Sunday, June 19, 2016

Harding talk at World War II Museum, plus new releases, Louisiana book events, Cottonwood Books

Author Stephen Harding presents “The Castaway’s War: One Man's Battle against Imperial Japan” Tuesday at the World War II Museum in New Orleans. There will be a reception at 5 p.m., a presentation at 6 p.m. and a book signing at 7 p.m., all in the museum’s U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center.
In the early hours of July 5, 1943, the destroyer USS Strong was hit by a Japanese torpedo killing dozens of sailors. While accompanying ships were able to rescue most of Strong’s surviving crewmen, scores were submerged in the ocean as the shattered warship sank beneath the waves. Based on official American and Japanese histories, personal memoirs and the author’s interviews, “The Castaway’ War” tells the personal tale of Navy Lt. Hugh Barr Miller’s fight for survival.
Harding is the author of eight previous books, including The New York Times bestseller “The Last Battle” and “Last to Die.” He is a longtime journalist specializing in military affairs. For nearly two decades, he was on the staff of Soldiers, the official magazine of the US Army, reporting from Northern Ireland, Israel, Egypt, New Zealand, Bosnia, Kuwait and Iraq. Currently he is editor-in-chief of Military History magazine.
The author program is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. RSVP online or by calling (504) 528-1944, Ext. 412.

New releases
Raif Shwayri tells the story of Lebanese immigrant Alfred Nicola, the fortune he began building as a peddler in Louisiana and the family that founded Al-Kafaat University, a Middle East institution serving the underprivileged and disabled in “Beirut on the Bayou: Alfred Nicola, Louisiana, and the Making of Modern Lebanon.” The author’s grandfather Habib Shwayri arrived at Ellis Island in 1902 and changed his name to Nicola, moving to New Orleans where he had relatives. There he began peddling down Bayou Lafourche, earning the nickname “Sweet Papa” for his kindness and generosity. When he returned home to Lebanon in 1920, he invested the money in real estate and died a wealthy man in 1956. After his death, his youngest son, Nadim (the author’s father), turned his part of the inheritance into an endowment that started Al-Kafaàt.
            Donald C. Jackson takes readers into the sacred spaces where hunters and fishers connect with the earth in “Deeper Currents,” published by the University Press of Mississippi. Jackson explores hunting and fishing as frameworks — sacraments — for discovering, engaging and finding meaning.

Book Sale
            The Friends of Ouachita Public Library Book Sale will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the West Ouachita Branch Library, 188 Highway 546 in West Monroe (1/2 mile north of Cheniere-Drew exit off I-20). There will be hardback and paperback books, videos, CDs, audio books and children’s book for only 10 cents each.

Book news
O’Neil de Noux’s novel “The Long Cold” has been nominated for the Shamus Award for Best Original Private Eye Paperback. Shamus Awards are given annually by the Private Eye Writers of America to recognize excellence in private eye fiction. The awards will be presented at the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in New Orleans in September.

Southern bookstores
Next up on our tour of great Southern bookstores is Cottonwood Books of Baton Rouge, nestled near the Interstate 10 overpass on Perkins Road, close to the LSU campus. Owner Danny Plaisance sells both new and used titles in this quaint shop, many of the books antiques, collector items, first editions and specific to Louisiana history. Have something specific in mind? Plaisance is there to help. He’s a former board member for the Foundation for Historical Louisiana and past president of the Baton Rouge Civil War Round Table. For more information, visit

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country.” She writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at