Nonfiction Previews, Dec. 2013, Pt. 2: Sports Stars, Classical Music, & Anxiety


Bradlee, Ben, Jr. The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams. Little, Brown. Dec. 2013. 784p. ISBN 9780316614351. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780316084482; lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316163712. CD: Hachette Audio. BIOGRAPHY/SPORTS
On leave from 25 distinguished years as a reporter and then deputy managing editor at the Boston Globe, Bradlee gives us a biography of Ted Williams, the best hitter in baseball history. Bradlee benefited from full access to Williams’s papers, letters, and even home movies, plus interviews with close family members and several of Williams’s girlfriends, and he addresses Williams’s Mexican heritage (on his mother’s side) and Korean War service. Great expectations.

Brown, Bobbie & Caroline Ryder. Dirty Rocker Boys: Love and Lust on the Sunset Strip. Gallery: S. & S. Dec. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781476734705. $26. MEMOIR
A star turn in hard rock band Warrant’s notorious “Cherry Pie” music video, often called the most sexually explicit music video ever made; marriage to Warrant’s lead singer, Jani Lane; engagement to Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee after her marriage collapsed; flight from Lee, who promptly married Bobbie’s friend Pamela Anderson; then, vengefully and self-destructively, a long string of wild affairs with big-name actors and rock stars. This memoir will be raucous reading for those who want it.

Hatch, Thom. Glorious War: The Civil War Adventures of George Armstrong Custer. St. Martin’s. Dec. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9781250028501. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250028518. HISTORY
George Armstrong Custer will forever be defined by the U.S. Seventh Cavalry’s resounding defeat at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, where Custer himself lost his life. But veteran author Hatch (The Last American Outlaws: The Lives and Legends of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) reminds us that Custer made a huge mark during the Civil War, participating in most of the significant battles in the east and capturing the first Confederate battle flag. Great for perspective and American history buffs.

Johnson, Sue. Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships. Little, Brown. Dec. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780316133760. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780316251082; lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316251099. CD: Hachette Audio. RELATIONSHIPS
If you’ve read clinical psychologist Johnson’s best-selling Hold Me Tight, which still sells 3,000 copies a month after its 2008 publication, you’ll know that she is responsible for developing Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy. Here she plumbs new research to argue that love isn’t arbitrary but an important attachment bond aiding our survival while showing how we can cultivate the “love sense” that leads to sustained relationships. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Kramer, Wendy & Naomi Cahn. Finding Our Families: A First-of-Its-Kind Book for Donor-Conceived People and Their Families. Avery: Penguin Group (USA). Dec. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9781583335260. pap. $18. FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS
More than one million people in the United States have been born through donor sperm or eggs, and this book is designed to help them and their families. Kramer, who created the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR) website with her donor-conceived son, Ryan, joins with family law professor Cahn in a discussion of issues like development, self-image, and the search for a biological parent. Not surprisingly, DSR receives up to two million hits a month, and this book should be correspondingly popular.

Muñoz, Heraldo. Getting Away with Murder: Benazir Bhutto’s Assassination and the Politics of Pakistan. Norton. Dec. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9780393062915. $26.95. HISTORY/MODERN
As lead commissioner of the UN investigation into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Muñoz, currently assistant secretary-general in charge of Latin America and the Caribbean for the United Nations Development Programme, is well qualified to deliver this report. He’s already an experienced author, having written The Dictator’s Shadow, a Washington Post Best Book. Muñoz examines not just the suicide bombing that took Bhutto’s life but the complexities of Pakistani politics and the longstanding influence of the Bhutto family.

Stossel, Scott. My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind. Knopf. 352p. ISBN 9780307269874. $27.95. Downloadable: Random Audio. PSYCHOLOGY
Now the most commonly acknowledged form of mental illness, anxiety wasn’t even a diagnostic category 30 years ago, but observers as far back as Hippocrates recognized its troublesome signs. Atlantic editor Stossel draws on his own battle with anxiety as he blends historical account (from, e.g., Robert Burton and William James) with a discussion of anxiety’s blindsiding consequences, the various treatments, and significant biological, cultural, and environmental factors. Obviously, there’s an audience.

Suchet, John. Beethoven: The Man Revealed. Atlantic Monthly. Dec. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9780802122063. $30. BIOGRAPHY/MUSIC
A noted Beethoven scholar who hosts a morning show on Britain’s Classic FM, Suchet offers a big, bold biography of Beethoven, frequently drawing on sources not previously available in English. His argument: that more than with any other composer, understanding the life—Beethoven’s fractured childhood, fierce temperament, and obsessive concern with his nephew—helps us appreciate the music.

Tippins, Sherill. Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York’s Legendary Chelsea Hotel. Houghton Harcourt. Dec. 2013. 448p. ISBN 9780618726349. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780544003064. HISTORY
Tippins has an interesting (and clearly inquiring) turn of mind, having also written February House: The Story of W. H. Auden, Carson McCullers, Jane and Paul Bowles, Benjamin Britten and Gypsy Rose Lee Under One Roof in Wartime America. Here she offers a history of New York’s matchless Chelsea Hotel, established in 1884 by a French Socialist utopian and home to artists ranging from Edgar Lee Masters to Patti Smith. So cool.

Walsh, Stephen. Musorgsky and His Circle: A Russian Musical Adventure. Knopf. Dec. 2013. 496p. ISBN 9780307272447. $37.50; ebk. ISBN 9780385350488. MUSIC
In the mid-1860s, Russian music was given a great push forward by five modestly trained but immodestly talented composers—Mily Balakirev, César Ciu, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Alexander Borodin, and, of course, Modest Musorgsky (as his named is transliterated here). Critic/musicologist Walsh explains how and why this blazing moment occurred and examines the results, for which we can all be grateful.



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.