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October 14, 2010 Edition
You may not agree with Alexander’s central premise (that The Illiad is far from the ode to the glory of war which it is so often interpreted as), but you won’t be disappointed with her argument. Besides providing evidence that Homer wrote The Illiad as a caution against unnecessary war, she also puts the story in the context of its time with the aid of other contemporary writers such as Hesiod. Those who have read The Illiad before may be tempted to read it again, and those who have been putting it off will have the background to start after listening to this detailed, engagingly written analysis.
Martin Luther King, Jr. – the essential box set, edited by Clayborne Carson, Peter Holloran, and Kris Shepard
Twenty-four of King’s great speeches and sermons are collected here (twelve of each), each introduced with commentary from other theologians and civil rights leaders. Listen to speeches such as I Have a Dream and sermons including A Knock at Midnight in King’s own voice and feel the power of a great orator in his element.
John Gilkey is a shop-lifter, a thief, and a forger, but not for profit. He loves books, the rarer the better, and he’s become proficient at hiding books under his coat at shows, forging signatures on checks and lifting credit card numbers from unguarded cards in the continual quest for more. Ken Sanders is a book collector and dealer who sees a pattern in the book thefts and makes it his duty to find out who is quietly and illegally collecting a fortune in rare tomes – and why. And Allison Bartlett is the writer who becomes obsessed herself with the cat-and-mouse game between the two men, and its outcome.
Ten tattooed bikers came together to use their unabashedly tough images to straighten out what they call “loser abusers” – people who neglect or mistreat the animals in their care. Tips from concerned neighbors have led them to help dogs, cats, horses, pigs, and other animals from bad situations in New York, but, be prepared - not every event has a happy ending. There’s a little background on each group member, but mostly this is about the animals.
This largely satisfying account of the rise of Led Zeppelin and its members is also a look at a golden era in rock music that is no more. Complete with band member interviews, a thorough investigation of Jimmy Page’s interest in the occult, and an exploration of the relationship between home life and on-the-road excesses, this account of the lives of rock gods will fascinate and intrigue listeners. Vance’s proper and precise British reading provides an interesting counterpoint to the subject matter.
This collection of essays is a little uneven but largely amazing. Smith gathers her writing into five groups: Reading, Being, Seeing, Feeling, and Remembering, and tackles such varied subjects as Kafka, her father’s sense of humor, a trip to Liberia, and a night at the Oscars with wit and energy. It’s not often that readers encounter exciting literary criticism, but Smith’s fluid style and obvious love of Nabokov and David Foster Wallace make for thrilling listening.
Scottoline writes a column for her hometown newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, in which she presents life as she lives it: the horror of being braless in the emergency room, the compensations of hot flashes, the minefield of mother-daughter relationships, and much more. Sassy and funny, Scottoline reads like a cross between Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry and proves that even though she’s Italian, she can do a lot more in 700 words than just say hello.