Tuesday, September 16, 2014

In My TBR Stack:

After Lincoln: How the North Won the Civil War and Lost the Peace
A.J. Langguth
Simon and Schuster

From the publisher's website:

A brilliant evocation of the post-Civil War era by the acclaimed author of Patriots and Union 1812. After Lincoln tells the story of the Reconstruction, which set back black Americans and isolated the South for a century.

With Lincoln’s assassination, his “team of rivals,” in Doris Kearns Goodwin’s phrase, was left adrift. President Andrew Johnson, a former slave owner from Tennessee, was challenged by Northern Congressmen, Radical Republicans led by Thaddeus Stephens and Charles Sumner, who wanted to punish the defeated South. When Johnson’s policies placated the rebels at the expense of the black freed men, radicals in the House impeached him for trying to fire Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. Johnson was saved from removal by one vote in the Senate trial, presided over by Salmon Chase. Even William Seward, Lincoln’s closest ally in his cabinet, seemed to waver.

By the 1868 election, united Republicans nominated Ulysses Grant, Lincoln's winning Union general. The night of his victory, Grant lamented to his wife, “I’m afraid I’m elected.” His attempts to reconcile Southerners with the Union and to quash the rising Ku Klux Klan were undercut by post-war greed and corruption during his two terms.

Reconstruction died unofficially in 1887 when Republican Rutherford Hayes joined with the Democrats in a deal that removed the last federal troops from South Carolina and Louisiana. In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed a bill with protections first proposed in 1872 by the Radical Senator from Massachusetts, Charles Sumner.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sage's Blog Tour:

When All Balls Drop: The Upside of Losing Everything
Heidi Siefkas
Trade Paperback

When you reach bottom there is nowhere to go but up.  Heidi Siefkas personifies that lesson in WHEN ALL BALLS DROP.  Not long after discovering that her husband may have cheated on her, Siefkas has her neck broken by a falling tree limb.  

Many people would have just given up at that point, become a victim and dissolve into a puddle of human misery, but Heidi Siefkas took a different road. She attacked her life in all aspects:  mental, physical and spiritual. 

It would have been easy for her to sink into a morass of anger and spitefulness, but the book is full of delightful humor and just enough quirkiness to endear her to the reader.  You really pull for this lady. Empathetic readers will find joy in her triumphs.

Many of us have many balls in the air on a constant basis.  We struggle mightily to keep them aloft so as not to suffer the fate of the fool.  Heidi Siefkas shows us how to handle adversity with humor, candor, and most importantly resilience. 

I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys uplifting and honest memoirs and I look forward to the sequel.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

On My Radar:

Happiness: Ten Years of n+1
Faber & Faber
Trade Paperback

From the publisher's website:

“Ten years in, I still find the most re-readable writing—Coleridge’s old test was rereading—in n+1. There are only two things wrong with this assemblage. One, it’s not big enough. . . . Two, after ten years, this magazine remains too much of a damn secret.”
—Mary Karr, Introduction
Happiness, released on the occasion of n+1's tenth anniversary, collects the best of the magazine as selected by its editors. Intended to revive the leftist social criticism that was the hallmark of Dissent and Partisan Review, n+1 began as a fierce rejoinder to the consumerism and complacency of the Bush years. It hasn't slowed down since. 
Featuring founding editors Chad Harbach, Keith Gessen, Benjamin Kunkel, Marco Roth, and Mark Greif, as well as the essays that launched some of the most electric young writers working today, such as Elif Batuman, Emily Witt, and Kristen Dombek. 

Selected by the editors of n+1 magazine. 
With an introduction by Mary Karr. 
Published by Faber and Faber, Inc. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

On My Radar:

Collision Low Crossers: Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football
Nicholas Dawidoff
Little, Brown and Company / Back Bay Books
Trade Paperback

From the publisher's website:

An unrivaled portrait of day-to-day life in the NFL: "Riveting...An instant classic." -- New York Times Book Review

By spending a year with the New York Jets, Nicholas Dawidoff entered a mysterious and private world with its own rituals and language. Equal parts Paper Lion, Moneyball, Friday Night Lights, and The Office, this absorbing, funny, and vivid narrative gets to the heart of a massive and stressful collective endeavor.

Here is football in many faces: the polarizing, brilliant, and hilarious head coach; the general manager, whose job is to support (and suppress) the irrepressible coach; the defensive coaches and their in-house rivals, the offensive coaches; and of course the players. Wise safeties, brooding linebackers, high-strung cornerbacks, enthusiastic rookies, and a well-read nose tackle-they make up a strange and complex family. Dawidoff makes an emblematic NFL season come alive for fans and non-fans alike in a book about football that will forever change the way people watch and think about the sport.

Friday, September 12, 2014

In My TBR Stack:

Angry Optimist: The Life and Times of Jon Stewart
Lisa Rogak
Thomas Dunne Books

From the publisher's website:

Since his arrival at The Daily Show in 1999, Jon Stewart has become one of the major players in comedy as well as one of the most significant liberal voices in the media. In Angry Optimist, biographer Lisa Rogak charts his unlikely rise to stardom. She follows him from his early days growing up in New Jersey, through his years as a struggling standup comic in New York, and on to the short-lived but acclaimed The Jon Stewart Show. And she charts his humbling string of near-misses—passed over as a replacement for shows hosted by Conan O’Brien, Tom Snyder, and even the fictional Larry Sanders—before landing at a half-hour comedy show that at the time was still finding its footing amidst roiling internal drama.

Once there, Stewart transformed The Daily Show into one of the most influential news programs on television today. Drawing on interviews with current and former colleagues, Rogak reveals how things work—and sometimes don’t work—behind the scenes at The Daily Show, led by Jon Stewart, a comedian who has come to wield incredible power in American politics.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

On My Radar:

People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Despots, and Other Suburban Scourges
Jen Mann
Random House
Trade Paperback

From the publisher's website:

A debut collection of witty, biting essays laced with a surprising warmth, from Jen Mann, the writer behind the popular blog People I Want to Punch in the Throat
People I want to punch in the throat:
• anyone who feels the need to bling her washer and dryer
• humblebraggers
• people who treat their pets like children
Jen Mann doesn’t have a filter, which sometimes gets her in trouble with her neighbors, her fellow PTA moms, and that one woman who tried to sell her sex toys at a home shopping party. Known for her hilariously acerbic observations on her blog, People I Want to Punch in the Throat, Mann now brings her sharp wit to bear on suburban life, marriage, and motherhood in this laugh-out-loud collection of essays. From the politics of joining a play group, to the thrill of mothers’ night out at the gun range, to the rewards of your most meaningful relationship (the one you have with your cleaning lady), nothing is sacred or off-limits. So the next time you find yourself wearing fuzzy bunny pajamas in the school carpool line or accidentally stuck at a co-worker’s swingers party, just think, What would Jen Mann do? Or better yet, buy her book.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

In My TBR Stack:

Lincoln's Gamble: The Tumultuous Six Months That Gave America the Emancipation Proclamation and Changed the Course of the Civil War
Todd Brewster

From the publisher's website:

A brilliant, authoritative, and riveting account of the most critical six months in Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, when he penned the Emancipation Proclamation and changed the course of the Civil War.

On July 12, 1862, Abraham Lincoln spoke for the first time of his intention to free the slaves. On January 1, 1863, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, doing precisely that. In between, however, was perhaps the most tumultuous six months of his presidency, an episode during which the sixteenth president fought bitterly with his generals, disappointed his cabinet, and sank into painful bouts of clinical depression. Most surprising, the man who would be remembered as “The Great Emancipator” did not hold firm to his belief in emancipation. He agonized over the decision and was wracked by private doubts almost to the moment when he inked the decree that would change a nation.

Popular myth would have us believe that Lincoln did not suffer from such indecision, that he did what he did through moral resolve; that he had a commanding belief in equality, in the inevitable victory of right over wrong. He worked on drafts of the document for months, locking it in a drawer in the telegraph room of the War department. Ultimately Lincoln chose to act based on his political instincts and knowledge of the war. It was a great gamble, with the future of the Union, of slavery, and of the presidency itself hanging in the balance.

In this compelling narrative, Todd Brewster focuses on these critical six months to ask: was it through will or by accident, intention or coincidence, personal achievement or historical determinism that he freed the slaves? The clock is always ticking in these pages as Lincoln searches for the right moment to enact his proclamation and simultaneously turn the tide of war. Lincoln’s Gamble portrays the president as an imperfect man with an unshakable determination to save a country he believed in, even as the course of the Civil War remained unknown.