March-April 2020

Book report

New reads about animals, baseball and more from Bethesda-area authors

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For years, Ingrid Newkirk has followed research chronicling the talents and emotions of all types of animals—from chimpanzees to dolphins and dogs. She has told their stories in the book Animalkind: Remarkable Discoveries about Animals and Revolutionary New Ways to Show Them Compassion (Simon & Schuster, January 2020). “I want to show people how clever animals are—what good mothers and fathers they are, how loyal and interesting they are,” says the Chevy Chase resident who co-founded People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) 40 years ago. In the book, Newkirk and co-author Gene Stone of Hudson, New York, describe the intelligence of animals and suggest ways people can create a better world for them, including buying faux fleece instead of wool.

More than 1,000 instructions flash back and forth between players and coaches during a typical nine-inning Major League Baseball game, according to Paul Dickson. The Garrett Park author unpacks how that communication works—especially with electronics on the field—in The Hidden Language of Baseball: How Signs and Sign-Stealing Have Influenced the Course of Our National Pastime (University of Nebraska Press, second edition, September 2019). The topic is particularly relevant following recent accusations of teams stealing signs through the use of Apple Watches and outfield cameras. Dickson also examines dummy signals that are used to confuse the opposing team and players’ subconscious mannerisms or “tells.” “It’s a game within a game,” he says.

Nancy Naomi Carlson says her collection of poems captures the ups and downs in her life over a period of 20 years. An Infusion of Violets (Seagull Books, August 2019) balances themes of love with darker personal stories of loss and Carlson’s battle with breast cancer. An editor and translator who worked for 30 years as a teacher and counselor at Montgomery County Public Schools, Carlson often wrote ideas on slips of paper during the workday and pulled them together in late-night writing sessions at her computer. “You can’t wrestle it into shape. You have to let the poem lead you,” says Carlson, who lives in Wheaton. “I want the book to give readers a sense of hope that even when tough things happen, you can find some joy.”

In her nonfiction book Citizen 865: The Hunt for Hitler’s Hidden Soldiers in America (Hachette Books, November 2019), Debbie Cenziper chronicles the pursuit of Jakob Reimer—Nazi recruit 865—who slipped out of Poland after World War II and lived undetected in New York for years. The Gaithersburg author traveled to Poland, Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary to retrace the steps of investigators searching for information about Nazi war criminals living in the U.S. who worked at an obscure training camp in Poland, where 1.7 million Polish Jews were killed. “Mass murder is not easy. It takes a lot on the ground. Most people who helped probably got away with it and led their lives peacefully,” Cenziper says. “Justice, even delayed justice, is absolutely critical.”