Monthly Archives: May 2014

A Happy Voyage

The Kennedys, a Sailboat, and the Sea
by James W. Graham

Perhaps it can’t be explained, this endless fascination so many of us have with the Kennedys. Thousands of books have tackled the subject, whether through the wistful eyes of nostalgia for Camelot or the relentless tragedies overcome by one of America’s most enduring dynasties or the intersection of politics, power, celebrity, and glamor. It seems that so much has been written about this one family that little of particular import could be added to the literature, which in itself has become something of a cottage industry in publishing: most books about one or other or all of the Kennedy family is almost certain to strike gold.

imageVictura is no exception. This lovingly told history of the Kennedy family—from Joe and Rose to Joe Jr. and Jack and Bobby to Ted and Chris and Patrick and all the Shrivers—examines the crew from the vantage point of the sea and their love of sailing.

Written by James Graham, who served as a senior advisor to former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar and the Illinois House of Representatives, Victura offers a fresh perspective on the history of a family that would otherwise seem to have been told countless times already. But Graham manages to put a new spin on familiar events, chronicling the highs and lows the family has enjoyed and endured by revealing how they have consistently turned to the sea and, most notably, one of their favorite vessels, the Victura, a twenty-five-foot Wianno Senior.

In his acknowledgments, Graham thanks Christopher Kennedy and other Kennedys and Shrivers for granting interviews and sharing their stories of the Victura and sailing and the sea, and the research he has put into the book is evident. Graham, who sails out of Wilmette Harbor north of Chicago, displays clear affection for both the extended Kennedy family and for sailing. Victura the book seems very much a labor of love, an intersection of at least a few great interests: politics, sailing, and the Kennedys.

Victura the vessel also seems a labor of love, a sloop the Kennedys sailed for roughly five decades, surviving lightning strikes, hurricanes, fire, and countless races fought hard for by the highly competitive Kennedy clan. Often sailed with JFK at the helm, the vessel became at times more than a sporty get-away as journalists, photographers, politicians, and celebrities were invited along on outings, often as a means to further the Kennedy brand, as much exercise as an exercise in publicity.

Graham deftly moves among family history, political history, and sailing lore to present a compelling story that is at times exciting, heartbreaking, and fascinating. Although rife with sailing terms and phrases (as one might expect), the book is accessible even to landlubbers, despite a few bits that go unexplained (e.g., “stepping the mast” might well confuse readers who spend most of their time on terra firma).

Politics, history, sports—there’s something for just about anyone in these pages, whether those already steeped in Kennedy lore or those coming to the family history for the first time. Readers also will find much about literature and poetry, thanks in large part to Jackie Kennedy’s influence on the family, as well as about nature. Graham refers often to nature writer Henry Beston, a man whose reputation grew at the same time the Kennedy children were coming of age. Some of these references to Beston’s work feel like tangential interludes, but they distract only mildly from the book.

A bit more troubling are some copy editing misses that mar the otherwise lovely text: “then,” for example, appears more than a few times when the correct word should be “than.”

Such misses are made up for by Graham’s lively take on the Kennedy clan, a warmly told story rich in imagery and inspiration, wrapped in a beautifully designed book that combines with the author’s text to make for a great package.

Throughout Victura, Graham makes mention of the highly competitive nature of the entire Kennedy clan. Joe Sr. was one of those folks who thought that second place is nothing more than first loser. What Graham has here is a winner—a first-rate effort well worth the read.

Four-Star Review

April 2014, ForeEdge/University Press of New England
$29.95, hardcover, 266 pages
ISBN: 978-1-61168-411-7

—Reviewed by Kelli Christiansen



Filed under nonfiction, Uncategorized

Pondering Some Everyday Inspiration

CBR_Logo2Inspired Every Day:
Essays and Stories on Finding
Extraordinary Grace in Ordinary Moments
by Patricia Crisafulli

Inspired Every Day, a new collection of short stories and essays from bestselling author Patricia Crisafulli, is at once thoughtful and thought-provoking. In this short volume, Crisafulli has crafted a well-written collection of stories meant to inspire readers to re-examine their lives with fresh eyes.

CCrisafulli Inspired coverrisafulli, whose previous titles include the New York Times bestseller The House of Dimon: How JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon Rose to the Top of the Financial World and, with Andrea Redmond, Comebacks and Rwanda, Inc., is based in the Chicago area, from where she writes and blogs at “Faith, Hope and Fiction.”

Inspired Every Day, which is available primarily through Hallmark stores (and on Amazon as well), contains just sixteen pieces: eight essays and eight short stories. Topics include nature, family, and everyday life. These essays and stories are well written, with Crisafulli choosing every word carefully and crafting lovely sentences. But many of the works in this book leave the reader wanting more. The stories themselves often are unresolved. Each story and essay reads as if it is the beginning of something wonderful, but each feels unfinished. In the end, although Crisafulli does her best to inspire in her latest volume, she falls just short of actually doing so.


Author Patricia Crisafulli

Crisafulli does come close to delivering the promised inspiration, and she does a fine job of leaving the reader with much to ponder about his or her own life, even if she doesn’t quite deliver the goods when it comes to inspiration. The book promises essays and stories to “brighten your day, give you hope, and strengthen your faith,” and it does do that to some extent. But the author could have come closer by better bringing each story to fruition.

At just 79 pages, Inspired, an illustrated collection, is an easy book, each story or essay taking just a few minutes to read. Sadly, however, the volume lacks any real depth. That said, this would be a good title to read just before bed, after a long, hard day at work, or before starting one’s workday as the book does encourage readers to look for inspiration in their own lives and points toward ways to do so. In that, Crisafulli has accomplished something important, even if not all readers will find each essay or story wholly inspiring.

Three-Star Review

March 2014, Hallmark Gift Books
$12.95, hardcover, 79 pages

—Reviewed by Karri E. Christiansen

Learn more about Patricia Crisafulli.

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Just What the Doctor Ordered: Medical Publishing in Chicagoland

CBR_Logo2It’s National Strawberry Day, which seems like a healthier option, perhaps, than National Quiche Lorraine Day, which also is celebrated today, May 20 (by whom, I don’t know, but that’s another blog post for another day).

Since health and nutrition are on my brain, it seems like a fine time to take a look at medical publishers in Chicago and the Midwest. As it happens, the area is home to several publishers who focus on clinical medicine, health, health education, health sciences, nursing, pharmacy, etc., etc. These houses and associations publish books, journals, magazines, and related literature for students, professionals, and laypeople.

Medical publishing generally falls within the STM category (science, technical, medical), which is roughly a $6 billion market; medical accounts for about one third of that. Among the largest publishers in the field are Elsevier, McGraw-Hill, Springer, Wiley/Blackwell, Wolters Kluwer, and Thomson. Smaller publishers include Goodheart-Willcox and Quintessence Publishing. In addition, the American Medical Association, American Dental Association, Radiological Society of North America, and a number of other associations, societies, and professional organizations based in and around Chicago and the suburbs publish journals and related literature, largely for members and professionals.G-W anatomy 9781619604124

Since we looked at local association publishers last year, today we’ll look at non-association medical publishers that have offices or are based here in Chicagoland: Goodheart-Willcox, McGraw-Hill Medical, Quintessence Publishing, and Wolters Kluwer.

Launched in 1921, Goodheart-Willcox today publishes print and digital textbooks for Grades 6–12, higher education, and professional learning, with a focus on career and technical education. The publisher, headquartered in Tinley Park, publishes in a variety of subjects; in the medical area, the house offers titles in anatomy/physiology, food/nutrition, health education, and health sciences. Recent titles include Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology and Principles of Food Science, 3e.

MH Harrisons 007174889XMcGraw-Hill Medical has offices in Burr Ridge and New York. The group is part of McGraw-Hill Professional, which itself is part of McGraw-Hill Education. According to the company, McGraw-Hill Medical is “publisher of Harrison’s, the world’s #1 medical textbook, and a leading provider of digital solutions for medical students and practitioners.” The group publishes in dozens of medical subjects, from anatomy, biochemistry, and critical care to surgery, toxicology, and urology. Recent titles include Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment 2014, Pharmacotherapy Casebook: A Patient-Focused Approach, 9e, and Williams Obstetrics, 24e.

Based in Hanover Park, the U.S. offices of Quintessence Publishing are but one of nearly two dozen locations around the world. Founded in 1950, the publisher began in Berlin publishing only German-language books and journals about dentistry. According to theQuintessence cover B6393 company’s website, “[t]he first English-language journal, Quintessence International, was launched in 1969 following the opening of the U.S. office in Chicago.” Today, Quintessence publishes books, journals, and multimedia products, still with a focus on dentistry. The company also offers related symposia. Among its best-selling titles are Summitt’s Fundamentals of Operative Dentistry, Periodontal Review Q&A—A Study Guide, and Change Your Smile: Discover How a New Smile Can Transform Your Life, 4e.

Another international publisher with offices in the United States is Wolters Kluwer. Founded nearly two centuries ago, the professional reference house publishes in several areas: legal & regulatory, tax & accounting, financial & compliance, and health. In medical publishing, Wolters Kluwer focuses on clinical solutions, medical research, and professional & educational resources. Although Wolters Kluwer maintains offices in Illinois in Chicago and Riverwoods, Wolters Kluwer Health is headquartered in Philadelphia. Indeed, the publisher has offices in more than forty countries around the world, and it employs more than 19,000 people.

Of course, these are not the only publishers in the area that tackle STM topics. Several other houses publish in health, medicine, and nutrition, whether for professionals or consumers. The University of Chicago Press, for example, publishes in medical science, psychiatry, and psychology. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Agate Publishing’s Surrey Books imprint focuses on food and lifestyle books. Geared toward consumers and laypeople, Surrey Books ventures into such health-related topics as veganism and food allergies.

STM publishing represents a sizable segment of the publishing industry, and growth expectations for this area are positive. STM, The International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers, projects growth in medical publishing to be 6.3% in 2014, coming off YOY growth of 5.8% in 2013. With a number of STM publishers in the greater Chicago area, this bodes well for a segment of the industry that employs 110,000 people around the world. Indeed, according to The STM Report: An Overview of Scientific and Scholarly Journal Publishing, “the STM book market … is evolving rapidly in a transition to digital publishing. Ebooks currently make up about 17% of the market but are growing much faster than STM books and than the STM market as a whole.”

That kind of healthy growth may well be just what the doctor ordered.

—Kelli Christiansen

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