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Monday, June 25, 2018

It’s Monday, What are You Reading? The World as It Is


It’s Monday, What are You Reading? 
The World as It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House
by Ben Rhodes
 



This post is the one-hundred and forty-eighth entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]

Ben Rhodes has been referred to many times in the several books recently mentioned on this blog. When I saw this one come out, I could not resist getting his perspective on the past ten years in U.S. government. Very readable! (Couple of chapters in, as I write this)


Book Description from Amazon:

From one of Barack Obama’s closest aides comes a revelatory behind-the-scenes account of his presidency—and how idealism can confront harsh reality and still survive—in the tradition of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.’s A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House.

For nearly ten years, Ben Rhodes saw almost everything that happened at the center of the Obama administration—first as a speechwriter, then as deputy national security advisor, and finally as a multipurpose aide and close collaborator. He started every morning in the Oval Office with the President’s Daily Briefing, traveled the world with Obama, and was at the center of some of the most consequential and controversial moments of the presidency. Now he tells the full story of his partnership—and, ultimately, friendship—with a man who also happened to be a historic president of the United States.

Rhodes was not your typical presidential confidant, and this is not your typical White House memoir. Rendered in vivid, novelistic detail by someone who was a writer before he was a staffer, this is a rare look inside the most poignant, tense, and consequential moments of the Obama presidency—waiting out the bin Laden raid in the Situation Room, responding to the Arab Spring, reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran, leading secret negotiations with the Cuban government to normalize relations, and confronting the resurgence of nationalism and nativism that culminated in the election of Donald Trump.

In The World as It Is, Rhodes shows what it was like to be there—from the early days of the Obama campaign to the final hours of the presidency. It is a story populated by such characters as Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Hillary Clinton, Bob Gates, and—above all—Barack Obama, who comes to life on the page in moments of great urgency and disarming intimacy. This is the most vivid portrayal yet of Obama’s worldview and presidency, a chronicle of a political education by a writer of enormous talent, and an essential record of the forces that shaped the last decade.

Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, June 18, 2018

It’s Monday, What are You Reading? Pioneer Girl Perspectives


It’s Monday, What are You Reading? 
Pioneer Girl Perspectives: 
Exploring Laura Ingalls Wilder
Edited by Nancy Tystad Koupal





This post is the one-hundred and forty-seventh entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]


I’ve been reading this series of essays off and on over the last year. Just finished it. Very interesting and useful perspectives, including one by Laura herself.


Book Description from Amazon:

Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) finished her autobiography, Pioneer Girl, in 1930 when she was sixty-three years old. Throughout the 1930s and into the early 1940s, she drew upon her original manuscript to write a successful series of books for young readers. Wilder s vision of life on the American frontier in the last half of the nineteenth century continues to draw new generations of readers to her Little House books. Editor Nancy Tystad Koupal has collected essays from noted scholars of Wilder s life and work that explore the themes and genesis of Wilder s writings. Pioneer Girl Perspectives sheds new light on the story behind Wilder s original manuscript and examines the ways in which the author and her daughter and editor, Rose Wilder Lane, worked to develop a marketable narrative. The essay contributors delve into the myths and realities of Wilder s work to discover the real lives of frontier children, the influence of time and place on both Wilder and Lane, and the role of folklore in the Little House novels. Together, the essays give readers a deeper understanding of how Wilder built and managed her story. Published over eighty years after its inception, Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography edited by Pamela Smith Hill gave readers new insight into the truth behind Wilder s fiction. Pioneer Girl Perspectives further demonstrates the importance of Wilder as an influential American author whose stories of growing up on the frontier remain relevant today.

Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, June 11, 2018

It’s Monday, What are You Reading? Facts and Fears


It’s Monday, What are You Reading? 
Facts and Fears:
Hard Truths from A Life in Intelligence
by James R. Clapper with Trey Brown
 



This post is the one-hundred and forty-sixth entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]

Clapper has had a unique vantage point from which to observe our nation in recent years. Wanted to know what he has to say.


Book Description from Amazon:

The former Director of National Intelligence's candid and compelling account of the intelligence community's successes--and failures--in facing some of the greatest threats to America

When he stepped down in January 2017 as the fourth United States director of national intelligence, James Clapper had been President Obama's senior intelligence adviser for six and a half years, longer than his three predecessors combined. He led the U.S. intelligence community through a period that included the raid on Osama bin Laden, the Benghazi attack, the leaks of Edward Snowden, and Russia's influence operation during the 2016 U.S. election campaign. In Facts and Fears, Clapper traces his career through the growing threat of cyberattacks, his relationships with presidents and Congress, and the truth about Russia's role in the presidential election. He describes, in the wake of Snowden and WikiLeaks, his efforts to make intelligence more transparent and to push back against the suspicion that Americans' private lives are subject to surveillance. Finally, it was living through Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and seeing how the foundations of American democracy were--and continue to be--undermined by a foreign power that led him to break with his instincts honed through more than five decades in the intelligence profession to share his inside experience.

Clapper considers such controversial questions as, Is intelligence ethical? Is it moral to intercept communications or to photograph closed societies from orbit? What are the limits of what we should be allowed to do? What protections should we give to the private citizens of the world, not to mention our fellow Americans? Are there times when intelligence officers can lose credibility as unbiased reporters of hard truths by inserting themselves into policy decisions?

Facts and Fears offers a privileged look inside the U.S. intelligence community and, with the frankness and professionalism for which James Clapper is known, addresses some of the most difficult challenges in our nation's history.

Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, June 4, 2018

It’s Monday, What are You Reading? The Restless Wave


It’s Monday, What are You Reading? 
The Restless Wave:
Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations
by John McCain and Mark Salter



This post is the one-hundred and forty-fifth entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]

We wanted to see what McCain really had to say, in these likely final days. I’ve gotten started on it and enjoy his insights into his various campaigns and visits to military fronts. Most interesting, for sure.


Book Description from Amazon:


In this candid new political memoir from Senator John McCain, an American hero reflects on his life—and what matters most.


“I don’t know how much longer I’ll be here. Maybe I’ll have another five years. Maybe, with the advances in oncology, they’ll find new treatments for my cancer that will extend my life. Maybe I’ll be gone before you read this. My predicament is, well, rather unpredictable. But I’m prepared for either contingency, or at least I’m getting prepared. I have some things I’d like to take care of first, some work that needs finishing, and some people I need to see. And I want to talk to my fellow Americans a little more if I may.”

So writes John McCain in this inspiring, moving, frank, and deeply personal memoir. Written while confronting a mortal illness, McCain looks back with appreciation on his years in the Senate, his historic 2008 campaign for the presidency against Barack Obama, and his crusades on behalf of democracy and human rights in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Always the fighter, McCain attacks the “spurious nationalism” and political polarization afflicting American policy. He makes an impassioned case for democratic internationalism and bi-partisanship. He tells stories of his most satisfying moments of public service, including his work with another giant of the Senate, Edward M. Kennedy. Senator McCain recalls his disagreements with several presidents, and minces no words in his objections to some of President Trump’s statements and policies. At the same time, he offers a positive vision of America that looks beyond the Trump presidency.

The Restless Wave is John McCain at his best.

Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, May 28, 2018

It’s Monday, What are You Reading? From Cold War to Hot Peace



It’s Monday, What are You Reading? From Cold War to Hot Peace:
An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia 
by  Michael McFaul
 


This post is the one-hundred and forty-fourth entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]

I always enjoy Michael McFaul as a TV commentator, was anxious to see his book. Most interesting as I have gotten into it. Excellent insight into diplomacy.


Book Description from Amazon:

From one of America’s leading scholars of Russia who served as U.S. ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration, a revelatory, inside account of U.S.-Russia relations from 1989 to the present


In 2008, when Michael McFaul was asked to leave his perch at Stanford and join an unlikely presidential campaign, he had no idea that he would find himself at the beating heart of one of today’s most contentious and consequential international relationships. As President Barack Obama’s adviser on Russian affairs, McFaul helped craft the United States’ policy known as “reset” that fostered new and unprecedented collaboration between the two countries. And then, as U.S. ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, he had a front-row seat when this fleeting, hopeful moment crumbled with Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency. This riveting inside account combines history and memoir to tell the full story of U.S.-Russia relations from the fall of the Soviet Union to the new rise of the hostile, paranoid Russian president. From the first days of McFaul’s ambassadorship, the Kremlin actively sought to discredit and undermine him, hassling him with tactics that included dispatching protesters to his front gates, slandering him on state media, and tightly surveilling him, his staff, and his family.

From Cold War to Hot Peace is an essential account of the most consequential global confrontation of our time.


Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, May 14, 2018

It’s Monday, What are You Reading? The Soul of America


It’s Monday, What are You Reading? 
The Soul of America: 
The Battle for our Better Angels 
by Jon Meacham
 


This post is the one-hundred and forty-third entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]


Since reading the Bush 41 book by Meacham and seeing him regularly on TV, I was really looking forward to this one coming out. It will bring together much of the history I've been reading, lately, and provide a basis for keeping positive about the future of America.


Book Description from Amazon:

Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jon Meacham helps us understand the present moment in American politics and life by looking back at critical times in our history when hope overcame division and fear.

Our current climate of partisan fury is not new, and in The Soul of America Meacham shows us how what Abraham Lincoln called the “better angels of our nature” have repeatedly won the day. Painting surprising portraits of Lincoln and other presidents, including Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and Lyndon B. Johnson, and illuminating the courage of such influential citizen activists as Martin Luther King, Jr., early suffragettes Alice Paul and Carrie Chapman Catt, civil rights pioneers Rosa Parks and John Lewis, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and Army-McCarthy hearings lawyer Joseph N. Welch, Meacham brings vividly to life turning points in American history. He writes about the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the birth of the Lost Cause; the backlash against immigrants in the First World War and the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s; the fight for women’s rights; the demagoguery of Huey Long and Father Coughlin and the isolationist work of America First in the years before World War II; the anti-Communist witch-hunts led by Senator Joseph McCarthy; and Lyndon Johnson’s crusade against Jim Crow. Each of these dramatic hours in our national life have been shaped by the contest to lead the country to look forward rather than back, to assert hope over fear—a struggle that continues even now.

While the American story has not always—or even often—been heroic, we have been sustained by a belief in progress even in the gloomiest of times. In this inspiring book, Meacham reassures us, “The good news is that we have come through such darkness before”—as, time and again, Lincoln’s better angels have found a way to prevail.


Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, April 30, 2018

It’s Monday, What are You Reading? War on Peace


It’s Monday, What are You Reading? 
War on Peace:
The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence 
by Ronon Farrow
 


This post is the one-hundred and forty-second entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]

Have been interested in the changes at State Department and Embassies around the world. One set of answers is in this book.


Book Description from Amazon:

A harrowing exploration of the collapse of American diplomacy and the abdication of global leadership. "This is one of the most important books of our time." Walter Isaacson US foreign policy is undergoing a dire transformation, forever changing America's place in the world. Institutions of diplomacy and development are bleeding out after deep budget cuts; the diplomats who make America's deals and protect democratic interests around the world are walking out in droves. Offices across the State Department sit empty, while abroad the military-industrial complex has assumed the work once undertaken by peacemakers. Increasingly, America is a nation that shoots first and asks questions later. In an astonishing journey from the corridors of power in Washington, DC, to some of the most remote and dangerous places on earth - Afghanistan, Somalia, and North Korea among them acclaimed investigative journalist Ronan Farrow illuminates one of the most consequential and poorly understood changes in American history. His first-hand experience as a former State Department official affords a personal look at some of the last standard bearers of traditional statecraft, including Richard Holbrooke, who made peace in Bosnia and died while trying to do so in Afghanistan. Drawing on newly unearthed documents, and richly informed by rare interviews with warlords, whistle-blowers, and policymakers - including every living secretary of state from Henry Kissinger to Hillary Clinton to Rex Tillerson - War on Peace makes a powerful case for an endangered profession. Diplomacy, Farrow argues, has declined after decades of political cowardice, short-sightedness, and outright malice - but it may just offer a way out of a world at war.


Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, April 23, 2018

It’s Monday, What are You Reading? A Higher Loyalty


It’s Monday, What are You Reading? 
A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership 
by James Comey
 


This post is the one-hundred and forty-first entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]
 
Wasn’t going to read this, but when my wife got it, I could not pass it up. So happy for that. Very important that anyone who cares about “this matter” actually read this book…it is not very long, clear through. Reading the book is much more instructive of Comey than any TV news snippets, left or right. You really need to read it yourself. It is a text on ethical leadership, by the way. Excellent literary piece, but very readable.

Book Description from Amazon:


In his book, former FBI director James Comey shares his never-before-told experiences from some of the highest-stakes situations of his career in the past two decades of American government, exploring what good, ethical leadership looks like, and how it drives sound decisions. His journey provides an unprecedented entry into the corridors of power, and a remarkable lesson in what makes an effective leader.
Mr. Comey served as director of the FBI from 2013 to 2017, appointed to the post by President Barack Obama. He previously served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and the U.S. deputy attorney general in the administration of President George W. Bush. From prosecuting the Mafia and Martha Stewart to helping change the Bush administration's policies on torture and electronic surveillance, overseeing the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation as well as ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, Comey has been involved in some of the most consequential cases and policies of recent history.


Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, April 2, 2018

It’s Monday, What are You Reading? The Age of Eisenhower


It’s Monday, What are You Reading?
The Age of Eisenhower: 
America and the World in the 1950s
by William I. Hitchcock
 


This post is the one-hundred and fortieth entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]


As I finished up the large biography of General and President U.S. Grant, I was most pleased to see this new presidential biography appear. It covers my high school and undergraduate college years. I am most interested to see what it has to say, on several levels! ;-)


Book Description from Amazon:

“A page-turner masterpiece.” – Jim Lehrer

In a 2017 survey, presidential historians ranked Dwight D. Eisenhower fifth on the list of great presidents, behind the perennial top four: Lincoln, Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Teddy Roosevelt. Historian William Hitchcock shows that this high ranking is justified. Eisenhower’s accomplishments were enormous, and loom ever larger from the vantage point of our own tumultuous times.

A former general, Ike kept the peace: he ended the Korean War, avoided a war in Vietnam, adroitly managed a potential confrontation with China, and soothed relations with the Soviet Union after Stalin’s death. He guided the Republican Party to embrace central aspects of the New Deal like Social Security. He thwarted the demagoguery of McCarthy and he advanced the agenda of civil rights for African Americans. As part of his strategy to wage, and win, the Cold War, Eisenhower expanded American military power, built a fearsome nuclear arsenal and launched the space race. In his famous Farewell Address, he acknowledged that Americans needed such weapons in order to keep global peace—but he also admonished his citizens to remain alert to the potentially harmful influence of the “military-industrial complex.”

From 1953 to 1961, no one dominated the world stage as did President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Age of Eisenhower is the definitive account of this presidency, drawing extensively on declassified material from the Eisenhower Library, the CIA and Defense Department, and troves of unpublished documents. In his masterful account, Hitchcock shows how Ike shaped modern America, and he astutely assesses Eisenhower’s close confidants, from Attorney General Brownell to Secretary of State Dulles. The result is an eye-opening reevaluation that explains why this “do-nothing” president is rightly regarded as one of the best leaders our country has ever had.


Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, March 19, 2018

It’s Monday, What are You Reading? Russian Roulette


It’s Monday, What are You Reading? Russian Roulette: 
The Inside Story of Putin’s War on American 
and the Election of Donald Trump
by Michael Isikoff and David Corn
 


This post is the one-hundred and thirty-ninth entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]

This book is by two of the best investigative reporters in the business today. They excel at telling complicated circumstances in understandable language, backed up by excellent journalism techniques. A must read in these days.

Book Description from Amazon:

The incredible, harrowing account of how American democracy was hacked by Moscow as part of a covert operation to influence the U.S. election and help Donald Trump gain the presidency.

RUSSIAN ROULETTE is a story of political skullduggery unprecedented in American history. It weaves together tales of international intrigue, cyber espionage, and superpower rivalry. After U.S.-Russia relations soured, as Vladimir Putin moved to reassert Russian strength on the global stage, Moscow trained its best hackers and trolls on U.S. political targets and exploited WikiLeaks to disseminate information that could affect the 2016 election.

The Russians were wildly successful and the great break-in of 2016 was no "third-rate burglary." It was far more sophisticated and sinister -- a brazen act of political espionage designed to interfere with American democracy. At the end of the day, Trump, the candidate who pursued business deals in Russia, won. And millions of Americans were left wondering, what the hell happened? This story of high-tech spying and multiple political feuds is told against the backdrop of Trump's strange relationship with Putin and the curious ties between members of his inner circle -- including Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn -- and Russia.

RUSSIAN ROULETTE chronicles and explores this bizarre scandal, explains the stakes, and answers one of the biggest questions in American politics: How and why did a foreign government infiltrate the country's political process and gain influence in Washington?


Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, January 29, 2018

It’s Monday, What are You Reading? Grant


It’s Monday, What are You Reading?
Grant 
by Ron Chernow
 
This post is the one-hundred and thirty-eighth entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]
 


This was the second of my Christmas gift Wish List Books. Though it came out in October, I wasn’t read to read it till now. It is very heavy…weighs a lot. Small print, too. I’ve read a Grant bio before this one, but am anxious to see how this one expands on the story and is different. Was surprised to realize, Grant was the only President between Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson to serve out two full consecutive terms.


Book Description from Amazon:

Ulysses S. Grant's life has typically been misunderstood. All too often he is caricatured as a chronic loser and an inept businessman, or as the triumphant but brutal Union general of the Civil War. But these stereotypes don't come close to capturing him, as Chernow shows in his masterful biography, the first to provide a complete understanding of the general and president whose fortunes rose and fell with dizzying speed and frequency.

Before the Civil War, Grant was flailing. His business ventures had ended dismally, and despite distinguished service in the Mexican War he ended up resigning from the army in disgrace amid recurring accusations of drunkenness. But in war, Grant began to realize his remarkable potential, soaring through the ranks of the Union army, prevailing at the battle of Shiloh and in the Vicksburg campaign, and ultimately defeating the legendary Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Along the way, Grant endeared himself to President Lincoln and became his most trusted general and the strategic genius of the war effort. Grant’s military fame translated into a two-term presidency, but one plagued by corruption scandals involving his closest staff members.

More important, he sought freedom and justice for black Americans, working to crush the Ku Klux Klan and earning the admiration of Frederick Douglass, who called him “the vigilant, firm, impartial, and wise protector of my race.” After his presidency, he was again brought low by a dashing young swindler on Wall Street, only to resuscitate his image by working with Mark Twain to publish his memoirs, which are recognized as a masterpiece of the genre.

With lucidity, breadth, and meticulousness, Chernow finds the threads that bind these disparate stories together, shedding new light on the man whom Walt Whitman described as “nothing heroic... and yet the greatest hero.” Chernow’s probing portrait of Grant's lifelong struggle with alcoholism transforms our understanding of the man at the deepest level. This is America's greatest biographer, bringing movingly to life one of our finest but most underappreciated presidents. The definitive biography, Grant is a grand synthesis of painstaking research and literary brilliance that makes sense of all sides of Grant's life, explaining how this simple Midwesterner could at once be so ordinary and so extraordinary.

Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, January 15, 2018

It’s Monday, What are You Reading? President McKinley



It’s Monday, What are You Reading? President McKinley: 
Architect of the American Century 
by Robert W. Merry
 
 This post is the one-hundred and thirty-seventh entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]
 
https://www.amazon.com/President-McKinley-Architect-American-Century/dp/1451625448/


This was the first of my 2017 Christmas gift Wish List Books. It was said that McKinley’s win in 1896 was an ‘inflection point’ in American politics as significant as the 1968 election, which I had recently read about. I wanted to see how. Merry had also written the Polk biography that I read a few years ago.


Book Description from Amazon:

In this great American story, acclaimed historian Robert Merry resurrects the presidential reputation of William McKinley, which loses out to the brilliant and flamboyant Theodore Roosevelt who succeeded him after his assassination. He portrays McKinley as a chief executive of consequence whose low place in the presidential rankings does not reflect his enduring accomplishments and the stamp he put on the country’s future role in the world.

Republican President William McKinley in his two terms as president (1897 – 1901) transformed America. He established the US as an imperial power. Although he does not register large in either public memory or in historians’ rankings, in this revealing account, Robert W. Merry unfolds the mystery of how this bland man managed so much powerful change.

McKinley settled decades of monetary controversy by taking the country to a strict gold standard; in the Spanish-American war he kicked Spain out of the Caribbean and liberated Cuba from Spain; in the Pacific he acquired Hawaii and the Philippines through war and diplomacy; he developed the doctrine of “fair trade”; forced the “Open Door” to China; forged our “special relationship” with Great Britain. In short, he established the non-colonial imperialism that took America into global preeminence. He expanded executive power and managed public opinion through his quiet manipulation of the press. McKinley paved the way for the bold and flamboyant leadership of his famous successor, Teddy Roosevelt, who built on his accomplishments (and got credit for them).

Merry writes movingly about McKinley’s admirable personal life, from his simple Midwestern upbringing to his Civil War heroism to his brave comportment just moments before his death by assassination (it was only six months into his second term when he was shot). Lively, definitive, and eye-opening, President McKinley resurrects this overlooked president and places him squarely on the list of one of the most important.

Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)