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This book is a recounting of the epic clash in the Caribbean in the latter half of the Seventeenth Century between the powerful but rigid and inflexible Spanish Empire, and the British adventurers who had seized the island of Jamaica in 1655, after an unsuccessful attempt to take Hispaniola, and begin a religious challenge to the Spanish Empire.  Stephan Talty explores the cultural collision between the Spanish, seeking honor and glory believing themselves God’s chosen ones, and the pirates, individualists who prized daring and risk and sought only riches.   By happenstance, the English had taken over the island best positioned to cause havoc with the gold shipments which were the lifeblood of the Spanish Empire.

By the middle of the seventeenth century, Spain was a worldwide Empire, all the land from Mexico through Central and South America and the islands of the Caribbean belonged personally to the Monarch of Spain, taken as legal birthright.  The legal justification for this, the Requerimiento, was read in Spanish to the first natives encountered, and the lands then became part of the Empire.  The staggering floods of gold and silver which poured through “the Golden Doorway” in Seville, created the first truly global economy.  As the Empire expanded, the cost of administering it absorbed the contents of the galleon fleets and more, distorted by the search for treasure, the Empire comprised small towns spread over a vast continent and was difficult to defend and sustain.  Spain was financially dependent on the treasure of the West Indies and even Spain’s European armies waited on the successful arrival of the gold-laden galleons.  Non-Spaniards were excluded from the Spanish colonies, and legal trade with foreigners was not allowed because the authorities saw trade as only a tool to achieve a world wide divine kingdom and the heretical English were considered especially dangerous.

The religious purpose of the English expedition of 1655, was a creation of the time, Cromwell and the Commonwealth ruled in London,.  When the Hispaniola venture failed, in disease and miscalculation, the expedition seized Jamaica which was far smaller.  Once they had chased out the Spanish, some of the soldiers turned to farming in the rich soil, the real money, however, was soon being made in privateering.  The privateers were basically licensed marauders of the seas who ranged from simple pirates seeking the thin cover of a letter of marque from his sovereign to patriots who saw themselves as citizen soldiers at the service of their country. The restored Stuarts lacked the money to build and man a navy for the defense of an outpost like Jamaica, and did the job by licensing and taking a share of the privateer’s haul.

In essence, this is the history of the real Pirates of the Caribbean, who were at once, less glamorous than their current Disneyesque screen presentation, but far more significant in the history of both Europe and the Americas.  Talty describes the epic contest between the rigidly controlled bureaucracy which ran the Spanish Empire and the Brethren of the Coast, as the pirates and privateers called themselves.  The name is apt, rugged individualists, they were motivated by the search for riches, writing their own rules at the beginning of every expedition, with the destination and shares in the eventual prize set by vote.

The most compelling figure, both at the time, and in this book, is Henry Morgan.  Child of a noble Welch family, divided during the Civil Wars which raged throughout his childhood, curtailing his education, he was twenty when the expedition to take Hispaniola sailed from Portsmouth.  Beginning in 1663, Morgan led his own increasingly successful expeditions to locations on the Spanish Main, and Cuba, eventually sacking the city of Panama after crossing the isthmus jungle by canoes and on foot. Morgan is the pirate chief who fueled all the legends which endure today.  His career of piracy lasted less than a decade, and ended when the political climate in Europe made peace between England and Spain a necessity.  A daring and wily commander on land, he was not a particularly good sailor, but he managed with luck and guile to bring his men and vast sums of gold and silver back to what quickly became “the wickedest city on earth”,  Port Royal the capitol of Jamaica.

Talty does take liberties with the method of writing conventional history, most obviously in his creation from many diaries and tales of a composite pirate who he names Roderick.  The purpose is to show the career arc of the average pirate who completely rejected the life he had known and became a member of “The Brethren”.  These men gave Port Royal its reputation for flagrant sin, spreading money through the taverns and bordellos of the city after each successful voyage.  They built nothing that lasted, and were uninterested in anything more than the life of the moment. Finally, it is the end of Port Royal, itself, in a cataclysmic earthquake in 1692, four years after Morgan’s death, which brings both the legend and this book  to a close.

This is popular history, it is a very entertaining look at something we think we know from pop culture.  It is the background that makes the basic pirate story far more interesting and significant, setting it into the context of European seventeenth century politics.   The “what its” for the political organization of  the Americas are also a factor, without the pirates,  and the threat they represented to the Spanish control of the Caribbean,  the history of the southern United States could have been quite different.  This not a deep work of scholarship, but  readers will enjoy it, and it should find a large and happy audience.

Mary K. Spore-Alhadef

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The Intelligencer by Leslie Silbert

This complex novel is set in two centuries, with two casts of characters, and two plots. The unifying thread is a collection of intelligence reports in cypher supposed to be from the files of Frances Walsingham, spymaster for Elizabeth I, which disappeared in the sixteenth century. This book has them reappear in modern times in the possession of Cidro Medina, a young, handsome, British financier whose London home is burgled by a mysterious criminal, seeking the manuscript, who commits suicide by poison as he is apprehended. Medina hires the Slade Group to investigate whereupon we meet operative Kate Morgan, erstwhile graduate student in Renaissance literature, who begins to decipher the manuscripts while conducting other operations for the part of the Slade Group which accepts CIA assignments. Kate’s off-the-books, CIA assignment involves meeting, getting fingerprints and a voice recording to establish a real identity for Luca de Tolomei a mysterious, obviously very wealthy, Italian art dealer. Described as the bad boy of the Sotheby’s set, he has just paid eleven million dollars to a highly placed figure in the Iranian security service, but does not seem to have existed prior to 1991. Spy satellites watch as a box is mysteriously transferred at night from one of the ships formerly involved in evading the oil embargo to de Tolomei’s yacht in the Mediterranean.
In the sixteenth century, we follow the adventures of several real people, among them Christopher Marlowe, playwright and intelligence agent for one faction in the highly competitive and understandably paranoid world of Elizabethan espionage. The notion that (British) “Gentlemen don’t read each other’s mail” was a product of the restrained and peaceful nineteenth century. In the police state that was Elizabethan England, spying, torture and guilt by mere suspicion were customary. By 1593, three years after Walsingham’s death, the competing factions, led by Sir Robert Cecil, and Robert Devereux, Lord Essex were circling each other, egged on by Elizabeth, herself, who was quite happy with both Cecil’s information and Essex as her bed partner. Replete with Elizabethan arms smuggling, commercial fraud, and political and religious intrigue, the concerns of the 16th century begin to sound rather like our own, some of the solutions they found both real and imagined begin to sound familiar also.
Leslie Silbert has written a novel of multi- level intrigue, where even the things that we know happened the sixteenth century can be brought into question. Laced with the details of espionage tradecraft of both the sixteenth and twentieth century, the book slips easily between the creators of the 16th century documents, and their decoders and investigators in the modern era. The motivations of the characters of both centuries are as complicated as the hidden paths of the human heart, and even the best spy satellites can only record activities, not explain why they happen. There is a second novel promised soon entitled Killing Caravaggio which will involve Kate Morgan and many of the same twentieth century characters, with a historic adventure based on the life and death of the artist Caravaggio.

Mary K. Spore-Alhadef

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The title of this amusing but ultimately serious book is a  reference to the London neighborhood most Americans will remember from the Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts film which is referred to locally as “That Film” (just as Macbeth is always called “The Scottish Play”  by those connected to the theatre).  One of the characters in the book notes that the last scene of the film, with the pregnant Julia and Hugh on a bench, obviously now homeowners, in  the communal  garden whose wall they had scaled earlier,  was, for her, the obvious beginning of narrative tension not the happy ever after.

The story is told in alternating chapters by two of the women whose tiny back gardens open (via a locked gate to which each household has one key) onto the five acre common garden.  Clare (a childless and worrying-about-it garden designer, whose husband Gideon is a successful eco-architect) represents the new moneyed people who have made house values in the neighborhood escalate 3000% in twelve years and   Mimi (the mother of three, a dilatory work-at-home freelance journalist whose husband Ralph writes a subscription-only monthly on the oil and gas industry) who feels completely embedded in the neighborhood.  They inherited their house from Ralph’s father who bought it when the neighborhood was down-at-heels and by Notting Hill standards they are poor as they never go skiing, lack a second house in the country and struggle to pay the school fees.   The other neighbors fall into two groups, the haves. . . and the have yachts,  the superstars of the financial corporate and entrepreneurial worlds whose wives are kept busy being  Notting Hill uber-mummies,  superintending their children’s diet and activities, relentless shopping and decorating consultation with the Donna the guru of feng shui  who does everything from  window boxes to  life advice.

The arrival on the garden of the newly divorced transatlantic billionaire Si Kasparian  sets off the “marriage-wrecking-ball crash of lust…” in Mimi, but the neighborhood really goes into action when one couple demolishes their garage and begins an elaborate rebuilding which raises dark suspicions in Clare.  The story is hilariously filled with insights into life among the “Yummy Mummies” of modern London where “Circle Time”  at Ponsonby Prep can lead to the details of Celebrity Mummy’s  changing relationship innocently  revealed to the world and all the consequences of intra neighborhood adultery fold into one-upping the neighbors with new home perks like retractable roofs  and children who are either “gifted “  or “special needs”.  The author is  a  well known London journalist and resident of the neighborhood whose far more famous brother is Boris Johnson,  the Tory MP and ex-editor of The Spectator who has just shocked the political world by  being elected Lord Mayor of London.   The book is complete with “Notting Hill for Beginners” a guide to the shops, spas and service purveyors who support the lifestyle of London’s most famous postcode. — Molly Spore-Alhadef

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      And Only to Deceive introduces us to Emily, Lady Ashton a very
young, newly widowed resident of London in 1890.  Given the usual
education suitable for future society matrons, Emily married a man she
barely knew to escape her overbearing mother.  Six months after the
wedding, Lord Ashton dies in Africa on safari leaving Emily to the
ritualized two year Victorian mourning.  This is made endurable because
she is now independent, wealthy and able to do what she wants, which is
read, protected by a household staff whose loyalty and competence most
of her real contemporaries could only envy. Shocked when she learns from
her husband’s best friend, Colin Hargreaves, that he was very much in
love with her, even to having a private pet name for her, that he was an
avid and knowledgeable collector of Greek antiquities, and that she is
now the owner of a villa on the Greek island of Santorini, Emily finds
herself falling in love with her now departed husband. Studying both
Homer and the Greek antiquities Lord Ashton had donated to the British
Museum, she soon realizes that there is something very wrong with the
Museum’s collections.
      Fleeing to Paris to escape her mother’s interference, Emily begins
to make new friends, like a wealthy French widow, and an American
graduate of Bryn Mawr, also a classical scholar who helps her to
evaluate translations and Greek grammar, while encouraging independent
thought.  As she attempts to discern just which of Lord Ashton’s old
friends she can trust with her suspicions, Emily experiences everything
from being followed in the street and having her hotel room ransacked to
being told that her husband has been found alive in the wilds of Africa.
     As has become de rigueur in historical fiction, there are several
real people ranging from August Renoir and Gordon Bennett in Paris, to
A. S. Murray the actual keeper of Classical Antiquities at the British
Museum who are threaded through the story. Emily’s fondness for the
popular fiction of the era like “Lady Audley’s Secret”, which she reads
on her honeymoon, much to her husband’s amusement, also anchor the book
in the society of late Victorian England.  The book has an interesting
format with entries from Lord Ashton’s diaries at the beginning of every
chapter, so that we eventually do know what he thinks of many of the
other principle characters.
    This is a very entertaining debut novel for Tasha Alexander, and there
will be a second and third book in the series.

Molly Spore-Alhadef 

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Los 7 pasos para ser más feliz : ‪cómo liberarte del estrés, las preocupaciones y las angustias del pasado por Isabel Gómez-Bassols y Carlos Harrison‪‬.

“Mi motivación para escribir este libro, más que nada, es que los seres humanos se den cuenta de que tienen el poder dentro de sí mismos de hacer cambios en su vida. Con este audiolibro te daré las herramientas para cambiar tu vida y encontrar la felicidad en tu interior.” Dra. Isabel Fono

Libro se complace en presentar el audiolibro Los 7 pasos para ser Más Feliz de quien es conocida como el “Ángel de la radio” la Dra. Isabel Gomez-Bassols, anfitriona del programa popular de consejos en línea en Univision Radio.

La felicidad es la cualidad más codiciada en el mundo. Todos la anhelan, pero ¿cuál es el camino que debemos tomar para alcanzarla? En su cuarto título, la Dra. Isabel, te brinda consejos, ejercicios y tácticas para alcanzar más felicidad en tu vida.

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En octubre de 2004 se puso en marcha una maquinaria que nadie pudo parar. Ese mes comenzó una serie de televisión que ha cambiado las vidas de millones de jóvenes. Desde entonces, chicos y chicas de todo el mundo responden a un mismo grito: REBELDE.

Las andanzas de los personajes de la serie han transformado las vidas de los adolescentes y les ha impregnado del espíritu rebelde del internado Elite Way School: una carísima escuela donde los alumnos empiezan a sentir el dulce sabor del primer amor y también el rastro amargo de la traición.

Esta biografía autorizada del grupo musical mas popular del mundo no solo contiene las historias de cada integrante, pero también incluye64 páginas de fotos a todo color, un DVD de entrevistas y un poster!

Los fans encontrarán las respuestas de muchas de sus preguntas, tales como:¿Qué pasó entre ANAHÍ y el cantante LUIS MIGUEL?¿Con quién perdió la virginidad CHRISTOPHER a los 17 años?¿Por qué se acabó el amor entre DULCE y PONCHO?¿Por qué se vio obligado CHRISTIAN a ocultar su homosexualidad?¿Se casó MAITE en secreto?¿Se oculta alguna misteriosa mujer tras el tatuaje de PONCHO? – amazon.com


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En las sopas se une el sabor profundo de las especias con la esencia de las hierbas de olor y las verduras tiernas. Al calor de la lumbre se combinan los tonos verdes, rojos, amarillos de chiles, chayotes, jitomates, zanahorias y papas. Todo se fusiona en calido encuentro que adquiere formas ligeras o espesas. Patricia Quintana reune en este volumen algunas de las mas exquisitas sopas que se guisan en muchas regiones de Mexico, segun la tradicion de las abuelas, en los fogones de lena, borboteando en ollas y cazuelas de barro. – barnsandnoble.com


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Buenos niños, malas costumbres : la guía RealAge para criar niños saludables por Jennifer Trachtenberg ; traducido del inglés por Rosana Elizalde.

Cuando los chicos empiezan a volverse adictos a la televisión o a devorar puñados de galletitas, es fácil decir “ya se les va a pasar cuando crezcan.” Lo más probable es que estén adquiriendo malas costumbres que pueden conducir a la obesidad en la infancia y a enfermedades crónicas en la adultez, desde diabetes y depresión hasta problemas cardíacos y osteoporosis.

Pero haciendo cambios simples ahora, puede ayudar a que tus hijos eviten estos problemas más adelante. Buenos Niños Malas Costumbres provee las herramientas que necesitarás, comenzando con el único Test RealAge® Para Chicos Saludables. Basado en el exitoso Test RealAge, que mide la edad biológica y no la de calendario, el Test de Chicos Saludables revela en qué aspectos los chicos están bien y en cuáles están encaminándose a tener problemas de salud.

Sin importar de qué problema se trate -desde falta de sueño a adicción a los video juegos— la Dra. Jen ha visto y resuelto todo, trabajando con los padres y los chicos juntos. Sus consejos perspicaces, pasos preventivos y su agudeza de niña, aprendidos a través del trabajo con miles de niños, hacen de éste un libro de incalculable valor. Ayudará a que tus hijos se conviertan en los adultos más sanos posibles, permitiéndoles al mismo tiempo ser niños. – Publisher description

Salud e hygiene, Niños

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Robert Blair Kaiser has written a roman a clef set in the very near future which projects a Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles kidnapped from his mountain cabin in his own helicopter to face a televised trial in the jungle of Mexican Chiapas over the child abuse scandal.  After this Grishamesque  opening, and a rescue that seems to kill all those involved except the title character, he is left in the hospital in Los Angeles to contemplate  this shattering experience.  The changes to his own outlook on his role in the Church and the actions he begins to take as a result of his new viewpoint begin a change in American Catholicism toward a “People’s Church”.  The characters he gathers around himself, and the opposition he meets offer a rich portrait of clerical, and media personalities from Kaiser’s own past.

Written as a novel, with a mix of real, thinly veiled real and completely fictional characters, this is actually a polemic written to advance the cause for a change in the American Catholic Church toward autochthony like the Maronites, Melkites, Assyrians and Chaldeans who are in union with Rome, but have their own languages, liturgies and customs, including a married clergy. The novel goes from the jungle to the centers of power in both Rome and the American Church.  We meet thinly veiled versions of people Kaiser knows who are the thinkers, power politicians, and strategists who run large organizations, like the Catholic Church.  After his own career in the media, both the strategies used by both sides in publicizing their views and the real people like Michael Moore and Bill O’Reilly who occasionally are part of the plot are sharply and humorously drawn.  While there is an air of unreality here (it is set in the future, after all) this succeeds in giving information and entertaining the reader.  The end of the book implies that there will be a sequel.

Molly Spore Alhadef

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Hemon is plainly and ardently in love with the music of English consonants and vowels.

“The genre inaugurated by Jonathan Safran Foer‘s 2002 novel Everything Is Illuminated has finally found its standard bearer. Like Everything before it, Aleksandar Hemon’s The Lazarus Project comprises a mildly successful, yet deeply neurotic author living in America, a character who speaks in a funny patois, an intriguing story of a murdered Eastern European Jew, the author/narrator’s journey back to Europe to write a book about the aforementioned Eastern European Jew, existential concern about writing said book, and the crafting of this concern into the very book that the reader is holding. ” – Josh Stein for Boldtype a literary blog worth checking out!