May 4, 2010

new nonfiction

Written by and about New Englanders, this book is relevant to others attempting to address conservation problems on a regional basis. These are the stories of people acting the New England way—recognizing a need, taking on a responsibility without being asked, and applying the Yankee attitude in order to bring about tangible conservation gains. But above all, the account is one of hope for the future for, as the authors document, conditions at the turn of the 20th century were of a nature we would not tolerate today: cut and burned-over forests, eroded topsoil, depleted farmlands, streams choked with refuse and pollution, and species at the very brink of extinction. The stories told here are of people using what they had, setting to work to remedy these conditions, and doing so successfully. At a time of growing concern for the environment both locally and globally, theirs is a story certain to inform and inspire the next generation of conservation leaders.

Simon Johnson and James Kwak examine not only how Wall Street's ideology, wealth, and political power among policy makers in Washington led to the financial debacle of 2008 but also what the lessons learned portend for the future.

Drooling fanatic, n. 1. One who drools in the presence of beloved rock stars. 2. Any of a genus of rock-and-roll wannabes/geeks who walk around with songs constantly ringing in their ears, own more than 3,000 albums, and fall in love with at least one record per week. With a life that’s spanned the phonographic era and the digital age, Steve Almond lives to Rawk. Like you, he’s secretly longed to live the life of a rock star, complete with insane talent, famous friends, and hotel rooms to be trashed. Also like you, he’s content (sort of) to live the life of a rabid fan, one who has converted his unrequited desires into a (sort of) noble obsession. Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life traces Almond’s passion from his earliest (and most wretched) rock criticism to his eventual discovery of a music-crazed soul mate and their subsequent production of two little superfans. Along the way, Almond reflects on the delusional power of songs, the awkward mating habits of drooling fanatics, and why Depression Songs actually make us feel so much better. The book also includes: • sometimes drunken interviews with America’s finest songwriters• a recap of the author’s terrifying visit to Graceland while stoned• a vigorous and credibility-shattering endorsement of Styx’s Paradise Theater • recommendations you will often choose to ignore• a reluctant exegesis of the Toto song “Africa” • obnoxious lists sure to piss off rock critics But wait, there’s more. Readers will also be able to listen to a special free mix designedby the author, available online at, for the express purpose of eliciting your drool. For those about to rock—we salute you!

In his breakout bestseller, The Perfect Storm, Sebastian Junger created "a wild ride that brilliantly captures the awesome power of the raging sea and the often futile attempts of humans to withstand it" (Los Angeles Times Book Review). Now, Junger turns his brilliant and empathetic eye to the reality of combat--the fear, the honor, and the trust among men in an extreme situation whose survival depends on their absolute commitment to one another. His on-the-ground account follows a single platoon through a 15-month tour of duty in the most dangerous outpost in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. Through the experiences of these young men at war, he shows what it means to fight, to serve, and to face down mortal danger on a daily basis.

In this companion to the HBO(r) miniseries-executive produced by Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, and Gary Goetzman-Hugh Ambrose reveals the intertwined odysseys of four U.S. Marines and a U.S. Navy carrier pilot during World War II. Between America's retreat from China in late November 1941 and the moment General MacArthur's airplane touched down on the Japanese mainland in August of 1945, five men connected by happenstance fought the key battles of the war against Japan. From the debacle in Bataan, to the miracle at Midway and the relentless vortex of Guadalcanal, their solemn oaths to their country later led one to the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot and the others to the coral strongholds of Peleliu, the black terraces of Iwo Jima and the killing fields of Okinawa, until at last the survivors enjoyed a triumphant, yet uneasy, return home. In The Pacific, Hugh Ambrose focuses on the real-life stories of the five men who put their lives on the line for our country. To deepen the story revealed in the miniseries and go beyond it, the book dares to chart a great ocean of enmity known as The Pacific and the brave men who fought. Some considered war a profession, others enlisted as citizen soldiers. Each man served in a different part of the war, but their respective duties required every ounce of their courage and their strength to defeat an enemy who preferred suicide to surrender. The medals for valor which were pinned on three of them came at a shocking price-a price paid in full by all.

On February 15, 1898, the USS Maine exploded in the Havana Harbor. Although there was no evidence that the Spanish were responsible, yellow newspapers such as William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal whipped Americans into frenzy by claiming that Spain's "secret infernal machine" had destroyed the battleship. Soon after, the blandly handsome and easily influenced President McKinley declared war, sending troops not only to Cuba but also to the Philippines, Spain's sprawling colony on the other side of the world. As Evan Thomas reveals in his rip-roaring history of those times, the hunger for war had begun years earlier. Depressed by the "closing" of the Western frontier and embracing theories of social Darwinism, a group of warmongers that included a young Teddy Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge agitated loudly and incessantly that the United States exert its influence across the seas. These hawks would transform American foreign policy and, when Teddy ascended to the presidency, commence with a devastating war without reason, concocted within the White House—a bloody conflict that would come at tremendous cost. Thrillingly written and brilliantly researched, THE WAR LOVERS is the story of six men at the center of a transforming event in U.S. history: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, McKinley, William James, and Thomas Reed, and confirms once more than Evan Thomas is a popular historian of the first rank.

What possesses someone to save every scrap of paper that’s ever come into his home? What compulsions drive a woman like Irene, whose hoarding cost her her marriage? Or Ralph, whose imagined uses for castoff items like leaky old buckets almost lost him his house? Or Jerry and Alvin, wealthy twin bachelors who filled up matching luxury apartments with countless pieces of fine art, not even leaving themselves room to sleep?
Randy Frost and Gail Steketee were the first to study hoarding when they began their work a decade ago; they expected to find a few sufferers but ended up treating hundreds of patients and fielding thousands of calls from the families of others. Now they explore the compulsion through a series of compelling case studies in the vein of Oliver Sacks.With vivid portraits that show us the traits by which you can identify a hoarder—piles on sofas and beds that make the furniture useless, houses that can be navigated only by following small paths called goat trails, vast piles of paper that the hoarders “churn” but never discard, even collections of animals and garbage—Frost and Steketee explain the causes and outline the often ineffective treatments for the disorder.They also illuminate the pull that possessions exert on all of us. Whether we’re savers, collectors, or compulsive cleaners, none of us is free of the impulses that drive hoarders to the extremes in which they live.
For the six million sufferers, their relatives and friends, and all the rest of us with complicated relationships to our things, Stuff answers the question of what happens when our stuff starts to own us

Based on notes he kept on slips of paper tucked secretly away in his Bible, Eugene Sledge has written a devastingly powerful memoir of his experience fighting in the South Pacific during WWII. John Keegan describes this stirring account of the vitality and bravery of the Marines as "one of the most arresting doceuments in war

In The Kind Diet, actress, activist, and committed conservationist Alicia Silverstone shares the insights that encouraged her to swear off meat and dairy forever, and outlines the spectacular benefits of adopting a plant-based diet, from effortless weight loss to clear skin, off-the-chart energy, and smooth digestion. She explains how meat, fish, milk, and cheese—the very foods we’ve been taught to regard as the cornerstone of good nutrition—are actually the culprits behind escalating rates of disease and the cause of dire, potentially permanent damage to our ecology.
Whether your goal is to drop a few pounds, boost your energy and metabolism, or simply save the world, Alicia provides the encouragement, the information, and the tools you need to make the transition to a plant-based diet deliciously empowering.

On April 23, 1967, Prisoner #416J, an inmate at the notorious Missouri State Penitentiary, escaped in a breadbox. Fashioning himself Eric Galt, this nondescript thief and con man—whose real name was James Earl Ray—drifted through the South, into Mexico, and then Los Angeles, where he was galvanized by George Wallace’s racist presidential campaign.
On February 1, 1968, two Memphis garbage men were crushed to death in their hydraulic truck, provoking the exclusively African American workforce to go on strike. Hoping to resuscitate his faltering crusade, King joined the sanitation workers’ cause, but their march down Beale Street, the historic avenue of the blues, turned violent. Humiliated, King fatefully vowed to return to Memphis in April.
With relentless storytelling drive, Sides follows Galt and King as they crisscross the country, one stalking the other, until the crushing moment at the Lorraine Motel when the drifter catches up with his prey. Against the backdrop of the resulting nationwide riots and the pathos of King’s funeral, Sides gives us a riveting cross-cut narrative of the assassin’s flight and the sixty-five-day search that led investigators to Canada, Portugal, and England—a massive manhunt ironically led by Hoover’s FBI.
Magnificent in scope, drawing on a wealth of previously unpublished material, this nonfiction thriller illuminates one of the darkest hours in American life—an example of how history is so often a matter of the petty bringing down the great.

A Captain's Duty tells the life-and-death drama of the Vermont native who was held captive on a tiny lifeboat off Somalia's anarchic, gun-plagued shores. A story of adventure and courage, it provides the intimate details of this high-seas hostage-taking—the unbearable heat, the death threats, the mock executions, and the escape attempt. When the pirates boarded his ship, Captain Phillips put his experience into action, doing everything he could to safeguard his crew. And when he was held captive by the pirates, he marshaled all his resources to ensure his own survival, withstanding intense physical hardship and an escalating battle of wills with the pirates. This was it: the moment where training meets instinct and where character is everything. Richard Phillips wasready.

A former captain in the Marines’ First Recon Battalion, who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, reveals how the Corps trains its elite and offers a point-blank account of twenty-first-century battle.
If the Marines are “the few, the proud,” Recon Marines are the fewest and the proudest. Only one Marine in a hundred qualifies for Recon, charged with working clandestinely, often behind enemy lines. Fick’s training begins with a hellish summer at Quantico, after his junior year at Dartmouth, and advances to the pinnacle -- Recon -- four years later, on the eve of war with Iraq. Along the way, he learns to shoot a man a mile away, stays awake for seventy-two hours straight, endures interrogation and torture at the secretive SERE course, learns to swim with Navy SEALs, masters the Eleven Principles of Leadership, and much more.
His vast skill set puts him in front of the front lines, leading twenty-two Marines into the deadliest conflict since Vietnam. He vows he will bring all his men home safely, and to do so he’ll need more than his top-flight education. He’ll need luck and an increasingly clear vision of the limitations of his superiors and the missions they assign him. Fick unveils the process that makes Marine officers such legendary leaders and shares his hard-won insights into the differences between the military ideals he learned and military practice, which can mock those ideals. One Bullet Away never shrinks from blunt truths, but it is an ultimately inspiring account of mastering the art of war.

No story has been more central to America's history this century than the rise of Barack Obama, and until now, no journalist or historian has written a book that fully investigates the circumstances and experiences of Obama's life or explores the ambition behind his rise. Those familiar with Obama's own best-selling memoir or his campaign speeches know the touchstones and details that he chooses to emphasize, but now--from a writer whose gift for illuminating the historical significance of unfolding events is without peer--we have a portrait, at once masterly and fresh, nuanced and unexpected, of a young man in search of himself, and of a rising politician determined to become the first African-American president.The Bridge offers the most complete account yet of Obama's tragic father, a brilliant economist who abandoned his family and ended his life as a beaten man; of his mother, Stanley Ann...

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