MAMA’S LAST HUG: animal emotions & what they tell us about ourselves by Franz De Waal

April 16th, 2019 by Goshen Public Library No comments »

Franz De Waal has spent four decades at the forefront of animal research.  Following up on the best-selling Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?, which investigated animal intelligence, Mama’s Last Hug delivers a fascinating exploration of the rich emotional lives of animals.

Mama’s Last Hug begins with the death of Mama, a chimpanzee monarch who formed a deep bond with biologist Jan van Hooff.  When Mama was dying, van Hooff took the unusual step of visiting her in her night cage for a last hug.  Their goodbyes were filmed & went viral.  Millions of people were deeply moved by the way Mama embraced the professor, welcoming him with a big smile while reassuring him by patting his neck, in a gesture often considered typically human but that is in fact common to all primates.  This story & others like it form the core of de Waal’s argument , showing that humans are not the only species with the capacity for love, hate, fear, shame, guilt, joy disgust, & empathy.

De Waal discusses facial expressions, the emotions behind human politics, the illusion of free will, animal sentience, &, of course, Mama’s life & death.  The message is one of continuity between us & other species, such as the radical proposal that emotions are like organs: we don’t have a single organ that other animals don’t have, & the same is true for our emotions.  Mama’s Last Hug opens our hearts & minds to the many ways in which humans & other animals are connected, transforming how we view the living world around us.

GPL:  599.885 WAAL


March 29th, 2019 by Goshen Public Library No comments »

From neuroscientist and the New York Times best selling author of Still Alice, Lisa Genova, comes a powerful exploration of regret, forgiveness, freedom, & what it means to be alive.

An accomplished concert pianist, Richard received standing ovations from audiences all over the world in awe of his rare combination of emotional resonance & flawless technique.  Richard now has ALS, & his entire right arm is paralyzed.  The loss of his hand feels like a death, a loss of true love, a divorce—his divorce.  Three years ago, Karina removed their framed wedding picture from the living room wall & hung a mirror there instead.  When Richard becomes increasingly paralyzed & is no longer able to live on his own, Karina becomes his reluctant caretaker.

Poignant & powerful, Every Note Played is a masterful exploration of redemption & what it means to find peace inside of forgiveness.

GPL: F Genova



In Extremis: The Life & Death of the War Correspondent Marie Colvin-by Lindsey Hilsum

March 15th, 2019 by Goshen Public Library No comments »

Lindsey Hillum’s  In Extremis is a devastating & revelatory biography of one of the greatest war correspondents of her generation.

Marie Colvin lost the sight in one eye while in Sri Lanka covering the civil war.  She interviewed Gaddafi & Arafat many times, repeatedly risked her life covering conflicts in Chechnya, East Timor, Kosovo, & the Middle East.  Colvin lived her personal life in extremis, too:  bold, driven & complex, she was married twice, took many lovers, drank & smoked, & rejected society’s expectations for women.  Despite PTSD, she refused to give up reporting. Like her hero, Martha Gellhorn, Colvin was committed to bearing witness to the horrifying truths of war, & to shining a light on the profound suffering of ordinary people caught in the midst of conflict.  When Marie Colvin was killed in an artillery attack in Homs, Syria, in 2012, at age 56, the world lost a fearless & iconoclastic war correspondent who covered the most significant global calamities of her time.



THE LONG JOURNEYS HOME: the repatriations of Henry Opukaha ia and Albert Afraid of Hawk by Nick Bellantoni

February 15th, 2019 by Goshen Public Library No comments »

Henry Opukaha ia (ca. 1792–1818), Native Hawaiian, and Itankusun Wanbli (ca. 1879–1900), Oglala Lakota, lived almost a century apart. Yet the cultural circumstances that led them to leave their homelands and eventually die in Connecticut have striking similarities.Opukaha ia was orphaned during the turmoil caused in part by Kamehameha’s wars in Hawai’i and found passage on a ship to New England, where he was introduced and converted to Christianity, becoming the inspiration behind the first Christian missions to Hawai’i. Itankusun Wanbli, Christianized as Albert Afraid of Hawk, performed in Buffalo Bill’s “Wild West” as a way to make a living after his traditional means of sustenance were impacted by American expansionism. Both young men died while on their “journeys” to find fulfillment and both were buried in Connecticut cemeteries. In 1992 and 2008, descendant women had callings that their ancestors “wanted to come home” and began the repatriation process of their physical remains. CT state archaeologist Nick Bellantoni oversaw the archaeological disinterment, forensic identifications and return of their skeletal remains back to their Native communities and families. The Long Journeys Home chronicles these important stories as examples of the wide-reaching impact of American imperialism and colonialism on Indigenous Hawaiian and Lakota traditions and their cultural resurgences, in which the repatriation of these young men have played significant roles. Bellantoni’s excavations, his interaction with two Native families and his participation in their repatriations have given him unique insights into the importance of heritage and family among contemporary Native communities and their common ground with archaeologists. His natural storytelling abilities allow him to share these meaningful stories with a larger general audience.

GPL: 920 Bellanto

THE FEATHER THIEF by Kirk Wallace Johnson

February 1st, 2019 by Goshen Public Library No comments »

 The Feather Thief has a subtitle:  Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century.  

On a cool June evening in 2009, after performing a concert at London’s Royal Academy of Music,twenty-year-old American flautist Edwin Rist boarded a train for a suburban outpost of the British Museum of Natural History.  Home to one of the largest ornithological collections in the world, the Tring museum was full of of rare bird specimens whose gorgeous feathers were worth staggering amounts of money to the men who shared Edwin’s obsession:  the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying.  Once inside the museum, the champion fly-tier grabbed hundreds of bird skins—some collected 150 years earlier by a contemporary of Darwin’s, Alfred Russel Wallace, who’d risked everything to gather them.

Two years later, Kirk Wallace Johnson was waist-high in a river in northern New Mexico when his fly-fishing guide told him about the heist.  He was soon consumed by the strange case of the feather thief.  In his search for answers, Johnson was catapulted into a years-long, worldwide investigation.  The gripping story of a bizarre & shocking crime, & one man’s restless pursuit of justice, The Feather Thief is also a fascinating exploration of osession, & a man’s destructive instinct to harvest the beauty of nature.

Man is seldom content to witness beauty.  He must possess it.  –Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea 1979

GPL: 364.162 Johnson