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SirReadaLot.org


We Review the Best of the Latest Books

ISSN 1934-6557

June 2009, Issue # 122

The Cracker Queen: A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life by Lauretta Hannon (Gotham Books)

Sell Your Business for the Max! (Spiral-bound) by Steve Kaplan (Workman Publishing)

The Accidental Startup: How to Realize Your True Potential by Becoming Your Own Boss by Danielle Babb (Alpha Books)

Farley Follows His Nose by Lynn Johnston & Beth Cruikshank, with illustrations by Lynn Johnston (The Bowen Press, HarperCollins Children)

The Little Green Pea by Alison Barber, with illustrations by Paige Keiser (Sleeping Bear Press)

Face to Face with Orangutans by Tim Laman & Cheryl Knott (Face to Face with Animals Series: National Geographic)

Michael Recycle Meets Litterbug Doug by Ellie Bethel, illustrated by Alexandra Colombo (Worthwhile Books)

Cooking Club: Great Ideas and Delicious Recipes for Fabulous Get-Togethers by Dina Guillen & Michelle Lowrey (Sasquatch Books)

Memorable Recipes: To Share with Family and Friends by Renée Behnke with Cynthia Nims (Andrews McMeel)

What We Eat When We Eat Alone: Stories and 100 Recipes by Deborah Madison & Patrick McFarlin (Gibbs Smith)

Brain-Compatible Classrooms, 3rd Edition by Robin J. Fogarty (Corwin Press)

Tandem Lives: The Frontier Texas Diaries of Henrietta Baker Embree and Tennessee Keys Embree, 1856-1884 edited by Amy L. Wink (University of Tennessee Press)

Loon: A Marine Story by Jack McLean (Presidio Press)

An Loc: The Unfinished War by General Van Nhut Tran, with Christian L. Arevian (Modern Southeast Asia Series: Texas Tech University Press)

Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival by Clara Kramer, with Stephen Glantz (Ecco)

African-Americana by Barbara E. Mauzy (Schiffer Publishing Ltd)

The Soul of a Horse: Life Lessons from the Herd (Thorndike Large Print Health, Home and Learning) [LARGE PRINT] by Joe Camp (Thorndike Press, Gale Cengage Learning)

Black & White and Pieced All Over: Stress-free Foundation Quilts by Kay M. Capps Cross (Krause Publications)

Free, Sovereign, and Independent States: The Intended Meaning of the American Constitution by John Remington Graham, with a foreword by Laura C. Tesh (Pelican Publishing)

The Little Book: A Novel (Paperback) by Selden Edwards (Plume)

Heroic Mode and Political Crisis, 1660-1745 by Elaine McGirr (University of Delaware Press)

The Ordeal of Warwick Deeping: Middlebrow Authorship and Cultural Embarrassment by Mary Grover (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press)

The Currents of Space by Isaac Asimov (Tor Books)

Lone Star by Edward Ifkovic (Poisoned Pen Press)

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain De Botton (Pantheon Books)

Tantric Techniques by Jeffrey Hopkins, edited by Kevin Vose (Snow Lion Publications)

Best Tarot Practices: Everything You Need to Know to Learn the Tarot by Marcia Masino, with a foreword by Rachel Pollack (Weiser Books)

Philosophy and Catholic Theology: A Primer by Philip A. Egan (Liturgical Press)

How to Read the Akashic Records: Accessing the Archive of the Soul and Its Journey by Linda Howe (Sounds True)

Healing into Possibility: The Transformational Lessons of a Stroke by Alison Bonds Shapiro, with a foreword by James S. Gordon (HJ Kramer/New World Library)

Real Witches' Book of Spells and Rituals by Kate West (Llewellyn Publications)

Wetware: A Computer in Every Living Cell by Dennis Bray (Yale University Press)

Ghost Mountains and Vanished Oceans: North America from Birth to Middle Age by John Wilson & Ron Clowes, with a foreword by Bob McDonald (Key Porter Books)

Crisis of the State: War and Social Upheaval edited by Bruce Kapferer and Bjørn Enge Bertelsen (Berghahn Books) 


Biographies & Memoirs / Women

The Cracker Queen: A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life by Lauretta Hannon (Gotham Books)

 From her wildly popular NPR segments to her colorful one woman show, Lauretta Hannon is showing the world a different kind of girl raised in the South – a strong, authentic, fearless, flawed, resourceful and outrageous woman –the anti-Southern Belle.
Marking the debut of this powerfully original Southern voice, The Cracker Queen begins with the childhood experiences and adventures of Lauretta in backwater Warner Robins, Georgia. Her mama on the edge and jazz musician daddy had a deep and disorderly love with years of booze, infidelities and nervous breakdowns but through it all she felt cherished. The stories of her deeply dysfunctional family include chain gangs, guns, ghost hunting, moonshine stands, scooterpootin’, the famous Goat Man of Georgia and Crazy Aunt Carrie who was arrested for assaulting a police dog. The early years of hardship and hard living all gave Hannon the resilience and humor that are now the hallmarks of her Cracker Queen way of life.
From Warner Robins she moved to Savannah’s most eccentric neighborhoods and its lively crew of hellions, heroines, bad seeds, thugs and renegades including a lady who kept the Baby Jesus chained up in her front yard, a woman who looked like a rutabaga, and the root doctor that worked a hoodoo on her. And then there are the other stories; for example, those about her own Mama smuggling cigarettes to chain gangs, and those about the more unsavory parts of Savannah
The Cracker Queen is, at its core, about finding meaning in painful, desperate situations and discovering the joys that can sprout from such ragged terrain.

I raced through this book – horrified, laughing out loud, and weeping by turns. I say, let’s throw out all the self-help and inspirational books in the country, and put up The Cracker Queen displays instead! Hannon really made me think, and I’m going to whup some ass, too. – Lee Smith, author of The Last Girls and On Agate Hill
Watch out, Paula Deen and Jill Conner Browne! Chock full of unforgettable lines, The Cracker Queen delights again and again as the intrepid Hannon turns her hardscrabble beginnings into a major laugh fest that will leave her readers wanting more. Indeed, they will fall in love – as I did – with Hannon's wit and gutsy take on, well, everything. – Rosemary Daniell, author of Secrets of the Zona Rosa and Fatal Flowers

The heart, soul, and muscle of The Cracker Queen are in the often poignant, often shocking (but always engaging) pieces of Hannon’s experiences. But there is more to it than that: there’s also the promise of a remarkably gifted writer, one who understands that she is a medium for her environment, and, for readers, that is cause for great celebration. – Terry Kay, author of To Dance with the White Dog and The Book of Marie
Hannon’s stories move from country-hick hilarious to poignant and touching. – Savannah Morning News
Lauretta’s hilarious depictions of Steel Magnolias everywhere provide perfect proof that the best storyteller – and characters – in the South are women. – White County News

Hannon tells stories with sass, wit and a bit of southern charm. Full of warmth, outrageous wit, and world-class storytelling, the book is a poignant memoir of life on the wrong side of the tracks, with a colorful cast of misfits, plenty of belly laughs, and lessons for finding joy in spite of hardship. A celebration of living out loud and loving life to death, The Cracker Queen proves that not all southern families are created equal, but they do all know a thing or two about surviving hard times.

Business & Economics / Entrepreneurship

Sell Your Business for the Max! (Spiral-bound) by Steve Kaplan (Workman Publishing)

There’s a world of difference between wanting to sell a business and being able to sell a business.

Whether selling to retire, buy a new business, or because an investor is forcing the decision, business owners want to make the best out of the situation. Compounding the problem is the fact that buyers are looking for extreme discounts on businesses in industries that are suffering. If business owners don't know how to maximize potential deals, they may be leaving big money on the table.

In his New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers Bag the Elephant! and Be the Elephant, Steve Kaplan showed business owners how to win the big customer and maintain growth. In Sell Your Business for the Max!, Kaplan covers another and even more necessary skill: selling the business for maximum payoff.

Selling a business requires a completely different skill set than running a business, and it is often entangled in highly emotional issues. In this step-by-step workbook, Kaplan breaks down the process into three stages: preparing for the sale (including how to value the business), negotiating the sale, and optimizing the outcome. Drawing lessons from his involvement in more than a hundred acquisitions, Kaplan outlines the plan. Using real-life examples and a complementary suite of worksheets, Sell Your Business for the Max! demonstrates how to:

  • Prepare and position the business for sale, from tying up loose ends to creating the right marketing materials.
  • Identify the values of the business and brand its unique selling points.
  • Establish the true worth of the business by using several simple valuation models.
  • Make a great first impression with a detailed description of the company's finances and functions.
  • Avoid giving away too much proprietary information.
  • Identify and research potential buyers. Even spark a bidding war.
  • Negotiate effectively, without emotion.
  • Prepare for the diligence process – and know how to navigate this tricky period to command the highest price.
  • Guard against last-minute bombshells.
  • Maximize the sell price, understand different methods of payback, and protect employees as part of the deal.

No matter how prepared a seller or how solid a company, a deal can go bust if a potential buyer makes any one of the Five Killer Mistakes. Kaplan identifies and explains how to avoid the don'ts – which are equally important as the do's including:

  • Do not tell anyone about the sale until the deal is closed and the money is in the bank. Once a secret is leaked to one person, it is no longer a secret and rumors will spread. Do not delegate the sale of the company to others, even the seemingly mundane tasks of post-sale paperwork review.
  • Do not think about what to do with the money once it's in the bank until it is in the bank. This will take focus from the important task of selling and can lead to a sloppy close.
  • Do not fall victim to deal fatigue because a seller will inevitably settle for less than a company is worth just to get it over with.
  • Prepare for the sudden stop because once the company is sold, the business is gone and the owner must divest.

Included in Sell Your Business for the Max! is a suite of downloadable business-building tools, online templates, charts, and interactive calculators.

I just completed a $17.3-million private equity deal for my company, LittleMissMatched. From my experience working with a leading private equity firm on all aspects of the transaction, I can now confidently say that Sell Your Business for the Max! captures each and every step of the process. This book is an incredible tool for any entrepreneur or owner looking to exit a business. – Jonah Staw, CEO, LittleMissMatched

A no-nonsense action plan for preparing a company for sale and negotiating for maximum profit, Sell Your Business for the Max! prepares business owners with the skill set, mind-set, and step-by-step direction essential to closing the sale. This is a timely business book, not just the book for every small and large business owner, but a practical kit for business owners so they are not taken advantage of by potential buyers. The downloadable business tools and templates greatly enhance the value of the package and the real-life examples are powerful.

Business & Economics / Entrepreneurship

The Accidental Startup: How to Realize Your True Potential by Becoming Your Own Boss by Danielle Babb (Alpha Books)

Are you stuck in a dead-end job?

Are you unemployed – or worried you might be soon?

Are you working in corporate America but always dreamed of owning your own business?

Do you want a job where you can't get laid off?

If readers answered ‘Yes’ to any of these questions, entrepreneur and small business expert Danielle Babb in The Accidental Startup says, consider joining the group of professionals who left corporate America – for one reason or another – and discovered life as an ‘accidental’ entrepreneur. Babb helps readers figure out if they have what it takes to be their own boss – and shows them how to start the business they have always dreamed of – but never got off the ground.

With rising costs of going to work (including the time and money spent com­muting), the increasingly overwhelming feeling of being tied to day jobs 24/7, and electronic gadgets that routinely make people feel incapable of leaving work behind, many turn to running their own business as a dream they always wanted to fulfill, but were never quite sure how. Having started (and ended) many companies, and now running a successful one in multiple lines of business, Babb understands firsthand how it feels to try and fail – try and fail – and then try and succeed at owning and running one’s own business – the best feeling in the world.

The Accidental Startup helps readers make the call and go about the process of starting and running their own businesses by learning how to:

  • Determine if it makes financial sense to leave the corporate world behind.
  • Identify the market for their business and test whether it is viable.
  • Calculate start-up costs and revenue streams before making any investments.
  • Understand the strengths and weaknesses of the competition.
  • Navigate the legal issues.
  • Develop a business plan, set goals, and find funding.
  • Position their business for success.
  • Advertise and market the business.

From figuring out what they want to do to quitting that part-time job, from planning family time to going through all the legal and financial obligations of owning their own business, all the way through marketing it successfully and exceeding profit expectations, The Accidental Startup is geared toward making it work.

According to Babb, success is based on many definitions; she gives lots of personal examples throughout the book. With practical advice, surveys from the trenches (responses from other entrepreneurs living their dream), research, and fantastic resources, this is a guide book. The book walks readers through the steps of becoming an entrepreneur. With a wealth of information for prospective entrepreneurs it is designed for the underemployed, the unemployed, and the ‘just sick and tired of the corporate world’ workers. Whether they want to be self employed for the short run or the long haul, this book can give them the knowledge and motivation they need to make it.

Children’s / Ages 4-8 / Animals

Farley Follows His Nose by Lynn Johnston & Beth Cruikshank, with illustrations by Lynn Johnston (The Bowen Press, HarperCollins Children)

Young dog lovers will delight in Farley Follows His Nose, the irresistible picture-book debut of Farley – an endearing pooch with a big appetite and an even bigger heart!

sniff …
whuffa …
snoof …
sniff …
snuff …

Farley Follows His Nose starts like this:

It was a beautiful summer morning, and Farley’s bath was over at last. Farley shook himself and drew in a deep breath. Baths always made Farley hungry, but in the breeze he smelled rosesfreshcutgrasssweatypeoplethecatnextdoor and…

Good-natured and ever-hungry, Farley goes wherever his nose leads him. But as one delicious smell follows another, soon Farley is meeting new friends and exploring parts of town he has never seen before. Just how far has he wandered? Will he find a familiar smell to lead him back home?

Author Lynn Johnston is the creator of one of the world's most popular comic strips, For Better or For Worse, which began in 1979 and is published in more than twenty countries. A Pulitzer Prize nominee, her honors include the National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Award and the prestigious Order of Canada. Farley, the Old English Sheepdog from her comic strip, is based on a beloved dog – of the same name – she once owned. Her co-author, Beth (Johnston) Cruikshank, has been a practicing veterinarian and currently works with the Computers for Schools Program in Canada. She is also a freelance writer and frequently collaborates with Johnston.

A portion of the authors’ royalties fro the sale of Farley Follows His Nose benefits the Farley Foundation, helping pets in need.

Children’s / Ages 4-8 / Environment, Outdoors & Nature

The Little Green Pea by Alison Barber, with illustrations by Paige Keiser (Sleeping Bear Press)

The National Institute for Literacy encourages reading with very young children to read to them. When does a child learn to read? Many would answer kindergarten or first grade. But researchers have found strong evidence that children can begin to learn reading and writing in their earliest years, long before they go to school.

The Little Green Pea lives in row fifty-three and dreams of big things beyond the pea patch. But will a wiggly worm get in his way?

This little green pea has very high hopes of becoming a tree. While the other peas in the pod know better, this little pea dreams on. What will become of this little fella? Is this little green pea from row 53 destined to become part of a casserole, nestled among the tuna, soup, bread and eggs? Or with the help of a squirmy worm and a big mud pile, can this pea’s dream come true?

Illustrated in soft watercolors, The Little Green Pea is an ‘eco’ fable that will have young children laughing, while at the same time learning a little something about the nature of recycling.

Author Alison Barber, both a professional actor and writer, studied theater performance at Humber College in Toronto. Illustrator Paige Keiser's first drawing was on her bedroom wall at the age of 2. With interests in animation and fine arts, she is now a well-established illustrator.

Cute, yes, with lovely illustrations and fun poetry, but there is something slightly unsettling about identifying with a character who is eaten and then pooped out. And a pea becoming a tree – come on!

Children’s / Ages 9-12 / Outdoors & Nature / Animals

Face to Face with Orangutans by Tim Laman & Cheryl Knott (Face to Face with Animals Series: National Geographic)

Swinging from branches.

Living in trees.

Hanging on to mom.

That look in the eye is so human. She cradles her baby in her arms with such pride and tenderness. She interacts with family and peers in a way that suggests deep kinship, friendship, and trust.

Face to Face with Orangutans asks, “Have you ever been face to face with an orangutan?” This husband-and-wife team has; they live and work in the rain forests of Borneo to study these creatures up close. Readers meet the orangutans in their natural habitat through the adventures of National Geographic photographer Tim Laman and Harvard professor Cheryl Knott, and learn the threats that now face this incredible primate. Laman's photographs have received numerous awards as he collaborates with his wife, Knott, on orangutan research and conservation projects in Borneo.
Readers of Face to Face with Orangutans are led into the wild and introduced to their close cousins, the orangutans. They meet these fascinating, highly intelligent animals as they munch on fruit, swing from branches, and care for their young.

Readers find answers to questions like ...

  • How do you get close to an orangutan?
  • Where do orangutans sleep?
  • How do you make a jungle umbrella?

The book, like others in the Face To Face with Animals Series is brought to readers by National Geographic photographers and researchers in the field observing animals. Books in the series, including this one, combine exciting firsthand animal information with stunning animal photography. Included are important conservation messages about the need to protect animals and their threatened habitats. Readers receive ‘tips from the expert’ with practical nuggets of information about working with animals in the field. A ‘facts at a glance’ reference section, a scientific adventure experiment, a glossary, and a ‘find out more’ section all help readers process what they have learned.

Face to Face with Orangutans takes readers out of the zoo, out of the library, and into the wild and deep into the heart of Borneo, Indonesia for a moving close encounter. The book also helps young readers visualize the amazing careers of this young couple.

Children’s / Environment, Outdoors & Nature

Michael Recycle Meets Litterbug Doug by Ellie Bethel, illustrated by Alexandra Colombo (Worthwhile Books)

But the quaint little town had a problem to face,

For on top of the hill stood a mountain of waste!

And who was the culprit?
Who was the thug?
It was lonely and lazy-boned ... Litterbug Doug! – from the book

In Michael Recycle Meets Litterbug Doug, Litterbug Doug is lazy. He is wasteful. He is messy. But worst of all, he hates recycling! The clean and green town where he lives is in danger from his lazy ways, not to mention suffering from the stench released by the mountains of garbage that Doug leaves wherever he goes. So strong is its stink that even the army of rats that follow Doug around are rethinking their friendship with him. It's up to Michael Recycle, planet Earth's green-caped crusader, to show dastardly Doug the error of his ways ... before it's too late.

Michael Recycle, a high flying go-green superhero, swoops in and takes on his toughest challenge yet in Michael Recycle Meets Litterbug Doug. Written by Ellie Bethel and illustrated by Alexandra Colombo, this book is a rhyming tale delivering information about recycling and environmental awareness. A special section in the back of the book (printed on recycled paper, of course) includes a two-page spread filled with facts about trash, courtesy of Doug, and another two pages with Go Green Tips from everyone's favorite environmental superhero.

Author Bethel, like Peter Pan, never really wanted to grow up. Unfortunately, these things happen, and in a desperate attempt to slow the process of time Ellie immerses herself regularly in children's books. She was eleven when her first poem was published and following that she scribbled her way through her teenage years. Illustrator Colombo, with a degree from the Milan European Institute of design, has illustrated several books for publishers around the world.

Clever, colorful and practical – Lillepunkin.com

The illustrations were killer....absolutely fantastic. – Naturemoms.com

It has all the right ingredients that appeal to kids – Blisstree.com

The eagerly awaited sequel to Michael Recycle is just as much fun as the original. Michael Recycle Meets Litterbug Doug is the perfect picture book for earth day. Planet earth's green-caped crusader shows kids that it's easy to be a recycling superhero. The Bethel-Colombo duo weaves a rollicking tale with bold, eye-catching illustrations to create a fun story with an important message that young readers can relate to on Earth Day and every day.

Cooking, Food & Wine

Cooking Club: Great Ideas and Delicious Recipes for Fabulous Get-Togethers by Dina Guillen & Michelle Lowrey (Sasquatch Books)

Saving money in this economy doesn't mean sacrificing good food and nights out with friends. With at-home cooking at an all-time high, one of the most popular trends in food culture these days is cooking clubs. Friends and fellow food lovers gather to share meals and good times, while discovering new recipes to create at home.

Food and socializing go together like peas and carrots – and Cooking Club tells readers how to formalize that arrangement by creating an enriching cooking club. Much like a book club, cooking clubs combine an activity that most are already doing – cooking – with something most wish they did more of – meeting up with friends. The authors of Cooking Club are eager to help readers discover these clubs for themselves, showing them the ins and outs of how the clubs work.

Twelve themed menus offer a year’s worth of ideas for any cooking club. With 100 recipes plus tips, strategies, menus, and budget advice, this book is a resource for anyone interested in joining the social cooking trend.

Readers unsure of how to start a club need look no further than Cooking Club. Authors Dina Guillen and Michelle Lowrey are members of the same dining group for nearly a decade. From recruiting members to determining budgets to figuring out who cooks what and where, Cooking Club features these inspiring theme parties:

  • Breakfast is Better with Friends
  • From Hush Puppies to Cheese Grits (Foods of New Orleans)
  • What’s Your Curry (Cuisines of India)
  • Spring on the Patio
  • Smashing Plates (Greece)
  • Dames with Flames (Grilling)
  • Italian Night
  • Hawaiian Luau
  • One Night in Bangkok (Thai Cuisine)
  • Autumn Leaves Celebration
  • Latin American Cuisine
  • Comfort Food by the Fire

Each theme features eight recipes, including appetizers, main courses, and dessert. And, as an added bonus, members from a dozen cooking clubs around the country offer insight and advice for making club meetings a success.

Cooking Club is a lively and energetic book full of fun ideas. Taking readers by the hand, it gives confidence to under-practiced home chefs, infuses boring dinners with creative themes, and inspires gatherings among friends.

Cooking, Food & Wine

Memorable Recipes: To Share with Family and Friends by Renée Behnke with Cynthia Nims (Andrews McMeel)

The collection of recipes, ingredients, tools, and preparations in Memorable Recipes is inspired by the memorable gatherings hosted and celebrated by Renee Behnke. Behnke is the president emeritus of the culinary mecca Sur La Table, and she brings a bounty of tastes from around the world to her work. The unique recipes Behnke has created from her home and discovered in her worldly travels are designed to keep family and friends connected.

Memorable Recipes' eclectic collection of dishes offers something for everyone and every occasion – ranging from comfort foods such as Four-Star Fried Chicken; 20-Hour Baked Beans; and Rhubarb and Strawberry Crisp to stylish dishes that provide a ‘wow’ factor when it is called for, including Mussels a L'Escargot; Osso Buco with Sage Gremolata; and Red Wine-Poached Pears with Ricotta Stuffing. Some recipes will even find their way into readers’ everyday collections of favorites, for example, Classic Cornbread to Clam and Mussel Cataplana.

One hundred and forty recipes inspired by the culinary traditions of the Mediterranean, Asia, South America, and many regions of the United States are presented alongside color photographs. Along with the wide variety of recipes, readers will find detailed party-planning guidance, mix-and-match menu ideas, dozens of do-ahead tips, and seven unique step-by-step dinner party menu plans (including wine notes). This work also includes decor ideas and shortcuts home chefs can appreciate.

Co-writer Cynthia Nims studied cooking at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in France where she received the Grand Diplome d'Etudes Culinaires and worked on numerous cookbooks with the school's president.

From simple to divine, appetizer to grand feast, no one defines the word entertainer more than Renee Behnke. With passion, or should I say a joie de vivre, a table set by Renee is thoughtful in approach, respectful of tradition or ethnicity, and always ready for one more guest! …Try the paella, try the lamb tagine with preserved lemons, try, try, try! But most of all, get your butt in the kitchen and try to keep up with the grand dame. – Tom Douglas, chef/owner of Dahlia Lounge, author of Tom's Big Dinners

… She has now gathered in this volume the recipes for the memorable dishes she has served to her friends, and enhanced them with advice drawn from her unique experience in organizing anything from a simple dinner to a resplendent banquet. Look no further than this book to discover how she does it successfully and without stress. – Victor Hazan, food and wine writer, co-author of Marcella Says...

… With Memorable Recipes at your side, you will discover new culinary creations that will make you the talk of the town. Family and friends will reminisce about your memorable meals for years to come. Renee is remarkable – this is your chance to capture her brilliance and make it your own. – Suvir Saran, co-chef/co-owner of Dévi restaurant, author of Indian Home Cooking and American Masala

… Her enthusiasm for entertaining makes this book a party waiting to happen. You will want to savor this delicious book. – Rachel and David Michael Cane, hosts of the James Beard award-winning food radio show A Matter of Taste

In Memorable Recipes, Behnke shares her passion for food, family, friends, and travel through superb recipes, sound advice, and her extraordinary flair for creating wonderful but easy meals. This book empowers home entertainers by taking the intimidation out of hosting and preparing for a gathering or party. With Behnke’s reassuring advice, readers soon will be calmly planning, cooking, and sharing wonderful meals at their table – and having fun while they are at it. No matter what size the gathering – whether it's an intimate table for two on the patio for a soup-and-salad luncheon, or a grand table for twenty in the dining room for an exotic Moroccan soiree – the true themes will be intriguing flavors, wonderful company, and great fun.

Cooking, Food & Wine / Biographies & Memoirs

What We Eat When We Eat Alone: Stories and 100 Recipes by Deborah Madison & Patrick McFarlin (Gibbs Smith)

What do you eat when no one is watching?

From young college students to spry seniors, from empty-nest mothers to men and women with traveling spouses, from bachelors to the many people between relationships, millions of us dine alone every night. But what do we eat? Is it takeout, a frozen dinner, or our favorite gourmet meal? Is it a gooey grilled cheese sandwich? Maybe a spinach and feta omelet? Peanut butter-dipped pretzels? A perfectly seared salmon steak? Or a bowl of butternut squash and red pepper soup?

Renowned vegetarian cookbook author Deborah Madison set out to learn what people chew on when there isn't anyone else around. The responses in What We Eat When We Eat Alone are surprising and far-ranging-food-gone-wild in its most elemental form. Some solo diners relish the elaborate, while others prefer the bizarre, some eat their favorite foods, some eat what is convenient, and others choose their menus according to their moods. The book is illustrated with the art of Patrick McFarlin, capturing the flavor of the stories. It also includes recipes at the end of each chapter, over 100 in all, for those who dine alone, including tips on making smaller portion meals, and also on using leftovers in different recipes for those who don't want to eat the same dish night after night. Whatever is being served, our relationship with food is one of the defining and intimate relationships of our lives.

Madison is the founding chef of Greens restaurant, and the award-winning author of ten cookbooks and countless articles on food and farming, and her husband McFarlin is an award-winning journeyman painter and graphic designer.

As Deborah and Patrick reveal in every word and image of their delightfully personal narrative, you're never alone when you eat because food in itself is company – as intimate and personal as the individuals preparing and consuming it. Never has the world of food been more enjoyably presented, in drawings as spontaneous as the recipes are practical, from 'Mashed Potato Soup' to 'Polenta Smothered with Greens.' … All these voices confessing to what they do when no one else is about form a humane collective of daily life, wrapped in a fine romance between a Yankee cook and a Southern artist, whose love of friends and of each other is as clear as their love of food. – Betty Fussell, author of Raising Steaks: The Life & Times of American Beef
I am hooked on this book. It confirms once again that we humans are endlessly confounding and entertaining creatures. Deborah and her husband, artist Patrick McFarlin, blow the covers of food pros in revealing what they eat when no one's around. Then they move on to friends and acquaintances. You'll smile knowingly, muse a lot, maybe blush, get very hungry and probably end up in the kitchen, enjoying every bite of eating alone. This is another keeper from Deborah Madison. – Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of public radio's national food show, The Splendid Table from American Public Media
Just when you thought there was nothing conceivably new to write about food, Deborah 'Greens' Madison and her artist partner, Patrick McFarlin have devised a truly intimate, startling, funny, and genuinely subversive book. What We Eat When We Eat Alone is like peeping through a one-way mirror into the life of others. Not only what we eat, but how we eat it (spreading newsprint over one's chest to eat in bed) fills this entertaining book with enough fun and good ideas to keep you turning page after page. … – Peter Coyote, actor/author Sleeping Where I Fall
This is a truly unique book written by two professionals, but only by trial and error will we ever know if the recipes (should you care to try them) live up to the quality of the text and the genius of the sketches. We can be deeply thankful, however that no technical assemblage is offered for moose stew. – Patrick Oliphant, card-carrying vegetarian, Santa Fe
What a brilliant idea. I wish I'd thought of it myself – but then it wouldn't have had Patrick McFarlin's illustrations, and be the gorgeous book it is. – Paul Levy, writer, journalist, broadcaster, and author of Out to Lunch and The Official Foodie Handbook
What a fun book! It is totally 100% compelling and I LOVE the illustrations. … – Laura Calder, television host and food writer
This is a perfectly charming book, loaded with easy-to-try recipes. I love the notion of exploring our lonely- or alone-eating life. And the illustrations are scrumptious – vivid, funny, bold. – Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones

Part cookbook, part memoir, part pure fun, in a conversational tone What We Eat When We Eat Alone explores the joys and sorrows of eating solo and gives readers a glimpse into the lives of everyday people who do. The art of McFarlin is delightful, and the recipes sound great.

Education / Educational Theories

Brain-Compatible Classrooms, 3rd Edition by Robin J. Fogarty (Corwin Press)
The nation and the world are fascinated by the findings in brain research, including discoveries about sleep cycles, gender differences in physi­ology and processing, windows of opportunity and critical periods, and how the brain remembers, reads, and regenerates. Brain references pop up everywhere, people are aware of the dendrites in their brains, and the balance of the nature/nurture puzzle. The medical world taps into the research and discovers groundbreaking revelations connecting brain chemistry and dis­ease. Many educators are tuning in to brain-friendly strategies for learning.

With all this interest in the brain and the vast amount of information about the brain inundating the media, the need for an informative and practical book for teachers seems imminent. It is the purpose of Brain-Compatible Classrooms, third edition to bring the message of brain research and its implica­tions for the classroom to educators in a user-friendly format. Yet the landscape of brain research changes almost daily. Robin J. Fogarty says readers need to be aware that information presented in this book is open to debate and alteration as new insights emerge.

Summarizing research from theorists such as Arthur L. Costa, Robert J. Marzano and Daniel Goleman, Brain-Compatible Classrooms helps educators understand and utilize brain research to build high-achievement classrooms. Educator Fogarty, a leading proponent of the thoughtful classroom, president of Robin Fogarty and Associates, Ltd., has reorganized this third edition into three parts for a more comprehensive examination of the relationship between brain science and effective classroom practice.

Chapters in the book cover

  • An introduction to the brain and how it works, including gender differences and how they affect learning.
  • Application of brain research findings to learning principles, with compelling implications for the classroom.
  • The brain-mind connection and how cognitive science and brain science complement each other.
  • A four-corner paradigm for quality teaching: setting the climate for learning, using brain-based teaching skills, putting it all into practice, and receiving student feedback.

This third edition of Brain-Compatible Classrooms is a book with a history. The first edition was a reconceptualization of an earlier work titled Patterns for Thinking, Patterns for Transfer, based on a framework of four elements and a classroom model that advo­cates teaching for, of, with, and about thinking. In essence, that same model was restructured in the second edition. Officially called the four-corner framework for quality teaching, this model addresses the same four elements: setting the climate for thinking, teaching the skills of thinking, structuring the interaction with thinking, and thinking in a meta-cognitive or reflective way. However, the second edition of Brain-Compatible Classrooms grounded the framework in the emergent brain research as well as in the sound pedagog­ical theory present in Patterns. Now, in the third edition, the bridge between brain science and learning is elaborated and emphasized with a robust look at the principles of the brain and learning. In addition, separate chapters are included on brain science and cognitive science to further accentuate the linkages between what is known about the brain itself and what is known about how the brain learns. Thus, in this third edition the organization of the book has changed and the chapter headings have shifted.

Brain-Compatible Classrooms is organized into three parts: Physiology and Brain Science, Principles for Teaching and Learning, and Brain-Friendly Strategies. These three parts create a balance of understanding about how brain science informs educational practices. With some foundational knowledge about the physiol­ogy of the human brain, supported by neuro-cognitive principles of how the brain learns and cognitive translations of what those brain-friendly strategies look like in the K–12 classroom, teachers are armed with an astonishing arsenal of tools for reaching and teaching all children. After all, brain science is the rationale for differentiating learning.

A fine, useful update of Fogarty's long-time search for appropriate practical classroom applications of cognitive neuroscience research. – Robert Sylwester, Emeritus Professor of Education, University of Oregon
An excellent guide and tool for new and veteran teachers who are looking to empower students through brain-compatible lessons. – Heather Vaughn, Early Childhood Program Coordinator
Relevant and applicable for teachers. – Sue Teele, Associate Dean

Inspiring and insightful, the third edition of Brain-Compatible Classrooms offers a highly relevant, holistic model for applying brain research in the classroom. In recent years, much attention has been paid to the research findings on how the brain functions and how that understanding can be used to improve instruction and learning for all students; Fogarty helps educators understand and utilize the key discoveries in brain research and presents brain-friendly, practical strategies for differentiating learning.

Hopefully this synthesis will also serve as a catalyst to further research in the field.

History / Americas / Biographies & Memoirs / South

Tandem Lives: The Frontier Texas Diaries of Henrietta Baker Embree and Tennessee Keys Embree, 1856-1884 edited by Amy L. Wink (University of Tennessee Press)

The mythology of the frontier Texas woman portrays her as fiercely independent, strong willed, and adventurous. Tandem Lives, however, offers a far more complex and intimate version of women's cultural experiences in mid-nineteenth-century Texas by presenting the diaries of Henrietta Baker Embree and Tennessee Keys Embree.

Henrietta and Tennessee were the sequential wives of Dr. John W. Embree of Belton, Texas, a phy­sician, slaveholder, farmer, merchant, and man of mercurial temperament. Their diaries reveal the social and personal challenges women experienced in a region beset first by the Civil War and then by Reconstruction. Tandem Lives offers insights into the two women's struggles to survive as battered wives in a society that offered little support – and less chance of escape – for women bound by nineteenth-century ideas about gender roles. In the preface Amy L. Wink draws on extensive primary research to fill in the blanks of Henrietta's and Tennessee's lives and place them in historical context. The diaries themselves illuminate how these women coped with such issues as domestic violence, childrearing, faith, frailty, and mortality. Most significantly, they show how Henrietta and Tennessee – and, by extension, countless other women like them – used their writing to con­struct their sense of personal identity and to empower themselves in the face of debilitating external forces.

Wink, adjunct professor at Aus­tin Community College in Austin, says in the preface that she came to her prize in the archival boxes marked ‘Embree.’ From these, she pulled out the thick, bound typescript copies labeled "The Diary of Henrietta Bacon Embree" and "The Diaries of Tennessee Keys Embree,” which were so thick they had been bound in two volumes, she did not find the hoped for original manuscript diaries, but the carefully prepared typescripts yielded equally compelling material.

As she says in Tandem Lives, while she did not have the physical artifacts – no spidery nineteenth-century handwriting or faded pages – what Wink did have was the most impor­tant thing: their words. Those words had been preserved by family mem­bers who knew their writers and who had valued the diaries as they must have valued the women who wrote them. Though her words survive, Henrietta Bacon Embree was almost lost through a bibliographer's error. She was never, in fact, Henrietta Bacon, but Henrietta Baker, from Cumberland County, Kentucky, daughter of John and Mary Baker, who married John Wilhoit Embree, a recent graduate of the Louisville Medical College, in 1850 and emigrated to Texas in 1853. The newlywed Embrees followed John's elder brother Elisha, who had settled originally in Bastrop County, before moving to the newly formed Bell County in 1850. The Bakers, John and Mary, their children, and slaves, would follow their daugh­ter to Texas, settling in the northeast corner of the state, in Clarksville, Red River County, around 1858.

The story that unfolds in Henrietta's and Tennessee's words reveals the complicated and dangerous, as well as drab and inconsequential, aspects of their lives. Bell County was the edge of civilization in 1850, and the county seat of Belton, a tiny outpost on the Leon River and a stop on the post road between Clarksville and Salado. As the state grew, the dangers were many: the potential for Indian attacks, the outbreak of disease, and the effects of secession and the eventual collapse of the Confederacy, the results of Reconstruction, and the quickly changing economy of the late nineteenth century. Embedded as they were in that cultural moment, these two women also faced the daily worries of a more intimate nature as the repercussions of their physical and cultural surroundings played out on the much smaller stage of their domestic lives. Since John Embree was a practicing physician, both women faced long days and sometimes nights alone without his pres­ence. Concerned about his happiness, both watched him attempt a variety of moneymaking business schemes to grant him release from the physi­cally demanding and monetarily unrewarding practice of medicine. Both women's children faced frontier perils too, and two of Henrietta's did not survive infancy. While all of Tennessee's children did survive childhood, not all survived her. Henrietta herself wrote constantly of her addictions to tobacco and opiates, her struggles to break those habits, as well as her anxi­eties about her Christian faith and her approaching death. Tennessee faced her fear of parenthood by writing to her newly born daughter, Beulah, and graphically contemplated her difficult role as a second wife and stepmother to Henrietta's one surviving child, Nattie. Both women shared friends and acquaintances, and names are often repeated throughout both diaries. Their lives bear marked similarities, but by far the most important experi­ence these women shared was their life with the mercurial John W. Embree, whose role in their diaries is complicated, perplexing, and pervasive.

As told in Tandem Lives, piece by piece the written lives of Henrietta and Tennessee were filled in with details from the public record and the paper trail of Mrs. John W. Embree. The tax records of Bell County prove John's attempts to support his family through farming – one year they owned thousands of sheep, the next year, none. The tax rolls also reveal much of the family's prewar wealth was counted in human property; after emancipation, the Embrees esti­mated property value dropped by $10,000, $3500 of which was the value of their six slaves. While the Pendleton/Embree genealogy, in the Texas State Library's genealogical collection, records that John Embree never practiced medicine, newspaper ads and society articles discuss his practice, and both wives reveal the challenges faced by doctors' wives. When Tennessee writes of her new stone home, photographs neglected in the archives bear out her description of the limestone building. Similarly, photographs reveal, amid the bustling community of Belton, John's general mercantile stores of the 1870s and 1880s provided Tennessee and her children with material wealth, even as their home life proved their emotional poverty. The photographs and historical documents do not reveal the inner workings of the household. They do not reveal both Henrietta’s and Tennessee's attachment to Aggie, their one-time slave and eventual paid help, whose life bridged the relationship between the two women as well as the prewar and post-emancipation eras, or their relationship to the other slaves, Dick and Bony, and the black children their own children romped with, and may have also resembled. They do not show how either wife worked to make a stable and comfortable home for their children as well as themselves, nor the anxieties each confronted daily. Nor do they reveal the complex network of relation­ships each woman sustained during her life.

According to Tandem Lives, when Henrietta and John arrived in Texas, the state was less than ten years from its acceptance into the United States. The town so recently established continued to confront the dangers of frontier living as farmers tried to cope with the devastating drought that continued in Bell County until the late 1850s. As Tennessee began her diary, Texas faced defeat in the Civil War and Bell County soon entered the violent years of the Reconstruc­tion era. While Henrietta's Belton remained a somewhat small community, Tennessee observed the social and political changes as the town grew into an active center for commerce and trade. Both women observed and partici­pated in the growing push for educational opportunities for women, actively encouraging their daughters' education at the schools and colleges available to them, Henrietta's daughter Nattie attended Salado College, chartered in 1860, in Salado, Texas, while Tennessee's daughter Beulah attended Baylor College, established in 1846, in Independence, Texas.

While these external events are recorded and interpreted in both wom­en's diaries, they also focus extensively on their own sense of their daily experiences, creating meaning and understanding through their writing. It is in this action, this creation of meaning and understanding, that Wink in Tandem Lives finds of particular value. While readers see the literary and historical value based on narrative style or the historicity of a diary, these journals also reveal the value of literacy. Though neither woman saw herself as worthy of liter­ary attention, and Tennessee bemoaned her jealousy of Henrietta's writing skill, each woman was able to record her experiences and use her writing to manage and cope effectively with those experiences because she was literate. As both women wrote, they reveal the value of their own literacy. Without the ability to write and read, neither woman would have been able to voice the personal story of her own life. Indeed, in these diaries at least one woman, the slave Aggie, is denied access to the power of literacy, and we can read her story only through the words of others. Though she was integral to the lives of Henrietta and Tennessee, her story remains unfinished, untold.

Wink in Tandem Lives says she approached these diaries from several different reading perspectives, each of which becomes a palimpsest, working with or against the earlier text beneath her own. As a scholar of women's autobiography, she employed a variety of autobiographical theories to approach the words these women left behind. She read for ways in which they used writing to develop their sense of self and how they and other women used writing to empower themselves in the face of debilitating external forces – whether those were individuals who peopled their lives, or cultural and social changes that necessitated altering their approaches to the world in which they lived, or environmental shifts that took women away from the familiar homes in which they had defined themselves. What appears on those typescript pages is the story those women told themselves about their lives, that became the story their families told themselves about their mothers' lives, either by reading or editing their content, and it has now become the story Wink tells her audience about their lives, and her life with them.

An important contribution to the fields of history, women's studies, psychology, and literature, Tandem Lives reveals anew the rich insights offered by the autobiographical writings of ordinary women. The diaries provide a win­dow into the private lives of two nineteenth-century women confronting the dynamic changes in their personal lives, as well as the broader cultural changes of the country around them. Each diary also reveals the slow telling of an individual life, the dramatic narrative an individual creates of her daily experience and daily interpretation of that experience. Readers will find in the words of the women the thousand small stories of an individual life. They will also find their own connections to the words written over a century ago, so that the women whose diaries Wink discovered will remain found.

History / Military / Biographies & Memoirs / Vietnam

Loon: A Marine Story by Jack McLean (Presidio Press)

Loon is a memoir of a prep school boy who creates his own path to higher learning: enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps, fighting in Vietnam, and then studying at Harvard.

Full of action-packed battle scenes, Loon is the story of an infantry Marine and his comrades as they face the challenges of boot camp, stateside service and, ultimately, war.

Jack McLean takes readers from Andover’s privileged campus, to the infamous Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island, to the battle at Landing Zone Loon in the rugged hills along Vietnam’s Laotian border. During that period, Jack transformed from a sheltered boy into a Marine and ultimately into one of a handful of survivors of a horrific three-day assault during some of the heaviest fighting of the Vietnam War.

In the opening chapters of his coming-of-age memoir Loon, McLean writes, "In the early spring of 1966, Vietnam was still a country and not yet a war. I was eighteen and without a plan. But now I had an option." Today, readers are all so media-saturated and internet savvy that it's difficult to imagine stumbling into a war almost by accident, with little idea of the political and moral dilemmas involved. Yet that's exactly what happened to Jack.

The fact is, kids like Jack didn't go into the military. The unprecedented wealth and privilege experienced by the baby boomer generation had already started to alienate them from the idea of service that their parents had subscribed to, even before the horrors of the Vietnam War became fully known. A schoolmate of George W. Bush at the prestigious Phillips Academy, Jack grew up in an upper middle class New Jersey suburb. But when he failed to gain acceptance to college, he made a decision that shocked his family.

McLean writes, "Freedom is a choice that doesn't come without strings attached. My brother Don served in the Peace Corps after college. My cousin Mike was a freedom rider in Mississippi. It is important that we all serve in some capacity during our lifetimes. The military is but one of them."

From his first night at the Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island, McLean felt circumstances begin to outstrip his ability to deal with them. During the ensuing year, while serv­ing in stateside duty stations, he acutely observed the grow­ing changes between his new life and the lives of his former classmates, who were increasingly caught up in the campus antiwar movement. The Vietnam War had escalated from the moment of McLean's enlistment, and by the summer of 1967, any hope of remaining stateside diminished as every available marine was retrained in the infantry and sent to Vietnam.

As told in Loon, nothing could have prepared McLean for the horror of Landing Zone Loon: The battle took place over three days in June 1968 on a remote hill tucked into the bor­der of North Vietnam and Laos. On a long knoll with little relief from the pounding sun and no cover from the lurk­ing enemy, McLean and his company endured a relentless artillery and ground assault that would kill twenty-seven men, wound nearly one hundred others, and leave several dozen survivors to defend an ever-shrinking perimeter with little water or ammo. McLean returned home weeks later to a country that was ambivalent to his service. Having ap­plied to college from a foxhole the previous fall, he became the first Vietnam veteran to attend Harvard University.

A perceptive memoir of the Vietnam war that is unique for the author's background: McLean joined the Marine Corps after graduating from Phillips Academy, where George W. Bush was a schoolmate. . . Making excellent use of more than a hundred letters he wrote home from the war zone from November 1967 to July 1968, McLean reconstructs his time in the Marines with a sharp eye for detail and a very readable – at times almost poetic – prose. – Publishers Weekly

The battle at Loon erupts suddenly and sucks you in. Like Jack McLean, you ask: what am I doing here? The answer is: you joined the Marines and now it's time to fight for your life. A gripping story of violence and dedication to survival. – Bing West, author of The Strongest Tribe
Loon is a saga of an infantry Marine – the decision to enlist, the intensity of the recruit, mortal combat, and finally transition back to civilian life. This beautifully written story is a must read for all combat warriors, their families, and those interested in the turbulent times surrounding the Vietnam War. – Col H.C. ‘Barney’ Barnum, USMC (Ret), Medal of Honor Recipient
[This] unique tale . . . is skillfully written and will be among the classic books written about the Vietnam War. – Jan Scruggs, Esq., Founder and President, Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Written with honesty and thoughtful insight, the book is a powerful coming-of-age portrait of a privileged boy who bears witness, through an extraordinary perspective, to some of the most tumultuous events in US history, both in Viet­nam and back home. Richly textured and full of action-packed battle scenes, Loon is a beautifully written story of an infantry Marine and his comrades as they face the challenges of boot camp, stateside service and, ultimately, war. The book tells the story of courage, honor, and sacrifice – one that will resonate not only with those who have military experience, but also with anyone intrigued by this pivotal moment in American history.

History / Military / Biographies & Memoirs / Southeast Asia

An Loc: The Unfinished War by General Van Nhut Tran, with Christian L. Arevian (Modern Southeast Asia Series: Texas Tech University Press)

Just after my helicopter took off, communist antiaircraft guns located north of An Loc directed a ferocious barrage at us. Luckily, not one round hit our helicopter, but when we tried to land at Loc Ninh, the curtain of North Vietnamese antiaircraft fire was so thick my American pilot was unable to land there.

Looking down on Loc Ninh from above, my heart sank. Smoke curled skyward from the town. Heavy artillery barrages rained down on district military headquarters and the headquarters of 9th Regiment, 5th Division…. – from the book

Tran Van Nhut served in the Army of South Vietnam from the inception of the Republic of Vietnam in 1954 until the country's demise in 1975. In 1970 he was appointed province chief of Binh Long (Peaceful Dragon) Province and commander of its Regional Forces, Popular Forces, and People's Self Defense Forces. In that capacity, he became involved in the sixty-six-day Battle of An Loc, an important South Vietnamese victory. The recipient of more than sixty South Vietnamese medals as well as many U.S. decorations, Nhut ended his military career with the rank of brigadier general. He and his family are members of the expatriate Vietnamese community in Santa Ana, California. Christian L. Arevian, a native of Aleppo, Syria, who assisted General Tran in editing his re­flections, is author of A Conservative View of the Viet­nam Era.

In An Loc, Nhut provides insight into his life as one of the longest-serving soldiers and highest-ranking gen­eral officers in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Beginning with the more seminal experiences of his early family life, Nhut describes the Japanese occupation of Vietnam. Almost as powerful in his young life was the influence of Western culture, especially popu­lar depictions of Tarzan and Zorro, "heroic images of gallant warriors punishing the guilty and rescuing the innocent ... courageously sacrificing themselves to save the weak and defend justice…." Nhut recalls the emergence of communism in Vietnam and how the Viet Minh ha­rassed and threatened his father for collaborating with the French, compelling the family to seek safety in another village. Given such formative experiences, it is hardly surprising that Nhut would become one of South Vietnam's most patriotic nationalists and ardent anti-communists. Upon graduating from high school in 1953, Nhut entered Dalat Military Academy. After rigorous training under French colonial officers, Nhut graduated on July 1, 1954, and embarked on a twenty-one-year military career that ended only with the fall of Saigon in 1975.

As Nhut in An Loc entwines his personal history with that of his country and its relationship with the United States, he shares insights into his nation's people and political leaders and the influence – or lack thereof – of U.S. decisions and policies over two decades. An example is his critical examination of President Ngo Dinh Diem, whom he praises as a genuine nationalist who opposed both communist domination and French colonialism. Yet he criticizes Diem for excessive pride and for being "overly dependent on the gang of protégés and lack­eys who surrounded him." Nhut criticizes Diem further as authoritarian and manipulative, noting that any South Vietnamese political and military figures who wished to be successful had to become Catholic and join Diem's political party.

As described in An Loc, within his first year or so of military service, Nhut held positions with units in Tay Ninh, in Rung Sat, off the coast of the Mekong Delta, in Nha Trang, in the Paracel Islands, and near Saigon. He served also in the campaign that defeated the Binh Xuyen Army. Later he went to the United States to attend the U.S. Marine Basic Officer Course at Quantico, Virginia. There he became convinced that South Vietnam should follow the example of the United States and not the Soviet Union or People's Republic of China. General Nhut notes the Viet Cong's inexhaustible capacity for recruiting from the early 1960s into the American phase of the war when, "after every search and destroy mission, after every ‘body count’ of dead Vietcong, two new volunteers replaced each dead one." In contrast he observes that the Agroville and Strategic Hamlet Program "backfired and led to a decrease in support for the Diem regime" as well as to the attempted coup of 1960.

Tran Van Nhut is persuasive when he describes the political and economic hopes and aspirations of South Vietnam and the South Vietnamese people. But in his story we also see hints of some of South Vietnam’s many challenges in establishing and accepting a democratic form of government. Many South Vietnamese wanted desperately to live in a democratic republic with a free-market economy. At the same time, various individuals, including some senior military leaders, faced personal challenges in accepting civilian control over the military and a military command subservient to civilian leadership. . . . Tran Van Nhut’s story helps us to better understand what did actually happen and why. – Stephen F. Maxner, series editor

As General Tran emphasizes, the struggles of the people are not over: their fight to fulfill their aspirations is the ‘unfinished war.’ The next generation's battle should be against poverty, ignorance, injustice, and corruption. Only then will the Vietnamese build a free, democratic, and prosperous life. – Capt. Bill Carruthers, An Loc veteran

Here, firsthand, are the frank thoughts and deeds of Saigon's leading military officer as abetted by a skilled historian of the Vietnam War and its origins and aftermath. – Philip C. Clarke, former AP correspondent and Newsweek editor

Readers will find in An Loc a remarkable story that is forthright and convincing, including Nhut’s critical examination of President Ngo Dinh Diem. There are subtleties which are intriguing, for example, his chapter on the coup against Diem provides a stirring retelling of his participation in the events that led to the removal and assignation of Diem and his brother. Although Nhut's interpretations of the war may not posit anything particularly new, his story helps readers understand what did actually happen and why.

History / World / Holocaust / Jews / Biographies & Memoirs

Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival by Clara Kramer, with Stephen Glantz (Ecco)

"I felt there were only two kinds of people in the world.... Those who wanted to save us, and those who wanted to kill us," writes Clara Kramer in Clara's War, the remarkable story of her family's survival in a cramped underground bunker after the Nazi invasion of her small Polish town in 1942.

Clara's War is the story of a young girl hiding from the Nazis, based on Kramer's diary of her years surviving in an underground bunker with seventeen other people.

Clara Kramer was a typical Polish-Jewish teenager from a small town at the outbreak of the Second World War. When the Germans invaded, Clara's family was taken in by the Becks, a Volksdeutsche (ethnically German) family from their town. Mrs. Beck worked as Clara's family's housekeeper. Mr. Beck was known to be an alcoholic, a womanizer, and a vocal anti-Semite. But on hearing that Jewish families were being led into the woods and shot, Beck sheltered the Kramers and two other Jewish families.

Eighteen people in all lived in a bunker dug out of the Becks' basement. Fifteen-year-old Clara kept a diary during the twenty terrifying months she spent in hiding, writing down details of their unpredictable life – from the house's catching fire to Mr. Beck's affair with Clara's neighbor.

Clara Kramer (nee Schwarz) and her family were among the approximately five thousand Jews in Zolkiew, Poland, before World War II. At the end of the war, she and her parents numbered among the approximately sixty who survived.

In Clara's War Clara Kramer recreates how she and her family survived. A typical Polish Jewish teenager from a small town, Clara was only 15 when she was forced into hiding. While the previous Russian occupancy was grim, no one could have prepared them for the Nazi invasion. As the weeks and months went on, their strength and courage of those in the bunker, and their protectors upstairs, would be tested over and over again.

It was Clara's mother who instructed her daughter to keep a diary so that future generations would know their story. It is the poignant details from this diary that infuse Clara's story with humanity and give a texture to the travails of the daily lives of these two families that lived one atop another. In a sort of ‘upstairs/downstairs’ manner, Clara evokes the parallel, yet separate, worlds of the families: dark, dank silent downstairs, loud lively ‘normal’ upstairs. Separated only by the thin floor boards, those in the bunker could hear everything taking place over their heads – even the flick of a light-switch. Upstairs the Becks and their guests – often German officers – could hear not a sound. However, for one night, on Christmas Eve, upstairs and downstairs come together when the Becks invite Clara's family to dinner and feast on carp that Beck had stolen from the Germans.

Kramer, a vigorous 81-years-old, continues to bring her mother's request for Holocaust education full-circle. As president and cofounder of the Holocaust Resource Foundation at Kean University, Kramer has made teaching the Holocaust her life's work, traveling throughout the country. Her diary is now in the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. Clara Kramer has been true to her vow of sixty years ago to "lead a life worthy of having been saved."

Polish-born Kramer… was a teenager when her family and others hid from the Nazis in a secret bunker, rescued by a former housekeeper and her husband, a reputed drunken anti-Semite who turned out to be an avenging angel. Kramer's extensive recollections range from a liaison that threatened the household and daily squabbles in the tomblike underground quarters where food was scarce to their fear of discovery by the Nazis and the shock and desperation of learning about relatives and friends who had been killed. Her sister was sold out by a neighbor boy for a few liters of vodka. This vividly detailed and taut narrative is a fitting tribute to the bravery of victims and righteous gentiles alike. – Publishers Weekly
For 18 months, a young teen hid with 17 other Polish Jews in a bunker dug under the home of their avowed anti-Semitic neighbor, Beck, while the Nazis occupied their town of Zolkiew. The unrelenting hardships of daily life are spellbinding. With German soldiers moving in upstairs, “a snore, a sneeze, a cough could mean the end of us.” How to keep children quiet and not smother a four-year-old when she cries; how to use the toilet bucket; how to empty it. When it is safe, the ethnic German Becks lift the trapdoor and bring the Jews food. …The blend of the young girl’s experience with the insight of the survivor looking back is riveting, especially because there is no idealization – neither of the Jews nor of their rescuers. World War II is raging outside; mass deportations are ongoing; bombings are terrifying. But in the house, there is war upstairs with the husband (“our saint”) betraying his wife, Julia, who is plain, arthritic, and the strongest of all. And, in the bunker, the families fight for food, air, and space; some resent taking in children; the wealthy do not share. When the Russians come at last, of the 5,000 Jews in Zolkiew, there are 50 left. And they must save their rescuers. Both a gripping thriller and a heartbreaking drama of human kindness, this is sure to become a classic of Holocaust history. – Booklist, starred review
Utterly compelling. At times, the tension is as high as in any thriller designed to stop your heart. – John Clare, The Sun-Herald (Australia)
Superlative memoir of survival. . . . Few wartime memoirs convey with such harrowing immediacy the evil of the Nazi genocide. . . . Her book is a model documentary. – Daily Telegraph (London)

Clara's War recreates in frightening, vivid detail the heart-stopping story of a young girl hiding from the Nazis. The book offers a harrowing, yet inspirational account of one of the greatest atrocities of the twentieth century and the resources of individuals in extraordinary circumstances to find a way to survive.

Home & Garden / Antiques & Collectibles

African-Americana by Barbara E. Mauzy (Schiffer Publishing Ltd)

African-Americana is an in-depth presentation of African-Americana, illustrated with over 500 color photos. The photo essay and extensively researched historical perspective includes a broad sampling of black memorabilia, encompassing everything from ‘Little Black Sambo’ and ‘Aunt Jemima’ to photography, figurines, and dolls. Social, economic, and historical influences are examined while supplying the identification and value information that collectors of African-Americana seek. The book also explores the roots and consequences of Anglo-America's attitudes toward African-Americans.

The prolific author, Barbara Mauzy, and husband Jim are retirees from storefront selling, dealers, long-time collectors, and enthusiasts in Depression Glass, Fire-King, Bakelite, and anything related to kitchens from the 1920s -1950s.

As Mauzy says in the introduction to African-Americana, a book on collectibles may not necessarily be the best vehicle in which to examine the relationship of African-Americans and Anglo-Saxon America through the centuries, but a book showcas­ing African-Americana compels Mauzy to examine the connection of African-Americans and white America as the items within the pages of the book are born from Anglo-Saxon America's precon­ceived ideas and prejudices.

The Negro in America, written in 1966, is a nonfiction book that was placed in elementary school libraries across our country and provided an affirmative light on the contributions of African-Americans. Scientists, writers, businessmen, athletes, and more were presented in the positive light they deserved. As a result of new legislation passed by Congress in 1964, Anglo-Saxon Americans were mandated to eliminate the division between races and the blatant discrimination against African-Americans: separate schools, separate restaurants, even separate restrooms and water fountains, and separate had not meant equal.

Most of the items pictured in African-Americana predate this era. It behooves readers to acknowledge an important statement from The Negro in America: "Negroes are the only people in the United States whose ancestors did not come to America of their own free will." Africans were stolen from their homes, brought across the ocean in the worst of conditions, and pressed into slave labor. Slave owners raped female slaves as the children that resulted were worth hundreds of dollars when sold. African-Americans were viewed with disdain and seen as creatures lower than any other form of life on this planet. They were a commodity that was bought, sold, and inherited; rare were the occasions when slaves were considered human.

In white society an understanding or appreciation of African-American culture, heritage, and traditions simply did not exist. From the moment the first Africans were captured, taken across the Atlantic Ocean, and deposited on Virginian soil in 1619, the relationship between the races was established as a hierarchy that many African-Americans still fight to overcome almost 400 years later.

The derision felt for African-Amer­icans became reflected in an Anglo-Saxon American culture that embraced stereotypes. African-Americans were considered to be lazy and low-functioning creatures that were easily pleased by sim­ply eating chicken and watermelon. Full lips, tightly curling hair, and other physical characteristics were mocked and exag­gerated. A litany of degrading names and terms used to identify African-Americans were added to English vernacular. The legacy of this appalling history leaves us with a huge variety of concrete reminders of a reprehensible past. The oldest collectibles include items from the slave trade: chains, whips, and other shameful tools of the business. Objects such as these do show up in auctions on rare occasion and they are certainly pieces to be preserved lest we forget the misery brought upon innocent people.

As told in African-Americana, much of what is collected today stems from more recent days and does not directly involve the slavery issue. In the early 1800s, display advertising in printed media arrived. African-American images were frequently utilized in advertising during the nineteenth century. Faces with overstated characteristics were commonly featured in print advertisements as well as trade cards. Although known to have been used in the 1700s, trade cards were most heavily utilized in the mid- to late-1800s when the use of color in printing became practical and affordable. African-Americans were shown endorsing everything from oysters to peanut butter. Trade cards were col­lected and often preserved in scrapbooks, so today they remain relatively easy to acquire. With the turn of the twentieth century African-American images were placed on sheet music and lithography. Tin containers of lard, oil, and other products were often decorated with images of African-Americans. Some depictions were flattering, others were not.

In regard to African-Americana and advertising, the most notable early twen­tieth century periodical is Needlepoint Magazine which regularly featured full-page Cream of Wheat advertisements in the 1920s. An African-American chef, ‘Rastus,’ was integrated into most of the artwork, but sometimes black cupids or black children were pictured. Rastus was usually serving Cream of Wheat to white folk, relegated to a subservient position but always smiling as this was all he needed to do to be content. The advertisements were usually realistic artistic renditions as opposed to degrading caricatures, an unusual circumstance for this time and for advertising with African-American images in general.

Toys and games of the early 1900s often integrated African-American images. Again, the vast majority of these pieces were negative portrayals with names like ‘Alabama Coon Jigger’ and artwork that emphasized stereotypes.

The use of African-American images, mostly insulting and debasing in nature, continued until the commencement of World War II. Our coun­try's participation in this war affected all forms of manufacturing as, dur­ing the Second World War, American society became wholly focused on a victorious end to the war. Factories were retooled and manufac­turing was principally directed toward a suc­cessful conclusion of the war with the production of arms, ammunition, airplanes, tanks, and so on.

Most of the kitchen collectibles pre­sented in African-Americana are post-WWII with the resumption of non-military manufac­turing in America, Europe, and Japan. European manufacturing was largely bolstered by the Marshall Plan. This economic strategy was designed to create economic recovery in Europe motivated by the philosophy that strong economies led to strong, stable governments. During the American occupation Ja­pan benefited from American aid receiv­ing $1.8 billion in support. Post WWII aid brought Japanese manufacturing back to life, to a point. Without assembly-line factories more work had to be completed by hand. This brings us to much of what is presented in African-Americana; there is a plethora of ceramic and china items made in Japan that are painted by hand. These items were ‘cold painted,’ the paint was ap­plied by hand but not fired-on to bake the coloration/glaze onto the surface which would have produced a more permanent finish. The ‘cold painted’ description is frequently used in the picture captions within this book.

Domestically, plastic became the ‘modern’ material as Americans moved into the 1950s, and many items that had once been produced in metal or ceramic materials in America were now being manufactured in plastic. An interesting assortment of African-Americana in this material is pictured. By the 1960s the civil rights movement was in full swing and the initial twinges of being politically correct had been felt. A willingness to begin to accept, at least on some levels, African-Americans as equals to Anglo-Saxon Americans had started and what was manufactured during this era reflected newly-emerging social values. African-American images that promoted stereotypes disappeared as children of different races were pictured in the same circumstances engaged in the same activities. The use of deroga­tory names in print vanished and so did the production of what is currently seen as collectible.

It is interesting to note that currently reproduction African-Americana is prolific and ongoing. There are so many versions of the well-known McCoy Mammy cookie jar (the original is pictured in African-Americana) that is it virtually impossible to create a comprehensive listing. What's new is old, what's old is new. Some things never change, but hopefully the ugliness behind the collectability of African-Americana has disappeared forever.

As with all vintage memorabilia there are a finite number of pieces. Glassware breaks, paper may deteriorate, but African-Americana has faced a unique dilemma. According to African-American student and dealer of Black Americana Gerald Diggs, one of the primary reasons many of the once-abundant items are now scarce, and therefore largely un­known to most Americans, is that many of them were bought by wealthy African-Americans in the 1970s and promptly destroyed. Diggs, who is black, sees this as a tragedy for many rea­sons. “In my opin­ion these things were important to both whites and blacks because they force us to be honest with ourselves and our feelings to each other,” said Diggs. “The ugliness of hate is only tru­ly broached and dealt with when you bring yourself face to face with it. The destruction of these derogatory pieces serves to turn a social monster that could be faced honestly into a sil­houette that hovers over us all, ever more powerful without challenge.” Therefore, there is a diminishing amount of vintage African-Americana, a situation unique to this one area of collecting.

The eighteenth book written by Mauzy, an established authority on American antiques, African-Americana is among her most important works to date. Gorgeous in its generous illustrations, extensively researched, comprehensive, it will satisfy collectors with good information and a price guide. Her exposition of the social evolution of the U.S. and the origins of African-Americana from the 16th century to the ‘60s, reproduced here in abbreviated form, is lucid and enlightening. It will also satisfy historians with a visual and verbal history of race perceptions and stereotypes.

Home & Garden / Animals & Pets / Biographies & Memoirs

The Soul of a Horse: Life Lessons from the Herd (Thorndike Large Print Health, Home and Learning) [LARGE PRINT] by Joe Camp (Thorndike Press, Gale Cengage Learning)

A surprise birthday gift plunged Joe Camp and his wife, Kathleen, into the world of horses as complete neophytes without a clue as to what horses needed or wanted. The Camps went searching for logic and sense in the rule books of traditional horse care and what they found was not what they had expected. Written for everyone who has ever loved a horse or even loved the idea of having a horse in their lives, The Soul of a Horse leads readers on a voyage of discovery as Camp and Kathleen navigate uncharted, often politically incorrect territory on their way to achieving a true relationship with their horses.
As the creator of the beloved Benji series, Camp has spent most of his life luring readers into the heart and soul of a famous dog, but now in The Soul of a Horse, he lures readers into the heart and soul of a horse. In doing so, he exposes truths and unlocks the mystery of a majestic creature who has survived on Earth, without assistance, for fifty-five million years. In a single emotionally charged moment, Camp communes with his first horse, Cash, in a way that changes him and his relationship with horses forever. In his own words, as he stood alone with his back to this horse: “The collar of my jacket was tickling the hairs on the back of my neck. And my heart was pounding. Then a puff of warm, moist air brushed my ear. My heart skipped a beat. He was really close. Then I felt his nose on my shoulder … I couldn’t believe it. Tears came out of nowhere and streamed down my cheeks. I had spoken to him in his own language, and he had listened … and he had chosen to be with me. He had said, I trust you.”
Alternating between the stories of two people thrust into an unfamiliar, enigmatic realm and a fabled herd of wild horses brought to the New World centuries ago, Camp in The Soul of a Horse teaches readers that the lessons he was learning apply not only to his horses but to life and to people as well – to everyone.

Joe Camp is a gifted storyteller and when he turns his talents to his newest passion, the horse, the results are magical. Few veteran horsemen can impart the insights about horses that Joe Camp, a relative newcomer, has done in his book The Soul of a Horse. Joe entertains, educates and empowers, baring his own soul while articulating keystone principles of a modern revolution in horsemanship. – Rick Lamb, TV/Radio host "The Horse Show,” author of Human to Horseman
Joe Camp’s The Soul of a Horse presents the history and majesty of equines in a way that truly touches the heart, weaving an engaging tapestry of writings that explore the evolutionary development of horses along with Camp’s present day relationship with the horses that have chosen him as their leader. A treasure map leading to untold riches. – The World Magazine
Joe Camp … writes about horses with empathy, curiosity, and a deep regard for equine instincts and behavior. He began to question why horsemen used traditional methods of horse care, and pursued a more natural path to training and horsemanship. He turned his horses out, applied natural hoof care principles, and relished the new insights herd behavior gave him – into not only horses, but into himself, too. It’s a book that encourages the reader, gently, to step into the herd and learn. – Horse and Rider
Hundreds of other books about horses, training, and equine management have been published, but Camp's easy-to-read prose, humor, and enlightening tales bring readers to question what truly is best for the horse. – Library Journal
Joe Camp is a natural when it comes to understanding how animals tick and a genius at telling us their story. The Soul of a Horse is a must read for those who love animals of any species. – Monty Roberts, author of New York Times best-seller The Man Who Listens to Horses
Joe Camp's The Soul of a Horse presents the history and majesty of equines in a way that truly touches the heart. Camp accomplishes this by weaving an engaging tapestry of writings that explore the evolutionary development of horses along with Camp's present day relationship with the horses that have chosen him as their leader. A treasure map leading to untold riches. – Candace Runaas, PET Home Magazine
I was so excited to read this awesome book (or a draft of it) that I could not stop until I was finished. … I am already compiling a list of people I want to pre-order it for as a gift. Joe is a great storyteller. He has managed to pull together all of the aspects that make up this new paradigm of horse care called ‘natural horsemanship’, and has done so in a manner that is somehow both gentle and forgiving to the reader as well as absolutely unquestionable. He makes it simple and so obviously the best way to keep and relate to horses. There will be so many horses (and people) that will benefit tremendously from this book! What a blessing Joe Camp is. – Terry Jenkins, retired Zoo Sanctuary manager and animal advocate
The book was fantastic!! I am so impressed. The writing gets straight to the heart of the problem with horse care today: it's not about the horse anymore!! – Ellen Siedlecki, equine veterinarian

Engaging, emotional, and often humorous, The Soul of a Horse deftly lures readers into the imagined inner world of horses. Ingeniously alternating between the stories of present-day people and a fabled herd of wild horses brought to the New World centuries ago, Camp’s valuable and inspiring book teaches readers that the lessons he was learning apply not only to his horses but to people as well.

Home & Garden / Crafts & Hobbies

Black & White and Pieced All Over: Stress-free Foundation Quilts by Kay M. Capps Cross (Krause Publications)

Paper piecing gives me hives. … I abhor ripping out those pieces of paper, shortening my stitch length and having stress while stitching. However, the sharp angles and crisp lines that are possible with paper piecing are intriguing. My design sensibility is angular and asymmetrical, and those qualities are certainly possible to achieve with paper piecing. But is it the only way? Of course not! No-stress foundation piecing is simple and fun and yields terrific results. Any paper piecing pattern out there can be done with this method. – from the book

If readers love the crisp, precise results of piecing using paper as a foundation but stress over all the ripping and stitching, this book is for them. Black & White and Pieced All Over by Kay M. Capps Cross, a popular workshop instructor and pattern creator, shows readers how to use foundation piecing to stitch perfect quilts. Even if they have never tried this technique, they can pick it up right away following full-color photos and numbered steps.

Black & White and Pieced All Over provides readers what they need to create an array of gorgeous quilts, including:

  • 16 step-by-step quilting projects ranging from ‘easiest’ to ‘not hard’.
  • Clear patterns that take the guesswork out of color combinations and matching fabrics.
  • A full-color “Getting Started” section that covers everything from choosing materials and tracing designs to stitching and finishing blocks.
  • A CD containing printable templates for every project.

A special ‘Opportunities’ section at the end of the book shows readers how to take an ‘oops’ – like when they might have cut a strip too narrow – and transform it into a creative success.

Black & White and Pieced All Over is an easy approach to quilting that shows readers how to use stay-in foundation fabric. Using a variety of designs, they first dip their toes in the quilting waters and then sharpen their skills with each successive quilt. With conventional paper piecing, all paper is removed after the stitching is done. That requires quilters to shorten their stitch length to perforate the paper more, and more stitches equals more time sewing. But using a foundation that gets left in the quilt allows them to maintain a normal stitch length. There is no pulling and tugging at the stitches for foundation removal, so quilters can also skip backstitching at the beginning and end of each line. And they don’t have to spend time picking out tiny pieces of paper from a block that already took extra time to sew.

Black & White and Pieced All Over opens up incredible design and quilting opportunities that readers shouldn't miss. The black-and-white designs (with a splash of color) used to demonstrate this breakthrough technique are unique and quite attractive.

Law / Constitutional / History / Americas

Free, Sovereign, and Independent States: The Intended Meaning of the American Constitution by John Remington Graham, with a foreword by Laura C. Tesh (Pelican Publishing)

The Founders looked to Blackstone as the foremost authority on English common law. In this book, John Remington Graham, America's Blackstone, has come into his own. His long years of study and learned honesty make the original Constitution accessible. – Laura C. Tesh of the South Carolina Bar, from the foreword

A restatement and rediscovery of the intended meaning of the United States Constitution, Free, Sovereign, and Independent States closely examines the document as originally framed in 1787 and amended in 1789, 1791, and 1804. Tracing each provision of the Constitution and its first twelve amendments to its basic roots, John Remington Graham presents a focused yet comprehensive reading of the document, exposing its true legal meaning in a manner never done before. Based on centuries of human experience and legal tradition, the intended meaning of the Constitution has a substantive content that must endure, Graham argues, despite fluctuating judicial interpretations. For good reason, the Framers of the Constitution wanted to assure that judges would resolve disputes upon established principles of law and not legislate from the bench; that responsibility for maintaining the Constitution would be shared as well by the executive and legislative branches of government; and that legal equilibrium across the country would be achieved by prudent distribution of power between the Union and the States.

Free, Sovereign, and Independent States explains the historical origins and purposes of every provision framed in the Philadelphia Convention and the first twelve amendments framed in early sessions of Congress. Drawing upon the constitutional law and history of England, events of the American Revolution, the debates of the Framers, discussion in The Federalist, and other materials, Graham presents the Constitution as it was known to George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, venerable for its antiquity, remarkable for its beauty, astonishing for its wisdom, edifying for its utility, and invaluable as a key to the future.

Since the Philadelphia Convention and the First Congress, there has been an extended debate over what the Framers intended by various provisions of the United States Constitution. An argument popularized by Leonard Levy says that, since the Framers reached no political consensus among themselves, the intended meaning of the Constitution is an illusion. Graham, experienced trial lawyer and former professor of law, founding professor of Hamline University School of Law, rejects this contention. Despite their political differences, he says, the Framers understood that there was to be a true legal meaning of the Constitution that can be rediscovered in any age by using certain rules of the common law for ascertaining the will of the lawgiver. They knew that this intended meaning was flexible enough to accommodate changing circumstances from one generation to the next yet would impose a brake on excessive innovation. Free, Sovereign, and Independent States systematically and comprehensively examines the historical roots and purposes of each and every clause in the United States Constitution as framed, implemented, and amended. As such, according to Graham, the document is a practical blueprint for reforming the future of North America, Europe, and other parts of the world. Constitution writing is a lost art that can be relearned and improved by studying the craftsmanship of the Framers, as Free, Sovereign, and Independent States does like no other.

A unique feature of this work is the author's insightful appreciation of the Founding Fathers of the United States, including Alexander Hamilton, James Wilson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Mason, and Luther Martin. Graham gives special attention not only to the incomparable standing and example of George Washington, who was foremost among them all, but also to reigning princes in Europe: Louis XVI, who rescued the American Revolution from collapse, and George III who, though greatly misunderstood, earnestly tried to reconcile with his American subjects before hostilities broke out and later conceded American independence with paternal kindness.

This work is an epic produced by amazing intellectual energy. It will be of unique present interest and a wonderful gift to posterity. – Hon. John P. Flaherty, associate justice (1979-1996), chief justice (1996-2001), Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

Expansive, meticulous, and stimulating, Free, Sovereign, and Independent States presents the immutable and timeless features of the Constitution as it was originally intended and given to posterity, a consummate work, a treasure of American scholarship, timeless as the document it deftly illuminates. It is not another text about what judges have said; rather, it describes a monument to Western civilization.

Literature & Fiction / Historical Fiction

The Little Book: A Novel (Paperback) by Selden Edwards (Plume)

The Little Book: A Novel (Hardcover) by Selden Edwards (Dutton Adult)

Every so often a work of astoundingly original fiction pushes through the crowded publishing landscape and emerges as an intellectual and humorous example of the boundless imagination of fiction. Even the most cynical of readers cannot doubt Selden Edwards' narrative abilities in The Little Book, which takes readers through various decades in California, Boston, London, and Vienna with the kind of authority and dedication that can only be achieved by devoting thirty years to getting one book exactly right. A graduate of Princeton and Stanford universities, Edwards is a former English teacher and headmaster.

In The Little Book, readers are introduced to famous rock star, Wheeler Burden, one of the most memorable characters in recent fiction. A former Harvard baseball star, banking heir, philosopher, student of history, writer, lover, recluse, half-Jew, and Victor Hugo enthusiast, Wheeler has an insatiable and natural fluency for languages. Wheeler one day finds himself wandering not in his hometown of San Francisco in 1988 but in a city and time he knows mysteriously well: Vienna, 1897. He has arrived at a pivotal moment in history, philosophy, art, and culture. It is a time when the coming twentieth century looms before the world with great promise and peril, and when Vienna is enjoying its magnificent swan song as the epicenter of modern thought and the seat of European intellectual and political life. But what is most important to Wheeler from the earliest moments of his arrival are finding an appropriate set of clothes and discovering the identity of the luminous young woman he encounters early in his stay. These simple actions set in motion a series of events that ultimately reveal the truth at the heart of Wheeler's adventure.

In Vienna, Wheeler acquires a mentor in Sigmund Freud, an arch rival, and encounters everyone from an eight-year-old Adolf Hitler to Mark Twain as well as the young members of his own family. But the truth at the center of his dislocation in time remains a stubborn mystery that will take months of exploration and a lifetime of memories to unravel and will, in the end, reveal nothing short of his eccentric family's unrivaled affect upon the very course of the coming century.

The subtitle of Edwards's Twain-indebted debut, written over the course of 30 years, might be "A California Yankee in Doctor Freud's Court." Following a physical assault, Stan "Wheeler" Burden is precipitated into the past – 1897 Vienna, to be exact – from 1988 San Francisco. …Vienna of 1897 is indeed hopping: Freud is discovering the Oedipus complex, Mahler is conducting his symphonies, and the mayor, Karl Lueger, is inventing modern, populist anti-Semitism – which the young Hitler will soon internalize. Making this a true oedipal drama, Wheeler's father and grandparents come to town, too, all at different ages, and with very different agendas. Edwards has great fun with time travel paradoxes and anachronisms, but the real romance in this book is with the period, topped by nostalgia for the old-school American elite, as represented by the we-all-went-to-the-same-prep-school Burdens. This novel ends up a sweet, wistful elegy to the fantastic promise and failed hopes of the 20th century. – Publishers Weekly
… Readers also get a great saga about Boston Brahmins, wealthy yet with a morass of tacky little secrets. The author adds to this tasty little ragout cameo appearances by Freud, Mahler, Schoenberg, Wickstein, Mark Twain, Buddy Holly, and Winston Churchill. A leisurely tale, the plot unfolds slowly through a complex structure of multiple viewpoints and narrators. It’s very talky, but the dialogue usually drives the plot forward and is often leavened by touches of ironic humor. Readers may find the overabundance of coincidences maddening, but that won’t keep them from reading on to the shocking climax and the thoroughly satisfying and elegant resolution. Myriad readers will enjoy this book – especially historical-fiction buffs and family-saga devotees – so stock up. – Ellen Loughran, Booklist
A soaring thing of joy whose only purpose – and I mean this as a compliment – is to delight and entertain. – Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air
Delightfully mad… a thrilling adventure. – San Francisco Chronicle
The product of a writer in full command of his gifts. – Louisville Courier-Journal
A wide-ranging novel of grand ideas… a graceful waltz of a book, spinning at times at dizzying speed, but leaving behind a haunting, unforgettable melody. – New Orleans Times-Picayune
Back to the Future for the intellectual set. – Entertainment Weekly
Inventive, bracing, poignant and well written… it should be at the top of everyone’s summer reading list. – Tucson Citizen
It’s hard not to be thoroughly taken with such an approach to both the real and imagined past. – New York Daily News
Required reading. – New York Post

If readers are looking for a novel that is refreshingly unlike any other on their current pile, The Little Book is an obvious choice. Irresistible from its wonderfully quirky first page, Edwards' time-and-convention-bending debut novel is a rare blend of cerebral and accessible, surreal and rational and an irresistible triumph of the imagination. A work of unequaled storytelling, The Little Book is a love story that spans generations and a moving triumph that announces Edwards as one of the most inventive and accomplished novelists writing today.

Literature & Fiction / History & Criticism / Europe / Cultural History

Heroic Mode and Political Crisis, 1660-1745 by Elaine McGirr (University of Delaware Press)

Heroic Mode and Political Crisis, 1660-1745 explores a cultural language, the heroic, which remained consistently powerful through the social, political, and dynastic turbulence of the long eighteenth century. The heroic provided an accessible and vivid shorthand for the ongoing ideological debates over the nature of authority and power, the construction of an ideal masculinity, and the shape of a new, British – rather than English – national identity. An analysis of this cultural language and its different valences over time not only unpacks the overlap between aesthetic and political debate in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, but also firmly grounds the eighteenth-century's revolution in taste and manners in the ongoing ideological debates about dynastic politics and the foundations of authority. Specifically, Heroic Mode and Political Crisis, 1660-1745 traces the making and breaking of the Stuart mythology through the development of and attacks on the heroic mode from the Restoration through the aftermath of the 1745 Jacobite uprising.

Literary and theatrical scholarship of the last two hundred years has repeatedly asserted that the heroic was an incon­sequential dramatic fad that had run its course by the late 1660s; yet Henry Field­ing thought the form still so dangerous in the mid-eighteenth century that he spent his career trying to unmask, deflate, and destroy it.

In Heroic Mode and Political Crisis, 1660-1745 McGirr, senior lecturer in the departments of Drama and English at Royal Holloway, University of London, discovers that not only was the heroic and its mirror image – anti-heroic burlesque or parody – central to British literature, theater, aesthetics, and politics for the entire period, but also that sus­tained critique of the heroic was the foundation for much that has been deemed novel in the eighteenth century, from Fielding's irregular dramas to the con­struction of a new domestic and polite hero.

Recent theater criticism has convinc­ingly argued that the heroic was designed in the 1660s as a new national mythology that would perform the Stuart Restoration and its providential resolution of civil war; it would represent a new national unity and erase the memory of civil discord. This grand design, when coupled with the heroic's uncomfortable associations with Catholicism and continental absolutism, created an almost immediate backlash: a concerted ideological and aesthetic cri­tique of the heroic, spearheaded by the Court's ideological enemies and carried on by Whig culture makers. These critics countered the heroic's baroque idealism with both burlesque ad absurdum and a ‘rational sublime,’ or aesthetics of common sense proffered instead of the affective sublime of the heroic. With a very few, but very central, failures, this Whig cultural paradigm first discredited and then replaced the heroic. By 1745, the heroic's affective power and ideological weight had been completely inverted; it was served up as comedy to ridicule the very idea of a second Stuart restoration. By the mid-eighteenth century, there was no longer any need for the heroic in the cultural marketplace. The heroic's affec­tive excesses were contained by the passively sentimental, and its superhuman proportions had been cut down to size by the novel's epic of the everyday.

Heroic Mode and Political Crisis, 1660-1745 is not a study of the heroic's decline and fall, but rather an analysis of how a particular cultural language – the heroic – functioned as partisan propaganda in the century following the Civil War. The continued presence but changing connotations of the heroic throughout this period provides readers with a barometer of cultural and ideological change. At the same time, the ironic appro­priation of the heroic by its detractors (what McGirr dubs the antiheroic), as well as the heroic's continued appeal to others, demonstrates that it is a language of partisan identity that remains constant throughout this period. The heroic provides a key to the period's political and cultural debates: arguments about style are bound up in arguments about ideology. In this ‘first age of party,’ the heroic proved to be the most effective shorthand for an immensely compli­cated argument that absorbed into its terms everything from dress to national identity. The heroic's ubiquity makes it an ideal focus for a study of the century following Restoration.

In recent years, historians and cultural critics have both turned their attention to early modern propaganda and cultural identity. What these studies lack is a thorough examination of the cultural language that passed through and connected the coffee to the opera houses, the state and the stage. Heroic Mode and Political Crisis, 1660-1745 accounts for the ways in which the heroic provided a ready idiom and series of tropes for Restoration and eighteenth-century polemic while demonstrating the continuity between the cultural and partisan wars in the early modern period. The interplay between an aesthetic or cultural style and partisan identity has been unduly neglected in the scholarship heretofore.

The crises under examination in Heroic Mode and Political Crisis, 1660-1745 should be understood as a series of propaganda offensives rather than discrete historical facts. Whigs and Tories or Whigs and Jacobites attempted to influ­ence public opinion in favor of immediate policies, for instance, the Revolution Settlement, and to normalize their ideology. McGirr is interested in how contemporary polemicists interpreted events than how they played out. She focuses on the episodes and ephemera that caused the most stir at the time – like the failed Jacobite rebel­lions – even if they had little historical impact. She examines the moments of political and cultural crisis – the Restoration, the Exclusion Crisis, the Glorious Revolution, the Hanoverian Succession, and the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. By focusing each chapter on a specific crisis, she dem­onstrates how broad categories (including the heroic) and labels were used by partisan propaganda, illustrating the ways in which old definitions and connotations remained, altered, or were in­verted. This approach should also preclude the difficulties inherent in using contemporary terms rather than historical assignments. Because her study is focused on the rheto­ric and reactions of partisan agents, she feels the benefit gained from adhering to the contemporary definitions, changeable as they are, far outweighs any potential confusion. Throughout the discussion, she tries to make a distinction between actual contemporary definitions of terms like ‘Whig’ or ‘Jacobite’ and the straw men constructed and pilloried in their names. She thus discovers ideological continuity that runs from the early Resto­ration ‘Country’ Party through the Exclusionist Whigs to the eigh­teenth-century Whig establishment. A similar progression can be traced from the Court party adhering around the duke of York to the Tory party and Jacobites. As would be expected, this ideological continuity is matched by a cultural-aesthetic continuity. Style is paramount in the battle over popular opinion and the representa­tion – and definition – of legitimate authority. The heroic's bombast is an integral part of the absolutist argument: declamation overpowers dialogue.

Heroic Mode and Political Crisis, 1660-1745 combines the methodology of local studies of cultural expression in times of crisis with a larger chronologi­cal and ideological focus in order to create a more coherent and complete picture of partisan politics and cultural propaganda in early modern England. While extended studies of discrete crises are certainly necessary, their analysis tends to suffer from the re­sulting myopia. Accounts of later crises, like the Jacobite rebellions in the eighteenth century, do not take the origins of the anti-Jacobite and Jacobite themes and tropes into account and therefore cannot explain their resonance or power. She combats the ‘problems of teleology’ inherent in a close-ended study by tracing the evolution of the heroic from its inception at the Restoration through the inversion of its affective and symbolic meaning in the hands of Whig polemi­cists and Georgian apologists. Her story's ‘last act’ is the mirror image of its debut, not a foregone conclusion determined by her selection of a beginning.

The literature under discussion in Heroic Mode and Political Crisis, 1660-1745 reported, distorted, contributed to, and sometimes even manufactured current events. During this period, literary production and public debate, poetry and politics, were often the same activity, making it both impossible and undesirable to attempt to separate ‘literature’ from ‘history.’ McGirr’s detailed analyses of representative texts illustrate how the peri­od's literature and history informed and deformed each other. By embedding texts firmly in the crises that created them, she uncovers an elaborate set of allusions and applications. This technique allows her not only to recuperate the heroic in general but also to reposition several other texts as part of a consistent and recognizable antiheroic critique.

As McGirr moves from restoration to rebellion, she analyzes the heroic/anti­heroic dialectic, unpacking the heroic's valences at each point. In the Restoration, the heroic was infused with euphoria and em­ployed to unwrite the civil wars, celebrate the Stuart brothers and soothe and divert audiences. But the heroic's insistence on unity and hyperbolic celebration of kingship had as much power to alarm as to soothe. The mode's absolutist sympathies and its baroque aes­thetics invited comparison with France and Rome and stoked fears about absolutism and Catholicism. Its association with the persons of Charles II and his brother ensured that debates about the heroic were always also partisan debates, as the rhetoric of Exclusion demonstrated. When James II was forced to flee and his master apologist Dryden lost his position, the heroic also lost its triumphal ending: no longer a narrative of right rule restored, the heroic became either a warning about the dangers of tyranny or an assur­ance that usurpation would once again be reversed. These two readings were most potent during 1745 as a new Charles sought to repeat the story of 1660 and perform restoration. Loyal London responded to this crisis by insisting that this story was anything but serious; the heroic had been transformed from serious drama to farce. If the heroic's task had been to rewrite history in 1660, it could rewrite the present in 1745, transforming bad news from the north into a harmless joke. Yet, although the rebellion failed, Charles Edward's escape and cult of personality meant that the an­tiheroic's triumph was not quite complete. The struggle over the heroic and its interpretation ultimately produced the domestic novel, which continued the antiheroic critique, and whose new heroes were as real as their heroic forbears were ideal.

Literature & Fiction / History & Criticism / World Literature

The Ordeal of Warwick Deeping: Middlebrow Authorship and Cultural Embarrassment by Mary Grover (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press)

The Ordeal of Warwick Deeping examines how the hierarchical structures of taste implied by the term middlebrow were negotiated by the best-selling novelist, Warwick Deeping (1877-1950). Deeping is the focus for three reasons: he was immensely popular and prolific, and his popularity was perceived by such critics as Q. D. Leavis as a threat to the ‘sensitive minority’. His sixty-eight novels from 1903 to 1950 give the cultural historian the unusual opportunity of tracing the development of an author's attempts to protect both himself and his readers from a process of cultural devaluation. After 1925, the best-selling Sorrell and Son and its successors established Deeping as a product about which both admirers and detractors had certain expectations. His response to these expectations provides an exemplary site within which to examine how cultural distinctions were being negotiated and contested in Britain between the two World Wars.

The introduction traces the genealogy of author Mary Grover's theoretical approach. The theories of the Frankfurt school and of Pierre Bourdieu do not account adequately for the generation of texts in response to perceived cultural hierarchies. Deeping's texts are increasingly explicit in the ways they dramatize and address their own ques­tionable cultural status. Grover, Associate Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, uses this self-consciousness to test the limits of the usefulness of available theories of cultural production.

Chapter 1 of The Ordeal of Warwick Deeping historicizes the emergence of the term ‘middlebrow’, contrasting its use on either side of the Atlantic to demonstrate class and cultural context. Chapter 2 shows how Deeping represented his own class positioning as bestselling author. Chapter 3 examines a group of novels, preceding Sorrell and Son and before the term middlebrow had currency, in which Deeping is depicted as feminized and declassified. Chapter 4 concerns the reception of Sorrell and Son and Deeping's fictionalization of its reception. The final chapter deals with the animosity to which Sorrell's success exposed the culturally beleaguered Deeping and how consciousness of this ani­mosity shaped his later novels. It also draws parallels between his defensive rhetoric and that of his chief detractor, Leavis.

The Ordeal of Warwick Deeping seeks to demonstrate that the way cultural hierarchies are established shapes the nature of the products generated. Although commentators on mass culture have stressed the homoge­nous identity of popular texts, the mechani­cal nature of their production and the passiv­ity of their consumers, Deeping's novels imply that readers are aware of and resistant to such characterizations. Leavis identified this resistance, but she and other self-appointed members of the cultural elite failed to recognize that the ‘game’ of draw­ing cultural distinctions blunted the exercise of the very quality on which the self-appointed umpires based their claim to cultural superiority – moral intelligence and discrimination.

According to Grover in the introduction, When Deeping started to write Sorrell and Son his choices as to what he would write were as endless or as constrained as they were for Dostoevsky. Grover does not argue for the value of one over the other but for equal authenticity. She says she may, in some respects, find Deeping's texts repulsive but she also finds them surpris­ing and continues to do so, and this sense of surprise has been the spring of her research. Her task was to identify those ‘living growth points,’ where any writer, writing for any class, in any genre, seeks to exceed what has gone before.

The final chapter of The Ordeal of Warwick Deeping illustrates the anguish which attended Deeping when dealing with the status of his authorship and challenges notions that the author of high cultural status has a monopoly on the travails of creation. Grover reveals the way in which critics failed to examine the consciousness that bourgeois fiction did reveal. She focuses on the way judgments of taste are in practice based on defensive class positioning and how this disfigures the goods produced by those who feel themselves subordinated within the cultural hierarchy.

Literature & Fiction / Science Fiction / Classic

The Currents of Space by Isaac Asimov (Tor Books)

Isaac Asimov is the greatest explainer of the age. – Carl Sagan

Isaac Asimov was the greatest science fiction writer of all time. Without his groundbreaking work, science fiction today would be radically different – and infinitely poorer. The Good Doctor’s works are as timeless and captivating today as when they were first written. – Robert J. Sawyer

Back in print is Isaac Asimov's The Currents of Space, a classic tale set in the Galactic Empire.

On the planet Florinia, life is unequal for the rulers of the planet and the native inhabitants. High above the planet, the Squires of Sark live in unimaginable wealth and comfort. Down in the eternal spring of the planet, however, the native Florinians labor ceaselessly to produce the precious kyrt that brings prosperity to their Sarkite masters.
Rebellion is unthinkable and impossible. Not only do the Florinians no longer have a concept of freedom, any disruption of the vital kyrt trade would cause other planets to rise in protest, ultimately destabilizing trade and resulting in a galactic war. So the Trantorian Empire, whose grand plan is to unite all humanity in peace, prosperity, and freedom, has stood aside and allowed the oppression to continue.

But the delicate balance may be fated to change in The Currents of Space.

Living among the workers of Florinia, Rik is a man without a memory or a past – he has been abducted and brainwashed. Barely able to speak or care for himself when he was found, Rik is widely regarded as a simpleton by the worker community where he lives. But as his memories begin to return, Rik finds himself driven by a cryptic message he is determined to deliver: Everyone on Florinia is doomed . . . the Currents of Space are bringing destruction. But if the planet is evacuated, the power of Sark will end – so some would finish the job and would kill the messenger. The fate of the Galaxy hangs in the balance.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992), was a Russian-born American author, professor of biochemistry at Boston University School of Medicine, known for his science fiction and popular science books, author of the best-selling Foundation trilogy and many other novels, and one of the greatest SF writers of the 20th century.

Obviously, Isaac Asimov had a lot of fun concocting this merry tangle of interplanetary power politics. . . . If it isn't often science-fiction, it is always beautifully contrived melodrama. The reader will have just as much fun as Mr. Asimov. – The New York Times

Famous, foundational (no pun intended), highly imaginative – if they haven’t already, readers have got to read the classic SF of the science-based Asimov, The Currents of Space certainly included.

Literature & Fiction / Mysteries & Thrillers / Women Sleuths

Lone Star by Edward Ifkovic (Poisoned Pen Press)

Perhaps too much of everything is as bad as too little – Edna Ferber

A rising Hollywood star accused of a crime. A studio cover-up. A media scandal. The premise of Edward Ifkovic's debut novel Lone Star seems to have been ripped from the headlines. Except that the year is 1955....

In 1955 in Lone Star Edna Ferber is basking in the success of her blockbuster novel Giant. Director George Stevens and Warner Brothers Studio are in the final days of filming her Texas oil epic, and Edna looks forward to meeting Rock Hudson, Liz Taylor, and especially the young James Dean.
But there is trouble brewing in this mystery novel by retired literature and creative writing teacher Ifkovic. Dean, the new box-office sensation and teen heartthrob, has been accused of fathering a child with an unstable extra named Carisa Krausse. The studio fears the negative publicity will jeopardize the release of the movie.
With character-actress Mercedes McCambridge as her sympathetic sidekick, a shaken Edna investigates the killing, determined to clear Dean’s name. Edna soon entrenches herself in the life of the often secretive maverick actor. But can she prove his innocence? The more she investigates the more she uncovers simmering rivalries, petty jealousies, and cruel infidelities – the dark underside of glittering Hollywood.
Lone Star is a particularly poignant novel since they know the trajectory of Dean's meteor-like career is doomed – doomed in fact before the filming is finished. There is thus a kind of ticking clock behind the unfolding of the murder and its solution. And the irony of knowing that reckless Jimmy died young leaving a legend that still fascinates while Hudson and Taylor faced the ravages of time and lifestyles to come.

… This is Ifkovic’s first novel, but it reads like it was written by an old pro. The mystery is sharply plotted (with a very clever bit of misdirection), and the setting, 1955 Hollywood, is vividly realized (including cameos by Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor). All the characters, fictional and real, are well drawn, and, even though Dean’s tragic fate is well known, Ifkovic smartly avoids any maudlin foreshadowing, portraying the actor as an enthusiastic, completely original talent with a long career ahead of him – assuming, of course, that Ferber can unmask the real killer. A promising debut in what could be a long-running and highly entertaining series. – David Pitt, Booklist
Ifkovic’s promising debut, the first in a series, features real-life writer Edna Ferber as an amateur sleuth in 1955 Hollywood.… While she’s repelled at how show biz distorts the thinking of everyone involved in it, she becomes fascinated by young Dean – truculent, winsome, infuriating and brilliant. Though he’s the hottest actor in town, he’s still vulnerable to blackmail letters from an unstable actress, so he’s the prime suspect when she’s murdered.… Ifkovic handles the mystery plot competently, but the main pleasure is looking beneath the surface of the movie business to see the stars as people, in particular the doomed Dean. – Publishers Weekly
Ed Ifkovic taught literature and creative writing at a community college in Connecticut for over three decades.… A pure delight. Whether you're a fan of classic films or you just love classy storytelling in which fiction flirts with fact, then Lone Star is for you. – Jeffery Deaver, award-winning author of The Bodies Left Behind

Ferber makes an appealing if unlikely detective and Jimmy Dean a splendidly charismatic enigma. – Kirkus Reviews

Lone Star is a gutsy, dynamite debut for Ferber as shrewd sleuth. Ferber wrote some big books about some big and brawling places. But she was a tiny woman and a shrewd observer. Would she have been fascinated by Dean? What would she have thought of his careless, cultivated persona? Ferber-admirer Ifkovic dares to imagine this Ferber and to show readers Dean and the filming of her novel Giant in his assured, psychologically astute debut. It works.

Philosophy / Social Sciences / Anthropology / Business & Investing / Organizational Behavior

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain De Botton (Pantheon Books)
We spend most of our waking lives at work – in occupations often chosen by our younger selves. And yet we rarely ask ourselves how we got there or what our occupations mean to us. Surprisingly little is written about what makes work one of the most rewarding and frustrating of all our activities.
From the bestselling author of How Proust Can Change Your Life and The Architecture of Happiness comes an exploration of work and how it creates meaning. In The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, Alain de Botton explores the world of offices and factories, conventions halls, outdoor installations, and transportation routes. He explores of the joys and perils of the modern workplace, evoking what other people wake up to do each day – and night – to make the frenzied contemporary world function. De Botton leads us on a journey around a deliberately eclectic range of occupations, from rocket science to biscuit manufacture – in search of what make jobs either fulfilling or soul-destroying. He spends time in and around warehouses, container ports, rocket launch pads, and fishing boats – and often discloses both the sheer strangeness and beauty of the places where people spend their lives. The diversity of occupations he selects is wide-ranging, from accountant to painter, career counselor to entrepreneur, cookie maker, power station designer, aircraft salesman and fisherman, among others.
Along the way he tries to answer some of the most urgent questions we can ask about work: Why do we do it? What makes it pleasurable? What is its meaning? And why do we daily exhaust not only ourselves but also the planet? The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work represents "a hymn to the intelligence, peculiarity, beauty, and horror of the modern workplace and, not least, its extraordinary claim to be able to provide us, alongside love, with the principal source of life's meaning." Part photo-essay, part travelogue, part philosophical inquiry, it is unlike any other book on the working world.

De Botton’s sprightly mix of reportage and rumination expands beyond the workplace to investigate the broader meaning of life. – Publishers Weekly, starred review

A luminous photo-essay from a consistently fresh and noble writer. – Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Mr. de Botton is rather witty. Here, for instance, is what he has to say about the swimming pool at his Mojave desert hotel (where he has repaired in the course of a visit to a scrap yard for aeroplanes): “Unfortunately, most of the budget for the pool had apparently been squandered on proclaiming, in an enormous illuminated display by the roadside, that it existed, leaving few resources for it actually to do so.” – The Economist

De Botton is a Wordsworth for a modern world of warehousing, satellites and logistics... This man could just be Britain's greatest living geek. – Independent

If this thoughtful book has proved one thing, it is that work continues to
fascinate and frustrate in equal measure. – The Financial Times

Characteristically lucid, witty and inventive, de Botton’s ‘song for occupations’ is a celebration and exploration of an aspect of life which is all too often ignored and a book that shines a revealing light on the essential meaning of work in our lives. De Botton's signature style – combining intellectual curiosity and narrative felicity with fascinating insights – informs every page of The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, rendering a moving, thoughtful and expansive portrait of work.

Religion & Spirituality / Buddhism / Yoga

Tantric Techniques by Jeffrey Hopkins, edited by Kevin Vose (Snow Lion Publications)
Tantric Techniques offers a complete system of Tibetan Buddhist tantric meditation that details the process of transforming oneself through the step-by-step use of the imagination. Prolific author Jeffrey Hopkins offers a contemporary Western perspective on the practice of deity yoga, based on his study and practice of these techniques.
Deity yoga is the meditative practice of imagining oneself as an ideal being fully endowed with compassion, wisdom, and their resultant altruistic activities. The idea is that by imagining being a Buddha, one gets closer to actually achieving Buddhahood.

Tantric Techniques offers a complete system of Tantric meditation, comparing the views of three seminal Tibetan authors on deity yoga, and on issues such as how to safeguard against psychological inflation and how to use negative emotions on the path.

Across the vast reaches of the Tibetan cultural region in Inner Asia Buddhism is practiced in many forms by a plethora of sects and sub-sects. Though their systems vary widely, they agree on dividing their practices into basically two styles, Sūtra and Mantra – also called Tantra – and all offer reasons why the Mantra system is supe­rior. Based on Indian expositions of the greatness of Mantra, many scholar-practitioners catalogued and creatively developed these explanations, which came to be the means through which they per­ceived and ordered the otherwise overwhelmingly diverse forms of practice inherited from Buddhist India.

Most of the presentations of the distinctiveness of Mantra employ multiple formats for demonstrating its greatness, but one Ti­betan scholar boils these down into a single central distinguishing feature. Whether or not one accepts that deity yoga is the central distinctive feature of Mantra, it is an im­portant feature, and since meditation on emptiness is said to be the ‘life’ of the Sūtra and Mantra paths and thus also of deity yoga, Tantric Techniques initially presents how Sūtra and Mantra describe the practice of reflecting on emptiness and then of relating to appearances. As a basic theme of Great Vehicle Buddhism, the compatibility of empti­ness and appearance offers a window through which Sūtra and Mantra can be not just glimpsed but felt in imagination. Using a meditation manual by the Fifth Dalai Lama, Hopkins explores the process of this central meditation emphasizing its implications regarding its relation with appear­ances. It is in this issue that one of the prime differences between these two systems lies.

These two models – Sūtra and Mantra – are viewed by some Ti­betan scholars as progressively more profound techniques of spiri­tual development in what, by the style of presentation, seems to be a harmonious development. The gradualis­tic harmonious approach, while being valuable in showing the con­tinuity between the two traditions, tends to obscure the innovative profundity of tantric meditation that may be experienced as a solu­tion to a spiritual crisis centered on the appearance of pheno­mena. Hopkins says it is possible that the Sūtra model of meditation on emptiness, when it is implemented in effective practice, induces a problem-situation that is resolved in the tantric model of medita­tion.

In order to discuss that possibility, Tantric Techniques explores the Sūtra and Mantra models of meditation in considerable detail so that the discussion does not become an exercise in mere abstraction. Therefore, after the Sutra model of meditation on selflessness and subsequent experience of appearances is given, the tantric model of meditating on oneself as an ideal being, a deity, is presented in detail in the second chapter through the example of a particular Action Tantra.

At the end of the second chapter the theory of paradigm change is introduced as a way to reveal the necessity for the development of the tantric model. The Sūtra and Mantra models of meditation are investigated with the aim of exposing a possible crisis that requires an individual to move to the tantric model; the analysis is ‘historical,’ not in the sense of charting and reflecting on centuries of development in schools of Buddhism, though undoubtedly such happened, but of an individual's progress in one life or over many lives.

In the third chapter of Tantric Techniques, in order to convey a sense of the profundi­ty of the tantric enterprise – the enormity of its claims of effective­ness – Carl Jung's exposition of the grave consequences of positive and negative inflation is considered. His insights constitute warnings against doing just what the tantrics advise – identifying with a deity. Then, to present the full breadth of the path-structure of a tantric system, the next three chapters deal with the compli­cated series of practices following imagination of oneself as a deity in Action Tantra. Powerful techniques for concentrating the mind and inducing realization are implemented with the aim of de­autonomizing psychological and perceptual complexes.

In Part Two, presentations of the distinctiveness of Mantra from three Tibetan savants are considered, the underlying agenda being to highlight the plurality of approaches in two of these expo­sitions in contrast to the emphasis on the sole feature of deity yoga found in the highly rationalistic writings of the late fourteenth- and early fifteenth-century founder of the Ge-luk-pa order, Tsong-kha­pa Lo-sang-drak-pa. His system is thereby put into historical context; the radical nature of his distilling the distinctive essence of Mantra down to the single central feature of deity yoga becomes clear through juxtaposing two earlier multifaceted approaches. Part Three is concerned with Bu-tön's presentation of nine tra­ditional ways of dividing the tantras into four groups – Action, Per­formance, Yoga, and Highest Yoga – and Tsong-kha-pa's critical acceptance of only two of them. In conclusion Hopkins makes the suggestion that these grids for organizing tantras in classes are self-aggrandizing and to a large extent obscure the psychological tech­niques employed to effect a transmutation of mind and body.

Jeffrey Hopkins has made a major contribution to deepening understanding of Tibetan Buddhism, had access to some of the greatest contemporary Tibetan teachers, but – most important of all – he has, over the years, steadily tried to put what he has learned into practice. – The Dalai Lama

Tantric Techniques gives serious Buddhism practitioners a dynamic sense of the potential of the human mind for self-transformation through step-by-step use of the imagination.

Religion & Spirituality / New Age

Best Tarot Practices: Everything You Need to Know to Learn the Tarot by Marcia Masino, with a foreword by Rachel Pollack (Weiser Books)
Best Tarot Practices is a comprehensive approach to learning to read the tarot. Using a method that blends modern questions and answers with innovative exercises and encourages intuition, Marcia Masino, certified Grandmaster of tarot and author of the tarot classic Easy Tarot Guide, empowers readers to find their own private connection with each of the cards, fostering a personal relationship with the characters and symbols within the deck.

Unlike many other beginning tarot books, Best Tarot Practices focuses not just on how to read the cards, but also on how to become a successful tarot reader – including how to handle difficult questions and messages in a reading, how to deal with needy, greedy, or superstitious seekers, and how to make each reading accurate and personal for the seeker.

The book offers a step-by-step approach to understanding the tarot, from the four suits and the court cards to the Major Arcana to learning new spreads that offer guidance in becoming one’s own tarot master. Best Tarot Practices teaches readers how to trust what they already know and how to share that knowledge by reading the cards for others.
The book shows readers how to:

  • Develop their own mnemonic learning system.
  • Ask questions in a manner that the Tarot can answer.
  • Deliver difficult messages to the seeker.
  • Handle challenging seekers.

The book guides readers through challenging situations, and offers simple new streamlined card interpretations to try. Readers explore unconventional ways to learn the cards' meanings, and discover the joys of Tarot reading.

The situations that Tarot readers encounter – social scenarios and difficult cards – are a feature of Best Tarot Practices. Its interactive workbook style helps readers learn the ‘how to’ of Tarot interpretation through learning tools and examples that explain the integration of cards with their layout placements. These explanations of the cards are supplemented by new, focused, easy-to-learn card meanings. The book also addresses some unexpected subjects in great detail, like how to determine how one’s psychic ability is involved during a session, how to acquire reading experi­ence, and how to pursue spiritual development through the Tarot.

The person who consults the cards asking for a forecast or self-awareness is known as the Seeker. In a sense, we all are Seekers; we look to the Tarot for predictions and for guidance for ourselves, for family and friends, and for clients and fellow students. Masino regards the deck as a lifelong companion that can gradually reveal one’s destiny over time. She believes the Tarot's genius is its unique ability to blend the mystical with the practical through visual symbols. The symbolism of the cards illustrates the lessons and blueprint of the soul divined externally through readings and experienced inwardly through meditation. Masino says that when readers study the Tarot, they become custodians of an ancient knowledge that neither begins nor ends with them. She feels read­ing Tarot in the best possible way opens the door to the treasures of prophecy, spiritual understanding, and life progression through applied wisdom.

Best Tarot Practices is a wide-ranging private lesson for tarot readers taught by a modern tarot master. Mixing truly sage advice with practical, stimulating exercises and solid information drawn from a lifetime of experience, it is an important work and not to be missed. – Wald and Ruth Ann Amberstone, directors of the Tarot School, authors of The Secret Language of Tarot and Tarot Tips

Reading Best Tarot Practices is like having a private lesson with an experienced tarot guide. Masino offers useful tips on every page, but she also clearly understands the ways of the psyche and intuition. Her words go far beyond the practical. They convey the energy of the tarot directly, so you can feel it while you're reading. If you're looking for ways to integrate the cards into your life – and be inspired – Best Tarot Practices will truly give you everything you need to know. – Joan Bunning, author of Learning the Tarot

Best Tarot Practices provides everything readers need to know to read cards for personal insight and spiritual growth. The book tackles all aspects of Tarot interpre­tation, making it a useful resource guide. The techniques, examples, and learning tools in this innovative book provide practical and spir­itual ways to interpret and utilize the knowledge offered by the Tarot.

Religion & Spirituality / Theology / Catholicism / Philosophy

Philosophy and Catholic Theology: A Primer by Philip A. Egan (Liturgical Press)
Philosophy and Catholic Theology by Philip A. Egan, priest of the Diocese of Shrewsbury, England, until recently, dean of studies and professor of foundational theology at St. Mary's College, Oscott, is a short book offering a survey of recent philosophy and how its different patterns of thought have influenced Catholic theologians.

Rooted in the questions raised by Vatican I and the directions pointed by Vatican II, Philosophy and Catholic Theology shows how theology has developed over the past two centuries and how it builds on the foundations philosophy has laid since the Middle Ages and the crises of the Reformation and the Enlightenment. The issue of the relationship between faith and reason, so acutely raised in those periods, cannot be addressed without some understanding of the sciences that examine those two fields: reason is the province of philosophy, and faith is the realm of theology. Once readers have a grasp of philosophy and its questions, they are in a better position to understand theology. When they have a clear picture of both, they can see how theology has built on and been influenced by philosophy. And at that point they can begin to see how reason informs faith and how the two work together to yield knowledge of life's most profound realities.
According Egan, Philosophy and Catholic Theology was originally composed in an abbrevi­ated format for the Maryvale Institute, Birmingham, and its distance-learning Batchelor of Philosophy degree in philosophy. The book has since been revised for seminarians completing their studies of philosophy and beginning the­ology; particularly those studying foundational or fundamental theology. It avoids excessive technical detail or coverage of matters of academic dispute, offering a straightforward survey or overview. Such a project by its nature has to be selective and cannot claim to be comprehensive.

Philosophy and Catholic Theology maps out the influence of contempo­rary philosophies on recent Catholic theology in stages. Chapter 1, "Theology," begins with a discussion of what theology is about and how much human reason – and therefore philosophy – has a role in it and what the nature of that role might be. The Catholic tradition has taken a keen and nuanced view of these matters, and so, following the mainstream of that tradition, readers look at the role of reason in the theological process, the history of theology, the questions theology deals with, its foundations, and some of its basic parameters. The book makes extensive use of magisterial statements that have established a clear direction for subsequent theology, namely, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith (Dei Filius) of the First Vatican Council (1870) and the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Reve­lation (Dei Verbum) of the Second Vatican Council (1965). As these pronounce­ments are explored, the chief counter positions are also discussed.

Chapter 2, "Recent Theology," is about the context in which theology has been done in the recent past and is being done today. The trends and developments that have taken place over the last hundred years or so are examined. Central to Catholic theology during this period has been the far-reaching process of change and renewal that led to Vatican II (1962-1965), and that in some respects caught the wider church unaware. The book also discusses the progress made in the period since.

Chapter 3, "Philosophy and Theology," explores the influence of the various families of contemporary phi­losophy on this or that strand of theology, on this or that theologian, and on this or that theological issue.

Chapter 4, "Theological Method," looks at some of the theological methods and features of theology from the past, at the functions of the creeds in the early period and the quaestio disputata in the Middle Ages, and then how the challenges of the Reformation and modernity were met by neoscholasticism and its thesis theology. After discussing the crisis of method following Vatican II, the second half of the section explores some of the current ‘styles’ of theology and their philosophical underpinnings.

The concept of theology in the book is avowedly Roman Catholic, or at least its intention is to fit squarely within the mainstream of the Roman Catholic tradition, giving due value to the statements of the Roman magisterium relating to theology, faith, and reason. Egan says he hopes that Philosophy and Catholic Theology will recall aspects of these issues that other Roman Catholic theologians may have neglected. Much of what is said is not exclusive to the Roman Catholic tradition, and readers from the Orthodox, Protestant, and Reformed traditions will find in the text paradigms and examples to illuminate their own thinking. Readers will also find cross-references to theologians and trends within Orthodox, Protestant, and Reformed theology are incorporated.

This excellent book succinctly presents Catholic theology, both past and present. In the light of a masterly description of various philosophies, it shows how any worthwhile theology must be philosophically informed. The book emerges from years of teaching, and will be accessible to lecturers and students everywhere. – Gerald O'Collins, SJ, Professor Emeritus, Gregorian University (Rome), Research Professor, St. Mary's University College, Twickenham (UK)

Philosophy and Catholic Theology elucidates the relationship between theology and philosophy from the Catholic perspective. Readers will notice the influence on this text of the Thomist tradition in general and of the Canadian Jesuit philosopher and theologian Bernard Lonergan in particular. The book will help philosophy undergraduates and seminarians navigate some of the current developments and trends in Catholic theology. In addition the work may be of interest to students of theology and to general readers who are sensitive to or curious about the influence of philosophy on theology.

Religion & Spirituality / New Age

How to Read the Akashic Records: Accessing the Archive of the Soul and Its Journey by Linda Howe (Sounds True)

The Akashic Records contain everything that every soul has ever thought, said, and done over the course of its existence – as well as all its future possibilities. This valuable information can help you with any aspect of your life journey. And because the Records are also a dimension of consciousness, they are available anytime and everywhere. – from the book

For thousands of years, mystics, masters, and sages from various world traditions have read the Akashic Records – a dynamic repository that holds information about every soul and its journey. Once reserved for a ‘spiritually gifted’, this source of wisdom and healing energy is, according to Linda Howe, available for readers everywhere to answer questions big and small.

With How to Read the Akashic Records, healer and teacher Howe, founder and director of The Center for Akashic Studies, offers the first book of its kind to help navigate these timeless ‘Records of the Soul.’ After a lifelong search for truth, Howe has developed a reliable method for accessing this reservoir of information: the Pathway Prayer Process. By lifting readers to a divine level of consciousness, the sacred prayer opens the doors of the Records, where their ‘soul blueprint’ – everything they need to know about their soul's destiny – awaits them. Once there, readers work with their Masters, Teachers, and Loved Ones to cultivate a rich relationship with the Records and ultimately learn to unleash their highest potential.

Drawing from more than 15 years experience with the Akashic Records, Howe teaches:

  • The Pathway Prayer Process, a proven password for admittance into the Records.
  • How to work with their MTLOs, Masters, Teachers, and Loved Ones for assistance within the Records.
  • Insightful tips to glean the most critical information, whether readers are reading for themselves, other individuals, or even their pets.

"The time has come for us to be our own spiritual authorities and access this illuminating, rich source directly," explains Howe. "Accessing the Akashic Records provides an opportunity to align with your soul and develop your own spiritual authority," she says.

Grounded with the success stories of dozens whose lives have been touched by the Records, this guidebook seeks to help readers read the Records for themselves – or another – and find inspiration for their own spiritual path.

Linda Howe is a very bright spirit dedicated to inspiring others. How to Read the Akashic Records will help you move forward into a new place of love and peace. It is brilliantly written and takes or through clear, step-by-step practices, meditations, and exercises that allow you to fully embrace and deepen your spiritual connections. It’s a wonderful book and healing to read. – Sandra Ingerman, author of Shamanic Journeying and How to Heal Toxic Thoughts

This book will illuminate the path of many who wish to increase their understanding of the mysteries of the universe. – Ainslie MacLeod, author of The Instruction

Linda Howe is a gifted reader of the soul stories contained in the Akashic Records. Here she reveals the secret of how to tap into this library in consciousness for personal work and helping others. – David Pond, author of The Pursuit of Happiness and Chakras for Beginners

How to Read the Akashic Records is an amazing, complete. readable and practical guide to accessing the cosmic information field traditionally called the Akashic Record and currently rediscovered in the sciences as the Akashic Field – the informational component of cosmological physics' unified field. – Ervin Laszlo, Ph.D., author of The Akashic Experience and Science and the Akashic Field

With How to Read the Akashic Records, everyone who desires to read the Records now has access to this valuable life resource. The book provides all the tools readers need to help them tap into this profound wisdom source.

Religion & Spirituality / Self-Help

Healing into Possibility: The Transformational Lessons of a Stroke by Alison Bonds Shapiro, with a foreword by James S. Gordon (HJ Kramer/New World Library)

I survived two strokes... Around 700,000 new strokes occur in the United States every year, one every forty-five seconds, according to the American Heart Association. Most likely you know someone, or know of someone, who has had a stroke. Maybe you've had one yourself. I'm not writing to tell you about my misery. Everybody has his or her own misery. You don't need mine. – from the book

In the U. S., it happens once every 45 seconds. Twenty-eight percent of people who experience stroke are under age 65. Statistically it affects women more than men.

Alison Bonds Shapiro suffered two debilitating and nearly fatal strokes in her fifties, occurring just 24 hours apart. Today, after a remarkable recovery, this active grandmother, and motivational speaker is also a highly regarded business consultant and leads the board of trustees of a graduate school in San Francisco.

Healing into Possibility chronicles Shapiro’s experience of learning, through trial and error, that her attitude would play the most important role in her recovery. Shapiro says, "I have witnessed this simple truth over and over again: It is not what happens that makes the difference. It is how we work with what happens that changes everything." In Healing into Possibility she teaches simple principles that anyone can use when faced with illness, injury, or any other seemingly insurmountable problem, principles like the art of the small goal, skillfulness and persistence, being creative, and letting go.

Shapiro discusses:

  • What she means when she says ‘disability habituates’.
  • The role of neuroplasticity and why it is so important in the recovery process.
  • What family members can do to help in the face of physical trauma.
  • Dealing effectively with the powerful emotions of anger and grief.
  • The importance of humor and why it is okay to laugh in the face of hard times.
  • The meaning of ‘living around your limitations’.

Healing into Possibility shares Shapiro's experiences and the stories of others who show what is possible. Readers are there as she learns to walk again, faces the challenges in front of her one by one, and then applies the transformational lessons she has learned to the rest of her life. Shapiro now works with stroke survivors and their families, and offers motivational talks for rehabilitation patients and their care networks in numerous locations including a leading HMO in Northern California.

I have repeatedly seen Alison positively affect the attitudes of patients at crucial points in their recoveries. What Alison teaches can be helpful to everyone regardless of their circumstances. – Michelle Camicia, MSN, CRRN, director, Rehabilitation Operations, Kaiser Foundation Rehabilitation Center

A night-light for times of darkness and loss, enabling us each to find our own way home to our wholeness and the rest of our lives. – Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, author of Kitchen Table Wisdom
Should be required reading for everyone who has had a brain injury. It will serve as a great help to caregivers as well. And it could be an inspiring source of support for anyone on a feasible but unpredictable path of recovery for whom the principal ingredients for sustaining their diligence are tenacity and true grit. – Sylvia Boorstein, PhD, author of Happiness Is an Inside Job
Reading this book is like being with a friend who is warm, wise, gentle, and powerfully insightful – an articulate and really interesting friend who can share with you profound healing opportunities that can come with unexpected catastrophe. – Martin Rossman, MD, founder, TheHealingMind.org, and author of Guided Imagery for Self-Healing
From ancient times, there have been people called ‘wounded healers’ who use their own experience with illness to heal others. Alison Bonds Shapiro is one of the outstanding wounded healers of our time, and her superb book offers healing lessons for us all. – Roger Walsh, MD, PhD, professor, University of California Medical School, and author of Essential Spirituality

Healing into Possibility is a touching and uplifting look at the neuroplasticity of the brain and our human ability to grow and change. Positive and direct, it is both an inspiring story and a practical guide filled with simple, powerful tools that anyone can learn in order to help them face whatever life brings.

Religion & Spirituality / Wicca

Real Witches' Book of Spells and Rituals by Kate West (Llewellyn Publications)

To Kate West, being a Witch means an exciting year of spells and rituals, feast days and festivals, blessings and broomsticks. The author of over a dozen books, West has become the U.K.’s most successful author on Witchcraft. She is the recipient of a Lifetime Contribution to Witchcraft award and has been recognized as the most popular factual writer on Witchcraft by Children of Artemis, the fastest growing Witchcraft organization in Europe. Formerly the Vice President of the Pagan Federation, she is High Priestess of the Hearth of Hecate.

Whether readers are seeking the right coven, a better job, or a loving partner, this all-occasion spell book is designed to help. From festival to family, divination to defense, West in Real Witches' Book of Spells and Rituals provides essential magical workings for the modern Witch. Readers don't need to be experienced in the Craft to benefit from these spells and rituals for their family, home, work, and spiritual life. West introduces the age-old practice of magic, and provides guidance, resources, and tips to benefit Witches of all levels. From there, readers can access spells for a wide variety of uses: getting pregnant, coming out as a Witch, tackling a new project, strengthening family communication, shielding themselves from rumors at work, and healing the body, emotions, and spirit.

In the Witches' year there are 8 Sabbats and 12 or 13 Esbats: that means 20 or 21 main
events for which Ritual has to be written. At the Sabbats, Witches celebrate the seasons and the cycle of the Goddess and the God. At the Esbats they work Magic for themselves,
others who request it and for the land, all of which require spells to be created. There are
also acts of Magic that cannot wait for the next formal meeting of the Coven to take place. Also featured are rituals for Witch initiation and rites of passage.

West has collected together the most essential spells for every occasion of a full year's working in the Craft. As well as celebrating the Sabbats, Esbats and workings for other times in the lunar cycle, Real Witches' Book of Spells and Rituals gives readers hints, tips and advice for getting on as a modern Witch in the real world.

According to West, magic is all around us and is practiced by almost everyone, even though they may not realize it. Crossing fingers, touching wood, ‘kissing it better’, wearing a Saint Christopher for safe travel, making a friendship band, blowing out the candles on a cake or dropping a coin into a well and making a wish are all acts of magic. The practitioner may not really believe in it, and so it may not fully work, but it is still magic. The difference between these magics and the magic of Witchcraft lies in the fact that Witches do it with intent, focus and balance – they believe it will work and it does.

Why does anyone want to use magic? Everyone seeks control of their lives; from the youngest toddler to the oldest wise woman. According to West in Real Witches' Book of Spells and Rituals, magic was more common in times past when we were still close to native beliefs. It may have been driven underground and turned into superstition for a while, but it is returning. In a world where just about everything is overlooked or controlled, by laws and people outside our personal influence, people are now remembering and returning to the old ways of taking personal control of their lives and their world, and of making the changes they seek in them. The Craft gives them the ability to do the former and the skills to work the magic to do the latter.

In the Craft readers learn to use magic and spells to:

  • Understand themselves and those around them.
  • Make personal change.
  • Understand the world and their place in it.
  • Bring inner peace and harmony.
  • Bring about physical, emotional and spiritual healing, for themselves, their near and dear, and for those who seek it for themselves and others.
  • Ease in communication and understanding.
  • Aid in study, tests and exams.
  • Find work, do well at it and achieve their potential.
  • Protect themselves, their homes and their near and dear.
  • Find and nurture friendship, romance, love and partnership.
  • Work towards healing the land and protecting the life that grows from it.
  • Help themselves in all aspects of their lives, and the lives of those they care for.

For magic to work it does not require special ingredients and words, but knowledge, effort, energy and understanding. In finding out how to make their magic work, readers learn to clear away their personal emotional baggage and come to terms with who they are and what they can truly be. They come to understand and harness their personal energies, as well as the energies of the elements. And they will find that they come to know, and be known by, the Goddess and the God.

In Real Witches' Book of Spells and Rituals West gives readers not only a series of spells which might be made to work, but also the foundations of the magical practice of Witchcraft, so that they can make their spells work if they are prepared to put in the effort. She says she knows that there are some readers who will want to go straight into trying the spells. But she offers a caution; attempts to practice magic without a good understanding of the basic techniques can result in the magic failing to work, or working in a way that they did not intend. If readers work their spells within the practice of the Craft, they can take control of their lives and make positive change.

Real Witches' Book of Spells and Rituals is a complete and essential book of spells and rituals no modern witch can afford to be without. Whether readers are 'young in Craft' and need guidance, or old hands seeking new ideas, West uses her down-to-earth Witchcraft to create the perfect ritual for their needs.

Sciences / Biology

Wetware: A Computer in Every Living Cell by Dennis Bray (Yale University Press)

How does a single-cell creature, such as an amoeba, lead such a sophisticated life? How does it hunt living prey, respond to lights, sounds, and smells, and display complex sequences of movements without the benefit of a nervous system? Wetware offers an original answer.

After years of writing and publishing over 100 articles in the world's leading journals, as well as authoring six standard textbooks, Dennis Bray has written a book for the layperson about one of the fastest growing fields in science today. This pioneer of computational biology explains cell ‘intelligence’ and the limitations of robotics.

In Wetware, Bray, a neurobiologist turned expert in cell signaling, professor emeritus, University of Cambridge, looks at individual cell behavior and draws intriguing conclusions about how cells and their constituents work as biological systems, and how computers try to replicate them. Bray taps the findings of the new discipline of systems biology to show that the internal chemistry of living cells is a form of computation. Cells are built out of molecular circuits that perform logical operations, as electronic devices do, but with unique properties. Bray argues that the computational juice of cells provides the basis of all the distinctive properties of living systems: it allows organisms to embody in their internal structure an image of the world, and this accounts for their adaptability, responsiveness, and intelligence.

Bray in Wetware breaks down the behavior of amoeba and bacteria and then, step by step, puts the pieces together again to show how systems of protein molecules taste the surroundings, generate messages, extract essential features, and store memories. Similar molecular networks multiplied a billion-fold in the tissues of our body form the framework for all our sensibilities and actions. The centuries-old dream of recreating human life, Bray argues, will never be realized in electronic devices built of silicon and metal: it requires materials with the multiplicity of states, plasticity, and capacity for self-repair displayed by living systems.

In Wetware Bray talks about...

  • Clever cells – In the first chapter, Bray illustrates how even single-cell organisms are capable of complicated sequences of actions.
  • Simulated life – Bray provides a roundup of various attempts by scientists to develop mechanical devices that exhibit ‘free will.’
  • Cell awareness – A trip to the west coast of Scotland prompts Bray to examine the differences in awareness a human has compared to the most basic of microorganisms when exposed to the same environment. Does it make sense to assume that only the more sophisticated life forms have consciousness?

Wetware is science for the layman at its best – Frank M. Harold, author of The Way of the Cell

A provocative topic engaged in fine style by an author in full command of the relevant facts and history. This is a very interesting book. – Dale Purves, Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and Department of Neurobiology, Duke University
Dennis Bray engages in a provocative debate about the computational capabilities of protein networks, while taking the reader on a delightful ramble across biology, from the antics of Stentor to the plasticity of synapses, with PacMan and robot salamanders along the way. – Jeremy Gunawardena, Director, Virtual Cell Program, Harvard Medical School
Biology and information lie at the heart of a new scientific revolution. In this timely and illuminating volume, Dennis Bray passionately weaves a compelling case for a computational view of life. – Martyn Amos, author of Genesis Machines: The New Science of Biocomputing
A beautifully written journey into the mechanics of the world of the cell, and even beyond, exploring the analogy with computers in a surprising way. This book is full of new insights. Dennis Bray is master of his wetware. – Denis Noble, author of The Music of Life

In Wetware, in clear, jargon-free language, Bray offers imaginative, wide-ranging and perceptive critiques of robotics and complexity theory, as well as many entertaining and telling anecdotes. For general readers, practicing scientists, and all others with an interest in the nature of life, the book is an exciting portal to some of biology’s latest discoveries and ideas.

Sciences / Earth Sciences / Geology

Ghost Mountains and Vanished Oceans: North America from Birth to Middle Age by John Wilson & Ron Clowes, with a foreword by Bob McDonald (Key Porter Books)

An understanding of the geology of the Earth is essential to truly understand our place on it. To put it the other way round, we cannot understand life and our place in it without understanding the ball of rock on which, and out of which, it evolved. We are not just passengers on a dead piece of cosmic debris whirling through space: we are an integral part of an exceptional, dynamic system that produced both ourselves and our Earth. In a very real sense, geology made us.... And our own origins might be closely tied to plate tectonic processes similar to ones that came close to tearing North America apart when our ancestors were little more than blue-green algae. – from the book

In an age of space exploration and modern technology, it is easy to forget about the many riches and wonders that exist right under our own feet: the amazing and continuously evolving Earth. And in the age of climate change and space stations, it's easy to forget that the final frontier itself may well lie beneath our feet.

We try to protect the earth, and yet we understand little of the very thing we are trying to protect. In Ghost Mountains and Vanished Oceans, geologists John Wilson and Ron Clowes narrate the heady tale of Earth’s coming of age. They explain that the vast jigsaw puzzle of geological plates that drifted together to form today’s continents continue to move, and what that means for the future. And while this shift is usually imperceptible, tsunamis such as the one experienced in South East Asia demonstrate in fact just how catastrophic this movement can be. From Acasta City, 350 kilometers north of Ranging from Yellowknife, where the first dry land emerged from water to the possibility of a super-volcano erupting in the heart of Yellowstone National Park, highlighted with sidebars and photographs, the book helps readers gain a better appreciation of the earth sciences.

Starting in the beginning and biting off chunks of billions of years, Part 1 is The Introduction; Part 2 is Birth and Childhood: Four to Two and a Half Billion Years Ago; Part 3 is Tumultuous Teens: Two Billion to One Billion Years Ago; Part 4 is Mid-Life Crisis: The Past Billion Years; and Part 5 is Old Age: The Next Billion Years.

Ghost Mountains and Vanished Oceans also tells the story of the source of the information, the story of Lithoprobe, created in Canada in the early 1980s to address a new scientific frontier and now recog­nized worldwide as the best project of its kind in the Earth Sciences field. Lithoprobe combined multidisciplinary studies of the Canadian landmass and surrounding offshore margins to determine how the northern North American continent has formed over geological time from four thousand million years ago to the present.

In the preface, Wilson tells the story the beginning of the project: There is a mild irony in the fact that, while he was gawking at the moon rock in his undergraduate geology student days and the exploration of space was firing Wilson’s imagination, there was a fundamental revolution occurring in the much more down-to-earth sci­ence he was studying. Lithoprobe was groundbreak­ing, world-leading, ahead of its time, but Lithoprobe did so much more than exceptional science. Lithoprobe discovered stories, stories of mountains rising and falling, oceans opening and closing, and entire continents sliding around on the surface of the planet like shuffleboard pieces. The tale told is of the birth, death, and rebirth of entire continents and, by extension, it is the story of the creation of the world on which we live.

According to Wilson in Ghost Mountains and Vanished Oceans, Lithoprobe has been as huge a milestone in the study of our home planet as having a Rover trundle about on the surface has been to the study of Mars. It began in a university seminar room in January 1981, in Ottawa. On that day, one hundred university scientists met to discuss what was wrong with the study of the Earth Sciences in Canada. Why was Canada, home to some of the best geologists and geology on the planet, falling behind in understanding the fundamental structure of the continent on which we lived? The answer lay in the third dimension. By the time of that Ottawa meeting, much of Canada's surface geol­ogy was well understood by the scientific community. But no one was looking deep down. What was below the surface? Scientists in the United States and elsewhere were looking at that deeper story. That was the crisis in Canada's Earth Science research, the issue that the Ottawa group pondered. The answer they came up with was that Canada needed a project that would combine geological (the direct study of the rocks) and geophysical (the study of rocks using remote sensing) tech­niques to determine the third dimension of crustal geology. It was the start of a new Earth Science approach in Canada.

Many more meetings followed. The International Lithosphere Program was established in 1980 "to elucidate the nature, dynamics, origin, and evolution of the lithosphere through international multidisciplinary geoscience research projects and coordinating committees." In response, Canada created a multidisci­plinary committee of scientists who developed a plan – Lithoprobe – a project to solve key geological problems in specific corridors across Canada. Finally, the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) authorized half a million dollars to carry out a study of what was going on at depth below Vancouver Island.
Phase I of Lithoprobe was underway. For the first time ever, the boundary between tectonic plates that generate large magnitude earthquakes was imaged, leading to further studies and much better understanding of earthquake generation and risk in the region. Over the next two decades, other proposals followed (Phases II to V). By the time of Lithoprobe's conclusion in 2005, twenty-two years of outstanding sci­ence had produced a great body of knowledge. Wilson rates it as one of the largest and greatest scientific endeavors ever undertaken in Canada

Ghost Mountains and Vanished Oceans is the fascinating story of the ever-changing natural world told in the accessible voice of two experts in the field. With informative sidebars, illustrations, and photographs, the book helps readers gain a better appreciation of a terra firma that isn't so firm after all.

Social Sciences / Sociology / Anthropology / Politics / Terrorism

Crisis of the State: War and Social Upheaval edited by Bruce Kapferer and Bjørn Enge Bertelsen (Berghahn Books)

Analyzing both historical contexts and geographical locations, Crisis of the State explores the continuous reformation of state power and its potential in situations of violent conflict. The state, otherwise understood as an abstract and transcendent concept in many works on globalization in political philosophy, is instead located and analyzed here as an embedded part of lived reality. This relationship to the state is exposed as an integral factor to the formation of the social – whether in Africa, the Middle East, South America or the United States. Through the examination of these particular empirical settings of war or war-like situations, edited by Bruce Kapferer, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Bergen and Bjørn Enge Bertelsen, PhD student in the same department, Crisis of the State further argues for the continued importance of the state in shifting social and political circumstances.

According to editors Kapferer and Bertelsen in the introduction, the essays in Crisis of the State explore situations of civil strife, violent resis­tance and war in the circumstances of shifts in the organization of state power and the emergence of new forms of sovereignty. The specific contexts analyzed are those in which the agents and organs of state power are effectively at war with the populations over whom they claim control. In these situations the character of particular state orders, the na­ture of sovereignty and the manner of their legitimacy are thrown into relief. These are major concerns of the arguments presented in the book which are alive to the fact that the state, real or imagined, is neither monolithic nor universal in form but has taken shape in often very different histori­cal circumstances. The contributors in the main concentrate on civil strife and war at the colonial or postcolonial peripheries of dominant state-metro­politan centers. However, the extent to which the state circumstances of these contexts are linked with larger metropolitan-centered processes is of major concern in Crisis of the State. As the contributions argue, war and civil violence within specific states has much to do with the dynamics of such linkages. That is, many of the dimensions of intra-state conflict and war are not a function of particular state orders alone but of the larger arenas of political and economic action in which they are set often involving re­lations of contest with other states and/or consequences not apparently related to particular state practice. It is well-known that the rise of Fascist states in various parts of the world in the last century was precipitated by the crisis of global capital in the Great Depression. Contemporary civil disturbance within and between states (as well as the violent effects of state regulatory practice e.g. in relation to immigration) is undoubtedly connected to processes just as much external to state order as those internal to it. Thus, the political and economic flows within the complex transnational assemblages of ethnicity, of business and industry, of crime and so on that are discussed through concepts such as globaliza­tion are forces that can not only escape state control but exacerbate violent state repression. However, these obvious points should not overlook other cultural and social forces that are constitutive of state processes (e.g., the various institutions of state nationalism), as well as those relatively independent of state practice that are part of the terrain of the state. These relate to the crisis of power that is integral to all kinds of state formation – potentially also, inherent to their destructive dynamic.

In the analyses presented in Crisis of the State, the state is not the abstract phenomenon of political philosophy but is rather embedded in lived realities both as part of the cultural imaginaries of populations and as a presence impli­cated, if not always explicitly, in the formation of ongoing social realities. How this is so and the way the agents, agencies and institutions of state power engage with the specific local forces whom they seek to control or with whom they may vie, is the chief concern of the book.

All the contributions address these issues of the chang­ing relations between state, society, and people as these are manifest in particular contexts of violence and war. The essays explore both historical contexts, often at the height of nation-state formation in modernity involv­ing genocide and struggles against colonial rule, and contemporary situa­tions of violent civil war.

The first section of Crisis of the State, Transformations of Sovereignty, Empire, State, includes essays that are concerned directly with the relation between dimensions of the corporate or corporatizing state and formations of war and violence. Thus, June Nash in her chapter addresses the U.S. military-industrial com­plex historically tracing militarization and in the process exploring the contradictions and transformations of the American imperial formation. Nash's discussion is thoroughly based in her fieldwork in Pittsfield, a location at the heart of the United States' military-industrial and imperial interests. Jakob Rigi's chapter is concerned with the war in Chechnya and how this provides a prism for understanding the transformation of the state in post-Soviet Russia. Rigi argues for the emergence of a more general chaotic form of domination that is organic, in the view of Kapferer and Bertelsen, with the emerging corporatizing form of the state that the book discusses. Caroline Ifeka ana­lyzes the Nigerian situation, and her text highlights more generally how market forces, the military and violent conflict increasingly are entangled with the global production of new non-nation state sovereignties.

The essays in the next section, War Zone, shift away from a concern with the larger structural contexts in which war and violence are produced to a consideration of the concrete experiences of the human beings who are caught within and must live the effects of these processes. Building on decades of fieldwork and knowledge of the area, Kirsten Alnaes discusses the situation in the Bundibugyo district of Uganda, an area bordering on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She presents the terrifying realities of victims in worlds far away from the nerve centers of states but who must experience the savagery born of the effects of their crisis and dis­ruption. Sverker Finnstrom focuses on Acholiland in a different part of Uganda. Finnstrom depicts and analyses the violence as exercised by both state and guerrilla as this is experienced by its inhabitants, and also points out significant connections to larger national, global and imperial forces of domination and inequality. Finally, Frode Storaas traces the effects of the introduction of modern firearms among the Turkana and Karamajong pastoralists in northeastern Uganda and how this has dramatically inten­sified violence, transforming the retributive dynamics of ongoing socio-political relations.

The final section of Crisis of the State, Sovereign Logics, examines shifts in the organization of state sovereignty, concentrating on processes where the state is either threatened in its sovereignty (e.g., where its monopolization of violence is contested) or where the state's sovereignty has been parceled out to other parties. Empirically, the essays in this section are concerned with guerrilla movements, paramilitaries, death squads and other modalities of state, non-state and anti-state terror. In his text, Christopher Taylor explores the forms and meanings of violence relating to power and authority in the context of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Analyzing Colombia, in particular, but also extending his argument to other Latin American countries, Staffan Lofving takes his cue from the long-standing practices of paramilitary violence seeing its use as being systemically related to the perpetuation of U.S. global hegemony. Bertelsen's chapter focuses on the civil war in Mozambique and the emergence of death squads. He analyzes these processes in the context of postwar transformations of the state whereby many of its erstwhile domains of control are distributed among ostensibly non-state or ‘undercover’ state functionaries. Rasmus Boserup's essay investigates the collective violence orchestrated by the Algerian state and the guerrilla FLN movement in the period 1954-62, showing how the FLN's use of violence was instrumental in the formation of a counter-state. Similar aspects underpin Glenn Bowman's chapter, which examines the continuing logic of formation of the state of Israel through its particular violence of self-containment (encystation) and exclusion epitomized by the reterritorializing dynamic of its building of an ‘anti-terrorist fence’ or wall. Bowman demonstrates a process of sovereign expansion that may fit with our notion of the corporatization of state processes. The process can be conceived as a continuation of the territorializing, bordering, dy­namic of a highly modernist state. However, there are corporatizing di­mensions – declarations of domains of interest that as yet are not in real­ity borders but rather a kind of moving front of monopolization. Finally, Mats Utas' essay explores the historical continuity of both formations of violence and the exploitative and disciplining state formation particular to the Liberian context in the context of the Liberian civil war in the 1990s.

All the chapters in Crisis of the State argue for an historically informed analysis of socio-political state formations. Not only do they empirically ground the general formulations, but the essays also express the great diversity and, indeed, specificity of situations of violence and war in the continuing circumstances and redirections of particular contexts of the state. By demonstrating the concrete contributions of the state in violent conflict, and in all social matters, the contributors to the book provides a critical contribution to debates within a broad spectrum of fields that are concerned with the future of the state, the nature of sovereignty, and globalization. 

 

Contents this page

The Cracker Queen: A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life by Lauretta Hannon (Gotham Books)

Sell Your Business for the Max! (Spiral-bound) by Steve Kaplan (Workman Publishing)

The Accidental Startup: How to Realize Your True Potential by Becoming Your Own Boss by Danielle Babb (Alpha Books)

Farley Follows His Nose by Lynn Johnston & Beth Cruikshank, with illustrations by Lynn Johnston (The Bowen Press, HarperCollins Children)

The Little Green Pea by Alison Barber, with illustrations by Paige Keiser (Sleeping Bear Press)

Face to Face with Orangutans by Tim Laman & Cheryl Knott (Face to Face with Animals Series: National Geographic)

Michael Recycle Meets Litterbug Doug by Ellie Bethel, illustrated by Alexandra Colombo (Worthwhile Books)

Cooking Club: Great Ideas and Delicious Recipes for Fabulous Get-Togethers by Dina Guillen & Michelle Lowrey (Sasquatch Books)

Memorable Recipes: To Share with Family and Friends by Renée Behnke with Cynthia Nims (Andrews McMeel)

What We Eat When We Eat Alone: Stories and 100 Recipes by Deborah Madison & Patrick McFarlin (Gibbs Smith)

Brain-Compatible Classrooms, 3rd Edition by Robin J. Fogarty (Corwin Press)

Tandem Lives: The Frontier Texas Diaries of Henrietta Baker Embree and Tennessee Keys Embree, 1856-1884 edited by Amy L. Wink (University of Tennessee Press)

Loon: A Marine Story by Jack McLean (Presidio Press)

An Loc: The Unfinished War by General Van Nhut Tran, with Christian L. Arevian (Modern Southeast Asia Series: Texas Tech University Press)

Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival by Clara Kramer, with Stephen Glantz (Ecco)

African-Americana by Barbara E. Mauzy (Schiffer Publishing Ltd)

The Soul of a Horse: Life Lessons from the Herd (Thorndike Large Print Health, Home and Learning) [LARGE PRINT] by Joe Camp (Thorndike Press, Gale Cengage Learning)

Black & White and Pieced All Over: Stress-free Foundation Quilts by Kay M. Capps Cross (Krause Publications)

Free, Sovereign, and Independent States: The Intended Meaning of the American Constitution by John Remington Graham, with a foreword by Laura C. Tesh (Pelican Publishing)

The Little Book: A Novel (Paperback) by Selden Edwards (Plume)

Heroic Mode and Political Crisis, 1660-1745 by Elaine McGirr (University of Delaware Press)

The Ordeal of Warwick Deeping: Middlebrow Authorship and Cultural Embarrassment by Mary Grover (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press)

The Currents of Space by Isaac Asimov (Tor Books)

Lone Star by Edward Ifkovic (Poisoned Pen Press)

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain De Botton (Pantheon Books)

Tantric Techniques by Jeffrey Hopkins, edited by Kevin Vose (Snow Lion Publications)

Best Tarot Practices: Everything You Need to Know to Learn the Tarot by Marcia Masino, with a foreword by Rachel Pollack (Weiser Books)

Philosophy and Catholic Theology: A Primer by Philip A. Egan (Liturgical Press)

How to Read the Akashic Records: Accessing the Archive of the Soul and Its Journey by Linda Howe (Sounds True)

Healing into Possibility: The Transformational Lessons of a Stroke by Alison Bonds Shapiro, with a foreword by James S. Gordon (HJ Kramer/New World Library)

Real Witches' Book of Spells and Rituals by Kate West (Llewellyn Publications)

Wetware: A Computer in Every Living Cell by Dennis Bray (Yale University Press)

Ghost Mountains and Vanished Oceans: North America from Birth to Middle Age by John Wilson & Ron Clowes, with a foreword by Bob McDonald (Key Porter Books)

Crisis of the State: War and Social Upheaval edited by Bruce Kapferer and Bjørn Enge Bertelsen (Berghahn Books)