Nonfiction Previews, Sept. 2013, Pt. 4: Capturing the Kommandant of Auschwitz and Playing Chopin During the Revolution

Bacon, John U. Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football. S. & S. Sept. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781476706436. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781476706443. SPORTS
College football is currently beset with scandal and sanctions, so one can be forgiven for expecting this report from Bacon to be a downer. And, indeed, drawing on his access to the sports programs of Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, and Northwestern, he sees up close the abuse of power and the corruption caused by money. But he was also surprised to find among both student athletes and fans of all ages an abiding belief in the idea that it’s not whether you win, but how you play the game. Something good to hear as the football season starts.

Cojean, Annick. Gaddifi’s Harem: The Story of a Young Woman and the Abuses of Power in Libya. Grove. Sept. 2013. tr. from French by Marjolijn de Jager. 272p. ISBN 9780802121721. $24. CURRENT EVENTS
Having presented flowers to Colonel Gaddafi when he visited her school in the Libyan seaside town of Sirte, a 14-year-old named Soraya reports that she was summoned to Gaddafi’s grand compound, Bab al-Azizia, and joined other girls who were raped by Gaddafi while also being forced to drink alcohol and watch pornography. Le Monde special correspondent Cojean, on assignment in Libya when she met Soraya, tells her story with some anger, condemning the continued cover-up of Gaddafi’s sexual crimes. Her book has stirred attention worldwide.

Harding, Thomas. Hanns and Rudolf: The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz. S. & S. Sept. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9781476711843. $ 26; ebk. ISBN 9781476711928. HISTORY
In May 1945, Lt. Hanns Alexander joined the British War Crimes Investigation Team. A German Jew serving in the British Army, Alexander was tasked with tracking down Rudolf Höss, who as Kommandant of Auschwitz was responsible for the murder of more than one million men, women, and children. Harding, a former documentary filmmaker and journalist, recounts the story of Höss’s capture with personal feeling; Alexander was his uncle. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Luttrell, Sharron Kahn. Weekends with Daisy. Gallery: S. & S. Sept. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781451686234. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781451686241. MEMOIR/ANIMALS
In the Prison PUP program, sponsored by NEADS, inmates qualify to train puppies to become service dogs. Journalist Luttrell became part of the program when she volunteered to be a weekend puppy raiser, picking up a puppy each weekend for a year and then returning it on Monday to the prisoner training the dog. Leery of involvement because she was still mourning the death of the family dog, Luttrell instead found herself deeply attached to both Daisy, the yellow lab pup she was tending, and Daisy’s trainer, Keith, a quiet man serving a lengthy prison term. She was shocked when she accidentally discovered Keith’s crime but came to realize that Daisy held the key: she was teaching Luttrell to focus on the present just as she was teaching Keith how to empathize and to appreciate the consequences of his actions. It’s a great story, and CBS Films has a project in the works, so here’s betting this will get attention. With a 75,000-copy first printing.

O’Reilly, Bill & Martin Dugard. Killing Jesus: A History. Holt. Sept. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780805098549. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780805098556. CD: Macmillan Audio. HISTORY
O’Reilly, anchor of the country’s highest-rated cable news show, and New York Times best-selling author Dugard, have already given us Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln, both accounts of political assassinations that read like political thrillers. We can safely guess that this account of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth will take the same approach when we read that the book concerns the “beloved and controversial young revolutionary [who] was brutally killed by Roman soldiers.” Not deep reflection on archaeological evidence, then, but a real edge-of-your-seat feel; already much blogged.

Rusbridger, Alan. Play It Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible. Farrar. Sept. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9780374232917. $28. MEMOIR
Editor of the Guardian since 1995, Rusbridger is a pretty busy guy; news happens 24 hours a day, every day. But in 2010, he became determined to learn Chopin’s magnificent Ballade No.1 in G minor—in one year. As it happened, that year saw the Arab Spring and the Guardian’s breaking two major stories: WikiLeaks and the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. Rusbridger still found time to practice 20 minutes a day, even in a Libyan hotel with gunshot ringing in his ears. I can’t claim to be as ferociously on deadline as Rusbridger, but I, too, have assayed the G minor ballade and cannot wait to read this book. Fascinating even for the tone-deaf, given Rusbridger’s job.

Scarf, Maggie. The Remarriage Blueprint: How Remarried Couples and Their Families Succeed or Fail. Scribner. Sept. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9781439169537. $26.; ebk ISBN 9781439169551. FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS
As evidenced by her New York Times best-selling Intimate Partners, Scarf is masterly when writing about relationships. Here she addresses one of the toughest relationships of all: that of remarried couples. While 40 percent of marriages in the United States are remarriages, they don’t have a terrific survival rate, and Scarf tells the stories of seven couples to show why they are so difficult and how they can be made to last. One of those self-help titles that really is needed; with a 50,000-copy first printing.

Shapton, Leanne. Sunday Night Movies. Drawn and Quarterly. Sept. 2013. 96p. ISBN 9781770461277. pap. $19.95. GRAPHIC/FILM
Who knew that Shapton would win the National Book Critics Circle Award for her memoir, Swimming Studies, which will put this intriguing book in the limelight. Shapton, a noted illustrator, here offers 78 watercolors depicting key scenes in some of her favorite black-and-white films. For fans of film, graphic art, graphic novels, and award winners generally.

Wilder, Craig Steven. Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities. Bloomsbury, dist. by Macmillan. Sept. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9781596916814. $30. HISTORY
Wilder, a professor of American history at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, here show how deeply American institutions of higher education have been entwined with slavery. The earliest academics considered it their duty to Christianize the Natives; later, slavery helped fund colleges, while slaves waited on faculty and students. Doubtless an eye-opener even for those who have read the 2006 report commissioned by Brown University disclosing its deep roots in slavery; look for many campus events.

Wilson, Victoria. Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907–1941. S. & S. Sept. 2013. 1088p. ISBN 9780684831688. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781439199985. BIOGRAPHY/FILM
A vice president and senior editor at Knopf appointed by President Bill Clinton to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Wilson might seem an unlikely candidate to write a biography of vibrant screen presence Barbara Stanwyck. But she has served on the board of the National Board Review of Motion Pictures. Wilson is nothing if not thorough; this book, which ranges from Stanwyck’s early days on Broadway, to her marriage to vaudeville star Frank Fay, to her initial work in Hollywood and marriage to Robert Taylor, is only the first volume of a grand-scale biography—and it’s over 1000 pages.

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.