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Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316409131
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown and Company - May 7th, 2019

Pulitzer-prize winning author Jared Diamond’s newest release deals with the topic of crises in nations, how and why they come about, and how they respond to those crises. Diamond uses twelve response factors recommended for individuals in crisis therapy, then finds parallel factors for nations. Upheaval is a historical analysis of how seven particular countries dealt with various types of crises. It also concerns crises facing the world as a whole. Those factors are: 1) obtaining a national consensus that a problem exists 2) accepting a national responsibility to act on the problem 3) building a “fence” isolating the problem 4) getting help from other nations 5) using other nations as models to find ways to solve the problem 6) national identity 7) honest self-appraisal 8) experience of previous national crises 9) dealing with national failure 10) situation-specific national flexibility 11) national core values 12) freedom from geopolitical constraints. 

A nation in crisis will need to make selective changes in order to escape the crisis, and its success or failure will depend on its responses to those twelve factors, responses that will facilitate or impede a favorable outcome.

The countries which Diamond selected for examination are countries in which he spent many years, and with which he therefore felt a high degree of familiarity. They were Finland, Japan, Chile, Indonesia, Germany, Australia, and the U.S. Examples of the crises they faced include Finland’s wars with the Soviet Union; Japan’s westernization and fall after World  War Two; Chile’s intense political polarization and the fall of Allende; events surrounding and stemming from the 1965 coup in Indonesia; Germany’s aftermaths of World War One, World War Two, and reunification, and Australia’s ethnic changes and loosening of ties to England. 

He believes that, while the U.S. is not currently in a crisis, it does have some very serious problems, the most important of which is the loss of political compromise. For politicians, the causes are the high cost of campaigning, the ease of air travel, and gerrymandering. But people other than politicians are also increasingly uncompromising, and this is due to the prevalence of internet-derived niche information use. The other major problems faced by the U.S. are the failure of eligible voters to vote, socioeconomic inequality, and lack of investment in our future.

For the world as a whole, he sees the possibility of nuclear war, climate change, resource depletion, and inequality of living standards as the greatest risks for crisis.

In great detail, he compares and contrasts the countries examined relative to those factors.

Drawing on psychology, history, and geography, Diamond produces an interdisciplinary study that gives the reader a new approach for analysis of crises.

Recommended for history and psychology buffs who will appreciate a readable yet highly detailed work.

Steve Brehm

32nd Avenue Books, Gifts & Toys Bookstore

Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations Cover Image
ISBN: 9781538729748
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Published: Grand Central Publishing - May 21st, 2019

And then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” -Isaiah 6:8  (epigraph)

Admiral William H. McRaven (retired), author of the best-selling Make Your Bed, has produced another work telling stories of his life in the Navy SEALS. With service of 37 years, he retired as a Four-Star Admiral and Commander of all U.S. Special Operations Forces.

Admiral McRaven tells of growing up in a military family, with reminiscences of the American Officers’ Club in France, youthful hijinks on an air force base in the U.S., and  the value of confidence obtained from athletic achievement. He then jumps into the rigors of SEAL training and the insane challenges of Hell Week. The only fear he and his fellow “tadpoles” face is that of failure.

From there, he relates stories of various training exercises illustrated with mishaps such as a helicopter crash or a parachuting accident. Tales of actual combat operations follow, such as the capture of Saddam Hussein, the elimination of Osama bin Laden, and the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips from the Maersk Alabama off the coast of Somalia. These are stories of adventure and daring. But their value is more than entertainment; it is the lessons they teach, lessons of resoluteness, courage, equanimity, perseverance, motivation, reliability, and game knowledge.

For me, the most significant result of reading this book was the sense of meeting and getting to know its remarkable author. A man’s character may be determined by the objects of his love and respect. Admiral McRaven is a man with a great love for his family and country, faith in its youth, and an intense admiration for those whose sacrifices enabled good people to live in freedom. 

Steve Brehm

32nd Avenue Books, Toys & Gifts Bookstore

The Last Unknowns: Deep, Elegant, Profound Unanswered Questions About the Universe, the Mind, the Future of Civilization, and the Meaning of Life Cover Image
By John Brockman, Daniel Kahneman (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780062897947
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Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - June 4th, 2019

One of the main reasons I enjoy reading is because of the rich intellectual stimulation that can be derived; it opens the mind and inspires curiosity and wonder. This work elegantly satisfies that drive.

The Last Unknowns is the last of John Brockman’s Edge Question Book Series. It asks 284 leading academics and thinkers the question, “What is ‘The Last Question,’ your last question, the question for which you will be remembered?” This book is the collection of their responses, and reading it once was not enough. Sometimes the questions seem to demand your answer, sometimes they seem like there could be no answer. And sometimes, you may not understand the question

Examples of these questions: “What is the hard limit of human longevity?”- Gregory Benford, professor emeritus of physics and astronomy, University of California;  “Does consciousness reside only in our brains?”- W. Brian Arthur, external professor, Santa Fe Institute;  “Which questions should we not ask and not try to answer?”- Nick Bostrom, author, Superintelligence; “How do our microbes contribute to that particular combination of continuity and change that makes us human?”- Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, assistant professor of sociology, University of Minnesota; “Will post-humans be organic or electronic?”- Martin Rees, former president, Royal Society.

Readers will marvel at the ideas and thoughts that the questions of these great thinkers reflect, consider their concerns and expectations, see and imagine their envisioned future, near and far.

Recommended for scientists, secondary school and college students, teachers, and anyone who enjoys deep thought and conversation.

Steve Brehm

32nd Avenue Books, Toys & Gifts Bookstore

The Black and the Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism, and Injustice in America's Law Enforcement Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316440080
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Published: Hachette Books - August 7th, 2018

Mathew Horace was a policeman in Arlington, Virginia before he joined the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. He is a twenty-eight-year veteran of law enforcement in federal, state and local police capacities and has worked internationally. 

He has trained thousands of police and has an impressive history of involvement in various law enforcement activities.

His work, The Black and the Blue traces through the history of racism in police forces, and describes the memes which underpin its existence. Most importantly, he describes ways to undercut those memes-ways to bring the police closer to the community. 

At times, it is a rough read. There are incredible stories of police misdeeds, poor hiring practices, and deficient training. Racism can be behind those problems, but often it is implicit bias, an unrecognized discriminatory attitude that influences behavior. 

Mathew Horace worked with numerous law enforcement representatives connected with efforts to improve police recruitment, hiring and training practices. From his myriad experiences, he makes thoughtful and salient recommendations for what should be done. Police agencies need to conduct screening for implicit bias levels and periodic psychological and physical assessment of cops. Additionally, police officers should receive training with use-of-force scenarios based on de-escalation techniques.

Recommended for law enforcement personnel and anyone interested in improving police/community relations. We are grateful for his interview, which follows.

32nd Avenue Books: Should there be any component to police training that educates police to behave differently toward people of different races?

Matthew Horace: All police departments should receive cultural sensitivity training.  This should be in conjunction with anti-bias and implicit bias training.  The idea is to recognize that we all have implicit biases but they need to be recognized and we need to be trained as to how to identify them, understand them and overcome them.

32nd Avenue Books: You write that you never really wanted to become a police officer. Nevertheless, that is what you did. How did that happen?

Matthew Horace: Many police departments (progressive ones) recruit on college campuses. As an NCAA D-1 athlete, I knew that I could endure the physical rigors.  I had seen so much bad policing as a kid growing up in Philly, I figured why not become a part of the solution and not the problem.  It was a great opportunity right out of college with great pay, tenure, benefits, and it appealed to my sense of team work, esprit de corp and community engagement.  It also prepared me to be considered for hire into the elite federal law enforcement system.

32nd Avenue Books: There was a time when you were an aggressive cop. Can you describe the process in which you changed?

Matthew Horace: We are taught to be aggressive as a part of our duties.  Naturally, a lot of athletes are drawn to the profession.  Aggression is not the problem.  Over aggression is the problem.  Many of us understand where the line is drawn because we have been subjected to these behaviors as victims.  Treat people with respect until they show you otherwise or become a threat to you or others.   

32nd Avenue Books: You say that everyone has biases. How do you determine whether a bias can be held in check?

Matthew Horace: You have to identify what your biases are first, acknowledge them and practice a paradigm shift. 

 32nd Avenue Books: Emantic Bradford, Jr. was a “good guy with a gun” in Alabama. What could have prevented his shooting? 

Matthew Horace: Keep in mind that Mr. Bradford wasn't a police officer.  In the book we talk about one of the dangers of being black and blue is never being considered by others as being part of a solution, but always being feared.  In the book, we call this the boogeyman effect.  This problem transcends to any black person with a visible gun.  We are going to be assumed guilty because of the implicit biases that have been ingrained in our psyches.  Our story about NY police officer Omar Edwards illustrates the point all too well.  The case in Ohio where a black man was shot to death in a Walmart while holding a toy gun further illustrates this. It is for this reason that many of us, when off duty, don't respond to or react to crimes in our presence.  In fact, in the book I point out having been almost shot by a white police officer during an undercover operation where I was mistaken for a bad guy.

Steve Brehm

32nd Avenue Books, Toy & Gifts Bookstore

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735224933
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Published: Viking - March 26th, 2019

Dr. Eberhardt is a professor of psychology at Stanford. She was also the recipient of a 2014 MacArthur genius grant and has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and has various other awards. Biased is mainly an examination of implicit racial bias, the kind of bias that may easily be unrecognized and can be long-standing. It is conditioning that results from lengthy experience and is certainly not restricted to whites, as it occurs in blacks and others as well.  She describes many psychological tests and historical events that show implicit bias is pervasive, not only in the U.S., but globally as well. Biased is a surprising book that quickly takes the reader into a reckoning of widespread assumptions about race. 

While conditioning and categorizing habits are necessary for survival because they can speed up understanding of situations and make results predictable, they can also cause a mistaken assumption of wrongdoing. Stress from a need to react rapidly produces a state of ambiguity, and that can lead to behavior that relies on implicit bias. 

Dr. Eberhardt has conducted lessons for law enforcement in Oakland and recommends procedural justice training for police. This means that police learn to give voice to the community, and to demonstrate fairness, respect and trustworthiness. 

For schools, she suggests empathy training for teachers and values affirmation exercises for the students. This gives the teachers an understanding of the kinds of student experiences that lead to misbehavior, and the kinds of effective discipline used by others. Students write about personal values to recognize their potential and see the school as supportive. This also helps teachers to see the students as individuals.

Recommended for teachers, police, social workers and all who desire to learn about unconscious racial bias.

Steve Brehm

32nd Avenue Books, Toys & Gifts Bookstore

Write to the Point: A Master Class on the Fundamentals of Writing for Any Purpose Cover Image
ISBN: 9781615194629
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Published: The Experiment - August 7th, 2018

Sam Leith’s Write to the Point is indeed a master class on the fundamentals of writing for any purpose. He is a literary editor at the Spectator and columnist for The Financial Times, Evening Standard, and Prospect. His writing has appeared in other publications and he has written several other books including Words Like Loaded Pistols: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama. His observations about language-what makes it tick, how it works (or doesn’t), and various ways to improve it are focused, entertaining, and born of experience. 

He takes you from the parts of speech through punctuation, rewriting exercises, techniques of accomplishing effective writing, common mistakes and controversies, and observations on writing for different purposes. He provides many fine recommendations on achieving a desired register, or tone, in your work. For me, the most important result gained from reading this work was learning ways to read my own writing analytically. Writing is like a musical instrument that must be properly tuned before it can sound right.

His advice is expert: Strive to produce right-branching sentences, with the subject and verb up front, (that is, part of the time), be direct, avoid cliche, begin with the most important elements, and consider the “camera angles” of your prose. Pay attention to how your writing sounds when you read it. Think of the effects of punctuation, syntax and choice of words on its cadence. Do they give it the kind of emphasis you want? Above all, seek brevity and clarity. And learn when to break the rules.

For anyone who enjoys the craft of language, and especially anyone who really wants to write well, this book will be a joy to read, and even to reread.

And since Sam Leith is an accomplished and influential writer, I wanted to get his ideas on a few topics. I very much appreciate his response to my questions.

32nd Avenue Books: How do you see language changing in the future?

Sam Leith: I think what we've seen is that thanks to digital media everyone now masters a much greater range of written registers and idioms than they used to: linguistic change moves faster, too, with in-words and borrowings going global in a matter of months rather than decades. So I think the melting pot is getting bigger, and richer, and more complicated -- and that's all to the good. 

32nd Avenue Books: Can you describe a single, most important thing that makes good writing good?

Sam Leith: There’s no single thing, because as I hope comes over in my book, using language well is *always* situational: it's about the right words for the right context and audience. But I do think that cadence is much, much more important than you'd think from the very limited extent to which it's discussed. A good ear for the rhythm of words makes a huge difference. 

32nd Avenue Books: Was there someone who had a major influence on you writing?

Sam Leith: There are so many writers I admire, and whose effects I've probably borrowed or imitated here and there, that it's hard to say. Some of David Foster Wallace's vamping between high and low styles, I think, has rubbed off on me in my journalism, and I've read a lot of poetry growing up so everything from Sylvia Plath's sound-effects or Auden's simultaneous exactness and talkiness to the stately cadences and unexpected word choices of early Robert Lowell have probably influenced my ear. Perhaps the likes of Berryman and Elizabeth Bishop and Nathanael West and Evelyn Waugh for taking a cheerful approach to dark material. But I can't point to a single writer I've been directly shaped by. It's all part of the mental mulch. Mostly I've been influenced by the people over the years -- parents, teachers, friends, colleagues -- who have pressed books on me and encouraged me to read very widely and enthusiastically. The more you read -- and in my case that's everything from Chris Claremont to Shakespeare -- the more you learn to write, in my opinion.

Steven Brehm

32nd Avenue Books, Toys & Gifts Bookstore

Pandemic Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525535331
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - December 11th, 2018

Robin Cook has published over 30 works internationally and is credited with establishing the medical thriller genre. They have titles like NanoVectorToxinMindbend, and Mutation.

His latest is Pandemic, and it tells the story of a medical examiner in New York City who is faced with the dilemma of trying to determine the cause of death of a young woman who was DOA at his hospital. She had boarded a subway, apparently healthy, and then took ill only to arrive at the hospital without any identification, and quite dead. Dr. Jack Stapleton fears that the young woman may have died from a form of influenza 

such as the strain that caused the pandemic in 1918. He performs an autopsy and discovers the incredible fact that she has had a heart transplant and that her DNA matches that of the heart! Dr. Stapleton’s testing and investigation lead to a facility in New Jersey that conducts genetic research using CRISPR/CAS9 (a gene editing tool), and is owned by a Chinese billionaire named Zhao Wei. Daquan Zhao is his son. 

This work definitely invites discussion of important medical ethics issues as well as a discussion of patriotism itself. The roles played by Dr. Jack Stapleton, Daquan Zhao, and Zhao Wei, all illuminate these discussion points.

Wei is a brilliant and extremely successful businessman who apparently admires America. It is possible to imagine him developing futuristic cures for diseases that still plague us. His problem with China, it seems, is that he cannot remove the capital that he has created in his home country. Could there be a way for him to continue his experiments in the U.S. and to take the wealth from China? Zhao, however, is also megalomaniacal, brutal, and likely willing to kill to further his aims. Of course, he will ignore any government restrictions on his work, and so it appears he must be stopped.

His son, Daquan, wants to keep the benefit of his father’s work in China. He considers himself a patriot of the new China, but he is happy to use the American auspices of his father’s business to do so. He is also brutal and only interested in the success of his own aims. How should his actions be viewed?

Dr. Stapleton is a talented and committed medical examiner who is genuinely concerned about the common good and about following the law. But must these reasons prevent him from advancing medical knowledge? Details of these issues will propel discussion.

This tale opens the door to exploring questions of morality, patriotism and the quest for scientific advancement. Fans of Robin Cook, aficionados of medical thrillers, and those who appreciate works that give rise to debate will enjoy this book.

Steve Brehm

32nd Avenue Books, Toys & Gifts Bookstore

And the Whole Mountain Burned: A War Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781546081913
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Published: Center Street - November 6th, 2018

Author Ray McPadden was a commander of an elite Ranger unit in Afghanistan. He was also in Iraq and worked with Navy Seals. He had four combat tours and received a purple heart, two bronze stars, and a medal of valor. Contemplating his history,  I’m a little uncomfortable calling the work  “fiction.” I suppose it is, but I don’t know how it could be much closer to the truth.  

This is a war story set in Afghanistan that begins in 2002 and then jumps ahead to 2008. It starts with a scene where a Sgt. Nick Burch is attempting to buy some fried potatoes from a boy named Habibullah when he is attacked by the Taliban. After a fierce exchange of fire, the attack ends. Sgt. Burch assumes that the boy has been killed but soon discovers that, no, he is simply on the other side of the house, cooking the potatoes, which he presents to Sgt. Burch! 

Habibullah has larger roles later in the story, as does a Pvt. Danny Shane, a “cherry” whose military development in the Kush is influenced by his Sergeant, Nick Burch. 

Danny arrives to Sgt. Burch’s platoon in 2008, and their chief mission is to search for an elusive insurgent nicknamed “the Egyptian.” As time progresses, Danny changes into a much more hardened soldier who remains loyal to his sergeant.  But Sgt. Burch has spent much time in combat, perhaps too much. His reasoning fragments from the stresses of battle and it affects his judgement, eventually in profound fashion. 

And The Whole Mountain Burned describes life in a combat unit in the ‘Stan. It is a blistering, rough tale of what that experience was for our soldiers who made the journey. It also gives a picture of the character of the Afghan people, as seen through the eyes of a soldier. If you like modern military adventures, this one is for you.

There are various fascinating military endeavors and battle scenes within the story, but for me, the truly frightening parts involved the episodes when Sgt. Burch’s grasp of reality disappears-he fantasizes a burning zeppelin that crashes during a firefight, he dances with a cobra, he thinks the mujahadeen can shape-shift, he even once proposes to eat the enemy-these events stem from macabre hallucinations born of prolonged terror. It made me realize that a soldier may need to keep separate the insanity (in war) from the insanity (caused by war), so as not to be overcome by either.

I wanted to know more about how the dangers and resulting effects of battle were observed and experienced, and how they connected to his writing process. I am very pleased that the author contributed his answers to some of my questions.They follow:  

32nd Avenue Books: How have your experiences in combat changed your outlook on life?

Ray McPadden: Many young men and women want to go war. It's a way to prove what they are made of, their self-worth. It's the ultimate game for measuring oneself. So with war in my rearview mirror, I think I'm a calmer person. I quenched the "thirst" to find out what I'm made of. I am satisfied. I like who I am. 

32nd Avenue Books: Can you describe how your memories of combat and your imagination combined to form the story in your book?

Ray McPadden: I started writing a memoir. Real experiences and memories just poured out of me. I let it all flow, and it was all about me. That made me uncomfortable. Plus, many of my powerful memories, like firefights, were isolated events with no larger implications or narrative. I decided to fictionalize my memories. It was a break-through moment that freed my imagination. Fiction gave me a chance to re-order stories, create different angles, and combine real people. Many characters in the book are combinations of 2-3 real people. I began to package real stories together in ways that created a better narrative arc. The book took form. 

32nd Avenue Books: What can you say about the effects of extreme battle stress on elite cadre?

Ray McPadden: Battle stress brings out viciousness and anger. Both are good qualities on the battlefield, but not so much in the normal world. Being hyper-alert and neck-deep in violence on a regular basis takes its toll. The longer it goes on, the more your sense of reality and your morals are challenged. One of the main characters in the book, Burch, is a symbol of this struggle. 

32nd Avenue Books: What has been your personal experience with battle stress?

Ray McPadden: I dealt with it mostly on my first tour in Afghanistan. It was a 15-month deployment in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. We were constantly fighting in savage terrain. There was no rest, no safe area. It was a far different situation from say, the Battle of Fallujah in Iraq, where US forces geared up, engaged in a bloody battle to retake a city, and won within a couple weeks. During my first tour in Afghanistan, battle stress brought out selfishness. I tried extremely hard to keep it from clouding my judgement. You have to think of mission, and people. Self is the wrong answer as a combat leader. 


Steve Brehm

32nd Avenue Books Toys & Gifts Bookstore



A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316449458
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Published: Orbit - April 23rd, 2019

This is a post-apocalyptic work that describes a family and their dogs living on an island off the coast of what was once Scotland. It occurs in the future when almost all of the world’s population has died. No one is sure of the cause. Only about one person per million has survived; the rest have simply perished, having lost the ability to reproduce. This family lives and hunts and basically survives on their island, but one day a man arrives in a boat and discusses trading with them. However, the man tricks them and leaves the island with one of their dogs. Griz, the youngster whose dog was taken, gives chase in an attempt to reclaim the dog. The pursuit leads to the mainland where a variety of adventures and dangers ensue. While it is a tale of “survival, courage, and hope,” it is also a tale of great imagination. For me, the book was enjoyable because I liked the author’s vision of a world with very few people in it, but one in which I could imagine myself.

The story is actually being told to a photo that Griz had once found. Griz talks to the past from the present (which is our future). Sometimes the reader realizes that the story is being told from Griz’s future, and this play shows the author’s adeptness at time angling. He imagines a world without us, but one in which we still live. The bones of the past still exist in the future, and Griz knows of the “before” from books. When Griz wonders about our present, it makes us wonder about the future, about what life could be like.

There is a very surprising twist in this tale, and most of the details and complexity unfold near the end. Those who enjoy a revealing and relatively rapid denouement will find this work very satisfying.


Steve Brehm

32nd Avenue Books Toys & Gifts Bookstore

Atlas of a Lost World: Travels in Ice Age America Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307908650
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Pantheon - May 2018

Craig Childs is a nature and science writer who has published several other books including Apocalyptic PlanetFinders Keepers, and Animal DialoguesAtlas of a Lost World is his latest. He has also written for various publications and teaches writing at the University of Alaska and the Southern New Hampshire University.

This work examines the questions of when did people first arrive in the Americas, how do we know, and why did they come. Evidence seems to suggest that people first began arriving about 20,000 years ago but there is not uniform agreement on this. Radiocarbon dating and the discovery and analysis of paleolithic artifacts and fossils are the main ways that we can know the approximate date of arrival. However, there have been discoveries of other objects, such as stone points or a piece of a bone in much older strata that throw doubt on the date. Speculations as to why people came include consideration of genetic drivers, such as a rover allele or a dopamine receptor that will cause certain individuals to forage more or engage in risky behavior; climate changes, and even space-related drivers.

The author traces human evolution from Africa. Animal bones having been cut with stone about two million years ago, possibly by Homo Erectus, were discovered in Kenya. 100,000 to 70,000 years ago humans left Africa at Djibouti and entered the Middle East at the bottom of Saudi Arabia. About 48,000 years ago humans entered Sahul, the contiguous landmass of Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea, and there is evidence of humans butchering Mammoths in Siberia at 45,000 years. One theory has humans crossing a land bridge at the Bering Strait before it was submerged due to ice melt. They would have followed mountains or nunataks protruding from the ice. Another has them traveling down the Pacific coast in boats made of skins, following the Kelp Highway, a maritime ecosystem surrounding kelp and proceeding inland along rivers.

Craig Childs has travelled extensively-Alaska, Chile, Florida, New Mexico- to research various paleolithic sites. He has even spent time on the Harding Icefield to experience what the Ice Age Pleistoscene may have been like. Whether he is in a desert or a jungle, his imagination launches him to the period when the artifacts and fossils were in use or had life. The way he allows his study to transport him to that time draws me into his work. He can examine a prehistoric camel skull and, a moment later, there he is in the Pleistoscene watching for dire wolves and sabertooth cats, observing the landscape, smelling the moisture in the air, feeling the wind. When visiting Paisley, Oregon and reflecting on the Paisley Caves site as it existed 14,000 to 16,000 years ago, 6,000 years after the last glacial maximum, he writes: “Clouds streamed off the Cascades. Dabs of sleet pegged the ground, hitting my shoulders, nicking my cheeks. For time travel, stormy weather is best. The dry West can be nothing but sunny, everything cut into slices of shadow and light. On a day like this, sunlight turns into color and shape as shadows richen. Ghosts stir from the ground, silver-tipped rain on sage.”

This work was pleasurable and stimulating. Definitely recommended for those who enjoy nature and scientific adventures.

Steve Brehm

32nd Avenue Books Toys & Gifts Bookstore


Small Fry Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802128232
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Published: Grove Press - September 4th, 2018

“Small Fry” was the nickname Steve Jobs called his daughter, Lisa. It is also the title of her autobiography. This book is a coming of age story, brutal in its innocence and complex in human emotions and values.

Author Lisa Brennan-Jobs endured the struggles on growing up with a genius, her feared and famous father and a sensible but confused single mom, Chrisann, to become an independent young woman that created her own path in life.

She survived the apparent immaturity of her parents and the distance and volatility of her father while experiencing an enormous desire to be accepted and approved by his family. Lisa managed to overcome the toughness of her early life to create her own triumphant future.

32nd Avenue Books Toys & Gifts Bookstore

Bloody Sunday: A Thriller (A Dewey Andreas Novel #8) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250140760
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Published: St. Martin's Press - July 31st, 2018

The recent meetings between President Trump and Kim Jong-Un in Singapore centering on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the lifting of sanctions on North Korea almost seem to advertise Ben Coles Bloody Sunday. This work will appeal to aficionados of the spy thriller genre. It is a fast-paced yarn with plenty of violence and some pretty good twists and details. I don’t read a lot of thrillers, but I sure had fun with this one.

Actual current events will most likely remain quite different from this frightening tale in which Kim Jong-Un is not at all a “good negotiator,” “very smart,” or a “talented man who loves his country very much,” as our president recently said, but an insane psychopath bent on hitting the U.S with nuclear weapons to create a formidable legacy, North Korea be damned.

The North Koreans have enriched uranium but no ICBMs. The Iranians have ICBMs and decide to give them to the North Koreans. It is only through the actions, which include the use of a poison on a North Korean general, that CIA agent Dewey Andreas and a SEAL team may be able to stop Kim.Even if it was a bit of a stretch to imagine the good guys getting as far as they did with no losses, I’d still recommend Bloody Sunday to all who enjoy the amusement of a good airport thriller.

Steve Brehm

32nd Avenue Books Toys & Gifts Bookstore

Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501135941
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - July 10th, 2018


It is impossible for me to remember reading a book of this size (592 pages) that was such a binding adventure. It tells the story of the USS Indianapolis as the ship that took the uranium from the U.S. to Tinian Island, where the air force assembled the nuclear weapon that was used on Hiroshima, her torpedoing and sinking on the way back, and the court martial (and exoneration) of her captain, James McVay.

At times, the book reads like the World War II adventure story it is: simple, passionate, horrific. But at other times, because of the incredible amount of detail, it takes on a deeper quality. The many years it took the authors to create this book become evident when the reader grasps the astounding completeness of their work.

The authors are impressively credentialed. Lynn Vincent is a Navy veteran, a best-selling author and a journalist whose investigative work has been cited before Congress and the Supreme Court. Sara Vladic is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, a leading expert on the USS Indianapolis, and has published new research on the ship in Proceedings, the official journal of the U.S. Navy. Together they produced an extremely well-researched work, full of complexity developed largely from primary source material, and which took more than fifteen years to create.

When the Indy was sunk, the men who initially survived were in the Pacific Ocean and subject to frequent shark attacks. For four days and five nights they struggled with little food and water and insufficient life rafts. Some went insane from drinking sea water. Some fought each other.Their lives became an unmentionable hell. And when they were eventually discovered, it was by accident. Of 1,195 crewmen on board, approximately 300 died when the ship went down. Of those remaining only 316 eventually survived.

They had sailed without an escort and none was entrusted with following them. Admirals and other officers displayed a greater lack of diligence to duty than did Captain McVay, yet he was court martialed, a unique occurrence for a skipper.

Compared to the number of people who know that Japan was attacked with atomic weapons, few are aware of the story of the Indianapolis and her captain. For this, the Navy must take responsibility. The Navy prevented release of information about the sinking until news that the war had ended was released, even though reporters would have been able to report the loss. Simply put, the Navy wanted this horribly tragic story to be buried in the glee of ending the war, and it also failed to assign responsibility to those who may have prevented the tragedy of so much horrific loss of life. 

Bill Toti, commander of the U. S. submarine Indianapolis became an advocate of redefining the historical record regarding Mcvay, and his role is described along with the actions of an eleven year old boy named Hunter Scott. Hunter made a school history project from the story of the Indiannapolis, and he became a major player in McVay’s exoneration.

The authors included chapters describing what it meant to them to create this work-their challenges, experiences, events and memories of the survivors whom they grew to know.

This is a story that needs to be told because it is an important one whose telling somehow never really occurred. It is no less a part of history because it was delayed. It is no sideshow. This story is one of the America from which our America grew and it is one whose players and whose details must never be forgotten.Clearly, this book receives a strong recommendation for those who appreciate thorough and well-written history.

Steve Brehm

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