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BOOKS TO BRIGHTEN YOUR FATHER'S DAY



Published: Sat, June 11, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



It's no secret that most dads would prefer to spend Father's Day relaxing on the couch. If that's the case, why not indulge him and give him a great book to read. These books are exciting and informative, and any dad would be thrilled to receive one. With the wide range of fascinating topics covered, they might just inspire him to get off the couch.

Tracks To Murder

Jonathan Goodman, $19.95

A witty and informative look at classic American murder cases.

On a 6,000-mile train trip across the North American continent from New York City to the West Coast, then back to New York over a southern route, prizewinning English crime historian Jonathan Goodman visited a number of sites where notorious murders occurred -- the Kingsbury Run torso murders in Cleveland; the murder by "thrill-killers" Leopold and Loeb, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, and the escapades of Al Capone in Chicago; the Henwood-Von Phul-Springer affair in Denver; the murders of Marian Williams and Blanche Lamont in the Emmanuel Baptist Church in San Francisco; and Kate Townsend's murder in New Orleans. Goodman masterfully fuses two literary genres that reach back into the nineteenth century: the true crime essay fathered by Thomas De Quincy and travel reports popularized by Charles Dickens and Mark Twain.

As a true crime book, "Tracks to Murder" is witty and informative and enriches these classic American murder cases by placing them within their original settings. Goodman also plays them against their locations as they are today, resulting in a series of character sketches both contemporary and historical. As a travel book, it presents the seasoned reflections of a cultivated English writer on American manners and morals observed during his serendipitous transcontinental journey.

"In each of those places, a murder happened, all a long while ago -- not just any old murder, no thud-and-blunder affair, but one that is worth remembering, rarely because of the crime itself but because of strangenesses arising from, or brought to light by, that crime." --from the Preface

Jonathan Goodman is one of Britain's foremost true crime historians. His books include "Murder in High Places," "The Killing of Julia Wallace," "Bloody Versicles: The Rhymes of Crime" (Kent State University Press, 1993) and "The Passing of Starr Faithfull" (Kent State University Press, 1996).

Our Native Trees and How to Identify Them

A Popular Study of Their Habits and Their Peculiarities, by Harriet L. Keeler, $22.95

Educator, author and naturalist Harriet L. Keeler (1844-1921) was a prominent figure in her time. With this facsimile reprint of her first book written for a national audience, she once again is brought to the public's attention.

An 1870 graduate of Oberlin College, Keeler devoted her career to service as a teacher and administrator in the Cleveland public schools. She was active in Cleveland civic life as well and was a prominent champion of women's rights. However, it was as a naturalist that she did her most distinctive work, preparing authoritative and literate field guides to native flora.

"Our Native Trees and How to Identify Them," first published by Charles Scriber's sons in 1900, was warmly received at a time when America was rapidly urbanizing and public interest in conservation and the establishment of parks was growing. In her preface, Keeler explained that "the trees described ... are those indigenous to the region extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Rocky Mountains and from Canada to the northern boundaries of the southern states; together with a few well-known and naturalized foreign trees." Profusely illustrated and with a biographical introduction by Carol Poh Miller that illuminates Keeler's life and accomplishments, this edition of "Our Native Trees and How to Identify Them" will aid a new generation eager to identify and thus better appreciate what they observe outdoors.

Carol Poh Miller is a historical consultant in Cleveland, Ohio, and has written widely on local history and architecture.

Twilight of Innocence

The Disappearance of Beverly Potts, James Jessen Badal, $18.00

Ten-year-old Beverly Potts was last seen at 9:00 p.m. the evening of August 24, 1951, at Halloran Park on Cleveland's West Side. She and her neighbor and friend Patricia Swing had gone to see the Showagon -- a troupe of singers, dancers, magicians and other performers that traveled around Cleveland's neighborhood parks during the summer, giving free performances. Patricia had to be home before dark, but Beverly's parents told her she could stay until the show was over. When she was still not home by 9:30, her father, Robert, went out looking for her. He returned home at 10:30 without his daughter and called the Cleveland police. Beverly Potts had disappeared without a trace or any evidence of her fate.

James Jessen Badal reexamines the events leading up to Beverly Potts' disappearance and the subsequent police investigation and over-the-top sensational publicity in the Cleveland press. His interviews with detectives assigned to this still-open case and his examination of police records provide a chronology of the false leads and hoaxes that culminated in this disturbing case of dead end after dead end. Badal draws comparisons between investigative techniques of the time and more modern ones and examines the social and historical context in his analysis of the more than half-century of public fascination with this case.

Those who remember the kidnapping and still wonder what happened to Beverly Potts will look for clues in this book. True crime aficionados everywhere will find "Twilight of Innocence" to be an important study in the tragedy of unsolved disappearances.

James Jessen Badal is assistant professor of English and journalism at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland. He was elected to the board of trustees of the Cleveland Police Historical Society in 2000. He is the author of "In the Wake of the Butcher: Cleveland's Torso Murders" (Kent State University Press, 2001).

Real Men Cook: Rites, Rituals, and Recipes for Living

Sixteen years ago on Father's Day in Chicago, K. Kofi Moyo and his wife, Yvette, gathered together a group of men for a food festival. Each man prepared his signature dish. The goal was to raise money for local charitable organizations and shine a light on the "real men" -- the unsung heroes of the black community -- who care for their families throughout the year.

Real Men Cook for Charity is now the largest national Father's Day event in the United States. In cities all across the country, from New York to Los Angeles, from Chicago to New Orleans, several hundred husbands, uncles, brothers, coaches and teachers have participated in the event and have raised nearly a million dollars for a variety of charities, such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the YMCA, and for health initiatives like prostate cancer awareness.

The men are all different, whether they are from Chi-town (up-South from Mississippi and Arkansas), N'awlins, Motown, Dallas, D.C., Miami, Philly, L.A., the Big Apple (with fried fish and biscuits on the side) or Hotlanta. However, on Father's Day, they stand together, united by their love of cooking and an unwavering commitment to brotherhood and community.

In "Real Men Cook," the men share more than one hundred mouthwatering, finger-lickin'-good recipes -- the kind of recipes that make the Father's Day event a must-attend for all who appreciate a good plate of food. Equally important, they open their hearts, offering memories of growing up, tales of Real Men Cook events, and wisdom for the next generation.

This unique book is a priceless legacy that will nourish your family in spirit and body.

The American Revelation: Ten Ideals That Shaped Our Country from the Puritans to the Cold War

Neil Baldwin has devoted more than two decades to an ongoing exploration of what he calls "the cumulative biography of America," writing about the great artists, thinkers and innovators who have contributed to the rich variety of this nation's essential character. In "The American Revelation," he applies his energies to the story of how the American spirit developed over four centuries, through an examination of selected ideals that have helped inform our culture through the vivid personalities who set the course.

Big Shoes: In Celebration of Dads and Fatherhood

From Al Roker and friends, a new book in celebration of Dad, just in time for Father's Day!

Bestselling author and beloved Today show personality Al Roker teams up with his celebrity friends to share personal thoughts, stories, and reflections on fathers and fatherhood in this heartwarming collection.

A dad is always there to provide support and encouragement just when it's needed most, as well as help teach us some of life's most invaluable lessons -- from how to fly a kite and pitch a tent to how to change a tire, negotiate a raise or take on our first big home improvement project. Now it's time to say thank you!

In "Big Shoes," Al Roker and 45 other well-known personalities share personal stories about how their fathers have been there for them during times of both adversity and triumph, and the countless large and small ways they've shaped their lives throughout the years. These essays remind us of the important -- and lasting -- legacy of our dads, even as we've grown up and gone on to start families of our own.

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century

By Thomas L. Friedman

The World Is Flat is a timely and essential update on globalization, its successes and discontents, illuminated by one of our most respected journalists.




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