2014: Spring Books to Read

2014: Spring Books to Read

Fiction:

Acts of God by Ellen Gilchrist  (The human race. You have to love it and wish it well and not preach or think you have any reason to think you are better than anyone else. Amen. Good-bye. Peace… 

Master short story writer Ellen Gilchrist, winner of the National Book Award, returns with her first story collection in over eight years. In Acts of God, she has crafted ten different scenarios in which people dealing with forces beyond their control somehow manage to survive, persevere, and triumph, even if it is only a triumph of the will. 

For Marie James, a teenager from Fayetteville, Arkansas, the future changes when she joins a group of friends in their effort to find survivors among the debris left when a tornado destroys a neighboring town. 

For Philipa, a woman blessed with beauty and love and a life without care, the decision she makes to take control of her fate is perhaps the easiest she has ever made. As she writes to Charles, her husband and lifetime partner, “Nothing is of value except to have lived well and to die without pain.” 

For Eli Naylor, left orphaned by a flood, there comes an understanding that sometimes out of tragedy can come the greatest good, as he finds a life and a future in a most unexpected place. 

In one way or another, all of these people are fighters and believers, survivors who find the strength to go on when faced with the truth of their mortality, and they are given vivid life in these stories, told with Ellen Gilchrist’s clear-eyed optimism and salty sense of humor. 

As a critic in the Washington Post wrote in reviewing one of the author’s earlier works, “To say that Ellen Gilchrist can write is to say that Placido Domingo can sing. All you have to do is listen.

Alena by Pastan  (“Last night I dreamed of Nauquasset again.” Fans of Daphne du Maurier’s timeless Rebecca will revel in this contemporary homage to her gothic masterpiece. Though updating the characters—the Max de Winter stand-in is gay; and the modern Mrs. Danvers, a business manager—and the setting, the narrative’s excruciating tension hovering beneath the surface remains the same. When the unnamed narrator, a naive young art historian and lowly museum assistant, is offered a position as the curator of a trendy Cape Cod museum, she jumps at the chance. However, all is not as golden as it initially seems at the Nauquasset (the Nauk). Bernard Augustin, the museum’s brooding owner, and the rest of the employees seem to be mired in the past, as the memory of Alena, the previous curator, who vanished more than two years ago, still holds sway over the Nauk and its staff. Trying to exert her own authority and creative vision amid an ongoing investigation into Alena’s mysterious disappearance, she is thwarted at every turn by the phantom presence of her predecessor. –Margaret Flanagan, From Booklist)

Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates (One game. Six students. Five survivors. It was only ever meant to be a game. A game of consequences, of silly forfeits, childish dares. A game to be played by six best friends in their first year at Oxford University. But then the game changed: the stakes grew higher and the dares more personal, more humiliating, finally evolving into a vicious struggle with unpredictable and tragic results. Now, 14 years later, the remaining players must meet again for the final round. 

A gripping psychological thriller, partly inspired by the author’s own time at Oxford University,  this is perfect for fans of The Secret History, The Bellwether Revivals, and The Lessons. Clever, dark, and compulsively readable, this is an ideal book group title: who knows better than your best friends, what would break you? The author’s background in puzzle writing and setting can clearly be seen in the plotting of this clever, tricksy book that will keep readers guessing to the very end.- Amazon & BookBrowse)

 Boy, Snow, Bird by Oyeyemi (An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2014: After escaping the cruel wrath of her abusive father, Boy Novak finds comfort in a small Massachusetts suburb and a widower named Arturo, whom she later marries. Boy is quite taken with Arturo’s daughter Snow, but it’s the daughter she has with Arturo that complicates their quiet lives–Bird’s birth reveals that both Arturo and Boy are light-skinned African-Americans passing for white. Harkening back to the great passing narratives, like Charles W. Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition and, most notably, Passing by Nella Larsen, Boy, Snow, Bird is about both the exterior and interior complexities of racial identity. The perception of Arturo and Boy’s race and social class is threatened by Bird. But it’s the psychological conflicts that are the most devastating. Arturo was raised with “the idea that there was no need to ever say, that if you knew who you were then that was enough, that not saying was not the same as lying.” Is passing dishonest if it isn’t an active decision? Boy, Snow, Bird is a retelling of Snow White, and the wit and lyricism of Helen Oyeyemi’s prose shares the qualities of a fable. But this novel isn’t content to conclude with an easy moral. In fact, Oyeyemi complicates the themes she establishes. Her writerly charms shouldn’t be taken for granted; the beauty of her writing hides something contemplative and vital, waiting to be uncovered by readers. –Kevin Nguyen/ Amazon)

Circle of Wives by LaPlante (When Dr. John Taylor is found dead in a hotel room in his hometown, the local police find enough incriminating evidence to suspect foul play. Detective Samantha Adams, whose Palo Alto beat usually covers small-town crimes, is innocently thrown into a high-profile murder case that is more intricately intertwined than she could ever imagine. A renowned plastic surgeon, a respected family man, and an active community spokesman, Dr. Taylor was loved and admired. But, hidden from the public eye, he led a secret life—in fact, multiple lives. A closeted polygamist, Dr. Taylor was married to three very different women in three separate cities. And when these three unsuspecting women show up at his funeral, suspicions run high. Adams soon finds herself tracking down a murderer through a web of lies and marital discord. With a rare combination of gripping storytelling, vivid prose, and remarkable insight into character, Alice LaPlante brings to life a story of passion and obsession that will haunt readers long after they turn the final page. A charged and provocative psychological thriller, A Circle of Wives dissects the dynamics of love and marriage, trust and jealousy, posing the terrifying question: How well do you really know your spouse?- Amazon)

Family Life by Akhil Sharma (Hailed as a “supreme storyteller” (Philadelphia Inquirer) for his “cunning, dismaying and beautifully conceived” fiction (New York Times), Akhil Sharma is possessed of a narrative voice “as hypnotic as those found in the pages of Dostoyevsky” (The Nation). In his highly anticipated second novel, Family Life, he delivers a story of astonishing intensity and emotional precision. 

We meet the Mishra family in Delhi in 1978, where eight-year-old Ajay and his older brother Birju play cricket in the streets, waiting for the day when their plane tickets will arrive and they and their mother can fly across the world and join their father in America. America to the Mishras is, indeed, everything they could have imagined and more: when automatic glass doors open before them, they feel that surely they must have been mistaken for somebody important. Pressing an elevator button and the elevator closing its doors and rising, they have a feeling of power at the fact that the elevator is obeying them. Life is extraordinary until tragedy strikes, leaving one brother severely brain-damaged and the other lost and virtually orphaned in a strange land. Ajay, the family’s younger son, prays to a God he envisions as Superman, longing to find his place amid the ruins of his family’s new life.

Heart-wrenching and darkly funny, Family Life is a universal story of a boy torn between duty and his own survival.- Amazon)

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue (Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heatwave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman called Jenny Bonnet is shot dead. In thrilling, cinematic style, Frog Music digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue’s lyrical tale of love and bloodshed among lowlifes captures the pulse of a boomtown like no other. BookBrowse)

The Martian by Andy Weir (Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him? Amazon)

Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke  (On a snowy Christmas morning, Holly Judge awakens with the fragments of a nightmare floating on the edge of her consciousness. Something followed them from Russia. Thirteen years ago, she and her husband Eric adopted baby Tatty, their pretty, black-haired Rapunzel, from the Pokrovka Orphanage #2. Now, at fifteen, Tatiana is more beautiful than ever – and disturbingly erratic. 

As a blizzard rages outside, Holly and Tatiana are alone. With each passing hour, Tatiana’s mood darkens, and her behavior becomes increasingly frightening… until Holly finds she no longer recognizes her daughter. BookBrowse)

Mind of Winter is a tightly coiled story of suffocating love and undeniable horror. Its grip is remarkably chilling, masterfully poetic, and psychologically unrelenting.” – Ivy Pochoda, author of Visitation Street 

”If I could stand on a mountaintop and shout over the land, I would do it now: This book is magnificent! It’s a gripping psychological thriller, at once both charmingly domestic and flat-out terrifying. Laura Kasischke writes so well that she leaves me inspired and very, very jealous.” – Elin Hilderbrand, author of Beautiful Day…BookBrowse

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman ( it is the Mesmerizing and illuminating, story of an electric and impassioned love between two vastly different souls in New York during the volatile first decades of the twentieth century. Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island boardwalk freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father’s “museum,” alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River.The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father’s Lower East Side Orthodox community and his job as a tailor’s apprentice. When Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the suspicious mystery behind a young woman’s disappearance and ignites the heart of Coralie.With its colorful crowds of bootleggers, heiresses, thugs, and idealists, New York itself becomes a riveting character as Hoffman weaves her trademark magic, romance, and masterful storytelling to unite Coralie and Eddie in a sizzling, tender, and moving story of young love in tumultuous times. The Museum of Extraordinary Things is Alice Hoffman at her most spellbinding- BookBrowse

Precious Thing by Colette McBeth  (I know her inside out.  I know what she’s thinking, I know what she wants. So I can’t give up on her, she knows I never will. 

Some friendships fizzle out. Rachel and Clara promised theirs would last forever.

They met in high school when Rachel was the shy, awkward new girl and Clara was the friend everyone wanted. Instantly, they fell under one another’s spell and nothing would be the same again. Now in their late twenties Rachel has the television career, the apartment and the boyfriend, while Clara’s life is spiraling further out of control. Yet despite everything, they remain inextricably bound. Then Rachel’s news editor assigns her to cover a police press conference, and she is shocked when she arrives to learn that the subject is Clara, reported missing. Is it abduction, suicide or something else altogether? 

Imagine discovering something about your oldest friend that forces you to question everything you’ve shared together. The truth is always there.  But only if you choose to see it. In Colette McBeth’s Precious Thing. BookBrowse)

Redeployment by Phil Klay  (An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2014: I defy any readers of Phil Klay’s stunning Redeployment to a) put it down and b) limit the number of “wows” they utter while reading it. These twelve stories, are all about the Iraq War or its aftermath; they are so direct, so frank, they will impress readers who have read all they care to about the war as well as those who thought they couldn’t stand to read about it at all. The strength of Klay’s stories lies in his unflinching, un-PC point of view, even for the soldiers he so clearly identifies with and admires. For example, one veteran tells a guy in a bar about a particularly harrowing war experience. When the stranger, moved, declares his respect for our troops, the soldier responds, “I don’t want you to respect what I’ve been through. I want you to be disgusted.” Klay is fearless; he eviscerates platitude and knee-jerk politics every chance he gets. “[A fellow soldier] was the one guy in the squad who thought the country wouldn’t be better off if we just nuked it until the desert turned into a flat plane of grass,” he writes. These stories are at least partly autobiographical, and yet, for all their verisimilitude, they’re also shaped by an undefinable thing called art. Phil Klay is a writer to watch. –Sara Nelson/ Amazon)

Dexter Filkins, The New York Times Book Review:“[Klay captures] on an intimate scale the ways in which the war in Iraq evoked a unique array of emotion, predicament and heartbreak. In Klay’s hands, Iraq comes across not merely as a theater of war but as a laboratory of the human condition in extremis. Redeployment is hilarious, biting, whipsawing and sad. It’s the best thing written so far on what the war did to people’s souls.

The Secret Life of William Shakespeare by Jude Morgan (There are so few established facts about how the son of a glove maker from Warwickshire became one of the greatest writers of all time that some people doubt he could really have written so many astonishing plays. We know that he married Anne Hathaway, who was pregnant and six years older than he, at the age of eighteen, and that one of their children died of the plague. We know that he left Stratford to seek his fortune in London, and eventually succeeded. He was clearly an unwilling craftsman, ambitious actor, resentful son, almost good-enough husband. But when and how did he also become a genius? 

The Secret Life of William Shakespeare pulls back the curtain to imagine what it might have really been like to be Shakespeare before a seemingly ordinary man became a legend. In the hands of acclaimed historical novelist Jude Morgan, this is a brilliantly convincing story of unforgettable richness, warmth, and immediacy.Amazon & BookBrowse)

Young Adult:

Never Ending by Bedford  (Shiv’s best mate, her brother Declan, is dead. It’s been all over the news. Consumed by grief and guilt, she agrees to become an inpatient at the Korsakoff Clinic. There she meets Mikey. Caron. The others. They share a similar torment. And there, subjected to the clinic’s unconventional therapy, they must face what they can’t bear to see. 

Shiv is flooded with flashbacks, nightmares, haunting visions of Declan on their last, fateful family vacation in Greece. And with memories of Nikos, the beautiful young man on the tour boat. It started there, with him, beside the glittering sea…the beginning of the end- BookBrowse)

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy  (When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs. So she convinces her best friend to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge as it is about hope. But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission, and now she must face the consequences of all she’s said and done. 

Contemporary realistic fiction fans who adore Susane Colasanti and Jenny Han and stories filled with romance and humor will find much to love in this incredible debut- Book Browse)

Non Fiction:

The Blood Will Out by Kirn  (In the summer of 1998, Walter Kirn—then an aspiring novelist struggling with impending fatherhood and a dissolving marriage—set out on a peculiar, fateful errand: to personally deliver a crippled hunting dog from his home in Montana to the New York apartment of one Clark Rockefeller, a secretive young banker and art collector who had adopted the dog over the Internet. Thus began a fifteen-year relationship that drew Kirn deep into the fun-house world of an outlandish, eccentric son of privilege who ultimately would be unmasked as a brazen serial impostor, child kidnapper, and brutal murderer. Kirn’s one-of-a-kind story of being duped by a real-life Mr. Ripley takes us on a bizarre and haunting journey from the posh private clubrooms of Manhattan to the hard-boiled courtrooms and prisons of Los Angeles. As Kirn uncovers the truth about his friend, a psychopath masquerading as a gentleman, he also confronts hard truths about himself. Why, as a writer of fiction, was he susceptible to the deception of a sinister fantasist whose crimes, Kirn learns, were based on books and movies? What are the hidden psychological links between the artist and the con man? To answer these and other questions, Kirn attends his old friend’s murder trial and uses it as an occasion to reflect on both their tangled personal relationship and the surprising literary sources of Rockefeller’s evil. This investigation of the past climaxes in a tense jailhouse reunion with a man whom Kirn realizes he barely knew—a predatory, sophisticated genius whose life, in some respects, parallels his own and who may have intended to take another victim during his years as a fugitive from justice: Kirn himself. Combining confessional memoir, true crime reporting, and cultural speculation, Blood Will Out is a Dreiser-esque tale of self-invention, upward mobility, and intellectual arrogance. It exposes the layers of longing and corruption, ambition and self-delusion beneath the Great American con. BookBrowse & Amazon)

Congo: An Epic History of a People  by David Van Reybrouck  (Hailed as “a monumental history… more exciting than any novel” (NRC Handelsblad),David van Reybrouck’s rich and gripping epic, in the tradition of Robert Hughes’ The Fatal Shore, tells the extraordinary story of one of the world’s most devastated countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Epic in scope yet eminently readable, penetrating and deeply moving, David van Reybrouck’s Congo: The Epic History of a People traces the fate of one of the world’s most critical, failed nation-states, second only to war-torn Somalia: the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Van Reybrouck takes us through several hundred years of history, bringing some of the most dramatic episodes in Congolese history. Here are the people and events that have impinged the Congo’s development – from the slave trade to the ivory and rubber booms; from the arrival of Henry Morton Stanley to the tragic regime of King Leopold II; from global indignation to Belgian colonialism; from the struggle for independence to Mobutu’s brutal rule; and from the world famous Rumble in the Jungle to the civil war over natural resources that began in 1996 and still rages today. 

Van Reybrouck interweaves his own family’s history with the voices of a diverse range of individuals – charismatic dictators, feuding warlords, child-soldiers, the elderly, female merchant smugglers, and many in the African diaspora of Europe and China – to offer a deeply humane approach to political history, focusing squarely on the Congolese perspective and returning a nation’s history to its people. Bookbrowse )

Mother of God by Rosolie  (For fans of The Lost City of Z, Walking the Amazon, and Turn Right at Machu Picchu comes naturalist and explorer Paul Rosolie’s extraordinary adventure in the uncharted tributaries of the Western Amazon – a tale of discovery that vividly captures the awe, beauty, and isolation of this endangered land and presents an impassioned call to save it. 

In the Madre de Dios – Mother of God – region of Peru, where the Amazon River begins its massive flow, the Andean Mountain cloud forests fall into lowland Amazon Rainforest, creating the most biodiversity-rich place on the planet. In January 2006, when he was just a restless eighteen-year-old hungry for adventure, Paul Rosolie embarked on a journey to the west Amazon that would transform his life. Venturing alone into some of the most inaccessible reaches of the jungle, he encountered giant snakes, floating forests, isolated tribes untouched by outsiders, prowling jaguars, orphaned baby anteaters, poachers in the black market trade in endangered species, and much more. Yet today, the primordial forests of the Madre de Dios are in danger from developers, oil giants, and gold miners eager to exploit its natural resources. 

In Mother of God, this explorer and conservationist relives his amazing odyssey exploring the heart of this wildest place on earth. When he began delving deeper in his search for the secret Eden, spending extended periods in isolated solitude, he found things he never imagined could exist. “Alone and miniscule against a titanic landscape I have seen the depths of the Amazon, the guts of the jungle where no men go, Rosolie writes. “But as the legendary explorer Percy Fawcett warned, ‘the few remaining unknown places of the world exact a price for their secrets.'” 

Illustrated with 16 pages of color…BookBrowse)

The Price of Silence by William D. Cohan (Bestselling author William D. Cohan, whose reporting and writing have been hailed as “gripping” (the New York Times), “authoritative” (the Washington Post), and “seductively engrossing” (Chicago Tribune), presents a stunning new account of the Duke lacrosse team scandal that reveals the pressures faced by America’s elite colleges and universities and pulls back the curtain, in a riveting narrative, on the larger issues of sexual misconduct, underage drinking, and bad-boy behavior – all too prevalent on campuses across the country. 

Despite being front-page news nationwide, the true story of the 2006 Duke lacrosse team rape case has never been told in its entirety and is more complex than all the reportage to date would indicate. The Price of Silence is the definitive, magisterial account of what happens when the most combustible forces in American culture – unbridled ambition, intellectual elitism, athletic prowess, aggressive sexual behavior, racial bias, and absolute prosecutorial authority – collide and then explode on a powerful university campus, in the justice system, and in the media.

What transpired at Duke followed upon the university’s unprecedented and determined effort to compete directly with the Ivy League for the best students and with its Division I rivals for supremacy in selected sports – most famously men’s basketball, where Duke has become a perennial powerhouse and the winner of four national championships. As Cohan brilliantly shows, the pursuit of excellence in such diverse realms put extraordinary strains on the campus culture and – warned some longtime Duke observers – warped the university’s academic ethos. Duke became known for its “work hard, play hard” dynamic, and specifically for its wild off-campus parties, where it seemed almost anything could happen – and often did.

Cohan’s reconstruction of the scandal’s events – the night in question, the local police investigation, Duke’s actions, the lacrosse players’ defense tactics, the furious campus politics – is meticulous and complete. Readers who think they know the story are in for more than one surprise, for at the heart of it are individuals whose lives were changed forever. As the scandal developed, different actors fought to control the narrative. At stake were not just the futures of the accused players, the reputation of the woman claiming she was raped, and the career of the local prosecutor, but also the venerable and carefully nurtured name of Duke University itself – the Duke brand, exceedingly valuable when competing for elite students, world-class athletes, talented professors, and the financial support of its nationally prominent, deep-pocketed alumni. The battle for power involved the Duke administration, led by its president, Richard Brodhead, a blazing academic star hired away from Yale; the Duke board of trustees, which included several titans of Wall Street; the faculty, comprising a number of outspoken critics of the lacrosse players; the athletes’ parents, many of whom were well connected in Washington and New York and able – and willing – to hire expensive counsel to defend their sons; and, ultimately, the justice system of North Carolina, which took over the controversial case and rendered its judgment. 

The price of resolving the scandal proved extraordinarily high, both in terms of unexpected human suffering and the stratospheric costs of settling legal claims. The Price of Silence is a story unlike any other, yet sheds light on what is really happening on campuses around the country as colleges and universities compete urgently with one another, and confirms William Cohan’s preeminent reputation as one of the most lively and insightful journalists working today. Book Browse)

The Promise of a Pencil by Braun (Adam Braun began working summers at hedge funds when he was just sixteen years old, sprinting down the path to a successful Wall Street career. But while traveling as a college student, he met a young boy begging on the streets of India. When Braun asked the boy what he wanted most in the world, he simply answered, “A pencil.” 

This small request became the inspiration for Pencils of Promise, the organization Braun would leave a prestigious job at Bain & Company to start with just $25 at the age of twenty-four. Using his unique “for-purpose” approach, he helped redefine the space in which business, philanthropy, and social media intersect. And a mere five years later, Pencils of Promise has now built more than two hundred schools around the world, proving that anyone can create a movement that matters. 

The Promise of a Pencil chronicles Braun’s journey through more than fifty countries to find his calling, as each chapter explains the steps that every person can take to ignite their own passion and potential. His trailblazing story takes readers behind the scenes with business moguls and village chiefs, world-famous celebrities and hometown heroes. Driven by compelling stories and shareable insights, this is a vivid and inspiring book that will give readers the tools to unlock their own extraordinary journey of self-discovery. 

If you have ever wanted a more purpose-driven life, if you have ever felt like you could become more than your current circumstances allow, it’s time to ask yourself, “What do I want most in the world?” And through the lessons shared in this book, turn those ideas into reality. BookBrowse, SF Chronicle, Amazon)

The Remedy by Thomas Goetz (In 1875, tuberculosis was the deadliest disease in the world, accountable for a third of all deaths. A diagnosis of TB, often called consumption, was a death sentence. Then, in a triumph of medical science, a German doctor named Robert Koch deployed an unprecedented scientific rigor to discover the bacteria that caused TB. Koch soon embarked on a remedy – a remedy that would be his undoing. 

When Koch announced his cure for consumption, Arthur Conan Doyle, then a small-town doctor in England and sometime writer, went to Berlin to cover the event. Touring the ward of reportedly cured patients, he was horrified. Koch’s “remedy” was either sloppy science or outright fraud. 

But to a world desperate for relief, Koch’s remedy wasn’t so easily dismissed. As Europe’s consumptives descended upon Berlin, Koch urgently tried to prove his case. Conan Doyle, meanwhile, returned to England determined to abandon medicine in favor of writing. In particular, he turned to a character inspired by the very scientific methods that Koch had formulated: Sherlock Holmes. 

Capturing the moment when mystery and magic began to yield to science, The Remedy chronicles the stunning story of how the germ theory of disease became a true fact, how two men of ambition were emboldened to reach for something more, and how scientific discoveries evolve into social truths. BookBrowse)

Trapped Under Sea: One Engineering Marvel, Five Men, and a Disaster Ten Miles Into the Darkness by Swidey (The harrowing story of five men who were sent into a dark, airless, miles-long tunnel, hundreds of feet below the ocean, to do a nearly impossible job—with deadly results A quarter-century ago, Boston had the dirtiest harbor in America. The city had been dumping sewage into it for generations, coating the seafloor with a layer of “black mayonnaise.” Fisheries collapsed, wildlife fled, and locals referred to floating tampon applicators as “beach whistles.”In the 1990s, work began on a state-of-the-art treatment plant and a 10-mile-long tunnel—its endpoint stretching farther from civilization than the earth’s deepest ocean trench—to carry waste out of the harbor. With this impressive feat of engineering, Boston was poised to show the country how to rebound from environmental ruin. But when bad decisions and clashing corporations endangered the project, a team of commercial divers was sent on a perilous mission to rescue the stymied cleanup effort. Five divers went in; not all of them came out alive. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and thousands of documents collected over five years of reporting, award-winning writer Neil Swidey takes us deep into the lives of the divers, engineers, politicians, lawyers, and investigators involved in the tragedy and its aftermath, creating a taut, action-packed narrative -Amazon)

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