"Every man or woman in this life has a song, and if you’re lucky you can remember it. The song of your wedding, the song of your first love, the song of your childhood. For African Americans, the song of our life, the song of our entire history, is embodied in the life and times of James Brown."
~ from James McBride's Kill 'Em and Leave
The Legends Club: Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano... by John FeinsteinIn 1980, a legendary rivalry was heating up between three schools in NCAA basketball’s Atlantic Coast Conference, all just a few miles apart. When this rousing history begins, two of the three coaches -- now all household names -- were just starting out: Duke’s unknown new coach Mike Krzyzewski hadn’t earned his moniker (Coach K), while Jim Valvano at NC State was, likewise, a brand-new hire. Only UNC-Chapel Hill’s Dean Smith was well-established, but he still hadn't won a national championship. In this engaging book, longtime sportswriter John Feinstein uses extensive interviews to paint a picture of the rivalries and relationships -- both on and off the court -- between the three men over the ensuing years.
Small Town Talk: Bob Dylan, The Band, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi... by Barney HoskynsMost people know Woodstock as a fabled 1969 music festival, but not as the upstate New York town 60 miles away that was a popular destination for 1960s folk artists, as this richly detailed book explains. Bob Dylan spent a lot of time here, recovering from a motorcycle accident and recording with The Band; his long-time manager, Albert Grossman, also played a role in establishing Woodstock as a musician's haven. Other residents and visitors included Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Peter, Paul, and Mary. Fans of ‘60s and ‘70s music history will appreciate this peek into a memorable era.
Kill 'Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul by James McBridePrompted by a comment from James Brown's grandson, author James McBride decided to look into the complex life and legacy of the Godfather of Soul. With input from Brown's friends, family members, and colleagues, McBride paints a picture not just of the founder of funk but of the world that made him; musings on race, identity, influence, and the American South abound. While there are other, more traditional biographies of James Brown available, this one is unique as it adds cultural history, context, and a personal perspective.
Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel MirandaHamilton the musical has taken the world by storm, it seems -- even those who don't care for theater in general or musicals in particular. And yet the hip-hop musical with the diverse cast, based on a biography of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, appears to be an unstoppable force. For those who can't get enough (or can't get to Broadway to see it live), this libretto complete with annotations, photos, and commentary from Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Tony Award-winning composer-lyricist-star behind it all, takes fans behind the scenes of the beloved musical -- but will likely make you all the more desperate for tickets.
Focus on: Comic Books & Superheroes
Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean HoweMarvel Comics originated in 1939, when publisher Marvin Goodman reluctantly expanded his pulp magazine business into the new field of comic books. But the brand didn't really take off until 1961, when writer Stan Lee and artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko helped create Marvel's most well-known characters. In this in-depth, meticulously researched, and "scintillating history" (Publishers Weekly), Entertainment Weekly editor Sean Howe delves into the tangled and contentious personal relationships among Marvel's talented stable of editors, writers, and artists; also taking center stage are their creations, like golden-boy Captain America and lovable (if nerdy) Spider-Man.
Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir by Stan Lee, Peter David, and Colleen DoranUnsurprisingly, when comic book legend Stan Lee writes a memoir, he does it in graphic novel format in his "inimitably jaunty style" (Kirkus Reviews). Here, he shares his role in creating some of the most iconic comic book creations -- Spider-Man, Iron Man, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, and many more. But he also writes of his childhood, his early years in a comic book industry dominated not by superheroes but by cowboys, and his co-creators. Fun and quirky, this is a great read for fans.
The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill LeporeDeeply researched and offering an engaging story, this cultural history of enduring icon Wonder Woman deviates from standard comic book history by concentrating on the rather unusual circumstances of her creation -- especially the unorthodox living situation of her creator, and the controversy that Wonder Woman's appearance inspired. Drawing on both interviews and archival research to unveil the role of feminism in shaping Wonder Woman's existence, historian Jill Lepore's study offers a different yet tantalizing perspective that readers of Tim Hanley's Wonder Woman Unbound (or comic book history in general) may appreciate.
Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster... by Brad RiccaThis comprehensive biography of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster draws on a decade of research and new discoveries to provide the complete story behind the creation of Superman. It details a friendship that evolved into a working partnership, the inspiration for the Man of Steel, and the pair's premature sale of the character to Action Comics. Check it out if you've an interest in the comic book industry or in Superman himself; the collaboration between Siegel and Shuster also inspired Michael Chabon's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.
Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero by Larry TyeAs with Brad Ricca's superb biography of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (Super Boys), this history begins with two nerdy teenagers who (after six years of false starts and rejections) gave life to a superhero who was everything they were not. But though they deserve the credit for creating the invincible Superman, they sold him to Action Comics for $130 and soon lost artistic rights over him. Over the intervening eight decades, many others have helped influence the changing characteristics of the Man of Steel to better fit the changing times and to let him live on in popular culture. Comprehensive and accessible, this is a wide-ranging history of an American hero.
Contact your librarian for more great books!