Bookmark: Summer Reads 

Thomas L. Friedman's new release, "Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution -- and How It Can Renew America," should equal its predecessor "The World Is Flat" in popularity, according to the buzz at BookExpo America. Friedman's latest work promoting his "green-ism" theory, though a late entry in the race, should be the best-selling nonfiction book this summer. Fiction buffs should push James Patterson's "Sail," about family relationships afloat, into a similar position before the end of June.

Journalist Andrew Ward ("River Run Red," 2005) turns the Civil War on its side in "The Slaves' War: The Civil War in the Words of Former Slaves." By investigating ex-slave interviews, oral histories, letters and personal accounts, Ward produces a fresh portrait of the Civil War.

Likewise, David Boyle ("The Troubadour's Song," 2005) re-examines the discovery of North America in "Toward the Setting Sun: Cabot, Columbus, Vespucci, and the Race for America." Boyle re-creates the age of exploration through searing portraits of the three profiteers.

AŸ?sA,ÿLiving up to his previous novel's high standards, Andre Dubus III ("House of Sand and Fog," 1999) pens "The Garden of Last Days." After her baby sitter cancels, April takes her 3-year-old to work at a stripper club. Dubus' strong characterizations, the story's rapid-fire pace and prevailing sense that all is not well with the world make this title hard to put down.
In an election year, unusual political novels with current themes take up beach chairs. "House Rules" by Mike Lawson ("The Second Perimeter," 2006) reaches out to political junkies who veer to the left as protagonist Joe DeMarco returns to Washington, D.C., to investigate a Muslim plot that may prove home-grown. Lawson's characters come right out of an insider's guide in this laid-back thriller.

Once again, David Guterson ("Our Lady of the Forest," 2003) writes of nature and isolation in "The Other." Well-heeled John William Barry abandons Seattle to live in a Pacific Northwest forest, telling just his one friend of his plans. Not since "Snow Falling on Cedars" has Guterson attempted such a unique voice.
Ready the sunglasses.A,ÿ

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