We Review the Best of the Latest Books

ISSN 1934-6557

December 2007, Issue #104 Holiday Issue

Arts & Photography / Graphic Design / Art History / History

From Sacred to Secular: Visual Images in Early American Publications by Barbara E. Lacey (The University of Delaware Press)

From Sacred to Secular is an interdisciplinary study of eighteenth-century American culture based on the evidence of illustrated books, maga­zines, pamphlets, almanacs, and broadsides. It uses the illustrated publications as material artifacts to be studied for what they tell of a society's values, ideas, attitudes, and assump­tions. Written by Barbara E. Lacey, professor of history at Saint Joseph College in West Hartford, the book employs the literature of a variety of fields, including history, art history, literature, religion, and the growing scholarship on the history of the book, thus bridging the gap between disciplines. From Sacred to Secular is un­usual because it concentrates on the illustrations, restoring little-known images to the modem viewer, and explores the meanings of an image situated in a text.

Although the American Puritans are often said to have been iconoclastic devotees of ‘the Word,’ their early illustrated publica­tions show they utilized a wide variety of visual images to communicate ideas about re­ligion, people, and politics. The images in the printed texts clarify the meaning of complex ideas, mediating between lay culture and learned culture. While many scholars of image-and-text concentrate on literary as­pects, From Sacred to Secular emphasizes the visual im­ages as primary source materials, analyzing them, pointing to how the image supports or in some cases deconstructs the text.

The term ‘From Sacred to Secular’ refers not to two opposing views, nor to a complete transformation of imagery, but to a spectrum of religious, cultural, and political ideas. Chapters are devoted to memento mori imagery, children's readers, visionary literature, and illustrated Bibles. One chapter shows the demonization of the Indian even as the Indian was being adopted as a symbol of America. Other chapters deal with propaganda for the American Revolution, canonization of lead­ers, secularized roles for women, and sacralization of sites in the new nation. Throughout, analysis of image and text shows that the religious and secular contrasted, coexisted and intermingled in eighteenth-century American illustrated imprint.

The images, first identified in the micro-form Charles Evans Early American Imprint Collection, include many little-known wood-cuts and engravings. From this collection, ap­proximately one hundred images were se­lected for reproduction by means of photo-graphing the original. The publication of this study is timely, appearing when academic discourse and everyday language is engaged in the ‘pictorial turn,’ a fundamental shift involving encoun­ters with and concerns about the visual. Both textbook writers and research scholars are attempting to address the role of nonverbal ex­perience in transmitting and transforming cul­ture and ideology. The meanings of the eighteenth-century images are not self-evident, because they draw upon knowledge of allegories, emblems, and classical refer­ences as well as medieval symbolism, all of which require explication.

Lacey says it becomes clear that religion and the Enlightenment were not antithetical, and that the eighteenth century witnessed not only secularization but the persever­ance of religious values and the beginning of a dis­tinctly modern civil religion, all of which continues to shape American society and culture.

In From Sacred to Secular, nine thematic chapters are arranged in approxi­mately chronological order. Chapter 1 examines the eighteenth-century American religious imagery found in elegiac broadsides, funeral sermons and portrait frontispieces. The next three chapters are devoted to religious works with targeted audiences: chapter 2 discusses primers, or children's readers, in Eng­lish and German, and popular chapbooks; chapter 3 is concerned with accounts of visions and dreams, a highly individualized form of piety, not requiring the mediation of an organized church; chapter 4 exam­ines Bibles and other religious works intended for different denominations, some with typological interpretation. By mid-century, traditional Christian visual imagery began to be employed for overtly political purposes. Chapter 5 deals with stereotypes of the Indian and border warfare between the Protestant English and the Catholic French. Chapter 6 focuses on the American Revolution, during which religious imagery was used in satiric caricature, and the por­trayal of military scenes and memorial sites. In the post-Revolutionary period, both Christian and neo-classical images celebrated the new nation: chapter 7 considers portraits that canonized the new politi­cal leadership, and also looks at Europeans of stature and at the frontispieces of notable American women. Chapter 8 addresses a new understanding of the role of women in the republic and women's new aspira­tions; and chapter 9 examines the consecration of the American landscape in the cities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, and suggests the origins of civil religion. The conclusion highlights a comparison of the Massachusetts Bay Colony seal of 1675 with the United States Great Seal of 1783, and evaluates the hypothesis of secularization.

This study of religion and secularization in early America approaches the subject from a variety of dis­ciplines. It is at the intersection of American studies, art history, material culture, the history of the book, word-and-image studies, and early American social and religious history, each perspective suggesting the value of visual imagery for early American historians and eighteenth-century specialists.

While attention is given to the social and cultural contexts in which these works were created and seen, the principal method of From Sacred to Secular is to examine and interpret the composite pictorial and verbal form, reading it as one might read a text. The narrative alternates between consideration of intellectual and social circumstances and the images themselves. For some of the illustrations, the meaning is illusive; not every viewer, then or now, can read or understand every image, and not everyone will read them in the same way.

Path breaking and timely, these little-known images can be perused and enjoyed by contemporary readers. From Sacred to Secular will be of interest to students of American history and American art at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, scholars of the eighteenth century, and gener­al readers interested in the arts.

Arts & Photography / Native Studies / Folk Art

Alaska Native Art: Tradition, Innovation, Continuity by Susan W. Fair, edited by Jean Blodgett (University of Alaska Press)

When Susan Fair began working on Alaska Native Art in the mid-1990s, it would have been the first publication that dealt with all the Native arts and cultures of Alaska. Now, some ten years later, it is still the first and only book that gives the reader a comprehensive knowledge of the many different Alaskan Native cultures and their art, and it does so with excellent reproductions and a thoughtful, informed, and stimulating text. I am proud to have done something to help this happen. – editor Jean Blodgett, executive director of the Alaska State Council on the Arts, from the preface

Ranging from the islands of the Bering Sea to Alaska's interior forests, Alaska Native Art celebrates the rich art of Alaska's Native peoples, both setting their work in the context of historical traditions and demonstrating the vibrant role it continues to play in contemporary Alaskan culture. Alaska Native Art showcases a staggering array of types of art – from beadwork to ivory carving, basketry to skin sewing – from Aleutian Islander, Pacific Eskimo, Tlingit, Athabaskan, Yup'ik, and Inupiaq artists, as well as full-color photographs of artists at work. For Alaska's Native artists, their art is comprised of much beyond a single life – it is the expression of thousands of years of cultural heritage. This historical influence contributes immense depth and dimension to the work of Native artists.

Illustrated with full-color photographs of artists and their works, Alaska Native Art examines the concept of tradition in the modern world. Susan W. Fair demonstrates that tradition is alive and well in Alaska through the words of Native artists and a multitude of examples, reproduced in color and accompanied by historic photographs.

Fair (1948-2003) was a folklorist, curator, and advocate for Native peoples. She received her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1994 and published extensively on Alaska Native art, including two chapters in the catalog Eskimo Drawings (2003). She curated major art exhibits across Alaska and worked throughout her life to increase respect for and appreciation of Alaska Native artists and their work.

Alaska Native Art is intended as a study of material culture and of cultural attitudes about art and the making of art. It examines a number of issues regarding several permanent Percent for Art and corporate collections of Alaska Native art curated between 1989 and 1999. Initially, this book was meant to serve as an interpretive catalogue for the major Percent for Art exhibition Tradition, Innovation, Continuity, at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. As time went by, Fair curated three more standing exhibitions. Many of the objects collected for Tradition, Innovation, Continuity are illustrated in the book, while fewer items are included from the other exhibitions.

Fair said that the emphasis on persons and culture throughout the book, in addition to the discussion of objects, was an important one to her as a folklorist. She found it inappropriate, even impossible, to separate material things from the people who make and use them. She preferred to focus on the way in which the construction of material things requires the genius of individual expression, the influence of many people, the intervention of memory and collective tradi­tion, and, often, the need to make an honest living doing what one does best. There must be a context to an object for any analysis of objects. The book was written to document that context as well as to record the objects in these exhibitions.

In Alaska Native Art, Fair discusses the methodologies she used while curating exhibitions. These sections explore a curator's vision for an exhibition and its design. Working with ethnographic objects as opposed to new materials is much like the distinction between archaeology and ethnography. In the ethnographic context, participants may be willing to contribute their skills and knowledge, but they are also in the midst of their own lives, and a researcher must keep pace with them. Ethnographic arts are often out of context or immobilized in a museum collection, while an exhibition and its interpretations brings them back to light, to life. Conversely, a ‘contemporary’ object may not even be manufactured at the time when the exhibition was envisioned. Fair was interested in how tradition flowed through the exhibition and in the perceptions of what was traditional and what was considered contemporary. This curiosity was fueled by the stance taken by the Percent for Art com­mittee, who felt most comfortable with objects that looked old. They used the term ‘traditional,’ like most non-Native people do, in a careless though well-intentioned way. Much of the current debate about tradition – centered in the fields of folklore, aesthetic anthropology, archaeology, and art history – is presented as theory, or resembles theory. But it is essentially an extended dis­cussion constantly modified, an attempt to rein in the terms ‘tradition’ and ‘traditional’ and to use them in a more focused manner. Fair’s analysis thus reflects upon the ways in which tradition has been defined by scholars. But her foremost goal in Alaska Native Art is to demonstrate how Native artists from a number of different groups use, live with, discard, reinvent, and think about their traditions as they make their art and live their lives.

This wonderful book reflects Susan Fair's years of experience working with Alaska Native artists throughout the state and represents a unique contribution to our understanding of traditional, transitional, and contemporary Alaska Native art. – Nelson H.H. Graburn, Professor of Anthropology and Curator at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley and author of Ethnic and Tourist Arts

Susan Fair's illuminating book is as brilliant and original as she was. She provides a vivid account of the works of Alaska Native artists, bringing to life not only the artworks, but also the artists so often neglected in scholarly studies. – Molly Lee, Curator of Ethnology, University of Alaska Museum of the North

Alaska Native Art takes the Tradition, Innovation, Continuity exhibit as a point of departure, building upon its foundation by providing greater insight into the lives of the artists behind the objects, describing the culture and history of the Native peoples whose work is the root of the collection. Beautifully illustrated, lavishly produced, and featuring a fascinating study of the concept of tradition in the modern world, the book is a gift to Alaska's Native artists from Fair and her legacy. The wide range of work make this landmark volume the most comprehensive study of Alaskan art ever published. This is a volume to treasure, a tribute to the incredible vision of Alaska's artists and to the enduring traditions of Alaska's Native peoples.

Arts & Photography / Painting / History & Criticism

Poussin Paintings: A Catalogue Raisonné by Christopher Wright (Chaucer Press)

Nicholas Poussin was the founder and the greatest practitioner of seventeenth-century French classical painting and is widely regarded as one of the most important artists of all time.
Born in Normandy, Poussin (1594-1665) was in his early twenties before his interest in the arts led him to Rome. He detached himself from the popular Baroque movement of his native school, choosing instead to echo the monumentality and classical clarity of the Renaissance. Poussin's influences, from the sensuous renderings of Titian to the later, bolder themes of antiquity, mythology and religion produced an impressive collection of paintings ranging from The Worship of the Golden Calf (c.1634) to Four Seasons (c.1664, painted shortly before his death). All his works testified to a strong classical idiom and, though Poussin did not live to see his style accepted, his combination of clarity and logic strongly influenced classically oriented artists such as Benjamin West, Jacques-Louis David and Paul Cézanne.

In Poussin Paintings, illustrated in full color, Christopher Wright, distinguished art historian, specialist in seventeenth-century painting and world authority on Vermeer, charts Poussin's stylistic development in 17th century Rome from his experimental early pictures through to the uncompromising works of his later years. He discusses the Sacraments as an interrelated series of moods and analyzes the serene poetry of the landscapes. Wright presents considered arguments on the interpretation of Poussin's corpus of paintings as well as the controversies surrounding the authenticity of many of them.

The first edition of Poussin Paintings was completed in 1982 and published in 1985. Since then a large number of small changes have been made to Poussin's oeuvre, resulting in what amounts to a reappraisal of his art. The change has been the elimination of many of the old controversies about authenticity and chronology. There is now a much greater consensus of opinion as to the evolution of the artist's early work, and according to Wright, Poussin's ability to repeat himself in his declining years is also now accepted.

Of all the French painters of the seventeenth century Nicolas Poussin has been taken as the one person to epitomize an age – that of Louis XIV. Nothing could be further from the truth – but it has always been the temptation for writers and intellectuals to seize upon the unique and consider it to be typical of its times. According to Wright, only later interpretation and admiration turned Nicolas Poussin into an establishment figure and it was only after his death that his art became an ideal which young students in the French academy were supposed to copy. Poussin Paintings considers the ways in which Poussin, especially in his mature years, went against the conventions of his time and produced a unique art.

As a center of attraction for artists educated in any of the other states in Italy, Rome was of paramount importance. More important for the purposes of this account is the fact that Rome later became the main cultural center for foreign artists from all over the rest of Europe to learn their profession, although a surprising number of these returned permanently to their native countries. Poussin therefore must be seen as a relatively rare exception of a painter who was prepared to stick it out in his difficult early years and then to remain, firstly as a successful painter with adequate patrons, and in his last years as a grand old master revered by all. Poussin was out of tune with the French court and could not in any event provide the large decorative cycle for the Grande Galerie of the Louvre which he was required to do. Unlike so many of his contemporaries Poussin seems to have been impervious to many of the trends around him.

As told in Poussin Paintings, most of Poussin's landscapes fall into the category loosely called ‘classical’. The main ingredient was the careful rearrangement of nature both in composition and lighting. So few of these great landscapes survive and they are so scattered that it is difficult to imagine their impact together. If his figures were composed from wax models in a little theatre, as is well known, then Poussin's landscapes were composed from an intimate knowledge of nature. This is proved by Poussin's all too few surviving drawings of the Roman Campagna. The twentieth century prejudice against Poussin was exacerbated by Cezanne's all too famous statement that he ‘wanted to do Poussin again, from nature’. The implication of this comment, even if Cezanne did not mean it, was that Poussin did not work from nature.

But Poussin responded to nature with a serene poetry. His drawings of trees and hills show an excitement for natural phenomena – an appreciation of the nuances of light caught with the sepia wash. When translated into paint it is inevitable that Poussin would change his knowledge into something more formal. Yet formality in Poussin's landscapes has been overestimated. The most severe, the Funeral and Burial of Motion have usually been taken as typical, yet they are unique in Poussin's land­scapes in being stage-like in their composition.

Almost all Poussin’s pictures reveal an extreme sensitivity towards his chosen interests. They disconcert today because we rarely make the time to look at them. Wright says that Poussin's art must stand or fall on its own merits and in many respects Poussin failed. He only achieved his goal of the victory of mind over eye on a few occasions. He paid the price for this in two ways. He has been the darling of intellectuals for three centuries, as a consequence inspiring much pedantry. The second way is more serious and less foreseeable in his time. It is simply that for a time the intellect has gone out of fashion as one of the necessary accomplishments in looking at a picture and in modern terms Poussin seemingly appeals only to the learned, but Poussin Paintings disproves this easily held point of view by displaying the genius of a man who hid his abilities much of the time by trying too hard.

There has always been a tendency to deny the visual impact of Poussin's greatest pictures, and instead there has been a preference for explanations of the moral and intellectual background to his art. Poussin's sense of color was unique, and the chromatic intensity of his predominating blues, reds and yellows outshines so many of his more austere contemporaries. Poussin is the only artist in the whole history of art who came close to achieving an impossibility. It was Poussin's vowed intention to make the spectator think and feel, even at the expense of denying him visual pleasure. From this, in the last twenty years of his life, Poussin never wavered. He produced some very complex and nearly incomprehensible pictures as a consequence, but he also brought into the world a few canvasses which bravely prove that the mind can triumph over the eye.

A Frenchman who lived in Rome for 40 years, Nicolas Poussin was one of the most influential painters of the 17th century, yet today, largely ignored by the general public, he is admired only by scholars and artists. His best pictures are dark meditations on tragedy and death, while his happy pictures of drunken, posed bacchanals are almost ludicrous to the modern taste. Even his landscapes point to a moral. Wright has sought to restore Poussin's importance and meaning for our time, and, with the aid of some 200 color plates, he has succeeded. … Poussin's avowed goal was to make the spectator think and his religious or mythological scenes here emerge as the working out of an ethical viewpoint. Wright enables us to see this without over-emphasizing Christian or classical symbolism. – Publishers Weekly
Few artists have vexed scholars as much as Poussin; the authenticity of several dozen of some 200 paintings purported to be his work is still being questioned. This is the seventh catalogue raisonne on Poussin, and Wright disputes some earlier opinions regarding the undocumented paintings. … This treatise is both a readable introduction for the sophisticated layperson and a synthesis of critical opinion for the scholar. Highly recommended. – Eleanor Riley, Getty Conservation Institute Librarian, Marina del Rey, CA, Library Journal

This book on Poussin represents the culmination of Wright’s many years of research and study. Wright’s revealing Poussin Paintings is a major contribution to the historical analysis of Poussin’s complete and sometimes misunderstood oeuvre, as well as a fitting tribute to the instinctive and poetic genius of this complex artist. With over 200 full-color and many full-page prints, he also illuminates issues of authenticity.

Biographies & Memoirs / History / US / Social Science

Touch and Go: A Memoir by Studs Terkel (New Press)

My curiosity keeps me going. My epitaph is all set: ‘Curiosity did not kill this cat.’ I took a vacation once – it involved a beach – and to tell you the truth, I had no idea what to do with myself. It was torture. Work is life. Without it, there is no life. – Studs Terkel

The extraordinary life and times of an American icon – the Pulitzer Prize-winning oral historian's long-awaited memoir is titled Touch and Go.
At nearly ninety-five, Studs Terkel has written about everyone's life, it seems, but his own. In Touch and Go, he offers a memoir embodying the spirit of the man himself.
Terkel begins by taking readers back to his early childhood with his father, mother, and two older brothers, describing the hectic life of a family trying to earn a living in Chicago. He then goes on to recall his own experiences – as a poll watcher charged with stealing votes for the Democratic machine, as a young theatergoer, and eventually as an actor himself in both radio and on the stage. Terkel details his long journey through law school, the air force, theater, radio, early television, sports commentary and jazz criticism. He tells of his beginnings as a disc jockey after World War II and as an interviewer and oral historian – a craft he would come to perfect and indeed personify, from the adult loners of his youth in Chicago's Wells-Grand Hotel, to New Deal politicians. Finally, he discusses his involvement with progressive politics, leading inevitably to his travails during the McCarthy period when he was blacklisted and thrown out of work despite having become by then one of the country's most popular TV hosts.
Born in 1912, Studs Terkel is the bestselling author of twelve books of oral history, including Working, Hard Times, and The Good War. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a Presidential National Humanities Medal and the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

Touch and Go offers readers the experience of sitting next to Studs, hearing him talk and discovering what a fantastic raconteur he is. Fans of Terkel will find that he's still the same idealist, fighter, and chronicler of American life as he always was.

After a lifetime of interviewing others, Terkel finally turns the tape recorder on himself. At least, that's what he would have us think. Terkel's memoir is more a medley of all the extraordinary characters he's encountered through his career…. Surprisingly, a 12-time author who has built a career on emerging media is a hopeless Luddite. Unskilled with his tape recorder, the bread and butter of an oral historian, Terkel modestly attributes his knack for getting people to open up about their lives to his own ineptitude and slovenliness. This memoir, however, is a fitting portrait of a legendary talent who seeks truth with compassion, intelligence, moxie and panache. Never one to back down from authority, Terkel cracks jokes in law school classrooms and filibusters FBI visits by quoting long passages from Thoreau and Paine. … He laments the national Alzheimer's afflicting this country, and fears the consequences if we don't regain consciousness. Americans might get to know their collective past a lot better if all history lessons were as absorbing and entertaining as this one. – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A sort of masterpiece about a life which itself is a sort of masterpiece, Touch and Go is a most remarkable book. Every chapter opens new vistas and new aspects of Studs Terkel's amazing autobiography – from the thousands of figures he recalls, and often captures unforgettably; to the beautiful interweaving of past and present; to the enormous sense of life, and loving life, which seems to burst out of every page. – Oliver Sacks

Studs Terkel, a Chicago institution, a national treasure, and the world's leading extractor of other people's stories, has at last given us his own. Less a memoir than an artfully woven series of memories – bitter and sweet, sexy and morally uplifting, intimate and historically significant – Touch and Go shows that at age ninety-five our country's numero-uno question-asker is still asking, still fighting the good fight. – Victor Navasky

The master storyteller tells his own story, as no one else can, irresistibly. When he had a television show about a diner called Studs' Place, it was so real to some people that they wrote asking for its address. Now we know that the real address of Studs' Place is – everywhere. – Garry Wills

If Studs Terkel were Japanese, he'd be a Sacred Treasure. His lifetime has spanned the boom times of the Twenties, the Depression, World War II, the McCarthy red-hunting era, the civil rights movement, the hippie activists of the late Sixties, and on into present times. By now, the man requires an adjective of his own – Terkelesque. – Margaret Atwood, The New York Review of Books

History from a highly personal point of view, by one who has helped make it. – Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

In Touch and Go, Terkel offers a memoir which is youthful, vivacious, and enormous fun, like the man himself, giving readers a brilliant and often hilarious portrait of the Chicago of the 1920s and '30s. Fans of Terkel will find much to discover in these remarkable reminiscences. Others will be captivated to learn of the unique and eclectic life of one of America's greatest living legends.

Business & Investing / Economics

Untangling the US Deficit: Evaluating Causes, Cures and Global Imbalances by Richard A. Iley & Mervyn K. Lewis (Edward Elgar Publishing)

As the US current account deficit has expanded to a record of $811 billion in 2006, debate about the deficit's causes and consequences has also grown. Is the deficit a product of American profligacy or a ‘glut of savings’ in the rest of the world? Is it a serious problem or benign?

Untangling the US Deficit charts a course between the competing explanations in a systematic and rigorous approach, incorporating the latest academic research and market data. Particular attention is given to the China-United States trade imbalance and to the special role the US dollar and US capital markets in global finance.

Authors Richard A. Iley and Mervyn K. Lewis say that writing a book on the US current account deficit was a challenge that neither of them could resist. With the United States absorbing four-fifths of the world's cross-border savings, this imbalance is perhaps the biggest issue in the international economy. In addition, with the funds flowing from some of the poorest countries to the richest, the global imbalances take on an extra dimension, as summed up by the view that the flow is ‘fundamentally perverse’.

Both of the authors have been involved with the question of current account deficits for some time. One of them – Iley, Senior Economist, BNP Paribas, New York, a market economist immersed in the daily ebb and flow of financial markets reacting to and affected by the US deficit – welcomed the opportunity that the book offered, to sit back and take a longer-term perspective. The other – Lewis, Professor of Banking and France at the University of South Australia, and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, an academic, who was involved in the debates on current account deficits in the Australian context some fifteen years ago – was glad of the opportunity to see how the literature had changed over the intervening years and to examine matters from the very different vantage point of the US economy.

According to Iley and Lewis, as it turned out, one major difference from the past comes from the sheer variety of views that US academics and others have put forward to account for the phenomenon of the US external deficit. The first task they had was to develop an organizing framework to deal with the different hypotheses, with the aim of producing the most comprehensive account to date of the various views and how they contribute to the story of the evolution of the US current account deficit.

Because the United States occupies such a central position in the world order, an analysis of the US deficit necessarily overlaps with global geopoli­tics and the United States' relationships with China, Japan, the European Union, oil exporters and others. While they have not deliberately sought to emphasize such international geopolitical factors, they cannot be ignored and they have certainly not tried to interpret everything solely in economic terms.

According to Untangling the US Deficit, the different ways of looking at the current account deficit are derived from basic accounting identities involving the current and capital account items in the balance of payments, and from linking these with the national income and production accounts. As with any identity, no causation can be deduced from the various approaches. A nation with a current account deficit will have a capital account surplus. Whether this situation is caused by developments in goods markets or in financial markets, either at home or abroad, cannot be ascertained without additional information. The different perspectives do, nonetheless, highlight some linkages between spending, consumption, savings and invest­ment behavior in one country and its payments position with the rest of the world. While the expenditure data and the balance-of-payments data cannot offer any prescriptive advice to either private or public decision-makers, knowledge of the magnitudes and the alternative viewpoints may be useful for private decision-makers, or they may suggest the need for some microeconomic or macroeconomic policy adjustments.

Iley and Lewis’ analysis is based around the four alternative ways of thinking about a country's current account balance and how it adjusts to policy and other changes:

  • Trade balance approach. A country's current account position measures the balance between exports and imports of goods and services plus the income from or the cost of ser­vicing existing net international assets and liabilities and net transfer pay­ments. This approach focuses mainly on the determinants of exports and imports with an emphasis on real exchange rates and the competitiveness of exportables and import replacement industries.
  • Absorption approach. A country's current account position reflects an imbalance between total domestic use of resources (‘absorption’) and total domestic production or availability of goods and services. This perspective emphasizes policies that affect total domestic demand and supply.
  • Savings and investment approach. A country's current account position indicates an imbalance between domestic saving and domestic investment. This viewpoint concentrates on the determinants of domestic private sector and government saving, and the relative attractiveness of domestic investment opportunities.
  • Portfolio balance approach. Since a country's current account position is mirrored by the capital account position and a change in net foreign assets, it reflects the balance between the net external demand for and supply of a country's financial assets. This capital account perspective focuses on relative rates of return, liquidity, risk and wealth allocation decisions.

Each of these four analytical perspectives, equally valid because of their definitional equivalence, can be thought of as having a ‘domestic’ version and a ‘global’ or ‘international’ version (or ‘Nth country’ version).

The plan of Untangling the US Deficit is as follows. Chapters 2 and 3 focus on the causes of the US current account deficit. The analysis is built around the four major analytical strands: the trade balance view (related to exports, imports and debt servicing); the absorption view (revolving around domestic demand and supply); the savings and investment view (concerning the imbalance between investment and savings); and the portfolio balance view (involving the demand for dollar financial assets). Chapter 2 considers the trade per­spective, while Chapter 3 looks at the other three approaches. Each of these analytical frameworks is examined and assessed from a US domestic perspective and from a global viewpoint.

The international dimension is the subject of Chapter 4. In addition to the ‘global savings glut’ view, a number of economists have christened the current configuration of international capital flows as ‘Bretton Woods II’. Various hypotheses built around this theme are sur­veyed in this chapter.

Chapter 5 focuses on the nature of the adjustment mechanisms to pay­ments imbalances in the context of a world system of independent curren­cies and ‘international financial laissez-faire’. Thanks to the arguments of Alan Greenspan and others to the effect that there has been a ‘sea change’ recently in the degree of globalization and reduction in home bias of investment portfolios, there is now emerging a greater appreciation of the implications of this environment for global imbalances. The upshot of these views is a marked change in the rules of the game for debtor countries (and the sustainability of imbalances) due to capital's much greater ability to flow across borders.

This leads to the question of sustainability and Chapter 6 considers alternative scenarios of the extent and sustainability of the US current account position. The orthodox analysis of the dynamics of the current account balance serves as the starting point, but the conclusions of this analysis are found to be compromised by the ‘unorthodox’ behavior of the United States' external balance sheet. There then follows a detailed exam­ination of the ‘investment income riddle’, the ‘net international investment position enigma’, the ‘dark matter’ debate and the ‘black hole’ in the global financial system.

What becomes apparent is that the sustainability of the US deficit is con­ditioned by the nature and composition of international holdings of US dollar assets. For this reason, Chapter 7 concentrates on the demand for US assets, starting with the implications of a reduction in home bias for the financing of the US deficit. The chapter then goes on to examine the main sources of capital flows to the United States over the last decade. The final section of the chapter considers whether the euro might eventually displace the dollar in its international monetary role.

Chapter 8 is concerned with the China-United States relationship. For many Americans the US trade deficit is synonymous with China and there are many who see the balance of economic power shifting across the Pacific to Asia, with China at its head as the next ‘superpower’. Already, the con­tribution of Asia (China, India, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan) to the growth in world GDP from 2001-2005 at 21 per cent exceeds America's 19 per cent. The chapter tries to put these issues in perspective, and examines the economic issues that confront China and the question of whether its own agenda matches this vision. Finally, the chapter takes up what is for the United States, the vexing issue of China's exchange rate regime.

Finally, Chapter 9 presents Iley and Lewis’ conclusions and recommendations for policy.

What are the causes of the US current account deficit? Are the problems ‘made in the US’ or the rest of the world? Are these deficits sustainable, at what level? These are the types of questions the authors set out to answer and in essence conclude that the answers do not matter for global stability as long as imbalances are left to market forces and the US can avoid large net income outflows. The beauty of this book, however, is watching authors (the unusual combination of a business economist and academic economist) arrive at this conclusion. They provide insights that can come only from years of practical and theoretical experience. – William E. Becker, Professor of Economics, Indiana University, Bloomington, and Editor, Journal of Economic Education

Untangling the US Deficit is a unique and well-researched book and will be of great interest to academic economists and postgraduates. Policy-makers, business and market economists will also find it an enlightening and challenging analysis.

Cooking, Food & Wine

The Anheuser-Busch Cookbook: Great Food, Great Beer by the Editors of Sunset Books, with photography by Noel Barnhurst (Sunset Books)

  • Do you know the difference between an American-style premium lager and a European-style pilsner?
  • What is the best beer to serve with a pepper steak? What about with a great chocolate dessert?
  • What did breweries do during Prohibition?
  • Did you know that Congress once pondered the need for a Secretary of Beer?

Finally, a cookbook that brings together two of America's favorite pastimes – home cooking and enjoying the great taste of beer. Anheuser-Busch, an American authority on beer, presents The Anheuser-Busch Cookbook.

The Anheuser-Busch Cookbook has recipes for grilling, one-pot specialties, and lots of other easy-to-prepare, crowd-pleasing foods. The dishes range from appetizers to (yes!) desserts, and every recipe was selected because it is something that goes great with beer, whether an American-style premium lager, a European-style pilsner, an English-style pale ale, or a dry stout. For example, readers can try Spicy Shrimp Cakes with Corn Salsa, Pepper Steaks with Balsamic Onions, Leek and Chanterelle Tart, or Grill-Baked Apple Crisp. Readers will also find many recipes that call for beer as a key ingredient. Among these are Creamy Lager and Jalapeño Soup, Chicken with Amber Lager and Honey, and Maerzen-Braised Short Ribs.

The book features menus for celebratory gatherings including Tailgates & Picnics, Ski-Country Retreats, Clambakes on the Beach, plus a special Beer-Tasting Menu. There is a glossary of beer terms, A Cook's Guide to Beer, so every cook feels like a pro. Included is a traditional recipe index as well as an index by type of beer. The book also has a foreword by August A. Busch IV, Vice President and Group Executive of the Company.

Beer connoisseurs may point out the book's most compelling feature: the Brewmaster in the Kitchen. Created by Anheuser-Busch experts, ‘Brewmaster’ icons appear throughout, denoting the recommended type of beer – a hoppy lager, an amber ale, or a full-bodied stout, for instance – that best complements each recipe.

The Anheuser-Busch Cookbook raises a glass to that most iconic of American beverages: beer. And who better to come bearing gifts of great-tasting, beer-friendly recipes than Anheuser-Busch? Lavishly photographed, the book gives readers a close-up look at many of the recipes, making the book as beautiful as it is useful. With 185 easy-to-make recipes, this book makes it a simple matter to pair beer with food and easy to gift the beer lover.

Education / Instruction / Age range 7-16

Motivating Learners in the Classroom: Ideas and Strategies (with CD-ROM) by Gavin Reid (Paul Chapman Publishing)

Motivating Learners in the Classroom shows readers how to recognize and meet the individual needs of different kinds of learners, and provides strategies for helping pupils develop their own successful approach to learning.

The key message of the book is that motivation is crucial for effective learning and motivation develops from an understanding of the learning process. That process relates to the complete learning experience – the learner's preferences, the expectations placed on the learner, the task, the teaching process, learning strategies, the resources and the learning environment. The role of management and school ethos are also considered as school systems can have implications for motivation and effective learning.

Written by Gavin Reid, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Motivating Learners in the Classroom is principally about helping teachers help learners build a solid foundation that will assist in the development of motivation and effective learning and promote learner independence. The book is not a ‘pick and mix’ collection of ideas on learning, but focuses on planning for learning, developing the foundations for learning and learner autonomy. The learning plans, the emotional and cognitive factors and how learning is presented and assessed, as well as the fundamental issue of motivation, are all crucial elements of the book.

The book contains:

  • Ideas for ways to motivate all pupils.
  • A chapter on learning styles in the early years.
  • Advice on how to create the best learning environment possible.
  • Questionnaires, memory games and organizational charts.
  • Key practice points.
  • Visual summaries at the end of each chapter.

Some key points are highlighted throughout Motivating Learners in the Classroom – ideas to try in the classroom that allow readers to have a complete matrix of the processes involved in independent and effective learning. Additionally, the CD-ROM included with the book provides many tried and tested strategies related to each of the chapters. A visual overview is included at the end of each chapter, supplying a global and visual picture for visual learners. The Key points of a chapter can be found at the start of each chapter.

The first chapter provides an outline and a rationale for the book in order to establish the importance of the foundations of the learning experience for devel­oping effective learning. Chapter 2 focuses on motivation. According to Reid, teachers often have to think of ways of motivating learners, but learning is more effective if a learner can develop self-motivation.

Chapter 3 highlights the importance of self-knowledge. This chapter examines different learning styles and shows how styles and preferences can be used to develop effective learning skills. Chapter 4 looks at the learning environment and the crucial part it plays in effective learning. Learners have to be aware of the impact different environments can have on their learning. Chapter 5 focuses on memory and looks at aspects of recalling, revising, reviewing and reflecting. The emphasis is on using information to enhance understanding.

Chapter 6 looks at the type of tasks that can be developed to help learners and provides examples of tasks for different types of learners. Some learners such as those with dyslexia or attention difficulties will require a highly structured task. Structure can usually benefit all learners. Learning should be fun, and the research indicates that learners function more effectively in a stress-free environment. This is the key theme of Chapter 7, which focuses on preparing the ‘whole school’ emotionally for the learning experience – this can be done through emotional literacy programs and through social leaning activities. There is an emphasis on managing stress – both organizational stress and individual stress – in this chapter.

Chapter 8 looks carefully at managing learning in the classroom situation. This chapter includes suggestions for behavior management, the need to be proactive and the type of support that can be beneficial for students with additional needs. This chapter also suggests 20 key principles for classroom management. Chapter 9 highlights key aspects of an effective school, taking a whole-school approach. The implication is that classroom learning will be more effective if the school itself is effec­tive. This is an institutional responsibility and this chapter discusses the role of school climate, school ethos and school management.

Finally, Chapter 10 provides some reflections on the key issues and strategies contained in Motivating Learners in the Classroom. It is important that readers contextualize the messages of the book for their own learn­ing context and this chapter encourages readers to translate some of these into their own teaching and learning situations.

The enclosed CD-ROM, age range 7-16, provides activities to try out. The first section of the CD contains practical guidance on some of the key points from the book. Although most of the activities are based on specific chapters, some of the more general strategies are based on the book as a whole. The second part of the CD is a PowerPoint presentation based on the book and can be contextualized for staff development activities.

The practical ideas offered in Motivating Learners in the Classroom will be invaluable to class teachers, trainee teachers, learning support staff and the school management team. The book is directed at all those concerned with the experience of learning and demonstrates how teachers can make learning more efficient and effective for all students. Encouraging a climate of success among learners, it has potential to help all pupils become better learners.

Education / Pedagogy / High School

Engaging the Disengaged: How Schools Can Help Struggling Students Succeed by Lois Brown Easton (Corwin Press)

Based on Lois Brown Easton's experience working with disengaged learners in Eagle Rock, Colorado, Engaging the Disengaged helps educators make positive connections with youngsters of all ages who are at risk of failing or dropping out. Featuring the voices of educators and students, this text covers methods for improving the school-wide climate in ways that support all students and for creating a learning environment that promotes academic, personal, and social growth. Easton, consultant, coach, and author, recently retired as Director of Professional Development at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, Estes Park, Colorado, illustrates how to make meaningful changes in curriculum and instruction and examines the importance of:

  • Teacher-student relationships.
  • Innovative teaching strategies for struggling learners.
  • Developing self-directed learners.
  • Using appropriate assessments for students with learning difficulties.

According to Easton, engagement is not simply a matter of motivating students extrinsically or intrinsically – although we know that intrinsic engagement is usually the better of the two. What we want in schools is what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in 1990 called ‘flow.’ Bruya and Olwell suggest that Csikszentmihalyi's concept of flow, "the psychological process that describes how people balance skill, inter­est, and challenge – may hold an important piece of the puzzle of school reform". If the challenge level is too high or too low, learners may disengage from learning, even drop out. If challenge and skill are well matched, students are more likely to be engaged; if the activity connects to the rest of their lives and their interests, they are even more likely to be engaged.

In Engaging the Disengaged, flow is evidence of engagement and engagement stands for all the aspects of school that can be changed to help struggling students want to learn and keep learning. One premise of the book is that engaged students are learning students. Another premise is that schools can do something about engagement. Providing more engaging contexts for learning is not a matter of erecting a three-ring circus tent in the multi-purpose room. According to Easton, the everyday nature of schools can be changed to be more engaging: curriculum, instruction, assessment, the school's culture.

If interviewed about this notion, most students would say that responsi­bility for their lack of engagement is not just a school's problem. They would acknowledge that they have some role themselves in becoming engaged and learning. Given the statistics about students who become lost to learning and the simple moral imperative of education for all, schools must work hard to engage students in their learning, no matter how they come to their opportunities to learn.

The chapters in Engaging the Disengaged include:

Part I: Improving the Culture for Struggling Students

  1. "What About Test Scores?" From a Testing to a Learning Culture. This chapter explores how real learning improves test scores.
  2. "What Do You Mean, Build Relationships? My Job Is to Teach History". Relationships Are as Important as Content. This chapter explores what it is about relationships that advance learning as well as how to build rela­tionships with students.
  3. "What's Community Got to Do With Learning?" Intentional Learning Communities Foster Learning. This chapter builds on the necessity of relationships. It con­siders students as teachers and teachers as students in a Whole-School Learning Community.
  4. "So, What About Discipline?" How Principles Govern a School Better Than Rules. This chapter uses as an example the principles that guide Eagle Rock and how they are much more than a plaque on a wall. Principles – not rules – result in a culture that is meaningful and important to struggling students.
  5. "What's Democratic About Schools?" A Democratic School Helps Students Learn. Most schools are autocratic and top-down. This chapter explores the reasons for schools to behave democratically as well as how they can do so. Struggling students understand the value and responsibility of power and authority.

Part II: Improving Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment for Struggling Students

  1. "What About Standards?" Developing Curriculum According to the Right Standards. This chapter contrasts the conventional way of giving credit to students (seat time and grades) with a truly standards-based approach. It introduces curriculum that is based on documentation. And it also introduces the magic of high expectations. Struggling students become engaged in their own learning when they are in charge of their own learning; this chapter shows how students can be standards-based.
  2. "How Do You Get Them to Learn?" Innovative Instructional Strategies Help Students Learn. This chapter highlights certain conventional strategies of instruction that work especially well with struggling students. It also describes a variety of out­lier strategies – power, voice, choice, accountability, transparency of the curriculum, students as teachers, self-directed learning, and service – that are surprisingly effective in helping students engage in their own learning.
  3. "How Do You Know They've Learned?" Learning from Assessing Learning. Learning happens for students and staff when assessment is for learning. This chapter focuses on two mechanisms Eagle Rock uses to assess for learning: documentations of learning and Presentations of Learning. Teachers learn the logistics of both types of assessment, how they work in a real school setting. They get some ideas about what to do if students are not learning.

The conclusion returns to the focus of Engaging the Disengaged: the student. Teachers look at what educating the whole student means, with a special focus on personal growth without labeling students. They also examine a number of strategies – beliefs and culture, structures, program, and curriculum, instruction and assessment – that help a school embed personal growth into the whole of the school.

The teacher who knows how to re-engage a child in his or her own learning is a treasure indeed, as is the school that supports such a teacher. Easton tells the stories of these teachers in one such school. They are stories from which all teachers – and principals, school boards, parents, and students – can learn. – Ted and Nancy Sizer

An inspiring book! Easton's clear, compelling writing is made more vivid by the wonderful real-life examples. – Dennis Sparks, Emeritus Executive Director, National Staff Development Council

Principals – particularly secondary school principals – should find this book and Easton's earlier work to be all the basic resources required. It is comprehensive and deals with the critical issues of the day. – Richard W. Clark, Executive Vice President, Institute for Educational Inquiry

This insightful and invaluable resource is about changing the culture of schools so that it is more humane and inhabitable for struggling learners. Filled with real examples, Engaging the Disengaged inspires teachers to create an integrated system of support which can make a significant change in their school's culture to engage developing minds and champion all learners, regardless of socioeconomic factors.

Entertainment / Movies / Biographies & Memoirs

Judy Garland by Paul Donnelley (Haus Publishing)

Judy Garland (1922-1969) was one of the greatest performers of the 20th century, whose fame and popularity have long outlasted her early death at the age of 47. Forever associated with the role of Dorothy in the film The Wizard of Oz and the song she sang in it, 'Somewhere over the Rainbow', the demands first of her ambitious mother and then the studio bosses effectively robbed her of a normal childhood while at the same time forcing her to maintain her ‘girl next door’ image and a punishing work schedule with near-starvation diets and amphetamines, resulting in a dependence on drugs and alcohol which finally ended her career and her life, when she died of a drug overdose in a flat in Chelsea.

Judy Garland, an illustrated biography, gives the story of her treatment at the hands of the studios, and how widespread critical success and the devotion of her many fans failed to keep the demons in her soul at bay. One of the greatest female stars of all time, and the best-remembered singing star of Hollywood's Golden Era of musical film, nearly 40 years after her death her recordings are still available and any fragments of memorabilia are instantly collectable, proving her enduring appeal.
According to author Paul Donnelley, the Judy Garland story is anything but straightforward. Even though historically she was born comparatively recently, much myth and misinformation has already entered the Garland lore. Supposedly respected biographers give different versions of tales. Was Judy's stage debut an accident or was it planned? Names are consistently spelled in different ways. Were her sisters named Jimmy and Suzy or Jimmie and Suzie?

Donnelley, journalist and TV writer who has written extensively on show business and cinema subjects, in Judy Garland says he thought he knew a fair amount about Judy but when he began research in earnest he was shocked by the stories he learned. The way that Judy was used and abused by MGM was truly terrible. In 2007 movie stars go to extreme lengths to protect their public images, for example, loving couples that really hate each other are careful not to let their animosity become public knowledge. Homosexual leading men marry willing women to hide their true natures lest their careers be harmed by the truth. The young Judy Garland did not have choices. Her relentlessly ambitions mother, Ethel, began feeding her pep pills to keep her awake so that she could perform with her sisters. The studio forced her to take slimming pills to keep her weight down, forced her to take sleeping pills, uppers and downers so that she could work. The studio cafeteria was under strict instructions to feed the growing girl only chicken soup. Louis B. Mayer refused to let her attend her high school prom and sent her on a promotional tour instead. Unsurprisingly, Judy's mother, an archetypal stage mother if ever there was one, was a party to this behavior.

The life of Garland is one of the most harrowing parables on celebrity and the road to fame. Garland was unaware of the increasingly tragic dimensions of her own life and the alcohol- and drug-fueled spiral that would take her to a sad and lonely death in London.

Donnelley in Judy Garland movingly describes how the studio system exploited Judy Garland's talents more exhaustingly than any other star of the period.

Entertainment / Music / Reference

Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits, 4th Edition by Fred Bronson (Billboard Books)

Back in a fully revised and updated fourth edition with eighty extra all-new pages, Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits is a reliable source of information on the most popular songs of our times.

Separate chapters are devoted to artists, songwriters, producers, labels, years, and subjects. Within each chapter, readers will find lists in 300 categories, including The Top 100 Love Songs, The Top 50 Songs Written by Carole King, The Top 100 Songs on Atlantic, The Top 100 Songs of 1999, and more. There is also a revised and updated list of The Top 5,000 Songs of the Rock Era, plus a chart and text section devoted to American Idol finalists.

The Fourth Edition of Fred Bronson's Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits brings back these features of the first three editions:

  • Top hits for artists, writers, producers, and labels.
  • The top songs about places, animals, the body, food and drink, and days of the week.
  • The top one-hit-wonder songs; rock-era, pre-rock era, Motown, and Beatles remakes; songs from motion pictures and the musical theater; male and female solo hits; songs by girl groups; hits from six countries; and instrumentals.
  • Top 100 charts from 1955 to today, featuring countdowns of the greatest hits year-by-­year.
  • The top 5,000 songs from 1955 to today ranked in order and cross referenced with an index listing every song on the top 5,000 by song title.

Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits also has these new or enhanced features:

  • A greatly expanded Artists section – now showcasing 130 musicians, including icons from the early years of rock, such as James Brown, Chubby Checker, and Jackie Wilson, and artists whose stars were still on the rise when the last edition was published, such as Beyonce, LL Cool J, and Ludacris.
  • New charts for the greatest hits on Def Jam and J and expanded charts for Island and Virgin.
  • The Top 100 Digital Downloads from Billboard's Hot Digital Songs, a chart that was first compiled in 2005.
  • The Top 30 Songs by American Idols, featuring the greatest hits by contestants from the No. 1 series on television – including Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, Ruben Studdard, Diana DeGarmo, Kimberley Locke, Fantasia, Taylor Hicks, Bo Bice, Elliott Yamin, Katharine McPhee, and Josh Gracin.

Much more than a collection of charts, Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits is a perennial bestseller and a great read. Filled with fascinating facts and figures, it is an insider's gift to music fans. Entertaining and informative, it is the ultimate music trivia book.

Health, Mind & Body / Psychology & Counseling / Neuroscience

The Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness by Jeff Warren (Random House)
A world at once familiar and unimaginably strange exists all around us – and within us. It is the world of consciousness, a protean mental landscape that each of us knows in bits and pieces yet understands in its totality scarcely at all. Tied to the body and the brain, consciousness is beyond our ability to measure or quantify. Despite the attempts of scientists and mystics, poets and dreamers, crackpots and geniuses, to map its contours and explain its secret workings, the mind remains mysterious. And the more we learn about it, the more mysterious it becomes.
But that is not to say that we know nothing about consciousness. In fact, as gonzo science journalist Jeff Warren demonstrates in The Head Trip’s synthesis of cutting-edge research and personal experience, just how much we do know is astonishing.
Warren, science journalist and freelance producer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, begins with the insight that consciousness is not a simple on-off proposition, with rigid demarcations separating waking awareness from the murky depths of sleep, but a round-the-clock continuum regulated by natural biorhythms. He then sets out to explore, and to experience for himself, the seemingly miraculous, all-but-untapped potential of the human mind.
From the full-immersion virtual realities of lucid dreaming to the esoteric disciplines of Eastern meditative practices that have reached outposts of consciousness far beyond the grasp of Western science, from techniques of hypnosis and neurofeedback to such exotic states of awareness as the Watch and the Pure Conscious Event, The Head Trip takes readers on a journey through their own heads. Beginning with the mild hallucinogenic state that comes just before true sleep, Warren tries to hone his skills at lucid dreaming, subjects himself to hypnosis and joins a Buddhist meditation retreat, among other adventures. Along the way, he begins to realize that dreaming and waking are equivalent states, and that we can learn how to induce the subtle gradations of consciousness within ourselves.

Warren, a Canadian science journalist, combines the rigorous self-experimentation of Steven Johnson's Mind Wide Open with the wacky self-experimentation of A.J. Jacobs's The Know-It-All in this entertaining field guide to the varying levels of mental awareness. … This could come off as New Age psychobabble, but Warren is well versed in the scientific literature, and he provides detailed accounts of his own research.… His self-mocking attitude toward his inability to achieve instant nirvana, along with a steady stream of cartoon illustrations, ensures that his ideas remain accessible. More important than the theories, though, may be the basic tools – and the visionary spirit – that Warren hands off to those interested in hacking their own minds. – Publishers Weekly

An audacious, enchanting, and often hilarious journey into the slippery nature of human consciousness, from deep slumber to lofty states of enlightenment. This book will blow your mind. – Sandra Blakeslee, co-author of The Body Has a Mind of Its Own

An amazing book. Jeff Warren manages to be funny while packing in tons of fascinating science. Rather than staying within conventional boundaries, Warren follows his own formidable curiosity, producing a book that is quirky, refreshing, and nothing short of groundbreaking. – Tom Stafford, co-author of Mind Hacks

Writing about any aspect of consciousness is treacherously difficult, but Jeff Warren's take on the subject is clear, original, and – amazingly – funny! – Rita Carter, author of Mapping the Mind

As readable and fun as a novel, yet accurate and up-to-date, this book is about your most precious possession – your consciousness – and the fascinating states it goes through. – Charles T. Tart, author of Altered States of Consciousness

This provocative, often hilarious, and fascinating book describes a journey conducted with the adventurous spirit and intellectual curiosity of a Darwin coupled with the sensibility of a stand-up comedian. When Warren fits the pieces together, the implications of that knowledge are … mind-blowing. Part user’s manual and part travel guide, The Head Trip will be an instant classic, a brilliant summation of consciousness studies that is also a practical guide to enhancing creativity, mental health, and the experience of what it means to be human. Many books claim that they will change their readers. This one gives readers the tools to change themselves.
History / Germany / Social Sciences / Religion & Spirituality

The Politics of Sociability: Freemasonry and German Civil Society, 1840-1918 by Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann, translated by Tom Lampert (Social History, Popular Culture, and Politics in Germany Series: The University of Michigan Press)

An ambitious, original work, The Politics of Sociability is Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann's exploration of the social and political significance of Freemasonry in German history. Using a wealth of archival sources previously unavailable, Hoffmann, Assistant Pro­fessor of Modern History at Ruhr-University Bochum, shows how Freemasonry became a social refuge for elevated and liberal-minded bourgeois men who felt attracted to its secret rituals and moral teachings. German Freemasons sought to reform self and society but, Hoffmann argues, ultimately failed to balance modern politics with a cosmopolitan ethos.

The practice of Masonic sociability reflected an enlightened belief in the political significance of moral virtue for civil society, for humanity. Freemasons' self-image as civi­lizing agents, acting in good faith and with the unimpeachable idea of universal brotherhood, was contradicted not only by their heightened sense of exclusivity; Freemasons unintention­ally exacerbated nineteenth-century political conflicts – for example, between liberals and Catholics, or Germans and French – by employing a universalist language. Ironically, the more the liberal bourgeoisie in the lodges turned to nationalism and even excluded Jewish members to reshape its elitist claims, the more Freemasons became scapegoats for nationalists and anti-Semites.

More than any other form of sociability in the eighteenth century, Masonic lodges recast enlightened ideas as rituals and social practices that aimed at ‘civilizing’ lodge broth­ers. In this figurative sense, Freemasons were ‘living the Enlightenment;’ the lodges were ‘civil and hence polit­ical’ in the sense that they served as microcosms of emerging civil soci­ety. Even if it is mistaken to regard Freemasons as the secret force behind the French Revolution's Reign of Terror (they were, in fact, among its first victims), the pre-political moral language and the social practices of the lodges did possess a political dimension. The Politics of Sociability is divided into three parts, each of which employs a different but complementary approach to the history of Masonic lodges. While a concise history of German Freemasonry in the nineteenth century would be a worthwhile undertaking, in this work, the example of the lodges is used to engage in a critical examination of the questions and premises outlined previously. The first part of the book traces the changing significance of Masonic lodges within two local communities throughout the course of the long nineteenth cen­tury. The second part investigates language and social practices within the lodges more closely, both of which were supposed to foster ‘improvement of the self’ and thus lead to civic virtue. The third part of the book exam­ines lodge speeches, analyzing the transformation of a moral language into a political, patriotic language in particular during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) and the subsequent rapprochements between French and German Freemasons prior to 1914. The book concludes with a brief review of the tumultuous history of Freemasonry during the ‘new Thirty Years War’ beginning in 1914.

The first part of The Politics of Sociability investigates the changing significance of the lodges for civil society in Germany between the Vormarz period and the First World War. It also examines their significance in regard to the state, the monarchy, and the church. In order to investigate both the constancy and change in Masonic sociability, this study focuses primarily on the second half of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. German Freemasons are compared with their French and American brethren in the nineteenth century. French Freemasons are considered political pioneers and social pillars of the Third Republic, while American lodges are generally regarded as the paragon for the numerous associa­tions and secret societies that formed the backbone of American democ­racy after the Civil War.

According to Hoffmann, it is also important to determine who had access to Masonic sociabil­ity in a particular city and who was excluded, as well as to examine the dif­ferent criteria – class, gender, religion, and race – used to determine this inclusion or exclusion. Hoffmann is interested in the boundaries lodges drew by means of their moral-political imperatives and in the lan­guage they employed to justify these boundaries. In terms of social history, he attempts to determine the social profile and the age groups, as well as the religious and political affiliations of lodge members.

Even more than the social and gender boundaries (the latter are considered in detail in part 2), religious boundaries blatantly contradicted the humanist language of Freemasonry. Following a recent trend among his­torians, this study investigates the fundamental significance of tensions between Catholics, Protestants, and Jews in nineteenth-century German civil society. The question of the inclusion or exclusion of Jews had, since the early 1840s, divided lodges into a liberal camp (e.g., in large trading cities such as Leipzig, Hamburg, or Frankfurt) and a conservative camp (in particular in Prussia, with Berlin and Breslau as its centers). In order to compare these two camps, The Politics of Sociability focuses on Masonic lodges in Leipzig and Breslau. It also provides comparative results on a regional level (Prussia and Saxony) and a national one (Germany, France, and the United States).

In the second part of The Politics of Sociability, the perspective shifts to the inner workings of lodge life. The focus here is on the language and social prac­tices within the lodges, both of which were supposed to help realize the idea of moral improvement. The lodges were supposed to be ‘educa­tional institutions for the humanity of men,’ schools of civic virtue. In the first chapter of this part, the example of Masonry is used to illuminate the nineteenth-century belief in the connection between civic virtue and sociability. The next chapter investigates in depth the compli­cated rules and rituals of the lodges, which were quite literally supposed to maintain the brotherhood of men. The rituals enabled Masonic ideas about moral and political order to be expe­rienced on a physical level. The rituals were supposed to ‘civilize’ mem­bers until virtue became ‘a constitution gov­erning from within.’

The cult of fraternity was a singularly masculine cult. The second chapter of part 2 also examines the extent to which this idea of civilizing the self, of civilizing society, and ultimately of civilizing humanity was con­structed in gendered terms. The following chapter addresses a related issue: Does the idea of civic virtue include a specific form of religiosity, a civil religion that is distinguished from the alleged ‘feminization of religion’ in the nineteenth century? Why did the elevated Burgertum assembled in Masonic lodges perceive the crisis of modern society prior to 1914 as a moral crisis?

The third part of The Politics of Sociability investigates the moral-political language of Freemasonry, focusing especially on speeches by Freemasons within the lodges. In the first chapter of part 3, the example of Masonic lodges is used to outline the semantic connection between the various levels – the concern with improvements of the self is closely tied to vague expectations about society, the nation, humanity. The following chapter investigates in greater detail the political consequences of the lodges' humanist and cosmopolitan self-understanding during the era of nation-states and wars. The central focus here is the tension between German and French Freemasons during the era between the Franco-Prussian War and the First World War. The mixing of nationalist and universalist rhetoric in lodge speeches suggests an ambiguity similar to the one outlined previously in regard to civic virtue and civil society. The persecution of Masonic lodges in Nazi Germany and in the nations occupied by the Germans and their allies had the paradoxical result that an almost complete collection of Masonic documents in Germany survived the Second World War. The history of this collection of documents is itself part of the history of Masonic lodges in Germany. Between 1933 and 1935, the Nazis confiscated all materials held in local lodge archives. The extensive files that every lodge had kept since its founding, extending in some cases back into the early eighteenth century, were transferred to the central Gestapo archive in Berlin-Wilmersdorf. During the bombing of Berlin, these files were moved to two castles in Silesia, where the Red Army subse­quently assumed control of them. The pamphlets and journals remained in the library of the University of Poznan, while the lodge files were transferred to Moscow. They have only recently become available to scholars.

The Politics of Sociability is based primarily on three different groups of documents. The first of these are the government files concerning the surveillance of Masonic lodges, in particular by the Prussian and Saxon Departments of the Interior. These files demonstrate how tense relations were between the state, the monarchy, and the church, on the one hand, and the lodges, on the other.

The lodge files constitute the second and largest group of documents. The present study was able to evaluate systematically only the documents of the Leipzig and Breslau lodges and, in part, those of the Berlin and Dresden grand lodges. These files encompass statutes and laws, minutes of lodge meetings, unpublished speeches, and correspondence. Lists of lodge members and extensive biographical material were also examined: per­sonal files, applications for admission, questionnaires, resumes, vouchers, and brief addresses.

The third group of documents is the extensive collection of Masonic pamphlets and journals. The present study provides the first analysis of all significant German lodge journals between 1840 and 1918. The numerous lodge speeches are particularly important in tracing a conceptual history of terms and ideas. In contrast, for example, to lodges in English-speaking countries, speeches in German lodges constituted an established part of lodge meetings and were recorded by hand in the minutes or largely ver­batim in Masonic journals.

The approach adopted in The Politics of Sociability can be summarized in the form of a question: Which social and dis­cursive practices have transformed ideas about the social and the moral, the national and the universal, the public and the private into objects of politics? The political utopia of the lodges sought to transcend bound­aries and to construct a social space in which ‘the parity of the purely human’ would establish an enlightened universalism. However, the desire to transcend these boundaries, to create ‘a brotherhood of men’ produces its opposite as well: the effort to set oneself apart, the desire for social and moral exclusivity, and the authority to determine who is a man and a citizen and who is not. Those who would like to revive political ideas of the ‘long nineteenth century’, its typical preoccupation with the self, civil society, and humanity – cannot avoid the political apo­rias inherent in those ideas simply by rejecting the notion of the nation-­state. A historical study that investigates ambivalent identities – as a cultural history of the political just as much as a political history of culture – must, therefore, dis­pense with the false alternatives of universalism and particularism and explore the territory in between.

.... in many ways this is the best combination of painstaking social history and well-argued Begriffsgeschichte (conceptual history)... One of great virtues of this book is that Hoffmann does not shy away from the contradictions in the Freemasons' rhetoric and actions. Such contradictions, in fact, are key to the Mason's importance, because they force us to rethink some of our assumptions about Imperial Germany.... This is an important book that encourages us to rethink many of our characterizations of the German Kaiserreich and our assumptions about civil society. – Central European History

Based on a rich variety of sources.... Hoffmann explores the evolving relationship between Freemasonry and the monarchy, state, and church, and he also scrutinizes the internal practices and discourse of these notoriously secretive and cosmopolitan societies. . . Hoffmann engages fruitfully with a wide historiography covering themes such as masculinity and racism; he dissects the complex attitude of Freemasonry to Jews and Catholics; and he scrutinizes the attacks of its conservative, clerical, and anti-Semitic critics. – Journal of Modern History

This is an excellent and original work. Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann has engaged in the broad discussion on middle-class society in nineteenth-century Germany with a new set of questions and a revised set of answers. He effectively works the ground between culture and politics, investigating how cultural practices were invested with political mean­ings and how politics was grounded on a shared associational culture. This work should have a wide audience. – Jennifer Jenkins, Canada Research Chair in Modern German History, Department of History, University of Toronto

An imaginative, well-written book that shows how a utopian desire to establish the ‘brotherhood of men’ led to its opposite. The author uses wonderfully rich sources to explore the language and inner work­ings of local Masonic lodges, while placing these in a national and international framework. The Politics of Sociability combines cultural, intellectual, social and political history. It is an important contribution to debates about German civil society and the making of the modern self. – David Blackbourn, Coolidge Professor of History, Harvard University

Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the fate of Enlightenment ideals in the nineteenth century. Hoffmann's book is a deeply serious, compelling, and historically textured meditation on fundamental philosophical and political puzzles – including the ten­sions between universalism and exclusivity, the relationship between political maturity and practices of sociability, and changing notions of the self. – Dagmar Herzog, Graduate Center, City University of New York

In The Politics of Sociability, Hoffmann illuminates a capacious history of the political effects of Enlightenment concepts and prac­tices in a century marked by nationalism, social discord, and religious conflict. This concise, comprehensive, well-written and original study, based on rich variety of sources, shows how the devotion to the ideal of brotherhood led to its opposite. Translated from the German by Tom Lampert, the book was the winner in 2002 of the Hedwig Hintze Prize for Best First Book from The Association of German Historians.

History / Middle East / Social Sciences

Children of Jihad: A Young American's Travels Among the Youth of the Middle East by Jared Cohen (Gotham Books)

As an American Jew traveling in the Middle East during this age of terror, I should have been unwelcome, I should have felt unsafe, and it should have been impossible for me to engage on any level with people who I'd been told hated my country and my religion. But I found that the easy, monolithic characterization of ‘us’ versus ‘them’ fails to take into account the humanity and the individuality of all of the people who make up ‘us’ and ‘them.’ And the ‘them’ I met – the young men and women of the Middle East should make all of us very hopeful for the future. – from the book

Classrooms were never sufficient for Jared Cohen; he wanted to learn about global affairs by witnessing them firsthand. During his undergraduate years Cohen traveled extensively to Africa – often to war-torn countries, putting himself at risk to see the world firsthand. While studying on a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford, he took a crash course in Arabic, read voraciously on the history and culture of the Middle East, and in 2004 embarked on the first of a series of incredible and dangerous solo journeys to the Middle East. On the ground in Iran, Cohen originally intended to interview top government officials, but a chance meeting propelled him in a different direction.

In an effort to try to understand the spread of radical Islamist violence, he focused his research on Muslim youth. The result is Children of Jihad, a portrait of paradox that probes much deeper than any journalist or pundit ever could.

Children of Jihad is a firsthand account of the changing face of the Middle East's top demographic: Muslim youths. Through risky, on-the-scene investigations, Cohen discovers a thriving, forward-thinking youth culture. Not so different from their Western counterparts, the majority of Middle Eastern youth eschew their anti-American governments in favor of opportunity through education and technology.

Cohen gives a loose overview of the history of each region and then details his encounters with the young people he meets. The trip begins in Iran with Cohen clutching a piece of paper listing all the important political figures he wants to interview. Then he happens to meet two sisters at the University of Tehran, and an introduction to the city’s nightlife propels him away from his goals toward a documentation of youth culture. Once he hits his stride, the highlights come thick and fast, with tales of illegal alcohol consumption in Iran, encounters with Hezbollah members in fast-food restaurants, a pulse-racing scenario in a Palestinian refugee camp and a daring entrance, and terrifying exit, from Iraq. But the real revelations come from the author’s conversations with the people he meets along the way. Many express pro-American sentiment, and despite some healthy debate, particularly in Cohen’s meetings with university students in Iran and Iraq, he is never subjected to overt hostility.

In Iran, he defies government threats and sneaks into underground parties, where bootleg liquor, Western music, and the Internet are all easy to access. His risky itinerary takes him to borderlands in Syria, the insurgency hotbed of Mosul, and other frontline locales. Children of Jihad details Cohen's remarkable experiences, from illegal underground parties in Lebanon attended by Christians, Shi’a, and Sunni alike, to pulse-racing interviews inside a notorious Palestinian refugee camp. At one point, Cohen wakes up alone in the back of a car in war-torn Mosul, Iraq; at another, he finds himself telling young members of Hezbollah about his Jewish heritage.

At each turn, he observes a culture at an uncanny crossroads: Bedouin shepherds with satellite dishes to provide Western TV shows, young women wearing garish makeup despite religious mandates, teenagers sending secret text messages and arranging illicit trysts. He also makes some telling observations on how the Internet and cable television have provided a vital, and heretofore unthinkable, link between the Middle East and the rest of the world.

After completing Children of Jihad, Jared Cohen joined the U.S. Department of State in September 2006 as a member of the Secretary of State’s policy planning staff.

... riveting from start to finish. – Kirkus (starred review)

In this remarkable book Cohen provides a fresh perspective on the Middle East. Seen through the eyes of the youth, and poignantly describing their hopes and despairs, Cohen provides a timely commentary on the troubled relations between America and the Middle East. Looking at the habits and passions that binds the youth across the cultural divide as well as the politics which divides them, this book provides much food for thought for Americans and Middle Easterners alike. – Vali Nasr, author of The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam will Shape the Future
This young gutsy writer knows that the East-West struggle is being fought over the cafe tables of the Near and Middle East. Do the youth of the Islamic world dream of an engineering degree from Michigan State or a martyr’s death? This young American has had the moxie to sit and listen for hours at those tables. In the words of the poet, Jared Cohen has taken the road "less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Chris Matthews, Host of MSNBC's Hardball and NBC's The Chris Matthews Show
An enlightening and entertaining story that is part travelogue and part cultural analysis. Gaining insights through simple conversation, Cohen paints a compelling picture of the politically awakened youth of the Middle East. – Zbigniew Brzezinski, Former National Security Advisor
Jared Cohen has written a unique book. … There are breathtaking descriptions of flirting with danger and fascinating dialogues that provide deep insights into the politics and sociology of four key countries in the Middle East. – Frank Carlucci, former secretary of defense

Riveting and daring, Children of Jihad reveals the new face of the Middle East and its best hope for future peace and conflict resolution. Cohen artfully combines his natural confidence and flare as a writer to produce a revealing look at the youth of Iran, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Iraq. The book is compelling reading, showing readers the future through the eyes of those who are shaping it. To his credit, Cohen rarely hides the fact that he is Jewish and American, and his openness appears to have been highly respected among the people he encountered – it is also one of the primary reasons why Children of Jihad makes for such compelling reading.
History / Philosophy / Asia / China / Religion & Spirituality / Taoism

The Genius of China: 3,000 Years of Science, Discovery, and Invention by Robert Temple, with a foreword by Joseph Needham (Inner Traditions)

Undisputed masters of invention and discovery for 3,000 years, the ancient Chinese were the first to discover the solar wind and the circulation of the blood and even to isolate sex hormones. Many of the world’s greatest inventions have their foundation in ancient China. From the suspension bridge and the seismograph to deep drilling for natural gas, the iron plough, and the parachute, ancient China’s contributions in the fields of engineering, medicine, technology, mathematics, science, transportation, warfare, and music helped inspire the European agricultural and industrial revolutions.

The Genius of China is a revised, full-color, illustrated edition of the multi-award-winning, international bestseller charting the unparalleled and astounding achievement of ancient China. It brings to life one hundred Chinese ‘firsts’ in the fields of agriculture, astronomy, engineering, mathematics, medicine, music, technology, and warfare. Among other things, The Genius of China showsr 1931 model Dusenberg Leno found in a parking garage in New York City that was parked in 1933 and was never moved. There’s a Plymouth Superbird found buried in a hedge out of sight in Alabama.
There’s the rescue of the first 1955 Corvette ever built. There’s the find of legendare immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Since the adoption the F-22 Raptor in 2005, the Air Force has begun cutting back its Eagle squadron. Because of this, Dildy and Davies were able to obtain unequalled access to formerly classified technical specificationihad-Americans-Travels-Middle/dp/1592403247/wordtrade-20"> Children of Jihad reveals the new face of the Middle East and its best hope for future peace and conflict resolution. Cohen artfully combines his natural confidence and flare as a writer to produce a revealing look at the youth of Iran, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Iraq. The book is compelling reading, showing readers the future through the eyes of those who are shaping it. To his credit, Cohen rarely hides the fact that he is Jewish and American, and his openness appears to have been highly respected among the people he encountered – it is also one of the primary reasons why Children of Jihad makes for such compelling reading.
History / Philosophy / Asia / China / Religion & Spirituality / Taoism

Fine Points of Furniture, Early American is a revised edition of the classic bible of American furniture. It analyzes, through over 700 photographs and detailed text, the various elements of design, decoration, craftsmanship, construction, and finish of early American furniture. Each type is shown and discussed with three examples – good, better, best – and the relative merits and consequent value differentials of each are compared. The book explains why superficially similar pieces of furniture of the same approximate age and scarcity, and possibly by the same maker, may vary considerably in desirability and worth.

More than 100 types are discussed and 675 examples are illustrated, including some of the most notable pieces. The book is virtually entirely composed of visual examples and their explanations. The contents is divided into Chairs, Beds, Bureaus, Chests and Cupboards, Chest-On-Chests, Clocks, Desks, Secretaries, Highboys, Lowboys, Mirrors, Sideboards, Sofas, and Tables. The book also contains a chapter on collecting antiques and one on restorations, replacements and imperfections.

Fine Points of Furniture, Early American is a major revision of Fine Points of Furniture, Early American, better known as GOOD, BETTER, BEST, published in 1950. There are updates to the descriptions on 130 pages and 20 replaced illustrations in order to improve the comparisons, but the basic concept of the book remains unchanged. That book went through 24 printings and sold approximately 125,000 copies. Its premise remains the same – according to author Albert Sack, authoritative writer on furniture, aesthetic brilliance is still the standard by which antique furniture is measured.

In 1950, the year of the first publication of Fine Points of Furniture, Early American, the Norven Green Auction sale took place in New York. This was a private collection, built by C.W. Lyon, a pioneer dealer. The outstanding item was a block and shell kneehole desk, the form of which appears in the book. The desk sold for $16,000. It was bought for A.H. Meyer, a wealthy industrialist by Jess Pavey, a Michigan dealer and friend of Israel Sack, who received a $2,000 commission. The Meyer Collection was sold at auction in 1992 and the desk brought $3.4 million. There are hundreds of stories like this. The stories all proved that these collectors who con­centrated on the premium reaped incredible rewards both financially and also with gratifica­tion of living with outstanding creations of early American culture.

According to Albert Sack in Fine Points of Furniture, Early American, Americana is now recognized as a major art form that rivals in its own unique accom­plishments the great furniture achievements of England and France. Our scholarship is second to none. The furniture centers: Boston, Salem, Portsmouth, Connecticut centers, Newport, Providence, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Williamsburg, Charleston, etc., all have extensive and continuing scholarship, museum represen­tation and exhibitions.

Albert’s father, Israel Sack, died in 1959, but the roots that he and other pioneers planted by their appreciation of the greatness of American furniture achievements flowered in the years after his death.

According to Fine Points of Furniture, Early American, the principles of proper collecting remain the same regardless of the level. According to the book:

  1. First, select a dealer or professional to guide you. Do not try to go it on your own. There are too many traps. Select a dealer the same way you would choose a doctor or a lawyer by reputation or by careful investigation.
  2. Inform the dealer you want premium and ex­pect to pay more for a premium piece than the general market price for the forms.
  3. Have the expert teach you the fundamentals of quality and authenticity. Do not try to use it against him or her and go it on your own.
  4. Visit museums and exhibitions to develop an eye for quality.
  5. Assemble a library.
  6. Pay a dealer or agent to represent you at auc­tion for his judgment.
  7. Do not try to outsmart the dealer. He knows more about his field than you do.
  8. Once you put your trust in a dealer or agent, don't try to outsmart him.
  9. Expect to pay a premium for premium pieces. Bargain hunting is often fatal.
  10. Limit your purchases. Make every purchase a significant one.
  11. Better a superior piece of a lesser form than a mediocre piece of a higher form.
  12. Aim high. Israel Sack said, "If you can't distinguish between mink and skunk, you will end up in the minor league of collecting."

According to Israel Sack in the preface to Fine Points of Furniture, Early American, the finest furniture in America was made between the years 1680 and 1820. Persons of wealth and social position filled their homes with the best furniture that the most skillful craftsmen could create for them, as this tasteful and care­ful furnishing was one of the few ways in which families of means could display their wealth and indicate their hospitality to their distinguished guests. As the eighteenth century progressed, craftsmen grew in numbers, as did families with the means to build and furnish fine homes. As the country became larger and more prosperous it acquired a feeling of self-sufficiency and the people began to place more confidence in their native craftsmen. There was growing up a new generation with no recollections of Europe. The cabinetmaking industry flourished from that time to the beginning of the nineteenth century. It had taken a long time for the descen­dants of the early settlers to realize that things could be done as well in this country as abroad.

According to Israel Sack, the idea which some people have – that an­tiques are valuable merely because of their age – is wrong. No matter how old a piece may be, it has no value unless it is of good quality. Age is really a secondary matter where antiques are concerned. Of prime consideration are the quality of the article, the design and the maker, the fineness and durability of the woods, and a mellowness imparted to them by a hundred or more years of natural wear, which no human hand can duplicate and no dyes imitate. Persons who place too much stress on the fact that their possessions are old are often greatly disappointed and unable to understand when they find that their things are valueless.

According to Fine Points of Furniture, Early American, the law of supply and demand governs antiques as well as everything else. As things become scarcer, they naturally increase in price. The demand is continually growing for better things, not because people have more money now, but because buyers have become more educated. They have better means of learning than they had twenty-five years ago. Dealers, as well as collectors, have learned something and are better able to advise their customers.

There is romance associated with all old American things inasmuch as the country was comparatively new when they were made and most of their owners had to fight for mere exis­tence. If they did not actually fight the Indians or the elements, they at least had to struggle to become established in the new country. Only a small percent of the early settlers could af­ford to have furniture of quality. These fine old things are now rare and becoming more so all the time.

A book on comparatives was an essential need in the field and it was inevitable that eventually it would be written. The subject has been undertaken for the first time by Albert Sack, under the title Fine Points of Furniture, with a good, better, best comparison. This publication will provide an instructive guide for the general collector and a medium through which the advanced student may verify his standard of taste. – John Meredith Graham II, Curator of Collections, Colonial Williamsburg

Fine Points of Furniture, Early American is a guide for today's students, collectors, dealers, and curators in judging and evaluating antiques. It is the ultimate reference, as important today as when it was first written in 1950. This unique and indispensable book, a must for collectors in this major revision provides a thorough analysis of the difference between ‘good, better and best,’ presented visually.

The aesthetic standard shown in the original book became the yardstick that guided collectors over fifty years and the reason for the book's popu­larity. The principles are conveyed through its novel approach, comparing examples similar in form but varying in quality. That approach not only stands the test of time, but has been enhanced in the revised book.

Home & Garden / Gardening

The Homeowner's Complete Tree & Shrub Handbook: The Essential Guide to Choosing, Planting, and Maintaining Perfect Landscape Plants by Penny O'Sullivan, with photography by Karen Bussolini (Storey Publishing)

Trees and shrubs bring permanence and structure to home landscapes, adding character and beauty to the entire property. They can impart an immediate sense of geography; act as background staging for flower gardens, outdoor living spaces, and children’s play areas; and provide cool shadows and privacy from neighbors and passers-by. They are essential to every beautiful yard, yet many homeowners do not give them as much attention as they do their flowers and lawns.
Penny O’Sullivan, garden designer, gives trees and shrubs the respect they deserve in The Homeowner's Complete Tree & Shrub Handbook. Woody plants, she maintains, can be the heart and soul of the home landscape plan. Trees and shrubs frame most everyone’s property. Their contribution to the yard might include a springtime canopy of blossoms; colorful, delicious summer fruit; a regal year-round silhouette; rough and rugged bark; or seasonally changing foliage. Their presence is a soothing anchor in the ever-changing environment of a typical yard.
In three sections – design, plant profiles, and care – this handbook covers essential considerations of tree and shrub gardening. After an introduction to the principles of garden design, O’Sullivan guides readers through tree and shrub selection, with special consideration for owner expectations and growing conditions.
With photography by award-winning garden photographer Karen Bussolini, the heart of The Homeowner's Complete Tree & Shrub Handbook is the extensive encyclopedia of 357 tree and shrub portraits. Each profile covers ease of cultivation, availability, history, hardiness, size, growth rate, and special characteristics. O’Sullivan also includes warnings about plants not to grow, such as invasive exotics and disease-prone trees and shrubs. The final section covers care and maintenance, with advice on buying and planting; siting; pruning; fertilizing; and coping with diseases, pests, and environmental problems.
This comprehensive guide explains the principles and practicalities of bringing choice woody plants to every landscape. The book shows homeowners how to use basic landscape design theories to select trees and shrubs that complement their property.

Readers learn to shop and plant with assurance, choosing woodies from nurseries, home and garden centers, and mail-order sources. They find everything they need to know – from planting tips to maintenance advice – to keep plants healthy and happy. To make their purchases of trees and shrubs and to protect their investment, homeowners will constantly refer to The Homeowner's Complete Tree & Shrub Handbook for O'Sullivan’s wise advice.

Law / Criminology / Forensics

Crime Scene Chemistry for the Armchair Sleuth by Cathy Cobb, Monty L. Fetterolf, & Jack G. Goldsmith (Prometheus Books)

From finding and collecting trace evidence at a crime scene to measuring blood alcohol levels and analyzing other bodily fluids in the laboratory, law enforcement depends on chemistry.

Chemists and science authors Cathy Cobb and Monty L. Fetterolf have teamed up with Jack G. Goldsmith, to create another trek through the science of chemistry, this time using the field of forensic chemistry as their framework. Crime Scene Chemistry for the Armchair Sleuth contains all new hands-on demonstrations and fictional minute mysteries to illustrate chemical concepts. Authors Cobb, instructor of chemistry, calculus, and physics at Aiken Preparatory School and adjunct professor of chemistry; Fetterolf, professor of chemistry; and Goldsmith, reserve officer and information management officer for the Town of Lexington Police Department and former associate professor of chemistry, all at the University of South Carolina at Aiken, present the science – and the realities – of forensic chemistry in a narrative style aimed at the non-chemist. They lead readers through actual and simulated forensic techniques such as

  • Presumptive and confirmative drug testing.
  • Body fluid identification including luminol testing.
  • DNA analysis.
  • Trace fiber and gun shot residue analysis.
  • Latent fingerprint development and collection.
  • Forensic soil analysis.

Through more than twenty-five demonstrations, using ordinary household products and items, in Crime Scene Chemistry for the Armchair Sleuth readers can become familiar with the basics of forensic chemistry and gain insights into the painstaking work that goes into criminal investigations.

Readers can follow the instructions for each of the demonstrations that they can perform at home using ordinary household products and items – such as ibuprofen and caffeine – and become an amateur sleuth, experiencing the science behind the evidence-collecting techniques used by law enforcement and portrayed on prime-time crime dramas. A fictional mini-case is presented after each demonstration that illus­trates how the science they have just acquired is used to solve crime.

Requiring no prior knowledge of chemis­try to follow, the chapters are arranged in a logical progression. Early chapters start with discussions of measurement, molecu­lar structure, and atomic structure, while later chapters progress to chemical-reaction theory and on to sophisticated instrumental and chemi­cal methods of analysis.

This book is a fresh and engaging look at forensic chemistry. Witty stories frame explanations and real experiments. The perps are in for it, time and again, because they don't know their chemistry. – Ronald Hoffman, Nobel laureate, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, University of Southern Mississippi

A delightful and timely work on the interplay between chemistry and crime. The connections to popular TV shows make it a useful adjunct text to a beginning chemistry course. The experiments are cleverly designed and could give students an introduction to forensic science. – Harold Goldwhite, Professor of Chemistry, California State University, Los Angeles

Crime Scene Chemistry for the Armchair Sleuth makes for an adventurous trip for the armchair sleuth who is interested in the methods of chemical analysis used by crime labs throughout the world. This trip, unlike modern travel, is comfortable and painless. – Scott R. Goode, Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of South Carolina

... a unique book that looks at forensic chemistry from the law enforcement side as well as from the chemist's perspective... A very enjoyable read for the chemistry/law enforcement/detective enthusiast. – Stephen L. Crump, Ph.D., Savannah River National Laboratory, Aiken, SC

The authors bring the excitement of CSI to chemistry with a well-written text and demonstrations that readers can readily do at home. – John A. Pojman, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, University of Southern Mississippi

What a wonderful way to learn chemistry, experience the thrill of discovery, and have fun, all at the same time. This book does for forensic chemistry what Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes did for detective work. – Richard N. Zare, HHMI Professor and Chair, Department of Chemistry, Stanford University

For readers who are fans of true-crime stories or mystery fiction or are just curious about the science behind dramas like CSI, Crime Scene Chemistry for the Armchair Sleuth is a compre­hensive and engrossing source, a must-have addition to their libraries.

As readers move from one chapter to the next on their tour of the basics of forensic chemistry, they gain insights into the real work – rarely shown on TV – that goes into criminal investigations. This intriguing and timely topic is presented in a hands-on, accessible manner with clear instructions for the non-chemist.

Literature & Fiction / Biographies & Memoirs

Shakespeare Unbound: Decoding a Hidden Life by René Weis (Henry Holt and Company)
Shakespeare Unbound is a key that unlocks the secrets of Shakespeare's life.

Intimacies with Southampton and Marlowe, entanglements in London with the elusive dark lady, the probable fathering of an illegitimate son – these are among the mysteries of Shakespeare's rich and turbulent life that have proven tantalizingly obscure. Despite an avalanche of recent scholarship, René Weis, professor of English and vice-dean of the faculty of arts and humanities at University College, London, an acknowledged authority on the Elizabethan period, believes the links between the bard's life and the poems and plays have been largely ignored. Armed with a wealth of new archival research and his own highly regarded interpretations of the literature, Weis finds parallels between Shakespeare's early experiences in the bustling market town of Stratford – including a dangerous poaching incident and contacts with underground Catholics – and the plays. Breaking with tradition, Weis reveals that it is the plays and poems themselves that contain the richest seam of clues about the details of Shakespeare's personal life, at home in Stratford and in the shadowy precincts of theatrical London – details of a code unbroken for four hundred years. Scenes from King Lear and Othello, for example, were influenced by the Bard's several love affairs. Likewise, Shakespeare's grief at the death of his son Hamnet spawned his most ambitious tragedy, while his own twins provided the counter-reality to Twelfth Night. Shakespeare's art was, unquestionably, an extension of his life.

Weis in Shakespeare Unbound also offers new data to clear up old mysteries. The Fair Youth, he argues, had to be Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton; the Dark Lady was Emilia Lanier, a strikingly luscious Venet­ian beauty; Christopher Marlowe was the rival poet who figured so prominently in the Sonnets. These informed speculations are based largely on assiduous study of overlooked sources, hidden in Shakespeare's birthplace, as well as neglected sources in Stratford and the records now held by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, of which Weis is a trustee.

Weis’ familiarity with the local landscape and with Elizabethan oral traditions provides additional insights to support his belief that Shakespeare's thirty-nine plays and the Sonnets closely reflect his life. On the family front, Shakespeare was almost certainly the father of the dramatist William Davenant, the offspring of an affair with a wealthy and glamorous patron of the London stage. Weis identifies Shakespeare's second daughter, Judith, as the muse of his late plays, which focus on father-daughter relationships.

In the last ten years there have been biographi­cal volumes from Stephen Greenblatt, Park Honan, and my colleague, Anthony Holden ... but before all these comes Rene Weis, who treats a time-honoured subject with flair and originality. … Weis sets out to prove, with impressive learning, just how deep are the connections between art and experience.... His clear matching of the texts to life yields some wonderful insights. – Robert McCrum, The Observer (front page review)

Shakespeare's subjective 'I' is everywhere in his work, writes Weis, a professor of English at University College London, who pores over every line for evidence it may offer about the Bard's life. Weis frequently uses words like perhaps, might have and possibly, and he offers some eyebrow-raising deductions from the texts. Shakespeare walked with a limp, for example, and probably played the lame Nurse in Romeo and Juliet. The Bard was bisexual, at least in his emotions, and may well have slept with rival playwright Christopher Marlowe. … While Stephen Greenblatt's brilliant and equally speculative Will in the World focused on clues the work gave us about Shakespeare's engagement with Elizabethan society, Weis's conjectures tend to the personal: The Merchant of Venice was a farewell to the triangular relationship immortalized in the sonnets; architectural metaphors in Henry IV indicated that Shakespeare intended to buy a grand new house in Stratford. It's all great fun for Bardolators, who will appreciate Weis's formidable erudition. Others may occasionally wonder if it's necessary to so relentlessly identify real-world roots for one of literature's most fertile imaginations. – Publishers Weekly

Shakespeare Unbound not only provides links between the life and the work but surprises readers with exciting new information about the London stage, Eng­land's religious wars, and Shakespeare's close friendships and entangled family life.

Neither musty nor academic, Shakespeare Unbound speaks in today's idiom without sacrificing the beauty of the playwright's rich and mellifluous lan­guage. Controversial and spirited, Weis's biography of the world's greatest writer is authoritative, compelling, and readable.

Literature & Fiction / Historical

Trail of the Red Butterfly: A Novel by Karl H. Schlesier (Texas Tech University Press)

Imagine your twin captured by technologically superior extraterrestrials. Imagine that you must slip into their world to affect his rescue. For the early nineteenth-century Cheyenne and Kiowa who must penetrate New Spain in this astounding novel, the task seems no less overwhelming or alien. Schlesier delivers immaculate historic and cultural accuracy with riveting suspense. – J.M. Hayes, author of The Grey Pilgrim and the Mad Dog & Englishman mysteries

While ascending the Missouri in 1804, Lewis and Clark met trader Jean Valle, who had wintered in Cheyenne camps near the Black Hills and who recounted extensive horse-raiding upon Spanish settlements. Trail of the Red Butterfly is the first novel to depict such a raid through Cheyenne eyes.
In Trail of the Red Butterfly, Cheyenne Kit Fox headman Stone learns that his twin, Whirlwind, has gone missing on an 1807 foray into northeastern New Spain. Gathering an eclectic party of Cheyenne, Kiowa, and Gataka warriors, women and children, and a wolf dog, Stone sets out from his camp on the Upper Republican River, present-day eastern Colorado. His relentless search takes his party across the High Plains of Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas; through the Davis and Chisos mountains; into the Bolsón de Mapimí; and past the great Laguna to the Nazas River, where finally he picks up the trail of his brother. With the help of Maria, a Hiaqui woman whose freedom they buy, the party doggedly follows the trail in hostile country, through towns and ranches to dramatic conclusion on the Camino Real.
Based in part on the 1804 accounts of trader Jean Valle, who had wintered in Cheyenne camps near the Black Hills and captivated Lewis and Clark with stories of extensive horse-raiding upon Spanish settlements, Trail of the Red Butterfly is the first novel to depict such events through Cheyenne eyes. Relying on a map drawn by Juan Pedro Walker in 1805 and a distinguished career in anthropological research, Karl Schlesier conjures a convincing journey into the unknown, driven in part by the lure of plunder and distant places, but ultimately sustained by a brother’s determination to recover his other half. Two maps are included with the book.
Schlesier taught anthropology at the universities of Wichita State and Kansas for thirty years. His fieldwork has taken him from the central Pyrenees of France to the arctic slopes of northern Alaska and twice into federal court as an expert witness for the Cheyenne Nation.

Literature & Fiction / History & Criticism / British

Dickens Studies Annual: Essays on Victorian Fiction edited by Stanley Friedman, Edward Guiliano, Anne Humpherys, Talia Schaffer & Michael Timko (Dickens Studies Annual Series, Vol. 38: AMS Press. Inc.)

As Dickens Studies Annual approaches the end of its third decade its dimensions continue to increase. This collection... bears a clear ‘impress from the moving age’ in an overall eclecticism of theme and approach, but also in its display of major critical preoccupations of recent times. – Rick Allen, Dickens Quarterly

The richness and variety of the lives and works of Charles Dickens and other Victorian writers of fiction continue to attract the attention of scholars and critics with diverse interests and approaches. As the 38th volume in the series, Dickens Studies Annual: Essays on Victorian Fiction offers essays seeking both to remind us of the contexts in which earlier fiction was produced and to suggest ways in which this literature still entertains and enlightens in these trying times. Dickens Studies Annual also includes essays on other Victorian novelists and the history and aesthetics of Victorian fiction.

Dickens Studies Annual is under the editorship of Professor Stanley Friedman of Queens College; President Edward Guiliano of New York Institute of Technology; and Professor Anne Humpherys of The Graduate Center and Lehman College; Professor Talia Schaffer of Queens College and The Graduate Center; and Professor Michael Timko of Queens College and The Graduate Center, all at the City University of New York.

The contents of Dickens Studies Annual: Essays on Victorian Fiction, Volume 38, includes:

  1. David McAllister, who has recently completed his doctoral studies at Emmanuel College, Cambridge – "’Subject to the Sceptre of Imagination’: Sleep in Oliver Twist"
  2. Leona Toker, Professor in the English Department of the Hebrew Univer­sity of Jerusalem – "Nicholas Nickleby and the Discourse of Lent"
  3. Albert D. Pionke, Assistant Professor and Director of Undergraduate Stud­ies in the English Department at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa – "Degrees of Secrecy in Dickens's Historical Fiction"
  4. Alan P. Barr, Professor of English at Indiana University Northwest – "Matters of Class and the Middle-class Artist in David Copperfield"
  5. Shari Hodges Holt, Instructional Assistant Professor of English at the University of Mississippi – "Dickens from a Postmodern Perspective: Alfonso Cuaron's Great Expectations for Generation X"
  6. Clay Daniel, Associate Professor in the English Department at the Univer­sity of Texas-Pan American – "Jane Eyre and the Rewriting of Paradise Lost"
  7. Thomas Recchio, Associate Professor of English at the University of Con­necticut, Storrs – "Toward a Theory of Narrative Sympathy: Character, Story, and the Body in The Mill on the Floss"
  8. Diana C. Archibald, Associate Professor of English and Gender Studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell – "Recent Dickens Studies: 2005"
  9. Roger C. Swearingen, website architect for a major electronics firm – "Robert Louis Stevenson: Recent Biographical and Critical Studies – 1970-2005"
  10. Ruth F. Glancy, Professor of English at Concordia University College of Alberta – "Dickens's Christmas Book, Christmas Stories, and Other Short Fiction: An Annotated Bibliography – Supplement I"

Occupies a distinguished position both as an important repository of scholarship, containing both sound assessments and on occasion, exciting revelations or stimuli toward further investigation. – Leon Litvack in The Dickensian

Dickens Studies Annual: Essays on Victorian Fiction, Volume 38 of this distinguished series, continues to widen the scope of Dickens scholarship and broaden readers’ understanding of the man and his work.

Medicine / Allied Health / Physical Therapy

Stretching Therapy: For Sport and Manual Therapies by Jari Ylinen, with a foreword by Leon Chaitow (Churchill Livingstone)

Stretching plays an important part in the care of soft tissues after strain at work or in sport. It promotes recovery of the tendo-muscular system after exercise or post acute trauma, treats overstrained muscles and enhances relaxation. Stretching may appear a simple enough procedure, however it is deceptively complex, and there are a many ways of getting it wrong, and/or of producing potentially harmful outcomes, as well as a variety of different ways of stretching correctly depending on the effects that are required.

The purpose of Stretching Therapy is to provide a comprehensive volume of clinically tested stretching techniques so that they can be easily adopted and used as a quick reference in the clinic. Like joint manipulation, which may be unspecific and treat the whole spine or specifically directed to a single joint, stretching can also be directed to the bulk of muscles or focused on a specific part of the muscle.

Stretching Therapy incorporates essential features including anatomy, physiology, methodology, safety, variations, effects and research evidence together with muscle-by-muscle illustrations and clearly described protocols. Written by Jari Ylinen, private practitioner and head of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Central Hospital of Central Finland, Jyväskylä, the book contains a review of research into the effects of stretching and comparisons of different stretching techniques. The theoretical background and physiologic mechanisms are also explained. Color photographs show how stretching is applied while anatomical drawings illustrate the location and direction of the muscles treated so that correct hand positions can be adopted and the direction of the stretch is clear. Both static and tension-relaxation stretching techniques are described and special attention is given to possible complications and contraindications.

This text combines a broad overview of the physiology, neurophysiology and methodology of stretching, with discussion of contexts as varied as application of stretching during immobilization, trauma, post-surgery, cramp, joint inflammation and restriction, as well as in relation to specific conditions such as back and neck pain, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, disc problems, neural damage and hyper mobility.

The effects of stretching on mobility, flexibility, strength, muscle length, tendons, fascia, ligaments, nerves are evaluated. Essential topics covered include motivation, prep­aration for stretching (including topics such as heat, cold, massage and vibration), circulatory effects, after-effects (soreness), and how to avoid complications. A variety of different stretching methods and systems are covered, including passive, active, active assisted, dynamic, ballistic, static, Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF), Muscle Energy Techniques (MET), Contract-Relax (C-R), Contract-Relax, Antagonist-Contract (C-R A-C), as well as stretching in the context of physiotherapy practice.

According to Stretching Therapy, we now know a great deal more about the subject than previously, including important features such as the value of minimal effort, the ideal amount of time stretches should be held, the most appropriate number of repetitions, and the importance of the phenomenon of increased tolerance to stretch, and viscous and elastic behavior of connective tissue, and how these features influence stretching with evidence that sufficient, but not excessive, force is needed, over time with tissues at the right temperature for optimal effects. The book includes the regular placement of self-assessment concepts/questions.

Each muscle is illustrated, with information provided as to its nerve supply, origin, insertion and function and the technique for stretching is concisely described and photographed, with superimposed arrows to make sure that there is no misunderstanding as to what is required. Cautions are offered wherever any risk might be involved, for example in stretching the sterno-cleidomastoid.

Stretching Therapy provides a practical and comprehensive resource. Anatomical illustrations and descriptions make it easy to learn which muscles are affected by specific treatment techniques. Full-color photographs show correct positioning of the patient and the therapist, with explanations of each movement on the same page or two-page spread.

Stretching Therapy contains valuable information for physiotherapists, masseurs, physical education instructors, teachers, trainers, coaches, medical doctors, osteopaths, sportsmen and all those who use stretching in their work. The book provides detailed study material for physiotherapy as well as the manual therapy professions: chiropractic, naprapthy, and osteopathy. Most importantly, the preventive features of appropriate stretching are dealt with in relation to sport, body type, age, gender, inherited factors (hyper mobility for example), and even the best times of day to stretch. Even experienced practitioners will find the illustrations helpful as many embrace unusual positioning, both of the patient and the practitioner.

Mysteries & Thrillers

Book of the Dead [LARGE PRINT] by Patricia Daniels Cornwell (Kay Scarpetta Series, No 15: Thorndike Press)

Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell (Kay Scarpetta Series, No. 15: Putnam)

From America's # 1 bestselling and award-winning crime writer, Patricia Cornwell, Director of Applied Forensic Science at the National Forensic Academy, comes the new and 15th Kay Scarpetta novel.
The ‘book of the dead’ is the morgue log, a ledger in which all cases are entered by hand. For Scarpetta in Book of the Dead, however, that ledger is about to take on a new meaning. Fresh from her bruising battle with a psychopath in Florida, Scarpetta decides it's time for a change of pace, not only personally and professionally but geographically. Moving to the historic city of Charleston, South Carolina, she opens a unique private forensic pathology practice, one in which she and her colleagues – including Pete Marino and her niece, Lucy – offer expert crime-scene investigation and autopsy services to communities lacking local access to modern, competent death investigation technology.
It seems like an ideal situation, until the new battles start – with local politicians, with entrenched interests, with someone whose covert attempts at sabotage are clearly meant to run Scarpetta out of town. And that's before the murders and other violent deaths even begin.
A young man from a well-known family jumps off a water tower. A woman is found ritualistically murdered in her multimillion-dollar beach home. The body of an abused young boy is discovered dumped in a desolate marsh. Meanwhile, in distant New England, problems with a prominent patient at a Harvard-affiliated psychiatric hospital begin to hint at interconnections that are as hard to imagine as they are horrible.
Kay Scarpetta has dealt with many brutal and unusual crimes before, but never a string of them as baffling, or as terrifying, as the ones confronting her now. Before she is through in Book of the Dead, that book of the dead will contain many names – and the pen may be poised to write in her own.

Bestseller Cornwell's 15th novel to feature Dr. Kay Scarpetta (after 2005's Predator) delivers her trademark grisly crime scenes, but lacks the coherence and emotional resonance of earlier books. … With her recent switch from first- to third-person narration, Cornwell loses what once made her series so compelling: a window into the mind of a strong, intelligent woman holding her own in a profession dominated by men. … – Publishers Weekly
… The frosty forensic pathologist and her entourage remain as annoyingly self-absorbed and screwed up as ever, and their emotional baggage once again gets in the way of the story. A lengthy, vivid scene during which a young tennis star is slowly and brutally tortured sets up the mystery. … Then there's Scarpetta's longtime investigator, Pete Marino, foulmouthed and crude but tolerated, who reveals true ugliness in what may be the best scene in the book. As to forensic detail, it seems right up to the minute, and Scarpetta uses it often in her search for the killer, all the while trying to preserve balance in her personal life. … – Stephanie Zvirin, Booklist

The first name in forensics, the last name in suspense, Cornwell once again in Book of the Dead proves her ability to entertain. Cornwell’s most recent bestsellers include At Risk, Predator, and Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper – Case Closed. Her earlier works include Postmortem – the only novel to win the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony, and Macavity awards and the French Prix du Roman d'Aventure in a single year – and Cruel and Unusual, which won Britain's prestigious Gold Dagger Award for the best crime novel of 1993. Dr. Kay Scarpetta herself won the 1999 Sherlock Award for the best detective created by an American author.

Mysteries & Thrillers

Ruby Tuesday: An Eddie Dancer Mystery by Mike Harrison (Eddie Dancer Mysteries Series: ECW Press)

I wasn't there but this is what happened to Paul Menzies on the second Thursday in April, as told to me by Valerie, his wife of twenty-seven years.

She came to see me in my office, unan­nounced, one bright spring morning in early May. I was sitting at my desk, feet up, hands locked behind my head, balancing body and soul and wrestling with seventeen across in the Calgary Herald's crossword – a five-letter word meaning, ‘to turn inside out.’

I swiveled towards the door as it squeaked open. She was unannounced because I have no receptionist. No secretary. No pretty young thing to proclaim the arrival of potential new clients.

They just walk in off the street and tell me their life stories.

Or at least, the nasty bits.

And Valerie Menzies' nasty bits were equally as nasty as anyone else's.

No more, no less.

But it was early days and there was plenty of time for things to get worse. And they did. Much worse. But I'm getting ahead of the game.

She paused a moment, unimpressed by my feet on the desk. I could tell patience wasn't high on her list of virtues.

"I need a five-letter word meaning ‘to turn inside out?’" I asked her.

She never missed a beat.

"My life." – from the book

In Ruby Tuesday Paul Menzies is an out-of-shape, middle-aged advertising executive, who arrives at work one morning to discover he’s lost his job. Downsized. That evening, he stops by a bank machine to check his finances. Ahead of him, a scruffy young couple is arguing about the state of their own finances.

When the muscular husband, Victor Shriver, loses his temper and smacks his wife hard, Paul steps in and hauls the young thug backwards across the lobby.

Which is the only clear image caught by the bank’s security camera.

In the ensuing brawl, Shriver puts Paul in hospital for nearly a week. Despite the severity of his injuries, the cops have little choice but to lay charges against Paul for assault. Shriver has found himself a sharp little lawyer, and between them they smell money, asking for $50,000. Instead Paul offers to fight Shriver, mano a mano, in a boxing ring. Three rounds. If Shriver wins, Paul will pay him and the assault charges will be dropped. If Paul wins, no money changes hands and the assault charges will still be dropped.

When she realizes there’s nothing she can do to dissuade her husband, in Ruby Tuesday Paul’s feisty wife, Valerie Menzies, hires Calgary P.I. Eddie Dancer to stop the fight.

But it’s too little, too late and when the heat of the media spotlight focuses on the ‘mismatched fight of the year,’ even Eddie realizes he’s beaten.

As Eddie investigates the Shrivers, he finds more than he bargained for. The fight comes and goes, ending in a way no one could have predicted, but Eddie cannot leave the case alone. As he is reminded of some unresolved issues of spousal abuse from his own past, he realizes that unless he gets to the root of the abuse in the Shriver family, there will be many more victims.

Highly recommended for fans of hard-boiled private-eye yarns – Booklist

A hard-boiled shamus. – Kirkus Reviews

Harrison has a fine, tight writing style. His dialogue is crisp and matches the out for him. – The Globe and Mail

In Ruby Tuesday, the third installment in the Eddie Dancer series of mysteries, author Mike Harrison once again puts his ‘high-energy, tough-minded style’ (Quill & Quire) to good use. Harrison has eclectic interests that include motorcycling, hiking, cooking, and hypnosis. His first Eddie Dancer Mystery, All Shook Up, was a 2006 Writers Notes Book Award winner for Commercial Fiction, and a 2006 Arthur Ellis Award and Macavity Awards nominee, both for Best First Mystery Novel.

Mysteries & Thrillers / Humor

Rumpole Misbehaves: A Novel (Unabridged, 3 Audio CDs, Running Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes) by John Mortimer, narrated by Bill Wallis (BBC Audiobooks America)

Rumpole Misbehaves: A Novel by John Mortimer (Viking)

Rumpole is one of the immortals of mystery fiction. – San Francisco Chronicle

The beloved and bestselling Rumpole series, written by Sir John Mortimer, novelist, playwright and former practicing barrister, is back to solve a new and peculiar mystery. In Rumpole Misbehaves Horace Rumpole, hero of the downtrodden, returns to fight the good fight – for anti-social behavior.

Anti-Social Behavior Orders, commonly known as ASBOs, are the New Labour government’s pride and joy. A child who plays or even loiters in an unfriendly street can, on the complaint of neighbors, have an ASBO slapped on him. If he offends again he will be found in breach of his ASBO and thrown in jail without a trial.

ASBOs may be the pride and joy of the New Labour Party, but they don't cut much ice with Rumpole – in Rumpole Misbehaves he takes the old-fashioned view that if anyone is going to be threatened with a restriction of their liberty then some form of legal proceeding ought to be gone through first.

All this, of course, raises the wrath of everyone’s favorite barrister Rumpole when he is called upon to defend a Timson child who has earned an ASBO for playing soccer on a posh street.

As Rumpole tries to get to the bottom of it all, his fellow barristers in chambers decide to highlight the ridiculousness of ASBOs by citing Rumpole for bringing food and his beloved wine into his room, and for causing global warming by lighting small cigars.

Not that Hilda (‘she who must be obeyed’) agrees, of course, but she's too busy completing her memoirs to dissuade him from taking an interest in the Timson child. Pretty soon Rumpole realizes something fishy is going on. Why are the residents pursuing their vendetta against the Timson boy quite so strongly? Could they have a sinister reason for not wanting him on their street?

Rumpole Misbehaves is another witty tale sure to please the legions of Rumpole fans who await each new installment. Narrator of the audio version, Bill Wallis, has performed in more than 200 radio series and plays and numerous productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Mysteries & Thrillers / Suspense

Precious Blood: A Novel by Jonathan Hayes (Harper Collins)
New York City is packed with intriguing people, but few of them are as unusual as gastronome/forensic scientist/first time novelist Jonathan Hayes. A forensic pathologist for more than twenty years, the last seventeen as a New York City medical examiner, Jonathan Hayes writes what he knows. Hayes has worked in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York performing autopsies and testifying in murder trials since 1990.

In Precious Blood New York City medical examiner Edward Jenner thought he'd gotten out, turning his back on forensics – and life – after the nightmare of September 11. But when a young student is found murdered, her mutilated body hanging on the wall of an East Village apartment, Jenner is forced out of retirement. One look at the victim and Jenner is sure there's a serial killer on the loose – a hunch confirmed when he uncovers a second horrific murder in rural Pennsylvania. When Ana de Jong, the murdered girl's roommate, appears in his loft, desperate for help, Jenner is plunged deep into a world of cruelty and death, a world he tried so desperately to leave behind. As more bodies pile up and the killer's methods become increasingly sadistic, Jenner races to identify the ancient text engraved in the victims' flesh, hoping it will lead him to the truth behind the murders.

Dragged back onto the dark streets of New York City, Jenner is pushed to the limits of his physical endurance, pitting his sharpest intuitions against the elusive maneuverings of a psychopath. As he gets within inches of the answer, the clock is ticking and the killer is just too fast – ten steps ahead of the police, two steps ahead of Jenner, and always just out of reach.

What ensues in Precious Blood is an atmospheric race against time through the gritty streets of New York in the shadow of one of the most jarring and emotional moments of the City's long history. As the killings continue, Jenner's desperate chase brings him ever closer to the man behind the grisliest murders he's ever seen – and only one of them can survive.

Hayes's experience as a New York City medical examiner adds dimension to this thriller. .. What makes this story stand out is the nicely detailed forensic work. Fans of CSI and the like would definitely like this one. – Library Journal

Hayes makes an impressive debut pitting a former medical examiner's considerable wits against a diabolical serial killer. The murders are grisly and striking, and Jenner is a likable lead (somewhat reminiscent of Jeffery Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme) . . . Jenner seems an able hero to carry a series. – Romantic Times, 4 Stars

Precious Blood is a brilliant debut that delivers all one can ask for in a great read: an intelligent thriller that takes you down the meanest streets, peopled by complex characters, pacing that doesn't let up until you've turned the last page, and dialogue that crackles and cuts to the bone. Forensic pathologist Jonathan Hayes brings his authentic voice – and a fascinating protagonist – to the crime novel. The autopsy report leaves no question of causation: this reader was scared to death. – Linda Fairstein

Taut and chilling... a fast-paced thriller written by a real player in the game of forensic sleuthing. – Kathy Reichs, author of the bestseller Bones to Ashes

New York City medical examiner Hayes provides plenty of authentic forensic atmosphere in his grisly debut. But his tale of a maniacal serial killer loose on the streets of Manhattan dwells too much on the carnage with insufficient focus on his protagonist's emotional state. Dr. Edward Jenner, an occasional private consultant who resigned from his post as a New York City forensic pathologist after the trauma of 9/11, is positive the gruesome crucifixion murder of a young college student is the handiwork of a burgeoning serial killer. … The somewhat creepy relationship that develops between Jenner and Ana distracts, while fans familiar with the conventions of the serial killer genre will find much of the action predictable. Hopefully, Hayes will combine his impressive forensics knowledge with a fresher plot and deeper characterization in his next thriller. – Publishers Weekly

Hayes brings a scary authenticity to this debut crime novel. Precious Blood is real-world forensic investigation, where fingerprints lead nowhere, DNA doesn't help, and serial killers aren't always caught in the nick of time. A moody forensic thriller, this is real world forensic investigation.

Politics / History / U.S.

The Fall of the House of Bush: The Untold Story of How a Band of True Believers Seized the Executive Branch, Started the Iraq War, and Still Imperils America's Future [ABRIDGED] (5 Audio CDs, running time 6 hours) by Craig Unger, narrated by James Naughton (Simon & Schuster Audio)

The Fall of the House of Bush: The Untold Story of How a Band of True Believers Seized the Executive Branch, Started the Iraq War, and Still Imperils America's Future by Craig Unger (Scribner)

The presidency of George W. Bush has led to the worst foreign policy fiasco in the history of the United States – the bloody, unwinnable war in Iraq. Bush's fateful decision was rooted in events that began decades ago.

From Craig Unger, the author of the bestseller House of Bush, House of Saud, comes The Fall of the House of Bush, an account of the secret relationship between neoconservative policy makers and the Christian Right, and how they assaulted the most vital safeguards of America's constitutional democracy while pushing the country into the catastrophic quagmire in the Middle East.

A seasoned, award-winning investigative reporter connected to many back-channel political and intelligence sources, Unger knows how to get the big story. Through scores of interviews with figures in the Christian Right, the neoconservative movement, the Bush administration, and sources close to the Bush family, as well as intelligence agents in the CIA, the Pentagon, and Israel, Unger relates how the Bush administration's certainty that it could bend history to its will has carried America into the war in Iraq, costing America thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.

Unger has assembled a comprehensive account of how and why Bush took America to war in Iraq. Among the revelations:

  • Why George W. Bush ignored the advice of his father, George H.W. Bush.
  • How Bush was convinced he was doing God's will.
  • How Vice President Dick Cheney manipulated him, disabled his enemies within the administration, and pressed for an attack on Iraq.
  • Which veteran government official, with the assent of the president's father, protested passionately that the Bush administration was making a catastrophic mistake – and was ignored.
  • How information from forged documents that had already been discredited fourteen times by various intelligence agencies found its way into President Bush's State of the Union address in which he made the case for war with Iraq.
  • How Cheney and the neocons assembled a shadow national security apparatus and created a disinformation pipeline to mislead America and start the war.

Provocative, timely, and disturbing, The Fall of the House of Bush stands as the most comprehensive and dramatic account of how and why Bush took America to war in Iraq. The chilling audio version is read by Tony-Award-winning actor James Naughton.

Professional and Technical / Engineering / Energy

Power to Save the World: The Truth about Nuclear Energy by Gwyneth Cravens, with an introduction by Richard Rhodes (Knopf)

 My book is fundamentally about prejudice based on wrong information.

I used to oppose nuclear power, even though the Sierra Club supported it. By the mid-1970s the Sierra Club turned against nuclear power too. … My tour of the nuclear world began with a chance question I asked of Dr. D. Richard (‘Rip’) Anderson. … He took me on a tour of the nuclear world so that I could learn firsthand its risks and benefits. I visited many facilities, talked to many scientists in different disciplines, and researched the conclusions of the National Academy of Sciences and various international scientific bodies. As I learned more, I became persuaded that the safety culture that prevails at U.S. nuclear plants and the laws of physics make them a safe and important tool for addressing global warming. Clearly many of my beliefs had originated in misinformation and fear-mongering. – Gwyneth Cravens, in an interview

Power to Save the World describes the efforts of one determined woman, Gwyneth Cravens, a longtime skeptic about nuclear power, as Cravens spends nearly a decade immersing herself in the subject. For Power to Save the World, she teamed up with a leading expert in risk assessment and nuclear safety who is also a committed environmentalist, and together they trace the path of uranium – the source of nuclear fuel – from start to finish. As readers accompany them on visits to mines as well as to experimental reactor laboratories, fortress-like power plants, and remote waste sites normally off-limits to the public, readers come to see that they already have a feasible way to address on a large scale the causes of global warming.

On the nuclear tour, Cravens converses with scientists from many disciplines, public health and counterterrorism experts, engineers, and researchers who study both the harmful and be­nign effects of radiation; she watches remote-controlled robotic manipulators unbolt a canister of spent uranium fuel inside a ‘hot cell’ bathed in eerie orange light; observes the dark haze from fossil-fuel combustion obscuring once-pristine New Mexico skies and the leaky, rusted pipes and sooty puddles in a coal-fired plant; glimpses rainbows made by salt dust in the deep subterranean corridors of a working nuclear waste repository.

In Power to Save the World, she refutes the major arguments against nuclear power one by one, making clear, for example, that a stroll through Grand Central Terminal exposes a person to more radiation than a walk of equal length through a uranium mine; that average background radiation around Chernobyl and in Hiroshima is lower than in Denver; that there are no ‘cancer clusters’ near nuclear facilities; that terrorists could neither penetrate the security at an American nuclear plant nor make an atomic bomb from its fuel; that nuclear waste can be – and already is – safely stored; that wind and solar power, while important, can meet only a fraction of the demand for electricity; that a coal-fired plant releases more radiation than a nuclear plant and also emits deadly toxic waste that kills thousands of Americans a month; that in its fifty-year history American nuclear power has not caused a single death. And she demonstrates how, time and again, political fear mongering and misperceptions about risk have trumped science in the dialogue about the feasibility of nuclear energy.

In the end, readers see how nuclear power has been successfully and economically harnessed here and around the globe to become the single largest displacer of greenhouse gases, and how its overall risks and benefits compare with those of other energy sources.

The best introduction to the current realities and benefits of nuclear power. – Stewart Brand

A persuasive and well-researched book that flies in the face of a lot of popular opinion about nuclear power. The energy issue is one that haunts our country, and this kind of clear-eyed presentation is a help. It's a real education in the subject. – Paul Newman

Power to Save the World should bring the history and science of nuclear energy into the mainstream consciousness as nothing else has. Propelled by an infectious curiosity, Cravens cuts through the rumor, prejudice, and misinformation that have long surrounded her subject. The picture that emerges is both surprising and surprisingly hopeful. – Timothy Crouse

Elegantly written and bristling with fascinating facts, Power to Save the World makes a welcome contribution to public understanding of the vital role nuclear energy can play in combating global climate change. – Timothy Ferris

Beautifully written and impressively researched, this book helps us understand better the complexities of radiation and nuclear weapons. Best of all, Cravens shows us how politics and fear mongering have impeded development of nuclear power. This is a truly valuable book that belongs on every bookshelf in America and on student reading lists. – Tony Hillerman

Eye opening… Cravens' thorough inquiry dispels myths, clarifies science, and portrays an astonishing and ever more crucial hidden world. – Donna Seaman, Booklist

With concerns about catastrophic global warming mounting, it is vital that we examine all of our energy options. Power to Save the World is an eloquent, convincing argument for nuclear power as a safe energy source and an essential deterrent to global warming. Timely and thought-provoking, the book helps readers reexamine their assumptions, taking an informed and clarifying look at the myths, the fears, and the truth about nuclear energy.

Religion & Spirituality / Christianity

Modern Christianity to 1900 edited by Amanda Porterfield, with general editor Denis R. Janz (A People's History of Christianity Series, Volume 6: Fortress Press)

After the Reformation, Christians found themselves living amidst wars of religion, the Enlightenment, and colonization. Modern Christianity to 1900 explores the spread of Christianity to lands outside Europe and the Middle East, the new pluralism within Christianity, and the incredible transformation of the Americas and of Christianity in the Americas, including the advent of Evangelical, African American, and Asian Christianities, and the new relations these events provoked among Protestants and Catholics, women and men, master and slave. Modern Christianity to 1900 includes 50 illustrations, maps, bibliographies, and an eight-page color gallery.

In Modern Christianity to 1900, the way in which lived Christianity and its practices were altered by these global changes is probed by an illustrious group of scholars led by editor and distinguished historian, Amanda Porterfield, Robert A. Spivey Professor of Religion and Director of Graduate Studies at Florida State University, Tallahassee. The contributors include: Amanda Porterfield; John Corrigan, Florida State University; Carlos Eire, Yale University; Peter Gardella, Manhattanville College; Ava Chamberlain, Wright State University; Douglas Winiarski, University of Richmond; Charles H. Lippy, University of Tennessee; Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, Graduate Theological Union; Marilyn Westercamp, Merrill College; Leo Cavalcanti, University of Richmond; Vera Shevzov, Smith College; and Ronald L. Numbers, University of Wisconsin.
Massive social and economic change, the global reach of European colonization and enslavement, the emergence of democratic ideals, and the brac­ing intellectual challenges of the Enlightenment – all these tremendous forces of modernity interacted with Christianity and the lives and practices of Christians everywhere. Attempting to resurrect the lived religious experience of Christians, historians ask how ordinary Christians came to terms with such change.

Modern Christianity to 1900 ranges across the globe – from Europe, Russia, and the Middle East to Asia, Africa, and the Americas – to explore how Christians' experiences of birth, death, prayer, sex, economic activities, gender roles, and race were both destabilized and creatively redefined by the intersection with the modern age.

In popular Christianity's encounter with modernity, the Christianity of the people came up against realities hitherto undreamt of, significantly altering inherited worldviews; geographical expansion led to diversification along regional lines; and issues such as race and gen­der rose to the fore, cutting across all boundaries. ‘Encounter’ can of course mean many things: confrontation, reaction, accommodation, transformation, adjustment, sublation, and so forth. All of these processes occurred, often simultaneously. Thus it would be foolish to underestimate the complexity of the theme.

With illustrations, Modern Christianity to 1900 engagingly highlights how the local daily lives of Christians creatively and often surprisingly intersected with the global forces we know as modernity. The decisive meeting of Christians and the modern spirit, with all its repercussions both personal and global, is brilliantly illuminated by the exciting work of a dozen of today's most erudite historians.

The seven-volume series A People’s History of Christianity, of which Modern Christianity to 1900 is a part, breaks new ground by looking at Christianity's past from the vantage point of a people's history. With general editor Denis R. Janz, Provost Distinguished Professor of the History of Christianity at Loyola University, New Orleans, the series is church history, but church history with a difference, it is the laity, the ordinary faithful, the peo­ple. Their religious lives, their pious practices, their self-understandings as Christians, and the way all of this grew and changed over the last two mil­lennia – this is the unexplored territory in which we are here setting foot.

Who were these people – the voiceless, the ordinary faithful who wrote no theological treatises, whose statues adorn no basilicas, who negotiated no concordats, whose very names themselves are largely lost to historical memory? What can we know about their reli­gious consciousness, their devotional practice, their understanding of the faith, their values, beliefs, feelings, habits, attitudes, and their deepest fears, hopes, loves, hatreds, and so forth? And what about the troublemakers, the excluded, the heretics, those defined by conventional history as the losers? Can a face be put on any of them?

Today, even after half a century of study, answers are still in short supply. It must be conceded that the field is in its infancy, both methodologi­cally and in terms of what remains to be investigated. What is clear is that many traditional assump­tions, timeworn clichés, and well-loved nuggets of conventional wisdom about Christianity's past will have to be abandoned. Close to a hundred historians of Christianity have applied their various types of expertise to this project, whether as advisers or edi­tors or contributors. What they share is a conviction that rescuing the Christian people from their historic anonymity is important, that reworking the story's plot with lay piety as the central narrative will be a contribution of lasting value, and that reversing the condescension, not to say contempt, that all too often has marred elite views of the people is long overdue. If progress is made on these fronts, the groundwork for a new history of Christianity will have been prepared.

Volumes in the series include:

  1. Christian Origins – Richard Horsley, editor
  2. Late Ancient Christianity – Virginia Burrus, editor
  3. Byzantine Christianity – Derek Krueger, editor
  4. Medieval Christianity – Daniel E. Bornstein, editor
  5. Reformation Christianity – Peter Matheson, editor
  6. Modern Christianity to 1900 – Amanda Porterfield, editor
  7. Twentieth-Century Global Christianity – Mary Farrell Bednarowski, editor

Religion & Spirituality / Christianity / Inspirational / Middle-East

A Life Poured Out: Pierre Claverie of Algeria by Jean-Jacques Pérennès, with a foreword by Timothy O. P. Radcliffe, translated by Phyllis Jestice & Matthew Sherry (Orbis Books)

Living in the Muslim world, I know the weight of this temptation to withdraw into oneself, the difficulty of mutual understanding and of respecting each other. And I can measure perfectly the abyss that separates us ...We would not be able to bridge this gap by ourselves. But God, in Jesus, gives us the means to measure the length, the breadth, the depth and the extent of his Love. Supported by this revelation, we can regain confidence ...To give one's life for this reconciliation as Jesus gave his life to knock down the wall of hatred which separated Jews, Greeks, pagans, slaves, and free men, isn't that a good way to honor his sacrifice? Hope is not a naive optimism, but confidence that for each of us after Good Friday comes Easter Sunday. – Pierre Claverie

Pierre Claverie (1938-1996), Dominican friar and the bishop of Oran in Algeria, was as­sassinated August 1, 1996. With him died a young Muslim friend, Mohamed Bouchikhi. At Pierre's funeral a few days later, the cathedral was packed with his many friends, Muslim and Christian. It seemed absurd that this man, who had devoted his life to dialogue between Christianity and Islam, should die in such a violent way. He had known for a long time that his murder was probable, but he had refused to run away to safety. But what future could there be for reconciliation between these two great faiths when such a man and his Muslim friend were deliberately wiped out by a bomb?

As told in A Life Poured Out, the story of Pierre Claverie is of a man who lived with hope. His death did not, as author Jean-Jacques Pérennès, Dominican priest and economist, explains, extinguish that hope but made it shine out more strongly. Five years after Pierre's assassination, the world was shocked by the horror of 9/11. In London and Madrid bombs have been detonated on public transport, murdering hundreds of innocent people, but this is nothing compared to the ongoing violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, India, and Thailand. All over the world the followers of great and ancient religions are killing each other. Faced with this escalating slaughter, is there any hope for peace?

Pierre Claverie's life and death show that not only can we hope but we must do so. Even at Claverie’s funeral, just over three days later, there were signs that hope is not groundless. The gathering of so many Muslim friends, their profound distress at his pointless murder, was a sign that Pierre's quest for friendship across religious boundaries had borne fruit that will endure. At the end of the funeral, a young Muslim woman gave her testimony. It was through Pierre that she had returned to her faith.

According to A Life Poured Out, our conversation with those who have different beliefs is in itself a proclamation of our faith in the God whose very life is the conversation of the Trinity. For this dialogue to be real, it must be truthful, and ‘Truth’ is the motto of Pierre's religious order. We must be truthful about the wounds that we have inflicted upon each other in the past. For one and a half millennia, Christians and Muslims have fought each other, invaded each other's lands, expelled and hurt each other. We cannot create peace unless we face that past without flinching. The reaction of many Muslims to the Second Gulf War was intensified since it was seen as the prolongation of a long history of Western aggression against Islam, going back to the Crusades. Pierre insisted on speaking frankly: “The collective unconscious has kept the scars that we have inflicted on each other, and it would be totally self-deceiving to believe that we could easily get rid of them by appealing to good feelings. At any moment, and especially during times of crisis, the warriors of Allah and the Saracens or the Moors invading Europe reappear in the collective mind and the discourse of the West, while the Muslim always recalls the Crusades and colonialism. For most of Christian history and nearly all of Muslim history, each faith has looked on the other religion as ‘the Other’ over which it defines itself. Unless we can face that history, we will not be able to overcome it.”

Pierre Claverie was a son of Algeria. From its inception at Bab el Oued in the French colonial world, his entire adult life was spent in the land or, more precisely, on the intangible frontier that separates or unites the two shores of the Mediterranean. Born in 1938 to a family that had been settled in Algeria for four generations – what are called ‘pieds-noirs’ (‘black feet’) – at the age of twenty Claverie became aware of the drama of entrapment in what he would one day call the ‘colonial bubble.’ Learning the Arabic language with enthusiasm, he became familiar with Islam, and returned to spend his adult life forming a relationship of rare intensity, practically a kinship, with this land, and above all with the people of Algeria. "The emergence of the ‘Other,’ the recognition of the Other, the adjustment to the other" were, by his own admission, the beginning of his double vocation, both religious and Algerian. A young Dominican, Claverie was quickly given responsibilities by Cardinal Duval, whose task was to guide the church of Algeria in a delicate transition from French rule to an Algerian Algeria. Astonishingly gifted at human relationships, cordial and warm, Pierre Claverie played an enthusiastic role in the construction of this new Algeria, and during the seventies was regarded as a leader in developing, non-aligned nations. After becoming bishop, he helped the small Christian community of Oran to find its place in this common effort. As told in A Life Poured Out, if matters had stopped at this point, they would tell a fine tale of a life, the tale of a journey from colonial Algeria to Algerian Algeria, ‘from Algiers to el-Djezair.’ But Claverie was called to follow a different path.

In the early 1980s, the dream of a socialist Algeria gave way to uncertainty, then to a veritable nightmare. Dubious economic choices, social inequities, and corruption undermined the political stability of the state. Hasty Arabiza­tion and political manipulation of Islam favored the emergence of a radical ‘Islamism,’ above all among the youth and in the society's working class. The riots of October 1988 and their resulting repression inaugurated a pe­riod of violence that to this day has resulted in at least 150,000 deaths in what resembles a civil war in which none are spared. Far from distancing himself from the national drama because of his minority status – he was a Chris­tian, an Algerian par alliance, that is, ‘by covenant’ one might say – Pierre Claverie plunged into the turmoil body and soul. The question of the ‘other’ was the central concern of his life: it was on that issue that his own per­sonal adventure was played out. Far from yielding to threats, he took a stand and denounced those who fanned the flame of rejection and exclusion of the other. He spoke out to uphold militants fighting for human rights, women struggling for emancipation, and all those who were working for an open and fraternal Algeria. When the Christians became victims in their turn of the violence that engulfed the country, Claverie raised his voice in scathing de­nunciation of ‘the cowardice of those who kill in the shadows.’ This came not from concern to defend the interests of the church – what was there left to defend? – but because what was at stake was, in his opinion, the very possibility of a humanity that was pluralist, not exclusive, and that belief lay at the heart of all.

A Life Poured Out asks: did Pierre Claverie expose himself too much? Some have thought so, even among those in his own church, where many considered it more prudent to keep a low profile while waiting for better days. But for Claverie it had become a kind of interior necessity to see his choice through to the end, faithful to his recovered land like a certain Galilean who taught that there is no greater love than to give one's life for one's friends. At his funeral in the modest cathedral of Oran, the crowd of Muslim friends, outnumbering the Christians, were there as visible proof that his message had been heard. In their name, a young Algerian woman bore witness with courage and emotion to what both groups had become to Claverie. Forty days later, during a solemn tribute in the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, at the request of the French bishops and his Dominican brethren, the high-pitched cries of Algerian women at the end of the homily confirmed, in a striking manner unseen previous in that place, the deep sense and measure of that life that had been offered up. However moving the ceremony was to those present, though, these tributes could not disguise the fact that the values Pierre Claverie had extolled remain a matter of controversy. Is there really a place for a Christian in a Muslim society? Where Islam predominates, can it allow full citizenship to any other religion? Is it proper for a bishop to engage in society's debates to this extent? These questions are far from resolved, and the rapprochement of the two shores of the Mediterranean and the values that each side upholds is still fragile and under threat.

Pérennès says he knew Pierre Claverie over the course of nearly twenty-five years, from the early seventies until his death. Having lived in Algeria for ten years, where he knew and associated with Pierre Claverie, it was easier for him to analyze the context of his life's course and to find those involved. Pérennès says there is a certain mystery in a life that has been sacrificed. The book tells the story of a man of passion and sacrifice to "make the ‘other’ exist" and to create ties between human beings. Readers will be able to glimpse in A Life Poured Out that the secret of Pierre Claverie's life and his joy lay above all in that gift.

Religion & Spirituality / New Age

Kuan Yin: Assessing the Power of the Divine Feminine by Daniela Schenker (Sounds True)

People call on Kuan Yin for many reasons – to keep them safe while traveling, to bless them with children, or to help them through a trying time. I have heard tales of people who were cured of serious diseases after seeking her blessings. This compassionate goddess has many manifestations, as you will soon discover. Because of this, there are myriad ways in which we can invite her into our lives, and many dimensions to our experiences of her. – Daniela Schenker

Kuan Yin is revered by millions across spiritual traditions. According to ancient scriptures, a female bodhisattva (one who is fully devoted to the enlightenment of others), she stood at the gates of Nirvana ready to enter. But when she heard the cries of suffering in the world, she chose to remain in the human realm until the last sentient being was freed from pain. In Kuan Yin, author and devotee Daniela Schenker offers readers a book of full-color photographs and illustrations, along with invocations, meditations, and visualizations to summon the healing energy of this goddess of compassion and liberation. Schenker, astrologer, Feng Shui and holistic lifestyle advisor, has been a student of Asian traditions for more than twenty years, traveling extensively throughout the world to trace both the history and modern worship of Kuan Yin.

According to Schenker, even those who encounter Kuan Yin's image for the very first time can find themselves moved to tears by her grace and compassion. This goddess of healing has crossed the borders of nations and faiths to touch the hearts of seekers all over the world.

To help readers draw inspiration and strength from this deity of loving-kindness, Schenker in Kuan Yin gathers together a treasury of Kuan Yin history, imagery, and spiritual practices that includes:

  • 33 of Kuan Yin's manifestations, each with its own contemplation and watercolor image.
  • Passages from the Lotus Sutra.
  • Information about Kuan Yin's evolu­tion, including her origin as the male.
  • Avalokiteshvara, her earthly embodi­ment as the Chinese princess Miao Shan, and her ‘spiritual sisters’ in other traditions.
  • Powerful mantras and visualizations to invoke Kuan Yin's guidance and protection.
  • Tips to create a devotional Kuan Yin altar – a sacred place to call upon her blessings.
  • Namo Kuan Shi Yin Pusa and other powerful mantras to invoke Kuan Yin's guidance and protection.
  • Kuan Yin's ‘power spot,’ the Chinese island of Putuo Shan.

Graceful like the goddess herself, Kuan Yin makes the perfect gift and a companion on the spiritual path. The book is a resource for connecting to Kuan Yin's energy through art, story, and spiritual practice.

Religion & Spirituality / New Age / Divination

Titania's Crystal Ball: Now You Can See Your Future by Titania Hardie (Connections Book Publishing)

Open this pack, and you open your mind to your own ability to ‘see’ the future. Crystal gazing is one of the oldest, and simplest, forms of divining what lies in store.

Titania Hardie, who goes by the name of ‘Titania,’ is Britain's most famous White Witch and top-selling author. Born in Sydney, Australia, she is a third generation White Witch. Her maternal family originates from Cornwall. Through her mother's guidance, Titania nurtured her own psychic abilities and developed an affinity for understanding nature and harnessing its power to enhance lives and well-being. She lives in the Somerset, UK.

According to Titania in Titania's Crystal Ball, ‘crystalomancy,’ one of the oldest and simplest forms of discovering what the future holds, is now within everyone's grasp. Titania presents her own crystal ball and explains how, with the right approach, patience, and concentration, anyone can learn to see their own future and that of others. In Titania's Crystal Ball, the sixty-four-page illustrated guidebook, she takes readers by the hand and, based on her own experience, gradually introduces them to the ancient art of scrying. Using her advice, readers learn to disengage from the everyday, gaze into the crystal orb, and focus on the shapes that appear. She says it will take a little practice, but in time, they will become ‘seers’.

Packaged together in one box are

  • The crystal ball with stand.
  • An illustrated guidebook of instructions.

The process involves:

  • Focusing the mind.
  • Gazing into the ball.
  • Reading the psychic Signs.

The guidebook in Titania's Crystal Ball explains everything readers need to know, from ‘What will I see?’ and ‘How do I start?’ to ‘What else can I do?’ Titania is the expert guide who explains the process in practical, easy-to-follow steps. With her guidance, users may be amazed at their psychic ability.

Science / Biology / Ecology

Biology Under the Influence: Dialectical Essays on Ecology, Agriculture, and Health by Richard Lewontin & Richard Levins (Monthly Review Press)

How do we understand the world? While some look to the heavens for intelligent design, others argue that it is determined by information encoded in DNA. Science serves as an important activity for uncovering the processes and operations of nature, but it is also immersed in a social context where ideology influences the questions we ask and how we approach the material world.

In Biology Under the Influence authors Richard Lewontin, Alexander Agassiz Research Professor at the Museum of Comparative Zoology and Richard Levins, John Rock Professor of Population Sciences, Department of Population and International Health, both at Harvard University, break from the confirms of determinism to offer a dialectical analysis for comprehending a dynamic social and natural world. Richard Lewontin and Richard Levins provide a critique of genetic determinism and reductionism within science while exploring a broad range of issues including the nature of science, biology, evolution, the environment, pubic health, and dialectics. They dismantle the ideology that attempts to naturalize social inequalities, unveil the alienation of science and nature, and illustrate how a dialectical position serves as a basis for grappling with historical developments and a world characterized by change.

Biology Under the Influence is a collection of Lewontin and Levins’ essays built around the gen­eral theme of the dual nature of science. On the one hand, science is the gener­ic development of human knowledge over the millennia, but on the other it is the increasingly commodified specific product of a capitalist knowledge indus­try. The result is a peculiarly uneven development, with increasing sophistica­tion at the level of the laboratory and research project, along with a growing irrationality of the scientific enterprise as a whole. This gives us a pattern of insight and blindness, of knowledge and ignorance, which is not dictated by nature, leaving us helpless in the face of the big problems facing the species.

According to Lewontin and Levins, this means we have to be engaged on two fronts: 1) we stand against the obscurantist anti-science, which ranges from direct manipulation of the EPA and FDA by the government and the hype of the drug companies, to creationism and the mystification of mathematical chaos; 2) we also reject scientism, the claim that other people's ideas are superstition while ours are uniquely objective knowledge verified by numbers. The authors reject the postmodern view that, still reeling from having discovered the fallibility of science, comes to deny the validity of knowledge or, overwhelmed by the uniqueness of the particular, refuses to see patterns even of uniqueness. Scientism focuses mostly on the last stages of research, hypothesis testing, thus ignoring the questions of the origins of the hypotheses to be tested and of the source of the rules of validation.

Lewontin and Levins trace how this works out in agriculture, health, ecology, and evolution. Then they step back and look at the processes of abstraction and model building, and return to examining the present-day obstacles to an integral, complex, dynamic view of the world. Lewontin and Levins say they come to Biology Under the Influence as participant observers. Both of them have been active in various areas of population genetics, ecology, evolution, biogeography, and mathematical modeling. In their scientific work they have attempted to apply the insights of dialectical materialism that emphasizes wholeness, connectedness, historical contingency, the integration of levels of analysis, and the dynamic nature of ‘things’ as snapshots of processes. They also step outside of the specific scientific problems to become observers and examine the nature of science and the uses of mathematics and modeling. In this, we step into what usually fits within philosophy of science.

Lewontin and Levins have also been political activists and comrades in Science for the People; Science for Vietnam; the New University Conference; and struggles against biological determinism and ‘scientific’ racism, against creationism, and in support for the student movement and antiwar movement. They say that on the day that Chicago police murdered Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, they went together to his still bloody bedroom and saw the books on his night table: he was killed because of his thoughtful, inquiring militancy. Their activism is a constant reminder of the need to relate theory to real-world problems as well as the importance of theoretical critique. In political movements they often have to defend the importance of theory as a protection against being over­whelmed by the urgency of need in the momentary and the local, while in academia they still have to argue that for the hungry the right to food is not a philosophical problem.

The essays in Biology Under the Influence were written over a 20-year period and were directed at different audiences, some academic colleagues and some activists with little technical knowledge. Redundancy is usually undesirable in books, but here it is justified by two considerations: the removal of repetition would destroy the coher­ence of some chapters, and since the approach is largely unfamiliar, its repe­tition in different contexts may not be amiss.

Some of the entries in the book are short essays from their column "Eppur' Si Muove" that ran in the journal Capitalism, Nature, Socialism. These include "Are We Programmed?" about genetic determinism, "The Politics of Averages" about statistics, "Schmalhausen's Law" about vulnerability, "Life on Other Worlds," and "Evolutionary Psychology". Longer pieces, some pre­viously published, discuss uncertainty; the political economy of agriculture, Cuba, systems theory, model building, the organism-environment relation, and chaos.

In this major collection of essays, Lewontin and Levins range from the Human Genome Project and evolutionary psychology to Cuban agriculture. Throughout, their work is illuminated by an insistence on a dialectical understanding of biology from the molecular to the socio-ecological. In rejecting reductionist understandings, they offer important insights into how biology – and science in general – could be reconceptualized in the service of human liberation. – Steven Rose, emeritus professor of biology, Open University, United Kingdom

Biology Under the Influence brings together the illuminating essays of two prominent scientists who work to demystify and empower the public's understanding of science and nature. The book is a devastating critique of genetic determinism and reductionism.

There are also important topics Lewontin and Levins do not discuss – feminist analysis, cultural criticism or the role of subjec­tivity in social life, design plans for a better world, or questions about how to get there. But what they do cover, they cover with penetrating insight.

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Cauldron by Jack McDevitt (Ace Books)
In Cauldron, the year is 2255. The academy that trained the starfarers is long gone and the age of star flight is over. The only efforts at space exploration are carried on by privately funded foundations. Veteran star pilot Priscilla ‘Hutch’ Hutchins spends her retirement supporting fund-raising efforts for The Prometheus Foundation, a privately funded organization devoted to deep space exploration.
But then a young physicist named Jon Silvestri comes forward, insisting that an abandoned prototype for a risky interstellar drive that's vastly superior to current technology, is in fact workable. He insists it is so efficient it is capable of reaching the core of the galaxy. Hutch persuades the group to back him and he is proven right; the new drive works.

The Cauldron – the very core of the galaxy – is now only three months away. At long last, the mystery of the clouds that have devastated the galaxy for centuries can be penetrated.

Soon a handful of brave men and women begin a journey fraught with danger. So in Cauldron, series keystone Priscilla Hutchins finds herself aboard a newly outfitted ship dispatched to the galactic core, seeking the source of a million-year-old interstellar menace.

Why read Jack McDevitt? The question should be: Who among us is such a slow pony that s/he isn’t reading McDevitt? – Harlan Ellison

You should definitely read Jack McDevitt. – Gregory Benford

Space opera specialist McDevitt shoehorns two traditional SF plots into his latest Academy novel (after 2006's Odyssey), doing both stories a disservice. … The cast is uniformly likable if prickly, but no true protagonist emerges from McDevitt's ensemble. Some sections are leisurely, others rushed. Readers see little of the star drive research, and the space voyage is triply sidetracked – to a planet of cheerfully technophobic aliens, an abandoned world with unexpected dangers and a black hole with a tantalizing secret – before reaching its stated objective, where the threat's origin is summarily introduced and disposed of in the last 60 pages. Despite considerable inventiveness and an enthusiastic pro-space agenda, the story remains superficial, especially frustrating from a writer of McDevitt's caliber. – Publishers Weekly

Author Jack McDevitt is a former naval officer, taxi driver, English teacher, customs officer, and motivational trainer, and now a full-time writer. McDevitt is a longtime favorite of Science Fiction fans and critics. This master of the space opera took home the 2006 Nebula Award for Seeker, and his most recent novel Odyssey is a finalist for the 2007 John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Odyssey was also named the Best Science Fiction Book of 2006 by Library Journal. Now McDevitt adds to his impressive repertoire of stellar Sci-Fi novels with Cauldron.

Social Sciences / Anthropology

These Days of Large Things: The Culture of Size in America, 1865-1930 by Michael Tavel Clarke (The University of Michigan Press)

The United States at the turn of the twentieth century cultivated a passion for big. It witnessed the emergence of large-scale corporate capitalism; the beginnings of American imperialism on a global stage; record-level immigration; a rapid expansion of cities; and colossal events and structures like world's fairs, amusement parks, department stores, and skyscrapers. Size began to play a key role in American identity. During this period, bigness signaled progress.

These Days of Large Things explores the centrality of size to American culture and national iden­tity and the preoccupation with physical stature that pervaded American thought. Michael Tavel Clarke exam­ines the role that body size played in racial theory and the ways in which economic changes in the nation generated conflicting attitudes toward growth and bigness. Clarke, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Calgary, investigates the relationship between stature and gender.

In These Days of Large Things has adopted a cultural studies methodology as the best means of addressing a theme that found expression in various forms, from literary works and other written texts to architecture, pho­tography, and international fairs. This book is an interdisciplinary study aimed at understanding the political signification of various texts in their relation to discourses of size. The general vision that emerges is that, while America's turn-of-the-century culture of expansion devel­oped in ways that solidified the authority of dominant powers (the Euro­pean-descended, male, corporate elite), it also provoked various forms of dissent and resistance that helped shape its development.

Clarke says that the book was motivated less by a desire to offer a new interpretation of the cultural history of the period than by a desire to understand a key moment in the history of American attitudes toward the body and physical stature. The dizzying set of material changes brought about by Progressive America's culture of expansion had decisive implications for American ideas about embodiment. On one hand, dominant ideologies insisted that changes in bodies would correspond to social transformations; the tall, growing body came to signify the American evolutionary, industrial, and social progress that was an inte­gral ideological component of America's culture of expansion. Bigness (by which Clarke means specifically tallness), as a bodily characteristic and a national cultural trait, became a key component of American identity and a peculiar sign of American progress in this period.

On the other hand, in the presence of massive corporations, enor­mous urban crowds, vaulting skyscrapers, and gargantuan machines, many Americans felt both actually and figuratively diminished. That the unprecedented material and social changes were associated with a new scale of social conflict and inequality and precipitated new social problems made the apparent diminishment of the powers of individuals all the more ominous. As in other historical periods, the human body became a site for imaginatively negotiating a variety of problems coincident with the tumultuous social and institutional changes of the day; but to a greater degree than in other eras, the size of the body played a key symbolic role in this ongoing negotiation.

These Days of Large Things adopts a strategic constructionist approach to the body as the best available means of addressing issues of representation and identifying the ways in which discourse attaches meaning to bodies. The first of three sections examines the treatment of physical stature in anthropology, medicine, and other branches of sci­ence. Chapter 1 examines the treatment of African pygmies in travel nar­ratives, anthropological studies, and world's fairs. Small, black, and non-industrial, the pygmies were conceived as antithetical to Americans. Pygmies were consigned to the bottom of the evolutionary ladder and regarded by many as the missing link between apes and humans. If representations of pygmies reassured Americans of their pre­sumed physical and social supremacy, they were insufficient to wholly allay anxieties about the possibility of American degeneration. Chapter 2 situates the height and growth studies that proliferated in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century, a period in which scientific attention shifted from the periphery of empire to the center, in the context of these national concerns. This chapter sit­uates Progressive-era assumptions about physical stature within a broader history of Euro-American study of height and growth, empha­sizing in particular the adoption of racial paradigms in the late nine­teenth century as explanations for human physical variation. Chapter 3 examines the role of transcendent vision as a narrative device in naturalist fiction, and chapter 4 returns to the subject of the politics of vision with a discussion of debates circulating around skyscrapers.

If the first part of These Days of Large Things addresses the basic mythology of height and growth, including its scientific formations and its social effects, the second part deals with its more contested aspects. Chapter 3 in this section addresses the ambivalent response to the growth of large-scale corporate capitalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It begins with a discussion of the three mythic figures that emerged during the national trust debates and that reckoned prominently in political and economic discourses of the day: big busi­ness's giant figure of the Incorporated Body, organized labor's equally gigantic figure of the Unionized Body, and the middle class's Little Man. Chapter 4 in this section examines the skyscraper as an architectural rendering of the progressive, expanding, racially superior American body. Together, the two chapters in this section explore the connections between economic developments, shifting ideas about size, and the implications of both for conceptions of the body. Chapter 3 contains information on the economic and social developments that will seem familiar to readers conversant with the period but that crucially inform Clarke’s arguments throughout These Days of Large Things. Clarke demonstrates in this section not only that economic discourses funda­mentally affect(ed) ideas about the body but also that conceptions of the body play(ed) a significant role in shaping economic debates. That bodily metaphors were used so consistently in economic debates suggests that people felt a need to render changes that often seemed abstract and bewildering in a comprehensible, grounded way. In the era of family-based or entrepreneurial capitalism, competitions among businesses could be understood as competitions among individuals; a business was conceived as an extension of its owner. Until the mid-twentieth century, when a corporation was commonly referred to as ‘the organization,’ business imagery at the turn of the century continued to express an individualist ethic. In chap­ters 3 and 4, Clarke is most interested in the things that economic discourses reveal about American attitudes toward physical stature, but he is also interested in more general discourses of size and what they reveal about American culture in broader terms.

The third section of These Days of Large Things continues to emphasize the anxieties created by the dramatic social and material changes of the Progressive era, this time as they related to gender ideologies. This section focuses on images of growing women and shrinking men that abounded. As women swept into the labor force and clamored for equal education, equal economic opportunity, and the vote, they strained traditional notions of women's proper sphere. Meanwhile, normative notions of masculinity were under intense pressure not only from the social demands of women but also from changes in the economy. Images of shrinking men and growing women represented the simultaneous promise and threat of feminine enfranchisement and masculine disempowerment.

Chapter 5 in this section focuses on Mary Antin's immigrant autobi­ography The Promised Land. Antin adopted the figure of the growing Jew from contemporary Jewish anthro­pologists to argue for the restorative effects of American culture on oppressed Russian Jewish immigrants and to combat the arguments of immigration restrictionists, who portrayed the Jews' purportedly short stature as inimical to American racial progress. Chapter 6 in this section studies the images of shrinking men that proliferated in naturalist fiction, with an emphasis on Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. Depicting a world in which degeneration is the inevitable path for industrial-class masculinity, and yoking this narrative of lower-class degeneration to the middle-class image of the Little Man, Sinclair attempts to unite his (implicitly white) male readers across class lines in support of socialist change.

In lieu of a more traditional conclusion, These Days of Large Things offers a brief coda to the third section that brings the discussion of the intersections between size and gender up to the 1950s, a period of equally vigorous material and economic expansion, with an analysis of the science fiction films The Incredible Shrinking Man and Attack of the 50-Foot Woman. The epilogue illustrates the continuing power of Progressive-era dis­courses of size as well as the ways such discourses were transformed in the middle of the twentieth century.

From the Gilded Age through the Twenties. Clarke shows a nation-state obsessed with sheer size, ranging from the mammoth labor union to the ‘Giant Incorporated Body’ of the monopoly tree. These Days of Large Things links the towering Gibson Girl with the skyscraper, the pediatric regimen with stereotypes of the Jew. Spanning anthropology medicine, architecture, business, and labor history, Clarke provides the full anatomy of imperial America and offers a model of cultural studies at its very best. – Cecelia Tichi, Vanderbilt University

Although These Days of Large Things studies attitudes toward stature in a par­ticular moment in U.S. history, it has implications for other times and places. The book brings together a remarkable range of cultural material including scientific studies, photographs, novels, cartoons, architecture, and film. As a general cultural and intellectual history of the period, this work will be of interest to students and scholars in American studies, U.S. history, American literature, and gender studies.

Sports / Psychology / Biographies & Memoirs

The Agony of Victory: When Winning Isn't Enough by Steve Friedman (Arcade Publishing)

What makes some people drive themselves to succeed in their chosen sport, no matter how daunting the odds? And what is the pain that victory can't assuage?

The Agony of Victory, an anthology, is full of stories like this: the Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree, a man so determined to excel that he built his own bike out of washing-machine parts and other scrap metal) and pitted himself against the giants of the sport. He won, and kept winning until cycling's regulating body changed its rules to prevent him from competing; so he changed his technique, and they changed the rules again. Finally, after he started coughing up blood months after a race, his career came to a close.

In The Agony of Victory written by Steve Friedman, longtime senior editor at GQ and contributing editor at Esquire, readers meet:

  • The swiftest and saddest cyclist of his time, a man whose craving for speed was outstripped by a terrible rage toward self-annihilation.
  • The greatest bowler who ever lived, a high school dropout who could never measure up to his father.
  • The most accomplished high school runner in American history, whose long-distance records still astound and who, just years after his greatest triumphs, abandoned his wife and children and adopted a new identity.
  • Steve Vaught, a 410-pound ex-marine, and his inspired plan to walk from Oceanside Pier, California, to New York.
  • Kirk Apt – also known as Mr. Mellow – in his seventh attempt to win the toughest long‑distance race in America, the Hardrock 100.
  • The leading scorer in Division 1 college basketball, one of the inner city’s great Success stories… while it lasted.

The Agony of Victory follows the paths of fourteen ravaged champions who were driven by a burning need to prove themselves. The individual pieces concern sports as varied as bowling, cycling, basketball, boxing, and golf, but they are linked by a common theme: the pursuit of excellence as a path to self-destruction.

Don't be fooled: This isn't a book about sports. It's about redemption. – Ken Fuson, Des Moines Register

The stories here are mordant, sad, hilarious, and altogether unpredictable. Friedman has written that rare sports book: a book about deeply flawed, highly complicated human beings who happen to have had great success as athletes, mostly because of, rather than despite, their frailties. – Eric Konigsberg, author of Blood Relations

With unquestionable passion for his subjects and language that is at once soulful and precise, Friedman grants these sports figures permission to be their mad, brilliant selves. The Agony of Victory is as much about sports as it is about the intersection between superhuman strength and fragile humanity – Meghan Daum, author of The Quality of Life Report

Friedman brings together essays written over the last 20 years into a fascinating anthology. … [This] story … perfectly illustrates the physical and psychological toll that the drive to win can take on a person. An apt counterpoint to the multitude of winning-is-everything books, this one says that winning is nice, but it isn't everything (and maybe, in some cases, it can be lethal). – David Pitt, Booklist

Friedman raises sports writing to the level of literature. – Richard Ben Cramer, author of Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life

Effortless prose that is funny, touching, and profound. – Jeff Leen, investigations editor, Washington Post

Haunting ... So much more than a book about sports. – Cynthia Gorney, author of Articles of Faith

Compassionate, eloquent, smart… a marvelous addition to the literature of sport. – Michael Griffith, author of Spikes

Terrific human stories ... Only Friedman could punch you in the gut with

Friedman tells the stories you never see in the sports pages, tracing the fine line between passion and obsession and delivering brutally touching dispatches from the broken and dark hearts of champions. This book is flat out fascinating. – Michael Connelly

The Agony of Victory is a superbly written, insightful book – for serious readers who like sports and for sports fans who love to read. Here, movingly detailed, are their painful journeys to grace and their eventual realization that no victory or athletic achievement can bring lasting happiness.

Sports / Horses

Gold Rush: How Mr. Prospector Became Racing's Billion Dollar Sire by Avalyn Hunter (Eclipse Press)

Potential, promise, dreams, and fragility – this was Mr. Prospector, a champion that never was.

The morning after the 1973 Florida Derby, one name had the racing word astir, and it wasn't even a horse that had run in the feature – rather one that had raced on the undercard in a $3,100 allowance. According to Gold Rush, Mr. Prospector had gone out and manhandled the nine-horse field, running the six furlongs in 1:07 4/5, setting a Gulfstream Park record and just missing the world record by two-fifths of a second. And he hadn't been pushed in the least.

According to author Avalyn Hunter, the bay streak was something much more than ordinary; that much was clear from the start. But it wasn't on the racetrack that this son of Raise a Native out of Gold Digger would end up proving his mettle. There would be no trophies from major stakes races.

With only a modest racing career, no one expected much from Mr. Prospector when he retired to stud in 1975. His legs battered by repeated injuries, he would limp away from racing to a modest place as a stallion at his owner's Florida farm. At that time there was no way of predicting his impact on Thoroughbred racing – an impact that would become legendary. It was there that Mr. Prospector proved he was far and away anything but common. His stud fee started at a mere $7,500 and at its height reached $250,000. Even the Florida market proved too meager for the talented sire, who was purchased in part by Claiborne Farm and moved to Kentucky.

As told in Gold Rush, posthumously he has grown as a legend. Since his death he has led the broodmare sire list seven more times. At the time of his death at age 29 in 1999, Mr. Prospector had led both the U.S. sire and broodmare sire lists twice. Since then he has led the broodmare sire list seven more times. Among his many prominent offspring is 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, who sold for $4 million as a yearling and was syndicated for stud duty for an estimated $70 million.

In Gold Rush, respected pedigree expert Hunter tells the story of Mr. Prospector and his incredible impact on the American Thoroughbred. This magnificent progenitor’s success continues even eight years after his death, coming to life again in the book.

Transportation / Crafts & Hobbies / Classic Cars

Mike Yager's Corvette Bible: Specifications, Hundreds of Photos, Buying Tips by Mike Yager (Kraus Publications)

Mike Yager is the ‘Ultimate Corvette Package.’ There are all types of people in the Corvette community with many different motives: socializers, collectors, investors, restoration hobbyists, etc. Mike Yager is a unique animal – he fits all categories. He likes to talk about Corvettes. He likes to drive Corvettes. He likes to make money on Corvettes. He likes to maintain the history and tradition of Corvettes. – Dana Mecum, from the Forward

Here’s a chance to enjoy Corvettes to the max with Mike Yager's Corvette Bible. The book showcases the first 500-horsepower production car ever created.  It combines the technical specifications readers hunger for with 400 photos and a year-by-year review of every Corvette. The book also contains insider information and tips including:

  • Problems to watch for with each model.
  • Common aftermarket products.
  • Mistakes in restoration and repair.
  • Tips for buying, selling, repair and restoration.

Mike Yager's Corvette Bible covers each year of the Corvette's 56-year history from the Motorama-inspired '53 model to the latest high-performance Z06. Each year is its own chapter with photos, history, technical information and Yager's personal advice on which Corvettes to ‘cheer’ and which to ‘jeer.’

Mike Yager is one of the most charismatic and well-known Corvette experts in the world. He is the owner of Mid America Motorworks, a familiar face on the Speed Channel's ‘Dream Car Garage’ and host of the annual Corvette Funfest, which draws an estimated 50,000 Corvette enthusiasts. Yager began his company in 1974 with a $500 loan and through the years has grown it into the giant mail-order company it is today, serving millions of enthusiasts worldwide.

The Corvette was created as an economical sports car for young adults. It was also something that could be used as a performance-im­age builder while Chevrolet waited for its V-8. The car's fiberglass body was not only novel but practical. It lowered the cost of produc­tion in limited numbers and expedited the Corvette's debut. Steel-bodied models were originally planned for later model years.

According to Mike Yager's Corvette Bible, sales were so bad Chevrolet management was on the verge of killing the Corvette. Howev­er, when Ford came out with its two-passenger Thunderbird, the company was forced, for com­petitive reasons, to continue production. Sales shot up dramatically in 1956. One of the main reasons was the Corvette now had looks to match its performance.

With the introduction of fuel-injection in 1957 advertising proclaimed, "For the first time in automotive history – one horsepower for every cubic inch." The clean, classic styling of 1956 and 1957 was jazzed-up in 1958. Although the basic design was attractive, the chrome-laden 1958 is generally considered the gaudiest Corvette.

The Corvette is the number one collector car in the world. For the past 30 years, Corvettes have shown consistent increases in value for investors, with the benefit being they are the most marketable to sell in the shortest timeframe anywhere in the US. That fact is very important if an owner has the misfortune of an emergency-driven sale.

In an effort to encapsulate collecting situations and activities in Mike Yager's Corvette Bible, Yager creates a Rating Graph with three major categories to accommodate a broad range of typical circumstances that just about anyone can identify. “Trust me,” he says, “your Corvette falls into one of these!” A ‘Basket Case’ may have the motor missing or have a lot of parts missing or disassembled. An ‘Average Driver’ is a normal production Corvette without distinguishing attributes. A ‘Rare Unique’ is a low production Corvette via desirable attributes such as motor, options, colors, etc. A ‘Complete Original’ speaks for itself – it is 95% there or better.

Mike Yager is the kind of guy who likes to give back to the hobby he loves... – Bill Moore, Drive magazine

Yager is living proof that a boyhood dream can evolve into a life's work. – George Mattar, Muscle Machines magazine

What Yager has accomplished – and continues to accomplish – at Mid America inspires the very way of life of enthusiasts of all stripes. – Tracy Powell, Automobile Quarterly

The book provides expert commentary from the founder of Mid America Motorworks.

Mike Yager's Corvette Bible can help readers understand what they should pay attention to when they are researching the Corvette market. Using this book, readers learn about common restoration mistakes and they get tips for buying and selling. And most importantly, they will know which problems to watch out for in each model.


They Lived to Tell the Tale: True Stories of Modern Adventure from the Legendary Explorers Club by The Explorers Club, edited and with an introduction by Jan Jarboe Russell (Explorers Club Book Series: The Lyons Press)

Want a glimpse of the world as few have seen it before?

In They Lived to Tell the Tale, members of the world-famous Explorers Club share their spectacular journeys from the depths of the world’s oceans to the canopies of the Amazon rainforest to the dark vastness of outer space and points in between. As readers turn the book’s pages, they climb the highest mountains, slog through jungle swamps, crawl into spider-infested caves, trek across vast deserts, and gasp in astonishment at the sheer audacity of the guides – all from the comfort of their own living rooms.

Founded in 1904, The Explorers Club is a multidisciplinary, professional society dedicated to the advancement of field research, scientific exploration, and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore. The overall mission of the Club is the encouragement of scientific exploration of land, sea, air, and space, with particular emphasis on the physical and biological sciences.

The Club is international in scope, with 3,000 members representing every continent and more than sixty countries. Over the years, membership has included polar explorers Roald Amundsen, Robert E. Peary, and Richard C. Byrd; aviators James Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh and Chuck Yeager; underwater pioneers Jacques Piccard, Don Walsh and Robert Ballard; astronauts John Glenn, Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Sally Ride and Kathryn Sullivan, and cosmonaut Viktor Savinykh; mountaineers Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay; and former U.S. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover.

These adrenalin-filled moments in the lives of the world's most death-defying scientists, researchers, anthropologists, and explorers redefines any preconceived notions readers might have about what exploration is. Captured in They Lived to Tell the Tale is the modem adventurer whose aim has shifted from thrill seeking for his or her own sake to protecting national treasures, preserving the planet, and making discoveries that will benefit the whole of humankind.

  • Titanic discoverer Robert Ballard describes a ‘bad day’ at the ‘office.’
  • Naturalist Jim Fowler searches for the Andean condor.
  • Arctic explorer Lonnie Dupre crosses North Greenland by dog sled.
  • Professor Bobby Harrison pursues the elusive ivory-billed woodpecker.
  • Dr. Ken Kamler survives disaster on Mount Everest.
  • ‘Canopy Meg’ Lowman climbs to the treetops of the rainforest.
  • Archaeologist Cameron McPherson Smith escapes the Darién Gap by raft.
  • NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao joins a Russian crew at the International Space Station.
  • Piotr Chmielinski experiences the dark days at ‘Ground Zero.’
  • Marine colonel Matthew Bogdanos aids in the recovery of Iraq’s national treasures.
  • Wings World Quest explorer Milbry Polk retraces Alexander's footsteps.
  • Oceanographer John Loret travels with Thor Heyerdahl.
  • Photographer Mary Ann Smothers Bruni witnesses the making of Iraq’s First Lady.
  • Ethnobotanist Wade Davis participates in an ancient Peruvian ritual.
  • Mountaineer James Powell discovers how not to take a jungle bath.

Readers can discover a whole new world and live dangerously with real-life adventurers from the world renowned Explorers Club, in They Lived to Tell the Tale as adventurers recount their most thrilling moments. These twenty-seven tales capture the wonder and excitement of exploration in the twenty-first century. These incredible firsthand accounts, ranging from the remarkable to the captivating to the bizarre, will surely to become a memorable part of exploration lore for generations to come. 


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