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Nancy L has commented on (15) products.

Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson by Jeff Guinn
Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson

Nancy L, September 15, 2015

I didn't feel curious about Manson so wasn't initially inclined to read this. But, I really enjoyed Jeff Guinn's "Go Down Together", about Bonnie and Clyde so I picked this book up on impulse and, am so glad I did. Guinn does a great job tying the whole set of circumstances together and creating a story that while horrifying in facts, is a satisfying read. It takes you back to the days when the Manson Family fascinated those who knew them, but didn't know what they were capable of. It also puts the reader into the frame of mind everyone had before becoming de-sensitized to the story of their crimes.
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The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Impostor by Mark Seal
The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Impostor

Nancy L, July 5, 2015

I love true crime; but not the gruesome accounts of violent killers as much as the fascinating stories of those who manage to lead double lives. The Man in the Rockefeller Suit is astonishing. Not only did Christian Gerhartsreiter manage to dupe people for 30 years; he duped the Boston Brahmins of Beacon Hill into thinking he was a member of the Rockefeller family and conned his way into the most exclusive private clubs. He duped people in the Manhattan art world into thinking he had a world-class art collection. He hid his native German accent by imitating Thurston Howell, III of Gilligan's Island! He also duped a Stanford and Harvard educated woman into marrying him and believing he had fabulous wealth, but no access to it. How did he charm and lie his way into such intelligent people's lives without them realizing he had no documented past?

The story of Gerhartsreiter's amazing path to wealth and privilege; and of course his downward spiral as the truth unfolds is a great summer read, especially if you enjoy truth that is stranger than fiction.
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The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy by David Nasaw
The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy

Nancy L, November 22, 2013

I only thought I knew who Joe Kennedy was. Nasaw's biography is a very well-written account of a remarkably talented and shrewd, yet incredibly naive man. It's a fascinating story: He made his millions in the pre-depression stock market, then became the first chairman of the SEC, where the laws were written that criminalized his money-making schemes! As ambassador to the UK he was such a loose cannon that FDR kept him in the dark. He believed Hitler could be negotiated with long after all evidence pointed to the contrary.

I really enjoyed the insights into his family life. Despite all the stories of harsh competitiveness and philandering, he was clearly a devoted father. His determined influence on his sons' decisions to enter politics is poignant.

As always, a good biography teaches history. The run-up to WWII, and Kennedy's activities and their relationship with the Catholic church during JFK's political rise were especially interesting. For people my age, the sons have overshadowed the father, making Joe Kennedy's story all the more compelling.

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Enemies: A History of the FBI by Tim Weiner
Enemies: A History of the FBI

Nancy L, January 22, 2013

As he did in Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, Tim Weiner takes us through history, this time as the FBI is created and evolves. The focus is on intelligence and national security; I was surprised there wasn't more content on famous criminal cases. Of course, the story of J. Edgar Hoover is a large part of the FBI's story, and I think Weiner did a good job of describing the offensive and eccentric side of Hoover, while also attempting to give the reader Hoover's perspective. It is interesting to learn how the presidents have worked (or not) with the FBI, and how the modern-day FBI continues to struggle to define itself and its mission.
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The Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar
The Barbarian Nurseries

Nancy L, January 22, 2013

Contemporary fiction at its finest. The Barbarian Nurseries depicts one family's marital struggles as they live the American dream and cope with their relationship, parenting, and present-day financial insecurity in L.A. The story has a strong sense of place, but it's not set in the L.A. of movie stars and Disneyland. It's the L.A. where families really live.

Both parents separately decide to take a temporary break, and leave without telling each other, or their maid Araceli, an illegal immigrant from Mexico. As a bewildered Araceli makes one uninformed, but thoughtful decision after another during the parent's absence; the story becomes a real page-turner. I could not put it down until I found out what happened to the kids, and to the parents when they realized what they'd done, and to Araceli once her ordeal was over.
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