Category Archives: non-fiction

By Hook or by Crook: A Journey in Search of English

By David Crystal

Full Text :COPYRIGHT 2008 American Library Association


Crystal has been dubbed a latter-day Samuel Johnson, and with good reason, as evidenced by the long list of academic studies penned by the distinguished linguist, among them, How Language Works (2006). However, it is Professor Henry Higgins, popularized on stage and screen, that he most often cites in this delightful book, which is part travelogue, part memoir, and part meditation on the intellectual and emotional underpinnings of language. Hired to work on a BBC project celebrating the range of present-day British English accents and dialects, he took off for a series of ports of call throughout Wales and other parts of the UK. His encounters with the locals, described with exceptionally dry humor and an eye for the entertaining detail, are often priceless. So it is that he ends up in a discussion with a farmer on the difference in bleats between Scottish and Welsh sheep, or is greeted with much pity by shopkeepers in Portmeirion, the location for the 1960s cult TV program The Prisoner, when he can’t resist parroting phrases from the show. What is most seductive about Crystal’s narrative, though, is the fascinating glimpse it provides into the quicksilver mind of a man who is so knowledgeable and yet still so curious about our mercurial language.–Joanne Wilkinson

YA/S: Young language geeks will be drawn in by Crystal’s stream-of-consciousness style and his love of wordplay. JW.

Source Citation:Wilkinson, Joanne. “By Hook or by Crook: A Journey in Search of English.(Young adult review)(Brief article)(Book review).” Booklist 104.16 (April 15, 2008): 13(1). General Reference Center Gold. Gale. Arvin A Brown Public. 30 May 2008

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Filed under Great Britain, linguistics, non-fiction

Everything They Had

By David Halberstam. Ed. by Glenn Stout.

Full Text :COPYRIGHT 2008 American Library Association

Writing on sports, the late Halberstam brought his formidable reporter’s skills to his task–whether on Red Sox deity Ted Williams, sharpshooter Pete Maravich, brilliant but mercurial Allen Iverson, or itinerant slugger Reggie Smith, who are among the subjects of the four-dozen excellent pieces here. Unlike many sports journalists, Halberstam was never so invested in the games we play that he wouldn’t call out their significant failings. His essay “Sports Can Distract, but They Don’t Heal” makes the brutally honest point that the athletes a hometown supports are probably closer to the players those fans hate than they are to the fans themselves. Halberstam focuses on the three major sports–baseball, basketball, football–but there are also keen essays on sculling, fishing, boxing, and horse racing. Halberstam has a touch of the windbag, but that’s more than offset by the stories he shares: for example, the time a 15-year-old Reggie Smith told Willie Mays that he, Smith, was also a ballplayer, to which Mays only replied, “Do you know how to duck?”–Alan Moores

Named Works: Everything They Had (Book) Book reviews

Source Citation:Moores, Alan. “Everything They Had.(Brief article)(Book review).” Booklist 104.16 (April 15, 2008): 18(1). General Reference Center Gold. Gale. Arvin A Brown Public. 30 May 2008

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Filed under non-fiction, sports

Head Cases: Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath

By Michael Paul Mason.

Full Text :COPYRIGHT 2008 American Library Association

Tulsa-based brain-injury case manager Mason presents the stories of a dozen clients who have suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI) with startling candor not just about how their lives and those of their families were altered by the disability but about the scant assistance available on a national scale for TBI victims. The book’s publicity claims readers will come away “astonished at the fragility of the brain.” But who doesn’t already know that? On the other hand, many don’t know that TBI can be caused from either without (an auto accident, a fall) or within (a tumor or even a common virus that many endure with minor symptoms yet that can travel to the brain), changing a life literally in an instant. Additionally, most don’t know how to differentiate between behaviors caused by TBI and those caused by psychosis. Cast against a backdrop of slim resources crying for more aid, the stories are heartbreakingly stark, like so many slaps upside the head, but, coming from a man who too often must deliver bad news, hard to counterpunch.–Donna Chavez

Named Works: Head Cases: Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath (Book) Book reviews

Source Citation:Chavez, Donna. “Head Cases: Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath.(Brief article)(Book review).” Booklist 104.16 (April 15, 2008): 14(1). General Reference Center Gold. Gale. Arvin A Brown Public. 30 May 2008

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Filed under memory, non-fiction, science, traumatic brain injury

Fool’s Paradise

  Full Text :COPYRIGHT 2008 American Library Association By John Gierach. May 2008. 224p. illus. Simon & Schuster, $24 (0-7432-9173-5). 799.12. It sounds like a Zen koan, but the best fishing books are as much about something else as they are about fishing. In his sixteenth book, Gierach pursues challenging fish and beautiful landscapes, emerging with plenty of both but also with a wealth of insights that stretch well beyond fishing. In these friendly, meandering essays, he writes vividly about trout, salmon, steelhead, bass, northern pike, and muskellunge–mostly in the Rockies and Great Plains, with some trips to Alaska, Oregon, and Canada. Along the way, he revisits family, considers post-9/11 travel, and muses on cell phones and their users. One essay, “Road Books,” will appeal to all travelers who read on the road and to readers’-advisory librarians helping travelers pack the right books. Gierach is a first-rank fishing writer–in the same league as Nick Lyons and Bill Tapply–but his thoughtful meditations on friends and family evoke Garrison Keillor.–John Rowen Named Works: Fool’s Paradise (Book) Book reviews 

Source Citation:Rowen, John. “Fool’s Paradise.(Brief article)(Book review).” Booklist 104.16 (April 15, 2008): 18(1). General OneFile. Gale. Arvin A Brown Public. 29 May 2008  <;.
Gale Document Number:A178631161

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Filed under fishing, non-fiction, philosophy

The Supreme’s Greatest Hits

by Michael Trachtman


Can the government seize your house in order to build a shopping mall? Can it determine what you can do to your own body?  Why are you allowed to copy songs on a CD, but not music files the Internet? The answers to those questions come from the Supreme Court—and its rulings have shaped American life and justice. Here are 34 of the most significant issues it has grappled with—from equal rights to privacy rights, from the limits of speech to the boundaries between church and state. Many of these cases read like thrillers…right down to their cliff-hanging endings. Among the most intriguing: the Dred Scott decision, Miranda v. Arizona, Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade, and Bush v. Gore.

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Filed under non-fiction, politics

Can’t Remember What I Forgot


By Sue Halpern.

May 2008. 288p. Harmony, $24 (9780307406743). 616.85.
Halpern, author of Four Wings and a Prayer (2001), tackles memory, the most elusive of subjects, in her return to nonfiction after her powerful debut novel, The Book of Hard Things (2003). Goaded by the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and the seemingly inevitable equation–more years lived, more memory lost–Halpern puts herself on the line in this energetic inquiry into cutting-edge neurological research. As a test subject, she undergoes brain scans, including one that turns her radioactive; takes batteries of cognitive tests; visits the labs of leading neuroscientists; and tracks drug-development efforts. Halpern is rigorous in her explanations of the workings of the hippocampus, and impish in her critique of corporate-funded research (why is Mars, the maker of M & Ms, interested in neuroscience?). She incisively contrasts popular claims for the memory-boosting qualities of ginkgo biloba, blueberries, crossword puzzles, ballroom dancing, and chocolate with the painstaking work of scientists attempting to decode neurotransmitters and determine the genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Evincing a gift for perfect analogies and supple metaphors, mischievous humor, and righteous skepticism, Halpern is an exceptionally companionable and enlightening guide through the maze of memory maladies and the promising search for remedies.–Donna Seaman
Named Works: Can’t Remember What I Forgot: The Good News from the Front Lines of Memory Research (Book) Book reviews 

Source Citation:Seaman, Donna. “Can’t Remember What I Forgot: The Good News from the Front Lines of Memory Research.(Brief article)(Book review).” Booklist 104.16 (April 15, 2008): 15(1). General OneFile. Gale. Arvin A Brown Public. 26 May 2008 

Gale Document Number:A178631145

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Filed under memory, non-fiction, science

Terror and Consent

by Michael Bobbit

With The Shield of Achilles (2002), constitutional law and nuclear strategy scholar Bobbitt argued, among other things, that the epoch of the nation-state is ending. Governments of the twenty-first century and beyond, he argued, will increasingly be “market states”: global, networked, decentralized, and considerably privatized states whose primary objective is to maximize the (primarily economic) opportunities of its citizens. With his latest book, Bobbitt examines at great length the relationship between the emergent constitutional order and the emergence of modern “market state terrorism,” which, mirroring the market state and availing itself of the same technological advances, may be lethal enough to pose an existential threat to the very possibility of government by consent of the governed. Arguing that America is indeed in a war against terror itself, not merely terrorists, Bobbitt finds the key to preserving states of consent lies in increased state power, increased multilateralism, and especially a strengthening of both constitutional and international legal restrictions on unfettered state action. Not just another book about terrorism, this is a complete theory of constitutional evolution and a sophisticated set of far-reaching policy prescriptions. Frequently digressive, incredibly erudite, and frustratingly difficult to pin down on the political spectrum, Bobbitt aims for the big picture and succeeds.–Brendan Driscoll
Named Works: Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-first Century (Book) Book reviews 

Source Citation:Driscoll, Brendan. “Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-first Century.(Brief article)(Book review).” Booklist 104.16 (April 15, 2008): 11(1). General OneFile. Gale. Arvin A Brown Public. 26 May 2008 

Gale Document Number:A178631117

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Filed under non-fiction, politics, terrorists