Book Review – In the Land of Cotton

In the Land of Cotton
Written by: Martha A. Taylor
Published by: Outskirts Press
Date: April 6, 2009
Pages: 270
Format: Perfect Paperback
ISBN: 978-1432734718

In the Land of Cotton will open your eyes, educate you and touch your heart; a story of civil rights, racial intolerance and a life long love.”

Book Description – From Amazon.com
“SLAVERY IS MORE THAN CHAINS AND SHACKLES
SLAVERY IS A STATE OF MIND
Immerse yourself in this highly anticipated political docu-drama set in the Deep South amidst the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement.
Martha was a young white girl living in the Deep South, inundated with the racist sentiments of the times. But Martha’s natural curiosity and generous heart led her to question this racial divide. When she discovered a primitive Negro family living deep in the woods near her house, everyone’s life changed forever.
Take the journey of a lifetime alongside Martha as she forges relationships that lead to self discovery and a clearer understanding of the world around her. In the Land of Cotton provides an outstanding snapshot of life in the South during those troubled times – a snapshot everyone should take a close look at, regardless of era or color.
The year was 1956.”

In the Land of Cotton is absolutely fantastic! From page one I was hooked! When I first read the synopsis for In the Land of Cotton I was really intrigued but I hadn’t realized that it was based on Martha A. Taylor’s life as she grew up in the Deep Southern United States, in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Here I am, trying to write the review and I am somewhat at a loss for words; it is really difficult to express how much this story moved me and educated me. So much more than a memoir, this story grabs the reader and shares, through Martha’s experiences, what was going on, in and around her small world (politics, civil rights, war, wages, etc.) while she was growing up. The reader may well feel like they’ve opened a time capsule. Thoroughly researched and well documented, In the Land of Cotton will open your eyes, make you ask questions and captivate you with its honesty and humanity. I was really amazed and saddened by how little I knew about the civil rights movement and the civil unrest that was the cause of so much hardship, death, fear and hate in the 1950’s – 1960’s. Martha had a very close and taboo relationship (because of race) with the Boyd family; the reader will see the world through her eyes. I fell in love with Martha and Silas’ love story and I felt so torn for them — living in a society that would not tolerate them being together because they had different skin colours; Martha – white and Silas – black. This is Martha’s story and the story of a nation as it struggles with racial intolerance and discrimination.
The foreword is written by Clifton Dobbins the 3rd and the prologue summarizes & concludes many of the topics covered in the course of the story. Thank you Martha, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing your story with us!
I can not recommend this book highly enough; everyone should read this story! I smiled, I laughed and I sobbed my eyes out and…I can’t really say much more without ruining the story, other than to say that I absolutely LOVED this book!!!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (10 out of 10 Diamonds) – Absolutely LOVED it!!

Find out where to buy this book.

Publisher’s Website

A special thanks to Martha A. Taylor for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – A Lucky Child

A Lucky ChildA Lucky Child
Written By: Thomas Buergenthal
Forward By: Elie Wiesel
Published By: Little, Brown and Company an Imprint of Hachette Book Group, 2009, First Edition, 256 pages, hardcover
ISBN 978-0316043403
Top Pick

A Lucky Child is the deeply compelling, straightforward story of a boy’s survival in Auschwitz; he retained his humanity despite the horrors surrounding him on a daily basis.”

Product Description – From Amazon.com
“Thomas Buergenthal, now a Judge in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, tells his astonishing experiences as a young boy in his memoir A LUCKY CHILD. He arrived at Auschwitz at age 10 after surviving two ghettos and a labor camp. Separated first from his mother and then his father, Buergenthal managed by his wits and some remarkable strokes of luck to survive on his own. Almost two years after his liberation, Buergenthal was miraculously reunited with his mother and in 1951 arrived in the U.S. to start a new life.
Now dedicated to helping those subjected to tyranny throughout the world, Buergenthal writes his story with a simple clarity that highlights the stark details of unimaginable hardship. A LUCKY CHILD is a book that demands to be read by all.”

The Lucky Child is a poignant memoir, allowing the reader to envision and feel all of the emotions and terror that Thomas (as a young boy) must have felt, while at the same time, maintaining a more detached approach (less gruesome) then many of the Holocaust books I have previously read. I was instantly drawn into this story and pulled into the absorbing narrative; this story is absolutely riveting! This smoothly flowing story has perfect momentum and keeps the reader’s interest from beginning to end. Thomas’ invaluable story really brought the Holocaust ‘home’, to me. As the reader visualizes what life was like for this young boy (and many others like him) during those horrendous times, it makes his experiences even more vivid and heartbreaking. I don’t want to give away any part of this book because it is Thomas’ unforgettable story to tell; only he can properly share with you the misery, wretchedness and the desolation that he felt while he was imprisoned.  Included in this book are 16 beautiful, black & white photographs and a black & white map (2 full pages).You simply MUST read this book!
I very highly recommend this book to everyone!!!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (10 out of 10 Diamonds) – Absolutely LOVED it!!
 

Link to Information about the Author:
http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/books_9780316043403.htm
Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/

** To watch a video interview with Thomas, please click here.

A special thanks to Hachette Book Group for sending me a copy to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – My Little Red Book (ARC)

My Little Red Bookmy-little-red-book1
Edited By: Rachel Kauder Nalebuff
Published By: Twelve, an imprint of Grand Central Publishing, 2009, First Edition, 240 pages, hardcover
ISBN 978-0446546362
(Available NOW!)
Top Pick

My Little Red Book is honest and insightful; it breaks the barriers of age, religion, race and unreasonable taboos surrounding menstruation and first periods.”

Product Description – From Amazon.com
“MY LITTLE RED BOOK is an anthology of stories about first periods, collected from women of all ages from around the world. The accounts range from light-hearted (the editor got hers while water skiing in a yellow bathing suit) to heart-stopping (a first period discovered just as one girl was about to be strip-searched by the Nazis). The contributors include well-known women writers (Meg Cabot, Erica Jong, Gloria Steinem, Cecily von Ziegesar), alongside today’s teens. And while the authors differ in race, faith, or cultural background, their stories share a common bond: they are all accessible, deeply honest, and highly informative. Whatever a girl experiences or expects, she’ll find stories that speak to her thoughts and feelings…”

My Little Red Book is one of the most honest, soul-bearing story collaborations that I have ever had the good fortune to read. When I heard about this book I was instantly intrigued. What woman hasn’t at some point, felt embarrassment or felt somewhat stigmatized by their monthly flow? I know there have been many times that I disliked being female because of the ‘monthly appearance’ that cramped by style, literally! As I read this book, I was really delighted to read about women’s accounts of their periods; I didn’t enjoy the painful parts obviously, but I could relate.  The differences in cultural beliefs and how the first periods were treated along with how the women were treated; reading about it all and imagining the trepidation they must have felt while sharing their stories; it really humbled me.
This book includes a wonderful note from the Author and is indexed by author, subject and decade and includes a list of creative euphemisms and code words for when we have or are getting out period. Though it sometimes feels like we are still in ‘the dark ages’ of menstrual tolerance, this poignant collection helps map the progression of treatment and personal feelings about menstruation as the years have passed and provides a surprisingly diverse look at our ‘monthly friend’. I had to laugh at Gloria Steinem’s essay, “If Men Could Menstruate”; what  brilliant wit!  All the proceeds from the sale from this edition, including the advance, are being donated by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff to charities that promote women’s health. I really enjoyed reading this book!
I very highly recommend this book to women of all ages and to men who want to expand their minds on a somewhat hushed (until now), feminine topic.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (10 out of 10 Diamonds) – Absolutely LOVED it!!
 

Link to Information About the Editor:
http://www.mylittleredbook.net/
Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/

A special thanks to Hachette Book Group for sending me a copy to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly

The Diving-Bell and the Butterflythe-diving-bell-the-butterfly
Written By: Jean-Dominique Bauby
Published By: Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2008, First Edition by Harper Perennial, 144 pages, paperback
ISBN 978-0307389251

The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly grants you access into a lonely, locked-in world; this poignant memoir is a stark reminder of how infinitely precious life is.”

Product Description – From Amazon.com
“In December 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby, the 43-year-old editor of French Elle, suffered a massive stroke that left him permanently paralyzed, a victim of “locked in syndrome.” Once known for his gregariousness and wit, Bauby now finds himself imprisoned in an inert body, able to communicate only by blinking his left eye. The miracle is that in doing so he was able to compose this stunningly eloquent memoir.
In a voice that is by turns wistful and mischievous, angry and sardonic, Bauby gives us a celebration of the liberating power of consciousness: what it is like to spend a day with his children, to imagine lying in bed beside his wife, to conjure up the flavor of delectable meals even as he is fed through at tube. Most of all, this triumphant book lets us witness an indomitable spirit and share in the pure joy of its own survival.”

The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly is such an insightful and inspirational book. This is one mans story; his triumph of spirit and his courage despite all odds. That a man in his prime, powerful and respected, could be brought so low by a rare condition known as locked-in syndrome; it is almost to horrible to contemplate. This story is a quick read and has a distinct, flowing plot. I was really fascinated by Jean’s indomitable spirit and his sardonic wit. There were many times when I smiled at Jean’s comments and thoughts, delighting in his zest for life while in a near vegetative state. The beautiful writing was so vivid and detailed that I could almost see through his one, good eye. His absolute determination, to share his story with the world leaves us forever in his debt. Though I was saddened by his condition and ultimately his death, I really enjoyed his story.
I highly recommend this book.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (9 out of 10 Diamonds) – Loved it!
 

Link to Information about the Author:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Dominique_Bauby
Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://www.harpercollins.ca/

A special thanks to HarperCollins for sending me a copy to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – The American Journey of Barack Obama

the-american-journey-of-barack-obamaThe American Journey of Barack Obama
Written By: The Editors of Time LIFE
Published By: Little, Brown and Company, a Division of the Hachette Book Group Inc., 2008, First Edition, 176 pages, over-sized hardcover
ISBN 978-0316045605
Top Pick

The American Journey of Barack Obama is an absolute must have; a wonderful abundance of photographs, the history of Barack Obama’s personal life and his rise through the political ranks.”

Congratulations, President Obama!

Product Description: From Amazon.com
“For decades Americans have turned to LIFE to see, understand, and remember the most important events and people of our time. Just as LIFE once opened up the glittering Kennedy White House, LIFE now focuses its lens on Barack Obama. The American Journey of Barack Obama covers the candidate from his childhood and adolescence to his time as editor of The Harvard Law Review and his Chicago activist years, culminating with the excitement and fervor of the historic 2008 Democratic National Convention. The unfolding drama of Obama’s life and political career is cinematic in scope, and never has it been presented so compellingly. In addition to a powerful array of photographs that were taken by many of the country’s greatest photographers (and some that were snapped, in the quiet moments, by Obama family members themselves), this book also includes a Foreword by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, an incisive narrative biography and original essays by some of our finest writers, including Gay Talese, Charles Johnson, Melissa Fay Greene, Andrei Codrescu, Fay Weldon, Richard Norton Smith, Bob Greene and several others. Many readers will find a new understanding of Obama. All readers will feel that they are bearing witness to a singular, undeniably American story.”

The American Journey of Barack Obama is a rich collection of photographs and information about the new US President! I really enjoyed reading this book as there is not an over abundance of detailed political information and strategising, though it still talks about President Obama’s rise in the political arena. This book focuses on President Obama’s family and his diverse upbringing. It tells of his multiculturalism and his strong desire to unite the United States, for the betterment of all.
I was so pleased by the overabundance of the large, colourful photographs, which were so telling, all on there own. I was delighted to see so many photographs of President Obama as he grew up and of his own family including his wife and his two young daughters, his siblings, parents and grandparents.
This is a man with immense ability and an unstoppable drive; he’ll get the job done right!
I very highly recommend this book!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (10 out of 10 Diamonds) – Absolutely LOVED it!!

Link to the Author Information:
http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/authors_The-Editors-of-Life-Magazine-(1527341).htm
Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/

A special thanks to Hachette Book Group for sending me a copy to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – Eyewitness Auschwitz, Three Years in the Gas Chambers

Thursday, September 18, 2008 – original post

Eyewitness Auschwitz,
Three Years in the Gas Chambers
Written By: Filip Muller
Published by Ivan R Dee, Chicago, 1st Ed. By this Publisher, Published in Association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1999, 180 pages, softcover
ISBN 978-1566632713

Eyewitness Auschwitz is an exceptionally graphic, in-depth and carefully recounted description of Filip Muller’s horrific, three-year’s in the Gas Chambers of Auschwitz, one of the most infamous Nazi Extermination Camps”

Filip Muller was born in Sered, Czechoslovakia in 1922. He was a young man with the promising future of being a great fiddle player and possibly as a writer.
Then in 1942, Filip was deported to Auschwitz, when he was just 20 years old and his life and indeed his very soul, would never be the same again.
When he arrived in Auschwitz, Filip was permanently tattooed with the prisoner number 29236 and then sent to work in the gassing chambers soon after.
As a part of the Sonderkommando(Jewish prisoners/workers), Filip Muller was forced to work under the threat of torture, deprivation and extermination if he did not do as he was ordered by his captors.
He slaved-away with many other sonderkommando’s, performing tasks that sickened him and shattered his sense of humanity because of his own desire to live just one more day. Filip’s need to survive was not always forefront in his mind and at one point during his imprisonment he was ready and wanted to die; to finally escape from Auschwitz and all of its horrors. His captors had other ideas though and prevented him from ending his life until they decided it was his time to die.
Filip was witness to and or assisted in the physical labour required to gas, cremate, mass-cremate in pits, transport corpses, strip corpses, dig mass graves & cremation pits, remove ashes, amongst countless other ghastly sights and tasks.
He and many others with him, were finally liberated in the month of May, in 1945.

Eyewitness Auschwitz, Three Years in the Gas Chambers is a profound book chronicling the three-year real-life experiences of Filip Muller who lived to tell his story after the war was over. Without his testimony, there might not have been much first-hand testimony of many small details from the happenings inside Auschwitz.
When I read the excerpt for this book and even as I began reading it, I was so disgusted with what appeared to be a man putting his life above so many others. I was thinking ‘how in the world could he help these people, how could he do their dirty work, when it could just as easily have been him laying there, waiting lifelessly for his turn in the crematory?’. Here I was (as a reader), appointing myself as Filip Muller’s judge & jury, without even hearing his whole story. How many others felt as I did, about prisoners who were forced to work in the extermination camps as executioners of sorts?
By the time I finished reading this book, I was filled with such a deep and profound sorrow for all those who had been murdered, for their fellow prisoners who had been forced to assist with the murders and the immense injustice of it all. I realized that Filip Muller was not a horrible person. He was just another victim trapped in the awfulness of Auschwitz and he has had to live with all memories of what he was forced to do and all that he saw and lived through.
What a heavy burden it must be.

**Please understand that this is one of THE most graphic stories that I have ever read.** The realistic and stomach-churning depictions are very hard to get your head around sometimes, though the book is that much more extraordinary because of the hard-hitting truths.
This is a must read for anyone who wants to know more about the Holocaust and what really went on in Auschwitz and I strongly recommend this book!!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (8 out of 10 Diamonds) – Thoroughly enjoyed it

 
Some Information about the Author (very graphic):
http://www.auschwitz.dk/docs/new_page_11.htm
Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://www.ivanrdee.com/

Book Review of ‘Five Chimneys, A Woman Survivor’s True Story of Auschwitz’

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 – original post

Five Chimneys,
A Woman Survivor’s True Story of Auschwitz

Written By: Olga Lengyel
Published by Academy Chicago Publishers, Chicago, 1st Ed., 1995, paperback, 231 pages.

Five Chimneys is the authentic testimony of Olga’s hellish journey through the terror and unbelievable horrors of Auschwitz.”

Olga Lengyel was a woman who had been trained as a surgical assistant. She was the wife of a leading Surgeon and their affluent family was well respected in their community. They lived in the city called Cluj (also known as Klausenburg or Kolozsaur) in Transylvania.
Olga’s life was full of love, laughter and she had a contented home together with her husband Miklos, her two sons Thomas and Arvad, her parents and her god father.
In 1944, the war became very real to Olga and her family who up until that point had been very sceptical of the atrocious stories they had been hearing.
They, along with many other deportees arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau after an unbearable 7 day long, overcrowded train ride in a cattle car. Olga was transferred shortly thereafter to Auschwitz.
During the 7 months that Olga was imprisoned in the concentration camp, she suffered greatly and witnessed the suffering, degradation and extermination of thousands upon thousands of Jews, Gypsies, Hungarians, Czechoslovakians, Russians, Ukrainians, and many more peoples from other parts of the world.
Her only saving grace was her involvement in the underground movement against their German captors. They needed her help to pass on information and packages. This defiance helped her find the will to keep going, even when she wanted so badly to find release and was quite ready to die.

Five Chimneys is the true story of one woman’s survival during World War II in the concentration camp, Auschwitz. This book chronicles her ghastly memories and appalling experiences as she stays alive and endures too one day tell the world what she had been witness to.
As I read this book, I was so deeply saddened, disgusted and sickened by how the ill-fated victims were starved, gassed or poisoned, and finally fed to the “ever-hungry” crematoriums.
* There is very graphic content in this book and though this book is exceptionally distressing, it is also a real account of the extermination of so many innocent people, by the S.S. Germans.

I recommend this book, though to anyone with young children, I strongly suggest that you keep it out of their reach.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (7 out of 10 Diamonds) – I really enjoyed it

 
Some Information about the Author:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olga_Lengyel
Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://www.academychicago.com/