Ackroyd on the Stuarts & Charlie Chaplin, Bai on Gary Hart, Hill on Diplomacy, & More | Nonfiction Previews, Oct. 2014, Pt. 5

Ackroyd, Peter. Rebellion: The History of England from James I to the Glorious Revolution. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Oct. 2014. 528p. ISBN 9781250003638. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466855991. HISTORY
The award-winning biographer, historian, and novelist (e.g., Whitbread Novel Award, James Tait Black Memorial Prize) continues his “History of England” series with a third volume focusing on the Stuart dynasty, when England and Scotland united and a king lost his head.

Ackroyd, Peter. Charlie Chaplin. Nan A. Talese; Doubleday. Oct. 2014. 272p. ISBN ackroydchaplin9780385537377. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780385537384. BIOGRAPHY
Not every author can move from weighty history (like Rebellion, above) to the study of a world-class performer like Chaplin. Ackroyd manages it gracefully, though this is not your standard gossipy bio: the author paints Chaplin as the heir to William Blake and Charles Dickens. Not a monster scholarly volume, though; intended as a slim and focused work.

Baer, Robert B. The Perfect Kill: 21 Laws for Assassins. Blue Rider. Oct. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780399168574. $27.95. MEMOIR
Baer’s four previous books all made the New York Times best sellers list, and George Clooney won an Academy Award for playing Baer in Syriana, adapted from Baer’s See No Evil. Here he gives us an insider’s understanding of assassination because, yes, this former CIA operative has been an assassin, too.

Bai, Matt. All the Truth Is Out: The Fall of Gary Hart and the Rise of Tabloid Politics. Knopf. Oct. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780307273383. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385353120. CD/downloadable: HISTORY
The former chief political correspondent for the New York Times Magazine, now national political columnist for Yahoo News, Bai argues that the crash and burn of Colorado congressman Gary Hart’s presidential aspirations following accusations of adultery was a turning point in U.S. political media coverage. What followed was a great focus on character and the beginning of the 24-hour cooneynews cycle and biting late-night political assessment. A different take on Hart, and even Hart’s paramour, Donna Rice, gets to weigh in.

Cooney, Kara. The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt. Crown. Oct. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780307956767. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780307956781. Downloadable: Random Audio. HISTORY
Cooney uses her knowledge as associate professor of Egyptian Art and Architecture at UCLA and her common touch as producer of the archaeology series Out of Egypt, first seen on the Discovery Channel in 2009 and still going strong, to tell the story of Egypt’s longest-reigning female pharaoh (and rare at that). Billed as the first lay reader’s tome on Hatshepsut.

Davidson, Andrew. A Doctor in the Great War: Unseen Photographs of Life in the Trenches. Marble Arch: Atria. Oct. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781476777559. $37. PHOTOGRAPHY/HISTORY
Davidson collects 250 photographs taken by his grandfather, Fred Davison, one of the first doctors to win the Military Cross, that give us a distinctive view of life on the front during World War I. Four color throughout.

Dawson, David. A Painter’s Progress: A Portrait of Lucian Freud. Knopf. Oct. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780385354080. $65. ART
Not a biography, this work chronicles the creative efforts of master painter Lucian Freud in 240 photographs taken over the course of nearly 20 years by Dawson, Freud’s assistant, companion, and model. Dawson takes us right up to the hanging of Freud’s work for a eigposthumous London exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

Eig, Jonathan. The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution. Norton. Oct. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9780393073720. $27.95. HISTORY
The best-selling author of popular history, with subjects ranging from Lou Gehrig to Al Capone, Eig here tracks the groundbreaking development of the birth control pill by focusing on four people who made it happen: scientist Gregory Pincus, forced out of Harvard and working from his garage; radical feminist Margaret Sanger; philanthropist Katharine McCormick, who financed the effort; and, defiantly, Catholic doctor John Rock.

Follis, Edward & Douglas Century. The Last Call: Undercover in the World’s Most Dangerous Narco-Terror Organizations. Gotham. Oct. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781592408931. $28. MEMOIR
In his 27 years as a much-decorated agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Follis worked undercover to develop ultimately revealing relationships with international drug lords of every stripe, including operatives from Al Qaeda, Hamas, the Mexican cartels, and more. His memoir is particularly significant because Follis is responsible for persuading the DEA to think global in its war on drugs.

Friedman, David M. Wilde in America: Oscar Wilde and the Invention of Modern Celebrity. Norton. Oct. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780393063172. $26.95. BIOGRAPHY/LITERARY
When Oscar Wilde toured America in 1882, traveling 15,000 miles, visiting 29 of the country’s top 30 cities, and giving 150 lectures and nearly as many interviews, he wasn’t a big-name author yet. But he became a celebrity, which surely helped his writing career. And that’s how it’s still done today.

Hill, Christopher. Outpost: Life on the Front Lines of American Diplomacy: A Memoir. S. & S. Oct. 2014. 432p. ISBN 9781451685916. $30. DIPLOMACY
Hill started as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon and eventually became the first American hillchrisambassador to Macedonia, ambassador to Poland and to South Korea (also serving as chief disarmament negotiator in North Korea), and Hillary Clinton’s handpicked ambassador to Iraq. Here he tells us what it’s like to be a top-ranked diplomat, with key international figures and bureaucratic warfare as backdrop.

Holzer, Harold. Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion. S. & S. Oct. 2014. 832p. ISBN 9781439192719. $35. HISTORY
Chair of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, Holzer explores President Abraham Lincoln’s complex relationship with the press. A big consumer of newsprint from his early days, Lincoln eventually used newspapers to speak directly to the people. Yet he instituted censorship when war broke out, even closing down papers that challenged him, and battled politicized editors who were themselves jockeying for power. With a seven-city tour to Boston, Chicago, Gettysburg, Washington, DC, and more.

Jericho, Chris with Peter Thomas Fornatale. The Best in the World: At What I Have No Idea. Gotham. Oct. 2014. 432p. ISBN 9781592407521. $28. SPORTS
Called one of the Top Ten wrestlers of all time by World Wrestling Entertainment, Jericho has already made the New York Times best sellers list with A Lion’s Tale and Undisputed. There are more wild stories here, including how he reshaped his career after watching the film No Country for Old Men.

Jones, Dan. The War of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors. Viking. Oct. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9780670026678. $36. HISTORY
After the New York Times best-selling The Plantagenets (the basis of a forthcoming four-part TV series) comes a book on the fall of that longest-reigning British royal family, precipitated by a series of awful civil wars that saw the crown change hands five times. Anglophiles and history readers generally will love this book, of course, but note the promotional bit about the War of the Roses as backdrop to Game of Thrones.

Katz, Jon. Saving Simon: How a Rescue Donkey Taught Me the Meaning of Compassion. Ballantine. Oct. 2014. 224p. ISBN 9780345531193. $25. MEMOIRkatzjon
Katz has written 26 books of fiction and nonfiction, many of them centered on Bedlam Farm, the upstate New York homestead he shares with his wife, artist Maria Wulf, and an assortment of animals. Departing from his lovely dog-themed work, Katz here tells the story of Simon, a donkey that Katz rescued from a failing farm and with whom he sagely discusses the big issues in life.

Kim, Suki. Without You There Is No Us. Crown. Oct. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9780307720658. $24. HISTORY
Seoul-born Korean American author Kim will need to use all the narrative skills evidenced by her debut novel, The Interpreter, a PEN Beyond Margins Award winner, as she relates a unique experience in North Korea. She taught English to the sons of North Korea’s elite at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology at the end of Kim Jong Il’s reign. A rare window into a regime that’s about as closed as one could imagine.

Krist, Gary. Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans. Crown. Oct. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780770437060. $26. HISTORY
Author of books like the best-selling City of Scoundrels and an award winner to boot (e.g., Stephen Crane Award, Sue Kaufman Prize), Krist offers a juicy tale of early 20th-century New Orleans, where Tom Anderson virtually ran the city’s Storyville vice district. Then the New Orleans elite launched a 30-year battle against the city’s dark side.

Lanchester, John. How To Speak Money: What the Money People Say—And What It Really Means. Norton. Oct. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780393243376. $26.95. FINANCElanchestermoney
Most of us feel that we need someone to explain basic issues of money to us, and why not the author of stunning novels like Capital, as well as I.O.U., a book on the financial crisis? No less a magazine than the Economist says that this book explains “complex stuff in a down-to-earth and witty style.”

Leaming, Barbara. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: A Biography. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Oct. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781250017642. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250017635. CD: Macmillan Audio. BIOGRAPHY
Having written big biographies of movie stars from Katharine Hepburn to Marilyn Monroe, Leaming takes on a star in another firmament.

Lucas, Geralyn. Then Came life: A Memoir of Living with the Same Courage, Spirit, and Humor That Helped Me Survive Breast Cancer. Gotham. Oct. 2014. 240p. ISBN 9781592408955. $27. MEMOIR
The author of Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy, the basis of an award-winning Lifetime film that airs annually in October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Lucas returns to tell us what happened to her after that mastectomy—including marriage and two children.

Maier, Thomas. When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys. Crown. Oct. 2014. 752p. ISBN 9780307956798. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780307956811. HISTORY
The Churchills and the Kennedys first came together in the mid-1930s, when U.S. Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy traveled to Chartwell, Churchill’s country estate. Newsday investigative reporter Maier (Masters of Sex) shows how tensions between the two over Churchill’s efforts to pull America into the fight against Hitler eventually eased into friendship and mutual familial influence.

Ryback, Timothy W. Hitler’s First Victims: The Beginning of the Holocaust. Knopf. Oct. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780385352918. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385352925. HISTORY
Hitler’s first victims were inmates killed in 1933 by SS guards at the Dachau concentration hillarycamp, and Ryback focuses here on one man brave enough to seek justice for the victims: Munich prosecutor Josef Hartinger. Would that others had emulated him. From the author of Hitler’s Private Library, a Washington Post Book World Best Book.

Walker, Diana. Hillary: The Photographs of Diana Walker. S. & S. Oct. 2014. 224p. ISBN 9781476763378. $40. PHOTOGRAPHY
One of Time’s two White House photographers during the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations, Walker first photographed Hillary Clinton in 1976, when she was just a few years out of college, and has followed her from the White House to the Senate, the presidential campaign, and her work as secretary of state. With 150-plus four-color and black-and-white photos.


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.