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The Metal Life Car: The Inventor, the Imposter, and the Business of Lifesaving
The Metal Life Car: The Inventor, the Imposter, and the Business of Lifesaving
George E. Buker Ph.D.
University Alabama Press, 2008
192 pp., $34.95

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John Wilson


"How do you decide what to review?"

With this issue, improbably enough, Books & Culture celebrates its thirteenth anniversary. Whether you have been with us from the start (bless you!) or have only recently subscribed, many thanks.

Thirteen years. Yes, time does fly. Never mind the increasingly byzantine explanations and counter-explanations of what really led to the subprime crisis and who the villains really are (utterly beyond my ken in any case). What I want to understand is this: How can it be that six months have passed since I sat in this very spot, telling you—in my column for the March/April issue—about the spring's flood of books? Wasn't that just a few weeks ago? But no: The calendar insists that we're in August now, and there's unmistakable evidence of the fall harvest on every hand: piles of galleys, neat stacks of newly minted books, reviews and notices from dozens of sources, publishers' catalogues taking us to the end of 2008 and into the new year. Even as anxiety rises in the publishing world, heightened by dire forecasts about the future of reading, books keep coming in unimaginable profusion: university press monographs; would-be bestsellers (the usual assortment: celebrity memoirs; White House memoirs; tales of vampires, serial killers, and diabolical conspiracies, most of them involving the U.S. government) and actual bestsellers (The Shack, by William P. Young, "the miraculous runaway bestseller that's changing people's lives"); dueling editions of classics (true, you already own three copies of Pride and Prejudice, but the packaging of this version is quite enticing); books on 1 Kings, 2 Corinthians, and 3 John; and roughly a thousand books on politics (especially of the American variety) and religion (especially of the evangelical variety) and how they do or DO NOT mix.

"To see a world in a grain of sand, / And a heaven in a wild flower, / Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, / And eternity in an hour." So said William Blake in "Auguries of Innocence." And if we meditate ...

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