Books by Bruce Feiler

BRUCE FEILER is the New York Times best-selling author of six books, an award-winning journalist and speaker. He has traveled to over sixty countries, on five continents, immersing himself in different cultures. The result is six acclaimed books that take


THE FIRST LOVE STORY by Bruce Feiler
HISTORY
Released: March 21, 2017

"Despite the sometimes-exhausting repetition, Feiler provides a fascinating look at why Adam and Eve matter in understanding couples today."
Feiler (The Secrets of Happy Families, 2013, etc.) examines the saga of the first romantic couple in an intellectual exploration that could have been titled "A Thousand Ways of Looking at Adam and Eve." Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Feb. 19, 2013

"A good addition to the self-help bookshelf."
New York Times columnist Feiler (Generation Freedom: The Middle East Uprisings and the Remaking of the Modern World, 2011, etc.) explores new ideas on family dynamics. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 1, 2010

"Feiler tackles personal hardship with inquisitive and heartfelt eloquence."
After being diagnosed with cancer in 2008, Feiler (America's Prophet: Moses and the American Story, 2009, etc.) asked his closest male friends to provide guidance, wisdom and love to his children, should he not survive. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: Oct. 6, 2009

"A facile retracing of American history on a Mosaic theme—which is not to say Feiler fans won't love it."
A breezy look at the story of Moses and its role in the making of America. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: Sept. 13, 2005

"Feiler's take on all things biblical is beginning to get tedious."
Feiler (Walking the Bible, 2001, etc.) travels to Israel, Iran and Iraq to learn if religion inevitably gives rise to violence, or if it is a seedbed of peace. Read full book review >
ABRAHAM by Bruce Feiler
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 17, 2002

"A vivid and discerning tour through a land that reflects this epochal figure's life of exile, questioning, family misunderstandings, and faith."
Visiting an Israel of checkpoints and suicide bombings, Feiler (Walking the Bible, 2001, etc.) gracefully explores how the ancient Middle Eastern exile and childless husband became the father of many nations—and the progenitor of religious conflict. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: April 1, 2001

"A chatty, informal narrative that weaves the Bible and other ancient stories together with contemporary lives, along the way uncovering a strong spiritual dimension that surprised the author—and may surprise the reader."
A genial travel-journal-turned-spiritual-exploration that encompasses many of the sites (from the Dome of the Rock to the banks of the Nile) mentioned in the first five books of the Bible. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: April 8, 1998

A cleverly constructed look at how the country-music industry has changed some of its most important artists and how they have changed the industry. Feiler (Under the Big Top, 1995, etc.) covers the full range of the Nashville scene from the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Association Awards to issues such as racism and greed. Having separated the industry into parts, he uses three particularly influential entertainers—Garth Brooks, Wade Hayes, and Wynonna Judd—to show how recording artists affect, and in turn are affected by, some of the most significant aspects of the business. For instance, the importance of album cover photography is demonstrated through the experiences of the shy newcomer Hayes, who feels uncomfortable with both the posing process and with his sex-symbol status. When Feiler looks at concerts, he uses Brooks as his lens, showing a performer who, despite his enormous popularity, is fearful that his career could end at any moment. And inevitably, when Feiler addresses the subject of family, his focus turns to Wynonna, whose mother, Naomi, tried even in retirement to run every aspect of her daughter's career and life. Feiler also writes about other artists and Nashville personalities—particularly those who have had a strong impact on the development of the music and the industry. There are sections on the death of Minnie Pearl and how the entire city turned out for her funeral, as well as portraits of such influential figures as Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings and of the gossip columnist Hazel Smith. Feiler pays a little too much attention to Brooks and not quite enough to Wynonna. Still, this is a charming read that will humanize Nashville and some of its most visible and influential inhabitants. (Author tour) Read full book review >
UNDER THE BIG TOP by Bruce Feiler
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: June 12, 1995

Here is a trip to the circus to be enjoyed by sociologists, etymologists, history buffs, and the morose of all ages. Feiler (Learning to Bow, 1991, etc.) spends a season in whiteface with the Clyde BeattyCole Brothers troupe to prove his theory that the circus is in many ways a microcosm of life in the US. By interviewing everyone from the prop guy to the human cannonball, he spotlights a diversity of lifestyles, a mosaic of races and prejudices, and a family unity that, indeed, seem uniquely American. Along the way we are provided with a rich education in circus history, a compendium of popular phrases that were born beneath the big top, and a primer on the finer points of classic acts. Those seeking the difference between European and American styles of tiger training need look no further. Those who think that performers have it easy need only hear the words of an acrobat: ``I have to make it exciting. Not only can I hang by my hair but I can juggle while hanging by my hair.'' There is humor, but most of all there is pain: physical pain, romantic heartache, weariness, and familial tragedy. In their perseverance, the 200 or so troupe members show themselves to be what they most want to be recognized as: simply human. With subject matter as intriguing as this, Feiler does well to maintain an unembellished narrative voice. However, the structure he relies on, a play-by-play of what's up in the ring intercut with what is really going down in the performer's life, seems forced. And his inability to resist ending nearly every chapter with a cliffhanger sentence merits a pie in the face. In the age-old tradition of truth coming from the mouth of a fool, this clown's rendition of circus life bounds with humanity. (Author tour) Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Sept. 21, 1993

An agreeable account of a year spent studying at Cambridge and Oxford. Feiler, after graduating from Yale and teaching for a year in a rural Japanese school (described in his Learning to Bow, 1991), pursued graduate studies at Cambridge. He arrived in 1990 with stars in his eyes; memories of Milton, Byron, Newton, and Darwin; and an eagerness ``to row, to debate at the Union, and to have a date for the ball.'' Feiler achieved all three goals—``but by then my stars had already faded.'' He found a Cambridge still ``trapped by its past''; a student body overwhelmingly content, disinclined to demonstrate, and looking for its place in the Establishment—a complacency perhaps arising from the fact that Cambridge is ``a laboratory of love'' where students are ``virtually bombarded with occasions to drink and excuses to get pissed.'' In the course of his social rounds, the author met and fell in love with a Canadian Rhodes Scholar from Oxford who eventually threw him over because, she said, he wasn't an original thinker. She might have reconsidered if she'd been able to read Feiler's analysis here of the similarities between the Japanese and the British: Both, he notes, inhabit isolated islands of roughly the same size and roughly the same weather; both boast largely homogenous peoples and unifying national religions; both speak languages characterized by a similar emphasis on courtesy, hierarchy, and indirection; and both display a powerful national pride verging on xenophobia. Feiler believes that the two nations' educational systems largely explain their different fortunes in this century, with Britain suffering from an antibusiness bias (fewer than eight percent of Oxbridge graduates go into industry, compared to two-thirds of Japanese college grads) and a hierarchy of intellectual values that stresses the abstract and philosophical while regarding the practical almost with contempt. A delightfully witty complement to Ved Mehta's Up at Oxford (p. 841), full of anecdotes and food for thought. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Sept. 6, 1991

A young North American spends a year teaching in a rural Japanese school, where he watches day-to-day life with a delighted, observant eye. Feiler begins with a description of the ritual outdoor bath that all male teachers participate in at the start of the school year: ``We had not soaked long in the water before my presence began to attract a crowd...The other teachers cheered and splashed water in support. `He sure is tall,' said one man. `And his nose is high, too,' observed another. `He looks like a model.' '' The author then moves on to tell how his students spend hours learning to bow together, how teachers strictly separate their private and public lives (``Co-workers who were rude to one another in the bar would be civil the next day at work; men who had been open and relaxed in the bath would be formal and rigid when behind a desk''); how boys and girls learn gender roles at outdoor sports festivals; how young men and women struggle with changing courtship codes. He writes of Japan's emphasis on discipline and community spirit, of his students' often desperate desire to enter the Univ. of Tokyo, and of a young boy's suicide, caused largely by class prejudice. Meanwhile, in hilarious episodes, his Japanese hosts constantly marvel at his ability to use chopsticks and his ability to speak Japanese, but by the end of the school year, they pay him the highest compliment by saying that he is ``more Japanese than a Japanese.'' Feiler's first book (which, the publisher says, is the first book written by a Westerner who has taught in Japanese schools) is warm, intimate, and often very funny, bringing much-needed insight into Japanese grass-roots culture and the role of education in that land. Read full book review >