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Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended on It

Chris Voss, with Tahl Raz. Harper Business, $28.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-240780-1

Voss writes that “kidnappers are just businessmen trying to get the best price,” and he should know; before founding a consulting firm, the Black Swan Group, he spent over two decades as an FBI hostage negotiator. While taking an executive negotiating course at Harvard, he realized that his hostage-saving techniques were well suited to the business world. Voss, who believes that “life is negotiation,” has set out to help readers get what they want out of any given situation, without harming the other parties. Along with telling stories of his time in the FBI, he guides readers through key lessons, such as how to “confront without confrontation,” understand an opponent’s emotions, become good at saying no, manipulate your opponent’s reality, and develop the calm but authoritative vocal style he calls “the late-night FM DJ voice.” Chatty and friendly and packed with helpful resources, this is an intriguing approach to business and personal negotiations. Agent: Steve Ross, Abrams Artists Agency. (May)

Reviewed on 02/05/2016 | Details & Permalink

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True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray

James Renner. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $25.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-250-08901-4

In this in-depth crime exploration, journalist Renner (The Serial Killer’s Apprentice) pursues the truth behind the disappearance of Maura Murray, a University of Massachusetts student who vanished in 2004 after a car accident in the mountains of New Hampshire, while tying his interest in the case to his own troubled life. The conflicting evidence surrounding Murray’s disappearance and the events leading up to her last sighting have baffled investigators and authorities for over a decade, with theories ranging from abduction to suicide to a voluntary disappearance on her part. Renner describes his own private investigation, which borders on obsessive, as he tracks down Murray’s friends and family, often contacting them despite their wishes to be left alone, running down cold trails and wild leads. He recounts the years of research, utilizing the collective efforts of amateur sleuths on the Internet, and his own inexhaustible skills, all of which leads him to some sort of conclusion. While this is clearly the definitive write-up on Murray’s story to date, Renner’s personal involvement in the case—and his self-destructive, relentless dedication to confronting the darkness at the heart of it—is the more noteworthy component of the narrative. Agent: Yishai Seidman, Dunow, Carlson, and Lerner. (May)

Reviewed on 02/05/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Artist’s Compass: The Com-plete Guide to Building a Life and a Living in the Performing Arts

Rachel S. Moore. S&S/Touchstone, $24.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-5011-0595-1

Moore, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Music Center, illuminates the business side of the performing arts in this smart guide for young artists entering their chosen fields. She has a cornucopia of useful tips gleaned through firsthand experience as a dancer, turned arts administrator. She asks readers what success looks like to them, and which unique characteristics they bring to the world. She then urges them to consider their own brand and create an effective network. Moore also emphasizes nitty-gritty matters such as marketing, insurance, where to find work, industry players, copyright law, finances, and healthy living. Her writing style is precise and realistic but also passionate, and it will give readers the sense of a much-needed guiding hand. Moore is qualified to become a mentor to a whole new generation of artists, and they will benefit greatly from her advice. Agent: Susan Ginsburg, Writers House. (May)

Reviewed on 02/05/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Politicians and the Egalitarians: The Hidden History of American Politics

Sean Wilentz. Norton, $29.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-393-28502-4

Wilentz, author of the Bancroft Prize–winning Rise of American Democracy and professor of history at Princeton University, once again proves himself to be among America’s most skilled (and pugilistic) historians with this brisk, hard-hitting book. He tries, with some success, to rescue liberalism from its detractors on the left and right by arguing that, at its best, liberalism has succeeded through pragmatic, principled politics as well as ideals. Wilentz also convincingly argues that efforts to reduce economic and other inequalities have been a constant in the nation’s history. (It should be noted that he doesn’t stress that counterefforts have also been a constant.) He makes his case principally by taking up other historians’ work about major historical figures: Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, John Brown, Abraham Lincoln, W.E.B. Dubois, Theodore Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson chief among them. Sometimes Wilentz praises their work, but he’s at his energetic best when on the attack against detractors of his foregrounded great men, and he doesn’t hesitate to describe some histories as “nonsense” and “junk.” In other hands, this would seem silly and lacking force; in Wilentz’s, it’s authoritative and telling. The result is wonderfully readable and the best kind of serious, sharp argumentation from one of the leading historians of the United States. (May)

Reviewed on 02/05/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece ‘The Sun Also Rises’

Lesley M.M. Blume. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27 (416p) ISBN 978-0-544-27600-0

In this revealing new study, Blume shows that a series of competing internal and external pressures helped birth Hemingway’s now-legendary debut roman à clef, The Sun Also Rises. Blume begins by tracing Hemingway’s dogged path to becoming a published writer. By the time Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley, arrived in Paris in 1921, he was considered one of the most promising young American authors, though he had published only a few short stories. The particulars of the Hemingways’ epic trip to Pamplona, Spain, with five friends in the summer of 1925—and the romantic entanglements that followed—shed light not only on Hemingway’s early career but also on other stories of the lost generation. After Hemingway refashioned their trip into a novel, he focused on a publishing contract for what he firmly believed be a blockbuster sensation. In the subsequent negotiations and editing process, Blume reveals, F. Scott Fitzgerald played a surprisingly large role. Blume has carved a mountain of original research into a riveting tale of Hemingway’s literary, romantic, and publishing travails. Agent: Molly Friedrich, Friedrich Agency. (June)

Reviewed on 02/05/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination

Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf. Norton/Liveright, $27.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-87140-442-8

Gordon-Reed, who won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for The Hemingses of Monticello, and Onuf (The Mind of Thomas Jefferson), professor emeritus of history at the University of Virginia, probe the paradoxical figure of the third president, unpacking what Jefferson himself “thought he was doing in the world.” They neither indict nor absolve Jefferson; instead, they aim to make sense of his contradictions for modern sensibilities by mining familiar texts, as well as his actions as a Virginia plantation owner and American ambassador to France. Although considered progressive for his time, Jefferson was fully cognizant of the hypocrisy of owning slaves while fighting for liberation from Great Britain. Jefferson’s immersion in revolutionary France tempered his attitudes toward slavery, but did not persuade him to abandon it. He made his peace with this moral dilemma by striving to be the “kindest of masters.” The authors reveal what plantation family life meant to Jefferson and explain how his notoriously poor plantation management shaped the lives of Monticello’s enslaved people. They also offer fresh insights into his attitudes about privacy and religion, and his relationships with his wife, Martha, and his slave Sally Hemings. In seeking to reconcile the various strands of Jeffersonian thought and action, Gordon-Reed and Onuf have produced a fascinating addition to the Jefferson canon. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/05/2016 | Details & Permalink

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