April 2012 Archives

The Rembrandt Affair

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Click for availability and more information The Rembrandt Affair, by Daniel Silva
 
For the legion of Daniel Silva fans, The Rembrandt Affair continues the terrifically engaging series of books featuring the fictional character Gabriel Allon and displays the high level of reading enjoyment found in his other books. Allon is a very interesting character with a double life - in his "cover" career he is a professional restorer of fine art paintings that masks his other life as an intelligence officer for the Israeli government. As readers of Silva's books featuring Allon know, he manages to become involved in episodes of political and international intrigue. In the Rembrandt Affair, Allon has supposedly retired from his high powered adventures to enjoy life on the English coast with is art work. However, he is recruited to help an old friend find a missing Rembrandt painting. By agreeing to do that seemingly simple task, Allon becomes deeply involved in yet another affair of murder, Middle Eastern politics, corrupt business practices and issues of world-wide security. Several characters have appeared in other Silva books and each contributes key actions to help resolve this crisis. The Rembrandt Affair is fun and highly enjoyable reading. For readers who become fans of Silva, this reviewer encourages they read his other Allon books in order of publication. These titles are held at The Greenwich Library.
-Roy

My Brother, the Pope

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Click for availability and more information My Brother, the Pope, by Georg Ratzinger
 
Georg Ratzinger's recollections of his family's life, and especially that of his brother Joseph (Pope Benedict XVI) form the basis of this book, starting with memories such as Joseph as a small boy regularly visiting a stuffed bear in the local shop and being heart-broken when it disappeared. His memories are interspersed with sections by the interviewer that help provide context and background. As a student, Joseph was a natural scholar, not only doing assigned work, but always reading additional books to explore ideas more fully. The Ratzingers were a close knit and devout family whose hatred of National Socialism made the war years especially difficult. Both boys always expected to be priests. However, Joseph never sought nor wanted important positions of prominence, but would have been happy spending his life as a teacher/priest/scholar. Being selected Pope came as "a thunderbolt", but, as always, he put himself at the disposal of the Holy Spirit and did/does the best he can.
-Nancy

Click for availability and more information City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas, by Roger Crowley
 
Venice has remained an extraordinarily dazzling city set on a series of islands in a lagoon off the northern coast of Italy. While it has gathered many romantic and fanciful nicknames over the years, perhaps the most appropriate is Stato da Mar or State across the Sea. And, the trading across the sea was the source of the riches that made Venice into a great empire for centuries. Roger Crowley's latest book, City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas, is a terrifically readable and fascinating history of the rise of the Venetian Empire. With his clear and concise writing style, he relates how the commercially-driven city of Venice grew into a strong, wealthy and colonizing force in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Venetians became extremely efficient in establishing seaside cities as their exclusive trading zones. And, the profit to Venice was huge. Crowley uses primary sources with ease and the descriptions give the reader a first-hand glimpse into the Venetian world of commerce. Equally, the growth of Venice as military power is described. Perhaps the most vivid is the participation of Venice in the Fourth Crusade. That was a horrendously destructive expedition designed to re-establish Christian power over the Holy Land. Venice played a key role in conquering and pillaging Constantinople. However, that control only lasted several decades during the Thirteen Century. In all, City of Fortune is a highly recommended historical account of the rise and fall of the Venetian Empire.
-Roy

The Garner Files

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Click for availability and more information The Garner Files, by James Garner
 
My wife, Linda, brought home a book to me titled The Garner Files. This is an autobiography of actor James Garner written in collaboration with Jon Winokur. I was a big fan of the Rockford Files and particularly James Garner, who played the lead. His delivery was so smooth and he was so natural. The book covers his early life in Oklahoma. His mother died when he was young, and his father was always on the road. Jim and his brothers ended up living with relatives. He was a rebel-rouser when he was young, and made money at odd jobs. The book relates how he never finished school, was wounded in the Korean War and fell into acting by accident. There are many anecdotes about his interactions with fellow actors. He imparts his philosophy of acting, which is based on reacting to what other people say. This book is well-written and easy to read. If you're like me, you'll develop a new-found respect for James Garner.
-Carl

Ninth Ward

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Click for availability and more information Ninth Ward, by Jewell Parker Rhodes
 
Twelve year-old Lanesha lives in New Orleans with Mama Ya-Ya, her adopted grandmother. Mama Ya-Ya has taught Lanesha to understand the "signs" of nature and dreams, and to pay attention to the spirits that surround them. Their special gifts and inner strength are what they rely upon as Hurricane Katrina hits their neighborhood. A Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award book.
-Deirdre

Who Was King Tut?

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Click for availability and more information Who Was King Tut?, by Roberta Edwards
 
The life and times of the ancient Egyptian ruler, covering the story of the tomb's discovery, as well as myths and stories of mummy curses and life in Ancient Egypt. A popular biography series.
-Deirdre

Click for availability and more information City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas , by Roger Crowley
 
Venice has remained an extraordinarily dazzling city set on a series of islands in a lagoon off the northern coast of Italy. While it has gathered many romantic and fanciful nicknames over the years, perhaps the most appropriate is Stato da Mar or State across the Sea. And, the trading across the sea was the source of the riches that made Venice into a great empire for centuries. Roger Crowley's latest book, City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas, is a terrifically readable and fascinating history of the rise of the Venetian Empire. With his clear and concise writing style, he relates how the commercially-driven city of Venice grew into a strong, wealthy and colonizing force in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Venetians became extremely efficient in establishing seaside cities as their exclusive trading zones. And, the profit to Venice was huge. Crowley uses primary sources with ease and the descriptions give the reader a first-hand glimpse into the Venetian world of commerce. Equally, the growth of Venice as military power is described. Perhaps the most vivid is the participation of Venice in the Fourth Crusade. That was a horrendously destructive expedition designed to re-establish Christian power over the Holy Land. Venice played a key role in conquering and pillaging Constantinople. However, that control only lasted several decades during the Thirteen Century. In all, City of Fortune is a highly recommended historical account of the rise and fall of the Venetian Empire.
-Roy

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