A Prayer Journal

A Prayer Journal

“I would like to write a beautiful prayer,” writes the young Flannery O’Connor in this deeply spiritual journal, recently discovered among her papers in Georgia. “There is a whole sensible world around me that I should be able to turn to Your praise.” Written between 1946 and 1947 while O’Connor was a student far from home at the University of Iowa, A Prayer Journal is a rare portal into the interior life of the great writer. Not only does it map O’Connor’s singular relationship with the divine, but it shows how entwined her literary desire was with her yearning for God. “I must write down that I am to be an artist. Not in the sense of aesthetic frippery but in the sense of aesthetic craftsmanship; otherwise I will feel my loneliness continually . . . I do not want to be lonely all my life but people only make us lonelier by reminding us of God. Dear God please help me to be an artist, please let it lead to You.”

O’Connor could not be more plain about her literary ambition: “Please help me dear God to be a good writer and to get something else accepted,” she writes. Yet she struggles with any trace of self-regard: “Don’t let me ever think, dear God, that I was anything but the instrument for Your story.”

As W. A. Sessions, who knew O’Connor, writes in his introduction, it was no coincidence that she began writing the stories that would become her first novel, Wise Blood, during the years when she wrote these singularly imaginative Christian meditations. Including a facsimile of the entire journal in O’Connor’s own hand, A Prayer Journal is the record of a brilliant young woman’s coming-of-age, a cry from the heart for love, grace, and art.

Travel and Trade in the Middle Ages

Travel and Trade in the Middle Ages

Transportation and trade in the Middle Ages were more developed and varied than is commonly thought. This book examines why medieval Europeans traveled— from making pilgrimages to engaging in international trade— and surveys in detail how they traveled, both by land and water. Travel and trade were inextricably linked to transportation, and over time an infrastructure of roads, bridges, and accommodations grew across Europe, enabling people and goods to move around the continent and beyond. Also explored are the hardships faced by medieval travelers, including storms at sea, avalanches in the Alps, the presence of pirates and robbers, and the fundamental problems of finding a meal and shelter.

Art as Therapy

Art as TherapyThe authors describe a new way of looking at familiar masterpieces, suggesting that the works of art can be useful, relevant–and even therapeutic.

What is art’s purpose? In this engaging, lively, and controversial new book, bestselling philosopher Alain de Botton and art historian John Armstrong propose a new way of looking at familiar masterpieces, suggesting that they can be useful, relevant, and – above all else – therapeutic for their viewers. De Botton argues that certain great works offer clues on managing the tensions and confusions of everyday life. Chapters on Love, Nature, Money, and Politics outline how art can help with these common difficulties – for example, Vermeer’s Girl Reading a Letter helps us focus on what we want to be loved for; Serra’s Fernando Pessoa reminds us of the importance of dignity in suffering; and Manet’s Bunch of Asparagus teaches us how to preserve and value our long-term partners. Art as Therapy offers an unconventional perspective, demonstrating how art can guide us, console us, and help us better understand ourselves. (Amazon.com)

Spies, Patriots, and Traitors : American Intelligence in the Revolutionary War

Spies Patriots and Traitors

Students and enthusiasts of American history are familiar with the Revolutionary War spies Nathan Hale and Benedict Arnold, but few studies have closely examined the wider intelligence efforts that enabled the colonies to gain their independence. Spies, Patriots, and Traitors provides readers with a fascinating, well-documented, and highly readable account of American intelligence activities during the era of the Revolutionary War, from 1765 to 1783, while describing the intelligence sources and methods used and how our Founding Fathers learned and practiced their intelligence role.

The author, a retired CIA officer, provides insights into these events from an intelligence professional’s perspective, highlighting the tradecraft of intelligence collection, counterintelligence, and covert actions and relating how many of the principles of the era’s intelligence practice are still relevant today. Daigler reveals the intelligence activities of famous personalities such as Samuel Adams, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Nathan Hale, John Jay, and Benedict Arnold, as well as many less well-known figures. He examines the important role of intelligence in key theaters of military operations, such as Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and in General Nathanael Greene’s campaign in South Carolina; the role of African Americans in the era’s intelligence activities; undertakings of networks such as the Culper Ring; and intelligence efforts and paramilitary actions conducted abroad.

Spies, Patriots, and Traitors adds a new dimension to our understanding of the American Revolution. The book’s scrutiny of the tradecraft and management of Revolutionary War intelligence activities will be of interest to students, scholars, intelligence professionals, and anyone who wants to learn more about this fascinating era of American history.

Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (And How To Teach It To Everyone)

Building a Better Teacher
Everyone agrees that a great teacher can have an enormous impact. Yet we still don’t know what, precisely, makes a teacher great. Is it a matter of natural-born charisma? Or does exceptional teaching require something more?Building a Better Teacher introduces a new generation of educators exploring the intricate science underlying their art. A former principal studies the country’s star teachers and discovers a set of common techniques that help children pay attention. Two math teachers videotape a year of lessons and develop an approach that has nine-year-olds writing sophisticated mathematical proofs. A former high school teacher works with a top English instructor to pinpoint the key interactions a teacher must foster to initiate a rich classroom discussion. Through their stories, and the hilarious and heartbreaking theater that unfolds in the classroom every day, Elizabeth Green takes us on a journey into the heart of a profession that impacts every child in America.What happens in the classroom of a great teacher? Opening with a moment-by-moment portrait of an everyday math lesson—a drama of urgent decisions and artful maneuvers—Building a Better Teacher demonstrates the unexpected complexity of teaching. Green focuses on the questions that really matter: How do we prepare teachers and what should they know before they enter the classroom? How does one get young minds to reason, conjecture, prove, and understand? What are the keys to good discipline? Incorporating new research from cognitive psychologists and education specialists as well as intrepid classroom entrepreneurs, Green provides a new way for parents to judge what their children need in the classroom and considers how to scale good ideas. Ultimately, Green discovers that good teaching is a skill. A skill that can be taught.A provocative and hopeful book, Building a Better Teacher shows that legendary teachers are more than inspiring; they are perhaps the greatest craftspeople of all.

The Art of Controversy: Political Cartoons and Their Enduring Power

Art of controversy
A lavishly illustrated, witty, and original look at the awesome power of the political cartoon throughout history to enrage, provoke, and amuse.

As a former editor of The New York Times Magazine and the longtime editor of The Nation, Victor S. Navasky knows just how transformative—and incendiary—cartoons can be. Here Navasky guides readers through some of the greatest cartoons ever created, including those by George Grosz, David Levine, Herblock, Honoré Daumier, and Ralph Steadman. He recounts how cartoonists and caricaturists have been censored, threatened, incarcerated, and even murdered for their art, and asks what makes this art form, too often dismissed as trivial, so uniquely poised to affect our minds and our hearts.

Drawing on his own encounters with would-be censors, interviews with cartoonists, and historical archives from cartoon museums across the globe, Navasky examines the political cartoon as both art and polemic over the centuries. We see afresh images most celebrated for their artistic merit (Picasso’s Guernica, Goya’s “Duendecitos”), images that provoked outrage (the 2008 Barry Blitt New Yorker cover, which depicted the Obamas as a Muslim and a Black Power militant fist-bumping in the Oval Office), and those that have dictated public discourse (Herblock’s defining portraits of McCarthyism, the Nazi periodical Der Stürmer’s anti-Semitic caricatures). Navasky ties together these and other superlative genre examples to reveal how political cartoons have been not only capturing the zeitgeist throughout history but shaping it as well—and how the most powerful cartoons retain the ability to shock, gall, and inspire long after their creation.

Here Victor S. Navasky brilliantly illuminates the true power of one of our most enduringly vital forms of artistic expression.

Eating to Excess: The Meaning of Gluttony and the Fat Body in the Ancient World

Eating to Excess Hill (religion, U. of Northern Iowa) explores the historical roots of the symbolic relationship between fatness, gluttony, and immorality, beginning with biblical times and ending with Pope Gregory the Great’s articulation of the seven deadly sins in the sixth century CE. Examining ancient meanings of fat bodies and gluttons provides insight into how Western culture has constructed ideas about self-control and moderation, how fat bodies and gluttons are distinguished and defined, and how bodily behavior both shapes and reflects gendered assumptions about the body. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

A Thousand times More Fair: What Shakespeare’s Play Teach Us About Justice

A A Thousand Times More Fair addresses fundamental questions we ask about our world today: Why is the rule of law better than revenge? How much mercy should we show a wrongdoer? What does it mean to “prove” guilt or innocence? As Yoshino argues, a searching examination of Shakespeare’s plays and the many advocates, judges, criminals, and vigilantes who populate them can elucidate some of the most troubling issues in contemporary life.

With a great ear for Shakespeare and an eye trained steadily on current affairs, Yoshino considers how competing models of judging presented in Measure for Measure resurfaced around the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor; how the revenge cycle of Titus Andronicus illuminates the “war on terror” and our military engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq; how the white handkerchief in Othello and the black glove in the O.J. Simpson trial reflect forms of proof that overwhelm all other evidence; and how the spectacle of an omnipotent ruler voluntarily surrendering power in The Tempest, as Cincinnatus did before him and George Washington did after him, informs regime change in our own time.

Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire

Genghis Khan

Excellent reading for those interested in a concise, rich text, with contributions from archeology to biological anthropology and dendrochronology. Presented in five parts beginning with the historical conditions of the inner Asian steppe prior to the rise of Genghis Khan, continuing with Genghis’ times, the Mongolian western states and Yuan China, and concluding with Genghis’ legacy from the decline of the Yuan dynasty to the present day. Findings from excavations in Khara Khorum include proof of the north-south Boulevard and extensive evidence of handicraft production and metalwork. The book’s clear prose, beautiful design, and wide-ranging illustrations will fascinate general readers as well as scholars.

Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems

Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems

From the two-term Poet Laureate of the United States Billy Collins comes his first compilation of new and selected poems in twelve years. Aimless Love combines more than fifty new poems with selections from four previous books—Nine Horses, The Trouble with Poetry, Ballistics, and Horoscopes for the Dead. Collins’s unmistakable voice, which brings together plain speech with imaginative surprise, is clearly heard on every page, reminding us how he has managed to enrich the tapestry of contemporary poetry and greatly expand its audience. His work is featured in top literary magazines such as The New Yorker, Poetry, and The Atlantic, and he sells out reading venues all across the country. Appearing regularly in The Best American Poetry series, his poems appeal to readers and live audiences far and wide and have been translated into more than a dozen languages. By turns playful, ironic, and serious, Collins’s poetry captures the nuances of everyday life while leading the reader into zones of inspired wonder. In the poet’s own words, he hopes that his poems “begin in Kansas and end in Oz.” Touching on the themes of love, loss, joy, and poetry itself, these poems showcase the best work of this “poet of plenitude, irony, and Augustan grace” (The New Yorker).

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