Seeds of American Revolution Literally Planted in the Ground

FOUNDING GARDENERS: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation. By Andrea Wulf. Knopf, March 29, 2011. 352 pages. $30, hardcover.

At first glance this book, with its lovely old-style sketches of such flowers as Rhododendron maximum and Kalmia angustifolia, gives you the notion it would make the ideal gift for someone who knows her forsythia from Scotch broom. But the moment you start reading Founding Gardeners by Andrea Wulf (Knopf, $30), you realize something groundbreaking is going on — pun intended.

Down the Stretch, With No Relievers

The Greatest Game Ever Pitched:> Juan Marichal, Warren Spahn and the Pitching Dual of the Century, by Jim Kaplan, Triumph Books, Chicago, IL, 2011, 203 pages $24.95.

Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California, July 2,1963. Two future Hall of Fame pitchers, one at the end of a stunning career, the other at the beginning. Giants versus Braves. Sixteen innings. No relievers.

The Lovely Practice of Being Present

“Never put anyone out of your heart,” the late Hindu holy man Neem Karoli Baba told his disciples, among them writer, lecturer, and holy man in his own right, Ram Dass, and his friend, regular travel buddy, writer and photographer, Rameshwar Das. These two men share many affinities, among them a decades-long passion for Eastern philosophy coupled with an ability to purvey these ideas to a similarly fascinated American public.

My Side of the Car, Room Enough for All

MY SIDE OF THE CAR. By Kate Feiffer, illustrated by Jules Feiffer. Candlewick Press. Somerville. April 2011. 32 pages, illustrations. $16.99 hardcover.

In their new book My Side of the Car, author and Oak Bluffs resident Kate Feiffer and her father, Pulitzer Prize and Oscar-winning illustrator Jules Feiffer, hand the reader the quintessential and timeless story of the father-daughter relationship. Written with the purity of childhood memories and illustrated with graceful humor, the Feiffers have hit the nail right on the head.

Take a Hike, With Pleasure


WALKINGS TRAIL OF MARTHA’S VINEYARD: The Comprehensive Pocket Guide to Island Trails, William Flender, Fourth Edition, Vineyard Conservation Society, Martha’s Vineyard, MA, 2010, $14.95, 117 PAGES.

A weatherproof, pocket-sized, fully-loaded guide to the Island’s walking trails. What a concept! It is such a good idea that the Vineyard Conservation Society has just published its fourth edition of Walking Trails of Martha’s Vineyard by William Flender.

At Sea with Captain Joshua Slocum

The Hard Way Around> , by Geoffrey Wolff. Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. 218 pages. Hardback, $25.95

A confession: I love sea stories, but until a few weeks ago, I had never read one of the great, true-life adventure books ever written — Sailing Alone Around the World, by Capt. Joshua Slocum, originally of Nova Scotia and at the end of his life from a farm he called Fag End in West Tisbury.

Exploring Roots by Way of the Stomach

HIGH ON THE HOG: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America. By Jessica B. Harris. Bloomsbury, January 2011. 304 pages, photographs. $26, hardcover.

It amazes new students of ar chaeology that the most essential insights into a bygone community may be found in the humble section of rubble called the kitchen midden. It’s here that broken plate ware is examined, along with iron pots and pans and broken ceramic jars containing trace elements of oil from which experts reassemble the daily fabric of a past society’s life.

Vineyard Bookshelf

BUSING BREWSTER: By Richard Michelson, illustrated by R.G. Roth, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, N.Y. 2010. $16.99, hardcover.


No Mercy for Victims is Pure Pleasure for Fairstein’s Fans

To us Islanders Linda Fairstein is, first and foremost, one of our best known summer Chilmark residents. To the rest of the world, she’s the best-selling author of the Alexander Cooper series, featuring Assistant D.A. Cooper of the Special Victims Unit in Manhattan.

In actual life Ms. Fairstein served as the Assistant D.A. in the Special Victims Unit in Manhattan. So when her fictional character files a particular brief or points out that it’s a point of law that the public is entitled to attend a court hearing she knows whereof she speaks.

Fleshing Out the Softer Side of Iago

No contest, Iago, the evil genius of William Shakespeare’s Othello, is the most brutal villain in any of the bard’s productions. The play was first presented in 1604 during what literary historians have deemed Shakespeare’s period of despair, when the struggle for good and evil in the human soul preoccupied him.

But what made Iago so ruthless yet so ostensibly above-reproach that he could win a loving and well-bred wife like Emilia and the trust and promotion of a great general such as Othello?