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review 2019-06-13 20:18
The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 5: 1959-1960
The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 5: 1959-1960 - Whoopi Goldberg,Charles M. Schulz

In these years Schulz really gains a lot of confidence and the experimental tweaking of gags and characters begin to truly pay off. There are some great debuts in this collection, but the craftsmanship of the strips is evident even in the strips that, at first glance, could have appeared in any of his late '50s strips.

 

I love sharing my favorite strips, but its a little labor intensive, so from now on I'll skip it unless the spirit moves me. (le sigh).

 

Debuts! I can't believe it took over eight years for Schulz to give Lucy her Psychiatric Help booth (the rate was 5 cents even then)! Linus simply can't get a break, on top of Snoopy's continued depredation, his grandmother confiscates his blanket for the first time, and he has his faith tested by the Great Pumpkin.

 

Of course, the biggest change is the introduction of Sally. We hear about her being born and, much like toddler Lucy and baby Linus, quickly grows up.

 

The original Patty doesn't get much love, even though she was one of the original three Peanuts characters. I remember reading a reference that Schulz got tired of drawing her tartan dress. I'm glad she got the cover at least once.

 

Complete Peanuts

 

Next: 'Volume Six: 1961-1962'

 

Previous: 'Volume Four: 1957-1958'

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review 2019-03-26 02:05
LAUNCHING LBJ: How a Kennedy Insider Helped Define Johnson's Presidency
Launching LBJ: How a Kennedy Insider Helped Define Johnson's Presidency - Helen O'Donnell

Using a wealth of information from both written and oral histories from a variety of people who had served in the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson - including her deceased father Kenny O'Donnell who had served as President Kennedy's Chief of Staff - Helen O'Donnell has written a compelling story of the role her father played in helping LBJ secure himself in his role as President between November 22, 1963 and November 3, 1964. 

Indeed, the best selling point about "LAUNCHING LBJ: How a Kennedy Insider Helped Define Johnson's Presidency" is that it reads like a fine political thriller. The only difference here is that the story described therein of a nation struggling through a painful transition between the assassination of a beloved, martyred President and the blossoming of a new administration ---whose President assumed the Kennedy mantle by taking up and ensuring the passage into law between 1963 and 1965 of JFK's unfinished legislative agenda, while at the same time establishing his own unique brand of leadership --- was true.

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review 2019-02-23 10:18
Lonesome Wooster
Jeeves in the Offing (Jeeves, #12) - P.G. Wodehouse

This slim volume was first published in 1960 and appears three quarters of the way down the lengthy list of Wodehouse novels featuring the inestimable Jeeves. In fact, in this episode the celebrated gentleman’s valet quickly departs for a holiday in Herne Bay, Kent and helps decide Bertie Wooster to accept a summons to his Aunt Dahlia’s ‘rural lair’. Ordinarily one of the highlights of the series is the interplay between the two main characters, however, with Jeeves absent for most of the tale, Bertie is without his customary foil, which at times feels like just half of a double act. The plot works though and the other characters aid the comic moments, but Bertie, unprotected by the attentive Jeeves, does feel somehow incomplete.


While her husband (Uncle Tom) has gone away to schmooze a wealthy business partner and get an important deal over the line, Aunt Dahlia must host the other abandoned spouse (Mrs Cream) and her son (Wilbert), ensuring that nothing is done to jeopardise the deal from afar. Joining the group for the weekend at ‘Brinkley’ is Lady Wickham’s daughter (Roberta), whose reputation as a prankster precedes her; Aubrey Upjohn, former headmaster at Wooster’s preparatory school; and Upjohn’s stepdaughter (Phyllis). But for Jeeves absence, Bertie would have avoided such a toxic brew, but consoled by his journalist friend, ‘Kipper’ Herring and reminded that at least the party would enjoy the delights of Chef Anatole’s kitchen, he relents. Still, ahead of his departure, Bertie gets a call from a distraught Lady Wickham, who has discovered in ‘The Times’ the announcement of her daughter’s engagement to Bertie. Intriguingly this is also news to Bertie. Yet, since his former proposals of marriage to Bobby Wickham were so unceremoniously rejected, Bertie rightly deduces that a game is afoot.
As usual, the rather pleasant-but-dim Bertie is cast as an important cog in the machinations of others, in which he is destined to be the weak link. The final outcome, of course, being the culmination of unintended consequences and a belated intervention by Jeeves.


Poking fun at the aristocratic classes, masterfully manipulated by their intellectual superior in Jeeves, remains a rich seam, well mined by Wodehouse. However, it is the interplay between beloved characters, the past era of gentry and intricate plotting, which the author satirizes so mercilessly. For the reader, this familiar though ridiculous portrayal of a bygone age remains a glorious example of English farce.

 

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review 2019-01-14 22:16
ELIZABETH WARREN: THE PEOPLE'S ADVOCATE & CHAMPION
Elizabeth Warren: Her Fight. Her Work. Her Life. - Antonia Felix

This is a biography of one of the most remarkable political leaders in the United States to emerge in the past decade.

 

Elizabeth Warren, born into a working class family in Oklahoma, is the embodiment of what has come to be known as the American Dream. By dint of sheer hard work and scholarship, she earned a university degree and a law degree, all while raising a family. She went on to teach law at Rutgers University, the University of Houston, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1995 was offered a position to teach law at Harvard, where she went on to become a tenured professor.

I first became aware of Elizabeth Warren in 2011 when her work in the establishment of what became the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was highlighted by President Obama's naming of Richard Cordray to head that bureau. I was impressed with her knowledge of consumer and economic issues and when she decided to challenge in 2012 the Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) for the Senate seat previously held by Ted Kennedy and John Fitzgerald Kennedy, my interest in her began to grow. 

Antonia Felix has done a wonderful job through this biography in making real the manner of person Elizabeth Warren is. Unlike a significant number of politicians on Capitol Hill today who came into elective office (many of them from privileged backgrounds) to derive some benefits for themselves by currying favor with the corporate lobbies that have an inordinate and excessive influence in the shaping of legislation relating to policies and practices in the marketplace, Elizabeth Warren won election in 2012 to the Senate as an outsider willing to work on the inside for the public interest. She has proven to be the real deal. She's got grit, spunk, compassion, and saavy to get things done. And now that she has declared herself a candidate from the Democratic Party for President of the United States in 2020, I am hopeful that Elizabeth Warren will prevail against her detractors and critics, while inspiring millions across the nation to support her campaign and make it successful.

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review 2017-06-03 02:57
JFK's EPOCHAL 5-YEAR QUEST FOR THE PRESIDENCY
The Road to Camelot: Inside JFK’s Five-Year Campaign - Thomas Oliphant,Curtis Wilkie

This magisterial, ambitious book traces, in considerable detail, the path John F. Kennedy undertook in his quest for the Presidency between 1955 and 1960.

From the time Kennedy first ran for Congress in 1946, he faced many challenges - both professionally and personally (given the periodic precariousness of his health, which remained largely a secret during his lifetime) - in forging a career in public service. "THE ROAD TO CAMELOT" shows the reader how it was that Kennedy in 1955 (by then a freshman Senator) with the assistance of one of his top aides (Ted Sorenson), a dedicated 'band of brothers' who had played a significant and invaluable role in helping Kennedy further his career (i.e. the 'Irish Mafia', which consisted of Kenny O'Donnell, Lawrence O'Brien, Dave Powers, and Dick Donahue), his brother Robert, and several key Democrats (many of them on the state level) who recognized Kennedy's potential and devoted themselves to him - began the long and laborious task of capitalizing on the national prominence he received from his failed attempt to win the vice presidential slot on the Adlai Stevenson ticket at the 1956 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

What is significant is that Kennedy started campaigning across the country in a rather understated way considerably earlier than any of his potential rivals in the Democratic Party. Indeed, the party leadership underestimated Kennedy as did many others. His youth, Catholicism, and his lack of any significant, legislative achievements were regarded as factors that would discount him as a viable presidential candidate. What also struck me as truly remarkable and incredible is the organization that Kennedy and his supporters were able to develop in many of the states (often as a way of bypassing some of the state Democratic Party machines that were either mildly non-receptive or openly opposed to his candidacy) between 1957 and 1960. In the process, future presidential campaigns would never be the same again. For that reason, "THE ROAD TO CAMELOT" is a book that everyone should read who wants to learn how it was that John F. Kennedy overcame many obstacles and defied the odds to secure the Democratic presidential nomination and be elected President in 1960.

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