Recommended Non-Fiction Reading from the Recreational Reading Collection:

The recreational reading (McNaughton) collection is located on the 2nd floor of the library under the staircase.

Rebecca Frankel War Dogs: Tales of Canine Heroism, History and Love (Palgrave Macmillan) LAW-McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor) UH100.F83 2014

Under the cover of night, deep in the desert of Afghanistan, a US Army handler led a Special Forces patrol with his military working dog. Without warning an insurgent popped up, his weapon raised. At the handler’s command, the dog charged their attacker. There was the flash of steel, the blur of fur, and the sound of a single shot; the handler watched his dog take a bullet. During the weeks it would take the dog to heal, the handler never left its side. The dog had saved his life. Loyal and courageous, dogs are truly man’s best friend on the battlefield. While the soldiers may not always feel comfortable calling the bond they form love, the emotions involved are strong and complicated.

In War Dogs, Rebecca Frankel offers a riveting mix of on-the-ground reporting, her own hands-on experiences in the military working dog world, and a look at the science of dogs’ special abilities—from their amazing noses and powerful jaws to their enormous sensitivity to the emotions of their human companions. The history of dogs in the US military is long and rich, from the spirit-lifting mascots of the Civil War to the dogs still leading patrols hunting for IEDs today. Frankel not only interviewed handlers who deployed with dogs in wars from Vietnam to Iraq, but top military commanders, K-9 program managers, combat-trained therapists who brought dogs into war zones as part of a preemptive measure to stave off PTSD, and veterinary technicians stationed in Bagram. She makes a passionate case for maintaining a robust war-dog force. In a post-9/11 world rife with terrorist threats, nothing is more effective than a bomb-sniffing dog and his handler. With a compelling cast of humans and animals, this moving book is a must read for all dog lovers—military and otherwise. (From book jacket)

“This is a lovely book but it’s also a surprising book. I opened it looking forward to reading a few good stories about the use of dogs in war. But midway through it, the realization hit me that this is something larger than that, and far deeper: it is a meditation on war and humans. It illuminates conflict from the unexpected angle of the allure of war, and the damage it does to both species.”—Thomas E. Ricks, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist.

John Branch Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard (Random House 2009) LAW-McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor) GV848.5.B669B73 2014

Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Branch debuts with a biography of hockey player Derek Boogaard (1982-2011), a fierce fighter on the ice who died of an overdose of alcohol and prescription painkillers at the age of 28. “No one ever told Derek that his primary mission in hockey would be to fight,” writes the author. Yet that is what the shy, oversized Saskatchewan native did throughout his career, first for minor teams, then with the Minnesota Wild and the New York Rangers, where he became the NHL’s most feared fighter. In this engrossing narrative, based on an award-winning Times series, Branch details both Boogaard’s life growing up in rural, hockey-mad Canada, where his size stigmatized him in school, and his years of playing hockey, when size—not talent—brought him success. In a sport where violence attracts crowds, Boogaard’s role as an enforcer was to intimidate opponents and protect his team’s star players, often engaging in game-stopping fights. With spotlights beaming and Rocky theme music blaring, the enforcer and his adversaries would beat on each other with fists and sticks and then spend a few minutes in a penalty box. To alleviate stabbing pain in his back hips and shoulder, Boogaard took increasing amounts of painkillers. In his fourth professional season, he obtained 25 prescriptions for oxycodone and hydrocodone from 10 doctors. Despite efforts at rehabilitation, he persisted in his addiction, becoming increasingly erratic and depressed. An autopsy revealed that Boogaard had suffered a series of concussions as well as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative condition caused by repeated blows to the head. Boogaard’s death and increasing public awareness of the dangers of concussions have prompted steps to limit fighting in hockey’s junior leagues, but there’s been no action at the professional level, where a culture of “concussion denial” reigns. A sad, tragic story that underscores the high human cost of violent entertainment. —Review from Kirkus Reviews.

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