Braille Book Review

March-April 2002
Books for Adults--Nonfiction

The following books were recently produced for the NLS program. To order books, contact your braille-lending library.

Note: For the infomation of the reader, a notice may appear immediately following the book description to indicate occurrences of strong language, explicit descriptions of sex, or violence. The word "some" before any of these terms indicates an occasional or infrequent occurence, as in "some strong language."

This page includes Web-Braille links to full-text braille versions of books. Eligible patrons may sign up for Web-Braille through the library that handles their braille magazine subscriptions.


Before the Wind: The Memoir of an American Sea Captain, 1808-1833 BR 12781
by Charles Tyng
3 volumes
Charles Tyng's great-great-granddaughter has edited this memoir of his early seafaring years, tracing his career from a first harrowing voyage to China at age thirteen to his own shipboard command in his early twenties. Tyng recounts his adventures at sea, including shipwrecks, mutinies, and pirate attacks, and in exotic ports worldwide. Some violence. 1999.

From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present BR 12796
by Jacques Barzun
11 volumes
A description of major achievements in Western art, thought, manners, morals, and religion, from the Protestant Reformation to the late twentieth century. Profiles major figures in cultural and social revolutions, including Luther, Cromwell, Mozart, and Rousseau. Explores evidence of what the author views as a decline in Europe and America. 2000.

The Beatles Anthology BR 12804

7 volumes
Chronicle of the innovative English rock group comprised of Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and John Lennon, from their childhoods in Liverpool until their split in 1970. Based largely on a 1994 television documentary series, the book features interviews with the four musicians and their close associates. Some strong language. Bestseller 2000.

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation BR 12931
by Joseph J. Ellis
3 volumes
Author of American Sphinx (RC 44729) explains the importance of a few prominent leaders in the development of democracy after the American Revolution. Describes significant contributions to the new nation made by John Adams, Aaron Burr, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington. Bestseller 2000.

Life's Delicate Balance: Causes and Prevention of Breast Cancer BR 12938
by Janette D. Sherman
3 volumes
Doctor specializing in internal medicine and toxicology discusses various agents--pesticides, industrial chemicals, hormone additives, nuclear radiation, and others--that alter the way cells grow and function. She proposes personal choices and political actions that may reduce the risks of breast cancer and other malignancies. 2000.

Fresh Air Fiend: Travel Writings, 1985-2000 BR 12967
by Paul Theroux
4 volumes
Fifteen years of articles and essays that explore the connections between traveling and writing. Recounts camping trips in Maine and visits to European cities, rivers in Africa and China, and Pacific islands. Includes essays on the author's and others' books and on travel writers such as Bruce Chatwin. Some strong language. 2000.

The Secret Lives of Words BR 12969
by Paul West
3 volumes
A word lover pays homage to some four hundred words and explains their derivation. An entertaining exploration of the "double, multiple identity of words" and their convoluted journey into English. Begins with abacus and proceeds through the alphabet to end with zymurgist. Some strong language. 2000.

Retire Early--and Live the Life You Want Now: A Ten-Step Plan for Reinventing Your Retirement BR 12970
by John F. Wasik
2 volumes
Includes instructions for balancing spending with what is needed for early retirement, structuring an income stream, choosing and setting up a prosperity plan, creating a private utopia, fully funding investment vehicles, retiring early even with kids at home, and making money last as long as you do. 1999.

The Black Room at Longwood: Napoleon's Exile on Saint Helena BR 12982
by Jean-Paul Kauffmann
2 volumes
Describes Napoleon's place of exile and imprisonment from 1815 until his death in 1821, reflecting on the emperor's state of mind and including portions of his diary. Winner of the Prix Femina and a bestseller in France. Translated by Patricia Clancy. 1999. Bestseller 1999.

Opposing Viewpoints in Social Issues BR 13000
edited by William Dudley
4 volumes
Presents debates on gun control, abortion, affirmative action, alcohol, the death penalty, assisted suicide, genetic engineering, and smoking. Each section includes six essays--three supporting and three opposing the topic. For senior high readers. 2000.

Zero G: Life and Survival in Space BR 13264
by Peter Bond
2 volumes
Examines the experiences of some four hundred people who were astronauts or cosmonauts before 1999. Describes their adaptation to the weightless environment of zero gravity, with no sense of "up" or "down." Details the trials and tribulations, dangers, excitement, and monotony that make up space travel. 1999.

Leonardo da Vinci BR 13272
by Sherwin B. Nuland
1 volume
A professor of surgery examines the Renaissance painter, architect, and engineer, focusing on Leonardo's experimental approach to science and especially his studies of anatomy and physiology. Discusses the contention of the artist's homosexuality and interprets the Mona Lisa portrait. Some descriptions of sex. 2000.

The Social Lives of Dogs: The Grace of Canine Company BR 13273
by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
2 volumes
In this sequel to the bestselling The Hidden Life of Dogs (BR 9410) the anthropologist-owner of a multitude of pets continues her observations of their behavior. Theorizes that if canines cannot live only with their own kind, they will establish family relationships with humans and other household pets. 2000.

An Hour before Daylight: Memories of a Rural Boyhood BR 13279
by Jimmy Carter
2 volumes
The thirty-ninth president of the United States reminisces about growing up in rural Georgia during the depression. Traces his family genealogy; examines social mores of the segregated South. Describes his experience of daily life in a small close-knit farming community until his appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. Bestseller 2001.

In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country BR 13284
by Kim Barnes
2 volumes
A poet describes her happy childhood in the Idaho timberlands, where her father was a logger, and her rebellious adolescence after her parents joined a fundamentalist religion. She recalls changes in the environment and in her interior landscape as she matured. Some descriptions of sex and some strong language. 1996.

The Diamond Sutra and The Sutra of Hui-Neng BR 13285
translated by A.F. Price and Mou-lam Wong
2 volumes
The Diamond Sutra, a sacred Buddhist scripture, passed into written format in the fourth century A.D. Price's English translation of the text was made in 1947. In 1929 Wong made the first English translation of The Sutra of Hui-Neng, a T'ang dynasty record of sermons and sayings belonging to the Zen tradition. 1947.

Midnight Salvage: Poems, 1995-1998 BR 13294
by Adrienne Rich
1 volume
A collection of fourteen poems concerning the beauty and fragility of life. In "Modotti," Rich evokes the spirit of Tina Modotti, a political activist, revolutionary, and photographer, with this opening line: "Your footprints of light on sensitive paper..." Some descriptions of sex. 1999.

Open Closed Open: Poems BR 13300
by Yehuda Amichai
2 volumes
This collection of personal and cultural history begins and ends with poems in which Israel's leading poet recounts the story of a fragmented stone engraved with the word "Amen" that lies on his desk. Originally written in Hebrew, these poems were translated by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld. 2000.

The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living BR 13301
by Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler
2 volumes
Following conversations with the Dalai Lama, psychiatrist Cutler presents the Buddhist leader's methods for maintaining happiness. The Dalai Lama believes genuine and lasting inner peace may be attained through trust in the fundamental gentleness and goodness of all human beings, compassion, and a policy of kindness. Bestseller 1998.

It's Never Too Late to Love a Computer: A Friendly First Guide BR 13302
by Abby Stokes
2 volumes
Advises novice computer users on the basics. Covers the parts of a computer (software and hardware), purchasing tips, choosing between the Apple Macintosh and IBM-compatible personal computers (PCs), and experimenting with using e-mail and word processing. Provides a glossary and lists recommended web sites and other resources. 2000.

How to Read and Why BR 13309
by Harold Bloom
2 volumes
Literary critic Bloom presents "samplings" and interpretations of his favorite literary works to affirm the value of engaged reading. Among the authors discussed are short-story masters Turgenev, Hemingway, Borges, and Calvino; poets Whitman, Dickinson, Wordsworth, and Keats; novelists Cervantes, Stendhal, Austen, Proust, Melville, and Pynchon; and playwrights Shakespeare, Ibsen, and Wilde. 2000.

Medicine's Ten Greatest Discoveries BR 13311
by Meyer Friedman and Gerald W. Friedland
3 volumes
Presents ten monumental discoveries that are considered significant in shaping modern medicine. Describes the scientists responsible and others who continued their research as well as the shared traits that made their achievements possible. Includes Edward Jenner and vaccination, Alexander Fleming and antibiotics, and Maurice Wilkins and DNA. 1998.

The Water in Between: A Journey at Sea BR 13312
by Kevin Patterson
3 volumes
Canadian ex-army doctor Patterson recalls a sailing adventure from Vancouver Island to Tahiti with a friend in 1994 and 1995. Describes the four-day gale encountered on his solo return voyage and his fear that a journey meant to distract him from a broken heart might actually end in death. 1999.

The Renaissance: A Short History BR 13319
by Paul Johnson
2 volumes
A brief survey of the Renaissance, including the historic and economic background of the period; its art, literature, and architecture; and its eventual decline. 2000.

Heroes of the Game: True Baseball Stories BR 13324
by Terry Egan and others
1 volume
This companion to The Good Guys of Baseball (BR 12879) highlights nineteen players who exemplify sportsmanship and the love of the game. Includes major leaguer Roberto Clemente, who died on a mercy mission, and Jim Eisenreich, who has Tourette's syndrome. Grade 1 braille. 1992.

Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip across America with Einstein's Brain BR 13332
by Michael Paterniti
2 volumes
As the author chauffeurs Dr. Thomas Harvey and the pickled remains of Einstein's brain from New Jersey to California, he recalls salient facts about the scientific genius, contemplates mysteries of the brain, and ponders the eccentricity of his traveling companion. Some strong language. 2000.

The Sky Is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist BR 13333
by Neil de Grasse Tyson
2 volumes
Memoirs of the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. Describes his deciding at nine to become an astrophysicist and then achieving that goal. Explains Tyson's unique profile not only as a "nerdy kid" and star athlete, but as a black male in America. 2000.

Millionaire: The Philanderer, Gambler, and Duelist Who Invented Modern Finance BR 13338
by Janet Gleeson
2 volumes
Chronicles John Law's Scottish childhood, his years studying economics, and his escape from prison after winning a duel. Recalls his rise to fame for devising the paper currency system of the eighteenth century; explores the impact of Law's financial innovations on banking, credit, and investment practices. 1999.

Virginia Woolf BR 13339
by Nigel Nicolson
1 volume
An affectionate portrait of the British author by a biographer who remembers her from his childhood. Offers Nicolson's interpretation of Woolf's relationship with her half brothers and its effect on her sexuality. Covers her marriage, circle of friends in Bloomsbury, views on feminism, voluminous writings, and intermittent bouts of madness. 2000.

Rosa Parks BR 13342
by Douglas Brinkley
2 volumes
A distinguished historian portrays the woman who became a symbol of freedom by her refusal to give up her Alabama bus seat to a white man in 1955. Brinkley examines her background, what led to her courageous action in the civil rights movement, and the repercussions. 2000.

The Education of Laura Bridgman: First Deaf and Blind Person to Learn Language BR 13354
by Ernest Freeberg
3 volumes
Chronicles the life of Laura Bridgman, who, born into a New Hampshire farm family in 1829, became deaf and blind at the age of two. Freeberg recounts Laura's transformation into a woman who voraciously absorbed the world around her under the tutelage of Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe of the Perkins Institution for the Blind. 2001.

Buddha BR 13356
by Karen Armstrong
2 volumes
A biographical study of the revered religious leader, traditionally thought to have died in India in 483 B.C. Traces the main events of his life, from his renunciation of family through his quest for enlightenment, as evidenced in his teachings. Examines his philosophy for its message to humanity. Bestseller 2001.

Deadlock: The Inside Story of America's Closest Election BR 13378

3 volumes
Washington Post political journalists describe the 2000 presidential election finale in Florida, detailing the counting techniques, legal maneuvers, and the court battle for the state's electoral votes. Explores the decisions that led Gore to pursue recounts and Bush the Supreme Court. Bestseller 2001.

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