The Mannings: The Fall and Rise of a Football Family by Lars AndersonAccording to bestselling sports journalist Lars Anderson, one southern family made a tremendous impact on football history from the 1960s through the early 2000s. Archie Manning starred as quarterback for Ole Miss and also raised college and pro football stars Eli and Peyton, as well as their brother Cooper, whose playing was curtailed by physical limitations. In The Mannings, Anderson details each of their careers while bringing to life their personalities and highlighting their importance to the game of football. Fans familiar with Eli's and Peyton's contributions will appreciate reading this account and enjoy learning about their less famous brother and influential father.
Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest by Beth MacyIn 1899, the Muse brothers, two albino African-Americans, were taken from Truevine, Virginia and forced to perform degrading roles in a carnival sideshow for the next 28 years. Their mother spent those same years trying to get them back. In Truevine, award-winning journalist Beth Macy draws on meticulous research to recount their stories. Though the brothers were world-famous, their lives were defined by their skin color, and they were regarded as freaks. In this absorbing "colorful and thought-provoking" (Library Journal) history, Macy explores the moral implications of participation in carnivals by people from marginalized groups.
The True Believer: Stalin's Last American Spy by Kati MartonIn this fascinating and chilling biography, acclaimed journalist and author Kati Marton relates the life of Noel Field (1904-1970), a wealthy, Harvard-educated Quaker who worked for the U.S. Department of State while spying for Josef Stalin. A passionate Communist during the depths of the Great Depression, he passed American secrets to Soviet agents and later even betrayed some of his European Communist colleagues. Marton takes advantage of newly available KGB and CIA records, along with unpublished interviews with high-level participants in Cold War espionage, Field and his wife, and even Stalin. If you're interested in the Cold War, spies, or global 20th-century history, don't miss this thoroughly documented account that reads like spy fiction.
Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O'NeilIn Weapons of Math Destruction, a mathematics scholar who was once a quantitative analyst for a major Wall Street firm exposes the flaws in mathematical modeling. Although algorithms are supposed to remove bias from loan decisions, insurance rates, employee evaluations, and more, author Cathy O'Neil explains that algorithm formulas depend on the people who design them. Instead of being pure numbers, they perpetuate social prejudices and lock in human error. Arguing for increased scrutiny of the analysts who create the models and gather data (often inaccurately), O'Neil offers a "lucid and readable" (Kirkus Reviews) discussion of the perils of relying on math.
Wolf Boys: Two American Teenagers and Mexico's Most Dangerous Drug Cartel by Dan SlaterIn the early 2000s, Mexican drug cartels began extending their territory across the U.S. border, recruiting teenaged boys to steal cars, smuggle drugs, and even murder defectors from the gangs. Journalist Dan Slater provides a disturbing close-up of two of these boys, known as "lobos," or wolf boys, as he develops a compelling narrative of the war on drugs. He also profiles a determined DEA officer who investigates and arrests some of the "lobos," winning long prison sentences for several of them. While Wolf Boys will appeal generally to fans of true crime, it's also an informative and thought-provoking examination of the drug wars.
Focus on: Politics and Politicians
Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant by Tracy BormanLord Thomas Cromwell, made more visible to modern readers by Hilary Mantel's novels Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, was one of Henry VIII's most trusted advisers, until he was executed for supposedly trying to seize too much power. In this engaging biography, historian Tracy Borman vividly depicts a complex personality -- both a devoted family man and a manipulative power broker. Making use of primary and secondary sources, Borman relates Cromwell's life and analyzes the reasons for his fall from favor. Thomas Cromwell offers a well researched portrait that will please Mantel's fans and Tudor history buffs.
Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon MeachamIn this balanced, engaging biography, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham details Thomas Jefferson's genius for political networking to demonstrate the greatness of his achievements. Meacham places this inspiring figure in the context of his period as a leader in the American Revolution, the third President of the United States, and an advocate for scientific inquiry. Thomas Jefferson provides insight into his ambition as well as his willingness to use compromise to gain advantage in political and diplomatic contests. For additional views of Jefferson, try Annette Gordon-Reed's Most Blessed of the Patriarchs and Henry Wiencek's Master of the Mountain.
The Devils' Alliance: Hitler's Pact with Stalin, 1939-1941 by Roger MoorhouseWhile history more strongly recalls the bitter enmity between Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin, at the start of World War II they were allies. The Nazi-Soviet Nonagression Pact of August 1939 had a deadly impact on the rest of Europe, allowing Stalin to advance into the Baltic states and Finland without opposition while facilitating Hitler's policies of deportation and genocide. In The Devils' Alliance, historian Roger Moorhouse sharply defines the personalities involved in this political maneuver and the repressive systems it enabled in each country. Political theory buffs as well as those interested World War II will find this book compelling and thought-provoking.
Getting Away with Murder: Benazir Bhutto's Assassination and the Politics of Pakistan by Heraldo MuñozIn Getting Away with Murder, author Heraldo Muñoz analyzes the factionalism and upheaval that prevailed in Pakistan in 2007, when Benazir Bhutto returned from England to run against dictator Pervez Musharraf. On December 27, Bhutto was assassinated, leading to a year-long investigation by a United Nations commission. Muñoz, who led the search for the assassin's supporters, provides relevant details of Pakistan's history while insightfully depicting the Musharraf government's questionable actions, the military's role, and the country's growing instability. This is an informative and important book for those interested in the region's current politics.
Machiavelli: A Biography by Miles UngerNiccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) lived in Florence when the Medicis ruled, and he served in a diplomatic post until his dismissal in 1513. Hoping to obtain a new government position, he wrote a brief book on political practice, which he titled The Prince. The book backfired on him: it was condemned as blasphemous, and he was condemned for writing it (though it became a classic that people still read). In Machiavelli, historian Miles Unger provides an engaging account of Machiavelli's social and political context as he analyses Machiavelli's pragmatic advice and insightfully depicts his character and personality. This absorbing book offers much food for thought.
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