Wednesday, March 6, 2019

short stories and war





March is chockablock full of fun library adventures, so be sure to check the calendar at www.eolib.org to plan out your month! Meditation, yoga, a free author event , and more are just a click on “Registration” away!

The Genre Reading Group met recently to discuss short story collections.

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Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • THE EMMY AWARD–WINNING HBO MINISERIES STARRING FRANCES MCDORMAND, RICHARD JENKINS, AND BILL MURRAY

In a voice more powerful and compassionate than ever before, New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Strout binds together thirteen rich, luminous narratives into a book with the heft of a novel, through the presence of one larger-than-life, unforgettable character: Olive Kitteridge.

At the edge of the continent, Crosby, Maine, may seem like nowhere, but seen through this brilliant writer’s eyes, it’s in essence the whole world, and the lives that are lived there are filled with all of the grand human drama–desire, despair, jealousy, hope, and love.

At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance: a former student who has lost the will to live: Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.

As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life–sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition–its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY
People • USA Today • The Atlantic • The Washington Post Book World • Seattle Post-Intelligencer • Entertainment Weekly • The Christian Science Monitor • San Francisco Chronicle • Salon • San Antonio Express-News • Chicago Tribune • The Wall Street Journal

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After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones

WINNER, Best Collection of the Year, THIS IS HORROR
NOMINATED, Best Collection of the Year, BRAM STOKER AWARDS
NOMINATED, Best Collection of the Year, SHIRLEY JACKSON AWARDS

The fifteen stories in After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones explore the horrors and fears of the supernatural and the everyday. Included are two original stories, several rarities and out of print narratives, as well as a few "best of the year" inclusions. In "Thirteen," horrors lurk behind the flickering images on the big screen. "Welcome to the Reptile House" reveals the secrets that hide in our flesh. In "The Black Sleeve of Destiny," a single sweatshirt leads to unexpectedly dark adventures. And the title story, "After the People Lights Have Gone Off," is anything but your typical haunted house story.

With an introduction by Edgar Award winner Joe R. Lansdale, and featuring fifteen full-page illustrations by Luke Spooner, After the People Lights Have Gone Off gets under your skin and stays there.

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I Am, I Am, I Am is Maggie O'Farrell's astonishing memoir of the near-death experiences that have punctuated and defined her life. The childhood illness that left her bedridden for a year, which she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. An encounter with a disturbed man on a remote path. And, most terrifying of all, an ongoing, daily struggle to protect her daughter--for whom this book was written--from a condition that leaves her unimaginably vulnerable to life's myriad dangers.

Seventeen discrete encounters with Maggie at different ages, in different locations, reveal a whole life in a series of tense, visceral snapshots. In taut prose that vibrates with electricity and restrained emotion, O'Farrell captures the perils running just beneath the surface, and illuminates the preciousness, beauty, and mysteries of life itself.

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Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, this stunning debut collection unerring charts the emotional journeys of characters seeking love beyond the barriers of nations and generations. In stories that travel from India to America and back again, Lahiri speaks with universal eloquence to everyone who has ever felt like a foreigner.

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Kate Chopin's "The Awakening" is one of literature's most influential short stories and popular in literature courses. Included here are several other of her stories: "Beyond the Bayo," "Ma'ame Pelagie," "Desiree's Baby," "A Respectable Woman," "The Kiss," "A Pair of Silk Stockings," "The Locket," and "A Reflection."

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39 true spy stories from Greek antiquity to the Cold War, selected by the former CIA chief.

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This scorching collection from award-winning author Thom Jones features his best new short fiction alongside a selection of outstanding stories from three previous books. Jones's stories are full of high-octane, prose-drunk entertainment. His characters are grifters and drifters, rogues and ne'er-do-wells, would-be do-gooders whose human frailties usually get the better of them. Some are lovable, others are not, but each has an indelible and irresistible voice. They include Vietnam soldiers, amateur boxers, devoted doctors, strung-out advertising writers, pill poppers and veterans of the psych ward, and an unforgettable adolescent DJ radio host, among others.

The stories here are excursions into a unique world that veers between abject desperation and fleeting transcendence. Perhaps no other writer in recent memory could encapsulate in such short spaces the profound and the devastating, the poignant and the hallucinatory, with such an exquisite balance of darkness and light. Jones's fiction reveals again and again the resilience and grace of characters who refuse to succumb. In stories that can at once delight us with their wicked humor and sting us with their affecting pathos, Night Train perfectly captures the essence of this iconic American master, showcasing in a single collection the breadth of power of his inimitable fiction.

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Fragile Things is a sterling collection of exceptional tales from Neil Gaiman, multiple award-winning (the Hugo, Bram Stoker, Newberry, and Eisner Awards, to name just a few), #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Graveyard Book, Anansi Boys, Coraline, and the groundbreaking Sandman graphic novel series. A uniquely imaginative creator of wonders whose unique storytelling genius has been acclaimed by a host of literary luminaries from Norman Mailer to Stephen King, Gaiman’s astonishing powers are on glorious displays in Fragile Things. Enter and be amazed!

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Tales of the Macabre by Edgar Allan Poe

A unique edition of some of Edgar Allan Poe's famous short stories, Tales of the Macabre takes the reader into the heart of a dozen stories, including The Fall of The House of Usher, Berenice, and The Black Cat…all beautifully illustrated by Benjamin Lacombe. Includes Charles Baudelaire's essay on Poe's life and works.

The Great Non-Freeze of January 2019 derailed our meeting to discuss books on war, so we doubled up on our topic at February short story collection meeting.

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From the racetrack to the battlefield—dauntless, fearless, and exemplar of Semper Fi—she was Reckless, "pride of the Marines."

A Mongolian mare who was bred to be a racehorse, Ah-Chim-Hai, or Flame-of-the-Morning, belonged to a young boy named Kim-Huk-Moon. In order to pay for a prosthetic leg for his sister, Kim made the difficult decision to sell his beloved companion. Lieutenant Eric Pedersen purchased the bodacious mare and renamed her Reckless, for the Recoilless Rifles Platoon, Anti-Tank Division, of the 5th Marines she’d be joining.

The four-legged equine braved minefields and hailing shrapnel to deliver ammunition to her division on the frontlines. In one day alone, performing fifty-one trips up and down treacherous terrain, covering a distance of over thirty-five miles, and rescuing wounded comrades-in-arms, Reckless demonstrated her steadfast devotion to the Marines who had become her herd.

Despite only measuring about thirteen hands high, this pint-sized equine became an American hero. Reckless was awarded two Purple Hearts for her valor and was officially promoted to staff sergeant twice, a distinction never bestowed upon an animal before or since.

Author Robin Hutton has reignited excitement about this nearly forgotten legend, realizing the Sgt. Reckless Memorial Monument at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, completed in July 2013, and now spurring the creation of a second memorial at Camp Pendleton, California, where Reckless lived out the rest of her days.

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A human drama unlike any other—the riveting and definitive full story of the worst sea disaster in United States naval history.

Just after midnight on July 30, 1945, days after delivering the components of the atomic bomb from California to the Pacific Islands in the most highly classified naval mission of the war, USS Indianapolis is sailing alone in the center of the Philippine Sea when she is struck by two Japanese torpedoes. The ship is instantly transformed into a fiery cauldron and sinks within minutes. Some 300 men go down with the ship. Nearly 900 make it into the water alive. For the next five nights and four days, almost three hundred miles from the nearest land, the men battle injuries, sharks, dehydration, insanity, and eventually each other. Only 316 will survive.

For the better part of a century, the story of USS Indianapolis has been understood as a sinking tale. The reality, however, is far more complicated—and compelling. Now, for the first time, thanks to a decade of original research and interviews with 107 survivors and eyewit­nesses, Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic tell the complete story of the ship, her crew, and their final mission to save one of their own.

It begins in 1932, when Indianapolis is christened and launched as the ship of state for President Franklin Roosevelt. After Pearl Harbor, Indianapolis leads the charge to the Pacific Islands, notching an unbroken string of victories in an uncharted theater of war. Then, under orders from President Harry Truman, the ship takes aboard a superspy and embarks on her final world-changing mission: delivering the core of the atomic bomb to the Pacific for the strike on Hiroshima. Vincent and Vladic provide a visceral, moment-by-moment account of the disaster that unfolds days later after the Japanese torpedo attack, from the chaos on board the sinking ship to the first moments of shock as the crew plunge into the remote waters of the Philippine Sea, to the long days and nights during which terror and hunger morph into delusion and desperation, and the men must band together to survive.

Then, for the first time, the authors go beyond the men’s rescue to chronicle Indianapolis’s extraordinary final mission: the survivors’ fifty-year fight for justice on behalf of their skipper, Captain Charles McVay III, who is wrongly court-martialed for the sinking. What follows is a captivating courtroom drama that weaves through generations of American presidents, from Harry Truman to George W. Bush, and forever entwines the lives of three captains—McVay, whose life and career are never the same after the scandal; Mochitsura Hashimoto, the Japanese sub commander who sinks Indianapolis but later joins the battle to exonerate McVay; and William Toti, the captain of the modern-day submarine Indianapolis, who helps the survivors fight to vindicate their captain.

A sweeping saga of survival, sacrifice, justice, and love, Indianapolis stands as both groundbreaking naval history and spellbinding narrative—and brings the ship and her heroic crew back to full, vivid, unforgettable life. It is the definitive account of one of the most remarkable episodes in American history.

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General George S. Patton, Jr. died under mysterious circumstances in the months following the end of World War II. For almost seventy years, there has been suspicion that his death was not an accident--and may very well have been an act of assassination. Killing Patton takes readers inside the final year of the war and recounts the events surrounding Patton's tragic demise, naming names of the many powerful individuals who wanted him silenced.

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WINNER OF THE PEN AWARD FOR RESEARCH NONFICTION

In the chaotic last days of the war, a small troop of battle-weary American soldiers captures a German spy and makes an astonishing find—his briefcase is empty but for photos of beautiful white horses that have been stolen and kept on a secret farm behind enemy lines. Hitler has stockpiled the world’s finest purebreds in order to breed the perfect military machine—an equine master race. But with the starving Russian army closing in, the animals are in imminent danger of being slaughtered for food.

With only hours to spare, one of the U.S. Army’s last great cavalrymen, Colonel Hank Reed, makes a bold decision—with General George Patton’s blessing—to mount a covert rescue operation. Racing against time, Reed’s small but determined force of soldiers, aided by several turncoat Germans, steals across enemy lines in a last-ditch effort to save the horses.

Pulling together this multistranded story, Elizabeth Letts introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters: Alois Podhajsky, director of the famed Spanish Riding School of Vienna, a former Olympic medalist who is forced to flee the bomb-ravaged Austrian capital with his entire stable in tow; Gustav Rau, Hitler’s imperious chief of horse breeding, a proponent of eugenics who dreams of genetically engineering the perfect warhorse for Germany; and Tom Stewart, a senator’s son who makes a daring moonlight ride on a white stallion to secure the farm’s surrender.

A compelling account for animal lovers and World War II buffs alike, The Perfect Horse tells for the first time the full story of these events. Elizabeth Letts’s exhilarating tale of behind-enemy-lines adventure, courage, and sacrifice brings to life one of the most inspiring chapters in the annals of human valor.

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The War of 1812 saw America threatened on every side. Encouraged by the British, Indian tribes attacked settlers in the West, while the Royal Navy terrorized the coasts. By mid-1814, President James Madison’s generals had lost control of the war in the North, losing battles in Canada. Then British troops set the White House ablaze, and a feeling of hopelessness spread across the country.

Into this dire situation stepped Major General Andrew Jackson, who feared that President Madison’s men were overlooking the most important target of all: New Orleans. If the British conquered New Orleans, they would control the mouth of the Mississippi River, cutting Americans off from that essential trade route. The new nation’s dreams of western expansion would be crushed before they really got off the ground.

Jackson had to convince President Madison and his War Department to take him seriously, even though he wasn’t one of the Virginians and New Englanders who dominated the government. He had to assemble a coalition of frontier militiamen, French-speaking Louisianans, Cherokee and Choctaw Indians, freed slaves, and even some pirates. And then he had to face the most powerful military force in the world, in the confusing terrain of the Louisiana bayous.

As they did in their previous bestsellers, Kilmeade and Yaeger make history come alive with a riveting true story that will keep you turning the pages. You’ll finish with a new understanding of one of our greatest generals and a renewed appreciation for the brave men who fought so that America could one day stretch “from sea to shining sea.”

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A Fable by William Faulkner

This novel won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1955. An allegorical story of World War I, set in the trenches in France and dealing ostensibly with a mutiny in a French regiment, it was originally considered a sharp departure for Faulkner. Recently it has come to be recognized as one of his major works and an essential part of the Faulkner oeuvre. His descriptions of the war "rise to magnificence," according to The New York Times, and include, in Malcolm Cowley's words, "some of the most powerful scenes he ever conceived."

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\The Lines We Leave Behind by Eliza Graham

England, 1947: A young woman finds herself under close observation in an insane asylum, charged with a violent crime she has no memory of committing. As she tries to make sense of her recent past, she recalls very little.

But she still remembers wartime in Yugoslavia. There she and her lover risked everything to carry out dangerous work resisting the Germans—a heroic campaign in which many brave comrades were lost. After that, the trail disappears into confusion. How did she come to be trapped in a living nightmare?
As she struggles to piece together the missing years of her life, she will have to confront the harrowing experiences of her special-operations work and peacetime marriage. Only then can she hope to regain the vital memories that will uncover the truth: is she really a violent criminal…or was she betrayed?

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The Vietnam War: An Intimate History by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick

The Vietnam War, an immersive ten-part, eighteen hour documentary film series directed by acclaimed filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, tells the epic story of one of the most divisive, consequential and misunderstood events in American history, as it has never before been told on film.

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Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) leaves his university studies to enlist in combat duty in Vietnam in 1967. Once he's on the ground in the middle of battle, his idealism fades. Infighting in his unit between Staff Sergeant Barnes (Tom Berenger), who believes nearby villagers are harboring Viet Cong soldiers, and Sergeant Elias (Willem Dafoe), who has a more sympathetic view of the locals, ends up pitting the soldiers against each other as well as against the enemy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

reader's roundtable


The next Genre Reading Group meeting will be Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at 6:30pm in the Library’s conference room and the topic up for discussion will be warfare.

January is chockablock full of fun programs so click here to peruse the Library’s online calendar and make plans! 

This week, the Genre Reading Group met for one of our biannual salon discussions, where there is no assigned topic.  Participants share whatever they’ve been reading lately!

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Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

The #1 New York Times bestseller and feel-good YA of the year—about Willowdean Dixon, the fearless, funny, and totally unforgettable heroine who takes on her small town’s beauty pageant.
Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body.

With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.


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The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Winter lasts most of the year at the edge of the Russian wilderness, and in the long nights, Vasilisa and her siblings love to gather by the fire to listen to their nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, Vasya loves the story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon. Wise Russians fear him, for he claims unwary souls, and they honor the spirits that protect their homes from evil.

Then Vasya’s widowed father brings home a new wife from Moscow. Fiercely devout, Vasya’s stepmother forbids her family from honoring their household spirits, but Vasya fears what this may bring. And indeed, misfortune begins to stalk the village.

But Vasya’s stepmother only grows harsher, determined to remake the village to her liking and to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for marriage or a convent. As the village’s defenses weaken and evil from the forest creeps nearer, Vasilisa must call upon dangerous gifts she has long concealed—to protect her family from a threat sprung to life from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

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The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Katherine Arden’s enchanting first novel introduced readers to an irresistible heroine. Vasilisa has grown up at the edge of a Russian wilderness, where snowdrifts reach the eaves of her family’s wooden house and there is truth in the fairy tales told around the fire. Vasilisa’s gift for seeing what others do not won her the attention of Morozko—Frost, the winter demon from the stories—and together they saved her people from destruction. But Frost’s aid comes at a cost, and her people have condemned her as a witch.

Now Vasilisa faces an impossible choice. Driven from her home by frightened villagers, the only options left for her are marriage or the convent. She cannot bring herself to accept either fate and instead chooses adventure, dressing herself as a boy and setting off astride her magnificent stallion Solovey.

But after Vasilisa prevails in a skirmish with bandits, everything changes. The Grand Prince of Moscow anoints her a hero for her exploits, and she is reunited with her beloved sister and brother, who are now part of the Grand Prince’s inner circle. She dares not reveal to the court that she is a girl, for if her deception were discovered it would have terrible consequences for herself and her family. Before she can untangle herself from Moscow’s intrigues—and as Frost provides counsel that may or may not be trustworthy—she will also confront an even graver threat lying in wait for all of Moscow itself.

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The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden (to be published January 8, 2019)

Reviewers called Katherine Arden’s novels The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower “lyrical,” “emotionally stirring,” and “utterly bewitching.” The Winternight Trilogy introduced an unforgettable heroine, Vasilisa Petrovna, a girl determined to forge her own path in a world that would rather lock her away. Her gifts and her courage have drawn the attention of Morozko, the winter-king, but it is too soon to know if this connection will prove a blessing or a curse.

Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.

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The Norton Reader (6th Edition) (NOT AVAILABLE IN JCLC SYSTEM)

The Norton Reader has long been the standard bearer for liberal arts composition readers. The editors' goals have always been the same: to collect the very best essays, by the very best writers, and place them between two covers.

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A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

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The Best American Essays of the Century edited by Joyce Carol Oates

This singular collection is nothing less than a political, spiritual, and intensely personal record of America’s tumultuous modern age, as experienced by our foremost critics, commentators, activists, and artists. Joyce Carol Oates has collected a group of works that are both intimate and important, essays that move from personal experience to larger significance without severing the connection between speaker and audience.

From Ernest Hemingway covering bullfights in Pamplona to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” these essays fit, in the words of Joyce Carol Oates, “into a kind of mobile mosaic suggest[ing] where we’ve come from, and who we are, and where we are going.” Among those whose work is included are Mark Twain, John Muir, T. S. Eliot, Richard Wright, Vladimir Nabokov, James Baldwin, Tom Wolfe, Susan Sontag, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Joan Didion, Cynthia Ozick, Saul Bellow, Stephen Jay Gould, Edward Hoagland, and Annie Dillard.

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Reel Justice: The Courtroom Goes to the Movies by Paul Bergman and Michael Asimow

From the earliest days of the movies, filmmakers have turned to the courtroom for stories because it is an ideal setting for both drama and comedy. Fans of those courtroom movies can turn to Reel Justice for a verdict on both recent and classic courtroom films. Informative and entertaining, Reel Justice rates trial scenes in films on a one-to-four-gavel scale, with four being a classic and one being "ask for a new trial." Authors Paul Bergman and Michael Asimow, both accomplished law professionals, discuss the cultural messages encoded in the films, point out what went right and wrong in scenes where liberties were taken, and even answer a few legal questions along the way. Completely revised and reformatted from the successful first edition, this new edition of Reel Justice includes more than two dozen recent movies as well as many older favorites that weren't covered in the first version.

Just a few of the films reviewed: * A Time to Kill * Legally Blonde * Philadelphia * Inherit the Wind * A Few Good Men * The Devil's Advocate * I Am Sam * Intolerable Cruelty * Rules of Engagement * Twelve Angry Men * Ghosts of Mississippi * Runaway Jury Reel Justice is an indispensable video guide for film viewers who want the legal lowdown on courtroom scenes.

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The Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations by Bart Ehrman & Zlatko Plese

Bart Ehrman--the New York Times bestselling author of Misquoting Jesus and a recognized authority on the early Christian Church--and Zlatko Plese here offer a groundbreaking, multi-lingual edition of the Apocryphal Gospels, one that breathes new life into the non-canonical texts that were once nearly lost to history.

In The Apocryphal Gospels, Ehrman and Plese present a rare compilation of over 40 ancient gospel texts and textual fragments that do not appear in the New Testament. This essential collection contains Gospels describing Jesus's infancy, ministry, Passion, and resurrection, as well as the most controversial manuscript discoveries of modern times, including the most significant Gospel discovered in the 20th century--the Gospel of Thomas--and the most recently discovered Gospel, the Gospel of Judas Iscariot. For the first time ever, these sacred manuscripts are featured in the original Greek, Latin, and Coptic languages, accompanied by fresh English translations that appear next to the original texts, allowing for easy line by line comparison. Also, each translation begins with a thoughtful examination of key historical, literary, and textual issues that places each Gospel in its proper context. The end result is a resource that enables anyone interested in Christianity or the early Church to understand--better than ever before--the deeper meanings of these apocryphal Gospels.

The Apocryphal Gospels is much more than an annotated guide to the Gospels. Through its authoritative use of both native text and engaging, accurate translations, it provides an unprecedented look at early Christianity and the New Testament. This is an indispensable volume for any reader interested in church history, antiquity, ancient languages, or the Christian faith.

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Rock Your Ugly Christmas Sweater by Anne Marie Blackman

Based off the popular website of the same name, Rock Your Ugly Christmas Sweater celebrates ugly Christmas sweaters year-round and showcases hilarious photos of people and pets wearing some of the ugliest holiday sweaters ever.

More colorful than visions of sugarplums and jollier than a sleigh full of inebriated elves, ugly Christmas sweaters are a global holiday tradition celebrated by all ages and walks of life. With more than 200 photos, humorous captions, and chapters like Vintage Sweater Fun, Classic Sweaters from the '80s and '90s, Winter Wonderland, and Best of the Best, this book is here to help you spread the holiday cheer and maybe get some new ideas for this year's ugly Christmas sweater party -- horrid fringe, creepy elves, gaudy snowmen, and light-up reindeer are just the beginning!

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A history of the Christmas tradition in Atlanta spanning 50 years.

Click here to listen to an NPR All Things Considered spot on the Pink Pig from 12/24/2008.

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Snow is falling, and the clock ticks toward midnight on Christmas Eve while countless children, too excited to sleep, anticipate the arrival of Santa Claus. But in Tim Slover’s deeply charming and utterly thrilling new novel, that’s the end rather than the beginning of the story. In this richly imagined tale of Santa’s origins, the man in full finally emerges. The Christmas Chronicles is at once an action-packed adventure, an inspiring story of commitment and faith, and a moving love story.

It all starts in 1343, when the child Klaus is orphaned and adopted by a craftsmen’s guild. The boy will grow to become a master woodworker with an infectious laugh and an unparalleled gift for making toys. His talent and generosity uniquely equip him to bestow hundreds of gifts on children at Christmas—and to court the delightful Anna, who enters his life on a sleigh driven by the reindeer Dasher and becomes his beloved wife.

Still, all is not snowfall and presents. Klaus will be shadowed by the envious Rolf Eckhof, who will stop at nothing to subvert him. But in the end, Santa’s magic is at last unleashed, flying reindeer come to his aid, and an epic battle between good and evil is waged in the frosty Christmas skies.

By turns enchanting, hair-raising, and inspirational, The Christmas Chronicles is a beguiling tale destined to become a holiday favorite for the ages.

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The Known World by Edward P. Jones

One of the most acclaimed novels in recent memory, The Known World is a daring and ambitious work by Pulitzer Prize winner Edward P. Jones.

The Known World tells the story of Henry Townsend, a black farmer and former slave who falls under the tutelage of William Robbins, the most powerful man in Manchester County, Virginia. Making certain he never circumvents the law, Townsend runs his affairs with unusual discipline. But when death takes him unexpectedly, his widow, Caldonia, can't uphold the estate's order, and chaos ensues. Jones has woven a footnote of history into an epic that takes an unflinching look at slavery in all its moral complexities.

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Countless African Americans have passed as white, leaving behind families and friends, roots and communities. It was, as Allyson Hobbs writes, a chosen exile. This history of passing explores the possibilities, challenges, and losses that racial indeterminacy presented to men and women living in a country obsessed with racial distinctions.

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At the age of twenty-four, Winston Churchill was utterly convinced it was his destiny to become prime minister of England. He arrived in South Africa in 1899, valet and crates of vintage wine in tow, to cover the brutal colonial war the British were fighting with Boer rebels and jump-start his political career. But just two weeks later, Churchill was taken prisoner.  Remarkably, he pulled off a daring escape—traversing hundreds of miles of enemy territory, alone, with nothing but a crumpled wad of cash, four slabs of chocolate, and his wits to guide him.

Bestselling author Candice Millard spins an epic story of bravery, savagery, and chance encounters with a cast of historical characters—including Rudyard Kipling, Lord Kitchener, and Mohandas Gandhi—with whom Churchill would later share the world stage. But Hero of the Empire is more than an extraordinary adventure story, for the lessons Churchill took from the Boer War would profoundly affect twentieth century history.

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Three thousand years ago on a battlefield in ancient Palestine, a shepherd boy felled a mighty warrior with nothing more than a pebble and a sling-and ever since, the names of David and Goliath have stood for battles between underdogs and giants. David's victory was improbable and miraculous. He shouldn't have won.

Or should he?

In DAVID AND GOLIATH, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, suffer from a disability, lose a parent, attend a mediocre school, or endure any number of other apparent setbacks.

In the tradition of Gladwell's previous bestsellers-The Tipping PointBlinkOutliers and What the Dog Saw-DAVID AND GOLIATH draws upon history, psychology and powerful story-telling to reshape the way we think of the world around us.

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GENERAL DISCUSSION:  The History Channel recently aired a fascinating film on the hunt for the DNA of Jesus Christ titled “The Jesus Strand: A Search for DNA.”

Now for the first time in history a man of faith and a man of science are teaming up to search for Jesus' DNA. Using the latest advances in DNA technology Oxford University geneticist George Busby and biblical scholar Pastor Joe Basile are investigating the world's most famous holy relics including the Shroud of Turin, The Sudarium of Oviedo and the newly discovered bones of Jesus' cousin, John the Baptist. Their journey takes them to holy sites around the world from Spain and Italy to Israel and the shores of the Black Sea. By extracting and analyzing samples of each of these holy relics they hope to retrieve a sample of DNA that possibly belongs to Jesus or a member of his family. They believe that if they can find a strand of Jesus' DNA it could help identify who among us today are descendants of Jesus and provide us with new insight into the man many consider to be the most important person in history, Jesus.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Alabama history

This week, the Genre Reading Group met to discuss books on Alabama history.  2019 is the 200th anniversary for the state, so be on the lookout for programs and events celebrating the bicentennial!


Includes information on Tallulah Brockman Bankhead -- Ruth Robertson Berrey -- Myrtle Brooke -- Annie Rowan Forney Daugette -- Loula Friend Dunn -- Hallie Farmer -- Henrietta Magnolia Gibbs -- Amelia Gayle Gorgas -- Dixie Bibb Graves -- Agnes Ellen Harris -- Pattie Ruffner Jacobs -- Elizabeth Johnston Evans Johnston -- Helen Adams Keller -- Kathleen Mallory -- Edwina Donnelly Mitchell -- Sister Chrysostom Moynahan -- Marie Bankhead Owen -- Annie Lola Price -- Ruby Pickens Tartt -- Carrie A. Tuggle -- Loraine Bedsole Tunstall -- Julia Strudwick Tutwiler -- Lurleen Burns Wallace -- Margaret James Murray Washington -- Augusta Evans Wilson.


A reign of terror swept the streets of Birmingham in the 1920s. Criminals armed with small axes attacked immigrant merchants and interracial couples, leaving dozens dead or injured over the course of four years. Desperate for answers, police accepted clues from a Ouija board, while citizens clamored for gun permits for protection. The city's Italian immigrants formed their own association as protection against the Black Hand, an organized band of brutal criminals. Eventually, the police turned to a dangerous and untested truth serum to elicit confessions. Four black men and a teenage girl were charged and tried, while copycat killers emerged from the woodwork. Journalist Jeremy Gray tackles one of the most curious and violent cases in Magic City history.

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The Most They Ever Had by Rick Bragg

In the spring of 2001, a community of people in the Appalachian foothills of northern Alabama had come to the edge of all they had ever known. Across the South, padlocks and logging chains bound the doors of silent mills, and it seemed a miracle to blue-collar people in Jacksonville that their mill still bit, shook, and roared. The century-old hardwood floors still trembled under whirling steel, and people worked on, in a mist of white air. The mill had become almost a living thing, rewarding the hardworking and careful with the best payday they ever had, but punishing the careless and clumsy, taking a finger, a hand, more.

The mill was here before the automobile, before the flying machine, and the mill workers served it even as it filled their lungs with lint and shortened their lives. In return, it let them live in stiff-necked dignity in the hills of their fathers. So, when death did come, no one had to ship their bodies home on a train. This is a mill story—not of bricks, steel, and cotton, but of the people who suffered it to live.


"Three Capitals is an in-depth study of Alabama's first three seats of government--St. Stephens, Huntsville, and Cahawba.... The University of Alabama Press has reprinted the book in a handsome new edition with a pertinent introduction by Malcolm C. McMillan. Brantley's study is a tribute to the accomplishments of an amateur historian and contains a wealth of useful information." --Bulletin of the History of the Early American Republic

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Living History in Alabama (NOT AVAILABLE IN THE JCLC)

This vintage travel guide to the state was published in 1969, the 150th anniversary of the state.

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Birmingham View: Through the Years in Photographs published by the Birmingham Historical Society

This book traces Birmingham, Alabama's rapid growth from frontier to full-fledged city during the early 20th century through the photographs produced by the Birmingham View Company (1905-1961)

Most people do not stop to realize how many of their fond memories involve advertising signs. Although these neon spectaculars, billboards, and even signs painted directly onto brick walls were created expressly to persuade customers to buy products or patronize businesses, many such signs remained in place for so long that they became beloved landmarks in their own right. For Images of America: Vintage Birmingham Signs, Tim Hollis has scoured the archives of Birmingham’s former sign companies, as well as other private collections, to compile some of the best remembered or most obscure signs that dotted the urban and suburban landscape. Here readers will again see the Buffalo Rock bottle pouring its ginger ale into a glass, the Golden Flake clown smiling down at passersby, the Barber’s milk clock at the Five Points South intersection, and many more. Through these vintage photographs, readers can once again visit such once-thriving destinations as Eastwood Mall, Burger in a Hurry, and the Kiddieland amusement park.

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Abandoned Birmingham by Leland Kent

Founded in 1871 after the Civil War, Birmingham rapidly grew as an industrial enterprise due to the abundance of the three raw materials used in making steel--iron ore, coal, and limestone. Birmingham's rapid growth was due to the booming iron and steel industries giving it the nickname "Magic City" and "Pittsburgh of the South." The city was named after Birmingham, England, as a nod to the major industrial powerhouse. The iron and steel industries began to dry up by the early 1970s, leaving behind dozens of abandoned structures that now dot the city's landscape. In the last several years, Birmingham has begun to experience a rebirth. Money has been invested in reconstructing the historic downtown area into a pedestrian-friendly mixed-use district. In Abandoned Birmingham, photographer Leland Kent gives the reader an in-depth look at the forgotten buildings and factories throughout the city.

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Mardi Gras in Mobile by L. Craig Roberts

Mardi Gras in Mobile began its carnival celebration years before the city of New Orleans was founded. In the 1700s, mystic societies formed in Mobile, such as the Societe de Saint Louis, believed to be the first in the New World. These curious organizations brought old-world traditions as they held celebrations like parades and balls with themes like Scandinavian mythology and the dream of Pythagoras. Today, more than 800,000 people annually take in the sights, sounds and attractions of the celebration. Historian and preservationist L. Craig Roberts, through extensive research and interviews, explores the captivating and charismatic history of Mardi Gras in the Port City.

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Mountain Brook Village: Then & Now published by the Birmingham Historical Society

This is the story of a village, how it was planned and how it grew over eight decades. Lavishly illustrated, this book tells the story, beginning with historic documents prepared by Jemison & Company before the Great Depression. "This is largely a picture book, with a total of 136 photographs and drawings never seen before" says Marjorie White, Director, Birmingham Historical Society. "In many instances, we show original businesses, businesses that came along later, and the current look and layout of the Village." The pages are fascinating, both in their ability to chronicle one of Birmingham, Alabama's upscale retail markets and as a social history. To see the original plans for the Village (included) and know it today is a testament to the incredible investment in quality planning," says White.


As you travel, by car or by armchair, you will discover The Bear Man's Last Tracks, Little Nadine's Playhouse, The Whiskey Bottle Tombstone, the Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard, and many other stories and places that will raise the hair on your neck, make you laugh, or move you to tears. Of special interest to libraries and genealogists in search of local cemeteries. Complete with black-and-white photos, directions, and state map.

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Alabama: The History of a Deep South State by William Warren Rogers, Leah Rawls Atkins, Robert David Ward, and Wayne Flynt

Once the home of aboriginal inhabitants, Alabama was claimed and occupied by European nations, later to become a permanent part of the United States. A cotton and slave state for more than half of the 19th century, Alabama declared its independence and joined another nation, the Confederate States of America, for its more than four-year history. The state assumed an uneasy and uncertain place in the 19th century’s last 35 years. Its role in the 20th century has been tumultuous but painfully predictable. This comprehensive history, written in the last decade of that century, presents, explains, and interprets the major events that occurred during Alabama’s history within the larger context of the South and the nation.

Alabama: The History of a Deep South State is the first completely new comprehensive account of the state since A.B. Moore’s 1935 work. Divided into three main sections, the first concluding in 1865, the second in 1920, and the third bringing the story to the present, the book’s organization is both chronological and topical.

General readers will welcome this modern history of Alabama, which examines such traditional subjects as politics, military events, economics, and broad social movements. Of equal value are sections devoted to race, Indians, women, and the environment, as well as detailed coverage of health, education, organized labor, civil rights, and the many cultural elements—from literature to sport—that have enriched Alabama’s history. The roles of individual leaders, from politicians to creative artists, are discussed. There is as well strong emphasis on the common people, those Alabamians who have been rightly described as the “bone and sinew” of the state.

Each section of the book was written by a scholar who has devoted much of his or her professional life to the study of that period of Alabama’s past, and although the three sections reflect individual style and interpretation, the authors have collaborated closely on overall themes and organization. The result is an objective look at the colorful, often controversial, state’s past. The work relies both on primary sources and such important secondary sources as monographs, articles, and unpublished theses and dissertations to provide fresh insights, new approaches, and new interpretations.


A landmark work of American photojournalism “renowned for its fusion of social conscience and artistic radicality” (New York Times)

 In the summer of 1936, James Agee and Walker Evans set out on assignment for Fortune magazine to explore the daily lives of sharecroppers in the South. Their journey would prove an extraordinary collaboration and a watershed literary event when, in 1941, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men was first published to enormous critical acclaim. This unsparing record of place, of the people who shaped the land and the rhythm of their lives, is intensely moving and unrelentingly honest, and today—recognized by the New York Public Library as one of the most influential books of the twentieth century—it stands as a poetic tract of its time. With an elegant new design as well as a sixty-four-page photographic prologue featuring archival reproductions of Evans's classic images, this historic edition offers readers a window into a remarkable slice of American history.