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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Friendship: An Exposé by Joseph Epstein (Houghton Mifflin) Joseph Epstein's last book of social criticism was the best-selling Snobbery: The American Version– his exploration on the various ways snobbery exists, its different forms, and how snobs and snobbisms changed after the decline of old-line WASP values.With Friendship, a similar observation animates his quest as he investigates a subject equally universal and, in many ways, more complex, rich, and perfectly suited to his trademark blend of sophisticated wit and commentary. More

The Philosophy of Friendship by Mark Vernon (Palgrave Macmillan) links the resources of the philosophical tradition with numerous illustrations from modern culture to ask what friendship is and how it relates to sex, work, politics and spirituality. Unusually, he argues that Plato and Nietzsche, as much as Aristotle and Aelred, should be put center stage. Their penetrating and occasionally tough insights are invaluable if friendship is to be a full, not merely sentimental, way of life for today. Vernon offers a blog and some self evaluation resources at his website: www.friendshiponline.info. The work manages to invoke the traditions and concepts of philosophy while maintaining a balanced view of the demands of modern life. More

A Language Older Than Words by Derrick Jensen (Chelsea Green Publishing Company) At once a beautifully poetic memoir and an exploration of the various ways we live in the world, A Language Older Than Words explains violence as a pathology that touches every aspect of our lives, and indeed affects all aspects of life on earth. This chronicle of Derrick Jensen's drive to transcend domestic abuse offers a challenging look at our worldwide sense of community, and how we can make things better.

It must have taken a lot of courage for Derrick Jensen to write this book. Not only is Derrick exploring the cause of the emotional, physical and sexual abuse that he and his family suffered at the hands and genitals of his father. He is also exploring how are cultures relationship with humans and non-humans is similar to the relationship he and his family had with his father. A brutal look at patriarchy.

A Language Older Than Words is intensely personal in the way that it is written, in the subjects that are discussed, and what the author reveals about himself. Derrick Jensen's cultural criticism and analysis is not some abstract intellectualized theory, but rather put together and put forth in a very down to earth and easy to grasp way. He pulls no punches, and is willing to go against cultural convention when necessary to speak what the perpetrators of abuse (domestic, ecological, economic, social, and political) would have us all remain silent about. 

The Culture of Make Believe by Derrick Jensen (Chelsea Green Publishing Company)  (Chelsea Green Publishing Company)  Derrick Jensen is a public intellectual of rare abilities. In The Culture of Make Believe, Jensen sets the bar as high as possible, examining the atrocities that characterize so much of our culture – from modern slavery and corporate misdeeds to manufacturing disasters and the destruction of the natural world.

Jensen takes no prisoners. Interweaving political, historical, philosophical and deeply personal perspectives, Jensen argues that only by understanding past horrors can we hope to prevent future ones. Exploring the lines of thought and experience that connect the atrocities of our culture throughout history, Jensen leads us on an extraordinary journey from early twentieth-century lynchings in the United States to today’s death squads in South America .

The Culture of Make Believe deftly weaves together history, philosophy, environmentalism, economics, literature and psychology. Jensen focuses in on the dangers of abstraction and the economics that result from our viewing people and things as sources of profit and elements in systems. Therefore he chooses to look at the particular, telling many stories in great detail. He has the ability to forge these events into an emotionally compelling and devastating critique of the intellectual, psychological, emotional and social structures of Western culture.

What he comes up with is the valuing of production over life. Racism, hatred of women, and contempt for nature. A world in which hatred and destruction come easily. He finds that the sources of the values that permeate our society are in imperialism, slavery, the rise of global capitalism, and the ideologies of possessiveness and consumerism.

Jensen's solution is a return to the simple life, perhaps much like that of the hunter-gatherers, yet he knows that such a turn must be "the end of civilization." At the end of the preface, Jensen writes: “This book is a weapon. It is a gun to be put into the hands of all of us who wish to oppose these atrocities, and a manual on how to use it. It is a knife to cut the ropes that bind us to our ways of perceiving and being in the world. It is a match to light the fuse.”

The Culture of Make Believe is as impeccably researched as it is intense, with conclusions as far-reaching as they are shocking. What begins as an attempt to reconsider the nature of hatred soon explodes into a reckoning with the very heart of Western civilization.

Listening to the Land: Conversations About Nature, Culture and Eros by Derrick Jensen (Chelsea Green Publishing Company) Jensen conducts 28 provocative, insightful conversations with ecologists, anthropologists, feminists, cultural critics, Native Americans, writers, and other philosophers, seeking answers to urgent questions for our time. What results is a noteworthy book of eco-sensibilites and a profound contribution to our understanding of how we are, and can be, in this world.

is comprised of interviews Derrick Jensen had with a diverse group of people that he saw as searching for answers to the question of why modern society was propagating a pervasive ecological destruction of the earth, and if there are ways to live more peacefully with the natural world. The interviewees include anthropologists, psychologists, theologians, and indigenous philosophers. Jensen uses the dialogue form instead of a single-voice narrative "in the hope the reader would experience the story for what it is - a communal effort at working through some of the greatest and most difficult questions ever faced by human beings." This dialogue form was at first distracting, since it lacked the tight organizational structure of written discourse and the argumentative authority of the single-voiced narrative. But as I became more accustomed to the dialogue style I saw that its weaknesses were also its strength. The personality and subjective aspect of the interviewer and the interviewees came to the forefront showing how that which was being discussed was shaped and colored by each of them and the interaction between them. This non-detached orientation helped to make the discussion about human/nature interaction more intersubjective, or less about something out there and more about something constructed by participating subjects in the drama of life. In terms of the interviewer, Jensen was trained in mineral engineering physics in the early 1980's but soon found himself miserable in his "not-too-meaningless", middle class technical job. His quest to find "other models for happiness" (page 2) is apparent in his interviewing style that maintains an intimate personal quality even while discussing abstract theoretical points. Within the dialogues he stays in the background allowing the interviewees to fluidly expound on his penetrating but concise questions. He also is able to do the difficult job of asking follow-up questions that complement and probe further, by building on the interviewees responses. What emerges is the sense of being witness to oral conversations that stir the heart, inform the intellect and inspire the spirit. The interviewees themselves are a "who's who" of the environmental field. From Earth First founder Dave Foreman we hear that "in religious terms... fighting to save biodiversity, the process of evolution, is a way for us to save our souls". The complexity of the fight and the man, come out later in the interview when he tells a story about going to Washington D.C. to be a lobbyist for the Wilderness Society. A senator took him aside and told him to put his heart in a safe-deposit box and replace his brain with a pocket calculator because only by quoting economists and engineers and being devoid of emotion would he have credibility. To this he said " But Damn it, I am emotional. I'm an animal, and proud of it. Descartes was wrong when he said, 'I think therefore I am.' Our consciousness, our being, is not all up here in the skullbox, its our whole body we think with...We need that green fire in our eyes. Somehow we've got to remember how to think like a mountain." (page 12) Mathew Fox, tells us of how his Creation Spirituality is about realizing that nature's laws are miracles, and that regaining the mystical awe in experiencing life creates a foundation of love within us, that if missing makes us essentially lost in the world. Then showing the cross pollination of ideas alive in these interviews, he quotes sustainable agriculture advocate Wendell Berry who says that "Perhaps the greatest disaster of human history is...the conceptual division between the holy and the world, the excerpting of the creator from the creation." (page 69) The Ecofemist, Charlene Spretnak, proposes a replacement for "mechanistic, dualistic, anti-nature, anti-spiritual modernity" (page 49) not with a nihilistic extreme relativity post-modernism, but with what she calls 'ecological postmodernism'. Based on being embodied and embedded in the natural world, her ecological postmodernism refutes the "death of subject" and the "denial of meaning" of postmodernism. She counters Foucalt's autonomous self with a self based on an interdependent communion with the universe.

Bright Starry Banner: A Novel of the Civil War by Alden R. Carter (Soho Press) The end of 1862 ushered in a bleak New Year in which over eighty thousand men from the Union and Confederacy faced each other across battle lines outside Murfreesboro, Tennessee, sang "Home Sweet Home" in unison, and then loosed their guns and cannons at each other. Pitting Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans of the Army of the Cumberland against the infamous Gen. Braxton Bragg of the Army of Tennessee, this devastating battle, in which both sides eventually claimed victory, cost the lives of 25,000 men in just three days.

Author Carter uses primary sources to recreate the minutiae of this horrendous battle, and he is precise in his discussion of troop movements, the order of events, and the real actions of real people. Classified as a "novel" because the author recreates conversations which were not recorded and provides insights into what the participants may have been thinking and feeling, the book feels more like a comprehensive re-enactment than fiction. There are no imagined subplots, no love story, and no great or fully developed hero (though Gen. Rosecrans comes closest). Real events become the plot, and real battle movements and counter-movements become the "rising action," with "suspense" depending on the reader's unfamiliarity with these events and the characters' destinies.

By including as much personal background and information as is known about each real character, Carter humanizes the many generals on both sides who had often been classmates and friends from West Point, showing their soul-searching and personal relationships. Lower ranking officers and soldiers reveal the extent to which this was a "generals' war," with one soldier suggesting that all the soldiers on both sides "just go on home...leaving you officers to settle things among yourselves." The inclusion of Ambrose Bierce, a Union map-maker who later used his war-time experience in his writing, serves as a fascinating motif throughout, as Carter shows the particular events which appear in Bierce's work.

By the time the novel is finished, the reader is emotionally spent. Friendly fire accidents, the carnage of death by cannon, the misfires of ordnance, and the need to fire shells over the heads of their own men reflect the bloody reality of this war, while the moments of kindness which soldiers often extended to each other put a human face upon it. The descriptions are so precise, the devastation so total, the accidents so disastrous, and the role of chance so all-encompassing that the horrors of this war linger. Carter's novel is a huge achievement which should provide Civil War buffs with hours of serious study.

December 30, 1862, outside Murfreesboro, Tennessee: the forty-three thousand men of General William Starke Roscecrans’s Army of the Cumberland faced the thirty-eight thousand Confederate soldiers of General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee. It had been a dismal month for the Union. In the east, the Army of the Potomac suffered a terrible defeat at Fredericksburg, Virginia; in the west, Grant failed yet again to breach the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg, Mississippi. The Emancipation Proclamation was to go into effect on New Year’s Day, but after the disasters of December, Lincoln’s decree seemed less the assertion of a great moral imperative than a desperate attempt to shore up a crumbling cause. Rosecrans was to engage Bragg and win. That evening, the bands of both armies played, while the eighty thousand soldiers joined in singing "Home Sweet Home." At dawn, they would set about killing each other.

At the Battle of Stones River, thousands fall in three days of savage fighting across the fields and woods of middle Tennessee. The carnage awakes the best in some men—courage, sacrifice, and honor; the worst in others—cruelty, cowardice, and depravity. In arenas dubbed "the Slaughter Pen" and "Hell’s Half Acre," Blue and Gray collide.

A meticulous and sweeping re-creation of this pivotal confrontation, Bright Starry Banner does for the Civil War what A Bridge Too Far did for WWII.

Reign of Iron: The Story of the First Battling Ironclads, the Monitor and the Merrimack by James L. Nelson (William Morrow) The acclaimed author of the Brethren of the Coast trilogy revisits one of the great American naval battles and a turning point in our history -- the first major work on the subject in thirty-five years. .
The first ironclad ships to fight each other, the Monitor and the Virginia (Merrimack), were the unique products of American design genius and ingenuity, North and South. In one afternoon, in a battle that lasted four hours, they ended the three-thousand-year tradition of wooden men-of-war and ushered in, as Admiral John A. Dahlgren called it, "the reign of iron."

In this absorbing history, novelist, historian, and tall-ship sailor James L. Nelson, through in-depth research and a storyteller's voice, brilliantly recounts the story of these magnificent ships, the men who built and fought them, and the extraordinary battle that made them legend.

Battle of Despair: Bentonville and the North Carolina Campaign by Robert Broadwater (Mercer University Press) The Battle of Bentonville has become one of the forgotten battles of the Civil War. It became overshadowed by other major events such as the surrender of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and the assassination of President Lincoln.

Joseph E. Johnston, respectively, that led to the ultimate capitulation of Johnston's army. The book relies heavily upon first-person accounts of the battle, with much of the action being related through the words of the actual participants.

Battle of Despair examines Johnston's struggle to create an army with which to oppose Sherman, the long odds Johnston faced, and the eventual surrender o of that army—the largest body of Confederate men to surrender at the end of the war.

Battle of Despair: Bentonville and the North Carolina Campaign chronicles the skirmishes and battles between the Union and Confederate forces under General William T. Sherman and General

The battle of Bentonville, North Carolina, has never attained the stature of historical merit enjoyed by other more well-known fields of conflict. In fact, very little has ever been written about the battle. This fact is curious considering the importance it held in determining the outcome of the war and the large number of troops engaged. Casualty figures for both sides place the battle far ahead of engagements that have become familiar to students of the war through the writings and lectures of period historians. Bentonville was the last-gasp effort of the Confederate western armies to stop the relentless drive of General William T. Sherman's legions and prevent the total destruction of the South's last remaining supply sources. The battle served as a picture of the war itself, on a smaller scale, as the Southern leaders counted on the valor of the soldiers in gray to overcome the superior numbers of the Union army. Success and hope for Southern arms were the result of the first day's conflict with a determined stalemate marking the second day. By the third day, the concentration of the Union armies had created a disparity of numbers that compelled the Confederates to withdraw from the field before the army could be captured or destroyed. Indeed, the battle had mirrored the life of the Confederacy. The dash and daring of the early years that had been the architect of numerous victories had given way t o the pluck and determination of a country that refused to acknowledge the inevitability of its ultimate defeat.

In terms of size, the Battle of Bentonville was witness to greater losses than Wilson's Creek, Cross Keys, Cedar Mountain, Chickasaw Bayou, Fort Pillow, Kennesaw Mountain, and New Market, to name

but a few.' The combined forces on the field numbered over 70,000 men and the fighting was as severe as any seen in the war. Why then has this battle been so long neglected by historians? Possibly it is because of the fact that it was a battle between the western armies. Throughout the course of the war, the public mind was focused upon the operations of the Eastern Theater and the battles fought in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. With the seat of government for both nations being in this area, the heightened importance attached to the region and military forces operating within it is understandable, and from beginning to end, the public focused on Washington and Richmond. Western battles would momentarily capture the imagination of the civilian population of both sides, but would invariably return to events in the east. Historians largely continued to spotlight the eastern battles in the post-war years, relegating the western theater to a backstage level of importance. Recent years have seen a shift in this thinking, as a new emphasis on the western campaigns has taken hold in the literary offerings of Civil War authors.

Another possible explanation for the lack of information on the battle could be found in the time of its occurrence. As close to the end of the war as it was, it became overshadowed by the momentous events that followed in rapid succession following its conclusion. The battles around Richmond and Petersburg that broke the Confederate lines, compelling the evacuation of the Southern army, the surrender at Appomattox and the assassination of President Lincoln, all served to diminish the importance of the great battle when viewed in comparison with the other great events that followed it. Journalists had many more timely stories to write about as they sensed the end approaching.

Also, the war had exacted such a terrible price by the time of Bentonville that the battle simply may not have stirred the emotions of a public made numb by four years of casualty rolls. Had the battle taken place in the early years of the war, it would have beenconsidered one of the great struggles of the conflict. When viewed after the bloodbaths of Shiloh, Antietam, Gettysburg, and Chickamauga, it was taken by the public to be little more than a large skirmish. This perception was reinforced by the huge losses the Army of the Potomac had sustained from spring 1864 till the conclusion of operations around the Richmond and Petersburg lines. Subsequent t o the siege operations around the Confederate capital, Grant's overland campaign had inflicted a greater number of casualties on the two contending armies than the aggregate total of the forces involved in the Battle of Bentonville.

Casualty lists of varying length had become almost a daily feature in newspapers North and South, and the constant exposure to these reminders of the war's tremendous costs served to harden the populace. They were no longer shaken by battles whose losses were calculated in numbers less than tens of thousands, and Bentonville did not produce the carnage necessary to shock the public.

Last, there is the popular notion that Sherman's forces had been left to their own devices once Lieutenant General John Bell Hood embarked on his tragic invasion of Tennessee. Sherman's March t o the Sea and the Campaign of the Carolinas that followed were accompanied by few battles and very low casualty rates, and this only added to the emphasis placed on the eastern theater. Sherman seemed to be going where he wanted and doing as he pleased and the whole campaign added to the perception that the real fighting was being done in Virginia and the western army was merely out on a lark. The fact that Sherman had faced little opposition during the march north from Savannah was due to the Confederacy's inability to field a force sufficient to deal with him the absence of Hood's Army of Tennessee. This knowledge was general throughout the North and was the foundation for the belief that the Union Army had not faced much of a challenge from their adversary at Bentonville.

It was felt that the Confederate Army had been made up of "cradle and grave" enlistments: those well under and over standard military age. While there were examples of this in Johnston's army, it

accounted for only a small portion of his available force. The vast majority were men who were veteran soldiers, having faced the fire of muskets or warships on many occasions. They were a proud, determined group of men who had proved their valor on battlefields throughout the land. Though their numbers had been painfully diminished through the four long years of war, they were ready, willing, and able to prove that they were still a dangerous opponent, that there was still bite in the old dog. Outmanned and outgunned, they came ever so close to achieving the success that Johnston had envisioned when he drew up plans for the battle. 1t was a desperate gamble taken by a general out of good options and it nearly worked.

In the following chapters, the story of this last battle of the western armies will unfold through the eyes of the men who fought it. Their words will bring life to this long-neglected chapter of Civil War history and will, it is hoped, create further interest in this important conflict, bringing it on par with some of the more widely-known battles.

It is the story of men whose pride and courage could not be diminished by the overpowering odds they faced; of men whose valor and determination would not allow them to settle for anything short of complete victory. In all, it is the story of the war in miniature and the brave men who saw it through to its final conclusion.

Therapy by Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine Books) Audio Cassette (Abridged) Audio Cassette (Unabridged) Audio CD (Abridged) Audio CD (Unabridged) Jonathan Kellerman has made the psychological thriller his own gripping province with his bestselling series of Alex Delaware novels. Now, Delaware’s new adventure leads the sleuthing psychologist on a harrowing exploration into the realm he knows best: the human psyche, in all its complexity, mystery, and terrifying propensity for darkness.

The unabridged audiobook is our preferred way of enjoying a Kellerman thriller. This one keeps you guessing.

"Been a while since I had me a nice little whodunit," homicide detective Milo Sturgis tells Alex Delaware. But there’s definitely nothing nice about the brutal tableau behind the yellow crime-scene tape. On a lonely lover’s lane in the hills of Los Angeles, a young couple lies murdered in a car. Each bears a single gunshot wound to the head. The female victim has also been impaled by a metal spike. And that savage stroke of psychopathic fury tells Milo this case will call for more than standard police procedure. As he explains to Delaware, "Now we’re veering into your territory."

It is dark territory, indeed. The dead woman remains unidentified and seemingly unknown to everyone. But her companion has a name: Gavin Quick—and his troubled past eventually landed him on a therapist’s couch. It’s there, on familiar turf, that Delaware hopes to find vital clues. And that means going head-to-head with Dr. Mary Lou Koppel, a popular celebrity psychologist who fiercely guards the privacy of her clients . . . dead or alive.

But when there’s another gruesomely familiar murder, Delaware surmises that his investigation has struck a nerve. As he trolls the twisted wreckage of Quick’s tormented last days, what he finds isn’t madness, but the cold-blooded method behind it. And as he follows a chain of greed, corruption, and betrayal snaking hideously through the profession he thought he knew, he’ll discover territory where even he never dreamed of treading.

As provocative as it is suspenseful, Therapy is premier Kellerman that finds the award-winning author firing on all creative cylinders—and carrying readers on an electrifying ride to a place only he can`take them, for an experience they won’t soon forget.

Earthquake Weather by Terrill Lee Lankford (Ballantine Books) A veteran filmmaker and novelist now creates a riveting noir set in the power-mad jungle of Hollywood. Earthquake Weather a natural disaster shakes a city a an industry to their cores, revealing new layers deceit, desire, and deadly aggression. 

Hollywood. The land of dreams and schemes. Ma Hayes has a dream. To make movies. But that's easier wished for than done. Years of frustrating career moves have yielded little progress, and Mark now finds himself: in a dead-end job as a "creative executive" for the loath some producer Dexter Morton at Prescient Pictures, t hottest new production company in town. A job like that. could lead to big things—but Dexter Morton has n interest in promoting Mark's ambitions. Then a major earthquake rocks Los Angeles and all deals are off. An when Mark finds a body floating in Dexter's pool he goes from D-Boy to murder suspect before he can say "three-.. picture deal:'

In the interest of self-preservation Mark must find out who the true killer is before he is jailed or becomes the next victim. The list of suspects is long: the hot young: screenwriter who has been fired from his own project the director of Prescient Pictures' most recent film, who will do anything for final cut, the rewrite man who ha, been toiling in anonymity for years because he passed forty ages ago, the wannabe actress who would do anything—and anyone—for stardom, the blackmailing producer who knows more about the staff of Prescient Pictures than anyone wants to admit.

 In the Hands of the Great Spirit: The 20,000-Year`History of American Indians by Jake Page (Free Press) The story of the American Indians has, until now, been told as a 500-year tragedy, a story of violent and fatal encounters with Europeans and their diseases, followed by steady retreat, defeat, and diminishment. Yet the true story begins much earlier, and its final recent chapter adds a major twist. Jake Page, one of the Southwest's most distinguished writers and a longtime student of Indian history and culturel tells a radically new story, thanks to an explosion of recent archaeological findings, the latest scholarship, and an exploration of Indian legends. Covering no less than 20,000 years, In the Hands of the Great Spirit will forever change how we think about the oldest and earliest Americans.

Page writes gracefully and sympathetically, without sentimentality. He explores every controversy, from the question of cannibalism among tribes, to the various theories of when and how humans first arrived on the continent, to what life was actually like for Indians before the Europeans came. Page dispels the popular image of a peaceful and idyllic Eden, and shows that Indian societies were fluid, constantly transformed by intertribal fighting, population growth, and shifting climates.

Page uses Indian legends and stories as tools to uncover tribal origins, cultural values, and the meaning of certain rituals and sacred lands. He tells the story of contact with Europeans, and the multipower conflicts of the Seven Years War, the Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812, from the Indians' point of view. He explains the complex and shifting role of the U.S. government as expressed through executive decisions and through the role of the courts. Finally, he tells the fascinating story of the late-twentieth-century upsurge in Indian population and resources, which began as a social movement and exploded once casinos came into fashion.

Author and editor of over a dozen books on American Indian life and culture, Page is a masterful teller of this incredible story. In the Hands of the Great Spirit will forever change the familiar story of recent centuries, replacing it with a far more sweeping and meaningful story of tribes and peoples who have suffered enormously yet endure and enrich the American experience.

 Sweet Miss Honeywell's Revenge: A Ghost Story by Kathryn Reiss (Harcourt Children's Books) Zibby Thorne knows there's something wrong with the shabby dollhouse she bought for her twelfth birthday. She hears strange rustling and ringing noises when there's no one else in the room, and one of the dolls never seems to be in the same place she left it. Most`frightening of all, whatever make-believe Zibby plays with`the dolls comes true--but in a warped, twisted kind of wayn

So when her family and friends start having bizarre accidents, Zibby is certain the dollhouse is somehow responsible. Terrified, she tracks down the original owner, and she learns something even more shocking: The dollhouse is haunted--and one of the ghosts who lives in it is a cruel former governess named Miss Honeywell who died eighty years ago.

But why is Miss Honeywell still so bent on revenge?

Curse of the Blue Tattoo : Being an Account of the Misadventures of Jacky Faber, Midshipman and Fine Lady by Louis A. Meyer`Harcourt Children's Books) After being exposed as a girl, Jacky Faber is forced to leave the Dolphin and attend the elite Lawson Peabody School for Young Girls in Boston. But growing up on the streets of London and fighting pirates never prepared Jacky for her toughest battle yet: learning how to be a lady.

Everything she does is wrong. Her embroidery is deplorable, her French is atrocious, and her table manners--disgusting! And whenever Jacky roams the city in search of adventure, trouble is never far behind. Then there's the small matter of her blue anchor tattoo. . . .

So will Jacky ever become a typical lady? Not bloody well likely! But whether she's triumphing over her snobbish classmates, avenging a serving girl's murder, or winning over a stubborn horse that's as fast as the wind, one thing's for sure: Jacky's new life in Boston is just as exciting as her old one on the high seas. 

Fair, Square & Legal: Safe Hiring, Managing & Firing Practices to Keep You & Your Company Out of Court, 4th edition  by Donald H. Weiss (AMACOM) has long been the essential resource for organizations seeking to stay within the law and avoid violating the rights of their employees. This new, extensively updated edition reflects the latest regulations and court decisions, while retaining all the indispensable information readers have depended on for more than a decade.

Readers will find information on a wide variety of legal issues including:

* recruitment and hiring * sexual harassment * violation of privacy * evaluations and promotions * affirmative action issues * discipline and firing

The book covers the latest discrimination and EEOC guidelines, employee verification, and technology issues. It also updates topics including management best practices and recruitment. Comprehensive and up-to-date, Fair, Square & Legal is still the very best guide to keeping an organization out of hot water in our ultralitigious society—where your employees don't hesitate to sue if they I think their rights have been violated—you can't afford not to know what is and is not legal in the workplace. But employment law is intricate and confusing. Seemingly innocent behavior can have disastrous repercussions, and many managers simply don't realize what can cause trouble. They stumble unintentionally into legal showdowns—and unfortunately, ignorance of the law just doesn't work as a defense.

Fair, Square & Legal is your key to understanding employment law and protecting your company (and yourself) from legal problems, while treating your employees fairly. Now thoroughly updated and revised, the fourth edition of this classic guide is more helpful than ever. This lifesaver of a resource lays out all the do's and don'ts for dealing with both the everyday and extraordinary situations that confront all managers. Filled with frank and clear presentations of new legislation, up-to-date case law, and real examples, Fair, Square & Legal gives you crucial information on:

creating and enforcing sexual harassment policy • avoiding negligent hiring practices • hiring and managing people with disabilities • creating an effective affirmative action program • administering proper discipline and termination procedures • avoiding defamation and violations of privacy • administering the Family and Medical Leave Act • evaluating and promoting employees • preventing sex- and age-based discrimination • understanding labor law and workplace rights • and many other issues

You'll also find timely new information on employing and reemploying members of the military and reserve returning to the workforce from active duty, plus helpful explanations concerning the recent WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) Act.

Fair, Square & Legal is one of the few books on employment law intended specifically for business professionals. It's written in a straightforward, jargon-free style that's easy to understand. Packed with definitions, stories that illustrate problems and solutions, practical guidelines of what to say and do, and case studies, Fair, Square & Legal will help you avoid legal trouble, defend yourself if you do wind up in court, and most importantly, ensure a culture of ethics, trust, and fairness in your workplace.

Building Leaders: Blueprints for Developing Leadership at Every Level of Your Church by Aubrey Malphurs (Baker Book House) Seeing similarities between the process of building a house and build­ing a leadership-development process for the church, we have organized the parts of this book around a building metaphor.

Part 1 covers the preparation needed for developing leaders and explains why a church needs to build its leadership house. The first chapter is foundational and defines and explains the importance of developing leaders. Chapter 2 examines various reasons churches don't develop leaders. Chapter 3 addresses the kind of heart needed for leadership development.

In part 2 we deal with the practices for developing leaders—the biblical‑theological principles that are integral to the leadership training process. These are similar to the architectural principles that direct a builder's decisions while building a house. Chapter 4 discusses the leadership les­sons we can learn from the Savior in the Gospels, and chapter 5 looks at what we can learn from the metaphors that he used for leadership. Chapter 6 takes the next step and looks at what we can learn from the early church in Acts and the Epistles about developing leaders.

Part 3 explores our process for developing leaders that parallels moving from the builder's blueprints to the actual house. In chapter 7 we discuss the personnel who are needed for the leadership construction team. Then in chapters 8, 9, and 10 we explain the actual leadership‑development process. Chapter 11 is a guide for repairing and improving your completed development process, and chapter 12 addresses the creation of a leadership culture in the church.

Part 4 concludes the process by describing some models. And the material in the appendices will help the reader use effectively the in formation in the chapters.

Leaders can approach this book in several ways.

  • If you're a senior pastor or the point person of a parachurch min­istry you would be wise to work your way through this material with your key leaders, such as the staff and the board.

  • If you're a consultant or pastor leading a church through revital­ization, you should work through it with your leaders.

  • If you're a lay leader who wants to influence your church toward leadership development, you should read the book first. Then, as you talk with your pastor or other key leaders, you can address specific ways in which the book may be helpful (as well as buy them a copy!).

  • If you're a church planter, you have an easier job, because in most cases there is no one you have to convince of the need for leadership development or this process. You can simply include this process as a part of your church-planting strategy, either in the conception or development stage.

  • If you're a leadership or personal development coach, you will want to pay particular attention to the questions in and at the end of the chapters as you work through the book.

  • If you're a seminary professor, you may find it most instructive to assign this process as a project for your students. Divide them into teams and ask them to find a church in your area that will serve as a real-life lab for the project. Ask these emerging leaders,

  • "If this were your church, what would a leadership-development process look like and how would you implement it?"

Finally, this is the second book in a series of three companion books on leadership. The first is Being Leaders by Aubrey. In it he lays a foundation for this book. In the third book, Leading the Leader, he provides a definition of leadership.

A View from a Tall Hill: Robert Ruark in Africa by Terry Wieland (Down East Books) is an outstanding, unique selection for any avid reader of safari hunting material in general and for those already familiar with Robert Ruark's safari writings in particular. Ruark was an author, columnist, and hunter in the latter 20th century: though his career lasted less than fifteen years, he traveled extensively throughout Africa and produced newspaper reports which enlightened the world. His biography covers the man, his work, and the special attractions of hunting in Africa. Lively and revealing.

Robert Ruark was the most influential safari writer of the latter 20th century. He was a nationally renowned columnist and author during his lifetime, and since his death in 1965, his writings have continued to inspire both hunters who travel to Africa and those who can only dream of going there. In this book, Terry Wieland has not written a biography in the strict sense, but has written about Ruark and his work, the times in which he lived, and the strange allure that Africa had for him -- an irresistible fascination Ruark repaid by immortalizing Kenya as if it were a first, tender love.

Super Chef : The Making of the Great Modern Restaurant Empires by Juliette Rossant (Free Press) is a delightful book that defies easy classification. It is not a cookbook, though food is a basic ingredient and dishes are described. It is a not a traditional business book that covers issues in a plodding, textbook fashion. It parades celebrities but avoids gossip. "Biography of celebrities that focuses on business issues" is a bit dry as a description. I like the term "business adventures" used in the book's publicity, but Ms. Rossant says best in her author's note: "I had the the pleasure of hearing their tales, and it is their wonder and adventure that I have tried to impart in this book, rather than focus on hot food or cold commerce." Well said, indeed!

The "snapshots" of super chefs which open each profile chapter are fun and surprising (I won't spoil them for you) and make them come alive, so that the reader hungrily devours the rest of each chapter for the background to these surprising pictures. As a reward, the reader finds a dessert of a second snapshot or intimate interview or keen observations.

I feel like I have walked with these super chefs through their careers -- in busy kitchens, in tough negotiating rooms, and under hot TV spotlights. I feel like I know and appreciate Wolfgang, Charlie, Todd, Mary Sue and Susan, and Tom. Some I liked more than others, but I wanted to get to know them all. Thanks to Ms. Rossant, I have been on the "cutting edge" with each of them -- an edge that cuts both ways, sometimes pleasurably, sometimes painfully.

Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation put readers behind-the-scenes but was dark and terrifying. Tony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential tells wild tales of a self-confessed self-destructive chef who is also a gifted writer. Ms. Rossant's Super Chef takes off right where Jacques Pepin leaves off in his excellent new autobiography The Apprentice. Pepin (like Andre Soltner -- both important figures in Super Chef) is one of the last "traditional chefs" (though of course he is partly a "super chef" according to Ms. Rossant's definition), and reading The Apprentice followed by Super Chef makes for some of the best reading I can possibly recommend. In fact, I was delighted to find that Ms. Rossant makes one of her most acute conclusions by starting with a long quote from Pepin himself. The Apprentice and Super Chef are my Christmas and birthday presents for the next few years to everyone I love, epiphany-feasts for the mind and heart.

Guia De Vinas, Bodegas & Vinos De America Del Sur/South American Vineyards, Wineries & Wines Guide by Editors of Austral Spectator, Bilingual edition  (Chelsea Green Publishing Company) Delivering descriptions of nearly 300 wineries from Argentina to Venezuela, South American Vineyards, Wineries, and Wines is the most comprehensive guide to the rich wine culture of South America. The 608-page edition reviews 1,500 wines, which were sampled blindly and rated by a team of professional tasters from Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Uruguay.

With maps of wine-producing regions included in the book, you will find South American Vineyards, Wineries, and Wines an invaluable resource when deciding on a South American wine, whether you are ordering a bottle at a local restaurant or planning a tour of Peruvian vineyards.

Among its formidable wine listings, South American Vineyards, Wineries, and Wines features the top 50 wines of South America, which were selected from the best of the 8 wine-producing South American countries. The ranked wines participated in multiple tasting rounds that resulted in their selection by a panel of judges and certification by a notary public.

The guide, which accepts no advertising or endorsements from wineries, stands alone in the North American market as an inclusive, definitive resource on South American wines. With South American Vineyards, Wineries, and Wines, Austral Spectator has created a book that will escort readers through the complex, often daunting task of selecting wine from a novel and compelling market. 

Complete Watercolor Course: A Comprehensive, Easy-To-Follow Guide to Watercolor by John Raynes (North Light Books) Painting in watercolor is one of the most popular mediums for aspiring artists, yet there are many pitfalls that can snare the beginner. The Complete Watercolor Course gives beginners the key techniques of the art form, from wet-into-wet washes to the elegance of dry-brush techniques.

Comprehensive and easy to follow, this guide also illustrates how to portray a range of popular subjects, from still lifes to landscapes, and shows how to create a more complex painting using glazes and additives on a range of papers.

With clear and inspirational examples, John Raynes provides the fundamentals of painting in watercolor as well as more advanced professional techniques.

John Raynes is a practicing artist and experienced teacher. He is the author of The Figure Drawing Workbook and Drawing and Painting People, and the two-time recipient of the Artist's Choice Practical Art Book of the Year Award. He lives in Falmouth, England. 

Lush and Lively Flowers You Can Paint by Sharon Hamilton (North Light Books) Decorative painters frequently find that florals painted in acrylic have a dull, poster-like look. Using the techniques found in Lush and Lively Flowers You Can Paint, artists can now create the most realistic-looking flowers, leaves, and foliage imaginable

Sharon Hamilton's two-stage approach allows readers to build form and dimension using undercoats and intense dark and light colors, followed by oil paint to enhance the richness of the design.

Beginners and experienced painters alike will benefit from Hamilton's easy instructional chapters that teach how to organize the palette, prepare a brush for a float, and paint with oils. 12 step-by-step projects include popular subjects, such as poppies, roses, lilies, pansies, and tulips!

Sharon Hamilton, MDA, is known in the decorative painting industry for realistic acrylic florals. She has taught at the Society of Decorative Painters national conventions since 1990 and has been published in several decorative painting magazines in the U.S. and Japan. Hamilton, whose work was chosen for exhibition at the prestigious Nihon Vogue Decorative Painting Gallery of the World in Tokyo, resides in Macungie, Pennsylvania. 

Lee Hammond's Big Book of Drawing by Lee Hammond (North Light Books) Now beginning artists can get all the drawing help they need in one convenient place.
Bestselling author Lee Hammond is known for her clear, basic methods for drawing nearly any subject. This giant book brings together the best projects from her other titles into one super-sized guide. Readers will find: - Popular subjects like people, animals, flowers and nature - An encouraging "You Can Do It" section - Clear step-by-step instructions to guarantee success - Chapters on choosing materials and mastering basic techniques

This entire book showcases realistic, appealing artwork that's truly achievable. Anyone can find creative success with Lee Hammond leading the way!

Stamp: Tips, Techniques and Projects for Stamp Lovers (Rockport Publishers) Rubber Stamping continues to be a hugely popular craft. In addition to the everyday stamper who buys stamps to make cards and scrapbooks, people from all other craft areas are discovering the exciting ways that stamping can contribute to the artwork they are already doing. Stamping is everywhere. Whether your love is polymer clay, fabric, collage, paper, book arts, or home decor, stamps can bring a new level of creativity to any craft. Stamp is a comprehensive collection of stamp ideas, techniques, projects and inspiration, providing a complete sourcebook for all types of crafters looking to add stamping to their creative canon.

One-Color Graphics: The Power of Contrast by Chen Design Associates (Rockport Publishers) One-Color Graphics provides a gallery of inspirational one-color and black-and-white designs created by professional artists around the world. From somber and elegant to edgy and bold, these masterpieces of contrast showcase the full range of moods the artist can create by working imaginatively with a basic yet potent color scheme.

Projects included in this book range from posters, invitations, and promotional materials to logos and letterheads. This book will help graphic designers of all levels harness the magic and simplicity of one color without breaking a client?s budget.

Given the current economy, designers are faced with more and more challenges to produce effective design on limited budgets. To be able to elevate what is often mistakenly thought of as a simple solution and showcase it as a viable, successful, and preferred option seems timely and useful for designers from all walks of life

Not only is one-color design timeless, classic, and visually powerful, it is also far less expensive to print than four-color design. Yet its simplicity is deceiving it takes real artistry and skill to effectively leverage the power of contrast.

Information Graphics and Visual Clues: Communicating Information through Graphic Design by Ronnie Lipton (Rockport Publishers) Certain visual images--a stop sign, a skull and crossbones, a handicapped parking sticker--scream their message to use loud and clear. The ability to take ideas and information and create visuals that allow us to read them is the most basic and difficult skill of a graphic designer. Information Graphics and Visual Clues argues that this way of seeing and creating is part innate and part learned, and without it, even the most technologically sophisticated designer is merely a technician.

Through stunning visual images and highly accessible descriptions, this book explains the theory behind visual translation; walks the reader through examples of graphics ranging from signs and logos to advertising, packaging, and events publicity; and explains how each image was conceived and why it succeeds.

Ronnie Lipton is the director of Transform & Function, a firm that consults organizational communicators on effective writing, editing and design. An award-winning journalist and publication designer, she teaches journalism in George Washington University's Publication Specialist Program, and graphic design at the University of Maryland, and gives corporate workshops on editing, writing and design in the Washington, DC, area. The former writer, editor and art director of In House Graphics, a national subscription newsletter on effective communication, Ronnie received a BA degree in Art from Florida Atlantic University. She's a freelance writer whose work has appeared in I.D. and HOW magazines and is the author of Designing Across Cultures, a book to be released by North Light in March 2002.

The Male Mystique: Men's Magazine Ads of the 1960s and '70s by Jacques Boyreau (Chronicle Books) What does it mean to be a man? Is it the size of your quadraphonic hi-fi equipment or the fit of your flares? The Male Mystique presents a swinging vision of the ideal male-dominated lifestyle -- at least, as seen through the looking-glass of men's magazine ads of the 1960s and '70s. This is Total Male Living as it was meant to be: a world of musk, whiskey, polyester slacks, "male comfort spray," and, of course, babes. With 150 swaggering print advertisements presenting an astonishing array of swarthy delights, crass copy, and surprise celebrity sightings, The Male Mystique is tribute to the time when testosterone was in vogue and Stay-Prest stayed pants at the ready. Ladies, please don't crush the velour.

Walking on Water: Reading, Writing, and Revolution by Derrick Jensen (Chelsea Green Publishing Company) Remember the days of longing for the hands on the classroom clock to move faster? Most of us would say we love to learn, but we hated school. Why is that? What happens to the creativity and uniqueness of each child as they pass through our schools?

Derrick Jensen contends that the culture we live in is based on one great illusion in which schools are central to the creation and perpetuation: happiness lies outside of ourselves. By learning to submit to and please those in power we freely give our lives to a system where we will always watch the clocks and calendars.

School is the "day-prison" where we learn to be "a nation of slaves." School sucked. It was like torture, five days a week, eight hours a day, seemingly without beginning or end. And yet the end does eventually come, with much cap-throwing and fanfare, only to be crushed with the prospects of our work-a-day world and the ecological destruction it enacts on a daily basis.

Why do we put up with this system? Because we have been trained to do so, both bodily and mentally. "Throughout our adult lives, most of us are expected to get to work on time, to do our boss's bidding...and not to leave till the final bell has rung. It is expected that we will watch the clock, counting seconds till five o'clock, till Friday, till payday, till retirement, when at last our time will again be our own, as it was before we began kindergarten, or preschool, or daycare. Where do we learn to do all of this waiting?" The answer, of course, is school.

To some, these might seem like rather bold statements. To be sure, many of us enjoyed moments of school here and there, experienced enthusiasm and genuine learning amid the 18-year prison sentence we call formal education. But that is not the point. The point is rather to ask what education could be. "What are the effects of schooling on creativity?," Jensen asks. "How well does schooling foster the uniqueness of each child who passes through? Does schooling make children happier? For that matter, does our culture as a whole engender happy children? What does each new child receive in exchange for the so many hours for years on end that she or he gives to the school system?" The answer is not much, unless you consider obedience to the clock a high and noble aim. In light of the looming problems our society now faces--drug addiction, teen suicide, domestic violence, rampant materialism, ecological crisis--this systemic acculturation of obedience has become pathological. Yet as Jensen shows, the aim of education from the very start has been economic growth, homogenization, social control, and industrialization--not personal enrichment, individuality, creativity or even the creation of healthy communities.

Through a complex web of stories, anecdotes and personal experiences teaching both literal prisoners at California State Pen and figurative prisoners at Eastern Washington University, Jensen offers an alternative vision of education. This vision is reoriented to educe, draw out, and lead forth the native impulses and interests of students and teachers alike; and is predicated on our ability to listen to and follow our own hearts. As he says, "We need simply to be encouraged, to be given heart, to be allowed to grow our own large hearts. We do not need to be governed by external schedules--by the ticking of the ubiquitous classroom clock--nor told what and when we need to learn, nor what we need to express, but instead we need to be given time, not as a constraint, but as a gift in a supportive place where we can explore what we want and who we are, with the assistance of others who care about us also. This is true not only for me and for my students, but for all of us, including our nonhuman neighbors."