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Dreams from My Father

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Dreams from My Father – by Barack Obama

 Audiobook narration by Barack Obama, publisher: Random House (audio, 2005)

Dreams-from-My-Father-Barack-Obama

 What I learned from this book

If anyone has ever taken the time to listen to Barack Obama publicly speak, I think he or she would agree with me that he has an extraordinary way with words.  What I didn’t know (and what most people probably don’t either) is that he also has the ability to transform his voice into a wide array of characters – much like a talented voiceover actor. 

I’m not talking about one or two voices, but rather something that numbers in the double digits!  He uses this ability to paint a creative canvas with different voices/characters that he unveils to us are his family and/ or friends.  Whether it was his curmudgeonly (yet likeable) Anglo grandfather from Kansas; the velvety assortment of Kenyan-Kikuyan dialects depicting his late father – as well as other Kenyan relatives (both male and female); his African-American friends and teammates in the mainland U.S.; his Hawaiian peers and other locals; a pinch of Indonesian tongues; and on, and on and on.

What I liked about this book

No matter how impressive I found Obama to be prior to listening to the audio version of his inaugural autobiography, I cannot understate how much more impressive (and relatable) this work made him to me.  I certainly had my doubts as to how he could/ would build the foundation of “an understanding of the dreams of someone he barely knew (i.e. Barack Sr.).”  He also didn’t have access to the recollection of his mother; who also died very young in life.

Yet, I quickly became convinced at how he “filled in all of the blanks” by taking us on his journey to track down those who knew his father best – the side of his family still residing in Kenya.  Without being much of a spoiler, let’s just say he was able to keep from having to “guess” or “manipulate” the details of his father’s life.  He was able to track down how his father became who he was, what was important to his father, what made him tick, and what frightened or distracted him. For those of us who are familiar with absentee, enigmatic and/ or abusive parents, it is a unique and crafty approach to discovering the “secrets of the past” without having to create them from his imagination like most of the rest of us do. 

I was told by many a reading aficionado before embarking on this book that “this work, thus far, is Obama’s best…” I was dubious as how they thought they would (or could) know, but after spending a few evenings intently listening to the details of this book, I instantly realized I had to agree affirmatively with them.  It is a phenomenal, insightful and incredibly interesting read!  Bravo, 44!

What I disliked about this book

Zero. It is easily one of the top 5 reads in my all-time library archive.

Whom would I recommend to read this book

I think this book should be required reading for any young American student in high school.  It explains and clarifies so many of the questions they certainly have about this country, what and how we are taught growing up here, and how people from different places in the world add to, as opposed to detract from, the fabric of our society.

Any thoughts?

-A.N.

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Becoming Michelle Obama

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  • written by Michelle Obama (pub. 2018), 415 pp.

Becoming Michelle Obama

For book info, click FB link

What I learned from this book

Actually, I was shocked at how much of the book was apolitical.  I thought going in it would be much more concentrated on White House events, but, much to my relief, there were many more life experiences in the overall mix.  My expectations were for 80% politics and 20% personal.  In fact, it was more like 90% personal!  It is much less a book about living in America’s equivalent of a “Royal Palace,” and much more about one woman’s “journey in its totality.”  It is about identity, the struggle, self-doubts and the dream.  It is about perseverance.  It is also about letting go when you need to let go. But, most of all, it is about family, good friends and, most importantly, always standing firmly alongside the ones you love the most – warts and all!!

What I liked about this book

I’ve read hundreds (if not thousands) of books in my lifetime.  However, rarely have I run across an autobiography that is this honest and forthright.  Seriously, one would think that autobiographies are meant to be the most candid, but, for the most part, most fall dreadfully short of this goal.  I know it sounds cliché, but Michelle Obama really knows how to “put the reader in her shoes.” She understands how to make the reader feel the way she felt in a specific moment, to hurt in her personal moments of real pain, and to feel joy when she was uplifted in one of her finer moments.  She is a real person, a “one-of-a-kind” – and that is a rare find!  (And I’m a poet and didn’t know it!)

What I disliked about this book

I couldn’t find anything to pinpoint for “dislike” in this book. It’s no wonder that the book is such a global success.  It is written in a very straightforward, honest and humble way that most writers lack the fortitude to express. I just hope she keeps on writing!

Whom would I recommend to read this book

One would think that I would recommend this book to someone mostly interested in politics, but, in fact, I would say it’s a great read for all.  It is perfect for young and old alike, American or foreign, and male as well as female. 

Any thoughts?

-A.N.

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Becoming Michelle Obama

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  • **COMING BY NEXT WEEK (2/25/2019)**
  • by Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the United States of America

https://BecomingMichelleObama.com/



Book review (by Anthony Newcombe) on the autobiography of the person who would run the East Wing of the White House for two full presidential terms.

Follow Michelle’s amazing journey from the South Side of Chicago to  Princeton University to Harvard Law to Washington D.C.  

It is a very candid exploration of the experiences and array of aspirations, thoughts and fears stirring in the person who became the first African-American First Lady of the United States of America.

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Winners take all: the elite charade of changing the world

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by Anand Giridharadas, pps. 263, (pub. A.A. Knopf,2018)

Follow this author on Twitter – @anandwrites

More on this work by Anand Giridharadas

For book info, click FB link

What I learned from this book

The author lays some eye-opening stats on us in the Prologue. It does as much to shed light on the financial anxiety most Americans are and have been feeling for quite some time – that contribute to much of the division and fear mongering that has become an American staple for others to ‘swoop in on’ and take full advantage of.

Giridharadas references a study that discovered:

“…middle and lower class Americans (born from 1984 on) now have merely a 35% chance of achieving a comparable lifestyle to their parents (down drastically from previous generations).  He goes on to mention that the top tenth of earners income has doubled since 1980, the top 1% has tripled – and, if you’re in the top .001%, you earned 7x.”  (paraphrased from Prologue, pg. 4) 

The author tells us it is time to examine how income disparity numbers like this arose, and to take an honest look at how the crushing impact it has on the majority of us. 

The author also suggests that the general population would be foolish to (think and hope) that it can sit back and allow the super wealthy and super influential to save us all from this situation.  The reasons, as so carefully laid out in this book, are that many of the same individuals (and companies) who orchestrate, participate, fund, and preside on speaker panels are, in fact, the ones responsible for creating many of the global issues they claim to be solving.

This book is a very eye-opening exposé on what the author terms to be “a charade” that the rich and famous carefully play on the rest of us.  It shows repeated demonstrations as to how and why some very important social problems are to be addressed (as outlined by the super-rich), but fail to ever be resolved. The author informs us that this all appears to be more by design than by circumstance.  It is a harrowing thought– but one he insists is real and that we need to examine.

 What I liked about this book

Having watched Mr. Giridharadas appear on numerous television round tables, I’ve found his overall outlook and knowledge of the world catches my attention.  So, in the interest of full disclosure, I went into this book already knowing I would enjoy his style and delivery. It is one of the main reasons why I was even interested in the book in the first place. Nevertheless, what surprised me most was how he used cases of specific grievances from real-world individuals who run in the same circles of people who play this charade.  He even ‘razzed’ himself for being part of the process (as a well-compensated public speaker); putting him in a willing role within the charade itself in some ways.  He was very forthright in how easy it is to become an unwitting participant in the process due to the willingness to make a living directly from the proceeds (of the charade).

What I disliked about this book

I couldn’t find anything to dislike about this book. In fact, I will bookmark this author in my archives and make sure to flag any future works he brings forward to the reading public.

Whom would I recommend to read this book

I would recommend this book to anyone, anywhere who is curious or “feels frustrated with the system.” These are the real issues we’re dealing with and that must be addressed honestly in order to heal the problems they cause in society.  This applies not only in America, but also to many other countries around the globe.

Any thoughts?

-A.N.

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A few quick tips for Better Business Travel

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Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailCourtesy of: http://anjet.net

 

Question: How many times have we stumbled off to an early morning business trip – only to realize we are completely unorganized?  Oftentimes, we take a fairly simple process and complicate it by committing the kinds of oversights that we would never tolerate in the office.  Below are a few examples that might sound familiar to us all:

  • The 5-minute shave, shower and shuffle
  • The 4-minute pack ‘n’ push-off
  • The 3-minute coffee – oatmeal – dash (of course, with chin crumbs in tow)

And we aren’t talking about an emergency business trip booked at 2-3 a.m. the morning of, but rather one typically planned 2-3 weeks ahead!

 

So, where does that leave us?  For starters, let’s make this easier by taking a page out of the old book of common sense:

 

(1) Gentlemen:  whenever possible, try to get your shave in the evening prior.  And, if possible, take your shower too.

 

(2) The coffee maker should be set to auto-perk.  It saves a big 5 minutes during crunch time, the aroma both serves as a back-up alarm clock and gets the morning juices flowing.  Oh, and from a safety standpoint, this lessens the chance of a “rush/ spill” – resulting in third degree burns.

 

(3) Last – but never least – pack those bags the night before! If you need professional pointers (though experienced, I am hardly an expert!) on how to pack your clothing wrinkle-free and in good form, then click to: Packing to save space

 

 

Remember: forgetting to do any of the above is no excuse for being delayed or missing that all-important meeting on the other end.  All it takes is a bit of pre-planning the night before.  Isn’t your business worth it?  Of course it is!

 

Oh, and don’t forget to place your airline ticket in a visible spot on top of your luggage.  Don’t bury it inside the luggage where it may inadvertently hide from you under that extra pair of gym shoes you are unlikely to use again until you after you unpack your items upon return home!  Keep it simple, keep it organized and I promise it won’t be nearly the hassle it used to be.

 

And happy travels, Gekko…now go close that deal!

 

-A.N.

 

Another very helpful additional read:

Solo travel ideas (Travel & Leisure mag)

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**NOW PLAYING: The President is Missing – James Patterson & Bill Clinton

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Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailThe President Is Missing

by Bill Clinton & James Patterson, pub. 2018, pp. 513

presidentismissingbook.com

For book info, click FB link

Or, click the Amazon link on to order

 

What I learned from this book

I learned that there are still some horrifying events that can and may occur in our country at any moment in time.  We tend to consume ourselves with ourselves (selfies, smartphones, reality television, etc.).  What we may not do enough of is pay attention to some of the things that threaten to take all of the fun away from us – permanently. One example of this type of catastrophe (spoiler alert #1) is the one examined in the book – the purposeful contamination of a virus meant to cause a complete and total shutdown of all of the things we take for granted but need each day: clean running water supply, electricity from the grid, internet access – as well as too many other conveniences to mention.

In other words, we may find value in gluing ourselves to every personal experience, but none of it will mean anything without continued access to the things we actually need in order to exist each day. This novel could be looked at as a wake-up call for many of us in America.

Most of us think we’re wide awake, but, in fact, we are mostly “asleep at the wheel” when it comes to the prospects of a true, wide-scale crisis.  I suppose it remains to be seen how serious we can ever get about this or any other type of wake-up call.

What I liked about this book

I thought the mention of this book being “fiction” was the most interesting.  I suppose this is so because so much of what the book is about either has, can, is, or may occur in our actual “non-fiction” America.  I imagine this is the beauty of collaboration between arguably one of our best fiction writers and arguably one of our actual former sitting U.S. presidents.

It would be easy to believe that this is all just fun and games – until we examine our current state of global affairs and recognize the looming possibilities all around us.  No, we haven’t yet had (spoiler alert #2 of 2) a sitting president disappear – nor a vice president arrested for espionage – but we have had some interesting events that, if they ever occurred, could end up threatening and/ or ending American democracy as we know it. Only time will tell…

What I disliked about this book

There was very little to dislike about this novel – except for the fact that it appeared to be a much more substantial read (in time and length) than it actually was.  For me, a 500+ pager is usually a pretty “big bite to chew on,” but it read more like a 275-er.  Again, there is nothing to dislike.  I budgeted extra time to read it, but as it turns out, I’m going to need to rush to locate the next one much faster than expected.

Whom would I recommend to read this book

I would recommend this book to anyone (of any age) who wants both a political thrill and a chill simultaneously. Whoever avoids political books due to boredom issues won’t be able to say so after reading this one.  There is a good reason why it has shot up to the top of the best seller list.

Any thoughts?

-A.N.

 

 

 

 

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**NOW PLAYING: Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire…**

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Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History

by Kurt Andersen, pub. 2017, pp. 440

kurtandersen.com

Sneak Peek: For book info, click FB link

 

What I learned from this book

I learned that no matter what your political affiliation, your viewpoint on whether we, as Americans in 2018, are in a good place or a bad one, safe or dangerous – there is in fact a 500-year documented history that we can break down that may assist in explaining it all.  Once we can divide it into smaller, more digestible pieces – perhaps we can then figure out the best way forward.  Only time will tell.

What I liked about this book

I thought the author, Kurt Andersen, was exceptionally honest about his views.  These are volatile topics that Americans have passion about.  They can’t be taken casually “playing it” from both sides.  The good news is Andersen doesn’t try that trick.  He delivers in a forthright, self-deprecating, thorough style while wading through historical explanations of many of America’s “powder keg” topics: religion, race, and, of course, politics.

What I disliked about this book

I pretty much liked everything about this book.  I even found it amazing that the author could discuss 500-year old topics in less than five hundred pages!  This could easily have become a convoluted, wordy “1,000-plusser!”  Fortunately, it did not!

Whom would I recommend to read this book

I would recommend this book to any American citizen who feels befuddled by the current environment in which we are living.  I talk to a lot of people in my daily interactions and I’m amazed at how confused many seem as to “How in the hell did we arrive here?”  I suppose one of the brilliant angles of this book is how the author takes us back to the very beginning of the European-American settlement in the U.S.A. Then, he methodically lays out how and why it took that long to get us to where we are today.  It took a variety of religious beliefs, plenty of economic and political maneuvering, and, yes, of course, heaping amounts of…well, fantasy.

Any thoughts?

-A.N.

 

 

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*NOW!!* Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism?

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Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailCan Democracy Survive Global Capitalism?

-by Robert Kuttner, pub. April, 2018, pp. 309

www.robertkuttner.com

Sneak Peek: For book info, click FB link

What I learned from this book

This book is a phenomenal examination of the myriad “ingredients” combining over decades to endanger democracy as we know it.  They run the gamut, from social to cultural to, of course, political.  More importantly, as Kuttner explains in graphic detail, we must never forget the economic reasons that have consistently “stirred the pot”; both at home in the U.S. and in democracies abroad.

It was nice to see the author lay out the “global plan” that began decades ago – but now poses the gravest threat since the World War II era.  This was never something could have happened overnight.  The author drives home that if we don’t pay close attention to how and why this is happening – and demand change – there is no limit to where this could lead us as an international community.

What I liked about this book

I liked the way that the author “spread the blame fairly” in this work.  It would have been quite easy for him to pick a side and push the agenda.  However, he took a 360-degree view of the situation, applied factual evidence and real-world events, and made sure he pointed out the: who, what, when, where, why and how of it all took and continues to takes place.  I really enjoyed his reader-friendly writing style and attention to detail.

What I disliked about this book

Nothing. In fact, because of its authenticity, I am proud to say that I am of the opinion that there are no major flaws in this book.  It is right on the money and written at the perfect time.

Whom would I recommend to read this book

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn the truth as to how and why our democracy became under siege.  Like it or not, it definitely matters to us all, because no matter whether you consider yourself a globalist or a nativist, we all will live with the consequences of our choices on every level.  Hindsight, per norm, will make it easy to glance back to, or, “armchair quarterback” what we should have done better in 2018.  But the fact of the matter is those of us elected to leadership positions – who, by the way, took an oath to protect us all – seem to be the ones who are currently most comfortable with sitting back, enjoying their vacations, and just seeing where the show lets us out.  Sure, it’s an easy way to deal with it, but this may be the precise reason why our democracy ultimately fails after 240-plus years.

Any thoughts?

-A.N.

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**Sneak Peek: Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism – by Robert Kuttner

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Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailSneak peek: Robert Kuttner pens an outstanding, comprehensive and in-depth examination of the confluence of events that have combined to pose a grave threat to the future of democracy – and with it all of the freedoms we have become accustomed to enjoying in our lives.

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