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Decoding the Jargon, Slang, and Bluster of American Political Speech
To the amusement of the pundits and the regret of the electorate, our modern political jargon has become even more brazenly two-faced and obfuscatory than ever. Where once we had Muckrakers, now we have Bed-Wetters. Where Blue Dogs once slept peaceably in the sun, Attack Dogs now roam the land. During election season—a near constant these days—the coded rhetoric of candidates and their spin doctors, and the deliberately meaningless but toxic semiotics of the wing nuts and backbenchers, reach near-Orwellian levels of self-satisfaction, vitriol, and deceit. The average NPR or talk radio listener, MSNBC or Fox News viewer, or blameless New York Times or Wall Street Journal reader is likely to be perplexed, nonplussed, and lulled into a state of apathetic resignation and civic somnolence by the rapid-fire incomprehensibility of political pronouncement and commentary—which is, frankly, putting us exactly where the pundits want us.
Dog Whistles, Walk-Backs, and Washington Handshakes is a tonic and a corrective. It is a reference and field guide to the language of politics by two veteran observers that not only defines terms and phrases but also explains their history and etymology, describes who uses them against whom, and why, and reveals the most telling, infamous, amusing, and shocking examples of their recent use. It is a handbook of lexicography for the Wonkette and This Town generation, a sleeker, more modern Safire’s Political Dictionary, and a concise, pointed, bipartisan guide to the lies, obfuscations, and helical constructions of modern American political language, as practiced by real-life versions of the characters on House of Cards.
“His life had come to this: save a few deer from the jaws of dogs. He was a small man sent to perform a small task.”
Howard Elman is a man whose internal landscape is as disordered as his front yard, where native New Hampshire birches and maples mingle with a bullet-riddled washer, abandoned bathroom fixtures, and several junk cars. Howard, anti-hero of this first novel in Ernest Hebert’s highly acclaimed Darby Chronicles, is a man who is tough and tender.
Howard’s battle against encroaching change symbolizes the class conflict between indigenous Granite Staters scratching out a living and citified immigrants with “college degrees and big bank accounts.” Like the winter-weakened deer threatened by the dogs of March—the normally docile house pets whose instincts arouse them to chase and kill for sport—Howard, too, is sorely beset.
The seven novels of Hebert’s Darby Chronicles cover 35 years in the life of a small New England town as seen through the eyes of three families—the Elmans, the Salmons, and the Jordans—each representing a distinct social class. It all starts with The Dogs of March, cited for excellence in 1980 by the Hemingway Foundation (now the Pen Faulkner Award for Fiction).
A delightful account of Edward Hopper’s sojourns in Vermont with his wife, Jo, illustrated by the watercolors and drawings that he made there Edward and Jo Hopper first discovered Vermont in 1927, making day trips from the Whitney Studio Club’s summer retreat for New York artists in Charlestown, New Hampshire. In 1935 and 1936 the Hoppers again traveled to Vermont, this time from their summer home in Cape Cod, in Edward’s continuing search for new places to paint. During these quests they identified the White River and what Edward considered to be Vermont’s “finest” river valley, and they returned there for longer visits in 1937 and 1938, boarding at Robert and Irene Slater’s Wagon Wheels farm in South Royalton. These “vacations” were a change from the usual tempo of their lives, a break from the studio-bound easels, canvas, and oils, and an opportunity to paint something different, to be in a new place and paint en plein air. Over the course of his Vermont sojourns, Edward Hopper produced some two dozen paintings, watercolors that are among the most distinctive of his regional works, strongly characterized by place. In this accessible volume, Bonnie Tocher Clause tells the story of the Hoppers’ visits to Vermont, their stays on the Slater farm, and their introduction to farm life. She locates the sites shown in Hopper’s Vermont paintings, identifies two watercolors not previously recognized as Vermont scenes, and traces the development of Hopper’s singular interpretations of the Vermont landscape. In Edward Hopper in Vermont, Clause details the provenance of the Vermont paintings through the years, tracking the history of sales leading to the works’ ultimate homes with private collectors and museums. Showcasing all the Vermont paintings in color, this volume will delight both fans of Hopper’s work and those who are fascinated by the story of the creation, collection, and business of producing great art.
The Enigmatic Lives of Frances Caroline Adams and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
Joshua Chamberlain has fascinated historians and readers ever since his service in the Civil War caused his commanding officers to sit up and take notice when the young professor was on the field. What makes a man a gifted soldier and natural leader? In this compelling book, Diane Monroe Smith argues that finding the answer requires a consideration of Chamberlain's entire life, not just his few years on the battlefield. Truly understanding Chamberlain is impossible, Smith maintains, without exploring the life of Joshua's soul mate and wife of almost fifty years, Fanny. In this dual biography, Fanny emerges as a bright, talented woman who kept Professor, General, and then Governor Chamberlain on his toes. But you don't have to take Smith's word for it. Liberally quoting from years of correspondence, the author invites you to judge for yourself.
The Sierra Diablo Murders and Nazi Espionage in America
In 1938, Hazel Frome, the wife of a powerful executive at Atlas Powder Company, a San Francisco explosives manufacturer, set out on a cross-country motor trip with her twenty-three-year-old daughter, Nancy. When their car broke down in El Paso, Texas, they made the most of being stranded by staying at a posh hotel and crossing the border to Juarez for shopping, dining, and drinking. A week later, their near-nude bodies were found in the Chihuahuan Desert. Though they had been seen on occasion with two mystery men, there were no clues as to why they had apparently been abducted, tortured for days, and shot execution style.
El Paso sheriff Chris Fox, a lawman right out of central casting, engaged in a turf war with the Texas Rangers and local officials that hampered the investigation. But the victims’ detours had placed them in the path of a Nazi spy ring operating from the West Coast to Latin America through a deep-cover portal at El Paso. The sleeper cell was run by spymasters at the German consulate in San Francisco. In 1938, only the inner circle of the Roosevelt White House and a few FBI agents were aware of the extent to which German agents had infiltrated American industry.
Fetch the Devil is the first narrative account of this still officially unsolved case. Based on long forgotten archives and recently declassified FBI files, Richmond paints a convincing portrait of a sheriff’s dogged investigation into a baffling murder, the international spy ring that orchestrated it, and America on the brink of another world war.
The First 40 Years of the New England Patriots
Love them or hate them, what New England has been able to do over the past 15 years is nothing short of remarkable. Now, not only boasting four Super Bowl Championships, the Patriots also have the best coach in the league, a smart and savvy front office, and a future Hall of Fame quarterback who is internationally recognized as the face of the NFL. And as the Patriots continue to dominate, on the field as well as in the media and the American pop culture landscape, the harder it is for anyone to remember them as anything other than a model franchise and the ultimate paradigm of success and accomplishment.
Anyone, that is, except for Jerry Thornton. It wasn’t always sunshine and roses for the Patriots; in fact, for the bulk of their existence, it was exactly the opposite. Though difficult to fathom now, the New England Patriots of old were not just bad—they were laughably bad. Not too long ago, the Pats were not only the laughingstock of the NFL, but of the entire sporting world.
From Darkness to Dynasty reveals the unlikely history of the New England Patriots as it has never been told before. From their humble beginnings as a team bought with rainy day money by a man who had no idea what he was doing to that fateful 2001 season that saw them win their first Super Bowl, Jerry Thornton shares the wild, humiliating, unbelievable, and wonderful stories that comprised the first 40 years of what would ultimately become the most dominant franchise in NFL history.
Witty, hilarious, and brutally honest, From Darkness to Dynasty returns to the thrilling, perilous days of yesteryear—a welcome corrective for those who hate the Patriots, and a useful reminder, for those who love them, that all glory is fleeting.
Sex Workers and the Law
Alison Bass weaves the true stories of sex workers with the latest research on prostitution into a gripping journalistic account of how women (and some men) navigate a culture that routinely accepts the implicit exchange of sex for money, status, or even a good meal, but imposes heavy penalties on those who make such bargains explicit. Along the way, Bass examines why an increasing number of middle-class white women choose to become sex workers and explores how prostitution has become a thriving industry in the twenty-first-century global economy. Situating her book in American history more broadly, she also discusses the impact of the sexual revolution, the rise of the Nevada brothels, and the growing war on sex trafficking after 9/11.
Drawing on recent studies that show lower rates of violence and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, in regions where adult prostitution is legal and regulated, Bass makes a powerful case for decriminalizing sex work. Through comparisons of the impact of criminalization vs. decriminalization in other countries, her book offers strategies for making prostitution safer for American sex workers and the communities in which they dwell.
This riveting assessment of how U.S. anti-prostitution laws harm the public health and safety of sex workers and other citizens—and affect larger societal attitudes toward women—will interest feminists, sociologists, lawyers, health-care professionals, and policy makers. The book also will appeal to anyone with an interest in American history and our society’s evolving attitudes toward sexuality and marriage.
Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge
From October 2006 to December 2007, Daniel A. Sjursen—then a U.S. Army lieutenant—led a light scout platoon across Baghdad. The experiences of Ghost Rider platoon provide a soldier’s-eye view of the incredible complexities of warfare, peacekeeping, and counterinsurgency in one of the world’s most ancient cities.
Sjursen reflects broadly and critically on the prevailing narrative of the surge as savior of America’s longest war, on the overall military strategy in Iraq, and on U.S. relations with ordinary Iraqis. At a time when just a handful of U.S. senators and representatives have a family member in combat, Sjursen also writes movingly on questions of America’s patterns of national service. Who now serves and why? What connection does America’s professional army have to the broader society and culture? What is the price we pay for abandoning the model of the citizen soldier?
With the bloody emergence of ISIS in 2014, Iraq and its beleaguered, battle-scarred people are again much in the news. Unlike other books on the U.S. war in Iraq, Ghost Riders of Baghdad is part battlefield chronicle, part critique of American military strategy and policy, and part appreciation of Iraq and its people. At once a military memoir, history, and cultural commentary, Ghost Riders of Bahdad delivers a compelling story and a deep appreciation of both those who serve and the civilians they strive to protect. Sjursen provides a riveting addition to our understanding of modern warfare and its human costs.
The Epic Battle between the Ottoman Empire and the Knights of St. John
In the spring of 1565, a massive fleet of Ottoman ships descended on Malta, a small island centrally located between North Africa and Sicily, home and headquarters of the crusading Knights of St. John and their charismatic Grand Master, Jean de Valette. The Knights had been expelled from Rhodes by the Ottoman sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, and now stood as the last bastion against a Muslim invasion of Sicily, southern Italy, and beyond. The siege force of Turks, Arabs, and Barbary corsairs from across the Muslim world outnumbered the defenders of Malta many times over, and its arrival began a long hot summer of bloody combat, often hand to hand, embroiling knights and mercenaries, civilians and slaves, in a desperate struggle for this pivotal point in the Mediterranean.
Bruce Ware Allen’s The Great Siege of Malta describes the siege’s geopolitical context, explains its strategies and tactics, and reveals how the all-too-human personalities of both Muslim and Christian leaders shaped the course of events. The siege of Malta was the Ottoman empire’s high-water mark in the war between the Christian West and the Muslim East for control of the Mediterranean. Drawing on copious research and new source material, Allen stirringly recreates the two factions’ heroism and chivalry, while simultaneously tracing the barbarism, severity, and indifference to suffering of sixteenth-century warfare.
The Great Siege of Malta is a fresh, vivid retelling of one of the most famous battles of the early modern world—a battle whose echoes are still felt today.
Master Potter in the Garden
If you mention Guy Wolff to a serious gardener, that gardener will almost certainly admit to either owning a Guy Wolff flowerpot or coveting one. Wolff's pots--some small and perfect for a sunny windowsill, others massive and just right for a favorite outdoor spot--are widely considered to be the epitome of gardenware. Their classical proportions, simple decoration, and the marks of Wolff's hands all combine to make plants look their best. His pots possess an honesty and liveliness that machine-made flowerpots lack.
Wolff is probably the best-known potter working in the United States today. In gardening circles, he is a highly revered horticultural icon; gardeners flock to his lectures and demonstrations. His work also appeals to lovers of design and fine arts: visit the personal gardens of landscape designers, and you will see Guy Wolff pots. Step inside the gates of estate gardens, and you will see Guy Wolff pots. Yet he is a potter's potter. He's a big ware thrower, a skill few have today. He thinks deeply about what he calls the architecture of pots and the importance of handmade objects in our lives.
Whether you are a longtime collector of Wolff's pots, anxious to buy your first one, or simply intrigued by the beauty and practicality of hand-crafted goods in our fast-paced era, you'll want to add this richly illustrated book to your library.