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History and Current Events July 2008

"Professor Johnston often said that if you didn't know history, you didn't know anything. You were a leaf that didn't know it was part of a tree."
~ from Michael Crichton's Timeline

All about the Benjamin
Benjamin Franklin: IN SEARCH OF A BETTER WORLD


July 23 @ 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Main Library--2nd Floor Atrium

AND

July 23 @ 6:00 p.m.
Main Library--Auditorium

 Featuring Cecilia Brauer playing the Glass Armonica, a unique musical instrument invented by  Benjamin Franklin, and an encore performance by Dean Bennett as Benjamin Franklin.

The Armonica, also called the glass harmonica was invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761. In 1757, while in England he attended a concert given on the wine glasses. He thought it was the sweetest sound he had ever heard but he wanted to hear more harmonies with his melody. Thus the Armonica was born and named by Franklin for a word taken from the musical Italian language. It has been said that if the harp is "the instrument of the Angels", then the Armonica is "the voice of the Angels".


Feat

New and Recently Released!
The Last Fish Tale: The Fate of the Atlantic and Survival in Gloucester, America's Oldest Fishing Port and Most Original Town - by Mark Kurlansky
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 6/10/2008
ISBN: 9780345487278
ISBN-10: 0345487273
In this "delightful, intimate history and contemporary portrait" (Publishers Weekly) of American's oldest fishing port--Gloucester, Massachusetts--bestselling author Mark Kurlansky (Cod) explores how fishing and the culture of fishing have defined the town, and how the waning of this way of life has transformed it. Of the many obstacles facing today's fishermen, competing with wealthy yacht owners for dock space is just an annoyance when compared to the necessary but treacherous journeys far out to sea in order to find fish (Sebastian Junger's A Perfect Storm documents one that ended in tragedy). Don't miss this captivating take on a quintessential American town.
Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America - by Rick Perlstein
Publisher: Scribner
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 5/13/2008
ISBN: 9780743243025
ISBN-10: 0743243021
In this political history of Richard Nixon's presidency, journalist Rick Perlstein claims that today's divide between blue states and red states actually began with Nixon's campaign. His account of the 37th presidency, which sets Nixon's administration against the counterculture of the 1960s, explores how key events set the stage for the political divide still seen today. As the campaign for the next U.S. president heats up, learning more about the man who may have had a hand in creating today's political atmosphere might not be a bad idea.
The Monster of Florence - by Douglas Preston, with Mario Spezi
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 6/10/2008
ISBN: 9780446581196
ISBN-10: 0446581194
Soon after bestselling thriller writer Douglas Preston moved to Florence, Italy, he learned that his new home was located near the former hunting grounds of a serial killer. Between 1974 and 1985, the so-called Monster of Florence had murdered 7 couples parked in secluded lovers' lanes. While researching an earlier killing, journalist Mario Spezi came to believe that he had discovered the identity of the Monster, and the intrigued Preston decided to join him in investigating his theory. Italian police retaliated by accusing them of planting evidence and even of the murders themselves. What the two men learned--and what they experienced--makes for a harrowing read.
The Billionaire's Vinegar: The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine - by Benjamin Wallace
Publisher: Crown Publishers
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 5/13/2008
ISBN: 9780307338778
ISBN-10: 0307338770
Oenophiles will appreciate this tale of the 1985 purchase of a bottle of 1787 Château Lafite Bordeaux (for a record $156,000) that is said to have once been owned by Thomas Jefferson himself. While the mysterious provenance of the wine and the enigmatic (some might say dodgy) wine collector who allegedly discovered the bottle in a bricked-up Paris cellar receive equal treatment, journalist Benjamin Wallace focuses primarily on the world of wine experts...and wine counterfeiters. Whether you drink Two Buck Chuck or $1,000 bottles of Burgundy, you'll find something to enjoy in this fascinating book.
The Slaves' War: The Civil War in the Words of Former Slaves - by Andrew Ward
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 6/10/2008
ISBN: 9780618634002
ISBN-10: 0618634002
Relying on hundreds of interviews with ex-slaves as well as excerpts from diaries, letters, and memoirs, this narrative history of the American Civil War portrays the conflict from the perspective of African-American slaves freed by the war. As there aren't too many books out there that explore the reactions of slaves to the Civil War, The Slaves' War is sure to leave you with a better picture of their varied responses to the war and its aftermath. Organized chronologically (from months before the fighting started to after the surrender at Appomattox), this book offers "a fresh angle and a wealth of material" (Kirkus Reviews).
Words, Words, Words
The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language - by Melvyn Bragg
Publisher: Arcade
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 10/12/2004
ISBN: 9781559707107
ISBN-10: 1559707100
If you've ever wondered how English has evolved--or why it evolved differently in England than in its former colonies--this well-researched history might be the book for you. In tracing the language's development from its Germanic origins to its modern form, author Melvyn Bragg notes the influence of such groups and individuals as early Anglo-Saxon tribes, William Shakespeare, and the men who translated the Bible into English. He even takes a look at Text English (popularized on the Internet) and Singlish (an "interlanguage" native to Singapore) to examine what the future might bring. To learn more, check out this entertaining introduction to an ever-changing language.
The Mother Tongue: English & How It Got That Way - by Bill Bryson
Publisher: Perennial
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 3/1/1996
ISBN: 9780380715435
ISBN-10: 0380715430
For a lighter take on the English language, try travel writer Bill Bryson's humorous history of his own mother tongue, which covers such topics as spelling, pronunciation, wordplay, and swearing. From a sampling of the words that Shakespeare brought to English (obscene, gust, and critical, to name a few) to a discussion of English's dominance in the world (Tokyo streets bear warnings in English), Bryson finds humor in the past, present, and future of the language. Just don't expect a grammar manual!
Defining the World: The Extraordinary Story of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary - by Henry Hitchings
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 10/17/2006
ISBN: 9780312426200
ISBN-10: 0312426208
These days, if you're looking for a dictionary, you've got a multitude of choices, but in 1755 there was only one authoritative option--the first edition of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language. It was a lexicon long in the making, but well worth the effort, for it is still used in U.S. courts. Part biography, part history of the language, part social history of England in the 18th century, Defining the World is composed of 35 alphabetically arranged chapters, each headed with a word and its definition, as compiled by Johnson. If you can't get enough of your own dictionary, you'll love this "sparkling, heady brew of a book" (Booklist).
A History of Reading - by Alberto Manguel
Publisher: Penguin Books
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 10/1/1997
ISBN: 9780140166545
ISBN-10: 0140166548
In this history of reading there are stories of book thieves, book burners, and book lovers, as well as tales of the women of 11th-century Japan (who had to create their own reading material) and African-American slaves (who were forbidden to read under penalty of death). There are illustrations--woodcuts, drawings, and photographs--and anecdotes about famous readers (Cervantes, Proust), as well as notes on the author's own personal history with books. If you're familiar with the seductive pull of bibliomania, you're not going to want to miss this "highly entertaining" (The New York Times) look at reading and the written word.
The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary - by Simon Winchester
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 9/1/1998
ISBN: 9780060175962
ISBN-10: 0060175966
When word went out that Professor James Murray, editor of the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, was looking for help, Civil War surgeon William C. Minor submitted more than 10,000 definitions. Imagine the professor's surprise when, after 17 years of correspondence, he learned that Minor had done all this while committed to a British asylum for the criminally insane. If you haven't yet read this bestselling book from British journalist Simon Winchester, you're in for a treat; if you have, keep an eye out for the upcoming Reading the OED by Ammon Shea, which describes his year spent...you guessed it, reading the 20-volume OED.
Contact your librarian for more great books!

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