Nonfiction Previews, July 2012, Pt. 3: Saving Rhinos, Seeing Palestine

Anthony, Lawrence & Graham Spence. The Last Rhinos: My Battle To Save One of the World’s Greatest Creatures. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9781250004512. $25.99. NATURE/WILDLIFE
If the Northern White Rhino dies out, it will be the largest mammal since the woolly mammoth to pass from existence. And not so long ago, Anthony (The Elephant Whisperer), winner of a UN Earth Day Award for his work at a South African wildlife reserve, found that only 15 White Rhinos were left in the wild. Alas, they lived in a part of Uganda controlled by the violently subversive Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), but the savvy and persevering Anthony managed to convince the LRA to protect the rhinos‚ and ended up as a chief negotiator between the LRA and the Uganda government. The conservation aspect is important enough, but the political aspect is truly persuasive.

Barghouti, Mourid. I was Born There, I Was Born Here. Walker. Jul. 2012. 240p. ISBN 9780802779977. $25. MEMOIR
Esteemed Palestinian poet Barghouti has lived a life of relentless exile. Forced out of Israel after the Six-Day War, he lived in Egypt and then Hungary, not returning to visit Palestine until 1996, which for a moment became here again, not there. As recounted here, he went back again to introduce his Cairo-born son, Tamim, to his Palestinian relatives. After they returned to Egypt, Tamim was arrested for protesting against the Iraq War and was held in the same prison cell his father had occupied before he was expelled for a time from Egypt. At first glance meditative and pointed; for anyone interested in the Middle East.

Carr, Cynthia. Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz. Bloomsbury USA. Jul 2012. 448p. ISBN 9781596915336. $30. BIOGRAPHY/ARTS
Arts journalist Carr offers a first biography of cutting-edge artist David Wojnarowicz, denizen of the 1970s‚ 80s East Village arts scene, who with colleagues like Keith Haring, Nan Goldin, and Jean-Michel Basquiat remade the art world (and our world), then died of AIDS in 1992 at age 37. He was in the news in December 2010 when the National Gallery in Washington removed a part of his A Fire in My Belly after protests from the Catholic League. For smart readers.

Harris, Jake & Josh Harris with Steve Springer. Captain Harris: The Daring and Dramatic Life of a Crab Boat King. S. & S. Jul. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9781451666045. $25; eISBN 9781451666083. MEMOIR
Star of the Discovery Channel’s popular Deadliest Catch, a fisherman for 32 years and captain and co-owner of the Cornelia Marie, which plied the Bering Strait in search of king crab, Phil Harris died in February 2010 from stroke and heart failure. He was only 53. His sons, authors Jake and Josh, who also worked the deck of the Cornelia Marie, tell the story of a tough but loving father and his tough and tempestuous life. Intriguing, though perhaps best for those who have seen the show.

Kirby, David. Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9781250002020. $26.99; eISBN 9781250008312. NATURE/ANIMAL RIGHTS
SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau’s death in 2010 after being attacked by a killer whale made headlines, but the story goes deeper. As Kirby shows, marine biologist and animal advocate Naomi Rose had already spent two decades challenging SeaWorld’s captivity of killer whales as dangerous to both whales and humans, and the attack on Brancheau was just one of many that have occurred at marine mammal parks nationwide. Lives are at stake here, and Kirby can be trusted to tell the story, having won a passel of awards for his investigate work in Evidence of Harm.

Lawson, Guy. Octopus: Sam Israel, the Secret Market, and Wall Street’s Wildest Con. Crown. Jul. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9780307716071. $26; eISBN 9780307716095. BUSINESS/TRUE CRIME
When managers of the Bayou Hedge Fund were shown to have overstated gains, understated losses, and misappropriated funds for personal use, founder Sam Israel committed suicide by leaping off the Bear Mountain Bridge. No, not really, he just faked his death‚ the way he faked everything else‚ in an effort to avoid the long prison sentence that was eventually handed down. Rolling Stone investigative journalist Lawson got exclusive access to Israel. Get ready to have your blood boil.

Mahama, John Dramani. My First Coup d’Etat: And Other True Stories from the Lost Decades of Africa. Bloomsbury USA. Jul 2012. 288p. ISBN 9781608198597. $24. MEMOIR/CURRENT EVENTS
Not every vice-president writes good books, but Mahama seems to be a different kind of vice-president. Using memoir, fable, and political and social analysis, he offers a meditation on his country, Ghana, and its meteoric rise from the postcolonial ashes while also pondering the human condition. Touted as not just politics as usual but deeply literary in voice and intent; worth watching.

Marmorstein, Gary. A Ship Without A Sail: The Life of Lorenz Hart. S. & S. Jul. 2012. 416p. ISBN 9781416594253. $30; eISBN 9781416598435. BIOGRAPHY/MUSIC
Imagine a world without Blue Moon or My Funny Valentine. Imagine Richard Rodgers without Lorenz Hart. Not possible, and arts journalist Marmorstein (Hollywood Rhapsody) gives a full-scale account of the lyricist, infusing his text with plenty of Hart’s own magical words.

Neel, Armon, Jr. & Bill Hogan. Are Your Prescriptions Killing You?: How to Prevent Dangerous Interactions, Avoid Deadly Side Effects, and Be Healthier with Fewer Drugs. Atria: S. & S. Jul. 2012. 256p. ISBN 9781451608397. $25; eISBN 9781451608410. HEALTH/MEDICINE Prescription drugs cause an estimated 100,000 deaths a year in this country and lead to injury requiring hospitalization for another 1.5 million people. Most of the victims are older folks. So this book by board-certified pharmacist Armon and investigative journalist Hogan, who have both had work featured in AARP Bulletin, could not be more timely or important.

Roig-Franzia, Manuel. Marco Rubio: A Biography. S. & S. Jul. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9781451675450. $25; eISBN 9781451675474. BIOGRAPHY
Florida freshman senator Marco Rubio was just in the news for withdrawing his support for the Protect Intellectual Property Act, which he had originally cosponsored. But before that he had already been called things like the crown prince of the Tea Party movement and the Michael Jordan of Republican politics. LJ‘s recent book-buying survey suggests that books on politics aren’t so hot in libraries right now, but if they’re still bubbling where you are, definitely consider, especially where political beliefs are right.

Rubin, Gretchen. Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life. Crown Archetype. Jul. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780307886781$26. SELF-HELP
Former editor in chief of the Yale Law Review and then a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Rubin decided that she’d rather be writing and produced books like the best-selling Forty Ways To Look at Winston Churchill. Then she decided that happiness was her goal and launched her own personal happiness project, followed by The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun. Here’s a follow-up to that book, generally regarded as smart and entertaining.

Shlaes, Amity. Coolidge. Harper: HarperCollins. Jul. 2012. 480p. ISBN 9780061967559. $27.99; eISBN 9780062097972. CD: Harper Audio. BIOGRAPHY
Director of the George W. Bush Institute’s economic growth project and author of the New York Times best-selling The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, Shlaes offers a sympathetic biography of our 30th president, comparing him to Abraham Lincoln and presenting him as a model to emulate during these economically stressed times. One biography that might provoke fierce discussion in book clubs; with a one-day laydown on June 26 and a 150,000-copy first printing.

Smith, Daniel. Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety. S. & S. Jul. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9781439177303. $25; eISBN 9781439177327. MEMOIR
Lots of memoirs out there about fighting depression but not a lot about fighting anxiety, a quieter condition that nevertheless painfully hampers the lives of 40 million Americans. Smith (Muses, Madmen, and Prophets), whose work appears frequently in places like the Atlantic and Slate, should articulate his own experience with anxiety in a way that will make us understand and empathize.




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.