ON THE SHELF: Adult Nonfiction for the educated and introspective

Published 8:00 am Sunday, November 27, 2022

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

This week we’re taking a look at new titles in our Adult Nonfiction collection.

DK Publishing brings readers another photographic encyclopedia with “Aircraft: The Definitive Visual History.” This book covers more than 800 aircraft models, from military jets to commercial planes. You will also read the fascinating story of airplanes and aviation, and how the discovery of flight has shaped the 21st Century. Some of the things you will find in this book include:

  • The history of military and commercial aircraft from different countries by decade.
  • Comprehensive lists of the most important aircraft of each period along with specifications and unique features.
  • Highlights of some of the most celebrated aircraft — the Supermarine Spitfire and the Concorde, for example — with beautiful photos and “visual tours.”
  • Learn the stories of the engineers and manufacturers that created brands like Boeing and Airbus.

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This book is filled with stats, facts and photos that will captivate both laymen and aviation enthusiasts alike.

The latest collection from watercolor artist Wyatt Waters is called “The Watercolor Road: Painting and Writing Through the American South.” Waters’ first art teacher imparted to him the importance of painting from life. Since getting started painting on the streets of Jackson, Miss., he has traveled in his 1968 VW camper and spent time in Italy with the mission to paint on location. This book is a product of journeys throughout the south, including stops at some iconic spots in Western North Carolina. Among the places he painted were Looking Glass Falls, Maggie Valley, downtown Asheville and Cashiers Farmers Market. While we tend to hear things about the places we travel, Waters makes it a point not to hold preconceived notions about a place because he knows that what we imagine doesn’t always mesh with reality. Besides the wonderful paintings, this book also includes some of Waters’ essays not only about his travels but also about life.

Buzz Bissinger brings readers an extraordinary and untold story of WWII with his book “The Mosquito Bowl: a Game of Life and Death in World War II.” When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, college football was at its height in popularity and one branch of the service — the United States Marine Corps — dominated the aspirations of college football stars. As the 4th and 29th Marine regiments found themselves in the middle of the Pacific training for what would be the bloodiest battle in the Pacific theatre — the invasion of Okinawa — their ranks included one of the greatest pools of football talent ever assembled. There were former All-Americans, captains from Wisconsin, Brown and Notre Dame, and twenty others who were either drafted or would ultimately play in the NFL. The two regiments played each other in a football game as close to the real thing as you could get in the dirt and coral of Guadalcanal. The brutal and bloody game would become known as “The Mosquito Bowl.” Sadly, within a matter of months, 15 of the 65 players who played would be killed at Okinawa. This is also the story of the families and landscapes that shaped those players as well as the loss of innocence for them and the country.

Jonathan Freedland tells the story of the first witness to reveal the whole truth of the Holocaust in his book “The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World.” Rudolf Vrba was a complex hero and the first Jew to break out of Auschwitz. He was determined to warn the world and the truth that so few were willing to hear. “People won’t believe what they can’t imagine,” after all. He wanted to warn the last Jews of Europe what fate awaited them at the end of the railway line. He and his fellow escapee, Fred Wetzler, climbed mountains, crossed rivers and dodged German bullets to smuggle out their forensically detailed report of the atrocities taking place in the camp. The report reached Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and the Pope. Some people could not or would not believe his story and still others just kept quiet. Vrba helped to save 200,000 Jewish lives, but the 19-year-old never stopped believing that it could have been so many more.

“Finding Me” is a memoir by actress Viola Davis. From her beginnings in a crumbling apartment in Central Falls, Rhode Island to the stage in New York City, and finally to the bright lights of television and film. She speaks of how she ran from her past until she made the life-changing decision to stop running forever. Davis also describes how she worked to find her purpose and voice and purpose in a world that didn’t always see her. She decided to pen her story for anyone who feels they are running through life untethered, desperate and clamoring through memories in order to find some sort of self-love. She reminds her readers that a life worth living is born from radical honesty and the courage to shed your masks and be yourself. Finally, she hopes to inspire others to find the light in their own lives and rediscover one’s self before the world slaps another label on them.