Gruesome Spectacles

Gruesome Spectacles

Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America’s Death Penalty
by Austin Sarat

HV 8699 .U5 S268 2014

“In America, when the state seeks to execute people judged guilty of heinous crimes, the condemned must be put to death humanely, with as little pain as possible. As the Supreme Court has decreed, when the state kills, its executions should involve no more than “the mere extinguishment of life.” So what happens when executions go wrong?

Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America’s Death Penalty uncovers the history of botched, mismanaged, and painful executions that took place in America from 1890-2010. During this time, an estimated three percent of all American executions were botched in one way or another. Austin Sarat, author and renowned expert on the death penalty, recounts the stories of some of the men and women whose executions were marked by technological failure – stories obscured by history and to some extent by the popular press.

Chronicling the American desire to harness technical efficiency in the service of capital punishment, Sarat narrates our continued effort to “perfect” state killing in the twentieth century as the country debated the advantages of hanging, electrocution, the gas chamber, and lethal injection. He shows how executions have gone dreadfully wrong as we moved from one method of death to another.

This powerful book demonstrates the ways botched executions have propelled changes from one method of execution to another but also reveals why these terrible moments have not played a large role in the campaign to end capital punishment itself.”
– publisher description

Animal Wise

Animal Wise

Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures by Virginia Morell

QL 785 .M655 2013

“Did you know that ants teach, earthworms make decisions, rats love to be tickled, and chimps grieve? Did you know that some dogs have thousand-word vocabularies and that birds practice songs in their sleep? That crows improvise tools, blue jays plan ahead, and moths remember living as caterpillars?

Animal Wise takes us on a dazzling odyssey into the inner world of animals, from ants, elephants, and wolves to sharp-shooting archerfish and pods of dolphins that rumble like rival street gangs. With thirty years of experience covering the sciences, Morell uses her formidable gifts as a storyteller to transport us to field sites and laboratories around the world, introducing us to pioneering animal-cognition researchers and their surprisingly intelligent and sensitive subjects. She explores how this rapidly evolving, controversial field has only recently overturned old notions about why animals behave as they do. She probes the moral and ethical dilemmas of recognizing that even “lesser animals” have cognitive abilities such as memory, feelings, and self-awareness – traits that many in the twentieth century felt were unique to human beings.

By standing behaviorism on its head, Morell brings the world of nature brilliantly alive in a nuanced, deeply felt appreciation of the human-animal bond, and shares her admiration for the men and women who have simultaneously chipped away at what we think makes us distinctive while offering a glimpse of where our own abilities come from.”
– publisher description

No Place to Hide

No Place to Hide

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State
by Glenn Greenwald

JF 1525 .W45 G74 2014

“In May 2013, Glenn Greenwald set out for Hong Kong to meet an anonymous source who claimed to have astonishing evidence of pervasive government spying and insisted on communicating only through heavily encrypted channels. That source turned out to be the twenty-nine-year-old NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and his revelations about the agency’s widespread, systemic overreach proved to be some of the most explosive and consequential news in recent history, triggering a fierce debate over national security and information privacy. As the arguments rage on and the government considers proposals for reform, it is clear that we have yet to see the full impact of Snowden’s disclosures.

Now, for the first time, Greenwald puts all the pieces together, recounting his high-intensity ten-day trip to Hong Kong, examining the broader implications of the surveillance detailed in his reporting for The Guardian, and revealing fresh information on the NSA’s unprecedented abuse of power with never-before-seen documents entrusted to him by Snowden himself.

Going beyond NSA specifics, Greenwald also takes on the establishment media, excoriating their habitual avoidance of adversarial reporting on the government and their failure to serve the interests of the people. Finally, he asks what it means both for individuals and for a nation’s political health when a government pries so invasively into the private lives of its citizens – and considers what safeguards and forms of oversight are necessary to protect democracy in the digital age. Coming at a landmark moment in American history, No Place to Hide is a fearless, incisive, and essential contribution to our understanding of the US surveillance state.”
– publisher description

In Meat We Trust

In Meat We Trust

In Meat We Trust: An Unexpected History of Carnivore America by Maureen Ogle

TX 371 .O39 2013

“The moment European settlers arrived in North America, they began transforming the land into a meat-eater’s paradise. Long before revolution turned colonies into nation, Americans were eating meat on a scale the Old World could neither imagine nor provide: an average European was lucky to see meat once a week, while even a poor American man put away about two hundred pounds a year.

Maureen Ogle guides us from that colonial paradise to the urban meat-making factories of the nineteenth century to the hyperefficient packing plants of the late twentieth century. From Swift and Armour to Tyson, Cargill, and ConAgra. From the 1880s cattle bonanza to 1980s feedlots. From agribusiness to today’s “local” meat suppliers and organic countercuisine. Along the way, Ogle explains how Americans’ carnivorous demands shaped urban landscapes, midwestern prairies, and western ranges, and how the American system of meat making became a source of both pride and controversy.” – publisher description

Cowboys and Indies

Cowboys and Indies

Cowboys and Indies: The Epic History of the Record Industry by Gareth Murphy

ML 3790 .M665 2014

Cowboys and Indies is nothing less than the first definitive history of the recording industry on both sides of the Atlantic.

From the invention of the earliest-known sound-recording device in 1850s Paris to the CD crash and digital boom today, author and industry insider Gareth Murphy takes readers on an immensely entertaining and encyclopedic ride through the many cataclysmic musical, cultural, and technological changes that shaped a century and a half of the industry.

This invaluable narrative focuses especially on the game changers – the label founders, talent scouts, and legendary A&R men. Murphy highlights:

  • The pioneer label that spread blues and jazz “race” records across America
  • How one man discovered nearly all the Delta blues legends
  • Sam Phillips’s seminal work with Chess and Sun records
  • John Hammond’s discoveries (Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen)
  • The behind-the-scenes players of the British Invasion
  • Clive Davis, Ahmet Ertegun, David Geffen, and the corporate music machine
  • The Machiavellian moves of punk impresario Malcolm McLaren (the Sex Pistols)
  • Chris Blackwell’s triumphs for Island Records (Bob Marley, U2)
  • The hip-hop explorers behind the Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambaataa
  • And much, much more.

Murphy also offers a provocative look at the future through the ruminations of such vanguard figures as Martin Mills (4AD, XL Recordings, Matador, Rough Trade) and genre-busting producer Rick Rubin (Run-D.M.C., the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, Johnny Cash).

Drawing from memoirs, archives, and more than one hundred exclusive interviews with the legends of the record industry, including the founders and CEOs of Atlantic, Chrysalis, Virgin, A&M, Sub Pop, and Sire, this book reveals the secret history behind the hit-making craft. Remarkable in scope and impressive in depth, Cowboys and Indies chronicles the pioneers who set the stylus on the most important labels and musical discoveries in history.” – publisher description

Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House

Camelot's Court

Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House by Robert Dallek

E 842 .D269 2013

“In his acclaimed biography of JFK, Robert Dallek revealed Kennedy, the man and the leader, as never before. In Camelot’s Court, he takes an insider’s look at the brain trust whose contributions to the successes and failures of Kennedy’s administration were indelible.

Kennedy purposefully assembled a dynamic team of advisers noted for their brilliance and acumen, among them Attorney General Robert Kennedy, his “adviser-in-chief”; Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara; Secretary of State Dean Rusk; National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy; and trusted aides Ted Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger. Yet the very traits these men shared also created sharp divisions. Far from unified, JFK’s administration was an uneasy band of rivals whose personal ambitions and clashing beliefs ignited fiery debates behind closed doors.

With skill and balance, Dallek details the contentious and critical issues of Kennedy’s years in office, including the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, civil rights, and Vietnam. He illuminates a president who believed deeply in surrounding himself with the best and the brightest, yet who often found himself disappointed in their recommendations. The result is a striking portrait of a leader whose wise resistance to pressure and adherence to personal principles, particularly in matters of foreign affairs, offer a cautionary tale for our own time.

Meticulously researched and masterfully written, Camelot’s Court is an intimate tour of a tumultuous White House and a new portrait of the men whose powerful influence shaped the Kennedy legacy.” – publisher description

Michael Jordan: The Life

Michael Jordan The Life

Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby

GV 884 .J67 L39 2014

“The shrug. The shot. The flu game. Michael Jordan is responsible for sublime moments so ingrained in sports history that they have their own names. When most people think of him, they think of his beautiful shots with the game on the line, his body totally in sync with the ball – hitting nothing but net.

But for all his greatness, this scion of a complex family from North Carolina’s Coastal Plain has a darker side: he’s a ruthless competitor and a lover of high stakes. There’s never been a biography that encompassed the dual nature of his character and looked so deeply at Jordan on and off the court – until now.

Basketball journalist Roland Lazenby spent almost thirty years covering Michael Jordan’s career in college and the pros. He witnessed Jordan’s growth from a skinny rookie to the instantly recognizable global ambassador for basketball whose business savvy and success have millions of kids still wanting to be just like Mike. Yet Lazenby also witnessed the Michael Jordan whose drive and appetite are more fearsome and more insatiable than any of his fans could begin to know. Michael Jordan: The Life explores both sides of his personality to reveal the fullest, most compelling story of the man who is Michael Jordan.

Lazenby draws on his personal relationships with Jordan’s coaches; countless interviews with Jordan’s friends, teammates, and family members; and interviews with Jordan himself to provide the first truly definitive study of Michael Jordan: the player, the icon, and the man.” – publisher description