Paris to Palestine to America | Nonfiction Previews, Jul. 2017, Pt. 4

Begley, Adam. The Great Nadar: The Man Behind the Camera. Tim Duggan: Hogarth. Jul. 2017. 256p. ISBN 9781101902608. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781101902615. HISTORY
Former books editor of the New York Observer, Begley offers the portrait of an artist as both nadarcelebrity and entrepreneur. Nadar was famed for iconic photographs of folks like Manet and Sarah Bernhardt and for feats as a balloonist that included launching an air mail service; the sign on his Paris studio bore his name in illuminated letters that were ten feet tall. A fascinating life and times.

Collins, Britt. Strays: A Lost Cat, a Drifter, and Their Journey Across America. Atria. Jul. 2017. 272p. ISBN 9781501122590. $24; ebk. ISBN 9781501122606. MEMOIR
Journalist/activist Collins’s rescued-by-the-cat title recalls James Bowen’s A Street Cat Named Bob, but it’s got a twist. Homeless, alcoholic Michael King lives miserably in a Portland, OR, UPS loading bay until he encounters an injured stray he nurses back to health and names Tabor. As they travel the great Northwest, Michael is able to pull his life together, but a trip to a veterinarian reveals that Tabor has an identification chip and an owner still desperately looking for her. Now Michael has a choice to make. Bittersweet, indeed.

Danticat, Edwidge. The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story. Graywolf. Jul. 2017. 160p. ISBN 9781555977771. pap. $14; ebk. ISBN 9781555979690. WRITING
“I have been writing about death for as long as I have been writing,” says Danticat, which is often true of those who live by the pen. Here she uses her mother’s dying from cancer as a way to investigate how she and other writers (e.g., Gabriel García Márquez, Toni Morrison) talk about death in their own work. With a national tour.

Gidla, Sujatha. Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India. Farrar. Jul. 2017. 320p. ISBN 9780865478114. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780374711382. HISTORY/MEMOIR
Not everyone has a personal story as revealing of larger history as Gidla, who was born an gidlauntouchable (like one in six people in India) and claims immediate forbears who lived during the twilight of British colonial rule. Fortunate to be educated by Canadian missionaries (most untouchables are illiterate), they battled for their rights; Gidla’s uncle Satyam became a famous poet and left-wing activist, while her mother challenged caste and women’s oppression. Gidla herself came to this country at age 26, looking for a better life. Here’s her story, writ large.

Goldstein, Bill. The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster and the Year That Changed Literature. Holt. Jul. 2017. 352p. ISBN 780805094022. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781627795296. LITERATURE
What’s in a year? If it’s 1922, a lot. That year, James Joyce’s Ulysses was published, Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu first began appearing in English, and Woolf, Eliot, Lawrence, and Forster all made significant breakthroughs that signaled the birth of modernism. As Willa Cather said, “The world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts,” and Goldstein, founding editor of the books site of the New York Times on the Web, shows us what that shatter meant.

Henderson, Bruce. Sons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the U.S. Army To Fight Hitler. Morrow. Jul. 2017. 448p. ISBN 9780062419095. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062419118. lrg. prnt. HISTORY
In 1942, the U.S. Army did something brilliant. It trained nearly 2,000 German-born Jews in special hendersoninterrogation techniques and sent them to every major combat unit in Europe, where they interrogated German POWs and gathered intelligence crucial to the success of the Allies. They were called the Ritchie Boys, and their story is told by the author of the No. 1 New York Times best seller And the Sea Will Tell. With a 200,000-copy first printing.

Hunt, Patrick N. Hannibal. S. & S. Jul. 2017. 416p. ISBN 9781439102176. $28; ebk. ISBN 781439109779. HISTORY
Hannibal famously led war elephants across the Alps to challenge the Romans, and his tactics are still studied in military academies today. Historian/archaeologist Hunt, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society known to viewers of the Discovery Channel and Nova, has led expeditions in the Alps and elsewhere to study Hannibal’s accomplishments and shares his findings here in a full-scale biography.

Klam, Julie. The Stars in Our Eyes: The Famous, the Infamous, and Why We Care Way Too Much About Them. Riverhead. Jul. 2017. 240p. ISBN 9781594631368. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781101611180. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. POPULAR CULTURE
What does it mean to be a celebrity, and why do we care so much? The author of New York Times best sellers like You Had Me at Woof brings her personal experience to bear on these heady questions, updating us to the present day as she reflects that celebrity could mean “some girl on kuoInstagram who does nude yoga and has 3.5 million followers, a 13-year-old ’viner,’ and a Korean rapper who posts his videos that are viewed millions of times.”

Kuo, Michelle. Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship. Random. Jul. 2017. 320p. ISBN 9780812997316. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780812997323. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. MEMOIR/SOCIAL SCIENCE
In 2004, while teaching English at an alternative school in the Arkansas Delta under the auspices of Teach for America, Kuo bonded with a bright and eager student named Patrick Browning. Three years later, as she completed law school, she learned that Patrick was in jail for murder and returned to the delta to continue reading and discussing literature with him. They remain friends to this day. Inspired by a “Popular Lives” column published in the New York Times Magazine.

St. Germain, Jim with Jon Sternfeld. A Stone of Hope: A Memoir. Harper. Jul. 2017. 224p. ISBN 9780062458797. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062458810. MEMOIR
Born impoverished in Haiti and raised by an alcoholic father in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights, St. germainGermain eventually lost 16 friends to inner-city violence and was a convicted felon by age 15. Fortunately, he was placed in a nonsecure detention facility focused on rehabilitation and through good mentoring got his GED and a college degree. Then he returned to Crown Heights to help youngsters like his former self. Cofounder of Preparing Leaders of Tomorrow, Inc. (PLOT), a nonprofit organization that provides mentoring to at-risk youth, and a leader today; with a 50,000-copy first printing.

Soueif, Ahdaf & Omar Robert Hamilton, eds. This Is Not a Border: Reportage & Reflection from the Palestine Festival of Literature. Bloomsbury USA. Jul. 2017. 320p. ISBN 9781632868848. pap. $18. CURRENT EVENTS
The Palestine Festival of Literature was established in 2008 by Ahdaf Soueif, a political commentator and the Booker short-listed author of The Map of Love; journalist and author Brigid Keenan; and Omar Robert Hamilton, whose The City Always Wins, a forthcoming debut novel about the Arab Spring, is just now getting attention. This ten-anniversary celebration of the festival includes essays, poems, and sketches by nearly 40 authors, from J.M. Coetzee and Alice Walker to Michael Ondaatje to Claire Messud, recalling their experiences at an event meant to confound military repression.

Waite, Jen. A Beautiful, Terrible Thing: A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal. Plume. Jul. 2017. 272p. ISBN 9780735216464. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780735216501. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. MEMOIR
Married to the love of her life, the father of her infant daughter, Waite began catching him in ever more serious betrayals and manipulations, finally realizing that she didn’t know him at all—that he was, in fact, a psychopath. Dual narratives parallel her blooming love and her crashing life and marriage. Big expectations on this book; Waite’s story has attracted considerable national media attention.

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.