previews & reviews

for Spring 2001


selected reviews...

Books For UNITED KINGDOM & European orders


    POSTED JUNE 6, 2001

    "At Home in Heart of Appalachia" John O'Brien Our price: $20.00 | You save: $5.00
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    John O'Brien was born in Philadelphia, his father having left his beloved home in the West Virginia mountains after an impoverished childhood made all the more painful by family tragedy. Struggling to escape a father defeated by disappointment, displacement, and poverty, John too left home. When he decided to settle near his father's birthplace in West Virginia, he hoped to comprehend the elder O'Brien's attachment to the land, as well as the disabling fatalism he had carried north. "At Home in the Heart of Appalachia" is a deeply evocative book that reveals a place and a way of life--and the lives of an estranged father and son whose differences rest, ironically, in their own powerful bonds to Appalachia. --From the publisher

    "Saving Milly: Love, Politics, and Parkinson's Disease" Morton Kondracke Our price: $20.00 | You save: $5.00
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    Morton Kondracke did not intend to marry Millicent Martinez. He intended to marry an Ivy League heiress whose connections and credentials might help his career. But Milly--a Mexican American, inner-city Chicago kid--eventually captured his heart. They married, and loved and fought with each other passionately for 20 years. Then one day in 1987, Milly noticed a glitch in her handwriting; a small tremor that would lead to the shattering diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. "Saving Milly" is a moving, unflinchingly honest memoir by the renowned political journalist of his extraordinary relationship with his wife, Milly, and how her battle with Parkinson's disease has transformed their lives. --From the publisher

    "An Italian Affair" Laura Fraser Our price: $17.60 | You save: $4.40
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    When Laura Fraser's husband leaves her for his high school sweetheart, she takes off for the Italian island of Ischia, to nurse her shattered ego. There she meets M., an aesthetics professor from Paris with an oversized love of life. What they both assume will be a casual vacation tryst turns into a passionate, transatlantic love affair, as they rendezvous in Marrakech, Lago Maggiore, Stromboli, London, and San Francisco--each encounter a delirious immersion into place and into each other. Both travelogue and memoir, "An Italian Affair" is wonderfully made of rich, sensual detail, with the irresistible honesty of a story told from and about the heart. --From the publisher


    "I was born to be an explorer. There never was any decision to make. I couldn't do anything else and be happy.... The desire to see new places, to discover new facts--the curiosity of life always has been a resistless driving force in me.' So Roy Chapman Andrews wrote in the foreword to his book "This Business of Exploring." It was a conviction he repeated many times in print and from lecture platforms, and the course of his life confirmed its validity." Continue reading from Charles Gallenkamp's "Dragon Hunter: Roy Chapman Andrews and the Central Asiatic Expeditions."
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    "Tale of the Rose: The Passion That Inspired the Little Prince" Consuelo De Saint-Exupery Our price: $19.16 | You save: $4.79
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    In the spring of 1944, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of "The Little Prince," left his wife, Consuelo, to return to the war in Europe. Soon after, he disappeared while flying a reconnaissance mission over occupied France. Neither his plane nor his body was ever found. "The Tale of the Rose" is Consuelo's account of their extraordinary marriage. It is a love story about a pilot and his wife, a man who yearned for the stars and the spirited woman who gave him the strength to fulfill his dreams. --From the publisher

    "Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood" Suzanne Finstad Our price: $20.00 | You save: $5.00
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    "Natasha" is the haunting story of Natalie Wood, a vulnerable and talented actress whom many of us felt we knew. She has been hailed--along with Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor--as one of the top three female movie stars in the history of film, making her a legend in her own lifetime and beyond. But the story of what Natalie endured, of what her life was like when the doors of the soundstages closed, has long been obscured. Until now. Suzanne Finstad tells this beauty's heartbreaking story with sensitivity and grace, revealing a complex and conflicting mix of fragility and strength in a woman who was swept along by forces few could have resisted. --From the publisher

    "Wild Man: The Life and Times of Daniel Ellsberg" Tom Wells Our price: $26.00 | You save: $6.50
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    In March 1971, Daniel Ellsberg gave The New York Times access to a classified government report revealing the secret history of the Vietnam War. Ellsberg, a former Vietnam Marine, said he violated national security to protest an illegal war. The release of the Pentagon Papers exploded in controversy. Ellsberg was indicted for espionage; charges were dropped when it was revealed that Nixon operatives burglarized the office of Ellsberg's psychiatrist in order to discredit him. "Wild Man" is the first biography of the man at center stage in one of the most remarkable periods in American history. --From the publisher


    "Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table" Ruth Reichl Our price: $14.97 | You save: $9.98
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    Ruth Reichl's autobiographical bestseller "Tender at the Bone" disarmed readers with its droll candor, and in it the former restaurant critic for The New York Times and editor in chief of Gourmet magazine told great stories about growing up and loving food. "Comfort Me with Apples" begins where the first book ended, tracing Reichl's evolution from chef to food writer while detailing the dissolution of her first marriage, the start of a second, and motherhood at the age of 40. The book also limns a sensual journey, Reichl's awakening to the pleasures of sex as well as food, and also to love. Reichl interweaves her diverse coming-of-age narratives with passion (especially on the subject of food), wit, and a no-nonsense grace, all of which add up to a wonderful read--entertaining, but moving too.

    "Augusta, Gone: A True Story" Martha Tod Dudman Our price: $18.40 | You save: $4.60
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    Parents are advised to approach this wrenching memoir with caution--it will evoke all their worst fears. It's not just that Martha Tod Dudman frankly delineates her daughter Augusta's descent into drinking, smoking, drug use, and truancy, as well as casually lying about all of it. Dudman also acknowledges her own feelings of isolation, despair, and incredible guilt. Dudman's plain, punchy prose perfectly conveys the terror of a parent watching her child's life, along with her own, careen off the tracks, yet she also captures the charm and vitality of her "impossible, enraging, engaging, infuriating" daughter. As upsetting as this narrative often gets, there's always a trace of hope that Augusta and her family will pull through.

    "A Primate's Memoir" Robert M. Sapolsky Our price: $20.00 | You save: $5.00
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    Robert Sapolsky, the author of "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers" and other popular books on animal and human behavior, decided early in life to become a primatologist, volunteering at the American Museum of Natural History and badgering his high school principal to let him study Swahili to prepare for travel in Africa. His memoir is, in the main, quite humorous, although Sapolsky flings a few darts along the way at the late activist Dian Fossey and at local bureaucrats whose interests did not often coincide with those of Sapolsky's wild charges. "A Primate's Memoir" is also full of good information on primates and primatology, a subject whose practitioners, it seems, are constantly fighting to save species and ecosystems.


    Let's be honest: Have you ever seen your father wear that tie you gave him last year? And does he really need another pair of socks? This Father's Day, give your dad a break: send him an gift certificate and let him choose exactly what he wants. He'll love you for it!
    ...order here.


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    David McCullough
    Our price: $28.00 | You save: $7.00
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    Due to hit the shelves May 22, "John Adams" is the latest work by master historian and storyteller David McCullough. Though often overshadowed by the lustrous presidents Washington and Jefferson, who bracketed his tenure in office, John Adams emerges from McCullough's brilliant biography as a truly heroic figure--not only for his significant role in the American Revolution but also for maintaining his personal integrity in its strife-filled aftermath.

    "Staying Tuned: A Life in Journalism"
    Daniel Schorr
    Our price: $21.56 | You save: $5.39 ...order here.
    Long a familiar face to American television-news viewers, and more recently a familiar voice to public-radio listeners, Daniel Schorr recounts his 60-plus-year career covering some of the most significant events of the last century in "Staying Tuned."

    "Desertion: In the Time of Vietnam"
    Jack Todd
    Our price: $19.20 | You save: $4.80 ...order here.
    In "Desertion," Jack Todd relays a fateful decision he made in 1969. A farm boy from a time and place where the obligation to serve in the military was taken for granted, Todd had just completed basic training at an army post near Seattle when he opted to take a Vietnam-veteran friend's advice and slip across the border into British Columbia rather than risk his life fighting in a war he didn't support.


    "But in the winter of 1784, "Vindication" lay nearly a decade in the future. For now, Mary and Eliza were two high-strung young women living on top of each other in a cold, dreary Hackney boardinghouse. Mary had caught Bishop's cold and fever, and Eliza's head ached perpetually. They had only three guineas between them and few visitors. Eliza's momentous decision appalled (and doubtless threatened) many of their friends like 'new married' Mrs. Brooks, who 'with grief of heart gave up my friendship,' Mary scoffed in a letter to Everina, though plainly the rejection hurt. Worse, none of the Wollstonecraft girls had future prospects. And while Mary's old champions the Clares sent them wine and pie from Hoxton, it took a bolder new friend to find them work."
    Continue reading from chapter 2 of Diane Jacobs's "Her Own Woman: The Life of Mary Wollstonecraft." ...order here.


    "A Different Drummer: My Thirty Years with Ronald Reagan"
    Michael K. Deaver
    Our price: $15.00 | You save: $10.00 ...order here.
    Michael Deaver, a longtime political advisor who served as deputy chief of staff in the Reagan White House, offers an approving, affectionate, and well-written portrait of the former president in "A Different Drummer: My Thirty Years with Ronald Reagan."

    "Blood Washes Blood: A True Story of Love, Murder, and Redemption Under the Sicilian Sun"
    Frank Viviano
    Our price: $20.76 | You save: $5.19 ...order here.
    In 1995, two years after his grandfather whispered the name of his great-great-grandfather's killer, Frank Viviano visited Sicily to learn the events that shaped his namesake's life and strongly influenced his own. Suspenseful and well-balanced, "Blood Washes Blood" is an exciting and thoughtful page-turner, and a remarkable story of family, mystery, and friendship.

    "Dragon Hunter: Roy Chapman Andrews and the Central Asiatic Expeditions"
    Charles Gallenkamp
    Our price: $23.96 | You save: $5.99 ...order here.
    From an early age, Roy Chapman Andrews wanted nothing more than to be an adventurer. He got his chance when he talked his way onto the staff of the American Museum of Natural History in 1906, under whose auspices, 15 years later, he was to mount the first of his Central Asian expeditions. "Dragon Hunter" chronicles a decade-long program of exploration that took Andrews and his team into the heart of the Gobi, one of the last uncharted regions on earth.


    "The Queen and Di: The Untold Story"
    Ingrid Seward
    Our price: $20.76 | You save: $5.19 ...order here.
    Ingrid Seward, a prolific writer on the English royal family, was the last journalist to interview Princess Diana before her death in August 1997. In "The Queen and Di," Seward gives a worm's-eye view of Diana's trouble-plagued life, layered with episodes of betrayal and illness, and she accords full sympathy to the minor noblewoman who became "the people's princess." She is still more sympathetic to Diana's sometime nemesis Queen Elizabeth II, who, in Seward's account, labored endlessly to preserve the dignity of the monarchy in the face of a family that behaved in anything but a dignified manner.

    "Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time"
    Clark Blaise
    Our price: $19.20 | You save: $4.80 In "Time Lord," Clark Blaise tells the remarkable story of Sir Sandford Fleming, the man who convinced nations around the world to adopt his own unified standard for telling time.

    "Vermeer: A View of Delft"
    Anthony Bailey
    Our price: $22.00 | You save: $5.50 ...order here.
    In "Vermeer," Anthony Bailey presents a compelling portrait of Jan Vermeer's life and character, long lost in history. Bailey re-creates the 17th-century atmosphere, introduces Vermeer's contemporaries, and portrays his domestic life in vibrant detail. Drawing on period documents and his own intense curiosity, Bailey sheds light on the science and artistry behind the glorious, almost mystical, paintings. --From the publisher

    Editor, Stefanie Hargreaves ©, 2001 and associate ncdn

    WHAT WE'RE READING, Posted 2 MAY 2001

    "Tell Me a Story: Fifty Years and 60 Minutes in Television"
    Don Hewitt
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    Don Hewitt barely knew what television was when a fellow print journalist told him of an opening at CBS in 1948 ("You mean, where you sit at home and watch little pictures in a box?" he asked), but his decisive personality suited the new medium's spontaneous techniques. In "Tell Me a Story," Hewitt fondly recalls his years as the founder and producer of 60 Minutes, chronicles the evolution of broadcast journalism, and expresses faith in the idealism that still fires the men and women who practice it.

    "Country Matters:
    The Pleasures and Tribulations of Moving from a Big City to an Old Country Farmhouse"
    Michael Korda
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    Despite being city born and bred, Michael Korda looked to the country when it was time to put down roots. He and his wife escaped Manhattan for tiny Pleasant Valley, New York, and began blending into their new environment. A natural raconteur, Korda makes the quirks of living in an old house and the quest for local status in an insular community highly entertaining, and he proves once again that, while he may not be handy with tools, he certainly knows his way around the written word.

    "Special Agent: My Life on the Front Lines As a Woman in the FBI"
    Candice Delong
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    Readers may well find themselves looking nervously over their shoulders after finishing this memoir by Candice DeLong, who met a lot of Hannibal Lecter's soul mates during her 20 years as a profiler for the FBI. In addition to chronicling a stream of fascinating (and often deeply disturbing) high-profile cases like the Unabomber, DeLong's narrative portrays a changing FBI, which now values the special perspectives and contributions of the female agents it once scorned.


    "Great Dames: What I Learned from Older Women"
    Marie Brenner
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    "Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II"
    George Weigel
    ...order here.

    "The Broke Diaries:
    The Completely True and Hilarious Misadventures of a Good Girl Gone Broke"
    Angela Nissel
    ...order here.

    "Mockingbird Years:
    A Life in and Out of Therapy"
    Emily Fox Gordon
    ...order here.

    "The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman, and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods"
    Julia Butterfly Hill
    ...order here.


    "Granny D: Walking Across America in My Ninetieth Year"
    Doris Haddock
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    In February 2000, Doris Haddock decided to travel to Washington, D.C., to lobby for campaign finance reform. So, at age 89, she left Los Angeles--on foot--to set out for the nation's capital. She averaged 10 miles per day, and despite arthritis, emphysema, and even a twister in Texas, made the journey in 14 months, educating and talking with countless folks along the way. "Granny D," her inspiring journal of the march, is more than a political platform or a call to action--it's a chronicle of a rich and meaningful life.

    "Privileged Son: Otis Chandler and the Rise and Fall of the L.A.
    Times Dynasty" Dennis McDougal
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    The Flamboyant Walrus, the Pennypinching Fox, the Daredevil, and the Cereal Killer--these are the players who made and broke the Los Angeles Times over the century it was owned by the powerful Chandler family, infamous for greed, political powerbroking, even the making of Los Angeles. A Times investigative reporter himself, Dennis McDougal writes this much-needed account with the passion that comes from witnessing the destruction of something dear. It's a riveting tale about a dynamic, if not always ethical, bunch.

    "Welch: An American Icon"
    Janet Lowe
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    In "Welch: An American Icon," financial writer Janet Lowe defines the legacy that legendary General Electric chairman Jack Welch will leave behind when he retires in the near future. Lowe examines how he "made himself into a global icon representing American business in its most powerful, most impressive, most efficient, and most admired incarnation." This is the most up-to-date look at a highly competitive strategist whose shoes will indeed be difficult to fill.

    "John Adams"
    David McCullough
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    Due to hit the shelves May 22, "John Adams" is the latest work by master historian and storyteller David McCullough. Though often overshadowed by the lustrous presidents Washington and Jefferson, who bracketed his tenure in office, Adams emerges from McCullough's brilliant biography as a truly heroic figure--not only for his significant role in the American Revolution but also for maintaining his personal integrity in the war's strife-filled aftermath.

    "Augusta, Gone: A True Story"
    Martha Tod Dudman
    ...order here.

    Parents are advised to approach this wrenching memoir with caution: it will evoke all their worst fears. It's not just that Martha Tod Dudman frankly delineates her daughter Augusta's descent into drinking, smoking, drug use, and truancy, as well as casually lying about all of it. Dudman also acknowledges her own feelings of isolation, despair, and incredible guilt. Her plain, punchy prose perfectly conveys the terror of a parent watching her child's life, along with her own, careen off the tracks, yet she also captures the charm and vitality of her "impossible, enraging, engaging, infuriating" daughter.

    "Gandhi's Passion: The Life and Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi"
    Stanley A. Wolpert
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    The concision and clarity of Stanley Wolpert's "Gandhi's Passion" have their roots in the author's 50-year study of India. The depth of his knowledge and maturity of his perspective make this an essential volume for general readers seeking to understand how Mohandas K. Gandhi, privileged son of a princely Indian state's prime minister, was transformed into Mahatma ("great soul"), champion of India's despised untouchables and the oppressed throughout the world.

    Five-Finger Discount: A Crooked Family History" Helene
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    Fans of Mary Karr's groundbreaking memoir "The Liars' Club" will relish the similarly funny, tough-minded tone of Helene Stapinski's recollections centering on her family's petty criminal history in the sordid precincts of Jersey City. But Stapinski is nobody's clone; "Five-Finger Discount" has a tart, distinctively urban Northeast flavor that will ring a bell with anyone familiar with America's aging, deteriorating cities. Her frank rendering of her mixed feelings as Jersey City was slowly upscaled reminds us what is gained and lost through gentrification.


    "Of Time and Memory: My Parents' Love Story"
    Don J. Snyder
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    "A Little Pregnant: Our Memoir of Fertility, Infertility, and a Marriage"
    Linda Carbone
    ...order here.

    "The Cap: The Price of a Life"
    Roman Frister
    ...order here.

    "First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers"
    Loung Ung
    ...order here.

    "Colors of the Mountain"
    Da Chen
    ...order here.


    "The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin"
    H. W. Brands
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    Benjamin Franklin may have been the most remarkable American ever to live: a printer, scientist, inventor, politician, diplomat, and--finally--an icon. His life was so sweeping that this comprehensive biography by H.W. Brands at times reads like a history of the United States during the 18th century. Brands pours Franklin's numerous and varied accomplishments into an engrossing narrative, and they leap to life on these pages as the grand story of an exceptional man. "The First American" is an altogether excellent biography.

    "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft"
    Stephen King
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    Short and snappy as it is, Stephen King's "On Writing" really contains two books: a fondly sardonic autobiography and a tough-love lesson for aspiring novelists. The memoir is terrific stuff, a vivid description of how a writer grew out of a misbehaving kid, how he overcame addiction, and his recovery from the van crash that nearly killed him, but the focus is always on what it all means to the craft. King isn't just a writer; he's a true teacher.

    "A Man Named Dave: A Story of Triumph and Forgiveness" David
    J. Pelzer
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    The third tale in David Pelzer's autobiographical trilogy, "A Man Named Dave" is an inspiring story of terror, recovery, and hope experienced by the author throughout his life. Ultimately triumphant, this book will have you living through the eyes of an abused child, a struggling young man, and an adult finally forgiving his dying father. (Reading with tissues nearby is recommended.) You'll finish "A Man Named Dave" with a warm heart and an enriched understanding of the need for compassion in all parts of life.


    Amanda Foreman felt a deeply personal connection with her subject while writing "Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire."
    ...order here.
    She writes, "I have lived a hundred lives through her eyes," in her account of the experience, written exclusively for
    ...more here.

                                                                               You'll find more bestselling biographies and memoirs, author interviews, and the latest great releases in Biographies & Memoirs.
    ...browse here.

Shawn Carkonen, Editor ncdn in association with © 2001

    "Running After Antelope"
    Scott Carrier
    ...Order it here. Sometimes sad, sometimes haunting, often funny, Scott Carrier writes about travels to war-torn areas, personal relationship crises, and, of course, his quest to chase down an antelope. An NPR contributor for over two decades, Carrier is constantly moving, and he would be the first to remind us that the pursuit--be it for peace, love, or science--has a purpose unto itself. "Running After Antelope" celebrates that pursuit in engaging fashion.

    "The Queen and Di: The Untold Story"
    Ingrid Seward
    ...Order it here. Ingrid Seward, a prolific writer on the English royal family, was the last journalist to interview Princess Diana before her death in August 1997. In this intriguing book, Seward gives a worm's-eye view of Diana's trouble-plagued life and her complex relationship with her sometime nemesis Queen Elizabeth II. Sometimes racy and breathless, but intelligent all the same, "The Queen and Di" enlarges our understanding of the internal dynamics of the modern court while delivering no end of scandalous news, just as a palace chronicle should.

    "Tip O' Neill and the Democratic Century: A Biography"
    John Aloysius Farrell
    ...Order it here. The first full-scale biography of the larger-than-life politician from Massachusetts, "Tip O'Neill and the Democratic Century" is an impressive achievement on many levels. John Farrell details the rise of O'Neill from state legislator to Speaker of the House while offering a superb governmental history of the U.S. in the process, highlighted by the epic ideological battles he fought with Ronald Reagan over the direction of the country. Sprawling and packed with anecdotes and insights, this is both a biography of a man and a portrait of an era.


    "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (Vintage)"
    Dave Eggers
    ...Order it here.

    "Give Me My Father's Body: The Life of Minik, the New York Eskimo"
    Kenn Harper
    ...Order it here.

    "Time to Be in Earnest: A Fragment of Autobiography"
    P. D. James
    ...Order it here.

    "Bye Bye Baby"
    Caroline Sullivan
    ...Order it here.

    "My Spy: Memoir of a CIA Wife"
    Bina Cady Kiyonaga
    ...Order it here.


    "Buddha (Penguin Lives)"
    Karen Armstrong
    ...Order it here. Books on Buddhism may overflow the shelves, but the life story of the Buddha himself has remained obscure despite his more than 2,500 years of influence on millions of people around the world. In an attempt to rectify this, and to make the Buddha and Buddhism accessible to Westerners, Karen Armstrong has written a readable, sophisticated, and somewhat unconventional biography of one of the most influential people of all time, deftly blending history, philosophy, and mythology into her work.

    "Ice Bound: A Doctor's Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole"
    Dr. Jerri Nielsen
    ...Order it here. Serving as doctor to the Americans "wintering over" at the South Pole in 1999, Jerri Nielsen made headlines when she discovered a lump in her breast that a self-administered biopsy revealed to be an aggressive, fast-growing cancer. No flights in or out of Antarctica were possible during the continent's long winter, and Nielsen's account of giving herself chemotherapy while she and her fellow "Polies" waited for the weather to break is even more gripping than the news reports at the time.

    "Dr. Folkman's War: Angiogenesis and the Struggle to Defeat Cancer"
    Robert Cooke
    ...Order it here. Is a cure for cancer in the immediate future? Judah Folkman believes so. In "Dr. Folkman's War," Robert Cooke offers an accessible account of Folkman's work on angiogenesis, or the formation of blood vessels, which may well point the way to new treatments for cancer and related illnesses. Following Folkman's roundabout trail, one marked by considerable resistance on the part of doubtful colleagues, readers will gain an understanding of how medical research is conducted and, almost certainly, a sense of wonder at the medical breakthroughs that are just around the corner.


    Born on October 1, 1924, Jimmy Carter grew up on a Georgia farm during the Great Depression. In "An Hour Before Daylight," the former president tells the story of his rural boyhood and paints a sensitive portrait of America before the civil rights movement. In this exclusive interview with, President Carter talks about segregation, farm life, and his nickname, "Hotshot."   

                                                               For quick links to the bestselling biographies and memoirs, author interviews, and the latest great releases, visit Biographies & Memoirs.
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