This is a wonderful book with lots of information an the lesser apes as well as the great apes. It is well organized and would make an excellent resouThis is a wonderful book with lots of information an the lesser apes as well as the great apes. It is well organized and would make an excellent resource for anyone interested in primate conservation. ...more
Of course I'm going to pick up a book with an Amur tiger on the cover...
I have not seen the 10 episode Discovery Channel series that goes along with tOf course I'm going to pick up a book with an Amur tiger on the cover...
I have not seen the 10 episode Discovery Channel series that goes along with this book, but let me tell you, the book stands on its own. The most diverse of the vertebrates, mammals include the largest animals on earth (blue whales), animals that fly (bats), and animals that can eat almost any type of food. The author makes sense of this diversity by dividing mammals into easily understandable groups and explaining how evolution has shaped the lives of each of these groups of mammals. Attenborough discusses what makes a mammal a mammal, then goes on to discuss the varying lifestyles of mammalian species.
The text itself is very easy to read. The writing style is engaging and informative, and no previous knowledge of biology or zoology is needed to understand this book. Attenborough caters to a very broad audience, and does not try to confuse the reader with lots of scientific terminology. The Life of Mammals would be very good reading for anyone interested in animals and mammals in general.
From learning about the navigation methods of bats and the special habits of meat eaters to understanding the natural history of water mammals, this book provides a focus which contrasts environments and evolutionary processes, and makes for an important and innovative guide. Heavily illustrated with beautiful photographs, this is a terrific introduction to the wonders of our hairy, milk-producing relatives....more
Got syphilis? Maybe a little touch of gonorrhea? No problem, you're a king!
Having an adulterous affair are you? Well, if you're the king it's o.k., bGot syphilis? Maybe a little touch of gonorrhea? No problem, you're a king!
Having an adulterous affair are you? Well, if you're the king it's o.k., but if you're just the lowly queen, it's grounds for divorce. Or maybe we'll just ship you off to a convent or an asylum.
Whats that you say? Oh, you're just insane - no biggie, you're still of noble birth.
Um, what do you mean you're a commoner!? Well that, we simply cannot abide!
After all, we must draw the line somewhere...
Therein lies the tone of this witty book. At times quite funny, but mostly just sad, this book is what you might call a "National Enquirer" style full-disclosure article about monarchies in Europe. While entertaining to me, I don't believe this book has mass appeal. You really need a strong stomach to finish the book and not throw it across the room.
Three centuries of madness, debauchery, drug addiction, sex and adultery among the kings, queens, lords, ladies, and nobles of Europe are discussed at length. The history between the covers of this book is truly horrific, especially when one considers that it is not a work of fiction! This is a record of inbreeding, serious insanity, mass philandering, spread of STD's, and even Nazi sympathising, the likes of which I hope to never see again!
Now I realize that I am only seeing these things through the narrow lens of my own cultural mores here, but come on! These people were truly sick. And while they were busy with their many psychoses, they were practically ruling the world! It's a wonder anyone survived, royal or otherwise.
Contained within this volume are three thrilling centuries filled to the brim with mass suffering, war, national upheaval and slaughter for the majority of people, while a very privileged minority wallowed in massive excess and madness, for no better reason than a documented history of inbreeding (to preserve the royal lineage, of course) and a fairly savvy sense of self-preservation (and the funds to ensure it). This book certainly presents us with a damning indictment of the divine right of anyone to rule anybody.
In the end however, I must report that Royal Babylon is history lite at it's best. It's gossipy and has a sort of cotton candy consistency. You should not pick it up if you don't have a sense of humor about its subject matter. I cannot recommend it for the serious student of history, but it definitely was an amusing and entertaining, quick summer read....more
In Collusion, novelist and poet Evan Zimroth recounts her days as an adolescent ballet student and her completely inappropriate relationship with herIn Collusion, novelist and poet Evan Zimroth recounts her days as an adolescent ballet student and her completely inappropriate relationship with her ballet master "F.", a famous Russian dancer.
At the age of 12, Evan submitted to the punishing regime of a latter-day Svengali who pushed her into a life of self-denial and physical torture. This demanding and temperamental Russian, a legendary dance master, also took a psychological hold over her, and a disturbing erotic bond was forged between tutor and pupil. Zimroth writes of the punishment meted out to her on a regular basis--"F" would lash her with a cane--and the rewards--slices of blood-stained cheese that he would feed into her mouth--that she would endure without ever losing her poise.
At an early, impressionable age, Evan became intoxicated by ballet, and completely addicted to "F." I was disturbed that she chose "F." over her family and was allowed to become obsessed with her teacher. I was also amazed at the behavior of "F." I found him cowardly and cruel, and it was extremely hard for me to relate to his hold on Evan.
A dancer's life can be as magical as it is painful. In ballet there is always someone who is better than you, someone who gets more attention, more praise, more respect. Dancers who fail to develop will not survive in the face of this disappointment. Evan was the star pupil in "F.'s" class, she was the one he gave all his attention to. She looked forward to physical punishment and saw them as proof of his love for her.
At the end of the book, Zimroth writes that "writing is not catharsis," that she did not pen her memoir to gain any insight or closure. She believes that she will always think of "F." with fondness. I was really shocked by that statement. It made the entire book seem pointless to me. I was aggravated by her lack of hindsight.
That being said, the writing was good and the subject fascinating to me, so I did enjoy it. I can't say that something is bad just because it angered me. If you intend to read this book however, prepare for a compelling but disturbing story. That is all I can say. ...more
I have been drawn to Catherine de Medici's story for some time. After reading Susan Carroll's fictional account of her in her Cheney Sisters books, II have been drawn to Catherine de Medici's story for some time. After reading Susan Carroll's fictional account of her in her Cheney Sisters books, I became even more interested in her. Catherine was a fascinating sixteenth century woman. She was the Italian-born Queen of France, wife of Henri II.
Catherine Maria Romola di Lorenzo de Medici was born in Italy in 1519. She endured a lonely childhood, isolated in convents most of the time, exiled from her rightful place in her own country. Like many women of her time, she became a tool in the diplomacy of her two powerful uncles, who basically sold her off to marry the future king of France.
Catherine de Medici was married to Henri II when she was just 14 years old. She endured the dominance of Henri's mistress, Dian de Poitiers, with patience and grace, for 16 years. She adored her husband, even though he obviously preferred the company of his much older mistress. She was able to maneuver her way through shifting family alliances, and learned self-possession, deception, and strategy. The twists and turns of life at the French court led her to form brilliant political skills which held her in stead for the rest of her life.
Catherine de Medici had 10 children: three became French kings, one became Queen of Spain (as wife of Philip II). Her youngest son was a serious candidate to wed England's Queen Elizabeth.
The sudden death of Henri in 1552 at a jousting event, launched Catherine into three decades as regent and chief advisor to three sons who ruled France in succession. Her sons were weak kings, and she became the power behind the throne for many years. She was the all powerful Queen-Mother, the ruler of France in all but name. During this time, Catherine gained a reputation as the ultimate schemer, a woman without scruples or bounds.
She presided over eight Wars of Religion: civil wars between Protestants fighting for their right to worship freely, and Catholics trying to keep the country from splitting apart. The author discusses Catherine's many diplomatic efforts to resolve the difficulties peacefully. But treacherous behavior among hardcore Huguenots eventually hardened her attitude, culminating in the disastrous Massacre of St Bartholomew of 1572, which killed as many as 30,000 men, women, and children all over France.
Although her hands will be forever stained by the religious wars that sent France into frenzies during her watch, the author contends that Catherine attempted to reach compromise in the religious strife of her adopted country whenever possible.
Poisoner, despot, necromancer -- the dark legend of Catherine de Medici is centuries old. Catherine is widely seen as a talented, scheming and ruthless power-behind-the-throne figure, doing almost anything to promote and protect her children which included two Kings of France. In this biography, the author reclaims the story of this unjustly maligned queen to reveal a skilled ruler battling extraordinary political and personal odds -- from a troubled childhood in Florence to her marriage to Henri, son of King Francis I of France; from her transformation of French culture to her fight to protect her throne and her sons' birthright. This biography is a persuasive rehabilitation of Catherine, not as a nice woman, but as a shrewd leader who did what she had to....more
I have always loved Loretta Lynn, but could never find her autobiography. Finally I discovered a copy at the library where my sister works downtown anI have always loved Loretta Lynn, but could never find her autobiography. Finally I discovered a copy at the library where my sister works downtown and asked her to pick it up for me. I read it quickly, in just a matter of hours, and I love her even more now! Most people know the bare bones of her story, but told through her own unique voice, this book is really a treasure.
Coal Miner's Daughter is a glimpse at the woman hiding behind the personality - the real woman. The book is written in Lynn's own words, and chock-full of southern colloquialisms that make you feel like she's sitting right there with you telling you her story. The writing weaves together the pieces of Loretta Lynn's life into a beautiful and inspiring memoir, giving the reader a look behind the legend to see what made her such a strong ans wise woman. ...more
"I had never planned to become a savanna baboon when I grew up; instead, I had always assumed I would become a mountain gorilla."
- from A Primate's M"I had never planned to become a savanna baboon when I grew up; instead, I had always assumed I would become a mountain gorilla."
- from A Primate's Memoir by Robert M. Sapolsky
A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons, is the story of Robert M. Sapolsky's fieldwork as a young graduate student in Kenya. The goal of Sapolsky's graduate work was to determine the relationship of baboon stress levels to their overall health over a period of years. Sapolsky recounts his time spent anesthetizing the baboons in his troop and documenting the results of their "check-ups", watching the troop in the stifling heat and recording behavior, and enduring the many difficulties that come with life in the bush.
The memoir is not only about the baboons however. During his down time, Sapolsky leaves the relative safety of the game reserves and hitchhikes into dangerous territories for sight-seeing experiences. He manages to describe his travels as "vacations-from-hell," with enthusiasm, impeccable timing, incredible humor, subtly drawing similarities between the baboons and humans for his readers.
Sapolsky certainly is an entertaining storyteller, and much of his memoir is laugh-out-loud funny!. My favorite among his many adventures, was the story of the giant cockroaches and army ants invading his tent. Can you say, "BLECH!!!"?
Although there was nothing there that I really didn't know before picking the book up, it is definitely full of good information on primates and primatology. It's obvious from this well-written book that Robert M. Sapolsky loves him some baboons! The baboons in "his" troop all become quite like his family by the end of the study.
The combination of the story of the baboons - each with it's own very distinct personality - and Sapolsky's own story, is a worthwhile and entertaining read. A Primate's Memoir is amusing and full of gritty adventure, while also being a serious scientific study of the savanna baboons of Kenya. The story is captivating and a pure joy to read....more
Jennifer O'Connell edits Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned From Judy Blume, a book of captivating essays on the impact of iconiJennifer O'Connell edits Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned From Judy Blume, a book of captivating essays on the impact of iconic coming-of-age girl-lit author Judy Blume, written by contemporary female authors.
Judy Blume is one of the best known and most beloved authors of our time. Not only has she written countless books for children/pre-teens/teens, but she also has penned some wonderful adult novels as well. Her characters are lovable, and her story lines incredibly easy to relate to. Over the last forty years, millions of readers of all ages have been charmed by books like Deenie, Blubber, and Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret."
This collection of 24 intriguing essays highlight the kind of "Judy Blume moments" we all had growing up as girls in America. The intensely personal essays offer the reader an insight into the immeasurable influence that Judy Blume has had on the American girl.
As an enormous Judy Blume fan (I even named a cat Judy Blume 19 years ago,) I really enjoyed this collection. It was a true nostalgic treat, taking me back to those fun (and sometimes painful) days of young adulthood. In reading the essays of some of my favorite authors, I was alternately laughing-out-loud and cringing at some of the recollections. It was so much fun to read, that I feel the need to revisit my Judy Blume favorites in the near future. ...more