It stars Jessica Chastain who wrote in an essay in The Hollywood Reporter‘s special “Women in Entertainment” issue, that although women make up only 20% of the crew of The Zookeeper’s Wife, that’s “way more” than any film she’s ever worked on. As a result, she said, “You don’t feel a hierarchy; you don’t have anyone feeling like they are being left out or bullied or humiliated.”
A trade paperback tie-in will be released in February
Journalist Beth Macy talked about her new book, Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample) on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday.
Macy’s previous book, Factory Man, was also admired by Maslin who said it is “in a class with other runaway debuts like Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit and Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers … Ms. Macy writes so vigorously that she hooks you instantly. You won’t be putting this book down.” The book was not quite as popular as the comparisons. It debuted at #10 on the New York Times Hardcover Non-fiction Best Sellers list during its first week on sale, remained on the main list for 3 weeks, and continued on the extended list for 4 more weeks.
An all-star cast is set to bring one of Simon Winchester’s most beloved nonfiction accounts to the the screen, The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (HC/Harper Perennial, 1998; OverDrive Sample).
Deadline Hollywood reports that Gibson will play Murray and that the project is a passion of his. He has been working on getting the adaptation made for “nearly two decades.” Penn will play Dr. W.C. Minor, the “madman” who contributed thousands of entries to the dictionary.
This is another turn in what may count as a comeback for Gibson. He is “fresh off the back of Venice Film Festival hit Hacksaw Ridge, a World War II drama” says Deadline, and he got strong reviews for this year’s Blood Father.
A string of high profile coverage has brought attention and sales to Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill, Candice Millard (PRH/Doubleday; RH Audio/BOT), causing the book to leap to #61 on Amazon’s sales rankings.
The NYT‘s Jennifer Senior, in a review that appeared in the paper yesterday, says the book’s mix of biography, history, war, and adventure is “as involving as a popcorn thriller.”
Summarizing Millard’s career, Senior continues “Over the years Millard has made a stylish niche for herself, zooming in on a brief, pivotal chapter in the life of a historical figure and turning it into a legitimate feature-length production.”
Other reviews similarly emphasize the author’s ability to make history come alive, USA Today calls it a “a slam-bang study of Churchill’s wit and wile as he navigates the Boer War like some porto-james Bond” and The Washington Post cites her formidable storytelling skills,
In addition, the Wall Street Journal interviews the author about her “distinctive approach to writing about historical giants” by focusing “tightly on a forgotten yet riveting episode in an extremely well-documented life.”
The Red Bandanna: Welles Crowther, 9/11, and the Path to Purpose by Tom Rinaldi (PRH/Penguin; Penguin Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) is rising on Amazon’s sales rankings, leaping over thousands of other titles to move from #6,305 to #15.
The book recounts the heroic actions of Welles Crowther who worked for an investment banking firm at the World Trade Center. Crowther had planned to leave the firm to join the fire department, finally fulfilling a life long dream.
He was still working for the bank on 9/11, 2001 and he sacrificed his life to save at least five others, leading people out of the tower and then returning to help more. He was identified by the red bandanna he wore as a mask against the smoke.
The NYT highlights Lett’s in the “Inside the List” feature, noting that while WWII is a perennially popular subject, recently it seems books on the “quirky corners of the war” are particularly gaining ground. Like The Monuments Men before it, Lett’s book recounts a little-known mission during the waning days of the war, to save prized Lipizzaner stallions. The Nazis had abducted the horses, stockpiling them as part of a plan to create a super breed. With the war ending, supplies short, and the Russian army closing in, the horses were in danger of being slaughtered for food. No less a figure than General Patton ordered the rescue.
Letts is the author of a previous best seller about a horse, The Eighty-Dollar Champion (2011).
Check your holds. Several libraries show spikes on modest ordering.
Check your orders, a new nonfiction account of the 1971 Attica Prison rebellion that led to a multi-day standoff, dozens of deaths, and a tense, politically charged aftermath, is making news and building a strong holds list.
Heather Ann Thompson’s Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy (PRH/Pantheon; OverDrive Sample) published this week is getting attention because, unlike previous authors and some news organizations, she names the officers she believes shot and killed inmates and, in friendly fire, the prison guards taken hostage during the standoff. CBS News reported the story, also highlighting Thompson’s discussion of then Gov. Nelson Rockefeller’s “secret efforts afterward to establish an acceptable narrative of what happened.”
Thompson’s account is also catching Hollywood’s attention. Variety reports it will make its way to movie theaters as TriStar Pictures just won a “heated bidding war” for film rights, with a production crew already named.
Libraries that bought it, ordered very few copies. Some are showing holds topping 5:1.
A circuitous publishing path has brought new attention to a frontier memoir, recounting the hardscrabble life in Arkansas and on the Mississippi Delta during the late 1800s and early 1900s, Trials of the Earth: The True Story of a Pioneer Woman, Mary Mann Hamilton (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample).
Featured on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday, the book is rising on Amazon, leapfrogging over a thousand other books to move from #1,170 to #76.
Hamilton’s life story first saw the light of day when a neighbor urged her to enter her journal into a writing competition sponsored by publisher Little, Brown in 1933. It did not win and languished in a box kept under a bed, until the University Press of Mississippi published it to little fanfare in 1992 (although it was reviewed by the New York Times). Coming full circle, Little, Brown, has just published a new edition.
NPR reviewer Maureen Corrigan calls it a “standout,” with a “blunt voice” that makes vivid the world Hamilton occupied. Highlighting a racist passage, she warns some of the “sections are ugly and tough to read” but that ultimately the book is rewarding, revealing the wildness of that world and “just how easy it was to vanish in an earlier America.”
USA Today gave it three out of four stars, writing it “underscores the huge power of unvarnished storytelling.”
The Chicago Tribune writes vividly about the “backbreaking labor” and wilderness Hamilton existed within, offering a picture of a woman tough as nails. In an especially intense example: soon after Hamilton gave birth, her home was cut off by flood waters, she “shelters with her daughter and three-month-old baby on a tree stump while bears swim past in the flood, not knowing whether her husband is dead or alive.”
Similar to the unexpected success of another frontier memoir, Pioneer Girl, holds are growing and inventory is low. In libraries we checked some systems are showing hold figures as high as 6:1.
Jeffrey Toobin wrote the definitive book about one of the highest profile crime of the 1990’s, The Run of His Life, about O. J. Simpson. The popularity of two recent TV series on the case, one of which is based on that book, demonstrate there is a strong interest in revisiting such stories.
Going back even further in his latest book, Toobin takes a new look at the story of the 1974 kidnapping and arrest of Patty Hearst: American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst, (PRH/Doubleday; OverDrive Sample).
Following in the footsteps of Toobin’s O.J. title, Deadline Hollywood reports film rights were acquired prior to publication.
Libraries ordered the book modestly and holds are growing as a result of media attention. In an almost hour long conversation on NPR’s Fresh Air, Toobin talks to an enthralled Terry Gross about the case.
Hearst was the 19-year-old granddaughter of the famous newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst and while her case was a sensation at the time, Toobin found that nothing new had been written about the case in decades and decided to investigate it again.
Placing the story in its time, Toobin calls the period a “toxic, dangerous, scary time in America. … During the early and mid ’70s, there were 1,000 — 1,000!— bombings a year in the United States … [due to] a violent political culture.”
In this environment “the Symbionese Liberation Army, a small, armed revolutionary group with an incoherent ideology and unclear goals” kidnapped Hearst – at a point in her life where she was at “a particularly vulnerable and restless moment in her life … uniquely receptive to new influences.”
Against the standard story line that Hearst was brainwashed or suffering from Stockholm syndrome, Toobin argues that she “responded rationally to the circumstances she was confronted with at each stage of the process” and joined her kidnappers in their crimes.
Under her own power, says Toobin, she committed real harm, “She robbed three banks. She shot up a street in Los Angeles. She helped plant bombs in several places in northern California.”
Toobin says she “had multiple opportunities to escape over a year and a half. She went to the hospital for poison oak and she could’ve told the doctor, ‘Oh by the way, I’m Patty Hearst.’ She was caught in an inaccessible place while hiking and the forest rangers helped her out, and she could’ve said, ‘Oh by the way, I’m Patty Hearst.’ She didn’t escape because she didn’t want to escape.”
She was eventually captured and sent to prison for 7 years, but only served 22 months before President Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence. President Bill Clinton pardoned her years later. Toobin calls both actions “the purest example of privilege on display that frankly I have ever seen in the criminal justice system.”
In her advanced NYT review, Janet Maslin writes, “As Mr. Toobin sees it, Patty — now Patricia again — was always an adroit opportunist, never a deep thinker, and remained an artful pragmatist under any circumstances.”
The Washington Post calls it “terrific” and “riveting” book, a “lurid crime story with its own toxic mix of race, class, celebrity and sex.”
Premiering tomorrow night, August 2, on PBS American Experience is a documentary titled The Boys of ’36, based on the bestseller The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown (Penguin/Viking; Penguin Audio; Thorndike).
Both Jackson and director David Yates tell Variety that Williams deserves a film of his own. Unfortunately, however, this movie may not make the best case for it. The LA Times writes, “Part comic relief, part valued ally, Williams is an altogether puzzling script component, and Jackson’s habit of sounding like he just stepped out of Pulp Fiction does not help things.”
For more about Williams and this period, two backlist titles are available:
George Washington Williams: A Biography, written by the Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient John Hope Franklin (Duke UP, 1998)