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Dissonance: The Turbulent Days Between Fort Sumter and Bull Run: by David Detzer


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David Detzer’s new book “Dissonance” completes his trilogy about those fateful weeks and months of 1861, when the American republic was beginning to tear apart.

Denial of Death by Ernest Becker


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According to Becker, man is torn between his symbolic, self-conscious awareness and his animal nature. The same creature that names himself, imagines, explores and speculates is in the end, food for insects.

Democracy and Populism : Fear and Hatred by John Lukacs


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You may not like what he says, you may not agree with his conclusions, but his thinking and his writing are so broad, rich, and in-depth that all but the most iconoclastic, the most radicalized, is forced to consider his perspectives.

The Collector by John Fowles


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Fowles was a writer who always seemed content to remain in the shadows, on the edge of things. He would emerge now and again to play the part of the cantankerous recluse, but he was, in essence a private, even hermetic man.

Collapse: How Nations Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond


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By the time the first Europeans visited Easter in 1722, the Island was nearly uninhabited, virtually barren except for the statues, and plagued by such a history of violence and cannibalism that in Island oral traditions, the most hostile insult a person could make was: “The flesh of your mother sticks between my teeth.”

Bedrock: Writers on the Wonders of Geology by Lauret E. Savoy, Eldridge M. Moores, Judith E. Moores


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How do we understand the natural forces that literally shape our world? How, over time have we attempted to explain sometimes spectacular, sometimes mysterious events?

Chief Joseph & the Flight of the Nez Perce: The Untold Story of an American Tragedy by Kent Nerburn


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No one knows for certain who first uttered the notorious statement that “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.” General Philip Sheridan, commander of the U.S. Army on the Western Frontier, often gets the dubious honor for a remark he reputedly made to a Comanche chief in 1869.

Centuria: 100 Ouroboric Novels by Giorgio Manganelli


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Americans in this therapy-mad epoch tend to take, rather mistake, an “experience” for that fateful “event.” Perusing Centuria, we may come to understand that the myriad catastrophes blazoned in newspapers and splashed over our screens — love, celebrity, athletic prowess, failure or fame, marriage, illness, crisis, smashup — do not concern the soul; nor can they illuminate whatever meaning life might propose.

Casting a Spell: The Bamboo Fly Rod and the American Pursuit of Perfection by George Black


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Some years ago, back in the days of its relative anonymity, fly fishing was considered an arcane art practiced by mildly addled, eccentric cranks.

The Caddie Who Knew Ben Hogan by John Coyne


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At the risk of being cold-hearted, though after reading this book I don’t seem to care all that much, there are times I wonder why people who are at least reasonably accomplished authors make the effort to write certain books, not to mention why these less-than-stellar titles ever see the light of print.