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EXCERPTS FROM THE BOOK:ODDS AGAINST ME By MINA SCHELLER-WILDFEUER PART 1: TRANQUILITY CHILDHOOD Bruckenthal evokes my fondest memories. With nostalgia I recall walks through immense wheat fields – a huge yellow ocean with slight ripples of waves gently swaying in the summer breeze, a glorious intense orgy of colorful wildflowers interspersed throughout it: the vivid blues of cornflowers, brilliant reds of poppies, immaculate whites of daisies. I was surrounded by nature’s best. The sweet fragrance, the breathtaking beauty of it filled me with overwhelming joy. Carried upon the currant of happiness I dang out loud. On lazy summer days, when the atmosphere became heavy with the heat, I lay down on the cool, dark, rich earth, looking up into the translucent blue sky through hot simmering air. Made drowsy by the monotonous buzz of bees, I let myself overflow with a child’s dream. It was the loveliest corner in the world. PART 2: WAR REFUGEES Hour after hour, I, a twelve year old, shuffled behind the wagon, battling harsh howling winds, gust of snow and sleep. Sometimes when slowing down, I could feel the steamy warm breath and hear the occasional snorting of following horses near my ears. What if I should fall down? Would I be trampled to death, rolled over by the churning wheels? The trek came to a hold. I was fatigued beyond endurance, almost hallucinating. An overturned wagon on the side of the road, the casualty of mortar fire, beckoned me. Next to its dead horse, still in harness, was leaning against an embankment with its head grotesquely twisted and its legs stiffly sticking upward. Large lumps, faintly bearing human shape, were half buried in a snow tomb. I climbed onto the deserted wagon and curled up between baggage. It snowed heavier. Big beautiful snowflakes floated silently down. Soon, everything would be covered softly, just one white, serene wonderland. I would be asleep, finally blissfully asleep, maybe forever. My eyes closed. I felt myself drifting off peacefully. PART 3: POSTWAR BAD OLDESLOE, GERMANY Hunger was our steady companion. The prayerful sentence “Give us this day our daily bread”, so carelessly uttered by many took on an urgent meaning. To subsidize the meager rations, being near the starvation point, Mother and I went foraging for food. Droves of hungry people from the big City Hamburg, joined us in that venture. They came by trains that were filled beyond capacity. Humans were hanging on the outside like overripe grapes. The trains hardly came to a stop, when everyone jumped down and descended on the already harvested fields, in hope of finding leftovers. We all walked and picked through the scratchy stubble of reaped wheat fields. It was a painful experience. Legs and hands were cut and bleeding. The reward came when found grains were carefully separated from salvaged husks, and Father pounded the kernels into coarse flour. The bread Mother made from it was delicious but hardly enough for five. Putting it into a locked box, she doled it out a few slices at a time. PART 4: AMERICA! AMERICA! THE “GENERAL LANGFITT” I sank down in wet planks in a vacant corner, licking the salty air. Some of my fellow travelers, reeking if garlic, were strolling on deck. Garlic was supposed to be a remedy not only against vampires but also for seasickness. Others, their faces showing greenish hues, joined me. We didn’t exchange pleasantries, simply nodded sympathetically whenever one of us left to lean over the railing. I couldn’t bring myself to return to the mess hall. The thought of food repulsed me. Nevertheless, I was hungry. One night, unable to sleep, listening to the snoring around me, the growling stomach and the constant rattle of the nearby engine, I spotted a couple of oranges alongside the bunk. Impossible! My eyes must have deceived me. But no, soon more followed – big juicy oranges. Neither did I care
If he's had a touch of larceny in him, he could have been the number one card sharp of ail time. Instead the author of these fabulous memoirs, born to a mother who considered gambling "the devils tool" put his extraordinary gifts to far different purposes. He has used his incredible gambling sense, his miraculously dexterous fingers (as a magician he vied with Houdini) his brilliant mathematical mind, and his fascination with carnival and gambling life, to become America's number one authority on gambling and odds. He is the greatest living practitioner and analyst of card and slight of hand ( his artistry impressed FDR as well as underworld overlords). He has been consultant to the top casinos in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Las Vegas. He was chosen by the US Army in World War II to show GI's how not to be fleeced in crooked games. He was a front page witness in 1961 before the Senate's investigation of gambling and crime. There is nothing about the international gambling world - its personalities, stories, methods - that he doesn't know. And his own colorful and knowing personality makes his autobiography one of the most fascinating documents of our day. " Illustrated with 16 pages of photographs, 537 pages.
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NEW YORK CITY, the near future: Mitchell Zukor, a gifted young mathematician, is hired by a mysterious new financial consulting firm, FutureWorld. The business operates out of a cavernous office in the Empire State Building; Mitchell is employee number two. He is asked to calculate worst-case scenarios in the most intricate detail, and his schemes are sold to corporations to indemnify them against any future disasters. This is the cutting edge of corporate irresponsibility, and business is booming. As Mitchell immerses himself in the mathematics of catastrophe—ecological collapse, global war, natural disasters—he becomes obsessed by a culture's fears. Yet he also loses touch with his last connection to reality: Elsa Bruner, a friend with her own apocalyptic secret, who has started a commune in Maine. Then, just as Mitchell's predictions reach a nightmarish crescendo, an actual worst-case scenario overtakes Manhattan. Mitchell realizes he is uniquely prepared to profit. But at what cost? At once an all-too-plausible literary thriller, an unexpected love story, and a philosophically searching inquiry into the nature of fear, Nathaniel Rich's Odds Against Tomorrow poses the ultimate questions of imagination and civilization. The future is not quite what it used to be. An NPR Best Book of 2013
A classic mystery from Dick Francis, the champion of English storytellers. Champion jockey Sid Halley retired from racing when his hand was smashed in a fall. Now he works as a private detective - which is proving to be no less dangerous to life and limb. Recuperating from a bullet wound, Sid is asked by his father-in-law to look into some potentially shady activity involving Seabury racecourse and a ruthless property dealer. But the closer Sid gets to those determined to get their hands on Seabury, the more he finds himself in harm's way. The odds are against him - but that's exactly when Sid is at his best... Praise for Dick Francis: 'As a jockey, Dick Francis was unbeatable when he got into his stride. The same is true of his crime writing' Daily Mirror 'Dick Francis's fiction has a secret ingredient - his inimitable knack of grabbing the reader's attention on page one and holding it tight until the very end' Sunday Telegraph 'The narrative is brisk and gripping and the background researched with care . . . the entire story is a pleasure to relish' Scotsman 'Francis writing at his best' Evening Standard 'A regular winner . . . as smooth, swift and lean as ever' Sunday Express 'A super chiller and killer' New York Times Book Review Dick Francis was one of the most successful post-war National Hunt jockeys. The winner of over 350 races, he was champion jockey in 1953/1954 and rode for HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, most famously on Devon Loch in the 1956 Grand National. On his retirement from the saddle, he published his autobiography, The Sport of Queens, before going on to write forty-three bestselling novels, a volume of short stories (Field of 13), and the biography of Lester Piggott. During his lifetime Dick Francis received many awards, amongst them the prestigious Crime Writers' Association's Cartier Diamond Dagger for his outstanding contribution to the genre, and three 'best novel' Edgar Allan Poe awards from The Mystery Writers of America. In 1996 he was named by them as Grand Master for a lifetime's achievement. In 1998 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List of 2000. Dick Francis died in February 2010, at the age of eighty-nine, but he remains one of the greatest thriller writers of all time.

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