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Volume 15, Issue 35 ~ August 30 - September 5, 2007

Between the Covers

Decoding Intergalactic Intrigue: Luring the next generation of problem solvers

Ben Tausig’s Mad Tausig vs. the Interplanetary Puzzling Peace Patrol

reviewed by Tyras Madren

Stuffed into coach on a flight to a friend’s wedding, I find myself at that inevitable point in my Washington Post crossword when I’ve gone over every clue ad nauseam and still have holes to fill. In a battle between my intense type-A self and my diminutive creativity, I resist the temptation to challenge Merriam & Webster with made-up words.

Frustrated, I reach into my carry-on for a stellar escape; a collection of puzzles for kids to realign my intellectual ego. However, joining the Interplanetary Puzzling Peace Patrol (I3P), as I discover, is not an appointment to be taken lightly.

In Mad Tausig vs. the Interplanetary Puzzling Peace Patrol, Bay Weekly’s own syndicated cruciverbalist, Ben Tausig, presents a captivating introduction to word puzzles geared to ages nine to 12. But with the whimsically waggish artwork of Goopymart (Will Guy), sleuths of any age can lose themselves in this far-out adventure to prevent the destruction of the human race. For that’s what’s at stake in this haunting journey through more than two dozen puzzles guarded by Mad Tausig’s menacing silhouette on the book’s cover.

If you’ve got the guts to join the I3P — your good-guy role in this storyline — you’ll be immediately thrust into your first assignment: Discover the dastardly plans of I3P’s nemesis Mad Tausig. Begin by deciphering a jumbled classified document to reveal information about Mad Tausig’s interstellar heroic pelt (helicopter) and his secret lair’s exact taco lion (location). Then, by solving crosswords and logic puzzles, you’ll find his secret Terror Lab where Tausig performs his evil genetic experiments. Before you know it, you’ll be thrust into a galactic pursuit of an evil inventor up to no good.

Through a series of puzzles, you track Mad Tausig’s whereabouts and unravel his plans, encountering aliens and robots galore along the way. Tausig — author turned mad scientist — uses an intriguing storyline to get young readers hooked on puzzles of many sorts, including crosswords, logic puzzles, cryptograms, word scrambles and memory puzzles.

Solving each puzzle reveals additional clues to Mad Tausig’s evil plans. Tracking him beneath the sea, for instance, requires shrewd logical skills to determine which creatures to avoid and which are harmless. Rebels within the Martian population may help you overthrow Mad Tausig, but only a sharp eye will enable you to determine friend from foe. A crossword puzzle will reveal the path of escape from a dense jungle island. Mad Tausig’s Martian base is protected by a Sudoku puzzle. Even taking a break for a bite at Zob’s Quick Fix diner requires you to translate the alien menu.

Though excitement and challenge are the name of this game, Tausig provides generous tips and instruction to guide young gumshoes who may be getting their first taste of puzzles. Mad scientists of every age will remain captivated throughout this 80-page adventure, and Ben Tausig has sufficiently ensured himself an audience in the next generation.

As for me, I succumbed to Mad Tausig’s brain scrambler just as my flight landed, which seemed to jar loose those answers I was missing from my Washington Post crossword. Twenty down … electrabacus.

Mad Tausig vs. the Interplanetary Puzzling Peace Patrol, $7.95:

Making History

AP photographer Hank Burroughs captured history for 33 years, from wars, presidents and astronauts to our own Chesapeake Bay.

Associated Press photographer Henry Burroughs made the photos that captured history

reviewed by Carrie Madren

In a split second, a photojournalist captures a moment in history. Wherever mid-20th century Associated Press photographer Henry Burroughs closed the shutter on his black-and-white-film camera, history was captured, preserved and revealed.

Burroughs covered seven presidents, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Gerald Ford, spanning Germany after World War II, American astronauts, the early Cold War and Cuba. After 33 years at work on the frontlines of history, in retirement on the West River, Hank planned a memoir of all he’d seen. But he died in January of 2000, with only notes and pieces of his memoir complete.

His wife, Margaret Wohlgemuth Burroughs of Annapolis, finished and has now published the photo memoir, Close-ups of History: Three Decades through the Lens of an AP Photographer.

Published last month, the 272-page memoir is part biography, part autobiography. Through nine chapters, plus a foreward by Marlin Fitzwater, — press secretary to presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush — and an introduction by Margaret Burroughs, we learn how this one prize-winning photojournalist captured both historical moments, giving them a human face, and everyday modern life.

Inside, you’ll discover how a photojournalist waits for the precise moment to take the picture, frame the subjects and take an artistic angle — balanced in moments by intuition and skill.

Burroughs took risks to get the shot, like sneaking a camera under a bulky raincoat into the French tribunal’s courtroom to capture the moment Marshal Henri Philippe Pétain received his death sentence for heading up the Nazi-controlled Vichy government in France. He photographed the Kennedys during the Camelot years, and traveled with world leaders. He brought newspaper readers the human sides of presidents and the stark reality of war. A craftsman of film, Burrough gives us the inside scoop — through carefully calculated photos and affable writing style — on past presidents’ habits, hobbies and personalities.

The text, written by Henry and put together into a book by Margaret, is pleasantly easy to read, explaining featured images and telling the stories behind the historic photos — many of which you’ll recognize.

As alluring as the text is, though, you’ll find yourself thumbing through the book just to study the 112 photographs; savoring each, hungering for the next. Images’ captions provide brief insights into each photo.

In Close-ups of History, the Burroughs created a volume so rich with human interest that even non-history and non-art-minded readers will be drawn into Henry’s fascinating career and life.

Close-ups of History $34.95 at local bookstores and $23.07 online at By University of Missouri Press: 573-882-0180.

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2006 Book Reviews

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