Archive for the ‘Bio/Autobio’ Category

Review: Keep a Knockin’ – Charles Connor

Thursday, December 24th, 2015
Keep a Knockin'
Hardcover: 264 pages
Publisher: Waldorf Publishing; 1st edition (August 1, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1634432649
ISBN-13: 978-1634432641
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Charles Connor played with some of the legendary names in Rock & Roll and Soul. One of his jobs was as drummer for Little Richard. In Keep on Knockin’, Mr. Connor details his life on the road with Little Richard and his band the Upsetters. Like you’d expect with modern bands, with the bands of the 50s and 60s, it was still a lot of rough living and days of sex, drugs, and alcohol.

The book spans Mr. Connor’s life from when he first started playing drums, against all those saying he’d never make it, through time with such people as Professor Longhair. He covers his relationhips, life on the road, and in general just gives a great picture of the life of a band during the early days of rock & roll.

For those with a love and passion for music, an interest in the music history of the 1950s, or just in the mood for a very interesting biography, you should big up Keep A Knockin’. It’s well written, and Mr. Connor Kept me involved in the story. I’d never heard of him prior to reading this story, but through this book I found him a very likeable and engaging person. I’d definitely recommend this book.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Barbara at Waldorf Publishing for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Children of Dust – Ali Eteraz

Monday, January 11th, 2010



Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: HarperONe: 1st Edition (October 13, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061567086
ISBN-13: 978-0061567087 
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Since 9/11 there has been a lot of anger and distrust in this country towards Muslims. I’ve always tried to keep an open mind about things. I’ve never truly understood everything about the Muslim faith. Having a background as the son of a Baptist Minister there seemed to be many conflicts in beliefs. Taking that as a basis though, when this book came along I thought it would be an interesting tale to read. I also felt like it may help, to at least understad Muslim’s a bit better.

The Story is broken down into 5 sections. Each section is one part of how Ali Eteraz grew and changed in his religion.

The first section starts with young Abir ul Islam. When Abir was born, his father made a convent with Allah that Abir would be a faithful servant. This section deals with both the good and bad aspects of any religion. During his childhood children were often beaten, and otherwise abused for not learning their lessons well. This was one of the most difficult sections to read. You have this child who is trying to stay true to his faith, while at the same time, that faith allows bad things to happen.

Americanism – In this section, Abir, now Amir ur Islam and his family has moved to America. He wants to embrace some of the American culture, like Boy Meets World. His parents are trying to hold on to their religion. The majority of this compares how the two cultures can sometimes collide.

Fundamentalism – In this section, Abir, now Abu Bakr Ramaq had completely wrapped himself within the muslim religion. He looks on disdain at those women who fail to cover their faces, or who wear pants.

Post Modern – Abu, now Abir ul Islam travels back to Pakistan in order to find a Muslim wife. While there he faces the extremism that is going on within the Muslim world. He learns how far that goes while he’s there and begins to see a need to change.

Reformer – Abir, now Ali Eteraz begins working on reforming Muslim views. From the way I read things, he began to see the extremist view as going against the Muslim faith. A lot of this change in his views seems to have come about in the wake of 9/11.

There were some surprising similarities. These came about in the guise of their prophets. Sulayman, Daud, Ibrahim, Ismael, Yunus, Nuh, Musa, Isa, Lut, and Yusaf. Western (Christian) cultures would know them as Solomon, David, Abraham, Ishmael, Jonah, Noah, Moses, Jesus, Lot, and Joseph.

I found his journey through the different phases fascinating, sad at times, humorous at others. I don’t see it as a lot different than the journey many take when beginning to follow a religious idea. The main thing, and what I set out to prove to myself at least was that it’s not the religion of a person that’s bad. You can be a good, religious person whether your Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or any others. You can also be a bad religious person and be in any of those same groups, it’s how you use and interpret what you read in the holy books you follow that can determine good or bad.

I’d recommend this book. Maybe not to the very close minded, but anyone who wants to possibly see what all the different aspects of Islam are about, and maybe understand a different culture.

*Disclaimer* A review copy of this book was provided by FSB Associates. Thanks to Anna and Julie at FSB Associates.

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True Compass – Edward M. Kennedy

Sunday, November 15th, 2009


True Compass 

Hardcover: 532 pages
Publisher: Twelve (September 14, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446539252
ISBN-13: 978-0446539258 
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 Edward MooreTedKennedy (February 22, 1932 – August 25, 2009) was probably the last of what came closest to an American Royal family.  I wasn’t always fond of him, especially in my younger days.  However, I came to respect him and all he and his family has done.  They were strong supporters of rights for the disabled, civil rights for African Americans, and proponents of healthcare for all citizens.

This book details his 77 years of life.  He fills it with many memorable anecdotes.  Some that come to mind immediately are the tales of when he almost had his arm eaten by a zebra, and when his mother sent him a letter (while he was an adult) admonishing for using the word “ass” in his writing.   I enjoyed these tales, they helped make him seem more of normal person, than just the politician seen in the public.

There was also much tragedy in his life.  The death of his brother Joe Jr, The Assassination of John and Robert, the death of his sister in a plane crash.  One poignant story is that of his young son losing his leg to cancer.  Another tale is of his surviving a plane crash in 1964.  This crash exposed him to what was to become his banner fight for the next 45 years, that of healthcare.  He details his fight for healthcare, stories of the different president’s he’s served under, his views on Vietnam and how they changed. 

While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, there were some weaknesses I thought.  One was in the story of Chappaquiddick.  Senator Kennedy given the opportunity to tell everything that happened, summed it up in 2 or 3 pages.  While he truly seemed regretful, I’d like to have known more details.  Although I did find out some new information I didn’t know before.  

The book itself is nice, with deckle edging.  That’s a new term I found out about.  It involves a rough edging on the sides of the pages so they resemble handcut paper.   I’d recommend this for any Kennedy fans, or for those who want an insider’s view of history through the last 70+ years.  I really enjoyed it, and I think you probably will too.

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No Ordinary Time – Doris Kearns Goodwin

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009


No Ordinary Time

Hardcover: 768 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 1, 1995)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0671642405
ISBN-13: 978-0684804484
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Franklin Roosevelt was the only president in history to have served 4 terms.  This book, by Drois Kearns Goodwin covers the lives of  both Franklin and Eleanor, mostly from 1939-1945.  America was just recovering from the Depression. Roosevelt was often and still is criticized for many of his programs.

During his administration, African Americans were first fully allowed into the military. Up until this point, they were allowed in, but had the jobs of cooks, cleaning, laundry, etc. All amenities were separate. African Americans had separate quarters, separate mess halls, separate entertainment facilities, and some of these were often subpar. They were not allowed in most workplaces, except as janitors, and other menial tasks. At one point, it was ordered that African Americans be given the same rights to test for Conductor jobs on train lines in San Francisco. When 10 African Americans scored high enough on the test for the jobs, the old union decided to go out on strike. Federal employees were sent in to run the lines. Eventually with unions, strikers were told they could go to work, or they could go to war. Most chose to return to work.

Women, because of the war, began to move into the workplace. While men didn’t like it at the time, it was necessary to turn out all the materials required. Women actually began to find they liked being in the workplace, and although men expected them to return to being housewives at the end of the war, many didn’t.

There were also many mistakes made by the FDR administration. The Japanese Internment is the one known most often. Many bright, patriotic Japanse Americans were interned in camps. These Americans were doctors, lawyers, teachers, and many would’ve been willing soldiers. However, the paranoia led people to think they’d probably side with Japan. Eleanor Roosevelt observed that they made the best of the situation however, they built libraries, schools, etc. and continued on with their lives.

Another mistake was in turning back the St. Louis. The St. Louis set sail from Germany with 1,000 Jewish passengers headed to Cuba. Some of these passengers had been released from concentration camps in Germany. Cuba wouldn’t allow them to land without being paid $500 per person. With the U.S. not being able to meet an agreement with Cuba, the ship was turned around and returned to Germany.

This was not the only instance of this. At one point Eleanor had tried to get German/Jewish immigrants admitted into the U.S. FDR and members of his administration refused, under the belief that they couldn’t tell a German Nazi from a German Jew. Some Historians, not necessarily Ms. Goodwin, claim that if the U.S. and other countries had opened their policies, that the Holocaust may have never existed. The idea being that Hitler wanted to rid Germany of the Jewish population, whether it be death or sending somewhere else I don’t believe though, that he would’ve stopped there. He would’ve just came after us for harboring them.

A lot of this book concentrates on the relationship between Eleanor and Franklin as well. After his affair with Lucy Mercer, they never had a tight husband/wife relationship. From reading the book, I think part of it might have been latent feelings that Eleanor had towards other women. The author doesn’t seem to hide the fact that Eleanor had many lesbian friends, some of whom she considered to have a “marriage”. At times it seemed to suggest that she also had these relationships.

Eleanor had to deal with her feelings, the pain of Franklins affair, and his overbearing mother. It seems at times that she was shut completely out of his life. Sending her out to talk to people, being his eyes and ears, seemed to give her some feeling of importance.

Franklin had his own affairs of the heart. One such was with Missy Lehand. Missy was his aid, and acted as his right hand. She took interests in a lot of his hobbies that Eleanor had no desire to learn about. She was such a close part of their lives, that Franklin even had his will modified to give Missy a third of his Estate.

I saw many parallels though between FDR’s administration, and current events. There was a lot of talk about FDR’s Administration being Socialist. There was also a parallel between the African Americans in the military, and the current debate regarding Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Reading this book, I could see many ways in which it seemed like we were repeating the history of the 1940’s. I also saw many ways in which we handled things differently, for instance, the war, rationing, construction, then we have in recent war time situations.

This book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in history for 1995.  In addition it won the Harold Washington Literary Award, the New England Bookseller Association Award, and the Ambassador Book Award.  It also spent 6 months on the New York Times bestseller list.

I’d highly recommend this book for anyone interested in reading about how a lot of the things (Civil Rights, Womens Rights, etc.) got their beginnings. It was very insightful look into the lives of two of the most recognized Americans of the 20th century, and Ms. Kearns manages to present the stories of both of them, without glossing over the bad, and only showing the good.

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