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Last Real Good Book You Read


James

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...and why.

I'm currently reading my first Ayn Rand Book, "Atlas Shrugged".

She is an ultra-libertarian who extols human achievement as the greatest virtue. Through fictional characters and story she very expertly paints the picture of her philosophy.

Though not exactly my "truth", there are parallels and I find it intoxicatingly good.

Next?

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I just revisited an old favorite - If It Had Happened Otherwise. I don't think it was the first of its rewrite history genre, but it is the best - the basic premise is how history would have been shaped had a different outcome occured at a major turning point (e.g. if Caesar hadn't crossed the Rubican). Various authors contributed to this book, so it's not just one person's point of view.

I am not a favorite of "what ifs" in that sense, which is why this book stood out. I thought it might have little appeal, yet it was so well written that it won me over. The most clever piece was written by Churchill - what would have happened if Lee had won the Battle of Gettsyburg. He did a double twist - writing as one who had knew as fact the Southern victory in the Civil War, yet imagining how life would be if the North had won.

If you like Rand, try Fountainhead - I preferred that to Atlas Shrugged, and it's supposedly loosely based on Philip Johnson.

Anne

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The Mold in Dr. Florey's Coat by Eric Lax

This book is about the pursuit and the development of penicillin. Many people think that Sir Alexander Fleming is responsible for penicillin as the "wonder drug of the century". Technically that is true only in the fact that he discovered it by accident but basically gave up on it for years until others discovered his observations that were recorded in an obscure paper he wrote. The real heros here are Dr. Ernst Chain the German Jew refugee who worked in research in an Oxford hospital, Dr. Howard Florey the brilliant Australian physician who doggedly went after penicillin to see if it could be mass produced and thus made readily available. Last but certainly not least is Norman Heatley, the British biochemist who was a "Mr. Wizard" of the laboratory. He could develop any type of system in the lab needed to carry on valuable research. He would take discarded and hard to find equipment in war torn Britain and make it work somehow. All of this story is told in a very readable form with the backdrop of WWII constantly hovering over everyone. The name of the book was derived from the plan that if the Nazis invaded Oxford and were getting too close they would destroy the lab where the research was ongoing and put the valuable mold in their lab coats and go hide somewhere with their "secret". Luckily for mankind it never got to that point. Fleming, Chain and Florey received the Nobel Prize for their efforts in 1945. However, I feel the true hero that made this happen was Dr. Norman Heatley. He was awarded the first ever Honorary Doctor of Medicine for his contributions by Oxford University in 1990. This story has a connection to my family and my hometown. In 1941, Heatley was sent to Peoria, IL my hometown to do research during this process at the Agricultural Research (USDA Center)Center. It was here that a cantelopue from a local market was found that was able to sustain the mold long and sufficiently enough to develop the first commercially successful manufacture of this wonder drug. My father, worked at that lab as a research chemist for 30 years afterward starting in 1951. What is really neat is that while Dad was a young GI stationed in Oxford in 1944, he was given a ride one night back to his army base by a British civilian. In the course of their conversation this man asked my Dad where in the U.S. he was from and when he replied with Peoria, IL...Dr. Heatley said "I lived there for 6 months several years ago working on a research project." Little did Dad know at that time the impact that this man had on human civilization with the success of his research! Dad did write to him many years later and Dr. Heatley did recall his chance encounter with a young American GI from Peoria. Dr. Heatley passed away in 2003 at the age of 93. Anyway this is a great read. I literally could not put this book down as it was written like a novel and obviously held some personal interest for me as well. Thanks Dad...I love you and thanks Dr. Heatley for sharing your gifts with all of mankind.

Phil

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We Die Alone, by David Howarth.

It's the true story of an attempt to sabotage the Germans hold over Norway in WWII. From the very beginning of his group's planned raid, it all goes wrong -due to betrayal - the Norweigan group is met on the beach by German forces, and only one, Jan Baalsrud, survives. How he manages to evade the Germans, hide out and survive in the artic cold, and eventually (barely) makes it to Sweden ---it's an incredible story of bravery, courage, and determination when all certainly seems lost.

After reading the book you'll probably want to sign up for a survival training course!

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ahh, one of the best books I read recently was about Horse Racing; The Race for The Triple Crown.Great book. Also have read some real clunkers about horse racing lately. One about some chick whose grandmothers ghost comes back and tells her to bet $10,000 on some race at Belmont. Ofcourse shes convinced it's a sure thing. Well, the horse tanks and she ends drinking heavily and whining about her high paying job in Manhattan. Guess her grandmother didnt like her so much. She later falls in love with some stable hand who likes her in chaps and borrows $50,000 from her for some horse they end up making glue out of.

She ends up drinking more and whining some more.

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Am I a horse racing fan?

Absolutely. Nothing like a sunny afternoon, The Daily Racing Form , and the chance to break even.

Derby season, and its prep races, is a source of great joy for me. I'll be happy to start and seed a thread next spring for those who like to watch the three-year olds.

Am I a gambling addict?

Umm ... if I say "No" that means I'm in denial, right? Can't win ... shrug.

I've taken the liberty to start a thread featuring my NFL Picks vs. The Number and cordially invite you to join.

Especially you, Tony.

"K"

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Well, I just finished chapter one(Markin' Up The Score) of Folk Singer Bob Dylan's National Bestseller of 2004 called Chronicles: Volume One. I went to buy music, and low and behold, on one of the DVD shelves-of all places- was this book. I started reading the thirteen pages(Yes, 13)of praise reviews for the book, before the first chapter, while listening to a Bobby Goldsboro 1968 CD. The first song is "See The Funny Little Clown". I had no idea what the song was about, since I just bought it, but it seems to fit, from the reviews, of part of Bob's life in the past. He had played in basket houses, and he was hired to play at the Gaslight.

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