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    $11.96
    1. The Five Thousand Year Leap: 30
    2. The Book of Good Manners; a Guide
    $18.00
    3. Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs
    $15.72
    4. Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge's
    $18.45
    5. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration
    6. Library of the World's Best Mystery
    7. Declaration Of Independence, Constitution
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    8. The Fall of the House of Zeus:
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    9. The Law
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    10. Original Intent: The Courts, the
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    11. The PowerScore LSAT Logic Games
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    12. Property, 7th Edition
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    13. On Killing: The Psychological
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    14. The Nine: Inside the Secret World
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    15. How Your House Works: A Visual
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    16. Hopes and Prospects
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    17. The Next 10 Actual, Official LSAT
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    18. Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion
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    19. LSAT Logical Reasoning Bible:
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    20. The Killer of Little Shepherds:

    1. The Five Thousand Year Leap: 30 Year Anniversary Edition with Glenn Beck Foreword
    by W. Cleon Skousen
    Paperback
    list price: $19.95 -- our price: $11.96
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0981559662
    Publisher: American Documents / PowerThink Publishing
    Sales Rank: 191
    Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    This is the ONLY edition authorized and commissioned by the W. Cleon Skousen Family. Also, no other edition except this one includes the revisions made by the author during the 25 years after the original printing.

    NEW in 2009! THE 5000 YEAR LEAP 30 Year Anniversary Edition with Glenn Beck s Foreword! NOW also includes Common Sense by Thomas Paine No other edition offers the revisions and updates of this remarkable book detailing how the Founding Fathers used 28 principles to create a 5000 year leap in freedom, prosperity, and progress; all based upon morality, faith, and ethics.

    THIS BONUS EDITION INCLUDES: Common Sense by Thomas Paine, 101 Constitutional Questions To Ask Candidates, The US Constitution, The Declaration of Independence, and Two landmark addresses by author Dr. W. Cleon Skousen never before offered in print.

    Revised, 30 Year Anniversary Edition. During the last 26 years of Dr. Skousen's life he continued his extensive study of the constitution and founding values. He kept his original copy of The Five Thousand Year Leap with him and would write notes in the margins and on envelops and note cards of the refinements and updates he wished to add to the book. This new 30 Year Anniversary Edition includes those refinements and updates. Our gratitude goes out to the Skousen family for supplying us with this information to enable us to bring you this new edition.

    The 5000 Year Leap will take you by the hand as you discover the ideals of the Founding Fathers and their 28 principles for success. The values explored in detail by Dr. Skousen range from the Founder's prerequisite that the Constitution was designed for a moral people, to a government empowered by the people with checks and balances, along with an understanding of the critical nature of fiscal responsibility and family values. This book sums up the secrets to what James Madison called a miracle. ... Read more

    Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars The 5,000 Year Leap, April 25, 2009
    This book is the quintessential book on understanding the brilliance of our founding fathers. It also shows how the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence are timeless documents. It should be recommended reading in all high school social studies classes. I gained an understanding and appreciation of our freedom given to us via these documents and has woken me up to how our current government is seeking to take power and gradually take away the freedoms granted to the people of the United States. The main reason behind the US Constitution was to limit the oppressive power of government. There are so many things that today's federal government is doing that our forefathers fought to make sure wouldn't happen. I think everyone should read this book to get an idea of just how far over reaching the current federal government is. The amazing thing is that this book was originally written I believe 30 years ago and it's so appropriate to what's happening in the political landscape today. It's almost like Skousen saw our current situation coming.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Should be used in every government and history classroom., October 1, 2009
    I hesitated to write this review as I stopped reviewing books on government and politics a couple years ago because of the nasty comments people would make about my conservative and Christian views. A dear friend gave this book to me as a gift and I find it outstanding. Were I still teaching government and history I would be using it in the classroom. Yes, I have checked facts given in this book and have found them 100% correct. I will be buying extra copies to give to friends who are still teaching. I also will not read any comments on my review of this book. I am pleased that the great majority of reviewers seem to feel as I do.

    5-0 out of 5 stars 5000 Year Leap, April 15, 2009
    Love him or hate him, I saw an interview with Richard Nixon not too long before he passed away. He said his greatest fear is that we are not telling our nation's story over and over, and our children are not being taught in our public schools. I am a retired educator who majored in history and taught American History for several years. I am still an avid student of our history. I can tell you the stuff our kids are being fed is nothing but a bunch of touchy-touchy, feel good, politically correct pile of garbage. For example little emphasis on our Founding Fathers is given in many states and universities. Why? THEY OWNED SLAVES. Yes, they did, but they put together the best system of government the world has ever seen. Revisionist historians want to go back to Jamestown and blame this country for every conceivable ill. Many of these historians such as Michael Bellesiles of Emory University wrote a complete book of lies about the Second Amendment, The Arming of America. He got a Pulitzer for the book. It was discovered that his research was so specious that the prize was withdrawn and he was fired. He was so anti Second Amendment that he was willing to put his career on the line and lie about it. I have an idea this is but the tip of the iceberg. Our students are being fed lies, yes lies, about our history. This is a book that would be required reading in my American History classroom. If there are those who get all chilled by the mention of the Christian faith, then don't read it if it offends you. I taught a month long unit on the US Constitution each year to my 8th graders. They practically had to memorize it. They were tested over and over again and were required to do additional research. That was several years ago, and my former students STILL REMEMBER those precepts. Again, this book needs to be read by every American citizen, liberal or conservative, elephant or donkey. We need a new American Revolution, a patriotic one. Too many people in our country (like leeches) draw from the blessings and benefits of living in this country and wouldn't raise a finger to support or defend her. I honestly believe if we were to face a crisis such as World War II, we would hear a giant sucking sound, the rush of our "citizens" running to Canada and Mexico.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Back to Basics, January 25, 2010
    Being British, and involved in politics over here, I was very keen to read this book, to see the ingredients that the founding fathers mixed together to create such an incredible country.

    As I have read the book, I have been in awe at the incredible restraint and foresight that these men had. I am sure they were truly inspired, as where the others who contributed - as the Constitution was by no means the work of one man.

    I am saddened and worried by the drift from the founding ideal, to policies and politics that have been proven time and time again not to work.

    As a friend of mine said, the problem you get with Democracy, is when people realise they can vote themselves money!

    It is my hope that the people of America have a "second Revolution", a return to the basics, and the simplicity of the Constitution - because truly it is only this way that America can get itself out of the crippling debt and over regulation it is finding itself in.

    This really should be compulsory reading in schools, and colleges - but of course the liberal left would have a heart attack if that was to happen, as the book mentions God!

    If you can do it once, you can do it again! So go for it, and get back to the basics that made America Great!

    5-0 out of 5 stars THIS IS THE ONE WITH GLENN'S FOREWORD, March 18, 2009
    This is the edition that has Glenn's foreword. This version is the book Glenn gave to all of his studio audience and held up during his "WE SURROUND THEM" event on Friday March 13th. Folks should feel free to buy either edition, but keep in mind if you want Glenn's foreword and the updates for 2009 then you will probably want this one. Its ironic that even though Glenn featured this edition, the old NCCS edition is the one that has shot to #1 on the Amazon best-seller list. Congratulations to NCCS we wish them the very best! Just make sure as a buyer you know which one you are ordering becuase there are two distinct editions (the 30th Anniversay updated edition and the 25-yr-old original) I say get which ever one suits your fancy.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic smart easy read history, April 28, 2009
    Great, accurate, smart, factual, interesting, easy to read and understand history. One of the best I have ever read. I would recommend to any U.S. citizen and anyone wanting to understand how our Government was formed based on freedom, equality, justice and humanity.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Like Updated Version Better, March 24, 2009
    I own both the original book and CD, and the updated 30th Anniversary edition available only from PowerThink. I like the additional commentary by Glenn Beck and it's nice to have the Declaration and the Constitution in one place. The artwork on the anniversary edition cover is excellent. I believe that The 5,000 Year Leap should be required reading in America's schools and colleges. Like all of the products I've purchased from PowerThink, this anniverary edition packs more bang for the buck than what you find with other publishers.

    5-0 out of 5 stars a must read for every American, May 2, 2010
    This book is clearly written, very practical and informative, and I am now reading it with my 7th grade grandson. Reading this book will provide a clear understanding not only of the founding and the founders of our great nation, but also how unique America is in the entire history of the world. I have always been proud to be an American, but this book educated me, filled in gaps in my knowledge of history that I didn't know were even missing, and reaffirmed my conviction that I must be the best American that I can be; I must be a better patriot today than I was yesterday. It is imperative that my firm convictions be based in truth-- and that I have the courage to stand on those convictions. I must be an educated and faithful voter.... and then stay in touch with those who represent me in my government. I agree with Thomas Jefferson: When the people fear the government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty. Amen and amen.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Finally know what it is to be an American, October 7, 2009
    I did not learn this in Social Studies. Maybe it should be required reading.
    Just getting into the book I am in love with it already. Reading a few pages, and glancing through the book, I find it an easy read. As Americans, we need to understand the Why--why does it work?
    If you know the why, then we can not be easily led astray.

    It belongs next to The American Patriots Almanac by William Bennett, Rediscovering God in America by Newt Gingrich, Common Sense by Glenn Beck
    (I already put Arguing With Idiots on that shelf, there is a space for Becks "An Inconvenient Book" as well)

    This book has: the Declaration of Independence, the U. S. Constitution, Common Sense by Thomas Paine, and 101 Constitutional Questions to Ask Candidates.
    It states the task set before the Founders, and the 28 principles after that.

    Yes, it is WORTH the extra pennies to have all the content. It is a book to be celebrated.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Best read in a long time., April 2, 2010
    I remember when schools used to teach civics and US government and at least some history. This book reacquainted me with the founding principles of this country and of the incredible men who dreamed of an entirely new system of government. It also unfortunately pointed out how far we have strayed from those principles. I recommend this book for everyone regardless of political party or ideology. It will make you stop and think. ... Read more


    2. The Book of Good Manners; a Guide to Polite Usage for All Social Functions
    by Walter Cox Green
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JQUBC2
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more

    Reviews

    1-0 out of 5 stars Good Manners Depend on What Page You're On, February 5, 2010
    I got this for historical research. I don't know the exact date of publication, but it is before World War I and probably sometime in the last two decades of the 19th century. An attempt to put the topics in alphabetical order has resulted in massive confusion, and the author repeatedly contradicts himself. For example, on one page he says that it is the task of the bride's maid of honor to prepare the bags of rice to throw and to be the one to throw the slippers at the carriage as it departs on the wedding trip. On another page he says that the best man should throw the slippers, and throwing rice is no longer in fashion. On yet another page he says that it is extremely bad usage to throw slippers at the departing carriage.

    He is equally contradictory on several other items. He is, however, quite firm on the topic of how to carry canes and umbrellas: vertically. If you carry them horizontally you might put somebody's eye out.

    This is a book worth reading for amusement, but I wouldn't put too much faith in it as I am writing a historical novel. ... Read more


    3. Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices
    by Noah Feldman
    Hardcover (2010-11-08)
    list price: $30.00 -- our price: $18.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0446580570
    Publisher: Twelve
    Sales Rank: 732
    Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    A tiny, ebullient Jew who started as America's leading liberal and ended as its most famous judicial conservative.A Klansman who became an absolutist advocate of free speech and civil rights.A backcountry lawyer who started off trying cases about cows and went on to conduct the most important international trial ever.A self-invented, tall-tale Westerner who narrowly missed the presidency but expanded individual freedom beyond what anyone before had dreamed.

    Four more different men could hardly be imagined.Yet they had certain things in common.Each was a self-made man who came from humble beginnings on the edge of poverty.Each had driving ambition and a will to succeed.Each was, in his own way, a genius.

    They began as close allies and friends of FDR, but the quest to shape a new Constitution led them to competition and sometimes outright warfare. SCORPIONStells the story of these four great justices: their relationship with Roosevelt, with each other, and with the turbulent world of the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War.It also serves as a history of the modern Constitution itself.

    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Court Battles
    The author has cherry-picked the four most interesting Supreme Court justices from the eight men that President Rossevelt appointed to the high bench. This legal account really follows the tenure of Robert Jackson (1941-1954) as he interacts with fellow justices Hugo Black, Felix Frankfurther, and Wiliam Douglas. It is an arbitrary time period chosen by the author, but it is climaxed by the historic Brown vs. Board of Education decision and Justice Jackson's death. The narrative alternates between the constitutional theories of each of the justice's and between their brilliant but competitive minds. The book combines dueling legal arguments, New Deal politics and clashing personalities into an absorbing narrative of the World War Two era and beyond.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I doubt even the author realizes how good this book is - Finest book ever written about the Supreme Court !!!!


    By way of disclosure I am a private scholar who has studied the interplay of power among different institutions and entities, whether it is government, corporations, or other power groups. I have been a member of the Supreme Court Historical Society for many of the last 30 years and I have been fortunate to have developed personal relationships with many associate justices and two Chief Justices. Having said that, I am simply amazed at the wonderfully expertly written, fascinating, and breathtaking book that Feldman has written.


    His anecdotes and historical references are both brilliant and factual. He has truly captured the essence of the Supreme Court and its stormy relationship with FDR during a critical period of American history. This was during the 1930's and for the next thirty years. This is a book about 5 egos, four of them justices, and one President, and the interplay between them during 3 decades. The first part of the book is devoted to a fast sweeping biography of 4 associate justices all of whom were appointed by the patrician Franklin Roosevelt.


    The Players in this book:


    Felix Frankfurter

    Brilliant beyond anyone's understanding, he was the product of a poor family living in the slums of New York. He went to the City College of New York, and although it is not mentioned in the book, City College at that time was considered better than Harvard because the Ivy League was limiting Jewish enrollment intentionally. This allowed City College at one point to have more Nobel Prize winners than Harvard.

    After graduation, Frankfurter put together some money and went on to Harvard Law where he excelled. Ultimately he developed mentors like Henry Stimson, an absolutely legendary power broker in Washington who served several Presidents including FDR as Secretary of War. Frankfurter is without question one of the intellectually most gifted people to ever serve on the Court.


    Robert Jackson

    Jackson was born dirt poor, so poor in fact, he could not afford an undergraduate education, and so he apprenticed to be a lawyer with a Jamestown New York law office. While working, he decided to pursue a year of formal education at the Albany New York Law School. He was folksy, clever, with a fabulous speaking delivery, exercised common sense and made a fortune before risking it all on a bank during FDR's first days in office.


    Hugo Black

    Black did a 2 year program at the University Of Alabama School Of Law. He was self-guided, extremely well read and understood that in the 1920's, the power was with the Ku Klux Klan, and so he joined in 1923. It helped him with his rise to power in Alabama and then he abruptly left the organization. It haunted him the rest of his life. He joined the Supreme Court in 1937, and became one of the most outspoken proponents of freedom, and free speech during the century.


    William O. Douglas

    Raised on the West Coast in Washington, he became a Yale Law School professor in his 20's. Accepted at Harvard Law, he went to Columbia Law instead. This man also knew how to be mentored. He came under the guidance of Robert Maynard Hutchins who graduated Yale Law in 1925 and immediately became a professor of law. Two years later Hutchins becomes dean of the school at 28 years of age. He then brings Douglas to Yale to be right in the center of things. Douglas would then be mentored by Joe Kennedy, JFK's father. Joe Kennedy would introduce Douglas to FDR, and thus a rocket ship ascent began for the future associate justice.


    You need to understand who these players were to determine if you want to read this book. What the author clearly demonstrates is how these four individuals who on and off for thirty years would be friends and enemies would go on to reshape our modern interpretation of the Constitution, and the laws under which we live. Every major law and judicial event of the 20th century came through their hands for interpretation and lawfulness.


    Their joint influence is not exceeded by anyone including Presidents. Just look at a short list of some of the seminal events they were involved in:


    * The concept of Judicial Restraint

    * Clear and Present Danger Case

    * Dennis v. United States - The right or non-right to advocate the overthrow of the United States

    * Judgment at Nuremburg - The right of the world to judge the implementers of Hitler's final solution. Associate Justice Robert Jackson presided.

    * Brown v. Board of Education - Outlawing the separate but equal doctrine created by the Plessy v. Ferguson decision. Justice Jackson went through four different drafts of this new interpretation. While very ill at the time, Justice Jackson found it excruciatingly difficult to render a unanimous opinion. He went directly to the Court from a hospital bed to render support for the earthshaking decision the Court published.

    * The Rosenberg Case



    What you will gain from reading this book:


    You will understand our country, and more importantly the true genius of the founding fathers in creating an independent Supreme Court. You will be awed by the intellectual genius of some of America's greatest minds dedicated to an interpretation of our laws. Even when you disagree with them, you will be struck by the quality of their thinking.


    This is not about liberal versus conservative, which is what we see today. I have known many of the great liberals as well as the conservatives on the Court, and I am impressed by both types. My own personal demand on sitting justices is that they are people of absolute integrity, and extraordinary intellects, and for the most part we have been blessed by both from the right and the left.


    Author Noah Feldman has given us a rare glimpse into some of the most interesting personalities of the 20th century. You will also get to know Tommy the Cork Corcoran, one of the most powerful legal players in the 20th century. You will meet Abe Fortas, perhaps the most influential associate justice of the 20 century. This is a man who sat in Lyndon Johnson's cabinet meetings, not at the table, but back several feet by the window. He would take it all in, and then when alone with the President dissect the whole meeting, and tell President Johnson what to do. I doubt LBJ could have remained in office through 1968 without the solid advice rendered by Abe Fortas.


    In summary, if you have any interest in the Supreme Court at all, or how government works, this book should be at the top of your list. I simply could not put it down, and thank you for reading this review.


    Richard C. Stoyeck






    5-0 out of 5 stars Conflict on the FDR Supreme Court
    There are a number of books and articles that discuss conflict between Supreme Court Justices, including the four Justices at the center of this fine study: Felix Frankfurter (1882-1965); Robert Jackson (1892-1954); Hugo Black (1886-1971); and William O. Douglas (1898-1975). Collectively, these Justices served between 1939 and 1975. However this book is unique in several ways that advance our understanding of the Court during this period. At about 500 pages, the author is able to paint a more complete picture of the Justices and their Court interaction than shorter studies. Each Justice is introduced, in terms both of his pre-Court career and his relationship with FDR. So by the time the author discusses their Court interaction, the reader has a particularly good feel for each Justice as an individual. Unlike most other studies, the author devotes probably most attention to Robert Jackson, an almost forgotten figure today who is soon to be the subject of a major biography by Professor John Q. Barrett. This focus on Jackson, former Attorney General, whom Justice Brandeis considered the finest Solicitor General he had seen, who later served as lead American prosecutor at Nuremberg, and who wrote some of the finest opinions in the Court's history, enhances the study enormously.

    The book also sheds light on the other three Justices as well. The much criticized Frankfurter, who went from being the leading Court liberal to outright conservative, is assessed in ways that allow the reader to understand why the shift to an activist Court left Frankfurter behind, rather than a shift in his own judicial restrainist philosophy. A perceptive discussion of Black and the development of his incorporation and textual philosophy of interpretation helps fill out an understanding of this key Justice. Equally important as his revival of Jackson is the author's rehabilitative portrait of Douglas, driven by political ambitions until 1948, when he emerges as a "great justice" and theoretician of new constitutional rights (such as privacy) and opponent of the Vietnam war. As a corrective to the "Wild Bill" approach to Douglas, the author's analysis is most welcome. We are reminded of why Douglas was so vital a Justice during his tenure in dealing with issues such as the flag salute cases, Japanese relocation, the HCUA, and the Rosenbergs.

    On top of all this, the book is a solid analysis of some of the leading cases in our constitutional history during this period. The discussions of "Brown," the Steel Seizure and "Dennis" cases are particularly perceptive. Another focus is the intellectual approach to judging each man employed. Some issues of judicial philosophy are raised, for example Jackson's pragmatic approach (promoting the effective functioning of the government) and Alexander Bickel's "counter-majoritarian difficulty." The bizarre Black-Jackson feud that erupts while Jackson is at Nuremberg is skillfully dissected and explained. There is much more of marked value in the book, supported by 46 pages of helpful endnotes, a 12 page bibliography, and some useful photographs. While one can quibble with the author's perhaps excessive opinions of Douglas and Jackson, and some of his other judgments, in the process one can learn a tremendous amount about these four unique individuals, the Court they made, and our constitutional history.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Book about the mid-20th century Supreme Court
    FDR appointed nine Supreme Court justices including the elevation of Harlan Fiske Stone to Chief Justice. The collection of individuals who orbited around FDR during the New Deal and World War II and those who appointed to the Court are an amazing list of influential, intelligent, and inspiring people who helped shape America. This book focuses on four of FDR's Supreme Court nominees: Hugo Black, an Alabama Senator; Felix Frankfurter, one of the nation's foremost authorities on the Court who knew FDR from the Wilson Administration; William Douglas, the SEc Chairman who could never truly end his love affair with presidential politics; Robert Jackson, the fast rising Solicitor General, Attorney General, and prosecutor and Nuremberg.

    Noah Feldman traces the rise of FDR as well as these four individuals. The author tells us of their careers, beliefs, and interaction prior to their court confirmations and then their struggles once there. It is a political, constitutional, and personal history of the United States largely between the 1930s and 1960s. You will learn about the wheeling and dealing behind presidential and vice-presidential nominations, the constitutional history of many monumental Supreme Court decisions largely culminating in Brown v. Board of Education, and the personal friendships, rivalries, and outright conflicts at play.

    In addition to the main cast of four justices and FDR, major players include political insider and New Dealer Tommy "The Cork" Corcoran, short term Supreme Court Justice James Byrnes, Attorney General Francis Biddle, Democratic insider Robert Hannegan, and many others who colored our country's history.

    Despite having read a fair amount about the Supreme Court during these times and even some biographies of the nominees, I learned a great deal from reading this book. Unlike other treatments, the author really gives Douglas his due as an important thinker on the court. Many other books dismiss Frankfurter as a liberal who shifted right on the court, but that is really only a small part of his story told here. Jackson's pragmatism made him harder to pigeonhole and his ambition always left him wanting something else such as the position of Chief Justice or the presidency. Hugo Black invented modern day originalism, though of course he bent over backwards for certain decisions, such as Brown v. BOE, to meet it.

    FDR's years as president were impactful enough. But Noah Feldman shows that they were even farther reaching than we thought, coloring the Warren Court, Justice Brennan's liberal jurisprudence, and many of the constitutional questions the Court is still dealing with today involving privacy and the Bill of Rights as it affects the states.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Spectacular Readable Legal History!
    Feldman has written a spectacularly excellent history of the Supreme Court FDR made, the Supreme Court that transformed American jurisprudence and shaped it into what it is today. Feldman writes a kind of history that is all too rare -- addictively readable stories of real human beings who shape Constitutional doctrine and made history in the process. Frankfurter, Douglas, Black, and Jackson fought with one another, an opinion at a time, a personal affront at a time, and gave us all the Constitution that now protects free speech, the rights of minorities, and counts the Bill of Rights as the center of the Constitution rather than an appendage, the Constitution that grows, developes, is anything but static. Others will write in detail about the contents of this book, I won't. I will simply say that for anyone who is even mildly interested in Constitutional law in our time, this is a wonderful read for the lay person, the law student, or the skilled practitioner -- a wonderful reminder that although we say we are a nation of laws, not men, it is men who make the laws we live by, and fallible all too human men who interpret and apply it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The origins of modern constitutional law
    It seems as if there's a veritable slew of good books about Supreme Court justices this year. The latest, Noah Feldman's Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices, focuses on four of Franklin Roosevelt's appointees: Felix Frankfurter, Hugo Black, Robert Jackson, and William O. Douglas.

    Each of these justices is fascinating and could merit an individual biography (and there are biographies on each). By writing a joint biography, however, Feldman is really able to compare and contrast these men and their jurisprudence. Frankfurter was the activist law professor who was reluctant to exercise judicial review. Hugo Black, a former KKK member, became a noted civil libertarian and read the constitution literally. Robert Jackson, a small-town lawyer and later Nuremberg prosecutor, usually judged cases with an eye towards pragmatic policy solutions. William O. Douglas pined for political office but settled for preaching liberal values. Together, these men developed or promoted the modern constitutional doctrines of judicial restraint, originalism, pragmatism, and liberalism.

    Outside the legal realm, these four justices often fought and bickered to a degree startling for four liberals appointed by the same president. Robert Jackson, who at law schools is portrayed as a reverential figure, got into a petty argument with Black over whether the latter should recuse himself in a case involving a former lawyer partner. Jackson even took his dispute public, sending cables from Nuremberg to impugn his colleague. Frankfurter viewed Black as an intellectual lightweight and relied on a network of mentees to conduct historical research against Black's legal philosophy. Douglas comes off as boorish, especially to his law clerks. However, there are some heartening moments too, such as when Frankfurter defends Jackson against the latter's former ungrateful law clerk, William Rehnquist.

    I haven't been a fan of Feldman's past work, particularly the lightweight The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State (Council on Foreign Relations Book). However, I think he gets Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices just about right. For law students like me, I can recognize some of the cases and legal debates to which the book refers. It certainly furthered my understanding of these cases. Perhaps best of all, having a passing familiarity with these justices, I was still genuinely shocked by some of the book's anecdotes (particularly the petty fueds). However, it's generally accessible enough for any reader interested in American history to understand and enjoy.

    My only "criticism" of Scorpions is that it's not long enough to do the subject full justice. I know, that's a common faux criticism. The main narrative essentially ends with Jackson's death in 1954, after Brown v. Board. However, Feldman alludes to tantalizing hints of how the other justices behaved afterwards. For example, Black and Douglas, despite being ideological allies during the 1950s, stopped speaking to each other in the late 1960s. Yet, Feldman doesn't really explain why. I felt like the book could really have benefitted from just a few more pages.

    Overall, I'd highly recommend this for readers interested in the Supreme Court in particular, or just U.S. history generally. I'd also recommend Jeff Shesol's Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. the Supreme Court, which covers FDR's court-packing scheme and acts as a nice prequel to Scorpions.

    5-0 out of 5 stars IMOPORTANT SUPREME COURT HISTORY
    Harvard Professor Noah Feldman's book SCORPIONS maybe one of the best books available on the history of the Supreme Court. This amazing book deals with the backgrounds and histories of and the terms of four FDR appointees, brilliant men, Felix Frankfurter, Hugo Black, Robert JaCkson, and William O. Douglas. Any reader of legal studies, histories, or educated read would easily recognize these gentlemen as giants of the Court. The book is rich with history and legal issues done in detail yet easy to read. HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Legal and Political History
    Noah Feldman's Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices is a superb piece of historical, political, and legal scholarship. I was made aware of the book by reviews in The Atlantic and The Economist, both of which praised the work. I concur wholeheartedly in their praise.

    I've often wondered how human emotions and idiosyncrasies play into Supreme Court rulings. This book gives you examples from the mid twentieth century about how these impacted some of the most significant Supreme Court rulings in the history of the United States. That doesn't sound like a good thing on the surface, but the author explores how those emotions and idiosyncrasies opened the minds of these justices to create and compile some of the most significant theories of American constitutional law. These guys could be petty, vindictive, vengeful, rude, and maniacally egotistical, more often than not with each other, but they were also bright individuals who made positive contributions to American law and society. I don't always agree politically with all the contributions they made, but one cannot argue with the monumental impact of their decisions and opinions, even some of their dissents that did not ultimately become law.

    If you have even a remote interest in America political history or American constitutional law, read this book. You will not be disappointed.

    Keith ... Read more


    4. Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge's View
    by Stephen Breyer
    Hardcover
    list price: $26.95 -- our price: $15.72
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0307269914
    Publisher: Knopf
    Sales Rank: 749
    Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    The Supreme Court is one of the most extraordinary institutions in our system of government. Charged with the responsibility of interpreting the Constitution, the nine unelected justices of the Court have the awesome power to strike down laws enacted by our elected representatives. Why does the public accept the Court’s decisions as legitimate and follow them, even when those decisions are highly unpopular? What must the Court do to maintain the public’s faith? How can the Court help make our democracy work? These are the questions that Justice Stephen Breyer tackles in this groundbreaking book.

    Today we assume that when the Court rules, the public will obey. But Breyer declares that we cannot take the public’s confidence in the Court for granted. He reminds us that at various moments in our history, the Court’s decisions were disobeyed or ignored. And through investigations of past cases, concerning the Cherokee Indians, slavery, and Brown v. Board of Education, he brilliantly captures the steps—and the missteps—the Court took on the road to establishing its legitimacy as the guardian of the Constitution.

    Justice Breyer discusses what the Court must do going forward to maintain that public confidence and argues for interpreting the Constitution in a way that works in practice. He forcefully rejects competing approaches that look exclusively to the Constitution’s text or to the eighteenth-century views of the framers. Instead, he advocates a pragmatic approach that applies unchanging constitutional values to ever-changing circumstances—an approach that will best demonstrate to the public that the Constitution continues to serve us well. The Court, he believes, must also respect the roles that other actors—such as the president, Congress, administrative agencies, and the states—play in our democracy, and he emphasizes the Court’s obligation to build cooperative relationships with them.

    Finally, Justice Breyer examines the Court’s recent decisions concerning the detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, contrasting these decisions with rulings concerning the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. He uses these cases to show how the Court can promote workable government by respecting the roles of other constitutional actors without compromising constitutional principles.

    Making Our Democracy Work
    is a tour de force of history and philosophy, offering an original approach to interpreting the Constitution that judges, lawyers, and scholars will look to for many years to come. And it further establishes Justice Breyer as one of the Court’s greatest intellectuals and a leading legal voice of our time.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Further Views on the Proper Role for the Supreme Court, September 21, 2010
    This book is a continuation of the dialogue Justice Breyer began in his previous work "Active Liberty." There, he argued that the Court should implement greater participation of citizens in their government. Although he touched at points upon the originalist/literalist approach to interpretation favored by Justices Scalia and Thomas, in his typical polite and reasonable fashion he preferred to explain his approach rather than lob grenades at their dedication to text and originalism. This book too is polite and reasonable, but aims to look at a wider and more fundamental issue--how can the Court contribute to making a "workable democracy" by applying enduring constitutional values to ever-changing circumstances. The short answer in this pragmatic-oriented book, is for the Court to build productive relationships with other governing institutions, as it protects individual rights and searches for the values underlying the Constitution. In short, Breyer is again arguing for what might be termed a greater degree of "judicial modesty" which facilitates better governance.

    Breyer first discusses the concept of judicial review, where it came from in Marbury v. Madison, and how history demonstrates (in the Cherokee removal, Dred Scott, and the Little Rock desegregation cases) how dependent the Court is upon ephemeral public support. Breyer is unique in his ability to explain historical and legal concepts in terms that the general reader can assimilate--a rare talent indeed. Basically, Bryer concludes, as long as the Court's opinions are "principled, reasoned, transparent and informative" it will hold public support. Once again, I was disappointed that his discussion of the Bush v. Gore case is highly polite and reasonable and does not, I am sure, reflect the intra-Court dynamics involved in that sad episode.

    One of the most masterful sections of the book is where the Justice discusses why he thinks originalism, reliance upon text, and founders' history are not determinative in interpreting the Constitution or statutes. As usual, he is polite and positive, but he makes his point well. Rather, reliance upon purpose and consequences constitute a superior approach.

    So, how should the Court proceed to build cooperative relationships? Breyer devotes individual chapters to answering this question as relates to Congress and statutes ("reasonable" interpretation), the executive branch and administrative agencies (recognize its greater expertise than courts), and the states and federalism (like Justice Brandeis, recognize the benefits of state and local experimentation and defer strongly). Two the best chapters in the book, for both the general reader and those better versed in the issues, address how the Court should deal with lower federal courts, and why precedent is important and when it should be followed (the current Court majority might find this discussion particularly illuminating).

    The final section of the book deals with concepts such as permanent values, proportionality, "core elements," and "workable reality." These are somewhat intangible concepts, and Breyer's discussion may encourage some to embrace originalism, history and text as somewhat more substantial interpretative guidelines. He uses the Court's recent decisions in the Second Amendment and Guantanamo prison cases, as well as the 1940's Japanese relocation cases, to explore these concepts. It is quite interesting to peek into the mind of a sitting Justice (as it was with "Active Liberty") to see how he perceives the Court's role. This dimension is as helpful to the experienced student of the Court as it is to the average citizen.

    The book runs some 254 pages including notes, and contains some illustrations and an appendix designed to quickly educate the general reader about the Court and how it works. Although sometimes Breyer seems to be "up in the clouds" as he tackles ephemeral concepts, there is no question that this is one of the rare books that really opens up the reader's mind to new concepts and considerations.




    5-0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and insightful, September 24, 2010
    I liked this book for many reasons, but two stand out. First, it is an interesting contextualization of the path our country has taken starting out from the basic "idea" of the role of the Supreme Court in the American political system as envisioned by the Founders, to the current manifestation of that role, replete with twists and turns along the way. Second, and very much in the intellectual spirit of his previous book (which I also really liked), it is a reminder that our government is only as good as we, its citizens, are: active, educated and engaged participants allow the engine to function as it should, with the Court serving in its role as, in Justice Breyer's words, the border patrol that makes sure nothing enacted by Congress violates the basic precepts forth by the framers. I enjoyed Justice Breyer's prose style and also found the individual cases he discusses, and his take on them, incredibly interesting in their own right. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, left right and center, who has a pulse and cares about our country ... how a series of ideas set forth a couple hundred years ago are being manifest in contemporary American society. An important book that I suspect history will look on kindly.

    5-0 out of 5 stars How government works, September 27, 2010
    First, I think it's important to state that I don't think Breyer wrote this book to promote a political point of view. Quite the opposite: he shows remarkable restraint and a willingness to try and explain fairly the basis for differing opinions held on important cases.

    His reason for writing this book was to educate U.S. citizens how government works and the principles that judges and justices try to follow in deciding cases. He explained his hope that, if we better understand these things, we'll have more confidence in our government and be actively interested in how our government works. Better citizens, in other words.

    I'd say that there is one subject that gets Breyer up on his soapbox: he firmly believes that the courts can produce the best results in support of a workable democracy by applying a practical consideration of legislative intent, values, subsidiarity, specialization, appropriate deference to expertise and several other concepts. He makes a pretty good case for this approach. Each additional layer of guiding principles, taken by itself, seems reasonable enough, but when he guides the reader through the balancing act that judges have to go through in selecting and applying the relevant principles in appropriate proportion to a particular case, it really gave me an appreciation for how difficult and complex this can be.

    I especially enjoyed his review of a number of landmark cases, including Marbury vs Madison, Dred Scott, Brown vs Board of Education, a couple of cases regarding Japanese internment during WWII and four cases involving Guantanamo detainees. Very informative.

    Breyer's writing style is clear, easy to follow, and a pleasure to read. I highly recommend this book.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Aimed at non-lawyers, but lawyers who want to know how judges think will be fascinated., October 6, 2010
    Any book by a Supreme Court justice is worth reading, this book is not an exception. The case discussions are at a law school constitutional law class level. In this sense, this part of the book is not new for lawyers, but non-lawyers will find it enlightening.

    Where the book excels is the rich detail that surrounds cases. That detail helps to understand what justices who employed the pragmatic approach would have considered.

    After reading sections such as the pragmatic approach vs. the originalism approach, I felt the book was incomplete; I needed to get a more complete view. The book's last paragraph suggests that was Justice Breyer's intent when it states "The stories this book sets forth are told from the point of view of one judge", "I hope they lead others to study and ponder their lessons about our constitutional history."

    If the book gave a more balanced view, not necessitating further research on my part, I would have given it another star, perhaps I am being too grudging with the 5th star.

    Suggestion for reading this book. Look over the appendices first, because:
    * The text of the book doesn't mention there are photos in the back.
    * The back contains a well written explanation of how the Supreme Court works.
    * All the footnotes, really endnotes, are in the back of the book; in legal writing much can be gained by reading the footnotes.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A sober and thoughtful analysis of the role of the judiciary, October 4, 2010
    The negative reviews of this book treat it as just another radical liberal screed. Those reviewers either have not read the book or have a huge political chip on their shoulders. Thoughtful, reasoned and sober are the adjectives that first come to my mind. If you are interested in an enlightened exposition of the proper balance between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government this is a great place to start.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An important book for our times, September 23, 2010
    This book is a page turner and highlights the hallmarks of Justice Breyer: wisdom, insight, modesty and a deep belief in the US system of government.

    The first part of the book highlights the Court's role in the suppression and later provision of Civil Rights for minorities in the US. Justice Breyer's storytelling is very moving and shows his depth of knowledge and understanding of the constitutional issues.

    The rest of the book deals with the art of judging and duties and obligations of the Court.

    This is a highly stimulating and well written book. More importantly, I believe it is an important book for our times. I highly recommend it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great for the laity, November 27, 2010
    Justice Breyer lays out, in a clear and easy-to-follow yet convincing manner how and why "we the people" have come to regard the Supreme Court throughout the ages. By tracing the Court's origins in decisions like Marbury v. Madison all the way to the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Breyer shows us how the public's reaction to the court evolves over time and becomes the Court our forefathers envisioned.

    Not only that, but he makes a compelling case for his methods of interpreting the Constitution and anyone, even those side more with Justice Scalia's methods, would be well advised to pick up this book if for no other reason than to get a better idea of his methodologies.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and interesting, November 5, 2010
    In "Making our Democracy Work," Justice Breyer expands upon his treatise "Active Liberty" with several interesting examples of how the Judiciary established its role, and how it needs to act to maintain credibility as the guarantor of liberties established in the Constitution. Justice Breyer's uses counter examples, such as Dred Scott, showing the Court doesn't always get it right (and history may hold one of the negative reviews here correct with a couple more counter examples).

    I had hoped this work would expand a bit more on the role of the citizen in making our democracy work, but Justice Breyer really only pays lip service to this in the Conclusion. Still, illuminating the role of the weakest branch of government through the lens of some of our history's most important and controversial cases provides a fascinating peek into the function of the court.

    The thoughtfulness that goes into deciding cases should make us all thankful that the Founding Fathers had the foresight to implement independent checks and balances in the American form of government.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Making Our Democracy Work, October 19, 2010
    Stephen Breyer presents a comprehensive history of the Constitution and beginning of our nation with the debates surrounding some of the elements of the Constitution by our founding fathers during the administration of President Washington through to today. He describes how the importance of the court system evolved over time, especially the unique role of the Supreme Court.

    The areas of law that the Supreme Court reviews are outlined with different chapters discussing each area, provides examples and reasoning behind both the majority decision and dissenting viewpoint giving validity to both. It is highly readable with explanations provided in layman's terms. A must read for all who are interested or desire to learn the importance and workings of our highest court.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Trust, December 11, 2010
    Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's new book, Making Our Democracy Work, presents a civics primer about how the court fits into our society and government. This practical book is accessible to all readers and can provide insight into the context in which the court operates, and the historical and current importance of securing and maintaining public trust. An ongoing question is whether or not the public will follow the court's decisions, and Breyer sees an important role of the court in helping laws work well in practice. He provides a perspective on past and current cases that is both readable and interesting for any citizen.

    Rating: Three-star (Recommended)
    ... Read more


    5. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
    by Michelle Alexander
    Hardcover
    list price: $27.95 -- our price: $18.45
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 1595581030
    Publisher: New Press, The
    Sales Rank: 1393
    Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    Jarvious Cotton's great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Klu Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation; his father was barred by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.
    --FROM THE NEW JIM CROW

    As the United States celebrates the nation's "triumph over race" with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of young black men in major American cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled felons for life. Although Jim Crow laws have been wiped off the books, an astounding percentage of the African American community remains trapped in a subordinate status--much like their grandparents before them.

    In this incisive critique, former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander provocatively argues that we have not ended racial caste in America: we have simply redesigned it. Alexander shows that, by targeting black men and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness. The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community--and all of us--to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America. ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Important, Eye Opening Work, February 14, 2010
    Thirty years ago, fewer than 350,000 people were held in prisons and jails in the United States. Today, the number of inmates in the United States exceeds 2,000,000. In this book, Alexander argues that this system of mass incarceration "operates as a tightly networked system of laws, policies, customs, and institutions that operate collectively to ensure the subordinate status of a group defined largely by race." The War on Drugs, the book contends, has created "a lower caste of individuals who are permanently barred by law and custom from mainstream society." Mass incarceration, and the disabilities that come with the label "felon," serve, metaphorically, as the new Jim Crow.

    The book develops this argument with systematic care. The first chapter provides context with a brief history of the rise, fall and interrelation of the first two racial caste systems in the United States, slavery and Jim Crow. Subsequent chapters provide close scrutiny of the system of mass incarceration that has arisen over the past thirty years, examining each stage of the process (e.g., criminalization, investigation, prosecution, sentencing) and the many collateral consequences of a felony conviction (entirely apart from any prison time) and how and why each of these has operated to the detriment of African-Americans. The book also explores how the caste system Alexander identifies is different and not-so-different from Jim Crow, the many political and economic forces now invested in sustaining it, and how it has been rendered virtually immune to challenge through litigation. The book concludes with an argument that while many particular reforms will be needed to change this system, nothing short of a social movement that changes public acceptance of the current system can solve this problem and offers critiques and proposals for the civil rights movement based on this analysis. Everyone who reads this book will come away seeing the War on Drugs and mass incarceration in a new light.

    5-0 out of 5 stars MUST READ: A powerful book!, January 5, 2010
    Law Professor Michelle Alexander's long-anticipated debut puts a bright light directly on what is perhaps our greatest national shame: the extraordinary rates of incarceration for people of color in the United States.

    Her writing is lucid and gripping; her arguments are clear and concise; her conclusions often are inescapable. She powerfully makes the case that the incarceration industry has become to the 21st Century what Jim Crow segregation was to the 20th: a system that undermines American ideals of justice, while reinforcing social inequality.

    In what many hope will be a "post-racial" era, Ms. Alexander's voice is a courageous one. Even as she rightfully celebrates progress at many levels, she refuses to let our society ignore the fact that a million or more people of color are imprisoned today (out of all proportion to their numbers in the population AND even out of all proportion to their rate of criminal offenses, as documented by the government).

    More importantly, she dares to ask (and attempts to answer) the simple question: how can this be happening in our country today?

    Impeccably well-argued, "The New Jim Crow" is an inspired work - representing the debut of a bright, new and important voice in American life and letters.

    5-0 out of 5 stars COMPELLING AND CONVINCING, February 5, 2010
    Michelle Alexander has the ability to see far beyond conventinonal wisdom and understanding. Her intellect is exceptional and her logic captivating. Her compelling and convincing book leaves no doubt about the wrongness of the War on Drugs. Highly educational and informative as well as thought provoking.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Can we start talking about race?, May 3, 2010
    I'm a white man and I carry with me the cultural legacy of racism. I know I'm not alone but I don't find many other white people who are willing to venture into this uncomfortable territory and own up to our own racism. And while I've had a few conversations about race with black men, I must say I feel like I'm venturing into dangerous territory - how do I transcend the privilege I've had as an socio-econonmically advantaged white man to connect to those who rightly see me and my kind as an oppressor?

    This was a hard book to read. I said that about "Slavery by Another Name" as well which is the companion book to this one as they both address a white power structure that uses prisons to humiliate, degrade, diminish and control black people. "Slavery by Another Name" addresses this phenomenon during Jim Crow and "The New Jim Crow" addresses how we've been doing this for the past thirty years.

    To the extent white people and non-black minorities I know talk about race, its about why blacks continue to languish at the bottom of the American barrel. If other ethnic groups that have experienced discrimination manage to overcome it and prosper as Americans, what is wrong with blacks? I've always said it was slavery and its legacy, the Jim Crow era and its deprivations but now I realize that the story is even more complex, black men have been disproportionately single out for prison time, causing entire families to suffer the economic loss, the social stigma and family shame that accompanies such imprisonment.

    I remember the O.J. trial and how whites were "shocked" that blacks had such a different take on the police and criminal justice. At the time, there was discussion about how black men were singled out for police harassment and arrest but I don't remember a discussion about why so many black men were imprisoned. In 1995, the impact of the drug wars wasn't fully appreciated but 15 years later with an even larger prison population, it is. The other thing about the O.J. trial that made it complicated was his role as a rich celebrity. In that regard, he took on the power and privilege of a white man and there was a sense that in his marriage to a white woman and in his lifestyle he had been escaping from his black upringing, betraying blacks. But when he stood trial, blacks hurried to support him against the white power structure.

    This goes to the other argument the book makes which is the way black exceptionalism, the O.Js, the Oprahs, the Michael Jackson, Tiger Woods and Obamas allow whites to believe that racism is dead, that blacks are making it, a sign that our color-blind society has triumphed. This exceptionalism hides or excuses the results of a drug war aimed directly at the black underclass and which has snatched so many black men from their families and putting them at even greater disadvantage. After prison they are marked men, making employment very difficult, voting often impossible and public housing unlikely.

    Class is not the subject of this book but I do think it is also at play both in terms of preserving the tense wariness poor whites feel towards any sign of "special favors" for blacks and as the lesser evil to that of racism but which has defined American life for so long and made everyone - rich and poor - look to the wealthy as successful and the poor as shameful losers.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Inconvenient Truths, March 26, 2010
    This is an explosive book. We've all read the statistics about racial disparity in criminal justice, but Michelle Alexander brings it all together in this sweeping analysis of our dysfunctional legal system and the persistence of de jure discrimination in the Age of Obama. Clearly written and vigorously argued, The New Jim Crow makes plain that we haven't come as far as we think and that there is still much to be done. The ghosts of slavery are alive and well.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful, Informative, and Mind-Opening, April 26, 2010
    I have just put down Michelle Alexander's book after reading the very last word and I don't know what to say. I am literally so in awe, so grateful for her work, so amazed at her talent and gifts that I am truly without words to describe how I feel or what I think.

    I am normally a very quick read but her book forced me to slow down. Not a word or sentence was unnecessary but rather so incredibly meaningful, meaty, and educational that I found myself only being able to read when I was well-rested and undisturbed. I am amazed at how effectively and clearly she informed the reader, me, about the current state of our justice system, the experience of police encounters (which was infuriating and would fill me with rage), and how the laws serve to disempower people and make them disappear. How she moved from data-driven, legal, educational, & rational arguments to a passionate appeal for change and a sharing of a real vision is astonishing.

    I love how she writes, so clear and with a crescendo of support for her thesis, and what she wrote about. I'm truly grateful for this piece of work. The book is truly inspiring as it is mystifying that we are where we are. I haven't been able to stop telling people about her book but sadly am not nearly as eloquent and struggle to explain concisely the arguments.

    I wish everyone would read this body of work. Well done!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Well Researched -- Well Done! Necessary reading, April 5, 2010
    Painful to read, but necessary. Author did a great job. Well researched and thoughtful. The type of information you DO NOT receive from Mainstream Media. What a disgrace our system is, in this area, how cleverly disguised this form of social control is. If you have any interest in human rights and fairness, run out and get this book. (or order online here) Kudos to the author.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Your view of our Criminal Justice System will change forever, July 6, 2010
    Earlier I reviewed Texas Tough and suggested questions it should raise in your mind. Now I have read The New Jim Crow and am flabbergasted at my ignorance. I had thought I knew much about our Criminal Justice System (having studied and taught about it for years) but now realize how narrow and restricted my understanding had been. A MUST read.
    Texas Tough tells us WHAT; The New Jim Crow tells us WHY! Michelle Alexander has done an outstanding job of filling in many blanks in our knowledge and correcting our typical perceptions of the criminals and prisons and ex-offenders.
    Readers who are serious about understanding the plight of Black Men and the War on Drugs, and are willing to learn from an intelligent and experienced Black female ACLU attorney, will learn about a whole new world not seen by White's.
    I used the Kindle edition which works well since the text contains no graphs or pictures. A straight, honest read. Captivating!
    My four stars instead of five is due to the repetitive nature of some information and some digression into a preaching rather than a strict information style. She may embellish the significance of some of the facts, but it doesn't diminish the message.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful and informative--a must read for all interested in social justice, June 14, 2010
    This is an amazing book told from the unique standpoint of a lawyer and a woman of color. Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" exposes the truth about the U.S. Prison Industrial Complex and it's true role as a mechanism for the criminalization and oppression of the non-white and poor of all colors.

    Alexander presents example after example of years of targeting the poor for such things as drug use or possession--which are used equally among people of all colors and economic standing--yet only the poor are targeted for punishment, stop and search, police occupation of their communities and schools creating a mythology of the "criminal poor."

    Those who have been incarcerated are forever marked as second-class citizens unable to participate fully in our so-called democratic society--unable to vote, to hold office, to get financial aid to go to college, to receive social services, and much more.

    I recommend this book especially to the youth. This is their new reality now. The truth that can be gained from reading this book can make them free.

    Thank you Michelle Alexander.

    Sincerel,

    Bonnie Weinstein

    5-0 out of 5 stars The most important book written this year, and maybe century!, June 5, 2010
    MIchelle Alexander's book is a judgment on what America has become -- a racist prison state. "The New Jim Crow" is tightly researched and stand as an indictment of our nation. Read it and weep! Say, with Alan Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country.
    I was one of the early white civil rights demonstrators, then battled HUAC in the streets of Chicago, then led the Peace movement in Boston, brought a winning contingent into the runoff for Senate in Massachusetts, electing Ed Brooke the first Black Senator in the US ever, then was the Exec Dir of Alabama's :freedom democrats," electing the first blacks to office in Alabama since Reconstruction, then working in Congress for Earl Hilliard, Alabama's first black member of Congress and Vice Chair of the Progressive Caucus there, and organized the movement which brought unions into the halls of Congress to organize Congressional workers. And I ain't quit yet!
    But through it all, I see with old, experienced eyes what the young eyes of Michelle Alexander see -- a police state America -- a racist prison state. Read the book! Look at the evidence! Then start working to save what little is left, if anything, of the real America so many of us dreamed. ... Read more


    6. Library of the World's Best Mystery and Detective Stories
    by N/A
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JMLBTS
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more

    Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars Okay collection of 10 stories, September 30, 2009
    The title page says this is one volume of a six-volume collection of 101 stories, published in 1907 and edited by Julian Hawthorne. From the author dates I'm guessing this is volume 1.

    This collection contains 13 stories:

    The Necklace (Guy de Maupassant)
    The Miracle of Zobeide (Pierre Mille)
    The Torture of Hope (Villiers de L'Isle Adam)
    The Owl's Ear, The Invisible Eye, The Water of Death (Erckmann-Chatrain)
    Melmoth Reconciled, The Conscript (Balzac)
    Zadig the Babylonian (Voltaire)
    The Nail (Perdo de Alarcon)
    The Desposition (Luigi Capuana)
    The Adventure of the Three Robbers (Lucius Apuleius)
    Letter to Sura (Pliny the Younger)

    The kindle edition hase no active table of contents, no navigation at all. It is 3790 "locations" long. The formatting of the text itself seems okay, italics where italics belong, but sometimes it's not always easy to tell when a story ends and commentary for the next begins.

    The stories are mostly 18th- & 19th-century European. If you like that sort of stuff. They do not strike me as mystery stories I know. These seem story first, mystery second.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Good read., July 18, 2010
    I enjoyed reading this book, but was a little disappointed to find that most of the stories are not Mysteries and that was really what I wanted. The book is a good read, has wonderful stories just hardly any mysteries.

    3-0 out of 5 stars It's an old book ....., November 10, 2010
    This book is dated, in both plots and writing style. Not that it's uninteresting, but the words of a modern author and one of a century ago aren't the same.

    This book is priced right, and will provide some few hours of interesting reading if you don't get bogged down in the style. ... Read more


    7. Declaration Of Independence, Constitution Of The United States Of America, Bill Of Rights And Constitutional Amendments
    by Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $2.59
    Asin: B0036Z9VFG
    Publisher: SoHo Books
    Sales Rank: 413
    Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    A compilation of important American government documents including the Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States of America, the Bill of Rights and all amendments to the United States Constitution. An excellent educational reference tool to have on hand.

    This is a DRM FREE digital edition (NO Digital Rights Management!), with linked Table of Contents.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read For Every American To Ensure Its Survival, October 16, 2008
    Recently, I purchased this wonderful offering at the listed bargain-basement price from Amazon.com - and thank goodness Amazon understands the singular necessity for providing these documents that form what all Americans have believed is our We-The-People Consitutional Democracy. My concern, however, is just how many Americans today have read this - and if not, why? It is astonishing to read even one sentence of the US Constitution for example and, given our dire national events in play, realize for perhaps a frightening instant that an issue for any state or federal appellate court might be: Does the US Consitution apply in any respect, anymore, to the way our three branches of government (the judiciary, the legislative and executive branches) work today? Or put another way, has the US Consitution become, in effect, null and void?! I cannot answer this question for anyone else - but if you care about America - please buy and read this small book...and then tell a friend who will tell another. Perhaps, one day enough Americans will have read it as a start to making it a reality as a matter of our everyday lives once again....

    5-0 out of 5 stars Durable Desk-top Edition, April 13, 2010
    As for the content, what can anyone say about the Founding Fathers than what the Constitution they wrote and enacted ensured for us!

    The book itself is the desk-top version of a pocket edition except built for page turning and margin notes. I penciled in the content at the top of each page to quicken my research.

    Buy it.

    Woody

    5-0 out of 5 stars Familiarizing Myself Again, September 27, 2009
    I have recently left the Republican party and joined the Constitutional Party in hopes that a better tomorrow can be found for our government. I needed to remember "whereof I speak" so purchased this very good, concise issue that fits well into my briefcase. As a middle school teacher, I want to be ready with the truth, and not the tripe printed in the textbooks.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Very nice piece, November 16, 2010
    Very happy with the overall presentation. No anti-american discalimer. The only thing I wish they had done, is put a heading over the pages to show when you were looking at the constitution, declaration, resolutions, etc. This would allow you to find these other works faster.

    5-0 out of 5 stars a-must-have, May 1, 2010
    A document every American should have and understand. Also, should be required reading in our school systems.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Everyone should own a copy, April 10, 2010
    Everyone should own a copy of our Constitution and READ IT! We have rights you wouldn't believe and the government is trying to take rights that are in the constitution! Every American should carry a copy.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Our Secular Bible, July 22, 2008
    I decided to read this book because to me it is the best secular bible for Americans. It should be read by every secular American in the same way that the religious read the bible. I had lost my copies and this book includes them in one copy.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Next best book after the Bible., September 2, 2010
    We need to know the details of our Constitution and what made America great. Especially when our freedoms are in jeopardy. ... Read more


    8. The Fall of the House of Zeus: The Rise and Ruin of America's Most Powerful Trial Lawyer
    by Curtis Wilkie
    Hardcover (2010-10-19)
    list price: $25.99 -- our price: $17.15
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0307460703
    Publisher: Crown
    Sales Rank: 1772
    Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    “Over the past four decades no reporter has critiqued the American South with such evocative sensitivity and bedrock honesty as Curtis Wilkie.”
    —Douglas Brinkley
     
    The Fall of the House of Zeus tells the story of Dickie Scruggs, arguably the most successful plaintiff's lawyer in America. A brother-in-law of Trent Lott, the former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Scruggs made a fortune taking on mass tort lawsuits against “Big Tobacco” and the asbestos industries. He was hailed by Newsweek as a latter day Robin Hood, and portrayed in the movie, The Insider, as a dapper aviator-lawyer. Scruggs’ legal triumphs rewarded him lavishly, and his success emboldened both his career maneuvering and his influence in Southern politics--but at a terrible cost, culminating in his spectacular fall, when he was convicted for conspiring to bribe a Mississippi state judge. 
     
    Here Mississippi is emblematic of the modern South, with its influx of new money and its rising professional class, including lawyers such as Scruggs, whose interests became inextricably entwined with state and national politics.
     
    Based on extensive interviews, transcripts, and FBI recordings never made public, The Fall of the House of Zeus exposes the dark side of Southern and Washington legal games and power politics: the swirl of fixed cases, blocked investigations, judicial tampering, and a zealous prosecution that would eventually ensnare not only Scruggs but his own son, Zach, in the midst of their struggle with insurance companies over Hurricane Katrina damages. In gripping detail, Curtis Wilkie crafts an authentic legal thriller propelled by a “welter of betrayals and personal hatreds,” providing large supporting parts for Trent Lott and Jim Biden, brother of then-Senator Joe, and cameos by John McCain, Al Gore, and other DC insiders and influence peddlers.
     
    Above all, we get to see how and why the mighty fail and fall, a story as gripping and timeless as a Greek tragedy.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars The antithesis of Atticus Finch, October 25, 2010
    Growing up in the 1960s, I remember my love of Harper Lee's TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. The novel that recently celebrated its 50th anniversary of publication portrayed Atticus Finch as an attorney fighting injustice and bigotry in America's south. Played by Gregory Peck, Finch became a shining example for many of my generation who chose the law as a noble and honorable profession. One-half century later, the legal profession is no longer viewed with the same sense of inspiration. Lawyers, especially trial lawyers, are now considered to be greedy, evil and dishonest practitioners who will take any client for a fee, and are frequent targets of political and media scorn.

    THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF ZEUS by Curtis Wilkie tells the story of Dickie Scruggs, an attorney whose career represents the antithesis of the fictional Atticus Finch. Both were products of the Deep South, but Scruggs stood for everything that Finch abhorred. Wilkie, a reporter for more than 40 years and currently a professor at the University of Mississippi, was familiar with Scruggs and many of his contemporaries. After Scruggs was indicted by a federal grand jury, Wilkie began working on this book. He interviewed Scruggs, his son Zach, prosecutors, FBI agents and many attorneys. The result is a fast-paced drama that readers might well confuse with a John Grisham novel.

    Wilkie's narrative is far more than the story of Dickie Scruggs, however. It is a tale of the modern South, its political past and present, new money, rising professional class and richly held traditions. All of these ingredients are vividly portrayed to weave a story that has substantial parts good and evil as well as success and failure.

    Were it not for his eventual downfall, the life of Scruggs would be a modern-day Horatio Alger story. Scruggs, who grew up poor in Mississippi, once remarked, "We were so poor that if I hadn't been a boy, I wouldn't have had anything to play with." He served in the Navy and graduated from the University of Mississippi Law School. After a brief stint as an insurance defense lawyer, he opened his own office and won his first major case handling asbestos injury claims for workers in the Pascagoula, Mississippi shipyard. He also married the sister of powerful U.S. Senator Trent Lott. Although Scruggs was an active Democrat, the political connections of the Republican leader of the U.S. Senate were helpful.

    Beyond asbestos, Scruggs represented Mississippi in its litigation against the tobacco industry. His legal fees were in the hundreds of millions. Suits against drug manufacturers and litigation surrounding Hurricane Katrina followed. Mississippi became a haven for plaintiff's lawyers who did their best to cultivate a plaintiff-friendly judiciary with enormous political contributions.

    Like most successful trial lawyers, Scruggs was not shy about his success. He led a lavish life, built a multi-million-dollar home, and was a major contributor to his alma mater, Ole Miss. But his achievements brought him enemies. Ultimately he was indicted for attempting to bribe Mississippi state court judges. He eventually pled guilty and is presently incarcerated in federal prison, due to be released in 2015.

    THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF ZEUS is an honest and thorough portrayal of a man who had great success as an attorney at a steep price. Anyone interested in the law and its interplay with industry and politics will find this to be an important and compelling book. America's national pastime is the law, and fans of that pastime will enjoy this noteworthy work.

    --- Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman

    5-0 out of 5 stars Curtis Wilkie at his best, November 22, 2010
    Curtis Wilkie has had a remarkable career as a journalist, from his days as a cub reporter at the Clarksdale Press Register to his work for the Boston Globe and now as a professor at Ole Miss. He is a born story teller and the Fall of the House of Zeus is a wonderful work of contemporary history. Unlike some of the other reviewers on Amazon, I would not compare him to Grisham -- Wilkie is a far better story teller. In addition, he tells a remarkable story about Dick Scruggs, making Scruggs into a human being, not quite Atticus Finch but a sympathetic human being, with real virtues. Congratulations to Wilkie for telling a remarkable story about corruption in politics, about Mississippi, about humanity.

    5-0 out of 5 stars If it were not true, it would be hard to believe, November 21, 2010
    As a Mississippian who now lives in Georgia, I was mesmerized by a story that included so many people who were so familiar to me. As I read I continually wondered how the writer could know so many intimate details about the nefarious dealings in the shadows of the legal community. Although his research was impressive, the amount of detail could be intimidating; but he tells the story in true "thriller" fashion in spite of the outcome being obvious from the very beginning.

    Having sat on one of Ed Peters' juries, I thought he was a prosecutor above reproach, only to learn that he was just as sleazy and underhanded as the other players in the complicated money-swap that resulted from the lucrative class action cases. And yet, Wilkie gave a sympathetic slant to the Scruggs family that had me feeling very sorry for Zach and Diane. By the end, I was very sad that the Mississippi I love has been besmirched by people who could have been great leaders.

    4-0 out of 5 stars for fans of legal thrillers, November 29, 2010
    "The Fall of the House of Zeus" by Curtis Wilkie tells the story of Dick Scruggs, a lawyer from Mississippi who comes frfom humble beginnings, achieves his wildest dreams, and nearly loses everything in a legal scandal that ends in his imprisonment.

    First off, I was not familiar with Scruggs when I picked up this book, but enjoyed legal thrillers enough to be interested in a real story. And this story pretty much lived up to my expectations.
    Scruggs grows up in Mississippi, an only child who lives with his mother. Early on, Scruggs yearns to succeed and is lucky enough to get accepted into the "right" college, where his social circles are greatly enhanced and he is exposed to kids from wealthier families. Shortly afterwards he spends a couple years as a navy pilot, until he decides to go to law school. After graduating, Scruggs uses a connection--a senator friend of his mother's--to get his first two law firm jobs, but both end badly. Scruggs is fired from his first job, because he stands up to a partner who mistreated him. Then Scruggs quits his second law firm job after it's clear that he will never be fairly compensated for his efforts. And that's when Scruggs decides to start his own law firm.

    His first success comes when he links up the individual asbestos lawsuits--coming from former employees of a local shipyard company--into a class action, which transforms him into a millionaire. Then Scruggs uses his winning strategy to successfully bring a class action law suit against the big tobacco companies, suing on behalf of states whose government healthcare programs financed the medical expenses of ex-smokers. And just when Scruggs seems untouchable and on the brink of a third class action suit, this time against the insurance companies who denied coverage post Hurricane Katrina, disaster strikes.

    If you're a fan of legal thrillers like I am, then you will probably enjoy this book, two thirds of which focuses on behind-the-scenes actions that ultimately lead to Scruggs' indictment. This is not the fairy tale story of Robin Hood, but rather a cautionary tale of too much greed, power, and betrayal.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Stranger than fiction, December 11, 2010
    If this were a novel, the byzantine plot line would be hard to believe. Wilkie starts slowly, building a solid foundation for the quickening pace which by the end has the reader unable to put the book down. Other reviewers have compared the plot line to Grisham. I say, Grisham should eat his heart out and so should Scott Turow. Zeus is far more exciting than anything either has written. This former Mississippian thought New York politics was complicated and sharp-edged but not compared to the world so ably depicted by Wilkie. Anyone interested in politics, law, the South, and/or a good read should not miss this book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Interesting Read For Those Interested, December 3, 2010
    Fun read about the rise and, more so (obviously) the fall of incredibly successful class action lawyer Dickie Scruggs. The author writes impartially about the subject, which is actually not as clear cut as I had previously thought. It was fairly fast paced, especially when the book turns from his background to the crime, investigation, and ultimate outcome. A great book for lawyers interested in some light reading.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Better than Grisham!, December 23, 2010
    Although this is nonfiction, it reads just like a Grisham novel ... indeed if you like legal nonfiction such as a Civil Action, or Erin Brockovich, you will enjoy this book!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Well written, November 29, 2010
    Excellent capture of excess gone wrong. While some might simply attribute this novel to "just Mississippi" the real story is that scenarios like this serve as a remainder these stories are playing out throughout our country. Money does corrupt.

    5-0 out of 5 stars My thoughts on this book, November 12, 2010
    I am from a small Mississippi town that is 30 minutes from Oxford. My daughter and son both graduated from Ole Miss. My son and his wife live there now. Many names and places I am very familiar with. As a matter of fact, I know some of the people mentioned in this book. Dickie Scruggs law firm should be renamed--"Dewey, Cheatem, and How!!! ... Read more


    9. The Law
    by Frederic Bastiat
    Paperback
    list price: $6.66 -- our price: $6.66
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 1936594315
    Publisher: Tribeca Books
    Sales Rank: 1456
    Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    The Law was originally published in French in 1850 by Frederic Bastiat. It was written two years after the third French Revolution of 1848 and a few months before his death of tuberculosis at age 49. It is the work for which Bastiat is most famous. This translation to American English is from 1874. ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars The most common sense logic written on government., January 18, 1999
    I read this book in 1980; at the time I was chairman of the democratic party in my county. I really began to do some serious soul searching. I finally concluded I was going to leave my party, as It no longer represented it's founder Mr Thomas Jefferson. This small simple easy to read book totally changed my life That same year I met Jim Hansen, he was making his first run for congress from the state of Utah, I made a deal with him, I would vote for him if he would read The Law by Bastiat. He promised, and I did. I received a nice letter from Jim after he was elected. " Never read a book that has so impressed me". P.S. "Find Yourself another copy, Im keeping Yours". Jim.

    Best three dollars ever spent. Ron Steele Moab, Utah

    5-0 out of 5 stars Should be required reading in Washington, D.C., January 31, 2006
    What book is is important enough that I read it once a year? The Law by Frederic Bastiat. Written in 1848 as a response to socialism in France, this book essay is just as relevant today as it was then.

    "What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.

    Each of us has a natural right-from God-to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties?

    If every person has the right to defend - even by force - his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right - its reason for existing, its lawfulness - is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force - for the same reason - cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.

    Such a perversion of force would be, in both cases, contrary to our premise. Force has been given to us to defend our own individual rights. Who will dare to say that force has been given to us to destroy the equal rights of our brothers? Since no individual acting separately can lawfully use force to destroy the rights of others, does it not logically follow that the same principle also applies to the common force that is nothing more than the organized combination of the individual forces?

    If this is true, then nothing can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all."

    My copy of The Law is filled with highlighted yellow phrases. Among them:

    "But, unfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions. And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.

    How has this perversion of the law been accomplished? And what have been the results?

    The law has been perverted by the influence of two entirely different causes: stupid greed and false philanthropy. Let us speak of the first.

    Every legislator should be forced to read Bastiat's The Law once a month for their entire term and write a synopsis of how they have upheld the ideas contained within it. The tome should be taught in our school systems. It should be drilled into every citizen's head from birth until death."

    When he was alive, Bastiat called the United States the one nation in the world that came close to applying law in a just manner. If he could visit us today, he would puke all over the steps of Congress. He would barf in the halls of the White House. He would upchuck in lobbyists offices all over Washington, D.C. When he was done throwing up, I do believe Bastiat would start a revolution.

    He would definitely take on our current system of governance because we're turning into Socialism Lite 'Less Filling, More Taxes.'

    "Socialists look upon people as raw material to be formed into social combinations. This is so true that, if by chance, the socialists have any doubts about the success of these combinations, they will demand that a small portion of mankind be set aside to experiment upon. The popular idea of trying all systems is well known. And one socialist leader has been known seriously to demand that the Constituent Assembly give him a small district with all its inhabitants, to try his experiments upon.

    In the same manner, an inventor makes a model before he constructs the full-sized machine; the chemist wastes some chemicals - the farmer wastes some seeds and land - to try out an idea.

    But what a difference there is between the gardener and his trees, between the inventor and his machine, between the chemist and his elements, between the farmer and his seeds! And in all sincerity, the socialist thinks that there is the same difference between him and mankind!

    It is no wonder that the writers of the nineteenth century look upon society as an artificial creation of the legislator's genius. This idea - the fruit of classical education - has taken possession of all the intellectuals and famous writers of our country. To these intellectuals and writers, the relationship between persons and the legislator appears to be the same as the relationship between the clay and the potter.

    Moreover, even where they have consented to recognize a principle of action in the heart of man - and a principle of discernment in man's intellect - they have considered these gifts from God to be fatal gifts. They have thought that persons, under the impulse of these two gifts, would fatally tend to ruin themselves. They assume that if the legislators left persons free to follow their own inclinations, they would arrive at atheism instead of religion, ignorance instead of knowledge, poverty instead of production and exchange."

    Read The Law. It will change all your assumptions about what the role of government should be in your life in only 76 pages. When you're done, make your friends read The Law. If they won't, stop being friends with them. Send a copy to your Representatives and Congressmen and ask them what the hell they think they're doing with this country of ours.

    5-0 out of 5 stars On Amazon.com's scale of 1-10.........no less than a 12, January 28, 1998
    To read this essay knowing nothing of the author or when he wrote it, one would never guess that it was first published 150 years ago. This book is as timeless as ANY publication in human history. Bastiat demonstrates a thorough and flawless understanding of both the bright and dark sides of human nature, of the essential role each has played in the growth and divergence of collectivist and (18th century) liberal ideologies, and most importantly, the resulting tendency for government, in all of its most common manifestations, to grow and for liberty to yield. The principles proffered herein are the very genesis of the body of thought most commonly attributed to such brilliant authors as Milton Friedman, F. A. Hayek, Adam Smith, and Thomas Paine. Bastiat was the consummate humanitarian, and a genius with no peer. If you read no other book during your lifetime, read "The Law".

    1-0 out of 5 stars PRINTING PROBLEM IN THIS ITEM, August 30, 2008
    The substance of Bastiat's "The Law" is critical and accurate.

    The good people at Cosimo Books, however, cut off the printing before the end of the book -- the penultimate section of the book ends in mid-sentence, and the last section of the book isn't there at all.

    So I do very much encourage everyone to read Bastiat's "The Law," just don't buy this version from this publisher. (Buy it from the Mises Institute instead.)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Concise, Powerful, Elegant Defense of Liberty and the Law, August 11, 1999
    When I read F.A. Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom," I thought I had read the most inspired and compelling book ever to discredit socialism and other collective-isms. I was wrong...very wrong. I cannot believe Bastiat wrote "The Law" in the middle of the 19th century since it has so much applicability to the 20th (and soon to be 21st) century. If ever there was a concise and powerful argument for defending Liberty and the Law against every social engineer, this has to be it (only 75 pages!). Bastiat is a master of words and the analogy. Every lover of freedom who wishes to get a nutshell understanding of why Liberty and Law matters ought to read this book. Every enemy of freedom (e.g. liberals, socialists, communists, etc.) ought to fear it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A 19th Century Writer Gives Birth To 21st Century Ideology, May 23, 2001
    Fredric Bastiat was a 19th century French law-maker, economist and author. He wrote a number of highly technical works of economic theory, books that are still considered valuable contributions to free-market economic thought. But his least technical work, a pamphlet called The Law, has proven to be perhaps his most enduring from a modern political standpoint.

    Written in 1850, just two years after the French Revolution of 1848, the Law is part treatise and part polemic, an appeal to the French people reminding them of the proper sphere of the law and government and begging them to turn away from their descent into socialism. The Law is also a summary of much of what Bastiat considered to be important from his own work; at the time The Law was written he was very sick, and he would be dead within a year of its publication. As a French patriot, Bastiat was deeply moved by the disintegration he saw in French society.

    As the last vestiges of the class-society were replaced and the new "democratic" order was being instituted, the State was more and more being used as a means by which groups of citizens (special interests) could plunder one another through taxes, transfer payments, tariffs, etc, committing what Bastiat calls "legal plunder." As he saw it, the law was being perverted into a so-called "creative" entity, through which controlling groups would seek to enforce their particular agendas at the expense and through the pocketbooks of the people in general.

    Bastiat argues that the law should be properly viewed as the formal embodiment of Force. That is, human laws should be the organized and formal construction of justice. Just law, he says, is nothing more than the organization of the human right to self-defense. This is a surprisingly narrow definition, perhaps almost too narrow to be truly useful. But I can imagine that Bastiat wouldn't have seen much moral value in the philosophy of pragmatism; he certainly would have made a bad present-day politician, a "flaw" which I find highly admirable.

    Bastiat is revered by many modern libertarians as one of the founding fathers of their ideology, and rightly so. But it seems to me that his work is more accurately anarcho-capitalist than libertarian. To say that Bastiat is arguing for "limited" government is a gross understatement. In fact, Bastiat seems instead to be arguing for the abolition of most all of what today we would call The Government. Many libertarians, for example, probably wouldn't argue the abolition of all forms of taxation on moral grounds. Personally I appreciate his definition of plunder as "...tariffs, protection, benefits, subsidies, encouragements, progressive taxation, public schools, guaranteed jobs, guaranteed profits, minimum wages, a right to relief, a right to the tools of labor, free credit, and so on, and so on..."

    Obviously although Bastiat may not share the views of modern libertarians in every respect, they have much to respect in him. And of course, the average economic and social liberal won't care for him at all, as he makes a special point of going after the vast majority of liberal sacred cows. But more surprisingly, the Religious Right should be wary of taking Bastiat on as too great of an ally. Although Bastiat and his book have been instrumental in forming many right-wing/libertarian ideas about free markets and the proper role of government, Bastiat argues forcefully against the use of the law as a tool for the shaping of moral values. Jerry Falwell and Bastiat are notably out of step with one another. I can imagine that Bastiat would not have much use for the Congressional institution of days of prayer, or for teacher-led prayer in the public schools he so despised, for anti-drug and pro-abstinence programs, or for the ministerial functions that many politicians have sought to usurp.

    Conservatives have an unfortunate habit of revering political figures. But as Bastiat says, "There are too many 'great' men in the world--legislators, organizers, do-gooders, leaders of the people, fathers of nations, and so on, and so on. Too many persons place themselves above mankind; they make a career of organizing it, patronizing it, and ruling it."

    Bastiat didn't believe in the inherent value of rulers of men. Many conservatives hope that their sons will grow up to be leaders in a political sense. Bastiat believed that we would be better served if more people sought to be useful, productive, inventive and moral, instead of trying to lead all the rest of society. Society will function much more desirably when we relinquish the desire for power over our fellow men, and instead seek power over our own actions.

    Although Bastiat's views on law and government may be too simplistic and dated to be implemented literally in a modern society, I believe that there is still much instruction to be had from this book. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in developing an understanding of the roots of modern libertarian thought.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to Libertarian Philosophy, July 11, 2000
    Frederick Bastiat was a French Farmer in the first half of the 19th century who watched his country's government assume more and more power. That is what I thought made this book unique - In the first paragraph, he states his intent of the book to be an "alert" to his countrymen - which is probably why the book is so emotional as well as succinct.

    Bastiat manages to describe the purpose of "law," from a religious standpoint, in the first 3-4 pages. The rest of the book is mostly specific details of how his description of the proper purpose of the law has been thwarted in France in 1850. Many of the same principals apply today.

    For three bucks and an hour of your time, this book is guaranteed to engage you and make you think. In my experience, its ability to persuade people is uncanny.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Negative Rights Positively Explained, October 4, 2000
    Does the government take care of you by making sure you are left free from interference by others? Or does it give form and substance to your freedom by making sure you are given, by the government, enough Maslowian scaffolding to get you within jumping distance of the last triangle of self-actualization at the top of the pyramid of your desires? That's always the question. I'd be free if only someone would pay off my mortgage, or do my homework, or abort my inconvenient child for me. Here in this book is a very good template to evaluate these alternative viewpoints, especially appropriate for smart high school kids, since it furnishes ammunition to carry them through most of the garbage they will find littered in their books, written on their classroom walls, and mincingly elaborated by their discontented, yet strangely power-hungry liberal law professors, all of whom will basically insist on refuting the truth of what Bastiat identifies as the central fact of state power: That the government is "not a breast that fills itself with milk." High school boys especially like that part. Yet this is what so many people think--and Keynes even monkeyed together some funny looking math to show how dollars taxed away and then re-spent by the government become supercharged, and are better for the economy than un-taxed and un-respent dollars held privately. Here is where he meets our Founding generation--all of whom saw how dangerous it was to cede too much function to any government, which of course would need more and more money to fund these activities. Am I straying from the point? No. Just look at our political contests: craven beg-fests for votes based on what the government can spend on you, or how the internet will bring it all "closer" to you. For your benefit. And if someone wants to take less from people in the first place, that's "spending [by the government] on the richest 1%"--who of course have had much more taken from them to begin with. Bastiat explains, in universal terms not hinged to any particular group of pilgrims, kings, or communists, how the law is enlisted in the plunder of the many by the few who control the law, and how law must be continually twisted into unjust forms to keep up the subsidies, the taxes, the programs, all designed to treat the same population differently. His greatest example, though, is to contrast liberty with the perversion of law, (and here he partakes in some cultural non-relativism) by using the image of a tribe of natives who flatten the noses, pierce the ears and lips, bend-up the feet, and depress the foreheads of their newborns, insisting these are signs of beauty. The same thing is done to our laws and our liberty by the socialist plunderers, according to Bastiat, unforgettably according to Bastiat. Would the next generation of any country be more or less likely to make a world-and-life-view out of sucking up to government employees for their prescription drugs, family planning, education, utility bill assistance, or internet domain monopolies if they read this book in time to become immune to the excuse-making and false moralizing of socialism? So do we put the govenment in charge of our kids, our sick grandparents, and our businesses, so we can finally be more "free?" You read Bastiat and be the judge.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Text also available on-line, December 21, 1999
    The text of Bastiat's most prominent essays is available on-line, so you can make up your mind on your own. Start browsing from bastiat.org, it's well worth the trip. When you've read Bastiat, you'll just want to acquire a paper copy of the book, and you can still use digital copies to share it with other people.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent !!!, October 20, 2004
    I read "The Law" as part of my Civics course this year in highschool, and I'm SOOOOOOOO glad it was required. At 16, I'm scared to death at where my country is heading and this book contains the answers for a government and law system that'd make a country I'd be proud of in every way. This is a book I'd buy in bulk and stuff in newspaper boxes if I had the means -as it is all my friends are going to get it for Christmas along with a glowing report from myself. Heck, who needs to wait for Christmas, ELECTION DAY IS COMING!

    This book was originally in a pamphlet format and is a wonderful short summary of what the natures of law and government are and what they should be. But because of this format, many of his arguements are brief, and he acknowledges that not all of them are complete.

    He starts out stating the gifts of God to man are: life, liberty and property. Bastiat insists that man is allowed to defend himself, his liberty, and his property, and that "the Law" was created to ensure that society would be allowed to make use of their God-given gifts.

    Then the he goes on to explain how "the Law" is abused by men. He states there are two basic ways of living, the first is to work hard and produce, and the second is to plunder and live off of others. When man finds that plundering is easier than work, he will plunder. The only thing that will stop him is if there are consequences that he will have to deal with and dangers that he must risk. Bastiat shows how tempting it is for man to use the law to plunder (how "legal plunder" is the taking of property, which -if done without the benefit of the law- would have been a dealt with as a crime). He goes on to explain how this "legal plundering" will ruin a society and cause economic turmoil.

    Bastiat then goes into socialism, and how it plays out in society. He gives examples of various socialist writers, and points out how they view mankind as some raw material that is to be controlled and manipulated. Frederic Bastiat shows how they divide mankind into two classes, with themselves as the nobler of the two, and the rest of man as evil masses that are to be shaped and guided by their own uses of "the Law" and made to be good. They consider themselves to be above the rest, and capable of making better choices than the rest of the world.

    Even though it was written in the 1800's, Bastiat writing is extremely relevant today, and deals with the issues of welfare, government schools, and other subsidies of the law that are not to be. He states that "the law is justice" and that "the purpose of the law is to prevent injustice from reigning" for justice only exists when injustice is absent. It clearly defines socialism for what it is and gives various examples of the results of it. This book has to be (as another reviewer has said) the liberal's worst nightmare.
    SO READ IT! USE IT! SHARE IT! ... Read more


    10. Original Intent: The Courts, the Constitution, & Religion
    by David Barton
    Paperback
    list price: $12.95 -- our price: $10.22
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 1932225633
    Publisher: Wallbuilder Press
    Sales Rank: 2383
    Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    An essential resource for anyone interested in our nation's religious heritage and the Founders' intended role for the American judicial system. Original Intent combines hundreds of quotes from primary sources with the author's exposition on hot topics such as revisionism, judicial activism, and separation of church and state. A substantial appendix encompasses full texts of the founding documents, biographical sketches of numerous Founders, and extensive reference notes. ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Original Intent by David Barton, A must read, June 11, 2008
    Original Intent By David Barton

    This book has meticulous foot notes and references to it's sources. Barton uses the words of the founding fathers themselves to make his points. He uses actual court cases, and even puts the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence in the back of the book for your reference. The author presents the material in a clear and precise manner, and the reader can easily look up, reference, and test his conclusions themselves (his footnotes and index make it that easy) ..... Better yet, Barton actually invites the reader to read the federalist and anti-federalist (the words of the founding fathers themselves) papers after reading this book . If Barton's conclusions are false as some have concluded he's definitely a horrible revisionist since he gives the reader all the ammunition in the world to check his sources and refute him.

    This book has done more for my understanding our founding fathers than the many secular based history texts I've pawned through. The author is thorough, complete, and as I said earlier he gives the reader all the power by giving him/her the power to reference the original documents. The truth is many of our founding fathers were Christians, did read the bible, and most wouldn't approve of the course of action taken against religious expression in our country today. This is a worthy read for the Christian and secular skeptic alike. Truly, this is a must read!!!!

    Postscript: There have been many attacks on this book and those who give favorable reviews to it (as of this date the reviews are 44 five star reviews and 30 some one star reviews). Instead of believing what any man says I urge the reader to do what I'm doing.... Look up the material yourself... Read the book, check it's sources, and make your own conclusion... Don't let the many individuals who leave nasty comments under these reviews steal from you your right to make your own conclusion....

    5-0 out of 5 stars A good summary of the founding fathers' views, May 5, 2008
    I guess it is not surprising to find so many one-star reviews about a book that dispels so many myths about the original intent of the founding fathers' who wrote the Constitution. Of course there can be some fault found with some of the citations used by Barton in this wonderful book, but those who find fault with the citations cannot really overcome the overwhelming evidence in this book that the current courts have far overstepped anything that the founders intended in not recognizing and establishing a single church vs. their views that religion is a fundamental foundation for the Declaration of Independence as well as the Constitution.
    If you read this book, you should also read the Federalist Papers, the words and works of the founders, including Washington's first inaugural address to understand that the current courts have radically departed from the intentions of the founders when it came to the role of religion, vs. established churches in the USA. For many generations, the original intent of the founders was well understood, but it was only until the 20th century that judges decided to re-write the Constitution and take on the role of "a national theology board" that makes earlier debates about how many angels fit on the head of a pin look enlightened.
    A must-read for anyone wondering where our nation has gone wrong.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Based on fact, whether you like it or not, June 1, 2008
    After seeing Rick Green present at our church in Cedar Park, TX, I had to get this book. I am very glad I did. David Barton did a fantastic job of including references for everything. I don't believe there is anyone who can claim that the statements or conclusions made in this book are false or opinion. Only those who don't read the book can be told that it contains false claims and believe that.

    Read the negative comments posted here. The people posting them have clearly either (a) not read the book, or (b) are so left-wing that they will say anything to try to keep you from purchasing and reading this book. Don't listen to their opinions, read the facts presented in this book for yourself.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Will the real revisionist please stand up?, December 26, 2007
    This book has 55 pages of footnotes that reference original documents referred to in this book. The book only has 533 pages which means over ten percent of it is footnotes.

    The people who accuse this book of revisionist history have clearly never checked out any of the original documents. And do not supply more than one or two footnotes.
    I haven't checked them all out myself but I have checked out many, and I trust the man who refers to the original material more than I trust people who think name calling is a valid argument. This book is for real, the negative reviewers are just blowing bias a smokescreen in your faces.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent resource!, March 17, 2007
    Barton shows how the Supreme Court reinterpreted the US Constitution, diluting the Biblical foundations upon which it was based. He includes quotes from the Founding Fathers showing their beliefs on the role of religion in the public square, the limited role of the courts, and the intended limits on federal powers. An excellent and well documented reference! This should be part of the curriculum for every college and high school history course!

    5-0 out of 5 stars I have read and research everything Barton has written. He is incredibly accurate., June 25, 2008
    The first clue that Mr. Barton is telling the truth is the torrent of scathing reviews from the Secularists. I have personally reviewed the facts presented in Barton's books, and have found them to be not just factually accurate, but intellectually honest.

    The first thing to remember about secular historicism, is that the facts don't matter, just the political agenda.

    We Americans write our own history. And the chapters of which we're proudest are the ones where we had the courage to change. - Al Gore, Speech at the Democratic National Convention (28 August 1996)

    5-0 out of 5 stars This is some great stuff, January 15, 2008
    David Barton has assembled a very impressive amount of original source material here. He makes a very compelling case that the Founding Fathers were largely orthodox Christians (not deists, as revisionist historians are so fond of claiming) and that the current Supreme Court dogma on the role of religion in government is a far cry from what the Founding Fathers actually intended.

    With regards to the negative reviews, I rather suspect that their issue was more that they didn't like Barton's conclusions than that his original source material is bad. They know they can't back up their nonsense about the Founding Fathers being deists and atheists. David Barton has really shown that the emperor has no clothes. He also shows that the revisionists tend to cite very little primary source material themselves, and when they do they frequently take quotes out of context.

    In an age of falsehoods, I'm glad that someone has the courage to stand up to the revisionists and tell the truth about the Founding Fathers. Barton has done some very good work here, and quotes primary source material extensively. Although not everyone will agree with every word (those who went to public school may find it particularly troubling, since the public schools generally teach history in a highly inaccurate way), this book is thought-provoking, well-researched, and well-written. I recommend it without reservation.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Great Source of the Founding Fathers, January 11, 2008
    This is an excellent work, just for the biographical information it contains. There may be some minor errors and heterodox opinions in the book, but it's claim that the Christian Framers framed a Nation of Christian States has sufficient evidence.

    Other reviewers attack Barton's work on secondary issues, with a fine tooth comb I might add, that some would think absurd, but the evidence is clear, religion was left to the states, with the states choosing Christianity as their religion. How far have we fallen:

    In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the general [federal] government.
    Thomas Jefferson
    Second Inaugural Address, 1805

    Based on this quote, let's see what religion the people of the states established.

    Constitution of the State of North Carolina (1776), (until 1876) stated: There shall be no establishment of any one religious church or denomination in this State in preference to any other. Article XXXII That no person who shall deny the being of God, or the truth of the Protestant religion, or the divine authority of the Old or New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding any office or place of trust or profit in the civil department within this State.

    Constitution of the State of Maryland (August 14, 1776), (until 1851) stated: Article XXXV That no other test or qualification ought to be required, on admission to any office of trust or profit, than such oath of support and fidelity to this State and such oath of office, as shall be directed by this Convention, or the Legislature of this State, and a declaration of a belief in the Christian religion." That, as it is the duty of every man to worship God is such a manner as he thinks most acceptable to him; all persons professing the Christian religion, are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty; wherefore no person ought by any law to be molested... on account of his religious practice; unless, under the color [pretense] of religion, any man shall disturb the good order, peace or safety of the State, or shall infringe the laws of morality... yet the Legislature may, in their discretion, lay a general and equal tax, for the support of the Christian religion. [pp.420-421]

    Constitution of the State of New Hampshire (1784,1792),(in force until 1877) required senators and representatives to be of the: Protestant religion. The Constitution stipulated: Article I, Section VI. And every denomination of Christians demeaning themselves quietly, and as good citizens of the state, shall be equally under the protection of the laws. And no subordination of any one sect of denomination to another, shall ever be established by law. [p.469]

    The Constitution of the State of Delaware (until 1792) stated: Article XXII Every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust... shall... make and subscribe the following declaration, to wit:"I, ___, do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed forevermore; I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration." [p.203]

    Besides Georgia, the other states believed the same. That these constitutions are inherently Christian can easily be deduced from its words:

    Virginia
    Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1786)
    Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free...the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind...his Almighty power to do...That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever...

    This makes sense because Jefferson believed he was a Christian.

    Jefferson uses encompasses all religions but the right comes from the Lord. Madison uses the same words "Holy author of our religion" in 1812, showing our religion was a form of Christianity, not every religion. This also proves Madison's recommendation for the First Amendment(National Religion) is referring only to a form of Christianity.

    Penn Const. of 1790
    Sec. 3. That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty god according to the dictates of their own consciences; that no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry, against his consent;

    The key word being "ministry" this word at that time only referring to Christianity, as Webster's 1828 shows:

    MIN''ISTRY, n. [L. ministerium.] The office, duties or functions of a subordinate agent of any kind.
    1. Agency; service; aid; interposition; instrumentality.
    He directs the affairs of this world by the ordinary ministry of second causes.


    2. Ecclesiastical function; agency or service of a minister of the gospel or clergyman in the modern church, or of priests, apostles and evangelists in the ancient. Acts 1. Rom.12. 2 Tim.4. Num.4.

    3. Time of ministration; duration of the office of a minister, civil or ecclesiastical.


    5-0 out of 5 stars A light, October 6, 2007
    This book brings to light what many wish to suppress. The name calling and ridicule of other reviews only shows that this book has truth. When people feel they have to slander instead of argue or let people discover the truth for themselves, you know a book must have something to offer. It doesn't take much time to see the faith of the founders. If those who dislike this book would read the second Federalist, any of John Wither-spoon's writings, George Washington's farewell address and on and on. When people disregard what is argued in this book, they show that they are not students of the Founders writings. Every Prof of American history I have had acknowledges their faith.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Captivating, enlightening, & completely true. Read for yourself., December 12, 2007
    I am not a voracious reader, but I devoured this book. I found it to be almost hypnotic while at the same time enraging. As a casual observer of politics from right of center, I have long been aware of the abuses of the judiciary toward our religious freedoms, but I had no idea how far we had fallen. David Barton has not only opened my eyes to the true "Original Intent" of the founders of this great nation, he has equipped me with the truth so that I can beat down the lies that continually and relentlessly emerge from the left. (Just read a few of the 1-star reviews of this book for some examples.) This book should be the required textbook of every history class in the nation. Read it and judge for yourself. ... Read more


    11. The PowerScore LSAT Logic Games Bible
    by David M. Killoran
    Paperback
    list price: $64.99 -- our price: $39.43
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0980178207
    Publisher: PowerScore Publishing
    Sales Rank: 2075
    Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    The PowerScore LSAT Logic Games Bible is the most comprehensive book available for the Logic Games section of the LSAT. The intent of this book is to provide you with an advanced system for attacking any game you encounter on the LSAT. This same system is covered in the live classes taught by PowerScore, and all of the methods and techniques discussed in the book have been tested in classroom situations over many years.

    The book features and explains a detailed methodology for attacking the games section. All aspects of Logic Games are covered, from recognizing game types to diagramming rules to making inferences and answering questions. Entire chapters are devoted to the most advanced game techniques and to time management strategies.

    Logic Games are divided into individual types, and a discussion follows that teaches you how to approach each type of Game, and drills are presented to help you apply and understand the techniques. Thereafter, real LSAT logic games are used to illustrate how the techniques apply to real tests. Using real LSAT questions is a must for high-level LSAT preparation, and twenty-one real LSAT logic games are contained in the book. Each logic game is accompanied by a detailed analysis of the game setup and related questions.

    The author has over 12 years experience teaching the LSAT and has scored in the 99th percentile on a Law Services-administered test. An expert in LSAT preparation, he has overseen the preparation of thousands of students and founded two national LSAT preparation companies.

    The Logic Games Bible can be supplemented by The Ultimate Set-Ups Guide, which features setups for every game in each released LSAT from 1995 to 2002.Also, both books provide access to a unique website for additional LSAT and Logic Games information, and has answers to frequently asked questions.

    For more information about the renowned PowerScore LSAT Logic Games Bible, contact PowerScore at (800) 545-1750. ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Beats the competition hands down, December 21, 2003
    I have currently completed studying logic games with this book, Master the LSAT (which was recommended in several Amazon.com reviews), Kaplan LSAT (for average students), and Kaplan LSAT 180 (for very strong students). The Logic Games Bible by PowerScore was definitely the most helpful of any of the books. Applying PowerScore's methods has reduced my time per game from 13 minutes to 8 - which gives me enought to complete every game in the section - and to boot, I'm hitting 100 percent accuracy on most of the practice tests I've taken from real LSATs and simulated tests from other companies. I didn't think that was possible.

    PowerScore was helpful because it includes clear suggestions for the best way to diagram any of the game types and what to watch out for when diagramming. (As I mention below, Kaplan doesn't do this.) It is the only book of the four I've used that exclusively uses actual logic games administered since the LSAT was rewritten in 1991. The other books don't do that because they don't want to pay as much in licensing fees (which is reflected in this book's comparably high price), but their simulated questions have a much different feel. Simulated questions are often too easy, which can leave you underprepared, or too difficult, which can frustrate you needlessly. In addition, there are certain patterns in the way real questions are set up that other companies haven't been able to imitate.

    I read the reviews that gave this book three or fewer stars, and I found all of them unconvincing. It's true that the book won't solve your timing issues automatically, but no book I've seen was very helpful on timing. PowerScore does have a fairly strong section discussing who should skip a game and who shouldn't, and it goes over some rules for picking the hardest game if you do decide to skip one. I haven't seen anything more than that about timing in any other book. Ultimately, practice makes perfect, and again, using real questions for practice will be a big help in terms of timing.

    This book does have a few typos, which I was surprised to see in a book of such quality in terms of content. But this isn't a mass market publication, and the fact that PowerScore apparently doesn't have the financial resources to hire decent copy editors won't impact your LSAT score.

    Kaplan's book wasn't nearly as helpful. It gives broad suggestions (e.g., use a concise system that you understand), but it's much more helpful to have someone suggest symbols that will capture the essence of most games. I'm still thinking about taking Kaplan's classroom course, since I presume that there is more information in it, but I wouldn't recommend their book to someone on a limited budget. It took me only a few hours to get through the lessons, and I think studying simulated practice tests is a waste of time when you can get real tests.

    Master the LSAT is not a bad book. Unlike Kaplan, it does include a real LSAT logic game in each section. I think it will be a good tool for reading comprehension and the analysis section. But if you can afford to get the Logic Games Bible, I would study with that first and only go to Master the LSAT if you have extra time. Once you have studied the Logic Games Bible, most of the examples in Master the LSAT will be easy. (I completed some Master the LSAT logic games in under four minutes with 100 percent accuracy.)

    Overall, an excellent resource and well worth the extra money.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A serious book for anyone seeking serious LSAT scores, June 6, 2003
    This book is extremley comprehensive in every respect... But if you are smart enough to begin your LSAT preperation a few months ahead of time--and are willing to work [hard]--then this book will do the trick. It helped me score a 179 in February.

    Before purchasing the Logic Games Bible, I took KAPLAN's $1000 classroom course... Right away, I knew "The Bible" was going to be better than KAPLAN because it used the commonsense approach of setting up games BELOW the questions (where there's actually room to write). In every respect, The Bible provides a more systematic and organized approach to setting up games than does KAPLAN. Having The Bible's more diciplined and systematic approach to setting up and solving the games proved invaluable on test day. I finished all four games with 9 minutes to spare. You should have seen the confused looks I got when, after only 26 minutes into the Logic Games section, I put my pencil down, raised my hand, and asked to go to the restroom! Their system paid off. Agian, this book will deliver the goods--but like most things in life, you'll only get out of it what you put into it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Best, Period, September 10, 2005
    I've been studying for the LSAT off and on for the past two years, and I've worked my way through a lot of study guides. Princeton Review's LSAT publication and the Kaplan book (not the 180) are good as general overviews, but I wouldn't bank on taking away any methods that will drastically improve your score. Additionally, using such material in addition to PowerScore materials may leave you confused as to what symbols or methods to employ in a given situation. That said, this is by far and away the most powerful tool that you can have in your arsenal as you prepare for the LSAT. It teaches clear and easy symbolization techniques, helpful places to look in making deductions, and the most effective ways to tackle different kinds of questions. Even after using other LSAT prep materials, I was still answering only about half of the questions in the Logic Games section correctly. After going through this book thoroughly twice, I am much more efficient and scoring near perfect in Games on every previously administered LSAT that I take. This book, in combination with the Logic Reasoning Bible, raised my practice LSAT score ranges from the mid-150's (153-157) to the high 160's (166-169). Beware of study prep materials that tell you that you can perform without first making deductions on the Logic Games portion of the LSAT, as deductions are incredibly important (most likely not only for me) in pre-phrasing answers and eliminating wrong answer choices, allowing a rapid attack of the questions. Also be advised that taking previously administered LSATs under timed conditions is another very important key to success, and the more tests you take, the more your comfort level will grow and the higher your average score will become. In short, if you are struggling with the Logic Games portion of the LSAT, buy this book!

    3-0 out of 5 stars Not The Savior Everyone Says It Is, May 9, 2004
    I agree with the reviewers who mentioned that the Logic Games Bible is complicated and slows you down.

    I feel it, first of all, has too many classifications to memorize--especially in their Grouping Games section--then goes into somewhat-complex explanations about each one. Also, if you have read other guides and are used to the way they classify Games (for example, many guides seem to call them Sequencing, Grouping, Matching, Hybrid/Mixed Games), this guide is confusing in that way, too, because their classifications are pretty different (for example, they have no category called Matching...I think they include those as Grouping Games, but I really haven't been able to tell yet).

    Second, I believe that the author spends a little too much time writing and a lot less time demonstrating. Thus, you can basically sit there and read a whole page of the author's explanation of a type of Game and might not understand what he's really trying to say, particularly if you're a person who better understands by seeing examples already worked for you demonstrating their techniques before you try them on a game yourself. At most, they give you the question and maybe one or two rules as an example...then they set you loose with about 2-4 practice Games to attempt on your own without really seeing what they were trying to say worked out for you beforehand--I, at least, give many of the other guides that!

    Third, I think the author explains some types of Games better than others. For example, he goes into pretty good details about strategies to use on Sequencing and Grouping Games, as well as the many types of Games within those categories. However, after that, the guide gets even more complicated than what I was saying before. For example, the section on Pattern Games, which I had never even heard of before this guide but definitely had encountered in my practice, is mentioned in this guide--which is great--but their explanation of Pattern Games is only two pages (and not even a full two pages) and really doesn't give much insight into them other than to tell you how to recognize them. After learning of these Games and attempting the practice questions they provided in the Logic Games Bible for this game type as well as one I found in "10 Actual, Official LSAT Preptests," I definitely feel that I don't understand these Games any better and don't really know how to approach them--they are the hardest Games to me, and this guide didn't really do anything to clear that up (I still miss almost every question on these Games).

    As far as the more common Games, such as the Sequencing/Linear and Grouping Games, I think the techniques the guide mentions are very good and quite helpful...BUT, using them, I now go even slower in completing Games than before using these techniques! The only Games I have been able to complete in 9 minutes have been the simplistic Sequencing ones. At least I can actually get the answers correct on these Games, though, and have an easier time knowing how to set them up (unlike the Pattern Games). However, I will probably sit down and re-read the guide again, looking for anything I may have missed, trying to understand things I might not have understood before and keep trying to internalize their techniques (and pray I don't get any Pattern Games).

    Reading the explanations given after the 2-4 practice Games they offer in each section is also helpful...but, again, they are not written in the most easy-to-read manner like many other guides out there (I actually think this is the LEAST readable guide of all the ones I've read, and I've read almost all the guides). They also don't have a simple answer key you can just go down to quickly see if you got the right answer--you have to fish through their long explanations (and I just happen to be someone who likes to quickly see whether I got the answers right, THEN read the explanations).

    Conclusion--the book is NOT exactly a page-turner, is NOT exactly written in the most user-friendly way, is NOT a total savior or some kind of guarantee that you will be able to get all the Games right within the time given after you finish it and is NOT worth $44, especially only being 232 pages (a THIN little book, thinner than LSAC's books of 10 but more costly!!) and not giving satisfactory techniques for all Game types.

    5-0 out of 5 stars WONDER TOOL FOR THE LSAT!, April 17, 2004
    Are you smart? Were you shocked at how fundamentally simple you felt in the presence of the logic games section? Read on.

    Of 77-78 possible points on the other three LSAT sections, I typically score 70-72, not a slouch performance. On my first LSAT pre-assessment GAMES section I answered 12 (half of the possible) with only two correct answers. You want to talk about a reality check?! The sheer magnitude of the failure crushed me.

    So I did what you've likely done - purchased "Master", "Princeton", "Kaplan", "Kaplan 180", blah, blah, blah, ad infinitum. Most give obtuse instruction for someone with my GAMES ability. I needed remedial help from step one with a "1-2-3 learn and apply" appoach. This is where the "Bible" shines.

    By using accessible language for someone from a non-logic background, it guides you step by step into full comprehension of games principles (through the most complex and universally applicable) and, most importantly to me, to practical application of those principles by drilling in practice exericses. Included are full (read:complete) explanations of all answers for the times you say, "huh?".

    Remember calculus? You kind of understood the fundamental principles, but the ceaseless practice (homework) made you proficient. Same thing. No need to have the esoteric comprehension of a logician when you can apply and win. After all, isn't law about practical application of principles? (Aspiring judges primed to write opinions and set precedents please do not respond.)

    If you are already scoring 20 points in the GAMES section or possess a preternatural ability to manipulate these questions in mental space, forget this book. Pick up "Kaplan 180" and enjoy your Yale scholarship. For the rest of us, the "Bible" is REQUIRED reading.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Your scores will go up, March 18, 2006
    I used this when preparing for the LSAT and my practices scores increased an average of 11 points once I had mastered the games section. Unless you are a natural with this section, I highly recommend you use this book to learn strategies to attack that section. It will teach you how to identify which "type" of game you are dealing with, and then you will learn the various strategies specific for each type. It's a really big book, so you will have tons of practice. This book removed all the mystery of the logic games for me, I'm so glad I had it. I only wish I had ordered it sooner so I could have spent more time on it. You might want to also consider the Logic Games Setup, which helps breakdown the solutions on past LSAT tests.

    4-0 out of 5 stars If You are Scared by Logic Games Get This Book!, November 18, 2003
    For me, the worst part of the LSAT was the logic games section. I purchased several other books including Kaplan and Princeton Review before buying this book. This by far, was the best resource I could have invested in for the Logic Games Section of the LSAT. I can't imagine having taken the test without the aid of this book. It wasn't a page turner, but I worked my way through each chapter carefully and ended up doing much better on the Logic Games section of the LSAT than I ever imagined possible. If you are anything like me and are CONFUSED and frustrated by the logic games and about to give up, buy this book, work through it carefully, take notes, and you will notice a huge difference in your performance. Following the advice in this book was the single most important step I took in improving my score, and I recommend this book to anyone who wants to get a good LSAT score and is willing to invest some time and energy in methodically applying the techniques that are outlined in the book to their practice tests and studies.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Taking the Lsat?--Buy this Book, May 10, 2005
    I am recommending this book to anyone who is going to take the LSAT but not going to take a review course. The Logic Games Bible exposes you to a variety of games and clearly explains each game and answer. The first practice tests I took, I was getting 10-12 of the questions correct, now I'm only missing 2-4. My score has jumped from 149 to 162. A lot of it has to do with reading this book. Hands down, the best book you can buy to self-study for the LSAT.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Clear and Comprehensive, July 6, 2006
    I usually dreaded logic games like the ones that appear in the LSAT. While some of the questions were generally straightfoward, there were some that I just couldn't get or would eventually get after spending great quantities of energy and time -- which is a definite no-no on the LSAT.

    I bought the Logic Games Bible because I wasn't impressed with Kaplan's review materials, and I wasn't going to waste my money on actual classes. After only a few weeks of careful review, the logic games became clearer. I began to solve them faster and with greater accuracy. I scored perfectly on the LSAT logic games section after using onyl this book.

    This is a definite buy for anyone who struggles with logic games. Powerscore takes you step-by-step to not only set up the games but also to teach what inferences can be drawn from certain game rules. Like most learning, once you see Powerscore set up a problem or draw and inference, that knowledge stays with you.

    Highly recommended.

    5-0 out of 5 stars this one worked for me, May 3, 2004
    There are two things to know about the LSAT before studying for it: (1) at least for native English speakers, the analytic (or "logic games") section of the test is by far the most challenging; and (2) no one can do well on the analytic section without study and practice. Thus the choice of the correct study plan geared toward the analytic/logic games section of the test can make or break your LSAT performance, which in turn can go far toward determining where you go to law school (local vs. regional, regional vs. national, top 15 vs. top 5, etc.).

    For some reason, I chose the PowerScore book, and now I'm sitting pretty. This guide has four huge advantages over other guides that I looked over:

    (1) the suggested notation is concise, thus leading to less scribbling time and more answering time in the test. This is very important insofar as the logic games section of the LSAT is the most "intensely timed" section of any test that I've ever taken.

    (2) the categorization of problem types is accurate and easy to understand. As any guide will tell you, the logic games featured in the LSAT fall into a small set of recognizable types. However, some guides that I've seen posit phalanx of potential problem types, including types of problems that make reference to non-essential attributes like time. This is BAD. A linear problem is a linear problem regardless of whether its linear in time or in space. Anything else is needless confusion.

    (3) this guide does NOT propose shortcuts to problem solving. By contrast, other guides that I encountered suggested FROM THE BEGINNING that test takers plan to skip a problem completely in order to save time. This is a supposed shortcut that actually cripples your performance before you've even begun. In reality, there are methods for solving logic game problems, but there are no short cuts. Use the methods recommended, practice alot, and then and only then consider skipping anything. (In my LSAT, I answered every problem, scored well, and had a minute or two left over to sharpen my pencil.)

    (3) the sample problems are mostly taken from actual LSATs, and the made up problems are true to the LSAT model. Particularly nice is the reference in the back of the book that characterizes EACH published LSAT analytic problem as regards problem type.

    In sum, I studied for a month and a half for the LSAT, using the Logic Games Bible as my study guide and LSAC's 10 More Actual, Official LSAT PrepTests for my practice material. I practiced the tests (both in part and in full) under timed conditions. I disregarded the reading comp. and logic sections almost entirely. Result: I scored well enough to get me where I want to go, and suffice it to say I was aiming high from the beginning. ... Read more


    12. Property, 7th Edition
    by Jesse Dukeminier, James Krier, Gregory Alexander, Michael Schill
    Hardcover
    list price: $179.00 -- our price: $143.20
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0735588996
    Publisher: Aspen Publishers
    Sales Rank: 802
    Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    SHIPS WITHIN 24 HOURS NEW BOOK FROM PUBLISHER US HARDCOVER 7TH EDITION STILL IN THE PLASTIC WRAP WITH ELECTRONIC VERSION OF THE BOOK INCLUDED GREAT BUY!!! ... Read more

    Reviews

    1-0 out of 5 stars Most opaque prop text out there - be mad at ur prof if they choose this one, December 11, 2010
    Dukeminier has the unique gift of making even simple topics as opaque as possible. You will need supplements, lots of them, because of the awful way this book is structured, cases chosen, the odd phrasing and, in particular, how future interests are presented. Want proof - Look at "Acing Property" supplement where they give you a special appendix for the way Dukeminier presents things, particularly Rule Against Perpetuities - something already too complicated on its own that Duke manages to foul up further. I really wish law professors would destroy the forced demand for this terrible (more so than most prop casebooks, and achievement in itself) text.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Ok, September 20, 2010
    This was the only book out of the ones I ordered that I had expedited. It unfortunately was one of the last books to arrive. Just wish it would have arrived sooner. In great condition though. ... Read more


    13. On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society
    by Dave Grossman
    Paperback
    list price: $16.99 -- our price: $11.55
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0316040932
    Publisher: Back Bay Books
    Sales Rank: 3395
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    The good news is that most soldiers are loath to kill. But armies have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. And contemporary civilian society, particularly the media, replicates the army's conditioning techniques, and, according to Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's thesis, is responsible for our rising rate of murder among the young.

    Upon its initial publication, ON KILLING was hailed as a landmark study of the techniques the military uses to overcome the powerful reluctance to kill, of how killing affects soldiers, and of the societal implications of escalating violence. Now, Grossman has updated this classic work to include information on 21st-century military conflicts, recent trends in crime, suicide bombings, school shootings, and more. The result is a work certain to be relevant and important for decades to come.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars A fascinating study, January 23, 2004
    ON KILLING is the study of what author Lt. Col. Dave Grossman has termed "killology". This odd term describes, not killing between nations, but the exact circumstances involved when one individual ends the life of another individual, with the primary focus being on combat situations. I've sometimes wondered how I (someone who has never been anywhere near armed conflict) would fare on the frontlines, as killing another human being seems like an almost impossible psychological task. As Grossman casts an eye over historical reports of combat, he found that, apparently, I wasn't alone in thinking that. During the First and Second World Wars, officers estimated that only 15-20 percent of their frontline soldiers actually fired their weapons, and there is evidence to suggest that most of those who did fire aimed their rifles harmless above the heads of their enemy.

    Grossman's argument is carefully researched and methodically laid out. He begins by filling in some historical details, discussing the statistics for shots fired per soldier killed for the World Wars and the American Civil War. It's a refreshing and enlightening look at war that dispels a lot of misconceptions. An average solder in those wars was extremely reluctant to take arms against fellow humans, even in cases where his own life (or the lives of his companions) was threatened. Not to say that any of these people are cowards; in fact, many would engage in brave acts such as rescuing their comrades from behind enemy lines or standing in harm's way while helping a fellow to reload. But the ability to stare down the length of a gun barrel and make a conscious effort to end a life is a quality that is happily rare.

    The book continues on then, detailing what steps the US Army took to increase the percentage that they could get to actually fire upon their enemy. By studying precisely what the soldier's ordinary reactions were, the officers were able to change the scenario of war in order to avoid the most stressful of situations. The soldier found up-close killing to be abhorrent, so the emphasis was countered by inserting machinery (preferably one manned by multiple soldiers) between the killer and the enemy to increase the physical and emotional distance. Every effort is made to dehumanize the act of killing.

    Grossman spends a great deal of time discussing the trauma that the solder who kills faces when he returns to civilian life. Nowhere is this more apparent than in those veterans who returned from Vietnam. Those soldiers had been psychologically trained to kill in a way that no previous army had gone through, and there was no counteragent working to heal their psychological wounds. Grossman takes great pains to discuss how horrifying the act of killing is, and points out how detrimental it is to one's mental health. When the Vietnam veterans returned home to no counseling and the spit and bile of anti-war protestors, the emotional effect was astounding. Most of Grossman's thesis is supported by in-depth interviews and psychological profiles, but it is the story of the Vietnam veterans that comes across as the most disturbing.

    Much of the chatter about this book seems to revolve around the final section, the discussion about our own civilian society. While this is understandable, I actually preferred reading the earlier portions, simply because they opened my eyes to a lot about the military that I had been previously ignorant of. I think it would be a mistake to concentrate solely on the argument's conclusion as it rests heavily on the case that has been building. In any event, the book eventually develops its final conclusion: the methods that the military uses to desensitize its soldiers to killing are also being used in our media, but without the proper command structure that keeps people from killing indiscriminately. In a military situation, firing a weapon without proper authorization or instruction is a very serious offense, and this is drilled into the mind at the same time as the desensitization. Without this safety, there is nothing to hold back the killing instinct, and this is one of the main reasons why the homicide rate has increased so dramatically.

    Now, I'll say right off the bat that I was partial to this line of argument before I read the book; I think that children repeatedly exposed to such images would almost certainly become blas� towards extreme violence. But Grossman's book gave me so much more to think about. It isn't just a Pavlovian force at work here; Grossman points out many reasons (both stemming from society and the changing family structure) for why young people of today seem much more able to kill than their parents and grandparents were.

    I was honestly surprised at how strong of a writer Grossman is. He manages to put forth his argument without boring the reader. By its very nature, a lot of what he discusses is repetitive and disturbing, but the subject matter is so compelling that I didn't mind. Grossman is very logical in his approach and his argument is a powerful one. I highly recommend this book, especially for people like myself who have never experienced war at close quarters. The summary I (and others here) have given is simply not nearly adequate to capture all of Grossman's thorough contentions. ON KILLING made me think harder about a subject that I hadn't given a lot of thought too before. The information and research here is invaluable.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book, November 9, 2006
    As a police officer we spend many hours in various forms of training. Some of this training is dedicated to the rules surrounding the use of our department issued firearms. Some of this training is dedicated to the physical skill of firing this weapon. None of the training is dedicated to what you go through after having actualy used this weapon against another human being in self defense. The extent of my departments response was...absolutely no critical incident debriefing and my appointment with the department phycologist occured 9 days after the shooting. The evaluation by the physcologist last 23 minutes total. At that point I knew that my well being was up to me to provide for. After some research I located this series of books by Dave Grossman. Purchasing these books was the best thing I could have done for myself. The information within these pages helped me understand all the stages of emotion that I was, and still am, going through. I would recommend these books to anyone in the military or in lawenforcement (or any family memeber there-of). They may very well have saved my sanity.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An insightful, ground-breaking study on why man kills man, May 20, 1999
    Dave Grossman has written perhaps one of the most insightful books on what motivates men in combat since S.LA. Marshall's "Men Against Fire". Grossman combines the thoroughness of an learned psychologist with the practical viewpoint of a lifetime dedicated to military service. He provides us with a unique and truly fascinating look into the dark and often terribly painful mental process that brings a man to pull the trigger and kill his fellow man. As an officer in the Army, I consider this book an essential read for anyone who may someday bear the burden of leading men in combat. We often get such a distorted view of remorseless killing from the popular media that most of us are shocked to discover that the act of killing a man at close range is something that very few soldiers are capable of. In a similar fashion to S.L.A. Marshall, Grossman demonstrates with overwhelming evidence how the vast majority of soldiers are tremendously reluctant to kill, frequently prefering to risk their own death instead. The book offers such a profound and important perspective on the nature of warfare at the human level that I suspect it will some day be part a curriculum for training officers and non-commissioned officers on combat leadership. Although the book's primary focus is on the nature of killing in warfare, his conclusions have relevance for anyone concerned with the problem of violence in society. One of Grossman's most useful conclusions is the suggestion that virtual reality video games allow their users to overcome the natural reluctance to kill by gradually desensitizing the mind to violence. This erosion then makes it easier for those who are pre-disposed to aggressive violence to act on their desires in a violent way. With the recent string of high school shootings, Grossman's hypothesis has immediate relevance to current social issues. In fact, he has been a frequent commentator on these tragedies with several national news networks. In summary, Grossman's book peers cautiously into the darker side of man's nature to understand what drives him to kill in combat. What he finds there is vastly different from what we are taught to expect- simply that the vast majority of people are unable to look a fellow man in the eye and kill him even if his own life may be at stake. The forces that allow him to overcome that reluctance in the heat of battle include peer pressure, leadership, training, and physical distance and are examined in great detail.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Powerful Refutation of the Soldier's Bloodlust, February 10, 2000
    Those who have never had the privilege of serving in America's armed forces invariably believe the Hollywood depiction of the modern soldier as a soulless killing machine. As Lt. Col. Dave Grossman shows in his groundbreaking study of killing in war, nothing could be further from the truth.

    Remember the steely-eyed warriors who descended on Normandy, Anzio, Guadalcanal, and a host of other blood-soaked battlegrounds during World War II? Only one in five of these combat infantrymen were willing to fire their rifles.

    Shocking? Surely, given the popular depiction of our fighting men. But military training has never been able to fully eradicate the innate resistance of killing one's fellow man amongst the common soldiery.

    Yet we're getting better at it, with disturbing implications for our society. Grossman's data shows that the current crop of soldiers, raised on graphic violence in movies and video games, is much more willing to slay the enemy. This is undoubtedly a good thing from a purely military point of view. However, the cost is a consequent desensitization to the suffering of friend and foe alike, and psychological trauma which lasts long after the firing stops.

    The introduction of women into combat situations has not slowed the inexorable trend toward a more savage soldier. During training to endure potential captivity as prisoners of war, male soldiers are taught to conquer their natural tendencies to protect females through an active desensitization process (a soldier is a soldier, whether male or female; we all signed up for this, etc.) What impact this has once these brave men return to society is uncertain, but you can bet that one cannot turn their humanity on and off like a light switch.

    A profound and disturbing study which belongs in every library.

    4-0 out of 5 stars LTC Grossman was my favorite Commander., March 8, 2003
    I just wanted to write a quick note and review about LTC Grossman's book and his character. I read a review which stated that, "His only vaguely denounced and hidden desire to change the US Constitution make me want to examine Mr. Grossman's education and military record in depth."

    Let me say, I served briefly under LTC Grossman, then Major Grossman as a new Second Lieutenant in the US Army. He was, in my opinion, one of the most intelligent, thoughtful, and studied officers I ever had the privilege of serving with. It was LTC Grossman, that first instilled in me how a professional soldier acts, thinks, commands, and motivates. LTC Grossman used to give a speech to ROTC Cadets during summer training at Ft. Lewis, WA that was so motivational, by the end the cadets would literally stand up and scream for more. The Army videotaped the presentation and often tried (unsuccessfully) to duplicate it. LTC Grossman used to lead philosophical discussions about the "warrior spirit" that would engage even the least interested. He first enlightened me to think about the mind of our enemy ("One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter") and has helped me understand the minds and motivation of those that attacked the U.S. on 9/11 (I served under LTC Grossman in 1996). You will not defeat an enemy until you understand and address the root cause of their grievances.

    For those interested in LTC Grossman's thoughts, I can recommend taking a look at several of Robert Heinlein's books, which LTC Grossman recommended to me. Specifically, "Starship Troopers", the book bastardised by Hollywood in the movie under the same name.

    Many of LTC Grossman's teachings remain with me today, and he is one person that will impart knowledge that stays with you for a lifetime. While studying for my MBA, I wrote my business plans in accordance with the 5 paragraph OPORD, or Operations Order, and as a result I had more than one professor ask me to review independent grant, business, and research proposals.

    I read LTC Grossman's book as a Cadet, and while I have to admit, much of it made me feel intellectually humble, his overarching hypothesis has passed the litmus test of time. After the Columbine shootings in Colorado, I saw LTC Grossman on a morning talkshow addressing many of the concerns premised in his book "On Killing" which was several years old by then. The events of 9/11 make me believe that we can all learn a little from LTC Grossman that will help this nation understand who, what, why, and how this nation will fight and win the war against terror.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Alters opinions, March 13, 2000
    I am a reporter. Most people would expect me to deny Lt. Col. Grossman's findings, pertaining to violence in the media, as sensationalist and misleading since I should know where my bread is buttered.

    I admit, I was skeptical, but during research for an article on violence in the schools, I came across the colonel's book, "On Killing". After reading it, I became a convert.

    The comparison of the military's usage of operant and classical conditioning techniques with the psychological effects experienced by juveniles when they observe violence - or participate in it, in the case of interactive shoot-'em-up video games - was quite enlightening. Col. Grossman brought a fresh perspective to the debate and convinced me to rethink my original opinion.

    Of course, his theory wouldn't hold unless he could prove that humans, by nature, are unable to kill other human beings unless trained and psychologically conditioned to do so. I believe he did prove this point.

    Simplistic solutions such as instituting media criticism courses, turning off the TV or banning guns won't stop the killing because they don't get at the core psychological problems and they don't address the enabling factors that are co-conspirators in juvenile violence.

    Listen to this man.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, yet fraught with problems, August 6, 2000
    Grossman presents interesting and worth-while reading when dealing with the psychological workings of what it takes (soldiers) to kill. His hypothesis adding two additional phases to the typcal fight-or-flight response was new, at least to me, and makes sense. And his examination of ritual and rite involved with war, in particular the importance of ritual after war, and his coorelation between the lack of ritual and the high precentage of Vietnam vets who suffe(ed) from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was intriguing and even insightful.

    Yet the book has significant short-comings. First is Grossman's lack of proper citation, footnotes, and supporting evidence. Time and again Grossman quotes experts or refers to people and studies but never gives the source. Grossman makes the error of assuming that his audience is as familar with this topic as he is. At one point, Grossman tells of a meeting with a mysterious Dr. Narut who reveals assassin training techniques taken right out of A Clockwork Orange, yet Grossman gives no other evidence to support this. These are elemental flaws in scholarship and rhetoric, and are the kinds of things that would not be tolerated in college research writing.

    The Korean War (or Conflict if you want o be politically correct) is another problem. Grossman explains that during WW II only 15 to 20 percent of soldiers actually fired. By Korea this percentage was 50 to 55 percent, and by Vietnam it was 90 to 95 percent. My dispute is not with Grossman's numbers, but with the fact that aside from this statistic, the Korean War is barely mentioned, and its soldiers are never associated with the problem of PTSD.

    The other, and most important, problem with the book is Grossman's reasoning behind the increase in violence in today's world, America in particular. Essentially, Grossman blames the media, television violence, Hollywood, and video games. His reasoning is akin to that against violent comic books in the 1950's when they were seen as being responsible for the rise in teenage crime. Grossman argues against the anti-hero of today's movies and against violent monster movies such as Friday the Thirteenth. He argues that violent video games condition teenagers just as military training conditions soldiers. Yet he gives no evidence to support his point of view. He cites not one study or even a magazine article to help him (oddly enough, if he had read King's The Danse Macabre, King's textbook on horror from 1950 to 1980, he would have found at least anticdotal evidence). And while he is trying to make this part of the book the crux of his entire argument, he fails miserably because he displays no knowledge or understanding of contemporary American culture or film history/theory and where such characters as the anti-hero derive from. In effect, Grossman comes off as a Nancy Reagan clone, with a "Just say no!" attitude that offers no real insight into why violence has increased, or how to deal with it. Where Grossman wants to hit the target the most, he misses far wide of the mark.

    1-0 out of 5 stars A Highly Flawed Work on an Important Topic, May 9, 2009
    LTC Grossman's book is highly overrated by far too many readers. His book does offer some valuable information on the combat efficiency of people over time on the modern battlefield. There is also some excellent insight into post-traumatic stress disorder. He suggests that in the past soldiers had more time to reflect and examine their experiences before returning to peaceful lives back home. Either armies had to march home, which could take days if not weeks, or they had to take a ship, which could take a similar amount of time. Our current policy of rapid reintroduction of soldiers just out of a combat zone as a cause of problems today is an important one.

    The rest of his book, however, is flawed and should be taken with a grain of salt. To begin with, he takes modern assumptions and assigns them to all eras and epochs of the past, as if people of the past all have the same outlooks and reactions that we do today - they just wore different clothes. His assumption that people are somehow inherently predisposed not to kill each other and only do so with great mental conditioning leading to psychological harm flies in the face of the obvious lessons of history. A reading of history suggests our ancestors often waged aggressive and enthusiastic war with little trouble. Even more importantly, they did not need video games or death metal to encourage them to do it. The society and its views of war, I think, has more to do with reactions of soldiers than any innate mental disposition.
    Some items he mentions show a poor understanding of practical matters. He suggests that centurions simply stood around encouraging their soldiers to fight, while a student of Roman warfare would recognize that the centurions were often in the thick of the fighting and doing so by fighting. They often led just as much by example as by shouting orders. The author also asserts that the reason thrusts with a sword are not used much is related to some psycho-sexual mental block. This only proves he has little concept of weapons through the ages, not to say the fact that he has never seriously used one. He also fails to comment on the development of specialized thrusting weapons in the late middle ages or the development of rapiers. That these weapons were used for several hundred years and thrusting the accepted technique for inflicting damage shows a poor understanding of swords, not to say weapons of the past in general. I wonder how he addresses the spear, the most common weapon for thousands of years?

    Even more troubling is his use of SLA Marshall's work Men Against Fire: The Problem of Battle Command to justify many of his positions. He quotes Marshall's famous firing rate: less than twenty-five percent of a unit would engage in combat with the enemy. The first problem is: He ignores Marshall's reason for this occurring. Marshall felt a lot of this had to do with the way soldiers were trained - only to fire their weapon if they could see a target. In modern war, a target is not always visible, hence the soldiers did not shoot when shot at. The soldiers who did shoot often were armed with BARS, machine guns, flame-throwers, etc. That is weapons that are meant to be used against an area as much as against individual targets. The second problem is that recent research has suggested that it is very likely Marshall simply made up this figure. His methodology was more focused on recreating the battle experience, not obtaining specific pieces of information for statistical purposes. With doubt cast on Marshall's firing rate, doubt has to be cast on LTC Grossman's conclusions and arguments which stem from it.

    Another problem with LTC Grossman's book is that despite saying he conducted over four hundred interviews, he quotes from these very little. In fact, he tends to quote from the same couple of works, Soldiers: A history of men in battle by John Keegan and Richard Holmes and Acts of War: Behavior of Men in Battle by Richard Holmes, over and over again. Because of the repetition and limited sources, many of his assertions seem poorly supported and to rely entirely on the works of other people. If he conducted all these interviews, why does he not reference them more? Also to consider, just because modern people have certain reactions in battle, it does not mean that this is how it has been through time immemorial. This reviewer highly recommends the works of Richard Holmes and John Keegan as an alternative to this poor work.

    Finally, when he is given information that runs contrary to his views, he glosses over it or attempts to make it fit his conclusions. The most prominent example regards the guilt officers feel when men under their command die following that officer's orders. Essentially, he says none of the officers he interviewed expressed any guilt. Rather than concluding that maybe they really do not feel guilt, he concludes they must all be suppressing it. This is just absurd - a blatant attempt to make the facts fit a preconceived notion that the author has.

    It is unfortunate that this book is accepted so uncritically. His work has affected the work of others in a detrimental manner. The subject is an interesting one, but unfortunately poorly researched. Grossman did do a service in pointing out the importance of the topic. His arguments and conclusion, however, are flawed and poorly thought out. Despite his claim to a history degree, he seems to have a poor grasp of the subject and its study. And in the end his book becomes a screed against violent video games, movies, and music, as if this is to blame for all our problems. My advice is to avoid this book if at all possible.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Off Target, January 7, 2009
    Amidst the smoke and karaoke crooning of New Year's Eve, a friend and I got to talking about trauma. I'm a US Navy veteran; I never killed, but I served in hazard zones and as a police officer. She recommended a book--*On Killing*.

    Written by Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman, US Army retired, the book describes itself as the founding study on killing. To my surprise, I found it to be a pseudo-scientific screed against media.

    --On Insults--

    Right off the bat, the paperback takes a swing at skeptics. It compares us morally and scientifically to tobacco lobbyists. It also plays the race card, accusing people who oppose censorship of being racist. The book dismisses personal freedom itself, declaring:

    "I think most individuals would agree that the `just turn it off' solution probably rates right up there with `let them eat cake' and `I was just following orders' as all-time offensive statements."

    I'm offended by populist statements accusing critics of racist tyranny! Yet I read the whole book.

    --On Media--

    Far from a study of killing, the central thesis states: "Finally, *and perhaps most important*, I believe that this study will provide insight into the way that rifts in our society combine with violence in media and in interactive video games to indiscriminately condition our nation's children to kill." (emphasis Grossman's).

    To this conclusion, the book follows a chain of hypotheses:

    1) People are pacifists.
    2) Atrocities and social conditions push people to kill.
    3) The military exploits conditioning to push kill rates higher.
    4) Media adopts military conditioning to program civilian children to kill.
    5) First Amendment and market controls are required.

    --On Veneer--

    Unbefitting these controversial claims, the content is superficial.

    *On Killing* examines American infantry during modern wars. Yet it generalizes that all humans throughout history are innately opposed to homicide. The text doesn't try to consider nurture instead of nature, failing to explore killing across different cultures, demographics, or periods. Nor does Grossman offer a mechanism for aversion, preferring to prattle poetically about people.

    Repeatedly, the author claims original research. In practice, his study is a pile of cherry-picked quotes strung together with personal opinions, urban legends, and movie references. Credible citation is also absent; I would expect APA format at least. The book finally admits to reliance on pop literature for most of its testimonials--not exactly sound science.

    Indeed, whole chapters babble with romantic commentary. Vietnam studies stray into denial that we lost the war, egotistical assertions of American prowess, and diatribes on the treatment of veterans. I often felt like I was reading a talk-show transcript.

    --On Histrionics--

    Frequent hysterics reinforce this tabloid quality. It announces, "After nuclear holocaust, the next major threat to our existence is the violent decay of our civilization due to violence-enabling in the electronic media." Pardon me while my eyes roll right out of their sockets!

    The tone also raised my eyebrows. It sticks to the page with sexual and slaughterhouse metaphors. Yet obscenities are scoured, notably "f---" and "s---". I suspect any book that compares itself to a sex manual, but strikes out the language. I also mistrust loaded phrasing: specifically the repetitious use of "the egalitarian United States", "violence-enabling media", "brainwashing", and "conspiracies".

    The author uses those last two terms a lot, as *On Killing* slips into conspiracy theories. From the start, it declares media violence to be a genocidal plot against black people. The Vietnam chapters suggest an illuminati-like anti-war movement. The final sections build off fantastic *Clockwork Orange* CIA scenarios.

    These creepy assertions bubble out of otherwise sedate passages, until less-discerning readers float atop without any idea that their feet have left the ground.

    --On Manipulation--

    *On Killing* really sails into space when it applies fallacy to American society. The central thesis states that humans are inherently adverse to killing, but modern electronic media reproduces combat conditioning without safeguards. Now I don't doubt media influences human behavior. I do doubt *On Killing* for drawing far-fetched conclusions from dubious methodology:

    >Reliance on Arguments from Authority,
    >Argument from Repetition,
    >Band Wagon Appeals,
    >and Inappropriate Analogies.

    The book also suffers pervasive cognitive bias:

    >Fallacy of correlation versus causation.
    >Omitting reasonable alternatives.
    >Reinforcing bias through false dilemma.

    Example: The book claims graphic media is the only increasing factor in violent crime. This ignores the history of economic conditions, hard drugs, and firearms, or criminal immigration. The book further fails to account for pitfalls of statistical reporting. It reinforces bias by denying the potency of firearms and drugs. Grossman's false dilemma claims that science cannot safely prove a link between media and violence, so we should assume it on his authority.

    --On Conclusion--

    After 300-pages of war stories, *On Killing* asserts that Dirty Harry turned our children into murderers. It coyly advocates government censorship and public censure to control our expression.

    This has nothing to do with a study of killing. This *is* another fallacy, related to the "irrelevant conclusion": the author presents an attractive set of arguments--those sympathetic soldiers-- then switches to a disconnected thesis. Overall, the book calls itself into question with what amounts to a 30-page non-sequitur.

    To paraphrase the text itself, *On Killing* stakes out the same moral and scientific ground as the tobacco industry. It insults readers and their beliefs. Arguments are trite and sag with fallacy. And the histrionics--the melodramatic declarations, the conspiracy theories, and the twisted morality--makes this sham of psychology as crazy as the patient.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A different view of the Vietnam war., October 11, 2004
    Grossman, D. (1996). On killing. NY: Back Bay Books.

    To read Grossman's gripping study of killing in a military environment requires a degree of courage from the readers. In fact, those Vietnam colleagues who are not travelling well may be better off not reading this book for it peels back the psychological layers of training to kill, and then the guilt that has been generated from being part of the harvesting of the body count. Importantly, the author recognises that Vietnam was different, for a variety of reasons, to any other war that we have fought.

    Grossman has impeccable credentials. He rose from the rank of private to lieutenant colonel and served in the 82nd Airborne, 7th Infantry Division and the U.S. Rangers and as a psychology professor at West Point.

    After the Second World War, the British and Americans studied the phenomenon of non-firers. American studies confirmed that in battles only 15-20% of the troops shot to kill. In some situations where several riflemen were together firing at the enemy, others in the group would take on supporting roles (getting ammunition, tending the wounded etc.). There was a conspiracy of silence over the non-firers and those involved in a conspiracy to miss, even when their lives were endangered. The British confirmed that among the Argentinean troops in the Falklands, there was a similar rate of non-firers.

    However, by the time of the Vietnam War, training techniques had been changed and the firing rates were around 95%. Herein lies the root of the problems faced by Vietnam veterans. As a result of the non-firing data, training methods were re-designed to remove the moral dilemma of taking human lives. Recruits were trained to shoot body shaped targets, not bullseyes and recruits were rewarded for "kills". At Puckapunyal (Recruit Training), recruits for Vietnam were instructed to aim for the chest, so if the enemy doesn't die they become a burden for their medical support teams. Bayonet training, which had probably remained unchanged for over 100 years, was designed to massively damage the enemy soldier's abdominal-thoracic region with a steel instrument possessing two specifically designed blood grooves. And, as the RDI said, "If you are unlucky enough to bayonet the enemy in the head and can't get your bayonet out, discharge a round and it should split the head open."
    In, out, on guard! Kill, kill!
    The NCOs' and officers' jobs in combat remain to get the troops to kill. I cannot agree with Grossman's observation that British officers do their jobs better because of the class distinction between themselves and their men, which allowed them to make more objective decisions (p. 168). The "fragging" phenomenon in Vietnam occurred because of this perceived officer indifference to the suffering of the troops.

    Killing another human being is not a natural act, contrary to what the movies would have us believe. Grossman argued that only 2% of the troops are natural killers (psychopaths/sociopaths), the others need a variety of support strategies to overcome the feeling of guilt that eventually emerge. Perhaps a strongpoint of this book is the excellent diagrams, which capture the essence of key points in this treatise. The diagram showing the predisposition to kill (p.188) is a good example of Grossman's clarity of thought. He shows that the demands of authority, training and conditioning, experience, target attractiveness and group support all come into play before the trigger is pulled.

    So, what made Vietnam different to previous and subsequent wars? Firstly, the training was different and the re-socialisation of recruits, particularly those conscripted into the military, was designed to make certain that the troops would kill. The troop rotations generally had new members of units arriving and leaving as individuals, thus denying them the support and absolutions for what they had taken part in. Thirdly, there was no safe rear area and troops had to be battle ready, always. The Swank and Marchand research of 1946 showed that after 25 days in combat troops suffered combat exhaustion, with a reduction in their effectiveness and ending after 50 days in a vegetative phase. Fourthly, the lack of support from the home communities turned many Vietnam veterans into pariahs and it took over a decade to begin to remedy this dreadful, politically driven alienation. As a result, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) manifested itself in many returning troops, who often left Vietnam and were expected to be civilians again within 12 hours. It was interesting that the British sent troops home from the Falklands by boat to overcome this specific problem of the lack of group absolution.

    For me, this book was an interesting read, but importantly it made me understand myself and my veteran colleagues a little better.

    [...]

    Neil MacNeill, 31 Charlie.
    ... Read more


    14. The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court
    by Jeffrey Toobin
    Paperback
    list price: $16.00 -- our price: $10.77
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 1400096790
    Publisher: Anchor
    Sales Rank: 2256
    Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    In The Nine, acclaimed journalist Jeffrey Toobin takes us into the chambers of the most important—and secret—legal body in our country, the Supreme Court, revealing the complex dynamic among the nine people who decide the law of the land. An institution at a moment of transition, the Court now stands at a crucial point, with major changes in store on such issues as abortion, civil rights, and church-state relations. Based on exclusive interviews with the justices and with a keen sense of the Court’s history and the trajectory of its future, Jeffrey Toobin creates in The Nine a riveting story of one of the most important forces in American life today. ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars An intimate look at the diverse group of justices who have served our nation on the Supreme Court over the past two decades., September 17, 2007
    Over the years any number of best selling books have been written about the U.S. Supreme Court. If you are an avid reader like myself then you have probably read a few of them. Of all of the books I have read on this subject I found Jeffrey Toobin's new offering "The Nine: Inside The Secret World of the Supreme Court" to be among the very best. As senior legal analyst for CNN and a staff writer for "The New Yorker" Jeffrey Toobin is uniquely qualified to tackle a topic that most Americans know precious little about and frankly find a bit mysterious. Like peeling the skin from an onion Toobin succeeds in revealing just who these justices are and how they have evolved over time. It is a fascinating study.
    One notion that "The Nine" certainly reinforces is the conventional wisdom that says there really is no way of predicting how a judge is going to vote on controversial issues after receiving a lifetime appointment to the United States Supreme Court. While it seems that majority of justices remain true to their philosophies after being appointed to the Court, a fairly significant percentage of appointees veer off in totally unexpected directions. Throughout "The Nine" Jeffrey Toobin introduces us to the men and women who have served on the Court over the past two decades. Depending on your point of view you will find some of the justices extremely likeable and others enigmatic. You will also learn who the reliable liberal and conservative votes are and who tends to occupy the center. And Jeffrey Toobin spotlights a number of controversial 5-4 cases where those 1 or 2 "swing" votes would make all the difference.
    It is quite apparent that Jeffrey Toobin is a huge fan of the recently retired justice Sandra Day O'Connor. In fact, on a couple of occasions he refers to her as "the most important woman in American history". Appointed by Ronald Reagan in September 1981 Sandra Day O'Connor would spend a quarter century on the bench and prove to be the swing vote in a myriad of important cases. Toobin also views Justice Stephen Breyer in a similarly favorable light. Over the past few years conservative politicians and voters alike have been extremely critical of what they perceive as a very disturbing new development at the Supreme Court. There is little doubt that a number of the justices have been increasingly influenced by both international law and by the decisions of courts in other nations in making their decisions and in writing their opinions. Indeed, the members of the Supreme Court find themselves sharply divided on this issue and Jeffrey Toobin explains which members buy into this approach and why. This is a trend that certainly bears watching.
    "The Nine: Inside The Secret World of the Supreme Court" certainly qualifies as one of the best books I have read this year. Although Toobin displays his liberal leanings in some of his observations from time to time this is nonetheless an extremely well written, generally balanced and very informative book. Highly recommended!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Some Remarkable Insights into the Recent Supreme Court, September 28, 2007
    The last several years have delivered a rich harvest of outstanding studies of the Supreme Court. In addition to some highly technical works by political scientists, journalists have contributed studies of remarkable value and insight. I am thinking here of Greenburg's incisive "Supreme Conflict"; Greenhouse's biography of Justice Blackmun; and Biskupic's perceptive study of Justice O'Connor to name a few (not to mention Jeffrey Rosen -- who is a George Washington law professor but who also writes for the popular press and presents PBS programs as well). The good fortune of we "Court watchers" continues in this exceptionally discerning study by Jeffrey Toobin who writes for the "New Yorker" among other publications.

    Toobin covers roughtly the period of 1992 through the 2006-07 term of the Court. His focus is similar to that of Jan Crawford Greenburg in "Supreme Conflict": the frustration of conservatives at their inability to secure a Court that would implement their agenda on abortion, public support of religion, and diminution of federalism despite a conservative majority on the Court. But as both books so well explain, all that changed with the coming of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito--as some recent decisions which Toobin discusses in his final chapters indicate. What is interesting is that the same members made up the Court between 1994 and 2005; yet the dynamics of decisionmaking changed dramatically.

    To trace this evolution, Toobin discusses the Federalist Society; the Thomas nomination; the pragmatism of Justice O'Connor; Jay Sekulow and his "American Center for Law and Justice";and the perplexing Clinton White House nominations of Justices Ginsburg and Breyer. Toobin uses an effective technique of discussing each Justice in detail not all at the beginning of the book, but at the point in the narrative when that Justice is the central actor. Is is obvious that the author has had the assistance of several of the Justices (in this regard, the book reminds one a bit of "The Brethren") including I would surmise: O'Connor (extensively), Breyer, Souter, and possibly Stevens and even Kennedy. He also interviewed more than 75 law clerks. Hence, the reader is privy to some rather remarkable views of the Justices as seen by their fellows--a major strength of the book. Strangely enough, Chief Justice Rehnquist, whom one would assume would be a central character in this drama, earns relatively little attention. In fact, one of Toobin's most interesting assertions (along with the contention that Souter was close to resigning after Bush v. Gore) is that in the later years of his tenure, Rehnquist really lost his fire to remake law and became content to masterfully administer the Supreme and lower courts.

    One section of the book is devoted to Bush v. Gore, a topic to which Toobin has devoted an entire book, and it is a superb analysis of that unfortunate episode. In the third section of the book, much attention is paid to Justice Kennedy, a puzzling character at times, but one who has assumed O'Connor's spot as the swing vote. Also of interest is O'Connor's growing frustration with Bush and the GOP, despite her central role in Bush v. Gore. The final section focuses upon the Bush White House and its maneuvers in filling the Rehnquist and O'Connor vacancies, another outstanding job by Toobin. The most interesting concept raised in this discussion is the Roberts' Court view of stare decisis--namely, does it still exist? Geoffrey Stone (former dean of the University of Chicago law school and provost at Chicago) has spoken eloquently and perceptively about this same phenomenon.

    The book runs around 350 pages; it has a number of color photographs, 8 pages of notes, and a brief three-page bibliography. By any measure, Toobin has done as insightful and thorough a job in this study as one could imagine. The writing is crisp, does not bog down in legalistic details, and directs its focus where it should--the Justices as a small group together for the long haul and entrusted with making the most fundamental decisions of American democracy.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Sneering conservatives, rational liberals, December 29, 2007
    The book is decent, but I just thought that the author spent too much time describing "sneering" conservatives, and not really explaining what they stand for. The moderates on the court are always rational, and the conservatives are primitive and spend a lot of time sneering, etc. This is a bit unfair (I am willing to bet that Scalia is more intelligent and more interesting and amusing than the author states).

    I also think Toobin short-shrifts some of the liberal negatives. Clinton-appointee Ginsburg once said that she wanted to integrate prisons, so that men and women prisoners would be housed together, because this would force men to understand women better, etc. This type of utopianism is not mentioned in the book (it is the mirror of the conservative attempt to remake America along the lines of the Christian Right).

    I also think that in his discussion of international law, he fails to really present the conservative opposition to using foreign law in the U.S. Our legal system is based on Britain's. I highly doubt for instance, that we would want to import legal notions from Latin America and Europe, where for instance, the Code Napoleon holds sway. In Mexico or Brazil or France or Italy, the state is considered right, and the defendant in a criminal case has the burden of proof to show that he is innocent (!). This would stand our British system on its head (do the liberal justices really want to use such precedents ?). In France, the "terror csar" can hold anyone for 55 hours without charges, just by signing a piece of paper. Even the British have gone a LONG way toward an all-powerful state, and the British have even talked about doing away with trial by jury in criminal cases. I hardly think we want that. And yet, this huge issue is not mentioned in the book. Instead, the author presents the idea of importing foreign precedent into the U.S. as a purely good idea.

    The book thus glosses over much of the "conservative" side of most of the issues. Moderates and liberals in the book reason. Conservatives "sneer".

    The book is worth reading, but I have some pretty major issues with it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Well-Researched, Fascinating, and Important, September 22, 2007
    This is a well-written and well-documented look at our Supreme Court's decision making process. Toobin interviewed the Justices--and many of those who work with them--and has provided an important insight into the workings of this often-overlooked, but equally important and powerful, third branch of our government.

    It's too bad that rightwing posters here have given this excellent book only one or two stars and (laughably) even characterize it as "far left" simply because the facts of how the Court works don't square with what they'd like people to believe. It's unfortunate for them, perhaps, but this is what research and journalism are supposed to do.

    All in all, a great read--and an interesting behind-the-scenes look at a process that all Americans should know much more about--and pay much more attention to.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Good, but lacking . . ., October 7, 2007
    Toobin carefully covers the main legal issues the Court has heard over the last 15 years. They include abortion, separation of church and state, affirmative action and the death penalty and more. He covers two especially deeply. They are the Clinton impeachment case and Bush v. Gore, when the Court, by a 5-4 vote, effectively decided the 2000 election.

    He also goes into the Terry Schiavo case.

    You'll read the portraits of the justices which gives it a distinctive flavor.

    Unfortunately, most everything in the book has been covered extensively elsewhere. In addition, he doesn't tell us how the court actually works.

    This is a good book if you've not read much about the court. But if you have a good knowledge of the cases of the last 15 years, save your money. And certainly if you want to know how the court works, you'll want to find another source.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A grain of salt.., September 21, 2007
    As we move toward the 2008 elections, this book sheds light on a vital arm of our government, and important issues framing the debates. Yes, Toobin may be showing his liberal leanings, but is this so unsettling in our free-speaking democratic society? What Toobin does well -- and is so qualified to do so -- is to share his wealth of knowledge and perspective on that all-important yet all-too-secretive government branch. He succeeds in enlightening us -- and probably, regarding some aspects, the justices themselves -- on several influential developments. One, as pointed out by a previous reviewer, being the courts growing dependence on decisions made abroad. The book is readable and informative...take the liberal leanings with a grain of salt..

    3-0 out of 5 stars Informative and biased, November 11, 2007
    The Nine is an account of the present U.S. Supreme Court. The author tries to present each justice as a personality, not just a legal entity. He delves into their personal histories, describing their families and friends. He also describes their interactions, and the day to day workings of the court. Toobin is a good writer, and the book is engaging and easy to read. It is clear that a large amount of research was done in the making of this tome.

    It may be impossible to write a politically neutral book about the court. This author gives a fleeting impression of such an attempt, but by the second chapter, there is no doubt that he is a partisan observer. As he describes the major players in his narrative, the liberal ones receive high praise, while the conservative ones are mainly portrayed as hypocrites or worse. Toobin describes liberals as "distinguished," "respected," or "venerable," while conservatives earn such adjectives as "petty," "vindictive," or "reactionary." Some conservatives do receive acknowledgement for redeeming qualities, but their negatives usually overshadow the positives. He seems to be extremely fond of O'Connor, who was in the middle of the political spectrum.

    When he writes about individual cases, rather than presenting the arguments, Toobin argues points of law from his own perspective. He focuses on the side that he agrees with, mentioning the opposing arguments briefly and dismissively. He occasionally argues against his own prior positions. Although he ridicules the conservative position that the federal government is too often interfering with state's rights, he is outraged by the court's interference in state's rights during the 2000 presidential election. Many people are on both sides of this argument, since ideology usually trumps principles. Indeed, Toobin writes that the justice's ideology "means everything" in the court. In The Nine, ideology trumps objectivity.

    If you believe that most left leaning legal minds in America are intelligent and caring, while the conservative ones are mostly dishonest dullards or evil extremists, this book will not challenge you. I wanted a greater insight into the workings of the court, and I did not find it here.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Inside the Court, October 1, 2007
    We seem to have a view that the most interesting things to read about are those that are kept secret. As a result we have the Woodward industry which periodically tells us the inside story of work of people who are in the political limelight. Nine is such a book and has all the assets and liabilities of these sorts of books.

    The main asset is that a great story is told, Whether is be the development of abortion jurisprudence or Bush v. Gore we see in the inside story. Toobin is an engaging writer so the story is well told and may even as reported.

    The second asset is the portraits of the Justices. They tend to be brief but we see the justices as personalities. Each has their own quirks which make them interesting. I enjoyed the stories about Thomas and Breyer passing notes. Also the friendship between Scalia and Ginsburg shows that you can be agreeable even when you disagree.

    Also the story of the concerted effort by conservatives to capture the court is fascinating, especially the role of groups who brought cases.

    Now the liabilities. First and foremost because the book is based primarily on interviews one really does not know who is telling the story. Justice O'Connor who seems to be the strongest character in the book may well have given the insights herself. Without giving the source one has to be a bit concerned. After all often the history is written by the winner or in this case by the most available. In comparing this book to Linda Greenhouse's extraordinary biography of Justice Blackmum,which is fully documented, the difference is clear.

    Second the book is light on understanding the legal developments. This is understandable as it is not the purpose of the book.

    As a final point I suggest anyone interested Justice Thomas who I think is the most interesting person on the Court to read Supreme Discomfort which gives insights into his character. ( As I am writing this Thomas' autobiography is being published which may shed more light on him.)

    5-0 out of 5 stars An Intriguing Examination Of Powerful Unknowns, October 14, 2007
    I've helped chaperone high school field trips to Washington, D.C. for a couple of years, and I always find the visit to the Supreme Court building one of the most impressive, but mysterious, parts of the journey. We sit in the dignified, somber, courtroom, hear guides tell us that the Justices are at that moment at work somewhere in the building, remember the historic decisions announced in that room, but we never see the Justices themselves or get any real sense of them as people. Now Jeffrey Toobin has provided a glimpse of these powerful, private people, the world they inhabit, and the challenges they face.

    The Nine basically covers the last twenty years or so of Court history. Not only is it the story of the individuals who have sat on the Court during that time, it is also a chronicle of the ebb and flow of judicial philosophy. Beginning in the early 1980s, conservatives in this country began to work to resurrect "The Constitution in Exile," or the pre-New Deal welfare state status quo which had prevailed until the 1930s, and to put an end to the progressive/liberal dominance of the Court which had been entrenched since the 1950s. Toobin writes that that effort faltered, despite the overall rightward tilt of the legislative and executive branches in the 1980s and 1990s, because of the personalities of the Justices appointed during that period. His heroine is Sandra Day O'Connor, who became the true leader of the Court because of her determination to seek a common sense centrist position rather than adhere to rigid ideology.

    Toobin gives us a good picture of each Justice's personality and habits. I already knew that some were more genial or ideological than others, but it was fascinating to read about their personal quirks and the interplay of their ideas when they meet with each other or work with their clerks. I found new respect and liking for some Justices with whom I disagree and more reasons to admire others whose decisions I generally support. I have no legal background, but I enjoyed and was able to follow the ins and outs of the legal arguments. I gained fresh insight into how decisions develop and how hard the Justices and their clerks work. Sadly, I also recognized anew that the Court can go terribly wrong, as in the rushed, partisan decision in Bush v. Gore. Toobin writes in the last chapter that "the Constitution in Exile" movement may have gained new influence with the Roberts and Alito appointments. His book will be an important resource for citizens watching Court decisions and trying to discern trends in coming years.

    3-0 out of 5 stars A little short, December 22, 2007
    This attempt to emulate the Woodward classic seems to fall short. The author clearly has a point of view as to how certain cases should come out and we get very little analysis of how the Court gets there. The Court is a political institution, granted, but the Constitution does matter in its decision making. The author often snipes at Scalia for suggesting the same. This book would have been better served with more analysis of the critical decisions and their precedents. Then the reader can form his or her own judgement as to whether the Court was right or wrong.
    There is some interesting discussion of the personal relationships amongst the Justices. The liberal-conservative divide does not seem to preclude social activities and friendships, which do ultimately lead to a better functioning institution, something the other branches of government might want to consider.
    Therefore, this is an interesting book, but if you are expecting a greater understanding and explanation of the Court's recent jurisprudence, forget it. ... Read more


    15. How Your House Works: A Visual Guide to Understanding & Maintaining Your Home
    by Charlie Wing
    Paperback
    list price: $21.95 -- our price: $16.33
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0876290152
    Publisher: R.S. Means Company
    Sales Rank: 2021
    Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    Why is my faucet leaking, my toilet running, or my dishwasher refusing to start? Can I fix it myself? What's causing the heating system to smell bad or the foundation to crack? Do I need an air filtration system? Is the new "engineered lumber" as good as conventional wood? These are just a few examples of questions homeowners face when repairs are needed, or when a new house or addition is being planned.

    There's no question that it pays to be an informed consumer. Knowledge of your home's systems helps you control repair and construction costs and make sure the correct elements are being installed or replaced.

    This book uncovers the mysteries behind just about every major appliance and building element in your house. Clear, "exploded" drawings show you exactly how these things should be put together and how they function - what to check if they don't work, and what you can do that might save you having to call in a professional.

    The easy-to-understand pictures and explanations on every page get right to the point, helping you understand how things work, what can go wrong, and how to trouble-shoot a problem.

    Virtually everything in your house is included:

    • Electrical - circuit breakers and grounding, service, outlets, lamps and fixtures.
    • Heating and Air conditioning - gas, electrical and oil - ductwork and piping, thermostats, central and window AC units, humidifiers and dehumidifiers, and air filtering systems.
    • Plumbing - kitchen and bath fixtures, piping, water heaters, traps and vents, septic tanks, pumps and water softener systems - even sprinkler systems and swimming pool filters/heaters.
    • Major household appliances - from kitchen to laundry.
    • Foundation, framing, doors and windows - including issues like drainage and radon, types of framing and how it supports the house, and all types of doors and windows.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Best book available on this topic!, December 22, 2007
    I bought this and two other "visual guide to your home" books from Amazon. This book is by far the best of the lot. I can't say enough good things about it. Here's why:

    1. CURRENCY AND COVERAGE. Published in 2007, it's the most current title, and covers modern home fixtures better than the others. It's also very comprehensive in it's coverage

    2. QUALITY. The diagrams and cutaways are highly detailed, and the best that I've seen - they're also full color, compared to the black and white in other books.

    3. CLARITY AND ORGANIZATION. The explanations are straightforward and insight, with just enough detail to understand home systems.

    4. TROUBLESHOOTING TIPS. Every topic includes a sidebar containing "Before hiring a professional" troubleshooting tips. They explain the 2 to 3 most likely problems with the system, along with the solutions. I just used this book to troubleshoot our malfunctioning garbage disposal. The troubleshooting tip was 100% right. I made the fix in 2 minutes and saved $180+ on the cost of replacing the disposal. The book just paid for itself 10 times over.

    I have 30+ books on home building. This one has a special place on my bookshelf. If you own a house, buy this book. You'll thank me the first time you have the satisfaction of fixing something that goes wrong!

    5-0 out of 5 stars This book pays for itself!, October 12, 2007
    What a great book! The fantastic detailed color illustrations are clearer than looking at the object itself. The very first day I had the book, I was able to repair a broken flush handle on my toilet. In my area a plumber charges $100 just to come to the house, so the book has already paid for itself four times. I'm giving the book as Christmas presents to all of my homeowning friends.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Engineer, January 2, 2008
    I have numerous reference books but this is the first one to actually describe to me how the device functions. The "Before calling the...(technician)" feature was a brilliant idea and a potential money saver for most homeowners.

    My son-in-law teaches middle school science and will be using this book for its wonderful schematics. My other reference books are stashed away on a bookshelf - this one stays on my desk where it is good and handy!

    3-0 out of 5 stars REALLY basic...., May 15, 2009
    After buying my first house, I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me and wanted as much help as I could get. I looked at lots of reviews of DIY books, and this one seemed great. It is kind of a neat book, and does have some good information, but this isn't a book for a do-it-yourselfer. I'm new at it, to be sure, but even so, most of the information in this book is much, much too basic, and all the information inside could easily be found online. This book might be good for someone who usually calls professional help for home problems and wants to save a few bucks here or there.

    1-0 out of 5 stars All But Useless As A DIY Guide., February 26, 2009
    I have four general home improvement books and a score of special topic wiring, carpentry, decking, landscaping, etc., books which have helped immensely as a homeowner seeking to do some of the inevitably needed work without calling a contractor.

    A friend who has zero handyman skills just purchased a home, so I searched Amazon to find a good current book on the subject of general home maintenance as a gift (mine are 10 years old or so). Unfortunately I stumbled upon this book with "rave" reviews and ordered it blindly.

    All in all this book is a waste of time for anyone but the near sighted little old lady living in a rented condo who needs to know what a fuse is. It offers no real repair advice to speak of. What it does is give a simplistic, generalized diagrammatic idea of what things in the home do (such as a furnace, a water heater, a microwave oven, etc.) Then it instructs you to see whether it is really broken in an extremely simplistic way, under the theme of "before you call for help."

    If the item in question actually is broken, instead of suffering from say, a burned out fuse or a burned out light bulb (actual example), there is no repair instruction of any caliber to be found. It is merely a book to determine whether you need someone else to fix the problem or if there is actually no problem to begin with.

    This book is useless except for previously mentioned blue haired bespectacled tenants.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful large diagrams. For newbies OR as supplement to DIY books, June 16, 2009
    Buy this book for the diagrams, OR as an introductory book for newbies. This book consists mainly of diagrams -- very large, clear, detailed diagrams that show how a house works.

    We own several books on home maintenance, repair, and home improvement. Those other books offer much more advice on repairs and improvement, but the diagrams and photos are often inadequate -- not enough diagrams/photos, or not clear enough, or not labeled and explained enough. This book is the opposite of that; it has wonderful diagrams, with arrows and labels for the parts, plus brief text explanations and hints. This book has the best diagrams, so we use it as a supplement to the other books.

    The book includes some "how to" information for basic maintenance and common, easy repairs. However, it is not a comprehensive manual for DIY home repair and improvement. For DIY, you will want to buy additional books for more depth.

    I was pleasantly surprised at what diagrams were included in the book. For example, there are 6 pages of water heater diagrams, for 6 types of water heaters -- electric (tank), gas (tank), electric tankless, gas tankless, BoilerMate(Trademark) water heater, and solar water heater.

    Diagrams showing major appliances are also included -- refrigerators, dishwashers, laundry washers, dryers, air conditioners, ranges, ovens, garbage disposal, vacuums. The clothes washer diagrams just show a belt-driven top-loader machine. No diagrams of the newer front-loading type.

    The index is not bad; it could be improved by adding more terms. For example it has an entry for "evaporative coolers", but not for "swamp coolers".

    5-0 out of 5 stars great for first time home buyers, August 8, 2008
    this is a nice, solid little book - its really quite interesting and informative - presented in a clear way. The illustrations are very helpful - this seems like it would be a good foundation book to have if you are a new home buyer especially.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing book, August 1, 2008
    My husband and I are not really handy around the house, so we purchased this book so we could get to know our home better. We were not disappointed. The diagrams are wonderfully clear and the tips for things to try before calling a professional are wonderful. We have already used the book several times to fix things around the house. The book has paid for itself ten-fold.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great confidence builder! Great resource! Great gift!, June 11, 2008
    I originally checked this book out of the library; I was quite impressed with the clearly labeled drawings, the How It Works section and the Before You Call For Help sections. I then checked out the ratings by reviewers on [...]. Then I purchased several as gifts; all of them were well received. I think that this book is a great resource and confidence builder for any individual who wants to know more about the plumbing, wiring, heating/cooling, ventilation, appliances, windows/doors &/or foundation of one's dwelling. It is very visual and it is presented in clear, easy-to-understand, brief language for the layman. Yet Mr. Wing also writes for professionals in these fields. A highly recommended resource!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Perfect For My Son, December 14, 2009
    I gave this book to my son when he bought his first house. It explains the mechanics of each individual system in his home and familiarizes him with the vocabulary associated with them. He doesn't like to fix things himself but he reports that he's now able to diagnose problems around the house and to communicate effectively with repairmen. ... Read more


    16. Hopes and Prospects
    by Noam Chomsky
    Paperback
    list price: $16.00 -- our price: $10.80
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 1931859965
    Publisher: Haymarket Books
    Sales Rank: 4105
    Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    In this urgent new book, Noam Chomsky surveys the dangers and prospects of our early twenty-first century. Exploring challenges such as the growing gap between North and South, American exceptionalism (including under President Barack Obama), the fiascos of Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S.-Israeli assault on Gaza, and the recent financial bailouts, he also sees hope for the future and a way to move forward—in the democratic wave in Latin America and in the global solidarity movements that suggest "real progress toward freedom and justice."

    Hopes and Prospects is essential reading for anyone who is concerned about the primary challenges still facing the human race.

    "This is a classic Chomsky work: a bonfire of myths and lies, sophistries and delusions. Noam Chomsky is an enduring inspiration all over the world—to millions, I suspect—for the simple reason that he is a truth-teller on an epic scale. I salute him."—John Pilger

    "In dissecting the rhetoric and logic of American empire and class domination, at home and abroad, Chomsky continues a longstanding and crucial work of elucidation and activism...the writing remains unswervingly rational and principled throughout, and lends bracing impetus to the real alternatives before us." —Publisher's Weekly

    "Chomsky’s commentary is razor sharp and offers a compendium of facts that make a well-supported—and undoubtedly controversial—claim of the incongruity between US actions and the democratic ideals it professes....A valuable resource for both academics and everyday concerned citizens." —ForeWord

    Professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Noam Chomsky is widely regarded to be one of the foremost critics of U.S. foreign policy in the world. He has published numerous groundbreaking books, articles, and essays on global politics, history, and linguistics. Among his recent books are The New York Times bestsellers Hegemony or Survival and Failed States.


    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Ignore Chomsky's Hopes and Prospects At Your Peril, May 18, 2010
    As not only American foreign policy but its domestic economy accelerates its decline to a point that only the blind or obtuse can ignore, people who have dismissed Noam Chomsky in the past as "too radical" may now want to read Hopes and Prospects in order to understand what is really going on. The term "hopes" is an ironic reference to President Obama's "politics of hope", a politics that has disappointed millions who worked for his election and have since dropped out, as the right has openly declared class war. Chomsky's new book includes material on Obama's first year in office, and makes it clear that the powerful corporations and their intellectual apologists, who control both U.S. foreign and domestic policy, remain as powerful as ever in protecting their own interests - at the mounting expense of both the American people and hundreds of millions of others around the world.Chomsky goes far beyond exploding the incredible fact that Tea Partiers and others could remain blind to the fact that it is CORPORATIONS, NOT GOVERNMENT which caused the financial crisis, the oil spill, and a disastrous U.S. foreign policy, and that a government truly representing the American people is the only hope for Tea Partiers and everyone else. Mass media and "manufactured consent" explanations are inadequate to explain America's financial crisis and why it is likely to occur again, why America continues to torture and illegally imprison, despite Obama's promise to end it, why the U.S. empire continues to dramatically weaken, and why today it harms the interests of the vast majority of Americans not to mention those suffering under it abroad, and why the situation in the Middle East - not only Israel/Palestine but Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan - will continue to deteriorate as long as national security planners and corporations are able to continue manipulating public opinion and pursuing their own career and economic interests at the expense of everyone else. You may not agree with everything Chomsky says, but the power of his overall analysis and framework is undeniable. His observations on elite behavior explain far more about the deepening climate, financial, Mideast and domestic social crisis facing America than anything you're likely to read in the mainstream media. You owe it to yourself to read this book, whether or not you agree with it all, if you want to have at least a fighting chance to understand the world around you. By all means, take Chomsky on .Argue with this or that point if you will, explain how he leaves out such and such if you must, but disregard his overall framework at your peril. For if you do you will continue to remain blind about the key issues that will determine not only how, but whether, you, your children and your grandchildren will live.

    5-0 out of 5 stars About Hopes and Prospects, May 22, 2010
    This book is a compilation of essays that Chomsky also updated just before its release here in May 2010. Each essay has a topic of focus; Chomsky weaves in and out of different subject material throughout each, highlighting moral principles and hypocrisies of the United States, and the West in general. The issues are grotesque and in need of addressing by us - the public.

    Contents:

    PREFACE ..... VII

    PART I: LATIN AMERICA
    01. Year 514: Globalization for Whom? ..... 3
    02. Latin America and US Foreign Policy ..... 39
    03. Democracy and Development: Their Enemies, Their Hopes ..... 75
    04. Latin America and Caribbean Unity ..... 103

    PART II: NORTH AMERICA
    05. "Good News," Iraq and Beyond ..... 121
    06. Free Elections, Good News and Bad ..... 143
    07. Century's Challenges ..... 165
    08. Turning Point? ..... 177
    09. Elections 2008: Hope Confronts the Real World ..... 207
    10. Obama on Israel-Palestine ..... 251
    11. The Torture Memos ..... 259
    12. 1989 and Beyond ..... 269

    Notes ..... 281
    Index ..... 315

    5-0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking, measured, and grounded in rationality, June 12, 2010
    For forty years, Noam Chomsky's erudite insights into politics and language have proved to be an invaluable contribution to ongoing social reflection. Hopes and Prospects is Chomsky's latest work, warning readers about the latest risks and challenges facing America and humankind during the early twenty-first century. Chapters address the growing divide between America's North and South, American exceptionalism (which still has a strong hold in the era of President Barack Obama), the morass of problems (to put it lightly) with Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S.-Israeli aggression toward Gaza, the controversial governmental bailouts - and suggestions to improve the future, as well as reflections on positive developments such as democratic movements in Latin America and global solidarity efforts. Thought-provoking, measured, and grounded in rationality, Hopes and Prospects is strongly recommended as a vital nexus for social debate over vitally pressing national and global issues.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Chomsky yet again tells us far more about our world than our media ever do, July 20, 2010
    Noam Chomsky yet again tells us far more about our world than our media ever do.

    He writes, "A well-documented conclusion is that sovereignty, hence ability to control internal economic development and to enter international market systems on one's own terms, is a crucial prerequisite to economic development." 25 years of economic sovereignty, backed by exchange controls and managed currencies, did better than the succeeding 25 years of Thatcherism. Protectionism brings growth; imposed liberalisation harms growth.

    In 1985 the World Bank said that in its standard `development' strategy, domestic consumption should be `markedly restrained', support for education `minimized' and `less emphasis should be placed on social objectives'.

    The US National Intelligence Council's Global Trends 2015 (2000) said globalisation will lead to `a widening economic divide' and `deepening economic stagnation, political instability, and cultural alienation'. In law, predictable consequences are evidence of intent. Amnesty International's Secretary-General says that poverty is the worst of all the world's many human rights abuses.

    In Latin America, Obama plays the usual US role. In June 2009, the largely US-controlled IMF at once gave a $150 million loan to the coup regime in Honduras. The IMF had earlier withdrawn loans from the elected government because it opposed that government's policies. In 2002, during the (failed) coup against Venezuela's elected government, the IMF had at once offered aid to the coup regime. France and the USA backed the 2004 coup in Haiti, which overthrew the elected government, causing 8,000 violent deaths in the next two years.

    By contrast, Chomsky praises Cuba's `remarkable record of genuine internationalism over many years', especially its Operation Milagro, which has restored sight to more than a million people.

    He denounces Israel's vicious and illegal siege of Gaza. Israel, with the USA, is destroying any viable Palestinian state. The USA and the EU voted against the International Atomic Energy Agency resolution calling on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to open its nuclear facilities to inspection.

    In the recent US election, the best-funded candidate won 9 out of 10 contests, and Obama was the presidential candidate with most Wall Street funding. This January, the US Supreme Court voted to allow corporations to spend shareholder money directly in future elections.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Chomsky's Best Yet, July 2, 2010
    Chomsky's most recent book, Hopes and Prospects, is his best work yet (keep in mind, I've read a lot of Chomsky). He's the only scholar I know of who can take on the daunting and seemingly impossible task of describing the "state of the world," and do it successfully.

    The book is broken up into two sections: the first focuses on Latin America and the second North America. He covers key topics such as: the connection between neoliberalism and development and democracy; the Obama phenomenon; the new U.S. administration's policy on the Israel/Palestine conflict; the democracy movements in Latin America; the current state of the nuclear threat; and other topics of crucial importance. As usual, he brings forth a seemingly innumerable amount of historical examples to build his basic arguments, which makes this book an excellent place to search for references on a wide-range of topics (as with all of his works).

    In short, if you're interested in understanding the current global context (its most key elements at least), and how it dictates local conditions, then this book is a must read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Chomsky's latest, July 24, 2010
    e book is full of the traditional themes of Chomsky's work, such as US support for terrorism, dictators, war crimes, Islamic fundamentalists, nuclear proliferation, human rights violations,etc. Citing Ahmed Rashid, he notes Reagan's support for the fundamentalist Pakistani dictator Zia Al Haq, whose rule laid the groundwork for the maladies that afflict Pakistan today. He notes that Gullubdin Heckmatyar, the favorite Afghan fundamentalist terrorist of Reagan, is now at the forefront of the political process in Afghanistan. He cites new evidence from the Spanish press about the murder of the 6 Jesuit priests, their cook and her daughter by the US trained Altacatl Battalion in November 1989. He quotes Michael Kinsley's and Time Magazine's positive portrayal of the attacks on civilian targets by the Contras in Nicaragua that terrorized the Nicaraguan people into voting out the Sandinistas in 1990. The Contra war was all part of the effort by the Reagan administration, backed by the Vatican, to restore the poor majority of Central Americans to misery and passivity. He notes that Bernard Fall, the right wing military historian described Vietnam in the 1960's being threatened with extinction "as a cultural and historic entity" as the Vietnamese countryside "literally dies" under massive US bombing.

    Chomsky has a great deal to say in this book about Israel, Obama's continuation of Bush's policies toward its settlement building, extreme violations of the Geneva Conventions and the context of Israel's attack on Gaza in December 2008 and its economic strangulation of Gaza. Chomsky has always stressed that Israel's main goal is not security but stealing all the best land and resources from the territories. He quotes Moshe Dayan from the early days of the occupation as saying privately that Israel should make Palestinians live "like dogs" and invite them to leave the territories if they didn't like it. He also has a few words about the BDS. He suggests that the boycott movement against South Africa wasn't exactly the rousing success that some BDS advocates assume it was.

    There are other subjects discussed in this book. Chomsky notes Obama's continuation of Bush style militarism and the terrible toll on civilians of Obama's drone strikes on Pakistan and air strikes in Afghanistan. He points out the important ways the Obama administration supported the coup in Honduras. He describes the horrendous toll of Haiti's January 2010 earthquake as rooted in the economic policies the US has forced on Haiti. He quotes a number of mainstream strategic analysts, including former weapons inspector David Kay and the neoconservative Reuel Marc Gerecht, that Iran has very rational reasons for building up its nuclear capacity as a deterrent. Chomsky explores the possibility for a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan. He quotes with admiration Malalai Joya, the feminist human rights activist now in hiding from the misogynist fundamentalist Northern Alliance warlord gangsters Rumsfeld re-installed in power. He quotes an observation made by the last British ambassador to the Soviet Union, that from the ambassador's conversations with pro-Western Afghans, these Afghans greatly prefer life under the Soviet backed regime, when women achieved significant gains and the country seemed to be modernizing.

    . Chomsky writes that financial industry interests are clearly reflected in the policies of the Obama administration. He notes that the financial industry has taken up a disproportionate share of our economic life. Economic growth during the Bush years relied on an 8 trillion dollar housing bubble whose extreme danger Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, and other official geniuses did not fathom. Meanwhile, American manufacturing capacity has declined significantly in recent decades. The real wages of most American workers have declined since the late 70's, except for a spike during the Clinton tech stock boom of the late 90's, Chomsky notes. One of the quotes Chomsky often uses in his works (as he does in this book) is taken from Alan Greenspan's senate testimony from 1997 about the stagnating wages and "greater worker insecurity" fueling American economic growth. Chomsky cites an interesting story from the Wall Street Journal relating to Obama's stimulus and the decline of American manufacturing. On the health care bill, the Obama administration made a deal with the pharmaceutical industry whereby the health care reform bill would contain no mandate for the government to negotiate drug prices downward or demand rebates. Chomsky cites a Business Week article of August 2009 which said the health care industry had "already won" the health care debate. Health care industry lobbyists worked intensively behind the scenes to make sure the bill didn't seriously threaten their interests. Chomsky quotes the chairman of the Business Roundtable as saying that the bill that came out of Max Baucus's committee was closely aligned to his group's own vision for a proper reform bill. The Business Week article predicted that the health care industry would come out of the reform process more profitable than ever.

    Chomsky also discusses one of my favorite topics: how the most successful economies in the world, including the United States, have routinely violated free market principles in order to become successful. He points out that Chile's following of the principles of Milton Friedman under Pinochet led to complete disaster by 1982. Since then, he notes, Chile has achieved some economic success by placing controls on capital flow and relying on its copper export industry, the largest company in which is the government run CODELCO.

    I do wish Chomsky would go into more depth on health care. In his works, he often likes to cite polls showing that a majority of Americans have views that are often significantly more left wing than the Democrats. In this book, for example, he cites polls on Obama's health care plan, including polling relating to the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts. These polls show that many Americans opposed to Obama-care base their opposition not on Republican style arguments but on the feeling that the legislation does not go far enough.

    Chomsky is a nice relief from the insanity and imbecility of mainstream political discourse.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Impressive and Convincing, July 20, 2010
    I'm not usually a huge fan of Chomsky but his new collection of essays Hopes and Prospects is really good. The first part of the book deals with Latin America. Chomsky outlines the colonial past and present of Latin American countries and their valiant efforts to rid themselves of neo-imperialist domination by the United States. He states correctly that today's struggles of Latin American countries (Bolivia, Argentina, Venezuela) to oppose the depredations of the US-inspired version of globalization offer hope for the rest of the world. He is also absolutely right in pointing out that "Latin America is not merely the victim of foreign forces. The region is notorious for the rapacity of its wealthy classes and their freedom from social responsibility." Here, Chomsky echoes Eduardo Galeano's classic work Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continentthat decades ago offered a brilliant analysis of how Latin American power elites sold out their own countries to the predatory forces of the US neo-liberalism. Today, Chomsky points out "Latin America has real choices, for the first time in its history." And this is great news for the entire planet.

    In the second part of the book, Chomsky analyzes the influence that the imperialist mentality in the US exercises over the discussions of the US military presence in Iraq. I was particularly pleased to see that Chomsky decided not to follow in the footsteps of most liberal commentators in their refusal to see that Russian imperialism is in no way "better" or more justified than the US imperialism. Chomsky qualifies Putin's actions in Chechnya as "murderous", which they most definitely are. I only wish that more progressive analysts dared to depart from the tendency to praise everybody who opposes the US regardless of the atrocities they perpetrate. It is definitely right that the US imperialism and Russian imperialism should be discussed together since there are glaring similarities between them.

    Chomsky then segues into what I consider the weakest part of the book: the discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As usual, Chomsky's analysis of the issue is one-sided and biased. Israelis are all villainous nationalists and religious fanatics, while the Palestinians are without an exception languishing and tolerant victims. While Chomsky is right in suggesting that the Israelis do everything they can to make sure the conflict continues, he forgets to say that so do the Palestinians. When he describes the Israeli "information campaigns to instruct the world on its errors and misunderstanding, arrogant self-righteousness, circling the wagons, defiance . . . and paranoia," he avoids mentioning that this exactly the pattern adopted by every single nation-state with a very weak and diluted national identity (Russia is a great example of precisely this kind of paranoid nation building. Closer to home, so is the US.)

    Starting from Chapter 9 of Part II, Chomsky offers a brilliant analysis of the 2008 presidential elections and the job Obama's presidency has done since then. He points out correctly that both Democrats and Republicans are considerably to the right of the American population on many major issues, both international and domestic. Hence, it is not surprising that Obama's tepid efforts to defend his intentions to introduce some kind of change don't convince Americans any longer. Chomsky talks about how the American people have been brilliantly manipulated into being suspicious of public welfare programs that would be of invaluable use to themselves while supporting the "nanny state for the rich."

    The fact that the two main candidates in the 2008 Democratic primary were a woman and an African American were a welcome sign, Chomsky acknowledges, that the country has managed to get at least somewhat civilized. Still, we cannot expect the joy from this reality to keep us perennially blind to the numerous ways in which Obama has not been living up to his promise. Chomsky reminds us that "Obama's message of 'hope' and 'change' offered a virtual blank slate on which supporters could write their wishes." And write we did, only to be disappointed in most of our expectations.

    The book is composed of a series of essays and as a result is very repetitive in places. It could have done with a lot of editing because many sentences are simply repeated over and over. This lack of editing is the main reason for the four-star rating I give to the book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A must read, August 7, 2010
    I had only a vague idea of Chomsky and a limited knowledge of international affairs so stumbled on this book pretty much by accident. I found it riveting. Chomsky has a great grasp of his subject and portrays very clearly what international relations is really about. Such an authoritative if disconcerting source is sorely needed and one would hope that it is widely read. I bought several copies to pass around.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Classic Chomsky, but the Title's Decieving, December 1, 2010
    For the most part the book is another masterpiece to add to the Chomsky collection. His critical analysis takes you from Latin America, to the Middle East, and finishes with a critique of contemporary American politics. His analysis is scathing, truly a "bonfire of myths and lies".

    If you have read Failed States or Hegemony or Survival) then this book will feel like an extension of those works. The tone and issues analyzed are quite similar: American aggression in the name of business interests and the its (along with Israel's) well documented crimes in the Middle East comprise the majoity of the book.

    Unlike most other works be Chomsky, "Hopes and Prospects" takes a penetrating look inside American domestic issues. The insurance and financial industry's subversion of the health care debate and financial bailout are of particular interest. The Obama myth is also deconstructed to reveal a figure, which in thought and action, that is not too far from his right-wing colleagues.

    My only criticism of the book is the deceiving title. Much like "Chomsky on Education" (which notoriously had nothing to do with education) the book has nothing to do with hope and very few prospects are mentioned. One will leave this book feeling enlightened, perhaps even empowered to change the conditions Chomsky writes about. However, the book hardly gives the reader much to be hopeful about. Praise is given to some movements occurring in Latin America (the Morales administration for example), but very few prospects for progress are talked about at length. Overall the book, like many of his others, will be quite depressing to anyone who is not willing to take some sort of action to address the issues discussed. May the apathetic be warned!

    However, by picking the book up your probably ruled out of the apathy column. If your like most Chomsky fans you are interested in changing the conditions addressed in the book, and will therefore feel more empowered than anything else. Well worth the read!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Its Dr. Chomsky, how can it not be amazing?, August 4, 2010
    As the titles states, Dr. Chomsky is amazing, with his direct truth, it always leaves a sharp pain in the side of those that prefer to be clouded by idiotic propaganda news channels and low class talk radio. If you are interested in a accurate assessment on past and current affairs in terms of U.S. policy, then get this book. ... Read more


    17. The Next 10 Actual, Official LSAT PrepTests (Lsat Series)
    by Wendy Margolis
    Paperback
    list price: $30.00 -- our price: $19.58
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0979305055
    Publisher: Law School Admission Council
    Sales Rank: 3066
    Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Best Source of Real LSAT Questions, November 10, 2008
    As a professional LSAT tutor/blogger, I find that many LSAT books out there choose to make up their own questions rather than pay the licensing fee to the Law School Admissions Council to use real questions. However, this practice leaves students woefully unprepared. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to study from REAL LSAT questions, which are exactly what this book provides. I recommend this book to all of my students.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Good sample of LSAT questions, July 7, 2008
    There are definitely better books for understanding how to take the LSAT, but this book is a great follow-up because it lets you get a feel for a lot of different types of questions, as well as timed practice for the real test. I would definitely suggest using this along with a different stuty guide to prep for the LSAT.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect, June 2, 2008
    Seriously, if you are purchasing any book that isn't the official LSAT prep test series you are selling yourself short. They do not approximate the type of questions that you are going to see on a real LSAT.

    These books, on the other hand, are perfect for prepping for the LSAT. There is nothing like the real thing.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Value Study Tool, January 21, 2009
    This is definitely a must if you plan on studying and doing well on the LSAT. It gives a good array of questions that were on previous LSATs and it's the most current that you can get in a set of 10. Otherwise you can purchase most recent tests for $8 each.

    It has Oct 1999 thru Oct 2002. I highly suggest working through them timed and use those bubble in answer sheets as you go!

    5-0 out of 5 stars You Absolutely Need This Book!, November 27, 2008
    This book will help you with the two things you need to master the LSAT: 1) Time Management. and 2) Be Ready For Anything.

    After taking these ten practice tests, you will have a good idea on whether or not you can finish all of the sections in the allotted time (you must take them as you would a normal test to be able to figure this out). You will also have seen 40 logic games, and just about every type of question you can see in the other sections. This is more valuable than you will ever realize, and you will thank this book after you do well on the test. There is nothing worse than getting surprised by a logic game in the testing room, and losing out on five questions by default.

    I would highly recommend that you make the time to take as many practice tests as you can, and this book gives you ten great ones.

    Good Luck!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Perfect just for one thing..., July 15, 2009
    I agree with all the other reviews... It makes sense to have actual LSAT tests to study from, but the only thing that I can say the would stop me from giving it a perfect rating is the fact that they just give you the answer key without giving you an explanation on how they derived the answer. Most times you should be able to see what you did wrong but knowing why you got something wrong would be much easier if they provided written explanations for their answers...

    5-0 out of 5 stars MANDATORY for anyone not taking an actual prep course., September 7, 2009
    Well if you are not taking an actual LSAT prep course, then how are you going to get access to actual LSAT practice tests? By the way you can walk into your friendly neighborhood bookstore and grab a copy of any number of different prep books, such as Princeton Review, Kaplan, McGraw Hill, etc. The problem is that the practice tests in those books ARE NOT ACTUAL LSAT TESTS FROM THE PREVIOUS YEARS, which are the ONLY ones you should be practicing with. What is the point of taking a practice test that is not written by the test makers? Sure it will get you better at taking that particular type of test, but it is NOT WHAT YOU WILL BE TESTED OVER ON THE ACTUAL LSAT. So with that being said, please understand that this book contains 10 actual LSAT tests that were administered between the years of 1999-2002. The only difference between these tests and the one you will be taking is that the one you will be taking will include a comparative reading passage. This has been added to the test in 2007. However, you can download the June 2007 test from the LSAC website for free. You can also download the June 1996 test for free (just go to google and type in "LSAC practice test"). I recommend you take the free 1996 test to see the difference between taking the test ACTUALLY written by the test makers and the ones available in the retail stores.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Its what it should be, but that doesn't make it helpful, July 5, 2009
    The book is what it advertises to be, but its still not helpful enough. The LSAT has changed a lot since these tests, and I didn't find practicing with them to be as useful as I would have hoped. You're better off getting more recent tests.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Tests are old and bit outdated, the questions have changed quite a bit since this book, February 23, 2010
    Good for practice, I suppose. It helped me before I took the LSAT in Feb but there are plenty of other free resources you can find out there. Just use google.

    The tests in this book are old, the LSAT has changed a lot in the last 5 years. This book doesn't give you any explanations for the answers, so in that way it can be frustrating. Just taking the test over and over is good for you to learn how to get your time down but when you are getting the same 4-5 problems wrong every section you want to know why and what you can do better. Look elsewhere for your study materials.

    5-0 out of 5 stars LSAT PrepTest review, December 2, 2008
    This collection of LSATs is the best practice for timing oneself and gauging how one will perform on test day. Every LSAT taker should get through at least one collection of previously administered exams. ... Read more


    18. Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion
    by Seth Stern, Stephen Wermiel
    Hardcover
    list price: $35.00 -- our price: $23.10
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0547149255
    Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
    Sales Rank: 4261
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    This book is a sweeping and revealing insider look at court history and the life of William Brennan, champion of free speech and public access to information, and widely considered the most influential Supreme Court justice of the twentieth century.
     
    Before his death, Brennan granted coauthor Stephen Wermiel access to a trove of personal and court materials that will not be available to the public until 2017. Wermiel also conducted more than 60 hours of interviews with Brennan over the course of six years. No other biographer has enjoyed this kind of access to a Supreme Court justice or to his papers.
     
    Justice Brennan makes public for the first time the contents of what Jeffrey Toobin calls “a coveted set of documents,” Brennan’s case histories, in which he recorded the strategizing behind all the major battles of the past half century, including Roe v. Wade, affirmative action, the death penalty, obscenity law, and the constitutional right to privacy.
     
    Revelations on a more intimate scale include how Brennan refused to hire female clerks even as he wrote groundbreaking women’s rights decisions; his complex stance as a justice and a Catholic; and new details on Brennan’s unprecedented working relationship with Chief Justice Earl Warren.  This riveting information—intensely valuable to readers of all political persuasions—will cement Brennan’s reputation as epic playmaker of the Court’s most liberal era.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars A well-written and insighful account of Brenann's life and career, September 5, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Few Supreme Court justices have had a greater -- and more controversial impact -- on American history than William J. Brennan. Attacked by his opponents as a judicial activist, the decisions he authored over a thirty-four-year career on the Court expanded the rights of Americans, including those of such disadvantaged groups as minorities, criminal defendants, and the poor. Two decades after his retirement, his jurisprudence endures in helping to define our understanding of American law in many areas. Yet until now, Brennan's life and career has never received the degree of biographical attention such contemporaries as Earl Warren, Thurgood Marshall, and John Marshall Harlan have enjoyed. Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel go far towards rectifying this deficiency with this book, which offers a searching examination of Brennan's life and career.

    There was little in Brennan's early years to suggest the impact his career would have on the country. The son of an Irish immigrant who had made a career in New Jersey politics, Brennan worked hard to obtain an education. Graduation from Harvard Law School led to a job with Newark's preeminent legal firm, followed by wartime service and appointment to the New Jersey state bench. Brennan's background (particularly his Roman Catholicism) and his work in court reform led to his nomination to the Supreme Court by President Eisenhower, where he soon emerged as one of the Court's most prominent liberals in an era characterized by landmark decisions that helped to transform the nation. Though many of these decisions generated a political backlash that shifted the Court to the right and halted further progress, Brennan succeeded in entrenching many of his earlier gains with later decisions that preserved his legacy as a justice.

    Well written and based on considerable research, Stern and Wermiel's book fills the longstanding need for a good biography of the justice. Their focus is on his tenure on the Court, as they cover the first fifty years of Brennan's life in a mere seventy pages while devoting the next 450 to his time on the Court and his role in the many decisions in which he participated. The authors' explanation of how these developed is one of the great strengths of the book, as they draw upon numerous interviews and Brennan's extensive collection of personal papers to give an insightful account of how these decisions evolved, an account that emphasizes the role of Brennan's political skills in contributing to his success on the Court. The result is a book that will stand for some time as the standard biography of the great liberal justice and the yardstick by which future studies of Brennan will be measured.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating "Inside" Look at Warren/Burger Courts, October 4, 2010
    This excellent biography provides fascinating detail of the formulation of some of the most significant cases of the 20th century. I've never read a judicial biography that has so much "inside baseball" - and it will be loved by Court junkies. But it's also a crisply written and compelling story of 20th century US politics, intellectual history, religion, and gender relations -- told through the life of a towering figure of American history. Anyone interested in 20th century US history will really enjoy this fine book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great book about the Supreme Court, September 23, 2010

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    Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel provide an excellent (although very pro) biography of Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. Brennan was one of the longest serving justices in modern history celebrating around forty years on the court. He was in the majority opinions more often than most and was a crucial swing player in Supreme Court politics. If you want a real nitty gritty look at the major cases of the modern era from Baker v. Carr to Roe v. Wade you can see Brennan's influence running throughout. He was the whip of Earl Warren within the Supreme Court authoring many opinions that helped to hold together fragile majorities on a variety of issue. You also get a great look at Brennan's personal life from his time at UPenn and Harvard to his brief tenure as a justice for the Supreme Court of New Jersey. His elevation was largely based upon his youth and his religion which satisfied the political needs of Eisenhower. Overall a very interesting book and well worth the read for those interested in Supreme Court history

    5-0 out of 5 stars AN EXEMPLARY BIOGRAPHY OF AN EXCEPTIONALLY INFLUENTIAL JURIST, October 8, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel. Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Oct. 4, 2010. 653 + xiv p, 16 p bxw photos, notes, index.

    Even conservatives who hated him admit that Justice William J. Brennan Jr. was an exceptionally effective Supreme Court Justice and that the decisions which he shepherded through to a majority vote on the Court still affect how justice is administered in the United States and the protections afforded to us under the civil liberties clauses in the Bill of Rights. In a thirty-four-year tenure on the Court (1956-90), he succeeded in broadening existing rights and creating new ones (especially under the "right to privacy", which he helped craft behind the scenes) for women, including access to abortion, minorities, homosexuals, the poor and the press. In the process, he became not only the most effective liberal justice to serve on the Supreme Court but also the most hated by his opponents. Indeed, the backlash we see now with the Court's "strict constructionists" can be seen in large part as a reaction to the image of an activist court championed by Brennan and his beloved Chief, Chief Justice Earl Warren.

    This book was delayed so long in appearing -Brennan had granted Wermiel access to his papers but Wermeil put the unfinished notes aside in the late nineties--that other revelations -by Harry Blackmun, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, etc.--have partly superceded it. Nonetheless, this is the most deliberative and the fairest book yet to appear on Brennan and his achievement as a justice. It is especially valuable for the way it shows how Brennan built coalitions on the Court. It was seldom easy to gain the necessary five votes for the same ruling: justices had their own axes to grind and their own perspectives to put forth in concurring or dissenting opinions.

    The picture Stern and Wermiel paint of Brennan's private behavior and views is intriguing. Brennan, the Court's champion of press rights, loathed reporters and fled from the press. Brennan was deeply uneasy even thinking about pornographic literature but he led the campaign to liberalize laws concerning pornography. Although off and on again in his devotion to the Catholic Church and personally opposed to the very idea of abortion, he defended women's rights to make their own determinations about their bodies. Though a champion of women's rights on the Court, he once announced he would probably retire if a woman justice were appointed to the Court (he changed his mind late in his tenure on the Court, by which time two women justices -Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg- had been appointed to the bench to sit beside him. And he was late and dilatory in appointing women clerks in his own office, in part, it seems, because he didn't know how he could talk to them. Still, Brennan comes across as a decent man who possessed the uncommon grace to admit his own mistakes and prejudices and even apologize for them. His genuine charm and niceness won over even most of his adversaries on the Court. The one exception was O'Connor, whom he bruised verbally (and unnecessarily) when she was a first-term Justice. She never forgave him this slight and always suspected his motives.

    It is impossible to say just why the personally conservative New Jersey justice became the admittedly liberal Justice on the Supreme Court: was it his admiration for Earl Warren that led him along, his own self interest (that seems dubious) or a genuine passion for social change and justice for all? We'll probably never know. We certainly won't learn it from the writings and statements Brennan left behind him -he was too private for that and too much of a legal pragmatist to pin his own beliefs down on paper. In at least one area, though, we do know. Late in life, Brennan became absolutely opposed to the death penalty and he restated his objection in every appeal that came before the Court subsequently.

    The book plods at time, and there are a few passages that clang, but all in all, this is not only a well researched, but a well presented, study of an important American figure. He is, in my mind, one of our heroes.

    5-0 out of 5 stars important contribution to history of law, October 17, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    This is a magisterial history of a Supreme Court justice, not so much a biography -- though that it is -- but a story of his times. Indeed, his term spanned the 1950s to 1990, from the Eisenhower years to George H. W. Bush, a tumultuous and important period in the Court in which he had a pivotal role. We see the major cases -- school prayer, free speech, reproductive choice, death penalty -- but we also see how Brennan would defend those cases in later terms, as new colleagues and new Chief Justices came and went.

    The author has also provided us with a rare look at the workings of the Court, the behind-the-scenes debates and intrigue, especially on close decisions -- the decision that seemed so decisive in hindsight was often a tossup in the writing, and in the shifting views of the Justices themselves. And the Justices, many of them historic figures, come off the page as vivid and compelling personalities, and this work can provide some surprising insights into their work, not just Brennan's. For all its length, this book still seems a compelling and readable look at a critical branch of U.S. government.

    Indispensible to those interested in the history of American law, of civil liberties and civil rights, and of American history in general.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An outstanding critical biography . . ., November 8, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    . . . of one of the most important and influential Supreme Court Justices of the 20th century.

    I enjoy reading biography. I especially enjoy reading biographies and autobiographies of 20th century political figures. "Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion" is frankly one of the best critical biographies I have read in a very long time.

    In the mid/late 1980's, not long before Justice Brennan's retirement, he was approached for permission for a biography. Not only did he consent, he provided access to an incredible amount of personal and legal papers, assuring thereby a thorough completed work. While providing a view of the Justice's entire life, the vast bulk of the book deals with the 34 terms Justice Brennan actually sat on the High Court. Brennan's close collaboration with Chief Justice Warren is recounted, as are the complex relationships Brennan had with many of his fellows, esp. Hugo Black, Felix Frankfurter, Thurgood Marshall, and Harry Blackmun among others. Also portrayed, in detail, was his participation (and consensus building) in Obscenity cases; Civil Rights cases; Affirmative Action cases; and his absolute opposition to the Death Penalty.

    While certainly a sympathetic biography, "Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion" is not an exercise in hero worship. Character flaws and mistakes in judgment are addressed fairly and honestly, as are the controversies surrounding many of his decisions. I was particularly impressed by the nearly 100 pages of notes, found at the back of the book. A reader, especially an historian like me, cannot fail to be impressed.

    Who would appreciate this book:

    1) Political liberals, who will find in Brennan a champion (just like the book title suggests).

    2) Political conservatives, who, while disagreeing with many of Brennan's positions, will find the book to be an interesting and informative read.

    3) Lovers of biography, regardless of political belief or affiliation.

    4) Serious historians, again, regardless of political belief, who take an interest in the jurisprudence of the second half of the 20th century.

    All in all, an extremely well-researched, well-written book. I certainly learned quite a bit, and am very glad I invested the time into reading it.

    Very highly recommended!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Our Most Complete Study of Justice Brennan, November 2, 2010
    A superior Supreme Court biography manifests a number of key features: discussion of family and educational background; analysis of pre-Court positions, especially judgeships; careful attention to how the subject was selected and confirmed for the appointment; some discussion of how the Justice interacted with colleagues, including the dynamics of decision-making; analysis of the subject's judicial philosophy; and reasonably detailed discussion of some of the Justice's key decisions. By these measures, this the most recent of many biographies of Justice Brennan (1906-1997) is an important addition to the Supreme Court literature.

    One of the most interesting aspects of the book is how it came about. Apparently after the appearance of "The Brethren" (1979). Brennan became concerned about his public image. In 1986, he met with Stephen Wermiel, then covering the Court for the "Wall Street Journal," and agreed to cooperate in developing a biography. On top of 60 recorded interviews, Wermiel was given access to Brennan's papers, including "term histories" compiled by his clerks recounting important cases with which the Justice had been involved. Co-author Seth Stern took over lead writing responsibilities after Wermiel became an American University law professor, and he conducted further interviews and reviewed additional written sources such as conference notes and other material. In my experience, it is very unusual for such cooperation to be forthcoming from a Justice; the downside is that what we get primarily is Brennan's take on things, although the authors are fairly even-handed in their assessments. In any regard, what we are interested in are Brennan's views of the Court during his service, and they certainly come through loud and clear here.

    The book is divided into Parts I-V, which are presented in chronological order. So, in Part I (1906-1956), are chapters on family background, legal education, initial lawyer experience, military service, ascending the New Jersey state court bench, and Brennan's involvement in state court reform activities. Part II (1956-62) contains some of the most important chapters in the book. An excellent chapter recounts how Brennan, a Democrat, was selected by Ike for the Court appointment. A succeeding chapter focuses on how Brennan adjusted to joining the Court, especially his relationship with Chief Justice Warren, Justice Frankfurter's courtship and eventual disappointment in Brennan, how Brennan used his clerks and developed his famous persuasive techniques, and some of the difficult areas he encountered early during his tenure, including obscenity, church-state separation, and national security issues.

    Part III (1962-1969) shows Brennan at the pinnacle of his influence during the most critical (and controversial) period of the Warren Court. While important decisions in areas like obscenity, criminal justice, and civil rights are discussed, the book scores high points for not becoming too technical or detailed, and always keeping the focus on larger Court developments, such as how the loss of Justice Black, the resignation of Justice Fortas, and the death of Warren impacted on Brennan's ability to build coalitions. Another bonus is the authors focus on Brennan the person, for example in his decision to withdraw the offer of a clerkship to Michael Tigar. So the reader benefits from a triple focus: key Court decisions; how Brennan interacts with his colleagues; and Brennan the person.

    Part IV (1969-82) shows Brennan in retreat, as Burger becomes Chief and Rehnquist joins the Court. Brennan turns Blackmun into an ally and plays a major, but behind-the-scenes, role in drafting the abortion decision. Marshall joins the Court as well, and Brennan is able to exert persuasive influence over Blackmun and Powell. But he fails to charm O'Connor, and as more conservative Justices join the Court, his influence falls to a low level. This trend continues in Part V (1983-1997), although Brennan can still work his persusaive magic on occasion. However, Justices Scalia and Kennedy exert more dynamic influence than Brennan. Brennan urges state supreme courts to take up the slack in protecting civil rights and liberties. On a personal basis, Brennan is reluctant about hiring his few women clerks. Bad health leads to his retirement in 1990.

    This hefty volume runs some 650 pages, including notes. The 90 pages of endnotes and the discussion of "Sources" attest to the extensive research conducted by the authors. A number of helpful photographs are included. The authors are careful and thoughtful in rendering judgments; sensitive to views opposing those of Brennan; and critical of their subject at points. All and all, this is a very fine effort and well worth the attention of anyone interested in the Court and its dynamics.

    5-0 out of 5 stars great judicial biography, December 12, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    I greatly enjoyed Stern and Wermiel's biography of Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan. Justice Brennan's jurisprudence emphasized human dignity. This is a concept not expressly found in the Constitution and it is admittedly difficult to apply. But it was an important concept in a century that saw the rise of totalitarian regimes and bureaucratic power structures in many countries around the world. Stern and Wermiel show how the "human dignity" concept developed over time, and how Brennan was able to build coalitions to achieve the results he wanted in particular cases upholding it.

    Brennan was probably one of the greatest politicians who ever sat on the Court. His ability to negotiate a majority in controversial cases was nowhere more evident than in his surprisingly successful rear-guard action against the Court's swing to the right after the 1980 elections. As the authors point out, however, this "bottom-line" approach did not always result in the clearest or most consistent jurisprudence. His opinions could be analytically difficult and his fellow justices sometimes distrusted them because they felt he left rhetorical "time bombs" sitting in them for use in future cases. The authors competently explore the legal implications of Brennan's most famous cases, without becoming bogged down in the analytical details.

    Supreme Court fans will find plenty of personal tidbits in this book, reminiscent of "The Brethren" but with a more respectful tone. Justice Frankfurter, who started out as a liberal when appointed by President Roosevelt but ended up a rather cranky conservative voice by the time Brennan arrived, supplies some comic relief. (Justice Harlan, who shared Frankfurter's philosophy but not his personality, was referred to as "Frankfurter without mustard.") Brennan's opinions literally made Frankfurter apoplectic. According to the authors, Brennan's early opinion in an apportionment case caused Frankfurter to suffer a stroke! Another interesting fact is that Senator Joseph McCarthy attempted to block Brennan's appointment, even though Brennan was not seen as a consistently liberal voice on the New Jersey Supreme Court before he was appointed to the United States Supreme Court. Brennan also tangled with Warren Burger in private, and he bungled his early overtures to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. (In spite of his reputation for favoring gender equality, Brennan was uncomfortable with women as attorneys and judges and took an unconscionably long time to hire a female law clerk.)

    Brennan's private life is explored in a frank but respectful manner. His secret marriage to his first wife and her struggles with cancer and alcohol; his father's heavy drinking; his middle-class money woes; his struggles with the Catholic church over his opinions; his dismay and anger at leaks to the press by his clerks in later years; his whirlwind courtship and marriage of his secretary after his wife's death, all are detailed. The book adds up to a portrait of a man who was in many ways an ordinary American, but who achieved extraordinary results during his time on the Court.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The most important politician you've never heard of, December 11, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Brennan shaped post-war American politics to an extent few politicians could boast, yet he remains a relative unknown, except to law students who have to read his many opinions. Indeed, my first introduction to Brennan was when my Civil Procedure professor called him a "wily old fox." Reading Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion was a great opportunity to see the man behind those cases.

    The first thing that struck me is that Brennan comes across as an eminently regular person. That isn't to deny his brilliance as a lawyer and politician. However, unlike many famous and important historical figures, it's possible to relate to his career and personality. He was never destined for greatness, but rather worked diligently and treated people with respect. Like most Americans, he watched the news on TV and enjoyed the beach (it's actually amazing how seldom we read about the pastimes of famous men). Stern and Wermiel begin the book with Brennan's parents, and make sure to tell us about Brennan's wife and children later on. One of my favorite anecdotes is how his granddaughter Connie enjoyed waking him up in the mornings. Overall, he seems like somebody who could have been my classmate or friend in law school.

    Having read Brennan's cases, it's easy to stereotype him as a typical liberal judicial activist. There's something to that claim. Yet, Stern and Wermiel paint a more subtle picture of the interplay between Brennan's personal life and his jurisprudential thinking. At times, he certainly shaped his opinions to suit his preferences. However, in some instances, it's entirely clear what drove Brennan's liberalism. Stern and Wermiel explore his feelings towards women in the workplace, which, despite his decisions in favor of women's equality, always made him feel uneasy. He rejected one clerkship applicant because she was a female, and only hired a handful of others. The authors suggest that Brennan's daughter Nancy, who had career goals of her own, and granddaughter Connie might have convinced him to become more tolerant of professional women. Yet, his jurisprudence did not seem to stem directly from his preferences.

    Of course, Brennan is best known as the ultimate vote counter on the bench, and here Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion doesn't disappoint. Stern and Wermiel spend a significant portion of the book detailing Brennan's interaction with his colleagues. Much of this is surprising. Despite their ideological similarity, Brennan and Marshall were not particularly close. In fact, Brennan viewed the civil rights hero with something approach pity and worried that Marshall was not carrying his load on the bench. Meanwhile, Brennan seems to have gotten along with most justices, except for Burger (whom he called a "dummy"). He even preferred the conservative firebrand Rehnquist as chief justice. Yet, interestingly enough, he seems to have alienated both O'Connor and Kennedy soon after the joined.

    My only disappointment with the book is that it never really explains Brennan's judicial philosophy. This might be partially because he probably never really had one. Brennan would tell new clerks that "five" was a magic number because a justice needed five votes to win a case. Brennan became Chief Justice Earl Warren's point person for drafting and negotiating important opinions. At times, he seems to discard precedent when it suits his cause, but caustic when other justices overrule his prior decisions. Yet, did Brennan have a legal guiding light? Furthermore, for an Eisenhower appointee, Brennan's liberalism seems to come out of nowhere, and it's really not satisfactorily explained in the book. Again, I realize that might well be an impossible task, but maybe some discussion of Brennan's intellectual fore-bearers would have helped situate Brennan's own views.

    Reading through the book, it's actually shocking how much Brennan influenced American history. He either wrote or shaped the key decisions on free speech, criminal procedure, civil rights, abortion, women's rights, and capital punishment. For those readers who have suffered through law school, this book will help you see post-war American history through the eyes of the law. Highly recommended.

    This past year has seen a plethora of great Supreme Court biographies. I'd also recommend Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices and Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. the Supreme Court, which together cover the 20 years before Brennan joined the Court.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wermiel Captures the Brennan Era, December 7, 2010
    I enjoyed reading the story of Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion by Stephen Wermiel and Seth Stern. I had the privilege of working with my friend and former neighbor Steve as he recorded two chapters of his book for RFB&D. In a few weeks the book will be ready for the blind or dyslexic members of RFB&D to hear at no cost.
    Wermiel researched and conducted interviews for 21 years. He then asked for Stern's help in drafting his enormous accumulation of source material and in interviewing Brennan's clerks and fellow justices again.
    The early chapters about Brennan's family make it clear that having a politician father taught the young man the skills he later employed as a justice of the Supreme Court; ie. the art of compromise and persuasion. As for the conversion of a conservative young man into the champion for liberal thought Brennan became, Wermiel refers to Justice Brennan's opinions as "evolving". That single word tells a great deal about the dynamic of the Supreme Court. Nine brilliant people of differing backgrounds and perceptions must somehow compromise to produce an opinion.
    The book is written with such clarity I was able to follow the cases the justices weighed and understand how they arrived at consensus or dissent. The biography of Brennan would be a good choice for study in High School Civics classes. It's especially useful because the Brennan biography was written to be widely accessible. Justice Brennan requested that his biography not be released until after his death, so Wermiel needed comsiderable stamina and courage to undertake such an important and long term project despite pressure on him to rush to print. Brennan clearly had his sights on the future of the USA. His opinion's effectiveness even after he retired is an indication of his progressive thinking. In addition, members of the family were reticent to speak candidly about Justice Brennan's family life until a few years after his death. His biography outlines the considerable stress Brennan dealt with day to day outside court including caring for his first wife and his own cancer.
    When I asked Wermiel if the landmark opinions brokered by Justice Brennan had an effect internationally his response was yes. Several other countries have adopted Brennan era decisions as a blueprint to make changes to their constitutions.
    A first rate book, one of the most interesting and scrupulous biographies I've ever read and . I feel it is worthy to be a candidate for a Pulitzer prize. ... Read more


    19. LSAT Logical Reasoning Bible: A Comprehensive System for Attacking the Logical Reasoning Section of the LSAT
    by David M. Killoran
    Perfect Paperback
    list price: $64.99 -- our price: $40.48
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0980178258
    Publisher: PowerScore Publishing
    Sales Rank: 2779
    Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    The PowerScore LSAT Logical Reasoning Bible is the most comprehensive book available for the Logic Reasoning section of the LSAT. This book will provide you with an advanced system for attacking any Logical Reasoning question that you may encounter on the LSAT. The concepts presented in the Logical Reasoning Bible are representative of the techniques covered in PowerScore s live courses and have been consistently proven effective for thousands of our students. The book features and explains a detailed methodology for attacking all aspects of Logic Reasoning problems, including recognizing question types, identifying common reasoning elements and determining their validity, the methods for efficiently and accurately making inferences, and techniques for quickly eliminating answer choices as you solve the questions. Entire chapters are devoted to every currently-tested question type, to section strategy and time management, and to even the most challenging reasoning concepts presented, such Formal Logic, Conditional Reasoning, and Causality. In addition, the Logical Reasoning Bible features over 100 real LSAT Logical Reasoning questions that are used to illustrate and reinforce our techniques. The two Logical Reasoning sections on the LSAT represent approximately 50% of your final score and are frequently considered to be the most challenging aspect of the test. However, once you understand how to efficiently approach each question type and deconstruct the reasoning presented, the solution to each question can be quickly discovered. Through step-by-step analysis of every reasoning idea that you will encounter, detailed explanations for every answer choice, and extensive drills to enforce every major concept, this book with teach you how to correctly solve even the most complicated Logical Reasoning problems. The Logical Reasoning Bible is also supplemented by a unique website that provides additional materials to complement the book and answer frequently asked questions. ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great LSAT Prep Book, December 11, 2009
    I used all three Powerscore books when studying for the LSAT and this was the best; I also recommend the Logic Games Bible (the Reading Comprehension Bible wasn't as helpful, mainly because I think it's a really hard section to study for). It completely changed (in a good way) the way I did the logical reasoning questions - my scores on practice tests greatly improved. It breaks down each type of question and teaches you how to do them quickly. It takes some time to go through the book but it's totally worth it!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Worth the money, July 20, 2009
    I'm strong in the skills the LSAT attempts to measure, so I already had a good grasp on a decent portion of what was presented in the book. However, the confidence I got from working through the examples and the explanations to questions I didn't understand, along with the numerous tips for increasing speed, aided me infinitely more than just taking practice test after practice test. In addition, having a resource like this to study gave me comfort in the form of knowing that I'd done all I could to prepare for the test. If you're self-motivated and brighter than average, I'd recommend buying this and the Logic Games Bible The PowerScore LSAT Logic Games Bible and skipping all of the expensive courses available

    5-0 out of 5 stars Very sastified, July 15, 2009
    Perhaps there is some overkill with the categorization and length of this book, but the comprehensive detail gave me confidence that I've studied all I can with regards to strategy for the reasoning section. I'm very happy with Powerscore's LSAT books in general

    5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely essential for every test taker, October 24, 2010
    The short story is that this book is absolutely incredible, worth every penny, and increased my LR performance from getting 15 wrong every time to getting only four wrong every time. BUY IT, especially before you do any other kind of prep. Give yourself a month to get through it. It gives you concrete methods for how to attack every problem type.

    The long story:

    I had a roundabout way of getting to the point where I ordered this book. I took a Kaplan course and hated it. I did all of the homework and dedicated my life to the course for a month straight. It wasn't working. My score went from a 160 on the diagnostic to a 152, then a 154. The 160 diagnostic enabled me to enroll in their advanced course, but the course was completely unhelpful. Kaplan's methods aren't methods; they just say things like "oh, that is out of the scope, so it's wrong". Well, how do I know it's out of the scope? You don't. Or, you could probably figure it out, but that takes tons of time and on the LSAT you don't have tons of time. Kaplan does not give concrete reasons that can be applied to every question of the same type for determining why something is or isn't correct. The course wasn't working for me or improving my score, so after three weeks (the course was five weeks total), I dropped it. What a waste of over $1000.

    I decided to get private tutoring. The tutoring company I used was brilliant for games, but also very expensive and I had already dropped a ton of money on the Kaplan course. I decided I'd look into using a book for LR instead. And I am saying this now to everyone who has not yet started prepping for the LSAT: BUY THIS BOOK BEFORE YOU TAKE A CLASS OR GET TUTORING OF ANY KIND. GIVE YOURSELF A MONTH WITH THIS BOOK BEFORE YOU DO ANY KIND OF LR PREP WHATSOEVER. This will save you a ton of money - the book is a HUGE bargain and worth every penny. It will also give you an excellent foundation for learning how to do every single kind of problem, and it is likely that you will not have to do any other kind of prep (ie tutoring or a class) once you read this book. You will obviously have to do a lot of practice problems and tests, but you won't need any other kind of instruction as to how to do the problems.

    The main reason I like this book is it gives you an actual method as to how to do each problem type. My problem wasn't that I didn't understand why the right answer was right, it was that I couldn't finish in time, so I a) had to guess on the last five problems and b) sped up and my accuracy went out the window. By using the methods in this book, I was able to cut down on time for these problems so that I now always finish with at least three minutes to spare. The methods tell you how to look at a problem, what to look for, what is a likely incorrect answer (so that when you see it you can eliminate it very quickly without being tempted), and what a correct answer looks like. The most helpful piece of advice they give is that there is an identifiable and clear correct answer out of each of the choices. By using these methods, I was able to figure out what that answer was quickly, or at least figure out what the wrong answers were quickly.

    The other thing to be said about this is that it is a long book. It's over 500 pages. GIVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TIME TO GET THROUGH IT. Skimming it, or just reading the methods, will not help you. You have to practice them until they become second nature. And you also have to give yourself enough time to actually get through all of the pages. I worked full time while getting through this, and I spent my lunch hour every day working through it, and was able to get through it in just over a month.

    You can't expect this to work miracles overnight. But if you put in the time, it will help you increase your speed and accuracy without ever having to pay for a course or tutoring. Or, it will at least give you a sense of what kinds of problems you have trouble with, and then you can get the most out of tutoring by being efficient about it and targeting your weak areas. Or even if you don't get tutoring, you will know what kinds to practice.

    I wasted $1000 before I picked this wonderful book up. Don't repeat my mistake. Use this as a first line of defense, and see just how far it will get you in your quest for a great LSAT score.

    Note: I have not gotten my official LSAT score back yet. However, I did finish both LR sections with time to spare, and in practice exams, I had consistently gotten no more than four wrong on the LR sections in the past five tests i'd taken.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Useful Overview of LSAT Logical Reasoning Section, February 22, 2010
    I've written a more detailed review of this book on my LSAT blog. However, I just wanted to briefly note that this book is an incredibly useful overview of the LSAT's Logical Reasoning section.

    I've seen students literally go from only 10 or 11 right on the logical reasoning section to 18 or 19 right, and above, after working with me out of this book. It contains dozens of drills and techniques, and it breaks down the Logical Reasoning section very systematically. The LRB blows Kaplan's books of fake questions and similar ones out of the water. I recommend this book to all of my students.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A must!, February 11, 2010
    I am a BIG fan of power score products. I utilized this series for GMAT and now for LSAT and each time I saw results. I am fortunate to have a small budget to purchase these basic prep books and followed a stringent 3 month self study plan (I didn't have 1500 to spend on a professional prep program) and I did well on the test. It takes focus , discipline and great prep books, such as POWER SCORE! LR is 50% of your score!!! so you need to do well and this books helps you do that. It is a tedious book to get through but it is well worth the effort!!!

    4-0 out of 5 stars A solid, comprehensive analysis of LSAT logical reasoning, September 27, 2009
    While it is a very large book (over 500 pages), the logical reasoning bible provides an insight into the LR section that few other prep books come even close to hinting at. If you're legitimately looking to increase your knowledge on how to attack the LR section, this is the book to get. Every question type is covered, explained, analyzed, etc. in very well laid out chapter by chapter structure. The categorization can be a bit overkill at times but the authors really went all out with trying to have every angle covered. It ultimately all serves to benefit you in the long run but you really have to be willing to spend a good deal of time doing the exercises, reading the explanations, and figuring out how you can improve from all that. With that said, I recommend this to anyone looking to improve on the LR section but be wary of trying to breeze through it...

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great study tool!, June 10, 2009
    All of the power score books are great- they really lay out the steps to attacking difficult problems on the LSAT. This books explains the type of questions in the logical reasoning section, what to look out for, and how to attack them. 5 stars!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Help is on the way with this book!, November 9, 2010
    This is the section that keeps handing me my butt. However, with this study guide I am better able to understand the author's intent, etc.
    This study guide helps diagram the questions, note whether the passage contains an argument, or just has fact sets; as well as, helps with time management, how to attack the passages and how to get the best out of your study time.

    With this book I do feel myself prepared for what I will face in December. Just hope I don't choke like I did on the practice test! ... Read more


    20. The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science
    by Douglas Starr
    Hardcover
    list price: $26.95 -- our price: $17.79
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0307266192
    Publisher: Knopf
    Sales Rank: 4646
    Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    A riveting true crime story that vividly recounts the birth of modern forensics.

    At the end of the nineteenth century, serial murderer Joseph Vacher, known and feared as “The Killer of Little Shepherds,” terrorized the French countryside. He eluded authorities for years—until he ran up against prosecutor Emile Fourquet and Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne, the era’s most renowned criminologist. The two men—intelligent and bold—typified the Belle Époque, a period of immense scientific achievement and fascination with science’s promise to reveal the secrets of the human condition.

    With high drama and stunning detail, Douglas Starr revisits Vacher’s infamous crime wave, interweaving the story of how Lacassagne and his colleagues were developing forensic science as we know it. We see one of the earliest uses of criminal profiling, as Fourquet painstakingly collects eyewitness accounts and constructs a map of Vacher’s crimes. We follow the tense and exciting events leading to the murderer’s arrest. And we witness the twists and turns of the trial, celebrated in its day. In an attempt to disprove Vacher’s defense by reason of insanity, Fourquet recruits Lacassagne, who in the previous decades had revolutionized criminal science by refining the use of blood-spatter evidence, systematizing the autopsy, and doing groundbreaking research in psychology. Lacassagne’s efforts lead to a gripping courtroom denouement.

    The Killer of Little Shepherds
    is an important contribution to the history of criminal justice, impressively researched and thrillingly told.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars The psycopath and the professor, September 10, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    From 1894 until 1897, the quiet French countryside became the hunting ground of Joseph Vacher, a murderous psychopath known as "The Killer of Little Shepherds" who, like Ted Bundy a century later, would begin his life's work after being rejected by the woman with whom he was obsessed. Author Douglas Starr has written a riveting book of enormous scope, masterfully detailing both Vacher's case and the concurrent first "golden age of forensic discovery." He focuses primarily on Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne, France's leading expert in the field of legal medicine and professor at the University of Lyon, who played a crucial role in bringing Vacher to justice, and who mentored and inspired countless other scientists and students to pursue a wide variety of disciplines in the burgeoning field of forensics. Many important investigative techniques emerged during this time--the use of body measurements to identify and track captured criminals and suspects, the identification of bullets through the unique rifling marks made by individual firearms, the microscopic examination of hairs, fibers, and blood types, the analysis of wound and blood-spatter patterns--all of which form the basis of modern forensics. In addition to such purely scientific advances, the nature, cause, and appropriate treatment of insane persons in general and insane criminals in particular was being passionately debated all over Europe and in the United States. What to do about, and with, a violent offender who was deemed insane was at the forefront of jurisprudence, as was the question of what determines legal insanity--the court's answer to which would ultimately decide Vacher's fate. In alternating chapters, Mr. Starr reveals the life histories of his two main protagonists, illuminating the horrific crimes of the one and the crime-solving genius of the other, until Vacher is caught and the two men's careers intersect, impacting the lives of both.

    This comprehensive, elegantly written book covers not just Vacher's crimes, but other interesting cases which challenged the expertise, talent, and instincts of Laccasagne. It sets the scene with plenty of background, from the explosion of crime rates in France (and elsewhere in Europe) as Industrial Revolution technologies displaced laborers, creating a wave of vagabonds who migrated from one area to another in search of work and charity, to the difficulties created by the lack of an organized rural police force to meet the challenges of this onslaught of "undesirables." As rural France tried to cope with these huge numbers of "wild men," those who tended to criminality often evaded capture or prosecution--Vacher was able to evade detection for three years, despite often daily interaction with the citizenry. During those years he walked nearly from one end of France to the other, killing as he went. Rural doctors, too, were fighting an uphill battle--often inadequately educated and working in conditions that made even a high degree of competence moot, the probability of getting reliable information about the state of a body from either the crime scene or the postmortem was regularly compromised. In an attempt to combat this problem Lacassagne prepared and distributed a step-by-step protocol for forensic autopsy, but the ability to follow these steps was often destroyed by those very conditions his protocol was meant to counteract (one important autopsy done on one of Vacher's victims was performed at night, by lamplight, in the middle of a misty field).

    Mr. Starr traveled to the remote areas where Vacher's crimes were committed, saw many of the exhibits he describes, spoke with descendants of Dr. Lacassagne, and observed many, rather grim, forensic autopsies. His prose is so rich with detail that the reader is immersed in the experiences of the protagonists--this is not a book researched from the author's computer or armchair. There are many interesting sidebars, including an amusing debate about a skull allegedly belonging to guillotined assassin Charlotte Corday and the significance of its physical characteristics, as well as a lively discussion by the scientists of the day about the methods of the fictional, and wildly popular detective, Sherlock Holmes. A detailed description of of Lacassagne's Criminal Museum is illuminated by several pages of photos and drawings of its exhibits, and pages from the newly emerging penny press (the start of the "yellow journalism" that continues to wreak havoc with investigations and trials today) are reproduced. All of this attention to the mise-en-sc�ne in which Laccasagne and his colleagues worked brings events, as well as time and place, vividly to life. Throughout, Mr. Starr evinces real feeling for his subjects, even the violent and self-aggrandizing Vacher. This is a book filled with strongly drawn characters--criminals and investigators alike--whom Mr. Starr never forgets were real people, especially those whom Vacher killed. In many such accounts the victims of such violent deaths remain mere ciphers, but in "The Killer of Little Shepherds," those little shepherds are clothed in real flesh, and their dignity remains intact.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting Story of Earlier Serial Killer and Forensics Methods, September 19, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    The Killer of Little Shepherds is a very engaging blend of early forensics methodology and the story of one of the worst serial killers in history. Although admitting to eleven gruesome and grisly murders, nearly twenty-five murders were attributed to Joseph Vacher of France. The governmental establishment, due to idiosyncrasies and communication breakdowns, allowed Vacher to be released from an asylum and even from a jail cell because they had no idea who (or maybe what) they had captured. Vacher thanked God (as he believed that God was watching over him) and went out and killed again and again.

    Douglas Starr nicely mixes in the advances in the field of forensics (called Criminal Anthropology at the time) as it pertained to the investigation of Joseph Vacher and other murderers at that time. Doctor Alexandre Lacassangne was Vacher's arch enemy and continued to advance forensics from a police department of bullies beating and torturing their captives into a confession to a more scientific based discovery. There are explanations and examples of how the police would accuse a suspect of a crime with absolutely no evidence at all. Dr. Lacassagne's efforts were to find the scientific methods that would allow a non-emotional examination of the facts leading to a suspect. The case of Joseph Vacher was Dr. Lacassagne's showcase.

    I was impressed with the author's ability to carry the story of Vacher as he interwove the science and psychological breakthroughs in that era. It was amazing to learn about the French leaders in forensic science. This book brings a look at just how many stellar performers in that era were French.

    The last sections of the book concentrate on the discussion of when a person is actually responsible for his/her actions - criminally insane. Joseph Vacher insisted that he was insane and that he was not responsible for his crimes. Again, the Vacher case was perfect for this discussion and Starr presents the case without any agenda.

    I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that is interested in history of forensic science and how it related to one of the greatest trials of one of the worst serial killers of all time. Starr is extremely well researched and writes with absolutely no preconceived conclusions or any agenda. The concepts in this book are controversial (death penalty, criminally insane, preconditioned criminal dispositions, etc.) and were handled with expert skill.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Science and crime solving in the 19th century, September 10, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Set in 1890s France, The Killer of Little Shepherds contains two simultaneously-told stories. First, there's the account of Joseph Vacher, who roamed the countryside of France and left only gruesome death in his wake. The second story is that of Alexandre Lacassagne, head of the department of legal medicine at the University of Lyon, who pioneered many forensic techniques in the areas of crime-scene and post-mortem analysis, and was what we would now call a criminal profiler.

    Starr begins his story with army Sergeant Joseph Vacher's full-on obsession with a young woman named Louise Barant, a housemaid. After only one dinner, Vacher proposed marriage, and then later told her that if she ever betrayed him, he would kill her. She tried to avoid him and put up every reasonable excuse for not seeing him, but it didn't help. On a four-month leave from the army, Vacher came after her, she refused him, and he shot both Louise and himself. Both survived, and Vacher was put into two different asylums for a total of ten months, then released. With really nowhere to go, Vacher became a vagabond. As he wandered the countryside, he committed the most heinous crimes, with young shepherd boys and young women favorite targets. Because he would wander from department to department, by the time the crimes were discovered, he would have been long gone, thus avoiding detection.

    Starr then interweaves his account of Vacher with the story of Alexandre Lacassagne, who was a pioneer in the study of forensic methodologies, including criminal profiling. He also discusses others in the field of criminology including Alphonse Bertillon and Cesare Lombroso, and explains developments in science and psychology that aided in the advancements of legal medicine and crime detection. He also examines the phenomenon of "vagabondage," noting the correlation between unemployment, the increase of people on the move, and the correlating upswing in crime.

    Both strands of this book come together when Vacher is caught, imprisoned, and sent to trial, leading to some pretty major questions. For example, was Vacher insane at the time he killed, or was he perfectly rational? And what exactly legally constituted insanity? Is there any way to know if insanity is based on physical causes? What type of punishment is suitable if a murderer is found to be insane? Many of these questions sparked international debates, but they also led to further developments in the field of psychology, which was growing rapidly, as was the gap between medical science and legal codes. And when a person is known to be a "monster," even if he is insane, how can the legal system justify putting him in an asylum where, if he's crafty enough, he'd fake being well and be let out to kill all over again?

    Starr expertly catches the era surrounding the crimes of Vacher and the work of Lacassagne and others. He acknowledges work being done in other countries around the same time period, such as Italy, the United States and Great Britain so as to broaden the scope of developments in the science of criminology. He also examines other crimes as well as the limitations of the local rural police departments in the capture of criminals.

    I got very caught up in Vacher's story, and I liked the book. The early efforts focused on forensics and criminal profiling are really interesting, and if you're into this kind of thing, you'll be rewarded. It's quite obvious that Starr contributed immense amounts of original research to the production of this work. The stories of Vacher's victims are also lurid enough so that if you're not interested in the field of forensic study, you'll still find something in the book that will interest you. I do think he could have done without the "postscript" chapter and gone right to the epilogue, but that's nit picky on my part. Overall, it's a good book that will keep you reading.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, Thorough And Disturbing, November 7, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    After I read this book I thought, the more things change the more they remain the same. We are fascinated with serial killers today, and we were fascinated with them over 100 years ago when Joseph Vacher went walkabout thru the lovely and idyllic French countryside. Mr. Starr covers all the angles.....newspapers tripping over themselves to sensationalize the circulation-boosting story; courtroom outbursts and shenanigans by the defendant; the ineptness of the local police; fear and false accusations before the actual killer was caught; the birth of modern forensics and the infighting between scientists who had different philosophies (the old nature vs. nurture debate). The author doesn't miss a trick, and the book is beautifully written. Not dry but not sensational, either. You'll notice that I put the word disturbing in my title line. This book is disturbing on many levels. It is scary that Joseph Vacher could walk from place to place and get away with so many murders. Your first thought is, well, this WAS over 100 years ago. But then you stop and think about modern serial killers who also go unnoticed and unapprehended for years and years. It is also scary that a fellow human being could be this disturbed. Vacher didn't just kill people. He mutilated them and sexually abused them as well. If we could write him off as "just a nut" I suppose it wouldn't seem so bad. But Mr. Starr quotes extensively from Vacher's poems and letters and he was clearly a sensitive, observant and intelligent man. Sometimes. He was also most probably psychopathic and schizophrenic, wildly unpredictable, devious and manipulative. He was "crazy" but was also aware that he was doing "wrong" and he tried to cover his tracks. That's why he was held legally responsible for his actions. But as Mr. Starr points out, if a person can't control their urges even when they know those urges are wrong, should they be treated as criminals or should they be treated as mentally ill? It was a difficult question 100 years ago and it is a difficult question today. Whatever your views on the subject, I urge you to read this excellent, thought-provoking book.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Account of 19th Century Serial Killer's Horrific Crimes, Supplemented With History of Forensics, October 6, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Between 1894 and 1897, vagabond Joseph Vacher drifted through the high country of France, murdering young village women and young shepherd boys as he travelled. His crimes fit a pattern: the victims were attacked in isolation along roads, their throats were slit, their bodies were horribly mutilated, and their corpses were hidden under nearby bushes or rocks. After each murder, Vacher simply walked away, avoiding arrest because local police jurisdictions (departements) had not learned to share information about horrific local crimes.

    This is mostly a true crime account of Vacher's atrocities, with some history of forensic science thrown in. There is much biographical information about serial killer Vacher, criminologist Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne (who provided medical testimony at Vacher's trial), and prosecutor Emile Forquet (who finally arrested Vacher after collecting information about the crimes from multiple departements).

    The forensic science background discusses (1) Lacassagne's guidelines for detailed autopsies to determine causes of death; (2) Alphonse Bertillon's system for identification of criminals through measurements of body parts (a system that was used before the development of identification through fingerprints); (3) Cesare Lombroso's theory for identification of "born criminals" by skull shapes and other bodily features (a theory now thoroughly disproved); and (4) scientific attempts to understand and determine physical causes of criminal behavior through dissection of brains of well-known criminals (e.g., Vacher) and intellectuals (e.g., Paul Broca).

    For me, the most interesting chapters were the ones that recounted details of Vacher's trial. (A "bench" trial, not a jury trial, because the French legal system differs from the British/American system.) Vacher raised an unsuccessful insanity defense, claiming that he had been prematurely released from an insane asylum, and that his crimes occurred during rages provoked by a bullet lodged above his ear. The persuasive medical testimony regarding Vacher's sanity, presented by Lacassagne and other scientists, carried the day.

    There is also some intriguing discussion of the advantages of using the guillotine as a form of humane execution, especially as compared to early executions by electrocution.This book rates 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 stars because of the scholarship, even though it is somewhat repetitious, and slow-moving at times.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Very interesting, September 27, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    This was a book I wasn't expecting much from. I've found books of this type are usually quite dull - but not "The Killer Of Little Shepherds". I was involved from start to finish, and you probably will be as well. Recommended.

    5-0 out of 5 stars People lie. Evidence does not., September 18, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    On December 31, 1898, in the town of Bourg-en-Bresse, France, 3,500 spectators watched a guillotine separate mass murderer Joseph Vacher from his head. 29 years old, Vacher had been tried and convicted of only one of eleven brutal murders to which he confessed, but there were probably another 14 also committed by him across France between 1894 and 1897.

    The youngest of 15 children, Vacher led a troubled childhood, with early indicators of a tendency to pointless violence. He was notably devout throughout his life. At age 15 Vacher even offered himself for membership to the Catholic Marist Congregation in its famous house at Saint-Genis-Laval. After probation, his superiors judged him unsuitable. He joined the army, became a sergeant, noted for his violent temper. Over ten months not long before his serial killing spree, he was in and out of two insane asylums for the attempted murder of a girlfriend and for his own attempted suicide. He was officially judged cured, no danger to society, and released. Toward the end of his killing spree, Joseph Vacher made a sort of religious pilgrimage to Lourdes and consistently attributed his frequent escapes after murders or attempted murders to direct protection by God.

    An autopsy showed evidence of venereal disease. Although a rapist, Joseph Vacher was sexually sterile (Ch.21). His face was hideously disfigured from a self-inflicted gunshot and he himself easily recognizable. Vacher nonetheless eluded capture for three years. His attacks on "little shepherds," on girls, boys, grown women and others less strong than himself showed evidence of planning, though no obvious motivation. Vacher himself claimed in prison and during his trial to be mad and in the grip of uncontrollable passion. He expected his jury to find him mad, not guilty of murder, and to return him to an asylum until cured for a third time. He lost.

    The case study of Joseph Vacher is convincingly embedded by Boston University Journalism Professor Douglas Starr in the great worldwide forensic science advances of the second half of the 19th Century. Vacher was hunted down by French magistrate �mile Fourquet, a serious student of the new forensic science. Vacher's culpability for his crimes and his feigning of madness was demonstrated at his trial by Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne, chair of the department of legal medicine at Lyon University. Lacassagne, along with Italy's Cesare Lombroso, led the most influential teams of doctors and scientists in Europe pioneering such fields as criminal psychology, forensic dissection, crime scene investigation and techniques for turning evidence into psychological profiles of killers and other criminals.

    These scientists and medical men all read Arthur Conan Doyle's novels of Sherlock Holmes. Their journals seriously criticized Holmes for not performing autopsies, for being a lone wolf rather than a team player and debated whether Holmes's methods were deductive or inductive.

    THE KILLER OF LITTLE SHEPHERDS is an elegantly written and vividly illustrated (16 pages of photographs) study of the world of vagabond serial killer Joseph Vacher and the mind-sets of the pioneers of that emerging forensic science that ran Vacher down and convicted him of murder. The book abounds in detail of the advances in using body parts to identify corpses. Thus, Bostonian Paul Revere, a dentist as well as silversmith and heroic rider of 1775, had identified the long buried body of a friend through an artificial tooth which Revere had implanted. The notes and bibliography of THE KILLER OF LITTLE SHEPHERDS are comprehensive and up to the moment.

    The book showcases contemporary debates about why some men become criminals, while most do not. Cesare Lambroso and the Italian School argued that predisposition to crime is genetic, innate. People are born murderers, rapists, pickpockets, etc. Alexandre Lacassagne and the French school of forensic medicine, by contrast, were not so sure, not so deterministic. At some level even criminals, including troubled souls like Joseph Vacher, retained free will and access to conscience. Their crimes had to be understood and their guilt mitigated by analysis of their upbringing, education, poverty, disappointments in love, the season of the year when a crime was committed and other societal and environmental factors. All of Europe's great crime theorists agreed, however, on two points:

    --people regularly lied,

    -- but on-the-spot evidence never lied. Even tattoos were seen by Lacassagne as "speaking scars."

    It is probably no coincidence that the model of teamwork among professionals, "The International Criminal Police Organization - INTERPOL," is today headquartered in Lyon, France. Suspect Vacher was brought to the Saint-Paul Prison in Lyon for interrogation. For decades Professor Lacassagne and his students and colleagues made the Univerity of Lyon the driving international power and unifying force in forensic medicine, crime scene investigation and related fields such as criminal anthropology and sociology.

    Coincidentally, I read THE KILLER OF LITTLE SHEPHERDS in September 2010 while cruising with a tour group on the Rhone and Saone rivers. Our 44-passenger boat, the MS Chardonnay, docked for two nights in Lyon. And my wife and I walked through streets along which Professor Lacassagne took his vigorous daily strolls.

    "On February 14, 1924, at the age of eighty-one, he left for his usual morning walk. He was approaching one of the bridges over the river when a car careened around the corner and struck him. ... (Lacassagne finally succumbed) on September 24" (Postscript). May Alexandre Lacassagne rest in peace and undying honor!

    Think of Lyon on the Rhone River as the Athens, the Vatican, the Jerusalem or the Mecca of modern, scientific police teamwork and of rational understanding of criminality. Historic Lyon is a proper home for INTERPOL.

    -OOO-

    5-0 out of 5 stars "One must know how to doubt.", August 27, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Douglas Starr's THE KILLER OF LITTLE SHEPHERDS is a gripping, fast-paced, thorough account of the advent of modern forensic science. The book compares the career of Joseph Vacher, one of history's more brutal (and successful) serial killers, with that of Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne, the leading criminologist of the time. Simultaneously chronicling Vacher's crime-spree (covering over six hundred miles, several years, and numerous victims) with Lacassagne's methodology and progression through science, Starr paints a portrait of the era that is as bloody as it is enthralling.

    Perhaps central to the book--its backbone--is the corruption of the era; in the rural French countryside (as elsewhere in Europe and America), criminals were convicted and executed as much on rumor as on solid evidence. This was how Vacher was able to evade capture for so long; and it is the heart of Starr's book, which suggests that we must pay attention to the details, and we must always--as Lacassagne was wont to say--doubt our convictions. A portrait of criminal science as well as criminal pathology, THE KILLER OF LITTLE SHEPHERDS is a pleasing, concise, well-researched foray into one of the turning shifts in criminology. Starr's style will appeal to both the forensics enthusiast as well as the casual reader, especially those interested in historical true crime.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Very Impressive, November 24, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    In the mold of true crime book that simultaneously tells another story unraveling in history, Douglas Star offers "The Killer of Little Shepards". It is not quite "The Devil in the White City" in its scope, but it still an impressive work.

    For the most hardened fan of true crime, Starr brings Alexandre Lacassagne to the forefront. Among the father ofs forensic medical science, he was a man ahead of his time. Rivaled by those that saw crime as having biological origins similar to those based in eugenics, Lacassagne was a keen observer who marvel those of his time with his observations and the techniques he developed. Particularly impressive is the story of his successful identification of a corpse four months after death with the limitations of his time.

    Josepher Vacher is the parallel tale. It would seem simple to have incarcerated him permanently after he took the role of scorned lover to an extreme. But in this era, domestic disputes were viewed in a different light. The one sense of frustration that I had with the book was aligning the title with the story itself. It is not until a good portion of the book is passed that the author makes a connection.

    As with many modern works of true crime, it is easy to look at the events and believe the killer should have been stopped sooner. But in the present moment, the situation is not as plain. Vacher should have been caught on more than one occasion, but slithered out of trouble.

    "The Killer of Little Shepards" is a well researched and well written work that moves like a novel. For many, it will prove to be teacher of forensic science. It is a worthy reflection on a more primitive time of criminal investigation.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, thrilling and educational, November 17, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    THE KILLER OF LITTLE SHEPHERDS is receiving huge critical acclaim and it is very much deserved. Author Douglas Starr does what seems the impossible here. I am a huge fan of true crime when it is written well and with a purpose. I don't go for stories that are written just for the gore or sensationalism. We all know that murderers and serials killers exist in society and it is the workings of their mind and their mortivation that intrigues me. Forensic science is a huge part of solving crimes and establishing the who, what, when where and why. Shows like CSI make it all look a little too easy. This is a true science and here Starr provides us with the history of its beginning. We need to go way back to the late 1800s to do this. One of the most famed serial killers and earliest in history to be so well documented is frenchman Joseph Vacher. Through his crimes he is believed to have raped, killed and also mutilated at least 25 people. We are then introduced to the brave man criminologist Alexandre Lacassagne. I am dumfounded by how he took it upon himself to study and research thoroughly the crimes of this man thus beginning the actual science of forensics. This story provides all the historical presence and facts needed. It is very thoroughly researched asnd while providing the facts is so well written that it reads like a horror novel. There is some gore here but in all honesty it is necessary to get the full feel of the history that was taking place.

    This book wiill appeal to fans of true crime but also to fans of history for this book is like a text book on the beginning of forensics. It is better than most true crime novels while providing so much more. The highest praise to Douglas Starr here. This book is a huge success and I highly recommend it. ... Read more

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