History & Political Science from the Fight for Marriage Equality to the Lives of Mitterrand | Nonfiction Previews, Apr. 2014, Pt. 4

Aly, Götz. Why the Germans? Why the Jews?: Envy, Race Hatred, and the Prehistory of the Holocaust. Metropolitan: Holt. Apr. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780805097009. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780805097047. HISTORY
A noted scholar of the Holocaust who’s won the National Jewish Book Award and the Heinrich Mann Prize, among other honors, Aly argues that German anti-Semitism was driven less by racist ideology than the backward-looking German population’s envy of the more focused and successful Jews. Bound to strike some sparks.

Becker, Jo. Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality. Penguin Pr. Apr. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781594204449. $27.95. POLITICAL SCIENCE
With California’s 2008 passage of Proposition 8, which barred gay couples from marrying, activists brought a legal case all the way to the Supreme Court with the help of attorneys Ted Olson and David Boise—interestingly, the opposing counsels in Bush v. Gore. Becker, a Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter at the New York Times exclusively embedded with the plaintiff’s legal team, offers an insider’s view of the battle, which included winning over the President.

Cohan, William D. The Price of Silence: The Duke Lacrosse Scandal, Wall Street, and the Power of the Elite. Scribner. Apr. 2014. 480p. ISBN 9781451681796. $30. SPORTS
A best-selling author of books like Money and Power who’s no stranger to the media, Cohan is also a graduate of Duke, which should make his report on the rape case involving the Duke lacrosse team especially insightful.

Goetz, Thomas. The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest To Cure Tuberculosis. Gotham. Apr. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781592407514. $27. MEDICAL/HISTORY
In 1875, when tuberculosis was responsible for a third of all deaths worldwide, German doctor Robert Koch identified the bacterium that caused the disease. He would go on to win a Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking work in bacteriology, but the cure he proposed for tuberculosis shocked a visiting small-town doctor named Arthur Conan Doyle. Atlantic correspondent Goetz writes frequently about medicine and science and was once executive editor of WIRED.

Howard, Philip K. The Rule of Nobody: Saving America from Dead Laws and Senseless Bureaucracy. Norton. Apr. 2014. 224p. ISBN 9780393082821. $23.95. POLITICAL SCIENCE
Following the recent government shutdown, there will be interest in this book from Howard, chair of the nonpartisan Common Good and author of the New York Times best seller The Death of Common Sense. His aim? To find a way to dump laws created in the past, for the past, and to move forward to create the infrastructure we need now.

Huckelbridge, Dane. Bourbon: A History of the American Spirit. Morrow. Feb. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780062241399. $25.99. SOCIAL HISTORY/BEVERAGES
Bourbon is distinctively American, so its history says barrels’ worth about our own. It’s the only liquor produced from corn, a distinctly New World grain, and it was first brewed in backwoods Appalachia. It’s now more popular than ever. Huckelbridge is a cofounder of the international arts and culture magazine GUTFIRE! Pushed back from February; with a 50,000-copy first printing.

Kiehl, Kent A. The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without a Conscience. Crown. Apr. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780770435844. $26. PSYCHOLOGY/MENTAL ILLNESS
Kiehl may not actually whisper to psychopaths, but as creator of the Mind Mobile MRI System, he is responsible for the largest extant repository of forensic neuroscience, which includes brain scans of more than 500 psychopaths and 3,000 criminal offenders nationwide. And he definitely thinks that the psychopath’s brain is different from yours and mine, which could help in both prediction and treatment.

McGraw, Peter & Joel Warner. The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny. S. & S. Apr. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781451665413. $26. SOCIAL SCIENCE
McGraw, founder of the Humor Research Lab at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and award-winning journalist Warner aren’t interested in reporting what’s funny but why it’s funny. To find out, they visited rat-tickling researchers, pondered how to win the New Yorker caption contest, and tried standup at the world’s largest comedy festival. Their findings may not change your life, but as the publicist says, “This one’s kind of great.”

Marsh, Charles. Strange Glory : A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Knopf. Apr. 2014. 528p. ISBN 9780307269812. $35. BIOGRAPHY
The author of numerous books and a professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia who has in fact served as the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Visiting Professor at Humboldt University in Berlin, Marsh offers a biography of the defiant German pastor that ranges from his mild youth to an eye-opening visit to America to the failed officers’ plot to kill Hitler. See also Eric Metaxas’s 2011 Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.

Nordberg, Jenny. The Underground Girls of Kabul. Crown. Apr. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780307952493. $25. SOCIAL SCIENCE
Nordberg’s New York Times piece “Afghan Boys Are Prized, So Girls Live the Part” elicited millions of views worldwide, so a book was inevitable. Here, Swedish journalist Nordberg explains the Afghan practice of bacha posh, raising girls as boys in a culture that devalues the female sex. These girls get greater opportunity and status, but what happens when they become adults? And what does this say to the rest of us?

Short, Philip. A Taste for Intrigue: The Multiple Lives of François Mitterrand. Holt. Apr. 2014. 640p. ISBN 9780805088533. $38; ebk. ISBN 9781429949491. BIOGRAPHY
Longtime foreign correspondent Short, much praised for his biographies of Mao and Pol Pot, here offers his take on the man who ruled longer than any other French head of state in modern times. Mitterrand served in Vichy and then the Resistance, may have staged his own assassination attempt in the late 1950s (for publicity), and became France’s first popularly elected Socialist president; no wonder his own doctor called him a mix of “Machiavelli, Don Corleone, Casanova and the Little Prince.”

Taraborrelli, J. Randy. The Hiltons: The True Story of an American Dynasty. Grand Central. Apr. 2014. 560p. ISBN 9781455516698. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781455582365; lib. ebk. ISBN 9781455582358. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. BIOGRAPHY
Having taken on everyone from the Kennedys to Diana Ross to Marilyn Monroe, New York Times best-selling author Taraborrelli seems ready to profile the glitter and excess that defines the Hiltons. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Tougias, Michael J. & Douglas A. Campbell. Rescue of the Bounty: Disaster and Survival in Superstorm Sandy. Scribner. Apr. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781476746630. $24. NATURE/OCEANS
With Hurricane Sandy fast approaching, Capt. Robin Walbridge of the HMS Bounty—the replica used in the 1962 remake of the 1935 classic Mutiny on the Bounty—opted to sail from New London, CT, to St. Petersburg, FL, believing that the ship had a better chance at sea than in port. Bad decision. Swamped by enormous waves, the ship sank, and the Coast Guard had to launch a huge rescue effort in the face of the storm. Two of the crew members perished. Edge-of-your-seat reading that’s ultimately sobering.

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.