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Salvatore Quasimodo
Salvatore Quasimodo by Stephen Alcorn, 1984.


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Quinn, Stephen C. (2006). Windows on Nature: The Great Habitat Dioramas of the American Museum of Natural History. New York, Harry N. Abrams.
New York City's American Museum of Natural History is a national treasure, attracting four million visitors annually. Its dioramas-a dazzling mixture of nature, science, and art-have inspired young and old alike, and are world-renowned examples of the unique diorama craft: art in the service of science. Now, in the only book of its kind, readers get an insider's view of these "windows on nature," witnessing their creation step by meticulous step.

More than forty of the museum's finest dioramas are featured here, depicting the fauna and flora of myriad ecological environments. Stephen Quinn, a diorama artist at the museum, introduces the explorers, naturalists, painters, sculptors, taxidermists, and conservationists behind these three-dimensional marvels, and explains how their collaborations make the displays so lifelike.

Quirk, James P. and Rodney D. Fort (1999). Hard Ball : The Abuse of Power in Pro Team Sports
. Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press.
As important as it is depressing, Hard Ball takes a serious look at how professional sports in America has fans and communities in a vise grip. Salaries are out of control. Labor disputes and contract renegotiations are reported next to the standings. Corporate boxes and sponsorships determine the fate of stadiums. Owners hold cities hostage. In an arena in which teams are obsessed with profits over championships, bottom lines over win-loss records, and market bases over fan loyalties, the games themselves are really secondary, at best.

A pair of economists, Quirk and Fort explore the ways the major sports--baseball, football, basketball, and hockey--have changed the way they do business in the last half of the 20th century as the balance of financial power has shifted overwhelmingly to the individual league monopolies: "The market power of leagues enables them to capture the great bulk of the monopoly profits, from gate receipts, media income, sweetheart stadium deals and rental arrangements, and other sources. These monopoly profits in turn become the prize package over which owners and players, who are backed by their player unions, fight." In any other industry, the authors contend, these monopolies would have long ago been banged around by Congress, and, indeed, they argue quite forcefully for their breakups. Neither their diagnosis of disease nor their prescription for cure are new. Still, what makes Hard Ball sadly necessary is how clearly and completely Quirk and Fort make their case that, for the good of sports, something's gotta give. - Jeff Silverman

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