A Cowboy Christmas: Celebrating the Season on Ranch and Range
edited by Anne Tempelman-Kluit
Published by Whitecap Books
134 pages, 2000
ISBN: 1552850714

It's beginning to look as though journalist Anne Tempelman-Kluit might cheerfully make a career out of Christmas. A former Globe and Mail columnist whose work has appeared in Harrowsmith, Country Life, Equinox and other periodicals is the author of A West Coast Christmas, A Klondike Christmas and, most recently, A Cowboy Christmas. Inspired by the image of a pair of mounted riders spied from a train window while Tempelman-Kluit was taking a wintertime trip through the Rockies, A Cowboy Christmas is a compilation of stories, songs, poetry, art and even a few recipes around the author's central theme: the mystique of those who tamed the West on horseback and how they spend their winter solstice.

The Clitoral Truth: The Secret World at Your Fingertips
by Rebecca Chalker
Published by Seven Stories Press
256 pages, 2000
ISBN: 1583220380

"Despite three decades of activism since the 1960s, the perception of women's sexuality as less powerful, compelling, and profound than that of men is still almost universal." So begins Rebecca Chalker's The Clitoral Truth, a book that -- as you likely suspected -- spends the balance of its text convincing you otherwise and -- in case you're a woman who missed that part of sex ed -- goes on to tell you what to do with it. Chalker has spent a lot of her career intelligently telling women what to do with their bodies. She is the author of A Woman's Book of Choices: Abortion, The Complete Cervical Gap, Menstrual Extraction and other tomes intended to take the mystery out of that which should not be mysterious. The Clitoral Truth is an owner's manual written with both health and pleasure in mind.

Hidden Evidence: Forty True Crimes and How Forensic Science Helped Solve Them
by David Owen
Published by Firefly Books
240 pages, 2000
ISBN: 1552094839

True crime aficionados will enjoy Hidden Evidence, a book that showcases the forensic techniques used in solving -- or in some cases, trying to solve -- 40 true crimes. Included among these are some of the most prominent crimes of the last century: the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the kidnapping of baby Lindbergh and establishing the definite guilt of serial killer Ted Bundy. Author David Owen brings serious expertise to his topic. A former engineer, Owen was employed in the aerospace industry before beginning a career in scientific writing and journalism.

London: The Biography
by Peter Ackroyd
Published by Chatto & Windus
822 pages, 2000
ISBN: 1856197166

Other authors have given us histories of the great city of London. Some have been anemic and facile and others have been great tombs of information: fact heaped upon fact in a fashion dense enough to frighten away all but the most serious scholars. However, no one has -- until now -- written a biography of London. Though it is perhaps safe to say that few writers would look at the city in quite the same way as award-winning biographer Peter Ackroyd. "Whether we consider London as a young man refreshed ... from sleep... or whether we lament its condition as a deformed giant," writes Ackroyd, "we must regard it as a human shape with its own laws of life and growth." As might be suspected from just this line, Ackroyd's book manages to be at once warm and exhaustive, informative and entertaining, studious and charming. An important and well-conceived and executed book.

On the Trail of Marco Polo: Along the Silk Road by Bicycle
by Brady Fotheringham
Published by McArthur & Company
236 pages, 2000
ISBN: 1552781682

There are Westeners who aspire to see some aspect of the ancient Silk Road, the oldest known trade route. Others dream of daring treks on bicycles. But you don't hear about too many people combining this dream, let alone actually doing it and then going on to write about it. In July of 1997, however, that's exactly what Brady Fotheringham did. He set out from Beijing on his mountain bike, "ready to embark on a journey across four nations, two deserts and five mountain ranges," Fotheringham writes in his introduction. Three months later, he arrived in New Delhi, a full 6000 km from his starting point. That is the skeleton of the trip, the adventure is between the covers.

The Second World War in Photographs
by Richard Holmes
Published by Whitecap Books
400 pages, 2000
ISBN: 1552851354

Every family seems to have at least one member who can never get their hands on enough stuff about World War II. If you have one of these on your list, you'll have a tough time going wrong with The Second World War in Photographs by Richard Holmes. Produced in collaboration with England's Imperial War Museum, the book includes over 500 photographs from the museum's archive, many of which have never been published. Holmes himself is a recognized expert on his topic. The resulting book is, indeed, a terrible one: a vivid reminder of why we must never allow such a thing to happen again.

The Third Reich: A New History
by Michael Burleigh
Published by Hill and Wang
965 pages, 2000
ISBN: 0809093251

On the off-chance that you haven't yet read quite enough about Nazi Germany, The Third Reich stirs it all up again. Author Michael Burleigh is well-qualified to tackle this topic: Burleigh is a William R. Keenan Visiting Professor at Washington and Lee University in Virginia as well as a Distinguished Research Professor in Modern History at Cardiff University. However, hailing from twin ivory towers hasn't dimmed the passion Burleigh has for his topic. The Third Reich differs from other Reich histories by its keen appreciation for and understanding of the human issues involved with this topic. The resulting book benefits from Burleigh's special touch: on the one hand, a theoretical account that can stand up to the best that have been written. On the other, human scale that everyone can relate to. At 965 pages, it's a weighty book, but those with a fascination for this topic will be... well... fascinated.

The Turin Shroud: The Illustrated Evidence
by Ian Wilson and Barrie Schwortz
Published by McArthur & Company
160 pages, 2000
ISBN: 1552781496

Included here because it seems an appropriate season for it (we don't do an Easter book roundup, after all) The Turin Shroud reopens the case for the authenticity of the oft-questioned shroud. You might easily say: What? This old chestnut again? And yet, authors Wilson and Schwortz lay a pretty convincing case. That there will be skepticism -- perhaps even by you -- of the authors' claims is par for the course: according to The Turin Shroud the artifact's authenticity has been actively questioned since the 14th century. Yet it's clear that, though they set their book up in a reasonably unbiased way, neither author has any doubts that the Shroud is the real McCoy. The Turin Shroud is interesting stuff. Wilson is an acknowledged expert on this subject: having written three other books on the topic and being one of 30 international experts invited to Turin in 2000 to discuss "future researches into the Shroud." Barrie Schwortz was one of the photographers on the American Shroud of Turin Project in 1978. One of the results of his participation has been a respected Web site on the topic. The book includes the latest discoveries regarding this artifact, including DNA in blood on the Shroud, wood particles allegedly from a cross and pollen from Israel.

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