Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona on May 2, 2004 · Page 78
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Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona · Page 78

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Sunday, May 2, 2004
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TiieAkina REPIUUC Ivl SUNlttY. MAY 2, 2(MM BOOKS Biographer fills in Hamilton's background f 'Alexander Hamilton' Ron Chernow (Penguin Press. 2004. 818 pages. $35) By J.mct Muslin New Yixk Time In the course of his research for this monumental biography, Ron Chernow arranged to lift and aim the dueling pistols thought to have been used by Alexander Hamilton and his killer, Aaron Burr. Chernow visited the jail cell on St. Croix where Hamilton's mother was imprisoned for adultery. Chernow visited the island of Bequia, to which James Hamilton, Alexander's father, disappeared after abandoning his illegitimate son. lb answer questions raised about Hamilton's racial heritage, Chernow commissioned genetic testing of a lock of Alexander's hair. Chernow also took on the staggering task of sifting the writings of a man who "must have produced the maximum number of words that a human being can scratch out in 49 years." As Alexander Hamilton makes clear, the lawyer, battlefield hero and Treasury secretary who was "arguably the foremost political pamphleteer in American history," never met a subject unworthy of polemicism or a con- RON CHERNOW ALEXANDER HAMILTON troversy he didn't like. Hamilton, whom his biographer calls "the human word machine" and "this inspired windbag," also did not shy from technical topics. Among his important works are not only contributions to the Federalist Papers and the creation of the Coast Guard, standardized currency and the Bank of the United States, but also such documents as Report on a Plan for the Further Support of Public Credit. As Chernow puts it, "If Washington is the father of the country and Madison the father of the Constitution, then Alexander Hamilton was surely the father of the American government." For all this book's claims of Hamilton's wit and attractiveness, it also provides much evidence to the contrary. "His manners are tinctured with stiffness and sometimes with a degree of vanity that is highly disagreeable," as an American military man described him. Chernow sets himself a compelling task: to add a third dimension to conventional views of Hamilton while reaching beyond the limits of a personal portrait. If Alexander Hamilton reflects its subject's far-from-charismatic nature, it also provides a serious measure of his place in history. Chernow has done a splendid job of capturing the backbiting political climate of Hamilton's times, to the point that no cow is sacred here. The "golden age of literary assassination in American politics," featuring Thomas Jefferson as a particularly self-serving schemer, sounds familiar today. Chernow traces Hamilton's contentiousness to his tough childhood in the Caribbean (he was born on Nevis). Chernow also asserts that no immigrant made a greater contribution to American life. The book describes how its subject, even at 17, had the oratorical powers to change destinies, most notably his, when he wrote an attention- getting essay about a hurricane. This display of over-the-top eloquence was enough to start a subscription fund to send him to college in New York. Five years later this precocious figure had become an aide de camp to George Washington, who called Hamilton "my boy." The latter half of Alexander Hamilton is the more vivid, perhaps because the man was left adrift and reckless after a meteoric early career. In time the residue of political infighting tainted Hamilton's reputation and colored his legacy. "Many of these slaveholding populists were celebrated by posterity as tribunes of the common people," Chernow writes. "Meanwhile, the self-made Hamilton, a fervent abolitionist and a staunch believer in meritocracy, was vil-lainized in American history textbooks as an apologist of privilege and wealth." Chernow's Hamilton becomes most lifelike on the eve of his death. The details of his feud with Vice President Burr are presented with a terrible inevitability. As for Hamilton's funeral, a newspaper account called it "enough to melt a monument of marble." Only here does Chernow present the full measure of a tireless, complex and ultimately self -destructive man. HEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERS Hardcover fiction Q Glorious Appearing, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. The Da Vine Code. by Dn Brown. P Nighttime Is My Time, by Mary Higgins Clark. The Five People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom. Q Reckless Abandon, by Stuart Woods. The Last Juror, by John Grisham. Q Angels & Demons, by Dan Brown. Can You Keep a Secret?, by Sophie Kinsella. Firestorm, by Iris Johansen. pi The Confusion, by Neal Stephenson. Non-fiction O Against All Enemies, by Richard A. Clarke. Q Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss. Q Three Weeks With My Brother, by Nicholas Sparks and Micah Sparks. Worse Than Watergate, bv John W. Dean. 0 Ten Minutes From Normal, hu Karen Huches. Deliver Us From Evil, by Sean Hannity. P Founding Mothers, by Cokie Roberts. Caddy for Life, by John Felnstein. Q Farewell, Jackie, by Edward Klein, jrn The Passion, photos Irom Mel Gibson's The Passon of the Christ. Paperback fiction 0 Birthright, by Nora Roberts. P Angels A Demons, by Dan Brown. P The Second Time Around, by Mary Higgins Clark. Full Blast, by Janet Evanovich and Charlotte Hughes. The Reluctant Suitor, by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. Non-fiction Reading Lolita In Tehran, by Azar Nafisi. P The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson. P Moneyball, by Michael Lewis. Trump: The Art of the Deal, by Donald J. Trump with Tony Schwartz. P Holy Blood, Holy Grail, by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln. NEW AND NOTABLE 'Eventide' Kent Hand (Knopf, $24.95) Critics swooned over Haruf 's last book, the spare and lovely Plainsong. In his new novel he returns to the town of Holt, Colo., and to Harold and Raymond McPherson, elderly bachelor brothers who work their ranch near Holt. The book begins as they see Victoria Roubi-deaux and her young daughter off to a distant city where Victoria will attend college (she was 17 and pregnant in Plain-song when the brothers took her in and grew to love her). There are other familiar characters and some new ones, engaged in stories that intersect in small or substantial ways. To tell you what happens even early in the book would ruin its emotional 'clout, and we hope other reviewers keep those secrets, too. Suffice it to say that there are very moving moments, and a few missteps this time. A story line about an indigent family is not really convincing, nor is the seeming ease with which Raymond gives himself up to a new experience in his life. And the ending is abrupt. We wanted more. Maybe Haruf will take us to Holt again someday. He'll visit the Valley soon see the books calendar. Anne StephensonSpecial for The Republic THE BOOK OF RULE r-&r -p. H0W1MC W0BID IS GOVEflNfO !!' i-A&tm hi. - t MliiMMii-li i'l II Ll I 'The Book of Rule' (DK. $30) As we are reminded constantly, and sometimes none too gently, our concerns are global now, and our lives are affected more and more by what happens elsewhere. Here's a primer on countries around the world and how they are governed. It's not as dull as it sounds we found it to be a bit of a page-turner, once we got started. The table of contents is interesting in itself as a visual lesson on proportion: Under "Theocratic Rule" there are two entries (Iran and Vatican City) and under "Military Rule" only four (Pakistan, the Congo, Myanmar and the Sudan), but the list of countries under "Democratic Rule" runs two pages. A "Transitional Rule" category is a rogue's gallery of troubled spots, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Rwanda. The section on each , country is succinct and easy to absorb and tells us things we should know and ponder. For example, a small monarchy called Lesotho is entirely surrounded by South Africa and is so overrun by AIDS that by 2017 the average life expectancy will be about 37. Think of that the next time you worry about the price of gas. -jfrnri 'Take Me, Take Me With You' Lauren Kelly (Ecco, $22.95) Joyce Carol Oates adopts a new pseudonym with this "novel of suspense," in which most of the drama is of the psychological variety. It begins with a flashback to 1971, as a car comes down a mountain road toward a crossing, on a collision course with a train coming from the east. Jump ahead 22 years to the scarred face of Lara Quade, a Princeton research assistant who was 6 when she and her brother were in that car with their unstable mother. We're still wondering who died in the crash when Lara goes off to a concert, having received a ticket from an anonymous benefactor. When the brutish man in the next seat flirts with her, she learns that he got his ticket in the same mysterious way. Lara recklessly takes him home with her. Will he harm her? Or later, when she knows who he is, will she sleep with him? Whether it's murder, incest or death on the tracks, Oates never takes the plunge into any of the plot twists she hints at. Instead, she sticks with the strange workings of Lara's mind, a weak substitute for the real mayhem we're lead to expect. Motir than tai rnuiD t Meim nraH THf Motnim '1, . or Of OHMTUT CHiri u .-4 'Mom's Secret Recipe File' Edited by Chris Styler (Hyperion, $17.95) If you aren't already tired of Rocco DiSpirito's mom, you might want to celebrate Mother's Day by whipping up her "Potato and Green Pepper Frittata," or her ominously-titled "Pasta for Breath Only a Mother Could Love." DiSpirito took a break from the angst on television's The Restaurant to join 32 fellow chefs (we uses the term loosely one of the contributors is Frank Perdue, known not for his cooking but for selling chicken) who offer recipes from their mothers' secret files. Among the others are Jacques Pepin, Anthony Bour-dain, Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Nick Malgieri, Rose Levy Beranbaum, Marcus Samuels-son, Ming Tsai, Mollie Katzen and Steven Raichlen. The book includes everything from "Gooey Chocolate Cake" (a recipe known to mothers everywhere) to fried smelts to a couple of variations on gnocchi. Part of the proceeds will go to the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children, a resource and advocacy organization founded in 1989 as an affiliate of the International Rescue Committee. fM,ui..o rYM.i j Aw J' s ' ' ' 1 VA ElAGAZiNES Dan KincaidThe Arizona Republic r 'Utne' Americans are obsessed with knowing who they (and others) "really" are, and Utne's leading package of article looks at a popular path to finding answers: personality typing. Here you'll read that sorting people into basic personality types is as old as astrology and as modern as the Myers-Briggs inventory. Although such typing, you'll read, can result in mechanical and damaging classifying, used properly it can helping us break out of the boxes of race, gender and work roles and enable us to put our gifts to use. You'll find a short guide to seven personality-typing systems: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Enneagram, Howard Gardner's "seven intelligences," the four temperaments (this goes back to Hippocrates), Ayurvedic types from Hindu holistic medicine, William Sheldon's body-mind types (think endopmorph) and Human Design. Utne's staff culls books, magazines and the Web for stimulating articles and tidbits. 1 1 A RlKll'sKlUli-fl IrK-fcLjiilTU - II LA 'W Uma Thurman, sensuously transfigured and wrapped in gold Lurex from Louis Vuitton, is the cover story of this flashy fashion and wealthy-lifestyle magazine. The 34-year-old star of the Kill Bill movies says she knew the billowing, Tyrolean-style Christian Lacroix gown she wore Oscar night would land her on worst-dressed lists nationwide but was aware that everyone else would be wearing the standard, perfect-body-hugging sheathes. "You get bored," Thurman says. Reflecting obliquely on her feeling for ex-hubby Ethan Hawke (she's now involved with hotelier Andre Balasz), she says, "I don't think you ever do stop loving a person," adding, "I think you can hate them a little." Thurman also denies rumors she has had a (gasp) nose job and presses interviewer Robert Haskell's finger to her schnoz so that he can check for himself. You'll also find supermodel Naomi Campbell showing off some extreme styles. azjcerrtralcom To read a review of Hispanic, visit arts.azcentral.com. Artificial Woman' is real enough to scare us 'Adventures of the Artificial Woman' Thomas Berger (Simon & Schuster, 198 pages, $22) By Janet Maslin New York Times Adventures of the Artificial Woman, Thomas Berger's hightech Pygmalion, melds the wizardry of animatronics with the domestic arts. This is a novel in which a theme-park technician whose forte is animatronic orangutans surreptitiously creates a fake bride. Popular culture is strewn with such soon-to-be-treacherous creatures, from HAL of 2001: A Space Odyssey to The Stepford Wives. But Berger's version is ' friskier than most, even if his story also has a decidedly porcine angle. Berger's main man, Ellery Pierce, gets more than he bargained for after he dreams up the kind of woman who can count lap dancing among her most useful talents. Her name is Phyllis, and Ellery passes her off as his new spouse. She has nice warm skin (heated by oil) and a supply of stock phrases, from "God, how I want you, Ellery" to "I'm really enjoying myself." And she's good enough to fool the postman with such remarks as "I saw some crocuses in the side yard." Because the mailman is a stranger, she does surprise him with an "I've heard so much about you," but Ellery is more than willing to do the necessary fine-tuning. Soon Phyllis has figured out how to use Ellery's credit cards, order a cookbook and prepare a puree of parsnips for the neighbors. "Phyllis was grandstanding as a newlywed," Ellery tells himself. "Was that good or bad?" Either way, it's all too appropriate to the six-person dinner party under way. It later turns out that two more of the six guests happened to be animatronic, and that one of them was purchased on eBay. It doesn't take long for this marriage to fail, and for Phyllis to wind up alone in the world, recharging her batteries at the laptop stations in public libraries. After that, even though she doesn't eat, she needs to earn a living. Because Berger's imagination is not unlike Ellery's, stripping, prostitution and phone sex are the first income sources that come to Phyllis' mind. A modicum of humor does emerge from Phyllis' literal- minded ineptitude as a sex object. But there is something better in the book's idea that these failings, while awkward in life, may be perfect for show business. Eventually, she finds stardom in big-budget action movies. While Phyllis' thought processes develop, her so- called life follows a no less mechanistic pattern. Her celebrity is followed by the inevitable fall and is closely watched by the predatory press. She is said to have lost her spark and put on weight, even though neither change is physically possible. And when she sinks to just the right level of has- been status, she has the requisite credentials for talk shows and self-help books. A whole new set of possibilities await. Now reunited with Ellery, Phyllis is also ready in the diabolical move toward which the whole novel has been progressing for politics. In fact she is ready to run for president of the United States. "Ellery," Phyllis says, "you'd better tell me what the presidency is. I have accumulated an amount of knowledge, but there are still gaps in it, I'm sure." m or Hi L jr a a HTif i c ii womoh Lw 1 Thomas iiec mm mm ijsij GS Events Celebration of Latino Authors: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 8. Morning writers workshop, 10 a.m. -noon, led by Stella Pope Duarte and Rita Maria Magdelano. Readings and discussions by respected Latino authors. 1 p.m. Pope Duarte; 2 p.m. 0. Ricardo Pimentel; 3 p.m. Magdelano; 4 p.m. Alfredo Vea Jr. Glendale Public Library, 5959 W. Brown St. Free. (623) 930-3573. Signingsreadings llisha Newhouse: 2 p.m. May 2. Signs Mystery Shopping Made Simple. Barnes & Noble, 21001 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix. Free. (480) 538-8520. Sue Ellen Cooper; 7 p.m. May 4. Signs The Red Hat Society: Fun and Friendship After Fifty. Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe. Free. (480) 730-0205 Harlan Coben: 7 p.m. May 4. Signs Just One Look. The Poisoned Pen, 4014 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale. Free, (480) 947-2974. Dorothy Rosencrans: 7 p.m. May 5. Signs Playing Around: My Adventures on the Zone.com. Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe Free. (480) 730-0205. Earlene Fowler: 7 p.m. May 5. Signs Broken Dishes. The Poisoned Pen, 4014 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale. Free. (480) 947-2974. Debbie Macomberi 7 p.m. May 6. Signs The Shop on Blossom Street. Barnes & Noble, 21001 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix. Free. (480) 538-8520. Gary Quinn: 7 p.m. May 6. Discusses May the Angels Be With You. Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe. Free. (480) 730-0205. Rachel Anderson: 7 p.m. May 6. Signs A Nurses World, Volume III: Things I Didn't Learn in Nursing School. Barnes & Noble, 10500 N. 90th St., Scottsdale. Free. (480) 391-0048. Judith Cutler, Edward Marston: 7 p.m. May 7. Cutler signs Power on Her Own. Marston signs Murder on the Marmora, The Railway Detective, and Honolulu Playoff. The Poisoned Pen, 4014 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale. Free. (480) 947-2974. Alana Woods: 1-3 p.m. May 8. Signs The Healing Touch of Music. Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe. Free. (480) 730-0205. Analea McGarey: 2 p.m. May 8. Signs Born to Heal: The Lifestory of Holistic Pioneer Gladys Taylor McGarey, M.D.. Barnes & Noble, 10500 N. 90th St., Scottsdale. Free. (480) 391-0048. Darren Shan: 2 p.m. May 8. Reads from and signs Hunters of the Dusk. For children 10 and older and their parents. Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe. Free. (480) 730-0205. Sylvia Nobel: 1-3 p.m. May 8. Signs Chasing Rayna. Waldenbooks and More, 302 E. Bell Road, Phoenix. Free. (602) 863-2424. Gloria Feldfc 7 p.m. May 10. Signs The War on Choice: The Right-Wing Attack on Women's Rights and How to Fight Back. Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe. Free. (480) 730-0205. Denise Hamilton, Julia Spencer-Fleming: 7 p.m. May 1L Hamilton will sign Last Lullaby and Spencer-Fleming will sign Out of the Deep I Cry. The Poisoned Pen, 4014 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale. Free. (480) 947-2974. Hal Giatzen 6:30 p.m. May 1L Signs A Fugue in Hell's Kitchen. The Poisoned Pen, 4014 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale. Free. (480) 947-2974.

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