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A Shaker's Journey
Issachar Bates (1758-1837) was a Revolutionary War veteran in rural upstate New York who, at the age of forty-three, abruptly turned from his family life to become a celibate Shaker. He immediately became instrumental in Shakerism's westward expansion, and his personal charisma, persuasive preaching, and musical talent helped stimulate the movement's growth. Bates drew "western" converts in abundance, profoundly changing the character of Shakerism by increasing its geographic reach. He also helped shape the Shakers' unique theology and hymnody through his many influential texts and songs.
The Station Nightclub Fire, America’s Deadliest Rock Concert
The definitive book on The Station nightclub fire on the 10th anniversary of the disaster On February 20, 2003, the deadliest rock concert in U.S. history took place at a roadhouse called The Station in West Warwick, Rhode Island. That night, in the few minutes it takes to play a hard-rock standard, the fate of many of the unsuspecting nightclub patrons was determined with awful certainty. The blaze was ignited when pyrotechnics set off by Great White, a 1980s heavy-metal band, lit flammable polyurethane “egg crate” foam sound insulation on the club’s walls. In less than 10 minutes, 96 people were dead and 200 more were injured, many catastrophically. The final death toll topped out, three months later, at the eerily unlikely round number of 100. The story of the fire, its causes, and its legal and human aftermath is one of lives put at risk by petty economic decisions—by a band, club owners, promoters, building inspectors, and product manufacturers. Any one of those decisions, made differently, might have averted the tragedy. Together, however, they reached a fatal critical mass. Killer Show is the first comprehensive exploration of the chain of events leading up to the fire, the conflagration itself, and the painstaking search for evidence to hold the guilty to account and obtain justice for the victims. Anyone who has entered an entertainment venue and wondered, “Could I get out of here in a hurry?” will identify with concertgoers at The Station. Fans of disaster nonfiction and forensic thrillers will find ample elements of both genres in Killer Show.
Resurrecting the Past
Fort William Henry, America’s early frontier fort at the southern end of Lake George, New York, was a flashpoint for conflict between the British and French empires in America. The fort is perhaps best known as the site of a massacre of British soldiers by Native Americans allied with the French that took place in 1757. Over the past decade, new and exciting archeological findings, in tandem with modern forensic methods, have changed our view of life at the fort prior to the massacre, by providing physical evidence of the role that Native Americans played on both sides of the conflict.
Intertwining recent revelations with those of the past, Starbuck creates a lively narrative beginning with the earliest Native American settlement on Lake George. He pays special attention to the fort itself: its reconstruction in the 1950s, the major discoveries of the 1990s, and the archeological disclosures of the past few years. He further discusses the importance of forensic anthropology in uncovering the secrets of the past, reviews key artifacts discovered at the fort, and considers the relevance of Fort William Henry and its history in the twenty-first century. Three appendixes treat exhibits since the 1950s; foodways; and General Daniel Webb’s surrender letter of August 17, 1757.
Charles Ives, the Nostalgic Rebel
Mad Music is the story of Charles Edward Ives (1874-1954), the innovative American composer who achieved international recognition, but only after he'd stopped making music. While many of his best works received little attention in his lifetime, Ives is now appreciated as perhaps the most important American composer of the twentieth century and father of the diverse lines of Aaron Copland and John Cage. Ives was also a famously wealthy crank who made millions in the insurance business and tried hard to establish a reputation as a crusty New Englander. To Stephen Budiansky, Ives's life story is a personification of America emerging as a world power: confident and successful, yet unsure of the role of art and culture in a modernizing nation. Though Ives steadfastly remained an outsider in many ways, his life and times inform us of subjects beyond music, including the mystic movement, progressive anticapitalism, and the initial hesitancy of turn-of-the-century-America modernist intellectuals. Deeply researched and elegantly written, this accessible biography tells a uniquely American story of a hidden genius, disparaged as a dilettante, who would shape the history of music in a profound way.
Making use of newly published letters--and previously undiscovered archival sources bearing on the longstanding mystery of Ives's health and creative decline--this absorbing volume provides a definitive look at the life and times of a true American original.
Why Women Like Us Like to Drink (Or Not)
Make Mine a Double pours together a collection of witty, intelligent, and provocative pieces about women and their beverages of choice. Edited by humorist and academic mahatma Gina Barreca, the twenty-eight original essays here come from a diverse community of voices from ages twenty-one to seventy-nine, including such luminaries as Fay Weldon, Wendy Liebman, Amy Bloom, Liza Donnelly, Nicole Hollander, Beth Jones, Dawn Lundy Martin, and many others.
Equal parts paean to spirits, an open discussion of drinking (or not drinking), and a call to feminists everywhere to say "salut," Make Mine a Double shimmers with thoughtfulness, humor, and self-examination. These tales of women's complex relationships with alcohol are the story of every woman's effort to find her independence and sense of belonging, be it at a college party, a high-powered cocktail party, or on a stool at the neighborhood watering hole.
Barreca and the writers have agreed that all their profits from the book will be donated to Windham Hospital's "Gina's Friends" fund, which aids women in need.
Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars
It was an enigma of the Vietnam War: American troops kept killing the Viet Cong--and being killed in the process--and yet their ranks continued to grow. When CIA analyst Sam Adams uncovered documents suggesting a Viet Cong army more than twice as large as previously reckoned, another war erupted, this time within the ranks of America's intelligence community. Although originally clandestine, this conflict involving the highest levels of the U.S. government burst into public view during the acrimonious lawsuit Westmoreland v. CBS. The central issue in the suit, as in the war itself, was the calamitous failure of U.S. intelligence agencies to ascertain the strength of the Viet Cong and get that information to troops in a timely fashion. The legacy of this failure--whether caused by institutional inertia, misguided politics, or individual hubris--haunts our nation. In the era of Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden, Sam Adams' tireless crusade for "honest intelligence" resonates strongly today.
Toward a Sustainable Future
In this compelling and cogently argued book, Tom Wessels demonstrates how our current path toward progress, based on continual economic expansion and inefficient use of resources, runs absolutely contrary to three foundational scientific laws that govern all complex natural systems. It is a myth, he contends, that progress depends on a growing economy.
Wessels explains his theory with his three laws of sustainability: (1) the law of limits to growth, (2) the second law of thermodynamics, which exposes the dangers of increased energy consumption, and (3) the law of self-organization, which results in the marvelous diversity of such highly evolved systems as the human body and complex ecosystems. These laws, scientifically proven to sustain life in its myriad forms, have been cast aside since the eighteenth century, first by Western economists, political pragmatists, and governments attracted by the idea of unlimited growth, and more recently by a global economy dominated by large corporations, in which consolidation and oversimplification create large-scale inefficiencies in both material and energy usage.
Wessels makes scientific theory readily accessible by offering examples of how the laws of sustainability function in the complex systems we can observe in the natural world around us. He shows how systems such as forests can be templates for developing sustainable economic practices that will allow true progress. Demonstrating that all environmental problems have their source in a disregard for the laws of sustainability that is based on the myth of progress, he concludes with an impassioned argument for cultural change.
Eric Zencey’s frontal assault on the “infinite planet” foundations of neoconservative political thought Our planet is finite. Our political and economic systems were designed for an infinite planet. These difficult truths anchor the perceptive analysis offered in The Other Road to Serfdom and the Path to Sustainable Democracy. With wit, energy, and a lucid prose style, Eric Zencey identifies the key elements of “infinite planet” thinking that underlie our economics and our politics—and shows how they must change. Zencey’s title evokes F. A. Hayek, who argued that any attempt to set overall limits to free markets—any attempt at centralized planning—is “the road to serfdom.” But Hayek’s argument works only if the planet is infinite. If Hayek is right that planning and democracy are irreducibly in conflict, Zencey argues, then on a finite planet, “free markets operated on infinite planet principles are just the other road to serfdom.” The alternative is ecological economics, an emergent field that accepts limits to what humans can accomplish economically on a finite planet. Zencey explains this new school of thought and applies it to current political and economic concerns: the financial collapse, terrorism, population growth, hunger, the energy and oil industry’s social control, and the deeply rooted dissatisfactions felt by conservative “values” voters who have been encouraged to see smaller government and freer markets as the universal antidote. What emerges is a coherent vision, a progressive and hopeful alternative to neoconservative economic and political theory—a foundation for an economy that meets the needs of the 99% and just might help save civilization from ecological and political collapse.
Danger, Death, and Daring in the Mountains of the Northeast
An anthology of adventure and life-threatening dangers atop the peaks of the Northeast In the mountains, the difference between a pleasant day of hiking and a life-threatening disaster is as simple as a loose rock, a turned ankle, or a misjudged patch of ice. In an instant, even the most experienced and prepared of outdoorspersons can find themselves at the mercy of the elements (and their own choices) — and suddenly, sometimes tragically, the situation slips out their control. In this collection of over fifty tales of day hikes and long treks gone awry, the seasoned climber and writer Carol Stone White brings together some of her favorite tales of outdoor misadventure written by colleagues and fellow enthusiasts who have experienced the harsher side of climbing the peaks of New England and the Adirondacks. From freak falls to outrunning storms, from life-threatening hypothermia to the excitement of unlikely rescues, these tales inform as much as they entertain, teaching even the experienced climber that accidents can happen to anyone and that preparation and the ability to make split-second decisions can often mean the difference between life and death. Like sitting around the campfire sharing tales of terror and near death with your hiking buddies, this collection will appeal to the true outdoorsperson as well as the armchair adventurer.