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Between the Lines: Books for Veterans Day

Published: Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 9AANDE

Today is Veterans Day, the federal holiday that honors the nation's armed forces veterans. It's appropriate to suggest a few related titles.

• "Commanding the Storm" by John Richard Stephens (Lyons, $27.95, 336 pages): In their own words based on their first-hand experiences, 12 Union and 12 Confederate military leaders write insightfully and passionately about 12 key Civil War battles in which they participated. Their narratives came from letters, memoirs and the like.

• "The Liberator" by Alex Kershaw (Crown, $28, 448 pages): World War II Army officer Felix Sparks and his men of the 45th Thunderbird Division saw more than their share of action, from the invasion of Italy to the taking of Dachau. For this inspiring story, veteran writer Kershaw interviewed Sparks and many of his men, and spent years doing research in archives.

• "Dog Company" by military historian Patrick K. O'Donnell (Da Capo, $26, 320 pages): Among the most courageous groups of WWII soldiers were those in the Army's 2nd Ranger Battalion, whose commitment and bravery made the difference.

• "The Outpost" by Jake Tapper (Little, Brown, $30, 688 pages): ABC News correspondent Tapper tells the amazing story of the tiny and remote U.S. military base in Afghanistan known as Combat Outpost Keating. After the Taliban nearly destroyed it in 2009, a Pentagon investigation "concluded that it should not have been there in the first place."

Bee Book Club news

Thriller-mystery novelist Lee Child will appear for the Bee Book Club on Nov. 29 at the Scottish Rite Center in Sacramento, and the free event has reached capacity.

To get on the waiting list for seats, go to and click on "Fall Events."

If you already have tickets, please note that Child will autograph only two books – the new Jack Reacher novel, "A Wanted Man," and one more of his novels.

Child will be onstage to participate in an "in conversation with"-style question-and-answer session. If you have a question for him, email it to We will ask him a sampling of your questions.

And, yes, we already have the question about the casting of Tom Cruise in the role of Jack Reacher in the Dec. 21 release of the movie "Jack Reacher."

More books for fall

My fall books preview ran in this section on Oct. 21. Think of this as a mini- sequel:

• "50 Years of James Bond" by the editors of Life (Time Home Entertainment, $27.95, 176 pages): "Skyfall," the 23rd entry in Ian Fleming's James Bond franchise, opened Thursday, marking a half-century of 007 on the big screen. This book is a must-have for Bond fans.

• "Bored of the Rings" by the Harvard Lampoon (Touchstone, $14, 160 pages): As a walk-up to the Dec. 14 release of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" comes this dated but still funny re-release of the Lampoon's parody of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth fantasy. By the way, the filmmakers have cut "The Hobbit" pie into three slices. After "Unexpected Journey" will be "The Desolation of Smaug" (2013) and "There and Back Again" (2014) – three movies to tell the story of one book.

• "Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm" by Philip Pullman (Viking, $27.95, 400 pages): The British author takes a fresh approach in these retellings of 50 classic tales. In its starred review, Booklist calls it "a wonderfully rich reading experience." In an interview, Pullman said, "My main interest has always been in how the tales worked as stories. How would I tell this story myself, if I'd heard it told by someone else and wanted to pass it on?"

• "Beluga" by Rick Gavin (Minotaur, $24.99, 304 pages): In this sequel to the crime novel "Ranchero," a gang of not-so-bright thieves in the Mississippi Delta "invests" $200,000 in stolen cash into a heist. Of course, it all goes south. Funny stuff.

• "Siri & Me" by David Milgrim (Blue Rider, $15.95, 112 pages): If you own an iPhone, you know Siri. She's the "intelligent personal assistant" that knows … well, everything. This whimsically illustrated book goes to the heart of our dependence on gadgets.

• "Driving the Saudis" by Jayne Amelia Larson (Free Press, $25, 224 pages): Larson landed a job as an L.A. chauffeur and was assigned to the Saudi royal family during their vacation in Beverly Hills. Great anecdotes, such as the millions in cash stuffed into suitcases that the royals brought with them.

• "The Butler's Guide" by Stanley Ager and Fiona St. Aubyn (Clarkson Potter, $21.99, 208 pages): True, most of us will never be butlers or employ butlers, but this charming guide is a very useful household tool. Learn how to clean a floor properly, decant wine, pack for a trip and fold a napkin six different ways. Also, how to "stand still for long periods of time."

• "The Annotated Sword of Shannara" by Terry Brooks (Del Rey, $35, 544 pages): Lawyer-turned-novelist Brooks debuted 35 years ago with the fantasy "Sword of Shannara," and followed it with 19 sequels to establish an epic tale. This collector's edition contains insightful notes by the author. Brooks appeared for the Bee Book Club in 2001.

• "Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well" by Sam Sifton, illustrated by Sarah Rutherford (Random House, $18, 160 pages): Sure, you can rely on the Butterball Turkey Hotline, but better is Sifton's authoritative how-to guide. Sifton is a former New York Times restaurant critic who manned the newspaper's Thanksgiving help line.

• "Rubicon Springs and the Rubicon Tail" by Rick Morris (Rubicon Historical Group, $38, 223 page): Informed text and archival black-and-white photos tell the story of the once-popular mineral springs 15 miles west of Lake Tahoe, and the trail that exists today. Available at

Book sale for the animals

The annual Sacramento SPCA Fall Book Sale returns Wednesday through next Sunday at Country Club Plaza, 2310 Watt Ave., inside the mall near the former Gottschalks. Shop among hundreds of gently used books in most genres. Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information: (916) 504-2842 or

Next door to the book sale will be the Holiday Boutique Sale, featuring selected items from the Sacramento SPCA Thrift Store. It will be open Wednesday through Nov. 25 (closed on Thanksgiving). For more information: (916) 442-8118.

A Bradbury moment

Want to see something cool? Go to YouTube and type in "Ray Bradbury" and "Groucho Marx" to watch a 1955 episode of "You Bet Your Life." Host Groucho directs some some very funny questions toward the 35-year-old novelist, who had already published "The Martian Chronicles" and "Fahrenheit 451."

"I'm a writer," Bradbury tells Groucho.

"What kind of a writer?" asks Groucho. "Motorcycle? Pony Express?"


If you have information on author appearances or other book-related special events, email it to at least two weeks before the event. To read the online calendar, go to Questions? Call The Bee's Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128.

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