What book have you ever given to another person that you found had even greater good impact than you had hoped? In no more than two sentences, why? A TIME FOR GIVING

November 22, 1998

Kurt Schmoke is mayor of the City of Baltimore.

"Succeeding Against the Odds" by John Johnson. I felt so strongly about the messages in this book that I personally purchased enough copies to give one to every ninth-grade student in the academy of finance program at Lake Clifton-Eastern High School. It apparently encouraged a great number of them to pursue careers in business that they originally thought were not open to them.

Monica Crowley served as foreign policy assistant to former President Richard Nixon from 1990 to his death in 1994 and is the author of "Nixon Off the Record" (1996) and "Nixon in Winter" (1998), both published by Random House. She is completing work for a doctorate in international relations at Columbia University.

In early 1993, I gave former President Richard Nixon a copy of Niccolo Machiavelli's "Discourses," which inspired him with its argument that political action is the best way of life because it's the only way to achieve greatness. In fact, that argument resonated so strongly with Nixon that he used it as a philosophical basis for his last book, "Beyond Peace," published the next year.

Elsbeth Bothe retired from Baltimore Circuit Court after spending 18 years as a judge who tried capital cases; as a lawyer, Bothe represented a number of death row inmates.

"In 1945, when I was a literarily and sexually challenged freshwoman at the University of Chicago, English professor Wallace Fowlie loaned me his personally inscribed, French-published, banned copies of Henry Miller's 'Tropics of Cancer' and 'Capricorn,' the otherwise inaccessible works of the "greatest contemporary writer then extant." I passed the books over to my new boyfriend, letting it be known that my appreciation was diminished by being unable to comprehend a certain four-letter word which frequently popped-up on those pages. The boyfriend dropped me."

John R. Alden, an archeologist, has done field work in northern Chile, Mesoamerica and the Middle East. He has also written two travel articles, on Chile's Atacoma Desert and the Florida Everglades, for the New York Times.

Years ago I reviewed an intriguing first novel, written by a Baltimore-area insurance agent and published by an obscure academic press. I liked the book so much that I ordered a copy for my father, a retired naval officer. He called a few days later to thank me for the book, which had arrived inscribed by the author: "To a real sub driver - Tom Clancy."

Jeff Danziger is a political cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times syndicate and a novelist.

I have given copies of Lampedusa's "The Leopard" to a number of aquaintenances of Italian descent, almost all of whom have become good friends. The novel is a searing delineation of the Italian character, so I must assume that my friends appreciate unpleasant honesty as long as it is beautifully written.

Rosemary Klein is editor of the Maryland Poetry Review and president of the Maryland State Poetry and Literary Society Inc.

I relish giving people T.S. Eliot's "Selected Works," especially those who are familiar with his work primarily through the critical mythology that has branded him an "academic" poet. Though I can never be certain the extent of the impact, experience suggests that once those gifted really read his work, silently and aloud, their perceptions of Eliot change, and, more importantly, as they appreciate the intellectual, philosphical, emotional, sensual and spiritual depths that resonate within his finely wrought poems, they realize the authority and pleasure that inform appreciative readers who venture beyond the barricades of the critical.

Dorothea Straus has written six books, among them "Virgins and Other Species," and "Under the Canopy." She has written for Harper's Bazaar and the Partisan Review.

"Dreams of My Russian Summers" by Andrei Makine, links memories of his boyhood during the late years of communism in rural Russia, with his imaginings of Belle Epoque Paris. A different gulf between generations has been bridged by my granddaughter's mutual enthusiam for this novel.

Lisa Schwarzbaum is a regular contributor to national magazines and critic for Entertainment Weekly. She was previously feature writer at the New York Daily News Sunday Magazine and has worked for the Boston Globe and the Real Paper.

A workplace girlfriend was having those yearnings a tough-chick reporter can get when she hankers to write something with more soul than a daily newspaper allows. I gave her "Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life," Anne Lamott's irresistible meditation/memoir/textbook that makes telling a story sound like the most wonderful thing a person can do in this world - and long story short, my friend just completed her first draft of a novel.

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