Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Book with a View Part 2 June 2009

President Barack Obama’s Dreams From His Father
Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
Author: Barack Obama
Publisher: Three Rivers Press, 2004
ISBN: 9781400082773
Reviewed by Maryanne Raphael (05/2009)
Link at Amazon.com

In Dreams From My Father, Obama wrote of his efforts to understand his family, the leaps through time and the collision of cultures hoping to shine light on the question of identity and race in the America experience.

He described the “underlying struggle between worlds of plenty and worlds of want, between modern and ancient cultures.” He admired those “who embrace our teeming, colliding irksome diversity while insisting on values that bind us together”. And he feared “those who seek, under whatever flag or slogan or sacred text, to justify cruelty towards those not like us.”

The book shows how powerlessness twists children’s lives in Jakarta or Nairobi in much the same way it does on Chicago’s south side and how quickly despair slips into violence. It discusses how the powerful respond with a dull complacency until violence threatens them and they then use force, (longer prison sentences and more sophisticated hardware) inadequate to the task.

He struggles constantly to understand this problem and his place in it. He is now professionally engaged in a broader public debate that will shape our lives and the lives of our children for many years to come.

If he had known his mother was dying so young, he would have written a different book, less a meditation of the absent parent and more a celebration of the one who was the single constant in his life. He shares some of the stories his mother and her parents told him when he was a child. ”

Obama feels we have all seen too much to take his parents’ brief union, a black man and a white woman an African and an American at face value. He says when black or white people who don’t know him well, discover his background they no longer know who he is.

This is the record of a personal interior journey, a boy’s search for his father and a workable meaning for his life as a black American.

Obama says, “I can embrace my black brothers and sisters whether in this country or in Africa and affirm a common destiny without pretending to speak for all our various struggles.”

Much of this book is based on journals of oral histories of his family. Obama says he tried to write an honest account of a particular province of his life.’

Without the love and support of his family, his mother, his grandparents and his siblings, stretched across oceans and continents he could never have finished it.

He was born in Hawaii, lived several years in Indonesia then lived in New York City where he went to Columbia University. In1983, he was a Chicago community organizer and a civil rights lawyer.

His Aunt Jane, whom he had never met, called him from Kenya to say his father was killed in an auto accident. His parents had divorced when he was two years old and he had only seen his father for one month when he came to visit Obama and his mother in Hawaii.

When he went to Kenya his half sister Auma and his Auntie Zeitumi met him.

They took him to meet Aunt Jane and other African family members. Family seemed to be everywhere in Kenya and Obama found himself meditating on just what is a family He sat on his father’s grave and spoke with him through Africa ’s red soil.

When he returned to America he met Michelle, who had been raised in Chicago. After their engagement he took her to Kenya to meet his family there they returned to the United States and married.

This is an absorbing and moving tale of a man who takes a journey to his father ‘s home, where he lived much of his life and died. Obama re-evaluates his relationship with the myth of his father and the meaning of his own life. It is a quiet but intense examination of a man’s past and his son’s attempt to understand it.

Examining his family’s life and thinking about his own, Obama finds a certain relief reliving times and behavior that had slipped into the undifferentiated past and finally arrives at some kind of understanding.

The writing style is exciting, a well written blend of memoir and history. The rich narrative and interesting characters keep the reader turning pages. Obama’s sensual descriptions made the reader feel he is visiting south side of Chicago, Harlem, Indonesia or Kenya. You see the people, hear their voices, taste and smell the food, feel the breeze and smell the ocean.

This is a book I would have enjoyed even if had not been written by a well-known, fascinating man beginning to put his mark on the world.

Lose the Diet: Transform Your Body by Connecting with Your Soul
Kathy Balland
Blissful Publications (2009)
ISBN 9780982183106
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD, for Reader Views (4/09)

Author Kathy Balland has written a very informative and educational book for those of us who continue to diet with and without success. She provides great insight on the mind-body connection, which most dieters don’t even consider.

A very important point in this book is that we as a society have lost connection to others, our inner feelings and ourselves. The author provides us with many scenarios that show we are not taking care of ourselves emotionally. We eat when we are stressed, depressed or just because we live in a fast-paced world and want instant gratification.

Many try to starve themselves to lose weight and others skip meals thinking this will help. Ms. Balland addresses several topics in her book to include: sleep or lack of, meditation, exercise and loving ourselves.

In the chapter titled No Pain, No Gain the author discusses becoming mindful- connect with what is going on with us and look at why we are eating. She recommends that individuals write down what they are feeling emotionally when having cravings.

Although the subject matter is not new, the author approaches weight and happiness in a new way. She does not lecture, but gives straightforward guidance and makes one look at making changes in their life.

Her final chapter deals with a higher power- for some that might be God, family or friends - whatever keeps you going. She gives suggestions on several poems or books to read when one is feeling the need to binge eat. Lose the Diet: Transform Your Body by Connecting with Your Soul by Kathy Balland is a very good, easy to read book with a lot of great insight.


Surviving A House Full of Whispers
Sharon Wallace
Modern History Press (2009)
ISBN 9781932690903
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (4/09)

The author, Sharon Wallace, was the victim of both physical and sexual abuse of her stepfather while her mother was in denial and contributed emotional abuse as well. No one would believe her story. Tired of being treated like an outcast by her family and friends, she goes to Social Services for assistance. Feeling totally frustrated because they also don’t believe her story, she presents herself as a very angry, volatile teenager. Inside, she is a child screaming for someone to rescue her and to believe her story.

To escape, Sharon takes on several jobs; most of them involve being a nanny. Not all of her experiences are positive; however, she is relieved to be out of her house. Not knowing how to recover from being abused, she takes on some negative behaviors such as cutting herself and eating disorders. Sharon also learns that she can defend herself. This makes her stronger, however, the intensity of anger that she feels when she is attacked, also scares her.

Down the road, Sharon finds a wonderful, patient man that loves her. He believes her story. His love and support help her on her path to healing and finding herself. When she becomes a mother, she is fearful for her children and initially finds herself being overprotective. Learning to trust her own judgment, she learns who she can trust to be around her and her family. Along the way, Sharon continues to try to salvage her relationships with her family. She realizes that her mother is a very sick woman. Her stepfather is still around, which is horrible for Sharon. This man, whom she refers to as “The Night Devil” delights in the fact that he got away with his abuse.

When Sharon’s husband develops a disabling health issue, the family is rocked by having to watch him decline and their financial situation becomes dire. Still Sharon is able to hold them together. When she experiences her own health crises she suffers greatly. Still Sharon stays strong.

I found Sharon’s story painful to read. It is horrible that both the family and the whole system would fail to protect an innocent child from abuse.. It was heart wrenching to feel the pain that she was experiencing. I was so happy when she found a wonderful man to love her. I truly feel that people experiencing abuse, survivors of abuse, abusers and people who work with these people, should read “Surviving a House Full of Whispers.” Sharon’s story needs to be read, so that people learn from it.

Upon realizing that history does not have to be repeated, Sharon says, “ …we don’t have to own the misery of our childhoods. We can refuse it and return it to its rightful owner, the abuser.” I am thankful that Sharon Wallace is willing to share her story in Surviving a House Full of Whispers.
Talk Radio Wants You: An Intimate Guide to 700 Shows and How to Get Invited
Francine Silverman
ISBN - 9 780786 440337
Publisher - McFarland & Co
Pub Date: April 2009
314 pages
Price: $75
Reviewer's Name: Victor Volkman of Authors Access (5/09)

Imagine being able to sit down with a coffee and discuss with hundreds of radio hosts what their shows are about and what kind of guests they’d like to book. You can do just that with Francine Silverman’s new book Talk Radio Wants You: An Intimate Guide to 700 Shows and How to Get Invited. I have paid $300 or more for talk radio show databases that had far less information than Francine presents in her highly-competitively priced book.

Broken down into top-level categories, you can browse for shows in your genre, including politics, health & fitness, food, sports, self-help, women’s issues, and even authors. I would expect most people can find a dozen hot prospects for making their pitch in under half-an-hour, that is if you can stop yourself from endlessly browsing the fascinating entries! Francine doesn’t stop with AM/FM, also included are satellite radio and podcasts, which can reach thousands of interested listeners you would never get from terrestrial radio.

Each entry includes critical info such as desired guests, host bio, and full contact info so you can tailor your pitch perfectly I can’t recommend this book strongly enough for any author who wants to get into this high-profile, low-cost method of marketing. Only a couple of downsides to mention: if you’re looking for gay & lesbian, military/veteran, or science-fiction oriented shows you will not find enough listings to make it worthwhile. Also, I feel like the “What is your guest from hell?” entries were a bit repetitive. Everyone knows that hosts want an articulate, on-time, and well-spoken guest. If I know Francine, she will amend these in future editions.

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