Seeking Success

Arguing that many self-help books "promise you the world, but seem short on reality," motivational speakers Sally Franz and Jennifer Webb have written Monster Lies: A Woman's Guide to Controlling Her Destiny, a succinct manual for making immediate life changes. The authors debunk common pitfalls people encounter when they attempt to change their lives (e.g., fearing that no matter how hard one tries, things will end badly; belittling oneself for not being perfect; trusting "experts" rather than going with a gut instinct) and explain how to toss these inhibitions to work toward personal success. Exercises and chapter summaries make this an easy-to-follow, helpful handbook. (Beagle Bay Books [], $25 336p ISBN 0-9679591-6-0; July)

Clinical psychologist Paul Pearsall (The Heart's Code) believes success—and how people define and pursue it—can destroy personal health, ruin marriages and create feelings of loneliness and isolation. He criticizes the instinct for executives and soccer moms alike to "multitask," and in Toxic Success: How to Stop Striving and Start Thriving, he teaches readers to find happiness in the "now." Pearsall's "Sweet Success" approach emphasizes shared, collective values (rather than a "me-first" attitude) and reminds people that money does not equal happiness. Workaholics and those who have difficulty knowing when to say when will find much useful advice in this intelligent book. (Inner Ocean, $24.95 368p ISBN 1-930722-09-5; June)

Ladies and Gentlemen, How to Live

You're a pretty slick guy who always says "please" and "thank you." But do you possess gentlemanly knowledge, such as the correct way to drink Armagnac, or how to make interesting conversation in elevators? And what about holding doors open for women? Phineas Mollod and Jason Tesauro have written The Modern Gentleman: A Guide to Essential Manners, Savvy & Vice to educate men on the finer points of life, from the barber shop to the opera. This thorough guide covers skinny-dipping, flirting, wine, card playing, sleeper trains, apologizing to lovers, e-mail, gift-giving and more, making it a must-have for every etiquette-conscious guy. Illustrations. (Ten Speed, $14.95 paper 400p ISBN 1-58008-430-3; Sept.)

Civility is "under assault," says Town & Country editor-in-chief Pamela Fiori, and in a collection of the magazine's columns, Town & Country Social Graces: Words of Wisdom on Civility in a Changing Society, she and 46 other writers share their views on manners. Cokie Roberts and Steven V. Roberts tell how consideration for each other, such as using a tiny book light so as not to keep the other one awake, has kept their marriage strong. Anne Bernays speaks about grandparent-grandchild relations, and Wendy Wasserstein explains her point of view on proper theatergoing behavior. This compact book, edited by Jim Brosseau, lacks only author biographies. (Hearst Books [Sterling, dist.], $18 244p ISBN 1-58816-080-7; Aug.)

Serving as an etiquette guide of sorts for "out, proud lesbians who seek adventure, whimsy and the rekindling of ancient dreams" is Becky Thacker's Amazon Girls Handbook. Thacker's book explains the various ranks (from tomboy to goddess) and the badge requirement necessary to achieve status. Her advice covers love, cooking, camping, arts, spirituality and more. Thacker suggests, among other things, that readers "perform at least two works of activism to further the possibility of governmental same-sex marriage recognition" and "drink water or fruit or veggie juices... rather than pop, coffee or diet concoctions." (Wicker Park [Academy Chicago, dist.], $13.95 paper 160p ISBN 0-89733-508-2; June)

Party On

On the heels of 1999's popular The Bad Girl's Guide to the Open Road comes Cameron Tuttle's The Bad Girl's Guide to the Party Life. "Living the Party Life is... about celebrating yourself, your life, and everything around you—even some of the bad things," writes Tuttle, and her book adheres to that idea by offering zany ideas for get-togethers, from the Vixen Mixen ("a naughty girl's night in") to the Junior High Party ("Spin the Bottle is so retro chic!"). Tuttle also gives tips on making an entrance at a party and clueing a friend in to the spinach in her teeth. (Chronicle, $14.95 paper 192p ISBN 0-8118-3361-5; Aug.)

The Bitter End, the famous Greenwich Village coffeehouse turned nightclub, has hosted artists including Woody Allen, Neil Young, Carly Simon and Pete Seeger since the '60s. Paul Colby has managed the club since 1968 and, with coauthor Martin Fitzpatrick, he presents The Bitter End: Hanging Out at America's Nightclub. In the foreword, rocker Kris Kristofferson calls the Bitter End "something of a shrine." Colby and Fitzpatrick explain how the club earned that reputation, from its role as showcase of newly emerging folk music 40 years ago to its present status as a music landmark. Photos. (Cooper Square, $26.95 224p ISBN 0-8154-1206-1; June)

Write This Way

For those who believe publishing is a game, Peanut Butter and Jelly Press is introducing a series of rule books. The first is Fern Reiss's (Terrorism and Kids) marketing how-to manual, The Publishing Game: Bestseller in 30 Days, with strategies designed to make the day job superfluous: create a national holiday that relates to your book; organize a speaking tour; sell to book clubs and magazines; set up a Web site for each of your titles. If only it were that easy! Writer's Digest Book Club main selection. (Peanut Butter and Jelly [], $19.95 208p ISBN 1-893290-88-3; Sept.)

Were a creative writing professor and a kindergarten teacher to conspire on a writing guide, it might look something like The Playful Way to Serious Writing: An Anything-Can-Happen Workbook to Inspire and Delight. In a big font that looks remarkably like a school teacher's penmanship, Roberta Allen (Fast Fiction; The Dreaming Girl) espouses the "ENERGY method" of finding your inner voice; it is, she says, "a way to break that shell of fear," "bypass the inner voice that stops you" and " lose yourself like a child in the magic of creating." Suspension of cynicism is required, of course: write about what an FBI agent would think of your life, or choose a letter that has the most "ENERGY" and pen a story featuring words starting with that letter, and Allen is there to warmly cheer you along. (Houghton Mifflin, $14 224p ISBN 0-618-19729-X; Sept.)

Ignore the title, which is bad. It's okay, even, to ignore the writing exercises. Barbara Abercrombie's Writing Out the Storm: Reading and Writing Your Way Through Serious Illness or Injury is a moving, unsentimental portrait of the author with breast cancer, as she navigates her fear of death and love of writing with intelligence and grace; it's a worthwhile book for anyone who's ever thought about writing or thought about sickness. With excerpts from the famous (Raymond Carver, Andre Dubus, Gilda Radner) and the un- (a Spanish-speaking woman who distances herself from her cancer by only writing about it in English), Abercrombie, who teaches in the UCLA Extension Writer's Program, shows how others have dealt with mortal issues and how "nothing can heal the spirit like creativity and faith." (St. Martin's, $12.95 176p ISBN 0-312-28545-0; Oct.)

Instruments of War

How did we get from the prehistoric mace to the intercontinental ballistic missile? That's what the ambitious Soul of the Sword: An Illustrated History of Weaponry and Warfare from Prehistory to the Present sets out to answer, as military historian and novelist Robert L. O'Connell (Ride of the Second Horseman) traces the invention of increasingly sophisticated killing machines (as well as boats, planes and armor) through human history. This record of lethal achievements spotlights groundbreaking weaponry like "Mademoiselle Soixante-quinze," France's 1897 75mm gun, or the Soviet T-34 tank ("hammer of the proletariat"); O'Connell provides some political context for their development. (Free Press, $35 400p ISBN 0-684-84407-9; Sept.)

From armaments to slang expressions to the religious revivals that periodically converted tens of thousands of fighters, Civil War Soldier: A Historical Reader probes the daily lives of the men in blue and gray. An anthology of landmark scholarly essays (most of them contemporary, but some from as far back as the 19th century), the book covers such subjects as morale and patriotism, methods of warfare and the composition of the armies. Editors Michael Barton, an American studies professor at Pennsylvania State University, and Larry Logue, history and political science professor at Mississippi College, include several pieces on the experiences of black soldiers and an article about women who fought disguised as men. (NYU, $65 512p ISBN 0-8147-9879-9; $24.95 paper -9880-2; Aug.)

For a broader crash course in Civil War history, the Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference offers a lucid summary of political rifts that led up to the war, extensive chapters on battlefields and the home front, state-by-state details about the armies and much more. Edited by LOC writer/editor Margaret E. Wagner, University of Virginia history professor Gary W. Gallagher (Lee and His Army in Confederate History) and University of Tulsa College of Law professor Paul Finkelman (An Imperfect Union), the book also has a chapters on "Civil War in Literature and the Arts" and "Studying the War: Research and Preservation," as well as bibliographies, filmographies and lists of other resources and organizations. (Simon & Schuster, $40 960p ISBN 0-684-86350-2; Sept. 13)

University of Indianapolis history professor David L. Anderson (Facing My Lai) combines three different formats in his concise Columbia Guide to the Vietnam War: a historical summary of the conflict from French occupation through North Vietnam's victory, organized around key controversial questions ("Was Johnson a War Hawk or a Reluctant Warrior?"); an A—Z mini-encyclopedia of all things Vietnam War; and an extensive list of resources and documents, plus a detailed chronology that runs from 207 B.C. ("Kingdom of Nam Viet founded") through Clinton's extension of diplomatic recognition to socialist Vietnam in 1995. (Columbia Univ., $45 352p ISBN 0-231-11492-3; Aug.)

August Publications

In Soundless Roar: Stories, Poems, and Drawings, Ava Kadishson Schieber, who spent her adolescence on a Serbian farm hiding from the Nazis, gathers poignant recollections and spare, expressive pictures that give voice to her many losses. The writing, though not beautiful, is powerful and detailed: in one moment, the young Ava finds comfort in carrying a dog through a sniper-filled Belgrade street, because, "if someone took aim at me, it would be less lonely to die this way." In the minimalist line drawings, a figure shares space with another, less distinct figure; these are the "friendly ghosts" of her sister, her father and all the others who perished with them. (Northwestern Univ., $29.95 165p ISBN 0-8101-1914-5)

Michael Scharf, a former legal adviser in the Department of State (and author of the Pulitzer-nominated Balkan Justice), and William A. Schabas, professor of human rights law at the National University of Ireland, Galway, offer a field guide to case number IT-02-54 at The Hague in Slobodan Milosevic on Trial: A Companion. A look at Milosevic's career is followed by a time line of events leading to the Balkan wars and the Serbian leader's trial; definitions of war crimes follow the history of international criminal trials; and a glossary of key terms and a list of dramatis personae bookend a consideration of the case itself. The authors walk readers through what's likely to happen, from defenses Milosevic will mount to goals the prosecutors must meet. (Continuum, $19.95 184p ISBN 0-8264-1411-7)

July Publication

Activist Benjamin Shepard and CUNY political science professor Ronald Hayduk team up to honor the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power in From ACT UP to the WTO, an anthology of essays and interviews that consider the group's influence on community activism, from their first demonstration on Wall Street in 1987 to "the Battle of Seattle" in 1999. The brief, fervent selections offer thumbnail portraits of contemporary social justice movements: transgender activist Leslie Feinberg recounts her arrest during a protest against the murder of Matthew Shepard; Jan Cohen-Cruz profiles the Church Ladies for Choice; and Starhawk, an activist witch, reveals "how we really shut down the WTO." Activism isn't dead after all, the editors insist—and there's "a new brand of... joy, perhaps rambunctiousness, involved in the new direct action." (Verso, $22 paper 448p ISBN 1-85984-356-5)

June Publication

British journalist Anton La Guardia, diplomatic editor for the Daily Telegraph and for eight years its Middle East correspondent, offers an informed and objective history of the Middle East battles in War Without End: Israelis, Palestinians, and the Struggle for a Promised Land. Tracing the Zionist movement back to its 19th-century roots, as well as the birth of national identity of the Palestinians among whom the Zionists settled, La Guardia offers general readers a balanced background to what many fear may well be a war without end. (St. Martin's/Dunne, $25.95 432p ISBN 0-312-27669-9)