9.12.2011

Jillicious Healthy Bites: Nonfiction

Looking for some factual reading?  Try one of these:

Elephant Talk:
The Surprising Science of Elephant Communication
by Ann Downer

Elephant Talk explores the fascinating ways these intelligent animals socialize and communicate.  Here are just a few interesting facts I learned: 
  • African savanna elephants have the largest brains of all land animals.  
  • Elephants live together in families of females that have a hierachial social structure and work together to care for the young; groups of males live together in bachelor societies. 
  • Elephants have a vocal range of 10 octaves (3 more than a piano!) and can produce at least 70 distinct calls. 
  • An elphant trunk is thought to have 150,000 muscles; we have about 850 muscles in our whole body! 
  • Elephants also communicate through infrasound, sound that is too low in frequency to be heard by the human ear. 
The book contains much more about the ways these animals communicate including body language and vibrations.  Information is also provided about the people who study and work with elephants and the threats that are facing these mammals.  An interesting author's note describes ways to get involved and help save the world's elephants.  This is a very interesting nonfiction read, particularly for animal lovers. 

 
They Called Themselves the K.K.K.:
The Birth of an American Terrorist Group
by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

They Called Themselves the K.K.K. is an in-depth, honest look at the origins of the Ku Klux Klan. Frankly, this is not a book I was excited to pick up; it is difficult to read about people doing terrible, unthinkable things to others.  But, I am really glad I read the book and learned more.

Author Susan Bartoletti is a very skilled writer.  She effectively presents the facts from several viewpoints and includes personal testimonies, interviews, journal entries, newspaper articles, illustrations, and photographs.  What I found most interesting were the details of what life was like for the Southerners right after the Civil War.  I realized I had never given much thought to the devastation of the war and the difficulty of rebuilding or starting new lives after the brutal battles.  Also, it was intriguing (and frightening) to see how quickly a "club" of six men turned into an evil organization intent to impose psychological and physical terror on former slaves. 

This is an important book to read and to remind us of the power of evil.  Although difficult to digest at times, we must be informed of history and learn from the mistakes of those who came before us.   

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