Historic Michigan: Author appearance Oct. 5

Here's a good book to take along if you're touring Michigan and might enjoy witnessing some of our state history: Michigan's County Courthouses, by John Fedynsky. The author -- a Ferndale lawyer and Michigan assistant attorney general -- wrote about 83 courthouses, plus the Michigan Hall of Justice. On Oct. 5 (Tuesday) from 7-8:30pm, he appears at U-M Hatcher Library, in the University of Michigan Press Author Series.

Hidden Gems: Books Unjustly Dusty #8 David Halberstam

HalberstamHalberstam

About three years ago pulitzer-prize winning journalist and historian David Halberstam was killed in a car accident. He wrote many important books about America's wars and social movements.
The Boston Globe called his The Best and the Brightest "The most comprehensive saga of how America became involved in Vietnam..." Written in 1972 it stands as a must read to begin an understanding of our involvement in that war.
The Children chronicles the civil rights movement by focusing on young people in the movement and their use of non-violent civil disobedience. He was a reporter for The Tennessean and witnessed many of the events firsthand. Again, this book stands as a must read to begin a good understanding of the civil rights struggle in this country.
Published posthumously, The Coldest Winter clearly explains the Korean War in a compelling manner; a war many Americans know little about.

Anything by David Halberstam is too good to be getting dusty!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #222

One critic calls it "the smart modern woman's The Da Vinci Code", while I am not quite sure of the comparison, Anne Fortier's Juliet* does offer readers "a sweeping, beautifully written novel of intrigue and identity, of love and legacy, as a young woman discovers that her own fate is irrevocably tied—for better or worse—to literature’s greatest star-crossed lovers".

25-year-old Julie Jacobs is heartbroken over the death of her beloved Aunt Rose. But the shock goes even deeper when she learns that while her twin Janice inherits Aunt Rose's estate, Julie is left with a key to a safety deposit box in Siena, promising her a legendary treasure left to her by her mother, and the knowledge that she's actually a Tolomei, and a direct descendant of Giulietta - the historical Juliet immortalized by Shakespeare.

As Julie tries to unravel the clues to the treasure left in her mother's notebook, she fears others have an interest in her progress and she might indeed be in danger, and that the 600-year-old curse of "A plague on both your houses" might still be at work. She really needs her Romeo. Now, could he be the dark, handsome and prickly policeman Sandro Santini?

Anne Fortier grew up in Denmark and emigrated to the United States in 2002 to work in films. The story of Juliet was inspired by her mother. The rights to this, her debut novel, have been sold to 29 countries.

For fans of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, and The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant, romantic thrillers steeped in history and gorgeous settings.

* = starred review

Hidden Gems: Books Unjustly Dusty #7

titanictitanic

A new Titanic expedition organized by RMS Titanic Inc. and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is taking place right now. They plan to map the 3-mile long debris field, inventory the thousands of artifacts remaining on the sea floor and build highly-detailed 3D maps of the hulk. You can follow their tweets at Twitter-RMS Titanic.

The new expedition happens just in time to renew interest in these classics that have become just a bit dusty.

Titanic: An Illustrated History is a beautifully done book that takes you from the construction of the Titanic at Belfast’s shipyard of Harland & Wolff to the eerie photographs of the tragic wreckage 13,000 feet below on the Atlantic floor.

Titanic: The Last Great Images which Robert Ballard describes as a book with the "cleanest, clearest images... all in high definition."

This unjustly dusty entry Titanic is a bit of an oddity. Filmed in 1943 it is a German World War II propaganda retelling of the sinking of the Titanic.

Author Birthdays: Parker & Bradbury

August 22nd marks the birthday of authors Dorothy Parker and Ray Bradbury.

Dorothy Parker was an American poet and satirist, noted for being a "wisecracker". She was a founding member of the famous Algonquin Round Table, and was even put on the Hollywood blacklist for being a suspected communist in the McCarthy era.

Parker's poems were published in magazines such as Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. The Nation said that her voice is, "caked with a salty humor, rough with splinters of disillusion, and tarred with a bright black authenticity." The New York Times published an obituary for her in 1967. In it, Alden Whitman wrote, "Miss Parker was a little woman with a dollish face and basset-hound eyes, in whose mouth butter hardly ever melted. It was a case, as Alexander Woollcott once put it, of 'so odd a blend of Little Nell and Lady Macbeth.'"

Ray Bradbury is an American novelist, best known for writing the dystopian Fahrenheit 451. In honor of his sci-fi greatness, Wikipedia notes that "an asteroid is named in his honor, "9766 Bradbury", along with a crater on the moon called "Dandelion Crater" (named after his novel, Dandelion Wine)."

However, Bradbury also wrote fantasies, horrors, and mysteries. Among the horrors is Something Wicked This Way Comes, which tells the story of a pair of 13-year-old boys who encounter a creepy traveling carnival. Bradbury's mysteries include a trilogy, narrated by an unnamed screenwriter. The first is Death is a Lonely Business, and it focuses on a string of murders in Venice, CA.

Happy Bastille Day!

Storming the BastilleStorming the Bastille

Le quatorze juillet is Bastille Day in France.

Bastille Day is the celebration of the storming of the Bastille prison by French revolutionaries in 1789. Because the prison represented that which the Revolution was against, it was torn down, brick by brick, by the French people. Its governor, Bernard-René de Launay, was taken prisoner by the mob and killed, becoming one of the first men beheaded for the Revolution.

The destruction of the Bastille led to the recall of King Louis XVI's ex-finance minister, Jacques Necker, whom the people felt was the only man in power sympathetic to their problems and desires.

So, head on down to the Champs-Élysées (or the Upper East side of Manhattan, if that's closer), look at a nice Monet, grab a generous hunk of bread, and wait for the fireworks on the Eiffel Tower in celebration.

The Baader Meinhof Complex

Covering the early days of the German Red Army Faction (RAF / Rote Armee Fraktion), The Baader Meinhof Complex (also in blu-ray) follows the militant group from student protest days onward to the German Autumn. The movie follows the leaders of the group and while criticized for being centered around them, shows the violence of the group and that period. Trailer is below.

A similar militant group in America, the Weathermen, was also active around the same time. The documentary The Weather Underground follows the the US-based militant group including their bombing of the US capitol.

Your Tudor Tutor

Today would be the 501st anniversary for King Henry VIII and his first wife, Catharine of Aragon. I'm not sure what the correct present is for that specific anniversary, but I don't know that I'd be accepting whatever it would be from Henry.

King Henry VIII has fascinated many people, though, regrettably, mostly because of his six marriages (two of which ended in divorce, and two more in beheading). However, it may interest you that these are not his only...accomplishments.

Some notable books on the Tudor king which do not focus on his matrimonial issues include The Last Divine Office: Henry VIII And The Dissolution Of The Monasteries and Henry VIII: The King And His Court.

However, if you'd like to go the more traditional route, you'll have plenty of choices: The Wives of Henry VIII, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, and Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII among them.

Of course, there are also historical fiction books that contain the infamous king. While they are not necessarily as accurate as the non-fiction, they are just as entertaining, if not more so. The oldest of these would be Shakespeare's play, given the regal name Henry VIII. Among the more recent, there is the "autobiography" by Margaret George, as well as the well-known The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. Though, my personal favorite is not a book at all, but the Showtime television series The Tudors.

You may even want to take a look at his children. Each one showed off one bit of his overbearing personality. And I can guarantee one of them is probably just as interesting as he was.

BBC Historical Drama: Part 4

Part 4 – Sarah Waters, William Golding, Anne Bronte, Thomas Hardy, Flora Thompson, John Balderston

Lately, I've been reading a lot of historical fiction based in England. With images from those books/novels in mind, I started checking out different historical dramas, the best of which I've seen are from BBC. Step into the 1800s and get involved of the lives of Nan Astley, Edmund, Helen Graham, Fancy Day, and Laura Timmins!

Tipping the Velvet is a colorful passionate drama about a lesbian, Nan Astley, and the relationships she finds, including one with her music hall co-star, Kitty. When Kitty decides to marry a man, Nan must find a way to survive the heartbreak of her first love. The book the screenplay was adapted from shares the same title and was written by Sarah Waters.

Based off of William Golding’s unforgettable sea trilogy, To the Ends of the Earth tells the story of a young aristocrat that sets sail to a new governmental post in Australia. However, Edmund soon discovers how naïve and unaware he is hurtling into this adventure.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a miniseries based off of one of the published works of lesser known Bronte sister, Anne Bronte. In this controversial (at the time it was written) story, Helen Graham tries to rescue herself and her son from her husband who has become a lecherous drunk.

Under the Greenwood Tree is a light romance, a bit different that better known works by Thomas Hardy. Fancy Day is a young woman who comes home to take care of her ailing father. She returns home to her small village, to the unexpected advances of three distinct gentlemen.

Developed from Flora Thompson’s trilogy, Lark Rise to Candleford, is an ongoing BBC Series that’s in its third season. In this series, Laura Timmins moves from the smaller village of Lark Rise, to the larger town of Candleford, to live with her cousin and find work. Laura finds herself surprised at the vast difference of the pace of life and scandals that occur in Candleford in comparison with Lark Rise.

Berkeley Square tells a story from an early 20th century perspective, more specifically; 1902 (had to throw this in the mix!). Berkeley Square is actually based on a play written by John L. Balderston. In this play and miniseries, three young nannies get jobs with well-to-do London families in this coming-of-age-tale that has been compared with Road to Avonlea.

If you’ve missed previous parts of my BBC Historical Drama blog, you can find them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Stolen Art!

The Pigeon with PeasThe Pigeon with Peas

According to an article from CNN, five paintings were stolen last night at the Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris in Paris, France.

CNN also said that officials did not name the paintings stolen, but the press put out their own listing:

"'Le Pigeon aux Petits Pois' (Pigeon with peas) by Picasso
'La Pastorale' (The Pastoral) by Matisse
'L'Olivier pres de l'Estaque' (Olive Tree near the Estaque) by Braque
'La femme a l'eventail' (Woman with Fan) by Modigliani
'Nature morte aux chandeliers' (Still Life with Candlesticks) by Leger."

We have many books here at the library on art theft, including The Rescue Artist : A True Story Of Art, Thieves, And The Hunt For A Missing Masterpiece, which discusses the 1994 theft of "The Scream" by Edvard Munch, The Gardner Heist : The True Story Of The World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft, which examines the 1990 heist of $600 million worth of paintings from Boston's Gardner Museum, and Museum Of The Missing : A History Of Art Theft, which discusses art theft throughout history. Though, perhaps the most interesting is the true story of the theft of the "Mona Lisa" in 1911, which you can read about in Vanished Smile : The Mysterious Theft Of Mona Lisa

Perhaps this is a good time to do some brushing up on your art and art thievery knowledge. Who knows, you may find the missing paintings with a little help from some reading.

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