Nonfiction Previews, Jul. 2013, Pt. 4: Cats and Dogs, Archaeologists and Murder

Adams, John M. The Millionaire and the Mummies: Theodore Davis’s Gilded Age in the Valley of the Kings. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9781250026699. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250026705. HISTORY
Theodore Davis: not a name everyone knows now, but his accomplishments were significant. A turn-of-the-20th-century American robber baron who ventured into archaeology, he discovered 18 tombs in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. Adams, who is director emeritus of the Orange County Public Library, uses six of Davis’s discoveries, e.g., the female Pharaoh Hatshepsuts’ sarcophagus, to limn Davis’s journey through archaeology while telling the story of his life.

Bowen, James. A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life. Thomas Dunne Bks: St. Martin’s. Jul. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781250029461. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250029478. PETS
Yes, you’ll love Bob the Cat, the way you loved Marley, Oogy, and Dewey. London street musician Bowen was down on his luck when he found the very sick, marmalade-striped feline in the hallway of his apartment building and nursed him back to health. Bob stuck it out, bonding with Bowen, and their artlessly told story was a No. 1 London Times best seller. There’s even a film version planned. 

Christensen, Kate. Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites. Doubleday. Jul. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9780385536264. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385536271. MEMOIR/CULINARY
PEN/Faulkner Award winner Christensen (The Great Man) doesn’t just write fiction; she writes about food on her eponymous blog. In this memoir, an in-house favorite, she talks about food to relate, more broadly, her off-kilter upbringing and current, reportedly happy life. Pitched to fans of Ruth Reichl and Gabrielle Hamilton’s Blood, Bones, and Butter.

Eisler, Benita. The Red Man’s Bones: George Catlin, Artist and Showman. Norton. Jul. 2013. 432p. ISBN 9780393066166. $29.95. BIOGRAPHY
Eisler is known for her studies of Byron, Chopin, and George Sand, but she has also written about Georgia O’Keeffe (in a dual biography also about Alfred Stieglitz), so her telling the story of someone known as “the first artist of the West” might not be such a leap. Yet, interestingly, Catlin, who painted nearly 600 portraits of individuals from more than 30 Northern Plains tribes, never worked west of the Mississippi. Ultimately an advocate for Native Americans, he was forever in trouble—and once, even in debtors’ prison. So this should be an intriguing portrait.

Esquith, Rafe. Real Talk for Real Teachers: Advice for Teachers from Rookies to Veterans: “No Retreat, No Surrender!” Viking. Jul. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9780670014644. $26.95. EDUCATION
At a time of unfortunate teacher bashing, educators everywhere need Esquith, New York Times best-selling author of Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire! and the only classroom teacher to have received the National Medal of the Arts. Here he provides chicken soup for the teacher’s soul, with concrete advice for folks throughout the profession.

Flanders, Judith. The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Jul. 2013. 576p. ISBN 9781250024879. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781250024886. HISTORY
A noted social historian of the Victorian era whose books (e.g., A Circle of Sisters) have been shortlisted for major British awards, Flanders isn’t here to titillate. But she does want to show that, while murder was not that common in 19th-century gaslit England, folks then were titillated by violent death, which found a place in broadside, fiction, theater, opera, and even puppet shows. Murder as art?

Fullilove, Michael. Rendezvous with Destiny: How Franklin D. Roosevelt and Five Extraordinary Men Took America into the War and into the World. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Jul. 2013. 480p. ISBN 9781594204357. $29.95. HISTORY
Sumner Welles, William “Wild Bill” Donovan, Harry Hopkins, Averell Harriman, Wendell Willkie. These were the five men Roosevelt sent to Europe in the years after Hitler’s invasion of Poland to see what America could do to shore up Europe’s beleaguered democracies. They had different tasks—Hopkins explained Lend-Lease to Churchill, for instance, while Harriman delivered aid to London. Fullilove, executive director of Australia’s Lowy Institute, tells history by painting portraits.

Gasparino, Charles. Circle of Friends: The Massive Federal Crackdown on Insider Trading—and Why the Markets Always Work Against the Little Guy. Harper: HarperCollins. Jul. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9780062096067. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062096081. BUSINESS
Gasparino follows up The Sellout, a best seller that won the Investigative Reporters and Editors Award in 2009, with the story of how the FBI and SEC investigated and prosecuted one of the biggest insider-trading scandals in the nation’s history. The case, which has already led to several arrests, demonstrates just how great the gap is between the amateur and the professional investor. A sobering book with a 75,000-copy first printing.

Oppenheimer, Jerry. Crazy Rich: Power, Scandal, and Tragedy Inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2013. 464p. ISBN 9780312662110. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250010933. BUSINESS
Oppenheimer, who’s offered unauthorized peeks at Hillary and Bill Clinton, Anna Wintour, Martha Stewart, Barbara Walters, Jerry Seinfeld, and the Hilton family, netting himself some big best sellers, here looks at the heirs of the Johnson megamillions and comes up with enough sex, suicide, and scandal to keep the right readers engrossed until all hours

Perry, Barbara A. Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch. Norton. Jul. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780393068955. $27.95. BIOGRAPHY
A senior fellow in presidential oral history at the University of Virgina’s Miller Center in Charlottesville, Perry aims to uncover the woman behind the myth.

Rosenfelt, David. Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781250014696. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250014702.  
An Edgar and Shamus Award nominee, Rosenfelt is also a man with a cause; he and his wife have fostered many rescue dogs and founded the Tara Foundation, which has placed thousands of dogs in permanent, loving homes. When the Rosenfelts themselves switched homes, moving from Southern California to Maine, figuring out how to get their 25 dogs cross country proved a challenge, even if the three RVs were well stocked with lots of dog biscuits. Now that’s a road trip.            

Showalter, Dennis. Armor and Blood: The Battle of Kursk, July 1943. Random. Jul. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781400066773. $28. ebk. ISBN 9780812994650. HISTORY
A professor of history at Colorado College, guest lecturer at West Point, and former president of the Society for Military History, Showalter seems well positioned to write about the crucial Battle of Kursk, which resulted in a Soviet victory that halted the German push east once and for all. History fans will want.


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.