Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category


Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

The Everything StoreMedia attention is focused on Brad Stone’s embargoed title, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, Brad Stone, (Hachette/ Little, Brown; Hachette Audio; Hachette Large Print), which arrives today.

The business press, including The Wall Street Journal, is focused on what the book says about Bezos’s management style, while more general magazines are fascinated by the fact that Stone managed to track down Bezos’s biological father.

Stone, senior editor at Bloomsberg Businessweek appeared on NPR yesterday and on CBS This Morning. Opinions of Bezos are divided, and Stone is one of his fans. As a review in The Seattle Times notes, “There clearly are Amazon critics who would love the definitive chronicle of Bezos and the company he built to knock both down a few pegs. This isn’t that book,” and goes on to say, “It’s a deeply reported and deftly written book revealing how Amazon is a reflection of the drive of its founder.”

Reuters headline, portrays it differently, “Why It Pays to Be a Jerk Like Jeff Bezos.”

Below is the video from CBS This Morning:

Did They Or Didn’t They?

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Johnny CarsonThe tabloids are abuzz with a leaked story from an embargoed bio of Johnny Carson written by his longtime lawyer and close friend, Henry Bushkin. Titled simply Johnny Carson, (HMH; Brilliance Audio), the book will be published on Monday

Amazingly, it seems to still matter whether Carson’s second wife had an affair in the early 1970’s with  sportscaster Frank Gifford. His wife, Kathie Lee used some of her time on the Today Show yesterday to deny the story while also saying that when she asked her husband, now 86, he replied, “I don’t remember.” Joanna Carson, now 81, on the other hand, is certain it never happened.


Sunday, August 25th, 2013

9781476744834Several news sources, including today’s New York Times, reveal that an embargoed biography of J.D. Salinger claims there are at least five more books in the author’s vault, and that Salinger left instructions to begin publishing them in 2015.

The assertions are in the 720-page Salinger by David Shields and Shane Salerno (S&S; S&S Audio), which is being published on Sept. 3. A related documentary, also titled Salinger, directed by Salerno, will be released a few days later and will be featured in January on American Masters on PBS.

Speaking for the estate, the author’s son refused to comment for the story.

As a result of the coverage, the book rose on Amazon ales rankings to #156, from #2,614.

Below is the trailer for the documentary, More details on the book are in a story in The Guardian.


Monday, July 15th, 2013

9780316548182A biopic about Nelson Mandela, based on his 1994  memoir, Long Walk to Freedom
will debut in an Oscar-qualifying limited release in the U.S. on November 29.

The first UK teaser trailer is below (it lists UK release date of January).

Idris Elba plays Mandela and Naomie Harris his former wife, Winnie.


Long Walk to Freedom : The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
Hachette/Back Bay
On Sale Date: October 8, 2013
9780316323543, 0316323543
Trade Paperback; $18.00 US / $20.00 Can.
Hachette Audio
$30.00 US / $33.00 Can.

Chronicle is also releasing a book about the film:
Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedo : The Book of the Film
Nelson Mandela, Keith Bernstein
Chronicle Books
On Sale Date: November 26, 2013
9781452128412, 1452128413
Hardback; $35.00 US

Cory Doctorow Loves THE BOY WHO LOVED MATH

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

The Boy Who Loved MathA picture book that celebrates the joys of math, released  today, is rising on Amazon after Cory Doctorow gave it a rave on Boing Boing. Praising The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman, with illustrations by LeUyen Pham (Roaring Brook) about the eccentric Hungarian math genius, Doctorow says it uses “numbers and mathematics through the text, with lively, fun illustrations of a young Erdős learning about negative numbers, becoming obsessed with prime numbers and leading his high-school chums on a mathematical tour of Budapest.” The ultimate accolade? His five-year-old daughter, “demanded that I read it to her three times in a row,” (spreads are available on the Boing Boing site)

JOBS Opens August 16

Monday, June 24th, 2013

The first trailer for the biopic JOBS, starring Ashton Kutcher was just released. Originally scheduled for April, it is now opening on Aug. 16. In addition to Kutcher as Steve Jobs, it stars Dermot Mulroney (as Mike Markkula, who supplied key funding for Apple’s startup), Josh Gad (Steve Wozniak), and Matthew Modine (John Scully).

Steve Jobs  Featured6

Even though it’s likely to bring renewed attention to Walter Isaacson’s best selling bio, Steve Jobs (S&S), it is not based on it or any other book. At one time there were two Jobs biopics in development. Sony was working on an adaptation of the book, with Aaron Sorkin writing the script. No news has emerged about that project since Sorkin mentioned it briefly in January. Last week, he told Vanity Fair that he is at work on a Broadway play but made no mention of the film.

Isaacson’s book will be released in paperback on Sept. 9, nearly two years after the hardcover. It featured an image of the older Jobs, the paperback uses a photo of him as a young man, looking so much like Kutcher that some might confuse it for a tie-in.

Michael Douglas As Liberace

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

In case you’ve had trouble imagining Michael Douglas as Liberace, below is a glimpse via the first trailer for HBO’s biopic about the entertainer, Behind the Candelabra.

Premiering on HBO on May 26th, it also stars Matt Damon as Liberace’s lover, Scott Thorson. It is based on Thorson’s 1988 memoir, Behind the Candelabra: My Life With Liberace, which is being re-released by Tantor Audio in print, as well as audio and ebook on May 2.

By and About the New Pope

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

LIFE Pope Francis

The new pope is getting the Life pictorial treatment in Pope Francis: The Vicar of Christ, From Saint Peter to Today, (Hachette/Life). A paperback book/magazine edition appears on newsstands this week, with the hardcover releasing on April 16.

A book by the new Pope, previously published in Spanish in 2010, will be released in English on May 7. On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family, and the Church in the Twenty-First Century, (RH/Crown/Image Books) is a record of conversations between the then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Rabbi Abraham Skorka, Rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary in Buenos Aires. According to the Random House press release, the two religious leaders address “such topics as God, fundamentalism, atheism, the Holocaust, abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, and globalization.”

It will be released simultaneously in print, digital, large print and audio formats. The original Spanish-language version, Sobre el Cielo y la Terra will be published in North America in both trade paperback and eBook by RH/Vintage Espanol.

Also coming from the Image imprint of Random House is a book by Robert Moynihan, the founder of Inside the Vatican magazine, Pray for Me: The Life and Spiritual Vision of Pope Francis, First Pope from the Americas.


Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

UnbrokenAngelina Jolie lands her second role as director (after Blood and Honey) for the adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand’s long running best seller, Unbroken (Random House, 2010), reports

Amazingly, a film about Unbroken‘s subject, Louis Zamperini, who survived 47 days on a life raft in the Pacific during WWII, has been in the works for 55 years, long before Hillenbrand began working on her book. Universal bought Zamperini’s “life rights” in the 1950’s, with plans to star Tony Curtis.

The film is supposed to begin production next year.

Zamperini will be 96 years old in January.

Hillenbrand’s earlier book, Seabiscuit, (Random House, 2001), was made into a successful movie.


Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Just KidsPatti Smith announces that she plans to publish a sequel to her best selling memoir and National Book Award winner, Just Kids (Harper/Ecco, 2010).

She tells Billboard that it will cover the same period as the first book, but with a different perspective. Just Kids focused on her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. This one will focus more on her music and her late husband, Fred Smith, the MC 5 guitarist.

No title or release date has been announced.


Monday, November 26th, 2012

Pulitzer Prize winner Jon Meacham’s new book, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, (Random House, RH Audio and BOT, RH Large Print)  is rising on Amazon’s sales rankings, where it is now at #2, and in the number of holds in libraries.

It has been reviewed widely (in both the daily NYT and the Sunday Book Review, as well as the Washington Post and Entertainment Weekly) and debuted on the 12/2 NYT Hardcover Nonfiction Best Seller list at #2.

The author appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Patraeus and His Biographer

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Last December, a biography of General David Petraeus, All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, by Paula Broadwell (Penguin, Jan. 23) made headlines because the author was regarded as implying that Petraeus nearly quit as the commander of troops in Afghanistan over Obama’s plans for a drawdown.

That inference was quickly denied. Several reports, including Fox News’, noted how adulatory the author was about her subject; “The book unapologetically casts Petraeus in the hero’s role” and Broadwell says “his critics fault him for ambition and self-promotion,” but “his energy, optimism and will to win stand out more for me.”

Jon Stewart speaks for many when he upbraids himself on last night’s show for missing the real story.

New Title Radar: November 5 – 11

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Big names in fiction returning next week include Barbara Kingsolver, Ellen Hopkins and Caleb Carr, along with notable novels by Lydia Millet, Whitney Otto and James Kimmel. The final volume of William Manchester‘s Churchill bio also arrives, written posthumously by Paul Reid, while Larry McMurtry weighs in on General Custer, Sean Carroll explores a new landmark in physics, and Oliver Sacks explores hallucinations.

Watch List

Magnificence by Lydia Millet (Norton; Dreamscape Audio; Center Point Large Print) concludes the trilogy that began with How the Dead Dream (2008) and Ghost Lights (2011). This one is the story of a woman who comes to terms with her life and adulterous affairs when she suddenly becomes a widow. Kirkus says, “The deeply honest, beautiful meditations on love, grief and guilt give way to a curlicued comic-romantic mystery complete with a secret basement and assorted eccentrics.”  The response on GalleyChat was unmitigated; “Magnificence was magnificent. What an amazing writer. Love her unsentimental style.”

Eight Girls Taking Pictures by Whitney Otto (S&S/Scribner; Thorndike Large Print) fictionalizes the lives of eight women photographers as they intersect – including icons like Imogen Cunningham, Lee Miller and Sally Mann, as well as lesser known figures. By the author of How to Make an American Quilt, it was a BEA librarians’ Shout ‘n’ Share Pick. Kirkus says, “although overly schematic, Otto makes these eight women and the differing lenses through which they view the 20th century hard to forget.”

The Trial of Fallen Angels by James Kimmel, Jr. (Penguin/Amy Einhorn; Dreamscape Audio) is a debut novel about an ace lawyer who dies and becomes a defender of the souls of the dead on Judgement Day. Early reviews are mixed: Kirkus says it’s heavy on the spiritualism side, but still intriguing. PW says it fails as a page-turner, but Booklist gives it a starred review, calling it fascinating.

Returning Favorites

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper; HarperAudio; HarperLuxe) may be the first novel about the effects of climate change. It arrives with uncanny timing, the week after Hurricane Sandy. In this instance, the evidence is dramatic but not devastating. A vast flock of monarch butterflies descends on a Bible Belt community in what seems like a religious miracle, but turns out to be a more disquieting displacement. It’s a People Pick in the magazine this week, with 4 of 4 stars. Says the reviewer, Kingsolver, “brings the complexities of climate change to her characters’ doorstep, illustrating with rich compassion how they … must find their new place on shifting ground.”  The author’s previous, The Lacuna, was a best seller and won the Orange Prize.

Collateral by Ellen Hopkins (S&S; Atria) is the second adult novel by this YA author, about two best friends and the military men they love, and are separated from, written in the author’s signature poetic verse style. PW says, ” clear narrative that is uplifting and heartbreaking, but also familiar and a little too easy, featuring characters grappling with the serious issues of our time.”

The Legend of Broken by Caleb Carr (Random House; S&S Audio) finds the author of the Alienist turning his sights on the medieval era, where invaders and internal tensions roil a fortress. LJ has a wait-and-see attitude toward this one’s commercial prospects.


Infinity Ring Book 2: Divide and Conquer by Carrie Ryan (Scholastic) is the second in a middle grade series about two fifth-grader geniuses who live in an alternate universe and travel back in time to fix various “breaks” in history. Like the 39-Clues, this planned seven-volume series, with six authors, was devised in-house at Scholastic and comes with links to an interactive Web Site. The titles will be released in quick succession, with this one arriving just three months after the first, Infinity Ring Book 1: A Mutiny in Time, by the Maze Runner’s James Dashner. Rick Riordan, who wrote the prototype, 39-Clues, was given the unenviable task of reviewing Book 1 for the the NYT Book Review. His reaction was mixed, concluding that it is, “vivid, intriguing, not fully realized but hinting at a larger story that feels right.” This second volume is by the author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Kirkus, the only source to review it so far, doesn’t buy it, saying, “It’s hard to go wrong with Vikings. But if you asked a classroom full of students to write about a Viking and a time machine, most of them would come up with something more inventive.”


The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940–1965 by William Manchester and Paul Reid (Hachette/Little, Brown; Blackstone Audio) is the final volume in this biographical trilogy. The New York Times Magazine heralds it this Sunday by calling its release, “one of the longest waits in publishing history” and explains how the little-known Paul Reid, who had never written a book before, ended up tackling this project, based on Manchester’s sketchy and often illegible notes. It ended up taking so long that Reid was forced to sell his house, use up his savings and live on credit cards. It may have been worth it. Says the NYT Magazine, it is “more of a stand-alone book than a continuation of the first and second volumes.” PW says it “matches the outstanding quality of biographers such as Robert Caro and Edmund Morris.” 200,000 copies.

Custer by Larry McMurtry (Simon & Schuster) is not quite a biography, more of an “informed commentary” on one of American history’s great military blunderers by this respected novelist, according to Kirkus, which also calls it “distilled perceptions of a lifetime of study, beautifully illustrated.” USA Today puts it simply, “This ‘Custer’ cuts through all the Bull.”

The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World by Sean Carroll (RH/Dutton) is the story of how science history was made with the search for the Higgs Boson, part of the Higgs field that gives atomic particles their mass – finally discovered earlier this year. PW says, “whether explaining complex physics like field theory and symmetry or the workings of particle accelerators, Carrollas clarity and unbridled enthusiasm reveal the pure excitement of discovery as much as they illuminate the facts.” UPDATE: We jumped the gun; this title is actually coming out on Nov. 13.

Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks (RH/Knopf; RH Audio; BOT Audio) finds this bestselling neurologist revealing that hallucinations are actually normal aspects of human experience during illness or injury, intoxication or sensory deprivation, or simply falling asleep. Kirkus says, “A riveting look inside the human brain and its quirks.”


Movie Tie-Ins

The Hobbit (Movie Tie-In) by J.R.R. Tolkien (HMH/Mariner trade pbk; RH/Del Rey mass market) are the tie-in editions of the novel. Also coming are various behind-the scenes books for both adults and children. For the full list, check our Upcoming Movies with Tie-ins).

Jack Reacher’s Rules, with introduction by Lee Child (RH/Delacorte) is a 160-page hardcover compilation of Reacher wisdom and lore; a single quote printed on each page. It arrives, as the publisher puts it, “just in time for [Reacher’s] first movie,” starring Tom Cruise, which lands in theaters on 12/21. It was a drop-in title that hasn’t been reviewed and thus, most libraries have not ordered it. Those that have it are showing holds (Hennepin County has 50 on 9 copies). The tie-in of One Shot, which the movie is based on, also arrives next week, in both mass market and large print.

New Title Radar: October 15 – 21

Friday, October 12th, 2012

As media attention on the election heats up, publishers are playing it safe with no-brainers, like the Rolling Stones 50, a tribute to the decades-old British rock band, and a home design book by talk show host Nate Berkus, or review-driven titles like historian Henry Wiencek’s new look at Thomas Jefferson and his slaves.  In fiction, Justin Cronin‘s followup to his blockbuster post-apocalyptic vampire novel is eagerly awaited, but is already disappointing a few reviewers. A title to watch is a cozy English novel about the Queen playing hooky. Usual suspects include Nelson DeMille, Iris Johansen, Patricia Cornwell and YA author P.C. Cast. Plus movie tie-ins to Twilight, Silver Linings and Spielberg’s Lincoln.

Watch List

Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn (HarperCollins; Dreamscape Audio) finds the bored Queen of England leaving the palace on a walkabout, in search of fun. It has been popular among librarians on our GalleyChat on Twitter, one of whom said, “It’s jam packed full with great Palace insider gossip and details. In the year of the Diamond Jubilee, royal watchers will eat this up! It’s fun and light.”

The Twelve by Justin Cronin (RH/Ballantine; BOT Audio;  Wheeler Large Print) is the second installment in the trilogy that began with the hit The Passage, a post-apocalyptic vampire novel by an author previously known for his quiet literary novels. This one is getting early press attention, including a profile in last week’s NYT Magazine. The L.A. Times warns, however, “even the most devoted fans may notice a bit of a sophomore slump.” The Washington Post‘s Ron Charles, says the previous title was “the scariest, most entertaining novel I’d read in a long time…Now, finally, comes the long-awaited second volume, and as much as it pains me to say it, The Twelve bites.” Entertainment Weekly is more generous, giving it a B+, even though it “doesn’t always match The Passage‘s dexterous storytelling and almost-plausible world creation…it’s still an unnerving and mostly satisfying tale of existential-threat disaster and its harrowing aftermath.”

Usual Suspects

The Panther by Nelson DeMille (Hachette/Grand Central; Hachette Audio; Hachette Large Print) finds Former NYPD detective John Corey and his FBI agent wife, Kate Mayfield, hunting a mastermind of the Al Qaeda attack on the USS Cole in 2000. Kirkus calls it, “quintessential DeMille: action-adventure flavored with double-dealing and covert conspiracy.”

Sleep No More by Iris Johansen (Macmillan/St. Martin’s; Thorndike Large Print) is the 14th Eve Duncan novel. This time the forensic sculptor, who has spent many novels investigating the disappearance of her daughter, discovers that she has a half-sister. PW says, “Series fans will be pleased to discover that Beth, like Eve, is a strong woman who has endured many trials in her past.”

The Bone Bed by Patricia Cornwell (Penguin/Putnam; Penguin Audio; Thorndike Large Print) finds forensic expert Kay Scarpetta digging into a case involving a missing paleontologist. LJ says, “Cornwell has been struggling lately; see what happens, and buy for her fans.”

Angel’s Ink: The Asylum Tales (Harper Voyager trade pbk original) marks the launch of The Asylum Tales, a new series by the New York Times bestselling author of the Dark Days novels. This one features a magical tattoo artist. An ebook-only short story (available on OverDrive), The Asylum Interviews: Trixie came out in September to whet appetites.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (S&S/Atria) has been big on GalleyChat. Some think it’s her best; “Family secrets, suspense. Another winner.” This week’s People magazine concurs, giving it 4 of 4 stars and saying,”Morton weaves an intriguing mystery, shifting between past and present and among fully realized characters harboring deep secrets.”

Young Adult

Hidden by P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast (St. Martin’s Griffin; Macmillan Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is the 10th installment in the House of Night series by this mother-daughter writing team.



The Rolling Stones 50 by The Rolling Stones with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood (Hyperion) commemorates the band’s long history and survival in photos. Kirkus says it’s a “soulless corporate birthday party that sheds no new light on its well-traveled subjects.”

Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves by Henry Wiencek (Macmillan/FSG ; HighBridge Audio) is the latest from the 1999 National Book Critics Circle Award winner for The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White. Here, Wiencek “deftly explores the economic calculus behind Jefferson’s gradual cooling toward emancipation and eventual acceptance of human capital as a great ‘investment opportunity,” according to LJ.

The Things That Matter by Nate Berkus (Speigel & Grau) is an illustrated guide to creating a home full of meaningful things, by the designer who got a push from Oprah and now has his own talk show.

Movie Tie-Ins

The Twilight Saga: The Complete Film Archive: Memories, Mementos, and Other Treasures from the Creative Team Behind the Beloved Motion Pictures ties into the November 16 release of (can you believe it?) the the last installment in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn, Part 2.

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick (Macmillan/FSG/Sarah Crichton Books) ties in to the movie to be released on November 21, starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DeNiro. It won the top prize at the Toronto Interntional Film Festival.

Team of RivalsLincoln Film Tie-in Edition by Doris Kearns Goodwin (S&S trade paperback; S&S audio tie-in) ties in to Stephen Spielberg’s Lincolnstarring Daniel Day Lewis. It opens in a limited run on November 9, releasing nationwide on November 16, and is based on the later sections of  Team of Rivals.

New Title Radar: October 8 – 14

Friday, October 5th, 2012

The excitement in the upcoming week is in nonfiction, starting with a new collection of Beatle John Lennon‘s private letters, a new Barbra Streisand bio by William J. Mann, and a biography of photographer Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan, along with a YA adaptation of Navy Seal Eric Greitens‘s bestselling memoir. Usual suspects include James Patterson (with Marshall Karp), Robert K. Morgan and the man known as the “Stephen King of children’s literature,” R L Stein, delivers his first adult horror novel (thanks for the correction; this is actually his second book for adults, after his 1995 title, Superstitious).


The John Lennon Letters by John Lennon, edited by Hunter Davies (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio) collects the beloved Beatles private letters to family, friends, strangers, and lovers from every point in his life, with annotations by Hunter Davies, author of  the authorized biography The Beatles (1968).


Hello, Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand by William J. Mann (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Thorndike Large Print) focuses on the singer’s breakthrough years in the Sixties, when she starred in Funny Girl on Broadway and recorded three platinum albums. PW says, “Combining extensive interviews (some anonymous) and exhaustive archival research, Mann balances intimate personal details with audience reactions and critical acclaim to etch an indelible portrait of the artist as a young woman.”

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Dreamscape Audio) is the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer’s account of 19th C portrait photographer Edward Curtis, who gave up a thriving career to chronicle more than 80 Native American tribes before their way of life disappeared. The result was Curtis’s classic 20-volume set, The North American Indian, which took 30 years to complete and left him divorced and destitute. Kirkus says, “Lucent prose illuminates a man obscured for years in history’s shadows.”

Jesus Today: Experience Hope Through His Prescence by Sarah Young (HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson) is the second book from the missionary and breakout author of Jesus Calling.

There Was a CountryA Personal History of Biafra by Chinua Achebe (Penguin Press; Penguin Audiobooks) blends political analysis, history, and personal reminiscences of the Nigerian civil war of 1967-70 in a coming of age memoir. The author best known for the novel Things Fall Apart, which has sold ten million copies worldwide since 1958. Kirkus says, “a powerful memoir/document of a terrible conflict and its toll on the people who endured it.”

Nonfiction – Young Adult

The Warrior’s Heart by Eric Greitens (HMH Young Readers) adapts the author’s bestseller The Heart and the Fist for teen readers, focusing on the youthful adventures that led him to become a humanitarian and a Navy SEAL. Kirkus says Greitens retraces his coming of age “with well-deserved pride but not self-aggrandizement,” and says it’s “as thought provoking as it is entertaining.”

Usual Suspects

NYPD Red by James Patterson and Marshall Karp (Hachette/Little, Brown; Little Brown Large Print; Hachette Audio) finds the NYPD on high alert when a deranged killer strikes a series of red carpet celebrity events.

Red Rain by R L Stein (S&S/Touchstone; Simon & Schuster Audio) is the first second adult horror novel by the bestselling author of the  Goosebumps and Fear Street series, involving a hurricane and psychopath. PW says it “fails to compel.”