The Roosevelts: an Intimate History
By Geoffrey C. Ward & Ken Burns
Last fall, TV viewers were treated to another marvelous Ken Burns documentary; this print volume is the companion book to that series. The series and book both provide a riveting account of both of the main branches of this extended American family: the “Oyster Bay” Roosevelts – headed by Theodore Roosevelt, a man who suffered personal illness and tragic losses in early life but with hard work and pure will made himself into the “man of action” who eventually succeeded the assassinated William McKinley; and the “Hyde Park” Roosevelts, TR’s cousins who produced another great President, Franklin D. Roosevelt. And of course, the woman who was TR’s niece and became FDR’s wife – Eleanor; who many consider one of the greatest American women of the 20th century, and who made herself into an extremely influential person in her own right. There are many works about TR, FDR, and Eleanor, but this particular book and TV series give a very full portrait of some of the most important players in the last century and a half. Fascinating photos and yes, intimate details of love, betrayal, and, triumphs, and tragedy.
The Removers: a Memoir
By Andrew Meredith
Meredith shares the dark and depressing story of his life. We find him still living at home in his twenties, having flunked out of college. He’s taken a part-time job removing dead bodies from their homes for some spending money. Meredith doesn’t mind the dead – it’s the living that leave him baffled. Meredith especially doesn’t understand how his father could have gotten fired from his job as a literature professor, leaving his mother devastated but unwilling to end their marriage. Meredith and his sister are caught in the middle, as children, with parents existing in the same house but basically not speaking. This affected both the author and his sibling who were unwilling to play the cards they were dealt, and simply folded their hand. Meredith describes the process of “removing” and philosophizes about mortality and his inability to gain a footing in normalcy. It’s a very honest look at his life from a graceful writer. (Format: Print)
Unbroken: a World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
By Laura Hillenbrand
On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared--Lt. Louis Zamperini. Captured by the Japanese and driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor. A story you will never forget; the film version of Unbroken premieres this month in theaters.(Formats: Print; Large Print; e-book; Book-on-CD)
Rocket Girl: the Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, American’s First Female Rocket Scientist
By George D. Morgan
Mary Morgan was an enigma to her children. It seemed that she had erased all of her past, and it was never a subject for discussion. Following her death, her son George was tasked with writing her obituary. He knew from bits and pieces of conversation that his mother had worked on secret Cold War projects. But the obituary information could not be independently verified, and the Los Angeles Times would not print it. Thus began George’s quest to fill in the blanks about his mother’s past. The author refers to the book as “creative nonfiction.” The reader will be drawn into the remarkable life of Mary Morgan, a story that never would have seen the light of day but for one determined son. (Format: Print)
Twelve Years a Slave
By Solomon Northrup
Twelve Years a Slave is the harrowing account of a black man, born free in New York State, who was drugged, kidnapped, and sold into slavery in 1841. Having no way to contact his family, and fearing for his life if he told the truth, Solomon Northup was sold from plantation to plantation in Louisiana, toiling under cruel masters for twelve years before meeting Samuel Bass, a Canadian who finally put him in touch with his family, and helped start the process to regain his freedom. (Formats: Print; E-Book; Book-on-CD)
World’s Strongest Librarian: a Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family
By Josh Hanagarne
Diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome when he was a high school freshman, Josh Hanagarne tried every remedy until an autistic strongman taught him to "throttle" his symptoms. Illuminating the mysteries of this little- understood disorder as well as his very different roles as strongman and librarian with humor and candor, this unlikely hero traces his journey to overcome his disability-- and navigate his wavering Mormon faith-- to find love and create a life worth living. (Formats: print; Large Type)
Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
By Alexandra Fuller
In this sequel to 'Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight', Alexandra Fuller returns to Africa and the story of her unforgettable family. In ‘Cocktail Hour’ we see the Africa of her mother's childhood; the boiled cabbage grimness of her father's English childhood; and the civil war- torn Africa of Alexandra’s own childhood. At its heart, this is the story of Fuller's mother, Nicola. Born on the Scottish Isle of Skye and raised in Kenya, Nicola holds dear the kinds of values most likely to get you hurt or killed in Africa: loyalty to blood, passion for land, and a holy belief in the restorative power of all animals. We see Nicola and Tim Fuller in their lavender-colored honeymoon period, when east Africa lies before them with all its promise, even as the British empire in which they both believe wanes. But in short order, an accumulation of mishaps and tragedies bump up against history until the couple finds themselves in a world they hardly recognize. An unforgettable story of survival and madness, love and war, loyalty and forgiveness.
By George Howe Colt
Colt writes about his own brothers and various brothers in history in this extremely well-researched blend of memoir and history. Colt believe he is what he is today because of the family dynamics of growing up with three brothers. Colt parallels his quest to understand how his siblings shaped his life by looking at relationships between other brothers such as the Booths, the Van Goghs, and the Marx Brothers. It’s fascinating reading about how the inner working of family shape and mold us.
Destiny of the Republic: a Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President
By Candice Millard
James A. Garfield was one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president. Born into abject poverty, he rose to become a wunderkind scholar, a Civil War hero, and a renowned and admired reformist congressman. Nominated for president against his will, he engaged in a fierce battle with the corrupt political establishment. But four months after his inauguration, a deranged office seeker tracked Garfield down and shot him in the back. But the shot didn't kill Garfield. The drama of what happened subsequently is a powerful story of a nation in turmoil. The unhinged assassin's half-delivered strike shattered the fragile national mood of a country so recently fractured by civil war, and left the wounded president as the object of a bitter behind-the-scenes struggle for power--over his administration, over the nation's future, and, hauntingly, over his medical care. A team of physicians administered shockingly archaic treatments, to disastrous effect. As his condition worsened, Garfield received help: Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, worked around the clock to invent a new device capable of finding the bullet. Meticulously researched, epic in scope, and pulsating with an intimate human focus and high-velocity narrative drive, The Destiny of the Republic is a classic of narrative history.
Below Stairs: the Classic Kitchen Maid’s Memoir That Inspired “Upstairs, Downstairs” and “Downtown Abbey”
By Heather McElhatton
If you are a fan of Downton Abbey, or Upstairs, Downstairs, you will want to read Powell’s book. It was first published in 1968, and it is Margaret Powell’s memoir of her years spent in domestic service in early 20th century England. Like many young girls of that time period, the author left home at age 14 and “went into service”, working for the upper class in England to earn an income. The bottom rung of the ladder in domestic service was the kitchen maid, and that‘s where Powell started. But early on she was determined to climb rapidly to the top of the ladder. She would quickly become a Cook in the household; the Cook had all the respect in the kitchen; she was the “boss” of the domestic servants. Powell is feisty, but mindful of the distinctions between the upper and working classes; she tells her story with a keen wit.
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