July Book Reviews

Reviews by Len Oppenheim

History and politics are not areas in which I have done much reading. Like everyone else I am interested in contemporary issues and elections but my reading tastes have not lead me to read many history or political books. Happily for me, I happened to read an excellent review of The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years Reporting in Washington, by Robert D. Novak and I decided to purchase and read this 600 page memoir.

I had seen Novak on TV as I flipped channels, or caught a sound bite on a news show, but I knew next to nothing about him. The book review by Stephen Cox, in Liberty magazine caught my interest because this autobiography sounded exceptionally frank and “un-self-serving”. Furthermore the book piqued my interest because it appeared to be heavy on “inside the beltway” knowledge and exposure or insight into the leading politicians, including presidents, of the last 50 years.

Not only was I not disappointed; the book exceeded my expectations. It was very forthright and full of revealing interviews and insights which I found totally seductive. Novak himself is a very interesting character. More importantly, as a reporter he came into close contact with all the big name politicians of the last 50 years and his stories shed light on many events of great historical importance.

While people more politically knowledgeable than I might view Novak as a conservative spokesperson, this is hardly the case. He voted for both Kennedy and Johnson, and was “a lead dog” in the trail that led to Nixon’s resignation.

I think his description of how he became known as “The Prince of Darkness” is characteristically open, honest, revealing, and is helpful in understanding the tone of this book: “I had a grim-visaged demeanor that led a friend, John J Lindsay of the Washington Post and later Newsweek to label me “The Prince of Darkness”—not because I was then a hard conservative but because of my unsmiling pessimism about the prospects for America and Western civilization.”

Rowly Evans, Novak’s co-author, and Novak penned a highly successful syndicated column that broke numerous important Washington stories. In a cover article about Evans and Novak and their column, the reporter Julius Duscha depicted them as having no ideological or political bias in their column. He described them as “giving everyone a hard time.” Hubert Humphrey was quoted as saying: “Evans and Novak would make conflict in heaven.”

Novak is an old fashioned hard nosed and hard-drinking journalist. His anecdotes and stories are fascinating, and paint a very accurate portrait of how the business of politics has been conducted over the last fifty years. He pulls no punches and exposes many of the lies and foibles of at least a half dozen presidents and a large number of senators, representatives and party functionaries. Novak is a feisty little man who even resorted to fisticuffs on a few occasions.

I believe that most readers would like this book as much as I did. I kept finding the insights into our presidents more and more interesting and revealing.

This is a recent publication, hardbound, and a New York Times Bestseller. Our policy is to discount hardcover books by 20%.

Matrix Energetics: The Science and Art of Transformation, by Richard Bartlett, D.C., N.D., was recommended to me by a friend who is very “plugged in” to the new age and spiritual healing community. He gave this book his highest recommendation and assured me that Bartlett and his healings and seminars are very effective and to be trusted and taken seriously. That is why I read this book.

Bartlett is no run of the mill guy, and his writing is certainly capable of expanding horizons and/or breaking boundaries. No question that Bartlett has taken some of the mind-expanding aspects of quantum physics and married them to a new paradigm of healing.

A lot of this stuff is quite “freaky” but also very convincing. As noted by C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D., president of Holos University Graduate Seminary, founding president of the American Holistic Medical Association, and author of Life Beyond 100 wrote (quoted on the book jacket): “Matrix Energetics applies the principles of quantum physics as a unique and effective approach to healing. This is the essence of energy medicine.”

This is a fascinating story. It is very easy to read and comprehend, and it makes perfect sense to me and many others who are quoted in the book. The proof is in the pudding and it appears the results in healing are quite remarkable and repeatable. The author claims this technique requires no special healing or energetic qualities by the practitioner. It is just a channel of the natural functioning of the laws of quantum physics.

The book flowed well and my sense is that the author is highly credible. Naturally I strongly recommend it to everyone. I would especially think that anyone who has a condition or situation that might be amenable to healing ought to read the book and give the technique a try. If anyone does so, please let me know if it works or does not.

If it does nothing else, I do believe this book will open up the reader to the infinite possibilities inherent in the “Zero Point Energy Field”.

Over the last few months I have been enjoying watching DVD’s and/or listening to CD’s produced by The Teaching Company. (Browse their website www.theteachingcompany.com ) Two of the more interesting courses I have taken are Biology and Behavior, and Understanding the Brain. I have found these courses most fascinating and they have stimulated a very strong interest in me in the miraculous functioning of the human brain.

As a result of these stimulating lectures I have decided to read for a third time one of the most incredible and stimulating books I have ever read, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sacks. Obviously, if I think this book is worth reading three times I would urge all of our customers to read it at least once.

Sacks is a neurologist. He wrote Awakenings, which was made into a very successful movie many of us have enjoyed. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat recounts remarkable stories of individuals who have suffered damage to their brains, diseases to their brains, or, in the case of the “idiot savants” were just born with brains which functioned very different from the norm. Sacks does a great job of personalizing each story and plumbing the depths of what it can be like to walk the road of life on a path or paths that make perception, consciousness, and/or reality a far cry from what we consider to be the norm.

Sacks covers many of the classic cases of how most unusual behavior can result from either brain trauma, disease, or an accident of birth. He opens up a magnificent bag of tricks that nature plays which can only boggle our mind and lead us to some very deep philosophical questions concerning personality, individuality, consciousness, and the self.

These cases are riveting and mind-boggling. I am confident that just about anyone who reads this book will find it to be enjoyable and mind expanding.

I hope everyone has enjoyed a happy and safe July 4th holiday and the remainder of the summer brings lots of good times with time to read.

Reviews by Tony Kainauskus

Iran has been in the news daily, each day bringing a more threatening headline.

If you are at all interested in the recent history of this volatile country (from the period of the Shah’s to the current fundamentalists.) The Shah of Shah’s by Ryszard Kapuscinski is a must read. This book is not only a historical review of the Iran’s history for the last 40 years, but a page turner as well.

It reads as if you and the author are sitting by a warm fireplace on a cold winter’s night and he is relating fascinating anecdote after fascinating anecdote of the events leading up to the Iranian revolution. Ryszard’s book demonstrates the power of how history is changed by just one man saying no to tyranny. If you were to read just one book on Iran, this is the one! I do not usually get into history books, but this one enthralled me from the first page.

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. is a first hand account of Jill’s experience of a massive stroke. She became a silent witness to her body’s breakdown and subsequent healing. Observing her left brain dying she experienced the right brain taking over, with the corresponding feelings of euphoric nirvana, a deep feeling of spiritual oneness and total peace. Because the author is herself a brain scientist her astute observations become even more compelling.

If you have yet to do so, watch her powerful video on Youtube., then buy her book. This is the link


Jill states that the stroke is the best thing that ever happened to her, having taught her that the feeling of nirvana is never more than a thought away. Her remarkable insights are for me verification of much of the true spiritual/Advaita literature. I found this to be a fascinating book.

“I was, by anyone’s standard, no longer normal. In my own unique way, I had become severely mentally ill. And I must say, there was both freedom and challenge for me in recognizing that our perception of the external world, and our relationship to it, is a product of neurological circuitry. For all those years of my life, I really had been a figment of my own imagination” Jill Bolte Taylor.

Do you enjoy the comics in your local paper, well put a Zen twist to The Far Side and you come up with Buddha Laughing. This book is a wonderful and hysterical collection of comics that will tickle the funny Buddhist bone in you. Laughter is wonderful for the soul, and this booklet will no doubt bring you to laughing consciousness.

Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor (AD121-180). He was also a great philosopher. A recent collection of his thoughts have been compiled by Jacob Needleman & John P. Piazza: The Essential Marcus Aurelius. Reading his quotes make you feel as if you are sitting at the feet of a great Christian mystic or an Indian guru.

Here are some examples of the quotes I liked best:

“Whenever you are focused by circumstances to be disturbed in some way, quickly return to yourself and do not loose your footing any longer than is absolutely necessary, for you will have more control over your internal harmony by continually returning to it”

“The person who sees the present has already seen everything – all that has come from eternity and all that will happen in the infinite future- for all things are of one ancestry and likeness”

Quotes such as these and many others make you wonder if this a Roman emperor or a preincarnation of Ramesh Balsekar talking.

This is wonderful inspiring book and would make a great gift for a young person starting out on his or her own.

25 years ago it began spontaneously, this identity of bookseller. And one day will end just as spontaneously. I will remove one identity and wait for a new one to arrive.

After witnessing times good and bad , the power of attachment still yields a mighty grasp., to let go is hard. Old identities want to linger and continue, while new ones wait on the other side patiently waiting their eventual turn.

Throughout our journey parts of us cease to exist and greater parts come into being… a blissful pain.

What is left after the sadness, happiness, impatience, anger, loneliness and all that I am not… is just me: the silent holiness. Get rid of the pieces and burn them. What is left but God? How can God be not found inside me?. For if God is not found in my silence, where will this God be found?