Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Books I’m Reading Lately

There’s been Sex At Dawn of course, of which much has already been said. I’m enjoying it very much, and I recommend it. But I have other books going on as well.

One of them I consider half professional training – given that I do speak in public on occasion - and half sheer curiosity about what must be a challenging way to make a living: Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun.
"Confessions of a Public Speaker provides an insider's perspective on how to effectively present ideas to anyone. Highlights include: how to work a tough room, the science of not boring people, how to survive the attack of the butterflies, and what to do when things go wrong, the worst-and funniest-disaster stories you've ever heard (plus countermoves you can use). Filled with humorous and illuminating stories of thrilling performances and real-life disasters, Confessions of a Public Speaker is inspirational, devastatingly honest, and a blast to read."

And then there is my penchant for anything historical, lately expressing itself in the true-crime genre: The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective, by Kate Summerscale.
"Summerscale delivers a mesmerizing portrait of one of England's first detectives and the gruesome murder investigation that nearly destroyed him. In 1860, three-year-old Saville Kent was found murdered in the outdoor privy of his family's country estate. Scotland Yard Det.-Insp. Jonathan Jack Whicher was called in and immediately suspected the unthinkable: someone in the Kent family killed Saville. Theories abounded as everyone from the nursemaid to Saville's father became a suspect. Whicher tirelessly pursued every lead but with little evidence and no confession, the case went cold and Whicher returned to London, a broken man. Five years later, the killer came forward with a shocking account of the crime, leading to a sensational trial. Whicher is a fascinating hero, and readers will delight in following every lurid twist and turn in his investigation."

And also: The Devil's Gentleman: Privilege, Poison, and the Trial That Ushered in the Twentieth Century by Harold Schechter.
True-crime historian Schechter delivers a thrilling account of a murder case that rocked Manhattan at the turn of the 20th century. Roland Molineux was a proud member of the Knickerbocker Athletic Club, where he was considered a talented but snooty sportsman, repeatedly instigating spats with the club's athletic director, Harry Cornish. Roland doggedly wooed Blanche Chesebrough, but when one of Molineux's romantic competitors, Henry Barnet, died, Cornish was poisoned (he survived), Roland topped the list of suspects. The sensational trial became one of the costliest in New York State history. Schechter expertly weaves a rich historical tapestry—exploring everything from the birth of yellow journalism to the history of poison as a murder weapon—without sacrificing a novelistic sense of character, pacing and suspense. The result is a riveting tale of murder, seduction and tabloid journalism run rampant in a New York not so different from today's."

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