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Customer Comments

Wendy in Port Townsend has commented on (21) products.

The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars by Andrew X Pham
The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars

Wendy in Port Townsend, January 27, 2012

This is an incredible story of survival, loyalty, and betrayal over decades in Vietnam. Andrew X. Pham tells the life of his father, a brilliant and gentle teacher who is caught up in the series of wars/resistance against the Japanese, the French, and the Americans, as well as the country's internal massacres. Thong Van Pham's political naiveté and bad luck bring about a shocking series of terrors that helped me make sense of the 20th Century in Vietnam. I enjoyed reading about Thong's almost idyllic childhood growing up wealthy in the countryside, his description of the towns and cities where he lived in Vietnam, and how his family and the whole country changed over time. I would have adjusted the structure of this book. Although I often enjoy non-linear stories, in this case I was confused by the order of the chapters, which relate events going back and forth in time. Having a timeline of Vietnamese history beside me would have helped, as well as a map of Vietnam.
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After sorrow :an American among the Vietnamese by Lady Borton

Wendy in Port Townsend, January 15, 2012

I wanted to begin to understand Vietnam after the war, and found this amazing book at the library, covered with accolades by writers I admire-- Grace Paley, Tim O'Brien, Gloria Emerson. Although this book was published in 1995, I consider it an outstanding memoir that should be read by more people today. Lady Borton was a farmer and bus driver in Ohio, and since she was brought up Quaker, she was able to work for the American Friends Service Committee in North and South Vietnam during the war. She learned Vietnamese, and later worked with the boat people who left Vietnam. This book is about her travels and her work in three places in central and North Vietnam in the 80s and 90s. She describes her relationships with the Vietnamese peasants and workers she lives with, often telling their stories of survival and resistance during the war through her own stories about cooking or harvesting side by side with them. I loved learning about their daily lives, their families, and even hearing their names translated into English.
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Beneath Cold Seas: The Underwater Wilderness of the Pacific Northwest by David Hall
Beneath Cold Seas: The Underwater Wilderness of the Pacific Northwest

Wendy in Port Townsend, January 1, 2012

This extraordinary book taught me so much about the underwater world of the Pacific Northwest and thrilled me with its photos.
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Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
Dreams of Joy

Wendy in Port Townsend, December 30, 2011

This sequel to Shanghai Girls is a truly amazing book. The research that went into this story is phenomenal, and the plot is gripping. Dreams of Joy is mostly set in Shanghai and the Chinese countryside during Mao's Great Leap Forward, a time of extreme idealism, disillusionment, famine, and death throughout China. I liked the structure of this novel-- some chapters are written by 20-year-old Joy, and some by her mother-- which allows for their different perspectives and experiences. It's definitely necessary to read Shanghai Girls first, though this is the stronger of the two novels. Everything that has happened in China in the past 60 years is astonishing, and Lisa See helps me make sense of it all.
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)

Beneath Cold Seas: The Underwater Wilderness of the Pacific Northwest by David Hall
Beneath Cold Seas: The Underwater Wilderness of the Pacific Northwest

Wendy in Port Townsend, December 27, 2011

Beneath Cold Seas: The Underwater Wilderness of the Pacific Northwest by David Hall is an truly extraordinary book. The author is an underwater photographer who spent decades photographing colorful tropical coral reefs, only to be astonished by the colorful diversity and beauty of the Pacific Northwest. His photographs are spectacular, revealing gorgeous and strange creatures, some of which I'd never even heard of before. The story of how he dressed and carried the equipment to compose these underwater photos is fascinating. Hall draws attention to specific creatures he especially loves, including Hooded Nudibranchs- sea slugs that look like ghostly jellyfish, the Red Irish Lord Sculpin- a red and gold rockfish that looks like its eyes are covered in glitter, and Decorated Warbonnets- silly looking fish with unusual growths on their foreheads and backs. Hall's stories about what happened while he was photographing Sockeye Salmon and Steller Sea Lions are hilarious, and they add to a rare treasure of a book. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in photography, the ocean, wildlife, or the Pacific Northwest.
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