Category Archives: Books

Click Tricks

A LEGO master builder shows how it’s done

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The Art of LEGO Design

By Jordan Schwartz

Softcover, 288 pages, $24.95 / $9.99 Kindle edition (No Starch Press)

 

If you’re serious about your LEGOs and long ago moved far beyond just clicking one brick onto another, this is your book: a serious how-to from a LEGO master builder. The author, who became one of the LEGO Group’s youngest designers ever when he landed an internship at the age of 18, provides tips to better model-building and inventive use of LEGO components (use inside-out rubber LEGO tires for sea-creature legs!), along with hundreds of color photos and advice from other LEGO masters to help guide hobbyists to even greater heights of imagination.

 

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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WWI in Photos

The many ways photography became a factor in first “great war”

The Great War

The Great War—The Persuasive Power of Photography

Edited By Ann Thomas / Text by Ann Thomas & Anthony Petiteau

Hardcover, 142 pages $45 (Abrams)

 

The first “great war” was a turning point for many things, and one of them was the use of photography, as both and Allied forces and their enemies employed the technology to spy, strategize, communicate, commemorate, manipulate, stir up public support for the cause, and record events for posterity. This collection of images, along with a well-researched historical narrative about the many ways photography factored into both sides of the conflict, both on the battlefields and at home, is a fascinating look at how “media” shaped the world’s perception of events long before 24-hour news came along.

 

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Shakespeare in Space

Another masterful mashup of the Bard and ‘Star Wars’

William Shakespeare's The Jedi Doth Return

William Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return

By Ian Doescher

Hardcover, 168 pages $14.95 / $8.52 Kindle edition (Quirk Books)

 

Continuing the ultimate literary arc of geek-speak high homage, this third installment of author Ian Doescher’s parody of the entire Star Wars movie canon, re-told in the florid iambic pentameter “signature” of William Shakespeare, continues the interstellar adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and other familiar characters from “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”—all to a masterful mashup of English lit and pop culture that’s hilarious, dramatic and downright mesmerizing.

 

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Portrait of Paul

A revealing new light on the ‘cute’ Beatle

Man on the Run

Man on the Run

By Tom Doyle

Hardcover, 288 pages, $27 (Ballantine)

 

The author, a Scottish rock journalist who’s interviewed Paul McCartney numerous times over the years, paints a candid, fascinating portrait of the rock ’n’ roll icon from one of the most tumultuous, uncertain periods of his life—following the breakup of the world-famous band, forming a new group, trying to outpace his past and find his future. It’s a whole new side to the “cute, happy Beatle” that sheds revealing new light on one of the most famous living rock stars on the planet.

 

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Talk to the Animals

To TV vet Dr. Pol, every creature has a tale

Never Turn Your Back on An Angus CowNever Turn Your Back on an Angus Cow

By Dr. Jan Pol with David Fisher

Hardcover, 288 pages, $15.88 / $10.99 Kindle edition (Gotham Books)

A familiar character to fans of his reality show, The Incredible Dr. Pol on Nat Geo Wild, this no-nonsense, Netherlands-born veterinarian, who’s lived and worked in rural Michigan for the past 40 years, gives a fascinating account of his mission of caring for creatures ranging “from a white mouse to a 2,600-pound pound horse.” Amusing, colorful and heartwarming, it’s a tale any animal lover will enjoy. “Until they start inventing new animals, I think I can say there isn’t a type I haven’t looked into the eyes and wondered how it was feeling,” he writes. With Dr. Pol, every patient has a story—and every animal has a tale, as well as a tail.

 

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Twice the Thrills

Crime-fiction characters come together to work in tandem

FaceOffFaceoff

Edited by David Baldacci

Hardcover, 384 pages, $26.99 / Kindle edition $10.99 (Simon & Schuster)

Lovers of thrill-and-chill fiction will get a real kick out of this unprecedented collaboration bringing together 23 bestselling thriller writers, linking up their iconic characters to “face off” together in jointly penned stories to solve all-new mysteries, track down serial killers, settle old scores, or mop up some other messes. The who’s who includes Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Jeffrey Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme, Steve Barry’s Cotton Malone, Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller and dozens of others who’ll be familiar to all lovers of the arcane, the cloak and dagger, and the dark and the dangerous.

 

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Commercial Appeal

Long-ago ads reveal America during changing times

All American Ads of the 40s

All-American Ads of the 40s

By Jim Heimann & W.R. Wilkerson III

Hardcover, 704 pages

$39.99 (Taschen)

 

Packed with thousands of vintage reproductions of products and services of every sort from magazines and catalogs, this lavishly illustrated, oversized volume is a retro-packed museum of the dreams, fads and fears of a nation entering, then emerging from World War II and reveling in a patriotism, pride, prosperity and technological know-how. Sit back, crack it open anywhere, and bask in the long-ago glow of a nation coming to terms with changing times—and feeding, and feeding on, its own growing appetite for commercialism.

 

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Baseball Fan-Tography

Amateur pix taken by fans shows baseball behind the scenes

Fantography_San Diego Baseball

Fantography: San Diego Baseball

By Andy Strasberg

Softcover, 128 pages, $24.99 (Arcadia Publishing)

 

The author, a lifelong baseball lover and 20-year Padres employee, presents this collection of amateur photos taken by fans (including plenty from his own collection) for a decade-by-decade snapshot of goings-on in and around the San Diego fields that were home to Hall of Famers Dave Winfield, Goose Gossage, Rickey Henderson, Ozzie Smith and Roberto Alomar. The only “fantography” rule: No photos of game action. So, instead, it’s page after page of one-of-a-kind, behind-the-scene, sideline and in-the-stands shots, showing the intense connection of fans to their hometown team, year after year, win or lose. For baseball fans of any stripe, everywhere, it’s a hit.

 

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Psych Out

A search through the centuries to find out what makes us tick

The Psychology Book

The Psychology Book

By Wade E. Pickren

Hardcover, 528 pages, $29.95 (Sterling Publishing)

 

While this isn’t exactly a breezy summer beach read, it’s also far from the suffocating textbook you might expect when you hear that it’s a “history of psychology.” A bountiful, balanced mixture of text and illustrations, it’s an engrossing, time-lined encyclopedia of 250 milestones in study of human behavior, from ancient practices through contemporary concepts and principles, making them all easy to understand and showing why they’re significant, from prehistoric fortune-telling to modern neuroscience. For science buffs or even armchair browsers, it’s a fascinating core sample into the centuries of searching for answers about what makes us tick.

 

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Cosmic Cowboy

An intimate portrait of America’s most famous astronaut

Neil Armstrong-A Life of Flight

Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight

By Jay Barbree

Hardcover, 364 pages

$27.99 / Kindle edition $12.74 (July 8, Thomas Dunne Books)

 

Barbree, an Emmy-winning broadcaster and space reporter, was also a longtime friend of America’s most famous astronaut, the first person to walk on the moon. His richly detailed profile of Armstrong, who died in 2012, is timed to coincide with the 45th anniversary of his subject’s historic 1969 mission and covers Armstrong’s life and career with intimacy, humor and heart, from his days as a U.S. Navy pilot through his training for the NASA space program, and ultimately into the commander’s seat of Apollo 11. Space hounds and history buffs will dig it, for sure, but even casual readers will be riveted by its comprehensive portrait of a real-life cosmic cowboy who broke the bonds of Earth and put the first American footprint where it had never been before.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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