Thursday, April 24, 2014

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: The Most Dangerous Man in America

The Most Dangerous Man in America: The Making of Douglas MacArthur
by Mark Perry

At times, even his admirers seemed unsure of what to do with General Douglas MacArthur. Imperious, headstrong, and vain, MacArthur matched an undeniable military genius with a massive ego and a rebellious streak that often seemed to destine him for the dustbin of history. Yet despite his flaws, MacArthur is remembered as a brilliant commander whose combined-arms operation in the Pacific; the first in the history of warfare; secured America's triumph in World War II and changed the course of history.

In The Most Dangerous Man in America, celebrated historian Mark Perry examines how this paradox of a man overcame personal and professional challenges to lead his countrymen in their darkest hour. As Perry shows, Franklin Roosevelt and a handful of MacArthur's subordinates made this feat possible, taming MacArthur, making him useful, and finally making him victorious. A gripping, authoritative biography of the Pacific Theater's most celebrated and misunderstood commander, The Most Dangerous Man in America reveals the secrets of Douglas MacArthur's success; and the incredible efforts of the men who made it possible. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Lucky Planet Why Earth is Exceptional - and What that Means for Life in the Universe

Lucky Planet: Why Earth Is Exceptional - And What That Means for Life in the Universe
by David Waltham

Humankind has long fantasized about life elsewhere in the universe. And as we discover countless exoplanets orbiting other stars among them, rocky super-Earths and gaseous Hot Jupiters, we become ever more hopeful that we may come across extraterrestrial life. Yet even as we become aware of the vast numbers of planets outside our solar system, it has also become clear that Earth is exceptional. The question is: why?

In Lucky Planet, astrobiologist David Waltham argues that Earth's climate stability is one of the primary factors that makes it able to support life, and that nothing short of luck made such conditions possible. The four billion year stretch of good weather that our planet has experienced is statistically so unlikely, he shows, that chances are slim that we will ever encounter intelligent extraterrestrial others. Describing the three factors that typically control a planet's average temperature, the heat received from its star, how much heat the planet absorbs, and the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, Waltham paints a complex picture of how special Earth's climate really is.

Waltham challenges the prevailing scientific consensus that other Earth-like planets have natural stabilizing mechanisms that allow life to flourish. A lively exploration of the stars above and the ground beneath our feet, Lucky Planet presents a new perspective of the surprising role chance plays in our place in the universe. 


Friday, April 11, 2014

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Napoleon in America

Napoleon in America 

by Shannon Selin

What if Napoleon Bonaparte had escaped from St. Helena and wound up in the United States?  The former French Emperor Napoleon has been imprisoned on a small dark rock in the Atlantic since his defeat at Waterloo in 1815. Rescued in a state of near-death by Gulf pirate Jean Laffite, Napoleon lands in New Orleans, where he struggles to regain his health aided by voodoo priestess Marie Laveau.

It is unusual for me to learn about a book when it's publisher is small and Canadian.  However, Shannon Selin's alternate history debut is highly praised by Kirkis Reviews:

      Evocative and immersive, Selin’s debut historical fiction twists
Napoleon’s fate … vigorous, engrossing and remarkably realistic. A
thorough, sweeping novel with seamless transitions from the real to the imagined.

Are Napoleon's intentions as peaceful as he says they are? His brother Joseph pleads with him to settle peacefully in New Jersey. Opponents of the Bourbon regime expect him to reconquer France. French Canadians beg him to seize Canada from Britain. American adventurers urge him to steal Texas from Mexico.  And what of Napoleon's ten-year-old son, trapped in the velvet fetters of the Austrian court?
If you enjoy alternate history or 19th century historical fiction, Napoleon in America is for you. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Andrew Carnegie Medal Shortlist for Fiction and Nonfiction Announced

The American Library Association has announced the finalists for the prestigious Andrew Carnegie Medal.  The books selected represent the best American adult titles published in the previous calendar year.  The winner will be announced at ALA's June meeting.  

In the meantime, here are great titles to add to your spring/summer reading list OR click on the links and reserve a copy at our library right now!  Remember we also offer these titles on Book on CD and Downloadable E-Book & Audiobook.

2014 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction Shortlist
 Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism,
 by Doris Kearns GoodwinFive Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged
 Hospital, by Sheri FinkOn Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History,
 by Nicholas Basbanes

The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism. By Doris Kearns Goodwin.

2014 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction Shortlist

Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieClaire of the Sea Light, by Edwidge DanticatThe Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

Americanah. By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Claire of the Sea Light. By Edwidge Danticat.

The Goldfinch. By Donna Tartt.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Book Spotlight: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
by Claire North


Harry August is on his deathbed. Again.

No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes.

Until now.

As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. "I nearly missed you, Doctor August," she says. "I need to send a message."This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.

North has written a mystery involving Harry August, an immortal who is reborn after death, and retains the memories of his previous lives. This book is full of plot and there's a lot going on as the story ranges back and forth in time as episodes of Harry's past lives are reveled.

The author Claire North is a pseudonym for an acclaimed British author, with several published novels, who's real name is being kept secret for now.

Can you guess who it is?

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Support Massachusetts authors and read the books selected for the Massachusetts Must-Read list for
2014!  The four categories are Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Children's/Young Adult.  These books created by Massachusetts authors and books about Massachusetts have been chosen because they will lead to conversations in the community.

The titles currently available in Minuteman are linked to our catalog so you can place a request and read a summary of the book and it's reviews.  Contact the library if you would like to request a title that is not currently in the catalog.

Pick up one of these titles today and share with your friends and book groups.

Along the Watchtower, David Litwack (Double Dragon)
The Celestials, Karen Shepard (Tin House)
The Hanging Judge, Michael Ponsor (Open Road Media)
News from Heaven, Jennifer Haigh (Harper)
Together Tea, Marjan Kamali (Ecco)
Vatican Waltz, Roland Merullo (Crown)

NonfictionBook of Ages, Jill Lepore (Knopf)
A Fort of Nine Towers, Qais Akbar Omar (FSG)
Breach of Trust, Andrew Bacevich (Metropolitan)
The Last Train to Zona Verde, Paul Theroux (HMH)
Margaret Fuller, Megan Marshall (HMH)
Miss Anne in Harlem, Carla Kaplan (Harper)


Belmont, Stephen Burt (Graywolf)
Boy Singing to Cattle, Mark D. Hart (Pearl Editions)
Frost in the Low Areas, Karen Skolfield (Zone 3 Press )
Grass Whistle, Amy Dryansky (Salmon)
Inside the Splintered Wood, Myles Gordon (Tebot Bach )
Strange Borderlands, Ben Berman (Able Muse)

Children's/Young Adult
The Extra, Kathryn Lasky (Candlewick)
White Fur Flying, Patricia MacLachlan (McElderry/S&S)
Journey, Aaron Becker (Candlewick)
Garden Princess, Kristin Kladstrup (Candlewick)
The First Drawing, Mordicai Gerstein (Little, Brown BYR)
A Place for Turtles, Melissa Stewart (Peachtree)