This is the last ARC I have leftover from conference but we get many shipped to us as well so I’ll try to keep going this summer.  Comment to claim.

Ganeshram, Ramin. The General’s Cook. Arcade, November 6th.

The General's Cook by Arcade PublishingPublisher summary: Philadelphia 1793. Hercules, President George Washington’s chef, is a fixture on the Philadelphia scene. He is famous for both his culinary prowess and for ruling his kitchen like a commanding general. He has his run of the city and earns twice the salary of an average American workingman. He wears beautiful clothes and attends the theater. But while valued by the Washingtons for his prowess in the kitchen and rewarded far over and above even white servants, Hercules is enslaved in a city where most black Americans are free. Even while he masterfully manages his kitchen and the lives of those in and around it, Hercules harbors secrets– including the fact that he is learning to read and that he is involved in a dangerous affair with Thelma, a mixed-race woman, who, passing as white, works as a companion to the daughter of one of Philadelphia’s most prestigious families. Eventually Hercules’ carefully crafted intrigues fall apart and he finds himself trapped by his circumstance and the will of George Washington. Based on actual historical events and people, The General’s Cook, will thrill fans of The Hamilton Affair, as they follow Hercules’ precarious and terrifying bid for freedom.

A couple of years ago Ganeshram’s children’s picture book A Birthday Cake for George Washington was pulled by publisher Scholastic, which explained :

While we have great respect for the integrity and scholarship of the author, illustrator, and editor, we believe that, without more historical background on the evils of slavery than this book for younger children can provide, the book may give a false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves and therefore should be withdrawn.

Ganeshram, who is Trinidadian and had researched this topic for years, gave her side to the story in a Guardian article , pointing out for instance that children’s authors often have little opportunity to consult with their illustrators.  The General’s Cook seems to be a different vehicle to tell the same story in perhaps more depth for an adult audience.  It will be interesting to see how it’s received critically and by readers.

 

 

 

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Comment to claim.  The Ali book is an interesting and highly visual presentation, in many places resembling magazine article formatting. I’m only now ordering this but wondered if someone out there would be in to sports related ARCs.  While on the subject of daughters writing about fathers, I wanted to mention the upcoming title Small Fry: A Memoir by Lisa Brennan-Jobs.  The word at Day of Dialog was that this portrays a highly unconventional and sometimes severe upbringing by a late tech icon, but expressing admiration all the same.  I’m starting with 15 copies which will be in the catalog soon. Sorry no ARC of that.

Arthurs, Alexia. How to Love a Jamaican. July 24th.

How to Love A Jamaican

“In these kaleidoscopic stories of Jamaica and its diaspora we hear many voices at once: some cultivated, some simple, some wickedly funny, some deeply melancholic. All of them shine.”–Zadie Smith

Named one of Entertainment Weekly ‘s “Hot Summer Reads of 2018” and BuzzFeed ‘s “Summer Books to Get Excited About”

Tenderness and cruelty, loyalty and betrayal, ambition and regret–Alexia Arthurs navigates these tensions to extraordinary effect in her debut collection about Jamaican immigrants and their families back home. Sweeping from close-knit island communities to the streets of New York City and midwestern university towns, these eleven stories form a portrait of a nation, a people, and a way of life. In “Light-Skinned Girls and Kelly Rowlands,” an NYU student befriends a fellow Jamaican whose privileged West Coast upbringing has blinded her to the hard realities of race. In “Mash Up Love,” a twin’s chance sighting of his estranged brother–the prodigal son of the family–stirs up unresolved feelings of resentment. In “Bad Behavior,” a couple leave their wild teenage daughter with her grandmother in Jamaica, hoping the old ways will straighten her out. In “Mermaid River,” a Jamaican teenage boy is reunited with his mother in New York after eight years apart. In “The Ghost of Jia Yi,” a recently murdered student haunts a despairing Jamaican athlete recruited to an Iowa college. And in “Shirley from a Small Place,” a world-famous pop star retreats to her mother’s big new house in Jamaica, which still holds the power to restore something vital.

 

Brennan-Jobs, Lisa. Small Fry: A Memoir. Grove Atlantic, Sept. 4th.

Born on a farm and named in a field by her parents—artist Chrisann Brennan and Steve Jobs—Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s childhood unfolded in a rapidly changing Silicon Valley. When she was young, Lisa’s father was a mythical figure who was rarely present in her life. As she grew older, her father took an interest in her, ushering her into a new world of mansions, vacations, and private schools. His attention was thrilling, but he could also be cold, critical and unpredictable. When her relationship with her mother grew strained in high school, Lisa decided to move in with her father, hoping he’d become the parent she’d always wanted him to be.

Small Fry is Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s poignant story of a childhood spent between two imperfect but extraordinary homes. Scrappy, wise, and funny, young Lisa is an unforgettable guide through her parents’ fascinating and disparate worlds. Part portrait of a complex family, part love letter to California in the seventies and eighties, Small Fry is an enthralling book by an insightful new literary voice.

 

Ali, Hana.  Ali on Ali. Workman, 2018.

Ali on Ali

The Greatest—in his own unforgettable words. This collection of quotes is accompanied by family photographs and the stories behind the sayings by Ali’s daughter and biographer, Hana Ali. A book of inspiration, humor, and Ali’s inimitable way with words, it’s a unique look at a unique and beloved person.

This is the latest from Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist who is at least the Carl Sagan of our time if not even more of an ambassador for cutting edge science. Compared to previous bestselling titles this one seems more in-depth and yes has a strongly detailed military component. The historical appreciation for the role of military motives in spurring science and discovery is all the more compelling coming from a rationalist cosmopolitan who would have us move in a more Vulcan direction.  Especially interesting is the discussion of the potential militarization of space and the actual international agreements that no one is supposed to spike a flag on the moon or planets and claim them.

Tyson, Neil DeGrasse. Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military. Norton, September.

Accessory to WarIn this fascinating foray into the centuries-old relationship between science and military power, acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and writer-researcher Avis Lang examine how the methods and tools of astrophysics have been enlisted in the service of war. “The overlap is strong, and the knowledge flows in both directions,” say the authors, because astrophysicists and military planners care about many of the same things: multi-spectral detection, ranging, tracking, imaging, high ground, nuclear fusion, and access to space. Tyson and Lang call it a “curiously complicit” alliance. “The universe is both the ultimate frontier and the highest of high grounds,” they write. “Shared by both space scientists and space warriors, it’s a laboratory for one and a battlefield for the other. The explorer wants to understand it; the soldier wants to dominate it. But without the right technology–which is more or less the same technology for both parties–nobody can get to it, operate in it, scrutinize it, dominate it, or use it to their advantage and someone else’s disadvantage.”Spanning early celestial navigation to satellite-enabled warfare, Accessory to War is a richly researched and provocative examination of the intersection of science, technology, industry, and power that will introduce Tyson’s millions of fans to yet another dimension of how the universe has shaped our lives and our world.

BEA ARCs Clearout

June 7, 2018

Non-fiction seemed to be the name of the game at BEA, with BookScan data to the effect that adult non-fiction is a growth area in general and in print, going from 240 m private individual consumer unit sales to over 280 in last five years.  In keeping with that, I have several relevant non-fiction selections below.  Rampage, in particular, is getting effusive praise and promotion. Comment to claim.

Appiah, Kwame Anthony.  The Lies that Bind.  Norton, August.

book coverFrom the best-selling author of Cosmopolitanism comes this revealing exploration of how the collective identities that shape our polarized world are riddled with contradiction.

Who do you think you are? That’s a question bound up in another: What do you think you are? Gender. Religion. Race. Nationality. Class. Culture. Such affiliations give contours to our sense of self, and shape our polarized world. Yet the collective identities they spawn are riddled with contradictions, and cratered with falsehoods.

Kwame Anthony Appiah’s The Lies That Bind is an incandescent exploration of the nature and history of the identities that define us. It challenges our assumptions about how identities work. We all know there are conflicts between identities, but Appiah shows how identities are created by conflict. Religion, he demonstrates, gains power because it isn’t primarily about belief. Our everyday notions of race are the detritus of discarded nineteenth-century science. Our cherished concept of the sovereign nation—of self-rule—is incoherent and unstable. Class systems can become entrenched by efforts to reform them. Even the very idea of Western culture is a shimmering mirage.

From Anton Wilhelm Amo, the eighteenth-century African child who miraculously became an eminent European philosopher before retiring back to Africa, to Italo Svevo, the literary marvel who changed citizenship without leaving home, to Appiah’s own father, Joseph, an anticolonial firebrand who was ready to give his life for a nation that did not yet exist, Appiah interweaves keen-edged argument with vibrant narratives to expose the myths behind our collective identities.

Scott, James M. Rampage: MacArthur, Yamashita, and the Battle of Manila. Norton, October.

book coverThe definitive history of one of the most brutal campaigns of the war in the Pacific.

Before World War II, Manila was a slice of America in Asia, populated with elegant neoclassical buildings, spacious parks, and home to thousands of U.S. servicemen and business executives who enjoyed the relaxed pace of the tropics. The outbreak of the war, however, brought an end to the good life. General Douglas MacArthur, hoping to protect the Pearl of the Orient, declared the Philippine capital an open city and evacuated his forces. The Japanese seized Manila on January 2, 1942, rounding up and interning thousands of Americans.

MacArthur, who escaped soon after to Australia, famously vowed to return. For nearly three years, he clawed his way north, obsessed with redeeming his promise and turning his earlier defeat into victory. By early 1945, he prepared to liberate Manila, a city whose residents by then faced widespread starvation. Convinced the Japanese would abandon the city as he did, MacArthur planned a victory parade down Dewey Boulevard. But the enemy had other plans. Determined to fight to the death, Japanese marines barricaded intersections, converted buildings into fortresses, and booby-trapped stores, graveyards, and even dead bodies.

The twenty-nine-day battle to liberate Manila resulted in the catastrophic destruction of the city and a rampage by Japanese forces that brutalized the civilian population. Landmarks were demolished, houses were torched, suspected resistance fighters were tortured and killed, countless women were raped, and their husbands and children were murdered. American troops had no choice but to battle the enemy, floor by floor and even room by room, through schools, hospitals, and even sports stadiums. In the end, an estimated 100,000 civilians lost their lives in a massacre as heinous as the Rape of Nanking.

Based on extensive research in the United States and the Philippines, including war-crimes testimony, after-action reports, and survivor interviews, Rampagerecounts one of the most heartbreaking chapters of Pacific war history.

Begos, Kevin.  Tasting the Past. Algonquin, June 12th.

Tasting the Past

“When journalist Kevin Begos sets out to discover the origins of wine, he finds a whole world of forgotten grapes and meets the archaeologists, chemists, and botanists who are deciphering wine down to molecules of flavor”– Provided by publisher.

These two were just lying around (I think from Nancy’s connection).  Comment to claim.

Steinhauer, Olen. The Middleman. Minotaur, August.

The Middleman

With The Middleman , the perfect thriller for our tumultuous, uneasy time, Olen Steinhauer, the New York Times bestselling author of ten novels, including The Tourist and The Cairo Affair , delivers a compelling portrait of a nation on the edge of revolution, and the deepest motives of the men and women on the opposite sides of the divide.

One day in the early summer of 2017, about four hundred people disappear from their lives. They leave behind cell phones, credit cards, jobs, houses, families–everything–all on the same day. Where have they gone? Why? The only answer, for weeks, is silence.

Kevin Moore is one of them. Former military, disaffected, restless, Kevin leaves behind his retail job in San Francisco, sends a good-bye text to his mother, dumps his phone and wallet into a trash can, and disappears.

The movement calls itself the Massive Brigade, and they believe change isn’t coming fast enough to America. But are they a protest organization, a political movement, or a terrorist group? What do they want? The FBI isn’t taking any chances. Special Agent Rachel Proulx has been following the growth of left-wing political groups in the U.S. since the fall of 2016, and is very familiar with Martin Bishop, the charismatic leader of the Massive Brigade. But she needs her colleagues to take her seriously in order to find these people before they put their plan–whatever it is–into action.

What Rachel uncovers will shock the entire nation, and the aftermath of her investigation will reverberate through the FBI to the highest levels of government.

Swallow, James. Nomad. Forge, September.

Nomad

Marc Dane is a MI6 field agent at home behind a computer screen, one step away from the action. But when a brutal attack on his team leaves Dane the only survivor—and with the shocking knowledge that there are traitors inside MI6—he’s forced into the front line.

Matters spiral out of control when the evidence points toward Dane as the perpetrator of the attack. Accused of betraying his country, he must race against time to clear his name. With nowhere to turn to for help and no one left to trust, Marc is forced to rely on the elusive Rubicon group and their operative Lucy Keyes. Ex US Army, Lucy also knows what it’s like to be an outsider, and she’s got the skills that Dane needs.

A terrorist attack is coming, one bigger and more deadly than has ever been seen before. With the eyes of the security establishment elsewhere, only Keyes and Dane can stop the attack before it’s too late.

Comment to claim.

Sparks, Nicholas. Every Breath. Grand Central, Oct 16th.

Every Breath

Summary from Grand Central website: 
Hope Anderson is at a crossroads. At thirty-six, she’s been dating her boyfriend, an orthopedic surgeon, for six years. With no wedding plans in sight, and her father recently diagnosed with ALS, she decides to use a week at her family’s cottage in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, to ready the house for sale and mull over some difficult decisions about her future.
Tru Walls has never visited North Carolina but is summoned to Sunset Beach by a letter from a man claiming to be his father. A safari guide, born and raised in Zimbabwe, Tru hopes to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding his mother’s early life and recapture memories lost with her death. When the two strangers cross paths, their connection is as electric as it is unfathomable . . . but in the immersive days that follow, their feelings for each other will give way to choices that pit family duty against personal happiness in devastating ways.Illuminating life’s heartbreaking regrets and enduring hope, EVERY BREATH explores the many facets of love that lay claim to our deepest loyalties — and asks the question, How long can a dream survive?

 

Kingsolver, Barbara. Unsheltered. Harper, October.

Unsheltered

Publisher summary: 

The New York Times bestselling author of Flight Behavior, The Lacuna, and The Poisonwood Bible and recipient of numerous literary awards–including the National Humanities Medal, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the Orange Prize–returns with a timely novel that interweaves past and present to explore the human capacity for resiliency and compassion in times of great upheaval.

Willa Knox has always prided herself on being the embodiment of responsibility for her family. Which is why it’s so unnerving that she’s arrived at middle age with nothing to show for her hard work and dedication but a stack of unpaid bills and an inherited brick home in Vineland, New Jersey, that is literally falling apart. The magazine where she worked has folded, and the college where her husband had tenure has closed. The dilapidated house is also home to her ailing and cantankerous Greek father-in-law and her two grown children: her stubborn, free-spirited daughter, Tig, and her dutiful debt-ridden, ivy educated son, Zeke, who has arrived with his unplanned baby in the wake of a life-shattering development.

In an act of desperation, Willa begins to investigate the history of her home, hoping that the local historical preservation society might take an interest and provide funding for its direly needed repairs. Through her research into Vineland’s past and its creation as a Utopian community, she discovers a kindred spirit from the 1880s, Thatcher Greenwood.

A science teacher with a lifelong passion for honest investigation, Thatcher finds himself under siege in his community for telling the truth: his employer forbids him to speak of the exciting new theory recently published by Charles Darwin. Thatcher’s friendships with a brilliant woman scientist and a renegade newspaper editor draw him into a vendetta with the town’s most powerful men. At home, his new wife and status-conscious mother-in-law bristle at the risk of scandal, and dismiss his financial worries and the news that their elegant house is structurally unsound.

Brilliantly executed and compulsively readable, Unsheltered is the story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum, as they navigate the challenges of surviving a world in the throes of major cultural shifts. In this mesmerizing story told in alternating chapters, Willa and Thatcher come to realize that though the future is uncertain, even unnerving, shelter can be found in the bonds of kindred–whether family or friends–and in the strength of the human spirit.

UPDATE: sorry for misspelling of Mullally in previous version of this post

OK, time to start distributing BookExpo bounty.  Comment to claim.

How Do We Look (in both transitive and intransitive sense) is the latest gem from Mary Beard, whose SPQR Ancient Roman history has circulated over 270 times.  This one is shorter and focuses tightly, almost eccentrically, on particular relics, statues, and paintings and what they say about body and self image and views of art itself through time.  Though the emphasis is Western, Beard stretches herself to ponder Olmec stone heads, mosques shaped to look like artificial caves in Turkey, and Buddhist examples among others.

I rarely say anything negative about an ARC, but Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally’s autobiography/love story/pseudo-script The Greatest Love Story Ever Told left me in cold disappointment, all the more so as I am an adoring fan of the comic acting work of both.  Talking about poignant childhood challenges and depressing life realities in the guise of a spontaneous riffing dialog between them (that no, just wasn’t funny) didn’t work for me.  Could someone claim and tell me I’m wrong please?  I’m considering a painfully restrained order but may be overreacting.

And another Jill Lepore These Truths.

Covers with publisher annotations: 

How Do We LookConceived as a gorgeously illustrated accompaniment to “How Do We Look” and “The Eye of Faith,” the famed Civilisations shows on PBS, renowned classicist Mary Beard has created this elegant volume on how we have looked at art. Focusing in Part I on the Olmec heads of early Mesoamerica, the colossal statues of the pharaoh Amenhotep III, and the nudes of classical Greece, Beard explores the power, hierarchy, and gender politics of the art of the ancient world, and explains how it came to define the so-called civilized world. In Part II, Beard chronicles some of the most breathtaking religious imagery ever made–whether at Angkor Wat, Ravenna, Venice, or in the art of Jewish and Islamic calligraphers– to show how all religions, ancient and modern, have faced irreconcilable problems in trying to picture the divine. With this classic volume, Beard redefines the Western-and male-centric legacies of Ernst Gombrich and Kenneth Clark.

 

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Nick Offerman and Megan MullallyAt last, the full story behind Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman’s epic romance, including stories, portraits, and the occasional puzzle, all telling the smoldering tale that has fascinated Hollywood for over a decade. The year: 2000. The setting: Los Angeles. A gorgeous virtuoso of an actress had agreed to star in a random play, and a basement-dwelling scenic carpenter had said he would assay a supporting role in the selfsame pageant. At the first rehearsal, she surveyed her fellow cast members, as one does, determining if any of the men might qualify to provide her with a satisfying fling. Her gaze fell upon the carpenter, and like a bolt of lightning, the thought struck her: No dice. Moving on. Yet, unbeknownst to our protagonists, Cupid had merely set down his bow and picked up a rocket launcher. Then fired a love rocket (not a euphemism). The players were Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman, and the resulting romance, once it ignited, was . . . epic. Beyond epic. It resulted in a coupling that has endured to this day; a sizzling, perpetual tryst that has captivated the world with its kindness, athleticism, astonishingly low-brow humor, and true (fire emoji) passion. How did they do it? They came from completely different families, endured a significant age difference, and were separated by the gulf of several social strata. Megan loved books and art history; Nick loved hammers. But much more than these seemingly unsurpassable obstacles were the values they held in common: respect, decency, the ability to mention genitalia in almost any context, and an abiding obsession with the songs of Tom Waits. Eighteen years later, they’re still very much in love, and have finally decided to reveal the philosophical mountains they have conquered, the lessons they’ve learned, mainly about finger-blasting, and the myriad jigsaw puzzles they’ve completed, in a book. Featuring anecdotes, hijinks, interviews, photos, and a veritable grab bag of tomfoolery, this is not only the intoxicating book that Mullally’s and Offerman’s fans have been waiting for, it might just hold the solution to the greatest threat facing our modern world: the single life.

 

These TruthsWritten in elegiac prose, Lepore’s groundbreaking investigation places truth itself–a devotion to facts, proof, and evidence–at the center of the nation’s history. The American experiment rests on three ideas–“these truths,” Jefferson called them–political equality, natural rights, and the sovereignty of the people. And it rests, too, on a fearless dedication to inquiry, Lepore argues, because self-government depends on it. But has the nation, and democracy itself, delivered on that promise?These Truths tells this uniquely American story, beginning in 1492, asking whether the course of events over more than five centuries has proven the nation’s truths, or belied them. To answer that question, Lepore traces the intertwined histories of American politics, law, journalism, and technology, from the colonial town meeting to the nineteenth-century party machine, from talk radio to twenty-first-century Internet polls, from Magna Carta to the Patriot Act, from the printing press to Facebook News.Along the way, Lepore’s sovereign chronicle is filled with arresting sketches of both well-known and lesser-known Americans, from a parade of presidents and a rogues’ gallery of political mischief makers to the intrepid leaders of protest movements, including Frederick Douglass, the famed abolitionist orator; William Jennings Bryan, the three-time presidential candidate and ultimately tragic populist; Pauli Murray, the visionary civil rights strategist; and Phyllis Schlafly, the uncredited architect of modern conservatism.Americans are descended from slaves and slave owners, from conquerors and the conquered, from immigrants and from people who have fought to end immigration. “A nation born in contradiction will fight forever over the meaning of its history,” Lepore writes, but engaging in that struggle by studying the past is part of the work of citizenship. “The past is an inheritance, a gift and a burden,” These Truths observes. “It can’t be shirked. There’s nothing for it but to get to know it.”