Monday, August 31, 2009

"My Life" abridged audio version By Bill Clinton

mylife"My Life" abridged audio version
By Bill Clinton
read by author
Produced by Random House Audio
Approx 6 hours

Ever since I heard that President Bill Clinton wrote a book that was just over a thousand pages in length I was curious to find out what all he wrote. Clinton did serve two terms as President pretty much covering the 90s as president.he fought to balance the federal budget, presided over a government shutdown, beat back a conservative cultural backlash, skirmished with an ornery Saddam Hussein, ended a genocidal crisis in Bosnia, accelerated the Mideast peace process until its eventual collapse, and began to deal with the budding threat posed by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. But what Clinton is most remembered for are the scandals that plagued his efforts. Beginning with Gennifer Flowers in the 1992 campaign, to Whitewater, Travelgate, the FBI file scandal, Paula Jones and ultimately the Monica Lewinsky affair that led to his historic impeachment, Clinton endured what then First Lady Hillary Clinton termed a "vast right-wing conspiracy" to push him from office. So I'm guessing he may have had a lot to say and maybe a thousand pages could be filled.

I then took the easy way out and listened to the the abridged audio version of the book. Usually I steer away from abridged versions of a book but this time I wanted to know but at the same time the size of the book scared me off a bit. I do wish I had read the full version now and will probably be picking up that book sometime soon. But for now I think I got a good insight.

The book does do a great job of covering the decade of the 90s in politics. Many things that went through the White House affected America culturally. This book would be a nice primer when studying history and wanting to tackle the politics of the 90s. Keep in mind this is from one point of view and many of the issues were hard to look at in a black and white view. It was nice however to get his take on many of the scandals and controversies that surrounded his political career.

The book being read by President Clinton himself, seems like that could be the only way. It is nice to hear the emotion in his voice during the reading. Whenever he would talk about Ken Starr you could tell there was a touch of animosity toward Starr. As a piece of history this is a privilege to have a president speak of his presidency and life.

Speaking of Ken Starr, one of the many insights learned in this book I learned was that there was more to Ken Starr than just investigating the Monica Lewinski matter. Ken Starr was doing constantly trying to find bugs in the Clinton White House, and the Lewinski was the only thing he could find that would smear the President.

So, if you are interested in the book but afraid to tackle the full thousand or so pages give the audio book a try, I'm glad I did.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:30 PM Comments: 0

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Team of Rivals:The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Narrated by Suzanne Toren
Produced by Recorded Books

Wow, talk about an undertaking, "Team of Rivals" is not only an in depth study but an entertaining book as well. Doris Kearns Goodwin takes you on a trip back to a dark time in American History and sheds light on what the inner workings of not only a great American President and his cabinet but also on the feeling of a nation.

I first heard of this book when President Obama referenced “Team of Rivals” during his campaign for the presidency. I then had a couple of listeners to my radio show call up and tell me I HAD to read this book. The main reason I was told was that the parallels between Obama and Lincoln are uncanny. My first thought was, "What do a Republican president, Lincoln, and a Democrat President have in common?" Well quite a bit really. Obama has pretty much declared Lincoln his mentor.

Abraham Lincoln made the decision to bring into his cabinet all of his chief opponents for the Republican nomination, insisting the country needed the strongest minds available. Barack Obama is emulating his hero is this respect and he put in Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, Joe Biden as vice president. On the eve of the Civil War, one of Lincoln's first acts as president-elect was to appoint William Seward secretary of state and build a "team of rivals" that would preserve the nation and free it from the curse of slavery. Just like Hillary Clinton, Seward was bitterly disappointed that the presidency had been snatched from him by an upstart lawyer, but the two men soon became great allies.

I think the best aspect of this book, however, is the information about the goings on and the politics involved with the American Civil War. The reader/listener gets a great education on all aspects of that war.

The book is somewhat told in a story form starting with Lincoln's early life establishing himself as a lawyer all the way through to his assassination and then a bit of follow up with the cabinet members after. The information, gathered from many sources, includes many letters between key characters which gives this book more of a personal touch. That makes it actually an interesting and fun read. (or in my case listen) She made it a point to change inflection when reading actual quotes so there was clear moments of when a source was being referred to.

I never go for abridged versions of audiobooks, when I can help it, and the reader in this audiobook had her work cut out for her. The printed hardcover runs 900+ pages and this cd version contained 36 cds, so, yes it took time but I feel rewarded for having listened to the life of this great American.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:01 PM Comments: 0

Monday, July 21, 2008

"The Audacity of Hope" by Barack Obama (pub. 2006)

Anytime a politician writes a book and they haven't run for president yet, you know they will be. Well that's just what happened with Senator Barack Obama. This book was published in 2006 and can serve as a great tool to get to know the 2008 Presidential candidate.

The book talks about his run for Senator in Illinois and the people he met and the beliefs he stands for. In other words this book Is a good insight into what platform this candidate will stand on once elected. In the book he talks about “sensitive” topics like religion, racism, U.S. foreign policy and family.

I found it a great get to know the candidate book, in fact, so much so that I think all candidates should write such a book before running. That way when elected we can say, "well right here in black and white you said you stood for you plan on making yourself a liar or can we believe you?"

The book is written in first person narrative. At times it feels as though you are sitting down and reading a letter from a friend with some very humble statments, such as while he's helping to propose Iran get rid of nuclear weapon capabilities he calls his wife to discuss the positive steps and his wife tells him to bring home ant traps, she's found ants coming into the kitchen and bathroom. While other times the passages feel as though you are reading a campaign speech. The good part about it is, that the moments of "speech" are heartfelt and do not use "political rhetoric" but in terms any American can grasp and, whether on the same side of the issue or not, can empathize with the Senator.

Empathy, that's a major issue in this book. Senator Obama mentions that many of todays youth and even many adults lack that same skill when it comes to everyday life. He mentions this throughout the book and in retrospect I can see his empathic skills are much needed in America's leadership, and has been lacking for about, oh, say maybe 8 years or so.
Okay personal jokes/jabs aside. I will say this today's culture has a serious Empathy Deficit Disorder. Really look around you, the rudeness in today's society can be directly attributed to lack of Empathy. For example, that guy/gal walking down the street or sitting next to you in the restaurant or theater yelling into his cell phone, do you think he/she cares that it is rude to others around? If he/she could empathize with others, they would probably be less rude. And that is just a minor example. Well I think the Senator from Illinois has hit this nail on the head.

Can our country use a little leadership with Empathy?

With topics like Faith, Race, Family, and of course Politics discussed in this book, I think that any person, Republican or Democrat would benefit in reading this book. If nothing else at least knowing what a certain candidate stands for.

A side note here; I don't care what email you received but nowhere in this book does Senator Obama claim to be a Muslim, so please stop sending that d**n spam email telling me that he is.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:25 PM Comments: 0