Our Vietnam, Legal Advice for Women, Langston Hughes, Andrew Cuomo, Fashion Giants | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Feb. 2015, Pt. 3

Appy, Christian G. American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity. Viking. Feb. 2015. 416p. ISBN 9780670025398. $28.95. HISTORY
A professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Appy is noted for two big books appyon the Vietnam War, Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered from All Sides, an oral history, and Working-Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam. Both were highly recommended by LJ. This current book, an in-house favorite at Viking, isn’t a history of the war but of its impact on America’s identity, policies, and popular culture, drawing on a blend of materials from song and film to fiction and official documents. In the end, we learn not only how the war was reported but how we managed to absorb and even package and contain it.

Green, Lisa. On Your Case: A Comprehensive, Compassionate (and Only Slightly Bossy) Legal Guide for Every Stage of a Woman’s Life. Morrow. Feb. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9780062307996. $26.99. LAW
Online dating, prenuptial agreements, pregnancy and adoption, divorce, workplace discrimination, domestic violence, and elder care. These issues and more, which greatly affect women, are treated in this legal guide designed especially for them—one of few such guides available. Green knows her stuff, having practiced corporate law before joining NBC News, first as a lawyer, then as a senior producer for Weekend Today and as an NBC News legal analyst. She’s reputedly a dynamo, so expect to hear a lot about this book. With a 50,000-copy first printing; a website is in the offing.

Hughes, Langston. Selected Letters of Langston Hughes. Knopf. Feb. 2015. 480p. ed. by Arnold Rampersad & others. ISBN 9780375413797. $35. ebk. ISBN 9780385353564. LITERATURE
A full-scale selection of the correspondence of distinguished African American poet/activist hughesHughes, this work is rightly considered a publishing event. Hughes’s correspondents here range from Countee Cullen and Paul Robeson to Carl Van Vechten and Ezra Pound, with letters arranged by decade and plenty of helpful context and commentary from the book’s three editors: noted critic/biographer Rampersad, humanities professor at Stanford and author of a two-volume life of Hughes, the first of which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, plus David Roessel and Chris Fratantoro. A new hardcover edition of Hughes’s first collection, The Weary Blues, will be released simultaneously (ISBN 9780385352970. $26).

Shnayerson, Michael. The Contender: Andrew Cuomo, a Biography. Twelve. Feb. 2015. 384p. ISBN 9781455521999. $28. 9781455522002. lib. ebk. 9781455579549. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. BIOGRAPHY
A politician who came back from the brink and is now being touted as a Presidential contender (but what’s this about the Moreland Commission Case?), New York Governor Cuomo gets a thoroughgoing political and personal biography from Shnayerson, contributing editor at Vanity Fair since 1986 whose decidedly unfluffy pieces there range from environmental hazards to the possible hacking of voting machines. Shnayerson clarifies Cuomo’s work as New York’s attorney general while plumbing his marriage to Kerry Kennedy to his relationship with Sandra Lee. Expect serialization and a big social media campaign.

Thomas, Dana. Gods and Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano. Penguin Pr. Jan. 2015. 384p. ISBN 9781594204944. $29.95. BIOGRAPHYthomasdana
For 15 years the European cultural and fashion correspondent for Newsweek in Paris, now a contributing editor for T: The New York Times Style Magazine and author of the best-selling DeLuxe, Thomas parallels the lives of leading fashion designers Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, both shy gay men from inner-city London who upended the fashion world starting in the 1990s. Then in 2010 McQueen took his life, and Galliano imploded a year later in a soused anti-Semitic tirade. What does the unmaking of these fashion kings tell us about couture—and culture? Pushed back from August 2014.

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.


  1. Karl Helicher says:

    Hi Barbara,

    Looking forward to the Appy book on Vietnam. Glad to have reviewed his PATRIOTS, which I still believe is the best oral history on Vietnam. It is used a lot of courses on the era. American Reckoning should be well received. Best, Karl