Nonfiction Previews, September 2012, Pt. 4: Brunson, Danza, and Leman Have Something To Teach

Brunson, Paul Carrick. It’s Complicated (But It Doesn’t Have To Be): A Modern Guide to Finding and Keeping Love. Gotham: Penguin Books (USA). Sep. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9781592407699. $22.50. RELATIONSHIPS
Modern Day Matchmaker Brunson ditched his high-paying portfolio management job to do something far nobler: helping people find love. Young, black, and male, he’s not your average dating coach; he got inspired to switch careers when he realized that all the children at a summer camp he ran for the underserved in Washington, DC, came from single-parent homes. Among other things, Brunson hosts matchmaking events in numerous cities, but if you can’t make them, you can still get this book. Aimed at everyone.

Burke, Monte. 4th and Goal: From the Gridiron to the Boardroom and Back. Grand Central. Sept. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9781455514045. $26.99. SPORTS/AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Joe Moglia always wanted to coach college football, but family responsibilities meant climbing onto the corporate ladder instead. Eventually, he became the CEO of TD Ameritrade‚ and then he quit, determined to pursue the dream he’d deferred. Now, after a stint of unpaid coaching to get back into the game after 25 years, he’s head football coach at Coastal Carolina University. We could all use inspiration like this.

Danza, Tony. I’d Like To Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High. Crown. Sept. 2012. 400p. ISBN 9780770436704. $26. EDUCATION/MEMOIR
Yes, that’s Danza, the Golden Globe and Emmy nominee you know from Taxi, teaching English at Philadelphia’s Northeast High. After years of acting success, he felt it was payback time, and being a teacher appealed. What he discovered: it’s really hard work. A great antidote to all those pieces by folks who consider teaching glorified babysitting; you might know this from a short series on A&E called Teach, which covered Danza’s 2009‚ 10 classroom year.

House, Karen Elliot. On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Contradictions‚ and Future. Knopf. Sept. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9780307272164. $30; eISBN 9780307960993. CURRENT EVENTS
A Pulitzer Prize‚ winning reporter and then foreign editor of the Wall Street Journal, House has been familiarizing herself with Saudi Arabia over 30 years. Here she draws on her access to the ruling Al Saud family, including the king, crown prince, and many government ministers, to paint a portrait of a country that remains central to Middle East politics and America’s future‚ it’s our second largest oil supplier. With a 40,000-copy first printing.

Issenberg, Sasha. The Victory Lab. Crown. Sept. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780307954794. $26. POLITICS
Explains Issenberg, who covered the 2008 election for the Boston Globe, it’s not business as usual in the political realm. Academics, statisticians, and strategists are shoving aside seasoned advisers, emphasizing data rather than instinct as they change completely how campaigns are managed. A chapter from this book, Rick Perry and His Eggheads, was enthusiastically embraced when released as an e-original‚ Politico called it Moneyball for Politics‚ and Issenberg just launched a column on Slate, also called The Victory Lab. So there’s already a readership.

Leman, Talia. a random book about the power of ANYone by a random kid. Free Pr: S. & S. Sept. 2012. 240p. ISBN 9781451664843. pap. $14.99. PHILANTHROPHY
At age ten, Leman did something remarkable: she organized the efforts of kids like herself nationwide and raised $10 million for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Then she launched a campaign that again brought youngsters together to help their counterparts in 20 countries worldwide. Here Leman explains how she did it, using advice like Use Your Inexperience Shamelessly to show what it takes‚ enthusiasm, determination, and a ready wit‚ as she encourages others to follow her example.

Reiss, Tom. The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo. Crown. Sept. 2012. 400p. ISBN 9780307382467. $26. BIOGRAPHY
New Yorker writer Reiss’s The Orientalist, a New York Times best seller, unfolded the complicated life story of a Caucasus-born Jew who declared himself a Muslim prince. So Reiss seems the right man to chronicle Alexandre Dumas, a former slave who became a royal musketeer and eventually a noted general in Napoleon’s army. He would be unknown today had the son who shares his name not used his adventures to write numerous beloved and enduring novels, including, of course, The Count of Monte Cristo. The result of five years of research and bound to be fun.

Prescott, Townes III. Total Frat Move. Grand Central. Sept. 2012. 220p. ISBN 9781455515035. $18.99. HUMOR
Drawing on the raucous website and Twitter feed of the same name, this book celebrates just how raunchy, lowdown, and, shall we say, unstudious frat life has become. Prescott is the (rather glam) pseudonym for a self-described hard-partying rich boy who was among the three Texas State grads who founded the site. Said to make Animal House look quaint; your move.

Robinson, Gene. God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage. Knopf. Sept. 2012. 208p. ISBN 9780307957887. $24; eISBN 9780307961754. RELIGION
Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire in the Episcopal Church and the first openly gay person elected to the historic episcopate, Robinson has penned an argument in favor of gay rights and gay marriage grounded in the Bible that he loves. His audience: gays and lesbians who want to argue their case, heterosexuals who want to understand, and policy makers who need to understand. With a 50,000-copy first printing; inevitably a controversy stirrer despite the devout and congenial tone.

Sheldrake, Rupert. Science Set Free: Dispelling Dogma. Deepak Chopra: Crown. Sept. 2012. 400p. ISBN 9780770436704. $26. SCIENCE
Biologist Sheldrake, once a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, and now a Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California, aims to persuade fellow scientists that a strictly materialist worldview will eventually hold back their work. What’s interesting here is not just that Shekdrake is the author of the best-selling Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home but that this new work is the lead title in Deepak Chopra’s new imprint.

Thomas, Evan. Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle To Save the World. Little, Brown. Sept. 2012. 423p. ISBN 9780316091046. $29.99. CD: Hachette Audio. HISTORY
The genial Dwight Eisenhower was apparently a crack poker player, routinely cleaning out his fellow army officers, and, argues Thomas, he took a big, poker-faced gamble when as President he confronted the Soviet Union, China, and his own saber-rattling generals. A former Newsweek editor at large, now teaching at Princeton, Thomas explains how his careful strategy paid off‚ for him and for the world.

Velasquez-Manoff, Moises. An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Diseases. Scribner. Sept. 2012. NAp. ISBN 9781439199381. $26. HEALTH/MEDICINE
Worm therapy. It sounds disgusting, but consider. In the 20th century, many serious diseases were eradicated or sharply curtailed through better hygiene, vaccines, antibiotics, and more. In the process, we may have also eradicated organisms that help keep our bodies in balance, as evidenced by the rise in allergic or autoimmune diseases like asthma and Crohn’s disease. As science journalist Velasquez-Manoff explains, some researchers are trying to counter these diseases through the use of parasitic worms (helminthes) to help the immune system adjust. This should be fascinating if quease-inducing reading.

Witchell, Alex. All Gone: A Memoir of My Mother’s Dementia, with Refreshments. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). Sept. 2012. NAp. ISBN 9781594487354. $26.95. MEMOIR
New York Times Magazine columnist Witchell can be hard-driving, but here she reveals a gentle side. As her mother, who always sustained her, slides into dementia, Witchell holds on by cooking up and sharing favorite recipes from her 1950s childhood. We could learn something here.


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. N. Baer says:

    Re: Moises Velasquez-Manoff is the author of “An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Diseases.”

    The NY Times “opinion” printed the basis of this book. I was surprised (and disappointed) that the author chose to be too diplomatic, rather than blunt about the potential causes of autism.

    The most stunning statistic of all is that one out of 80 children are autistic. Hello? I’d say this is a public health crisis. Why aren’t scientists and the media who cover science insisting that the news about the electromagnetic and radio frequencies damaging our bodies’ 10 trillion cells with their vibrations 24/7, that permanently change our DNA permanently, being blamed?