Bike Riding in Kabul: The Global Adventures of a Foreign Aid Practitioner

When American lawyer Jamie Bowman took on an overseas contract to build a strife-torn African territory’s new legal framework, she hadn’t expected an explosive assignment. But in the battered town of Juba, in South Sudan, she found herself taking shelter from an ammunition dump blast, sharing the underside of a sink — the most solid hiding place in her sweltering tent — with several lively lizards. It was 2006, and Bowman’s was on contract to the U.S. Agency for International Development in a region battered by decades of ethnic strife and instability. This was only one of many global adventures in the life of a professional legal expert going forth to do good in countries where most travelers hesitate to tread.

Terrible Beauty: Elephant – Human – Ivory 

Why has the elephant population of Africa decreased by 40% in the past ten years and 90% in the past century, according to the World Wildlife Fund? For the endangered African elephant, the answer is poaching – killing elephants for their ivory tusks. Automatic weapons make it easier than ever before. But in this time of synthetic materials used in everything from piano keys to jewelry, plus bans on ivory, why is selling illegal ivory still such a big business? The book, Terrible Beauty:  Elephant – Human – Ivory explores these questions.  It describes the passion for ivory from ancient times to the present. And it looks at the elephant as an ecologically important and endangered species.

Asian America

Asian Americans have been part of American history dating as far back as the 17th century with more large-scale migrations starting in the 19th century. Today, there are more than 24 million Asian Americans in the United States, encompassing some 19 ethnicities, about 15 different languages and religious beliefs that range from Christian Evangelicals to Hindus. For a group of people with this much diversity, what does it mean to be “American American?” Authors Pawan Dhingra and Robyn Magalit Rodriguez tackle this complex question of identity in their book Asian America, published by Polity Press. With chapters that discuss race, sexuality, class, and work lives, the book takes a panoramic view of the Asian American experience and some of the tensions that come along with it. Read More

How Birds Evolve: What Science Reveals About Their Origin, Lives & Diversity

Author and biologist Douglas J. Futuyma takes readers through the evolutionary history of birds in his book How Birds Evolve. Futuyma embarked on a journey resulting in his evolving into a serious expert on birds. Thousands of fellow bird watchers are at different levels of interest, involvement and personal goals in this interesting hobby. Many are perfectly happy to put birdseed in decorative feeders placed strategically in their backyard and watch the chickadees, doves and hummingbirds fly in and out. It really does not matter whether it’s a Black-capped Chickadee versus a Carolina Chickadee; a Mourning Dove versus a Rock Dove; or an Allen’s hummingbird versus a Green-breasted Mango hummingbird.

Beirut 2020: Diary of the Collapse

Lebanon is a theoretical country, cobbled together from shards of the Ottoman Empire following World War I. Europe’s Great Powers hoped the different religions jumbled within its borders would work together to create a cosmopolitan nation. Unfortunately, Lebanon’s oligarchs and their family clans more often have colluded than cooperated. Khalil Gibran, a Lebanese-American poet born to a Maronite Christian family, worried about her native land’s survival. “What will remain of your Lebanon after a century?” she wrote in the 1920s.
Beirut 2020: Diary of the Collapse by Charif Majdalani is an extended lamentation that documents the unending challenges of living in a failed state that are brought into sharp relief by a massive explosion on August 4, 2020 that destroyed the city’s port as well as many of the capital’s historic neighborhoods.

The Girl Explorers

By Amanda Morris I love traveling. I love the freedom it gives me to explore the world around me and expand my horizons. I have been fortunate enough to travel alone. The experience provided an element of excitement and also confidence, when I proved to myself that I could venture out on my own. But,…