Biography & Memoir Book Reviews

DAUGHTERS OF THE SAMURAI by Janice P. Nimura
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 4, 2015

"An extraordinary, elegantly told story of the beginning of Japan's education and emancipation of its women."
Through her fascinating tapestry of history and biography, New York scholar Nimura weaves the strange, vibrant tale of an insular nation coming to terms with currents of modernism it could no longer keep out. Read full book review >
THE WORLD BETWEEN TWO COVERS by Ann Morgan
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 4, 2015

"Morgan's intrepid literary project underscores the crucial importance of stretching the boundaries of one's aesthetic and intellectual worlds."
Exploring the world, one book at a time. Read full book review >

THE LOST WORLD OF THE OLD ONES by David Roberts
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 4, 2015

"For fans of all things Southwestern—not quite as robust and thoughtful as Craig Childs' House of Rain (2007) but a pleasure to read."
More travels in the Southwest of yore by outdoorsman/writer Roberts (Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration, 2013, etc.).Read full book review >
THE BILL OF RIGHTS by Carol Berkin
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 1, 2015

"A highly readable American history lesson that provides a deeper understanding of the Bill of Rights, the fears that generated it and the miracle of the amendments."
Though we often take the Bill of Rights for granted, it took a monumental fight to get it approved. Berkin (History/Baruch Coll.; Wondrous Beauty: The Life and Adventures of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, 2014, etc.) deftly examines its passage.Read full book review >
DENG XIAOPING by Alexander V. Pantsov
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 1, 2015

"A masterly work that advances by salient themes and vigorous strokes."
A barbed biography, relentless and occasionally sarcastic, reveals the many problematic facets of the long-lived revolutionary and reformer Deng Xiaoping (1904-1997). Read full book review >

A BUZZ IN THE MEADOW by Dave Goulson
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 1, 2015

"A charming but serious warning of the need to protect our natural ecosystems from heedless, irreversible destruction."
When we speak of endangered species, our focus is usually on the plight of mammals. However, writes Goulson (Biological and Environmental Sciences/Univ. of Sterling; A Sting in the Tale: My Adventures with Bumblebees, 2014, etc.), they are only a small section of the "perhaps ten-million different species," many yet to be named, that inhabit our planet and play a critical role in maintaining its ecosystems.Read full book review >
RIDING ON COMETS by Cat Pleska
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 1, 2015

"An uneven portrait of rural and small-town West Virginia life that is most likely to have its greatest appeal among nostalgic West Virginians."
A bits-and-pieces memoir of growing up in a working-class West Virginia family in the 1950s and '60s. Read full book review >
FINDING ABBEY by Sean Prentiss
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 1, 2015

"For Abbey completists, though, they'll be divided: does Prentiss give away too many secrets in his quest for the final resting place? Those fans will want to read this book and argue about it over a desert campfire."
It's on a hillside, within view of roadless desert and dug deep to keep the coyotes out. Prentiss (Creative Writing/Norwich Univ.) roams sun-struck country to find a famed grave, having narrowed its location down to a Massachusetts-sized parcel. Read full book review >
THE COLONEL AND HUG by Steve Steinberg
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 1, 2015

"A top-notch sports biography."
Many baseball fans think it was Babe Ruth who elevated the fledgling (and flagging) New York Yankees team. In this authoritative new work, Steinberg and Spatz (1921: The Yankees, the Giants, and the Battle for Baseball Supremacy in New York, 2010) shine a light on the indispensable contributions of two behind-the-scenes magicians.Read full book review >
ON THE MOVE by Oliver Sacks
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 1, 2015

"Despite impressionistic chronology, which occasionally causes confusion and repetition, this is an engaging memoir by a consummate storyteller."
The prolific physician's adventure-filled life. Read full book review >
SO MANY ROADS by David Browne
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 1, 2015

"One of the better books on the band and welcome reading in this 50th anniversary year."
Righteous testimonial to the anarchic goodness that was the Grateful Dead. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 1, 2015

"In the hands of a Junger or Krakauer, this story might have taken more memorable form. Still, Vietnam War completists will be interested."
Sometimes-trudging, sometimes-moving narrative of a combat mission gone terribly wrong and the layers of politics and memory surrounding it. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Mona Eltahawy
April 28, 2015

In her debut book, Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution, Egyptian-American journalist and commentator Mona Eltahawy mounts an angry indictment of the treatment of women throughout the Arab world. Born in Egypt, she spent her childhood in London, moving with her family to Saudi Arabia when she was 15. Her shock was immediate and visceral: “It felt as though we’d moved to another planet whose inhabitants fervently wished women did not exist,” she recalls. Women could not travel, work or even go to a doctor’s appointment without male approval. We talk to Eltahawy this week on Kirkus TV about her arresting new book. View video >