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SirReadaLot.org


We Review the Best of the Latest Books

ISSN 1934-6557

February 2007, Issue # 95

Guide to This Issue

Arts & Literature / Biographies & Memoirs / Environment

Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature by Linda Lear (St. Martin’s Press)

That the biography is finding its way in the world at the same time as the movie is released is a happy coincidence. I am confident the ‘rest of the story’ will be told for the first time. – Linda Lear

Peter Rabbit, Mr. McGregor, and many other Beatrix Potter characters remain in the hearts of millions. However, though Potter is a household name around the world, few know the woman behind the illustrations. Her personal life, including a romantic relationship with her publisher, and her significant achievements outside of children's literature, remain largely unknown. In Linda Lear’s new biography, Beatrix Potter, we get the life story of this funny and independent woman. As one of the first female naturalists in the world, Potter brought the beauty and importance of nature back into the imagination at a time when plunder was more popular than preservation. Through her art, she sought to encourage conservation and change the world.

Lear, professor of environmental history and author of the prize-winning biography of Rachel Carson, reveals in Beatrix Potter that Potter’s was a life inspired and enriched by nature. Even as a child and a young woman growing up in a wealthy, conventional London family, her imagination and artistic talent were fed by visits to the countryside. She found personal and financial freedom through nature, first as an artist and scientific illustrator, and then as the creator of the overnight bestseller Peter Rabbit. It was the ‘little books’ that led Beatrix to her first great love: her editor and pub­lisher Norman Warne, who died tragically just a month after he proposed to her.

But Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) was one of those rare indi­viduals who were given a second chance at happiness. Her purchase of Hill Top Farm in the Lake District just after Warne’s death led to her reinvention as a successful landowner and country farmer, and eventually to a happy marriage to William Heelis. She became a conservationist in order to preserve the landscape that had inspired her art, and, through the lands she bequeathed to the National Trust on her death, she saved whole areas of the Lake District for posterity.

When Potter created the image and story of Peter Rabbit in 1902, she had hit upon the literary equivalent of the ‘it’ factor. In her illustrations and storytelling of Peter and the characters that would follow, Potter tapped into a timeless and universal appeal that shows no sign of slowing. Not only is The Tale of Peter Rabbit ranked among the bestselling children's books of all time, but Potter began one of the first merchandizing empires built around a literary character. Today more than 200 companies worldwide license Potter merchandise which generates $500 million in international retail sales each year.

In the last decades of her life, she took up the cause of land preservation, a value instilled in her as a young woman by family friend Hardwicke Rawnsley, one of the founders of the National Trust. Strategically, she and her husband acquired large tracts of land in the Lake District in an effort to stop commercial development and to preserve the culture of fell farming. Reserved but opinionated, she became a behind-the-scenes power in the local community, working to preserve local arts and crafts, and bringing professional nursing care to the isolated fell farmers. She bred prize-winning Herdwick sheep and Galloway cattle, pioneered animal husbandry, and was President-elect of the Herdwick Sheep Farmers' Association – making her the first woman honored. Upon her death at age 77 in 1943, and that of her husband 18 months later, the Heelises donated more than 4,000 acres that included 44 farms, hundreds of acres of farm land, forest, and valley headlands to the National Trust.

…Potter's witty journals, with their close observations of people, animals, objects and places, serve as the basis for Lear's engrossing account, which will appeal to ecologists, historians, child lit buffs and those who want to know the real Squirrel Nutkin, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and Benjamin Bunny. …. – Publishers Weekly
Beatrix Potter had a passion for place that found aesthetic expression in the beautifully realized natural settings of her celebrated children's books (The Tale of Peter Rabbit, etc.) and also practical expression in her less-well-known role as a successful landowner, farm manager, and sheep breeder. …Potter was a famously close observer of the world around her, and Lear is an equally close observer of her subject. The result is a meticulously researched and brilliantly re-created life that, despite its length and accretion of detail, is endlessly fascinating and often illuminating. It is altogether a remarkable achievement. – Michael Cart, Booklist (starred review)
An in-depth biography of Beatrix Potter is long overdue and here Linda Lear fills that gap with a thoroughly well-researched and compelling book. – Judy Taylor, author of Beatrix Potter: Artist, Storyteller and Countrywoman

With never before seen illustrations and intimate detail, Lear in Beatrix Potter goes beyond the perennial fascination with Potter as a writer and illustrator of children's books, and delves deeply into the life of a most unusual and gifted woman – one whose art was timeless, and whose generosity left an indelible imprint on the countryside.

Readers will enjoy discovering Potter as far more than a children's writer as Lear explores Potter's unique accomplishments against the backdrop of her time and place in history. Beatrix Potter reveals the life of this shy and reserved Victorian woman whose contributions will, like her characters, influence generations to come.

Audio / Business & Investing / Management & Leadership

Cut to the Chase: and 99 Other Rules to Liberate Yourself and Gain Back the Gift of Time (3 Audio CDs, 3 hours, unabridged) by Stuart R. Levine, narrated by Alan Sklar (Tantor)

Just before CEO and consultant Stuart R. Levine appeared on the Today show to promote his bestselling book The Six Fundamentals of Success, cohort Matt Lauer said to him, "You know what really drives me nuts? When people come into my office for a five-minute conversation and an hour later, they're still there! Why can't they cut to the chase?"

Lauer's question echoed the concerns Levine has heard from businesspeople and top executives at every level:

  • How can I get more done?

  • How can I stay focused?

  • How can I condense my workday so that I can become more successful and yet spend more time with my family?

Levine's answer? People need to learn how to cut to the chase. Successful individuals make the best use of their limited time and energy. They approach each task with clarity and purpose. They prioritize. They don't allow others to waste their time. They understand the importance of refueling their batteries outside of work.

A much-anticipated follow-up to the bestselling The Six Fundamentals of Success, Cut to the Chase reveals 100 rules on how to make the best of your most precious resource: your time. Levine distills the expertise of hundreds of CEOs, managers, and professionals into concise lessons about how to get to the point, stay on track, make better, faster decisions, and be more successful in everything they do.

Clear, concise, with a crucial message for anyone looking to succeed... – Richard Silverman, Vice Chairman Wealth & Investment Management, Bank of America

In an age where we spend more hours at work than ever before, Cut to the Chase is an indispensable guide. Levine summarizes the thoughts of hundreds of professionals into lessons to help readers make effective use of their time.

Audio / Religion & Spirituality / New Age

The One Two Three of God [AUDIOBOOK] [UNABRIDGED] (4 Audio CDs, running time 4 ½ hours) by Ken Wilber (Sounds True)

Is it possible to develop an all-inclusive embrace of God, one that can satisfy scientists, philosophers, and priests at the same time?

It is, teaches best-selling author Ken Wilber, if listeners to the audio program are able to understand The One Two Three of God. According to this modern philosopher, the seemingly innumerable ways humans conceptualize God can actually be broken down into three basic perspectives. From this simple ‘1-2-3’ foundation, it is then possible to understand how God has been perceived in different religions and cultures throughout history – and how listeners can broaden their own experience of ‘the ultimate’ to an integral level.

Wilber invites listeners to learn more about:

  • Is there really a God? Wilber gives his direct – and surprising – answer.
  • God in the AQAL model: how Wilber's integral framework can help listeners connect with spirit at every state and stage.
  • The ‘I, We, and It’ views of God: how different religions and spiritual paths tend to focus on only one of these three fundamental ways of relating to the divine.
  • Using an integrated 1-2-3 approach to God to open communication between people of different faiths and beliefs.

The One Two Three of God provides guided sessions by Wilber for deeply experiencing each of the three aspects of God – mystical, devotional, and objective. The audio book also includes a Levels of Consciousness reference card.

Through his bestselling books and his work as founder and president of the Integral Institute, Wilber has become one of the world’s most recognized and respected pioneers of modern spirituality. The One Two Three of God brings Wilber’s lucid insight to the most essential question asked by spiritual seekers throughout history: what is the true nature of God? Those seeking answers will find help in deepening their connection to the divine.

Biographies & Memoirs

Room for Doubt by Wendy Lesser (Pantheon)

Room for Doubt is about one writer's growing suspi­cion that there are more things in heaven and earth than were dreamt of in her previous philosophy. Through Wendy Lesser's account of her stay in a city that she never imagined she would see, a book she thought she wanted to write but never did, and a friendship that constantly broke down and endured, she offers readers an unusual journey through the terrain of feeling and beliefs, and in the end shows how, once examined, things are never quite what she thought they were.

Raised as an agnostic who acknowledged her Jew­ish heritage mainly because it seemed like caving in to Hitler not to do so, Lesser always assumed that she would never visit Germany. "Certain places are capable of being significant to us only at certain times – I mean not only at particular phrases of their own history, but at particular moments in ours. I was ready for Berlin when I finally got to it." Yet once in Berlin, she is astonished to discover a place that is at once spur and antidote to many of her dissatisfactions and longings – in fact, she experiences a sense of homecoming defined by a familiarity that she did not think possible. Hoping, in Berlin, to write a book about the Scottish philosopher David Hume, she is not sure whether it is the writer or his ideas that she finds sympathetic, and eventually she comes to see that the only way to learn something from Hume is not to think about him as having something to teach. Instead of writing about Hume, she decides to write about her ‘difficult friendship’ with Leonard Michaels. In doing so, she comes to see that their difficulties – fights and reconciliations, mutual obstinacy, and an intensely shared interest in the arts – were an essential and binding aspect of a friendship which, despite Michaels' recent death, remains an important part of her life.

…Readers who value lucidity, sophistication and all the elements of ‘intelligent conversation’ will enjoy the first two essays and, perhaps, forgive the third as the work of a ‘difficult friend.’ – Publishers Weekly
… Inquisitive and mettlesome, Lesser writes crisp and vivid prose as she strives to understand her unexpected affinity for Berlin (a city that, as a Jew, she thought she would feel uncomfortable in), her resistance to writing a planned book about the Scottish philosopher David Hume, and her decision to try to write about the death of her dear friend, the writer Leonard Michaels, without betraying her promise that she wouldn't. Lesser's focus on herself can grate, but she articulates hard-won and provocative insights into art, morality, agnosticism, death, and friendship. – Donna Seaman, Booklist

Wonderfully intelligent and cultured in the best sense, Room for Doubt is a provocative and touching account of a rare friendship. – Mary Gaitskill, author of Veronica

Wendy Lesser has always been a tenacious and subtle critic, but in Room for Doubt there is a new, more poignant and plain-speaking eloquence as she writes at and about her own limits, her own resistances as a writer. Elegies and confessions, memoirs and eulogies should only be written now by people who prefer not to write them. Room for Doubt, which is all of these and more, is written with a kind of skeptical passion. It is a wonderful book. – Adam Phillips, editor of The Penguin Freud Reader

Wendy Lesser's extraordinary alertness, intelligence, and curiosity have made her one of America's most significant cultural critics and editors. Now in Room for Doubt she turns these qualities on herself, probing her fascination with Berlin, her engagement with the philosophy of David Hume, and above all her ‘difficult friendship’ with the writer Leonard Michaels. Forthright, unflinching, and intensely personal, Lesser's book is the eloquent expression of someone at home in herself and the world. – Stephen Greenblatt, author of Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare

From one of our leading critics comes an utterly engaging portrait of self-exploration that reveals the divide between what we believe will be true of our lives, and what experience proves instead. Room for Doubt is an honest and candid, at times funny, self-portrait unlike any other memoir or autobiography.

Biographies & Memoirs / Relationships

My Father's Secret War: A Memoir by Lucinda Franks (Miramax Books)

In this riveting memoir, journalist Lucinda Franks discovers that the remote, troubled man she grew up with had in fact been a daring spy behind enemy lines in World War II.

As told in My Father's Secret War, sworn to secrecy, he began revealing details of his wartime activities only in the last years of his life as he became afflicted with Alzheimer’s. His exploits revealed a man of remarkable bravado.

Franks begins her investigation after finding a Nazi cap and an Iron Cross buried deep in her father's closet one afternoon. She presses him, and eventually learns that he posed as a Nazi guard during the beginning of the Ally invasion of Germany, slipping behind enemy lines to blow up ammunition dumps, and being flown to one of the first concentration camps liberated by the Allies to report on atrocities to which he bears witness. These reports brought some of the first waves of international attention to the first-discovered concentration camps.

As her remote father becomes increasingly unable to care for himself in later years, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Franks uses her journalistic skills to uncover the secret details of her father's experience as a young Navy lieutenant. As Franks' father succumbs to his illness, his daughter to weaves memory and history into a human portrait of a complicated man – father and spy, hero and everyman.

Franks later discovers stacks of letters her father had written her mother in the early days of World War II. Looking back at letters, Franks glimpses a loving man, full of warmth. They reveal a warm and caring husband, concerned with his family's well being. But after the letters hint at witnessing some of the war's atrocities, the tone of the letters shifts, and he settles into the reserved manner of the father she knows well, all too well.

So after years of estrangement, Franks learns about her father – beyond the alcoholism and adultery – and comes to know the man he once was.

My Father's Secret War is a haunting portrait of a daughter's relationship with her distant father and the shocking scars of war he could never reveal. The book is a triumph of love over secrets, and a tribute to the power of the connection of family.

Business & Investing / Economics / Natural Resources

Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy by Hazel Henderson, with Simran Sethi, with a foreword by Hunter Lovins (Chelsea Green Publishing)

Minimized by the mainstream media, visionary entrepreneurs, environmentalists, scientists, and professionals have been creating a new economy that lives in harmony with the earth and social well-being. Ethical Markets takes an inside look at the green economy that already exists and is growing by leaps and bounds.

For more than three decades, Hazel Henderson has been at the forefront of the green economy movement, pushing companies and governments toward a cleaner, greener, more ethical and more female model of business. Today this green economy, based on triple-bottom-line accounting – people and planet, considered alongside profit – is thriving in the U.S. and around the world. The new book Ethical Markets, written by Henderson, renowned economist, syndicated columnist, creator and producer of the public television series Ethical Markets, and professor at the Presidio School of Management, together with award-winning journalist Simran Sethi, host and scriptwriter of Ethical Markets, is based on that nationally syndicated public television series. In it Henderson weaves statistics and analysis with profiles of entrepreneurs, environmentalists, scientists, and professionals, as she chronicles the maturing of this economic paradigm.

According to Ethical Markets, the old system of booms, busts, bubbles, recessions, poverty lines, and trade wars is crumbling under the pressure of the unsustainable marketplace it has created. People are rejecting old measures of success such as the GNP and the GDP in favor of more encompassing approaches such as the Human Development Index, which considers an economy's impact on workers, consumers, the environment, and profits. The country of Bhutan, for example, has set up an index to measure its Gross National Happiness. Consumers, investors, and CEOs and are waking up to the fact that ‘business as usual’ is a relic of the Industrial Revolution.

Henderson points to example after example of companies that are ahead of the curve and have seen their value rise as they move to a triple-bottom-line approach. Investing in their communities creates brand equity; investing in their employees increases worker productivity and ensures recruitment and retention of the best talent; and reducing their environmental impact means they save money on resources and minimize the risk of a costly lawsuit or cleanup.

In Ethical Markets, Henderson examines how different aspects of the new green economy are working together to create a healthier, more stable world. She explores the impact of the rapidly escalating number of female business owners; the surprising influence shareholder activists are having on corporate responsibility; and the return of the local economy and community investment. Peppered throughout Henderson's analysis are interviews conducted by Ethical Markets TV host Sethi with the people who are on the ground reclaiming our economic landscape.

… An economist with a long history of activism in ‘redefining success’ (for example, revamping the GDP to include environmental capital and unpaid labor such as child-rearing), Henderson adeptly packs large amounts of information into chapters within her expertise. … Ethical Markets is crammed with Web references that can offer a fuller picture to readers tantalized by this glimpse of the economic revolution thriving below the radar of mainstream media. – Publishers Weekly
This book is a powerful and much needed antidote to the widespread hopelessness about our global ecological crisis. Hazel Henderson uses her flawless systemic analysis, great eloquence, and her unique gift for provocative, yet disarming aphorisms to show us not only that the transition to a sustainable future is possible with existing technologies and conceptual models, but also that it is already well on its way. – Fritjof Capra, author, The Web of Life and The Hidden Connections
Hazel Henderson has been pointing the way to a responsible future for decades, and with this book she now shows us that, lo and behold, the future is here! The stories she tells about the people who are bringing it to us are fascinating – and important. – James Gustave Speth, Dean, School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale University
Hazel Henderson has done it again. For decades she's managed to stay ahead of the curve in corporate social responsibility, lighting the path that others follow. If you want good news on where the world is heading, read this book. – Marjorie Kelly, author of The Divine Right of Capital, and co-founder of Business Ethics Magazine
With her characteristic clarity and readability, Hazel Henderson maps emerging movements for social, economic and ecological change that all of us – whether we share her enthusiasm for them or not – need to know about. – Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock
There are thinkers, there are philosophers, there are prophets, and then there is Hazel Henderson. She sees the future and finds its seeds in the present. Visionary and practical, this book will make you feel better about the choices you make on behalf of humanity. – Jessica Lipnack and Jeff Stamps, co-authors of Virtual Teams and The Age of the Network (www.netage.com)

At last, with the advent of the Ethical Markets TV series and this wonderfully readable companion book, the global green economy is becoming mainstream . . . as it must if humans are to make peace with the planet. – Denis Hayes, initiator of Earth Day, author of Rays of Hope

With insight, clarity, warmth, and enthusiasm, Henderson announces the mature presence of the green economy, overcoming mainstream media and big business interests, which have made efforts to sideline its emergence to preserve the status quo. The interview-based profiles celebrate those who have led the highly successful growth of green businesses around the world. The ultimate sourcebook on today’s thriving green economy, Ethical Markets is an outstanding big-picture view that will undoubtedly be heralded as the book that brought the green economy out of the shadows of awareness and into mainstream discussion.

Children’s / Ages 5-9 / Science

Extreme Aircraft! Q&A by Sarah L. Thomson (Smithsonian/Collins)

The Bell X-1 was extremely fast – it was the first plane to fly faster than the speed of sound. The B-29 was extremely dangerous – it carried 20,000 pounds of bombs. The Airbus A-380 is extremely long – twice as long as a basketball court. The space shuttle flies extremely high – it orbits the earth 250 miles above the ground.

Young readers open Extreme Aircraft! Q&A to discover how far the first airplane flew, what a barnstormer did, and what keeps an airplane up in the air. From gliders and balloons to planes that can reach space, readers can find out about the machines that made dreams of human flight come true.

The book was written by Sarah L. Thomson, the author of two previous novels for young readers, and a former editor with a major children's book publisher, with the support of a large team of creative staff. It contains a glossary and index as well.

In Extreme Aircraft! Q&A, readers check out cool Smithsonian websites and exhibits throughout the book; meet a Smithsonian Specialist; see fabulous close-up photos; and extremely fun facts about aircraft. The book provides great answers to the questions kids ask from the most trusted name in science education: the Smithsonian Institution, which readers trust for quality, with 75 million visitors to their website each year.

Children’s / Young Adults / Historical Fiction

An Unlikely Friendship: A Novel of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley by Ann Rinaldi (Great Episodes Series: Harcourt Children’s Books)

On the night of President Abraham Lincoln's assassination, his frantic wife, Mary, calls for her best friend and confidante, Elizabeth Keckley, but the woman is mistakenly kept from her side by guards who were unaware of Mary Todd Lincoln's close friendship with the black seamstress. How did these two women – one who grew up in a wealthy Southern home and became the wife of the president of the United States, the other who was born a slave and eventually purchased her own freedom – come to be such close companions?

Writing for young adults, author Ann Rinaldi in An Unlikely Friendship delves into the childhoods of these two fascinating women who became devoted friends and confidantes amid the turbulent times of the Lincoln administration.

An Unlikely Friendship tells the story of the years before the Civil War, when two extraordinary girls – one white, born to wealth and privilege, and the other a black slave with not even herself to call her own – had enough faith in themselves to keep their dreams alive. Mary Todd grew up and married a young Abraham Lincoln and lived in the White House, and Elizabeth Keckley eventually bought freedom for herself and her son and became one of the most sought-after seamstresses in Washington, D.C. It was there the two became devoted friends and confidants. What in their childhoods could have laid the foundation for such a friendship?

Award-winning historical novelist Rinaldi opens a window into the early lives of these unlikely friends, telling separate stories that will strike readers as much for the similarities as for their stark differences. In a time when the country was deeply divided between black and white, these two remarkable women found the courage to reach beyond their positions in life to embrace the power of the heart. With emotional power and vivid detail, An Unlikely Friendship brings this story to life.

Cooking, Food & Wine

Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two: For the Small Slow Cooker by Beth Hensperger (The Harvard Common Press)

For millions of people – particularly singles, small families, college students, and empty nesters – cooking at home can often mean having to scale down larger recipes or deal with a lot of unwanted leftovers. Rather than prepare nutritious, home-cooked food on a weeknight, many settle for frozen food or take-out.

But today, 58 per cent of American households consist of only one or two people. In this follow-up to the bestselling Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook, Beth Hensperger offers 125 new recipes specifically designed for the increasingly popular 1 ½ to 3 ½ -quart slow cooker.

Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two is written exclusively for small slow cookers. It features 125 contemporary, appealing, and easy-to-prepare recipes that use fresh ingredients, and proves that the slow cooker is a versatile tool for creating edible food. The recipes range from traditional American fare like soups and chili to globally inspired meals such as Lamb Korma, Pork Chops with Sauerkraut and New Potatoes, Jerked Pulled Pork with Rum Barbecue Sauce, and a variety of Italian dishes. Sidebars discuss food safety, caring for the slow cooker, make-ahead meals, and recipes for quick salads and tasty side dishes to round out the slow-cooked meal.

… Hensperger demonstrates this diminutive cooker's versatility with a collection of recipes that fit in with today's changing tastes in food. Chilis and soups show off the slow cooker's obvious virtues. In addition to beef- and pork-based stews and braises, plenty of turkey and chicken recipes appeal to devotees of lower-fat cooking. Polenta and risotto enhance the usual pasta dishes. Hensperger further offers some recipes for accompaniments designed for stovetop or oven preparation such as cornbread, pilafs, and dumplings. – Mark Knoblauch, Booklist

Say goodbye to take-away and frozen dinners; homemade meals are easy with Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two. These recipes prove that cooking on a small scale can be fun and easy, not to mention imaginative and exciting, addressing the needs of singles and couples who want to take advantage of the convenience of this very popular appliance.

Computers & Internet / Business & Investing / Economic Policy / Communication

Information Communication Technologies and Human Development: Opportunities and Challenges edited by Mila Gascó-Hernandez, Fran Equiza-López, Manuel Acevedo-Ruiz (Idea Group Publishing)

Many … seem to believe that the very existence of technology will create the conditions for equitable hu­man development. They hold fast to this belief even in the face of accumulating evidence demonstrating that the presence of information and communication technologies is not a sufficient condition to make a difference in poverty reduction. As we said in our 1998 Knowledge Societies report prepared for the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development, "assembling the tools is only part of the task." We also need to assemble human capabilities that enable people to decide for themselves how they wish to take advantage of these technologies. – Robin Mansell, Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science, from the Foreword

Technology has always played a decisive role in humanity’s progress, although the positive impacts technology has on human development may become tainted by the risks it entails. Information Communication Technologies and Human Development focuses on the need to consider the geographic, historic, and cultural context of an information communication technology (ICT) for development initiative.

Edited by Mila Gascó, senior analyst at the International Institute on Governance of Catalonia and associate professor at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya; Fran Equiza, Director of International Cooperation of Intermón-Oxfam, Spain; and Manuel Acevedo, independent consultant, Information Communication Technologies and Human Development provides numerous examples of why it is crucial to shift the focus from technology to information and even to communication itself. The reasons for the unsustainability of ICT investment time are attributable to problems of communication, to organizational issues and poor coordination, and to a lack of financial resources as well as to failures to enable local ownership of ICT-related projects. The contributors to the book advocate the improved mainstreaming of ICT strategies within poverty-reduction programs, but they caution that mainstreaming will not improve the dividends associated with ICTs unless lessons about the innovation process and effective, practical application are heeded.

The first section of Information Communication Technologies and Human Development is organized around the many facets of ‘digital divides.’ Cecchini and Rezaian argue that the keys to the success of ICT projects for development are ‘soft’ issues such as local ownership and participation of the community, implementation by grassroots-based intermediaries that have the appropriate incentives to work with marginalized groups, and provision of access to locally contextualized information and pro-poor services. Morolong and Lekoko emphasize the need to value local knowledge and to resist ‘expert-led ICTs.’ In the case of a tele-center initiative in Indonesia, Robinson emphasizes that the involve­ment of local partners must amount to more than a facade constructed to match the rhetoric of participation.

The second section of Information Communication Technologies and Human Development is concerned with lessons that might be drawn for future action. The huge potential of micro-credit and microfinance schemes is discussed by Amin with the caution that such initiatives remain in their infancy 30 years after they were first introduced. Lannon and Halpin show that the use of the Internet in support of the human rights movement is growing through the use of e-mail and blogs, but that informa­tion-management skills and respect of confidentiality and privacy are crucial. And in the health sector, Ibrahim, Bellows, Bhandari, and Sandhu argue that efforts to integrate ICTs must "approach the process holistically, addressing human factors, with respect to organizations, cultural context, and end users." Raghavendra and Sahay make the same point with respect to ICT support in the health sector in India in Andra Pradesh, a state that has considerable experience with promoting ICTs for development, but still experiences many failures. Much can be learned from systematic research on the experiences of others, but as Burtseva, Cojocaru, Gaindric, Magariu, and Verlan state, "One should not automatically transfer the methods of the solution of the digital-divide problem from one country to another." Borge's work on a model for understanding how ICTs might be used to support various forms of political communication shows the large number of interdependent variables that influence choices about ICT implementations.

Information Communication Technologies and Human Development is a tool for practitioners, providing a wide knowledge of several important ICTs for development experiences that have been conducted all over the developing world. The book compiles international experiences from which to draw lessons that can be used by those interested in how ICT can make a difference in human development. With the follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society creating renewed expectations for real change, the book becomes essential reading for all those involved in making choices about how best to deploy ICTs.

Education / Professional & Technical / Reference

The New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives by Robert J. Marzano & John S. Kendall (Corwin Press)

A potent tool for designing educational objectives, developing assessments, making state standards more useful to teachers and students, designing curriculum, and formulating a thinking skills curriculum. – Carol Ann Tomlinson, Professor of Educational Leadership, Foundations & Policy, University of Virginia

The New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives is an updated guide to the nature of knowledge – The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (Bloom, Engelhart, Furst, Hill, & Krathwohl, 1956), aka ‘Bloom’s Taxonomy’, was published a half century ago. Since that time a number of attempts have been made to revise Bloom's Taxonomy so that it incorporates modern advances in the understanding of human thought and the structure of knowledge. The New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives represents such an update, and authors Robert J. Marzano and John S. Kendall, internationally recognized experts in the development and improvement of standards for education, argue that as a practical tool for educators it is superior to all other attempts to date. The New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives is the progeny of an earlier version titled Designing a New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives published in 2001. As the title of that volume indicates, it was presented as a ‘work in progress’ – "Though it has used the best available information regarding the nature of knowledge and the manner in which the human mind processes information, the New Taxonomy as described in the book will surely be revised over time". Since its publication, that work has been used and field tested in a wide variety of venues with a wide variety of audiences. This work, The New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, now is presented as a ‘work completed.’

Developed by Marzano, president of Marzano & Associates, senior scholar at Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL), and associate professor at Cardinal Stritch University and Kendall, senior director in research at McREL, this field-tested and proven reference contains the most current research on the nature of knowledge and cognition and a reflection of the movement to standards-based education. The book is based on three domains of knowledge: information, mental procedures, and psychomotor procedures; and six levels of processing: retrieval, comprehension, analysis, knowledge utilization, metacognition, and self-system thinking.

The New Taxonomy bears many similarities to the framework presented in 2001. However, it has a number of notewor­thy departures. One is that it addresses its differences with and advantages over the Anderson et al. revision of Bloom's Taxonomy as a practical tool for educators. Another is that it more explicitly explains specific applications of the New Taxonomy: (1) as a framework for designing and classifying educational objectives, (2) as a framework for designing assessments, (3) as a tool for making state standards more useful to educators, (4) as a structure for designing curriculum, and (5) as the basis for a thinking skills curriculum.

Marzano and Kendall haven't simply revised Bloom's Taxonomy. They have forged a thoroughly researched groundwork for numerous educational uses. – Gregg E. Humphrey, Director of Elementary Education, Middlebury College, VT

Provides educators with a crisp, new lens to re-examine thinking and learning. Motivation and metacognition, two critical components, are now strategically and meaningfully integrated in a new taxonomy. This revised hierarchy takes us beyond Bloom toward a better understanding of educational theory and practice. – Virginia Cotsis, Secondary Curriculum Specialist, Ventura County Office of Education, Camarillo, CA
Educational leaders wishing to infuse greater complexity, rigor and substance into the curriculum will immerse themselves in The New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. The benefactors will be teachers who will reach beyond their current achievements and students who will develop the intellectual prowess required to master the intricacies, dichotomies, and ambiguities of life in the 21st and 22nd centuries. – Arthur L. Costa, Professor Emeritus, California State University, Sacramento
Useful not only for teachers in addressing objectives, standards, and classroom assessment, but also for other educators as they formulate objectives, develop strategies, and determine the knowledge necessary to improve the educational system in general. – Carolyn J. Wood, Professor of Educational Leadership, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque

Marzano's The New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives – the most current and comprehensive guide in 50 years to define the new standard for education – offers the field of education a well researched, well developed theory of curriculum design and assessment. Here is practical model that becomes a powerful tool for educators; it will enhance the effectiveness of teaching and deepen the learning of students. Without a doubt, this is a must-have resource for all educators, educational researchers, directors of curriculum and instruction, directors of staff development, principals, teachers, and course developers. – Anna Washington, MAT, MEd, SirReadaLot.org

Health, Mind & Body / Psychology & Counseling / Self-help / Relationships

A Secret Sadness: The Hidden Relationship Patterns That Make Women Depressed by Valerie E. Whiffen (New Harbinger Publications, Inc.)

Women experience depression at a higher rate than men. One in four women will experience at least one episode of depression in her lifetime; some women experience many episodes. And researchers have recently uncovered evidence that suggests this may be due to the higher importance they place on their interpersonal relationships. Some of these researchers believe that women who struggle with relationships may be at higher risk for depression because their relationships with their spouses, children, families of origin, and community are intertwined with their self-esteem and perception of personal success. A Secret Sadness examines the often hidden relationship factors that make women depressed, offering a new perspective on this phenomenon, as well as tools readers can use to explore the issue.

Using three detailed case studies from her own practice as well as a review of the literature, author Valerie Whiffen, psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Ottawa, shows readers how interpersonal problems can contribute to depression and how working through these underlying issues can help them heal.

Readers learn how to explore their own relationships with intimate partners, children, and parents – with an eye for how these relationships may contribute to feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and anxiety. Or if depression has touched the life of someone they love, A Secret Sadness will help readers understand her better.

Whiffen explores what it is about the lives of girls and women that puts them at risk for depression. She brings together the research on gender roles and the research on depression to show why women become depressed and what they can do about it.

According to Whiffen relationships in our first families shape our beliefs and expectations for later close relationships, most importantly with romantic partners but also with close friends and children. What we learn about ourselves and about loving in our first families is generalized to these later relationships. Often we are unaware of what we have learned. A best friend may be able to see the patterns over the years, and the people we interact with certainly feel their effects, but we are blind. The goal of A Secret Sadness is to help readers see the hidden relationship patterns that may be making or keeping them depressed.

According to Whiffen, women need professional help to stop feel­ing depressed; however, they can read the book as a self-help book. The end of each chapter provides a set of questions for readers to ask themselves to apply the chapter material to their own experience. Whiffen also suggests keeping a journal where readers can write down their answers to the questions and other thoughts they have.

Whiffen's fine introduction to depression places the disease in the context of women's interpersonal relationships, simply and methodically underscoring the correlation between a woman's formative connections with her parents, her romantic relationships as an adult and her emotional well-being and sense of self. … She examines various stages of development to illuminate how parenting styles and early life attachments affect a child's ability to cope with stress or conflict in intimate relationships later in life. Throughout, Whiffen enhances the accessible, instructive text with the stories of three of her patients. The volume includes thought-provoking, workbook-like questions at the end of each chapter for readers to consider their own behavior and feelings. Whiffen encourages women suffering from depression to undergo therapy, and information about treatment options, with a brief mention of antidepressants, rounds out the book. Readers are left with an encouraging mantra: "Remember that our lives don't change; we change our lives." – Publishers Weekly

A Secret Sadness is a groundbreaking, breakthrough book examining the often hidden relationship factors that make women depressed. The book specifically examines the causes of women's depression from the perspective of their close relationships. Readers will ultimately be able to apply this information through the practical tools provided in the book.

Health, Mind & Body / Psychology & Counseling / Sociology / Popular Culture

A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Today by Peter Wood (Encounter Books)

Why is America losing its cool?

How can we put the rage back in the cage?

America has gotten into ugly moods before, but never as today.

Anger is chic. Anger is empowering. Anger shows self-confidence. This is the new emotional terrain in America, in which anger has actually achieved prestige and a unique kind of celebrity. Peter Wood, provost and professor of anthropology and humanities at The King's College in New York, reveals in A Bee in the Mouth a profound shift in the American psyche. Wood explains how Americans traded their older habits of civility and emotional restraint for the thrill and instant gratification of anger and outrage.

In taking readers on a guided tour of American acrimony, Wood traces the roots of anger's triumph in the social and political world. He examines the liberating bromides of psychotherapists, the bellicosity of the war between the sexes, the broadsides of the ethnic separatists, and the jeremiads of fundamentalists of all stripes.

A Bee in the Mouth is a serious but witty look at the rise of what Wood calls the ‘angri-culture,’ which "feeds on conflict and rewards those who can best play the role of gladiators – those who, like the professional weepers at funerals, play the role just far enough."

"Some scholars argue that the angry ‘cultural war’ of recent years (‘red states’ vs. ‘blue states’; NASCAR fans vs. Volvo drivers; Sunday-morning-go-to-church vs. Friday night at the vegan Dean rally) is just an illusion," but Wood disagrees. He points out that there is a new kind of anger in America today that is not only excessive but glorified. The ‘You wanna piece of me?’ approach to the slightest indifference is too readily used in today's society.

The anger in America now, which Wood calls ‘New Anger,’ differs from earlier epochs – people now seem proud of their anger. In A Bee in the Mouth, Wood demonstrates how anger has become a badge of authenticity. However angry our ancestors may have been in decades past – they didn't high-five one another for public meltdowns like we do today.

‘New Anger’ is everywhere, from talk show takedowns to enraged athletes, from anger-anthem music to vein-popping tirades. Today, we have ‘grrrl power,’ designed to teach preteens the importance of cultivating their inner Fury, and Internet blogs that, like Old Faithful, burst with scalding steam on the hour.

In A Bee in the Mouth, Wood highlights the more striking side of ‘New Anger’ – the political side, and how it divides into two very different emotional styles:

  • The Political Left: "The emotional center of the left's anger is an unbridled fury at having been dispossessed of a birthright. The left generally cannot conceive that its opponents are intelligent or possess well-reasoned arguments, and losing to an inferior is a bitter thing. This form of anger combines righteous indignation with utter contempt for the adversary."
  • The Political Right: "Meanwhile on the right, a very different set of irritations have produced a different kind of anger. Conservatives have achieved a measure of political power, but they continue to feel their marginalization by the arbiters of culture. When they turn to TV news or Hollywood movies, they find their views ignored or derided. In college classrooms, they are often caricatured as racist, sexist, environment-despoiling, militaristic jerks. Intellectually serious conservative arguments are airbrushed out of the New York Times."

Wood says the title, A Bee in the Mouth, describes the stinging language coming from all sectors of society today. "We are forced to live in a culture in which many of the people around us act out their sense of entitled rage; their believe that they cannot be authentically themselves unless they feel their anger and give it voice; and their idea that their vision of the world can be brought to pass by sheer assertion of wrath," writes Wood. He concludes the book by showing readers the sane way back to the shores of self-control.

These days, anger seems to be the first emotion people tap into when confronted with an inconvenience, a challenge, problem, or misunderstanding. Peter Wood, through fascinating real-life anecdotes, shows us the dangers of unrestrained anger and the blessing of mastering yourself. – Dr. Laura Schlessinger, internationally syndicated radio talk-show host and author of The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands

In this terrific book, Peter Wood helps us confront the most distressing feature of U.S. public life today: the triumph of vitriol. Whether it's Ann Coulter shouting ‘Treason!’ or Al Franken shouting ‘Liar,’ serious discussion today is steadily giving way to angry poses and accusatory barking. Why? Who started it? How can we understand it? Can anything be done about it? Peter Wood is a gentle man, a gifted anthropologist who has a lot to tell us about the anger in our midst. For everyone's sake, and for the sake of our country, we should listen. – David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values and author of The Future of Marriage

Renowned scholar Wood provocatively and humorously exposes a disturbing trend in American culture. A Bee in the Mouth is a fascinating look into America's new emotional maelstrom, where work, politics, music, sports, therapists, the media, families, and friends are drowned out in the roar of egocentric rage.

Health, Mind & Body / Social Sciences / Parenting & Families

The Hidden Life of Girls: Games of Stance, Status, and Exclusion (Blackwell Studies in Discourse and Culture) by Marjorie Harness Goodwin (Blackwell Publishing)

On countless playgrounds each day girls are at work crafting intricate social organizations through language and embodied action.

In the ethnography The Hidden Life of Girls, the voices of girls from a range of ethnicities and social classes show that rather than avoiding conflict, girls actively seek it out. The volume, written by Marjorie Harness Goodwin, Professor of Anthropology at UCLA, offers a challenge to the notion that girls are inherently supportive of each other. The moral universe that girls create, and in which they hold their peers (including boys) accountable, contradicts stereotypes that have dominated much work on female moral development. Goodwin examines the stances that girls on a playground in a multicultural school setting assume and shows how they position themselves in their peer groups and evaluate the relative status of others. The Hidden Life of Girls documents the language practices and degradation rituals used not only to sanction friends who violate social norms, but also to bully younger girls and those constructed as social deviants.

Goodwin reports that ever since her first fieldwork experience in a Philadelphia neighborhood among a peer group of working class African American girls in the early 1970s, she has been struck by the creativity with which girls use language to create their local social organization and police the moral order of their group. Among the girls she studied, a gossip event, called the ‘he-said-she-said’, constitutes a major political event through which preadolescent girls demonstrate their willingness to display their character; within he-said-she-said disputes, girls take action against those they construct as their offenders (parties who talk about them behind their backs). The girls' social organization consists largely of shifting coalitions of triads, rather than hierarchical structures, as occur among`the boys, and gossip can be used to rearrange the social organization of the moment. Girls display intense engrossment in formulating warrants and demonstrations for their positions and exhibit determination in the pursuit of their point of view. In fact, gossip events provide an exemplar of female verbal virtuosity in orchestrating political activity.

Girls' ability to build a social and moral universe in which they hold one another accountable to an abstract set of rules demonstrates their social competence. Moreover, this ability contradicts many of the stereotypes that have recently dominated research on female moral development in psychology. Over the past 35 years she has been deeply concerned with images of girls in the social science literature and with the methodologies used to study them. The notion of boys as more assertive and girls as nurturing is often taken as a given.

The discussion of same-sex relationships in The Hidden Life of Girls also challenges forms of binary thinking about gendered language behavior. In The Hidden Life of Girls by exploring relations of power in female groups Goodwin calls into question the notion that terms such as ‘prosocial,’ ‘cooperative,’ or polite, provide adequate descriptors for female interaction. Examining how a clique of elementary school girls organize play activities such as jump rope or dramatic play, we find that girls use directives to construct hierarchically organized and socially exclusive, social relations in same-sex as well as in cross-sex interaction.

The Hidden Life of Girls documents actual events in the lives of girls' friendship groups on the playground, a setting where children interact with peers on their own terms, outside of adult supervision. Previous studies of forms of children's aggression have primarily relied on questionnaires, self-reports, or diaries, and have paid minimal attention to embodied language practices, absolutely critical for understanding the ways that children structure their social relations. In the book, making use of video recordings of the mundane encounters that constitute girls' actual lives, Goodwin provides an ethnographic account of how embodied language is used to build girls' social organization. By following a particular group over a three-year period, she describes in detail the lived embodied practices through which forms of social inclusion and exclusion in a girls' peer group are achieved over time. Often this entails using symbols in talk to index one's membership in the upper middle class, a process that simultaneously makes visible the exclusion of those who lack access to these symbols.

This fascinating and important book gives us a rarely seen inside perspective on the dynamics of girls' social negotiation, contestation, and hierarchy. Critically addressing key misrepresentations and omissions of children's life-worlds in previous scholarship, Goodwin provides a much-needed counterpoint to that research and puts girls' experiences squarely at the center of her analysis. – Mary Bucholtz, University of California, Santa Barbara

As she did with He-Said-She-Said, in this book Goodwin sets a new standard for the ethnographic study of social interaction. As the title suggests, standard techniques of the social sciences leave much of girls' social life hidden from view and insulated from analysis. Goodwin's book offers an important corrective – through a focus on the actual practices of talk and embodied conduct, Goodwin shows how in constructing the hierarchies, divisions, and exclusions constitutive of their social groups, these girls define their own moral order. – Jack Sidnell, University of Toronto

The Hidden Life of Girls brings into question much of what has previously been done, taking readers beyond binary thinking. Understanding at close range the games of stance, status, and exclusion that animate the hidden lives of girls allows readers to rethink what girls are made of as social, cognitive, and moral actors. This groundbreaking volume will not only provide readers with a better picture of children's worlds but also will help guide policy and intervention strategies in schools.

History / Americas / Biographies & Memoirs

The General and Mrs. Washington: The Untold Story of a Marriage and a Revolution by Bruce Chadwick (Sourcebooks, Inc.)

Until now the story of the American Revolution has been incomplete. Many have told the stories of blood and battle, of heroes and traitors, but no one has told the tale of the union that helped form the Union. But the history of America's First Family is inexorably tied to the workings of the revolution. Martha's son Jackie (she had four children and George had none) was 28 when he died at Yorktown. George's own life would have been lost on multiple occasions if not for Martha.

The General and Mrs. Washington is the story of the fateful marriage of the richest woman in Virginia and the man who could have been king. In telling their story, Bruce Chadwick, former journalist, lecturer in American history at Rutgers University and writing teacher at New Jersey City University, explains not only their remarkable devotion to each other, but also why the wealthiest couple in Virginia became revolutionaries who risked the loss of not only their vast estates, but also their lives.

According to The General and Mrs. Washington, it was a lovely March afternoon in 1758 when the dashing, six-foot-three colonel decided to visit the home of an old friend who also had another visitor. She was barely five feet tall, twenty-seven years old and the richest widow in all of Virginia. Others were there. But the colonel and the widow only wanted to converse with each other. And they did – throughout the afternoon and the evening. And when the guests awakened the next morning, they found them still talking.

So began a romance between George Washington and Martha Custis, a warm, compassionate and above all charming woman, that would last their lifetime. Though George never had children of his own, he was a loving parent to Martha's daughter, an epileptic, and her son.

The General and Mrs. Washington evokes how Martha came to the aid of her husband and her fellow countrymen during the bitter winter months of the Revolution. Even in the harshest weather, when her husband and his army were ensconced in Valley Forge or Morristown, Martha would ride hundreds of miles from her home in Virginia to be with him and bring good cheer to his officers and soldiers. Often without food or enough clothes to keep them warm, they would never forget her and the candlelight of hope that emanated from her. The revolutionaries would come to see Martha not only as a kindred spirit, but as a beloved heroine.

Chadwick's brisk narrative comes as close as we are likely to get to an understanding of the Washington union... A deft portrait of the Washington team, building a life together and, eventually, a new nation. – Krikus Reviews

Just when you thought you knew the story of America's founding. along comes Bruce Chadwick with this remarkable new way of seeing the American Revolution. It's a love story between two iconic Americans: George and Martha Washington. This book reminds us that their partnership helped make us who we are today. – Terry Gohvay, author of Washington’s General and Let Every Nation Know

One of George Washington's secret weapons in his rise to power and immortali­ty was the extraordinary woman he married. The story of the half-century-long married love affair of George and Martha Washington is truly inspiring. Bruce Chadwick vividly brings to life a time of turmoil and hope in a book that should endure as a fine example of historical journalism. – Willard Sterne Randall, author of George Washington: A Life

Using surviving letters to and from other relatives and friends, as well as diaries, orders to merchants and descriptions by their contemporaries, Chadwick takes his readers through the story of a forty-year marriage, from the courtship of the heroic frontier colonel and the young widow, through the sudden death of George Washington and the last, painfully sad, years of Martha Washington's life. – Mary V. Thompson, research specialist, Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens

Enhances our understanding of the nation's first first couple, but it does even more. It is a fine work of social history, providing keen insights into how people lived, worked and amused themselves in eighteenth-century America. This is a book with value both for history buffs and serious students of early American history. – John Ferling, author of Setting the World Ablaze and A Leap in the Dark

The General and Mrs. Washington is the heartwarming, never-before-told story of the marriage of George and Martha Washington. Their union makes historians unhappy for one practical reason – Martha destroyed the marital correspondence. Although some of what he has written may be fanciful, Chadwick does makes readers aware of cultural contexts, such as the legal and social limits on women's public activity and the derivation of the couple's wealth from slavery. Readers interested in private lives will enjoy Chadwick's able synthesis.

History / Americas / Law / Biographies & Memoirs

The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America by Jeffrey Rosen (Times Books)

The Supreme Court is the most mysterious branch of government, and yet the Court is at root a human institution, made up of very bright people with strong egos, for whom political and judicial conflicts often become personal.

In this work of character-driven history, Supreme Court expert Jeffrey Rosen recounts the history of the Court through the personal and philosophical rivalries on the bench that transformed the law – and by extension, our lives. In The Supreme Court, Rosen shows that the temperament a justice brings to the bench can have as much influence on the Court's rulings as any elaborate legal ideology, focusing on the clashes of eight larger-than-life personalities who dominated the Court, influenced its rulings and set many of the precedents and traditions the Court continues to follow today.

The book begins with the great Chief Justice John Marshall and President Thomas Jefferson, cousins from the Virginia elite, whose differing visions of America set the tone for the Court’s first hundred years. The tale continues after the Civil War with Justices John Marshall Harlan and Oliver Wendell Holmes, who clashed over the limits of majority rule. Rosen, professor of law at George Washington University and legal affairs editor of The New Republic, then examines the Warren Court era through the lens of the liberal icons Hugo Black and William O. Douglas, for whom personality loomed larger than ideology. The final pairing comes from our own era, the conservatives William H. Rehnquist and Antonin Scalia, only one of whom was able to build majorities in support of his views.

Rosen concludes The Supreme Court with an assessment of how these issues of temperament manifest themselves on the current Supreme Court, and draws on a revealing interview with Chief Justice John Roberts that explores how he is attempting to change the Court in significant and unexpected ways.

… Most of the book consists of anecdotes about these eight judges, along with summaries of their most celebrated decisions and brief but perceptive explanations of their judicial philosophies. All this is entertaining, although it dilutes the book's stated focus on judicial temperament. Considering today's Court, Rosen believes Chief Justice Roberts will display a successful talent for consensus-building. As Rosen is well aware, a lot rides on the accuracy of this prediction. – Publishers Weekly

Jeffrey Rosen combines the spellbinding talents of a master storyteller, the astute eye and ear of a master journalist, and the penetrating insights of a scholar steeped in the law and politics of his subject. Rare is the book I'd call a must-read for every Supreme Court justice and every president and senator faced with the awesome tasks of nominating or confirming one – as well as for every citizen who cares about what's at stake. This is just such a book. – Laurence Tribe

It was all very well for John Adams to say that the great political goal is ‘a government of laws and not of men.’ But government, emphatically including the judicial branch, is men and women. In this lively, nuanced history Jeffrey Rosen, one of America's most acute writers on constitutional law, shows how clashes of large per­sonalities have shaped conflicts about important principles. – George F. Will

Jeffery Rosen has written a superb and accessible history of the Supreme Court and, in doing so, has given readers an opportunity to understand both the past and the present importance of the institution. – Alan Brinkley

Jeffrey Rosen, one of our most astute observers of the Supreme Court, understands that personalities can play a critical role in deciding American law. His arresting new book focuses on some of the most dramatic and consequential chapters in American legal history, depicting them as deeply human events in which tem­perament as well as legal philosophy came to the fore. – Sean Wilentz

The Supreme Court compellingly brings to life the perennial conflict that has animated the Court – between those justices guided by strong ideology and those who forge coalitions and adjust to new realities. Rosen illuminates the relationship between judicial temperament and judicial success or failure in this remarkable book.

History / Americas / Military / World War II / Aviation / African-American

332nd Fighter Group – Tuskegee Airmen by Chris Bucholtz, illustrated by Jim Laurier (Aviation Elite Units Series: Osprey Publishing)

In March of 1945, the 332nd Fighter Group (FG) earned a Presidential Unit Citation for its outstanding actions during the 1600-mile mission to Berlin. This was the longest round trip made by the Fifteenth Air Force in World War II, and it saw the 332nd's pilots airborne for eight and a half hours. During the mission, the group's escort relief failed to rendezvous on time, and while putting in ‘overtime’, its pilots shot down three Me 262 jet fighters. The final one was dispatched by 1Lt Roscoe Brown of the 100th FS, who was flying P-51D-15 44-15569 Bunnie.

The US Army and Air Force's Tuskegee Experiment, designed to prove that African-Americans were not capable of flying combat aircraft, resulted in the creation of one of the USAAF's elite units. Commanded by Col Benjamin O. Davis, the 332nd was able to boast 111 aerial kills, 150 strafing victories and even the sinking of a German naval vessel by the war's end. The group were both feared and respected by the Germans, and revered by others because they never lost a bomber under escort to enemy air attack – a feat unmatched by any other fighter group in World War II. Written by aircraft history writer Chris Bucholtz, aircraft editor of Internet Modeler, 332nd Fighter Group – Tuskegee Airmen reveals the true story of the unit who rose above discrimination to achieve elite status.

The story of how the unit came into existence is one for the history books. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, America saw itself as a bastion of freedom and equality, especially in light of the horrors that fascism and totalitarianism were visiting upon Asia and Europe at the time. World War II pitted the USA against natural opponents – the militaristic Japanese Empire and despotic Nazi Germany. To most American citizens, the war represented a natural conflict between their virtuous way of life and the immorality of their Axis foes.

To the African-American community, however, the notion that World War II marked the start of a struggle against violence, discrimination and racial inequity was patently absurd. For many of them, this struggle already defined their lives. Pre-war America was a divided nation, with blacks and whites living in two parallel societies. In the southeast US, segregation was a way of life, with blacks attending separate schools, using different restrooms and eating in different restaurants from whites. In most situations, the facilities for blacks were inferior to those for whites. These artificial boundaries were enforced by a social structure that all but endorsed violence against those who would seek to transcend it. According to 332nd Fighter Group – Tuskegee Airmen, in the northeast and west, these formalized structures did not exist, but discrimination was present in a more random, but equally virulent, form.

In the 1930s, the US Army's treatment of blacks reflected the behavior of society in general. While black Americans had served in combat, and all-black units had distinguished themselves during the American Civil War, the wars against the Plains Indians, the Spanish-American War and in World War I, most blacks in uniform were part of ‘service units’, performing menial labor and maintenance roles.

Racist attitudes permeated the military from the top down; for example, Secretary of War Henry Stimson stated that “leadership is not embedded in the Negro race”. Even so, these views did not keep black Americans from aspiring to fly and fight.

In May 1939, as The Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP), was gearing up, barnstormers Chauncey E. Spencer and Dale L. White embarked on a Chicago-to-Washington, D.C. flight to promote aviation for black Americans. Upon their arrival in the capital, they conducted a meeting with a little-known senator named Harry S. Truman. Truman was especially impressed when he saw Spencer and White's beaten-up biplane, and according to a contemporary account in the Chicago Weekly Defender, he stated “If you guys had guts enough to fly that thing from Chicago, I got guts enough to do all I can to help you”.

A short time later, Congress authorized funds for the extension of the CPTP to several predominantly black universities, and for the training of black students at white colleges. The program was instituted at Howard University, Hampton Institute, North Carolina A&T, West Virginia State and Delaware State. In all, 2700 black pilots would graduate from the CPTP. At the end of its first year, 91 per cent of the black students that enrolled in the course successfully completed the program – the same rate attained by white students. In October 1939, Tuskegee Institute (a black university in Alabama) was added to the program.

According to 332nd Fighter Group – Tuskegee Airmen, although virtually all of the military establishment and most of the civilian leadership still fought to keep black Americans in secondary roles, President Roosevelt, enmeshed in an election and eager to court black voters, issued a policy statement in October 1940 that officially mandated that black Americans would serve in numbers proportionate to their representation in the US population in combat and non-combat roles alike. While the Navy all but ignored these policies, the Army took some halting steps, including the promotion of Benjamin O. Davis Snr to brigadier general, making him the first black American to hold flag rank. In December 1940, the Army Air Corps submitted a plan to create an all-black pursuit squadron, and the units required to support it.

In July of 1941, 11 cadets and one black Army officer were inducted into military aviation training as Class 42-C at Tuskegee. That one officer was Capt Benjamin 0. Davis Jnr, the son of Brig Gen Davis Snr. These two men were the only black non-chaplain officers in the entire Army at the time. As pilots graduated, they joined an increasing number of personnel stationed at the base. The number of enlisted men trained to service the aircraft and support the units was also steadily increasing, with the 96th Service Group, 83rd Fighter Control Squadron and the 689th Signal Warning Company also sharing the base with the 332nd FG. By mid-1942, almost 220 officers and 3000 enlisted men were packed into TAAF.

Tuskegee would remain in operation throughout the war, graduating 1030 pilots by the time of its closure in 1949. Many of these men were assigned to the 477th Medium Bombardment Group, which was an all-black B-25 unit that was so badly mishandled by the Army Air Force that it never made it into combat. A further 40 pilots from TAAF were sent to the Pacific, where they flew light aircraft as artillery spotters.

For the rest of the ‘Tuskegee Airmen’, their future was in fighters. In late 1942, the men of the 99th FS occupied themselves by conducting routine training flights, and speculating on why it was taking so long for them to be deployed to a combat theatre. For nine long months the unit languished at TAAF, and while the pilots were restless, this time ‘later paid very great dividends’, said Capt Benjamin Davis. During this period of combat inactivity “we became a squadron. The 99th had a very great advantage from September 1942 until April 1943, when it left Tuskegee. It was an active unit with no personal turbulence. The people got to know each other”.

In April 1943, the 99th received its orders to head overseas. The squadron embarked on the troop ship Mariposa and slipped through the harbor fog. Through some coincidence, now-Lt Col Davis and his staff found themselves as the senior officers aboard the vessel, putting them in charge of the mixed-race complement of soldiers embarked in Mariposa. Lt Col Davis' father had been the first black man in history to command white officers and men of the US Army, and during the 99th's crossing, his son became the second.

“It was apparent, not only to me, but to the people in the 99th, that they held the future of blacks in the Army Air Corps in their hands”, Davis said later. “This was something that everyone in the 99th understood as early as the autumn of 1942 – that their performance would create the future environment for blacks”.

After the war, as told in 332nd Fighter Group – Tuskegee Airmen, when the 332nd FG was disbanded and its personnel transferred to various commands within the Air Force, for many, leaving an all-black unit was disappointing or frightening, but Col Davis was convinced that desegregation was the only way to cement the progress his units had made. “I told them that when you join those units, you're going to outshine them”, he said. “That's exactly the way it turned out. They were far in advance of their contemporaries in the white units. They had the combat experience, they had the flying background and they had the knowledge. What more is there?”

Chapters of 332nd Fighter Group – Tuskegee Airmen include:

  1. Tuskegee
  2. The Fighting 99th
  3. Airacobras and Thunderbolts
  4. Enter the Mustang
  5. On The Deck and Above the Clouds
  6. The Toughest Month
  7. Tightening the Noose
  8. Grinding Down the Reich
  9. Jets and Jubilation
  10. Lockbourne and the End

The Aviation Elite Unites Series documents the combat histories of the world's most renowned fighter and bomber units, and the 24th volume in the series: 332nd Fighter Group – Tuskegee Airmen, documents the all-Black unit which overcame racial discrimination to set a precedent of outstanding military service. The abundant color and black-and-white photographs of men and airplanes bring the stories to life.

History / Americas / Politics / International

America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It by Mark Steyn (Regnery Publishing, Inc.)

Someday soon, readers might wake up to the call to prayer from a muezzin.

Europeans already are.

Mark Steyn describes Old Europe, with an aging population and mass immigration of radical Muslims, as an incubator for jihad and anti-American terrorists. He also discusses how close those great Western cultures are to total collapse.

Steyn warns of a new Dark Age, a culture blighted by Islamic terrorists, afflicted by feeble politicians, and crippled by multiculturalism. In this, his first major book, Steyn, the well known and widely read, conservative columnist, takes on the anti-Americanism that fuels both Old Europe and radical Islam. America, Steyn argues in America Alone, will have to stand alone. The world will be divided between America and the rest; and America had better win.

According to Steyn, Talibanic enforcers may soon cruise Greenwich Village burning books and barber shops as the Supreme Court decides sharia law doesn’t violate the ‘separation of church and state.’ Steyn, whose columns appear in the Atlantic Monthly, The Australian, the Chicago Sun-Times, the New York Sun, the Washington Times, the Orange County Register, the National Review, and the New Criterion, among others, says that the future belongs to the fecund and the confident. And the Islamists are both, while the West – wedded to a multiculturalism that undercuts its own confidence, a welfare state that nudges it toward sloth and self-indulgence, and a childlessness that consigns it to oblivion – is looking ever more like the ruins of a civilization.

Europe, laments Steyn in America Alone, is almost certainly a goner. The future, if the West has one, belongs to America alone – with maybe its cousins in Australia. But America can survive, prosper, and defend its freedom only if it continues to believe in itself, in the sturdier virtues of self-reliance (not government), in the centrality of family, and in the conviction that our country really is the world’s last best hope. Steyn argues in contrast to the liberal cultural relativists, America should proclaim the obvious: America does have a better government, religion, and culture, and Americans should spread their influence around the world – for their own sake as well as the world’s.

Mark Steyn is a human sandblaster. His new book provides a powerful, abrasive, high-velocity assault on encrusted layers of sugarcoating and whitewash over the threat of Islamic imperialism. Do we in the West have the will to prevail? Steyn strips away intellectual rust and PC rot to uncover the writing on the wall.… – Michelle Malkin, New York Times bestselling author of Unhinged

Mark Steyn is the funniest writer now living. But don't be distracted by the bril­liance of his jokes. They are the neon lights advertising a profound and sad insight: America is almost alone in resisting both the suicide of the West and the suicide bombing of radical Islamism. Our best chance of survival is that Mr. Steyn has done our thinking for us – and made it entertaining. Laugh? I thought I’d die. – John O'Sullivan, editor at large, National Review, and author of The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister

Mark Steyn is the world's sharpest and wittiest observer of Islamist fascism, and America Alone is as funny as it is deadly serious, as uncompromising as the truth always is, and as timely as news of the latest terror attack…. – Hugh Hewitt, national radio talk-show host: and author most recently of Painting the Map Red

If Western Civilization ends not with a bang but a whimper, the fault will not be Mark Steyn's. In America Alone Steyn's acerbic wit and relentless pursuit of polit­ically incorrect truths show how Islam is gradually conquering the West by reverse assimilation, aided and abetted by global-warming ecochondriacs, craven multi-culturalists, and self-detonating Islamists of the Muslim baby boom. In 2525, as some Eurabian scholar throws the last copy of this book into the fire, he will think to himself, It would have been much different if they had listened. – Jed Babbin, author of Inside the Asylum and co-author of Showdown

The provocative Steyn’s America Alone is laugh-out-loud funny – but it will also change the way many readers look at the world. And it may well be the most talked-about book of the year.

History / World / Europe

Paris: The Secret History by Andrew Hussey (Bloomsbury)

In its long and vast literary history, Paris has been variously represented as a prison, a paradise and a vision of hell. It has also been characterized as a beautiful woman, a sorceress and a demon. – Andrew Hussey

If Adam Gopnik’s Paris to the Moon described daily life in contemporary Paris, Paris describes daily life in Paris throughout its history: a history of the city from the point of view of the Parisians themselves. Paris captures everyone’s imaginations: it’s a backdrop for Proust’s fictional pederast, Robert Doisneau’s photographic kiss, and Edith Piaf’s serenaded soldier-lovers; a home as much to romance and love poems as to prostitution and opium dens. The many pieces of the city coexist, each one as real as the next. What’s more, the conflicted identity of the city is visible everywhere – between cobblestones, in bars, on the métro.

In this extraordinary account of two thousand years of the Parisian counterculture, Andrew Hussey reveals the story of the City of Light from the point of view of the Parisians themselves: the working classes and the criminals, the existentialists and insurrectionists, the street urchins and artists, the propagandists and prostitutes. Paris  ranges across centuries and through wars, revolution, starvation, and terror just as it celebrates the art, beauty, romance, and literature that have made Paris the world's most beloved city.

Hussey brings to life the urchins and artists who’ve left their marks on the city, filling in the gaps of a history that affected the disenfranchised as much as the nobility. Paris ranges across centuries, movements, and cultural and political beliefs, from Napoleon’s overcrowded cemeteries to Balzac’s nocturnal flight from his debts. For cultural historian and biographer Hussey, lecturer in French studies at the University of Aberystwyth, Paris is a city whose long and conflicted history continues to thrive and change.

As Hussey shows in Paris, sometimes literature really is an accurate reflection of daily life: Paris is indeed a city of contradictions. Yes, the history of Paris is one of princes and palaces, but Paris is the city where, after centuries of bloody conflict, the people's revolution was invented. Hussey introduces readers to the myriad Parisians who have left their marks on the city: the classes dangereuses, parigot (working classes), trublions (disturbers of the peace), and petites gens (ordinary people). He walks readers past the tourist attractions and through a maze of secret adventures and hidden meanings.

More than 400 acute, riveting pages full of thousands of colorful characters, references, details and colors...At every turn, on every corner, the idle traveler through the book finds something new. – Observer

Forget The Da Vinci Code; here's the dark side of the City of Light. A mixture of enjoyably sinister trivia and deep scholarship, taking in the Knights Templar, ancient cemeteries, Joan of Arc, whores, fláneurs, poets and criminals. – Independent

Delightful and enterprising...this book is endlessly informative and entertaining, with a story on every page. – Peter Ackroyd, Times

Masterly... passionately entertaining. – Independent of Sunday

Fascinating... greatly readable. – Daily Express

Vivid, informed, delectably readable...an enlightened introduction to the city's best-kept secrets. No visitor to France should go without it. – Sunday Times

… Also noteworthy in this overstuffed, unrestrained effort are Hussey's critique of former French president Mitterrand as "a master of double-dealing and double-talk whose only real loyalty was to himself and his position in power," and Hussey's take on the 2005 riots instigated by violent black and Arab suburban youths. – Publishers Weekly
In his outrageously readable, impressively researched, shockingly violent alternative history of Paris, Andrew Hussey illuminates the city's gutters, stews, slaughters, riots, underbellies and crimes in the shadowy corners that Balzac relished.  The result is, literally and figuratively, a fascinating riot of a book. – Simon Sebag Montefiore

Magnificent and entertaining... At every turn, on every corner, the idle traveller through the book finds something new. – London Observer

Erudite and engaging, Paris is a sweeping, vivid portrait of an endlessly fascinating city and culture, a picaresque journey through royal palaces, brothels, and sidewalk cafés, uncovering the rich, exotic, and often lurid history of the world’s most beloved city.

Home & Garden / Crafts & Hobbies

Facts & Fabrications: Unraveling the History of Quilts and Slavery: 9 Projects, 20 Blocks, First-person Accounts by Barbara Brackman (C&T Publishing)

Did quilts really lead the way to freedom?

What role did quilts play in the Underground Railroad?

Enslaved peoples in the American South preserved their memories with quilts. Today, in nine remarkable projects, quilt historian and artist Barbara Brackman in Facts & Fabrications guides readers through the stories they told – and helps crafters create quilts and samplers that capture their own memories. Facts & Fabrications is based on facts and fabrications. The historical facts are the story of American slavery, told through the words of people who lived through that national shame. The fabrications are the symbolism Brackman has attached to traditional American quilt patterns to tell the story.

The book mixes and matches historic blocks and Brackman’s new designs to create timeless treasures. The book contains first-person accounts; newspaper and military records, and surviving quilts all add clues. Facts & Fabrications focuses on a thread of Civil War history – the story of slavery and emancipation.

To separate fact from fabrication, the book looks for historical evidence, personal accounts written at the time, such as diaries and letters recording immediate events, memoirs, written words such as autobiographies, or interviews by people who lived through the era. Published records, such as newspaper accounts and military records, add pieces to the puzzle, as do objects like surviving quilts, which can tell much about fabric, fashion, and women's interests. Oral traditions – for example, family stories – require the support of other types of evidence or numerous renditions of the same story from different sources. A family story that a quilt was made by a plantation's slave is more credible if census records indicate the woman lived with that family. A tale that a quilt was buried to protect it from General William Sherman's army has more authority if we find similar tales in other families.

But popular legends capture the imagination, becoming more than mere falsehoods or fabrications. They are American myths, and no myth-buster, no historian, can stamp them out, because myths tell tales that define us as a culture. Historians, frustrated by myths that will not die, find the best they can do is offer an alternative accurate history – one some people might choose to accept.

Over the past fifteen years, Americans have watched a new myth become as popular as the legends of the first flag and the cherry tree. The role of quilts in the Underground Railroad has gained wide acceptance, becoming part of today's classroom learning for children and adults. The questions that quilt historians are asked most often refer to the Underground Railroad: Is it true that Log Cabin quilts were hung on clotheslines to signal escaping slaves of a ‘safe house’? Were quilts read as maps to tell escapees the route to safety? Did runaways use quilt patterns, such as the Double Wedding Ring or Drunkard's Path, as code to communicate escape plans?

According to Brackman: "We have no historical evidence of quilts being used as signals, codes, or maps. The tale of quilts and the Underground Railroad makes a good story, but not good quilt history." Historical problems with these tales begin with the quilt patterns in question. They are usually an anachronism; The Log Cabin as a pattern dates only as early as 1860s: The Drunkard's Path and the Double Wedding Ring developed long after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.

Like other myths, however, these stories survive because they help define our culture. At the turn of the twenty-first century, Americans are eager to discuss Black History. Quilts and the Underground Railroad are the perfect pair of bookends for chronicles of slavery. The story of black heroes risking their lives for freedom and white heroes risking their liberty to shelter escaping slaves has resounding appeal.

Facts & Fabrications, then, offers today's quilt makers an alternative framework to weave an accurate history of slavery into their quilts. From Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, an index to 4,000 blocks, she chose twenty poetic names to represent twenty chapters in the story from Africa to Reconstruction. Names like Catch Me If You Can, Lincoln's Platform, and Lost Ship are perfect for symbolizing various events, but she emphasizes that these patterns have no historical connection to slave-made quilts. In many cases, quilts in these designs did not appear until the 1930s, when quilt making was a popular feature in newspapers around the country.

Quitters interested in African American slavery and quilting will find many historically accurate, teachable moments within these pages. The first person accounts by slaves of their quilt making, quilt parties, and stolen quilts make emotional reading. A must-have book for your quilting library! – Kyra Hicks, author, Black Threads: An African American Quilting Sourcebook

For all those interested in quilts and slavery, THIS is the publication to get! – Marsha MacDowell, Curator of Folk Arts and Professor of Art & Art History, Michigan State University Museum/Great Lakes Quilt Center

Brackman skillfully assembles accurate historical evidence along with beautiful quilt examples infused with slave-era symbolism. – Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, Historian, writer, quilter

Facts & Fabrications celebrates and continues an American quilt tradition while it combines history and quilting. Brackman provides the facts and readers decide how to interpret them as they learn about this fascinating time in history. The book is an excellent resource for elementary through high school learners, and also for home-schoolers, especially because the curriculum is included.

Home & Garden / Crafts & Hobbies

Kaffe Fassett's Kaleidoscope of Quilts by Kaffe Fassett (The Taunton Press)

Kaffe Fassett has attracted huge audiences worldwide to the knitting and needlepoint crafts. A best-selling author, he has also presented his own TV series, Glorious Color, and a major exhibition of his work has traveled the world, after forming the first one-man show of a living textile artist ever to show at the V & A in London.

In Kaffe Fassett's Kaleidoscope of Quilts, Kaffe offers readers a range of 20 individual designs that feature both the new fabrics in Rowan's patchwork range and some firm favorites. Photographed against the backdrop of the Mediterranean island of Malta, these quilts echo the sunshine colors in an array of new designs from both Kaffe and his team, Roberta Horton, Mary Mashuta, Liza Prior, Lucy, Pauline Smith, Brandon Mably, and Ruth Eglinton.

The inspiration for the designs ranges from the colors of antique cloisonne vases, seen in the Shoofly Columns Quilt, to geometric, in the bold colors and stripes of the Liza's Hazy Corners Quilt, to the floral patternings of Basket of Flowers and Lilies.

World renowned for his brilliant manipulation of color, Kaffe in Kaffe Fassett's Kaleidoscope of Quilts includes two quilt patterns, each of which is presented using two completely different color palettes, to encourage quilters to experiment with their own ways with color

For each quilt there is a flat reference shot of the entire quilt, accompanied by detailed instructions for its construction, as well as easy-to-follow piecing diagrams. The book also includes a quilting technique section, as well as a glossary that explains the terms used in the projects.

Kaffe Fassett is an artist completely, unabashedly attuned to the luscious details of pattern, design, and color. He is a true visionary and huge inspiration to me and thousands of others looking to tap into their creativity. – Amy Butler, contributing editor, Country Living

Quitters of all skill levels will find something to be delighted with in Kaffe Fassett's Kaleidoscope of Quilts. Showcasing the new entries in Kaffe's line of fabrics with Rowan, these quilts positively vibrate with color and energy.

Home & Garden / Health, Mind & Body / Self-Help / Aging

Rightsizing Your Life: Simplifying Your Surroundings While Keeping What Matters Most by Ciji Ware, with a foreword by Gail Sheehy (Springboard Press)

We are not about to ‘lose our home,’ we are about to gain our freedom.

After a lifetime of striving to have it all, baby boomers are realizing that more isn't always better. As millions of Americans at midlife and beyond start to think about their futures, they'll have to consider some important questions.

  • Where do I want to live now?
  • Do I still need a big suburban home?
  • How can I build a meaningful, happy life... without a lot of stuff weighing me down?

Rightsizing – the buzzword for streamlining your possessions and making time for the things that matter most in middle age. Millions of midlife Americans are reevaluating their surroundings as their kids begin to leave the nest and they themselves start to think about retirement. Whether they’re going from the multi-bedroom suburban house to a condo in the city, or downsizing from two homes to one, or making room for grandchildren to visit or an elderly relative to join the family, the trend for people in their 50s and beyond is a shift to well-planned living quarters that suit their age, stage, and situation. In making this transition, they face the daunting task of paring down a lifetime of possessions while furnishing their new lives with things that have meaning. This simplification of surroundings and stuff will liberate people in midlife to pursue their passions and hobbies without the responsibilities of a big house weighing them down.

Rightsizing Your Life written by Ciji Ware, print and broadcast journalist for 25 years, a health and lifestyle correspondent for ABC, is a practical guide to the winnowing process. The book provides a seven-step plan to get started ... as well as tips on how to deal with the emotional factors (reluctant mates, an attachment to things, nostalgic kids) that can stall the process and sabotage sensible decision making.

An excellent guide to gaining freedom from possessions and focusing on what really matters. – Jeri Sedlar, Don't Retire, Rewire

This is one of those books that can change your life. When you get around
to rightsizing your book collection, you'll want to make this one a keeper. – Donna Smallin, author of The One-Minute Organizer

An excellent guide to gaining freedom from possessions and focusing on what really matters. – Jeri Sedlar, author of Don't Retire, Rewire

Ciji Ware's Rightsizing Your Life will have readers looking at themselves with a discerning eye and crafting a new journey toward a more simplified, organized, and inspired experience filled with time to do the things they really want to do in life. – Kip Tindell, CEO, The Container Store

Rightsizing Your Life is a practical and down-to-earth guide for a difficult midlife transition.

Home & Garden / Interior Design / Architecture

Colorscapes: Inspiring Palettes for the Home by Susan Sargent, with Jill Connors, with photography by Eric Roth (Bulfinch)

In Colorscapes, Susan Sargent explores how to create a personal color palette with an original approach to the often mystifying process of picking a color. She discusses how to use color to solve room challenges, how to use mood boards to plan the elements of an entire room, how to achieve a harmonious color balance, and how to use such familiar tools as paint, fabric, artwork, glass, and tile. Each chapter of the book is devoted to a different color concept in various locations and spans many decorative styles. Sargent conveys her belief that with color, anyone can create a home full of inspiration, serendipity, and personal style.

Sargent asks: “Why do most people live with the colors of mud, dust, fog, and soot? I have no good answer to this question. The range of colors available today – in paint, wallpaper, fabrics, and home accessories – is astonishing, providing a veritable garden of delights to feed the souls of chromophiles. There is enough variety – from the subtlest pale shades to the most exuberantly loud – to suit every imaginable taste. Color has been declared the design element du jour by magazines and television decorating shows, and the Internet has made it possible to find any product at all, no matter how exotic – yet beige and white still dominate most interiors.”

She thinks we have been brainwashed by real-estate agents, decorators, and retail stores and catalogs that sell the easiest colors to coordinate, the predictable neutrals. Despite our growing understanding of the inspiring, welcoming effects of color, we still have trouble stepping beyond the threshold of bland to put it all together. Color is intensely personal, and all rules are made to be broken. Yet it is easy to become overwhelmed, and that avid color enthusiasts may stop short of implementing their ideas for lack of confidence. To assist readers, Sargent shares a number of nontechnical procedures.

Colorscapes presents a variety of interiors – some professionally planned, some not – each of which shows a distinctive point of view. The color palettes illustrated range from luminous to quiet, reflecting a wide range of personal tastes. These ideas can be adapted to many different situations, and readers will find them inventive and inspiring. On each project, the homeowner or designer took risks, suffered setbacks, made adjustments, and finally succeeded brilliantly.

First, Colorscapes covers ‘mood boards’, which come in many shapes and sizes, from the obsessively rigid (an array of same-size swatches neatly pinned in straight rows) to the resolutely chaotic (a swirl of paint chips, snips of fabric, feathers, post-cards, and photos of dream rooms). A mood board is a room in miniature. Colorscapes provides photographs of mood boards for many of the rooms featured in the book. They show the palettes that were used and, in some cases, the color inspirations that began the process.

Then the book gets into color selection in a big way. Within each chapter, a section titled ‘Color ingenuity’ examines the color concepts that came into play. In some cases, a precept was deliberately followed to create the room: in others, the design may have been less consciously executed but nonetheless, illustrates a sound approach. Some of the main ideas in Colorscapes include:

  1. Contrast. A room without contrast is flat and unappealing – contrast of dark and light colors heightens the color effect. For instance, black is a vibrant background for hot red; it makes the red pop. Contrast brightens and lightens colors, as well as emphasizes shapes – as with a dark sofa set against a light wall.
  2. Texture. Sometimes texture can have as much impact as color. Texture can be either tactile (woven fabrics, wood, plaster, stone) or visual (reflective surfaces, such as glass or metal). It is important to have a mix of textures in fabrics, and avoid using only flat, printed materials or many similar weaves.
  3. Colors with Neutrals. Adding some quiet tones can both support the underlying color scheme and give relief to the eye. The inclusion of some neutrals can correct any excesses in a too-colorful room or, conversely, can provide a background for a more restrained color story limited to decorative accents.
  4. Splash. Minimizing the color zone can allow readers to be bolder in their color choices without compromising other elements they already have in place.
  5. Color Families: Using multiple shades of a single color can be effective. Several shades of yellow paint, for example, can travel in sequence across a series of rooms.
  6. Transitions. The passage from room to room within the home must be coherent and logical from a color standpoint, not abrupt or jarring. Carrying one color along, even as a minor accent, will link the rooms together.
  7. Color Partners. Most of us don't want to decorate our homes in simplistic primary colors, so we pick more complex shades that shift off the standard color wheel. When pairing a cool color with a warm one – blue with red, for instance – look for a blue that has some tint of red in it, and a red that has a tint of blue. This will tweak both colors and bring them closer together.
  8. Color Balance. Building a mood board with actual swatches will help readers decide how to balance the colors chosen so that one won't overpower the others. Colors change depending on the company they keep, so always consider how one affects another.
  9. Thinking in Threes. Put together three colors, then identify which elements in the room are going to be ‘recolored’. The primary color should be on about 60 percent of the elements, the secondary on about 30 percent, and the accent color on about 10 percent.

Colorscapes builds on the success of Sargent's highly-acclaimed Bright House Color Workshops, and includes secrets previously only shared with workshop attendees. The book will inspire readers by the work of the color-loving interior designers and homeowners whose rooms are shown. The common feature of all these interiors is the clear sense they convey of adventurous fun. The book can also serve as an encyclopedia of exploration, encouragement, and even exhilaration as readers expand their own color thinking.

Mysteries & Thrillers

Rumpole and the Reign of Terror: A Novel by John Mortimer (Viking)

When Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders – Sir John Mortimer’s first Rumpole novel ever – debuted last year, devoted fans came to it in droves. Now, just in time for Christmas, Mortimer returns.

Since his debut almost 30 years ago, readers have been drawn to the beloved curmudgeon Rumpole, the tough but lovable barrister who defends the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ down at the Old Bailey. The character that spawned plays, television programs, and countless books is back in Rumpole and the Reign of Terror, as the old barrister contends with a new obstacle in his quest for justice.

Things have certainly changed for Rumpole and the Old Bailey. When Rumpole loses a routine case due to a new ‘terrorism’ law, he is approached by the defendant's cousin. Her Pakistani husband, Dr. Mahmoud Khan, is being imprisoned on suspected terrorism charges, without charge or trial under suspicion of aiding al Qaeda in its plans for a terrorist attack.

The new laws also permit the imprisonment of terror suspects without being formally charged. These laws go against everything Rumpole believes in his beloved justice system. Rumpole, never one to turn down a challenge, and with the doctor’s wife begging him to help her husband, agrees to represent them, and he will stop at nothing to get Dr. Khan the fair trial he deserves, and to prove that his client is indeed innocent.

Trouble is also brewing at home as Hilda – She Who Must Be Obeyed – sits down to write her own memoirs describing her view of Rumpole and her own love life. Rumpole’s battle on the home front threatens to derail his case but where there’s a Rumpole, there’s a way!

Mortimer, playwright, novelist and former practicing barrister, originally created the character of Rumpole in 1975, when Rumpole of the Bailey was part of the BBC Play for Today anthology. The character was so popular with audiences that it was turned into a television series and a number of books, all written by Mortimer. Mortimer received the British Academy Writer of the Year Award for the Rumpole plays.

All the usual Rumpolean marvels of language and characterization are here, with the addition of searing social commentary on racial prejudice and Britain's current government. A bracing, upsetting, inspiring David-and-Goliath Rumpole. – Booklist (starred review)

…this daringly topical entry  in Mortimer's cherished series shows that the 83-year-old author remains as skilled as ever at delivering an entertaining mystery. – Publishers Weekly

Mortimer returns, praise the Lord, with a second Rumpole novel, ready to tackle his most timely case, with his signature wit and style. Rumpole and the Reign of Terror combines the classic Rumpole that readers know and love with a story that is ripped from the headlines.

Parenting & Families / Biographies & Memoirs

Alternadad by Neal Pollack (Pantheon Books)

Call it the rise of hipster parenting culture: the parents who bring their baby to the neighborhood bar; the ones who dress themselves, and their kids, in ironic T-shirts, who start ‘indie’ kids' clothing boutiques and record labels, and brag that their kids like to eat dim sum and capers. Today's young parents are just as likely to bring baby along to an art opening, a poetry reading, or a wine tasting than to schedule a play date in the park. Many parents today just want to have more fun, and that means not entirely giving up their culture for the sake of a two year old.

A few years ago, Neal Pollack was probably the least likely father you’ve ever met: a pop-culture-obsessed writer and self-styled party guy known mostly for outrageous literary antics. Hilarious, often controversial, Pollack, author of several acclaimed books of satirical fiction, is an unlikely spokesperson for a new generation of parents.

In typical fashion, he responded to the birth of his son four years ago by forming a mediocre rock band and taking it on tour. Now, in Alternadad, he tells the poignant story of how he learned to be a father to his son, Elijah, after the failure of his short-lived rock ’n’ roll dreams. Alternadad is a book about the wonders, terrors, and idiocies of parenting today. From enrolling his son in an absurd corporate gymnastics class to a disastrous visit to a rock festival to uncomfortable encounters with other parents whom he’d ordinarily avoid, Pollack candidly explores the everyday struggles and the long-term compromises that come with parenthood. Pollack and his wife Regina were determined to raise their son without growing up too much themselves. They welcomed the responsibility but were worried that they’d become uptight and out of touch. For Pollack, this means bringing his son to music festivals, putting up posters of Johnny Cash in the nursery, and staging impromptu dance parties to a soundtrack that substitutes the Sex Pistols and Sly And The Family Stone for more conventional kids' music. He wants his son to learn how to be irreverent without being bad. Through the ups and downs of the first years of their son’s life their determination is put to the test, and they find themselves changing in ways they never expected, particularly after Elijah develops a biting problem in preschool.

Witty...Pollack hasn't lost his flair for tongue-in-cheek commentary. – Publisher's Weekly
…This book, which recounts the author's transition from hipster guy to hipster dad, is both laugh-out-loud funny and cry-softly poignant. Written in Pollack's in-your-face, no-holds-barred style, it just may be the most offbeat book about parenting ever written, and fans of the author's previous, equally idiosyncratic books – including that pop-culture staple The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature (2000) – will be utterly enraptured. – David Pitt, Booklist  
Engaging...Pollack is...America's postmodern Erma Bombeck. – Texas Monthly
Hilarious. . . [his son] Elijah is. . . a precocious child with the face of a Botticelli and the temperament of Dennis the Menace. – The Los Angeles Times
Eminently readable...observant, witty, and smart. – Library Journal
With his new memoir, the recovered satirist follows in the grand tradition of books like Bill Cosby's Fatherhood. For Pollack, it's a drastic reversal...but we're lucky that he acquiesced. – Details
Alternadad is peppered with the scary-funny one-liners we’ve come to expect from the intriguing American crank Neal Pollack. But it's also a surprisingly romantic tale of love and hope and even civic-minded warmth, set amidst the dingier blocks of Chicago and Austin and the trash-can fires of Philadelphia. – Sarah Vowell, author of Assassination Vacation

Foolproof material . . . A rock-'n'-roll writer becomes a father and finds it wonderful...Good job, Neal! – Kirkus Reviews

Alternadad is a singular book, of which one critic wrote, "It may just be the most offbeat parenting memoir ever written." Mixing ironic skepticism with an appreciation for the absurdities of everyday life, Alternadad is a portrait of a new version of the American family: responsible if unorthodox parents raising kids who know the difference between the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. Funny, surprising, and often moving, it just might be the parenting bible for a new generation of mothers and fathers. Regardless, Pollack's work is guaranteed to provoke and entertain.

Parenting & Families / Health, Mind & Body / Gay & Lesbian

Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers by Cris Beam (Harcourt)

Forging an identity as a teenager is not easy, especially as a transgender teen. In Los Angeles there are several hundred transgender teenagers who cycle on and off the streets – in and out of foster care, group homes, and homelessness. They form chosen families where their biological ones failed them. Drag mothers teach the girls who were born as boys how to pass as female, morph their bodies and survive, and friends serve as proxy sisters and brothers. While the mainstream media is starting to acknowledge adult transsexuals with films like Transamerica and the upcoming introduction of a transgender character on the soap opera "All My Children," or even the more middle class, college-educated younger transsexuals (with the television documentary series TransGeneration), the poor and the urban transgender adolescents have been invisible.

When Cris Beam, journalist, activist and expert on the transgender community, teacher of creative writing at Columbia and New York University, first moved to Los Angeles, she thought she might put in a few hours volunteering at a school for transgender kids while she got settled. Instead she found herself drawn deeply into the pained and powerful group of transgirls she discovered.

In Transparent Beam introduces four of them – Christina, Domineque, Foxxjazell, and Ariel – and shows readers their world, a dizzying mix of familiar teenage cliques and crushes with far less familiar challenges like how to morph your body on a few dollars a day. Funny, heartbreaking, defiant, and sometimes defeated, the girls form a singular community. But they struggle valiantly to resolve the gap between the way they feel inside and the way the world sees them. Trips across the border into Mexico to get injections of hormones, secret swap meets in East Hollywood where a transgirl can buy liquid hormones and syringes, and pumping or shooting loose silicone directly into the body are just some of the underground ways transgender teens find that allow them to live their lives as the females they feel they were born to be.

An unprecedented window into the lives of transgendered teens, Transparent is a testament to the resilience of young adults trying to find themselves in a world that would prefer them lost. I couldn't put it down. – Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out

In this gripping, illuminating and deeply moving portrait of transgender teens in Los Angeles, the smallest incidents reverberate sharply. … As Beam morphs from parent to therapist, chum, cheerleader and legal adviser, she seamlessly blends memoir, reportage and advocacy. The result is a vivid and fiercely empathetic narrative that juxtaposes dead-on portraits of these young women with clearly articulated fury at a culture that's not only fearful of anyone who deviates from traditional gender roles but treats minorities and the poor with contempt. – Publishers Weekly (starred review)
… Other victories, less tangible but equally important as she established meaningful relationships with the kids, as well as frustrations, obstacles, and disappointments, make for compelling reading that fills an important niche in gender studies. – Whitney Scott, Booklist

A remarkable book – captivating, powerful, funny, and wise. Without ever upstaging her subjects, Beam explains how she fell in love with them, and so allows us to do the same. This is literature of the first order. – Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon

Putting aside the gob-smacking strength, humanity, and hard-won wisdom in both the writer and her subjects, Transparent is just an astonishing book and Cris Beam, an extraordinary talent. This is everything that writing should be: gripping, desperate, heartbreaking and joyous. – David Rakoff, author of Don't Get Too Comfortable

These kids are most usually known about rather than known. But Cris Beam knows them. Bless her for so eloquently and respectfully sharing their stories with the rest of us. – Kate Bornstein, author of Hello, Cruel World

Keenly observed and deeply felt, Transparent is essential reading. We need more books like this, and more writers like Cris Beam. – Janice Erlbaum, author of Girlbomb

Beam’s careful reporting, sensitive writing, and intimate relationship with her characters place Transparent in the ranks of the best narrative nonfiction. Beam puts a human face on the trials and tribulations of individuals who are invisible in society or are seen only through the filter of pop culture – from soap operas to reality television to film. Beam's remarkable account of her interaction with the students at the Eagles school is spellbinding and eye-opening.

As to the girls, the book features portraits of four unforgettable girls: Christina, Domineque, Foxxjazell, and Ariel. With their street-savvy edge and radical push to be themselves at all costs, the community these girls forms creates new notions of family and challenges our ideas about what makes someone male or female. And the human struggle each girl is engaged in – to be oneself while the world expects something else – is a struggle we can all identify with.

Philosophy / Religion & Spirituality / Judaism / Theology / History / World

Open Wounds: The Crisis of Jewish Thought in the Aftermath of the Holocaust by David Patterson (Pastora Goldner Series in Post-Holocaust Studies: University of Washington Press)

In Open Wounds, David Patterson sets out to describe why Jews must live – but especially think – in a way that is distinctly Jewish.

For Patterson, Bornblum Chair of Excellence in Judaic Studies and director of the Bornblum Judaic Studies Program at the University of Memphis, the primary responsibility of post-Holocaust Jewish thought is to avoid thinking in the same categories that led to the attempted extermination of the Jewish people. The Nazis, he says, were not anti-Semitic because they were racists; they were racists because they were anti-Semitic, and their anti-Semitism was furthered by a Western ontological tradition that made God irrelevant by placing the thinking ego at the center of being.

If the Jewish people, are ‘chosen’ to attest to the universal ‘chosenness’ of every human being, then each human being is singled out to assume a responsibility to and for all human beings. And that, Patterson says, is why the anti-Semite hates the Jew: because the very presence of the Jew robs him of his ego and serves as a constant reminder that we are all forever in debt, and that redemption is always yet to be. Thus the Nazis, before they killed Jewish bodies, were compelled to murder Jewish souls through the degradations of the Shoah.

Patterson asks: Why is the need for a revitalized Jewish thought so urgent today? It is because modern Jewish thought, hoping to accommodate itself to rational idealism, is obliged to put itself in league with postmodernists who "preach tolerance for everything except biblically based religion, beginning with Judaism," and who effectively call on Jews, as fellow ‘citizens of the global village,’ to disappear. It is also because without the Jewish reality of Jerusalem, there is only the Jewish abstraction of Auschwitz, for in Auschwitz the Jews were murdered not as husbands and wives, parents and children, but as efficiently numbered units. If the Jews, Patterson claims, are not a people set apart by ‘a Voice that is other than human,’ then the Holocaust can never be understood as evil rather than simply immoral.

In Open Wounds, Patterson undertakes a Jewish response to the Shoah. He proceeds from the premise that the Nazis' assault on the Jews included an assault on the Torah that has defined the Jews for three thousand years. He draws on a variety of Jewish thinkers, and on a variety of what are termed sifrei kodesh, or ‘sacred texts,’ in order to take his thinking about the Shoah to new levels.

The approach taken in Open Wounds involves recognizing that the shadow of Auschwitz extends over all thinking, despite the Torah Or, or the ‘Light of Torah.’ Indeed, that darkness is what calls for the Light of Torah; from a Jewish standpoint, the light that might transform darkness into light can come from nowhere else, least of all from modern, ontological, or postmodern thought. And it summons us to understand rather than explain.

Caring for the other human being is the obligation that suffering imposes upon each of us: that obligation is our destiny. As the Chosen People, the Jewish people are chosen to transmit to the world the truth that every human being is chosen for a destiny. In order to meet that destiny, the task is not to explain evil but to do something about it. The task undertaken in Open Wounds is to determine what that doing has to do with a distinctively Jewish thinking in the aftermath of the Shoah.

Because the endeavor to define Jewish thought requires an examina­tion of what has become of thinking, chapter 2 explores the bankruptcy of modern and postmodern thought. It begins by clarifying how Jewish thought regards the nature of thinking itself; it then contrasts that view with the ontological identification of thought with being. In the tension between the two lies the key to ‘philosophical anti-Semitism.’ One misunderstanding that has resulted from modern thinking about the Holocaust is that anti-Semitism is a form of racism. Approaching anti-Semitism in philosophical terms and not as a form of racism or religious prejudice, chapter 2 explains what philosophical anti-Semitism is anti. Having made this point, the chapter then discusses the specific challenges that face a distinctively Jewish mode of thought in the post-Holocaust era.

Because a primary difficulty facing Jewish thought lies in its engagement with modern philosophy, chapter 3 examines the contrast between ethical monotheism and Jewish thought. The chapter maintains that the same elements of German Idealism that went into the creation of Auschwitz also produced what is known as ‘ethical monotheism,’ and that the liberal Judaism that emerged from the combination of Idealism and Judaism is not only inadequate to respond to the Holocaust but may play into the hands of those who want to see the Jews eliminated through assimilation, if not through extermination. In a word, chapter 3 shows that Judaism is not a form of ethical monotheism, and that ethical monotheism cannot, therefore, be construed as a Jewish response to the Shoah. Jewish thought, with the Holy City as its symbolic center, must incorporate the category of holiness into its thinking, a category that is alien to the thinking that produced ethical monotheism.

Chapter 4, "The Holocaust and the Holy Tongue," considers ways in which the Hebrew language may inform Jewish thought after Auschwitz. While such a consideration is part of the general approach taken throughout Open Wounds, chapter 4 examines some specific terms relevant to the Holocaust itself. The very word Shoah, for example, has as its root the word shav, which means ‘nothingness,’ suggesting that the Shoah entails the imposition of a radical Nothingness upon the Jewish people. The premise is that, given the Nazi assault on language as a defining feature of the Shoah, part of what is demanded of Jewish thought in the post-Shoah era is to consider how the perennial Jewish language might provide some insight into the assault on the Jewish soul.

Since the holy tongue shapes the thinking we receive from the holy texts, chapter 5, "The Sifrei Kodesh and the Holocaust," considers ways in which the sacred texts of the Jewish tradition might be incorporated into a Jewish response to the Shoah, especially with regard to the assault on the meaning and value of human life. The aim of chapter 5 is to explain more fully the role of the Book and the meaning of the ‘holy’ in traditional Jewish thinking; how the holy came under assault in the Shoah; and how the holy books may be incorporated into post-Holocaust Jewish thought. Chapter 6 addresses a definitive philosophical question that emerges from the Holocaust: what is a human being? Or: what imparts value to the other human being? After exploring the Nazis' assault on death itself, the chapter elucidates the singularity of the Muselmann and the death camps' walking dead as a distinctively Nazi creation; it also elaborates on why the Muselmann is emblematic of the Holocaust. The chapter's thesis is that only the recovery of a Jewish view of the human being can bring about the recovery of a future not just for Jews but also for humanity as humanity.

Since the recovery of a future entails a process of mending, chapter 7, "Jewish Thought and a Post-Holocaust Tikkun Haolam," draws upon two major post-Holocaust Jewish thinkers to examine the often used and often misused term tikkun haolam. While the term appears in several Talmudic texts, it assumes an even deeper significance in a mystical discourse that articulates a certain way of understanding world and reality, God and humanity, Torah and Covenant. In chapter 7, then, Patterson opens up a discussion of Jewish mysticism that is developed more fully in the subsequent chapter.

With the mystical aspects of tikkun outlined in chapter 7, chapter 8 proceeds to a further exploration of the mystical dimensions of post-Holocaust Jewish thought. Because the mystical teachings run throughout Jewish prayers and practices, a consideration of them is essential to an understanding of what makes Jewish thought Jewish. Key points developed in chapter 8 include the mystical view of God and humanity, the relation between God and evil, and the structure of creation. With this groundwork established, the chapter then examines a mystical response to the Holocaust that comes from the midst of the event itself: it is the Esh Kodesh (Sacred Fire) of Rabbi Kalonymos Kalmish Shapira, Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto. On the basis of Shapira's text, Patterson considers whether we may be living in an Olam Shoah, a World of Shoah, that is made of the shell of Jewish ashes that now cover creation. One important concern is to consider avenues of return from the Olam Shoah, not in a movement backward, to how things were, but in a movement forward, approaching a redemption whose seeds lie in exile itself.

The matter of redemption, then, brings us to chapter 9, "Though the Messiah May Tarry." After clarifying views of the Messiah in Jewish tradition, chapter 9 examines the Hebrew notion of emunah, or ‘faith,’ and how waiting for the Messiah entails acting on his behalf; the meaning of brit, or ‘covenant,’ for a post-Holocaust Jewish thought that awaits the Messiah; ways in which the Infinite is manifest in the messianiac hope; and the meaning of the Messiah for post-Holocaust Jewish thought.

Finally, in chapter 10, "Conclusion: No Closure," we come to the realization that theodicy is not an issue for Jewish thought. For a Jewish response to the Holocaust, the crucial question concerns our relation to Divine sanctification, not the absence of Divine intervention. In order to enter into a process of sanctification, we must enter into the flames of Torah that could not be consumed by the flames of Birkenau. And where Torah is concerned, there is neither conclusion nor closure.

Open Wounds is a major production in the field of Holocaust studies. It not only fills a long felt need for discussing the burning question of how should Jews live as Jews in the aftermath of Auschwitz, but it also raises issues essential for understanding new concepts and new possibilities concerning this field. This book revolves around some of the most important issues of our time. – Zsuzsanna Ozsvath, University of Texas at Dallas

In the aftermath of Auschwitz, the world has witnessed the tearing of deep wounds. This wounding of the human soul and human thought means in the post-Holocaust era for the Jewish people, as well as for humanity is what Open Wounds explores. Post-Holocaust Jewish thinking, confronting the work of healing the world, must recover not just Jewish tradition but also the category of the holy in human beings’ thinking about humanity. With Open Wounds, Patterson makes possible a religious response to the Holocaust.

Politics / History

American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America by Chris Hedges (Free Press)

Dr. James Luther Adams, my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, told us that when we were his age – he was then close to 80 – we would all be fighting the ‘Christian fascists.’

The warning, given to me nearly 25 years ago, came at the moment Pat Robertson and other radio and televangelists began speaking about a new political religion that would direct its efforts at taking control of all institu­tions, including mainstream denominations and the government. Its stated goal was to use the United States to create a global Christian empire. It was hard, at the time, to take such fantastic rhetoric seriously, especially given the buffoonish quality of leaders in the Christian Right who expounded it. But Adams warned us against the blindness caused by intellectual snobbery. The Nazis, he said, were not going to return with swastikas and brown shirts. Their ideological inheritors in America had found a mask for fascism in patriotism and the pages of the Bible. – from the book

In American Fascists, Chris Hedges, veteran journalist and author of the National Book Award finalist War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, challenges the Christian Right's religious legitimacy and argues that at its core it is a mass movement fueled by unbridled nationalism and a hatred for the open society.

Hedges, who grew up in rural parishes in upstate New York where his father was a Presbyterian pastor, attacks the movement as someone steeped in the Bible and Christian tradition. He points to the hundreds of senators and members of Congress who have earned between 80 and 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian Right advocacy groups as one of many signs that the movement is burrowing deep inside the American government to subvert it. The movement's call to dismantle the wall between church and state and the intolerance it preaches against all who do not conform to its vision of a Christian America are pumped into tens of millions of American homes through Christian television and radio stations, as well as reinforced through the curriculum in Christian schools. According to Hedges, the movement's yearning for apocalyptic violence and its assault on dispassionate, intellectual inquiry are laying the foundation for a new, frightening America.

American Fascists, which includes interviews and coverage of events such as pro-life rallies and weeklong classes on conversion techniques, examines the movement's origins, its driving motivations and its dark ideological underpinnings. Hedges argues that the movement currently resembles the young fascist movements in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and '30s, movements that often masked the full extent of their drive for totalitarianism and were willing to make concessions until they achieved unrivaled power. The Christian Right, like these early fascist movements, does not openly call for dictatorship, nor does it use physical violence to suppress opposition. The movement has roused its followers to a fever pitch of despair and fury. All it will take, Hedges writes, is one more national crisis on the order of September 11 for the Christian Right to make a concerted drive to destroy American democracy. The movement awaits a crisis. At that moment they will reveal themselves for what they truly are – the American heirs to fascism.

The f-word crops up in the most respectable quarters these days. Yet if the provocative title of this exposé by Hedges  – sounds an alarm, the former New York Times foreign correspondent takes care to employ his terms precisely and decisively. As a Harvard Divinity School graduate, his investigation of the Christian Right agenda is even more alarming given its lucidity. Citing the psychology and sociology of fascism and cults, including the work of German historian Fritz Stern, Hedges draws striking parallels between 20th-century totalitarian movements and the highly organized, well-funded ‘dominionist movement,’ an influential theocratic sect within the country's huge evangelical population. Rooted in a radical Calvinism, and wrapping its apocalyptic, vehemently militant, sexist and homophobic vision in patriotic and religious rhetoric, dominionism seeks absolute power in a Christian state. Hedges's reportage profiles both former members and true believers, evoking the particular characteristics of this American variant of fascism. His argument against what he sees as a democratic society's suicidal tolerance for intolerant movements has its own paradoxes. But this urgent book forcefully illuminates what many across the political spectrum will recognize as a serious and growing threat to the very concept and practice of an open society. – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Carefully reasoned, American Fascists reminds readers of the dangers liberal, democratic societies face when they tolerate the intolerant. It is an alarming message.

Professional & Technical / Architecture

Performing Architecture: Opera Houses, Theatres and Concert Halls for the Twenty-first Century by Michael Hammond (Merrell)

I was intrigued by the notion of performing spaces as organisms in their own right, breathing people in like particles into a lung, exposing them to sound, colour, drama and emotion, and exhaling them, enriched, back into the community. I set out to find a book to feed my new-found interest, but was dismayed to find that nothing up-to-date existed. The die for Performing Architecture was cast. – from the book

Even in this age of varied home entertainment and fast-paced mass media, immense creative energy is being directed towards new space for live performance. Today's theatres, opera houses and concert halls are among the most exhilarating buildings of our time, by some of the world's most imaginative and accomplished architects. Performers and audiences now enjoy standards of comfort, acoustics and sightlines that are higher than ever before.

Profusely illustrated with photographs, computer renderings and architectural drawings, Performing Architecture, written by Michael Hammond, specialist engineering consultant and co-founder of World Architecture News, explores fifty of today’s finest performance spaces, as well as recently refurbished, restored and transformed buildings. A brief introduction traces the post-war development of theatre and concert hall design, and sets out the circumstances today that have led to such a rich provision for performance. The buildings discussed are taken from the U.S., Europe, Asia and South America, and range from Gehry Partners' landmark Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles to the altogether quieter Unicorn Theatre for Children in London, by Keith Williams; from the Tenerifie Auditorium by Santiago Calatrava to the Guangzhou Opera House, China, by Zaha Hadid; from the refurbishment of London’s Royal Festival Hall by Allies and Morrison to Renzo Piaano’s conversion of a factory for the Niccolo Paganini Auditorium in Parma, Italy; and many others. In an informative introduction, Michael Hammond traces the development of theatre and concert-hall design since World War II, and sets out the circumstances in this new century that have led to such remarkable and rich provision for the performing arts.

Not a technical resource or design bible, Performing Architecture provides a colorful insight into some of the most exciting work that today’s leading architects are producing. A celebratory study, the book showcases some of the most exhilarating buildings of our time. Lavishly illustrated throughout and written by an author with a transparent passion for his subject, this is a study that will appeal to architects, architectural students, engineers and anyone interested in contemporary architecture and the performing arts worldwide.

Reference / Catalogs & Directories / Education / Business & Investing / Industries & Professions

Bricker's International Directory 2007 (Bricker's International Directory) by Thomson Peterson's (Peterson’s)

For more than twenty years, Bricker's has been a respected source of executive education opportunities for human resources professionals and managers. Bricker's International Directory 2007, in its 26th revision, provides a detailed analysis of trends in executive education, including essential program details, from cost and location to faculty, as well as demographic information on past participants. The volume provides profiles of more than 1,300 executive-level education programs at universities and other learning institutions worldwide. Contents include

  • Details on each program's purpose, target audience, and focus.
  • Up-to-date information on faculty, cost, schedule, and contacts.
  • Statistical data on past program participants, including management level, salary range, geographic origin, and industries represented.
  • Two-page narrative descriptions of featured programs, provided by the institution.
  • Easy-to-use indexes listing programs by institution, location, and subject.

Bricker's International Directory 2007 includes access to the expansive Bricker's database, available in a variety of ways:

  • Bricker's Online Site License – with subscription, readers, and all their employees, receive unlimited 24/7 access to reliable information right at their fingertips. They can perform searches and target their searches by program content, tuition, and other search criteria.
  • Bricker's Online includes advanced search features, updated program information, and links to all institutions in the Bricker's database.
  • Data Licensing provides electronic delivery of some book content.

Available both online and in print, Bricker's International Directory 2007 delivers concise analytical information so that readers can make well-informed decisions on appropriate programs for executives in their organization. The Bricker's database is the most extensive source of information on university-based executive education and the details on programs are clearly presented for easy comparison. This comprehensive volume is an ideal reference guide for librarians, human resources professionals, and corporate executives.

Reference / Foreign Languages / Instruction

Spanish For Educators, 2nd edition (3 Audio CDs) by William C. Harvey (Barron’s)

Years ago, while teaching at a middle school in Southern California, I was frequently interrupted by other staff members who needed some quick Spanish instruction. All over campus, from the principal to the custodian, there was a demand for foreign language skills. I later discovered that the problem was nationwide. Spanish-speaking children were enrolling in schools, and English-speaking educators needed to talk to them. – from the book

Spanish For Educators is designed for anyone involved in education who needs to communicate regularly with Spanish speakers. The book familiarizes readers with often-used phrases that relate to everyday school situations. It teaches English-speaking educators, along with related professionals, how to understand and speak Spanish.

Written by long-time Spanish teacher, William C. Harvey, Spanish For Educators, expanded and updated in this new edition, starts by introducing the fundamentals of Spanish conversational speech and word order. Separate chapters emphasize Spanish words and phrases that are most useful for dealing with preschool and elementary students, and then for middle school and high school students. Remaining chapters deal with words and phrases pertaining to guidance counseling, health issues, career guidance, college assistance, and extracurricular activities. A set of three compact discs replaces the tape cassettes that came with the book’s first edition. The audio CDs offer practice in Spanish pronunciation and dialogue and present bilingual dramatizations of typical encounters between students and educators. A specialized dictionary provided in the back of the book help readers get the most out of the book.

For teachers who have no Spanish but need to pick up Spanish communication skills in a hurry, Spanish For Educators is an ideal way to start. This book and CD program also helps counselors, administrators, and other school employees communicate with students who have Spanish as their first language and speak little or no English.

Spanish For Educators provides readers with all the Spanish vocabulary and phrases needed to communicate key messages to Spanish-speaking students of all ages, as well as to converse socially with Hispanic visitors, co-workers, family members, and friends. To accelerate the learning process, all skills are taught gradually and are systematically reinforced through practice and review.

Religion & Spirituality / Atheism / Philosophy

Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam by Michel Onfray (Arcade Publishing)

If Nietzsche proclaimed the death of God, Michael Onfray in Atheist Manifesto starts from the premise that God is not only alive today but increasingly controlled by fundamentalists, who by their very intransigence pose a serious threat to the human race. Citing historical records, both ancient and contemporary, and chapter and verse – from the Bible, the Torah and Talmud, and the Koran – prolific writer Onfay, who teaches philosophy at the Free University of Caen, France, coolly and dispassionately documents the ravages of religious intolerance over the past two and a half millennia, where ‘truth’ is exclusive to only the faithful. He makes a strong case for the three religions’ obsession with purity, their contempt for – antipathy to – reason and intelligence; individual freedom, desire and the human body; and therefore sexuality and pleasure; and their contempt for women in general. In their place, all three, in varying ways and to varying degrees, require obedience and submission, extolling the ‘next life’ to the detriment of the here and now, preaching chastity, virginity, and blind faith.

Onfray also goes back to the origins of the religions’ holy works and shows how they have been dissected and altered, censored and rewritten to suit each doctrine and convince the faithful that they are the word of God, not man.

A bestseller in all the countries where it already appeared, Atheist Manifesto has been hailed by the Times Literary Supplement as a ‘Book of the Year.’

In this era of warring religions, with Almighty God being invoked as the key ally by all sides, it was with gratitude and relief that I read Michel Onfray's Atheist Manifesto. It is both a passionate and coolly reasoned advocacy of atheism, setting the positive values of secularity squarely against the three great monotheisms and their multitudes of hate... . Free of all pretentious obfuscation and written with great verve, wit, scholarship and all the devastating logic of the French intellectual tradition, it deserves an English translation, at the very least. A wonderful, invigorating blast of sanity delivered against the fog of high-toned mumbo-jumbo we have to endure everywhere today. – William Boyd

This tightly argued, hugely controversial work demonstrates how the world's three major religions – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam – have attempted to suppress knowledge, science, pleasure and desire, often condemning nonbelievers to death. Not since Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo has a work so groundbreaking, provocative and explosive appeared to question and challenge the role of the world's dominant, monotheistic religions. Documenting the ravages from religious intolerance over the centuries, Onfrey in Atheist Manifesto makes a convincing case against the three religions for demanding faith, belief, obedience and submission, and for extolling the ‘next life’ at the expense of this one.

Religion & Spirituality / Buddhism / Relationships

How to Expand Love: Widening the Circle of Loving Relationships [LARGE PRINT] by Dalai Lama XIV, translated and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins (Thorndike Press Large Print Inspirational Series: Thorndike)

How to Expand Love: Widening the Circle of Loving Relationships by Dalai Lama XIV, translated and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins (Atria)

In the quest for true happiness and fulfillment during the course of our lives, nothing is more essential than giving and receiving love. But how well do we understand love's transformative powers? Can we really cultivate and appreciate its priceless gifts?

In How to Expand Love, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, offers a simple program for transforming self-centered energy into outwardly directed compassion. Drawing on exercises and techniques established in Tibetan monasteries more than a thousand years ago, the Dalai Lama guides readers through seven key stages.

They learn ways to move beyond the self-defeating tendency to put others into rigid categories. Readers discover how to create and maintain a positive attitude toward those around them in ever-widening circles. By reflecting on the kindnesses that close friends have shown, particularly in childhood, they learn to reciprocate and help other people achieve their own long-term goals. And in seeking the well-being of others, they learn to foster compassion, the all-encompassing face of love. The seven steps are:

  1. Recognizing Friends
  2. Appreciating Kindness
  3. Returning Kindness
  4. Learning to Love
  5. The Power of Compassion
  6. Total Commitment
  7. Seeking Altruistic Enlightenment

Other sections cover stages of development, basic purity of mind, the difference between love and attachment, love as the basis of human rights, and the power of altruism. By committing oneself to becoming more compassionate and nonjudgmental about others, the Dalai Lama maintains, one primarily benefits oneself – the end result is open-hearted relationships capable of transforming all aspects of life, leading ever closer to a life guided by the principles of wisdom and joy.

…As with all of his writings, How to Expand Love is written in a simple yet elegant style, while imparting profound and powerful teachings that, if committed to, can lead to a realization of our true state of oneness with all of life. This is a very valuable book for today’s fractious times. – Larry Trivieri Jr., Amazon.com
In this simple primer on compassion and kindness, the Dalai Lama teaches that "if we really want happiness, we must widen the sphere of love." …This is a generous and sensible road map to not-so-random acts of kindness. – Publishers Weekly

In How to Expand Love, an accessible and insightful book, the Dalai Lama helps readers open their hearts to the experience of unlimited love and transform their relationships.

Religion & Spirituality / Buddhism / Sacred Texts

The Tibetan Book of the Dead: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) First Complete Translation edited by Graham Coleman & Thupten Jinpa, translated by Gyurme Dorje, introductory commentary by His Holiness The Dalai Lama (Penguin Classics)

Hidden away for many centuries, the Tibetan Book of the Dead is an ancient treasure text revealing the secrets of enlightened living and life after death. It embraces the importance of being open to the wonders of the human experience while, at the same time, thinking beyond this lifetime to a vastly greater and grander cycle. A cult classic of the 1960s, the first publication of extracts from this 8th century text in 1927 created a considerable stir with its revelation of one of the most detailed descriptions of the after-death state in world literature.

While the Tibetan Book of the Dead has had several partial translations, none has contained the complete text. Between 1976 and 1979, the editor Graham Coleman worked closely with His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the making of his internationally acclaimed film Tibet – A Buddhist Trilogy. Then in 1989, at Coleman's request, The Dalai Lama gave his support to the idea that the book should at last be fully translated. The Dalai Lama personally asked a number of Tibetan masters to become involved with the project, gave oral teachings on the basis of which this translation was undertaken, and contributed the opening introductory commentary. Now, after 15 years of intense collaborative work by the leading Tibetan exhilarating buildings of our time. Lavishly illustrated throughout and written by an author with a transparent passion for his subject, this is a study that will appeal to architects, architectural students, engineers and anyone interested in contemporary architecture and the performing arts worldwide.

Reference / Catalogs & Directories / Education / Business & Investing / Industries & Professions

Bricker&# guide to living and dying. It contains exquisitely written guidance and practices for transforming one’s experience in everyday life, details on the processes of dying, an inspirational perspective on coping with bereavement.

Profound and unique, it is one of the great treasures of wisdom in the spiritual heritage of humanity. – Sogyal Rinpoche, author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
The most celebrated and widely read work of Tibetan literature outside Tibet ... now in its finest and most complete form in this excellent English translation. – Bryan J. Cuevas, Tricycle
One of the great scripts of world civilization . . . a voyage inside the profound imagination of a people, immaculately rendered in an English both graceful and precise. – Time Out, London
This new translation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead is a tremendous accomplishment. The whole text is a vast source of inspiration. – Francesca Fremantle, Buddhadharma
Magnificent . . . beautiful verse meditations. – The Guardian, London
I hope that the profound insights contained in this work will be a source of inspiration and support to many interested people around the world. – His Holiness The Dalai Lama

This new The Tibetan Book of the Dead represents a major step in the understanding of the Tibetan Buddhist vision of the spiritual journey through life and death. The entire text has now not only been made available in English but also in a translation of remarkable clarity and beauty. With the growing trend toward searching for a deeper spirituality, this accessible and poetically powerful presentation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead makes a welcomed and timely arrival for all those wishing to explore this aspect of life.

Religion & Spirituality / Christianity

Seeking a Sanctuary: Seventh-day Adventism and the American Dream, 2nd edition by Malcolm Bull & Keith Lockhart (Indiana University Press)

Seventh-Day Adventism is one of the most subtly differentiated, systematically developed, and institutionally successful of all alternatives to the American way of life. A nineteenth-century religious sect that observes a seventh-day Sabbath, proclaims the imminent end of the world, and practices health reform, Seventh-day Adventism is now on the way to becoming a major world religion. It already has more than fourteen million members, plus a similar number of unbaptized children and casual adherents. During the last century, it consistently doubled its membership every fifteen years or less, with the rate accelerating over time. Even if the current rate of growth were to slow, there is every reason to suppose that by the mid-twenty-first century there will be over 100 million adherents to Adventism worldwide.

Although its membership has overtaken that of the Latter-day Saints and the Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventism is still largely ignored. Unlike the Mormons and the Witnesses, Adventists have never gained notoriety through open opposition to the state. But neither do they form part of the Protestant mainstream that sustains the national religious identity. In this, as in other respects, Adventism seems ambiguous. Seeking a Sanctuary argues that the ambiguity of Adventism's relationship to America is the source of its identity and global success.

This extensively revised second edition of Seeking a Sanctuary, by authors Malcolm Bull and Keith Lockhart, casts light on this marginal religion through its socio-historical context and discusses several Adventist figures that shaped the perception of this Christian sect. The book offers an analysis of the religion from its origins in Millerism to the present day. It explores the Adventist concern with apocalypticism and health by examining the careers of the prophet, Ellen White, and the reformer, John Harvey Kellogg, and describes the growth of Adventism to become a unique global subculture modeled on American civil religion but subtly differentiated from it. A chapter on the Branch Davidians at Waco illustrates the tragic consequences when David Koresh allowed a schismatic Adventist group to come into more direct contact with the state. Authors Bull, teacher at Oxford University and Lockhart, a London-based journalist, describe the patterns of institutional development, upward mobility, and denominational switching that allow Adventists to overcome social marginality without incorporation into the Protestant mainstream. Seeking a Sanctuary covers all aspects of Adventist culture, including its unusual ethnic diversity, and its important contributions to American sexual ethics, creationism and popular music.

If the American dream can be defined, it would include the following elements: (1) the belief that the American Revolution created a state uniquely blessed by God in which human beings have unprecedented opportunities for self-realization and material gain; (2) the conviction that the American nation, through both example and leadership, offers hope for the rest of the world; and (3) the assumption that it is through individual, rather than collective, effort that the progress of humanity will be achieved. According to Bull and Lockhart, in their formative years, the Seventh-day Adventists rejected the essentials of the American myth. They did not accept that the republican experiment would lead to the betterment of humanity or that it would be a lasting success. They consigned America to eventual destruction, and in place of the nation, they daringly substituted themselves as the true vehicle for the redemption of the world. America had offered sanctuary to generations of immigrants from Europe; Adventism sought to provide a sanctuary from America. By presenting itself as an alternative to the republic in this way, the church rapidly came to operate as an alternative to America in the social sphere as well, as Adventists replicated the institutions and functions of American society.

Seeking a Sanctuary examines the Adventist experience. After an introductory review of the images of Adventism disseminated by the media, the argument is developed in three stages. In part one, “Adventist Theology,” the main developments in Adventist theology are chronicled in an effort to define the ideological boundaries between the church and the world. Part two, The Adventist Experience and the American Dream,” deals more directly with Adventism and America and argues that many aspects of the church – its organizational and financial structure, its worldwide evangelistic success, its attitude toward health, its dealings with the state, the character of its offshoots, even the quality of its art – reveal its ambiguous position in American society. In part three, “Adventist Subculture,” the subculture of the church is examined in more detail: gender, race, ministry, medicine, and education, while the conclusion relates the diversity within Adventism to its deviant response to the American dream. An epilogue considers the future of the sect.

Although the structure remains the same as that of the first edition published in 1989, this edition of Seeking a Sanctuary contains enough new material to fill a second book. It takes the story of Adventism in America from the mid-1980s into the twenty-first century and deals with the theological controversies and social changes that have taken place during that time. Much new information has been incorporated on earlier periods as well. The authors have benefited from the increased openness of the church's administration to enquiries from outside researchers and from the abundance of information on Adventist topics to be found on the Internet. As before, the authors have adopted an interdisciplinary approach in order to do justice to the full range of the Adventist experience. Bull and Lockhart point out that in the course of revision, it became apparent that the first edition had certain blind spots, and they have tried to address them. This edition of Seeking a Sanctuary is more sensitive to the importance of geography and region in the United States and to the shifting patterns of ethnic diversity that have shaped Adventism from the beginning. The authors have also given more attention to both the roots and the offshoots of Seventh-day Adventism and have devoted an entirely new chapter to schismatic groups such as the Branch Davidians. When working on the first edition, the authors omitted discussion of such dissident movements because they seemed too small to warrant notice: the siege at Waco proved them wrong.

A masterpiece. It is by far the best book on Adventism that has ever appeared. – Ronald L. Numbers
The most comprehensive review and insightful analysis in print of the sociology, history, and culture of the Seventh-day Adventist church. – Gregory Schneider, Church History

In alternating between Adventism's past and its present as both historians and sociologists of religion, the authors have combined an astonishing command of their sources with a penetrating, interpretive vision. – Jonathan M. Butler, Spectrum

A provocative and penetrating account of a complicated and remarkably little-known movement. – Eileen Barker; Sociological Analysis

Based on the best of historical and sociological methodology, the book is also such a good read that many people have found it hard to put down. – Richard Osborn, Journal of Adventist Education

The most informed study of Adventism. – Harold Bloom, The American Religion

A fascinating historical study ... wryly detached about Adventism, but affectionate too. – Jonathan Ree, New Left Review

To most students of American religion, Adventism also seems too insignificant to merit much attention. Seeking a Sanctuary offers an extensive and comprehensive analysis of Seventh-day Adventism, casting light on this marginal religion through its socio-historical context. The book gives an accurate, up-to-date account of all aspects of Adventist belief and practice and provides a framework within which the complexities of the Adventist tradition can be understood. This revised second edition is no longer a book based primarily on official and scholarly publications; it also includes material drawn from the popular culture of the church, and it makes use of a wealth of statistical data previously unavailable or unexploited.

Religion & Spirituality / Judaism / Bible & Sacred Texts

Essential Torah: A Complete Guide to the Five Books of Moses by George Robinson (Schocken)

When New York film critic Robinson began attending synagogue – something he had not done since his adolescence – he found himself confused. His vain search for a printed guide led him to write Essential Judaism, a well-received primer on Jewish customs, rituals, history and worship. The success of that one-volume handbook to Jewish practice in turn led Robinson to produce this manual on the Torah and what Jews believe. Writing in colloquial and accessible English, Robinson effectively, and sometimes entertainingly, shows why the five books of Moses constitute the basis for Judaism, Christianity and Islam. … – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Acclaimed author George Robinson's Essential Torah marks the first publication of a comprehensive, single-volume, user-friendly guide to the Hebrew Bible for both beginners and advanced students. Robinson, film critic for the New York Jewish Week and a contributor to the forthcoming revised edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica, author of the acclaimed Essential Judaism, begins by recounting the various theories of the origins of the Torah and goes on to explain its importance as the core element in Jewish belief and practice. He discusses the basics of Jewish theology and Jewish history as they are derived from the Torah, and he outlines how the Dead Sea Scrolls and other archaeological discoveries have enhanced our understanding of the Bible. He introduces readers to the vast literature of biblical commentary, chronicles the evolution of the Torah’s place in the synagogue service, offers an illuminating discussion of women and the Bible, and provides a study guide as a companion for individual or group Bible study. In Essential Torah’s centerpiece, Robinson summarizes all fifty-four portions that make up the Torah and gives readers a brilliant distillation of two thousand years of biblical commentaries – from the rabbis of the Mishnah and the Talmud to medieval commentators such as Rashi, Maimonides, and ibn Ezra to contemporary scholars such as Nahum Sarna, Nechama Leibowitz, Robert Alter, and Everett Fox.

Essential Torah is really that – an essential and excellent tool for both students and teachers who want a way in to the sacred text and all that it holds. – Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, author of The Women's Torah Commentary and The Women's Haftarah Commentary

Essential Torah … will undoubtedly be of interest, help, and guidance to non-Jews and Jews alike. It does an excellent job for the audience it attempts to reach. Recommended. – Library Journal

Essential Torah … offers the most context, the most interpretation, the most interest. … – The Jewish Week

George Robinson has written a magnificent volume, whose appeal will be to a sophisticated reader eager for insight and understanding. Essential Torah is more than a guide to the Pentateuch. It is a compendium of literary history, cultural anthropology, ancient wisdom, medieval commentary, and modern insight. The Torah text for Robinson becomes a pretext for instruction into the entire gamut of Jewish religious thought and practice. He leaves very few stones unturned, and he leads as a master teacher, exploring every facet of a vast tradition. This is text analysis at its greatest. – Rabbi David M. Posner, Ed. D., Senior Rabbi, Temple Emanu-El, New York City
… Robinson has written a sophisticated yet accessible book that will appeal to both laypeople and academic readers. I highly recommend it for adult education and introduction to Judaism courses. – Rabbi David Ellenson, president, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
George Robinson excels as both a writer and a scholar. He opens up the Torah and makes it accessible in fresh and exciting ways. Both experts and neophytes will find much here to enjoy and to ponder. – Professor Jace Weaver, Department of Religion, University of Georgia
The most comprehensive and balanced book on the subject I know. You will find anything you need to know here, from a discussion of divine authorship to a recipe for kosher ink. – Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Whether readers are thinking about studying the Bible for the first time or they are simply curious about its history and contents, they will find everything they need in Essential Torah. This extraordinary volume, brilliant and illuminating – which includes a listing of the Torah reading cycles, a Bible timeline, glossaries of terms and biblical commentators, and a bibliography – will stand as the essential sourcebook on the Torah for years to come.

Religion & Spirituality / Judaism / Mysticism

From Chaos to Harmony: The Solution to the Global Crisis According to the Wisdom of Kabbalah by Michael Laitman (Kabbalah Publishers)

The difference between how we now sense life, and the sensing of life that we can feel, is enormous. . . . The Book of Zohar compares it to the difference between the glow of a tiny candle and the radiance of infinite light. – from the book

Kabbalah has charmed many a man and woman throughout the generations. Some of those enchanted were pioneers in their own fields: Newton, Leibnitz, and Goethe are but some of those great innovators. From Chaos to Harmony combines principles of the ancient wisdom of Kabbalah with science's latest discoveries to present a coherent formula with which readers can explore a new and higher realm of life.

According to Kabbalist and teacher Rav Michael Laitman, a process that started five millennia ago is culminating today. Thousands of years ago, humanity was united. People were one with Nature and with each other. But in those days, Nature had distinguished humans from all other creations by giving them egoism. Nurturing their egoism ever since, they have grown farther and farther from Nature and from each other. Then, five thousand years ago, a group of people discovered a set of hidden principles by which the ego could be used constructively, to promote man and Nature alike. They called their method ‘The Wisdom of Kabbalah,’ whose principles advocated unity and wholeness over the growing egoism.

Laitman says that the principles of Kabbalah offer a solution to the global crisis at every level: personal, social, and environmental. From Chaos to Harmony tells readers how humanity can learn to use Nature's hidden principles, enabling all to transcend to new levels of peace and fulfillment. According to Laitman, changing our attitude toward others will restore balance and harmony in all of nature and make our lives safer and happier. From Chaos to Harmony outlines a path for achieving joy and harmony in this lifetime. It takes readers from not knowing why they are unhappy, to understanding the root of their unhappiness and what is required to restore happiness.

By clarifying the root of the present global crisis, and introducing the means to correct it, Laitman gives readers a simple means of correction: our thoughts: "When we build a correct attitude toward society, we are gradually admitted into a whole new level of existence, superior to anything we've known before."

In From Chaos to Harmony the world's foremost Kabbalist reveals how readers can come to experience lasting fulfillment on both personal and collective levels, by learning Nature's law of love and harmony. Laitman demonstrates with examples from science and Kabbalah that the ego stands behind human suffering. With clear analyses of the human soul and its problems, the book provides a roadmap. From Chaos to Harmony is a must for anyone who wants to take immediate control over his or her destiny and discover the source of infinite happiness.

Social Sciences / Gerontology / Outdoors & Nature

New Dynamics in Old Age: Individual, Environmental and Societal Perspectives  edited by Hans-Werner Wahl, Clemens Tesch-Römer, & Andreas Hoff (Society and Aging Series: Baywood Publishing Company, Inc.)

The study of aging is itself dynamic, continually on the move – addressing enduring questions and mounting a search for elusive solutions. . . . Wahl, Tesch-Römer and Hoff have assembled a world-class cadre of insightful scholars from both sides of the Atlantic, and they represent some of the best thinking available on the interlocking and overlapping levels of analysis of the aging experience. – from the preface by Jon Hendricks, Oregon State University Corvallis, OR

New Dynamics in Old Age was nurtured by the belief that the new dynamics of today's and tomorrow's aging has not yet been treated well in the gerontology literature. According to editors Hans-Werner Wahl, professor of psychological aging research at the Institute of Psychology, University of Heidelberg and co-editor-in-chief of the European Journal of Ageing; Clemens Tesch-Römer, director of the German Centre of Gerontology in Berlin and adjunct professor at the Free University of Berlin; and Andreas Hoff, James Martin Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute of Ageing, University of Oxford, several questions drove the choice of substance for the book: What kind of new dynamics of aging deserves consideration? What kinds of theories and fields are at the core of treating such a new dynamics? And, what kind of empirical evidence should be considered?

The master hypothesis on which New Dynamics in Old Age is based maintains that the new dynamics of old age is best observed in a range of everyday aging contexts that have been undergoing major change since the second half of the 20th century. In particular, five areas of new and persistent dynamics are treated in depth: (1) the social environment, with a focus on cohort effects in social relations and the consideration of family relations and elders as care receivers; (2) the home environment, with emphasis on housing and quality of life, relocation, and urban aging issues; (3) the outdoor environment, with consideration of out-of-home activity patterns, car-driving behavior, and the leisure world of aging; (4) the technological environment, with treatments of the role of the Internet and the potential of technology for aging outcomes; and (5) the societal environment, with a focus on global aging, the new politics of old age, and older persons as market consumers.

New Dynamics in Old Age has the following contents:

PART I: Introduction

  • Searching for the New Dynamics in Old Age – A Book Opener – Hans-Werner Wahl, Clemens Tesch-Römer, and Andreas Hoff
  • The Social Construction of Age and the Experience of Aging in the Late Twentieth Century – Christine L. Fry
  • Changes in Physical and Mental Function of Older People: Looking Back and Looking Ahead – Kenneth G. Manton and XiLiang Gu

PART II: New and Persistent Dynamics Regarding the Social Environment

  • Cohort Differences in Social Relations Among the Elderly – Kristine J. Ajrouch, Hiroko Akiyama, and Toni C. Antonucci
  • Family Relations and Aging – Substantial Changes since the Middle of the Last Century? – Andreas Hoff and Clemens Tesch-Römer
  • Elders as Care Receivers: Autonomy in the Context of Frailty – Steven H. Zarit and Elizabeth R. Braungart

PART III: New and Persistent Dynamics Regarding the Home Environment

  • The Impact of Housing on Quality of Life: Does the Home Environment Matter Now and Into the Future? – Laura N. Gitlin
  • Beyond the Relation Trauma in Old Age: New Trends in Elders' Residential Decisions – Frank Oswald and Graham D. Rowles
  • Aging in a Difficult Place: Assessing the Impact of Urban Deprivation on Older People - Thomas Scharf, Chris Philippson, and Allison Smith

PART IV: New and Persistent Dynamics Regarding the Outdoor Environment

  • Always on the Go? Older People's Outdoor Mobility Today and Tomorrow: Findings from Three European Countries – Heidrun Mollenkopf, Isto Ruoppila, and Fiorella Marcellini
  • Does Driving Benefit Quality of Life Among Older Drivers? – Karlene K. Ball, Virginia G. Wadley, David E. Vance, and Jerri D. Edwards
  • The New Leisure World of Modern Old Age: New Aging on the Bright Side of the Street? – Franz Kolland

PART V: New and Persistent Dynamics Regarding the Technology Environment

  • The Potential Influence of the Internet on the Transition to Older Adulthood – Sara J. Czaja and Chin Chin Lee
  • When Will Technology in the Home Improve the Quality of Life for Older Adults? – Anne-Sophie Melenhorst, Wendy J. Rogers, and Arthur D. Fisk
  • Technology and Chronic Conditions in Later Years: Reasons for New Hope – William C. Mann and Sumi Helal

PART VI: New and Persistent Dynamics in the Societal Environment

  • New Aging and New Policy Responses: Reconstructing Gerontology in a Global Age – Chris Phillipson
  • The New Politics of Old Age – Alan Walker
  • Productivity in Old Age in Labor and Consumption Markets – The German Case – Gerhard Naegele, Vera Gerling, and Karin Scharfenorth

PART VII: New Challenges

  • Separating the Local and the General in Cross-Cultural Aging Research – Svein Olav Daatland and Andreas Motel-Klingebiel
  • Plasticity in Old Age: Micro- and Macroperspectives on Social Contexts – Eva-Marie Kessler and Ursula M. Staudinger

New Dynamics in Old Age provides the scholarly gerontology community with a comprehensive and critical discussion of these new trends related to old age. It will be of use in gerontology: sociology, psychology, demography, epidemiology, humanities, social policy, and geriatrics; students in gerontology education; professionals in such fields as community and urban planning; healthcare providers; and policymakers; and people involved in senior citizens' organizations; as well as businesses catering to older people.

Travel / Asia / Guidebooks

Fodor's Exploring India, 4th Edition (Exploring Guides) by Fodor's, Fiona Dunlop (Fodor’s Travel Publications)

… It is a country that invites contemplative visiting, and one whose soul takes time to absorb. So woe to this guide-researcher, propelled ever onwards by the demands of encompassing the entire sweep.

Luckily, humanity here is great, not just in size but in quality. … For in no other country in the world have I had such deeply abstract conversations. It was the Indians, after all, who invented the concept of zero over 2,000 years ago. Aeons of Hindu rumination have permeated Muslims, Buddhists and Christians alike, creat­ing an analytical predisposition that easily flips over into ironic humour. Yet dynamism is there too, in the will to survive of a ragged boy sweeping the railway-carriage, in the ploys of hardened stall-holders in the bazaars and in the equanimity of a woman transporting her worldly pos­sessions on the crowded night-train to war-torn Kashmir. And then there are the IT supremos, the Bollywood cariachires and, of course, the bureaucrats. India is infinite. Sugar-sweet movie ghazals (songs) crackle from transistor radios, heady perfumes drift from floral garlands, unidentifiable thali flavours subtly assault the palate, Mughal palace-forts loom on the horizon, Rajasthan women-workers in bright saris flash dazzling smiles, incense billows in staggeringly crafted temples, and exhaust fumes envelop the passengers of auto-rickshaws roaring through the cities. India is a drug in itself. I shall be back again, next time to truly roam. – from the book

Fodor's Exploring India, written by Fodor’s experienced travel writer, Fiona Dunlop, beckons readers to discover cultural and historical treasures, pastimes and pleasures with full-color photos, illustrations, and maps. The guidebook covers history and culture, architecture and art, providing ratings for top sights, scenic walks and drives, regional cuisine and lodging, as well as tips for every budget, and guidance on getting there and getting around.

The sections “India Is”, “India Was” discuss aspects of life in modern India and place the country in its historical context, exploring past events whose influences are still felt.

The ‘India Is’ section discusses India as a subcontinent and a democracy. It then covers and illustrates ritual, the Hindu trinity, architecture, crafts, music and dance, festivals, wildlife and food, and information technology.  The ‘India Was’ section discusses and illustrates the Indus Valley, Ashoka, the Classical Age, the Southern dynasties, the Northern dynasties, the Delhi Sultanate, the Mughals, British expansion, the British Raj, and independence.

Generous of spirit, land, culture and people, India is in a state of flux. Freedom, democracy and tolerance are its treasures, but are under pressure: India's population will soon overtake China's. From mountains to plains, coasts to deserts, the subcontinent presents a staggering density of humanity, and an extraordinary variety of forms, color and history.

Caste distinctions are deeply embedded in Indian society. In the past, relative social backwardness led the dalits (lower castes) to suffer discrimination in silence. Today, with a marked absence of central ideological leadership, India is experiencing the rise of the dalits both in government and in militant ethnic groups.

With the world's highest mountains to the north and the Indian Ocean washing its coasts, India undergoes the extreme weather cycles of the monsoon winds. For three months of the year they bring essential rains that sometimes swell into devastating floods. If they fail, there is drought, although the tragic famines of only a few decades ago are being avoided because the infrastructure is better.

Within this immense territory of over 3 million sq km (1,158,000 sq miles) – a third of the size of the USA, 13 times larger than the UK, live around a billion souls, fatalistic and fervent, Hindu and Muslim, peasant and industrialist, rich and poor. No other nation is such a dazzling kaleidoscope of humanity.

According to Fodor's Exploring India, dust, poetry, sweat, human misery, splendor, belief: these are just some of the threads that have combined to make India over the last 5,000 years or so. Deeply woven into the tapestry are the shadows of past invaders: Greeks, Turks, Persians, Afghanis, Portuguese and British – all left their mark on the social fabric and psyche. In the background rise minarets, domes, impregnable forts, churches, palaces and extravagant railway stations, each pointing to a cultural priority that may or may not have endured. What has remained, despite the horrors of partition that saw the world's greatest migrations, is a mesmerizing multi-culturalism.

The section “A-Z” in Fodor's Exploring India breaks down the country into regional chapters, and covers places to visit. Within this section fall the “Focus On” articles, which consider a variety of topics in greater detail. Delhi focuses on new Delhi, old Delhi, the new Delhi museums and Sir Edwin Lutyens. The Northwest including Gujarat and Rajasthan focuses on textiles, tigers and Rajput style. The North, including Western Himalayas focuses on the Ganges and Tibetan refugees. The Northeast, including Calcutta, the Eastern Himalayas and Orissa focuses on the Tagores, Buddha's enlightenment and the troubled states. The Center: Mumbai focuses on the last Nizam and poverty. The South focuses on the Portuguese legacy, Keralan backwaters, Ayurvedic medicine, the Hoysala temples, and the Goddess.

The “Travel Facts” section contains practical information that is vital for a successful trip. “Hotels and Restaurants” recommends establishments in India, giving a brief summary of their attractions. Most places described in Fodor's Exploring India have been given a separate rating: Do not miss, Highly recommended, and Worth seeing.

Most travel guides are either beautiful or practical. This one is both. – New York Daily News

Beautiful . . . and the depth of text is impressive. – San Diego Union-Tribune

Authoritatively written and superbly presented... worthy reading before, during or after a trip. – Philadelphia Inquirer

Concise, comprehensive, and colorful. – Washington Post

Absolutely gorgeous, fun, colorful, and sophisticated. – Chicago Tribune

Fodor's Exploring India – the guidebook provides exceptional coverage of history and culture, architecture and art. Looking through the book, one feels the quality of the visual presentation, the grandeur of India, the fact that by the fourth edition, authors and editors have had time to make it great. And the photography in the book is exceptional, serving as a souvenir after the trip.

Travel / History / Middle East / Israel / Social Sciences / Culture / Geography

Tel Aviv: Mythography of a City by Maoz Azaryahu (Space, Place & Society Series: Syracuse University Press)

As an Israeli Jew and a longtime resident of Tel Aviv who has lived most of his adult life in different neighborhoods of the old center of Tel Aviv, and who is both a local patriot and a skeptic, I understand Tel Aviv through the combined perspectives of resident, commentator, and researcher. On one level, my interest in the city refers to the rather banal aspects and experiences that are part of my own and my family's daily life. On another level, my in­terest expresses a longstanding quest to decipher and make sense of Tel Aviv. – from the book

Founded in 1909 as a ‘garden suburb’ of the Mediterranean port of Jaffa, Tel Aviv soon became a model of Jewish self-rule and was celebrated as a jewel in the crown of Hebrew revival. Over time the city has transformed into a lively metropolis, renowned for its architecture and culture, openness and vitality. A young city about to celebrate its 100th anniversary, a city which in 2003 was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in recognition of its architectural distinction, the mythic Tel Aviv continues to represent a fundamental idea that transcends the physical texture of the city and the everyday experiences of its residents.

Combining historical research and cultural analysis, Maoz Azaryahu, associate professor of geography at the University of Haifa in Israel, in Tel Aviv explores the different myths that have been part of the vernacular and perception of the city. He relates Tel Aviv’s mythology to its physicality through buildings, streets, personal experiences, and municipal policies. Azaryahu explores three distinct stages in the history of the mythic Tel Aviv: "The First Hebrew City" assesses Tel Aviv as Zionist vision and seed of the actual city; "Non-Stop City" depicts trendy, global post-Zionist Tel Aviv; and "The White City" describes Tel Aviv’s architectural landscape, created in the 1930s and imbued with nostalgia and local prestige. 

Tel Aviv's underlying assumption is that cities have a mythic dimension. Even when no explicit reference to myth is made, the mythic dimension of cities has been examined by historians investigating the cultural history of particular cities and by geographers and sociologists interested in urban ideology, imagery, and representations. These studies suggest that exploring and deciphering this dimension may provide useful knowledge about how people make sense of cities and negotiate their meaning(s) in the realm of culture, where different and possibly even contradictory ideas, images, and reputations reign.

Focusing on the historical mythography of Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv suggests the mythic city as an object of historical analysis. In this sense, Tel Aviv figures as a case study of the mythic city. An historical analysis emphasizes the particular and the specific at the expense of the general and the universal. Tel Aviv's significance in Zionist history and in Israeli culture has been evident in popular books and academic studies on the city and its early history. In recent years, new studies have examined hitherto unexplored aspects of the city's history in general and of its cultural history in particular. To a certain extent, they have shed light on some aspects of the three predominant themes in the making of mythic Tel Aviv. Yet no attempt has been made to document and analyze these themes systematically as distinct phases of the mythic Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv is based on Azaryahu’s work Tel Aviv: The Real City, which was published in Hebrew in 2005. It recapitulates the main arguments of the Hebrew book, though with some significant changes, emphasizing additional aspects or dimensions of the mythic Tel Aviv in different periods and in different contexts.

Chapter 2 presents the conceptual and analytical framework of the book by expanding on myth and the mythic city. The aim of this chapter is twofold: to shed light on some features of myth pertinent to the mythic city and to introduce the mythic city and elaborate on some of its properties.

Parts 1, 2, and 3 of Tel Aviv elaborate on particular themes and aspects of the mythic Tel Aviv. "The Real Tel Aviv," the concluding chapter, in part 4, introduces some new insights about fundamental features of the mythic Tel Aviv and draws attention to certain motifs that have persisted over time in different contexts and forms.

Part 1 explores the First Hebrew City as a conceptualization of Tel Aviv in terms of an original Zionist creation within a framework of national revival. Founded in 1909 as a neighborhood of Jaffa and pronounced a city in 1934, Tel Aviv was indeed the first Jewish city to be built in the framework of the Zionist settlement project. The designation In its mythic capacity, the First Hebrew City designated an obligation to the Zionist vision it embodied, and this obligation was shared, at least nominally, by the overwhelming majority of the Jewish populace, which consisted mainly of Ashkenazi Jews (Jews of eastern and middle European origin). It is notable that all elected members of the municipal council of the First Hebrew City represented different Zionist parties.

Investigation into the First Hebrew City places the thematic analysis within a chronological framework, which facilitates the identification of evolutionary processes.

Part 2 concerns the Nonstop City. The slogan ‘Tel Aviv a Nonstop City’ was invented by an advertising agency in 1989 and was almost immediately recognized as a succinct characterization of Tel Aviv. On the level of myth, the Nonstop City was dynamic, hedonistic, suave, and characteristically secular, with nightlife a fundamental element of its constitution. The construction and design of the Nonstop City was performed mainly in Tel Aviv's local weeklies, which made their debut in the 1980s. As written and reported about, the Nonstop City represented a quest and celebrated a fan­tasy: Tel Aviv as a metropolis, a local variation on the global, World City theme.

In this capacity, the Nonstop City corresponded to and resonated with the aspiration of molding Tel Aviv into an up-to-date, trendy city that was, if not on a par, at least in line with New York. At the same time, it differentiated itself from the rest of Israel in terms of what it had to offer and its associated cultural orientation. The name ‘Nonstop City’ expressed the self-awareness of a ‘new Tel Aviv-ness,’ the antithesis of Israeli provincialism. On another level of cultural ‘isolationism,’ it represented the cultural orientation and value system of an ‘enlightened’ elite, which felt its traditional position of political and cultural power threatened by new forces within Israeli society. In this mythic sense, the Nonstop City offered more than just a vibrant nightlife – in contrast to the rest of the country – but also an essentially secular, liberal, and tolerant vision.

Part 3 explores specific issues pertaining to the characterization of Tel Aviv as an ultimately modern and secular city. Up to a point, this aspect of the mythic Tel Aviv is also explored in the first two parts of Tel Aviv. What distinguishes the third part is the detailed examination of specific thematic and geographic aspects of the mythic city that pertain to its conception as essentially modern and secular.

The first chapter in this part, chapter 9, explores the mythologization of the White City. In particular, it expounds on the transformation of a rather casual reference to the color white as a visual feature of the city into a metaphor and subsequently into a brand name celebrating the architectural heritage of the International Style (a.k.a. Bauhaus) in Tel Aviv. As a historical reference to a modernist architectural style, the White City was created in the 1930s. As the current phase of the mythic Tel Aviv, celebrating a phase in its architectural history in terms of urban heritage and the obligation to conserve it, the White City was ‘rediscovered’ in the 1980s. This phase of the mythic Tel Aviv is permeated with nostalgia, wherein the White City of Tel Aviv represents the city's architectural heritage in the built landscape and the modernist legacy associated with it.

Chapter 10 outlines the cultural history of the beach. Beginning in the 1920s, the beach emerged as a prominent aspect of the Tel Aviv experience. In this capacity, it contributed greatly to the image of Tel Aviv as a fun-loving and easy-going city. The discussion addresses the ‘appropriation’ of the beach by the populace and its transformation into a popular site of recreation and leisure activities. It also discusses the efforts to ‘improve the seashore’ in terms of architecture and urban development.

At the center of chapter 11 is the symbolic rivalry between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as representative of different Zionist values and national visions. The analysis offers commentaries on and interpretations of the differences between Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa, the main urban centers of Jewish Palestine.

Chapter 12 examines the mythic texture of Kikar Rabin, or Rabin Square, Tel Aviv's city square. Built in the mid-1960s, the square was designed to serve as the city's civic center. Patriotic celebrations, entertainment events, and political demonstrations cast the meaning of the square in a mold of culturally shared experiences and memories. The assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin there in 1995 at the end of a political demonstration was a traumatic event in Israel's political history. In its wake, the square acquired commemorative functions and became impregnated with national memory. Bestowing Rabin's name on the square, which was originally called the Kings of Israel Square, was more than merely a commemorative gesture because it endowed Tel Aviv with a sacred dimension that contradicted its self-image as a secular and rationalist city.

Much weight in Tel Aviv is given to the written aspects of the mythic city, which are presented in the form of direct quotations. Such quotations are evocative of the language of the period and its zeitgeist in general. However, they are more than mere illustrations of the arguments put forward in the analysis; they also introduce the authentic building materials of the mythic city.

Tel Aviv originated in a rather simple question that led Azaryahu to explore and to reconstruct the mythic Tel Aviv. The result is a historical orthography of a city officially founded in 1909, but which is still shrouded in the mystique of its recent founding and up to the present day is engaged in making sense of itself. The book offers an innovative approach to understanding the cultural history of Tel Aviv by exploring the mythical dimension and texture of the city. With critical insight, Azaryahu evaluates specific myths and their propagation in the spheres of official and popular culture. The book will appeal to urban geographers, cultural historians, scholars of myth and students of Israeli society and culture.

Travel / History / World / U.S. / Reference

Moose Crossing: Portland to Portland on the Theodore Roosevelt International Highway by Max J. Skidmore (Hamilton Books)

In February 1919, in memory of the recent passing of President Theodore Roosevelt, a group of civic leaders began the planning of a monumental road – the Theodore Roosevelt International Highway. Spanning more than four thousand miles, the highway connected Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, through the most northern states and Ontario, Canada. Boasting seascapes and lake views, mountain vistas, and a breathtaking drive through the awesome Columbia River Gorge, the Theodore Roosevelt International Highway (TRIH) was the northernmost of the few transcontinental roads available in the 1920s and 30s and soon became an important route for the up-and-coming automobile. No other route has duplicated the Highway's variety and scenic grandeur or done more to encourage travel.

Moose Crossing is the story of Theodore Roosevelt and the highway he inspired. It is a story of how Max J. Skidmore, University of Missouri Curator's Professor of Political Science and Thomas Jefferson Fellow at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, unearthed the remnants of America's most fascinating auto trail and experienced it all the way from Portland to Portland. As Skidmore tells it, America was mired in the mud – never mind that the new twentieth century was beginning. Never mind that the young Theodore Roosevelt soon would assume the presidency and become its most vigorous occupant ever. America's roads, or what passed for roads, fell far short of the standard set by the Roman Empire millennia before.

Like its president, America was bursting with energy. Its people already had conquered the continent, and now they wanted to explore their own vast country. Trains were available for those who could afford them, but in most cases there were no practical alternatives to rail. More often than not the country's primitive paths were challenging even for horse-drawn wagons. Few people wanted to waste valuable time plodding along for great distances in a nineteenth-century conveyance. The Machine Age had arrived.

For that most compelling of new machines, the automobile, roads in the United States were much worse than for wagons. Much of the time they were completely useless. That meant to restless Americans that the situation was impossible. Progress was movement. ‘Impassible’ meant ‘unacceptable.’

Outside of cities and their surroundings, roads of any quality at all remained rare until well into the 1920s. West of Chicago, even gravel was a welcome treat. The country raced its collective engines, but eager motorists often bogged down as soon as they left the city. One explorer kept a diary of his trans-continental trip in 1925, and recorded nineteen flat tires – in one day.

Still, in spite of the hardships and actual dangers – or perhaps because of them – the restless American desire for speed and adventure meant that opportunities were waiting.

The year 1913 saw the first of the transcontinental routes – or at least the first feasible road that aspired to be transcontinental. That was the Lincoln Highway. The New York to San Francisco route was the brainchild of Carl Fisher, who had built the Indi­anapolis Motor Speedway. He proposed a ‘Coast-to-Coast Rock Highway.’ Within a month he had accumulated a million dollars in pledges. He failed, however, to receive the support of the man most important to the project, Henry Ford.

Instead of Ford, Fisher found his supporter in Henry B. Joy, President of the Packard Motor Car Company, and in 1913, The Lincoln Highway project began. Hokanson noted "a total of nine named transcontinental highways in some way deserving of the title, including the Lincoln," by 1922. The Theodore Roosevelt International Highway was the only one of these with an international component.

Daredevils began to set records for coast-to-coast drives. Newspapers eagerly reported their results. Articles describing a mere journey from one coast to the other could bring fat fees from magazines whose readers devoured their tales of adventure on the open road. A common ritual involved dipping the auto's tires in the Atlantic, and then at the other end, in the Pacific – although the tires were not the same ones that had begun the trip.

Speed records kept falling until legal limits and law enforcement discouraged the efforts. Hokanson outlined the contests, which auto companies generally sponsored as promotions. Packard President Joy took twenty-one days to drive from Detroit to San Francisco in 1915. Only one year later, by contrast, Bobby Hammond drove there from New York in six days, ten hours, and fifty-nine minutes. The transcontinental record had fallen by 1925 to four days, fourteen hours.

Drivers even now would be hard-pressed to duplicate the coast-to-coast round trip times of these intrepid pioneers, today's high-speed automobiles and Interstate Highways notwithstanding. Certainly it would be difficult to match them legally. The speed-demon era, though, was brief. Except for remnants on race tracks, restricting laws and the new fascination with an even faster machine, the airplane transferred most speed contests to the sky.

Long before the Interstates, though, attitudes had matured, and roads had become utilitarian. They developed steadily, and they brought unprecedented freedom and mobility. At the time, they seemed all to the good, but along with them came other consequences that hardly anyone anticipated – unwanted consequences. All the while they were opening the West for mass travel, they were closing that West as Americans had known it.

With all their contradictions, it seems especially fitting that one of the major arter­ies emerged as a memorial to Theodore Roosevelt. Moose Crossing is the story of that highway, of the President whose memory inspired it, and of the memories that the highway itself has left. It also is an account of the experiences that the highway continues to offer, despite having lost its identity, and a justification for re-kindling memory of that highway as a whole.

Until the spring of 1996, Skidmore had never heard of the TRIH. He was driving across the Continental Divide near Glacier National Park and noticed a roadside area containing a 60-foot obelisk. The monument was dedicated to Theodore Roosevelt, commemorating his contributions to conservation, and also the completion of the final link in the TR International Highway. According to a sign, "The Theodore Roosevelt International highway extends 4,060 miles from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, by way of Ontario, Canada."

Skidmore’s discovery of the TRIH gave him the opportunity to contribute to the literature. It re-kindled his interest in following a historic road that would take him through a great variety of regions. He set out to learn all he could about it – its history, its route, the politics behind it – and found that he had to dig deeply.

Skidmore found that the TRIH was a major artery with great significance to the development of ground transportation in the United States. Its international segment gave it an added dimension. In addition, the TR Highway was the largest memorial to the man who without doubt was the most dynamic President in American history. It deserves to be remembered on all these counts.

So he turned his attention to the Highway, and also to the man whose name it bore. He discusses his presidency and his outstanding life in the final chapter of Moose Crossing.

Moose Crossing is one of those especially valuable books because it cruises in three lanes concurrently. It is solid history, geography, and democratic culture . . . and fascinating all the way. As we used to say, “Happy Motoring”. – Ray Browne, Professor Emeritus, Popular Culture, Bowling Green University

Moose Crossing is a magnificent travelogue rich in regional history and popular culture. Skidmore's narrative of what he experienced, whom he met, the mix of natural wonders, and roadside kitsch he encountered, embellished by the cultural and political heritage of the regions he passed through, transforms primary historiography into a superb travel narrative. The best I can do is compare it to Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck's 1961 Travels with Charley. Skidmore's Moose Crossing is far superior. – Roger Fischer, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Minnesota-Duluth

By studying the TRIH, Skidmore in Moose Crossing uncovers something of true historical significance that had been nearly forgotten through the years. The book will be of particular interest to libraries, highway departments, museums, state geographers, highway historians, historical societies, collectors of memorabilia, and driving enthusiasts.

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