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 – Mona Lisa in Camelot (ARC)

Mona Lisa in Camelot,mona-lisa2
How Jacqueline Kennedy and Da Vinci’s Masterpiece Charmed and Captivated a Nation
Written By: Margaret Leslie Davis
Published By: Da Capo Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group, Philadelphia, USA, 2008, First Edition, 272 pages, hardcover
ISBN 978-0-7382-1103-9
(Available NOW!)

Mona Lisa in Camelot is the beautifully-written account of how the exquisite Mona Lisa painting and the graceful and charming First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, joined forces to unite two powerful nations.”

From the front book flap:
“In December 1962, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa set sail from Paris to New York for what many knew would be the riskiest art exhibition ever mounted. The fragile painting, sealed in a temperature-controlled, bulletproof box, travelled like a head of state accompanied by armed guards and constant surveillance.
The Driving force behind the famous painting’s high-profile visit was First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who convinced French Cultural Minister André Malraux and National Art Gallery Director John Walker to share the masterpiece with the American people. She overcame the fierce objections of Art officials who feared the journey would ruin the world’s most celebrated smile, and “Lisa Fever” soon swept the nation as nearly two million American’s attended exhibits in Washington, D.C. and New York City. It was the greatest outpouring of appreciating for a single work of art in American history. And as only Jacqueline Kennedy could do, she infused America’s first museum blockbuster show with a unique sense of pageantry that ignited a national love affair with the arts.
Gathering rare archival documents, acclaimed biographer Margaret Leslie Davis has woven a tantalizing sage filled with international intrigue and the irresistible charm of Camelot and its queen.”

Mona Lisa in Camelot, how Jacqueline Kennedy and Da Vinci’s Masterpiece Charmed and Captivated a Nation was such a lovely read. I felt such a sense of ceremony and culture, as though I was having tea with the First Lady herself.
Margaret Leslie Davis has very skillfully woven the details of the Mona Lisa exhibition into a vivid and rich account of the First Lady, her life and interactions preceding, during and following the display of the priceless work of art.
The documents included in this marvellous book are very telling and gave me a glimpse of the inner workings of Jacqueline Kennedy’s brilliant mind.
The incredible amount of manoeuvring, urging and timely-choreography required of those involved in this process was truly impressive.
It amazes me, even though I am a definite art enthusiast, just how much this particular painting by Leonardo Da Vinci, has affected the people of America, France and many other places across the globe.
This is a very detailed read, certainly not a book that you can rush through; it had a gentle pace which worked wonderfully.
This true story touches briefly on the assignation of John F. Kennedy (JFK) and how it too, stirred the emotions of countless peoples around the world.
If you appreciate art and have any interest in the Kennedy’s, this book is an absolute must-have!

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

 

Link to the Author’s Website:
http://www.margaretlesliedavis.com/
Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://www.perseusbooksgroup.com/dacapo/home.jsp

A special thanks to Mini Book Expo for Bloggers for sending me a copy.
(Due to unseen difficulties at Mini Book Expo and the Publisher, this book’s review has unfortunately been delayed by 3 months.)

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review of ‘The Serial Killer Files, The Who, What, Where, How, and Why of the World’s Most Terrifying Murders’

The Serial Killer Files,
The Who, What, Where, How, and Why of the World’s Most Terrifying Murders

Written By: Harold Schechter
Published By: A Ballantine Book, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, USA, 2003, First Edition, 422 pages, softcover (9.1 x 7.4 inches)
ISBN 978-0-345-46566-0

The Serial Killer Files is an overflowing compendium of Serial Killer facts and data which will inform you and keep you riveted!”

If someone thinks about a serial killer, they often imagine a person who is insane and out of control. In many cases these things are true.
There are usually some common root problems and issues linking serial killers and many of these links are found in their childhoods and the abuse and neglect they received during those formative years. This certainly is not an excuse for their horrifying actions or their unacceptable behaviour, though it really does start to make some sense if you reflect on it.
If children are subjected to sexual and psychological abuse from loved ones and/or strangers, are ridiculed, tortured, abandoned and neglected, it is common sense that they are not necessarily going to grow up into healthy, productive members of society. This isn’t to say that all, or even most people who grow up in this type of environment will turn out ‘badly’, but it should make us stop and think about how it is possible for an innocent child to be turned into such a crazed and vicious killer.
Inside The Serial Killer Files there are nine chapters, each covering a variety of relevant topics. Here a list of the Chapter Headings and a sampling of the topic’s discussed within:

Chapter One: What It Means – Origin of the Term, Definitions, Psychopath vs. Psychotic, Beyond Madness…

Chapter Two: Who They Are – Then Traits of Serial Killers, Warning Signs, Young and Old, Medical monsters, Nicknames…

Chapter Three: A History Of Serial Murder – Serial Murder: Old as Sin, Grim Fairy Tales, Serial Slaughter Through the Ages

Chapter Four: Gallery Of Evil, Ten American Monsters – H.H. Holmes, Albert Fish, Edward Gein, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffery Dahmer…

Chapter Five: Sex And The Serial Killer – Perversions, Sadism, Transvestism, Cannibalism, Pedophilia…

Chapter Six: Why They Kill – Atavism, Brain Damage, Child Abuse, Mother Hate, Adoption, Copycats…

Chapter Seven: Evil In Action – Triggers, Hunting Grounds, Prey, Signature, Ritual, MO, Methods, Torture, Trophies…

Chapter Eight: How It Ends – Profiling, Capture, Suicide, Punishment, Unsolved…

Chapter Nine: Serial Killer Culture – Fun with Serial Killers, Art, Music, Literature, Murderbilia…

Included in this book are many case studies, letters from serial killers, some pictures, comic drawings and pictures of some Serial Killer Trading cards, recommended reading material at the end of each topic, quotes from some serial killers, an index and A True-Crime Bibliography.

The Serial Killer Files, The Who, What, Where, How, and Why of the World’s Most Terrifying Murders is a very informative and thought-provoking book.
***It is very graphic and contains images and descriptions of crimes, tortures and other atrocities which were carried out by the serial killers, mass murderers, spree killers and so on.
This book is not for the weak of stomach or weak of mind and it simply ‘might not be your cup of tea’. If you make an effort to remain objective (as humanly possible) about the unsettling content in this hefty book, you will learn a lot about “Who, What, Where, How, and Why’s” of these killers and what has happened in each case.
Even though the content is very explicit and chilling, I feel that I have gained a lot of insight from reading it and I highly recommend it!

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

 

Link to the Author’s Website:
http://www.haroldschechter.com/
Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://www.randomhouse.com/rhpg/about/history.html#ballantine

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 ‘Rage, The True Story of a Sibling Murder’

Wednesday, September 3, 2008 – original post

Rage,
The True Story of a Sibling Murder
Written By: Jerry Langton
Published By: Wiley, John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd., Mississauga, Ontario, 1st Ed., 2008, 179 pages, softcover
ISBN 978-0470154410

Rage, The True Story of a Sibling Murder is a grisly account of how untreated mental problems, caustic outside influences and lack of supervision can lead to murder.”

Johnathon Madden was a fun, boisterous and active 12 year old boy. Like many other boys his age he loved sports, throwing snowballs, playing video games and hanging out with friends. Despite Johnathon’s cheerful external appearance, he knew dark secrets within his own home that had him living in fear of his older brother.
Johnathon’s older brother Kevin was 16 and very big for his age. Kevin had a long history of violence, mental issues and a major problem with authority. Having failed two grades and been kicked out of many schools because of his behavioural problems, Kevin was on the raged-edge and had lots of hatred and violence building in his 250 lb. frame.
On the evening of November 25th 2003, Johnathon was heading home to get a roll of quarters so he could go back to the cyber café and play some video games with his buddy. Because he shared a room with is older brother, Johnathon had to endure repeated and frequent beatings in his daily life.
On this particular chilly evening in November, Johnathon would make his very last, lonely walk home.

Rage, The True Story of a Sibling Murder is a genuine account of siblicide in Toronto, Ontario. This book has opened my eyes a lot and made me thankful that I am quite vigilant with watching over my family and taking care of issues until they are resolved.
I recommend this book to read, but there are points in the book, where descriptions of the murder, number of wounds, etc. that are extremely graphic, but necessary all the same.
As a parent myself, I wonder how Kevin, an older brother who was a ticking time bomb and an obvious psychopath, could be left alone with his younger, smaller brother…I simply can’t fathom it.
Rest in Peace Johnathon Robert Madden, you poor little sweetheart.

♦♦♦♦♦♦ (6 out of 10 Diamonds) – I enjoyed it

 
Link to Memorial Website set up for Johnathon by his mother:
http://www.johnathon-madden.memory-of.com/About.aspx
Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://ca.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-300012.html
This book courtesy of Mini Book Expo.com:
http://www.minibookexpo.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/