Monday, March 28, 2016

Some old books, some new books...

Sometimes you’re in the mood to pull an old book off the library shelf as well as a new book. Here are a few “oldies but goodies” along with a new book to see you through until spring brings all things new.
History of the Finns in Michigan by Armas K. E. Holmio, 2001
After living with Finns and joking about them since I was a kid, I thought it was time to learn about their history. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was a major destination for Finns during the peak years of immigration in the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century. Originally published in Finnish in 1967, translator Ellen M. Ryynanen brings the story of the contribution of Finnish immigrants into the mainstream of Michigan history. Holmio (1897-1977), a Finnish immigrant, was pastor of the Lutheran Church of America and a professor of history at Suomi College and Theological Seminary. He introduces the people of Finland and traces Finnish immigration. Holmio then covers particular communities within each major region where Finns lived and worked. He has separate chapters on churches, temperance societies, labor, cooperatives, and the Kaleva lodge. He goes on to describe cultural activities, parishes, and provides biographical sketches. Holmio relates the history of Finns in Michigan to the larger picture of the Finnish experience in America.

River God: A Novel of Ancient Egypt by Wilbur Smith, 1994
Two thousand years B.C., the ancient heartland of the Nile kings stood torn and bleeding from constant civil war. Drained of gold and of the blood of its young men, the legacy of eleven sovereign Pharaohs is thrown to the winds of the desert as weak men inherit the crown. On the eve of the feast of Osiris, the loyal subjects of the Pharaoh of Upper Egypt gather in Thebes to pay homage to their leader. Among them is Taita, a eunuch slave to the Lord Intef and someone blessed with extraordinary gifts.

While others salute the triumphal passage of the royal barge, Taita, clever and scheming, can see only the icon of a kingdom’s fading glory. Beside him stand his protégés: Lady Lostris, the Lord Intef’s daughter, beautiful beyond her fourteen years; and Tanus, proud young army officer, who has vowed to avenge his father’s death and seize Lostris as his prize.

From Thebes to the mountains of Abyssinia, from the legend of the Blue Sword to the epic battle against the mighty Hyksos army, comes the magnificent, richly detailed saga of their triumphs and destinies. Exploding with all the passion and rage of a long ago time, “River God” is a fine example of historical writing, a story that won’t let you go. If you like this book, check out some of the many other books Smith has written.

Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family by Nicholas Pileggi, 1985 
Wiseguy aims a penetrating spotlight upon the inner workings of organized crime in America. “Wiseguy” takes readers behind the headlines, from the seductive glitter of casinos where everything is for sale, to the sleazy bars and after hour clubs where the cheapest thing on display is human life. “Wiseguy” tells the life story of Henry Hill, a career criminal who literally grew up in the mob. Often in Hill’s own words, readers are swept into the day-to-day workings of a life of crime. The truth about the Lofthansa heist--and the ten murders which followed-- to the inside story of the Sindona case—which nearly caused the collapse of the Vatican Bank—as well as the Boston College point-shaving scandal and countless other infamous crimes, is brought to life by a major player in the deadly high-stakes game some people call the Mafia. Readers are taken inside the inner workings of organized crime, a trip made possible through the investigative skills of the author and the cooperation of one of the criminals. “Wiseguy” is a firsthand account of a secret world, more brutal and more fascinating than many novels that glamorize the Mafia. “Wiseguy” is based on the testimony of a man who has seen and done it all.

Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters who Pulled Off the World’s Greatest Art Heist
by Stephen A. Kurkjian, 2015
In a secret meeting in 1981, a low level Boston thief gave career gangster Ralph Rossetti the tip of a lifetime: the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum was a big score waiting to happen. Though its collections included priceless artworks by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas, and others, its security was cheap, mismanaged, and out-of-date. And now it seemed the whole Boston criminal underworld knew it. Nearly a decade passed before the museum was finally hit. But when it finally happened, the theft quickly became one of the most infamous art heists in history. Thirteen works of art valued up to five hundred million dollars, by some of the most famous artists in the world, were taken. The Boston FBI took control of the investigation, but twenty-five years later the case is still unsolved and the artwork is still missing.

Stephen Kurkjian, one of the top investigative reporters in the country, has been working this case for nearly twenty-five years. In “Master Thieves”, he sheds new light on some of the Gardner’s most curious mysteries. Why would someone steal these paintings only to leave them hidden for twenty-five years? And why, if one of the top crime bosses in the city knew about the score in 1981, did the theft happen in 1990? What happened in the intervening years? And what might all this have to do with Boston’s notorious gang wars of the 1980s?

Visit your local library for books that satisfy your curiosity. The reference staff is very happy to help you find what you want.

 --by Stan Peterson, Maintenance Service Coordinator

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