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Library's new nonfiction includes biographies, histories and more

Posted: Thursday, November 04, 2010

New non-fiction for adults includes bios of musicians and athletes, explorations of spirituality, and histories of America as seen through literature and The Pill.

Fur, Fortune, and Empire, by Eric Jay Dolin.

Was America settled in a grandiose vision of Manifest Destiny? Dolin argues that it was not: instead, he places the fur trade at the heart of the European drive across the continent. Even the Pilgrims, whom we think of as escapees from religious persecution, left the Old World for the New with commercial ventures in mind. Beaver, buffalo, fur-seals, and sea otters satisfied the colonies' need for economic independence, but all were eventually hunted to near extinction or lost their habitat to the incoming human populations and the livestock they brought with them. Covering 1550 through the 1900s, with a focus on the 1600-1800s, Dolin presents readers with an America seen through a new twist of the historical kaleidoscope.

The American Leonardo, by John Brewer.

In 1919, WWI veteran Harry Hahn returned to the United States with his French bride, Andree, and a wedding gift which they believed to be an authentic lost da Vinci painting. When Henry contacted the Duveen Brothers, dealers in New York, about the painting, Sir Joseph Duveen's response was unequivocal: sight unseen, he declared the painting a fake, at which point the Hahns sued him for slander. The heart of this book, though, is not the lawsuit, which dragged on for decades, but the changes that were taking place in the art world at that time, particularly in the area of authentication. Up until that time, paintings were declared authentic by appraisers trained to look for discrepancies in style, color, and subject, but now scientific advances made other forms of investigation possible and the appraiser no longer had the final word. By the end of this eye-opening book, readers will be wondering whether anything in an art gallery or museum is "real," and, moreover, whether it should matter.

Out on Your Feet, by Julie Welch.

England is a walker's paradise, criss-crossed with right-of-way paths over hills and through fields, and a day's leisurely walking can take you from one bed-and-breakfast to another. But once a year, bands of intrepid Brits gather together for non-stop, 100-mile walks across Britain in 48 hours. While Welch had run marathons and had been the editor for the Long Distance Walker's Association magazine, she only reluctantly got involved in walking. It started out innocently enough: a 20-mile weekend jaunt here, a 40-miler there, until she found herself poised for the big one. Can she carry enough moleskin, snacks, and water to get her through? Interwoven with Welch's story is that of the Long Distance Walker's Association itself and the athletes it has crowned. Oddly fascinating and full of anecdotes about what happens to one's feet (and other body parts) and mind during long treks.

Scent of the Missing, by Susannah Charleson.

When Charleson comes across a photo of an exhausted search-and-rescue handler with his dog, something about it resonates with her. A former pilot who flew search-and-rescues and who loves dogs, she decides to give it a try. After shadowing other teams and learning the ins and outs of working with SAR dogs, she finally gets her own puppy, a golden retriever named Puzzle, and then the work really begins. Puzzle and Charleson gradually come to trust each other and to understand each other's communication as well learning to conduct a thorough search and gaining the variety of physical skills that situations can demand. Charleson doesn't hide the fact that not all searches end well or the extensive training and commitment it takes to become a certified SAR handler in this wonderful and inspiring book.

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Kids: Put on your party pjs and snuggle in to the Valley Library this Friday, Nov. 5, at 6 p.m. for an evening of shivery, giggly, stories and snacks.

And adults: join us at the Douglas Library this Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. to talk about the book "Push," by Sapphire. The following Wednesday, same time, same place, come on back to watch and compare the movie adaptation, "Precious." Place your holds now!

And, all libraries will be closed this coming Thursday, Nov. 11, in honor of Veteran's Day.

For information about our upcoming programs, or to place a hold on any of our material, please visit us at www.juneau.org/library or call us at 586-5249.



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