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  • Jeff Somers 5:00 pm on 2018/04/02 Permalink
    Tags: , bnstorefront-history,   

    The Best New History Books of April 2018 

    The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America, by Timothy Snyder
    Snyder offers a sobering look at the rise of authoritarian leaders abroad as well as in our own country, tracing the origins of Vladimir Putin’s political philosophy to an early-20th century Russian political thinker who predicted fascism as the future of government all over the world and then tracing the parallels between Putin’s rise to power and Donald Trump’s. Snyder takes the reader through recent events like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the downing of a Malaysian passenger jet and shows how they presaged the election meddling in the 2016 election and the actions of the current president. Alarming and insightful, Snyder’s analysis of how “alternative facts” and fake news have helped Putin solidify his hold on power will be chilling.

    Blood Moon: An American Epic of War and Splendor in the Cherokee Nation, by John Sedgwick
    The story of Native Americans in this country is as varied as the number of different tribes and nations, each with its own history and cast of characters as varied and complex as any country. Sedgwick explores the story of the Cherokee, once one of the most stable and advanced of all the tribes, and the two men who defined it in its final years. He Who Walks on Mountains, a.k.a. The Ridge, and John Ross, half-Cherokee, half-Scottish, were once united in their leadership of the Cherokee Nation. But when gold was discovered in Georgia and the Cherokee were ordered to evacuate (leading to the Trail of Tears) the two men fell on opposite sides of the issue, with Ross determined to fight and The Ridge determined to get the best deal out of what he viewed as the inevitable. The two men found themselves fighting on opposite sides during the Civil War, and Sedgwick finds the humanity behind the history in this dramatic tale.

    Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling, by Amy Chozick
    For many, Hillary Clinton is divisive—but for many women she’s also a symbol, and never more so then when she failed to crack the glass ceiling and become the first woman president. Chozick smartly interpolates her journalism with her own personal story, offering a bracingly intimate view of Hillary’s campaign from the view of someone who was in the room each step of the way, combined with her own response to Hillary’s near-miss. Chozick faces the decisions that only women have to face—decisions regarding starting a family, freezing her eggs, and how any number of personal decisions will affect her career in ways men simply don’t have to consider—and explores how Clinton handled similar dilemmas as she rose to the top tier of politicians in this country. There’s little doubt that the 2016 campaign will be one of the most-analyzed in history, and Chozick gets out in front with a perspective that’s sorely needed in today’s world.

    God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State, by Lawrence Wright
    Wright, a Texas resident for many years, explores the fascinating contradictions and complexities of the Lone Star state in this complex and challenging book. Texas has had a huge influence on the rest of the country, providing several modern presidents, and remains a state that values smaller government and individual freedoms. The result is a part of the country often considered a conservative bastion while also being a place where the weirdness of Austin can thrive, a state that is often surprisingly liberal despite its deep red reputation. As someone who live sin and has clear affection for Texas, Wright doesn’t shy away from what he sees as its flaws, but the book serves to make the appeal and importance of this state clear.

    President Carter: The White House Years, by Stuart E. Eizenstat
    Elected in the wake of Watergate, Jimmy Carter was a fascinating choice for president, a man who disdained politics and who refused to play the game as he saw it. His administration will be one of the most-studied in years to come as he’s reassessed, his surprising number of positive accomplishments separated from the unmitigated failures of the Iran hostage crisis and his economic policies. Eizenstat, who served as one of Carter’s chief advisors, doesn’t simply rely on his own memory to offer this detailed accounting of the Carter presidency. He also conducts detailed interviews, deep research, and offers an honest assessment of the mistakes Carter made and his failings as a leader. Carter may never be known as one of the most successful presidents, but Eizenstat makes the argument that he was more effective than many remember, and that his time in the White House was more influential than suspected.

    Rocket Men, by Robert Kurson

    In 1961, President Kennedy pledged that America would send astronauts to the moon, kicking off the Space Race of the 1960s. By 1968, however, America was seen to be lagging far behind the Soviet Union, which announced a moon flyby that year. NASA quickly altered the mission for Apollo 8 and declared it would orbit the moon by end of the year, sending the agency into overdrive as it prepared. Kurson does more than just recount then facts of the remarkable effort that resulted in Apollo 8’s journey, he also manages to convey the giddy excitement and unsettling social change that surrounded and in part fueled the mission. As a reminder that this country once looked to the stars with excitement and a sense of infinite possibility, the book is a jolt of excitement that doubles as a detailed history of one of mankind’s greatest achievements.

    Hunting El Chapo, by Andrew Hogan and Douglas Century
    Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán-Loera—better known as El Chapo—was one of the richest and most dangerous criminals in the world. Andrew Hogan was a green DEA agent assigned to Arizona. What unfolds between them is like a classic western, paralleling classic stories of dogged law enforcement like Eliot Ness and Wyatt Earp, as Hogan spends years of his life tracking and building a case against El Chapo, culminating in an ambitious plot to infiltrate the criminal’s empire and apprehend him despite his money, power, and the myth that surrounded him. The end result is the story of one of the most complicated and thrilling takedowns in the history of law enforcement.

    Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann
    Considering how important they were in shaping the modern age, the Osage Indian murders of the 1920s are remarkably little-known today. When the Nation became incredibly wealthy after oil was discovered on their land, more than 20 of its members of were murdered between 1921 and 1926. As public outrage grew, the federal government was pressured into putting the obscure Bureau of Investigation, led by a young Herbert Hoover, in charge of the case. Hoover used the notoriety of these awful crimes to establish what would soon be known as the FBI as the nation’s preeminent investigative body, and himself as its all-powerful chief. Grann, of The Lost City of Z fame, does a marvelous job catching you up on vital history that’s been nearly forgotten.

    The American Spirit, by David McCullough
    McCullough is one of the most celebrated historians in American history. He has written absorbing accounts of the Wright Brothers, John Adams, and the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge—winning two Pulitzer Prizes and National Book Awards along the way. A thinker like that naturally makes a lot of speeches in front of a lot of audiences, and he compiles here some of his best—speeches made before Congress, before academic audiences, before groups of fellow historians. This is stirring stuff, the sort of of clear-eyed, patriotic, smart rhetoric we need more of in these divisive and confusing times. McCullough brings a calm authority to his words, equal parts comforting and energizing. It is an ideal book to read if your faith in our institutions is fading.

    The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior, by Robert O’Neill
    History by scholars is one thing, but history written by the people who make is something else—something more visceral and exciting. O’Neill, who served as a Navy SEAL for 16 years, tells his stories, including his participation in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates. O’Neill offers a glimpse of his childhood, details the difficult training he underwent for the SEALS, and let’s you follow along as he and his fellow soldiers clear buildings one door at a time in Afghanistan. O’Neill doesn’t sugarcoat or bend the facts, and he tackles the backlash he received when he was seen by his peers as profiting from his service. In the end, though, we need books like this so we know the truth behind the headlines.

    The post The Best New History Books of April 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ross Johnson 2:00 pm on 2018/04/02 Permalink
    Tags: , bnstorefront-history,   

    The Best Biographies & Memoirs of April 2018 

    The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table, by Rick Bragg
    Pulitzer Prize-winner Rick Bragg combines a love of cooking with the history of his family and of a region for this memoir/cookbook. Focusing on his mother’s recipes, never before recorded, he tells the stories behind each dish and of the family traditions that accompanied meals passed down in his family since before the Civil War. Alabama and family history aside, the book contains recipes for southern classics like corn pudding, redeye gravy, pinto beans and hambone, stewed cabbage, short ribs, and more.

    My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family, and Food, by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich
    Celebrity chef, restauranteur, and cookbook author Bastianich grew up in Pula under Tito’s regime in Yugoslavia. Lidia’s family ultimately was forced to flee to a refugee camp in Italy before being granted visas to to the United States.  The beloved TV star tells the story of her life, from learning Italian cooking at her grandmother’s knee, to the family’s the flight to America, to her teenage years spent working in restaurants, and the great success that she’s achieved in the years since.

    The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery, by Barbara K. Lipska and Elaine McArdle
    Barbara Lipska found herself at the beginning of a harrowing, but remarkable journey in early 2015: the renowned expert on the neuroscience of mental illness was herself diagnosed with melanoma that had spread to her brain. Short months later, she developed symptoms of dementia and schizophrenia that resulted from the shutdown of parts of her frontal lobe. She found herself descending into madness—but fortunately, a course of immunotherapy worked, and restored her physical and mental health. Not only that, but the neuroscientist remembers every detail of her ordeal. Her memoir of the experience provides extraordinary insight into the working of the human brain, told as it is by an expert who came back from the brink.

    Eunice: The Kennedy Who Changed the World, by Eileen McNamara
    While the Kennedy boys were being groomed for political power, Joe Kennedy’s daughter Eunice was pursuing a Stanford education as a preliminary to a lifetime of work with the disabled. For this thoroughly researched biography, Pulitzer Prize-winner Eileen McNamara gained access to never-before-seen private documents from the life of the formidable, cigar-smoking founder of what became the Special Olympics. She makes a very convincing case that it’s wasn’t just the Kennedy men who changed America.

    The Geraldo Show: A Memoir, by Geraldo Rivera
    Whatever your feelings about this news personality and talk show host, there’s no question his long career in the public eye has been quite the wild trip, from his early days as a lawyer and promising young reporter, to the guy who opened Al Capone’s vault, to talk show host and Fox News commentator. He’s been on the scene for some of the biggest news moments of the past five decades and has met many of modern history’s heavy hitters. He’s got plenty of stories to tell in his first memoir since 1992.

    Every Day I’m Hustling, by Vivica A. Fox
    During her 30 years in showbiz, Fox has learned plenty, and she’s ready to share. According to the actress, you never wait for the call. You go out and make life happen. Including stories and anecdotes from her own life and career in movies like Kill Bill and shows like Empire, Fox ‘s memoir offers success strategies for business and love, and even tips about looking good after 50.

    True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness: A Feminist Coming of Age, by Christine Lahti
    She’s won almost every major showbiz award over the course of her decades in the business, and has been an activist and blogger. This collection of personal essays focus on three periods in her life: her childhood, her early days as an actress, and the realities of life as a middle-aged woman in Hollywood today. The stories range from funny and self-deprecating to personally painful, but she’s always honest about her achievements and tragedies.

    The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After, by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil
    At the age of 15, Clementine and her sister fled the Rwandan massacre. Over the next six years, they moved through seven different countries before gaining refugee status in the United States. The two sisters came to live very different lives as their paths diverged in Chicago: one a struggling single mother, the other taken in by a generous and loving family who supported her through Yale. Still, both carried the scars of years of inhumanity. Clementine Wamariya tells a story that’s heartbreaking but, ultimately, one of hope and of the power to transcend even the most horrific events.

    Hang Time: My Life in Basketball, by Elgin Baylor and Alan Eisenstock
    Baylor’s long career spans years of incredible change for the NBA and America itself. In 1958 he became one of the very first black superstars of the game, and receives credit for saving the (then) Minneapolis Lakers from extinction while simultaneously serving as an Army Reservist. Fourteen exceptional years later, he retired from playing and went onto a decades-long career as a coach and executive. Throughout, he was a witness to and agent of change, fighting to break down color barriers as a player and manager.

    American Princess: The Love Story of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, by Leslie Carroll
    Carroll has an extensive bibliography when it comes to works of historical non-fiction (and fiction, as well) centered around the loves, marriages, and affairs of European royals. With the story of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and a relationship that would have been scandalous not so long ago, she’s taking on a rather more contemporary courtship. Grounding the story in the history of royal marriages that broke rules, Carroll dives into the story of the couple, as well as into the impressive background of Markle herself.

    Whose story intrigues and inspires you?

    The post The Best Biographies & Memoirs of April 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 7:00 pm on 2018/03/01 Permalink
    Tags: bnstorefront-history, ,   

    THe Best History Books of March 2018 

    History moves pretty fast, and it’s impossible to pay attention to everything at once. History books open windows onto a frozen period of the past, allowing us to take our time and dig deep into the fine grain of events. This month’s crop of new history books bringboth modern-day events like the 2016 election and those more distant past, like the 18th century siege of Gilbraltar, into focus, giving us the room to understand how they affected the world speeding along around us.

    Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump, by Michael Isikoff and David Corn
    Americans on both sides are still trying to figure out precisely what happened in the 2016 presidential election, and sometimes it seems like the more information we glean about Russian hacking and propaganda programs, the more confusing it becomes. Veteran journalists Isikoff and Corn take a systematic approach to tracing the course of events, starting with the souring of Russia-U.S. relations, tracing the Trump organization’s close ties to Russia, then outlining the incredibly complex system of espionage that the Russians employed to influence the election.

    Gibraltar: The Greatest Siege in British History, by Roy Adkins and Lesley Adkins
    At the height of the Revolutionary War, Great Britain was distracted and weakened by war with France and Spain, and the strain contributed to the American victory that birthed a nation. Roy and Lesley Adkins take a thrilling close look at one of the most strategically important events of the time: the nearly-four year siege of Gilbraltar. Incredibly important to Britain’s empire, the story of the soldiers, sailors, and officers who held the rock against all odds deserves all the attention it can get, as it’s easily one of the most thrilling episodes of the period. Fighting not just bullets and sabers but disease and starvation as the French and Spanish worked tirelessly to intercept all resupply attempts, the longest siege in Britain’s history is one of those real-life events that seems like it came out of a fantastic thriller.

    Disappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage, by Brian Castner
    In 1789, Alexander Mackenzie set off into Canada’s Northwest Territories in search of the Northwest Passage. Navigating a river he named Disappointment (today known as the Mackenzie River) he pushed his team further north than any European had ever been, ultimately failing in his quest. In 2016 Castner set off to follow the same route and to experience some of the same nightmarish conditions suffered by Mackenzie more than two centuries earlier. The world Castner finds is much changed, and yet the indigenous people of the area are still struggling in similar fashion—just against different forces. Mackenzie’s incredible journey combined with Castner’s modern-day memoir bring the area and its history to vibrant life.

    To the Edges of the Earth: 1909, the Race for the Three Poles, and the Climax of the Age of Exploration, by Edward Larson
    Larson offers a snapshot of a bygone age where the idle rich wished to be not quite so idle, and lavished their resources on exploration that brought fame and status. In 1909, three incredible expeditions were mounted: Shackleton’s attempt to reach the South Pole, Peary’s eighth attempt to reach the North Pole, and Prince Luigi Amedeo of Savoy’s attempt to climb to the “Pole of Altitude” in the Himalayas. Armed with equipment that broke down or was easily lost along the way, Larson details the thrillingly dangerous conditions these men endured as they pursued their goals—the last frontiers of exploration on a planet that was rapidly being settled and modernized. Mutinies, lost appendages, and other incredible setbacks make each attempt a gripping story of adventure, detailed with fine-point accuracy by Larson’s research and access to original sources.

    In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History, by Mitch Landrieu
    If anyone needed a reminder that we are far from living in any sort of “post-racial” society, the events surrounding the removal of various confederate statues in the southern United States in 2017 served as a grim lesson. Landrieu, Mayor of New Orleans, ordered the removal of four Confederate statues, and here writes movingly—and disturbingly—of the segregationist and supremacist forces that opposed him. While some argue about the erasing of history, Landrieu doesn’t flinch away from categorizing those who fight to protect the symbols of slavery as racists, or from outlining the ways these forces still control the mechanisms of the law and politics in the southern states.

    New World, Inc.: The Making of America by England’s Merchant Adventurers, by John Butman and Simon Targett
    The story of capitalism and its influence on the world didn’t begin with the USA, and Butman and Targett serve up a fascinating reminder that the New World was, in fact, discovered and mapped largely by for-profit adventurers representing corporations. Beginning with the three ships of the Mysterie Company in 1533 that set off—unsuccessfully—to find a northern passage to China. The authors further argue that the contributions of such money-minded entrepreneurs was erased in favor of the religious, pious Pilgrims who offered America a better pedigree. They also underscore the link between commerce and the desperate need for new trade routes and the advancement of seafaring technology and knowledge, making a successful argument that to find a new world more than simple adventure and curiosity was needed—profits also had to be in the cards.

    The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote, by Elaine Weiss
    It might be difficult to believe that less than a century ago women did not have the right to vote in the United States. As the #MeToo movement puts women’s rights and equality back in the spotlight, it’s the ideal time to revisit the surprisingly thrilling and tense battle for women’s suffrage—a battle that looked to be lost just a short time before the vote. Weiss recounts the surprisingly dirty politics of the struggle, defined by the threats, bribes, and tricks of the anti-suffrage movement, countered at every turn by the passionate, fearless work of Carrie Catt, Sue White, and dozens of others. Readers will see plenty of parallels to modern times in the corporate influences, disinformation campaigns, and outright sexism and racism that marked a struggle for something that seems like simple common sense today—and which many assume was a simple procedural matter, when the reality was much more violent and exciting.

    The Age of Eisenhower, by William I. Hitchcock
    Dwight D. Eisenhower was so successful and fundamentally important to 20th century American—and world—history it’s almost unavoidable that people would work to undermine his legacy, complaining that he was a figurehead during World War II and that he was a lightweight, inconsequential President who floated along on a warm wave of postwar prosperity. Hitchcock takes a much-needed second look at Ike’s presidency, offering compelling evidence that Eisenhower was much more subtle and intelligent a political operative than has been assumed. Eisenhower in fact followed smart, even-handed economic policies that balanced the needs of citizens with budgetary restraint, and was more important to the Civil Rights movement than most grade school history books give him credit for. At a time when presidential performance is on every American’s mind in some sense, this is an ideal book for those seeking historical objectivity.

    The Last Wild Men of Borneo: A True Story of Death and Treasure, by Carl Hoffman
    Hoffman tells the parallel tales of Bruno Manser, a Swiss environmentalist, and Michael Palmieri, and art dealer from America, who both found adventure and purpose on the wild and untamed island of Borneo int he 1970s and 1980s. Palmieri collected artifacts and tribal art, becoming a notable dealer while Manser lived with the primitive Penan tribe and worked tirelessly to protect the island from corporate forces seeking to denude it of natural resources. Remarkably, the men never met in person, and Hoffman turns their true life stories into the stuff of adventure fiction, filled with battles against nature and tense smuggling adventures that would make as excellent a Hollywood movie as they do a book of modern-day history.

    China’s Great Wall of Debt, by Dinny McMahon
    China seems to be on an inevitable economic ascent, and it’s easy to assume their “miracle” was accomplished through diligent manipulation of market forces and a wave of exported goods. McMahon traces the true engine of China’s economic expansion—debt, and plenty of it, to the tune of $12 trillion that may never be paid back. This puts not just China’s future but the future of the entire world at risk, as the collapse of this wall of debt would set off a chain reaction the world’s economies have never experienced. McMahon doesn’t settle for academic research and number-crunching, traveling to China to visit idle factories and empty ghost cities and meeting with businesspeople who operate their Chinese companies outside of China because it’s easier to get the basics they need in countries like the United States. All in all an eye-opening book that will change views on the world’s economy and future, and not necessarily for the better.

    The post THe Best History Books of March 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ross Johnson 5:00 pm on 2018/03/01 Permalink
    Tags: , bnstorefront-history, ,   

    The Best Biographies & Memoirs of March 2018 

    The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row, by Anthony Ray Hinton, Bryan Stevenson, and Lara Love Hardin
    “I don’t care whether you did it or not. You will be convicted.” That’s what a Birmingham detective told Anthony Ray Hinton after he was arrested for robbery and murder in 1985. Hinton had an alibi, and no evidence linked him to the crime, but testimony suggesting that a gun owned by his mother might have been the same type as was used in the shootings was enough to send the black man to death row. Outside ballistics experts proved conclusively, in 1995, that the bullets weren’t a match for his mother’s gun, but the state refused to reexamine the evidence. Hinton spent almost 30 years were in prison before the state released him in 2015, rather than hold a new trial. The story is tragic and compelling, but also one of hope—of a man who never succumbed to bitterness.

    I’ll Never Change My Name: An Immigrant’s American Dream from Ukraine to the USA to Dancing with the Stars, by Valentin Chmerkovskiy
    Chmerkovskiy grew up in Odessa before his Jewish family immigrated to the United States. Outsiders in their often anti-semitic homeland, Valentin felt like a stranger in the United States, even while honoring the opportunities that America has provided him. His memoir talks about his life, family, and rise to fame as a ballroom dancer on Dancing with the Stars alongside his brother Maks. Additionally, the book includes 16 pages of photographs from on and off the dance floor.

    Gator: My Life in Pinstripes, by Ron Guidry, and Andrew Beaton
    During the so-called “Bronx Zoo” era, the New York Yankees of the late ’70s and ’80s were one of the most celebrated teams in baseball history, and a legendary crew of big personalities. Under manager Billy Martin and owner George Steinbrenner, the team included names like Thurman Munson and Reggie Jackson. Ace pitcher Guidry was there for it all, making and being witness to sports history for over a decade, and shares his (and the team’s) fascinating journey here.

    Jackie’s Girl: My Life with the Kennedy Family, by Kathy McKeon
    The Kennedy family continues to fascinate, perhaps none more than the glamorous, mysterious first lady turned book editor. Even given her later reclusiveness, we still feel as though we’re on a first-name basis with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Kathy McKeon grew up on a remote farm in Ireland with neither running water nor electricity, but was hired by the recent widow when McKeon moved to America in 1964. For 13 years, she was Jackie’s personal assistant and sometimes nanny to the children. Now in paperback, McKeon’s memoir provides a behind-the-scenes look at life with one of the most famous Americans of the 20th century, while also telling the story of a young immigrant who grew up under Jackie’s mentorship.

    A Tokyo Romance: A Memoir, by Ian Buruma
    Writer and historian Buruma travelled to Tokyo in 1975, inspired by the rawness of Japanese theatre performances he’d experienced in his native Netherlands. What he found was a city in the middle of an economic and cultural boom, all neon and J-pop, where hints of life before the war survived as scattered fragments amidst a vivid new backdrop. Buruma’s memoir is the story of his time in Tokyo as an outsider in a city in the midst of radical transformation.

    Would You Rather?: A Memoir of Growing Up and Coming Out, by Katie Heaney
    Novelist and memoirist Heaney’s warm and poignant collections of essays about growing up and searching for Mr. Right have been well-received, but her life’s changed since the release of her last: for one thing, she realized at the age of 28 that she’s gay, so Mr. Right became Ms. Right. Here, she chronicles the journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance that led her to where she is now, and shares stories of her coming out to friends, family, and acquaintances, and her new adventures in dating in New York City.

    Unsuccessful Thug: One Comedian’s Journey from Naptown to Tinseltown, by Mike Epps
    Growing up in a rough part of Indianapolis, Mike Epps seemed destined for a life of crime, until he realized he had neither the sensibilities nor the aptitude for the thug life. So it was off to New York, where he made a splash in stand up, and then to Hollywood, where he parlayed a role in the later Friday movies into a solid film career. From growing up black, to Hollywood racism, to capturing stand-up success, Epps discusses his life and career.

    My Days: Happy and Otherwise, by Marion Ross
    With a career spanning more than six decades, Marion Ross has plenty of stories to tell. After growing up in rural Minnesota, she went to Hollywaood where, by the late ’50s, she had already worked with entertainment luminaries like Ginger Rogers, Humphrey Bogart, and Noel Coward. In the ’70s, she became a television star, and for 11 seasons of Happy Days, she was one of America’s favorite moms. In addition to her own life story on- and off-screen, this memoir includes candid interviews with most of the cast of that enduring sit-com.

    It’s Not Yet Dark, by Simon Fitzmaurice
    A doctor gave filmmaker Fitzmaurice four years to live following an ALS diagnosis in 2008. By 2010, he was at death’s door, and given little reason to hope. Nevertheless, he chose to take extraordinary measures to stay alive. In the years since, he’s fathered twins and continued to work as a documentarian. Now in paperback, and released alongside his wife’s own memoir, Fitzmaurice talks candidly about his daily struggles, but also about the family that sustains him in a life that’s radically different from the one he’d planned for.

    I Found My Tribe: A Memoir, by Ruth Fitzmaurice
    The “Tragic Wives’ Swimming Club” is what Ruth Fitzmaurice calls her tribe of friends, who have banded together in the face of life’s challenges, and regularly make a pilgrimage to a lake together to throw themselves into the frigid waters—a symbol of their resiliency and camaraderie in the face of hardship. Ruth is the wife of Simon, a filmmaker with ALS (whose own memoir is out in paperback this month; see above); caring for a husband who can now only communicate with his eyes taught her love and live as hard as she can. Her story is heartbreaking, but ultimately inspiring.

    Whose story inspires you?

    The post The Best Biographies & Memoirs of March 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • BN Editors 6:00 pm on 2018/02/01 Permalink
    Tags: , bnstorefront-history,   

    This Winter’s Best New Biographies & Memoirs 

    Educated, by Tara Westover
    A well-written memoir can make a mundane life fascinating, but Tara Westover’s life was anything but mundane, and she tells her own story with gripping, clear-eyed ferocity. Raised in the rural Idaho mountains by a family of fundamentalist Mormon survivalists, Westover never went to school until she turned 17, and lived out her days preparing for the worst:helping her fathersalvage scrap to sell, canning food with her mother to get them through the looming apocalypse, packing and repacking her bag of emergency supplies. She never saw a doctor, despite some serious injuries, including violence inflicted upon her by a sibling. Another brother did make it out, however, and came back to the mountain one day with tales of college, and a better life. Determined to follow in his footsteps, Westover taught herself enough math and science to gain admittance to Brigham University, where her life changed forever. This is the fascinating story of the strange ties that bind a family together, and the strength it takes to sever them and strike out on your own.

    All-American Murder: The Rise and Fall of Aaron Hernandez, the Superstar Whose Life Ended on Murderer’s Row, by James Patterson and Alex Abramovich with Mike Harvkey
    One of the most shocking and sad sports stories of the past five years, the murder conviction and subsequent suicide of NFL superstar Aaron Hernandez left sports fans reeling. A young man who seemed to have it all was implicated in multiple killings, and thriller writer Patterson and company promise a thorough and unvarnished true-crime look at the real Hernandez, with accounts from those who knew him, a look at his hometown, and an account of his final days.

    When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele
    Advocate, artist, and queer activist Patrisse Cullors was one of the principal founders of the Black Lives Matter movement following the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. It’s hard to overstate the influence that movement has had on our culture in the years since, both as inspiration and flashpoint. She’s joined by author and fellow activist asha bandele to tell her personal story of BLM and to talk about the culture that necessitated it.

    Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say, by Kelly Corrigan
    Corrigan structures a series of essays around some of the seemingly simple words and phrases that serve as gateways and barriers to communication. In her human and self-deprecating style, she examine the power of saying “no,” or “I don’t know,” or even “I was wrong.” If there’s ever been a need to think thoughtfully and compassionately about the ways in which we communicate, it’s now.

    The Monk of Mokha, by Dave Eggers
    McSweeney’s founder Eggers tells the true story of Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a San Franciscan child of Yemeni immigrants who became fascinated with Yemen’s rich history of coffee production. Traveling to his parent’s homeland, he became a student of coffee, visiting farms all of the country to collect samples and discover new means of cultivation with a goal of restoring a proud tradition and global market for Yemeni coffee. It was going well until 2015, when the Yemeni civil war broke out overnight, forcing Alkhanshali to attempt a daring escape. Those are just a few of the many layers to a fascinating true story.

    BRAVE, by Rose McGowan
    McGowan was born to members of the notorious Children of God cult before running away as a teenager and finding her way to Hollywood, where she quickly discovered that the sexism and exploitation of celebrity culture was a cult of its own. She’s been inspiration and provocateur ever since, unapologetically and controversially speaking her mind about Hollywood and her life as a female star. In the wake of her recent revelations about her abuse at the hands of Harvey Weinstein comes this frank memoir, which pulls no punches, and then some.

    Single State of Mind, by Andi Dorfman
    Bachelorette star Dorfman is back with a new memoir of life as a single celebrity in New York, pulling back the curtain on living as a reality star as well going behind the scenes on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Described as a real-life Sex and the City, Dorfman’s book has everything that her legions of fans crave.

    Jackie, Janet & Lee: The Secret Lives of Janet Auchincloss and Her Daughters Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Lee Radziwill, by J. Randy Taraborrelli
    There are plenty of biographies about Jackie Kennedy Onassis, mostly centered around her marriages to JFK and Aristotle Onassis and her extraordinary and tragic term as First Lady. Taraborelli’s book shifts the focus to the family, particularly the mother who taught Jackie and her sister Lee to walk in the most rarified circles. A socialite, a First Lady, and a princess, these three women walked the corridors of power in the 20th century.

    Whose story intrigues you most?

    The post This Winter’s Best New Biographies & Memoirs appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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