Mississippi Books and Writers

August 2000

Note: Prices listed below reflect the publisher's suggested list price. They are subject to change without notice.

Nothing Like It in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad, 1863-1869 Nothing Like It in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869

Nonfiction by Stephen E. Ambrose

Simon & Schuster (Hardcover, $28.00, ISBN: 0684846098)

Publication date: August 2000

Description from Kirkus Reviews:

Acclaimed historian Ambrose (Comrades, 1999, etc.) takes on one of the biggest and most influential engineering projects in American history—the building of the transcontinental railroad. Ambrose begins his tale with the fascinating “bureaucratic” history of the railroad—the struggles to gain a federal mandate for the construction of the road and to fix starting points for it at a time when there was little going on in Washington except, first, the precursors to the Civil War and, later, the war itself. Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman are all shown to be “railroad men” and influential to the project. Ambrose then moves on to immense fiscal maneuvers necessary to finance the railroad, and to the ensuing Credit Mobilier scandal (regarding the financing of the railroad, and of the fortunes that were made, Ambrose makes a salient point when quoting historian Charles Francis Adams Jr., who claimed that “when the Pacific Railroad was proposed, [no one] regarded it as other than a wild-cat venture … those men went into the enterprise because the country wanted a transcontinental railroad, and was willing to give almost any sum to those who would build it”). It is when the human drama of the actual construction of the railroad begins that Ambrose’s narrative picks up speed. Although not many first hand accounts exist from railroad workers, what material he does have is woven skillfully into the whole to create a picture of various ethnic groups working together (and frequently warring with each other as well). A master historian and writer takes on another pivotal epoch in American history. —Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

24 Hours 24 Hours

A Novel by Greg Iles

Putnam (Hardcover, $24.95, ISBN: 0399146245)

Publication date: August 2000

Description from Kirkus Reviews:

A tepid thriller from bestselling Iles (The Quiet Game, 1999, etc.) in which an upscale family falls victim to a not-so-typical kidnapping masterminded by a psychopath with more than money on his mind. Dr. Will Jennings is on his way from Mississippi to a medical meeting in New Orleans, leaving behind his loving, if somewhat resentful, wife Karen, who quit medical school when she became pregnant, and their precious, precocious five-year-old daughter, Abby. Life is a mixed bag for the doctor. He’s flying his own plane to the convention where he’s presenting a breakthrough anesthesia drug that could make him a very wealthy man. But he suffers from debilitating arthritis, and Abby is a juvenile diabetic who requires insulin injections. The whole house of cards comes tumbling down when the child is snatched by kidnapper extraordinaire Joe Hickey, assisted by his abused spouse, a former drug-addicted lap dancer, and his devoted, mentally challenged, 300-pound cousin Huey. The devious trio’s carefully orchestrated plan, which they’ve refined over five previous capers, divides the story into three scenarios, each redneck villain paired with a member of the genteel Jennings family. Hickey’s motto, “The kid always makes it,” is endangered by Abby’s insulin needs, the Type-A personalities of the Jennings clan, and the search for revenge. Should Will call in the authorities? Should he and Karen submit to the kidnappers’ bizarre personal demands? How far will they go to save their daughter and still keep their self-respect? And by the way, have they missed the truly important things in life? The clever plot generates some heat, but veteran Iles’s clunky prose (“Hickey’s words cut to the bone, but something more terrible struck Will like a hammer”), hackneyed psychological “insights,” and tedious medical details send this thriller into a tailspin. Literary Guild/Doubleday Book Club alternate selection. —Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Hymning & Hawing About America Hymning & Hawing About America: A Few Symbol-Minded Essays

By Frank Trippett

Xlibris (Hardcover, $31.99, ISBN: 0738822388; Paperback, $21.99, ISBN: 0738822396; Ebook, $8.00, ISBN: 0738888419)

Publication date: August 2000


This collection of essays, by award winning Time magazine essayist Frank Trippett, is a brilliant look in the rearview mirror at the American scene during the 20th century. The author’s incisive, lyrical, and often wry observations touch on salient truths about American culture, politics, and history.

Hymning & Hawing About America is an engaging, challenging, occasionally iconoclastic, and highly recommended collection of forty-two essays by Frank Trippett on American culture, politics and history. The pieces range from the psychology of gambling to an analysis of flag burning. Trippett writes with an easy wit and an engaging wisdom that readers will find as informed as it is informative, as thoughtful as it is thought provoking.” —Midwest Book Review

“Frank Trippett had a stylish elegance; a calm capable of rage at the right moments; and a wit that could at once floor you and leave you smiling.” —Roger Rosenblatt, Editor-at-Large at TIME Inc.

“Frank Trippett was one of the liveliest, funniest, and wisest writers. In his essays, you hear a touch of the preacher, a lot of the story-teller and satirist.” —Lance Morrow, Essayist

“I read Frank Trippett’s novel Child Ellen and found it moving and full of Faulknerian insights. His essays were models of stylish restraint.” —Stefan Kanfer, Author and former Time Books Editor

“Frank Trippett was one of the really mind-blowing talents of his generation as a journalist, essayist, and story teller. He always dealt with the most dangerous commodity around—truth.” —Bill Emerson, former Editor-in-Chief, The Saturday Evening Post

Shakespeare's Trollop Shakespeare’s Trollop

By Charlaine Harris

Minotaur (Hardcover, ISBN: 0312262280)

Publication date: August 2000

Description from Booklist:

Lily Bard studies the minutiae of the people whose houses she cleans in Shakespeare, Arkansas. A horrific episode in her own past keeps her wary and private, so she is even more than normally chastened by finding the body of Deedra Dean, naked and violated, in a car in the woods. Deedra was free with herself, and nearly every male in Shakespeare had taken from her, but it’s too easy to focus on her taste for male companionship in seeking her murderer, especially when rumors of videotapes and sex toys surface.

Lily, meanwhile, is trying to resolve not only Deedra’s death but also its resonance in her own psyche and her need, barely acknowledged but deep as water, for Jack, the man in her life.

Lily is a terrific character with dark shadings and stark fears, but learning strength and cleaving to it. A supporting cast of quirky characters fully rendered in quick strokes will hold readers as surely as the complex resolution in this cozy on the bleeding edge of noir. —GraceAnne A. DeCandido. Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.

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