Biography & Memoir Book Reviews

BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 8, 2016

"Fascinating to dip into casually and essential to students of the Kennedy administration, the Cold War, and late-20th-century world history."
Three months, 1,700 pages. But what months they were: a season in the midterm administration of John F. Kennedy marked by faltering polls, the aftermath of near nuclear war, and one crisis after another. Read full book review >
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 >
LOVE AND SCIENCE by Jan Vilcek
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"Vilcek artfully joins the chronicle of his scientific work and the dramatic events that punctuated his life under two totalitarian regimes, culminating in his flight to freedom. An inspiring page-turner."
A memoir of the extraordinary life and circumstances that led the author to the groundbreaking discovery of Remicade, which successfully treats two previously untreatable autoimmune diseases, Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Read full book review >
NEMESIS by Misha Glenny
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"Glenny does an admirable investigative job, delving deeply into the complicated causes and effects of Rio's drug trafficking."
A page-turning chronicle of the life and career of a favela don illustrates the larger challenges of a deeply impoverished, class-ridden Brazilian society.Read full book review >

In Her Own Sweet Time by Rachel Lehmann-Haupt
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 11, 2016

"An accessible, insightful look at today's modern families."
A journalist and single mom updates her memoir/social-sciences book about emerging routes to parenthood. Read full book review >
THE PROFITEERS by Sally Denton
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 16, 2016

"Filled with stories of cronyism and influence peddling, Denton's riveting and revealing book will undoubtedly displease the so-called 'boys from Bechtel,' who refused to talk to Denton, referring her to the company website."
Investigative journalist Denton (The Plots Against the President: FDR, A Nation in Crisis, and the Rise of the American Right, 2012, etc.) offers an ambitious "empire biography" of the Bechtel family and the secretive, privately held construction company-turned-diversified international conglomerate that has been "inextricably enmeshed" in U.S. foreign policy for seven decades. Read full book review >
MASTER OF CEREMONIES by Joel Grey
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 16, 2016

"An honest, eloquent, memorable autobiography."
The diminutive, unforgettable creator of the emcee in Cabaret both on stage and on screen writes frankly of his diverse career, exacting mother, and public embrace of his homosexuality.Read full book review >
ELEPHANT COMPLEX by John Gimlette
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 18, 2016

"An exuberant, eye-opening travel quest."
An intrepid journey to the famously reclusive island unearths a paradise amid trauma and obfuscation. Read full book review >
AND THEN ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE by Richard Engel
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 19, 2016

"An intriguing journalistic memoir built around a lucid, alarming overview of where the Middle East has been and where it is heading."
A deft personal account of a career spent reporting from the Middle East, witnessing the evaporation of peace and stability. Read full book review >
REASONS TO STAY ALIVE by Matt Haig
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 23, 2016

"A vibrant, encouraging depiction of a sinister disorder."
A British novelist turns to autobiography to report the manifold symptoms and management of his debilitating disease, depression. Read full book review >
MOVIE FREAK by Owen Gleiberman
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 23, 2016

"A story of societal change, rich in cultural as well as personal history."
A veteran movie critic for Entertainment Weekly debuts with a chronicle of his love affair with films, his long career at EW (before they laid him off in 2014), and his gnarly love life (until his marriage).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 >