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Blog posts of '2011' 'March'

The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party
Kindly contributed by Michael Seltzer, fan and friend of Longitude
A week ago, a two-page ad in the New York Times Book Review proclaimed the arrival of the 12th book in Alexander McCall Smith’s endearing series, No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. As one of his legion of fans, I quickly devoured all 213 pages— and I was not disappointed. Mma Precious Ramotswe and Mma Grace Makutsi return in full strength. The book’s title refers to the latter’s upcoming wedding to the well-heeled Phuti Radiphuti (“Phuti”). All the other key players return: Mma Ramostwe’s faithful husband; Mr. J.L.B.
Radio Shangri-La
Or, What I Learned in the Happiest Kingdom on Earth. Lisa Napoli writes with easy grace of her colleagues at Radio Kuzoo in Thimphu, along with the culture -- and momentous events -- as Bhutan lurches into democracy and the modern world. She's clearly enthralled (as you will be by her insight and warmth), deciding to take up the role of den mother to her youthful colleagues at the fledgling radio station. Napoli is also originally from Brooklyn, which shows in her forthright approach to the contradictions, poverty and reality of the much mythologized kingdom. Napoli is helping to fund a rural library in "the magical village of Ura in "conjunction with READGlobal.org.
Il Cavaliere
Diane HGales, author of La Bella Linga. Recommended Reading for Italy.Dianne Hales, irrepressible author of La Bella Lingua, was awarded the highest honor the Italian government can bestow on a foreigner: honorary knighthood, with the title of Cavaliere dell’ Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana (Knight of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity) in recognition of La Bella Lingua as "an invaluable tool for promoting the Italian language," presented at a ceremony at the Italian Consulate in San Francisco on March 25.
Sitka Centennial
The oldest NPS unit in Alaska, the 113-acre Sitka National Historical Park commemorates the 1804 Battle of Sitka,  last major conflict between the Russians and Tlingits.  Set along the coast, totem poles and temperate rain forest are combined on the historic and scenic trail within the park. The site also includes the original 1843 Russian Bishop's House, one of the last surviving examples of Russian colonial architecture in North America. The more-than-year-long celebration of the park's centennial culminates with the dedication of a specially commissioned totem pole on April 9, 2011, designed and carved by local Tlingit artist Tommy Joseph.
On the Continent
In celebration of Fodor’s 75th anniversary, the guidebook publisher has re-issued Eugene Fodor’s original 1936 On the Continent as an e-book, which you can download for free. Publisher Tim Jarrell also threw a grand party on Monday night in the ballroom of the Bohemian National Hall in New York, to which we were kindly invited. The congenial Jarrell took to the stage, gamely making his way through thank yous to his Czech co-sponsors (Fodor may have been Hungarian but he lived in Prague for a time, where he met his wife after the war). Czech Tourism, Bohemian National Hall and the Czech Center all contributed to the international affair.
The Mediterranean
A professor at Cambridge, David Abulafia leads a team of eight historians in The Mediterranean in History, an engaging, richly illustrated overview of the civilizations, societies and grand themes in the history of this great sea at the heart of Europe. Published in conjunction with the J. Paul Getty Museum, the book features 150 well-integrated color and 150 black-and-white illustrations.
Sansepolcro, Tuscany
Kindly Contributed By Frances Mayes Author of Every Day In Tuscany Frances MayesWhen I’m at home in Tuscany and the mood strikes for a gita, a little trip, I often say, “Let’s go over to Sansepolcro.”  This flat and livable town was, of course, home to Renaissance painter Piero della Francesca and his work still hangs in the Museo Civico.  The Resurrection of Christ is one of the most profound works of art on earth.  Reason enough for a pilgrimage but the town itself is a joy.  It’s one of those places where you walk around and think I could live here.
About Ireland
Hibernophiles rejoice! The English quiz master, historian and polymath, Christopher Winn celebrated leprechauns, blarney, writer's ghosts, castles and keeps across Ireland from Galaway to Kildare, Wexford and Limerick in these entertaining, informative books. He came up with the idea for the I Never Knew That... series as a tour guide all over the British Isles.
Dear White Van
What's a minibus driving along Highway 1 in Vietnam (see Rough Guide's Make the Most of Your Time on Earth) doing on the cover of the new paper edition of Alexander McCall Smith's
Istanbul Eats
Kindly contributed by Yigal Schleifer, co-author of Istanbul Eats, the blog and savvy new guidebook.
Istanbul has increasingly been appearing on the radar screen of globetrotting food lovers. As the authors of Istanbul Eats, a two-year-old blog, and now guidebook, devoted to ferreting out that city’s best authentic food spots, we understand why. Put simply, Istanbul is one of the world’s great culinary capitals, a place where numerous cultures have passed through and left an indelible mark on what’s served in the city’s kitchens.