The Housing Bomb -- Why Our Addiction to Houses is Destroying the Environment and Threatening Our Society by M. Nils Peterson, Tarla Rai Peterson, and Jianguo Liu, Johns Hopkins UPress '13, $29.95, 224 pages, ASIN #1421410656. Index, notes, no bibliography, b&w images sprinkled through text.
Talk about capturing a reader's attention: In their Introduction, the authors write that "The world is facing a housing bomb that will make the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis look trivial. Public attention focused on this housing bomb has been limited, with much greater emphasis having been placed on the environmental impacts of human population."
The authors quote Paul Ehrlich as bringing the housing bomb concept to the masses in his 1968 book, The Population Bomb, yet he concedes that global collapse has not yet occurred, "although political strife, poverty, and violence have combined with overpopulation to create regional famines...."
"Without realizing how much a contemporary home already contributes to environmental destruction," the authors argue on their dust jacket, "most of us want bigger and bigger houses and dream of the day when we own not just one dwelling but at least the two our neighbor does. We push our children to 'get out on their own' long before they need to, creating a second household where previously one existed.
"We pave and build, demolishing habitat needed by threatened and endangered species, adding to the mounting burden of global climate change, and sucking away resources much better applied to pressing societal needs. 'Reduce, reuse, recycle' is seldom evoked in the housing world, where economists predict financial disasters when 'new housing starts' decline and the idea of renovating inner city residents is regarded as merely a good cause."
About the authors: M. Nils Peterson is an associate professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University. Tarla Rai Peterson teaches wildlife and conservation policy at Texas A&M University and environmental communication at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Jianguo Liu is the Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability at Michigan State University.
Roosevelt's Second Act -- The Election of 1940 and the Politics of War by Richard Moe, Oxford UPress '13, 376 pages, ASIN #0199981914. Index, sources and selected bibliography, notes, appendix, grouping of b&w glossy images.
Teasing his readers on serious subjects, old Washington hand Richard Moe sets up a number of questions for us to answer before going on to answer them himself. Such as....
*"There has been an assumption, then and since, that FDR always intended to run for an unprecedented third term. Is that accurate?"
*"For ten months after Hitler invaded Poland FDR didn't talk with anyone, including Eleanor, about his intentions -- except (Supreme Court) Justice Felix Frankfurter just days before the convention. Why Frankfurter?"
*"Both presidents Roosevelt and Obama have suffered from the 'second-term curse.' What are the similarities, and what lessons can Obama learn from FDR's experience?"
Minnesota native Richard Moe was chief of staff to VP Walter Mondale and a senior advisor to President Jimmy Carter. He was president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation from 1993 until he retired in 2010. He has written two previous books. He and his wife divide their time between Washington and Santa Fe.
Things That Matter -- Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics by Charles Krauthammer, Crown Forum '13, $28, 387 pages, ASIN #0385349173. Index, no notes, bibliography or illustrations.
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Charles Krauthammer writes about what matters to him. Hardly surprising that, but before dismissing him simply as a conservative, the reader should know he's likely to keep his readers guessing about his take on any given issue.
So, what matters to Charles Krauthammer? "The cunning of cats....the innocence of dogs....the finer uses of the F-word....the perfectly thrown outfield assist....the difference between historical guilt and historical responsbility....(and) Is a doctor ever permitted to kill a patient wishing to die?"
In a brief Q&A, Charles Krauthammer discusses the writing of his book with former White House press secretary Dana Perino:
Q. As a long-time fan of yours, there are some of your columns that I remember reading, and where I was when I read it, and how I said to my husband, "That's exactly what I was thinking!" Do you know when a column is going to be a hit?
A. Quite the opposite. I'm always amazed how wrong I am. A column that I think will sink like a stone might catch on like wildfire. Others that I'm proud and smug about as I submit for publication, leave no trace. Which is why I'm a writer, not a publisher. I wasn't made for marketing.
Q. Given the mention in your essay, and because I have a gut feelling that we're on the same page, what is your preferred style on serial commas?
A. With commas the rule should always be: the fewer the better. They are a scourge, a pestilence upon the land. They must be given no quarter. When you list three things, it should be written: a, b and c. If you see a comma after the "b" -- call 911 immediately.
Charles Krauthammer's column is syndicated to 400 newspapers worldwide. He is a panelist on regular TV shows and is a former member of the President's Council on Bioethics. He lives in Chevy Chase, MD.