Books by A.B.C. Whipple

CRITTERS by A.B.C. Whipple
NON-FICTION
Released: March 1, 1994

Primarily known as the author of numerous naval history books (To the Shores of Tripoli, 1991, etc.), Whipple turns his attention here to an investigation—via both firsthand observation and research—of the local wildlife that live in and about his Greenwich, Connecticut, neighborhood. From the skunk that moved into his basement one winter (just as he was preparing to rent his house) to the mockingbird that warbled hundreds of different tunes as it sat on top of his TV antenna, Whipple shares his fascination with, and concerns about, ten species that live within close proximity to people. Along the way, he provides detailed information on their natural history and habits: most gulls, we learn, are shorebirds (not sea birds) and are one of the few air-breathing creatures that can drink salt water; squirrels often show an affinity for fine music; and bats, far from the menace they're reported to be, actually help people by consuming large quantities of mosquitos and other insect pests each night. Meanwhile, Whipple has little good to say about deer hunters and overzealous government agents who try to rid the suburbs of unwanted wildlife. He does offer many useful suggestions for coexisting with animals, such as natural sprays one can put on plants to deter hungry animals. Of particular interest to those with an appreciation—and a soft spot—for backyard fauna. (Eleven lovely line drawings accompany the text) Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: July 18, 1991

America's first hostage crises date back to its formative years, when Muslim pirates operating out of city-state ports along North Africa's Barbary Coast preyed on its merchant vessels in the Mediterranean. Here, with considerable analytic flair, Whipple (The Challenge, 1987) sorts out Washington's often irresolute response to these seizures and the incarceration of US sailors. In his engrossing narrative (which neither ignores nor belabors obvious parallels to latter-day events in the Middle East), the author skillfully combines vivid accounts of derring-do with shrewd appraisals of contemporary politics and diplomacy. Among other events, the many-splendored story line encompasses the first US attempt to overthrow the head of a hostile government (the bashaw of Tripoli), plus America's initial effort to isolate another nation via blockade—and bombardment. Covered as well are our nation's earliest debates on defense budgets, foreign intervention, the President's war-making powers, and allied issues that have proved nothing if not perdurable. In addition to the satisfyingly treacherous villains, the plot features a great many authentic American heroes and more than a few shady middlemen offering to swap arms for captives. Standouts in the white-hat ranks include Edward Preble (a quarter-deck tyrant who commanded the first US Navy forces to go into battle), Stephen Decatur (then a junior officer of notable boldness), and William Eaton. As a self-styled general, Eaton led a rabble of Arabs, Christians, and eight US Marines out of Egypt across the Libyan desert to free the 307-man crew of an American warship captured by the Tripolitans. How legates with their own agendas cheated him (and the US) of a hard-won victory at the 11th hour makes a fascinating and cautionary tale. Americana at its rousing and resonant best. Read full book review >