Havel’s lifelong perspective as an outsider began with his privileged childhood in Prague and his family’s blacklisted status following the Communist coup of 1948. This feeling of being outcast fueled his career as an essayist and dramatist, writing absurdist plays as social commentary. His involvement during the Prague Spring and his leadership of Charter 77, his unflagging belief in the power of the powerless, and his galvanizing personality catapulted Havel into a pivotal role as the leader of the Velvet Revolution in 1989. Although Havel was a courageous visionary, he was also a man of great contradictions, wracked with doubt and self-criticism. But he always remained true to himself. Over the next thirteen years, he continued to break through international barriers as the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic.
In this latest book, A Sanctuary of Trees, Logsdon offers a loving tribute to the woods, tracing the roots of his own home groves in Ohio back to the Native Americans and revealing his own history and experiences living in many locations, each of which was different, yet inextricably linked with trees and the natural world. Whether as an adolescent studying at a seminary or as a journalist living just outside Philadelphia's city limits, Gene has always lived and worked close to the woods, and his curiosity and keen sense of observation have taught him valuable lessons about a wide variety of trees: their distinct characteristics and the multiple benefits and uses they have.
In addition to imparting many fascinating practical details of woods wisdom, A Sanctuary of Trees is infused with a philosophy and descriptive lyricism that is born from the author's passionate and lifelong relationship with nature: There is a point at which the tree shudders before it begins its descent. Then slowly it tips, picks up speed, often with a kind of wailing death cry from rending wood fibers, and hits the ground with a whump that literally shakes the earth underfoot. The air, in the aftermath, seems to shimmy and shiver, as if saturated with static electricity. Then follows an eerie silence, the absolute end to a very long life.
Fitting squarely into the long and proud tradition of American nature writing, A Sanctuary of Trees also reflects Gene Logsdon's unique personality and perspective, which have marked him over the course of his two dozen previous books as the authentic voice of rural life and traditions.
A Farm Boy’s Polio Memoir
“Families throughout the United States lived in fear of polio throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s, and now the disease had come to our farm. I can still remember that short winter day and the chilly night when I first showed symptoms. My life would never be the same.”
—from the Introduction
Polio was epidemic in the United States starting in 1916. By the 1930s, quarantines and school closings were becoming common, as isolation was one of the only ways to fight the disease. The Sauk vaccine was not available until 1955; in that year, Wisconsin’s Fox River valley had more polio cases per capita than anywhere in the United States. In his most personal book, Jerry Apps, who contracted polio at age twelve, reveals how the disease affected him physically and emotionally, profoundly influencing his education, military service, and family life and setting him on the path to becoming a professional writer.
A hardworking farm kid who loved playing softball, young Jerry Apps would have to make many adjustments and meet many challenges after that winter night he was stricken with a debilitating, sometimes fatal illness. In Limping through Life he explores the ways his world changed after polio and pays tribute to those family members, teachers, and friends who helped him along the way.
Klíma’s story begins in the 1930s on the outskirts of Prague where he grew up unaware of his concealed Jewish heritage. It came as a surprise when his family was transported to the Terezín concentration camp—and an even greater surprise when most of them survived. They returned home to a city in economic turmoil and falling into the grip of Communism. Against this tumultuous backdrop, Klíma discovered his love of literature and matured as a writer. But as the regime further encroached on daily life, arresting his father and censoring his work, Klíma recognized the party for what it was: a deplorable, colossal lie. The true nature of oppression became clear to him and many of his peers, among them Josef Škvorecký, Milan Kundera, and Václav Havel. From the brief hope of freedom during the Prague Spring of 1968 to Charter 77 and the eventual collapse of the regime in 1989’s Velvet Revolution, Klíma’s revelatory account provides a profoundly rich personal and national history.