Author Birthdays: Hersh, Kingsolver, Okorafor-Mbachu

April 8th marks the birthday of authors Seymour Hersh, Barbara Kingsolver, and Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu.

Seymour Hersh is an American award-winning journalist and author. Many of his articles were written for The New Yorker. He won a Pulitzer in journalism for his writing on the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War.

Hersh's books include a biography of JFK, called The Dark Side of Camelot, which portrays the late president as reckless, and was very controversial after its publication. He also wrote Chain Of Command: The Road From 9/11 To Abu Ghraib, which discusses topics like the torture and mistreatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib.

Barbara Kingsolver is a multi-award-winning American author, whose latest novel was the popular The Lacuna, which won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2010.

Kingsolver's best known work might be The Poisonwood Bible, which is about a missionary family who moves to the Belgian Congo in the mid-20th century. Her most interesting book, in my opinion, might be her non-fiction book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year Of Food Life, which outlines Kingsolver and her family as they attempt to eat solely locally-grown food for one year.

Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu is a Nigerian-American fantasy writer. Her newest book, Who Fears Death, was nominated for the Nebula Award in 2010.

Okorafor-Mbachu has written some young adult novels, which may be of interest to many teens in world literature classes who are looking for something a bit more modern than the classics. Her novel The Shadow Speaker is set in a futuristic West Africa and relays the tale of a girl with magical powers who is seeking vengeance.

Triangle Waist Factory Fire of 1911

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Today (March 25) marks the 100-year anniversary of the deadly Triangle Waist Factory Fire in New York City which claimed 146 lives, mostly of young immigrant workers; and to this day, ranks as one of the worst disasters in labor history.

Located in the Asch Building, at northern corner of Washington Square,The Triangle Waist Company was in many ways a typical sweatshop - low wages, excessively long hours, and unsanitary and dangerous working conditions. Check out the story at the Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations archival and research resources that include eyewitness accounts, victim list, and photo images.

Over the years, the fire has been the subject for documentary filmmakers, historians and novelists. Best among them is award-winning author Katharine Weber's Triangle* * (2007).

Esther Gottesfeld is the last living survivor of the fire where 150 workers died in the sweatshop inferno. Even though she has told her story countless time, her death at the age of 106 leaves unanswered many questions about what happened that fateful day - the day she lost her sister and her fiance, the day her life changed forever.

Esther's granddaughter, Rebecca, and George, her partner, a prizewinning composer, seek to unravel the facts of the matter, while at the same time Ruth Zion, a zealous Triangle fire historian, bores in on them with her own mole-like agenda.

"As in a symphony, the true story of what happened at the Triangle factory is declared in the first notes - yet it is fully revealed only when we've heard it all the way through to its find chords."

* * = Starred reviews

U-M Taubman College Presents "The Future of History"

A conference organized by the U-M Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning is coming up April 1-2 in Rackham Amphitheater, 915 E. Washington St. "The Future of History" will bring together theorists, designers, practitioners and historians to discuss how architecture has played a role in history, and also how history interprets architecture. The gathering begins April 1 at 4:30 pm, with doors open at 4:15 pm. On April 2, doors open at 8 am. Presentations and hosted conversations are free and public.

The Richest Horse Race in the World

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Bookmakers say no clear favorite has emerged to win the $10 million Dubai World Cup this Saturday allowing it to shape up into a very exciting race filled with equine and human drama. Entries include horses from the United Arab Emirates, United States, Japan, England, Ireland, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and the Chechen Republic.

Japan has three horses entered including Buena Vista (Japan’s 2010 Horse of the Year), who arrived in Dubai well before the earthquake and tsunami hit. She is a very popular horse in a country wild about horse racing. Many hope a win by her (the only female in the field) will cheer on the tragedy-struck country.
One of the six horses considered to have a legitimate stake to win the world’s richest purse, South Africa’s Bold Silvano sadly was scratched from the race after pulling up lame in a training run on Monday.
England is expecting big things from Twice Over, back-to-back winner of this year’s Champion Stakes at Newmarket, who was beaten in just over three lengths in last year's Dubai World Cup, as he returns to fill out the exciting field.
American challengers include Gitano Hernando, Fly Down and Kentucky-bred Gio Ponti.

And now for the human race: the Jaguar Style Stakes includes 2011 Dubai World Cup “Best Dressed Lady”, “Best Dressed Couple”, “Best Hat” and for the first time “Best Dressed Man.”

To learn more about the rich and thrilling Sport of Kings try The Blood-Horse Authoritative Guide, History of Thoroughbred Racing in America, and Funny Cide : How a Horse, a Trainer, a Jockey, and a Bunch of High School Buddies took on the Sheiks and Blue Bloods--and Won.

Here are some fantastic racing films: Secretariat, Seabiscuit, National Velvet, and The Black Stallion.

Culinary Historian Andrew F. Smith Discusses His New Books: "Starving the South: How the North Won the Civil War" and "Potato: A Global History"

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Sunday March 27, 2011: 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Nationally-known culinary historian Andrew F. Smith will make a special appearance to discuss his two new books. Join us to learn about Smith's fascinating gastronomical look at the war and its legacy in "Starving the South: How the North Won the Civil War." And hear about the captivating tale of an allegedly lowly vegetable that continues to change the world in "Potato: A Global History."

You may have heard or seen Smith interviewed on radio and television, including National Public Radio, Discovery, the History Channel, and the Food Network. Take advantage of this opportunity to see him live at the library!

This event, which will include a book signing, is cosponsored by the Culinary Historians of Ann Arbor. Books will be on sale at the event.

Author Lev Raphael Discusses His Memoir "My Germany"

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Monday March 28, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Haunted by his parents' suffering and traumatic losses under Nazi rule, Lev Raphael was certain that Germany was one place in the world he would never visit. So, what happened when he was invited to speak there about his books?

In his memoir, "My Germany", Raphael unravels the past of his parents and their families during wartime. By traveling through the emotional and physical landscapes of Germany and his family's past, Raphael experiences forgiveness, self-growth, and a better understanding of his Jewish heritage.

Lev Raphael is a pioneer in writing fiction about America's Second Generation, publishing his first short story about children of survivors in 1978. Join us to listen to his story - and you may find yourself inspired to trace your own family history.

Teen (and Parent) Magazine Update -- Home Schooling, Conspiracy Theorists and Luchador Socks

image by Odin Fotografia, Flickr.comimage by Odin Fotografia, Flickr.com
As winter and spring duke it out for supremacy, a beautiful new collection of magazines has blossomed in our teen room. Check out these lovely flowers:

For Teens:
Audrey -- All about Actress Olivia Munn, plus an article on the presence of Asian-Americans in mainstream TV shows.

ESPN Magazine -- See athletes strut their stuff in this special Style Report, in more ways then one, plus Derrick Rose shows off his luchador socks.

Rolling Stone -- Where else can you see Snooki, rock star Sammy Hagar and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in the same place? Plus, 2011's coolest new faces.

Sorry, parents, I've only got one magazine for you this time, but it's a good one:
Home Education Magazine has ideas on teaching your kids about gardening and food, as well as a list of books for Women's History Month!

Get out your umbrella and come check out these cool magazines!

Read Behind the Headlines in North Africa

With citizens revolting in Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Algeria, Djibouti, and Morocco, first drafts of history are being written every day in the media. If, as a reader, you're seeking a deeper understanding of the region, check out North Africa: A History from Antiquity to the Present, by Phillip Naylor, who teaches history at Marquette University in Milwaukee. Published in 2009, the book concludes with a section on "The Peril and Promise of North Africa."

Ladies of the Lights

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What was life like for a lighthouse keeper on the Great Lakes? Find out when Patricia Majher, author of Ladies of the Lights: Michigan Women in the U.S. Lighthouse Service visits the library on Thurs., Mar. 3, 7-8:30 PM at the Downtown Library.

This most unusual occupation, especially for women, isn't very well-known even though the United States Coast Guard maintains a list of all the women who were employed as lightkeepers calling them "trailblazers."

In addition to being a fine author, Patricia is also editor of Michigan History Magazine which is published by the Historical Society of Michigan. The Historical Society of Michigan is dedicated to preserve, protect, interpret and celebrate the rich and diverse history of our state

Author Birthdays: Shirer, Cornwell, Sandford

February 23rd marks the birthday of authors William L. Shirer, Bernard Cornwell, and John Sandford.

William L. Shirer was an American writer of mostly non-fiction history books. Much of his works focus on Nazi Germany, which isn't surprising, considering he was a WWII journalist who actually reported from Berlin. Part of his book 20th Century Journey called "The Nightmare Years", about his time in Germany, was made into a TV movie with Law & Order star Sam Waterston playing the journalist.

Shirer's "This is Berlin" is a collection of his radio broadcasts from said city. As noted by Library Journal, it gives "the reader a sense of the drama and tension of 'history as it happens'". He also wrote a diary of the days leading up to the war.

Bernard Cornwell is an English historical novelist, best known for his novels centered on character Richard Sharpe, which take place during the Napoleonic Wars. They were also adapted into a television series.

Cornwell has also written stories in the times of Saxon and Arthurian Britain, and the American Civil War. His latest, The Fort, published last year, is a tale of the Revolutionary War, more specifically, of the Penobscot Expedition.

John Sandford (born John Camp) is an American journalist and novelist, probably best known for his Prey series, featuring the character Lucas Davenport. His newest novel, Buried Prey, is in this series and comes out in May.

Sandford's other works include the novel Dead Watch, which has been called "full of suspense, political intrigue, and violence" by Library Journal; you can also see some of his journalistic exploits on his website.

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