Nonfiction Previews, Jun. 2012, Pt. 2: Chandrasekaran on Afghanistan, Samuelsson on Cooking

Bennett, Amanda. The Cost of Hope. Random. Jun. 2012. 240p. ISBN 9781400069842. $26; eISBN 9780679604846. MEMOIR/HEALTHCARE
Not your standard memoir. Yes, Bennett is a Pulitzer Prize‚ winning journalist, currently executive editor at Bloomberg and cochair of the Pulitzer Prize board. And, yes, she writes about her marriage to the wacky, delightful Terrence and their struggle when he was diagnosed with cancer. But after Terrence’s death she requested his medical records and learned something about how medical costs are set that she wants to share with us all. A 30,000-copy first printing; not fluff.

Chandrasekaran, Rajiv. Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan. Knopf. Jun. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780307967146. $27.95; eISBN 9780307958425. Downloadable: Random Audio. CURRENT EVENTS
Having taken on America’s pie-in-the-sky planning for the occupation of Iraq in Life in the Emerald City, an Overseas Press Club Book Award winner, Chandrasekaran is well equipped to consider the war within the war in southern Afghanistan in the year of Obama’s surge. There, the military parted ways with President Obama’s directives as nation building gave way to compromise and tacit acceptance of corruption. Important documentation that I hope readers aren’t too jaded to consider; with a 100,000-copy first printing.

Cohen, Andy. Here’s What: Stories from the Front Lines of Pop Culture. Holt. Jun. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780805095838. $25. MEMOIR/PERFORMING ARTS
Bravo’s executive vice president of original programming and development, Cohen is the man who gave us Real Housewives. Here he talks about his enduring love for television (as a kid, he wrote home from camp to remind his mother to record the soaps) and his experiences as a gay man. Go for it, pop fans.

Keen, Andrew. Digital Vertigo: How Today’s Online Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us. St. Martin’s. Jun. 2012. 272p. ISBN 9780312624989. $25.99. TECHNOLOGY/SOCIAL SCIENCE
Social-media networking is supposed to be bringing us closer together. But in fact, argues Keen, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who writes regularly for venues from the Weekly Standard to Jazziz, it ends up dividing rather than uniting us; the desire for individualistic expression (it’s all about me) trumps efforts at community building. An informed contrarian; keep your eye out.

McDermott, Terry & Josh Meyer, The Hunt for KSM. Little, Brown. Jun. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9780316186599. $27.99. CURRENT EVENTS
Responsible for al-Qaeda’s recruitment, training, and terrorism, Khalid Sheik Mohammad is considered the chief architect of the 9/11 attacks; he was captured in March 2003 by American and Pakistani intelligence agents and remains in the Guantánamo Bay detention camp. This story of his capture is based on hundreds of interviews conducted by journalist McDermott (Perfect Soldiers), author of an eye-opening piece on KSM (as he is known) in The New Yorker, and Pulitzer Prize winner Meyer, whose Inside al Qaeda series ran in the Los Angeles Times. Serious politicos will want this.

McMillan, Tracy. Why You’re Not Married: Straight Talk You Need To Get the Relationship You Deserve. Ballantine. Jun. 2012. 256p. ISBN 9780345532923. $25; eISBN 9780345532930. RELATIONSHIPS
McMillan has two interesting qualifications for writing this book. First, her Huffington Post piece on the subject is the fourth most viewed in Huffington history, having hit 1.4 million views and counting. Second, she has been married three times herself and has some idea of what went wrong. Pretty no-nonsense; one chapter called You’re a Bitch examines issues of anger and fear. Given the popularity of the original piece and the subject itself, this looks like a strong purchase.

Samuelsson, Marcus. Yes, Chef. Random. Jun. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780385342605. $26; eISBN 9780440338819. CD: Random Audio. MEMOIR/FOOD
Orphaned in Ethiopia, raised by an adoptive family in Sweden, the youngest chef ever to be given three stars by the New York Times, and recent proprietor of Red Rooster in Harlem, James Beard Award‚ winning chef Samuelsson has some story to tell. Yes, food memoirs are sizzling, Samuelsson has 30,000 Twitter followers, and the issues here go beyond eating‚ Samuelsson considers what it’s like to be a black man in the white-white world of upscale cooking.

Sennett, Frank. Groupon’s Biggest Deal Ever: The Inside Story of How One Insane Gamble, Tons of Unbelievable Hype, and Millions of Wild Deals Made Billions for One Ballsy Joker. St. Martin’s. Jun. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9781250000842. $25.99. ECONOMICS
A discount service offering a deal a day at local merchants in cities worldwide, Groupon was founded by Andrew Mason, who turned down a $6 billion buyout offer from Google in 2010 and is now an online behemoth worth $30 billion. Groupon is now reputedly the fastest-growing company in Internet history. Sennett, who is Time Out Chicago‘s editor in chief, profiles the company and risk-taker Mason. If you want to stay au courant.

Shriver, Mark. A Good Man: Rediscovering My Father, Sarge Shriver. Holt. Jun. 2012. 240p. ISBN 9780805095302. $24; CD: Macmillan Audio. MEMOIR
Sargent Shriver founded the Peace Corps and helped bring about President Johnson’s War on Poverty, but this is not an account of his accomplishments. Instead, son Mark portrays a kind and good man whose daily behavior was shaped by the principles articulated here, which the author determined through conversations and examination of notes and letters after his father’s death. A heart warmer.

Stott, Rebecca. Darwin‘s Ghosts. Spiegel & Grau. Jun. 2012. 400p. ISBN 9781400069378. $27; eISBN 9780679604136. SCIENCE
There’s so much that’s intriguing about this book. First, the subject: Stott points out that evolution was not an idea dreamed up by Charles Darwin but evolved (pardon the expression) over millennia. Here she provides the history of an idea, starting with Aristotle and working up through the Arab world to the 1859 publication of On the Origin of Species. Second, Stott is not a scientist, which at first gave me pause, but a noteworthy novelist (Ghostwalk) and English literature professor. But she’s proved her science bona fides with the well-received Darwin and the Barnacle, and her writing skills should enhance the telling of this tale.

Stutz, Phil & Barry Michels. The Tools. Spiegel & Grau. Jun. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780679644446. $25; eISBN 9780679644453. CD: Random Audio. SELF-HELP/PSYCHOLOGY
Frustrated with how long standard therapy takes‚ the complaint of plenty of patients, too‚ psychotherapist Michels turned to Stutz, a psychiatrist who had devised a set of tools aimed at bringing about quick, decisive change. The results have been good enough to bring the authors a New Yorker profile, and because their Los Angeles‚ based practices bring celebrity patients as well, testimonials are promised that will surely drive readership. For me, though, the idea of rapid improvement instead of just talk, talk, talk is what appeals. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Tye, Larry. Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero. Random. Jun. 2012. 448p. ISBN 9781400068661. $27; eISBN 9781588369185. CD: Random Audio. POP CULTURE/HISTORY
The best-selling author of Satchel, about Negro Leagues pitcher Satchel Paige, here profiles a very different kind of American hero‚ one that is in fact imaginary. But as Tye shows, Superman both reflected and affected the American psyche tremendously. Tye uses his skills as a former Boston Globe reporter to interview over 300 people involved with the Superman story and even gives us some little-known facts about this hero‚ for instance, he’s Jewish. Now that should get people to read the book.


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.