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Thanks for the Memories - March 7, 2018

Thanks for the Memories
 

Thanks for the Memories

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

New and notable biographies and memoirs. Published every other month.

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Questions? Email madtech@madisonpubliclibrary.org

Ali: A Life
by Jonathn Eig

Based on more than 500 interviews, including Muhammad Ali's closest associates, and enhanced by access to thousands of pages of newly released FBI records, this is a thrilling story of a man who became one of the great figures of the twentieth century.

Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India
by Sujatha Gildla

The stunning true story of an untouchable family who become teachers, and one, a poet and revolutionary. Like one in six people in India, Sujatha Gidla was born an untouchable. While most untouchables are illiterate, her family was educated by Canadian missionaries in the 1930s, making it possible for Gidla to attend elite schools and move to America at the age of twenty-six. It was only then that she saw how extraordinary--and yet how typical--her family history truly was. Her mother, Manjula, and uncles Satyam and Carey were born in the last days of British colonial rule. They grew up in a world marked by poverty and injustice, but also full of possibility.... Page by page, Gidla takes us into a complicated, close-knit family as they desperately strive for a decent life and a more just society. A moving portrait of love, hardship, and struggle, Ants Among Elephants is also that rare thing: a personal history of modern India told from the bottom up.

Bunny Mellon: The Life of an American Style Legend
by Meryl Gordon

A new biography of Bunny Mellon, the style icon and American aristocrat who designed the White House Rose Garden for her friend JFK and served as a living witness to 20th Century American history, operating in the high-level arenas of politics, diplomacy, art and fashion. Bunny Mellon, who died in 2014 at age 103, was press-shy during her lifetime. With the co-operation of Bunny Mellon's family, author Meryl Gordon received access to thousands of pages of her letters, diaries and appointment calendars and has interviewed more than 175 people to capture the spirit of this talented American original.

Chester B. Himes: A Biography
by Lawrence P. Jackson

In this definitive biography of Chester B. Himes (1909-1984), Lawrence P. Jackson uses exclusive interviews and unrestricted access to Himes's full archives to portray a controversial American writer whose novels unflinchingly confront sex, racism, and black identity. Himes brutally rendered racial politics in the best-selling novel If He Hollers Let Him Go, but he became famous for his Harlem detective series, including Cotton Comes to Harlem. A serious literary tastemaker in his day, Himes had friendships--sometimes uneasy--with such luminaries as Ralph Ellison, Carl Van Vechten, and Richard Wright.Jackson's scholarship and astute commentary illuminates Himes's improbable life--his middle-class origins, his eight years in prison, his painful odyssey as a black World War II-era artist, and his escape to Europe for success. More than ten years in the writing, Jackson's biography restores the legacy of a fascinating maverick caught between his aspirations for commercial success and his disturbing, vivid portraits of the United States.

Empress of the East: How a European Slave Girl Became Queen of the Ottoman Empire
by Leslie Peirce

The extraordinary story of the Russian slave girl Roxelana, who rose from the role of concubine to become the only queen in Ottoman history In Empress of the East, historian Leslie Peirce tells the remarkable story of a Christian slave girl, Roxelana, who was abducted by warriors at age twelve from her Ruthenian homeland, and brought to the harem of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent in Constantinople. Suleiman became besotted with her, and forsook all other mistresses. Then, in an unprecedented step, he made her the first and only queen in the Ottoman court. Although shrouded in scandal, the canny and sophisticated Roxelana became a shrewd diplomat and administrator, who helped Suleyman keep pace with a changing world in which women--from Queen Elizabeth to Catherine de Medici--increasingly held the reins of power. In Empress of the East, Pierce reveals the true history of an elusive figure who pushed the Ottoman Empire towards modernity.

Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life
by Robert Dallek

While Robert Dallek's Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life will take a fresh look at the many compelling questions that have attracted all his biographers--how did a man who came from so privileged a background become the greatest presidential champion of the country's needy? How did someone who never won recognition for his intellect foster revolutionary changes in the country's economic and social institutions? How did Roosevelt work such a profound change in the country's foreign relations?--the focus of his book is on Roosevelt as a man dedicated to public affairs, a master politician who skillfully and cannily used the presidency to advance a remarkable national agenda.

Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson
by Gordon S. Wood

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams could scarcely have come from more different worlds, or been more different in temperament. Jefferson, the optimist with enough faith in the innate goodness of his fellow man to be democracy's champion, was an aristocratic Southern slave owner, while Adams, the overachiever from New England's rising middling classes, painfully aware he was no aristocrat, was a skeptic about popular rule and a defender of a more elitist view of government. They worked closely in the crucible of revolution, crafting the Declaration of Independence and leading, with Franklin, the diplomatic effort that brought France into the fight. But ultimately, their profound differences would lead to a fundamental crisis, in their friendship and writ large in the nation, as they became the figureheads of two entirely new forces, the first American political parties. It was a bitter breach, lasting through the presidential administrations of both men, and beyond. But late in life, something remarkable happened: these two men were nudged into reconciliation.

Glass Eye
by Jeannie Vanasco

The night before her father dies, 18-year-old Jeannie Vanasco promises she will write a book for him. But this isn't the book she imagined. The Glass Eye is Jeannie's struggle to honor her father, her larger-than-life hero but also the man who named her after his daughter from a previous marriage, a daughter who died. After his funeral, Jeannie spends the next decade in escalating mania, in and out of hospitals - increasingly obsessed with the other Jeanne. Obsession turns to investigation as Jeannie plumbs her childhood awareness of her dead half sibling and hunts for clues into the mysterious circumstances of her death. It becomes a puzzle Jeannie feels she must solve to better understand herself and her father. Jeannie Vanasco pulls us into her unraveling with such intimacy that her insanity becomes palpable, even logical. A brilliant exploration of the human psyche, The Glass Eye deepens our definitions of love, sanity, grief, and recovery.

Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life in and Out of Jazz
by Fred Hersch

Good Things Happen Slowly is [Fred Hersch's] memoir. It's the story of the first openly gay, HIV-positive jazz player; a deep look into the cloistered jazz culture that made such a status both transgressive and ground-breaking; and a profound exploration of how Hersch's two-month-long coma in 2007 led to his creating some of the finest, most direct, and most emotionally compelling music of his career.

Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs
by Beth Ann Fennelly

The 52 micro-memoirs in genre-defying Heating & Cooling offer bright glimpses into a richly lived life, combining the compression of poetry with the truth-telling of nonfiction into one heartfelt, celebratory book. Ranging from childhood recollections to quirky cultural observations, these micro-memoirs build on one another to arrive at a portrait of Beth Ann Fennelly as a wife, mother, writer, and deeply original observer of life's challenges and joys. Some pieces are wistful, some wry, and many reveal the humor buried in our everyday interactions. Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs shapes a life from unexpectedly illuminating moments, and awakens us to these moments as they appear in the margins of our lives.

Priestdaddy: A Memoir
by Patricia Lockwood

Lockwood pivots from the raunchy to the sublime, from the comic to the deeply serious, exploring issues of belief, belonging, and personhood. Priestdaddy is an entertaining, unforgettable portrait of a deeply odd religious upbringing, and how one balances a hard-won identity with the weight of family and tradition.

Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell
by David Yaffe

In this intimate biography, drawing on dozens of unprecedented in-person interviews with Mitchell, her childhood friends, and a cast of famous characters, Yaffe reveals the backstory behind the famous songs--from Mitchell's youth in Canada, her bout with polio at age nine, and her early marriage and the child she gave up for adoption, through the love affairs that inspired masterpieces, and up to the present--and shows us why Mitchell has so enthralled her listeners, her lovers, and her friends. Reckless Daughter is the story of an artist and an era that have left an indelible mark on American music.

Schlesinger: The Imperial Historian
by Richard Aldous

Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. (1917-2007), known today as the architect of John F. Kennedy's presidential legacy, blazed an extraordinary path from Harvard University to wartime London to the West Wing. The son of a pioneering historian--and a two-time Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner in his own right--Schlesinger redefined the art of presidential biography. A Thousand Days, his best-selling and immensely influential record of the Kennedy administration, cemented Schlesinger's place as one of the nation's greatest political image makers and a key figure of the American intellectual elite--a peer and contemporary of Reinhold Niebuhr, Isaiah Berlin, and Adlai Stevenson.The first major biography of this defining figure in Kennedy's Camelot, Schlesinger: The Imperial Historian presents a dramatic life and career set against the backdrop of the American Century. Biographer Richard Aldous draws on oral history, rarely seen archival documents, and the official Schlesinger papers to craft a portrait of the incandescently brilliant and controversial historian who framed America's ascent to global empire.

Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine
by Joe Hagen

Sticky fingers: the Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine is the story of how one man's ego and ambition captured the 1960s youth culture of rock and roll and turned it into a hothouse of fame, power, politics, and riches that would last for fifty years. Drawn from dozens of hours of interviews with Wenner, who granted Joe Hagan exclusive access to his vast personal archive of correspondence, rare documents, recordings, and never-before-seen images, and featuring conversations with many of the greatest superstars of our time, this biography tells how Wenner partnered with such rock luminaries as John Lennon, Mick Jagger, and Bob Dylan to manufacture an unforgettable cultural mythology in words and images every other week for five decades. Hagan renders in stunning detail the extraordinary lives behind a magazine that began as a scrappy rebellion, reinvented youth culture, and marketed the libertine world of late-sixties San Francisco in a stylish, glossy package that became a locus of influence, access, and headline-making news.

Wine Lover’s Daughter
by Anne Fadiman

Wine is the spine of this touching memoir; the life and character of Fadiman's father, along with her relationship with him and her own less ardent relationship with wine, are the flesh. The Wine Lover's Daughter is a poignant exploration of love, ambition, class, family, and the pleasures of the palate by one of our finest essayists.