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Bookmarked: The Trials of Teaching for America, Nursing Home Survival Guide, and the Founding Fathers on Presidential Power

Every day, new books arrive in the offices of Utne Reader. It would be impossible to review all of them, but a shame to leave many hidden on the shelves. In "Bookmarked," we link to excerpts from some of our favorites, hoping they'll inspire a trip to your local library or bookstore. Enjoy! 


Teaching in the TerrordomeTeaching in the Terrordome (University of Missouri Press, 2012) tells the story of how Heather Kirn Lanier joined Teach For America, a program that thrusts eager but inexperienced college graduates into America’s most impoverished areas to teach, asking them to do whatever is necessary to catch their disadvantaged kids up to the rest of the nation. Teaching at Southwestern High School, a.k.a. “The Terrordome,” in West Baltimore, Lanier had to overcome obstacles such as a disintegrating building, suspicious colleagues and even violent actions from the students. Despite shining statistics presented by the organization, here is a more common story of “Teaching For America,” written with thoughtful complexity, a poet’s eye and an engaging voice. Read about Lanier’s first impressions of West Baltimore and the school she would be teaching at in this excerpt taken from Chapter 1, “The School Beside the Cemetery.”

 

 

Live a Good Life in a Nursing HomeMaking Myself at Home in a Nursing Home (Vanderbilt University Press, 2012) by Sandra Gaffney is the personal account of the author’s long-term care in a nursing home after being diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Over 16 years, Sandra lived in nursing homes in Florida, Virginia and Minnesota.  During this time she became an acute observer and strategist about how to “live a good life” and navigate day-to-day issues such as how to furnish the room, talk to staff and understand nursing home culture. Read Chapter 1, “About Myself.”

 








Mr. President Book Cover During the last two weeks of the Federal Convention of 1787, delegates found themselves perplexed by, in the words of James Madison, “a point of great importance” — who should rule over a newly created nation? In Mr. President: How and Why the Founders Created a Chief Executive (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012), Ray Raphael recreates the formation of the executive office, giving those interested in political history a narrative insight into the decisions behind the creation of American presidential power. In this excerpt from the book’s prologue, Raphael sets the tense and questioning scene. 

 

Bookmarked: Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, Killing the Poormaster

Every day, new books arrive in the offices of Utne Reader. It would be impossible to review all of them, but a shame to leave many hidden on the shelves. In "Bookmarked," we link to excerpts from some of our favorites, hoping they'll inspire a trip to your local library or bookstore. Enjoy! 

 

Billionaires And Ballot BanditsIn 2000, Greg Palast exposed how Katherine Harris removed thousands of innocent Black citizens from voter rolls as “felons.” It was Palast for Rolling Stone, with co-author Bobby Kennedy, who uncovered more ballot-bending trickery—from inane ID laws to “caging” of absentee ballots that earned the thanks of the US Civil Rights Commission. Now, in Billionaires & Ballot Bandits (Seven Stories Press, 2012), Palast tells two stories: First, the 9 ways over 5.9 million votes can be stolen in November 2012—unless the ballot bandits are stopped. And, second, how billionaire PAC-men purchase Congress and the White House through a mudslide of money. Discover the dirty strategies that discourage Hispanic voter registration in this excerpt taken from Chapter 26, “Block the Vote.”
 


 

 Killing The PoormasterReflecting on a sensational, Depression-era murder trial, Killing the Poormaster (Lawrence Hill Books, 2012) by Holly Metz chronicles the events that lead up to—and follow—the death of Harry Barck, a poormaster who was granted the authority to decide who would and would not receive public aid in Hoboken, New Jersey. The conditions that plagued the American people during the Great Depression—massive unemployment, endemic poverty and the inadequacy of public assistance—still trouble our world today. Find out how the conditions of unemployment during the Great Depression, from denied bread tickets to brutal abuse from corrupted officials, lead the American people to their last straw. Read an excerpt taken from Chapter 1, “Waiting for Nothing.”

Bookmarked: Death with Dignity, Jack Earle, and Mao Zedong

Every day, new books arrive in the offices of Utne Reader. It would be impossible to review all of them, but a shame to leave many hidden on the shelves. In "Bookmarked," we link to excerpts from some of our favorites, hoping they'll inspire a trip to your local library or bookstore. Enjoy! 

 

 

Death With DignityOver the past 100 years, the average life expectancy in America has nearly doubled. While longevity is celebrated as an achievement, the longer people live, the more likely they are to succumb to chronic, terminal illness. At Liberty to Die (New York University Press, 2012) by Howard Ball dissects the battle for death with dignity in America and explores the pressing question: is it appropriate, legally and ethically, for a competent individual to have the liberty to decide how and when to die when faced with terminal illness? Read an excerpt taken from the book’s introduction.
 


 


 

The Long Shadow of Jack EarleIn The Long Shadows (Multicultural Publications, 2012), author Andrew Erlich tells the inspiring story of his uncle Jake Erlich, better known by his stage name Jack Earle. Read the story of Jake’s exceptional life overcoming crippling shyness, depression, temporary blindness and the physical challenges of an 8-foot-6-inch frame. Follow his lifetime of 46 years, and uncover the story of how Jake earned widespread acclaim for his multi-faceted artistry as a silent film star, sideshow performer with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, dancer, musician, painter, poet, photographer and sculptor whose work is in a permanent collection in the Museum of Natural History in New York. This excerpt on Jake's first encounter with a Eugenics rally is taken from Chapter 18, “Major General George Moseley, U.S. Army, Retired.”

  

Mao The Real StoryMao Zedong was one of the most important figures of the twentieth century and arguably the most important figure in the history of modern China. MAO: The Real Story (Simon & Schuster, 2012) by Alexander V. Pantsov and Steven I. Levine creates a detailed and revelatory portrait of a complex world leader. Pantsov and Levine show Mao’s relentless drive to succeed, vividly describing his growing role in the nascent Communist Party of China. They disclose startling facts about his personal life, particularly regarding his health and his lifelong serial affairs with young women. They portray him as the loyal Stalinist that he was, who never broke with the Soviet Union until after Stalin’s death. Learn how biographers depicted Mao as a romantic revolutionary in this excerpt taken from the introduction, “Myths and Realities.”  

Bookmarked: Degree Mills

Every day, new books arrive in the offices of Utne Reader. It would be impossible to review all of them, but a shame to leave many hidden on the shelves. In "Bookmarked," we link to excerpts from some of our favorites, hoping they'll inspire a trip to your local library or bookstore.  Enjoy!
 
 

Degree MillsDo you know where your doctor, lawyer or professor earned his or her degree? You might want to double-check the fine print because a diploma on the wall is no guarantee. In Degree Mills, former FBI Agent Allen Ezell (Retired) and John Bear, Ph.D., expose the underground world of degree mills. A world where sales exceed $500 million a year and over a million fake degrees hang proudly in doctors’, clergymen’s and other professionals’ offices. Find out what constitutes a degree mill and how government agencies have responded to this blight throughout history in this excerpt from the introduction, "Another Day at the Office."

Bookmarked: Seeger, Rome, and Alzheimer's

Every day, new books arrive in the offices of Utne Reader. It would be impossible to review all of them, but a shame to leave many hidden on the shelves. In "Bookmarked," we link to excerpts from some of our favorites, hoping they'll inspire a trip to your local library or bookstore. Enjoy!
  

Pete Seeger In His Own WordsPete Seeger, a lifelong American musical and political icon, has eloquently written in books and for magazines, activist movements and union letters. Pete Seeger: In His Own Words (Paradigm Publishers, 2012) assembles an array of sources such as letters, notes to himself, published articles, stories and poetry that paints the most intimate picture of Seeger as a musician, activist and family man. Through his own words, learn about the lives of his ancestors, and discover why, at age 13, he wanted a banjo in this excerpt taken from Chapter 1, “Growing Up (1919 - 1934).”

  

   


  


Romes Last CitizenMarcus Porcius Cato the Younger was an aristocratic soldier who walked barefoot with his troops, a Stoic philosopher and staunch defender of sacred Roman tradition, a politician famous for his moral integrity and the final man to stand against Julius Caesar. Rome’s Last Citizen (Thomas Dunne Books, 2012) by Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni tells the story of an uncompromising individual who was the last man standing when Rome’s Republic finally fell. Find out how Cato inspired a whole nation during the American Revolution in this excerpt taken from the Preface, “The Dream.”








  

Living With DementiaChristine Bryden was forty-six years old when she was diagnosed with dementia. Who Will I Be When I Die? (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2012) is a written account of her emotional, physical and spiritual journey in the three years immediately following. While offering first-hand insights into how it feels to gradually lose the ability to undertake tasks most people take for granted, this account of living with dementia is told with positivity, strength and the deep sense that life continues to have purpose and meaning. Read Chapter 1, “I’m too young!”  

Bookmarked: Oceans, Hope, and Megacities

Every day, new books arrive in the offices of Utne Reader. It would be impossible to review all of them, but a shame to leave many hidden on the shelves. In "Bookmarked," we link to excerpts from some of our favorites, hoping they'll inspire a trip to your local library or bookstore. Enjoy! 

 

The Ocean Of LifeThe first time water rushed onto your toes, your feet buried in the sand, you couldn’t imagine the magnitude of the ocean or all that it held. In Callum Roberts’ vibrant book, The Ocean of Life (Viking, 2012), take a fascinating tour of the history of mankind’s relationship to the sea, from the course of currents first discovered by Benjamin Franklin to the effects of shrimp farming in present-day China. In the last 20 years we have transformed the oceans beyond recognition — and not for the better. Find out how current marine aquaculture conditions harm coastal ecosystems and what we can do to prevent further damage. Read Chapter 16, “Farming the Sea.”   

 

 

 

 

 

Active HopeThe challenges we face can be difficult even to think about. Desertification, mass extinction, peak oil and economic upheaval together create a planetary emergency of overwhelming proportions. Active Hope (New World Library, 2012) by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone shows us how to strengthen our capacity to face this crisis so that we can respond with unexpected resilience and creative power. Read an excerpt defining "active hope," taken from the introduction.











 

The Real Population BombBy 2025, at least 27 cities will have populations greater than 10 million and more than 600 cities will have populations greater than one million. Specific megacities, intimately connected to globalization, pose the most significant security and environmental threat to our existence. Drawing on the authors’ three decades of international fieldwork and seasoned policy analysis, The Real Population Bomb (Potomac Books, 2012) by P.H. Liotta and James F. Miskel discusses the effects these underserved megacities have on foreign, military, environmental and economic policies. Explore the historical dilemmas of megacities and how these problems are shaping the global, economic and environmental landscape of our world. Read Chapter 1, “Introduction: Welcome to the Urban Century.”   

 

 

Bookmarked: The Aztec Calendar, The Polluters, and a Haitian Wedding

Every day, new books arrive in the offices of Utne Reader. It would be impossible to review all of them, but a shame to leave many hidden on the shelves. In "Bookmarked," we link to excerpts from some of our favorites, hoping they'll inspire a trip to your local library or bookstore. Enjoy! 

 

The Dawn of the Sixth SunIs the world coming to an end in 2012? According to the Aztec calendar (different from the Mayan calendar), this is actually not the case. The Dawn of the Sixth Sun (Blossoming Books, 2012), by mystic and teacher of the Toltec/Aztec lineage Sergio Magaña (Ocelocoyotl), discloses an in-depth understanding of the Aztec calendar from a rich oral tradition. Magaña explains how the changing of the Suns will end one era and begin another with great opportunity for change in human consciousness. Read Chapter 1, “How Did It All Start? The Sowing of the Name…
 


 

 


 

The PollutersThe Polluters (Oxford University Press, 2010) is an unflinching story of the onslaught of chemical pollution and the chemical industry's unwillingness to face the devastating effects. The research by Benjamin Ross and Steve Amter reveals new documents that show industries knew of toxic hazards long before they were public, and reveals the political conflicts in which economic interests prevailed over environmental ones. Read Chapter 1, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentices.”


 


 

 

 

A Wedding in HaitiIn a story that travels beyond borders and between families, acclaimed Dominican novelist and poet Julia Alvarez reflects on the joys and burdens of love—for her parents, for her husband and for a young Haitian boy known as Piti. A Wedding In Haiti (Algonquin Books, 2012) is an intimate, true account of a promise kept. Alvarez takes us on a journey into experiences that challenge our way of thinking about history and how it can be reimagined when people from two countries—traditional enemies and strangers—become friends. Read Chapter 1, “Going to Piti’s Wedding in Haiti.”