BOOKS

A Long Way Home: A Memoir
by Saroo Brierley

This memoir is the fascinating account of Saroo Brierley’s attempt to find his birth family. At the age of five, he got lost on a train in India. Unable to read or write or remember the name of his village, he survived for six weeks on the streets of Calcutta before ultimately being transferred to an orphanage and adopted by an Australian couple. Despite his gratitude to his adoptive parents, Brierley always wondered about his origins. After years of searching, he miraculously discovered his birth family and the hometown where he was born. A Long Way Home is a moving, poignant true story of survival and triumph against incredible odds.

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons (June 12, 2014). Saroo Brierley’s story is being made into a major motion picture.

Million Dollar Arm
by J. B. Bernstein

J.B. Bernstein is the CEO of Access Group, an athlete-management firm that has represented some of the greatest athletes of all time, including Barry Bonds. In search of raw pitching talent, Bernstein launched the “Million Dollar Arm” contest to canvass India, where baseball is virtually unknown. Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel were the winners of the nationwide contest. Although at first the going was rough, in 2008 the two young pitchers were signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates, becoming the first Indians to play professional baseball in America.

Million Dollar Arm is a feel-good story about overcoming adversity and the limitless possibilities within each of us.

Publisher: Gallery Books (April 1, 2014). Million Dollar Arm was recently made into a feature length film starring Jon Hamm.

The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild
by Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence

Lawrence Anthony, a prize-winning conservationist and best-selling author, devoted his life to animal conservation and protecting the world’s endangered species. In 1999, to save a herd of “rogue elephants from being killed, he agreed to take them onto his onto his wildlife reserve in an area of South Africa where they had not been seen in more than a century. The Elephant Whisperer is the story of how he saved the elephants by making friends with them, earning their trust and thus reversing their negative perceptions of humans.

Heartwarming, exciting, funny, and sometimes sad,  The Elephant Whisperer will appeal to animal lovers and adventurous souls everywhere.

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (May 22, 2012)

World Order
by Henry Kissinger

In this insightful book, Henry Kissinger draws on his experience as one of the foremost statesmen of the modern era to discuss the ultimate challenge that we face in the 21st century: how to build a truly global community in a world of divergent historic perspectives, violent conflict, proliferating technology, and ideological extremism.

Kissinger maintains that there needs to be a growing sense of global interdependence and a consensus among all nations on the most important issues of our time: climate change, terrorism, and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. He discusses the historic scope of this challenge and his belief in America’s commitment to a world order in which people everywhere will have the opportunity to live up to their God-given potential.

Henry Kissinger served as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and has advised other American presidents on foreign policy. He is the author of numerous books on foreign policy and diplomacy and is currently the chairman of Kissinger Associates, Inc., an international consulting firm.

Publisher: Penguin Press (September 9, 2014)

Elizabeth Blackburn and the Story of Telomeres: Deciphering the Ends of DNA
by Catherine Brady

This biography is the inspiring story of Nobel Prize winning microbiologist, Elizabeth Blackburn and her groundbreaking discoveries in the field of telomeric DNA, which plays a key role in cell aging and cancer.

Incorporating interview material from Blackburn and several others close to her work, the author examines the qualities that make Blackburn a great scientist, as well as the challenges of being a woman in an elite, male-dominated profession. A superb treatment of an inspired scientist and her groundbreaking work, this book will be of interest to scientists and non-scientists alike, particularly those interested in the history of science, chromosomes, telomeres, and the role of gender in the workplace.

Publisher: The MIT Press (February 13, 2009)

MOVIES

My Blue Heaven, 1990
This hilarious comedy is about how two men from intensely different social, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds become friends. Vinnie Antonelli is a smooth-talking, street-wise New York City con artist and mob informant who has entered the Federal Witness Protection Program. Barney Coopersmith is a straight-arrow, pencil-pushing, by-the-book FBI agent who has been assigned to keep Vinnie safe until he can testify against the Mafia kingpins.

At first they seem to have nothing in common. Vinnie, although he is a likeable guy, can’t seem to stay out of trouble; Coopersmith has his hands full keeping Vinnie away from the hit men who want to keep him from testifying—a scenario that leads to comic mayhem between these two social misfits. But after a series of close calls after which they are both grateful just to be alive, a budding friendship develops and they realize that they have more in common than they thought. Highly recommended. One of Steve Martin’s funniest comedies.

Available: DVD; Rated PG

Born Free, 1966
This moving docudrama, based on Joy Adamson’s best-selling book of the same name, tells the true story of how Joy and her game-warden husband, George, raised an orphaned lion cub as their own in England. At first all goes well, but as Elsa grows into a mature lioness, it quickly becomes apparent that she can no longer remain with her human family. Rather than send Elsa to a zoo, Joy is determined to do what no one has ever successfully done: teach a tame lion how to survive in the wild, and then set her free.

After months of effort, they succeed in returning Elsa to the wild in Kenya. A year later, hoping to see Elsa again, they return to Kenya and happily discover that Elsa, now the mother of three cubs, hasn’t forgotten them. Shot on location in Kenya, Born Free is a bona fide family classic.

Available: DVD; Rated PG

Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, 1989
In this non-stop action film, Indiana Jones sets off on yet another perilous adventure, this time in search of the Holy Grail. His only clue is a diary sent to him by his father, Henry Jones (Sean Connery), an eminent Holy Grail scholar, who has been kidnapped by the Nazis.

Set largely in the year 1938, Indy’s mission to rescue his father turns into a race to find the Holy Grail before the Nazis find it and use it for their own evil purposes. With a great supporting cast, a superb musical score, and one amazing, death-defying action sequence after another, The Last Crusade is the last word in high adventure. It won an Academy Award for Best Sound Editing, and the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

Available: DVD; Rated PG-13

To Sir, with Love, 1966
This British film drama is about Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) an out-of-work engineer who reluctantly takes an interim teaching job in a London white, working-class slum until he can find a job opening in his field. Since the last teacher was driven to an early retirement, it soon becomes clear that the school will take whomever they can get.

With no prior teaching experience, Mark struggles to control his class of rowdy, undisciplined teenagers who assume they’ll easily gain the upper hand and run him off as they did his predecessors. But Thackeray, a black man, is no stranger to hostility and meets the challenge by treating them like young adults. Eventually he wins the students over and earns their love and respect. When finally offered an engineering job, Thackeray must decide if he’s going to stay on at the school.

To Sir with Love ranks 27th on Entertainment Weekly’s list of The 50 Best High School Movies.

Available: DVD; NR

National Treasure 2004
This adventure film stars Nicolas Cage as Benjamin Franklin Gates, an American historian, amateur cryptologist, and third-generation treasure hunter. All his life he has been obsessed with finding the fabled “national treasure,” a collection of artifacts amassed by emperors and pharaohs dating from ancient Egypt. The treasure was rumored to have been smuggled into America during the Revolutionary War and hidden away by the Founding Fathers.

As Gates begins to unravel this mystery, a coded map on the back of the Declaration of Independence points to the location of the “treasure.” However, Gates is not alone in his quest. Whoever can steal the Declaration of Independence and decode it first will find the greatest treasure in history. This Disney film is great family entertainment.

Available: DVD; PG

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