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August 25, 2011 Edition
Ackerman and her husband, Paul West, shared a love of (and facility with) language that bound them together more firmly than they ever realized. So, when West suffered a stroke after surgery and was unable to speak, it affected the couple as much or more than did his immobility. Fortunately for both of them, Ackerman’s research while writing An Alchemy of Mind gave her more tools than the average person in helping her husband recover. This is a story of love, ingenuity, persistence, and necessity that ends with West and Ackerman living happily and healthily together.
Part memoir, part who-dunnit, this is the story of the founder of the FBI’s Art Crimes department. In his twenty-year career, Wittman befriended scammers, art thieves, forgers, and black market traders across the world – only to betray them in the end. His cases include recovering an original copy of the Bill of Rights, Geronimo’s war bonnet, and the manuscript of Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth. But though his job’s perks allowed him to come face-to-face with these and other priceless pieces of history, one of the drawbacks has been a certain loss of ease in museums – he says he can’t stop studying their security and display systems. Fast-paced and fascinating, this is slick production guaranteed to keep you listening.
Though we own the print version of this collection of essays and interviews by Cavett, the audio version is the way to go. Cavett’s delivery will have you chuckling even when you don’t agree with his words. His recollections of his shows with Bette Davis, Richard Nixon, Groucho Marx, and other luminaries of the day are full of fun and interesting tidbits about the guests and himself. Take the political essays with a grain of salt: they were written before the 2008 elections and seem dated now, though it is interesting to remember what the nation’s mindset was way back then.
Readers who paid close attention to the coverage of the Gulf Oil disaster of 2010 won’t find much really new here, but readers who are curious now that the media attention has died down will find this a comprehensive, well-organized and well-written book. Look for detailed information about the geology of the Gulf, a history of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig (including its dismal safety record), the impact on the spill on the land and sea and the human communities that live in the area. All is not gloom and doom: Lehner and Deans look into the future to suggest changes in government policies that could influence oil companies towards a safer approach to drilling as well as steps individuals can take to begin to reduce our dependence on oil.
Starting from the premise that great heroines can act as inspirations to readers, Blakemore chooses a female character from each of 12 authors to illustrate a particular moral quality that she finds admirable. She uses, for instance, Celie, from The Color Purple, to illustrate Dignity, and Elizabeth Bennett, from Pride and Prejudice, to show Self. Her analyses of characters are necessarily brief: Celie, of course is a lot more than just Dignity personified, but Blakemore keeps her focus on that aspect of Celie’s character. Pick up this quick listen to discover read-alikes (she includes characters from other titles that illustrate the same qualities), or to rediscover old friends, or even as a springboard to start you thinking about the characters and qualities you find admirable and well-illustrated in the books you love – you won’t be disappointed.