Friday, August 31, 2007

"Why Kerouac Matters"

New from Viking: John Leland's Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of On the Road (They're Not What You Think).

About the book, from the publisher:

The author of Hip: The History reveals the lessons of the original hipster bible, On the Road

Legions of youthful Americans have taken On the Road as a manifesto for rebellion and an inspiration to hit the road. But there is much more to the novel than that.

In Why Kerouac Matters, John Leland embarks on a wry, insightful, and playful discussion of the novel, arguing that it still matters because at its core it is a book that is full of lessons about how to grow up. Leland’s focus is on Sal Paradise, the Kerouac alter ego, who has always been overshadowed by his fictional running buddy Dean Moriarty. Leland examines the lessons that Paradise absorbs and dispenses on his novelistic journey to manhood, and how those lessons — about work and money, love and sex, art and holiness — still reverberate today. He shows how On the Road is a primer for male friendship and the cultivation of traditional family values, and contends that the stereotype of the two wild and crazy guys obscures the novel’s core themes of the search for atonement, redemption, and divine revelation. Why Kerouac Matters offers a new take on Kerouac’s famous novel, overturning many misconceptions about it and making clear the themes Kerouac was trying to impart.


New from John Wiley & Sons: Bill Yenne's Guinness: The 250 Year Quest for the Perfect Pint.

About the book, from the inside cover flap:

For millions of beer lovers the world over, a properly poured pint of Guinness Stout is as close to perfection as beer gets. Each year, fans of the legendary black liquidation enjoy two billion pints of the beer known for its distinctive creamy head and rich drinkability. Ireland's most famous export, Guinness Stout — and the people who have brewed it — hold a unique place in the history of beer, business, and Ireland itself.

They say that good things come to those who wait. When you wait on a perfectly poured pint of Guinness Stout, you know you're getting something good. It's more than just a pint of beer; it's a mouthwatering visual presentation of the quality and taste you're about to enjoy. And millions wait patiently for their pint every day. To find out why, famed beer and beverage writer Bill Yenne talks to everyone from Guinness's master brewer to typical pubgoers about the beer they hold dear. Whatever magic makes it so delicious, it's powerful enough to soothe the souls of beer lovers from Dublin to Boston to Buenos Aires to Lagos, and everywhere in between.

But Guinness is more than a delicious beverage, it's also the name of the remarkable family of brewers and entrepreneurs whose story is worthy of legend, and who occupy a prominent place in Irish history. In Guinness, Yenne traces the 250-year tale of the family and its namesake beer. Beginning with Arthur Guinness, the entrepreneur patriarch who first began brewing at St. James's Gate, Dublin, in 1759, the story follows succeeding generations of the Guinness family through the years. Yenne follows not just the fortunes of the family Guinness, but also the development of the brand and the beer — from Arthur's earliest porter to the beer that is enjoyed in 150 countries today.

For Guinness aficionados, this tale offers an inside look at a legendary brewing company and the craftsmanship and pride that go into every keg. For anyone who hopes to keep their business vibrant and dynamic for the next few centuries, the book offers important lessons on continuity, quality, and innovation. For everyone who loves a good beer story, Guinness offers a perfect pint more than two centuries in the pouring.

Sit back and enjoy.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

"The Declaration"

Coming in October from Bloomsbury: Gemma Malley's The Declaration.

About the book, from the publisher:

In a perfect future, the price for staying youthful means banishing the young

It’s the year 2140 and Longevity drugs have all but eradicated old age. That means Anna should never have been born. Nor should any of the children at Grange Hall. The facility is full of boys and girls whose parents chose to have kids despite a Declaration forcing people to opt in, or opt out. Anna’s parents opted in — but they also had her. And that makes Anna a surplus. Then one day a boy named Peter arrives, bringing with him news of the world outside, a place where people are starting to say that maybe people shouldn’t live forever. Peter begs Anna to escape with him, but Anna’s not sure who to trust: the strange boy whose version of life sounds like a dangerous fairy tale, or the familiar walls of Grange Hall and the head mistress who has controlled her every waking thought? Chilling, poignant, and endlessly thought-provoking, The Declaration will have readers agonizing over Anna’s fate until the very last page.

"Victory Square"

New from St. Martin's Minotaur: Olen Steinhauer's Victory Square.

About the book, from the publisher:

The revolutionary politics and chaotic history of life inside Olen Steinhauer’s fictionalized Eastern European country have made his literary crime series, with its two Edgar Award nominations along with other critical acclaim, one of today’s most acclaimed. Finally having reached the tumultuous 1980s, the series comes full circle as one of the earliest cases of the People’s Militia reemerges to torment all of the inspectors, including Emil Brod, now the chief, who was the original detective on the case. His arrest of one of the country’s revolutionary leaders in the late 1940s resulted in the politician’s conviction and imprisonment, but Emil was too young in those days to understand what it meant to go up against someone so powerful — and win. Only now, in 1989, when he is days from retirement and spends more time looking over his shoulder than ahead, does he realize that what he did may get him — and others — killed.

Told against the backdrop of the crumbling forty-year-old government — with the leaders who were so new in the series debut, The Bridge of Sighs Victory Square is Steinhauer at his best. Once again he masterfully makes crime fiction both personal and political, combining a story of revenge at any cost with a portrait of a country on the brink of collapse.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Democracy's Good Name"

New from PublicAffairs: Democracy's Good Name: The Rise and Risks of the World's Most Popular Form of Government by Michael Mandelbaum.

About the book, from the publisher:

The acclaimed author of The Ideas that Conquered the World investigates the reasons for democracy's exponential rise in the last century and critically examines democracy’s potential in the Middle East, Russia, and China

The last thirty years have witnessed one of the most remarkable developments in history: the rapid rise of democracy around the world. In 1900, only ten countries were democracies and by 1975 there were only 30. Today, 119 of the world’s 190 countries have adopted this form of government, and it is by far the most celebrated and prestigious one.

How did democracy acquire its good name? Why did it spread so far and so fast? Why do important countries remain undemocratic? And why do efforts to export democracy so often fail and even make conditions worse?

In Democracy’s Good Name, Michael Mandelbaum, one of America’s leading foreign policy thinkers, answers these questions. He surveys the methods and risks of promoting democracy, and analyzes the prospects for the establishment of democratic governments in Russia, China, and the Arab world.

Written in Mandelbaum’s clear and accessible style, Democracy’s Good Name presents a lucid, comprehensive, and surprising account of the history and future of democracy from the American Revolution to the occupation of Iraq.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"The Bone Man"

New from Leisure Books: Vicki Stiefel's The Bone Man.

About the book, from the publisher:

It was a fascinating anthropological discovery — a human skull found inside a clay Anasazi pot more than eight hundred years old. But as soon as Tally Whyte sees the forensic reconstruction of the face, she goes from fascinated to horrified. The face belongs to an art dealer Tally knew well. How could a contemporary skull find its way into a centuries-old clay pot? And more importantly, how did the woman die? The search for answers will lead Tally from Boston to New Mexico, where she will learn of the Blood Fetish, a priceless artifact as old as the Anasazi themselves—with secrets worth killing for.


New from Yale University Press: Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa's Greatest Explorer by Tim Jeal.

About the book, from the publisher:

Henry Morton Stanley, so the tale goes, was a cruel imperialist who connived with King Leopold II of Belgium in horrific crimes against the people of the Congo. He also conducted the most legendary celebrity interview in history, opening with, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

But these perceptions are not quite true, Tim Jeal shows in this grand and colorful biography. With unprecedented access to previously closed Stanley family archives, Jeal reveals the amazing extent to which Stanley’s public career and intimate life have been misunderstood and undervalued. Jeal recovers the reality of Stanley’s life — a life of almost impossible extremes — in this moving story of tragedy, adventure, disappointment, and success.

Few have started life as disadvantaged as Stanley. Rejected by both parents and consigned to a Welsh workhouse, he emigrated to America as a penniless eighteen-year-old. Jeal vividly re-creates Stanley’s rise to success, his friendships and romantic relationships, and his life-changing decision to assume an American identity. Stanley’s epic but unfairly forgotten African journeys are thrillingly described, establishing the explorer as the greatest to set foot on the continent. Few biographies can claim so thoroughly to reappraise a reputation; few portray a more extraordinary historical figure.

Monday, August 27, 2007

"Every Crooked Pot"

Published in June by St. Martin's Griffin: Renee Rosen's Every Crooked Pot.

About the book, from the publisher:

In her heart, Nina Goldman knows that beauty is only skin deep. But as a teenager growing up in Akron, Ohio – with her larger-than-life father Artie, a colorblind carpet salesman and frustrated musician – the only thing Nina wishes for is…to be beautiful. Or at least normal. As if having such an eccentric dad wasn’t enough, Nina has another issue to face: the mirror. Born with a strawberry birthmark over her eye, Nina spends countless hours applying makeup and trying out ridiculous hairstyles designed to hide here eye. Convinced that her birthmark is the only reason she’s not popular and can’t find a boyfriend, Nina must find other ways to survive high school. With a string of crazy exploits that have her riding in dryers and appearing on TV, Nina proves she’ll do just about anything to fit in, and even more in the hope of finding love.
Visit Renee Rosen's website.

"Stuff to Die For"

Due out on September 1: Don Bruns's Stuff to Die For.

About the book, from the author's website:

Chasing the American Dream could leave you running for your life. Best friends James Lessor and Skip Moore are hardly on the fast track. While James works as a line cook at Cap'n Crab, Skip spends his days selling — rather attempting to sell — security systems to people who have no money and have nothing they care to protect.

James and Skip aren't upwardly mobile, but they're about to get literally mobile when James spends a surprise inheritance on a white box truck. An investment in the future, he surmises, as these two are starting a business. Moore and Lessor, or Lessor and Moore. Have Truck Will Haul.

But the fledgling business takes a shocking turn when James and Skip unload the contents of their first moving job and find some unexpected cargo — a bloody human finger.

As James and Skip scramble to stay one step ahead of the perpetrators of a gruesome crime, they'll learn that there is some stuff you should never touch — and some stuff to die for in this witty, gritty mystery about big dreams, big ideas — and big trouble.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

"The Great Upheaval"

Coming in September from HarperCollins: The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800 by Jay Winik.

About the book
, from the publisher:

It is an era that redefined history. As the 1790s began, a fragile America teetered on the brink of oblivion, Russia towered as a vast imperial power, and France plunged into revolution. But in contrast to the way conventional histories tell it, none of these remarkable events occurred in isolation. Now, for the first time, in The Great Upheaval, acclaimed historian Jay Winik masterfully illuminates how their fates combined in one extraordinary moment to change the course of civilization.

In this sweeping, magisterial drama, Winik brings his vast, meticulous research and narrative genius to the cold, dark battlefields and deadly clashes of ideologies that defined this age. Here is a savage world war, the top-pling of a great dynasty, and an America struggling to survive at home and abroad. Here, too, is the first modern holy war between Islam and a resurgent Christian empire. And here is the richest cast of characters to walk upon the world stage: Washington and Jefferson, Louis XVI and Robespierre, Catherine the Great, Adams, Napoleon, and Selim III. With powerful echoes for understanding the international chaos that confronts the globe today, we see them all fighting desperately for the ideals they believed in, whether man-made democracy or divinely inspired autocracy, whether republicanism or Allah's law.

Exquisitely written and utterly compelling, The Great Upheaval vividly depicts an arc of revolutionary fervor stretching from Philadelphia and Paris to St. Petersburg and Cairo — with fateful results. A landmark in historical literature, Winik's gripping, epic portrait of this tumultuous decade will forever transform the way we see America's beginnings and our world.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

"Dizzy City"

New from Steerforth Press: Dizzy City by Nicholas Griffin.

About the book, from the author's website:

The year is 1916, Europe is at war and American industrialists are getting rich. Englishman Ben Cramb deserts the trenches of northern France and stows away on an outbound transatlantic ship. When the vessel docks in New York City, a place untouched and largely unaware of the horrors of war, he realizes this is the place to reinvent himself. In the process, he soon falls under the sway of the urbane and mysterious Julius McAteer, who sees in Ben his chance to finely hone the tools of someone who can master the art of the con. They concoct a ruse, pick their mark – a blustering Midwestern cattleman named Henry Jergens – and the game is afoot. But the further Ben follows the money in New York, the closer he moves back to the war in Europe and his shattering experiences there. This page-turner is rich in historical detail and filled with romance and adventure. It’s a fascinating journey inside the art of the con, and a moving novel about what happens when we try to find happiness at others’ expense.
Visit Nicholas Griffin's website.

Friday, August 24, 2007

"Winning the Right War"

New from Henry Holt and Times Books: Winning the Right War: The Path to Security for America and the World by Philip H. Gordon.

About the book, from the publisher:

A new strategy for American foreign policy that looks beyond Iraq and changes the way we think about the war on terror.

Six years into the “war on terror,” are the United States and its allies better off than we were before it started? Sadly, we are not, and the reason is that we have been fighting – and losing – the wrong war.

In this paradigm-shifting book, Philip H. Gordon presents a new way of thinking about the war on terror and a new strategy for winning it. He draws a provocative parallel between the world today and the world of the Cold War, showing how defense, development, diplomacy, and the determination to maintain our own values can again be deployed alongside military might to defeat a violent and insidious ideology. Drawing on the latest scholarly research, his own experience in the White House, and visits to more than forty countries, he provides fresh insights into the nature of the terrorist challenge and offers concrete and realistic proposals for confronting it.

Gordon also asks the question “What would victory look like?” – a topic sorely missing from the debate today. He offers a positive vision of the world after the war on terror, which will end not when we kill or capture all potential terrorists but when their hateful ideology collapses around them, when extremists become isolated in their own communities, and when Americans and their allies will again feel safe. His vision for promoting these goals is achievable and realistic, but only if the United States changes course before it is too late. As we look beyond the presidency of George W. Bush, we must seize the opportunity to chart a new course to security for America, the West, and the world at large. The stakes could not be higher.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

"Anarchy and Old Dogs"

New from Soho Press: Anarchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill.

About the book, from the publisher:

A blind retired dentist has been run down by a logging truck on the street in Vientiane just opposite the Post Office. His body is duly delivered to the morgue of Dr. Siri Paiboun, the official and only coroner of Laos. At the age of seventy-three, Dr. Siri is too old to be in awe of the new Communist bureaucrats for whom he now works. He identifies the corpse, helped by the letter in the man’s pocket. But first he must decipher it; it is written in code and invisible ink. The dentist’s widow explains that the enigmatic letters and numbers describe chess moves, but they are unlike any chess symbols Siri has previously encountered. With the help of his old friend, Civilai, now a senior member of the Laos politburo, and of Nurse Dtui (“Fatty”), Phosy, a police officer, and Aunt Bpoo, a transvestite fortune-teller, Dr. Siri solves the mystery of the note to the blind dentist and foils a plot to overthrow the government of Laos.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"Hurricane Season"

New from Free Press: Neal Thompson's Hurricane Season: A Coach, His Team, and Their Triumph in the Time of Katrina.

About the book, from the publisher:

"There's always a point in the season when you're faced with a challenge and you see what you're capable of. And you grow up."

-- J.T. Curtis, head coach, John Curtis Christian School Patriots

On Saturday, August 27, 2005, the John Curtis Patriots met for a grueling practice in the late summer New Orleans sun, the air a visible fog of humidity. They had pulled off a 19-0 shutout in their pre-season game the night before, but it was a game full of dumb mistakes. Head coach J.T. Curtis was determined to drill those mistakes out of them before their highly anticipated next game, which sportswriters had dubbed "the Battle of the Bayou" against a big team coming in all the way from Utah. As fate played out, that afternoon was the last time the Patriots would see one another for weeks; some teammates they'd never see again. Hurricane Katrina was about to tear their lives apart.

The Patriots are a most unlikely football dynasty. There is a small, nondescript, family-run school, the buildings constructed by hand by the school's founding patriarch, John Curtis Sr. In this era of high school football as big business with 20,000 seat stadiums, John Curtis has no stadium of its own. The team plays an old-school offense, and Coach Curtis insists on a no-cut policy, giving every kid who wants to play a chance. As of 2005, they'd won nineteen state championships in Curtis's thirty-five years of coaching, making him the second most winning high school coach ever. Curtis has honed to a fine art the skill of teaching players how to transcend their natural talents. No screamer, he strives to teach kids about playing with purpose, the power of respect, dignity, poise, patience, trust in teamwork, and the payoff of perseverance, showing them how to be winners not only on the gridiron, but in life, and making boys into men. Hurricane Katrina would put those lessons to the test of a lifetime.

Hurricane Season is the story of a great coach, his team, his family, and their school -- and a remarkable fight back from shocking tragedy. It is a story of football and faith, and of the transformative power of a team that rises above adversity, and above its own abilities, to come together again and prove what they're made of. It is the gripping story of how, as one player put it, "football became my place of peace."

Visit Neal Thompson's website.


New from Random House: Away by Amy Bloom.

About the novel, from the publisher:

Panoramic in scope, Away is the epic and intimate story of young Lillian Leyb, a dangerous innocent, an accidental heroine. When her family is destroyed in a Russian pogrom, Lillian comes to America alone, determined to make her way in a new land. When word comes that her daughter, Sophie, might still be alive, Lillian embarks on an odyssey that takes her from the world of the Yiddish theater on New York’s Lower East Side, to Seattle’s Jazz District, and up to Alaska, along the fabled Telegraph Trail toward Siberia. All of the qualities readers love in Amy Bloom’s work – her humor and wit, her elegant and irreverent language, her unflinching understanding of passion and the human heart–come together in the embrace of this brilliant novel, which is at once heartbreaking, romantic, and completely unforgettable.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"Forever Dead"

New this summer from Dundurn Press: Suzanne Kingsmill's Forever Dead.

About the book, from the author's website:

Hitch a ride with zoology professor Cordi O’ Callaghan as she unwittingly gets pulled into some action-packed scenarios when she discovers a body while on a white water canoe trip in the wild woods of west Quebec, Canada. Shortly after this gruesome discovery her life is threatened, her research disks are stolen and her lab at the university is fumigated. And there’s the little problem of a rogue bear and some killer rapids. She has to get her disks back or lose her job (and possibly her life) - it’s publish or perish. She’s not about to perish, at least not that way. So she sets out to get her disks back.

This is Cordi’s first murder case and she is not your average hard-boiled sleuth who shoots from the hip. Cordi doesn’t shoot at all. In fact she doesn’t even own a gun, unless a flare gun counts. She has fears and misgivings, like most people, and they come into play as she struggles to solve a murder and salvage her career as a university zoology professor.

Fortunately she doesn’t have to struggle alone. Martha Bathgate, Cordi’s technician and sounding board, with a flair for the ridiculous, keeps Cordi out of the dumps. Her brother, Ryan O’Callaghan, a photographer and farmer and Duncan McPherson, a crusty old coroner add to the convoluted mix of mystery and suspense. And then there’s Patrick, because where would Cordi’s life be without romance? But their relationship is off to a rocky start when Cordi puts him on the list of possible suspects.

"When One Man Dies"

Coming soon from Three Rivers Press: Dave White's When One Man Dies.

About the novel, from the author's website:

When one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but is translated into a better language.--John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions.

When Gerry Figuroa is killed in a hit and run, his pal, Jersey P.I. Jackson Donne, is hired to investigate. Donne soon discovers that Figuroa may not have been quite the innocent he seemed. A second case leads Donne to a dead body on the steps of Drew University.

Again, appearances are deceptive. As he digs deeper, Donne uncovers a drugs connection, and it quickly becomes clear that certain people would rather he dropped his investigation. Events take on a further twist when Donne's ex-cop partner shows up bent on shattering everything Donne holds dear. Donne’s past has been on hold, but now it’s hurtling towards him with a vengeance.
Visit Dave White's website and his blog.

Monday, August 20, 2007

"Fourth Comings"

New from Crown Publishing: Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty.

About the book, from the publisher:

At first it seems that she’s living the elusive New York City dream. She’s subletting an apartment with her best friend, Hope, working for a magazine that actually utilizes her psychology degree, and still deeply in love with Marcus Flutie, the charismatic addict-turned-Buddhist who first captivated her at sixteen.

Of course, reality is more complicated than dreamy clichés. She and Hope share bunk beds in the “Cupcake” — the girlie pastel bedroom normally occupied by twelve-year-old twins. Their Brooklyn neighborhood is better suited to “breeders,” and she and Hope split the rent with their promiscuous high school pal, Manda, and her “genderqueer boifriend.” Freelancing for an obscure journal can’t put a dent in Jessica’s student loans, so she’s eking out a living by babysitting her young niece and lamenting that she, unlike most of her friends, can’t postpone adulthood by going back to school.

Yet it’s the ever-changing relationship with Marcus that leaves her most unsettled. At the ripe age of twenty-three, he’s just starting his freshman year at Princeton University. Is she ready to give up her imperfect yet invigorating post-college life just because her on-again/off-again soul mate asks her to... marry him?

Jessica has one week to respond to Marcus’s perplexing marriage proposal. During this time, she gains surprising wisdom from unexpected sources, including a popular talk show shrink, a drag queen named Royalle G. Biv, and yes, even her parents. But the most shocking confession concerns two people she thought had nothing to hide: Hope and Marcus.

Will this knowledge inspire Jessica to give up a world of late-night literary soirees, art openings, and downtown drunken karaoke to move back to New Jersey and be with the one man who’s gripped her heart for years? Jessica ponders this and other life choices with her signature snark and hyper-intense insight, making it the most tumultuous and memorable week of her twenty-something life.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

"The Long Walk Home"

New from Crown Publishing: The Long Walk Home by Will North.

About the book, from the publisher:

When forty-three-year-old Fiona Edwards first sees the lanky backpacker striding up the lane toward her award-winning farmhouse bed-and-breakfast in the remote mountains of North Wales, she’s puzzled. She’s used to unexpected strangers, but few arrive on foot. The man to whom she opens her door is middle-aged, unshaven, sweat-soaked ... and arrestingly handsome. What neither of them knows at that moment is that their lives are about to change forever.

American Alec Hudson has carried the ashes — and the memory — of his late ex-wife, Gwynne, all the way from London’s Heathrow Airport, honoring her request that he scatter them atop a mountain they had climbed together years before—the same brooding peak whose jagged cliffs rise to the sky from the back pastures of Fiona’s farm. But the weather doesn’t cooperate, and as Fiona and Alec wait for it to clear, they are drawn together by mutual loss, longing, and the miracle of love at midlife.

On the day he finally reaches the summit, Alec is caught in a vicious hailstorm. As he struggles to descend, he stumbles upon the body of a man he recognizes from a photograph at the farm: it is Fiona’s ailing and reclusive husband, David, and he is close to death.

Will North’s debut novel, The Long Walk Home, is a story about grief and hope, about love and loss, and about two people struggling with the agonizing complexities of fidelity — to a spouse, to a moral code, to each other, and to a passion neither thought would ever appear again. By turns lyrical and gripping, set amid a landscape of breathtaking beauty and unpredictable danger, this is a story you will not soon forget.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

"The World We Want"

New from Oxford University Press: The World We Want: How and Why the Ideals of the Enlightenment Still Elude Us by Robert B. Louden.

About the book, from the publisher:

The World We Want compares the future world that Enlightenment intellectuals had hope for with our own world at present. In what respects do the two worlds differ, and why are they so different? To what extent is and isn't our world the world they wanted, and to what extent do we today still want their world? Unlike previous philosophical critiques and defenses of the Enlightenment, the present study focuses extensively on the relevant historical and empirical record first, by examining carefully what kind of future Enlightenment intellectuals actually hoped for; second, by tracking the different legacies of their central ideals over the past two centuries.

But in addition to documenting the significant gap that still exists between Enlightenment ideals and current realities, the author also attempts to show why the ideals of the Enlightenment still elude us. What does our own experience tell us about the appropriateness of these ideals? Which Enlightenment ideals do not fit with human nature? Why is meaningful support for these ideals, particularly within the US, so weak at present? Which of the means that Enlightenment intellectuals advocated for realizing their ideals are inefficacious? Which of their ideals have devolved into distorted versions of themselves when attempts have been made to realize them? How and why, after more than two centuries, have we still failed to realize the most significant Enlightenment ideals? In short, what is dead and what is living in these ideals?

Friday, August 17, 2007

"Getting Rid of Matthew"

New from Hyperion: Getting Rid of Matthew by Jane Fallon.

About the book, from the publisher:

A sparkling, sophisticated, witty story about what happens when he finally leaves his wife for you ... and you realize you don’t want him after all.

For once this isn’t a novel about the heroine getting the guy. It’s about getting rid of the guy, and in the process, finding herself.

Helen is nearly forty, and has, for far too long, had an affair with Matthew, a high-powered, much older, attractive, married man who was once, of course, her boss. After years of being disappointed by missed dates, out-of-the-way restaurants where there’s no chance of them being caught, broken promises, and hushed phone calls, at last Helen realizes enough is enough -- it’s time to dump Matthew and get on with her life.

This, of course, is the exact moment when Matthew decides to leave his wife for her. He appears on her doorstep, announcing, “I’ve done it! I’ve left her! I’m yours!” and proceeds to move in. Helen then discovers how much she can’t bear him. But she can’t just throw him out—after all, she’s been begging him to do exactly this for years. The only thing to do, she decides, is to convince his wife, Sophie, to take him back.

So after a “chance” meeting in the park, Helen befriends Sophie and hears all about her lying, cheating husband. But then, the unexpected happens -- Helen really starts to like Sophie, and thinks she’s way too good for a selfish bore like Matthew. And then there’s the other small problem of Matthew’s handsome, charming son....

Jane Fallon turns the conventional love story on its head in this irresistibly delicious, ironic debut for every woman who has ever realized, “Be careful what you wish for.”

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"Swim to Me"

New from Algonquin: Betsy Carter's Swin to Me.

About the book, from the publisher:

It's a fresh start for Delores Walker when she boards a Greyhound bus bound for Florida. Leaving the Bronx far behind, she's headed for sunny Weeki Wachee Springs, frayed roadside attraction in danger of becoming obsolete with the opening of Walt Disney's latest creation, only miles up the road. Always more suited for a life underwater, Delores joins a group of other aquatic hopefuls in this City of Live Mermaids, where she discovers a world of sequined tails and amphibious theme shows that even Disney couldn't dream up. It's in this fantastic place of make-believe and reinvention that Delores Walker becomes Delores Taurus, Florida's most unlikely celebrity.

Bringing together an eccentric assortment of outcasts, poseurs, and underdogs, this wise and poignant novel conjures up a time in America when anything was possible, especially in the Sunshine State. A story of family, chasing dreams and finding your way, Swim To Me will have you believing the impossible — even in mermaids from the Bronx.


New from Putnam: Patricia Wood's Lottery.

About the book, from the author's website:

Perry’s IQ is only 76, but he’s not stupid. His grandmother taught him everything he needs to know to survive: She taught him to write things down so he won’t forget them. She taught him to play the lottery every week. And, most important, she taught him whom to trust. When Gram dies, Perry is left orphaned and bereft at the age of thirty-one. Then his weekly Washington State Lottery ticket wins him 12 million dollars, and he finds he has more family than he knows what to do with. Peopled with characters both wicked and heroic who leap off the pages, Lottery is a deeply satisfying, gorgeously rendered novel about trust, loyalty, and what distinguishes us as capable.
Read an excerpt from Lottery.

"The Seventh Sacrament"

New from Delacorte: David Hewson's The Seventh Sacrament.

About the book, from the author's website:

It begins on one of Rome's least-known hills, the Aventino, in the public piazza fronting the mansion of the Knights of Malta. There a curious keyhole to the knights' estate reveals an astonishing view, a direct line across the Tiber to the dome of St. Peters in the distance.

For seven-year-old Alessio Bramante the act of peeking through the keyhole on his way to school each day is a ritual, a way of establishing a bond with his difficult, distant father, one of Rome's most famous archaeologists, Giorgio Bramante. Then one day, after an unexpected visit to one of Giorgio's underground excavations, Alessio disappears. A group of students who had slipped into the site, an ancient Mithraic temple, attract the blame. A tragedy occurs. Alessio is never found, and it's his father who goes to jail.

Fourteen years later, in an arcane shrine by the Tiber known as the Little Museum of Purgatory, a tee-shirt belonging to Bramante's son begins to show fresh bloodstains. No one can understand how the marks have appeared behind the glass.

Soon it becomes apparent that the newly-released Giorgio Bramante is bent upon a vicious and terrifying revenge on all those he blames for the loss of his son, and numbers Inspector Leo Falcone, a member of the original investigating team, among his targets. In the depths of the labyrinth he knows better than any man, a distraught father seeks his vengeance against those he hates.

Nic Costa, watching Falcone move relentlessly into the man's deadly grip, realises the answer to the deadly present must lie in solving a cold case that, like the forgotten Alessio Bramante, has long been regarded as dead and buried for good.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"The Unnatural History of the Sea"

New from Island Press: The Unnatural History of the Sea by Callum M. Roberts.

About the book, from the publisher:

Humanity can make short work of the oceans' creatures. In 1741, hungry explorers discovered herds of Steller's sea cow in the Bering Strait, and in less than thirty years, the amiable beast had been harpooned into extinction. It's a classic story, but a key fact is often omitted. Bering Island was the last redoubt of a species that had been decimated by hunting and habitat loss years before the explorers set sail.

As Callum M. Roberts reveals in The Unnatural History of the Sea, the oceans' bounty didn't disappear overnight. While today's fishing industry is ruthlessly efficient, intense exploitation began not in the modern era, or even with the dawn of industrialization, but in the 11th century in medieval Europe. Roberts explores this long and colorful history of commercial fishing, taking readers around the world and through the centuries to witness the transformation of the seas.

Drawing on firsthand accounts of early explorers, pirates, merchants, fishers, and travelers, the book recreates the oceans of the past: waters teeming with whales, sea lions, sea otters, turtles, and giant fish. The abundance of marine life described by 15th century seafarers is almost unimaginable today, but Roberts both brings it alive and artfully traces its depletion. Collapsing fisheries, he shows, are simply the latest chapter in a long history of unfettered commercialization of the seas.

The story does not end with an empty ocean. Instead, Roberts describes how we might restore the splendor and prosperity of the seas through smarter management of our resources and some simple restraint. From the coasts of Florida to New Zealand, marine reserves have fostered spectacular recovery of plants and animals to levels not seen in a century. They prove that history need not repeat itself: we can leave the oceans richer than we found them.

Visit the book's official website.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"In Defense of Dolphins"

New in the Blackwell Public Philosophy Series: Thomas I. White's In Defense of Dolphins: The New Moral Frontier.

About the book, from the publisher:

Have humans been sharing the planet with other intelligent life for millions of years without realizing it? In Defense of Dolphins combines accessible science and philosophy, surveying the latest research on dolphin intelligence and social behavior, to advocate for their ethical treatment.

  • Encourages a reassessment of the human-dolphin relationship, arguing for an end to the inhuman treatment of dolphins
  • Written by an expert philosopher with almost twenty-years of experience studying dolphins
  • Combines up-to-date research supporting the sophisticated cognitive and emotional capacities of dolphins with entertaining first-hand accounts
  • Looks at the serious questions of intelligent life, ethical treatment, and moral obligation
  • Engaging and thought-provoking

"Justice Denied"

New from William Morrow: J.A. Jance's Justice Denied.

About the book, from the publisher:

Seattle investigator J. P. Beaumont is handed a hush–hush special assignment: find out what really happened in the shooting death of an ex–con. At first, everything seems straightforward, but the deeper Beau digs, the more complicated it becomes. The ex–con really had turned over a new leaf and his murder has nothing to do with, say, a drug deal gone bad. Someone targeted DeShawn for death.

Meanwhile, Beau's lover and fellow cop, Mel, is looking into cold cases, in order to close them once and for all. But suddenly, her investigation has tentacles reaching to Beau's, and the two begin to uncover a nightmarish conspiracy that could involve people in high places, even within the halls of law enforcement.
Visit J.A. Jance's website.

Monday, August 13, 2007

"A Perfect Grave"

Coming September 4th from Pinnacle Books: Rick Mofina's A Perfect Grave.

About the book, from the publisher:

The Sins Of The Past

The face in the mirror belongs to a man Sister Anne McGrath knew years ago. The cold blade against her throat guarantees his bone-chilling threat: “Scream and you’ll die. You know why I’m here.” Silence is the only answer to her prayers.

Shall Not Be Forgiven

The shocking murder of a much-loved community saint draws the attention of Seattle Mirror reporter Jason Wade. But it’s his father’s demons that tell Jason more than the police investigation — even if Detective Grace Garner wants to reveal everything…

Only Buried

Meanwhile a child is kidnapped by a vengeful killer bent on recovering what he feels is rightfully his. But he may have murdered the one person who knew where the stolen money had been hidden. Question is: Was she a saint or a sinner?
Visit Rick Mofina's website.

"The History Book"

New from Grand Central Publishing: Humphrey Hawksley's The History Book.

About the book, from the publisher:

Kathleen 'Kat' Polinski — burglar, hacker, undercover agent — returns home from a deadly mission at the Kazakh Embassy in Washington, DC, to find a cryptic message from her sister. Soon after, she learns that her sister Suzy has been murdered — shot with a highpowered rifle in a desolate spot 100 miles outside of London.

What was Suzy doing there? Did it have anything to do with the controversial Project Peace? An international security agreement, Project Peace allows constant surveillance and loss of individual freedom in the name of stability and order. Kat must use every weapon at her disposal, from martial arts to computer hacking, to bring her sister's killer to justice. But in her search for answers, she discovers an increasingly plausible threat that could destroy the world as we know it....

From the first explosive chapter, you're hooked on this near-future thriller and Kat Polinski, its new-style heroine.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

"A Beautiful Blue Death"

New from St. Martin's Minotaur: A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch.

About the book, from the author's website:

When a maid in Mayfair drinks an exotic poison, is it suicide?

Or a case for Charles Lenox?

London, 1865. On a gray evening late in autumn, amateur detective Charles Lenox's closest friend needs help. A former servant of her house, Prudence Smith, is beautiful, a flirt, and dead. Was it an accident? A suicide? Or does the pile of gold in the house have something to do with it? As Lenox begins to uncover the truth another body falls at the most fashionable ball at the season, and the chase is on before the killer strikes again ... dangerously close to home.

"Merle's Door"

Published last month by Harcourt: Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog by Ted Kerasote.

About the book, from the publisher:

Merle and Ted found each other in the Utah desert. Merle was about ten months old, surviving on his own, and looking for someone to hang his heart on. Ted was forty-one, liked to write about animals, and had been searching for a pup whom he could shape into a companion. The training went both ways. Ted showed Merle how to live around wildlife, and Merle reshaped Ted’s ideas about the complexity of a dog’s mind by showing him how a dog’s intelligence could be expanded by allowing it to make more of its own decisions.

Acting as Merle’s translator, and using Merle’s life and lessons as a door into the world of dogs, Ted Kerasote takes us on the journey they shared. He explores why the dog-human bond is so intense and how people and dogs can communicate readily with each other. He also uses the latest wolf research — showing that wolves treat maturing pups as partners rather than as subordinates — to explain how sharing leadership with your dog, rather than being its alpha, can help to create a healthier, more self-reliant, and better-socialized companion.

Funny, fascinating, and tender, Merle’s Door is a moving love story that reveals how the partnership between dogs and humans can become far more than we have imagined.

"Bigger Deal"

Published in May by Simon & Schuster: Anthony Holden's Bigger Deal: A Year Inside the Poker Boom.

About the book, from the publisher:

In the years since Anthony Holden wrote his classic memoir Big Deal, the poker world has changed beyond recognition. When Holden played in the 1988 World Series of Poker there were 167 starters competing for a prize of $270,000. Since then, poker has become the world's largest single-competitor sport -- at the 2006 World Series there were almost 9,000 players and a first prize of $12 million, the richest in any sport.

What happened in the years between Big Deal and Bigger Deal could never have been predicted: the Internet and television sparked a worldwide explosion in the popularity of poker, one that shows no sign of abating. Poker even has a respectable image these days, much to the disgust of die-hard players. Gone are the seedy rooms of the Horseshoe -- you can't even smoke at the table! -- and you're more likely to find yourself head to head with a film star than an ex-con in Las Vegas.

With the future of online poker now legally endangered in the United States, Holden's vision of the poker boom comes at a critical moment in the game's history. In Bigger Deal, Holden is your guide to the world of the "new" poker -- to the players who dominate the modern game and the personalities behind the multibillion-dollar business it has become -- as he tries once again to win the world title. After all, as Telly Savalas once reminded Holden, a million dollars is never irrelevant. Not to mention twelve...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

"Old Wounds"

New from Bantam Dell: Vicki Lane's Old Wounds.

About the book, from the publisher:

Elizabeth Goodweather knows what it’s like to be an outsider, to keep secrets and nurse wounds. But Elizabeth raised a family in these mist-shrouded North Carolina hills and is deeply settled on her small farm — even finding the space to let a new man into her life. Everything changes when her daughter Rosemary returns home, determined to solve a nineteen-year-old riddle: the mysterious disappearance of her best friend, Maythorn Mullins, when the girls were just ten.

Soon Elizabeth and her daughter are prying into the strange history of the Mullins family, confronting a complex thicket of relationships and exploring a realm of magic and Cherokee legend that Maythorn shared secretly with Rosemary.

But most of all, they will discover that behind a child’s disappearance was something more evil and far closer than they ever imagined....
Visit Vicki Lane's website.

Friday, August 10, 2007

"Lenin's Private War"

New from St. Martin's Press: Lenin's Private War: The Voyage of the Philosophy Steamer and the Exile of the Intelligentsia by Lesley Chamberlain.

About the book, from the publisher:

In 1922, Lenin personally drew up a list of some 160 ‘undesirable’ intellectuals – mostly philosophers, academics, scientists and journalists – to be deported from the new Soviet State. ‘We’re going to cleanse Russia once and for all’ he wrote to Stalin, whose job it was to oversee the deportation. Two ships sailed from Petrograd that autumn, taking Old Russia’s eminent men and their families away to what would become permanent exile in Berlin, Prague and Paris. Lesley Chamberlain creates a rich portrait of this chilling historical moment, evoked with immediacy through the journals, letters, and memoirs of the exiles.
Visit Lesley Chamberlain's website.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

"A Spy By Nature"

New this summer from St. Martins Press: A Spy By Nature by Charles Cumming.

About the book, from the publisher:

Alec Milius is young, smart, and ambitious. He also has a talent for deception. He is working in a dead-end job when a chance encounter leads him to MI6, the elite British Secret Intelligence Service, handing him an opportunity to play center-stage in a dangerous game of espionage.

In his new line of work, Alec finds that the difference between the truth and a lie can mean the difference between life and death — and he is having trouble telling them apart. Isolated and exposed, he must play a role in which the slightest glance or casual remark can seem heavy with unintended menace. Caught between British and American Intelligence, Alec finds himself threatened and alone, unable to confide in even his closest friend. His life as a spy begins to exact a terrible price, both on himself and on those around him.

Richly atmospheric and chillingly plausible, A Spy By Nature announces the arrival of British author Charles Cumming as heir apparent to masters like John le Carré and Len Deighton. A bestseller in England, it’s the gripping story of a young man driven by ruthless ambition who finds himself chasing not just success, but survival.

Visit the website of Charles Cumming.

"A Nail Through the Heart"

New from William Morrow: Timothy Hallinan's A Nail Through the Heart.

About the book, from the publisher:

Travel writer Poke Rafferty was good at looking for trouble –– so good that he made a little money writing a few offbeat travel guides for the young and terminally bored. But that was before Bangkok stole his heart. Now the expat American is happily playing family with Rose, the former go–go dancer he wants to marry, and with Miaow, the wary street child he wants to adopt. Yet just when everything is beginning to work out, trouble comes looking for Poke in the guise of good intentions. First he takes in Miaow's friend, a troubled and terrifying street urchin named Superman. Then he agrees to find a distraught Aussie woman's missing uncle –– and accept an old woman's generous payment to find a blackmailing theif. Soon, these three seemingly disparate events begin to overlap, pulling Poke deeper into dark, unfamiliar terrain. Gradually he realizes that he's been gliding across the surface of a culture he really doesn't understand –– and that what he doesn't know is about to hurt him and everyone he loves.

Beautifully crafted, relentlessly paced, A Nail Through the Heart is an exciting and enticing read that will leave readers hungry for more from the gifted Timothy Hallinan.
Visit Timothy Hallinan's website.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

"Embryo Culture"

New from Farrar Straus Giroux: Embryo Culture: Making Babies in the Twenty-First Century by Beth Kohl.

About the book, from the publisher:

“Injections + Appointments + Egg Retrieval + Embryo Transfer = Resources (Energy x Time x Emotion)”

That’s the equation that was projected onto the screen when Beth Kohl and her husband first showed up at the in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinic. “Good evening,” the program’s psychologist told the gathered infertile couples. “Before you begin your treatment, you should know that this program is emotionally and psychologically stressful.”

And how.

In this marvelously unconventional account of her struggles to bear children, Kohl leads the reader on an oh-so-up-close tour of fertilization in America, and the ways in which science and miracle, technology and faith, converge to create life in the twentyfirst century. Along the way, Kohl wrestles with a new world of medical ethics: Should she “selectively reduce” the number of embryos successfully implanted in the womb in order to prevent a potentially complicated pregnancy? How much genetic testing of fertilized eggs is too much? What is she supposed to do with the seven embryos left over from the IVF process?

When Andrew Solomon wrote The Noonday Demon, he opened the world of depression to readers as no writer had done before. And when Stephen L. Carter wrote Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby, many readers were forced to completely rethink race and prejudice. Kohl’s spirited and rich exploration of “embryo culture” will completely revise how we see modern motherhood.

"Indian Summer"

New from Henry Holt: Alex Von Tunzelmann's Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire.

About the book, from the publisher:

An extraordinary story of romance, history, and divided loyalties — set against the backdrop of one of the most dramatic events of the twentieth century

The stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, liberated 400 million people from the British Empire. With the loss of India, its greatest colony, Britain ceased to be a superpower, and its king ceased to sign himself Rex Imperator.

This defining moment of world history had been brought about by a handful of people. Among them were Jawaharlal Nehru, the fiery Indian prime minister; Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the leader of the new Islamic Republic of Pakistan; Mohandas Gandhi, the mystical figure who enthralled a nation; and Louis and Edwina Mountbatten, the glamorous but unlikely couple who had been dispatched to get Britain out of India. Within hours of the midnight chimes, their dreams of freedom and democracy would turn to chaos, bloodshed, and war.

Behind the scenes, a secret personal drama was also unfolding, as Edwina Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru began a passionate love affair. Their romance developed alongside Cold War conspiracies, the beginning of a terrible conflict in Kashmir, and an epic sweep of events that saw one million people killed and ten million dispossessed.

Steeped in the private papers and reflections of the participants, Indian Summer reveals, in vivid, exhilarating detail, how the actions of a few extraordinary people changed the lives of millions and determined the fate of nations.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


New this summer from Doubleday: David Anthony Durham's Acacia.

About the novel, from the author's website:

Leodan Akaran, ruler of the Known World, has inherited generations of apparent peace and prosperity, won ages ago by his ancestors. A widower of high intelligence, he presides over an empire called Acacia, after the idyllic island from which he rules. He dotes on his four children and hides from them the dark realities of traffic in drugs and human lives on which their prosperity depends. He hopes that he might change this, but powerful forces stand in his way. And then a deadly assassin sent from a race called the Mein, exiled long ago to an ice-locked stronghold in the frozen north, strikes at Leodan in the heart of Acacia while they unleash surprise attacks across the empire. On his deathbed, Leodan puts into play a plan to allow his children to escape, each to their separate destiny. And so his children begin a quest to avenge their father's death and restore the Acacian empire — this time on the basis of universal freedom.

Acacia is a thrilling work of literary imagination that creates an all-enveloping and mythic world that will carry readers away. It is a timeless tale of heroism and betrayal, of treachery and revenge, of primal wrongs and ultimate redemption. David Durham has reimagined the epic narrative for our time in a book that will surely mark his breakthrough to a wide audience.

"The World Without Us"

New from Thomas Dunne Books: Alan Weisman's The World Without Us.

About the book, from The World Without Us website:

In The World Without Us, Alan Weisman offers an utterly original approach to questions of humanity's impact on the planet: he asks us to envision our Earth, without us.

In this far-reaching narrative, Weisman explains how our massive infrastructure would collapse and finally vanish without human presence; what of our everyday stuff may become immortalized as fossils; how copper pipes and wiring would be crushed into mere seams of reddish rock; why some of our earliest buildings might be the last architecture left; and how plastic, bronze sculpture, radio waves, and some man-made molecules may be our most lasting gifts to the universe.

The World Without Us reveals how, just days after humans disappear, floods in New York's subways would start eroding the city's foundations, and how, as the world’s cities crumble, asphalt jungles give way to real ones. It describes the distinct ways that organic and chemically-treated farms would revert to wild, how billions more birds would flourish, and how cockroaches in unheated cities would perish without us. Drawing on the expertise of engineers, atmospheric scientists, art conservators, zoologists, oil refiners, marine biologists, astrophysicists, religious leaders from rabbis to the Dalai Lama, and paleontologists – who describe a pre-human world inhabited by megafauna like giant sloths that stood taller than mammoths – Weisman illustrates what the planet might be like today, if not for us.

From places already devoid of humans (a last fragment of primeval European forest; the Korean DMZ; Chernobyl), Weisman reveals Earth's tremendous capacity for self-healing. As he shows which human devastations are indelible, and which examples of our highest art and culture would endure longest, Weisman's narrative ultimately drives toward a radical but persuasive solution that doesn't depend on our demise. It is narrative nonfiction at its finest, and in posing an irresistible concept with both gravity and a highly-readable touch, it looks deeply at our effects on the planet in a way that no other book has.

Monday, August 6, 2007

"Dead Boys: Stories"

New this month from Little, Brown: Richard Lange's debut story collection, Dead Boys.

About the book, from the publisher:

These hard-hitting, deeply felt stories follow straight arrows and outlaws, have-it-alls and outcasts, as they take stock of their lives and missteps and struggle to rise above their turbulent pasts.

A salesman re-examines his tenuous relationship with his sister after she is brutally attacked. A house painter plans a new life for his family as he plots his last bank robbery. A drifter gets a chance at love when he delivers news of a barfly's death to the man's estranged daughter. A dissatisfied yuppie is oddly envious of his ex-con brother as they celebrate their first Christmas together.

Set in a Los Angeles depicted with aching clarity, Lange's stories are gritty, and his characters often less than perfect. Beneath their macho bravado, however, they are full of heart and heartbreak.

Visit Richard Lange's website.

"The Argument"

New this month from Penguin: Matt Bai's The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics.

About the book, from the publisher:

Drawing on remarkable access to myriad factions of the Democratic Party, The New York Times Magazine writer Matt Bai distills the party's future prospects and current dilemmas in this raucous and devastating account of the party's search for The Argument that fits the twenty-first century

Great political movements need more than a bunch of shared principles; they need an argument. The New Dealers had one. So did the Goldwater conservatives. So what's the progressive argument? What new path are Democrats urging us to choose in the era of Wal-Mart, Al Qaeda, and YouTube? Matt Bai seeks answers in The Argument, a book that brings you deep inside the turbulent, confusing new world of Democratic politics, where billionaires and bloggers are battling politicians and consultants over the future of a once-great party.

Beginning with the devastating election of 2004 and ending with an unexpected triumph in the 2006 congressional elections and the run-up to the 2008 campaign, Bai's book follows such memorable power brokers as Howard Dean, the billionaire George Soros, the union leader Andy Stern, the blogger Markos Moulitsas, and the leaders of as they vie for control of the new Democratic landscape. In the pages of The Argument, we are introduced to these activists not just as political figures but as fascinating and flawed characters-ordinary people motivated by ideology or ambition or even personal tragedy.

At stake is the future of the Democratic Party and, quite possibly, of American politics itself. At a time when assorted pundits offer their own prescriptions for Democratic success in the 2008 presidential election, Bai uses rich narrative and vivid portraits to illuminate the party's challenges. In scene after scene from around the country -- with union bosses in Chicago, with Dean in Alaska, with movie stars in Hollywood and financiers in New York -- Bai reveals a movement that is learning how to win again, even as it struggles to articulate a compelling argument for progressive government in a confusing new century.

Readers of The Argument will recognize the unsparing insight and gift for storytelling that have made Matt Bai one of the country's most widely read observers of the American political scene -- and its most trusted authority on the Democratic Party.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

"Femme Fatale"

New from William Morrow: Femme Fatale: Love, Lies, and the Unknown Life of Mata Hari by Pat Shipman.

About the book, from the publisher:

In 1917, the notorious Oriental dancer Mata Hari was arrested on the charge of espionage; less than one year later she was tried and executed — charged with the deaths of at least 50,000 gallant French soldiers. The mistress of many senior Allied officers and government officials, even the French minister of war, she had a sharp intellect and a golden tongue fluent in several languages; she also traveled widely throughout wartorn Europe, with seeming disregard for the political and strategic alliances and borders. But was she actually a spy? In this persuasive new biography, Pat Shipman explores the life and times of the mythic and deeply misunderstood dark-eyed siren to find the truth.

Her blissful Dutch childhood as Margaretha Zelle ended abruptly with her parents' emotionally scarring divorce and, shortly after, her mother's death. Shuttled off to reluctant relations, Margaretha impulsively married a much older man, who gave her syphilis (then incurable) and took her to the Dutch East Indies, where the unhappy marriage exploded into vicious hatred following the death of their oldest child. Fleeing her tragic marriage, she reinvented herself as Mata Hari, a scandalously sensual dancer with an Indies name and an Indies aura about her novel "artistic" dances.

Mata Hari's life reads like both an action-packed adventure tale and passionate, poignant romance. Shipman reveals new information about this beautiful, brilliant, and dangerous woman, tracing the web of connections between her professional and personal lives. Once called "an orchid in a field of dandelions," Mata Hari was one of a kind, a rich and multifaceted personality whose ambitions and talents propelled her breathtaking rise — and her tragic fall.

"Securing Japan"

Coming soon from Cornell University Press: Securing Japan: Tokyo's Grand Strategy and the Future of East Asia.

About the book, from the publisher:

For the past sixty years, the U.S. government has assumed that Japan's security policies would reinforce American interests in Asia. The political and military profile of Asia is changing rapidly, however. Korea's nuclear program, China's rise, and the relative decline of U.S. power have commanded strategic review in Tokyo just as these matters have in Washington. What is the next step for Japan's security policy? Will confluence with U.S. interests — and the alliance — survive intact? Will the policy be transformed? Or will Japan become more autonomous?

Richard J. Samuels demonstrates that over the last decade, a revisionist group of Japanese policymakers has consolidated power. The Koizumi government of the early 2000s took bold steps to position Japan's military to play a global security role. It left its successor, the Abe government, to further define and legitimate Japan's new grand strategy, a project well under way-and vigorously contested both at home and in the region.

Securing Japan begins by tracing the history of Japan's grand strategy — from the Meiji rulers, who recognized the intimate connection between economic success and military advance, to the Konoye consensus that led to Japan's defeat in World War II and the postwar compact with the United States. Samuels shows how the ideological connections across these wars and agreements help explain today's debate. He then explores Japan's recent strategic choices, arguing that Japan will ultimately strike a balance between national strength and national autonomy, a position that will allow it to exist securely without being either too dependent on the United States or too vulnerable to threats from China.

Samuels's insights into Japanese history, society, and politics have been honed over a distinguished career and enriched by interviews with policymakers and original archival research. Securing Japan is a definitive assessment of Japanese security policy and its implications for the future of East Asia.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

"The Rest of Her Life"

New this month from Hyperion: Laura Moriarty's The Rest of Her Life.

About the book, from the publisher:

In The Rest of Her Life, Laura Moriarty delivers a luminous, compassionate, and provocative look at how mothers and daughters with the best intentions can be blind to the harm they do to one another.

Leigh is the mother of high-achieving, popular high school senior Kara. Their relationship is already strained for reasons Leigh does not fully understand when, in a moment of carelessness, Kara makes a mistake that ends in tragedy -- the effects of which not only divide Leigh’s family, but polarize the entire community. We see the story from Leigh’s perspective, as she grapples with the hard reality of what her daughter has done and the devastating consequences her actions have on the family of another teenage girl in town, all while struggling to protect Kara in the face of rising public outcry.

Like the best works of Jane Hamilton, Jodi Picoult, and Alice Sebold, Laura Moriarty’s The Rest of Her Life is a novel of complex moral dilemma, filled with nuanced characters and a page-turning plot that makes readers ask themselves, “What would I do?”

Visit Laura Moriarty's website to read an excerpt from The Rest of Her Life.

"War in Darfur and the Search for Peace"

Coming soon from Harvard University Press: War in Darfur and the Search for Peace, edited by Alex de Waal.

About the book, from the publisher:

Friday, August 3, 2007

"Bearing the Body"

New from Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Ehud Havazelet's Bearing the Body.

About the book, from the publisher:

Growing up, Daniel seemed like a model son: a student activist blessed with easy charm and a fluid intelligence, who believed that he was heir to a better and brighter future. When that dream faded, he drifted from his family and into a rootless life, marked by wasted possibility.

Bearing the Body begins when Daniel’s younger brother, Nathan, a medical resident in Boston, learns that Daniel has died in San Francisco. The circumstances are unclear, and the police are involved. Nathan, who suffers from chronic anger and uncontrollable compulsions, travels to New York to inform their father, Sol, of Daniel’s death. Sol is an Auschwitz survivor who has spent most of his adult energy compiling an archive of the fates of Hitler’s victims. Due in part to this obsessive research, he has lost touch with his sons. He nevertheless decides to join Nathan on a trip to the West Coast, where both men hope to learn more about Daniel’s untimely death. In San Francisco they meet Abby and her son, Ben, who were Daniel’s companions in a life that his family never knew about or shared.

A moving study of isolation and its costs, Bearing the Body is a book about history and memory, about family and loss. Most of all, it is a book about the past, which, far from receding quietly, weighs ever more heavily on those who hope to leave it behind.

"Echo Objects"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Barbara Maria Stafford's Echo Objects: The Cognitive Work of Images.

About the book, from the publisher:

Barbara Stafford is at the forefront of a growing movement that calls for the humanities to confront the brain’s material realities. In Echo Objects she argues that humanists should seize upon the exciting neuroscientific discoveries that are illuminating the underpinnings of cultural objects. In turn, she contends, brain scientists could enrich their investigations of mental activity by incorporating phenomenological considerations — particularly the intricate ways that images focus intentional behavior and allow us to feel thought.

This, then, is a book for both sides of the aisle, a stunningly broad exploration of how complex images — or patterns that compress space and time — make visible the invisible ordering of human consciousness. Stafford demonstrates, for example, how the compound formats of emblems, symbols, collage, and electronic media reveal the brain’s grappling to construct mental objects that are redoubled by prior associations. On the other hand, she compellingly shows that findings in evolutionary biology and the neurosciences are providing profound opportunities for understanding aesthetic conundrums as old and deep-seated as the human urge to imitate, the mapping of inner space, and the role of narrative and nonnarrative representation.

As precise in her discussions of firing neurons as she is about the coordinating dynamics of image making, Stafford locates these major transdisciplinary issues at the intersection of art, science, philosophy, and technology. Ultimately, she makes an impassioned plea for a common purpose — for the acknowledgement that, at the most basic level, these separate projects belong to a single investigation.