Nonfiction Previews, May 2012, Pt. 1: From Bissinger’s Fathers Day to Westin’s Exit Interview

Bissinger, Buzz. Father’s Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son. Houghton Harcourt. May 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780547816562. $26. MEMOIR
Not every father opts to take a cross-country trip with his 24-year-old son. But then Zach isn’t your ordinary son. Born just a few minutes after his twin, Jerry, Zach is a savant, in some ways intellectually limited and hence unable to live on his own yet also boasting an extraordinary memory and navigational skills and a forthrightness that makes him a charming companion. Bissinger learns a lot from his son as they visit spots across the country where the family has lived, and as author of the best-selling Friday Night Lights he has the skills to deliver it well. Any number of memoirs talk about a parent’s relationship with children facing challenges; fewer talk about such relationships with a grown child, which could make this book useful as well as moving.

Borneman, Walter R. The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King‚ The 5-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea. Little, Brown. May 2012. 512p. ISBN 9780316097840. $29.99. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. HISTORY
The United States helped win World War II through the force of its navy, establishing itself as the world’s leading sea power. The effort was led by William Leahy, Ernest King, Chester Nimitz, and William Halsey, the only men in U.S. history to achieve the five-star rank of Fleet Admiral. Respected historian Borneman, the author of 1812 and Polk, shows how they worked together to change naval warfare forever. Great for your World War II buffs.

Conville, Claire & others. The Book for Dangerous Women: A Guide to Modern Life. Grove. May 2012. 224p. ISBN 9780802120182. $20. HUMOR
Formatted tongue in cheek as a dictionary, with 500 often cross-referenced entries (e.g., Bereavement, Birthdays, BFs, Blueberries, and Bolt Holes), this advice book helps women deal with all the important issue of contemporary life, like marriage, sex, work, self-discovery‚ and how to wear cami-kickers. Experts quoted along the way include Albert Camus, Ana√Øs Nin, and Eve Ensler. Sounds like fun.

Deford, Frank. Overtime: My Life as Sportswriter. Atlantic Monthly Pr. May. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780802120151. $25. SPORTS
Deford’s life as a sportswriter, and it’s been some life. Joining Sports Illustrated in 1962, he quickly discovered fellow Princetonian Bill Bradley and Canadian Bobby Orr; eventually became editor in chief of The National Sports Daily, which bombed spectacularly; but meanwhile wrote ten novels, won both a Peabody and an Emmy, and continues to star on NPR (he just delivered his 1500th commentary). Here, Deford revisits his personal and professional lives while interweaving the story of American sportswriting from the Police Gazette to ESPN. Interesting stuff from a proven commodity.

Harper, Bob with Greg Critser. The Skinny Rules: The Simple, Nonnegotiable Principles for Getting to Thin. Ballantine. May 2012. 256p. ISBN 9780345533128. $26. eISBN 9780345533135. CD/Downloadable: Random Audio. DIET/NUTRITION
So what recommends this diet book? The numbers. Host of NBC’s The Biggest Loser, which draws nine million viewers per episode, Harper boasts 350,000 Facebook friends, 160,000 Twitter followers, and 80,000 unique visitors per month at his web site,; more than 850,000 viewers have seen his YouTube videos. He has also signed on as a Quaker Oats spokesman, so you’ll be seeing his face on 130 million Quaker Oats boxes in the months to come. For his readers, Harper condenses the usual recipes, menus, tips, and techniques into 20 (dare I say) bite-sized pieces. In demand, no matter how many diet books there are.

Jackson, Joe. Atlantic Fever: Lindbergh, His Competitors, and the Race To Cross the Atlantic. Farrar. May 2012. 592p. ISBN 9780374106751. $30. HISTORY
In 1919, a prize of $25,000 was offered to the aviator who could fly nonstop between France and America in either direction. As we know, Charles Lindbergh finally made that flight‚ and history‚ on May 20‚ 21, 1927, but he had plenty of competition. Jackson, author of the respected The Thief at the End of the World, discusses efforts to claim the prize, surveying the nearly decade-long buildup but focusing on the five weeks (from April 14 to May 21, 1927) preceding Lindbergh’s feat and the numerous contenders from around the world who missed the brass ring. History and aviation buffs will want.

Luttrell, Marcus with James D. Hornfischer. Service: A Navy SEAL at War. Little, Brown. May 2012. 352p. ISBN 9780316185363. $27.99. lrg. prnt. CD/Downloadable: Hachette Audio. SOCIAL SCIENCE/WAR
In the No. 1 best-selling Lone Survivor, Luttrell told the story of his tour of duty inAfghanistan, when he was forced to make a decision that ended tragically. He then opted for a tour of duty inIraq, helping the SEALs win one of their biggest victories ever in fearsomely dangerous Ramadi. Here he crisscrosses generations and service branches to clarify why people make the choice to serve their country‚ possibly at the cost of their lives. With a ten-city tour to Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Fort Hood, Dallas, San Diego, Norfolk, Washington, DC, Atlanta, and Pensacola; bound to be big.

Stein, Joel. Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity. Grand Central. May 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780446573122. $25.99. CD/Downloadable: Hachette Audio. MEMOIR/SOCIAL SCIENCE
Writing in the grand tradition of guys learning to be guys, Time staffer Stein (billed as one of the most widely read American columnists never to have written a book‚ until now) chronicles his efforts to overcome his more ethereal tendencies when he has a son. Among his efforts: going hunting, doing a 24-hour shift with LA firefighters, and withstanding three days of Marine Corps basic training. He also consults truly guyish guys, from his racecar-driving father-in-law to former NFL star Warren Sapp. Here is what he learned along the way. Likely entertaining with some clinching insights; note that his one million Twitter followers will be interested.

Wellington, Chrissie. A Life Without Limits. Center Street: Hachette. May 2012. 336p. ISBN 9781455505579. $24.99. SPORTS/MEMOIR
When newcomerWellington won the Ironman World Championship in 2007, the triathlon world flipped. Currently, she’s the No. 1 female Ironman athlete in the world, with multiple titles to her name. Here’s her insider’s account of training in the mountains ofNepal and the oceans ofNew Zealand, surmounting anorexia, near drowning, and the directives of a controversial coach. Along the way, she explains her training and motivational techniques‚ in case you wanted to try for the championship yourself.

Westin, David. Exit Interview. Farrar. May 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780374151218. $27. MEMOIR/JOURNALISM
Since Westin became president of ABC news in March 1997, TV journalism‚ and in fact journalism itself‚ has changed radically. Here, Westin surveys his years at ABC, touching on key events (the 2000 election, 9/11, the war inIraq) while posing important questions about journalism: Why do journalists do what they do? What, especially, do they do today? And can one be both a good journalist and a good person? (Wow!) Interesting from a lot of angles, and, I think, key reading in today’s ever-changing world.

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.