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  • 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.

     
  • Ross Johnson 5:00 pm on 2019/01/31 Permalink
    Tags: Biography, ,   

    February’s Best Biographies & Memoirs 


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    Wild Bill: The True Story of the American Frontier’s First Gunfighter, by Tom Clavin
    Is there anyone more closely associated with the mythology of American westward expansion than “Wild Bill” Hickok? Even during his lifetime, fiction and legend overshadowed fact, but this painstakingly researched biography sets the record straight, and the results are at least as interesting as the sensational portrait that developed following a deadly quick-draw duel (the first of its kind) with a man named Davis Tutt—over a watch, of all things. Over his short life, Hickock took on dozens of different roles, and rubbed shoulders with many of the era’s folk heroes. Clavin’s exploration of the reality behind the myth is both enlightening and wildly entertaining.

    Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service (B&N Exclusive Edition), by Gary Sinise with Marcus Brotherton
    Playing the disabled Lieutenant Dan character in the film adaptation of the novel Forrest Gump changed Sinise’s life forever: embraced by the military for his sensitive portrayal, he made a commitment to support active-duty servicemembers and veterans that became a calling—and, following the attacks of September 11, 2001, began to overshadow acting as his life’s mission. From his stage, film, and TV career through his work in entertaining and fundraising for veterans, Sinise’s tells the story of his life and his passion for service. The exclusive B&N edition features a letter from the author and a series of postcards.

    I.M.: A Memoir, by Isaac Mizrahi
    Celebrity designer Isaac Mizrahi grew up gay in a Syrian Orthodox Jewish family before he became a performer, a talk-show host, and a fashion icon. Throughout his life, he has moved through all of these identities and more, and walked in lofty celebrity circles that have included the likes of Richard Avedon, Audrey Hepburn, and Oprah Winfrey. This new memoir chronicles the highs and lows of his fascinating life.

    Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah
    Now in paperback: When The Daily Show host Trevor Noah was born in apartheid South Africa, his existence was literally a crime: the union of his white father and black Xhosa mother would have, had it been discovered, been punishable by five years in prison. As a result, Noah was hidden away for much of his young life, before liberation saw his mother embark with him on an adventurous existence to try to make up for the years of privation. It would be a fascinating story even if he hadn’t gone on to take over as host of the venerable political comedy show. Noah’s anecdotes and stories covering the breadth of his life take on extra weight, given its unlikely trajectory.

    The Perfect Predator: A Scientist’s Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug: A Memoir, by Steffanie Strathdee and Thomas Patterson, with Teresa Barker
    This memoir is extraordinarily unique–a personal story of epidemiology, a medical mystery involving a scientist’s effort to save her husband. While visiting Egypt, Tom Patterson was overcome by one of the most dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria known. Desperate to save his life, epidemiologist Steffanie Strathdee came upon a long out-of-favor treatment: phage therapy, or the introduction of a virus in an attempt to overpower a bacterial infection. The resulting story is the stuff of a nail-biting medical thriller, yet the resurrection of a forgotten treatment might have implications that extend far beyond the fate of one couple.

    Whose story inspires you?

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

     
  • Ross Johnson 5:00 pm on 2019/01/02 Permalink
    Tags: Biography, gabrielle union, kamala harris,   

    The Best Biographies & Memoirs of January 2019 


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    Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics, by Chris Christie
    Whatever your thoughts on our current political moment, it’s going to be a goldmine for saucy tell-alls. Here, former New Jersey governor and Trump insider tells his side of the story on his time in charge of the Garden State, Bridgegate, and his work on long-time friend Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. After navigating the minefield of conflicting personalities and agendas within Trump Tower (and nearly becoming the running mate), Christie found himself on the outside looking in within days of Trump’s surprise victory. The first draft of history is always the juiciest.

    The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, by Kamala Harris
    It’s an impressive life story: the daughter of an economist from Jamaica and an Indian cancer researcher became the chief law enforcement officer of California before becoming a United States Senator already shortlisted for a potential 2020 presidential run. Kamala Harris’s memoir isn’t a straight biography; instead, it distills her life and experience into a frank conversation about her data-driven approach to addressing the myriad problems facing Americans in the 21st century.

    We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True, by Gabrielle Union
    Gabrielle Union tells her story with wit and sensitivity, a tale that includes her struggles as one of a few black students in a predominantly white high school, a devastating rape at gunpoint that almost broke her, and her recovery and pursuit of a high-octane Hollywood career. The actress addresses topics like teen sexuality and the challenge of raising black kids in a culture often perceived as steeped in racism with disarming humor and perceptive insights, marking this as much more than the typical Hollywood vanity memoir. Working without much of a filter, Union comes across as a nuanced survivor who has managed to keep both her sense of humor and her ability to love intact despite experiences that could break anyone.

    A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming, by Kerri Rawson
    It’s an unbelievable scenario that most of us will, fortunately, never face: Kerri Rawson’s loving father, who had also been a seemingly good husband, a Boy Scout leader, and church president, was revealed in 2005 to be the BTK killer, having committed a series of brutal murders over the course of three decades—or Kerri’s her entire life. Rawson shares her story here, confronting a past that no longer makes sense, and an uncertain future.

    Breaking and Entering: The Extraordinary Story of a Hacker Called “Alien”, by Jeremy N. Smith
    Smith takes the story of high-end hacker Elizabeth Tessman and shapes it into a character piece, bringing a novelistic flair to cybersecurity. “Alien” began her career as an MIT undergrad breaking into off-limits areas of campus before running afoul of the law. She later joined a cybersecurity firm that tested its clients’ security using every means imaginable, whether that meant exploiting coding flaws or putting on disguises and sneaking in. Her story puts a human face on the sometimes thrilling, often alarming world of cyber-security.

    Whose story inspires you?

    The post The Best Biographies & Memoirs of January 2019 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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