Almost 25 years after President George H.W. Bush left office, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham examines the life and career of a figure who seems almost “quaint” by today’s politically polarized standards.
The lives of musical greats continue to fascinate us, and this fall once again features biographies and memoirs of key players, from the producer credited with inventing rock ’n’ roll to a woman at the forefront of feminist rock.
The holidays can be a bit stressful, but luckily, laughter is an excellent stress reliever! So crack open one of the three books below and crack up around the Christmas tree.
Celebrity memoirs often have a predictable arc: I was born, and for a brief while I was much like you, eating cereal and riding bicycles, then (big famous thing) happened and now here I am, not much like you at all. These memoirs fill a need, because we want to know about the famous thing but also the steps that led to it, in hopes that we might trade our own cereal bowls for shrimp forks. By that metric, Mary-Louise Parker’s Dear Mr. You, a memoir written by an actress, is the farthest thing imaginable from a celebrity memoir. For this we can rejoice and be glad.
It’s been said that behind every great man, there’s a great woman, and that’s certainly the case with these three political wives and their well-known husbands. In fact, history might have turned out quite differently without them.
A lasting impression after reading Custer’s Trials is that George Armstrong Custer was a man who always seemed to be in the right place at the right time—until he died being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A.E. Hotchner’s Hemingway in Love is a poignant postscript to A Moveable Feast, particularly to Hemingway’s bittersweet last chapter. Hotchner, now 95, was Hemingway’s younger friend and Boswell, notebook at the ready, accompanying Papa to all the iconic haunts: Venice, Paris, Pamplona, Key West. He wrote a full biography of his mentor soon after Hemingway’s suicide. In this late memoir, Hotchner wants finally to give Hemingway his say about his one true love: Hadley, his first wife, the Paris wife.
Home Is Burning is perhaps the funniest book about dying I’ve ever read. Dan Marshall deftly chronicles the months he and his four younger siblings dealt with the terminal illness of not one but both of their parents. His beloved father, Bob, has held the family together for more than a decade while his mom, Debi, fights non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. So when Bob is diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), it’s a punch in the gut for a family already dealing with bad news.
In 2010, musician Patti Smith published Just Kids, a radiant memoir about her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and their lives as bohemian babes-in-the-woods in New York City. Set in the 1960s and ’70s, the story of their coming-of-age as artists—Smith’s first full-length work of prose—won the National Book Award. In her new memoir, M Train, Smith trades the circus atmosphere of the psychedelic era for the here and now, offering readers a remarkably intimate look at her life in New York City.
At 51, his days full of work and travel as an Emmy Award-winning correspondent for CNN, Tom Foreman relaxes in what free time he has. He ignores the added pounds and growing lethargy until the day his 18-year-old daughter asks, “Will you run a marathon with me?” Foreman is too loving a dad to say no, and way too far past his days as a competitive runner to rise easily to her challenge.