Biography & Memoir Book Reviews

THE ORIGINAL BLACK ELITE by Elizabeth Dowling Taylor
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 21, 2017

"Important research on an overlooked but significant figure."
A lively work chronicling the growth of the educated African-American movers and shakers in Washington, D.C., on the brink of renewed Jim Crow laws. Read full book review >
AUDACITY by Jonathan Chait
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 17, 2017

"Chait offers a well-organized, clearly written case that will be valuable to future historians in their assessments. The question is whether readers with different opinions about Obama's performance will alter those opinions."
A cogent argument that President Barack Obama has mostly succeeded in implementing his agenda. Read full book review >

RUMI'S SECRET by Brad Gooch
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 17, 2017

"A vivid depiction of the powerful religious forces that Rumi transcended to reveal 'the sound of one soul speaking.'"
An appreciative biography of the 13th-century Persian poet, teacher, and mystic. Read full book review >
ONCE WE WERE SISTERS by Sheila Kohler
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 17, 2017

"In spare, delicate prose, Kohler brings a seasoned novelist's skills to this deeply moving, compelling memoir."
Novelist Kohler (Dreaming for Freud, 2014, etc.) reflects on her beloved older sister, Maxine, who was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 39. Read full book review >
MARVELLOUS THIEVES by Paulo Lemos Horta
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 17, 2017

"An insightful examination of a significant literary work and the fraught complexities of translation."
From its origin, the Thousand and One Nights has been frequently translated, embellished, and transformed. Read full book review >

HOW AMERICA LOST ITS SECRETS by Edward Jay Epstein
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 17, 2017

"A wild and harrowing detective story and impressively evenhanded portrait of a very sticky case."
A nuanced portrait of the government contractor who absconded with top-secret National Security Agency documents in May 2013. Read full book review >
ROSSET by Barney Rosset
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 15, 2017

"Vivid and informative—a must for anyone interested in 20th-century American publishing and culture."
A posthumous memoir nicely captures the Grove Press publisher's free-wheeling ways and rebel heart. Read full book review >
THE UNSETTLERS by Mark Sundeen
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 10, 2017

"Provocative reading for anyone who has ever yearned for a life of radical simplicity."
Bright update on the perennial back-to-the-land movement. Read full book review >
SIRENS by Joshua Mohr
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 10, 2017

"An entirely candid, compelling memoir of addiction and the long, fraught road of recovery."
A novelist's account of how learning to live with a susceptibility to substance abuse helped him take control of his life in middle age. Read full book review >
NICOTINE by Gregor Hens
by Gregor Hens, translated by Jen Calleja
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 10, 2017

"In a book that is as much a paean to smoking as it is a eulogy, Hens is both poetic and unforgiving about the pleasures and pains of smoking."
A memoir about cigarette smoking whose meditations provide an intellectual frame for the addictive habit. Read full book review >
BOP APOCALYPSE by Martin Torgoff
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 10, 2017

"A textured story of human hope and hopelessness, of artistry that blossomed in the most daunting and, in some cases, demeaning circumstances."
A comprehensive and compassionate account of the intersections of jazz, race, and drugs in mid-20th-century America. Read full book review >
WASHINGTON'S FAREWELL by John Avlon
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 10, 2017

"A thoughtful consideration of Washington's wisdom that couldn't be timelier."
Why George Washington's last message proves apposite to our own time. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Clinton Kelly
January 9, 2017

Bestselling author and television host Clinton Kelly’s memoir I Hate Everyone Except You is a candid, deliciously snarky collection of essays about his journey from awkward kid to slightly-less-awkward adult. Clinton Kelly is probably best known for teaching women how to make their butts look smaller. But in I Hate Everyone, Except You, he reveals some heretofore-unknown secrets about himself, like that he’s a finicky connoisseur of 1980s pornography, a disillusioned critic of New Jersey’s premier water parks, and perhaps the world’s least enthused high-school commencement speaker. Whether he’s throwing his baby sister in the air to jumpstart her cheerleading career or heroically rescuing his best friend from death by mud bath, Clinton leaps life’s social hurdles with aplomb. With his signature wit, he shares his unique ability to navigate the stickiest of situations, like deciding whether it’s acceptable to eat chicken wings with a fork on live television (spoiler: it’s not). “A thoroughly light and entertaining memoir,” our critic writes. View video >