Bastianich, Lidia Matticchio & Tanya Bastianich Manuali. Lidia’s Italy in America. Knopf. Oct. 2011. 432p. ISBN 9780307595676. $35; eISBN 9780307700612.
Five of restaurateur Bastianich’s first six cookbooks were companions to nationally syndicated public television series, and her next follows suit (look for the series in fall 2011). Here, she joins with her daughter, who has a Ph.D. in Renaissance art history from Oxford, to explore Italian American cuisine. Muffaletta sandwiches from New Orleans? New York’s Neapolitan pizza crust? Sounds yummy and will sell lots; with a 150,000-copy first printing.

Blanford, Nicholas. Warriors of God. Random. Oct. 2011. 304p. ISBN 9781400068364. $26; eISBN 9780679605164.
The Beirut correspondent of the London Times and the Christian Science Monitor, Blanford has been called the leading expert on Hezbollah‚ by 60 Minutes, no less, so I guess I have to believe it. Expect an eye-popping account; Blanford had access to the militant Shia organization’s insiders.

Brenner, Joel. America the Vulnerable: New Technology and the Next Threat to National Security. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Oct. 2011. 352p. ISBN 9781594203138. $27.95. CD: Penguin Audio.
The Chinese steal a radar system from the U.S. Navy. Hackers download privileged intelligence from laptops in Iraq. Corporations each lose an average of five million dollars’ worth of intellectual property yearly to cybertheft. Brenner, a former senior counsel at the National Security Agency, argues that we have done nowhere near enough to protect our government, our industries, and ourselves from the security risks posed by the Internet. Just thinking about this scares me; well worth reading, hope folks pay attention.

Casey, Nell, ed. The Journals of Spalding Gray. Knopf. Oct. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9780307273451. $28.95; eISBN ISBN 9780307700520.
Gray originated the autobiographical monolog (think Swimming to Cambodia), but these journals are evidently even more revealing. Begun when Gray was 25, they cover his childhood, love affairs, marriage, children, and travels, as well as his experiences as a significant part of the 1970s New York art scene and his struggle with depression even as he sought determinedly for success. Award-winning editor Casey (An Uncertain Inheritance) rifled through 5000 pages of text and further interviewed Gray’s associates to offer this document seven years after Gray took his own life. With a 35,000-copy first printing.

Curtis, James. Spencer Tracy: A Biography. Knopf. Oct. 2011. 1056p. ISBN 9780307262899. $39.95; eISBN 9780307595225.
Having profiled W.C. Fields and Preston Sturges, among others, Curtis here turns to quintessential actor Spencer Tracy. From Tracy’s 73 films to his Catholic faith, battles with alcohol, and longtime affair with Katharine Hepburn, it’s all here‚ or had better be, given the astonishing 1000-plus pages. Tracy’s daughter gave Curtis unparalleled access to the actor’s journals and papers. For all film nuts; with a three-city tour to Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco and a 60,000-copy first printing.

Davis, Wade. Into the Silence. Knopf. Oct. 2011. 672p. ISBN 9780375408892. $35; eISBN 9780307700568. CD: Random Audio.
A celebrated anthropologist who’s currently National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Davis here details Britain’s protracted efforts to reach the top of Mount Everest. To explain this ambition, he looks back to 19th-century imperial ambitions and the enormous sense of loss following World War I. Everest always fascinates, and this is about more than climbing; with a 75,000-copy first printing and a six-city tour to Denver, New York, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

Glenny, Misha. DarkMarket: Cyberthieves, Cybercops and You. Knopf. Oct. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9780307592934. $26.95; eISBN ISBN 9780307700551.
A former BBC Central Europe correspondent whose many books include Overseas Press Club Award winner The Fall of Yugoslavia, Glenny explores the escalating phenomenon of cybercrime, which government and industry annually spend billions to fight. He speaks not only to police, lawyers, and victims but to the hackers themselves and, refreshingly, offers some solutions. Read with Joel Brenner’s America the Vulnerable: New Technology and the Next Threat to National Security, previewed above; with a five-city tour to Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC: a 60,000-copy first printing.

Hakakian, Roya. Assassins of the Turquoise Palace. Grove. Sept. 2011. 320p. ISBN 9780802119117. $25.
In September 1992, several members of the Iranian and Kurdish opposition were assassinated in a small Berlin restaurant. Though German officials were quick to suspect Saddam Hussein or even a rival opposition group, a survivor of the shooting and a widow of one of the victims joined with reporters, attorneys, and other exiles to show that Iran was culprit; over 100 Iranian exiles have in fact vanished or been killed since Ayatollah Khomeini’s rise to power in 1979. Astonishingly, as shown by Hakakian, a former associate producer of 60 Minutes, Iran was eventually brought to trial. Sobering reading for the politically minded; with a six-city tour to Boston, New York, Washington, DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Inskeep, Steve. Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Oct. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9781594203152. $27.95.
Instant? In fact, megacities keep mushrooming up in our overcrowded world, seemingly overnight. Inskeep, cohost of NPR’s Morning Edition, uses Karachi as an example. In 1941, it was a sleepy port town of 350,000; now it’s home to more than 13 million, sharply and often violently divided over religion, ethnicity, and politics yet noted for innovative projects aimed at helping the poor help themselves regarding health care, sanitation, and education. So much literature on the Middle East, but this has that NPR advantage, and going behind the bloody headlines to see the real city is refreshing. With a national tour.

Katz, Jon. Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die. Villard. Oct. 2011. 176p. ISBN 9780345502698. $22; eISBN 9780345529282.
Katz has written seven novels and 12 works of nonfiction focused mostly on the lives of animals, particularly those on Bedlam Farm, where he lives in upstate New York. Now he offers a book on coping with a pet’s dying. For the country’s 77.5 million dog owners and 93.6 million cat owners, this account of the essential grieving process should be extremely helpful. With a five-city author tour and outreach to libraries.

Marlantes, Karl. What It Is Like To Go to War. Atlantic Monthly. Sept. 2011. 448p. ISBN 9780802119926. $25.95.
Marlantes is author of one of last year’s success stories, Matterhorn, a first novel about Vietnam literally decades in the making that was both an award winner (e.g., Center for Fiction First Novel Award) and a New York Times best seller. His new book is a nonfiction account of the shattering experience of being a 22-year-old second lieutenant trying to survive the fighting and later trying to reconcile himself to having had to kill and having had to watch comrades die. He argues that today’s young soldiers are no longer emotionally prepared for war, as they once were through ritual, religion, and literature. For anyone concerned with the consequences of Vietnam and, more broadly, war itself, which is a lot of readers; with a 14-city tour to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Kansas City, Denver, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland.

My Pick
Montefiore, Simon Sebag. Jerusalem: The Biography. Knopf. Oct. 2011. 672p. ISBN 9780307266514. $35; eISBN 9780307594488. CD: Random Audio.
There at the creation of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Jerusalem‚ now more than ever‚ is central to the history of the world. Montefiore has hit on an intriguing way to tell the city’s story, recounting the lives of individuals who have shaped it. That’s a smart approach from someone whose Young Stalin won a passel of biography awards (Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Costa Biography Award, and le Grand Prix de la biographie politique). Montefiore’s personages range from King David, Jesus, and Muhammad, to Cleopatra and King Hussein, to Sir Moses Montefiore, a proto-Zionist and the author’s ancestor who in the 1860s helped found the first new Jewish settlements in Palestine, just outside Jerusalem’s city wall. An important topic, and Montefiore is a felicitous writer. With a four-city tour to Boston, Miami, New York, and Washington, DC; a 60,000-copy first printing.

Moynihan, John McC. The Voyage of the Rose City. Spiegel & Grau. Oct. 2011. 256p. ISBN 9780812982435. $22; eISBN 9780679643814.
Son of the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Moynihan died suddenly just a few years ago, still in his forties. One summer between college semesters, he signed up for the merchant marine, getting the adventure he had hoped for while also contending with pirates, high seas, his fellow mariners’ lack of trust, and immense drinking bouts while in port. His father loved the account Moynihan subsequently wrote, but his mother was shocked by how dangerous his adventure sounded, revisiting the manuscript only after his death and binding 100 copies for friends. The response prompted her to arrange for publication. This should be absorbing and, in retrospect, poignant reading; the illustrations are animator Moynihan’s own.

My Pick
Naifeh, Steven & Gregory White Smith. Van Gogh: The Life. Random. Oct. 2011. 800p. ISBN 9780375507489. $40.
It’s nice that this book was written with the cooperation of the Vincent Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and that the BBC has signed on to do a series on the book’s making. It’s even more intriguing that revelations about Van Gogh’s life and death are promised, as are a 32-page color insert and 100 black-and-white illustrations. And it’s a special thrill for me, having just had my breath taken away‚ again‚ by the Van Gogh collection in Paris’s Musée d’Orsay. But what really sells me on this book is that Naifeh (responsible for numerous titles with coauthor and fellow Harvard Law grad Smith) wrote the Pulitzer Prize‚ winning Jackson Pollock. Though Van Gogh is iconic, his life is essentially represented now by collections of letters and a few dated bios. Hoping for the energy of The Starry Night. With a seven-city tour to Boston, New York, Washington, DC, Dallas, Denver, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Rodgers, Nile. Le Freak: The Life and Times of Nile Rodgers. Spiegel & Grau. Oct. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9780385529655. $26; eISBN 9780679644033.
A musician, composer, arranger, and producer, Rodgers has sold millions of albums and hung out with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Madonna, Michael Jackson, the B52s, and Laurie Anderson. So this memoir promises to be good and juicy. A real insider’s account from the guy responsible for Like a Virgin and Love Shack; buy wherever pop music books move.

Sachs, Jeffrey. The Mindful Society: Economics and Ethics After the Fall. Random. Oct. 2011. 256p. ISBN 9781400068418. $27; eISBN 9780679605027. CD: Random Audio.
Having traveled to more than 100 countries to help address their economic problems, Sachs‚ director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute and special adviser to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as author of the best-selling The End of Poverty‚ here returns to home base. He looks at American-style capitalism and proclaims that something’s gotta give; it has nearly wrecked us and has certainly wreaked havoc worldwide. Fortunately, he’s got suggestions for reform meant to bring us to a common ground, which I hope is not just wishful thinking. With an eight-city tour to New York, Boston, Washington, DC, Chicago, Dallas, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Siegel, Daniel J., M.D., & Tina Payne Bryson. The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies To Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Thrive. Delacorte. Oct. 2011. 208p. ISBN 9780553807912. $25; eISBN 9780553907254.
A professor of clinical psychiatry at UCLA’s School of Medicine whose Parenting from the Inside Out was a big book, Siegel argues that youngsters have tantrums because their right and left brain coordination is not yet fixed. Here, joined by pediatric and adolescent psychotherapist Bryson, he uses anecdotes and illustrations to offer parents 12 strategies for keeping things calm by understanding their child’s still-developing brain. Anything that helps.

Tomalin, Claire. Charles Dickens. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Oct. 2011. 496p. ISBN 9781594203091. $35.
Noted literary biographer Tomalin having won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography, the Hawthornden Prize, the NCR Book Award for Non-Fiction, and the Whitbread Biography Award, I don’t think we’ll have much quarrel with her life of Charles Dickens. Tomalin aims to show us that the perspicacious creator of Little Nell and Tiny Tiny was a genius, yes, but also a stormy type whose obsessions drove him from family and friends. Essential if you’ve got literary readers.

Weir, Alison. Mary Boleyn. Ballantine. Oct. 2011. 432p. ISBN 9780345521330. $28; eISBN 9780345521354.
She was the other Boleyn girl, as Philippa Gregory styled her, and the lover of both Francis I of France and Henry VIII of England. Mary Boleyn has been called victim and whore but remains resolutely enigmatic; in the end, she married for love. The author of serious nonfiction (The Lady in the Tower) and juicy fiction (Innocent Traitor) about Tudor England, Weir has a good chance of bringing her alive. With a tour by request and decent if not overwhelming promotion.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @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, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.


  1. Dubiel says:

    Thanks for nice post, bookmarked this….