I have yet to figure out how Dorothy Wickenden, managing editor of The New Yorker, found time to delve so deeply into her grandmother’s trove of letters from the early part of the 20th century and piece together the entertaining and enlightening Nothing Daunted (Scribner, $26). From letters and interviews, Wickenden recounts how, after graduating from college, two upscale young women from Auburn, New York (one of them Dorothy’s grandmother) ignored the conventions of the day (to marry and have children) and became teachers in what was still the American frontier. The book traces their experiences of life in a homestead community on the western slope of the Rockies. Artfully written, Nothing Daunted is a story of adventure, independence, geography, romance, and social adaptability. A great read!

Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West Cover Image
ISBN: 9781439176580
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Scribner - June 21st, 2011

Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West Cover Image
ISBN: 9781439176597
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - April 24th, 2012

David Willman’s The Mirage Man (Random House, $27) has not gotten the attention it deserves, perhaps because some of those in Willman’s cross-hairs are his fellow journalists. But this is an important piece of investigate reporting by a Pulitzer Prize- winning (and old-school) investigative reporter for The Los Angeles Times. In exploring the bizarre events and investigation surrounding the anthrax attacks after 9/11, Willman’s reporting shows how and why the people and institutions—from politicians to the news media to the FBI—entrusted with the protection of the public, failed in their duties. In the hands of such a skilled reporter, the story becomes a cautionary tale as much as an exposé. We learn from The Mirage Man what happens when emotion, hysteria, and collective psychology infuse judgment and decision-making. And we are reminded that it is not simply institutions, or laws, or regulations that must work to protect the public. It is rational, dispassionate thinking on the part of human beings—and reliance on good old- fashioned evidence—that are desperately required.

The Mirage Man: Bruce Ivins, the Anthrax Attacks, and America's Rush to War Cover Image
ISBN: 9780553807752
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Bantam - June 7th, 2011

When I picked up this book, I had my doubts.  The Whole Damn Deal: Robert  Strauss and the Art of Politics (PublicAffairs, $29.99) is about political rainmaker Robert Strauss, and the author, Kathryn F. McGarr is his great-niece. Then I started reading. And I couldn’t stop. Not only is Strauss endlessly interesting (especially to those of us who suffered through the Democratic Party’s struggles and triumphs in the late 20th century), his great-niece is a terrific researcher who knows how to weave a tale. She is a young Stanford grad and aspiring historian whose book grew out of her studies at Columbia Journalism School. And while she can’t conceal her affection for the man she is writing about, she refused to give him editorial license, working hard to maintain her literary independence without severing her family ties. The end result is a fascinating—and highly entertaining—chronicle of one of Washington’s most skillful, colorful, and irrepressible players. One can’t help wondering after reading this book: What if Bob Strauss were pulling America’s political strings today?

The Whole Damn Deal: Robert Strauss and the Art of Politics Cover Image
ISBN: 9781586488772
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: PublicAffairs - October 11th, 2011