New Nonfiction Arrivals

Posted on: Monday, August 26, 2013 at 6:30:00 pm

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

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The Butler: A Witness to History, written by Wil Haygood, read by David Oyelowo, Oprah Winfrey, and Forest Whitaker

When acclaimed Washington Post writer Wil Haygood had an early hunch that Obama would win the 2008 election, he thought he'd highlight the singular moment by exploring the life of someone who had come of age when segregation was so embedded in the culture as to make the very thought of a black president inconceivable. He struck gold when he tracked down Eugene Allen, a butler who had served eight presidents, from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan.

Forest Whitaker narrates the story of this remarkable man who, while serving tea and supervising buffets, was also a witness to history as decisions about America's most momentous events were being made.

With a foreword by the Academy Award-nominated director Lee Daniels, The Butler also includes Wil Haygood's essay exploring the history of black images on celluloid and in Hollywood, read here by David Oyelowo and Oprah Winfrey.

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Ethel (Rated PG)

Ethel celebrates the remarkable life of Ethel Kennedy, the wife of Robert F. Kennedy, through a treasure trove of revealing and little-known anecdotes from those who know her best: her family. Directed by her Emmy® -winning daughter Rory Kennedy (HBO’s The Fence and Ghosts of Abu Ghraib), this personal portrait contains Ethel’s first extended interview in more than 20 years. An official selection at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, the documentary highlights the remarkable life of the Kennedy matriarch, and the decades-long love story between Ethel, now 84, and her late husband. Described by one of her daughters as “the most fiercely competitive person I’ve ever met,” Ethel comes across as a force of nature in the film, but also self-effacing and modest. Given the Kennedys’ place at the forefront of many events in modern history, the film’s narrative sweep is vast: from the McCarthy hearings and the Civil Rights movement, to Vietnam and the anti-war movement, to the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and beyond. Intimate, funny, and deeply moving, Ethel offers a rare look inside a political dynasty strengthened by family bonds, a compassion for others, a commitment to service, and a wisdom forged from both hardship and triumph.

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Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson

The Arab Revolt against the Turks in World War One was, in the words of T.E. Lawrence, “a sideshow of a sideshow.”  Amidst the slaughter in European trenches, the Western combatants paid scant attention to the Middle Eastern theater.  As a result, the conflict was shaped to a remarkable degree by a small handful of adventurers and low-level officers far removed from the corridors of power.  
 
Curt Prüfer was an effete academic attached to the German embassy in Cairo, whose clandestine role was to foment Islamic jihad against British rule.  Aaron Aaronsohn was a renowned agronomist and committed Zionist who gained the trust of the Ottoman governor of Syria. William Yale was the fallen scion of the American aristocracy, who traveled the Ottoman Empire on behalf of Standard Oil, dissembling to the Turks in order gain valuable oil concessions.  At the center of it all was Lawrence.  In early 1914 he was an archaeologist excavating ruins in the sands of Syria; by 1917 he was the most romantic figure of World War One, battling both the enemy and his own government to bring about the vision he had for the Arab people.
 
The intertwined paths of these four men – the schemes they put in place, the battles they fought, the betrayals they endured and committed – mirror the grandeur, intrigue and tragedy of the war in the desert.  Prüfer became Germany’s grand spymaster in the Middle East.  Aaronsohn constructed an elaborate Jewish spy-ring in Palestine, only to have the anti-Semitic and bureaucratically-inept British first ignore and then misuse his organization, at tragic personal cost.  Yale would become the only American intelligence agent in the entire Middle East – while still secretly on the payroll of Standard Oil.  And the enigmatic Lawrence rode into legend at the head of an Arab army, even as he waged secret war against his own nation’s imperial ambitions

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The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest by Penelope A. Lewis

In recent years neuroscientists have uncovered the countless ways our brain trips us up in day-to-day life, from its propensity toward irrational thought to how our intuitions deceive us. The latest research on sleep, however, points in the opposite direction. Where old wives tales have long advised to "sleep on a problem," today scientists are discovering the truth behind these folk sayings,and how the busy brain radically improves our minds through sleep and dreams. In The Secret World of Sleep, neuroscientist Penny Lewisexplores the latest research intothe nighttime brain to understand the real benefits of sleep. She shows how, while our body rests, the brain practices tasks it learned during the day, replays traumatic events to mollify them, and forges connections between distant concepts. By understanding the roles that the nocturnal brain plays in our waking life, we can improve the relationship between the two, and even boost creativity and become smarter. This is a fascinating exploration of one of the most surprising corners of neuroscience that shows how science may be able to harness the power of sleep to improve learning, health, and more.

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Secrets of Henry VIII's Palace: Hampton Court (Not Rated)

Hampton Court is the ultimate royal pleasure palace, embodying an indulgent and grandiose lifestyle built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and furthered by King Henry VIII. Its many rooms chart Henry VIII's decline from fit young warrior to bloated womanizer, and they tell the vivid stories of the ladies who became his queens. Later, King William III and Queen Mary II commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to rebuild Hampton Court, demolishing half of the red brick Tudor palace and replacing it with an exquisite Baroque castle, making Hampton Court one of the most unique palaces in the world. Secrets of Henry VIII's Palace digs beneath the brick and stone to unveil an abundance of art and lore that bring Hampton Court to life.

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Secrets of the Viking Sword (Not Rated)

The Vikings were the most ferocious warriors of the Middle Ages. Especially fearsome were the select few who wielded a formidable weapon: a light, razor sharp, virtually indestructible sword with its maker's name, ULFBERHT, inlaid along the blade. But who Ulfberht was, where the sword came from, and how it was made remained secrets for more than 1,000 years?

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Star Suckers (Not Rated)

Starsuckers is a darkly humorous and shocking expose of the celebrity-obsessed media. It delves into our addiction to fame and blows the lid on the corporations and individuals who profit from it. Directed by Chris Atkins, the BAFTA-nominated director of Taking Liberties, Starsuckers captures the reprehensible behavior of reporters who sell fake celebrity stories to major tabloids and attempt to buy medical records. The filmmakers also sting Max Clifford, who boasts about his clients on undercover camera. When Clifford found out, he hired the infamous law firm Carter Ruck and threatened to injunct the film. Clearly, he did not succeed. The film was given a slew of 4 Star reviews (from the newspapers that dared to review it). The DVD includes over 2 hours of extra scenes, including tongue-in-cheek interviews with Kiera Knightley, Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro, 50 Cent, Al Pacino, Eddie Izzard and many more.

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The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory by Jesse Walker

Jesse Walker’s The United States of Paranoia presents a comprehensive history of conspiracy theories in American culture and politics, from the colonial era to the War on Terror.

The fear of intrigue and subversion doesn’t exist only on the fringes of society, but has always been part of our national identity. When such tales takes hold, Walker argues, they reflect the anxieties and experiences of the people who believe them, even if they say nothing true about the objects of the theories themselves.

With intensive research and a deadpan sense of humor, Jesse Walker’s The United States of Paranoiacombines the rigor of real history with the punch of pulp fiction.

Item descriptions from Amazon.

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