New Nonfiction Arrivals

Posted on: Monday, July 15, 2013 at 4:00:00 pm

Here's a sampling of our new adult nonfiction book and DVD arrivals. Click an image to view availability or place a hold.

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Australia's First 4 Billion Years (Not Rated)

Of all the continents on Earth, none preserves a more spectacular story of its origins than Australia. NOVA's four-part Australia's First 4 Billion Years takes viewers on a rollicking adventure from the birth of the Earth to the emergence of the world we know today. With help from high-energy host and geologist Richard Smith, we meet titanic dinosaurs and giant kangaroos, sea monsters and prehistoric crustaceans, disappearing mountains and deadly asteroids. Epic in scope, intimate in nature, this is the untold story of the Land Down Under, the one island continent that has got it all. Join NOVA on the ultimate Outback road trip, an exploration of the history of the planet as seen through the mind-altering window of the Australian continent.

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Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetities by Kate Christensen

In the tradition of M. F. K. Fisher, Laurie Colwin, and Ruth Reichl, Blue Plate Special is a narrative in which food—eating it, cooking it, reflecting on it—becomes the vehicle for unpacking a life. Christensen explores her history of hunger—not just for food but for love and confidence and a sense of belonging—with a profound honesty, starting with her unorthodox childhood in 1960s Berkeley as the daughter of a mercurial legal activist who ruled the house with his fists. After a whirlwind adolescent awakening, Christensen strikes out to chart her own destiny within the literary world and the world of men, both equally alluring and dangerous. Food of all kinds, from Ho Hos to haute cuisine, remains an evocative constant throughout, not just as sustenance but as a realm of experience unto itself, always reflective of what is going on in her life. She unearths memories—sometimes joyful, sometimes painful—of the love between mother and daughter, sister and sister, and husband and wife, and of the times when the bonds of love were broken. Food sustains her as she endures the pain of these ruptures and fuels her determination not to settle for anything less than the love and contentment for which she’s always yearned.

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Constituion USA with Peter Sagal (Not Rated)

Does the Constitution have what it takes to keep up with modern America? Join Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! as he hits the road to find out. Traveling across the country by motorcycle, Sagal is in search of where the U.S. Constitution lives, how it works and how it doesn’t… how it unites us as a nation and how it has nearly torn us apart.*

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I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined) by Chuck Klosterman

Chuck Klosterman has walked into the darkness. As a boy, he related to the cultural figures who represented goodness—but as an adult, he found himself unconsciously aligning with their enemies. This was not because he necessarily liked what they were doing; it was because they were doing it on purpose (and they were doing it better). They wanted to be evil. And what, exactly, was that supposed to mean? When we classify someone as a bad person, what are we really saying (and why are we so obsessed with saying it)? How does the culture of deliberate malevolence operate? 

In I Wear the Black Hat, Klosterman questions the modern understanding of villainy. What was so Machiavellian about Machiavelli? Why don’t we see Bernhard Goetz the same way we see Batman? Who is more worthy of our vitriol—Bill Clinton or Don Henley? What was O. J. Simpson’s second-worst decision? And why is Klosterman still haunted by some kid he knew for one week in 1985? 

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Mind of a Rampage Killer (Not Rated)

What makes a person walk into a theater, church, or classroom and open fire? What combination of circumstances compels a human being to commit the most inhuman of crimes? As the nation tries to comprehend the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut, NOVA correspondent Miles O'Brien investigates theories that rampage killers are driven most of all by the wish to die, not the urge to kill. Could suicide-and the desire to go out in a media-fueled blaze of glory-be their main motivation? How much can science tell us about a brain at risk for violence? Most important, can we recognize dangerous minds in time to stop the next Newtown?

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Syria Behind the Lines: Life on Both Sides of a Sectarian War (Not Rated)

In the rural heartland of Syria's countryside, the bloody uprising against President Bashar Al Assad has taken a terrifying turn. In this highly charged documentary, award-winning filmmaker Olly Lambert lives on both sides of Syria's sectarian frontline, witnessing the devastating effect of a religious feud that, regardless of the outcome of the war, is shaping Syria's future.

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Topsy: The Startling Story of the Crooked Tailed Elephant, P.T. Barnum, and the American Wizard, Thomas Edison by Michael Daly

In 1903, on Coney Island, an elephant named Topsy was electrocuted, and over the past century, this bizarre, ghoulish execution has reverberated through popular culture with the whiff of urban legend. But it really happened, and many historical forces conspired to bring Topsy, Thomas Edison, and those 6600 volts of alternating current together that day. Tracing them all in Topsy The Startling Story of the Crooked Tailed Elephant, P.T. Barnum, and the American Wizard, Thomas Edison, journalist Michael Daly weaves together a fascinating popular history, the first book on this astonishing tale.

At the turn of the century, the circus in America was at its apex with the circuses of P.T. Barnum and Adam Forepaugh (or 4-Paw) competing in a War of the Elephants, with declarations of whose pachyderms were younger, bigger, or more “sacred”. This brought Topsy to America, fraudulently billed as the first native-born, and caught between the circus disputes and the War of the Currents, in which Edison and George Westinghouse (and Nikola Tesla) battled over alternating versus direct current.

Rich in period Americana, and full of circus tidbits and larger than life characters—both human and elephant—Topsy is a touching tale and an entertaining read.

Item descriptions from Amazon. *Item descriptions from PBS - Constitution USA.

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