Beth Duris

As author and journalist Shana Alexander notes at the start of this lively and well-researched tribute, elephants have fascinated mankind for centuries. Writers from Aristotle to Cicero to Chaucer to Donne have stopped to scratch their heads and nibble their quills on the subject of these great beasts. Alexander's own obsession began in the Portland Zoo in the early 1960s. A determined Life reporter, she made four sudden flights from New York to Portland awaiting the arrival of 225-pound Packy, the first elephant born in America since prehistoric times. Playing midwife to an elephant proved fascinating, and she was hooked. Today, Packy is likely the world's largest Asian elephant, and Alexander is a self-described informed amateur, a word rooted in lover. Doubtless she is not alone in her enthusiasm. Sadly, however, human fascination has not always been a good thing for the elephants. For many years, Alexander argues, elephant abuse at the hands of circus masters was commonplace. Most striking is her account of the systematic execution of dozens of male circus elephants, which were shot, poisoned, stabbed, and even hanged between 1880 and 1925. The killings came in response to periodic hormonal changes, which render bulls extremely violent. The females were given male names, and audiences were none the wiser. In recent years, pioneering scientists have turned their attention to better understanding and protecting these unusual creatures. Alexander presents a litany of intriguing elephant facts and figures: These enormous animals (mature African males sometimes weigh more than 15,000 pounds) are highly intelligent, never clumsy, and unique in their gentleness, tenderness, and affection with one another. Today, scientists are turning to artificial insemination to save both the African and Asian species, which have been decimated by ivory poaching and habitat destruction.

Alexander gives readers a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes at the National Zoo in Washington, D.

C., as Shanthi, a 23-year-old Asian elephant, is artificially inseminated. Unique experiences like this one distinguish the book, but it is the fascinating nature of elephants themselves that will keep readers turning the pages.

Beth Duris works for The Nature Conservancy in Arlington, Virginia.

As author and journalist Shana Alexander notes at the start of this lively and well-researched tribute, elephants have fascinated mankind for centuries. Writers from Aristotle to Cicero to Chaucer to Donne have stopped to scratch their heads and nibble their quills on the subject of these great beasts. Alexander's own obsession began in the Portland […]

Three decades after his first book was published in England, James Herriot's charming tales of life as a country vet in Yorkshire continue to delight readers. His nine original books have inspired television shows, children's books, and special collections. All told, his works have sold more than 60 million copies and been translated into 20 languages. As his son observes in this heartfelt, affectionate memoir, Herriot wrote with such warmth, humour, and sincerity that he was regarded as a friend by all who read him. Wight assures readers that his father was every bit the gentleman they thought him to be, a self-described run of the mill vet who remained completely modest, even during the height of his success. The author recalls one evening when he and his father were having drinks with two farming friends. Although Herriot had been to Buckingham Palace the day before, he never once mentioned his audience with the queen.

James Herriot was a pseudonym used by James Alfred Wight, who graduated from Glasgow Veterinary College in 1939 and soon began his practice in the farming town of Thirsk (better known to readers as Darrowby). He would remain there for some 50 years, immortalizing a bygone era of veterinary medicine that he described as harder, but more fun. First as a small but very proud assistant, and later as a colleague in his father's practice, Wight met many of the characters evoked so beautifully in Herriot's books. Wight describes these real-life personalities fondly, with a flair that recalls his father's remarkable storytelling abilities. Readers will delight in Wight's portrayal of the mercurial, charming, impossible Donald Sinclair, aka Siegfried Farnon, whose advice to him included such aphorisms as Paint a black picture! If you say a case is going to recover, you could be in trouble if it doesn't. As research for this memoir, Wight reread all his father's books, looking for writing tips. Instead, he found himself being drawn into the stories. I always end up in the same state the book on the floor and my head back, crying with laughter, he says. What better tribute could his father have asked for? Beth Duris works for the Nature Conservancy in Arlington, Virginia.

Three decades after his first book was published in England, James Herriot's charming tales of life as a country vet in Yorkshire continue to delight readers. His nine original books have inspired television shows, children's books, and special collections. All told, his works have sold more than 60 million copies and been translated into 20 […]

Three decades after his first book was published in England, James Herriot's charming tales of life as a country vet in Yorkshire continue to delight readers. His nine original books have inspired television shows, children's books, and special collections. All told, his works have sold more than 60 million copies and been translated into 20 languages. As his son observes in this heartfelt, affectionate memoir, Herriot wrote with such warmth, humour, and sincerity that he was regarded as a friend by all who read him. Wight assures readers that his father was every bit the gentleman they thought him to be, a self-described run of the mill vet who remained completely modest, even during the height of his success. The author recalls one evening when he and his father were having drinks with two farming friends. Although Herriot had been to Buckingham Palace the day before, he never once mentioned his audience with the queen.

James Herriot was a pseudonym used by James Alfred Wight, who graduated from Glasgow Veterinary College in 1939 and soon began his practice in the farming town of Thirsk (better known to readers as Darrowby). He would remain there for some 50 years, immortalizing a bygone era of veterinary medicine that he described as harder, but more fun. First as a small but very proud assistant, and later as a colleague in his father's practice, Wight met many of the characters evoked so beautifully in Herriot's books. Wight describes these real-life personalities fondly, with a flair that recalls his father's remarkable storytelling abilities. Readers will delight in Wight's portrayal of the mercurial, charming, impossible Donald Sinclair, aka Siegfried Farnon, whose advice to him included such aphorisms as Paint a black picture! If you say a case is going to recover, you could be in trouble if it doesn't. As research for this memoir, Wight reread all his father's books, looking for writing tips. Instead, he found himself being drawn into the stories. I always end up in the same state the book on the floor and my head back, crying with laughter, he says. What better tribute could his father have asked for? Beth Duris works for the Nature Conservancy in Arlington, Virginia.

Three decades after his first book was published in England, James Herriot's charming tales of life as a country vet in Yorkshire continue to delight readers. His nine original books have inspired television shows, children's books, and special collections. All told, his works have sold more than 60 million copies and been translated into 20 […]

James Dodson, best-selling author of Final Rounds: A Father, a Son, the Golf Journey of a Lifetime, takes to the road once again in his delightful new book, Faithful Travelers. This time, he invites readers along on a fly-fishing pilgrimage with his precocious 7-year-old daughter Maggie and aging retriever Amos, a search for “big trout and big answers” in waters from Vermont to Michigan to Wyoming. From the start of this warm, witty, and insightful book, it is obvious that Faithful Travelers is much more than an entertaining travelogue. At heart, it is a meditation on fatherhood and family life today, set against the Snake, San Juan, and other well-known fly-fishing rivers.

Facing an imminent divorce from his wife of ten years, Dodson sets out to make sense of the changing landscape of his life “a Wild West of unexpected dangers and ambushing emotions” for both himself and Maggie. The book's most moving moments come as father and daughter struggle to deal with the grief, anger, and confusion caused by the break-up. “You swore to me that you and Mommy would never get a divorce,” cries his anguished daughter in one heartbreaking scene. “Don't you remember that?” Dodson writes with engaging candor, and readers will empathize with him as he wistfully watches his daughter examine his wedding ring, fields questions about whether he plans to marry again, and grapples with the emotional scars of promises broken.

For all that, there is plenty of humor here. Dodson clearly enjoys his daughter's company, and his portrayal of her adventures is both amusing and endearing. The indomitable Maggie writes letters to both Pocahontas and the President, hangs out with Hell's Angels, and manages to stay comfortably ahead of her father in the Beatle Challenge, their made-up game of Fab Four music trivia.

The pair encounter many colorful characters in their wanderings, and Dodson's ear for dialogue and eye for detail help bring them alive. He also introduces us to interesting people from his own past, including Saint Cecil, a bullnecked, white-haired “lefty preacher” who taught him to fly-cast by reciting Frost's “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Near the end of their journey, Dodson writes a long, heartfelt letter to his daughter containing the best wisdom he has to offer on life, love, and families. “Being with you like this has helped me laugh and figure out a few things,” Dodson writes. “That's what families do, you know help each other laugh and figure out problems that sometimes seem to have no answer.” Readers will be glad that Dodson has allowed them to join his family on this remarkable trip.

Reviewed by Beth Duris.

James Dodson, best-selling author of Final Rounds: A Father, a Son, the Golf Journey of a Lifetime, takes to the road once again in his delightful new book, Faithful Travelers. This time, he invites readers along on a fly-fishing pilgrimage with his precocious 7-year-old daughter Maggie and aging retriever Amos, a search for “big trout […]

Readers will remember Socrates Fortlow, the hero of Walter Mosley's riveting new book Walkin' the Dog, from the author's acclaimed short story collection Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned. Although he has been out of prison for nine years at the start of Mosley's new book, the ex-convict-murderer turned boxboy is still a man dominated by his violent past. Socrates lives on the margins of society, in two abandoned rooms in a Watts alley. He cooks on a butane stove and wears leather sandals rescued out of a trash can. He is constantly aware of his own capacity for anger and violence, unable to shake the fists out of his hands. Yet, like the philosopher whose name he shares, Socrates is a wise and thoughtful man, and he has made many friends since leaving prison. He has become a surrogate father to a young boy named Darryl, helping to keep him in school and out of trouble. His boss at the Bounty Supermarket wants to promote him to produce manager. He has a girlfriend and even a pet, a friendly, two-legged dog named Killer. Slowly but surely, Socrates is working his way toward a more mainstream life.

In the process, however, he must confront both his own beliefs about himself and society's expectations of him. His struggles provide a forum for Mosley to explore complex racial issues and examine the effects of prejudice and inequality in our society. Over the course of the book, which falls somewhere between a novel and a collection of thematically connected short stories, Socrates comes to define himself and to win a figurative freedom that matches his literal one. It's not what would you do for men like us. It's what will you do, Socrates tells a fellow ex-convict. We got to see past being guilty what's done is done. You still responsible, you cain't never make it up, but you got to try. Through realistic dialogue and excellent use of detail, Mosley animates the burly ex-con, as well as fascinating supporting characters like Lavant Hall, a soprano-voiced rebel with a pencil-thin mustache and a fondness for perfume. Readers will leave this provocative book hoping that Socrates Fortlow is still out there somewhere, teaching us all what it means to be a free and responsible man. ¦ Beth Duris works for the Nature Conservancy in Arlington, Virginia.

Readers will remember Socrates Fortlow, the hero of Walter Mosley's riveting new book Walkin' the Dog, from the author's acclaimed short story collection Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned. Although he has been out of prison for nine years at the start of Mosley's new book, the ex-convict-murderer turned boxboy is still a man dominated by his […]

Philip Tate is one of the lucky ones. At 45, he has everything good looks, a devoted family, a distinguished medical career. But something is wrong. Something has prompted him to return to the most secret, thrilling act of his adolescence housebreaking. He has no intention of stealing anything. He doesn't want to hurt anyone. So why would he do it? Why would he risk everything to commit a truly irrational act? Herein lies the heart of John L'Heureux's wry, witty, and engaging new novel.

The story begins with a cozy but dreadful dinner party to celebrate Philip's appointment as the new Chair of Psychology at the prestigious university medical school where he works. Looking around the room at his handsome, affluent friends, Philip is struck with the overwhelming urge to escape his straitjacket life and run away screaming.

The moment passes, but not for long. Later that night, after Philip's smart and beautiful wife Maggie has once again passed out from too much alcohol and too many pills, he slips out of bed and goes for a drive. He ends up at the home of Hal Kizer, a new psychiatrist at the medical school, and his beautiful young wife Dixie. With his heart pounding, Philip finds the key, turns the lock, and steps inside.

It is a foolish risk, and Dixie catches him. However, she is bitterly unhappy in her own marriage, and the unexpected encounter leads Philip to a one-night fling, not criminal prosecution.

Wracked by guilt, he eventually confesses his infidelity to Maggie. Her addictions worsen, and begin to attract the attention of the couple's two beautiful and intelligent children, Cole and Emma. Yet, as the family gets closer, Philip and Maggie realize that their perfect children are far more complicated than they had ever imagined.

Through realistic dialogue and careful characterization, L'Heureux brings this troubled family to life. He also provides a colorful cast of supporting characters, including the wife of one of Philip's older colleagues, who serves her husband cold cereal for dinner every night but helps keep Maggie afloat with her warmth and compassion.

Readers will find themselves pulling for the Tates as they struggle to put their lives back together. Having Everything is a fascinating exploration of what happens when having it all isn't nearly enough.

Beth Duris works for The Nature Conservancy in Arlington, Virginia.

Philip Tate is one of the lucky ones. At 45, he has everything good looks, a devoted family, a distinguished medical career. But something is wrong. Something has prompted him to return to the most secret, thrilling act of his adolescence housebreaking. He has no intention of stealing anything. He doesn't want to hurt anyone. […]

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