Last of the October Nonfiction | Nonfiction Previews, Oct. 2017

Alpeyrie, Jonathan with Stash Luczkiw: The Shattered Lens: A War Photographer’s 81 Days of Captivity in Syria; a Story of Survival. Atria. Oct. 2017. 272p. ISBN 9781501146503. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781501146541. MEMOIR
Having reported from over a dozen conflict zones, French American photojournalist Alpeyrie became news himself in April 2013 when he was betrayed by his fixer and handed over to Syrian rebels, who held him for 81 days. Here he recounts how he reached out to them, trying to understand their culture and even teaching them how to swim, while discovering and mining his own spiritual depths. With a national tour.

Chadwick, Whitney. Farewell to the Muse: Love, War and the Women of Surrealism. Thames & Hudson. Oct. 2017. 256p. ISBN 9780500239681. $35. FINE ARTS
Beyond the likes of Rene Magritte and Max Ernst, surrealism claims many fine women painters, and Chadwick (Women, Art and Society) explores their crucial friendships at a crucial time: the war-shrouded decades of the 1930s through the 1950s. A few examples: Claude Cahun and Suzanne Malherbe on the occupied isle of Jersey and Lee Miller and Valentine Penrose at the front line. BEA promotion.

Childers, Thomas. The Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany. S. & S. Oct. 2017. 704p. ISBN 9781451651133. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781451651157. HISTORY
World War II has been chronicled from every angle, but Childers, formerly the Sheldon and Lucy Hackney Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, aims for something different: a comprehensive one-volume history of Nazi Germany designed for lay readers. Aiming for The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich territory, but that book was published in 1960.

Eig, Jonathan. Ali: A Life. Houghton Harcourt. Oct. 2017. 640p. ISBN 9780544435247. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781328744975. BIOGRAPHY/SPORTS
Currently developing a documentary on Muhammad Ali with Ken Burns, New York Times best-selling author Eig based what’s billed as the first complete, unauthorized Ali biography on interviews with key people in Ali’s life, including his three surviving wives and his managers; access to thousands of pages of new FBI and U.S. Department of Justice files; and long listening to dozens of hours of newly discovered audiotaped interviews from the 1960s. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Fabey, Michael. Crashback: The Power Clash Between the U.S. and China in the Pacific. Scribner. Oct. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9781501112041. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501112065. POLITICAL SCIENCE
A Timothy White Award–winning journalist who focuses on military and especially naval affairs, Fabey highlights tensions in the Pacific, where China is currently challenging U.S. dominance of the seas since World War II with a navy that is now the world’s largest. The immediate danger: in the South China Sea, international trade worth five trillion dollars will be jeopardized. The long-term danger: war.

Flanders, Judith. Christmas: A Biography. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Oct. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9781250118349. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250118356. HISTORY
Author of the LibraryReads pick mystery series starring Samantha “Sam” Clair, Flanders is also a New York Times–best-selling historian focusing on the Victorian era. So it’s no surprise that her new book documents Christmas as celebration. But she treads back to an early pope’s complaints about excess holiday cheer, the first Christmas tree (in central Europe), the first appearance of Santa (probably in Switzerland), the first holiday parade (not Macy’s!), and more. In-house love.

Hager, Jenna Bush & Barbara Pierce Bush. Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life. Grand Central. Oct. 2017. 256p. ISBN 9781538711415. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781538711439. CD/Hachette Audio. MEMOIR
As First Granddaughters and then First Daughters, the authors know what it’s like to be followed around by the Secret Police, not to mention reporters and shutter-happy paparazzi focused on news flashes. Now they want to set the record straight regarding who they really are. With an introduction by Laura Bush; a 300,000-copy first printing and a seven-city tour.

Haramis, Nicholas, ed. Courage Is Contagious: To Michelle Obama, with Love. Lenny: Random. Oct. 2017. 160p. ISBN 9780399592614. $20; ebk. ISBN 9780399592621. ESSAYS
Many people have been inspired and influenced by Michelle Obama, and Haramis, editor of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, collected 20 original essays from writers, celebrities, and a public school child that communicate what she meant to them. Contributors include Cheryl Strayed, Alice Waters, Mary-Louise Parker, and Rebecca Traister. The first nonfiction from Lena Dunham’s new Random imprint Lenny.

Hodge, Roger D. Texas Blood: Seven Generations Among the Outlaws, Ranchers, Indians, Missionaries, Soldiers, and Smugglers of the Borderlands. Knopf. Oct. 2017. 368p. ISBN 9780307961402. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307961419. Downloadable: Random Audio. SOCIAL HISTORY
National editor of The Intercept, author of The Mendacity of Hope, and a National Magazine finalist, Hodge blends memoir and history to explain why his family has lived in Texas for seven generations and why Texas so hugely attracts and repels. Compared to Ian Frazier’s Great Plains.

Jurek, Scott. North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail. Little, Brown. Oct. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9780316433792. $28;ebk. ISBN 9780316433785. lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316510202. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. MEMOIR
Internationally renowned ultrarunner Jurek has won most of his sport’s main events, including three consecutive victories in the 153-mile Spartathlon. But deciding that he was going to break the speed record for the Appalachian Trail was a different sort of challenge. He did it in 46 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes. With a 150,000-copy first printing.

Marsh, Henry. Admissions: Life as a Brain Surgeon. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Oct. 2017. 288p. ISBN 9781250127266. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250127273. CD/Macmillan Audio. BIOGRAPHY
Author of the New York Times best-selling memoir Do No Harm and subject of the Emmy Award–winning The English Surgeon and Your Life in Their Hands, awarded the Royal Television Society Gold Medal, Marsh recently retired from his post at a London hospital but decided not to take it easy. Now, as he explains here, he travels to remote hospitals in places like Nepal and Pakistan to offer his services as both surgeon and teacher. With big publicity; The New Yorker calls Marsh “the Knausgaard of neurosurgery.”

Moore, Thomas. Ageless Soul: The Lifelong Journey Toward Meaning and Joy. St. Martin’s. Oct. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9781250135810. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250135827. CD/Macmillan Audio. SELF-HELP/AGING
Author of Care of the Soul, which spent nearly a year on the New York Times best sellers list, Moore now attends to the art of growing older, turning “aging” into “ageless” by discussing such issues as mentoring, spirituality, sexuality, building new ties, and, most interestingly, the recognition that melancholy is natural with the passing years and how not to confuse it with depression. There’s hope.

Moorehead, Caroline. A Bold and Dangerous Family: The Remarkable Story of an Italian Mother, Her Two Sons, and Their Fight Against Fascism. Harper. Oct. 2017. 432p. ISBN 9780062308306. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062308320. lrg. prnt. HISTORY
A National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for Human Cargo, admirable historian Moorehead follows A Train in Winter and Village of Secrets with another portrait of World War II Resistance, this time focusing on the remarkable Rosselli family of Florence. Cosmopolitan aristocrats led by matriarch Amelia, the Rossellis figured largely in the pushback when Mussolini came to power, with Amelia’s sons Carlo and Nello leading the opposition. That led to their assassination. With a 75,000-copy first printing.

Mukhopadhyay, Samhita & Kate Harding, ed. Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump’s America. Picador. Oct. 2017. 256p. ISBN 9781250155504. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781250155511. SOCIAL SCIENCE
Resisting the new regime’s efforts to put them in their place, nasty women are out in force, with feminist writers like Cheryl Strayed, Rebecca Solnit, Jessica Valenti, Katha Pollitt, and Samantha Irby here contributing essays arguing for continued efforts to assure women equal rights. An activist’s primer.

O’Grey, Eric with Mark Dagostino. Walking with Peety: The Dog Who Saved My Life. Grand Central. Oct. 2017. 240p. ISBN 9781478971160. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781478971146. CD/Hachette Audio. MEMOIR
O’Grey was depressed, seriously overweight, and developing diabetes when a new doctor told him to get a shelter dog. Petey was no puppy and also overweight, and O’Grey turned around both their lives by launching a plan to get them back in shape. He lost 150 pounds, dumped his medication, and married his high school sweetheart, while Petey lost 25 pounds and got the spring back in his step. Such a great story that the video chronicling of this daring duo has received more than 65 million views on Facebook alone. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Stillman, Deanne. Blood Brothers: The Story of the Strange Friendship Between Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill. S. & S. Oct. 2017. 288p. ISBN 9781476773520. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781476773544. HISTORY
Author of Twentynine Palms, a Los Angeles Times best seller and one of its Best Books of 2001, as well as Mustang and Desert Reckoning, Stillman tells arresting stories of the American West. Here she limns the friendship of Buffalo Bill Cody and Lakota chief Sitting Bull, focusing on their time together in Cody’s Wild West show in the 1880s. The show’s advertising slogan was “Foes in ’76, Friends in ’85,” and though one may wince, considering the progress that hasn’t been made in white treatment of American Indians since, it’s interesting to hear from Stillman that Cody treated his white and Indian performers equally.

Wachter-Boettcher, Sara. Technically Wrong: Why Digital Products Are Designed To Fail You. Norton. Oct. 2017. 240p. ISBN 9780393634631. $24.95. TECHNOLOGY
Since Philadelphia-based Wachter-Boettcher is a web consultant, one can’t imagine that she has a bias against digital products, but she does claim that they can be biased in their design, created without sufficient oversight and sometimes harrowingly unethical. From chatbots that harass women to social media sites that send cheery news about dead relatives to algorithms that put more black people in prison, digital products can cause real damage. Food for thought.

Winfrey, Oprah. The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations. Flatiron: Macmillan. Oct. 2017. 240p. ISBN 9781250138064. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250138071. CD/Macmillan Audio. INSPIRATION
Divided into ten chapters, this sumptuously designed book offers Winfrey’s reflections on her spiritual journey, highlighting special life-changing moments. Also included are lots of four-color photos and quotes from folks like Elizabeth Gilbert, Wayne Dyer, and Brene Brown, whom you’ve spotted on Winfrey’s famed Super Soul Sunday. Publication will be facilitated by Winfrey’s extraordinary media empire, social and otherwise, with publication tied to one of those Sunday episodes.


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.

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