The Book of Isaias: A Child of Hispanic Immigrants Seeks His Own America by Daniel ConnollyIn The Book of Isaias, award-winning journalist Daniel Connolly reports on the experiences of Mexican immigrants while focusing on one high school student, Isaias Ramos. Connolly, who speaks fluent Spanish, spent five years "embedded" in a Memphis, TN high school, observing the students and their families, the high school and its administration, and the special challenges facing undocumented residents. He also discusses legislation and policies that have led to the current official U.S. position on immigration. This "delicate, comprehensive, and empathetic" (Publishers Weekly) account offers a thought-provoking picture of Isaias that some will find eye-opening.
Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe by Robert MatzenActor James Stewart grew up in the ordinary small town of Indiana, PA, where he was fascinated by airplane flight from his childhood. Having already logged many hours in the cockpit as a civilian, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II as a bomber pilot, flying numerous grueling missions over France and Germany. In Mission, Hollywood historian Robert Matzen chronicles Stewart's military service and his film career. Drawing on extensive research and interviews with some of Stewart's crew members, Matzen provides little-known details of his war experience and the toll it took on him. A perceptive study of Stewart's highly successful Hollywood years completes this absorbing narrative.
Hank: The Short Life and Long Country Road of Hank Williams by Mark RibowskyBefore Elvis was King, country music's ruler was Hiram King "Hank" Williams, known for his mournful lyrics. A spinal defect inflicted so much pain on him, he could only keep going on pills; his mother and his first wife caused him so much misery, he could only sing unforgettable songs. Then he died in the backseat of a baby-blue Cadillac at age 29. In Hank, biographer Mark Ribowsky provides a riveting portrait of the Alabama-born musician, acclaimed as the author of "Your Cheatin' Heart," "Hey, Good Lookin'," and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." Library Journal says this is "probably the greatest biography yet" of the star termed the "Hillbilly Shakespeare."
Peter O'Toole: The Definitive Biography by Robert SellersStage and screen actor Peter O'Toole, best known for his epic performance in David Lean's film Lawrence of Arabia, comes to life in this comprehensive biography by show-biz biographer Robert Sellers. Sellers details O'Toole's life story, including his alcohol-fueled maverick behavior and his reliance on close personal friends. Focusing the spotlight on O'Toole's talent and skill on stage and screen, Sellers illuminates the reasons for his acclaim, making this "one of the best biographies of any actor," according to Booklist's starred review.
Nobody's Son: A Memoir by Mark SloukaThe parents of noted American novelist and essayist Mark Slouka were refugees from Communist Czechoslovakia after World War II; after their settlement in suburban America, their lives became increasingly dysfunctional. In Nobody's Son, Slouka traces his parents' odyssey, which began during World War I, and struggles to understand his mother's mental illness. Slouka's personal story has appeared indirectly in his fiction, but he recounts it directly in this account, manifesting the extent to which his relationship with his mother has influenced his whole life. Though at times the memoir is emotionally devastating, the lives Slouka recalls are "resurrected with amazing clarity," says Library Journal in a starred review.
Great books you might have missed!
Their Promised Land: My Grandparents in Love and War by Ian BurumaIn this moving family history, acclaimed historian Ian Buruma relates the lives of his maternal grandparents: Jews whose parents had immigrated to London from Germany in the 19th century. Winifred ("Win") and Bernard ("Bun") Schlesinger and their family were thoroughly assimilated into British culture, yet anti-Semitism remained a significant factor in their lives. Letters between Win and Bun, dating from World War I through the 1950s, provided Buruma with the details he needed to craft this gripping and insightful dual portrait, which combines a true love story with biography and social history in the context of two World Wars.
Master of Ceremonies: A Memoir by Joel GreyAward-winning actor Joel Grey is best known for his role on stage and screen as the emcee in Cabaret. In his early years, he found success as a Jewish vaudevillian touring the Borscht Belt, but, because he was homosexual, he avoided playing caricatures of gay men. In Master of Ceremonies, Grey chronicles his full career, his happy 24-year marriage to Jo Wilder, his life in the closet, and the deaths of his first child and of his friend Larry Kert. Finding late-career success in dramatic roles as gay men (The Normal Heart in addition to Cabaret), Grey eventually finds peace with himself in this "honest, memorable, eloquent" (Kirkus Reviews) memoir.
Fast into the Night: A Woman, Her Dogs, and Their Journey North on the Iditarod Trail by Debbie Clarke ModerowAlaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race, held annually in March, presents a grueling, dangerous test of dog teams and the human "mushers" who run them. In Fast into the Night, amateur musher Debbie Moderow relates her experiences training for the Iditarod and twice attempting the race, focusing on her relationship with her dogs as a significant aspect of her life and the most important component of the racing team. Weaving her life's story into her account of how she fell in love with Huskies and mushing, Moderow's engaging memoir takes readers along on her thrilling adventures.
The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe: A Biography by Elaine ShowalterBest known as the author of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," Julia Ward Howe was an heiress whose husband squandered her money, a passionate abolitionist, and (after her husband's death) an advocate for the rights of women and Native Americans. In this first complete biography of the poet, intellectual, and reformer, we see her strict but comfortable upbringing, her controlling and dismissive husband, and her accomplishments during her widowhood. The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe draws on correspondence, diaries, and her literary works to provide a "robust and enlightening feminist portrait" (Booklist, starred review).
John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit by James TraubIn this engaging depiction of John Quincy Adams, New York Times contributor James Traub draws on Adams' voluminous writings in addition to other historical records to create a richly detailed account of the erudite and complex diplomat and politician. Among many notable achievements (besides serving as the sixth President of the U.S.), Adams contributed to the negotiation and drafting of several key treaties and the Monroe Doctrine. According to Traub, his vehement arguments against the "slaveocracy" while in the House of Representatives influenced the future of slavery in the U.S. You won't want to miss this biography, which Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, called "essential."
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