David Brion Davis, Glen Duncan, Anna Quindlen, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Feb. 2014, Pt. 4

Allen, Jonathan & Amie Parnes. HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton. Crown. Feb. 2014. 350p. ISBN 9780804136754. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780804136761. CD: Random Audio. BIOGRAPHY/POLITICAL
“Will Hillary run again?” There’s the hot question among anyone who cares about U.S. politics. Written by two authors intimately familiar with the political process—Allen is the senior Washington correspondent for POLITICO and Parnes the White House correspondent for The Hill newspaper in Washington, DC—this book surveys the landscape from Hillary Clinton’s primary defeat to her successes as secretary of state, the biggest diplomatic job in the world. No one will be indifferent to this book.

Davis, David Brion. The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation. Knopf. Feb. 2014. 448p. ISBN 9780307269096. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780385351652. HISTORY
Here is the final volume in a grand, groundbreaking trilogy, written and published over a 50-year period by Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale, on the history of slavery in Western culture. The first volume, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture, won the Pulitzer Prize and the Anisfield-Wolf Award, while the second volume, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, won the National Book Award and the Bancroft Prize. This third volume examines emancipation, the Haitian revolution, and colonization—the effort to return freed slaves to Africa, often seen as racist but, says, Davis, more complicated than that. Essential.

Duncan, Glen. By Blood We Live. Knopf. Feb. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780307595102. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780385350389. HORROR
First, there was The Last Werewolf, British novelist Duncan’s deliciously edgy foray into horror. It was a national hit here, selling 140,000 copies across all formats. Then, in Talulla Rising, a regional best seller, newly sprung werewolf Tallulla mourns Jake—not, as it turned out, the last of their species—as she raises their son. Here, Talulla finds herself inexplicably drawn to 20,000-year-old vampire Remshi, who in turn believes he’s met her sometime in the last many millennia—all of which may signal a werewolf-vampire showdown. Duncan’s a gorgeous, daring writer even those horrified of horror can love.

Kertzer, David. The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe. Random. Feb. 2014. 576p. ISBN 9780812993462. $32; ebk. ISBN 9780679645535. Downloadable: Random Audio. HISTORICAL
A National Book Award finalist for The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara—being adapted for film by Stephen Spielberg and Tony Kushner and for Broadway by Alfred Uhry—Brown anthropology and Italian studies professor Kertzer here tackles the relationship between Pope Pius XI and Mussolini. After seven years’ worth of research in the Vatican archives, uncovering thousands of new documents, he argues that contrary to popular opinion Pius facilitated Mussolini’s rule in exchange for Mussolini’s enforcement of strict Catholic morality. This will have a bigger impact than the 25,000-copy first printing suggests.

Margolin, Phillip. Worthy Brown’s Daughter. Harper. Feb. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780062195340. $26.99. CD: HarperAudio. MYSTERY/HISTORICAL
It’s hardly surprising that Margolin’s latest work wraps with a huge courtroom scene, but what intrigues here is the setting. The hugely best-selling author of thrillers like Executive Privilege has forsaken the contemporary world for 19th-century Oregon, where lawyer Matthew Penny agrees to help freed slave Worthy Brown retrieve his daughter from their former master, a big-time Portland lawyer. Tragically, his efforts lead to Worthy’s arrest for murder. Meanwhile, ice-cold hanging judge Jed Tyler has fallen for a gorgeous woman with money in her sights and murder in her heart. Based on a real case, which should bring out the best in former criminal defense attorney Margolin; with a 150,000-copy first printing.

Quindlen, Anna. Still Life with Bread Crumbs. Random. Feb. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9781400065752. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780812995756. lrg. prnt. LITERARY FICTION/CONTEMPORARY WOMEN
Photographer Rebecca Winter was once famed worldwide for images like Still Life with Bread Crumbs, for which she is best known. But now her success has faded, as has her income, and she’s sublet her big-city apartment and moved to a cabin in the woods. A need for home repairs leads her to roofer Jim Bates, and by the novel’s closing pages she has love, a new view of the world, and a shiny tin roof. Upbeat romance from the socially astute Quindlen; with an eight-city tour to New York, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Miami, Kansas City (MO), Minneapolis, Seattle, and San Francisco.

Storace, Patricia. The Book of Heaven. Pantheon. Feb. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780375408069. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780307908698. LITERARY FICTION
Celebrated for her travel memoir Dinner with Persephone: Travels in Greece and an admirable poet as well, Storace has emerged after 15 quiet years with a distinctive new book that recasts the Old Testament from the perspective of its female protagonists, though don’t think Red Tent in terms of the writing. Storace takes a supremely mythopoetic approach, opening with Eve indignant at how incidents in the Garden of Eden were misrepresented. Explaining that there are more things in heaven than dreamt of in our philosophy, Eve shows us four unknown constellations—a knife, a cooking vessel, a paradise garden, and a pair of lovers—and their deep significance to women. Much anticipated in literary circles.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @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.