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Jamie Vaught: Tales of Baylor football scandal, Steve Bannon and Donald Trump head fall reading list


With the fall season upon us, here is a list of recently-published nonfiction books that you may enjoy reading in front of the fireplace. 

“Violated: Exposing Rape at Baylor University Amid College Football’s Sexual Assault Crisis” by ESPN investigative reporters Paula Lavigne and Mark Schlabach (Center Street, $27) is arguably the most comprehensive literary effort about the sport’s sexual assault to date, exposing the win-at-all-costs football culture that protects predators and encourages a destructive and unhealthy school environment.

The 355-page hardback is a painful story about the sexual crimes committed against women with the Baptist school trying to keep the dark affairs quiet for the past several years.

As it turned out, Baylor’s top officials, including the athletic director and head football coach, were forced out. The authors have covered this story for ESPN since the beginning of the allegations.

“Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency” by Joshua Green (Penguin Press, $27) is an inside story of the unusual partnership between combative and controversial personalities Bannon and Trump. (Bannon since has been dismissed from the White House). 

To understand Trump’s extraordinary rise, you need to go back and study Bannon — a right-wing Catholic whose Democratic parents adored John F. Kennedy — and his early years.

The 272-page hardcover is based on hundreds of interviews conducted over a six-year period and the author had access to Trump and many of his key players such as Bannon, Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, among others, during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“Chuck Noll: His Life’s Work” by Michael MacCambridge (University of Pittsburgh Press, $27.95) is a 504-page biography about the legendary football coach who led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl victories. It’s an intimate portrait of Noll that traces his journey from a childhood in Depression-era Cleveland through his playing career before he discovered his true calling as a coach.

Noll retired from coaching after the 1991 season and was elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993. He died in 2014.

“The Prisoner in His Palace: Saddam Hussein, His American Guards, and What History Leaves Unsaid” by Will Bardenwerper (Scribner, $26) is a strange, extraordinary story of 12 young soldiers who were deployed to Iraq in the summer of 2006 and they were unexpectedly assigned to guard Iraq’s fearsome leader. “….

We want to believe that Saddam Hussein was a monster, but reading this, you’ll learn that he was quite human – which is even more chilling,” wrote Karl Marlantes, author of “Matterhorn” and “What It is Like to Go to War.”

“Becoming Facebook: The 10 Challenges That Defined the Company That’s Disrupting the World” by Mike Hoefflinger (AMACOM, $24.95) is both an intimate story and hard-hitting case study which looks back at the people, products, business decisions and technology that pushed Facebook to greatness.

And it is written by a former Facebook insider who had a front-row seat to the company’s growing pains, stumbles and reinventions, sharing the true story of how Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg joined the ranks of iconic CEOs like Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos.

“Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History” by Katy Tur (Dey Street Books, $26.99) is a must-read, fascinating story of how the voters sent a former reality television show host to the White House. Tur covered Trump’s campaign for NBC for a year and a half in 40 states while making more than 3,800 live TV reports as she followed the future president, who has called her “disgraceful,” “third-rate” and “not nice.”

Trump, who simply didn’t like her reporting, once got a crowd so riled up against Tur and the Secret Service agents had to walk her to her car.

“The Schmuck in My Office: How to Deal Effectively with Difficult People at Work” by Jody Foster with Michelle Joy (St. Martin’s Press, $25.99) is a revealing look at different types of so-called unproductive workers or troublemakers, and offers suggestions on how to improve workplace atmosphere. The author attempts to help readers understand schmucks as people, figure out how to work with them, and solve workplace problems.

She evens makes readers consider the most difficult thing of all: despite where your finger may be pointing, sometimes you are the “schmuck!”

“The Unexpected President: The Life and Times of Chester A. Arthur” by Scott Greenberger (Da Capo Press, $28) is a new 304-page biography about a little-known U.S. president. Arthur became our country’s 21st president in 1881 when President James Garfield was shot to death. Arthur was a machine politician from New York City who was perceived as unfit to govern, not only by critics and his fellow citizens but by his own conscience.

But from the moment Arthur took over the White House, he proved to be not just honest but courageous, going up against the very forces that had controlled him for decades. He surprised everyone — and gained many enemies — when he took on corruption, civil rights for blacks, and issues of land for Native Americans. 

“Boss Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan to Take Charge of Your Career” by Nicole Lapin (Crown Business, $27) is a series of real stories from her own finance career and experiences starting businesses to show what it means to be a “boss” in 12 easy steps.

In her 382-page hardcover, the author explains that you don’t need employees to be a boss. You just need to be confident and ready to enter the business world and make your success happen. If you want to be an entrepreneur, the author lays out the nuts and bolts of how to be the boss of your own firm, including raising funds, hiring good staff and dealing with office drama. Lapin, who also wrote “Rich Bitch,” was an anchor at CNN and CNBC.

“The Destruction of Hillary Clinton” by Susan Bordo (Melville House, $24.99) is an insightful and in-depth look at Clinton and the stunning 2016 presidential election. Kentuckians may be interested to know the well-researched 244-page hardcover was written by a professor at the University of Kentucky.

A media critic, cultural historian and feminist scholar, Bordo teaches in the department of Gender and Women’s Studies. (By the way, as you may know, Clinton has written a memoir which was published in mid-September.)

“Strong for a Moment Like This: The Daily Devotions of Hillary Rodham Clinton” by Rev. Dr. Bill Shillady (Abingdon Press, $24.99) is no longer available for sale as the Nashville-based publisher pulled this book off the shelves in early September because of plagiarism. The author has apologized and asked for forgiveness. 

Anyhow, when I read the review copy, it was, indeed, an inspirational volume that included 365 of the more than 600 devotions written for former presidential candidate. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Clinton had received a devotion every day from the author and a small group of pastors, providing spiritual support. A pastoral friend of the Clinton family, Rev. Shillady serves as executive director of the United Methodist City Society in New York City. (Interestingly, you may want to read my e-mail interview below with the author in August when the book first was published.) 

“The Sales Survival Handbook” by Ken Kupchick (AMACOM, $17.95) is a humorous and serious look at one of the world’s oldest professions. The entertaining 194-page paperback is a nice companion for the challenging calling, and often crazy life, of a sales professional. The book, while humorous, offers useful tips, and dos and don’ts that sales can immediately put to use. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 14 million people in the sales profession.

“The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America’s Highest Office” by Jeremi Suri (Basic Books, $32) is an examination of the most important presidents in U.S. history while exploring the expansion of the presidency’s power. The author, who is a history professor at the University of Texas, says the Americans will have to accept that the presidency, in its current form, is a nearly impossible job. 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

I recently asked the author of now-abolished “Strong for a Moment Like This: The Daily Devotions of Hillary Rodham Clinton” a couple of questions about Mrs. Clinton. The Rev. Dr. Bill Shillady provided his comments or observations via e-mail several days after the book was published in mid-August.

As previously reported, the book is no longer available for sale at bookstores.

Question: As you know, politics is a brutal business. How helpful do you believe the daily devotions were to Hillary Clinton? 

Rev. Shillady: “Hillary often mentioned to me that these devotions were the first thing she read every morning and that they helped her to stay centered on the important values of her faith. She would often find that the Biblical themes provided support to the important concerns that our nation faces — dignity, love, justice and compassion.

“In the midst of the turbulent and difficult times, she was reminded that she is a cherished child of God and that her Lord walks with her and calms the winds and the waves. She says in the forward that these devotionals enriched her, enlightened her, lifted her up and pointed her in the right direction.”

Question: What do you say to the readers who may have a difficult time placing Hillary Clinton and devotions/religion in the same sentence (unlike Jimmy Carter and others)?
      
Rev. Shillady: “I am reminded that her critics will not look beyond the portrait that has been painted by those who dislike her.  I have received some awful emails and messages from the people of whom you speak.  There are very few people who have had such intense scrutiny of their lives. I don’t know how I can convince anyone whose mind is closed, but Hillary and I have spent time talking deeply about our faith and our United Methodist journey of discipleship.

“I know in my heart of hearts that her faith is deep and sincere, born from her early years at the First UM Church of Park Ridge in Illinois.  I have seen her living out that faith the way St. Francis described it, ‘Preach the gospel always and if you need to use words.’ She does not, like many United Methodists, wear her faith on her sleeve, she just practices doing all the good she can at all the times she can to all the people she can in all the ways she can. I know that she loves the Lord her God with all her heart, mind soul and strength, as she loves her fellow human beings.”

Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime columnist in Kentucky, is the author of four books about UK basketball. He is the editor of KySportsStyle.com 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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