In the Stacks: At the library - Nonfiction for your spare moments

Posted: Sunday, December 14, 2003

"Predators, Prey, and Other Kinfolk," by Dorothy Allred Solomon. Solomon grew up in the 1960s with her father, her mother, her father's three other wives and her 47 brothers and sisters. Her father's fundamentalist Mormon beliefs made the whole family a target for police raids, hate mail and, eventually, murder. Now, having broken from the fundamentalist sect, Dorothy recounts her early life.

"Breaking Ranks," by Ronit Chacham. This collection of essays, written by Israeli soldiers who are morally opposed to serving in the West Bank and Gaza, is a fascinating look at life inside Israel. Ignored by the Israeli press and marginalized by Israeli society, this group of "refuseniks" maintains that continuing to expand Israeli borders goes against the Zionist principles that their society holds dear. A brief introduction gives social and historical perspective to the stories that follow; an appendix of maps makes the conflicts clearer to visualize.

"My Jihad," by Aukai Collins. Collins, an Irish-American who became a Muslim while in prison, has seen and done it all. In his quest to embrace Islam, he journeyed to Chechnya and Bosnia and became a freedom fighter, and eventually found his way to one of Osama bin Laden's training camps in Afghanistan. But when the game changed from defending Muslims to attacking non-Muslim civilians, he opted out and became a covert operative for the U.S. government.

"America's Splendid Little Wars," by Peter Huchthausen. In analyzing the wars that the United States has involved itself in from 1975 and 2000, Huchthausen is clear, concise and non-partisan. He presents the engagements as they occurred, and explores the ways that outcomes could have changed with different decisions, newer technology and better cooperation between the various arms of the government. A great read for military historians and anyone with an interest in how today's armed forces have come to be.

"Rogue Nation," by Clyde Prestowitz. In the past few years, the American government has rejected land-mine elimination treaties, refused to work with NATO and the United Nations, and worked against the establishment of an International Criminal Court. America becoming a rogue nation? Prestowitz argues for a return to a broader awareness of the needs and goals of other nations, paired with more intelligent and thoughtful decision-making at all levels of government.

"Blood and Champagne," by Alex Kershaw. Robert Capa seemed destined to live an adventurous life, and, as this biography shows, his chosen career of photojournalism kept him at the forefront of the action. Born a Hungarian Jew in Budapest at the beginning of anti-Semitic hostilities, he made his way to Germany as a teen, arriving just as Hitler came to power. He became one of the world's finest war photojournalists and died in 1954 while taking photographs in Vietnam.

"Children of Kali," by Kevin Rushby. A crime wave hit India in the early 1800s - more than a million people were murdered by a gang of religious fanatics, members of the cult of Kali. The murders cemented the stereotype of Indians as deceitful savages in the minds of the British, political fallout was fierce, and the thugs were "exterminated". Rushby investigates the legends that surround the thug cult as well as the modern-day legends of a bandit named Veerappan, whose exploits, like those of the thugs, have been distorted for use by ruling powers. Part travel journal, part history and part philosophy.

"Understanding the Bible," by John A. Buehrens. For Buehrens, there are plenty of reasons to study the Bible. He believes that those who don't know how to interpret the Bible will have it done for them, that too few people today understand religious references in art and literature, and that entirely too many people reject the Bible as "oppressive," missing out on the creative and spiritual inspiration the Bible can provide. Buehrens' goal is to help "skeptics, seekers, and religious liberals" get beyond the superficial questions ("Is this historically true?") and into the enduring story.

"Mountains of the Mind," by Robert MacFarlane. Most people today agree that a mountain vista is a beautiful sight, but, hard as it is to believe, it was not always so. Until the mid-1700s, mountains were despised as deserts that "prevented the free range of the eye," and travelers (particularly in the Alps) often chose to be blindfolded and guided across the passes. MacFarlane traces the changes in society, art and literature that allowed a new perception of height, peaks and the rocks that form them.

• If you'd like to place a hold on any of these titles, call the Juneau Public Library at 586-5249. If you have Internet access, your library card and a PIN, you may place your own holds by going to our Web site ( and looking at our catalog. Placing holds on items featured in In the Stacks is now even easier. The new columns are hyperlinked to the catalog: simply look up the column, click on the title you want, and you will be ready to place a hold.

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