So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Aunt Jane's Nieces on the Ranch

Aunt Jane's Nieces on the Ranch
by L. Frank Baum (writing as Edith Van Dyne)


This is the eight volume of a ten volume series that follows three cousins who are the only heirs to a rich industrialist Uncle John Merrick. He takes an interest in their upbringing so that they can be prepared to inherit his vast fortunes. In this volume, Louise, the oldest has married Arthur Weldon and they have moved to El Cajon, an orange and olive farm outside Escondido California that once belonged to a miserly Señor Cristoval who left a large farm, a ranch house and no heirs. The birth of their daughter Jane, named after the aunt who brought the cousins together and gives her name to the series, provides the impetus for Uncle John to take Beth and Patsy, the other two nieces, and Patsy's father Major Doyle on a visit to Louise and Arthur's ranch.
Hearing that baby Jane is being cared for by a Mexican girl, Uncle John is determined to bring a proper nurse from the East Coast to take care of the infant. Patsy suggests that he hire Mildred Travers, a young nurse she has met, who seems ideal and excited about the prospect of going to the Weldon's ranch. Trouble and mystery start when the party arrives at the ranch and Inez, the Mexican nurse, meets and distrusts Mildred. Mildred seems to know the ranch house from her youth but no one in the area remembers her. While Arthur and his friends are in Escondido for lunch, both nurses and baby Jane disappear, setting up the mystery to be solved.
Uncle John's classism and racial attitudes, while common at the time, are distasteful to the modern reader, but are offset by the ultimate good nature of Baum's characters. One interesting feature of this book is its treatment of turn of the century lace smuggling across the Mexican border.

The Enchanted Apples of Oz

The Enchanted Apples of Oz
by Eric Shanower


Eric Shanower is the best contemporary narrator of Oz and a worthy heir to authorship in the body of works started and defined by L. Frank Baum and John R. Neil. In this series of graphic novels Shanower is at his best! Others have done Oz comics with more edge and in a more contemporary style, but none have been truer to the spirit of Oz. His color illustrations bring the land and its characters to life as no other illustrator has ever done. This volume introduces the Ozophile to four new enchanting inhabitants of this magical land who are truly memorable: Valynn (the Guardian of the Enchanted Apples), Bortag (the love-struck but inept Magician), Drox (Bortag's friend the flying swordfish), and the Evil Witch of the South. How these four interact with other well-known inhabitants of Oz makes for an enchanting story. A special added treat is an introductory essay on the importance of Oz by the master fantasist Harlan Ellison. Get it today; you'll love it for the rest of your life.

Vampires in the Carpathians

Vampires in the Carpathians by Petr Bogatyrev

This book was originally published in French in 1929 with a title that translates as: Magical Acts, Rites, and Beliefs in Subcarpathian Rus'. The title Vampires in the Carpathians was added for this 1998 English translation and is really misleading. The last two chapters: "Funerals" and "Apparitions and Supernatural Beings" do make passing references to vampires, but focus mostly on other spirits. So if you are looking for a book on vampires, look elsewhere. What little is said about vampires will be only of interest to the serious scholar who needs to know every possible reference in the literature. The original title, which is the current subtitle, is a much more accurate description of what this book is about. However, Bogatyrev spends over 35 pages talking about his research methodology which he calls the synchronic method. Unless this is what you really want to learn about, I advise you skip the Introduction and Conclusion. His methodology is that he tells us what the ritual means to the people performing it at that time. He does not try to draw inferences back in time or determine origins. He just "tells it like it is" or, in this case, as it was back in the 1920's. What results is very unsatisfying. He tells you a ritual and what it means in village X, then tells you that in village Y they do the same thing, but have no idea why. Then, he relates that in village Z they don't do this at all. He goes through the whole religious calendar relating quaint old customs attached to each religious holiday, then does the same for rituals attached to births, weddings and funerals. We owe this author a debt of gratitude for documenting this snapshot of Carpathian village life. English-speaking folklore scholars will be glad to have access to this work and Americans of Rusyn descent may finally understand what crazy rituals and customs drove their grandparents to leave this rustic corner of Central Europe for the USA and Canada. On the plus side, this is an excellent translation and the biography of Bogatyrev is engaging. Not for any but the most dedicated readers.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Cowboy Boot Book

The Cowboy Boot Book by Tyler Beard

This is a book that works on many levels making it a great introduction to the history, art, and craft of cowboy bootmaking. It quotes Jack Reed, the only owner of a one-man boot shop left in Texas, saying it takes 372 steps to make cowboy boots, but is not detailed enough to list them all. Until I read this book, I had no idea that there was a market in vintage cowboy boots. I found out that original ornate tops can be fitted with a replaced foot to bring old boots back to life. Jim Arndt's photographs of boots, bootmakers, and boot collectors are outstanding throughout and really bring the book to life. The beginning of the book does an admirable job tracing the history of cowboy boots back to the old Texas-to-Kansas cattle drives of the post-Civil War era. This is followed by a great A - Z directory of the various skins that have been used to make the boots including characteristics, care, and current availability. The next section is a great history of the major boot making factories and the people behind them with chapters on Justin, Nocona, Tony Lama, Lucchese, and Rocketbuster. The rest of the book covers the rest of the cowboy boot business and personalities. Included are descriptions of individual bootmakers and cowboy boot collectors. Each is lavishly illustrated with pictures of them and their boots. The author and photographer are avid collectors and their collections are covered in this section of the book. The book ends with an outline of the retail side of the industry. Major sellers of new and vintage boots are described and a state-by-state Store Guide is included. Of course, not every state has a custom bootmaker or a vintage cowboy boot store, but you can still find the nearest one if this book has convinced you that you are ready for the next step above looking in the Yellow Pages under Western Apparel. The only place where I felt this book went too far is when they say in the caption to a photograph: "the details of this pair of boots could be compared to a fine oil painting." But if you want a basic knowledge of cowboy boots, or love to look at cowboy boots either in a store or on other people's feet this is the book for you.

The Runaway in Oz

The Runaway in Oz by John R. Neill

When John R. Neill died in 1943 after writing three Oz books, the manuscript of this book was left without illustrations and unpublished. Preserved by Neill's family for over 50 years, Eric Shanower finally editing it and provided his own marvelous black-and-white drawings to bring it to press. At the time of his death, Neill had illustrated all but the first Oz book, and his illustrations have come to define the people and land of Oz to generations of readers. Shanower's illustrations follow in Neill's style, improving, if that is possible, on the work of the master. The story evolves around the theme of anger and its effects as Scraps, the Patchwork Girl, in a fit of anger decides to run away. Scraps is a living life-size doll that was introduced by L.Frank Baum in the novel The Patchwork Girl of Oz. She was created by Dr. Pipt with his amazing Elixir of Life that brings anything to life on which it is sprinkled, including the Wooden Sawhorse, Jack Pumpkinhead and the Gump. Originally designed to be obedient and submissive, Scraps brain was surreptitiously redesigned by Ojo. He felt it would be unfair for a living creature to only have a servile brain and he added lots of brain powders that made Scraps one of the most interesting beings in Oz. Upsetting many of the people she runs into, Scraps still manages to befriend Popla, the Power Plant, who is possibly the most unusual character in a land known for its strange inhabitants. Popla is the strongest plant in the world and grows alone on a windswept mountaintop. Scraps, finding a flowerpot, takes the Power Plant, who has never left the spot where she first sprouted, on a exciting and enjoyable journey. Together they travel on Scraps spoolicle, a bicycle with wooden spools for wheels, and through their adventures a lasting friendship is created that dissolves Scraps anger. Anyone who has ever enjoyed an Oz book will love this unique contribution to the Oz corpus.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age

Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age by Ruth Harris

Ms. Harris tells the story of the wonderous events in the small town of Lourdes, and relates them to the history of France in the second half of the 19th Century. Her approach is to tell the story of the events through the lives of the people involved. To do so she quotes from letters and diaries as well as official records. In order to write in such depth, she must have read everything ever written during this period about Lourdes. Between the Notes and the Bibliography at the end of the book is a three page Dramatis Personae listing all the major people associated with the shrine. Not just for Catholics, the book devotes many pages to the role of women in 19th Century France and will be of great interest to anyone wanting to know about women's rights in France. It is also a "must read" for people interested in French social history. She also looks into the relationaship of anti-Semitism to the Catholic piety of the time. People are never presented two-dimensionally to represent the ideals or concepts they championed. Ms. Harris treats the people she writes about with respect and intelligence. As for Bernadette's vision and the miracles, she tells what is known (and she knows a lot!) and the reactions they caused without taking a stand one way or the other herself. Truly a great work of historical writing.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Aphrodite Book 3 by Pierre Louys

Aphrodite Book 3 by Pierre Louys and illustrated by Claire Wendling

My copy of this book has a serious problem in pagination. The publisher messed up the order of pages 17 to 32, making this section impossible to read. Fortunately, I have the original text from which this was taken and can help you identify if you have a problem copy (I don't know if all copies were published with this problem) and tell you the proper order of the pages. The first sixteen pages are alright and page 17 is a full color plate. Turn to page 18. If it starts with the words: "She walked on following the street." your copy is defective. To read the text of a copy with this defect in its original order, read it as follows: pp. 1-16, 30, 26, 20-25, 19, 29, 18, 32-62. The pages between 16 and 32 not listed are full page illustrations. NOTE that this is a review of the defective copies and only deals with the defect, not the content of the work. Also Book 4 of this series was never released.

Aphrodite Book 2 by Pierre Louys

Aphrodite Book 2 by Pierre Louys

This book is beautiful in many ways, but is disappointing at times. The combination of Louys' text and Manara's art in volume 1 is a sure winner. Originally published in France with the original French text, this English version chooses an anonymous, but wonderful, translation from the 1920's. Following a long tradition of publishing this work with sensuous illustrations, Humanoids, a French publisher, took a 19th century erotic novel by Pierre Louys and divided it into four hardbound books, each illustrated by a different artist. This first volume contained 15 full-page watercolors by Milo Manara, an artist better known for his adult comics. Those expecting Manara to have converted Louys' sensual story into a graphic novel may be surprised that this is not the case. Where Manara shines as a comic artist, his watercolors are uneven. While some are outstanding, the painting of the statue of Aphrodite is a disappointment. The illustrated binding and layout is sumptuous. In Book One Demetrios, a famous sculptor of ancient Alexandria, met and was smitten by Chrysis, a temple prostitute he met. She challenges him to commit three specific crimes to win her love. As he ponders the situation the next day, we see him struggle between his emotions and his reason as he faces his challenging tasks. The overpowering desire is strong and he seeks to understand its hold over him. In Book Two the illustrator is Georges Bess. He is an excellent choice and his eighteen full-page color illustrations are exceptional at setting the mood for the sensual nature of the text. All are of women in various stages of arousal and done in shades of red and saffron. Unlike Manara's illustrations for Book One most of these do not illustrate particular scenes in the book, but rather illustrate the time period and the costume of ancient Alexandria. The Bess illustrations compliment the text and make this volume of the series a success. Louys' writing in this English translation from the 1920s captures well the pagan sensuality he wanted to portray. This promised to be a beautiful set with Claire Wendling slated to illustrate volume 3. It is wonderful to see Louys' work getting this lavish treatment. The text is still vibrant enough to take on the sensual artwork of these modern artists.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Aphrodite Book 1 by Pierre Louys

Aphrodite Book 1 by Pierre Louys with illustrations by Milo Manara

This book is beautiful in many ways, but is disappointing at times. The combination of Louys' text and Manara's art is a sure winner. Originally published in France with the original French text, this English version chooses an anonymous, but wonderful, translation from the 1920's. Following a long tradition of publishing this work with sensuous illustrations, the publisher has come up with a new approach. They will publish an original one volume novel in four volumes and illustrate each with the work of a different artist. This first volume contains 15 full-page watercolors by Milo Manara, an artist better known for his adult comics. Those expecting Manara to have converted Louys' sensual story into a graphic novel may be surprised that this is not the case. Where Manara shines as a comic artist, his watercolors are uneven. While some are outstanding, the painting of the statue of Aphrodite is a disappointment. The illustrated binding and layout is sumptuous. This promised to be a beautiful set with Georges Bess and Wendling slated to illustrate volumes 2 and 3. It is wonderful to see Louys' work getting this lavish treatment. The text is still vibrant enough to take on the sensual artwork of these modern artists.

Return to Ukraine

Return to Ukraine by Ania Savage

From the Carpathian Mountains to the Black Sea, a great description of independent Ukraine. Ania Savage has written a wonderful book describing her journey to Ukraine during the time Ukraine was gaining its independence from Russia. The story of her family fleeing Russian persecution when she was six years old and her growing up in the USA with her mother's fond memories of home adds depth to her visit to the towns of her youth. Her description of her visits to both Western and Eastern Ukraine gives the reader a great sense of the cultural and geographic differences in this large Eastern European country. She works in a urban university and a rural school and her descriptions of the people she meets are respectful but insightful. She provides a lot of historic background to the places she visits and her bibliography in the back of the book is a valuable resource for further reading. This is a great book to read if you want to find out about Ukraine at the moment this great country gained its independence. The last chapter tries to bring the reader up to date for the year 2000, but it is only able to update us on the characters. It only briefly covers events in the first eight years of Ukrainian democracy and left me yearning for more.

The Incomplete Amorist

The Incomplete Amorist by Edith Nesbit

Edith Nesbit was a social and political liberal who wrote some of my favorite children's novels. So I looked forward to reading this adult novel. It was published in 1906 and tells the story of naive Betty Desmond who, after her mother died, grew up with her unemotional vicar stepfather in a rural parish. Bored with country life and the chores of a parsonage, she is out drawing one day when she meets Mr. Vernon, a painter who courts women as a harmless game. Vernon also has little to do, and they start meeting with their art supplies in the forest. He paints her portrait and helps her with her artistic skills. Their attraction to each other alarms her prudish stepfather who sends her off to a French boarding school. Mr. Vernon and Betty meet again in Paris where a complex love quartet forms with a former lover of Vernon's and his best friend. Each of the four people think they are in love with the two people of the opposite sex and must make up their mind which is their true love. Intrigue, miscommunication, love, guilt, and jealousy all mix with Nesbit's charming writing style to produce enjoyable characters in a dilemma that kept this reader interested to the last page. The novel is a comedy of manners that relies more on charming characters than witty ones. The general good will gives the book an innocence that comes easily to an author who wrote primarily for children.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lucky Bucky in Oz

Lucky Bucky in Oz by John R. Neill
I just finished rereading Lucky Bucky in Oz and found myself laughing throughout the text. Neill does not write as tight a story as L. Frank Baum, but he does create characters as delightful as any developed by Ruth Plumly Thompson. Davy Jones, the wooden whale who befriends Bucky Jones and starts him on his quest, is one of the best. As with all Oz stories, getting there is all the fun. Bucky and Davy have a great time and so will you. Neill was the illustrator of Oz books for 40 years and this book contains the last views that he gave us of this magical land. If you love reading Oz books, this one will not disappoint you. From the Volcano Bakery to the Emerald City, go along for the ride. You won't regret it.

Queen Salote of Tonga

Queen Salote of Tonga: The Story of an Era 1900-1965 by Elizabeth Wood-Ellem
Tonga is a unique place in being the only Polynesian kingdom to maintain its culture and government through the colonial period that brought down similar cultures in Hawaii and throughout the Pacific. Queen Salote adds to this uniqueness by being the ruling queen of Tonga in the first half of the Twentieth Century, an era dominated by male chauvenism. This story of her life and reign provides a wonderful view into the culture and history of this island kingdom. For papalangi (the Tongan word for people of Western society) this is not an easy book because there is a lot of Tongan names, geneology, and customs necessarily involved in the biography of their queen. Yet the very things that make it difficult also make it a rewarding book to read. What makes the book most enjoyable is the portrayal of this marvelous woman who ruled Tonga for almost 50 years. She ruled without use of force during a time of dissent from rival nobles and emerged one of the most revered leaders in Tongan history. She convinced her British advisors of her ability to rule and her island adversaries that their independence depended on her rule. I can recommend this book without reservation to anyone interested in women's studies, international biography, Polynesian history, or British colonial history.

The Song at the Scaffold by Gertrud Von Le Fort

The Song at the Scaffold by Gertrud Von Le Fort The story of 16 Carmelite nuns guillotined during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution. Olga Marx's 1933 translation does not hold up well to the passage of time making the book less accessible to the modern reader. A fine, but one-sided, portrayal of the nuns' story, their motivation, and faith. Interesting use of a fictional character, the nun Blanche, to contrast the fear an average person would feel in this situation with the conviction and courage of these historical martyrs.

Paris by Emile Zola

Paris by Emile Zola Paris is the third volume of The Three Cities Trilogy that began with Lourdes and continued with Rome. Published in 1898, Paris is Zola's summation of the 19th Century and his predictions and hopes for the 20th Century. In this work Zola gives a splendid portrayal of social life in Paris at the end of the century. He takes us into the lives of men and women of the upper classes, the working class, and even revolutionary Anarchists. This work is of particular interest to readers today who face the future of a new Milennium since Zola looks at the accomplishments of his century and projects his hopes for a new century ruled by Reason and Justice. We can see how the 20th Century has failed and succeeded in bringing Zola's vision of the future to life. Zola spent his career portraying 19th Century France through the lives of his characters. In this final work of the century, he uses his story telling powers to create a portrait of the end of the century (Fin de siècle) through the lives of his characters.

Rome

Rome by Emile Zola Rome is the second book of a trilogy that started with Lourdes and concludes with Paris. Often called The Three Cities Trilogy, the books could also be called Faith, Hope, and Charity. Rome picks up the story of a disillusioned priest as he goes to Rome to defend his book which is to be placed on the Index of Prohibited Books. The story explores his hope for a new Christianity that will meet the needs of modern society and his confrontation with a religious organization unable to change with the times. Zola's critical description of Papal bureaucracy will not endear this work to devout Catholics, but his description of the inner workings of the Vatican is informative and fascinating.

Bird Brains

Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies, and Jays by Candace Savage (Author) This is a wonderful summary of the latest findings and theories on Corvidae behavior and intelligence. I read the book because I wanted to find out why crows acted the way they do and have come away with a deep appreciation for this wonderful family of birds. In addition to the fabulous text, the book is filled with large, gorgeous pictures that are awesome. This must be read by anyone interested in birds.

Carpatho-Ukraine in the Twentieth Century: A Political and Legal History

Carpatho-Ukraine in the Twentieth Century: A Political and Legal History by Vincent Shandor Shandor tells the modern history of a section of Ukraine now known as the Zakarpatskaya Oblast. This is the fascinating story of a country that has been a part of five different nations in the 20th Century and whose people today live in six different countries. It was a part of the Hungarian Empire until the end of the First World War. After the war it was promised autonomy as Subcarpathian Ruthenia, the third part of Czechoslovakia, but this was never realized until the break-up of this country in 1938-39. Then for three days in March of 1939 it was the independent country of Carpatho-Ukraine, until the Hungarian Army crossed the border to reclaim it. In 1945 the Czechs and Russians agreed to make it part of the Ukraine without consulting its people. Shandor was the Ruthenian delegate in Prague between the two wars and has quite a tale to tell. Occasionally, the reader is swamped with names and details mentioned to prove Shandor's point of view. The presentation could have been more balanced, but overall it is fascinating reading.

Lourdes by Emile Zola

LOURDES tells the story of a four day pilgramage to the famous shrine in the late 19th century from the point of view of an abbe who has lost faith. He accompanies a childhood friend and her father as they seek a cure for her paralysis and pain. The abbe is no believer in miracles and his story is about the faith of those who have no where else to turn. Still powerful today, as many turn from a science-based medical establishment, when it offers no cures, to faith healings which heal, if not always the physical symptoms, the anguish and pain of hopelessness, this book explores the hearts and minds of the faithful with respect and insight. Zola's descriptions of trains and hospitals full of the diseased hopeful are overwhelming to read. His mixing of the political, the spiritual and the personal is well-balanced and provides a great tale. You will find the story of Bernadette and the Lady of Lourdes here, but if you are looking for inspirational reading about miraculous cures, you should look elsewhere. This book is about the very human side of a place usually known only for its miracles.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics by Denis Kitchen & Paul Buhle

The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics
by Denis Kitchen & Paul Buhle


The Art of Harvey Kurtzman is a large-format well-illustrated overview of Harvey Kurtzman's work. The book is divided into 5 chronological chapters based on major periods in his life. Each chapter is illustrated with rough sketches from Kurtzman's personal archives and other half-finished pieces or sections, as well as at least one finished work from the period.

Chapter 1 is entitled "Hey Look! It's the '40s" and is an outline of his earliest work in cartooning. Included are six of the 150 "Hey Look!" one-page comics he did for Stan Lee's Marvel.

Chapter 2 reviews his work with Bill Gaines' E.C. Comics, mostly doing war comics. There is a 7 page section where his story "Corpse on the Imjin" (from Two-Fisted Tales #25, January 1952) is reproduced in black & white drawings.

Chapter 3 is the heart of the book and devoted to his pioneering work with MAD magazine. Over 30 MAD covers are reproduced as well as the complete "SUPERDUPERMAN!" comic (from MAD #4, April 1953).

Kurtzman left MAD after disagreements with Gaines; and Chapter 4 covers the period in Kurtzman's life when he put out three other magazines: Trump, Humbug and Help! Two Trump covers, 14 Humbug covers, and 15 Help! covers are included as well as a complete 11 page cartoon called "The Grasshopper and the Ant" (from Esquire, May 1960) featuring a beatnik grasshopper and a workaholic ant.

Chapter 5 is mostly about Kurtzman's 25 years producing "Little Annie Fanny" comics for Playboy. A three page "Little Annie Fanny" origin story, which traces her life from a childhood in Al Capp's Dogpatch, through her growing up in "Peanuts" and "Little Orphan Annie," and ending with one-panel affairs with "Dick Tracy," "Beetle Bailey," and "Mandrake the Magician," appears here for the first time. Also reproduced is the Little Annie Fanny "Americans in Paris" (from Playboy, August 1967) and two cartoons on Dracula and Women that he did for French alternative comics.

This book, with its cartoonist-at-work sketches, roughs and thumbnails, will appeal especially to readers interested in Kurtzman's creative process. It may not be the best introduction to Kurtzman, but its finished pieces will provide enough for someone new to Kurtzman to grasp the importance of the man to the 20th century comics industry.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Nights In A Bar-Room, And What I Saw There

Ten Nights In A Bar-Room, And What I Saw There
by Timothy Shay Arthur
Having been raised myself in a bar next door to the author's home town of Fort Montgomery, I am fascinated to read what is called the best Temperance novel of the 19th century. Set in the 1850s, this morality tale portrays the evil of alcohol in the story of a mill owner who sells his mill to build a tavern in town. Told by a visitor to the town who stays at the tavern for ten days over a period of ten years, he shows how customers and owner are all too weak to resist the temptations of demon rum. An interesting look at pro-temperance literature of the 19th century.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The People From Nowhere: An Illustrated History of Carpatho-Rusyn


The People From Nowhere: An Illustrated History of Carpatho-Rusyns by Paul Robert Magocsi

Both my parents are from a small town near the Carpathian Mountains in what is now Western Ukraine. In the last 100 years this small town has been in the following countries: Austria-Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Carpatho-Ukraine (for one day on March 15, 1939), Hungary, USSR, and Ukraine. They speak a language (or dialect) they call Ponashemu (which I am told means "what we speak") but is officially called Rusyn, and they call themselves names like Rusyns, or Ruthenians, or Carpatho-Rusyns, or Slavish, or Byzantines, or the "ponashemu" people. They are what Paul Robert Magocsi calls in this book "The People From Nowhere."

The title comes from Andy Warhol (originally Warhola), a famous Rusyn-American, who often said he was from Nowhere. The place he was from is the Carpathian Mountains and his people are the Rusyns who are the subject of this book. Their homeland stretches through south east Poland, north east Slovakia, western Ukraine, eastern Hungary and northern Romania. Various voluntary and forced movements have created large communities in Serbia, Czech Republic, USA, Canada and Australia. I have found people with my mother's unusual maiden name in Brazil.

Dr. Magocsi is Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Toronto and the leading expert on the Rusyn people. He has written many books both scholarly and popular about them. I have found this to be the most scholarly of his popular books with pictures on every page and a good survey of the history of this people and their land. It was published in Uzhhorod (or Uzhgorod), the major city of the region, simultaneously in three different language editions: English, Rusyn and Ukrainian. The book is chronological and focuses on major male figures and historic events. His mastery of the subject is evident and the pictures are well selected. While this will mostly be of interest to Rusyns, it is a good book for getting a brief overview of their history for anyone who wants to learn about them or this region.