Monday, November 24, 2014

More catch up Part 2 Mrs Astor Regrets

"Mrs Astor Regrets" The Hidden Betrayals of a Family Beyond Reproach, by  author Meryl Gordon is fantastic.  What a great find for only 99 cents at the Goodwill Store.  I read this months ago and relished it, perhaps because recently Brooke Astor made the news again while her  89 year old son, anthony M Marshall, was  discharged from  his prison sentence  for abusing Mrs. Astor financially and otherwise by denying her  certain comforts. .  It is a tale of woe evidencing that the very rich are also plagued by greed and all sorts of family trials...In 2000 Brooke Astor, wealthy philanthropist, glamorous socialite, widow of Vincent Astor was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  Somehow  with the best care money could buy she was able to continue on. She lived to be 105 and died in 2007.  

 Because I grew up back east and was familiar with old money families from tales I was intrigued by her life and this book covers all of that, the Oscar de la Renta's, the Rockefellers, Louis Auchincloss, the Kissingers, all the rich and famous and then some weave in and out of the memoir.  Brooke was more than a strong character; she was  demanding,  an old biddy, someone who insisted being in control well beyond when she could be, and yet very  generous financially to her pet to causes.  Her  best friend was the far  younger, Annette de la Renta,  who would try to rescue and defend the  aged matriarch from the grip of the evil son, Tony Marshall Brooke's child from her first marriage to Dryden Kuser who  became an alcoholic and whom she would divorce in 1930 in Reno.  Her second marriage to  Charles Marshall, from whom her son took his name, was successful and is commented on by Nancy Reagan as the love of Brooke's life but he died suddenly at only 50.  Six months later in November 1952 Brooke married Vincent Astor, son of the John Jacob Astors who perished  on the Titanic. Vincent who was moody and possessive but rich beyond statement died  5 1/2 years after they married, leaving her the famous surname and a trust fund of more than $60 million.  Luxury became hers for life.  She took that storied name and  rebranded the Astor image to respect and glamour; she renovated the Astor Foundation and made it worthy of great pride.  Meantime her son, Tony cowered always overshadowed by the strong dominant personality of his mother.  He was enabled by her and dependent, achieving little in life on his own.  At one point Brooke admits that she  ruined him by indulging him and allowing him to not be accountable, bailing him out financially and not allowing him to grow up.  I am surprised this has not become a bigger best seller because it is a sweeping saga of  big time money and could challenge trite soap operas that dominate television like  the Dallas series.  .

 The book references to how she maintained the image of elegance, always made up and dressed to the  9's of perfection to which she said particularly on charitable visits and events, "People expect to see Mrs. Astor and I shall not disappoint them."  She was easily bored with people and rotated friends in and out of her circle often on whim.  Still she was victim to the greed of her son, peculiar in itself as he was her only child and heir.  Speculation is that  perhaps his  wife urged him on out of her own greed, but  he  had to agree.  Brooke's tale is enriched and yet heartbreaking to  learn that at the end, this wealthy woman was so restricted.  It's paperback only 285 pages.  An excellent investigative report and memoir by the author, Meryl Gordon. 

On Page 229,  "Discipline" a poem written by Brooke paints an overview of her tragic life,
 I am old and I have had
more than my share of good and bad.
I've had love and sorrow, seen sudden death,
and been left alone and of love bereft.
I thought I would never love again
and I thought my life was grief and pain.
The edge between life and death was thin,
but then I discovered discipline.
I learned to smile when I felt sad,
I learned to take the good and the bad.
I learned  to care a great deal more
for the world about me than before.
I began to forget the "Me" and "I"
and jpoined in life as it rolled by:
This may not mean sheer ecstasy
but it is better by far than "I" and "Me"

Back cover
I give this 5 *****  Pick it up if you want to read about the lives of the truly rich and famous, a saga

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Catchup of books read Part 1

It's not that I have  not been reading, it's that I have little time to spend at keyboard.  Consequently I have accumulated quite the stack of books I have read since my last post.  These will be  rather abbreviated reviews while I clear the stacks for donations.

  Last read, first listed, the  one I just completed the other evening, "Killing Patton"  by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard. I admired the other Killing books by these two and because this is based on the famous General whom history shows may have been the most apolitical but the most patriotic of World War II, I knew I would want to read this.  I thought I might wait a while but couldn't resist dropping it into my cart as soon as it was released as I was in Sam's that day.  I verified some of the detail maps with historic information I inherited from my late Uncle Carl, particularly the maps as I had several from Uncle Carl who served with Patton part of the time.  Carl was  in the tank destroyers and also in a headquarters company so had access to lots of information which he gathered and saved.  I retain a keen interest in all things written about World War II as well and that may be why I was not overly impressed with this latest in the Killing books.  Yes the research is impeccable, but I felt this was partly about Patton and partly with other historical information and anecdotes, tales of Hitler, Stalin, Truman and more.Most of that miscellany information I read over and again in other more detailed books about that era and those individuals.  I did not  need to repeat read it here.  But then the book would have been about half it's 331 pages including the appendix.    Probably because I have  read so much else of this era,I should not have expected new information, but as usual in O'Reilly's books I learned a couple new tidbits, more about Patton's talks to his troops and more about his passions and discipline and his depth readings of Caesar including Gallic Wars which I  remember reading in my 4th year of high school Latin classes.  (Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres....I can still recite the opening paragraphs that we memorized way back then)  It  left me with multiple unanswered questions, what really did happen to General Patton in the fatal auto accident?  How much was cover up and deliberate sabotage?  I barely recall  hearing about it as a child but knew of the speculation.  There are no answers in this book which just raises the same questions that will be unanswered, was it the CIA, was it the Russians condoned by the CIA, was it from Ike's and or Truman's  disinterest or dislike of Patton or was it just the way it was?  .I give it only 4 ****.

 Another patriotic and perhaps political military expose "American Spartan" by Ann Scott Tyson is an excellent read  which raises speculation about today's tragically politicized military efforts.  This true documentation about Special Forces Major Jim Gant, hailed by some as a leader who could have really facilitated US victory in Afghanistan is written by an investigative reporter who becomes his wife.  While it is  positively complimentary about General David Petraeus, it raises serious question about the liberal bias that has reached from Academia to the halls and graduates of West Point and further demonstrates that watch your back must be the operative slogan of successful officers.  Major Jim Gant is a warriors warrior, and was always with his men, dubbed "Lawrence of Afghanistan" he befriended the Pashtan tribesmen, and became trusted by adopting their lifestyle while in the hills, mountains and caves of Afghanistan. 

 I learned a lot about that country and its history.  This is a well documented book and I would expect no less from  the reporter who engages with the major and then marries him.  My impression is that Gant surely had his personal demons, alcohol for one, as he drank about a 1/5th of booze a day in Iraq, but he certainly deserved better treatment than he received in the end from the US Army. His 2009  published brilliant strategy in his whitepaper, "One Tribe at a Time" went viral in DC and especially at the Pentagon catching the attention of many including General Petraeus who will ultimately be able to allow Jim to proceed only to be ultimately over ruled.  Pg. 60, "Afghanistan was still the Wild Wild West....Afghanistan, he had discovered as a 35 year old Army captain, was a nation of ancient warring tribes.  The largest tribe was the Pashtuns who make up about 40% of Afghanistan's population and inhabit the east and the south...."

When a West Point punk more interested in brown nosing than his own country  can instigate a means to undo the dedication and eradicate the thousands of strong steps forward proven by an officer like Gant, there is something dreadfully wrong with the military.  Likely that wrong reflects back to none other than Obama, the loser commander in chief foisted onto this nation whom I believe has a hatred of our military and seeks to descimate it. That's the political showing, although the book does not make that allegation, a discernable reader with perception and knowledge can derive their own conclusion.  I was curious about the reference to the Spartans but learned that Major Gant was also an astute student of military history and  admired the Spartans.  Pg. 100, "Jim's expectation, he said, was for his men to fight and show bravery together with the same warrior ethos that defined the Spartans.  He showed them the Greek letter, lambda he had tattooed on his left forearm shortly  before they left Ft. Bragg.  The lambda stood for Laconia, the Spartan homeland in ancient Greece and appeared on the shields that Spartan warriors wielded in an impenetrable phalanx.Together they were invincible he told them....The team later adopted the call sign, "Spartan", several. got labda tattoos identical to Jim's on their left forearms,,," 

Near the end pg. 232-233 when Jim is wrestling with the idea of arming insurgents in Kawer or the  Mangwel arbakai, their local police who are notoriously corrupt, a fact  which  is meaningless to Afghans.  They simply  accept  and believe that's the way it is and live with and around  betrayal and with hearty distrust.  Most revealing was the reference to arming Taliban and who was or was not Taliban, what the term means in that part of the world is extremely  different than what  average Americans understand based the media. It is revealing to read this documentation from people who were there and know what they say and this will be valuable knowledge to understand why we have a mess on our hands.

A most compelling read and one I avoided at first, but Jerry read it avidly and recommended I do so.  I am glad I did.  I learned as much from this as from the Pirates of Somalia about an alien tribal culture.  Gants techniques with acclimating into the tribal peoples and gaining their respect and acceptance are reminiscent of serious attempts to befriend villagers in  Vietnam, another strategy doomed to fail when the politicians over rode military tactics.    

I give this book 5 ***** nd recommend it to those who are willing to learn.  It is harsh in parts, bloody and not casual nor light reading.  The verdict of Major Gant's actions may be at odds with my personal beliefs and feelings; I am not surprised this book did not make those best seller's lists. It demonstrates the lack of wisdom by relying solely on information from the media.... 

The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt is a most serious tome of 771 pages that has been on the  best sellers lists and one I would not have bothered to read.  But a friend sent it to me saying she thought it was the worst book she had ever read.  She wanted my opinion and  after plowing through it, I disagreed fully with her assessment.  It is a tale of a boy and later the man who makes his way from  the most dysfunctional childhood to the upper levels of eastern society while holding onto a horrid secret and  working  to learn the trade of refurbishing antiques.  I had read somewhere that the author writes ala Charles Dickens and I concur. I have been a lifelong fan of Dickens since  I first read his works in school,  The in depth characters, the serious dysfunctions, the main protagonist who is not always on the side of the angels, the twists and the mystery are not something that can routinely be so successfully achieved as is done with The Goldfinch.  

The book begins and ends in Amsterdam.  It is philosophical in  parts and cynical in others. I  thought the first part up until the death of his alcoholic deceitful father about page 339, was not quite as intriguing as the latter part.  But then I tire reading of dysfunctional alcoholics and their problems as well as those they cause for others.  The information about refurbishing antiques and the tricks and artistry to fake them was revealing.  Among many well written thoughts, pg. 757..."corrosive to the soul...Idolatry.  Caring too much for objects can destroy you."   pg 509..."all that blind infantile hunger to save and be repeat the past and make it different.." pg. 758..."coincidence is just God's way of remaining anonymous."  Pg 760..."beauty alters the grain of reality....pursuit of beauty is a has to be wedded to something more meaningful...." and  last page 761,  "We don't get to choose the people we are..."  an acquiescence to fate?  I had not heard of this author but with the depth of this writing I can understand why she  has written very few works.  This had to take inordinate research and  deep thought to produce.  I can see this as a great panoramic movie which would detract immensely as  so very much would be condensed away.   Because of the mystery, the twists, the characters, I give this work of fiction 5 *****.

And those are but  3 that I hae had time to describe today,,,lots more later..

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Asleep by Molly Caldwell Crosby

Because I enjoyed her "Great Pearl Heist" and I prefer nonfiction I wanted to read another of her books.  Asleep showed up on recommendations for me based on my preferences and I read this in March 2014.  I was not disappointed although it is different than the Pearl Heist, it is intriguing and an account of the 1918--1927 sleeping illness plague that  became the forgotten world wide epidemic.  I had not known nor read of this before so found the account fascinating. Published in March 2010 by Berkley it is only 229 pages but reading on various case studies world wide of those who have this sleeping sickness, some die, some survive and some are confined to institutions.  Doctors still do not know what causes this condition diagnosed as encephalitis lethargica.  

Pages 11--16 begin with detail of the brain study  presented  at Vienna Psychiatric Society by Dr. Von Economo whose theory would be considered and 70 years went by  before "advanced medicine" proved his theory correct.  Dr. Cruchet a French physician and pathologist met with an unknown soldier from the battle of Verdun and was struck by unusual symptoms which he wondered might have been after effects of mustard gas or another chemical weapon.  Cruchet would go on to see 64 more similar cases , some with fever, some without, most had headache and nausea, strangest of all to him was the excessive amount of tine all these soldiers spent sleeping.  The soldiers were not comatose but simply asleep.    Pg 19,  in 1918  doctors were preoccupied with the  epidemic of influenza worldwide which would kill between 20-100 million worldwide.  The sleeping sickness had to take  a backseat to medicine's research into  curing the influenza that swept the globe.  Pg 25 details how the symptoms began to change as the  sleeping sickness spread.  The history of medicine documented through this work is a good reference to the times of that era and mentions that in the 1920's  the decade of rapid technological changes  began. (pg. 84).  Josephine B Neal was a bacteriologist and neurologist who led the Matheson Commission.  She was  born and raised in Maine she had  been a school teacher but applied for medical school.  (Pages 162--165)  She was considered an expert on polio and  was one of the first people to be injected with the anti polio vaccine in New York in 1934, the results of the trials were kept out of the media and the vaccine campaign stopped until renewed in the 1950's by Dr. Jonas Salk. Chapter 19  details Josephine's pioneering involvement as a woman in medical research  in New York where she lived. 

The sleeping epidemic diminished but the book leaves one wondering if it might not return with different symptoms.  I give this book a 5 ***** and will share it with a friend who spent a career at the bench in medical research.  I will be interested in her comments.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tisha BY/as told to Robert Specht

Tisha is the true adventure love story  of Anne Hobbs, who at 19 years of age in 1927 ventures to Alaska to teach school.  It is her memoir as told to Robert Specht.  After we spent weeks in Alaska last year I have a very deep appreciation of it's natives and history and cannot read enough about it.  I was browsing in the Goodwill book section and had a conversation with another woman who is also a self confessed reader junkie, she spotted this book, paperback, published by Bantam Books in March 1977 on the very low priced bargain shelf and handed it to me declaring it one of the best books she had ever read.  I had told her I am fond of history and memoirs and prefer non-fiction.  I recognized this book from our Alaskan trip as one I considered buying  while there but did not because I had a box full already to ship home.  I snatched it up.  At  first I thought Tisha was an Indian name but learned it was the way the Alaskan Indians pronounced "teacher" and the name that stuck with her.  

The first sentence transported me immediately to the wild country of Alaska and  this frontier, places we visited that  preserve the same structures as the  gold rush times and before--Eagle,  Chicken, Dawson, deep Yukon territory and the vastness of the land  and reawakened  my appreciation for those who ventured there way back then.  Anne begins,  "I have lived in the Forty Mile country of Alaska for a long time, but even now, every so often when I'm out rock-hunting or looking for fossils< I get lost."  It was not an easy life and had Anne not been venturous and head strong she would not have made it and lived to tell, it was not a time for timid or weak people but for survivors.  It begins September 4, 1927, "Even though it was barely eight o'clock and the sun had just  come up, practically the whole crew of Eagle had turned out to see the pack train off.  ...Mrs Rooney tells Ann, One thing you'll learn  is that it doesn't take much to collect a crowd in Alaska..."   

It's only 342 pages but likely out of print now, although it is a current seller in Alaskan bookstores and the Yukon territory today,   I agree that the book is wonderful and give it 5 *****.  It's a keeper. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

another catch up Confessions of a Wall Street Analyst by Dab Reingold

I read this in March and passed my copy along to our local investment broker.  It was outstanding, enlightening, and somewhat technical in parts.  Part history and part emoir.  .  Published in 2006, Hardback by Harper Collins, 315 pages followed by notes and references.   I  spend time watching our various investments and always have my eye out for a good stock tip.  I have been suckered but once by purchasing United American Petroleum, a wild cat oil drilling operation and fortunately did not loose that much; I  keep that stock today which I call my casino stock, for it was my gamble at which I lost, as a reminder that I am not so smart, regardless of research and   after reading Dan's enlightening memoir about his time as an idealist analyst on Wall Street, I was affirmed.  The small time  investor simply is not able to compete or be as aware as the biggees, so since  one cannot run with the big dogs best to stay on the porch.  We have 2 investment brokers both of whom have done well for us and now I will be content to follow their advice and watch our  various funds grow.   

Most of this occurs during the big days when the dot coms were rising and  greed was  in for the long haul on Wall Street.  Dan enters as a new  analyst recruited for his technical skills with statistics and  ability to model  metrics; while he attempts to remain a purist, not mixing with the marketing sectors of the firms where he is employed as the going gets going it becomes rougher.   He describes what "going over the wall means" in the investment Street lingo, that's when the analysts are engaged to hear marketing and insider information which if they are ethical they must ignore or recuse themselves from commenting  or analyzing the potential of that particular stock.  Dan does this ethical dilemma  straight line to his detriment.  

My tough career in state government which gave me many promotions to higher management and left me many sleepless nights pales in comparison to life on "The Street".  When I read about his real 24/7  always on the clock and flying  from time zone to time zone non stop I knew what weary really meant.  Somehow I could absolutely relate to his perhaps naivete and idealism, been there.    The strategy of stock prices on earnings day was something I had suspected.  Dan  pulls no punches especially when describing his chief rival, Jack Grubman who was the hot shot amongst the analysts but as tainted as they come.  How the firms lure the analysts or try to en mass and how those who move along are able to bring their teams with them was an eye opener.  1997 was the watershed year for the  telecom industry and analysts with the baby bells  doubling annually and growing the internet industries by 1000%,  (Pg 152) and  (Page 103)   How the internet affected  protocols and the entire telecommunications industry is  interesting history now. (pg 100.)  2001 is described as  a year of insatiable desire for bullish commentary by investors.  

Dan's altruism gets severe knocks as he learns, "it's not what you knpw but who you know."  (Pg 205) The IPO's in these early days were rift with insider games, something he finds hard to accept, but when he questions his arch rival Jack Grubman he is blown off with  the responses that " public  IPO investors are playing in a rigged game, suckers."    

(Pages 18-189) The greed and arrogance is certainly  rough to digest as well as hearing that institutional investors are preferred  over retail brokers representing individuals.  Fidelity is one big institutional that is always  ahead of the game which is  great for bigger Fidelity  clientele.  I really was intrigued as well as alarmed.  I remember the MCI fiasco and the Bernie Ebbers trial well.  He was a real small guy, who became one of the greediest men; he might have lived quite well had not he  been so consumed with greed which fed his arrogance as lived the good life.  This is covered through out the book as well as pages 2-3 of the prologue.  In one year April 2003, World.cpm had amassed $11 billion in fraud.  Those numbers are unfathomable.   (Page 271 & on)    Dan ultimately retires  teaches for a time and closes by saying "I came in as an idealist and left a cynic."  I can say the same for my governmental career so I related to much of his eye opening heart breaking experiences.  

This is a 5 *****.  It  may be too technical for some and although it sat on my shelf for a year  or more I am pleased that I finally read it.   Not for the faint hearted nor for the light reader who only wants entertainment.   

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ratings and little commentary catch up

I have managed to  read a few books all good but not keep up with posting to this blog.  As  place holders because I am donating all three to the  book sales, here are two books I read in April & May:  

Published as a trade paperback by Bantam Books in 2013, 434 pages, a historical novel biography; told from the research on Anne Morrow Lindbergh as though from her eyes and voice,  it reveals her life and  her marriage to Charles.  Excellent reading as I have read much about and by the Lindbergh's. This is the first book by author Melanie Benjamin that I have read.  I would  read more. 

 Page 50, "I turned even more hungrily than usual to my diary.  I had always been like this; only able to recognize my world by reassembling it on the page."  

Page 52, " But what's it all about?...What's it all for?  We get married,  ..That's what it's all for.  We marry equally bright promising young men from Princeton or Cornwall or Harvard or Yale.  We collect silver and china.  .....Meanwhile we play tennis and golf and try to keep our figures and our sanity."   5 *****

Published 2009, St Martin's Press, hardback, 309 pages of a delightful mystery  with  the antics of Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter, investigator and the  great characters of this genre, including Diesel, Detective Morelli,  her grandma, her  mother, her sidekick Lula, and others.  It's a fast read this one about the New Jersey Devil, some magic, space shifters.  Picked it up at a sale and it is a very easy read.  Comical in parts to laugh out loud funny as well as not guessing where the villain will turn up.  Funniest part when one of her catches goes off to get married and leaves her monkey on Stephanie's door step to care for while she is on her honeymoon.  Another  amusing mystery by best selling  author Janet Evanovich.  5 *****

Saturday, March 22, 2014

No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin

This historical work of 636 pages,  along with 72 pages of notes, a bibliography of 13 pages and a 28 page index is a monumental work that consumed my attention and  kept me reading all through the cold winter month of January.  I have been interested in the Roosevelt's  ever since I can remember. I have read other books about them and the era,  including "Too Close to the Sun"  by grandson Curtis, but  wanted a factual work devoted to FDR and Eleanor.  Since  McCullough has not written on them I searched to find a notable author and struck gold with this work. .  Doris Goodwin delivers  depth, detail, historical fact within  a treasured reading experience of biography about this historical time of our country, evidenced by the Pulitzer prize awarded her for history.  This book was right up my alley and will remain a keeper in my personal library.  First published back in 1994 it is a timeless reading experience. 

See my review on this blog of Too Close tot he Sun"

"No Ordinary Time" takes its title from the inauguration of FDR and a phrase Eleanor used.  It hones in a specific era,  the home front of our country immediately before  World War II  up to the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) as  chapter by chapter unfolds the personalities, ideals, intents and  guile of the two main characters, FDR and Eleanor.  Accompanying this in an excellent narrative of the attitudes of the population of this country, the influence of Stalin and Churchill and the WWII era with historical perspectives and analysis that contribute to understanding how the country elected FDR so many times.  It has taken me too long to post it here to my reading blog but reflecting I still savor its reading.

 Although FDR is known as the father of the New Deal, an initiator of socialist programs
Back cover
especially urged by Eleanor, his human side and weaknesses are fully explored.  His  relationship with his mother, Sara, who adored her only child and controlled their lives until she died  is fascinating.  His affair with Lucy Mercer Rutherford, that impact on his marriage. and the later complicity of his and Eleanor's  daughter, Alice, with later time spent with Lucy in his final days paints a not so devout picture of him.  After reading all this I wonder  today how he would fare under the guise of media, surely he would have been adored but how venomous would the political attacks be?  Was he simply brought up to not demonstrate emotion and there by unable to provide warmth and support to relationships, turning his back on those who could no longer give him the adoration and attention he wanted.  His personal assistant, Missy Le Hand who  suffers strokes after devoting her life to  his needs is but one significant victim of his aloofness or inability to offer comfort.  FDR is shown to be a rather needy person who revels in the company of people while Eleanor is the opposite.  He always wanted someone at hand even if ey simply sat and  watched him work on his stamp collection.  
 Eleanor is another distinct case study in personality without answers, was she simply crushed by her husband's  affair so that she could never again allow herself to be set up for hurt?  Was she really a lesbian or did she simply enjoy the company of intellectual women? It is fascinating from all perspectives.  She certainly was above all else, curious, committed to her ideas and generous with others.  Her almost comical pursuit of information for FDR as she  was his eyes and ears around the country is a source of political cartoons such as her descent into a coal mine to see conditions for herself, captioned by "Here comes Mrs. Roosevelt."  Eleanor was a very intriguing multi faceted person.  

Although I  wrote eight pages of notes to the book, I will not go into that depth here.  Suffice it to be a first class 5 star ***** read, a keeper, excellent scholarly historical non fiction.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

The Round House  by Louise Erdrich, a Minnesota author sounded interesting but tragic; published in 2012 by Harper Collins, 321 pages.   It relates the tale of  brutality and hardship, beginning innocently in 1988 as a boy and his father wait for mom/wife to return home in North Dakota on an Indian reservation.  The brutal attack of a Native woman weaves the tale.  This prolific MN  author is a member of the Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa and has written many books, articles and poetry.  

 I was disappointed in this  book and regretted that I had purchased a hard copy although it was not available in paperback.  I will be donating it to our local Library where it will either make the shelves or be passed along for the book sale. Perhaps it is the brutality and rawness that bothered me as much as some overly descriptive narrative.  The characters are very well developed and do seem all lifelike although complicated depicting difficult lives where the Ojibwe Indians and white men live together very tentatively.  

It begins, "Small trees had attacked my parents' house at the foundation.  They were just seedlings with one or two rigid healthy leaves.  Nevertheless the stalky shoots had managed to squeeze through knife cracks in the decorative brown shingles covering the cement blocks."  The writing ranges from good to adequate as the tale is told through Joe, the 13 year old son of Geraldine and Bazil Couts; Geraldine is brutally attacked and Joe tries to heal his mother but the entire family is consumed by the act.  Bazil is a tribal judge, respected but cannot attain justice for his wife. The complications of government bureaucracy and the intersection of Native rites, police investigations and conflicts between civil and Native governance  all build on the tragedy and complicate any resolution.  

Sometimes I felt there was too much detail information about the antics of Joe and his friends such as on pages 67-68 when the boys are at the Round House searching for evidence; it read almost as thought the author  tried to compensate for being female by overdoing the descriptions of the boys in their nakedness to create an over done authentic emphasis.  Another  example of the overly detailed style was on pages 106-108 when the boys are confronting and  stalking the local priest, Father Travis.      

There is interesting information about the  difficulties of tribal life, the assimilation that all but eliminates Native culture and the hard times on the reservation.  

Pg. 193 sums up the transformation in Geraldine post attack as felt by her son.  "Her voice was neutral, formal neither caustic nor falsely enthusiastic.  I'd thought she  was the same mother only with a hollow face,......I had believed that my real mother would emerge at some point.  I would get my before mom back.  But now it entered my head that this might not happen.  .....Some warm part of her was gone and might not return.  This new formidable woman would take getting to know and I was 13.  I didn't have the time.".   

 I give it a  3 stars out of 5 and read it in a week in January but am just now posting my review.