Thursday, September 17, 2015

Some Non Fiction Reviews

As many of you might have noticed; I normally do not read non-fiction, as I prefer to be entertained and not have too much serious stuff on my mind.  But lately I have come across some rather interesting, enlightening, & uplifting non-fiction......  Those I will share with you today!

Frida Kahlo 1907-1954: Pain and Passion: Andrea Kettenmann
♥ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

"This book was printed on 100% chlorine-free bleached paper in accordance with TCF standard"

A lovely book on the life & art of Frida Kahlo. There are many many color reproductions of her art work and photos from her estate for a total of 93 illustrations.

Contents include:

"Peg-Leg Frida" - a Rebellious Girl
The Delicate Dove and the Fat Frog
A Mexican Artist in "Gringolandia"
Despair and Success
"These Surgeons Sons of Bitches"
"I Hope the Exit is Joyful..."
Frida Kahlo 1907-1954: Life and Work
List of Illustrations

My favorite piece is the Frontpiece photo of Frida, circa 1939 by Nickolas Muray, Rochester, NY

The Great Train Robbery: Michael Crichton (Based upon an actual event & real people)
★ ★ ★ ★

This is an excellent story as well as a compelling read.....  I realize I marked it down one star (from 5 to 4), because of the excessive unnecessary historical background used as filler....  I felt as Crichton was trying to prove that although he was writing a work of (historical) fiction based on an actual occurrence, that it was indeed historical and made up of facts....  Blah, blah, blah, blah, needless to say I skipped a bit of the run on paragraphs; the ones that I felt had no bearing (importance) on the story.

I liked the main character...  Edward Pierce, a very intelligent & enterprising man.....

In  May 1855, Edward Pierce, with the help of several others, robbed the secure safe aboard the Southern Eastern Railway (bound for France) of the Crimean War Payroll of £12,000 gold bullion.  The theft of the gold bullion was over a year in the planning and the safe took 4 different keys to unlock only two of which were kept in the same place....  

It was considered the crime of the century, not for the pay load, but in part as it was perpetrated by a man of good standing in society. It took over two years to arrest Edward Pierce and bring him to trial. When asked in 1856 why he robbed the train, he simply replied "I wanted the money"..... 
Mexican Calendar Girls: Angela Villalba
★ ★ ★ ★

This a lovely book that is written in both Spanish and English. There are over 50+ full color photos of historical calendar art from various artists & companies. 

What I did notice was the tendency to anglicize the women, most were not of discernible Native Descent, and that I found perplexing!

Contents include: Introduction, Classic Calendars, National Identity, Celebrations & Customs, Macho Women & Cowgirls, Sexy, Exclusive Calendars, Appendices, Artist Biographies, U.S. Calendar Companies, Bibliography, Index by Artist, and Acknowledgements.

A very lovely & interesting book....
The Dress Maker of Khair Khana: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon     
★ ★ ★

This is a very interesting piece of Journalism, at least it seems to be written in a journalistic manner/view. I say this as we never get to "know" the young women involved, except through their work....

It is the story of a young Afghani woman, Kamela, began a dressmaking business in order to support herself & her four sisters during the Taliban regime.

The story is one of hardship, danger, & courage mixed with hope and many surprises.

The Caliph's House: Tahir Shah
★ ★ ★

I actually began reading this book several years ago & put it down as I didn't have the interest to finish it, but I guess "Things Change"....

In 2004, Tahir Shah, purchased a house in  Casablanca, Morocco known as Dar Khalifa. It was once owned by wealthy people but had fallen into disrepair and it had the distinction of being on the border of the slums.....

Upon arriving Shah & his family came upon the "guardians" of Dar Khalifa, who of course were more than reluctant to accept the family & the changes they proposed to make to the the house & property, lest they displease Qandisha, the resident Jinn (who was eventually "exorcised"). 

Not one to be discouraged, Shah went ahead with the onerous project, meeting & dealing w/ more than one "difficult" party....  In the process he did meet a few friends of his grandfather's and made many new friends as well......

It amazed me, that a man of well being, who himself was from Afghanistan, allowed himself to be so cowed by the people who worked for him!

But it was an interesting book, well written and rather detailed towards the end describing the interior construction of the house.

The Quotable Stoner: Holden Blunts
★ ★ ★

I was seriously hoping this would be more intelligent, entertaining & of some future use in my writings..... Sadly, not to be.

Contents: Introduction, Pot Cultures,  Pot Etiquette, The Stoner's Kitchen, Buzz Enhancers, The High Life, Rebelling Against Man, Legally Blissed, This is You on Drugs, This is Your Mom on D rugs, A Natural High, High on God, Stoner Utopia, Mixed Weedia, Reefer Madness, Whose Higher, Welcome to Stonerville, Worst-case Cannabis Scenario, Once Upon a Time When I was High, You Must Have Been High When You..., Afterword, & Acknowledgements

243 pages of Stonerisims....  from Margaret Cho, Jay & Silent Bob, Dennis Hooper, Cheech Marin, Jerry Garcia, Jack Nicholson, Tommy Chong, Meat Loaf, Phylllis Diller, John Wayne, Quentin Tarantino, Johnny Depp, & many many more.

"Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man" --DEA Administrative Law: Judge Frances L. Young

And there you have it!

The Levy Caper: David Shaw
★ ★

This is an account of bank securities fraud gone wrong; a true comedy of errors.  Alan Levy was a gambler deep in debt to more than one bookmaker when he decided it would be safer if he moved to California.

He owned several successful business that he ran into the ground from his gambling debts; one of which was the first Boutique in L.A. to sell French fashions.

Then in February 1971 Levy came upon the "Opportunity of a lifetime"; $800,000,000 in negotiable securities was dumped in his lap.  Levy learned to turn a blank stock certificate in to a "valid" one, and proceeded to trust all the wrong people trying to unload them......

Levy's greed got the better of him and the egotistical little con-man got conned!  All I can say is Levy was nothing more than a small time greedy little schmuck who got off easy.....

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