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Finding, Framing, and Hanging Jefferson: A Lost Letter, a Remarkable Discovery, and Freedom of Speech in an Age of Terrorism

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I really enjoyed the first act of Mr. Dershowitz's book, where he recounts the story of how he came to possess the Jefferson letter. However, when he begins to dissect the letter, it becomes a bit dry for my taste. If you're a legal scholar you might disagree, but for the rest of us it's something of a chore.In Dershowitz's defense, the "dry" part of the book is well written and very well argued. That being said, he doesn't make any ground-breaking points.I'd recommend this book to Constitutional scholars, Jefferson fans and those interested in legal history. Otherwise, you'll probably lose interest about halfway through.
The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War

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There are positives and negatives with this book. On the plus side, you'd be hard pressed to find a more thorough account of the war in so few pages. While the book is just under 300 pages, the actual text takes up only about 200-225 after you consider the many, many portraits, maps, etc. (another plus, in my opinion).As for the negatives, I find Dr. Anderson's writing in many spots to be quite dry, bordering on boring. Counterintuitively, there were bits that I found riveting. Anderson can be hard to follow, as he jumps around quite a lot, between dates and locales.My biggest quibble with this book is the absence of footnotes. When reading a history book, I like to know where information is coming from, so I can check up on it. I find it dishonest (for lack of a better word) when historians don't use them.Informative, and you could certainly do worse, but my reservations about the book prevent me from enthusiastically recommending it. Therefore, it earns a mild recommendation.
The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin

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A nice, brief and readable volume on one of America's most important and enduring figures. Due to its brevity, one should preferably approach this book with some knowledge of Franklin's life; less than 25o pages of text isn't nearly enough to give Franklin's life the attention it deserves.The main attribute of Mr. Wood's book is the attention he gives to some lesser-studied aspects of Doctor Franklin's life. And while he clearly admires the man, Wood does not attempt to hide Franklin's shortcomings. My biggest complaint with the book is its organization, as it frequently jumps back and forth between decades, making it a chore to keep track of what events are happening and when.I recommend this book, perhaps not as an introduction to Benjamin Franklin, but certainly to those who have a foundation and want to learn more.
The Geographer's Library

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What can I say about this book that hasn't been said by others? If you enjoy books like [The Da Vince Code] and [The Historian], you'll probably enjoy this one. If not, keep moving.Though it's nearly 400 pages, it reads as though it were half that. This is good and bad; on the hand hand, it's a light read, enjoyable if you let yourself get pulled into the story without asking it to make sense. On the other hand, the characters could be fleshed out a bit more. The author indulges himself quite a bit, trying to convince us of how clever he is, to the detriment of the story. And while I allowed myself to become interested in the story, I never felt invested in the outcome.If these books are your cup of tea, I could recommend this if you want something light and easy to read on, say, a cross-country plane trip. Most of you can skip this one, though.
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

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If you want to introduce a friend to Haruki Murakami, this collection of short stories is a great place to start. WUBC may be his masterpiece, but many uninitiated readers will be turned off my its length. Murakami is one of those rare authors who do short stores and full-length novels equally well, so this book will give you a pretty good idea as to whether or not you would enjoy investing the time in reading his novels.
Our Dumb World: The Onion's Atlas of The Planet Earth, 73rd Edition

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Well, it's from The Onion, so that should tell you from the start whether you will enjoy it or not. I'm a big fan of their previous books, and have not been let down by this one. I received it for Christmas 2007 and still haven't finished it - as another reviewer noted, it's not the kind of book that you're going to sit down and read straight through. Rather, you'll pick at it over a long period of time. That being the case, this book will bring you laughs for months, if not years to come.
The Uncommon Reader: A Novella

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A bit self-satisfied, perhaps, and maybe a little too pleased with its own cleverness, "The Uncommon Reader" by Alan Bennett is nevertheless a delightful read. While a love of books certainly enhances one's enjoyment of the book, that is by no means a prerequisite; indeed, this is the type of book which is truly enjoyable on several different levels, varying according to the reader's sophistication.Not to say that there aren't problems. The plot is, frankly, absurd, and the characters behave in such a one-dimensional way as to make them lose any believability. The ending will vex and disappoint many, though I found it rather refreshing. Let me make clear that my criticisms are minor squabbles; "The Uncommon Reader" is, by and large, a fun, light-hearted little story.Without reservation I would recommend this book to most everyone. It has a way of transcending interests and tastes and having a broad appeal which guarantees that nearly everyone who comes across it will be charmed and entertained.
1776

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It seems that people either love David McCullough or they hate him. Undoubtedly a talented wordsmith, he is also known for reaching questionable conclusions, to put it kindly.So, what does that mean? "1776" is fun and easy to read, but some of McCullough's ideas don't mesh very well with mainstream academic views. I recommend this book on two conditions; first, one should not take everything McCullough writes as Gospel and second, keep in mind the author's own claim that he is not a historian, but rather a writer who writes about history. Keep these things in mind, and you should be able to enjoy (and even learn from) David McCullough's work.
According to Their Deeds

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Note: My copy of this book is an "Advance Reading Copy" from the Early Reviewers group. Being basically an unedited manuscript, it is filled with many typos, grammatical errors, and a few minor rough spots which will no doubt be corrected by the time the book is published. This will be the only mention I make of such errors, and they will not factor into the rest of my review.Let me start by saying that I was quite eager to read this book. Though I don't read many mysteries/thrillers, the plot grabbed my attention from the start. And overall, I was very pleased. After reading that the author owned a Christian bookstore (and reading the quote from Revelation which opens the book), I was a bit worried that I had stumbled upon a piece of Christian lit, something in which I am not interested. Thankfully, my apprehensions proved to be unwarranted.The book proceeds for the most part with no big surprises, and at its worst it can be predictable and a little clichéd. But Paul Roberson proves himself to be a clever wordsmith, and there are about a dozen lines in this book which are real gems, the type which will cause you to stop reading simply to have time to enjoy what you just read. The downside of this is that Robertson some idea of how clever he can be, and he overdoes it a little. For example, his antique book dealer has a knack throughout the novel for selling works the plots of which correspond surprisingly well with what has just happened (or is about to happen). Both the author and his characters tend to be just a little too pleased with how witty they are.Perhaps the biggest problem that the book has is that there simply are not many likable characters, and those who are are minor characters. Aside from Dorothy and Alice I didn't find myself sympathizing with any of the characters, or for that matter caring much what happened to them. Angelo had some promise, but we never do learn enough about him; at the end of the book, he's still a complete mystery. Judging by this book, as I haven't read his others, Robertson's greatest weakness as a writer is writing prolonged stretches of dialogue between characters. In these situations he tries to out-wit himself, to the detriment of the dialogue, which ends up clunky and awkward, and occasionally confusing.All that being said, this book is immensely pleasurable. This no doubt goes doubly for bibliophiles, but it should be quite a bit of fun for just about anyone. Usually with these types of books not only does the author resort to some supernatural plot twist to resolve the story, but any halfway intelligent reader sees everything coming from a mile away. While the plot here can sometimes be formulaic, the author never telegraphs any of the important scenes, so you don't experience the letdown of figuring out how the story will play out halfway through the book. This is an intelligent, humorous mystery/thriller that will keep you guessing until the end.
Brain Wave

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A quick, fun read with a fairly original premise (at least, one that hasn't been done to death). My chief complaint is that I wanted to know more; I feel as though we hardly get to know the characters, and that there are some potentially very interesting pieces of information that we are not privy to. On the one hand, if the biggest complaint about a book is that there isn't enough of it, most authors would gladly take that. On the other, On the other, since we hardly know these characters, it's hard to care about them, or to get very engrossed in the story.There was potential here; the book is by no means bad, but it could have been quite good.
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