A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Jamie’s Bookshelf: Twelve additional non-fiction selections to add to your winter reading list

By Jamie H. Vaught
KyForward Columnist

This is the second of a two-part series about the recently-published nonfiction books that you may enjoy reading this winter. 

• “Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life” by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush (Grand Central Publishing, $28) is a revealing hardcover about their lives as daughters and granddaughters of President George W. Bush and President George Herbert Walker Bush, respectively. They share personal stories about their family, their unexpected adventures, and their meaningful bond. 

• “Rogue Spooks: The Intelligence War on Donald Trump” by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann (All Points Books, $27.99) is an interesting 279-page hardcover that attempts to uncover the facts behind allegations of foreign meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The authors have questioned the motives of U.S. Intelligence agencies, members of the mainstream press and the liberal folks, adding the villains of the intelligence community are conducting a covert war against the Trump administration. Author Morris, as you may remember, was Bill Clinton’s political advisor for many years. 

• “Overload: Finding the Truth in Today’s Deluge of News” by Bob Schieffer with H. Andrew Schwartz (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, $24.95) provides an inside look at the changing role of media with over 40 interviews with media leaders. The author also explored the issue on whether the Americans today are more informed or just overwhelmed. A longtime TV reporter and a former host of CBS’ Face the Nation, Schieffer examines political journalism ranging from the explosion of fake news to the challenges of the 24-hour news cycle. 

• “The Year of the Pitcher: Bob Gibson, Denny McLain and the End of Baseball’s Golden Age” by Sridhar Pappu (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28) is an extraordinary story of the 1968 season which saw 185 shutouts in the National League and 154 in the American League. In addition, Don Drysdale of LA Dodgers threw 58.2 consecutive scoreless innings. “Hitters were lost, offense nonexistent,” wrote the author, who provided an in-depth look at the careers of pitching superstars Gibson and McLain. Both pitchers also faced each other in the 1968 World Series. 

• “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose” by Joe Biden (Flatiron Books, $27) is an emotional story of how family, friendship and hope can guide us through the pain of personal loss into the light of a new future. The author’s eldest son, as you may recall, passed away in 2015 after fighting a malignant brain tumor. “Promise me, Dad,” Beau hold his father, the U.S. Vice President at the time during a 2014 family Thanksgiving gathering. “Give me your word that no matter what happens, you’re going to be all right.” And the hardcover covers the year that followed, which would be the most difficult in Biden’s long political career. Biden served as VP in the Obama Administration from 2009 to 2017 after 36 years as a U.S. Senator from Delaware.  

• “Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Year” by David Litt (Ecco, $27.99) is a charming White House memoir. At age of 24, the author became one of the youngest speechwriters in White House history before rising to President Obama’s senior staff. The lead writer on four White House Correspondents’ Dinner presentations, he was responsible for some of President Obama’s most memorable comedic moments. Wrote author Mike Birbiglia of the 310-page book, “Funny and warm, David Litt knows how to make people laugh regardless of their political affiliation.” 

• “Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life” by Robert Dallek (Viking, $40) is the first single-volume biography of Roosevelt in a decade. The 692-page hardcover covers FDR’s career, highlighting the judgement and skills of one of the country’s most capable politicians. With today’s poison-filled political environment in Washington, D.C., in mind, the author — a Pulitzer Prize finalist — attempts to show that our political system can work and develop politicians who are deeply invested in national interests rather than personal ones as FDR was a unifier and consensus-maker.  

• “The Big Chair: The Smooth Hops and Bad Bounces from the Inside World of the Acclaimed Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager” by Ned Colletti with Joseph A. Reaves (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, $28) is an inspiring memoir of a poor kid from Chicago who made it to the top of the baseball profession with the behind-the-scenes stories. The 440-page hardcover looks at ups and downs of Colletti’s nine-year tenure as general manager of the Dodgers and he deserves some of the credit for LA’s latest success — a trip to the 2017 World Series — for developing many of the players such as Clayton Kershaw, Cory Seager, Cody Bellinger, Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner. 

• “Citizen Newt: The Making of a Reagan Conservative” by Craig Shirley (Nelson Books, $29.99) is an authorized biography about one of country’s most outspoken political figures. Gingrich is a former history professor who became the Speaker of the House and a presidential candidate. The 544-page hardcover includes untold stories from Gingrich and those who know him best — political allies and opponents, Washington insiders and political iconoclasts as well as Capitol Hill staffers and colleagues. Interestingly, the author writes that Gingrich, a Republican, never appeared at the George W. Bush White House, but was invited to the Obama White House. Shirley, the author, also has written four bestsellers about President Reagan. 

• “Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win” by Luke Harding (Vintage Books, $16.95) is a look at the accusations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The author, who is a foreign correspondent for United Kingdom-based The Guardian, brings the details of the Trump-Russia story together in one place for the first time. 

• “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House” by Donna Brazile (Hachette Books, $28) is a revealing volume containing never-before-reported details about the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee, among several revelations. The author, who was named interim DNC chair during the turmoil-filled summer of 2017, also mentioned there was pressure to replace Hillary Clinton as the Democratic party’s nominee after she collapsed at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City and subsequent health rumors. A graduate of LSU, Brazile once served as Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign manager.

• “A Girl’s A Gun: Poems” by Rachel Danielle Peterson (University Press of Kentucky, $19.95) is a collection of poems which present the coming-of-age story of a girl born in the Appalachian mountains of rural eastern Kentucky, tracing her journey into a wider world of experience. Born in Harlan County, the author is a contributing editor at Poets’ Quarterly. 

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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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