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Environmental Loss and America's Iconic Fish
The angler's dream of fishing pristine waters in unspoiled country for sleek, healthy trout has turned fishing into a form of theater. It is a manufactured experience--much to the detriment of our rivers and streams. Americans' love of trout has reached a level of fervor that borders on the religious. Federal and state agencies, as well as nongovernmental lobbying groups, invest billions of dollars on river restoration projects and fish-stocking programs. Yet, their decisions are based on faulty logic and risk destroying species they are tasked with protecting. River ecosystems are modified with engineered structures to improve fishing, native species that compete with trout are eradicated, and nonnative invasive game fish are indiscriminately introduced, genetically modified, and selectively bred to produce more appealing targets for anglers--including the freakishly contrived "golden trout."
The Quest for the Golden Trout is about looking at our nation's rivers with a more critical eye--and asking more questions about both historic and current practices in fisheries management.
The Atlantic Monthly and Its Writers, 1857-1925
A record of Atlantic Monthly authors reads like a Who's Who of American literature. The magazine's stable of contributors included Mark Twain, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Frederick Douglass, Louisa May Alcott, Sarah Orne Jewett, Kate Chopin, Henry Adams, Frank Norris, Jack London, Henry James, Owen Wister, Robert Frost, and many others.
In Republic of Words, Susan Goodman brilliantly captures this emerging culture of arts, ideas, science, and literature of an America in its adolescence, as filtered through the intersecting lives and words of the best and brightest writers of the day. Through this lens, Goodman examines the life of the magazine from its emergence in 1857 through the 1920s.
A Combat Medic in Ramadi, Iraq
The National Guardsman, the citizen soldier called upon to fight for this nation in a time of war, is one of the least understood -- and perhaps one of the most compelling -- figures of the Iraq War. Saber's Edge is the story of a middle-aged Vermont firefighter called upon to be a soldier in the worst place on earth -- Ramadi, Iraq. In a few short weeks Thomas A. Middleton went from being a suburban dad to a combat medic traveling between platoons, filling in for other medics and engaging in some of the fiercest and most crucial fighting of the war.
This is the war as experienced from the ground level: days of tedium interspersed with the adrenalin of combat; moments of lighthearted laughter broken by the sorrow of loss. This is also the story of the unique wartime perspective of our guardsmen. Unlike the raw, unformed young recruit, the mature guardsman often comes with the burdens of family, experience, and a developed sense of self. Accordingly, Sgt. Middleton's story chronicles the inner conflict created by his long-time professional role as a healer and his newfound life as a warrior in the urban battlefields of Iraq. Thrust into a culture and theater of war that he is little equipped or trained for, the author tries to make sense of his actions. Coarsened by combat and increasingly disdainful of the local population, he receives solace and insight from his life-long faith and ultimately emerges as a man who understands his role in the world.
Saber's Edge is also the story of the Green Mountain Boys of Task Force Saber: a story of comradeship and communion amid fierce street fighting in a crucial theater of the Iraq War (the eventual site of the "Al Anbar Awakening"). Based on the author's first-hand experiences and interviews with other soldiers, Saber's Edge presents a riveting account of modern urban warfare and the inspiring story of one man reconciling his actions in warfare.
John Cage and the American Experimental Tradition
Christopher Shultis has observed an intriguing contrast between John Cage's affinity for Thoreau and fellow composer Charles Ives's connection with Emerson. Although both Thoreau and Emerson have been called transcendentalists, they held different views about the relationship between nature and humanity and about the artist's role in creativity. Shultis explores the artist's "sounded" or "silenced" selves--the self that takes control of the creative experience versus the one that seeks to coexist with it--and shows how recognizing this distinction allows a better understanding of Cage. He then extends the contrasts between Emerson and Thoreau to distinctions between objective and projective verse. Having placed Cage in this experimental tradition of music, poetry, and literature, Shultis offers provocative interpretations of Cage's aesthetic views, especially as they concern the issue of non-intention, and addresses some of his most path-breaking music as well as several experimentally innovative written works.
The Making and Unmaking of a National Marine Sanctuary
The Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is located at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay, only twenty-five miles east of Boston. The area's nutrient-rich waters attract a cornucopia of sea life--which in turn supports both recreational and commercial fisheries, along with a lucrative whale-watching industry. Peter Borrelli, who served on the sanctuary's federally appointed advisory council for more than ten years, provides an insider's view of the problems of managing a chronically under-funded marine preserve that is often of two minds about its mission. This is a sobering and well-considered examination of what happens when well-intentioned legislation meets the reality of trying to protect an extremely delicate and intensely popular ecosystem.
Women's Strategic Use of Humor
Published by Viking in 1991 and issued as a paperback through Penguin Books in 1992, Snow White became an instant classic for both academic and general audiences interested in how women use humor and what others (men) think about funny women. Barreca, who draws on the work of scholars, writers, and comedians to illuminate a sharp critique of the gender-specific aspects of humor, provides laughs and provokes arguments as she shows how humor helps women break rules and occupy center stage. Barreca's new introduction provides a funny and fierce, up-to-the-minute account of the fate of women's humor over the past twenty years, mapping what has changed in our culture--and questioning what hasn't.
The personal reflections and insights of one professor and writer on the experience of teaching at the “poorest college in America” Since 1986, Robert Klose has taught biology at a “small, impoverished, careworn” college in central Maine. Located on a former military base, the school became first the South Campus of the University of Maine, or SCUM, and later, Penobscot Valley Community College, then Bangor Community College, and most recently University College of Bangor. Despite its improved nomenclature, University College of Bangor remains an open-admissions environment at which “one never knows what’s going to come in over the transom.” Klose’s nontraditional students have included, in addition to single parents and veterans, the homeless, the abused, ex-cons, and even a murderer (who was otherwise “a very nice person”). Chronicling his experiences teaching these diverse students, Klose describes with equal doses of care and wry wit those who are profoundly unfit for college, their often inadequate command of the lingua franca, and the alacrity with which they seize upon the paranormal (the three-legged woman) while expressing skepticism about mainstream science. He reflects on the decline of reading for enjoyment and the folly of regarding email as a praiseworthy substitute for expository writing. He details what works in the classroom, identifies what has failed, and relates stories of the absurd, the sublime, and the unanticipated, such as one student’s outburst following a discussion of evolution: “For what you have taught today you shall be damned to everlasting fires of hell!” Tempering thoughtfulness with a light touch and plenty of humor, these essays prove that teaching, an “imperfect occupation,” remains a “special profession.”
Edmund Wilson and Mary McCarthy on Cape Cod
The Cape as evoked and experienced by a legendary literary couple Edmund Wilson (1895–1972) and Mary McCarthy (1912–1989), famed authors, literary critics, libertines, and leftists, were married for seven years and had one child together, Reuel K. Wilson. While bringing forward new biographical revelations, as well as texts that have never been published before, Reuel K. Wilson chronicles his parents’ lives on Cape Cod, together and apart, while examining their relationships with the landscape around them, both human and physical. The book combines biography, cultural history, and literary analysis in an effort to, as the author writes, “impart a sense of the two protagonists’ flesh, blood, nerves, and determination to make an artistic synthesis from observation and experience. If they recreate the place, my role has been to recreate them in it.”
America's Failing Infrastructure and the Way Forward
In August 2007, the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, killing 13 people and injuring 145 others. Investigations following the tragedy revealed that it was not an unavoidable accident, but one that could have been prevented--and one that threatens to be repeated at many thousands of bridges located across the nation. Already more than 50 percent of our bridges are past their intended lifespan. Using the I-35W Bridge as a starting point, LePatner chronicles the problems that led to that catastrophe--poor bridge design, shoddy maintenance, ignored expert recommendations for repair, and misallocated funding--and then explores the responses to the tragedy, including the NTSB document which failed to report the full story to our nation.
From here LePatner evaluates what the I-35W Bridge collapse means for the country as a whole--outlining the possibility of a nationwide infrastructure breakdown. He exposes government failure on a national as well as state level, uncovering how our nation's transportation system prioritizes funding for new projects over maintenance funding for aging infrastructure. He explains the imperatives for why we must maintain an effective infrastructure system, and how it plays a central role in supporting both our nation's economic strength and our national security.
Written both for those who can effect change and for those who must demand it, Too Big to Fall presents an eye-opening critique of a bureaucratic system that has allowed political best interests to trump those of the American people.