Biography & Memoir Book Reviews

BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 25, 2015

"A vastly intelligent, comprehensively procured treat for film buffs, gay or otherwise."
Articulate career analyses of five multitalented, openly gay male film directors. Read full book review >
THE LAST LOVE SONG by Tracy Daugherty
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 25, 2015

"A dogged biographer elicits from Didion's life much more than tidy observations of 'morality and culture.'"
An eloquent work on the life of Joan Didion (b. 1934), fashioning her story as no less than the rupture of the American narrative. Read full book review >

KISSINGER'S SHADOW by Greg Grandin
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 25, 2015

"A trenchant and succinct depiction of the ongoing artful dodging of the nonagenarian statesman."
A focused examination of Henry Kissinger's foreign policy as the normalization of "secrecy and spectacle," from Southeast Asia to Chile to Iran to Iraq. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 18, 2015

"An illuminating voyage into the heart of Frost's poem and the American spirit."
Unraveling the mystery of a famous poem. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 17, 2015

"A consistently fine appreciation of the medical maverick who, as much as any other, helped make the Space Age possible."
An author specializing in aviation tells the remarkable, almost-forgotten story of an aerospace pioneer. Read full book review >

BROWSINGS by Michael Dirda
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 15, 2015

"Dirda's comradely essays are unfailingly informative and amusing, punctuated with poignant asides on the aging artist and paeans to great literary scholars. His almost single-minded passion, the exhilaration of a life in literature, glows on every page."
Author and literary journalist Dirda (On Conan Doyle: Or, The Whole Art of Storytelling, 2011, etc.) presents a collection of light, conversational essays drawn from a year of writing on books and book collecting for the American Scholar.Read full book review >
GODS OF THE MORNING by John Lister-Kaye
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 15, 2015

"An evocative and heartfelt examination of a beautiful landscape and its fauna."
A distinguished British naturalist reflects on his encounters with the birds of the Scottish Highlands and how global warming has impacted these populations. Read full book review >
THE FISH LADDER by Katharine Norbury
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 11, 2015

"A beautifully written book about a journey through wild places in the landscape and the heart."
British writer Norbury's debut memoir takes readers on vigorous walks through lochs, rivers, and soggy marshes in Scotland, England, and Wales. Read full book review >
WHY I AM A SALAFI by Michael Muhammad Knight
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 11, 2015

"A vigorous treatment of how the sacred, in all its multifarious forms, continues to exercise power, even if sometimes it just feels like 'we're arguing over what the mystery god intended to say in his address to a mystic in a cave some fifteen centuries ago.'"
Knight (Tripping with Allah: Islam, Drugs, and Writing, 2013, etc.) traverses the scenic highways of Islamic history, seeking paths that connect him to Muhammad. Read full book review >
A WOMAN IN ARABIA by Gertrude Bell
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 11, 2015

"An impressive anthology by a scholar who knows how to separate the wheat from the chaff within the massive amount of primary source material Bell left behind at her death."
Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) shattered gender stereotypes while influencing British policy in the Middle East, particularly in the areas in and around present-day Iraq. Editor Howell (Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations, 2007) brings the "female Lawrence of Arabia" to life through judicious selections from Bell's massive public writings and personal papers.Read full book review >
Snapshots from my Uneventful Life by David I. Aboulafia
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 7, 2015

"The funny bits in this Everyman's true-life stories will remind readers to look on the bright side of life."
Debut author Aboulafia highlights absurd and memorable events from his life in humorous autobiographical essays. Read full book review >
WALKING WITH ABEL by Anna Badkhen
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"Readers with hectic lives may find the pace a bit slow, but the poetry in Badkhen's prose demands that readers slow down and savor her gentle, elegant story."
A journalist records her impressions of living with a group of nomads as they travel with their herds of cows back and forth across Mali. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Vanessa Diffenbaugh
September 1, 2015

Vanessa Diffenbaugh is the New York Timesbestselling author of The Language of Flowers; her new novel, We Never Asked for Wings, is about young love, hard choices, and hope against all odds. For 14 years, Letty Espinosa has worked three jobs around San Francisco to make ends meet while her mother raised her children—Alex, now 15, and Luna, six—in their tiny apartment on a forgotten spit of wetlands near the bay. But now Letty’s parents are returning to Mexico, and Letty must step up and become a mother for the first time in her life. “Diffenbaugh’s latest confirms her gift for creating shrewd, sympathetic charmers,” our reviewer writes. View video >