Monthly Archives: January 2011

The only thing we have to fear is a bunch of meddlesome bureaucrats tinkering with the free market.

Nothing to fear : FDR’s inner circle and the hundred days that created modern America Adam Cohen  New Deal, 1933-1939  New York : Penguin Press, 2009 Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. 372 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [323]-362) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

A revealing account of the critical first days of FDR’s presidency, during the worst moments of the Great Depression, when he and his inner circle launched the New Deal and presided over the birth of modern America

Nothing to Fear brings to life a fulcrum moment in American history-the tense, feverish first one hundred days of FDR’s presidency, when he and his inner circle swept away the old order and reinvented the role of the federal government. When FDR took his oath of office in March 1933, thousands of banks had gone under following the Crash of 1929, a quarter of American workers were unemployed, farmers were in open rebellion, and hungry people descended on garbage dumps and fought over scraps of food. Before the Hundred Days, the federal government was limited in scope and ambition; by the end, it had assumed an active responsibility for the welfare of all of its citizens.

Adam Cohen offers an illuminating group portrait of the five members of FDR’s inner circle who played the greatest roles in this unprecedented transformation, revealing in turn what their personal dynamics suggest about FDR’s leadership style. These four men and one woman frequently pushed FDR to embrace more activist programs than he would have otherwise. FDR came to the White House with few firm commitments about how to fight the Great Depression-as a politician he was more pragmatic than ideological, and, perhaps surprising, given his New Deal legacy, by nature a fiscal conservative. To develop his policies, he relied heavily on his advisers, and preferred when they had conflicting views, so that he could choose the best option among them.

For this reason, he kept in close confidence both Frances Perkins-a feminist before her time, and the strongest advocate for social welfare programs-and Lewis Douglas- an entrenched budget cutter who frequently clashed with the other members of FDR’s progressive inner circle. A more ideological president would have surrounded himself with advisors who shared a similar vision, but rather than commit to a single solution or philosophy, FDR favored a policy of “bold, persistent experimentation.” As a result, he presided over the most feverish period of government activity in American history, one that gave birth to modern America.

As Adam Cohen reminds us, the political fault lines of this era-over welfare, government regulation, agriculture policy, and much more-remain with us today. Nothing to Fear is both a riveting narrative account of the personal dynamics that shaped the tumultuous early days of FDR’s presidency, and a character study of one of America’s defining leaders in a moment of crisis.

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A tense, powerful, grand account of one of the most daring exploits of World War II.

Ghost soldiers : the  forgotten epic story of World War II’s most  dramatic mission Hampton Sides  World  War, 1939-1945 , Campaigns , Philippines ,  Cabanatuan, United States. Army. Ranger  Battalion, 6th , History  New York :  Doubleday, 2001 Hardcover. 1st ed., later  printing. 342 p., [16] p. of plates : ill.,  col. maps ; 25 cm. Maps of Route of death  march and Ranger raid on Cabanatuan on end  pages. Includes bibliographical references.  Clean, tight and strong binding with clean  dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining  or marginalia in text. VG/VG

On January 28, 1945, 121 hand-selected troops from the elite U.S. Army 6th Ranger Battalion slipped behind enemy lines in the Philippines. Their mission: March thirty miles in an attempt to rescue 513 American and British POWs who had spent three years in a surreally hellish camp near the city of Cabanatuan. The prisoners included the last survivors of the Bataan Death March left in the camp, and their extraordinary will to live might soon count for nothing—elsewhere in the Philippines, the Japanese Army had already executed American prisoners as it retreated from the advancing U.S. Army. As the Rangers stealthily moved through enemy-occupied territory, they learned that Cabanatuan had become a major transshipment point for the Japanese retreat, and instead of facing the few dozen prison guards, they could possibly confront as many as 8,000 battle-hardened enemy troops.

Hampton Sides’s vivid minute-by-minute narration of the raid and his chronicle of the prisoners’ wrenching experiences are masterful. But Ghost Soldiers is far more than a thrilling battle saga. Hampton Sides explores the mystery of human behavior under extreme duress—the resilience of the prisoners, who defied the Japanese authorities even as they endured starvation, tropical diseases, and unspeakable tortures; the violent cultural clashes with Japanese guards and soldiers steeped in the warrior ethic of Bushido; the remarkable heroism of the Rangers and Filipino guerrillas; the complex motivations of the U.S. high command, some of whom could justly be charged with abandoning the men of Bataan in 1942; and the nearly suicidal bravado of several spies, including priests and a cabaret owner, who risked their lives to help the prisoners during their long ordeal.

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Lost gold of the Republic : the remarkable quest for the greatest shipwreck treasure of the Civil War era

Lost gold of the Republic : the remarkable quest for the greatest shipwreck treasure of the Civil War era Priit J. Vesilind  Shipwrecks , North Atlantic Ocean, Republic (Steamship)  Las Vegas, NV : Shipwreck Heritage Press ; [S.l.] : Distributed to the book trade by Continental Sales, 2005 Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. ix, 276 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 24 cm.  Includes index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

“Lost Gold,” authored by veteran National Geographic adventure writer Priit J. Vesilind, tells the remarkable story of the SS Republic, a side-wheel steamship that sank in a hurricane shortly after the end of the Civil War. Before sinking in 1865, the Republic had an amazing history, including serving as a battleship for the Union Navy and as a blockade runner for the Confederacy. The ship was steaming from New York to New Orleans loaded with precious cargo and a fortune in gold and silver coins for the war-stricken city. The Republic, if it could be found, would offer not only a fortune in treasure, but also an incredible historical snapshot of life in the late 1800s.

The book weaves the fascinating historical account of the Republic with the story of Odyssey Marine Exploration’s quest to find the elusive shipwreck. Odyssey’s founders, two pioneers of deep-ocean shipwreck exploration, spent more than a decade hunting for the Republic. After many dramatic challenges and unforeseen frustrations, the Company located the vessel 100 miles off the coast of Georgia in 2003, nearly 140 years after she sank. Odyssey archaeologically excavated the shipwreck and recovered approximately 14,000 Civil War-era artifacts and $75 million in gold and silver coins, 1,700 feet deep in the Atlantic Ocean.

Ironically, a month after “Lost Gold” was published, and as the Republic’s artifacts and coins were about to be displayed for the first time in the city of their original destination, New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina bore down on the city. Once again, the Republic’s cargo had to endure the ravages of a devastating storm’s fury. Today, the ship’s artifacts and coins are finally available for public viewing in the heart of the historic French Quarter, at Odyssey’s first-ever interactive shipwreck museum, Odyssey’s Shipwreck & Treasure Adventure.

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A provocative new book claiming Benito Mussolini was murdered by a two man hit squad led by British secret service agents acting on direct orders from Winston Churchill.

Mussolini : The Secrets of His Death Luciano Garibaldi  Mussolini, Benito, 1883-1945 , Death and burial  New York, Enigma Books, 2004 Hardcover. xxii, 237 p., ill., 24 cm. Contains bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

A provocative new book claiming Benito Mussolini was murdered by a two man hit squad led by British secret service agents acting on direct orders from Winston Churchill. In the official version, Mussolini and his mistress were shot by Italian partisans, then put on view hanging upside down in Milan. The book suggests this was a fiction staged hours after Mussolini¹s actual execution, and as revealed here, the true story is one pointing to a cover-up and conspiracy with Winston Churchill at the heart of it. As the fascist state was collapsing and Mussolini fled the partisans, he always had with him a briefcase filled with secret correspondence with Churchill he described as vital to Italy’s future. Churchill was desperate to silence Mussolini and retrieve these letters knowing they contained damning revelations such as these:

* Churchill had tried to arrange a separate peace with Italy, offering Mussolini land for peace — French land! — not territory controlled by the British.

* Through Mussolini, Churchill had attempted to form an alliance with Nazi Germany in a common front against the Russians, who Churchill considered the real enemy.

The story is told in two parts — the first covering the events leading up to Mussolini’s execution, and the second tracking and revealing the secret Mussolini – Churchill correspondence, which Churchill would spend years trying to locate.

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No one had won the Grand Slam before — and no one has since.

The slam : Bobby Jones and the price of glory Curt Sampson  Golfers , United States , Biography, Jones, Bobby, 1902-1971  [Emmaus, Pa.] : Rodale ; [s.l] : Distributed to trade by Holtzbrinck Publishers, c 2005 Hardcover. First edition and printing. x, 262 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 249-250) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

An intriguing and detailed look at the greatest season a golfer has ever had–when Bobby Jones became the first golfer to win all four major championships in one year. The year 2005 marks the 75th anniversary of Bobby Jones’s remarkable 1930 season. No one had won the Grand Slam before–and no one has since. In a splendid narrative that is worthy of Jones’s singular achievement, Curt Sampson, acknowledged as one of golf’s best writers, captures the magic of his feat and the high cost he paid to achieve it, set against the backdrop of the Depression.

Jones was such a sickly child that he was unable to eat solid food until the age of 5. At 6 he found golf, and by age 14 he was nationally known as a golf prodigy. He had matinee idol looks and dated Zelda Sayre before novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald wed her. His 1930 golf season glittered so brightly that he got two tickertape parades. Then, at the top of his game, he shocked everyone and quit the sport.

The book focuses explicitly on Jones and 1930. His fast run to glory was a dark, intricate tale that has never been told until now. The public Jones waved to the crowd in tickertape parades and smiled for the newsreel cameras. Meanwhile, the private man endured agonies. He couldn’t eat or sleep, and morning drinking became his norm. Jones won with skill, courage, a lottery winner’s luck–and some truly shocking help from George Prescott Bush, the father and grandfather of presidents. Jones conquered the world just as it was falling apart. His triumphs represented hope for the hopeless. In many ways, Jones was the horse the world followed before Seabiscuit. And like Laura Hillenbrand’s mega-bestseller, this is a sports story that captures the essence of an era–equal parts compelling sports biography, sweeping social history, and stirring human drama.

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