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Duck and Cover Hardcover – September, 1991

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins; 1st edition (September 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060163208
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060163204
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #659,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Meet the MacKenzies: Dad, a dedicated career diplomat; Mom, a Bible-thumping CIA operative; son Davy, a gung-ho fighter pilot nicknamed Rocket Man; and daughters Tia, a trauma nurse married to a survivalist/heart surgeon, and Sydney, a psychologist given on-the-job training by her own off-center family. Narrated in the perfectly cadenced voices of nine different members of the clan (including kid's-eye views of two grandchildren), Peterson's bittersweert and utterly beguiling novel looks back at the MacKenzies during the fallout-sheltered, duck-and-cover air-raid days of the Cold War '50s. She follows them through Dad's embassy postings in various Latin American hot spots and into the present era of detente, although adulthood for the three siblings does not, alas, lead to disarmament. Bullied by their domineering, self-righteous mother, at odds with their respective spouses, each of them is more deeply concerned with the quest for inner peace than with the pursuit of world order. Sydney, Tia and Davy ultimately discover that life in the shadow of Armageddon requires looking up and facing front rather than ducking down. "It takes a nuclear family to live in our nuclear age," observes one of the grandchildren's teachers. So the endearing, abiding MacKenzie kids prove.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This is an unusual novel about a bizarre family, the MacKenzies, during the last years of the Cold War. Mother is slightly mad, a religious freak, and works for the CIA. Dad is a government worker, and son Davy is a Navy pilot. Daughter Sydney is a psychologist, and her sister Tia is a nurse. Each major character, including grandchildren, recounts her/his view of events from 1982 to the present, exploring family relationships (mostly bad) and reactions to various world situations. The resulting story offers insight into the American way of life, presented in a fresh style with on-target dialog and dollops of black humor. The title refers to what one does before a disaster, such as a nuclear war.
- Robert H. Donahugh, formerly with Youngstown & Mahoning Cty. P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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More About the Author

"When you write memoir, you discover the love of your life is--your life." Your Life is a Book selects YOUR LIFE IS A BOOK: How to Craft and Publish Your Memoir for its inspiration and practical advice.

Unlike other memoir books, this new writer's guide includes cutting-edge insights and advice on both indie and traditional publication, as well as time-tested writing prompts and exercises on the craft of writing memoir. An award-winning memoirist and her NYC successful literary agent team up to guide you every step of the way--from life story to publication.

"If I were going to write the story of my life, this is the book I'd look to first and last for encouragement, inspiration, and practical advice."

--Nancy Pearl, author of bestselling Book Lust series

LIBRARY JOURAL review: September 1, 2014

Peterson, Brenda & Sarah Jane Freymann. 
Your Life Is a Book: How To Craft & Publish Your Memoir. Sasquatch. Oct. 2014. 256p. notes. ISBN 9781570619304. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781570619311. COMM

Peterson (I Want To Be Left Behind) and Freymann (founder, Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency) bring decades of experience to bear on the subject of writing and publishing a memoir. Affable, confident, and candid, the authors teach that the process, when done right, can be a journey of personal growth, illustrating their points with poignant examples and metaphors. Part 1, "Crafting Your Memoir," introduces the genre and covers an array of topics: death, abuse, family secrets, food, travel, spirituality, animals, and more. The advice on what does and doesn't work with each topic is razor sharp and is the overall strength of the book. Battle-tested tips, exercises, and prompts close most chapters, providing writers an opportunity to practice and apply their craft. The second half, "Getting Serious About Publishing," offers insightful perspectives on blogging, agents, editors, handling rejection, indie publishing, and more. Discussions of factuality, point of view, drafting, and scenes are excellent but could be expanded. ­VERDICT This is a reassuring introduction to how writers should approach their first memoir and an honest discussion of what it will take to publish one.--Paul Stenis, Pepperdine Univ. Lib., Malibu, CA

"YOUR LIFE IS A BOOK is like having a personal writing mentor and practical literary agent guide you every step of the way in telling your life story. Inspiring, instructive, and most of all, inviting, Peterson and Freymann share their own successful writing and publishing experiences with warmth and wit. I wish I'd had this book when I was writing my memoir!"
--Sy Montgomery, author of bestselling memoir, THE GOOD, GOOD PIG

We are on book tour for our Salish Sea Writers new anthology, SECRET HISTORIES: Stories of Courage, Risk, and Revelation. Here is video from our first panel discussion on finding your writing community, indie publishing, and the courage to keep writing:

Step into the lives of 25 different writers and hear audio clips on SOUND CLOUD from the collection: and
Sound Cloud stories:

My new crossover YA novel,THE DROWNING WORLD, is on Sale in paperback and ebook. Publisher's Weekly feature interview welcomes THE DROWNING WORLD:

Carolyn Turgeon, best-selling author of MERMAID, features THE DROWNING WORLD: in her blog, I Am A Mermaid:

Our new EARLY READER, Seal Pup Rescue, is just out and a Scholastic Book Fair selection. It is the Read on Your Own version of our children's picture book LEOPARD AND SILKIE: ONE BOY'S QUEST TO SAVE THE SEAL PUP, which was selected as a 2013 "Outstanding Science Book for K-12" by National Science Teachers Association. LEOPARD AND SILKIE is featured in a national NPR "LIving on Earth" story at this link:


And please visit our new Leopard and Silkie website:

ABC NEWS welcomes Leopard and Silkie:



WATCH Brenda's BOOK LUST "You Tube" excerpt on this page below or see the full interview with Nancy Pearl at this link:

Brenda's new website: or

LISTEN to an audio excerpt from the new book on National Public Radio read by the author at:

"Unusually affecting and radiant...Peterson seeks a meeting of church and earth in this witty, enrapturing account of a spiritual journey of great relevance to us all." BOOKLIST, starred review

"A tender, lyrical account, Peterson expresses genuine love for her family and gratitude for their gifts. Peterson always seeks common ground." LIBRARY JOURNAL

"Blends her unique autobiography with compassionate and level-headed observations about family, food, religion, life and our relationship with living things. Peterson has a gift for describing her life's many adventures with disarming understatement and narrative poise." KIRKUS REVIEWS

"Brenda Peterson's picaresque memoir is a mesmerizing treat, at turns inspiring and hilarious. Her keen-eyed descriptions of the natural world, and a delicious sense of fun, combine beautifully with tales of protecting seals, whales, hope, and other wild things."
Diane Ackerman, author THE ZOOKEEPER'S WIFE

"A loving, luminous portrait of an irresistibly intriguing family, told by the most fascinating member of all -- the one who doesn't fit in. It's alive with stars over the Grand Canyon, scents of the sea, menus at family gatherings, and singing a descant. The story is told with such truth and tenderness that you can't help loving the whole family."
Sy Montgomery, author of THE GOOD, GOOD PIG

"I've been a fan of Brenda Peterson's novels since the witty DUCK AND COVER. But I can't think of another book at all like this memoir -- it's so odd and wonderful. Peterson writes here of family and conflicting faiths with moving and poignant humor."
Diane Johnson, author of LE DIVORCE

"Brenda Peterson, one of the most eloquent nature writers of our time, takes on human nature. Read this book and share it widely. It is that important."
Marc Bekoff, author of of THE EMOTIONAL LIFE OF ANIMALS

Visit Brenda's website at:

Brenda Peterson is the author of 17 books, including a New York Times "Notable Book of the Year," DUCK AND COVER. Her memoir, BUILD ME AN ARK: A Life with Animals was chosen as a "Best Spiritual Book of 2001" and translated into Chinese. Her non-fiction books include the classic LIVING BY WATER and the National Geographic Book SIGHTINGS. Peterson's most recent novel is ANIMAL HEART (Sierra Club Books).

For the past three decades Peterson has written about inter-species relationships and edited several bestselling anthologies, including INTIMATE NATURE and FACE TO FACE. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Body/Soul magazine, Reader's Digest, Sierra, San Francisco Chronicle, Utne Reader, and Oprah magazine. Since 1993 she has contributed commentary for Seattle's NPR stations.

Peterson's recent book, I WANT TO BE LEFT BEHIND: Finding Rapture Here on Earth is a spiritual memoir, widely acclaimed and named as a "Top Ten Best Book of the Year" by The Christian Science Monitor. Hew new children's book, LEOPARD AND SILKIE: ONE BOY'S QUEST TO SAVE THE SEAL PUPS IS JUST out from Henry Holt for Young Readers.Peterson is the founder of the grassroots citizen naturalists Seal Sitters [] and she is also a devoted singer in a Seattle chorale. Peterson writes and teaches in Seattle, Washington by the Salish Sea.Contact her through her EMAIL:

author photos by: Chris Stuvek and Deb Ching