People & Places Newsletter for April

Catalysts for change is the common theme running throughout much of this April’s picks.

Now that America’s first black president is serving his second term of office it is hard to realise that half a century ago a humble Afro-American seamstress in the south of the country made history by refusing to give up her seat to a white man in a segregated bus. By so doing she started a revolution. This month we salute brave Rosa Parks.Many of this month’s picks focus on people who have bettered the lives of others – such as Charles Dickens in highlighting the horrors of London workhouses, who earned their living by serving others such as the domestic servants featured here, or who lived life on the margins.

Biography

Syndetics book coverLord of the isle : the extravagant life and times of Colin Tennant / Nicholas Courtney.
“This is the biography of the late Lord Glenconner, the lord born to a rich Victorian industrial family who used his wealth to live an eccentric lifestyle of self-indulgence from the 1940s to his death in 2010.”(www.globalbooksinprint.com)

Syndetics book coverDrinking with men / Rosie Schaap.
“Drinking memoirs generally fall into two categories: Never again and Pour me another. Schaap, who writes the Drink column for the New York Times Magazine, has composed one of the latter, an ode to the great tradition of regularhood advocating equal regularhood rights for women. From her teenage discovery of the bar car on the Metro-North New Haven Line; to her college years at the Pig, in North Bennington, Vermont; to a marriage-ending epiphany at Else’s, in Montreal, Schaap charts her path from adolescence to adulthood, bar by bar, sometimes having a few too many but always finding the sense of community and belonging she clearly craves.”(Provided by publisher).

Syndetics book coverDickens and the workhouse : Oliver Twist and the London poor / Ruth Richardson.
“Medical historian Richardson (The Making of Mr. Gray’s Anatomy) joined the cause to preserve a London building that had once been the Strand Union Workhouse (as the British say) Cleveland Street. She made what she calls “the remarkable finding” that Dickens lived only a few doors away as a toddler and again in his late teens. Never mind that Dickens’s London addresses have long been known and that he placed the Oliver Twist workhouse 75 miles north of London (an area he visited where there was a workhouse)-Richardson wants to make the case for this workhouse as the basis for the famous workhouse scenes in Oliver Twist. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverThe rebellious life of Mrs. Rosa Parks / Jeanne Theoharis.
“In her introduction to this biography, Brooklyn College political scientist Theoharis (coauthor of Freedom North: Black Freedom Struggles Outside of the South) notes the common perception of Rosa Parks (1913-2005): “hidden in plain sight, celebrated and paradoxically relegated to be a hero for children.” Into that gap, Theoharis submits a lavishly well-documented study of Parks’s life and career as an activist. In tracing her work with the Montgomery NAACP and other groups from the 1930s onwards, and then following her move from Alabama after the 1956 bus boycott to Detroit, Theoharis maps a lifetime devoted to civil rights, thereby destabilizing our notions of Parks as a “tired seamstress” who simply kept her seat on a bus one day in 1955.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly).

Syndetics book coverOutsiders : stories from the fringe of New Zealand society / Gerard Hindmarsh.
“A social history of New Zealand’s outsiders, such as Arawata Bill, The Chaffeys, George Wilder and others – those who choose to live out on the fringes of society, and whose free and unrestricted lives offer an important counterbalance to the structured urban world most of us inhabit”.(Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverThe real Jane Austen : a life in small things / Paula Byrne.
“Just in time for the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (first published in January 1813), comes Paula Byrne’s vivacious new portrait of its author. The approach Byrne (Jane Austen and the Theatre) takes is refreshingly material-based and the book is experimental in structure; each chapter unfolds from the biographer’s description of a small object associated with Austen’s life (chapter titles include “The East Indian Shawl”, “The Cocked Hat” “The Card of Lace”, “The Crimson Velvet Cushions”, and “The Topaz Crosses”). This technique serves two functions: firstly, it honors the precision for which Austen was famed by drawing attention to the material artifacts of her life; secondly, it challenges the “`official’ family biography””. (Publisher Weekly).

Syndetics book coverClimbing the stairs / Margaret Powell.
“Margaret Powell was born in 1907 in Hove, and left school at the age of 13 to start working. At 14, she got a job in a hotel laundry room, and a year later went into service as a kitchen maid, eventually progressing to the position of cook, before marrying a milkman called Albert. In 1968 the first volume of her memoirs, Below Stairs, was published to instant success and turned her into a celebrity. She followed this up with Climbing the Stairs, The Treasure Upstairs and The Margaret Powell Cookery Book. She died in 1984.”(Summary from www/globalbooksinprint.com).

Syndetics book coverLiterary outlaw : the life and times of William S. Burroughs / Ted Morgan.
“Another dazzling literary portrait from the author of Maugham [BKL F 15 80]. This time Morgan has chosen a subject whose life and work are so inextricable that, unlike the effort required to unravel Maugham’s attempts to disguise his real nature, what is required here is a candor and openness to match the subject’s notoriety and vulnerability. A homosexual and drug addict, Burroughs pursued an individual course in his life and art with a purpose and intensity that would set him apart from other members of the countercultural circle that he helped make famous– let alone from more orthodox intellectual and artistic circles.Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist).

Syndetics book coverOn Helwig Street : a memoir / Richard Russo.
“In its heyday Gloversville, New York was a prosperous beacon of the leather-goods industry, famously producing nine out of ten pairs of American gloves. But by the time Richard Russo was growing up there in the 1950s, the only son of a largely absent father and a mother, Jean, who suffered from ‘nerves’, Gloversville had fallen victim to changing fashions and gone bust. A better life elsewhere was the dream Jean instilled in her son and strived to secure for them both. Vividly recalling the road trips and adventures that took them far from Gloversville but always led them back home, Russo describes how childhood segued into adulthood and parenthood in the company of his restless mother. At the same time he recounts with touching honesty how the literary success that enriched his own life was at odds with the disappointment that punctuated hers.” (Summary from www.globalbooksinprint.com).

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Travel stories & guides

New travel stories. Love with a chance of drowning.

Syndetics book coverLove with a chance of drowning : a memoir / Torre DeRoche.
“Love can make a person do crazy things… A city girl with a morbid fear of deep water, Torre DeRoche is not someone you would ordinarily find adrift in the middle of the stormy Pacific aboard a leaky sailboat – total crew of two – struggling to keep an old boat, a new relationship and her floundering sanity afloat. But when she meets Ivan, a handsome Argentinean man with a humble sailboat and a dream to set off exploring the world, Torre has to face a hard decision: watch the man she’s in love with sail away forever, or head off on the watery journey with him. Suddenly the choice seems simple. She gives up her sophisticated city life, faces her fear of water (and tendency towards seasickness) and joins her lover on a year-long voyage across the Pacific.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJungleland : a mysterious lost city, a WWII spy, and a true story of deadly adventure / Christopher S. Stewart.
“”… Stewart’s chronicle relates his 2008 odyssey to Honduras. He sought a place of rumored existence called the White City, with which he became obsessed upon learning that, in 1940, colorful adventurer Theodore Morde announced its discovery, though he kept proprietarily circumspect about its exact location. Morde then became an OSS agent but never returned to Honduras. With the assistance of Morde’s journal, an experienced American archaeologist, and local Honduran guides, Stewart sallied forth for the tropical forest where lurked the White City. ….–Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist) (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBearback : the world overland / Pat Garrod.
“‘Inspired’, ‘enthralling’ and ’stylish’ are just some of the words used to describe the first edition of Bearback. Now in paperback, Pat Garrod’s remarkable story is set to be discovered by even more travellers.. Imagine jacking it all in, packing your life into a 41-litre pannier and riding into the sunset. Bearback is the story of two GPs who did just that, downing stethoscopes to take off on their motorcycle, The Bear, to see the world. Across the deserts of Africa, over the mountains of the Andes, deep into the jungles of Indochina, and beyond the Arctic Circle; 100,000 miles through six continents and 64 countries. A circumnavigation of epic proportion and entirely unsupported, it was to become one of the longest journeys ever undertaken by a couple on one motorcycle, a journey destined to change their lives forever.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFarewell, Fred Voodoo : a letter from Haiti / Amy Wilentz.
“Describes the author’s long and painful relationship with Haiti before and after the 2010 earthquake, tracing the country’s turbulent history and its status as a symbol of human rights activism and social transformation.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe golden shore : California’s love affair with the sea / David Helvarg.
“”In this ambitious work, journalist and conservationist Helvarg (Saved by the Sea) successfully relates the myriad ways in which Californians engage with their beloved Pacific. …Unsurprisingly, Helvarg starts with surfing, specifically the Mavericks big-wave contest at Half Moon Bay. He covers California’s Native population from the earliest arrivals to a recent victory requiring the removal of dams on the Klamath River to return it and its fishing to a more natural state. Environmental issues appear throughout, though Helvarg also devotes entire chapters to shipping. …In two late chapters Helvarg describes a coastal drive from Mexico to Oregon, and then concludes with thoughts on how Californians will face ongoing environmental trials, such as a projected sea level rise of three feet or more. 12 b&w photos. Agent: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyons Literary Agency. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKorea / this edition written and researched by Simon Richmond, Timothy N Hornyak, Shawn Low.Korea
“”The Korean Peninsula is a true travel gem: the South, a high-tech nation with a reverence for tradition and the ways of old Asia; the North, a challenging, geopolitical enigma.”Simon Richmond, Lonely Planet Writer .” (Amazon.co.uk.)

Syndetics book coverBack roads Ireland / contributors, Donna Daily … [et. al].
“Unearth the real soul of this magical region with all the practical information you could need, from road conditions and length of drive to parking information and opening hours. Twenty-five themed drives, each lasting one to seven days, reveal breathtaking views, hidden gems and authentic local experiences that can only be discovered by road. Each tour is bursting with insider knowledge and loaded with ideas for varied activities from walks to days on the beach and children’s attractions, to wine and cycling trips.” (Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverTokyo on foot : travels in the city’s most colorful neighborhoods / text and illustrations by Florent Chavouet.
“In this first English edition of a graphic memoir of a young French graphic artist of his stay in Tokyo in 2006, Chavouet presents his sketches evidently inspired by Japanese cartoon styles, hand-drawn maps, and impressions of the sights, sounds, and cultural quirks of the neighborhoods of what he notes has been called “the most beautiful of ugly cities.” The book was originally published in 2009 by Editions Philippe Picquier, and awarded a prize that year at the International Festival of Geography. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Kombi trail : across three continents in a VW van / Robert Cox, Roger Sherwin, Tony Thompson.
“Cambridge, 1961. A group of students set off on the trip of a lifetime. Against the backdrop of the Cold War they travel through the Soviet Union to the Middle East, South Asia and on to Africa. Their mode of transport? The iconic VW Kombi.This book tells the story of that trip, not just the people they met and the places they saw, but the many experiences – sometimes nerve-wracking, sometimes bizarre – that they encountered along the way. It provides a fascinating insight into a world on the brink of change – seen through the eyes of nine young men fresh from university. ….” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHere, there, elsewhere : stories from the road / William Least Heat-Moon.
“”It’s collected-works time for the renowned author of such outstanding travel literature as Blue Highways (1983) and River-Horse (1999). Thirty magazine pieces comprise this assembly, with some articles ranging abroad, such as the author’s depictions of his ventures to New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, and Britain. Most, however, amble around America or radiate from the author’s home states of Missouri and Kansas. ….–Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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History

Below is a selection of the latest history books we have received in March. It is an ecclectic mix that deserves your attention!

Syndetics book coverIke and Dick : portrait of a strange political marriage / Jeffrey Frank.
“Examines the relationship between Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, from the politics that divided them to the marriage that united their families. Despite being separated by age and temperament, their association evolved into a collaboration that helped to shape the nation’s political ideology, foreign policy, and domestic goals.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe birth of the West : Rome, Germany, France, and the creation of Europe in the tenth century / Paul Collins.
“The tenth century dawned in violence and disorder. Charlemagne’s empire was in ruins, most of Spain had been claimed by Moorish invaders, and even the papacy in Rome was embroiled in petty, provincial conflicts. To many historians, it was a prime example of the ignorance and uncertainty of the Dark Ages. Yet according to historian Paul Collins, the story of the tenth century is the story of our culture’s birth, of the emergence of our civilization into the light of day. The Birth of the West tells the story of a transformation from chaos to order, exploring the alien landscape of Europe in transition. It is a fascinatingnarrative that thoroughly renovates older conceptions of feudalism and what medieval life was actually like. The result is a wholly new vision of how civilization sprang from the unlikeliest of origins, and proof that our tenth-century ancestors are not as remote as we might think.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe presidents club : inside the world’s most exclusive fraternity / Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy.
“The Presidents Club, established at Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration by Harry Truman and Herbert Hoover, is a complicated place: its members are bound forever by the experience of the Oval Office and yet are eternal rivals for history’s favor. Among their secrets: How Jack Kennedy tried to blame Ike for the Bay of Pigs. How Ike quietly helped Reagan win his first race in 1966. How Richard Nixon conspired with Lyndon Johnson to get elected and then betrayed him. How Jerry Ford and Jimmy Carter turned a deep enmity into an alliance. The unspoken pact between a father and son named Bush. And the roots of the rivalry between Clinton and Barack Obama.
Timemagazine editors and presidential historians Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy offer a new and revealing lens on the American presidency, exploring the club as a hidden instrument of power that has changed the course of history.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Hopkins touch : Harry Hopkins and the forging of the alliance to defeat Hitler / David L. Roll.
“The Hopkins Touchoffers the first portrait in over two decades of the most powerful man in Roosevelt’s administration.
David Roll shows how Harry Hopkins, an Iowa-born social worker who had been an integral part of the New Deal’s implementation, became the linchpin in FDR’s–and America’s–relationships with Churchill and Stalin, and spoke with an authority second only to the president’s. Gaunt, nearly spectral, and malnourished following an operation to remove part of his stomach, the newly widowed Hopkins accepted the president’s invitation to move into the White House in 1940 and remained Roosevelt’s closest advisor, speechwriter, sounding board, and friend nearly to the end. Between 1940 and 1945, with incomparable skill and indefatigable determination, Hopkins organized the Lend-Lease program and steered the president to prepare the public for war with Germany. He became FDR’s problem-solver and fixer, helping to smooth over crises, such as when the British refused to allow an invasion of Europe in 1943, enraging Stalin, who felt that the Soviet Union was carrying the military effort against the Nazis. Lacking an official title or a clear executive branch portfolio, Hopkins could take the political risks his boss could not, and proved crucial to maintaining personal relations among the Big Three. Beloved by some–such as Churchill, who believed that Hopkins “always went to the root of the matter”–and trusted by most–including the paranoid Stalin–there were nevertheless those who resented the influence of “the White House Rasputin.”
Based on newly available sources,The Hopkins Touchis an absorbing, substantial new work that offers a fresh perspective on the World War II era and the Allied leaders, through the life of the man who kept them on point until the war was won.” (Syndetics summary)

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New Zealand

This month the New Zealand Collection features history of Antarctica and also some great new and revised New Zealand history. This includes an item that focuses on teaching history to secondary school students. The last book is a study of issues faced by whānau in Māori education.

Syndetics book coverA history of Antarctica / Stephen Martin.
“This revised and expanded book – first published in 1996 – traces the patterns of human activity in Antarctica, from the southern journeys of the 16th century to the modern expeditions of adventurers and tourists. Using material from diaries, letters, and fresh research, the book illuminates the main themes of Antarctic history with the personal stories and images of the men and women who explored, worked, and lived in this frozen and remote continent. The book examines such topics as the early Polynesian explorers, the amazing diversity of flora and fauna, the detailed geological features, etc. A History of Antarctica is about the people of Antarctica – those who have chosen to endure the risks and enjoy the rewards of conquering the world’s most forbidding land.”(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSurveying the Antarctic : the New Zealand Geological Survey Antarctic Expedition 1957-1958 / Eugene Brian Fitzgerald.
“This volume is the story of the first New Zealand Official Government Expedition to Antarctica. It is based on the diary, notes and memory of the author, together with the letters and accounts written by other members of the expedition.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverImages from Albertland : Harold Marsh, 1876-1948 / Paul Campbell.
“William Harold Marsh, farmer, father and adventurous photographer captured a time of enchantment, when life was lived at a slower place, governed by a different set of values and priorities and ambitions. One of the first generation of those immigrants who sailed around the world to settle in Albertland, 70,000 coastal acres on the Kaipara Harbour, in Northland, New Zealand, he has left a legacy of those times, a window into the past for those yet to come.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Heaphy Track / Chris Petyt.
“Heaphy he never actually followed the whole route. He along with Thomas Brunner and Kehu, their Maori guide, travelled down the coast in 1846 from the north and only traversed the coastal section of the track from the Heaphy River to the Kohaihai River. The first Europeans to traverse the route are only recorded as “Aldridge and his mate”. Following the discovery of gold in the Aorere Valley in late 1865, the route of the Heaphy Track was used by gold miners to traverse between the Aorere Goldfield and those that were subsequently discovered on the West Coast. Author Chris Petyt has dug deep and wide to assemble this first comprehensive account of the human history of the Heaphy Track. Today, the Heaphy is one of New Zealand’s premier walking tracks and the longest of the multi-day tracks designated by the Department of Conservation as Great Walks. Those contemplating a trip over the track will also find it useful as the final chapter is a guide to walking the track.” (Syndetics summary)

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