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Short Takes: March Issue 

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Wildebeest in a Rainstorm: Profiles of Our Most Intriguing Adventurers, Conservationists, Shagbags & Wanderers
Jon Bowermaster
Menasha Ridge Press, 2009, $16.95

Few have seen more of our watery planet than writer/filmmaker Bowermaster, who rebounds to Stone Ridge between continents. This raffishly titled collection features such fellow travelers as RFK Jr., Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, Native American activist Winona LaDuke, mountaineer Yvon Chouinard, and Obama’s new “energy czar,” Carol Browner.

Toward 2012: Perspectives on the Next Age
Edited by Daniel Pinchbeck and Ken Jordan
Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2008, $16.95

As the Mayan calendar hastens toward its numinous last day, the zeitgeist of transformational consciousness is also picking up speed. Toward 2012 is culled from Reality Sandwich, a website premised on the urgency of creating a sustainable society. Contributors include Hudson Valley visionaries Sharon Gannon, David Rothenberg, and Peter Lamborn Wilson.

New York and Slavery: Time to Teach the Truth
Alan J. Singer
Excelsior Editions/SUNY Press, 2008, $16.95

An inspired high school teacher with Marxist leanings unearths the long-buried history of slavery, complicity, and resistance in New York state, from the Wall Street slave market to the fiery rhetoric of Frederick Douglass. Singer provides useful strategies to help teachers navigate racially charged curriculum and discussions, making this an invaluable resource.

Black Smoke: A Woman’s Journey of Healing, Wild Love, and Transformation in the Amazon
Margaret De Wys
Sterling Publishing Co., 2009, $19.95

Stricken by cancer, composer and Bard professor De Wys trekked into the Ecuadorian jungle to work with a charismatic indigenous healer. Undergoing ritual purifications and ayahuascan visions, she stayed to become his apprentice and lover, then brought him back north with disastrous results. A vivid chronicle of transformative upheaval, for better and worse.

Artists & Activists: Making Culture in New York’s Capital Region
Joseph Dalton, foreword by Marion Roach
The Troy Book Makers, 2009, $17.95

Since 2002, Dalton has covered a free-range cultural beat for Albany’s Times Union. He offers dozens of lively, inspiring profiles of musicians, visual artists, and other luminaries, including filmmakers Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, composer Pauline Oliveros, author William Kennedy, puppeteer Basil Twist, and New York City Ballet director Peter Martins.

River of Dreams: The Story of the Hudson River
Hudson Talbott
G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2009, $17.99

A painterly river runs through these pages, and it’s never the same one twice. Talbott’s watercolor Hudson may be frozen in blocks of ice, tinged with a vivid Hudson River School sunset, murky and polluted, or popping with comeback shad. A concise and accessible history for children and open hearted adults. Talbott and Scenic Hudson Executive Director Ned Sullivan will speak at the Hudson Opera House on March 8.

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