Nonfiction

CBS News. What We Saw: The Events of September 11, 2001, in Words, Pictures, and Video. S. & S. Aug. 2011. 160p. ISBN 9781451626667. $29.99; eISBN 9781439142028.
First published in 2002, this book was drawn from the archives of CBS to present an account of 9/11 and the week following. Here it’s an updated edition with a new piece by Joe Klein called Where We Are Now. Compare with Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn’s 102 Minutes, another leading 9/11 account set to be rereleased this August and just featured in Prepub Alert.

Cooper, Andrew Scott. The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East. S. & S. Aug. 2011. 416p. ISBN 9781439155172. $28; eISBN 9781439157138.
When the price of oil began soaring in the early Seventies, says Cooper, Kissinger cut a deal with the Shah of Iran, exchanging advanced weapons for low oil prices. But when the Shah reneged, President Ford switched allegiances and cut the same deal with Saudi Arabia. That left the Shah’s budget in ruins, which led to economic cutbacks, which in turn led to revolution. Trained as a journalist, Cooper has worked for places like the UN and Human Rights Watch and has dug through newly available documents to make his case. Obviously, a close reading would be needed to evaluate this book fully, but given events in the Middle East, it’s important background to consider.

Dent, Jim. Courage Beyond the Game: The Freddie Steinmark Story. Thomas Dunne Bks: St. Martin’s. Aug. 2011. 304p. ISBN 9780312652852. $25.99.
Back in 1969, even as he was leading the University of Texas Longhorns in victory after victory on the football field,dent Nonfiction Freddie Steinmark suffered terrible pain in one leg. It turned out to be bone cancer, and his leg was amputated, but during the Cotton Bowl he appeared on crutches to cheer from the sidelines, succumbing not long after. Best-selling author Dent (The Junction Boys), who knows his Texas football‚ he covered the Dallas Cowboys for 11 years‚ tells a story that’s bigger than the Lone Star state.

Ehrmann, Joe & Gregory Jordan with Paula Ehrmann. InSideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives. S. & S. Aug. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9781439182987. $24; eISBN 9781439183007.
The most important coach of the year (Parade), named Man of the Year by the Baltimore Colts, the Frederick Douglass Society, and the National Fatherhood Initiative, and subject of Jeffrey Marx’s Season of Life (320,000 copies in print), Ehrmann tells coaches how athletics can make young men and women better, more responsible people. As founder of Building Men and Women for Others and Coach for America, with wife Paula, he should know what he’s about. A no-brainer wherever sports are strong.

Feldman, Jay. Manufacturing Hysteria: A History of Scapegoating, Surveillance, and Secrecy in Modern America. Pantheon. Aug. 2011. 416p. ISBN 9780375425349. $28.95; eISBN 9780307379863.
From the Alien and Sedition Acts to the U.S. government’s efforts to repatriate Mexicans and Mexican Americans during the Depression to Cold War red baiting, America has been good at panicking during tough times and letting fear and prejudice take the lead. The result? The squelching of civil liberties. The author of When the Mississippi Ran Backwards offers an analysis. Thought-provoking for your smart readers.

My Pick
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. A Short Autobiography. Scribner. Aug. 2011. 192p. ISBN 9781439199060. pap. $15.
At the time of his death, Fitzgerald had not published an autobiographical work of any sort‚ something almost unimaginable in today’s climate. Now James L.W. West III, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University, has gathered 19 personal essays written from 1920 to 1940 and arranged them chronologically to disclose Fitzgerald’s life story. From What I Think and Feel at 25 to One Hundred False Starts, these essays would seem to serve as an intellectual autobiography and should inspire Fitzgerald reader new or returning. With all the maundering memoirs out there, it should be a pleasure to read something like this, which carries more weight.

Glain, Stephen. State vs. Defense: The Battle to Define America’s Empire. Crown. Aug. 2011. 432p. ISBN 9780307408419. $26; eISBN 9780307888983. CD: Random Audio.
The Pentagon and the State Department have been at war for decades, and it looks as if the Pentagon is winning. As of 2010, the Pentagon had 190,000 troops and 115,000 civilian employees inside 909 military facilities in 46 countriesstate Nonfiction and territories worldwide, with a price tag of $1 trillion. That’s more than 20 percent of the federal budget and dwarfs the $200 billion spend on security by China, Russia, Cuba, Iran, and North Korea combined. Longtime journalist Glain examines the causes and consequences of this encroaching militarism. Serious reading.

Gray, Geoffrey. Skyjack: The Hunt for D.B. Cooper. Crown. Aug. 2011. 352p. ISBN 9780307451293. $25; eISBN 9780307451316. CD: Random Audio.
The only skyjacker never to be apprehended, D.B. Cooper commandeered a Northwest Orient airliner in 1971, demanded $200,000 and a parachute, leapt from the plane, and has never been seen again despite a massive manhunt. Granted access to the FBI files, Gray wrote a 2007 New York story that has reopened the case. Since Cooper has become something of a legend, there should be interest.

Heller. Erica. Yossarian Slept Here: When Joseph Heller Was Dad, the Apthorp Was Home, and Life Was a Catch-22. S. & S. Aug. 2011. 256p. ISBN 9781439197684. $25; eISBN 9781439197707.
Heller’s dad is indeed the author of the monumental Catch-22, and she grew up in New York’s posh Apthorp apartment building, where neighbors included folks like George Balanchine and Sidney Poitier. Here, Heller recalls a childhood that felt charmed despite her parents’ over-the-top divorce. Whatever the writing is like (I don’t know; Heller is an advertising copywriter with a few small novels to her credit), who wouldn’t want a close-up of Yossarian’s creator? Coming from the publisher in May, a 50th-anniversary edition of Catch-22 (ISBN 9781451621174. $25; pap. ISBN 9781451626650. $16) will include an introduction by Christopher Buckley and lots of supplementary material.

Jillette, Penn. God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales. S. & S. Aug. 2011. 256p. ISBN 9781451610369. $24.99; eISBN 9781451610383.
Jillette, one half (and billed as the louder, larger half) of famed entertainment duo Penn & Teller, definitely believes in magic. But he doesn’t believe in God. In a book that’s meant to be both thought-provoking and funny, Jillette presents his own Ten Commandments. On No. 4 (Put aside some time to rest and think), for example, he comments: If you’re religious, that might be the Sabbath; if you’re a Vegas magician, that’ll be the day with the lowest grosses. Buy where you have doubters.

Kennedy, Randall. The Persistence of the Colorline: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency. Pantheon. Aug. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9780307377890. $24.95; eISBN 9780307379801.
Harvard law professor Kennedy, former clerk to Thurgood Marshall and author of best sellers like Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word, considers racial politics in the time of the Obama presidency. Does Obama have particular responsibilities to the African American community? What’s the racial opposition to him really like? Are traditional racial politics becoming passé? These questions and more should engage the politically savvy. With a four-city tour to Boston, New York, Chicago, and Washington, DC.

Pennebaker, James W. The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us. Bloomsbury, dist. by Macmillan. Aug. 2011. 320p. ISBN 9781608194803. $35.
Psychology chair at the University of Texas, Austin, and the author of successful books like Writing To Heal,pronouns Nonfiction Pennebaker uses his own cutting-edge research in computational linguistics (which calculates word frequency) to show us what everything from classic literature to yesterday’s tweets can tell us about ourselves and our emotions. How can you not love a book that promises to reveal what William Butler Yeats and Lady Gaga have in common? For all language nuts and fans of Deborah Tannen, Stephen Pinker, and the like.

Potter, Matt. Outlaws Inc.: Under the Radar and on the Black Market with the World’s Most Dangerous Smugglers. Bloomsbury, dist. by Macmillan. Aug. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9781608195305. $25.
When communism collapses, some Russian military men get together and buy a decommissioned Soviet plane for mere kopeks, then launch a shipping business. Soon they’re crisscrossing borders with everything from illegal weapons to emergency aid, trading behind the scenes with the Taliban, the U.S. government, and various global corporations. It’s scary, but it pays, until the world settles into a new groove and their smuggling expertise isn’t in as much demand. Then they move their operations to a particularly troubled part of Africa. Okay, sounds like a thriller, but it’s all true. Widely published British journalist Potter traveled with these risk takers for a time so that he could tell their story. This should be great narrative nonfiction reading.

Streatfeild, Dominic. A History of the World Since 9/11: Disaster, Deception, and Destruction in the War on Terror. Bloomsbury, dist. by Macmillan. Aug. 2011. 432p. ISBN 9781608192700. $27.
Spawned by 9/11, the war on terror has not been a success: we haven’t found Osama bin Laden or curbed Islamic extremism, while war drags on in Afghanistan and Iraq, and many innocent people have been jailed, tortured, or killed. And it has cost three trillion dollars to date. British author Streatfeild offers a dry-eyed look at what, exactly, has gone wrong. Of interest to the politically astute; no comfort here, I think, for the conservative-minded.

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Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president of the National Book Critics Circle, to which she has just been reelected.

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