Biography & Memoir
These stellar books reveal the lives of myriad artists and writers, from rock stars to sommeliers and literary luminaries.
Borges and Me: An Encounter
Jay Parini (Doubleday)
ISBN 978-0-385-54582-2, $27.95
In this astute memoir, novelist Parini writes of leaving Pennsylvania in 1971 to pursue a PhD in literature at St. Andrews in Scotland. There, he describes himself as the “last 22-year-old virgin in the Age of Aquarius” as he finds his voice as a writer and escapes the draft. Parini’s writing mentor, poet Alastair Reid, asks him to host his houseguest, Jorge Luis Borges, a one-week ramble through the Scottish Highlands ensues. His mission: to describe the entire trip for the blind writer. Along the way he realizes that Borges, a “batty old man of letters,” is a literary jukebox. Over the days, a tender bond forms between the eccentric sage and his caretaker. Fans of both Borges and Parini will delight in this touching coming-of-age memoir.
Children of the Land: A Memoir
Marcelo Hernandez Castillo (Harper)
ISBN 978-0-06-282559-9, $26.99
Poet Castillo opens this impressionistic memoir of growing up as an undocumented immigrant with a gripping flashback to when Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided the then-teen’s family home in Marysville, Calif. “We never opened our door or windows again.” Moving forward to 2014, a provision of the DACA program allowed the 25-year-old Castillo and his wife, Rubi, to return to Tepechitlán, Mexico, for a bittersweet visit with his previously deported father, who was still hoping to return to the U.S. During the roller-coaster ride of the next two years, Castillo received his American visa, but his father failed to return north and his mother moved back to Tepechitlán to be with her husband. Castillo writes with disturbing candor, depicting the all-too-common plight of undocumented immigrants to the U.S.
Eat a Peach: A Memoir
David Chang, with Gabe Ulla (Clarkson Potter)
ISBN 978-1-5247-5921-6, $28
Chang, Momofuku restaurateur and star of Netflix’s Ugly Delicious, starts this self-effacing, heart-on-sleeve memoir with a disclaimer: “Frankly, I just don’t understand my appeal.” He opened his first restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar, in the East Village in 2004 at least partially to stave off suicide, and in the course became an international restaurateur. Chang writes about the sweaty tension of his manic episodes and his dark depression, and there are stories of kitchen screaming fits, reflections on being in the “cool chefs club,” and particularly affecting passages about Chang’s friendship with late chef friend, Anthony Bourdain. In the book’s most heartfelt section, Chang rhapsodizes about the egalitarian Asian dining ethos he wanted to import to the West. Foodies and chefs alike will dig into Chang’s searing memoir.
Great Demon Kings: A Memoir of Poetry, Sex, Art, Death, and Enlightenment
John Giorno (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
ISBN 978-0-374-16630-4, $28
The creativity and debauchery of gay artists and writers blooms in this exuberant memoir of avant-garde New York City from the 1950s through the 1990s. Giorno, a poet and artist who died in 2019, recounts his relationships with a countercultural pantheon including Allen Ginsburg; Andy Warhol; artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, with whom he carried on tempestuous affairs; and Beat deity William S. Burroughs, with whom he had an intense, mainly platonic friendship for decades. The narrative is a whirl of parties, art openings, colorful personalities, and lots of graphic sex, written in prose that twines earthiness with Buddhist austerity. The result is an engrossing, passionate ode to a revolution in art and sensuality.
Laugh Lines: My Life Helping Funny People Be Funnier
Alan Zweibel (Abrams)
ISBN 978-1-4197-3528-8, $27
This zippy memoir by comedians’ comedian Zweibel offers laughs on nearly every page. Though Zweibel’s name isn’t well known outside of comedy circles, he has worked with a who’s-who of stars, including Milton Berle and Larry David. A Jewish boy from Long Island, Zweibel started out in 1972 working in a deli in Queens, N.Y., and writing gags for Borscht Belt comics at $7 each. (For Rodney Dangerfield: “My mother wouldn’t breastfeed me. She said she liked me as a friend.”) Industriousness, luck, and a binder stuffed with 1,100 jokes got him on staff for Saturday Night Live’s inaugural season in 1975. He knocked out quips for the show’s Weekend Update segments and bonded with Gilda Radner. Zweibel’s itinerant collaborator existence encompassed helping create It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and turning material from Billy Crystal’s childhood into the hit show 700 Sundays. Comics and comedy fans alike will delight in this hilarious and self-deprecating memoir.
Love, Kurt: The Vonnegut Love Letters, 1941–1945
Edited by Edith Vonnegut (Random House)
ISBN 978-0-59313-301-9, $35
Kurt Vonnegut toiled in obscurity before 1969’s Slaughterhouse-Five made him a household name, but the artist he would become is already present in this revelatory collection of letters to his first wife, Jane Cox, from 1941 through the end of WWII. In them, her father writes vividly of love (“I saw the Northern Lights for the first time tonight. It was pretty much like kissing you, and just as rare”) and the army, among other topics. Near the collection’s end, Kurt writes Jane that “you scare me when you say that I would have been Shakespeare had I lived then... Angel, will you stick by me if it goes backwards and downwards?”—a poignant question, given that he was the one who left their marriage in 1971. Literary buffs will relish this fascinating, intimate glimpse of a renowned writer’s formative years.
Blake Gopnik (Ecco)
ISBN 978-0-06-229839-3, $45
Art, commerce, homosexual camp, and the 1960s counterculture were all blithely blenderized by one man’s genius, according to this sweeping biography of pop art master Andy Warhol. Art critic and New York Times contributor Gopnik dives deep into Warhol’s oeuvre, covering the famous pieces that mirrored mass-produced imagery; his semiprurient, militantly unwatchable avant-garde films; and his late urine-on-canvas phase. But Warhol’s greatest image was himself, and Gopnik’s fascinating narrative does full justice to the silver-wigged, pixie-ish, satirically vapid artist and to the maelstrom of drugs, partying, and crazed excess at the Factory, his New York City studio cum asylum for artsy eccentrics. Warhol fans and pop art enthusiasts alike will find this an endlessly engrossing portrait.
Wild Thing: The Short, Spellbinding Life of Jimi Hendrix
Philip Norman (Norton)
ISBN 978-1-63149-589-2, $29.95
In this rollicking biography, Norman follows the electric guitar god from hardscrabble Seattle boyhood to enormous fame and his 1970 martyrdom to rock-star excess. (The author’s lengthy postmortem considers conspiracy theorys before returning to the official line that he overdosed on sleeping pills and drowned in his vomit.) Norman styles Hendrix as a great Black crossover pioneer who founded heavy metal with his flamboyant stagecraft and use of feedback and other effects in his virtuosic solos. Norman combines colorful, energetic picaresque—“It might have been a brilliant duet had not [Jim] Morrison been helplessly drunk and ruined the recording by shouting ‘I want to suck your cock’ at Jimi until Janis Joplin subdued him by breaking a bottle over his head”—with lush evocations of Hendrix’s sound. Norman’s entertaining, psychedelically tinged portrait shows why Hendrix made such a deep impression on rock ’n’ roll.
Business & Personal Finance
For aspiring moguls, these books hit the sweet spot of being useful and well written.
The Fix: Overcome the Invisible Barriers That Are Holding Women Back at Work
Michelle King (Atria)
ISBN 978-1-982110-92-5, $27
King, head of the UN Women’s Global Innovation Coalition for Change, asks why people are obsessed with the idea that women need to be fixed, despite being more likely to have the characteristics commonly associated with good leaders—being collaborative, communicative, and well-educated. To her, the answer lies in an outdated expectation of what constitutes the “ideal worker”: a stereotypically masculine, aggressive, and family-deprioritizing man, à la Mad Men’s Don Draper character. The challenge, she shows, is in getting people to understand there’s a problem at all, but King is there with strategies for taking action. This thoughtful, thorough, often enraging look at a broken system delivers a resounding and memorable message: “Women are not the problem.”
Launching While Female: Smashing the System That Holds Women Entrepreneurs Back
Susanne Althoff (Beacon)
ISBN 978-0-8070-4297-7, $26.95
Althoff, former editor-in-chief of Boston Globe Magazine, debuts with a wise collection of advice and encouragement for aspiring female entrepreneurs. Cautioning that startup founders skew overwhelmingly male, she provides hard-won advice from 100 women on overcoming systemic inequities and gaining access to venture capital. Sexual harassment can still be a problem for the entrepreneurs Althoff interviews, as is a lingering sense that a level of assertiveness admirable in businessmen is unseemly in businesswomen, but she offers skills designed to overcome these obstacles. She also celebrates deflecting unwanted advances and finding confidence by faking it, while reviewing the history of female entrepreneurship, from Madam C.J. Walker, a wildly successful early 20th-century provider of hair products for Black women, to today’s Jessica O. Matthews, founder of the clean energy company Uncharted Power. Althoff’s incisive, practical guide should be required reading for any entrepreneurial woman.
The Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias: How to Reframe Bias, Cultivate Connection, and Create High-Performing Teams
Pamela Fuller, with Mark Murphy and Anne Chow (Simon & Schuster)
ISBN 978-1-982144-31-9, $28
Fuller, who works on leadership issues of bias and inclusion at consulting firm FranklinCovey (of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People fame), debuts with a useful toolkit for organizations looking to face institutional- and individual-level unconscious bias. The first step, she writes, is discounting the idea that bias means one is “inherently ill-intentioned or morally flawed,” which makes people reluctant to acknowledge, and thus to take action against, their own biases. She then guides managers through ways to make workers feel “respected, included, valued,” and hence motivated to achieve at a high level. Fuller’s tone is encouraging without letting readers off the hook, and she provides a plethora of tools for nurturing diversity and inclusion—worksheets, scripts, strategies, reflection questions, and so on. As those familiar with the FranklinCovey brand are likely to expect, this is a clearheaded, no-nonsense approach to addressing bias in all the places it may be found.
Lights Out: Pride, Delusion, and the Fall of General Electric
Thomas Gryta and Ted Mann (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
ISBN 978-0-358-25041-8, $28
A venerable American company dating back to the 19th century struggles for survival and eventually crashes in this exciting offering from Wall Street Journal reporters Gryta and Mann. The book centers on the company’s dramatic decline, starting with longtime CEO Jack Welch’s exit in September 2001 and his replacement by his handpicked successor, Jeff Immelt. Inheriting a company typified by rigid procedures and a boys’ club culture, Gryta and Mann note, Immelt was determined to drag GE into the modern day. They also cover the hard-fought battles with the Environmental Protection Agency, ill-conceived business dealings, and falling stock prices that marred Immelt’s reign. After Immelt retired in 2017, GE veteran John Flannery took over, only to discover a chaotic, money-losing mess, with “reported profits [that] were aspirational, if not fraudulent.” Possessing all the suspense of a true-crime account, Gryta and Mann’s riveting look at GE’s previous two decades underlines the harsh facts of survival in 21st-century business.
No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention
Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer (Penguin Press)
ISBN 978-1-984877-86-4, $28
Bringing impressive credentials to this riveting business guide, Meyer, a professor at the INSEAD business school, and Hastings, cofounder and CEO of Netflix, walk readers through the “unique ecosystem” of the streaming giant’s corporate culture. They chart Netflix’s evolution, drawing from Hastings’s personal recollections, excerpts from Meyer’s more than 200 interviews with current and past Netflix employees, and selections of company PowerPoint meeting slides, emails, and “culture maps.” The coauthors identify the firm’s 10 key tenets, beginning with its foundational emphasis on “talent density,” and continuing with its “culture of candor.” In its quest to be the best, the company has rewritten many long-standing corporate rules, such as by “removing controls” with the elimination of limitations on vacation time, among other measures. Sharing this kind of dramatic evolution requires a dense and info-packed book, but the authors break up the text with helpful end-of-chapter synopses to sum up the takeaways and boxed excerpts from employee interviews. Aspiring tech moguls should flock to Hastings and Meyer’s energetic and fascinating account.
Unapologetically Ambitious: Take Risks, Break Barriers, and Create Success on Your Own Terms
Shellye Archambeau (Grand Central)
ISBN 978-1-5387-0289-5, $28
Archambeau delivers an invigorating account of her trailblazing career as an African American woman who has held powerful roles in the tech industry. Her stories of an upbringing being moved from place to place (there was a running joke at IBM, where her father worked, that the company name stood for “I’m Being Moved”) and dealing with racial tensions show the same strength and drive that brought her to Wharton and to an internship, and then career, at IBM, followed by other positions in tech until she became CEO of Zaplet, and winning a seat on the Verizon board. Though more of a memoir than a business guide, this account includes tips for aspiring leaders: to meet imposter syndrome head-on, “find your cheerleaders,” identify one’s priorities, consciously nurture a sense of self-assurance, and so on. Archambeau’s winning voice and refusal to countenance failure make for an appealing account of one woman’s path to success.
Seasoned cooks as well as neophytes will relish these cookbooks of many cultures.
Marianna Leivaditaki (Interlink)
ISBN 978-1-62371-874-9, $35
In a standout debut, London chef Leivaditaki, who grew up working in her family’s restaurant on Crete, writes with grace and passion about the region’s cuisine. A recipe for octopus describes how its color will change to red and the sounds it will make as it cooks; and a mixture of parsley, tomatoes, and peppers to accompany lamb meatballs is chopped by hand “as finely as possible”— it’s “a bit messy but it’s totally worth it.” Humble ingredients are expertly transformed in dishes like thinly sliced potatoes layered with a paste of tomatoes, peppers, capers, and anchovies. This fresh take on Aegean cuisine introduces a captivating new voice.
Amboy: Recipes from the Filipino-American Dream
Alvin Cailan, with Alexandra Cuerdo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
ISBN 978-1-328-93173-3, $35
In this exciting debut cookbook, chef and restaurateur Cailan shares recipes inspired by his Filipino immigrant parents. Here he reflects on his culinary growth from childhood as “a knucklehead kid who wanted to be Gordon Gekko” to his becoming the chef/owner of the Usual in Brooklyn and several other restaurants across the country. Chapters are devoted to places and people and foods associated with each: Cailan’s great-grandmother Lola smelled of baby powder and whipped up dishes like cheeseburger lumpia (the Philippine version of spring rolls). Recipes run the gamut from simple to a seven-day roast pig project that includes instructions for laying a brick fire pit. All showcase in-your-face attitude. The many short q&a’s interspersed are often funny and always candid, such as one that chronicles Cailan’s disintegrating relationship with his onetime best friend and cocreator of his first restaurant, Eggslut, in L.A. This wild ride of a collection has bluster, but it also has heart and personality to spare.
Black Axe Mangal
Lee Tiernan. (Phaidon)
ISBN 978-0-7148-7931-4, $39.95
Like the London restaurant for which it is named, chef Tiernan’s cookbook is a loud, messy fun, and occasionally startling sight to behold. It begins calmly enough, with a look at the “holy trinity” of techniques employed at the eatery: grilling, smoking, and bread making. Then comes a flash of crazy brilliance amid the brunch recipes: leftover pizza French toast. This sort of upstairs-downstairs collision proves to be a leitmotif. Sometimes it plays out in a simple snack, like sour cream and chive Pringles served with caviar. Other times it manifests in the extreme, as with a basic scoop of mashed potatoes plated alongside braised hare, chocolate, and pig’s blood. This robust collection is sure to challenge and surprise home cooks.
Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence
Claire Saffitz (Clarkson Potter)
ISBN 978-1-984826-96-1, $35
“I wrote this book to celebrate and defend my love of desserts,” writes Saffitz, pastry chef and host of Bon Appétit’s Gourmet Makes YouTube show, in her exceptional debut cookbook. Chapters are divided into types of baked goods, such as pies and tarts, and bars and cookies, and the recipes are thoughtfully organized by their difficulty level: in loaf cakes and single-layer cakes, for example, one of the “very easy” recipes is almond butter banana bread, and toward the end of the section is a recipe for a pineapple and pecan upside-down cake of “moderate” difficulty. Novices in particular will appreciate the helpful footnotes Saffitz shares; for instance, when baking a tarte tatin, she writes: “Very firm, fresh apples could take twice as long to soften than... apples from the supermarket.” But it’s not all confections, and Saffitz devotes a valuable chapter to savory recipes, such as caramelized endive galette and pull-apart sour cream and chive rolls. This should become a go-to reference for any home baker.
Dinner in French: My Recipes by Way of France
Melissa Clark (Clarkson Potter)
ISBN 978-0-553-44825-2, $37.50
James Beard Award–winning author Clark (Dinner) reminisces about her annual summer family vacation in France and growing up in Brooklyn, and here combines her food experiences from both places to deliver a superb addition to her cookbook repertoire. Whether they are classic French staples such as Niçoise salad and scalloped potato gratin, or inspired twists on the classics such as wine-braised chicken with orange and olives or crème fraîche caramels, each recipe is a hit. Clark also provides dozens of helpful make-ahead tips. Equally inviting are her introductions to each recipe, which are filled with fun anecdotes. and additional helpful tips (“If tarragon isn’t your favorite herb, you can use chives”). This remarkable volume will entice avid home cooks to return to it time and again.
A Feast of Serendib: Recipes From Sri Lanka
Mary Anne Mohanraj.(Mascot)
ISBN 978-1-64543-275-3, $40
Mohanraj, a literature professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, introduces readers to the comforting cuisine of Sri Lanka in this illuminating collection of more than 100 recipes. Waves of immigration from China, England, the Netherlands, and Portugal influenced the unique cuisine of Sri Lanka, Mohanraj writes, as evidenced by such dishes as Chinese rolls (a take on classic egg rolls in the form of stuffed crepes that are breaded and fried) and fish cutlets (a culinary cousin of Dutch bitterballen fried croquettes). Given Sri Lanka’s proximity to India, curry figures heavily. Throughout, Mohanraj does a superb job of combining easily sourced ingredients with clear, instructive guidance and menu recommendations for all manner of events, including a Royal Feast for over 200 people. This is a terrific survey of an overlooked cuisine
My Korea: Traditional Flavors, Modern Recipes
Hooni Kim, with Aki Kamozawa (Norton)
ISBN 978-0-393-23972-0, $40
In this exciting debut, Kim, chef at Michelin-starred New York City restaurant Danji, collects Korean recipes that are in turn spicy, funky, and comforting. Chapters follow the progression of a Korean meal, beginning with banchan, the small dishes that appear at the start, including homemade silken tofu and dried anchovies fried until crisp and tossed in a sweet, sticky sauce. Kim isn’t wedded to tradition, but when he does craft variations, they’re on target, as when brisket stands in for the pork in fried rice or when bacon and kimchi marry in a savory sauce. The chapter dedicated to kimchi contains a traditional cabbage recipe as well as versions made from ramps or radishes. Meat dishes include pork belly sliders and Hanjan chicken skewers, and seafood choices, such as black cod simmered in an umami-rich sauce, appear as well. This thoughtful, comprehensive, and inventive volume sets a high bar for Korean cookbooks.
This varied collection of eclectic histories— including books on coffee, addresses, and caste— will appeal to a wide range of readers beyond the usual history buffs.
The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power
Deirdre Mask (St. Martin’s)
ISBN 978-1-250-13478-3, $26.99
Journalist Mask’s entertaining and wide-ranging debut investigates the history of street addresses and their “power to decide who counts, who doesn’t, and why.” A vivid storyteller, Mask describes the “multisensory maps” ancient Romans used to navigate their city, and the origins of street names in medieval England (Frying Pan Alley was home to ironmongers). Shifting from the historical record to the modern world, Mask documents efforts to assign street addresses in the slums of Kolkata, India, and takes readers to Japan, where cities are organized by blocks and the absence of street names makes navigation challenging for nonresidents. Mask’s fluid narration and impressive research uncover the importance of an aspect of daily life that most people take for granted. This evocative history casts its subject in a whole new light.
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
Isabel Wilkerson (Random House)
ISBN: 978-0-593-23025-1, $32
In this powerful and extraordinarily timely social history, Pulitzer winner Wilkerson (The Warmth of Other Suns) investigates the origins, evolution, and inner workings of America’s “shape-shifting, unspoken” caste system. Tracking the inception of the country’s race-based “ranking of human value” to the arrival of the first slave ship in 1619, Wilkerson draws on the works of anthropologists, geneticists, and social economists to uncover the arbitrariness of racial divisions, and finds startling parallels to the caste systems of India and Nazi Germany. The Nazis, Wilkerson notes, studied America’s restrictive immigration and anti-miscegenation laws to develop their own racial purity edicts. While India abolished formal laws that defined its caste systems in the 1940s, and America passed civil rights measures in the ’60s, their respective hierarchies live on, Wilkerson writes, in “hearts and habits, institutions and infrastructures.” Incisive autobiographical anecdotes and captivating portraits of Black pioneers reveal the steep price U.S. society pays for limiting the potential of Black Americans. This enthralling exposé deserves a wide and impassioned readership.
Coffeeland: One Man’s Dark Empire and the Making of Our Favorite Drug
Augustine Sedgewick (Penguin Press)
ISBN 978-1-59420-615-3, $30
In this thought-provoking and gracefully written debut, Sedgewick, an American studies professor at the City University of New York, chronicles the 20th-century transformation of El Salvador into “one of the most intensive monocultures in modern history” and the concurrent rise in Americans’ thirst for coffee. According to Sedgewick, El Salvador’s shift from communal subsistence farming to staple crop production was led by James Hill, an Englishman whose plantation empire was staffed by Indigenous men and women. Though Hill and his heirs reaped immense riches from coffee production, their employees suffered; an American observer claimed in 1931 that El Salvador’s inequality compared to that of pre-Revolutionary France. The breadth of Sedgewick’s analysis of coffee’s place in the world economy astonishes, as does his ability to bring historical figures to life.
The Daughters of Yalta: The Churchills, Roosevelts, and Harrimans: A Story of Love and War
Catherine Grace Katz (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
ISBN 978-0-358-11785-8, $28
Historian Katz debuts with a vivid and revealing account of the backstage roles played by the daughters of Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union W. Averell Harriman at the 1945 Yalta Peace Conference. Gleaning from memoirs, diaries, and letters, Katz documents poor sanitary conditions at the ransacked summer palaces where the delegations stayed, analyzes diplomatic maneuverings, and shares plenty of spicy gossip, including Averell Harriman’s affair with Winston Churchill’s much younger daughter-in-law. This sparkling account offers a fresh take on a decisive moment in the history of WWII and the Cold War.
Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-Up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World
Lesley M.M. Blume (Simon & Schuster)
ISBN 978-1-982128-51-7, $27
Journalist Blume delivers a thrilling behind-the-scenes account of John Hersey’s seminal 1946 report on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. In the months after Japan’s surrender, Hersey hatched a plan with New Yorker managing editor William Shawn to go into Hiroshima as a “Trojan horse reporter” and describe the bomb’s impact from the victims’ point of view. Blume balances her narrative between Hersey’s journalistic process and Shawn’s editorial decision-making, which culminated in convincing New Yorker founder Harold Ross to devote the entire Aug. 29, 1946, issue to the story. Blume builds tension by expertly interweaving scenes at the New Yorker offices (where Ross and Shawn kept most staffers in the dark right up until publication) with Hersey’s journey into Japan and his search for survivors, and vividly captures a pre-television era when evidence of the nuclear fallout was suppressed by the U.S. government.
The Last Negroes at Harvard: The Class of 1963 and the 18 Young Men Who Changed Harvard Forever
Kent Garrett and Jeanne Ellsworth (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
ISBN 978-1-328-87997-4, $27
Garrett reflects on his 1959 arrival at Harvard University as one of “the largest group of Negroes admitted to a freshman class to date” and interviews 14 of his 17 fellow African- American classmates about their experiences in this vivid and perceptive debut. A Brooklyn native, Garrett spent his childhood summers in South Carolina, where his relatives conveyed “a visceral sense of fear” around local whites. At Harvard, Garrett’s classmates included Wesley Williams, a member of the “elite Negro world” of Washington, D.C., and George Jones from segregated Muskogee, Okla. “Almost from the first day,” Garrett writes, “we Negroes started noticing each other, making mental note of who and where the brothers were.” He describes eating at the “Black Table” in the freshman dining hall, as well as Malcolm X’s 1961 campus visit to debate the merits of integration. He and coauthor Ellsworth eloquently describe the pressures these students were under. This outstanding retrospective deserves to be widely read.
The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes
Zachary D. Carter (Random House)
ISBN 978-0-525-50903-5. $35
Journalist Carter debuts with a compassionate and richly detailed exploration of the life and legacy of economic theorist John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946). Seeking to assemble Keynes’s disparate views into the “singular, definitive philosophical statement” he never produced in his lifetime, Carter delves into his writings to explain Keynes’s theories on public welfare, deficit spending, and financial markets. On a more personal note, Carter describes Keynes’s involvement with the Bloomsbury group, and the shock of confidants Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey at his “wild, impossible love” with Russian ballerina Lydia Lopokova. Tracing the impact of Keynesian economics on modern U.S. politics, Carter sketches the policies of every president from Kennedy through Obama, and explores how Keynes’s “spirit of radical optimism” animates contemporary efforts to arrest the “global slide into authoritarianism.” Carter makes complex economic concepts accessible and eloquently untangles Keynes’s many personal and professional contradictions. This is an essential portrait of the economist and the man.
Reaganland: America’s Right Turn, 1976–1980
Rick Perlstein (Simon & Schuster)
ISBN 978-1-4767-9305-4, $37.50
Resurgent conservatism defeats enervated liberalism in this sweeping study of the Carter administration and the rise of Ronald Reagan. Political historian Perlstein concludes the saga of right-wing insurgency he started in Before the Storm, his magisterial account of the 1964 Goldwater presidential campaign, with this chronicle of intensifying 1970s political clashes. It’s partly the story of a grassroots uprising of conservative Christians, free market fundamentalists, and anti-communist zealots who fought the liberal establishment on taxes, gay rights, abortion, and the Equal Rights Amendment, and found a champion in Ronald Reagan. It’s also about liberalism’s crisis under Jimmy Carter, a populist turned bloodless technocrat. Perlstein masterfully connects deep currents of social change and ideology to prosaic politics, which he conveys in elegant prose studded with vivid character sketches and colorful electoral set pieces. The result is an insightful and entertaining analysis of a watershed era in American politics.
She Votes: How U.S. Women Won Suffrage, and What Happened Next
Bridget Quinn (Chronicle)
ISBN 978-1-4521-7316-0, $35
Art historian Quinn commemorates the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment in this vibrant and witty chronicle of women’s rights in America. In 19 chapters illustrated by 100 female artists, Quinn profiles leaders of the women’s suffrage and feminist movements, as well as groundbreaking women in the fields of art, politics, sports, and music. Among those profiled are Susan B. Anthony; Elizabeth Cady Stanton; Mary Cassatt; poet Audre Lorde; Title IX legislator Patsy Mink; African American journalist Ida B. Wells; and the Guerrilla Girls, who fight for female artists’ representation in male-dominated art galleries. Colorful, attention-grabbing illustrations in a diverse array of styles enhance Quinn’s snappy prose on nearly every page.
Crafts & Hobbies
These books, on topics from macrame to T-shirt quilting, will appeal to crafty creatives.
Alabama Quilts: Wilderness Through World War II, 1682–1950
Mary Elizabeth Johnson Huff and Carole Ann King (Univ. of Mississippi)
ISBN 978-1-4968-3140-8, $40
The late Huff, a quilt expert, and King, a museum curator (who completed the book after Huff’s death in 2019), deliver a beautifully illustrated and lovingly written history of Alabama quilts. As Steve Murray, director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, writes in his introduction, the book examines both “styles and fabrics” and “change and continuity in the culture of a Deep South state.” The coauthors start with the first known Alabama quilt, brought into the state (long before statehood) from New England, and end in 1950, when quilting fell out of fashion because it reminded folks of “making do” during the Depression. In between, they highlight creations from different communities. They also illuminate historical context, as with Civil War–era gunboat quilts (made during a fund-raising drive to build the Confederate fleet) and WWII-era feed-sack quilts (an adaptation to wartime rationing). History and craft buffs will be enthralled with this superb overview.
Animal Friends to Sew: Simple Handmade Décor, Toys, and Gifts for Kids
Sanae Ishida (Sasquatch)
ISBN 978-1-63217-235-8, $22.95
Ishida, a children’s book and crafting guide author, provides a slew of child-friendly projects as adorable as they are functional. A chapter on sewing and embroidering basics should get readers up to speed before they begin the projects, which are divided among decor, toys, and “wearables,” with the last section being the stand-out. It includes koala and monkey bibs for messy mealtimes and hooded capes suitable either for Halloween, or, when made out of “cozy” terry cloth, as baby bathrobes. Helpfully, the wearables aren’t too labor intensive—to wit, Ishida’s baby slippers can be sewn in nine steps. Ishida provides templates for users to cut out or trace and, in the closing resource section, shares info on fabric sources, reference titles, and online sewing help. These sweet DIY projects will appeal to parents who are also avid or aspiring sewers, not to mention to their kids.
Beyond the Tee: Innovative T-Shirt Quilts
Jen and Mary Cannizzaro (C&T)
ISBN 978-1-61745-907-8, $24.95
Mary and Jen Cannizzaro, the mother-daughter founders of quilting shop Cannizzaro Creations, offer an exciting intro to the craft of making quilts using fabric from T-shirts. Though T-shirt quilts often consist of little more than T-shirt fronts—typically taken from a keepsake garment, cut into squares, and slapped onto a quilt—the Cannizzaros offer designs of hexagons, diamonds, and ovals. They “fillet” T-shirts (as one would a fish) so as to maximize the fabric available, advising, “Think before you cut!” They address problems, such as a motif being too high, small, or big, and dispense “tips for success.” Among the nine projects detailed, the Cannizzaros include a quilt made from T-shirts associated with travel to different places, and another made from an enthusiastic athlete’s different team shirts. For each block, they cover construction, assembly, and suggestions for alternate ideas and labels. This how-to will be a boon to any quilter looking for a new challenge.
Modern Faux Flower Projects: Fresh, Stylish Arrangements and Home Décor with Silk Florals and Faux Greenery
Stevie Storck (Fox Chapel)
ISBN 978-1-4971-0047-3, $19.99
Interior designer Storck charms in her winning debut dedicated to making fabulous fake flower arrangements. After teaching some floral basics—how to match arrangements to the appropriate time of year, best flowers to group together, simple arrangements—she explains what resources are essential for creating fake flowers and plants; once made from silk flowers, they’re typically now made out of plastic and polyester. Her projects are grouped by season: spring’s blooms include a hanging herb garden (with coffee grounds to create the appearance of soil); summer is celebrated with a succulent garden in the shape of a birdcage; fall is heralded with a marigold and butterfly cloche and a dahlia wreath, and winter is represented with a frosty thistle and juniper wreath—with all greenery handcrafted by the artisan, rather than by nature. Full-page color photos and easy-to-understand instructions accompany each project, and Storck includes a robust “inspiration gallery” of other faux florists’ designs.
Paper Joy for Every Room: 15 Fun Projects to Add Decorating Charm to Your Home
Laure Farion, trans. from the French by Simulingua (Schiffer)
ISBN 978-0-7643-6055-8, $21.99
Crafter Farion, of the popular
@papierpapierpapier Instagram handle, presents in this appealing resource some of her designs for crafting tiny dioramas, models, and toys out of colored paper. Her experience as an art teacher shows in the way she provides helpful assistance, including clear photos and easy-to-follow instructions, for crafting novices to study before beginning their first project. Though some of the projects may initially seem complicated, “It’s easy,” Farion writes, “as long as you like paper cutting” and are armed with scissors, a ruler, tracing paper, and some glue. The three-dimensional projects offer something for all levels including parents who might do some of the easier projects with their children, such as a “lunar decoration” mobile. Crafters looking for a new activity will be delighted.
Statement Macramé: Create Stunning Large-Scale Wall Art, Headboards, Backdrops and Plant Hangers with Step-by-Step Tutorials
Natalie Ranae (Page Street)
ISBN 978-1-64567-007-0, $22.99
Fiber artist Ranae provides an appealing guide to supersized versions of macramé that can span walls and divide rooms, or hang dramatically from the ceiling to the floor. She divides her 12 projects into three sections: headboards and wall hangings, plant hangers and home decor, and backdrops and curtains. Each project contains step-by-step photographs of the knots required—from the “Lark’s Head Knot” to the “Diamond of Double Half Hitches.” Among the most alluring projects are a multiple planter, the “Ravana,” which offers a visual riff on the craft’s hippie past, and the “Venice Backdrop,” which shows how large-scale macramé can enhance any domestic space by adding a dash of the house-proud, fixer-upper aesthetic. Rounding things out are a brief resources section on the best places to purchase rope, metal hoops, and wood rings, and an invaluable reference guide to knots and patterns. Though not recommended for beginners, Ranae’s collection of intricate designs will give creative satisfaction to accomplished fiber artists.