Thursday, April 02, 2009



The "Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions" ($18.95 in paperback from University of California Press) identifies 130 species. Arthur Shapiro, Professor of Evolution and Ecology at UC Davis, covers the lives of butterflies and which garden plants attract them. The bulk of the guide is devoted to detailed species descriptions with full-color illustrations by Timothy Manolis. Tidbits abound: "The Anise Swallowtail is one of the very rare cases where a single species will feed both on herbs (carrot family) and trees (cultivated citrus in southern California and in Butte County). . . ."


Sacramento native Albert Hurtado, an historian at the University of Oklahoma, has produced a definitive scholarly biography of a California pioneer (who attended John Bidwell's wedding in 1868). "John Sutter: A Life on the North American Frontier" ($24.95 in paperback from University of Oklahoma Press) is a detailed warts-and-all account. "Sutter's financial management was not helped by his well-known addiction to drink. His friend Bidwell, a lifelong temperance man, worried about him and arranged for . . . a celebrated temperance lecturer" to visit Sutter. "It did no good. 'I told her, that she could not convert me,' Sutter explained."


In "The Purple and the Orange: A Tale of Defoliation" ($23 in paperback from Dorrance Publishing), Fair Oaks author Denis De Luchi has written a massive novel (569 pages) about an Air Force pilot named Tony Gyro (pronounced "hero") who volunteers to spray Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Though married, Major Hero has a number of sexual liaisons, and throughout the sardonic story searches for the war's meaning. He concludes: "We have it all wrong." An author's note says that De Luchi "is a retired Air Force pilot and college physics professor. For Lent, 1952, he gave up church."

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