Archive for April, 2012

Books to Movies: The Raven and The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Monday, April 30th, 2012

  The Raven, starring John Cusack, Brendan Gleeson and Luke Evans, opened Friday, April 27.  Cusack plays Edgar Allan Poe, whose stories have inspired a deranged serial killer. (Find the Raven and other works by Poe in our catalog)

  The Pirates! Band of Misfits, based on two books by Gideon Defoe, also opened April 27.  Hugh Grant, Brendan Gleeson, Jeremy Piven and Salma Hayek lend their voices to this animated tale. (Find the books in our catalog)


One Maryland One Book 2012

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

  The Cellist of Sarajevo is the 2012 One Maryland One Book Pick! (Find in our catalog

Steven Galloway’s novel, The Cellist of Sarajevo, has been chosen for the Maryland Humanities Council’s statewide reading and discussion program, One Maryland One Book (OMOB).

The title of the book refers to the true story of a cellist who played Albinoni’s “Adagio in G Minor” once a day for 22 days in the streets of Sarajevo to honor the 22 victims who died during a mortar attack while waiting in a bread line. The story, which takes place during the siege of Sarajevo in the early 1990s, is told through the eyes of two men and one woman and offers a gripping and intimate portrait of survival, their grasp to maintain their humanity in a time of war, and hope for the renewal of their devastated city and broken lives. One man braves the dangerous streets to collect water for his family. Another goes in search of a free meal and runs into an old friend from before the war. Lastly there is Arrow, a gifted female sniper, who is asked to protect the cellist from a shooter out to kill him as he plays. It is the cellist’s effect on those who witness his defiant memorial that connects each story—ordinary people caught within a seemingly unending siege.

Find also the audiobook in our catalog. 

Read about the program and the book.

Read about the Author.

Listen to an Author Interview.

Watch a video about the book.

Book to Movie – Savages

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

  Universal released its first trailer for Oliver Stone’s Savages which is adapted from the novel by Don Winslow and stars Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Benecio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, Emile Hirsch and Demian Bichir. reported that “Universal was impressed enough to move the film from fall into the July 6 slot.”

Summary of the novel in our catalog:  “A breakthrough novel that pits young kingpins against a Mexican drug cartel, Savages is a provocative, sexy, and sharply funny thrill ride through the dark side of the war on drugs and beyond. Part-time environmentalist and philanthropist Ben and his ex-mercenary buddy Chon run a Laguna Beach-based marijuana operation, reaping significant profits from their loyal clientele. In the past when their turf was challenged, Chon took care of eliminating the threat. But now they may have come up against something that they can’t handle–the Mexican Baja Cartel wants in, and sends them the message that a “no” is unacceptable. When they refuse to back down, the cartel escalates its threat, kidnapping Ophelia, the boys’ playmate and confidante. O’s abduction sets off a dizzying array of ingenious negotiations and gripping plot twists that will captivate readers eager to learn the costs of freedom and the price of one amazing high. Following “the best summertime crime novel ever” ( San Francisco Chronicle on The Dawn Patrol ), bestselling author Winslow offers up a smash hit in the making. Savages is an ingenious combination of adrenaline-fueled suspense and true-crime reportage by a master thriller writer at the very top of his game.”  (We also have the Audio Book on CDs and an MP3 CD)


Bram Stoker Awards for Horror

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

The Bram Stoker Awards, which recognize superior achievement in horror writing and are sponsored by the Horror Writers Association, have been announced and include:

  Novel: Flesh Eaters by Joe McKinney (Find in our catalog)

Summary in our catalog: “They rise– out of the flooded streets of Houston, they emerge from plague-ridden waters. Dead. Rotting. Hungry. And as human survivors scramble to their rooftops for safety, the zombie hordes circle like sharks. The ultimate killing machines. They feed– Houston is quarantined to halt the spread of the zombie plague. Anyone trying to escape is shot on sight, living and dead. Emergency Ops sergeant Eleanor Norton has her work cut out for her. Salvaging boats and gathering explosives, Eleanor and her team struggle to maintain order. But when civilization finally breaks down, the feeding frenzy begins. They multiply– Biting, gnawing, feasting, but always craving more, the flesheaters increase their ranks every hour. With doomsday looming, Eleanor must focus on the people she loves, her husband and daughter, and a band of other survivors adrift in zombie-infested waters. If she can’t bring them into the quarantine zone, they’re all dead meat.”–Provided by publisher.

  Collection: The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares by Joyce Carol Oates (Find in our catalog)

Summary: “A volume of six stories and novellas by the National Book Award-winning author of We Were the Mulvaneys includes the title story, in which the disappearance of a sweet blonde-haired child is linked to her mother’s indiscretions, a too-obvious schoolteacher and an older student with a fascination for a Native American legend.”


Imagination Interprets Reality

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

  The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt (Find in our catalog)

“When a frontier baron known as the Commodore orders Charlie and Eli Sisters, his hired gunslingers, to track down and kill a prospector named Herman Kermit Warm, the brothers journey from Oregon to San Francisco, and eventually to Warm’s claim in the Sierra foothills, running into a witch, a bear, a dead Indian, a parlor of drunken floozies, and a gang of murderous fur trappers.”

  Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (Find in our catalog)

“Twelve year old Ava must travel into the Underworld part of the swamp in order to save her family’s dynasty of Bigtree alligator wrestling. This novel takes us to the swamps of the Florida Everglades, and introduces us to Ava Bigtree, an unforgettable young heroine. The Bigtree alligator wrestling dynasty is in decline, and Swamplandia!, their island home and gator wrestling theme park, formerly no. 1 in the region, is swiftly being encroached upon by a fearsome and sophisticated competitor called the World of Darkness. Ava’s mother, the park’s indomitable headliner, has just died; her sister, Ossie, has fallen in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, who may or may not be an actual ghost; and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, who dreams of becoming a scholar, has just defected to the World of Darkness in a last ditch effort to keep their family business from going under. Ava’s father, affectionately known as Chief Bigtree, is AWOL; and that leaves Ava, a resourceful but terrified thirteen, to manage ninety eight gators as well as her own grief. Against a backdrop of hauntingly fecund plant life animated by ancient lizards and lawless hungers, the author has written a novel about a family’s struggle to stay afloat in a world that is inexorably sinking.”

  The Tiger’s Wife: a novel by Tea Obreht (Find in our catalog)

“Weaving a brilliant latticework of family legend, loss, and love, Téa Obreht, the youngest of The New Yorker ‘s twenty best American fiction writers under forty, has spun a timeless novel that will establish her as one of the most vibrant, original authors of her generation. In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. By the time she and her lifelong friend Zóra begin to inoculate the children there, she feels age-old superstitions and secrets gathering everywhere around her. Secrets her outwardly cheerful hosts have chosen not to tell her. Secrets involving the strange family digging for something in the surrounding vineyards. Secrets hidden in the landscape itself. But Natalia is also confronting a private, hurtful mystery of her own: the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. After telling her grandmother that he was on his way to meet Natalia, he instead set off for a ramshackle settlement none of their family had ever heard of and died there alone. A famed physician, her grandfather must have known that he was too ill to travel. Why he left home becomes a riddle Natalia is compelled to unravel. Grief struck and searching for clues to her grandfather’s final state of mind, she turns to the stories he told her when she was a child. On their weeklytrips to the zoo he would read to her from a worn copy of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, which he carried with him everywhere; later, he told her stories of his own encounters over many years with “the deathless man,” a vagabond who claimed to be immortal and appeared never to age. But the most extraordinary story of all is the one her grandfather never told her, the one Natalia must discover for herself. One winter during the Second World War, his childhood village was snowbound, cut off even from the encroaching German invaders but haunted by another, fierce presence: a tiger who comes ever closer under cover of darkness. “These stories,” Natalia comes to understand, “run like secret rivers through all the other stories” of her grandfather’s life. And it is ultimately within these rich, luminous narratives that she will find the answer she is looking for.”


Jen’s Jewels with Phillip Margolin

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

As we brace for what will surely be a pivotal election year for both sides of the aisle, what goes on behind closed doors in Washington is just as crucial. Our elected officials are entrusted with our good faith to act in accordance with our best interests whether it advances their political career or not. Sounds good on paper, but these days it seems it is becoming more of a challenge to achieve.

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Phillip Margolin addresses this very topic in his latest political thriller CAPITOL MURDER. Set in historic Washington, D.C. with fan favorite characters private investigator Dana Cutler and lawyer Brad Miller, Margolin delivers a gripping insider’s view of the behind-the-scenes workings of the most powerful country in the world. With exciting plot twists and unforgettable characters, Margolin’s fans will surely be entertained.

As part of this interview, Harper Collins Publishers has generously donated five copies for you, my favorite readers, to try to win. So, don’t forget to look for the trivia question at the end of the column. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels a part of your spring reading list!

Jen: As the author of fifteen New York Times bestselling books, you know firsthand what it takes to become a successful writer. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the man behind the words, please share with us your educational and professional background.

Phillip: I graduated from the American University in Washington, D.C. in 1965 with a B.A. in Government. After two years in the Peace Corps in Liberia, West Africa I went to law school at New York University. During my last two years at NYU I worked my way through school at night by teaching junior high school in the South Bronx. After law school, I clerked for the Chief Judge of the Oregon Court of Appeals. From 1972 to 1996 I was a criminal defense attorney. In addition to a variety of other cases I handled 30 homicides including several death penalty cases and I was the first Oregon attorney to use the Battered Woman’s Syndrome to defend a battered wife accused of killing an abusive spouse. As an appellate attorney I argued at the U.S. Supreme Court, the Oregon Supreme Court and other appellate courts. I wrote part time while practicing law from 1978 – 1981, 1993 – 1996. In 1996 I retired from my law practice to write full-time.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to take the plunge and pursue a career as a writer.

Phillip: There was no “Aha!” moment. I stumbled into a writing career. In my last semester in law school I had some free time so I decided to write a novel because I couldn’t figure out how anyone could possibly do it. The book wasn’t very good, but I enjoyed the writing process and wrote another awful novel. In my 30′s I submitted a mystery story to Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine and was shocked when it was published. That gave me the self-confidence to try to tackle a more serious novel, but I had not taken any writing courses and had never met anyone who had written a book or anyone in publishing so I didn’t know what I was doing. My big break came when Marty Bauer, a friend from law school who I had not seen in many years, came to Oregon on vacation. It turned out that Marty was one of the three lawyers for one of the largest literary agencies in the world. I had five chapters written and I asked Marty if he would show them to someone at the agency who could tell me if the novel was worth completing. Without asking my permission Marty sold the novel and that’s how I became a published writer.

Jen: As a successful attorney in your own right, how did your stellar law career help prepare you for the rigors of the publishing business? And, what has been the most challenging part of the process thus far?

Phillip: The best thing about having legal training is that it teaches you to be objective and unemotional about your work. It’s a big help when you are editing your own book or when you are receiving criticism about it from an editor. The most challenging part of the process so far is that I had no training whatsoever in how to write novels. When I was starting out, I had no idea how to develop characters and they were frequently stick figures in early drafts. I am still learning on the job.

Jen: As I mentioned, all fifteen of your books have hit the New York Times bestseller list. Congratulations! That is quite a feat. As you begin each subsequent novel, how do you cope with the pressure of trying to meet and/or exceed your readers’ expectations to write another blockbuster hit?

Phillip: I don’t have any pressure on me because I write for fun even though I am getting paid for it. Writing a novel for me is like doing a crossword puzzle or solving a chess problem. I have a group of characters and an idea for a plot and the fun is getting them to fit together and make them a book that will entertain people. I never try to write a blockbuster. I try to think up an original idea and see what I can do with it.

Jen: Your latest release CAPITOL MURDER is the third installment of your popular political fiction series. For those readers not familiar with the two previous titles, Executive Privilege and Supreme Justice, please share with us the premise of the series.

Phillip: I have a continuing cast of characters in the three novels in my Washington trilogy. In EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE, Brad Miller is a young lawyer who starts out as the lowliest associate in a large Portland, Oregon law firm. While working on a pro bono case for Clarence Little, a convicted serial killer who is on death row, Brad begins to suspect that his client may be innocent for one of the murders for which he has been given a death sentence and that the President of the United States might be involved in the murder. On the other side of the continent in Washington, D.C. private investigator Dana Cutler stumbles across evidence that leads her to the same conclusion. Together with FBI agent Keith Evans, the trio solves a baffling series of serial murders that may have been committed by people at the highest levels of our government. In SUPREME JUSTICE Brad is working as a clerk at the United States Supreme Court and he, Dana and Keith help to unravel a plot by a former director of the CIA to fix a case in the United States Supreme Court. In the final book in the series, CAPITOL MURDER, Brad is working as a legislative assistant to a United States Senator from Oregon and he, Keith and Dana help to stop terrorists from blowing up FedEx Field where the Washington Redskins play. Meanwhile in Oregon, convicted serial killer Clarence Little escapes from death row and Brad begins to receive threatening letters that indicate Little may be after him.

Jen: The theme of CAPITOL MURDER is relevant to present-day scenarios taking place in Washington. How much research was needed in order for the plot to ring true with your readers? And, what was the most fascinating tidbit you uncovered along the way?

Phillip: I had a great time doing the research for CAPITOL MURDER. One of Oregon’s United States Senators Ron Wyden let me hang out in his office in Washington, D.C. for several days. I got a terrific tour of the Senate and the Capitol from his press secretary. I also got an opportunity to tour the Department of Justice and there were a lot of interesting things that I learned while doing my research. The most interesting things I did was take the Capitol dome tour and peek into the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Jen: As the plot unfolds, Senator Jack Carson’s political career is in jeopardy. How do his misguided extracurricular activities, if you will, affect his ability to perform his duties as a United States Senator? And, how will the choices he has made put the safety of the American people, who he has sworn to protect, at risk?

Phillip: Senator Jack Carson – who is nothing like real life Senator Ron Wyden – gets involved in a sex scandal with a woman who is working with terrorists who are seeking to blow up a football stadium and he is blackmailed into compromising the safety of the American people by feeding information to the terrorists to avoid his political career being destroyed.

Jen: The plot thickens when a group of terrorists devise a plan to blow up an NFL stadium. How does ex-military man Steve Reynolds’ involvement contribute to the future of the senator’s career?

Phillip: Steve Reynolds is the person who is organizing the attack on FedEx field. If the Senator’s involvement is discovered, his career will be destroyed and he will go to prison.

Jen: When serial killer Clarence Little escapes death row, recurring character Brad Miller is put on high alert in fear for his safety and that of his newlywed wife’s. In what ways does this recent development cause Brad to become more cognizant of what may be going on in the Senator’s office?

Phillip: Little has just pulled off a brilliant escape from death row and Brad fears that Little is after him. A key character is murdered in Senator Carson’s house and the MO is identical to Clarence Little’s MO and the murder victim has been blackmailing the Senator into helping the terrorist plot.

Jen: Let’s take a side step now and talk about your debut young adult release, VANISHING ACTS. Why did you choose to venture into this genre?

Phillip: I hadn’t planned on writing a novel for 8 to 12 year olds until one of the editors at Harper Children’s asked my adult editor at HarperCollins if I would like to write a novel for young adults. I mentioned this to my daughter Ami Margolin Rome and she suggested we write the book together. It was terrific fun writing with my daughter and I really enjoyed working in a different genre. The hardest part for me was figuring out the difference between the voice in an adult novel and a middle grade novel.

Jen: And tacking onto my last question, what sets VANISHING ACTS apart from a typical Young Adult mystery/thriller novel on the market today?

Phillip: VANISHING ACTS is a courtroom thriller/mystery for young readers. Madison Kincaid is a seventh grade soccer star whose best friend fails to show up on the first day of middle school. Her dad, Hamilton Kincaid, is a top criminal defense attorney who has a case involving a missing body. While solving the mystery of what happened to her missing friend, Madison helps her dad solve his case. What makes VANISHING ACTS different are the courtroom scenes and the discussion of criminal law. There are also no Vampires or Wizards in the book. It’s a throw back to the old Hardy Boy/ Nancy Drew mysteries.

Jen: In terms of reader involvement, please take us on a brief tour of your website highlighting points of interest.

Phillip: I really enjoy my website because it is interactive. There is a message board on which readers can post questions. I check the board almost every day and try to answer the questions as quickly as possible. There are times when I am out of town and not able to do this, but most of the year I can respond very quickly. I really like answering questions about writing because I never had any training and I like to help people trying to break into publishing. The website also has a section that gives a synopsis of each of my books so that readers who are unfamiliar with my work or have not read them can see if the plot sounds interesting. I also post my picks of good reads and movies.

Jen: Do you participate in social media?

Phillip: I am a dinosaur and do not even carry a cell phone, so the answer is no.

Jen: And, do you participate in Author Phone Chats? If so, how would my readers go about scheduling one?

Phillip: If someone wanted to do an author phone chat they could contact me on the website. There is a section for reader messages. I have received requests to appear at writer conferences and book groups. I am always excited when someone is interested in my work and wants me to speak about writing.

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next project? If so, what may you share with us?

Phillip: Yes, I have completed the THE OTTOMON SEPULCHER. This is a Dana Cutler stand-alone. I am also very excited by the fact that HarperCollins has purchased a historical novel that I began writing in the 1980s. This has been a side project and a labor of love. It may be the best book I’ve written.

Jen: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by and chat with me. Congratulations on all of your successes! I thoroughly enjoyed CAPITOL MURDERS and highly recommend it to all my readers.

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Phillip. Please stop by your favorite library branch or local book seller and pick up (or download!) a copy today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead?

Okay, be one of the first five readers to e-mail me with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll win!

What is the name of Phillip’s upcoming Dana Cutler stand-alone novel?

Next month, I will be bringing to you my interview with Zoe Fishman, author of SAVING RUTH. You won’t want to miss it.

Until next time…


The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Anne Tyler has written a gentle, moving & very charming novel dealing with the loss of a spouse. Aaron Woolcott is grief stricken when his wife is killed by a falling tree. With his house partially demolished, he moves in with his single sister, Nandina. Aaron is surprised when his deceased wife, Dorothy, begins to appear to him, but is too afraid of losing her again to question what is happening. Time progresses and Aaron begins to rebuild his life. When the time comes that Dorothy no longer appears, he finally finds he can move on. This is a lovely story of hope, not just for Aaron, but also his sister, who finds love herself.  It has a satisfying & happy ending, & is filled with humor & compassion. It is set in the Baltimore area, where Aaron & Nandina run a small publishing house. Recommended for a quick read without too much complexity.

Anne Tyler Gives Interview

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

On NPR’s Morning Edition March 30 Anne Tyler gave her first interview in years — “I figure [doing one] every 35 years will do it…,” said Tyler.

The interview was to mark the publication of Anne Tyler’s new book  (Find the book in our catalog).  (We also have the eBook, Audio Book and AudioEBook)

  The Beginner’s Goodbye: a Novel  Summary in our catalog:  “In this novel the author explores how a middle-aged man, ripped apart by the death of his wife, is gradually restored by her frequent appearances in their house, on the roadway, in the markets. Only Dorothy’s unexpected appearances from the dead help him to live in the moment and to find some peace. Crippled in his right arm and leg, Aaron has spent his childhood fending off a sister who wants to manage him. So when he meets Dorothy, a plain, outspoken, independent young woman, she is like a breath of fresh air. Unhesitatingly, he marries her, and they have a relatively happy, unremarkable marriage. But when a tree crashes into their house and Dorothy is killed, Aaron feels as though he has been erased forever. Only Dorothy’s unexpected appearances from the dead help him to live in the moment and to find some peace. Gradually he discovers, as he works in the family’s vanity publishing business, turning out titles that presume to guide beginners through the trials of life, that maybe for this beginner there is a way of saying goodbye. This book is a subtle exploration of loss and recovery, pierced throughout with the author’s humor, wisdom, and always penetrating look at human foibles.”


No Pulitzer Prize for Fiction this Year – You Be the Judge

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

No Pulitzer Prize for Fiction was awarded this year.  A majority of votes is required from the board  of 18 voting members, but they could not agree on a winner.

The Fiction finalists were:

   Train Dreams by Denis Johnson (Find in our catalog)

  Swamplandia! by Karen Russell  (Find the book in our catalog) (we also have the AudioEBook and eBook)

  The Pale King by the late David Foster Wallace (Find in our catalog)

Why not check them out for yourself and decide who should have been the winner.  You be the judge!


Pulitzer Prizes in Letters and Drama Category

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

This year’s Pulitzers included:

Fiction: No award

  General Nonfiction: The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt (Find in our catalog)

Summary in our catalog:  (We have the Audio Book and AudioEBook too) “In this book the author transports readers to the dawn of the Renaissance and chronicles the life of an intrepid book lover who rescued the Roman philosophical text On the Nature of Things from certain oblivion. In this work he has crafted both a work of history and a story of discovery, in which one manuscript, plucked from a thousand years of neglect, changed the course of human thought and made possible the world as we know it. Nearly six hundred years ago, a short, genial, cannily alert man in his late thirties took a very old manuscript off a library shelf, saw with excitement what he had discovered, and ordered that it be copied. That book was the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic, On the Nature of Things, by Lucretius, a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas: that the universe functioned without the aid of gods, that religious fear was damaging to human life, and that matter was made up of very small particles in eternal motion, colliding and swerving in new directions. The copying and translation of this ancient book, the greatest discovery of the greatest book-hunter of his age, fueled the Renaissance, inspiring artists such as Botticelli and thinkers such as Giordano Bruno; shaped the thought of Galileo and Freud, Darwin and Einstein; and had a revolutionary influence on writers such as Montaigne and Shakespeare and even Thomas Jefferson. ”

  History: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable (Find in our catalog)

Summary: “…Of the great figure in twentieth-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins’ bullets at age thirty-nine. Through his tireless work and countless speeches he empowered hundreds of thousands of black Americans to create better lives and stronger communities while establishing the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man. In death he became a broad symbol of both resistance and reconciliation for millions around the world. Manning Marable’s new biography of Malcolm is a stunning achievement. Filled with new information and shocking revelations that go beyond the Autobiography, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America, from the rise of Marcus Garvey and the Ku Klux Klan to the struggles of the civil rights movement in the fifties and sixties. Reaching into Malcolm’s troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents’ activism through his own engagement with the Nation of Islam, charting his astronomical rise in the world of Black Nationalism and culminating in the never-before-told true story of his assassination. Malcolm X will stand as the definitive work on one of the most singular forces for social change, capturing with revelatory clarity a man who constantly strove, in the great American tradition, to remake himself anew.”

  Biography: George F. Kennan: An American Life by John Lewis Gaddis (Find in our catalog)

Summary:  “Drawing on extensive interviews with George Kennan and exclusive access to his archives, an eminent scholar of the Cold War delivers a revelatory biography of its troubled mastermind. In the late 1940s, George Kennan wrote two documents, the “Long Telegram” and the “X Article,” which set forward the strategy of containment that would define U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union for the next four decades. This achievement alone would qualify him as the most influential American diplomat of the Cold War era. But he was also an architect of the Marshall Plan, a prizewinning historian, and would become one of the most outspoken critics of American diplomacy, politics, and culture during the last half of the twentieth century. Now the full scope of Kennan’s long life and vast influence is revealed by one of today’s most important Cold War scholars. Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis began this magisterial history almost thirty years ago, interviewing Kennan frequently and gaining complete access to his voluminous diaries and other personal papers. So frank and detailed were these materials that Kennan and Gaddis agreed that the book would not appear until after Kennan’s death. It was well worth the wait: the journals give this book a breathtaking candor and intimacy that match its century-long sweep. We see Kennan’s insecurity as a Midwesterner among elites at Princeton, his budding dissatisfaction with authority and the status quo, his struggles with depression, his gift for satire, and his sharp insights on the policies and people he encountered. Kennan turned these sharp analytical gifts upon himself, even to the point of regularly recording dreams. The result is a remarkably revealing view of how this greatest of Cold War strategists came to doubt his strategy and always doubted himself. This is a landmark work of history and biography that reveals the vast influence and rich inner landscape of a life that both mirrored and shaped the century it spanned.”

  Poetry: Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith (Find in our catalog)

Summary:  “In this brilliant collection of new poems, Tracy K. Smith envisions a sci-fi future sucked clean of any real dangers, contemplates the dark matter that keeps people both close and distant and revisits kitschy concepts like ‘love’ and ‘illness’, now relegated to the museum of obsolescence. With allusions to David Bowie and interplanetary travel, Life on Mars imagines a soundtrack for the universe, accompanying the discoveries, failures and oddities of human existence and establishing Smith as one of the best poets of her generation.”