In 2002, National Geographic asked journalist Scott Wallace to chronicle the journey of a 34-man team in search of a people known as the flecheiros — or the Arrow People. The Unconquered is the story of that team's paradoxical quest: to study the Arrow People without coming into contact with them, for the safety of the explorers and the tribe. Although the explorers faced possible attacks with poisoned arrows, they posed even more insidious threats to the Arrow People, such as potentially devastating germs and corrupting cultural values. The explorers' journey began with two weeks of river travel before the team walked into the closed-canopy forest for three weeks, and began to find ways of understanding the Arrow People from a distance.
In Winning the War on War, Joshua Goldstein argues that, despite a hard decade of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Congo and Sudan, the past 10 years have seen fewer war deaths than any decade in the past 100 years. According to Goldstein, the levels of violence during World War II were 100 times higher than during wars today, whereas the Cold War years were just triple that of today and the 1990s fell to double today's measures. The major explanation for this downward trend is the decline in the most destructive wars, which are between large national armies with tank formations, submarines and airplanes. So while we're still left with smaller wars that are still terrible, they are more limited in size and geography.
Stereotypes about middle children are hardly flattering. They're often described as confused underachievers, overshadowed by older and younger siblings, and overlooked by their parents. But in The Secret Power of Middle Children, Catherine Salmon and Katrin Schumann argue that many middleborns have hidden strengths and are agents of change in business, politics and science. Since they often exist outside the parental spotlight and aren't held to the heightened expectations that are placed on the firstborn, middle children can have more freedom to "find out what they really are good at ... and then excel at that," Salmon tells NPR's Rebecca Roberts. Middle children can also be skilled at negotiating conflicting needs and satisfying multiple parties in the interest of peace and harmony.
From the late 1970s until her death in 2006 at 55, playwright Wendy Wasserstein was a force in New York theater. She won the Pulitzer, the Tony and many other awards for writing about her generation of educated, successful women struggling to balance their professional and family lives. "The crucial thing about Wendy is she was born in 1950 at the height of the baby boom, and her plays address the issues that people of her generation, especially women, were dealing with," says Julie Salamon, author of Wendy and the Lost Boys, a biography that illuminates the links between Wasserstein's characters and the playwright herself.
Charlotte Abbott edits "New in Paperback." A contributing editor for Publishers Weekly, she also leads a weekly chat on books and reading in the digital age every Friday from 4-5 p.m. ET on Twitter. Follow her at @charabbott or check out the #followreader hashtag.