Nonfiction Previews, October 2012, Pt. 2: Applebaum, Kurweil, & More

Applebaum, Anne. Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945‚ 1956. Doubleday. Oct. 2012. 640p. ISBN 9780385515696. $35; eISBN 9780385536431. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. HISTORY
Slate and Washington Post columnist Applebaum won a Pulitzer for Gulag, so you can bet that a lot of folks will be anticipating her next book. Here she explains how the Soviet Union, suddenly in control of Eastern Europe after World War II, turned those countries into communist regimes and what life was then like for citizens who often found the new ideology utterly alien. Applebaum not only dug into newly opened archives but conducted interviews, which should give this book a personal feel. Exciting!

Bastianich, Lidia Matticchio & Tanya Bastianich Manuali. Lidia’s Favorite Recipes: 100 Foolproof Italian Dishes, from Basic Sauces to Irresistible Entrées. Knopf. Oct. 2012. 240p. ISBN 9780307595669. $24.95; eISBN 9780307960856. COOKBOOKS
Lidia Bastianich has famously written eight cookbooks, five accompanied by nationally syndicated public television series. Here, she again joins forces with daughter Tanya, an Oxford Ph.D. in renaissance art whose travel company arranges art and culinary tours of Italy. They’re aiming for a truly reader-friendly book, with a lower price point and more compact size than the previous titles. But I’m betting that you’ll find the same old Bastianich quality.

Berkus, Nate. The Things That Matter. Spiegel & Grau. Oct. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780679644316. $35; eISBN 9780679644323. MEMOIR/INTERIOR DESIGN
Made famous by Oprah, star of his own talk show (just wrapping its second and last season), author of the best-selling Home Rules, and, coincidentally, an executive producer of The Help, Berkus is one hot designer. This book, partly a memoir about his rocketing success after founding a design firm in the mid-1990s at age 24, also talks about design precepts and the things that matter‚ the beautiful things he surrounds himself with that remind him of who and what he has loved and where he wants to go next. With a four-city tour to New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles; the media opportunities here are huge.

The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs. Random. Oct. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780679644750. $40; eISBN 9780679644767. PETS
Essays, short humor, poems, fiction, and cartoons! By Malcolm Gladwell, Ian Frazier, John Updike, Susan Orlean, Arthur Miller, E.B. White, and more! All from The New Yorker! And all about dogs! (Don’t worry, aurilophiles, cats are up next.)

Brzezinski, Matthew. Isaac’s Army: The Jewish Resistance in Occupied Poland. Random. Oct. 2012. 544p. ISBN 9780553807271. $30; eISBN 9780679645306. HISTORY
Yes, the Jews fought back during World War II, and journalist/author Brzezinski chronicles one telling example: an underground movement in Poland masterminded by Isaac Zuckerman, only in his twenties at the time. Based in the Warsaw Ghetto, the movement sent couriers throughout the country, protecting Jews while battling the Gestapo. All its members escaped through the sewers during the Ghetto Uprising, ultimately surviving the war and helping to smuggle Jews to Palestine; Brzezinski was able to interview many movement members for his book. One story of derring-do that really, really matters.

Coleman, David G. The Fourteenth Day: JFK and the Aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis; The Secret White House Tapes. Norton. Oct. 2012. ISBN 9780393084412. $25.95. HISTORY
On October 28, 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev agreed to remove nuclear missiles from Cuba, effectively ending the Cuban Missile Crisis. Or so we have always thought. In fact, as secretly recorded White House tapes now reveal, nuclear missiles, nuclear bombers, and Soviet troops remained in Cuba after that date, with Kennedy carefully negotiating to get as many of them out as possible within setting off the pugnacious Khrushchev. Director of the Miller Center’s Presidential Recording Program, Coleman has the goods.

Henken, Priscilla J. Taliesin Diary: A Year with Frank Lloyd Wright. Norton. Oct. 2012. 192p. ISBN 9780393733808. $34.95. MEMOIR/ARCHITECTURE
With husband David, Henken lived at Taliesin as part of the Fellowship, the architectural community that worshipfully surrounded Frank Lloyd Wright from the 1930s to the 1950s. Her diary, covering 1942‚ 43, captures not only Wright at his height but an entire movement, spiritual as well as aesthetic, and the conflicts within the community. For smart readers.

Hitz, Alex. My Beverly Hills Kitchen: Classic Southern Cooking with a French Twist. Knopf. Oct. 2012. 368p. ISBN 9780307701527. $35; eISBN 9780307960948. COOKBOOKS
Red-Pepper Tart? Salted Caramel Cake? This is not your standard Southern cooking, though Hitz draws inspiration from his Deep South roots (raised in Atlanta, he was a partner in the city’s famed Patio by the River restaurant). Then he mixes it up with what he learned about cooking in France to create‚Ķla nourriture au réconfort? Good cooks will know Hitz’s luxury prepared foods line, The Beverly Hills Kitchen, which he promotes on his top-ranked HSN show of the same name. With a six-city tour to Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco; with a 75,000-copy first printing.

Kurzweil, Ray. How To Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed. Viking. Oct. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780670025299. $27.95. SCIENCE
New York Times best-selling author (The Singularity Is Near), National Medal of Technology winner, and former LJ columnist (note that he was keynote speaker at LJ‘s first virtual ebook summit), Kurzweil here explains reverse engineering the brain. It’s a project to understand how the brain works, how the mind emerges from it, and what this means for our understanding of intelligence, human or machine. So that you can stay cutting edge; with a nine-city tour.

London, Stacy. The Truth About Style. Viking. Oct. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780670026234. $32.95. FASHION
Preteen psoriasis left London physically scarred and emotionally burdened, and later she endured bouts of anorexia and then binge eating that promptly doubled her weight. So the cohost of TLC’s What Not To Wear understands that how we feel about ourselves affects all our choices, including what we wear; our worst fashion don’ts often stem from deep-down crisis. Here, she helps us see the crisis, deflect those choices, and develop a style all our own. I’m already looking in the mirror‚Ķ.

O’Reilly, Bill & Martin Dugard. Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot. Holt. Oct. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780805096668. $28. HISTORY
O’Reilly, who presides over the highest-rated cable news show in the country, had a best seller with Killing Lincoln. Here, joined by best-selling author Dugard, he moves forward a century to recount events leading up to the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the terrible day itself. And the subtitle suggests a look at the long-range consequences.

Presilla, Maricel E. Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America. Norton. Oct. 2012. ISBN 9780393050691. 864p. $45. COOKBOOKS
Lots of cookbooks out there on Latin American favorites, but this one seems truly comprehensive‚ just look at the page count (and there are 500 recipes). Co-owner of the Latin restaurants Zafra and Cucharamama in Hoboken, NJ (and a Ph.D. in medieval Spanish history‚ I like that), Presilla ranges from Mexico to Argentina and through the Spanish-speaking Caribbean to show us that Latin American cuisine is not just tamales but adobos, sofritos, sancocho, and more. With a five-city tour to New York, Miami, San Francisco, Napa Valley, and Los Angeles; seems pretty much essential if you’ve got the audience.
Quammen, David. Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic. Norton. Oct. 2012. 480p. ISBN 9780393066807. $28.95. SCIENCE
AIDS. SARS. Ebola. Frightening diseases with one thing in common: like other diseases even now being discovered, they originate with wild animals and are c`ommunicated to humans in a process called spillover. (It’s the price we pay for invading their space.) The John Burroughs Medal‚ winning author of The Song of the Dodo went into the field with scientists who trap bats in China and monkeys in Bangladesh to understand how and why these diseases emerge. For more on this critical issue, see Craig Timberg and Daniel Halperin’s Tinderbox: How the West Sparked the AIDS Epidemic and How the World Can Finally Overcome It and Peter Piot’s No Time To Lose: Life in Pursuit of Deadly Viruses, both out next month, and Nathan Wolfe’s recent The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age.

Queenan, Joe. One for the Books. Viking. Oct. 2012. 256p. ISBN 9780670025824. $24.95. LITERATURE
When he hasn’t been working as a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Spy, and other publications, writing for venues ranging from Time to Rolling Stone, or coming up with best-selling books like Closing Time: A Memoir, Queenan is reading, reading, reading. But he avoids books praised as astonishing and picks his reads in unusual ways: with his eyes closed, for instance, or by digging up books he always thought he would hate. By not taking a glowy aren’t-books-profound approach, he could be showing us what reading is all about. Try this, literati.

Schwalbe, Will. The End of Your Life Book Club. Knopf. Oct. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9780307594037. $25; eISBN 9780307961112. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. MEMOIR/LITERATURE
The hugely accomplished Schwalbe has had a hand in publishing (he’s a former senior vice president and editor in chief at Hyperion Books), journalism (he’s had pieces in the New York Times), and the new media (he founded of But then he’s had to keep up with his mother, who taught at Harvard and the Dalton School and then spent ten years building libraries in Afghanistan. When she was preparing for chemotherapy treatments at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Schwalbe asked her what she had read lately, and so began a habit of reading the same books and discussing them‚ an activity that sustained Schwalbe’s mother throughout her treatments. A perfect book-club book about books and the community they create that also portrays the love between mother and son; with a reading group guide (no surprise) and a six-city tour to Boston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

Sethi, Aman. A Free Man: A True Story of Life and Death in Delhi. Norton. Oct. 2012. 240p. ISBN 9780393088908. $24.95. BIOGRAPHY/CURRENT EVENTS
A former biology student who has worked as a butcher, tailor, and electrician’s apprentice, Mohammed Ashraf is indeed free of the baggage of everyday life; he is now a homeless day laborer in Old Dehli. Sethi, a correspondent for the Hindu whose reporting has earned him an International Committee of the Red Cross award, aims to illuminate the global economic crisis by detailing what happened to Ashraf, providing vivid scenes of a tuberculosis hospital, Beggars Court, and the Old Delhi Railway Station where Ashraf and his friends gather. Already an international best seller; I’m feeling good about this book.

Tatar, Maria, ed. The Annotated Brothers Grimm. Norton. Oct. 2012. 576p. ISBN 9780393088861. $39.95. FAIRY TALES
It’s been 200 years since the publication of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s Children’s Stories and Household Tales, which collected the treasures of Europe’s oral folk tradition. To celebrate, here’s a deluxe edition of indefatigable Harvard folklorist Tatar’s annotated Grimm anthology, first published by Norton in 2004. Six new tales have been added (e.g., Four Clever Brothers and The White Snake), and even more illustrations grace the pages. (Think Arthur Rackham and George Cruikshank, among others.) Definitely consider replacing those battered 2004 copies.

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.