Braille Book Review

September-October 2001
Books for Adults--Nonfiction

Books for Adults

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Note: For the information of the reader, a notice may appear immediately following the book description to indicate occurrences of strong language, explicit descriptions of sex, or violence. The word "some" before any of these terms indicates an occasional or infrequent occurrence, as in "some strong language."


The Symphony: A Listener's Guide BR 11242
by Michael Steinberg
8 volumes
These essays on 118 symphonies by 36 composers were written by the program annotator for the Boston, San Francisco, and New York Philharmonic orchestras. Discusses works by Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Dvorak, Haydn, Mahler, Mozart, Prokofiev, Schumann, Sibelius, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky. 1995.

The End of the Dinosaurs: Chicxulub Crater and Mass Extinctions BR 12713
by Charles Frankel
2 volumes
Describes the discovery in Mexico of the Chicxulub meteor impact crater, which the author cites as evidence that such a catastrophic event caused the mass extinction of the dinosaurs. Discusses the chain of scientific findings that established the theory, alternative explanations, and the risk of such occurrences in the future. 1999.

The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity BR 12724
by Jill Lepore
5 volumes
Describes the horrendous conflict of 1675-1676 between the English settlers in New England and the Native American people of the region, involving massacres on both sides. In the aftermath the colonists became more dependent on their homeland, and the cultural divide between the races persisted for centuries. 1998.

How to Retire Rich: Time-Tested Strategies to Beat the Market and Retire in Style BR 12753
by James O'Shaughnessy
3 volumes
Asserting that the only way to ensure wealth at retirement is to invest in the stock market, investment writer O'Shaughnessy provides proven formulas for obtaining better results than the Standard & Poor's 500. He describes future retirees with various financial situations and explains why particular strategies would work best for each. 1998.

Little Bighorn Remembered: The Untold Indian Story of Custer's Last Stand BR 12759
by Herman J. Viola
3 volumes
The curator emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution presents accounts from descendants of Native Americans who fought on both sides of the battle. Crow and Arikara individuals explain why their ancestors joined Custer and scouted for his army, and Lakota and Cheyenne descendants defend their forefathers' stance against the scouts and white soldiers. 1999.

The Vintage Book of African American Poetry BR 12769
edited by Michael S. Harper and Anthony Walton
3 volumes
Anthology covering more than two centuries of African American poetry. Includes well-known poets Phillis Wheatley, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Rita Dove as well as lesser-known ones. A profile introduces each writer. 2000.

Americans' Favorite Poems: The Favorite Poem Project Anthology BR 12771
edited by Robert Pinsky and Maggie Dietz
3 volumes
Two hundred poems selected by Americans as their favorites in response to an appeal from poet laureate Pinsky to mark the bicentennial of the Library of Congress. Each work is preceded by comments on why it was chosen. Writers represented include Anna Akhmatova, John Ashbery, Andrew Marvell, Pablo Neruda, W.B. Yeats, and others. 2000.

Disowned by Memory: Wordsworth's Poetry of the 1790s BR 12797
by David Bromwich
2 volumes
A critical interpretation of the first decade of Wordsworth's poetry. Combines biography, history, and psychology to provide a context for such pieces as "Tintern Abbey" and "The Old Cumberland Beggar." 1998.

Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson BR 12800
by Mitch Albom
1 volume
Some twenty years after college, Mitch Albom rekindles his relationship with a former professor who is terminally ill. His weekly visits with his dying mentor become a colloquium on the meaning of life, and Albom gains insight into "love, work, community, family, aging, forgiveness, and, finally, death." Bestseller 1997.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft BR 12802
by Stephen King
2 volumes
Prolific bestselling horror novelist describes his writing technique and gives tips for aspiring authors. King also discusses pertinent events from his childhood and tells of the near-fatal accident in 1999, when he was hit by a truck while taking his daily walk. Some strong language. Bestseller 2000.

HIV, Mon Amour: Poems BR 12830
by Tory Dent
1 volume
An articulate cry from the heart depicting a woman's ongoing battle with HIV. In the section titled "Cinéma Vérité," she refers to memorable movie scenes to convey an anguished message to a dead lover. Some descriptions of sex and some strong language. James Laughlin Award. 1999.

For Common Things: Irony, Trust, and Commitment in America Today BR 12841
by Jedediah Purdy
2 volumes
An earnest young intellectual calls for a renewed commitment to traditional American values. Purdy examines the popular use of irony to maintain detachment and recommends that citizens instead become more involved in civic and political events. 1999.

Woodrow Wilson BR 12899
by Louis Auchincloss
1 volume
A brief biography probing the complex and enigmatic character of the twenty-eighth president of the United States. Discusses Wilson's southern upbringing, Protestant background, and his academic career. Examines his role in leading the U.S. during World War I and his disappointment in the country's failure to endorse the League of Nations. 2000.

Joan of Arc BR 12912
by Mary Gordon
2 volumes
Biographical meditation on the visionary fifteenth-century French peasant girl who defied convention to become a soldier and died at nineteen at her enemies' hands. Gordon contemplates the mystery of a girl who came from nowhere to rise to sainthood and has captivated the public imagination for more than five hundred years. 2000.

The Condor's Shadow: The Loss and Recovery of Wildlife in America BR 13119
by David S. Wilcove
3 volumes
An ecologist discusses the state of America's wildlife including the loss of species and habitats. Provides an overview of how humans have altered the landscape, beginning with Native Americans in pre-colonial times. Describes the destruction of ecosystems and the environmental movement's conservation efforts. 1999.

Tigers in the Snow BR 13120
by Peter Matthiessen
2 volumes
Novelist and naturalist Matthiessen evokes the plight of the Siberian (Amur) tiger. Recounts field trips in 1990, 1992, and 1996 to tiger reserves in Asia and the Russian Far East. Describes the cat's history and natural habitat, and the efforts of conservationists and governments toward preserving the species. 2000.

Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy BR 13122
by Simon Blackburn
3 volumes
A primer "for people who want to think about the big themes: knowledge, reason, truth, mind, freedom, destiny, identity, God, goodness, justice." Explains the philosophical approaches of Plato, Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, and other major thinkers, drawing examples from everyday life to clarify complex issues. 1999.

All the President's Men BR 13143
by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
4 volumes
Two Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporters chronicle their investigation of the Watergate scandal, which began as a burglary of the Democratic National Committee Headquarters on June 17, 1972. They explain the events that precipitated their first suspicions and led them to ascertain the truth. Some strong language. Bestseller 1974.

Calamities of Exile: Three Nonfiction Novellas BR 13154
by Lawrence Weschler
3 volumes
Profiles of three political activists exiled from totalitarian regimes: Kanan Makiya, an architect from Iraq; Jan Kavan, student protester from Czechoslovakia; and Breyten Breytenbach, poet and painter from South Africa. Based on interviews with the subjects, their families, and friends. 1998.

Much Ado about Nothing BR 13166
by William Shakespeare
3 volumes (Reissue)
A comic drama concerning two pairs of lovers--Hero and Claudio, Beatrice and Benedick--and the complications that arise when a jealous troublemaker slyly casts a shadow on the honor of one of the women. First performed in 1598 and published in 1600. 1995.

The Science Times Book of Natural Disasters BR 13178
edited by Nicholas Wade
2 volumes
Columns from the New York Times weekly science section dealing with natural catastrophes including volcanoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes. Discusses disasters from the past, such as the mass extinction of the dinosaurs, as well as future threats like asteroids hitting the earth. For senior high and older readers. 2000.

The Parrot's Lament: And Other True Tales of Animal Intrigue, Intelligence, and Ingenuity BR 13191
by Eugene Linden
2 volumes
Stories from veterinarians, researchers, and zookeepers who interact with animals on a daily basis. Many of these tales reveal animal attempts "to deceive or manipulate their keepers or each other" through games or escapes. Others show that trust and understanding can grow between humans and other species, as evidenced by acts of heroism. 1999.

Taking Retirement: A Beginner's Diary BR 13205
by Carl H. Klaus
2 volumes
English professor recalls his dread of leaving the work force and the decision to follow his own advice to students--keep a journal. Chronicles his initial fears and gradual acceptance of the loss of status and identity, as well as the admitted joys of a trip to the Rockies with his wife. 1999.

My Spy: Memoir of a CIA Wife BR 13209
by Bina Cady Kiyonaga
3 volumes
The Baltimore-born author describes her marriage to Joe Kiyonaga, a Japanese-American who worked for the CIA from 1949 until his death from cancer in 1977, and the overseas adventures provided by his career. She promised her husband on his death bed that she would tell his story. 2000.

The Johnstown Flood BR 13224
by David McCullough
3 volumes
A vivid description of the causes and effects of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, flood of 1889 that killed thousands. Based on first-person accounts of the tragedy that occurred when a man- made dam broke, flooding the entire valley with twenty million tons of water and debris. 1968.

In the Cellar BR 13225
by Jan Philipp Reemtsma
2 volumes
A wealthy, noted German intellectual describes his harrowing 1996 abduction, the thirty-three days he spent chained in a cellar during ransom negotiations, his release, and the onslaught of reporters. Throughout, he explores the effect the ordeal has had on his psyche. Some violence. 1999.

The Greatest Success in the World BR 13227
by Og Mandino
1 volume
Fictionalized biblical story of Zacchaeus, who--despite humble beginnings and physical handicaps--became the epitome of the successful man. During the narrative, Zacchaeus develops his philosophy for achieving life goals and lays down his ten commandments to guide the individual along the way. 1981.

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