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Tim Boxer


Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the WestSociety In Warp Mode

ADICAL STATE: HOW JIHAD IS WINNING OVER DEMOCRACY IN THE WEST Abigail R. Esman is an American journalist who moved to Amsterdam in 1989 because she fell in love with its liberal life style, but has lately become unnerved by the steady influx of Salafi-Jihadism and subsequent assault on the open society in the Netherlands.

Pursuing political correctness, in the name of tolerance, and reluctant to antagonize their Muslim immigrants has impelled the Dutch to try to pacify the restive immigrants. But instead of integrating into the general society and participating in Western culture, Muslims formed an ethnic underclass and thrived in their own world.

Dutch society is built on equality, tolerance, separation of church and state. But there is no such principle of separation of mosque and state in this minority community. Incidents proliferated where certain imams preached hatred of the U.S. and called for the slaughter of Christians and Jews around the world.

Dutch citizens began to fear Muslims. A politician warned that by 2015 half the population of Holland’s largest cities will be Muslim. Society will be totally transformed into the initial stages of a European caliphate with strains of Salafi Islam as propagated throughout the West by the Wahhabi imams of Saudi Arabia. Praeger, 245 pages, Amazon.com Price: $34.95)


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Shi’ismA Religion Of Protest

The vast majority of the world’s Muslims are Sunni who look upon the Shi’i with animosity and contempt, and often accuse them of heresy and apostasy resulting in massacre. That’s the way it was at the beginning as a religion of protest.

Upon Prophet Muhammad’s demise, a crisis of succession ensued. The majority became known as Sunnis (who followed the Prophet’s sunnah, path), and aggressively set out to spread the faith and conquer the world.

A small minority of dissidents, who came to be known as Shi’is (partisans, short for "partisans of Ali"), sought "to sustain Muhammad’s charismatic authority." They sought to sustain the Prophet’s lineage by following Ali, the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law, proclaimed the rightful ruler and thus the First Shi’i Imam. The majority Sunnis murdered him and proceeded to establish a caliphate. Various caliphates dominated the Muslim world until the last one, the Ottoman empire, collapsed in the First World War.

Hamid Dabashi, professor of Iranian studies and comparative literature at Columbia University, not only gives an historical account of this Islamic schism, but includes in great detail his experiences of growing up in the Shi’ite environment of Iran. His personal narrative takes into the heart and soul of what he calls a vindictive religion.

"Shi’ism is revolt: from Imam Hossein in Karbala to Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, to Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq, to Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon. Shi’ism is to say ‘No!’ Where it thrives, Shi’ism is a majority with a minority complex. It is not just that Shi’ism is political; politics is Shi’I in its quintessence." A fascinating book that will help us understand the currents in the Middle East today, especially in Iran where "the ruling Shi’ism has lost its moral legitimacy." Belknap/Harvard University Press, 413 pages, $29.95, Amazon.com Price: $19.46)


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RECIPES REMEMBEREDCelebrating Survival (In The Kitchen)

Wolfgang Rauner, a retired salesman in Queens, recalls the harmony that prevailed on Passover in his boyhood home in Trier, Germany, near Alsace Lorraine. The family always had matzo balls. His mother came from a home where the matzo balls were boiled. In his father’s home they were fried. So Wolfie’s mom made both boiled and fried matzo balls to keep peace between mom and dad.

The matzo ball (dumpling) is Wolfie’s contribution to a unique cookbook, Recipes Remembered, a collection of favorite foods by survivors of the Holocaust. June Feiss Hersh not only presents family recipes but also the story behind each recipe, and food memories of the survivors with early pictures.

Hersh interviews survivors from not only fro0m Germany but also Belgium, France, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Russia and Ukraine and packed many fascinating stories about food preparation in times gone by. All kosher, of course. Book sales benefit New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage. Ruder Finn Press, 360 pages, $36.00, Amazon.com Price: $23.76)


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Microsoft Office Outlook 2010 QuickStepsManaging Your Computer

ORKING the computer can be a breeze if you have the right references or instructions at hand. Fortunately McGraw-Hill can provide the relevant guide books. Microsoft Office Outlook 2010 QuickSteps (softcover, 243 pages, $19.99, Amazon.com Price: $13.65) explores the application with ease, step by step. From receiving and sending email, managing contacts, scheduling your calendar, using the task window, exploring the journal, and using labels and mail merge—it’s all there in easily understood language.

Microsoft Office Word 2010 QuickSteps (softcover, 253 pages, $19.99, Amazon.com Price: $14.99) with a plethora of Tips, Notes and QuickSteps sidebars will make you a wiz at word processing if you give it your full attention. It makes learning not only a breeze but also a joy.

The publisher’s Quick Steps series address every facet of the computer experience, even for older folk. Computing for Seniors QuickSteps (McGraw-Hill, softcover, 292 pages, $20.00, Amazon.com Price: $15.00) and Windows 7 for Seniors QuickSteps (McGraw-Hill, softcover, 285 pages, $20.00, Amazon.com Price: $11.00) are just two samples of the line of guide books targeted at the far side of the boomer generation, and beyond. You won’t get a better learning experience.

iPad2 Quicksteps Gadget guru Joli Ballew, author of some 40 computer books, has given us what is probably the clearest, smoothest, easiest learning book for your iPad 2. With her fine flow of directions and countless colorful illustrations, you’ll be up and flying with your tablet in no time. McGraw-Hill, softcover, 192 pages, $20.00, Amazon.com Price: $15.00)


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HOW DARE YOU SAY HOW DARE ME!Memoir Of A Great Comedian

The title warns you right off not to mess with this author. Pat Cooper, the angry dude of showbiz, has lots to complain about and it’s all damn funny. His life’s journey is a riot from start to finish. Thank goodness he isn’t finished yet, as he still kills in appearances all over the country, especially when he stars frequently at the infamous Friars roasts.

Pat Cooper is always taken for a Jewish comedian (weren’t they all?), even though he was born Pasquale Caputo in Brooklyn, son of a gentleman Italian immigrant bricklayer.

Among the countless anecdotes, one stands out for the humanity and respect of two artists. In the early ‘60s he was booked to open for singer Tony Martin in a casino in Sparks, Nevada. He was elated to work with this great star, a fellow Italian whose real name must be Tony Martino, DiMartino, Martinelli, whatever. "By the way he looked, dressed, sang, and even by the songs he picked, he was one sharp Italian."

Pat was three days early for Martin’s opening so George Burns asked a favor. Dorothy Provine cancelled and he desperately needed someone to open for him during those three days. Pat was thrilled, but said he had to ask permission from Tony Martin. Tony thought that was a classy move and said to go ahead.

When Tony arrived three days later, Pat was dumbfounded to discover that Tony wasn’t Italian after all. He was born Alvin Morris. "A Jewish guy hit the high notes and an Italian guy made them laugh, even though everyone thought it was the other way around.

Then there’s the time Pat opened for Shirley MacLaine at the MGM Grand in Vegas. His contract gave him equal billing, but the sign outside had his name in tiny letters. He screamed and they adjusted the size of his name next to hers. On opening night he went to Shirley’s dressing room, where she was sitting with Pete Hamill.

"Where do you get your balls?" Shirley demanded.

"Miss Maclaine," Pat fumed, "let me say this. I can only respect your dignity. How fucking dare you not respect my dignity?"

It was a showdown between two ballsy people and Pete was enjoying it.

"I guess you say what you want first and ask questions later," she continued.

"And from what I’ve read," Pat shot back, "I guess you have out-of-body experiences. Let me tell you, if I had your body, I wouldn’t go back in."

The book is full of outrageous tales. Something in every chapter made me laugh out loud. And I mean loud. Like the times he went to get fitted for a hearing aid. He went from one hearing specialist to another, paid thousands of dollars for dud devices, until he gave up.

Pat didn’t blame the doctors or technicians for the devices that didn’t perform for him but apparently worked for most patients, just not for him. Those patients didn’t perform at countless shows in raucous Vegas and didn’t have a mother screaming "DON’T TAKE SO MUCH SAUCE!" in their ear for twenty years.

Pat gives his father credit for inventing bungee jumping: "If I was late for dinner he told my mother to throw me out the window." Square One, 262 pages, $24.95, Amazon.com Price: $18.21)


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Steve Wick, a senior editor and Pulitzer Prize winning writer at Newsday, has written an absorbing portrait of one of the most famous and courageous foreign correspondents of the ‘30s and ‘40s subtitled, William L. Shirer and the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. (Edward R. Murrow was a radio colleague at CBS.) Shirer hopped from one capital to another to describe Hitler’s brutal march across the continent, and reporting on the relentless slaughter of the Jews even when the CBS brass in New York were at times uninterested. Palgrave Macmillan, 264 pages, $27.00, Amazon.com Price: $15.00)

LUSH LIFE: PORTRAITS FROM THE BARLUSH LIFE: PORTRAITS FROM THE BAR New York artist Jill DeGroff captures incisive caricatures of saloon society the world over, wherever people gather to enjoy a friendly cocktail. Her husband, mixologist/author James Beard, accompanies her on her quest for interesting cocktailians and their stories and recipes. The second volume of Lush Life includes Broadway critic Aubrey Reuben who reminisces about the days he spent at the Rainbow and Stars nightspot where he’d snap celebrities with his ever-present camera. Once Rosemary Clooney asked him to shoot her with her nephew, who later found fame as George Clooney. Mudd Puddle Books, soft cover, Amazon.com Price: $24.95)

THE ULTIMATE, IULLUSTRATED BEATS CHRONOLOGYTHE ULTIMATE, ILLUSTRATED BEATS CHRONOLOGY Robert Niemi, professor of English and American Studies at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont, has meticulously recounted seminal events of all the modern American writers who comprised the Beat Generation. These were the amazingly talented authors and poets who, as Niemi says, pushed life and art much closer to the Nietzschean abyss and plumbed its mysteries for better or worse. "The Beats still survive and flourish as a cultural phenomenon because they were and are sexy, dangerous, irreverent spiritual anarchists in a tame world." It’s interesting that you won’t find one Beat writer from the South (unless you count quasi-Beat Hunter S. Thompson). This is a fascinating fast-paced accounting of the Beat Generation—year by year, month by month, week by week— in a slim paperback that you can carry in your hip pocket and enjoy no matter where you find yourself. Soft Skull Press, 271 pages, $15.95, Amazon.com Price: $10.90)

A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERSA BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS What a delicious assessment of singers ever brought together in one place, with lots of anecdotes and gossip as well as incisive critiques. Wall Street Journal music writer Will Friedwald isn’t crazy about Robert Goulet, wondering exactly when did he become "a synonym for mediocrity." He dismisses Andrea Marcovicci who’s condemned to play small rooms due to "No chops. No voice. No ability to hit high notes, much less sustain them." Taking a backhanded swipe at Barry Manilow, the marvelously opinionated Friedwald says that Michael Feinstein, unlike Manilow, "sounds as if he loves the songs more than he loves the sound of his own voice." Full of praise for the Chairman of the Board for becoming the biggest thing in pop music in 1943, Friedwald notes Frank Sinatra’s downside of his triumph as causing the eventual end of the big band era "which many of us still feel was the all-time high point of American popular music." By the way I couldn’t find Arthur Tracy, the Street Singer. Or Eddie Fisher, the crooner/loverboy. Or Engelbert Humperdinck. It’s a big book so maybe I missed something. Pantheon, 811 pages, $45.00, Amazon.com Price: $32.49)

Charles Strouse (center) with Leah Lane and dad/author Stewart Lane
Charles Strouse (center) with Leah Lane and dad/author Stewart Lane
Producer Stewart F. Lane, who earned his fifth Tony Award this year for War Horse, has probed deep into the roots of the Great White Way to show the profound influence and input of Jews from Irving Berlin to Tony Kushner throughout the past century in every facet: performers, composers, lyricists, directors, choreographers and producers. Lane’s fascinating historical survey is an amazing page turner, full of delicious anecdotes and significant information. The Friars Club book party for Lane brought out such names as composer Charles Strouse, (Bonnie and Clyde, Bye Bye Birdie), lyricist Ervin Drake (I Believe, It Was A Very Good Year) legendary TV talk show host Joe Franklin, comedians Freddie Roman and Stewie Stone and many more to congratulate Lane. McFarland, softcover, 231 pages, Amazon.com Price: $45.00)

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