Ex Libris welcomes back returning readers with recommendations from library and campus readers. Our goal is to showcase the Raynor Memorial Libraries’ Browsing Collection and to identify a range of contemporary fiction and nonfiction for the general reader. In addition to staff choices and literary prizewinners, we offer new books by faculty, and alumni. All readers in the Marquette community are invited to suggest books, or better, to write a brief review for Ex Libris. If you missed an alert, earlier issues of Ex Libris are available online.
Clicking on the title or cover image will take you to the book's MARQCAT record; please note locations carefully as items may be in the Browsing Collection or in the Memorial stacks. Books that are checked out may be reserved by clicking on the MARQCAT record's "Request" button.
Still looking for something to read? Check out a list of recent additions to the Browsing Collection.
Death Comes to Pemberley: A Novel
P. D. James (New York: Knopf, 2011)
I was captivated by the idea behind this book from the minute I heard about it. Imagine learning that a preeminent contemporary mystery writer's second passion is the work of Jane Austen and that she had decided to try her hand at an Austenesque mystery! At the age of 91 and having authored 20 previous books, James has crafted a sequel to Pride and Prejudice. The book opens in 1803, six years after the close of Pride... and the Darcys now have two children and live happily on their estate, Pemberley, just around the corner from sister Jane and Mr. Bingley. Preparations are underway for a great ball when a body is discovered on the grounds and the closest suspect at hand is the odious Mr. Wickham. Now, lovers of James and her familiar police detective, Adam Dalgliesh, should be forewarned that the mystery in this book is a bit thin. However, the atmosphere and the "upstairs downstairs" life at Pemberley are splendid. James does a particularly good job of picking up the threads of various Bennet girls' marriages--the Darcys’, Lydia Wickham's, plus the marriage hopes of Darcy's sister Georgiana. James clearly had fun with this idea, throwing in red herrings, an out-of-wedlock baby, and several dark and stormy nights on the estate. I loved this quickly-read and imaginative take on the question: "Whatever happened to Elizabeth and Darcy?"
Recommended by Susan Hopwood, Outreach Librarian
China Miéville (New York: Del Rey/Ballantine Books, 2011)
This novel requires some work on the part of the reader, but offers real rewards for those who persist. The setting is in the far future, on a planet at the outer edge of explored space, where humans live primarily in a small enclave for diplomacy and trade, set apart from the native race. The natives, the Ariekei, are not humanoid in any way, and humans can only communicate with them through genetically altered and specially trained identical twin pairs called Ambassadors. The protagonist, Avice Benner Cho, grew up in Embassytown, then left as an adult, and at the beginning of the book has just returned for a long vacation with her husband, an anthropologist. What follows is a complex weave of political intrigue, revolution among the Ariekei, and personal soap opera for Avice. But Miéville also examines the role of language, lies, truth, and suppositions in political society at large, and how the interaction of different groups inevitably brings change. Avice is not a completely sympathetic character, but her role as both an observer of the Ariekei revolution and as a peripheral but still integral part of it, allows us to explore these complicated questions. Miéville is a masterful writer and world-builder, but if you’re unfamiliar with his work, this might not be the best place to start. Embassytown is not for simple escapism and entertainment, though you can find some of both.
Recommended by Valerie Beech, Research & Instructional Services Librarian
The Garden Intrigue
Lauren Willig (Dutton Adult, 2012)
The ninth novel in the author's Pink Carnation series is a blend of historical romance set in the Napoleonic era and a modern-day chick-lit story. The modern-day story follows Eloise Kelly, an American graduate student, as she researches her dissertation in England. Eloise’s search for primary documentation about an English spy in Napoleonic France, called the Pink Carnation, leads her to the Selwick family where she meets Colin Selwick. The relationship between Eloise and Colin and their families and friends comprises the main theme of the modern story. The historical side of the novel revolves around an English spy organization led by the Pink Carnation and a multitude of other people from Napoleonic-era Europe. The second plot follows the story of Augustus Whittlesby, who has spent the past ten years as a spy in France disguised as a poet whose writing is so horrible none of the French officials will read it. Augustus uses his poetry to hide codes and send information to England. A rumor that Napoleon has plans to test a device essential to his invasion of England leads Augustus to collaborate with Emma Delgardie in writing a play for performance at Malmaison, where the newly declared Emperor plans to test the device. I found the insight into Napoleonic politics, as seen through Emma’s eyes, as intriguing as the romance between the two main characters. The end provides an enormous teaser that makes me hope Willig finishes the tenth novel soon.
Recommended by Sharon Olson, Order & Receiving
The Gone-Away World; A Novel
Nick Harkaway (New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 2009)
Nick Harkaway’s fascinating debut novel tells the story of Gonzo Lubitsch—star athlete, ladies’ man, war hero, and all-around likable guy—through the eyes of Gonzo’s unnamed best friend. From childhood, the boys are inseparable: the narrator trails after Gonzo as he wins the big games, gets the girls, cakewalks to university, and forgets to grow up. It’s hard to tell exactly when the friendship starts to go pear-shaped. Was it when the narrator, fed up with Gonzo’s devil-may-care attitude, started hanging out with the leftist coffee-house crowd? Was it when his superior intelligence is tapped to help design a perfectly clean bomb that causes the enemy simply to go away? When the young men are reunited as soldiers to fight in a Middle Easternish war, their bond seems as close as ever. But things are not quite right. First of all, the perfect bomb made a lot more go away than just the enemy. Then there are the sentient rocks, the leftover matter called “stuff,” the difficulty knowing who to trust. And trust is everything in the gone-away world. After the war, the men and a nurse named Leah return to a hometown that is as far from familiar as the battlefield had been. They heroically protect the Jorgmund Pipe, which separates the survivors from bandits and not-exactly humans, until—well... If you enjoy epic adventure, fantasy, ninjas, political satire, mimes, dark humor, or romance, read The Gone-Away World. Or read it just to enjoy the wonderful use of language: Harkaway is a most imaginative and adroit wordsmith. This review is based on the audiobook, which is narrated by Kirby Heyborne.
Recommended by Susan Sponberg, Catalog Librarian, Technical Services
The Language of Flowers
Vanessa Diffenbaugh (New York: Ballantine Books, 2011)
According to Wikipedia, the “language of flowers” was a Victorian means of sending coded messages through flowers and flower arrangements. Diffenbaugh’s debut novel is built around this concept as the story’s central character, Victoria Jones, takes her early knowledge of flowers to gain her first job in a florist shop. The story alternates between her present 18 years and as a 9-year-old, abandoned-at-birth foster child with every imaginable scar from those early years—afraid of touching, hostile, introverted and unable to bond, and emotionally damaged. Shift to Victoria’s emancipation at 18 from the foster care system and her winsome offer to the owner of Bloom to arrange flowers as a pre-test for employment. Through her entrepreneurial success with flowers, we see Victoria begin to open up and to communicate with, and even to help, others. Although the shifting time periods can be somewhat confusing at first, the reader settles into the characters and their growth. Diffenbaugh studied creative writing at Stanford and has taught art and writing to youth in low-income communities. She founded the Camellia Network, a support group for foster children and families—clearly a cause close to her heart.
Recommended by Susan Hopwood, Outreach Librarian
The Memory of Love
Aminatta Forna. (New York: Atlantic Monthly, c2010)
A winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Best Book Award for 2011, this novel is a poignant, powerful, and beautifully written exploration of the aftermath of war. In the early 2000s, a few years after Sierra Leone's brutal civil war ends, Adrian, a middle-aged British psychologist, has come to work in Freetown's hospital. He begins with only one patient, Elias Cole, an odd old man dying of respiratory disease, whose motivation for seeking counseling is unclear. He is befriended by Kai, a young surgeon in the hospital. Then he begins finding a few more friends, a few more patients, and even a lover in the young musician Mamakay. In the novel’s present, there is little action: it is through the flashbacks of Elias’s life-story, and Adrian’s friendships with Kai and Mamakay that reveal the links between past and present. Indeed, the one character who seems a little contrived is Adrian, but his presence makes the connections between Elias, Kai and Mamakay visible. His general ignorance allows the reader to see the dilemmas of ordinary people who have survived horrific circumstances—survived sometimes through incredible suffering and feats of mental compartmentalization, sometimes through inaction or omission, and sometimes through participation. Forna is a gifted writer whose style has an almost stream-of-consciousness feel that allows the reader to slip easily into the characters’ points of view. But she teases too, and only reveals the end of the story when she’s ready. And somehow she finds hope in the persistence of love, even after death.
Recommended by Valerie Beech, Research & Instructional Services
Raylan: A Novel
Elmore Leonard (New York: William Morrow, 2012)
Fans of the FX series “Justified” take note. Legendary crime novelist Elmore Leonard created U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens prior to the birth of the television show in which he is the protagonist. Featured in several prior novels and the story “Fire in the Hole,” Raylan is an old-fashioned lawman in a modern world. He follows his own code—and his quick trigger. Indeed, it’s punishment for a “justifiable” shooting that sends him home to Harlan County, where meth labs and pot fields share the landscape with evil mining companies. Now Leonard has re-entered Raylan’s backwoods Kentucky world, recasting this newest novel as a sort of alternate version of several plot lines he gave the series writers. Threads from show and book collide, intertwine, and grow but don’t bear the same fruit. For instance, you’ll see the mine executive Raylan’s assigned to protect while she negotiates to ruin the land, but that plot ends differently. You’ll get the whole stolen kidney blackmail scheme almost in its entirety, though the backstory is altered. And you’ll get Leonard’s patented pantheon of colorful but deadly characters, as well as his keen ear for the pseudo-poetic cadence of the criminal voice. Familiar supporting characters such as Boyd Crowder and Dewey Crowe bump up against new ones such as Jackie Nevada and Layla the kidney thief. The novel works as a series tie-in, but stands well enough on its own to prove Elmore Leonard, at age 86, still has a head-lock on the best crime fiction.
Recommended by Bill Gagliani, Stacks Supervisor
What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank: Stories
Nathan Englander (New York: Knopf, 2012)
If you’ve heard about Nathan Englander’s new volume of short stories it’s likely that you’ve heard about the title story in which two Jewish couples play the “Anne Frank game.” It’s a game where they decide which of their Gentile friends would hide them when the next Holocaust comes. You hear about that story because, despite its complexity, it’s the easiest to explain. While most of the eight stories in this volume center around Jews, Jewish subject matter and issues, in the end the themes and concerns that Englander deals with have relevance beyond their Jewish settings. For example, in “Camp Sundown” Englander examines the issue of justice for Holocaust survivors but in doing so raises questions for all of us. When is an act justice and when is it retribution? When is a crime so heinous that an individual can be accuser, judge, and jury? “The Reader” explores the relationship between the Writer and the Reader and raises questions important for both members of the equation. In “Free Fruit for Young Widows,” set in contemporary Jerusalem, a father tells his son a story to explain some puzzling behavior on the father’s part. The boy is expecting a story of clear-cut right and wrong and instead gets something to puzzle over. Why? “Because to a story, there is context,” his father tells him. And telling your story and the stories of others matters. In “Everything I Know about My Family on My Mother’s Side,” the “cat-eyed and freckle-faced Bosnian” girlfriend tells the Englander look-alike, “What you do is tell the stories you have, as best you can.” Englander has taken her advice and has told his stories, as best as he can. And that is astonishingly well.
Recommended by Nick Schroeder, Senior Graphic Designer, Office of Marketing & Communication
The Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a
Candace Millard (New York: Doubleday, 2011)
Did you know that a guy named Chester Arthur was President of the United States? Meet him and other forgotten, but fascinating, figures from the Gilded Age in this engaging book about the assassination of President James A. Garfield, a few months after his inauguration in 1881. Arthur was Garfield's vice president.) The book reads more like a novel than history, with the author maintaining the narrative built around the assassin, the President, and the people who tried vainly to save him. Garfield emerges as an extraordinary man of intellectual depth and political brilliance, cut down in his prime. Despite the subject, the book is not mainly about politics, for it dwells more on the doctors, who should have been able to save him, on Alexander Graham Bell, who tried to invent a machine to find the bullet in his body, and on Garfield’s family, which endured through the insanity and intrigue of the moment, as the President fought for months against death. You will find this a fast, informative, and engrossing read.
Recommended by John Jentz, Research & Instructional Services Librarian
The Filter Bubble
Eli Pariser (New York: Penguin Press, 2011)
In this intriguing, quick read, Eli Pariser argues that as web companies strive to tailor their services, including news and search results, to our personal tastes, there's a dangerous unintended consequence: we get trapped in a "filter bubble" and don't get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. He warns that receiving only information a search algorithm thinks we want to see will result in the "ghettoization" of the web, leaving us susceptible to manipulation by marketers, politicians and the companies themselves. While the Internet began with the lofty goal of decentralizing knowledge control and providing anonymity, today it’s concentrating control over what we see and what opportunities we’re offered in the hands of fewer companies than ever before. Pariser argues that both the individual and the companies providing these services have a civic responsibility to provide a way out of the filter bubble and that the refrain“give the people what they want” is a brittle and shallow civic philosophy. Those interested in this topic, but not ready to dive into the book yet, should watch Pariser’s March 2011 TED Talk which provides a Cliff’s Notes version of his findings and fears.
Recommended by Eric Kowalik, Instructional Designer, Research & Instructional Services
George F. Kennan: An American Life
John Lewis Gaddis (New York, Penguin Press, 2011)
George F. Kennan’s life begins close at hand—he was born in Milwaukee in 1904, and grew up on Milwaukee’s East Side. His father, Kossuth Kent Kennan, was a well-off tax attorney who had traveled in Europe, recruiting immigrants for the Wisconsin Central Railroad, and his family tree included George Kennan, born in 1845, cousin of George F.’s grandfather. The older George Kennan had become an expert on Russia and helped advise Theodore Roosevelt on Russian affairs. In 1926 after graduating from Princeton, the younger Kennan began a long career in the Foreign Service, also becoming a Russian specialist and accompanying the new U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1933. Later, Kennan would argue that understanding Soviet behavior required more than an examination of Marxism and the psychologies of Lenin and Stalin. Soviet behavior, in Kennan’s view, was deeply rooted in Russian history and culture, especially literature in the writings of Tolstoy, Chekhov and Dostoevsky. Kennan warned the Department of State that the Soviet Union was a state that wanted to undermine U.S. domestic society while challenging the U.S. internationally. He assessed correctly that the U.S.S.R. was weaker than the West, partly because the Soviets had no established procedure for orderly political succession. Kennan thus became known as the father of the concept of containment, which he saw as an alternative to both appeasement and World War III. Gaddis, a Yale professor and noted historian of the Cold War, did exhaustive research on his subject and has vigorously presented Kennan in all his complexity in a very readable style. Gaddis first approached Kennan about the biography in 1982 and this volume came out many years later than Kennan and Gaddis expected, but they had agreed that in return for free access to the Kennan papers, including the right to photocopy (not granted other researchers), the biography would not be published for at least ten years. Although neither Kennan nor Gaddis explicitly stated that the biography was to be posthumous, they both had this reservation in mind; however, Kennan lived to the age of 101 and died in 2005. In an NPR interview, Gaddis related that Kennan would periodically apologize for still being alive and thereby obstructing publication of the biography. The book was selected by the New York Times Book Review as a “Notable Book of the Year” and it was also honored as the 2011 winner National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography.
Recommended by Alberto Herrera, Research & Instructional Services Librarian
God is Not One
Stephen Prothero (New York: HarperOne, 2010)
Religious people worldwide agree that something has gone awry in the world. They part company, however, when it comes to stating just what has gone wrong, and they diverge sharply when they move from diagnosing the human problem to prescribing how to solve it. In this book, Stephen Prothero, a professor of religion at Boston University, enlightens the reader about the differences and similarities between what he views as the world’s eight most influential religions (Islam, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Yoruba, Judaism and Daoism). Prothero utilizes a four-part approach to demonstrate how each of these rival religions addresses the human predicament—their problems, solutions, techniques, and examples. The author admits this model is simplistic, but his goal is to provide religious literacy about the basic beliefs and practices of the world’s religions, not sum up thousands of years of Christian faith or Buddhist practice in a few paragraphs. Prothero intends this work for believers and non-believers alike, and hopes the information provides readers foundational knowledge to allow them to engage in a constructive dialogue with people of other religions, something that is much needed in a world that has turned religious tolerance into a straightjacket of religious agreement.
Recommended by Eric Kowalik, Instructional Designer, Research & Instructional Services
Richard L. Graham (New York: Abrams ComicArts, 2011)
Mention the word “comic” or “graphic novel” and most people imagine unrealistic stories about superheroes or silly anthropomorphic animals. In Government Issue, Richard Graham demonstrates the usefulness of comics as educational tools by chronicling federal and state agency efforts, starting in the 1940s, to utilize comics to educate citizens about everything from jobs and money to health and safety. Even today the Federal Reserve continues to offer comic books explaining the intricacies of the Federal Reserve free to high school and college educators through its website. Graham curates a digital collection of government comics at the University of Nebraska Lincoln and his expertise shines through in the introductory essays before each of the four thematic chapters that provide the reader interesting and needed sociopolitical context. Each chapter reproduces a representative selection of official comics in full-reading format, as well as a broad range of excerpts and covers. Graham has done an excellent job shedding light on these important artifacts in the history of comic books and in the history of popular culture.
Recommended by Eric Kowalik, Instructional Designer, Research & Instructional Services
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
Susan Cain (New York: Crown Publishers, 2012)
The author covers a lot of territory as she explores introversion from many angles. She defines an “introvert” as someone who prefers quiet, minimally stimulating environments with regard to lights, noise, and social stimuli. “Extroverts” need higher levels of stimuli to feel their best. “Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone; extroverts need to recharge when they don’t socialize enough.” She cites research that shows introversion to be an inherently-based trait that continues into adulthood. Neurological pathways and neuro-chemicals differ among introverts and extroverts, making introverts more sensitive to external stimuli. Introverts relate to people in their own way and value closeness, preferring to spend time with one or two close friends rather than going to a loud party filled with strangers. Research indicates that most creative thinkers are usually introverts who value and are comfortable with solitude. The author notes that the U.S. is one of the most extroverted countries in the world. As a result, extroversion is idealized and introversion is devalued. Workplaces often have large, noisy open plans for maximum group interaction. Leaders are valued for their extrovert qualities and introverts are often not considered as leadership potential. The author cites research that indicates introverted business leaders tend to allow talented employees to develop their ideas without seeking the spotlight for themselves, and can produce better outcomes than extroverts; transformative introvert leaders include Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Einstein, Bill Gates, Larry Page (Google) and Steve Jobs. Introverts are encouraged to adopt some extrovert skills depending on the social and work demands in one’s environment in order to be more effective and develop one’s full potential. By focusing on the power and strengths of introverts, Cain helps introverts and extroverts understand and value one another.
Recommended by Kristina Starkus, Ordering-Receiving Librarian
Carl Corey (Madison, Wis.: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2011)
Tavern League makes for a great coffee table book as photographer Carl Corey captures a unique and important segment of the Wisconsin community, the local tavern. Long the communal gathering place, especially in rural areas, the tavern offers conversation, interaction among neighbors and friends and a sense of belonging. However, these taverns are undergoing a cultural shift as people become more physically isolated through technology-mediated social networking, and family-owned taverns are replaced by the noise and activity of impersonal sports and hipster bars. Corey’s photos are a mix of documentary photography and art, capturing the unique character of these taverns, but it would have been insightful to include a brief description of the taverns featured to provide better context for those who may not be as familiar with Wisconsin tavern culture. Many Marquette alumni I’ve spoken to say you get your degree at Marquette, but you get your education at the tavern. I hope “last call” for these taverns won’t come for many decades, as they provide more than just drinks.
George Harrison: Living in the
Olivia Harrison (New York: Abrams, 2011)
With beautiful photographs, moving quotations and biographical information, this book celebrates the extraordinary life of British singer/songwriter/musician George Harrison, whose solo music and his work in The Beatles is legendary. This serves as a companion to the recent Martin Scorsese-directed documentary and contains mementos from Harrison’s personal archives. The book is divided into the major phases of Harrison’s life beginning with his early years growing up in a working class family in 1940s war-torn England. His youth was filled with learning the guitar and then, as a teenager he joined a small band called the Beatles. World fame and mass hysteria would take their toll. Harrison was especially jarred by the crowds, as is evident from his correspondence. In a quest for inner peace, Harrison practiced meditation and Eastern religion and studied teachings from the Maharishi and the Hare Krishna. Photos of Harrison in India show he had become enamored of Indian culture and music. He studied the sitar with world-renowned musician Ravi Shankar, who became his mentor and friend. After the 1970 Beatles' breakup, Harrison went on to become a successful solo artist, releasing brilliant songs such as “What is Life,” “My Sweet Lord,” “All Those Years Ago,” and "Blow Away." In 2004 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Later, he collaborated with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne as the Traveling Wilburys. The book also contains photos of Harrison's beautiful home gardens and his family, his second wife, Olivia and their son, Dhani. In 2001 Harrison died of cancer at the age of 58. He is an influential figure in 20th century music and culture and remains an inspiration to many. He will forever be remembered for his musical talent, his humanitarian efforts, his quest for inner peace and spirituality, and for bringing Eastern religion, ideals, and music to Western audiences.
Recommended by Rose Trupiano, Research & Instructional Services Librarian
McCartney: a Life
Peter Ames Carlin (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009)
Sir Paul McCartney may be arguably the greatest and most influential songwriter and performer of our time. Few have achieved comparable world-wide fame and success in a career spanning over 50 years. Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, McCartney currently holds the record of top artist in the music industry earning 60 gold records and selling more than 100 million singles. Though credited to Lennon-McCartney, McCartney was primarily responsible for a number of iconic Beatles compositions, such as “Hey Jude,” “Let it Be,” “All My Loving,” “Here There and Everywhere,” “Two of Us,” “Blackbird,” “Birthday,” "Eleanor Rigby," and “Yesterday,” which holds the distinction of being the most recorded song with more than 3,000 covers. Rolling Stone lists the Beatles as the number one influential rock band and listed five Beatles LPs in the top 15 of the best albums of all times with the McCartney-inspired "Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band" at number one. Carlin’s biography discusses McCartney’s early upbringing in a working class family in Liverpool England, the death of Paul’s mother when he was 14, and the fortuitous meeting of an older teenager, John Lennon, with whom McCartney would form a strong bond as friends, songwriting partners and band mates. Carlin covers McCartney's work and contributions to the Beatles from the band’s early beginnings, the rise to fame, the stardom, the business side of their music, as well as later problems that led McCartney to sue his band mates to dissolve the group. Much of this is covered by a number of other Beatles biographies; however, this book goes beyond and discusses McCartney’s later life and music, including his solo work and the formation of his new band, Wings, which included his first wife, Linda, and his strained relationship with ex-band mate, John Lennon. McCartney’s family life is covered, including the death of Linda to cancer in 1999; his tumultuous marriage and divorce of Heather Mills; and McCartney’s humanitarian work for a number of charities. This book is recommended for McCartney or Beatles fans, providing an up-to-date, well-rounded view of the man who is regarded as an icon of 20th century popular music.
Recommended by Rose Trupiano, Research & Instructional Services Librarian
Right Here I See My Own Books: The Woman’s Building Library at the
World’s Columbian Exposition
Sarah Wadsworth and Wayne A. Wiegand (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2012)
Dr. Sarah Wadsworth, associate professor of English, has produced a fascinating work about the formation of an 8,000 book library for the Woman's Building at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The building was a popular attraction at the fair and its library was an historic attempt to collect a comprehensive library of books by women. The texts were interdisciplinary and illustrated the wide range of topics debated in the period—women's rights, gender, regionalism, race, and modernity. The extensive research data on authors and titles are publicly accessible in database format via e-Publications@Marquette for scholars of women's studies everywhere. Prof. Wadsworth's previous book is In the Company of Books; Literature and its "Classes" in Nineteenth-Century America (University of Massachusetts Press, 2006). Her teaching and research interests include children's literature, history of the book, 18th- and 19th-century American literature, and gender and reading.
Across That Dark River: The Civil War Memory
Thomas Martin Sobottke (Pewaukee, Wisc.: Moving Train Books, 2011)
Tom Sobottke, a Marquette History PhD alumnus (2008), has published a book focusing on the century and a half anniversary of the Civil War. To this day our nation still struggles with fully comprehending that time period and the war that tore the country apart, however briefly. Sobottke analyzes a wide variety of subjects and aspects of the Civil War, such as the subject of slavery at its center. Also, it examines the ultimate question, “how do we live the founding fathers’ basic belief ‘that all men are created equal’?” An historic narrative in the voice of Civil War veterans, Across That Dark River seeks to decipher the true meaning behind the conflict and how it affects our diverse culture and society today. Sobottke recently retired from Mukwonago High School, where he taught a course on the Civil War, among other social studies classes.
Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to
Victory in Afghanistan
Doug Stanton (New York: Scribner, 2009)
This book tells the generally unknown story of a band of Special Forces that entered Afghanistan after 9/11. They fought off the Taliban on horses as a cavalry, chasing the enemy across the country and capturing the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Doug Stanton had full cooperation of the Special Forces, was given battle reports, visited battlegrounds, and was allowed to interview the soldiers involved and their families. Horse Soldiers is highly researched, yet filled with human feeling and compassion. Among this amazing group of soldiers, is none other than Marquette alum U.S. Army Col. Mark E. Mitchell (B.S. Biomedical Engineering ’87), who was recently on campus for a Veterans Day event in which Marquette Army ROTC recognized his achievements, which included a Distinguished Service Cross for his actions in Afghanistan.
The Land of Give and Take
Tyler Farrell (Ireland: Salmon Poetry, 2012)
This recent addition to Tyler Farrell's work revisits themes he has written on in the past—age, religion, life, and contemplation. The poems allow readers to consider the bigger questions in life, often from the perspective of a wide array of characters. Farrell cites James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, and other Irish writers as his influences and he works them into his poems as characters or guides. Farrell was educated at the Jesuit institutions of Marquette University High School and Creighton University, finishing his education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Farrell is an adjunct professor in Marquette's English Department, teaching writing and literature.
On March 8 the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) presented its awards for publishing year 2011. Founded in 1974, the organization honors outstanding writing and fosters a national conversation about reading, criticism, and literature. The prizes are as follows and the full news release is available.
Fiction: Edith Pearlman, Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories (Lookout Books), a collection that was also nominated for the National Book Award.
Nonfiction: Maya Jasanoff, a Harvard professor of British history, for Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World (Knopf).
Biography: John Lewis Gaddis for George F. Kennan: An American Life (Penguin Press). See Ex Libris's recommendation in this issue, above.
Poetry: Laura Kasischke for Space, in Chains (Copper Canyon Press), a "formally inventive work that speaks to the horrors and delights of ordinary life in an utterly original way."
Autobiography: Mira Bartók, The Memory Palace: A Memoir (Free Press), "a book that rose to the formal challenge of blending her mother’s journals, reflections on her mother’s mental illness and subsequent homelessness, and thoughts on her own recovery from a head injury to create a heartfelt yet respectful work of art."
Criticism: Geoff Dyer, Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews (Graywolf Press).
The prestigious annual Bancroft Prize for historians was announced in March for three books published last year. The prize, established in 1948, carries a $10,000 award. Winners are below and the books are described here.
Empires, Nations, and Families: A History of the North American West, 1800-1860 (University of Nebraska Press) by By Anne F. Hyde
Age of Fracture (Harvard University Press) by Daniel T. Rodgers
Courage to Dissent: Atlanta and the Long History of the Civil Rights Movement (Oxford University Press) by Tomiko Brown-Nagin
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