Jamie Vaught: Nonfiction titles for your winter reading list, just in time for holiday shopping

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The first of a two-part series

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“Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction” by Elizabeth Vargas (Grand Central Publishing, $27) chronicles her lifelong battle with anxiety before turning to alcohol and then recovery. The author is a well-known TV reporter for ABC network, serving as co-anchor of the popular 20/20 program. In 2014, Vargas made national news when she went on record with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s Good Morning America, saying she had been dealing with alcoholism. In the 243-page hardcover, Vargas, whose anxiety problem began at the age of six when her father was fighting during the Vietnam War, also writes about the struggles of being a working mother and primary breadwinner, and how she found herself at a crossword between devoting time to her family (including her two sons) and trying to rise through her TV career.

“Herbert Hoover: A Life” by Glen Jeansonne (New American Library, $28) is the first and only comprehensive biography of a misunderstood man who was the president during the 1920s. It has been said that Hoover ruined more lives and saved more lives than any person in human history. The 455-page book offers a surprising portrait of Hoover, recasting him from the chief architect of the Great Depression into the humanistic public servant that he really was.

“True Faith and Allegiance: A Story of Service and Sacrifice in War and Peace” by Alberto R. Gonzales (Thomas Nelson, $26.99) is a personal history about the former U.S. Attorney General and former Counsel to the President. A product of a working-class family in Texas, he grew up with his seven siblings in a two-bedroom home and eventually graduated from Harvard Law School. Gonzales offers his perspective on many issues facing the George W. Bush White House.  He is currently the Dean and a professor of law at Belmont University’s College of Law in Nashville.

• “Inside the Clinton White House: An Oral History” by Russell L. Riley (Oxford, $29.95) is an authoritative picture of the 42nd presidency during the 1990s as told by those who knew him best. Over 60 of Bill Clinton’s political advisors and appointees, including cabinet officials, recorded oral history interviews with scholars at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center. According to publisher’s news release, it’s the first time that the contents of those interviews have been published. Wife Hillary Clinton is also a central figure in the book. President Clinton once told the voters in 1992 that they could “buy one, get one free,” meaning that he and his wife came as a team.​​

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• “Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms” by Tim Tebow (Waterbrook, $25.00) is a powerful Christian book about 29-year-old Tebow’s journey of staying grounded in the face of disappointment, criticism and heavy media coverage. The former Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Florida shares stories about what he’s learned along the way, building confidence in his identity in God, not the world. He writes that the Lord has provided guidance for him through good and difficult times. His charity – Tim Tebow Foundation – was established in 2010 to care for the orphans and build hospitals. After his brief NFL career, Tebow, who was born in the Philippines, joined the SEC Network.

• “A Gift from Bob: How a Street Cat Helped One Man Learn the Meaning of Christmas” by James Bowen (Thomas Dunne, $14.99) is now available in paperback. A New York Times bestseller, it is a remarkable story between the author and a cat named Bob who was abandoned and rescued from the street. The author, a street musician in London, recalls the last Christmas when he had no money for food or warmth, and how the alley cat helped him to understand the true meaning of Christmas. The pair is now famous around the world.
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Alben Barkley

“Alben Barkley: A Life in Politics” by James K. Libbey (University Press of Kentucky, $39.95) is a full-length biography of an important U.S. political figure from Kentucky. Before becoming the vice president under President Harry Truman, Barkley was Kentucky’s U.S. Senator who also served as senate majority leader for nearly 10 years during the President Franklin Roosevelt administration. Born to poor tenant farmers in western Kentucky, Barkley died of massive heart attack during a speech in 1956. Interestingly, he was also related to General Douglas MacArthur by marriage.

“House of Nails: A Memoir of Life on the Edge” by Lenny Dykstra (William Morrow, $27.99) is a story about the former baseball star’s outrageous rise and spectacular fall. As you may recall, Dykstra played for the New York Mets, including the 1986 World Series-winning team, and Philadelphia Phillies. He also spent time in prison for bankruptcy fraud. In the 340-page hardcover, Dykstra listed several revelations, including the hiring of private investigators to follow umpires so he could blackmail them into preferential treatment and wild stories of drinking, drugs, and groupies, among others.

• “How’s Your Faith? An Unlikely Spiritual Journey” (Simon & Schuster, $16) by David Gregory is now available in paperback. Written by the former moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press and current political analyst at CNN, the 277-page volume is a part memoir that probes various religious traditions to better understand his own faith. Gregory has relatives living in Lexington, Ky.  Wrote the Washington Post, the book is “a thoughtful, introspective and moving account of Gregory’s life, family, and beliefs, including his struggles with his mother’s alcoholism, with interfaith marriage, with anger, with God. ….”

Final Battle

“His Final Battle: The Last Months of Franklin Roosevelt” by Joseph Lelyveld (Knopf, $30) is a portrait of the longest-serving U.S. president during the twilight of his political career. Written by a longtime reporter and editor at the New York Times, the 400-page hardcover is an insightful look at Roosevelt’s final months. Wrote The New York Review of Books, “Splendid and richly detailed. …President Roosevelt won reelection in November, was inaugurated in January, and died in April, three months into his fourth term. After that came the cold war and atomic weapons and a new diplomatic policy called ‘mutual assured destruction.’ Lelyveld shows with clarity and shrewd judgment how it came about.”

“Trump Nation: The Art of Being the Donald” by Timothy L. O’Brien (Grand Central Publishing, $14.99) is an entertaining biography of president-elect Donald Trump that is now available in paperback for the first time in a decade. This reprint also includes a new introduction by the author, who was granted unprecedented access to Trump as he traveled with the celebrity businessman on his private jet and spent hours interviewing him in his home and in his office.

• “Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth – The Deals, the Downfall, the Deals” by Wayne Barrett (Regan Arts, $17.99) is another paperback – 476 pages — that has been reprinted for the first time since 1992. The author, who covered New York City politics for nearly 40 years, unravels the myth and reveals the truth behind Donald Trump’s wheelings and dealings.

• “Our Revolution” by Bernie Sanders (Thomas Dunn Books, $27) is a personal story about the author’s remarkable race for the presidency, recounting the details of his surprising primary fight with Hillary Clinton and her political machine, and the people who made it possible with little money and no political organization to begin with. In the 450-page hardcover, the U.S. Senator from Vermont also outlines a progressive economic, environmental, racial, and social justice agenda that will create jobs, raise wages, protect environment, and provide health for all. While the presidential campaign has ended, the 75-year-old independent continues to build on the political revolution that he began for the American people, fighting against the corporate world and the wealthy.

“Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant” (Little, Brown and Company, $32) by Roland Lazenby is a revealing biography about one of NBA’s most fascinating characters who worked to be the greatest of all time from a young age. The 626-page volume looks at the complicated life of recently-retired superstar who was drafted into the NBA at the age of 17. Bryant played all of his 20 pro years with the Los Angeles Lakers, setting an NBA record for the most seasons played with one franchise for an entire career. The best-selling author also has written highly-regarded biographies of basketball legends Michael Jordan and Jerry West in recent years.

“Bridging the Soft Skills Gap: How to Teach the Missing Basics to Today’s Young Talent” by Bruce Tulgan (Jossey-Bass, $26.95) is a useful book — actually published last year — that deals with today’s young workforce who have the technical skills for their job but don’t have the proper basic skills such as people skills, communication skills, attitude, common sense, among others. Based on more than 20 years of research, the author — an expert on the millennial workforce — provides suggestions or solutions to help managers teach the missing basics of professionalism, critical thinking, and followership.

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Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime columnist in Kentucky, is the author of four books about UK basketball. He is the editor of KySportsStyle.com online magazine and a professor at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Middlesboro. You can follow him on Twitter @KySportsStyle or reach him via e-mail at KySportsStyle@gmail.com.

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