Cox, Lynne. South with the Sun: Roald Amundsen, His Polar Explorations, and the Quest for Discovery. Knopf. Sept. 2011. 320p. ISBN 9780307593405. $26; eISBN 9780307700490.
Legendary long-distance swimmer Cox here reports that reading a biography of Roald Amundsen as a child fueled her dream of open-water swimming; her best-selling Swimming to Antarctica made her realize that she was following in his footsteps, so to speak. This biography, published to coincide with the centenary of Amundsen’s reaching the South Pole, explains how carefully the explorer prepared for each venture‚ something Cox must do as well. Most books covering Amundsen focus on his race to the pole against Robert Scott, so this full-scale approach is refreshing and should be a good read. With a ten-city tour to Boston, Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Portland, St. Louis, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Di Giovanni, Janine. Ghosts by Daylight: Love, War, and Redemption. Knopf. Sept. 2011. 320p. ISBN 9780307265586; $27.95; eISBN 9780307701367.
For the last 20-plus years, Vanity Fair contributing editor Di Giovanni (Madness Visible) has been covering world hot spots from Sarajevo to Sierra Leone to Afghanistan, and for her efforts she’s won several journalism honors (e.g., a National Magazine Award). Along the way, she met and married a man named Bruno, who had been through hell and had the physical and emotional scars to prove it. Suddenly, Di Giovanni found herself caretaker to husband and newborn son‚ and terrified of the job she has always loved. Given where she’s been, what she’s done, and the quality of her previous writing, this memoir would seem to be promising.
Hendrickson, Paul. Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934‚ 1961. Knopf. Sept. 2011. 560p. ISBN 9781400041626. $30; eISBN 9780307700537.
Fifty years after Ernest Hemingway’s death, Hendrickson profiles the great writer from the height of his career onward by focusing on his constant return for fun and solace to his beloved boat, Pilar. Sounds a bit offbeat, but Hendrickson has the credentials to pull it off; his Sons of Mississippi, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award, made good history out of a single photograph of seven segregation-era sheriffs with a billy club, and his other books have been major award finalists as well. With a five-city tour to Key West, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.
Jennings, Ken. Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks. Scribner. Sept. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9781439167175. $25; eISBN 9781439167199.
I love maps, so this tale of geography nuts, from London map fair attendees to Google Earth programmers to grade-school National Geographic Bee contenders, appeals to me. But there are plenty of other mapheads out there, and Jennings already has a lasting reputation as a record-winning Jeopardy! contender, netting $2.52 million over 74 games. Plus he’s author of the best-selling Brainiac. All of which recommends this book.
Lindsay-Hogg, Michael. Luck and Circumstance: A Coming of Age in Hollywood, New York, and Points Beyond. Knopf. Sept. 2010. 304p. ISBN 9780307594686. $26; eISBN 9780307701497.
Son of actress Geraldine Fitzgerald (e.g., Dark Victory), surrounded by Hollywood’s elite from an early age, and then introduced to theater when his mother worked on Broadway, famed director Lindsay-Hogg (Brideshead Revisited, Agnes of God) should have a fascinating memoir to offer. At its heart is the sneaking suspicion, set off by an offhand comment about his mother’s affair with Orson Welles, that he is actually Welles’s son. For all your movie-mad (especially old-movie-mad) readers; a three-city tour to Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, plus other media appearances.
Myers, Betsy. Take the Lead: Motivate, Inspire, and Bring Out the Best in Yourself and Everyone Around You. Atria. Sept. 2011. 256p. ISBN 9781439160671. $25; eISBN 9781439163955.
Myers has served as a senior official in the Clinton administration, COO of Obama’s presidential campaign, and executive director of Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership, so she should know what motivates and inspires people. Here she sums it up for the rest of us. Hope it’s fresh.
Nasar, Sylvia. Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius. S. & S. Sept. 2011. 554p. ISBN 9780684872988. $32. CD: Random Audio.
Nasar moves from A Beautiful Mind‚ a best seller, a National Book Critics Circle award winner, and the basis of the Academy Award‚ winning film‚ to a grand pursuit: the invention of modern economics, essentially begun when Charles Dickens and Henry Mayhew set out to detail the suffering of London’s multitudinous poor. Marx, Engels, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, and others then took up the call to make humankind responsible for its own material fate. Nasar has the skill to make this an engrossing story even for those of us who can barely count. Expect a wide audience.
Pearl Jam. Pearl Jam Twenty. S. & S. Sept. 2011. 256p. ISBN 9781439169216. $35.
Pearl Jam started back in 1991 with the album Ten, which sold 13 million copies; its latest, 2009’s self-released Backspacer, debuted in Billboard’s top slot. So, yeah, not just history; Pearl Jam continues to define alternative rock. Academy Award‚ winning director Cameron Crowe is even doing a Pearl Jam film‚ a coup, because this band would rather play than posture. The book features anecdotes, memorabilia, photos, tour notes, and drawing, giving a sort of there-at-the-creation feel, and Crowe does the intro. Look for the book and the film around the same time; should be big.
Pinsky, Drew. Recovering Intimacy. Atria: S. & S. Sept. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9781415605716. $26; eISBN 9781451605730.|What makes life worth living? Intimacy, says famed doctor, best-selling author (The Mirror Effect), and television host Pinsky (Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew). If you need to know why your bonds to your nearest and dearest are cracking and what can be done about it, and you think a book will help, pay this doctor a visit. Lots of promotion with the author’s crammed social media.
Smith, Amanda. Newspaper Titan: The Infamous Life and Monumental Times of Cissy Patterson. Knopf. Sept. 2011. 720p. ISBN 9780375411007. $35; eISBN 9780307701510.
An heiress from Chicago’s Gold Coast (her grandfather founded the privileged Lake Forest enclave), Cissy Patterson got free of a disastrous marriage in middle age; rescued the ailing Washington Herald, a Hearst property; then merged it with another Hearst paper, the Washington Times, and became editor, publisher, and sole proprietor of the Washington Times-Herald. Oh, and she hated FDR and was all for appeasing Hitler. Fascinating life, and at time when the entire news-scape is in convulsions, it’s insightful to see how newspapers were once made and managed. With a three-city tour to Chicago, New York, and Washington, DC.
White, Carrie. Upper Cut: A Memoir. Atria. Sept. 2011. 400p. ISBN 9781439199091. $26; eISBN 9781439199114.
This isn’t just a memoir of White’s days as hairdresser to the stars, though she does talk about working with Richard Avedon on Vogue shoots, doing Sharon Tate’s hair for her wedding, and partying with Jim Morrison and Jimmy Hendrix. White also wants to examine how her alcoholic mother and sexually abusive stepfather damaged her life‚ she had five kids by three husbands before she was 28 and lost nearly everything to drink and drug addiction before sobering up definitively. A sad and familiar story, with Hollywood gilt that should interest many.
Wright, Robin. Rock the Casbah: How Sheikhs, Comedians, Rappers, and Women Are Challenging Osama bin Laden. S. & S. Sept. 2011. 320p. ISBN 9781439103166. $26.99.
You’ve heard this complaint before: why don’t Muslims challenge the violent extremists among them? Well, they are, explains leading journalist Wright‚ and she should know. An Overseas Club and U.N. Correspondents Association Gold Medal winner for her coverage of foreign affairs, she’s reported from 140 countries, with a special focus on the Muslim world; her most recent book was Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East. Here she cites the clerics, comedians, and rappers who all challenge al Qaeda violence; the women who are launching liberation movements; and the former jihadis who openly discuss the rejection of violence. She further points out that these Muslims all want to build a better Islam‚ on their own, not Western, terms. Just like the current protesters in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya‚ and now Oman; as the New York Times notes this morning, they’re leaving al Qaeda in the dust. Utterly relevant and sure to be engrossing; this is one fall book I want to see now.