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The Bacchae of Euripides: A New Translation with a Critical Essay, by Donald Sutherland, University of Nebraska Press, 1968, $13.00, 142 pp. This play is an enigma, as far as Greek plays go. It is a tragedy, but not in the historical sense of Greek tragedy. Nor does it follow along the lines of tragedy as theorized by Aristotle or Nietzsche. The Bacchae were not fully understood, so perhaps it's befitting that this play - of which they're the subjects - causes modern scholars to scratch their heads. It doesn't help that over fifty lines of the original Greek have been lost. It helps even less that those lines were from the very climax of the play. So why bother with it? Because it's unlike any other Greek classic you're likely to ever read.

Banana Republicans: How the Right-Wing is Turning America into a One-Party State, by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, Random House, 2004, $11.95, 176 pp. Rampton and Stauber expose a vast right-wing conspiracy in Banana Republicans that would make Hillary beam.

Basic Accounting For the Small Business, by Clive G. Cornish, Self-Counsel Press, 1977, $4.50, 159 pp. The beauty of this book lies in what it's not about: the latest loopholes in business tax law. It is about accounting basics, as applicable today as it was the day it was written.
Beach Red, by Peter Bowman, Random House, 1945, 122 pp. The year: 1945. The place: The South Pacific. It could be any arena though. Vietnam, Korea, The Persian Gulf or even Grenada. It could be Panama or El Salvador. Beach Red is many things. It is a theater where soldiers perform acts of war. It's also a fictional account of a terrifying hour in the life of the US war machine. But most of all, Beach Red is a poetic tribute to the Unknown Soldier. Its compassion results in painting a picture of genuine patriotism by specifically not playing the patriotic card. An excellent read and well worth the trip to your local library or secondhand bookstore.

Bearing an Hourglass, by Piers Anthony, Del Rey, 1984, 293 pp. Book two of the author's Incarnations of Immortality series, Bearing an Hourglass documents the adventures of Time. After a pair of personal tragedies leaves Norton - our hero - despondent, he volunteers to fill the vacancy of Time. Traveling with his hourglass, he's able to go back to a time prior to the tragic events, and visit his deceased wife and child. In doing so, he unwittingly changes the past by carrying into it Satan's minions, thus handing them the opportunity to change the outcome of everything.

Beautiful Jim Key: The Lost History of the World's Smartest Horse, by Mim Eichler Rivas, HarperCollins, 2005, 334 pp. Beautiful Jim Key: The Lost History of the World's Smartest Horse is a painstakingly researched biography by Mim Eichler Rivas. Its thought-provoking story centers around the star of the show, Jim Key, a horse of preternatural talent. He counted, read, and gave improvisational performances to sold-out crowds at the turn-of-the-century. His owner, William "Doc" Key, was no less sensational than Jim, and his promoter, Albert Rogers, even more sensational with his promotions than either of them. Combined, they were an unstoppable force for the lime-light. Rivas draws much of the story from a promotional pamphlet written by Rogers in 1897, which became a bestseller on the fair and exposition circuit, and catapulted the horse to cult status. Jim Key's owner, a former slave, never wavered from his claim that the horse's talent was natural, drawn out merely by treating him with kindness. In their decade of superstardom, Jim and company did more to fund and popularize the nascent cause for the humane treatment of animals than perhaps any other organization of the time. In 1907, Jim Key retired to Doc's farm in Shelbyville, Tennessee. On September 18, 1912, having outlived Doc by three years, Beautiful Jim Key met his maker. His headstone is inscribed: "Kindness, Justice, Mercy to All Creatures." Through Beautiful Jim Key, his work lives on.

Behind the Wall: A Journey Through China, by Colin Thubron, Random House, 1988, $12.19, 306 pp. A precursor to his seminal travel journal Shadow of the Silk Road (HarperCollins, $15.99), Behind the Wall recounts the author's 1985 visit to the Middle Kingdom on the eve of becoming an economic powerhouse.

A Bell for Adano, by John Hersey, Bantam Books, 1965, 245 pp. This wonderful story takes place during the Allied occupation of Italy. It's a patiently spun tale about one Major Joppolo and the bonds he forms with the people of Adano, a small fishing village he's been assigned to oversee. First published in 1944, A Bell for Adano gained Hersey a Pulitzer.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson, HarperCollins, 2005, $6.99, 108 pp. When the Herdman children (think of the worst family in your neighborhood - unsupervised, rowdy, irreverent and full of mischief) are allowed to participate in the annual Christmas pageant against everyone's better judgement, they result in bullying their way into the meatiest roles, and the production is prematurely written off as a failure.

The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: An Investigative Reporter Reveals the Truth About Globalization, Corporate Cons, and High-finance Fraudsters, by Greg Palast, New American Library, 2003, $14.00, 390 pp. Though long on title, Palast reveals little here we didn't already suspect: Congress has been bought by lobbyists. Still, the extent to which those lobbyists are able to restrict choice at the local level is eye-opening. In this expanded election edition, the author's added a chapter on G. Dubya's "Help America Vote Act", and explains how it will exclude a million eligible Black voters from participating in the 2004 election.

The Best Places to Kiss in Los Angeles, by Paula Begoun, Beginning Press, 1989, $8.95. Ms. Begoun covers everything from scenic overlooks in Griffith Park to Dining in New Port Beach. Her directions are clear, usually instructing the reader via boulevard and avenue, avoiding the confusion of L.A.'s freeway system.

The Best Places to Kiss in New York City, by Paula Begoun, Beginning Press, 1989, $8.95, 196 pp. Billed as the first travel guide for New Yorkers in love, inside are found over two hundred locations for snuggling and getting personal with your significant other. It is not the first such guide published by its author, nor is it her best. Ms. Begoun has a distinctly entertaining style which is absent here. Paula, we miss you.

The Best Places to Kiss in the Northwest, by Paula Begoun, Beginning Press, 1986, $8.95. This is the original Best Places to Kiss. Ms. Begoun writes enthusiastically about the places she knows and loves, giving the reader the impression the author's done her homework.

The Best Places to Kiss in San Francisco, by Paula Begoun, Beginning Press, 1989, $8.95. In this guide the author gives the impression that her discoveries are just that - discoveries, not advertising. Fortunately, she avoids trendy tourist-laden places.

The Best Places to Kiss in Southern California, by Paula Begoun, Beginning Press, 1989, $8.95, 148 pp. This guide feels less focused than the author's previous offerings. It contains more misses than hits, due largely to the absence of paper.
The Best Short Plays 1971, edited by Stanley Richards, Chilton Book Co., 1971, 324 pp. This collection is the fourth volume in the Margaret Mayorga series of noteworthy one acts. Most of the titles no longer ring a bell, but the substance that caught Richards' attention remains intact. Includes I can't Imagine Tomorrow by Tennessee Williams.

Beth Henley: Collected Plays, by Beth Henley, Smith and Kraus, 2000. Beth Henley: Collected Plays contains volume 1 and 2 of the playwright's celebrated works. Best known for her stage hit Crimes of the Heart - for which she won a Pulitzer - Collected Plays also showcases her talent on scripts like The Miss Firecracker Contest, The Lucky Spot, The Debutante Ball, Control Freaks, and others. Part of both the Contemporary Playwrights and Plays for Actors series.

The Better World Shopping Guide 2nd Edition, by Ellis Jones, New Society Publishers, 2008, $9.95, 177 pp. In The Better World Shopping Guide, Jones has compiled ratings of products from detergent to computers based on the item's environmental impact and the product manufacturer's social responsibility. Impressive.

Betty Crocker's Microwave Cooking, Golden Press, 1987, 96 pp. "Microwave cooking" is an oxymoron. Includes main dishes, breads, veggies, desserts and snacks.
Big & Little Animals, by Elizabeth Elias Kaufman, Price, Stern, Sloan, 1986, $1.25. This book - just one in the Animal Information Books series - is not nearly as big as its author's name is long. However, that should not discourage the reader, for it's packed with full color photos and information on selected animals of all sizes.

Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How it Distorts the Truth, by Joe Conason, Thomas Dunne Books, 2003, $24.95, 234 pp. In Big Lies, Conason exposes the lies (all ten of them) promulgated by the right-wing. I thought there were more too.
Biology in the Laboratory, by William T. Keeton, Michael W. Dabney and Robert E. Zollinhofer, W. W. Norton & Co., 1970, 229 pp. This scientific tome reveals the interior world going on out of sight of our exterior one. Chock-full with illustrations, appendice.

The Blacks: A Clown Show, by Jean Genet, Grove Press, 1977, $2.95 128 pp. Genet was intrigued when asked to write a play for an all Black cast. He accomplished the assignment by delivering a play that begs the question, "What is Black?" For that matter, what is color? Originally produced in 1959, The Blacks is a lyrical feast that drops stereotyping squarely on its head.

Blue Eyeshadow Should Be Illegal, by Paula Begoun, Beginning Press, 1986, $7.95, 94 pp. Begoun's one helpful gal. In her Best Places to Kiss series, she gave the world great locations to make out. As the web's Cosmetics Cop, she offers consumers product reviews. In Blue Eyeshadow Should Be Illegal, she gives the world alternatives to pricey makeup. For instance, Milk of Magnesia works to eliminate oil, and baking soda's the perfect substitute for abrasive skin scrubs. Who knew?
Bluebird Canyon, by Dan McCall, Congdon & Weed, 1983, $14.95, 373 pp. The jacket proclaims this novel "comic and tragic, and ultimately transcendent." It is not. Rex Hooker, the story's main character, is an actor on a soap opera who's having trouble keeping the TV role and his personal life separate.

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