The Great Mortality
Rating:The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time, by John Kelly. HarperCollins (2005), 356 pages.
Thirty million people dead in Europe, a third of the Middle East wiped out, and China “depopulated.” Look no further for your definitive history of the Black Plague of 1347-1349: where it came from and how it spread (a map is included), what caused it, and, especially,
The Devil’s Teeth
Rating:The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks, by Susan Casey. Henry Holt and Company (2005), 291 pages.
It’s not often I come across a nonfiction book that is a can’t-put-it-down, stay-up-all-night page turner. But this book about the Farallone Islands, the great white sharks who live there, and the researchers who study them is just such a book.
Rating:Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China, by Leslie T. Chang. Spiegel & Grau (2009), 436 pages.
This book provides a multifaceted understanding of those three little words we cannot escape: “Made in China.” We think we have some understanding of the words—we know that for the factory workers the hours are long, the pay minimal,
The Elephant Whisperer
Rating:The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild, by Lawrence Anthony. Thomas Dunne Books (2009), 368 pages.
Anthony tells the story here of his life on a game reserve in South Africa. He makes a point in the prologue of letting us know that he is not the “elephant whisperer” the title suggests (which I was pleased to hear,
Rating:Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, by Barbara Ehrenreich. Metropolitan Books (2009), 235 pages.
Ehrenreich is making all kinds of really excellent points in this book. Yes, being told you must face your chemotherapy treatment with optimism and good cheer would be extremely annoying.
The Children’s Blizzard
Rating:The Children’s Blizzard, by David Laskin. HarperCollins (2004), 318 pages.
From On the Banks of Plum Creek, by Laura Ingalls Wilder:
“Then I’d better get the wood up before we go to town,” said Pa. “I don’t like the sound of that wind, and they tell me that Minnesota blizzards come up fast and sudden. I heard of some folks that went to town
Strength in What Remains
Rating:Strength in What Remains, by Tracy Kidder. Random House (2009), 277 pages.
Kidder tells the story in Strength in What Remains of Deo, a young man from Burundi who survives the Hutu/Tutsi massacres in 1994 and arrives in New York City with only $200, no knowledge of English, no friends or family,
Rating:The Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier, by Scott Zesch. St. Martin’s Press (2004), 382 pages.
This is a book about child abductions, perpetrated by the Native Americans against the settlers, in a very specific place and time: Texas hill country in the 1860s-1870s. With child abductions so prevalent in the news this month
How to Raise the Perfect Dog
Rating:How to Raise the Perfect Dog: Through Puppyhood and Beyond, by Cesar Millan. Harmony Books (2009), 303 pages.
This is not a book that will teach you how to train a puppy. There are no detailed instructions for housebreaking, leash walking, or any of the other many challenges the owner of a puppy will face.
Rating:The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream, by Patrick Radden Keefe. Doubleday (2009), 414 pages.
In June of 1993, in the middle of the night, a ship ran aground a few hundred yards off the Rockaway Peninsula in New York. Two Park Police officers doing a routine patrol saw the ship and, moments later, heard the screams of the passengers who were throwing themselves overboard.