Aczel on Science and Religion, Hadlow on King George III, Jessye Norman on Her Life, & More | Nonfiction Previews, May 2014, Pt. 5

Aczel, Amir. Why Science Does Not Disprove God. Morrow. Apr. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780062230591. $27.99. SCIENCE/RELIGION
Aczel, the award-winning author of Fermat’s Last Theorem and recipient of a doctoral degree in mathematics from Berkeley, profoundly disagrees with the decree by the so-called New Atheists that modern breakthroughs in science prove that there is no God. Here he argues that the works of scientists like Albert Einstein, Roger Penrose, and Charles Darwin show that the door isn’t closed on a Supreme Being. Take that, Richard Dawkins.

Buckley, Christopher. But Enough About You: Essays. S. & S. May 2014. 448p. ISBN 9781476749518. $27.50. HUMOR/ESSAYS
In his first book of essays since his 1997 best seller, Wry Martinis, Buckley tackles things like teaching his four-year-old to ski, the making of the bug zapper, and the joys of literary friendship. get ready for social satire.

Carolla, Adam. President Me: The America That’s in My Head. It: HarperCollins. May 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780062320407. $26.99. CD: Harper Audio. HUMOR/ESSAYS
“The Adam Carolla Podcast” stands in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most downloaded podcast, and both his books—In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks and Not Taco Bell Material—made the New York Times best sellers list. So I guess he might be able to win the presidential election if he ran. Here’s his view of the chummy America he envisions. With an eye-popping 250,000-copy first printing.

Hadlow, Janice. A Royal Experiment: The Private Life of King George III. Holt. May 2014. 512p. ISBN 9780805096569. $35. BIOGRAPHY
BBC Two controller Hadlow’s first book gives us a new view of Britain’s George III, the royal from whom America won its independence and often called the mad king. In fact, says Hadlow, he had such a painful upbringing among mean-spirited, scheming family members—both his father and grandfather abhorred their sons—that he came to the throne determined to do good. A large part of the story here is his happy life with Queen Charlotte and their 15 children

Hall, Andy. Denali’s Howl. Dutton. May 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780525954064. $27.95. MOUNTAINEERING
Imagine an icy Arctic blizzard with winds up to 300 miles an hour and cold so intense that it freezes the flesh in an instant. That’s what 12 young men encountered in 1967 when they attempted to climb Alaska’s Mount McKinley, called Denali by the locals. Only five survived. Journalist Hall, son of the park superintendent at the time, spoke with survivors and rescuers and studied recordings of the relevant radio communications to reconstruct the tragedy and ponder whether more could have been done to help the climbers.

Kasson, John F. The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America. Norton. May 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780393240795. $27.95. BIOGRAPHY
In her day, Shirley Temple was as photographed as FDR, and her cheerful spirits amid the Great Depression made her the box office champ for four years running. Cultural historian Kasson shows us that she wasn’t just a celluloid cutie pie but a force that helped shape marketing to children, the emerging international cult of celebrity, and the aspirations of everyone who saw her. A lot to put on that curly head!

Kaufman, Andrew D. Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Troubled Times. S. & S. May 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781451644708. $25. LITERARY CRITICISM
Russian literature scholar Kaufman serves as Tolstoy expert for Oprah’s Book Club, so clearly he has the common touch. Here he argues that Tolstoy’s massive tome is particularly relevant to our times, which he sees as paralleling the social and spiritual upheaval of an 1800s Russia at war. Love that title.

Kinney, David. The Dylanologists: Adventures in the Land of Bob. S. & S. May 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781451626926. $25. MUSIC
Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Kinney has an interesting turn of mind. His well-received first book, The Big One, concerns Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby. This new book examines Dylan’s most fanatical fans—the ones who, to Dylan’s dismay, track down obscure tapes, relentlessly analyze his lyrics, even dig through his garbage—to understand the musician’s place in American culture.

Norman, Jessye. Stand Up Straight and Sing! Houghton Harcourt. May 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780544003408. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780544003385. MEMOIR/MUSIC
The youngest person to have received a Kennedy Center Honor, with more than 40 honorary doctorates to her name and even an orchid named after her by the French Museum of Natural History, Norman isn’t simply one of the greatest opera singers ever. She’s also an icon in the fight for equality, having grown up in the segregated South and made a belated Metropolitan Opera debut after triumphing in Berlin, and her story is important reading.

Ross, John F. Enduring Courage: Ace Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker and the Dawn of the Age of Speed. St. Martin’s. May 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781250033772. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250033789. CD: Macmillan Audio. BIOGRAPHY
The executive editor of American Heritage offers a thorough biography of Rickenbacker, showing how he overcame a handicap, his father’s death, and accusations that he was a German spy to become a World War I flying ace. Then he bought Eastern Air Lines and survived two bad crashes, including one on a secret mission during World War II that left his party adrift for 24 days.

Selz, Gabrielle. Unstill Life: A Daughter’s Memoir of Art and Love in the Age of Abstraction. Norton. May 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780393239171. $26.95. MEMOIR
Chief curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in the 1960s and 1970s, Selz’s father brought home folks like Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and Christo. When he left his family to run a museum in California, Selz’s mother moved the family to a utopian artist community but continued a wild affair with her former husband for 40 years, though he had four more marriages. Okay, not your conventional family; this memoir should be riveting.

Thompson, Bill III. The New Birder’s Guide to Birds of North America. Houghton Harcourt. May 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780544070479. pap. $16.95. BIRD-WATCHING
Thompson, editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest, has written numerous well-regarded books about birds. But this one is special, as it’s aimed at adults who are new to bird-watching. To help them along, the author draws on his Young Birder’s Guide, offering clear maps, photos, and descriptions and covering 300 of the most common birds found in American and Canada. Now adult newcomers to the field won’t have to go to the children’s section.

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.


  1. Karl Helicher says:

    As always, excellent, eclectic choices!