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All your favorite blue plate specials in one cookbook! The American Table: Classic Comfort Food from Across the Country by Larry Edwards

Thriller fans with a taste for politics will devour this exciting investigation into dangerous government overreach… Root And Branch by Preston Fleming

An alpha billionaire goes toe-to-toe with a smart, bold heroine in… His To Ravage: A Billionaire Romance by Emily Hale

Make Enterprise Great Again: The Gods Must Be Crazy!: Cradle of Communism to Catacomb of Capitalism: A Proposal to bring back the House of Roosevelt’s by EPM Mavericks

Desperate to save her parents from debtors’ prison, Esmay signs up as an alien mail order bride… Royal Alien Mate by Sue Mercury

What would you do with a new Kindle Fire? Or $50 Amazon gift card? Find out by entering the KND/BookGorilla giveaway! We find the BEST eBook deals like Starship Waking by C. Gockel

A spine-chilling tale of a girl imprisoned for more than a century, and the terrifying events that put her there… The Girl in The Locked Room: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn

Her long-lost friend begs her to prove his innocence. But what if he’s a killer? The Fractured Man by Lisa M. Lilly

When Piper Townsend fell to her death twelve years ago, she took Trey’s secrets with her. He’s never trusted another woman. Until now… USA Today bestselling author Allie Boniface’s FINDING YOU

Annie must decide: Is another shot at happiness worth the risk? Camille Pagán’s ingeniously witty novel: This Won’t End Well

Grow your business with this definitive guide to driving growth and success: Marketing For Entrepreneurs and Small to Medium Businesses by Kelly A. Mahoney

What would you do with a new Kindle Fire? Or $50 Amazon gift card? Find out by entering the KND/BookGorilla giveaway! We find the BEST eBook deals like The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

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Obama’s Faith – The Prequel? A review of The Faith of Barack Obama

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One measure of the usefulness of any book lies in its power to provoke a reader to mindfulness of alarming conditions in one’s community, one’s universe, or one’s own spirit. As I read and pondered Stephen Mansfield’s The Faith of Barack Obama, I became increasingly mindful of certain alarming paradoxes in American political life in 2008:

* How bizarre it is that personal character is usually kept off the table in political discourse while a candidate’s religion is now considered fair game. When a scandal occurs, as it so often does nowadays with Democrats, Republicans, and preachers, it is always a scandal of character, not of one’s stated religion.

* The central organizing principle that underlies the uses of religion and spirituality in American political life is bold hypocrisy and outright deceit. This has been true for decades, or perhaps as long as religion has been so used, but it seems especially clear today.

* Despite abundant evidence – not least in Obama’s presence itself – that we live in a post-homogeneous America, our politics are relentlessly constrained by homogenizing talking heads who are always willing to stoop low to achieve the populist posture of a “gotcha” moment in which they use association or innuendo to say, of Obama or anyone else, “See, he’s not like us!”

The aforementioned condition of rampant hypocrisy is not limited to one political party or one religious denomination. It is widespread. It is not my intention to cast stones here, but simply to state what should be obvious.

Religious self-presentation has become a routine element of political campaigns, often with no more rigor than might be involved in a candidate’s assertion, for instance, that she had “always been a Yankees fan.” No wonder, then, how often such calculations backfire with the drawing back of the curtains and the attendant protestations that we should “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

I recall a long period in my own adult life when I might have argued that Stephen Mansfield’s inquiry into the spiritual journey of Barack Obama, however elegant in its composition and thorough in its supporting research, was insignificant almost by definition. Like millions of others who were inspired by John F. Kennedy’s public persona, I grew up believing that religion should have no role in politics. Even if America’s mid-century notions of pluralism and tolerance operated within the boundaries of a seemingly homogeneous culture, they appealed both to our basic sense of decency and to our fuzzy notions of a living constitution that worked.

Those notions have come under relentless attack for decades, so that we are less likely to recoil reflexively from the very idea of a book such as Mansfield’s, as I and many others once did at titles such as Senator Barry Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative or William F. Buckley’s God and Man at Yale.

I wonder if Mansfield’s book would have the same bookshelf appeal that it has today if it had been published under the title The Character of Barack Obama. That seems a bland alternative. But when I finished reading Mansfield’s book and put it down, what impressed me most was that I felt that I had just read a book of considerable rigor and thoughtfulness about Obama’s character and its origins, rather than anything so specific as a book about his religious faith.

I cannot fault Obama for fronting his “faith” as he has done, or Mansfield for writing about it. Without falling into a potentially dull recitation of second-hand news, Mansfield’s narrative manages to do justice to the extremely damaging – and, of course, deceitful — smear campaigns of guilt-by-innuendo and guilt-by-association that have tarred Obama as a Muslim extremist and, by selective use of the quotations of former Pastor Jeremiah Wright, as a bitter and unpatriotic black man. Under such stress, I don’t know if there is any other way for Obama to fight back, and I appreciate Mansfield’s chronicle.

But I admit that I will be somewhat more interested, if Obama is elected (as I hope that he will be), in an updated chronicle of the testing of his faith during his tenure as president. Whatever the ability of any campaigner to dance righteously across the religious dance floor of contemporary presidential politics, it is when a candidate becomes president that he (or, in the event of two very plausible circumstances, she) embarks upon a season of relentless preaching from America’s most powerful pulpit.

Should such a book become appropriate, I hope that Stephen Mansfield will write it.

Here’s a terrific idea for more efficient use of the Kindle’s wireless web….

A Kindle lover over at the Kindle Korner community has come up and shared an elegant solution for the problems that many of us face in trying to navigate efficiently and get the most out of the Kindle’s wireless web service. Here’s a link to her post, and here’s a link to the file she has created and made available to all.

Kudos to Adrienne! (I’m always saying that, since Adrienne is also the name of my delightful and talented younger daughter.)

Amazon reduces Kindle price $100, with a catch….


Now here’s the price break you’ve been waiting for!

You can save another $100 off that $359 Kindle, and still get it sent directly to you by Amazon.com with free 2-day shipping!

Just click here and you’ll find the following paragraph:

Get the Amazon Rewards Visa Card and Get $100 Off Kindle
Thanks to Chase, you get $100 off Kindle when you get the new Amazon.com Rewards Visa Card. Limited time only. Here’s how this works: 1) Apply online. Get a response in as little as 30 seconds. If you’re approved, we will instantly add the card to your Amazon.com account and you’ll get $30 back on your credit card statement after your purchase. 2) Add a Kindle to your cart. 3) Place your order using the Amazon.com Rewards Visa Card and enter this promo code: VISACARD to get the additional $70 savings at checkout. Additional restrictions apply.

And that’s not all — I hate to be a cheerleader for plastic in these hard times, but that Chase card will continue to provide you with cash back on all your Kindle (and other Amazon) purchases. Watch out, or Jeff will be sending you money!

Why Did Amazon Launch the Kindle, and Which is More Important, the Chicken or the Egg?

I’m having some fun today putting the finishing touches on the FAQ appendix for the book, and in the process I’ve finally gotten around to transcribing this remarkable brief exchange between Chris Anderson and Jeff Bezos at the 2008 Book Expo America. You can check my transcription and listen to the entire podcast here, but in my view it is this exchange which states most clearly that the primary importance of the Kindle for Amazon lies in four things: (1) it jumpstarts significant electronic book sales; (2) it positions the books in the Kindle store as the primary source of e-reader content; (3) it sets the bar higher than it had previously been set for form factor, feature set, and delivery mode for electronic books; and (4) it gives Amazon a seat at the head of the table in shaping this area of book commerce going forward.

Q. “In Asia, [there are] cell phone serials, cell phone comics, cell phone mangas, etc. I guess, first question, what have you learned from the mobile reading experience in Asia? Secondly, does that in itself put the Kindle in competition with the cell phone down the line as cell phones have better screens, etc.”

–Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail

A. “Maybe the hardware device, yes, but not necessarily the Kindle books. The Kindle books, maybe they should be available on every device. We created Kindle because we’ve been selling e-Books for 10 years, but we needed an electron microscope to find the sales. And so, three years ago we said, ‘Look, what we need to do is create a perfect, integrated, streamlined customer experience all the way through, so we’ll build the device, we’ll build the back-end servers, we’ll digitize the content ourselves if we need to. Whatever it takes, we’re going to build a great customer experience, to get that thing started. If we can get other devices to also be able to buy Kindle books, through other devices, that’s great.’”

–Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

Kindle Chronicles, "Leveraging the Kindle" Webinar, and more….

Couple of cool Kindle-related web events to share with visitors to my web pages and my AmazonConnect blog.

First, Len Edgerly is breaking some new ground in information and entertainment for current and future Kindlers with a terrific weekly podcast called The Kindle Chronicles. I was honored to be Len’s guest on a recent podcast, and I recommend the “program” as a regular weekly diversion. Check it out — you can even listen to it on your Kindle!

Second….

One of my favorite Kindle bloggers and a very thoughtful publishing industry expert on all things Kindle, Joe Wikert, will be conducting a free one-hour Webinar (no glossary here, just put on your thinking cap and sound it out, or type it into your Kindle for a Wikipedia search) called “Leveraging the Kindle — How to maximize the Kindle’s benefits to your readers and your business” at 2 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, August 21. If you have any doubt about what Joe brings to the table, just check out the widget-links to two of his blogs on A Kindle Home Page and I am sure you will agree he is one of the more intelligent, articulate, and knowledgeable people covering this terrain of new technologies in reading and publishing. See you at the Webinar!

There are 2 things — where’s the more? It’s coming, but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. So please check back here Monday for some new content about the coming alliance between the Amazon Kindle Store and Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch!

Update: it’s Monday morning…..

The Coming Kindle-iPod-iPhone Alliance, or Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?