Nonfiction Previews, January 2012, Pt. 5: Gangsters, Europe, and the Universe

Ablow, Keith. Inside the Mind of Casey Anthony. St. Martin’s. Nov. 2011. 256p. ISBN 9781250009142. $25.99. TRUE CRIME
This just in: Ablow, a best-selling author, Fox News contributor, and board-certified forensic psychiatrist who has evaluated numerous killers, relies on individual interviews and thousands of pages of documents to profile Casey Anthony and to attempt an explanation of her daughter’s death. Interest in this case won’t subside soon, and Ablow’s reputation will help this book along.

Beck, Martha. Finding Your Way in a Wild New World: Reclaiming Your True Nature. Free Pr: S. & S. Jan. 2012. 272p. ISBN 9781451624489. $26. SELF-HELP
Beck, a life coach and O columnist responsible for such best sellers as Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant To Live, here tries something a little different. She wants us to learn to help ourselves in part by helping others, taking four Steps for Transformation: wordlessness, oneness, imagination, and creation. The publisher is currently positioned Beck for a push back into the public eye, so expect some fuss.

Brawley, Otis Webb, MD, & Paul Goldberg. How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America. St. Martin’s. Jan. 2012. 256p. ISBN 9780312672973. $25.99. HEALTH/MEDICINE
Chief medical and scientific officer and executive vice president of the American Cancer Society, Brawley speaks with authority. What he has to say: we need to sanction results-based, scientifically reproducible medical treatments in America, where the rich are overtreated, the poor are undertreated, and doctors daily face conflicts of interest that would shock us out of our hospital gowns. Take a good look.

Covey, Stephen M.R. & Gordon Link. Smart Trust: How People, Companies, and Countries Are Prospering from High Trust in a Low Trust World. Free Pr: S. & S. Jan. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9781451651454. $27. CD: S. & S. Audio. SELP-HELP/BUSINESS
Cofounder and CEO of CoveyLink Worldwide and a leading keynote speaker (not to be confused with his famous Seven Habits dad), Covey addresses a virtue that’s eroded considerably in today’s back-stabbing, phone-hacking world: trust. Covey argues that it’s the foundation for any relationship, personal, political, or business. This will attract lots of readers.

Fitzpatrick, Robert & Jon Land. Betrayal. Forge: Tor. Jan. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780765335500. 14.99. TRUE CRIME
Finally arrested in June 2011, fugitive South Boston gangster James Whitey Bulger, among the scariest gang lords in the nation, was on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for 16 years. Veteran FBI agent Fitzpatrick swore to get him but was stymied by corruption within his own agency; Bulger had served as an informant in exchange for protection. Here Fitzgerald joins with best-selling thriller writer Land to tell a story that sounds pretty distressing.

Hellwarth, Ben. Sealab: America’s Forgotten Quest To Live and Work on the Ocean Floor. S. & S. Jan. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780743247450. $28. SCIENCE
Delayed from August 2010, this book documents U.S. Navy efforts to build underwater stations that divers could inhabit for extended periods, a program that’s overshadowed in our memories by the space race.

Krauss, Lawrence M. A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing. Free Pr: S. & S. Jan. 2012. 256p. ISBN 9781451624458. $24.99. SCIENCE
Famed cosmologist Krauss, both a science popularizer (he wrote the best-selling The Physics of Star Trek) and director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University, takes us back to the creation of the universe to show that the question Why is there something rather than nothing? is not philosophical or religious but essentially scientific. He then takes us forward to the possible end. Along the way, as Krauss explains, new scientific discoveries show that something not only can but must come from nothing, so it’s no surprise that Richard Dawkins calls this perhaps the most important scientific study with implications for atheism since Darwin’s work. And Krauss himself says Forget Jesus. The stars died so you could be born. Bound to touch off a few fireworks.

Laqueur, Walter. After the Fall: The End of the European Dream and the Decline of a Continent. St. Martin’s. Jan. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9781250000088. $26.99. HISTORY
With several European economies so wobbly that they threaten to bring down the entire Continent and terrorism (homegrown or not) an urgent issue, Europe is begging for a good, hard look. And that’s what esteemed historian Laqueur gives it. Director of London’s Institute of Contemporary History, Laqueur foreshadowed Europe’s current difficulties six years ago with the publication of The Last Days of Europe. Here he shows what’s roiling the waters, from dependence on imported oil and gas to the absence of a common foreign policy. Definitely consider for high-end readers.

Leleux, Robert. The Living End: A Family Memoir of Forgetting and Forgiving. St. Martin’s. Jan. 2012. 160p. ISBN 9780312621247. $19.99. MEMOIR
Leleux’s gutsy, blackly funny The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy starred his over-the-top mom, obsessed with shopping, surgical makeovers, and finding a husband to replace the one who had decamped. This new memoir focuses on Leleux’s grandmother, JoAnn, estranged from her daughter and slowly caving in to Alzheimer’s. Because of her disease, JoAnn begins forgetting her bitterness and its root causes, allowing for some reconciliation. A likely candidate wherever memoirs are popular.

Powell, Margaret. Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid’s Memoir That Inspired Upstairs, Downstairs and Downtown Abbey. Thomas Dunne Bks: St. Martin’s. Jan. 2012. 192p. ISBN 9781250005441. $22.99. MEMOIR/HISTORY
Now that Upstairs, Downstairs fans have enjoyed the updated version, which aired in April 2011, it’s good to consider the source. Born in 1907, Powell began working at age 13, soon becoming a kitchen maid and eventually cook in a grand old home. Her 1968 memoir, now being reissued (Powell died in 1984), brought her fame and led to the PBS Masterpiece classic. Yes, great fun but also the personal details of history that are often hidden. With a reading group guide.

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. Sara Levine says:

    Thanks so much for the mention of the forthcoming Treasure Island!!!. I should clarify, however, that it is not a work of nonfiction nor being marketed as such. It’s a novel.