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    W. Jeffrey Bolster wins Bancroft Prize

    Former ship’s captain wins Bancroft Prize

    Seafarer-turned-scholar W. Jeffrey Bolster has won the 2013 Bancroft Prize for “The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail” (Harvard University). Bolster, a resident of Portsmouth, N.H., got his first boat at age 12 and spent 10 years as a ship’s captain after graduating from college. He has fished in Georges Bank and Maine’s Muscongus Bay, off Cape Hatteras, and in Delaware Bay. That was before he realized the magnitude of the changes affecting the ocean’s bounty.

    As the University of New Hampshire associate history professor writes in the book’s preface, “Beginning the story well before industrialization emphasizes the longevity of people’s short-sighted impact on the ocean, and emphasizes, as well, how modern technology was not necessary to affect the balance of nature.” By offering this historical perspective, Bolster hopes that readers will understand the magnitude of the restoration challenges facing the world today.

    Bolster is one of two winners of this year’s Bancroft Prize, awarded by Columbia University. The other is Yale University law professor John Fabian Witt for “Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History” (Free Press). Winners are judged on the scope, significance, and depth of their research as well as the richness of their interpretation. A total of 223 books in history and diplomacy were nominated.

    Magical, mystery bookstore tour


    Tour leaders Helene and Alan Korolenko are now accepting reservations for a Greenwich Village Booklovers Adventure bus trip on June 1. This is the sixth such trip the couple has organized to New York City. The Westport residents are amiable tour guides but independent types can head off on their own with a map of Village bookstores. Since last year’s trip, Partners & Crime has closed but the Korolenkos have discovered another mystery bookstore they are eager to visit.

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    A roundtrip ticket for the chartered bus, which leaves from and returns to Dartmouth, is $70. A $25 nonrefundable deposit is due by May 11. E-mail for details.

    Writing luminaries to be honored

    On April 14 the Associates of the Boston Public Library is hosting the 25th annual Literary Lights fund-raiser. This year’s honorees are historian David McCullough, novelist Junot Diaz, historian Drew Faust, mystery writer Joseph Finder, playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, nonfiction writer Sherry Turkle, and children’s author Mo Willems.

    Tickets to the black-tie dinner at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel are $425 per person. Part of the proceeds will go toward the preservation of books at the BPL.

    Last day of poetry festival

    The Boston National Poetry Month Festival wraps up Sunday, April 7, with readings at the BPL by Ifeanyi Menkiti, owner of the Grolier Poetry Book Shop; Somerville poets Gloria Mindock and Doug Holder; and others. The poetry begins at 1:10 and ends at 4:40 p.m. There also will be a poetry workshop and an open mic. Details at

    Coming out


    “The Deadly Sisterhood: A Story of Women, Power, and Intrigue in the Italian Renaissance, 1427-1527” by Leonie Frieda (Harper)

    “The Shared Wisdom of Mothers and Daughters: The Timelessness of Simple Truths” by Alexandra Stoddard (William Morrow)

    “Don’t Go” by Lisa Scottoline (St. Martin’s)

    Pick of the Week

    Lorna Ruby of Wellesley Books in Wellesley recommends “Leaving Everything Most Loved” by Jacqueline Winspear (Harper): “In this, her 10th Maisie Dobbs novel, Winspear gives us all that we have come to expect and more: More time with our favorite characters, more insight into British society post-World War I, and more of Maisie as she struggles to make her way in the world and do what is right by those whom she loves.”

    Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@
    . Follow her on Twitter @JanLGardner.