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Miss You, Pat
S. Watts Illustration
44 Masters Place, Beacon, NY 12508
Christina Francine Whitcher
Some events should never be forgotten. Some people should not be either. What love has a man? One that is selfless. He paves a path to excellence.
911 - Tape released August 16, 2006
"I'm on the 35th floor, okay, okay? Just relay to the command post we're trying to get up. There's numerous civilians at all stairwells, numerous burn injuries are coming down. I'm trying to send them down first. Apparently it's above the 75th floor. I don't know if they got there yet. Okay, Three Truck and we are still heading up. Okay? Thank you."
---Captain Patrick J. Brown
Captain Patrick Brown was a highly decorated firefighter. He was a Vietnam veteran, a yoga student, and his courage is legendary. Pat was a hero long before 911 occurred, but this day proved that. He had been one of eleven men from his squad of twenty-seven. They were last in the twin tower collapses. Pat died in the North tower. Watts' book is a tribute to this special human-being who reminds us that heroes in fact do exist today. They are real and fight the odds. Some hear our calls and then respond; give all they have - even at the cost of themselves.
The dictionary describes a hero as, "A man of distinguished courage or ability for his brave deeds." Such a man lived in New York City and died on September 11, 2002. His name was Captain J. Brown of the New York Fire Department.
The author of Miss You, Pat heard from so many people who were touched by Pat, that she began writing everything down and compiled all of it. Then, when she was the enormity of letters and pictures placed at Grand Central Station, she realized the size of the paths Pat crossed; Watts decided moments needed space in a book. People share their knowledge and use words like "remarkable," "modest," "strong," "empathetic," and "generous" to describe Pat in Watts' book. She also shares that she and Pat were once engaged to be married.
Pat not only went above and beyond the call of duty as a fire-fighter, he impacted people's lives in other ways too. For example, he volunteered giving time to teach blind people self-defense. Roxanne Bebee Blatz, Sensei at Seido Karate, had this to say, "Pat could be tough on the students. They loved him," however. "Too many people patronized them. He gave them encouragement and hope." Another example comes from Steve Baker. "Pat was my AA sponsor. He didn't judge me. He gave me strength." Still another example comes from a yoga instructor named Felise (Shivadasi) Berman. She reflects on Pat and what he did. "I never could have stood in your shoes. But when I move into a down-ward dog, a warrior, a crow, or a wheel, I think about you, Pat, wherever you are. Bye, Pat.
Pat has appeared on 60 Minutes, Dateline, in Yoga Journal, Time Magazine, NY Times, and on local NYC TV. A documentary has also been made about him called, Finding Paddy.
Many readers have never been to New York City. Some view the place as insensitive and filled with cold characters. Those whose lives Pat touched know this is not the case. Numerous citizens share their thoughts about Pat in Watt's book. Many show that not only good people live in New York City, but heroes do.
Firefighter, Mike Moran said this in Watt's book, "Paddy had pretty detailed instruction if he should ever die in a fire on what he wanted done. He had his place in Central Park picked out where he wanted his ashes spread." Since Pat's body could not be found, a tree was planted in his honor.
The books' layout includes multiple photographs of Pat, an author's note, Watt's journal entries, exerts from published work about Pat, and shared thoughts from people who knew Pat. There is also a note which says, "Proceeds of book sales will go to Bent On Learning, a not-for-profit program that brings yoga and meditation to NYC public schools and youth centers. For more information go to www.bentonlearning.org." The book is to be published on Pat's birthday, 11/9, and to be included among the archives at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center.
Just when we have begun to lose our faith in humankind, a larger than life hero steps up for the fight. Miss You, Pat is a haunting book that promises to restore your confidence; to have you thinking of Bonnie Tyler's song, I Need a Hero. Pat's nobility demonstrates the best of our humanity. In an era where we seek for ourselves, Pat distinguished himself by giving the greatest measure of love one can give. What love has a man? Sacrifice of himself for another. A highly recommended read.
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780385524056, $24.95 www.doubleday.com
"I decided not to be mad any more; I was never going back to a place like that again." Engleby, pg. 191
Audiences love underdogs and surprises. They also love the formulaic nature of entertainment. Readers, even if they've never encountered the term "archetype," recognize signature character types when they see them. Conventional literary signposts clue readers in on who to root for, who the good guys are, and who should be wearing the black hat. In Engleby, Sebastian Faulks turns conventional character development on its ear and, like Nabokov did with Humbert Humbert in Lolita, forces the audience to invest in a protagonist who is detestable, yet addictive.
By no means is Engleby merely a case study of a sociopath. Michael Engleby's very thought process is intellectually elitist, condescending, and uncomfortably devoid of recognizable emotion. On page 2, he gives readers cause to question his own understanding of the world's events. Because of the journal format of Engleby the protagonist is already set up as an unreliable narrator, but his intelligence and astuteness cause audiences to question the traditional literary device. Even still, through each analysis Engleby reveals regarding society and social practices in general, a clearer understanding of his anti-social mentality is gained. Engleby hovers on the fringe of social groups and is apt to point out that he likes "to be invisible." At one point he invites himself to the country with a group of students working on an independent film to be close to Jennifer Arkland, and while no one can remember who invited him to begin with, they're grateful for his cooking and drug supply. Other times he relives, in painful detail, the various abuses he sustains from countless others - both university dons and his fellow students at each of the schools he attends.
Though readers may sympathize with some of Engleby's experiences and insights, there are equally as many instances for the reader to turn on him. The sharp disconnect between his intellectual understanding of the world and social interaction, and the practice of those skills and application of that knowledge, is the single most unsettling aspect in his character. You don't like Engleby, but you want to understand him. You're compelled to understand him. Through the entire journal you wait for some inkling of genuine emotion, for some signal that he hasn't fully detached from society and reality, or that he is still, in some basic way, human. Faulks engineers this pseudo-diary in such a captivating way that the readers become co-conspirators with Engleby, and even to the very end, reserve a fraction of hope for the troubled young man.
Plenty of people have experiences or demonstrated the anti-social and intellectual superiority complexes that Engleby goes through, but not every one is Engleby. Not all intellectual elitists are certifiable. Not all highly intelligent people exist solely in the landscape of their own minds. Because Engleby had never experienced the guiding hand of a true teacher (he felt, and probably was, smarter than the "dons" at his various schools, including Cambridge). He stepped into the tiger pits of philosophy and sociology with no hand to help him back out into reality. His existential crisis is not merely a phase, but becomes a disease of the mind.
Engleby could be a treatise on the mind of a single mentally ill young man, but it shines a light on issues that are far more complicated. It's about the lack of perception of those around troubled individuals, and it can easily be a warning to society about the dangers of closing your eyes to bullying - specifically bullying based on a warped sense of tradition or "boys will be boys" attitudes. Most importantly, Engleby speaks to the dangers of knowledge and unguided intelligence, and the dangerous line in the sand between intelligence and insanity.
The last third of the book shifts perspective from the Engleby readers know, to a medicated, institutionalized Engleby who can identify his behavioral problems of the past and the crimes he committed, but still cannot feel appropriate emotional responses. The difference is that he wants to. While others may criticize this turn in the novel, it is absolutely necessary to complete the story. To leave the journal incomplete, or to shift to third person would render the tragedy in Engleby trite and meaningless. Without his shift from book knowledge to personal knowledge, his experiences and writings would be rendered pointless because even after he is given the tools to help himself, Engleby chooses to remain locked in the safety of his own mind where he can rearrange reality and history, and that itself is his tragedy.
Faulks departed from his comfortable writing styles with Engleby, and readers may or may not be appreciative of the sudden shift in gears. He moves from his comfort zone of historical fiction to a fiction riddled with history and both mental and social illness in such a way that reading the novel once would cheat readers out of the carefully woven clues and allusions Faulks works into his writing that are only able to be appreciated after the final revelations of the protagonist. Engleby may be a departure from Faulks' other writings, but it is a path well following him down.
No Second Chance
c/o Penguin Group (USA) Inc
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
Rating: 4 Stars
Copyright by Doreen Luff for Curled Up With a Good Book, 2008
In "No Second Chance", Doctor Marc Seidman wakes up in the hospital that he works at with almost no recollection of what happened. He knew that he had been shot and he remembered what his last thought was. His daughter. His first thought was his daughter and how much he loved her. His daughter, Tara is six months old and a police detective tells him that she has been kidnapped and his wife is dead. Dr. Seidman is distraught with grief and in a state of shock. The shock becomes even greater when he finds out that he has been in the hospital for twelve days.
Twelve days his daughter has been missing. Twelve days his wife, Monica, has been dead and buried. The funeral was small and quiet. Her father had wanted it that way and could not wait for Marc to be released from the hospital. Her father, Edgar, was a very prominent man with lots of money. However, he was not a very nice man. We find out that he had "abused" his daughter. At the end of her life, she was seeing a psychiatrist for emotional problems. She thought that her husband did not love her anymore and might've been having an affair with his old girlfriend Rachel in college. She was right about one thing. Marc didn't really love his wife ever. He married her only because she was pregnant and he was trying to do the right thing. When she had the baby, he almost resented Tara for making him make the sacrifices that you must make as a parent. He even questioned himself about being a good husband and father. But, a baby was a baby and the more he got to know her and fell into their "routine", he came to love his daughter.
Marc, having recovered from his injuries, gets out of the hospital and goes to see Edgar. But first, he stops and sees his wife's grave. He makes a promise that he will find Tara. When he finally gets to the house, Edgar tells him that he has gotten a ransom demand from the kidnappers. No police, two million dollar payoff and then he gets his daughter back. The good doctor informs the police, who incidently suspects him as being the killer of his wife and mastermind behind the whole plot. The police go with him and as a result he gives up the money, and the chance at finding his daughter.
The kidnapper's tell him that there is no second chance. But, after eighteen months of wondering and waiting, they get another ransom demand. This time, like the last, the demand comes to Edgar. They give him a hair sample to convince them that the girl is still alive and waiting to come home. The police get involved with investigating him deeper as he finds his old lover, Rachel at the grocery store. It was an awkward moment, but he eventually enlists her help to recover his daughter. As the police then turn their attention to her, we find out that Rachel Mills is a retired FBI agent and has a mysterious past of her own.
I was truly expecting "No Second Chance" to be just as satisfying and heart wrenching as his book "Tell No One." I really cared about the characters in "Tell No One" and I wanted everything to turn out well. I still wanted everything to turn out well, but the characters in "No Second Chance" were just not that interesting and really, I didn't care about them. The characters felt very rushed. The characters could have been given more depth and sincerity. The main character's concern throughout the book over his daughter was not very believable. It seemed like Mr. Coben's main character was more interested in his ex-girlfriend Rachel, when he found her again, then in finding out what happened to his daughter. He and Rachel's relationship almost seemed to be the main story and finding Tara seemed to be pushed into the subplot. He also seemed to give up on his daughter too quickly. As he said "he and Rachel could just drive off in the other direction"; Essentially leave his daughter and the trouble that they were in far behind and start a whole new life together. Dr. Seidman did not seem to be a very strong character to be the main one.
The story builds up to a climatic conclusion which will satisfy his readers. The chase scenes and the mystery of who killed his wife, shot him, and took his daughter was very entertaining and keeps the reader questioning the character's motives. Also, the confrontations with the police are also very interesting and keeps readers at the edge of their seats.
Although not his best work, it was a very entertaining book, and fans of Mr. Coben will definitely appreciate this fast paced mystery.
An Illusion of Harmony: Science and Religion in Islam
Can an ancient religion anticipate the findings of modern science? Henry Morris, the intellectual father of Creation Science, thinks so. He found the Law of Conservation of Energy in Ecclesiastes 3:14, which says, "I know that all that God will do will last forever. Nothing can be added or taken from it." Of course, he fails to mention violations of the conservation laws when Joshua made the sun stand still (Joshua 10:12-13). In fact, to make the sun stand still implies that the sun is moving, and not the earth. Copernicus discredited the Geocentric Theory more than 400 years ago.
Judaism, in addition to the Bible, relies on its oral tradition, known as the Talmud. The Talmud (Tractate Shabbat) says that sun signs (the Zodiac) and planets have influence over our lives. Although astrology is still a popular concept, science discredited it long ago. The Talmud (Pirke Avot) also says of the Five Books of Moses, "Turn it; turn it, for everything is in it." Islam is no different than Judaism in this regard. The Quran is the infallible word of God - Allah. Any problems between the pronouncements of science and the Quran are due to one's inability to properly interpret the Quran; implying that all modern science is contained therein.
Taner Edis, author of An Illusion of Harmony is a physicist and Turkish Muslim who declares himself to be an Islamic disbeliever. From this perspective, he seamlessly blends the beliefs of fundamental and liberal Islam with the findings of modern science. According to Edis, Islamic countries are doomed to remain behind the Western world without a significant shift in Muslim thinking from simply borrowers of technology to solvers of important scientific problems. To accomplish this, he says, Muslim countries must create an Islam-believing core of pure research scientists.
The International Islamic University of Malaysia reported that all countries that comprise the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) have less that one scientist or one engineer per 100, compared to the world averages of four and fourteen per 100 in the most advanced countries. In August 2007, the OIC noted that over the previous ten years, twenty Arab countries contributed just half the number of scientific papers that Israel contributed alone. In fact, Israel produces more scientific papers per capita, 109 per 10,000, than any other nation.
Edis tells us that Islam represents itself as a religion that is open to new knowledge; including knowledge obtain through scientific research. In reality, he asserts, this is not the case. Muslims will accept technology that offers practical solutions to everyday problems, but not, for example, Darwinism and certain types of genetic research. They are generally suspicious of pure science because science does not need Allah to describe the world.
The period from the ninth to thirteenth centuries was Islam's Golden Age and compared to Europe, marked by superior learning and knowledge production. During this time, Muslims translated Greek works into Arabic; thereby preserving for the world the seminal work of Greek philosophers and gave the world the mathematics known as algebra, among other important scientific findings. Yet, it has been more than seven hundred years since Islam produced any significant scientific breakthrough.
Why is it that the scientific leadership of the Islamic world disintegrated and then fell so far behind the Western world? In Europe, science had little impact on religious beliefs until the Renaissance, when theology finally gave way to scholasticism. The reins of power in theocratic countries and countries with strong right-wing religious movements kept scientific investigations in check. The Catholic Church to this day still defends itself against its treatment of such thinkers as Giordano Bruno and Galileo. The fate of scientific thought is no different in the Muslim world. Today, all Islamic science must be linked to the Quran because secular governments never took hold for very long in Islamic countries.
The scientific conceptions of late-medieval Christians did not differ significantly from Jews or Muslims. They each believed that God revealed Himself to a chosen prophet and the universe operated as ordained by God/Allah. Jews lacked a theocratic government and simply rode the political waves and scientific thoughts on which the tides of history carried them. Christianity, unlike Islam, was forced to yield over time to secular authorities who disengaged themselves from the revealed word of God as they pursed glory, power, and wealth. So unlike Muslims, Christians were free to re-learn and assimilate ancient knowledge (that the Muslim world saved), as well as discover new knowledge that might not agree with church canon. Western science is secular.
According to Edis, Muslims began appreciating the military, administrative, economic, scientific, and technological advances of the Western world more than a hundred years ago. Nonetheless, science and rationalism lag in Islamic countries (or any country for that matter) with strong ecclesial leadership. There are both fundamentalist and liberal-thinking elements in all Islamic countries. Orthodox Muslims use the Quran to find science. They quote the Quran, for example, which says that "God creates you inside your mothers, in successive formations, in three darknesses" to prove that the Quran preceded our scientific understanding of embryonic development. However, these Muslim fundamentalists do not mention that Aristotle, preceding the Quran by more than a thousand years, describes these very stages in the development of a chick embryo. In contrast, Islamic liberals believe that science is a practical endeavor that must be accommodated by Islam, and not necessarily found in the Quran.
Edis explains that quantum mechanics, the physics and the atom and subatomic world in which probability replaces certainty, is the scientific hallmark of the twentieth century. Yet, instead of adapting Islam to a probabilistic world, Islamic science, which is supported by theocratic government funding, adheres to fringe and pseudoscientific interpretations of quantum mechanics, including parapsychology and UFOs, and links these beliefs to the Quran. Because of its counterintuitive nature, Islamic science accepts the mystical side of quantum physics and uses it to describe a spiritual universe. The same case can be made for its anti-Darwinism beliefs and the Islamizing of the social sciences, such as sociology and economics. Fundamentalists believe that their religion knows everything, and science does not. They believe that Creationism, Intelligent Design, and the Young Earth Theory have equal footing with the research of Charles Darwin, the Theory of Evolution, and genetics. Theocracies and pure scientific research are immiscible.
Edis is not the first Muslim to explore science and Islam. More than fifteen years ago, Pervez Hoodbhoy, a physics professor at Quaid-i-Azam University in Pakistan, studied the same interrelationship between Islam and science; arriving at the same conclusions. The strength of the West, according to Edis, is its diversity-in-thinking. He maintains that if the Muslim world, estimated to hold about a billion people, limits itself with a priori boundaries on scientific research imposed by radical interpretations of the Quran, then Muslims are doomed is to be a followers of the Western world and relegated to second-class citizenship, at best.
We already see the results of the hatred carried out by Islamic extremists and directed toward the "haves" of the world. Edis concludes that terrorist attacks against the West will continue until steps are taken by the international community to grow and support secular Islamic governments. But, just as important, if the countries of the West yield to the pressures of home-grown fundamentalism, then it is inevitable that scientific and social-scientific research, and all the progress that results from that research, will stop here as well.
Earrings of Ixtumea
PO Box 822674, Vancouver, WA 98682
9780978215712 $12.95 www.virtualtales.com
Karen Anne Webb
14-year-old Lupe Hernandez hates everything about her life: she's dumpy and dark instead of frail and fair, her Latino upbringing makes her feel like a second-class citizen, and her crazy grandmother keeps telling her about the magical realm of Ixtumea as if it were reality instead of myth.
But her beliefs are put to the test when a pair of antique ruby earrings and a hunky Mezo-American warrior transport her to an Ixtumea that is all too real. Dream balances nightmare as Lupe makes a spiritual journey, comes face to face with living gods, and learns the truth about her parents, her own origins, and her destiny. Author Kim Baccellia uses Lupe's spiritual journey to frame some profound thoughts about our view of physical perfection (and how a Latina copes in a blonde world) and how traditional beliefs integrate with those of a faith like Catholicism. (When you're being threatened by Tezcatlipoca, do you pray to the Virgin of Guadalupe or to Ixchel?) Though herself a Mormon, Baccellia seems to have a good grasp of Latin Catholic sensibilities. In a genre market (fantasy) that is dominated by Celtic mythology and heroes drawn from a northern/western European aesthetic, a book featuring a young Latina heroine and a culture drawn from Native Central American and Hispanic influences is a welcome change.
Challenges that make the book less than it could be include content somewhat strong for its demographic and editing issues. Although the story is pegged as "young adult," it includes content (including drug use, vulgar language and profanities, and disturbing images including references to human sacrifice and gang rape) that would easily net it a strong PG-13 rating were it a movie rather than a book. And a very perfunctory editing job leaves the book with a plethora of consistency errors, some passages that take on the proportions of a grammatical nightmare, some gaping plot holes, and a lot of undeveloped potential.
That said, the basic story is a good one, and the book is a fun read for its imaginativeness, unique atmosphere, and spunky (non-blonde) heroine.
Alan Lightman is one of my favorite authors and he has never failed to impress me. I only wish he wrote his novels with more frequency. His latest novel, Ghost, is sensitive, inquisitive, provocative. Lightman's exploration of the metaphysical and the physical never ceases to draw me in, completely.
Ghost focuses on David, a not-quite-middle-aged man who finds his life at a standstill, perhaps even at a crossroads. Perhaps it is this situation which makes him susceptible, or even receptive, to the unusual. While resting in the slumber room of the funeral parlor where he works, David sees something - experiences something - he cannot explain, to himself or to others. When he does try to explain it, intense reactions are hurled at him from across the spectrum, unleashing unexpected emotions and actions from the people around him, as well as from himself.
Lightman is probably best known for his first novel, Einstein's Dreams, although his other novels are equally wonderful and wondrous. He also is the author of numerous nonfiction works, largely in the area of theoretical physics (he has served on the faculties of both MIT and Harvard). His background in science obviously informs his fiction, to a fabulous result. Lightman's exploration of the physical and the metaphysical, of time, of emotion is fascinating and reveals itself in the most unusual fiction without being overly scientific or creeping into the surreal.
This beautiful novel contains some rather odd coincidences to my own life, which made the story only more interesting. Strangely, Lightman manages to capture my feelings like few other authors (Duras being one of them). Ghost is, by far, one of the best novels I've read in ages.
New York in the Fifties
Published jointly by PIF Press and Greenpoint Press
PO Box 3203, Grand Central Terminal, New York, NY 10163
6115 NE 185th Street,Kenmore, WA 98028
Kristina Marie Darling
Dan Wakefield's New York in the Fifties, originally published by St. Martin's Griffin in 1992, has recently been reissued by PIF Press and Greenpoint Press, making a unique work of nonfiction available to new readers. Depicting the writers, journalists, social reformers, and musicians who lived in New York City during what most remember as an uneventful period in American artistic culture, Wakefield's book is a compelling recreation of a time and place that shaped the nation's intellectual tradition. Describing his own experience as an undergraduate at Columbia University alongside that of other literary luminaries who comprised the supposedly "Silent Generation," such as John Gregory Dunne, Joan Didion, Jack Kerouac, Mark Van Doren, and C. Wright Mills, Wakefield's book gracefully presents a range of voices while maintaining its own sense of stylistic unity throughout.
One of the most impressive aspects of Wakefield's memoir is the way the author's life experience becomes a window through which the reader observes larger trends in literary and cultural history. The end result being a narrative that is at once diverse and anchored in its protagonist's story, this trend in New York in the Fifties is exemplified by the descriptions of traveling to New York by train. For example, Dan Wakefield writes when describing the journey from his Indianapolis home to "the nation's greatest city":
The train stations of American's cities were not simply points of arrival and departure, loading docks for people and baggage, but awesome, vast cathedrals for the continent crossing railways that first connected us into one country…When I went away to college at Columbia, my mother and father saw me off at Union Station with hugs and tears and promises to write, as if I were a soldier going to the front. (20-21)
Using his experience at a starting point when depicting the sudden mobilization of Americans by railroads, Wakefield's description examines not only the societal impact of this transformation, but also portrays its having been romanticized in artistic culture on a national scale. His trip to college, then, becomes a manifestation of both technological changes and their representation in the arts, all of which are unified by the finely crafted and engaging narrative of Dan Wakefield's experience as a young traveler.
Similarly, an incisive commentary on literary fact and fiction pervades New York in the Fifties, addressing the supposedly uneventful nature of this key decade, the believed impact of the beat generation, and many other topics as readers follow Wakefield through first jobs and freelance assignments. This aspect of the book is particularly apparent in the discussions of Jack Kerouac's performance at the Vanguard, in which he writes:
Perhaps others felt as I did, that Kerouac was not only giving our generation a bad name ("beat"), but by his antics he was also - a worse crime - giving writers and writing in general a bad name, making them look like the foolish clowns that the worst of our parochial hometown critics took us to be. (176)
While narrating his experience seeing Kerouac perform, Wakefield suggests that, in their creating "the myth of a generation," beat writers not only overshadowed those who adhered to tradition, but presented a romanticized vision of literary life in which rebellion matters more than craft (203). Forthright and insightful throughout, this assessment of how writers and their writing are perceived in retrospect is woven throughout New York in the Fifties, the end result being a memoir that situates personal experience in a broader historical context, remaining engaging and enjoyable all the while.
New York in the Fifties is a dazzling, intelligent read. Five stars.
Eccentric Billionaire: John D. Mac Arthur-Empire Builder, Reluctant Philanthropist, Relentless Adversary
AMACOM, American Management Association
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
Nancy Kriplen's biography of John D. MacArthur is an insightful look at one of the last centuries wealthiest, but publicity-shy businessman. One that is remembered today for making large contributions to many philanthropic causes including National Public Television, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation underwrite many current programs featured on NPT. Kriplen shares his transformation of Marquette Life and Bankers Life and Casualty companies from small regionals into national players, and his development of Palm Beach Gardens in Florida. Just a few of his many investments that made him rich and maligned, from business practices that ran the gamut.
Chapter titles are: Ransoming the Baby, Breaking the Sod, Baby John, Life with Father, The Competitor, Every Little Breeze, Catherine T, Staying Afloat, The Mother Lode, Divorce... and Death, Hat Trick, Down Among the Sheltering Palms, Banyan Trees and Hibiscus Hedges, Hogs Get Slaughtered, The Colonnades, Founding a Foundation, Palm Beach Prometheus, Lost and Sometimes Found, Royal Summons, And with Dignity, and Genius. Additional features include acknowledgments, a prologue, location of collections cited, notes, selected bibliography and an index.
The author writes in an engaging, page-turning style, rather than what could have been a dry just-the-facts-please business portrayal. Ms. Kriplen shares his ups and downs, be it personal or business, warts and all. She also is well known for penning the successful biography of Dwight Davvis: The Man and the Cup.
This Is Cuba
Westview Press (Perseus Group)
This is a great book. Not just a great Cuba book, or travel book...it's an excellent piece of writing with a objective, surefooted point of view that cuts through a controversial, incredibly complex subject with precision, heart, humor, and an unflinching sense of witness. One of the great things about it is illustrated by the fact that although the author is a fan of socialism and Castro, he frames one of the most devastating descriptions ever written of the bankruptcy of the economic, political, social, and philosophical situation in Cuba today. There might be those who take umbrage at what Corbett has done here, but no visitor to contemporary Cuba will fail to recognize the unvarnished validity of what he says or admire the lapidary, congenial way he says it.
Unlike many writers who pop into Cuba and pop out with the answer--not to mention the legions who make up their minds on sheer ideology--Corbett has visited the island many times over a period of years, and has considerable experience living there for long periods of time. He lived somewhat underground: in illegal circumstances, which brought him into easy contact with mass opinions not quickly offered to strangers. And he was lucky enough to have been there during several very revealing periods, including crackdowns and crises.
Corbett organizes his experiences into twenty-odd chapters in a way that seems effortless, but is actually an ingenious method of arranging the multi-leveled task of describing a society. Chapters discuss a day in school, black market, prostitution and hustling, the effects of "Buena Vista Social Club", the incessant marches, the crush for tourist dollars, diet, and the attempts to escape--either legally or otherwise. And each spins out into an embrace of the whole nutty economy and culture. The subtitle of the book, "An Outlaw Culture Survives" is extremely indicative: throughout it we see a constant struggle for survival in a system of parallel cultures that operate beneath the laws and oppression. And throughout we are appalled and impressed by the dogged ability of Cuban ingenuity to pull through, to rig things up, to balance necessity, law, doctrine, and black humor.
One phenomenon he describes is a good example of the multi-level impact of his calm observation: derrumbes. From time to time buildings in Havana just collapse--failure due to age, poverty and lack of safety codes. Sometimes people have enough warning to run outside, often several families die. And the neighbors cannibalize the collapsed houses to repair their own homes. The first reaction of a North American to the idea that urban buildings fall down and people are used to it is one of horror and disbelief. It goes against everything we think a city and society should stand for. Then we think about an economy in which some homes survive by using debris from those that collapse--not a bad analogy for the Cuban economy that has degenerated to a flea market selling off the last old stuff in the attic. Then maybe we start to admire the hunker down courage of people who live like that, who accept a system so different from the one their parents knew. And we marvel at the many who move to Havana from the country--even with possible penalties of jail and fines equal to five years pay for doing so--because the small towns and countryside offer much less opportunity for survival. The real genius and miracle of Cuba is in its people. By the way, approximately a quarter of Havana's buildings are officially unsafe, a moderate earthquake would probably topple 75% of them. It is illegal to photograph or report derrumbes.
Corbett (and his Cuban friends) have a fine eye for ironic contradiction and the bitter laughs it provides. Cubans love to camp on beaches but under the current regime are not allowed to--beaches are reserved for tourists with dollars. In the workers' paradise, labor unions are illegal. Castro proclaims socialism and trumpets against U.S. capitalism yet whores for American capital. Foreign companies pay well for construction and oil workers, but the government keeps the money and pays the workers the usual $7 a month stipend for their work--in a system supposedly built on rebelling against exploitation of labor. Prostitution, supposedly impossible under Marxist principles, is tolerated because it brings in foreign dollars. Those who are lucky enough to win the visa "lottery" and leave Cuba end up having everything they owned taken from them by their government--and have to pay for exit visas. It just goes on and on. For the reader--for Cubans it's been going on and on for fifty years.
Though basically a fan of Cuba, Castro, and leftism, Corbett doesn't flinch away from realities that most starry-eyed chroniclers gloss over or ignore: that Cuba is a fascist state. The government controls everything, including where you live, police are numerous and everywhere, a block-by-block citizen spy network reports everything that happens, goods are seized by the state on any pretext...and above all, the prime characteristic of slave states that makes their apologists uncomfortable--the people are not free to leave. What better definition of imprisonment, oppression or slavery could there be than that: you can't leave if you want to.
It's as much a tribute to Corbett as to the Cuban people that this exhibition of socioeconomic malpractice is basically upbeat. And that's the way Cuba is: you see all this atrocity going on around you, but you leave happy and singing the lyrics. The last chapter of "This Is Cuba" is the most quizical of all: what happens next? If Castro died tomorrow and Cuba burst out into the real world after a half-century of being kidnapped away from the world economy, what would happen? They have nothing to sell but the usual Third World inventory: their labor, soil products, beaches and willing women. They have nobody who has a clue how to market goods, run a factory, design competitively, distribute products, organize labor. On the other hand, they have become a country of survivors: tinkerers, corner-cutters, jury-riggers, co-operators. If they have a chance to avoid being Haiti, it will be because of Cuban resilience. Corbett ends his book like this:
"(the will to survive, to live, to endure, and even to resist)...are the ingredients of focused human determination. Today, Castro only stands in the way of the people. They are now prepared to define Cuba's destiny. And in this preparedness, perhaps Castro achieved the greatest victory of all." Whether that is a ringing cheer for Castroism or analogous to saying that men come out of penitentiaries better prepared to live on the street remains to be seen.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
Time Travel Teaches in Hornby's Newest Novel
Two modern day adolescents, once young and innocent, must confront their parents with the news of an unplanned pregnancy that will change the course of their lives forever. Sounds like another Lifetime movie, right? It is actually the premise of Nick Hornby's newest novel Slam, about a fifteen-year-old boy who is forced into adulthood when he unintentionally impregnates his girlfriend. Most bookstores are shelving the novel under the "Young Adult" section, and Hornby himself has classified the book as such. However, any adult who likes Hornby also will like Slam, for it is not your typically sappy melodrama about teen pregnancy. What elevates it is not only Hornby's signature wit but also the aesthetic attention the protagonist devotes to how he constructs his narrative and tells us his tale.
Like all of Hornby's novels, Slam is set in his own specific corner of contemporary London. Sam Jones, our narrator and the product of a teenage pregnancy himself, relates this story from two years in the future, where he is eighteen and the drama of becoming a teenage father is past. When he begins the tale, though, he is fifteen, nearly sixteen, and notes that "things were ticking along quite nicely." As a fifteen-year-old, Sam's main concern was skating ("we never say skateboarding," as he tells us) and memorizing the text of Tony Hawk's book Hawk - Occupation: Skateboarder. Skating actually plays a fairly large role in the novel because Sam uses it as an extended metaphor in telling his story. As in skating, you can be coasting through life with ease when all of a sudden, you "[have] a bad slam," to use Sam's parlance. And when he meets Alicia, the beautiful daughter of one of his mother's colleagues, Sam is about to have a metaphorical "slam" of his own.
While the skating metaphor is clever, what really lends this seemingly hackneyed story some artistic originality is a fantastical feature that takes the reader by surprise - time travel. Several times during the book, Sam wakes up months in the future, forcing him to tell us his story out of conventional order and thereby making him conscious of his own narrative structure. Near the "end" of the novel, Sam says, "I'm telling you this as if it's a story, with a beginning, a middle and an end." What he knows by this point, though, is that "it's going to be the middle of the story for a long time." Throughout the novel, Sam is either trying to avoid the future or wishing he could skip to the end and sidestep the arduous middle. But the important lesson he eventually learns through time travel is that there are two futures: the real future and the one he gets "whizzed" to. The one he gets "whizzed" to shows him only the facts, whereas the real future is the one that he feels emotionally invested in since he has lived through all the moments leading up to that point. As he so matter-of-factly tells us, "Here's a funny thing. You go into the future, and afterwards you think, Well, I know about that now. But like I said before: if you don't know how something feels, then you don't know anything." Over the course of the novel, Sam realizes that you cannot stop time nor can you accelerate it in order to bypass life's uncomfortable and frightening middle; you must live through this middle because living through it gives a life feeling and meaning.
Though it is decidedly odd that Hornby uses time travel to drive home this major theme, it is also a stroke of genius. In a story where the basic plot is very predictable, Hornby keeps his adolescent reader engaged and entertained by introducing a fantastical element. Rather than wondering what will happen next, the reader remains focused on time travel, the feature of the story through which Hornby makes his main point manifest. Furthermore, as in all Hornby novels, the characters are lovable and funny - and most importantly, they learn, change, and grow, which is always satisfying to readers. Sam runs away at first, tries to shirk his new responsibility, and harbors incredibly selfish thoughts ("Do you mind if I go to college anyway?" he wants to ask Alicia). But over time, he slowly embraces his role as a father and learns to accept what his future holds.
Full Circle: A Memoir
Rutgers University, 35 Berrue Circle, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8042
9781412806626 $34.95 www.transactionpub.com 1-888-999-6778
Phyllis Chesler, Reviewer
Edith Kurzweil has lived many lives and prevailed against tremendous odds. As an Austrian Jew, she was not meant to live at all; as a first-generation immigrant in America, she wasn't expected to succeed; as a woman, who was also a 1950s-style wife and mother, she was not supposed to become a scholar in her own right. But Kurzweil refused to identify herself as a victim, choosing instead to view adversity as a useful challenge. She earned a Ph.D. in sociology, became a professor, and published a number of thoughtful books including The Freudians: A Comparative Perspective, The Age of Structuralism, and Nazi Laws and Jewish Lives: Letters from Vienna. She also married three times, the final time to William Phillips, the founder of Partisan Review. Kurzweil served as executive editor of this highly influential magazine from the late 1970s until its demise in 2003.
Thus she knew and worked with many of the leading intellectuals of her time: Saul Bellow, Ralph Ellison, Doris Lessing, Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag, Norman Podhoretz, Cynthia Ozick, and many more. She was privy to the great disputes of the era, and her memoir Full Circle recounts them all, from battles about communism and fascism to splits over Zionism and the nature of American power - battles that, in different forms, continue to the present day.
Kurzweil's life, like a play, has had many distinct acts. Act One: "Ditta" Weisz is born in Vienna to wealthy Jewish parents. For 13 years, she enjoys a charmed and sheltered existence, which world events then shatter. Solely responsible for her younger brother, Hansl, she flees Austria to join her parents, who are already settled in America, and travels through at least 11 cities and villages in Austria, Germany, Belgium, France, Spain, and Portugal. Her flight is grueling and perilous: she dodges bombs, enemy soldiers, hostile civilians, and Catch-22-like diplomatic restrictions. Strangely, the idea of "being sold into slavery" (as opposed to being simply incinerated) terrifies her. At one point, Kurzweil rides in a boxcar together with other Jewish children. For eight days, they have little food, no light, no ventilation, no bathrooms - and no parents. She writes: "The younger children got sick first and some of them threw up; we had no toilet facilities and had to use the odd containers . . . since boxcars have no windows . . . the putrid smell of excrement mingled with that of perspiration and vomit. . . . By the fifth day our limbs were black and blue from the bumps we got when the train was careening."
These painful memories occupy only three paragraphs in the hellish travelogue. Still to come is a long period of hiding in the French countryside and long lines to navigate at the Spanish, Portuguese, and French consulates as Kurzweil desperately tries to get a visa. Aided by a kind stranger, she makes it to the S.S. Excalibur just as it pulls up anchor in Lisbon. Seeing two children approaching, the ship's crew halts and lets them aboard.
Act Two: Kurzweil's new life as a teenage immigrant in New York City begins. Her sadistic father and self-involved mother control and exploit her. Kurzweil the memoirist does not complain; she merely shows us how things were. Her writing is fresh, leavened with the endearing Americanisms that she acquired. She "moseys" along, wants the "low-down," relates best to people "on the ball." For those, like me, who remember the Manhattan of this era, her descriptions bring back a lost world: here is the dear departed automat, the Cafe de la Paix, the Eclair, and the Konditorei. Kurzweil dubs these last two "Vienna on the Hudson."
She encounters routine sexual harassment on the streets and on the job, of a type that these days we would regard as extreme. She describes the "leering once-overs" of foremen, the "foul language" of "sweaty men," and the harshness of the "demanding foreladies." Kurzweil works as a hat maker, jewelry painter, stock clerk, salesgirl, bookkeeper, and far underpaid diamond cutter. She works during all of her marriages, even while raising the children she had with two of her husbands.
Act Three: she prospers as a wife and young mother in a New York City suburb during the very decade in which Betty Friedan decided that isolated, educated housewives suffered from a "problem that had no name." "I don't recall my suburb as a Mecca of enlightenment nor as the nadir of Hell," Kurzweil writes. She eventually returns to Europe and lives there happily for some time - though she shares a sobering anecdote about visiting her childhood home in Vienna. The concierge of the building, guilt-ridden about the past, is afraid that she has come back to reclaim her apartment.
Act Four: Kurzweil documents an important period of intellectual history. She confirms that intellectuals can be as ruthless as corporate titans, capturing the raw ambition, ceaseless backbiting, intimate betrayals, and anti-Americanism that have characterized so many New York and Parisian thinkers. Kurzweil describes how the New Yorkers devoted themselves to "honing their mercurial minds at each other's expense." She relates priceless anecdotes and both first- and second-hand thumbnail sketches of a battalion of intellectual leading lights, including Michel Foucault, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Hannah Arendt, Diana Trilling, Czeslaw Milosz, Robert J. Lifton, and Noam Chomsky, among others. She is frank about the male domination, philandering, and polygamy prevalent in intellectual circles, and about the way in which otherwise capable female job applicants were mainly viewed in terms of their "sexual potential."
Full Circle has far too many rich anecdotes to recount, but one involving Chomsky is typical and illustrative. Kurzweil describes an enormous party that is "more like a political rally," at which Chomsky states that students should be encouraged to protest, "even to the point of laying down on a railway track while awaiting an oncoming train." When Kurzweil protests that a young Italian demonstrator has lost his life that way, Chomsky replies that the loss was acceptable - "if it had furthered the cause."
Kurzweil also reveals the rather shocking attempt to destroy Partisan Review by certain "solicitous friends" who envied its success and wished to "own" its gold-standard brand name, even though they disagreed with many of its principled stands. She describes how William Phillips found himself locked out of his own office at Rutgers University, his Partisan Review papers impounded. Boston University chancellor John Silber gave the magazine a safe harbor, but after Phillips died, Silber, in Cynthia Ozick's words, "executed" and "terminated" the magazine that Kurzweil had essentially run on her own during the years of Phillips's declining health.
Full Circle is an ode of sorts to Phillips and to the committed intellectual life that he led, and an acknowledgment of what one must juggle, sacrifice, brave, and endure to live the life of the mind. The intellectually dazzling Phillips lost many of his closest friends when he refused to glamorize tyrannies or wholeheartedly embrace the cultural uprisings of the 1960s, which included hatred of America and Israel.
Kurzweil shared his political bravery. Immediately after September 11, in the pages of Partisan Review, she wrote: "To others, like myself, who lived through some of the real horrors of World War II, the United States was perceived as a safe haven . . . the United States is not truly prepared to fight its enemies. Once again, we are divided around domestic priorities and must fight enemies both outside and within our borders. . . . We have tried to attain our ends while holding on to our liberal values. . . . We will have to decide at what point the rights of the individual must be subordinated to the public good, to the 'rights' of the country. When do we go after the Osama bin Ladens? And how do we conduct fair trials without being so overly 'fair' as to encourage or condone more such activities?" Kurzweil's perspective was prescient; her views today remain vigorous and vital.
Full circle: Vienna, 1940. As the train leaves, the 13-year-old Ditta is afraid to keep her maternal grandmother's gold chain: "We were forbidden to take any valuables... in the end, I panicked... as the train began to move I reached out of the window to return the coveted jewel." The real jewel is this book, and the memories and insights it contains.
Happy About Online Networking
20660 Stevens Creek Blvd., Suite 210, Cupertino, CA 95014
Networking is important to making contacts and building sustainable relationships. And not just in business. Online networking is important in people's social lives too. That's why Happy About Online Networking is such a great contribution to the current literature on business networking. Besides for the traditional customs, Ryan offers advice and new ways of looking at online networking. The author argues that the purpose of online networking is to build relationships, not just reach goals. It's a two way street: if you want someone to help you, then you have to help them too. Otherwise, forget about getting that job you wanted or gaining a new customer.
Diving deep into social networking sites like LinkedIn.com, one of the most popular sites for business networking, Ryan explores what makes these sites so useful. She explains their importance and how they can be used. And at the same time she knows when to place restrictions on her own advice. For example, she recommends prudence when sending out mass e-mailings or announcements. Only do so if something important has happened to you, she advises, such as getting a new job or signing a book contract.
The book is short, but has few weak points. Some parts--as much as whole paragraphs--seem redundant. And the word "rude" is used so often it leaves readers feeling insulted (no joke intended). The book's title can be misleading. It lacks specificity. "Happy About Business Online Networking" is less broad, and would be more likely to attract the book's target audience. The format, though unconventional, makes the book easy to read.
Happy About Online Networking is recommended for anyone who wants to find a job, get more customers or simply build relationships online. Its chapters are packed with advice on how to succeed when networking online for business purposes. Summaries at the end of each chapter conveniently provide a list of "Key Points Discussed." Ryan has written a short, easy to read guide for business networking online--a book that will continue to be useful as this activity becomes more and more important in our everyday lives.
The Jihad Next Door - The Lackawanna Six and Rough Justice in the Age of Terror
c/o PerseusBooks Group
2300 Chestnut St., Suite 200, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Susan M. Andrus
The Danger of Innocence in America
Having grown up in suburb of Buffalo next door to Lackawanna and being an advocate for peace and justice, a book about the Lackawanna Six jumped off the shelf into my hands. And once I started reading, I couldn¹t put it down. Reading more like a good mystery than the well-researched investigative reporting that it reflected, this book kept me intrigued and reading well past my regular bedtime.
Dina Temple-Raston, National Public Radio¹s FBI correspondent and critically acclaimed, award-winning author of several books including Justice in the Grass, In Defense of Our America (with Anthony D. Romero) and A Death in Texas, gave this extraordinary accounting of the lives of six American Muslim twenty-somethings who never in their wildest dreams considered where a trip to Pakistan would lead them.
Temple-Raston created suspense as she sketched the characters, showing their immaturity, restlessness, and strong family ties to their Yemeni heritage. She moved the narrative along with short chapters, action, suspense, and intrigue. Her extensive investigations included traveling to Yemen, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Knowledge of FBI practices, as well as her ability to gain trust in order to extract information from the most reluctant witness, makes the reader feel like a welcome guest where formerly no one had ever visited.
Temple-Reston painted these alleged terrorists from the perspective of humanity and naivete. Their travels to Pakistan before 9/11/01 led them to a nightmare during the era after 9/11 when government policies and procedures defied logic and justice. Photos of the six, the neighborhood where they lived, and scenes from Yemen including boys studying at a madrasa added to the interest and authenticity of the book.
The New IQ
David Gruder, Ph.D.
PO Box 442, Fulton, CA 95439
Dr. Tami Brady
Can we really have it all? Can we make a good living at a job that we love, spend quality time with our families, and make the world a better place, all while keeping our personal integrity? The New IQ says not only is it possible to have it all while keeping our integrity it states that integrity is actually the key to making it all happen.
At first, that statement might seem a little odd to a lot of people. After all, the majority of us try to follow the rules and show others that we are generally good people. Why then do bad things like illness, divorce, and being fired from a job happen?
The unfortunate truth is that most of us aren't very honest with ourselves. Without even realizing it, the majority of us spend our adult years stuck in the survival modes we learned as children. Even when it is clearly obvious that we won't receive the connection, validation, and protection that we so desire from our parents (or others that we've transferred these needs onto), we continue to try to redeem ourselves. The genuine parts of ourselves (including our true talents and gifts) simply get locked away with the hopes that no one will ever see (and judge) the real us.
Family Reading Night
Darcy J. Hutchins, Marsha D. Greenfeld, Joyce L. Epstein
Eye On Education
6 Depot Way West, Larchmont, NY 10538
9781596670631, $29.95 www.eyeoneducation.com 1-888-299-5350
One of the best ways to insure literate children is for parents to provide support and example through the institution of a regular weekly "Family Reading Night" where reading would be a shared activity engaged in by all family members. To assist concerned parents into creating and maintaining such a home-based program in behalf of their children (and appropriate to all ages and grade levels), Joyce L. Epstein (Founder and Director of the National Network of Partnership Schools -- NNPS -- at Johns Hopkins University) teamed up with former public school teachers and Senior program Facilitators at NNPS, Darcy J. Hutchins and Marsha D. Greenfeld to create "Family Read Night", an step-by-step instruction manual and guidelines for more than 30 activities, ideas for student performances and presentations, ideas for classroom and home connections, as well as invitations and evaluation forms. In addition to enhancing children's basic literacy skills, additional results will include building positive relationships among teachers, parents, and community partners, as well as the promotion of reading and writing outside of the classroom as children learn to value and enjoy the act of reading and the skill of writing. Thoroughly 'user friendly' in every respect, "Family Reading Night" is a valued and strongly recommended addition to school curriculum development materials.
Burying The Secret
PO Box 4668, New York, NY 10163-4668
9780979860904, $14.95 www.buryingthesecret.com
A prolific writer of published articles, Carol Rutter provides the reader with an especially articulate, thoughtful and thought-provoking discussion of what she terms 'the law of attraction' as it relates to relationships and other universal laws and principles in "Burying The Secret: The Road To Ruin is Paved With Books About The Law of Attraction". Drawing upon more than three hundred books in the fields of mysticism, psychology, Eastern philosophy, and metaphysics, Carol as compiled and written a particularly 'reader friendly' and occasionally iconoclastic self-help manual based on key influences that impinge upon the development of the human soul. Among these fundamental influences are the learning of lessons, voluntary acts of redemption, sacrifice, and free will. A seminal work founded upon truly impressive research that spanned a decade, "Burying The Secret" is very highly recommended for non-specialist general readers with an interest in spirituality, self-improvement, and metaphysics.
Children of Divorce
William Bernet, M.D. & Don R. Ash, J.D., M.J.S.
Krieger Publishing Company
PO Box 9542, Melbourne, FL 32902-9542
9781575242880, $31.50 www.krieger-publishing.com 1-800-724-0025
Now in an updated second edition, Children of Divorce: A Practical Guide for Parents, Therapists, Attorneys, and Judges is a no-nonsense, straightforward discussion of what truly constitute's a child's best interests. Written by child and adolescent psychiatrist William Bernet as well as lawyer Don R. Ash (who personally researched the effectiveness of parenting plans for children of divorce), Children of Divorce takes a practical, no-nonsense approach to common dilemmas, while remaining acutely aware that there is no absolute "one size fits all" rule for determining custody in every possible situation. Chapters discuss the harmful effects that fighting can have upon children - stressing that fighting in front of, through, or over the children is frequently the worst possible thing divorcing parents can do - common and uncommon parenting arrangements, the importance of balancing the needs of parents and children (especially when divorced parents divide up a child's schedule to serve their own needs, rather than the child's), the challenges that stepfamilies and blended families face, dealing with holidays, the role of grandparents, what to expect in divorce mediation versus divorce counseling (which are two emphatically different things), and much more. "Although it looks superficially like the child's therapist is the perfect person to testify in a custody dispute, he really is not a good choice. For one thing, the therapist is almost certainly biased in favor of the custodial parent, even though he may try very hard to be neutral... Furthermore, there are risks involved in testifying. For instance, the confidential nature of the therapy will almost certainly be violated if the therapist testifies." Written in plain terms accessible to parents as well as legal and counseling professionals, Children of Divorce cannot be recommended highly enough as an invaluable compilation of wisdom garnered through years of experience.
Raising a Superstar
Terri A. Khonsari
Advantage Media Group
PO Box 272, Charleston, SC 29402
9781599320465, $14.99 www.amazon.com 1-866-775-1696
Written by Iranian-born mother Terri Khonsari, who had to raise her daughter on her own away from her home nation, Raising a Superstar: Simple Strategies to Bring Out the Brilliance in Every Child is a reader-friendly guide written especially for parents, to help children reach their full potential. Defining a "superstar" as one who lives every area of life with passion and joy, Raising a Superstar stresses that good communication with one's child is the number one priority - the better to establish oneself as a positive role model, build confidence in one's children, why it's better to let children figure out their own homework rather than help them with it (though arranging a tutor for a field they are weak in is acceptable), guiding a child to look out and care for other people, and much more. Simple exercises with blank lines for the owner to write in round out this enthusiastic and encouraging parenting supplement.
1718 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 300, Washington, DC 20009-1148
9781597261449 $26.95 www.kitchenliteracy.org www.islandpress.org 1-800-828-1302
"Kitchen Literacy" by Ann Vileisis offers a sensory-rich journey through 200 years of making dinner. From 18th century gardens and historic cookbooks to calculated advertising campaigns and sleek supermarket aisles, Vileisis chronicles profound changes in how Americans have shopped, cooked, and thought about their food for five generations.
As you read this fascinating book, you'll realize that distance between farm and table has grown to the point where most foods travel 1,500 miles or more before they reach the consumer. As the supply chain has lengthened, so have the problems associated with the consumption of our food. Just as "industrial eating" has given rise to the organic movement and local farmers' markets, the problems still exist.
Focusing on what she believes readers will get from her book, Vileisis writes, "I think that readers will most enjoy the stories I tell about historic characters - people who had very different ways of thinking about foods than we do today…Ultimately, I hope that they (also) will gain a better understanding of the complex reasons why we've lost knowledge about where our foods come from."
Thinning the Herd: Tales of the Weirdly Departed
PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437
9781599212197 $14.95 www.LyonsPress.com
Admittedly "Thinning the Herd: Tales of the Weirdly Departed" is a bit on the macabre side. But, for just the right person, this irreverent collection of real-life anecdotes, facts, and observations regarding death will probably be a much appreciated and enjoyed. With chapter headings like "Oops!", "Death's Little Ironies", "It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time" and "Better Luck Next Time", it's apparent the author is trying to inject a little humor into what is not normally a fun topic.
On the book's first page this quote, attributed to Will Shriner, sets the tone for what is to follow: "I want to die in my sleep like my grandfather, not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car." Before making a purchase, I'd suggest you thumb through this book, and then decide if this would be an appropriate gift. On the other hand, you might want to keep it for yourself.
Frederic Beniada and Michel Fraile
0760327033 $60.00 www.mbipublishing.com
Although it has been retired from service, the legendary Concorde can be seen in a few aeronautical museums sprinkled around the globe. For three decades the Concorde was the model of luxurious air travel. The supersonic passenger jet was considered the Rolls-Royce of the skies and priced accordingly.
In "Concorde" Frederic Beniada and Michel Fraile have created a comprehensive photographic look at this aviation icon. This large format volume features 150 unique and stunning photos of the Concorde in a horizontal format perfectly suited for full-page spreads. The ground and airborne images chronicle the majestic bird from its birth to retirement. In addition to the numerous exterior shots, there are spreads of everything from the cockpit and flight attendants to seats and the menu.
For three decades beginning in 1976, the Concorde was flown on transoceanic flights by both British Air and Air France. A decline in air travel, coupled with a tragic crash and rising maintenance costs, eventually grounded the 20 existing Concordes by the end of 2003. Although a bit pricey, this one-of-a-kind photographic history of the plane that flew at a cruising speed of 1,300 mph is worth the investment. For most of us, this is as close as we'll ever get to the Concorde unless we can visit one of the remaining museum specimens.
Classic American Airliners
c/o MBI Publishing Company
Galtier Plaza, Suite 200, 380 Jackson Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-3885
0760319316 $24.94 www.mbipublishing.com 1-800-458-0454
Finally, for those airliner aficionados who yearn for the good old days when planes were smaller (and slower), airports were user friendly, and flying was a fun experience rather than a nasty ordeal, "Classic American Airliners" by Bill Yenne will revive fond memories. This history of the American airliner's embryonic years bridges the prop era that featured the DC-3 and Lockheed Constellation with the dawn of the early jetliners such as the DC-8, Boeing 7-7 and Convair 880.
A combination of modern and period photography transports the reader back to this heady period when commercial air travel was coming into its own and changing the way we all traveled.
Although it has been available for awhile, fortunately Zenith Press continues to offer this classic volume which provides an important overview of the period. No aviation library is complete without a copy of "Classic American Airliners" which is itself now a classic reference/history book.
Early Greek Lawgivers
John David Lewis
International Publishers Marketing
22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, VA 20166
9781853996979, $20.99 www.internationalpubmarket.com 1-800-758-3756
Written by John David Lewis (Visiting Scholar at the Social Philosophy and Policy Center, Bowling Green State University) Early Greek Lawgivers is a scholarly study of the men who brought and administrated law in early Greek city states. The lawgiver's special status enabled him to resolve disputes without violence, and craft social norms of ethical conduct. From the unwritten laws of Lycurgus that created the foundations of the Spartan state, to the written laws of Solon in Athens, to Hippodamus on civic planning, Zaleucus on the divine source of laws, Philolaus on family laws and much more, Early Greek Lawgivers offers a fascinating glimpse into ideas and lives of notable figures in classical Greek history. Highly recommended especially for ancient Greek history shelves and college libraries.
A Cherokee Encyclopedia
Robert J. Conley
University of New Mexico Press
MSC04 2820, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
9780826339515, $24.95 www.unmpress.com 1-800-249-7737
Written for readers of all backgrounds, A Cherokee Encyclopedia is a one-volume quick reference to the different groups of Cherokees within the United States and their history. Entries are listed in alphabetical order and include brief biographies of famous individuals in Cherokee history, different bands of Cherokee Indians in the past and present, Cherokee societies, and more, illustrated with occasional black-and-white photographs. From Keetoowah News, the official newspaper of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma, to modern "tradition bearer" of old songs, tales, Cherokee hymns, and flute melodies Tommy Wildcat, A Cherokee Encyclopedia is an up-to-date resource highly recommended for modern Native American reference shelves.
Source of Wisdom
Charles D. Wright, Frederick M. Biggs & Thomas N. Hall, editors
University of Toronto Press
10 St. Mary Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4Y 2W8
9780802093677, $75.00 www.utppublishing.com 1-800-565-9523
Source of Wisdom: Old English and Early Medieval Latin Studies in Honour of Thomas D. Hill is an anthology of nineteen original essays in tribute to dedicated, prolific, and influential scholar of Old English literature Thomas D. Hill. Many of the writings connect with Hill's chosen research topics; individual essays include "The Fates of Men in Beowulf", "Alfred's Nero", "The Peterborough Chronicle and the Invention of 'Holding Court' in Twelfth-Century England", "The Revelations of Pseudo-Methodius and Scriptural Study at Salisbury in the Eleventh Century", and more. Extensively researched, written with a keen eye toward scholarly restraint, and featuring a fair amount of Old English and Latin excerpts in both the original and in modern English translation, Source of Wisdom is an erudite anthology and a welcome addition to literary studies shelves.
Roy J. Harris Jr.
University of Missouri Press
2910 LeMone Boulevard, Columbia, MO 65201
9780826217684, $39.95 www.umsystem.edu/upress 1-800-828-1894
Former Wall Street Journal reporter Roy J. Harris Jr. presents Pulitzer's Gold: Behind the Prize for Public Service Journalism, an in-depth account of the ninety-year history of the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, especially the most exalted prize of the Joseph Pulitzer Gold Medal. From accountings of the distinguished journalistic coverage that exposed sexual predators among Catholic priests, to the New York Times' role in helping the community cope after the September 11th attacks, to the Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's uncovering of the Watergate scandal, to the Boston Post's revelation of swindling schemes hatched by Charles Ponzi and much more, Pulitzer's Gold takes the reader on a one-of-a-kind historical tour. A distinguished tribute to the journalists who labored to bring the truth to light and help make America better place to live, as well as a studious history of journalism's most prestigious award.
Willis M. Buhle
The Sport Of Schutzhund
BJ Spanos & Peter Spanos
BJ Spanos Ink
367 Adams Road, Fayetteville, Georgia 30214
1884330096, $25.00 www.bjspanos.com
"The Sport Of Schutzhund" is a photographic album featuring 370 photographs contributed by 26 amateur and professional photographers from twelve states (and a few photos from Europe) showcasing the breed of canines called 'Schutzhund' as working dogs in the sport of Schutzhund -- including the training, competitions, the dogs at play and with their families, as well as individual dog portraits and puppies. These full-page, full-color images show the action, rewards, beauty and simple fun associated with training these intelligent canines for competition. Beautifully organized and presented, this singularly unique, 250-page, full-sized coffee table paperback is especially recommended to the attention of dog fanciers in general, and Schutzhund owners in particular.
Notes From The Other China
222 Riverside Drive, 16th floor, New York, NY 10025-6809
9780875865829, $22.95 www.algora.com
Troy Parfitt is an English teacher and "Notes From The Other China: Adventures In Asia" is the story of this Canadian's professional and personal experiences over more than a decade in East Asia in general, and Taiwan (the 'Other China' in particular. The focus is not upon the politics, but upon the individuals Troy encountered, and the cultural context in which those personal and professional encounters took place. Troy combines memoir with travel commentary and cultural analysis with respect to the Koreans, Japanese, Pilipinos, Thais, Cambodians, Nepalese, and Vietnamese he has met, as well as the Taiwanese with whom he lived and worked. The first half of "Notes From The Other China" provides informed and informative insights into Korea's nationalism leading up to the 1997 Asian Economic Crisis, Japan's sex culture, Marcos legacy in the Philippines, Taiwan's type of democracy, and how traditional Chinese culture is in the process of modernizing. The second part of "Notes From The Other China" is a beautifully described travelogue as Troy journeyed from Hanoi to Saigon, from Vietnam to Nepal. Of special note is his commentary on what is regarded in Asia as the 'American War' in Vietnam. Also available in a hardcover edition (9780875865836, $34.95), "Notes From The Other China" is an especially recommended addition to personal, academic, and community library 20th Century Asian History & Culture reference collections and supplemental reading lists.
Roadside Wild Flowers of Christian County
Oak Tree Press
140 East Palmer Street, Taylorville, IL 62568
9781892343437, $20.00 www.oaktree.com
Roadside Wild Flowers of Christian County is a visually appealing field guide to sixty-four naturally occurring types of roadside flowers in Christian County, Illinois. Each flower has its growing season listed, along with its size, species name, and a few brief facts as well as the occasional legend about the species. "The story is told of a little yellow dragon who died when a fried egg (always death to dragons) became stuck in his throat and he was then transformed into the butter and eggs flower." What distinguishes Roadside Wild Flowers of Christian County are its absolutely beautiful illustrations, blending elements of realistic minimalism and artistry. As a result, Roadside Wild Flowers of Christian County is very highly recommended for anyone who enjoys artwork of flowers as well as for Christian hikers, drivers and visitors.
15 West 74th Street, Apt. #8-A, New York, NY 10023
9780979808005, $13.00 www.calamaripress.com
Vaast Bin N Ephemerisi is an original, free-verse poetry collection of multifaceted imagery ranging from lingering moments of impression to stream-of-consciousness, punctuated by the occasional abstract black-and-white illustration. The linguistic stops, starts, and original reinterpretations of individual words offer disjoint glimpses of hectic reality, much like life itself. "Vaast Bin - 1 } 181: the supplanter / } that I was in this power / coxcomber, in the opening of the forest / a movement - in the arcing beams of starheadlights / serrating the indices of black night / O'd sepal parting struumm'd in tuenns / in the dark milk of axionic piors / the shutter thrusts open / seeping into the eyes of the bin / beings, tongue-trilled- / with all instruments denoted".
They Flew Proud
Jane Gardner Birch
1113 Layfield Lane, Crownsville, MD 21032
9781933858258, $35.00 firstname.lastname@example.org
Winner of the National Aviation hall of Fame 2007 'Combs Gates' Award, "They Flew Proud" by Jane Gardner Birch is the story of the national Civilian Pilot Training Program that was a local course of study at Grove City College and the Grove City Airport, Pennsylvania from its pre-World War II founding, to the war years when the college contracted to teach Army Air Force Cadets their academic studies, and the airport provided fixed base operator and flight instructors support for cadets to embark on solo flights. More than 435.000 men and women were taught to fly under the CPTP. In Grove City, 486 students of the 8th Detachment received almost 5,000 hours of instructions before seeing service in the war before the CPTP was abruptly canceled by the government. "They Flew Proud" is also the story of how manager/instructor Gardner Birch refocused the airport to teach civilians to fly, creating five Solo Boards to record the 127 students and their solo dates between the summers of 1944 to 1948. Jane Gardner Birch includes interviews with a number of men and women who retell learning basic flying skills and their solo flights, sharing their memories of their instructors who prepared them to fly some 60 years ago and the strong bonds they experienced with their fellow students, the instructors, and others who shared their enthusiasm for flight. A unique bit of American aviation history, "They Flew Proud" is a very strongly recommended and much appreciated contribution to 20th Century Aviation history and a singular addition to any personal, academic, or community library Aviation Studies reference collection or supplemental reading list.
The Official NRA Guide To Firearms Assembly: Rifles And Shotguns
Joseph B. Roberts & Harris J. Andrews, editors
17603 Indian Head Highway, Suite 200, Accokeek, MD 20607-2501
9780883173343, $24.95 www.stoegerpublishing.com
Now in a newly revised and expanded addition, "The Official NRA Guide To Firearms Assembly: Rifles And Shotguns" examines the history and mechanical details of hundreds of historic and popular rifles and shotguns. Collaboratively compiled and deftly edited by firearm experts Joseph B. Roberts & Harris J. Andrews, "Joseph B. Roberts & Harris J. Andrews" features detailed instructions and accurate 'exploded-view' diagrams proving the precise information needed by the reader to successfully dismantle and then re-assemble their rifle or shotgun. The thoroughly 'user friendly', profusely illustrated, step-by-step instructions show precisely how the various parts of the firearm interact and will prove to be an invaluable instructional guide and reference for collectors, dealers, hunters, and shooting enthusiasts. Also very highly recommended from Stoeger Publishing is Joseph B. Roberts and Harris J. Andrews companion volume, "The Official NRA Firearms Assembly: Pistols And Revolvers" (9780883173350, $24.95).
The Hawai'i Beer Book
Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi
1088 Bishop Street, Suite 310, Honolulu, HI 96813
9780979676925, $15.95 www.bookshawaii.net 1-866-2665
In "The Hawai'i Beer Book: Bars, Breweries & Beer Cuisine", award-winning journalist Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi provides interested readers with a succinct history of brewing in Hawaii, an informative explanation of home brewing, an illustrated tour of Hawaii's local craft breweries, listings and reviews of local bars and restaurants with a special focus on the beers they serve, suggestions for food-and-beer pairings, beer-related recipes, as well as fun beer trivia. From beer books, to breweriana clubs, to beer related podcasts, "The Hawai'i Beer Book" is a unique, confidently recommended, and thoroughly 'user friendly' compendium of practical and fun information that must be considered essential reading for any resident or visitor with an interest in what Hawaii has to offer for beer enthusiasts.
The Lighthouse Encyclopedia
The Globe Pequot Press
PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437
9780762745784, $19.95 www.globepequot.com 1-800-243-0495
An impressively organized and presented 288-page compendium of information, "The Lighthouse Encyclopedia: The Definitive Reference" by lighthouse enthusiast and expert Ray Jones provides a wealth of information and trivia that will be especially appreciated by lighthouse fans and students of maritime history. Offering answers to hundreds of questions about lighthouses, their history, key people associated with them, lighthouse technology, lighthouse organizations, as well as specific lighthouses, "The Lighthouse Encyclopedia" truly lives up to its title. Enhanced with a literally hundreds of full-color photographs and archival images of lighthouses, sidebars addressing light house preservation, lighthouse collectibles, and tips for photographing lighthouses, "The Lighthouse Encyclopedia" is a superb contribution to the growing library of lighthouse literature and a core addition to any personal, academic, or community library reference collection on the subject.
Michael J. Carson
Never Look Back: Phantom Hollow Series Book Two
Multnomah Books a division of Random House
12265 Oracle Boulevard Suite 200 Colorado Springs, Colorado 80921
9781590529225 $12.99 www.mpbooks.com
Twenty-nine year old Ivy Griffith is starting over, just released from a six month stay in prison for keeping quiet about a murder in high school. Yes she could have chose community service instead of prison but knew she had to pay for the past. Totally clean from the drugs and all that was in her past she begins for the first time to raise her seven year old son Montana on her own. Having recommitted her life to Christ she still struggles with forgiving herself and it doesn't help that her brother Rusty won't forgive her, wanting nothing to do with her or Montana and doesn't want his daughters around him for fear he will "act out" something and hurt them. Ivy's parents have been very supportive and glad she's back even giving her a job at the camp they own and a cabin on the property. As Ivy settles into her new life there are new men as well. Luke Draper a vacationing CEO who everyone thinks would be perfect for her but she's drawn to Rue Kessler one of the two men that her father has hired from Brother's Keeper a service helping recovering addicts get a new start on life. Everyone opposes the relationship feeling two recovering addicts cannot be good and Rue seems to be the number one suspect in a rash of home break-ins and beatings in the area but Ivy enjoys spending time with him and he is so good with Montana except when Ivy learns Montana and Rue are keeping a secret from her and he starts acting funny towards her once he sees her ivy tattoo.
As for the break-ins, Rue doesn't have an alibi as he has been star watching alone on the nights of the break-ins so of course with his history it seems the sheriff's department is determined to pin the crimes on him. Luke is not even a suspect since his story of being a vacationing CEO checks out and the only other suspect is Huck Maxfield whom the sheriff's department keeps receiving anonymous phone calls to check out what's going on at old Gus Maxfield's place. But Huck's story seems to check out that he is Gus's grandson who has inherited the place. It seems the attacker is only going after the older senior citizens in the community, beating them up and stealing things of little value except to that senior citizen. The whole town is on edge and the sheriff's department is at a loss as to what is happening.
Author Kathy Herman has done it again in this exceptional book two of the Phantom Hollow series in telling this story of suspense and intrigue. Drawing the reader in from page one and making that reader believe they know the characters personally. A perfect read for high schoolers and adults alike. Also included is a discussion guide for book groups.
This reviewer just could not put it down just like the first book of the series "Ever Present Danger". And again Herman does an incredible job of teaching through the pages of God's unfailing love, amazing grace and how He always has a plan even when we ourselves don't have a clue and can't forgive our past. This novel will definitely stick with you long after you close the book. So by all means sit back and enjoy this spellbinding tale and be prepared for a totally unexpected amazing ending!
Multnomah Books a division of Random House
12265 Oracle Boulevard Suite 200 Colorado Springs, Colorado 80921
9781590529287 $12.99 www.mpbooks.com
Harriet Josephine Bisset - Harri tattooed rebel, the preacher's kid, the ultimate prodigal son come home again from the dark side past of cigarettes, sex and alcohol. But now is back at her old church - First Grace. Totally clean and forgiven by her church and God but cannot seem to forgive herself. Lives at the senior citizen mobile home park because it's safe. There is a new preacher at First Grace since her parents are on the mission field and Harri has been at odds with him since he took over fighting mainly for the rights of the seniors and demanding things stay status quo with no changes especially contemporary music! But changes must be made if First Grace is to survive. Harri is in charge of the Woman's ministry and works at the local cafe that she's working to buy soon. With all this you would think Harri was a senior citizen herself but she's only twenty-eight!! Than to top it off the new pastor brings in a consultant to move First Grace into the present and beyond. Enter gorgeous motorcycle riding, long haired, tattooed Maddox McCray everything Harri has tried to leave behind. She tries to resist for fear the old Harri will rise again but as everyone keeps reminding her including Maddox that she is forgiven and needs to live again but can she? Can the Jelly Bellys continue to help her keep control?
An awesome read for teens and adults alike, also included are discussion questions perfect for readers groups or Bible study groups as this novel is an a fantastic teaching tool.
This is author Tamara Leigh's third Christian novel wanting to write novels that were God honoring and that she has. This is chick-lit or God-lit at it's finest Leigh does an amazing job of allowing us into Harri's life and not just glimpses of her past but spells it out and shows us God's grace and His total forgiveness and shows us we can forgive ourselves and begin a new life. Reviewer's personal note from someone with a past like Harri's this has taught me how I must forgive myself too as I'm sure everyone has things in their past they struggle with as well and this book will help you let go and let God!
So grab a club sized container of Jelly Bellys and sit back and enjoy "Splitting Harriet" you won't regret it!
Mr. Lincoln's T-Mails: The Untold Story of How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War
Harper Collins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061129780 $24.95 www.harpercollins.com 1-800-242-7757
I always enjoy reading books about our past presidents to get a perspective on the accomplishments they made to succeed during their term or terms of office. I envisioned so many books about Abraham Lincoln have been written, that I believe it would take a lifetime to read all of them. I noticed this curious book about him from an author who discussed his tool to communicate with his generals while in the field.
Tom Wheeler is today's high-tech person having been the CEO of technology companies, and the National Cable Television Association and the Cellular Telecommunications and the Internet Association. He is the author of Take Command! Leadership Lessons from the Civil War.
Wheeler discusses how the telegraph enabled Abraham Lincoln to keep his generals from losing the war for the North. He uses his modern day knowledge to show how Lincoln micro-managed his generals. Lincoln's handwritten messages that were telegraphed brings this book to life. Lincoln was able to take advantage of a technology, and it helped develop his leadership by doing it. Lincoln was able to communicate the telegraph as a tool to project his leadership and authority. Wheeler explained it well about how General Ulysses Grant was able to improvise based on changing battlefield conditions. Wheeler said, "His decision to operate from the field would not have been possible, but for the army's central nervous system running over the telegraph wire."
The book covers war decisions and war news. It also was used to instruct and inspire his generals, commute executions and even stay in touch with his alcoholic wife. I agree that the book is an interesting account of Lincoln's dynamic role in the Civil War. Tom Wheeler has given the reader a fascinating history of how a great president used the telegraph to save the country from being split in two.
Blue and Gray Navies: The Civil War Afloat
Spencer C. Tucker
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road Annapolis, MD 21402-5034
One of the topics in my major history interest concerning Civil War history, is the naval portion. There has not been as much exposure in the battles and campaigns on the seas and rivers. Spencer C. Tucker's earlier book A Short History of the Civil War at Sea gave an excellent short and concise view of the naval war. Readers who read this book got an understanding with this tight informative book, that would go from the river warfare to clashes of ironclads, from blockade runners to shipyards, from submarine and mine warfare to the shops. He continues relating about the guns, and the brave men on both sides of the war.
Tucker's next book uses recent scholarship, official records and memoirs of it's participants. The book is direct and agile in its language, and facts which contribute to make an interesting subject even more so. He looks at important roles played by Union and Confederate navies. In this book Tucker does a wider and more complete sweep of the naval Civil War period. He begins with an overview of the United States Navy history to 1861. Then he covers the two navies at the beginning of the war. He follows by examine senior leadership, officers, and personnel, organization, recruitment practices, training, facilities, and manufacturing practices. He discusses the acquisition of ships, with the design and construction of new types, He follows telling us about the armament, and how naval ordnance was developed. He doesn't skip a beat with some detail on both Northern and Southern naval strategies.
I found the book to contain good depth on most areas of the naval subject with a close look at Union blockading of Confederate Atlantic, and Gulf Coasts, river warfare in the Western Theater, Confederate blockade running, and commerce raiders on the high seas. Tucker looks at the Union's major campaigns against New Orleans, Charleston, Vicksburg, and on the Red River. His history narrative goes over the major battles and technological innovations and finally the significance of the Union blockade.
Tucker has written two excellent books on the naval aspects and his latest book completes a fine history coverage. One can appreciate a much better understanding of the events, that occurred near or on the water. This book will stand alone as the standard single-volume history of naval and joint operations during the Civil War.
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
Alexander McCall Smith
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, first published in 1998, is the first in Alexander McCall Smith's acclaimed Botswana series. Precious Ramotswe is the lady detective behind the book's title. She opened her agency with money inherited from her father, Obed Ramotswe. In this first installment we learn about Obed's life--he worked for years in South Africa's mines, saved his money, and later invested in cattle--and also about Mma Ramotswe's early history. ("Mma," pronounced "mah," is a term of respect that appears throughout the book.) She grew up in Mochudi, raised by her father and a cousin. Against her father's wishes she leapt into an unhappy marriage that left her alone and grieving her only child's death in infancy. It's an unhappy chapter in Mma Ramotswe's life, but it packs meat onto her character: she is not all homespun goodness, that is, but was capable in her youth of great folly, and what wisdom she has was hard won. The book offers an account of Mma Ramotswe's earliest cases, which she solves with legwork and good sense and the occasional help of her friends, in particular Mr. J.L.B. Maketoni, the proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. Mma Ramotswe is not the sort of detective one calls upon to solve grand crimes, but neither are all of her cases trivial. In addition to dealing with a client's wayward daughter, for example, and a doctor's worry about his colleague's competency, she is concerned throughout this book with the case of a missing eleven-year-old boy. The story of his disappearance and of her involvement in the case is woven throughout the book.
McCall Smith's series is not plot-driven. Mma Ramotswe's cases give the books their framework, but the focus is on Mma Ramotswe's character and on the country of Botswana itself: the setting of McCall Smith's books is at least as important to the stories as his protagonist. But although one doesn't think of the books primarily as mysteries, they are in fact good cozies, so the books can be enjoyed on that score as well.
If you haven't yet stumbled on McCall Smith's series, you have yet to experience the singular joy of slipping into Mma Ramotswe's world. There is something soothing about the experience, and I'm not sure how the author achieves this magic: the simplicity of his language, perhaps, or of his characters' ethos. At any rate, the books are a pleasure to be savored.
Up until now I'd somehow missed Dean Koontz's career. He's written some fifty books, a number of them New York Times bestsellers. His first book was published in 1968, and he published his breakthrough novel Whispers in 1980. He's one of those writers whose names appear in larger type than the titles on their book covers. Reading Koontz's 2006 thriller The Husband, I can see why he's so successful. The book is lightning paced, with short, easily swallowed chapters and a heart- thumper of a plot. The premise: 27-year-old landscaper Mitchell Rafferty--married three years and still crazy in love with his wife-- gets a call on his cell phone in the middle of the day. Mitch's wife has been kidnapped. The psychopaths holding her tell Mitch he has to fork over two million dollars in sixty hours' time. They're deadly serious--a point they make abundantly clear within minutes of contacting him. At once Mitch's contented world is shattered. And we get to watch as he tries to figure out how to get his hands on the money and save his wife and evade the police and elude surveillance. And so on. It's a really good read. What I particularly like is that Koontz takes us through his protagonist's thought processes, so that we understand how a regular guy might respond to the insane situation into which he's been thrust. When Mitch needs to buy ammunition for a gun he's gotten his hands on, for example, he doesn't know how to ask for it at the counter of a gun shop without looking suspicious. We get to see how he decides what to do, sitting in the car outside the store. That Mitch has to fumble his way through things, thinking on the run, makes his response to the kidnapping more realistic.
The book is not without flaws. The author sometimes allows an almost mystical element to creep into the story, which isn't necessary:
"An important truth hid from him, hid not in shadows, hid not behind the boxed holidays, but hid from him in plain sight. He saw but was blind. He heard but was deaf.
"This extraordinary perception grew more intense, swelled until it became oppressive, until it had such a physical dimension that his lungs would not expand. Then it rapidly subsided, was gone."
There are a couple really bad sentences in the book. (One of them has the word "susurration" in it, so it may be an inside joke: Koontz is apparently known for using the word in most of his novels.) The ending is a little disappointing. And Koontz gives his protagonist an elaborate but implausible back story--his parents raised Mitchell and his siblings as if they were science experiments, subjecting them, for example, to extended periods of sensory deprivation and humiliation. The background serves to explain the characters and reactions of Mitchell and his brother Anson, who plays a large role in the story, but it's all a bit over the top and distracting and, again, unnecessary. Mitchell and Anson need not have endured so unusual a childhood to have ended up as they are.
The Husband is flawed, to be sure, and it's the sort of book that would get Harold Bloom tut tutting from on high. But it'll also remind you how fun it can be to get lost in a page-turner.
Whatever You Do, Don't Run
The Lyons Press
c/o The Globe Pequot Press
246 Goose Lane, P.O. Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437
Beginning in the mid-1990s, Peter Allison worked as a safari guide, primarily in Botswana. In Whatever You Do, Don't Run, Allison tells stories about his life in the bush. There are animal stories aplenty--a herd of elephants clustering protectively around its calving matriarch, a giant Python intent on crushing the life out of the author, an infestation of mice so desperately hungry they took to chewing on bald men's heads. But guides have to deal with paying guests as well as wild animals, and Allison does not shy from criticizing the spoiled and stupid among his tour groups.
In the hands of a more witty writer (think J. Maarten Troost's The Sex Lives of Cannibals), the material at Allison's disposal might have resulted in an unputdownable read. Allison's book isn't, but his stories are cute and amusing, and the author himself is likable and agreeably self-deprecating. Most interestingly, Whatever You Do, Don't Run gives readers a glimpse of an unusual llfestyle that most of us will probably not have given much thought to before: what's it like, day-to-day, to lead tourists around herds of impala and crocodile-infested rivers? If the subject matter is of interest, or if you like to browse the lives of people with jobs far different from yours, Allison's book is worth a quick read.
Wish I Could Be There
Allen Shawn's book on phobias is often fascinating, sometimes hard going, and always written in laudably precise prose. Shawn's approach to the subject is two-fold. In several chapters he discusses the science of phobias. He writes, for example, about the various types of phobia, about the functioning of the brain, about how the brain responds to fear, about Darwin and Freud. Though a layman, Shawn has done a lot of research on the topic, and he is clearly a very smart guy. These chapters of the book were, for me, the boring bits, but I can easily imagine a more scientifically inclined reader enjoying them as much as the rest of the book.
Shawn also discusses the subject of phobias from a personal perspective. He is riddled with phobias himself--the fear of elevators and of tunnels, of closed spaces and open spaces and unfamiliar routes. Though he's managed to enjoy a successful career as a composer, his agoraphobia has significantly curtailed his activities. In exploring his life as a phobic, Shawn unpacks his childhood, subjecting his family's dynamics to dispassionate analysis. His was an unusual family.
Shawn's parents were themselves both neurotic. Many subjects were taboo in the home--the relationship of the meat on one's plate to its animal source, for example, his mother's mental health, human sexuality:
"Before I left for music camp at thirteen, my father told me that I might encounter an activity called masturbation while I was there, but he looked as if he might be about to commit suicide after our conversation."
Also unmentioned was the fact that Shawn's father (William Shawn, who was the editor of the New Yorker for 35 years) was living a double life, carrying on a long-term relationship with another woman, whose existence was known to his wife but not his children. That so many subjects were off-limits, and that a great secret was being kept by the parents, put an emotional strain on the family. Shawn was also scarred by his early separation from his twin sister, Mary, who was autistic (a modern diagnosis of her developmental problems) and was institutionalized at the age of eight. (Shawn's older brother is the actor Wallace Shawn.)
Shawn's discussion of his parent's neuroses and the impact they had on his family, so lucidly discussed, makes for riveting reading. Here, for example, is a description of how his mother's need to control events was sometimes manifested:
"She couldn't and didn't drive, and she shared my father's need to direct every turn a driver should make while taking her somewhere. On the occasions when we traveled as a family in a rented car with a driver, she held the map and dictated every move. A drive to Lincoln Center was planned almost like a military campaign. A taxi driver would be addressed with the utmost courtesy but in a manner appropriate for someone who didn't speak English, did not know the city well, and was hard of hearing. Neither of my parents would ever have dreamed of stating the destination at the outset of the drive. The exact route was doled out slowly, and the final destination always saved for last. 'Thank you. Now, we want to go down FIFTH AVENUE to the EIGHTY-FIFTH STREET TRANSVERSE...and then across to...COLUMBUS."
I should add that Shawn's account is utterly devoid of rancor: he is not out to blame his parents for his own problems. In exploring the roots of his phobias he is laying bare the strange environment in which they were nurtured, but his approach is analytical. He could almost be an anthropologist describing the habits of test subjects. The result is a very interesting read.
Calvin Trillin's wife Alice died of cardiac arrest in 2001. During their 36-year marriage, Alice had served as Trillin's muse and first editor, and she often featured as a sort of character in his writing. (I confess I've only read one other book by Trillin, his 2001 novel Tepper Isn't Going Out). In About Alice, published in 2006, Trillin seems to be trying to define his wife's personality, to preserve a piece of it for the record, to explain why she inspired his devotion. It is not a maudlin account. He writes about Alice's attitudes toward parenting and money, for example, about the role she played in his writing, her charity work, her cancer scare in 1976. The book is a sort of extended love letter to Alice, to be sure, but a further point of the exercise is to be found on the book's dedication page. About Alice is dedicated not to her, but to the couple's grandchildren, who will never know her. The book is a nice gift to them, and to Alice. About Alice is brief--it only takes about an hour to read--and Trillin's prose goes down easy. The book should be of particular interest to readers familiar with Trillin's characterization of his wife in earlier books.
A Testament in Purgatory
M. Kevin Durak & Scott D Muck
9781424118953 $16.95 www.PublishAmerica.com
On the copyright page there was a statement. "At the specific preference of the author Publish America allowed this work to remain exactly as the author intended, verbatim, without editorial input." In all the years I've done reviews I have never seen a statement like that by any publisher. The authors should not be proud of that because this work needed a great deal of editing. From the beginning there is confusion because the first person narrative switches characters making it difficult to follow. It is further complicated by the name at the beginning of each chapter implying that is the person telling their story. The work had some moments where it was focused, but the end is very shallow. For me there were too many things detracting from the enjoyment of the novel. The authors had a good idea but it is very poorly handled. No major publisher would accept no revisions. My advice to the authors is have many people read their manuscript for criticism before they send it out to be published.
Engineer Kathy Gillette
Foreword by Toronto Firefighter Graham Voss
Alacheri Publishing LLC
P O Box 26587, Indianapolis, Indiana 46226
Gillette breaks new ground in the realm of books about firefighters. She takes off the gloves and shows how hard it is for women to make it in a profession dominated by men. All she wanted was to be accepted in this occupation. Gillette reveals the attitudes of her fellow workers and shows that she deserves to be a part of the team. She is the female Dennis Smith.
1663 Liberty Drive Bloomington, Indiana 47403
9781414060804 $15.95 1 800-839-8640 www.authorhouse.com
Terrorists take over computers in the United States causing havoc on the roads, phones, and anything else that uses the machines. They also have kidnapped a computer genius's daughter. They say they will return her if they receive a certain amount of money. The money is to be dropped at sea at a certain geographical location. The package is dropped but a man out for a day of fishing picks up the bundle. A short time later federal agents storm his home thinking he is involved. He's not but he is the terrorist's worst threat because he is a retired covert military agent. The story is a fast paced tale that moves along briskly until its final explosive ending. This is a great first in a series.
P.O. Box772246, Coral Springs, Fl 33077-2246
9781595268105 $14.95 www.llumina.com
Terrorists hit sports events all over the world. Greg Norman and his girlfriend, the main characters from "Terrorist.Com," are back in action searching for the perpetrators of the crimes they continue to see unfold. The author once again has written a story that is a fast paced thriller that races along to its final volatile end. Both of this author's books would make great movies.
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780505527448 $6.99 www.dorchesterpub.com
Drew Henderson, the weather guy at USBC TV station, has a problem. While covering a hurricane in Florida he is injured and laid up in the hospital. The station is faced with a problem as well. They have to have someone do the weather segment of the evening news. Rowie Shakespeare, a resident astrologer, is hired and the ratings go through the roof. When Drew gets out, he has a major dilemma: how can he get his job back? He also falls for the new weather lady. Jane Tara has written a novel that is fun and a delightful romance tale.
MacAdam Cage Publishing
155 Samsome Street Suite 550, San Francisco, CA 94104
9781596922099 $26.00 www.macadamcage.com
This second Lomax & Biggs mystery is much better than the first one. Starting with the fact that it is shorter and faster paced. The author takes the reader behind the scenes of Hollywood while the detectives solve a grisly murder. The novel is a fun read that is a great crime novel.
Because She Can
Hachette Book Group USA
1271 Avenue of the Americas
New York NY 10020
9780446195232 $7.99 www.HachetteBookGroupUSA.com www.bridieclark.com
Claire Truman has a great job with a publishing company, but she is offered a position with a much bigger house. She wants the new employment but has some doubts because of what she has heard about Vivian Grant, who would be her new boss. All of her friends tell her not to take it because of what they know about Vivian. But Claire feels it is a stepping-stone to much greater work. So she takes the position and finds out for herself that Vivian is a tyrant. Claire has no life for herself. Everywhere she turns there is Vivian. This is an entertaining tale that shows how bad a boss can be.
The Deadliest Strain
World Wide Library
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9
9780778324584 $6.99 www.Mirabooks.com
Once again this author delivers a rapid-fire tale of suspense that is torn from the headlines of news stories. There is germ warfare that is being placed all over the nation. The results are gruesome. The country has a short window of time to find out who the culprits are and destroy the weapon.
Nick & Slim the Legend of the Falcon Mine
White Wolf Studio
P. O. Box 490, Windermere, Fl 34786
9780446195232 $19.95 www.whitewolfstudio.com
Eleven-year-old Nick Stewart is having trouble at school. He is the new kid and other students are giving him a hard time. His dad is deep into his work and that adds to his problems. Nick is framed for stealing a museum artifact. His life couldn't be more screwed up. Somehow the stolen journal of Slim Marano who was hanged for a murder ends up in Nick's possession. Slim always said he did not commit the killing. Now his spirit comes to Nick and takes him back in time to help solve the case. This is a fun fantasy mystery, a YA tale that like, the Harry Potter novels, can be read and enjoyed by any age group.
Around the World on Two Wheels
Kensington Publishing Corp
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022
9780806528519 $22.95 1-800-221-2647 www.kensingtonbooks.com
Women have always been at the forefront of change. This is a remarkable story of a Jewish woman who in the year1894 decided to ride a bicycle around the world in a certain amount of time and transformed the world for women athletes. Annie Kopchovksky was the first female to get product endorsements for her event. For author Peter Zheutlin this is personal because this is the story of his great-grandaunt.
The writer brings to life the feel of the times and recreates her trip throughout the world and shows that women can do anything a man can do.
The End Of The Affair
c/o Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
9780142437988, $14.00 www.penguin.com
"Emotionally Difficult To Read"
Drinking a glass of bile might be a more pleasant experience than reading Graham Green's THE END OF THE AFFAIR, but it wouldn't be as insightful. He's masterfully managed to make you feel as if your own heartstrings had snapped in a sordid love affair and you were hell bent on hurting someone. Thankfully, he's kept this emotionally difficult novel mercifully short.
First person narrator Maurice Bendrix spills the truth about his married lover, Sarah Miles, in perverse dribs and drabs because he wants you to hate her as much as he does until he sets the record straight. Although the twist ending seems at first contrived and manipulative, it is, in retrospect, perfectly within Bendrix's pitifully wounded character to make us feel as miserable as he does.
Right Ho, Jeeves
c/o Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
0140284095, $9.00 www.penguin.com
Any sentient person would describe P.G. Wodehouse's RIGHT HO, JEEVES as a perfectly plotted novel about, well, what? A muddleheaded aristocrat trying to back out of an accidental engagement? A socially inept newt fancier trying to work up the nerve to propose to the girl he loves? A blustering Aunt trying to bulldoze money out of her tightwad husband? Two stubborn blisters breaking their engagement because he doesn't believe she nearly got inhaled by a shark while aquaplaning in the south of France? A butler showing his disdain over an employer's dinner jacket?
In other words, it's a novel about... nothing, which sounds frivolous, doesn't it? Yet I dare you to put it down once you've started it. I dare you not to be delighted. I dare you not to marvel at Wodehouse's magnificent craftsmanship, and how he seamlessly weaves these half dozen plot lines into a most satisfying, last-page conclusion. And, finally, I dare you not to want to pick up another of his almost 100 novels or short story collections, with 14 of those involving Jeeves and Bertie Wooster written over a 51 year span.
Down Into Darkness
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Minotaur
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312347420 $24.95 646-307-5151, www.thomasdunnebooks.com
This is the fourth book by David Lawrence, all in the Stella Mooney series. Stella is a 33-year-old London detective sergeant, and a body found in the rough section known as Harefield Estate hits a little too close too home for her - this is where she spent her youth, an appalling neighborhood, known for its flagrant drug-dealing and prostitutes. Stella never knew her father, and hasn't seen her mother in ten years. In those early years, the author tells us, Stella spent her time "watching the weather, following the flight of birds and wishing she could do that, wishing she could find a thermal, like the city gulls, and tilt, sliding down the wind until she reached somewhere that was somewhere else. Stella keeping quiet, keeping to herself, reading her own school reports, because her mother never would, looking for a way out, taking charge of her own life."
As the book opens the naked body of a young woman, no more than 20 years old, is found hanging from a tree, the words "dirty girl" scrawled in marker across her back. When another body is found soon thereafter, a man whose neck has been nearly severed found tied to a bench near the river, the words "filthy coward" similarly written across his arms, it would appear that the police have a serial killer on their hands. But a connection between the victims is hard to discern: the girl was apparently a prostitute, the man a researcher for a prominent Member of Parliament. As to the motive for the killings, Stella finds herself thinking: "'Who are you to be judge and executioner?' She gave a little shudder and suddenly was filled with a just and intense loathing for this man, this lone vigilante, this angel of wrath, or whatever he considered himself to be." But even more than the police procedural aspect of the book, as good as it is, the pull of the writing lies in the characters, among them DI Mike Sorley, Stella's boss and her close friend; Stella's lover, John Delaney, former was correspondent but currently a features writer currently working on something called The Rich List; who misses the action, and, of course, Stella herself. Most of all the book is about "secret lives. Who could ever know everything about anyone?," as Delaney says.
The poetry evident in this author's writing evinces his background as a prize-winning English poet. The book is gripping, its characters well-drawn and though similarities may be found in the writing of Ian Rankin and TV's Prime Suspect, among others, they are nonetheless original creations. This is a haunting novel, and one I won't soon forget. Highly recommended.
Hell for the Holidays
Carroll & Graf
c/o Da Capo Press
11 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142
9780786720606 $27.95 617-252-5200, www.dacapo.com
Chris Grabenstein, the author of the wonderful John Ceepak/Jersey Shore mystery series, this time has brought back Chris Miller in a sequel to Slay Ride, which was published a little over a year ago. Chris is the African-American FBI agent from Jersey City whose daughter's life was endangered in the earlier book.
His daughter, now seven years old, is suffering from PTSD as the anniversary of that traumatic event nears. Chris' attention is diverted from those problems when the ten-year-old son of a neighbor, a Hispanic Customs Agent, is kidnapped on Halloween Night, and a few days later Chris is called to the scene of a kidnapping in another part of the country which appears to be a hate crime: the victims are gay, and Chris' special expertise is needed. But something much more sinister is brewing: domestic terrorists in the form of a White Supremacist hate group are planning an attack, to coincide with Thanksgiving Day, that most American of holidays. They are armed with sophisticated weapons, and overflowing with hatred.
Mr. Grabenstein has given his growing audience a taut, fast-moving thriller, packed with suspense and a wonderful hero [dubbed "Saint Chris" by his friends and neighbors] determined to stop the impending catastrophe. Filled with suspense and scarily real 'bad guys,' Hell for the Holidays is a great read, at holiday time or any other.
Philip R. Craig and Wm. G. Tapply
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781416532569 $24.00 www.SimonandSchuster.com 800-223-2336
In this, the third entry in the Brady Coyne/J.W. Jackson adventures, after the earlier "First Light" and "Second Sight," Brady has been called to Martha's Vineyard, where J.W. presently makes his home. Larry Bucyck, a client who he hasn't heard from in years calls him when he fears his life is in danger, and implores Brady to help him. J.W.'s help is enlisted when the steamship strike on the island has idled the ferries which are virtually the only way to get to the island from what they term America [i.e., the mainland].
J.W. has his own problems: His wife, Zeolinda ["Zee"], has prevailed upon him to investigate the death of her friend's husband, who is believed to have died while trying to blow up the engine room of a boat, all part of the growing tensions arising from the strike. It soon appears that two men have died from seeing what they should not have seen, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is not apparent at first in what manner these two threads will come together, but the reader knows it will happen at some point and in some way as the book progresses. The tale moves at a measured pace, unhurriedly, much as life itself does on a summer's day in Martha's Vineyard, I imagine, and with equal pleasure.
The authors alternate chapters with their respective protagonists moving the plot along, Mr. Craig's J.W. Jackson, the former Boston cop and Vietnam vet, happily married after ten years and with two young children. The steamship company has till now been the only viable lifeline between the Vineyard and America; now men are using their own boats, making two, three trips a day, ferrying eight cars at a time, and it was just such a boat that was destroyed in the attempted torching which resulted in the man's death. There are others who are making good money during the strike, ferrying people and cars and freight night and day, for whom the strike is a boon. Meanwhile Brady, who describes himself as a wills and estates lawyer from Boston and a trout fisherman, must find out who killed his former friend and client, who he describes as a "shy, private guy, living like Thoreau down there in the Menemsha woods. He said he just wants to be left alone," an innocent enough man who had managed to find a simple life on his own. Had indeed "carved out a little Walden for himself in a patch of woods on Martha's Vineyard, how he raised chickens and pigs…how he built stone sculptures that I guessed would stand there for eons, the Stonehenge of future generations…" The island at the moment is inundated with "pilgrims who came seeking the Promised Land, found it, and now can't leave because of the strike. The gods are Jesters." "The island cops were already stretched thin by the strike and by Larry Bucyck's murder, to say nothing of maintaining law and order among 100,000 August people who were rowdier than usual because they didn't like being trapped, even though they were trapped in Eden."
It would appear that the first man's death wasn't a suicide and that moreover there is a plot afoot with very sinister implications which Brady's client may have stumbled upon. These two authors, who were also great friends with a common love of the natural world, fishing and the Boston Red Sox, have put together a seamless, well-written and suspenseful book, with the personalities of their protagonists blending into a well-oiled machine that gets done that which it must, never losing sight of the women they love or their love for the beauty of their surroundings and their fishing. The writing is wonderful. Mr. Craig's J.W., at the end of a tense day, waiting for Mr. Tapply to return: "'I imagine Brady's fine,' I lied. I felt I was on the lip of the Void, ready to fall. We sat close together in the fading evening light and looked out over the gray waters of Nantucket Sound where the sailboats were easing toward harbor under the low dark sky. In spite of the sultry summer heat, the earth seemed without form, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. What had become of Brady?" And Mr. Tapply's Brady, confronting one of the 'bad guys: "Harry Doyle ignored me. He hunched his shoulder, squinted his eye, peered through the sight on his weapon, and tracked it across the sky above us like a skeet shooter wringing on a high-flying clay pigeon."
I particularly enjoyed J.W.'s query to Mr. Brady: "Maybe we can bring Stoney Calhoun down from Maine. He's as good as [Sam] Spade." Brady gave me a blank look. "Who's Stoney Calhoun?" "I'm not absolutely sure, and neither is he." Calhoun is, of course, another uniquely Wm. Tapply creation. These words by Mr. Craig particularly spoke to me: "Above us, the innocent blue sky held clouds whiter than newborn lambs, and the sun shone down onto a world that should have been devoid of murder." Sadly, it is a voice we will hear no more. That is the last collaboration between these two esteemed writers, and the end of their friendship as well, as Mr. Craig recently passed away. But this is a book that can be enjoyed on many levels: It is suspenseful, yet evocative of beautiful scenes of island life, beauty and leisure. [Actually, the authors had me before page one, with quotes from both Milton's Paradise Lost and Yogi Berra.]
Preaching to the Corpse
Berkley Prime Crime
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780425218372 $6.99 800-847-5515
Rebecca Butterman is back, after her debut in Deadly Advice, in the second entry in the charming new series by Roberta Isleib. Rebecca is a clinical psychologist, as well as writing a weekly advice column, what she describes as "Bloom magazine's answer to Ann Landers…I moonlight as Dr. Aster, Bloom! Online magazine's expert on heartbreak and love…comforting the sick at heart and counseling the confused." [There are even a few column entries included, always enlightening.] But suddenly she is called upon late one night when Reverend Wesley, the minister at her local church, is being held in custody after a woman he visited died shortly after he got there, apparently having been poisoned. He refuses to talk to the police until Rebecca arrives. The dead woman was heading up the committee formed to choose a new minister for the Shoreline Congregational Church in their small Connecticut town, a position intended to smooth the transition, from a man who had suddenly left the congregation, to his successor.
Rebecca is persuaded by the detective in charge of the case to accede to the pleas of Wesley to head up the committee in the place of the dead woman. Her ambivalence is partially caused by the fact that she and the detective had briefly had a relationship of sorts in the case at the heart of the prior novel, which quickly ended due to the fact that he was married. But she agrees to help, saying "If I can help ease Wesley off the hook, it helps the whole church."
The victim was known to be secretive and controlling, but the cops are hard pressed to try to find a motive. The ensuing investigation, by the detective with the decided assistance of Rebecca, turns up some surprising things and, of course, endangers her life. In the process, she gives the reader yet another wonderful read. Rebecca is an interesting protagonist, still getting over the dissolution of her marriage, saying of herself "The man in my life purrs and uses a litter box. Slightly pathetic." I have been a fan of this author's terrific Golf Lover's Mysteries, but this new one is every bit as much fun. Recommended.
Alan Dean Foster
Del Rey Books
A division of Random House, Inc.
New York, NY
It is great news for those fans of the Pip and Flinx adventures that Trouble Magnet has been released mass market. The ongoing adventure is a needed fix for those addicted to the characters and storyline. Trouble Magnet continues the captivating saga started thirty-five years ago. The biggest problem is that the story should be shorter. To fill the length, plot twists and sequences from earlier books in the series are retold. A desire from publishers to push story length to fixed sizes has changed a short fast narration into a padded tale that is weakened by excess wordage.
Flinx is despondent about humanity's weaknesses that he has witnessed at Repler, the greed and the excessive use of power by the dealers of the lethal drug Bloodhype. He wonders if his quest to save the galaxy is worth not being with his true love, Clarity. He decides to see if humanity is worth saving by going to a modern Sodom and Gomorrah, the open Commonwealth planet Visaria. As with the biblical angels, he finds nothing until he happens upon an attempted mugging of two visiting Thranx by a gang of youths. A young member of the gang reminds Flinx of his own hard life on Moth and attracts his attention. Flinx finds an analog to his own past in the street, but on a simpler everyday scale. He needs to find out where this teen living on the edge of good and evil will go and if it will change his own opinion of humanity.
For any who are reading the Pip and Flinx stories Trouble Magnet is a must read. It is not one of the best in the series but it has all of the expected characters and SF world creation that you look for in a book by Foster. It would be a great story if it was about fifty pages shorter. Now all I have to do is get my hands on Patrimony, the next book in the series.
Caitlin R. Kiernan
An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
Beowulf is more than just a story about a mythical hero fighting a monster. This version of the tale has the three monsters, Grendel, his mother and a dragon, of the original story but changes the story to link the conflicts into a different whole. It actually changes Grendel's mother into something more than just a demon. She becomes a demigod playing with the fate of men.
King Hrothgar is celebrating his new hall, Heorot. His men celebrate and drink themselves unconscious. Grendel can not stand the merrymaking of men and attacks the hall. King Hrothgar's men can not stand against the monster and he calls for heroes to destroy the monster. Heorot is closed and Hrothgar's kingdom is teetering near collapse when Beowulf and a group of his men come to Heorot seeking glory and honor in battle.
Beowulf is an adult tale about how the desire needed to be a hero and leader of men is also a weakness. It is a three part morality play that claims the downfall of a hero can also be his greatest hour. It is a good story that uses a strong mythology as a foundation for a lesson on human weakness. You will find it a blending to enjoy.
Bad Faith: The Danger of Religious Extremism
Neil J. Kressel
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst NY 14228-2197
Neil Kressel leaves no doubt that he is on the side of the good guys when he writes (p. 18), "The freedom to follow the religion of one's choice, or no religion at all, is one of Western civilization's greatest accomplishments and greatest treasures. Achieved over a period of centuries after all the alternatives proved worse..." And he asks the right questions, such as (p. 20), "Are some religions, religious doctrines, and religious practices more apt to inspire hatred and extremism than others?" He reports that (p. 26), "I am revolted by the incredible clamor of anti-Jewish hatred that has been spewed under the guise of Christianity, mainly in the past, and Islam, mainly in the present." But (p. 26) he adds that, while he is an ethnic Jew, "I have little sympathy for those whom I deem extreme within Judaism."
On the issue of appeasement, Kressel is at best ambivalent. He quotes with apparent sympathy (p. 34) a Christian columnist, "who charges slander when the Religious Right in the United States is denounced, as it has been by some liberals [correctly], as 'the American Taliban.'" Yet he declares (p. 17) that, "there is much room to argue" with Ann Coulter's contention, "that the problem is not one of 'religious' extremism at all, only one of Muslim extremism." But he is no Neville Chamberlain, and indeed acknowledges that the failure to stand up to Muslim attempts to abolish free speech has been and still is a large part of the problem. He writes (p. 16), "Muslim extremists may well have learned the lesson that if they are brutal enough, tough enough, and determined enough, they can intimidate the West, despite the empty professions of belief in freedom of expression."
But in defending moderate religionists, he argues (p. 26) that, "irreligion is no guarantee of moderation." In support of that assertion he cites "communism and Nazism." Newsflash: The fascist oligarchies posing as communists, as if the current rulers of China and Burma differ from each other in any way whatsoever, are indeed irreligious. But Nazism, far from being irreligious, was simply an extremist form of Catholicism. Hitler's Final Solution could never have left the drawing board without the active support of the equally totalitarian Pope Pius XII.
Chapter one did not set out to prove that Tim LaHaye, author of the Left Behind series of novels, is dangerously, criminally, morally unevolved to the point of conforming to any reasonable definition of insanity. That is just the way it turned out. Of the twelfth volume in the series, Kressel describes the Second Coming of LaHaye's imaginary playmate (p. 36) as, "a gory scene of blood and entrails in which all the world's non-Christians are thrown into an everlasting holocaust." He quotes a critic who raised the question of how the rest of the world would have reacted to a Muslim novel in which all non-Muslims were subjected to such a sadistic masturbation fantasy, and who called the scene, "ethnic cleansing celebrated as the height of piety." An author who can see the ultimate holocaust of six billion humans guilty only of not believing what LaHaye believes as godly, virtuous and defensible, is incapable of telling right from wrong. That is the legal definition of insanity in almost every country in the world. LaHaye's novels culminate in his god proving itself to be a sadistic, evil, mass-murdering psychopath that fails to conform to even minimum standards of human decency. And how could it be anything else, when it was created out of what LaHaye sees in the mirror?
Kressel cites "a few observers" as endorsing the opinion that (p. 39), "President Bush, driven by Christian faith and possessed of a powerful tendency to see the world in terms of good and evil, is - despite his public respect for all mainstream religions - a religious extremist." It is an opinion Kressel does not appear to endorse. Newsflash: Bush has imposed his fundamentalist opposition to scientific research that could save thousands of lives on the overwhelming majority of Americans who disagree with him. He has diverted tax money to the teaching of religion, in treasonous violation of the First Amendment. He has attempted to deprive women of sovereignty over their own bodies, in depraved indifference to the beliefs of the majority. He has gone to extreme lengths to deny same-sex couples the right to marry the partners of their choice that his Talibanite Gestapo demands for itself. And he has stacked the Supreme Court with evolutionary throwbacks as determined as himself to turn America into a fascist theocracy that is a mirror image of the Taliban's Afghanistan. If Bush is not a religious extremist, then neither is Osama bin Laden. The only difference between the two is that bin Laden does not have to answer to a legislature capable of preventing him from carrying out whatever unspeakable atrocity he believes his imaginary Sky Fuhrer demands.
Kressel writes (p. 43) that, "Religious extremism is not unique in any meaningful sense to Islam. Yet it is undeniably in the world of Islam where - these days - manifestations of religious hatreds and terror have been … most supported by mainstream clerics. To deny this … is to deny reality. Moreover, Islamic terrorists themselves adamantly insist that their motivation is religious in nature. We would do well to take this claim seriously." On the other hand, he quotes (p. 42) an author who observed that, "The massacre of more than 7,000 Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995 never led to a stream of articles in the press about the violent tendencies of Christianity." A point that neither Kressel nor his source raised is that the religious nature of the Srebrenica massacre was covered up by the news media, by calling the perpetrators of the genocide "Serbs" rather than Orthodox Christians, and their victims "ethnic Albanians" rather than Muslims.
After chapters on "Militant Islam: The Present Danger," "Killers in Every Faith: Christians and Jews," and "Dangerous Books," meaning the Tanakh, Bible and Koran, Kressel concludes (p. 265) that, "Society need not respect dysfunctional and destructive beliefs, but it must tolerate them. Religious conduct, on the other hand, may sometimes require limitations…. When religion becomes evil, it must be treated as such."
Prometheus Books tries to maintain a balanced catalogue, publishing books by authors who argue that terrorists violate the true spirit of religion, books by authors who argue that terrorism is the true spirit of religion, and books by authors such as Neil Kressel who try to take a neutral position. As to which group is right, I am on the side of those who agree with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchins, and Victor Stenger. Unless the masses are made to realize that religion, besides being a delusion and a failed hypothesis, is the root of all evil, there is no possibility of humankind exterminating religion before religion exterminates humankind.
God: The Failed Hypothesis - How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist
Victor J. Stenger
The appearance of books by Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris on America's most reliable bestseller lists is solid evidence that the religious propaganda that nontheists constitute as little as fifteen or even ten percent of the population is one more example of the Big Lie. Now Victor Stenger demolishes the biggest Big Lie, that religion can only be disbelieved, not disproven. Stenger does to the God delusion what the first photographs of the Martian surface did to the "canals" delusion.
Dawkins and Harris demonstrated that religion cannot be true, by using the technique of reductio ad absurdum to show that reality includes observable situations that could not exist if the world was produced and directed by an omnipotent, omnibenevolent Cecil B. DeMille in the sky. I demonstrated in Mythology's Last Gods that religion is not true, by tracing all claims of a god revealing its existence to the same Tanakh, Bible and Koran that assure their readers that the earth is flat. But that was fifteen years ago, a time when in all likelihood neither Dawkins nor Harris could have got their current books published. Obviously things have changed, and if Stenger is able to reach the masses, as I could not, the very survival of the human race that religion is threatening to exterminate might conceivably be possible. Of course millions of professional parasites, facing instant unemployment, will fight and scream all the way to the welfare banks, as happened following the abolition of the slave trade and the reduction of opium smuggling, whaling, and greenhouse gas emissions. But considering the alternative, that is acceptable collateral damage.
Stenger does not set out to prove that gods do not exist. Given the number of possible definitions of what constitutes a god, nothing short of close inspection of every cubic centimeter of the universe could prove that. He contents himself with proving that "God," defined as a god, "having the attributes that are traditionally associated with the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God," does not exist (p. 11). "This book is an investigation of the evidence for the existence of God - not all gods" (p. 12).
According to Stenger, "The existence of a God will be taken as a scientific hypothesis and the consequences of that hypothesis searched for in objective observations of the world around us" (p. 17). He finds that, "It does not appear - based on the scientific evidence - that a God exists who answers prayers in any significant, observable way" (p. 103). "It seems inconceivable that a creator exists who has a special love for humanity, and then just relegated it to a tiny point in space and time. The data strongly suggest otherwise" (p. 161). "The observed universe and the laws and parameters of physics look just as they can be expected to look if there is no God. Even from this we can conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that such a God does not exist" (p. 164). "We should be able to find remarkable examples where specific information about the world, which was unknown to science at the time of the revelation, would later be confirmed by observation…. Instead we find the opposite" (p. 170). "Believers can accuse nonbelievers of being dogmatically skeptical and unwilling to 'open their eyes to the truth.' But our eyes are open and we see no convincing evidence for phenomena that under the god hypothesis would be expected to hit us all square in the face" (p. 173). And the big one: "The empirical fact of unnecessary suffering in the world is inconsistent with a god who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent. Observations of human and animal suffering look just as they can be expected to look if there is no God" (p. 224).
All of those conclusions, backed up by solid arguments, are summarized, "I am not proving that all conceivable gods do not exist. I am simply showing beyond a reasonable doubt that a God with the specific hypothesized attributes does not exist" (p. 228).
He does so by showing that physics is as incompatible with the God hypothesis as are biology, astronomy, geology, archaeology, paleontology, anthropology, and logic. Unfortunately, the arguments from physics are only comprehensible to other physicists, and for that reason I cannot foresee Stenger winding up on the same bestseller lists as Dawkins and Harris. For example, consider this passage: "The natural state of affairs is something rather than nothing. An empty universe requires supernatural intervention - not a full one. Only by the constant action of an agent outside the universe, such as God, could a state of nothingness be maintained. The fact that we have something is just what we would expect if there is no God" (p. 133). Stenger concedes that, to anyone but another physicist, "No doubt this concept is difficult to grasp" (p. 131). It is indeed. And that is why Stenger's Magnum Opus is unlikely to become the final nail in the God delusion's coffin.
Nonetheless, God: The Failed Hypothesis could conceivably encourage the one-sixth of the population who, out of fear of social and economic consequences, continue to tell pollsters that they are believers when they are not, to come out of the closet and show the world that there are almost certainly more nontheists in America, an estimated 33 percent, than Catholics, 24 percent, or Baptists, 16 percent, and more nontheists worldwide, realistically estimated as 2.2 billion, than Christians, 1.1 billion, and Muslims, 1 billion, combined.
In his chapter, "Do our values come from God?" Stenger finds that, "There are no significant differences in the moral sense between atheists and theists" (p. 208). That is of course a generalization, since he also reports (p. 194) that, "According to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Christians make up almost 80 percent of the prison population. Atheists make up 0.2 percent" (p. 194). He adds (p. 209) that, "We can even see signs of moral or protomoral behavior in animals." No theologian to the best of my awareness has ever suggested that nonhumans have been taught the difference between altruism and depraved indifference by a god. Stenger responds to the central dogma of theology, that right and wrong are whatever the tribal god or its self-appointed scriptwriter says they are, with, "If God has a different conception of evil from ours, then so much the worse for God. He is nothing more than an evil potentate" (p. 221). And he contrasts nonbelievers with the Muslim suicide bombers who acted on their "afterlife" brainwashing by pointing out (p. 257) that, "On the other hand, the atheist has the comfort of no fears for an afterlife and lacks any compulsion to blow himself up." So much for Pascal's Wager.
In reference to such biblical stories as the Exodus and, "the extraordinary events reported to have occurred at the time of Jesus' death," Stenger writes that, "From the absence of evidence that should exist in the scientific and historical record, we can conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that these extraordinary events did not take place as the Bible describes" (p. 188, emphasis added). There are scholars who maintain that the Exodus myth was based on misinterpreted and grossly exaggerated historical events, and that Jesus, while not a miraclemonger, was a person from history. While Stenger seems to disagree, the emphasized disclaimer allows for the possibility that persons who hold such a position could conceivably be right. In contrast, his disclaimers when he describes the James Ossuary and the Shroud of Turin as "likely" forgeries (p. 184), and when he suggests that it is "highly probable" that the 9/11 hijackers will not wake up in paradise, are surely superfluous.
Stenger justifies his position by using analogies and questioning the motivations of hostile theologians. "We have no evidence for Bigfoot, the Abominable Snowman, and the Loch Ness Monster, so we do not believe they exist. If we have no evidence or other reason for believing in God, then we can be pretty sure that God does not exist" (p. 18). "When scientists express their objections to claims such as evidence for intelligent design in the universe, they are not being dogmatic. They are simply applying the same standard they would for any other extraordinary claim and demanding extraordinary evidence" (p. 28). "What possible reason would scientists have to object if convincing evidence for psychic phenomena was reported?" (p. 91) "The only precepts unique to religion are those telling us not to question their dogma" (p. 196). "Throughout history, people have claimed ... that they have been in touch with God or some other form of higher reality. I am convinced that many are sincere in that belief (television evangelists excepted)" (p. 171). "But, being theologians they have to find God somewhere. If they conclude God does not exist they are quickly out of a job" (p. 162). As for the "We alone have the truth" fanatics, Stenger states the self-evident fact that, "If anyone promoted such views in any area outside a religious context, he would be taken in for psychiatric evaluation" (p. 240).
Stenger hypothesizes that religion came into existence when the ancients concluded that a dead person was still "alive" in thoughts and dreams, and the notion arose, "That some 'spirit' carried on after the material body ceased to move and began to decay" (p. 253). My hypothesis (Mythology's Last Gods, p. 50) is that the observable death and rebirth of the moon and sun at monthly and yearly intervals led to the conclusion that the sky gods died in order to transfer the surrendered portion of their immortality to mortals who ate their sacramental bodies. Since neither hypothesis can be verified, I can only suggest that mine is better. And they are not mutually exclusive.
The only factual error I detected was Stenger's assertion that, "Jesus … assured his disciples that he would return before they died" (p. 236). Actually Jesus promised his disciples that he would defeat the Roman occupation and establish a theocracy centered in Jerusalem before they died. He did not predict any "second coming," because he believed he was incapable of dying before his imagined mission was accomplished. Fortunately such an error does not lesson the validity of Stenger's fully proven conclusions. And while I am nitpicking: Stenger consistently refers to the person reading his book as her or herself. No doubt his use of feminine pronouns is intended to make the point that even language is phallusocratic. But the fact remains that common gender pronouns are identical with the masculine, not the feminine. Using feminine pronouns to refer to a person of unspecified sex is substandard English.
God: The Failed Hypothesis is an extremely valuable contribution to human knowledge, as Dawkins and Harris (back cover) both agree.
The Quintaglio Ascension, 3 volumes
Robert J. Sawyer
175 Fifth Avenue, NY 10010
Far-Seer, 0765309742 $14.95
Fossil Hunter, 9780765309730 $14.95
Foreigner, 9780765309726 $14.95
Robert Sawyer has been compared with the giants of science fiction, including the Big Three. Let me add another comparison. His tapestry of a totally alien and totally plausible culture is reminiscent of the artistry and imagination of Frank Herbert.
The protagonists of Sawyer's first two volumes are hybrids of Copernicus, Galileo, Aristotle, Newton, Darwin, Columbus, and the Wright brothers. For the third volume, unfortunately, he found it necessary to legitimize historical aberration Sigmund Freud, and authenticate Freud's dream-interpretation delusion and psychoanalysis confidence swindle. Fortunately, the dinosaur Freud is a minor character, and no better means of resolving relevant conflicts comes to mind.
Far-Seer strikes me as having been written as a one-shot. While the Quintaglios are analogous to dinosaurs, they appear to be a response to the "what if?" proposition that dinosaur-like life forms evolved independently and eventually became intelligent in some far corner of the galaxy, and are not actual dinosaurs. The revelation that gravitational forces from its too-close orbit around a gas giant will cause the Quintaglio world, a moon, to become a ring of rubble, necessitating eventual emigration to another planet, is the only indication that Sawyer was already planning a sequel.
The whole concept changes in Fossil Hunter. It turns out that the Quintaglios are indeed real dinosaurs, descended from ancestors removed from earth 70 million years ago by a now-extinct third intelligent species. To explain the transportation, Sawyer inserts a metaphysical character that, while neither omnipotent not omniscient, has god-like powers that enable it to perform such impossibilities as creating spatial anomalies that make constant acceleration by the fantasy concept of a fuel-gathering ion drive feasible. While the introduction of such a character transforms science fiction into fantasy, the metaphysical immortal is portrayed as having no interaction with mortals in the 70 million years since the transportation. Its role is limited to a handful of sub-chapters that provide a background setting for the plot and are sufficiently infrequent that they will not antagonize the nontheists who constitute science fiction's primary market.
Most of the science fiction giants were, to the best of my knowledge, already nontheists when they started writing. But Sawyer's novels, both the Quintaglio Ascension and the Neanderthal Parallax, offer some support to the hypothesis that writing science fiction can turn a passive believer into a nontheist. Finding himself faced with a transition from A to B that he could only explain by postulating an intervening god, Sawyer must have found himself wondering if the ancients who first concocted the god hypothesis were similarly motivated. Reading Sawyer's books in the order they were written, one can see his initial credulity in at least the possibility of a god's existence being slowly eroded as more and more contemplation of the logical consequences of such a hypothesis penetrated his conscious awareness. The god of Fossil Hunter was already far removed from the god of Western religion. But by the end of the third Neanderthal novel, we see clear evidence that even the belief that religion has an upside has had to be abandoned in the face of the observable reality that it does not.
I may be going out on a limb in interpreting a line put into the mouth of the first-person narrator of End of an Era as Sawyer's personal philosophy at the time of writing. But it strikes me as the author himself who is saying, "I'd never allowed myself truly to believe, and yet I'd never been able to close my mind to the possibility, to the hope, that in fact the lives of us little people did, in reality, amount to more than a hill of beans in this crazy world." End of an Era was written after The Quintaglio Ascension, but before The Neanderthal Parallax.
Mr Sawyer, I cast a shadow in your presence.
Jesus the Nazarene: Myth or History?
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
The reason Prometheus Books, the world's leading publisher of scholarly rebuttals of superstitious hogwash, whether religious, paranormal, pseudoscientific, or plain ignorant (aliens that look like humans in Star Trek make-up? Oh come now!), reprinted Maurice Goguel's 1926 analysis of nineteenth-century debates on the historicity of Jesus, is that Goguel's book proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Jesus was at most a historical nobody onto whose biography the gospel fairy tales were posthumously grafted, and possibly not even that. That Goguel himself, after examining the evidence, was able to shut out reality and doublethink that Jesus really did rise from the dead, does not render his book useless to scholars reevaluating the same evidence.
I could cite many passages that, even in 1926, a competent analysis of the documents should have eliminated. For example, Goguel thinks that Jesus' companions and converts viewed him as divine. But Jesus was first deified in the fourth gospel, written between 130 and 138 CE (although Goguel dates it as early as 90 CE, still a full two generations after Jesus' death). No Christian Testament author prior to 130 CE had ever heard of the theory that Jesus was a god - although the interpolation in Matthew that made him the son of a god was made around 100 CE. But most of his conclusions - other than his credulity in claims that contravene the laws of reality - are now accepted by a majority of scholars, and at the time were innovative. Even the one element of this book that truly nauseated me, the capitalization of pronouns and possessive adjectives referring to Jesus, were virtually mandatory in 1926, especially to a believer who was already putting his bread and butter on the line just by recognizing that the gospels contain falsehoods.
If I had been rating this book by Amazon standards in 1926, I might well have given it four stars rather than two. But while it may seem unfair to subject a 1926 author to the standards of the 2000s, I am writing for 21st-century readers who need to be warned that Goguel's contribution to scholarship, significant at the time of writing, is trivial by the standards of today, and provides no new or useful information to students familiar with the writings of Michael Arnheim, Robert Eisler, William Harwood, Randell Helms, Joseph Hoffman, Martin Larson, Gerd Ludemann, A.J. Mattill, Robert Price, G.A. Wells, or even John Dominic Crossan. And an author who thought that reports of what happened when Jesus said, "Raise me!" were more credible than the reported consequences of Alice obeying an instruction, "Drink me!" must have raised serious questions about his capacity for rational human thought even in 1926. Hoffman's introduction notwithstanding, this book is useful only to historians interested in the evolution of biblical criticism.
Diehard Rebels - The Confederate Culture of Invincibility
U. of Georgia Press
9780820328362 $34.95 www.ugapress.org
A mythos of invincibility was the source of the diehard experience of a significant proportion of Confederate military forces refusing to give up even though they suffered serious reversals and did not have the resources to ever overcome these. Decisive defeat at Gettysburg and Sherman's march through the South culminating in the capture of Atlanta were two such reversals coming after a couple of years of warfare during which the South had never managed to gain the upper hand despite some successes in early parts of the War.
"Elements that supported Confederate notions of invincibility--religion, stereotypes, combat, rumors, camaraderie, and more--formed the fabric of the diehard experience." Phillips--assistant professor of history at Mississippi State U.--treats these different facets of this mythos of invincibility with cultural study of the Southern states, reading of historical circumstances, military analysis, and also letters, battle reports, and newspaper stories both feeding into the myth and subtly questioning it. Demonization of Northern troops played with a belief in the superiority of the Southern soldier. Rumors trumped facts, as when reports circulated that New Orleans had been retaken. Slanted or incomplete newspaper articles were seized upon as gospel. Confederate soldiers deified their generals; and many generals and field officers developed strategies for prolonging combat as long as possible when a rational, objective assessment of circumstances would lead to the conclusion that defeat was inevitable.
Phillips' book is engaging and illuminating for bringing together diverse material in support of his topic; and in so doing, bringing out new perspectives on always interesting subjects such as cultural differences between North and South and the course of the Civil War.
Ceramics in America
Robert Hunter, editor
0976734400 $65.00 www.chipstone.org
Though termed only an "annual journal," Ceramics in America is clearly a top scholarly publication in it field. Its coffee-table art book size and bounty of visual matter are other benefits for readers.
This year's publication focuses on the America China Factory in Philadelphia. This Factory owned by Gousse Bonnin and George Anthony Morris was in operation only from 1769 to 1772. But its influence from the quality, design, and manufacture of its ceramic works on the field of American ceramics is immeasurable and long-lasting. The Factory set an extraordinarily high standard. Its equipment and buildings were put up for auction when the partnership broke up when Bonnin decided to move to England with his family.
Of the 13 chapters by experts and specialists, three are on John Bartlam and his South Carolina factory for making porcelain used by Gousse and Bonnin. Business records and news reports confirm the connection between the two factories. Although more research is required, there appears to be some relationship between Bartlam's porcelain production and the establishment of the Philadelphia ceramics factory. Bartlam was a Staffordshire, England, master potter who emigrated to Charleston in the early 1760s. His reputation was such that Josiah Wedgwood was concerned that Bartlam's emigration was an "attempt to take over the earthenware market in the American colonies from England"; though Wedgewood's concern proved to be unfounded.
Two chapters scrutinize the chemical composition of the material of the Factory's ceramic pieces; which chapters include scientific diagrams. The scholarly approach extends even to the photographs. While many allow for appreciation of the fineness of the Factory ceramic pieces, the photographs are meant especially to illustrate and supplement the historical, analytic, documentary, and scientific material of the different chapters. A few photos are close-ups of markings of porcelain pieces of interest to collectors in particular in their hunting and verification of Bonnin and Morris ceramics.
The thought that went into the selection of the numerous color photographs and their indispensable role in this invaluable work on early American ceramics stands out particularly in a chapter by Graham Hood, a noted ceramics scholar whose writings spread knowledge about the Bonnin-Morris Factory and definitively established the pair as the origin of the American fine ceramics trade. Most of Hood's lengthy article with 12 appendices is like an archaeological report. Visual matter includes close-ups of pottery fragments, diagrams of excavation sites where fragments were found, fragments of a piece arranged in their order, and illustrations of what unbroken ceramics pieces would look like. Graham's work reprinted here was first published in 1972. His seminal writings as well as the others apply the latest scientific techniques, testing equipment, and academic and research methodology to a range of issues concerning the American Porcelain Factory.
The material is so refined, penetrating and fresh and in parts transformative, it will take readers time to digest it. A J. Victor Owen, for instance, proposes "A New Classification Scheme for Eighteenth-Century American and British Soft-Paste Porcelain". But when readers do digest the material, they will have reliable theoretical and practical knowledge of central matters of American ceramics. Lastly--to mention for scholars, researchers, and collectors--there's a illustrated catalogue raisonne of the small number of surviving Bonnin-Morris pieces. The catalog also has a listing of all the forms--i. e., types--of pieces manufactured by the American Porcelain Factory which are either verified from the few surviving pieces or can be attributed from fragments.
Another Kind of Nation: An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Poetry
Zhang Er and Chen Dongdong, editors
Jersey City, NJ
Here's a good anthology for seeing what's going on with Chinese poetry at this time. Chinese films and lately art have become subjects of international interest with the growing economic and political power of China in this day of globalization. All of the 24 poets with about six to eight representative poems in both English and Chinese were born after 1960. They came to notice with published works mostly in the 1990s.
Both editors are poets themselves, with poems of theirs included in the anthology. Zhang Er now lives in the U.S., and teaches at Evergreen College. Chen Dongdong is a teacher, editor, and website designer in China in addition to being a published poet. In the Preface written by Zhang Er, she uses the metaphor of a "shimmering window" for the contemporary Chinese poetry. "'Shimmering' shows star, a state of charged energy, of movement and instability, and an existence between a window and a mirror. A window lets light in, illuminates the interior as it frames the scene for observers on both sides...."
As with the Chinese art and films, as Zhang Er's metaphor implies, the contemporary poetry discloses many aspects of change in China; and it reflects and refracts a growing China's encounters with other cultures, especially Western culture. One poet writes about "[c]arbohydrate surplus. Calcium deficiency.../the smiling candy devours her..."; a wry mimic of health concerns familiar to Western readers. Other poems limn encounters between traditional China and today's modernized, industrialized China--as in another poet's lines, "Snow begins to fall, the train entered the station/the director agreed it should begin this way".
American Poetry Review
9780977639533 $14.00 www.aprweb.org
Pardlo has an inimitable style, language--he cannot be classified. Not that any genuine poet can--but Pardlo for example would be particularly difficult to parody. Brenda Hillman in her Introduction tries to cast a net over him: "[Pardlo's] work brings together philosophical musings, abstract thought, rhetorical heightened diction, odd metaphors, and intense emotional utterance".
For this African American poet presently teaching at CUNY, the title "Totem" is "a word, an idea, a figure [of] two syllables [emblematic] of the poet's spiritual origins. It also connotes a shared guardian nature a family might hold in common; it is a symbol that draws the individual into collective consciousness." [also from Hillman's Preface] In Pardlo's more complex poems, one does find the dualisms of struggle and surrender, conflict and serenity, concern and hope, wandering and revelation.
"What odds/do those birds stand to chances anyway?/Prevention is akin to greed. Say recovery/and a sermon salts the air.../Jersey's domed capitol looks like a junkyard/of Church bells/a reliquary of Sundays/wracked and laid to rest...Another prays the next wet pebble/be the one that makes a beach./Paydirt. We should be so lucky." [from Atlantic City Sunday Morning] The heterogeneity of objects, images, and language of Pardlo's poems is more than inventory, discursiveness, or observation. He sees the earth will be redeemed in its entirety or not at all.
The Intercultural City - Planning for Diversity Advantage
Phil Woods and Charles Landry
9781844074372. $39.95 www.earthscan.co.uk
The authors acknowledge that their "view [for the open, multicultural city] is prescriptive, culturally bound, and Western". Their view is that the "secular humanism position" which has led to general peace and prosperity throughout Western society has become "drained of confidence, feels exhausted, and consequently is mistakenly accused of being 'wishy-washy' or as having an 'anything goes' ethos with no apparent point of view'. They do not take pains to defend this secular humanism which has been used to characterize and often malign Western culture or persuade readers that it is inherently desirable in any philosophical or sociological sense. Wood and Landry, both connected with the urban policy think-tank Commedia, however, see secular humanism's main tenets as necessary for peaceful and fruitful cities in this era of globalization. Such cities are inevitably multicultural. The authors present perspectives, ideas, policies, and means to ensure that multicultural cities are open; and are equitable regarding ethnic differences and desires. The authors' take a comprehensive approach ranging from a master plan to behavior between individuals of different ethnicities.
For most of its inhabitants, harmony in a multicultural, economically successful, satisfying city requires a way of life which maintains the essentials of one's ethnic or historical identity while at the same time enables and in some cases permits one to hold a job and thus earn a living and also take part in a city's political activities. This of course is an ideal of democratic, American, life often held out. But it has become clouded and problematic of late as well as widely disparaged with the resurgence of fundamentalist religions and growth of terrorism.
Besides going into the many and various aspects of a model multicultural city, Wood and Landry identify signposts readers can use to estimate how their own city measures up. And they outline steps for moving toward the ideal modern-day city. Their concept is summed up in their term "new civics', with "civics" a concept or principle which cannot be dismissed or marginalized by any body of persons of varied backgrounds who desire to and intend to live in harmony for the good of all.
Alexander Kluge, Translated by Martin Brady and Helen Hughes
New York, NY
One of Germany's top filmmakers for several decades (he was born in 1932), Kluge nonetheless does not regard film as a discrete art form. "Film and music are like cousins...[in that] each moves us inwardly". He has also received Germany's top literary award, the Georg Buchner Prize.
Even so, as confirmed in the 39 pieces about "cinema"--"older than the art of film"--Kluge nonetheless possesses a singular, precise, revealing grasp of film. "The stories in this book are subjective." They're concisely anecdotal, seemingly random in unpredictably, somewhat whimsically ranging over subjects as diverse as the architect Rem Koolhaus, a waiter in a German restaurant, Walter Benjamin's famous essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction", costuming, acting styles, filming in Africa, and the cosmos as cinema. (Regarding the last topic, you see what Kluge means with his careful use of the word "cinema" to denote a species of experience.) The vagariousness of the topics actually discloses the intellectual and material sources of cinema as they display the keen directorial and artistic eye of a master filmmaker.
White Pine Press
Gibbon's prose poems track what makes a woman, and what she is after she is made. Regarding the former, "On the island, women are moored like boats...They are tied to logs sunken in the shore-bottom or to metal rings along the shore sea wall of the port...[with] a blue world [the men] do not know how to see or harvest. Sometimes a plank of wood splits in one of the boats...She may also split silently so that you would never know." [from Un Bruit Qui Court] Regarding the later, "[b]ooks and paintings, languages and cities...were sweet to want but they didn't change me. They did not shape me the way picking row after row of pears did...All those years, and I still feel like that girl who worked hard, who worked hard all the time." [from Work]
But not all for Gibbon is biographical and reflective. There are times when longing arises. But even "in love I keep a part of myself separate. The animals stay in my dreams and their hearts beat in each house I make...." [from Kicking Horse My True Husband; the title poem of a collection of this poet which was a finalist in the Yale Series of Younger Poets] Through dreamy imagery, hardship, or longing, Gibbon never loses herself.
Cartography of Water
Port Alsworth, AK
Burwell is involved with nature on many levels. On one level, his poems are like nature poems with the poet's individualized language. In Rain for Two Days, "Bees play with the huckleberry lanterns./The creek by the cabin swells/A hummingbird squeaks through the brush,/a pulse of orange neon...." Or in The Road Round Big Salt, "Not a lake/but a narrow piece of sea/kept to itself by the salt chuck...Big Salt is the first place I saw an eagle...."
In most of the poems, however, the poet breaks through this surface of nature. This is usually not explicit, but rather a sort of process; though in one place Burwell cites the fault lines of the surface indicating nature's depths--"Lake ice cracks across its face." But mostly it is not by changes in the surface of nature (as with storms or seasons) or a view of nature as a trickster or as remote, but by nature's powers of allurement or the poet's sense of absence or longing (not to be confused with a sense of adventure) which brings him to deeper layers of nature. From Three days With the Spring Gods and How Aphrodite Visited Me (which starts off with the foregoing quote), "The last night, a dream, on a beach of black stones,/the pearl body of a woman offered,/over and over by waves...." The sense of absence and longing is seen in Eddy at Sharp Cape in, "How the river gives in/to no one's loss or forgetting/And how, in this moment...my hunger for the river rolls out/somewhere into the far hills/to fall down in wilderness".
To read Burwell's poems is to move and be moved through varied permutations and dimensions of nature so as to come to a familiarity with it. Burwell lives in Alaska. Inside the back cover is a CD of an interview with him and him reading several of the volume's poems.
Silversmiths to the Nation - Thomas Fletcher and Sidney Gardiner, 1808-1842
Donald L. Fennimore and Ann K. Wagner
Antique Collector's Club
Suffolk, England and Easthampton, MA
9781851495436 $95.00 www.antiquecollectorsclub.com
Since many of the photographs are in private collections, this book is the only place to see them. But beyond the generously-sized color photographs which are the first element that catches one's attention, one finds that the book is made up of different parts knowledgeably brought together and skillfully arranged. In other hands, these diverse topics might seem eclectic or like an anthology. But here the various visual matter and content flows seamlessly; so that the reader does not have to shift gears, but is drawn on to the oncoming handsome photographs and informative, expert text. "Silversmiths to the Nation" is a visual treat, incomparable historical and artistic text on the famed silversmith partnership, and invaluable reference for students, collectors, and dealers.
The co-authors and three contributors named on the title page put the important silversmiths and their firm in the social context of their time of the early 1800s, particularly the leading role of the city of Philadelphia and the emergence of a wealthy upper middle class. The merchants, professionals, and the like of this class sought fine household objects, including ones with uniquely American symbols and design expressing the pride, confidence, and growing power of the relatively new nation. Fletcher and Gardiner's resplendent presentation pieces for heroes of the United State's victory over Great Britain in the War of 1812 brought the firm to wide notice and marked a new level of design and production for silver pieces.
Following the six illustrated chapters of thematic material taking up almost half the book is an illustrated catalog of 88 Fletcher and Gardiner individual pieces or sets. This catalog goes with an exhibition which moves from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City), the Winterthur Museum (Delaware), and the Society of the Four Arts (Palm Beach, FL) over 2008. This connection with the exhibition is kept subtle, however, so as not to narrowly define this work or limit interest in it with its content which exceeds considerably a typical exhibition catalog. The entries for each silver piece or set in the catalog section describe its dimensions, design details, and when applicable its inscription; and this is followed by information on its origination and history. For example, short profiles of individuals such as war heroes a piece was specifically produced for are given. In other cases, the consumer interest or design idea is briefly discussed. One hot water urn, for example, was produced to meet the "growing popularity of coffee and tea". In many cases, the details of the background of silver objects include who they were first sold to.
Then after the endnotes come four appendices; the first one being "Marks of the Firm and Its Associates" with clear, close-up photographs of the marks, the others concerning genealogy of Fletcher and Gardiner and documents of theirs. The bibliography is four and a half pages.
All in all, a singular book of multiple attractions and uses well worth its price.
Shopping Our Way to Safety - How We Changed from Protecting the Environment to Protecting Ourselves
U. of Minnesota Press
9780816635085 $24.95 www.upress.umn.edu
Szasz's twofold premise is that not only is the plethora of contemporary products touted as helping improve the environment not doing all that much, but these are also diminishing the prospect that the large-scale, systematic programs and practices required for actually improving the environment will be conceived and promulgated. To bring a focus to his premise and multifaceted argument for it, Szasz reaches back to the fallout shelter phenomenon of the early 1960s. And he also points to the phenomenon of suburbanization which accelerated about that time and continued over the following few decades. These two phenomena--the first part of a government program to deal with the nuclear threat, the latter a widespread sociological movement--are ways large numbers of Americans responded to threats and concerns in their day; similarly to how large numbers of Americans are responding to environmental, ecological, and health threats these days.
The plethora of environmentally "conscious" products and practices (e. g., recycling, diet regimens) allow individuals to devise a "personal commodity bubble for one's body". While this bubble does offer genuine physical and psychological wellbeing, collectively--even considering the millions who follow similar environmentally aware lifestyles--they bring virtually no material improvement to the environment. Nor in that they bring no improvement, do they do much to conduce to better health or a better environment for the society in general.
The phenomenon of suburbanization exemplifies how individuals--mostly more affluent individual families--make choices to improve their own lives but do nothing to resolve fundamental social problems. The fallout shelter phenomenon urged by government and enthusiastically bought into by many businesses exemplifies for Szasz how major programs devised and promoted by central institutions can, like suburbanization, be a way to avoid coming to grips with a problem, in this case the environmental problems which are worsening year by year.
The way many individuals are responding individually and in some cases by communities or groups to the environmental problems is a form of "inverted quarantine" whereby they are walling themselves off from deteriorating environmental conditions instead of acting to improve the environment permanently for the good not only of their own children but for future generations and for their own society and global society. Szasz does not argue that the environmental products and the consumer choices and lifestyles developed around them should be abandoned--even as "inverted quarantines"--but that no matter the number and ingenuity of such products and increasing numbers of individuals availing themselves of them, these are "not enough". The professor of sociology at the U. of California-Santa Cruz and author of the book "EcoPopulism" tenders some specific changes in perspective on environmental issues and some specific policies for environmental improvement. Mainly though, he argues for a society-wide approach to dealing with evident and perpetuating environmental problems which can be led only by government at all levels and social policies and practices that are different from consumerism or fancy types of escapism. Only when the "fallout shelter" mentality of dealing with a problem is put aside will relevant, effective ways for dealing with environmental problems come about.
The Guardian - The History of South Africa's Extraordinary Anti-Apartheid Newspaper
Michigan State U. Press, East
9780870138302 $29.95 www.msupress.msu.edu
Between its founding in 1937 and its demise in 1963 upon being outlawed by South Africa's apartheid government, the South African newspaper "The Guardian" went by seven different names; others among these were the Clarion (early 1950s), People's World (also early 1950s), and New Age (1954-62). Though its name changed, its definition of its role remained the same. Opposed to all dictatorial, totalitarian governments, the newspaper opposed fascism in Africa, in neighboring Namibia in particular, as well as the entrenched apartheid government in South Africa. After World War II ended and decolonization was happening in places around the world, the Guardian focused its coverage and editorials on South Africa's system of apartheid. In so doing, it incurred the wrath of successive apartheid governments so that it was continually harassed by government agents and on occasion banned by the government.
In its early years, the Guardian's opposition to fascism and racism automatically aligned it with Communism. The first time it was banned outright was when the South African government passed the Suppression of Communist Act (SCA) in the early 1950s; which among other things, would make much of the regular content of the Guardian illegal, subjecting its writers to arrest and jail terms. Officially disassociating itself from the Communist Party, the Guardian still faced a crisis of survival in that it lost its core readership and major sources of funding. Nonetheless, as a staff writer Abbie Sachs remarked, "The [SCA] actually did us a big favor because it meant we couldn't use the jargon and ever-ready phrases [of communist ideology]...We were compelled to use more substantive ways of thinking and writing...." In this transformation, the Guardian not only sharpened its reporting on events in South Africa, but developed contacts with indigenous anti-apartheid forces, some of which were growing increasingly militant in the face of the apartheid government's intransigence and policies of imprisonment and torture. Along with these groups working politically and in some cases militarily, the Guardian became a catalyst for change in South Africa.
The story of the survival and role of the Guardian is written in conjunction with political events in South Africa leading to the overthrow of apartheid. Zug also writes about the work and influence of major and some secondary individuals connected with the paper. With a background as a historian as well as a journalist, author Zug writes an enduring history of this notable newspaper.
Alaska Memories - Adventures in the Wilds of Alaska
2021 Pine Lake Rd, Lincoln, NE
0595416446, $17.95 www.iuniverse.com
Quoting from the back cover:
"In this memoir of adventure and survival in late-1970s Alaska, author John McGoldrick offers a sweeping look at the stunning beauty and natural history of one of America's most scenic states.
"Leaving Maine in 1975, McGoldrick travels to Alaska, working as a clam digger, carpenter, gold miner, and mountaineering guide. He survives Alaskan winters living in the back of a truck, a camper, and a broken-down school bus, and eventually builds his own house. Hunting ducks, geese, and deer, and fishing for salmon across the state helps McGoldrick experience the beauty of Alaska's wildlife and jumping out of a military CH 47 Chinook helicopter in the middle of winter onto the slopes of Mount McKinley to rescue survivors of a plane crash keeps his adventurous spirit content.
"Blending scientific insights with Alaskan history, Alaska Memories is McGoldrick's vivid, witty, and enjoyable story."
This memoir is divides into twelve chapters...all very interesting, informative, and well written. If you enjoy true-life adventure tales, have any interest in Alaska, or just like personal memoirs, you'll certainly enjoy Alaska Memories. McGoldrick lived in Alaska from 1977 to 1983 and then returned to New England where he attended medical school to become an emergency physician.
West Point to Pearl Harbor - A Little Boy Remembers the Japanese Attack and Other Survivor Stories from America's Greatest Military Disaster
Dorrance Publishing Co., Inc.
701 Smithfield Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Quoting from the back cover:
"An early portion of West Point to Pearl Harbor tells about life at the U.S. Military Academy and one young cadets's challenge to graduate amid the rigorous training regimen at the Point. In the beginning, Plebe 'Dutch' Spangler was about to understand that he was nothing but a 'beast' - a lowly presence considered unfit for social contact with upper classmen. He wasn't an outcast, rather a cadet on probation for the next year until proved that he had what it takes mentally and physically with proper military bearing. 'Dutch' had already made his firm decision at the age of eighteen that he could endure and show everyone, including himself, that he would become a full-fledged cadet. He made it! Armed with a hard earned diploma, a fine engineering education, 'gripped by an indefinable West Point spirit,' he was imbued with a strong sense of duty and honor that 'guides everyone during their stay at the Military Academy and during the career of later life.'
"West Point to Pearl Harbor is heavily devoted to memories of the attack on Oahu, Hawaii on December 7, 1941 as my Father, then a captain, was ordered with his family to Fort Kamehameha, an artillery base adjacent to Pearl Harbor. As a five-year-old boy, I had been happily playing on the beach along the strategic entry channel to Pearl Harbor when I was startled into awareness and watched as the first wide wave of Japanese fighter planes roared over the Waianae Mountain Range even before they dropped their deadly loads...."
West Point to Pearl Harbor is a unique addition to the many books written about this historical event. Unique because it is predominantly a perspective of the era and lives as told through personal journals, letters, and memoirs. Dick Spangler is a consummate writer and has done an excellent job in organizing this material. The stories, as told by the survivors, bring to life the reality of this horrifying attack.
I can highly recommend West Point to Pearl Harbor to history buffs and students of all ages.
Liberal Hearts and Conservative Brains: The Correlation Between Age and Political Philosophy
2021 Pine Lake Rd, Lincoln, NE
9780595463206, $20.95 www.iuniverse.com
Quoting from the back cover:
-argues for a correlation between age and political philosophy, which asserts that young people tend to gravitate toward liberalism while older people are usually more comfortable with conservatism; and that, additionally, among the people who change their political preference over time, more go from liberal to conservative than vice versa; and finally, he assesses the strengths of these trends;
-examines the most interesting counter-examples to these trends - namely, premature conservative and aging liberals - and explains what motivates them;
-presents a history of the liberal/conservative divide in America and then augments it with an assessment of its current status as well as a prediction of its future."
Liberal Hearts and Conservative Brains is a well-written, well-edited, very interesting political science book, with a personal touch. This book can help you determine more clearly just where you stand on all the important issues. Does age have an influence on your political beliefs? Read this book and see if you agree with Ron Lipsman.
F.A.T. Balance Diet - 10 Steps to Weight Loss Freedom
Kevin J. Jones
Fitness Lifestyle, LLC
United States of America
9780976899839, $15.95 www.FitnessLifestyle.com
Quoting from the back cover:
"Do you want a LASTING weight loss solution? F.A.T. Balance is for you!
Effective - Lose pounds and inches with a simple life management tool
Flexible - Works with any lifestyle, diet, or exercise program
Fun - Helps you succeed with more joy and less stress
1. Gina-Get Motivated
2. Rachel-Reject Fantasies
3. Eric-Embrace Laws
4. Tracy-Take Charge
6. Isabel-Improve Diet
7. Iris-Increase Activity
8. Faith-Follow FAT Balance
F.A.T. Balance Diet is a new book on the market to help us lose weight. It tells us all the things we already know but can't seem to follow...most likely because we prefer sweets to self-discipline. The humor and cartoon characters make this particular diet book an upbeat, fun read while conveying its message. Does it tell us anything new? Not to me, but perhaps its presentation will appeal to you, and that's all that really matters. It is divided into ten chapters with personal names to represent the subject matter as indicated above, plus fifty easy recipes. If you're looking for an upbeat, well-organized diet, this may be the one for you.
Burying the Secret
New York, NY
Quoting from the back cover:
"Feverish compliance with the law of attraction in the l980s left the author dead broke for 17 years and in a wheelchair by 2002, due to unanticipated medical conditions.
"When Rhonda Byrne's The Secret muscled its way into the media in early 2007, the author's unpleasant memories morphed into a passion to complete the book she started during her perilous law-of-attraction period. Over a 10-year span, the author had read 300 metaphysical books that inadvertently challenged The Secret's core message: Just focus on what you want and it will quickly manifest.
"Burying the Secret was primarily inspired by Eastern thought, mysticism, and psychological maters as they relate to spirituality. The author learned about other elements at work, such as the laws governing cause and effect, transition, and suffering. She also discovered key influences on our soul's development, such as learning lessons, voluntary acts of redemption, sacrifice, and free will.
"Burying the Secret indicts The Secret for its refusal to acknowledge that unanswered prayers are the norm and for its unfathomable premise: The law of attraction thrives as an independent force."
Personally, I'm glad someone has finally taken the time and energy to argue against law-of-attraction thinking. I, too, have known friends and acquaintances who bought into this contemporary con and then found themselves in serious financial trouble. We would all love to just 'think' about what we want - to be thin, rich, loved - and have it materialize. However, most of us know there is so much more involved than just the law of attraction to acquire what we desire in life. Of course, there's nothing wrong with maintaining a positive, optimistic outlook on life. I believe the people who write 'law-of-attraction' books realize financial success because we buy their books.
Carol Rutter is an educated woman who has spent many hours reading and studying over 300 books and articles to find answers for her life. In Burying the Secret she tries to share her studies and thoughts with us from psychological to religious/metaphysical perspectives. The book is an organized collection of her research, plus her personal interpretations and current beliefs. As I said, Rutter is an intelligent, educated woman, and you may find her ramblings of some interest and inspiration.
Kaye Trout, Reviewer
Escaping Quantrill's Trap
W4694 Bay De Noc Drive, Ingallston, Menomonee, MI 49858-4962
9781604616699, $25.00, pp. 274, www.AuroraBookShop.com 1-906-863-9032
Author and researcher Darwin Adams says an interest in family genealogy prompted him to begin the project that would result in "Escaping Quantrill's Trap". It was originally intended to be a quick synopsis of his ancestor's Civil War involvement but soon consumed him in exponential proportions. Nine years after the first words were put to paper, the book was completed.
After retiring from his career at UPS, he received an advanced certificate from the Civil War Institute at Carroll College under Lance Herdegen. To feed his interest he joined four Civil War Roundtables, and four historical societies. Research junkets to Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas were squeezed in between. He belongs to a writing club at the University of Wisconsin, Marinette. He is currently working on a local history of Daggett, Michigan during the pre-World War One era.
"Escaping Quantrill's Trap" provides a rare view of Wisconsin's Third Cavalry Regiment during their organization in Janesville, Wisconsin from January 21, 1862, through service in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and in the Indian Territory from 1862 to 1865. As a regimental history this book stands alone.
As mentioned previously, Darwin Adams has a personal stake in this history. His great-grandfather, John Adams enlisted in Company I, Third Cavalry on February 8, 1862, in Big Suamico, Brown County, Wisconsin, reenlisted as a veteran volunteer. On February 1, 1865, he was reassigned to Company D, 3rd Cavalry until his muster out on September 8, 1865.
Assigned to the torrid Kansas-Missouri border, the men of the Third Wisconsin Cavalry were in the middle of a rancorous guerrilla war that was often very personal and often overlooked. The story line follows John Adams from the regiment's inception, through the grisly experiences of the border war and the disillusionment with the graft-soaked military hierarchy and an ethically challenged partisan adversary. The story ends with a vivid description of the viciously fought massacre on a forgotten Kansas prairie. On October 6, 1863, Rebel William C. Quantrill led his guerrillas in an attack on Union troops at Baxter Springs, Kansas. More than 80 Union soldiers were killed. Only a handful of Union soldiers survived, one of whom was John Adams. Four epilogues follow the fates of the major characters in the book, William Quantrill, William Barstow, James Blunt, and John Adams.
Though a number of Native Americans served in Wisconsin units, e.g., Company K, 37th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment and sprinkled through others like the 8th Wisconsin Infantry, and the 36th Wisconsin Infantry, there is little written by or about them.
John Adams was a Duck Creek Reservation Oneida man, who served his country and risked his life and limb for more than three years for the Union.
The full story of the Third Wisconsin Cavalry is one of resilience and perseverance. The text is loaded with first hand perceptions.
Enhanced with illustrations, maps, and an index, "Escaping Quantrill's Trap" will also be available for $16.00 in paperback a paperback edition in March 2008. This is an extremely well written and researched book, and a darn good read.
History of the First Regiment, Minnesota Volunteer Infantry 1861-1864
Return I. Holcombe
Easton and Masterman, Stillwater, Minnesota, (originally published in 1916)
St. Croix Valley Civil War Roundtable, Inc.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
No ISBN, $35.00 (plus $3.50 postage) 508 pages
Make checks to: SCVCWRT
Mail to Steve B. Anderson, Bookseller
903 Third Street, Hudson, WI 54016
This book, originally published in 1916 in Stillwater, Minnesota by the firm of Easton and Masterman, remains as the classic regimental history of the First Minnesota in the Civil War and is recognized as such by historians nationally. It was reprinted in a limited edition in 1987, but quickly sold out. On the antiquarian book market it is not unusual to see the first edition of this book priced in excess of $500.00, when you're lucky enough to find it at all.
The book was written by a Stillwater, Minnesota newspaperman and historian named Return I. Holcombe and published the year of his death (1916). Holcombe's name is not cited on the title page nor in the book and that remains a mystery. He did author a number of other works including several Missouri county histories and co-authored a book entitled, "An Account of the Battle of Wilson's Creek" (1883). Holcombe was a member of the 10th Missouri Regiment (Union). He eventually moved to Iowa and then on to Minnesota in 1888.
The St. Croix Valley Civil War Roundtable, founded in 1993 at Stillwater, Minnesota is a non-profit corporation. Membership is from the Twin Cities and Western Wisconsin. In 2000, the SCVCWRT brought back into print Edwin B. Quiner's great work, "The Military History of Wisconsin in the War for the Union" (originally published in 1866).
The First Minnesota was the only regiment of troops from that state serving in the Army of the Potomac, except for several sharpshooter companies and the First Minnesota Battalion, organized after the original regiment was discharged in 1864, term expired.
Fame came to the First Minnesota long before Gettysburg. They fought at Ball's Bluff, Williamsburg, Seven Pines, and Fair Oaks, the battles of Savage's Station, Malvern Hill, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. On the second day of July 1863, 262 men from the First Minnesota stopped a Confederate charge at Gettysburg with a charge of their own. The Rebels were held, but at a casualty cost of 215 Minnesotans. Only 47 uninjured men were left on the line. The next day, those who remained of the First Minnesota helped stop Pickett's Charge, ending the three day battle and decimating the regiment. August of 1863 found them quelling the New York City draft riots. Later they participated in the Bristoe Campaign and the Mine Run Campaign in Virginia.
The regiment's glory is shrouded by the recognition of their losses. Gritty personal narratives by the Minnesota men make this a great treatise on war. The Regimental Roster from page 455 to 500 is a eulogy to the men of the First Minnesota and a great aid to the genealogist among us.
This book belongs, close at hand, on the shelf of any civil war buff who wants to know what 'really' happened. It is truly among the best of the civil war regimentals.
Richard N. Larsen
Double-Edged: A Change of Heart
Ben Harr loves mysteries and missions, thus his novel involves espionage and adventure taking place all over the world.
The story is about climate changes and a team of spies who have a lot of adventures in many countries. It is divided in four parts and it involves British and American detectives, as well as a Spanish and a Gibraltarian one. The story starts in our times and extends to year 2050 when some of the heroes are still alive.
The language is clear and can be easily read by everyone. There is a lot of dialogue throughout the novel that facilitates the plot. The black and white photographs found on some parts of the book enhance the story and make it look more truthful. There is a lot of description and action involved in this story that will appeal to those who love travel and adventure. The author touches some cultural aspects and taboos such as male prostitution. This novel has also elements of science fiction as it refers to year 2050. Readers can get it from Lulu at www.lulu.com
My Funny Dad, Harry
Karen Arlettaz Zemek
Outskirts Press, Inc
9781432714178 $12.95 www.outskirtspress.com
Karen Arlettaz Zemek, a secretary at a law firm, grew up with two foster sisters and one foster brother. She lives with her husband, Gerard, in Ohio. She wrote this book in memory of her father, Harry.
This book is the affectionate account of a loving daughter to her precious father. The author uses all her memories to construct the image of her father, Harry, and his funny moments of his lifetime. Karen tries to describe each moment she shared with her dad with much care and detail so as the reader to be able to identify with her and see her dad through her eyes. Karen's perspective shows how much she loved her father and mother as well as her foster sisters and brother, who all formed a loving family.
The incidents she describes indicate how Harry used to think and live, and are an important sign of his generation that lived before technology spread out. Harry had a unique personality that will make readers love him, and the details of his life Karen describes so well, enhance the image of a good father who cares about his family.
The language is simple and clear, quite direct and enjoyable for everyone to read. The book is full of black and white pictures that show Harry and his pets, and his other possessions around his house. The author addresses issues of old age and death that we all face at some point in our life. This story shows how tight some family bonds can be. It is certainly a nice book, quite unusual from the other memoir books I have read. I enjoyed Harry's relationship with his cats and his determination to live on his own.
Get the book from www.outskirtspress.com
These Are My Final Wishes
9781432712754, $9.95, www.outskirtspress.com
Tamara Dunkel has written this book in memory of her mother. When she died, the family arranged everything the way they wanted since they did not know her mother's wishes.
It is a mini guide that shows readers how to arrange things before dying. It is written in a simple and clear way, and the large print and double spacing is very helpful for the elderly who are going to use it. Tamara is aware of the fact that everyone should have his final wishes made known to someone-a close relative or friend-so as to know what to do next. It is divided into several sections that can also serve as a notebook to write down one's wishes.
This book is a helpful guide that will assist everyone interested in after death procedures. It is not suitable only for the elderly. It caters to everyone, since no one knows what happens next!
Get the book from www.outskirtspress.com/thesearemyfinalwishes
The Giving Myths: Giving, then Getting the Life You've Always Wanted
Stephen B. McSwain
Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Inc.
6316 Peake Road, Macon, Georgia, 31210-3960
Stephen B. McSwain, vice president of Cargill Associates, Inc., an industry leader in philanthropy, is an expert in the fields of church, philanthropy and capital fundraising. Dr. McSwain has an earned doctorate and he and his family live in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Giving Myths is an original guide book divided into 10 chapters. It shows how to live your life and achieve happiness. It is full of Bible quotations and real life examples. More specifically, this book is about giving money away. The author says, "The getting myth is our culture's big lie" and explains why the American dream is a lie. He also says that "the happiest people are those who have learned (or are learning) to give away themselves and their resources".
The author highlights the fact that when you give up the need for material things you become free and happy. Full of real life examples, this book shows readers how to become free and how to start giving out and becoming generous persons. The reward is joy and great happiness, Steven assures them. The book has suggestions for giving in some sections, and stresses the importance of charity throughout its chapters.
It is written in a clear and simple style and can be read by everybody interested in this issue. Charity is an important issue for all faiths and beliefs though, and if this book had not focused on Christianity solely, it would have been suitable for everyone on earth regardless their religion. However, since the author justifies his examples and theories via the Bible, it caters to a Christian audience all over the world. It is a book that can inspire people and make them better persons, so I recommend it to everyone who wants to help other people and his community.
Pirates in Paradise
Connie Lee Berry
Kid's Fun Press
9780977284832 $3.95 US, $4.95 CAN, www.ijbooks.com
Very Highly Recommended.
Connie Lee Berry writes adventure books for kids that are real page turners! In Pirates in Paradise, the author tells an exciting story with pirates and her heroes, Sam and Max, discover a lot of new things at sea. The boys sail in the Caribbean but they have to face danger. How will they cope? What will happen to them?
The book is a fast-paced adventure that is gripping and attractive to young readers. The book is full of facts and fun that excite and educate. There are 11 chapters in this chapter book and a lot of pictures that enhance the story throughout the book. The story is written in the appropriate simple style and it caters to young kids aged 7-9. Get the book from www.ijbooks.com or any online bookstore.
Adventures in Africa
Connie Lee Berry
Kid's Fun Press
9780977284825 $3.95 US, $ 4.95 CAN, www.ijbooks.com
Very Highly Recommended
In Adventure in Africa, the author follows her heroes, Sam and Max, to Africa where they discover a lot of exciting animals. The boys show extreme courage when they face a dangerous situation and eventually manage to rescue someone and themselves from it. It is a well-crafted story with a lot of pictures and facts about animals in Africa. Kids will certainly find it very interesting!
There are 9 chapters in this chapter book. The story is written in the appropriate simple style and it caters to young kids aged 7-9. At the back of each book there is a science pick that is educational and fun. I loved that part! I certainly recommend this book series to any kid or parents who love adventure that is educational.
Get the book from www.ijbooks.com or any online bookstore.
Liana Metal, Reviewer
Duke's Handbook Of Medicinal Plants Of The Bible
James A. Duke, et al.
c/o Taylor & Francis Group
6000 NW Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487
0849382025, $89.95 www.crcpress.com 1-800-272-7737
Plants are referred to and referenced throughout the books, poetry, and letters that comprise the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. "Duke's handbook Of Medicinal Plants Of The Bible" is a 528-page compendium of superbly organized and presented information on biblical plants that provides both academicians and non-specialist general readers with a complete, descriptive listing of the herbs that, based on citations, scholars and ethnobotanists feel were utilized by the people of the biblical era. Enhanced with an evidence-based scoring system for these plants, "Duke's Handbook Of Medicinal Plants Of The Bible" compares and contrasts citations from different versions of the Bible, presents multilingual nomenclatures providing historical and geographic roots for each featured entry, and even covers dosages that have been used historical for various human and animal ailments. Superbly enhanced with full color drawings of individual plants, each specific entry provides family line information, synonyms, notes, common names, activities, indications, dosages, dosages, downsides and interactions, natural history and extracts. Biblical quotations are provided from various translations of the bible from the King James version to the Revised Standard edition -- along with comments on points of interest. A superb writer and expert, James A. Duke (with the assistance and collaboration of Peggy-Ann K. Duke and Judith L. duCellier) has provided a seminal and invaluable contribution that should be a part of every academic library reference collection, as well as on the supplemental reading lists for students of herbal medicine, alternative medicine, botany, and biblical studies.
Superheroes And Gods
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
9780786431847, $39.95 www.mcfarlandpub.com 1-800-253-2187
A simply fascinating study by retired academician and scholar Don LoCicero, "Superheroes And Gods: A Comparative Study From Babylonia To Batman" is a tour-de-force survey of the nature and role of superheroes and gods as portrayed in the literature, popular culture, and ancient myths of diverse civilizations and cultures from around the world and down through recorded history. The mythological figures represented and discussed range from Babylonia's tales of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, to the Hellenic pantheon, to such 20th Century American creations as Captain Marvel, Batman, and Superman. Professor LoCicero identifies the similarities and the distinctions between these various characters while describing their repeating archetypal character patterns regardless of each hero's particular time period or culture. Organized by chapters focusing on the heroes and gods of particular cultures or regions (Babylonia; Persia; India; Egypt; Greece; Rome; Scandinavia and Germany; The United States; and Finland), "Superheroes And Gods" concludes with an erudite examination of 'The Super Antihero' phenomena such as Dracula, The Hulk, and Frankenstein. Enhanced with an Epilogue, extensive notes, a substantial bibliography, and a comprehensive Index, "Superheroes And Gods" is a work of seminal scholarship and strongly recommended for both academic and community library Mythology & Folklore reference collections.
Tree Spirited Woman
Colleen Baldrica & Judith Palmateer
Beaver's Pond Press
7104 Ohms Lane, Suite 101, Edina, MN 55439
1592981445, $12.95 www.BeaversPondPress.com 1-952-829-8818
"Tree Spirited Woman" is the intensely beautiful story of Ojibwe Tribe member Colleen Baldrica (Pembina Band, White Earth Reservation, Northern Minnesota) a woman who underwent a kind of spiritual transformation with the death of her maternal grandmother. Her grandmother left her with many memories and insights. Colleen has provided readers with the narrative of a guiding friendship with a wise and mystical woman who with the universal message about the value of letting go, trusting in love, valuing personal relationships, and accepting the inevitable phenomena of death within the living world around us -- and inside us. Of special note are Colleen Baldrica's own feelings and thoughts, which are shared at the end of each chapter. This pocket-sized , 92-page, warmly recommended compendium of spiritual insights, experiences and observations is inspired and inspiring reading.
Just Take A Bite
Lori Ernsperger & Tania Stegen-Hanson
721 West Abram Street, Arlington, TX 76013
1932565124, $24.95 www.FutureHorizons-autism.com 1-800-489-0727
Every parent has experienced the problem of their child refusing to eat foods from a specific food group and the stress of meal time turning into a battle of wills between parent and child. Then there are those children who become anxious or even frightened of eating new foods that they've never encountered before. "Just Take A Bite: Easy, Effective Answers To Food Aversions And Eating Challenges" is an ideal instruction manual for parents who find themselves having to deal with just such reluctant or picky eaters. Co-authored by autism and behavioral consultant Lori Ernsperger and pediatric occupational therapist Tania Stegen-Hanson, "Just Take A Bit offers a wealth of simple, practical, step-by-step, effective strategies that parents can employ to have their children eating a balanced and nutritious diet and resolve those mealtime difficulties and challenges. Succinctly organized into ten chapters, "Just Take A Bit" covers identifying resistant eaters; oral-motor development; environmental and behavioral factors contribution to problems with eating; sensory-based and motor-based problems affective the resistant eater; motor-based eating problems vs. sensory-based eating problems; designing and implementing a comprehensive treatment plan; environmental controls; gastrointestinal, physical and oral-motor development; and stages of sensory development for eating. Of special note is the tenth chapter on 'A Recipe for Success' cover cultural factors, medical issues, older children, and allergy-related diets. In addition to concerned parents, "Just Take A Bite" is also very highly recommended as a resource for daycare center personnel and any other professionals having mealtime responsibilities for children who are 'reluctant eaters'.
Along the Templar Trail: Seven Million Steps for Peace
P.O. Box 791613, Paia, Hawaii 96779
9780977053681 $17.95 (pb) 9780977053698: $27.95 (hb) www.PilgrimsTales.com
Along the Templar Trail: Seven Million Steps for Peace is the fascinating journey of two men who set out to travel on foot the legendary road once used by the Knights Templar to reach Jerusalem - a staggering pilgrimage encompassing 2,620 miles. More than the mere adventure of two brave men, it is a grand and noble quest for peace, as well as a spiritual voyage that will leave readers emotionally and intellectually replenished.
The travelers are the author, American Brandon Wilson, and his 68-year-old French companion, Emile. The starting point: France. Destination: Jerusalem. In between these two points are Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Syria, and Jordan. Indeed, it is a daunting challenge, to say the least, and Wilson and Emile suffer all sorts of inconveniences along the way - insufferable heat, painful foot blisters, uncertainty as to where they will spend each night. Not to mention the possible dangers they might face, from thieves to anti-Americanism in the Muslim countries. Simple things like taking a shower, clean clothes, and comfortable sleep become a luxury.
Fortunately, they often encounter what the author refers to as 'angels', good souls beyond the boundaries of accepted conventions who are willing to offer the pilgrims food, drink, and a place to spend the night. Who would do that in America, where people are so conscious of danger at all times? But in the context of this journey for peace, it's as if human beings are transformed and the best of their nature comes through. Also, for Wilson and Emile traveling together becomes difficult at times, as they differ in age and stamina. Will they finally reach their destination?
I immensely enjoyed reading this book. Besides being a skillful traveler, the author is also a skillful writer and this shows in his beautiful flowing prose, keen observations and wit. His writing combines a marvelous sense of Zen with good humor, and his personal style makes you feel as if you were there taking part in it all. This book is about a journey both physical and spiritual in nature, and its essential message is one all peoples of the world should be aware of. Though I had the pleasure of reviewing Wilson's two previous travel books, both fascinating, engrossing reads, I have to confess Along the Templar Trail is my favorite.
Nancy Minnis Damato
Wings e-Press, Inc.
403 Wallace Court, Richmond, KY 40475
9781597058209 $17.95 www.wings-press.com
The story of the Taylor family saga continues in this the third and final installment, Separate Worlds. Under the skillful pen of talented author Nancy Minnis Damato, the tale reaches a heart-wrenching and fully satisfying conclusion.
Willful and red-headed beauty Taylor is about to come face to face with the most difficult moment of her life - indeed, the most difficult moment for any mother - losing her beloved daughter. For those of you who have read the previous books, the event is not surprising, as you all are familiar with Taylor's handsome yet incredibly cruel and merciless ex-lover, a charismatic Italian count who is now set on revenge. Since he cannot have her, he will go to extremes to make Taylor suffer. In this case, he decides to abduct his own daughter with Taylor. Needless to say, the struggle and pain she goes through are unimaginable - hunger, poverty, even being kept prisoner in jail. But Taylor will go through anything in order to save her daughter and re-unite with her - especially now that her daughter is under the clutches of the Count's wife, who's set on revenge no matter what.
Though the mother-daughter line is the main plot, there are many subplots that revolve around the First World War taking place in Europe. Taylor's son is away as a soldier, and so is the Count himself. With yet other characters in other parts of Europe, the reader cannot help but wonder… will the family ever unite? Will the pain and struggle go away so they can become a happy, united family after so much darkness and betrayal?
It is impossible to fully enjoy this novel without having read the first two books in the series first. I strongly advice readers to do so in order to understand the characters and their dark legacy. The novel seems to be extremely well researched, grabbing the reader into an imaginary world. The characters are compelling and the storyline interesting. The book also has some intriguing twists and turns. What really stands out, however, is Taylor's struggle as she goes in search of her young daughter. Some passages were so poignant they really brought tears to my eyes. Heart-wrenching, stirring and thoroughly enjoyable, Separate Worlds is a story fans of historical fiction will devour.
In Defense of Our America: The Fight for Civil Liberties in the Age of Terror
Anthony Romero and Dina Temple-Raston
10 E. 53rd Street New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061142567 $24,95 http://www.harpercollins.com
This book looks at the current state of civil liberties in America, by exploring case studies of several different types of cases.
Matthew Limon is a gay teenager from Kansas who was sentenced to a seventeen-year prison term for having consensual sex with a boy three years younger. If his sex partner had been female, the sentence would have been much less. As a way to lessen the impact of a proposed total abortion ban in South Dakota, Cecilia Fire Thunder, the President of the Sioux Nation, advocated putting an abortion clinic on Sioux land. The school board of Dover, Pennsylvania attempted to force the local high school to include "intelligent design" into the biology curriculum. A middle-age science teacher named Bertha Spahr led the fight against the plan. Kot Hordynski is part of a non-violent anti-war group at the University of California, Santa Clara. The Pentagon put him on a terrorist watch list and called him a "credible threat."
Before anyone thinks that the American Civil Liberties Union, of which Romero is the Executive Director, is an anti-conservative or anti-Catholic group, consider: the ACLU defended Rush Limbaugh's right to privacy when prosecutors wanted his medical records to prosecute his drug bust; they argued that anti-abortion protestors have a right to march and be heard; the ACLU stood up for Oliver North's constitutional rights during Iran-Contra; when a high school senior wanted to put a quote from the Bible in her yearbook, the ACLU argued that she had a right to free speech-even religious speech. Also, the ACLU helped strike the provision in the Virginia constitution that denied Jerry Falwell's church the right to incorporate in Virginia.
This is a gem of a book. It does a good job of showing how civil liberties were not in good shape, entangling average people, even before 9/11; since then, things have gotten noticeably worse. It is very much worth reading.
Bill of Wrongs: The Executive Branch's Assault on America's Fundamental Rights
Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose
1745 Broadway, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10019
9781400062867 $24.95 http://www.atrandom.com
Many years ago, Molly Ivins promised a friend that she would give a speech per month, for free, in some small town in America, in defense of free speech. This book, which turned out to be her last book, was going to celebrate those common people who decided to stand up and be counted. Watching what has happened to the Bill of Rights, America's Supreme Law of the Land, due to the "War on Terror," the book's focus changed.
Jeff and Nicole Rank (she works for FEMA) were arrested on the grounds of the West Virginia state capital and thrown in jail, while local, state and capital police discussed who had jurisdiction over them. They were released, and just before their trial was to start, the city of Charleston dropped all charges. Their crime was to wear anti-Bush t-shirts to a Bush campaign rally to which they had gotten legitimate tickets.
Vice President Cheney was working a crowd in a Colorado shopping mall. Steve Howards walked up to him, told Cheney that he thought Cheney's Iraq policy was reprehensible, and walked away. For that, he was handcuffed in front of his young son, and charged with assaulting Cheney. The charges were later dropped.
The authors also look inside the Dover, Pennsylvania school board, where religious fundamentalists attempted to introduce "intelligent design" into the biology curriculum. After a long trial, and a judicial ruling strongly in favor of evolution, the fundamentalists were voted out of office in the next election. Also included is the story of the four librarians from Connecticut, who refused to comply with a National Security letter, demanding records on use of a public library computer on a certain day.
This is a gem of a book. It does a fine job showing the size of the holes that the "war on terror" has put in the Bill of Rights, and it is also a very easy read. It is very highly recommended.
The Woman's Workplace Survival Guide
2005, Advantage Source, 33 N. Central Avenue, #219, Medford, OR 97501
0974383082 $14.95 http://www.workplacesurvival.com
For any woman (or man) who is new to the workforce, one of the major things to consider is getting along with co-workers. This book looks at the sort of people one will meet in the workplace, and what to do about it.
Are your co-workers arrogant, cynical, passive-aggressive, bullies or complainers? Publicly praise them for their help when appropriate, and don't be afraid to stand up to them. If they created a problem, don't make it personal; make them come up with a solution. If someone tries to dump their work on you, set clear boundaries as to what you will, and won't, do. In meetings, do not, for any reason, lead with, "This may be a stupid question, but..."
What if you are the one with the "problem"? This book looks at negative self talk, people who are impatient or perfectionists, overcoming social anxiety, and dealing with criticism (not all criticism is a personal attack).
The author also looks at when to work from home, when to change jobs, and when your employer makes that decision for you (being fired is not the end of the world). More serious issues are covered, like pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, equal pay for equal work, and asking for a raise (something which is never easy, no matter who you are).
This book may be intended for women, but it is also highly recommended for men entering the workforce, too. It is very easy to read, and the author does a fine job presenting solutions for the situations that may be encountered in the workplace.
600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746
Redefining Christian Conduct to Reflect the Radiance of Christ
Chris Schimel addresses the subject of developing Christian conduct in this new and important spiritual guidebook. From the very first page of "Beautiful Behaviors" Chris challenges the reader to examine the religious traditions that have molded personal restrictions and conduct and how this impacts accepting the liberating freedom that comes with following Christ.
Chris uses stories from real life, his own experiences in ministry, and illustrations from scripture applications to demonstrate God's generous gift of grace and His unmerited favor. These examples express the importance of meeting people where they are and allowing God's Spirit to do the work of "the extreme makeover" as seekers become followers of the model and example of the life of Christ. Scripturally based with foundational truths Schimel's writing resonates with the ideal that when Christians model Christ's character, love and forgiveness, the Holy Spirit will complete the work of repentance, renewal and regeneration.
The chapter dealing with recognizing the value of the beauty of laughter was very insightful. Reflecting on principles of restoration, resolution, and restitution through forgiveness had a profound impact on me, personally.
Chris also gave me tremendous insights into transforming Christian conduct into beautiful behaviors by being constrained through love. I also appreciated the need to recognize the innocence of children, the power of a "high five," and the unique diversity of spiritual gifts and abilities for every individual within the church body, including the children and youth.
Chris uses thought provoking and challenging ideas which many may feel are on the edge of being radical. I was quite surprised and pleased to realize that my home church is acknowledging and practicing some of these very same "cutting edge" principles.
"Beautiful Behaviors" is an effective personal approach with suggestions for facilitating renewal and dynamic new perceptions of how Christians can
reflect the glory and character of Christ's brightness to honor Him through awe encompassed, authentic, non judgmental love.
Schimel offers practical, instructional, and inspirational, guidelines which can be adapted by Christians everywhere to bring freedom, forgiveness, and fulfillment and to create a new freshness within the Christian community.
Character Under Attack & What You Can Do About It
Advance Publishing, Inc.
6950 Fulton Street, Houston, Texas 77022
How to Counteract the Attack on Character in Today's Society
A drift from the core values on which our country was founded has produced a moral decline in our country. Carl Sommer attributes this decline to the fact that character is under attack in our nation. In his new book "Character Under Attack & What You Can Do about It" Carl Sommer considers the spirit of America's founding fathers in light of today's climate of violent crime, the increase in prison population, and the philosophical battle and cultural war being raged in the political arena.
Sommer observes; there was a time when Americans took pride in their moral heritage. In recent years there has been an erosion of values which has serious implications for both our schools and society. Sommer quotes from scholars, philosophers, educators, politicians, and theologians to present his case for a return to an emphasis on character programs and traditional values in the curriculum of our schools.
Sommer talks about four keys to successful schools. He introduces four model schools that are making effective inroads into making this difference. He then offers "Action Steps" for educators, parents, and concerned citizens to affect positive results.
Sommer writes out of a genuine concern for the direction American education is taking. At some length he points out how publishers and reviewer of his books have downplayed, critiqued unfairly, or ignored the significance of his published works which are widely read, highly acclaimed and have received commendations by others. He is articulate in communicating this concern and speaks for millions of concerned Americans.
"Character Under Attack" is well researched and thoroughly documented.
This book is timely and important and should be in read by every concerned parent, school administrator, librarian, and our elected officials.
The Ultimate Guide to Electronic Marketing for Small Business
John Wiley and Sons
111 River St, Hoboken NJ 07030-5774
047171870X $19.95 http://www.wiley.com
In these days of internet marketing, it is imperative for any small business, even a traditional bricks and mortar store, to have a website or some sort of electronic presence. This book goes through the process, step by step, of doing just that.
Some parts of setting up a business website, especially with new software, can be done by the average individual, with a bit of training. The more technical parts need to be left to people who know what they are doing. A major sin is to have a vital part of your website not work at all, or look like it was done by someone who has never done this before, just to save money.
What are you going to sell on this brand new website? If you don't already have a product or service, consider selling e-books. There is nothing to keep in stock; after you receive a person's money, all it takes is a few clicks on your computer, and the product is "shipped." How do you get people to visit your website? The author talks about things like affiliate marketing, joint ventures with other websites, free electronic newsletters or magazines, among many other things. He also talks about how to make sure that when a person does a search for "widgets," for instance, that your site is at, or near, the top of the list.
The author includes the addresses for many, many websites that show the things mentioned in this book. He also includes many examples from his own internet marketing campaign, so that anyone can see how he did it.
This book may seem overwhelming; take a deep breath, and go one step at a time. For anyone selling on the internet, this book is not just worth reading. It's worth keeping on your reference shelf, and making notes in, and marking pages with Post-It Notes. It's worth the money.
Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard
Monkey Brain Books
11204 Crossland, Dr., Austin, TX 78726
193226521X $15.95 http://www.monkeybrainbooks.com
This book explores the life and times of one of the most famous writers ever to come out of the state of Texas. During his brief writing career in the 1920s and 1930s, Robert E. Howard did a lot more for imaginative literature than simply create the character of Conan the Cimmerian.
In the early 1900s, Texas was experiencing an oil boom. Practically overnight, a town would spring up around oil wells, bringing all sorts of people, from roughnecks to work the wells, to barkeepers to prostitutes. They would stay until the oil ran out, then move on to the next boom town. Howard grew up in one boom town after another; Isaac, his father, was a frontier doctor, so they also followed the oil. Howard got to see, up close and personal, the dark underside of civilization, and it disgusted him. Finally settling in Cross Plains, he was a voracious reader who hated the regimentation of school. He lived on pulp magazines, like Weird Tales, available at the local general store. Howard was the shy, quiet kid in town with no interest in joining the oil boom.
A major influence on Howard's development as a writer was the Texas tradition of telling tall tales. Isaac was an expert spinner of tales, and in her own way, Hester, his mother and an Irish immigrant, was pretty good at it, too. Hester had tuberculosis for most of Robert's life, which forced him to stay home and help take care of her, because Isaac was frequently gone for days on his "rounds." After he became a published author, Howard was one of the mainstays at Weird Tales. He sent them all sorts of stories, usually set in the distant past, showing civilizations that had already degraded into barbarism (like Texas of the early 20th Century). In those days, pulp magazines usually paid half a cent to one cent per word, payment was usually on publication, which could be several months after acceptance, and even then, payment was sporadic. Howard spent hours a day at his typewriter, writing boxing stories (a huge interest of his), poetry and westerns, along with tales of Conan, his most famous creation.
Anyone who has ever picked up a pulp magazine, or who knows REH as more than just the creator of Conan, will love this book, as I did. While Howard's books are still in print, Howard's life has fallen into obscurity. This book does a really good job of remedying that situation.
Non Profit Nonsense & Common Sense
Robert D. Reed Publishers
PO Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon 97411
Insights into the Operations and Funding of Non Profit Organizations
Marshall McNott in his new book "Nonprofit Nonsense and Common Sense" has provided a valuable service to the Leadership Staff and Board of Directors of Non Profit organizations, to the supporters of these programs, and to Foundations considering applications for grants.
McNott has chosen to use composite examples and sometimes fictional illustrations to provide suggestions for successful guidelines and principles.
He begins by providing donors with "enlightenment questions" to ask. I appreciated Marshall's candid approach in guiding the reader through the many sides of fundraising, motivation, ethics of stewardship and absolute integrity in every area of operation.
A long career in Management in working with non-profit organizations, as well as a wide variety of related roles: board member, consultant, and "servant" Marshall McNott knows every facet of non-profit organizations and faith based ministries. He gives insights from a staff perspective, from the Board room, and as an outside looking in, offering constructive, practical advice for getting to the bottom of critical and significant issues being faced by non-profit organizations today.
I found the chapter dealing with the Board of Directors, and their commitment to the CEO of the organization was significant. A number of suggested direct and pertinent questions provide the opportunity for accountability and the "iron to sharpening iron" concept.
"Nonprofit Nonsense & Common Sense" is an important and timely book. Everyone involved in a non profit organization or ministry whether serving as a volunteer, a board member, as an executive, a staff member, or donor, will find insights and answers regarding their role in serving others.
From New Age to New Life
Sandra Clifton, D. Min.
600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746
An Amazing Story of Deliverance from Darkness
Formerly well known TV psychic, Dr. Sandra Clifton, tells the story of her spiritual journey. In her new book "From New Age to New Life" Clifton shares her own experiences and clearly alerts the reader of the deception, nature, and thought behind New Age practices. Sandra also offers practical observations and sensitive ways to converse and intercede for those caught up in New Age beliefs.
Sandra tells how the seeds of the gospel were planted by her grandfather. She values the Christian heritage and the part it has played in her spiritual journey. Distraught by a failed marriage, Sandra, moved to Los Angeles. She soon contacted a professional therapist for counseling. An early session opened the door for participating in a lab experimentation session emphasizing mind power or psychic abilities. This in turn led to experiencing ESP, guest appearances on radio and television talk shows, and a TV contract.
As Sandra looked deeper into the darkness of the occult and New Age tenets she continued to find success, became recognized as a popular speaker at conferences and conventions discussing the power and control that can come through exercising the power of the mind. On one occasion she had a "Damascus Road" experience as the Lord made known His claim on her life. The experience was the first step in a lonely, hard, and a strenuous and time of learning and a hands on training program on life, for Sandra and her husband Terry.
This book is written to provide pastors and teachers with a deeper understanding of the occult and New Age movement. It will also provide all believers an evangelistic tool, specifically for addressing the needs of those ensnared in these movements.
I personally appreciated the opportunities given within each chapter for opportunities to "Reflect," to consider "What Can Be Done," and to apply suggested prayer stratagem. This helped in making application of the final chapter which accentuates the importance of intercessory prayer and offers suggested prayers for family members, spouses, friends, and other needs.
The book is also helpful for the lay person who is ministering to loved ones, friends, and associates involved in the occult/New Age. It provides guidelines for pastors for counseling those steeped in New Age and occult dogma. There are questions for the church leader to use in study groups relating to postmodern relativism, occult and New Age. The book is practical for use by seminary students being equipped to minister to those influenced by New Age teaching.
Dr. Sandra Clifton is articulate and writes with clarity. She urgently calls the reader to action through a loving, listening outreach. Her approach is Biblical, informational and inspirational. "From New Age to New Life" is authoritative, relevant and important.
The Secret of Transitions
Robert D. Reed Publishers
P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, OR 97411
Transitioning To Higher Levels of Success
"The Secrets of Transition" written as a first person narrative incorporates the personal incidents, insights, and observations from Career Coach Jim Manton. The book features a successful case study from Jim's experience as well as illustrations drawn from working with other clients that validate the principles discussed within the book.
Transitioning moves beyond recycling the mistakes and successes of the past, and "Only finds traction in the present moment." I discovered that transitioning is a process of looking inward to discover the truth about one's self. Manton directs the reader to look at courage as an action step to getting unstuck, to moving on to a higher level of success. Whether searching for validation, suffering from a lack of vision, or failing to look at reality Jim helps the reader understand how to generate any action through understanding and changing their thought patterns.
The material addressing the subject of personal relationships and the power of collaboration was powerful. Manton proposes ways the reader can transition from painful emotional battlefields, of betrayal, struggles with people to move on and to experience the "world of spirit and joy," He challenge the reader to create a relationship of trust and the power of forgiveness.
Jim Manton is an outstanding and charismatic communicator. His writing is articulate and timely. Jim goes beyond motivational writing to a higher level of genuine life coaching. "The Secret of Transition" is an extraordinary reading experience, challenging and relevant.
You're a Medical What?!
Robert D. Reed Publishers
P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, OR 97411
An Entertaining, Witty, Practical Look into the Career of a Medical Transcriptionist
Sara Burns responds to a question she has heard my times in her chosen career, "You're a Medical What?" Sara shares how she got started in this unique career field, its pitfalls, rewards, where the industry is headed and a look behind the "Sanctum Sanctorum."
In a chapter written specifically for those in Medical Transcriptionists she writes, "When you reach your burnout stage (and we all do), dream a dream, create a wonderful odyssey and then make it happen." Other tips like this one are practical and applicable to every professional, self employed individuals working alone, or for those on a staff of the large corporation.
Whether sharing random thoughts or tackling specific problems of the transcriptionist Sara helps the reader recognize what is working, what needs to be fixed and how to respond with immediate actionable steps.
Sara's writing offers a combination of comprehension of her chosen field, a connection with the reader, and a credibility that comes with the experience gained in her thirty year career. Her enthusiasm is contagious and she writes with clarity.
Clever and witty, Sara's humor comes out in poetry, "Ode to a Home-Based Transcriptionist," comedy routines, and subtle observations. I enjoyed her colorful descriptive words as she introduces some of her clients: "curmudgeons and sweethearts: perfectionists; the regular guys, the prima donnas; the tyrants and the pussycats…"
This is a book to be enjoyed by all health care professionals. It is must read for every Medical Transcriptionist, and will be enlightening, entertaining reading for anyone who has ever had an emergency visit or been admitted to the hospital. Entertaining, witty, and practical, a great read.
Voice of Conscience
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432706289 $26.95 www.outskirtspress.com 1-888-672-6657
Sacrifice, the Ultimate Cost of Payback and Vengeance
"Voice of Conscience" is a strong first novel. Behcet Kaya writes of a people and culture which is often misunderstood by those influenced primarily by Western thinking. Behcet acquaints the reader with of a mores steeped in traditions and customs carried over from generations past, a society where family pride demands revenge once insulted.
The story opens as young Ramzi Ozcomert Junior flees from his home in a small Turkish community to escape death after his parents and sister were brutally murdered. His went to Ankara where he was able to find employment working for a distant uncle. He learned a trade. One again, fearing his life was in jeopardy, Ramzi fled his native Turkey to find refuge in London, England. While in London he worked hard, pursing an education in engineering.
Shortly before his graduation, Ramzi met and fell in love with Megan Townsend, an attractive American girl. They immediately became soul mates and within months were married. After moving to America Ramzi soon became known as a competent engineer in Megan's father's Engineering Company in Los Angeles, California.
Successful in business, blessed with a wife, and two adoring daughters, it would appear that Ramzi had every reason for happiness. However, inner turmoil plagued him. He became obsessed with an ingrained sense of the need to avenge the deaths of parents and sister. This obsession drove him to extreme measures. Unknown to him he was the victim of traumatic stress syndrome. Personally I struggled with Ramzi as he worked through his struggles and the voice of his conscience. I followed with interest, disappointment and empathy the decisions Ramzi made in his excessive anger driven revenge.
Behest Kayak through his characters expresses a wide range of emotions from tenderness to rage. His protagonists express insight and understanding even while displaying stubbornness and selfishness in their actions.
Behest uses night mares, day dreams and flash backs to help carry the plot of the story forward. Behcet uses an interesting dialog technique which reflects the flavor of ethnicity by using the difficulties of a second language with native tongue variations of expression. This use gave a sense of genuineness to many conversations. The dialog flows in a natural way.
"Voice of Conscience" is a strong first novel, timely and challenging. Behcet Kaya is destined to become recognized for his classic approach to communicating a message with a solid plot and story line.
Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership
Gary L. McIntosh and Samuel D. Rima, Sr.
P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516
Overcoming Latent Failures While Becoming an Effective Leader
"Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership" looks at the paradox of personal dysfunction. In this revised edition the authors, Gary McIntosh and Samuel Rima reflect on experiences and observations on Christian leadership over the ten years since the first edition of the book was first published.
The book addresses three issues, understanding how the dark side of personality develops, and discovering the issues experienced most frequently by those in Christian leadership. The author's intent in parts two and three is to help the reader determine their dark side, and to provide them a five-step plan for redeeming or overcoming this dark side.
Gary and Sam share from conflicts they have experienced in their own lives which brought them to a place of recognizing their personal dysfunction and the importance of taking proactive steps in self discovery, to find healing and fulfillment.
Additional information has been added to cover topics such as: The dangers of the dark side, and the process of spiritual composting. The appendix has also been expanded and now includes a section to help the reader identify their personal dark side.
The book includes examples from the Biblical and contemporary Christian leaders who have failed in their pursuit of following God and are used to illustrate various dysfunctions in the leadership styles of the compulsive leader, the narcissistic leader, the paranoid leader, the codependent leader, and the passive-aggressive leader.
I personally found the "targeting insights," and "applying insights" features at the end of each chapter to be practical tools for self examination and self discovery.
I also found the material in the appendix helpful. It provides: lists of available personality profiles, an accountability group covenant, a sample personal constitution, and a performance evaluation.
This edition of "Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership" has a new subtitle which offers new help to the reader, "How to Become an Effective Leader by Confronting Potential Failures. The melding of relevant and significant information with proactive steps for today's Christian leaders, help the reader avoid the risks and consequences of making those untimely and often devastating decisions that taint the effectiveness of their testimony and the reputations of the Christian church.
"Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership" is a significant and relevant for every Christian leader. It provides important and helpful tools for pastors, and leadership at every level of church ministry.
Every Disciple's Journey
Thomas R. Steadgald
PO Box 35002, Colorado Springs, CO80935
Discipleship as an Authentic Pursuit of God
In "Every Disciple's Journey" Thomas R. Steagald reflects on Biblical and theological themes, as well as on his personal observations and experiences. He points the reader to new insights into what it means to live as an authentic disciple and follower of Jesus Christ.
Steagald writes from a premise based on the fact that Jesus serves as the ultimate example for anyone who desires to pursue the knowledge of God with the intent to serve Him.
Steagald presents an in-depth look into the life of Jesus, to help the reader discover the model of true discipleship. The book is made up of two parts. The first section sets the pace for the book by introducing God's journey for the Christian. He uses the season of Advent and Christmas to focus on finding God's purpose for the Christian's life and to introduce the idea of discipleship as a journey with God.
The second section takes the reader through the experiences of Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday and introduces the reality and importance of Christ's humanity.
Each chapter includes an: Affirmation, Confession, and Discipleship Task. These activities help the reader confirm, verbalize and put into action an action step for following the master. Personally, I found these to be valuable tools for meditation, contemplation and integration. I also enjoyed the challenging and inspirational quotes at the beginning of each chapter.
Thomas Steagald writes from his own rich experience as a pastor, teacher, and as an authentic fellow adventurer on an exciting journey of a God focused faith while finding the meaning and promise through the life of Jesus.
Back Channel Press
170 Mechanic Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801
Romance, Drama, and Suspense
"Sweet Emotions" is the second in the "Song Trilogy." The book begins where "Beyond Beautiful" left off. Jenna Bradford and Scott Tenna face the demands of their chaotic careers. Disappointments, jealousy, skeletons from the past, family issues, and career pressures continue to plague them and as they move from one crisis to the next in an explosive environment brought on by deep seated emotional scars and unresolved tensions.
Jenna has difficulty balancing family relationships, the demands of her manger, her expectations from Scott, while experiencing the limitations and discomfort of pregnancy. She begins to question her own self worth which soon becomes a self loathing. Scott's intensity, strong will, and high energy level, leave him confused and uncertain in his attempt to deal with Jenna's insecurity, outbursts, night mares, and her competitive spirit.
Jan captures the fundamental nature of energy and charisma that flows from the performers on stage to the audience and back creating a synergy that impacts the performance. Bornstein shows remarkable insights into the behind the scenes conflicts experienced by those in the rock music industry. She has an incredible understanding of the team effort necessary for musical groups, the tensions, and the hours of practice to perfect a song arrangement or to produce a unique sound, just prior to a concert. She describes the extremes experienced by the group, from the sumptuousness of the life style to the hardships endured while on tour.
Jan's training in medicine and psychology give her important insights and an amazing understanding of human nature, and the impact of anger, abuse, and unresolved conflicts on a relationship. Her training and experience play a significant part in the development of her characters.
If you are looking for entertaining reading, romance, action, suspense, or for something that you can sink your teeth into Jan Bornstein's writing meets them all. Her multifaceted plot and charismatic characters are as unique and individual as the popular well known rock stars currently competing in the world of music.
As Jan Bornstein continues to develop her gifted writing skills her characters take on a new depth and maturity. I am eagerly awaiting part three of the "Song Trilogy," the promised sequel to "Sweet Emotions" entitled "Deuces are Wild.
Richard R. Blake
Grand Central Publishing
In the style of The Notebook, Message in a Bottle and A Walk to Remember, Nicholas Sparks writes another great book, The Choice. This book begins with an introduction to Travis Parker, a local veterinarian in Beaufort, North Carolina. Travis is a gregarious, light hearted man with a wealth of friends and a penchant for the good life which includes boating, motorcycling and parasailing. His life is rather routine until he meets his next door neighbor, Gabby Holland.
Gabby has a lover and friend, Kevin, who she believes will someday be her husband. Kevin hasn't asked her to marry him yet, but she is sure that someday he will ask.
When Kevin takes a trip out of town, Gabby finds herself with time on her hands. When her dog, Molly, becomes ill, Gabby takes her to the local veterinary office only to find out her neighbor, Travis Parker, is the vet in charge. He examines Molly, finds she is pregnant and suggests to Gabby that rest and time will take care of Molly ills.
When Travis and his circle of friends decide to take a boating trip that weekend, Travis asks Gabby if she would like to join them. She accepts the invite and during the course of the day finds she is attracted to Travis.
After a course of events, Travis and Gabby become mutually attracted to one another and the love affair begins.
The first half of the book is an introduction into love affair of Travis and Gabby. The second half of the book finds its depth when an accident happens which injures both Gabby and Travis.
Travis must make a choice in his life that will affect everything he knows and loves. He finds himself drawn between his own desires and those of Gabby. The choice he finally makes leads the reader to a gasping climax.
This book offers it all… love, suspense, romance and art of finding one's own power. It is a must read for anyone who loves a good romance and a tale well told.
The Darkest Evening of the Year
Dean Koontz takes fiction to new heights with The Darkest Evening of the Year. His storyline takes a Golden Retriever named Nickie through her paces when she gains a new owner in Amy Redwing. Amy's love in life is rescuing dogs, especially Goldens. She pays $2000.00 for Nickie when her former owner threatens her life and those of his battered wife and their two children.
The read is an intense one. As Amy and her beau, Brian McCarthy play out the roles dictated for them as their past and present collide, a reader turns the pages in anticipation.
The book is complex in its telling and Koontz certainly knows how to keep a reader's interest. He takes everyday characters, mixes in a few undesirables, adds in dogs and children to create a storyline that leaves you gasping. Understand, this man's writing talent is not to be debated. I picked the book up and didn't put it down until I had read it in its entirety.
If you only buy one book of fiction this year, buy this work. At $27.00, it's the buy of the century.
The People Look like Flowers at Last
edited by John Martin
ECCO (an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
This is Bukowski's ninth posthumous book of poems! It's a lulu, too, as were all the others. This poet apparently lived and wrote, prolifically, between a rock and a hard place. Each poem is grim, crusty, realistic, and some, even shocking. Most are darkly humorous, also.
After reading only a few of his works, however, one wants to shower and put on some deodorant. In short, there's an earthy, lowlife feel to all his poetry. That's what makes it so compelling.
"Read in the paper where a 72-year-old wife strangled her
91-year-old husband with his necktie
she said the age difference was
unbearable and added that
when they met on a tennis court 30 years earlier
the age gap had not seemed important.
"it looks like I've been in serious danger
at least a half dozen times
in the last 25 years or so and still am.
"there's just one necktie in my
closet, purchased it to go to a funeral
not long ago,
but I've never played
tennis and don't intend to try."
Charles Bukowski died in 1994 at age 73. He published five novels as well as numerous books of poetry.
Recommended, if you dare!
You're Broke Because You Want to be: How to Stop Getting By and Start Getting Ahead
Here's one more volume to add to your collection of 'get out of debt' and 'stay out of debt' books. But this one might just be what the doctor (credit type) ordered! Winget takes a tough guy attitude. It shows in his appearance on the book's dust jacket and in his no-nonsence commentary. He implies, and curses about the fact, that you aren't willing to sacrifice, or go without, all your present-day goodies, like a big car, snowmobile, motorcycle, boat, vacations, large homes, etc., so that you could have more cash at the end of the month instead of blowing it all, and more, on expensive stuff, which also puts you in debt.
He doesn't get into the area or the promotion of 'believing' that you're rich so that you'll become plush with money. He does, however, suggest that you keep a positive attitude throughout. Obviously, he's playing the tough guy role to bully you into making the painful changes in your life in order for you to build your fortune that you say you want.
But let's face it, giving up your Cadillac, with it's umpteen dollar monthly payments for a smallish, and used, Ford compact with much smaller payments, is hard on a person's psyche. The same goes for getting rid of the rest of your unneeded possessions. Such changes hurt. But you could sell what you have and get cash to pay off some of your loans. Most people don't want to do so, and that's why the author came up with the book's title.
This is a very timely read what with a recession looming. But recession or not, many, if not most, individuals need to hear this advice in dramatic form, almost like an intervention.
The author was apparently in financial trouble himself at one time. But he pulled himself out of it to riches by using the advice in the book. He even advocates, when you have money to spend, that you give a tenth of it to charity, not necessarily a church. This is a sure way, according to Winget, to get money coming your way.
Larry Winget, the author, is the host of A&E's TV reality show BIG SPENDER. He has also penned earlier bestsellers: IT'S CALLED WORK FOR A REASON! and SHUT UP, STOP WHINING AND GET A LIFE. He and his family reside in Arizona.
2117 Fourth St., Berkeley, CA 94701
9781593761851 $26.00 www.counterpointpress.com 510-704-0230
Duncan McCallum is thrust into the midst of the French and Indian War when he is sent as a convict to America. Aboard the convict ship, he witnesses a series of murders and apparent suicides among his fellow Scottish prisoners. As a nearly trained doctor, he is ordered to assemble evidence and prepare an indictment holding one prisoner responsible for the deaths. The evidence is contrary to his instructions, with seemingly ceremonial overtones somehow linked to the Indians of the American wilderness.
It is to the wilds of western New York that the prisoners are headed, destined to be sacrificed in the bloody conflict, in which the British army, rogue Scottish highlanders, French, Huron and Iroquois battle. Duncan follows a trail of mysterious clues to find the source of evil and the person responsible for the deaths aboard the ship.
The novel provides a thrilling tale set with historical perspective of not only Manifest Destiny but Native American culture and way of life. It is a disturbing story, yet informative beyond the simple view of Westward Expansion by the continued influx of European immigrants. It is worthy of a recommendation.
c/o Dorchester Publishing
200 Madison Ave., NY, NY 10016
9780843959956 $7.99 www.dorchesterpub.com 800-481-9191
This police procedural is written by a Pulitzer Prize-nominated former journalist who covered a murder story for the San Diego Union-Tribune which resulted in a 2005 Edgar nomination for a true crime novel (Poisoned Love). In this work of fiction, she introduces Detective Ken Goode, who wishes he could transfer to the Homicide group from his current narcotics post.
He catches his big break when he stumbles across the body of a beautiful woman in an alley near the beach. Then the bodies keep mounting, the tales of drugs and sex and other bizarre goings-on keep complicating the solution of the cases. Are they separate or related? Also complicating Goode's efforts are his own insecurities and apparent immaturities.
An almost throw-away character, a cub reporter who also is attempting to catch a big break is almost a caricature and completely unnecessary. And, of course, in the end, he has to come up with the gold ring, if only for his long suffering.
The novel is a workman-like effort. It moves along with all kinds of twists and turns and details expected from a crime reporter. It would appear that Goode is destined to be a continuing character.
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780060831165 $24.95 www.harpercollins.com 800-242-7737
After a one-book hiatus, Jack Swyteck and his long-time friend (and client) Theo return in this gripping story relating to Theo's boyhood. It is the seventh in the series, with a backdrop of Miami's roughest neighborhoods and past glory in the jazz world. As a youth, Theo ran with a gang. Jack and Theo met while Theo was on Death Row, and the former governor's son, now a defense attorney, got him an acquittal based on DNA evidence.
Early one morning, Theo gets a phone call from an escaped convict (who was the gang leader of his youth), seeking help. He offers to tell Theo the name of his mother's murderer in exchange for assistance. Thus, the beginning of the tale which involves Theo's sax-playing uncle Cy, Jack, and FBI agent Andie Henning. Throughout the novel, Jack has ups and downs with regard to his love life, wondering about Andie who he dated a few times previously but had broken off the relationship when he thought she "dissed" his friend Theo.
Grippando slowly builds the tension toward a gripping finale. His descriptions of Miami's Little Harlem and jazz clubs are detailed and authentic. The characters are well drawn and interesting. A very good read.
Jo Nesbo, author
Don Bartlett, translator
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061133992 $24.95 www.harpercollins.com 800-242-7737
During World War II, Norway was occupied by the Nazi army, and the head of the government lent his name to the English language synonymous with traitor - Quisling. About 400 Norwegian youths volunteered to fight with the Germans on the Eastern front against the Russians. Most of them did not survive the war. But those that did and returned to Norway were branded traitors and sentenced to years in prison.
It is against this challenging backdrop that the author has created a superb mystery novel equal to the best of the Scandinavian writers. He introduces Harry Hole, an irreverent, alcoholic detective on a par with Harry Bosch and his contemporaries. The story moves from events during the war to present times and back and forth. A series of murders takes place in Oslo, and little by little Harry follows the leads subtly provided, ignoring the powers that be who tell him to ignore his intuition and "be a good boy."
The roots of the story are gleaned from the author's own background - his father served in the Leningrad siege and his mother in the resistance. The novel was first published in Norway in 1997 and won the Glass Key Award for best Nordic crime novel and later voted the best Norwegian crime novel ever written. It is the author's second book, and we look forward to many more. Highly recommended.
T is for Trespass
G.P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399154485 $26.95 www.us.penguingroup.com 800-847-5515
After 19 alphabet topics, coming up with a "T" seems simple: "Trespass." However in this 20th Kinsey Millhone mystery, the theme is less about trespass and more about identity theft, elder abuse, murder and pedophilia. The novel centers on Kinsey and Henry's 89-year-old neighbor, Gus Vronsky, who falls and dislocates his shoulder. Before the doctor would agree to release him from the hospital, some arrangement has to be made for providing home care for him.
Enter a woman predator whose credentials - checked by Kinsey - seem too good to be true. She is hired to take care of Gus. Previously, we soon learn, she has stolen from people she has nursed, and even murdered one patient. The race is on - can Kinsey and Henry save Gus?
Meanwhile Kinsey goes about her business as a PI, finding witnesses to an auto accident, serving papers and performing similar functions. One witness is a convicted pedophile who served 12 years in prison and is reluctant to give a deposition. She has to find him time and again in a side story having nothing to do with the main thrust of the novel.
"T" is very much in keeping with the series. Kinsey remains the poor-eating, whimsical character. And she is the one guilty o trespassing - breaking into Gus' home, stealing his bank- and check books - albeit in an effort to save him. Now we wonder what "U' will bring.
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10169
97803160099133 $24.99 www.HachetteBookGroupUSA.com 800-759-0190
After the success of the first Rebus novel, Ian Rankin decided to write a different book. Instead of the hard-boiled detective, the protagonist was a cynical, worldly-wise spy. It was first published in Great Britain in 1988 and now makes its first appearance in the United States. It is a tale of an unlucky spy who gets one last chance at redemption.
Miles Flint, the spy, has been guilty of all kinds of mistakes. [In his last assignment, a foreign official died in London.] His troubles include a suspect who seems to know more than he does. And the agency for which he works is faced with many operatives quitting. Miles undertakes an investigation on his own despite misgivings by his colleagues and wife. Then Miles is sent to Belfast on a routine mission, despite the fact that he is not a "field agent." There he confirms his suspicions. And his life is threatened.
The book's original reception was less than enthusiastic, but then Rebus came to the rescue. Nevertheless, from an historical point of view in the development of the author's work, it should be read. It is well-written and enjoyable, and is recommended.
Hand of Evil
J. A. Jance
Touchstone/Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781416537533 $25.95 www.SimonandSchuster.com 800-223-2336
The latest saga in the life of Ali Reynolds, the ex-TV journalist, who has moved back to Sedona, AZ, from LA following her dismissal by her media employer, divorce and the death of her husband (before the divorce became final), finds her at loose ends - but not for long. She is busy writing her blog and answering emails.
Ali got her start when she was awarded a college scholarship by the Ashcrofts, mother and daughter, after an invitation to tea at their palatial home. Many years later, Ali is again invited to tea by the daughter, who asks that a diary she wrote be reviewed by Ali as the basis for a possible tell-all book. This diary plays a role in solving a series of murders.
Meanwhile, Ali becomes involved with the wayward daughter of her friend, Detective Dave Holman, who is the victim of sexual predators. And just to make things interesting, someone working for Ali's father is beaten to death, an event that intertwines with the background of the girl's circumstances.
Throughout, Ali plays a pivotal role in helping at least three police departments solve a whole bunch of murders, arresting the culprits and wrapping up the loose ends. The novel is the third in the series, and continues at the same high level. The author, of course, has written a dozen Joanna Brady mysteries and 21 J.P. Beaumont mysteries. She doesn't really need our recommendation, but she has it anyway.
Prayer of the Dragon
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781569474792 $24.00 www.sohopress.com 212-260-1900
The Inspector Shan series - five in all - provides deep insights into Tibet and the consequences of the Chinese takeover. In this installment, however, there is an additional twist. Shan is summoned to a remote village to save a comatose man from execution for two murders. It turns out that the man is a Navajo descendant visiting Tibet with his niece, an American anthropology professor researching a link between Tibetans and Navajos.
The two murders, Shan discovers, are but part of a series of others and he has to solve not only those, but the riddle of Dragon Mountain, "where the world begins." The village is located on the mountain and the suspects are numerous. With the help of his friends, the unlicensed monks, Gendun and Lokesh, Shan undertakes an arduous task.
The common religious and cultural aspects of Tibetans and Navajos described throughout the novel are fascinating. The descriptions of the people and bleak geography are penetrating. The novel, like its predecessor, gets off to a slow start, and the author lays the groundwork for the plot. But once it gets going, the mystery moves apace solidly. Also like its predecessor, "Dragon" is very much worth reading, and is recommended.
61 Paradise Rd., Ipswich, MA 01938
9781933515083 $23.95 www.oceanviewpub.com 978-356-1897
Dr. Laura Nelson, a respected and talented surgeon, faces more calamities than is possible in this twisting tale. To begin with, she walks into her home after a long and difficult day and night of surgery to find her husband and a strange woman nude in the family room. Then she is found later on in that woman's home kneeling by her dead body and Laura's fingerprint on the murder weapon. She is arrested and accused of the murder. Among other travails to follow, one of her children is found to be seriously ill.
This novel is a complex story about mistakes, failed relationships, lies, manipulation and betrayals. The author is a physician and uses her professional knowledge to provide the story with a high degree of realism. Moreover, she does a credible job on the ins and outs of Laura's legal defense and child custody problems. The only criticism is her characterization of the husband, which is superficial (as is he).
All in all, the novel is a well-paced saga, suspenseful with a plot that keeps the reader wondering what will happen next. Dr. Nelson first appeared in Shadow of Death, and it would seem she is poised to play a role in a future novel.
Durban House Press
7502 Greenville Ave., Dallas TX 5231
9781930754997 $15.95 www.durbanhouse.com 214-898-4050
In this, the fifth Margot O'Banion and Max Skull mystery, the couple are about to start their first independent film venture in Panama. The only trouble is that the $2 million of their own money and a supposedly equal amount entrusted to their right-hand man can't be found, sort of putting a crimp on things.
Complicating the plot are a variety of other characters seeking to "invest" in the film, as well as the fact that the leading man was fought over by a female guide from the spiritual sect he has embraced, his dynamic 200-pound female agent, and two British male financiers (one of whom has disappeared and had knowledge of the location of the missing money), among others.
The story is cute and the characters are larger than life. The reader really skips through the novel at a fast clip to an unexpected conclusion. Read it and have some fun.
Unleashing the Storm
1745 Broadway, New York, NY10019
This is the erotic tale of Kira Donovan, an animal psychic who's more in tune with animals than people. Kira is a gentle soul and not prone to violence, but it's almost that time of year again when an overwhelming need for a man will control her every thought and action.
Kira's living on a remote farm in Idaho. She's in hiding from the law and considered a threat to society. The only danger she poses is if she were to fall under the control of the wrong party. The problem is that two groups wish to recruit her to work for them. If either of them have their way Kira will have to join or die. One group uses their talents for good while the other is a group of terrorists in business only for power and personal gain.
Enter Tom Knight, a good choice for a knight in not so shining armor, at least that's the way I see him. He's sent to recruit Kira for the good guys, but finds the other side has already put their agent in place. The two are enemies from way back and tensions mount. It quickly becomes a life or death situation for both Kira and Tom as they flee the farm with their enemies only a few steps behind. Kira's mating time has come early; can Tom take care of her burning needs? Will either of them survive?
Unleashing the Storm is a great paranormal story with action, romance and lots of sex. It's the second book in the ACRO Series. Riding the Storm is the first and more are in the works.
One Last Scream
Kevin O' Brien
Kensington Publishing Corp
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022
It looks like there's a serial killer loose in the state of Washington. Amelia Faraday is a young woman on the edge. Her brother recently had a fatal accident and now someone's murdered her parents and her aunt. She tells her therapist Karen that she may have killed them all, but Karen refuses to believe it. Something doesn't fit.
Karen's determined to prove Amelia's innocence, but it won't be easy for the young woman's actions become stranger and stranger. To solve Amelia's problems, Karen and Amelia's uncle must delve into the mystery of the young woman's past. Karen's loyalty is obsessive and her foolish actions may get her killed.
The therapist has her own issues to deal with. Her worry over her father's dementia and her own loneliness cause her to become too attached to her patient.
The characters are complex and the story is a little drawn out, but I enjoyed reading it. This is a book that will give you the shivers and make you think twice about helping a stranger, let alone an innocent acting young woman. Watch out for she could be a cold blooded killer.
Other books by Kevin O'Brien include: Only Son, The Next to Die, Make Them Cry, Watch Them Die, Left for Dead, The Last Victim and Killing Spree.
The Secret History of the World: As Laid Down By the Secret Societies
The Overlook Press
141 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10012
This book aroused my curiosity. I've read books on the occult, but this one is unique in presentation and outlook. Its premise is that the great Mystery Schools of antiquity held secrets that suggest a different version of history than the one we are familiar with. The author believes that some of the secret societies of today still have this knowledge.
Science dictates what religion once had the exclusive rights to. Our ancestors interacted with the world in a different way than we do today. Science and rationalism have thrown cold water on the notion of a creator and afterlife and left little to console us.
The author takes us back through time, explaining his interpretation of the true meanings of passages in the Bible and other events of history. I would be lying if I claimed to understand this alternate view of history or the theories the author presents. I did find his views interesting. He has a unique way of looking at the past which made sense in many ways and confused me in others.
The author believes that many of the famous and influential people of history have known about the secret history and interacted with it. These historic figures and the information about them alone makes for a fascinating read.
The open-minded reader will find the book entertaining and thought provoking if nothing else. Reading the book may cause you to look at life and death in a new way. Or you may throw it down and walk away muttering about what nonsense it is. I've always loved reading books that shake up accepted beliefs and ways of thinking. The Secret History of the World is one of those rare works. It's a mindboggling adventure that I recommend to anyone who has a thirst for knowledge and a desire for an alternate glimpse into the past. Is it true or not? I'll leave that up to your judgment.
The Mascot: Unraveling the Mystery of My Jewish Father's Nazi Boyhood
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
A mesmerizing read, thoroughly engaging, painfully revealing of the dark that lurks inside each and every one of us, and right beside that shadow, the light. I first heard about "The Mascot" on an NPR station, with both son and father being interviewed--and I knew this was a story I needed to read and ponder. After all, it touched upon some part of my own heritage as a Latvian born of immigrant parents, come to the United States during WWII as refugees fleeing the Soviet occupation in Latvia.
This is the story of Uldis Kurzemnieks, by birth Ilya Galperin, a Jewish boy caught in the turning wheels of the Nazi onslaught and Holocaust. To the best of his memory, Uldis/Ilya tells his story to his son, the book's author, Mark Kurzem, and his memory seems remarkable indeed for one so very young. In bits and puzzle pieces, the now elderly man recalls his childhood of close escape from Nazis executing Jews in Belarus, his mother and siblings of those who did not survive. After six months wandering in the woods, eating berries, wrapping himself in the coat of a dead soldier, the boy is rescued by a group of Latvian SS soldiers who subsequently transform him into something of a miniature soldier-mascot. They treat him well. But here is the flux of the circumstance: the very ones who save his life are also the same who execute more Jews, and not all of them realize that the boy is Jewish, too. This is the story of extreme paradox, in which we see that one man, one group of soldiers, can exhibit mercy just as they exhibit unspeakable cruelty. Perhaps all soldiers can say the same.
The horror of the Holocaust is incomprehensible and unforgivable. Many are accountable, by commission just as by omission of deed. No doubt, young Uldis witnessed in very close encounter the worst of humanity and suffered lifelong for it. What makes my Latvian heart ache, aside from this, however, is that the author of this book sweeps with just as broad a brush across another nation--the Latvians--as was swept across his--the Jews--as if an entire nation of peoples can be called wholly good or evil. Indeed, very few individuals can be called one or the other, but contain a blend of both, let alone an entire country be crossed off as such.
The irony of this is that the Latvian nation has suffered a very similar fate and at almost the same moment in time. This is a tiny Baltic country that has been occupied by one great power or another through almost its entire history. We, too, have been herded onto cattle cars in the dark of the night at gunpoint, our children and elderly executed, deported to concentration camps in Siberia, our property, our homes and land and businesses annihilated or stolen from us, our families dispersed, our freedom denied us, and lived through many years of strategic genocide. Kurzem accuses us of whitewashing our history to hide our sins against the Jews. I would argue that ALL histories are a mix of truth and propaganda; look to its source to find its slant. We, too, carry a mark of guilt on our foreheads, and I will not deny it. We owe apologies, even as apologies are owed us. Caught between two superpowers, two great evils, we made hard choices that I am not equipped to defend or accuse in that I myself have never stood in such a position, nor my own child, my own home so threatened. Only those who have stood in such a place, their own families under threat, can truly say what they would do to save their own. Consider, too, the source of at least some of Kurzem's most damning evidence against this battalion of Latvian soldiers: the Soviets. I will not make excuses or rationalizations, only urge the author, and this book's readers, to consider that no one entire nation should be so marked as wrong or right, but each individual called to judgment for his or her actions. Just as Americans would hope not to be judged by Abu Ghraib in Iraq or My Lai in Vietnam or the Trail of Tears in the South U.S., so let us practice tolerance and understanding for all until proven otherwise, and not curse an entire nation for the actions of a few.
That aside, I plan to give this book to read to my friends and family. It is a remarkable story. While not all details can be verified, memory being what it is, enough is evidence-based that we can, and should, learn from this story and ingrain it in ourselves: this must never happen again.
Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men
In the United States alone, two to four million women are physically and emotionally assaulted by their partners. At least one out of three American women will be a victim of abuse by a husband or boyfriend in her lifetime. And while all physical violence in relationships includes a strong element of emotional violence, there are still more relationships in which emotional abuse alone is the weapon of choice. It is the latter that can be so difficult to detect from the outside looking in, so easy for the abuser to hide not only from others, but even to rationalize to himself. Yet the damage done from emotional abuse, with or without the physical component, is far more injurious in the long run and far more complex to heal.
Author Lundy Bancroft was former co-director of Emerge, the first program specifically created for abusive men in the United States. He has worked extensively with abusive men for nearly two decades and has frequently been expert witness in the legal system involving abuse cases.
Bancroft outlines the early warning signs of an abusive man; ten abusive personality types; the role of addiction in abuse; what can and cannot be changed in abusive men; and how to get out of an abusive relationship safely.
One of the most frequently accepted myths, even by therapists, is that the abusive man's partner is in some part accountable for the abuse - if only as "enabler." First among 17 myths Bancroft dispels in his book is that the victim of the abuser plays any part whatsoever in the abusive behavior of her partner. Bancroft writes:
"Part of how the abuser escapes confronting himself is by convincing you that you are the cause of his behavior, or that you at least share the blame. But abuse is not the product of bad relationship dynamics, and you cannot make things better by changing your own behavior or by attempting to manage your partner better. Abuse is a problem that lies entirely within the abuser." (pg. 19)
If Bancroft's book hammers home nothing more this one truth, then it is worth its weight in gold. Today's therapists and many modern-day books of relationship self-help commonly advise that it "takes two to tango," that both partners are accountable - yet Bancroft dismantles this theory and illustrates time and again how an abusive man is an entity in himself. The victim's only role in this dynamic is to protect herself, and, ultimately, to leave the relationship as the abuse usually only escalates - not only over the length of that particular relationship, but also over a lifetime of relationships in which the abuser is a partner. The longer (and more intimate) the relationship, the more his abusive behavior has time to surface and escalate.
One by one, Bancroft invalidates all the common excuses an abuser will inevitably use. The exploded myths are:
He was abused as a child.
His previous partner hurt him.
He abuses those he loves the most.
He holds in his feelings too much.
He has an aggressive personality.
He loses control.
He is too angry.
He is mentally ill.
He hates women.
He is afraid of intimacy and abandonment.
He has low self-esteem.
His boss mistreats him.
He has poor skills in communication and conflict resolution.
There are as many abusive women as abusive men.
His abusiveness is as bad for him as for his partner.
He is a victim of racism.
He abuses alcohol, drugs, or other addictive behavior.
While many of these circumstances may indeed apply, none of these are excuses or even causes for his behavior. Dealing with any of these issues, while that may be otherwise helpful to him as a troubled individual, will not have any lasting affect on his abusive behavior. In fact, dealing with any of these issues first and foremost, rather than dealing directly with his thought patterns, can and often does aggravate his abusiveness.
What Bancroft proves with admirable ease and inarguable clarity, building block by block, is that the abusive man is not only in complete control of his behavior, but that he chooses to behave as he does because he feels justified and he enjoys the control he yields. He takes pleasure in controlling another human being and having her at the beck and call of his ego - most often, in the form of multiple affairs, some of which may or may not be abusive in nature (yes, an abuser can be nice to some while cruel to others, evidence of the control he has over his behavior).
In his mind, this man has built himself up to be supremely entitled. Therapy will not work on him, because it is not his underlying emotions that are the core issue, but his thinking process. That is, his lack of a healthy value system, his lack of empathy for the person he abuses, his general disrespect for women. It may or may not be that he had a rough childhood with poor role models. But somewhere along the way, the abuser made a choice to be who he is, and the rewards of his abuse are too great for him to want to make the necessary changes. He will resist changing, will often insist change is "impossible" for him, and is expert at listing endless reasons and excuses why he remains as he is. "He may hide what he does because he thinks other people would disagree with it, but he feels justified inside." (pg. 35)
Hand in hand with abuse is the abuser's compulsive lying. He not only lies to his partner, but he lies to himself. Always concerned with the image he presents to the public, he often rewrites his own history and presents a whitewashed version of himself and his life to others. Over time, he becomes so convinced of his own lies that he can even be capable of passing a lie detector test. Why sweat it if you believe it? In his mind, how he behaves is based on acceptable reason. Even as the truth is put irrefutably on the table, he will insist on his own "truth" at any cost.
Typically we hear of abuse being handed down from generation to generation, i.e. the abused becomes the abuser. Bancroft argues this is not genetic as much as it is observed and, in adult years, chosen behavior: "… research has shown that men who have abusive mothers do not tend to develop especially negative attitudes toward females, but men who have abusive fathers do; the disrespect that abusive men show their female partners and their daughters is often absorbed by their sons … the great majority exhibit a more subtle - though often quite pervasive - sense of superiority or contempt toward females, and some don't show any obvious signs of problems with women at all until they are in a serious relationship." (pg. 41) The casual and short-lived relationship may allow him to keep his charming mask intact, but the more longstanding and serious a relationship, the more the abuser shows his true colors.
Bancroft explains the dangers of therapy with abusers, why it escalates abuse rather than alleviates it in the long run. "You can't manage an abuser except for brief periods. Praising him and boosting his self-opinion may buy you some time, but sooner or later he'll jump back into chewing pieces out of you. When you try to improve an abuser's feelings about himself, his problem actually tends to get worse. An abusive man expects catering, and the more positive attention he receives, the more he demands. He never reaches a point where he is satisfied, where he has been given enough. Rather, he gets used to the luxurious treatment he is receiving and soon escalates his demands … The self-esteem myth is rewarding for the abuser, because it gets his partner, his therapist, and others to cater him emotionally." (pg. 43)
It is no accident that many if not most abusers have problems with pornography use and cheating on their partners. Pornography is based on objectifying women, building the sense of justification in the mind of the abuser for his behavior toward women, who are, in his mind, more object than human, not worthy of respect or empathy, and exist merely for his pleasure.
"Objectification is a critical reason why an abuser tends to get worse over time. As his conscience adapts to one level of cruelty - he builds to the next. By depersonalizing his partner, the abuser protects himself from the natural human emotions of guilt and empathy, so that he can sleep at night with a clear conscience. He distances himself so far from her humanity that her feelings no longer count, or simply cease to exist." (pg. 63)
Bancroft sums it all up: "Abuse and respect are diametric opposites: You do not respect someone whom you abuse, and you do not abuse someone whom you respect." (pg. 64)
And where there is no respect, there is no love. While many abused women stay in abusive relationships even after the abuse surfaces time and again, hoping for change that never happens, Bancroft reminds us that respect is the necessary ground floor on which love is built.
"The more a man abuses you, the more he is demonstrating that he cares only about himself. He may feel a powerful desire to receive your love and caretaking, but he only wants to give love when it's convenient." (pg.64)
The abusive man may not consciously be lying when he tells his partner he loves her, but he is probably unable to recognize the emotion of real love. He easily confuses it with a "powerful stirring" that is actually nothing more than having a desire for a partner "who devotes her life to keeping him happy, a desire for sexual access, a desire to impress others by having you as his partner, and his insatiable desire to possess and control you. It is not that the abuser is incapable of genuine love," Bancroft says, as much as it is his inability to "really see you." (pg. 65)
With all this confusion in abusive relationships about what is and isn't genuine love, Bancroft offers: "Genuine love means respecting the humanity of the other person, wanting what is best for him or her, and supporting the other person's self-esteem and independence. This kind of love is incompatible with abuse and coercion." (pg.65)
Another reason therapy fails so miserably with the abusive man is because he is a practiced liar - a form of emotional abuse in itself - and cannot be relied upon to be honest with himself, let alone his therapist. Bancroft writes of his experiences in programs that do work with abusive men, and how initially very few of them will admit to how extensive their abuse has been. While all will admit, quite freely, in fact, to some of their abuse, few if any will admit to its full extent. They may also have so justified it in their own minds that they no longer recognize it as abuse. Regrettably, it is a rare therapist who will contact the abused partner for her side of the story (something Bancroft and the Emerge program always does), which will inevitably vary radically from his. It is impossible to treat what one does not know. Without checking on their stories, too many therapists inadvertently validate the abuser and help rather than defer his faulty thinking.
Most abusers cheat on their partners; it is a large part of their sense of entitlement. Bancroft refers to this type of abuser as "The Player." He is extremely needy of female attention. Charming and flirtatious when he chooses to be, he plays his women, friends and lovers, against each other, all to serve his ego. His tactic is to tell each of his women how the others have mistreated him, eliciting each one's support and validation. He uses women with no regard for the effect of his behavior on them. He will blame past breakups on the women rather than to take responsibility for the common denominator: himself. It is not uncommon for this type of abuser to claim that he was the abused one, and that if he ever reacted in abusive manner, it was surely her fault. She had it coming to her.
An abuser is, however, neither monster nor victim, Bancroft states. He has two sides to his personality, distinct as Jekyll and Hyde, and so his partner will hang onto the relationship sometimes for many years, pinning her hopes to his "good" side and suffering through the bad. He is fully capable of being a good and loving man. The point is… he chooses not to be. By adulthood, the manipulative and controlling behavior he learned from various sources growing up - key male role models, peers, and pervasive cultural messages - has become so deeply integrated that he acts largely on automatic. "He knows what he is doing but not necessarily why." (pg. 113)
Bancroft lists red flags for women potentially entering into or already in abusive relationships to protect themselves:
He speaks disrespectfully about his partners - "A certain amount of anger and resentment toward an ex-partner is normal, but beware of the man who is very focused on his bitterness or who tells you about it inappropriately early on in your dating … be cautious also of the man who admits to abusing a former partner but claims that the circumstances were exceptional, blames it on her, or blames it on alcohol or immaturity." (pg. 115)
Be cautious of the man who says that "you are nothing like the women he has been involved with, that you are the first partner to treat him well, or that earlier women in his life have not understood him. You will be tempted to work doubly hard to prove that you aren't like those other women, and one foot will already be in the trap … a few men have the opposite approach, which is to glorify and elevate their former partners so that you feel like you can never quite compete. If he starts to lament the fact that you aren't as sexy, athletic, domestic, or successful as the women who went before you, I can assure you that you won't measure up any better later, no matter how hard you try. He wants to feel one up on you so that he can have the upper hand." (pg. 115)
He is disrespectful toward you - cutting and sarcastic early on, even after you have expressed that such behavior is hurtful to you, or the opposite extreme of putting his women on a pedestal, another form of objectification.
He does favors for you that you don't want or makes such a show of generosity that he makes you uncomfortable - if that early behavior seems too good to be true, chances are, it isn't.
Nothing is ever his fault - he blames something or someone else for anything that goes wrong or is not to his liking. If he makes apologies, they are insincere and followed by justification.
He is self-centered - "Self-centeredness is a personality characteristic that is highly resistant to change, as it has deep roots in either profound entitlement or to severe early injuries, or both (in narcissistic abusers)." (pg 118)
He abuses drugs or alcohol or has an addiction to pornography.
He pressures you for sex - "is a sign of seeing women as sex objects rather than human beings," precursor to how he will later rationalize his cheating, pressuring other women for sex.
He intimidates you when he's angry - and this includes not only physical violence, but using his size and presence to make you flinch or feel afraid.
He has double standards - because all abusive men have one standard for themselves, another for you, especially when it comes to how you express your anger. His anger can be freely unleashed at any time; yours must be short-lived and by his permission only.
He treats you differently around other people - dispelling the myth of being out of control, note that the abuser is quite capable of turning off his behavior in society and in the workplace, while using you as a scapegoat. Outsiders often are fooled into thinking he is a loving partner (image is important to him), while behind closed doors his shadow side emerges.
He is attracted to vulnerability - He enjoys playing the role of "rescuer," preying on "damsels in distress" that are vulnerable and so can easily be manipulated and controlled.
Bancroft discusses in great detail what is and is not abusive behavior (we can all be abusive on occasion, but watch for ongoing patterns that will not change even when confronted about the behavior) and how to respond. He lists typical responses that indicate you are dealing with an abuser (the abuser commonly tells you that you are being "too sensitive" when his hurtful remarks reach their mark). Bancroft also describes the "gaslighting" effect the abuser uses on his victim, constantly traveling back and forth between good guy and bad guy to keep you unsettled and confused. He will take back words he said one moment, only to tell you in the next that is not at all what he meant, causing his partner to question her sense of judgement. He is expert at mind games.
Skeptical of change, Bancroft advises skepticism in the victim not yet ready to leave, and describes, again, what to watch for in the abuser to detect that his apologies and promises to change might actually be sincere. To begin with, he states, the abuser who is sincerely remorseful will not put a timeline on the expression of your hurt and anger, "giving you some extended room to be angry about what he did, rather than telling you that you've been angry too long or tying to stuff your angry feelings back down your throat," nor will he make excuses or try to offer rationalizations for his behavior. (pg. 133) If he complains that your "grievances" take too long and tells you to "get over it," he has not yet taken responsibility for his behavior and is showing a lack of readiness to change.
In spite of abuse, many partners of abusers have a very difficult time leaving. In explanation of this bond between abuser and abusee, Bancroft discusses why it is actually more difficult to leave an abusive relationship than a normal relationship that has run its course. "The longer you have been living with his cycles of intermittent abuse and kind, loving treatment, the more attached you are likely to feel to him, through a process known as traumatic bonding." The longer you stay, Bancroft warns, the harder it becomes to leave. His advice is to leave sooner than later, especially if children are involved. (pg.134)
Bancroft gives recommendations for finding help (legal advice, support groups, therapy for the abused partner, which he suggests the abuser should pay for as part of making amends), from checking with the source to uncover deceit (he strongly suggests women involved with these men to check with each other rather than to accept his side of the story), to hotlines and organizations to assist women in abusive relationships.
"If I were asked to select one salient characteristic of my abusive clients, an aspect of their nature that stands out above all others, I would choose this one: They feel profoundly justified. Every effort to reach an abuser must be based on the antidote to this attitude: Abuse is wrong; you are responsible for your own actions; no excuse is acceptable; the damage you are doing is incalculable; your problem is yours alone to solve." (pg. 376)
Why Does He Do That? is a comprehensive book offering much good advice and a deeper understanding of the abusive relationship. Bancroft concludes with a call to action for society - to not look the other way when we see abusive behavior, to offer support to abused partners, to take a second look at the kind of behavior we encourage with the current trend to objectify women. Awareness and sensitivity to this epidemic of domestic violence (and make no mistake, emotional abuse, too, should be considered violence) can go a long way to eliminating it.
James A. Cox
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