ON THE SHELF: Nonfiction titles worth a nod

Published 8:00 am Sunday, June 12, 2022

This column was submitted by Evangeline Cessna, Local History Librarian at the Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library.

This week, the library is featuring titles from our New Adult Nonfiction collection — everything from bugs to civil rights and medicine to history.

Arthur V. Evans brings us the latest “Field Guide to Insects and Spiders of North America.” This is the National Wildlife Federation’s photographic field guide for insects, spiders and related species. Both amateur and professional naturalists will be able to use this up-to-date guide for identifying more than 940 species. With over 2,000 close-up, color photographs, you will easily be able to see the field marks that distinguish each creature. The text that accompanies each image is clear and plainly written to allow for concise understanding. You will learn the range, habitat, life cycle and behavior of each critter you find. Those with a love of entomology will love the detailed information on starting a collection, planting an arthropod garden, keeping insects and spiders in captivity and learning the techniques of macro photography.

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In “Alabama v. King: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Criminal Trial That Launched the Civil Rights Movement,” Dan Abrams tells the story of MLK’s historic trial that made him a national hero from the viewpoint of his defense attorney. Fred D. Gray was only twenty-four years old when he became the defense lawyer for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — a young minister who had become the face of the bus boycott that shook the city of Montgomery, Alabama. Gray gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at events like MLK’s courageous response to a bomb threat at his own home and the poignant, damning testimony that exposed the South’s racist systems to a worldwide audience. It also discusses the conspiracy to destroy Gray’s career and draft him into the Vietnam War as well as the dramatic moment when a Supreme Court ruling brought the courtroom to a standstill.

Pfizer’s Chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla gives readers an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how they developed the first COVID-19 vaccine in “Moonshot: Inside Pfizer’s Nine-month Race to Make the Impossible Possible.” This book is an account of the exhausting nine months in 2020 when the scientists at Pfizer made the impossible happen by creating, testing and manufacturing a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine that would normally take years to develop. The brilliant scientific minds at the company work tirelessly to accomplish their goal despite social and political unrest and highlight the doubts, decisions, obstacles and failures they encountered. Dr. Bourla is a Greek immigrant who is the child of Holocaust survivors and a veterinarian who became the head of one of the world’s largest corporations. He implemented a dramatic transformation of the organization just before the global health crisis that would put them all to the test.

Dr. Scott H. Sicherer delivers the most complete guide to preventing, testing, living with and treating food allergies in his book “The Complete Guide to Food Allergies in Adults and Children.” He uses information from the latest studies to help adults and children with food allergies as well as those who care for them. He organizes the information in a Q & A style and highlights case studies to give readers context. Emphasizing the most recent advancements, Sicherer discusses everything from handling an allergy emergency to diagnosing allergies and intolerances. He also details the chronic health problems that can be caused by food, such as eczema, hives and gastrointestinal issues. He shares the benefits and risks of new therapies, prevention guidelines, new approaches to improve quality of life and reduce anxiety, as well as new diagnostic tests that are commercially available. He also reviews food reactions that are not allergic, like lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome and celiac disease. Dr. Sicherer also explains how to get adequate nutrition when you must avoid dietary staples and discusses whether food allergies ever go away (hint: they do, but sometimes return). He concludes his book with an allergy and anaphylaxis emergency plan and checklists to reduce cross-contamination.

“Mutinous Women: How French Convicts Became Founding Mothers of the Gulf Coast” by Joan E. DeJean tells the secret history of a group of rebellious women exiled to colonial Louisiana and wound up finding power in the Mississippi Valley. In 1719 a ship named “La Mutine” (the mutinous woman) sailed from the French port of Le Havre bound for the Mississippi Coast. It was laden with much-needed goods for the new French colony, but its primary commodity was women. Falsely accused of sex crimes, these women were prisoners shackled in the ship’s hold. Of the 132 women who began the journey, only 62 survived, but they would carve out a place for themselves in the colonies that had been impossible for them in France. They made advantageous marriages and accumulated property. Many were instrumental in the building of New Orleans and in settling Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois and Mississippi.