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  • Ross Johnson 6:00 pm on 2019/05/28 Permalink
    Tags: Biography, , ,   

    June’s Best Biographies & Memoirs 

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    Naturally Tan, by Tan France
    While retaining the sense of fun, the more recent Queer Eye series has done the original one better, broadening the horizons of its makeover subjects and wresting more than a few tears from what might otherwise be a fun, but surface-level reality show. Tan France is a big part of the remake’s success, with a background that inspired his brand of radical compassion: the youngest in his family, he grew up in a South Asian Muslim family in a white community in South Yorkshire, England. At a distance from his neighbors because of his heritage and from his own family due to his sexuality, he eventually learned how to love himself, a skill he now passes along via the show. His new memoir takes us from his childhood to the present day, and goes behind the scenes of the show—and it even includes some of his trademark fashion tips.

    The Kennedy Heirs: John, Caroline, and the New Generation – A Legacy of Triumph and Tragedy, by J. Randy Taraborrelli
    Across years, journalist and celebrity biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli has visited the stories of the Kennedy family from a variety of angles. Until now, however, his books have largely focused on the generation led by JFK, Robert, and Ted. His newest looks at those that followed: the children of the three prominent siblings, who faced triumphs and tragedies in equal measures. Based on hundreds of interviews as well as first-hand research, The Kennedy Heirs explores the lives of John Kennedy, Jr., groomed as the heir to the family legacy before his tragic death; lawyer and politician Caroline; and the other younger Kennedys, all who grew up under the guidance of the family’s still-indomitable matriarch, Ethel. It’s a fascinating look into the world of American royalty.

    Small Fry, by Lisa Brennan-Jobs
    You can imagine Lisa Brennan-Jobs’ memoir as a portrait of her life as the daughter of the late Apple CEO, Steve Jobs. And yes, that’s a big part of it, but she is also careful to craft a story of her own identity and coming-of-age. As a child, Lisa’s father was a largely mythical figure who wanted nothing to do with her or her mother, loudly denying his paternity even after a DNA test made the facts clear. Brennan-Jobs grew up under the cloud of that public rejection until, years later, her father reentered her life. Suddenly, she was ushered into a world of mansions and private schools, and struggled with the sense of whiplash. It’s a fascinating and heartbreaking journey, told with tremendous compassion and love by a writer with real literary chops.

    Inside the Five-Sided Box: Lessons from a Lifetime of Leadership in the Pentagon, by Ash Carter
    With a career in public policy spanning almost four decades, Ash Carter has as much insider knowledge as anyone about what goes on inside the Pentagon, the building in which he’s spent many of those years—including a stint as secretary of defense. His goal with this new memoir is to demystify the five-sided building that’s so integral to American government, and yet almost entirely a mystery to most of the American public. The building houses the world’s most complex information network, a massive research and development infrastructure, and a bureaucracy that implements policies with global consequences—it’s probably about time we learned more about what goes on behind those walls. This memoir promises to be a fascinating look inside.

    The Sixth Man: A Memoir, by Andre Iguodala
    Andre Iguodala is one of basketball’s most impressive players on one of its best teams: the Golden State Warriors, winners of three of the last four NBA championships. Over the course of his career, he’s earned respect for more than his athletics: successful tech investments and broad-ranging philanthropy have made him an icon off the court as well. In this book, Iguodala discusses all of that, and also returns to a topic that’s generated controversy for him in the past: the conflicts that come from having a professional league largely made up of African American male athletes who play on teams mostly coached and owned by white men. Taking us from his childhood in Illinois dreaming of being the next Jordan to the top off the game, Iguodala shares insights into the conflicts that have driven him on the court, in business, and in his personal life.

    Whose story inspires you?

    The post June’s Best Biographies & Memoirs appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ross Johnson 5:00 pm on 2019/04/29 Permalink
    Tags: Biography, , ,   

    May’s Best Biographies & Memoirs 

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    Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations, by William H. McRaven
    This retired Navy admiral’s earliest memories place him at American Officers’ Club in France among Allied officers recounting their adventures in WWII. The son of a career Air Force officer, William McRaven followed his father into the United States military and throughout his career was involved in some of the highest profile moments in modern military history, including the capture of Saddam Hussein, the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips, and the raid that ended with the death of Osama bin Laden. The Navy SEAL and Special Operations Forces commander’s memoir is full of fascinating stories.

    Howard Stern Comes Again, by Howard Stern
    At some point, the king of shock jocks became true radio royalty with a career spanning over four decades and success across multiple mediums. His first book became a hit movie, and his second was also a bestseller—but that was over 20 years ago, and much has changed in the life of Howard Stern since, from his departure from terrestrial radio, to his mega-bucks deal with SiriusXM, to shakeups in his personal life. There’s no doubt that he has plenty of new stories to tell about his life, his celebrity encounters, and his perspective on the ever-changing realities of the radio business.

    Every Man a Hero: A Memoir of D-Day, the First Wave at Omaha Beach, and a World at War, by Ray Lambert and Jim DeFelice
    The number of individuals who can recount firsthand their experiences during World War II is sadly dwindling, but that doesn’t mean there are no new stories left to tell. Ninety-eight-year-old Ray Lambert was a combat medic and among the first wave of Allied soldiers to land at Omaha Beach on D-Day. Lambert grew up on a farm in Alabama during the Great Depression before he and his brother enlisted for service that took them to some of the war’s most important and harrowing battles. Timed for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landing, Lambert’s memoir is a powerful addition to the library of works about the greatest and most terrible conflict in history.

    All the Way: Football, Fame, and Redemption (B&N Exclusive Edition), by Joe Namath with Don Yaeger
    Fifty years after Namath lead the New York Jets to a Super Bowl victory against the Baltimore Colts, the icon tells the story of his journey from small-town Pennsylvania kid to sports legend. Across half a century, Namath spent time at the height of celebrity, but also dealt with debilitating injuries that saw him addicted to painkillers and alcohol. Here, he reveals that the charmed life he appeared to lead masked real challenges. It’s a story of incredible triumphs, incredible lows, and, ultimately, redemption.

    Where the Light Enters: Building a Family, Discovering Myself, by Jill Biden
    The 23-year-old Jill Jacobs was a divorced teacher coming off of a rebellious childhood when she first met Joe Biden, a father of two and a widower. Though the two hit it off immediately, she was reluctant to commit to the boisterous extended Biden family, as well as to take on the role of surrogate mother for Joe’s children. Of course, we know the relationship worked—the two married, and Jill continued her teaching career in some form right up until the 2008 presidential election that saw her take on the role of second lady. With a new election cycle heating up, her name is now back in the headlines, and in this memoir of the life of a family in the spotlight.

    Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, by Casey Cep
    In the 1970s, one Reverend Willie Maxwell was accused of killing five of his family members for insurance money. After he had given the eulogy for the stepdaughter he’d allegedly murdered, he himself was shot by another relative. The same lawyer who defended the Reverend secured an acquittal for the vigilante. No one was more intrigued by the sordid story than Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, who spent years working on a never-published true crime work to rival that of her friend Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. In this fascinating new book, Casey Cep explores both the original crime and Lee’s obsessive, ultimately futile work to craft it into a powerful work of non-fiction.

    Anthony Bourdain Remembered
    Bourdain’s death last year brought about an outpouring of love and affection from his most devoted fans, not to mention the casual viewers of his travel and food programs. If the tributes shared a theme, it was honoring the late master chef’s belief that the world would be a better place if we all spent more time walking in the shoes of others, and maybe trying a little of their food. It’s a valuable message, and this reminiscence celebrates Bourdain’s life with anecdotes from fans, friends, chefs, and luminaries like Barack Obama, Ken Burns, and Questlove.

    Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination, by Brian Jay Jones
    Everyone knows Dr. Seuss, but Theodor Geisel is another matter entirely. The author, cartoonist, and animator produced some of the most popular and bestselling children’s books of all time, but began his career as a left-leaning political cartoonist during World War II, at first decrying non-interventionists and then producing posters and films to benefit the war effort directly.  The self-described subversive never lost his strong point of view, creating works for kids that eschewed traditional morals but which still carried messages. It worked, and this book proves his life was as fascinating and unique as his creations.

    Whose story inspires you?

    The post May’s Best Biographies & Memoirs appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ross Johnson 6:00 pm on 2019/04/01 Permalink
    Tags: Biography, , , ,   

    April’s Best Biographies & Memoirs 

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    The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynastyby Susan Page
    Even before publication, this memoir of the former first lady made headlines for its candid observations about the current state of presidential politics, but journalist Page covers the entirety of Bush’s life, informed by extensive research, personal diaries, and interviews with family, friends, and Mrs. Bush herself during the last six months of her life. Sometimes controversial and frequently underestimated, Barbara Bush molded herself into the powerful head of a family that produced two United States presidents while navigating her role as a prominent woman across generations of change.

    Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward, by Valerie Jarrett
    Jarrett is best known as the ultimate insider: the trusted aid and confidante to both of the Obamas, and the one consistent voice during all of their years in the White House. Of course, there’s much more to the story: born in Iran to parents who sought better opportunities there than were to be found in segregated America, she grew up in Chicago of the 1960s before becoming a corporate lawyer while a black single mother during a time when those roles carried even greater challenges. She was a key figure in in the administration of Harold Wilson, Chicago’s first black mayor, but when she interviewed young lawyer Michelle Robinson for a city job in 1991, a new phase of her life and career began.

    Life Will Be the Death of Me. . . and you too!, by Chelsea Handler
    Part confessional, part journey of self-discovery, Handler’s latest memoir describes a year in her life. Following the tumult of the 2016 presidential election, the comedian, writer, and television host made a commitment to confront her past and look her choices square in the face, embarking on a year of change, growth, and self-sufficiency through therapy, political activism, and picking up her own dog’s poo. It’s a funny and insightful journey, offering a roadmap to those of us looking to keep a smile on our faces as we chart new paths in life.

    Backstage Pass, by Paul Stanley
    It’s entirely possible we’ll never again see a band with the scope, longevity, and popularity of KISS, and Starchild Paul Stanley is a big part of the reason. It’s one thing to rock ‘n’ roll all night and party every day, but Stanley has also been a canny marketer and a smart businessman, helping to bring a behind-the-scenes discipline to the glam band that’s allowed it to thrive for nearly 50 years. Here, Stanley shares lessons from a life in rock.

    Jimmy Page: The Definitive Biography, by Chris Salewicz
    Jimmy Page is rock royalty many times over, but the guitarist has remained an elusive figure during his six decades in the business, only rarely giving interviews or discussing his personal life. Salewicz takes on the task of crafting the definitive biography of a fascinating figure, a key part of the history of rock whose longstanding interest in the occult has only burnished his mysterious reputation. Relying on original research as well as years’ worth of interviews with Page himself, this one is destined to be a legendary rock biography.

    Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir, by Ruth Reichl
    Chef, food writer, and producer of Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie on PBS, Reichl had an impressive career well before she was offered the top job at America’s oldest food and wine magazine, Gourmet. Having no experience of management and no interest in corporate politics, she said no before she said yes, spending a decade as editor-in-chief at the journal during a time when restaurants and foodie culture were on the rise, but print media was just beginning a steep decline. Her latest memoir is the story of those years, and includes some of the recipes and examples of the food writing for which she’s so well loved.

    Shotgun Angels: My Story of Broken Roads and Unshakeable Hope, by Jay DeMarcus with Timothy D. Willard
    A part of the trio that makes up one of the most popular pop country groups of the past two decades, Rascal Flatts’ Jay DeMarcus takes fans backstage for the story of his early years in Ohio, his discovery of music, and the rise of one of the biggest bands in the world. Describing his surprises and setbacks with humor and heart, DeMarcus details a journey took him from anonymity in in Columbus, Ohio to fame and fortune in Nashville and beyond.

    Finding Your Harmony: Dream Big, Have Faith, and Achieve More Than You Can Imagine, by Ally Brooke
    After six years as the voice of Fifth Harmony, Mexican-American singer Ally Brooke recently embarked on a solo career that’s already set to rival the success of the multi-platinum selling group that got its start on American X-Factor. Detailing her childhood in San Antonio and her group’s meteoric rise, Brooke talks about the triumphs and challenges of being a young star, offering advice and life lessons for others with big dreams.

    Tiger Woods, by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian
    We thought we knew Tiger Woods—one of the world’s most famous and talented athletes—until a 2009 car crash exposed serial infidelities and caused his complicated personal life to bleed over into his professional career. Suddenly, the public image of golf’s shining star became a lot more complicated. Relying on years of reporting and new interviews with hundreds of people in Woods’ sphere, Benedict and Keteyian have crafted a portrait of the brilliant athlete that, for the first time, creates a 360-degree portrait of a complex figure.

    Whose story inspires you?

    The post April’s Best Biographies & Memoirs appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ross Johnson 3:00 pm on 2019/03/04 Permalink
    Tags: Biography, , ,   

    March’s Best Biographies & Memoirs 

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    First: Sandra Day O’Connor, by Evan Thomas
    While current Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been in the zeitgeist for a while now, it’s worth remembering the pioneering efforts of Sandra Day O’Connor, who paved the way for RBG, serving as the court’s first female justice (not quite two centuries following the establishment of the institution). Her service came at the mid-point of a remarkable career that saw her go from a quiet life on a cattle ranch to Stanford Law at a time when women lawyers were still rare. She became the majority leader of the Arizona state senate and then a judge before joining the Supreme Court for several incredibly consequential decades in American jurisprudence and politics. In crafting this definitive biography, Thomas has made use of exclusive interviews and gained access to the Justice’s archives for the first time.

    Madame Fourcade’s Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler, by Lynne Olson
    Marie-Madeleine Fourcade’s story is one of the great untold stories of World War II. Alliance was the code name for a vast intelligence organization in occupied France, a 3,000-member strong spy network that survived longer and provided more intelligence than any other, including maps crucial to the British and American commanders planning D-Day. It was all lead by “Hedgehog,” a mother of two who lived on the run and escaped Nazi capture twice. Lynne Olson tells the story of an incredible woman’s valor during her country’s darkest days.

    Gray Day: My Undercover Mission to Expose America’s First Cyber Spy, by Eric O’Neill
    Eric O’Neill was only 26 when he was tasked with collecting evidence on his boss, a fellow FBI agents named Robert Hanssen. Short-tempered and with a fondness for handguns, Hanssen spied for the Soviet Union and then for Russia for over two decades, staying ahead of spy hunters and cybersecurity experts in the then-nascent field. O’Neill’s story is both intensely personal and broadly relevant: a saga of cyber-spycraft with lessons far too relevant to America’s present-day efforts to stay ahead of “the competition.”

    Mostly Sunny: How I Learned to Keep Smiling Through the Rainiest Days, by Janice Dean
    For notoriously upbeat Fox & Friends meteorologist Janice Dean, there’s a silver lining to be found in every cloud. Finding it has not always been easy, however—as she reveals in her honest new memoir. A multiple sclerosis diagnosis at the age of 37 had her believing that her life was over; a bad reaction to a cosmetic procedure, which she felt was necessary due to the relentless pressure she felt as a woman in the entertainment industry, could have ended her career altogether. The stories she tells in this new memoir—some upbeat, some funny, and some heartbreaking—have informed her life and career.

    Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope, by Karamo Brown
    Queer Eye‘s culture expert Karamo Brown came to the role amid a fascinating life story: the child of Jamaican and Cuban parents who grew up in the American south before attending the historically black university of Florida A&M, he trained as asocial worker and psychotherapist even as he gained fame as a reality TV star. He’s also a gay single dad who’s dealt with emotional abuse and drug addiction. All of that experience certainly brings an expansive definition of “culture” to his work on the popular Netflix series. In this new memoir, he reflects upon all of it—the lessons he’s learned and the ones he hopes to pass on.

    Whose story inspires you?

    The post March’s Best Biographies & Memoirs appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ross Johnson 6:00 pm on 2019/02/27 Permalink
    Tags: , Biography, ,   

    Expand Your Mind with Great History & Biography Book Haul Picks 

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    Like Faulkner said, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” It’s impossible to fully understand our world without revisiting our history from time to time, and there are some brilliant recent works that allow for just that. Whether it’s for the thrill of knowledge or for the pleasure of diving into our human story, these books open a window on the past—and you can nab them for 50 percent off during Barnes & Noble’s Book Haul Blowout, from February 27 to March 4.

    Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man, by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic
    There were two disasters involved in the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in 1945. The first was the attack on the ship itself; it was fired upon and sunk by a Japanese submarine, ending the lives of many of the crew. The second was in the Navy’s response: a flawed and nearly incompetent recovery operation that saw 600 surviving sailors lost as they drifted, waiting for rescue, for four days. Looking for a scapegoat, the Navy court-martialed the ship’s captain. Though Captain Charles McVay III was eventually exonerated, he’d already taken his own life. This new book finally sets the record straight, telling the whole grim story of the Indianapolis and her crew.

    Killing the SS: The Hunt for the Worst War Criminals in Historyby Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
    No war is ever really over just because the fighting stops, and that’s especially true for World War II, whose horrors reached beyond any armistice. Many of those responsible for genocide fled, some evading capture with the help of sophisticated global networks of supporters who protected them. In the latest installment of the popular Killing series, O’Reilly and Dugard tell the story of the individuals and organizations who dedicated their lives to hunting down some of the most notorious criminals of the twentieth century—and bringing them to justice.

    Napoleon: A Life, by Adam Zamoysk
    The legendarily (if not actually) short-statured man cast a very long shadow over European history, and over the field of written biography itself: his story has been told many times, from many different points of view. Adam Zamoski’s new book charts a middle path, neither lionizing the great military commander nor demonizing the conqueror. Placing Napoleon in the context of his time, Zamoski opens a window on a very human figure—sometimes brave and brilliant, sometimes cruel and callow.

    When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt, by Kara Cooney
    The ancient world wasn’t always particularly hospitable to the idea of female leadership (imagine that?), but Egypt had a much better track record than our friends in Greece or Rome. Even if women rulers were still relatively rare, the ones that did hold the powers of pharaoh were among the most successful in the empire’s long history. Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra were especially consequential figures, but they weren’t alone. Cooney explores the dynamics that allowed for these women’s ascendance, and considers the individual qualities that caused them to push through a male power structure to command from the top.

    Lincoln’s Last Trial: The Murder Case That Propelled Him to the Presidencyby Dan Abrams and David Fisher
    Lincoln’s life didn’t begin when he stepped into the White House, though you might be forgiven for thinking so, given that there’s so little discussion in popular culture of his life prior to the presidency. Enter this new work exploring a very consequential period in Honest Abe’s pre-political career. In 1859, a man named “Peachy” Quinn Harrison stabbed Greek Crafton to death following an assault. Using all of his skills, lawyer Lincoln mounted a stirring and legally sound defense of Harrison that lead to an acquittal. To Abrams’ mind, this was the event that provided the final momentum that lead Lincoln to a grand destiny.

    Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975, by Max Hastings
    British writer Hastings turns an objective outsider’s eye on America’s most divisive war, tracing the events of the conflict in Vietnam from its beginnings in the 1950s to its ignominious end two decades later. Along the way he explodes some persistent myths about the war and offers clear-eyed assessments of both the mistakes that allowed it to drag on, and the men who made them—including president Richard Nixon and his national security advisor (and future secretary of state) Henry Kissinger. Where many studies of the War in Vietnam are necessarily narrow in scope, Hastings looks from a broader perspective, without sacrificing context..

    Eliza Hamilton: The Extraordinary Life and Times of the Wife of Alexander Hamilton, by Tilar J. Mazzeo
    We always talk about founding fathers, but it’s important to remember the important behind-the-scenes roles played by Revolutionary-era women, as partners and as individuals. Though their names weren’t on the noteworthy documents of the day, the lives of many women who lived during these turbulent times are just as interesting as those of their more famous husbands. Eliza Hamilton’s name has become widely known thanks to her prominent role in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton, but the show doesn’t tell her full story: born into a pioneer family, she became a mother and then a widow before remaking herself as one of the nation’s most prominent early philanthropists.

    The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters: The Tragic and Glamorous Lives of Jackie and Lee, by Sam Kashner, Nancy Schoenberger
    Decades after her death, Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis continues to fascinate, but the story of the Bouvier family as a whole is as interesting as that of the more storied Kennedys. Drawing on new interviews with Jackie’s sister Lee Radziwill, Kashner and Schoenberger chronicle the close, complicated, and sometimes rocky legacy of the glamorous socialite siblings. There’s added poignance to the story, given Radziwill’s recent passing, but it’s wonderful that she was able to tell her version of the Bouvier story before she left us.

    Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey, by Mark Dery
    Edward Gorey’s art—works like “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” and “The Doubtful Guest”—has influenced our culture in any number of ways; Tim Burton, Neil Gaiman, and Lemony Snicket have certainly all benefitted from his aesthetic. Yet the creator himself has remained something of a mystery. He produced over a hundred books in his own name, illustrating many more, but was reclusive, preferring the company of his enormous book collection (and several cats). Newly uncovered correspondence and interviews with Gorey’s friends and associates have allowed Very to, for the first time, draw back the curtain on this artistic powerhouse.

    The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine, by Lindsey Fitzharris
    In the early 19th century, medicine had advanced in innumerable ways, but a key piece was still missing. Surgeries and treatments of all kinds could solve all manner of ailments and maladies, but patients were still just as likely to die in the aftermath of a successful surgery as they were in a failed one. Here, Fitzharris revisits the grimy and dangerous world of Victorian medicine, and introduces the Quaker surgeon who developed the idea that fighting germs was the true key to saving lives, post-op. This is the story of his battle against remarkable skepticism to spread his strangely revolutionary notion.

    Find out more about the B&N Book Haul, now through March 4.

    The post Expand Your Mind with Great History & Biography Book Haul Picks appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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