Commemorate the Centennial of the Panama Canal

August 12, 2014
Roosevelt on a digging machine During Construction in 1906 (Library of Congress)

Roosevelt on a digging machine During Construction in 1906 (Library of Congress)

On August 15, 1914 the Panama Canal officially opened, and the SS Ancón was the first vessel to pass through. This August marks the 100th Anniversary of the Panama Canal. Congress began to consider a canal between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in the 1880s. It was determined essential for commerce and defense. There are several online guides commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Canal. You can follow 100 Days in Honor of 100 Years with a countdown to the anniversary and posts about significant moments in history from the Embassy of the United States in Panama. Also check out the online resource guide from a GPO partner, Panama and the Canal that is a joint project from the University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries and the Panama Canal Museum. It contains a wealth of information about digital history records, maps, and documents. To celebrate the Centennial, University of Florida has put together a Web site about special exhibits and the anniversary.

History

Signing of the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty from Embassy of the United States Panama

Signing of the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty from Embassy of the United States Panama (http://panama.usembassy.gov)

After much debate on where to build the canal, on February 23, 1904, a Senate Resolution ratified the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty, which gave the United States control of the Canal Zone in perpetuity. This overruled an earlier treaty, The Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, which was negotiated with the British in 1850 to stop hostilities in Latin America over control of a Canal Zone. That treaty agreed the countries would work together towards the goal of a Canal. (A statue of John Middleton Clayton stands in the U.S. Capitol as part of the National Statuary Hall Collection.)

Official Panama Canal HandbookOnce Panama was agreed as the location and the U.S. determined to go the project alone, construction continued on an attempt in the 1880s by a French Expedition to build a canal through Panama. An overview of the history of the building of the Canal is available on the U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian Web site.

Some Official Handbooks from early days of the Canal are available online. See the 1913 edition or the 1915 edition available from the depository collection of the University of Florida, or this 1911 edition from the Internet Archive. You can also visit Federal depository libraries nationwide to see what documents are available in their collections.

The Library of Congress Newspaper & Current Periodical Reading Room provides some links to history and some historic articles about the Canal.

Jimmy Carter and Omar Torrijos at the ceremony for signing the Panama Canal Treaty (1977) - U.S. Department of State

Jimmy Carter and Omar Torrijos at the ceremony for signing the Panama Canal Treaty (1977) – U.S. Department of State

The Panama Canal was administered by the United States until 2000 when control was passed back to the Republic of Panama. This was set as an agreement signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1977, The Panama Canal Treaty and Neutrality Treaty.

Honoring The Past By Building The FutureIn 1989, a publication was produced to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Canal. You can read Honoring the Past by Building the Future: The Panama Canal 75th Anniversary online through GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications. It contains some great photographs, and information about the history and vision of the future of the Canal.

Legislation

Several Hearings have been held and legislation passed on Canal construction and management. Hearings about the project have been held in Congress since the beginning in the 1850s. You can visit a Federal depository library to research the legislative history. You’ll find reports such as the 1909 Hearing concerning estimates for construction of the Isthmian Canal, fiscal year 1911.

In 1986, a briefing report was submitted to the House of Representatives from the Government Accountability Office to study alternatives to the Canal in preparation for returning control of the zone to the Republic of Panama. In 1999 a Hearing before the Committee on Armed Forces discussed the Security of the Panama Canal. In 2002 an agreement between the U.S. and Panama was signed to outline response and assistance in responding to environmental issues that would impede trade and commerce in the Canal. A 2014 Hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation discussed what expansion of the Canal will mean for American freight and infrastructure.

The Panama Canal Commission was established in 1979 as an independent agency, purposed with operating and maintaining the Panama Canal. The commission was transferred to the Republic of Panama with control of the Canal in 2000. The Federal Register has a list of the Panama Canal Commission publications available in electronic format back to 1994. You can also access some documents in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications, such as the Constitutional Title of the Panama Canal and the Organic Law Panama Canal Authority from 1997. Some of the commission reports are also available, such as the 10 year report (1980-1989).

In addition to the Panama Canal Commission records, The National Archives holds many records from the Panama Canal. This blog post from 2013 discusses the employee services records cards collection, and this blog post discusses a component of the personnel files that can be mined for genealogy and other research.

Several amendments and pieces of legislation can be found in the documents at Federal depository libraries, or through a search in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications. You could also browse GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys). Just last year a resolution was put to the House (H.R. 2760) to celebrate the centennial of the Panama Canal by minting commemorative coins.

GPO’s FDsys has a wide array of documents related to the Canal:

Panama Canal in the Federal Register:

Role in Trade

The Panama Canal has always been intended as an economic resource. You can see from this report, Panama Canal traffic and tolls from 1912 that the value in commerce and trade were at the forefront of reasons for the U.S. to invest in the project. For more about the role of the canal in trade, check out U.S. Free Trade Agreements: 20 Ways to Grow Your Business, available from the GPO Bookstore in print or eBook. It includes a chapter on Panama and discusses trade through the Canal.

This January 2000 report, The Panama Canal in Transition: implications for U.S. Agriculture, discusses the impact of the Canal transition on U.S. Agriculture. The total volume of trade between the U.S. and Panama reached $10.5 Billion in 2012, according to a fact sheet on this important economic partnership from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Department of Commerce article also links to a discussion on the Panama Canal Expansion Project from the Acting Secretary of Commerce, Rebecca Blank.

The U.S. – Panama Trade Promotion Agreement was signed in 2011. It is an expansive free trade agreement and covers trade in goods and services, including financial services. You can read more about the agreement on the Office of the United States Trade Representative Web site. The U.S. Trade Representative Web site has a useful key facts page about U.S. – Panama Relations. The White House Web site also has a fact sheet about U.S. – Panama Relations.

For further reading, see this article in Environmental Health Perspectives from the National Institutes of Health about the Canal Expansion and its impact on Port Cities.

Role in Health

The building of the Panama Canal was a massive undertaking by the United States. A historical vignette from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Web site discusses the project’s chief engineer, George W. Goethais. In addition to feats of engineering, the project involved overcoming the diseases common in tropical regions. You can read about Public Health in Panama in the early 20th Century in this Public Health Report available on PubMed Central, The Public Health Service in the Panama Canal: A Forgotten Chapter of U.S. Public Health. You can also read the 1906 Short Account of the Sanitary Department of the Isthmian Canal Commission from PubMed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a fascinating article about the Panama Canal within its online resource about Malaria.

The Isthmian Canal Commission was created to oversee construction of the Panama Canal. Some of the Reports of the Department of Health of the Panama Canal may be available in Federal depository libraries. Some are also available online. For more about the commission, check out the 1911 publication Executive Orders relating to the Isthmian Canal Commission: March 1904 to June 12, 1911, inclusive. The Commission also authorized schools in the Canal Zone. Check out this Library of Congress finding aid to locate records in those collections about the Isthmian Canal Commission.

Role in War

The Panama Canal is a strategic passage for commerce, but also for military maneuvering by the United States. During times of war, the Canal Zone has been an important passage way and has been strategically guarded by the U.S. Military. The United States Army in World War 2, Western Hemisphere, Guarding the United States and its Outposts includes a section on the role of the Panama Canal in World War 2 and the military efforts to guard this important transportation and commercial outpost.

Submarines in the Panama Canal (1914-1918) - North Carolina Digital Collections

Submarines in the Panama Canal (1914-1918) – North Carolina Digital Collections

Construction of the Panama Canal included immense effort from the U.S. Military. The Panama Canal: An Army’s Enterprise is available in Paperback and ePub from the GPO Bookstore. This pamphlet describes the military history of the Canal and the efforts of Army officers to bring the Canal to completion.

The future of the Canal

Image of the Panama Canal Today (Department of Transportation)

Image of the Panama Canal Today (Department of Transportation)

The Panama Canal is undergoing an expansion, set to be completed in 2015. The U.S. Department of Transportation released a report in 2013, Panama Canal Expansion Phase 1 Report: Developments of Trade and National and Global Economies. This article from the U.S. Department of Transportation provides a short summary of the report. You can read more about the expansion project from the Canal De Panamà Web site.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE PUBLICATIONS?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy featured publications in this article (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Click Here to Purchase The Panama Canal: An Army’s Enterprise

Click Here to Purchase United States Army in World War 2, Western Hemisphere, Guarding the United States and Its Outposts

Click Here to Purchase U.S. Free Trade Agreements: 20 Ways to Grow Your Business

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for these in a nearby Federal depository library.

About the author: Cathy Wagner is an outreach librarian with the Education & Outreach team in the Library Services & Content Management (LSCM) division at the Government Printing Office.


Keeping Our Skies Safe, Part 1 of 2: Aviation safety planning and response

April 23, 2014

If you’re like me, hearing the speculation about the disappearance of Malaysia Flight 370 has created a number of questions in your mind about air safety in America and why the United States is taking an active role in this mystery.

malaysia-370In this two-part blog post “Keeping Our Skies Safe”, we review the many processes and policies in place to regulate United States airspace and to protect air travelers, flight personnel and all sorts of aircraft flying U.S. skies. In “Keeping Our Skies Safe, Part 1 of 2: Aviation safety planning & response,” we will cover the many aviation safety publications produced by the United States Federal Government, future plans to keep ahead of evolving flight safety issues, and U.S. emergency response.

“Keeping Our Skies Safe, Part 2 of 2: Aviation safety rules and regulations” will cover the many laws and regulations the United States has put in place to enforce these aviation best practices on everything from gliders and balloons to commercial jet airplanes.

Part 1 of 2: Aviation Safety Planning & Response

International and national aviation safety practices and adherence to them is one of the first places investigators look when reviewing an accident or disappearance of a plane such as is presumed to have happened with Flight 370. In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA within the Department of Transportation is the Federal agency charged with the “continuing mission… to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.” The FAA produces a number of vital publications for the entire aviation industry with guidelines, research, analysis and best practices.

SAFETY BRIEFINGS

faa-safety-briefingThe FAA Safety Briefing magazine provides updates on major US Federal Aviation Administration rule changes and proposed changes, as well as refresher information on flight rules, maintenance airworthiness, avionics, accident analysis, and other topics. A must-have for pilots, air traffic controllers, airplane maintenance personnel and anyone involved in ensuring flying safely.

(6 issues per year. Subscription price covers issues for 1 year)

FAA Safety Briefing magazine is available on a subscription basis from the US Government Bookstore and can be found here to order print copies: http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/750-002-00000-5?ctid=1736

FAA Safety Briefings individual issues can be found online here at US Federal Aviation Administration: http://www.faa.gov/

The Future of U.S. Air Travel?

What is the Federal Aviation Administration planning in order to deliver a better travel experience in the future with fewer delays and enhanced safety? How is the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration incorporating the passengers’ point of view when thinking about the future plans for the aviation experience? The answers are delivered in the Next Generation (aka “NextGen”) Plan for the FAA.

faa-next-genThe 2013 edition of the NextGen Plan serves as a roadmap of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) ongoing transition to NextGen and provides an overview of the benefits aircraft operators and passengers are receiving from recent NextGen improvements. NextGen is the shift to smarter, satellite-based and digital technologies and new procedures to make air travel more convenient, predictable and environmentally friendly.

Highlights of the Plan include the latest on metroplex initiatives, Performance Based Navigation growth, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast deployments, surface collaboration and plans for future benefits. The plan devotes an entire chapter to general aviation and recognizes the growing role of this important stakeholder. The outreach document provides FAA stakeholders — including the aviation community, Congress, government oversight entities and the general public — with the latest progress in the transformation of the National Airspace System.

NextGen offers a better travel experience, with fewer delays, more predictable trips and enhanced safety.People who live near airports may experience less aircraft noise and fewer emissions. NextGen will increase the predictability and reliability of airport operations, enhancing the role of airports as economic engines for the communities they serve. NextGen is vital to preserving aviation’s significant contributions to our national economy.

You can download the FREE ePub NextGen Implementation Plan available here: http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/050-300-00005-6  or from the FAA agency website.

The U.S. Navy’s Role in Aviation Safety

us-navy-logo(Google Images –Photo image compliments of en.wikipedia.org)

The US Navy is very involved with the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Flight 370. What do our Navy personnel responsible for protecting American by use of the oceans know about recovery of “black boxes”?

An Underwater Ice Station Zebra: Recovering a KH-9 Hexagon Capsule From 16,400 Feet Below the Pacific Ocean: Selected Declassified CIA DocumentsOne reason why the US Navy may be involved with the tracking of the submersion of the Malaysia Flight 370” black box” may be attributed to their significant expertise in this area. In fact, the US Navy has been involved in deep sea recovery for decades. As you read the story of An Underwater Ice Station Zebra: Recovering a KH-9 Hexagon Capsule From 16,400 Feet Below the Pacific Ocean: Selected Declassified CIA Documents, you will learn that the U.S. Navy ‘s advanced method at deep submersible recovery began in 1972 with the Trieste II (DSV-1). Publicly called a “data package,” the object was actually part of a U.S. spy satellite, codenamed HEXAGON. Before today’s digital technology, photo reconnaissance satellites used film, which returned to Earth in capsules ejected from the satellite. The capsules, called “buckets,” reentered Earth’s atmosphere and deployed a parachute to slow their descent.

During the first HEXAGON mission in 1971, the parachute broke off causing the bucket to crash into the ocean. This release includes photos of the capsule on the ocean floor, pictures of the Trieste II (DSV-1), and an article recounting the deepest undersea salvage then attempted.

If you would like to read about the US Navy’s fascinating recovery of the HEXAGON, you can purchase this title at the US Government Bookstore at this link: http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/041-015-00294-5

U.S. Emergency Response

When disaster strikes including transportation accidents, the US Federal Government often provides expertise to emergency responders. The U.S. has expanded its emergency response knowledge base and capacity since the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks on 9/11 and now has many bestselling titles available relating to Disaster / Emergency Response.

Emergency Response Guidebook 2012 available at http://bookstore.gpo.govThe official Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) is a guide for use by transporters, firefighters, police, and other emergency services personnel who may be the first to arrive at the scene of a transportation incident involving a hazardous material, such as an oil or chemical spill. It is used by first responders in:

(1) quickly identifying the specific or generic classification of the material(s) involved in the incident, and

(2) protecting themselves and the general public during this initial response phase of the incident.

The ERG is updated every three to four years to accommodate new products and technology.

This title is available for purchase at the US Government Bookstore at this link: http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/050-000-00596-8

U.S. Coast Guard Incident Management Handbook assists Coast Guard personnel in response to oil spills, search and rescue operations and other emergency situations on the water.

us-coast-guard-incident-handbookThe Coast Guard Incident Management Handbook (IMH) is designed to assist Coast Guard personnel in the use of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Incident Command System (ICS) during multi-contingency response operations and planned events. The Incident Management Handbook is an easy reference job aid for responders. Also useful for other waterway rescue and police operations.Read the table of contents and purchase this title at this link on the US Government Bookstore: http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/050-012-00465-0

This title is also available in a Spanish-language version,Manual Para el Manejo de Incidentes / Servicios de Guardacostas and can be purchased here: http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/050-012-00473-1

Department of Defense Support to Foreign Disaster Relief Handbook And finally, Department of Defense Support to Foreign Disaster Relief (Handbook for JTF Commanders and Below) is a manual for personnel involved in a foreign disaster relief mission, including a search for a missing airplane.

A classified version exists only for certain military personnel, but the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) also released this unclassified version that can be used not only by members of the military, but also by anyone involved in U.S. foreign disaster response JTF (Joint Task Force) operations, including U.S. Government agencies, international organizations, Intergovernmental Organizations (IGO) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO).

This handbook covers the: legal authority and principles; operational context and planning factors; both supporting groups and supported foreign disaster relief organizations; and DOD guidelines for interaction with the U.S. Department of State and US Agency for International Development (US-AID) and NGOs and International Organizations such as the United Nations and International Red Cross and Red Crescent.

Read more about this information-packed handbook in our previous blog post: The U.S. military storms to the rescue in foreign disaster relief.”

How Can I get these aviation safety publications ?

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these eBooks and print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:
  • Order by Phone: You may also order print editions by calling our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.

About the Author – This week’s blog contributor is Maureen Whelan, Senior Marketing Team Leader for GPO’s Publication & Information Sales division program office in Washington, DC.  Maureen oversees print and digital content dissemination strategy and manages third party free and paid content distribution platforms and vendors such as Apple iBookstore, Google Play eBookstore, EBSCOhost, Overdrive, and more. Additionally, Maureen’s commercial publishing industry experience with publishing requirements, copyrights, product formats and content metadata and search optimization have helped Federal agencies publications be more discoverable through these consumer channels. A few examples of commercially popular Federal print books that were successfully migrated to digital include The Healthy Woman and The Basic Guide to Exporting.


Get to the Olympics with Help from these Free U.S. Government Resources

February 21, 2014

Guest blogger and GPO Supervisory Librarian Valerie Furino writes about U.S. Government publications that can help you achieve your Olympic ambitions.

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics are wrapping up, and they have been entertaining and full of surprises.  Many people watch the Olympics and dream of the magical moment of being awarded a medal (preferably gold).   However, that dreamy medal was earned through years of training and preparation.  If you want to give living the life of an Olympian a try, you’ll need to work hard.  You need to eat like an athlete – you need to train like an athlete – and you’ll actually need to GET to the Olympics – grab that suitcase!  Think you’ve got what it takes?  Let’s find out.

us-olympic-training-center-signImage: Tourists enjoying the Olympic Rings sign at the Headquarters for the U.S. Olympic Committee administration and the Olympic Training Center programs in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Get into Competition Shape

First, let’s examine eating habits.  This should be easy – athletes are known for devouring lots of calories.  This handy chart illustrates typical calories burned, depending on a person’s weight – note that the Olympic sports ice hockey, ice skating, and skiing are all included.  (If all the activities on this chart were Olympic sports, I’d be a gold medalist shoo-in for “Operate Snow Blower” after this winter!)  However, you need to eat the right kind of calories.  You’ll need fuel to power you through those salchows and Axel jumps. Nutrition.gov provides a great starting place on various nutrition topics, including meal planning, label reading, and dietary supplements.

ChooseMyPlate_gov_Winter-Health-ChallengeImage: Winter Health Challenge from ChooseMyPlate.gov (February 2014).

Que hay en su plato- Spanish version of What's on My Plate from ChooseMyPlateFrom there, you can navigate to ChooseMyPlate.gov (or buy the What’s on Your Plate?: Choose My Plate -English Language Version or the Spanish language version, Que Hay en Su Plato?: Mi Plato) which contains helpful advice on what to eat.  No matter your circumstance – college student, vegetarian, pregnant – you’ll find great tips on nutrition and some helpful recipes.

OK, nutritional standards have been established.  Now let’s move on to physical training.  Depending on your sport preference, you’ll need to exercise specific muscles – for example, cross-country skiing requires a well-developed abdomen, arms, and lower back, while snowboarding needs a strong core and shoulders.  Health.gov is a good place to start, as it provides general information on both nutrition and activity.  It provides a helpful link to Let’s Move!, a well-known initiative supported by First Lady Michelle Obama that encourages physical activity.  The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition has a fantastic site loaded with activity and nutrition tips.  If you’d like all your information in one publication, try the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans; if you’re more a visual person, check out some videos .  All these resources are useful tools to get you in shape – or at least keep you towing the line on your fitness New Year’s resolutions.

First-Lady-Michelle-Obama-White-House-lawn-Lets-move-kidsImage: First Lady Michelle Obama exercising with kids on the White House lawn for the Let’s Move! initiative. Source: White House

Getting to the Games

Apply-for-US-passport-State-DepartmentYou’ve trained and you’ve been keeping excellent eating habits – you’re now ready to get to the games, whether as an athlete or a spectator!  (Hey, it takes a lot of climbing to get to your seat in an Olympic stadium.)   Besides the United States, the Olympics have been held in some beautiful and exotic places – London, Beijing, Athens,  Vancouver, and Torino.  If traveling out of your home country, be sure to check if any vaccinations are required.  Also check for any travel alerts.  Do you have a current passport?  Need a visa to travel to the host country? These convenient U.S. State Department sites will guide you.

world_factbook_12-13After taking care of logistics, spend some time reading up on the host nation.  The World FactBook updated annually by the CIA (you can also buy the World Factbook print edition complete with wall maps) and the Library of Congress Country Studies series (many also available in print from our Foreign Country Studies collection) are two excellent resources to help guide you through your host country.  And this handy worldwide wireless guide from the Federal Communications Commission will help you figure out how to use your phone while traveling abroad!

How can I get these publications?

  • Click on the Links: For the free resources, click on the links above in the blog post.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library. (Librarians: You can find the records for most of these titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.)
  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy any of the eBooks or print publications mentioned above—with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.
  • Order by Phone: You may also order print editions mentioned in this blog post by calling our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions mentioned in this blog post by visiting GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

About the Author: Valerie Furino is a Supervisory Librarian for the Government Printing Office’s Library Services & Content Management (LSCM) Division.


To Russia with… Respect

February 20, 2014

With worldwide sports audiences focused on television and Internet stories from the 2014 winter games in Sochi, Russia, we are all learning more about this fascinating country.  America has had a long and complex history of relations with Russia, from both the Soviet Union era and now as the Russian Federation. From allies to adversaries—and sometimes both at the same time— the U.S. and Russia have covered the gamut of different roles over the centuries.

In a month replete with themes of love for Valentine’s Day and stories about Russian history, the U.S. Government Bookstore adds to the dialogue with dozens of publications about Russia and the Soviet Union that show, if not always love, then the perpetual mutual respect between our two nations.

Russia-Soviet-Books-available from the GPO-US Government Bookstore

World War II

Book Cover Image for Moscow to Stalingrad: Decision in the East (Paperback)Russia’s role as both an adversary and an ally during the Second World War lays the foundation for its complicated but critical relationship with the rest of the world today. But its historic triumph over its former ally, Nazi Germany, is a feat still studied and admired today. In Moscow to Stalingrad: Decision in the East (Paperback), the planning and execution of the German offensive against Russia in 1941-1942 are reviewed.

Book Cover Image for Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East (Paper)Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East (in Paperback and ePub eBook) describes the German defeat by the Russians in World War II and the events that resulted in the Soviet Union becoming a dominant military power in Europe.

The Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact and the Cold War

In response to West Germany’s inclusion in NATO and reflecting Soviet leadership’s desire to maintain control over military forces in Central and Eastern Europe, the Warsaw Pact was signed in May 1955 in Warsaw, Poland, as a mutual defense treaty between eight Cold War communist states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw Pact members included the U.S.S.R. plus Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovak Republic, German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Hungary, Poland, and Romania.

The Warsaw Pact Wartime Statutes: Instruments of Soviet Control (CIA Declassified Book and DVD) ISBN: 9780160920615Soviet military planning for conflict in Europe after World War II from the outset harnessed East European military capabilities to Soviet military purposes. This “operational subordination” of the member states’ military is thoroughly analyzed in The Warsaw Pact Wartime Statutes: Instruments of Soviet Control (Book and DVD) whose book and accompanying DVD include a wealth of newly declassified Central Intelligence Agency documents covering the Warsaw Pact period.

ISBN 9780160920608 The Warsaw Pact, Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance: Soviet-East European Military Relations in Historical Perspective; Sources and Reassessments (CIA Declassified Book and DVD)Another book and DVD set from the same series, The Warsaw Pact, Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance: Soviet-East European Military Relations in Historical Perspective; Sources and Reassessments (Book and DVD), is a collection of hundreds of recently declassified documents designed to take stock of where we are twenty years after the collapse of East European Communism. It includes sensitive Soviet and Warsaw Pact military journals from 1961 to 1984, recently uncovered in newly opened archives across former Warsaw Pact nations, providing a view into Warsaw Pact military strategy.

At the conclusion of World War 2, the Soviet Union was a major player in the world and again an adversary. The period roughly from 1947 to 1991 was known as the Cold War, in which the powers in the Eastern Bloc (the Soviet Union and its allies in Warsaw Pact) were lined up against the Western Bloc (the U.S. and NATO allies). Watching the Bear: Essays on CIA's Analysis of the Soviet Union- ISBN 9780160679544It was referred to as a “cold” war because there were no major world wars or direct conflicts between the two sides, although there were significant regional wars in Korea and Vietnam. Watching the Bear: Essays on CIA’s Analysis of the Soviet Union focuses on the organizational evolution of the CIA’s analysis of the Soviet economic, political, military, and scientific and technological developments during the Cold War. Interestingly, it also assesses the extent to which Western analyses of the Soviet Union may have influenced the USSR’s policy making process.

In addition to watching the West, Soviet leadership had a constant struggle to keep its own member states in line, particularly as some began to chafe under the communist system.

For example, many remember the Czechoslovak crisis from January 1968, when Alexander Dubcek was elevated to the post of First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Under Dubcek, the Czech communist leadership had embarked on a radical program of dramatic liberalization of the Czechoslovak political, economic, and social order that was not approved by Moscow. Strategic Warning & the Role of Intelligence: The CIA and Strategic Warning; TheIn Strategic Warning & the Role of Intelligence: The CIA and Strategic Warning; The 1968 Soviet-Led Invasion of Czechoslovakia (Book and DVD), the Central Intelligence Agency’s Information Management Services reviewed, redacted, and released hundreds of documents related to the 1968 Czechoslovak-Soviet crisis, creating this fascinating book. The accompanying DVD has over 500 documents and 2,000 pages of recently declassified material about the crisis.

Détente Era

During the period of 1967 to 1979, there was an easing of Cold War tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Referred to as détente, the era was a time of increased trade and cooperation with the Soviet Union and the signing of the SALT treaties, but relations cooled again with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan until the fall of the Soviet Union and the founding of the Russian Federation.

Book Cover Image for Soviet-American Relations: The Detente Years, 1969-1972The best overview of this important period can be found in Soviet-American Relations: The Détente Years, 1969-1972. With a foreword by Henry A. Kissinger, this unprecedented joint documentary publication presents the formerly top-secret record of how the United States and Soviet Union moved from Cold War to détente during 1969 to 1972. Published side-by side are both the U.S. and Soviet accounts of meetings between Henry Kissinger and Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin, the so-called Kissinger-Dobrynin confidential back channel, related documents, and the full Soviet and U.S. record of the first Moscow Summit between President Richard Nixon and Soviet Secretary General Leonid Brezhnev. The Soviet documents are being released in the volume for the first time anywhere.

The Foreign Relations of the United States series fondly known as FRUS has a number of terrific titles about the U.S. relations with the Soviet Union. Foreign Relations of the United States series at http://bookstore.gpo.govOne volume in particular, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Volume XXXIV, National Security Policy, documents U.S. national security policy in the context of the Vietnam War and the changing Cold War strategic balance between the United States and the Soviet Union. Another volume in the series, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, V. XV, Soviet Union, June 1972-August 1974, includes numerous direct personal communications between President Nixon and Soviet Leader Brezhnev covering a host of issues, including clarifying the practical application of the SALT I and AMB agreements, arms control, the October 1973 Arab-Israeli war, commercial relations and most-favored-nation status, the emigration of Soviet Jews, and the Jackson-Vanik amendment to Title IV of the 1974 Trade Act which denied most favored nation status to certain countries with non-market economies that restricted free emigration, such as the Soviet Union.

ISBN 9780160895593 Rockets and People: NASA History Series Volume IV: The Moon Race (from a Soviet rocket designer's perspective) One of the crowning achievements of Russia and the Soviet Union has been its space program. From the launching of Sputnik that triggered the space race to participation in the International Space Station, Russians are justifiably proud of their “stellar” accomplishments. This pride is borne out in the fascinating book Rockets and People: Volume IV: The Moon Race. In this book translated from its original Russian version to English, the famous Russian spacecraft designer Boris Chertok— who worked under the legendary Sergey Korolev— continues his fascinating memoirs about the history of the Soviet space program, this time covering 1968 to 1974, the peak years of the Soviet human lunar program.

The Russian Federation

Today, Russia or the Russian Federation continues to be a major power, politically, militarily and economically.  But since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation has continued to have issues with insurgencies and disagreements among its population. Book Cover Image for Breaking the Mold: Tanks in the CitiesBreaking the Mold: Tanks in the Cities (in Paperback and as an eBook) provides an up-to-date analysis of the utility of tanks and heavy armored forces in urban combat from across the world, and includes an analysis of the Russian use of tanks in quelling the insurgency in the Chechen Republic (Chechnya) in 1995.

No longer a communist nation, Russia today still has a number of social welfare programs that differ from the rest of Europe. The Social Security Programs Throughout the World series highlights the principal features of social security programs in more than 170 countries. Social Security Programs Throughout the World: Europe 2012Now included in the most recent European edition, Social Security Programs Throughout the World: Europe 2012, Russian social security programs are analyzed and compared to other nations in Europe.

9781584874492_Russian-Military-Today-and-TomorrowAnd finally, The Russian Military Today and Tomorrow: Essays in Memory of Mary FitzGerald includes essays by top U.S. and Russian analysts to assess current Russian military thinking on warfare, giving insight into the Russia of today.

They say one must study history to understand where we are today and where we are heading. This listing is just a smattering of the many thoughtful publications about Russia and the Soviet Union that can add to your understanding of where this major power has been, where it is today and perhaps, where it might go in the future.

How can I get these publications about Russia and the Soviet Union?

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy any of these eBooks or print publications—with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:
  • Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library. (Librarians: You can find the records for most of these titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.)

About the author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Federal Favorites: Our Best Selling Books of 2013

January 16, 2014

Ahhh…. It’s that time of the year again: Awards season! From the Golden Globes to the Academy Awards, red carpets abound with interviews of movie stars and other celebrities boasting about their best work during the past year.

We at the US Government Bookstore want to make sure our star publications and Federal agency publishers get their moment in the limelight, too. So, we are pleased to announce the winning publications that you, our readers, chose through your purchases over the past year: The US Government Bookstore Best Sellers of 2013!

Top-Government Books and Best-Sellers-of-2013 from the GPO US Government Online BookstoreHere are some of the more notable books, eBooks, posters and more that were winners in your eyes over the past year:

ART & TRAVEL

National Park System (Wall Map Poster)Americans love our national parks, so it’s no surprise the National Park System Wall Map Poster was a big hit.

Humanities-Magazine-2014-01Humanities is a bimonthly magazine published by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) which covers NEH sponsored research in the humanities and NEH programs and projects, as well as information on recent and upcoming NEH grants.

HISTORY

With the 150th anniversary and reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg last summer, The Gettysburg Campaign, June-July 1863 was a smash success (Read our post “Gettysburg, America’s Bloodiest Battle” for more information).

Perennial favorite Underground Railroad: Official Map and Guide (Read our post “The Underground Railroad Leaves its Tracks in History”) was joined by two publications commemorating 50th anniversaries:

Book Cover Image for Statistical Abstract of the United States 2012 (Paperback)Finally, the Statistical Abstract of the United States, the last official edition published in 2012 by the U.S. Census Bureau, contains a standardized summary of all official key statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States (Read our post: “Statistical Abstract and Print Mashups in a Digital Age”).

TREES & FORESTS

Book Cover Image for The Little AcornI won’t be going out on a limb to say that our customers definitely wanted to hug trees this year, as books about Trees & Forests topped the lists. Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down? and The Little Acorn are extremely popular books for children explaining about the uses and life cycle of trees.

Image for Timber Management Field BookHow to Prune Trees and How To Recognize Hazardous Defects in Trees for amateur and professional gardeners, landscapers and foresters alike, and the Timber Management Field Book serves as the most popular reference handbook for forestry professionals.

(Read our posts “Oh, say, can you tree? American Christmas tree traditions,” “Pruning Trees” and “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax Inspires Kids to Hug a Tree” for more information on these titles.)

BUSINESS AND LAW

A Basic Guide to Exporting for Small & Medium-Sized Businesses (10th Revised)International business entrepreneurs and would-be exporters have made A Basic Guide to Exporting: The Official Government Resource for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses a best-seller every year (Read our posts: “Exporting Made Simple and “Government eBooks Made Easy– and Sometimes Free” for more information).

Copyright Law of the United States in U.S. Code as of 12/2011Protecting intellectual property and privacy were extremely hot topics in 2013, making the Copyright Law of the United States and Related Laws and the Overview of the Privacy Act of 1974, 2012 Edition (extremely popular last year (Read our post: “The Privacy Act: What the Government Can Collect and Disclose about Youfor more information).

TRANSPORTATION AND NAVIGATION

TAstronomical Almanac for the Year 2014 and Its Companion the Astronomical Almanahe latest versions of the annual best-selling Astronomical Almanac for the Year 2014 (Combined Print plus Online Edition) and The Nautical Almanac for the Year 2014 are critical tools to aid commercial and private navigation by both air or water (Read our post: “Navigating by the Moon, Planets, and Starsfor more information).

Specifically for maritime navigation, Navigation Rules, International-Inland contains the latest international regulations for preventing Book Cover Image for FAA Safety Briefingcollisions at sea as well as the U.S. Inland Navigation Rules which have been in effect for all inland waters, including the Great Lakes.

The FAA Safety Briefing magazine provides updates on major Federal Aviation Administration rule changes and proposed changes, as well as refresher information on flight rules, maintenance air worthiness, avionics, accident analysis, and other aviation topics.

CITIZENSHIP AND CIVICS

Preparing to become a United States citizen and reaffirming knowledge of the American system of Government is extremely popular with our customers, and this year was no exception. Top civics and citizenship publications for 2013 included the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence (Pocket Edition) and materials for preparing for the U.S. Naturalization Test to become a United States citizen—

(Read our posts: “Quiz and History for Bill of Rights Day December 15”, “Quiz: Are you smarter than an 8th grade Civics student?”, and “Notable Documents 2009: Civics Flash Cardsfor more information on these products.)

Another patriotic publication that proved popular (Do you like the alliteration?:-) was Our Flag, which briefly describes the history of the American flag and sets forth the practices and observances appropriate to the display of Old Glory, was a top-seller.Book Cover Image for How Our Laws Are Made

The Congressional book, How Our Laws Are Made, provides citizens with a basic outline of the numerous steps of our Federal law-making process from the source of an idea for a legislative proposal through to its publication as a statute and becoming the “law of the land”.

HEALTH

Watching our weight and eating better were definitely on the minds of Americans this year as Diet & Nutrition books and posters were best sellers, including:

Book Cover Image for Special Operations Forces Medical HandbookHealthcare professionals turned often to the U.S. Government Bookstore for Physician References & Medical Handbooks, Medical & Health Research, and Military & Emergency Medicine publications in 2013. Top on the list were copies of the new Healthcare Law, as well as the Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook.

But also important were publications used to improve the quality of healthcare research and patient care and safety. These included the ORI: Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research  (also available in Packages of 50) which provides guidelines for Public Health Service-funded researchers, as well as the TeamSTEPPS patient care and safety training materials for healthcare personnel, such as the TeamSTEPPS Instructor Guide (Binder Kit) and TeamSTEPPS Pocket Guide that should be handed out to all healthcare personnel who attend TeamSTEPPS training.

SECURITY AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

Emergency management personnel and first responders responded strongly to the many great safety and emergency response publications on the U.S. Government Bookstore.  These books and pocket guides topped their “must have” list in 2013:

Specifically for dealing with Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) and Chemical-Biological-Radiological-Nuclear-Explosive (CBRNE) incidents, clean-up and response were these best-selling guides:

The importance of radio communications was underscored by the popularity of the United States Frequency Allocations: The Radio Spectrum Chart (Poster) of all assigned frequencies and the National Interoperability Field Operations Guide which contains radio guidelines for establishing or repairing emergency communications in a disaster area.

GOVERNMENT

Every year, the publications containing the President’s proposed Federal Budget for the upcoming fiscal year are on our best sellers list, and the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget publications followed this tradition. (Note: Stay tuned! The new Fiscal Year 2015 Budget publications will be coming out soon from the White House).

United States Government Manual 2013 lists all federal agenciesThe U.S. Government Manual, the ultimate handbook of all Federal agencies, was a hit as it is every year. Now you can get the new edition: United States Government Manual 2013 (Read about it on our Blog post:  “Understand How the U.S. Government is Organized”).

Other “Best of the Best” Government titles include:

How can I get these “Best-selling Books of 2013”?

  • Shop Online: You can purchase these publications from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by clicking on the individual links above in this blog post. You may also click here to shop our entire “Best Sellers of 2013” collection.
  • Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library.

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is also Promotions and Ecommerce Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public. Assistance provided by Stephanie Jaeger, Sales & Marketing Coordinator for GPO’s Sales & Marketing Division that markets GPO’s publishing services to the Federal sector.


Take Notice: The 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar

January 9, 2014

2014-NCTC-Counterterrorism-Calendar-spiral-boundIf you didn’t catch the Washington Post “In the Loop” article by Al Kamen this week entitled “Counter terror calendar 2014 is out!,” you’ll be pleased to know that yes, the 2014 edition of the National Counterterrorism Center’s annual Counterterrorism Desk Calendar is now available for ordering on the U.S. Government Bookstore.

Image: Cover of the 164-page 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar from the National Counterterrorism Center depicts the 2013 bombings at the Boston Marathon. Photo Credit: David L. Ryan / Boston Globe.

The goal behind the Counterterrorism Calendar is to educate and inform both professionals– first responders, military, intelligence, law enforcement and other counterterrorism personnel– as well as civilians about the threats of international terrorism and how to prevent, respond or mitigate these threats against the United States both at home and abroad.

History of U.S. Government Inviting Citizen Involvement in Domestic Security

Since its founding, America has had a history of inviting its citizens to participate in its own defense. Even with the danger of British sympathizers turning them in, brave revolutionaries posted recruiting posters on behalf of the Continental Congress such as the one below that invited Americans to “Take Notice” and help General Washington and the Continental Army defend against “the hostile designs of foreign enemies.”

revolutionary-war-take-notice-recruiting-posterImage: This Revolutionary War recruiting poster urged brave and able-bodied young men to “take notice” and join forces with General Washington and the Continental Army in the fight against “foreign enemies,” in this case, the British. Photo Credit: Bettmann/CORBIS

In World War 2, the Federal Government issued numerous similar domestic campaigns reminding citizens that it was their civic duty to “defend America” and inviting citizens to help support the war industry and to be vigilant against spies, saboteurs and other actions by the enemy both at home and abroad.

Defend-American-Freedom It's Everybody's-Job- World War II 2 propaganda poster for civilian workersImage: U.S. Government World War II propaganda poster urging civilians to participate in the war effort. Source: University of North Texas Digital Library

Today, the war is a War on Terror, and the U.S. Government still needs involvement and vigilance of its citizens and allies, whether in the United States or abroad, to identify and protect against terrorists.

The 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar

Under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Counterterrorism Center or NCTC serves as the primary organization in the U.S. government for integrating and analyzing all intelligence possessed or acquired by the U.S. government about international terrorism, including data from U.S. Federal agencies like the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency, and the FBI as well as other domestic and international sources.

First published in a spiral-bound daily planner format in 2003, just two years after the World Trade Center attacks, the Counterterrorism or CT Calendar from the NCTC is published annually. According to the NCTC, their 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar:

…provides information on known terrorist groups, individual terrorists, and technical information on topics such as biological and chemical threats.This edition, like others since the Calendar was first published in daily planner format in 2003, contains many features across the full range of issues pertaining to international terrorism: terrorist groups, wanted terrorists, and technical pages on various threat-related topics.

Features of the Calendar

In addition to serving as a desk calendar / event planner, the 164-page 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar also serves as a tutorial on international terrorism and a gallery of “most wanted” terrorists.

The right-hand page of the planner has the event planner dates along with key historical events of significance to terrorists that might be used to plan future terrorist activities. For example, on January 8, 1998, terrorist Ramzi Ahmed Yousef was sentenced to life plus 240 years for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombings.

On the left-hand pages are photos, maps and/or data on terrorists and terrorist organizations around the world, from Africa and the Middle East to Europe and the Americas.

Map-Somalia-based-al-Shabaab-terror-attacksImage: Map denoting locations of major terrorist incidents likely committed by the Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin—commonly known as al-Shabaab, a “clan-based insurgent and terrorist group” operating in and around Somalia. Source: NCTC 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar

“Terrorism tutorial” information ranges from cultural—details about the Islamic Calendar; the spelling of Arabic names and terms; lists of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), and logos used— to technical –  information about Chemical-Biological-Radiological-Nuclear-Explosive (CBRNE) weapons commonly used by terrorists, from suicide bombs to sarin gas, and how to detect and mitigate them.  For example, who among us would recognize the terrorist threat from these innocent-looking beans?

Castor-beans-used-to-make-ricinImage: Photo of castor beans from which the deadly toxin ricin is extracted. Ricin is poisonous if inhaled, injected, or ingested. Source: NCTC 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar

“Wanted” Terrorists

Providing the real drama of the calendar are the full-page “Wanted” poster-style pages of an individual terrorist, complete with photo (if available), aliases, his terrorist activities, the reward offered, and how to report information about him.

One of the largest rewards, $25 Million, is offered for information leading to the capture of Ayman al-Zawahiri, also known as “The Teacher” or “The Doctor” who is a physician and the founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. According to the CT Calendar:

“This organization opposes the secular Egyptian Government and seeks its overthrow through violent means. Al-Zawahiri is believed to have served as an advisor and doctor to Usama Bin Ladin. He has been indicted for his alleged role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of the US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. The embassy bombings killed 224 civilians and wounded over 5,000 others.”

Wanted-page-of-terrorist-Ayman-al-Zawahiri-of-Egyptian-Islamic-JihadImage: Extract from the “wanted” page of Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaida leader and founder of Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Source: NCTC 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar

Civilian Involvement

Finally, the NCTC carries on the civilian involvement tradition by including instructions for citizens of the U.S. and other countries on how they can help fight terrorism. Pages on” Indicators of False Travel Documents”, “Radicalization”, and how U.S. residents can report suspicions are provided. Additionally, the  Rewards for Justice (RFJ) Program is described in detail, wherein the U.S. Secretary of State may offer rewards for information that prevents or favorably resolves acts of international terrorism against US persons or property worldwide.

On the last page is a Bomb Threat Call Procedures form with valuable details of questions to ask and information to note about the caller, such as his or her voice (accent, age, tone, language) and background sounds. Did you note if the caller was clearing his throat or had an accent? Were there sounds of machinery in the background? What kind? Any and all details could help law enforcement.

Aspects-to-note-about-Bomb-Threat-CallerImage: Table from the Bomb Threat Call Procedures form. Source: Page 160 of the 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar.

Forewarned is Forearmed

Like the tradition of the best Government civilian campaigns since the founding of the Nation, the National Counterterrorism Center’s annual Counterterrorism Calendar is simultaneously meant to alert and inform us, making both civilians and professionals alike aware of the very real dangers around us and educating us on what—and whom—to look for. With the cover photo depicting the 2013 bombings at the Boston Marathon– where ordinary citizens were instrumental in identifying and locating the terrorists responsible– the importance of having an informed and involved citizenry has never been clearer.

How can I get a copy of the National Counterterrorism Center’s 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar?

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Gift-Giving Traditions and 12 Books of Christmas

December 5, 2013

ORIGINS OF HOLIDAY GIFT-GIVING

For centuries, Europeans and North Americans have been giving gifts around Christmastime.

Sing-heigh-ho-ancient-British-yule-log on Christmas cardImage: Ancient Britons carrying a Yule log and holly branches. Source: From the bottom of the barrel blog.

The practice dates to the pagan and druid peoples of Rome, the British Isles and Scandinavian countries. The Romans gave gifts or money for gift-giving at Saturnalia, a winter festival that lasted seven days; according to some sources, the gift-giving occurred on the last day of Saturnalia (December 23). When the Romans conquered Britain, they incorporated pagan religious practices into their festivals, so that the locals felt more integrated into the Roman Empire. Pagans and Druids celebrated the winter solstice festival, Yule, and although by many accounts it was not the most important pagan festival, it was celebrated quite a bit. Any visitors to the Irish Neolithic pagan monument Brú na Bóinne** are left in no doubt of that. The pagans may have given gifts at the Yule celebration as well.

Christianity later took over much of Europe, and the Christians, like the Romans, learned that the best way to truly conquer was not to divide, but to incorporate. Gift-giving became a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, just as pagan Yule branches became “Christmas trees”. Although the pilgrims at Massachusetts formally outlawed public celebrations of Christmas for twenty-two years, the whole Christmas juggernaut eventually won out in the United States.

Giving gifts at Christmastime eventually became de rigueur, even for secular and non-Christian people. American Jews in the late nineteenth century started to promote Hanukkah—a minor Jewish festival—as a time for Jewish parents to give their own children gifts, so that American Jewish children wouldn’t feel left out when their peers got gifts. And although Kwanzaa isn’t supposed to include gifts, some parents give their children gifts on Kwanzaa days. It seems that few Americans, despite their religious convictions, can resist the ritual of end-of year gift-giving and the ties the practice strengthens among us.

12_books_of_christmas-bannerImage courtesy Scholastic.

So by now we’ve worn the stretchy pants for Thanksgiving, and powered through the mall on Black Friday. On Cyber Monday, as I write this, it’s time to get ready for some serious shopping: we’re in the middle of Hanukkah, and we’ve got a mere twenty-three days before Christmas and twenty-four days before Kwanzaa. You need to get some creative gifts, stat. For help with this goal, turn to GPO’S US Government Bookstore, especially the wallet-friendly Bargains Under $20 page—it’ll help you wipe out your stocking stuffer list in a red-hot minute. That said, here are 12 solid suggestions for your holiday gift-giving, no matter what holiday you’re celebrating at this time of year!

KIDS’ CORNER BOOKS

Fun-with-Fire-SafetyYou need to get something small to give your little ones as well as the big presents, and it encourages your kids to read more if you give books as gifts. Fire trucks nearly always captivate the pre-K set: show them a picture of a fire truck, complete with cute Dalmatian, and their attention is rapt. Marty and Jett’s Activity Book: Let’s Have Fun with Fire Safety (US $5.00 includes FREE shipping) activity book comes with cutouts for junior fire badges and finger puppets, coloring pages, a maze, and a fill-in-the-blanks puzzle. There’s a list of important things for kids to remember in a fire. Most schools now include this information in their curriculum, so the book is a good reinforcement of that learning—and it’s also a coloring book. This little volume’s a slam-dunk: educational and amusing, all in one cute package.

BLM-Junior-Explorer-Geology-and-FossilsDoes the child in your life love picking up interesting shells or rocks at the beach or park? Then he or she will love this Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Junior Explorer Geology and Fossils Activity Book (US $7.00 includes FREE shipping) that includes fun facts, a crossword puzzle, and activities about rocks and fossils for explorers ages 8 to 12, along with a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Junior Explorer Certificate that proves the child is a true budding “rock star.”

Junior-Palentologist-Activity-BookIs your child or grandchild a fan of Jurassic Park or Dinosaur Train? Then be sure to pick up the National Park Service’s Junior Paleontologist Activity Book, Ages 5-12, Explore, Learn, Protect Activity Book (US $6.00 includes FREE shipping) in which kids can learn about dinosaurs, explore some of the US national parks that offer you a look into this ancient past, and complete fun activities that will let them earn a junior paleontologist badge.

Deliciously-Healthy-Family-MealsFor busy parents who want to make healthy meal preparation a family affair, Keep the Beat™ Recipes: Deliciously Healthy Family Meals (ON SALE US $10.50 includes FREE shipping) is a delightful kid-friendly healthy cookbook developed by a single father and nutritionists that features delicious, heart-healthy, kid-friendly recipes and also provides tips for involving children in meal preparation. The appendix is loaded with information on meal planning, cooking, and nutrition for families and children to help combat obesity and diabetes.

NON-FICTION MULTIMEDIA AND PRINT BOOKS

Baptism-by-Fire-CIA-Korean-War-analysisWith an 85-year-old war Korean War veteran from America currently detained in North Korea while on a tourist trip, this new eBook from the CIA is very timely. Before North Korean forces invaded the South on 25 June 1950, the CIA had only a few officers in Korea, and none reported to the CIA’s analytic arm, the Office of Research and Estimates (ORE). With an accompanying DVD that contains over 1,300 recently declassified documents and more than 5,000 pages of material, this Baptism by Fire, CIA Analysis of the Korean War multimedia book-and-DVD set (US $18.00 includes FREE shipping) sums up the analysis by the then only 3-year old Central Intelligence Agency about the Korean Conflict and the generally low priority given the region by the Truman Administration’s State Department and the US Armed Forces.

YouTube-WarThe evolution of digital information and communication technologies have developed to such a point that terrorists can film, edit, and upload their own attacks to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other websites within minutes of staging them, whether the Western media are present or not. In this radically new information environment, the enemy no longer depends on traditional media. This is the “YouTube War.” The new book YouTube War: Fighting in a World of Cameras in Every Cell Phone and Photoshop on Every Computer (US $16.00 includes FREE shipping) lays out the nature of the new digital and online media environment in terms of its implications for a war against media-savvy insurgents, and then considers possible courses of action for the Army and the U.S. military.

Crossing-Cultures-with-the-Peace-CorpsCrossing Cultures with the Peace Corps: Peace Corps Letters from the Field (US $17.00 includes FREE shipping) is a great offering for a school or college student, a teacher, a newly or soon-to-retire person, or someone who likes reading about other cultures. Although the authors structured the book for use in schools, and includes lesson plans at the end of each letter, reading the letters is good entertainment for anyone. You can learn things about Togolese family life, Chinese average salaries, South African attitudes about AIDs, and the native tongue of Paraguay, Guaraní. Studying cultural attitudes of other societies always makes you appreciate your own society, and it may even make you want to learn more about others. This book will make you reflect on what you value, even while you walk away with some good talking points for your next party.

The-First-LadiesThe First Ladies (US $17.00 includes FREE shipping) is the perfect book for the history buff, art historian, costume designer or fashionista in your family. Each page features a biography of every first lady, and her official portrait in full color on the facing page. You can read the accomplishments and tribulations of each FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States) from Martha Washington through Laura Bush, watch the trends in ladies’ dress and portraiture change, and learn some interesting tidbits of American historical trivia. This book was my favorite Christmas gift when I was twelve, and the passage of time since then makes it nearly a classic today.

National-Wildlife-Refuge-System-Visitor-GuideNational Wildlife Refuge System: A Visitor’s Guide (US $5.00 includes FREE shipping) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages a “…diverse system of 500+ refuges encompassing almost 92 million acres of lands and waters spans the continent from Alaska’s Arctic tundra to the tropical forests in Florida; from the secluded atolls of Hawaii to the moose- trodden bogs of Maine.” Most of the book is composed of full-color maps. You can plan your next trip with the help of these maps, either for a weekend or a full two-week blowout in summer. This print edition is back-pocket friendly for a day out on the trail.

How-to-Prune-TreesHow to Prune Trees (ON SALE US $2.00 includes FREE shipping) is a great gift for any homeowner. While some may think pruning trees is quite simple, you actually have to know when to trim a tree, in what weather to trim it, and why you would trim a tree, etc. Pruning is a fairly complicated task; if you trim a tree incorrectly, you can kill it. It costs quite a bit to buy a new tree from a nursery, and a long time to grow a new one. Investing a mere $2 in this color-illustrated guide might save you or your gift’s recipient big bucks, and after a few reads, give the satisfaction of mastering a new art.

NON-FICTION EBOOKS

If eBooks are on your gift-giving list, try these new DRM-free downloadable offerings:

Exporters-Wit-and-Wisdom-of-Small-Business-OwnersExporters! The Wit and Wisdom of Small Business Owners Who Sell Globally (ePub eBook) (US $7.99) profiles 25 Americans who battled competitors, fear of the unknown, and personal adversity to build successful small export businesses in the global marketplace. Alternately humorous, amazing and inspirational, their stories also serve as valuable advice for readers wanting to follow their example and start exporting.

Childrens-Bureau-LegacyThe Children’s Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood (ePub eBook) (US $9.99) shares the 100-year legacy of this landmark agency that established the first Federal Government programs, research and social reform initiatives aimed to improve the safety, permanency and well-being of children, youth and families.  It provides a fascinating exploration of the evolution of America and our treatment of children through each Presidential Administration as it covers often inspiring and sometimes heart-wrenching topics such as: ending child labor, the Orphan Trains and the controversial Indian Boarding Schools; adoption and foster care; infant and maternal mortality; Aid to Dependent Children; support of US military families and care of European World War II refugee children; early childhood education Head Start; child abuse and neglect; and much more.

AND OUR FREE E-GIFT TO YOU

Fifty years have not erased the controversy and angst of the fateful day of November 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas. (See our blog post Remembering Camelot: Best of the old and new official publications about John F. Kennedy.)

GPO-WARREN-COMMISSION-REPORT-on-the-Assassination-of-President-John-F-Kennedy-JFKTo commemorate this tragic event, the Government Printing Office (GPO) is offering a free digitized version of the full, original (and now long out-of-print) Official Report on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (PDF) (FREE DOWNLOAD) by The President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, known as the Warren Commission. Sort through the evidence, interviews, and facts that were available to the Commission in the ten months following the assassination, and make your own conclusions about the crime and the report’s “single shooter” finding.

FREE SHIPPING ADDS TO THE JOY OF GIVING

When you’re looking for the perfect gift this holiday season, spend some time shopping through GPO’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore. And remember, worldwide standard SHIPPING IS FREE on the U.S. Government Bookstore website, so shop away!  After all, there’s enough there to stuff a sleigh (or a million dreidels ;-).

How can I obtain these 12 Bargain Books?

  • Shop Online: You can purchase these publications from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by clicking on the links above in this blog post or clicking here to shop all our BARGAINS UNDER $20 publications.
  • Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library.

** Brú na Bóinne is a carved stone underground chamber that lights up to show the carvings on the stone walls only on the winter solstice, December 21.

About the author(s): Adapted by Government Book Talk Editor-in-Chief and the US Government Printing Office (GPO) Promotions & Ecommerce Manager, Michele Bartram, from an original blog post by Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). Happy holidays from us both!


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