mr. Right. Raised a Catholic, Veronica, a tall, lovely and lissome blonde, has fairy tale notions of romance. She wants a man (ideally Catholic) who will love and cherish her, marry, and have a family. The trouble with Veronica is that, while she meets men aplenty, none of them fit the bill. Now with her flatmate soon to marry her fiance, Veronica will be in need of another flatmate, because she can’t afford to live on her own.

At this point, Veronica renews her acquaintance with Sandra Horsfall, whose mother Abby Hendy (who remarried the previous year after almost a decade of widowhood) is one of her mother’s oldest and closest friends. Sandra, who completed school the previous year and is an accomplished pianist, is approached by Veronica in the General Post Office (where she is employed) and asked if she would be interested in becoming her new flatmate. Sandra likes the idea of having a little independence and accepts.

"SUNSET VIEW" then proceeds to show the reader the various tribulations and challenges faced by the Jarvises as they unfold over the next couple of years. Indeed, the bonds of love, affection, and understanding built over a lifetime will shake the Jarvis family to its foundation. And all the while, the reader cannot help but feel his/her heart racing. For Margaret Thornton is a writer with a deft touch, who creates characters who quickly take on real lives.

"SUNSET VIEW" is the third Margaret Thornton novel I've had the pleasure of reading, I recommend it highly to anyone in search of a well-written, compelling novel with which to pass the night or a rainy day.

ANALYSIS OF AN AIR FORCE BUILT FOR WAR

The Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe - Hauptman Hermann

"The Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe" was originally published in 1943 by Hauptman Hermann, a former First World War bomber pilot in the Imperial German Army Air Service who went on to study aeronautical engineering in the early postwar years and worked for Hugo Junkers, one of Germany's most far-sighted and innovative aviation pioneers and manufacturers before Junkers was forced out of ownership of his company by the Nazis because he wanted no part in their schemes for rearmament; Hermann would leave Germany shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War for America, where he acted as an aviation expert for the U.S. government.

 

In this book, Hermann (whose real name was Hermann Steiner) sets out to show the reader that "(1) the Luftwaffe was not designed for a prolonged war; (2) the Luftwaffe did not believe in building spares or repair facilities; [and] (3) the Luftwaffe made a serious mistake in not developing a heavy bomber." While he makes some insightful points about some of the personalities in the Luftwaffe (e.g. Hermann Göring - the head of the Luftwaffe - and his chief lieutenant Erhard Milch whom Steiner knew personally), he tries to leave the reader with the impression that the average Luftwaffe pilot was part of an elite within the German Wehrmacht (like the Waffen SS), a diehard Nazi wholly motivated by Hitler's creed.  Well, some years ago, I read an account by the great Luftwaffe fighter ace Günther Rall in which he stated that Luftwaffe officers were not allowed to join the Nazi Party. I tend to put credence in Rall's account because he was a prewar trained pilot who managed against all odds, through 5 years of combat flying over Western Europe and the Eastern Front, to emerge from the Second World War with 275 aerial victories to his credit.

 

Notwithstanding what I regard as Steiner's oversimplification of some matters in this book, a lot of what he set out to show about the raison d'etre, organization, strengths and shortcomings of the Luftwaffe have validity (as many postwar publications have proven through extensive research). For that reason, it is worthwhile for any military aviation enthusiast to read "THE RISE AND FALL OF THE LUFTWAFFE."

IMPERIUM: JONAH IN THE BELLY OF THE SOVIET/RUSSIAN BEAR

Imperium - Ryszard Kapuściński

Ryszard Kapuściński was a man of many talents. With respect to his book, "IMPERIUM", I will be focusing on his skills as a travel writer and journalist.

 

In "IMPERIUM", Kapuściński shares with the reader his perspectives of his lifelong experiences with the Soviet Union (which was the very embodiment of "Imperium"), its culture, and people. This began for Kapuściński, as a 7-year old boy, in his hometown of Pińsk in Eastern Poland in the latter part of 1939, following the Soviet occupation of the eastern half of the country as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact signed by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in August of that year. The Soviets did not waste any time in imposing the Russian language and culture upon the Poles through intimidation, terror, deportation, and murder. Kapuściński writes of this experience with a clear-eyed, penetrating poignancy.

 

Then fast forward 20 years and Kapuściński makes his first visit to the Soviet Union. Though it is then the early post-Stalin era, he shares with the reader the excessive reserve and guardedness of people he encountered wherever he travelled. Foreigners for the average Soviet citizen were viewed with dread, suspicion, and fear. It was deemed wise to avoid them, or should that not prove possible, say little to them.

 

Kapuściński would return to the Soviet Union in 1967 and again, in the late 1980s and early 1990s as the country became rife with dissent in various regions (who remembers the fight over Nagorno-Karabakh between the Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan?), caught up in an abortive coup by Soviet hardliners in August 1991, and was formally dissolved 4 months later (Christmas Day) by the Soviet Union's last General Secretary, Mikhail Gorbachev.

 

Through his travels, Kapuściński shares with the reader his encounters with various people from all walks of life that add lots of spiciness and raw reality to his narrative. For example, Genady Nikolayevich, a 50 year old recently retired coal miner (Kapuściński met him in the late 1980s) who spent most of his life in Vorkuta, a city in Northern Russia around the Arctic Circle which was founded as a work camp (gulag) under Stalin. Subsequently, as the gulags lost their importance following Stalin's death, Vorkuta became a full-fledged mining town. A magnet for anyone in search of a job who was willing to accept the work hazards and the vagaries of the weather.

 

For anyone anxious to learn something about what the Soviet Union was like on a personal level from Stalin to Gorbachev, as well as varied views on what developed in the Soviet Union between 1985 and its dissolution in 1991, read "IMPERIUM." For me, the book tended to reinforce my views of the Soviet Union/Russia as a rather cold and at times forbidding country. (Aside from St. Petersburg and Odessa, I have no desire - as a tourist - to explore the country further.)

A LOOK INTO "THE SEX LIVES OF ENGLISH WOMEN"

The Sex Lives of English Women: Intimate Questions and Unexpected Answers - Wendy Jones

I first learned of this book from having listened (online) to an interview the author gave BBC Radio London last summer. What she said about her book, "THE SEX LIVES OF ENGLISH WOMEN: Intimate Questions and Unexpected Answers" was enough to pique my curiosity and induce me to buy the book. I read it at a leisurely pace over several months and came to appreciate the candor with which the women in the book spoke about their sex lives and views on sexuality. Among the women interviewed were: a nun, a lesbian, a transexual, a student, a trapeze artist in her 30s, a veiled Muslim woman in her 20s, a burlesque dancer, a feminist into BDSM, a pianist, and a 94 year old widow (who, before marriage, admits to have had a variety of enjoyable sexual experiences as a land girl in Britain's Land Army during World War II).

Frankly, I think any man who wants to understand women as they really are would benefit from reading "The Sex Lives of English Women." It reinforced my belief that a man can never know enough about women. Indeed, a man should value, cherish, and appreciate the relationships he has with them, either in the bedroom or outside of it. That means making an effort to establish meaningful connections with women, provided they are receptive to him. What's more, there is a quote from one of the women interviewed for this book that really stood out for me, and it is this: "Sex is a massive risk and adventure because you don't know who you're going to reveal in yourself."

JFK & JACQUELINE

All Too Human: The Love Story of Jack and Jackie Kennedy - Edward Klein

This book offers some interesting observations and insights into the 10 year marriage of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy (1953-1963) via what the author was able to assemble of the historical record, as well as from personal interviews from people who had close relationships with both Kennedys.