“The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm” translation and introduction by Jack Zipes (Bantam, 2003)

Brothers Grimmstarstarstarstar

If you like fairytales and have always wanted to know where they originate, here’s your chance.  For the first time, a complete edition of the fairytales of the Brothers Grimm has been published in paperback form at an affordable price.  A handy reference tool, pleasant reading, and a book you can always turn to to read to your kids, all in one!

With an introduction on the Brothers Grimm and this specific translation, the book then launches into the countless fairytales told in their virgin form (warning, this may not only shock minors to hear the truth, but also the grownups).  There is a lot more blood and gore in the original tales that have not been Disneyfied for kids.  Split into sections of regular tales, “Omitted Tales,” and “Selected Tales from the Annotations of 1856”; this is a true gem to have on one’s shelf.  The book features a chivalric cover along with beautiful black and white illustrations throughout the book.  It is a present perfect for any avid fairytale lover.

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Originally published on March 17th, 2003 ©Alex C. Telander.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.

“Before the Flood: The Biblical Flood as a Real Event and How it Changed the Course of Civilization” by Ian Wilson (St. Martin’s Press, 2003)

Before the Floodstarstarstar

Everyone is pretty much familiar with the flood story from Genesis with Noah and his ark, but did you know the Bible isn’t the only text to have a flood myth within its pages?  There are flood myths from ancient Greece, Persia, India, even as far as Scandinavia and South America.  How do I know this?  Because I have read Before the Flood.

Ian Wilson takes a step into the ancient and prehistoric with this book, delving into the past no one is quite sure about; where historical fact begins to blur and fictional theory sharpens.  Wilson has done plenty of research (the lengthy bibliography vouches for this) into the many different flood myths scattered across the world to write this unique book, where they all come together.  He presents it in a logical manner, also revealing some contemporary flood myths that were perpetuated by ignorant scientists.

What is important is that Wilson treats the flood as a real event that happened, which is not surprising, since there are all these stories about it.  But he backs all his ideas and premises with scientific research that make them more believable.  Back when Genesis was written, there was no technology to validate the flood, but now Wilson has proven we are at a time to accept that a catastrophic flood of some sort did occur some ten thousand years ago.

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Originally published on March 17th, 2003 ©Alex C. Telander.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.

“Medieval Folklore: A Guide to Myths, Legends, Tales, Beliefs, and Customs” edited by Carl Lindahl, John McNamara, and John Lindow (Oxford University Press, 2003)

Medieval Folklorestarstarstar

The medieval, mythological and folklore historian has been waiting a long time for a book like this.  Have you ever read a little bit of medieval story or folklore and wondered exactly what its origin was, whether it was Irish, Welsh or English, Scandinavian or Eastern European?  This compendium has all this in a Norton anthology font-size that is simply jam-packed with details and information.  In encyclopedic form, it is a necessary reference tool for any historian, as well a compelling read for anyone interested in the subject matter.  It’s all here in one concise book that deserve a place on any shelf; fortunately it doesn’t take up too much space!

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Originally published on March 17th, 2003.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.

“Fighting Techniques of the Ancient World 3000BC – AD 500 Equipment, Combat Skills, and Tactics” by Simon Anglim, et. al. (St. Martin’s Press, 2003)

Fighting Techniques of the Ancient Worldstarstarstar

There have been quite a few books written about wars and fighting, and there have also been many written about fighting and wars in the ancient world, but this book isn’t like any of them.  Fighting Techniques of the Ancient World does not intend to impress the reader with a biased account of how great the Romans, or Egyptians, or Persians were in battle.  The book is split into five simple chapters: “The Role of the Infantry,” “Mounted Warfare,” “Command and Control,” “Siege Warfare,” and “Naval Warfare.”

No bias at work in this book, just dutiful study, research and facts about how these ancient civilizations actually fought.  There are countless case-studies throughout the book that present a detailed account of what happened at a certain battle, like the Battle of Plataea between the Greeks and Persians in 479BC, or the Battle of Milvian Bridge between Maxentius and Constantine in 312AD.  With hundreds of illustrations and drawings of equipment and weaponry, many in color, as well as spectacular battle scenes and plans, Fighting Techniques of the Ancient World presents a new approach to ancient fighting: an appreciation of the skill of all civilizations, and not just one over the other.

Originally published on March 17th, 2003 ©Alex C. Telander.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.

“Sharks: A Golden Guide from St Martin’s Press” by Andrea Gibson, Illustrated by Robin Carter (St. Martin’s Press, 2003)

Sharks: A Golden Guidestarstarstar

Did you know that when you’re about to be bitten in half by a great white shark, its jaws actually extend out of its mouth for a better bite, while a protective coating covers its eyelids to prevent anything poking it in the eyes?  Sharks will probably be one of the most useful books that you will ever own if you like to go swimming a lot.  With the detailed description and colorful illustrations, you will be able to tell your mako shark bite from your tiger shark bite.

With a detailed introduction on how the giant dinosaur-sized sharks of the past evolved into the ones we know today – making it literally one of the oldest fish in the sea – as well as specifications on differentiating between sharks, the book is a useful tool for any would-be marine biologist.  And once you have this pocket-sized book you can show off to your friends about the Carcharaon carcharias you ran into the other day: they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about while you’ll know you mean at great white.

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Originally published on March 3rd, 2003 ©Alex C. Telander.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.

“Sons of Fortune” by Jeffrey Archer (St. Martin’s Press, 2003)

Sons of Fortunestarstar

Jeffrey Archer is a well-established English author, who has written such bestsellers as Kane and Abel and Honor Among Thieves, but his latest addition to the publishing world, Sons of Fortune, fails in many ways; maybe it is because he wrote it under the duress of incarceration?

For about a year now Archer has spent his time in prison because he was essentially embezzling money as a member of the House of Lords.  In that time he has written and produced a play pleading his innocence, and has written this book.  It is about two brothers (as many of Archer’s books are), but they do not know they are brothers, separated at birth due to the apparent stupidity and gullibility of the medical industry, as well as the necessity of one nurse to look good.  The result is these two brothers aspire to be politicians and eventually run for governor against each other, even though they are unaware that they are twins.

And this thin and coincidence-filled plot is not all that is wrong with this book.  The two characters simply excel in every possible way: doing great at school, getting the girls they want, getting the positions they want, and getting recognized for their brilliance, to the extent that it becomes sickening.

Sons of Fortune is a book that deserves to be set with the likes of those written by Danielle Steel and James Patterson, to be read by those who seek very little out of a book, but simply to divert themselves from their inane lives.

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Originally published on April 21st, 2003 ©Alex C. Telander.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.

“Abarat” by Clive Barker (Joanna Cotler Books, 2002)

Abaratstarstarstarstar

A lot of people have been waiting for Clive Barker to unveil his newest creation since Coldheart Canyon earlier this year.  We all knew it was going to be for kids, but we also knew it was going to be classic Clive Barker, and would be a great first book in the series.  Having read this first installment, I concur with every fan’s automatic assumption.

Abarat is the first book in the series about a young girl, Candy Quakenbush, who lives in Chickentown, USA.  She has never felt she truly belongs in the dead end town which prides itself on maintaining the industry of its name.  And so one day she heads out into the fields, where he finds what looks like the ruin of an old lighthouse and an old pier.  Soon she meets a couple of characters, one good and one bad, and she has just seconds to start up this old lighthouse using a magic she never knew she possessed.  Suddenly the sea comes rushing in from nowhere and she is whisked away to the Abarat, a vast archipelago where every island is a specific hour of the day.  And so Candy is taken on many different adventures, both good and bad, where each time she comes close to losing everything, she somehow manages to break free.

With a vast cast of crazy and unusual characters, any reader would be struggling to deal with what they all look like and how to separate all these places.  Fortunately, Barker hasn’t only been busy writing, but he has also been busy painting for this series.  Abarat features over one hundred original designs and paintings by Barker which he has spent the last four years creating, all to do with the current book at hand.  The result is a visual opening into an impossible world that could only exist within the mind of one man.

The book ends with Candy alive and well on towards another adventure, as Barker ends with a familiar phrase: “So Ends the First Book of the Abarat.”  With three more to come in the series, one can only wonder what Candy is going to get up to next.

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Originally published on December 9th, 2002.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.

“Lucky Man: a Memoir” by Michael J. Fox (Hyperion, 2002)

Lucky Manstarstarstarstarstar

It has been quite some time since Michael J. Fox of Back to the Future and Family Ties fame announced to the world that he had Parkinson’s disease.  What is most interesting with this memoir is that he is in no way depressed about his rare affliction, but in some ways feels happy to have contracted it.  He feels a lucky man.

His career did not begin with the big bucks.  As a young boy from Canada, he wanted to strike it rich in Hollywood, but in the beginning years he often went hungry due to lack of funds.  But then he got his bi break with Family Ties, which soon went in tandem with the Back of the Future trilogy.  With these two projects under his belt, Fox felt pretty unstoppable, so it was quite surprising when each movie he made did not even reach close to the success of his past projects.

It was during the early nineties that Fox began to notice a shaking in his hand and arm which he simply could not control.  It began to get worse as the years progressed and he finally had it checked out and received the shock of his life when he was told he had Parkinson’s disease, which is extremely rare in young people.

Since leaving Spin City, which he stayed with for as long as possible, he has been writing his memoirs, doing voices for movies like Stuart Little and Disney’s Atlantis, as well as enjoying life with his wife and kids.  He feels a lucky man to have received such wonders in a life that he never takes for granted.  Lucky Man is his story and it is a very moving one.

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Originally published on December 9th, 2002.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.

“The GigaLaw: Guide to Internet Law” by Doug Isenberg (Random House, 2002)

GigaLawstarstarstar

Have you ever felt guilty about stealing pictures from some site on the Internet and either using them on your own site without giving the person credit, or using them for some project for school?  Perhaps you’ve questioned yourself over whether it is okay to do what you’re doing.  Here’s a book that will finally answer all of your Internet questions: The GigaLaw.

With an extremely extensive contents list split into sections such as: Copyright Law, Domain Names and Trademarks, Patent Law, and Privacy to name a few, there are then specific chapter headings that will get you to the page you want and the specific answers you need in no time.  Together with a full index and lists for websites pertaining to each chapter, this is a book that pretty much anyone can’t do without.

In a small paperback form, The GigaLaw is a book that will get used every day no matter what you’re doing online, because you’ll always be asking yourself whether you what you’re doing violates the rights of a certain site, or whether you are perfectly without your own rights to be doing what you doing.  The answers are all here.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally published on December 9th, 2002.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.

“A History of India” by Peter Robb (Palgrave, 2002)

History of Indiastarstarstar

When I first received this book, I was a little suspicious of it.  It proclaims to be a history of India, and yet it is 344 pages long, which seems pathetic when considering a country credited with inventing Buddhism, the number zero, as well as  many different systems of law, government, and existence that we would not have today if India had not evolved as a country and culture in this specific way.

Robb is a professor and maintains these facts in his long-winded writing form, and seems to be focusing more on an urban history of culture and society, a human geography that strays from an actual history.  A History of India is more of a report on people, specializing on the last hundred years, instead of India’s ancient existence, which I consider far more interesting, considering how important this country was in shaping the civilized world.

Originally published on December 9th, 2002.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.