By Dale Peterson

In this 740-page epic, Dale Peterson, editor of Goodall's books of letters, intimately documents the life and loves of the charismatic iconoclast who revolutionized primatology, changed the way we define humanity and inspired a generation of girls who dreamed of Africa and scientific adventure. As a young secretarial-school graduate who loved animals, Goodall began her career by boldly telephoning anthropologist Louis Leakey on a visit to Nairobi. Infatuated with her, Leakey sent her into the wild to observe chimps. Living at the edge of Lake Tanganyika, Goodall made up her own rules, parsed chimpanzee society and discovered that the apes were complex, emotional creatures who ate meat, did rain dances and devised tools. As described in her own letters and illuminated by Peterson's bulldog research, her private life was eventful: Though she spent long months in the isolation of Africa, she married twice and produced a beloved son. Though it seems too reverential at times, Jane Goodall does justice to its luminous subject.

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By Trish Wood


They may be unlikely literary heroes, but the American soldiers who serve as narrators in Wood's stunning oral history of the Iraq war are chillingly eloquent about life in a world where going to work can mean shooting a child or seeing a platoonmate blown to pieces. Officers, medics and tank gunners reveal as much about themselves as about the surreality of combat when they talk about facing IEDs in unarmored Humvees or photographing charred Iraqi corpses. In the words of Travis Williams of the 4th Marine Division ("The Fighting Dead"), "War turns you into what your mother wishes you would never be." Sniper Garett Reppenhagen put it this way: "At the end of the day, you feel more like a murderer than a soldier." Powerful and unflinchingly honest, Wood's book deserves to be a best-seller.

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By Carl Hiaasen

Zapped during dinner by a telemarketer peddling Florida "ranchettes," Honey Santana—who lives in the Everglades with her scarily precocious son Fry—doesn't just go postal, she devises a get-even scheme of demented brilliance. In short order, Honey ensnares herself, the pitchman, his mistress and the gumshoe hired by his wife—not to mention her own ex and a half-Seminole named Sammy Tigertail—in the kind of Floridian follies on which Hiassen owns the franchise. As the antics escalate some action careens towards the cartoonish, but the writing is never less than amusing, and the endearing Fry rates a return appearance.

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Home Ground Barry Lopez, editor "Hondo," "milk gap," "buffalo jump"—here are 850 distinctive terms used to describe the American landscape. Forty-five writers contribute lively definitions and mini-essays that illuminate our land—and that will make thesaurus addicts just plain happy.

How Language Works by David Crystal A compelling, easy-to-read treatise that will fascinate anyone even vaguely interested in how humans communicate. Down-to-earth, entertaining examples remove the sting from abstractions like phonology and lexicology.

Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog by Kitty Burns Florey Subtitled The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences, this gem from copy editor Florey is a bracing ode to grammar; it's laced with a survivor's nostalgia for classrooms ruled by knuckle-cracking nuns who knew their participles.

In a new book, journalist Sally Horchow teams with dad Roger (who founded the Horchow Catalog) to share tips on cultivating pals. Here, how their rules guide her relationships.

DO THE DISHING Horchow and Owen Wilson grew up in Dallas together. They share memories (peach pie and fried chicken were served at birthday dinners for their dads, both born on July 3) and make a point of "catching up on the present, too," Horchow says.

DON'T NEST, HIVE Hiving is "creating innovative group activities," says Horchow, who hosts a monthly pot luck for fellow cooks including actress Janel Moloney. Adds Moloney: "You have to make time to reconnect."

PRESS "SEND" After an event hosted by Horchow, actress Daphne Zuniga, a friend of a friend, sent an e-card of thanks. Says Horchow: "Now we have plans to get together."

BE A MATCHMAKER Horchow introduced director Stephen Gaghan and author Malcolm Gladwell; they're now collaborating on a film. Horchow's bonus: "Steve introduced me to interesting new friends."

Photojournalist Stephen Shames met Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton through the anti-war movement in '67; in subsequent years, he captured the lives of Black Panther Party members in striking, time-capsule photos. His new book marks the 40th anniversary of the party's birth.