Four ARCs – Simonson , Gyasi and Two Non-FIC [Homegoing still up for grabs]

February 17, 2016

The buildup to world war, experience of the war, and changing society during the teens/twenties are all perennial favorite themes for readers around here (not to mention viewers of Downton Abbey) so I know I’ll have no trouble getting a claim on this first title, The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson.  Praised by the likes of Paula McLain (Circling the Sun, a big hit last year) and Annie Barrows (Guernsey Literary, etc.), the initial order of nine copies is getting a queue buildup of its own, currently at 26.  Be first to comment on this post and I will send to your Sno-Isle workplace.

The summer before the war : a novelPublisher Summary:

The bestselling author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand returns with a breathtaking novel of love on the eve of World War I that reaches far beyond the small English town in which it is set. East Sussex, 1914. It is the end of England’s brief Edwardian summer, and everyone agrees that the weather has never been so beautiful. Hugh Grange, down from his medical studies, is visiting his Aunt Agatha, who lives with her husband in the small, idyllic coastal town of Rye. Agatha’s husband works in the Foreign Office, and she is certain he will ensure that the recent saber rattling over the Balkans won’t come to anything. And Agatha has more immediate concerns; she has just risked her carefully built reputation by pushing for the appointment of a woman to replace the Latin master. When Beatrice Nash arrives with one trunk and several large crates of books, it is clear she is significantly more freethinking–and attractive–than anyone believes a Latin teacher should be. For her part, mourning the death of her beloved father, who has left her penniless, Beatrice simply wants to be left alone to pursue her teaching and writing.  But just as Beatrice comes alive to the beauty of the Sussex landscape and the colorful characters who populate Rye, the perfect summer is about to end. For despite Agatha’s reassurances, the unimaginable is coming. Soon the limits of progress, and the old ways, will be tested as this small Sussex town and its inhabitants go to war.

Homegoing, a promising debut from Ghanaian-born American writer Yaa Gyasi, with the enthusiastic promotion and backing of PRH, should be attractive to an array of readers, including fans of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americah, though Homegoing is more epically historical in bridging African and American experience.

HomegoingPublisher Summary: 

A riveting, kaleidoscopic debut novel and the beginning of a major career: a novel about race, history, ancestry, love, and time that traces the descendants of two sisters torn apart in eighteenth-century Africa across three hundred years in Ghana and America. Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into different tribal villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and will live in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising half-caste children who will be sent abroad to be educated before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the empire. Esi, imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle’s women’s dungeon and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, will be sold into slavery. Stretching from the tribal wars of Ghana to slavery and the Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the American South to the Great Migration to twentieth-century Harlem, YaaGyasi‘s novel moves through histories and geographies and captures—with outstanding economy and force— the troubled spirit of our own nation. She has written a modern masterpiece.

With interest in every aspect of Teddy Roosevelt sustained by a lot of good titles in recent years, such as Doris Kearns Goodwin’s The Bully Pulpit, it’s exciting to discover a truly new take on this hunter/adventurer/warrior president.  Darrin Lunde writes an originally insightful biography of Roosevelt’s growing interest in hunting and stuffing game animals, which in his day were not only a boon to science but in fact a key to conservation efforts among the public visiting natural history museums.  Lunde is himself a naturalist who has worked for major museums so he knows what he’s talking about.  Warning: contains vividly grisly but fascinating descriptions of the details of taxidermy.

The naturalist : Theodore Roosevelt and the rise of American natural history

Publisher Summary: 

…No U.S. president is more popularly associated with nature and wildlife than is Theodore Roosevelt–prodigious hunter, tireless adventurer, and ardent conservationist. We think of him as a larger-than-life original, yet in The Naturalist , Darrin Lunde has firmly situated Roosevelt’s indomitable curiosity about the natural world in the tradition of museum naturalism. As a child, Roosevelt actively modeled himself on the men (including John James Audubon and Spencer F. Baird) who pioneered this key branch of biology by developing a taxonomy of the natural world–basing their work on the experiential study of nature. The impact that these scientists and their trailblazing methods had on Roosevelt shaped not only his audacious personality but his entire career, informing his work as a statesman and ultimately affecting generations of Americans’ relationship to this country’s wilderness…




Finally, Lawrence Goldstone has written an account of the early development of the gas-powered automobile and the drive to make it practical for consumers as well as speedy for sports spectators. Drive! Henry Ford, George Selden, and the Race to Invent the Auto Age comes out this May.   It seems every major advance in technology has involved bitter legal disputes over patents. This seems a good bet for the many who enjoyed McCullough’s The Wright Brothers.

Drive! : Henry Ford, George Selden, and the Race to Invent the Auto AgePublisher Summary:  

From the acclaimed author of Birdmen comes a revelatory new history of the birth of the automobile, an illuminating and entertaining true tale of invention, competition, and the visionaries, hustlers, and swindlers who came together to transform the world. In 1900, the Automobile Club of America sponsored the nation’s first car show in New York’s Madison Square Garden. The event was a spectacular success, attracting seventy exhibitors and nearly fifty thousand visitors. Among the spectators was an obscure would-be automaker named Henry Ford, who walked the floor speaking with designers and engineers, trying to gauge public enthusiasm for what was then a revolutionary invention. His conclusion: the automobile was going to be a fixture in American society, both in the city and on the farm–and would make some people very rich. None, he decided, more than he.<br> <br> Drive! is the most complete account to date of the wild early days of the auto age. Lawrence Goldstone tells the fascinating story of how the internal combustion engine, a “theory looking for an application,” evolved into an innovation that would change history.


10 Responses to “Four ARCs – Simonson , Gyasi and Two Non-FIC [Homegoing still up for grabs]”

  1. Says:

    I would love it!!

  2. Says:

    The Summer Before War, I mean : )

  3. Darren Says:

    Sure thing – on its way!

  4. Marta Says:

    Would love, love, love The Naturalist because how can I not love learning about the prez who gave us the parks

  5. Darren Says:

    You bet! I’m so glad someone’s taking that one!

  6. Diana Says:

    I would love to have ‘Naturalist’. Thanks!

  7. Diana Says:

    Oops! ok. I see Marta beet me to it. 😉

  8. Darren Says:

    By one minute, yes, but perhaps we can share later and we’re getting several copies in multiple formats.


  9. Heather Says:

    I’d love Drive and I can think of a few people in my family who would enjoy it too. 🙂

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