Last Update 2/13/20

The Global Vampire edited by Cait Coker, McFarland, 2020, $39.95, ISBN 978-1-4766-7594-7

A collection of essays about the vampire in popular culture. Like most of these collections of academic essays, the writing varies from entertaining to awkward. They are generally more interesting than one might expect, given how much attention has been paid to vampire fiction in recent years, but these are designed to look at how different parts of the world and different cultures treat the phenomenon. The focus is on movies rather than literature, which I found disappointing, and Asian vampirism is not examined in any depth. Worth reading, but perhaps given the price you might urge your local library to acquire it. 2/13/20

Northern New England by W.D. Wetherell, Smithsonian, 1995 

Another guide to fauna and flora, with details about state parks and other scenic areas. This one deals with Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire, so I had actually visited some of the places that are mentioned. The color plates are the main attraction as usual, and there are also useful maps and directions, This is more than twenty years old, so some of the information is outdated. For example, they assume that the Old Man of the Mountain in New Hampshire is still there, but it collapsed a couple of years ago. 1/21/20

The Technique of the Mystery Story by Carolyn Wells, 1913

As Wells was embarking on her career as a mystery writer - over eighty novels - she wrote this often interesting discussion of the recent history and various aspects of the mystery story. Even then she was able to identify several elements as overdone - locked rooms, secret passages, etc. - and suggested writers should avoid them in the future. As it happens, she disregarded her own device and these became standard elements in her own detective novels. Some of her observations are amusing - detectives must be from the wealthy, educated class for example. Quite readable, and she mentions a few novels I've added to my want list. 1/16/20

Hitlerís American Friends by Bradley W. Hart, Thomas Dunne, 2018

We tend to forget that there was a good deal of support for Hitler in the US during the 1930s. Antisemitism was rampant and isolationism was a powerful political force. The book examines different aspects of it, including German clubs and organizations, suborned members of Congress who were actually taking money from the German government, business people like Henry Ford who considered himself a personal friend of Hitler, talk show hosts like Father Coughlin, spies and propagandists working out of the German embassy, student protest movements, and so on. There was even an abortive effort backed by some bankers to overthrow Rooseveltís government and set up a fascist state. Not to mention German attempts to manipulate voters to defeat his bid for re-election. A lot of things in the narrative are very similar to things happening in our political struggles to day, frighteningly so. 1/8/20

The Southern Rockies by Susan Lamb, Smithsonian, 1995  

One of a series of guides to the natural world in selected parts of the US, profusely illustrated with full color photographs and a few drawings, with text describing the wildlife and geographic features. Much of the book is devoted to describing the various national and state parks that you can visit in the area, although the current administrationís plans to sell much of this land to be developed may make some of it outdated.  The text is largely interesting, but sometimes too much of a travel guide and less descriptive. 1/3/20