*America: A Visual History -- From Then to Now, Life Books, $29.95: The editors of Life have chosen 100 iconic photographs from their massive collection that chronicle big moments in American history and culture, ranging from the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 to the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

The coffee-table book is divided into three broad sections: people, places and things. The people are many and fascinating: racial inequality in its various phases; women's suffrage and the feminist movement; singers and dancers, golfers and boxers; even murderers and thieves.

The "places" section begins at the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park, then moves east to New Hampshire and Cape Cod.

The final section, "things," concludes with images of the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore, but also with a photograph of a young Alexander Graham Bell displaying an early telephone in 1876, juxtaposed with Steve Jobs introducing Apple's iPhone at the 2007 MacWorld Conference.


*Cannabis Trips: A Global Guide That Leaves No Turn Unstoned, Running Press, $16.95: Author Bill Weinberg explores the cannabis scenes from Arcata in Humboldt County, Calif., to Australia.

The Netherlands also is here -- again no surprise -- but so is (genuine surprise) Toronto, which hosts Canada's biggest cannabis festival in early May.

In addition, he reports on the scenes in such disparate places as Morocco; Durban, South Africa; Kathmandu, Nepal; Kingston, Jamaica; and Rio de Janeiro.


*Mommy, Are We French Yet? Tales of an American Family Living in France, Five Star Misadventures, $14.95: It all began with an innocent comment: "We should all move to Europe in the next few years." The speaker was the husband of the author, Shawn Underwood.

It would be an adventure. They researched possible countries before deciding on France. It's an enjoyable and humorous journey into culture shock, even if their French sojourn concludes with the scary arrival of six robbers, an unheard-of crime that fortunately ends peacefully for all concerned.