People and Places Newsletter for August

We’ve had some great new biographies, travel and NZ titles come through this month. “Fooling Houdini” tracks one man’s lifelong love of magic and his quest to become a master magician; “The elephant’s tale” shows that it’s never too late to live the dream, provided your dream is an epic tour of Europe on a shoestring budget and a 1150cc motorbike and recent bronze medallist Mark Todd reflects on his extraordinary career in “Second chance”.

If you’re planning on travelling somewhere exotic, be sure to try out Mango Languages, our new online interactive language learning system. It’s free and you’ll be speaking like a native in no time – or your money back. Try it now, here.

Biography

This month we feature the amazing story of Flora Sandes, the gently-born daughter of an English clergyman who became the only British woman to enlist as a soldier in The First World War. She was deployed to Serbia, initially serving as an ambulance driver and First Aid nurse, but through force of circumstances she became a soldier in the Serbian army She displayed exemplary courage and excellent organisational skills – these were recognised by her receipt of Serbia’s highest military honour, the King George star. She became a celebrity in both Britain and Serbia and rose quickly through the ranks, being commmissioned as an officer at the end of the war. The many fascinating aspects of this woman’s story are fully explored in this book. Those who enjoyed Tomorrow to be brave by Susan Travers, and Nancy Wake: a biography of our greatest war heroine by Peter FitzSimmons will be pleased to welcome another stout heart to the sorority.

Syndetics book cover18 bookshops / Anne Scott.
“Anne Scott has never housed her books in order of theme or author yet she knows where each of them is and the kind of life it has led. Some have been gifts but most have been chosen in bookshops unique in their style and possibilities. Gradually some of the shops become partners with her as her life changes and so do they. They have been observers of discovery, decisions, and marvels with her, following the line of her time and place.Some are everyday shops with a shelf of books in a corner, some are beginning again after long lives as churches, printing presses, medieval houses, a petrol-station. There are a few the author is too late to see: early print-houses and booksellers. They are here too in this book, searched for and described, side by side with all the bookshops open now and busy with readers. This book is about them. Not one is like another. In one way, the book is a sequence about writing. But first it is a map of books and a life.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverFooling Houdini : magicians, mentalists, math geeks, & the hidden powers of the mind / Alex Stone.
“When Alex Stone was five years old, his father bought him a magic kit, sparking a lifelong love. Years later, living in New York City, he discovered a vibrant underground magic scene populated by a fascinating cast of characters: from his gruff mentor, who holds court in the back of a rundown pizza shop, to one of the world’s greatest card cheats, who happens to be blind. From New York City’s century-old magic societies to cutting-edge psychology labs, Fooling Houdini recounts Stone’s quest to join the ranks of master magicians. But his journey is more than a tale of tricks, gigs, and geeks. In trying to understand how expert magicians manipulate our minds to create their illusions, Stone investigates some of the lesser-known corners of psychology, neuroscience, physics, history, and even crime.” – (adapted from Publisher’s summary)

Syndetics book coverEleanor of Aquitaine: Queen of France, Queen of England / Ralph V. Turner.
“Eleanor of Aquitaine’s extraordinary life seems more likely to be found in the pages of fiction. Proud daughter of a distinguished French dynasty, she married the king of France, Louis VII, then the king of England, Henry II, and gave birth to two sons who rose to take the English throne – Richard the Lionheart and John. Renowned for her beauty, hungry for power, headstrong, and unconventional, Eleanor travelled on crusades, acted as regent for Henry II and later for Richard, incited rebellion, endured a fifteen-year imprisonment, and as an elderly widow still wielded political power with energy and enthusiasm. This gripping biography is the definitive account of the most important queen of the Middle Ages.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverBurying the typewriter : childhood under the eye of the secret police / Carmen Bugan.
“Carmen Bugan grew up amid the bounty of the Romanian countryside on her grandparent’s farm where food and laughter were plentiful. But eventually her father’s behavior was too disturbing to ignore. He wept when listening to Radio Free Europe, hid pamphlets in sacks of dried beans, and mysteriously buried and reburied a typewriter. When she discovered he was a political dissident she became anxious for him to conform.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverThe natural laws of good luck : a memoir of an unlikely marriage / Ellen Graf.
“Graf tells the quirky and funny story of how she marries a man from China whom she barely knows. “The Natural Laws of Good Luck” is a story of acceptance and of love beyond words. It is also a tale of finding renewal at midlife by taking a brave leap into the unknown.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA fine brother : the life of Captain Flora Sandes / Louise Miller.
“The only woman to serve as a soldier in the First World War, the Englishwoman Flora Sandes became a hero and media sensation when she fought for the Serbian Army and pursued a distinguished career in its ranks as officer. This account charts her incredible story, from her tomboyish childhood in genteel Victorian England, her mission to Serbia as a Red Cross volunteer and subsequent military enrolment, her celebrity lecture tours of Europe, her marriage to a fellow officer and her survival of a Gestapo prison during the Second World War to her final years in Suffolk. A fascinating character of her times and an inspiration to women the world over, Flora Sandes is brought to life and restored to her rightful place in history by this authorized biography – compiled with the help of her family, and using hitherto unused private papers and photographs.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverGood in a crisis : a memoir / Margaret Overton.
“During the four years of physician Margaret Overton’s acrimonious divorce, she dated widely and sometimes indiscriminately, determined to find her soulmate and live happily ever after. But then she discovered she had a brain aneurysm. She discovered it at a particularly awkward moment on a date with one of many Mr Wrongs. Overton, an anaesthetist, realised she had been so busy looking after the needs of others that she had forgotten to look after herself. So she set out on a course to take control of her future and finally become independent of men. Good in a Crisis is Overton’s laugh-out-loud account of dealing with the most serious of life’s problems: loss of life, loss of love and loss of innocence. It is a story of spirituality and self-delusion; of coming of age in adulthood and of navigating the terrible events that can cluster in midlife. Honest, hopeful and hilarious, this unforgettable memoir will make you laugh and cry. It will leave you a lot humbler, and just a little wiser.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

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Travel stories & guides

Syndetics book coverGrowing old outrageously : a memoir of travel, food and friendship / Hilary Linstead and Elisabeth Davies.
“Two old school friends reconnect unexpectedly after thirty-five years and discover that they both love travelling – and the more exotic and far-flung the location, the better!” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe elephant’s tale : London to Vladivostok on two wheels / Mike Hannan.
“With their children grown and flown, Mike and Jo Hannan discover that it’s never too late to live the dream and embark on an epic tour of Europe and beyond on a 1150cc BMW motorbike called ‘Elephant’. With a limited budget, and all the essentials packed, they hit the road. Journeying through sunshine and rain, over good roads and bad, they explore France, Spain, North Africa, Russia and other former Soviet countries, Mongolia and Korea, taking in all kinds of sights and meeting all kinds of people. Along the way they also learn the difference between a tourist and a voyageur, and come to understand the deep universal significance of their journey.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe ten-letter countries : more zany adventures of the alphabet traveller / David Jenkins.
“With a touch of Bill Bryson’s humour, this wacky, fun book takes readers on a fascinating journey to parts of the world that few people visit. The Ten-Letter Countries is a story of a unique blend of countries visited by David based solely on their spelling…. David Jenkins is The Alphabet Traveller. Having previously made an 85 000 mile journey to visit all countries in the world whose names are made up of four letters, David is now off to explore 12 countries which all have ten letters to their name. David Jenkins hitchhiked to France the day he left school and has trotted the globe ever since…” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTravels with Bertha : two years exploring Australia in a 1978 Ford stationwagon / Paul Martin.
“A book for anyone whose friends, loved ones, or themselves have travelled to Australia, and for those interested in the dark history, the colorful characters, or the startling beauty of this most fascinating continent.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSwirly World sails south / Andrew Fagan.
“In 2007, Kiwi musician and radio personality Andrew Fagan set sail in his tiny 5.4-metre plywood yacht to circumnavigate New Zealand. And just to make it more difficult, he included a leg to the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands in the notorious Southern Ocean. All in all he sailed over 3000 miles (around 5000 km) in two months. Facing such potentially lethal conditions in such a tiny craft took careful planning mixed with extreme determination, serious fortitude and uncommon daring. In this account of his voyage, Fagan tells of having to avoid icebergs, sail through a force ten storm and visit sites of shipwrecks at Port Ross in the Auckland Island group. ‘With the genuine concern of a very fatigued person, I was sailing for my life and I knew it!’ ….” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhen Gods collide : an unbeliever’s pilgrimage along India’s Coromandel Coast / Kate James.
“Part detective story, part personal journey, Kate’s engrossing reportage explores India’s complex tapestry of religion and mysticism, assessing its Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and athiest heritage as she comes to terms with the faith she has rejected.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWild : from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail / Cheryl Strayed
“…..Strayed tells the story of her emotional devastation after the death of her mother and the weeks she spent hiking the 1,100-mile Pacific Crest Trail. As her family, marriage, and sanity go to pieces, Strayed drifts into spontaneous encounters with other men, to the consternation of her confused husband, and eventually hits rock bottom while shooting up heroin with a new boyfriend. Convinced that nothing else can save her, she latches onto the unlikely idea of a long solo hike. Woefully unprepared (she fails to read about the trail, buy boots that fit, or pack practically), she relies on the kindness and assistance of those she meets along the way… Strayed labors along the demanding trail, documenting her bruises, blisters, and greater troubles….–Mondor, Colleen Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” – (adapted from Booklist summary)

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History

Before Tom Cruise started divorcing wives, Henry VIII had the biggest “celebrity” divorce around! This month’s history books include a new account of this famous divorce. We also have some great new New Zealand histories, along with looks at the Kings of Scotland and the twelve Caesars. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverThe divorce of Henry VIII : the untold story from inside the Vatican / Catherine Fletcher.
“Given the amount of material available on the Tudors, it’s difficult to think that anyone even remotely interested in this era is unfamiliar with the particulars of Henry VIII’s attempts to seek a divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and the resulting political and religious fallout. Fortunately, in her first book, Fletcher (history, Univ. of Durham, England) has found a new angle by focusing on a little-known figure: Gregorio Casali, England’s Italian-born ambassador to Rome. As one of the diplomats charged with securing the Pope’s approval for the divorce, Casali played a central role in the dealings at the papal court. Though some biographical gaps remain, the information Fletcher has uncovered about Casali’s life-full of clashing politics, professional rivalries, and deep family loyalties-provides a fresh perspective on the proceedings of the divorce attempt as well as an in-depth look at the complex world of 16th-century diplomacy. ” – (adapted from Library Journal summary)

Syndetics book coverThe meeting place : Māori and Pākehā encounters, 1642-1840 / Vincent O’Malley.
“The Meeting Place is an examination of relationships between Maori and Pakeha focusing predominantly on the period between 1814 and 1840 when, O’Malley argues, both peoples lived/inhabited a ‘middle ground’- in the historian’s Richard White’s phrase – in which neither could dictate the political, economic or cultural rules. Vincent O’Malley begins by introducing readers to pre-1814 encounters between Maori and European from, Tasman and Cook to sealers and whalers. He then provides a thematic analysis of the 1814 to 1840 period, looking at economic, religious, political and sexual encounters as Maori and Pakeha sorted through the meanings of land, money, gods, leaders and sex. Finally, O’Malley looks at why and how the middle ground gave way to a world in which Pakeha had enough power to dictate terms. The Meeting Place draws on an impressive range of sources to offer a welcome addition to works concerning Maori-Pakeha interaction in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries including those by Anne Salmond, James Belich, Judith Binney, Hazel Petrie, and others. It will appeal to the every general reader interested in New Zealand history but will also be useful for teaching. Its coverage of several major historical debates is likely to serve existing university courses throughout New Zealand as well as the senior secondary school curriculum.” – (adapted from Global Books In Print summary)

Syndetics book coverThe faded map : lost kingdoms of Scotland / Alistair Moffat.
“This book brings to vivid life the half-forgotten kings and kingdoms of two thousand years ago, of the time of the Romans, the Dark Ages and into the early medieval period. Though recent politics and logistics have established borders and jurisdictions which now seem permanent and impervious, The Faded Map looks beyond these to remember a land that was once quiet and green. In this fascinating account, Alistair Moffat describes the landscape these men and women moved through and talks of a Celtic society which spoke to itself in Old Welsh, where the Sons of Prophesy ruled, and the time when the English kings of Bernicia held sway over vast swathes of what is now Scotland. Heroes rode out of the mists to challenge them and then join with them. The faint echo of the din of ancient battles can be heard as Alistair Moffat takes the reader on a remarkable journey around a lost Scotland.” – (adapted from Global Books In Print summary)

Syndetics book coverThe twelve Caesars / Matthew Dennison.
“One of them was a military genius; one murdered his mother and fiddled while Rome burned; another earned the nickname ’sphincter artist’. Six of their number were assassinated, two committed suicide – and five of them were elevated to the status of gods. They have come down to posterity as the ‘twelve Caesars’ – Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. Under their rule, from 49 BC to AD 96, Rome was transformed from a republic to an empire, whose model of regal autocracy would survive in the West for more than a thousand years. Matthew Dennison offers a beautifully crafted sequence of colourful biographies of each emperor, triumphantly evoking the luxury, licence, brutality and sophistication of imperial Rome at its zenith. But as well as vividly recreating the lives, loves and vices of this motley group of despots, psychopaths and perverts, he paints a portrait of an era of political and social revolution, of the bloody overthrow of a proud, 500-year-old political system and its replacement by a dictatorship which, against all the odds, succeeded more convincingly than oligarchic democracy in governing a vast international landmass.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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New Zealand

This month’s selection includes books on well known topics in New Zealand. Keith Hunter investigates the 40 year old unsolved case of the Crewe murders, John Julian investigates the Rena disaster and twice Olympic gold medal winner Mark Todd publishes his autobiography. There is also a look at fifty years of the work ofIan Athfield – the architect who designed our very own library building, as well as many of Wellington’s other architectual landmarks. In the graphic novel format “Ngarimu Te Tohu Toa” recounts how Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngārimu became the first Māori soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

Syndetics book coverThe case of the missing bloodstain : inside an incompetent and corrupt police inquiry : the truth of the Crewe murders / Keith Hunter.
“For over 40 years the murder of Harvey and Jeanette Crewe is the great unsolved mystery of NZ Criminal history. Local farmer Arthur Alan Thomas was twice convicted of their murders but following a Royal Commission of Inquiry was later given a Royal pardon. In this comprehensive anatomy of the investigation veteran investigative journalist and broadcaster Keith Hunter provides answers to all the unresolved issues in the case.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlack tide : the story behind the Rena disaster / John Julian.
“Tells the real story of the Rena. The Rena, a 236-metre-long container ship was making 17 knots when she ploughed into the Astrolabe Reef at 2:20am on Wednesday 5 October 2011. She was on her way from Napier towards Tauranga carrying 1368 containers along with 1700 tonnes of heavy fuel oil and 200 tonnes of marine diesel. The scene was set for a major economic and environmental catastrophe; a race against time for salvors working in hideous conditions to stem the black tide.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSecond chance : the autobiography / Mark Todd with Kate Green.
“Mark Todd’s eventing career is the stuff of legend and encompasses one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time. When he ‘retired’ from competing in eventing in 2000, he had already been named ‘Rider of the Century’ for his natural empathy with a horse and his extraordinary success, which included back-to-back Olympic gold medals, five Burghley wins and three Badminton victories. He has also show jumped to Olympic level and trained winners on the racecourse.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAthfield Architects / Julia Gatley.
“Over many years, Ian Athfield and his team at Athfield Architects have reshaped New Zealand architecture – from the Buck House at Te Mata Estate to Wellington’s Civic Square, from Jade Stadium to Athfield’s own sprawling settlement on the Khandallah hills. Reflecting on half a century of work, Julia Gatley’s landmark book introduces a major body of architecture through modernism, postmodernism and beyond.” – (adapted from Publisher’s summary)

Syndetics book coverNgārimu : te Tohu Toa / nā Andrew Burdan ngā pikitia.
“Tells the story of Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngārimu, the first Māori soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross, describing the battle on the 26 & 27th of March 1943 in which he fought heroically, but was killed. Suggested level: secondary.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUnposted letters : from a Japanese prisoner of war camp, 1942-1945 / J.C. Maddever ; compiled by Lorna Manson.
“Jack Maddever would never talk about his war experiences, but he kept a record in his letters which were never posted. He carried them home on his return in 1945 and they provide a glimpse into his day-to-day existence while in a POW camp in Palembang, Indonesia. In three years Jack’s weight dropped from nearly 13 stone (82.5kg) to under 7 stone (44.5kg). Jack died in 1982. His letters, compiled by his widow Lorna Manson, show us his struggle to survive those long years of incarceration.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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People and Places eNewsletter for July

Reading can take you all over the world, then right back home again. That’s the theme this month in the People and Places eNewsletter. Plenty to dip into, as always.

Library News

Biography

It would be difficult to imagine a more horrible fate than that suffered by beautiful young Briton Katie Piper, she was brutally raped and burned with acid by a jealous boyfriend. Yet she survived and her energy, courage and positive mental attitude have been an inspiration to many thousands who are suffering from life’s hardships. She is already very well-known – several younger members of staff here recognised her immediately on seeing the book, as she has been the subject of numerous articles and television interviews. It is a very inspiring book and one which will help very many people. We also have another book by Katie Piper in the library, Beautiful : a beautiful girl, an evil man, one inspiring true story of courage. If biographies are your thing, we’ve added plenty more besides.

Syndetics book coverWinston Churchill : portrait of an unquiet mind / Andrew Norman.
“Winston Churchill was an extraordinary person – a politician, a statesman, a man of letters and a soldier but it was for his wartime leadership during the Second World War that he is chiefly remembered. In a study of his life, certain bizarre character traits become discernible. He had excessive energy and required little sleep. His mind would either flit from one idea to another with bewildering speed or focus obsessively on one particular goal. He was impulsive, and his attention was easily drawn to irrelevant or unimportant matters. He enjoyed taking risks almost To The point of self-destruction. He lacked inhibition and was eccentric in the extreme. Yet at other times, when he was afflicted with what he called his ‘Black Dog’, he became depressed, irritable, aggressive, and preoccupied with death and thoughts of suicide.By closely and painstakingly examining the statements of Churchill’s doctor, Of Winston himself, his family, his friends and acquaintances, Dr Norman, As a medical man, has been able to ascertain the true nature of Winston’s disorder. The diagnosis having been made, it is now possible For The very first time, and this will remain secret until the book is published, To Understand The man himself and what made him ‘tick’.” – (adapted from Globalbooksinprint.com summary)

Syndetics book coverYoung Herriot : the early life and times of James Herriot / by John Lewis-Stempel.
‘We had no antibiotics, few drugs. A lot of time was spent pouring things down cows’ throats. The whole thing added up to a lot of laughs. There’s more science now, but not so many laughs.’ We all know James Herriot, possibly the most famous vet in the world. But how did a young student named Alf Wight become the man who would charm millions of readers the world over? Young James tells the fascinating story of James Herriot’s formative years at veterinary college. Set in Glasgow in the 1930s – pre-antibiotics, when veterinary practise was, as Herriot wrote, ‘more art than science’ – the book shines a light on his calling to work with animals (which began when he read an article in Meccano Magazine entitled ‘Veterinary Surgery as a Career’), his early friendships and quest for knowledge at Glasgow’s Veterinary College and the quest for knowledge at Glasgow’s Veterinary College.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover“Things get better / Katie Piper.
“To look and listen to the extraordinary Katie Piper, it is difficult to comprehend the severe physical and psychological trauma she suffered from a brutal rape and acid attack which left her with deep physical and emotional scars. These terrible events would have crushed most people, but through her incredible courage, bright and positive outlook and sheer determination, Katie has become living proof that no matter what life throws at you, if you work hard and believe – things will get better. Katie’s story alone has proved inspirational to millions of people, and now in this important book she begins to answer the question that everyone wants to know – ‘where did you find the courage?’ Katie shares the key steps and support that led to her emotional recovery so that she can help others in their own lives, whether suffering a breakup or life change or more serious trauma. Through her own stories of emotional recovery and in letters sent to her by others, she acknowledges the pain we have all felt at times, whether physical or psychological, grief or trauma, and shows with spectacular compassion and encouragement that we can all find the strength within to carry on.” – (adapted from Globalbooksinprint.com summary)

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Travel stories & guides

The latest travel books see destinations as diverse as Albania and Antarctica, New England and Naples. After deciding on the destination, pick a hotel from another recent book that profiles the best from across the globe.

Syndetics book coverAlbania : the Bradt travel guide / Gillian Gloyer.Albania
“Albania’s unspoilt mountain scenery, cultural sites and beaches make it increasingly popular. This affectionate guide covers the length and breadth of the country, discovering remote villages and out-of-the-way towns. It features detailed information on wildlife, national parks, hiking routes, beaches, and the main archaeological sites and Byzantine art. 2012 marks the centenary of Albania’s independence from the Ottoman Empire and is likely to be marked by several major events.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe world’s greatest hotels / [editor, Jennifer Miranda].
“Millions of travelers turn to Travel + Leisure as their source of information and inspiration. Each year, the magazine’s editors distill their coverage into an expertly vetted guide to the most memorable accommodations around the globe.” – (from Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverThe rough guide to New England / written and researched by Sarah Hull and Stephen Keeling.
“The Rough Guide to New England” is the ultimate travel guide to this compellingly historic region, packed with comprehensive coverage of every attraction. Honest, accurate reviews, detailed practical information, new top 5 lists, insider tips and illuminating photographs throughout will ensure that your visit is a truly memorable one. Discover New England’s highlights with in-depth accounts on everything from apple picking and beachcombing to Yankee cooking and zip lines. Hike the Appalachian Trail, or meander down country roads amid autumn foliage; savour New England’s best clam chowder, regional beer and blueberry pie; spot a lighthouse, or even a whale; and, walk in the footsteps of revolutionaries.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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History

This month’s history recent picks are all about the ladies: a mystery writer touring the world; the women behind the Kennedy political men; an American woman becomes an African King (yes King not Queen!); photographic comparison of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II’s London; and a journalist on the spot during the Libyan uprising. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverThe grand tour / Agatha Christie ; edited by Mathew Prichard.
“In 1922 Agatha Christie set sail on a 10-month voyage around the British Empire with her husband as part of a trade mission to promote the forthcoming British Empire Exhibition. She kept up a detailed weekly correspondence with her mother, describing in detail the exotic places and people she encountered as the mission travelled through South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and Canada. Previously unpublished letters are accompanied by hundreds of photos taken on her portable camera as well as some of the original letters, postcards, newspaper cuttings and memorabilia collected by Agatha on her trip. The Grand Tour is a book steeped in history, sure to fascinate anyone interested in the lost world of the 1920s. Coming from the pen of Britain’s biggest literary export and the world’s most widely translated author, it is also a fitting tribute to Agatha Christie and is sure to fascinate her legions of worldwide fans.” – (adapted from Global Books In Print summary)

Syndetics book coverKing Peggy : an American secretary, her royal destiny, and the inspiring story of how she changed an African village / Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman.King Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village
“Bartels was a native of Ghana living in the U.S., working as secretary to the Ghanaian embassy, when a relative called to give her startling news. Following the death of her uncle, a village king, the council of elders had determined that she would be his successor. Bartels, who’d come to the U.S. to study and had become a U.S. citizen, hadn’t been home since the death of her mother. But she accepted the daunting prospect with determination and brio. She would rule part-time, traveling between Washington, D.C., and Ghana. Bartels, along with coauthor Herman, chronicles her journey from secretary to king of the poor and isolated village of Otuam, 60 miles from the capital of Accra. She becomes reacquainted with distant relatives and her estranged husband as she juggles responsibilities such as refurbishing the modest palace, repaving roads, and burying her uncle before the ancestors can be offended all on fees collected from fishermen and a secretary’s salary. Balancing cultural differences and sketchy finances, Bartels finds within herself the strength to tackle poverty, tradition, and personal transformation.” – (adapted from Booklist summary)

Syndetics book coverThe queens’ London : the metropolis in the Diamond Jubilee years of Victoria & Elizabeth II / Jon Curry & Hugo Simms.
“In the last years of the nineteenth century, The Queen’s London: A Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the Great Metropolis was published. The work, a collection of some of the finest photographs of the capital ever taken, was produced to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of her most excellent Majesty Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India. In 2012, when the eyes of the world will be on London, The Queens’ London brings this story up to date. Pairing these beautifully captured vintage views with 180 images taken from identical vantage points in the London of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, it gives the reader a fascinating perspective on the history behind London’s familiar streets.” – (adapted from Global Books In Print summary)

Syndetics book coverZen under fire : a New Zealand woman’s story of love and war in Afghanistan / Marianne Elliott.
“I am about to be left in charge of the office. I’m not sure I am ready for the responsibility, so I double-check with my boss. He reassures me. ‘You’ll be fine, Marianne. As long as no one kills Amanullah Khan, you’ll be fine.’ By midday, Amanullah Khan is dead.” In 2006 Marianne Elliott, a human rights lawyer from New Zealand, is stationed with the UN in Herat. Several months into her new role an important tribal leader is assassinated while she is in charge of the local UN office. She must try to defuse the situation before it leads to widespread bloodshed. ZEN UNDER FIRE is a vivid and deeply personal account of a young woman’s time living and working as a peacekeeper in one of the world’s most notorious battlegrounds. As well as sharing the incredible details of her UN work in and around Herat and the remote province of Ghor, Marianne tells of the shattering effects of this high-stress, high-danger environment on her and her relationships – and how, amid the turmoil, she begins to find her way back to herself.” – (adapted from Global Books In Print summary)

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New Zealand

Here is a selection of recent arrivals in the New Zealand Collection, this month there is a wide variety of topics.

Syndetics book coverPiano forte : stories and soundscapes from colonial New Zealand / Kirstine Moffat.
“This book focuses on the era in which the piano became of central significance in the private, social and cultural lives of many New Zealanders. The stories begin in 1827, with the arrival of what was probably the first piano to be brought to New Zealand, and end in 1930. Initially, a European musical instrument that introduced Maori to a new sound world and which provided European settlers with a reassuring sense of ‘home’.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe occupiers : New Zealand veterans remember post-war Japan / Alison Parr.
“Twelve thousand New Zealand men and women served in the occupation of Japan immediately after the Second World War. This book records memories from those we know as ‘J Force’. The Occupiers explores Kiwi life in the former enemy territory between 1946 and 1948.Veterans recall the horror of witnessing the devastated city of Hiroshima. They describe their culture shock and adjustment to unfamiliar customs. These stories uncover a little-known but fascinating aspect of New Zealand’s post-war experience.” – (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWorkers in the margins : union radicals in post-war New Zealand / Cybèle Locke.
“Marginalised workers of the late twentieth century were those last hired in times of plenty and first fired in times of recession. Often women, Māori, or people from the Pacific, they were frequently unemployed, and marginalised within the union movement as well as the labour force. The world of trade unions and employment conflicts, such as the 1951 waterfront lockout, was vigorous and challenging. As free market policies deregulated the labour market and splintered the union movement toward the end of the century, Te Roopu Rawakore o Aotearoa, the national unemployment and beneficiaries’ movement, gave a new voice to workers in the margins” – (adapted from Publisher’s summary)

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People and Places Newsletter for June

One prominent person in the news a lot lately is the Queen, she’s also been popping up in our catalogue a lot lately too. So it only makes sense to let the honour of leading off this month’s People and Places newsletter fall to her. The rest of the highlights in our Biography, Travel, History and New Zealand sections follow …

Library News

Biography

This is the year of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – she has been on the throne for sixty years, which makes her the longest serving British monarch since Victoria. Whether you are a monarchist or not, this is a momentous historical occassion, and one which has been marked by the publication of a plethora of celebratory books. We have chosen one of the crop primarily because it is pictorial work, but there are many others including Andrew Marr’s excellent “Diamond Queen’, which we also stock.

Syndetics book coverElizabeth : a diamond jubilee portrait / Jennie Bond.
“In 2012, Queen Elizabeth II will mark the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne, a diamond jubilee that this book, written by former BBC Royal Correspondent Jennie Bond, commemorates. On February 6, 1952, Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, became Queen on the death of her father, King George VI to the reign that was to see major changes both in the country and Commonwealth and in the role of the monarchy began far away from Britain in a game reserve in Kenya. “Elizabeth: The Diamond Jubilee” looks at this remarkable period in the history of Britain’s monarchy in lavish and fascinating detail, featuring over 240 photographs. Constantly under scrutiny ever since she took the throne, this book presents a balanced and absorbing account of the Queen’s life and of her role as the head of state in a country and a world that have changed almost beyond recognition in the sixty years since she inherited the throne.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverCharles Dickens at home / Hilary Macaskill ; special photography by Graham Salter ; [foreword by Florian Schweizer].
“This book tracks the places Dickens lived, from his Portsmouth birthplace and childhood home in Chatham to his last home back in Kent, at Gad’s Hill Place in Rochester. The book also covers his travels in England and abroad, where the locations provided the settings in his novels, such as Nicholas Nickleby’s Yorkshire and in the East Anglia of David Copperfield, Charles Dickens’s most autobiographical novel. Above all, it is London, where he lived in different homes for the majority of his life, which is so identified with Dickens and with his fiction. One thing that characterised his attitude to all his homes in adult life was his deep involvement in domestic arrangements, despite the frantic pace of his intensive work schedule. It was this close attention to detail, as well as his acute observation of his surroundings, that distinguished his novels, both in their portrayal of home life and in their sense of place. An invaluable resource to anyone who has an interest in the settings of Dickens’ work, Hilary Macaskill weaves a narrative which places this great writer in his domestic context, gloriously illustrated with archive material and original photography.” – (adapted from Publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverThomas Becket : warrior, priest, rebel, victim : a 900-year-old story retold / John Guy.
“A revisionist new biography reintroducing readers to one of the most subversive figures in English history-the man who sought to reform a nation, dared to defy his king, and laid down his life to defend his sacred honor. Becket’s life story has been often told but never so incisively reexamined and vividly rendered as it is in John Guy’s hands. The son of middle-class Norman parents, Becket rose against all odds to become the second most powerful man in England. As King Henry II’s chancellor, Becket charmed potentates and popes, tamed overmighty barons, and even personally led knights into battle. After his royal patron elevated him to archbishop of Canterbury in 1162, however, Becket clashed with the King. Forced to choose between fealty to the crown and the values of his faith, he repeatedly challenged Henry’s authority to bring the church to heel. Drawing on the full panoply of medieval sources, Guy sheds new light on the relationship between the two men, separates truth from centuries of mythmaking, and casts doubt on the long-held assumption that the headstrong rivals were once close friends. He also provides the fullest accounting yet for Becket’s seemingly radical transformation from worldly bureaucrat to devout man of God. Here is a Becket seldom glimpsed in any previous biography, a man of many facets and faces.” – (adapted from Globalbooksinprint.com summary)

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Travel stories & guides

Our picks of the new travel books this month are an eccentric bunch, filled with hairy hikers and unusual approaches to travel. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverThe hairy hikers : a coast-to-coast trek along the French Pyrenees / David Le Vay.
“Fuelled by a degree of mid-life crisis and the need to escape, albeit temporarily, the dull routine of modern life, David and Rob set out to walk from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, taking in French villages, beautiful scenery and one of the most spectacular mountain ranges in Europe. Just about perfect — if you can put aside the inevitable conflict, drama and unexpected tedium that results from two men spending over seven solid weeks in each other’s company!” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLe road trip : a traveler’s journal of love and France / Vivian Swift.
Le Road Trip combines the appeal of the iconic American quest with France’s irresistible allure, offering readers a totally new perspective of life on the road. Le Road Trip tells the story of one idyllic French honeymoon trip, but it is also a witty handbook of tips and advice on how to thrive as a traveler, a captivating visual record with hundreds of watercolor illustrations, and a chronicle depicting the incomparable charms of being footloose in France. Armchair travelers, die-hard vagabonds, art journalists, and red wine drinkers will all find something to savor in this story.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCruising attitude : tales of crashpads, crew drama, and crazy passengers at 35,000 feet / Heather Poole.
“Flying the not-so-friendly skies… In her more than fifteen years as an airline flight attendant, Heather Poole has seen it all. She’s witnessed all manner of bad behavior at 35,000 feet and knows what it takes for a traveler to become the most hated passenger onboard… Heather’s true stories in Cruising Attitude are surprising, hilarious, sometimes outrageously incredible the very juiciest of “galley gossip” delightfully intermingled with the eye-opening, unforgettable chronicle of her fascinating life in the sky.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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History

We have some great new history books this month; Kiwis in Afghanistan, the Tower of London, Lincoln’s assassination and more.

Syndetics book coverZen under fire : a New Zealand woman’s story of love and war in Afghanistan / Marianne Elliott.
“I am about to be left in charge of the office. I’m not sure I am ready for the responsibility, so I double-check with my boss. He reassures me. ‘You’ll be fine, Marianne. As long as no one kills Amanullah Khan, you’ll be fine.’ By midday, Amanullah Khan is dead.” In 2006 Marianne Elliott, a human rights lawyer from New Zealand, is stationed with the UN in Herat. Several months into her new role an important tribal leader is assassinated while she is in charge of the local UN office. She must try to defuse the situation before it leads to widespread bloodshed. ZEN UNDER FIRE is a vivid and deeply personal account of a young woman’s time living and working as a peacekeeper in one of the world’s most notorious battlegrounds. As well as sharing the incredible details of her UN work in and around Herat and the remote province of Ghor, Marianne tells of the shattering effects of this high-stress, high-danger environment on her and her relationships – and how, amid the turmoil, she begins to find her way back to herself.” – (adapted from Global Books In Print summary)

Syndetics book coverTower : an epic history of the Tower of London / Nigel Jones.
“Castle, royal palace, prison, torture chamber, execution site, zoo, mint, home to the crown jewels, armory, record office, observatory, and the most visited tourist attraction in the UK: The Tower of London has been all these things and more. No building in Britain has been more intimately involved in the island’s story than this mighty, brooding stronghold in the very heart of the capital, a place which has stood at the epicenter of dramatic, bloody and frequently cruel events for almost athousand years.
Now historian Nigel Jones sets this dramatic story firmly in the context of national – and international – events. In a gripping account drawn from primary sources and lavishly illustrated with sixteen pages of stunning photographs, he captures the Tower in its many changing moods and its many diverse functions. Here, for he first time, is a thematic portrayal of the Tower of london not just as an ancient structure, but as a living symbol of the nation of Great Britain.” – (adapted from Global Books In Print summary)

Syndetics book coverKilling Lincoln : the shocking assassination that changed America forever / Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard.Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever
“O’Reilly, the popular and controversial cable news commentator, teams here with Dugard (Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone) to cover Lincoln’s assassination in a simple and morally unambiguous style. They offer no new insights into the death of Lincoln, just a sensationalist retelling of a familiar story. In pages filled with conjecture about the mental states of the protagonists, the authors succinctly describe the closing battles of the Civil War, the assassination, and its aftermath. They frequently speculate on conspiracy theories that involved secretary of war Edwin M. Stanton in the assassination plot, but they never make accusations except to say his behavior was “suspicious.” It will be interesting to see whether fans of O’Reilly’s television show will flock to his first foray into history the way they have to his books on contemporary issues. VERDICT Written from an unapologetically northern perspective, this book is not for academics but may appeal to readers who enjoy fast-paced, conjectural popular history. It includes an appendix reprinting the Harper’s Weekly account of the assassination written soon after.” – (adapted from Library Journal summary)

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New Zealand

This month’s recent picks showcase the variety of people who call New Zealand home, from Tāngata Whēnua to Irish immigrants to those of Jewish descent.

Syndetics book coverStones bones steam / Philip Andrews.
“Looks at Māori myths and landforms; power of ignimbrite eruptions; early geological exploration; past discoveries of moa, mosasaur and other fossils; the man who made artificial geysers; Rotorua’s great bores versus geysers controversy; and geology in verse” – (adapted from Back cover)

Syndetics book coverBog Irish Micks : the O’Brien family from Scariff : a family history / by Kath Woodley.
“Chronicles the families started by the five children of John O’Brien and Margaret Malone, all of whom left Scariff, Ireland for New Zealand between 1874 and 1883.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJewish lives in New Zealand : a history / Leonard Bell and Diana Morrow, editors.
“The census tells us that 8000 New Zealanders actively identify as Jewish and it is estimated that the broader population is probably around 25,000. There has never been an authoritative history of this country’s Jewish population and yet people of Jewish descent (both secular and religious) have played vital roles in all aspects of our society throughout its history. Auckland alone has had five Jewish mayors. Jews have been prominent in New Zealand’s business, cultural, intellectual, political, medical, intellectual life and more since the 1840s, and successive waves of immigration have added to the tapestry of New Zealand Jewry. This significant book covers key sectors of activity with specialist writers assigned to each. Richly illustrated, it slots another important piece into the jigsaw of our history.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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People & Places eNewsletter for May

Here’s another selection of highlights from our catalogue to bring you up to speed on some of the great new items we’ve added.

Library News

Biography

Do we really need another biography of Hitler? A.N. Wilson, one of Britain’s most repected historians, thinks we do and in his short study offers several interesting new theories about this monstrous man. He feels that Hitler had a sense of intuition bordering on genius and that he realised that the spoken word was going to the most important medium of communication in the twentieth century. Wilson sees him as the forerunner of Hollywood and TV stars and post-war politicians. He also postulates that the Allies had ample opportunity to arrest Hitler’s relentless rise to power.

If this had happened then Miriam Franks and her mother would not have not have had to to flee Europe and embark on peripatetic wanderings around the world, finally settling in New Zealand. Miriam did not stay here, however. She returned to Europe at the age of sixteen to train as a doctor and lived a most interesting and event-filled life, eventually reconciling herself to the disruption the war had caused her and coming to an understanding of the unhappinesss it had caused between her mother and herself.

Syndetics book coverMy innocent absence : tales from a nomadic life / Miriam Frank.
“When five-year-old Miriam boards the Serpa Pinto in 1941, she is unaware that she and her mother Käte are escaping the roundups, separations and final extermination camps. She is leaving a world of Communists and Nazis, Republicans and Fascists, collaborators and resistance fighters, Jews and stateless refugees. But sometimes the mere fact of survival is not enough. As adolescence approaches, Miriam faces new challenges as her mother turns from guardian and protector to her strongest critic. The constant flight and upheaval that once united them now seems to drive them apart. After a failed reconciliation with Miriam’s father, Käte moves again, this time to New Zealand. By the age of twelve Miriam has fled two wars and lived on three continents. Gradually understanding the horror of the Holocaust and its long shadow, she begins to train as a doctor, when only sixteen: the preservation of life and alleviation of pain becomes the focus of her professional career. She returns to Europe, settles in London and marries Kortokraks, a German artist, former assistant to Oscar Kokoschka – the start of yet more challenging and enriching experiences on her journey from a fragmented start to wholeness.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHitler : a short biography / A.N. Wilson.
“A short, sharp, gripping account of the twentieth century’s most notorious figure by one of our finest biographers.In this brilliant short biography of Adolf Hitler, acclaimed historian A. N. Wilson offers a fresh interpretation of the life of the ‘ultimate demon-tyrant of history’. Among the book’s many insights, Wilson shows how Hitler had an intuitive sense which amounted to genius that the spoken word was going to be of more significance than the written word during the twentieth century. In this respect, the Führer is presented as a man ahead of his time, who foreshadowed Hollywood and TV stars and post-war politicians. In a field dense with lengthy tomes, this brief, penetrating portrait provides a compelling introduction to a man whose evil continues to fascinate and appall.” – (adapted from Globalbooksinprint.com summary)

Syndetics book coverFranklin and Eleanor : an extraordinary marriage / Hazel Rowley.
“Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelts marriage is one of the most celebrated and scrutinized partnerships in presidential history. It raised eyebrows in their lifetimes and has only become more controversial since their deaths. From FDRs lifelong romance with Lucy Mercer to Eleanors purported lesbianism and many scandals in between, the American public has never tired of speculating about the ties that bound these two headstrong individuals. Some claim that Eleanor sacrificed her personal happiness to accommodate FDRs needs; others claim that the marriage was nothing more than a gracious facade for political convenience. No one has told the full story until now. In this groundbreaking new account of the marriage, Hazel Rowley describes the remarkable courage and lack of convention – private and public – that kept FDR and Eleanor together.” – (adapted from Globalbooksinprint.com)

Syndetics book coverThe Naga queen : Ursula Graham Bower and her jungle warriors, 1939-45 / Vicky Thomas.
“In 1937, Ursula Bower visited Nagaland at the invitation of a friend, and on a dispensary tour encountered the Naga people. She was so taken was with their striking dignity, tribal pride and unique culture that she arranged to live among them to write an anthropological study. But she became more than an observer – living alone among them, Ursula was integrated into their village life, becoming their figurehead when in 1944 the Japanese invaded the jungles of Nagaland from Burma.” – (adapted from Globalbooksinprint.com summary)

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Travel stories & guides

From foodie haunts around Paris to opportunities for a volunteer vacation – there’s something for everyone in our picks of the new travel books. Examine social aspects of travel 100 years ago aboard the Titanic; follow one man’s journey around deep-fried, pound-shop, decidedly non-touristy destinations in Britain; explore East Africa; and read up on a night owl’s guide to the British Isles. Plus, New Zealander Marianne Elliott’s story of her U.N. work in Afghanistan. Have a browse!

Syndetics book coverZen under fire : a New Zealand woman’s story of love and war in Afghanistan / Marianne Elliott.
“…a vivid and deeply personal account of a young woman’s time living and working as a peacekeeper in one of the world’s most notorious battlegrounds. As well as sharing the incredible details of her UN work in and around Herat and the remote province of Ghor, Marianne tells of the shattering effects of this high-stress, high-danger environment on her and her relationships – and how, amid the turmoil, she begins to find her way back to herself.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSicily, it’s not quite Tuscany / Shamus Sillar.
“This is the story of an Aussie couple who sought a Mediterranean sea change only to find themselves in the sprawling Sicilian city of Catania – the ‘anti-Tuscany’ of Italy. … Shamus and Gill’s tiny apartment in Catania was located in a grim neighbourhood opposite a triple-X cinema and a shop selling coffins, nearby Mount Etna erupted soon after their arrival, a mystery ailment left Shamus in a neck brace, they crashed a Vespa and had regular dealings with at least one Mafioso. This, then, is an Italian sea change with grit. But it’s also a story of optimism, endurance and acceptance, an exploration of the minutiae of Sicilian culture, history, food and religion, and an example of how to find beauty – and humour – in the most unexpected of places.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTitanic lives : migrants and millionaires, conmen and crew / Richard Davenport-Hines.
In Titanic Lives, Richard Davenport-Hines brings to life in fascinating and absorbing detail the stories of the men who built and owned the ship, the crew who serviced her and the passengers of all classes who sailed on her. … In this epic, sweeping history we are introduced to this broad cast of characters, from every class and every continent, as we follow their lives on board the ship through to the supreme dramatic climax of the disaster itself. Published to coincide with the centenary of the sinking, Titanic Lives is an impeccably researched and utterly riveting history which re-creates the complexities, disparities and tensions of life one hundred years ago.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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History

We have some great new history books this month including a look at one man’s jouney through the New Zealand Wars; a history of Jewish lives in New Zealand; and the story of how a struggle between queens and kings, churchmen and explorers made the world’s oceans a battleground. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverJewish lives in New Zealand : a history / Leonard Bell and Diana Morrow, editors.
“The census tells us that 8000 New Zealanders actively identify as Jewish and it is estimated that the broader population is probably around 25,000. There has never been an authoritative history of this country’s Jewish population and yet people of Jewish descent (both secular and religious) have played vital roles in all aspects of our society throughout its history. Auckland alone has had five Jewish mayors. Jews have been prominent in New Zealand’s business, cultural, intellectual, political, medical, intellectual life and more since the 1840s, and successive waves of immigration have added to the tapestry of New Zealand Jewry. This significant book covers key sectors of activity with specialist writers assigned to each. Richly illustrated, it slots another important piece into the jigsaw of our history.” (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book coverThe first frontier : the forgotten history of struggle, savagery, and endurance in early America / Scott Weidensaul.
“Frontier: the word carries the inevitable scent of the West. But before Custer or Lewis and Clark, before the first Conestoga wagons rumbled across the Plains, it was the East that marked the frontier, the boundary between complex Native cultures and the first colonizing Europeans.
Here is the older, wilder, darker history of a time when the land between the Atlantic and the Appalachians was contested ground, when radically different societies adopted and adapted the ways of the other, while struggling for control of what all considered to be their land.”
“The First Frontier traces two and a half centuries of history through poignant, mostly unheralded personal stories, like that of a Harvard-educated Indian caught up in seventeenth-century civil warfare, a mixed-blood interpreter trying to straddle his white and Native heritage, and a Puritan woman wielding a scalping knife whose bloody deeds still resonate uneasily today. It is the first book in years to paint a sweeping picture of the Eastern frontier, combining vivid storytelling with the latest research to bring to life modern Americas tumultuous, uncertain beginnings.” (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book coverAutumn in the Heavenly Kingdom : China, the West, and the epic story of the Taiping Civil War / Stephen R. Platt.
“By the 1850s, China’s Qing dynasty had held power for over 200 years, with peasants more and more having to endure privation, starvation, and disease. Ordinary Chinese believed the Qing, who were ethnic Manchu, were ineffective against “foreign devils” and in the Opium Wars with Britain. Enter Hong Xiuquan, failed civil servant and a convert to Christianity who believed he was Jesus’s brother. He set off the immense and brutal civil war known as the Taiping Rebellion and established the breakaway state of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. Platt (history, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst), as his subtitle shows, prefers to call it a civil war, the most devastating in history, with over 20 million killed, with brutality on both sides. The rebels, the majority ethnic Han, had strength in their great discipline and fanaticism. They would take a city, then move to the countryside enlisting farmers to join the battle against ruling forces. The Qing ultimately crushed the rebellion with help from trading partners in the West. VERDICT Platt’s study of this era will be challenging for general audiences, but specialists and those seeking a serious study of the topic will appreciate it.” (Library Journal)

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New Zealand

This month’s recent picks showcases the variety of people who call New Zealand home, from Tāngata Whēnua to Irish immigrants to those of Jewish descent.

Syndetics book coverStones bones steam / Philip Andrews.
“Looks at Māori myths and landforms; power of ignimbrite eruptions; early geological exploration; past discoveries of moa, mosasaur and other fossils; the man who made artificial geysers; Rotorua’s great bores versus geysers controversy; and geology in verse” – (adapted from Back cover)

Syndetics book coverBog Irish Micks : the O’Brien family from Scariff : a family history / by Kath Woodley.
“Chronicles the families started by the five children of John O’Brien and Margaret Malone, all of whom left Scariff, Ireland for New Zealand between 1874 and 1883.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBishop Monrad in Aotearoa : Ditlev Gothard Monrad’s life and his legacy to New Zealand / edited by Ian Macfarlane ; [text edited by Robin Briggs].
“Monrad cam to Aotearoa New Zealand in 1866 and for almost most three years carried out the strenuous work of being a settler, clearing the land and establishing a farm in the Manawatū. In 1869 he returned to Denmark, but members of his family continued his pioneer work in New Zealand. Before he left , Monrad gave his treasured collection of prints of etchings and engravings by masters of European art to the government and people of New Zealand. This collection is help at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.” – (adapted from Back cover)

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People & Places eNewsletter for April

Welcome to this month’s People & Places eNewsletter, with our picks for the best in biography, travel, history and all things New Zealand.

Amongst the towering figures – Tolstoy, Kennedy and HRH Elizabeth II – this month’s biographies offer insights from lesser known yet no less fascinating folk. Mick Conefrey mixes advice with adventure through the exploits of female explorers; Charley Boorman continues his apparent desire to travel absolutely everywhere on a motorbike and we feature several accounts of life in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake.

Library News

Biography

As much as we might yearn to tidy Tolstoy up – cut that hair, trim that beard – it has to be recognised that he was one of the most significant writers of the nineteenth century and his influence is still very widely felt today. Rosamund Bartlett, who has also written a fine biography of Anton Chekhov, has done much to explain this difficult and quarrelsome man, to examine his life and analyse his work, although the book is not heavy on literary criticism. She sees the key to all these things in his quintessential ‘Russianness’. For something light-hearted and fun try “The confessions of a prep-school mommy-handler” by Wade Rouse. Only in America!!

Syndetics book coverForbidden lessons in a Kabul guesthouse : the true story of a woman who risked everything to bring hope to Afghanistan / Suraya Sadeed with Damien Lewis.
“Set amidst some of the most inhospitable conditions in war-torn, Taliban-seized Afghanistan, “Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse” is an adventure story with heart that tells Sadeed’s inspiring fight to bring aid, education, and peace training to Afghan citizens.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe castrato and his wife / Helen Berry.
“The tale of Giusto Ferdinando Tenducci, 18th century castrato, celebrity, and heart-throb, and his elopement and love affair with his teenage pupil Doroethea Maunsell, a story that opens up a new history of attitudes towards sex and celebrity in Georgian Britain, and explores questions about the meaning of marriage that resonate in our own time.” – (adapted from Globalbooksinprint.com summary)

Syndetics book coverConfessions of a prep school mommy handler : a memoir / Wade).Rouse.Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler: A Memoir
“David Sedaris meets “The Nanny Diaries” in this hilarious and deliciously catty chronicle of critically acclaimed author Rouse’s tenure as the mommy handler at one of the country’s top prep schools.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTolstoy : a Russian life / Rosamund Bartlett.
“Born into an aristocratic family, Tolstoy had spent his life rebelling not only against conventional ideas about literature and art but also against traditional education, family life, organized religion, and the state. In this exceptional biography, Bartlett delivers an eloquent portrait of the brilliant, maddening, and contrary man who has been discovered by a new generation of readers. 544 pp. 20,000 print.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOn Gold Mountain : the one-hundred-year odyssey of my Chinese-American family / Lisa See.
“This account of a Chinese family’s adventures in America over the course of a century offers a tapestry of immigrant life. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.” – (adapted from Publisher Weekly summary)

Syndetics book coverWhat the grown-ups were doing : an odyssey through 1950s suburbia / Michele Hanson.
“Michele Hanson grew up an ‘oddball tomboy disappointment’ in a Jewish family in Ruislip in the 1950s – a suburban, Metroland idyll of neat lawns, bridge parties and Martini socials. This hilarious and wonderfully evocative memoir charts Michele’s childhood and coming of age in a Britain that was emerging from post-war austerity.” – (adapted from Globalbooksinprint.com summary)

Syndetics book coverUnder the baobab tree : a memoir of two great loves / Jane Chidgey.
“From Melbourne career woman to ‘Lady of the Lodge’ in Africa … A heartwarming memoir about having the courage to follow love and change your life, no matter what your age.” – (Wellington City Libraries catalogue note)

Syndetics book coverCharlotte au chocolat : memories of a restaurant girlhood / Charlotte Silver.
“Like Eloise growing up in the Plaza Hotel, Charlotte Silver grew up in her mother’s restaurant. Located in Harvard Square, Upstairs at the Pudding was a confection of pink linen tablecloths and twinkling chandeliers, a decadent backdrop for childhood. Over dinners of foie gras and Dover sole, always served with a Shirley Temple, Charlotte kept company with a rotating cast of eccentric staff members. After dinner, in her frilly party dress, she often caught a nap under the bar until closing time. Her one constant was her glamorous, indomitable mother, nicknamed “Patton in Pumps,” a wasp-waisted woman in cocktail dress and stilettos who shouldered the burden of raising a family and running a kitchen. Charlotte’s unconventional upbringing takes its toll, and as she grows up she wishes her increasingly busy mother were more of a presence in her life.” – (adapted from Globalbooksinprint.com summary)

Travel stories & guides

In this month’s travel picks: Johnny West journeys through the Arab Spring, Charley Boorman explores the varied terrain of Canada on (what else?) a motorbike and Paul Carter bikes around Australia on used cooking oil. Plus, stories of life-changing trips and personal development, as well as an insight into the often-overlooked world of female explorers. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverHow to climb Mont Blanc in a skirt : a handbook for the lady adventurer / Mick Conefrey.
“Whether a seasoned adventurer or a want-away office worker, How to Climb Mont Blanc in a Skirt is an essential purchase. From using camel fat to improve your love-life to climbing Everest without oxygen, Mick Conefrey offers a vivid insight into the often-overlooked world of female explorers. Discover who dressed up as a Tibetan peasant to explore Asia and why you shouldn’t let a gorilla near your bedroom. Pairing inspiring stories of famous female explorers with hilarious tips on being an adventurer – such as what to do when attacked by a crocodile – this book is fascinating and entertaining in equal measure.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverDrink the bitter root : a search for justice and healing in Africa / Gary Geddes.
“Internationally acclaimed travel writer Geddes confesses a long fascination with Africa, deeply affected by literature such as Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and troubling news accounts of unrest, violence, and instability. At 68, he finally realized a youthful dream to experience Africa and offers a very personal first-person diary of his travels. He begins at the International Criminal Court in The Hague…” (Booklist)

Syndetics book coverHenna for the broken-hearted / Sharell Cook.
“How far would you go to change your life? Sharell Cook is 30 years old and living a privileged life in Melbourne’s wealthy suburbs. She has it all: the childhood-sweetheart husband, the high-powered job and plenty of cash to splash. And it is not destined to last” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverKarama! : journeys through the Arab spring / Johnny West.
“Johnny West has lived in this area for the past decade and speaks fluent Arabic… Travelling on public buses, visiting with families, hanging out in shops and cafes, he brings out for all of us what made ordinary people erupt, what happened to them during those days and now, what their hopes, fears and dreams are, how they see us in the West, how each country is different but how they see themselves as part of a joint Arab culture, before Islamists.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLoves, kerbsides and goodbyes : a backpacker’s road / David McNamara.
“Kerbsides are backpackers’ theatres to meet, re-connect, share their lives, fall in love, say goodbye. They are their platforms to perform – strumming outside China tea houses to crowds venerating them like rock stars, gathering an international troubadour on Kuala Lumpur sidewalks to busk for drinks, or outside a 7-11 on that ultimate backpacker kerbside Kaoh San Road, Bangkok. Kerbsides are where backpackers manifest uncomplicated love – treating every day as a minute and a lifetime. It may be a farewell, but it’s no big thing. There’s no lost luggage, cancellations, reservation errors, bad wine or slighted courtesies – just toting backpack, camera and guitar.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverExtreme frontiers : racing across Canada from Newfoundland to the Rockies / Charley Boorman with Jeff Gulvin.
“Travelling mainly on his much-loved bike, Charley will explore the world’s second largest country – home to some of the most stunning and challenging terrain known to man. Along the way he will work with Alberta’s famous ‘Bear Whisperer’; travel with Native Canadians and learn more about their mythology and shamanic rituals; get involved in the world famous National Lumberjack competition; work with the Mounties search and rescue team and visit the world’s smallest jail in Ontario…. EXTREME FRONTIERS is vintage Boorman, packed with all the excitement, adventure – and bikes! – of his previous bestselling books.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIs that bike diesel, mate? : one man, one bike and the first lap around Australia on used cooking oil / Paul Carter.
“Green fuel, white knuckles: Paul Carter is forty years old, a successful writer, husband and father, no longer toiling on offshore drilling rigs….want(s)… to be the first guy to ride around Australia on an underpowered experimental motorcycle that runs on used chip fat…. starts on an environmentally friendly motorcycle built on a shoestring budget by students, and ends with a mad-cap plan to break the world land speed record for a biofuel-powered motorbike.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverThis, please : the tourist picture dictionary.
“Language guide, with a twist ; this is a fully illustrated tool for getting what you want in a country where you don’t speak the language. Whether traveling for pleasure or on a business trip, we have all experienced the frustration of being unable to communicate our needs. This incredibly useful little book takes the hassle out of not being able to “speak the language.” Covering all manner of potential scenarios and questions: Does the hotel have a gym? Where can one rent a bike? Is there a pharmacy nearby? You name it, there’s a clear image of it in here.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBali & Lombok / [contributors, Andy Barsky … [et al.]].DK Eyewitness Bali & Lombok travel guide will lead you straight to the best attractions these beautiful islands have on offer. Packed with photographs, illustrations and clear maps the guide explores these Indonesian islands in detail; from the noisy, colorful and glamorous bustle of Bali to the quiet and tranquil retreats of Lombok. The guide provides all the insider tips every visitor needs including the best beaches, volcanoes diving and snorkeling destinations and comprehensive listings of the best places to stay in Bali and Lombok from hotels and spa resorts to local homestays.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA walk in old Sydney / Michael Tatlow.
“Take a trip back in time to the origins of Old Sydney, as author Mike Tatlow takes you on a fascinating journey to the colonial heart of one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Spend an afternoon, a day or more as you discover the history of Sydney, and the characters who made it the city it is today. From the First Fleet, to the hardship and triumphs of convict life and the men of vision including Arthur Phillip and Lachlan Macquarie, A WALK IN OLD SYDNEY is the ultimate tourist guide to a bygone but remarkable era.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIreland / Fionn Davenport … [et al.].
“A small country with a big reputation, helped along by a timeless, age-caressed landscape and a fascinating, friendly people, whose lyrical nature is expressed in the warmth of their welcome. Fionn Davenport, Lonely Planet Writer. Our Promise: You can trust our travel information because Lonely Planet authors visit the places we write about, each and every edition.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEurope by Eurail 2012 : touring Europe by train / written by LaVerne Ferguson-Kosinski ; edited by C. Darren Price ; rail schedules by C. Darren Price.Europe by Eurail has been the train traveler’s one-stop source for visiting Europe’s cities and countries by rail for more than thirty-five years. This comprehensive guide, newly revised and updated, provides the latest information on fares, schedules, and pass options, as well as detailed information on more than ninety specific rail excursions. Trips start from one of twenty-six base cities on the Continent––including Vienna, Nice, and Milan––and contain all the details necessary to visit historic cities, romantic villages, and scenic hamlets.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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History

Our picks of the new history books this month includes a beautiful book describing the first encounters Māori had with paper and writing, and the first relationships between Māori and Europeans in the earliest school. Letters to the editor from William Colenso, suggested by some to be an early version of “blogging”. Conspiracy theorists will love the new JFK assination take in “LBJ: the mastermind if the JFK assassination”. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverWords between us : first Māori-Pākehā conversations on paper = He Kōrero / Alison Jones and Kuni Jenkins.
This book traces Māori engagement with handwriting from 1769 to 1826. Through beautifully reproduced written documents, it describes the first encounters Māori had with paper and writing and the first relationships between Māori and Europeans in the earliest school. The book tells an image-led story about the earliest relationships between Māori and Pākehā based around the written word and sheds light on a larger story of the first attempts of Māori and Europeans to live together in the early 1800s and the negotiation of the relationship through writing.

Syndetics book coverGrey’s folly : a history of Howick, Pakuranga, Bucklands-Eastern Beaches, East Tamaki, Whitford, Beachlands and Maraetai / Alan La Roche.
“This is a social, economic and political history written for all residents, students, schools and those interested in this particularly historically attractive part of New Zealand. It includes a full history of Maori, the missionaries, settlers, Fencibles, farmers and the development of our strong local communities persevering through wars, droughts and recent growth welcoming new arrivals to share our heritage.” – (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book coverThe great divide : history and human nature in the old world and the new / Peter Watson.
“Jared Diamond’s 1999 international bestseller GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL sought to explain the rise of the West; why it was that the ‘Old World’ civilizations reached the point at which they could discover and conquer those of the ‘New World’. Peter Watson develops this a great deal further. For 15,000 years mankind existed on both hemispheres of the planet but with no contact between them. Radically different civilizations produced startlingly different mindsets and cultures. One would wipe out the other in within a generation of first contact. THE GREAT DIVIDE will be the first book to reveal just what was lost in the clash of civilizations that ended thousands of years of separate development. In IDEAS, Peter Watson demonstrated an impressive mastery of every historical discipline. Now he will bring his ability to tell a complex big story in an accessible way to explain how the very different conditions of the Americas affected human civilization, religion, agriculture, technology and above all, thought. Contrasting these strands with the history of the ‘Old World’ is a radical new way to examine the political and intellectual history of mankind.” – (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book coverGive your thoughts life : William Colenso’s letters to the editor / compiled by Ian St George.
“‘…you have the Press, both open and free: use it. Give your thoughts life; let all good measures be brought forward, discussed, and well ventilated.’ – William Colenso, writing to the Hawkes Bay Herald in 1859. The provincial newspaper columns were the ‘public spheres’ of their time, places for geographically separated individuals to contribute opinions to the debates of an immature democracy. But equally they were the vehicles for the passionately held views of bigots egged on by unscrupulous editors eager for exciting copy. These letters from Colenso, and their replies, show colonial politics to be argumentative, fervent and nasty – and the rants of opinionated, self-styled experts are thrilling in their vehemence.” – (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book coverLBJ : the mastermind of the JFK assassination / Phillip F. Nelson.
“Nelson is not the first to suggest that Lyndon Johnson masterminded JFK’s murder. Readers of Barr McClellan’s Blood, Money & Power (2003) will note that Nelson goes over much of the same ground, casting LBJ as a ruthless, manipulative power-seeker who, in order to avoid being dropped from the reelection ticket (and to avoid the inevitable scandal from past indiscretions), decided his only option was to have the president killed. But Nelson’s boundless enthusiasm, not to mention his (mostly) consistent theory of how it all was arranged and then covered up, should sell the book to conspiracy mavens. Keen-eyed readers will notice that the author’s argument ultimately rests on a simple assertion: LBJ was the only person who could possibly arrange JFK’s assassination, so therefore. axiomatically. he did it. If you buy that, the rest of the author’s arguments flow (mostly) logically; if you don’t, well, the book is still a fascinating read, full of some very clever creative thinking. On the conspiracy-theory plausibility scale, where 1 is crackpot nonsense and 10 is rigorous and persuasive, this one is close to a 7: Nelson definitely hasn’t proven LBJ’s guilt, but he’s built an intriguing and thought-provoking case.” – (Booklist)

Syndetics book coverSurnames, DNA, and family history / George Redmonds, Turi King, and David Hey.
“This book combines linguistic and historical approaches with the latest techniques of DNA analysis and show the insights these offer for every kind of genealogical research. It focuses on British names, tracing their origins to different parts of the British Isles and Europe and revealing how names often remain concentrated in the districts where they first became established centuries ago. In the process the book casts fresh light on the ancient peopling of the British Isles. The authors consider why some names die out, and how others have spread across the globe. They use recent advances in DNA testing to discover whether particular surnames have a single, dual or multiple origins and whether various forms of a name have a common origin. They show how information from DNA canbe combined with historical evidence and techniques to distinguish between individuals with the same name and different names with similar spellings and to identify the name of the same individual or family spelt in various ways in different times and places. Clearly written and illustrated with hundreds of examples, this book will be welcomed by all those engaged in genealogical research, including everyone seeking to discover the histories of their names and families.” (Global Books In Print)

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New Zealand

With the one year anniversary of the devastating Christchurch earthquake recently remembered, our picks of the recent New Zealand books this month include a number of new books on Christchurch – including a beautiful artist’s tribute to the buildings of Christchurch, stories of people trapped during the earthquake, and books that tell of the ordeal of living in the city and dealing with the aftermath of the quake. (Also included -the revised and updated New Zealand Small Business Book.)

Syndetics book coverChristchurch : an artists’ tribute / compiled by Denis Robinson.
“Denis Robinson has compiled a moving tribute to Christchurch with a collection of paintings of the city as it was before the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Many artists returned to old sketchbooks, to discover drawings still waiting to be painted, and these new artworks sit alongside paintings completed in earlier days and others sourced especially for inclusion in this book. With a foreword from Mayor Bob Parker, this is a book that will be treasured by Cantabrians and visitors to Christchurch alike.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverShaken, not stirred : family survival in a quake zone / Amanda Cropp.
“Imagine sharing a portable toilet with your neighbours for months on end, showering in a shipping container in the fire station car park, or travelling for three hours a day on six different buses to get to and from school. Such was life in post-quake Christchurch for Amanda Cropp and her family. Quake damaged roads make travel a nightmare. Yet despite all this, life carries on. The quakes have reinforced the importance of family and friends, and a sense of humour is indispensable. This book will make you laugh and cry. It is funny, provocative and poignant, and shows that living in a disaster zone brings communities together, that people do indeed step up and look after one another. This is a story about the resilience of a community suddenly struggling with the simplest of daily chores in a time of crisis.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTrapped : remarkable stories of survival from the 2011 Canterbury earthquake / Martin van Beynen ; foreword by Bob Parker.
“The Canterbury earthquake of February 2011 altered landscape, history, and most importantly, human lives. Many perished and the lives of thousands were upended. In Trapped, Martin van Beynen documents with sensitivity and unerring detail the personal experiences of more than thirty quake survivors – before, during and after the event – in their own words.At once poignant, dramatic and enthralling, their stories record a defining moment in Canterbury’s history and testify to the courage and heroism of everyday people.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Magnitude 7.1 & 6.3 : the people of Christchurch, Canterbury & beyond tell their stories / [compiled by Debbie Roome].
“This book is a compilation of stories from people directly affected by the impact of the earthquakes in Christchurch. They reflect the incredible resiliance the people of Canterbury have shown throughout this devastating time. Some of the stories are poignant, some humorous, some shocking and some sad. All of them are from the heart and deserve to be heard.” (Adapted from back cover)

Syndetics book coverThe small business book : a New Zealand guide for the 21st century / Leith Oliver, John English.
“Completely revised and updated edition of the bestselling guide to starting, managing, and expanding a small business in New Zealand. The Small Business Book is the bestselling, hands-on guide to running your own business in New Zealand. This new edition is up-to-date, easy to understand and simple to use. New ventures are being launched in greater numbers than ever before, and the prospects for success offer hope and a sense of fulfilment to New Zealanders who want to be self-employed. The Small Business Book has been written to help you get into business, successfully stay in business and make a good living from being in business.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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People & Places eNewsletter for March

In this month’s People & Places we start off with a celebration of the life and work of Stephen Hawking. The darker side of history is explored in “Who Killed Walter Raleigh” and “The Great Big Book of Horrible Things”,  while we finish with a mix of New Zealand biography, photography and travel.

Library News

Biography

It’s mostly men this month – biographies included are about the great and famous Napoleon, the most renowned scientist of our time,Stephen Hawking, the beloved creator of the Jeeves novels, P.G. Wodehouse and the refreshingly different mayor of London, Boris Johnson. David Hockney needs no introduction – this new study of his life an work has been widely praised. Brian Sewell the noted British art critic and media personality, is less well-known here, but has an interesting tale to tell.

Syndetics book coverStephen Hawking : his life and work : the story and science of one of the most extraordinary, celebrated, and courageous figures of our time / Kitty Ferguson.
“This is the story of one of the most remarkable figures of our time – Professor Stephen Hawking, the Cambridge genius who has earned an international reputation as the most brilliant theoretical physicist since Einstein. This is not quite a biography; it is more the story of one man’s quest to find the ‘Theory of Everything’. Stephen Hawking’s life and work have produced a multitude of amazing paradoxes: beginnings may be endings, two great scientific theories taken together may seem to give us nonsense, empty space isn’t empty, and black holes aren’t black. Cruel circumstances can lead to happiness, and fame and success may not. A man whose appearance inspires shock and pity takes us to where the boundaries of space and time ought to be – but are not.”(Abridged summary from globalbooksinprint.com).

Syndetics book coverHockney : the biography. Volume 1, 1937-1975 / “Christopher Simon Sykes.
“In this astounding first volume of his authorised biography Christopher Sykes explores the fascinating world of the most popular living artist in the world today. David Hockney’s career has spanned and epitomised the art movements of the last five decades; His story is one of precocious achievement at Bradford Art College, the Swinging 60s in London where he befriended many of the iconic cultural figures of the generation, to California and the cool of the swimming pool series of paintings, through the acclaimed set designs for countless operas around the world and major retrospective exhibitions.”(Wellington City Libraries catalogue note).

Syndetics book coverCatherine the Great : portrait of a woman / Robert K. Massie.
“Massie returns with another masterpiece of narrative biography–the extraordinary story of an obscure young German princess who traveled to Russia at 14 and rose to become one of the most remarkable, powerful, and captivating women in history. History offers few stories richer in drama than that of Catherine the Great. In this book, this eternally fascinating woman is returned to life.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJust Boris : the irresistible rise of a political celebrity / Sonia Purnell.
“A major and controversial new biography of one of the most compelling and contradictory figures in modern British life.Born Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, to most of us he is just ‘Boris’ – the only politician of the age to be regarded in such familiar, even affectionate terms. Uniquely, he combines comedy with erudition, gimlet-eyed focus with jokey self-deprecation, and is a loving family man with a roving eye. He is also a hugely ambitious figure with seemingly no huge ambitions to pursue – other than, perhaps, power itself. In this revealing biography, written from the vantage point of a once close colleague, Sonia Purnell examines how a shy, young boy from a broken home became our only box-office politician – and most unlikely sex god.”(Abridged summary from globalbooksinprint.com)

Syndetics book coverNapoleon / Alan Forrest.
“On a cold December day in 1840 Parisians turned out in force to watch as the body of Napoleon was solemnly carried on a riverboat from Courbevoie on its final journey to the Invalides. The return of their long-dead Emperor’s corpse from the Island of St Helena was a moment that Paris had eagerly awaited, though many feared that the memories stirred would serve to further destabilize a country that had struggled for order and direction since he had been sent into exile. In this book, Alan Forrest, tells the remarkable story of how the son of a Corsican attorney became the most powerful man in Europe, a man whose charisma and legacy endured after his lonely death many thousands of miles from the country whose fate had become so entwined with his own.”(Abridged summary from globalbooksinprint.com).

Syndetics book coverThe secret life of Barack Hussein Obama / Mondo Frazier.
“Mondo Frazier divulges the little-known details of Obama’s past that the public is dying to know in The Secret Life of Barack Hussein Obama.“(Summary from globalbooksimprint.com).

Syndetics book coverA life in letters / P.G. Wodehouse ; edited by Sophie Ratcliffe.
“This is the definitive edition of PG Wodehouse’s letters, edited with a commentary by Oxford academic Sophie Ratcliffe. The funniest and most-adored writer of the 20th century, PG Wodehouse always shied away from the idea of a biography – a retiring sort of chap, it was through the written word that he expressed himself. Includes previously unpublished correspondence, such as that relating to the infamous pro-Nazi propaganda”(Wellington City libraries catalogue note).

Syndetics book coverThe perfect Nazi : uncovering my grandfather’s secret past / Martin Davidson.
“Using the skills he honed as a documentary producer for the BBC, Davidson explores the truth behind his family’s dark secret–his grandfather was a Nazi SS officer.” (Syndetics summary)

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History

In this month’s pick on new history books you’ll find ‘The Twitter Year’, a look at 2011 through the medium of social media. Ever wondered where your name comes from and how it relates to your family history? Take a peek at ‘Surnames, DNA, and Family History’. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverThe Twitter year : 365 days in 140 characters / compiled by Kate Bussmann.
“The first ever social-media almanac presents 12 months as witnessed by the 100-million-strong tweeting community. It captures a dramatic year in news, culture and sport, from the death of Osama Bin laden to the Royal Wedding – all told through tweets, graphics and fascinating facts. Distilling from the 230 million tweets that are now sent each day, this is history through a lens.” (Library Catalogue)
In the year the social network celebrates its 5th birthday, Twitter continues to grow at an incredible rate. There are now over 200 million accounts across the world, including Lady Gaga, the British monarchy, Lord Voldemort and a lot of pets. A Twitter Year gathers some of the funniest and sharpest tweets to bring you a unique celebration of the way we talk now. (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book coverSurnames, DNA, and family history / George Redmonds, Turi King, and David Hey.
“This book combines linguistic and historical approaches with the latest techniques of DNA analysis and show the insights these offer for every kind of genealogical research. It focuses on British names, tracing their origins to different parts of the British Isles and Europe and revealing how names often remain concentrated in the districts where they first became established centuries ago. In the process the book casts fresh light on the ancient peopling of the British Isles. The authors consider why some names die out, and how others have spread across the globe. They use recent advances in DNA testing to discover whether particular surnames have a single, dual or multiple origins and whether various forms of a name have a common origin. They show how information from DNA canbe combined with historical evidence and techniques to distinguish between individuals with the same name and different names with similar spellings and to identify the name of the same individual or family spelt in various ways in different times and places. Clearly written and illustrated with hundreds of examples, this book will be welcomed by all those engaged in genealogical research, including everyone seeking to discover the histories of their names and families.” (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book coverWho killed Sir Walter Ralegh? / Richard Dale.
“For 400 years, the true story behind the fall of Sir Walter Ralegh, his conviction for high treason and his eventual beheading has been shrouded in mystery. Was he deliberately set up by the brilliant but untrustworthy Sir Robert Cecil? Why did his friend Lord Cobham denounce him at his trial? And how could this towering figure of the Elizabethan age be accused of conspiring with his old enemy Spain to overthrow the king and his government? This book draws on the author’s legal background to unravel the extraordinary plots and intrigues that marked the last weeks of Elizabeth’s reign and the first months of James’s succession. In the bitter struggle for position, wealth, and royal favor, only the most ruthless and devious could hope to win, and it was the dwarfish, hunch-backed Cecil who eventually prevailed over the swashbuckling Ralegh. But in the eyes of posterity, who was the real victor?” (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book coverThe great big book of horrible things : the definitive chronicle of history’s 100 worst atrocities / Matthew White.
“The subtitle might be a little grandiose (can one writer’s opinions be definitive?), but the book is undeniably compelling. The author, an expert in atrocitology (a useful word he appears to have made up), has put together a serious and seriously interesting collection of events that have resulted in massive loss of human life. From Alexander the Great to the collapse of the Mayan Empire to the Crusades to the Napoleonic Wars to WWII to Saddam Hussein to the genocide in Rwanda, the author takes readers on a lively, opinionated, fact-filled trip through the violent history of humankind. White makes sure to give us all the important facts (death toll, time frame, historical context, etc.), but he also provides some entertaining commentary (History likes the Third Crusade. This was the classy crusade, where wise and virtuous kings hacked each other apart with honor and style). For students, the book is a very useful and informative supplement to history texts. For the general reader, it’s a very good way to browse the dark side of human history.” (Booklist)

Syndetics book coverThe Borgia chronicles / Mary Hollingsworth.
“The Borgia family of Renaissance Italy has become a byword for pride, lust, cruelty, avarice, splendour and venomous intrigue. They have inspired abomination and fascination in almost equal measure, comparable to the Corleone clan depicted in Mario Puzo’s novel The Godfather. Indeed, Puzo himself featured the Borgias in his last novel, The Family, and the Borgias have inspired many other works of fiction together with plays, films, and even an opera – Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia. Of Spanish origin, the Borgias came to prominence in the Italy of the 15th century, at a time when the spiritual values of the medieval Church were being swept aside by the worldly secularism of the Renaissance. They also became notorious for licentiousness, venality and indeed all forms of immorality, while at the same time their patronage of the arts helped to bring about some of the greatest artistic masterpieces of the Renaissance.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverGhost on the throne : the death of Alexander the Great and the war for crown and empire / James Romm.
“In this fast-paced and absorbing account, Bard College classics professor Romm chronicles the political intrigues and military conflicts of the half-dozen generals who struggled for power after Alexander the Great’s death in 323 B.C.E. The goal for each was control over an empire stretching from the Danube to the Indus. Because Alexander left no will or obvious successor, his seven closest friends – the Bodyguards – fought not only to preserve Alexander’s Macedonian empire but also among themselves to mark out territory to rule. Drawing deeply on sources such as Plutarch’s Lives and the anonymous The Lives of the Ten Orators, Romm brings to life the Bodyguards and their struggles to maintain their territories.” (Publishers Weekly)

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New Zealand

Syndetics book coverJourney to Oxford / John Mulgan ; edited by Peter Whiteford. “The ship was now drawing away from the land and pointing out across the round curve of the Pacific, behind us the last of the Gulf islands with the sun shining on its high bush hills and steep cliffs, beyond that again the blue line of the land, well down in the sea. I knew that last island and had sailed round it on a still summer day, a wild fearful place with a toll of two shipwrecks, and the break of seas on it day after day. It had been very warm and peaceful then, and the sail had hardly moved with the wind, and now it all looked very wonderful and beautiful. There are few people that have seen this country that do not want to look on it again.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA controversial churchman : essays on George Selwyn, Bishop of New Zealand and Lichfield, and Sarah Selwyn / edited by Allan Davidson.
“New Zealand’s first Anglican bishop, George Selwyn, was a towering figure in the young colony. Denounced as a ‘turbulent priest’ for speaking out against Crown practices that dispossessed Māori, he brought a vigorous approach to episcopal leadership. These essays offer new insights into Selwyn’s role in developing pan-Anglicanism, strengthening links between the Church of England and the Episcopal and Anglican Churches in North America, and his time as Bishop of Lichfield (1868–78). His place in Treaty history, as a political commentator and a valuable source of historical information, is recognised. George Selwyn left a large imprint on New Zealand church and society. This collection both honours and critiques a controversial bishop.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEarly New Zealand photography : images and essays / edited by Angela Wanhalla and Erika Wolf.“We are all participants in an increasingly visual culture, yet we rarely give thought to the ways that photographs shape our experience and understanding of the world and historical past. This book looks at a range of New Zealand photographs up to 1918 and analyses them as photo-objects, considering how they were made, who made them, what they show and how our understanding of them can vary or change over time. In the course of the book, they explore a host of issues related to the development of photography in New Zealand. World War I is the end point, as it coincided with profound cultural shifts with the expansion of the mass illustrated press and the rise of consumer photography, as well as a change in New Zealand’s place in the world.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStrong, beautiful and modern : national fitness in Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, 1935-1960 / Charlotte Macdonald.
“In the late 1930s and early 1940s, a wave of state-sponsored ‘national fitness’ programmes swept Britain and its former colonies. Following revelations of the Nazi enthusiasm for government-backed sports and the organisation of mass leisure, the programmes quickly foundered. They probably laid, however, the foundations for the twentieth century’s obsession with fitness – a key facet of modern life. Drawing on extensive research, and written in vivid, lively prose, STRONG, BEAUTIFUL AND MODERN is an historical investigation into the way that people and their governments think about their health and well-being, and how those historical views have shaped our modern life.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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)

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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

Biography

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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History

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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People and Places Newsletter for November

Summer has arrived, or at the very least is peeking through the clouds on occasion. With this burst of fine weather comes the promise of the holiday season and some relaxed reading. Take some inspiration from the best of November’s People & Places picks.

Biography

Lives told through novels, houses and adventures. This month’s new biographies offer insight into a wide array of remarkable people.

Syndetics book coverAll in one basket : nest eggs / Deborah Devonshire.
“Entertaining, instructive, thought-provoking and hilarious, the unmistakeable voice of Deborah Devonshire rings out of this volume which combines her two collections of ‘occasional’ writings – Home to Roost and Counting My Chickens. The pieces are broad and eclectic in their subjects, ranging from treasures unearthed while the kitchen was being redecorated, musings about the reason for the reworded town sign, tourism at Chatsworth, a ringside view of both John F. Kennedy’s inauguration and funeral, and the value of deportment. No matter what she’s writing about she is always affectionate, shrewd and uproariously funny.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk description)

Syndetics book coverBligh : master mariner / Rob Mundle.
“It is the eighteenth century, the era when brave mariners took their ships beyond the horizon in search of an unknown world. Those chosen to lead these expeditions were exceptional navigators, men who had shown brilliance as they ascended the ranks in the Royal Navy. They were also bloody good sailors. There’s a lot more to the story of the infamous Captain Bligh than mutiny, rum and convicts – it is also the untold story of one of our greatest sailors.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVirginia Woolf / Alexandra Harris.
“Alexandra Harris’s hugely acclaimed book Romantic Moderns (winner of the 2010 Guardian First Book Award) overturned our picture of modernist culture during the interwar years. In this, her second book, she brings her attention to one of the towering figures of literary modernism. It is an intensely pleasurable read that weaves together the life and work of Virginia Woolf, and serves as an ideal introduction to both. Following the chronology of Woolfs life, it considers each of the novels in context, gives due prominence to her dazzlingly inventive essays, traces the contentious course of her afterlife and shows why, seventy years after her death,Virginia Woolf continues to haunt and inspire us.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk description)

Syndetics book coverBlue nights / by Joan Didion.“From one of our most powerful writers, a work of stunning frankness about losing a daughter. Richly textured with bits of her own childhood and married life with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, and daughter, Quintana Roo, this new book by Joan Didion examines her thoughts, fears, and doubts regarding having children, illness, and growing old. Blue Nights opens on July 26, 2010, as Didion thinks back to Quintana’s wedding in New York seven years before. Today would be her wedding anniversary. This fact triggers vivid snapshots of Quintana’s childhood — in Malibu, in Brentwood, at school in Holmby Hills. Reflecting on her daughter but also on her role as a parent, Didion asks the candid questions any parent might about how she feels she failed either because cues were not taken or perhaps displaced. ‘How could I have missed what was clearly there to be seen?’ Finally, perhaps we all remain unknown to each other. Blue Nights — the long, light evening hours that signal the summer solstice, ‘the opposite of the dying of the brightness, but also its warning’ — like The Year of Magical Thinking before it, is an iconic book of incisive and electric honesty.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk desription)

Syndetics book coverLemon sherbet and dolly blue : the story of an accidental family / Lynn Knight.
“150 Station Road, Wheeldon Mill – a short stride across the Chesterfield Canal in the heart of Derbyshire – was home to the Nash family and their corner shop, which served a small mining community with everything from Brasso and Dolly Blue, to cheap dress rings and bright sugary sweets. But just as this was no ordinary home, theirs was no ordinary family. Lynn Knight tells the remarkable story of the three adoptions within it: of her great-grandfather, a fairground boy, given away when his parents left for America in 1865; of her great-aunt, rescued from an Industrial School in 1909, and of her mother, adopted as a baby in 1930, and brought to Chesterfield from London. Full of light, life and colour, spanning three generations and two world wars, this memoir weaves a rich portrait of a community and of family love and loyalty regardless of blood ties.” – (adapted from Amazon.uk description)

Syndetics book coverDiamond Queen : Elizabeth II and her people / Andrew Marr.
“With the flair for narrative and the meticulous research that readers have come to expect, Andrew Marr turns his attention to the monarch – and to the monarchy, chronicling the Queen’s pivotal role at the centre of the state, which is largely hidden from the public gaze, and making a strong case for the institution itself. Arranged thematically, rather than chronologically, Marr dissects the Queen’s political relationships, crucially those with her Prime Ministers; he examines her role as Head of the Commonwealth, and her deep commitment to that Commonwealth of nations; he looks at the drastic changes in the media since her accession in 1952 and how the monarchy – and the monarch – have had to change and adapt as a result. Indeed he argues that under her watchful eye, the monarchy has been thoroughly modernized and made as fit for purpose in the twenty-first century as it was when she came to the throne and a ‘new Elizabethan age’ was ushered in.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk description)

Syndetics book coverThe address book : a memoir about my homes (all 32 of them) / Jane Clifton.
“Where do you call home?Performer Jane Clifton had a classic army brat upbringing, constantly on the move as the family followed the postings of her English officer father from Gibraltar to England, Germany to Malaysia and eventually to Australia. Always the new kid in town, Jane became adept at fitting in anywhere. As an adult, living in the fast-moving worlds of anti-war demos, women’s lib, experimental theatre, rock ‘n’ roll, and TV, she kept up the family tradition of changing addresses without so much as a backward glance. But her stiff-upper-lipped father and glamorous, restless mother both died tragically young, and Jane was left with many unanswered questions. Where exactly is home? is it your family? Your memories? Or simply bricks and mortar? One day, Jane decided to go back and visit every house she’d lived in all 32 of them to see if she could piece together the jigsaw of her life. A funny, moving and unexpected story about one woman’s search for home, And The universal desire to find the place you truly belong.” – (adapted from Publisher’s description)

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Travel stories & guides

In our picks of the new travel books this month: the wide blue skies of the Otago Trail, a book from National Geographic’s ‘Adventurer in Residence’ Steve Backshall (wherein he tries to answer the question in the title of this post), and a look back at how it all started with a book that treats with the first ever Lonely Planet guidebook. Have a browse!

Syndetics book coverTell them to get lost : travels with the Lonely Planet guidebook that started it all / Brian Thacker.
When Tony Wheeler wrote Lonely Planet’s first ever guidebook in 1974, Southeast Asia offered ‘cheap and interesting travel without the constantly oppressing misery of some of the less fortunate parts of Asia’. Certain ‘hotspots’ in the region attracted the ‘tourist crowds,’ but there were many ‘untouched places that only the people who are willing to put in a little effort and withstand some discomfort will really appreciate.’ So how much has Southeast Asia changed since Tony ambled around the region in flared pants?” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMachu my Picchu : searching for sex, sanity, and a soul mate in South America / Iris Bahr ; [maps by Piper Verlag].
“…Feeling more alienated than ever, Iris decides to embark on another backpacking adventure, this time through Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. Between love affairs with locals, clashes with travel companions, and near-death experiences, Iris discovers her ability to feel lost no matter where she goes. But through her struggle to find that elusive combination of healthy love, great sex, and peace of mind, she finally learns to embrace the joys of the search. The zany humor of Amy Sedaris meets the neurotic self-awareness of Woody Allen in this invigorating mix of hair-raising adventure, poignant reflection, and bawdy humor – it’s one hell of a wild ride.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTrail : [riding the Otago Central rail trail] / Paul Sorrell & Graham Warman.
“For the many thousands who have walked or ridden the Otago Central Rail Trail it holds particular, cherished memories. Some impressions will stick for a lifetime: bouncing over bone-rattling bridges, or sailing through sheer-sided canyons of schist. Or simply barrelling along, mile after mile, with the gravel crunching beneath your tyres under endless wide blue skies. In this vivid, beautifully drawn account, author Paul Sorrell and photographer Graham Warman take you on a 150-kilometre journey across the Otago Central Rail Trail, deep into the heart of the South Island’s spectacular interior.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLooking for adventure / Steve Backshall.
“How do you become an explorer? It’s a question every child has asked. And Steve Backshall was no different. But after a rainy-day visit to an exhibition of artefacts from Papua New Guinea, it was a question that began to obsess the seven-year old Backshall. But surely he’d been born a century too late? And yet through boundless enthusiasm, determination and a refusal to accept defeat. Backshall was soon carrying business cards from National Geographic describing him as their ‘Adventurer in Residence’. The vast, untamed wildness of Papua New Guinea was where Backshall forged his unlikely path.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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History

In our picks of the new history books this month: narratives that reveal the real Downton Abbey, the lives of the invisible Romans (the Romans that history forgot), and real stories about pirates of the Caribbean. Plus, the story of the rediscovery of the manuscript of Lucretius and its place in the cultural movement of the Renaissance. Have a browse!

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)

Syndetics book coverSpanish Gold : Captain Woodes Rogers and the pirates of the caribbean / David Cordingly.
“Stories of individual pirates in the Caribbean, from Blackbeard to Calico Jack, have been the stuff of legend since the eighteenth century, but in Spanish Gold pirate expert David Cordingly at last gives us the big picture in all its bold and ruthless truth.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe swerve : how the Renaissance began / Stephen Greenblatt.
“Nearly six hundred years ago, a short, genial, cannily alert man in his late 30s took a very old manuscript off a library shelf, saw with excitement what he had discovered, and ordered that it be copied. The book was the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic. This title tells the story of this discovery.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverInvisible Romans : prostitutes, outlaws, slaves, gladiators, ordinary men and woman … the Romans that history forgot / Robert Knapp.
“Knapp finds traces of the invisible Romans in the nooks and crannies of history; he tracks down and pieces together tell-tale bits of evidence cast aside by the visible mass of Roman history and in doing so he recreates a world lost from view for two millennia. He shows how the invisible Romans sought to survive and control their fates under powers that sometimes controlled and sometimes ignored them and before the afflictions of disease, war and violence that could at any time assail them. Devoting a chapter to each of the main groups he reveals the ways in which their worlds are linked in need, dependence, exploitation, hope and fear. Slaves and ex-soldiers seep into the world of the outlaw; slaves become freed men; the sons of freed men enlist as soldiers; and the concerns of women transcend every boundary. We see them all at last in the seething tumult of a great city that shapes their worlds as it reshapes the wider world around them.” (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book coverIf Rome hadn’t fallen : what might have happened if the Western Empire had survived / Timothy Venning.
“This is a fascinating exploration of how the history of Europe, and indeed the world, might have been different if the Western Roman Empire had survived the crises that pulled it apart in the 4th and 5th centuries. Dr Timothy Venning starts by showing how that survival and recovery might plausibly have happened if several relatively minor things had been different. He then moves on to discuss a series of scenarios which might have altered the course of subsequent history dramatically. Would the survival of a strong Western Empire have assisted the Eastern (Byzantine) Empire in halting the expansion of Islam in the Middle East and North Africa? How would the Western Roman Empire have handled the Viking threat? Could they even have exploited the Viking discovery of America and established successful colonies there? While necessarily speculative, all the scenarios are discussed within the framework of a deep understanding of the major driving forces, tensions and trends that shaped European history and help to shed light upon them. In so doing they help the reader to understand why things panned out as they did, as well as what might have been.” (Global Books In Print)

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New Zealand

This months recent picks celebrate the iconic NZ cartoon Footrot Flats. There are also some beautiful new books featuring National parks, scenery and native trees and a travellers guide to birds of New Zealand. The last item is the new book on the Parker – Hulme murder and trial.

Syndetics book coverThe art of Footrot Flats / by Murray Ball. “The Art of Footrot Flats showcases the magnificent body of work of New Zealand’s greatest cartoonist, Murray Ball. This book, however, is not simply a cartoon book. It is, as the title suggests, an art book. The Art of Footrot Flats will be different and very, very special. The cartoons will still be there, but more importantly this book will focus on the art of the strip.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNational parks of New Zealand / photography by Rob Suisted ; text by Alison Dench. “Leading New Zealand photographer Rob Suisted delivers a magnificent portrait of New Zealand’s national parks. Within these treasured parks is diverse wildlife and stunning scenery representing all kinds of unique landscapes from golden sands to snowy mountains, rainforests and rugged coastlines. With five of the parks sitting in World Heritage Areas, this is a celebration of scenic Aotearoa at its best. Alison Dench emphasises the great pride and spiritual connection New Zealanders hold for their land with an introduction to each park.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTrees of New Zealand : stories of beauty and character / Peter Janssen & Mike Hollman. “This is a new kind of tree book, not a guide to species or simply a photographic study, it is a collection of individual portraits of the most remarkable trees in New Zealand. From the 800-year-old pohutukawa that stands at ‘the place of leaping’ at Cape Reinga to the Moriori carved ‘kopi’ (karaka) trees of the Chatham Islands but also trees that have histories that are linked to our own, such as the Gallipoli Pine at Taradale Cemetery, grown as a memorial from the seed of Gallipoli’s Lone Pine Tree.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSo brilliantly clever : Parker, Hulme & the murder that shocked the world / Peter Graham. “In this mesmerising book, lawyer and true crime writer Peter Graham tells the whole story for the first time – giving a brilliant account of the crime and ensuing trial, dramatic revelations about the fate of Juliete Hulme and Pauline Parker after their release from prison, their strange lives today and a penetrating insight into the crime using modern psychology.” (adapted from back cover)

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People and Places Newsletter for September

This month in People & Places we feature the best in biography, travel, history and NZ fiction. Highlights include: double-Duchess delights with the lives of Wallis Simpson and Sarah Ferguson; Last Train to Paradise relives the glory days of NZ rail; and Wellington author Craig Cliff explores a number of novel themes – pregnancy tests, the poetry of Sappho and the artistic potential of photocopiers among others – in his short story collection, A Man Melting.

Biography

Syndetics book coverThat woman : the life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor / Anne Sebba.
“This is the story of the American divorcee notorious for allegedly seducing a British king off his throne. “That woman,” so called by Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, was born Bessie Wallis Warfield in 1896 in Baltimore. Neither beautiful nor brilliant, she endured an impoverished childhood, which fostered in her a burning desire to rise above her circumstances. Acclaimed biographer Anne Sebba offers an eye-opening account of one of the most talked about women of her generation.”(Synopsis from globalbooksinprint.com).

Syndetics book coverMary Boleyn : ‘the great and infamous whore’ / Alison Weir. “Mary Boleyn is remembered by posterity as a ‘great and infamous whore’.She was the mistress of two kings, Francois I of France and Henry VIII of England, and sister to Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife. She may secretly have borne Henry a child and it was because of his adultery with Mary that his marriage to Anne was annulled. It is not hard to see how this tangled web of relationships has given rise to rumours and misconceptions that have been embroidered over the centuries. In this, the first full-scale biography of Mary Boleyn, Alison Weir explodes much of the mythology that surrounds her subject and uncovers the facts about one of the most misunderstood figures of the Tudor age.” (Synopsis from globabooksinprint.com).

Syndetics book coverMatilda : Queen of the Conqueror / Tracy Borman. “Matilda, wife of William the Conqueror, was the first woman to be crowned Queen of England and formally recognised as such by her subjects. Beyond this, though, little is known of her life. No contemporary images of her remain, and in a period where all evidence is fragmentary and questionable, the chroniclers of the age left us only the faintest clues as to her life. So who was this spectral queen? In this first major biography, Tracy Borman elegantly sifts through the shards of evidence to uncover an extraordinary story.”(Synopsis from globalbooksinprint.com).

Syndetics book coverNo regrets : the life of Edith Piaf / Carolyn Burke.
“The beloved French chanteuse comes to life in this enthralling biography, which captures Piaf’s charismatic appeal along with the time and place that gave rise to her remarkable international career.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow to survive the Titanic : or, The sinking of J. Bruce Ismay / Frances Wilson.
“When the ship hit the iceberg on 14 April 1912 and a thousand men prepared to die, J Bruce Ismay, the ship’s owner and inheritor of the White Star fortune, jumped into a lifeboat with the women and children and rowed away to safety. Accused of cowardice, Ismay became the first victim of a press hate campaign. his reputation never recovered and while other survivors were piecing together their accounts, Ismay never spoke of his beloved ship again. For those who survived the Titanic the world was never the same again. But as Wilson superbly demonstrates, we all have our own Titanics, and we all need to find ways of surviving them.”(Library catalogue summary)

Syndetics book coverFinding Sarah : a duchess’s journey to find herself / Sarah Ferguson, The Duchess of York.
“The author documents a low period in her life and how she found strength in her struggles with adversity and eventually regained her sense of purpose for her life with the help of friends and several celebrity experts.”(Library catalogue summary).

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Travel stories & guides

This month: journey from a remote Italian mountain village, to a canal boat in World War II England; from the rich farming land of Southern France and Northern Spain, to the banks of the Tigris River. Experience all this and more in our new travel book picks – have a browse!

Syndetics book coverViolin lessons / Arnold Zable.
“From the songs of Arab diva Umm Khultum on the banks of the Tigris to The strains of a young boy playing the violin for his mother in Melbourne, to the swing jazz of the nightclubs and cabarets of 1940s Baghdad, a fisherman playing a flute on the banks of the Mekong, and Paganini in the borderlands of eastern Poland… Music weaves its way through each of these spellbinding stories… Arnold Zable takes the reader on an intimate journey into the lives of people he met on travels over the last forty years…” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThin paths : journeys in and around an Italian mountain village / Julia Blackburn.
“You come across the shell of a ruined house. It could be anywhere in southern Europe where people once lived and then moved away because there was no work to hold them there… The house is remote, but it is surrounded by a tracery of thin paths… Julia Blackburn and her husband moved to a little house in the mountains of northern Italy in 1999. She arrived as a stranger speaking no Italian, but a series of events brought her close to the old people of the village. They began to tell her stories that made the landscape come alive, repopulating it with their vivid memories…” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMaidens’ trip : a wartime adventure on the Grand Union Canal / Emma Smith.
“In 1943 Emma Smith joined the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company under their wartime scheme of employing women to replace the boaters. She set out with two friends on a big adventure: three eighteen-year-olds, freed from a middle-class background, precipitated into the boating fraternity. They learn how to handle a pair of seventy-two foot-long canal boats, how to carry a cargo of steel north from London to Birmingham and coal from Coventry; how to splice ropes, bail out bilge water, keep the engine ticking over and steer through tunnels. They live off kedgeree and fried bread and jam, adopt a kitten, lose their bicycles, laugh and quarrel and get progressively dirtier and tougher as the weeks go by.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLast train to paradise : journeys from the golden age of New Zealand railways / Graham Hutchins.
“‘Last Train to Paradise’ describes the halcyon days of New Zealand rail, some of which the author was fortunate enough to experience personally. The ‘name’ trains and journeys cover a considerable period of New Zealand’s history, from the late 1800s, through the ‘golden’ era of train travel (the first four decades of the 20th century). Among the special journeys covered are the Prince of Wales’ royal progress through New Zealand in 1920, and travelling the ‘Test Match Special’ to enjoy the rugby in 1956. The book also includes a wide variety of fascinating and unfamiliar photographs, not just of the trains themselves but also of the characters who travelled in them.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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History

We have a great list of new books in our History Recent Picks this month. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverIf Rome hadn’t fallen : what might have happened if the Western Empire had survived / Timothy Venning.
“This is a fascinating exploration of how the history of Europe, and indeed the world, might have been different if the Western Roman Empire had survived the crises that pulled it apart in the 4th and 5th centuries. Dr Timothy Venning starts by showing how that survival and recovery might plausibly have happened if several relatively minor things had been different. He then moves on to discuss a series of scenarios which might have altered the course of subsequent history dramatically. Would the survival of a strong Western Empire have assisted the Eastern (Byzantine) Empire in halting the expansion of Islam in the Middle East and North Africa? How would the Western Roman Empire have handled the Viking threat? Could they even have exploited the Viking discovery of America and established successful colonies there? While necessarily speculative, all the scenarios are discussed within the framework of a deep understanding of the major driving forces, tensions and trends that shaped European history and help to shed light upon them. In so doing they help the reader to understand why things panned out as they did, as well as what might have been.” (Global Books In Print)

Syndetics book coverTurn right at Machu Picchu : rediscovering the lost city one step at a time / Mark Adams.
“Journalist Adams, whose previous Mr. America was an entertaining rediscovery of the life of early 20th-century fitness guru Bernard Macfadden, explores the weird crevasses of American exploration. In this fascinating history/travelogue, Adams looks at the work of Hiram Bingham III, who became a national sensation after he “discovered” the ancient city of Machu Picchu in July 1911. To celebrate the centennial of Bingham’s discovery, Adams attempts to follow Bingham’s exact footsteps through the Andes Mountains of Peru, with two clear goals: to figure out “how Bingham had gotten to Machu Picchu in the first place” and, in the face of recent claims that he had illegally smuggled artifacts out of the country, to understand the broader story of Bingham’s “all-consuming attempt to solve the mystery of why such a spectacular granite city had been built in such a spellbinding location.” (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverGreat central state : the foundation of the Northern Territory / Jack Cross.
“This book tells the sometimes bizarre story of the founding and precarious existence of the Northern Territory up to its constitution as a separate entity in 1911. Acquired by South Australia in 1863, the early years are a case study in planned colonisation, a world-wide movement in the mid-nineteenth century which, at its most ambitious, aimed at spreading civilisation around the world. This grand vision was marred by human folly, pride and hubris, overarching ambition, petty jealousy and murderous payback. Strange tales abound in this very lively history being published ready for the Territory’s centenary celebrations in 2011, as Jack Cross casts a wry, affectionate eye over a meticulously researched text that also anticipates the day when the Territory’s unique proximity to Asia determines that it becomes the seventh Australian state.” (Global Books In Print)

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New Zealand

From Short Stories to Science Fiction and Fantasy, this selection of new fiction show cases the diversification and skill of New Zealand writers.

cover imageGeist / Philippa Ballantine.
“The first in a new series. Between the living and the dead is the Order of the Deacons, protectors of the Empire, guardians against possession, sentinels enlisted to ward off malevolent hauntings by the geists. Sorcha Faris , a powerful member of the Order of the Deacons, is dispatched to an isolated village to aid a Priory plagued by violent Geist activity.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA man melting : short stories / Craig Cliff.
“This collection of stories moves from the serious and realistic to the humorous and outlandish, each story copying an element from the previous piece in a kind of evolutionary chain. “A Man Melting” was awarded the 2011 Commonwealth Writers Prize Best First Book.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe circus of ghosts / Barbara Ewing.
“New York, late 1840s, and in the wild, noisy, brash and beautiful circus of Silas P. Swift a shadowy, mesmeric woman entrances crowds because she can unlock the secrets of troubled minds. Above them all her daughter sweeps and soars: acrobat and tightrope-walker. The mysterious woman can help so many others, but she cannot unlock dark, literally unspeakable, memories of her own. In London memories fester in the mind of an old and venomous duke of the realm. He plots, with an unscrupulous lawyer (and a huge financial reward) against the mother and the daughter: to kill one, and to abduct the other and bring her across the Atlantic to him”. – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk description)

Syndetics book coverThe conductor / Sarah Quigley.
“In June 1941, Nazi troops march on Leningrad and surround it. Hitler’s plan is to shell, bomb, and starve the city into submission. Most of the cultural elite are evacuated early in the siege, but Dmitri Shostakovich, the most famous composer in Russia, stays on to defend his city, digging ditches and fire-watching. At night he composes a new work. But after Shostakovich and his family are forced to evacuate, only Karl Eliasberg, a shy and difficult man, conductor of the second-rate Radio Orchestra, and an assortment of musicians are left behind in Leningrad to face an unendurable winter and start rehearsing the finished score of Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony.” – (adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe big kahuna : tax and welfare / [Gareth Morgan and Susan Guthrie].
“The big kahuna takes as its base assumption that we don’t, as a society, accept that huge differences in income are acceptable and that we therefore choose to redistribute wealth. While they are generally regarded as separate, the tax and welfare systems are fundamentally both methods of doing just that – redistributing income from those who have plenty to those who don’t.” –Back cover.

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