Non-Fiction Books

The Great Mortality

Rating:  The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time, by John Kelly. HarperCollins (2005), 356 pages. Thirty million people dead in Europe, a third of the Middle East wiped out, and China...

The Devil’s Teeth

Rating:  The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks, by Susan Casey.  Henry Holt and Company (2005), 291 pages. It’s not often I come across a nonfiction book that is a...

Factory Girls

Rating:  Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China, by Leslie T. Chang. Spiegel & Grau (2009), 436 pages. This book provides a multifaceted understanding of those three little words we cannot escape: “Made in China.” We think we have some...

The Elephant Whisperer

Rating:  The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild, by Lawrence Anthony.  Thomas Dunne Books (2009), 368 pages. Anthony tells the story here of his life on a game reserve in South Africa.  He makes a point in the prologue of letting...

Bright-Sided

Rating:  Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, by Barbara Ehrenreich.  Metropolitan Books (2009), 235 pages. Ehrenreich is making all kinds of really excellent points in this book. Yes, being told you must...

The Children’s Blizzard

Rating:  The Children’s Blizzard, by David Laskin. HarperCollins (2004), 318 pages. From On the Banks of Plum Creek, by Laura Ingalls Wilder: “Then I’d better get the wood up before we go to town,” said Pa. “I don’t like the sound of that wind, and they tell...

Strength in What Remains

Rating:  Strength in What Remains, by Tracy Kidder.  Random House (2009), 277 pages. Kidder tells the story in Strength in What Remains of Deo, a young man from Burundi who survives the Hutu/Tutsi massacres in 1994 and arrives in New York City with only...

The Captured

Rating:  The Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier, by Scott Zesch. St. Martin’s Press (2004), 382 pages. This is a book about child abductions, perpetrated by the Native Americans against the settlers, in a very specific place...

How to Raise the Perfect Dog

Rating:  How to Raise the Perfect Dog:  Through Puppyhood and Beyond, by Cesar Millan.  Harmony Books (2009), 303 pages. This is not a book that will teach you how to train a puppy.  There are no detailed instructions for housebreaking, leash walking, or any...

The Snakehead

Rating:  The Snakehead:  An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream, by Patrick Radden Keefe.  Doubleday (2009), 414 pages. In June of 1993, in the middle of the night, a ship ran aground a few hundred yards off the Rockaway Peninsula in...