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Arthur: The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home

Mikael Lindnord. Greystone (PGW, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $29.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-77164-337-5

Swedish adventure racer Lindnord shares the moving story of how a stray dog changed the course of a race through South America, and also changed Lindnord’s life. Lindnord wasn’t a dog person when he decided to share his meatballs with an injured stray who approached his team in Ecuador. But he developed a strong bond with the dog, who determinedly followed the team on their arduous trek through jungles and mountains and was given the name Arthur. So great was Lindnord’s admiration for Arthur that he was willing to sacrifice the possibility of winning in order to help him. After the race, Lindnord battled bureaucracy and red tape in order to bring Arthur back to Sweden. Along the way, the dog became a media celebrity. Lindnord draws readers into his story, confiding the many ways that Arthur touched and enriched his life. The story of the race will appeal to readers interested in endurance, while the story about the powerful connection that can develop between people and dogs will find a broader readership among dog lovers. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 11/24/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death and Hard Truths in a Northern City

Tanya Talaga. House of Anansi (PGW, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $18.95 trade paper (328p) ISBN 978-1-4870-0226-8

Journalist Talaga’s debut, about the deaths of seven young indigenous people between 2000 and 2011 in Thunder Bay, Ont., is a powerful examination and critique of present and past Canadian policies on indigenous peoples. The book is broken into sections, each one introducing readers to a promising indigenous youth who was forced to move hundreds of kilometers from a northern community to Thunder Bay in order to complete an education. Instead of finding opportunities, these young people found racism, indifference, violence, and finally death. Many questions about each death remain unanswered, but each one was immediately deemed accidental, some noted as such by the local police even before a coroner had a chance to conduct an autopsy. Talaga’s research is meticulous and her journalistic style is crisp and uncompromising. She brings each story to life, skillfully weaving the stories of the youths’ lives, deaths, and families together with sharp analysis. She connects each death to neocolonial policies and institutional racism in all levels of governments, as well as the legacy of Canada’s infamously abusive residential schools. The book is heartbreaking and infuriating, both an important testament to the need for change and a call to action. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 11/24/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Pantry and Palate: Remembering and Rediscovering Acadian Food

Simon Thibault. Nimbus (NBN, U.S. dist.), $29.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-77108-490-1

Journalist Thibault explores the food of his Acadian ancestors on the Canadian East Coast in this beautiful cookbook and culinary history. With a notebook of handwritten recipes from his grandmother, he set out to research, record, and relive Acadian cuisine, testing out recipes in his kitchen and augmenting his trial and error with occasional calls to his mother. The result is a grand testimonial to Acadian cooks of generations past and a time capsule that preserves Acadian home-cooking. The recipes—including pickled rhubarb, bran bread, Cajun fricot, and clam pie—are heavy, hearty, and an intriguing mix of Old World basics and New World influences, evidence of a unique, yet ever-morphing cuisine. Glorious, moody photos show off the food, and vintage black-and-white images give glimpses into the Acadian past. The recipes aren’t for everyone; a meat pie has to be made over two days, fresh Irish moss is required for blancmange, and headcheese and boudin will likely turn off non-adventurous eaters. But even if readers don’t use every recipe, Thibault’s culinary escapades are fascinating. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 11/24/2017 | Details & Permalink

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King William’s War: The First Contest for North America, 1689–1697

Michael G. Laramie. Westholme, $35 (344p) ISBN 978-1-59416-288-6

Independent scholar Laramie (By Wind and Iron) continues his studies of colonial North America with this account of King William’s War. This was the first of four wars to gain control of North America, fought by the French and the Wabanaki Confederacy against the English and the Iroquois Confederacy. Laramie offers a blow-by-blow, year-by-year narrative of the military and naval battles between the combatants in the eight years the war was waged. The military maneuvers are analyzed in great detail, and Laramie often second-guesses strategies of both sides, never shrinking away from describing the ferocity of the war. His analysis of the external and internal dynamics and sophisticated politics of indigenous confederacies provides depth and an understanding of the complicated factors at work. Similarly, insights into how the home politics of the European rivals influenced the outcome of the North American war also gives helpful perspective. Laramie credits France with winning this war, but indicts their overconfidence following the victory as a key factor in their loss to the English in the French and Indian War 100 years later. Laramie’s straightforward, well-organized effort should interest readers with a taste for colonial history and detailed martial narratives. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 11/24/2017 | Details & Permalink

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The Danger Within Us: America’s Untested, Unregulated Medical Device Industry and One Man’s Battle to Survive It

Jeanne Lenzer. Little, Brown, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-34376-3

Lenzer, a former physician associate who ditched her career to become an investigative reporter, exposes a dark aspect of the “medical industrial complex:” flaws in the development, regulation, and use of high-risk implantable medical devices. Lenzer focuses on the case of Dennis Fegan, a former Texas oil rig worker and firefighter whose vagus nerve stimulator—implanted to reduce his epileptic seizures—almost killed him. Through Fegan’s story, Lenzer sketches “a complicated web of human error, corporate manipulation, and regulatory failure” while delving into the massive problems that plague healthcare: inadequate clinical testing of high-risk medical devices, the FDA’s vulnerability to political interference, and ethically questionable corporate sales pitches to doctors. Lenzer concludes that the “underlying problem is the fact that we insist upon treating health care as a commodity rather than a common good.” Her platform of solutions includes reducing unnecessary treatments and tests, insulating researchers from market forces, converting to a single-payer health insurance program, and reforming the compromised FDA. Lenzer makes an excellent, often disturbing case for “a new national attitude toward healthcare.” (Dec.)

Reviewed on 11/24/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Illuminating Women in the Medieval World

Christine Sciacca. J. Paul Getty Trust, $24.95 (120p) ISBN 978-1-60606-526-6

Sciacca, a curator of early and medieval European art at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, offers expert commentary in this profusely illustrated volume that accompanies an exhibition of depictions of women in medieval manuscripts at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Much of the art is drawn from illuminated prayer and devotional books, and Sciacca provides basic background on the subjects of the art (explaining the difference between Saint Margaret and Saint Agatha, for example). More intriguing are her observations about women as patrons of the arts in the medieval era. Wealthy women commissioned prayer books and often requested to have their portraits painted into their books, usually depicted in a prayer position. The bright and saturated colors of the manuscripts are dazzling, particularly in the richly patterned garments and intricate marginalia. The appearance of a Persian miniature seems arbitrary and a faint attempt at inclusivity in a text devoted almost exclusively to Western art. Some readers might wish for more history, but a basic bibliography provides direction for further inquiry. This book would make a nice gift for those interested in women’s history or religious art. Color illus. (June)

Reviewed on 11/24/2017 | Details & Permalink

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The Bowery: The Strange History of New York’s Oldest Street

Stephen Paul DeVillo. Skyhorse, $24.99 (280p) ISBN 978-1-5107-2686-4

DeVillo (The Bronx River in History and Folklore) presents a cheerful, accessible history of Manhattan seen through the lens of its oldest street, the Bowery. The name is derived from the Dutch word bouwerie (farm) and dates back to the 17th century, when Dutch settlers established six farms on a trail north of New Amsterdam that became known as Bouwerie Lane. DeVillo tracks the central role this strip of land played in the transformation of New Amsterdam into the contemporary city of New York. The Bowery, he argues, was significant in the Big Apple’s cultural evolution: its theaters hosted prominent 19th-century talent such as Junius Booth, P.T. Barnum began his career at the Bowery Menagerie, and the city’s first movie theaters were built there. It was also a living laboratory for mass transit, from the 1832 debut of the world’s first horse-drawn passenger railway through the rise and fall of the Third Avenue El. DeVillo’s narrative continues through the street’s devolution into a synonym for skid row. Written in a witty, conversational tone (“Like many a later New Yorker, [he] insisted on giving the out-of-towner a grand tour”), this is a breezy, fact-filled trip through NYC history. B&w photos. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 11/24/2017 | Details & Permalink

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The Edgy Veg: 138 Carnivore-Approved Vegan Recipes

Candice Hutchings. Robert Rose, $27.95 (290p) ISBN 978-0-7788-0581-6

Hutchings, host of the YouTube channel The Edgy Veg, shares her carnivore-friendly approach to eating vegan in this charming and instructive cookbook. Rather than focusing on complicated recipes, Hutchings takes simple approaches to creating vegan versions of classic meat-based dishes, including French onion soup, biscuits and gravy, spaghetti and meatballs, fried chicken, and fish and chips. There are also vegan takes on the Taco Bell Crunch Wrap Supreme, the Chick-Fil-A sandwich, and the Big Mac. Hutchings’s recipes are as pared-down as possible, and most ingredients are easily sourced. Introducing a recipe for pumpkin sage soup, Hutchings says, “I’m lazy AF in the winter.... For you fellow bears out there, this recipe is a great place to start” as something to stock up on in anticipation of a freeze. Hutchings’s ingenuity is inspiring, whether she’s presenting a street food–style Thai basil beef dish, a chocolate mousse, or shredded Hogtown jackfruit, in which the fruit acts as a stand-in for barbecue pork. Other innovative dishes include breakfast burritos made with sweet potatoes, pinto beans, scrambled tofu and avocado; a carrot-based “lox” for morning bagels; and a cauliflower treatment of Buffalo wings. This light-hearted and encouraging cookbook is a welcome surprise. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 11/24/2017 | Details & Permalink

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The Dinner Plan: Simple Weeknight Recipes and Strategies for Every Schedule

Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion. Abrams, $29.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4197-2658-3

Brennan and Campion (Keepers) take a close look at the hurdles that make daily cooking a challenge and instruct home cooks on how to address them. Recipes are labeled by preparation: make-ahead, staggered, one-dish, pantry, and extra-fast (many are labeled by more than one type). The make-ahead dishes are to be prepared in advance when there are blocks of time, such as on weekends, and include braised green beans with tomatoes. Staggered recipes are for nights when family members eat in shifts and hand-held meals, such as marinated tofu lettuce wraps, are the best option. One-dish recipes, such as roasted cod with potatoes, tomatoes, and olives, are perfect for reheating and minimizing cleanup. The recipes labeled pantry can be conveniently frozen, and recipes labeled extra-fast take 30 minutes or less to prepare, and include sautéed fish with three sauce options. The steps are minimal, and choices such as baked penne with green chiles (make ahead), as well as bacon and egg fried rice (labeled as all five), are often an easy sell to picky family members. A closing section suggests some last-ditch, nostalgic meals such as pizza bagels, melties, and Spam sandwiches. This is a savvy addition to the weeknight dinner genre. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 11/24/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Every Breath You Take: An Under Suspicion Novel

Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke. Simon & Schuster, $26.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-5011-7164-2

The death of 68-year-old socialite Virginia Wakeling, who took a fatal fall off the roof of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, propels bestseller Clark and Burke’s tepid fourth novel featuring Laurie Morgan (after 2016’s The Sleeping Beauty Killer). Three years after Virginia’s death, Laurie, the producer of Under Suspicion, a TV show that examines cold cases, is pushed by host Ryan Nichols and studio head Brett Young into exploring it as a possible subject. Laurie has doubts because the case isn’t really old enough to be considered cold, and Ryan, who pitches the idea, is friends with Ivan Gray, Virginia’s boyfriend and the primary suspect. After Laurie listens to Ivan, considers the venue where Virginia was killed (an A-list do at the Met featuring an exhibit of gowns worn by first ladies), and makes a list of other possible suspects, she becomes more interested in proceeding. As Laurie follows a formulaic path to the truth, a constant undercurrent is her fractured romance with the show’s former host, Alex Buckley, and the possibility of repairing it. Series fans will hope for a return to form next time. Agents: Bob Barnett and Deenen Howell, Williams & Connolly. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 11/24/2017 | Details & Permalink

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