Archive for January, 2013

Top Football Books

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

All of these books on football history are notable pieces of sports writing.  Click on a highlighted title to go straight to our catalog.

The Catch: one play, two dynasties, and the game that changed the NFL by Gary Myers. “How many great catches have there been in the history of the NFL? Hundreds? Thousands? Mention “The Catch,”though, and fans will think of only one: Joe Montana to Dwight Clark, the NFC Championship game, the Dallas Cowboys vs. the San Francisco 49ers, January 10, 1982. It changed the game and The Game. This is the story of the pieces that fell into place to allow it to happen and what it meant to the players, to the fans, and to the future of professional football.”

The Dallas Cowboys: the outrageous history of the biggest, loudest, most hated, best loved football team in America by Joe Nick Patoski.

The Glory Game: how the 1958 NFL championship changed football forever by Frank Gifford, Peter Richmond.  “A fiftieth anniversary tribute to the 1958 National Football League championship game between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts, told by a recipient of the MVP award, traces each team’s story and winning season while evaluating the game’s historical relevance.”

The Best Game Ever: Giants vs. Colts, 1958, and the birth of the modern NFL by Mark Bowden.  “On December 28, 1958, the New York Giants and Baltimore Colts met under the lights of Yankee Stadium for the NFL Championship game. Played in front of sixty-four thousand fans and millions of television viewers around the country, the game would be remembered as the greatest in football history. On the field and roaming the sidelines were seventeen future Hall of Famers, including Colts stars Johnny Unitas, Raymond Berry, and Gino Marchetti, and Giants greats Frank Gifford, Sam Huff, and assistant coaches Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry. An estimated forty-five million viewers–at that time the largest crowd to have ever watched a football game–tuned in to see what would become the first sudden-death contest in NFL history. It was a battle of the league’s best offense–the Colts–versus its best defense–the Giants. And it was a contest between the blue-collar Baltimore team versus the glamour boys of the Giants squad. The Best Game Ever is a brilliant portrait of how a single game changed the history of American sport. Published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the championship, it is destined to be a sports classic.”

Lombardi and Landry: how two of pro football’s greatest coaches launched their legends and changed the game forever by Ernie Palladino.  “Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry could not have had two more divergent personalities. Yet, while working for the New York Giants in the mid-1950s under head coach Jim Lee Howell, the pair formed what still stands as the greatest set of coordinators on one team. Given their personalities, one might have likened Howell’s job to that of Dwight Eisenhower’s as the general struggled to control the egos and politics of his allied subordinates during WWII. But for some reason, Lombardi and Landry worked almost seamlessly, leading the Giants to the top of the NFL. In the five seasons the two men coached together between 1956 and 1959, the Giants appeared in three championship games, winning the NFL title in ’56. Both coaches would go on to NFL stardom, Lombardi with the Green Bay Packers and Landry with the Dallas Cowboys. But it was during their years as Giants coordinators that they developed the coaching philosophies they would employ later in their careers.”


Secret Race: Inside the Tour De France

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Those readers who have been following the controversy of the recent doping accusations against Lance Armstrong and his revealing interviews with Oprah Winfrey, may be interested to read this book available at the library:

The Secret Race: inside the hidden world of the Tour de France: doping, cover-ups, and winning at all costs (Find in our catalog).  Summary in our catalog: “WINNER OF THE WILLIAM HILL SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD The Secret Race is a definitive look at the world of professional cycling–and the doping issue surrounding this sport and its most iconic rider, Lance Armstrong–by former Olympic gold medalist Tyler Hamilton and New York Times bestselling author Daniel Coyle. Over the course of two years, Coyle conducted more than two hundred hours of interviews with Hamilton and spoke candidly with numerous teammates, rivals, and friends. The result is an explosive book that takes us, for the first time, deep inside a shadowy, fascinating, and surreal world of unscrupulous doctors, anything-goes team directors, and athletes so relentlessly driven to succeed that they would do anything–and take any risk, physical, mental, or moral–to gain the edge they need to win. Tyler Hamilton was once one of the world’s best-liked and top-ranked cyclists–a fierce competitor renowned among his peers for his uncanny endurance and epic tolerance for pain. In the 2003 Tour de France, he finished fourth despite breaking his collarbone in the early stages–and grinding eleven of his teeth down to the nerves along the way. He started his career with the U.S. Postal Service team in the 1990s and quickly rose to become Lance Armstrong’s most trusted lieutenant, and a member of his inner circle. For the first three of Armstrong’s record seven Tour de France victories, Hamilton was by Armstrong’s side, clearing his way. But just weeks after Hamilton reached his own personal pinnacle–winning the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics–his career came to a sudden, ignominious end: He was found guilty of doping and exiled from the sport. From the exhilaration of his early, naïve days in the peloton, Hamilton chronicles his ascent to the uppermost reaches of this unforgiving sport. In the mid-1990s, the advent of a powerful new blood-boosting drug called EPO reshaped the world of cycling, and a relentless, win-at-any-cost ethos took root. Its psychological toll would drive many of the sport’s top performers to substance abuse, depression, even suicide. For the first time ever, Hamilton recounts his own battle with clinical depression, speaks frankly about the agonizing choices that go along with the decision to compete at a world-class level, and tells the story of his complicated relationship with Lance Armstrong. A journey into the heart of a never-before-seen world, The Secret Race is a riveting, courageous act of witness from a man who is as determined to reveal the hard truth about his sport as he once was to win the Tour de France.”


Zero Dark Thirty on No Easy Day

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

If you recently enjoyed the movie, Zero Dark 30, (click here for the official movie site) you may be interested to find out more about America’s military and covert involvement in the world.  Harford County Public Library has these books on the shelf that are currently being talked about in the media:

Counterstrike: the untold story of America’s secret campaign against al Qaeda (Find in our catalog). Summary in our catalog: “Inside the Pentagon’s secretive and revolutionary new strategy to fight terrorism – and its game-changing effects in the Middle East and at home In the years following the 9/11 attacks, the United States waged a “war on terror” that sought to defeat Al Qaeda through brute force. But it soon became clear that this strategy was not working, and by 2005 the Pentagon began looking for a new way. In Counterstrike , Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker of The New York Times tell the story of how a group of analysts within the military, at spy agencies, and in law enforcement has fashioned an innovative and effective new strategy to fight terrorism, unbeknownst to most Americans and in sharp contrast to the cowboy slogans that characterized the U.S. government’s public posture. Adapting themes from classic Cold War deterrence theory, these strategists have expanded the field of battle in order to disrupt jihadist networks in ever more creative ways. Schmitt and Shanker take readers deep into this theater of war, as ground troops, intelligence operatives, and top executive branch officials have worked together to redefine and restrict the geography available for Al Qaeda to operate in. They also show how these new counterterrorism strategies, adopted under George W. Bush and expanded under Barack Obama, were successfully employed in planning and carrying out the dramatic May 2011 raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed. Filled with startling revelations about how our national security is being managed, Counterstrike will change the way Americans think about the ongoing struggle with violent radical extremism.”

The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the plot to change the American way of war (Find in our catalog). Summary: “The Insurgents is the inside story of the small group of soldier-scholars, led by General David Petraeus, who plotted to revolutionize one of the largest, oldest, and most hidebound institutions–the United States military. Their aim was to build a new Army that could fight the new kind of war in the post-Cold War age: not massive wars on vast battlefields, but “small wars” in cities and villages, against insurgents and terrorists. These would be wars not only of fighting but of “nation building,” often not of necessity but of choice. Based on secret documents, private emails, and interviews with more than one hundred key characters, including Petraeus, the tale unfolds against the backdrop of the wars against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the main insurgency is the one mounted at home by ambitious, self-consciously intellectual officers–Petraeus, John Nagl, H. R. McMaster, and others–many of them classmates or colleagues in West Point’s Social Science Department who rose through the ranks, seized with an idea of how to fight these wars better. Amid the crisis, they forged a community (some of them called it a cabal or mafia) and adapted their enemies’ techniques to overhaul the culture and institutions of their own Army. Fred Kaplan describes how these men and women maneuvered the idea through the bureaucracy and made it official policy. This is a story of power, politics, ideas, and personalities–and how they converged to reshape the twenty-first-century American military. But it is also a cautionary tale about how creative doctrine can harden into dogma, how smart strategists–today’s “best and brightest”–can win the battles at home but not the wars abroad. Petraeus and his fellow insurgents made the US military more adaptive to the conflicts of the modern era, but they also created the tools–and made it more tempting–for political leaders to wade into wars that they would be wise to avoid.”

Confront and Conceal: Obama’s secret wars and surprising use of American power (Find in our catalog). Summary: “Stunning revelations! This is an account that long will be consulted by anyone trying to understand not just Iran but warfare in the 21st century – an important book. (Tom Ricks,New York Times).  “Inside the White House Situation Room, the newly elected Barack Obama immerses himself in the details of a remark able new American capability to launch cyberwar against Iran and escalates covert operations to delay the day when the mullahs could obtain a nuclear weapon. Over the next three years Obama accelerates drone attacks as an alter native to putting troops on the ground in Pakistan, and becomes increasingly reliant on the Special Forces, whose hunting of al-Qaeda illuminates the path out of an unwin nable war in Afghanistan. Confront and Conceal provides readers with a picture of an administration that came to office with the world on fire. It takes them into the Situation Room debate over how to undermine Iran’s program while simultaneously trying to prevent Israel from taking military action that could plunge the region into another war. It dissects how the bin Laden raid worsened the dysfunctional relationship with Pakistan. And it traces how Obama’s early idealism about fighting a war of necessityo in Afghanistan quickly turned to fatigue and frustration. One of the most trusted and acclaimed national security correspondents in the country, David Sanger of theNew York Timestakes readers deep inside the Obama adminis tration’s most perilous decisions: The president dispatch es an emergency search team to the Gulf when the White House briefly fears the Taliban may have obtained the Bomb, but he rejects a plan in late 2011 to send in Special Forces to recover a stealth drone that went down in Iran. Obama overrules his advisers and takes the riskiest path in killing Osama bin Laden, and ignores their advice when he helps oust Hosni Mubarak from the presidency of Egypt. The surprise is his aggressiveness,o a key ambassador who works closely with Obama reports. Yet the president has also pivoted American foreign policy away from the attritional wars of the past decade, attempting to preserve America’s influence with a lighter, defter touch all while focusing on a new era of diplomacy in Asia and reconfiguring America’s role during a time of economic turmoil and austerity. As the world seeks to understand whether there is an Obama Doctrine, Confront and Conceal is a fascinating, unflinching account of these complex years, in which the president and his administration have found themselves struggling to stay ahead in a world where power is diffuse and America’s ability to exert control grows ever more elusive.”

No Easy Day: the autobiography of a Navy SEAL (Find in our catalog). Summary: “The firsthand account of the mission that killed Osama Bin Laden. For the first time anywhere, the first-person account of the planning and execution of the Bin Laden raid from a Navy Seal who confronted the terrorist mastermind and witnessed his final moment From the streets of Iraq to the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips in the Indian Ocean, and from the mountaintops of Afghanistan to the third floor of Osama Bin Laden’s compound, operator Mark Owen of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group — commonly known as SEAL Team Six — has been a part of some of the most memorable special operations in history, as well as countless missions that never made headlines. No Easy Day puts readers alongside Owen and the other handpicked members of the twenty-four-man team as they train for the biggest mission of their lives. The blow-by-blow narrative of the assault, beginning with the helicopter crash that could have ended Owen’s life straight through to the radio call confirming Bin Laden’s death, is an essential piece of modern history. In No Easy Day , Owen also takes readers onto the field of battle in America’s ongoing War on Terror and details the selection and training process for one of the most elite units in the military. Owen’s story draws on his youth in Alaska and describes the SEALs’ quest to challenge themselves at the highest levels of physical and mental endurance. With boots-on-the-ground detail, Owen describes numerous previously unreported missions that illustrate the life and work of a SEAL and the evolution of the team after the events of September 11. In telling the true story of the SEALs whose talents, skills, experiences, and exceptional sacrifices led to one of the greatest victories in the War on Terror, Mark Owen honors the men who risk everything for our country, and he leaves readers with a deep understanding of the warriors who keep America safe.”


A Suitable Wife by Louise M. Gouge

Monday, January 28th, 2013

(Find this book in our catalog) If you or your family were part of London society during the eighteen hundreds certain requirements were standard for marriage.  A man needed a wife of good family and background and her money could help in his choice. A woman’s reputation – not just her’s but her parents’ and siblings’ – needed to be of the highest to enable her to make a marriage that would afford the best there was.  Unfortunately, Beatrice Gregory has a prodigal for a brother. Melton Gregory has squandered the family fortune, putting Beatrice in the awkward position of having to find a job as a companion since without a dowry she has no hope of making a good match.

Edmond Greystone is looking for a “suitable wife,” who’s connections would help him with his work in the House of Lords and with his charitable endeavors.  Edmond has seen and met lots of marriageable young ladies who meet the standards of suitable for his position in society but who do not appeal.  At a party he meets Lady Parton’s companion Miss Beatrice and is attracted to her, though realizing that Beatrice is the sister of the wastrel Melton and that association with her could jeopardize his ambitions.  Despite everything Lady Beatrice seems to be the only one to capture his attention and also his heart.  Come along on the journey to find out whether reconciliation with her brother and repairing of their fortune will allow Beatrice and Edmond a chance at happiness ever after.

Posted by Christy


The Innocent Witness by Terri Reed

Friday, January 25th, 2013

(Find this book in our catalog) Vivian Grant is awakened during the night by a noise. Thinking her son Mikey is trying to get out of the house she begins a frantic search. The only thing she finds is her husband, Senator Grant, dead and Mikey seemingly missing.

While calling 911 Vivian finds Mikey hiding under his father’s desk.  In the shadows outside the killer is watching. Shocked to see a possible witness appear he begins to make plans to eliminate both Vivian and Mikey.

Enter Anthony Carlucci to guard Vivian and Mikey, the “Innocent Witness” of the title.

Can Vivian’s faith continue to sustain her during these trying times as it has during her childhood and loveless marriage? Can Anthony truly overcome his own self-doubts to do the job needed to uncover who really killed Senator Grant, considering the only witness is autistic and communication is going to be a challenge with Mikey.

You get a glimpse of the options available working with autistic children as the three of them work thru the difficulties and secrets to find out who really wanted Steven Grant dead and why.

Posted by Christy


The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

(Find this book in our catalog)

Jack & Mabel, childless &  approaching middle-age are homesteading in the Alaskan wilderness of the 1920s when they meet a mysterious child called Faina. The story, based on an old Russian folktale, begins when the couple builds a snow child, complete with scarf & mittens. The next day the items are gone but later the couple sees a young girl out in the woods wearing them. Over the course of time Jack & Mabel begin to befriend the child who appears with the first snowfall & disappears with the spring. This haunting novel keeps you wondering to the end, is the child Faina real or some embodiment of the wilderness. Ivey’s descriptions of the harsh but beautiful land, of the hard work of the farmers & the struggle to survive, combined with the need for friendships & support are utterly realistic. This is a beautiful book, with hope & love tinged with sadness & loss.

Barbara Hoffert at Library Journal said this was “A fluid, absorbing, beautifully executed debut novel; highly recommended.”

Kirkus Reviews said “The mystery of Faina’s provenance, along with the way she brightens the couple’s lives, gives the novel’s early chapters a slightly magical-realist cast. Yet as Faina’s identity grows clearer, the narrative also becomes a more earthbound portrait of the Alaskan wilderness and a study of the hard work involved in building a family. The book’s tone throughout has a lovely push and pull—Alaska’s punishing landscape and rough-hewn residents pitted against Faina’s charmed appearances—and the ending is both surprising and earned.”

Read Little Daughter of the Snow by Arthur Ransome, a children’s picture book version of this folktale.

In december 2012 Ms. Ivey won the UK National Book Award for International Author of the Year for this debut novel.

Eowyn (A-o-win) LeMay Ivey was raised in Alaska and continues to live there with her husband and two daughters. The Snow Child is informed by Eowyn’s life in Alaska. Her husband is a fishery biologist with the state of Alaska. While they both work outside of the home, they are also raising their daughters in the rural, largely subsistence lifestyle in which they were both raised.
As a family, they harvest salmon and wild berries, keep a vegetable garden, turkeys and chickens, and they hunt caribou, moose, and bear for meat. Because they don’t have a well and live outside any public water system, they haul water each week for their holding tank and gather rainwater for their animals and garden. Their primary source of home heat is a woodstove, and they harvest and cut their own wood. These activities are important to Eowyn’s day-to-day life as well as the rhythm of her year. (From the author’s website.) Read more about Eowyn on her website.

Posted by Julia

Debut Mystery to Watch

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Cover of Snow: a Novel by Jenny Milchman (Find this book in our catalog).  There is a lot of buzz about this debut novel from the mystery community (Michlman is a blogger and participates in online mystery forums). Set in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, it is about a young woman who sets out to find out why her seemingly happy husband committed suicide. Comparisons have been made to Gillian Flynn.

This is what it says about the book in our catalog: “Waking up one wintry morning in her old farmhouse nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, Nora Hamilton instantly knows that something is wrong. When her fog of sleep clears, she finds her world is suddenly, irretrievably shattered: Her husband, Brendan, has committed suicide. The first few hours following Nora’s devastating discovery pass for her in a blur of numbness and disbelief. Then, a disturbing awareness slowly settles in: Brendan left no note and gave no indication that he was contemplating taking his own life. Why would a rock-solid police officer with unwavering affection for his wife, job, and quaint hometown suddenly choose to end it all? Having spent a lifetime avoiding hard truths, Nora must now start facing them. Unraveling her late husband’s final days, Nora searches for answers but meets with bewildering resistance from Brendan’s best friend and partner, his fellow police officers, and his brittle mother. It quickly becomes clear to Nora that she is asking questions no one wants to answer. For beneath the soft cover of snow lies a powerful conspiracy that will stop at nothing to keep its presence unknown . . . and its darkest secrets hidden.”

This is some advance praise of the book: “Everything a great suspense novel should be tense, emotional, mysterious, and satisfying . . . Let’s hope this is the start of a long career.” (Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Wanted Man).  “A suspenseful, darkly atmospheric story of switchbacks and surprises, reminiscent of Margaret Maron’s work, which is about the highest praise I can bestow.” (Laura Lippmann).


Lincoln Family From Behind the Scenes

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini (Find this book in our catalog).  Jennifer Chiaverini breaks from her Elm Creek Quilts series to write a novel based on a true story: Mary Todd Lincoln’s dressmaker, Elizabeth Keckley, a freed slave, became close friends with the First Lady.  Mrs. Keckley is featured in a scene in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.  Chiaverini became interested in Mrs. Keckley’s story while researching The Union Quilters.

This is what it says about the novel in our catalog: “New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini illuminates the extraordinary friendship between Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, a former slave who won her freedom by the skill of her needle, and the friendship of the First Lady by her devotion.In Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, novelist Jennifer Chiaverini presents a stunning account of the friendship that blossomed between Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress, Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Keckley, a former slave who gained her professional reputation in Washington, D.C. by outfitting the city’s elite. Keckley made history by sewing for First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln within the White House, a trusted witness to many private moments between the President and his wife, two of the most compelling figures in American history. In March 1861, Mrs. Lincoln chose Keckley from among a number of applicants to be her personal ‘modiste,’ responsible not only for creating the First Lady’s gowns, but also for dressing Mrs. Lincoln in the beautiful attire Keckley had fashioned. The relationship between the two women quickly evolved, as Keckley was drawn into the intimate life of the Lincoln family, supporting Mary Todd Lincoln in the loss of first her son, and then her husband to the assassination that stunned the nation and the world.Keckley saved scraps from the dozens of gowns she made for Mrs. Lincoln, eventually piecing together a tribute known as the Mary Todd Lincoln Quilt. She also saved memories, which she fashioned into a book, Behind the Scenes: Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House. Upon its publication, Keckley’s memoir created a scandal that compelled Mary Todd Lincoln to sever all ties with her, but in the decades since, Keckley’s story has languished in the archives. In this impeccably researched, engrossing novel, Chiaverini brings history to life in rich, moving style.”


Novel Should Appeal to Fans of Downton

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Habits of the House by Fay Weldon, (Find this book in our catalog).  This novel is due out on Jan 20.  Fay Weldon, the woman who wrote the first episode of  Upstairs, Downstairs, will publish a book about a family trying to maintain a country home at the turn of the last century, while beset by financial troubles (the Earl has managed to lose most of his money in a risky investment).  Reviewers agree with the publisher that this will appeal to fans of Downton Abbey.  See Library Journal and Publishers Weekly reviews in our catalog.  This is the first of a planned trilogy.  Perhaps we can look forward to this being turned into a mini-series?




A Simple Murder – First Crime Novel Award Winner

Friday, January 11th, 2013

I have just finished reading A Simple Murder: a Mystery by Eleanor Kuhns (Find this book in our catalog).  Kuhns, a Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award winner may be one to watch:  her murder mystery set in 1796 in a Shaker settlement near Durham, Maine could be the promising beginning to an engaging series featuring itinerant weaver, Will Rees and his assistant, free-spirited Lydia.

After traveling for two years, Will returns to his farm to discover that his teenaged son has run away.  He tracks him to the Shaker community, where Will is asked to use his experience in solving previous crimes to investigate the murder of one of the Sisters.  As Will adapts to the ways of the Shakers he begins to realise that several of the community undoubtedly hold clues to the killing: clues that are based in dark secrets involving the town and surrounding farms as well.  While this first novel sometimes seems to be a bit overwritten, most of the time it is a compelling and suspenseful story.  The Shaker community is well drawn, and this out of the way setting and the historical time frame lend credence to the premise that people can be deceived in family and neighbors.  The plot becomes complicated as Will unravels all the convoluted relationships, though the clues are well laid down for the reader who cares to be on the alert.  Even though you may think you know who the murderer can be, you are kept on the edge of your seat until the classic denouement beloved  of mystery writers, when Will confronts everyone in the Meeting House and reveals the culprit.