2017 Politics/History

2017 Odyssey Bookshop Holiday Newsletter

Politics & History
Alone: Britain, Churchill, and Dunkirk: Defeat Into Victory Cover Image
ISBN: 9781631491320
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright Publishing Corporation - September 19th, 2017

Acclaimed writer and historian Michael Korda takes on the onset of war in Britain in WWII. Britain is faced with tyranny and takeover from Germany and will defend home and land to the bitter end.
“ I have myself full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected…we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to out live the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.” Winston Churchill June 4, 1940.
Michael Korda recounts Britain’s early war years, his family’s involvement, and the nations battle to surface time and again after repeated enemy aerial bombardments. The attack of the homeland was not the single worst threat to the nation. The news of spies and subterfuge, the attacks of submarines on supply ships filled with food, clothing, materials, and men was not the most crucial threat; it was the rise of panic that most threatened the homeland from the rising tyranny.
Alone is Michael Korda’s account of Britains declaration of war, it’s mounting defense against this sworn enemy, the defeat of the French on the Mignot Line, and the retreat of British soldiers at Dunkirk and how the seemingly utter panic that could have arisen, should they fail to evacuate, was avoided, and the means by which they do, leading to a rallying cry bolstering the nation and it’s fighting men from panic to renewed hope and victory. ~Eugene

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316352536
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hachette Books - October 10th, 2017

After the devastation of the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States desperately needed to ramp up their intelligence gathering capability. There were only a small number of code breakers in the Navy and the Army and thousands more would be needed to defeat the Japanese and the Germans. Even before the attack on Pearl Harbor a handful seniors at the Seven Sisters colleges began to receive letters in early November, 1941 inviting them to a secret meeting if they could answer correctly two questions. Did they like crossword puzzles (yes) and were they engaged to be married (no)? The women who answered the questions correctly and passed other tests and an interview were invited to work in Washington DC and told not to tell anyone of their actual work, which was code breaking. Female school teachers from around the country were also recruited, since most had signed contracts to retire if they married. The majority of the thousands of women who worked on code breaking took their secret to their graves. However, Liza Mundy was able to track down and to speak with 20 women who had worked as code breakers. In addition her research included now declassified archives and oral histories.  A fascinating read about the important role these pioneering women played in the Allies’ victory.  ~Joan

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101980965
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - June 13th, 2017

Our Active Citizen Book Group found this book one of the most eye opening, informative, and disturbing books we read in 2017. In the same vein as Jane Mayer’s Dark Money, MacLean reveals the radical right’s agenda and the origin of one of the intellectual founders, namely James McGill Buchanan, a southern economist who taught in the early part of his career at University of Virginia. He developed his “Public Choice” economic theory in response to the Brown decision and the Civil Rights Movement’s fight to desegregate public schools.  The choice Buchanan refers to is the private property rights of corporations and the wealthiest Americans. MacLean’s style is highly readable and her argument outlines the stealth plan of the radical right to undo our democracy through a series of steps that include deregulation of government oversights, attacking unions and public employees, privatizing as much government as possible, restricting voter rights, lowering taxes for the wealthy, denying climate change, and obstructing environmental regulations. A very important to read and share with family and friends. This book is a non-fiction finalist for the National Book Award. ~Joan


Staff Pick Logo
The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101906187
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Crown Publishing Group (NY) - September 12th, 2017

An important book about undocumented immigrants and is this case unaccompanied minors fleeing violent gang activity in their country, El Salvador. Ernesto and Raul, twin 17 year old brothers, were smuggled into the U.S. for the exorbitant fee of $14,000, a fortune for their poor farmer parents. In Oakland, they live with their older brother who is just barely getting by. Lauren Markham meets them at their high school where she is program coordinator, as well as, a journalist. This not only a coming of age story, but also a look at why Salvadorans are fleeing their country and the toil immigration and our immigration policy takes on families.  ~Joan

The Great Halifax Explosion: A World War I Story of Treachery, Tragedy, and Extraordinary Heroism Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062666536
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow & Company - November 7th, 2017

December 1, 2017, will commemorate the 100th anniversary of a supply train sent from Boston to the aid of the disaster struck cities of Halifax and Richmond, Canada. And each year since 1918, Boston has received a gift of a Christmas tree that stands in the Boston Commons. For this tree is a thank you for the help sent on that disastrous day.
“In the blink of an eye”, that’s what time it took for the largest man made explosion, prior to the atomic bomb, to occur. On December 6, 1917 at 9:04:35 the French munitions ship Mont-Blanc collided with the Belgian ship Imo with disastrous results in Halifax harbor at the Narrows.
6 millions pounds of mixed explosives; TNT, benzol, an airplane fuel, and picric acid combined to evaporate the Mont-Blanc. Only 3 pieces of the 320 foot long and 47foot wide ship were found, each 2.5 miles away.
The explosion left nothing standing; no schools, no churches, no homes, no factories, no trees, no people, no train station, and no piers at port. For the 65,000 residents of Halifax and Richmond it instantly killed 2,000, wounded 9,000, and left the towns flattened and burning. Injuries were numerous, and the most significant was glass shards to skin, face, and eyes. Some were thrown a mile away with all their clothes gone, maybe only wearing the boots on their feet.
All in the blink of an eye.
In the midst of this disaster survivors reached out to surrounding communities to get word out that help was in dire need. Everything was needed; fuel to stay warm with a blizzard approaching; food, bedding, housing, water, medical personnel and supplies all were needed immediately.
Boston, with a forward thinking leadership, do to the possibility of the U.S. entering into WWI, had established a disaster preparedness plan in case of invasion or massive destruction and it was with this planning that they prepared a train filled with the necessary supplies so desperately needed by their northern friends.
This train and many supply convoys from Canada came to the need of a disaster fraught community of 65,000 on the verge of ruin and clinging to the hope that relief would arrive in time. ~Eugene

Staff Pick Logo
Hunter of Stories Cover Image
By Eduardo Galeano, Mark Fried (Translator)
ISBN: 9781568589909
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Nation Books - November 14th, 2017

Master storyteller and Uruguayan historian, Eduardo Galeano, offers this book as his final gift, written over the last 3 years of his life.  Naomi Klein describes it as “more generous, wise and wonderful than I dared hope.”  Written in his signature short vignette form, with humor and compassion, Galeano’s stories are bursting with characters, memories, thoughts on death and the many other things that have made him a legend.  Arundhati Roy says “Galeano had a way of making realism magical without being a magical realist.”  Translated beautifully by longtime collaborator Mark Fried, this book sheds sunlight where others bury deep underground, breaks open our hearts and tells brave truths.  Read this book, give it as a special gift, and savor it for years to come. ~Batya


We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399590566
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: One World - October 3rd, 2017

These essays (published previously in The Atlantic) were written during the two Obama administrations and are presented here with new annotations. Readers who were dismayed that a bigot would be filling the Oval Office post-Obama will cycle through rage and anguish while reading these, but this book is essential reading nonetheless. Coates is an excellent writer and an even better thinker, and I think he’s the most important voice on race in America right now.  ~Emily