Monday, November 23, 2015

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Searching for the Oldest Stars

Searching for the Oldest Stars: Ancient Relics from the Early Universe

by Anna Frebel 

Astronomers study the oldest observable stars in the universe in much the same way that archaeologists study ancient artifacts on Earth. Here, Anna Frebel, who is credited with discovering several of the oldest and most primitive stars using the world's largest telescopes, takes readers into the far-flung depths of space and time to provide a gripping firsthand account of the cutting-edge science of stellar archaeology. 

Weaving the latest findings in astronomy with her own compelling insights as one of the world's leading researchers in the field, Frebel explains how sections of the night sky are "excavated" in the hunt for these extremely rare relic stars, some of which have been shining for more than 13 billion years.  

This astonishing quest to find the oldest stars is revealing tantalizing new details about the earliest times in the universe. Frebel vividly describes how the very first stars formed soon after the big bang and then exploded as supernovae, leaving behind chemical fingerprints that were incorporated into the ancient stars we can still observe today. She shows how these fingerprints provide clues to the cosmic origin of the elements, early star and galaxy formation, and the assembly process of the Milky Way. 

Along the way, Frebel recounts her own stories of discovery, offering an insider's perspective on this exciting frontier of science. Packed with great diagrams this book sheds vital new light on the origins and evolution of the cosmos while providing a unique look into scientific discovery and life as an astronomer. 

Anna Frebel about the oldest star yet discovered. (Youtube)


Thursday, November 12, 2015


S. P. Q. R. : A History of Ancient Rome

Mary Beard 

In S.P.Q.R., world renowned classicist Mary Beard narrates the unprecedented rise of a civilization that even two thousand years later still shapes many of our most fundamental assumptions about power, citizenship, responsibility, political violence, empire, luxury, and beauty. 

S.P.Q.R. (the abbreviation of "The Senate and People of Rome") examines not just how we think of ancient Rome but challenges the comfortable historical perspectives that have existed for centuries by exploring how the Romans thought of themselves: how they challenged the idea of imperial rule, how they responded to terrorism and revolution, and how they invented a new idea of citizenship and nation.

Illustrating how a classical democracy yielded to a self-confident and self-critical empire, S.P.Q.R. reintroduces us, though in a wholly different way, to famous and familiar characters, Hannibal, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Augustus, and Nero, among others, while expanding the historical aperture to include those overlooked in traditional histories: the women, the slaves and ex-slaves, conspirators, and those on the losing side of Rome's glorious conquests.  

Like the best detectives, Beard sifts fact from fiction, myth and propaganda from historical record, refusing either simple admiration or blanket condemnation. Far from being frozen in marble, Roman history, she shows, is constantly being revised and rewritten as our knowledge expands. 

Indeed, our perceptions of ancient Rome have changed dramatically over the last fifty years, and S.P.Q.R., with its nuanced attention to class inequality, democratic struggles, and the lives of entire groups of people omitted from the historical narrative for centuries, promises to reshape our view of Roman history. 

 Mary Beard on S.P.Q.R.

Monday, November 9, 2015

What's new in Fiction and Mystery for November?

Wondering what's coming out in Fiction and Mystery for November?  Here are a few titles:

Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich

Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is back!

The Crossing by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch is retired, but he is still on the case.  His defense attorney half-brother now needs his help.

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

Alma Belasco is in a nursing home but her affair with a Japanese gardener continues over the years.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


Ardennes 1944: The Battle of the Bulge

by Antony Beevor

The prizewinning historian and bestselling author of D-Day and Stalingrad reconstructs the Battle of the Bulge in this riveting new account.

On December 16, 1944, Hitler launched his 'last gamble' in the snow-covered forests and gorges of the Ardennes in Belgium, believing he could split the Allies by driving all the way to Antwerp and forcing the Canadians and the British out of the war. Although his generals were doubtful of success, younger officers and NCOs were desperate to believe that their homes and families could be saved from the vengeful Red Army approaching from the east.

Many were exultant at the prospect of striking back. The allies, taken by surprise, found themselves fighting two panzer armies. Belgian civilians abandoned their homes, justifiably afraid of German revenge. Panic spread even to Paris. While some American soldiers, overwhelmed by the German onslaught, fled or surrendered, others held on heroically, creating breakwaters which slowed the German advance.

The harsh winter conditions and the savagery of the battle became comparable to the Eastern Front. In fact the Ardennes became the Western Front's counterpart to Stalingrad. There was terrible ferocity on both sides, driven by desperation and revenge, in which the normal rules of combat were breached.

In this deeply researched work, with striking insights into the major players on both sides, Antony Beevor gives us the definitive account of the Ardennes offensive, which was to become the battle which finally broke the back of the Wehrmacht.