Posts Tagged ‘nonfiction’

Winning Book on a Medical Theme

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Andrew Solomon’s Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity has just won the Wellcome Book Prize for a title on a medical theme. Chair of judges Andrew Motion said the book has “already been widely praised but I hope this lifts it to another level. Anyone who has ever had anything to do with a family should read it–and that’s everybody,” the Guardian reported.

Click here to go straight to our catalog. Here is what it says in our catalog about the book:

“From the National Book Award–winning author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression comes a monumental new work, a decade in the writing, about family. In Far from the Tree, Andrew Solomon tells the stories of parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children but also find profound meaning in doing so.

Solomon’s startling proposition is that diversity is what unites us all. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the experience of difference within families is universal, as are the triumphs of love Solomon documents in every chapter.

All parenting turns on a crucial question: to what extent parents should accept their children for who they are, and to what extent they should help them become their best selves. Drawing on forty thousand pages of interview transcripts with more than three hundred families, Solomon mines the eloquence of ordinary people facing extreme challenges. Whether considering prenatal screening for genetic disorders, cochlear implants for the deaf, or gender reassignment surgery for transgender people, Solomon narrates a universal struggle toward compassion. Many families grow closer through caring for a challenging child; most discover supportive communities of others similarly affected; some are inspired to become advocates and activists, celebrating the very conditions they once feared. Woven into their courageous and affirming stories is Solomon’s journey to accepting his own identity, which culminated in his midlife decision, influenced by this research, to become a parent.

Elegantly reported by a spectacularly original thinker, Far from the Tree explores themes of generosity, acceptance, and tolerance—all rooted in the insight that love can transcend every prejudice. This crucial and revelatory book expands our definition of what it is to be human.” (Simon and Schuster)

Editor

 

Top Baseball Books of 2013

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Class A: baseball in the middle of everywhereby Lucas Mann.  “An unforgettable chronicle of a year of minor-league baseball in a small Iowa town that follows not only the travails of the players of the Clinton LumberKings but also the lives of their dedicated fans and of the town itself.

Award-winning essayist Lucas Mann delivers a powerful debut in his telling of the story of the 2010 season of the Clinton LumberKings. Along the Mississippi River, in a Depression-era stadium, young prospects from all over the world compete for a chance to move up through the baseball ranks to the major leagues. Their coaches, some of whom have spent nearly half a century in the game, watch from the dugout. In the bleachers, local fans call out from the same seats they’ve occupied year after year. And in the distance, smoke rises from the largest remaining factory in a town that once had more millionaires per capita than any other in America.

Mann turns his eye on the players, the coaches, the fans, the radio announcer, the town, and finally on himself, a young man raised on baseball, driven to know what still draws him to the stadium. His voice is as fresh and funny as it is poignant, illuminating both the small triumphs and the harsh realities of minor-league ball. Part sports story, part cultural exploration, part memoir, Class A is a moving and unique study of why we play, why we watch, and why we remember.” (Random House, Inc.)

Color Blind: the forgotten team that broke baseball’s color lineby Tom Dunkel. “During the Great Depression, out in drought stricken North Dakota, one of the most improbable teams in the history of baseball was put together by one of the sport’s most unlikely champions. In Bismarck, a decade before Jackie Robinson broke into the Major Leagues, car dealer Neil Churchill signed the best players he could find, regardless of race, and fielded an integrated squad that took on all comers in spectacular fashion. Color Blind, from award-winning journalist Tom Dunkel, tells this remarkable, largely forgotten story.

When baseball swept America in the years after the Civil War, independent, semi-pro, and municipal leagues sprouted up everywhere. Color Blind immerses the reader in the wild and wonderful world of independent baseball, with its tough competition and its novelty – from all-brother teams and a prison team (who only played home games, naturally) to one from a religious commune that sported Old Testament beards. Dunkel traces the rise of the Bismarck squad, and follows them through their ups and downs, focusing on the 1935 season, and the first National Semi-Pro Tournament in Wichita, Kansas. This is an entertaining, must-read book for anyone interested in the history of baseball.” (Perseus Publishing)

Heart of a Tiger: growing up with my grandfather, Ty Cobb by Herschel Cobb. “The previously untold legacy of Ty Cobb Ty Cobb is a baseball immortal, considered by many the greatest player who ever lived. In an age when the game was young and tough, he cultivated a reputation as the fiercest competitor of them all. Yet after he retired, he realized that the very qualities that helped him reach the pinnacle of his profession also undermined his relationship with his own children. He was deeply depressed when two of his sons died at a very young age. Cobb never had the chance to bridge the emotional distance between them. Herschel Cobb grew up in a chaotic, destructive household. His father was cruel and abusive, and his mother was an adulterous alcoholic. After his father died, when Herschel was eight, he began to spend a portion of each summer with his grandfather. Along with his sister and brother, Herschel visited Ty Cobb at his home in Atherton, California, or at his cabin at Lake Tahoe. These days were filled with adventures, memorable incidents, and discoveries as “Granddaddy” warmed to having his “three redheads” with him. Heart of a Tiger is Herschel Cobb’s moving account of how a retired sports star seized a second chance at having a close family, with his grandchildren the lucky recipients of his change of heart. He provided wisdom, laughter, and a consistent affection that left an indelible mark. He proved the enormous power of a grandparent to provide stability, love, and guidance. As he developed this new, wholly different legacy, in turn he would finally come to peace with himself.” (Perseus Publishing)

Mr. Wrigley’s Ball Club: Chicago & the Cubs during the jazz ageby Roberts Ehrgott. “Chicago in the Roaring Twenties was a city of immigrants, mobsters, and flappers with one shared passion: the Chicago Cubs. It all began with the decision of the chewing-gum tycoon William Wrigley to build the world’s greatest ball club in the nation’s Second City. In this Jazz Age center, the maverick Wrigley exploited the revolutionary technology of broadcasting and attracted eager throngs of women to his renovated ballpark.

Mr. Wrigley’s Ball Club transports us to this heady era of baseball history and introduces the team at its crazy heart—an amalgam of rakes, pranksters, schemers, and choirboys who take center stage in memorable successes and disasters. Readers take front-row seats to meet one Hall of Famer after another—Grover Cleveland Alexander, Rogers Hornsby, Joe McCarthy, Lewis “Hack” Wilson, Gabby Hartnett. The cast of characters also includes their colorful if less-sung teammates and the Cubs’ nemesis, Babe Ruth, who terminates the ambitions of Mr. Wrigley’s ball club with one emphatic swing.” (Univ of Nebraska Press)

The Victory Season: the end of World War II and the birth of baseball’s golden ageby Robert Weintraub. “In 1945 Major League Baseball had become a ghost of itself. Parks were half empty, the balls were made with fake rubber, and mediocre replacements roamed the fields, as hundreds of players, including the game’s biggest stars, were serving abroad, devoted to unconditional Allied victory in World War II.

But by the spring of 1946, the country was ready to heal. The war was finally over, and as America’s fathers and brothers were coming home, so too were the sport’s greats. Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and Joe DiMaggio returned with bats blazing, making the season a true classic that ended in a thrilling seven-game World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals. America also witnessed the beginning of a new era in baseball-it was a year of attendance records, the first year Yankee Stadium held night games, the last year the Green Monster wasn’t green, and, most significant, Jackie Robinson’s first year playing in the Brooklyn Dodgers’ system.

The Victory Season brings to vivid life these years of baseball and war, including the littleknown “World Series” that servicemen played in a captured Hitler Youth stadium in the fall of 1945. Robert Weintraub’s extensive research and vibrant storytelling enliven the legendary season that embodies what we now think of as the game’s golden era.” (Grand Central Pub)

Editor

The Confidence Code on The View

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Today, April 14, on the View: Claire Shipman, co-author of The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance–What Women Should Know (Find this book in our catalog). She will also appear on Good Morning America.

Here’s what it says in our catalog: “Confidence. We want it. We need it. But it can be maddeningly enigmatic and out of reach. The authors of the New York Times bestseller Womenomics deconstruct this essential, elusive, and misunderstood quality and offer a blueprint for bringing more of it into our lives.

Is confidence hardwired into the DNA of a lucky few—or can anyone learn it? Is it best expressed by bravado, or is there another way to show confidence? Which is more important: confidence or competence? Why do so many women, even the most successful, struggle with feelings of self-doubt? Is there a secret to channeling our inner confidence?

In The Confidence Code, journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman travel to the frontiers of neuroscience on a hunt for the confidence gene and reveal surprising new research on its roots in our brains. They visit the world’s leading psychologists who explain how we can all chose to become more confident simply by taking action and courting risk, and how those actions change our physical wiring. They interview women leaders from the worlds of politics, sports, the military, and the arts to learn how they have tapped into this elemental resource. They examine how a lack of confidence impacts our leadership, success, and fulfillment.

Ultimately, they argue, while confidence is partly influenced by genetics, it is not a fixed psychological state. That’s the good news. You won’t discover it by thinking positive thoughts or by telling yourself (or your children) that you are perfect as you are. You also won’t find it by simply squaring your shoulders and faking it. But it does require a choice: less people pleasing and perfectionism and more action, risk taking, and fast failure.

Inspiring, insightful, and persuasive, The Confidence Code shows that by acting on our best instincts and by daring to be authentic, women can feel the transformative power of a life on confidence.” (HarperCollins)

Editor

Lacrosse in the Media

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Tomorrow morning, Wednesday April 9, Morning Joe will feature William D. Cohan, author of The Price of Silence: The Duke Lacrosse Scandal, the Power of the Elite, and the Corruption of Our Great Universities (Find this book in our catalog).

What it says in our catalog: “Bestselling author William D. Cohan, whose reporting and writing have been hailed as “gripping” (the New York Times), “authoritative” (the Washington Post), and “seductively engrossing” (Chicago Tribune), presents a stunning new account of the Duke lacrosse team scandal that reveals the pressures faced by America’s elite colleges and universities and pulls back the curtain, in a riveting narrative, on the larger issues of sexual misconduct, underage drinking, and bad-boy behavior—all too prevalent on campuses across the country.

Despite being front-page news nationwide, the true story of the 2006 Duke lacrosse team rape case has never been told in its entirety and is more complex than all the reportage to date would indicate. The Price of Silence is the definitive, magisterial account of what happens when the most combustible forces in American culture— unbridled ambition, intellectual elitism, athletic prowess, aggressive sexual behavior, racial bias, and absolute prosecutorial authority—collide and then explode on a powerful university campus, in the justice system, and in the media.

What transpired at Duke followed upon the university’s unprecedented and determined effort to compete directly with the Ivy League for the best students and with its Division I rivals for supremacy in selected sports—most famously men’s basketball, where Duke has become a perennial powerhouse and the winner of four national championships. As Cohan brilliantly shows, the pursuit of excellence in such diverse realms put extraordinary strains on the campus culture and—warned some longtime Duke observers—warped the university’s academic ethos. Duke became known for its “work hard, play hard” dynamic, and specifically for its wild off-campus parties, where it seemed almost anything could happen—and often did.

Cohan’s reconstruction of the scandal’s events—the night in question, the local police investigation, Duke’s actions, the lacrosse players’ defense tactics, the furious campus politics—is meticulous and complete. Readers who think they know the story are in for more than one surprise, for at the heart of it are individuals whose lives were changed forever. As the scandal developed, different actors fought to control the narrative. At stake were not just the futures of the accused players, the reputation of the woman claiming she was raped, and the career of the local prosecutor, but also the venerable and carefully nurtured name of Duke University itself—the Duke brand, exceedingly valuable when competing for elite students, world-class athletes, talented professors, and the financial support of its nationally prominent, deep-pocketed alumni. The battle for power involved the Duke administration, led by its president, Richard Brodhead, a blazing academic star hired away from Yale; the Duke board of trustees, which included several titans of Wall Street; the faculty, comprising a number of outspoken critics of the lacrosse players; the athletes’ parents, many of whom were well connected in Washington and New York and able—and willing—to hire expensive counsel to defend their sons; and, ultimately, the justice system of North Carolina, which took over the controversial case and rendered its judgment.

The price of resolving the scandal proved extraordinarily high, both in terms of unexpected human suffering and the stratospheric costs of settling legal claims. The Price of Silence is a story unlike any other, yet sheds light on what is really happening on campuses around the country as colleges and universities compete urgently with one another, and confirms William Cohan’s preeminent reputation as one of the most lively and insightful journalists working today.” (Simon and Schuster)

Editor

National Book Critics Circle Awards

Friday, April 4th, 2014

March 13, 2014 the National Book Critics Circle announced its Award Winners for Publishing Year 2013.

The annual National Book Critics Circle awards are the only literature honors given out by book reviewers and critics.  Click on a highlighted title to go straight to our catalog.

Biography – Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World, by Leo Damrosch.

“Jonathan Swift is best remembered today as the author of Gulliver’s Travels, the satiric fantasy that quickly became a classic and has remained in print for nearly three centuries. Yet Swift also wrote many other influential works, was a major political and religious figure in his time, and became a national hero, beloved for his fierce protest against English exploitation of his native Ireland. What is really known today about the enigmatic man behind these accomplishments? Can the facts of his life be separated from the fictions?

In this deeply researched biography, Leo Damrosch draws on discoveries made over the past thirty years to tell the story of Swift’s life anew. Probing holes in the existing evidence, he takes seriously some daring speculations about Swift’s parentage, love life, and various personal relationships and shows how Swift’s public version of his life—the one accepted until recently—was deliberately misleading. Swift concealed aspects of himself and his relationships, and other people in his life helped to keep his secrets.

Assembling suggestive clues, Damrosch re-narrates the events of Swift’s life while making vivid the sights, sounds, and smells of his English and Irish surroundings. Through his own words and those of a wide circle of friends, a complex Swift emerges: a restless, combative, empathetic figure, a man of biting wit and powerful mind, and a major figure in the history of world letters.” (Yale University)

Fiction – Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi.

“As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their lives.

Fearless, gripping, at once darkly funny and tender, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story set in today’s globalized world: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s most powerful and astonishing novel yet.” (Random House, Inc.)

General Nonfiction – Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, by Sheri Fink.

“Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink’s landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina — and her suspenseful portrayal of the quest for truth and justice. After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths. Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing. In a voice at once involving and fair, masterful and intimate, Fink exposes the hidden dilemmas of end-of-life care and reveals just how ill-prepared we are in America for the impact of large-scale disasters–and how we can do better. A remarkable book, engrossing from start to finish, Five Days at Memorial radically transforms your understanding of human nature in crisis.” (Amazon.com)

Poetry – Metaphysical Dog : Poems, by Frank Bidart.

“In “Those Nights,” Frank Bidart writes: “We who could get / somewhere through / words through / sex could not.” Words and sex, art and flesh: In Metaphysical Dog, Bidart explores their nexus. The result stands among this deeply adventurous poet’s most powerful and achieved work, an emotionally naked, fearlessly candid journey through many of the central axes, the central conflicts, of his life, and ours.

Near the end of the book, Bidart writes:

In adolescence, you thought your work

ancient work: to decipher at last

human beings’ relation to God. Decipher

love. To make what was once whole

whole again: or to see

why it never should have been thought whole.

This “ancient work” reflects what the poet sees as fundamental in human feeling, what psychologists and mystics have called the “hunger for the Absolute”—a hunger as fundamental as any physical hunger. This hunger must confront the elusiveness of the Absolute, our self-deluding, failed glimpses of it. The third section of the book is titled “History is a series of failed revelations.”

The result is one of the most fascinating and ambitious books of poetry in many years.”

John Leonard Prize – A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Anthony Marra.

“Two doctors risk everything to save the life of a hunted child in this majestic debut about love, loss, and the unexpected ties that bind us together. “On the morning after the Feds burned down her house and took her father, Havaa woke from dreams of sea anemones.” Havaa, eight years old, hides in the woods and watches the blaze until her neighbor, Akhmed, discovers her sitting in the snow. Akhmed knows getting involved means risking his life, and there is no safe place to hide a child in a village where informers will do anything for a loaf of bread, but for reasons of his own, he sneaks her through the forest to the one place he thinks she might be safe: an abandoned hospital where the sole remaining doctor, Sonja Rabina, treats the wounded. Though Sonja protests that her hospital is not an orphanage, Akhmed convinces her to keep Havaa for a trial, and over the course of five extraordinary days, Sonja’s world will shift on its axis and reveal the intricate pattern of connections that weaves together the pasts of these three unlikely companions and unexpectedly decides their fate” (Random House, Inc.)

Editor

Cannibals and Colonialism

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Savage Harvest: a tale of cannibals, colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s tragic quest for primitive art by Carl Hoffman has been getting a lot of media exposure.  It looks both fascinating and horrifying, and should appeal to fans of armchair travel,  true-life mysteries and stories of America’s financial aristocracy. (Find this book in our catalog).

“The mysterious disappearance of Michael Rockefeller in New Guinea in 1961 has kept the world and his powerful, influential family guessing for years. Now, Carl Hoffman uncovers startling new evidence that finally tells the full, astonishing story.

Despite exhaustive searches, no trace of Rockefeller was ever found. Soon after his disappearance, rumors surfaced that he’d been killed and ceremonially eaten by the local Asmat—a native tribe of warriors whose complex culture was built around sacred, reciprocal violence, head hunting, and ritual cannibalism. The Dutch government and the Rockefeller family denied the story, and Michael’s death was officially ruled a drowning. Yet doubts lingered. Sensational rumors and stories circulated, fueling speculation and intrigue for decades. The real story has long waited to be told—until now.

Retracing Rockefeller’s steps, award-winning journalist Carl Hoffman traveled to the jungles of New Guinea, immersing himself in a world of headhunters and cannibals, secret spirits and customs, and getting to know generations of Asmat. Through exhaustive archival research, he uncovered never-before-seen original documents and located witnesses willing to speak publically after fifty years.

In Savage Harvest he finally solves this decades-old mystery and illuminates a culture transformed by years of colonial rule, whose people continue to be shaped by ancient customs and lore. Combining history, art, colonialism, adventure, and ethnography, Savage Harvest is a mesmerizing whodunit, and a fascinating portrait of the clash between two civilizations that resulted in the death of one of America’s richest and most powerful scions.” (HarperCollins)

Editor

True Art Crimes

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Having very recently seen the movie The Monuments Men, which is based on a book by the same title by Robert M. Edsel and Brett Witter, I was reminded of other gripping books of true crime involving stolen art and other rare treasures.

Thieves of Book Row: New York’s most notorious rare book ring and the man who stopped itby Travis McDade. “No one had ever tried a caper like this before. The goods were kept in a secure room under constant scrutiny, deep inside a crowded building with guards at the exits. The team picked for the job included two old hands known only as Paul and Swede, but all depended on a fresh face, a kid from Pinetown, North Carolina. In the Depression, some fellows were willing to try anything–even a heist in the rare book room of the New York Public Library.

In Thieves of Book Row, Travis McDade tells the gripping tale of the worst book-theft ring in American history, and the intrepid detective who brought it down. Author of The Book Thief and a curator of rare books, McDade transforms painstaking research into a rich portrait of Manhattan’s Book Row in the 1920s and ’30s, where organized crime met America’s cultural treasures in dark and crowded shops along gritty Fourth Avenue. Dealers such as Harry Gold, a tough native of the Lower East Side, became experts in recognizing the value of books and recruiting a pool of thieves to steal them–many of them unemployed men who drifted up the Bowery or huddled around fires in Central Park’s shantytowns. When Paul and Swede brought a new recruit into his shop, Gold trained him for the biggest score yet: a first edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems. Gold’s recruit cased the rare-book room for weeks, searching for a weakness. When he found one, he struck, leading to a breathtaking game of wits between Gold and NYPL special investigator G. William Bergquist.

Both a fast-paced, true-life thriller, Thieves of Book Row provides a fascinating look at the history of crime and literary culture.” (Oxford University Press)

The Gardner Heist: a true story of the world’s largest unsolved art theftby Ulrich Boser. “Shortly after midnight on March 18, 1990, two men broke into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and committed the largest art heist in history. They stole a dozen masterpieces, including one Vermeer, three Rembrandts, and five Degas. But after thousands of leads, hundreds of interviews, and a $5-million reward, not a single painting has been recovered. Worth a total of $500 million, the missing masterpieces have become the Holy Grail of the art world and one of the nation’s most extraordinary unsolved mysteries.

Art detective Harold Smith worked on the theft for years, and after his death, reporter Ulrich Boser inherited his case files. Traveling deep into the art underworld, Boser explores Smith’s unfinished leads and comes across a remarkable cast of characters, including the brilliant rock ‘n’ roll art thief; the golden-boy gangster who professes his innocence in rhyming verse; the deadly mobster James “Whitey” Bulger; and the Boston heiress Isabella Stewart Gardner, who stipulated in her will that nothing should ever be changed in her museum, a provision followed so closely that the empty frames of the stolen works still hang on the walls. Boser eventually cracks one of the biggest mysteries of the case and uncovers the identities of the men who robbed the museum nearly two decades ago. A tale of art and greed, of obsession and loss, The Gardner Heist is as compelling as the stolen masterpieces themselves.  (HarperCollins).

Priceless: how I went undercover to rescue the world’s stolen treasures by Robert K. Whitman. “Robert K. Wittman, the founder of the FBI’s Art Crime Team, pulls back the curtain on his remarkable career, offering a real-life international thriller. The son of an antique dealer, Wittman built a twenty-year career going undercover, usually unarmed, to catch art thieves, scammers, and black market traders in Paris and Philadelphia, Rio and Santa Fe, Miami and Madrid. Wittman tells the stories behind his recoveries of priceless art and antiquities: the golden armor of an ancient Peruvian warrior king; the Rodin sculpture that inspired the Impressionist movement; the rare Civil War battle flag carried into battle by one of the nation’s first African-American regiments. The art thieves and scammers he caught run the gamut from rich to poor, smart to foolish, organized criminals to desperate loners. Wittman has saved hundreds of millions of dollars worth of art and antiquities, but he considers them all equally priceless. (From publisher description).

The Rescue Artist: a true story of art, thieves, and the hunt for a missing masterpiece by Edward Dolnick. “In the predawn hours of a gloomy February day in 1994, two thieves entered the National Gallery in Oslo and made off with one of the world’s most famous paintings, Edvard Munch’s Scream … Baffled and humiliated, the Norwegian police turned to the one man they believed could help: a half English, half American undercover cop named Charley Hill, the world’s greatest art detective. The Rescue Artist is a rollicking narrative that carries readers deep inside the art underworld–and introduces them to a large and colorful cast of titled aristocrats, intrepid investigators, and thick-necked thugs. But most compelling of all is Charley Hill himself, a complicated mix of brilliance, foolhardiness, and charm whose hunt for a purloined treasure would either cap an illustrious career or be the fiasco that would haunt him forever.” (From publisher description).

Editor

50th Anniversary of the British Invasion

Monday, January 27th, 2014

On February 9, 1964, The Beatles’ historic U.S. debut on The Ed Sullivan Show shook up the industry and started one of the most revolutionary eras in music. Browse below to find must-read books about the Fab Four.

Beatle Invasion by Bob Spitz (on order)

The Beatles by Hunter Davies (Find this book in our catalog).  “During 1967 and 1968 Hunter Davies spent eighteen months with the Beatles at the peak of their powers as they defined a generation and rewrote popular music. As their only authorized biographer, he had unparalleled access—not just to John, Paul, George, and Ringo but also to friends, family, and colleagues. Davies collected a wealth of intimate and revealing material that still makes this the classic Beatles book—the one all other biographers look to. He remained close with the band and had access to more information over the years. This edition brings the story up-to-date with new material on the Beatles’s solo careers and lives, as well as the stories of many other people who appear in the book. Drawing on new material from the author’s archives and from the Beatles themselves, including a newly discovered song lyric by George Harrison, this edition brings new insights to the Beatles legend.” – (Norton Publishing)

The Beatles are Coming!: the birth of Beatlemania in America by Bruce Spizer ; foreword by Walter Cronkite (Find this book in our catalog).

 

 

The Beatles are Here!: 50 years after the band arrived in America, writers and other fans remember  by Penelope Rowlands (Find this book in our catalog).  “The arrival of the Beatles was one of those unforgettable cultural touchstones. Through the voices of those who witnessed it or were swept up in it indirectly, The Beatles Are Here! explores the emotional impact—some might call it hysteria—of the Fab Four’s February 1964 dramatic landing on our shores. Contributors, including Lisa See, Gay Talese, Renée Fleming, Roy Blount, Jr., and many others, describe in essays and interviews how they were inspired by the Beatles.

This intimate and entertaining collection arose from writer Penelope Rowlands’s own Beatlemaniac phase: she was one of the screaming girls captured in an iconic photograph that has since been published around the world—and is displayed on the cover of this book. The stories of these girls, who found each other again almost 50 years later, are part of this volume as well. The Beatles Are Here! gets to the heart of why, half a century later, the Beatles still matter to us so deeply.” – (Workman Press.)

Can’t Buy Me Love: the Beatles, Britain, and America by Jonathan Gould (Find this book in our catalog).  “Nearly twenty years in the making, Can’t Buy Me Love is a masterful work of group biography, cultural history, and musical criticism. That the Beatles were an unprecedented phenomenon is a given. In Can’t Buy Me Love, Jonathan Gould seeks to explain why, placing the Fab Four in the broad and tumultuous panorama of their time and place, rooting their story in the social context that girded both their rise and their demise.

Beginning with their adolescence in Liverpool, Gould describes the seminal influences––from Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry to The Goon Show and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland––that shaped the Beatles both as individuals and as a group. In addition to chronicling their growth as singers, songwriters, and instrumentalists, he highlights the advances in recording technology that made their sound both possible and unique, as well as the developments in television and radio that lent an explosive force to their popular success. With a musician’s ear, Gould sensitively evokes the timeless appeal of the Lennon-McCartney collaboration and their emergence as one of the most creative and significant songwriting teams in history. And he sheds new light on the significance of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as rock’s first concept album, down to its memorable cover art.

Behind the scenes Gould explores the pivotal roles played by manager Brian Epstein and producer George Martin, credits the influence on the Beatles’ music of contemporaries like Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, and Ravi Shankar, and traces the gradual escalation of the fractious internal rivalries that led to the group’s breakup after their final masterpiece, Abbey Road. Most significantly, by chronicling their revolutionary impact on popular culture during the 1960s, Can’t Buy Me Love illuminates the Beatles as a charismatic phenomenon of international proportions, whose anarchic energy and unexpected import was derived from the historic shifts in fortune that transformed the relationship between Britain and America in the decades after World War II.

From the Beats in America and the Angry Young Men in England to the shadow of the Profumo Affair and JFK’s assassination, Gould captures the pulse of a time that made the Beatles possible—and even necessary. As seen through the prism of the Beatles and their music, an entire generation’s experience comes astonishingly to life. Beautifully written, consistently insightful, and utterly original, Can’t Buy Me Love is a landmark work about the Beatles, Britain, and America.” – (Random House, Inc.)

Editor

National Book Awards 2013 – Nonfiction

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

The National Book Awards winner this year for Nonfiction is:

George Packer, for The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (Find this book in our catalog).  This is what it says in our catalog:  “A riveting examination of a nation in crisis, from one of the finest political journalists of our generation.

American democracy is beset by a sense of crisis. Seismic shifts during a single generation have created a country of winners and losers, allowing unprecedented freedom while rending the social contract, driving the political system to the verge of breakdown, and setting citizens adrift to find new paths forward. In The Unwinding, George Packer, author of The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq, tells the story of the United States over the past three decades in an utterly original way, with his characteristically sharp eye for detail and gift for weaving together complex narratives.

The Unwinding journeys through the lives of several Americans, including Dean Price, the son of tobacco farmers, who becomes an evangelist for a new economy in the rural South; Tammy Thomas, a factory worker in the Rust Belt trying to survive the collapse of her city; Jeff Connaughton, a Washington insider oscillating between political idealism and the lure of organized money; and Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley billionaire who questions the Internet’s significance and arrives at a radical vision of the future. Packer interweaves these intimate stories with biographical sketches of the era’s leading public figures, from Newt Gingrich to Jay-Z, and collages made from newspaper headlines, advertising slogans, and song lyrics that capture the flow of events and their undercurrents.

The Unwinding portrays a superpower in danger of coming apart at the seams, its elites no longer elite, its institutions no longer working, its ordinary people left to improvise their own schemes for success and salvation. Packer’s novelistic and kaleidoscopic history of the new America is his most ambitious work to date.” (McMillan Palgrave)

Check our catalog for an author biography and for more notes and reviews.

Finalists:

Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin

Wendy Lower, Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields

Alan Taylor, The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832

Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief

Editor

Books in the News – Walk in Their Shoes

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Jim Ziolkowski, co-author of Walk in Their Shoes: Can One Person Change the World? (Find in our catalog) had appearances on Today and also on MSNBC’s the Cycle.

Catalog notes on this book:  “The powerful, personal story of Jim Ziolkowski, the man behind the organization buildOn–which turns inner city teens into community leaders at home and abroad–and his inspiring mission to change the world one community at a time.Jim Ziolkowski gave up his career in corporate finance to create buildOn, a service-oriented program that goes into high-risk areas around the world to work with students in their communities. Under Jim’s leadership, buildOn volunteers have contributed more than 850,000 hours of community service, and the organization has constructed more than 430 schools worldwide, from the South Bronx, to Detroit, Chicago, and Oakland, to Haiti, Senegal, Nicaragua, and Nepal.Walk in Their Shoes is packed with the ingredients of a powerful bestseller as it traces Jim’s story from his transformation from a thrill-seeking twenty-something backpacker, to a Harlem-based idealist trying to launch a not-for-profit organization, and finally to the head of buildOn.Ziolkowski compellingly chronicles his exciting story of worldwide travel and adventure, creating a moving portrait of the power of faith, teamwork, and the boundless potential of the human spirit. Blessed with relentless optimism and an unshakable faith, both of which have fortified his commitment to the poor and the underprivileged, Jim Ziolkowski’s inspirational memoir reveals that helping and empathizing with others can help–and heal–ourselves.”– Provided by publisher.

Editor