Victura -- The Kennedys, a Sailboat, and the Sea by James W. Graham, ForeEdge (an imprint of University Press of New England) '14, $25, 265 pages, ASIN #1611684110. Index, notes, no bibliography, grouping of b&w glossy images.
A brief excerpt from Chapter 4:
"There are times and places in history where circumstances converge and human chemistry is just right to create something extraordinary. Hyannis Port in the 1930s was not Gertrude Stein's apartment in 1920s Paris, nor was it Liverpool in the late 1950s when the Beatles formed a band.
"The Kennedys were just children summering by a seashore. But given what grew out of that time and the turns of fate to come in the years right afterward, something was at work then to influence what they thought about, what their aspirations would be, what motivated them. They would later say it was parental influence, and perhaps so. It must also have been sibling influence.
"As a place, Hyannis Port, its windswept waters, and its sailboats have remained a Kennedy touchstone ever since. Year after year, as pages turned on extraordinary family chapters, heroic and tragic, they always returned, rejoined, and reaffirmed family at Hyannis Port and offshore at sail, especially on Victura."
Author James W. Graham was a senior adviser to former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar and the Illinois House of Representatives. He races and cruises his sailboat, Venturous, at Wilmette Harbor, north of Chicago.
Plato at the Googleplex -- Why Philosophy Won't Go Away by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, Pantheon '14, $29.95, 459 pages, ASIN #0307378195. Index, bibliographical note, glossary, two appendices, footnotes, b&w images sprinkled through text.
From the dust cover:
"At the origin of Western philosophy stands Plato, who got about as much wrong as one would expect from a thinker who lived 2,400 years ago. But Plato's role in shaping philosophy was pivotal. On her way to considering the place of philosophy in our ongoing intellectual life, Goldstein tells a new story of its origin, re-envisioning the extraordinary culture that produced the man who produced philosophy.
"But it is primarily the fate of philosophy that concerns her. Is the discipline no more than a way of biding our time until the scientists arrive on the scene? Have they already arrived? Does philosophy itself ever make progress? And if it does, why is so ancient a figure as Plato of any continuing relevance? Plato at the Googleplex is Goldstein's startling investigation of these conundra. She interweaves her narrative with Plato's own choice for bringing ideas to life -- the dialogue.
"Imagine that Plato came to life in the 21st century and embarked on a multicity speaking tour. How would he handle the host of a cable news program who denies there can be morality without religion? How would he mediate a debate between a Freudian psychoanalyst and a tiger mom on how to raise the perfect child? How would he answer a neuroscientist who, about to scan Plato's brain, argues that science has definitively answered the questions of free will and moral agency?....With a philosopher's depth and a novelist's imagination and wit, Goldstein probes the deepest issues confronting us by allowing us to eavesdrop on Plato as he takes on the modern world."
Author Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, who has written several previous books -- both fiction and nonfiction -- received her doctorate in philosophy from Princeton University. She has received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and lives in Massachusetts.
The Mythology of Plants -- Botanical Lore from Ancient Greece and Rome by Annette Giesecke, Getty Museum, printed on glossy stock, 144 pages, ASIN #1606063219. Sources and suggestions for further reading, glossary, notes, dozens of color glossy images sprinkled through text.
A brief excerpt from the author's Introduction:
"Many characters from myth engendered or are linked with plants. Among other well-known examples are Narcissus, who, entranced by his own reflection, wasted away to become the flower that bears his name; and Hyacinthus, fatally wounded by a discus and commemorated by a hyacinth growing from his pooling blood.
"The lovely Daphne became a laurel tree to escape the love-struck god. Apollo's relentless pursuit, and young Pyramus, believing his beloved Thisbe dead, fell upon his sword, his spurting blood forever staining the mulberry's white fruit. These stories and others are collected in Ovid's Metamorphoses, the epic poem that has been the primary source of Greek and Roman mythology since the end of the first century A.D.
"Ovid was imitated even in his lifetime, was read and quoted in the Middle Ages, and became a favorite in the Renaissance. Over the ages countless authors and artists have incurred a debt to him, among them Chaucer, Shakespeare, Titian, Bernini, and Mozart. Plant mythology is not Ovid's sole focus, so his treatment of it is not exhaustive. Botanical myths pervade the Metamorphoses, however, making it a worthy selection as the source of the myths recounted in the following pages."
Author Annette Siesecke is professor of Classics at the University of Delaware and has written and edited previous books.