Foreword Reviews - - Contents - by Matt Suther­land


A VERY FRENCH CHRIST­MAS The Great­est French Hol­i­day Sto­ries of All Time Jean-philippe Blon­del, Do­minique Fabre, New Ves­sel Press Hard­cover $22.95 (140pp), 978-1-939931-50-4

Christ­mas comes but once a year, yet it gets to en­joy ex­trav­a­gant din­ners and gift-giv­ing soirees in splen­did places, so don’t feel too bad for the hol­i­day. Take France, for ex­am­ple, home to many of the finest kitchens and wine cel­lars in the world. What hol­i­day wouldn’t love to visit France? The English-speak­ing Fran­cophiles and trav­el­ers among us who like noth­ing more than to suss out the soul of a for­eign place can re­joice in this en­dear­ing col­lec­tion of Christ­mas sto­ries from ten of France’s most es­teemed writ­ers—past and present— skill­fully trans­lated. Think about it this way: the Christ­mas spirit pos­sessed the pens of Guy de Mau­pas­sant, Ana­tole France, Irène Némirovsky, Alphonse Daudet, Ana­tole La Braz, Jean-philippe Blon­del, Do­minique Fabre, Paul Arène, François Cop­pée, and Ana­tole Gus­tave Droz. What’s not to love?

THE VINE­YARD YEARS A Mem­oir with Recipes Su­san Sokol Blosser, West­winds Press Soft­cover $16.99 (286pp), 978-1-5132-6071-6

Se­ri­ous grape nuts know that ev­ery grape va­ri­ety (Chardon­nay, Ries­ling, Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon, Syrah, etc.) has a fa­vorite place to dwell. Grapevines will grow just about any­where, but to make spec­tac­u­lar wine, each va­ri­ety prefers very par­tic­u­lar grow­ing con­di­tions—soil type, hours of sun­light, am­bi­ent tem­per­a­ture, and other fac­tors. Mer­lot and Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon reach their full po­ten­tial in the Bordeaux re­gion of France, for ex­am­ple; Syrah, in the Rhone. In the New World, Napa Val­ley has shown a re­mark­able affin­ity for Caber­net and Chardon­nay, and, of great in­ter­est to Pinot Noir lovers, Ore­gon’s Willamette Val­ley, with its chalky soils and chilly nights, is now thought to ri­val Bur­gundy in grow­ing great Pinot Noir. In fact, even while Ore­gon only ac­counts for 1 per­cent of the wine pro­duced in the US, the state pro­duced a re­mark­able 20 per­cent of the wine that Wine Spec­ta­tor awarded ninety points or higher.

The founder of Sokol Blosser Win­ery, one of Willamette’s first winer­ies, Su­san Sokol Blosser was in­stru­men­tal in help­ing her re­gion at­tain world-class sta­tus for its Pinot Noir. This mem­oir proves that her writ­ing and in­tel­li­gence is at least on par with her wine­mak­ing prow­ess.

DI­A­MONDS FROM THE DUGOUT 115 of Base­ball’s Great­est Hits from Base­ball Le­gends Mark New­man, Blue River Press Hard­cover $24.95 (240pp), 978-1-68157-067-9

To err is hu­man. To err at bat­ting and field­ing balls is the defin­ing fea­ture of Amer­ica’s fa­vorite game. Even the best who play the game are suc­cess­ful at hit­ting a base­ball only three times out of ev­ery ten at­tempts. And be­cause of all that fail­ure, re­tired pro­fes­sional ballplay­ers tend to re­mem­ber most of the sin­gles, dou­bles, triples, and home runs they swat­ted over the course of their long ca­reers. One of base­ball’s top beat writ­ers, Mark New­man posed the very suc­cinct What hit meant the most to you and why? ques­tion to more than one hun­dred leg­endary ballplay­ers, and their an­swers make for mes­mer­iz­ing, of­ten emo­tional read­ing—iconic names like Johnny Bench, Roberto Cle­mente, Carl­ton Fisk, Lou Brock, Pete Rose, Brooks Robin­son, Ken Grif­fey Jr., and Mickey Man­tle. To err is hu­man, even in book pub­lish­ing, but this project knocks it out of the park.

ORIANA FALLACI The Jour­nal­ist, the Agi­ta­tor, the Leg­end Cristina De Ste­fano, Ma­rina Harss, trans­la­tor Other Press Hard­cover $25.95 (288pp), 978-1-59051-786-4

His­tor­i­cally, the mul­ti­fronted bat­tles of the sexes were un­fairly one-sided—men al­most al­ways won. And while progress did and does hap­pen oc­ca­sion­ally, a proudly sex­ist, im­po­lite pres­i­dent has made boor­ish be­hav­ior ac­cept­able again for mil­lions of men. Here’s hop­ing women ev­ery­where push back with ev­ery­thing they got. Here’s hop­ing strong, coura­geous women are cel­e­brated and em­u­lated. Here’s Oriana Fallaci: The Jour­nal­ist, the Agi­ta­tor, the Leg­end, of­fer­ing a near-per­fect ex­am­ple of a woman own­ing her en­vi­ron­ment—from her early teen years in the Ital­ian Re­sis­tance to the first act of her jour­nal­ist ca­reer where she de­vel­oped a full-frontal, abra­sive in­ter­view style cov­er­ing the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try to the world­wide fame she earned in­ter­view­ing Khome­ini, Gaddafi, Indira Gandhi, Kissinger, Ariel Sharon, and so many oth­ers. Not to for­get that she also squeezed in some war re­port­ing, novel writ­ing, and love af­fairs that can only be de­scribed as tor­rid and then heart­break­ing. This is as pow­er­ful a life story as you will ever read.

NORTH Find­ing Place in Alaska Julie Decker, editor, Univer­sity of Washington Press Soft­cover $39.95 (304pp), 978-0-295-74184-0

You don’t need a de­gree in et­y­mol­ogy to know that the word indige­nous can be al­ter­nately pro­nounced dug-in-ness, pro­vid­ing a far bet­ter sense of its mean­ing. And in the Amer­i­cas, no peo­ple are more dug- in than na­tive Alaskans, descen­dants of the orig­i­nal ad­ven­tur­ers who crossed the Ber­ing Strait—per­haps as long as twenty-four thou­sand years ago—and stayed up there rather than head­ing south.

This fas­ci­nat­ing art/an­thro­pol­ogy/history project came about as a win­ning part­ner­ship be­tween An­chor­age Mu­seum and the Univer­sity of Washington Press. Along with a di­verse col­lec­tion of writ­ers, Julie Decker, the mu­seum’s di­rec­tor, con­trib­uted four chap­ters and the in­tro, in which she writes, “This pub­li­ca­tion seeks to place Alaska’s history, cul­tures, land­scapes, and peo­ple into an Amer­i­can art per­spec­tive and an in­ter­na­tional north­ern per­spec­tive.” The art­works de­picted herein pro­ceed to tell a great deal about the in­di­vid­u­als and com­mu­ni­ties from which they orig­i­nated. Alaskan history is any num­ber of beau­ti­ful things.

TRI­UMPH AND DIS­AS­TER Five Historical Minia­tures 978-1-78227-274-8 GE­NIUS AND DIS­COV­ERY Five Historical Minia­tures 978-1-78227-275-5, Ste­fan Zweig, Pushkin Press Hard­cover $16.95 (160pp)

Try as it might, history has a hard time be­ing im­par­tial. In the course of hu­man events, cer­tain mat­ters get el­e­vated above oth­ers for no clear rea­son. The same with historical fig­ures. Some get fame and no­to­ri­ety, while their equally no­table coun­ter­parts find si­lence and ob­scu­rity. Un­less, of course, a dogged his­to­rian takes no­tice and cor­rects the historical record. Vi­enna- born Ste­fan Zweig served that role in Europe be­tween WWI and WWII, writ­ing bril­liant historical minia­tures, beloved at the time, and never out of print since; more than three mil­lion copies have sold. Zweig’s eye for iden­ti­fy­ing worth­while sub­jects to cover was flaw­less; his writ­ing and sto­ry­telling skills, mas­ter­ful—all served in lit­tle twenty- to twenty-five-page bursts of in­sight. Nonfiction es­says now seem all the rage, but Zweig had per­fected the dis­ci­pline nearly one hun­dred years ago.

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