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bgelean has commented on (9) products.

The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family's Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World by Lucette Lagnado
The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family's Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World

bgelean, March 9, 2008

I thoroughly liked this book. The author speaks from the heart about her family's life with respect and candor. Mostly autobiographical in content, the history of the family and particularly the patriarch is the backbone on which it is written. A complete "riches to rags" story, the early part of the book deals with a world completely alien to post-war Egypt and its Jewish population. Fleeing from their country of birth and rich lifestyle into the unknown life of refugees with "no state", no home, is a journey of changes, separation, religious deprivation, illness, and much more. Lucette "Loulou" takes this journey and relates it without prejudice or blame. She gives us an understanding of the life of a refugee immigrant in the post-war world of the 1950/60s and beyond; a time of change not just in the country they have left but in the countries to which they flee. The suffering of the father trying to raise his family in the ways of both a strict religion and a strict culture is described with the perspective of both a little girl with great love for her father and as a young lady gradually breaking with tradition. She has written this book in a gentle, insightful and caring way that can teach us a lot without hammering it in.
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(5 of 10 readers found this comment helpful)

Invisible Armies
Invisible Armies

bgelean, March 6, 2008

This is the first Jon Evans novel I have read. What an adventure in reading! This book is positively vibrating with intensity and action. If you want a book that you will not want to put down, this is the book for you. The action is constant with occasional breaks where you can catch your breath before again boarding that rollercoaster ride through the pages. I found that with all the switchbacks and turnabouts I was holding my breath. This book spun me around and topsy-turvy with every change in direction. At first I found the narrative bits a bit unsettling, somewhat like watching a TV program with voice-over narration for the blind, but I soon overcame that feeling with the dialogue and action.

The story begins with a somewhat typical girl, Danielle, doing a favour for a friend. She is soon literally fighting for her life and for humanity. Nobody is who they seem, nobody wants to trust anyone else. This book will amaze you in how far the world has actually come in technology, but don’t concern yourself with whether you will understand technobabble; it will usually be explained. I guess you could say technology is one of the heroes. Jon Evans has built a brilliant story which includes the best and worst in people, greed, awareness, and the survival instinct in all of us. It takes us to different countries and in dark places and communities which seem worlds away. I highly recommend this book, it is outstanding in its genre. If it weren’t for the few calm spots in the book, I would have had to read it cover-to-cover in one sitting. In fact, I finished it at 3:00 in the morning. You will not be unaffected.
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(3 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)

When to Walk by Rebecca Gowers
When to Walk

bgelean, March 4, 2008

I had a hard time concentrating on this book at the outset. The book covers 1 week (each day a chapter) in the life of Ramble (how aptly named she is!) Saturday left me very confused and seemed more erratic than necessary, but by Monday I was getting into how it flows. The first part of the book was definitely difficult, and left me mostly confused and wondering when it could possibly garner some cohesion. It took me fewer days to get through the rest of the book which was enjoyable, but the first part I really dragged through. Once a bond was made with a neighbor, Ramble began to become more real to me. Once you get into the convoluted mind of Ramble, you can begin to enjoy her non-adventures as a travel writer who never goes anywhere. She definitely has an interesting command of the English language and her research methods are quite fascinating. For the full week her mind narrates the book, but I for one felt that the end was rather predictable. The book in itself is an interesting scenario of how a mind can work, but do we ever really know who she is by the end? I would have to leave that to future readers. Nevertheless, it is a very different book, full of unorthodox ideas and fun as well. Worth the read, although I'm not sure who I would most recommend it to. Certainly to anyone who is more interested in the psyche, and how people react to various crises. I believe Ramble is stronger than she knows and her current predicament is somewhat of a blessing. An unusual book, well researched in an odd way.
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(5 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)

Surviving the Odds by Jack Capell
Surviving the Odds

bgelean, March 3, 2008

Being a Canadian, most WWII books I have read have been Canadian also. That said, this book is extremely well-written, is told truthfully and remarkably straight-forward. This is the story of the undecorated heroes as told by one person who was there. These are the true heroes who fought in the front without questioning their duty and with no intention of giving up what they were fighting for. The book takes us from Capell’s early history and his journey into front line combat. Due to a mixup in his citizenship (he was born in Canada but lived almost his entire life in the U.S.) he was placed in the lowest ranks. What is interesting in the early part of the book is the number of mistakes made while still in training in the U.S. and England. This is unconscionable. This followed by the infamous error incurred during the landings on the beaches of Normandy, including the one that caused his division being dropped in deep water in the wrong part of the beach, complete with the vehicle he was driving and managed through ingenuity to recover from the bottom. This is one of many instances throughout the book where soldier’s inventiveness saved their lives and others.
As has notably happened in both Canada and the United States, perhaps everywhere, after 40 to 50 years, many servicemen felt they were able to go back to that time in their recollections and hence we are able to benefit from the reliving of not only the hardships, horrors, chaos and deprivations suffered at these times, but also see the amazing strengths, faith, and indeed the humor which kept them going. So it goes in this book. It is strongly researched, but the memories come through as honest remembrances of actual acts, good or bad, no holds barred. That the author survived to tell his story is nothing short of a miracle, especially as a wireman, laying wire through enemy lines. In light of the “friendly fire” visited on his division so many times it’s remarkable that anyone survived the front lines. This story demonstrates humanity among inhumanity. The story is conversational in tone and very easy to read considering it’s content. I highly recommend this book for it’s integrity, it’s ability to bring the experiences to a new level of understanding, and it’s unfaltering faith. I firmly believe this book needed to be written, for what is the use of reading literature by the observers? This is literature by a full-time player.
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(21 of 24 readers found this comment helpful)

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