Children of the Stone by Sandy Tolan

Children of the Stone by Sandy Tolan

Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land

by Sandy Tolan

It is an unlikely story. Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, a child from a Palestinian refugee camp, confronts an occupying army, gets an education, masters an instrument, dreams of something much bigger than himself, and then, through his charisma and persistence, inspires scores of others to work with him to make that dream real. The dream: a school to transform the lives of thousands of children—as Ramzi’s life was transformed—through music.

Musicians from all over the world came to help. A violist left the London Symphony Orchestra, in part to work with Ramzi at his new school, Al Kamandjati. An aspiring British opera singer moved to the West Bank to teach voice lessons. Daniel Barenboim, the eminent Israeli conductor, invited Ramzi to join his West Eastern Divan Orchestra, which he founded with the late Palestinian intellectual, Edward Said. Since then the two have played together frequently. “Ramzi has transformed not only his life, his destiny, but that of many other people,” Barenboim said. “This is an extraordinary collection of children from all over Palestine that have all been inspired and opened to the beauty of life.”

Children of the Stone chronicles Ramzi’s journey—from stone thrower to music student to school founder—and shows how through his love of music he created something lasting and beautiful in a land torn by violence and war. This is a story about the power of music, first, but also about freedom and conflict, determination and vision. It’s a vivid portrait of life amid checkpoints and military occupation, a growing movement of nonviolent resistance, the prospects of musical collaboration across the Israeli–Palestinian divide, and the potential of music to help children everywhere see new possibilities for their lives.

Ratings and Reviews from the Librarians

Cathy rated it ★★★★ and said, “A thought provoking book that looks, at a very personal level, at a region many don’t want to think about. It is a book of hope tempered by realism. There are no easy solutions here, just a handful of people finding enough beauty to keep them striving.”

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States

by Sarah Vowell

From the bestselling author of Assassination Vacation and Unfamiliar Fishes, a humorous and insightful account of the Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette—the one Frenchman we could all agree on—and an insightful portrait of a nation’s idealism and its reality.

On August 16, 1824, an elderly French gentlemen sailed into New York Harbor and giddy Americans were there to welcome him. Or, rather, to welcome him back. It had been thirty years since the Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette had last set foot in the United States, and he was so beloved that 80,000 people showed up to cheer for him. The entire population of New York at the time was 120,000.

Lafayette’s arrival in 1824 coincided with one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history. Congress had just fought its first epic battle over slavery, and the threat of a Civil War loomed. But Lafayette, belonging to neither North nor South, to no political party or faction, was a walking, talking reminder of the sacrifices and bravery of the revolutionary generation and what they wanted this country to be. His return was not just a reunion with his beloved Americans, it was a reunion for Americans with their own astonishing singular past.

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States is a humorous and insightful portrait of the famed Frenchman, the impact he had on our young country, and his ongoing relationship with some of the instrumental Americans of the time, including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and many more.

Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard

Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President

by Candice Millard

James A. Garfield was one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president. Born into abject poverty, he rose to become a wunderkind scholar, a Civil War hero, and a renowned and admired reformist congressman. Nominated for president against his will, he engaged in a fierce battle with the corrupt political establishment. But four months after his inauguration, a deranged office seeker tracked Garfield down and shot him in the back.

But the shot didn’t kill Garfield. The drama of what happened subsequently is a powerful story of a nation in turmoil. The unhinged assassin’s half-delivered strike shattered the fragile national mood of a country so recently fractured by civil war, and left the wounded president as the object of a bitter behind-the-scenes struggle for power—over his administration, over the nation’s future, and, hauntingly, over his medical care. A team of physicians administered shockingly archaic treatments, to disastrous effect. As his condition worsened, Garfield received help: Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, worked around the clock to invent a new device capable of finding the bullet.

Meticulously researched, epic in scope, and pulsating with an intimate human focus and high-velocity narrative drive, The Destiny of the Republic will stand alongside The Devil in the White City and The Professor and the Madman as a classic of narrative history.

Ratings and Reviews from the Librarians

Cathy rated it ★★★★★ and said, “You wouldn’t think that a book about a largely forgotten incident in the life of a largely forgotten president would be a mind-blowing, page-turning, leave-you-breathless experience. It was. I wish I could encourage everyone, and I do mean everyone, to read this book. It’s that good.”

The Black Count by Tom Reiss

The Black Count by Tom Reiss

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

by Tom Reiss

Here is the remarkable true story of the real Count of Monte Cristo—a stunning feat of historical sleuthing that brings to life the forgotten hero who inspired such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.

The real-life protagonist of The Black Count, General Alex Dumas, is a man almost unknown today yet with a story that is strikingly familiar, because his son, the novelist Alexandre Dumas, used it to create some of the best loved heroes of literature.

Yet, hidden behind these swashbuckling adventures was an even more incredible secret: the real hero was the son of a black slave—who rose higher in the white world than any man of his race would before our own time.

Born in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), Alex Dumas was briefly sold into bondage but made his way to Paris where he was schooled as a sword-fighting member of the French aristocracy. Enlisting as a private, he rose to command armies at the height of the Revolution, in an audacious campaign across Europe and the Middle East—until he met an implacable enemy he could not defeat.

The Black Count is simultaneously a riveting adventure story, a lushly textured evocation of 18th-century France, and a window into the modern world’s first multi-racial society. But it is also a heartbreaking story of the enduring bonds of love between a father and son.

If a Pirate I Must Be… by Richard Sanders

If a Pirate I Must Be… by Richard Sanders

If a Pirate I Must Be...: The True Story of Black Bart, King of the Caribbean Pirates

by Richard Sanders

In a page-turning tale brimming with adventure, author Richard Sanders tells of the remarkable exploits of Bartholomew Roberts (better known as Black Bart), the greatest of the Caribbean pirates. He drank tea instead of rum. He banned women and gambling on his ships. He never made his prisoners walk the plank, instead inviting them into his cabin for a friendly chat. And during the course of his extraordinary two-and-a-half-year career as a pirate captain, he captured four hundred prizes and brought trade in the eastern Caribbean to a standstill.

In If a Pirate I Must Be…, Richard Sanders tells the larger-than-life story of Bartholomew Roberts, aka Black Bart. Born in a rural town, Roberts rose from third mate on a slave ship to pirate captain in a matter of months. Before long, his combination of audaciousness and cunning won him fame and fortune from the fisheries of Newfoundland to the slave ports of West Africa. Sanders brings to life a fascinating world of theater and ritual, where men (a third of whom were black) lived a close-knit, egalitarian life, democratically electing their officers and sharing their spoils. They were highly (if surreptitiously) popular with many merchants, with whom they struck incredibly lucrative deals. Yet with a fierce team of Royal Navy pirate hunters tracking his every move, Roberts’ heyday would prove a brief one, and with his capture, the Golden Age of pirates would pass into the lore and legend of books and movies. Based on historical records, journals and letters from pirates under Roberts’ command, and on writings by Roberts himself, If a Pirate I Must Be… is the true story of the greatest pirate ever to sail the Caribbean.

Into the Silence by Wade Davis

Into the Silence by Wade Davis

Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest

by Wade Davis

A magnificent work of history, biography, and adventure.

If the quest for Mount Everest began as a grand imperial gesture, as redemption for an empire of explorers that had lost the race to the Poles, it ended as a mission of regeneration for a country and a people bled white by war. Of the twenty-six British climbers who, on three expeditions (1921-24), walked 400 miles off the map to find and assault the highest mountain on Earth, twenty had seen the worst of the fighting. Six had been severely wounded, two others nearly died of disease at the Front, one was hospitalized twice with shell shock. Three as army surgeons dealt for the duration with the agonies of the dying. Two lost brothers, killed in action. All had endured the slaughter, the coughing of the guns, the bones and barbed wire, the white faces of the dead.

In a monumental work of history and adventure, ten years in the writing, Wade Davis asks not whether George Mallory was the first to reach the summit of Everest, but rather why he kept on climbing on that fateful day. His answer lies in a single phrase uttered by one of the survivors as they retreated from the mountain: “The price of life is death.” Mallory walked on because for him, as for all of his generation, death was but “a frail barrier that men crossed, smiling and gallant, every day.” As climbers they accepted a degree of risk unimaginable before the war. They were not cavalier, but death was no stranger. They had seen so much of it that it had no hold on them. What mattered was how one lived, the moments of being alive.

For all of them Everest had become an exalted radiance, a sentinel in the sky, a symbol of hope in a world gone mad.

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town

by John Grisham

The Library Book Club meeting for this book was held October 18, 2018, at 6:30 in the entry foyer.

A limited number of book club reading copies were available for checkout from the circulation desk about a month prior to the meeting.

In the town of Ada, Oklahoma, Ron Williamson was going to be the next Mickey Mantle. But on his way to the big leagues, Ron stumbled, his dream broken by drinking, drugs, and women. Then on a winter night in 1982, not far from Ron’s home, a young cocktail waitress named Debra Sue Carter was savagely murdered. The investigation led nowhere. Until, on the flimsiest evidence, it led to Ron Williamson. The washed-up small-town hero was charged, tried, and sentenced to death—in a trial littered with lying witnesses and tainted evidence that would shatter a man’s already broken life…and let a true killer go free.

Impeccably researched, grippingly told, filled with eleventh-hour drama, John Grisham’s first work of non-fiction reads like a page-turning legal thriller. It is a book that will terrify anyone who believes in the presumption of innocence—a book that no American can afford to miss.

Ratings and Reviews from the Librarians

Miranda rated it ★★★.

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