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Over the past week, another (in this case, not yet published) memoir made the headlines for fabricating content. The release of the Holocaust memoir Angel at the Fence: The True Story of a Love That Survived was canceled by its publisher after the author Herman Rosenblat admitted he made up part of the story. A children’s book came out last fall based on his story (Angel Girl by Laurie Friedman) and its publisher is offering refunds to those who return their copy.
Sensational crimes, notorious criminal cases – these books and films depict some of the most famous “crimes of the century.” Check out one of these works in conjunction with the talk at the Library with Howard Blum, author of American Lightning: Terror, Mystery, the Birth of Hollywood, and the Crime of the Century.
American Lightning: Terror, Mystery, the Birth of Hollywood, and the Crime of the Century
By Howard Blum
A narrative history that vividly brings to life the original crime of the century, American Lightning shows the lasting impact that the 1910 bombing of the Los Angeles Times offices had on three remarkable individuals and, through them, the country itself.
Explore books about urban education and the charter school movement in this related reading list for a series of presentations on What Works in Urban Education, co-hosted by Tom Bloch and Kansas City’s University Academy.
Stand For the Best: What I Learned After Leaving My Job as CEO of H&R Block to Become a Teacher and Founder of an Inner-City Charter School
By Thomas M. Bloch
Twelve years ago, Bloch was CEO of H&R Block, the world's largest tax-preparation firm. After much soul-searching, he resigned to become a math teacher in a Kansas City inner-city school. Bloch tells what it was like struggling to make a difference to his students.
Dig into the dirty past with a few books (and films) about the mob collected to complement the Missouri Valley Speakers Series on January 18, 2009 where Bill Ouseley presented the real story of combating and prosecuting organized crime in Kansas City. Ouseley is author of Open City: True Story of the KC Crime Family, 1900-1950.
Open City: True Story of the KC Crime Family 1900-1950
By William Ouseley
This book tells the story of organized crime in Kansas City during the first half of the twentieth century from the "Black Hand" to prohibition to La Cosa Nostra. It is written by a 21-year veteran of the FBI Organized Crime Squad.
On January 14, 2009, author and historian Michael Elliott will discuss his new book Custerology: The Enduring Legacy of the Indian Wars and George Armstrong Custer at the Plaza Branch. Explore these books about this famous military commander, the battle known as “Custer’s Last Stand,” or the Oglala Lakota people.
Custerology: The Enduring Legacy of the Indian Wars and George Armstrong Custer
By Michael A. Elliott
On a hot summer day in 1876, George Armstrong Custer led the Seventh Cavalry to the most famous defeat in U.S. military history. In this in-depth study, the author tackles the far more complicated question of why the battle of Little Bighorn retains such power for Americans today.
January 4, 2009 marks the 200th anniversary of Louis Braille’s birthday. This influential inventor was blinded at age 3 and went on to develop the Braille writing system, patterns of raised dots that can be read by touch. These books for kids tell Braille’s inspirational life story and describe what life is like for those who are blind.
For younger children, David A. Adler’s A Picture Book of Louis Braille introduces the life and work of this important Frenchman. With watercolor illustrations, the story moves from Braille’s childhood accident to his career at the National Institute for Blind Children and his development of the Braille writing system.
An ideal biography for kids in grades 3-8, Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille by Russell Freedman tells the life story of Louis Braille, as well as presents the world of the blind before the invention of Braille writing.
These are just some of the favorites that appeared on DVD during the past year, and are now available at the Library for you to place on hold.
4 Months, 3 Weeks,and 2 Days
A dark, thoughtful Romanian film (is there any other kind?), set in the final days of the Ceausescu regime which revolves around the subject of abortion in a repressive environment.
Burn After Reading
The Coen brothers feed the paranoia about what happens within the Beltway, and do it in their typically grisly/funny fashion.
The Dark Knight
The late Heath Ledger isn’t the only reason to see this take on the Batman story, but he’s one of the main ones.
Discussing plays in reading groups is both rewarding and frustrating. It’s rewarding since readers can go back to the stage directions and descriptions and speeches and reread them slowly or with more focus. It’s frustrating because sometimes no matter how often a passage is reread, the only way to understand it is to see it performed.
This week, let's look at books by master illustrator David Macaulay. Macaulay is best known for books that explain complex things—like buildings and bridges and bodies—in a simple, visual way.
Macaulay was born in England, but spent some of his teenage years in the United States, where he went to college. He trained as an architect, but never worked as one, instead trying his hand at interior design and teaching. His first book was Cathedral, followed by City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction, and Pyramid. He writes stories, too, such as Baaa (my personal favorite as a barnyard fellow), which tells how human beings vanished from the earth and are replaced by sheep who make the same mistakes.
Macaulay has said that the world would be a better place if everyone drew pictures because it would help them to learn to see things, and how things work, more clearly. Will one of these books change how you see the world?
Yours with snorts,
With the snow and ice swirling outside, curl up with one of these cozy holiday mysteries.