Joseph Bernt

Joseph Bernt

Marjorie MacQueen recently purchased several nonfiction titles for the library’s new arrivals shelf. Only two of them, thankfully, focus on Donald Trump.

One of those is “A Warning” by Anonymous, who poses as a senior official in the Trump administration and describes an unprepared, whack-job president and a confused administration hellbent on the road to chaos.

Peter Bergen, vice president of New America, concentrates in “Trump and His Generals: The Cost of Chaos” on Trump’s love-and-then-hate relationship with the generals he praised so highly at the beginning of his presidency and then ridiculed and replaced within three years—Michael Flynn, John Kelly, James Mattis and Herbert Raymond McMaster.

“Good Economics for Hard Times” by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo, recipients of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics, may kill off my favorite economist witticism: “Do you think if it works in the real world, it will work in theory?” Banerjee and Duflo suggest that economists who pay attention to human behavior will discover why ornate theories and strategies of market-based economics so often fail to predict economic decisions. People are not anywhere as rational (or simple) as economists assume.

Will Hunt leads readers through sacred and not so sacred caves, tunnels, mines, abandoned subways and burial sites to explain what has long attracted humans to these dank, dusty, dark depths in “Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet.”

“Transaction Man: The Rise of the Deal and the Decline of the American Dream,” by Nicholas Lemann, describes the collapse of the post-WWII economy, an economy designed by President Roosevelt’s brain trust and driven by corporations that provided secure employment, housing, education and material goods to most Americans but not so much to people of color or recent immigrants.

Journalist William H. Whyte described this comfortable society in “Organization Man,” a post-war bestseller. Lots of government regulation and taxation of wealth. Transaction man emerged as Wall Street and corporate interests successfully lobbied for reduced regulatory control and significant tax cuts. Why operate manufacturing plants when financial and stock transactions proved so profitable?

In a new edition of “The Meritocracy Trap: How America’s Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite,” Elizabeth Letts questions the American belief that people only harvest what they sow based on individual merit. Letts examines differing levels of success depending on race, social status, heredity and wealth.

Sonia Purnell’s “A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II” tells of the exploits and escapes of Virginia Hall, an amputee who spied in occupied France for England beginning two years before the United States entered World War II. Purnell describes Hall’s accomplishments in Europe and frustrations when she joined the male-dominated American Office of Strategic Services (OSS), soon to become the Central Intelligence Agency.

In “On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey,” travel writer Paul Theroux drives the entire Mexico-U.S. border, experiencing its NAFTA-induced tourist cities surrounded by cheap-labor factories before escaping to the Mexican interior, teaching writing courses in Mexico City, and resting at a Zapatista Rebel Autonomous Municipality in Chiapas—devoid of any American distractions.

Now for something completely different. Colleen Weller, Rekos Fellow at the Rekos Fellowship for Orca Conservation, will present “Orcas of the Oregon Coast” at the Cannon Beach Library, 131 N. Hemlock St., at 7 p.m., Wednesday, February 12.

Weller, who holds a Master of Science degree in marine resource management from Oregon State University, has been living in Oregon and studying marine mammals for 11 years.

Her work focuses on orcas of the Eastern North Pacific, especially the critically endangered Southern Resident orca community living off the west coast of the United States and Canada.

Weller’s presentation is sponsored by the Friends of Haystack Rock and by the library.

Also at the library, Cannon Beach Reads—led by Kathleen Bell—will discuss Graham Greene’s “Travels with My Aunt,” Wednesday, February 19, 7-8:30 p.m.

For Greene, generally a serious novelist influenced by the Catholic traditions to which he converted and a novelist of thrillers, “Travels with My Aunt” is an atypical, humorous novel. The main character, a retired banker, meets his aunt at his mother’s funeral. His aunt has long been a prostitute engaged in other criminal activities as well as numerous love affairs.

Only later does Greene’s hero discover that his aunt was his birth mother and his mother was his aunt. This sets readers up for a crazy ride before the retired banker marries a decades-younger girl. If you’ve wanted to give Cannon Beach Reads a try, “Travels with My Aunt” promises to be an amusing read.

Finally, remember to mark your calendar for the Writers Read Celebration, sponsored by the Northwest Authors Series. Writers will read selected entries Friday, February 28, at the library, 7-8:30 p.m.

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