Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fresh Ink on the Non-Fiction Shelves
Is The Book of Mormon the Great American Novel?

Decades before Melville and Twain composed their great works, a farmhand and child seer named Joseph Smith unearthed a long-buried book from a haunted hill in western New York State that told of an epic history of ancient America, a story about a family that fled biblical Jerusalem and took a boat to the New World. Using his prophetic gift, Joseph translated the mysterious book into English and published it under the title The Book of Mormon. The book caused an immediate sensation, sparking anger and violence, boycotts and jealousy, curiosity and wonder, and launched Joseph on a wild, decades-long adventure across the American West.

Today The Book of Mormon, one of the most widely circulating works of American literature, continues to cause controversy—which is why most of us know very little about the story it tells.

Avi Steinberg wants to change that. A fascinated nonbeliever, Steinberg spent a year and a half on a personal quest, traveling the path laid out by Joseph’s epic. Starting in Jerusalem, where The Book of Mormon opens with a bloody murder, Steinberg continued to the ruined Maya cities of Central America—the setting for most of the The Book of Mormon’s ancient story—where he gallivanted with a boisterous bus tour of believers exploring Maya archaeological sites for evidence. From there the journey took him to upstate New York, where he participated in the true Book of Mormon musical, the annual Hill Cumorah Pageant. And finally Steinberg arrived at the center of the American continent, Jackson County, Missouri, the spot Smith identified as none other than the site of the Garden of Eden.

Threaded through this quirky travelogue is an argument for taking The Book of Mormon seriously as a work of American imagination. Literate and funny, personal and provocative, the genre-bending The Lost Book of Mormon boldly explores our deeply human impulse to write bibles and discovers the abiding power of story.
A hilarious and informative primer on the most urgent issues of our day, from the creators and co-hosts of "Citizen Radio," a 100% listener-supported show whose slogan is "independent radio that won't lead you to war."

#Newsfail is not your grandmother's comedic-memoir-slash-political-manifesto. From page one (in a preface titled, "In Which the Authors Interview Ralph Nader in the Bathtub"), comedian Jamie Kilstein and journalist Allison Kilkenny pledge to give you the news like you've never gotten it before.
On issues ranging from feminism to gun control, climate change to class war, foreign policy to net neutrality, they tell you how the mainstream media gets it left, right, and utterly, unforgivably, irresponsibly wrong--think Noam Chomsky as channeled by Fred and Carrie from "Portlandia." #Newsfail is all this, plus the story of Allison and Jamie's own DIY foray into independent media via their podcast, "Citizen Radio," which has featured guests such as Jeremy Scahill, Sarah Silverman, Glenn Greenwald, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, and been downloaded millions of times by people all over the world.

Their mission is truth-telling above brainwashing. All you have to do is listen.
What is it about Yellowstone National Park that draws millions of visitors from all over the world? If you've visited Yellowstone, you should already know the answer. If you've never visited--or you have, but still don't know the answer--Michael Leach explains it to you in his book of essays, Grizzlies On My Mind.

Leach is a Yellowstone insider with unmatched passion for this nation's first national park. At the age of twenty-two, Leach's dream of becoming a Yellowstone ranger came true. It wasn't long before he'd earned the nickname "Rev" for his powerful Yellowstone "sermons."

In Grizzlies on My Mind, Leach shares his love for Yellowstone--its landscapes and wildlife, especially its iconic bison and grizzlies--as he tells tales that will delight anyone interested in the national park system, wildlife and wild landscapes, rivers and adventure. Heartwarming and heartbreaking stories of human lives lost, efforts to save a black bear cub, a famous wolf who helped Leach through some dark personal days, the unique and oftentimes humorous Yellowstone "culture," backpacking trips that nearly ended in disaster, and Leach's spiritual journey with his Assiniboine-Gros Ventre "brother" fill the pages--and the reader's heart.

If you've never been charged by an elk, traveled solo at dawn across Yellowstone's frigid interior (working your way slowly through a herd of peaceful bison in the process), or lain awake in a backcountry tent, listening for the spine-tingling breaths of a curious grizzly--but you crave such experiences, Grizzlies on My Mind is the book for you.

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