That they're different as day and night is unarguable, but the first two women appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court elevated one another, and the status of women in this country, immeasurably through their combined efforts. Sisters In Law: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World profiles O'Connor and Ginsburg, their struggles for acceptance in a field designed to exclude them and the cases they worked on that had the greatest impact.
David Maraniss didn’t set out to write a ghost story, but Once in a Great City, his glimmering portrait of Detroit, has a lingering, melancholy quality that will leave the reader thoroughly haunted.
In Paradise of the Pacific, Susanna Moore sees the history of the Hawaiian Islands as “a story of arrivals,” one that encompasses not only flora and fauna blown by the winds but early Polynesian travelers, explorers, missionaries and whalers.
Wait, we need a Brooklyn-based writer to guide us through the swamps, thickets and kudzu of Southern literary haunts? Not to worry—Margaret Eby may live in the borough, but she grew up in Alabama and is on familiar turf in South Toward Home, a highly readable literary tour of the region that gave us Faulkner, O’Connor and Lee (Harper, not Robert E.).
Call it the male answer to Eat, Pray, Love.
James Joyce once wished for an “ideal reader with an ideal case of insomnia”; a reader of Joyce Carol Oates similarly needs an ideal insomnia to plow through the 50-plus novels of this legendarily prolific writer. As it turns out, Oates herself suffers from insomnia, and has since she was a girl, using her night hours productively and well. Her new book, The Lost Landscape: A Writer’s Coming of Age, offers an exquisitely rendered glimpse of her own childhood in rural upstate New York.
Stuart Stevens grew up going to Ole Miss games with his father. In 1962, in the midst of tumultuous battles over civil rights on campus, Stevens and his father cheered the Rebels to a perfect season and a national championship. More than 50 years later, having just finished leading an exhausting and unsuccessful presidential campaign for Mitt Romney, Stevens “wakes up” and realizes that what he wants most in the world is one more season, “with my father and football and the Ole Miss Rebels.”
Negroland is not a geographic locale. It’s the name Margo Jefferson gives to the place, time and circumstances of her upbringing in the upper echelons of black society. Her memoir, which reads with the blast force of a prose poem, looks back with love and no small amount of anger at a life spent navigating the freedoms of class while flirting with, and occasionally skirting, the imposed limits of race.
No one writes about history like Judith Flanders. Reading her work (The Victorian City, Inside the Victorian Home) is like going back in time with an expert guide at your side. In her new book, The Making of Home, Flanders ventures beyond one city or time period to explore the political, religious, economic and social factors that led to the notions of home that still influence us today.
In his richly detailed and stimulating new book, Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman, historian Greg Grandin writes that Kissinger was “the quintessential American, his cast of mind perfectly molded to his place and time.”