A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Jamie’s Bookshelf: A look at some recently-published nonfiction titles to help beat the heat this summer


By Jamie H. Vaught
KyForward Columnist

Here are some recently-published nonfiction books that you may want to consider to keep you entertained this summer.

• “For the Good of the Game: The Inside Story of the Surprising and Dramatic Transformation of Major League Baseball” by Bud Selig (William Morrow, $28.99) is an unprecedented look at modern baseball. The former Commissioner offers insight into how he worked with players, managers, owners and fans to bring much-needed change to the sport. The new hardcover is a part baseball story, part business saga, and part memoir.

• “Inside the Five-Sided Box: Lessons from a Lifetime of Leadership in the Pentagon” by Ash Carter (Dutton, $29) is a new book by former Secretary of Defense who served in the Obama Administration. A Rhodes scholar with a PhD in nuclear physics who held numerous jobs in the Department of Defense for 36 years, Carter provides an insider’s account of how U.S. military works and how it should work.

• “Small Fry” by Lisa Brennan-Jobs (Grove Press, $17) is a captivating memoir written by the daughter of artist Chrisann Brennan and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and this best-selling volume is now available in paperback. The author, who was born on a farm, discusses her childhood, growing up basically without her father in a rapidly changing Silicon Valley. When her relationship with her mother grew strained in high school, she decided to move in with her father, hoping he’d become the parent she’d always wanted him to be.

• “The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America” by Jim Acosta (Harper, $27.99) takes the readers behind the scenes, telling never-before-revealed stories of Trump White House’s rejection of truth, while laying out the stakes for how Trump’s hostility toward facts poses a threat to our democracy. The author is CNN’s chief White House correspondent who also covered President Obama.

• “The Real Deal: My Decade Fighting Battles and Winning Wars with Trump” by George A. Sorial and Damian Bates (Broadside Books, $28.99) is a 262-page hardcover about President Trump. The authors attempt to explain Trump’s business and political strategies in detail. The volume is written by two men who knew Trump well in the early days when Sorial was a major executive and attorney in the Trump Organization and Bates was a newspaper editor who covered Trump for years. Sorial learned from his boss how to use chaos, the media, and a single-minded focus to achieve things everyone else said were impossible.

• “The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty” by Susan Page (Twelve, $32.50) is the latest biography about the former First Lady. Written by USA Today’s chief Washington Bureau, the new 418-page volume includes Mrs. Bush’s full story with more than 100 interviews with her friends and family members as well as hours of conversations with the First Lady herself in the final six months of her life. Bush also discusses the evolution of her Republican party, on the role of women, on Donald Trump, and on her family’s legacy. She died in April 2018 in Houston.

• “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Her Mysterious Rise from Bartender to Congresswoman” by Peter D’Abrosca (Bombardier Books, $17) is an unauthorized biography about a young attractive woman from New York City who has taken the political scene by storm. The paperback offers never-before-published content and exclusive interviews, revealing new information on the life and times of America’s newest politician, a millennial socialist bent on imposing a radical and dangerous agenda.

• “The Presidents: Noted Historians Rank America’s Best–and Worst–Chief Executives” by Brian Lamb, Susan Swain and C-SPAN (Public Affairs, $32) is a very captivating look at our former Presidents. In addition to a complete ranking of our presidents, the 527-page hardcover — which is based on interviews held over the years with a variety of presidential biographers — is filled with stories and analyses that capture the character of the men who held the office. With the 2020 presidential election coming up, the volume provides perspective and criteria that may help us choose our next leader wisely.

• “The Size of Everything: A Memoir” by Erin Cole and Jenna McCarthy (Bella Luna Press, $17.95) is an inspiring story about a survivor who grew up on a steady diet of dysfunction, death, alcoholism and abuse before becoming a wildly successful designer and businesswoman. Cole’s childhood was unbelievably difficult as her divorced, working-class parents were financially strapped and distracted. She wore raggedy hand-me-downs and never saw a doctor. Supervision and emotional support were nonexistent. Food was scarce or inedible. Holes in the soles of her shoes, dismal birthdays and an empty belly were common. Despite her horrible childhood, Cole never lost her faith and her sense of humor as her life improved down the road.

“One of the most beautiful and mind-boggling things about Erin is her complete lack of self-pity,” said co-author Jenna McCarthy. “Never once does she portray herself as a victim. Somehow, she knew from an early age that she was destined to rise above her grim beginnings, and she never let anything steer her from that path. She is a remarkable and inspiring woman and I am honored to call her a dear friend.”

• “The Hill To Die On” by Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer (Crown, $28) is a new 420-page hardcover which tells the inside story of President Trump’s first two years in office as viewed from both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill. The authors — who write Politico Playbook which is considered No. 1 political newsletter — live and breathe the daily workings of Washington politics. They spend much of their time in the Capitol where they sit in the press galleries, observe the floor and talk with elected officials and their aides. It is a fascinating tale of power and politics.

• “Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level” by Leander Kahney (Portfolio, $27) is an inspiring story of how one man attempted to replace Apple icon Steve Jobs, who passed away in 2011, and somehow led Apple to remarkable success through strong, humane leadership, supply chain savvy, and a commitment to his values. From the stunning growth of the iPhone to lesser-known victories like the Apple Watch, Cook is leading Apple to a new era of success. An interesting tidbit from the 303-page hardcover reveals that Apple has $267.2 billion in cash reserves while the U.S. government only has $271 billion on hand. Kahney, the bestselling author who has written several books, has covered Apple for more than 12 years and had access with several Apple insiders to come up with the first-ever biography about Cook.

• “Mar-A-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump’s Presidential Power” by Laurence Leamer (Flatiron Books, $27.99) is a 290-page hardcover about the president and the exclusive Palm Beach, Fla., community where he has lived for 25 years. The author gives the readers access to Trump’s presidential palace and provides insight for understanding Trump’s inner character. ​​

• “Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump” by Rick Reilly (Hachette Books, $28) is a look at Donald Trump’s appalling behavior in the world of golf. President Trump, who loves playing golf, has claimed he’s a 3 handicap, almost never loses, and has won 18 club championships. But the author says nearly all of them are not true. Based on sportswriter Reilly’s own experiences with Trump as well as interviews with over 100 golf pros, amateurs, developers, and caddies, the readers will learn how Trump cheats and sometimes he has help from his caddies and Secret Service agents. For Trump, it’s always about winning. Reilly is a member of the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.

• “Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward” by Valerie Jarrett (Viking, $30) is an intimate biography that tells the stories of her extraordinary journey from her shy childhood in Iran to the White House and beyond. Jarrett, who was the longest-serving senior advisor to President Obama, also shares stories about her personal life as a single, working mother after divorce as well as the most stirring moments of the Obama presidency. A former deputy chief of staff for Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, she has a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.

• “In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy” by Frederic Martel (Bloomsbury Continum, $30) is a startling and revealing story of corruption and hypocrisy at the heart of the Vatican. The new 555-page hardcover is published in 20 countries and in eight languages, exposing a disturbing account of the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church today. The author, who has a PhD, is a French writer and researcher.

• “Mostly Sunny: How I Learned to Keep Smiling Through the Rainiest Days” by Janice Dean (Harper, $26.99) is a 245-page hardcover about a well-known meteorologist who shares her personal and professional setbacks while maintaining her infectious joy and optimism. Dean works for Fox News.

• “Point of View: A Fresh Look at Work, Faith, and Freedom” by celebrity Elisabeth Hasselbeck (WaterBrook, $23) is an illuminating book about her deeply intimate journey of faith after nearly two decades of broadcasting. Hasselbeck, through her career, learned the necessity of extracting the point of view of the person being interviewed on a particular topic or subject or experience. Doing so allows you to see issues and truths through another’s eyes. It requires a shift in perspective to see the story through their lens. The author served as a co-host of ABC’s The View for many years before joining Fox and Friends in 2013. Her husband, Tim Hasselbeck, is a former NFL quarterback who is an analyst for ESPN.

• “Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing” by Robert A. Caro (Knopf, $25) is a candid and revealing recollections about his experiences as a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author. The 207-page hardcover also includes the moments at which the author came to understand that he wanted to write not just about the men who wielded power but about the people and the politics that were shaped by that power. Caro, who is working on his fifth and final volume of “The Years of Lyndon B. Johnson,” received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama in 2010.

• “Truth in Our Times: Inside the Fight for Press Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts” by David E. McCraw (All Points Books, $28.99) is a 288-page volume about a leading newsroom attorney and his experiences during the most stormy era for journalism in generations. As Deputy General Counsel, the author has worked for The New York Times since 2002, leading the newspaper’s fight for freedom of information, defending it against libel suits and providing legal advice to the reporters breaking the biggest stories of the year. He is an adjunct professor at the NYU School of Law and a visiting lecturer at Harvard Law School.

• “After Life: My Journey from Incarceration to Freedom” by Alice Marie Johnson with Nancy French (Harper, $26.99) is a heartfelt memoir which shares her inspirational story and faith that helped her through it after Johnson was convicted for nonviolent drug trafficking in Memphis, Tenn. After serving 21 years, her life sentence was commuted by President Trump in 2018 with the help of Kim Kardashian West (who wrote a foreword for the book). Johnson is an ordained minister.

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