Last Minute Book Selections For the Holidays


While being overwhelmed by Edward Burtynsky's photographs of shipbreaking in India on BldgBlog (We have also covered him before here) we were reminded of William Langewiesche's book The Outlaw Sea.

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BldbgBlog quotes: "Dawn spread across the gargantuan landscape. Alang, in daylight, was barely recognizable as a beach. It was a narrow, smoke-choked industrial zone six miles long, where nearly two hundred ships stood side by side in progressive states of dissection, yawning open to expose their cavernous holds, spilling their black innards onto the tidal flats... Night watchmen were swinging the yard gates open now, revealing the individual plots, each demarcated by little flags or other markers stuck in the sand, and heavily cluttered with cut metal and nautical debris." Much of the material comes from articles in the Atlantic and other chapters cover piracy and the sinking of the Estonia (which did go on), but a wonderful book and the shipbreaking chapters are worth the price of the book. :The Outlaw Sea. at Amazon:

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We just finished Candice Millard's The River of Doubt, describing Theodore Roosevelt's voyage of exploration through the Amazon that almost killed him. TR was a true Treehugger (outside of the hunting bit) and his Brazilian co-commander had strict rules that his troops were to die rather than shoot natives. The book is tense, dramatic and there is never a dull moment. We do not often think of our politicians going off in dugout canoes into unspeakable danger, particularly without Blackberries- It is an amazing read. ::River of Doubt at Amazon

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It is a Treehugger trend these days to avoid giving our children vaccines, due to concerns about side-effects. Reading John Barry's The Great Influenza reminds us what it was like before such vaccines existed. As many as 100 million people died from the 1918 flu epidemic, and while we wait for the next, this exciting book describes this first collision between modern science and epidemic disease. Concentrating on the people who fought it and the politics and pressures of the time, it is not a dry description but a gripping drama- in Philadelphia the corrupt government would not cancel a parade and thousands died- stupidity and lack of comprehension unmatched until Katrina. ::The Great Influenza at Amazon

Only The River of Doubt is new. None are printed on recycled paper and Trehugger supports Libraries. We apologise for this contradiction, they cover themes that Treehugger covers, and we have to buy presents.