New Nonfiction – June 2020

A Garden Miscellany: An Illustrated Guide to the Elements of the Garden, Suzanne Staubach

Do you know a folly from a ha-ha? Can an allée be pleached? Does a skep belong on a plinth? Answers to these questions—plus a gazebo-ful of information, stories, and visual delights—await in this charming exploration of the stuff gardens are made of. Garden historian Suzanne Staubach covers everything from arbors to water features, reveling in the anecdotes that accompany each element. Filled with revelations and fanciful illustrations by Julia Yellow, A Garden Miscellany promises new discoveries with each reading—a book to be returned to again and again.

Down from the Mountain: The Life and Death of a Grizzly Bear, Bryce Andrews

The story of a grizzly bear named Millie: her life, death, and cubs, and what they reveal about the changing character of the American West.

The grizzly is one of North America’s few remaining large predators. Their range is diminished, but they’re spreading across the West again. Descending into valleys where once they were king, bears find the landscape they’d known for eons utterly changed by the new most dominant animal: humans. As the grizzlies approach, the people of the region are wary, at best, of their return.

Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America, Scott Adams

Even the smartest people can slip into loserthink’s seductive grasp. This book will teach you how to spot and avoid it–and will give you scripts to respond when hollow arguments are being brandished against you, whether by well-intentioned friends, strangers on the internet, or political pundits. You’ll also learn how to spot the underlying causes of loserthink, like the inability to get ego out of your decisions, thinking with words instead of reasons, failing to imagine alternative explanations, and making too much of coincidences.

Brothers Down: Pearl Harbor and the Fate of the Many Brothers Aboard the USS Arizona, Walter R. Borneman

The surprise attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 remains one of the most traumatic events in American history. America’s battleship fleet was crippled, thousands of lives were lost, and the United States was propelled into a world war. Few realize that aboard the iconic, ill-fated USS Arizona were an incredible seventy-nine blood relatives. Tragically, in an era when family members serving together was an accepted, even encouraged, practice, sixty-three of the Arizona’s 1,177 dead turned out to be brothers. In Brothers Down, acclaimed historian Walter R. Borneman returns to that critical week of December, masterfully guiding us on an unforgettable journey of sacrifice and heroism, all told through the lives of these brothers and their fateful experience on the Arizona. Weaving in the heartbreaking stories of the parents, wives, and sweethearts who wrote to and worried about these men, Borneman draws from a treasure trove of unpublished source material to bring to vivid life the minor decisions that became a matter of life or death when the bombs began to fall. More than just an account of familial bonds and national heartbreak, what emerges promises to define a turning point in American military history.

Consider the Women: A Provocative Guide to Three Matriarchs of the Bible, Debbie Blue

Among the mostly male-dominated narratives in Scripture, the stories of women can be game-changing. In this book Debbie Blue looks closely at Hagar (mother of Islam), Esther (Jewish heroine), and Mary (Christian matriarch)–and finds in them unexpected and inviting new ways of navigating faith and life.

As she sets out to explore these biblical characters who live and move in places and ways outside of the strict boundaries of tradition, Blue encounters many real life characters who challenge her expectations and renew her hope–a Muslim tattoo artist, a Saudi Arabian sculptor, a rabbi in a Darth Vader costume, Aztec dancers at a feast of Guadalupe, an Islamic feminist scholar, and more.

Readers who embark with Blue on the sometimes unorthodox, subversive paths of these curious and lively figures will be led to envision more expansive and hopeful possibilities for faith, human connection, and love in our divided, violent world.

Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic, Sam Quinones

From a small town in Mexico to the boardrooms of Big Pharma to main streets nationwide, an explosive and shocking account of addiction in the heartland of America.

In 1929, in the blue-collar city of Portsmouth, Ohio, a company built a swimming pool the size of a football field; named Dreamland, it became the vital center of the community. Now, addiction has devastated Portsmouth, as it has hundreds of small rural towns and suburbs across America–addiction like no other the country has ever faced. How that happened is the riveting story of Dreamland.

With a great reporter’s narrative skill and the storytelling ability of a novelist, acclaimed journalist Sam Quinones weaves together two classic tales of capitalism run amok whose unintentional collision has been catastrophic. The unfettered prescribing of pain medications during the 1990s reached its peak in Purdue Pharma’s campaign to market OxyContin, its new, expensive–extremely addictive–miracle painkiller. Meanwhile, a massive influx of black tar heroin–cheap, potent, and originating from one small county on Mexico’s west coast, independent of any drug cartel–assaulted small town and mid-sized cities across the country, driven by a brilliant, almost unbeatable marketing and distribution system. Together these phenomena continue to lay waste to communities from Tennessee to Oregon, Indiana to New Mexico.

Introducing a memorable cast of characters–pharma pioneers, young Mexican entrepreneurs, narcotics investigators, survivors, and parents–Quinones shows how these tales fit together. Dreamland is a revelatory account of the corrosive threat facing America and its heartland.

Fire and Fortitude: The US Army in the Pacific War, 1941-1943, John C. McManus

John C. McManus, one of our most highly-acclaimed historians of World War II, takes readers from Pearl Harbor–a rude awakening for a ragtag militia woefully unprepared for war–to Makin, a sliver of coral reef where the Army was tested against the increasingly-desperate Japanese. In between were nearly two years of punishing combat as the Army transformed, at times unsteadily, from an undertrained garrison force into an unstoppable juggernaut, and America evolved from an inward-looking nation into a global superpower.

The Ghost Ships of Archangel: The Arctic Voyage That Defied the Nazis, William Geroux

On the fourth of July, 1942, four Allied ships traversing the Arctic split from their decimated convoy to head further north into the ice field of the North Pole. They were seeking safety from Nazi bombers and U-boats in the perilous white maze of ice floes, growlers, and giant bergs. Despite the many risks of their chosen route, the four vessels had a better chance of reaching their destination than the rest of the remains of convoy PQ-17. The convoy had started as a fleet of thirty-five cargo ships carrying $1 billion worth of war supplies to the Soviet port of Archangel–the only help Roosevelt and Churchill had extended to Joseph Stalin to maintain their fragile alliance against Germany. At the most dangerous point of the voyage, the ships had received a startling order to scatter and had quickly become easy prey for the Nazis.

The crews of the four ships focused on their mission. U.S. Navy Ensign Howard Carraway, aboard the SS Troubadour, was a farm boy from South Carolina and one of the many Americans for whom the convoy was a first taste of war; from the Royal Navy Reserve, Lt. Leo Gradwell was given command of the HMT Ayrshire, a British fishing trawler that had been converted into an antisubmarine vessel. The twenty-four-hour Arctic daylight in midsummer gave them no respite from bombers or submarines, and they all feared the giant German battleship Tirpitz, nicknamed the “Big Bad Wolf.” Icebergs were as dangerous as Nazis as the remnants of convoy PQ-17 tried to slip through the Arctic to deliver their cargo in one of the most dramatic escapes of World War II. At Archangel they found a traumatized, starving city, and a disturbing preview of the Cold War ahead.

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places, Colin Dickey

Dickey, piqued by a house hunt in Los Angeles that revealed derelict foreclosures and “zombie houses,” embarks on a journey across the continental United States to decode and unpack the American history repressed in our most famous haunted places. With boundless curiosity, Dickey conjures the dead by focusing on questions of the living — how do we deal with stories about ghosts, and how do we inhabit and move through spaces that have been deemed haunted? Paying attention not only to the true facts behind a ghost story, but also to the ways in which changes are made to those facts and why, Dickey paints a version of American history left out of the textbooks, one of things left undone and crimes left unsolved.

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be, Rachel Hollis

If you have ever said any of these things to yourself . . .

  • Something else will make me happy.
  • I’m not a good mom.
  • I will never get past this.
  • I am defined by my weight.
  • I should be further along by now.

. . . then you could benefit from the unflinching faith and rock-hard tenacity Rachel Hollis has in store for you. In this challenging but conversational book, Rachel exposes the twenty lies and misconceptions that too often hold us back from living joyfully and productively, lies we’ve told ourselves so often we don’t even hear them anymore.

Rachel is real and talks about real issues. More than that, she reveals the specific practical strategies that helped her move past them. In the process, she encourages, entertains, and even kicks a little butt, all to convince you to do whatever it takes to get real and become the joyous, confident woman you were meant to be. Because you really can live with passion and hustle – and give yourself grace without giving up.

In the Waves: My Quest to Solve the Mystery of a Civil War Submarine, Rachel Lance

On the night of February 17, 1864, the tiny Confederate submarine HL Hunley made its way toward the USS Housatonic just outside Charleston harbor. Within a matter of hours, the Union ship’s stern was blown open in a spray of wood planks. The explosion sank the ship, killing many of its crew. And the submarine, the first ever to be successful in combat, disappeared without a trace.

For 131 years the eight-man crew of the HL Hunley lay in their watery graves, undiscovered. When finally raised, the narrow metal vessel revealed a puzzling sight. There was no indication the blast had breached the hull, and all eight men were still seated at their stations–frozen in time after more than a century. Why did it sink? Why did the men die? Archaeologists and conservationists have been studying the boat and the remains for years, and now one woman has the answers.

In the Waves is much more than just a military perspective or a technical account. It’s also the story of Rachel Lance’s single-minded obsession spanning three years, the story of the extreme highs and lows in her quest to find all the puzzle pieces of the Hunley. Balancing a gripping historical tale and original research with a personal story of professional and private obstacles, In the Waves is an enthralling look at a unique part of the Civil War and the lengths one scientist will go to uncover its secrets.

Knit Vibe: A Knitter’s Guide to Creativity, Community, and Well-Being for Mind, Body & Soul, Vickie Howell

Vickie Howell, the DIY channel’s popular queen of fiber, pens a love letter to knitting with The Knit Vibe–a book like no other–with interviews, patterns, and an in-depth look at the knitting community and the creative potential of knitting. Dive into a special section on the health benefits of the craft, catch a glimpse of knitting’s superstars in conversation with Howell, or try your hand at loads of how-tos and projects from the likes of Bristol Ivy, Kaffe Fassett, Diva Zappa, Amy Small, and many more.

“Pick up some yarn, start where you are, get creative” is the message Howell weaves through the book and her online series, The Knit Show. Gathering inspiration from all facets of the knitting universe, the book offers chapters on The Makings (go-to knitted gifts), The Surroundings (cool projects for your knitting space), and The Intention (vibe-y rituals, yoga, and self-care all every knitter–and would-be knitter–craves).

Last Witnesses: An Oral History of the Children of World War II, Svetlana Alexievich

This is Svetlana Alexievich’s collection of the memories of those who were children during World War II. These men and women were both witnesses and sometimes soldiers as well, and their generation grew up with the trauma of the war deeply embedded in them–a trauma that would forever change the course of the Russian nation … Alexievich gives voice to those whose stories are lost in the official narratives, creating [an] alternative history from the personal and private experiences of individuals. Collectively, these voices provide a kaleidoscopic portrait of the human consequences of the war.

Mending Life: A Handbook for Repairing Clothes and Hearts, Nina and Sonya Montenegro

Mending Life is a beautifully illustrated, practical tool kit for repairing the clothes and belongings we love. It is also an exploration of how mending can be a gently healing practice in our daily lives and a small act of rebellion in a world where many things are discarded without thought.

Mending Life encourages us to cherish our things by repairing them rather than discarding them. It also encourages us to change our consumption habits so that with small mends here and there, we extend the life of our garments and other household items. This handbook is for beginners but also offers more advanced techniques to those with some experience in mending.

You’ll learn basic techniques such as patching, but will have options to take it a step further with decorative sashiko stitching; you’ll also learn how to darn socks and mend sweaters, as well as things like a tear in a bedsheet or down jacket. And along the way, the authors share heartfelt stories about the powerful act of mending, which strengthens not only the object we are repairing, but ourselves as well. Vibrant, full-color illustrations are woven throughout the handbook.Mending Life is a timeless, practical guide to cherishing and caring for our belongings.

Midnight Chicken: & Other Recipes Worth Living for, Ella Risbridger

There are lots of ways to start a story, but this one begins with a chicken. There was a time when, for Ella Risbridger, the world had become overwhelming. Sounds were too loud, colours were too bright, everyone moved too fast. One night she found herself lying on her kitchen floor, wondering if she would ever get up – and it was the thought of a chicken, of roasting it, and of eating it, that got her to her feet and made her want to be alive. Midnight Chicken is a cookbook. Or, at least, you’ll flick through these pages and find recipes so inviting that you will head straight for the kitchen: roast garlic and tomato soup, uplifting chilli-lemon spaghetti, charred leek lasagne, squash skillet pie, spicy fish finger sandwiches and burnt-butter brownies. It’s the kind of cooking you can do a little bit drunk, that is probably better if you’ve got a bottle of wine open and a hunk of bread to mop up the sauce. But if you settle down and read it with a cup of tea (or a glass of that wine), you’ll also discover that it’s an annotated list of things worth living for–a manifesto of moments worth living for. This is a cookbook to make you fall in love with the world again.

A Monument to Dynasty and Death: The Story of Rome’s Colosseum and the Emperors Who Built It ( Witness to Ancient History ), Nathan T. Elkins

Early one morning in 80 CE, the Colosseum roared to life with the deafening cheers of tens of thousands of spectators as the emperor, Titus, inaugurated the new amphitheater with one hundred days of bloody spectacles. These games were much anticipated, for the new amphitheater had been under construction for a decade. Home to spectacles involving exotic beasts, elaborate executions of criminals, gladiatorial combats, and even–when flooded–small-scale naval battles, the building itself was also a marvel. Rising to a height of approximately 15 stories and occupying an area of 6 acres–more than four times the size of a modern football field–the Colosseum was the largest of all amphitheaters in the Roman Empire.

In A Monument to Dynasty and Death, Nathan T. Elkins tells the story of the Colosseum’s construction under Vespasian, its dedication under Titus, and further enhancements added under Domitian. The Colosseum, Elkins argues, was far more than a lavish entertainment venue: it was an ideologically charged monument to the new dynasty, its aspirations, and its achievements.

A Monument to Dynasty and Death takes readers on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Colosseum from the subterranean tunnels, where elevators and cages transported gladiators and animals to the blood-soaked arena floor, to the imperial viewing box, to the amphitheater’s decoration and amenities, such as fountains and an awning to shade spectators. Trained as an archaeologist, an art historian, and a historian of ancient Rome, Elkins deploys an interdisciplinary approach that draws on contemporary historical texts, inscriptions, archaeology, and visual evidence to convey the layered ideological messages communicated by the Colosseum. This engaging book is an excellent resource for classes on Roman art, architecture, history, civilization, and sport and spectacle.

Sacred Duty: A Soldier’s Tour at Arlington National Cemetery, Tom Cotton

An extraordinary journey behind the scenes of Arlington National Cemetery, Senator Tom Cotton’s Sacred Duty offers an intimate and inspiring portrait of “The Old Guard,” the revered U.S. Army unit whose mission is to honor our country’s fallen heroes on the most hallowed ground in America.

Cotton was a platoon leader with the storied 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment–The Old Guard–between combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the height of the Iraq Surge, he carried the flag-draped remains of his fallen comrades off of airplanes at Dover Air Force Base, and he laid them to rest in Arlington’s famed Section 60, “the saddest acre in America.” He also performed hundreds of funerals for veterans of the Greatest Generation, as well as the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

The Old Guard has embodied the ideals of honor and sacrifice across our nation’s history. America’s oldest active-duty regiment, dating back to 1784, The Old Guard conducts daily military-honor funerals on the 624 rolling acres of Arlington, where generations of American heroes rest. Its soldiers hold themselves to the standard of perfection in sweltering heat, frigid cold, and driving rain. Every funeral is a no-fail, zero-defect mission, whether honoring a legendary general or a humble private.

In researching and writing the book, Cotton returned to Arlington and shadowed the regiment’s soldiers, from daily funerals to the state funeral of President George H. W. Bush to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, reliving the honor–and the challenges–of duty at the nation’s “most sacred shrine.”

Part history of The Old Guard, part memoir of Cotton’s time at Arlington, part intimate profile of the today’s soldiers, Sacred Duty is an unforgettable testament to the timeless power of service and sacrifice to our nation.

South: Essential Recipes and New Explorations, Sean Brock

The promise of South is irresistible. Fried chicken, shrimp and grits, biscuits, pickles, collards, and sweet potato pie from the bestknown chef of one of the world’s most beloved cuisines. This collection of recipes for the home kitchen shares the very best versions of the foods we love from the author of Heritage, winner of both James Beard and IACP awards, and a New York Times bestseller with over 106,000 copies in print. Brock is also a serious student of Southern cuisine, a leader in reclaiming heirloom and indigenous ingredients, and an evangelist who convincingly argues that Southern food, so vibrant, diverse, seasonal, and evolving, is as good as any in the world, especially in its virtues of simplicity, thrift, and comfort–exactly what cooks want. In more than 125 recipes, Brock shares the essentials, from snacks like boiled peanuts and fried green tomatoes to the pillars of Southern cooking–not just the aforementioned fried chicken, but also SheCrab Soup, Grilled Catfish with Hoppin’ John, and Dirty Rice–plus dozens of vegetable and bean dishes, cornbread four different ways, and desserts like Buttermilk Pie and Blackberry Cobbler. He also includes the basics–such as pepper sauce, bacon jam, and BBQ rub–and some real Southern knowledge, including a Country Ham Road Map, How to Cook a Pot of Greens, and Taking Care of Cast Iron. And all of it is delivered with the voice, the knowledge, and the passion of an author who is himself, like the cuisine he champions, a Southern treasure.

Three Women, Lisa Taddeo

Hailed as “a dazzling achievement” ( Los Angeles Times) and “riveting page-turner that explores desire, heartbreak, and infatuation in all its messy, complicated nuance” ( The Washington Post), Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women has captivated readers, booksellers, and critics–and topped bestseller lists–worldwide.

In suburban Indiana we meet Lina, a homemaker and mother of two whose marriage, after a decade, has lost its passion. Starved for affection, Lina battles daily panic attacks and, after reconnecting with an old flame through social media, embarks on an affair that quickly becomes all-consuming. In North Dakota we meet Maggie, a seventeen-year-old high school student who allegedly has a clandestine physical relationship with her handsome, married English teacher; the ensuing criminal trial will turn their quiet community upside down. Finally, in an exclusive enclave of the Northeast, we meet Sloane–a gorgeous, successful, and refined restaurant owner–who is happily married to a man who likes to watch her have sex with other men and women.

Based on years of immersive reporting and told with astonishing frankness and immediacy, Three Women is both a feat of journalism and a triumph of storytelling, brimming with nuance and empathy. “A work of deep observation, long conversations, and a kind of journalistic alchemy” (Kate Tuttle, NPR), Three Women introduces us to three unforgettable women–and one remarkable writer–whose experiences remind us that we are not alone.

The Wild Dyer: A Maker’s Guide to Natural Dyes with Projects to Create and Stitch, Abigail Booth

Fabrics colored with natural dyes have a beauty and subtlety all of their own. Onion and avocado skins, chamomile and birch bark, and nettles and acorns can produce lovely, ethereal colors and effects. The Wild Dyer demystifies this eco-conscious art, focusing on foraging and growing dying materials; repurposing kitchen trimmings; making and using long-lasting dyes; and creating stitched projects. Workspace setup, equipment, and fabric choices and care are all discussed. Beautiful photographs and easy-to-follow instructions illustrate how to make eight exquisite household items, from a drawstring bag to a gardener’s smock and a reversible patchwork blanket. The Wild Dyer is a complete guide for both beginners and experienced artists seeking to expand their knowledge of this increasingly popular craft.

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