Monday, January 31, 2011

Daisy Whitney's "The Mockingbirds," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney.

The entry begins:
If my novel The Mockingbirds were made into a movie, I would absolutely, positively want Emma Stone to play the lead character Alex Patrick. Emma has the perfect blend of tough and vulnerable and that's what's needed for Alex as she presses charges against her assailant through the student-run underground justice system at her boarding school. I'd always had her in mind for the lead role if my book became a film and seeing her in Zombieland solidified my pick. She has quite the range and I think that's what's needed for this role. Opposite her in the role of her eventual love interest of Martin I could see...[read on]
Daisy Whitney is a new-media producer, a reporter, and an internationally known web show creator. The Mockingbirds is her debut novel. She graduated from Brown University and lives in San Francisco.

Learn more about the book and author at Daisy Whitney's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: The Mockingbirds.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Frances Lefkowitz's "To Have Not"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: To Have Not by Frances Lefkowitz.

About the book, from the publisher:
Poverty has many guises: a lack of money, of course, but it can also be a lack of love or choice, pleasure or safety, faith or confidence or possibility. Poverty seeps into the soul and deadens the spirit. In To Have Not, Frances Lefkowitz reflects on her own life of poverties. A poor white girl from 1970s San Francisco, Lefkowitz tries to escape her upbringing through an Ivy League scholarship, only to realize that upward mobility is not all it’s cracked up to be: being a Have Not and not having aren’t necessarily the same thing. Crashing headfirst into boundaries of class, race, and sex, Lefkowitz emerges scarred but whole, humor intact. To Have Not speaks to anyone who has ever battled the feeling of being cut off from the world’s abundance, and then settled, eventually, somewhere between resignation and appreciation for all they do have.
Learn more about the book and author at Frances Lefkowitz's website, the FrancesLefkowitz Author page on Facebook, and @MeetFrances on Twitter.

Frances Lefkowitz is the author of To Have Not, named one of the five “Best Memoirs of 2010” by She has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, and once for Best American Essays.

The Page 99 Test: To Have Not.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight of the best articles on the upheaval in Egypt

The Daily Beast has tagged eight essential pieces of longform journalism about the political events in Egypt.

One article on the list:
"Hosni Mubarak, the Plane Is Waiting"
The New York Review of Books, Yasmine El Rashidi; Jan 25, 2011

Yasmine El Rashidi follows a group of protesters through Cairo's back alleys on their march toward Tahrir Square on the first day of Egypt's January 25th protests. Along the way, the members in their ranks are jumped, arrested, clobbered by thugs, dispersed with tear gas, and shaken by rumors the police plan on using live ammunition at nightfall. When the crackdown in the square eventually occurs, it is relentless, and El Rashidi is there to bear witness.
Read about another recommended article.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Milton T. Burton reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Milton T. Burton, author of Nights of the Red Moon and two previous crime novels.

His entry begins:
I used to go through several books a week, but since I started writing I hardly read any more. I just finished Winchester: The Way It Really Was by Pauline Muerrle, the last Winchester Custom Shop engraver. It is available through her website. I recommend it highly.

Now I am slowly making my way through...[read on]
Milton T. Burton has been variously a cattleman, a political consultant, and a college history teacher. Burton lives in Jacksonville, Texas.

Among the early praise for Nights of the Red Moon:
"It [has] a lively and well-crafted plot, but Nights of the Red Moon is most notable for its portrait of small-town Texas…it's a good [novel]: a solid, entirely believable portrait of a particular lawman at work in a specific time and place…"
--Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post

"Set in East Texas, Burton's rip-snorting third mystery will appeal to fans of Bill Crider, Ben Rehder, and Kinky Friedman. When the bullet-ridden body of Amanda Twiller turns up in front of her pastor husband's Methodist church, Beauregard "Bo" Handel, the Caddo County sheriff, investigates.... Bo's rowdy "good ole boy" zeal may verge on the outrageous at times, but Burton (The Sweet and the Dead) has a created a cowboy hero that readers will want to see more of. "
--Publishers Weekly

"The local minister's wife is found murdered on her front lawn, but Sheriff Bo Handel and his deputies also have to deal with a number of other criminal activities going on in Sequoya County, TX.... Burton's ... down-home, good-old-boy narrative will appeal to mystery readers who enjoy a fresh voice."
--Library Journal
Read chapter one of Nights of the Red Moon, and learn more about the novel at the publisher's website.

Visit Milton T. Burton's blog.

My Book, The Movie: Nights of the Red Moon.

The Page 69 Test: Nights of the Red Moon.

Writers Read: Milton T. Burton.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pg. 69: Trent Jamieson's "Managing Death"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Managing Death by Trent Jamieson.

About the book, from the publisher:
It’s not easy being Death. For starters, people keep dying. And then, they keep getting up again.Steven de Selby got promoted. This makes the increasing number of stirrers (and the disturbing rumors of a zombie god rising sometime soon) his problem. That time management seminar he keeps meaning to take would also remind him that he’s got a Death Moot to plan, a Christmas party to organize, and an end-of-the-world thing to avert.

Steven must start managing Death, before Death starts managing him, or this time the Apocalypse will be more than Regional.
Learn more about the book and author at Trent Jamieson's website. 

Death Most Definite, Book One of the Death Works Series, was published by Orbit Books in September 2010. Book Two, Managing Death, was released in January 2011, and Book Three, The Business of Death, is due for publication in September 2011.

The Page 69 Test: Managing Death.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books about America at war in 1812

Born and raised in Maine, Alan Taylor teaches American and Canadian history at the University of California, Davis. His books include The Divided Ground, Writing Early American History, American Colonies, and William Cooper’s Town, which won the Bancroft and Pulitzer prizes for American history.

His latest book is The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies.

For the Wall Street Journal, Taylor named a five best list of books about America at war in 1812. One title on the list:
by Linda Colley (2002)

'Captives' is not directly about the War of 1812, but it helps explain why the British would fight to control their own sailors, who were prone to flee for better-paying work on American merchant ships. As Linda Colley shows, Britain was chronically short of the manpower needed to sustain the huge navy that controlled the sea-lanes of international commerce and that was essential to the operation of this small country's global empire. Sorely sensitive to the loss of any of their people, the British liked to imagine themselves as rescuers of subjects who had been kidnapped by foreigners. Thinking defensively, they built an empire while imagining themselves as victims. In the process the British created their national identity—as the special people of a small, beleaguered island—which compelled them to see their kin, the Americans, as a distinct people barbarized by their savage continent.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pg. 99: Daniel Rasmussen's "American Uprising"

This weekend's feature at the Page 99 Test: American Uprising: The Untold Story of America's Largest Slave Revolt by Daniel Rasmussen.

About the book, from the publisher:
A gripping and deeply revealing history of an infamous slave rebellion that nearly toppled New Orleans and changed the course of American history

In January 1811, five hundred slaves, dressed in military uniforms and armed with guns, cane knives, and axes, rose up from the plantations around New Orleans and set out to conquer the city. Ethnically diverse, politically astute, and highly organized, this self-made army challenged not only the economic system of plantation agriculture but also American expansion. Their march represented the largest act of armed resistance against slavery in the history of the United States.

American Uprising is the riveting and long-neglected story of this elaborate plot, the rebel army's dramatic march on the city, and its shocking conclusion. No North American slave uprising—not Gabriel Prosser's, not Denmark Vesey's, not Nat Turner's—has rivaled the scale of this rebellion either in terms of the number of the slaves involved or the number who were killed. More than one hundred slaves were slaughtered by federal troops and French planters, who then sought to write the event out of history and prevent the spread of the slaves' revolutionary philosophy. With the Haitian revolution a recent memory and the War of 1812 looming on the horizon, the revolt had epic consequences for America.

Through groundbreaking original research, Daniel Rasmussen offers a window into the young, expansionist country, illuminating the early history of New Orleans and providing new insight into the path to the Civil War and the slave revolutionaries who fought and died for justice and the hope of freedom.
Learn more about American Uprising and its author at Daniel Rasmussen's website and blog.

The Page 99 Test: American Uprising.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is John McMillian reading?

This weekend's featured contributor at Writers Read: John McMillian, author of Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America.

His entry begins:
It’s an unusual time to be answering this question. I now teach at Georgia State University, in Atlanta, and we’ve just finished up our winter break, which was almost a month long. And I had such big hopes for all the reading I wanted to accomplish during that period! Even during the semester, when I’m teaching full-time, I still manage to consume a good amount of media: the New York Times (daily), and my favorite magazines: The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Harper’s (which has just gotten better now that Thomas Frank is a regular columnist). I also read web magazines like Slate and Salon, and I’m a devoted follower The Daily Dish, by far my favorite blog. But during most semesters, I rarely manage to steal enough time to read whole books just for pleasure.

In early December, however, while looking forward to my break, I ordered a box of books from, and I was excited about all of them [including]...Patti Smith’s Just Kids, and...[read on]
Among the early praise for Smoking Typewriters:
"Readable, richly detailed study of the hundreds of anti-establishment 1960s newspapers ... A welcome book on the '60s--a nostalgia trip for those who were there and a vivid work of history for anyone curious about the journalism that jolted a decade."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Thoroughly researched and well-written, this book will serve as the definitive treatment of the radical and alternative media of the 1960s. While telling his story, much of it both exciting and tragic, John McMillian confronts crucial issues-questions about objectivity and democratic activism-with verve and insight."
--Kevin Mattson, author of "What the Heck are You Up To, Mr. President?"

"This tour d'horizon of the 60s underground press is a tour de force...a compact, sharply-etched, and well-informed recollection of the rebellious young journalists whose voices and views breached the high walls of Mainstream Media long before the current Internet-savvy generation rushed in to finish off to what remains of Conventional-Wisdom-based reporting. Seen with fresh eyes by a talented young scholar, Smoking Typewriters tells an important-and entertaining-story about modern American culture and its endless upheavals."
--Richard Parker, Harvard University

"John McMillian's Smoking Typewriters is as vivid, subtle, and scrupulous as the '60s upheaval, in all its audacity and weirdness, deserves."
--Todd Gitlin, author of The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage
John McMillian is an assistant professor of history at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia, where he specializes in studying 20th century social movements and the Vietnam War Era.

Visit McMillian's website, and learn more about the book at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Smoking Typewriters.

Writers Read: John McMillian.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six books about speeches that changed U.S. politics

James Ledbetter is the author of Unwarranted Influence: Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Military-Industrial Complex.

For The Week magazine, he named six books about speeches that changed American politics.

One title on the list:
Lincoln at Gettysburg by Garry Wills

The granddaddy among contemporary books about prominent American speeches. Wills’ brilliant reading of Lincoln’s brief, eloquent Gettysburg Address reveals Lincoln’s heavy reliance on classical rhetoric.
Read about another book on Ledbetter's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 28, 2011

Eileen Cook's "The Education of Hailey Kendrick," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: The Education of Hailey Kendrick by Eileen Cook.

The entry begins:
If they make my book, The Education of Hailey Kendrick, into a movie, deciding who I would want to play the lead roles is difficult. First I have to eliminate all the actors I want to meet (Johnny Depp, Colin Firth, Helen Mirren) just because I would find them interesting, versus because there was actually a role for them.

Then there is the challenge that unlike some authors, I don’t write my books with an actor in mind. In my mind the characters are real people, it’s like asking who you would want to play your parents if they made a movie of your life. There might be an actor that reminds you of your parents, but it isn’t the same as the real thing. I suspect this is why authors aren’t always invited onto movie sets. We’re constantly confusing our imaginary world with reality.

Despite all the problems of confusing imagination with reality, I had fun searching IMDB for the perfect cast. Emma...[read on]
Learn more about the author and her books at Eileen Cook’s website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood.

My Book, The Movie: The Education of Hailey Kendrick.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Kevin Fenton's "Merit Badges"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Merit Badges by Kevin Fenton.

About the book, from the publisher:
Follow four friends as they move from The Brady Bunch to Seinfeld, from junior high to middle management. There is Quint, whose rebellion frays into self-destruction; Slow, who struggles to become the world’s first teenage father figure; Chimes, who fears losing his friends while picking up a 7-10 split; and Barb who escapes the conformity of Minnisapa only to find herself returning by dark of night. You will feel as if you’ve always lived in Minnisapa, Minnesota. And you will never underestimate nice kids from the Midwest again.
Learn more about the book and author at the Merit Badges website and Kevin Fenton's blog.

Kevin Fenton lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota and works as an advertising writer and creative director. His fiction has appeared in the Northwest Review, the Laurel Review, and the Emprise Review. His writing on graphic design has been anthologized in Looking Closer 2 and Emigre No. 70: The Look Back Issue.

The Page 69 Test: Merit Badges.

--Marshal Zeringue

Stanley Fish's top 5 sentences

Stanley Fish is the Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor and a professor of law at Florida International University. He has previously taught at the University of California at Berkeley, Johns Hopkins University, Duke University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he was dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

One of the world's foremost authorities on John Milton, in 2006 Fish applied the "Page 69 Test" to his book, How Milton Works.

His new book is How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One.

One of Fish's top five sentences, as told to Slate:
Jonathan Swift (from A Tale of a Tub, 1704): "Last week I saw a woman flayed, and you will hardly believe how much it altered her appearance for the worse."

Here, Swift forces us into a momentary fellowship ("you will hardly believe") with a moral blindness we must finally reject.
Read about another of Fish's favorite sentences.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pg. 99: Erin Brannigan's "Dancefilm"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Dancefilm: Choreography and the Moving Image by Erin Brannigan.

About the book, from the publisher:
Dancefilm: Choreography and the Moving Image is a rich exploration of the choreographic in cinema. It traces the history of the dancefilm form from some of its earliest manifestations in the silent film era, through the historic avant garde, musicals and music videos to contemporary experimental short dancefilms. In so doing it also traverses some of the most significant collaborations between dancers, choreographers, and filmmakers. Bringing film theory and dance theory into dialogue, the book argues that the combination of dance and film produces cine-choreographic practices that are specific to the dancefilm form. As whole, the book thus presents new models of cinematic movement that are historically informed and interdisciplinary in nature. An extensive companion website provides key video illustrations and links to online resources.
Read more about Dancefilm at the Oxford University Press website.

Erin Brannigan works in dance and film as a journalist, academic and curator. She was the founding Director of ReelDance International Dance on Screen Festival and has curated dance screen programs and exhibitions for Sydney Festival 2008, Melbourne International Arts Festival 2003 and international dance screen festivals. Brannigan writes on dance for the Australian arts newspaper, RealTime and lectures in the School of English, Media and Performing Arts at the University of New South Wales.

The Page 99 Test: Dancefilm.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Andrew Ervin reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Andrew Ervin, author of Extraordinary Renditions.

His entry begins:
Everything I read—and I mean everything—affects what I think and what I write, so I try to be careful about the books I pick up. I’m writing a novel now about a professor who gets fired for plagiarism and goes to live on the remote Scottish island where Orwell wrote Nineteen-Eighty Four. For inspiration, I’ve recently started Joseph McElroy’s Women and Men, which I planned to bring with me overseas for the holidays, but I chickened out simply because this 1192-page hard cover was too heavy to drag on a transatlantic cattle car. I’m 169 pages in...[read on]
Among the praise for Extraordinary Renditions:
“The variety of viewpoints and the author’s evident intimacy with an ancient foreign capital are promising, and Ervin makes it plain that he is taking on weighty themes: history, empire, race, the power of art.”
--New York Times Book Review

“It’s funny, alarming, evocative, and, very often with its internal description, defies its apparent historical setting. It echoes political texts while presenting political folly (and youthful folly).”
--Ed Champion, who has listed Extraordinary Renditions among “The 13 Most Underrated Books of 2010” at The Millions

“There is a lyrical muscularity in Ervin’s writing that, at times, leaves the reader breathless. Extraordinary Renditions is tightly plotted and brilliantly composed. A very good book and, one hopes, a taste of things to come.”
--January Magazine

“[Ervin] has crafted a thoughtful reflection on art and creativity, on pasts and futures, and I am greatly anticipating reading much more of his work in the years ahead.”
--Pete Anderson
Visit Andrew Ervin's website.

Writers Read: Andrew Ervin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top 10 immigrants' tales

E. C. Osondu was born in Nigeria. He won the 2009 Caine Prize for African Writing, and his fiction has appeared in The Atlantic. He received his MFA from Syracuse University and currently teaches at Providence College in Rhode Island.

His debut story collection Voice of America was published by HarperCollins late last year.

At the Guardian he named his top ten immigrants' tales.

One title on the list:
Drown by Junot Díaz

I like the fact that the stories in this collection begin in the Dominican Republic and end in America. In a way the reader also becomes a virtual immigrant as he journeys with the characters. The mock-imperative tone used in the story "How to Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie)" is laugh-out-loud funny and wise.
Read about another entry on the list.

Also see Matthew Kaminski's five best novels about immigrants in America.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pg. 99: Michael P. Jeffries' "Thug Life"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Thug Life: Race, Gender, and the Meaning of Hip-Hop by Michael P. Jeffries.

About the book, from the publisher:
Hip-hop has come a long way from its origins in the Bronx in the 1970s, when rapping and DJing were just part of a lively, decidedly local scene that also venerated break-dancing and graffiti. Now hip-hop is a global phenomenon and, in the United States, a massively successful corporate enterprise predominantly controlled and consumed by whites while the most prominent performers are black. How does this shift in racial dynamics affect our understanding of contemporary hip-hop, especially when the music perpetuates stereotypes of black men? Do black listeners interpret hip-hop differently from white fans?

These questions have dogged hip-hop for decades, but unlike most pundits, Michael P. Jeffries finds answers by interviewing everyday people. Instead of turning to performers or media critics, Thug Life focuses on the music’s fans—young men, both black and white—and the resulting account avoids romanticism, offering an unbiased examination of how hip-hop works in people’s daily lives. As Jeffries weaves the fans’ voices together with his own sophisticated analysis, we are able to understand hip-hop as a tool listeners use to make sense of themselves and society as well as a rich, self-contained world containing politics and pleasure, virtue and vice.
Learn more about Thug Life at the University of Chicago Press website.

Michael P. Jeffries is assistant professor of American studies at Wellesley College.

The Page 99 Test: Thug Life.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Louise Penny reading?

Today's featured contributor at Writers Read: Louise Penny, author of Bury Your Dead and other Chief Inspector Gamache novels.

Her entry begins:
Right now, beside my bed, I have a splayed Ngaio Marsh. The Fontana paperback cover from 1977 shows an elderly man in white tie and tails slumped in the back of a car, a nasty wound on his head. I think he's dead. The book's called Death in a White Tie and was first published in 1938, so it's time travel as well. Back to pre-WW2 London. That alone is fascinating. The pages are quite brown now from age - and the style is showing its age as well. I loved Ngaio Marsh as a teenager. While she herself was a New Zealander, she set most of her books in Britain. Her series hero is Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn. I admit to having had a bit of a crush on him. And to Mrs. Marsh's credit, as the series progressed, so did Alleyn, eventually getting married (to Troy) and having at least one child.

But while there's a definite charm to the book its power for me is pure nostalgia - still a formidable attraction. The writing is stilted and sort of silly. The victim - Lord Robert - is called Bunchy and is described as a 'pet'. Alleyn himself is more than a little annoying at times, calling his solid second in command nick names that are a little too precious. There is not...[read on]
Among the early praise for Bury Your Dead:
"Few writers in any genre can match Penny's ability to combine heartbreak and hope..."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Penny’s first five novels in her Armand Gamache series have all been outstanding, but her latest is the best yet, a true tour de force of storytelling…. Penny hits every note perfectly in what is one of the most elaborately constructed and remarkably moving mysteries in years."
--Booklist (starred review)

"Gamache's excruciating grief over a wrong decision, Beauvoir's softening toward the unconventional, a plot twist so unexpected it's chilling, and a description of Québec intriguing enough to make you book your next vacation there, all add up to a superior read. Bring on the awards."
--Kirkus (starred review)

"Superb...brilliantly provocative and will appeal to fans of literary fiction, as well as to mystery lovers."
--Library Journal (starred review)
Visit Louise Penny's website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Louise Penny & Trudy.

Writers Read: Louise Penny.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six books that encourage tourism

Oberlin professor Anne Trubek's new book, A Skeptic’s Guide to Writers' Houses, has been hailed as "a remarkable book: part travelogue, part rant, part memoir, part literary analysis and urban history."

At The Week magazine she tagged six books that draw visitors to their authors' home towns.

One title on her list:
The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain

Twain’s novel about Americans traveling through Europe and the Holy Land mocks Americans’ penchant for tacky tourism: “We find a piece of the true cross in every old church we go into... And as for the bones of St. Denis, I feel certain we have seen enough of them to duplicate him if necessary.” What would he make of the Twain-land erected in his hometown of Hannibal, Mo.?
Read about another book on Trubeck's list.

The Innocents Abroad also appears on Michael Oren's five best list of books that vividly capture the long history of America's encounters with the Arab world and among Laura Landro's five best travel books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Steve Hockensmith's "World's Greatest Sleuth!"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: World's Greatest Sleuth!: A Holmes on the Range Mystery by Steve Hockensmith.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1893, the Amlingmeyer boys venture forth from the west in response to a summons from Otto’s (“Big Red”) publisher— they are to come to Chicago immediately, to the World’s Columbian Exposition, and compete with some of the most famous detectives in the world. Set to coincide with the closing days of the first World’s Fair and the publication of the story revealing the death of Sherlock Holmes, Gustav (“Old Red”) will be competing for the title of World’s Greatest Sleuth! Hating train travel and cities, the real draw is the chance to meet up again with the intriguing and elusive Diana Corvus. But the competition has barely begun before there is a murder in “the White City”—the organizer of the contest is discovered face down in the Mammoth Cheese from Canada—and from there, the game is really afoot.
Learn more about the book and author at Steve Hockensmith's website.

The Page 69 Test: On the Wrong Track.

My Book, The Movie: Holmes on the Range.

The Page 99 Test: The Black Dove.

The Page 69 Test: The Crack in the Lens.

The Page 69 Test: World's Greatest Sleuth!.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pg. 99: Ann Blair's "Too Much To Know"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age by Ann M. Blair.

About the book, from the publisher:
The flood of information brought to us by advancing technology is often accompanied by a distressing sense of “information overload,” yet this experience is not unique to modern times. In fact, says Ann M. Blair in this intriguing book, the invention of the printing press and the ensuing abundance of books provoked sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European scholars to register complaints very similar to our own. Blair examines methods of information management in ancient and medieval Europe as well as the Islamic world and China, then focuses particular attention on the organization, composition, and reception of Latin reference books in print in early modern Europe. She explores in detail the sophisticated and sometimes idiosyncratic techniques that scholars and readers developed in an era of new technology and exploding information.
Learn more about Too Much to Know at the Yale University Press website.

Ann M. Blair is Henry Charles Lea Professor of History, Harvard University.

The Page 99 Test: Too Much to Know.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Caroline Leavitt reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Caroline Leavitt, author of Pictures of You.

Her entry begins:
The Sweet Relief of Missing Children by Sarah Braunstein popped in my door and though I know you can’t tell a book by its cover, this cover image haunted me so much, that I was sure that what was inside was going to be as spectacular as what was outside. A polite-looking little girl stands with her back towards us, the grass green as any suburb. And, of course, there is that title! I wanted to read Braunstein because her novel is really about all my favorite themes: reinvention, running away, vanishing into another life, all issues that circle like a hamster wheel in my head. For me, the ...[read on]
Among the early praise for Pictures of You:
“A magically written, heartbreakingly honest snapshot of the people we leave behind and those we can’t let go ... Caroline Leavitt is one of those fabulous, incisive writers you read and then ask yourself, Where has she been all my life?”
--Jodi Picoult

"I found it impossible to put this book down ... [it’s] as complicated, crushing, and joyous as life itself.”
--Robb Forman Dew

“A splendid writer at the peak of her powers.”
--Robert Olen Butler

"Heartbreaking, suspenseful, and moving, Pictures of You contains all the elements I long for in a great story.”--
Diana Abu-Jaber

"I have long admired Caroline Leavitt’s pobing insight into people, her wit and compassion, her ability to find humor in dark situations, and conversely, her tenderness toward characters other writers might merely satirize.”
--Dan Chaon

"Caroline Leavitt is a masterful storyteller ... this is a beautiful book.”
--Dani Shapiro

“An enthralling amalgamation of a literary mystery and the story of one woman’s search for self-fulfillment.”
--Binnie Kirshenbaum
Visit Caroline Leavitt's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Pictures of You.

My Book, the Movie: Pictures of You.

Writers Read: Caroline Leavitt.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six of the best books with three word titles

Deborah Batterman is the author of the short story collection, Shoes Hair Nails.

At Flashlight Worthy, she came up with a list of quality books with three word titles. Her pitch for these titles:
Book titles that cut to the chase with three simple words are easy to remember, not just for their brevity; they have an archetypal undercurrent reminding us of beginning, middle end; dawn, noon, and dusk; the three phases of the moon.
The first book on Batterman's list:
Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life
by Karen Maezen Miller

A yoga teacher of mine once made the point that the body is a house, not a temple. A house is someplace you live — you trash it, you clean it up — whereas a temple implies worship and sanctification.

Karen Maezen Miller, in a way, extends that metaphor with her utterly elegant book that is so filled with the light of everyday wisdom you almost forget the beginning of her story, the dark days before her spiritual awakening . "A true teacher is likely to be the most ordinary person you'll ever meet," she writes. Maybe it takes a Zen Buddhist priest who also happens to be a woman ever mindful of her role as mother and wife to make a metaphor of laundry as a starting place for loving the life we wake up to.
Read about another book on Batterman's list.

Writers Read: Karen Maezen Miller.

--Marshal Zeringue

Alyxandra Harvey's Drake Chronicles, the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: The Drake Chronicles by Alyxandra Harvey.

The entry begins:
I don't picture actors and actresses in my head when I write a novel. The characters usually walk on stage fairly actualized and they get cranky if I try and interfere too much.

But once the book is done, or at least when it's well formed already, I do like to play around with casting the imaginary movie version. I even have links on my website for the Movie Game because I love hearing readers' choices. In fact, it's because of two readers who made their own movie trailer version of Hearts at Stake that I found my Lucy and my Nicholas.

I would be thrilled to pieces if Tim Burton wanted to direct and if the folks involved with the beautiful sets of the Harry Potter films could join in that would be grand. Especially if...[read on]
Learn more about The Drake Chronicles at Alyxandra Harvey's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Drake Chronicles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pg. 99: Kevin W. Saunders' "Degradation"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Degradation: What the History of Obscenity Tells Us about Hate Speech by Kevin W. Saunders.

About the book, from the publisher:
Throughout history obscenity has not really been about sex but about degradation. Sexual depictions have been suppressed when they were seen as lowering the status of humans, furthering our distance from the gods or God and moving us toward the animals. In the current era, when we recognize ourselves and both humans and animals, sexual depiction has lost some of its sting. Its degrading role has been replaced by hate speech that distances groups, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, not only from God but from humanity to a subhuman level.

In this original study of the relationship between obscenity and hate speech, First Amendment specialist Kevin W. Saunders traces the legal trajectory of degradation as it moved from sexual depiction to hateful speech. Looking closely at hate speech in several arenas, including racist, homophobic, and sexist speech in the workplace, classroom, and other real-life scenarios, Saunders posits that if hate speech is today’s conceptual equivalent of obscenity, then the body of law that dictated obscenity might shed some much-needed light on what may or may not qualify as punishable hate speech.
Learn more about Degradation at the publisher's website.

Kevin W. Saunders is Charles Clarke Chair in Constitutional Law at Michigan State University College of Law. He is the author of Violence as Obscenity: Limiting the Media's First Amendment Protection and Saving Our Children from the First Amendment.

The Page 99 Test: Degradation.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is H. Bruce Franklin reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: H. Bruce Franklin, author of The Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden and America.

His entry begins:
The future history of our species will be profoundly affected by what we do or do not do to our planet's seas. Two great and most timely books that can offer us guidance are Paul Greenberg's Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food and Sylvia Earle's The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and The Ocean's Are One.

For some very different insights into...[read on]
Among the praise for The Most Important Fish in the Sea:
"How is it possible that a sizeable fish vital to the oceanic food chain and intertwined for three centuries with the cultural histories of both natives and settlers could nevertheless completely escape the notice of most Americans and within a few short years be driven to the brink of extinction for no valid reason whatever? This well researched and vigorously written book--certain to be of wide interest to academic and general readers alike--will tell you why."
--Lawrence Buell, Harvard University, author of The Environmental Imagination and Writing for an Endangered World

"By 1880 there were almost three times more menhaden ships than whaling ships, but since then only three authors have written books about menhaden, and only Bruce Franklin has told the real story. The Most Important Fish in the Sea is a valuable history, a desperately needed warning and a terrific read--a must for every advocate of marine ecosystems."
--Ted Williams, Conservation Editor, FlyRod&Reel magazine, Editor-at-Large, Audubon

“When I was growing up on Long Island, the Atlantic beaches were occasionally decorated with ranks of dead, smelly fish that we knew little about, except that they were ‘mossbunkers.’ I later learned that they were menhaden, but it took this marvelous book to reveal the ecological, nutritional, and economic significance of Brevoortia tyrannus. Who would have thought that the mossbunker, almost inedible because of its oily flesh, would be one of the most important components of America's commercial fisheries and the health of its coastal waters?”
--Richard Ellis, author of The Empty Ocean and Tiger Bone & Rhino Horn
H. Bruce Franklin is the author or editor of nineteen books and more than 300 articles on culture and history published in more than a hundred major magazines and newspapers, academic journals, and reference works. He has given over five hundred addresses on college campuses, on radio and TV shows, and at academic conferences, museums, and libraries, and he has participated in making four films. He has taught at Stanford University, Johns Hopkins, Wesleyan, and Yale and currently is the John Cotton Dana Professor of English and American Studies at Rutgers University in Newark.

Visit H. Bruce Franklin's website.

Writers Read: H. Bruce Franklin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books on Americans abroad

Charles Glass is a broadcaster, journalist and writer, who began his journalistic career in 1973 at the ABC News Beirut bureau with Peter Jennings. He covered the October Arab-Israeli War on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts. He also covered civil war in Lebanon, where artillery fire wounded him in 1976. He was ABC News Chief Middle East correspondent from 1983 to 1993. Since 1993, he has been a freelance writer in Paris, Tuscany, Venice and London, regularly covering the Middle East, the Balkans, southeast Asia and the Mediterranean region. He has also published books, short stories, essays and articles in the United States and Europe.

With Marina Jankovic at FiveBooks, he discussed some favorite books about his countrymen in other countries, including:
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

It’s one of the funniest books ever written. It’s about the insanity of military life and the absurdity of a big institution. Heller was very good on the absurdity of big institutions. Catch 22 has every character in it that the American military did have at the time and still has today in Iraq and Afghanistan: the money-makers, the crooks, the officers who were trying to claw their way to the top where they get their men killed, the placing in order of priority the pretence of military success at the cost of many civilian lives.

There’s a section in Catch 22 about the bombing of Ferrara. Its military significance is immaterial; it was a military objective so defined by a machine that did not brook insubordination or men dropping their bombs in the water, which they did because they don’t want to kill lots of innocent Italians. Things like that did happen in the war. I’m writing a book now about the military in Italy and France in World War II and most of what Heller wrote is actually true.

There is the suggestion that the bureaucrats behind the war machine are to blame, or is the enemy actually within?

Both. The insane military bureaucracy, the machine that cannot be stopped by human will, the black markets, the Milo Minderbinders. There were lots of characters like Milo Minderbinder selling their own supplies, like food, cigarettes, clothing, blankets and gas on the black market, supplies that should have been sent to the front. These characters still exist and there were lots of them in the US military during the war and some of them made millions. There were shortages of gas and artillery shells at the front as they’d been stolen.

Catch 22 is very funny and you know it’s satire, but when you study the history you know that Heller knew exactly what he was talking about, partly because he himself had fought as a solider.

What is Catch 22?

Catch 22 is about insanity. If you want out of flying combat missions as an American flyer in the US air forces on a basis of insanity it means you must be sane because you don’t want to get killed. That’s the catch.

What’s the catch for Americans in combat missions now?

The Catch 22 no longer applies as that system doesn’t apply. If you flew a certain number of missions, you wouldn’t have to fly any more. Now they really don’t fly the number of missions they flew then. And now, when they do fly missions, it’s not really so difficult as they’re not opposed by anyone. You can fly jets all over Iraq and Afghanistan and bomb whatever target you want to bomb, but you’re really not taking much of a risk. There are no fighter planes to oppose you and very little anti-aircraft fire, so it’s not comparable on that level.

And on the level of metaphor?

The risk to one’s own psyche as a soldier, what you have to do to the civilian population of these places, the contempt in which you must hold them, the sheer larceny that takes place in Iraq and Afghanistan by the private contractors, Halliburton being the classic example, is all out of Milo Minderbinder in Catch 22. That hasn’t changed; if anything it’s much much worse. Except now it’s semi-legalised.

What’s made it legal?

Instead of Milo Minderbinder having to set up a company as a soldier, now he would be a private businessman lobbying congress for contracts, lobbying the Bush or Obama White House for contracts without tenders or any bidding. Now you just walk away with a lot of cash and provide very little in the way of services.

Is the enemy within?

There’s insanity within, criminality within, but the enemy to the American people and the enemy to the people of the countries America occupies is really the American industrial military complex that Eisenhower warned about.

Does insanity help combat?

I’m speaking of institutional insanity. The project is crazy. Occupying Afghanistan and Iraq is crazy. Many soldiers suffer severe psychological traumas that many will never recover from, which we saw in Vietnam as well. There are still casualties of that war walking around who are not mentally well. They’ve never recovered.

Is the rational mind equipped to deal with these situations?

One could say that theoretically but many people do cope and come back and lead normal lives. That’s the reality.
Read about another book tagged by Glass at The Browser.

Catch-22 is among Avi Steinberg's six books every prison should stock, Patrick Hennessey's six books to take to war, Jasper Fforde's five most important books, Thomas E. Ricks' top ten books about U.S. military history, and Antony Beevor's five best works of fiction about World War II. While it disappointed Nick Hornby upon rereading, it made Cracked magazine's "Wit Lit 101: Five Classic Novels That Bring the Funny."

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Milton T. Burton's "Nights of the Red Moon"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Nights of the Red Moon by Milton T. Burton.

About the book, from the publisher:
Small town, meet big crime.

It’s not hard for longtime Sheriff Bo Handel to keep Texas' Caddo County in line. He handles petty crimes and rabble rousers, runs a competent police force and maintains a relationship with his steady girlfriend while keeping things quiet.

But when the local minister’s wife, Amanda Twiller, is murdered and dumped on the church’s front, Bo suddenly finds himself with his hands full. Unfortunately for Bo, finding Amanda’s killer won’t be as easy as rounding up the town’s usual suspects. He’ll have to get past sleazy attorneys and drug lords first. When he discovers that Amanda was not only addicted to narcotics but also having an affair with one of the roughest men in town, the lazy days of his past are a distant memory.

Soon, Bo realizes there are only so many cocaine kings and Mob bosses that one man can juggle. But the murderer is out there, and it’s up to Bo to find out who it is. This small town sheriff is used to a light workload. So what happens when heavy crime comes to town?
Read chapter one of Nights of the Red Moon, and learn more about the novel at the publisher's website.

Visit Milton T. Burton's blog.

My Book, The Movie: Nights of the Red Moon.

The Page 69 Test: Nights of the Red Moon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pg. 99: Chloë G. K. Atkins' "My Imaginary Illness"

The current feature of the Page 99 Test: My Imaginary Illness: A Journey into Uncertainty and Prejudice in Medical Diagnosis by Chloë G. K. Atkins.

About the book, from the publisher:
At age twenty-one, Chloë Atkins began suffering from a mysterious illness, the symptoms of which rapidly worsened. Paralyzed for months at a time, she frequently required intubation and life support. She eventually became quadriplegic, dependent both on a wheelchair and on health professionals who refused to believe there was anything physically wrong with her. When test after test returned inconclusive results, Atkins's doctors pronounced her symptoms psychosomatic. Atkins was told not only that she was going to die but also that this was her own fault; they concluded she was so emotionally deranged that she was willing her own death.

My Imaginary Illness is the compelling story of Atkins's decades-long battle with a disease deemed imaginary, her frustration with a succession of doctors and diagnoses, her immersion in the world of psychotherapy, and her excruciating physical and emotional journey back to wellness. As both a political theorist and patient, Atkins provides a narrative critique of contemporary medicine and its problematic handling of uncertainty and of symptoms that are not easily diagnosed or known. She convincingly illustrates that medicine's belief in evidence-based practice does not mean that individual doctors are capable of objectivity, nor that the presence of biomedical ethics invokes ethical practices in hospitals and clinics. A foreword by Bonnie Blair O'Connor, who teaches medical students how to listen to patients, and a clinical commentary by Dr. Brian David Hodges, a professor of psychiatry, enrich the book's narrative with practical guidance for medical practitioners and patients alike.
Learn more about My Imaginary Illness at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: My Imaginary Illness.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best moustaches in literature

At the Guardian, John Mullan named a list of ten of the best moustaches in literature.

One entry on the list:
Rawdon Crawley

A captain in the Dragoons, the foolish Rawdon likes to twirl his moustache in order to impress Becky Sharp in Thackeray's Vanity Fair. He claims that only soldiers should wear moustaches and, to confirm his opinion, the cowardly Joe Sedley gets his barber to shave off his moustache when he fears that the French army is about to reach Brussels.
Read about another entry on the list.

Vanity Fair also appears on Mullan's list of ten of the best pianos in literature and Thomas Mallon's list.

Also see: Ten of the best beards in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Shawn Goodman reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Shawn Goodman, author of Something Like Hope.

His entry begins:
I am in the middle of what might be my favorite read of the year: Soon I Will Be Invincible, by Austin Grossman. This book is so intelligent and fun that I can't stop pushing it on people. It's your basic superhero storyline, but it's perfectly wrapped in pulpy comic book cliches, and told from the alternating points of view of Dr. Impossible, the world's leading supervillain, and Fatale, a six-foot-three cybernetically enhanced woman with serious self-esteem issues.

What sets this book apart is Grossman's...[read on]
Among the early praise for Something Like Hope:
"Shawn Goodman’s Something Like Hope will break your heart, then slowly piece it back together in a new and profound way. You will not forget this book."
--Matt Delapena, author of Ball Don’t Lie

“Shavonne’s voice—witty, tender, explicit, and tough—will grab readers. In the tradition of Walter Dean Myers’ and Jacqueline Woodson’s novels, this winner of Delacorte’s 2009 prize for best YA debut gets behind the statistics to tell it like it is.”

“Debut novelist Goodman…delivers a gritty, frank tale that doesn't shrink from the harshness of the setting but that also provides a much-needed redemption for both Shavonne and readers.”

“Those teens who applauded the urban survivors in Sapphire’s Push and Coe Booth’s Tyrell will do the same for Shavonne.”
--School Library Journal

“Goodman…paints a searing picture of a girl who slowly begins to claim the life long stolen from her.”
--Publishers Weekly
Shawn Goodman is a writer and school psychologist. His experiences working in several New York State juvenile detention facilities inspired Something Like Hope. He has been an outspoken advocate for juvenile justice reform, and has written and lectured on issues related to special education, foster care, and literacy.

Visit Shawn Goodman's website.

Writers Read: Shawn Goodman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Caroline Leavitt's "Pictures of You," the movie

Now showing at My Book, the Movie: Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt.

The entry begins:
Ha. You know what? I almost never ever cast movies of my books. I’ve had my heart broken by Hollywood one too many times (ask me about the three days Madonna was considering making my novel Into Thin Air her directorial debut and you’ll see what I mean) to get that far in my daydreaming.

However, I almost always imagine...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Caroline Leavitt's website and blog.

Caroline Leavitt's novels include: Girls In Trouble, Coming Back To Me, Living Other Lives, Into Thin Air, Family, Jealousies, Lifelines and Meeting Rozzy Halfway. Various titles were optioned for film, translated into different languages, and condensed in magazines.

The Page 69 Test: Pictures of You.

My Book, the Movie: Pictures of You.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five best: thriller plots with terror themes

Howard Gordon—the longtime executive producer of the hit TV series 24—is the author of Gideon's War.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of thriller plots with terror themes.

One novel on the list:
Marathon Man
by William Goldman (1974)

The sadistic Nazi dentist Christian Szell truly stands as a monster for the ages. Long after the war, Szell leaves his lair in South America to come to New York, searching for a stash of diamonds. He stalks graduate student and marathon runner Tom "Babe" Levy on the mistaken assumption that he has information about the jewels. But Babe doesn't know the answer to Szell's repeated question—"Is it safe?"—which makes even more excruciating the now-famous torture scene. Opening the novel, as William Goldman does, with two parallel, seemingly unrelated stories produces an extraordinarily compelling narrative as you keep reading, desperate to find out how the two plotlines will converge. But the book's central power lies in the reader's awareness that Babe is not merely an innocent caught up in a terrifying chase—he is also an American Jew, matching wits with a manifestation of death-camp evil.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Thelma Adams' "Playdate"

This weekend's feature at the Page 69 Test: Playdate by Thelma Adams.

About the book, from the publisher:
Inside their picture-perfect homes, the residents of this quiet California suburb are not at all what they seem.

Lance is a former weatherman, now a buff yogi, stay-at-home dad, and manager of his daughter’s Girl Scout troop’s cookie distribution. Belle is his precocious and quick-witted daughter. Darlene is a classic Type A work-a-holic, she has little time or patience for the needs of her husband and daughter.

And just down the street are Alec and Wren. Alec, a womanizing businessman, is also the financial backer—and sometimes more—behind Darlene’s burgeoning empire. Meanwhile, Wren is a doting mother and talented yogi, ready to lay down the mat for a quick session with Lance.

As looming Santa Ana winds threaten to turn brushfires into catastrophe; Playdate proves that relationships are complicated and the bonds between families, spouses and children are never quite what they seem. What happens next door, beyond the hedges, in the romper room and executive office—it’s all as combustible as a quick brushfire on a windy day.
Learn more about the book and author at Thelma Adams' website.

Thelma Adams has been Us Weekly’s film critic since 2000; after six years reviewing at the New York Post. She has written for Marie Claire, the New York Times, Cosmopolitan and Self.

The Page 69 Test: Playdate.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pg. 99: Scott Radnitz's "Weapons of the Wealthy"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Weapons of the Wealthy: Predatory Regimes and Elite-Led Protests in Central Asia by Scott Radnitz.

About the book, from the publisher:
Mass mobilization is among the most dramatic and inspiring forces for political change. When ordinary citizens take to the streets in large numbers, they can undermine and even topple undemocratic governments, as the recent wave of peaceful uprisings in several postcommunist states has shown. However, investigation into how protests are organized can sometimes reveal that the origins and purpose of "people power" are not as they appear on the surface. In particular, protest can be used as an instrument of elite actors to advance their own interests rather than those of the masses.

Weapons of the Wealthy focuses on the region of post-Soviet Central Asia to investigate the causes of elite-led protest. In nondemocratic states, economic and political opportunities can give rise to elites who are independent of the regime, yet vulnerable to expropriation and harassment from above. In conditions of political uncertainty, elites have an incentive to cultivate support in local communities, which elites can then wield as a "weapon" against a predatory regime. Scott Radnitz builds on his in-depth fieldwork and analysis of the spatial distribution of protests to demonstrate how Kyrgyzstan's post-independence development laid the groundwork for elite-led mobilization, whereas Uzbekistan's did not. Elites often have the wherewithal and the motivation to trigger protests, as is borne out by Radnitz's more than one hundred interviews with those who participated in, observed, or avoided protests.

Even Kyrgyzstan's 2005 "Tulip Revolution," which brought about the first peaceful change of power in Central Asia since independence, should be understood as a strategic action of elites rather than as an expression of the popular will. This interpretation helps account for the undemocratic nature of the successor government and the 2010 uprising that toppled it. It also serves as a warning for scholars to look critically at bottom-up political change.
Learn more about Weapons of the Wealthy at the Cornell University Press website.

Scott Radnitz is Assistant Professor in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington.

The Page 99 Test: Weapons of the Wealthy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Leona Wisoker & Leo and Shadow

This weekend's featured trio at Coffee with a Canine: Leona Wisoker & Leo and Shadow.

The author, on how the dogs joined her household:
Both are shelter rescues. Leo came from a no-kill shelter in Hampton called Animal Aid; he had been brought there as a very young puppy. He was adopted out once, and the couple returned him because he was "too rambunctious"--which is stupid, because of course a large-breed puppy is going to be destructively obnoxious for the first two years of his life. He was about a year and a half old when I found him, and he adopted me more than anything else. He was so thoroughly wired and excitable when I adopted him, and he is such a big dog, that the shelter was a little concerned whether I (at 5'1") could handle him; but the first thing he did when he got to his new home was to climb on the couch and go to sleep. And once we sorted out what food he did best on, about eighty percent of the wildness just disappeared. Shadow was adopted from the SPCA as a very young puppy. We picked him out around Christmas, and the shelter staff wouldn't let us take him home until after the holiday; they didn't want "puppy under the tree" syndrome, which I can understand. So we took a towel, laid it in Leo's bed, brought it with us every day to go cuddle the puppy in, then put it back in Leo's bed. So they knew each other before they ever met, and Shadow's name has proven very apt: he is, literally, "Leo's Shadow". He...[read on]
Leona Wisoker's short stories have appeared in Futures: Fire to Fly Magazine,,, and more. She is a regular reviewer for Green Man Review and its spinoff, The Sleeping Hedgehog.

Her latest novel is Secrets of the Sands.

Read an excerpt from Secrets of the Sands, and learn more about the book and author at Leona Wisoker's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Secrets of the Sands.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Leona Wisoker & Leo and Shadow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books that explain the myths & facts about China

Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom is a Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine, and a co-founder of The China Beat blog. His books include Global Shanghai, China's Brave New World, and Twentieth-Century China.

His latest book is China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know.

For The Daily Beast, he came up with five essential books that will explain the myths and facts about China, including:
Warren I. Cohen’s America’s Response to China: A History of Sino-American Relations.

A venerable work whose first edition was published right before Nixon met Mao in the early 1970s and whose fifth edition appeared last year, with an update incorporating the first stages of Obama’s presidency. Its author is a leading diplomatic historian.


There’s been remarkable consistency in recent decades in the way that presidents, of both parties, shift from talking tough about China while running for office to working to maintain smooth relations with Beijing once elected. The fact that there is now congressional and popular pressure on the White House to take a harder line on various issues relating to China is nothing new.


The book’s final chapter (newly written for the current edition), “America in the Age of Chinese Power,” has a very clear-eyed discussion of China’s relationship with North Korea.
Read about another book on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Jeffrey Wasserstrom's China's Brave New World.

The Page 99 Test: Jeffrey Wasserstrom's Global Shanghai, 1850–2010.

The Page 99 Test: China in the 21st Century.

--Marshal Zeringue