SirReadaLot.org

SirReadaLot.org


We Review the Best of the Latest Books

ISSN 1934-6557

April 2016, Issue #204

Previous Issues:

Go to Chronological Review List for previous issues.

Guide to Contents this Page 

The Calm Coloring Book: Lovely Images to Set Your Imagination Free edited by Kati Galusz (Thunder Bay Press)

Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators, 4th edition by Tad Crawford (Allworth Press)

Digital Photo Magic: Easy Image Retouching and Restoration for Librarians, Archivists, and Teachers by Ernest Perez (Information Today, Inc.)

The Heart of Hell: The Untold Story of Courage and Sacrifice in the Shadow of Iwo Jima, unabridged audiobook, 2 MP3-CDs, running time 14 hours (Tantor Media)

Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts by Jon Younger & Norm Smallwood, with a foreword by Marshall Goldsmith (Harvard Business Review Press)

Ethical IT Innovation: A Value-Based System Design Approach by Sarah Spiekermann (Auerbach Book, CRC Press)

The Scoop on Poop: Safely Capturing and Recycling the Nutrients in Greywater, Humanure, and Urine by Dan Chiras (New Society Publishers)

Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Creating New Value, 1st edition by Danny Samson & Marianne Gloet (Oxford University Press)

The Inefficiency Assassin: Time Management Tactics for Working Smarter, Not Longer by Helene Segura (New World Library)

Canadian Countercultures and the Environment edited by Colin M. Coates (University of Calgary Press)

Black Power in the Bluff City: African American Youth and Student Activism in Memphis, 1965–1975, 1st edition by Shirletta J. Kinchen (The University of Tennessee Press)

9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America: And Four Who Tried to Save Her by Brion McClanahan (Regnery History)

Pure Soapmaking: How to Create Nourishing, Natural Skin Care Soaps by Anne-Marie Faiola (Storey Publishing LLC)

Don't Go to Jail!: Saul Goodman's Guide to Keeping the Cuffs Off by Saul Goodman, as told to Steven E. Huff (Thomas Dunne Books)

The Weeping Woman: A Novel by Zoé Valdés, translated from the Spanish by David Frye (Arcade Publishing)

China's Troubled Waters: Maritime Disputes in Theoretical Perspective by Steve Chan (Cambridge University Press)

Apostle: Travels among the Tombs of the Twelve by Tom Bissell (Pantheon Books)

Spiritual and Religious: Explorations for Seekers by Roger Haight (Orbis Books)

The Stargazer's Handbook: The definite field guide to the night sky by Giles Sparrow (Quercus)

 

Reviews

Arts & Photography / Crafts & Hobbies

The Calm Coloring Book: Lovely Images to Set Your Imagination Free edited by Kati Galusz (Thunder Bay Press)

It seems the clock moves faster with every passing day. Work schedules, family activities, and never-ending to-do lists wipe out any hope for quiet time. When do we get to pause and slow down?

More and more adults are discovering the stress-busting benefits of coloring. Relaxing, rewarding, and inexpensive, coloring is the new therapy, helping to calm both the mind and the body. This gentle, focused activity helps to declutter the mind and relax the body and has the added bonus of providing a portfolio of beautiful artwork to keep.

The Calm Coloring Book helps readers find the serenity they crave – a few moments when they can step back from the technology-driven world and enjoy a peaceful experience while they create something of beauty. Coloring is recommended by many health professionals as a way to center the thoughts and lower their blood pressure. Relaxation is in their hands.

Readers discover the stress-busting benefits of coloring with this beautiful collection of outlines to complete at their leisure.

The Calm Coloring Book contains an assortment of images. The collection of outlines in The Calm Coloring Book includes flowers, birds, mandalas, stained‑glass windows, and other intricate patterns inspired by nature. The variety and playful style of these images give readers the opportunity to immerse themselves in calm creativity without the added stress of having to start from scratch with a blank sheet of paper.

Readers can choose their color combinations carefully or pick them at random. They can use whatever medium works for them – felt pens, markers, gel pens, pencils, watercolor pencils – it really doesn't matter. As their confidence grows, so will their desire to experiment, and in time they may decide they want to draw and color their own outlines. Whatever readers choose to do, they will have fun doing it.

Arts & Photography / Illustration / Business & Investing

Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators, 4th edition by Tad Crawford (Allworth Press)

 The fourth edition of Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators contains twenty-nine of the most essential business and legal forms to meet the everyday needs of today’s illustrators. Updated throughout, new forms include a promissory note, releases, and an agreement to arbitrate. Each form is accompanied by step-by-step instructions, advice on standard contractual provisions, and negotiation checklists for making the best deal.

Included in Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators are:
Estimate • Confirmation of Assignment • Invoice • Illustrator-Agent Contract • Book Publishing Contract • Collaboration Contract • Contract for the Sale of an Artwork • Contract for Receipt and Holding of Artwork • Illustrator-Gallery Contract with Record of Consignment and Statement of Account • Licensing Contract to Merchandise Images • Release Form for Models • Property Release • Permission Form • Nondisclosure Agreement for Submitting Ideas • Copyright Transfer Form • Application for Copyright Registration of Artwork • License of Rights and Electronic Rights • Contract with an Independent Contractor • Trademark Application • Commercial Lease • Sublease • Lease Assignment
Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators by Tad Crawford provides a password and link to a supplemental website, which contains all the discussed forms for both the PC and Mac platforms. Crawford, author of Legal Guide for the Visual Artist, has served as general counsel for the Graphic Artists Guild, lobbied on the state and federal level for artists’ rights, and taught art law at the School of Visual Arts.

Attaining the knowledge of good business practices and implementing their use is an important step toward success for any professional, including the professional illustrator. The forms contained in Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators deal with the most important business transactions that an illustrator is likely to undertake.

According to Crawford, understanding the business concepts behind the forms is as important as using them. By knowing why a certain provision has been included and what it accomplishes, the illustrator is able to negotiate when faced with someone else's business form. The illustrator knows what is and is not desirable. And the negotiation checklists offer a map for the negotiation of any form.

All forms, whether the illustrator's or someone else's, can be changed. Before using these forms, the illustrator should consider reviewing them with his or her attorney. This provides the opportunity to learn whether local or state laws may make it worthwhile to modify any of the provisions. For example, would it be wise to include a provision for arbitration of disputes, or are the local courts speedy and inexpensive, making an arbitration provision unnecessary?

Tad Crawford's Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators is such an extremely useful book that it belongs within easy reach of every working artist.... Crawford, a lawyer well known for his Legal Guide for the Visual Artist and his involvement in artists' rights, has provided the means to put a lot of his brethren out of business, with forms, advice, and information for almost any situation a commercial artist is likely to confront.... While Crawford correctly advises those using the forms in the book to consult a lawyer about any special terms their respective states may require, the chances are that any lawyer looking at Crawford's handiwork will be impressed by how little he or she will have to add. – Graphic Artists Guild News

Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators, 4th edition contains all of the essential business and legal forms that today's successful illustrators need. Thorough discussions of legal issues relevant to the industry make this popular guide a must-read for any illustrator – established or starting out. The fact that the forms are designed for use and that they favor the illustrator gives them a unique value.

Arts & Photography / Technology

Digital Photo Magic: Easy Image Retouching and Restoration for Librarians, Archivists, and Teachers by Ernest Perez (Information Today, Inc.)

Longtime news librarian Ernest Perez (Houston Chronicle, Chicago Sun-Times) showcases the best of easy-to-use, free, and inexpensive software products for retouching, restoring, and manipulating digital photo images. Digital Photo Magic is designed for librarians, educators, curators, and archivists who want to enhance photographic images without the steep costs and learning curves associated with high-end graphic software packages such as Adobe Photoshop.

Whether for use online or in print-based collections, exhibits, and archives, readers will learn to bring images up to acceptable quality without wasting time or money. Perez provides step-by-step guidance for a range of programs he has personally vetted, highlighting their best features and offering tips and shortcuts readers can put to immediate use. A primer on graphic image formats, a guide to image scanning tools and techniques, and an extensive listing of specialized websites, blogs, user forums, and other author-recommended resources are also included.

Digital Photo Magic describes and teaches what Perez calls ‘Digital Photo Magic,’ or DPM – an inexpensive and simple, yet productive and powerful approach to retouching, repairing, and restoring digitized photographs and other images. Perez says he wrote Digital Photo Magic specifically for the benefit of information professionals and other knowledge workers in libraries, archives, museums, and schools, but it should be useful to anyone who works frequently with digital images or who may be preparing to undertake an image restoration project.

According to Perez, there's no formidable learning curve for DPM retouching technology. It is an easy-to-understand, easy-to-use, intuitive approach to photo editing. The time required to learn how to use the recommended software tools is measured in single-digit hours and days. There's no intensive study, no tutorials, no poring over manuals, and no need to sit through lengthy seminars or training programs.

Perez begins by explaining the DPM concept and approach in Digital Photo Magic's Introduction, followed by Chapter 1, where readers find out about many of the effective, productive, and rewarding aspects of DPM for professionals in the target fields. He then progresses through clear explanations of digital photo technology, retouching, and digital scanning operations, along with basic work planning techniques and the importance of designing an effective workflow.

Chapter 5 lists and describes a number of recommended software products, calling attention to their particular capabilities and strengths. Digital Photo Magic describes commonly used photoediting processes in Chapter 6, along with illustrated step-by-step examples of photo-editing tasks and procedures, providing extensive and easy-to-follow coverage of cost and equipment issues.

The DPM concept hinges on the use of readily available free and low-cost photoediting software, apps, and utilities. The emphasis is on products that are easy to learn and use, and on an organized, common-sense approach to processing and workflow.

With DPM software, photographic post-processing has progressed to a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) style of editing that recalls the evolution of word processing and database software. The makers of these software tools have combined work process simplification with the addition of personal computer horsepower that significantly expands the average user's output capability.

Readers of Digital Photo Magic may be surprised to learn that the physical format of an original image they wish to improve is basically irrelevant. Almost any image representation will do; essentially, they just need to be able to see it. They can begin from a digital image, a film negative or color transparency, a photo print, a printed or published image from a book or periodical, or even a computer or video display.

The DPM approach is simple and easy to understand. Readers don't need to buy expensive proprietary software. They don't need additional hardware. They simply assemble a toolkit of free or low-cost software tools, then mix and match the functions included in the programs to greatly leverage their editing power.

Readers will find that in addition to their ease of use, the use of the most appropriate DPM tools can significantly reduce the total working time for a particular image to a matter of minutes. Coverage is limited to Windows-compatible environments.

A no-nonsense approach covering a breadth of useful topics and applications for librarians, educators, and archivists who have digital retouching projects ahead of them. They should save money by following the author's advice and have fun doing it! – Robert Correll, author, Photo Restoration: From Snapshots to Great Shots

Packs all the points the novice digital manager needs into an easy-to-understand, yet comprehensive manual. Perez is excellent at explaining the step-by-step procedures for using digital imaging software and not just the how, but the why, in making processing choices. – Bobbi Lane, author, Creative Techniques for Color Photography

A guide to photo retouching that beats all the others.... Whether you like tinkering with photos or are into bigger processing projects for a repository or library, this is one book you will not want to miss. – Carolyn Awalt, Ph.D., College of Education, University of Texas at El Paso

A clear and concise must-read for anyone who scans, retouches, resizes, reformats, or manipulates digital images on a budget. – Paula Berinstein, author, Finding Images Online

Digital Photo Magic shows readers how to do retouching and restoration cheaply, quickly, and easily. The DPM software tools Digital Photo Magic recommends are remarkably robust. Readers will be surprised how easy it is to do high-quality photo retouching and restoration – even if they aren't advanced computer users. In addition, readers will find Perez’s tone informal and helpful throughout.

Audio / History / World War II

The Heart of Hell: The Untold Story of Courage and Sacrifice in the Shadow of Iwo Jima, unabridged audiobook, 2 MP3-CDs, running time 14 hours (Tantor Media)

The Battle of Iwo Jima, a major event in the Pacific Theater of World War II – and one of the bloodiest in United States history – began on February 19, 1945. But what happened two days earlier has largely been a footnote, until now ...

On February 17, Landing Craft Infantry 449 was among a dozen gunboats helping to prepare the area for their invasion two days later. U.S. military leaders thought that they had weakened Japanese forces in the area. However, as told in The Heart of Hell, from the towering slopes of Mount Suribachi, Japanese forces opened fire, forcing the U.S. commanders to recalculate battlefield plans. They shelled and bombed the newly discovered enemy positions. It was a move that saved countless lives two days later, when tens of thousands of Marines stormed the beach.

The Heart of Hell is the untold story of the crew of Landing Craft Infantry 449. Based on 130 exclusive interviews with sailors who survived the battle, the families of the men killed in the fight, and more than 1,500 letters the sailors mailed to loved ones during their long months at sea, this is a story of duty, brotherhood, love, and courage.

Mitch Weiss, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist for the Associated Press, has covered subjects ranging from the Vietnam War to corrupt real estate appraisers to the British Petroleum oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The audio version is read by Joe Barrett, a working stage, screen, and recording booth actor since 1974 and an award-winning and eight-time Audie Award-nominated audiobook narrator since 1999.

Mitch Weiss is a master storyteller, and his The Heart of Hell delivers! … With the turn of each page, you come to truly know the heroic men of Landing Craft Infantry 449 and their – until now – untold role in the shadow of Iwo Jima. – Bill Russell Edmonds, author of God Is Not Here: Torture, Trauma, and the Moral Injuries of War 
There have been thousands of books written about World War II, but in
The Heart of Hell Mitch Weiss uncovers a heroic story that's never been told before. He paints a portrait of the young sailors and officers who manned a little-known gunboat and brings to life the sacrifices they made to help win the Battle of Iwo Jima. It's a gripping tale. – Rick Rothacker, author of Banktown: The Rise and Struggles of Charlotte's Big Banks
I am in awe of this story – once in its grip you read until two or three in the morning to learn the fate of this gunboat crew off of Iwo Jima…. Perhaps the only glory in war is through remembering the horror of war. Is that how we find redemption for the sacrifices that were made? If so, this book redeems the horrible hell of war by heralding the selfless duty performed by these ordinary Americans. –
Marty Kaderli, Director of Development for the Admiral Nimitz Foundation and a board member for the National Museum of the Pacific War
Mitch Weiss has written a gripping account of an untold episode from the shores of Iwo Jima. This well-researched book takes the reader on a journey into the life of an amphibious sailor during some of the hardest fought campaigns in the Pacific theater in World War II. The Heart of Hell will help to preserve an important part of history few know about today. – William L. McGee, author of The Amphibians Are Coming!

Weiss in The Heart of Hell expertly braids the overall narrative of the Pacific War in with the historical record of LCI-449 and the individual stories of the officers and crew who served aboard her. It is a meticulously researched and skillfully told story of war; the friendships and family, the courage and despair, the boredom and terror.

Business & Investing / Management & Leadership / Human Resources

Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts by Jon Younger & Norm Smallwood, with a foreword by Marshall Goldsmith (Harvard Business Review Press)

Companies are gaining advantage through a new capability – strategic use of external experts – made possible by technology and the globalization of talent. Leaders everywhere recognize that ‘lean,’ ‘agile,’ and ‘fast’ strategies require new ways to access and leverage – without owning – key talent to fill critical gaps. As managers seek nontraditional sources of strategic talent and experiment with fast, flexible ways of engaging these experts, they need a new roadmap.
Agile Talent delivers that roadmap. It tells readers how to assess, choose, attract, develop, support, and retain their external talent. Authored by thought leaders and bestselling authors in leadership and talent management who teach and consult globally, Agile Talent reveals how companies such as Apple, Uber, Airbnb, Google, IBM, and Bain Capital organize and manage new forms of talent in innovative ways.

In this forward-thinking book, Jon Younger and Norm Smallwood present a cohesive roadmap for attracting, engaging, partnering with, and productively leading the work of external experts – what they've named ‘agile talent’. Younger is partner emeritus of the RBL Group, where he led the firm’s Strategic HR practice. He is a member of the executive education faculties of the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan; Indian School of Business; and the Copenhagen School of Business. Smallwood is President and cofounder of RBL Group, and leads the firm’s Leadership practice. He has taught in the executive education faculties of the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan and the Marriott School of Business, Brigham Young University.

Younger and Smallwood in Agile Talent address many questions head on, for example:

Is there a robust system of orientation and onboarding? Are the big-picture goals of their work spelled out? Are they provided the required support and relationships with the internal staff with whom they must collaborate? Are they treated with respect and friendship or suspicion? Agile talent's rise is transforming and revolutionizing the traditional relationship between an organization and its workforce and is making new demands on managers and leaders. In order to harness this combination of expertise and technology, to access and use the global talent network, and to continue to survive and thrive, organizations and leaders must shift from focusing internally to positioning their organizations to build external partnerships.

This is not an easy task – one might even say it is monumental – but it is manageable with a little help from Younger and Smallwood. And the chapters in Agile Talent on attracting and welcoming agile talent into an organization and how readers can best engage and collaborate with their external experts are wise and highly actionable.

Readers will learn how to make a business case for hiring external talent, orient them to their organizations, offer them professional development, and optimize teamwork between them and permanent, full-time employees. – TD magazine (Association for Talent Development)
Agile Talent represents a whole new way for organizations to work across their value chain and optimize the performance of the people who work for (and with) them to reach new levels of productivity. – Todd M. Warner, former VP, Learning, BHP Billiton, and Founder, Like Minds Advisory
This book presents a clear and effective description of how all businesses need to function in the future – or be left behind. – Omar Kader, Chairman and CEO, Paltech
This book is relevant, practical, and immediately applicable to anyone reading it, whether you are a CEO, a chief HR officer, a leader at any level, or a shareholder. – Susan J. Schmitt, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Rockwell Automation
Agile Talent allows for specialization and entrepreneurial spirit to flourish. – Kevin Murphy, CEO, Driscoll’s
Younger and Smallwood challenge every reader to break free from our typical tactics and instead think strategically and holistically about how to approach external staffing. – Shelley Seifert, Chief Administrative Officer, First Bank
Agile Talent provides a rarely found treasure trove of experiences and practical solutions to create an agile workforce that meets an organization’s particular needs. – Kathleen Wilson-Thompson, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Human Resources Officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance
How do we get the full benefit of having the best people where and when we need them – even though they’re not on our payroll? This book provides a roadmap for navigating to new and powerful workforce relationships. – Kirk Aubry, President and CEO, Savage

Supported by survey data and packed with tools and templates for applying these ideas, Agile Talent is the ultimate guide for winning the next war for talent. Younger and Smallwood’s comprehensive framework and methodology, their in-depth exploration of what agile talent workers are seeking, both from their careers and from their employers and clients, is outstanding in itself.

Business & Investing / Computers & Internet / Technology / Ethics / Reference

Ethical IT Innovation: A Value-Based System Design Approach by Sarah Spiekermann (Auerbach Book, CRC Press)

Hardly a day passes without news of a large-scale privacy or security breach: incidents where personal data or entire identities are stolen or misused, where critical systems are hacked or destroyed by malicious attackers.

Explaining how ubiquitous computing is rapidly changing our private and professional lives, Ethical IT Innovation stands at the intersection of computer science, philosophy, and management and integrates theories and frameworks from all three domains. The book explores the latest thinking on computer ethics, including the normative ethical theories currently shaping the debate over the good and bad consequences of technology. It begins by making the case as to why IT professionals, managers, and engineers must consider the ethical issues when designing IT systems, and then uses a recognized system development process model as the structural baseline for subsequent chapters.
For each system development phase, Sarah Spiekermann discusses the ethical issues that must be considered, who must consider them, and how that thought process can be most productive. In this way, an ‘Ethical SDLC’ (System Development Life Cycle) is created. Spiekermann chairs the Institute for Management Information Systems at Vienna University of Economics and Business, WU Vienna.

Ethical IT Innovation presents an extensive case study that applies the ‘Ethical SDLC’ to the example of privacy protection in RFID enabled environments. It explains how privacy can be built into systems and illustrates how ethical decisions can be consciously made at each stage of development. The final chapter revisits the debate of engineers’ ethical accountability as well as the role of management.
Explaining the normative theories of computer ethics, Ethical IT Innovation explores the ethical accountability of developers as well as stakeholders. It also provides questions at the end of each chapter that examine the ethical dimensions of the various development activities.

Economies now lose billions in productivity from knowledge workers who are constantly distracted, interrupted, and tempted by IT systems. Family lives, friendship, and intimacy suffer as conversations are constantly interrupted and people become addicted to their IT devices. Millions of people escape into the fantasy of virtual worlds and social networks, living out dreams that reality doesn't hold ready for them. The price of escape is often physical and mental health problems, as the body is forgotten by the straying mind.

A textbook on computer ethics was titled Goblet of Fire, referring to the Greek myth where Prometheus brought fire to humanity. Spiekermann says she agrees with this analogy; IT is like fire. IT enables enormous leaps in progress, leading humanity into a new, potentially better, age. But like fire, it is also dangerous in that IT can harm human values. As we play with fire today, we are often burned.

To bring order and control to IT, we must first understand its goals. We must understand its desired properties and then choose the right methods to cater IT to those properties. This is what Ethical IT Innovation is about. After introducing concepts of IT innovation and the future of IT, Spiekermann describes the ethical values that matter to humans and human societies across the world. She details what these values stand for and how they relate to IT. She explains how to build IT so that it accommodates the things we all care about: intrinsic values like freedom, knowledge, health, safety and security, trust, belonging and friendship, dignity and respect, and qualities that support these intrinsic values, such as privacy, transparency, control, truth, fairness, accessibility, objectivity, authenticity, accuracy, accountability, empathy, reciprocity, and politeness.

Ethical IT Innovation propagates the idea that thinking and crafting IT for value needs time. Those who are not willing to invest time build second-class objects that create more entropy than good.

Ethical IT Innovation is large in ambition and scope, and its knowledge spans four disciplines: philosophy, computer science, psychology, and management. With four disciplines embedded in this work, it has become a rich and dense piece. When four disciplines are forming a mosaic, a beautiful new landscape emerges – a landscape in this case of an artful future IT environment.

... a breakthrough volume; it will stand as essential reading and a primary reference in the further development of ethics and IT design, most especially as informed by virtue ethics approaches. – Professor Charles Ess, University of Oslo
A fascinating, remarkable journey about the importance of ethics in the design and application of modern information technologies. Deeply researched and engrossing – a book all innovators should read. – Professor Alessandro Acquisti, Carnegie Mellon University
Full of clear and compelling examples, this book is an excellent guide for students, professional engineers, and for managers who want to ensure ethics and values are among the concerns teams account for during design. – Professor Katie Shilton, University of Maryland
I will take this book with me to technical conferences and meetings, and also keep a copy on my desk, both to refer to and to find relevant works in the literature list. Ethical IT Innovation is an important book that will hopefully have an impact in academic discourse, and, possibly more importantly, in shaping our information systems in the future. – Bendert Zevenbergen, PhD student, Oxford University

Ethical IT Innovation is written for those who understand that our current way of developing IT systems and investing in them is a bit like playing with fire. It is for those who want to construct IT as a benevolent power rather than an unregulated force of destruction. With compelling examples and the latest thinking, the book is rich and dense and will undoubtedly help shape the futures of IT design.

Business & Investing / Home Building / Plumbing / Green

The Scoop on Poop: Safely Capturing and Recycling the Nutrients in Greywater, Humanure, and Urine by Dan Chiras (New Society Publishers)

Flush it and forget it is the plumbing mantra of the industrialized world. Most people just want sewage to go away, preferably without having to see, smell, or worse yet, touch it. But crap has a bad rap.

Although it's generally something we try to avoid, sewage has the potential to be a valuable part of food production and self-sufficiency. Moreover, alternatives to Western-style sanitation can help conserve enormous quantities of fresh water. Blackwater, greywater, and solids are actually rich in organic matter, and alternative means of handling these ‘wastes’ can conserve enormous quantities of fresh water for other uses.

The Scoop on Poop presents a wide range of ways to answer the call of nature, and in so doing to maximize the benefits of existing waste water. This book explores proven alternatives to Western sanitation. Whether readers are interested in composting toilets, outdoor grey- or blackwater planters, constructed wetlands, or other innovative solutions, author Dan Chiras walks them through:

  • System pros and cons
  • Design, construction, and maintenance advice
  • Costs, permitting issues, and the safe treatment of composted waste

Chiras is the author of over thirty books on residential renewable energy and green building, and is the director of the Evergreen Institute's Center for Renewable Energy and Green Building.

The Scoop on Poop is a practical guide to safe, ingenious ways to capture the nutrients from waste and recycle them back into the soil to grow fruit trees, vegetables, and flowers – all without running afoul of the ‘ick’ factor. System plans are relatively simple and straightforward enough for the average homeowner to build and install.

Our current system of discarding nutrient-rich human waste is shameful (and foolish) and it's high time we learned how we can close this vital piece of Mother Nature's nutrient cycles. As a leading expert on homesteading and solar how-to, Dan Chiras is the perfect person to tackle this important topic. – Cheryl Long, Editor in Chief, Mother Earth News

With world population doubling rapidly, California wilting into a desert, and the planet warming by degrees, we have to ask – so, you have a large bowl of drinking water in a room in your house, maybe even a few such bowls in a few such rooms. And whenever these bowls are empty, you just push a button, flick a lever, or pull a chain and they automatically refill. And you do what with this water? Say what? – Albert Bates, author of The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook and The Biochar Solution: Carbon Farming and Climate Change.

Dan Chiras has covered every topic under the sun, so it should be no surprise that he tackles that last piece of the sustainability loop, and that is the concept of waste. Although ‘waste’ is, as Dan illustrates, not an accurate term, because of all the benefits of capturing and recycling the nutrients in our ... output. Dan demystifies the process and addresses the misconceptions to teach the reader how to create systems to treat our waste, which is extremely important to those trying to get ‘off the grid’. I highly recommend this book for anyone ready to close the loop on their poop. – James R. Plagmann, Architect + LEED AP, HumaNature Architecture, LLC

In his usual cheerful style, clean energy guru and master ecologist, Dan Chiras, tackles the smelly, but important, subject of closing the loop on our personal waste. He shows us how to take excrement and greywater and create a valuable agricultural resource to be returned to the natural cycle of our gardens. If you want to take your composting regime to a whole new level, you seriously need this book! – Sylvia Bernstein, author of Aquaponic Gardening: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Vegetables and Fish Together

Let Dan Chiras and The Scoop on Poop encourage you to take an interest in cleaning up after yourself. This book is a great introduction to taking personal responsibility for waste water issues, and can put you on the road to drastically lowering your own contributions to this large scale problem. – Chris Magwood, Sustainable building educator, The Endeavour Centre

Intended for readers who live in cities, towns and rural environments, The Scoop on Poop is a comprehensive, user-friendly guide to environmentally responsible methods for reclaiming and recycling grey-water and nutrient-rich human waste.

Business & Investing / Innovation / Entrepreneurship

Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Creating New Value, 1st edition by Danny Samson & Marianne Gloet (Oxford University Press)

Innovation and Entrepreneurship incorporates the theme of entrepreneurship within the fabric of innovation and is complemented by a broad range of new case studies across many different industries.
Innovation and Entrepreneurship covers the latest core information about innovation and the disciplined and systematic approach that has led successful innovative companies to their market leading positions and to achieve business success. This is blended with the entrepreneurship aspects of activity that lead to innovation, often in smaller firms and in niches of larger organizations. It provides a systematic breakdown of systematic innovation capabilities and both detailed case studies and mini cases of innovative companies and of entrepreneurs for students and business people to learn from.

Authors are Danny Samson and Marianne Gloet. Samson is a Professor in the Faculty of Business and Economics at The University of Melbourne, and Gloet is a Research Fellow in the Department of Management and Marketing at The University of Melbourne. The book has 21 contributors.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship covers all of the major aspects of innovation strategy and capabilities, including leadership of innovation, creativity, design-led innovation, open innovation, management of innovation portfolios and new product development processes. Ultimately, innovation is accomplished by people, and this book recognizes the critical contribution of leadership and organizational culture to developing and promoting innovation behaviors. It covers the practical, powerful tests to which start-ups and entrepreneurs should subject their new ideas, and provides an overview of the entrepreneurship process.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship also details the common practices that distinguish highly innovative organizations. This information is translated into an innovation audit tool that can be used by managers and students alike. Key features include:

  • More than 25 major case studies covering innovation and entrepreneurship from start-ups to large, mainstream organizations, including Kogan, KeepCup, BHP Billiton, Swisse, CSL and Toray [Japan). Also includes three case studies of crowdsourcing companies.
  • Thought leadership boxes throughout, including leading edge, practical insights from professionals.
  • Contemporary issues in entrepreneurship, such as new business models and social entrepreneurship practices, reviewed and illustrated.
  • Aspects of process innovation in a chapter on supply chain innovation.

Innovation and entrepreneurship are intrinsically of great interest to all who want to build and run organizations, because they are all about creating new forms of additional value. The value that can be created through innovation and entrepreneurship has potential benefits for all stakeholders, principally customers, employees, leaders, managers, owners/shareholders, suppliers and, less directly, governments and unions.

Whether the entrepreneurial activity creates innovations in products, services, processes, technologies, business models or even management, marketing or supply chain approaches, the key is to support and drive the organization to achieve its goals through the creation of that value.

Samson and Gloet argue that now is the right time to closely examine and study, then put into practice, the modern strategies, approaches and methods related to innovation and entrepreneurship, because never before have technology, product life cycles, economic forces such as globalization, and changes to societal structures and climate presented both significant threats to the status quo and exceptional opportunities. The threat is to not innovate and be caught doing too little to keep up with or ahead of the huge changes happening in markets and economies, technologies and society (consider Kodak). The opportunity is to get in front of the wave and capture large amounts of value through being first and/or best into new offerings, processes or business models (consider Apple).

Innovation and Entrepreneurship has some features that are new and unique. Samson and Gloet include a large number of both Australian and international case studies, including every type of innovative organization from start-ups to large multinational companies. They devote chapters or sections to social partnerships and social entrepreneurship, to innovation strategy, leadership, open innovation, ambidexterity and innovation by design. Innovation and Entrepreneurship also includes a detailed report on a recent large survey of Australian companies' innovation practices and outcomes, which provides evidence supporting their principle assertion of the importance of innovation as a central value creator. It also provides detailed information about the practices of highly innovative organizations that distinguishes them from the rest of the pack. Another distinctive feature is the inclusion of an innovation audit questionnaire that the authors have devised from the survey research and case studies in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which can be used as a practical field assessment tool by managers or students of innovation.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship provides a practical and thoroughly researched introduction to innovation and entrepreneurship. By being better informed about innovation and entrepreneurship, managers and students will be more likely to engage in such value-creating activities, and will be more likely to succeed through applying this knowledge for future benefit.

Business & Economics / Productivity / Self-Help

The Inefficiency Assassin: Time Management Tactics for Working Smarter, Not Longer by Helene Segura (New World Library)
Who doesn't want more time and energy for family, friends, and personal passions? Organization expert Helene Segura coaches real people in the real world to operate more efficiently during the work day, so they can have a life outside of it. Her time management program caters to diverse learning styles, offering case studies for readers to self-diagnose and zero in on the strategies most appropriate for them. These doable techniques – for clearing task lists, managing reminder systems, scheduling a variety of priorities, and even telephone and email control – apply to anyone wanting to streamline and better manage their productivity levels. Thanks to Segura's astute attention to personality, The Inefficiency Assassin meets readers where they are struggling and details quick and easy-to-implement strategies to, as Segura promises, "kick chaos to the curb."

Productivity specialist Segura has seen her clients succumb to all the pitfalls of overwork: Men whose marriages are falling apart because they're never home, or when they are at home, they're not paying attention to their family because they're still working. Women who work their tails off to shatter glass ceilings, and instead end up working themselves into an emotional breakdown by trying to balance too many of life's pieces. For these people and everyone in-between, she wrote The Inefficiency Assassin.

The Inefficiency Assassin is written for different learning styles and contains both strategies and detailed tactics. The book is divided into three essential areas of focus, with each area containing situational chapters that are split into scenarios/stories, the source of the problem (for the reflective learners), the solution strategies (for the right-brained creative learners) and the solution tactics (for the concrete-sequential learners and the reactive ‘just give me the quick fix’ readers). Readers can choose to read all sections, or just the ones that resonate with their learning style or time-management challenges. A helpful ‘case studies’ section near the end of the book presents thirteen common challenges and their solutions, so readers can easily self-diagnose and treat their time-management problems.

Whether readers want to streamline, downsize, better manage paper and information, organize tasks, or simply make their work and home lives more efficient, The Inefficiency Assassin meets people where they are struggling most with quick, easy-to-implement strategies and tactics.

Wow, Helene really gets it: time management is really about life management. She knows how to go from the big picture down to the little details and how to create the right context to not only get more done but also to feel better about it. She doesn't just have great ideas, she also organizes them in the book in a user-friendly way so you can get the most out of them. This is the book to get. – Ari Tuckman, PsyD, MBA, ADHD expert and author of More Attention, Less Deficit
The Inefficiency Assassin slays chaos and indecision. As a person with attention-span and follow-through issues, I was grateful to discover that Helene shared the doable secrets to take my creativity from an idea to reality. And she does it in bite-sized digestible chunks even I can handle. Everyone who wants to achieve something important needs a copy of The Inefficiency Assassin. – Jeff Anderson, writing consultant, speaker, and author of 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know
I am a big fan of managing your time as effectively as possible. Helene outlines the quickest ways to make that happen. It's a must read.
– Jane Atkinson, author of The Wealthy Speaker 2.0
Helene Segura offers innovative solutions for your productivity roadblocks.... Follow the recommendations in 
The Inefficiency Assassin, and you'll gain countless hours of newfound time. – Laura Stack, founder of The Productivity Pro, Inc. and author of Doing the Right Things Right

The Inefficiency Assassin is exactly what professionals-on-the-go and entrepreneurs need, providing the coaching they need when they are overwhelmed. The book presents a revolution in time management books – a way to improve productivity once and for all. This time management book addresses and solves every known productivity road block known to man ... and woman. Readers who implement the strategies and tactics in this guide will never have an issue with time management again.

History / Canada / Culture Studies / Environment

Canadian Countercultures and the Environment edited by Colin M. Coates (University of Calgary Press)

"Happiness," declared twenty-three-year-old hippie John Douglas to a Toronto Star reporter in 1967, "is hauling water from the stream." For the former Torontonian, then living on a farm in the Madawaska Highlands in northern Ontario, this communion with nature was a novelty. It is not inconceivable that Douglas's parents and, even more likely, his grandparents spent part of their days fetching water and carrying it into their houses. Whatever they thought about their living circumstances, they were likely more inured to and less ecstatic about the task. But for the young Douglas, the physical chore involved a spiritual component, illustrating the links that many people who chose a counterculture lifestyle consciously made to the environment. A direct experience of nature represented a moral choice for many during this period of cultural upheaval.

Studies of the radical environmental politics of the 1960s have tended to downplay the extent to which much of that countercultural intellectual and social ferment continued into the 1970s and 1980s. Canadian Countercultures and the Environment by Colin Coates adds to our knowledge of this understudied period. Coates teaches Canadian studies and history and is the Director of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies at York University. The book has 11 contributors.

Canadian Countercultures and the Environment contributes a sustained analysis of the beginning of major environmental debates in this era and examines a range of issues related to broad environmental concerns, topics which emerged as key concerns in the context of Cold War military investments and experiments, the oil crisis of the 1970s, debates over gendered roles, and the increasing attention to urban pollution and pesticide use. No other publication dealing with this period covers the wide range of environmental topics (among others, activism, midwifery, organic farming, recycling, urban cycling, and communal living) or geographic locales, from Yukon to Atlantic Canada. Together, they demonstrate how this period influenced and informed environmental action and issues in ways that have had a long-term impact on Canadian society.

Covering a range of case studies from the Yukon to Atlantic Canada, Canadian Countercultures and the Environment explores the ways in which Canadians who identified with rural and urban countercultures during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s engaged with environmental issues. Throughout Canada, groups of young people established alternative communities and consciously embraced new practices. Their choices led them to connect with environmental issues in innovative and committed ways.

Canadian Countercultures and the Environment is divided into two sections. The first section explores examples of environmental activism and focuses on innovative local organizing and advocacy. The second section examines countercultural life choices and the environmental perspectives these entailed. Technological options, relations with the state, and encounters with hostile and curious local populations all held particular implications for people espousing alternative lifestyles.

This was an international movement, and the influx of American men and women, many of whom were critical of the Vietnam War, reinforced the oppositional stances of Canadian youth. Many were inspired by utopian sentiments, and they moved to rural communes to live out their ideals, in places where they engaged of necessity with the natural environment in a very direct way. Scholars who deal with utopian societies tend to focus on the ultimate failures. In contrast, this book insists on the legacies of the Canadian counterculture. Much of the countercultural critique of contemporary attitudes to the environment has become mainstream today.

Of course, not all back-to-the-landers chose to live in communes. The majority homesteaded. Nonetheless, as Canadian Countercultures and the Environment illustrates, commune-dwellers and non-commune-dwellers shared many utopian and environmental perspectives and experiences. As Coates points out, much of the environmental consciousness that was proposed as counterculture alternatives no longer occupies such a fringe status. The counterculture by no means invented bicycling and recycling, to take two of the issues covered in this collection, but they did popularize both, and they invested strong ecological ethics in the practices. Many current issues can be traced back to their efforts: countercultural support helped to popularize organic farming, controls on harmful chemicals, new attitudes to the human body (particularly in relation to childbirth), concerns about pollution and environmental sustainability, and critiques of technology. All of these have become much more mainstream today than they were in the 1960s. While the counterculture may not have exclusive claim on the parameters of current environmentalist debate, their perspectives created new ethical positions concerning these issues.

The Canadian counterculture was rooted in worldwide youth culture and oppositional stances. While the counterculture emphasized individualities, a larger picture of shared environmentalism developed. Participants engaged with the state – meaning local, provincial, and federal levels in the Canadian context – in an attempt to achieve their aims. Some embraced new technologies, while others eschewed them. They revitalized concepts of land stewardship that remain fixed in agrarian practices.

Like many social movements, the counterculture looked both backward and forward, and its views of the environment reflected both tendencies. Moving back to the land implied returning to a voluntary simplicity, like that proposed by Thoreau in the nineteenth century. John Douglas's rural idyll in northern Ontario in 1967 looked back to a time before electrical water pumps and forward to a spiritual and economic self-sufficiency that entailed a new ecological appreciation. Other members of the counterculture tried to fashion appropriate technologies that would permit sustainable living. As the counterculture foresaw, finding a balance between technology and environment remains one of the most pressing issues facing the world today.

Canadian Countercultures and the Environment draws on Coates research on Canadian utopian settlements, and therefore it accentuates the experiences of counterculture communes.

History / U.S. / Civil Rights / Activism

Black Power in the Bluff City: African American Youth and Student Activism in Memphis, 1965–1975, 1st edition by Shirletta J. Kinchen (The University of Tennessee Press)

While Black Power activism on the coasts and in the Midwest has attracted considerable scholarly attention, much less has been written about the movement’s impact outside these hotbeds. In Black Power in the Bluff City, Shirletta J. Kinchen helps redress that imbalance by examining how young Memphis activists, like Coby Smith and Charles Cabbage, dissatisfied by the pace of progress in a city emerging from the Jim Crow era, embraced Black Power ideology to confront such challenges as gross disparities in housing, education, and employment as well as police brutality and harassment. Two closely related Black Power organizations, the Black Organizing Project and the Invaders, became central to the local black youth movement in the late 1960s. Kinchen traces these groups’ participation in the 1968 sanitation workers’ strike – including the controversy over whether their activities precipitated events that culminated in Martin Luther King’s assassination – and their subsequent involvement in War on Poverty programs. Black Power in the Bluff City also shows how Black Power ideology drove activism at the historically black LeMoyne-Owen College, scene of a 1968 administration-building takeover, and at the predominately white Memphis State University, where African American students transformed the campus by creating parallel institutions that helped strengthen black student camaraderie and consciousness in the face of marginalization.
Drawing on interviews with activists, FBI files, newspaper accounts from the period, and many other sources, Kinchen shows not only how an emerging generation helped define the black freedom struggle in Memphis but also how they applied the tenets of Black Power to shape the broader community. Kinchen is an assistant professor in the Pan-African Studies Department at the University of Louisville.

Although Black Power, in comparison to other political and social movements in Memphis, was a fringe movement, Memphians felt the impact of Black Power, whether many referred specifically to the movement or not. Black Power in the Bluff City examines how Memphis youth, who came of age during the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s and were influenced by the impact of the national movement for Black Power, allowed local politics and local circumstances to inform their campus and community activism. Black Power in the Bluff City asks: In what way does knowing how Black Power functioned on a micro level inform readers of its impact at the macro level? As in other parts of the country, African American college students and youth organizations in Memphis subscribed to, borrowed from, and amended Black Power ideology to suit their local struggles. In essence, by examining the Black Power activism of students and youth at the local level, Black Power in the Bluff City attempts to draw out the ways in which these youth and students localized the national movement. Youth activists protested and organized using an array of moderate and radical approaches, infusing elements of Black Power ideology to confront and change local conditions on their campuses and in the community. Youth and students were fundamental to the movement and arguably at its center. Historians of both the civil rights and Black Power movements have framed the discourse between traditional civil rights leadership and Black Power activists not only as a reflection of differing politics but also as a generational divide between elder civil rights activists and young Black Power radicals like Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown, and Fred Hampton.

Black Power in the Bluff City engages the period from 1965 to 1975 not only because it marks the apex of the Black Power movement but also because it represents a political reawakening of sorts for youth and student activism in the city. In the aftermath of the successes of Memphis's sit-in movement initiated by local activists in the early 1960s, a lull in student and youth organizing occurred.

Through what Kinchen calls indigenous insurgency – militant grass-roots activism – a homegrown student and youth movement developed in the early 1960s, declined in the middle of the decade, and reemerged toward the end of the decade. With little to no assistance from outsiders, the black freedom movement in Memphis was genuinely a local movement but primarily spearheaded, led, and shaped by older, more experienced activists. However, while influenced by the activism of the NAACP and neighborhood civic clubs or neighborhood grassroots political organizations such as the Shelby County Democratic Club, Bluff City Civic Club, the Binghampton Civic Club, and the Shelby County Council of Civic Clubs, among others, Memphis youth attempted to place their own imprint on the movement on high school and college campuses and through community organizing.

In addition to examining the role of youth in the Black Power era, Black Power in the Bluff City further provides an opportunity to explore how Black Power operated outside the spaces generally considered the hotbeds of the movement. By situating this story in Memphis, this effort investigates the spatial and regional differences that exist within Black Power studies. The book provides a different regional context to examine the dynamics of the movement – specifically, Black Power in the South – which is not simply a story of armed resistance and self-defense protective groups, but also a story of how activists, in ways similar to those in other areas of the nation, engaged every aspect of Black Power organizing and thought.

Black Power in the Bluff City asks: How did students and youth in Memphis conceive of, define, interpret, and ultimately navigate Black Power? At the most basic level, it asks: What did the movement mean – and, importantly, what did their movement mean?

Like Black Power radicals around the nation, BOP espoused self-determination and argued that black people should have more control of their communities. They railed against police brutality and poverty, and they challenged inadequacies in housing, education, and employment opportunities. They also advocated black empowerment through economic and political channels, expressed solidarity with the anticolonial movement, and on several levels they promoted race pride and race consciousness. Other black Memphis college students agitated for more control and influence in campus decision making, engaging more moderate Black Power politics in order to change campus dynamics.

Through the activism of youth and students in Memphis, Black Power in the Bluff City shows the diversity of the Black Power experience and how these groups both embraced and challenged the conventional understanding of what people generally refer to as Black Power.

Chapter 1 of Black Power in the Bluff City examines youth and student activism in the early 1960s, prior to the height of the Black Power movement. In particular, the aim of this chapter is to examine how the new crop of black middle-class leadership in post-Brown v. Board of Education Memphis created a new space for black activism that the city's youth in the early 1960s used to alter the town's racial dynamics. In turn, once it successfully challenged the city's segregation ordinances, youth activism of the same veracity and tenor essentially dissipated. The chapter concludes with an examination of what that void in youth activism meant for the group of students and youth Kinchen labels Memphis's ‘Black Power generation.’

Chapter 2 introduces the Black Organizing Project and the Invaders, two student and community youth Black Power organizations that became central to the entire black youth movement in the late 1960s. This chapter describes their origin and their Black Power program. Central to chapter 2 is an examination of the interplay between the youth activism and the more established civil rights organizations in the city. This is detailed primarily through their involvement with the 1968 sanitation workers' strike.

Chapter 3 of Black Power in the Bluff City continues the story of the Black Organizing Project and the Invaders after the 1968 sanitation strike and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Following failed attempts to position themselves among the city's traditional black leadership via their participation in organizing during the strike, the organizations embraced liberal politics and specifically President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty program to further their Black Power agenda. In the summer of 1968, through the War on Poverty, BOP and the Invaders managed the summer program, the Neighborhood Organizing Project. This chapter traces their involvement with that program and their previous experience with War on Poverty organizing, ending with an exploration of the efficacy of the program and ultimately the efficacy of the organizations themselves.

Chapters 4 and 5 shift the examination of Black Power from the larger Memphis community to an exploration of the ways in which students engaged the movement on two of the city's college campuses – LeMoyne-Owen College and Memphis State University. Chapter 4 not only assesses how stu­dents employed Black Power as an organizing strategy but how those students, in conjunction with the Invaders during a November 1968 administration building takeover at LeMoyne-Owen, used Black Power to hold the historically black college accountable not only for its treatment of students but also for its relationship to the surrounding African American community. Chapter 5 largely discusses the origins of the Memphis State Black Student Association and the development of black student consciousness and identity on the predominately white campus. After the institution was desegregated in 1959, African American students struggled to find a foothold in the campus community and in doing so created parallel institutions and organizations that helped strengthen black student camaraderie and consciousness in the face of increasing marginalization and under-representation of black life and culture on the campus. As a result, black students showed their resolve when, during a 1969 administration building sit-in, they refused to leave and were subsequently arrested. Finally, chapter 5 details how, through their understanding and engagement of Black Power, the student activists were able to transform the campus.

Black Power in the Bluff City concludes with an epilogue that examines the legacy of student and youth organizing and the Black Power generation in Memphis. It carries the story of their activism in Memphis into the 1970s, where a noticeable change – and, in some instances, a decline – in overt activism occurred. This in many ways also mirrors the story of the movement at the national level. The epilogue also introduces for the first time the exploits of the Memphis chapter of the Black Panther Party and in so doing brings the story of the Black Organizing Project, the Invaders, and student and youth organizing during the Black Power era in Memphis full circle. The Black Panther Party itself was undergoing a period of transition when the Memphis chapter organized, resulting in a dearth not only of scholarly attention to the Memphis chapter but also of important source materials that do justice to simply telling the chapter's story alone. This leaves space for future scholars of the Black Panther Party and the Black Power movement to investigate the impact of this chapter.

The pages in Black Power in the Bluff City present several ways in which youth and students explicitly and implicitly localized, adopted, adapted, and tailored Black Power philosophy to suit their specific conditions. This is not a story of a city engulfed in a Black Power revolution, nor is it a story of how Black Power triumphed over the moderate politics of the city's white and black establishment. Instead, what this book does show is how Memphis youth and students presented an alternative view of Black Power politics away from the national spotlight, while also suggesting not only how an emerging generation defined the black freedom struggle but also how they applied Black Power to subtly shape the broader community.

History / US / Politics

9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America: And Four Who Tried to Save Her by Brion McClanahan (Regnery History)

According to historian Brion McClanahan, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Founding Fathers and The Founding Fathers' Guide to the Constitution, America is well on her way to becoming a banana republic. With presidents signing patently unconstitutional legislation, refusing to enforce laws they don’t like, and even making appointments without the advice and consent of the Senate, it is clear that our federal Republic is hanging by a thread. And yet the chances that a president who has flouted our founding document and the rule of law will be impeached are slim to none.
Americans seem to have resigned themselves to the exact form of government that the framers and ratifiers of our Constitution feared most: the tyranny of an elected monarch. The executive branch of the U.S. federal government has grown so far beyond the bounds set for it in the Constitution that Americans can no longer claim to govern themselves. But how did we get here? Step by unconstitutional step, according to McClanahan in 9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America. McClanahan is a history professor at Chattahoochee Valley Community College and a faculty member at Tom Woods' Liberty Classroom.

McClanahan explains that a proper understanding of the president's limited powers under the Constitution is extremely important when it comes to determining what makes a great president, giving American voters a new perspective as the next election approaches. He dives into the history of all past executive leaders, showing how even the most respected and popular presidents have violated the Constitution throughout their presidency.

In 9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America, McClanahan provides a different view of the presidents we commonly celebrate, idolize, and commemorate, explaining that abuse of the Constitution and the overgrowth of the executive branch's power began long before President Barack Obama took office. The unexpected executive leaders who created the blueprint for this executive abuse include Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Andrew Jackson, highlighting that no one is off limits in McClanahan's ranking of the list.

In 9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America, readers discover:

  • Lincoln violated the Constitution because as commander in chief he believed he had to ‘subdue the enemy,’ no matter the collateral damage. His violations created a blueprint for more executive abuse in the future.
  • By the time Obama leaves office in 2017, Americans will have suffered under twenty-eight consecutive years of unconstitutional executive usurpation of power.
  • Over a two-year period, the Obama administration delayed the implementation of the Affordable Care Act twenty-eight times, ostensibly to give employers time to comply with the law. This was a blatantly unconstitutional power grab by the executive office.
  • History has shown that presidents tend to abuse their power in their second term, and that the best presidents tend to serve less than eight years in office.

McClanahan’s ranking of the presidents is surprising – because he judges them on this standard: whether or not they kept their oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The nine presidents who screwed up America are Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, and Barack Obama. The four who tried to save her include Thomas Jefferson, John Tyler, Grover Cleveland, and Calvin Coolidge. The book concludes with a section called ‘What Can Be Done?’

There are hundreds of books on the American presidency. This is the most original one you will ever read. – Clyde N. Wilson, distinguished professor of history emeritus, University of South Carolina

This is an insightful study which presents well McClanahan's characterizations of thirteen presidents, four praised, nine castigated as dangerous to freedom. Readers may differ with him on a few of his conclusions, but everyone committed to freedom within an orderly and just society should read it. – John Pafford, professor of history at Northwood University and author of Cleveland: The Forgotten Conservative and John Jay: The Forgotten Founder

Congratulations to Brion McClanahan. As a true American historian, he tells the truth about the rogues' gallery of U.S. presidents, who have stolen our freedoms, and killed millions in the process. And what great prose! – Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr., founding chairman of the Ludwig von Mises Institute

Every once in a while American historians will be polled regarding the men they consider the greatest presidents. Without fail, they choose those people most dedicated to the expansion of government. In this outstanding book, Brion McClanahan blasts these historians to smithereens, and reveals the true history of the dangerous men who are known as our great presidents. It’s about time someone did! – Tom Woods, author of Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century and The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to American History
This book is both a fascinating read by a master historian and a necessary guide for any voter.
– Kevin R. C. Gutzman, author of James Madison and the Making of America and The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to the Constitution
Mr. McClanahan has a hit on his hands, or should. He lays out a case, in plain English, how each of nine presidents ‘Screwed up’ our country. It is a fascinating and factual accounting of presidential usurpation of power...This book is entertaining and educational – a feat which is all too difficult to achieve. I must say, I am smarter for reading it. – Brent Smith, The Daily Caller
Brion McClanahan presents a masterful and superbly-scholarly discussion of how nine presidents, beginning with George Washington himself, effectively destroyed constitutional government. – Thomas DiLorenzo, LewRockwell.com

9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America is a new look back at American history that unabashedly places blame for our nation's current problems on the backs of flawed men. McClanahan surprises readers with his list of the nine who made mistakes that permanently scarred the nation, which he supports with exhaustive and entertaining evidence.

Home & Garden / Crafts & Hobbies

Pure Soapmaking: How to Create Nourishing, Natural Skin Care Soaps by Anne-Marie Faiola (Storey Publishing LLC)

The pure luxury of soaps made with coconut butter, almond oil, aloe vera, oatmeal, and green tea is one of life’s little pleasures. And with the help of author Anne-Marie Faiola, it’s easy to make luscious, all-natural soaps. Spiral-bound, Pure Soapmaking is a collection of 32 recipes ranging from simple castile bars to intricate swirls, embeds, and marbled and layered looks. Readers begin with a combination of skin-nourishing oils and then add blueberry puree, dandelion-infused water, almond milk, coffee grounds, mango and avocado butters, black tea, or other delicious ingredients – and then scent their soap with pure essential oils. Step-by-step photography guides them through every stage of cold-process soapmaking.

Nourishing oils, healing fragrances, vitamin- and mineral-rich milks, nuts, and herbs: these ingredients turn a routine shower into an organic spa experience. In Pure Soapmaking, Anne-Marie Faiola teaches crafters, natural health and beauty enthusiasts, and DIY-ers the art of creating natural luxury soap with 32 luscious formulas that are as gorgeous as they are healthful. Faiola is the author of Soap Crafting and the owner of BrambleBerry, a company that sells soapmaking supplies.

With step-by-step photography guiding the way, Pure Soapmaking leads readers through the chemistry of cold-process soapmaking, the properties of the ingredients, and how to create beautiful designs based on color palette, shape, and consistency. The featured recipes encompass a wide range of varieties, from the invigorating Coffee Swirl to the lycopene-packed Layered Tomato swirl soap and the dainty and vitamin-rich Egg Yolk Secret-Feather soap; readers can choose the formulas and designs they like or use the recipes as a springboard to formulate their own custom creations.

Handmade soap lathers and cleanses just as well as commercial soap but doesn't have harsh ingredients, and crafters can mix and match the ingredients to come up with a soap that is just right for them.

With homemade soaps, they control the additives. Ingredients such as coffee grounds and crushed walnut shells add gentle exfoliating power. Oatmeal can provide soothing relief for itchiness. Infused oils provide extra moisturizing and calming properties for difficult skin. Having a pharmacopoeia of custom-made natural soap ingredients means they can create the best product for their skin, using different formulas as needed. Pure Soapmaking contains over 30 fully tested recipes for almost every skin type and occasion.

One reason to make one’s own soap is that it's an environmentally sound practice. In the past few years, an entire population of soapmakers has picked up the hobby and even entered the business of soapmaking because they were concerned about a variety of issues, including the use of phosphates, which are linked to algae bloom in rivers and streams. Many people also wanted to use ingredients that had not been tested on animals and did not threaten natural resources.

Even using all-natural ingredients can have an environmental impact to consider. For instance, more than half of the recipes in Pure Soapmaking are made without palm oil for those who are concerned about the link between palm oil production and the declining ecosystem of orangutans.

Making soap with or without palm oil is a personal choice; while it is possible to soap without palm oil, there is often a trade-off for bar hardness and lather. One option is to purchase certified sustainable palm oil to use in soapmaking. Knowing the source of ingredients allows crafters to make products exactly the way they want them, and make them in good conscience.

Another consideration is the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in producing some oils commonly used in cosmetics. There are many non-GMO options for oils and ingredients. Two oils that are commonly GMO are soybean oil and canola oil.

But most of all, according to Pure Soapmaking, making beautiful soap is just plain fun. Creating something useful and beautiful out of ordinary ingredients brings a thrill like no other. Being able to say, "I made it" is inspiring and delightful. Even better, soap is a consumable art form: the more they make, the more they can use, give away, or sell. And once it's used up, they can make more. It is a never-ending creative cycle.

This book has everything you need for success. From buttermilk to alkanet root, and from swirls to layers, and everything in between, you'll be making amazing natural soap in no time. A great addition to your soapy library! – Donna Maria Coles Johnson, Founder and CEO, Indie Business Network

A must-have resource. Perfect for new and advanced soapmakers alike! – Kenna Cote, Modern Soapmaking

 From a master of original, creative soap design and a leader in the soapmaking community, Pure Soapmaking is an exciting resource for both new and experienced soapmakers as well as the growing number of people interested in creating their own natural bodycare products. Drawing on an imaginative palette of organic ingredients, Faiola's recipes will inspire health-conscious crafters to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

Law / Criminal

Don't Go to Jail!: Saul Goodman's Guide to Keeping the Cuffs Off by Saul Goodman, as told to Steven E. Huff (Thomas Dunne Books)

According to lawyer Saul Goodman in Don't Go to Jail!, there are some crazy laws out there. For example, in New Mexico there’s a law that says ‘idiots’ can’t vote. Massachusetts still has a ban on Quakers and witches. And in Georgia it’s illegal to put a donkey in a bathtub.

Even if readers are not bathing a donkey, they could be breaking the law right now and not even know it. That’s why they need Don't Go to Jail! They can carry the advice of a seasoned legal practitioner with them anywhere they go, helping them stay out of the courts and in the good graces of the criminal justice system. This book is their opportunity to get those tips and more bits of indispensable legal advice – all for much less than Goodman’s usual hourly fee.

In this topsy-turvy economy, Goodman says he’s always open to new business. He says he figured he would take a different lawyer tack and put something out there that tells prospective clients more about how he might approach the job of representing them, sprinkling in a few of his perspectives on life, the law … and everything else.

Starting with ‘privilege.’ Don't Go to Jail! is privileged. Unless readers are picking it up at the library, it counts as the proverbial dollar in his pocket, and everything he tells readers is just privileged.

Goodman fills Don't Go to Jail! with thoughts for readers’ application and enjoyment. The law itself is a disorienting clown show of the random and the insanely, restrictively organized. He says that if he is being truthful – he is amazed the law works as well as it does. It can feel like the legal system is just one seemingly pointless new statute or one crazed Supreme Court ruling away from completely falling apart. The law can be completely bonkers, but it still works. Attorneys are one of the big reasons why. They are scurrying along the battlements and manning cannons: when readers ‘lawyer up’, they have a kind of soldier on their side.

Don't Go to Jail! doesn't detail legal strategies and it also doesn't delve into just how much slow, tedious work can go into the legal trade. The book is one guy's look at how it works, from his own perspective. Sometimes the law doesn't quite serve everyone as it should. Too often, the law works against the regular guy. It is set up to work to the state's advantage. People laugh about attorneys who put their faces on bus benches and make flashy commercials, but they aren't aiming at the country club set. Those people have white shoe firms on retainer, one quick phone call away. Small practices scrapping away are doing it for the folks who work in the country clubs. Who ride a bus or two to get to the daily grind. That is where Goodman puts his face – right where those noble Americans can see it and rest their weary backs. Lawyers like him aren't superheroes, no, but they are doing a job plenty of other attorneys turn down in order to pursue the scent of that sweet, sweet corporate green. The system sucks and someone has to fight it on their behalf. Goodman says he is that guy.

Goodman of Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad offers his own particular brand of down-to-earth legal advice in Don't Go to Jail!.
Literature & Fiction / Spanish

The Weeping Woman: A Novel by Zoé Valdés, translated from the Spanish by David Frye (Arcade Publishing)

My world fell apart the first time I wept in front of Picasso over something less than poetic; that was when I ceased to be the lover, the mother, the companion, and was reduced to the weeping woman. ‘Reduced’ is just a way of putting it; actually he exalted me by imagining me as invariably tearful, endlessly weepy. – Dora Maar, from the book

Winner of the prestigious Azorín Prize for Fiction, The Weeping Woman is the best-selling novel about love, sacrifice, and Picasso's mistress, Dora Maar.
A writer resembling Zoé Valdés – a Cuban exile living in Paris with her husband and young daughter – is preparing a novel on the life of Dora Maar, one of the most promising artists in the Surrealist movement until she met Pablo Picasso. The middle-aged Picasso was already the god of the art world's avant-garde. Dora became his lover, muse, and ultimately, his victim. She became The Weeping Woman captured in his famous portrait, the mistress he betrayed with other mistress-muses, and their affair ended with her commitment to an asylum at the hands of Picasso's friends.
The writer's research centers on a mysterious trip to Venice that Dora took fifteen years later, in the company of two young gay men who were admirers of Picasso, including the biographer James Lord. After this episode, Dora cut off contact with the world and secluded herself in her Paris apartment until her death. "After Picasso, God," she would say. What happened in Venice? The more the writer investigates, the more she finds herself implicated in a story of passion taken to the extremes.

Valdés was born in Cuba in 1959 and has lived in exile in France since 1995. Once dubbed "the Madonna of Cuban literature," she is the acclaimed author of several novels, including Yocandra in the Paradise of Nada and I Gave You All I Had. Besides being awarded the 2013 Azorín Prize for The Weeping Woman, she has won the Planeta Prize and the Premio de Novela Ciudad de Torrevieja. She received the Tres Llaves (Three Keys) to the city of Miami in 2001.

Valdés illuminates the beautiful, passionate, tumultuous woman that inspired three of Picasso's most famous paintings: Portrait of Dora Maar (1937), The Weeping Woman (1937), and Woman Dressing Her Hair (1940) created during the violence of World War II. As Dora converses with the writer, her memories reveal her contradictions: her loveliness but also her flaws, her admiration for Picasso but also hatred, her brilliance as a Surrealist photographer but her shortcomings in meeting his expectations. The Weeping Woman is an immersive experience in artists', Picasso's, Dora's, and their peers', out-of-the-box thinking inspired by challenging ethics and nontraditional logic.

The Weeping Woman interweaves present and past with intelligence and humor ... Many of the leading Parisian avant-gardists – Guillaume Apollinaire, Leonor Fini, Juan Gris, Max Jacob, Wifredo Lam, André Lhote, Kiki de Montparnasse, Man Ray – are conjured with fidelity and charm. – The New York Times Book Review
We are steeped in the history, drama, and even mundaneness of the Surrealist era, with a colorful cast of characters that includes Man Ray, Paul Éluard, and the master himself, Picasso.... Valdés reveals Maar to be more than just Picasso’s model for his portrait
The Weeping Woman but an inspiring artist in her own right. – Booklist
Zoé Valdés rescues Dora Maar from Picasso's clutches. – ABC
(Spain)
The Weeping Woman is a book about 'someone who separates herself from her work to dedicate herself to genius.’ – El País

In The Weeping Woman, prize-winning novelist Valdés narrates the journey of a woman who would do anything and everything for love. Valdes delivers a poignant work.

Political Science / International Relations / China / Foreign Policy

China's Troubled Waters: Maritime Disputes in Theoretical Perspective by Steve Chan (Cambridge University Press)

China's unsettled maritime frontier has been in the news lately. Its disputes with Japan in the East China Sea and with several Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea have caused occasional confrontations that threaten to destabilize their respective relations. In addition to these disputes, Taiwan's fate has been the subject of a longstanding controversy that has the potential of involving the United States in a military conflict with China.

How are China's ongoing sovereignty disputes in the East and South China Seas likely to evolve? Are relations across the Taiwan Strait poised to enter a new period of relaxation or tension? How are economic interdependence, domestic public opinion, and the deterrence role played by the US likely to affect China's relations with its counterparts in these disputes? Although territorial disputes have been the leading cause for interstate wars in the past, China has settled most of its land borders with its neighbors. Its maritime boundaries, however, have remained contentious. China's Troubled Waters examines China's conduct in these maritime disputes in order to analyze Beijing's foreign policy intentions in general. Rather than studying Chinese motives in isolation, Steve Chan uses recent theoretical and empirical insights from international relations research to analyze China's management of its maritime disputes. Chan is College Professor of Distinction at the University of Colorado Boulder.

According to Chan in China's Troubled Waters, almost all existing studies on these maritime disputes involving China have adopted an idiographic approach. In this approach, an analyst undertakes a qualitative study that focuses on the more unique or specific aspects of the situation or actor being studied. There is usually little interest in reaching beyond this case in order to either discern patterns from similar past episodes or situate this case in a broader comparative context.

China's Troubled Waters takes an opposite tack. It analyzes China's maritime disputes in the context of its own other border conflicts and that of cross-national patterns. It takes advantage of existing literatures emphasizing attention to classes of events rather than specific episodes. This approach is interested in empirical generalizations. It does not need to be just based on statistical analyses and can involve, for example, comparative case studies pertaining to the same actor or different ones.

Chan in China's Troubled Waters introduces evidence from this research tradition in order to inform our understanding of China's maritime disputes. At the same time, Chan applies knowledge about the Chinese case to interrogate several popular theories of international relations, such as democratic peace and power transition. These intentions in turn mean that China's Troubled Waters does not dwell on descriptive accounts or journalistic narratives of ‘who did what to whom.’ Chan pursues the nomothetic approach, which emphasizes patterns of behavior and classes of phenomena, or empirical generalizations for members of an aggregate group. The orientation and emphasis he has chosen argue that the substantive, policy, and theoretical issues addressed in this book pertain to more than just China and its maritime disputes. They have broader implications for making causal attributions and policy inferences about other countries as well.

Democracy has also often been suggested as the key determinant of future Sino-American relations. Although the democratic peace theory demonstrates that democracies do not fight each other, there is also good reason to expect that ceteris paribus, the larger a selectorate, the smaller a leader's negotiation space to reach a foreign deal. More intense intra-elite competition and more influential public opinion are likely to impede rather than enhance a government's ability and willingness to compromise on salient foreign policy issues. Of course, Taiwan's democracy has also been routinely invoked as an important reason motivating US support for it. Yet this support has clearly predated Taiwan's democratization, and thus does not appear to be conditional upon this variable. In fact, US support has waned over time even as Taiwan has become more democratic.

As for power shifts, although many recent analyses have dwelled on China's relative gains in military and economic capabilities, and have inferred from this development that Beijing will therefore adopt a more assertive and even coercive foreign policy, the historical association between these variables has tended to point in the opposite direction. Beijing's foreign policy was much more bellicose when it was weaker in the 1950s and 1960s, and it has become more conciliatory and cooperative when it has become stronger in the recent past.

When the People's Republic has enjoyed greater relative power in a dispute, it has been less inclined to use force – a tendency that clearly contradicts the expectation of those who worry that a stronger China will be a more aggressive China.

As for China's Troubled Waters' general implications for policy inference, how can one discern a state's future intentions? Given its rising capabilities, foreign analysts and officials are naturally becoming more interested in learning about how Beijing will be disposed to use its capabilities. Historically, states have acted toward extant or aspiring hegemons not so much based on their assessments of these countries' power but rather based on their perceptions of these countries' intentions or motivations. Will these powerful countries apply their strength in a restrained and even benevolent way, or will they use it wantonly for selfish aggrandizement?

Beijing's conduct in its border disputes can be especially informative about its general foreign policy disposition, as territorial conflicts have historically been the most common reason for states to fight. If China pursues mutual accommodation in these conflicts even after its capabilities have improved, this behavior tends to communicate a peaceful disposition. Conversely, if it resorts to coercion, this behavior will point to an aggressive disposition. Beijing has concluded border agreements with most of its continental neighbors, but its maritime frontier remains unsettled. Jurisdictional disputes in the East and South China Seas have occasionally roiled its relations with Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Even though relations across the Taiwan Strait have improved significantly in recent years, this case of contested sovereignty presents the most likely situation for a large armed conflict and one that could potentially involve the United States. Studying China's conduct in these maritime disputes is therefore pertinent to a practical concern for conflict mitigation in addition to providing an analytic leverage to gauge Beijing's foreign policy intentions in general. Chan is specifically interested in those conditions that are likely to affect the persistence, escalation, or settlement of China's maritime disputes, which constitute the dependent variable of this analysis. At the same time, China's behavior in these disputes sheds light on a larger question. It serves as a window to study Beijing's general disposition in conducting its foreign relations, and this book is therefore not just about its maritime disputes.

Declining to treat China as sui generis, Chan argues in China's Troubled Waters that we can look to general theories of international relations, cross-national patterns of behavior, and historical parallels to advance our understanding of the Chinese case.

Generally speaking, the dynamics and incentives illuminated by these perspectives suggest that Beijing is likely to bide its time and refrain from resorting to violence in order to impose a settlement in its maritime disputes. Its current and most likely posture for the immediate future can be best described as ‘reactive assertiveness’. It is disposed to postpone the resolution of its disputes and continue normal relations with its counterparts, but will push back forcefully if in its view its counterparts have sought to alter the status quo unilaterally. Significantly, this characterization puts Beijing in the role of a defender that seeks to deter unwanted initiatives from others, not a role that it is customarily assigned to in much of the current discourse, which depicts it as a revisionist challenger to the existing international order.

Chan’s interpretation and prognosis in China's Troubled Waters recognizes that China is gaining increasing military and economic capabilities. This ongoing change will obviously give it more influence in the Asia Pacific. Significantly and contrary to conventional wisdom, a stronger and thus more confident China is likely to be less inclined to use force. China's peaceful settlement of most of its territorial disputes, the rising levels of economic interdependence among the disputing countries, and Beijing's general disposition to wait for conditions to mature rather than forcing issues right away should augur for continuing peace and stability in the region. There will be occasions when tensions will rise and tempers flare. But it is questionable that a rising China will necessarily threaten its neighbors and destabilize the region.

Naturally, this view contradicts the expectations of offensive realism and power-transition theory, both of which predict that a rising China will be expansionist and a source of instability in interstate relations. Indeed, the logic of Chan’s argument suggests that so long as Beijing expects to sustain its upward power trajectory, it will likely continue to act as a conservative power motivated largely by a desire to preserve its gains. Conversely, a China in trouble or disarray is likely to be more risk-prone in trying to prevent or reverse its perceived losses. Such a China will be more insecure and more bellicose.

Steve Chan has produced a theoretically and empirically rich book on China's territorial dispute behaviour and the possible trajectories it may take in the future. It nicely synthesizes existing literature on the subject while offering many thoughtful suggestions for a cautious approach for all concerned states. – T. V. Paul, James McGill Professor of International Relations, McGill University, and editor of Accommodating Rising Powers: Past, Present and the Future

China's Troubled Waters examines in detail China’s conduct in the maritime disputes in order to analyze Beijing’s foreign policy intentions in general. Rather than studying Chinese motives in isolation, Chan uses recent theoretical and empirical insights from international relations research to analyze China’s management of its maritime disputes. The historical pattern of its foreign conduct suggests that it has become less bellicose and more moderate as its international position has strengthened over time.

Religion & Spirituality / Christianity

Apostle: Travels among the Tombs of the Twelve by Tom Bissell (Pantheon Books)

Peter, Matthew, Thomas, John: Who were these men? What was their relationship to Jesus? Tom Bissell in Apostle provides surprising answers to these ancient, elusive questions. He examines not just who these men were (and weren’t), but also how their identities have taken shape over the course of two millennia. Bissell is the author of eight previous books, most recently The Disaster Artist, and has been awarded the Rome Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Apostle is a moving journey into the heart of Christianity that explores the mysterious and often paradoxical lives and legacies of the Twelve Apostles – a book both for those of the faith and for others who seek to understand Christianity from the outside in. Ultimately, Bissell finds that the story of the apostles is the story of early Christianity: its competing versions of Jesus’ ministry, its countless schisms, and its ultimate evolution from an obscure Jewish sect to the global faith we know today in all its forms and permutations. As told in Apostle, in his quest to understand the underpinnings of the world’s largest religion, Bissell embarks on a years-long pilgrimage to the supposed tombs of the Twelve Apostles. He travels from Jerusalem and Rome to Turkey, Greece, Spain, France, India, and Kyrgyzstan, capturing the rich diversity of Christianity’s worldwide reach. Along the way, he engages with a host of characters – priests, paupers, a Vatican archaeologist, a Palestinian taxi driver, a Russian monk – posing questions that range from the religious to the philosophical and to the political.

[Bissell’s] account of his travels is an excellent cornucopia of history, exegesis, travelogue, biography, analysis, corrective, and hilarity… Bissell includes questions, definitions, traveler’s tales, and sprightly interviews with the pilgrims, translators, and docents he meets, and these bolster his Bible commentaries; his accounts are always grounded in his meetings with scholars and church fathers. Even if readers don’t care about the apostles, Bissell’s style is compelling on its own. His unforced humor is delightful, his wealth of research grounds this formidable apostolic project, and his crafty rhetoric and irresistible charm make it a must-read. – Publishers Weekly, starred review
A deep dive into the heart of the New Testament, crossing continents and cross-referencing texts… On the page, Bissell finds the Gospels to be a vast, crazy quilt on which every jot and tittle is suspect, from proper names to history, due to both the vagaries of oral tradition as well as the varying translations and competing agendas of copyists, scribes, and leaders. The author examines all these controversies in scholarly depth. Was there really a Judas? Was John actually the Beloved Disciple of history, or was that someone else? Was James actually the stepbrother of Jesus? Were the Gospels written as a reaction to the fact that the second coming did not immediately occur? As a long-lapsed Catholic, Bissell's driving concern is why people still believe… Illuminating… A rich, contentious, and challenging book. – Kirkus, starred review
Well-documented, with an extensive bibliography, this is a full-bodied read for the religiously curious. – Sandra Collins, Library Journal 

Written with warmth, empathy, and rare acumen, Apostle is a brilliant synthesis of travel writing, biblical history, and a deep, lifelong relationship with Christianity. The result is an unusual, erudite, and at times hilarious book – a religious, intellectual, and personal adventure fit for believers, scholars, and wanderers alike.

Religion & Spirituality / Christianity / Theology

Spiritual and Religious: Explorations for Seekers by Roger Haight (Orbis Books)

Noting that the commonly expressed dichotomy between spirituality and religion is often a false one, esteemed scholar Roger Haight argues that religion, church, and church structures all have their source and ground in spirituality. Haight is a Jesuit priest and Scholar in Residence at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America.

The broad range of topics explored in the essays in Spiritual and Religious befits Haight’s turn in recent years toward the interests of a seeking, questioning generation that finds more fruit in spirituality than in dogmatic religion. He also addresses interreligious dialogue, the uniqueness of the American church, and the connections between science and religion, among other topics.

Haight notes that most of the essays in Spiritual and Religious were written during the last six or seven years when he was preoccupied with spirituality. He says he has always felt that theology that did not have a bearing on spirituality lacked relevance and was somehow detached from its basic purpose. These essays try to make clear that religion, church, and church structure have their source and ground in spirituality. Most of these essays address spirituality directly, and the others have their mooring in the Christian life.

A number of reasons account for this shift from theology to spirituality as a discipline and a project. Haight talks about the category of ‘seeker.’ Seekers are both inside and outside Christianity and other religions. They have left their church, or joined a new denomination or another religion, or are where they were but in a newly precarious way. ‘Seekers’ describes a wide spectrum of people. Yet, from certain perspectives, the category can be construed positively: it indicates a space that is uncomfortable but potentially generative.

Another problem is much more specific and can be designated as the relationship between religion and science. The classical Christian doctrines were formulated within the context of a comparatively simple conception of the universe. One needs only to scratch the surface of classical Christian doctrines with a few critical questions from the current scientific perspective on reality to show the enormous gap between traditional language and today's intellectual culture.

Finally, a major question for Christian theology revolves around finding a way to reconcile the classical doctrines about the absolute­ness or definitiveness of Jesus Christ and Christianity with the new open and positive appreciation of other religions that increasingly prevails today. How are Christians to regard other religions and their mediators of salvation? Can this be done positively, not only in a way that is faithful to the Christian tradition, but also in a way that appeals to that very tradition? Haight says these problem areas are addressed in the essays in Spiritual and Religious. But more importantly, he sees the turn to the category of spirituality as uniquely fitted to addressing them.

The essays in Spiritual and Religious move back and forth between spirituality and religion. For the most part they explicitly turn to the idea of spirituality as a way of getting into the meaning and relevance of religious language. Sometimes the underlying existential conception of spirituality remains implicit, and he does not formally appeal to it. Because these essays were conceived independently of one another for different audiences, and yet are based on a common logic, they contain a considerable amount of repetition. The idea of spirituality is defined again and again in different essays. While this may be a distraction, Haight emphasizes that he is not writing theology but spirituality. He also appeals to the way the prior and grounding reality of spirituality gives rise though development to public reflective interpretation of transcendent realities, to more careful formulation of beliefs, and to the organization of a community by institutional offices and roles. This helps to reinforce the priority of spirituality to developed institutional forms that is the major premise underlying these essays.

The first two essays in Spiritual and Religious go directly to a discussion of spirituality. They explain an understanding of spirituality that positions it at the center of intentional human existence. This becomes the premise of the whole book; it allows spirituality to play a role that is analogous to the category of ‘experience’ in much of modern theology. Spirituality is prior to and the basis of religion. It is also prior to theology because it provides the source and medium of theology. This is highlighted in the second essay, chapter 2, through the category of seeker. The seeker explicitly represents the dimension of spirituality that is always reaching for and thus receptive to transcendence through the media of worldly existence. Jesus Christ is introduced most fundamentally as a mediator of God's communication to humankind.

Chapters 3 and 4 discuss basic issues surrounding the place of Jesus in the Christian imagination. Christians consistently speak of or presuppose the uniqueness of Jesus. But this phrase can be understood in different ways in response to different questions. Chapter 3 is more an essay at clarifying the language Christians use about Jesus of Nazareth than a defense of a theological position. Chapter 4 turns to the death of Jesus by crucifixion, something that for many Christians contains the essence of Christian belief and thus provides the very foundation of Christian spirituality. The common language of the churches makes the cross central to the faith of many, and yet, for others, the same language is alienating. The spirituality of the cross has to remain a topic of an ongoing conversation.

Chapter 5 discusses the relationship between a spirituality of following Jesus and the church as a community of the followers of Jesus. This analysis develops a structure that controls a good part of the argument of Spiritual and Religious; it recurs explicitly in other chapters. Developmental sociology and the sociology of knowledge probably offer the best way into the relationship that obtains between spirituality and church.

Chapter 6 discusses why Christians do not have to fear the advances of science and the genuinely new appreciations of our universe, our world, and ourselves. These new conceptions constitute a new vision of reality that readily can be integrated into Christian faith when Christianity is not reduced to a set of beliefs formulated in the past but recognized as a living corporate spirituality. Analogously, in chapter 7, Haight brings personal spirituality and ecclesial authority into conjunction with each other. Surely the community must have a way to exercise its ecclesial authority relative to individual Christians or subgroups. But how often are people scandalized by an overreach in the exercise of authority in the church? We need a balanced modern view of authority that preserves and reinforces its religious and spiritual dimensions while at the same time is subject to critical reception in the light of Christian spirituality.

Chapter 8 discusses liberation and spirituality. For the past half-century the category of ‘liberation’ has played a major role in Christian language and self-understanding. This chapter situates liberation in the context of Christian spirituality, giving it a place within the subjective foundations of Christian life. Chapter 9 compares liberation spirituality and ecospirituality as having their foundations in analogous structural experiences. It is meant to show some continuity between these two somewhat different spiritualities.

Chapter 10 is a period piece: it focuses on the Roman Catholic Church and specifically the American Catholic Church at this moment in history. It proposes that this church has a set of experiences and is developing an ecclesial spirituality that offers four gifts to the universal Catholic communion and also to the whole church. These are new appreciations of religious freedom, women in the church and in society, the role of the laity in the church, and a new set of attitudes toward other religions.

Chapters 11, 12, and 13 turn to Christian ecumenism and the relation of Christianity with other faith traditions. These three chapters work constructively from the premise of the priority of Christian spirituality to the organizational character of the churches and the definition of Christian beliefs; beliefs are reflective expressions of a deeper and more basic Christian spirituality. This structure provides a way to locate clearly where the groundwork for Christian unity lies and how comprehensive it is despite differences of lesser import.

Finally, chapter 14 ends with a discussion of the doctrine of trinity as the central Christian doctrine. It too is based on the conception of spirituality that has been operative in the whole collection of essays in Spiritual and Religious. In keeping with these presuppositions, the discussion focuses on what theology calls ‘the economic trinity,’ and it proposes that trinity be understood in narrative terms. The centrality of the doctrine of trinity lies in its telling the essential Christian story. As a summary of the creeds, Father, Son, and Spirit offer a symbolic representation of how Christianity was fashioned out of Jewish-Christian spirituality.

Roger Haight safeguards the heart of Christian faith exactly by interpreting it anew in light of contemporary experience. Haight is the most important scholar of religion in today's America. – James Carroll, author of Christ Actually

In this wide-ranging book, Roger Haight reminds us that religion without spirituality – without the life-giving, evolving, moving presence of spirit – is not religion at all. In a time when the words 'spiritual' and 'religious' are being tugged apart both by religion and by secularism, he carefully and gracefuly joins them back together again, where they belong. – Kaya Oakes, author, The Nones Are Alright

Roger Haight continues to break new ground at the intersection of spirituality, theology, and religion. From his own deep roots in Ignatian spirituality, with theological fervor and ecumenical grace, he attends to the fearsome challenges of our age. What an amazing journey. What a brilliant book. – Kevin Burke, S.J., Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

One of the world's most prominent theologians in Spiritual and Religious offers insights and analysis on various topics in religion and spirituality. Covering a broad range, Haight helps people see the relevance of the beliefs of Christianity with spirituality being out front and theology oriented towards it.

Science / Astronomy / Outdoors & Nature / Guides

The Stargazer's Handbook: The definite field guide to the night sky by Giles Sparrow (Quercus)

Here is a definitive field guide to the night sky.

From the craters of the Moon to the far reaches of Orion, The Stargazer's Handbook enables readers to explore space without leaving the comforts of Earth. All they need are a pair of binoculars and a clear night sky.

The Stargazer's Handbook takes readers on a journey through space, beginning with our own moon and neighboring planets before exploring the fascinating sights of deep space – from hypergiant suns and stellar nurseries to blazing nebulae and swirling galaxies. Each star, planet, or constellation is fully illustrated and accompanied by an annotated star map, as well as close-up images that zoom in on areas of interest.

Featuring up-to-date information on the latest scientific discoveries, monthly sky maps for both northern and southern hemispheres, history and mythology of all 88 constellations and the rationale behind the names of stars and constellations, The Stargazer's Handbook equips readers with the tools to navigate – and understand – the night sky.

Author Giles Sparrow studied astronomy at University College, London, and science communication at Imperial College before embarking on a career as an author. Since then, he has written and co-written a number of bestselling books on popular science and astronomy, including Hubble: Window on the Universe.

The Stargazer's Handbook contains:

  • Complete maps of constellations and celestial bodies.
  • Month-by-month guides to the changing sky.
  • Stunning photography of the universe's wonders.

Illustrated with 400 of the most striking and up-to-date astronomical images of all the major constellations and landmarks of the night sky, The Stargazer's Handbook reveals the treasures of the cosmos – what they are, where they are, and how to see them. Perfect for browsing at home or accompanying readers under the stars, this book is all they need to start discovering the universe.

 

Contents this Issue:

The Calm Coloring Book: Lovely Images to Set Your Imagination Free edited by Kati Galusz (Thunder Bay Press)

Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators, 4th edition by Tad Crawford (Allworth Press)

Digital Photo Magic: Easy Image Retouching and Restoration for Librarians, Archivists, and Teachers by Ernest Perez (Information Today, Inc.)

The Heart of Hell: The Untold Story of Courage and Sacrifice in the Shadow of Iwo Jima, unabridged audiobook, 2 MP3-CDs, running time 14 hours (Tantor Media)

Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts by Jon Younger & Norm Smallwood, with a foreword by Marshall Goldsmith (Harvard Business Review Press)

Ethical IT Innovation: A Value-Based System Design Approach by Sarah Spiekermann (Auerbach Book, CRC Press)

The Scoop on Poop: Safely Capturing and Recycling the Nutrients in Greywater, Humanure, and Urine by Dan Chiras (New Society Publishers)

Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Creating New Value, 1st edition by Danny Samson & Marianne Gloet (Oxford University Press)

The Inefficiency Assassin: Time Management Tactics for Working Smarter, Not Longer by Helene Segura (New World Library)

Canadian Countercultures and the Environment edited by Colin M. Coates (University of Calgary Press)

Black Power in the Bluff City: African American Youth and Student Activism in Memphis, 1965–1975, 1st edition by Shirletta J. Kinchen (The University of Tennessee Press)

9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America: And Four Who Tried to Save Her by Brion McClanahan (Regnery History)

Pure Soapmaking: How to Create Nourishing, Natural Skin Care Soaps by Anne-Marie Faiola (Storey Publishing LLC)

Don't Go to Jail!: Saul Goodman's Guide to Keeping the Cuffs Off by Saul Goodman, as told to Steven E. Huff (Thomas Dunne Books)

The Weeping Woman: A Novel by Zoé Valdés, translated from the Spanish by David Frye (Arcade Publishing)

China's Troubled Waters: Maritime Disputes in Theoretical Perspective by Steve Chan (Cambridge University Press)

Apostle: Travels among the Tombs of the Twelve by Tom Bissell (Pantheon Books)

Spiritual and Religious: Explorations for Seekers by Roger Haight (Orbis Books)

The Stargazer's Handbook: The definite field guide to the night sky by Giles Sparrow (Quercus)