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Pulitzer Prize
2012
The orphan master's son : a novel
Click to search this book in our catalog   Adam Johnson.

Publishers Weekly Johnson's novel accomplishes the seemingly impossible: an American writer has masterfully rendered the mysterious world of North Korea with the soul and savvy of a native, from its orphanages and its fishing boats to the kitchens of its high-ranking commanders. While oppressive propaganda echoes throughout, the tone never slides into caricature; if anything, the story unfolds with astounding empathy for those living in constant fear of imprisonment-or worse-but who manage to maintain their humanity against all odds. The book traces the journey of Jun Do, who for years lives according to the violent dictates of the state, as a tunnel expert who can fight in the dark, a kidnapper, radio operator, tenuous hero, and foreign dignitary before eventually taking his fate into his own hands. In one of the book's most poignant moments, a government interrogator, who tortures innocent citizens on a daily basis, remembers his own childhood and the way in which his father explained the inexplicable: "...we must act alone on the outside, while on the inside, we would be holding hands." In this moment and a thousand others like it, Johnson (Parasites Like Us) juxtaposes the vicious atrocities of the regime with the tenderness of beauty, love, and hope. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Imagine a society in which the official political story tells only of happiness and prosperity, yet personal experience reveals the opposite. Imagine the resulting internal dissonance and the ways in which people might reconcile such opposing forces. This is the experience offered by Johnson (Parasites Like Us) in his novel of modern-day North Korea. Following the path of the hero's journey, young Pak Jun Do moves from an orphanage into a life of espionage, kidnapping, and torture, only to be given a new identity as the husband of the Dear Leader's favorite actress. With references to the classic American film Casablanca, Johnson's narrative portrays his hero as he makes his way through a minefield of corruption and violence, eventually giving his all so that his loved ones might have a better life. VERDICT Readers who enjoy a fast-paced political thriller will welcome this wild ride through the amazingly conflicted world that exists within the heavily guarded confines of North Korea. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 8/15/11.]-Susanne Wells, M.L.S., Indianapolis (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* Pak Jun Do lives with his father at a North Korean work camp for orphans. In a nation in which every citizen serves the state, orphans routinely get the most dangerous jobs. So it is for Jun Do, who becomes a tunnel soldier, trained to fight in complete darkness in the tunnels beneath the DMZ. But he is reassigned as a kidnapper, snatching Japanese citizens with special skills, such as a particular opera singer or sushi chef. Failure as a kidnapper could lead directly to the prison mines. But in Johnson's fantastical, careening tale, Jun Do manages to impersonate Commander Ga, the country's greatest military hero, rival of Dear Leader Kim Jong Il and husband of Sun Moon, North Korea's only movie star. Informed by extensive research and travel to perhaps the most secretive nation on earth, Johnson has created a remarkable novel that encourages the willing suspension of disbelief. As Jun Do, speaking as Ga, puts it, people have been trained to accept any reality presented to them. Johnson winningly employs different voices, with the propagandizing national radio station serving as a mad Greek chorus. Descriptions of everyday privations and barbarities are matter of fact, and Jun Do's love for Sun Moon reads like a fairy tale. Part adventure, part coming-of-age tale, and part romance, The Orphan Master's Son is a triumph on every level.--Gaughan, Thomas Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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2012
Devil in the grove : Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the dawn of a new America
Click to search this book in our catalog   Gilbert King.

Publishers Weekly In July 1949, four black men in Florida (the "Groveland Four") were accused of raping a white woman. By the time Marshall joined the case in August, one of the defendants-who had fled into the swamps-had been "lawfully killed." After a trial of the remaining three, two were sentenced to death, and one to life imprisonment. On Marshall's appeal, the Supreme Court ordered a new trial for the two on death row, though both men were shot while being transported between prisons before the second trial began, and only one survived. Using unredacted Groveland FBI case files and the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund files, journalist King (The Execution of Willie Francis: Race, Murder, and the Search for Justice in the American South) revisits an oft-overlooked case, with its accuser, whose testimony was patently false; defendants, who suffered terribly as a consequence; local police officials and lawyers who persecuted and prosecuted them; and their lawyers, who showed remarkable courage and perseverance in seeking justice. The story's drama and pathos make it a page-turner, but King's attention to detail, fresh material, and evenhanded treatment of the villains make it a worthy contribution to the history of the period, while offering valuable insight into Marshall's work and life. Agent: Farley Chase, the Waxman Literary Agency. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice This account of the Groveland Four, defendants in the 1949 Jim Crow-era rape case, sheds new light on the fate of four African American men. King shows the lengths to which Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund went to defend them, and to which Lake County, Florida, Sheriff Willis McCall and his deputies, prosecutors, and jurors went to enforce race-based justice. Drawing on FBI investigation files and personal papers of key NAACP lawyers, King elucidates the gendered and racial assumptions that denied the Groveland Four a fair trial and that justified arson, bombings, beatings, and murder to uphold southern racial mores. The case reached the US Supreme Court, which ordered a new trial for two of the defendants, who were then shot under suspicious circumstances. One defendant, Walter Irvin, survived, and his death sentence was commuted. King demonstrates that no rape likely occurred, and the examining physician's testimony was deliberately excluded from both trials. Set against the Cold War and on the eve of the Brown case, this saga illustrates that equal justice under law was honored in the breach in the post-WW II South. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. E. R. Crowther Adams State College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Library Journal Seasoned journalist King (The Execution of Willie Francis: Race, Murder, and the Search for Justice in the American South) has written an arresting account of Thurgood Marshall's role as a prominent civil rights attorney in challenging racist "justice" in the South. King vividly renders the horrors perpetrated by a racist legal system and its odious representatives-principally, Lake County, FL, Sheriff Willis McCall, who was responsible for the 1949 arrest and unjust prosecution of four young black men, designated "the Groveland Boys." In this case, Marshall and the NAACP pursued every legal remedy to save the lives of these young men falsely accused of rape by a white woman, whose preposterous story went unquestioned by authorities. At great personal risk, Marshall tenaciously challenged the hegemony of McCall, eventually bringing to an end the racist reign of terror in Lake County and drawing it and its underlying mentality to national attention. VERDICT A powerful snapshot of history and the man who made it, certain to appeal to readers of Hampton Sides's Hellhound on His Trail: The Electrifying Account of the Largest Manhunt in American History.-Lynne F. Maxwell, Villanova Sch. of Law Lib., PA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list In 1951 Thurgood Marshall had already begun the Brown v. Board of Education case when he took on an explosive case to save the only survivor of the Groveland Four, young black men wrongfully accused of raping a white woman in central Florida. The young woman, estranged from her husband, concocted a rape accusation involving two black men recently returned from military service and two other, unrelated men. One of the accused was killed by a vigilante mob. After a reversal of their convictions, as they faced a retrying of the case, two others were killed by the sheriff charged with protecting them. King draws on court documents and FBI archives to offer a compelling chronicle of the accusation, which led to a paroxysm of violence against the black community in Groveland, reminiscent of the destruction of Rosewood, in 1923; brutal beatings that led to forced confessions; and the dramatic trial. Marshall, physically exhausted and facing threats to his life, was housed, fed, and protected by a black community encouraged by his presence as he battled to save the life of the last remaining member of the Groveland Four.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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2012
The Black Count : glory, revolution, betrayal, and the real Count of Monte Cristo
Click to search this book in our catalog   Tom Reiss ; [maps by David Lindroth Inc.].

Library Journal Confronted with the surname Dumas, most readers are likely to think of Alexandre Dumas, author of such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. But in The Black Count, Reiss (The Orientalist) explores the life of the writer's father, a man of mixed racial and cultural heritage, born in Saint-Domingue to a slave mother (her last name was Dumas) and a French aristocrat. His father brought him to France, where, because of his tremendous courage and physical gifts, he rose through the ranks of the French military under Napoleon to become a general. He was taken prisoner of war when his ship returning to France from Cairo was captured near Sicily, and he died five years later, when his son was not yet four. Reiss seeks to demonstrate the great effect of the elder Dumas on his son's fiction, inspiring many of the characters and situations in those works. VERDICT While Reiss occasionally strays from the central narrative with an abundance of tangential detail regarding the French Revolution, this accessible read is recommended for fans of popular narrative nonfiction as well as for both casual and serious students of French history, and of the younger Dumas's work.-Ben Neal, Sullivan Cty. P.L., Bristol, TN. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Alex Dumas, an extraordinary man whose sensational life had been largely lost to history solely because of his race, takes the spotlight in this dynamic tale. Thanks to Reiss's excellent research, combined with the passionate memorial his son, Alexandre Dumas, consistently built in his own novels and memoir, Dumas's life has been brought back to light. Father to the well-known novelist and clear inspiration for The Count of Monte Cristo, as well as the adventurous spirit of The Three Musketeers and other stories, Dumas (1762-1806) rose through the ranks of the French army from a lowly private in the dragoons to become a respected general who marched into Egypt at Napoleon's side. (The rivalry and juxtaposition between these two leaders proves fascinating.) Born in what is now Haiti to a French nobleman father and a slave mother, the biracial Dumas chanced to come of age during the French Revolution, a brief period of equality in the French empire; he was thus granted numerous opportunities that the son of a slave 20 years before him (or even 20 years later) would not have enjoyed. Reiss capitalizes on his subject's charged personality as well as the revolutionary times in which he lived to create an exciting narrative. Agent: Tina Bennett, Janklow & Nesbit. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list The inspiration for some of the great adventure tales of Alexandre Dumas has long been a subject of curiosity and debate. According to Reiss, the inspiration for the great novel of intrigue, betrayal, and revenge, The Count of Monte Cristo, was Dumas' own father, General Alexandre Alex Dumas. In this often thrilling and often sad chronicle, Reiss makes clear that Alex lived a life as full of adventure, triumph, and tragic loss as any of his son's literary creations. He was born in Haiti, the child of an enslaved mother and an erratic French aristocrat who briefly sold his son into slavery. Despite the obvious and immense political and racial obstacles in his path, Alex found his way to Paris, became a skilled swordsman, and rose rapidly in the reorganized army of the French Republic, where he served admirably during Napoleon's invasions of Egypt. Unfortunately, like his literary counterpart, Edmond Dantes, Alex incurred the hostility of powerful people, leading to his fall from grace and eventual impoverishment. This is an absorbing biography that should redeem its subject from undeserved obscurity.--Freeman, Jay Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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2011
The swerve : how the world became modern
 Stephen Greenblatt.

Book list Literary scholar Greenblatt focuses on Lucretius, ancient Roman author of the brilliant and beautiful didactic poem On the Nature of Things, which challenged the authority of religion, and papal counselor and book hunter Poggio Bracciolini, whose recovery of a copy of the subversive text a millennium and a half later added momentum to the Renaissance and shaped the world we call modern. Lucretius, Greenblatt reminds, was a radical figure very much ahead of his time. Many of his insights for example, that everything is made of invisible particles of matter that are constantly in motion have been borne out by modern science. Others, such as the idea that religions are defined by cruelty and superstition, remain hotly controversial to this day. Vatican humanist Bracciolini, about whom we know quite a bit more, if not quite enough, may in the end be the more interesting personality. He knew what he had found, but did he know what it meant? Do we? A fascinating, intelligent look at what may well be the most historically resonant book-hunt of all time.--Driscoll, Brenda. Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly In this gloriously learned page-turner, both biography and intellectual history, Harvard Shakespearean scholar Greenblatt (Will in the World) turns his attention to the front end of the Renaissance as the origin of Western culture's foundation: the free questioning of truth. It hinges on the recovery of an ancient philosophical Latin text that had been neglected for a thousand years. In the winter of 1417 Italian oddball humanist, smutty humorist, and apostolic secretary Poggio Bracciolini stumbled on Lucretius' De rerum natura. In an obscure monastery in southern Germany lay the recovery of a philosophy free of superstition and dogma. Lucretius' "On the Nature of Things" harked back to the mostly lost works of Greek philosophers known as atomists. Lucretius himself was essentially an Epicurean who saw the restrained seeking of pleasure as the highest good. Poggio's chance finding lay what Greenblatt, following Lucretius himself, terms a historic swerve of massive proportions, propagated by such seminal and often heretical truth tellers as Machiavelli, Giordano Bruno, and Montaigne. We even learn the history of the bookworm-a real entity and one of the enemies of ancient written-cultural transmission. Nearly 70 pages of notes and bibliography do nothing to spoil the fun of Greenblatt's marvelous tale. 16 pages of color illus. (Sept. 19) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Library Journal In this outstandingly constructed assessment of the birth of philosophical modernity, renowned Shakespeare scholar Greenblatt (Cogan University Professor of English & American Literature & Language, Harvard; Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare) deftly transports readers to the dawn of the Renaissance, when in 1417 bibliophile Poggio Bracciolini uncovered the Roman poet and philosopher Titus Lucretius Carus's Epicurean work, On the Nature of Things, in the dusty confines of a German monastery. After lying dormant for centuries, Lucretius's "atomist" philosophy reemerged, promoting the joys of this world over the punishments and rewards of the next, gradually conquering humanist circles and influencing such luminaries as More, Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Newton. At the heart of Lucretius's Latin verse lies the core argument that by understanding the world around us, abandoning superstitious delusions, and coming to grips with humanity's insignificance, we begin to take ownership of our lives and set out on the pursuit of happiness. VERDICT Greenblatt's masterful account transcends Poggio's significant discovery to encompass a diversity of topics including the Roman book trade, Renaissance Florence, and the Catholic Church's attempts to deal with heresy and schism. Students and general readers from across the humanities will find this enthralling account irresistible. [See Prepub Alert, 3/21/11.]-Brian Odom Pelham P.L., AL (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2011
George F. Kennan : an American life
 John Lewis Gaddis.

Book list *Starred Review* Diplomat and historian Kennan (1904-2005) cooperated with this biography that in its documentary thoroughness and lucidity about his enigmatic, fragile personality must stand as the definitive portrait. Of undoubted brilliance in his adulthood, Kennan throughout his life was acutely sensitive, solitary, often pessimistic, but ultimately philosophical an outlook encapsulated in his Around the Cragged Hill (1993). The youthful sources of those traits Gaddis roots in feelings of abandonment provoked by the premature death of Kennan's mother, in testing experiences in military school and Princeton University, and in rapidly maturing appreciations for the behaviors of governments, his own and others, while he was a young foreign service officer in the 1920s and 1930s. An inveterate diarist and letter writer, Kennan probably deluged Gaddis with his interior life, which seemed beset by self-doubt and despair over matters personal (Kennan apparently had several affairs) and public. Apart from the years 1946-50, politicians ignored his advice and prophecies on world politics, but within that window, Kennan was uniquely influential as the enunciator of containment policy toward the Soviet Union during the early Cold War. The work of an eminent historian of that very subject, Gaddis' biography is doubly significant and a new essential in any reading, recreational or scholarly, in the history of American foreign policy.--Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly No one is better suited than Gaddis to write this authorized biography of George F. Kennan: the noted Yale cold war historian had total access to Kennan's papers as well as to his family members and associates-Kennan so trusted his biographer that he remarked, "write [the book], if you will, on the confident assumption that no account need be taken of my own reaction... either in this world or the next." Through his privileged relationship with Kennan, Gaddis reveals the man behind the public persona as an agonized and fragile individual who often felt alienated from the U.S. and his fellow citizens, despite his tireless service to his country. In addition to the intimacies of the work, Gaddis offers critical analyses of Kennan's key roles as diplomat, policy maker, and scholar of Russian history. Unsurpassed in his strategic vision during the cold war, Kennan is credited with being responsible for much of America's eventual victory, and therein lies the impetus behind this remarkable biography. Adroitly managed (if occasionally barnacled with extraneous facts), Gaddis's work is a major contribution to Kennan's legacy and the history of American foreign policy. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal George F. Kennan (1904-2005) exerted a profound influence on the conduct of American foreign policy, especially during the years of the Cold War. His famous 1947 Foreign Affairs article, "Sources of Soviet Conduct," published under the pseudonym X, laid the theoretical groundwork for "containing" the Soviet Union in those hectic and dangerous postwar years. As Kennan's authorized biographer, Gaddis (The Cold War: A New History)-himself one of our most distinguished diplomatic historians-had unfettered access to Kennan's diaries and personal papers. The result is a nearly 800-page book with by far the most sophisticated and nuanced examination of Kennan's remarkable contributions to our nation during his lengthy life. Gaddis's portrayal of Kennan's personal life is more workmanlike, with less nuance. VERDICT Gaddis has crafted an in-depth study of Kennan as a thinker and practicing diplomat. The focus on Kennan as foreign policy maker will not trouble most scholars of the diplomatic arts, but for the average reader the level of detail may prove more burdensome. Highly recommended for Cold War scholars and for all library collections, alongside Nicholas Thompson's more personal The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War. [See Prepub Alert, 5/2/11.]-Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2011 (Fiction)
A Visit From The Goon Squad
 Jennifer Egan
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2011 (Nonfiction)
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
Click to search this book in our catalog   Siddhartha Mukherjee

Publishers Weekly Mukherjee's debut book is a sweeping epic of obsession, brilliant researchers, dramatic new treatments, euphoric success and tragic failure, and the relentless battle by scientists and patients alike against an equally relentless, wily, and elusive enemy. From the first chemotherapy developed from textile dyes to the possibilities emerging from our understanding of cancer cells, Mukherjee shapes a massive amount of history into a coherent story with a roller-coaster trajectory: the discovery of a new treatment-surgery, radiation, chemotherapy-followed by the notion that if a little is good, more must be better, ending in disfiguring radical mastectomy and multidrug chemo so toxic the treatment ended up being almost worse than the disease. The first part of the book is driven by the obsession of Sidney Farber and philanthropist Mary Lasker to find a unitary cure for all cancers. (Farber developed the first successful chemotherapy for childhood leukemia.) The last and most exciting part is driven by the race of brilliant, maverick scientists to understand how cells become cancerous. Each new discovery was small, but as Mukherjee, a Columbia professor of medicine, writes, "Incremental advances can add up to transformative changes." Mukherjee's formidable intelligence and compassion produce a stunning account of the effort to disrobe the "emperor of maladies." (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* Apparently researching, treating, and teaching about cancer isn't enough of a challenge for Columbia University cancer specialist Mukherjee. He was also moved to write a biography of a disease whose name, for millennia, could not be uttered. The eminently readable result is a weighty tale of an enigma that has remained outside the grasp of both the people who endeavored to know it and those who would prefer never to have become acquainted with it. An unauthorized biography told through the voices of people who have lived, toiled, and, yes, died under cancer's inexorable watch. Mukherjee recounts cancer's first known literary reference hence its birth, so to speak in the teachings of the Egyptian physician Imhotep in the twenty-fifth century BCE, in which it is clear that Imhotep possessed no tools with which to treat what appears to be breast cancer. His cryptic note under Therapy: There is none. Throughout cancer's subsequent years, many more physicians and scientists with names both familiar and obscure attempted and occasionally succeeded in deciphering or unlocking keys to many of the disease's mysteries. Alas, this is not a posthumous biography, but it is nonetheless a surprisingly accessible and encouraging narrative.--Chavez, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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2011 (Biography))
Washington: A Life
Click to search this book in our catalog   Ron Chernow

Library Journal In this cradle-to-grave biography of the Founding Father, notable biographer Chernow (Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller) thoroughly recounts how Washington rose to prominence in the French and Indian War, parlayed that early heroism into international fame as general of the Continental army during the American Revolution, and, as America's first President, unified a young nation and shaped its government-and he offers deeper explorations of, for example, Washington's cold relationship with his mother, his heavy reliance on younger devotees such as Alexander Hamilton and the Marquis de Lafayette, and his contradictory actions regarding slavery. Chernow's Washington is a reluctant celebrity who perpetually tries to retire from national service but refuses to turn his back on an embryonic republican country struggling with its newfound freedom. The narrative relies heavily on Washington's papers, but Chernow also liberally cites other primary sources and previous biographies. While objective for the most part, he occasionally offers well-grounded opinions on Washington's character and political and military actions. VERDICT This broadly and deeply researched work is a major addition to Washington scholarship-every era should have its new study of him-and it should appeal to informed lay readers and undergraduates interested in stepping beyond the typical textbook treatment.-Douglas King, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* With so much that can be said and said positively about this magisterial biography, it is difficult not to write a review as long as the book itself. Given the distinction of the author, who wrote, among other single and collective biographies, the glowingly reviewed Alexander Hamilton (2004), readers can safely assume from the outset that what lies ahead of them is a vastly enlightening, overwhelmingly engaging treatment of a great man. The subject of the book needs only, by way of identification, the one word that Chernow uses as his title: Washington. Another book on Washington? is a question rendered pointless by this one, which happens to be the author's masterpiece. Definitive Washington is the point and effect of this biography. Our first president is thought of as more marble statue than living, hurting, loving human; however, Chernow's Washington stands not in the opposite corner as hot-blooded and animated. Washington spent a lifetime practicing control of his passions and emotions; his innate virtues, undenied and even celebrated here, were sharpened and focused by the man's suppression of a natural volatility. His gift of silence and of inspired simplicity, as the author so aptly terms Washington's strongest suits, supported his consequent leadership as general and as president.--Hooper, Brad Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Choice This is the best of recent Washington biographies, but it still comes up short of exposing the whole man. Although judiciously weighing in on some foibles, the book continues the hagiographic tradition. Chernow clearly depicts family life, plantation management, and slaves. Less satisfying are Washington's relationships with men of his officer corps, which are very revealing to anyone who cares to investigate this area. There are significant gaps--for example, in analysis of the politics of command, Washington's role in the French and Indian War, and the war of attrition in New Jersey (winter and spring 1777). The author is too apologetic of the few not so brilliant military decisions, such as at the Battle of Monmouth. Chernow is given to rounding off and overgeneralizing his evaluations, of which in-depth research would have afforded more sharp edges. A fertile field pertaining to Washington's great disdain for the common soldier awaits researchers. The real Washington still demands a diligent and objective biographer. Meanwhile, this large volume has enlightening moments and is entertaining. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels, general and academic. H. M. Ward emeritus, University of Richmond

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2010 (Fiction)
Tinkers
Click to search this book in our catalog   Paul Harding
 
2010 (Nonfiction)
The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy
 David E. Hoffman
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2010 (Biography))
The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
 T.J. Stiles
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2009 (Fiction)
Olive Kitteridge
 Elizabeth Strout.
Library Journal : In her third novel, New York Times best-selling author Strout (Abide with Me) tracks Olive Kitteridge's adult life through 13 linked stories. Olive—a wife, mother, and retired teacher—lives in the small coastal town of Crosby, ME. A large, hulking woman with a relentlessly unpleasant personality, Olive intimidates generations of community members with her quick, cruel condemnations of those around her—including her gentle, optimistic, and devoted husband, Henry, and her son, Christopher, who, as an adult, flees the suffocating vortex of his mother's displeasure. Strout offers a fair amount of relief from Olive's mean cloud in her treatment of the lives of the other townsfolk. With the deft, piercing shorthand that is her short story—telling trademark, she takes readers below the surface of deceptive small-town ordinariness to expose the human condition in all its suffering and sadness. Even when Olive is kept in the background of some of the tales, her influence is apparent. Readers will have to decide for themselves whether it's worth the ride to the last few pages to witness Olive's slide into something resembling insight. For larger libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/07.]—Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI

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2009 (Nonfiction)
Slavery by another name : the re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II
Click to search this book in our catalog   Douglas A. Blackmon.
Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Wall Street Journal bureau chief Blackmon gives a groundbreaking and disturbing account of a sordid chapter in American history—the lease (essentially the sale) of convicts to commercial interests between the end of the 19th century and well into the 20th. Usually, the criminal offense was loosely defined vagrancy or even changing employers without permission. The initial sentence was brutal enough; the actual penalty, reserved almost exclusively for black men, was a form of slavery in one of hundreds of forced labor camps operated by state and county governments, large corporations, small time entrepreneurs and provincial farmers. Into this history, Blackmon weaves the story of Green Cottenham, who was charged with riding a freight train without a ticket, in 1908 and was sentenced to three months of hard labor for Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad, a subsidiary of U.S. Steel. Cottenham's sentence was extended an additional three months and six days because he was unable to pay fines then leveraged on criminals. Blackmon's book reveals in devastating detail the legal and commercial forces that created this neoslavery along with deeply moving and totally appalling personal testimonies of survivors. Every incident in this book is true, he writes; one wishes it were not so. (Mar.)

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2009 (Biography))
American lion : Andrew Jackson in the White House
Click to search this book in our catalog   Jon Meacham.
Publishers Weekly : Newsweek editor and bestselling author Meacham (Franklin and Winston) offers a lively take on the seventh president's White House years. We get the Indian fighter and hero of New Orleans facing down South Carolina radicals' efforts to nullify federal laws they found unacceptable, speaking the words of democracy even if his banking and other policies strengthened local oligarchies, and doing nothing to protect southern Indians from their land-hungry white neighbors. For the first time, with Jackson, demagoguery became presidential, and his Democratic Party deepened its identification with Southern slavery. Relying on the huge mound of previous Jackson studies, Meacham can add little to this well-known story, save for the few tidbits he's unearthed in private collections rarely consulted before. What he does bring is a writer's flair and the ability to relate his story without the incrustations of ideology and position taking that often disfigure more scholarly studies of Jackson. Nevertheless, a gifted writer like Meacham might better turn his attention to tales less often told and subjects a bit tougher to enliven. 32 pages of b&w photos. (Nov. 11)

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2008 (Fiction)
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Click to search this book in our catalog   Junot Diaz
Publishers Weekly : SignatureReviewed by Matthew SharpeAreader might at first be surprised by how many chapters of a book entitled The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao are devoted not to its sci fi–and–fantasy-gobbling nerd-hero but to his sister, his mother and his grandfather. However, Junot Diaz's dark and exuberant first novel makes a compelling case for the multiperspectival view of a life, wherein an individual cannot be known or understood in isolation from the history of his family and his nation.Oscar being a first-generation Dominican-American, the nation in question is really two nations. And Dominicans in this novel being explicitly of mixed Taíno, African and Spanish descent, the very ideas of nationhood and nationality are thoughtfully, subtly complicated. The various nationalities and generations are subtended by the recurring motif of fukú, the Curse and Doom of the New World, whose midwife and... victim was a historical personage Diaz will only call the Admiral, in deference to the belief that uttering his name brings bad luck (hint: he arrived in the New World in 1492 and his initials are CC). By the prologue's end, it's clear that this story of one poor guy's cursed life will also be the story of how 500 years of historical and familial bad luck shape the destiny of its fat, sad, smart, lovable and short-lived protagonist. The book's pervasive sense of doom is offset by a rich and playful prose that embodies its theme of multiple nations, cultures and languages, often shifting in a single sentence from English to Spanish, from Victorian formality to Negropolitan vernacular, from Homeric epithet to dirty bilingual insult. Even the presumed reader shape-shifts in the estimation of its in-your-face narrator, who addresses us variously as folks, you folks, conspiracy-minded-fools, Negro, Nigger and plataneros. So while Diaz assumes in his reader the same considerable degree of multicultural erudition he himself possesses—offering no gloss on his many un-italicized Spanish words and expressions (thus beautifully dramatizing how linguistic borders, like national ones, are porous), or on his plethora of genre and canonical literary allusions—he does helpfully footnote aspects of Dominican history, especially those concerning the bloody 30-year reign of President Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. The later Oscar chapters lack the linguistic brio of the others, and there are exposition-clogged passages that read like summaries of a longer narrative, but mostly this fierce, funny, tragic book is just what a reader would have hoped for in a novel by Junot Diaz.Matthew Sharpe is the author of the novels Jamestown and The Sleeping Father. He teaches at Wesleyan University.

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2008 (Nonfiction)
The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945
 Saul Friedlander
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2008 (Biography)
Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father
 John Matteson
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2007 (Fiction)
The road
 Cormac McCarthy
Library Journal: Starred Review. Winner of the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, McCarthy (All the Pretty Horses) here offers a prescient account of a man and his son trying to survive in a devastated country where food is scarce and everyone has become a scavenger. The term survival of the fittest rings true here—very few people remain, and friends are extinct. Essentially, this is a story about nature vs. nurture, commitment and promises, and though there aren't many characters, there is abundant life in the prose. We are reminded how McCarthy has mastered the world outside of our domestic and social circles, with each description reading as if he had pulled a scene from the landscape and pasted it in the book. He uses metaphors the way some writers use punctuation, sprinkling them about with an artist's eye, showing us that literature from the heart still exists. Recommended for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/06.]—Stephen Morrow, Columbus, OH

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Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Violence, in McCarthy's postapocalyptic tour de force, has been visited worldwide in the form of a "long shear of light and then a series of low concussions" that leaves cities and forests burned, birds and fish dead and the earth shrouded in gray clouds of ash. In this landscape, an unnamed man and his young son journey down a road to get to the sea. (The man's wife, who gave birth to the boy after calamity struck, has killed herself.) They carry blankets and scavenged food in a shopping cart, and the man is armed with a revolver loaded with his last two bullets. Beyond the ever-present possibility of starvation lies the threat of roving bands of cannibalistic thugs. The man assures the boy that the two of them are "good guys," but from the way his father treats other stray survivors the boy sees that his father has turned into an amoral survivalist, tenuously attached to the morality of the past by his fierce love for his son. McCarthy establishes himself here as the closest thing in American literature to an Old Testament prophet, trolling the blackest registers of human emotion to create a haunting and grim novel about civilization's slow death after the power goes out. 250,000 announced first printing; BOMC main selection.(Oct.)

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2007 (Nonfiction)
The looming tower
Click to search this book in our catalog   Lawrence Wright
Library Journal: Wright (fellow, Ctr. on Law & Security, NYU Sch. of Law; Twins) goes back—way back—to 1948 to dissect the personal influences and political radicalization that would lead to al Qaeda's attack on America. Delving into the tangled roots of Egyptian political dissenters, he carefully draws out the biographical background of Osama bin Laden's number two man, Dr. Ayman-al-Zawahir, who was notable for being implicated in the plot to assassinate Anware Sadat and later became a key figure in Islamist groups as he allied with bin Laden. The matter-of-fact story of the founding of al Qaeda is almost an afterthought as Wright's narrative follows bin Laden in his business and terrorist ventures from Saudi Arabia to Sudan to Afghanistan. A chilling counterpoint to the story of this growing organization is what little attention was paid to the trickle of information that made its way to Western intelligence agencies. While illustrating the CIA and FBI responses, or lack thereof, to the emerging threat of Islamist terrorism, Wright attempts to tie in an important law-enforcement figure, John O'Neill. At one time a counterterrorism agent for the FBI who deeply understood the global nature of bin Laden's threat, O'Neill ironically perished on 9/11 at the World Trade Center. The thrust of O'Neill's story, however, does not merge well with the rest of the book (for a closer look at O'Neill, see Murray Weiss's The Man Who Warned America). However, Wright's research is exemplary, including dozens of primary-source interviews and first-person perspectives, and he provides welcome insight into the time line leading up to 9/11. Recommended for large libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/06.]—Elizabeth Morris, Illinois Fire Svc. Inst. Lib., Champaign—Elizabeth Morris, Illinois Fire Svc. Inst. Lib., Champaign Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Wright, a New Yorker writer, brings exhaustive research and delightful prose to one of the best books yet on the history of terrorism. He begins with the observation that, despite an impressive record of terror and assassination, post–WWarII, Islamic militants failed to establish theocracies in any Arab country. Many helped Afghanistan resist the Russian invasion of 1979 before their unemployed warriors stepped up efforts at home. Al-Qaeda, formed in Afghanistan in 1988 and led by Osama bin Laden, pursued a different agenda, blaming America for Islam's problems. Less wealthy than believed, bin Laden's talents lay in organization and PR, Wright asserts. Ten years later, bin Laden blew up U.S. embassies in Africa and the destroyer Cole, opening the floodgates of money and recruits. Wright's step-by-step description of these attacks reveals that planning terror is a sloppy business, leaving a trail of clues that, in the case of 9/11, raised many suspicions among individuals in the FBI, CIA and NSA. Wright shows that 9/11 could have been prevented if those agencies had worked together. As a fugitive, bin Ladin's days as a terror mastermind may be past, but his success has spawned swarms of imitators. This is an important, gripping and profoundly disheartening book. (Aug.)

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2007 (Biography)
The most famous man in America
Click to search this book in our catalog   Debby Applegate
2006 (Fiction)
March
Click to search this book in our catalog   Geraldine Brooks
Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Brooks's luminous second novel, after 2001's acclaimed Year of Wonders, imagines the Civil War experiences of Mr. March, the absent father in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. An idealistic Concord cleric, March becomes a Union chaplain and later finds himself assigned to be a teacher on a cotton plantation that employs freed slaves, or "contraband." His narrative begins with cheerful letters home, but March gradually reveals to the reader what he does not to his family: the cruelty and racism of Northern and Southern soldiers, the violence and suffering he is powerless to prevent and his reunion with Grace, a beautiful, educated slave whom he met years earlier as a Connecticut peddler to the plantations. In between, we learn of March's earlier life: his whirlwind courtship of quick-tempered Marmee, his friendship with Emerson and Thoreau and the surprising cause of his family's genteel poverty. When a Confederate attack on the contraband farm lands March in a Washington hospital, sick with fever and guilt, the first-person narrative switches to Marmee, who describes a different version of the years past and an agonized reaction to the truth she uncovers about her husband's life. Brooks, who based the character of March on Alcott's transcendentalist father, Bronson, relies heavily on primary sources for both the Concord and wartime scenes; her characters speak with a convincing 19th-century formality, yet the narrative is always accessible. Through the shattered dreamer March, the passion and rage of Marmee and a host of achingly human minor characters, Brooks's affecting, beautifully written novel drives home the intimate horrors and ironies of the Civil War and the difficulty of living honestly with the knowledge of human suffering.

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School Library Journal: Adult/High School–In Brooks's well-researched interpretation of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, Mr. March also remains a shadowy figure for the girls who wait patiently for his letters. They keep a stiff upper lip, answering his stiff, evasive, flowery letters with cheering accounts of the plays they perform and the charity they provide, hiding their own civilian privations. Readers, however, are treated to the real March, based loosely upon the character of Alcott's own father. March is a clergyman influenced by Thoreau, Emerson, and especially John Brown (to whom he loses a fortune). His high-minded ideals are continually thwarted not only by the culture of the times, but by his own ineptitude as well. A staunch abolitionist, he is amazingly naive about human nature. He joins the Union army and soon becomes attached to a hospital unit. His radical politics are an embarrassment to the less ideological men, and he is appalled by their lack of abolitionist sentiments and their cruelty. When it appears that he has committed a sexual indiscretion with a nurse, a former slave and an old acquaintance, March is sent to a plantation where the recently freed slaves earn wages but continue to experience cruelty and indignities. Here his faith in himself and in his religious and political convictions are tested. Sick and discouraged, he returns to his little women, who have grown strong in his absence. March, on the other hand, has experienced the horrors of war, serious illness, guilt, regret, and utter disillusionment.–Jackie Gropman, Chantilly Regional Library, VA

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2006 (Nonfiction)
Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya
 Caroline Elkins
Library Journal: By analyzing primary sources—including archival material and interviews with hundreds of Kikuyu survivors as well as British and African loyalists, Elkins (history, Harvard Univ.) has unearthed a chilling account of colonial British detention camps and villages during the Mau Mau insurrection between 1952 and 1960. Her intense scholarly research has yielded empirical and demographic evidence that Britain distorted data regarding deaths and detainees and destroyed official records that might otherwise have been damaging to its image. Further findings reveal that a large number of women and children were not detained in the official camps but in about 800 enclosed villages surrounded by "spiked trenches, barbed wire, watchtowers, and patrolled by armed guards" and that during the insurrection, the British imposed their "authority with a savagery that betrayed a perverse colonial logic." This compelling account of the British colonial government's atrocities can be compared to Adam Hochschild's King Leopold's Ghost. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.—Edward McCormack, Univ. of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Lib., Long Beach

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Publishers Weekly: In a major historical study, Elkins, an assistant professor of history at Harvard, relates the gruesome, little-known story of the mass internment and murder of thousands of Kenyans at the hands of the British in the last years of imperial rule. Beginning with a trenchant account of British colonial enterprise in Kenya, Elkins charts white supremacy's impact on Kenya's largest ethnic group, the Kikuyu, and the radicalization of a Kikuyu faction sworn by tribal oath to extremism known as Mau Mau. Elkins recounts how in the late 1940s horrific Mau Mau murders of white settlers on their isolated farms led the British government to declare a state of emergency that lasted until 1960, legitimating a decade-long assault on the Kikuyu. First, the British blatantly rigged the trial of and imprisoned the moderate leader Jomo Kenyatta (later Kenya's first postindependence prime minister). Beginning in 1953, they deported or detained 1.4 million Kikuyu, who were systematically "screened," and in many cases tortured, to determine the extent of their Mau Mau sympathies. Having combed public archives in London and Kenya and conducted extensive interviews with both Kikuyu survivors and settlers, Elkins exposes the hypocrisy of Britain's supposed colonial "civilizing mission" and its subsequent coverups. A profoundly chilling portrait of the inherent racism and violence of "colonial logic," Elkins's account was also the subject of a 2002 BBC documentary entitled Kenya: White Terror. Her superbly written and impassioned book deserves the widest possible readership. B&w photos, maps.

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2006 (Biography)
American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer
 Kai Bird
Library Journal: Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in the life, career, achievements, and trials of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the "father" of the atomic bomb. In 2004, there were two new biographies by significant science writers—Jeremy Bernstein's Oppenheimer: Portrait of an Enigma and David C. Cassidy's J. Robert Oppenheimer and the American Century. In addition to this current title, another is scheduled for publication in 2005, Abraham Pais and Robert Crease's Shatterer of Worlds: A Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer. This collaboration between writer Bird and English professor Sherwin is an expansive but fast-paced and engrossing work that draws its strength from the insights provided into Oppenheimer's thoughts and motives and the many anecdotes. The book's five parts cover his youth and education, his early career and dalliance with communism, the Manhattan Project, his return to academe and growing political influence, and, finally, his dealings with the FBI and eventual retreat from public life. The emphasis throughout is on Oppenheimer's personality and how he navigated the sociopolitical minefields of the era, with relatively less discussion of his scientific work. For a readable and well-researched biography of the man, this suffices quite well. However, with so many other biographies available, not to mention histories of the Manhattan Project, it provides little new information here. For general readers in larger public and academic libraries.—Gregg Sapp, Science Lib., SUNY at Albany

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Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Though many recognize Oppenheimer (1904–1967) as the father of the atomic bomb, few are as familiar with his career before and after Los Alamos. Sherwin (A World Destroyed) has spent 25 years researching every facet of Oppenheimer's life, from his childhood on Manhattan's Upper West Side and his prewar years as a Berkeley physicist to his public humiliation when he was branded a security risk at the height of anticommunist hysteria in 1954. Teaming up with Bird, an acclaimed Cold War historian (The Color of Truth), Sherwin examines the evidence surrounding Oppenheimer's "hazy and vague" connections to the Communist Party in the 1930s—loose interactions consistent with the activities of contemporary progressives. But those politics, in combination with Oppenheimer's abrasive personality, were enough for conservatives, from fellow scientist Edward Teller to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, to work at destroying Oppenheimer's postwar reputation and prevent him from swaying public opinion against the development of a hydrogen bomb. Bird and Sherwin identify Atomic Energy Commission head Lewis Strauss as the ringleader of a "conspiracy" that culminated in a security clearance hearing designed as a "show trial." Strauss's tactics included illegal wiretaps of Oppenheimer's attorney; those transcripts and other government documents are invaluable in debunking the charges against Oppenheimer. The political drama is enhanced by the close attention to Oppenheimer's personal life, and Bird and Sherwin do not conceal their occasional frustration with his arrogant stonewalling and panicky blunders, even as they shed light on the psychological roots for those failures, restoring human complexity to a man who had been both elevated and demonized. 32 pages of photos not seen by PW. (Apr. 10)

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2005 (Fiction)
Gilead
 Marilynne Robinson
Publishers Weekly: Fans of Robinson's acclaimed debut Housekeeping (1981) will find that the long wait has been worth it. From the first page of her second novel, the voice of Rev. John Ames mesmerizes with his account of his life—and that of his father and grandfather. Ames is 77 years old in 1956, in failing health, with a much younger wife and six-year-old son; as a preacher in the small Iowa town where he spent his entire life, he has produced volumes and volumes of sermons and prayers, "[t]rying to say what was true." But it is in this mesmerizing account—in the form of a letter to his young son, who he imagines reading it when he is grown—that his meditations on creation and existence are fully illumined. Ames details the often harsh conditions of perishing Midwestern prairie towns, the Spanish influenza and two world wars. He relates the death of his first wife and child, and his long years alone attempting to live up to the legacy of his fiery grandfather, a man who saw visions of Christ and became a controversial figure in the Kansas abolitionist movement, and his own father's embittered pacifism. During the course of Ames's writing, he is confronted with one of his most difficult and long-simmering crises of personal resentment when John Ames Boughton (his namesake and son of his best friend) returns to his hometown, trailing with him the actions of a callous past and precarious future. In attempting to find a way to comprehend and forgive, Ames finds that he must face a final comprehension of self—as well as the worth of his life's reflections. Robinson's prose is beautiful, shimmering and precise; the revelations are subtle but never muted when they come, and the careful telling carries the breath of suspense. There is no simple redemption here; despite the meditations on faith, even readers with no religious inclinations will be captivated. Many writers try to capture life's universals of strength, struggle, joy and forgiveness—but Robinson truly succeeds in what is destined to become her second classic.

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2005 (Nonfiction)
Ghost Wars
Click to search this book in our catalog   Steve Coll
2005 (Biography)
de Kooning: An American Master
Click to search this book in our catalog   Mark Stevens
Publishers Weekly: This sweeping biography, 10 years in the making, chronicles in fastidious detail de Kooning's rise from his humble beginnings in Rotterdam to his fame as an abstract expressionist and his descent into alcoholism and Alzheimer's. Emigrating to New York in 1926, de Kooning (1904–1997) situated himself among fellow artists and role models like Arshile Gorky. In 1938, he met and later married painter Elaine Fried; the two remained married despite de Kooning's predilection for bed hopping. (An affair with Joan Ward resulted in a daughter, Lisa, and indeed, the authors spend more ink on de Kooning's womanizing than his art making.) In the early 1940s, de Kooning's work appeared in group shows; his first solo show was a commercial failure. The artist did not meet with real success until the 1950s, when his paintings Excavation and Woman 1 made him "first among equals" in the art world. Stevens, New York magazine's art critic, and Swan, a former senior arts editor at Newsweek, see in de Kooning's life the realization of classic stories—the triumph of the immigrant, the man consumed by his success, the nonexistence of life's second acts—and this comprehensive biography, which attempts to explain de Kooning's art through a careful catalogue of his personal life, is a must read for his admirers. Illus.

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2004 (Fiction)
The Known World
Click to search this book in our catalog   Edward P. Jones
 
2004 (Nonfiction)
Gulag: A History
 Anne Applebaum
Library Journal: Subsequent to Solzhenitsyn's landmark Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Applebaun, former Warsaw correspondent for the Economist and currently on the editorial staff at the Washington Post, has captured the full brutality and economic engine for the Soviet state that was the Gulag prison system. This book is perfectly timed to follow such recent works as Golfo Alexopoulos's Stalin's Outcasts: Aliens, Citizens, and the Soviet State 1926-1936. With a finely honed writer's skill, Applebaum thoroughly describes in minute detail the system of camps, the prisoners, camp administration, camp life, and Stalin's obsession with slave labor. "GULAG is an acronym, meaning Glavnoe Upravlenie Lagerei, or Main Camp Administration. Over time, the word `Gulag' has also come to signify not only the administration of the concentration camps but also the system of Soviet slave labor itself." Intellectually, Americans and Western Europeans know roughly what happened in the Soviet Union, but the crimes of Stalin do not inspire the same visceral reaction as do the crimes of the Third Reich. This first complete history of the Gulag system not only points out the similarities with the Nazis and their concentration camps but also puts Stalin and his Gulag on the same ghastly level. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-Harry Willems, Southeast Kansas Lib. Syst., Iola

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Publishers Weekly: Nearly 30 million prisoners passed through the Soviet Union's labor camps in their more than 60 years of operation. This remarkable volume, the first fully documented history of the gulag, describes how, largely under Stalin's watch, a regulated, centralized system of prison labor-unprecedented in scope-gradually arose out of the chaos of the Russian Revolution. Fueled by waves of capricious arrests, this prison labor came to underpin the Soviet economy. Applebaum, a former Warsaw correspondent for the Economist and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, draws on newly accessible Soviet archives as well as scores of camp memoirs and interviews with survivors to trace the gulag's origins and expansion. By the gulag's peak years in the early 1950s, there were camps in every part of the country, and slave labor was used not only for mining and heavy industries but for producing every kind of consumer product (chairs, lamps, toys, those ubiquitous fur hats) and some of the country's most important science and engineering (Sergei Korolev, the architect of the Soviet space program, began his work in a special prison laboratory). Applebaum details camp life, including strategies for survival; the experiences of women and children in the camps; sexual relationships and marriages between prisoners; and rebellions, strikes and escapes. There is almost too much dark irony to bear in this tragic, gripping account. Applebaum's lucid prose and painstaking consideration of the competing theories about aspects of camp life and policy are always compelling. She includes an appendix in which she discusses the various ways of calculating how many died in the camps, and throughout the book she thoughtfully reflects on why the gulag does not loom as large in the Western imagination as, for instance, the Holocaust.

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2004 (Biography)
Khrushchev: The Man and His Era
 William Taubman
Library Journal : There has been a surprising paucity of information produced about the baby boomers' biggest bogeyman. During the 1960s, Khrushchev's bluster and missile rattling jangled the nerves of a generation of Americans fearing a nuclear holocaust. Khrushchev's antics and methods provided the basis for Soviet behavior for the next 20 years and sowed the seeds of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Taubman (political science, Amherst Coll.; Stalin's America Policy, Moscow Spring) has produced a massive biography that is both psychologically and politically revealing. According to Taubman, Khrushchev's rise in the Bolshevik party and patronage by Stalin can be partially laid to Stalin's diminutive stature. Though only 5'6", he still towered comfortably over Khrushchev at 5'1". Drawing on newly opened archives, Taubman threads together all the unanswered questions that Americans have, e.g., why did Khrushchev de-Stalinize Russia, and was Khrushchev himself implicated in Stalin's terrors? The shoe-banging incident, the Berlin Wall, Sputnik, and the Cuban Missile Crisis are all woven together with the accuracy of an academic and the style of a writer. Recommended for all public, academic, and special libraries.-Harry Willems, Southeast Kansas Lib. Syst., Iola

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Publishers Weekly : Amherst College political science professor Taubman's thorough and nuanced account is the first full-length American biography of Khrushchev-and will likely be the definitive one for a long time. Russians, Taubman explains, are still divided by Khrushchev's legacy, largely because of the great contradiction at the heart of his career: he worked closely with Stalin for nearly 20 years, approved thousands of arrests and executions, and continued to idolize the dictator until the latter's death. Yet it was Khrushchev who publicly revealed the enormity of Stalin's crimes, denounced him, and introduced reforms that, Taubman argues, "allowed a nascent civil society to take shape"-eventually making way for perestroika. Taubman untangles the fascinating layers of deception and self-deception in Khrushchev's own memoir, weighing just how much the leader was likely to have known about the purges and his own culpability in them. He also shows that shadows of Stalinism lingered through Khrushchev's 11 years in power: his fourth-grade education left him both awed and threatened by the Russian intelligentsia, which he persecuted; intending to de-escalate the Cold War, the mercurial, blustering first secretary ended up provoking dangerous standoffs with the U.S. The bumbling, equivocal speeches quoted here make Khrushchev seem a rank amateur in international affairs-or, as Taubman politely puts it, he had trouble "thinking things through." Working closely with Khrushchev's children, and interviewing his surviving top-level Central Committee colleagues and aides, Taubman has pieced together a remarkably detailed chronicle, complete with riveting scenes of Kremlin intrigue and acute psychological analysis that further illuminates some of the nightmarish episodes of Soviet history. 32 pages of photos not seen by PW.

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2003 (Fiction)
Middlesex
 Jeffrey Eugenides
Publishers Weekly : As the Age of the Genome begins to dawn, we will, perhaps, expect our fictional protagonists to know as much about the chemical details of their ancestry as Victorian heroes knew about their estates. If so, Eugenides (The Virgin Suicides) is ahead of the game. His beautifully written novel begins: "Specialized readers may have come across me in Dr. Peter Luce's study, 'Gender Identity in 5-Alpha-Reductase Pseudo<->her<->maphro<->dites.' " The "me" of that sentence, "Cal" Stephanides, narrates his story of sexual shifts with exemplary tact, beginning with his immigrant grandparents, Desdemona and Lefty. On board the ship taking them from war-torn Turkey to America, they married-but they were brother and sister. Eugenides spends the book's first half recreating, with a fine-grained density, the Detroit of the 1920s and '30s where the immigrants settled: Ford car factories and the tiny, incipient sect of Black Muslims. Then comes Cal's story, which is necessarily interwoven with his parents' upward social trajectory. Milton, his father, takes an insurance windfall and parlays it into a fast-food hotdog empire. Meanwhile, Tessie, his wife, gives birth to a son and then a daughter-or at least, what seems to be a female baby. Genetics meets medical incompetence meets history, and Callie is left to think of her "crocus" as simply unusually long-until she reaches the age of 14. Eugenides, like Rick Moody, has an extraordinary sensitivity to the mores of our leafier suburbs, and Cal's gender confusion is blended with the story of her first love, Milton's growing political resentments and the general shedding of ethnic habits. Perhaps the most wonderful thing about this book is Eugenides's ability to feel his way into the girl, Callie, and the man, Cal. It's difficult to imagine any serious male writer of earlier eras so effortlessly transcending the stereotypes of gender. This is one determinedly literary novel that should also appeal to a large, general audience.

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School Library Journal: Adult/High School-From the opening paragraph, in which the narrator explains that he was "born twice," first as a baby girl in 1960, then as a teenage boy in 1974, readers are aware that Calliope Stephanides is a hermaphrodite. To explain his situation, Cal starts in 1922, when his grandparents came to America. In his role as the "prefetal narrator," he tells the love story of this couple, who are brother and sister; his parents are blood relatives as well. Then he tells his own story, which is that of a female child growing up in suburban Detroit with typical adolescent concerns. Callie, as he is known then, worries because she hasn't developed breasts or started menstruating; her facial hair is blamed on her ethnicity, and she and her mother go to get waxed together. She develops a passionate crush on her best girlfriend, "the Object," and consummates it in a manner both detached and steamy. Then an accident causes Callie to find out what she's been suspecting-she's not actually a girl. The story questions what it is that makes us who we are and concludes that one's inner essence stays the same, even in light of drastic outer changes. Mostly, the novel remains a universal narrative of a girl who's happy to grow up but hates having to leave her old self behind. Readers will love watching the narrator go from Callie to Cal, and witnessing all of the life experiences that get her there.-Jamie Watson, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore

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2003 (Nonfiction)
A Problem From Hell
Click to search this book in our catalog   Samantha Power
Publishers Weekly : Power, a former journalist for U.S. News and World Report and the Economist and now the executive director of Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights, offers an uncompromising and disturbing examination of 20th-century acts of genocide and U.S responses to them. In clean, unadorned prose, Power revisits the Turkish genocide directed at Armenians in 1915-1916, the Holocaust, Cambodia's Khmer Rouge, Iraqi attacks on Kurdish populations, Rwanda, and Bosnian "ethnic cleansing," and in doing so, argues that U.S. intervention has been shamefully inadequate. The emotional force of Power's argument is carried by moving, sometimes almost unbearable stories of the victims and survivors of such brutality. Her analysis of U.S. politics what she casts as the State Department's unwritten rule that nonaction is better than action with a PR backlash; the Pentagon's unwillingness to see a moral imperative; an isolationist right; a suspicious left and a population unconcerned with distant nations aims to show how ingrained inertia is, even as she argues that the U.S. must reevaluate the principles it applies to foreign policy choices. In the face of firsthand accounts of genocide, invocations of geopolitical considerations and studied and repeated refusals to accept the reality of genocidal campaigns simply fail to convince, she insists. But Power also sees signs that the fight against genocide has made progress. Prominent among those who made a difference are Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew who invented the word genocide and who lobbied the U.N. to make genocide the subject of an international treaty, and Senator William Proxmire, who for 19 years spoke every day on the floor of the U.S. Senate to urge the U.S. to ratify the U.N. treaty inspired by Lemkin's work. This is a well-researched and powerful study that is both a history and a call to action. Photos.

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2003 (Biography)
Master of the Senate
Click to search this book in our catalog   Robert A. Caro
Library Journal : Lyndon Johnson's 12 years in the Senate (1949-61) were his happiest years, according to his wife, Lady Bird Johnson. They are the subject of this long-awaited third volume of Caro's biography, following The Path to Power (1982) and Means of Ascent (1990). Johnson was indeed the master of the Senate, becoming the youngest elected majority leader after only one term. His ruthless fight for power, which Caro focused on in his previous books, is present here. However, his goals, Caro notes, were not only selfish: he led the fight to break the reactionary Southern bloc, which allowed for the passage of the 1957 Civil Rights Act. This watered-down voting rights bill was significant as the first civil rights bill passed in 80 years, setting the precedent for the major civil rights legislation passed during Johnson's presidency. Caro praises Johnson as a great champion of all people of color and devotes much of the book to his evolution from an active participant in the racist Southern Caucus to a true believer in civil rights. While Robert Dallek's two-volume Flawed Giant and Lone Star Rising remain the best scholarly appraisal of Johnson, no other author narrates as gracefully Johnson's complexities, contradictions, and the people and events that contributed to them. Highly recommended for all libraries. Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : As a genre, Senate biography tends not to excite. The Senate is a genteel establishment engaged in a legislative process that often appears arcane to outsiders. Nevertheless, there is something uniquely mesmerizing about the wily, combative Lyndon Johnson as portrayed by Caro. In this, the third installment of his projected four-volume life of Johnson (following The Path to Power and Means of Ascent), Caro traces the Texan's career from his days as a newly elected junior senator in 1949 up to his fight for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1960. In 1953, Johnson became the youngest minority leader in Senate history, and the following year, when the Democrats won control, the youngest majority leader. Throughout the book, Caro portrays an uncompromisingly ambitious man at the height of his political and rhetorical powers: a furtive, relentless operator who routinely played both sides of the street to his advantage in a range of disputes. "He would tell us [segregationists]," recalled Herman Talmadge, "I'm one of you, but I can help you more if I don't meet with you." At the same time, Johnson worked behind the scenes to cultivate NAACP leaders. Though it emerges here that he was perhaps not instinctively on the side of the angels in this or other controversies, the pragmatic Senator Johnson nevertheless understood the drift of history well, and invariably chose to swim with the tide, rather than against. The same would not be said later of the Johnson who dwelled so glumly in the White House, expanding a war that even he, eventually, came to loathe. But that is another volume: one that we shall await eagerly. Photos.

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2002 (Fiction)
Empire Falls
Click to search this book in our catalog   Richard Russo
Library Journal : "Elijah Whiting...had not succeeded in killing his wife with a shovel, nor had he recovered from the disappointment." These lines from the prolog of Russo's (Straight Man) latest novel prove prototypical. A keen observer of human nature, Russo explores the tragicomic realities of life in a small mill town in central Maine whose best days are behind. Miles Roby is a basically decent guy who runs the Empire Grill for the widow of the last Whiting male (who shot himself when he, too, couldn't recover from his failure to dispatch his wife). Miles's own wife has left him for a sleazy gym owner, and his angst-ridden teenage daughter has befriended a sullen, ominously silent classmate shunned by the rest of his peers. Meanwhile, his ne'er-do-well father is in the process of trying to con a senile old priest into financing his annual jaunt to Key West. As the world careens around him and his fellow townfolk, Miles is trying desperately to figure out what went wrong and the answers, both complicated and simple, seem to lie mostly in the house across the river in which Mrs. Whiting resides. Russo has constructed a sensitive, endearingly oddball portrait of small-town life, a wonderful story that should appeal to a wide audience. Especially appropriate for public and larger academic libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/01.] David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, FL

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2002 (Nonfiction)
Carry Me Home
 Diane McWhorter
Library Journal : McWhorter, who was born into Birmingham's white elite, examines the city's pivotal role in the battle for civil rights.

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2002 (Biography)
John Adams
 David McCullough
Library Journal : This life of Adams is an extraordinary portrait of an extraordinary man who has not received his due in America's early political history but whose life work significantly affected his country's future. McCullough is here following his Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, Truman, and his subjects have much in common as leaders who struggled to establish their own presidential identities as they emerged from the shadows of their revered predecessors. The author paints a portrait of Adams, the patriot, in the fullest sense of the word. The reader is treated to engaging descriptions and accounts of Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin, among others, as well as the significant figures in the Adams family: Abigail, John's love and full partner, and son John Quincy. In tracing Adams's life from childhood through his many critical, heroic, and selfless acts during the Revolution, his vice presidency under Washington, and his own term as president, the full measure of Adams a man widely regarded in his time as the equal of Jefferson, Hamilton, and all of the other Founding Fathers is revealed. This excellent biography deserves a wide audience. Thomas J. Baldino, Wilkes Univ., Wilkes-Barre, PA

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Publishers Weekly : Here a preeminent master of narrative history takes on the most fascinating of our founders to create a benchmark for all Adams biographers. With a keen eye for telling detail and a master storyteller's instinct for human interest, McCullough (Truman; Mornings on Horseback) resurrects the great Federalist (1735-1826), revealing in particular his restrained, sometimes off-putting disposition, as well as his political guile. The events McCullough recounts are well-known, but with his astute marshaling of facts, the author surpasses previous biographers in depicting Adams's years at Harvard, his early public life in Boston and his role in the first Continental Congress, where he helped shape the philosophical basis for the Revolution. McCullough also makes vivid Adams's actions in the second Congress, during which he was the first to propose George Washington to command the new Continental Army. Later on, we see Adams bickering with Tom Paine's plan for government as suggested in Common Sense, helping push through the draft for the Declaration of Independence penned by his longtime friend and frequent rival, Thomas Jefferson, and serving as commissioner to France and envoy to the Court of St. James's. The author is likewise brilliant in portraying Adams's complex relationship with Jefferson, who ousted him from the White House in 1800 and with whom he would share a remarkable death date 26 years later: July 4, 1826, 50 years to the day after the signing of the Declaration. (June) Forecast: Joseph Ellis has shown us the Founding Fathers can be bestsellers, and S&S knows it has a winner: first printing is 350,000 copies, and McCullough will go on a 15-city tour; both Book-of-the-Month Club and the History Book Club have taken this book as a selection.

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2001 (Fiction)
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
 Michael Chabon
Library Journal : Joe Kavalier, a young artist and magician, escapes pre-World War II Czechoslovakia, making his way to the home of Sam Clay, his Brooklyn cousin. Sam dreams of making it big in the emerging comic-book trade and sees Joe as the person to help him. As the cousins gain success with their masked superhero, the Escapist, Joe banks his earnings to bring his family from Prague and falls in love with Rosa Saks, daughter of an art dealer. But when the ship carrying his brother to America is torpedoed, Joe joins the navy and is posted to Antarctica. Half-insane, he returns to a wandering life that leads back to Rosa and now husband Sam in 1953. What results is a novel of love and loss, sorrow and wonder, and the ability of art to transcend the "harsh physics" of this world and gives us a magical glimpse of "the mysterious spirit world beyond." Recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/00.]--Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, Andover, MA

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Publishers Weekly : This epic novel about the glory years of the American comic book (1939-1954) fulfills all the promise of Chabon's two earlier novels (The Mysteries of Pittsburgh; Wonder Boys) and two collections of short stories (A Model World; Werewolves in Their Youth), and nearly equals them all together in number of pages. Chabon's prodigious gifts for language, humor and wonderment come to full maturity in this fictional history of the legendary partnership between Sammy Klayman and Josef Kavalier, cousins and creators of the prewar masked comic book hero, the Escapist. Sammy is a gifted inventor of characters and situations who dreams "the usual Brooklyn dreams of flight and transformation and escape." His contribution to the superhero's alter ego, Tom Mayflower, is his own stick legs, a legacy of childhood polio. Joe Kavalier, a former Prague art student, arrives in Brooklyn by way of Siberia, Japan and San Francisco. This improbable route marks only the first in a lifetime of timely escapes. Denied exit from Nazi Czechoslovakia with the visa his family sold its fortune to buy him, Joe, a disciple of Houdini, enlists the aid of his former teacher, the celebrated stage illusionist Bernard Kornblum, in a more desperate escape: crouched inside the coffin transporting Prague's famous golem, Rabbi Loew's miraculous automaton, to the safety of exile in Lithuania. This melodramatic getawayDalmost foiled when the Nazi officer inspecting the corpse decides the suit it's wearing is too fine to buryDis presented with the careful attention to detail of a true-life adventure. Chabon heightens realism through a series of inspired matches: the Escapist, who roams the globe "coming to the aid of those who languish in tyranny's chains," with Joe's powerlessness to rescue his family from Prague; Kavalier & Clay's Empire City with New York City in the early 1940s; and the comic industry's "avidity of unburdening America's youth of the oppressive national mantle of tedium, ten cents at a time," with this fledgling art form's ability to gratify "the lust for power and the gaudy sartorial taste of a race of powerless people with no leave to dress themselves." Well researched and deeply felt, this rich, expansive and hugely satisfying novel will delight a wide range of readers. (Sept.)

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2001 (Nonfiction)
Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan
Click to search this book in our catalog   Herbert Bix
2001 (Biography)
W.E.B. DuBois
Click to search this book in our catalog   David Levering Lewis
2000 (Fiction)
Interpreter of Maladies
Click to search this book in our catalog   Jhumpa Lahiri
 
2000 (Nonfiction)
Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II
 John W. Dower
Library Journal : Conventional histories treat the U.S. occupation of Japan (1945-52) as an exercise in which benevolent Americans conferred the blessings of democracy on the defeated feudal fascist foe. The persona of Gen. Douglas MacArthur looms large in such accounts, and the focus is usually on American policies. Dower's approach is very different. He transports us inside Japan to experience this brief but vital period of modern Japanese history in all its richness and complexity. Poignant scenes of trauma, degradation, bewilderment, and poverty alternate with those of hope, initiative, energy, and creativity as Japanese from many walks of life seized the opportunity to regenerate their own society along more egalitarian and democratic lines. In re-creating the American occupation as a Japanese experience, Dower (War Without Mercy, LJ 4/1/86) has produced nothing less than a masterpiece of modern history. Erudition, empathy, accessibility, dry humor, and narrative power combine to make this book an important and beautifully written work that belongs in all libraries.

Steven I. Levine, Boulder Run Research, Hillsborough, NC Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : The writing of history doesn't get much better than this. MIT professor Dower (author of the NBCC Award-winning War Without Mercy) offers a dazzling political and social history of how postwar Japan evolved with stunning speed into a unique hybrid of Western innovation and Japanese tradition. The American occupation of Japan (1945-1952) saw the once fiercely militarist island nation transformed into a democracy constitutionally prohibited from deploying military forces abroad. The occupation was fraught with irony as Americans, motivated by what they saw as their Christian duty to uplift a barbarian race, attempted to impose democracy through autocratic military rule. Dower manages to convey the full extent of both American self-righteousness and visionary idealism. The first years of occupation saw the extension of rights to women, organized labor and other previously excluded groups. Later, the exigencies of the emergent Cold War led to American-backed "anti-Red" purges, pro-business policies and the partial reconstruction of the Japanese military. Dower demonstrates an impressive mastery of voluminous sources, both American and Japanese, and he deftly situates the political story within a rich cultural context. His digressions into Japanese culture--high and low, elite and popular--are revealing and extremely well written. The book is most remarkable, however, for the way Dower judiciously explores the complex moral and political issues raised by America's effort to rebuild and refashion a defeated adversary--and Japan's ambivalent response to that embrace. Illustrations.

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2000 (Biography)
Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov)
 Stacy Schiff
Library Journal : Vladimir Nabokov's works have come to the attention of the public again with the publication of Library of America editions and the recent film version of Lolita. Several years ago, Brian Boyd produced a two-volume definitive biography: Vladimir Nabokov: The Russian Years (LJ 10/1/90) and Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years (LJ 8/91). Schiff's book distinguishes itself by focusing on the relationship between Vladimir and his wife V ra, a marriage that lasted some 50 years. Schiff (Saint Exup ry, LJ 10/1/94) traces the years in France and Germany before World War II, followed by a hurried immigration to the United States and Nabokov's eventual literary success. Schiff also handles the difficulties within the marriage, including affairs. Through it all, the couple forged a close alliance as V ra oversaw the editing of manuscripts, translation, the negotiation of contracts, and much of Vladimir's correspondence. The result is a scholarly, readable look at a remarkable literary duo.

Ronald Ray Ratliff, Chapman H.S. Lib., KS Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : V ra Nabokov was not only devoted to her husband's literary career; she was crucial to it. Schiff (Saint-Exup ry) contends that Nabokov's public image was V ra's doing: "we are used to husbands silencing wives, but here was a wife silencing, editing, speaking for, creating, her husband." For almost all their married lives, the Nabokovs were inseparable. Russian migr s in Germany, France and then the U.S., they eked out a bare existence despite Nabokov's reputation as a stellar Russian novelist. With no market for his writing, he needed his wife to work as a translator so they could survive. After hours she also edited and translated his writings, conducted his professional affairs and maintained their marriage. Only the runaway international success of Lolita when they were in their later 50s freed the couple from scraping together a living. (A film advance gave Nabokov 17 times his annual salary at Cornell, a post that had taken years to secure.) Suddenly flush, the Nabokovs, by choice, again became migr s, wealthy residents of a Swiss luxury hotel. Schiff's best pages evoke the years of adversity, as when the Jewish V ra, regal even in penury, perilously remained in Nazi Germany until May 1937 (after non-Jewish Vladimir exited) because it was the only country where either one could legally work. Often described as "hovering" over her husband by his Cornell colleagues, V ra was always close by--even working as his teaching assistant--because, according to Schiff, he simply could not function without her. This book offers more than a peek at the famous author through his wife's eyes. When her 1991 New York Times obit called V ra "Wife, Muse, and Agent" it only hinted at her role, which is rescued from obscurity in Schiff's graceful prose. 16 pages of b&w photos.

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1999 (Fiction)
The Hours
 Michael Cunningham
Library Journal : Clarissa Dalloway certainly is a popular lady nowadays, with a recent movie and now a new book based on her life. She is, of course, the heroine of Virginia Woolf's 1925 novel about a day in the life of a proper but uninspired wife and the tragic event that changes her. In this new work by Cunningham (Flesh and Blood, LJ 4/15/95), that day's events are reflected and reinterpreted in the interwoven stories of three women: Laura, a reluctant mother and housewife of the 1940s; Clarissa, an editor in the 1990s and caretaker of her best friend, an AIDS patient; and Woolf herself, on the verge of writing the aforementioned novel. Certain themes flow from story to story: paths not taken, the need for independence, meditations on mortality. Woolf fans will enjoy identifying these scenes in a different context, but it's only at the end that the author engages more than just devoted followers with a surprisingly touching coda that stresses the common bonds the characters share. Given Woolf's popularity, this is a book all libraries should consider, with an exhortation to visit Mrs. Dalloway as well.

Marc A. Kloszewski, Indiana Free Lib., PA Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : At first blush, the structural and thematic conceits of this novel--three interwoven novellas in varying degrees connected to Virginia Woolf--seem like the stuff of a graduate student's pipe dream: a great idea in the dorm room that betrays a lack of originality. But as soon as one dips into Cunningham's prologue, in which Woolf's suicide is rendered with a precise yet harrowing matter-of-factness ("She hurries from the house, wearing a coat too heavy for the weather. It is 1941. She has left a note for Leonard, and another for Vanessa."), the reader becomes completely entranced. This book more than fulfills the promise of Cunningham's 1990 debut, A Home at the End of the World, while showing that sweep does not necessarily require the sprawl of his second book, Flesh and Blood. In alternating chapters, the three stories unfold: "Mrs. Woolf," about Virginia's own struggle to find an opening for Mrs. Dalloway in 1923; "Mrs. Brown," about one Laura Brown's efforts to escape, somehow, an airless marriage in California in 1949 while, coincidentally, reading Mrs. Dalloway; and "Mrs. Dalloway," which is set in 1990s Greenwich Village and concerns Clarissa Vaughan's preparations for a party for her gay--and dying--friend, Richard, who has nicknamed her Mrs. Dalloway. Cunningham's insightful use of the historical record concerning Woolf in her household outside London in the 1920s is matched by his audacious imagining of her inner lifeand his equally impressive plunges into the lives of Laura and Clarissa. The book would have been altogether absorbing had it been linked only thematically. However, Cunningham cleverly manages to pull the stories even more intimately togther in the closing pages. Along the way, rich and beautifully nuanced scenes follow one upon the other: Virginia, tired and weak, irked by the early arrival of headstrong sister Vanessa, her three children and the dead bird they bury in the backyard; Laura's afternoon escape to an L.A. hotel to read for a few hours; Clarissa's anguished witnessing of her friend's suicidal jump down an airshaft, rendered with unforgettable detail. The overall effect of this book is twofold. First, it makes a reader hunger to know all about Woolf, again; readers may be spooked at times, as Woolf's spirit emerges in unexpected ways, but hers is an abiding presence, more about living than dying. Second, and this is the gargantuan accomplishment of this small book, it makes a reader believe in the possibility and depth of a communality based on great literature, literature that has shown people how to live and what to ask of life. (Nov.) FYI: The Hours was a working title that Woolf for a time gave to Mrs. Dalloway.

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1999 (Nonfiction)
Annals of the Former World
Click to search this book in our catalog   John McPhee
Library Journal : McPhee is the most celebrated contemporary writer on North American geology, and Annals is his magnum opus, combining edited and revised sections from previous works with two new essays.

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Publishers Weekly : A feast for all John McPhee fans, this major book incorporates some of the author's best work on geology into a comprehensive tour de force. Those familiar with McPhee's writing on the subject of geology will know that his narrative includes not only scientific theory but also portraitures of his geologic guides. While the majority of this material has appeared in the New Yorker and in books such as Basin and Range, In Suspect Terrain and Rising from the Plains, the collection, which includes 20,000 new words, is much more than a recycling of past writing. As McPhee says, "The text has been meshed, melded, revised, in some places cut, and everywhere studied for repetition." McPhee's many fans won't be disappointed with the high-quality descriptive portraits of geologists, their work and theories. Since the writing follows McPhee's previous works and not any set geography or geologic logic, the author has provided what he calls a "Narrative Table of Contents," which not only describes each section in turn but the theories discussed in it. In this near flawless compilation of ambitious and expansive scope, McPhee's personalized style remains consistent and triumphant: "Ebbets Field, where they buried the old Brooklyn Dodgers, was also on the terminal moraine. When a long-ball hitter hit a long ball, it would land on Bedford Avenue and bounce down the morainal front to roll toward Coney Island on the outwash plain. No one in Los Angeles would ever hit a homer like that." 25 maps, not seen by PW.

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1999 (Biography)
Lindbergh
Click to search this book in our catalog   A. Scott Berg
Library Journal : Berg, whose biographies of Max Perkins and Sam Goldwyn are central texts in their fields, restores some luster to complicated aviator hero Charles Lindbergh by presenting his very full life--from his lonely rural childhood to the enormity of his Spirit of St. Louis accomplishment; the kidnapping of his baby son, which led to the "Trial of the Century"; his enthusiastic state visits to Hitler's Germany; and his Pulitzer Prize and later conservation work. For the generation that has mostly known Lindbergh through his child's murder and a profoundly stupid speech he later made, this big, thoroughly researched book is a fine work of restorative storytelling.

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Publishers Weekly : Lindbergh, writes Berg, was "the most celebrated living person ever to walk the earth." It's a brash statement for a biography that makes its points through a wealth of fact rather than editorial (or psychological) surmise, but after the 1927 solo flight to Paris and the 1932 kidnapping of his infant son, most readers will agree. Berg (Max Perkins) writes with the cooperation, although not necessarily the approval, of the Lindbergh family, having been granted full access to the unpublished diaries and papers of both Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The result is a solidly written book that while revealing few new secrets (there are discoveries about Lindbergh's father's illegitimacy and Mrs. Lindbergh's 1956 affair with her doctor, Dana Atchley) instructs and fascinates through the richness of detail. There are no new insights into the boy flier, no new theories about the kidnapping, but there is a chilling portrait of a man who did not seem to enjoy many of the most basic human emotions. Perhaps more attention to Lindbergh's near-worship of the Nobel Prize-winning doctor, Alexis Carrel, would have explained more about his enigmatic character. Berg details Lindbergh's prewar trips to Nazi Germany at the request of the U.S. government; his leadership in the America First movement; his role in first promoting commercial aviation; and, during WWII, improving the efficiency of the Army Air Corps. As the book reaches its conclusion, however, it's the sympathetic portrait of Mrs. Lindbergh creating a life of her own while her husband chooses to be elsewhere that gives the biography the emotional scaffolding it lacked. The writing is workmanlike and efficient, and the story, familiar as it may be, encapsulates the history of the century. Photos. (Sept.) FYI: Putnam was said to have paid a seven-figure advance for Lindbergh in 1990.

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1998 (Fiction)
American Pastoral
Click to search this book in our catalog   Philip Roth
Library Journal : In his latest novel, Roth shows his age. Not that his writing is any less vigorous and supple. But in this autumnal tome, he is definitely in a reflective mood, looking backward. As the book opens, Roth's alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman, recalls an innocent time when golden boy Seymour "the Swede" Levov was the pride of his Jewish neighborhood. Then, in precise, painful, perfectly rendered detail, he shows how the Swede's life did not turn out as gloriously as expected--how it was, in fact, devastated by a child's violent act. When Merry Levov blew up her quaint little town's post office to protest the Viet Nam war, she didn't just kill passing physician Fred Conlon, she shattered the ties that bound her to her worshipful father. Merry disappears, then eventually reappears as a stick-thin Jain living in sacred povery in Newark, having killed three more people for the cause. Roth doesn't tell the whole story blow by blow but gives us the essentials in luminous, overlapping bits. In the end, the book positively resonates with the anguish of a father who has utterly lost his daughter. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/96.]--Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"

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Publishers Weekly : The protagonist of Roth's new novel, a magnificent meditation on a pivotal decade in our nation's history, is in every way different from the profane and sclerotic antihero of Sabbath's Theater (for which Roth won the National Book Award in 1995). It's as though, having vented his spleen and his libido in Mickey Sabbath, Roth was then free to contemplate the life of a man who is Sabbath's complete opposite. He relates the story of Seymour "Swede" Levov with few sex scenes and no scatological sideshows; the deviant behavior demonstrated here was common to a generation, and the shocks Roth delivers are part of our national trauma. This is Roth's most mature novel, powerful and universally resonant. Swede Levov's life has been charmed from the time he was an all-star athlete at Newark's Weequahic high school. As handsome, modest, generous and kind as he is gifted, Swede takes pains to acknowledge the blessings for which he is perceived as the most fortunate of men. He is patriotic and civically responsible, maritally faithful, morally upstanding, a mensch. He successfully runs his father's glove factory, refusing to be cowed by the race riots that rock Newark, marries a shiksa beauty-pageant queen, who is smart and ambitious, buys a 100-acre farm in a classy suburb--the epitome of serene, innocent, pastoral existence--and dotes on his daughter, Merry. But when Merry becomes radicalized during the Vietnam War, plants a bomb that kills an innocent man and goes underground for five years, Swede endures a torment that becomes increasingly unbearable as he learns more about Merry's monstrous life. In depicting Merry, Roth expresses palpable fury at the privileged, well-educated, self-centered children of the 1960s, who in their militant idealism demonstrated ferocious hatred for a country that had offered their families opportunity and freedom. After three generations of upward striving and success, Swede and his family are flung "out of the longed-for American pastoral and into everything that is its antithesis and its enemy--into the fury, the violence and the desperation of the counterpastoral--into the American berserk." Roth's pace is measured. The first two sections of the book are richly textured with background detail. The last third, however, is full of shocking surprises and a message of existential chaos. "The Swede found out that we are all in the power of something demented,'' Roth writes. And again: "He had learned the worst lesson that life could teach--that it makes no sense." In the end, his dream and his life destroyed by his daughter and the decade, Swede finally understands that he is living through the moral breakdown of American society. The picture is chilling. 100,000 first printing; BOMC selection.

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1998 (Nonfiction)
Guns, Germs and Steel
 Jared Diamond
Library Journal : Most of this work deals with non-Europeans, but Diamond's thesis sheds light on why Western civilization became hegemonic: "History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples' environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves." Those who domesticated plants and animals early got a head start on developing writing, government, technology, weapons of war, and immunity to deadly germs. (LJ 2/15/97)

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Publishers Weekly : In a boldly ambitious analysis of history's broad patterns, evolutionary biologist Diamond (The Third Chimpanzee) identifies food production as a key to the glaring inequalities of wealth and power in the modern world. Dense, agriculture-based populations, unlike relatively egalitarian hunter-gatherers, bred chiefs, kings and bureaucratic "kleptocracies" that transferred wealth from commoners to upper classes. Such bureaucracies, Diamond maintains, were essential to organizing wars of conquest; moreover, farming societies were able to support full-time craft specialists who developed technical innovations and steel weapons. As a result, European conquerors and their colonizing descendants, bringing guns, cavalry and infectious diseases, overwhelmed the native peoples of North and South America, Africa and Australia. Using molecular biological studies, Diamond, a professor at UCLA Medical School, illuminates why Eurasian germs spreading animal-derived diseases proved so devastating to indigenous societies on other continents. Refuting racist explanations for presumed differences in intelligence or technological capability and eschewing a Eurocentric worldview, he argues persuasively that accidental differences in geography and environment, combined with centuries of conquest, genocide and epidemics, shaped the disparate populations of today's world. His masterful synthesis is a refreshingly unconventional history informed by anthropology, behavioral ecology, linguistics, epidemiology, archeology and technological development. Photos not seen by PW. BOMC, History Book Club, QPB and Newbridge Book Clubs selections.

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1998 (Biography)
Personal History
 Katharine Graham
Library Journal : Katharine Meyer Graham was a woman born into a world of wealth and privilege who raised four children, became involved in volunteer work, and ended as the head of a powerful newspaper. Graham's father, a wealthy entrepreneur, bought the struggling Washington Post in 1933. Although Katharine had worked as a journalist, it was her husband, Philip Graham, who was chosen to take over the paper from her father. This is the story of a newspaper's rise to power but also of the destruction of a marriage, as Philip Graham slid into alcohol, depression, and suicide, and of Katharine's rise as a powerful woman in her own right. Throughout this easy-to-read story, Graham writes about her personal life and the lives of others, ranging from presidents to household help, with sympathy and grace. Recommended for public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/96.]--Rebecca Wondriska, Trinity Coll. Lib., Hartford, Ct.

Copyright 1997 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : In 1963, Graham took over as publisher of the Washington Post as a classic grieving widow. Her husband, Phil, had shot himself at their country estate, defeated in a prolonged battle with manic depression. Since then, Graham's life has been an amazing ride as she "moved forward blindly and mindlessly into a new and unknown life" to become the tough chief executive who, during Watergate, looked the President of the United States in the eye and didn't blink. She ended up as chairman and CEO of the Washington Post Media company, whose possessions included newspapers, magazines and TV stations. She makes a vivid and persuasive case for why it was so daunting for a woman of her generation to become, in the eyes of many, the most powerful woman in America-a designation she hated. She took over the newspaper to preserve it for her children and came to love it as a publication and as a business. She now sees that her management skills were lacking (financier Warren Buffett gave her a crash course in acquisitions and became a major shareholder and close friend), but she has nothing but pride and pleasure in the newspaper that she led from obscurity to world renown. The first half of her story centers around life with Phil, the second on three pivotal events at the Post: the publication of the Pentagon Papers, the Watergate scandal and the prolonged pressman's strike of 1975. She lovingly attributes much of the Post's success to editor Benjamin C. Bradlee. Her narrative is at times uneven, swinging from passages that sound almost like "what I did last summer" to amazingly detailed insider accounts of moments of national crisis. Household names dot every page, woven in with the lives of her four children, one of whom, Donald, now runs both the paper and the company. Graham is frank but not gossipy, self-critical but not falsely modest. She presents her "personal history" with quiet courage and considerable wit. Photos. 200,000 first printing; Random House audio.

Copyright 1997 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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1997 (Fiction)
Martin Dressler
 Steven Millhauser
Library Journal : This story of a 19th-century New York entrepreneur by the author of Edwin Mullhouse (LJ 8/15/72) both introduces the scenery and feeling of the times and provides a psychological portrait of an American dreamer named Martin Dressler. Dressler starts out in his family's cigar store but gets into the hotel industry at an early age and moves up rapidly, thanks to his energy and vision. His ambition leads him to take on increasingly extravagant projects, from lunch rooms to larger and larger hotels to the Grand Cosmo, his vision of a world unto itself, which does not succeed. His relationship with two sisters, one beautiful but passive (who becomes his wife), the other energetic and businesslike, effectively develop the internal transitions of his character. While the wife is a pallid creation, Dressler himself is a beautifully realized character. Millhauser keeps the plot going smoothly with touching prose that occasionally approaches the mystical. Recommended for public libraries.

Ann Irvine, Montgomery Cty. P.L., Md. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publisher's Weekly : Literature's romance with the building-as-metaphor earns new energy through Millhauser's latest novel (after Little Kingdoms, 1993), which quietly chronicles the life of an entrepreneur whose career peaks when he builds a fabulous hotel in turn-of-the-century Manhattan. Beginning with his first jobs-in his father's cigar shop and as a bellhop-young Martin's rise is fueled by a happy blend of pragmatism and imagination. Both inform the design of the cafes and hotels he builds as an adult, though the latter seems to gain sway in the construction of his magnum opus, the Grand Cosmo. Within the rusticated walls of that grand hotel, one floor's elevators open onto "a densely wooded countryside" dotted with cottages; another floor simulates a rugged mountainside, featuring "caves" furnished with beds, plumbing and "refrigerated air." For recreation, guests can wander in the artificial moonlight of the Pleasure Park or visit the Temple of Poesy, where young women in Green tunics will recite poetry, 24 hours a day. Such amenities speak of Dressler's view of the hotel as "a world within the world, rivaling the world." In deliberate contrast stands Millhauser's cooler evocation of his protagonist's private life. The magnate's genial sister-in-law works for him, while the troubles of his neurasthenic wife-"his sister's sister, his tense, languous, floating, ungraspable bride"-reflect his increasingly manic, untethered imaginings. Millhauser's characteristic fascination with the material artifacts of the vanished past-and the startling deftness with which he can describe the street, the carnival, the hotel that never existed-marks him as a cultural historian as well as an idiosyncratic fabulist. Taking its place alongside other fine tales of architectural symbology, from Poe to Borges to Ayn Rand, this enticing novel becomes at once the tale of a life, a marriage and a creative imagination in crisis.

Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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1997 (Nonfiction)
Ashes to Ashes
Click to search this book in our catalog   Richard Kluger
Library Journal : Two recent releases chronicle the history of the current political status of the controversial tobacco industry from different vantage points. Kluger's (The Paper, LJ 10/15/87) Ashes to Ashes is riveting and highly readable despite its length. From the Native American usage of tobacco through the lawsuits of the 1990s, Kluger follows the industry's agricultural and labor practices, technical advances, and marketing campaigns; he also considers research on tobacco's deleterious health effects and the tobacco control movement. Significant personalities and events such as the invention of the cigarette-rolling machine are featured. An extensive bibliography is provided, and a lengthy list of the Phillip Morris executives (and ex-executives!) are interviewed. Suitable for readers of high school age on up, this book belongs in every library. Much more scholarly, The Cigarette Papers focuses more on one company--Brown & Williamson--and one issue--health effects. In 1994, Glantz received an anonymous package containing thousands of pages of internal documents from Brown & Williamson. The author's analysis of these indicate that, public statements to the contrary, the company did indeed know about the health and safety effects of their products and actively sought to suppress the information. The documents, made available by the University of California via the Internet (http://www.library.ucsf.edu/tobacco), are quoted extensively. Also included is a statement by Brown & Williamson in response to the 1995 publication of some of these data in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This work is extemely thorough and at times makes for tedious reading. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.

Eris Weaver, Marin Inst. for the Prevention of Alcohol & Other Drug Problems, Rohnert, Cal. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publisher's Weekly : The time is right for a comprehensive history of cigarettes in America and their effect on public health and the economy. This book, passionate yet measured, bulky but absorbing, looms as definitive. Kluger (Simple Justice) traces the rise of the cigarette to the onset of mass production in the late 19th century. He moves forward with cross-cutting stories, about the barons and hucksters who developed the industry, the slow rise of medical and civic concern over smoking and the industry's increasingly obfuscatory and combative stance. Kluger has harsh words for government regulators, long too timid to take on a powerful industry. And while he ultimately indicts industry leader Philip Morris, his narrative suggests that the company, which has moved overseas and also diversified into the food business, has been managed with supreme savvy. Kluger concludes with an innovative policy remedy: because the tobacco companies will inevitably lose big in court someday, why not trade a federal exemption from lawsuits for limits on advertising, higher cigarette taxes, an end to tobacco price supports and required reductions on tar and nicotine?

Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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1997 (Biography)
Angela's Ashes
Click to search this book in our catalog   Frank McCourt
Library Journal : McCourt is the eldest of eight children born to Angela Sheehan and Malachy McCourt in the 1920s. The McCourts began their family in poverty in Brooklyn, yet when Angela slipped into depression after the death of her only daughter (four of eight children survived), the family reversed the tide of emigration and returned to Ireland, living on public assistance in Limerick. McCourt's story is laced with the pain of extreme poverty, aggravated by an alcoholic father who abandoned the family during World War II. Given the burdens of grief and starvation, it's a tribute to his skill that he can serve the reader a tale of love, some sadness, but at least as much laughter as the McCourts' "Yankee" children knew growing up in the streets of Limerick. His story, almost impossible to put down, may well become a classic. A wonderful book; strongly recommended for readers of any age. [Previewed in Prebub Alert, LJ 5/1/96.]--Robert Moore, DuPont Merck Pharmaceuticals, Framingham, Mass.

Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : YA--Despite impoverishing his family because of his alcoholism, McCourt's father passed on to his son a gift for superb storytelling. He told him about the great Irish heroes, the old days in Ireland, the people in their Limerick neighborhood, and the world beyond their shores. McCourt writes in the voice of the child--with no self-pity or review of events--and just retells the tales. He recounts his desperately poor early years, living on public assistance and losing three siblings, but manages to make the book funny and uplifting. Stories of trying on his parents' false teeth and his adventures as a post-office delivery boy will have readers laughing out loud. Young people will recognize the truth in these compelling tales; the emotions expressed; the descriptions of teachers, relatives, neighbors; and the casual cruelty adults show toward children. Readers will enjoy the humor and the music in the language. A vivid, wonderfully readable memoir.

Patricia Noonan, Prince William Public Library, VA Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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1996 (Fiction)
Independence Day
Click to search this book in our catalog   Richard Ford
Publisher's Weekly : In this sequel to The Sportswriter, Ford follows his middle-aged American everyman, Frank Bascombe, through the transformative events of a Fourth of July weekend.

Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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1996 (Nonfiction)
The Haunted Land
 Tina Rosenberg
Publishers Weekly : Freelance journalist Rosenberg's frequent trips since 1991 to eastern Europe and the former Soviet empire led to this trenchant report on the moral, political and legal dilemmas confronting Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia as they face their Communist pasts. She focuses on Czech dissident/human rights activist Rudolf Zukal, whose parliamentary career was shattered in 1989 by the revelation that he had been an informer for the secret police in the early 1960s. She also interviewed Polish Communist leader General Wojciech Jaruzelski, who, at his 1992 impeachment trial, argued that his imposition of martial law in 1981 was a necessary evil to save Poland from a Soviet invasion. Documents and testimony presented here contradict that rationale, showing that Jaruzelski was anxious to undercut Solidarity's growing power. Rosenberg also profiles Berlin Wall border guards and East German secret police informers now condemned for their unquestioning obedience to the old regime. Rosenberg wrote Children of Cain: Violence and the Violent in Latin America.

Copyright 1995 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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1996 (Biography)
God: A Biography
 Jack Miles
Library Journal : Despite its provocative title, this is a serious attempt to come to an understanding of the portrayal of God in the Tanakh, i.e., the books of the Hebrew Scriptures in the order of the Hebrew Bible, as opposed to the order in the Old Testament. Miles, a former Jesuit with a Ph.D. in Near Eastern languages who is currently a member of the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times, offers "knowledge of God as a literary character." While some may not care for how God is portrayed--at one point he is "whiny"--the book will appeal to believers and nonbelievers alike as an excellent introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures that does not read like a Scripture commentary. Recommended for all collections.

Augustine J. Curley, Newark Abbey, N.J. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : In a masterful, audacious inquiry, Miles attempts to tease out God's nature, character, motives and designs through a close textual analysis of the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament. He deduces that the God of Judeo-Christian tradition is an amalgam of several ancient, divine personalities. Worshiped as the source of mercy, wisdom, strength and love, God is also at times an abrupt, unpredictable, wrathful being: a destroyer as well as a creator. There is also Abraham's personal god, almost a ``busy friend of the family''; God the lawgiver, who attaches supreme importance to justice; God as arbiter, conqueror and father; and the silent, omniscient God of the Book of Daniel, who knows in detail the entire remaining course of history. The Creator, in Miles's reading, is intimately linked to human destiny, because humanity, made in His image, is an indispensable tool in His quest for self-understanding. Miles, a former Jesuit and currently a Los Angeles Times columnist, has written a profound exploration of Western monotheism and the wellsprings of faith. 35,000 first printing; BOMC alternate; QPB selection; author tour.

Copyright 1995 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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1995 (Fiction)
The Stone Diaries
 Carol Shields
Library Journal : Author of the ``most satisfying'' The Republic of Love ( LJ 1/92), Canadian novelist Shields here details the hard life of Daisy Stone Goodwill from her 1905 birth in Manitoba through old age.

Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : Canadian writer Shields's novels and short stories ( Swann ; The Republic of Love , etc.) are intensely imagined, humanely generous, beautifully sustained and impeccably detailed. Despite rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic, she has yet to achieve an audience here; one hopes this latest effort, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, will be her breakthrough. It is at once a playful sendup of the art of biography and a serious exploration of the essential mystery of human lives; the gist of this many-faceted story is that all biographies are only versions of the facts. Shields follows her heroine, Daisy Goodwill Hoad Flett, from her birth--and her mother's death--on the kitchen floor of a stonemason's cottage in a small quarry town in Manitoba through childhood in Winnipeg, adolescence and young womanhood in Bloomington, Ind. (another quarry town), two marriages, motherhood, widowhood, a brief, exhilarating career in Ottawa--and eventually to old age and death in Florida. Stone is the unifying image here: it affects the geography of Daisy's life, and ultimately her vision of herself. Wittily, ironically, touchingly, Shields gives us Daisy's version of her life and contrasting interpretations of events from her friends, children and extended family. (She even provides ostensible photographs of Daisy's family and friends.) Shields's prose is succint, clear and graceful, and she is wizardly with description, summarizing appearance, disposition and inner lives with elegant imagery. Secondary characters are equally compelling, especially Daisy's obese, phlegmatic mother; her meek, obsessive father, who transforms himself into an overbearing executive; her adoptive mother, her stubborn father-in-law. Readers who discover Shields with this book can also pick up a simultaneously published paperback version of an early first novel, Happenstance . Author tour.

Copyright 1993 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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1995 (Nonfiction)
The Beak of the Finch
Click to search this book in our catalog   Jonathan Weiner
Library Journal : This is an account of Peter and Rosemary Grant's research on the microevolutionary modifications that occur in finch beaks as they adapt to environmental changes. Analysis of data collected from 18,000 birds on a Galapagos island over 21 years conclusively demonstrates that the pressures of natural selection are currently altering wild populations. Also, by incorporating others' work on present-day evolutionary variations in fish, insects, and microbes, Weiner (The Next One Hundred Years, LJ 2/1/90) challenges the concept of evolution as a time-frozen process. Harmonized with the writings of Charles Darwin, this book provides the facts to bring alive evolution as an ongoing process. Highly recommended for general collections, but informed readers would do better with Peter Grant's own Ecology and Evolution of Darwin's Finches (Princeton Univ. Pr., 1986).-Frank Reiser, Nassau Community Coll., Garden City, N.Y.

Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : For more than 20 years Rosemary and Peter Grant have divided their time between Daphne Major in the Galapagos and Princeton University. On the tiny island they have intensively studied six species of Darwin's ground finches; at Princeton, they analyze their collected data. In following their work Weiner ( Planet Earth ) tells a remarkable story of continuing evolution, and of the painstaking research that reveals it. The Grants documented two dramatic changes in the finches: after a drought in 1977 reduced their numbers by 85%, the surviving birds became larger, in weight, wingspan and beak; after El Nino's floods in 1983, the trend was reversed. The Grants found that during food shortages the difference of one millimeter in the size of a finch's beak could determine its life or death. In his eloquent and richly informative report, Weiner surveys as well research on evolution being done on crossbills, sticklebacks and fruit flies. Illustrations. 40,000 first printing; BOMC, QPB , History Book Club and Natural Science Book Club alternates.

Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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1995 (Biography)
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Click to search this book in our catalog   Joan D. Hedrick
Library Journal : In writing this biography of Stowe, the most substantial since Forrest Wilson's Crusader in Crinoline won a Pulitzer Prize in 1941, Hedrick (women's studies, Trinity Coll., Ct.) has created an engaging and informative book that brings to life not just the complex and fascinating woman and writer but also the 19th-century America that shaped her and was shaped by her. Hedrick manages to weave into this immensely readable biography a history teeming with the domestic detail of the famous Beecher clan, the settling of the West, and the impact of the Civil War and the abolition movement. At the same time, Hedrick constructs a fascinating portrait of women's lives in the 19th century. Stowe rarely failed to give an adoring public what it wanted, from her wildly popular serial novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1851-52) through the long, lucrative career that filled America's nostalgic need for novels about old New England. This biography is worth adding even to collections that own Wilson's book. Highly recommended.

Ellen Finnie Duranceau, MIT Lib. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : This first major biography of Stowe (1811-1896) in some 50 years offers an insightful account of the life and work of the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin . Hedrick, director of women's studies at Trinity College in Connecticut, is especially good at laying out the context of Stowe's life: the constraints and opportunities for well-born New England women in the 1800s; the influence of the Bible and of ``parlor literature and parlor music'' on her work; and how the lack of political outlets for women helped fuel her outrage against slavery. In Uncle Tom's Cabin , published in weekly installments from June 1851 to April 1852 in the magazine National Era , Stowe modeled the characters mainly on her own black domestic servants without considering that ``her position as white mistress to black servants radically compromised her perceptions.'' Nonetheless, Hedrick praises her for forcing whites to confront ``the voices of a colonized people.'' Hedrick includes much information on Stowe's family life and lengthy but checkered writing career, noting that while she contributed to a new cultural vitality by supporting the Atlantic Monthly , founded in 1857, she and other women writers were ultimately disregarded. Regrettably, the book ends with Stowe's death and doesn't track the 20th-century debates about the place of Stowe's most famous work in our cultural canon.

Copyright 1993 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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