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Tim Boxer


Power Over PeoplesFighting The Right War
In The Wrong Way

ower Over Peoples by Daniel R. Headrick shows how advances in navigation and innovations in technology, evolving over the centuries, have aided conquerors to lord over foreign territories and defenders to ward off such aggressors. The small kingdom of Portugal, with a million people in the 15th century, became a world power that paved "the way for all the empires that followed." What they discovered was not India or Arabia, which they already knew about from travelers, but the Atlantic Ocean and a means of crossing it."

But technology can only go so far. The United States had overwhelming power in the air and on the ground in Vietnam, yet lost the war. It lost due to the corruption of the South Vietnam government and the determination of the Vietnamese people to rid themselves of their foreign occupiers (Japanese, French and American).

The U.S. lost because it was glued to a military culture unsuited to a counterinsurgency war. The Pentagon insisted that wars are won by machines (of the air force and navy), and the more lethal the swifter the victory. But these high tech weapons were effective only against the environment and the civilian population—not the North Vietnamese government and army.

They failed to develop new skills to fight a new kind of enemy. As President Richard Nixon concluded, "They made the mistake of fighting an unconventional war with conventional tactics."

In words that resonate today over the allied efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Headrick, professor emeritus of social science and history at Roosevelt University, concludes that the United States lost the war in Vietnam because "it could not change the way it believed wars should be fought and because, for domestic political reasons, it could not send to war the millions of soldiers (or commit the mass atrocities) that defeating such a determined foe would have required." (Princeton, 412 pages, $35.00 Amazon.com Price: $28.91)

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Dan Buettner
Dan Buettner
Happiest Hotspots On The Planet

AN BUETTNER traversed the globe in search of Blue Zones, places where people lived the longest. A combination of diet, lifestyle and attitude enabled people in Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California, and the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica, to live more than a hundred years. His research was published two years ago in the book The Blue Zones. (National Geographic, softcover, 279 pages, $14.95 Amazon.com Price: $10.17)

Now Buettner, who lives in Minneapolis, has completed another project: what communities produce the happiest people on earth?

Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way is Buettner’s latest book in which he reveals that, contrary to popular belief, Bhutan is not the happiest place in the world. Denmark claims that distinction.

Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones WayThe biggest variable is not who you married but where you live," Buettner said at a National Geographic press reception in May at BookExpo America in the Javits Center.

After Denmark, the places that produce the happiest people are Singapore; San Luis Obispo, California; Monterrey, Mexico, "the happiest piece of real estate in the entire Western Hemisphere."

Buettner identifies six life domains that shape our chances for happiness. He calls these interconnected domains Thrive Centers: community (which should help you live out your values), workplace (is it meaningful?), social life (acquire the right type of friends), financial life (your saving or spending strategies), home (which should favor happiness), self (education, sense of purpose, health).

This is an engaging book that could change your outlook and lead to a happier life. (National Geographic, hardcover, $26.00 Amazon.com Price: $17.16)

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Jonathan Brent and Gershon Hundert
Jonathan Brent and Gershon Hundert
Preserving The Past For The Future

IVO Institute for Jewish Research was founded in 1925 in Vilna, Poland (now Vilnius, Lithuania), to build an archive of the Jewish experience for future generations. Today based in New York, it is engaged in research, teaching, documentation and publication (www.yivo.org).

Two years ago the institute completed a monumental project to document every aspect of Jewish life in Eastern Europe. It is a two-volume set, Yivo Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe, under the editorship of Gershon David Hundert, a professor of Jewish studies at McGill University in Montreal. (Yale University Press, 2,448 pages, 57 color illustrations, 1,104 B&W illustrations, 55 maps, $400.00 Amazon.com Price: $357.330)

Hundert said the book covers the area east of Germany and north of the Balkans. The Balkans are Sephardic territory and the book focuses on the Ashkenazim.

"We have 1800 entries from 450 scholars in 18 countries contributing in 10 languages," Hundert said at a reception at Yivo offices in Manhattan to launch the book’s website: www.yivoencyclopedia.org.

"The website will secure the electronic future of the Jews of Eastern Europe," said Jonathan Brent, Yivo’s executive director/CEO. "This is the most credible source of information on the Jews of Eastern Europe. It’s a different version of the book, more inclusive—and free."

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The Twitter BookMastering Social Networking

ONNECTING with people no longer means hanging out on the street corner, mingling at the pool hall or even dialing the phone. Today you are social networking in a myriad of ways, and you need guidance (I certainly do).

Tim O’Reilly and Sarah Milstein have authored one of the best instructional paperbacks on the market to get you up and running. In The Twitter Book they take you by the hand and show you how to get started. They are patient, friendly, witty and utterly knowledgeable. You’ll be tweeting and retweeting in no time.

Facebook: The Missing ManualTim is the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, publisher of the best and most informative books in the computer universe. (O’Reilly, softcover, 234 pages, $19.99 Amazon.com Price: $13.59)

LET’S say you want to join the revolution and enter the realm of Facebook with its 400 million users. The book you want is Facebook: The Missing Manual by E.A. Vander Veer. She has written for many outlets, including Salon, The Writer and CNN.com. A vital chapter deals with adjusting privacy settings so you don’t fall prey to privacy thieves. She’ll help you judge how much to share so you avoid getting ripped off by cloud pirates sailing the Internet in search of your vital identity. Pay attention here. (O’Reilly, softcover, 257 pages, $19.99 Amazon.com Price: $13.59)

Social Networking Spaces: From Facebook to Twitter and Everything in BetweenTAKE a step-by-step tour of such sites as Facebook, Blogger, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, MySpace, Ning, Meetup, Second Life and Google. So many opportunities, but you have a good guide in Todd Kelsey’s Social Networking Spaces: From Facebook to Twitter and Everything in Between.

Every site he describes starts off with a "What the heck" factor, such as "What the heck is a blog?" and "What the heck is Ning." You can check out the author on Facebook. "In my opinion," he says, "one of the coolest things you can do on Facebook is share your life story through pictures." For privacy, Kelsey shows you how to control who sees your output, which is crucial when so many on the planet are poised to steal your identity. (Apress, softcover, 509 pages, $29.99 Amazon.com Price: $26.99)

Twitter for DummiesAND for the rest of us, we can turn to Twitter for Dummies. Actually it took three brains—Laura Fitton, Michael E. Gruen and Leslie Poston—to produce this book. Tweeter founder and chairman Jack Dorsey even endorses the Dummies tract with an encouraging foreword: "Let’s be honest: You’re nota dummy." Easy for him to say. In the irreverent Dummies style, the authors instruct in a very personable, friendly manner. The cartoons help keep you amused chapter by chapter. A very enjoyable book. (Wiley, softcover, 266 pages, $21.99 Amazon.com Price: $14.84)

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HDSLR Nikon D90Ebooks For Nikon D90 Enthusiasts

WO DVDs from GM Books will mightily enhance your capabilities with the Nikon D90. HDSLR Nikon D90 is a must-have for every owner or aspiring owner of this great camera. The instructions in the DVD are designed to be interactive. Authors Peter iNova and Uwe Steinmueller also produced helpful interactive ebooks on the Nikon D80 and D300 (which I have and happily refer to).

The techniques they discuss are very easy to follow, especially with the roll-over effect. Place your mouse on an illustration and you instantly get before and after pictures to comprehend the control and menu items under study.

The two chapters discussing how to shoot RAW are invaluable. (GMbooks.com, Amazon.com Price: $49.95)

HDSLR: Things You Need To KnowHDSLR: Things You Need To Know is another Peter iNova interactive ebook for photographers who shoot in HD movie mode. There’s lots to learn about time for people used to shooting still images. Nikon, Canon, Pentax and Panasonic make HDSLR cameras. If you have one, this is the DVD ebook you must have to learn this new form of picture making.

The book will help you with such topics as (among many others): What questions do moving images need to answer different from those answered by stills? Do the words "Ken Burns" mean a suntan accident or an essential HD movie technique? How do you adapt Hollywood tools with your camera? What accessories should you avoid?

There are sections on stability, scene development, editing and effects to help you achieve spectacular videos. More than 100 embedded movies provide lots of examples of features introduced and discussed. (GMbooks.com, $34.95)

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Digital Photography Reference SystemA Metal Case That Carries You
Into The World of Photography

HE most impressive and eye-popping book to land on our desk is actually a metal case neatly packed with six books plus a DVD from Digital Photography Reference System, under the editorship of photographer Michael Freeman, is most impressive and a welcome gift for any camera enthusiast, beginner or advanced.

This library in a professional-looking silver carrying case consists of six full color books. The first is a 144-page hardcover explanation of The Art of Digital Photography. You might capture a great image—great in composition and lighting—but it won’t necessarily be a work of art, Freeman insists. "Art is not a measure of excellence. There’s enough poor art around to puncture that belief. Art begins, in our case, with the photographer’s aim." Forget about making art; just be an artist—and Freeman will help you on the way.

Freeman’s Book 2, The Digital Camera Handbook (144 pages) covers such topics as exposure, metering, histograms and everything else you need to know to make perfect pictures.

Book 3 on Digital Workflow (96 pages), by John Beardsworth, deals with metadata, picture files such as RAW and jpeg, the three types of workflow programs (such as Adobe Bridge, Picasa and Lightroom) and what’s best for you, and backup and recovery.

Book 4 is the spiral bound Creative Image Editing and Special Effects (160 pages) wherein Freeman shows how to use software such as Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture to process and manipulate your capture one image at a time: coloring eyes, enhancing teeth, removing hotspots, you get the picture. For all that you must shoot Raw.

Freeman includes a Shooting Tips Pocket Guide (64 pages), and even a foldout Shooting Tips Wallet Guide (12 sides)—plus a 50-minute DVD tutorial with Freeman offering valuable expertise in studio and on location. This package is an amazing pathway to the world of creative photography. (Focal Press, $89.95 Amazon.com Price: $56.67)

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Photoshop Elements 8 for WindowsPhotoshop Elements Handbooks

NTIL this year I’ve been using Photoshop Elements 2, and it has served me well. Then I switched to Elements 4, and for my purposes it is adequate. But Adobe keeps upgrading its product and now they’re up to level 8. So for everyone who’s up to date, the Visual Quickstart Guide you need is
Photoshop Elements 8 for Windows. It’s from Peachpit Press which specializes in such tech subjects. The author, Jeff Carlson, is a technology columnist for the Seattle Times and managing editor TidBits weekly online newsletter. The easily readable book is profusely illustrated with color and a joy to follow. (Peachpit Press, softcover, 367 pages, $29.99 Amazon.com Price: $19.79)

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8: Maximum PerformanceIF you’re already familiar with Photoshop Elements, and need help to step up to Elements 8, then an excellent instructor is Mark Galer, an official Adobe ambassador. His Adobe Photoshop Elements 8: Maximum Performance will serve for Elements 7 as well. Galer guides you through seven projects: from Adobe Camera Raw and Curves and Sharpness to Printing. Very well written and easy to follow. The included DVD is a wonderful bonus, consisting of even hours of movie tutorials plus a library of 100 royalty-free images or your use, and printable PDF files of keyboard shortcuts to speed up your image editing tasks. (Focal Press/Elsevier, softcover, 335 pages, $44.95 Amazon.com Price: $29.67)

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