Commodore: The Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt


Edward J. Renehan Jr. - 2007
    Renehan Jr. narrates the compelling life of Cornelius Vanderbilt: willful progenitor of modern American business. Vanderbilt made his initial fortune building ferry and cargo routes for sailing vessels. Then he moved into steamboats and railroads. With the New York Central, Vanderbilt established the nation's first major integrated rail system, linking New York with Boston, Montreal, Chicago, and St. Louis. At the same time, he played a key role in establishing New York as the financial center of the United States. When he died in 1877, Vanderbilt left a fortune that, in today's dollars, would dwarf that of even Bill Gates. Off Wall Street, Vanderbilt was a hard-drinking egotist and whoremonger devoid of manners or charity. He disinherited most of his numerous children and received an editorial rebuke from Mark Twain for his lack of public giving. Commodore sheds startling new light on many aspects of Vanderbilt's business and private life including, most notably, the revelation that advanced stage syphilis marred his last years. This is the definitive biography of a man whose influence on American life and commerce towers over all who followed him.

101 Secrets of the Freemasons: The Truth Behind the World's Most Mysterious Society


Barbara Karg - 2009
    Edgar Hoover to brilliant imaginer Walt Disney and bad boy of baseball Ty Cobb, Freemasons have influenced every aspect of American life. Yet this secret society remains as controversial and mysterious as ever. In this book, you'll learn the truth about: The power and meaning behind the symbols, rites, and rituals Alleged connections with Jack the Ripper, the KKK, and the Holy Grail Freemasons vs. the Nazis The centuries-long rivalry with the Catholic Church Freemasonry's growing influence here and abroad As the largest--and oldest--fraternal organization, the Freemasons will continue to shape the world we live in for the foreseeable future. With this tell-all guide, you'll unravel the mystery of this intriguing society--one secret at a time!

Huerfano: A Memoir of Life in the Counterculture


Roberta Price - 2004
    In the summer of 1969, Roberta Price, a recent college graduate, secured a grant to visit these communities and photograph them. When she and her lover David arrived at Libre in the Huerfano Valley of southern Colorado, they were so taken with what they found that they wanted to participate instead of observe. The following spring they married, dropped out of graduate school in upstate New York, packed their belongings into a 1947 Chrysler Windsor Coupe, and moved to Libre, leaving family and academia behind. Huerfano is Price's captivating memoir of the seven years she spent in the Huerfano ("Orphan") Valley when it was a petrie dish of countercultural experiments. She and David joined with fellow baby boomers in learning to mix cement, strip logs, weave rugs, tan leather, grow marijuana, build houses, fix cars, give birth, and make cheese, beer, and furniture as well as poetry, art, music, and love. They built a house around a boulder high on a ridge overlooking the valley and made ends meet by growing their own food, selling homemade goods, and hiring themselves out as day laborers. Over time their collective ranks swelled to more than three hundred, only to diminish again as, for many participants, the dream of a life of unbridled possibility gradually yielded to the hard realities of a life of voluntary poverty. Price tells her story with a clear, distinctive voice, documenting her experiences with photos as well as words. Placing her story in the larger context of the times, she describes her participation in the antiwar movement, the advent of the women's movement, and her encounters with such icons as Ken Kesey, Gary Snyder, Abbie Hoffman, Stewart Brand, Allen Ginsburg, and Baba Ram Dass. At once comic, poignant, and above all honest, Huerfano recaptures the sense of affirmation and experimentation that fueled the counterculture without lapsing into nostalgic sentimentality on the one hand or cynicism on the other.

Trumpocalypse: Restoring American Democracy


David Frum - 2020
    It’s no wonder they’d rather burn it all down. But the fire can be stopped by Americans who act now to protect their country and its democracy. President Trump has undermined America’s democratic traditions. At every step, he was aided by Republicans who have given up on winning power the democratic way. Polls have repeatedly shown that about a third of the electorate refuses to abandon Donald Trump, no matter what he does. Those voters aren’t looking for policy wins. They’re seeking cultural revenge.In Trumpocalypse, David Frum looks at the causes of our tragic national fragmentation and lays out a plan to restore a democracy at home—and renew American leadership abroad. It is not enough to defeat Donald Trump on election day 2020. Even if Trump peacefully departs office, the trauma he inflicted will distort American and world politics for years to come. Americans can do better. David Frum shows how—and inspires all readers of all points of view to believe again in the possibilities of American life. Trumpocalypse is both a warning of danger and a guide to reform that will be read and discussed for years to come.

INCONVENIENCE GONE: The Short Tragic Life Of Brandon Sims


Diane Marger Moore - 2018
    Jones was employed, confident, talented, smart, assertive and involved in many community activities in Indianapolis, Indiana. In contrast, when he was last seen, Brandon Sims, an only child, was a serious, quiet, thin boy who rarely maintained eye contact with his mother. After that night, he was never seen again. His body has never been found. For years Jones lied to her friends about Brandon, telling some that he was living with his father and others that he was staying with his grandmother in another state. When Brandon's father, who had been in jail, came looking for Brandon, Michelle's shocked friends confronted her. She confessed that Brandon was dead. She repeated her story of how Brandon died to a detective, after she admitted herself to the local psych unit. Days later she checked out of the unit and refused to reveal where he had hidden Brandon's body. She was sure she had gotten away with murder. And she would have except the detective didn't believe her story. He enlisted the help of a novice prosecutor because no experienced prosecutor would take the case. In Indiana, no one had ever been convicted of murder without a body. That prosecutor has written a book that reads like a mystery novel instead of the real murder prosecution. Truth is stranger than fiction where Santeria curses, the law and politics are only a few of obstacles to justice.

The House That Ruth Built: A New Stadium, the First Yankees Championship, and the Redemption of 1923


Robert Weintraub - 2011
    Before the 27 World Series titles -- before Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Derek Jeter -- the Yankees were New York's shadow franchise. They hadn't won a championship, and they didn't even have their own field, renting the Polo Grounds from their cross-town rivals the New York Giants. In 1921 and 1922, they lost to the Giants when it mattered most: in October. But in 1923, the Yankees played their first season on their own field, the newly-built, state of the art baseball palace in the Bronx called "the Yankee Stadium." The stadium was a gamble, erected in relative outerborough obscurity, and Babe Ruth was coming off the most disappointing season of his career, a season that saw his struggles on and off the field threaten his standing as a bona fide superstar. It only took Ruth two at-bats to signal a new era. He stepped up to the plate in the 1923 season opener and cracked a home run to deep right field, the first homer in his park, and a sign of what lay ahead. It was the initial blow in a season that saw the new stadium christened "The House That Ruth Built," signaled the triumph of the power game, and established the Yankees as New York's -- and the sport's -- team to beat. From that first home run of 1923 to the storybook World Series matchup that pitted the Yankees against their nemesis from across the Harlem River -- one so acrimonious that John McGraw forced his Giants to get to the Bronx in uniform rather than suit up at the Stadium -- Robert Weintraub vividly illuminates the singular year that built a classic stadium, catalyzed a franchise, cemented Ruth's legend, and forever changed the sport of baseball.

Bums: An Oral History of the Brooklyn Dodgers


Peter Golenbock - 1984
    Bums narrates the colorful history of this beloved team with recollections from the players, the writers who covered them, and fans.

The Chicago Cubs: Story of a Curse


Rich Cohen - 2017
    On the way out of the park, his father asked him to make a promise. “Promise me you will never be a Cubs fan. The Cubs do not win,” he explained, “and because of that, a Cubs fan will have a diminished life determined by low expectations. That team will screw up your life.” As a result, Cohen became not just a Cubs fan but one of the biggest Cubs fans in the world. In this book, he captures the story of the team, its players and crazy days. Billy Sunday and Ernie Banks, Three Finger Brown and Ryne Sandberg, Bill Buckner, the Bartman Ball, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo—the early dominance followed by a 107 year trek across the wilderness. It’s all here—not just what happened, but what it felt like and what it meant. He searches for the cause of the famous curse. Was it the billy goat, kicked out of Wrigley Field in Game 5 of the 1945 World Series, or does it go back further, to the very origins of the franchise? Driven mad with futility, he went on the road with the team in search of answers, interviewed great players present and past, researched in libraries but also in the bleachers, double-fisted, a frosty malt in each hand, demanding answers. He came to see the curse as a burden but also as a blessing. Cubs fans are unique, emissaries from a higher realm, warning of hubris and vanity. The blue cap with the red C said, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” He interviewed the architects of the 2016 Cubs, the team that broke the curse. Here’s what he asked: How the hell did you do it? He was at (almost) every game of the 2016 playoff run—a run that culminated in (maybe) the single greatest baseball game ever played. He was excited but also terrified. Losing is easy. What would it mean to win? Wearing a Yankees hat meant corporate excellence. Wearing a Mets hat meant miracles. But wearing a Cubs hat meant loving the game on its most humdrum afternoon—September 13, 1979, say, 14 games out of first place, Larry Bittner driving in Ivan DeJesus. Would we lose that? Would being a Cubs become ordinary? A mix of memoir, reporting, history and baseball theology, this book, forty years in the making, has never been written because it never could be—only with the 2016 World Series can the true arc of the story finally be understood.

I Never Knew That About New York


Christopher Winn - 2013
    Learn about the extraordinary people who built New York into one of the world's great cities in just 400 years. New York is one of the most photographed and talked about cities in the world but Winn unearths much that is unexpected and unremembered in this fast moving, ever changing metropolis where history is made on a daily basis!

The World in a City: Traveling the Globe Through the Neighborhoods of the New New York


Joseph Berger - 2007
    . . .”–from the PrefaceFifty years ago, New York City had only a handful of ethnic groups. Today, the whole world can be found within the city’s five boroughs–and celebrated New York Times reporter Joseph Berger sets out to discover it, bringing alive the sights, smells, tastes, and people of the globe while taking readers on an intimate tour of the world’s most cosmopolitan city. For urban enthusiasts and armchair explorers alike, The World in a City is a look at today’s polyglot and polychrome, cosmopolitan and culturally rich New York and the lessons it holds for the rest of the United States as immigration changes the face of the nation. With three out of five of the city’s residents either foreign-born or second-generation Americans, New York has become more than ever a collection of villages–virtually self-reliant hamlets, each exquisitely textured by its particular ethnicities, history, and politics. For the price of a subway ride, you can visit Ghana, the Philippines, Ecuador, Uzbekistan, and Bangladesh. As Berger shows us in this absorbing and enlightening tour, New York is an endlessly fascinating crossroads. Naturally, tears exist in this colorful social fabric: the controversy over Korean-language shop signs in tony Douglaston, Queens; the uneasy proximity of traditional cottages and new McMansions built by recently arrived Russian residents of Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn. Yet in spite of the tensions among neighbors, what Berger has found most miraculous about New York is how the city and its more than eight million denizens can adapt to–and even embrace–change like no other place on earth, from the former pushcart knish vendor on the Lower East Side who now caters to his customers via the Internet, to the recent émigrés from former Soviet republics to Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach and Midwood whose arrival saved New York’s furrier trade from certain extinction. Like the place it chronicles, The World in a City is an engaging hybrid. Blending elements of sociology, pop culture, and travel writing, this is the rare book that enlightens readers while imbuing them with the hope that even in this increasingly fractious and polarized world, we can indeed co-exist in harmony.

Charles Kuralt's America


Charles Kuralt - 1995
    With his well known warmth, humor and insight, he shows them to us now in "Charles Kuralt's America."From Montana in September and Alaska in June to winter in Cajun country and North Carolina mountains in spring, Kuralt's accounts are filled with people, stories and experiences. Suffused by a poet's love of language and rich in the spirit and flavor of this infinite and varied land, "Charles Kuralt's America" is, like its author, a national treasure.

Dangerous Hero: Corbyn’s Ruthless Plot for Power


Tom Bower - 2019
    Until his surprise election as leader of the Labour Party in 2015, this seemingly unelectable oddball had not been a major political player. Since then, Corbyn has survived coup attempts and accusations of incompetence that would have felled most politicians, including grave charges of anti-Semitism, bullying and not being the master of his brief. Despite these shortcomings, as the Conservatives rip themselves apart over Europe, he is likely soon to become Britain's prime minister. Yet this hero of the far left has done his best to conceal much of his past and personal life from public scrutiny. In this book, best-selling investigative biographer Tom Bower reveals hidden truths about Corbyn's character, the causes and organisations he espouses, and Britain's likely fate under the Marxist-Trotskyist society he has championed since the early 1970s. Based on eyewitness accounts from those who have known Corbyn throughout his life, the book asks whether a Labour government led by Corbyn would transform the country for the better. Has capitalism, as he argues, run its course, and would our lives be improved by socialism? If so, what is Corbyn's brand of socialism? The same as that experienced under successive Labour governments since 1945, or something more extreme? Will his advocacy of more debt, tax hikes and renationalisation reproduce the fate of Venezuela as championed by his own hero Hugo Chávez? Is he a reformer or a revolutionary? Will he deliver a glowing new era or catastrophe? His supporters damn every opponent and critic, calling them 'traitors' or worse. Does this aggression, and the accusations that paint Corbyn as an entrenched anti-Semite and misogynist, override his image as an authentic 'good bloke'? Many are excited by the prospect of Corbyn’s arrival in Downing Street. Others believe that Corbyn as prime minister will prove to be a dangerous hero.

Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football


Nicholas Dawidoff - 2013
    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 nonfans alike in a book about football that will forever change the way people watch and think about the sport.

Homeplace: A Southern Town, a Country Legend, and the Last Days of a Mountaintop Honky-Tonk


John Lingan - 2018
    When John Lingan first traveled there, it was to seek out Jim McCoy: local honky-tonk owner and the DJ who first gave airtime to a brassy-voiced singer known as Patsy Cline, setting her on a course for fame that outlasted her tragically short life. What Lingan found was a town in the midst of an identity crisis.   As the U.S. economy and American culture have transformed in recent decades, the ground under centuries-old social codes has shifted, throwing old folkways into chaos. Homeplace teases apart the tangle of class, race, and family origin that still defines the town, and illuminates questions that now dominate our national conversation—about how we move into the future without pretending our past doesn't exist, about what we salvage and what we leave behind. Lingan writes in “penetrating, soulful ways about the intersection between place and personality, individual and collective, spirit and song.”*   * Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams

The Gates of the Alamo


Stephen Harrigan - 2000
    The story unfolds with vivid immediacy and describes the pivotal battle from the perspective of the Mexican attackers as well as the American defenders. Filled with dramatic scenes, and abounding in fictional and historical personalities--among them James Bowie, David Crockett, William Travis, and General Santa Anna--The Gates of the Alamo enfolds us in history and, through its remarkable and passionate storytelling, allows us to participate at last in an American legend.