Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When I stop talking, you'll know I'm dead..

Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man, a memoir by Jerry Weintraub.  If you're unfamiliar with Jerry, think John Denver, Frank Sinatra, The Carpenters, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, The Eagles, Led Zepplin, Dorothy Hamill, James Caan, Al Pacino, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, just to name a few...the movies: The Firm, Ocean Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen, The Karate Kid, Diner....and Presidents: JFK, Jimmy Carter, George H.W.Bush.

These are just some of the people, singers and movies that Jerry is associated with.  Singers and Bands he's promoted or discovered,  Actors he's managed, Movies he's either starred in or produced and famous people he's friends with through out his life.  In, When I stop talking, you'll know I'm dead, Jerry tells of growing up in Brooklyn, working for the William Morris Agency and meeting the love of his life, Jane Morgan, who his mother refused to speak to for three years, Why? well read the book and find out.

He's going to sell you something, you are going to buy it and you will like it - Melvin Weintraub, Jerry's  brother.

HBO has produced a documentary called, His Way, released this month. I've read the book and have watched a bit of the HBO show, a great compliment to the book.

I LOVED this book! What a story-tellin' salesman!!!!

When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Extraordinary..riveting...fascinating..remarkable...!!! Highly recommend this book by the author of Seabiscuit. Hillenbrand documents the story  of Louis " Louie"  Zamperini and other WWII POW's, in her book,

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption.

This is an unbelievable tale.Truly an incredible man and a testament to the enduring human spirit.  Get to know how Zamperini, an aspiring Olympic runner, and pilot Allen Phillips survived a crash at sea, shark attacks, starvation and dehydration only to be captured by the Japanese; suffer inhumane torture but then find redemption through it all, decades later.

I wish to thank all those that recommended I read this book and their persistence to make sure I do. I've read alot of books on WWII and military in general and this ranks right up with the best of them! Thanks!

Mr. Zamperini has also penned his own book published in 2003 called,

Devil at My Heels, A Heroic Olympian's Astonishing Story of Survival as a Japanese POW in World War II
One that I'll be sure to pick up and read.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jim Nantz, Golf and Cigars..

Get a glimpse behind the famous sports commentator who coined the phrase, "...A Win for the Ages" as Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters. 

After playing my first round of golf this season, I sat on my deck, enjoyed my first Hoyo de Monterrey Reposado- a nice medium bodied cigar, which I highly recommend,  and read the cover story of this months Cigar Aficionado on Mr. Nantz, his love of sports, the Final Four, the Masters and more.

Nantz also penned  his autobiography called Always by My Side released in 2008, where he talks sports, his Father and Alzheimers, the disease that took his father earlier in the same year.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Three Cups of Tea controversy

Perhaps by now, you've seen the news and maybe the 60 minutes report on the genuineness of Greg Mortenson's book, Three Cups of Tea. Jon Krakauer, author of, Into The Wild, Where Men Win Glory and Into Thin Air has also weighed in, disputing some of the events that Mortenson claims are true.

For the purposes of full disclosure, I've not read Three Cups of Tea but reading the book wouldn't necessarily give me the right to question Mortenson. I'm not one to question the truthfulness of his book here in this blog, but am one to debate the topic.

Remember James Frey who after intense pressure and scrutiny revealed his book, A Million Little Pieces was fabrication and truth-stretching. Duped is what Oprah called it. She was a supporter then a detractor. She was a catalyst for the success of Frey's book after including it in her book club.

Who does have the right to question an authors works.  Given it's published and released under the heading, Non-Fiction, one could argue that if the events, characters, etc. weren't true, then a fraud may have been perpetrated.   It's my understanding that Mortenson's publisher is now doing a thorough investigation.  Shouldn't they have before publishing it?  Which begs the question, how believable is a non-fiction book if you yourself weren't there to experience it?  When or did a line get crossed between non-fiction or truth and capitalism?  Okay, it's a little believable here and there so lets publish it anyway? In the case of Mortenson, perhaps the mismanagement of his organization for which he received many donations, including  ones from Krakauer and President Obama is the motivational factor for the investigation.

Acclaimed historians repeatedly footnote and document their research and provide those notes within the book. It all comes down to credibility and integrity. The reading public does take a leap of faith and believe what is written until proven otherwise.  Take the internet for example. Do you believe everything you read on the web? Has the web or isolated incidents such as Mortenson's or Frey's bring into question our faith in the printed page. For the sake of a good story, are we okay with a little embellishment?

Take Woodward and Bernstein of Watergate fame, a topic that's a passion of mine.  Before publishing an article in the Washington Post, they were driven to have at least two sources to confirm the allegations. Should or do publishers check the work of authors before publishing?   Shouldn't the publisher of the book hold some moral responsibility? Perhaps as I mentioned, the Three Cups of Tea incident is just that, an incident that occurs from time to time. Based on the vast amount of publishing today, it's bound to happen and in a world of 25 hour/8 days a week news, we hear more about it today then say, 10 years ago.

Here's my final question(s): For those who have read the book, would you have read it if you knew it was fiction?  If you haven't read it, will you still read it after hearing of the controversy?

Gone For Good

is another stand alone thriller by Harlan Coben. Harlan has written nineteen books, ten of which have Myron Bolitar as the central character.  In Gone for Good, come along with Will Klein as he searches for his brother. Filled with suspense, twists, turns and love and betrayal, Will discovers the past may be best hidden and Gone For Good.

Interestingly enough, Coben thanks Linda Fairstein in the acknowledgement section in the back of the book. Not sure if it's the same Linda Fairstein who's authored many Alexandra Cooper books, but thought it was worth mentioning.

This is the sixth stand alone that I've read of Harlan but only my thirteenth book I've read this year. I'm a bit behind last years pace as I had thirty-four books bagged at this time. But I had no set goal for reading this year, other than perhaps quality over quantity.

Thanks to PN for suggesting I read Coben. Love his books!!!

I've received a lot of great recommendations over the last couple of months, mostly non-fiction. One being, Unbroken by Linda Hillenbrand, which I started this weekend. Have you read it?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I Was There When it Happened: My Life With Johnny Cash

A wonderful memoir by Marshall Grant, bassist for Johnny Cash; part of the Tennessee Two. Marshall tells about the struggles John had with addiction, the challenges of getting him to shows but most of all the love they had for each other and how they remained friends through it all.  "Johnny Cash was the greatest human being ever to walk the face of the earth" - Marshall Grant. A must read for any Johnny Cash fan.

Just announced, Johnny Cash Music Festival. Tickets go on Sale  May 2nd.  Festival benefits the Johnny Cash Childhood Home Project in Dyess, Ark.  Check it out at http://www.johnnycashmusicfest.com/

Other recommended Cash books:

Anchored in Love, by John Carter Cash. An Intimate Portrait of his mother June.

Cash: The Autobiography, by Johnny Cash

Books on Cash but not read:

The Man Called CASH, by Steve Turner
Johnny Cash: The Biography by Michael Streissguth
I Walked The Line: My Life with Johnny by Vivian Cash
Man in Black: His Own Story in His Own Words by Johnny Cash
Composed: A Memoir, by Rosanne Cash

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Paul and Bill...more than just Windows

Know who I'm referring to? Paul Allen and Bill Gates.  Paul Allen's new book entitled, Idea Man: A Memoir by the Co-Founder of Microsoft is released next week, Tuesday April 19th.  Catch an excerpt in this month's Vanity Fair.  Allen pulls back the curtains on his relationship with Gates and opens the Windows to his life beyond Microsoft.

The Teammates: a Portrait of a Friendship

With baseball in full swing, checkout David Halberstam's The Teammates: a Portrait of a Friendship.  A story of four Boston Red Sox players back in the 1940's who were friends not only on the field, but off as well. Their friendship endured for 50 years. Halberstam tells of the journey that Dom Dimaggio and Johnny Pesky took to visit a dying Ted Williams in his home in Florida. Bobby Doerr stayed home to tend to his ailing wife.  Dimaggio and Pesky piled into a car and drove over a thousand miles to be by Ted's side.  A short book which speaks volumes about friendship and the spirit that connects us all.

Other baseball books by Halberstam : October 1964, The Summer of '49.

Halberstam, a journalist, and pulitzer prize winning author of The Best and The Brightest, how America found itself in the Vietnam War. Also wrote Firehouse. Thirteen men of Engine 40, Ladder 35 firehouse heriocally responded to the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Only one survived.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

150 years ago...

A shot was heard through the south and this young nation. You may have seen various publications, news programs and websites commemorating the 150 anniversary of the start of the Civil War. Many books have been written on our nations bloodiest battle.  Here are some recommended authors, including my favorite.

Shelby Foote's Time Life 14 volume set , Bruce Catton's 3 Volume Set or Ken Burns' Civil War DVD set along with his book,  The Civil War: An Illustrated History

My favorite Civil War author is James McPherson, who's wrote the pulitzer prize winning, Battle Cry of Freedom, an outstanding book, if you read any books on the war, I'd start with this one. 

Interested in the battle of Gettysburg?  Mr. McPherson visited the battle ground many times and wrote, Hallowed Ground, a Walk at Gettysburg.  A short book (144 pages) written in a way that puts the reader- -  right there. Right at Gettysburg. After reading this book in 2003, I truly thought I had taken a walk through the Hallowed Grounds with Mr. McPherson as my guide.

He's written quite a few books on the Civil War and President Lincoln. Check him out during this historic commemorative year.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What would you do with a helmet full of gold...

What would you do if you were given a helmet full of gold coins and told you can keep it  as a souvenir? Total value, $35,000.  Keep it or leave it?

Robert Posey, one of the Monuments Men did perhaps what few would do. He left it. Find out why in Robert Edsel's, Monuments Men.  Posey and several others helped transport thousands of art works and financial treasures stolen by the Nazi's in WWII.