Archive for August 26, 2010

Danbury Anniversary Events

2010 marks the 325th anniversary of the founding of Danbury in 1685. The library will commemorate this milestone by presenting two programs. The first will take place on Thursday September 9th in the Farioly Program Room on the lower level. It will run from 2-3 pm. It will be about the critical importance of the library to the development of the city from the American Revolution up to the current day. The second will take place on Thursday September 16th. It will also take place in the Farioly Program Room again from 2-3 pm. This program will deal with the Great Danbury Fair from its inception in 1869 until its closing in 1981. Both programs will be presented by John O’Donnell ,who is in charge of the Local History Room.

Fresh Forsyth

One of my favorite novelists, Frederick Forsyth, has a new novel out which is titled The Cobra. Forsyth is a veteran with many good reads to his credit (The Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File, The Dogs of War etc.). His new novel is concerned with the drug trade and how it operates and how it can possibly be stopped. In his research for the novel the name of Guinea-Bissau kept coming up. He decided that he needed to visit there because of what has happened to the country due to the drug cartels. Guinea-Bissau is a former Portuguese West African colony that suffered from incessant warfare. The drug cartels moved in because they saw this ruined country as the perfect shipping point for moving drugs from South America to Europe. While Forsyth was visiting there was a coup and President Bernardo Vieira was killed by army forces. It was eerily reminiscent of the plot for his novel The Dogs of War. Try The Cobra for a great summer read.

Desmond Young

Desmond Young is well-known as the author of a highly regarded biography about Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. The book is titled Rommel: The Desert Fox (there also was a movie based on the book). Young was a Brigadier-General in the British Army during World War Two and fought against Rommel and was captured by him. After his release at the end of the war he visited Rommel’s family in Germany and interviewed many of the surviving officers who served with Rommel. But in addition to his great biography of Rommel ,he also wrote a book on diving entitled The Man in the Helmet. It deals with diving from its earliest days and includes a fine portrait of Sir Robert Davis who was a prolific inventor and worked for (and became chairman of) Siebe, Gorman and Company which provided an incredible array of equipment for divers. Davis also introduced the iron lung to the United Kingdom as well as providing escape gear for submariners. His motto was ” Everything for safety everywhere, On Land, submerged, or in the air.”

The Nordic Invasion

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Hoping to cash in on the great success of Stieg Larsson’s trilogy, publishers are scrambling to bring other Nordic authors to our attention. However, mystery readers are already well acquainted with the many nordic authors who have been extremely popular the last few years.
Award-winning Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell author of the Kurt Wallander mysteries has been available here for a decade. From Norway we have Jo Nesbo whose detective Harry Hole is a throwback to American detectives of an earlier time. Iceland is the setting for author Arnaldur Indridason’s mysteries featuring brooding detective Edwardson. What is their great appeal? The setting is one factor– stark and dark much of the time–the locales are new to many readers. Also, these books are extremely well-written. Most of all it is the detectives who struggle with their own personal demons while solving some very clever mysteries who keep us coming back for more.

New Canaan’s Empty Mansion

There is a beautiful estate in New Canaan called Le Beau Chateau which has been unoccupied since 1952. It was purchased by Huguette Clark and then never lived in. She is the daughter of William A. Clark who made a fortune in Butte, Montana at the turn of the century. He then embarked on a political career as a U.S. Senator from Montana. He served one term and then retired from politics. He was embroiled in controversy and Mark Twain regarded him as the embodiment of the excess of the Gilded Age: “He is as rotten a human being as can be found anywhere under the flag; he is a shame to the American nation, and no one has helped him to the Senate who did not know that his proper place was the penitentiary, with a ball and chain on his legs. To my mind he is the most disgusting creature that the republic has produced since Tweed’s time.” He and his family did become philanthropists and endowed many worthwhile projects including the L.A. Philharmonic, the Clark Wing at the Corcoran Gallery, and the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library at UCLA.