A Season in the Sun

sunSports stars come and go, but sometimes a man seems made for the moment. In “A Season in the Sun” by  Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith recalls Mickey Mantle’s finest season (1956), both on the field and in acclaim.  That year, Mantle led the league in batting average, runs batted in, and homers (challenging Ruth’s record)—a rare triple crown.   Mantel was a hit in the press as well—a golden boy from the heartland, he seemed to affirm good-old American values.    The image was strained—given to late-night partying and nagged by injuries, Mantle often struggled to report to the baseball diamond. In 1956, tho’, it all came to together for him.  Author Roberts and Smith detail both Mantle’s exploits on the field and the PR machine that sold his country boy image to a war-weary nation.  Even die hard Red Sox fans should find this an engaging read.

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Snapshot of history 2, where wrongs are righted

CADAVER.jpgWhile history turns on pivotal events, the wheels of justice grind slow. So we find in “The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist” by Radley Balko (“Rise of the Warrior Cop”).  Drs Steven Hayne and Michael West built successful careers as medical examiners in rural Mississippi, performing autopsies and serving as go-to experts for prosecutors.  But the evidence they provided was often faulty and biased, notably so in the cases Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks, both wrongly convicted  on the basis of the examiner’s evidence; both were acquitted in 2007. The authors methodically dissect the doctors’ testimonies and the justice system in which they were allowed to flourish.

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A snapshot of history

Sometimes history is best glimpsed in a passing moment. “West like Lightning” by Jim DeFelice details the ‘the brief, legendary ride of the Pony Express’ the mail service the united the east and west coasts before telegraph and rails.  Concocted by a trio of NY businessmen, the service charged $5 to deliver a message or letter cross country by horseback.  Defelice details both the how-to’s of the service (recruitment of riders, stations for changing horses) and the riders harrowing encounters with hostile natives, wild animals and feuding settlers.    It’s a delightfully wild ride through history.  People wanting to go on the the next chapter might try Railroaded, the story of the first transcontinental rail lines.

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Turning Points

The Cuban Missile Crisis may have been one of the most terrifying thirteen days in human history. “Above and Beyond” by Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias adds a personal element to the story by emphasizing the role of the spy plane pilots who discovered the missile sites and monitored Soviet moves. Their deeds are juxtaposed with Kennedy’s strategizing to tell an “an adventure yarn worthy of a great spy novelist” –but one far consequential.  Note that Garry Wills “The Kennedy Imprisonment” has a less flattering take on the late president’s missile diplomacy.   Meanwhile, “Three days in Moscow” by Brent Baier credits the president for turning “the evil empire” onto a path of democracy. The three days were the lead up to an address delivered at Moscow State University, where Reagan spoke hopefully of making friends of old antagonists.    Although an arms reduction pact had already been reached), the talk publicly signaled the change in relations. Reagan’s diplomatic initiative was continued by his successor, George Bush.

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Cliffhangers

suspenseIn “Twisted Prey” by John Sandford, a rogue senator is using intelligence data for personal vendettas. In “The Fallen” by David Baldacci, “memory man” Amos Decker investigates a string of murders in a rust belt town.  “The 17th Suspect” by James Patterson means its another month and time to catch another serial killer. In “After Anna” by Lisa Scottoline, responsibility for a death in the family may land on a family’s doorstep. And finally, “Shoot First” by Stuart Woods offers Bond-like adventure (exotic locales, romantic dalliances, fast paced action).

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Flying proud

New Library Banner Our new ‘open’ logo banner at the library.  There be books here.

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Flicks: ghost story

hm.jpgIn “Winchester”, Helen Mirren play the heiress to the Winchester firearms  fortune. She is building a mansion on an isolated stretch of land 50 miles outside of San Francisco. To outsiders, it looks like a demented monument to a disturbed woman. But she is not building for herself; it is a home vengeful ghosts who have scores to settle with the Winchesters.

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