Tag Archives: author

Shoshana Johnson Pens Her Story In “I’m Still Standing”

Posted by guest contributor: Shanti

Shoshana Johnson poses for a picture in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010

Shoshana Johnson poses for a picture in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010 (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

“In March of 2003, when Operation Iraqi Freedom was only days old, world headlines were made when a U.S. army convoy was attacked in the city of An-Nasiriyah en route to Baghdad. Several soldiers were killed and others were taken prisoner.

Jessica Lynch became the face and name associated with this tragedy, but another female soldier, Shoshana Johnson, was also wounded and captured in the ambush. A video of Shoshana being interrogated by her captors was soon broadcast on Spanish-language television and then picked up by American media. Shoshana had become the first black female prisoner of war in United States history. She was held for twenty-two days.

When Shoshana returned to the United States, she received numerous awards for her valor, including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Prisoner of War medals. She appeared on news networks and national television shows such as Oprah, Ellen, The Tonight Show, and Larry King Live, but she was bound by a military gag order. She was unable to discuss what really happened in Iraq — until now.

Shoshana holds nothing back in this harrowing account of an ordinary woman caught in an extraordinary circumstance. She reveals decisions made by higher-ups that may have led to the capture, describes the pain of post-traumatic stress disorder, and shares the surprising story of how a specialist in a maintenance company ended up on the front lines of war.

Divulging personal emotions and frustrations while raising fresh political issues, I’m Still Standing is the never-before-told and much anticipated story of the headline-making ambush, capture, and rescue described with the exceptional bravery and candor of a single mom and soldier who became an American hero. Source

CNN’s Larry King Live ~ Transcript of Interview with Shoshana Johnson aired February 2, 2010

KING: We welcome Shoshana Johnson back to LARRY KING LIVE. She is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She and other members of the 507th Maintenance Company were taken captive March 23, 2003. She was held prisoner 22 days. Author of a terrific new book I’m Still Standing; From Captive US Soldier to Free Citizen, My Journey Home.”

Before we get into this, what do you make of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell controversy?

SHOSHANA JOHNSON, FORMER POW: Silly. If men and women want to serve in our military, I really don’t care who they want to sleep with. It’s all about serving your country.

KING: So you would repeal it?

JOHNSON: Yes, definitely.

KING: It’s been seven years since you were a POW. Do you think about it a lot?

I'm Still Standing by Shoshana JohnsonJOHNSON: Still. Very much so. The conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq is still in the media, so it’s hard to forget.

KING: How were you caught?

JOHNSON: During an ambush, vehicles were disabled. Basically, it seemed like the whole city of Nazariyah came out and participated in the ambush. I was shot and — shot and caught, basically.

Read the entire transcript here
Read a sample chapter

Shoshana Johnson tells her side of the story to Matt Lauer of The Today Show

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Shoshana Johnson actually said she wanted to tell her story, because there were a lot of distortions and half truths about the details of her capture. She wanted to set the record straight. I appreciate Shoshana’s resolve and passion for not only surviving the trauma of being a POW, but her courage and drive to THRIVE.~Shanti

3 Comments

Filed under African-Americans, Army, Books, CNN, Culture, Entertainment, History, Iraq, Larry King, Larry King Live!, Marines, Media and Entertainment, Middle East, Military, NBC, News, Politics, Television, Terrorism, The Today Show, TV Shows, Uncategorized, United States, Veterans, Video/YouTube, War, Women's Issues

44-D’s Book Diaries: A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

Posted by: Audiegrl

My husband picked this book up for me this week. In Northern Illinois we are used to very harsh winters, and living less that 20 miles from the Wisconsin border, he thought I’d enjoy this. He was right…Now, I’d like to recommend it to you.

A Reliable Wife: Rural Wisconsin, 1907. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt stands stands alone on the train platform anxiously awaiting the arrival of a visitor. The woman who arrives is not who he expects. This woman, this reliable wife, will decide whether Ralph Truitt lives or dies.

An Interview with Robert Goolrick

blank

The plotting of A Reliable Wife seems very deliberately crafted, as readers must constantly change their expectations of these characters and their actions. There is one surprise after another as the story unfolds. Did you think about the reader’s experience as you were crafting your storytelling, or did you write the story as you saw it?

I wanted to give readers, first and foremost, a good solid story and a reading experience that is as sensual as it is cerebral. I thought about the story for years before I started writing, then started it several times and stopped, and finally just committed myself to writing down what I had already committed to memory, the story of three figures in a barren landscape. I thought a great deal about the myth of Phaedra, and her entanglements with Theseus and Hyppolitus. So I thought I knew pretty much the whole thing.

But you’re always surprised. I was surprised at Ralph’s reaction to the knowledge that he was being poisoned. I was surprised that the brief encounter with Alice in St. Louis became, for me, the emotional fulcrum of the book. And I was surprised by Catherine’s passion for knowledge, for the comfort she takes in the reading rooms of public libraries.

You’ve mentioned that Michael Lesy’s Wisconsin Death Trip was one of the major inspirations for your novel. Can you talk a little about Lesy’s book and its relationship to your own?

Michael Lesy’s remarkable book is an examination of the lives of ordinary citizens of a small town in northern Wisconsin in 1896. It is a collection of photographs taken by the local photographer and brief newspaper accounts of the surprisingly erratic lives of the men and women who endured a hard life in a poor year in a bleak landscape.

Ralph and Catherine and Antonio are vivid, larger than life. I wanted to plant them very securely in the world, and the world they inhabit is the one depicted by Michael Lesy. It is a world in which no one is safe, in which the roof can always cave in when you least expect it.

I’ve always thought the lives of ordinary people are far more fascinating than the lives of the rich and powerful. An account of a man burying his father is more fascinating to me than a politician’s description of lunch with Henry Kissinger. A snapshot taken at the beach on a summer’s day is more memorable than any fine art photography. They show much more clearly the preciousness and grace of life.

Michael Lesy shows us how fragile life is, how hard it can be to get through the day without running off the rails.

Best-selling Author, Robert Goolrick

Best-selling Author, Robert Goolrick

Robert Goolrick is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir The End of the World as We Know It. This is his first novel. He lives in New York City.
blank

Download the entire interview
Read an Excerpt of A Reliable Wife
NPR’s ‘Reliable Wife’: Madness And Passion In Wisconsin

1 Comment

Filed under Art, Book Diaries Series, Books, Crime, Culture, Entertainment, History, Media and Entertainment, Pop Culture, Robert Goolrick, Uncategorized, United States, Weather, Wisconsin, Women's Issues

Go, Tell Michelle: You’ve Read the Book, Now See the Play

Posted by Audiegrl

“When you and your family go to the spot under the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, where Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, you will take with you our history of dreams deferred; however, you will also take with you our prayers and hopes for an America that is ready to build and dream anew.”~~Excerpt from a letter to Michelle Obama

Go, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First Lady was first published in January 2009. In December 2009, “Go, Tell Michelle” was named by book and movie critic Kam Williams as one of the 10 Best Black Books of 2009. My daughter gave this to me as my Mother’s Day present last year, and I highly recommend it. I thought it would be a great way to start off the new year (and new decade), to introduce the book to those who have not read it yet, and also give me a chance to provide a photo slideshow of our First Lady during the first year.

Go, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First LadyGo, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First Lady”, the award winning volume of 100 letters to Michelle Obama written shortly after the 2008 election of President Barack Obama has been adapted as a dramatic production. Drs. Barbara Seals Nevergold and Peggy Brooks-Bertram, co-authors and editors of the book, have been working with Dr. Robert Knopf, chair of University at Buffalo’s Drama Department on this dramatization. The outcome of this collaboration is Dr. Knopf’s adaptation, a one hour play that features three readers.

Dr. Knopf describes “Go, Tell Michelle: the Play” as more than a dramatic reading: “It is a montage of lost voices, personal stories, and heartfelt emotions unleashed by the tide of history that has swept the nation.” Under Dr. Knopf’s direction, storyteller Karima Amin, Brooks-Bertram and Seals Nevergold will give voice to the stories and poems in this dramatic adaptation.

The play will debut on January 19th at University at Buffalo’s Allen Hall on the South Campus on the eve of the first anniversary of President Obama’s historic inauguration. Performance time is 7:00pm and Jericka Duncan, reporter from WIVB-TV will act as Emcee. A second performance will take place at the Frank E. Merriweather Jr. Library on January 20th. Both performances will be free and open to the public.

The Warmth, Style, and Grace of First Lady Michelle Obama

This is the short biography of Michelle Obama that introduced the Obama family to families across America. It originally played the first night of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "Michelle Obama: South Side Girl", posted with vodpod

Drs. Barbara Seals Nevergold and Peggy Brooks-Bertram on C-SPAN Book TV (03/28/09)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

20 Comments

Filed under African-Americans, Art, Barack Obama, Books, Change, Chicago, IL, Children, Christmas at the White House, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Fashion, First Daughters, First Lady Michelle Obama, History, Media and Entertainment, Plays, Politics, Pop Culture, Pres. Barack Obama, Presidents, Toys for Tots, Uncategorized, United States, Video/YouTube, Washington, DC, Women's Issues

Christmas in the Age of Dickens

Christmas as we know it was born in the Victorian era, and Charles Dickens is often credited with contributing to its creation. From 1649-1660, England had been governed as a Commonwealth, led by Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans, who believed that Christmas and several other holidays had come from ancient pagan ceremonies. They tried to cleanse the church and the nation of what they thought were lingering pagan traditions, and in 1644 they actually outlawed the celebration of Christmas in England. In 1660 the Puritans were overthrown, the monarchy was restored with Charles II as king, and a diminished version of the Christmas holiday returned. Great feasting and drinking was done in the name of Christmas in the 18th century, but the nation had lost its spiritual and emotional investment in the season.

Santa Claus from Harper’s Bazaar, December 1867

Santa Claus from Harper’s Bazaar, December 1867

In the 1840s, Dickens produced a series of extremely popular Christmas tales for the purpose of regenerating the true spirit of Christmas.

A Christmas Carol, the first of Dickens’s Christmas Books, is Dickens’s most beloved and widely acclaimed fictional piece, cherished for its simple expression of what relations between human beings should be, at Christmas time and throughout the year. In A Christmas Carol, Dickens gives Scrooge’s nephew these words, which sum up the Christmas spirit this enduring tale has preserved for generations past and generations to come:

I have always thought of Christmas time…as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they were really fellow-passengers to the grave and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.

“Santa Claus”  1895 Library of Congress

“Santa Claus” 1895 Library of Congress

The English Christmas transformed in the mid-1800s, partly as a result of the traditions described in A Christmas Carol. The pre-Victorian-era Christmas was gradually reshaped to reflect the Victorian era’s religious revival and its growing humanitarianism and romanticism. The presence of the Industrial Revolution was felt in a newly-created, large and visible lower class unable to celebrate Christmas with the same luxurious abandon as their wealthier neighbors. The Victorians’ “New Christmas” stressed “the traditional values of neighborliness, charity, and good will” and emphasized the obligation of the rich to the poor.

The New Christmas met with some resistance, however, mostly from Puritans, Quakers and others who disapproved of the mingling of liquor and merriment with a sacred holiday, and who were disturbed by some of the tradition’s origins in pagan ritual. Writing in 1871, G.K. Chesterton provides an insight into the mid-19th century mindset with his claim that:

…in fighting for Christmas [Dickens] was fighting for the old European festival, Pagan and Christian, for that trinity of eating, drinking and praying which to moderns appears irreverent, for the holy day which is really a holiday.

In spite of its detractors, the New Christmas gradually took hold, and the Victorians established many of the customs that are at the center of today’s traditional Christmas celebration. In 1840, when Prince Albert celebrated the holiday at Windsor Castle by presenting his family with the “German” Christmas tree, all of England followed suit. The festival began to focus predominantly on the family, particularly on children. The first Christmas cards appeared in 1843, the year that A Christmas Carol was published. The originally pagan ritual of caroling was revived, gift giving grew in importance, and the traditional Christmas dinner began to take shape.

Christmas Customs in Victorian England

“Christmas Tree at Windsor Castle” wood engraving by J.L. Williams from The Illustrated London News

“Christmas Tree at Windsor Castle” wood engraving by J.L. Williams from The Illustrated London News

Charity: Christmas was a time to remember the less fortunate, and a host of charitable causes stepped up their appeals during the holiday season. Well-to-do individuals often visited poorhouses and other charitable institutions on Christmas Day, when a holiday dinner was served to the residents.

Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, was traditionally the day when servants and tradesmen were paid for services rendered during the year: money was deposited in the Christmas box.

Tree: Christmas trees became popular after an illustration of Victoria, Albert, and their children decorating a Christmas tree was published in The Illustrated London News in 1848. Victorian Christmas trees were elaborately decorated with trinkets such as tin soldiers, dolls, whistles, candies, fruit, nuts, and candles. Many decorations were homemade, and children often helped make garlands and paper decorations.

Beverages:Here we go a-wassailing,” begins a familiar carol. No Victorian Christmas was complete without a Wassail Bowl, a strong mulled punch made of sweetened and spiced ale or wine and garnished with roasted crab apples. Drinking the wassail from the same cup was the fashion.

A Christmas Carol title page

A Christmas Carol title page

Dance: In A Christmas Carol, partygoers at the Fezziwigs’ indulge in spirited dancing, akin to modern day square dancing. Another traditional dance was the Pavon or Pavane, named after the peacock because the movements of the gentlemen in their mantles and the ladies in their long gowns resembled a peacock’s sweeping steps.

Decorations: Then as now, halls were decked with holly, ivy, red berries, and of course, mistletoe. Young sweethearts kissed under the mistletoe and plucked a berry for each kiss.

Spectacles: The annual holiday excursion for families in the Victorian era was to a Christmas pantomime, a fairy tale or other traditional story adapted for the stage with music, spectacle and stock characters.

Christmas revels at prominent noblemen’s dwellings might include masques: short allegorical dramas performed by ladies and gentlemen in elaborate costumes, masks and headdresses, often ending in a formal dance.

Charles Dickens Biography

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens was born in Potsmouth in 1812. When he was 10, his family moved to London. They were very poor and his father was even arrested (when Charles was 12) because of their debts. Charles had to start working – at first in the factory and later in solicitor´s office.

He was always very keen reader and later he also started to write. His first work was published in 1833. He got married in 1836 and in the same year he started working on Pickwick Papers – he finished it a year later. The book was extremely successful and he became well-known. Within seven years he wrote next five novels and created unforgettable characters (as Scrooge from A Christmas Carol). Dickens very often referred to the situation of poor and wanted to improve their social condition. He wrote books as Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Pickwick Papers and A Christmas Carol and was considered to be one of the most famous writers of the 19th century. He was very energetic and remarkable. He had ten children, published his own magazines, traveled a lot and also acted. When he died in 1870, he was working on his 15th novel.

A Christmas Carol Illustrations

John Leech provided eight illustrations, four woodcuts and four hand colored etchings, for A Christmas Carol published in December 1843.


Related Article

Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Meets the 21st Century


Back to the Happy Holidays Main Page

3 Comments

Filed under Art, Books, Charity, Children, Christianity, Christmas, Culture, England, Entertainment, Europe, History, Holidays, Hollywood, Media and Entertainment, Movies, Music, Philanthropy, Pop Culture, Television, TV Shows, Uncategorized, United States, US, World

44-D’s Book Diaries: Abe Lincoln Makes An Awesome Vampire Hunter

Posted by Audiegrl

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

The storyline…When Abraham Lincoln was nine years old, his mother died from an ailment called the “milk sickness.” Only later did he learn that his mother’s deadly affliction was actually the work of a local vampire, seeking to collect on Abe’s father’s unfortunate debts. When the truth became known to the young Abraham Lincoln, he wrote in his journal: “henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become learned in all things–a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose.” While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for reuniting the North with the South and abolishing slavery from our country, no one has ever understood his valiant fight for what it really was. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years. Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time–all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War, and uncovering the massive role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

That’s a history re-write as seen by Seth Grahame-Smith. Whether it’s real or not, all I know is one thing. Grahame-Smith’s new book sold at auction on Wednesday. According to Publisher’s Weekly, he landed a two-book deal with Grand Central Press, with a $575,000 advance. Believe me, $575,000 is real as real as it gets.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

Claudia Ballard at William Morris handled the deal, which was for North American rights only. It’s rumored that a film proposal has already started circulating and that William Morris is also handling film rights. Seth Grahame-Smith’s current novel, Pride, Prejudice & Zombies has sold has more than 120,000 copies since April, and is in development into a 2011 movie starring Natalie Portman.

Like the cover? Vampire Hunter’s striking cover art shows the noble Lincoln, standing in bloody footprints, holding an ax behind his back. Spoiler alert: The back cover reveals what else he’s holding: the head of a vampire.

As Katey Rich of CinemaBlend puts it, “why not a vampire-hunting Abe Lincoln? Our 16th President is quite popular right now, given all the Obama comparisons. But how much more would we like Obama if he could help us eradicate the scourge of the undead?

Look for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter to drop on March 2, 2010.

Leave a comment

Filed under Abraham Lincoln, Art, Barack Obama, Book Diaries Series, Books, Culture, Entertainment, History, Media and Entertainment, Pop Culture, Pres. Barack Obama, Presidents, Seth Grahame-Smith, Uncategorized

44-D’s Book Diaries: R. Scott Reiss’ Black Monday

“Name the most powerful narcotic in the world,” he asks the former beggar boy. “Oil,” the mentor says. ” More than opium, more than heroin. The pipelines are syringes. The addicts pay anything for their supply, kill for it, steal for it, topple governments for it.”

Black Monday by R. Scott ReissThis gripping, high-concept thriller about an oil-eating microbe is written by best-selling author R. Scott Reiss. “Black Monday” is in movie development for release in 2012.

A plague that will cause the death of millions. A plague that will destroy countries. A plague that will plunge the world into a dark age. A plague that will make nobody sick…

When the first planes go down — in Europe, in California, in Asia — authorities blame terrorists. All flights are grounded as world leaders try to figure out how the global assault has been coordinated. And when cars, ships, and factories stop running too, it becomes clear that the common link is oil. Somehow a microbe, genetically engineered to destroy petroleum, has infected the world supply. The world descends into a new dark age.

Dr. Gregory Gillette, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control, is a disease hunter specializing in microbes that attack human beings. When the Pentagon taps him to be part of the Rapid Response Team assembled to track and kill the devastating Delta-3 bacteria, he quickly discovers that his expertise is ignored, his presence meaningless. The leader of the task force is an old nemesis who sidelines Gillette.

Gillette returns home to Washington, where he watches in horror as food becomes scarce, neighbor attacks neighbor, and government collapses. With winter approaching, the capital faces anarchy and Gillette faces a choice: to stay with his family or to disobey orders and find the microbes’ antidote through clues that may not even be real.

Best-selling author R. Scott Reiss

Best-selling author R. Scott Reiss

Black Monday is an involving thriller with a timely theme. The author’s use of the present tense provides an excitement and immediacy that rapidly propel the narrative forward…Reiss includes enough solid detail to make his improbable plot seem almost realistic. He handles his complicated scientific explanations with aplomb, takes the time to focus on a variety of compelling characters, and creates a terrifying scenario that will make thoughtful readers think twice about the world’s dependence on the ultimate narcotic–oil.”~~Mostly Fiction Book Reviews

Read a chapter excerpt from Black Monday

Leave a comment

Filed under Agencies, Books, CDC, Culture, Disaster, Entertainment, Epidemiology, Government, Hollywood, Hunger, Media and Entertainment, Movies, Politics, R. Scott Reiss, Sciences, Technology, Terrorism, Uncategorized

How Vampires Rose From Myth to Modern Obsession


colton-reviewxUSA Today/David Colton—Compared with the neck-biting ecstasies of Twilight and True Blood, the vampires of Hollywood’s past are downright chaste. Not a drop of blood was shown in the original Dracula of 1931, and it wasn’t until the Hammer studio films of the 1950s that the screen flowed crimson.

Now two of horror’s top film historians take a look at the cinematic roots of the vampire phenomenon.

In Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff: The Expanded Story of a Haunting Collaboration, a revision of a 1990 title, author Gregory William Mank explodes many of the myths about the Hungarian-born Lugosi, the screen’s first Dracula.

Though Lugosi was a hit in Dracula on Broadway, he was only the sixth choice for the screen role, finally accepting $500 a week (half his previous fee) to star as the immortal Count. Lugosi claimed for years he turned down the role of Frankenstein’s monster, but in truth was rejected in favor of Karloff. And no, Karloff did not joke that Lugosi was “putting us on” at Lugosi’s funeral in 1956. Karloff wasn’t even there.

The Mank book, which he calls an “obsession” since his first interviews with Lugosi’s ex-wife in 1974, is meticulously researched and more than 300 pages longer than the original. It grandly paints a portrait of the two stars and the spooky past of Universal, Hollywood’s top scare studio of the 1930s and 1940s.

blank
More @ usatoday_logo

citrouillesmall

Back to Halloween Main Page

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Hollywood, Media and Entertainment, Movies, Pop Culture