Entertainment & Sports Book Reviews

THE SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN MUSICAL by Jack Viertel
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"An enlightening trip for lovers of musicals."
From overture to final curtain, a close look at how musicals work. Read full book review >
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"An academic yet concise, fresh, and deeply informed look at how we read."
How does the study of disability help us to understand stories? Read full book review >

ON MY OWN by Diane Rehm
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"The prose reads like journal entries or letters to readers, punctuated by sometimes-trite remarks: 'Death is the ultimate finality,' she writes. 'There is no turning back.' Nevertheless, her perspectives on old age are brave and uplifting."
NPR host Rehm (Life with Maxie, 2010, etc.) reflects on loneliness, loss, and aging.Read full book review >
GRACE & STYLE by Grace Helbig
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"A witty and entertaining jab at what's in vogue in makeup, clothing, and fashion accessories."
A comedian and actress gives her slant on the world of fashion. Read full book review >
SING TO ME by L.A. Reid
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"An entertaining, thoughtful account of the music business, one that would-be machers will want to study closely."
"I always know in a few seconds." Music mogul Reid reveals the secrets of the producer's trade. Read full book review >

SOUL SERENADE by Rashod Ollison
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 26, 2016

"Honest and painful. Readers inclined to lament their own circumstances may brighten up when considering the odds Ollison has overcome."
An elegiac look at a childhood marked by violence, dysfunction, poverty, sorrow—and plenty of good music. Read full book review >
JAZZ DIASPORAS by Rashida K. Braggs
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: Jan. 26, 2016

"A fascinating look into an important chapter in cultural history. Braggs should return to the subject in more depth."
A study of a key epoch in the transition of jazz from a distinctively American music to an international art form. Read full book review >
LIFE IS NOT AN ACCIDENT by Jay Williams
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 26, 2016

"Of a piece with other inspirational and aspirational memoirs by athletes who have overcome adversity."
Memoir/cautionary tale by former basketball star Williams, whose fortunes were utterly changed a decade ago following a motorcycle accident. Read full book review >
GROUCHO MARX by Lee Siegel
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 12, 2016

"A perceptive, though dark, portrait."
An unsparing look at the abrasive performer. Read full book review >
ALL MONSTERS MUST DIE by Magnus Bärtås
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 12, 2016

"A clear and troubling picture of a country forced to embrace madness."
Two Swedish artists (one visual, the other musical) record their impressions of a one-week sojourn in North Korea in 2008. Read full book review >
ONE BREATH by Adam Skolnick
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 12, 2016

"A worthy addition to the growing body of literature on adventures that test the limits of nature and mankind."
A fatality spurs an inquiry into an extreme sport, illuminating the risks—as well as the rewards—of free diving. Read full book review >
LOVING AMY by Janis Winehouse
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 12, 2016

"Although this book may help others going through the heartbreak of addiction, readers may wonder whether it is helpful to the legacy of Amy Winehouse herself."
Winehouse's candid memoir of life with her award-winning, bestselling, hugely talented, and desperately troubled daughter, Amy Winehouse (1983-2011). 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 >