A New Story Behind the Starry, Starry Night

For over 120 years, the world has thought it knew the story of the life and death of perhaps its most popular painter, Vincent van Gogh. But now, a new biography by Pulitzer prize-winning authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith may flip the art world's understanding of the troubled painter upside-down. After a 10-year forensic investigation involving a large team of assistants, the pair is questioning the until-now, accepted fact of Van Gogh's cause of death having been a suicide. They now believe he may have been shot by someone else.

A recent report from TV's 60 Minutes delves into the story behind the authors' research and why they've come to this conclusion. The story continues in part 2, and the website offers a virtual tour of some of Van Gogh's art.

Naifeh and Smith's new biography is being published today, so be sure to reserve your copy at the library for when it comes in.

In the meantime, check out these other great books about Van Gogh, his work or related movies.

Or take a look at some of Van Gogh's contemporaries and learn about some of the other impressionist artists and the movement itself.

The Eichmann Trial

Masterful writing and analysis with 50 years of hindsight grabs from the start as author Deborah E. Lipstadt recounts Adolf Eichmann’s capture in Argentina, the trial and, finally, the impact the proceedings generated worldwide.

The prosecution’s case, led by Israeli attorney general Gideon Hausner, set out to prove Eichmann’s claim of “just obeying orders” as a mid-level pencil pusher was a lie, using documentation, the testimony of interrogators, Eichmann’s own undeniable written recollections, and quite effectively, survivors’ testimony (most of whom never saw or even knew who Eichmann was).

Robert Servatius, a defense attorney previously at the Nuremberg Trials, represented Eichmann by objecting to the court’s jurisdiction, claiming no direct link to many atrocities, and oddly, asking the court “not to pardon and to forget” but to “heal wounds” by handing down a judgment that would erase the “blemish” caused by Israel’s abduction of Eichmann in Argentina.

Lipstadt’s strong suit is her analysis of the trial’s influence on concepts we think commonplace today that were not in 1961. The “We Must Never Forget” testimony of the survivors and the term “Holocaust” was cemented into worldwide consciousness, and the acceptance of universal jurisdiction for genocide provided direction to a world wrestling with meting out justice for barbaric acts of inhumanity.

Author Birthdays: Potter, Ashbery, Davis

July 28th marks the birthday of authors Beatrix Potter, John Ashbery, and Jim Davis.

Beatrix Potter was an English author known for her children's books, most notably The Tale of Peter Rabbit. There are actually over 20 tales of Peter Rabbit and his fellows, like Mrs. Tittlemouse and Mr. Tod.

Potter's other works include The Fairy Caravan, about a guinea pig who runs away from home to join the circus, and the sort-of-autobiography Letters to Children From Beatrix Potter, edited by Judy Taylor.

John Ashbery is an American poet. According to the Academy of American Poets, he has won nearly every major American award for poetry, and has quite a few other awards as well.

Ashbery's collections include the Griffin Poetry Prize winner Notes From the Air, and the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle and National Book Award winning Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.

Jim Davis is an American cartoonist. You've probably at least heard of his most famous strip, Garfield. In addition to the actual strip, he also helped to write and produce the many TV shows, specials, and CGI movies starring the lazy cat.

While his main cartoon is Garfield, Davis also wrote U.S. Acres, also called Orson's Farm, which you still might recognize if you have ever watched the animated series Garfield And Friends.

If you're looking for Summer Game points, try taking a look at some of those titles!

Author Birthdays: Stone, Garfield, Howatch

July 14th marks the birthday of authors Irving Stone, Leon Garfield, and Susan Howatch.

Irving Stone was an American historical fiction author. His most well known novel may be The Agony and the Ecstasy, a book about the Renaissance artist Michelangelo. The book was also made into a movie starring Charlton Heston.

Stone's main works are all fictionalized biographies. In addition to Michelangelo, he also wrote books on artists Vincent Van Gogh and Camille Pissarro. The novel of Van Gogh was also made into a movie.

Leon Garfield was a British children's historical fiction writer. He also adapted many Shakespearean tales for children, which we have in both written and audio formats, as well as the television show Shakespeare: The Animated Tales.

Garfield's original works include Smith, which is about a 18th century London pickpocket, and The Empty Sleeve, a ghost story featuring protagonist twins.

Susan Howatch is a British fiction writer known for her family sagas and religious themes. Her most popular series is probably the Starbridge Series of six books about a fictional Anglican diocese called Starbridge. The first book in the series is Glittering Images.

Howatch also wrote many stand-alone books. These include The Waiting Sands, which Library Journal described as "three tales of romantic suspense," and Penmarric, a novel set in medieval Cornwall.

Author Birthdays: Heinlein, Eddings, McCullough

July 7th marks the birthday of authors Robert A. Heinlein, David Eddings, and David McCullough.

Robert A. Heinlein was an American author of science fiction and first winner of the Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement. He still holds the record for winning the most Hugo Awards for Best Novel, awarded for Double Star, Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and the Retro winner Farmer in the Sky.

Heinlein also had a few Hugo Best Novel short-listed books: Have Space Suit--Will Travel, Glory Road, Time Enough for Love: The Lives of Lazarus Long, Friday, and Job: A Comedy of Justice.

David Eddings was an American writer mostly known for his fantasy series. Many of these series, including The Dreamers, were co-written with his wife, Leigh.

Eddings also wrote some non-fantasy novels. Regina's Song, also written with his wife, is a fictional work about twins and their relationships. Booklist called it "a story of murder and revenge sporting supernatural overtones."

David McCullough is an American author and historian, and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has also won the Pulitzer twice for his biographies of Harry S. Truman and John Adams. The HBO television series John Adams and the film Truman were both based on his books.

McCullough has also written non-biographies. His The Path Between The Seas : The Creation Of The Panama Canal, 1870-1914 won four awards in 1978. Library Journal noted that in it "McCullough's careful research and genius for narrative come brilliantly through."

Author Birthdays: de Saint-Exupéry, Toland, Fallaci

June 29th marks the birthday of authors Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, John Toland, and Oriana Fallaci.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was a French author most known for his children's fairy tale The Little Prince. The story has also been turned into a graphic novel and opera.

de Saint-Exupéry also wrote some things for adults, including the memoir Wind, Sand and Stars and the posthumous The Wisdom of the Sands, printed four years after his disappearance in 1944.

John Toland was an American historian, known for his works on WWII, especially the Pulitzer-winning The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945. He also wrote a book on the Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese. In regards to the Japanese people, he was known to have said, "You don't have to take sides. All you have to do is get people's motivations."

Toland also wrote a biography of Adolf Hitler; in order to write the book, he actually interviewed people who had known Hitler. The biography is thought to be something of a "myth-buster."

Oriana Fallaci was an Italian writer and journalist, and opponent of the fascist regime during WWII. Interviews with History and Conversations with Power was compiled after her death and includes interviews with powerful leaders.

Fallaci also wrote some fictional works. These include A Man, which is a historical novel based upon the would-be assassin of a Greek leader, and Inshallah, a novel about Italian soldiers stationed in Beirut.

Author Birthdays: Haggard, Remarque, Brown

June 22nd marks the birthday of authors H. Rider Haggard, Erich-Maria Remarque, and Dan Brown.

H. Rider Haggard, also known as Sir Henry Rider Haggard, was an English author, mainly known for his works featuring the character Allan Quartermain, most notably the novel King Solomon's Mines.

Haggard's writing and characters have been the basis for many things: Quartermain was the prototype for Indiana Jones; his character Ayesha influenced psychologists and other writers; and his adventurous story lines influenced the "Lost World" genre's later writers.

Erich-Maria Remarque was a German author. His best known work was the WWI novel All Quiet on the Western Front, which was also made into a film.

Remarque's other novels include The Night in Lisbon, which tells the story of German refugees during the beginning of WWII, and Arch of Triumph, which was also made into a movie (starring Ingrid Bergman).

Dan Brown is an American novelist, best known for his book The Da Vinci Code, and the other novels starring the character of Robert Langdon.

Brown's first novel was Digital Fortress, which, like The Da Vinci Code, features code-breaking, though the main character is a mathematician rather than a "symbologist." In 2007, Brown also published a memoir about his work as a New York teacher.

Ben Franklin on Video

The Ben Franklin exhibit continues!

Obviously, there are many documentaries on Ben Franklin. One from the History Channel not only features Ben, it also has a snippet from the series Save our History. Another from the History Channel includes a small printed study guide. Ben is even the main subject of one of the discs of the channel's The Founding of America series.

There are also some more interesting DVDs we have that include Ben. Liberty's Kids, a chidlren's TV series from 2002 has Ben as one of its main characters. There is also a short Disney production based on the book Ben and Me.

Two characters that have been named after the real Ben are Benjamin Franklin Pierce, from M*A*S*H, and Benjamin Franklin Gates, from National Treasure.

My personal favorite is either the "Ben Franklin" episode of The Office, or the musical film 1776, starring Howard Da Silva as our beloved Ben.

Author Birthdays: Lorca, Scarry, Drabble

June 5th marks the birthday of authors Federico García Lorca, Richard Scarry, and Margaret Drabble.

Federico García Lorca was a Spanish poet and playwright who is believed to have been killed during the Spanish Civil War. Some of his unpublished poems and essays were collected in a volume in 1998, A Season in Granada; the overall theme of the collection is Granada, where Lorca was supposedly killed.

Lorca's works also include: In Search of Duende, which describes theories on dance, music, and bullfights; the play Yerma, which was made into a Spanish language film; and a collection of his letters, which gives a sort of autobiography of his life.

Richard Scarry was an American author and illustrator of children's stories. His most well-known works include those about Busytown, a place inhabited by animals.

Scarry wrote for many ages; we have board books, picture books, and readers. We even have some of his works in Chinese.

Margaret Drabble is an English writer of novels and biographies, as well as some other assorted non-fiction subjects. Of these non-fiction works, AADL has a biography of Angus Wilson (a fellow novelist), and a book on jigsaw puzzles, The Pattern in the Carpet.

Drabble's novels include: The Red Queen, which details the story of a London woman who receives an unpublished memoir of a Korean princess; The Seven Sisters, which Library Journal noted as having "a character who describes herself accurately as having 'much to be ashamed about'"; and The Millstone, set in 1960s London.

Book Discussion : "The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin"

Please join us for a discussion of The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin on Wednesday June 8, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Leading historian of the American Revolution Gordon S. Wood's illuminating portrait of BF is more of a study than a biography. It follows the twists and turns of Franklin's life - from the commoner to the gentlemen, from Royalist to Patriot - with great insight. We come to see Franklin as complex and often contradictory, and much more interesting than the "mythology that has blinded generations of American to the man he really was".

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