People and Places Newsletter for January

Welcome to January’s People and Places eNewsletter, featuring the best of biography, travel and history. No doubt many of you will have returned to work, inspired, re-energised and rearing to go after the holiday season, yes? On the other hand, if you’re already craving your next escape – intellectual or physical – there are plenty of avenues to explore below.

If you’re wanting to follow up on historical figures, or determine whether it’s worth reading 1000 pages about them, try Gale Biography in Context. You’ll just need your library card number and surname to get started. This free online resource has over 600,000 short biographies and links to magazines, newspaper articles and multimedia sources. Helpful for students, researchers, lifelong learners and the idly curious.

Library News


Most people have a curiosity about the lives of others – we like to twitch the lace curtains and peek into the worlds of those who are those who are famous, in the public eye or just have an interesting story to tell. This is why (sometimes despite protestations to the contrary!) we’re all happy to pick up a New Zealand Woman’s Weekly or other, similar, magazine when we’re at the doctor’s or the dentist’s surgery, and catch up on all our celebrity news!! So, to round out the year, and to satisfy that itch, we have some really fascinating stories for you here – lives ancient and modern and some in between. Have a browse!

Syndetics book coverCleopatra : a life / Stacy Schiff.
“Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Stacy Schiff brings to life the most intriguing woman in the history of the world: Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt. Though her life spanned fewer than 40 years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world.” (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverThe horror of love / Lisa Hilton.
“‘I’ve given up everything – my friends, my family, my country, & he simply roared with laughter, and then of course so did I’ — Nancy Mitford. ‘The Horror of Love’ is a story about two middle-aged, not particularly attractive people who conducted a less than ideal love affair in post-war France. [Nancy Mitford and Free French commander Gaston Palewski.] She was febrile, needy and given to ’shrieking’, he was pompous, acne-scarred and an incorrigible philanderer. Both their lives had been blighted by war in a manner which is now almost inaccessible to the contemporary imagination. He inspired and encouraged her to write one of the funniest, most painfully poignant and best-loved novels of the late twentieth century, she supported him through a tumultuous political career. Their mutual life was spent amongst some of the most exciting, powerful and controversial figures of their times in the reawakening centre of European civilization.” (Abridged summary from Global Books)

Syndetics book coverTitanic love stories : the true stories of 13 honeymoon couples who sailed on the Titanic / Gill Paul ; [introduction by Bruce Beveridge].
“On 10th April 1912, the new RMS Titanic set sail on her fateful voyage from Southampton to New York. Among those on board were 13 newly-wed couples, with dreams of starting a new life together. Titanic Love Stories features haunting portraits of these honeymooners – true stories of love, tragedy, heroism and hope more remarkable than any work of romantic fiction” (Abridged summary Global Books)

Syndetics book coverEva Braun : life with Hitler / Heike B. Görtemaker ; translated from the German by Damion Searls.
“The first comprehensive biography of Eva Braun: an authoritative reassessment of her role in Hitler’s life, which gives us, as well, an astonishingly revealing portrait of Hitler and his inner circle. In this groundbreaking book, German historian Heike B. Gortemaker reveals the real woman behind the myth of the vapid blonde with whom Hitler spent the last eighteen years of his life. Eva Braun’s relationship with the Fuhrer flew in the face of his proclamations that Germany was his only bride. In fact, he and Braun lived a bourgeois existence out of the public eye, and her identity was kept secret by the Third Reich until the final days of the war. Uncompromising and fiercely loyal to Hitler, she committed suicide with him two days after their marriage” (Abridged summary from Global Books)

Syndetics book coverColumbus : the four voyages / Laurence Bergreen.
“Christopher Columbus’s 1492 voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in search of a trading route to China, and his unexpected landfall in the Americas, is a watershed event in world history. Yet Columbus made three more voyages within the span of only a decade, each designed to demonstrate that he could sail to China within a matter of weeks and convert those he found there to Christianity. These later voyages were even more adventurous, violent, and ambiguous, but they revealed Columbus’s uncanny sense of the sea, his mingled brilliance and delusion, and his superb navigational skills. In all these exploits he almost never lost a sailor. By their conclusion, however, Columbus was broken in body and spirit.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverHere comes trouble : stories from my life / Michael Moore.
“In this smart, funny, insightful and counterintuitive book, Michael Moore will take on the major issues of our society, one by one, showing with great clarity and persuasiveness, that the two sides are really not as far apart as everyone assumes on what we conventionally view as the most divisive issues of our times. To name a few: Unions, Minimum Wage, Big Business, Immigration, Daycare, Social Security, Crime & Punishment, Taxes, The Military. The book will make us think differently about the term ‘common ground’. It will surprise people. It will make them laugh. And, most importantly, it will get them talking.” (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverPippa Blake : journey / Pippa Blake in collaboration with Trish Clarke.
“On 5 December 2001 New Zealand sporting and adventure hero Sir Peter Blake was killed by bandits at the mouth of the Amazon River. In this intimate account, Pippa Blake offers a private view of Sir Peter the husband and family man. Unpublished photographs from her personal albums, behind the scenes stories of Sir Peter’s sailing adventures and Pippa’s own journal entries and artworks provide a moving insight into a life shared with one of this country’s greatest sporting legends.” (Library Catalogue)

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Travel stories & guides

Our picks of the new travel books this month will transport you from (a very) offbeat London to Scott’s Antarctica. You’ll discover former Soviet Union countries, and take a Summer road-trip around New Zealand. Featuring breathtaking polar panoramas, Kiwi vistas from Cape Reinga to the Bluff, and no little amount of borscht – no matter your taste you’ll find a journey here to enjoy over the Summer break!

Syndetics book coverThe London nobody knows / Geoffrey Fletcher.
“Originally published in 1962, this book has been a must-have for anyone with an interest in London ever since. Geoffrey Fletcher’s offbeat portrayal of London does not focus on the big landmarks, but rather “the tawdry, extravagant and eccentric.” His descriptions will transport readers to an art nouveau pub, a Victorian music hall, a Hawksmoor church, and even a public toilet in Holborn in which the attendant kept goldfish in the cisterns. Drawn to the corners where “the kids swarm like ants and there are dogs everywhere,” Fletcher wrote about parts of the city where few outsiders venture.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSweet as / Garth Cartwright.
“‘I come from Mt Roskill. Somebody has to.’ So says Garth Cartwright of growing up in New Zealand’s largest suburb. It had acres of rugby fields and more churches than anywhere else in the country – but there were no cinemas, music venues or pubs. In search of a little more culture, a young Garth up and moved to London. Twenty years after leaving he returned to revel in a Kiwi summer. That summer was spent travelling the country from top to bottom and observing New Zealand and its citizens in all their eccentric glory. Taking to State Highway 1, he met old friends, cult rockers, aspiring politicians, potters, bikers, visionary artists, hunters, undercover cops and all manner of other Kiwi characters. Surfing, hitching, driving, sailing and tramping across New Zealand allowed him to reflect on how much New Zealand has changed in the last twenty years – and how much it hasn’t.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEight pieces of empire : a 20-year journey through the Soviet collapse / Lawrence Scott Sheets.
“Sheets (former Moscow bureau chief, NPR) writes candidly about eight nations with past connections to the Soviet Union and his personal experiences as a war correspondent in, e.g., Ossetia, Georgia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan. Sheets’s experience gives him a singular perspective on many of the conflicts those in the West remember now as vague historical footnotes. His matter-of-fact style never becomes overly political; when he includes his own commentary, he does so in a reserved and rational manner…. VERDICT Journalism students and professors, readers interested in the recent history of a region struggling to redefine itself, or anyone who has ever listened to a war correspondent’s reports with fascination will find Sheets’s new memoir engrossing.-Elizabeth Zeitz, Otterbein Univ. Lib., Westerville, OH (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverThe lost photographs of Captain Scott : unseen photographs from the legendary Antarctic Expedition / David M. Wilson.
“The myth of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s South Pole adventure is an enduring one. In the face of extreme conditions and technical challenges, Scott achieved an iconic series of images: breathtaking polar panoramas, geographical and geological formations, and action photographs of the explorers and their animals, remarkable for their technical mastery and poignancy. 192 pp.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBelize / written and researched by Mara Vorhees, Joshua Samuel Brown.
“In-depth features on Belize’s ancient Mayan ruins, wildlife and landscape. Vibrant color spreads showcase the very best of Belize’s attractions and experiences.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCuba / written and researched by Brendan Sainsbury and Luke Waterson. “Cuba is a continuing education. Two authors combine 15 weeks of research to complete this guide featuring more than 300 beaches and 35,000 pre-1959 American cars. Inspirational photos and in-depth background information complete the guide. 528 pp.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMediterranean Europe / Duncan Garwood … [et al.]
“Golden sun-kissed beaches, dreamy seascapes, ancient ruins and awe-inspiring art – Mediterranean Europe is a visual and sensual feast. Visit once, and you’ll be hooked for life. – Duncan Garwood, Lonely Planet Writer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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We have a great list of new books in our picks of the new history books at the library this month, from a pictorial history of Christchurch, to broader overviews of New Zealand history and a bit of world history as well.

Syndetics book coverChristchurch dreaming : yesterday, today and tomorrow / Mary Hobbs.
“The pictorial records after the first Christchurch earthquake seemed appropriate but it now seems timely to remember the beauty of Christchurch with photos from the past, the present and looking towards the future. Ever since the first house was built in Christchurch there have been many challenges, tragedies and triumphs, yet Cantabrians have managed to surmount these challenges and always looked to build a better future. This book encapsulates these sentiments. It is a pictorial gift – a memento of Christchurch for its citizens, for Cantabrians and all New Zealanders. It includes priceless images of the past, wonderful photos of the Christchurch we still have, along with exciting new concepts and dreams for a stunning Christchurch of tomorrow. Inspirational quotes from Christchurch citizens focusing on what they love about their city are included.” (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book coverPeople, people, people : a brief history of New Zealand / Stevan Eldred-Grigg.
“A story of New Zealand and its people, from 1200 through to 2000. A short, very accessible snapshot of New Zealand’s history written with tourists and anyone new to the country in mind. Aim is to provide an easy-to-read overview, not an exhaustive chronological history. Written in a lively manner by Christchurch born and bred Stevan Eldred-Grigg one of New Zealand’s leading writers of both history and fiction. Common themes occur throughout: each section looks at the sort of people who influenced the era and where they came from; their politics, their relationships; significant economic happenings and so on.” (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book coverNew Zealand in the twentieth century : the nation, the people / Paul Moon.
“As the first history to encompass the entire century, New Zealand in the Twentieth Century can be said to be following on from the survey histories of the last century. However, this epic work is much more than a traditional chronology of events. Rather, it brings to life in vivid detail the social, political, and cultural landscape of New Zealand in this period, and combines it with often intimate portrayals of people, places, ideas, and events that have defined us as a nation. The result is a magnificently panoramic portrait of the country which is both spirited and compelling. Alongside commerce, politics and racial integration sit the less obvious but equally relevant developments in clothing, religion, architecture, and music, together with how we played sports, shopped, drank and entertained ourselves, and how our ideas of families and communities transformed. From temperance to a people’s prime minister, from the welfare state to rock’n’roll, from a dying race to a Maori renaissance, this book follows the growth and evolution of the nation. The result is a superbly researched and highly readable history of life in New Zealand throughout the twentieth century.” — Publisher’s information.

Syndetics book coverTimelines of history / [produced in association with the Smithsonian Institution].
“Beginning with the emergence of our earliest African ancestors and taking readers through the history of cultures and nations around the world to arrive at the present day, “Timelines of History” caters to readers who want a broad overview, a good story to read, or the nitty-gritty of historical events. With easily accessible cross-references that build bite-size pieces of information into a narrative that leads readers back and forth through time, “Timelines of History” makes the past accessible to all families, students, and the general reader.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLady Almina and the real Downton Abbey : the lost legacy of Highclere Castle / by the Countess of Carnarvon.
“The remarkable story behind the real Downton Abbey. Lady Fiona Carnarvon became the chatelaine of Highclere Castle – the setting of the hit series Downton Abbey – eight years ago. In that time she’s become fascinated by the rich history of Highclere, and by the extraordinary people who lived there over the centuries. One person particularly captured Fiona’s imagination – Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon. Almina was the illegitimate daughter of banking tycoon Alfred de Rothschild. She was his only daughter and he doted on her. She married George, the Earl of Carnarvon, at 19 with an enormous dowry. At first, life at Highclere was a dizzying mix of sumptuous banquets for 500 and even the occasional royal visitor. Almina oversaw 80 members of staff – many of whom came from families who had worked at Highclere for generations. But when the First World War broke out, life at Highclere changed forever.” (Global Books In Print)

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New Zealand

This months recent picks from the New Zealand reference collection includes some New Zealand travel guides of interest to walkers, eco tourists and travellers who are interested in the history of the places they are visiting. There is also the Peter Wells biography of William Colenso.

Syndetics book coverA walking guide to New Zealand’s long trail : Te Araroa / Geoff Chapple. “This is the guidebook of Te Araroa Trail: The Long Pathway, a continuous trail running from Cape Reinga to Bluff, 35 years in the making, which will officially open in late 2011. The book maps the 3000-kilometre trail in 40-kilometre sections. Photographs of the trail illustrate each section. Each of the 12 regional sections opens with a stunning 2-page 3D map. This book is an accessible guide both for those who only want to walk parts of the trail and dedicated trampers who intend to walk its entire length.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOrganic explorer : eco-friendly places to eat, stay and explore in New Zealand / [Leonie Johnsen]. “The first guide book to organic food and eco-friendly places to eat, stay and explore throughout New Zealand. Included in the book are over 350 listings of: * Organic food cafes, restaurants, gate sales, places to shop nationwide. * Comprehensive list of Farmers’ Markets throught the country. * Eco-friendly places to stay including straw bale, mud brick and natural timber B&Bs, homestays, selff-contained cottages as well as luxury eco-lodges. * Wellness retreats, yoga retreats, day spas and health packages. * Authentic and intimate Maori tourism experiences with a contemporary perspective. * Nature-based activities and adventures.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWalks to waterfalls : 100 New Zealand waterfalls / Russell Kirkpatrick.
“Highlights a hundred of the best and most accessible waterfalls in New Zealand, including those close to urban areas. Walks for all ages and states of fitness are included and access is described in detail with the routes graded according to ease of use. Ideal to take on journeys and to use when planning holidays.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe hungry heart : journeys with William Colenso / Peter Wells. “I love doubters: of a truly honest doubter I have great hope.” Printer, botanist and missionary, William Colenso was a nineteenth-century maverick, a true original. He protested at the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, arguing that Maori did not fully understand its implications. He became a troubled conscience during the white-hot period of colonisation, maintaining his dissident voice throughout his career. Peter Wells refreshes our vision of this awkward, highly talented man, who lost his family after the church expelled him for fathering a child by a Maori woman. Rejected by church, family and friends, Colenso made botany his home and lovingly described the plants of New Zealand. At the same time he wrote a series of remarkable pamphlets that open up our past. ‘I write for future generations,’ he wrote in 1881. The time has come to welcome Colenso back.” – (adapted from cover)

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