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Send A Runner: A Navajo Honors the Long Walk, by Jim Kristofic & Edison Eskeets

Send a Runner: A Navajo Honors the Long Walk, by Jim Kristofic and Edison Eskeets, is one of those books that manages to be simultaneously uplifting and melancholia-inducing.

The inspiration comes from Edison Eskeets himself. He is a Navajo, or Diné, a former All-American runner who also ran running camps for youth all around the Reservation. In 2018, he decided to honor the 150th anniversary of the Navajo return to their homeland after the Long Walk by running the route, 330 miles in 15 days, roughly a marathon each day. He was 59 years old at the time.

Send A Runner: A Navajo Honors the Long Walk, by Jim Kristofic & Edison EskeetsThe melancholy comes from reading the history of the Diné tribe from their first encounters with the Spaniards, and up to and including the Long Walk itself. It is a violent history, filled with slaughter, village-burning, livestock theft and enslavement. Not all was against the Diné, it is true: they defended themselves with at times deadly force as well. But as the decades flow by, their losses grow inexorably, culminating in 1864 with the U.S. Government forcing them from their land in what has come to be called The Long Walk. This forced march to a barren, military-controlled location in eastern New Mexico resulted in so much death and demoralization that it can only be seen as an attempt at ethnic cleansing. It is estimated that one-third of the Diné died.

“The Diné are adopting a name for the Americans. Bellicanas. Biligaanas. The Fighters. There is another meaning in the name. Some say Bilání joghal’ndi — They Are Many and Keep Coming.”


A May Day Look at Indie Publisher Haymarket Books

It’s May Day, and to celebrate this important Labor commemoration (in most of the world, anyway,) we’re spotlighting Haymarket Books. This indie publisher celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. As you might guess from its name, they are based in Chicago and take their inspiration from the 1886 Haymarket Affair, that essential landmark in U.S. labor politics. Their mission statement is “to publish books that contribute to struggles for social and economic justice, including books that wouldn’t necessarily find a home in a more risk-averse publishing world dominated by a few large corporations.”


Publisher W.W. Norton pulls Philip Roth bio after sexual assault allegations against biographer

Cover of Philip Roth: A Biography, by Blake BaileyPublisher W.W. Norton has pulled the recently published biography of Philip Roth from distribution after allegations of sexual assault against the biographer Blake Bailey. This is a huge move, as the book, published April 7th, was considered one of the biggest books of the publishing season. W.W.

Book Review: The Madman's Library

”I have known men to hazard their fortunes, go long journeys halfway about the world, forget friendships, even lie, cheat, and steal, all for the gain of a book.” A. S. W. Rosenbach, rare book dealer, 1927

Book Review: Flight of the Diamond Smugglers by Matthew Gavin Frank

In Greg Campbell’s 2002 book Blood Diamonds, which, along with the subsequent Leonardo DiCaprio movie, gave widespread publicity to the horrors of the diamond trade, there is this single line: “One worker at the same site stole diamonds by tying a small bag to a homing pigeon, which would fly the diamonds back to his house.”

Book Review: Last Chance Texaco by Rickie Lee Jones


I’m taking a leap by basing this week’s essay on Last Chance Texaco, the memoir by Rickie Lee Jones, coming out April 6th from Grove Press.

The truth is, I’ve never been all that interested in music bios. I might be an outlier on that: music biographies are generally very popular. But for me, the creation and its performance was always the main event, while the backstory—the life of the artist—never really pulled my interest.

Book Review: Wonderworks by Angus Fletcher

Technology has never been my strong point, and I’ve long held that if human progress relied on me, we’d still be naked in caves and communicating in grunts. Had you and I been sitting together in ancient times staring out at a meadow of tall grasses, I never would have been the one who said “You know what sounds great? Gathering the seeds off those stalks, grinding them to a powder, mixing it with a little water, flattening it and setting it on a hot stone to bake. Yummy!”

Hot New Nonfiction From the First Half of March

Each week, hundreds of new books are released by publishers, and each week I dutifully go through the list. Here are some nonfiction highlights from March 1st through 16th.

Recent Empowering & Inspiring Children's Picture Books

Pamela Paul, editor of the Sunday New York Times Book Review and author of How to Raise a Reader, recently wrote an op-ed extolling the virtues of children’s picture books. Her worthwhile article focuses mainly on the unique storytelling power of combining visual feasts with succinct text, of their role in developing literacy both verbal and visual, and that “Picture books are also one of the literary world’s great pleasures.”

All of which is true! But I’d like to focus on some picture books which have been published recently, most within the past year, or two at the most, which also offer multicultural empowerment and inspiration.

Let’s start out with two recent books that feature the inspiring stories of Aretha Franklin and Rita Moreno. Neither A Voice Named Aretha by Katheryn Russell-Brown, illustrated by Laura Freeman nor A Girl Named Rosita: The Story of Rita Moreno: Actor, Singer, Dancer, Trailblazer! By Anika Aldamuy Denise, Illustrated by Leo Espinosa shy away from the challenges both women of color faced in their careers or from the activism they practiced.

Parents probably already know the stories of those two great singers, but there are plenty of picture books from which you are likely to learn as much as the kids, given that they rescue the stories of lesser-known figures. 

We Wait for the Sun, by Katie McCabe, Illustrated by Raissa Figueroa, tells a charming story of a little girl’s nighttime outing with her grandmother to pick blackberries in the woods. The little girl is frightened by the dark forest, but gains courage, first from her strong, caring grandmother, and then from other other berry-picking women who join them. It’s a charming story on its own, but it is also adapted from the autobiography of civil rights activist/lawyer Dovey Roundtree Johnson, who receives author credits for this book although she passed away several years ago at age 104. (Johnson’s autobiography Mighty Justice, was written with the author of this children’s book; there is also a young readers edition of Mighty Justice for middle readers.) 

Don't Delay! Order Your Holiday Gifts NOW!

This is the week to get your holiday gift orders in, especially for books. Why books in particular? Well, those most in demand are likely to sell out more quickly this year.