Archive for January, 2010

Weekly Book Special: Annie’s Box: Charles Darwin, His Daughter and Human Evolution, Novel on Darwin Film Creation

Weekly Book Special: January 25th-31st

In cinemas this week is the film Creation, about Charles Darwin, who proposed the groundbreaking theory of evolution in the 1850s. The film is based on the novel:

Annie’s Box:
Charles Darwin, His Daughter and Human Evolution

by Randal Keynes (Hardcover, 331 pages, 2001, $30.00)

Annie's Box

Annie was Charles Darwin’s favorite child before she died at 10 years old. In her writing box were keepsakes that illuminated Darwin’s work and his love for his wife and children.

Randal Keynes, Darwin’s great-great Grandson and guardian of the box, uses Annie’s story as the starting point in this book, which makes a major contribution to our understanding of Darwin.

“It’s such an intensely personal memoir, because Randal had access to all the journals, letters, writings, objects of the Darwin family,” the director of Creation, Jon Amiel, told McClatchy-Tribune News Service. “I found these remote Victorians suddenly becoming absolutely real, living, moving people.”

Keynes conjures up a world in which great thinkers – including Carlyle, Babbage and George Eliot – were struggling with ideas in science and humanity that shook mankind to its core.

At the forefront was Darwin himself, whose thinking about evolution and human nature was profoundly influenced by his life with his family, pictured in this intimate portrait of the man and his private world.

“Your book had me from the very first minute,” National Public Radio host Terry Gross tells Keynes in a radio interview with Keynes. “It’s such a contemporary way of thinking about marriage — trying to balance between work and marriage, and here’s Darwin trying to figure it out.”

Michael Shermer of TrueSlant calls the novel “a moving portrait of the middle-aged Darwin—after the five-year voyage of the Beagle and before the white-bearded sage of Down basked in scientific triumph.”

“[Annie’s] death strengthened [Darwin’s] belief in the bleak, amoral character of natural selection,” writes Robin McKie in The Guardian. “A creature’s deserved fate had little to do with its prospects for survival, he realised.”

“When the publisher finally sends [Darwin] his copy of the book, he says, ‘How wonderful to see my child,'” Keynes told Seán Martinfield of the San Francisco Sentinel. “He often talks about his most cherished ideas as ‘my child’ and link that with Annie.”

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January 25, 2010 at 10:33 am Leave a comment

Weekly Book Special: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Knock at Midnight, Book of Speeches

Weekly Book Special: January 18th-24th

Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
Edited by Clayborne Carson and Peter Holloran
(Hardcover, 234 pages, 1998, $20.00)

This week we commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with “A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.” — a book of 11 of the civil rights leader’s most powerful and spiritual sermons.

This book contains the texts of his sermons — ranging from his earliest to his last one, delivered just days before his assassination. Includes his famous “The American Dream” speech, and seven sermons never before seen in print.

Especially featured are the titular sermon, among Dr. King’s most challenging, and seven sermons never before seen in print. Click on the YouTube clip below (opens in a new window) to listen to “A Knock at Midnight” — in which he talks about the personal hardships he has faced as a result of fighting for justice:

Eleven renowned ministers and theologians of our time, including Rev. Billy Graham, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Bishop T.D. Jakes, provide compelling introductions. Here they share their personal reflections on the sermons and firsthand accounts of the events surrounding their delivery.

“These are masterpieces of theological literature from one of the world’s great orators,” writes Uma Kukathas, an author of civil rights books.“Each sermon is a jewel of literary artistry, as it presents a simple problem, examines its complications, and offers a startling and often challenging resolution.”

Blogger Jesse Caron calls it “an amazing read,” saying: “Mr. King is an amazing communicator clearly and his messages are very biblically based in my estimation.” Brandon George, another blogger, adds: “It’s very much inspiring!”

“This set of Dr. King’s sermons/speeches is a dream come true,” writes Dr. Arthur Dunklin. Dunklin is a college professor who has written several books on African-American history. “I’m really glad I purchased these.”

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January 18, 2010 at 11:27 am Leave a comment

Weekly Special: Ben Franklin’s Art of Eating Cookbook with Colonial Recipes

Weekly Book Special: January 11th-17th

Benjamin Franklin on The Art of Eating:
Together with the Rules of Health and Long Life and the Rules to Find out a Fit Measure of Meat and Drink, with Several Recipes

by Benjamin Franklin and Gilbert Chinard, introduction by Roy Goodman
(Paperback, 72 pages, 2006, $10.00)

This week we commemorate the birth of Benjamin Franklin on January 17th. Franklin, who would be turning 303 years old this coming weekend, was one of the United States’ Founding Fathers: a scientist, politician, printer, diplomat and inventor. He also had an insatiable curiosity for cooking.

“Let the gentleman who seems ignorant of the matter do us the honour of a visit in America, and I will engage to breakfast him every day in the month with a fresh variety,” Franklin told an anonymous letter writer who criticized American food.

Chefs will find a splendid collection of colonial-era recipes and food tidbits discovered in Franklin’s private journals. Written in English and French with illustrations, the book sheds new light on the man who founded electricity and had a sweet tooth.

Our affiliate the American Philosophical Society, a scholarly organization that Franklin founded in 1743, originally published the book in 1958. In 2006, the Society reprinted it in a special edition to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Franklin’s birth.

My favorite recipe is for the delicious punch Orange Shrub:
Orange Shrub Punch

This book also contains an essay on “Benjamin Franklin On the Art of Eating” by Gilbert Chinard; a collection of Franklin’s “Rules [for Eating] and Recipes” and an introduction by Roy Goodman, assistant librarian and curator of printed materials at the American Philosophical Society.

Student bloggers at Colorado State University have more of Franklin’s excerpts.

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January 11, 2010 at 12:29 pm Leave a comment

Weekly Book Special: Manhattan Unfurled: Delicacy and Grandeur, architecture drawings of New York’s skyline, by Matteo Pericoli

Weekly Book Special: January 5th – 11th

Manhattan Unfurled: Delicacy and Grandeur
Written by Paul Goldberger; Illustrated by Matteo Pericoli
(Hardcover with slipcase, 50 pages, 2001, $30.00)

Recently “Manhattan Unfurled” was featured on CBS Sunday Morning. Published in 2001, this book is a visual love letter to the New York City that once was. Italian architect Matteo Pericoli spent two years drawing 20 bridges, 1,600 buildings and 2,830 waves — in pen without erasing or revising.

“You feel in this drawing the rhythm and energy of New York,” Paul Goldberger, The New Yorker‘s architecture critic told CBS. “There is power and strength, but also an incredible delicacy and intimacy.”

The part on “Manhattan Unfurled” starts at 1:50:

This magnificent Wedgwood blue slipcase — in its original shrinkwrapping — includes two breathtaking 22-foot-long drawings of Manhattan’s East and West Sides in 24 fold-out panels. A visual key identifies landmarks, bridges and streets. Also included is a separate 50-page essay by Goldberger.

You have probably seen Pericoli’s work before: the cover of hip-hop group Beastie Boys’ album “To the 5 Boroughs” and also as inspiration for the iconic New York Yankees baseball cap featuring the Manhattan skyline and Yankee Stadium.

“Every building has character; to draw it is like drawing a face, the things that give it soul,” Percioli told The New Yorker. If you draw something, it is fixed in your mind forever, it is a miracle.”

Pat Alexander, an insurance industry consultant who moved from New York to Dallas has worked in New York and now lives outside of Ft. Worth, Texas, writes on her blog: “I visit this book frequently so I can remember exactly what the skyline looks like.”

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January 5, 2010 at 11:16 am 1 comment

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January 5, 2010 at 10:20 am Leave a comment


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