New Nonfiction Arrivals

Posted on: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 5:00:00 pm

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

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The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI by Betty Medsger

It begins in 1971 in an America being split apart by the Vietnam War . . . A small group of activists—eight men and women—the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI, inspired by Daniel Berrigan’s rebellious Catholic peace movement, set out to use a more active, but nonviolent, method of civil disobedience to provide hard evidence once and for all that the government was operating outside the laws of the land.
            
The would-be burglars—nonpro’s—were ordinary people leading lives of purpose: a professor of religion and former freedom rider; a day-care director; a physicist; a cab driver; an antiwar activist, a lock picker; a graduate student haunted by members of her family lost to the Holocaust and the passivity of German civilians under Nazi rule.

Betty Medsger's extraordinary book re-creates in resonant detail how this group of unknowing thieves, in their meticulous planning of the burglary, scouted out the low-security FBI building in a small town just west of Philadelphia, taking into consideration every possible factor, and how they planned the break-in for the night of the long-anticipated boxing match between Joe Frazier (war supporter and friend to President Nixon) and Muhammad Ali (convicted for refusing to serve in the military), knowing that all would be fixated on their televisions and radios.

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Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of the Great Gatsby, by Sarah Churchwell, read by Kate Reading

The autumn of 1922 found F. Scott Fitzgerald at the height of his fame, days from turning twenty-six years old, and returning to New York for the publication of his fourth book, Tales of the Jazz Age. A spokesman for America’s carefree younger generation, Fitzgerald found a home in the glamorous and reckless streets of New York. Here, in the final incredible months of 1922, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald drank and quarreled and partied amid financial scandals, literary milestones, car crashes, and celebrity disgraces.

Yet the Fitzgeralds’ triumphant return to New York coincided with another event: the discovery of a brutal double murder in nearby New Jersey, a crime made all the more horrible by the farce of a police investigation—which failed to accomplish anything beyond generating enormous publicity for the newfound celebrity participants. Proclaimed the “crime of the decade” even as its proceedings dragged on for years, the Mills-Hall murder has been wholly forgotten today. But the enormous impact of this bizarre crime can still be felt in The Great Gatsby, a novel Fitzgerald began planning that autumn of 1922 and whose plot he ultimately set within that fateful year.

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Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Rated R)

Mischievous octogenarian Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville in heavy makeup and prosthetics) and his 8-year-old grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) embark on a debauched cross-country road trip in this geriatric Jackass spin-off from Paramount Pictures and MTV Films. Upon learning that his wife of 46 years has died, horny granddad Irving Zisman is eager to get out and sow his geriatric oats. Irving's lecherous journey is soon threatened, however, when his crackhead daughter shows up at the funeral with his grandson Billy in tow. It seems that Billy's mother has gotten in trouble with the law once again, and she needs Irving to drive him across the country to be with his deadbeat dad -- who only agrees to take the boy after learning that he'll receive $600 a month in government support. Determined not to let the little runt get in the way of his good times, Irving stuffs his wife's corpse in the trunk of his classic Lincoln town car, plops Billy in the passenger seat, and hits the road, making occasional pit stops to engage in some bawdy hidden-camera antics along the way.*

Also available in Blu-Ray format.

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Music & Monarchy (Not Rated)

From Henry V through Elizabeth II, Britain's monarchs have molded the story of British music as patrons, tastemakers, and even composers. Hosted by eminent historian David Starkey (Monarchy, The Six Wives of Henry VIII), this series explores British music through the lens of its most prominent and powerful supporters.

Each episode is lavishly scored, from famous melodies to forgotten treasures and works of public pageantry to songs composed for private enjoyment. Over 40 live recordings include music by William Byrd, Thomas Tallis, Henry Purcell, George Frideric Handel, Edward Elgar, and William Walton. All are performed in the spectacular locations where the monarchs first heard them: Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the chapel of King's College at Cambridge, and more. Starkey puts each into historical and political context, telling their stories and revealing how the royal passion for music created a soundtrack for a nation. **

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My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead

Rebecca Mead was a young woman in an English coastal town when she first read George Eliot's Middlemarch, regarded by many as the greatest English novel. After gaining admission to Oxford, and moving to the United States to become a journalist, through several love affairs, then marriage and family, Mead read and reread Middlemarch. The novel, which Virginia Woolf famously described as "one of the few English novels written for grown-up people," offered Mead something that modern life and literature did not.

In this wise and revealing work of biography, reporting, and memoir, Rebecca Mead leads us into the life that the book made for her, as well as the many lives the novel has led since it was written. Employing a structure that deftly mirrors that of the novel, My Life in Middlemarch takes the themes of Eliot's masterpiece--the complexity of love, the meaning of marriage, the foundations of morality, and the drama of aspiration and failure--and brings them into our world. Offering both a fascinating reading of Eliot's biography and an exploration of the way aspects of Mead's life uncannily echo that of Eliot herself, My Life in Middlemarch is for every ardent lover of literature who cares about why we read books, and how they read us.

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The Second Machine Age: Work, Progess, and Prosperity in the Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erie Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

In recent years, Google’s autonomous cars have logged thousands of miles on American highways and IBM’s Watson trounced the best human Jeopardy! players. Digital technologies—with hardware, software, and networks at their core—will in the near future diagnose diseases more accurately than doctors can, apply enormous data sets to transform retailing, and accomplish many tasks once considered uniquely human.

In The Second Machine Age MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee—two thinkers at the forefront of their field—reveal the forces driving the reinvention of our lives and our economy. As the full impact of digital technologies is felt, we will realize immense bounty in the form of dazzling personal technology, advanced infrastructure, and near-boundless access to the cultural items that enrich our lives.

Amid this bounty will also be wrenching change. Professions of all kinds—from lawyers to truck drivers—will be forever upended. Companies will be forced to transform or die. Recent economic indicators reflect this shift: fewer people are working, and wages are falling even as productivity and profits soar.

Drawing on years of research and up-to-the-minute trends, Brynjolfsson and McAfee identify the best strategies for survival and offer a new path to prosperity. These include revamping education so that it prepares people for the next economy instead of the last one, designing new collaborations that pair brute processing power with human ingenuity, and embracing policies that make sense in a radically transformed landscape.

A fundamentally optimistic book, The Second Machine Age will alter how we think about issues of technological, societal, and economic progress.

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Stringer: A Reporter's Journey in the Congo by Anjan Sundaram

Sundaram left the calm, logical world of mathematics and a job offer from Goldman Sachs for the chaos of the Congo and the uncertainties of journalism. The combination was unpromising, as “few cared . . . for news” of the Congo. Then he lucked into a position as a stringer with the Associated Press, reporting on harrowing struggles to exploit wealthy metal reserves, conflicts between the militia and rebels, political corruption, street riots by bands of wild boys, and insane inflation that sent Kinshasa citizens on a “rampage of purchases.” Surviving paycheck to paycheck, Sundaram lived with a local Congo family and navigated the worlds of the embassy, foreign journalists, and the Indian community. On a daring trip upriver, he risked his life to interview a warlord fighting for control of valuable territory and stayed in Kinshasa to report on postelection chaos as other reporters fled. Excerpts from his notebooks chronicle personal reflections as he struggles to learn how to report from an unruly land, harboring doubts and misgivings and a feverish desperation to make sense of one of the deadliest places in the world.

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20 Feet From Stardom (Rated PG-13)

Filmmaker Morgan Neville pays homage to some of the greatest vocalists you've never heard of in this documentary. While the lead singers in rock, pop, and R&B are the ones who get the glory, knowledgeable music fans will tell you the backing vocalists often add the touches that make a performance truly memorable, and though many backup singers have the respect of their peers in the music business, they're all but unknown to the average listener. Twenty Feet From Stardom pays homage to some of these unsung heroes, including Darlene Love (the uncredited lead voice on some of Phil Spector's most memorable productions of the 1960s), Merry Clayton (who contributed a striking vocal cameo on the Rolling Stones "Gimme Shelter", Lisa Fischer (who has appeared on albums bySting, Tina Turner, and Aretha Franklin, as well as touring with the Rolling Stones, and the Waters Family (they sang with Michael Jackson on the album Thriller and lent their voices to the films The Lion King and Avatar). The film also includes interviews with such superstars as Bruce Springsteen,Stevie Wonder, and Mick Jagger on the role backing vocalists play in music and the music business, while a number of veteran singers share their stories of the ups and downs of their careers. 

An Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary Feature.

Item descriptions from Amazon. *Item description from All Movie Guide. **Item description from Shop PBS.

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