Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bookview's April Edition is Posted

By Alan Caruba

For those of you who are avid readers, my monthly report on new non-fiction and fiction,, is posted for April and is filled with news about many new books you may not read about in the mainstream media. All manner of topics are covered, from politics to history, cookbooks to those about health, business topics, and some excellent new novels.

Below are "My Picks of the Month"

My Picks of the Month

I love reading history and for anyone trying to figure out the trends occurring worldwide there is no better way of understanding what is occurring now. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson ($30.00, Crown) addresses and answers questions that have stumped the experts for centuries. Acemoglu is the Killian Professor of Economics at MIT and Robinson is a political scientists and economist, an expert on Latin America and Africa, teaches at Harvard. The book is a hefty tome, but reads smoothly as the authors explore why some nations are wealthy and others are poor. One example is the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Some nations have had several revolutions without any real change in the way they are governed. Egypt is such an example. The authors address the question of whether America’s best days are behind it and whether China authoritarian growth machine is sustainable. Without giving away any secrets, the answer to the question of growth and failure is freedom. Put this book on your reading list this year. Charles Goyette has written Red and Blue and Broke All Over: Restoring America’s Free Economy ($25.95, Sentinel, an imprint of the Penguin Group) takes a look at our present crisis from a libertarian point of view and, not surprisingly concludes that the increasing size of government, crony capitalism, and too much spending has brought us to the brink of a financial crisis even greater than what occurred in 2008. It is a thought-provoking book and very timely. Sometimes you cannot improve on an author’s own description of what he has written. I am a fan of James D. Best’s novels based on the old West and the early days of the American Republic, so I was not surprised that he turned his hand to non-fiction to write Principled Action: Lessons from the Origins of the American Republic ($13.95, Wheatmark, Tucson, AZ, softcover). “Prior to 1776, world history was primarily written about kings and emperors. The American experiment shook the world. Not only did the colonies break away from the biggest and most powerful empire in history, they took the musings of the brightest thinkers of the Enlightenment and implemented them. The Founding of the United States was simultaneously an armed rebellion against tyranny and a revolution of ideas-ideas that changed the course of world history. Principled Action shows how the Founders built this great nation with sacrifice, courage, and steadfast principles.” There is no more important time in our present times to learn the how and why of the founding of our great republic. This highly readable book is a very good place to start.

I keep wondering if it is going to take another 9/11 for Americans to wake up to the threat of Islamo-fascism that exists within our very midst? Peter Feaman has written The Next Nightmare: How Political Correctness Will Destroy America ($14.99, Dunham Books, softcover) with a foreword by Congressman Allan West. It is a short read, but it is one that makes clear how the failure to recognize the spread of Islamic fanaticism within the nation continues to pose a threat to our society, noting how the number of mosques has gone from around fifty after World War II to more than 1,200 today and that many, if not most, are centers for radical Islamism, including recruiting efforts inside America’s prison population. How Americans cannot witness the assault by Muslim communities on European nations and not understand that it can and will happen here is suicidal. Put this one on your reading list! Of course, not all Muslims are plotting terrorism and Irshad Manji’s book, Allah, Liberty and Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom ($16.00, Free Press, softcover) reveals how, within Islam, many of its faithful are yearning for a reformation and greater tolerance of other faiths. The author gained notice with her bestselling book, “The Trouble With Islam Today”, and she makes her case for the need for change. She teaches “moral courage” and that is necessary for change from within and for the willingness to speak out against the imposition of Sharia law by terrorism that intimidates its victims and encourages its perpetrators. The United States has had a long history of dealing with the Middle East dating back to President Thomas Jefferson’s decision to respond to attacks on American ships by Barbary pirates (“to the shores of Tripoli”). In 1866, American missionaries founded a small college in Beirut, Lebanon that would later be renamed the American University of Beirut. Under the leadership of four generations of the Bliss and Dodge families, it became an influential institution of higher learning. It’s story is told in American Sheikhs by Brian VanDeMark ($25.00, Prometheus Books). Far more than just a family saga, it is the story of how the university graduated countless leaders, legislators, ambassadors, educators, scientists, doctors and businessmen whose lives and accomplishments played a significant role in the modern history of the Middle East. Anyone who loves to read history will enjoy this book.

Just out this month is the second edition of a terrific compendium of facts, The Handy Religion Answer Book by John Renard, PhD, ($21.95, Visible Ink, softcover) that provides a world of facts about the different faiths; what people believe and how their faith profoundly influences the way they act. It provides descriptions of major beliefs and rituals worldwide. This publisher also offers The Handy Science Answer Book ($21.95) now in its fourth edition. These books are treasuries of knowledge that will make you the smartest, best informed person in the room! For folks who like to find a lot of information in one spot, there’s International Affairs by Davis K. Thanjan ($22.95, Bookstand Publishing, Morgan Hill, CA, softcover). Nation by nation, the author has accumulated the most recent information with an emphasis of U.S. foreign policy and foreign relations. The result is a quick, short analysis of each nation’s economic and strategic importance in relationship to U.S. interests. It is a prodigious piece of research that puts the data at your fingertips and for anyone who wants to understand America’s position in the world today, it is filled with insights that would require tons of research that, happily, the author has done for you..

This is a political year and there are some 600,000 public offices up for election throughout the nation. Though it is not widely known, the majority of Americans self-identify as politically conservative. For them Craig Copland has written the 2012 Conservative Election Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Elect Conservatives from Dog Catcher to President ($14.95, available in various e-reader formats at and elsewhere). This is an excellent book that covers all aspects of planning, running, and winning an election. (It’s even available for free if you are a conservative running for office.) While its purpose is to elect conservatives, this book is so thorough that, it must be said, a liberal candidate would benefit just as much from it. I have seen a number of such books over the years and this qualifies as one of the best.

Animal lovers, particularly of horses, will love The Rescue of Belle & Sundance: One Town’s Incredible Race to Save Two Abandoned Horses by Birgit Stutz and Lawrence Scanlan ($22.00,Da Capo Press.) The horses had been abandoned on Mount Renshaw in Canada’s British Columbia province. Everything was fine until winter set in at which point a four-person effort to save them turned into a village-wide, week-long mission to dig a path off the mountain through six feet or more of snow to create an 18-mile descent to safety. It is a delightful story that is well worth reading. In December of last year I recommended The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe by Theodore Gray. It was rather pricey in its hardcover edition, but now for those who love science and learning, it is available in softcover for $19.95 (Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers) offering gorgeous photos of the 118 elements in the periodic table, packed with information about the building blocks of the universe. This is the kind of book that, in the hands of a young or old exploring mind, opens entire new vistas to our world, stimulating one’s sense of wonder.

Like everyone else, I like to dress fashionably and, frankly, have not given it much thought. Jessica Wolfendale and Jeanette Kennett have and the result is an interesting book, Fashion—Philosophy for Everyone ($19.95, Wiley-Blackwell, softcover). This is not one of your usual fashion books on what’s hot and what’s not. It is a serious look at the subject by two scholars, an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at West Virginia University and a Professor of Moral Psychology at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Together they explore the strong connection between fashion and the aesthetic of an era, the difference between the servile and sensible fashionista, the politics of individual style and fashion choices, and much more. It is a book for the intellectual fashionista and, believe it or not, a lot of fun to read. What I know about woman’s fashion you could put in a bug’s ear, but fortunately Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner, a practicing clinical psychologist and wardrobe consultant has written a book to help the fashion-challenged in time for the new spring line. You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal About You ($16.00, Da Capo Press, softcover) provides insights into the way your choices reflect inner struggles, fears, desires and dream. Her book’s nine chapters diagnose nine distinct shopping complaints and wardrobe mistakes from failing to dress one’s age to being a slave to labels. For anyone who approaches the purchase of new clothes either buying and spending too much or with a certain sense of dread, this is definitely the book to read!

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