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    The Vietnam War began in 1954 after the rise to power of Ho Chi Minh (though conflict had raged in the region for years), and continued against the backdrop of an intense Cold War between two superpowers: the United States and the Soviet Union. All told, more than 3 million people (including 58,000 Americans) were killed in the Vietnam War. And in 1969, at the peak of U.S. involvement in the war, more than 500,000 U.S. military personnel were involved in the conflict. 

    Learn more about what many historians consider to be the most divisive war in U.S. history, from the men and women who were there—purchase by July 22nd and save up to 75% off these classic military memoirs.

    book christmas tree

    The New York Times bestseller which, according to General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, ". . . should be ‘must’ reading for all Americans, especially those who have been led to believe that war is some kind of Nintendo game.” 

    In November 1965, some 450 men of the First Battalion, Seventh Cavalry, under the command of Lt. Col. Harold Moore, were dropped into a small clearing in the Ia Drang Valley. They were immediately surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. Three days later, only two and a half miles away, a sister battalion was brutally slaughtered. Together, these actions at the landing zones X-Ray and Albany constituted one of the most savage and significant battles of the Vietnam War. How these Americans persevered—sacrificing themselves for their comrades and never giving up—creates a vivid portrait of war at its most devastating and inspiring. 


    book christmas tree

    The classic and heartrending account of the Vietnam War as seen through the eyes of an army doctor

    In 1968, as a serviceman in the Vietnam War, Dr. Ronald Glasser was sent to Japan to work at the US Army hospital at Camp Zama. It was the only general army hospital in Japan, and he was soon caught up in the waves of casualties that poured in from every Vietnam front. Thousands of soldiers arrived each month, demanding the help of every physician within reach.

    In 365 Days, Glasser reveals a candid and shocking account of that harrowing experience. He gives voice to seventeen of his patients, wounded men counting down the days until they return home. An instant classic of war literature, 365 Days is a remarkable, ground-level account of Vietnam’s human toll.


    book christmas tree

    In this gripping memoir, a former marine returns to Vietnam to try to make sense of the war. Previously published as Brothers in Arms and the inspiration for China Beach, this edition includes a new preface by the author.

    When William Broyles Jr. was drafted, he was a twenty-four-year-old student at Oxford University in England, hoping to avoid military service. He soon realized that he couldn’t let social class or education give him special privileges. He joined the marines, and soon commanded an infantry platoon in the foothills near Da Nang. More than a decade later, Broyles found himself flooded with emotion during the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. He decided to return to Vietnam and confront what he’d been through and the mystery of why men love war even as they hate it. 



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    Warm breezes, lingering days, a cozy porch: The best things about summer are often the simplest. The season can be the perfect time to reflect and engage in some serious R&R. And what better way to relax than with these reads, which will be sure to nurture your soul? Affordable (starting at just $1.99) and easy (one click and you’re done!), the path to inner peace starts here.

     

    Chicken Soup for the Soul: Life Lessons for Loving the Way You Live

    Life Lessons for Loving the Way You Live


    Is it possible to be happy all the time? For most of us, happiness comes and goes. Life may bring pleasure one day and pain the next. But what if you could love your life no matter the circumstances? It’s possible—and Life Lessons for Loving the Way You Live shows you how.

     

    Chicken Soup for the Soul Daily Inspirations for Women


     Daily Inspirations for WomenChicken Soup hits the daily inspiration market with bite-sized stories to start every day of the year off right.

    What woman doesn’t need a dose of inspiration? These one-page entries are not lessons like those in a typical affirmation book, but complete mini-stories that capture the magic and wonder of Chicken Soup.

    The book features 365 stories, as well as affirmations, quotes, and inspirational messages, that will stay with you throughout the day, as well as prompts to fill in your own daily thoughts.

    The Wisdom of Thoreaufrom Philosophical Library’s Wisdom Series

    Wisdom of Thoreau

    Explore the revelations and discoveries of a leader of the transcendentalist movement who exemplified the simple life.

    In excerpts collected here from his most important works, Henry David Thoreau documents his experiences in nature and the wisdom he finds in his explorations of sound, reading, solitude, and other aspects of leading a simple life at Walden. A fearless individualist, Thoreau explored not only poetic naturalism but also a number of ideas that were groundbreaking for his day, including civil disobedience and environmentalism. This introduction to one of America’s great thinkers shows that as an essayist and poet-philosopher, Thoreau remains a relevant voice in the never-ending quest of man to understand his place in the natural terrain.


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    Though The Doctor’s Wifeis based on stories from my own family and includes many mentions of food, somehow I forgot to write anything about smoked salmon.

    The first time my uncle Eugene visited my grandparent’s house during the early seventies, my grandmother set out a piece of my grandfather’s smoked steelhead to accompany the before-dinner cocktails. A nervous Eugene ate the whole filet, not understanding that it was meant to be passed around the room.

    The family recipe calls for a simple brining and then smoking at a relatively high heat. The resulting fish is sweet and flaky, richly salty, and dry like a good white wine. It’s hard not to eat too much of it.

    I never ate my grandfather’s smoked fish—he was too sick to make it when I was young. My uncle Bob smoked his own salmon, too, salmon he caught in Alaska where he lived. After he died I was afraid I’d never taste its likes again. But a few months ago my aunt Petrea, Eugene’s wife, bought a smoker. Last week when I was on the West Coast, I tried her salmon. I was surprised to find it just as good as Bob’s, and likely as good as my grandfather’s. What I thought was lost forever wasn’t.

    I think food in books enables the writer to get to elemental emotions, the ones that live in the gut. All writing is about a hunger for something.

    Luis Jaramillo (www.luisjaramillo.com) is the author of The Doctor’s Wife, winner of the Dzanc Books Short Story Collection Contest, an Oprah Magazine Book of the Week, and one of NPR’s Best Books of 2012. He is co-editor of The Inquisitive Eater: New School Food. (www.inquisitiveeater.com)


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    Few things are as deeply satisfying as catching up with an old friend. Someone who meant a lot to you at one point in your life; someone who provided comfort and insight; someone you haven’t checked in with in a while. We’re talking, of course, about your favorite classic book. Reconnect with old favorites this summer—here are a few of our own “old friends,” starting at just $1.99.


    The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy


    The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

    The stirring saga of a man’s journey to free his sister—and himself—from a tragic family history.

    Tom Wingo has lost his job, and is on the verge of losing his marriage, when he learns that his twin sister, Savannah, has attempted suicide again. At the behest of Savannah’s psychiatrist, Tom reluctantly leaves his home in South Carolina to travel to New York City and aid in his sister’s therapy. As Tom’s relationship with her psychiatrist deepens, he reveals to her the turbulent history of the Wingo family, and exposes the truth behind the fateful day that changed their lives forever.

    Drawing richly on Pat Conroy’s own troubled upbringing, The Prince of Tides is a sweeping and powerful story of how unlocking the past can be the secret to overcoming the darkest of personal demons.

    The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

    The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

    Dig into Muriel Spark’s timeless classic about a controversial teacher who deeply marks the lives of a select group of students in the years leading up to World War II.

    “Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life!” So asserts Jean Brodie, a magnetic, dubious, and sometimes comic teacher at the conservative Marcia Blaine School for Girls in Edinburgh. Brodie selects six favorite pupils to mold—and she doesn’t stop with just their intellectual lives. She has a plan for them all, including how they will live, whom they will love, and what sacrifices they will make to uphold her ideals. When the girls reach adulthood and begin to find their own destinies, Jean Brodie’s indelible imprint is a gift to some, and a curse to others.

    The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is Spark’s masterpiece, a novel that offers one of twentieth-century English literature’s most iconic and complex characters—a woman at once admirable and sinister, benevolent and conniving.

    Kramer vs. Kramer by Avery Corman

    Kramer vs. Kramer by Avery Corman

    Avery Corman’s powerful classic novel examines the end of a marriage and the bond between a father and child. For Joanna and Ted Kramer, building a life in New York City is tough but full of joy, thanks to their lovely little boy, Billy. Or so it seems, until one day Joanna walks out, unable to manage the burdens of family life and her own unfulfilled ambitions. Alone with Billy, Ted begins to navigate the challenges of single parenthood and forms a bond with his son that no one can break—except the courts. When Joanna suddenly resurfaces and decides she wants Billy back, Ted must fight for the right to hold on to everything he holds most dear.

    Adapted as the landmark film starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep, Kramer vs. Kramer is an unforgettable and heartrending story of love and devotion in the wake of divorce. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Avery Corman, including rare images from the author’s personal collection.


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     “I have a story for you . . . It is a tale of immortals, acted by mortals.”

    So begins Kate Thompson’s Down Among the Gods, the story of two lonely people who meet at an adult education class. Jessie Parker has just turned forty. Between the recent death of her mother and the local library’s burning down, she feels utterly alone and lost. Patrick Robinson, a journalist with artistic tendencies, is also searching for something. With the gods looking down upon them, Jessie and Patrick begin dating. Soon, they find themselves deeply in love, but caught up in the struggles that plague all relationships.

    Told from the perspective of the immortal Hermes, Thompson’s celestial novel is a riff on the modern romance. Both funny and moving, the book reveals the intimate yearnings of those on the hunt for everlasting love—whether on Olympus or right here on Earth.

    Thompson, best known for her young adult fantasy novels, has won the Whitbread/Costa Children’s Book Award and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, and has been awarded the Children’s Books Ireland (CBI) Book of the Year Award four times. She currently lives on the west coast of Ireland.

    Down Among the Gods by Kate Thompson by OpenRoadMedia

     

    Other ebooks now available by Kate Thompson: An Act of Worship

    An Act of Worship: In a small Irish town, an environmental activist and a butcher come together to track down a violent criminal

    Thin Air: Set on a farm on Ireland’s West Coast, this gripping novel revolves around a missing teenager—Thin Airand the shattering effect of her disappearance upon her family and friends

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    V WarsIf vampires were real, could they adapt to our present world? This unearthly idea becomes a bona fide reality in V-Wars, a gripping horror anthology of shared-world stories edited by Bram Stoker Award winner and New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry.

    Global warming has melted the ice caps, causing the release of a millennia-old virus from deep within the glaciers of Antarctica. On a voyage to Alaska, screenwriter/Starbucks barista Michael Fayne becomes patient zero, the first person to contract I1V1—soon known as the “ice virus”—and a worldwide epidemic ensues. In unusual cases, the virus, which contains humanity’s dormant codes, activates the “junk DNA” of its carriers, changing its hosts into beings previously believed to be mythological creatures, such as werewolves or vampires. Not only does the virus forcibly turn its hosts into menacing supernatural beings, each carrier takes on physical and psychological traits based on the myths and folklore associated with his or her ethnic heritage. 

    Maberry’s “Junk,” the first story in the collection, sets the stage for a captivating chronicle of the global takeover by werewolves and vampires—and mankind’s response to the sudden invasion. Moving from the Mexican-American border to the Bronx, from an Indian reservation to Europe, these stories introduce fascinating new perspectives on the aftermath of the ice virus that leads to the V-Wars—an all-out battle between the supernatural beings and the human race.

    Culled from the remarkable imaginations of authors including Nancy Holder, James A. Moore, Yvonne Navarro, and Gregory Frost—as well as Maberry himself—V-Warsshowcases the inventive world-building talent of each writer, woven into a jarring paranormal collection brimming with terror, intrigue, and action. A brilliant patchwork that flows effortlessly between authors, V-Wars is a must-read for all fans of horror fiction.

    To learn more about Jonathan Maberry and his novels, visit his author page here.



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    Coyote

    The following post is taken from Peter Bowen's blog. Peter Bowen is the author of the Yellowstone Kelly novels, historical westerns that take place in the Wild West, and the contemporary Montana Mysteries, which feature Gabriel Du Pre, a cattle investigator and part-time sheriff in small town Montana.

    I just returned from a time on the East Coast, in Boston, and it has taken me a few days to recover from it. Boston is a fine city, thick with culture and loud with wonderful music, but it is also crowded and noisy and most of the streets are paved cowpaths one car wide, down which traffic speeds. It is tangled and hard to navigate for a hick like me and I grew frantic with time, and not much time at that. Life is very fast-paced now, and it still seems impossible to me that I can reach the information I want so easily with the computer and the Internet. Change accelerates daily, it seems. I don’t much like it. I never did. Every extended stay in a city has proved disastrous for me, and that is all that I have to say about that. It is a big world and billions of people seem to like living together in close and intimate proximity but I prefer places I might see a coyote.

    They come through the property I live on, rather regularly, looking for that favorite coyote snack, a nice fat house cat. They eat small dogs as well, and drift back out to their dens. I like coyotes. They are rascals and thieves and engagingly clever. Long ago I saw one robbing a bumblebee nest. The coyote backed up to the nest, waving its tail which the bees attacked, and then the coyote turned slowly, and the bees went on attacking its tail, and the coyote gobbled up the larva and honey and then trotted away, leaving the poor bees utterly robbed. All attempts to exterminate them have failed. Coyotes den in New York’s Central Park. They like suburbs. They adapt very well and very quickly. All very well and good and I salute their strong character and cleverness, and so far as I go, they may eat Boston and everything in it. Me, I do not adapt very well. At all, not to put too fine a point on it. Folks these days make too much a virtue of adaptability, which seems to mean tolerating outrageous invasions of their privacy and lives.

    Out here, in the little town I live in, things move more slowly. I won’t get run over by a bread truck. I can get up and go down with my dog to see what the neighbors, like the coyotes, were up to last night. They use the same paths every night and leave paw prints. But very quietly. I like the coyotes, who are excellent neighbors….

    It is cool and rainy today, and about this time each year the curlews come, and glow rich caramel and yellow in the misting rain….

    Learn more about this cowboy author and his ebooks here, and watch videos of the author in his hometown of Livingstone, Montana.


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    Yesterday marked the birthday of one of the twentieth century’s most controversial literary authors, John Gardner. Gardner produced more than thirty works of fiction and nonfiction, consisting of novels, children’s stories, literary criticism, and a book of poetry. His books, which include the celebrated novels Grendel, The Sunlight Dialogues, andOctober Light, are noted for their complexity and insightful glimpse into human nature.

    John GardnerGardner (pictured at left in the early 1980s) was born in Batavia, New York. His father, a preacher and dairy farmer, and mother, an English teacher, both possessed a love of literature and often recited Shakespeare during his childhood. When he was eleven years old, Gardner was involved in a tractor accident that resulted in the death of his younger brother, Gilbert. He carried the guilt from this accident with him for the rest of his life, and would incorporate this theme into a number of his works, among them the short story “Redemption” (1977).

    Gardner married his first wife, Joan Louise Patterson, in 1953, and earned his master’s and PhD in English from the University of Iowa in 1958. He then entered into a career in academia that would last for the remainder of his life.

    In 1966, Gardner published his first novel, The Resurrection, followed by The Wreckage of Agathonin 1970. However, It wasn’t until the release of Grendel,in 1971, that Gardner’s work began attracting significant attention. Praise for Grendel was universal and the book left Gardner with a devoted following. His reputation as a preeminent figure in modern American literature was confirmed upon the release of his New York Times bestselling novel The Sunlight Dialogues (1972).

    Throughout the 1970s, Gardner completed about two books per year, including October Light (1976), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the controversial On Moral Fiction (1978), a work of literary criticism in which he argued that “true art is by its nature moral” and criticized such contemporaries as John Updike and John Barth.

    In the last years of his life, Gardner became much more interested in politics than in literature, declaring at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 1982 that “if you’re not writing politically, you’re not writing.”

    In 1980, Gardner married his second wife, a former student of his named Liz Rosenberg. The couple divorced in 1982, and that same year he became engaged to Susan Thornton, another former student. One week before they were to be married, Gardner died in a motorcycle crash in Pennsylvania. He was forty-nine years old.

     

     

     


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    beach

    Our latest Yearbook Flashbook features Vietnam War Veteran, Dr. Ronald Glasser, author of 365 Days, Another War, Another Peace and Ward 402.  Dr. Glasser is seen standing outside the US Military Hospital's pediatric clinic at Camp Zama, Japan circa 1969, during a moment of relative calm. 

    Originally sent to serve the children of military personnel, DOD, and government officials, Glasser soon found himself in the thick of things. According to an interview with Vietnam magazine, Glasser notes, "One day on the surgery ward, as I looked around, I had this epiphany. 'My God, the whole war is coming here.' I realized if I were in Vietnam, I'd be with just one unit or at one hospital, whereas at Zama everyone except Marines were coming here, from LRRPs to chopper pilots, Special Forces, infantry, everybody, from everywhere across Vietnam, having the gamut of combat experiences and suffering from every type of wound."
    beach



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  • 07/23/13--06:00: Meet the Cowboy: Jesse James
  • National Day of the Cowboy is coming up this Saturday, July 27, and we're celebrating by taking a special look at some of our favorite cowboys. Today, we're featuring Jesse James, infamous outlaw and  star of Ron Hansen's epic historical adventure, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

    Jesse James

    Name: Jesse James. I was named after my mother’s brother.

    Age: 34 

    Hometown: St Joseph, Missouri

    Occupation: To strangers,I am a cattleman or a commodities investor. To those who know me, I am a train robber and a bank robber, but I never steal from preachers or widowers. I hide my misconduct from my wife and children. It keeps them safer and I worry less at night. My wife knows who I am, though she keeps it from the kids, also.

    Marital status: I have been married to my wife, Zerelda Mimms, who is my first cousin, for seven years. We were engaged for nine years ’cause I went to fight in the Civil War. I had admired Zee’s long blond hair and those eyes that light up a room since we played as children. She cared for me so tenderly through a dark winter’s pneumonia and spooned me vegetables and noodles as I ran a fever so high my teeth never stopped chattering. I never looked at another woman after that.

    Family/children: My papa was Reverend Robert James, who died on a mission to California. It nearly killed me. I used to write letters to Zee about how much I missed him. I felt such a fondness for my father and wept heavily when he died. My stepfather didn’t let me do nothing and I didn’t like him for my dear mother, Zerelda. I have a brother, Frank, and a sister, Susan. My two children, Jesse E. and Mary, give me more pleasure than anything else in the world.

    Religion: Baptist. My father’s King James Bible sits on my bedside table.

    Horses: Stonewall and Red Fox, but many horses have come and gone before them. Every man needs a strong horse.

    Associations you are a member of: The James-Younger gang

    Accomplishments: I am proud of the schemes the gang and I plot. I have personally committed over seventeen murders, and have been involved in over one hundred eighty killings. Newspapers call me the Robin Hood of the Wild West, but in truth, the James-Younger gang uses what it steals for itself and to protect its loved ones.

    When did your interest in crime first start? I followed Frank in joining the Confederate bushwhackers during the Civil War when I was sixteen years old. Union soldiers treated us like animals at a slaughterhouse. After that, Frank let me be in the James-Younger gang with him—took me on my first bank robbery in 1866 when I was nineteen.

    Other than being an outlaw, what activities do you enjoy? I’m a family man. I don’t enjoy moving them around a lot but I gotta keep them safe. When I’m around them, I like to play in the yard with little Jesse and watch my wife braid flowers into Mary’s hair. The gang and I love to go for rides in the mountains and camp in the woods.

    What advice would you give to youths who look up to you as a successful outlaw? Never trust anyone but your family.

    What is the most important thing you have learned from being an outlaw? You can’t lie to Jesse James—I know everyone’s tells. And also that a life of crime can get lonely and people will always have to die.

    What is your favorite type of music? Folklore.

    What was your most memorable robbery? Why, the robbery that put my name on the map! It was 1869 when I robbed the Daviess County Savings Association in Gallatin, Missouri, with Frank. During the war, good-for-nothing lawyer William McDowell hunted down Bloody Bill [Jesse’s close friend and fellow gang member]. I wanted to avenge his death with blood. The two of us walked into the bank. I went up to the teller and asked the sorry fellow if he had change for a hundred. Then I shot him twice. Frank shot McDowell when he saw him running like a frightened rabbit toward the door. We took a folder of bank paper and outran a whole posse. That was the day people started to remember the name Jesse James.

    Who has most influenced your life of crime? Frank plowed the trail for me. He was my conscience and also my friend.

    The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford by Ron Hansen*This is a fictionalized Q&A based on Ron Hansen’s non-fiction novel The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and newspaper articles from the late 19th century

    Learn more about Jesse James in Ron Hansen's critically acclaimed historical novel, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.


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    National Day of the Cowboy is coming up this Saturday, July 27, and we're celebrating by taking a special look at some of our favorite cowboys. Today, we're featuring Peter Bowen's Gabirel Du Pré, a cattle brand inspector/lawman from Montana.

    Cowboys Branding Cattle

    Name: Gabriel Du Pré

    Age: mid- 40s

    Occupation: Cattle brand inspector in Toussaint, Montana, and deputy sheriff when need be.

    Marital status: My wife died. Cancer. My girls were four and nine when she passed.

    Family/children: My gal, Madelaine Placquemines—my woman has brains and she keeps me in line. I have two daughters—Jacqueline and Maria. Jacqueline is older—she started fighting death when my wife died and has given me five grandchildren already. Maria, child of the times I say, has herself a boyfriend. What’s his name? Raymond? [It’s actually Billy.]

    Hometown: Toussaint, Montana, home sweet home.

    Native-American heritage: Métis Indian. Whites, they call us Indian. Indians call us white. Catch shit everywhere. If you don’t know, ancestors are Frenchy and Cree. We’ve been around these parts for ages.

    Religion: I don’t go to church. Benetsee [a native american Indian spiritualist and medicine man, who also happens to be the local drunk] tells me what I need to know. Folks around here ought to use time for other things.

    Horses: I get one when I need one.

    Pets that you own: None, but I see enough cattle ass most days.

    Accomplishments: Some say I am a pretty damn good detective, but I ain’t no detective—just an old cattle brand inspector. I take care of the bad guys around these parts—cattle thieves and murderers, too.

    When did your interest in rodeo first start? When I was real young I used to ride with Catfoot, my father. I did some competitions when I was young, too. Don’t do that anymore, though.

    Other than being a cowboy, what activities do you enjoy? Give me a bottle of whiskey, some rolling tobacco, and a good tune and you’ll get a dance outta me. Madelaine likes it when I play the fiddle so we go down to the bar sometimes and I play something for her.

    What advice would you give to youths who look up to you as a successful cowboy? I got good people ’round me who love me. Don’t let others change your mind. Follow your gut, and you don’t always need to follow the rules.

    What is the most important thing you have learned from being a cowboy? All I can say is that some people are just plain stupid, so I keep my wits about me and know what I want.

    What is your favorite type of music? Bluegrass.

    What was your most memorable ride or run? One night I was on the road with my daughter Maria looking for Lucky and some others [in Specimen Song]. I see them pissing in a ditch and say to Lucky, “I am here! We dance, huh?” The bastard looks at me, still holding his crotch, and says, “Ho, Du Pré. You are a fool.” And right when I see a knife flash, Maria shoots some ten rounds through the trees at them. She scares off the whole lot of ’em and I end up knocking Lucky dead with my slingshot. I was so damn proud of my girl that night.

    Who is your greatest hero of all time? My girls. They take care of me better than I know how to take care of them.

    What Indian, cowboy, or cowgirl has influenced you the most? Benetsee, that old drunk. Boy, he is always trying to tell me something. Knows things I won’t never understand.

    Coyote Wind by Peter Bowen*This is a fictionalized Q&A based on Peter Bowen’s Montana mystery series

    Learn more about Gabriel Du Pré in Peter Bowen's Montana Mysteries, beginning with Coyote Wind.


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    Happy birthday to the fantastic author Lisa Alther! To celebrate, we are featuring an excerpt from Alther’s thoughtful novel Other Women.

    Other WomenA poignant look at the human need for acceptance, this ebook explores the notion that a life examined is one worth living. When trauma cases in the ER leave Caroline, a nurse, emotionally paralyzed and her relationship with her partner, Diane, breaks down, she knows it’s time to take a look at her life and do something she’d never imagined: go to therapy. Her therapist, Hannah, knows a thing or two about sacrifice and pain. A former war bride, Hannah may live a seemingly cozy domestic life with her beloved husband and two grown children, but she can’t forget her own harrowing past. As she and Caroline work together, each comes to understand and admire the resilient woman sitting before her.

    It took Alther fourteen years and two hundred fifty rejection slips before she got her big break with the acceptance and publication of her debut novel, Kinflicks, which became an instant bestseller. She has been writing ever since.

    Other Women by Lisa Alther (Excerpt) by OpenRoadMedia


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    Operation Doorstep

    Tim Powers, two-time World Fantasy Award–winning author and a pioneer of the steampunk genre, is most widely recognized for his critically acclaimed historical fantasies, which have revolutionized speculative fiction worldwide. With his post-atomic novel Dinner at Deviant’s Palace, however, Powers goes back to the future, returning to his science fiction roots in a decidedly nuclear fashion. 

    In post-apocalyptic, twenty-second century California, Gregorio Rivas has turned over a new leaf. Now a band member gunning the pelican in Ellay (read: LA), Rivas has left his shady lifestyle as a redeemer, or deprogrammer, behind. Playing the stringed instrument isn’t the life Rivas initially envisioned for himself, but at thirty-one years old, things change. Just when he is coming to terms with his newfound stability, Rivas’s life takes a sharp turn when he has a conversation regarding the one person he thought he left in his past—Urania.

    Dinner at Deviant's PalaceUrania, Rivas’s long-lost first love, is trapped in the Jaybirds cult of the deviant himself, the formidable menace Norton Jaybush, a madman who reprograms the minds of his cult followers. With the desperate plea (and large monetary incentive) of Urania’s father, a powerful Californian official, Rivas is pulled back into one last act of redemption. To rescue Urania from the sinister clutches of Norton Jaybush in the face of blood-sucking hemogoblins and other horrors, Rivas must put his one-of-a-kind deprogramming skills to the test—the fate of his first love depends upon it.

    Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award, Dinner at Deviant’s Palace is a thrilling standalone novel showcasing Tim Powers’s mastery of worldbuilding with amazing detail and stunning prose. Featuring an original introduction by the author, Dinner at Deviant’s Palace proves why Tim Powers is one of the most inventive contemporary fantasists in America.

    To learn more about Tim Powers and his critically acclaimed novels, visit his author page here.

    Image: From Operation Doorstep, nuclear testing, March 17, 1953.


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    National Day of the Cowboy is coming up this Saturday, July 27, and to celebrate we're asked the acclaimed author of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Ron Hansen, about what it means to be a cowboy. Learn more about National Day of the Cowboy on our blog here

    Cowboy

    Some years ago in central Mexico, I visited a city that was famous for its leather products, and I decided to buy some fancy botas de vaquero, or cowboy boots. And as I was getting measured for them, it struck me that just as the Spanish sabe became our English savvy, so vaquero became, through mispronunciation, buckaroo. A cowboy’s chaps in English are just the shortened form of the Spanish chaparreras, and Stetson’s famous Boss of the Plains hat is a stylized adaptation of the Mexican sombrero.

    Almost everything about our cowboys was invented in Argentina or Mexico and only made it to the United States around the time when there were cattle drives across vast unfenced country to northern railheads where the steers and heifers could be loaded onto freight cars bound for the slaughterhouses.

    John Wayne
     

    The best film on such a longhorn drive is still 1948’s Red River, directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne in his most interesting, tyrannical role. Except for Montgomery Clift’s too-fancy attire, the costuming seems impressively accurate to me, and when I have taught the film in college classes, it has not gone without notice that the hands never change out of their clothing over several hot and dusty months.

    Cowboy in Action 1907

    There are supposed to be nine thousand cattle on that 1865 drive and probably ninety horsemen, and I don’t recall anyone being called a cowboy. That was a sarcastic, pejorative term—spelled with a hyphen: cow-boy—that I first read in a Tombstone, Arizona, newspaper, from around the time of the gunfight in the OK Corral (from the Spanish corral). The emphasis was meant to be on the boy—that whiskey and too much time on the open range had made the hands wild, ornery, childish, and impetuous, the very sort that the Earp brothers were there to civilize or scare away. Cowboy now has far more strong, heroic, gentlemanly, and romantic connotations, and the few men I’ve known in that profession—most of them rodeo stars—are justly celebrated.   

    Ron Hansen is the author of eight novels, two collections of stories, and a book of essays. His historical novel, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was a finalist for a PEN/Faulkner Award, and was adapted into a movie starring Brad Pitt.


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    book christmas treeToday's surround sound of "Christmas in July" activity raised our curiosity about the origins of this postmodern holiday—so we did a little digging. 

    According to ClausNet.com, the tradition was started around 1915 by a group of thespians from Long Island, New York intent on reclaiming the holiday for hardworking vaudevillians who were often on the road during the December holiday season. Another source sites an event in 1933 at a girls' summer camp in North Carolina where they celebrated the holiday in July with a tree, presents, and a visit from Santa. A few years later, in 1940, Hollywood got into the act with the release of Christmas in July directed by Preston Sturges and starring Dick Powell. And in 1944, wanting to promote early Christmas mailings to the service men and women of World War II, the US Post Office partnered with the US Army, US Navy, and the greeting card and advertising industries for a Christmas in July luncheon in New York. But it wasn't until the 1950s that American advertisers began actively promoting the theme of Christmas in July as a marketing opportunity. Today, if you were to search "Christmas in July" on Google, you'd turn up more than 850,000,000 results (including some terrific semi-annual sales!).

    Well, there's nothing we love more than a reason to celebrate—and Christmas in July seems as good a reason as any. So pull on your Santa suit and check out three of our favorite festive reads guaranteed to put some jingle in your step. 

    book christmas tree

    In this bestselling Christmas story, a pilot needs a miracle to make it home.

    It is Christmas Eve, 1957, and there are cozier places to be than the cockpit of a de Havilland Vampire fighter plane. But for one Royal Air Force pilot, this single-seat jet is the only way to make it back to England for Christmas morning. His flight plan is simple; the fuel tank is full. But then the plane begins to fail.

    First the compass goes haywire, then the radio dies. Lost and alone, the pilot is searching for a landing strip when the fog closes in, signaling certain death. He has given up hope when a second shadow appears—a Mosquito fighter-bomber of World War II vintage. The plane is a “shepherd,” guiding the Vampire to a safe landing, and its appearance is a gift from fate, but for one lonely pilot, the mystery has just begun. Go behind the scenes with Frederick Forsyth in this exclusive video from Open Road. 

    book christmas tree

    In The Midnight Before Christmas, a lawyer helps a battered wife search for her kidnapped son.

    As ex-husbands go, they don’t get much worse than Carl. He’s violent, drunken, and possessive—and worst of all, he’s an ex-cop. Bonnie has done everything she can to keep their son away from his father, but when Carl comes to terrorize them—stinking drunk on Christmas Eve—she cannot call the cops for help. She visits a legal aid office to arrange a restraining order, but by the time the lawyer starts the paperwork, it’s already too late: Carl has kidnapped their son.

    Bonnie’s lawyer, an ex-priest named Megan McGee, has too much Christian spirit to turn the woman’s case over to the corrupt local police. Together they comb the city in search of the boy, racing to find him before his father’s affections become violent, and turn this white Christmas into a bloody one.

    The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

    Children experience Christmas through magic, anticipation, and learning about the baby Jesus. As we mature, we experience Christmas through the gifts we give, the love we share, and the magic we create for others. A Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmasbrings back the memories of childhood through the eyes of children on Christmas day and inspires good deeds by reminding us how the smallest gesture can truly change a life.

    Go back in time through genuine stories of hope and kindness and see how people find the true meaning of the season through unexpected miracles and those they meet along the way.



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    National Day of the Cowboy is coming up this Saturday, July 27, and we're celebrating by taking a special look at some of our favorite cowboys. Today, we're featuring the great Teddy Roosevelt, who besides being the 26th President of the United States, was known for his exuberant personality, robust masculinity, and most importantly, his cowboy persona. To learn more about Teddy in action, check out Brian Garfield's historical novel, Manifest Destiny.

    Theodore Roosevelt Riding

    Name: Theodore Roosevelt Jr.

    Age: 23

    Hometown: New York, New York  

    Marital status: Widower

    Religion: Dutch Reformed

    Horse: For my trip through the North Dakota badlands, my new friend Jerry Paddock was kind enough to sell me his sorriest mare, Nell.

    Educational accomplishments: Graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard University. I am trained in law and crew. I want to become a writer and contribute a couple dozen volumes to the libraries of the world.  

    When did your interest in hunting first start? My father spoke of the numerous buffalo of the West and I always dreamed of shooting them until I came here and discovered that there weren’t any left! I guess I missed out on the glory days.

    Other than hunting, what sports do you enjoy? Well, I regretfully admit that my eyesight is not what it once was. I also suffer from cholera and asthma. However, I love riding and boxing. I am a skilled taxidermist and can skin the hide off anything. I am a quick learner and an avid explorer. I am an intellectual and pride myself on knowing much about the world.

    What advice would you give to youths who look up to you as a successful cowboy? I learned many of my skills on the range, such as riding Western and roping cattle. I would say to listen to your elders and those who have the experience you admire.

    What is the most important thing you have learned from being a cowboy? The most important thing that I have learned is that much patience is needed when hunting buffalo these days and that I don’t like the folks who steal my cattle.

    What is your favorite type of music? I have two campfire songs I like to sing: “They’re Hanging Danny Deever in the Morning” and “There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight.”

    Who is your greatest hero of all time? As I wrote in my autobiography, “My father was the best man I ever knew. He combined strength and courage with gentleness, tenderness, and great unselfishness. He would not tolerate in us children selfishness or cruelty, idleness, cowardice, or untruthfulness.”

    What Indian, cowboy, or cowgirl has influenced you the most? Jerry Paddock taught me to saddle a horse Western and that English riding is much different than Western riding. I owe my rough-riding cowboy skills to him.

    Manifest Destiny by Brian Garfield*This is a fictionalized Q&A based on Brian Garfield's historical novel Manifest Destiny.

    Brian Garfield is the author of of more than seventy books. His well-loved westerns include Manifest Destiny, which features Teddy Roosevelt's cowboy exploits.


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    Saturday, July 27, is National Day of the Cowboy, and to celebrate, we've asked real-life Montana cowboy/author Peter Bowen to share a few stories about the infamous men of America's West.

    Cowboy

    . . . Sooo, you want a story about cowboys . . . very well . . .

    An old hand I knew long ago, who went by the name of Buffalo, responded to some fool who thought cowboys would soon be replaced by dirt bikes with this:

    “No machine could take the abuse!” he said. “It ain’t possible.”

    He worked all his life on one huge ranch near here save for the few years he spent in Deer Lodge Prison over some argument that got out of hand, which he won. He was pardoned pretty quickly on account of no one else could get along with the decedent either. Needed killin’, as we say out here . . .

    They are a humorous lot. Have to be, since the work is dangerous. Horses and cattle are stupid and they weigh more than half a ton, so there you have it.

    They aren’t paid much. Much of the time they sleep out. They are paid all they are owed in a lump. They hate lumps and will make great efforts to get rid of one as fast as possible. A successful “trip t’town” costs all they have and a little time in jail if they were having lots of fun.

    One Fourth of July a while back, in Red Lodge, a passel of hands was drinking in the saloon when one of their number passed out. His eyes rolled up in his head, his bones sorta dissolved, and he slid off his stool to the floor, making a wet and spludgy sound.

    Some folks might find that tiresome, but the fellers sensed an opportunity. They got hold of the undertaker and he opened up his establishment, and the unconscious friend was laid out in a nice casket, there at the front of the chapel, and his buddies all sat looking mournful, waiting for him to wake up. He did. He blinked, looked around, sat up, screamed, and ran out the front door—well, actually, right through the glass and off into the town. The undertaker charged nothing for the service but did demand the door be fixed. It cost six hundred dollars but all thought the price not unreasonable.

    Vengeance was not long in coming, but that tale is for another time.

    A favorite cowboy pastime is gambling, which they do love. They will bet on anything any time. Some time back, at the Cheyenne Roundup, Casey Tibbs, then the greatest cowboy of them all, and some others were playing cards in the hotel room, on the third floor. It was hot. They were in their shorts only.

    “Well,” says Casey, “I’ll bet I kin tie a towel ’round my neck and fly out that window and around the hotel and back in. Bet a hundred bucks.” The bet is covered, Casey knots the towel ’round his neck, yells “WAHOOOO!” and dives out the window. He does not come back. Finally, worried, his buddies go looking for him. Not in the shrubbery below with a broken neck. Not anywhere. They get in a pickup and drive down toward the all-night diner. They are all so drunk they are walking on their lips.

    They find Casey. He is pushing a bicycle along, staggering a little.

    “Hey Case,” somebody yells, “whatcha doin’?”

    “I am going to get some chili and coffee there at the diner,” says Casey, “and then I am gonna ride this sumbitch . . .”

    Peter BowenPeter Bowen is a cowboy, hunting and fishing guide, folksinger, poet, essayist, and novelist. He is the author of the the Yellowstone Kelly historical novels and the Gabriel Du Pré mysteries, about a Montana cattle inspector/lawman. He lives in Livingston, Montana.


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    Today is National Dance Day! Whether you are a longtime dancer or just learning the ropes, today is an opportunity to celebrate dancing in all its forms.

    Paul Taylor is one of the foremost American choreographers of our time. He began his career in the 1950s as both a dancer and a choreographer, retiring from performing in 1974. Known for his edginess and willingness to address the most sensitive of subjects, his pieces often deal with man’s place within nature; love and sexuality; life and death; and iconic moments of American history.

    Here are five lessons about creating dances—and living life—from Paul Taylor’s latest collection of writing, Facts and Fancies:

    Follow your passion. “To put it simply, I make dances because I can’t help it,” writes Taylor. “I make dances because I believe in the power of contemporary dance, its immediacy, its potency, its universality. I make dances because that’s what I’ve spent many years teaching myself to do, and it’s become what I’m best at.” Whether your passion is making dances or writing poetry, follow your gut; practicing your art over a long period of time will help you hone those skills. It all starts with the desire to create.

    Be yourself. In one essay, Taylor touts the benefits of modern and contemporary dance: “As a rule, each grows organically out of itself in different ways, just as different types of fruit grow in nature, and each dancer looks like nobody else but himself (or herself). Individualism is encouraged, see. It’s perfectly okay not to be a clone. . . . And you can always count on [modern dancers] heading in interesting new directions without falling down or getting stuck in one spot.”

    Buck trends. Taylor made himself a household name by going against the grain: “Aureole (1962) was my first big success. A lyrical, pure-dance piece, set to the music of Handel, it was created for the American Dance Festival, which generally featured the more Expressionist work of José Limón and Martha Graham.” The piece changed the face of modern dance by omitting elements that were then considered de rigueur. “Something about the simplicity has been on my mind,” writes Taylor. “No puzzlements for folks to ponder, no stiff-necked pretensions from classic ballet, or even any of its steps. It’s just old-fashioned lyricism and white costumes.” When the piece debuted, it became an instant classic: “None of the troupe has any idea that this has been the first performance of a piece that we’ll be dancing hundreds and hundreds of times. On five continents, in world capitals and Podunk towns, in North African desert heat, at the edge of Alaskan glaciers, in the moonlit Pantheon’s shadow, under banyan trees.”

    Avoid pretention. Although it’s easy for young dancers and choreographers to get caught up in them, Taylor has little patience for conversations that trade in cultural snobbery: “Who cares if it’s high art or low, or about the relationship between the two? Possibly the art-mongers do, and the paying public, but not me. All I care about is if cultural things work or not, and if I can get away with how my dances turn out. Really, honest and true, for those who make things—poems, buildings, moon modules, Kewpie dolls, whatever—the whole world is one big, glorious grab-bag!”

    Amen.

    Relax. Don't be so hard on yourself—it's counterproductive. The combination of confidence and a calm mind enables dancers and choreographers to achieve their creative goals. 

    Anything you wish to communicate is quite acceptable.

    Take your ideas in stride, don’t let them disturb you.

    Trust in the perceptiveness of those who watch,

    Let them figure out your dance for themselves.

                                                                            —Paul Taylor 


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  • 07/27/13--09:45: Life in the Wild, Wild West
  • Today is National Day of the Cowboy, and to celebrate, we’re featuring a few classic ebooks that pay tribute to the history and lifestyle of the American West.

    The Bold Frontier by John JakesThe Bold Frontier

    A brilliant collection of short stories about the untamed American West by one of today’s most distinguished writers of historical fiction, John Jakes. Jakes’s rousing portrayal of the harsh realities of life on the frontier includes tales of lawmen in the Sierra Nevada, railroad workers in Kansas, and gamblers on the steamboat River Queen. For those who already love Jakes’s epic fiction as well as readers experiencing his work for the first time, The Bold Frontier is a true American classic.

     

    The Return of Little Big ManThe Return of Little Big Manby Thomas Berger

    In this sequel to Thomas Berger’s beloved novel Little Big Man, Jack Crabb—one of literature’s wiliest survivors—continues his breathtaking tall tales of the Old West. Crabb claims to have witnessed most of the great historical events of the western frontier: hiding behind a wagon after a drunken Doc Holliday provokes the shootout at the OK Corral; joining Buffalo Bill Cody and Annie Oakley on tour with their international Wild West show; even taking tea with Queen Victoria when she comes out of seclusion after a quarter century. No matter where Crabb lays his hat, he keeps his wizened, wry, and sharp commentary at the ready. 

     


    Wondrous Times on the Frontierby Dee BrownWondrous Times on the Frontier

    Frontier life, Dee Brown writes, “was hard, unpleasant most of the time,” and “lacking in almost all amenities or creature comforts.” And yet, tall tales were the genre of the day, and humor, both light and dark, was abundant. In this historical account, Brown examines the aspects of the frontier spirit that would come to assume so central a position in American mythology. Split into sections—“Gambling, Violence, and Merriment,” “Lawyers, Newsmen, and Other Professionals,” and “Misunderstood Minorities”—it is a mesmerizing account of an untamed nation and its wild, resilient settlers.

     

    Calvary ScoutCavalry Scout by Dee Brown

    JohnSingleterry and his partner, Dunreath, are taken captive by two American Indian fighters. One is an old medicine woman, and the other, holding a rifle, is a beautiful mixed-race girl. They tell the scouts about their tribe’s destruction during its forced relocation, and of multiple promises that have been broken—stories that force Singleterry to face difficult questions of love, desertion, and the real meaning of honor. A moving novel of torn loyalties, Dee Brown’s Cavalry Scout gives full-blooded reality to its time, and to both the settlers and natives at the heart of its story.

     

    The Girl from Fort Wickedby Dee BrownThe Girl from Fort Wicked

    Captain Westcott receives the news that a wagon train has been raided. Two officers have been wounded and four civilians killed—among the dead is the woman who was traveling to the western frontier to become his wife. Authorities believe that the prize was six thousand dollars, and that the local Arapaho Indians are responsible. But it soon becomes apparent that there’s more to this raid than money. Having no time to lose, Westcott promptly sets out to hunt the band of raiders, on a mission that will contain more surprises than he could ever have expected. Alive with suspense, Dee Brown’s novel is a riveting portrayal of America’s rugged frontier landscape, its language, and its unusual characters.

     

     


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    Summer means the same thing for many of us: time to lie out on the beach, at the park, in the backyard—wherever! Most of us ladies are more than happy to lounge with the latest chick lit read and a frosty mojito—which is relaxing, of course, but not terribly productive.

    Those of us that are craftier, however, can both relax and create something amazing by bringing those needles and some yarn poolside! (Feel free to bring the mojito along, too.) There’s nothing like getting to work early on your Christmas gifts, and everyone loves a hand-knitted sweater or scarf. Avoid frantic November shopping and take a leisurely approach to these fun projects now. Click here to see all these winter project ebooks and more!

    Handknit Holidays by Melanie Falick

    In this creative book, you’ll find colorful garlands made out of pompoms, nutcracker slippers, a Santa Lucia crown, and more. Gathering ideas from thirty different knitters, Falick has pieced together marvelous projects for all the December holidays: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the Winter Solstice. The pillow below features a menorah, the nine-branched candleholder used during Hanukkah.

    menorah pillow

    Knitting New Scarves by Lynne Barr

    Summer may mean shorts, t-shirts, and dresses—but we’re focusing on winter here, which means hats, gloves, and of course, scarves! After scanning Lynne Barr’s Knitting New Scarves, you’ll be excited to give your loved ones these cozy gifts. Barr will make you “knit literate” before you know it. An experimental knitter, she creates a Stacked Wedges pattern by changing the number of colors and increasing the size of each wedge in the Meandering Stripes pattern.

    Knits Men Want by Bruce Weinstein

    Knitting may seem like a feminine pursuit, but in Knits Men Want, Bruce Weinstein explains how to make knits that men will be thrilled to see under the tree. Using his experience as a knitting instructor and well, as a man, Weinstein helps women “understand the male psyche.” His book is hysterical, real, and filled with anecdotes that will make you cringe. So while you’re working on your summer tan, think about the men in your life and knit away! This basic cardigan is perfect for Christmastime.

    Knits Men Want by Bruce Weinstein [Excerpt] by OpenRoadMedia

    Knit 2 Together by Tracey Ullman and Mel Clark

    Tracey Ullman and Mel Clark, two friends with a common passion for knitting, reveal some great secrets in this book! And they’re not afraid to share funny stories, either; while describing New School Tie, Ullman remarks:

    “I startled Jay Leno by giving him this tie during a Tonight Show appearance. I haven’t seen him wear it yet, and if I find out he’s using it to wipe the windshields on his vintage cars, he can kiss the argyle socks goodbye!”

    You’ll find unique ideas of all kinds, such as Surfer Mouse Surf Shorts or Tropical Garden Vest. There are some great projects for those in need of a holiday gift for kids, too. Check out this adorable baby baseball tee with mittens:

    baby baseball tee

    Vintage Baby Knits by Kristen Rengren

    If you want to get a bit more creative with Christmas knitting gifts for that tiny niece or nephew you adore, scroll through Kristen Rengren’s Vintage Baby Knits. One look at the puffy-cheeked little guy on the cover will make you smile, and the projects are truly unique. Yes, there is a knitted diaper. Apparently it was the thing to do back in the 1930s. Your baby will be the coolest kid in the park wearing this hoodie:

    vintage baby sweater


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