Bound for Canaan; The Perfectionist | History | Smithsonian

Bound for Canaan; The Perfectionist

Bound for Canaan; The Perfectionist

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Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America

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The creation of the Undergound Railroad is shrouded in the mists of legend. Now Fergus M. Bordewich tells the long and complex history of a growing movement that freed slaves and eventually changed the fundamental nature of the United States.

The "railroad" was, of course, nothing of the sort, but rather a gradually developed, ultimately complex network of secret routes and safe houses that gave slaves in the American South a way to escape to freedom.

Bordewich begins with the remarkable Josiah Henson, a "conductor" on the railroad who had been born into slavery and who "would eventually become one of the best-known African Americans of his time." Throughout Bound for Canaan, the author introduces us to people who, like Henson, took actions, either to free themselves or to free others, that were illegal and in most cases dangerous. The sum of their heroic efforts was a great, finally irresistible wave that crested in 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine

Rudolph Chelminski
Gotham/Penguin, $27.50
Click Here to Buy This Book

In this meticulously reported book about the rise and fall of French chef Bernard Loiseau, we enter a world where the preparation of meals—memorable meals that can cost globe-trotting gourmands $1,000 or more for two—takes on near-cosmic importance.

In 1968, at the age of 17, Loiseau was hired as a lowly apprentice at a two-star restaurant in Roanne. There, his dutiful attention to detail, protean energy and admirable work ethic propelled him upward. Even though his training in classical cuisine was incomplete, he had, Chelminski writes, "vision to spare, along with a finely discerning palate that with the years was to develop into one of the best in the business."

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