Israel : A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth by Noa Tishby

December 7th, 2022 — 11:27pm

Category: HI - History, P - Political

Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth by Noa Tishby.

This is one of the most informative, remarkable, and interesting books about Israel that I have ever read. Granted, I am not the most sophisticated person about the history of the Jews throughout all time nor even do I claim to know all the players in conflicts since the formation of Israel as an independent country. The author of this book does provide an in-depth knowledge and insight into the history, the key players, and the clash of cultures. She also clarifies the discrimination against the Jews and against Israel not only dating back to ancient times, but before and after the Holocaust. One only has to appreciate the number of Arabs living in Israel now with full citizenship and even being represented in the Israeli parliament the Knesset and yet the continued BDS movement– Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Israel coming from the overwhelming majority of the Arab world that continually is trying to destroy Israel and the Jews.

The author, aside from being an outstanding writer, has been an entertainer and even a comedian. She writes with a lively style and backs up everything with historical facts.

I recommend very strongly that everyone who has an interest in the history of Israel (and hopefully even though those who have been oblivious to the history of the Jews and Israel) should read this book. The insight and clarity you will have will help make the world a better place.

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Know My Name by Chanel Miller

December 7th, 2022 — 10:45pm

Category: FG - Fiction General

KNOW MY NAME by Chanel Miller

A young woman goes to a party on the Stanford University campus and gets drunk and passes out at the party. While unconscious she is sexually assaulted and raped in a nearby park. Two witnesses identify the guy who did it and there is eventually a trial.

The book gives us a graphic description and insight into the buildup to the courtroom scene, interactions with the district attorney, the story of the perpetrator, all the motions, appeals, background, etc. It is written with great insight, magnificent descriptions, and understandable emotions.

The book is a page turner as we go through the dramatic courtroom scenes, the cross examinations, the plan of the defense attorney, and the numerous characters. Because the author is skillful and insightful, we are able to relive her experience. From the waking up in the hospital, the police interrogations, the pretrial, the trial, cross examination, the witnesses, but most important she gives us a tremendous insight into her own emotions and gut feelings.

You don’t need to just have my recommendation. The book is already a best seller and has been receiving wide acclaim.

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The Personal Librarian

August 29th, 2022 — 11:57pm

Category: FG - Fiction General

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

This book is based on the life of a real woman in the early 1900s who became the executive assistant to the extremely wealthy JP Morgan and worked very closely with him in developing in what became the world famed Piermont Library and Museum in New York City. She traveled throughout the world on his behalf accumulating extremely valuable items in both their historical and artistic merit. The secret personal history of this woman and her struggles with her own identity and how she was perceived by the rich and famous in both the United States and throughout the world is the essence of this fascinating book. Although it has nothng to do with religion, one of us was reminded of the story of the Muranos or the “ Secret Jews “who lived in Spain in the 15th century and had to hide their Jewish identities in order to stand a chance prospering in that society . The collaboration of the two authors is a fascinating story itself which is discussed in the interesting epilogue to the book

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The True Adventures of Gidon Lev by Julie Gray

May 14th, 2022 — 12:16pm

Category: AM - Autobiography or Memoir, B - Biography

The True Adventures of Gidon Lev by Julie Gray

Gidon Lev is one of a small number of children who survived the Nazi concentration camp of Theresienstadt. He went on to travel through Europe and then spent time in Canada and the United States before settling on a kibbutz in Israel. He has led a full fascinating and complicated life including two marriages and several children. Gidon met Ms. Gray who is 30 years his junior and is an experienced and accomplished memoir writer. They collaborated for what must have been several years traveling together throughout the world tracing Gidon Lev’s fascinating life, which included many tragedies, complications, and great joys. She put together a memoir that is written by her but interspersed and weaved together with Gidon’s first person account.

It happens that I read this book while the world was witnessing the tragic war in Ukraine. The television news is filled with videos and stories of the killing of innocent civilians and refugees including children who witnessed these tragic killings, now traveling to new countries. I could not help to conflate these tragic accounts with Gidon’s description of his own refugee days with these present experiences.

There was one time period in the 1960s when Gidon lived outside of Jerusalem and described in detail the growth of the young Jewish state and the atmosphere that he experienced. It just so happened that my wife and I as students spent the summer in that time period, working at Hadassah Hospital and then we were a given a fascinating tour throughout Israel. This experience made Gidon’s description of the spirit of the people of Israel something that we could relate to and had some firsthand understanding about.

Then of course, when Gidon wrote about his experience during the Yom Kippur War of 1973, and Israel being attacked by hostile Arab countries, once again our daily TV stories of the Russian invasion of Ukraine made a realistic visual impact for the words I was reading in Gidon’s description.

This book is not just a firsthand historical journey, it is also a very personal story of Gidon’s life including his reconnection with his children after his first wife unexpectedly took them to the United States with little clue to Gidon where they might be living.This is an unusual collaboration between an accomplished memoir writer and the subject who spent significant time together retracing and reexamining Gidon’s life. The book is a worthwhile experience and an insight into history as well as the study of the character of a remarkable man.

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Where I Was From by Joan Didion

March 16th, 2022 — 10:26pm

Category: AM - Autobiography or Memoir, HI - History

Where I Was From by Joan Didion

This a very pleasant personal memoir of both the talented author and also a memoir of State of California through the eyes of Ms. Didion. She pulls no punches as she described the unethical behavior of large agricultural companies, the defense contractors, the land speculators, the prison builders, many others who exploited the land and the riches of the Golden State. She also provides an insight into the soul of the people of California particularly when she talks about her own family over many generations. I am sure her writing will live on for future generations and can be a humanizing adjunct to the life and times about which she has written.

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Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

March 4th, 2022 — 6:25pm

Category: O - Other - Specify

Slouching Towards Bethlehem
By Joan Didion

Ms. Didion has a style and skill to bring out the essence and feelings of various characters as they deal with the major events of a lifetime. The book consists of 20 essays and is apparently her first non-fiction book. It mostly addresses personalities and events of the 1960s on the West Coast in California where she grew up. She did delve into the life of John Wayne, Joan Baez and Howard Hughes and touches upon what it was to live in Haight-Ashbury during the 1960s. Ms. Didion takes the reader into a deep dive into various characters as well as a particular time period. I did get the feeling that she truly captured each person and their life setting. As I read each essay, it seemed quite real and genuine. She provides a brief visit with an interesting person. However, as honest and is true as the encounter may be, the essay was not particularly memorable. I did not find myself engrossed in each essay nor reminiscing over the literary experience. No doubt she is a great photographer with her words. I had the thought that I would treasure one of her essays, if she were writing about a time and place of people with whom I had interacted and lived. For example, I would really enjoy reading her insight into Brooklyn during the years that I lived there in my youth. Also, I should add that I have not the slightest idea what the title has to do with the contents of her book.

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While Justice Sleeps by Stacy Abrams

October 9th, 2021 — 10:51pm

Category: FL - Fiction Legal, FM - Fiction Mystery, Uncategorized

While Justice Sleeps by Stacy Abrams

I did not realize that Stacy Abrams, well known former Georgia State Representative who unsuccessfully ran for Governor and has been active nationally in voter rights, is also an accomplished fiction writer. In this novel she immediately drops us into an exciting mystery as we meet Avery Keene. The character’s name itself reminds me of “Mr. Keene- “Tracer of Lost Persons”, one of radio’s longest mystery radio programs. Ms. Keene, in the novel, is a law clerk for a prominent Supreme Court judge who has fallen into a coma and previously unbeknownst to Ms. Keen gave her complete power of attorney for him. There is a murder of the nurse caring for the judge and there are legal questions about a conspiracy that had been brewing at the highest levels of government related to a pending merger of a biotech firm and an Indian Genetics Company. The author obviously has a very keen legal mind and understands the nuances of the legal system, especially the Supreme Court. Therefore, I was not surprised to find out that she is a graduate of Yale Law School. Although the storyline immediately grabbed my attention, at times I found it convoluted and I would not give it the highest recommendation

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SHRINKTALK- New Book by Michael Blumenfield, M.D.

September 11th, 2021 — 5:13pm

Category: AM - Autobiography or Memoir, MHP - Mental Health/Psychiatry

I am very pleased to tell you about the publication of a new book that I have written titled SHRINKTALK. It is based on my experience over many years in the field of psychiatry. It covers a wide variety of subjects such as ethical dilemmas that psychiatrists can face, dealing with anxiety, panic, depression, suicidal thoughts, sexuality, autism, post traumatic stress, psychological issues in regard to the Cornavirus epidemic as well as various medical conditions, my interactions with two U.S. Presidents and many other subjects. Also included in the book are answers to questions that I have provided for a popular website.

You can order the book in printed or Kindle version on Amazon. ( Click here )

I hope you will consider getting the book and if you like it, help me spread the word to your friends and colleagues and also consider writing a positive review on Amazon and elsewhere


Michael Blumenfield, M.D.

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Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

August 27th, 2021 — 10:56pm

Category: Uncategorized

HAMNET by Maggie O’Farrell

As we live in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, this novel by Maggie O’Farrell takes us back more than 500 years to England at the time of the Bubonic Plague. No vaccinations here, yet the local town people watch their neighbors and friends come down with the deadly disease. The story hones in on one family with three children, an older sister and two young twins, a boy and a girl. At first, it seemed as if the twin girl had been struck down with the plague, but she is to survive and much to the devastation of his parents, it is the boy who succumbs to the deadly disease. What follows is one of the most powerful descriptions of the grieving process that I have ever read in the many novels which I have come across which deal with death and dying.

Most probably if you were drawn to reading this book, you probably know that Hamnet is the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In this story, Hamnet’s father is a playwright who spends most of his time in London writing and producing plays. The father is devastated as is the mother by the death of their son. This leads to the writing and the production of the immortal story of Hamlet. While the storyline is original and quite captivating, it is the skill and beautiful writing of Maggie O’Farrell, which, although slow at times, mostly holds our attention and makes this a worthwhile literary experience.

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Red Island House by Andrea Lee

July 11th, 2021 — 6:10pm

Category: FG - Fiction General

Red Island House by Andrea Lee

A black American woman professor marries an Italian business man and they build a vacation hotel on an island off the coast of Madagascar Africa. They spend part of the year at this house where they entertain guests, vacationers, as well as family members. They develop a relationship with the staff of the Red Island House. The reader becomes acquainted with many of these people including the various activities that go on not only at the hotel but on the island. This includes prostitution of young girls with older men and a very busy night club scene.

Before I go further, I must admit that had I not been reading this book for a book club, I would have backed out and probably would not have finished the book. Not only did I find much of the plot not interesting and repetitive but I found the vocabulary annoying in that I did not know the meaning of various words and I had to tap my Kindle to bring up the meaning, although I might have guessed them by the context (I will give examples later on).

Basically, the book follows the two main protagonists husband Senna and wife Shay (for some reason I thought their names should have been switched) throughout their life time and while I might not identify with their life experience, I did appreciate how the aging process was depicted. In my opinion. Th e most emotionally moving part of the book was where Bertine, one of the senior staff who has known the owners for many years passes away. The impact on Shay and her reminisces was very well done .

I thought any reader of this review might find it interesting to see a sampling of the words I had to look up and how I probably could guess the meaning of some of them from the context:

Maputo- unbelievable Maputo moves
manioc – manioc patches
tsingy grin – tsingy grin at the sky
pinon-watching snow melt on a pinon
memsahib- how a proper memsahib does things
palimpsest- palimpsest of tribal conflicts
crepuscular- directed towards a crepuscular lost dimension of history
bourn – a bourn has been crossed
moraingy- prostitutes moraingy boxers
louche- from the louche life which he was torn
schusses – schusses of the truck
congeries – congeries of discolored huts
lapidary – lapidary prose style
gibe- a word used as a gibe
salegy – a popular salegy trio
vazaha – a vazaha can’t understand
lambas – a woman’s lambas like flag

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