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Colonial America presented a new world of natural curiosities for settlers as well as the London-based scientific community. In American Curiosity, Susan Scott Parrish examines how various peoples in the British colonies understood and represented the natural world around them from the late sixteenth century through the eighteenth. Parrish shows how scientific knowledge about America, rather than flowing strictly from metropole to colony, emerged from a horizontal exchange of information across the Atlantic.

Delving into an understudied archive of letters, Parrish uncovers early descriptions of American natural phenomena as well as clues to how people in the colonies construed their own identities through the natural world. Although hierarchies of gender, class, institutional learning, place of birth or residence, and race persisted within the natural history community, the contributions of any participant were considered valuable as long as they supplied novel data or specimens from the American side of the Atlantic. Thus Anglo-American nonelites, women, Indians, and enslaved Africans all played crucial roles in gathering and relaying new information to Europe.

Recognizing a significant tradition of nature writing and representation in North America well before the Transcendentalists, American Curiosity also enlarges our notions of the scientific Enlightenment by looking beyond European centers to find a socially inclusive American base to a true transatlantic expansion of knowledge.

Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2009

The New Historicism of the 1980s and early 1990s was preoccupied with the fashioning of early modern subjects. But, Jonathan Gil Harris notes, the pronounced tendency now is to engage with objects. From textiles to stage beards to furniture, objects are read by literary critics as closely as literature used to be. For a growing number of Renaissance and Shakespeare scholars, the play is no longer the thing: the thing is the thing. Curiously, the current wave of "thing studies" has largely avoided posing questions of time. How do we understand time through a thing? What is the time of a thing?

In Untimely Matter in the Time of Shakespeare, Harris challenges the way in which we conventionally understand physical objects and their relation to history. Turning to Renaissance theories of matter, Harris considers the profound untimeliness of things, focusing particularly on Shakespeare's stage materials. He reveals that many "Renaissance" objects were actually survivals from an older time—the medieval monastic properties that, post-Reformation, were recycled as stage props in the public playhouses, or the old Roman walls of London, still visible in Shakespeare's time. Then, as now, old objects were inherited, recycled, repurposed; they were polytemporal or palimpsested.

By treating matter as dynamic and temporally hybrid, Harris addresses objects in their futurity, not just in their encapsulation of the past. Untimely Matter in the Time of Shakespeare is a bold study that puts the matériel—the explosive, world-changing potential—back into a "material culture" that has been too often understood as inert stuff.
In this brilliant, strikingly original book, historian John Lukacs delves to the core of Adolf Hitler's life and mind by examining him through the lenses of his surprisingly diverse biographers.

Since 1945 there have been more than one hundred biographies of Hitler, and countless other books on him and the Third Reich. What happens when so many people reinterpret the life of a single individual? Dangerously, the cumulative portrait that begins to emerge can suggest the face of a mythic antihero whose crimes and errors blur behind an aura of power and conquest. By reversing the process, by making Hitler's biographers--rather than Hitler himself--the subject of inquiry, Lukacs reveals the contradictions that take us back to the true Hitler of history.

Like an attorney, Lukacs puts the biographies on trial. He gives a masterly account of all the major works and of the personalities, methods, and careers of the biographers (one cannot separate the historian from his history, particularly in this arena); he looks at what is still not known (and probably never will be) about Hitler; he considers various crucial aspects of the real Hitler; and he shows how different biographers have either advanced our understanding or gone off track. By singling out those who have been involved in, or co-opted into, an implicit "rehabilitation  of Hitler," Lukacs draws powerful conclusions about Hitler's essential differences from other monsters of history, such as Napoleon, Mussolini, and Stalin, and--equally important--about Hitler's place in the history of this century and of the world.
Literary criticism -- American history

Even before mass marketing, American consumers bought products that gentrified their households and broadcast their sense of the good things in life.

Bridging literary scholarship, archaeology, history, and art history, "Whitewashing America: Material Culture and Race in the Antebellum Imagination" explores how material goods shaped antebellum notions of race, class, gender, and purity.

From the Revolutionary War until the Civil War, American consumers increasingly sought white-colored goods. Whites preferred mass-produced and specialized products, avoiding the former dark, coarse, low-quality products issued to slaves. White consumers knit around themselves refined domestic items, visual reminders of who they were, equating wealth, discipline, and purity with the racially white.

Clothing, paint, dinnerware, gravestones, and buildings staked a visual contrast, a portable, visible title and deed segregating upper-class whites from their lower-class neighbors and household servants.

This book explores what it meant to be white by delving into the whiteness of dishes, gravestone art, and architecture, as well as women's clothing and corsets, cleanliness and dental care, and complexion.

Early nineteenth-century authors participated in this material economy as well, building their literary landscapes in the same way their readers furnished their households and manipulating the understood meanings of things into political statements.

Such writers as James Fenimore Cooper and John Pendleton Kennedy use setting descriptions to insist on segregation and hierarchy. Such authors as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Herman Melville, struggled to negotiate messages of domesticity, body politics, and privilege according to complex agendas of their own. Challenging the popular notions, slave narrators such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs wielded white objects to reverse the perspective of their white readers and, at times, to mock their white middle-class pretensions.

Bridget T. Heneghan, a lecturer in English at Vanderbilt University, has been published in "Nineteenth-Century Studies."

When the multitalented biographer Edmund Morris (who writes with equal virtuosity about Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, Beethoven, and Thomas Edison) was a schoolboy in colonial Kenya, one of his teachers told him, “You have the most precious gift of all—originality.” That quality is abundantly evident in this selection of essays. They cover forty years in the life of a maverick intellectual who can be, at whim, astonishingly provocative, self-mockingly funny, and richly anecdotal. (The title essay, a tribute to Reagan in cognitive decline, is poignant in the extreme.)
 
Whether Morris is analyzing images of Barack Obama or the prose style of President Clinton, or exploring the riches of the New York Public Library Dance Collection, or interviewing the novelist Nadine Gordimer, or proposing a hilarious “Diet for the Musically Obese,” a continuous cross-fertilization is going on in his mind. It mixes the cultural pollens of Africa, Britain, and the United States, and  propogates hybrid flowers—some fragrant, some strange, some a shock to conventional sensibilities.
 
Repeatedly in This Living Hand, Morris celebrates the physicality of artistic labor, and laments the glass screen that today’s e-devices interpose between inspiration and execution. No presidential biographer has ever had so literary a “take” on his subjects: he discerns powers of poetic perception even in the obsessively scientific Edison. Nor do most writers on music have the verbal facility to articulate, as Morris does, what it is about certain sounds that soothe the savage breast. His essay on the pathology of Beethoven’s deafness breaks new ground in suggesting that tinnitus may explain some of the weird aural effects in that composer’s works. Masterly monographs on the art of biography, South Africa in the last days of apartheid, the romance of the piano, and the role of imagination in nonfiction are juxtaposed with enchanting, almost unclassifiable pieces such as “The Bumstitch: Lament for a Forgotten Fruit” (Morris suspects it may have grown in the Garden of Eden); “The Anticapitalist Conspiracy: A Warning” (an assault on The Chicago Manual of Style); “Nuages Gris: Colors in Music, Literature, and Art”; and the uproarious “Which Way Does Sir Dress?”, about ordering a suit from the most expensive tailor in London.
 
Uniquely illustrated with images that the author describes as indispensable to his creative process, This Living Hand is packed with biographical insights into such famous personalities as Daniel Defoe, Henry Adams, Mark Twain, Evelyn Waugh,  Truman Capote, Glenn Gould, Jasper Johns, W. G. Sebald, and Winnie the Pooh—not to mention a gallery of forgotten figures whom Morris lovingly restores to “life.” Among these are the pianist Ferruccio Busoni, the poet Edwin Arlington Robinson, the novelist James Gould Cozzens, and sixteen so-called “Undistinguished Americans,” contributors to an anthology of anonymous memoirs published in 1902.
 
Reviewing that book for The New Yorker, Morris notes that even the most unlettered persons have, on occasion, “power to send forth surprise flashes, illuminating not only the dark around them but also more sophisticated shadows—for example, those cast by public figures who will not admit to private failings, or by philosophers too cerebral to state a plain truth.” The author of This Living Hand is not an ordinary person, but he too sends forth surprise flashes, never more dazzlingly than in his final essay, “The Ivo Pogorelich of Presidential Biography.”
1776 symbolizes a moment, both historical and mythic, of democracy in action. That year witnessed the release of a document, which Edward Bernays, the so-called father of public relations and spin, would later label as a masterstroke of propaganda. Although the Declaration of Independence relies heavily on the empiricism of self-evident truths, Bernays, who had authored the influential manifesto Propaganda in 1928, suggested that what made this iconic document so effective was not its sober rationalism but its inspiring message that ensured its dissemination throughout the American colonies. Propaganda 1776 reframes the culture of the U.S. Revolution and early Republic, revealing it to be rooted in a vast network of propaganda. Drawing on a wide-range of resources, Russ Castronovo considers how the dispersal and circulation--indeed, the propagation--of information and opinion across the various media of the eighteenth century helped speed the flow of revolution. This book challenges conventional wisdom about propaganda as manipulation or lies by examining how popular consent and public opinion in early America relied on the spirited dissemination of rumor, forgery, and invective. While declarations about self-evident truths were important to liberty, the path toward American independence required above all else the spread of unreliable intelligence that travelled at such a pace that it could be neither confirmed nor refuted. By tracking the movements of stolen documents and leaked confidential letters, this book argues that media dissemination created a vital but seldom acknowledged connection between propaganda and democracy. The spread of revolutionary material in the form of newspapers, pamphlets, broadsides, letters, songs, and poems across British North America created multiple networks that spawned new and often radical ideas about political communication. Communication itself became revolutionary in ways that revealed circulation to be propaganda's most vital content. By examining the kinetic aspects of print culture, Propaganda 1776 shows how the mobility of letters, pamphlets, and other texts amounts to political activity par excellence. With original examinations of Ben Franklin, Mercy Otis Warren, Tom Paine, and Philip Freneau, among a crowd of other notorious propagandists, this book examines how colonial men and women popularized and spread the patriot cause across America.
How electricity became a metaphor for modernity in the United States, inspiring authors from Mark Twain to Ralph Ellison.

At the turn of the twentieth century, electricity emerged as a metaphor for modernity. Writers from Mark Twain to Ralph Ellison grappled with the idea of electricity as both life force (illumination) and death spark (electrocution). The idea that electrification created exclusively modern experiences took hold of Americans' imaginations, whether they welcomed or feared its adoption. In Power Lines, Jennifer Lieberman examines the apparently incompatible notions of electricity that coexisted in the American imagination, tracing how electricity became a common (though multifarious) symbol for modern life.

Lieberman examines a series of moments of technical change when electricity accrued new social meanings, plotting both power lines and the power of narrative lines in American life and literature. While discussing the social construction of electrical systems, she offers a new interpretation of Twain's use of electricity as an organizing metaphor in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, describes the rhetoric surrounding the invention of electric execution, analyzes Charlotte Perkins Gilman's call for human connection in her utopian writing and in her little-known Human Work, considers the theme of electrical interconnection in Jack London's work, and shows how Ralph Ellison and Louis Mumford continued the literary tradition of electrical metaphor.

Electrical power was a distinctive concept in American literary, cultural, and technological histories. For this reason, narratives about electricity were particularly evocative. Bridging the realistic and the romantic, the historical and the fantastic, these stories guide us to ask new questions about our enduring fascination with electricity and all it came to represent.

So much to read, so little time? This brief overview of The Things They Carried tells you what you need to know—before or after you read Tim O’Brien’s book.

Crafted and edited with care, Worth Books set the standard for quality and give you the tools you need to be a well-informed reader. 
 
This Summary of The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien includes:
 Historical contextStory-by-story summariesCharacter analysisThemes and symbolsImportant quotesSupporting material to enhance your understanding of the source work 
About The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien:
 
A New York Times Book of the Century and Pulitzer Prize finalist, The Things They Carried is a modern classic and an essential work of literature about the Vietnam War.
 
Brilliantly blending fact and fiction, autobiography and imagination, Tim O’Brien draws on personal experience to tell the stories of a platoon of American soldiers sent to fight Vietnam. As they trek through jungles and across mountains, the young men of Alpha Company carry radios, assault rifles, C-rations, and good luck charms—as well as grief, love, terror, and the shame of cowardice. Most of all, they carry the dream of escape, not yet knowing that the burden of memory will haunt them long after the war is over.
 
Taught in classrooms all over the world, The Things They Carried is a groundbreaking work of art that reveals the true nature of war and celebrates the healing power of storytelling.
 
The summary and analysis in this ebook are intended to complement your reading experience and bring you closer to a great work of fiction.
In Modernist Women Writers and War, Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick examines important avant-garde writings by three American women authors and shows that during World Wars I and II a new kind of war literature emerged -- one in which feminist investigation of war and trauma effectively counters the paradigmatic war experience long narrated by men.
In the past, Goodspeed-Chadwick explains, scholars have not considered writings by women as part of war literature. They have limited "war writing" to works by men, such as William Butler Yeats's poem "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death" (1919), which relies on a male perspective: a pilot contemplates his forthcoming flight, his duty to his country, and his life in combat. But works by Djuna Barnes, H.D., and Gertrude Stein set in wartime reveal experiences and views of war markedly different from those of male writers. They write women and their bodies into their texts, thus creating space for female war writing, insisting on female presence in wartime, and, perhaps most significantly, critiquing war and patriarchal politics, often in devastating fashion.
Goodspeed-Chadwick begins with Barnes, who in her surrealist novel Nightwood (1936) emphasizes the actual perversity of war by placing it in contrast to the purported perverse and deviant behavior of her main characters. In her epic poem Trilogy (1944--1946), H.D. validates female suffering and projects a feminist, spiritual worldview that fosters healing from the ravages of war. Stein, for her part, in her experimental novel Mrs. Reynolds (1952) and her long love poem Lifting Belly (1953), captures her experience of the everyday reality of war on the home front, within the domestic economy of her household.
In these works, the female body stands as the primary textual marker or symbol of female identity -- an insistence on women's presence in both the text and in the world outside the book. The strategies employed by Barnes, H.D., and Stein in these texts serve to produce a new kind of writing, Goodspeed-Chadwick reveals, one that ineluctably constructs a female identity within, and authorship of, the war narrative.
Wallace Stevens and the Apocalyptic Mode focuses on Stevens’s doubled stance toward the apocalyptic past: his simultaneous use of and resistance to apocalyptic language, two contradictory forces that have generated two dominant and incompatible interpretations of his work. The book explores the often paradoxical roles of apocalyptic and antiapocalyptic rhetoric in modernist and postmodernist poetry and theory, particularly as these emerge in the poetry of Stevens and Jorie Graham.

This study begins with an examination of the textual and generic issues surrounding apocalypse, culminating in the idea of apocalyptic language as a form of “discursive mastery” over the mayhem of events. Woodland provides an informative religious/historical discussion of apocalypse and, engaging with such critics as Parker, Derrida, and Fowler, sets forth the paradoxes and complexities that eventually challenge any clear dualities between apocalyptic and antiapocalyptic thinking.

Woodland then examines some of Stevens’s wartime essays and poems and describes Stevens’s efforts to salvage a sense of self and poetic vitality in a time of war, as well as his resistance to the possibility of cultural collapse. Woodland discusses the major postwar poems “Credences of Summer” and “The Auroras of Autumn” in separate chapters, examining the interaction of (anti)apocalyptic modes with, respectively, pastoral and elegy.

The final chapter offers a perspective on Stevens’s place in literary history by examining the work of a contemporary poet, Jorie Graham, whose poetry quotes from Stevens’s oeuvre and shows other marks of his influence. Woodland focuses on Graham's 1997 collection The Errancy and shows that her antiapocalyptic poetry involves a very different attitude toward the possibility of a radical break with a particular cultural or aesthetic stance.

Wallace Stevens and the Apocalyptic Mode, offering a new understanding of Stevens’s position in literary history, will greatly interest literary scholars and students.
Tackling fraught but fascinating issues of cultural borrowing and appropriation, this groundbreaking book reveals that Victorian literature was put to use in African American literature and print culture in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in much more intricate, sustained, and imaginative ways than previously suspected. From reprinting and reframing "The Charge of the Light Brigade" in an antislavery newspaper to reimagining David Copperfield and Jane Eyre as mixed-race youths in the antebellum South, writers and editors transposed and transformed works by the leading British writers of the day to depict the lives of African Americans and advance their causes. Central figures in African American literary and intellectual history—including Frederick Douglass, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Charles Chesnutt, Pauline Hopkins, and W.E.B. Du Bois—leveraged Victorian literature and this history of engagement itself to claim a distinctive voice and construct their own literary tradition.

In bringing these transatlantic transfigurations to light, this book also provides strikingly new perspectives on both canonical and little-read works by Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Tennyson, and other Victorian authors. The recovery of these works' African American afterlives illuminates their formal practices and ideological commitments, and forces a reassessment of their cultural impact and political potential. Bridging the gap between African American and Victorian literary studies, Reaping Something New changes our understanding of both fields and rewrites an important chapter of literary history.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin broke publishing records and made Harriet Beecher Stowe in her time one of the world’s most famous authors. The book was a bestseller in Britain and was translated into some forty languages. Yet today Stowe tends to be seen wholly in the context of American literary history. Transatlantic Stowe: Harriet Beecher Stowe and European Culture is the first book to consider multiple aspects of Stowe’s career in an international context. The groundbreaking essays of Transatlantic Stowe examine the author’s literary and literal forays in Europe and the ways in which intellectual and cultural exchanges between the Old and New Worlds shaped her work. It was a crucial moment in the transatlantic discourse, a turning of the tide, and Stowe was among the first American novelists to be lionized in Europe---and pirated by publishers---in the same way that European writers had been treated in America. Blending historical and cultural criticism and drawing on fresh primary material from London and Paris, Transatlantic Stowe includes essays exploring Stowe’s relationship with European writers and the influence of her European travels on her work, especially the controversial travel narrative Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands and her “Italian novel” Agnes of Sorrento.Interdisciplinary and itself transatlantic, the collection discusses visual art and material culture as well as literature and politics and includes contributions from Britain, Ireland, and the United States. Together these essays offer new interpretations of Stowe’s most popular novel as well as new readings of her many other works, illuminate the myriad connections between Stowe and European writers, and thus rewrite literary history by returning Stowe to the larger political, historical, and literary contexts of nineteenth-century Europe.
A compelling history of the national conflicts that resulted from efforts to produce the first definitive American dictionary of English

In The Dictionary Wars, Peter Martin recounts the patriotic fervor in the early American republic to produce a definitive national dictionary that would rival Samuel Johnson’s 1755 Dictionary of the English Language. But what began as a cultural war of independence from Britain devolved into a battle among lexicographers, authors, scholars, and publishers, all vying for dictionary supremacy and shattering forever the dream of a unified American language.

The overwhelming questions in the dictionary wars involved which and whose English was truly American and whether a dictionary of English should attempt to be American at all, independent from Britain. Martin tells the human story of the intense rivalry between America’s first lexicographers, Noah Webster and Joseph Emerson Worcester, who fought over who could best represent the soul and identity of American culture. Webster believed an American dictionary, like the American language, ought to be informed by the nation’s republican principles, but Worcester thought that such language reforms were reckless and went too far. Their conflict continued beyond Webster’s death, when the ambitious Merriam brothers acquired publishing rights to Webster’s American Dictionary and launched their own language wars. From the beginning of the nineteenth century to the end of the Civil War, the dictionary wars also engaged America’s colleges, libraries, newspapers, religious groups, and state legislatures at a pivotal historical moment that coincided with rising literacy and the print revolution.

Delving into the personal stories and national debates that arose from the conflicts surrounding America’s first dictionaries, The Dictionary Wars examines the linguistic struggles that underpinned the founding and growth of a nation.

Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty,early morning hours of May 2, 1981.  Was it murder or self-defense?  For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares.  John Berendt's sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction.  Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case.

It is a spellbinding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society ladies of the Married Woman's Card Club; the turbulent young redneck gigolo; the hapless recluse who owns a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill every man, woman, and child in Savannah; the aging and profane Southern belle who is the "soul of pampered self-absorption"; the uproariously funny black drag queen; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; the sweet-talking, piano-playing con artist; young blacks dancing the minuet at the black debutante ball; and Minerva, the voodoo priestess who works her magic in the graveyard at midnight.  These and other Savannahians act as a Greek chorus, with Berendt revealing the alliances, hostilities, and intrigues that thrive in a town where everyone knows everyone else.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a sublime and seductive reading experience.  Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city has become a modern classic.
The #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, named one of the best books of the year by The Boston Globe and National Geographic: acclaimed journalist Douglas Preston takes readers on a true adventure deep into the Honduran rainforest in this riveting narrative about the discovery of a lost civilization -- culminating in a stunning medical mystery.
Since the days of conquistador Hernán Cortés, rumors have circulated about a lost city of immense wealth hidden somewhere in the Honduran interior, called the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God. Indigenous tribes speak of ancestors who fled there to escape the Spanish invaders, and they warn that anyone who enters this sacred city will fall ill and die. In 1940, swashbuckling journalist Theodore Morde returned from the rainforest with hundreds of artifacts and an electrifying story of having found the Lost City of the Monkey God-but then committed suicide without revealing its location.


Three quarters of a century later, bestselling author Doug Preston joined a team of scientists on a groundbreaking new quest. In 2012 he climbed aboard a rickety, single-engine plane carrying the machine that would change everything: lidar, a highly advanced, classified technology that could map the terrain under the densest rainforest canopy. In an unexplored valley ringed by steep mountains, that flight revealed the unmistakable image of a sprawling metropolis, tantalizing evidence of not just an undiscovered city but an enigmatic, lost civilization.


Venturing into this raw, treacherous, but breathtakingly beautiful wilderness to confirm the discovery, Preston and the team battled torrential rains, quickmud, disease-carrying insects, jaguars, and deadly snakes. But it wasn't until they returned that tragedy struck: Preston and others found they had contracted in the ruins a horrifying, sometimes lethal-and incurable-disease.


Suspenseful and shocking, filled with colorful history, hair-raising adventure, and dramatic twists of fortune, THE LOST CITY OF THE MONKEY GOD is the absolutely true, eyewitness account of one of the great discoveries of the twenty-first century.
The “riveting” #1 New York Times bestseller: A true story of three wealthy families and the unbreakable ties of blood (Kirkus Reviews).
 
The first bodies found were those of a feisty millionaire widow and her daughter in their posh Louisville, Kentucky, home. Months later, another wealthy widow and her prominent son and daughter-in-law were found savagely slain in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Mystified police first suspected a professional in the bizarre gangland-style killings that shattered the quiet tranquility of two well-to-do southern communities. But soon a suspicion grew that turned their focus to family.
 
The Sharps. The Newsoms. The Lynches. The only link between the three families was a beautiful, aristocratic young mother named Susie Sharp Newsom Lynch. Could this former child “princess” and fraternity sweetheart have committed such barbarous crimes? And what about her gun-loving first cousin and lover, Fritz Klenner, son of a nationally renowned doctor?
 
In this tale of three families connected by marriage and murder, of obsessive love and bitter custody battles, Jerry Bledsoe recounts the shocking events that ultimately took nine lives, building to a truly horrifying climax that will leave you stunned.
 
“Recreates . . . one of the most shocking crimes of recent years.” —Publishers Weekly
 
“Absorbing suspense.” —Chicago Tribune
 
“Astonishing . . . Brilliantly chronicled.” —Detroit Free Press
 
“An engrossing southern gothic sure to delight fans of the true-crime genre. Bledsoe maintains the suspense with a sure hand.” —The Charlotte Observer
The “raunchy, hilarious, and thrilling” true story of the incomparable Norma Wallace, proprietor of a notorious 1920s New Orleans brothel (NPR).

Norma Wallace grew up fast. In 1916, at fifteen years old, she went to work as a streetwalker in New Orleans’ French Quarter. By the 1920s, she was a “landlady”—or, more precisely, the madam of what became one of the city’s most lavish brothels. It was frequented by politicians, movie stars, gangsters, and even the notoriously corrupt police force. But Wallace acquired more than just repeat customers. There were friends, lovers . . . and also enemies.
 
Wallace’s romantic interests ran the gamut from a bootlegger who shot her during a fight to a famed bandleader to the boy next door, thirty-nine years her junior, who became her fifth husband. She knew all of the Crescent City’s dirty little secrets, and used them to protect her own interests—she never got so much as a traffic ticket, until the early 1960s, when District Attorney Jim Garrison decided to clean up vice and corruption. After a jail stay, Wallace went legitimate as successfully as she had gone criminal, with a lucrative restaurant business—but it was love that would undo her in the end.
 
The Last Madam combines original research with Wallace’s personal memoirs, bringing to life an era in New Orleans history rife with charm and decadence, resurrecting “a secret world, like those uncovered by Luc Sante and James Ellroy” (Publishers Weekly). It reveals the colorful, unforgettable woman who reigned as an underworld queen and “capture[s] perfectly the essential, earthy complexity of the most fascinating city on this continent” (Robert Olen Butler).
 
From the author of 1491—the best-selling study of the pre-Columbian Americas—a deeply engaging new history of the most momentous biological event since the death of the dinosaurs.

More than 200 million years ago, geological forces split apart the continents. Isolated from each other, the two halves of the world developed radically different suites of plants and animals. When Christopher Columbus set foot in the Americas, he ended that separation at a stroke. Driven by the economic goal of establishing trade with China, he accidentally set off an ecological convulsion as European vessels carried thousands of species to new homes across the oceans.

The Columbian Exchange, as researchers call it, is the reason there are tomatoes in Italy, oranges in Florida, chocolates in Switzerland, and chili peppers in Thailand. More important, creatures the colonists knew nothing about hitched along for the ride. Earthworms, mosquitoes, and cockroaches; honeybees, dandelions, and African grasses; bacteria, fungi, and viruses; rats of every description—all of them rushed like eager tourists into lands that had never seen their like before, changing lives and landscapes across the planet.

Eight decades after Columbus, a Spaniard named Legazpi succeeded where Columbus had failed. He sailed west to establish continual trade with China, then the richest, most powerful country in the world. In Manila, a city Legazpi founded, silver from the Americas, mined by African and Indian slaves, was sold to Asians in return for silk for Europeans. It was the first time that goods and people from every corner of the globe were connected in a single worldwide exchange. Much as Columbus created a new world biologically, Legazpi and the Spanish empire he served created a new world economically.

As Charles C. Mann shows, the Columbian Exchange underlies much of subsequent human history. Presenting the latest research by ecologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians, Mann shows how the creation of this worldwide network of ecological and economic exchange fostered the rise of Europe, devastated imperial China, convulsed Africa, and for two centuries made Mexico City—where Asia, Europe, and the new frontier of the Americas dynamically interacted—the center of the world. In such encounters, he uncovers the germ of today’s fiercest political disputes, from immigration to trade policy to culture wars.

In 1493, Charles Mann gives us an eye-opening scientific interpretation of our past, unequaled in its authority and fascination.
New York Times–bestselling author: “In the art of true-crime reportage, Jerry Bledsoe is the best in the country . . . Before He Wakes has the suspense of a novel” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).
 
Barbara Stager was known as a devoted mother, loving wife, and dedicated church leader in her Durham, North Carolina, community. When she “accidentally” shot her husband, popular high school coach, Russ, the police were inclined to believe her—until they learned that ten years earlier, her first husband had died in a strangely similar way.
 
Sgt. Rick Buchanan’s relentless investigation into Stager’s life revealed a stunning vortex of compulsive lying, obsessive spending, and sexual promiscuity. With every new discovery, more of Barbara’s impeccable image unraveled. But the greatest shock—a damning piece of evidence Russ Stager left behind—revealed the nightmare truth about Barbara. With “the fine-toothed-comb reporting of [an] ace crime journalist,” this book takes us deep into a spellbinding case of double life, lethal lust, and almost perfect murder (Kirkus Reviews).

“A shocking and well-written portrait of a dangerous woman.” —The New York Times

“Mesmerizing.” —Ann Rule, New York Times–bestselling author of The Stranger Beside Me
 
“This account of manipulation, compulsive spending, lying, promiscuity, and murder is made even more chilling by the fact that appearances are often deceiving.” —Library Journal

“A profile of evil . . . Fascinating.” —The Baltimore Sun

“Jerry Bledsoe is the master of true crime, the conclusion to what Truman Capote began. . . . Another stunning success.” —Patricia Cornwell, New York Times–bestselling author of Chaos
An Edgar Award–winning author’s true crime account of a grisly string of killings in Kentucky—and the shocking spectacle of greed that followed.

Kentucky never deserved its Indian appellation “A Dark and Bloody Ground” more than when a small-town physician, seventy-seven-year-old Roscoe Acker, called in an emergency on a sweltering evening in August 1985. Acker’s own life hung in the balance, but it was already too late for his college-age daughter, Tammy, savagely stabbed eleven times and pinned by a kitchen knife to her bedroom floor. Three men had breached Dr. Acker’s alarm and security systems and made off with the fortune he had stashed away over his lifetime.

The killers—part of a three-man, two-woman gang of the sort not seen since the Barkers—stopped counting the moldy bills when they reached $1.9 million. The cash came in handy soon after when they were caught and needed to lure Kentucky’s most flamboyant lawyer, the celebrated and corrupt Lester Burns, into representing them. Full of colorful characters and desperate deeds, A Dark and Bloody Ground is a “first-rate” true crime chronicle from the author of Murder in Little Egypt (Kirkus Reviews).
 
“An arresting look into the troubled psyches of these criminals and into the depressed Kentucky economy that became fertile territory for narcotics dealers, theft rings and bootleggers.” —Publishers Weekly
 
“The smell of wet, coal-laden earth, white lightning, and cocaine-driven sweat arises from these marvelously atmospheric—and compelling—pages.” —Kirkus Reviews
 
“A fascinating portrait of the mountain way of life and thought that forged the lives of these criminals.” —Library Journal 
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