Friday, January 22, 2010

92nd Street Y: The Immigrant Experience: Becoming Americans with Jessica Hagedorn, Jamaica Kincaid & more

I am very excited! I just won two tickets to the 92nd Street Y's lecture on The Immigrant Experience on Feb. 1, 2010.

The event is to commemorate the publication of the Library of America's Becoming Americans" Four Centuries of Immigrant Writing - an anthology that features letters, poems, journal entries, memoirs, essays and other fiction. Jessica Hagedorn, Jamaica Kincaid, Norman Manea and Gary Shteyngart will visit the Poetry Center, read excerpts from the book and discuss their personal experiences.

The moderator for the evening will be Ilan Stavans, the editor of the anthology. If you'd like to attend, you can pick up tickets at the 92nd Street Y website at

92nd Street Y
Lexington Avenue at 92nd Street
Monday, Feb. 1, 2010 at 8 pm
$27/adults - $10/age 35 and under

The Federal Reserve steps in: New Credit Card Rules give greater consumer protection

The Federal Reserve's new rules for credit card companies take effect on Feb. 22, 2010. Here's a quick list of some of the important changes that put in place to protect consumers.

Your credit card company has to tell you
  • When they plan to increase your rate or other fees. Credit card companies are required to give 45 day notice before: increasing interest rate, changing certain fees, making other significant changes to the terms of your credit card agreement.
  • But the 45 day notice requirement doesn't apply if your card has a variable rate tied to an index; if your introductory rate expires and your card is reverting to the "go-to" interest rate; or if you are in a work-out agreement and you've failed to make the payments as agreed upon.
  • How long it will take to pay off your balance if you only make the minimum required payments. Credit card companies are also required to tell you how much each payment would have to be for you to pay off your balance in 3 years.
New rules on rates, fees, and limits:
  • No interest rate increases for the first year. Exempted from this rate ceiling are credit cards tied to an index, credit cards that have a 6 month introductory rate (the card switches to the "go-to" rate after the introductory period), if you are over 60 days late in making a payment or if you're in a workout agreement and you've failed to make your agreed upon payments.
  • Increased rates apply only to new charges - Even if your credit card's rates increase after the first year, the new rate should only apply to new charges that you make. If you have a credit card balance, the old balance should be subject to the old interest rate.
  • Restrictions on over-the-limit transactions. You must inform your credit card company that you want to authorize/allow transactions that take you over your credit limit. Otherwise, if a transaction will cause you to go over your limit, the transaction may be declined. If you don't "opt-in" to over-the-limit transactions and the credit card company allows the transaction to go through, you should not be charged an over-the-limit fee. Even if you do opt-in, your credit card company can impose only one fee per billing cycle. You have the power to revoke your opt-in at any time.
  • Caps on high-fee cards. If your credit card company imposes fees (ie, application fee, annual fee), the fees cannot total more than 25% of your initial credit limit. This cap does not apply to penalties!
  • Protection for people under 21 - if you are under 21, you will be required to show that you can make payments or to obtain a cosignor to open your credit card. If you are under 21 and have a cosignor, your cosignor must give written consent if you request an increase in your credit limit.
Changes to billing and payment requirements:

  • Your credit card statement/bill must be mailed or delivered at least 21 days before payment is due.
  • The due date should be the same day of each month.
  • The cut-of time should not be earlier than 5 pm on the due date.
  • If your payment is due on a weekend or holiday, you will have until the following business day to pay.
  • If you make more than 1 minimum payment on your credit card bill, the company must apply the excess to the balance with the higher interest. Notable exception: if you have money owed on a deferred interest plan ("no interest due until...:) then, you can choose to apply the extra money to the deferred interest plan before other balances due. For two billing cycles before the end of the deferred interest period, your credit card company must apply your entire payment to the deferred interest rate balance first.
  • Credit card companies can only impose interest charges on balances due on the current billing cycle. Two-cycle or double-cycle billing is not allowed.
Remember, these changes take effect on Feb. 22, 2010. If you'd like to read about the changes in greater detail, head to the Federal Reserve website at

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Long Weekend in NYC

A good friend from law school and her husband are coming to visit us in New York this weekend. They're driving up from Maryland on Friday morning and heading back after lunch on Sunday.

I've been making a list of things to do in NYC/Brooklyn. My friend loves photography and her husband loves computers, airplanes, and science. Do you have any suggestions?

Here are a few of the things that I've come up with so far:

Lincoln Center $20 for 20 days until Jan 26, 2010
Broadway at 62nd Street inside the David Rubenstein Atrium
To celebrate the opening of the Zucker box office, same day tickets at Lincoln Center are on offer for $20 for 20 days through the generous donation of David Rubenstein. There's a limit of 2 tickets per person. You can sign up for an email alert that will inform you of which tickets will be on offer the next day. The box office opens at noon. Over the last few days, they've offered tickets to South Pacific (Loved it!!), NYC Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera...

Sony Technology Wonder Lab

Sony Plaza at 56th Street and Madison Avenue
General Info Line: (212) 833-8100 | Tickets are free and required for entry
Tuesday – Saturday: 10–5 pm
Sunday: 12 noon–5 pm
The Sony Wonder Lab offers free movie screenings. In the past they've shown Julie & Julia, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019-5497
(212) 708-9400 |
$ 20/adult; $12/seniors; children under $16 -free
Target Free Fridays from 4 to 8 pm; closed on Monday

The Morgan Library & Museum
225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street
New York, NY 10016
Tel: (212) 685-0008 | $12/adult; $8/senior/student/children under 16
Free on Fridays from 7 to 9 pm; closed on Mondays
T-Th 10:30 to 5 pm; Sat 10:30 to 6 pm; Sun 11 to 6:30 pm

Special Exhibit: A Woman's Wit: Jane Austen's Life and Legacy until March 14, 2010

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue (at 89th Street)
New York, NY 10128-0173
$18/adults; $15/seniors/students; children under 12 - free
Sunday–Wednesday: 10 am–5:45 pm
Friday: 10 am–5:45 pm
Saturday: 10 am–7:45 pm
Pay What You Wish: Saturdays from 5:45 pm to 7:45 pm

Friday 56: Week 29 The Survivor's Club by Ben Sherwood

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions
on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
Post a link along with your post back to this blog and to Storytime with Tonya and Friends at
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Here's mine:

The chances were one in a billion. Without hydraulics, Haynes had no way to control the planes flight surfaces.

From the moment of explosion, Haynes tells me that there was no time for fear or panic. He and his crew quickly realized the only way to guide the plane was by adjusting the thrust of the two remaining engines. To turn, he accelerated the power on one wing and then the other, literally skidding across the sky.

- The Survivor's Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life by Ben Sherwood

Book Blog Tour of Seduced by a Rogue by Amanda Scott

Welcome to the Book Blog Tour of Seduced by a Rogue by Amanda Scott! Thank you to Anna and Hatchette Book Group for this opportunity!

Seduced by a Rogue
The blurb:
Flaxen-haired and beautiful, Lady Mairi Dunwythie is heiress apparent to the wealthy nobleman blocking Clan Maxwell's attempt to control much of southwest Scotland. Her first meeting with handsome Robert Maxwell ignites an attraction that is immediate, intense, and almost irresistible - until she learns he is asking her father to submit to the Maxwell's demands.

Rob is a warrior, a man of action. So when Mairi's father stands defiant, Rob daringly abducts her. As clan tensions mount, passion escalates between the lovers, tempting them beyond reason. Soon they must choose between loyalty and love. . .before the eruption of all-out clan war.

Another fun highlander romance, Seduced by a Rogue gives us family intrigue, a strong and honorable heroine, a misguided and handsome romantic lead. As Rob Maxwell tries to balance his clan obligations with his sense of honor, the story takes an interesting turn.

Seduced by a Rogue is a fun, quick read. Amanda Scott works her romance magic yet again.

ISBN-10: 0446541346 - Mass Market paperback $6.99
Publisher: Forever (January 1, 2010), 400 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author, courtesy of the publisher:
Amanda Scott is the author of over 50 romance novels and the recipient of the Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA Award. She lives in Folsom, California, outside of Sacramento. She is a fourth-generation Californian. Her website is:

Interested? Do you wnat your own copy? Enter the contest for Seduced by a Rogue by Jan 31

Participating Sites: Review 1/15/2009 Review, feature, and giveaway. 1/6/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/6/2010 Giveaway 1/6/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/6/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/8/2010 Review 1/9/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/10/2010 Review, Giveaway, Q&A 1/10/2010 Review, Giveaway, Q&A, Feature 1/10/2010 Review 1/11/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/12/2010 Review, Giveaway, Q&A 1/12/2010 Review, Giveaway, Q&A, Feature 1/13/2010 Review 1/15/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/15/2010 Review 1/15/2010 Giveaway, Feature 1/15/2010 Review, Giveaway, Q&A 1/16/2010 Review 1/17/2010 Review 1/18/2010 Review, Giveaway 1/19/2010 Giveaway 1/19/2010 Review, Giveaway, Q&A 1/20/2010
http://therempels4.blogspot Review, giveaway ****

Thanks so much to Anna and Hatchette Book Group for this review opportunity!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Book Review of Sleep No More by Susan Crandall

Sleep No More
The blurb:
The night was always Abby Whitman's enemy. As a young girl she walked in her sleep, and one night, she started a fire that scarred her sister for life and left Abby with unbearable guilt...and a loneliness that echoes within her.

Now Abby has begun blacking out again-with apparently fatal results. A car accident has killed the son of a prominent family. Even though the evidence seems to exonerate her, Abby is plagued by doubts - and soon by mysterious threats. Psychiatrist Dr. Jason Coble is intrigued by Abby and offers to help her explore the dark recesses of her mind. Through this terrifying journey, Jason's interest turns to passion, and he yearns to give her the love she craves. But first, Abby must trust him - and shed light on secrets that will rock this Southern town and reveal a danger that threatens them both.

Susan Crandall's Sleep No More is part thriller and part romance. Abby has spent most of her life regretting and trying to make up for the effects of one painful night. Abby comes across as a sympathetic character because she doesn't fixate on the past, doesn't complain, but takes real steps to fight her problem and to keep it from harming other people.

When it appears that her sleep walking has returned and Abby finds herself questioning her sanity, Dr. Jason Coble steps in just in time. The romance between Abby and Jason adds to the excitement, making Sleep No More a fun and exciting romantic thriller.

ISBN-10: 044655684X - Mass Market Paperback $6.99
Publisher: Forever; Original edition (January 1, 2010) 380 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author, courtesy of her website:
Back Roads was Susan Crandall's first solo work, her first published work, and her first award winning novel, winning a RITA for Best First Book and two National Reader's Choice Awards.

Susan grew up in a small Indiana town, married a guy from that town, and then moved to Chicago for a while. She is pleased to say that she has been back in her hometown for many years and plans to stay. She and her husband have two grown children. "They make me proud every day," Susan glows. "My son, who has the heart of a poet, is also a writer. My daughter, who is both beautiful and brilliant, is about to take her first steps into the working world of science." Learn more on Susan Crandall's website at

Thank you to Anna and Hatchette Book Group for this review opportunity!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Book Blog Tour of Knit, Purl, Die: A Black Sheep Knitting Mystery by Anne Canadeo

Gloria Sterling and Jamie Barnett were pretty much a package deal. Newly weds, joined at the hip. Or so it seemed at times. Jamie was Gloria's third run at matrimony, clearly the trophy husband. Gloria, the iconic cougar, wasn't coy about it. "I've put in my time with men my age. This is dessert," she'd told them one night.
-Knit, Purl, Die: A Black Sheep Knitting Mystery by Anne Canadeo

Knit, Purl, Die
The blurb:
Gloria Sterling had it all - money, looks, and a new sexy young husband. So when she's found floating face down in her own swimming pool, shock waves ripple through tiny Plum Harbor. At the Black Sheep Knitting Shop, Maggie Messina and her circle are devastated to lose their dear friend - a woman as colorful as her fabulous yarn creations.

The police are quick to call it an accident, but sorting out Gloria's final hours leaves too many loose ends to satisfy her friends. The vivacious, fifty something cougar had her French manicured tips in more than a few pots, and the threads of some inside deals stashed in her chic knitting tote.

Who was the last person to see Gloria alive on that quiet summer night? Two empty wine glasses suggest she wasn't home alone knitting the entire evening...The Black Sheep need to know the truth and set out to unravel - stitch by stitch - the weighty secrets that pulled poor Gloria under.

Anne Canadeo's Knit, Purl, Die, the second of the Black Sheep Knitting mystery series, is a witty, fun escape of a detective cozy. Set in the imaginary town of Plum Harbor on the North Shore of Massachusetts, Knit, Purl, Die treats us to the warm camaraderie of women in secure and set in their lives who are united in friendship, their love of knitting and sleuthing.

There is Lucy, the freelance writer. Dana is a psychiatrist married to a successful lawyer named Jack. Between the two of them, Dana and Jack are privy to many of the town's secrets and are careful not to violate privileged conversations. Suzanne is a successful real estate broker and married to a contractor who specializes in restoring old homes. Maggie, the widow and independent business owner, owns and runs the Black Sheep Knitting Shop where the women congregate.

The story is told from Lucy's point of view. Lucy has built a satisfying and independent life for herself. Lucy incorporates several miles of exercise into her day when she walks her dog into Plum Harbor's Main Street to run errands and socialize at the Black Sheep Knitting Shop. Part of the fun in Knit, Purl, Die is reading how the members of the Black Sheep live. They try to eat healthy, live well, and take care of each other. As they share meals, recipes, and knitting patterns, they build their lives together. When the women sense that their friend Gloria died under suspicious circumstances, they take it upon themselves to investigate in their own special way.

Knit, Purl, Die is a fun and light detective cozy. If you're looking for a detective cozy with strong undertones of chicklit, join the Black Sheep for this sleuthing adventure.

ISBN-10: 141659812X - trade paperback $14.00
Publisher: Pocket; Original edition (December 29, 2009), 288 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author, courtesy of the publisher:
Anne Canadeo began her Black Sheep Knitting Mystery series with While My Pretty One Knits. She is the author of more than 30 books, including the bestselling Cape Light series, which she writes as Katherine Spencer. A novice with needles, she finds many similarities between knitting and writing - inspiration, persistence, and good things happening by accident. Anne lives in Northpoint, New York.

Participating Sites:
My Book Views:
Brizmus Blogs About Books:
Renee’s Reads:
Book Junkie:
Pam’s Private Reflections:
Starting Fresh:
Frugal Plus:
Books, Books Everywhere:
My Guilty Pleasures:
Just Another New Blog:
A Book Bloggers Diary:
Books Reviews by Buuklvr81:
Reading at the Beach:
Foreign Circus Library:
The Cajun Book Lady:
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Books, Movies & Chinese Food:
Pudgy Penguin Perusals:
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Marta’s Meanderings:
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Books & Needlepoint:
Booksie’s Blog:
Jeanne's Ramblings:
I Read:
Bless Their Hearts Mom:
Steph the Bookworm:
Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews:
Book Dilettante:

Thank you so much to Sarah and Pocket Books for this review opportunity!

Book Review: the chic shall inherit the earth: an all about us novel by Shelley Adina

The Chic Shall Inherit the Earth (All About Us, #6)
The blurb:
Lisa Mansfield has come a long way since transferring to Spencer Academy two years ago. She's made a great group of friends in Gillian, Carly, Mac, and Shani. She's strengthened and grown her relationship with God. She's even gotten over the Callum McCloud "incident" from her first term. Now she's set to graduate and experience college life!

But with the girls about to head in different directions, Lissa is faced wtih some of her biggest challenges yet. Her archenemy, Vanessa, has a shocking secret-one that could destroy her reputation forever. Can Lisa act on God's prompting and reach out to her foe when Vanessa needs a friend the most? And with college on the horizon, will Lissa and Kaz finally come to terms with their feelings for one another? High school may be ending, but the excitement has just begun!

The latest in the all about us series, the chic shall inherit the earth is a thoroughly wholesome and Christian YA novel spiced up by high school romance, mean girls, and a love of fashion and chocolate.

Set in Spencer Academy in San Fransisco, the chic shall inherit the earth takes us to senior year for Lissa, Gillian, Shani, Carly and Mac. This novel revolves around Lissa. College is just a few months away and while most of her friends have clear plans for the future, Lisa's less certain of what she wants. Secure in her abilities after having almost won the Hearst Medal, Lisa does know that she wants to be in California, remain in close contact with her best friend Kaz, and that she's not ready to fall in love anytime soon.

When her friends face crises of their own, Lissa works hard to patch things up for them. the chic shall inherit the earth is clearly a Christian novel: the appreciation of God and His presence in the young girls' lives is apparent. I'm not religious myself, so the references to the prayer circle and waiting to discover God's plan did not resonate with me. On the other hand, the emphasis on the importance of doing what is right over what is easy and the message of forgiveness were seamlessly woven into the story.

Overall, the chic shall inherit the earth is a wholesome and fun read. I'd highly recommend it for young Christian girls.

ISBN-10: 0446179647 - trade paperback $9.99
Publisher: FaithWords; 1 edition (January 7, 2010), 256 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author, courtesy of the publisher:
Shelley Adina is a world traveler and pop culture junkie with an incurable addiction to designer handbags. In between books, Shelley loves traveling, listening to and making music, and watching all kinds of movies.

Thank you to Miriam and Hatchette Book Group for this review opportunity!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Quick book review of The Laceyville Monkeys Say the Right Words by Harriett Ruderman

The Laceyville Monkeys

Playfully illustrated and written in verse, The Laceyville Monkeys Say The Right Words is written for young children. Underneath the colorful pictures and the upbeat rhymes is a message of kindness, consideration and honesty.

ISBN 9780615264820 - hardcover
Review copy provided by Harriett Rudermann and Bostick Communications.

About the Author:
Harriett Ruderman is a communications professional who has seen the magic of what words can do in reaching goals and fulfilling dreams. Her company, Harriett Ruderman Public Relations, has been saying the right words for to international clients for many years. The Laceyveille Monkeys is her first children's book, dedicated to bringing the power of warm, caring words of encouragement and love to children everywhere.

Beverly Luria has been an artist and illustrator for over 25 years. Drawing, watercolor, graphic design and cartooning are her favorite art forms. She is currently working on illustration for a variety of children's stories and illustration for graphic novels The Laceyville Monkeys is her first children's picture book.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Book Blog Tour of Veracity by Laura Bynum

Welcome to the Book Blog Tour of Laura Bynum's Veracity!

The blurb:
When language is a crime, only the truth can set you free. In the tradition of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Laura Bynum has written an astonishing debut novel, a bold and incendiary vision of a chilling, all-too-plausible future in which speech is a weapon and security comes at the highest price of all.

Harper Adams was six years old in 2012 when an act of viral terrorism wiped out one half of the country's population. Out of the ashes rose a new government, the Confederation of the Willing, dedicated to maintaining order at any cost. The populace is controlled via government-sanctioned sex and drugs, a brutal police forced known as the Blue Coats, and a device called the slate, a mandatory implant that monitors every word a person speaks. To utter a Red Listed , forbidden word is to risk physical punishment or even death.

But there are those who resist. Guided by the fabled "Book of Noah," they are determined to shake the people from their apathy and ignorance, and are prepared to start a war in the name of freedom. The newest member of this resistance is Harper-a woman driven by memories of a daughter lost, a daughter whose very name was erased by the Red List. And she possesses a power that could make her the underground warriors' ultimate weapon-or the instrument of their destruction.

A work of dystopic fiction set in the recent future, Veracity paints a picture of a people decimated by a pandemic. The remaining population is ruled by a totalitarian regime that has gone beyond limited personal freedoms. The government controls nearly all aspects of behavior, but most noticeably, the use of language. By blacklisting or "Red Listing" words from the population's vocabulary, the government erases the ideas behind the words from the collective culture. The criminalization of these words is reminiscent of George Orwell's 1984 and an interesting aspect of the novel.

Among the words that were expunged and criminalized:


I thought that the character of Harper Adams was the best part of Veracity. Bynum created a strong and sympathetic heroine in Harper. In spite of her difficult and painful childhood, Harper grew up with a deep sense of integrity and courage. A critical moment occurs when Harper gradually realizes how much she'd lost through the State's censorship.

Overall, Veracity is an unusual and compelling read. I recommend Veracity to everyone willing to imagine a world where our thoughts and words are edited for the greater good.

ISBN-10: 1439123349 - hardcover $25.00
Publisher: Pocket (January 5, 2010), 384 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author, courtesy of her website:

Laura Bynum was born in Springfield, Illinois in 1968. Childhood plans to be a writer of novels and screenplays and a director of films are currently underway. Laura completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Communications at the University of Illinois at Springfield and Eastern Illinois University respectively. She’s since done some filmmaking (Ugly Girl Productions) and marketing consulting. In 2006, Laura won the Rupert Hughes Literary Writing Award at the Maui Writer’s Conference. As a result, she was signed with the Writer’s House. Her Literary Agent is Dan Conaway and her Books to Film Agent is Sylvie Rabineau of Rabineau, Wachter, Sanford & Harris. Laura’s first novel, Veracity, is due out January of 2010. In the summer of 2008, while moving from Illinois to Virginia, Laura was diagnosed with breast cancer and has since been successfully treated.

Laura’s favorite books are both by Steinbeck- East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath. Her favorite song is Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel. Her favorite movie is The Quiet Man. She lives with her husband and three daughters in a small Virginia town in the Shenandoah foothills and is currently writing her second novel and first full-length screenplay. Learn more about Laura Bynum's website.

Read an excerpt or listen to an excerpt on Laura Bynum's website.

Participating Sites:

All About {n}:
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Books Gardens & Dogs:
My Book Views:
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The Wayfaring Writer:
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Bookfoolery & Babble:
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Savey Spender:
Temple Library Reviews:
See Michelle Read:
Revenge of the Booknerds:
Must Read Faster:
Jeanne's Ramblings:
Blog Business World:
What Book Is That?:
Books & Needlepoint:

Thank you to Sarah and PocketBooks for this review opportunity!

Book Review: Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle by Dan Senor and Saul Singer

In his recent editorial, The Tel Aviv Cluster, David Brooks of the New York Times cites Start-Up Nation: The Story of the Israel's Economic Miracle when he describes the innovation cluster of technology that has developed in Israel. Having just finished reading Start-Up Nation, I'm not surprised to read about it in the New York Times. Like the other books released by Hatchette Book Group's Twelve, Start-Up Nation stays with you long after closed its covers.

Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic MiracleThe blurb:
Start-Up Nation addresses the trillion-dollar question: How is it that Israel - a country of 7.1 million people, only sixty years old, surrounded by enemies, in a constant state of war since its founding, with no natural resources - produces more start-up companies than large, peaceful, and stable nations like Japan, China, India, Korea, Canada, and the United Kingdom? Drawing on examples from the country's foremost inventors and investors, geopolitical experts Dan Senor and Saul Singer describe how Israel's adversity-driven culture fosters a unique combination of innovative and entrepreneurial intensity.

As the authors argue, Israel is not just a country but a comprehensive state of mind. Whereas Americans emphasize decorum and exhaustive preparation, Israelis put chutzpah first. "When an Israeli entrepreneur has a business idea, he will start it that week," one analyst put it. At the geopolitical level, Senor and Singer dig in deeper to show why Israel's policies on immigration, R&D, and military service have been key factors in the country's rise - providing insight into why Israel has more companies on the NASDAQ than those from all of Europe, Korea, Singapore, China, and India combined.

So much has been written about the Middle East, but surprisingly little is understood about the story and strategy behind Israel's economic growth. As Start-Up Nation shows, there are lessons in Israel's example that apply not only to other nations, but also to individuals seeking to build a thriving organization. As the U.S. economy seeks to reboot its can-do spirit, there's never been a better time to look at this remarkable and resilient nation for some impressing, surprising clues.

Dan Senor and Saul Singer's Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle is well researched and a fascinating read. The book is divided into four main parts:
  • The Little Nation That Could
  • Seeding a Culture of Innovation
  • Beginnings
  • Country with a Motive
In The Little Nation That Could we learn PayPal's Scott Thompson's first impressions of a young Shvat Shaked, whose young company, Fraud Sciences, developed the most up-to-date solution to the problem of online payment scams, credit card fraud, and electronic identity theft. As we read about Fraud Sciences, its founders Shvat Shaked and Saar Wilf, their approach to problem solving and the impressions of the top executives of PayPal, Ebay and Benchmark Capital, it becomes clear that the story of technological innovations and start-up ventures in Israel is deep and unique.

I was struck by story after story that traced technological and scientific innovations to Israeli dedication, chutzpah, a culture of debate/argument and the lack of a hierarchy. One of the earliest investors in Israel was Intel, and the company credits its Israeli team with the "right turn" in thinking that led to innovations in Intel's microprocessor and the development of its Core 2 Duo chips.

In Seeding A Culture of Innovation Senor and Singer suggest that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and its elite branches have helped to develop leadership, skills, and social networks: "While it's difficult to get into the top Israeli universities, the nation's equivalent of Yale, Harvard, and Princeton are the IDF's elite units. The unit in which an applicant served tells prospective employers what kind of selection process he or she navigated, what skills and relevant experience he or she may already possess." Senor and Singer describe the elite and intensive Talpiot program - its development, what it entails, its strengths, and the accomplishments of its graduates. The relative openness, importance placed on devolving authority and giving greater responsibility to lower ranks has played a significant role in developing effective and confident leaders; this has benefited Israel as a nation and as a leader in technology.

I found Seeding A Culture of Innovation fascinating. The comparisons that Senor and Singer make between the nation states of Israel and Singapore and the IDF and the US military were particularly insightful.

Beginnings covers the history of Israel's economy and the effects of government policies. The chapter is full of inspiring and impressive successes. There are examples of "the Israeli's penchant for taking problems-like the lack of water-and turning them into assets the fields of desert agriculture, drip irrigation, and desalination." Senor and Singer write about (1) Simcha Blass and his development of drip irrigation and the creation of Netafim, the global drip irrigation company and (2) about Kibbutz Mashabbe Sade in the Negev Desert where a salt water well was used for farming warm water fish like tilapia and sea bass.

In Beginnings Senor and Singer also discuss how factors like the waves of immigration, particularly skilled immigrants from the former USSR, have contributed to Israel's continued growth and development. Similarly the Jewish diaspora and "brain circulation" have played significant roles in enabling Israel and its industries to develop and flourish. While countries like my homeland suffer from the "brain drain," Senor and Singer describe brain circulation as "the phenomenon when talented people leave, settle down abroad, and then return to their home country and yet are not fully 'lost" to either place." Through example after example, Senor and Singer demonstrate how Israel has benefited from a deep diaspora network.

The stories in Start-Up Nation demonstrate a determination, tenacity and dedication that is impressive and inspiring. In the chapter The Buffett Effect, Senor and Singer share how investors like Warren Buffett have chosen to invest in Israel regardless of the violence in Israel and the many risks. Senor and Singer suggest that Warren Buffett does not discount the catastrophic risk in Israel but that Buffett does not consider the factory or the R&D facilities to be the value of his company's investment in Israel. Instead, Senor and Singer write that when Buffett bought into the company Iscar, Buffett considered the talent of the employees and management, the international base of customers and the brand to be Iscar's value. Even with the factories destroyed, Iscar, Warren Buffett's investment, would not suffer catastrophic risk.

The final section of Start-Up Nation, Country with a Motive, describes the start of Israel's defense industry, how in the medical devices and biotech sectors companies have been successful creating innovative "mashups" and "economic clusters." The concept of a cluster was developed by Michael Porter and is understood to mean "a unique model for economic development because it's based on 'geographic concentrations' of interconnected institutions - businesses, governmental agencies, universities-in a specific field." We're familiar with these economic clusters: the financial cluster in Wall Street and the biotech cluster in Boston. Citing Michael Porter, Senor and Singer emphasize the benefit that comes from "the intense concentration of people working in and talking about the same industry provides companies with better access to employees, suppliers, and specialized information. A cluster does not exist only in the workplace; it is a part of the fabric of daily life, involving interaction among peers at the local coffee shop, when picking kids up from school, and at church. Community connections become industry connections and vice versa." Israel has been successful in creating technology, biotech and medical device clusters. The development of these clusters is in sharp contrast with the absence of similar organic or self-sustaining clusters in Dubai despite the massive investments in money and talent of Dubai, Inc.

In Start-Up Nation, Dan Senor and Saul Singer give us a well researched and fascinating insight into Israel's economic miracle. It should be recommended reading for students, teachers, and implementers of public policy and economic policy.

ISBN-10: 044654146X - hardcover $26.99
Publisher: Twelve (November 4, 2009), 320 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Authors, courtesy of the publisher:
Dan Senor, adjunct senior fellow for Middle Est studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, has long been involved in policy, politics, and business in the Middle East. As a senior foreign policy adviser to the U.S. government, he was one of the longest-serving civilian officials in Iraq, for which he was awarded the highest civilian honor by the Pentagon. Senor's analytical pieces are frequently published by the Wall Street Journal; he has also written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Weekly Standard, and Time. He also advises a global investment fund. Mr. Senor lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.

Saul Singer is a columnist and former editorial page editor at the Jerusalem Post and the author of Confronting Jihad: Israels Struggle and the World After 9/11. He has written for the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, Moment, the New Leader, bitterlemons (an Israeli/Palestinian e-zine), and the Washington Post's international blog, PostGlobal. Before moving to Israel, he served as an adviser in the U.S. Congress. Mr. Singer lives in Jerusalem with his wife and three daughters.

Learn more about Start-Up Nation, Dan Senor and Saul Singer at the Start-Up Nation website at

Thank you so much to Anna and Hatchette Book Group for this review opportunity!