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|The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth
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Author: Mark Mazzetti
A Pulitzer Prizewinning reporter’s riveting account of the transformation of the CIA and America’s special operations forces into man-hunting and killing machines in the world’s dark spaces: the new American way of war
The most momentous change in American warfare over the past decade has taken place away from the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, in the corners of the world where large armies can’t go. The Way of the Knife is the untold story of that shadow war: a campaign that has blurred the lines between soldiers and spies and lowered the bar for waging war across the globe. America has pursued its enemies with killer drones and special operations troops; trained privateers for assassination missions and used them to set up clandestine spying networks; and relied on mercurial dictators, untrustworthy foreign intelligence services, and proxy armies.
This new approach to war has been embraced by Washington as a lower risk, lower cost alternative to the messy wars of occupation and has been championed as a clean and surgical way of conflict. But the knife has created enemies just as it has killed them. It has fomented resentments among allies, fueled instability, and created new weapons unbound by the normal rules of accountability during wartime.
Mark Mazzetti tracks an astonishing cast of characters on the ground in the shadow war, from a CIA officer dropped into the tribal areas to learn the hard way how the spy games in Pakistan are played to the chain-smoking Pentagon official running an off-the-books spy operation, from a Virginia socialite whom the Pentagon hired to gather intelligence about militants in Somalia to a CIA contractor imprisoned in Lahore after going off the leash.
At the heart of the book is the story of two proud and rival entities, the CIA and the American military, elbowing each other for supremacy. Sometimes, as with the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, their efforts have been perfectly coordinated. Other times, including the failed operations disclosed here for the first time, they have not. For better or worse, their struggles will define American national security in the years to come.
|Country Girl: A Memoir
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Author: Edna O'Brien
In 1960, Edna O'Brien published The Country Girls, her first novel, which so scandalized the O'Briens' local parish that the book was burned by its priest. O'Brien, married with two sons, was undeterred and has since created a body of work that bears comparison with the best writing of the twentieth century. Country Girl brings us face to face with a life of high drama and contemplation. It is a rich and heady accounting of the events, people, emotions, and landscape that imprint upon and enliven one lifetime.
Starting with O'Brien's birth in a grand but deteriorating house in Ireland, her story moves through convent school to elopement, divorce, single-motherhood, the wild parties of the '60s in London, and encounters with Hollywood giants, pop stars, and literary titans. There is love and unrequited love, and the glamour of trips to America as an acclaimed writer hosted by Jackie Onassis and Hillary Clinton. Brilliant and sensuous, Country Girl is a book we are fortunate that Edna O'Brien decided to write.
|The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II
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Author: Denise Kiernan
Now a New York Times Bestseller!
THE GIRLS OF ATOMIC CITY
AT THE HEIGHT OF WORLD WAR II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was home to 75,000 residents, consuming more electricity than New York City. But to most of the world, the town did not exist. Thousands of civilians--many of them young women from small towns across the South--were recruited to this secret city, enticed by solid wages and the promise of war-ending work. Kept very much in the dark, few would ever guess the true nature of the tasks they performed each day in the hulking factories in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains. That is, until the end of the war--when Oak Ridge's secret was revealed.
Drawing on the voices of the women who lived it--women who are now in their eighties and nineties-- The Girls of Atomic City rescues a remarkable, forgotten chapter of American history from obscurity. Denise Kiernan captures the spirit of the times through these women: their pluck, their desire to contribute, and their enduring courage. Combining the grand-scale human drama of The Worst Hard Time with the intimate biography and often troubling science of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The Girls of Atomic City is a lasting and important addition to our country's history.
As heard on National Public Radio's Weekend Edition.
One of Goodreads' Most Popular Books of March 2013.
One of Amazon's Editors' Picks for Best Books of the Month (History)
One of Amazon's Editors' Picks for Best Books of the Month (Nonfiction)
One of Amazon's Big Spring Books (History)
A Note from Denise Kiernan, Author of The Girls of Atomic City
Most of us have grown up with the humbling power of the atomic bomb looming somewhere in our collective consciousness. We are at least familiar with the phrase "Manhattan Project," even if we know little of the history behind that World War II effort to make the world's first nuclear weapon. Los Alamos. Oppenheimer. Fermi. Groves. These names may ring a bell, if only a distant one. The story of the Manhattan Project is often discussed from the perspective of high-profile scientific minds and decision-makers.
A black-and-white photo of young women monitoring gigantic panels covered in knobs and dials both altered my view of this story and inspired me to write The Girls of Atomic City. I was struck by the youth of these women, the size of the room, the unfamiliar technology. They did not know they were enriching uranium and would not know until a bomb detonated above Hiroshima. What were they thinking? What did the Manhattan Project look like through their eyes? I had my way in. I tracked down everyone I could who had worked on the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, during World War II.
I entered a top-secret compound, one that straddled two worlds: that which existed before and that which followed the dawn of the nuclear age. Octogenarians as my trusted guides, I found not only fission and cyclotrons, but rations and dances. The satisfaction of doing one's part mixed with the anxiety of wartime. It was a world of pioneering spirit and propaganda, of scientific gains and personal loss. Loved ones were far away, deadlines and informants lurking much nearer. There was always waiting: for news, for cigarettes, for letters, for the end of the war. When that end came, it was a relief and a shock. Secrets were revealed, others still remain.
I hope readers will be as fascinated by this moment in time as I was, as I still am.
Young female cubicle operators monitor the activity of the calutrons, the heart of the uranium electromagnetic separation process at the Y-12 plant. Courtesy of Ed Westcott
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Housing options included dorms and prefab homes, but also hutments and trailers, like those pictured here. Courtesy of Ed Westcott
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Billboards and posters extolling patriotism and discretion were found throughout the United States during World War II. Images throughout Oak Ridge reminded residents to work hard and keep quiet about what went on inside their fences. Courtesy of Ed Westcott
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Young women exit their dorm to celebrate the end of World War II. Courtesy of Ed Westcott
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|The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
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Author: Rebecca Skloot
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.
Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.
Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia—a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo—to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.
Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family—past and present—is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.
Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family—especially Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother’s cells. She was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space? What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance?
Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences.
Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2010: From a single, abbreviated life grew a seemingly immortal line of cells that made some of the most crucial innovations in modern science possible. And from that same life, and those cells, Rebecca Skloot has fashioned in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks a fascinating and moving story of medicine and family, of how life is sustained in laboratories and in memory. Henrietta Lacks was a mother of five in Baltimore, a poor African American migrant from the tobacco farms of Virginia, who died from a cruelly aggressive cancer at the age of 30 in 1951. A sample of her cancerous tissue, taken without her knowledge or consent, as was the custom then, turned out to provide one of the holy grails of mid-century biology: human cells that could survive--even thrive--in the lab. Known as HeLa cells, their stunning potency gave scientists a building block for countless breakthroughs, beginning with the cure for polio. Meanwhile, Henrietta's family continued to live in poverty and frequently poor health, and their discovery decades later of her unknowing contribution--and her cells' strange survival--left them full of pride, anger, and suspicion. For a decade, Skloot doggedly but compassionately gathered the threads of these stories, slowly gaining the trust of the family while helping them learn the truth about Henrietta, and with their aid she tells a rich and haunting story that asks the questions, Who owns our bodies? And who carries our memories? --Tom Nissley
Amazon Exclusive: Jad Abumrad Reviews The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Jad Abumrad is host and creator of the public radio hit Radiolab, now in its seventh season and reaching over a million people monthly. Radiolab combines cutting-edge production with a philosophical approach to big ideas in science and beyond, and an inventive method of storytelling. Abumrad has won numerous awards, including a National Headliner Award in Radio and an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science Journalism Award. Read his exclusive Amazon guest review of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks:
Honestly, I can't imagine a better tale.
A detective story that's at once mythically large and painfully intimate.
Just the simple facts are hard to believe: that in 1951, a poor black woman named Henrietta Lacks dies of cervical cancer, but pieces of the tumor that killed her--taken without her knowledge or consent--live on, first in one lab, then in hundreds, then thousands, then in giant factories churning out polio vaccines, then aboard rocket ships launched into space. The cells from this one tumor would spawn a multi-billion dollar industry and become a foundation of modern science--leading to breakthroughs in gene mapping, cloning and fertility and helping to discover how viruses work and how cancer develops (among a million other things). All of which is to say: the science end of this story is enough to blow one's mind right out of one's face.
But what's truly remarkable about Rebecca Skloot's book is that we also get the rest of the story, the part that could have easily remained hidden had she not spent ten years unearthing it: Who was Henrietta Lacks? How did she live? How she did die? Did her family know that she'd become, in some sense, immortal, and how did that affect them? These are crucial questions, because science should never forget the people who gave it life. And so, what unfolds is not only a reporting tour de force but also a very entertaining account of Henrietta, her ancestors, her cells and the scientists who grew them.
The book ultimately channels its journey of discovery though Henrietta's youngest daughter, Deborah, who never knew her mother, and who dreamt of one day being a scientist.
As Deborah Lacks and Skloot search for answers, we're bounced effortlessly from the tiny tobacco-farming Virginia hamlet of Henrietta's childhood to modern-day Baltimore, where Henrietta's family remains. Along the way, a series of unforgettable juxtapositions: cell culturing bumps into faith healings, cutting edge medicine collides with the dark truth that Henrietta's family can't afford the health insurance to care for diseases their mother's cells have helped to cure.
Rebecca Skloot tells the story with great sensitivity, urgency and, in the end, damn fine writing. I highly recommend this book. --Jad Abumrad
Look Inside The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Click on thumbnails for larger images
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|Henrietta and David Lacks, circa 1945. ||Elsie Lacks, Henrietta’s older daughter, about five years before she was committed to Crownsville State Hospital, with a diagnosis of “idiocy.” ||Deborah Lacks at about age four. ||The home-house where Henrietta was raised, a four-room log cabin in Clover, Virginia, that once served as slave quarters. (1999) ||Main Street in downtown Clover, Virginia, where Henrietta was raised, circa 1930s. |
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|Margaret Gey and Minnie, a lab technician, in the Gey lab at Hopkins, circa 1951. ||Deborah with her children, LaTonya and Alfred, and her second husband, James Pullum, in the mid-1980s. ||In 2001, Deborah developed a severe case of hives after learning upsetting new information about her mother and sister. ||Deborah and her cousin Gary Lacks standing in front of drying tobacco, 2001. ||The Lacks family in 2009. |
- New York Times Bestseller
|The Last Battle: When U.S. and German Soldiers Joined Forces in the Waning Hours of World War II in Europe
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Author: Stephen Harding
May 1945. Hitler is dead, and the Third Reich little more than smoking rubble. No GI wants to be the last man killed in action against the Nazis. But for cigar-chewing, rough-talking, hard-drinking, hard-charging Captain Jack Lee and his men, there is one more mission: rescue fourteen prominent French prisoners held in an SS-guarded castle high in the Austrian Alps. It’s a dangerous mission, but Lee has help from a decorated German Wehrmacht officer and his men, who voluntarily join the fight.
Based on personal memoirs, author interviews, and official American, German, and French histories, The Last Battle is the nearly unbelievable story of the most improbable battle of World War II—a tale of unlikely allies, bravery, cowardice, and desperate combat between implacable enemies.
|Trident K9 Warriors: My Tale from the Training Ground to the Battlefield with Elite Navy SEAL Canines
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Author: Michael Ritland
As Seen on "60 Minutes"!
As a Navy SEAL during a combat deployment in Iraq, Mike Ritland saw a military working dog in action and instantly knew he’d found his true calling. Ritland started his own company training and supplying dogs for the SEAL teams, U.S. Government, and Department of Defense. He knew that fewer than 1 percent of all working dogs had what it takes to contribute to the success of our nation’s elite combat units, and began searching the globe for animals who fit this specific profile. These specialized canines had to pass rigorous selection tests before their serious training could begin.
The results were a revelation: highly trained working dogs capable of handling both detection and apprehension work in the most extreme environments and the tensest of battlefield conditions. Though fiercely aggressive and athletic, these dogs develop a close bond with the handlers they work side by side with and the other team members. Truly integrating themselves into their units, these K9 warriors are much like their human counterparts—unwavering in their devotion to duty, strong enough and tough enough to take it to the enemy through pain, injury, or fear.
For the first time ever, Trident K9 Warriors gives readers an inside look at these elite canines—who they are, how they are trained, and the extreme missions they undertake saving countless lives, asking for little in the way of reward. From detecting explosives to eliminating the bad guys, these powerful dogs are also some of the smartest and most highly skilled working animals on the planet.
|Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West
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Author: Blaine Harden
The heartwrenching New York Times bestseller about the only known person born inside a North Korean prison camp to have escaped
North Korea’s political prison camps have existed twice as long as Stalin’s Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. No one born and raised in these camps is known to have escaped. No one, that is, except Shin Dong-hyuk.
In Escape From Camp 14, Blaine Harden unlocks the secrets of the world’s most repressive totalitarian state through the story of Shin’s shocking imprisonment and his astounding getaway. Shin knew nothing of civilized existence—he saw his mother as a competitor for food, guards raised him to be a snitch, and he witnessed the execution of his mother and brother.
The late “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il was recognized throughout the world, but his country remains sealed as his third son and chosen heir, Kim Jong Eun, consolidates power. Few foreigners are allowed in, and few North Koreans are able to leave. North Korea is hungry, bankrupt, and armed with nuclear weapons. It is also a human rights catastrophe. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people work as slaves in its political prison camps. These camps are clearly visible in satellite photographs, yet North Korea’s government denies they exist.
Harden’s harrowing narrative exposes this hidden dystopia, focusing on an extraordinary young man who came of age inside the highest security prison in the highest security state. Escape from Camp 14 offers an unequalled inside account of one of the world’s darkest nations. It is a tale of endurance and courage, survival and hope.
|Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever
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Author: Bill O'Reilly
A riveting historical narrative of the heart-stopping events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and the first work of history from mega-bestselling author Bill O'Reilly
The anchor of The O'Reilly Factor recounts one of the most dramatic stories in American history—how one gunshot changed the country forever. In the spring of 1865, the bloody saga of America's Civil War finally comes to an end after a series of increasingly harrowing battles. President Abraham Lincoln's generous terms for Robert E. Lee's surrender are devised to fulfill Lincoln's dream of healing a divided nation, with the former Confederates allowed to reintegrate into American society. But one man and his band of murderous accomplices, perhaps reaching into the highest ranks of the U.S. government, are not appeased.
In the midst of the patriotic celebrations in Washington D.C., John Wilkes Booth—charismatic ladies' man and impenitent racist—murders Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre. A furious manhunt ensues and Booth immediately becomes the country's most wanted fugitive. Lafayette C. Baker, a smart but shifty New York detective and former Union spy, unravels the string of clues leading to Booth, while federal forces track his accomplices. The thrilling chase ends in a fiery shootout and a series of court-ordered executions—including that of the first woman ever executed by the U.S. government, Mary Surratt. Featuring some of history's most remarkable figures, vivid detail, and page-turning action, Killing Lincoln is history that reads like a thriller.
- HardCover Novel
- Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
|Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42
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Author: William Dalrymple
From William Dalrymple—award-winning historian, journalist and travel writer—a masterly retelling of what was perhaps the West’s greatest imperial disaster in the East, and an important parable of neocolonial ambition, folly and hubris that has striking relevance to our own time.
With access to newly discovered primary sources from archives in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia and India—including a series of previously untranslated Afghan epic poems and biographies—the author gives us the most immediate and comprehensive account yet of the spectacular first battle for Afghanistan: the British invasion of the remote kingdom in 1839. Led by lancers in scarlet cloaks and plumed helmets, and facing little resistance, nearly 20,000 British and East India Company troops poured through the mountain passes from India into Afghanistan in order to reestablish Shah Shuja ul-Mulk on the throne, and as their puppet. But after little more than two years, the Afghans rose in answer to the call for jihad and the country exploded into rebellion. This First Anglo-Afghan War ended with an entire army of what was then the most powerful military nation in the world ambushed and destroyed in snowbound mountain passes by simply equipped Afghan tribesmen. Only one British man made it through.
But Dalrymple takes us beyond the bare outline of this infamous battle, and with penetrating, balanced insight illuminates the uncanny similarities between the West’s first disastrous entanglement with Afghanistan and the situation today. He delineates the straightforward facts: Shah Shuja and President Hamid Karzai share the same tribal heritage; the Shah’s principal opponents were the Ghilzai tribe, who today make up the bulk of the Taliban’s foot soldiers; the same cities garrisoned by the British are today garrisoned by foreign troops, attacked from the same rings of hills and high passes from which the British faced attack. Dalryrmple also makes clear the byzantine complexity of Afghanistan’s age-old tribal rivalries, the stranglehold they have on the politics of the nation and the ways in which they ensnared both the British in the nineteenth century and NATO forces in the twenty-first.
Informed by the author’s decades-long firsthand knowledge of Afghanistan, and superbly shaped by his hallmark gifts as a narrative historian and his singular eye for the evocation of place and culture, The Return of a King is both the definitive analysis of the First Anglo-Afghan War and a work of stunning topicality.
|Man's Search for Meaning
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Author: Viktor E. Frankl
Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of those he treated in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl's theory—known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos ("meaning")—holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.
At the time of Frankl's death in 1997, Man's Search for Meaning had sold more than 10 million copies in twenty-four languages. A 1991 reader survey by the Library of Congress and the Book-of-the-Month Club that asked readers to name a "book that made a difference in your life" found Man's Search for Meaning among the ten most influential books in America.
Born in Vienna in 1905 Viktor E. Frankl earned an M.D. and a Ph.D. from the University of Vienna. He published more than thirty books on theoretical and clinical psychology and served as a visiting professor and lecturer at Harvard, Stanford, and elsewhere. In 1977 a fellow survivor, Joseph Fabry, founded the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy. Frankl died in 1997.
Harold S. Kushner is rabbi emeritus at Temple Israel in Natick, Massachusetts, and the author of several best-selling books, including When Bad Things Happen to Good People.
William J. Winslade is a philosopher, lawyer, and psychoanalyst at the University of Texas Medical School in Galveston.
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl is among the most influential works of psychiatric literature since Freud. The book begins with a lengthy, austere, and deeply moving personal essay about Frankl's imprisonment in Auschwitz and other concentration camps for five years, and his struggle during this time to find reasons to live. The second part of the book, called "Logotherapy in a Nutshell," describes the psychotherapeutic method that Frankl pioneered as a result of his experiences in the concentration camps. Freud believed that sexual instincts and urges were the driving force of humanity's life; Frankl, by contrast, believes that man's deepest desire is to search for meaning and purpose. Frankl's logotherapy, therefore, is much more compatible with Western religions than Freudian psychotherapy. This is a fascinating, sophisticated, and very human book. At times, Frankl's personal and professional discourses merge into a style of tremendous power. "Our generation is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is," Frankl writes. "After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord's Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips."
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