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2017-11-30

By the Book at the Bandera Library

by Michael Garr

Book Reviews
by Michael Garr,
Bandera Library Director

I am excited by the arrival of some new non-fiction releases that have come in during this past week at the Bandera Library. Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger give us “Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans.” Publisher Marketing says, “The War of 1812 saw America threatened on every side. Encouraged by the British, Indian tribes attacked settlers in the West, while the Royal Navy terrorized the coasts. By mid-1814, President James Madison's generals had lost control of the war in the North, losing battles in Canada. Then British troops set the White House ablaze, and a feeling of hopelessness spread across the country.
Into this dire situation stepped Major General Andrew Jackson. A native of Tennessee who had witnessed the horrors of the Revolutionary War and Indian attacks, he was glad America had finally decided to confront repeated British aggression. But he feared that President Madison's men were overlooking the most important target of all: New Orleans.” I have taken the NPS tour of the battlefield along the Mississippi. When it is not underwater, it is a very beautiful site.
John Prados is getting a lot of media buzz about his latest, “The Ghosts of Langley,” a provocative and panoramic new history of the Central Intelligence Agency. It is described as a contemporary look behind the curtain and includes conversations with our newest President.
“Dollars and Sense—How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter” is written by Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler. What better book to read before rushing to the stores to spend money you don’t have for Christmas presents? It explores a wide range of everyday topics-from the lure of pain-free spending with credit cards to the pitfalls of household budgeting to the seductive power of holiday sales. The authors discuss how our spending habits lead us astray.

The last book this week is Stephen R. Bown’s “Island of the Blue Foxes—Disaster and Triumph of the World’s Greatest Scientific Expedition.” There is nothing more enjoyable than reading about an exploration that I have never heard of. One reviewer said, “Inspired by the European Enlightenment, Peter the Great and his successor Empress Anna sent Danish navigator Vitus Bering 5,000 miles eastward across Siberia, then another 3,000 miles across the Pacific to the unknown coasts of North America, decades before Captain Cook's well-known voyages. Bering left his name on a sea and a strait, and his naturalist Steller identified dozens of unknown plants and animals in the New World” This adventure takes place in 1741-42. A perfect read on a cold winter’s night!
In next week’s column, I’ll try to highlight our new children’s collection of holiday titles, having just received 40 new books for this coming season. And be sure to set aside either Saturday, Dec. 16, or Tuesday, Dec. 19, for our annual “Twas the Night before Christmas” event featuring Expert Storyteller, Jon Kindred. He will regale children of all ages with his popular Christmas verses and tales. Until the next column, read well and be safe!