Foreword Reviews

Thrilling and Fulfilling

8 Gift Books that Jump Out

Who says gift books need to be clunky coffee table doorstops featuring pictures of woven baskets or the marsupial mole in its natural habitat? From tattoos to running to a look inside a prison and a concentration camp, these eight indie books give more than just heft and visual spectacle.

The Thrill of the Chase

The Wagstaff Collection of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum

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Paul Martineau
J. Paul Getty Museum
Hardcover $59.95 (244pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Perhaps the first serious collector to recognize photography as a worthy art form, Samuel J. Wagstaff acquired more than 26,000 photographs between 1973 and 1984, often with the assistance of his one-time lover Robert Mapplethorpe. His collection included works by French, British, German, and American masters since the earliest days of photography, but more importantly, Wagstaff served as a leading arbiter of artistic taste, allowing him to heavily influence the market for pictures by unknown photographers. This astonishing project includes 147 works from the complete Wagstaff Collection of 26,000 photos, purchased by the Getty Museum for $4.5 million in 1984.

MATT SUTHERLAND (May 27, 2016)

Glorious Gulf of Mexico

Life Below the Blue

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Jesse Cancelmo
Texas A & M University Press
Softcover $30.00 (156pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Forget for a moment the several thousand oil rigs and the legacy of environmental disasters that mar your mental image of this 600,000-square mile sea. Instead, take heart in the realization of 15,000 species of sea life inhabiting fabulous coral reefs, shoreline estuaries, underwater canyons, and hard-bottom banks. Better yet, take possession of this awesome compendium of underwater photographs featuring the waters off Cuba, Mexico, and the United States. The teeming blue waters are breathtaking and reassuring that all is not lost.

MATT SUTHERLAND (May 27, 2016)

The Tao of Running

Your Journey to Mindful and Passionate Running

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Gary Dudney
Meyer & Meyer Sport
Softcover $14.95 (304pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

What are they all seeking in their daily, strenuous runs along mountain trails, city streets, ocean beaches—and do they ever find it?

In this inspiring ode to the mental side of the running pastime, Gary Dudney points to spiritual development and mindfulness as potential rewards for runners, once they “learn how to think about running and how to appreciate all of the rich possibilities inherent in running.” A natural storyteller with riveting tales of running adventures, he is all about the mental side of the sport and, thankfully, light on advice. That he’s completed fifty 100-mile races and two-hundred marathons and ultramarathons is a pretty good indication that he knows of what he speaks.

MATT SUTHERLAND (May 27, 2016)

100 Years of Tattoos

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David McComb
Laurence King Publishing
Softcover $29.95 (288pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

What used to be the cause celebre of sailors, convicts, circus acts, and bikers now colors the flesh of 20 percent of Americans—yes, tattoos are suddenly hip and fashionable. With 300 striking photographs, this coffee-table-worthy project documents a century of tat evolution, including lively commentary on artists, techniques, designs, and culture of the body-ink set. Fascinating stuff!

MATT SUTHERLAND (May 27, 2016)

From Day to Day

One Man’s Diary of Survival in Nazi Concentration Camps

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Odd Nansen
Timothy J. Boyce, editor
Vanderbilt University Press
Hardcover $39.95 (640pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Originally published in English by Putnam in 1949, here’s a WWII concentration camp diary, replete with atrocities and terror, but written by non-Jewish Norwegian Odd Nansen. Arrested in 1942 for helping refugees flee the Nazis, Hansen’s easy, detailed writing is engrossing in its occasional humorous digressions, his outspokenness with his German captors, tales of the special depravity reserved for Jewish inmates, and his disgust with the anti-Semitism of other Norwegians. With forty sketches of life in the camps by Nansen himself, and a must-read introduction, along with extensive annotations by editor Timothy Boyce, From Day to Day is history at its best.

MATT SUTHERLAND (May 27, 2016)


An Illustrated History

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Bob Carlin
Backbeat Books
Hardcover $35.00 (256pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

This unassuming instrument arrived in the American South with West African slaves in the 1600s and lifted the spirits of countless plantation gatherings right up till the time that thoroughly uncivil war put an end to legal enslavement. The more recent path the banjo took to celebrity status in American country music is the fascinating story detailed in Banjo: An Illustrated History. All the important types and makes of the instrument are detailed, including the marvelous work being done by today’s craftsmen, but the stunningly rich photographs are what will steal hearts.

MATT SUTHERLAND (May 27, 2016)

Unusual Punishment

Inside the Walla Walla Prison, 1970 - 1985

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Christopher Murray
Washington State University Press
Softcover $22.95 (330pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

More than a few motion pictures have captivated audiences with the image of a villainous, all-powerful prison warden and, in many cases in our nation’s history of incarceration, the caricature was accurate. But beginning around 1970, all that began to change when riots, legal challenges, unions, drug use, and other factors undermined the authority of autonomous, unaccountable prison systems. This compelling book details the bizarre story of the Washington State Penitentiary’s disastrous efforts at liberal reform in the seventies. Yes, the inmates ruled the roost until a descent into total deadly chaos moved things back in the other direction.

MATT SUTHERLAND (May 27, 2016)

Dream Closet

Meditations on Childhood Space

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Matthew Burgess, editor
Secretary Press
Softcover $28.99 (142pp)
Buy: Amazon

Ah, the make-believe hideouts children create under beds, in closets and large cardboard boxes, etc.—tiny refuges for uninterrupted play, a secret rendezvous location to meet with imaginary playmates, or even a safe place to escape very real threats. “We go in, and we go inward,” writes Matthew Burgess in the intro to this remarkable collection. “Small spaces facilitate the discovery of an interior, imaginative realm.” In all, fifty acclaimed writers and visual artists offer very intimate interpretations of childhood reverie, escape, sexual self-discovery, and on and on. Are these spaces, as Burgess suggests, “a lost union with the maternal body”? It certainly seems likely, albeit with better snackage.

MATT SUTHERLAND (May 27, 2016)

Matt Sutherland

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