Search Library Catalog
March 6, 2009 Edition
“Crosscurrents North,” edited by Marybeth Holleman and Anne Coray. This collection of essays and poems from writers all around Alaska is a kaleidoscopic look at the Alaskan environment. Treehuggers rub shoulders with hunters and fishermen, both subsistence and sport, and all have something to say about the land they live in and love. A Native leader writes about the effects of oil drilling on his people, a park ranger ponders the ways tourists are sold “pristine” wilderness experiences, and others consider the ways limited resources, be they fish, animals, or timber, are allocated between commercial, subsistence, and sport uses. Whether you read straight through, browse leisurely, or use the thematic contents groupings at the end to direct your reading, you’ll find plenty of food for thought and memory.
Rossi gives readers a relaxed but informed view of what’s going on in the Middle East, proving she knows her audience by starting out with the historical basics before exploring more recent events, country by country. This is not a dry list of facts, though; she allows her love of the Middle East and her experiences there to shine through into her prose. (While she does have some biases, she states them clearly in her introduction: concerned readers shouldn’t skip it.) The short chapters titled “Cheat Sheets” are particularly useful for readers who need very quick, very basic overviews before diving into the meatier chapters. Rossi also gives an extensive list of online and written resources for those who’d like to read more on the topic.
With its great cheesy B-movie style cover to catch the eye, readers unfamiliar with Plait’s wit and intelligence may be surprised to find solidly researched and well-written scenarios inside. As a renowned astronomer who runs an extremely popular and award-winning website (www.badastronomy.com), Plait is in the enviable position of knowing his complex subject so well that he can simplify and entertain without losing any accuracy. He opens the book with a cheery thought: sure, the universe is trying to kill you, but then, it’s trying to kill everyone; and continues scaring the pants off readers with in-depth discussions of the horrors of gamma-ray bursts and the likelihood of a devastating meteor strike. But he also gives enough background to reassure readers in myriad ways: the odds are low or the time-frame millennial, for instance.
The Barrow Whalers football team is a source of pride for their town; little kids think the players are heroes, adults see the game as a chance to help teens stay out of trouble, and the high schoolers themselves are anxious to be part of the larger world they see on TV. But it all comes at a cost: nearly $20,000 every time the team brings another school in to play, and about the same for away games, though the Whalers try to squeeze several games into every trip away. Is it worth it? Freedman spent the 2007 season in Barrow, watching games, talking with players, coaches, and townspeople, and keeping an eye out for polar bears on the field.