Nonfiction Previews, September 2012, Pt. 1: Kofi Annan, Thomas Ricks, and Roughneck Tom

Annan, Kofi. Interventions: A Life in War and Peace. Sept. 2012. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). NAp. ISBN 9781594204203. $36. MEMOIR/CURRENT EVENTS
Few memoirs coming out this year will be as interesting and as important as this one by Annan, seventh Secretary-General of the UN from January 1997 to December 2006 and a corecipient (with the UN itself) of the Nobel Peace Prize for having founded the Global AIDS and Health Fund. Check in on how the world turned during his time in office.

Bar-Zohar, Michael & Nissim Mishal. Mossad: The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service. Ecco: HarperCollins. Sept. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780062123404. $26.99; eISBN 9780062123442. HISTORY
Official biographer of David Ben-Gurion and Shimon Peres, Bar-Zohar joins with leading Israeli TV personality Mishal to document the history of Israel’s crack intelligence service, focusing on high-profile cases ranging from Eichmann’s apprehension to the killing of important Iranian nuclear scientists‚ which makes the book particularly relevant. With a 30,000-copy first printing.

Bawer, Bruce. Children of the Revolution: How Identity Studies Have Destroyed American Higher Education. Broadside: HarperCollins. Sept. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780061807374. $25.99; eISBN 9780062097064. HISTORY/EDUCATION
Since Bawer’s While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within was a New York Times best seller and a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and his Stealing Jesus a PW Best Book of the Year, it’s worth paying attention to his latest, a critique of how identity politics have shaped the academy in the last four decades. Not everyone will agree with Bawer that Chicano, African American, and Women’s Studies courses are exercises strictly in power struggle and victimhood that have gotten in the way of objective reasoning, but then listening to all sides of the argument is exactly what thoughtful readers should do. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Gitlin, Todd. Occupy Nation: The Roots, the Spirit, and the Promise of Occupy Wall Street. It: HarperCollins. Sept. 2012. 176p. ISBN 9780062200921. pap. $10. CURRENT EVENTS
Wall Street may not be occupied right now, but the Occupy Wall Street movement has changed our way of thinking; we all know what that 99 percent means. Arguing that the movement has been misrepresented by both the Left and the Right, Gitlin‚ author, Columbia journalism/sociology professor, and former president of Students for a Democratic Society‚ considers the causes and consequences of the movement and where it might go next. Not a huge printing, but right for the right readers; note the 99 percent‚ friendly paperback price.

Greenberg, Andy. This Machine Kills Secrets: How WikiLeakers, Cypherpunks, and Hacktivists Aim To Free the World’s Information. Dutton. Sept. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780525953203. $26.95. TECHNOLOGY/CURRENT EVENTS
In the Sixties we marched in the streets. Now many young men and women fed up with the government, the military, and the corporations slip into silent whistleblower mode, anonymously uploading institutional secrets that they feel should be exposed. Think WikiLeaks, Anonymous, and OpenLeaks, and think about the long-term impact, as Forbes reporter Greenberg has us do here.

Johnson, Joyce. The Voice Is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac. Viking. Sept. 2012. 512p. ISBN 9780670025107. $32.95. BIOGRAPHY
Nine months before On the Road was published, aspiring novelist Johnson met Jack Kerouac on a blind date set up by Allen Ginsberg. Minor Characters, her National Book Critics Circle Award winner, detailed their relationship. Here Johnson looks at Kerouac the young artist, showing that his French Canadian background, which left him suspended between two languages and two cultures, deeply influenced his work. For literati everywhere.

Lofgren, Mike. The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted. Viking. Sept. 2012. 208p. ISBN 9780670026265. $24.95. CURRENT EVENTS
Lofgren, a Republican who worked as a Congressional staffer for 28 years‚ the last 16 as a senior analyst on the House and Senate Budget committees‚ made news in September 2011 when he angrily quit over the debt ceiling crisis. Critical though he is of the tired Democrats, he saves his real bashing for the Republicans, whom he called lunatics in a piece he subsequently wrote for Truthout. That piece got so many hits so fast that the site crashed; reading the book might be just as tumultuous an experience.

McCord, Catherine. Weelicious: Fast, Easy, and Fresh Recipes Your Kids Want To Eat! Morrow Cookbooks. Sept. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780062078445. $27.50. COOKING
With a new baby and a culinary degree, McCord was well positioned to launch, which began as a compendium of baby food purees and now fosters family eating that is healthful and tasty and suggests how to teach kids to make smart choices about food. The site gets more than 500,000 hits a day and was among the New York Observer‘s Top Ten Must Read Websites for Parents, so this should be in demand. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Max, D.T. Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace. Viking. Sept. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9780670025923. $26.95. BIOGRAPHY
Appearing in The New Yorker a year after David Foster Wallace’s suicide at age 46, Max’s The Unfinished: David Foster Wallace’s Struggle To Surpass Infinite Jest really fired up readers. Now Max offers what is less a portrait of the man than of the artist, detailing Wallace’s struggles to become a novelist while circumventing depression and addiction. He also explores Wallace’s powerful impact on American letters‚ particularly as a symbol of integrity in an increasingly slick world.

Mazower, Mark. Governing the World: The Rise and Fall of an Idea, 1815 to the Present. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Sept. 2012. NAp. ISBN 9781594203497. $25.95. HISTORY
Having ranged from Duff Cooper Prize winner Salonica City of Ghosts to Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner Hitler’s Empire, among many other titles, Oxford-trained historian Mazower‚ now director of the Center for International History at Columbia University‚ seems good and ready to discuss world government from the post-Napoleonic era forward. Go for it, history fans.

Mendez, Antonio & Matt Baglio. Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History. Viking. Sept. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9780670026227. $26.95. Downloadable: Random Audio. HISTORY
In 1979, after Iranian militants stormed the American Embassy in Tehran, creating a hostage situation that lasted 444 days, six Americans escaped. Then a CIA agent, Mendez arranged for their rescue by bringing a bunch of Hollywood directors, producers, and actors to Iran, ostensibly to scout locations for a film they dubbed Argo but in fact to contact the escapees and smuggle them out. A crazy plan, but it worked, and Mendez is sharing the details only now. Yes, a film about the rescue is forthcoming, starring Ben Affleck and releasing in September.

Miller, Carol. Up All Night: My Life and Times in Rock Radio. Ecco: HarperCollins. Sept. 2012. 208p. ISBN 9780061845246. $24.99. MEMOIR/MUSIC
You bet that there are readers anticipating this memoir by the country’s top female disc jockey, who was raised in a staunchly intellectual Jewish household in Queens, got into progressive rock radio while at the University of Pennsylvania, worked with legends like Cousin Brucie, went all chatty with Paul McCartney and dated Steve Tyler, and eventually made it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, having hugely shaped the business with her distinctive on-air approach. Here she tells her story, revealing her battle with cancer and fears about an unnamed illness that has taken many family members early in life, which gave her a real incentive to accomplish.

Perry, Michael. Visiting Tom: A Man, a Highway, and the Road to Roughneck Grace. Harper: HarperCollins. Sept. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9780061894442. $25.99; eISBN 9780062097798. BIOGRAPHY
Perry recently returned home to a 37-acre farm in New Auburn, WI (see his Population: 485), where he serves on the local rescue service when not commenting for NPR or acting as a contributing editor to Men’s Health. He’s also neighbors with octogenarian Tom Hartwig, who builds his own cannons, runs a shop seemingly stocked by Rube Goldberg, curated by Hunter Thompson, and rearranged by a small earthquake, and defies the four-lane interstate that was shoved through his front yard a few decades back. Perry is a good author‚ 2009’s Coop was an Indie best seller and won a bunch of regional awards‚ and this portrait of an individual is also a welcome portrait of an underrepresented place and lifestyle. So check it out, especially if Perry come to your neighborhood; his driving tour takes him to Iowa City, Des Moines, Chicago, Wichita, Grand Rapids, Kansas City, St. Louis, Omaha, Lincoln, and Nashville, as well as Northfield, Stillwater, and Minneapolis, MN, and Madison, Rice, Red Wing, and Milwaukee, WI.

Ricks, Thomas E. The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today. Sept. 2012. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Sept. 2012. ISBN 9781594204043. $36. CURRENT EVENTS
Once a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, currently with the Center for a New American Security and a Foreign Policy blogger, Pulitzer Prize winner Ricks has already given us two best-selling books on our recent venture in Iraq, The Gamble and Fiasco. Here he steps back to provide a broader picture of military leadership‚ and particularly the decline in sound military leadership‚ since World War II. No doubt sobering.

Silver, Nate. The Signal and the Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail ‚ But Some Don’t. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Sept. 2012. NAp. ISBN 9781594204111. $27.95. SOCIAL SCIENCE
In 2008, Silver created the polling website and blog (named for the number of electors in the electoral college), then relaunched the blog with the New York Times two years later. Here he challenges the very idea of making predictions in everything from weather to politics (interesting position for a pollster), so I won’t venture to say how this book will do. But it has a built-in audience.

Simmons, Sylvie. I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen. Ecco: HarperCollins. Sept. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780061994982. $27.99. BIOGRAPHY/MUSIC
A music journalist who’s profiled folks like Neil Young and Johnny Cash and recently won an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for her liner notes for Leonard Cohen Live at the Isle of Wight 1970, Simmons conducted more than 100 interviews with friends and musicians (ranging from Judy Collins to, interestingly, Phillip Glass) to craft this portrait of the man who gave us such immortal songs as “Suzanne” and “Bird on a Wire.” Music lovers of a certain age will want, and since Cohen has just wrapped up a sold-out three-year world tour after a 15-year hiatus, he’ll be on their minds.

Weiss, Luisa. My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (with Recipes). Viking. Sept. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780670025381. $26.95. MEMOIR/COOKING
When cookbook editor Weiss launched, now an award-winning blog that boasts 100,000 unique visitors per month, it was just the beginning of a dramatic story. As she wrote about cooking her way through a stack of recipes, she was inspired to dump her fiancé, then her job, then her home, leaving New York for Berlin, where she had been partly raised by her Italian mother. Yummy tales, like foraging for plums in an abandoned orchard; even the curmudgeonly might want to head for the kitchen. With an eight-city tour.

White, Kate. Sweet Success: How To Get It, Run with It, Savor It. Harper Business: HarperCollins. Sept. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780062122124. $24.99. BUSINESS
Here’s what White is doing when she’s not at her desk as editor in chief of Cosmopolitan or writing best sellers like the Bailey Weggins mystery series: she’s writing a career guide for women aiming to make it today’s tumultuous business world. To achieve success, says White, you’ve got to Get It‚ that is, take a risk that will land you ahead of the curve, as White did when she put Lady Gaga on Cosmo‘s cover‚ then keep building on what you’ve done and learn to enjoy it (or why bother?). With a 40,000-copy first printing and lots of publicity through social media.

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.