William Powers /
New World Library /
From Publishers WeeklyPowers (_Blue Clay People_) refers to wildcrafters, people who shape their inner and outer worlds to the flow of nature, as heroes. Among these wildcrafters is Dr. Jackie Benton, a physician who lives in a 12'×12' dwelling in the midst of 30 acres on No Name Creek in rural North Carolina. Benton lives a sustainable life off the grid by raising honeybees, growing her own vegetables and preserving them, and harvesting what she might need from the woods around her. As Powers points out, Benton seems to have achieved self-mastery in these confusing times, and his initial meeting with her is a search for clues to this self-mastery. After the two meet, Benton's sobering and often hilarious (taking showers in rain water warmed by the sun, learning that in order to eat chicken for dinner, he himself would have to kill a chicken given to him by his neighbors) narrative of his life in the 12'×12' offers precious insights into the ways that all individuals living in a fast-paced consumer culture might incorporate different ways of thinking about the natural world into their lives. (May) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. FromTake four giant steps forward. Turn right; do it again. Turn right again; repeat. Right; repeat. Now imagine living in a space roughly the size of the area just paced off. Without electricity or running water. In the middle of nowhere. Having recently returned from years in the Bolivian rain forest, environmental activist Powers experienced a nearly debilitating form of culture shock upon his reentry into the heart of American consumerism. His salvation came from ardent permaculturist Dr. Jackie Benton, who offered Powers the use of her spartan cabin in rural North Carolina. Living among other “wildcrafters”—organic farmers, furniture artisans, and eco-developers—Powers learned firsthand what it means to be self-sufficient in the midst of a nation that profligately squanders its resources and looks askance at those who choose to live deliberately. While there are no easy answers to be found in such an extreme experiment, Powers’ eloquent memoir reveals the breadth of this conflict and the depth of one man’s commitment to himself and his community. --Carol Haggas
John M. Barry /
Simon and Schuster /
Amazon.com ReviewWhen Mother Nature rages, the physical results are never subtle. Because we cannot contain the weather, we can only react by tabulating the damage in dollar amounts, estimating the number of people left homeless, and laying the plans for rebuilding. But as John M. Barry expertly details in Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America, some calamities transform much more than the landscape. While tracing the history of the nation's most destructive natural disaster, Barry explains how ineptitude and greed helped cause the flood, and how the policies created to deal with the disaster changed the culture of the Mississippi Delta. Existing racial rifts expanded, helping to launch Herbert Hoover into the White House and shifting the political alliances of many blacks in the process. An absorbing account of a little-known, yet monumental event in American history, Rising Tide reveals how human behavior proved more destructive than the swollen river itself. From Library JournalIn the spring of 1927, America witnessed perhaps its greatest natural disaster: a flood that profoundly changed race relations, government, and society in the Mississippi River valley region. Barry (The Transformed Cell, LJ 9/1/92) presents here a fascinating social history of the effects of the massive flood. More than 30 feet of water stood over land inhabited by nearly one million people. Almost 300,000 African Americans were forced to live in refugee camps for months. Many people, both black and white, left the land and never returned. Using an impressive array of primary and secondary sources, Barry clearly traces and analyzes how the changes produced by the flood in the lower South came into conflict and ultimately destroyed the old planter aristocracy, accelerated black migration to the North, and foreshadowed federal government intervention in the region's social and economic life during the New Deal. His well-written work supplants Pete Daniel's Deep'n as It Come: The 1927 Mississippi Flood (1977) as the standard work on the subject. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-?Charles C. Hay III, Eastern Kentucky Univ. Libs., RichmondCopyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Lee Sandlin /
Random House, Inc. /
Amazon.com ReviewJohn M. Barry Reviews Wicked RiverJohn M. Barry is the author of five previous books, including the highly acclaimed and award-winning studies __, and The Creation of the American Soul, about the development of the separation of church and state, will appear in 2011. Read his review of Wicked River:There are literally thousands of books about the Mississippi River, each of them attempting to capture its majesty. It is a tribute to the river's complexity and power that so few have succeeded. Lee Sandlin does. He writes elegantly and delivers what he promised--the story of the river in the days before engineers began their efforts to drain it of its mystery and protect us from its power. And by demythologizing both the river itself and the men and women on and along the river, by separating fact from legend, Sandlin actually makes it more majestic still.There's plenty of humor in here, and farce. Perhaps the single story that hits the hardest, though, has nothing about it either humorous or majestic. And it could be farce, something for Mark Twain's illumination, except for the punch line. It is the story of Virgil Stewart. In a kind of American version of the Protocols of Zion, Stewart peddled a supposed plan for a white-led slave uprising that took hold of much of the lower Mississippi Valley. The beatings, murder, and torture his lies engendered only remind us how fearful and stupid humans can be at their worst.The river today has banks lined with concrete for hundreds of miles, while dams block off tributaries and levees seal the main river in. All that constrains the river. Nonetheless, these very constraints have themselves wreaked havoc on the land the river made--physically made, by the deposit of sediment--along the modern Gulf Coast. And the power and wildness of the river which Sandlin writes about are one great flood away from unleashing. The river is, as T.S. Eliot wrote, "unhonored, unpropitiated / by the worshippers of machine. But waiting, watching and waiting."Review"In this lush, exuberant, action-packed and history-drenched book, Sandlin has brought the river back home again. . . . A vivid torrent of facts and passions, in an inspired agitation of water and words. . . . Wicked River is the best kind of history book. It is organized around people and their fates, not wars and dates and treaty signings. It artfully separates reality from fables, but it recognizes that fables have a story to tell, too, that our tall tales and our songs and our exaggerations and our mythologies can be as revelatory as topographical maps and temperature charts."_—_Chicago Tribune "Gripping stuff. . . . Appreciators of what Greil Marcus calls the Old, Weird America will savor Wicked River. Its many ghastly scenes, vividly rendered by Mr. Sandlin, started showing up in my dreams. . . . I was surprised, upon finishing Wicked River, to read that this confident and swift-moving book is the author's first. It makes one eager for the next."-_—_John Jeremiah Sullivan, _The Wall Street Journal _"A biography of the river in its pre-Twain period."_—The Washington Post _"Entertaining. . . . Chicago essayist and journalist Lee Sandlin tells tales about the Mississippi in the days when the river and the people who floated on it or lived along it were wild and untamed in the extreme. . . . Sandlin has done an impressive amount of research. For all that, his prose manages to avoid the snags and shoals of academic English. . . . A lot of fun to read."_—St. Louis Post-Dispatch _"Remarkable. . . . Told with the same verve and affinity for a good yarn that encomia to the river tend to inspire, Wicked River looks at life along the Mississippi in the 19th century, before Twain had us thinking it was all Americana adventures. . . . Sandlin may singlehandedly destroy the view that the Midwest is a mellow place."_—Time Out Chicago _"Marvelously captured. . . . A superb book debut. . . . Sandlin writes of a recurring sense of looming catastrophe that gripped many residents. . . . Fascinating."_—Chicago Sun-Times _"Sumptuous writing and fascinating tales of the days when life on the Mississippi was rough and wild. . . . Sandlin transports readers back to a renegade time on the Mississippi, a rollicking ride full of marauders, floating brothels and rough characters spit straight from the pen of Twain himself. Sandlin's own prose style is a fluvial joy."_—Minneapolis Star Tribune _"A gripping look back at the forgotten history of the river that made America."_—The Daily Beast _"Splendid. . . . Intriguing. . . . Full of great stories. . . . makes for amusing and stimulating reading."_—Columbus Commercial Dispatch (MS) _"[A] superb book debut. . . . Thoroughly engaging, entertaining and seductively educational history. . . . a grand, clear-eyed look at river towns' 'semi-barbarism.'"—_The Denver Post _"Sandlin pulls no punches . . . it's almost as if he decided Twain was wrong and we need to find out the truth. He tells of pirates, drownings and slavery even uglier than most history books will tell us, of people who fell off boats and had no way of being rescued in a wilderness. . . . if you love the river and its history, read it. It's fun."_—Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin _"A gripping book that plunges you into a rich dark stretch of visceral history. I read it in two sittings and got up shaken."—Garrison Keillor "Raucous, fascinating and fun. . . . [Lee] Sandlin debuts with a rollicking history of the Mississippi Valley before commerce and technology tamed it. . . . [He] seems to have adopted some of Twain’s technique in Life On the Mississippi—i.e., disappearing for pages into long narratives/legends/rumors associated with the valley and its denizens. . . . [He] provides some John McPhee–like detail about geology and riverine history, and also examines the human history of the region. . . . Apart from his generous offering of surprising facts, it’s obvious that Sandlin loves the lore of the river, its narratives, legends and lies. . . . Readers will delight in stories about Annie Christmas (who wrote tales about prostitutes), Marie Laveau (the Voodoo Queen), the Crow’s Nest pirates and John Murrell and his so-called “Mystic Clan. . . .Gorgeous. ” —Kirkus "_Wicked River _almost makes you feel guilty for enjoying an education so much. I learned things at every S-curve, neck deep in a fine, fine story. I lived a stone's throw from that river, and though I knew it flowed through eons of meanness and sadness and ribaldry, I didn't know it was this twisted. "—Rick Bragg, author of _The Prince of Frogtown_“Great stuff, essential stuff, and yeah, wicked.” —Roy Blount Jr, author of Alphabet Juice and Long Time Leaving Dispatches From Up South "Geographically, culturally, and metaphorically, the Mississippi River has been at the center of American reality and imagination for 400 years. In Wicked River, Lee Sandlin has lived up to his epic subject, taking us into overlooked, if not forgotten, epochs of history and folklore. Through labor and erudition he weaves the incredibly complicated strands of a story that seems too big to contemplate into a coherent tale that is surprising and entertaining on every page. He's made the river his own, and extends it as a welcome gift to the reader." —Anthony Walton, author of _Mississippi: An American Journey_"What a wickedly wild ride of a read! I loved this book! It may be nonfiction, but Sandlin tells his stories with a narrative drive that any novelist would envy. The events and characters from the early days along the Mississippi, which he so evocatively recreates, are among the most fascinating you’ll ever encounter anywhere. Honest to god, reading history has never been more fun!". —William Kent Krueger, author of _Heaven's Keep_“One of the best book’s ever written about the Mississippi River. Each page rounds a new bend full of delirious missionaries, hell-bent-for-speed steamboat captains, and gaudy traders in ‘fancy girl’ slave prostitutes. You won’t put it down till you’ve read every steamy, malarial, fascinating page.”—Mike Tidwell, author of Bayou Farewell __“Today we think of the Mississippi River as an elder statesman of the American landscape, but for most of the nineteenth century it was pure frontier: unruly, unregulated, and dangerous. Wicked River perfectly captures the great river's secret history, overflowing with wonderfully chosen and impeccably delivered character sketches, set pieces, and side trips.” —Scott W. Berg, author of Grand Avenues “In a narrative worthy of Mark Twain, Lee Sandlin tells of the Mississippi River when it was not only wild but wicked, home to sharpers and humbuggers, jackanapes, tub thumpers, and naked revelers. This is a grand tale of America’s mightiest river and the larger-than-life men and women who rode its waves into history.”—Sandra Dallas, author of Whiter Than Snow and Prayers for Sale “A fascinating book, rich in detail and lore, the kind of strange object one wants to curl up with for long periods of time and gaze into the past we know much less well than we imagine. _Wicked River _is bound to cause a stir among readers who always want to know a little more about some place or some thing than the usual sources allow. Reading it is going to school again, in the best possible way. An entrance into a world so magical and unlikely that every page is a new episode full of real swashbuckling, nasty critters (human), and the roiling history of the big bad river.”—Frederick Barthelme, author of Waveland "[A] superb book debut. . . . Thoroughly engaging, entertaining and seductively educational history. . . . a grand, clear-eyed look at river towns' 'semi-barbarism.'"_—The Denver Post _"Sandlin pulls no punches . . . it's almost as if he decided Twain was wrong and we need to find out the truth. He tells of pirates, drownings and slavery even uglier than most history books will tell us, of people who fell off boats and had no way of being rescued in a wilderness. . . . if you love the river and its history, read it. It's fun."_—Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin _
Dean Faulkner Wells /
Random House of Canada /
Review"Nobody could have written this book except Dean Faulkner Wells. It is not only charming, poignant and witty, it is a priceless contribution to America's rich literary history."—Winston Groom, author, _Forrest Gump _"Dean Faulkner Wells has written a memorable family story, full of the intimacies of place and cherished connections, that not incidentally sheds unexpected, humanizing light on her august uncle, William Faulkner."--Thomas McGuane "A funny, extremely readable, incredibly likable memoir of what it was like to grow up with the great man....A wonderful book."--Mark Childress, author of Crazy in Alabama "_Read Every Day by the Sun_, then read Go Down Moses, The Hamlet, The Town, The Mansion, and you will feel you have been on an archaeological dig with a master. Dean Faulkner Wells knows where the gold is buried, where the heart strings sang, where the understanding and love were engendered....Burn the deconstructionists’ texts. Every day By The Sun is all you need."—Ellen Gilchrist "I can't recall the last time I enjoyed a book as much as Every Day By The Sun. Dean Faulkner Wells has performed a miracle: She’s brought a great man back to life, and in doing so she’s summoned a time and a place that now seem too far gone. I love her clean, sharp, unpretentious prose, the well-hewn stories piled one on top of the other, the intimate revelations about a family that belongs to all of us but belonged to her first. William Faulkner is a fascinating character indeed, but it is Wells herself whom I found most captivating. She’s somebody to fall in love with and never get over."--John Ed Bradley, author, Tupelo Nights "A fresh, affectionate view of 'Pappy,' the great and difficult writer."--Roy Blount, Jr. "Part biography, part memoir, Wells' work does much to humanize the man who is often remembered only for his words. A must-read for Faulkner-philes."--_Kirkus _ "Marvelously evocative, intimate, and deeply moving."--John Berendt Product DescriptionIn Every Day by the Sun, Dean Faulkner Wells recounts the story of the Faulkners of Mississippi, whose legacy includes pioneers, noble and ignoble war veterans, three never-convicted murderers, the builder of the first railroad in north Mississippi, the founding president of a bank, an FBI agent, four pilots (all brothers), and a Nobel Prize winner, arguably the most important American novelist of the twentieth century. She also reveals wonderfully entertaining and intimate stories and anecdotes about her family—in particular her uncle William, or “Pappy,” with whom she shared colorful, sometimes utterly frank, sometimes whimsical, conversations and experiences. This deeply felt memoir explores the close relationship between Dean’s uncle and her father, Dean Swift Faulkner, a barnstormer killed at age twenty-eight during an air show four months before she was born. It was William who gave his youngest brother an airplane, and after Dean’s tragic death, William helped to raise his niece. He paid for her education, gave her away when she was married, and maintained a unique relationship with her throughout his life. From the 1920s to the early civil rights era, from Faulkner’s winning of the Nobel Prize in Literature to his death in 1962, Every Day by the Sun explores the changing culture and society of Oxford, Mississippi, while offering a rare glimpse of a notoriously private family and an indelible portrait of a national treasure.
Frederick Douglass; Brent Hayes Edwards /
Spark Educational Publishing /
ReviewProfessor John S. Wright My Bondage and My Freedom is Frederick Douglass's most accomplished rendering of his life on literary and philosophical terms. It is also his most acutely romanticist and 'transcendental autobiography'...can provide yet another chance for us readers to think more closely with a dedicated thinking man about how we might grapple with the complexly interwoven meanings of his life and our own. -- ReviewProduct DescriptionMy Bondage and My Freedom, by Frederick Douglass, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics: All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works. Born a slave, Frederick Douglas educated himself, escaped, and became one of the greatest social leaders in American history. Although usually identified with the monumental Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Douglass produced two additional autobiographies, the second of which he called My Bondage and My Freedom. A richer, deeper, and far more ambiguous work than the earlier Narrative, My Bondage and My Freedom reveals Douglass’s increased intellectual sophistication and maturity. In the decade that had elapsed since Douglass wrote_ Narrative_, he had broken away from his antislavery mentors, successfully toured England, and established himself as an inspired speaker and writer. With the publication of My Bondage and My Freedom in 1855, Douglass became the country’s foremost spokesman for American blacks—free and enslaved—during the tense and politically charged years preceding the Civil War. One of the highlights of My Bondage and My Freedom is the appendix, which contains excerpts from several of Douglass’s speeches, including perhaps his most famous, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” Brent Hayes Edwards is Associate Professor in the Department of English at Rutgers University. He is the author of The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism (Harvard University Press, 2003) and of numerous articles on twentieth-century African-American literature, contemporary poetry, Francophone Caribbean literature, surrealism, and jazz.
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