Archive for August, 2010

Review – Ah-Choo – Jennifer Ackerman

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

 

 

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Twelve; 1 edition (September 2, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 044654115X
ISBN-13: 978-0446541152
Order from here:
amazon
 
 
 

The common cold. There’s few among us who haven’t been afflicted with one at some time. But how does one catch a cold? Why do some catch colds more often then others? In Ah-Choo by Jennifer Ackerman, many of these topics will be covered.

The book covers things such as ancient cures for the common cold, the different studies that have gone into the cold, ways to treat the cold, and the different viruses that cause it.

One of the things that I’d never considered is that the cold is caused by a virus, therefore the antibacterial soaps that are so frequently used anymore, are useless in fending off the cold. Also there are many, many different cold viruses.

The book managed to present all of it’s information in an interesting and informative way. It was organized by topic, and Ms. Ackerman really seemed to do her research.

Hard to say who this book would be aimed at, so I’ll just say anyone interested in these types of subjects, should pick it up. I think you’d find it very informative.

We have been given the opportunity to give away 3 copies of Ah-Choo. If you are interested, enter our contest here.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Anna at Hachette Book Groups for a review copy of this book.  It in no way influenced by review.

You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.


Giveaway – Ah-Choo

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Thanks to Anna at Hachette Book group I”m able to offer my readers 3 copies of this book. To enter, follow these simple rules:

1) One Entry if you’re a follower [You can follow through Google Friend />connect to the right, you can also sign up to follow through Twitter or Facebook].
2) An Additonal Entry if you blog about this contest.
3) An Additonal Entry if you’re a new follower.
4) One entry each for posting on facebook and/or twitter.
5) Must leave a comment letting me know how you follow me, blog link to this post, facebook/twitter link, etc.
6) Contest will continue until September 7, 2010.
7) This giveaway is open to residents of US and Canada. No PO Box addresses (street mailing only).

See our review here.

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The Crying Tree – Naseem Rakha

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

 

 

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Broadway; 1 Reprint edition (July 6, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0767931742
ISBN-13: 978-0767931748
Order from here:
amazon
 
 
 

Characters:

Irene Stanley – A mother torn over the loss of her son.
Nate Stanley – A father, policeman, and a man facing his own pain.
Bliss Stanley – Sister to Shep Stanley.
Shep Stanley – A 15 year old boy, loves music and exploring.
Daniel Robbins – A 19 year old mechanic sentenced to death for killing shep.

Overview:

How would you react to the man who killed your 15 year old child? Would you be able to find forgiveness in your heart? That is just part of what Irene Stanley struggles with in Naseem Rakha’s The Crying Tree. Fifteen year old Shep Stanley is shot during a routine robbery. The shooter, 19 year old Daniel Robbins is arrested and sentenced to die. This book follows the events and the struggles of each of the family members in trying to deal with the untimely death of a loved one.

Review:

This book was beautifully written. I could relate to the characters. They were very conservative in their beliefs and values. This seemed to be captured in a very accurate manner. Irene Stanley struggles though with forgiveness. You can feel her internal struggles with her faith, with her sense of right/wrong and what the reaction of her family/community would be to her feelings.

Nate Stanley is a man with a lot of regret. You can feel this regret eat at him. Eventually he’s driven into his own world and Irene in her’s. That leaves Bliss out there to more or less fend for herself and stuck in a position of having to take care of her parents.

The character of Daniel Robbins is written in such a way that you have some sympathy for him as well. He’s not a maniacal murderer like you’d expect of someone on death row.

I’d really recommend this book, it draws you into the situations and the characters, and you find yourself not wanting to put it down. There are many moments that make you think What would I do in this situation? And perhaps that’s the purpose, make you question your own view on things. There is strong language, and situations, so I’d say keep this to older Teens/Adults. If you want to read a moving story though, definitely pick it up.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Sarah at Terra Communications 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.


The Marshall Plan for Writing® – Evan S. Marshall

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

This review will be slightly different, as the product itself is different. The Marshall Plan for Writing® is a book, along with a companion software program. I’ll examine both as they function well together.

The Marshall Plan for Writing® by Evan S. Marshall covers a step by step process of writing fiction. It presents a 16 step process from picking the right novel for you, character creation, storyline, up to things such as editing, and finding an agent. It goes into multiple examples of how each step is applied in the writing process.

I found this book very informative. After reading through it, I found myself feeling that with enough research and thinking, I could probably put together a novel. The book seemed to contain almost everything I would be able to think of needing if I were to write a book.

For all the aspiring authors out there, I think this book would be an invaluable tool. If you’ve ever thought about that novel you have hidden within you, then pick up this book, and see where it leads.

The second aspect to this is the software. The software system that goes along with this is fairly user friendly. Each part of the program follows along the Marshall Plan with sections on characters, actions, etc. While the book itself is very good, the computer program used with the book allows you to take all the information and keep it in one area.

I found myself using this program from a running start. I do have a background in computers and in programming, so that may have given me a slight advantage, but I think if you could operate a word processor, you’d be able to use this software without any problems.

To see more about The Marshall Plan® see http://writeanovelfast.com

*Disclaimer* A review copy of this book was provided by Anna at FSB Associates. I’d like to thank her for the book. It in no way influenced my review.


Simon’s Choice – Charlotte Castle

Friday, August 13th, 2010

 

Paperback: 306 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (July 14, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1453681795
ISBN-13: 978-1453681794
Order from here:
amazon
 
 
 

Characters:

Simon Bailey – Doctor
Melissa Halford Bailey – Owns a florist and works there part time.
Sarah Bailey – 7 Years Old with Leukemia.
Terry Bailey – Simon’s Father.
Barbara Bailey – Simon’s Mother.
Robert Halford – Melissa’s Father.
Diana Halford – Melissa’s Mother.
Rev. Duncan Hughes – Local Minister who Simon goes to for counseling.
Muriel Hughes – Reverend Hughes Wife.

Synopsis:

What would you do if your child were dying. Would you let the child know? When you discussed it what would you do if the child asked you to go with her? These are some of the questions face by Simon. Finding the answers takes him on his own spiritual journey.

Review:

This was a very touching book. The characters could be almost anyone in any family. Parents all over the world every day face the possibility of their child dying. How do they handle it? The characters were realistically depicted. Each person had their own way of dealing with their grief. Like in real life, this grief can sometimes be a wedge between people.

The question of whether to tell Sarah hangs over the head of Robert and Melissa. In one of the most touching scenes of the book there is a conversation about dying between Robert and Sarah. This conversation sets up the plot for the rest of the book, and I genuninely felt Roberts fears and indecision in what to say/not to say. Through the repercussions coming out of this Simon manages to cling to his faith. Sometimes that’s all that keeps a person from totally shattering.

The author being British used some terms that might be hard to understand at first for those of us in the U.S. However, after a while, I was in the flow of the story, and didn’t notice.

This book is a quick read. There are a few areas where the language and content might not be suitable for all ags, so I’d give it a PG-13 and say that anyone out there who likes a tear jerker would probably enjoy this book.

You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.


Interview – Charlotte Castle – Simon’s Choice

Friday, August 13th, 2010

This time around we’re joined by Mrs. Charlotte Castle. Mrs. Castle’s book is Simon’s Choice, a moving tale of a Father’s Promise.

Rhodes Review: Who are some of the writers you enjoy? Books?

Charlotte Castle:  Thanks. Well, it won’t come as any surprise that I enjoy Jodie Picoult. I also loved Lionel Shriver’s ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ and I always love everything by David Nobbs and Evelyn Waugh. Recently, I really enjoyed The Wedding Gift by Kathleen McKenna and also Spoilt by Jo Ellis.

Rhodes Review:  How do you come up with Story Ideas?

Charlotte Castle:  Well, there’s a germ of an idea. Then you build on that. I normally start with a ‘what if’ and then a setting and then once i start researching, more ‘oh, but what if THIS happened’ come into play.

Rhodes Review:  How do you get your inspiration/muse to write?

Charlotte Castle:  There’s no muse. Inspiration comes from past experience. Glimmers of memory and glints from anecdotes – it took me until I was this age (29) to write a book because I didn’t have the experiences to turn into a novel until now.

Rhodes Review:  What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Charlotte Castle:  Time! I have two children. Writing takes a lot of time. I try to do 10,000 words a week – which is the equivelant of a university dissertation each week. Also, I’m dreadful at spelling and grammar (as you may have noticed.) Thank God for a patient publisher and talented editor.

Rhodes Review:  What’s the best thing about being an author?

Charlotte Castle:  Ah. The occasional moment when somebody looks at you with respect for having written a book. Trust me, it doesn’t happen often. Normally they think you’ve written a picture book – which deserves respect anyway as they are particularly hard to get published. But yeah, when someone says ‘oh, you’re an author?’ – it’s nice.

Rhodes Review:  What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Charlotte Castle:  Treat it like a job. You have to write it. It’s 1% inspiration 99% perspiration. Also, don’t write yourself into a corner. If something isn’t working, you’ve probably taken a wrong turn. Don’t be afraid to delete chapters and start again – it hurts, but sometimes it’s necessary.

Rhodes Review:  What is your current writing project?

Charlotte Castle:  A novel about a teacher who plays a prank with terrible consequences. It also delves into his difficult past. It’s a tale about how tiny things can suddenly roar up in front of you and cause terrible, massive problems.

Rhodes Review:  What was the writing process like for Simon’s Choice?

Charlotte Castle:  I wrote Simon’s Choice in the last two months of pregnancy and then the final month with a very sick baby on my lap. I wrote through torrents of vomit.

Rhodes Review:  What made you want to write this book?

Charlotte Castle:  I don’t know. Something just told me that it was a story that should be written – and read.

Rhodes Review:  Are there any appearances/conventions you’d like to announce to our readers?

Charlotte Castle:  No, bless you. But if your readers are good enough to buy the book and review it, you never know… you might find me on Oprah.

We’d like to thank Ms. Castle for joining us, and you can read a review of Simon’s Choice here.


The Merry Go Round – Donna Fasano

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

 

Paperback: 212 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (July 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1453688013
ISBN-13: 978-1453688014
Order from here:
amazon
 
 
 

Characters:

Lauren E. Hunkavic Flynn – Attorney
Greg Flynn – Lauren’s Estranged Husband
Lew Hunkavic – Lauren’s Father
Norma Jean Pruitt – Lauren’s Assistant
Scotty Shaw, Jr. – A client of Lauren’s.
Scott Shaw, Sr. – Scotty’s father.

Synopsis:

Can a divorced couple find some common ground to stop the animosity between them? We meet Greg and Lauren Flynn on the eve of their divorce. The reasons for the divorce at first are not clear. The judge’s decision begins the pivotal plotline for The Merry Go Round.

Review:

I liked this story. It was brief, but the characters were well drawn. The character of Lew I found lovable. He actually reminded me a lot of my late father.

Some of Lauren’s cases were extremely funny. One in particular involved a woman and toilet paper. Scotty Shaw’s story was also funny, I could actually see the events that happened to him, happen.

As the story progressed, my view of Lauren and my view of Greg did complete turnarounds. One minute I was routing for one, the next I was cheering on the other. In a he-said she-said world, we get to see both sides, and I liked that.

I recommend this for those looking for an easy, beach read, or just those into some light, romance.

See our interview of Ms. Fasano here.

About the Author:

Growing up the third child of five—yes, smack dab in the middle and the only girl to boot—Donna Fasano had no idea she would one day be a published author. Her story-telling talents came to light when she conjured lively and elaborate tales of pure blarney (yes, she has a bit of Irish in her blood) for, first, her youngest brother, and years later, her children.

Donna sold her first manuscript in 1989, and since then has become a bestselling, award-winning author of over thirty novels and four audio books. She writes under her own name, Donna Fasano, as well as under the pen name Donna Clayton and is known for her “smooth, polished” writing style and for creating “strong, complex” characters. Reviewers have described her stories as “poignant,” “richly textured,” “enticing,” and “absorbing.” The writing process can be extremely engrossing for Donna, so much so that she’s missed appointments with dentists and doctors, lunches with friends and family, and once she even forgot her carpool run. Luckily, the people in her life make allowances for this quirk.

Still happily married to her high school sweetheart, she is the mother of two grown sons who have flown the coop. She and her husband share their home with Jake, a black and white, couch-potato border collie, and Roo, a spotted red and cream Australian cattle dog that looks (and acts) like a wild dingo. Donna’s spare time is spent reading, walking the countryside and beach, or trying out new recipes from one of the many cookbooks she has collected over the years. Oh, and one night a week she and her hubby nab some alone time from their busy schedules, enjoying a nice glass of wine and a video—preferably a romantic comedy. Donna also volunteers loads of hours to her small church.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Ms. Fasano 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.

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Interview – Donna Fasano – The Merry Go Round

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Today we welcome Donna Fasano to Rhodes Review. Ms. Fasano is the author of The Merry Go Round.

Rhodes Review: Who are some of the writers you enjoy? Books?

Donna Fasano: I have an eclectic taste when it comes to reading. I enjoy literary authors such as Anne Tyler, Frank McCourt, Norman Mailer, Mitch Albom, and Maeve Binchy. I love mass market best-sellers like Stephen King and Dean Koontz and Jonathan Kellerman. Mid-list authors interest me, too: Judith French, Hunter Morgan, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Sharyn McCrumb. I’ve been reading a lot of indie authors these days: Karen McQuestion, Scott Nicholson, L.C. Evans, Nancy Johnson…oh, and Helen Smith. And I just read a great short story by Margaret Lake. I read a lot of self-help, spiritual non-fiction, as well by teachers such as Rami Shapiro, Deepak Chopra, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Eckhart Tolle (just to name a few!). I even enjoy poetry. See? Eclectic to the extreme.

Rhodes Review: How do you come up with Story Ideas?

Donna Fasano: For me, the creative process is mystical. Ideas can come from anywhere, at any time. I might see a sight that triggers an idea, or I might overhear a snippet of conversation (yes, I eavesdrop ) that inspires me. Story ideas might come from an article I read in a newspaper or magazine, or from people I know, or from strangers I happen to meet. Or characters might just ‘show up’ in my head with a story that needs to be told. I often scramble for paper and pen to jot down something that pops into my mind. I’m sure the people around me think I’m a nut (some of them even love me for it); however, I choose to describe it as surrendering to the mystical creative process. Because I’m willing to surrender, the ideas continue to flow.

Rhodes Review: How do you get your inspiration/muse to write?

Donna Fasano: Money is great incentive. Ha! (Hey, I’m human.) Seriously, I believe people are blessed with different gifts. Some people can look at a beautiful landscape and reproduce it on canvas with brushes and paints. Some people can see a social issue and find ways to solve big problems. Some people have a knack for numbers (I’m not of that ilk, by any means). I believe I’ve been graced with a talent to put words together. Properly woven words can sound like a symphony. Just like a song-writer invokes joy or yearning, sadness or laughter, I want to write lyrical stories that strum the emotional strings of my readers.

Rhodes Review: What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Donna Fasano: The beginning. Choosing the very best place to start telling a tale is most difficult for me. If the story starts too soon, the reader will be bored; too late, and the reader will end up confused. Either way, you’ve lost your audience. For a writer that’s the ultimate sin.

Rhodes Review: What’s the best thing about being an author?

Donna Fasano: Creation. I create situations, characters, places, moods. In just one short paragraph, I can have a reader standing in the middle of a bustling city feeling excited as mobs of people jostle past her, or I can have her standing alone in a cold, dimly lit room, fearful of who might be hiding in the shadows. The fact that the stories I invent stir others to feel, to emotionally react, is very exhilarating for me.

Rhodes Review: What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Donna Fasano: Just do it. (I think someone already coined that phrase. ) Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. If you have a story to tell, tell it.

Rhodes Review: What is your current writing project?

Donna Fasano: I have several projects going on right now. I have a completed manuscript called Hindsight that I’m editing. I also just had the rights of my first eleven books reverted to me and I’d like to offer them for sale, but that’s going to take some time.

Rhodes Review: What was the writing process like for The Merry-Go Round?

Donna Fasano: I spent a lot of time getting to know my protagonist, Lauren. This was her story. Once I really got to know her—or maybe I should say, once she fully revealed herself to me—I let her have her say. Like I said before, it’s easier if I just surrender. That’s usually how it works for me. My books are character-driven novels. If I let my characters shine and don’t force myself on them, the story usually flows faster and richer and truer. (I have no idea if that will make any sense, but it does to me. Hmmm, maybe I am nuts.)

Rhodes Review: What made you want to write this book?

Donna Fasano: I had never read a novel where the characters are divorcing in the beginning, and we see the whys and hows of the situation. I knew the beginning and the ending of this book when I started, but I had no idea how the characters were going to take me there. It was a fun book to write.

Rhodes Review: Are there any appearances/conventions you’d like to announce to our readers?

Donna Fasano: I have no appearances scheduled at the moment as personal issues are keeping me close to home for now.

Donna Thank you for joining us here at Rhodes Review. You can read our review of The Merry Go Round at here.


The Thyssen Affair – Mozelle Richardson

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

 

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Mountain West Publishing; December 21, 2009
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616582448
ISBN-13: 978-1616582449
Order from here:
amazon
 
 
 

Characters:

Canyon “Cane” Eliot – CIA Agent
Peter Landis – Cane’s Handler/Supervisor
The Skull of Major Heinrich Friedrich August von Stober
Anya Vasilievna Petrovna – KGB Agent
Magan Ben-Yanai – Mossad Agent

Synopsis:

The time is the 1980s. In Oklahoma, a skull is dug up from a Nazi POW cemetary. The Russsians manage to steal the skull from those who uncovered it. However, the Russians get a fake. The CIA has the original. Canyon Eliot is pulled out of retirement to do one more mission. Find out why the Russian’s wanted this skull. The idea is, if the Russians want it, then we do too. Cane’s adventures continually cross paths with the sexy Russian KGB Agent Anya and the Mossad Agent Magan Ben-Yanai. Cane’s adventure takes him from his ranch in Colorado, to Oklahoma to Germany, Italy and Russia. Along the way some people will die, there will be avalanches, gun battles and car chases. Each location will put another piece of the puzzle into who was Major Von Stober and what is so important about his skull.

Review:

This was a fun story. The agents seemed real. They had personal problems, and personal motivations for their actions. There were constant cliffhangers in which you wondered not if, but how Cane would get out of it. The style of this spy thriller would along the lines of John LeCarre more so than Ian Fleming. There were no pens that shot death rays, or cars that went underwater. Everything stuck to what the technologies were in the 1980s.

Like a lot of novels, it starts a little slow in the beginning, but when it gets to Germany, it picks up. I liked the characters in this book. Each had their own motivation for doing what they did, and for wanting the secrets of the skull. Even Magan who was probably the least developed character seemd to be realistic and I could understand and empathize with him.

If you’re into good, adventurous spy novels without all the fancy gadgets, then pick this up. I think you’d enjoy it. I certainly did, and I wouldn’t mind reading about these characters further.

See our interview with Mrs. Richardson here

About The Author:

Mozelle Groner Richardson was born in Texas. She and her husband W. T. (Dub) raised their four children in Oklahoma city. She now calls Santa Fe home and her favorite activitity is traveling the by-ways of New Mexico with Friends. At 90 years old, in 2004, she made the Guinness Book of World Records as the Old Person to ever graduate college. She received her degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma. She held that record until 2007.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Rebecca at The Cadence Group fo a review copy of this book.

You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.


Interview – Mozelle Richardson – The Thyssen Affair

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Today Rhodes Review is proud to present an interview with Mozelle Richardson, author of the spy thriller The Thyssen Affair.

Rhodes Review: Who are some of the writers you enjoy? Books?

Mozelle Richardson: I started writing in the 60’s and loved Mary Stuart. Any of her books influenced me. Until the Spy story brought me into contact with Ken Follett, Arthur Hailey,James Clavell, Jack Higgins, Jeffrey Archer.

Books: Anything by Mary Renault or Beau Gueste; anything by P. C. Wren. Destiny Bay, by Donn Byrne—I want that book buried with me. I stole it from the Plainview Public Library when I was 16 ( a junior in High School) and have read it probably 50 or more times.

Rhodes Review:  How do you come up Story Ideas.

Mozelle Richardson: From Travels, from newspaper articles—both foreign and local—from personal experiences.

Rhodes Review:  How do you get your inspiration/muse to write?

Mozelle Richardson: As soon as I get an idea there’s no stopping me. I write compulsively.

Rhodes Review:  What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Mozelle Richardson: Keeping the thread of the story in perspective.

Rhodes Review:  What’s the best thing about being an author?

Mozelle Richardson: Seeing your book in print!

Rhodes Review:  What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Mozelle Richardson: To Read, Read, Read.

Rhodes Review:  What is your current writing project?

Mozelle Richardson: At 96, to do a complete autobiography for my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren!

Rhodes Review:  What was the writing process like for The Thyssen Affair?

Mozelle Richardson: LONG! I wrote it in 1980. Then my husband became ill and for several years I forgot about the Book. Then I took it out again and the Cold War was over—the CIA and the KGB were friendly—and Spy stories were dead. Then about two years ago I asked a friend who was Director of the University of Oklahoma Press to have an editor read it and see if it was worth pursuing. He did and they said it was. So here I am.

Rhodes Review:  What made you want to write this book?

Mozelle Richardson: When I read that vandals had dug up the skull of a German Major buried for 35 years in a POW cemetery in Ft. Reno, Oklahoma, I thought here is a ready made plot and was fascinated by it. It kept me from writing anything else for 30 years!

Rhodes Review:  Amazon says you received your degree at 90. What advice would you give to readers who have considered dgoing to college, but feel that time has passed?

Mozelle Richardson: The time never passes! I hated my first two years in college—taking math, English Composition, languages, History and all of the other subjects that killed creative thought. So I didn’t go back. Instead I went to work for the Sheriff’s office and loved it. I learned to read fingerprints, gave testimony in court, knew all the state policemen, etc.Then years later when I went back to school (50 some odd years, that is) to learn how to plot. I decided to start taking courses in college that I loved. Like Greek Myths, Greek Plays,,painting, drawing, music appreciation, Elements of Police investigation, and American History. I never got tired of going to college. I went to NYU and took Italian. I took first year French three times. I loved the atmosphere on the campus. At the Student Union and the cafeteria, I’d meet and make wonderful friends—young friends. We’d compare quiz results. There is nothing like going to school when you are over-age to keep you young in spirit and temperament. The time never passes! I hated my first two years in college—taking math, English Composition, languages, History and all of the other subjects that killed creative thought. So I didn’t go back. Instead I went to work for the Sheriff’s office and loved it. I learned to read fingerprints, gave testimony in court, knew all the state policemen, etc.Then years later when I went back to school (50 some odd years, that is) to learn how to plot. I decided to start taking courses in college that I loved. Like Greek Myths, Greek Plays,,painting, drawing, music appreciation, Elements of Police investigation, and American History. I never got tired of going to college. I went to NYU and took Italian. I took first year French three times. I loved the atmosphere on the campus. At the Student Union and the cafeteria, I’d meet and make wonderful friends—young friends. We’d compare quiz results. There is nothing like going to school when you are over-age to keep you young in spirit and temperament.

We’d like to say Thank You for taking the time to answer these questions Mrs. Richardson and thanks to Rebecca at The Cadence Group for arranging the interview. Read our review of The Thyssen Affair here .

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