Non-Fiction: The Art of Robert Lougheed, Re-Setting Our Economy, Aboard the Lunatic Express, Voices from the Titanic, and Scientific Experiments for Kidsby Larry Cox on May. 28, 2010, under Uncategorized
Robert Lougheed with text by Don Hedgpeth (University of Oklahoma Press, $65)
Throughout his life, Robert Lougheed was known as a painter’s painter. Even when fully engaged in commissioned work, he never ceased to paint for himself. By not drawing a line between the two, much of his work has a seamless quality. In addition to being the man behind Mobile Oil Company’s legendary flying Pegasus, his paintings graced the covers of a series of Reader’s Digest that remain even after more than half a century both fresh and iconic.
Lougheed, one of this country’s most accomplished artists specializing in images of the American West, was born in Canada in 1910. He began his work as an artist by illustrating Canadian mail-order catalogues but after a visit to the Bell Ranch in New Mexico, he focused more of his time and attention to the American Southwest. He set up a studio in Santa Fe and was eventually inducted into Cowboy Artists of America and was a founding member of the National Academy of Western Art. He died in 1982, leaving behind a rich legacy that has been captured in a magnificent book.
“Robert Lougheed” is a collection of 400 full-color reproductions that capture the talent and vision of this great artist. Freelance author Don Hedgpath’s text underscores why contemporary western art owes such a major debt of gratitude to this quiet, confident man who was dedicated to his art.
This handsome collection reveals the full breadth of Lougheed’s work that includes his early Canadian pencil sketches, his commercial work and, of course, the timeless western oils that helped establish him as a major talent.
The Book of Potentially Catastrophic Science: 50 Experiments For Daring Young Scientists by Sean Connolly (Workman, $13.95)
Sean Connolly, author of 50 books including the “The Book of Totally Irresponsible Science,” presents 50 experiments that demonstrate 44 of the greatest breakthroughs in human history. By following the instructions in this dandy little book, kids can build a simple telescope just like the one Galileo used, launch a soda pop bottle into the air, and construct a nickel-penny battery. Science has never been more fun or accessible. Entertaining and educational, this book is guaranteed to fascinate and occupy the attention of bored kids throughout the country. Each chapter begins with an account of a major breakthrough in science or technology, and ends with an experiment that – despite the book’s title – is safe. Using common household items and/or ingredients and involving no electricity or batteries, this book provides instant fun and wonder for even the most jaded kid.
Quiz It: Arizona 101 Fun Facts About the Grand Canyon State by Felice Prager (Arthur McAllister Publishers, $9.95)
This fun and fact-filled book is filled with amusing and fascinating information about our state. For example, we all know the name of “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” but in what town are the streets Ho and Hum, where was Clark Gable and Carole Lombard married in 1939, and what do Michael Bennett, Jesse Owens, Linda McCartney, and Lee Marvin have in common? The answers are Carefree, Kingman, and all four died in Tucson. In addition to questions and answers, there are quizzes that are certain to challenge even the most knowledgeable about the Grand Canyon State.
Lost Voices from the Titanic: The Definitive Oral History by Nick Barratt (Palgrave Macmillan, $28)
Even after almost a century, the sinking of the Titanic during its maiden voyage in 1912 continues to fascinate. When Nick Barratt, a London-based columnist for the Daily Telegraph, began his research, there was only one surviving passenger, Elizabeth Gladys “Millvina” Dean, who was a mere nine weeks old when the ship sank. In addition to interviewing this last survivor and documenting the impact the event had on her life, he began sifting through letters, newspaper articles, memoirs, and correspondence involving the great ship. What sets this book apart from others that have been published on this subject is that survivors are given the opportunity to tell their personal stories, in their own words, and unedited. The result is heartbreaking in detail and illuminating in its authenticity. Starting with the original conception of the Titanic and its design, Barratt follows the brief history of the vessel, terminating with the boards of inquiry that were staged after the sinking. The author draws from never-before-published archive materials and eyewitness accounts that fully document the ship and why it continues to resonate.
The Lunatic Express: Discovering the World…via Its Most Dangerous Buses, Boats, Trains, and Planes by Carl Hoffman (Broadway Books, $24.99)
Carl Hoffman, a contributing editor at National Geographic Traveler, takes readers along on his dicey adventures to some of the most teeming cities and remotest places on the planet. From Havana to Bogota, we climb aboard Cubana Airways, which has a “fatal event rate” nearly twenty times that of Southwest Airlines, later jump on a bus and bounce our way along washed-out roads from Lima to the Amazon, and eventually shove our way onto a commuter train in Mumbai that is packed with so many passengers, dozens perish daily. This is an account of traveling throughout the world while skirting danger and peril in the company of such colorful characters as vodka-guzzling Russian gangsters, Papuan roughnecks playing homemade ukuleles, and Tobias Schneebaum, a gay New York artist who walked naked into the Amazon and then went to live with the Asmat on the Indonesian half of New Guinea. Be forewarned to hold on tight for this is one of the most exciting literary adventures of the summer.
Life Would be Perfect If I Lived in That House by Meghan Daum (Knopf, $24.95)
All of us have experienced house lust at one time or another. Meghan Daum, a Los Angeles-based writer and frequent contributor to such publications as The New Yorker, Vogue, GQ, and Harper’s Bazaar, came to the conclusion while a student at Vassar that she would major in English and minor in moving. During the next two or three years, she moved ten times, never quite settling down or in. As an adult, her restlessness increased as she moved first from New York City to Lincoln, Nebraska; then from the Midwest to the West Coast, and back. Finding herself in Los Angeles single and her mid-thirties, she fantasized about finding the right house at the right price. As the real estate bubble continued to increase, she finally inked a contract for a 900-square foot bungalow with garage. This highly entertaining book is about the perils and pleasures of believing that only a house can make you whole. Witty, stylish, and at times laugh-out-loud funny, this account of Daum’s relentless obsession to find the perfect house will certainly hit home, especially for those who have ever lusted after a piece of real estate.
Unbillable Hours: A True Story by Ian Graham (Kaplan Publishing, $24.95)
Fresh out of law school, Ian Graham thought he had landed his dream job when he joined Latham & Watkins, a Los Angeles-based law firm considered one of the most prestigious in the country. After discovering that he wasn’t cut out to devote his entire life to pouring over fine print to enrich big corporations, he searched for work that was more meaningful. Little did he realize that when he accepted a small pro bono case involving Mario Rocha, a gifted young Latino who had been wrongly convicted of murder when he was sixteen and sentenced to life without parole, it would trigger a four-year struggle for justice and erupt into one of the most important cases of his career. As Graham worked the case, he gained insight into the non-glamorous side of big law firm life and that the external rewards such as affluence, fame, and power are not as fulfilling as sometimes cracked up to be. This is an important book that graphically underscores the fact that while a single attorney may not be able to transform an entire profession, he can certainly change himself. Inspiring, crisply written, and gripping, this behind-the-scenes account of one man’s pursuit of justice is highly recommended.
The Language of Trust: Selling Ideas in a World of Skeptics by Michael Maslansky with Scott West, Gary DeMoss, and David Saylor (Prentice Hall, $25)
Michael Maslansky, one of corporate America’s leading communications and research strategists, is convinced that people either succeed or fail mainly because of their communication skills. What to say, how to say it, and why it matters are basic factors of success. He adds that having a good story to tell is essential but not enough since after seeing too many promises turn into lies, people have become resistant to many of the old styles of communication. In his new book, Maslansky documents the recent communication blunders that could have been avoided in healthcare reform, AIG’s bonuses, the Clinton vs. Obama presidential campaign, and even South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s public apology. He suggests that communicators need to focus on the emotions over ration or logic, put every fact, message and argument in context, and why turning it down a notch is the best approach to persuasion since it is not persuasion at all. He insists that unless you use the language of trust that recognizes your target audience’s concerns and the baggage they bring to the table, your chances of success will be lessened.
The Great Reset: How New Ways of Living and Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity by Richard Florida (Harper, $26.99)
According to Richard Florida, director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s School of Management and founder of the Creative Class Group, we tend of think of the prolonged downturns, like the Great Depression of the 1930s, in terms of the crisis and pain they cause rather than considering that with every downturn comes opportunities. Not only is a downturn a time to remake our economy and generate new economic growth, it is also z chance to reinvent ourselves. This “reset” can spur a fresh era of growth and prosperity if we follow a few essential principles. For example, Florida suggests we harness the full creative talents of all people including service and industrial workers; upgrade service jobs into better, high-paying jobs that are more innovative; change our educational systems to better mobilize and harness creative talent; build the infrastructure of the future, not patch up that of the past; invest in high-speed rail instead of building more highways; and shift the country from an “ownership society” to a more mobile “rentership society.” Wit, irreverence, and rigorous research and analysis make this one of the more provocative reads of the summer.