Biography & Memoir Book Reviews

BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"Far less edifying than the Constitutional Convention but equally crucial, the colorful machinations of our first Congress receive a delightful account that will keep even educated readers turning the pages."
While the Constitution outlined the theory of our nation, the obstreperous first Congress converted it to reality. It was not a pretty picture, and popular historian Bordewich (America's Great Debate: Henry Clay, Stephen A. Douglas, and the Compromise that Preserved the Union, 2012, etc.) delivers an entertaining description of how "it transmuted the Constitution from a paper charter and a set of hopeful aspirations into the machinery of a functioning government."Read full book review >
IN OTHER WORDS by Jhumpa Lahiri
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"An honest, self-deprecating, and very moving account of a writer searching for herself in words."
In a perfectly titled memoir, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist chronicles her efforts to learn and write Italian. Read full book review >

THE ICEBERG by Marion Coutts
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"A poetic and moving chronicle of loss."
A debut memoir about losing a husband to cancer. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"A fresh look at Eleanor Roosevelt and a fascinating exploration of a cherished, mutually beneficial friendship."
A significant new exploration of the enormously important friendship between two activist crusaders in advancing the cause of civil rights for blacks and women. Read full book review >
BLOOD BROTHERS by Randy Roberts
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"A page-turning tale from the 1960s about politics and sports and two proud, extraordinary men whose legacies endure."
How Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali and then an enemy of his mentor and friend Malcolm X. Read full book review >

EXIT RIGHT by Daniel Oppenheimer
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"Whether his subjects are viewed as champions or apostates, Oppenheimer's insightful narrative should inspire some soul-searching among political believers of every stripe."
"A political identity is always a negotiation, between what it demands and who we are," asserts freelance journalist Oppenheimer as he explores "the negotiation of specific left-wing identities…and how those negotiations fell apart." Read full book review >
THE MOST WANTED MAN IN CHINA by Fang Lizhi
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"A wonderfully crafted memoir, shimmering with intellectual honesty."
A dissident astrophysicist who died in 2012 offers rare, revealing glimpses inside the opaque Chinese communist system. Read full book review >
LIVING ON PAPER by Iris Murdoch
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 1, 2016

"An impressively edited, sharply revealing life in letters."
An intimate view of the prolific British novelist and philosopher. Read full book review >
OSTEND by Volker Weidermann
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 26, 2016

"Evocative, sharply drawn portraits and a wry, knowing narrative voice make for an engrossing history."
A summer of sun for despondent exiles. Read full book review >
A SPLENDID SAVAGE by Steve Kemper
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 25, 2016

"Thrilling adventures presented with the flair they deserve."
Freelance journalist Kemper (A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles through Islamic Africa, 2012, etc.) revives a legendary adventurer, "one of the only people who could turn [his] garrulous…friend Theodore Roosevelt into a listener."Read full book review >
WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR by Paul Kalanithi
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 19, 2016

"A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity."
A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer. Read full book review >
THEIR PROMISED LAND by Ian Buruma
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 19, 2016

"The author shapes his family's labor of a lifetime into a scintillating work of art."
A prizewinning historian recounts his German-Jewish family's time in England during the most turbulent years of the 20th century. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Michael Eric Dyson
February 2, 2016

In Michael Eric Dyson’s rich and nuanced book new book, The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America, Dyson writes with passion and understanding about Barack Obama’s “sad and disappointing” performance regarding race and black concerns in his two terms in office. While race has defined his tenure, Obama has been “reluctant to take charge” and speak out candidly about the nation’s racial woes, determined to remain “not a black leader but a leader who is black.” Dyson cogently examines Obama’s speeches and statements on race, from his first presidential campaign through recent events—e.g., the Ferguson riots and the eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston—noting that the president is careful not to raise the ire of whites and often chastises blacks for their moral failings. At his best, he spoke with “special urgency for black Americans” during the Ferguson crisis and was “at his blackest,” breaking free of constraints, in his “Amazing Grace” Charleston eulogy. Dyson writes here as a realistic, sometimes-angry supporter of the president. View video >