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Biographies (updated 5/25/17)
The Meaning of Michelle by
Whenever I think about Michelle Obama, I think, When I grow up, I want to be just like her. I want to be that intelligent, confident, and comfortable in my own skin . Roxane Gay Even after eight years of watching them daily in the press, the fact that the most powerful man in the world is a Black man is still breathtaking to me. The fact that he goes home to a tight-knit, loving family headed by a Black woman is soul-stirring. That woman is Michelle. Michelle. That name now carries a whole world of meaning... From the Preface by Ava DuVernay Michelle Obama is unlike any other First Lady in American History. From her first moments on the public stage, she has challenged traditional American notions about what it means to be beautiful, to be strong, to be fashion-conscious, to be healthy, to be First Mom, to be a caretaker and hostess, and to be partner to the most powerful man in the world. What is remarkable is that, at 52, she is just getting started. While many books have looked at Michelle Obama from a fashion perspective, no book has fully explored what she means to our culture. The Meaning of Michelle does just that, while offering a parting gift to a landmark moment in American history. In addition to a tribute to Michelle Obama, this book is also a rollicking, lively dinner party conversation about race, class, marriage, creativity, womanhood and what it means to be American today.
My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me by
When Jennifer Teege, a German-Nigerian woman, happened to pluck a library book from the shelf, she had no idea that her life would be irrevocably altered. Recognizing photos of her mother and grandmother in the book, she discovers a horrifying fact: Her grandfather was Amon Goeth, the vicious Nazi commandant chillingly depicted by Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List--a man known and reviled the world over. Although raised in an orphanage and eventually adopted, Teege had some contact with her biological mother and grandmother as a child. Yet neither revealed that Teege's grandfather was the Nazi "butcher of Plaszów," executed for crimes against humanity in 1946. The more Teege reads about Amon Goeth, the more certain she becomes: If her grandfather had met her--a black woman--he would have killed her. Teege's discovery sends her, at age 38, into a severe depression--and on a quest to unearth and fully comprehend her family's haunted history. Her research takes her to Krakow--to the sites of the Jewish ghetto her grandfather "cleared" in 1943 and the Plaszów concentration camp he then commanded--and back to Israel, where she herself once attended college, learned fluent Hebrew, and formed lasting friendships. Teege struggles to reconnect with her estranged mother Monika, and to accept that her beloved grandmother once lived in luxury as Amon Goeth's mistress at Plaszów. Teege's story is cowritten by award-winning journalist Nikola Sellmair, who also contributes a second, interwoven narrative that draws on original interviews with Teege's family and friends and adds historical context.
Paul McCartney by
The definitive Paul McCartney biography, written with his approval by bestselling biographer Philip Norman. Since the age of twenty-one, Paul McCartney has lived one of the ultimate rock-n-roll lives played out on the most public of stages. Now, Paul's story is told by rock music's foremost biographer, with McCartney's consent and access to family members and close friends who have never spoken on the record before. PAUL McCARTNEY reveals the complex character behind the façade and sheds new light on his childhood--blighted by his mother's death but redeemed by the father who introduced him to music. This is the first definitive account of Paul's often troubled partnership with John Lennon, his personal trauma after the Beatles' breakup, and his subsequent struggle to get back to the top with Wings--which nearly got him murdered in Africa and brought him nine days in a Tokyo jail. Readers will learn about his marriage to Linda, including their much-criticized musical collaboration, and a moving account of her death. Packed with new information and critical insights, PAUL MCCARTNEY will be the definitive biography of a musical legend.
Alexander Hamilton by
Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernow's biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of today's America is the result of Hamilton's countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. "To repudiate his legacy," Chernow writes, "is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world." Chernow here recounts Hamilton's turbulent life: an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, he came out of nowhere to take America by storm, rising to become George Washington's aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, coauthoring The Federalist Papers, founding the Bank of New York, leading the Federalist Party, and becoming the first Treasury Secretary of the United States. Historians have long told the story of America's birth as the triumph of Jefferson's democratic ideals over the aristocratic intentions of Hamilton. Chernow presents an entirely different man, whose legendary ambitions were motivated not merely by self-interest but by passionate patriotism and a stubborn will to build the foundations of American prosperity and power. His is a Hamilton far more human than we've encountered before--from his shame about his birth to his fiery aspirations, from his intimate relationships with childhood friends to his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Monroe, and Burr, and from his highly public affair with Maria Reynolds to his loving marriage to his loyal wife Eliza. And never before has there been a more vivid account of Hamilton's famous and mysterious death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July of 1804.
The Romanovs by
In July 1991, nine skeletons were exhumed from a shallow mass grave near Ekaterinburg, Siberia, a few miles from the infamous cellar room where the last tsar and his family had been murdered seventy-three years before. But were these the bones of the Romanovs? And if these were their remains, where were the bones of the two younger Romanovs supposedly murdered with the rest of the family? Was Anna Anderson, celebrated for more than sixty years in newspapers, books, and film, really Grand Duchess Anastasia? The Romanovs provides the answers, describing in suspenseful detail the dramatic efforts to discover the truth. Pulitzer Prize winner Robert K. Massie presents a colorful panorama of contemporary characters, illuminating the major scientific dispute between Russian experts and a team of Americans, whose findings, along with those of DNA scientists from Russia, America, and Great Britain, all contributed to solving one of the great mysteries of the twentieth century.
George Washington Carver by
Born into slavery, Carver earned a master's degree at Iowa State Agricultural College and went on to become that university's first black faculty member. A keen painter who chose agricultural studies over art, he focused the majority of his research on peanuts and sweet potatoes. His scientific breakthroughs with the crops -- both of which would replenish the cotton-leached soil of the South -- helped spare multitudes of sharecroppers from poverty. Despite Carver's lifelong difficulties with systemic racial prejudice, when he died in 1943, millions of Americans mourned the passing of one of the nation's most honored and well-known scientists. Christina Vella offers a thorough biography of George Washington Carver, including in-depth details of his relationships with his friends, colleagues, supporters, and those he loved. Despite the exceptional trajectory of his career, Carver was not immune to the racism of the Jim Crow era or the privations and hardships of the Great Depression and two world wars. Yet throughout this tumultuous period, his scientific achievements aligned him with equally extraordinary friends, including Teddy Roosevelt, Mohandas Gandhi, Henry A. Wallace, and Henry Ford. In pursuit of the man behind the historical figure, Vella discovers an unassuming intellectual with a quirky sense of humor, striking eccentricities, and an unwavering religious faith. She explores Carver's anguished dealings with Booker T. Washington across their nineteen years working together at the Tuskegee Institute -- a turbulent partnership often fraught with jealousy. Uneasy in personal relationships, Carver lost one woman he loved to suicide and, years later, directed his devotion toward a white man. A prodigious and generous scholar whose life was shaped by struggle and heartbreak as well as success and fame, George Washington Carver remains a key figure in the history of southern agriculture, botanical advancement, and the struggle for civil rights. Vella's extensively researched biography offers a complex and compelling portrait of one of the most brilliant men of the last century.
A Mother's Reckoning by
On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives. For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan's mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently? These are questions that Klebold has grappled with every day since the Columbine tragedy. In A Mother's Reckoning, she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible. In the hope that the insights and understanding she has gained may help other families recognize when a child is in distress, she tells her story in full, drawing upon her personal journals, the videos and writings that Dylan left behind, and on countless interviews with mental health experts. Filled with hard-won wisdom and compassion, A Mother's Reckoning is a powerful and haunting book that sheds light on one of the most pressing issues of our time. And with fresh wounds from the recent Newtown and Charleston shootings, never has the need for understanding been more urgent. All author profits from the book will be donated to research and to charitable organizations focusing on mental health issues.
Adnan's Story by
*Now a New York Times bestseller* Serial told Only Part of the Story... In early 2000, Adnan Syed was convicted and sentenced to life plus thirty years for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, a high school senior in Baltimore, Maryland. Syed has maintained his innocence, and Rabia Chaudry, a family friend, has always believed him. By 2013, after almost all appeals had been exhausted, Rabia contacted Sarah Koenig, a producer at This American Life, in hopes of finding a journalist who could shed light on Adnan's story. In 2014, Koenig's investigation turned into Serial, a Peabody Award-winning podcast with more than 500 million international listeners But Serial did not tell the whole story. In this compelling narrative, Rabia Chaudry presents new key evidence that she maintains dismantles the State's case: a potential new suspect, forensics indicating Hae was killed and kept somewhere for almost half a day, and documentation withheld by the State that destroys the cell phone evidence -- among many other points -- and she shows how fans of Serial joined a crowd-sourced investigation into a case riddled with errors and strange twists. Adnan's Story also shares Adnan's life in prison, and weaves in his personal reflections, including never-before-seen letters. Chaudry, who is committed to exonerating Adnan, makes it clear that justice is yet to be achieved in this much examined case.
Searching for Margaritaville by
In Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way, acclaimed music critic Ryan White has crafted the first definitive account of Buffett's rise from singing songs for beer to his emergence as a tropical icon and CEO behind the Margaritaville industrial complex, a vast network of merchandise, chain restaurants, resorts, and lifestyle products all inspired by his sunny but disillusioned hit "Margaritaville." Filled with interviews from friends, musicians, Coral Reefer Band members past and present, and business partners who were there, this book is a top-down joyride with plenty of side trips and meanderings from Mobile and Pascagoula to New Orleans, Key West, down into the islands aboard the Euphoria and the Euphoria II, and into the studios and onto the stages where the foundation of Buffett's reputation was laid. Buffett wasn't always the pied piper of beaches, bars, and laid-back living. Born on the Gulf Coast, the son of a son of a sailing ship captain, Buffett scuffed around New Orleans in the late sixties, flunked out of Nashville (and a marriage) in 1971, and found refuge among the artists, dopers, shrimpers, and genuine characters who'd collected at the end of the road in Key West. And it was there, in those waning outlaw days at the last American exit, where Buffett, like Hemingway before him, found his voice and eventually brought to life the song that would launch Parrot Head nation.
Blood Brothers by
In 1962, boxing writers and fans considered Cassius Clay an obnoxious self-promoter, and few believed that he would become the heavyweight champion of the world. But Malcolm X, the most famous minister in the Nation of Islam--a sect many white Americans deemed a hate cult--saw the potential in Clay, not just for boxing greatness, but as a means of spreading the Nation’s message. The two became fast friends, keeping their interactions secret from the press for fear of jeopardizing Clay’s career. Clay began living a double life--a patriotic "good Negro” in public, and a radical reformer behind the scenes. Soon, however, their friendship would sour, with disastrous and far-reaching consequences. Based on previously untapped sources, from Malcolm’s personal papers to FBI records, Blood Brothers is the first book to offer an in-depth portrait of this complex bond. Malcolm’s death marked the end of a critical phase of the civil rights movement, but the legacy of his friendship with Ali has endured. We inhabit a new era where the roles of entertainer and activist, of sports and politics, are more entwined than ever before. Blood Brothers is the story of how Ali redefined what it means to be a black athlete in America--after Malcolm first enlightened him. An extraordinary narrative of love and deep affection, as well as deceit, betrayal, and violence, this story is a window into the public and private lives of two of our greatest national icons, and the tumultuous period in American history that they helped to shape.