Vaclav Havel

Vaclav Havel, the longtime dissident who later became the leader of the Czech Republic passed away December 18 at the age of 75. Havel was better known as a poet and playwright when he led his nation through the bloodless Velvet Revolution in 1989 that toppled the decades long Soviet regime in Czechoslovakia. Havel later went on to serve as president of Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1992. After the federation peacefully split into two states he served as president of the Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003. The other state became Slovakia. Among those expected to be at his Friday funeral are Bill Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the presidents of Germany, Poland, Austria, Slovakia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Happy Birthday Diego Rivera!

Mexican artist Diego Rivera was born 125 years ago on December 8, 1886. Married to fellow artist Frida Kahlo, he was renowned for his murals which can be found in Mexico City, San Francisco, New York City, and Detroit. Between the years 1932 and 1933, Rivera painted a famous series of fresco panels entitled Detroit Industry on the walls of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Depicting industry at the Ford Motor Company, Rivera himself considered it his most successful work.

New Author Biographies

Check out some of the library's new author biographies which have been published recently. Place your holds now!

And so it goes: Kurt Vonnegut, a life by Charles Shields

Charles Dickens: a life by Claire Tomalin

Fiction ruined my family by Jeanne Darst

Hemingway's boat: everything he loved in life, and lost, 1934-1961 by Paul Hendrickson

Phillis Wheatley: biography of a genius in bondage by Vincent Carretta

Happy Birthday Mark Twain!

Mark Twain, one of America's best-known and well-loved authors, was born on November 30, 1835. His works have been translated into hundreds of languages, and Hollywood continues to produce film adaptations of his books. The first volume of his autobiography was published in 2010 on the centenary of the author's death as he did not want some of his more scalding opinions and observations in print until he had been dead at least a century. The book was published by the staff of the Mark Twain Project — an archive that contains Twain's private papers.

Read the Book, See the Movie

The upcoming weeks will see several new films released that are based on, or inspired by popular books. Here are some of the most anticipated:

The adventures of Tintin: the chapter book by adapted by Stephanie Peters — Directed by Stephen Spielberg

Extremely loud & incredibly close by Jonathan Safran Foer — Starring Tom Hanks & Sandra Bullock

The girl with the dragon tattoo by Stieg Larsson — Starring Daniel Craig & Rooney Mara

The invention of Hugo Cabret: a novel in words and pictures by Brian Selznick — Hugo is directed by Martin Scorcese

Evelyn Lauder, Breast Cancer Activist

Evelyn Lauder, the longtime breast cancer activist who helped to create the pink ribbon as the symbol of the fight against the disease, died November 12 at the age of 75. Born in Vienna, Austria in 1936, she came to the United States as a young child when her parents fled from the Nazis. The family settled in New York where she met her future husband, Leonard Lauder, whose parents owned a small cosmetics firm. She eventually went to work with at her mother-in-law Estee Lauder's company which today has revenues of nearly $2.5 billion. During her long career Evelyn was instrumental in developing and marketing new products, including Clinique. She was also a leading philanthropist and became very involved in the fight against breast cancer. Along with her friend, editor Alexandra Penney, they created the idea of a pink ribbon as a symbol for breast cancer. In 1993 she founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation which has raised more than $350 million and supports researchers around the world. Mrs. Lauder was also an avid gardener and photographer, as well as the author of several books including In Great Tate: Fresh Simple Reasons for Eating and Living.

J. Edgar Hoover

The highly anticipated new film J. Edgar opens this weekend. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts, Judi Dench and Armie Hammer, it explores the public and private life of J. Edgar Hoover — one of the most powerful, controversial and enigmatic figures of the 20th century. Hoover was considered the face of law enforcement in America for almost fifty years. From the time he became acting director of the Bureau of Investigation (predecessor to the Federal Bureau of Investigation) in 1924, to the end of his tenure there at his death in 1972, Hoover was both feared and admired, reviled and revered. Prior to this new film Hoover has been portrayed many times before in both film and on stage.

In Memoriam

Two notable figures from recent American history passed away this week. Andy Rooney, the curmudgeonly commentator on CBS’s 60 Minutes for more than 30 years, died November 4 at the age of 92. Rooney died one month after he had signed off from "60 Minutes" in October after a 33-year run. A statement from CBS News stated that he died of complications following minor surgery. Rooney began his journalism career as a correspondent for the Stars and Stripes newspaper and was awarded a Bronze Star for his work during the Normandy invasion. He joined CBS News in 1949 and joined "60 Minutes" in 1968, first as a producer, then as a commentator ten years later.

Boxer Joe Frazier died November 7 at the age of 67 after a brief battle with liver cancer. Known as Smokin' Joe Frazier, the former heavyweight champion was the first man to beat Muhammad Ali when he knocked him down in the 15th round at Madison Square Garden in March 1971. He was a top amateur for several years before becoming the only American fighter to win a gold medal in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.

New Celebrity Biographies

If you're looking for some great new reads about your favorite actors, sports stars or musicians, then you're in luck. There have been a plethora of celebrity biographies and autobiographies published this fall on everyone from Shaquille O"Neal to Spencer Tracy. More great titles can be found below:

The Garner Files: A Memoir by Garner, James/ Winokur, Jon/ Andrews, Julie (INT)

Happy accidents by Jane Lynch

Harold: the boy who became Mark Twain by Hal Holbrook

Looking for Crazy, Stupid Love?

Unfortunately, fans of this popular new DVD will have to wait an extra 28 days to check out a copy from the Library due to a new policy recently instituted by Warner Home Video:

Warner Home Video will no longer distribute theatrical releases to libraries or home video rental stores until 28 days after they release the movies for sale at retailers. This Warner Home Video policy applies to all public libraries and video rental outlets such as Redbox, Netflix, and Blockbuster. In addition to being released 28 days after the retail version, Warner's rental version DVDs will not contain bonus features or extras. Please note that Warner’s new policy will only impact titles that have a theatrical release, perhaps amounting to about 12 titles per year. Non-theatrical Warner releases will not be affected by this policy.

The first three Warner theatrical titles affected by this new policy are Crazy, Stupid Love, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, pt.2, and The Hangover, pt.2. If you would like to express your opinions to Warner Home Video you can call toll-free at 1-866-373-4389 or by email.

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