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Chief Penguin
Musings from the Academy’s Global Ambassador

December 27, 2012

Holiday Book Recommendations



At the request of a loyal reader, here are some book recommendations you might want to look into. You can even access them on that historic information storage technology known as paper. Imagine, no batteries. No switches. You can read a paper book during take-off and landing. It’s remarkable when you think about it and soooo retro. For the record, Mrs. Penguin provided most (not all, but most) of this content.

Spine of the Continent by Mary Ellen Hannibal. Mary Ellen wrote the text for Evidence of Evolution about the Academy’s specimen collections, and her new book details the ambitious project to create connected wildlife preserves from Alaska to Mexico through the Rockies.

If you saw Daniel Day Lewis’ stupendous performance as Abraham Lincoln in the film Lincoln, you might be intrigued enough to want to read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, Team of Rivals, about Seward and Lincoln and others in his cabinet.

And to continue the political theme, history is made up of personalities. What are presidents like after they are out of office? How do their quirks and foibles manifest themselves when they try to stay involved and be on stage when they should be off? The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy provides a fascinating angle on American history since WWII.

Humans are remarkably resilient and resourceful. Katharine Boo’s portrait of individuals who live in the slum abutting the Mumbai airport is simultaneously painful, haunting and elegantly written. It’s called Behind the Beautiful Forevers.

Also on the wish list:

Barbara Kingsolver’s new novel, Flight Behavior, which purports to tackle climate change.

The Yellow Birds, a first novel about soldiers in Iraq, by veteran Kevin Powers.

If you want to tuck into a really good read about the history of the Depression, the New Deal, and the Second World War from a domestic perspective, you will really love Freedom from Fear by David Kennedy. It won the Pulitizer Prize. You will see why. It’s totally engaging and superbly written.

And so, with the warmest greetings to you and your families for the holidays and my hope that you will enjoy a happy and healthy New Year, the Chief Penguin signs off for 2012.

Filed under: Uncategorized — gfarrington @ 3:36 pm

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